Friday, January 30, 2009

An Illustration of the Insane Pace of my Life

As of lately, my life has taken on, well... a life of its own... that is to say, without me. And it's very irritating, to say the least. I have been moving at the speed of light since Jan 1 and have not had a break. It's been one thing after another. A car accident, a heavy schedule, a stomach virus... ... ...

The reasons this annoys me...
  1. I haven't written a single new page the whole month of Jan. (OK, let's back up... actually I didn't write a single new page the whole month of Dec either. (I might as well be honest.))
  2. I feel like I have no control over my day and what I want to do with it. Before I know it, my day is over, my To DO list is still two pages long, and again, no writing got done

As, I've posted before, I write for real estate. The winter is the time I get my own personal writing done as it is usually a very slow time for the market. People don't usually list their homes now. They wait for the spring when for sale signs pop up like daisies. BUT... I've actually been busy this winter and the momentum is building. I can feel it.

To be honest, I can't even really explain what exactly is making me so hurried, but I feel I can't catch my breath. Here's a typical day of the week, for example.

  1. wake up at 7, get the kids and myself ready for the day
  2. kids missed the bus, now I have to add driving them to school to my list
  3. drive them to school, pick up my coffee (this is a MUST)
  4. go to work
  5. 12:30 see a house or two for copy review
  6. pick up kids from school
  7. drive number one to flute lessons
  8. grab dinner on the go
  9. go to the library for my writer's group meeting
  10. finally come home at 10:00 pm

Today, my planner was a beautiful thing. See, under the date, Friday, January 30th, 2009, it was blank! NOTHING - that's right, nada, bupkus, empty. Plus, I don't have a car - it's being serviced, so I can't go anywhere. It's not only a beautiful thing, it's a RARE thing, as well. I couldn't WAIT for today. All week I just kept thinking of Friday. I'll get through today and it will almost be Friday. Two more days and it will be Friday. Go to bed and when I wake up, it will be Friday.

My plans for today...

  1. write copy
  2. work on novel
  3. do laundry
  4. pack (child number 2 and I are going away this weekend)

I woke up my normal time. Got my kids off to school AND on the bus - sorry, no exceptions today - Mommy doesn't have a car! *insert maniacal laughter* Read a ton of work emails, answered all of them. That's when I started to veer... Hmm, I thought, I have some time. I haven't read or commented on any of my friend's blogs in a while.... a few hours later... I felt the whiz and whir of life speed up again. With hurry in my heart, I jumped in the shower, rushed to get dressed and ready, ran down stairs, made lunch, ate so fast, I barely tasted it when all of a sudden...

...lunch wasn't agreeing with me. My stomach didn't feel so hot. Oh, no. I couldn't have caught the stomach virus... I gazed up at the clock -

10:30 AM????

THIS is my point! I have become so accustomed to rushing and time flying by, that I assumed it was lunch time! I just can't seem to slow myself down even when life has given me the chance. I am THAT used to the rush.

So, how do you slow down your life when it wheels out of control?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

2009 Newbery Award Winner

Did you hear that the American Library Association just announced their 2009 children's literature award winners? And among them was Neil Gaiman, author of “The Graveyard Book,” illustrated by Dave McKean and published by HarperCollins Children’s Books. Gaiman won the coveted 2009 John Newbery Medal for the most distinguished contribution to children’s literature.

Have any of you read this book yet?

I have read only the first few pages. I am confused. A book written for children... begins with a man and a sharp knife who has broken into a house and has killed the mother, father, and oldest child. And so the youngest child, is the only survivor and I'm not sure why at this point, but he must live in a graveyard.

Like I said, I have not read this book. It strikes me as inappropriate for this young age group and so I want to hear from those of you whom have read it. Please fill us in. Would you have given it your vote for a Newbery? Is it less gruesome than its beginning? Is it gruesome in an appropriate way - seems an oxymoron to me... Very paradoxical - writing a tale of a heinous murder for kids. At first glance, I put the book down, deciding I didn't want my kids to read it, but clearly I have missed something very huge! And now I am intrigued and filled with wonder...

Have you read it? What do you think? And let's share our views on when we think we've gone too far and have crossed that line that maybe we shouldn't cross in children's literature... Or maybe we have to cross - to make big, bold choices - in order to say something just as big and as bold...

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Jason Tagged Me!

Jason tagged me and I'm grateful for a fun and lighthearted topic to write about.

In the words of Jason, the rules are to:
1. Link to the person who tagged you
2. Write down six things that make you happy
3. Post these rules
4. Tag six others
5. Notify me that you've tagged six others--or that you're not in a happy place right now...

Happy Things
  1. The feel of the warm summer sun on my skin
  2. tickling my kids
  3. a long, loving hug from my family
  4. being outside in nature, among the trees, or by water
  5. (hasn't happened yet but...) hearing the words "We'd like to buy your book and we'd like to also offer you a movie deal" (it can happen...)
  6. being with fellow writers who inspire me and I inspire in return

Now I tag...

Well, instead of making it specific... if you're looking for a topic to write about, consider yourself TAGGED. Let us know you are going to play along in the comment section... of just answer your happy 6 in the comment section.

Thanks Jason!

Monday, January 19, 2009

A Strange Predicament

I find myself in a rather strange predicament; I have nothing to say lately.

Now, some philosophers might argue that saying "I have nothing to say" is technically saying something. And I suppose I'd have to agree. But, even with that said, I find myself rather subdued these days and with nothing fascinating or interesting to report.

I am in a very quiet and contemplative place. But that quiet contemplation is not describable with words. It's just quiet. This is not an easy feeling for a writer who, as I've said in the past, flies on wordy wings - the wordiest of all, most times.

I have been wondering though lately... do you think the classics would be successful if written today? I don't think they would. I don't mean written today with today's style. I mean if they were written as they were then but tried to be sold today.

I recently saw Charles Dickens' David Copperfield and although I know watching a movie and reading a book are often more dissimilar than similar, I found David a boring character. It was all the periphery characters that were most interesting, flawed, and grew/changed. Even though David had a horrible childhood, as many of Dickens' child character do, he grew up well, despite his horrors and never showed any sign of being affected.

Secondly, he didn't even bring about or solve the battle scene. He was just simply the sun of some strange universe filled with other more remarkable planets.

So, I reflect on what sells today... what sold yesterday... and how they are different.

Today, readers expect or anticipate that your main character will be the most flawed or unique and will go through the most change, there-by changing those around him/her. Was that always true of the classics? No. Yet, they've survived the test of time. Is that always true of today's characters? No. Look at Twilight. Bella didn't really "change" until the last book. And I would argue that her "change" wasn't even really a "change?" She was still the same character but stronger, more balanced, and prettier. (Of course I still have about 100 pages to go before I am done, so perhaps I am premature in my conclusion...)

Well, look at that! I guess, I had something to talk about after all. But even still... in this very wintry of winters... my mind seems to be hibernating. Quiet and contemplative, like the snow, once again falling outside my window....

Do you think the classics would sell in today's market? Why or why not?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Writer's Resolutions 2009

Hope 2009 is treating you all well. And if it started out rough, like it did for me, I hope you are in a better place mentally now. I began my new year by angrily questioning the Universe, "Why THIS lesson again? WHY??????? I thought I learned it already!"

Once I calmed down, I was able to see that it is not the lesson that shows us what we've learned, but how we deal with the trials and tribulations of life that REALLY illustrate what we've mastered. And so, now that I am in a proper frame of mind once again, I want to talk about resolutions.

But I am not speaking about resolutions to lose weight or exercise more… Those are important goals too. After all, your health IS important. I am speaking about my favorite kind of resolutions - Writer's Resolutions of course!

Whether it be to sell a magazine article, finish three dummies in the year, or polish your manuscript, setting goals is the first step to obtaining them. Without setting a goal in writing, it is too easy to forget or forgo. Something magical happens when you put something in writing. We all know this - after all, we're all writers! But when you put something in writing, you automatically become accountable. Don't know where to start? Start small and obtainable.

Feel free to borrow any of these goals if you can't come up with your own…

  1. Make a space that is just for you and your writing. A place where you and only you go to write.
  2. Decide on an amount of time you will try to write each day or each week. For example…. I will write two hours five days a week, rain or shine. Or… I will write ten hours a week.
  3. Some novelists like to work with word count instead of time. So maybe your goal could be… This year I will strive to write 5,000 a week. (Believe me, that goes fast! Take it from a past NaNoWriMo contestant!)
  4. Maybe you've had a novel (harrumph!) you've been working on for quite sometime so your goal is to (once and for all, for crying out loud, G-d willing) finish the (darn!) thing.
  5. Maybe it's to read more books in your sub-genre… This year I will read 20 books in my field.
  6. Maybe it's to test your book to a live audience… This year I will reach out to schools or libraries to see if I can read my books to a classroom and test it out on a live audience.
  7. Or here's my favorite… I will treat my writing like a business and be present each day, ready to work as if my livelihood depends on it.

Whatever your dreams are, turn them into goals. And then watch your goals become reality!

Happy Writing!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Start at the End

The secret is to start a story near the ending. — Chris Offut
I really like this quote from Chris Offut.

It's like my screenwriting professor once told me, "Come in a scene late and leave early." I think it's the same mentality. Start so the reader has to think - No. WANTS to think - wants to figure it out. And end the story so the reader feels s/he has done so successfully, and yet is satisfied, perhaps, by the things s/he couldn't figure out that you, the writer explained.

Makes it sound so simple, doesn't it? But we all know it's not. Maybe that's the secret - start near the end - but I wonder where the blueprints are? It's one thing to KNOW something but another entirely to be able to do it.

But as grandiose as it sound, this is what I will strive for in my novel. I don't know at what point I'll accomplish this tall task or if I ever will, but this is my goal. I'm not there yet. I'm a long way from being there. Somehow I feel when I write the ending of my novel, I will know the beginning.

What do you all think about Chris Offut's quote? What ideal do you strive to reach in your craft?

Monday, January 5, 2009


I have to say, 2009 has me a bit worried, a bit scared, a bit... well, ill at ease.

So far, 2009 is off to a rough start for me...
I've been in a minor fender bender and have heard just a lot of sad news this first week of the year. I won't go into details because I don't want to be a total downer, but have any of you had a rough start to the New Year?

Here's a funny video to cheer me up and anyone else out there having a rough start to 2009...

Wishing you all a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year!!!
“Personal limitation exists only in our ideas of who we are. Give up all notions of who you are and your limitations will vanish.”

- Anonymous