Monday, July 27, 2009

I Won an Award!

I'd like to thank everyone at the academy... Ahem.... Oh sorry - that was a day dream. But I'd like to thank Amy Tate over at the Virginia Scribe for honoring me with this prestigious and beautiful award...

The Superior Scribbler

Isn't it pretty?

I'd like to thank Amy also for her patience because silly, over-taxed me took a long time to noticed I'd won this award. If we lived closer - not separated by a couple eastern states, I think she would have knocked me over the head with it. (And not to worry, Amy - your critique is coming. Really...)

Anyway now I am supposed to post these rules and follow them....

  1. Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass The Award on to 5 most-deserving Bloggy buds.
  2. Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author & the name of the blog from whom he/she has received The Award.
  3. Each Superior Scribbler must display The Award on his/her blog, and link to this post, which explains The Award.
  4. Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit this post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List. That way, we'll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives This Prestigious Honor! (honestly, I have no idea what the heck this means... So I will skip this rule and so can you if you'd like...)
  5. Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.

And the award goes to...

All of you deserve one but in honor of the rules... the Scribbler goes to;

  1. PJ Hoover
  2. Casey McCormick
  3. Kelly Hoeckelberg-Young
  4. Jean Wogaman
  5. Rebecca at Rebecca Writes

Congratulations to not only these five writers but to all of us who...

  • put faith in our stories even when no one has asked us to write them
  • write despite a bad cold or being up into the wee hours of the night with a sick child
  • pick ourselves up to write again even after a rejection letter, an unfavorable critique , or you plain feel writing a novel is next to impossible
  • write because we simply have no other choice

Happy writing everyone!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Books on the Craft of Writing

We've all read 'em... How to Books on the craft of writing.

I am currently reading Richard Peck's Invitations to the World. I'm kinda-sorta enjoying it. Some chapters are about teaching in a world where kids grow up in families without dads or in families with both parents working, so no adults are ever home. He talks about teaching in a world where the present becomes the past in a nanosecond.

Then, some other chapters are about when he was a kid and the vast difference between then and now; How when he was young, you lived in a community and fathers were home for supper at 5:00 and you learned to negotiate life by living it, not by playing virtual versions of it.

Then other chapters are where he quotes himself from his plethora of novels to show this point or that point about character and voice.

So far, it is not moving and shaking my world. As a speaker, Richard Peck is my hero. He made me laugh. He made me cry. He recieved a standing ovation at this year's NJ SCBWI June Conference. But I am finding it hard to remember what I've read in this book. FOr me, the format does not lend itself well for sticktoitiveness. I like the chapters best where he talks about his past. And I even like parts of the chapters where he talks about today's youth. But I find the chapters where he quotes himself indulgent, if I can be so honest.

So, how about it... What are your absolute most favorite, must reads for writers today? If the world were ending and you were allowed to bring one How to be a Better Writer book with you to our new planet, what one would you bring and what did it teach you?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Summer Goals, Week Two

OK, It's time for weekly goals people! So, hop to it and post them in the comments section. How did this week go? Did you reach your goals or not? If so, bravo, keep up the good work, but if not, why? Let's talk it through and help one another.

Don't be shy? Who's first? OK, I'll go. My week was not so bright and shiny....

Novel Title: OW
Novel Draft: 1.6
Date: 7-20 -09

Goal: 1. To assess exactly how much time I need to complete this novel
2. To set up a schedule for next two weeks while kids are in camp.

a. this week – kids leave at 8:40. I will begin writing at 9 and then stop at 11:45 to pick them up from camp.

b. Absolutely no answering the telephone, making phone calls, checking email, writing email, checking my blog, checking my work email during these hours.

3. Send out next set of pages to my group for review by Monday.

4. Write at least 25 new pages this week – NEW pages, not revising previously written pages.

5. I am giving myself until Sept 20 to finish this novel once and for all. If I am not done by then, I am going to put it aside for a while and begin working on something new.

Actually Accomplished:
NOT MUCH! This was a very bad week. I was in a very low place and I allowed it to effect my work and cloud my judgment.

I re-read chapters I thought were well done and hated them. This sent me in a tailspin of doom and gloom – I’ll never be good enough, I’ll never finish, I might as well stop right now and admit defeat, start a new novel, etc. etc. etc.

It’s Monday morning and I’m still here, sitting at my desk ready to get to work on my WIP no more whining or bellyaching. Once and for all, just get to it!

Thursday, July 16, 2009


Did you ever read your lasted WIP and think, "Do over!"

That is exactly how I am feeling right now. I just re-read chapter 13, which I loved last week and thought, "UGH! I want to start over!"

How do I resist this pull? I've been down this road before and always answer its call. I MUST FINISH THIS DRAFT! But right now, I just want to scrap it and start again.... again...


Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

I have a book-crush... ... ... OK, for my regular readers, I know it is really no surprise. But I have a book crush on Harry Potter. There! I said it. And I feel so much better getting it out in the open. *Sigh* I just love Harry. He's the true shining example of a hero's journey. He was not born a hero (that is debatable, really). He was made a hero. He disbelieved. He believed. He distrusted. He trusted. He faltered. He succeeded. He tried. He failed. He tried again. He feared. He was brave. He was everyone's best friend - well, at least in the reader's world. Maybe not so much among Slytherins or Death Eaters.

I am so inspired right now I feel like I could run a mile! I saw HP yesterday on opening day and it was (can I sound like a teenager for a minute) TOTALLY AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!

Oh, to BE JK Rowling! To create something that becomes a thread forever sewn into our societal fabric! To leave your mark and change the world. To create characters that the young and (not so) old want to read about and watch again and again. To create something that fans line up to see for ten years or more. To create the emotive connections between readers and characters so that when the characters in your head are "brought to life" on the silver screen, we viewers feel we know them, miss them, understand what is not said. *Sigh* Oh, to be JK Rowling.

As you all know I, at first, was a reluctant Harry reader. I went in kicking and screaming and dragging my feet and came out head over heals in love with the series, the characters, the world, and most of all with JK. Can I say, I know we are not supposed to have idols but JK - you are my idol!

I left the theater thinking, I want to do that. I want to be like JK. I want to write something that changes the minds of readers forever. I want to create something so vivid, so luring, that you can't look away and you crave more, more, more!

I also realized, I believe the key to such success is you have to have a boy MC. See, girls will read about a girl or boy MC but boys will only read about a boy MC. So, in order to really be able to span across the markets, you need to have a boy MC. This is nothing new and earth shattering for those of us who have been busily pursing publication. We've always known this, perhaps. But I so solidly understood the full scope of it yesterday as I passed scads and scads of movie-goers lined up for the 7:00 show. They were young. They were teens. They were adults.... (BTW, Harry and the Half Blood broke all movie sale records from the midnight showing ALONE!!!!) *Sigh*

I decided I have a lot of work to do! Not only do I have to finish this draft, but I think I need to write, if not an entire version, perhaps key chapters from my other character's POV to beef up my boy element. Also, after I complete this draft, I need to begin thinking beyond this novel into my grander scope, broader arc of the series.

Sometimes, when I see someone like JK Rowling or Walt Disney, who began as an "unknown" and had an idea, a simple concept, and I see how their perseverance paid off, how they used their talents to effect the world in a positive way, I marvel at such people and the good we can accomplish. I think, how, if we are capable of creating such beauty, such awe, such ingenuity, how then, can we not solve starvation, war, pollution? How can we capture the butterflies of love's first kiss and still not be able to live peacefully.

RUN, don't walk! Go see Harry. If I could, I would have walked right out of the 4:20 showing to the end of the long, winding line for the 7:00 showing! It was THAT good.

Now, go! Write! Be inspired! Inspire others! Use your talents for good!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Weekly Summer Writing Goals. Wanna Play???

It's back... Summer Goals. If any of you would like to join in with me to keep each other motivated, inspired, and on-track, please join in in the comments section.

What are Summer Goals? Exactly what it sounds like. Every week you will set your writer's goal for the week. Maybe it's a word count. Maybe a revision. Maybe you need to cut words, etc. Whatever your goal, just state it and then tell us if you were able to accomplish last week's goal, why or why not.

My turn...
Novel Title: OWE
Novel Draft: 1.6
Date: 7-13 -09

What I Accomplished Last Week:
Well, I posted my goals late (via email to fellow Summer Goals Writers) so I knew it was a lot to tackle in a short amount of time and so I am not surprised to admit that I did not reach my goal. I see now though, that my goal will remain my goal probably for many weeks, most likely the rest of July. I did read chapter 12 and saw it was laden with problems and so I began rewriting. I know, I know. I wasn't supposed to do that but it's better now and I feel better about that chapter. I noticed chapter 13 was far too long and so I divided it up into chapter 13 and my now chapter 14. I also really like my new chapter 13. This is where I stopped working due to a very busy and full weekend.

Didn’t reach my goal. BLECH! It was really hard to flex my writing muscles after many months away from my novel. It was slow going at first to get in touch with my writing-self. I felt very low and overwhelmed like I will never, never, ever complete this novel. *whine* When life takes you away from your desired goal and you come back to it after months away, the task feels HUGE and unobtainable. I do feel better now and I know if I just keep at it, I will eventually, sooner or later (hopefully sooner) finish my novel. But it is so hard to get back on track after a long hiatus. It truly is like exercising. (Speaking of… yeah, I should begin doing that again too!) *Sigh*

Once I did get in touch with the writer-part of myself, it felt very good. And even though I shouldn't have been writing new pages (according to last week's goal), it was good to be writing anyway. I feel chapters 12 and 13 are exciting and move the story forward. It felt so good to write again.

Goal for this week:

  • Re-familiarize myself with my outline; add, delete, change accordingly
  • Continue to re-familiarize myself with my story by reading current pages from chapter 14 on
  • Edit as little as possible (if possible)
  • Try to keep chapters to 5 - 6 pages each. Divide chapters where necessary

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Art Reflects Life

How many of you have ever heard the Boomtown Rats song, I Don't Like Monday's?

Growing up in the 70s, I recall this song. I can sing almost every lyric, still. Although the song came out when I was twelve in 1979, it was still popular by the time I reached HS. I remember driving to school, listening to WPLJ play this song like a Monday morning anthem. I'd drive with the windows rolled down (when the weather was nice), and sing on the top of my lungs, Tell me why? I don't like Mondays. Tell me why? I don't like Mondays. Tell me why? I don't like Mondays. I want to shoo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oot the whole day down....

It was also common knowledge, in those days, that the Boomtown Rats wrote that song based on a real life tragedy. Today, when people think of school shootings, their minds jump to Columbine. And, truly, that was a horrible, horrific, unthinkable tragedy. But, sadly school shootings have been happening for many, many decades.

The Boomtown Rats did, in fact, write this song based on a 1979 tragedy that took place on a Monday morning, on January 29. The shooter, Brenda Ann Spencer, was 16-years old. She was given a gun as a present from her father. She lived across the street from an elementary school in San Diego, California and decided it would be "fun" to open fire and shoot the children, teachers, passersby, etc. like a shooting gallery. When she was later questioned she replied, "I don't like Mondays. This livens up the day." Spencer showed utterly no remorse and even said it was "fun." She killed two men and wounded eight children and a police officer. She currently sits in a California prison where her parole has been denied numerous times. She is up for parole again this year - 2009. At 46, she's practically lived her whole life in prison.

Why do I bring up this unspeakable event? Because, as artists, we hold a responsibility to tell about life and the world we live in, that one day will become history. We can use our gifts to tell about the trials, tribulations, or triumphs of life. The Boomtown Rats were plagued and haunted by Spencer's cold reasoning and it prompted them to write a song that I am positive, if you lived in the 70s (and were not a baby or a toddler) you remember it. They took life and made art.

Look around you. What if you were a child growing up today? What would you think about, worry about, be afraid of, or excited for? It is not the same world we grew up in and yet, somethings never change. Our job, as writers of children's literature, is to reach today's children. They live in a time when we've elected the first black President, whether you voted for him or not. I was born only 13 years after segregation ended! We live now in a time when our economy is frighteningly unstable. When I grew up, the United States had the strongest world economy. Times have changed, time has stood still, and we, the artists, the writers, must capture our time. Re-frame it, structure it, learn from it so we teach from it. We need to tell our story but reach today's children.

Will you be like the Boomtown Rats? Will you take life and turn it into art? What piece of today will you capture in your stories? What lesson do you hope to teach?

Thank you, Kathleen Conners, for inspiring today's posting. It is not one of her favorite songs, but look how thirty years later, we are still discussing the song and the story behind it.

I don't Like Mondays Lyrics
The silicon chip inside her head
Gets switched to overload
And nobody’s gonna go to school today
She’s gonna make them stay at home
And daddy doesn’t understand it
He always said she was good as gold
And he can see no reasons
'Cos there are no reasons
What reason do you need to be show-ow-ow-ow-own?

Tell me why
I don’t like Mondays
Tell me why
I don’t like Mondays
Tell me why
I don’t like Mondays
I wanna shoo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oot the whole day down

The Telex machine is kept so clean
And it types to a waiting world
And mother feels so shocked
Father’s world is rocked
And their thoughts turn to their own little girl
Sweet 16 ain’t that peachy keen
Now that ain’t so neat to admit defeat
They can see no reasons
'Cos there are no reasons
What reasons do you need?
Oh Oh Oh Oh

Tell me why
I don’t like Mondays
Tell me why
I don’t like Mondays
Tell me why
I don’t like Mondays
I wanna shoo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oot
The whole day down, down, down,
shoot it all down

And all the playing's stopped in the playground now
She wants to play with the toys a while
And school's out early and soon we'll be learning
And the lesson today is how to die
And then the bullhorn crackles
And the captain tackles (With the problems of the how's and why's)
And he can see no reasons
'Cos there are no reasons
What reason do you need to die, die?
Oh Oh Oh

Tell me why
I don’t like Mondays
Tell me why
I don’t like Mondays
Tell me why
I don’t like
I don’t like (Tell me why)
I don’t like Mondays
Tell me why
I don’t like
I don’t like (Tell me why)
I don’t like Mondays
Tell me why
I don't like Mondays
I wanna shoo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oot the whole day down

“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