Friday, June 25, 2010

Letters from students

I was reading this article by Ingrid Roper on Publishers Weekly online blog about Patricia MacLachlan, award winning author of one of my favorite books, Sarah Plain and Tall. In this question- and- answer session, Ms. MacLachlan mentions school visits and how it contributed to her new book, Word After Word After Word. That peaked my interest because I do quite a few school visits myself. She too gets letters from the children and I can relate with the questions they ask, i.e., how much money do you make, where do you get your ideas, how much do you revise, etc.  Here is one letter from a student during one of my school visits.

"Writing... is ... brave. You are brave." – Patricia MacLachlan (Word After Word After Word)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Happiness Award

Yesterday I received a pleasant surprise. An award! A fellow writer, Catherine Winn, honored me with the Happiness Award. How cool is that! She had lovely comments about my blog on her blog, which by the way is super. When she got this award, she listed the ten things that make her happy. Here are mine.

1. A good cup of coffee in the morning.
2. Watching the birds building a nest in my back yard.
3. Visiting with my children and grandchildren.
4. Getting an “aha” moment when I’m writing.
5. Relaxing with a good book that has “spirit.”
6. A good movie and dinner with friends.
7. A flower that suddenly sprouts overnight and surprises me in the morning.
8. Art that touches my soul.
9. Exuberant faces of children when I do a school visit.
10. Gentle breezes.

What ten things make you happy? I think for most of us, it’s the simple things in life that we cherish. I am grateful for my many blessings. Have a great writing day!

Monday, June 14, 2010


I don’t know about you, but I love great bargains. I just came from our local Half-Price book store where everything is half price. Sometimes even lower than half price. Most of the books are used, but many are new. I love it when I find what I call “gems.” I found an old Don Quixote book (with illustrations no less) for under five dollars. So what if it’s an old book published years ago; it’s still a good read and I happen to love old books.

I especially like it when I find books on writing. One book I’m looking forward to reading is The Little Red Writing Book. No kidding, the cover is RED and it’s got a wolf illustrated on the cover. Neat! This one I found discounted at B&N. I browsed through it and found it pretty interesting. Has principles of structure, style, and readability and grammar. All great tools a writer needs, wouldn’t you say? But like I recently read in a writer’s magazine, you can read all these books on writing but unless you sit down in that chair and WRITE, it won’t do you any good. So absorb all you can from these books but then take your craft seriously and write that novel that only you can write.
I highly recommend visiting Verla Kay’s blog for tons of information for published authors including contract negotiations, school and author visits, promotion of your book, the business end of publishing, etc.

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

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Half of 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.

 For book lovers, here’s a quote that one of my writer friends emailed to me. Enjoy.

Giving Someone a Book Has 'Undeniable, Totemic Power'

"Of course, you don't have to buy a book to read it, but the act of giving someone a book of his or her own has an undeniable, totemic power. As much as we love libraries, there is something in possessing a book that's significantly different from borrowing it, especially for a child. You can write your name in it and keep it always. It transforms you into the kind of person who owns books, a member of the club, as well as part of a family that has them around the house. You're no longer just a visitor to the realm of the written word: You've got a passport."

--Laura Miller in her Salon essay, "Book owners have smarter kids."

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Rejection Letters

We all get them at one time or another – rejection letters. Like most writers, I’m sorely disappointed when I get one. After calling my writer friends and basking in a couple days’ sympathy, I put aside my disappointment, reread the manuscript, make changes if I feel it is needed, and resubmit elsewhere. We need to remember to not take it personally. Maybe the editor already had a similar story. Or maybe it wasn’t what they were looking for. Unless you keep getting rejection after rejection on the same manuscript – then you need to take a good look and find out what the problem is.

“Was it a good rejection?” one might ask. By which I mean, were there constructive comments in the letter. Many times, some editors will take the time to jot down significant feedback, which is always appreciated. My advice is to keep submitting, hang in there, and it will happen. Your story will find the right publisher.

Here's Bethany Roberts' neat blog, which addresses how to deal with rejection letters and other writing tips.

 "The biggest mistake a writer can make is not taking the time to fully understand the publications, publishing houses, or literary agents she queries." -- Writing tip from Writer's Digest Weekly Planner