Monday, November 29, 2010

Writer's Goals

Trying to get back into the routine of writing is pretty hard after the Thanksgiving holiday. With all the hustle and bustle of family and friends, it takes a while to get back to the PC and pick up where you left off on your manuscript. But that’s exactly what I’m doing. I don’t want to lose too much momentum here.

I’m also thinking ahead to 2011. What are my writing goals for next year? It’s not too early to start planning. The year is almost gone. Where did it go? Is time flying fast for you too? Have you met some of the goals you set at the beginning of the year? I know I haven’t. As the months go by, we tend to forget the enthusiasm we felt around the New Year – all kinds of expectations about where our writing will take us.

Have we pitched those stories we were going to pitch? Have we done our market research? Have we finished that story that needs to be finished? I’ve done a lot of things so far, but I still have a long way to go. Right now I’m trying to squeeze some reading in too. But I’m working on time management as well. Go back and revisit that list that you started at the beginning of the year. It feels good to check off a few off the list.

Santa Fe
 "The scariest moment is always just before you start." - Stephen King (On Writing)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Book Journey

Well, the book signing was a great success! I had so much fun seeing friends and family show up for this event. I did a short presentation of how a book is born, from idea to final publication. Had a brief question-and-answer session, then on to signing books. Lots of pictures taken. The community relations manager at Barnes & Noble was fantastic. Had everything arranged very nicely for the book signing and made me, the author, feel special. I really appreciate that.

Before the launching of a book, the author has to do some leg work to start promoting the book. Nowadays, most publishers have limited budgets and so they are glad when the author is out there presenting the book before the public. Way in advance, the author should be making plans for the promotion, i.e., having a list of invitees for the book signing, collaborating with the book stores on schedules, promoting on websites and blogs, book reviews, school visits, word of mouth, etc. A launching is very exciting because your book is finally finished but the journey is just beginning.

Many thanks for the support from family, friends, and fellow writers.

"The hand of the artist, a little stained with paint around fingernails, must be seen. The voice of the writer, passionate and idiosyncratic, must be heard. And whether it is through adventure or humor or pathos, the story and pictures must always touch the heart." -- Rosemary Wells

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Writing Spark

Do you ever lose the spark for writing? There are days and there are days for me. Sometimes I’m really enthused about whatever it is I’m writing about. Other days, it just isn’t happening. Nathan Bransford, has interesting comments on his blog forum about what happens when you lose that spark in writing and how some writers cope with it.

Which brings me to a couple of days ago when I was feeling guilty for not wanting to write but instead wanting to visit one of our local museums or missions. A waste of time away from writing, I thought. But then I read YA author Veronica Roth’s blog and changed my mind. As soon as I can, I am taking a special day off and will browse those historical places in town that I love. I believe it will make me a better writer.

Roth’s blog sort of connects with the same topic of losing that spark. That’s why I listed it here. She writes, “I am learning that you cannot write well if you are not engaged with the world. The writing mind is like an ice cream maker. It will always produce ice cream, but unless you intervene, that ice cream will always be vanilla. You have to acquire new ingredients if you want to make the ice cream taste like something else, or have an interesting texture.”

Have a great Thanksgiving!
"Nothing one ever experiences or feels is wasted." -- Lynne Reid Banks

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Opportunity for Writing

Remember that blog a few days ago when I mentioned being distracted from my writing by a squirrel on my neighbor's roof right outside my window? I had to laugh when I read the following article, “Squirrels in the Attic,” by Ruth Schiffman from the Institute of Children’s Literature online newsletter. In it, she mentions squirrels in her attic and how she turned this into an opportunity for writing. Read it and I'm sure you’ll think it’s funny too.

I kind of did the same thing one day when a woodpecker made holes in my neighbor's wooden chimney and then came over and pecked, pecked, pecked on the side of my house. It was irritating. This went on for days.The woodpecker (I named him Oscar) would visit early in the morning, waking me up with all the noise. I ended up writing a short children’s story about Oscar making him the main character. The reason I did that is because Oscar had an "attitude." One day I went outside and actually took his picture while he pecked on the wood. It didn't faze him. He looked at me and went back to his pecking. I filed the story in my “someday go back and revise” folder. Come to think of it, I might just take it out right now and have a look. Ms. Schiffman has motivated me to do just that. Yea!

River Walk
“I dive into a story the way I dive into the sea, prepared to splash about and make merry.” – E.B. White

Thursday, November 4, 2010


I was talking to a lady last week who told me she’s always wanted to write but is afraid of critiques. Why? I asked. “Because I can’t take it,” was her reply. “I can’t stand being told it’s not good or something.” Which brings me to an article I just read in the September 2010 issue of Writer’s Digest, “Develop a Thick Skin,” by Steve Almond and Sheila Bender. Part of the article reads, “You have to recognize criticism and rejection as a necessary step in the process . . . you have an obligation to recognize in these disappointments the seeds of your own improvement. Because if you can’t accept your failures at the keyboard … you simply won’t get any better.”

If the dynamics of a critique group are right, I think being in one is of immense value. I found a good blog, Right-Writing, that offers tips on how to find and join a critique group. Written by editor/writer, Terry Whalin, he offers advice on how to organize a critique meeting, how to critique one another’s work, whether fiction or nonfiction, and what are the advantages of joining such a group. I highly recommend being in a critique group. It will enhance your writing skills and make you lasting friendships.

"I always yield to the inevitability of events in my novels even when it causes me to shift course, toss away pages and notes and make sudden revisions." -- Robert Cormier

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Novel

A Novel

I found literary agent for Curtis Brown Nathan Bransford’s blog on “How to Write a Novel,” super helpful. If you’re planning to write a novel or if you are in the middle of one, this is a good link. He addresses Main Plot Arc and how to start and end it. He writes about the protagonist, about setting “… it’s more than just where your novel takes place …. ” and addresses Style and Voice, “ … your own personal style is nothing like anyone else’s …” He then closes with the Climax and, of course, Revision.

Another blog that I enjoyed was the Looking Glass Review. It’s loaded with information on book reviews, author profiles, numerous authors’ websites, award-winning books, and so on. Take a peek and you’ll agree.

Best of luck on that novel that you’re writing right now and the one you’re planning to start. The beautiful tiled mural below is in the Sunset Valley library where I did a school visit two weeks ago.

Mural - Sunset Valley Elementary

“Be bold! Be aware and appreciative of differences for it is said: ‘He who thinks all fruit ripens at the same time as the fig has never tasted grapes.’” – Mildred Pitts Walter