Saturday, June 30, 2012

Author of the Month Radio Interview

I was honored to be featured as Arte Publico Press’ Author of the Month and interviewed by producer Eric Ladau on the Public Radio Houston Affiliate station, KUHA-FM, Classical91.7. To listen to the interview online, click on KUHA’s web site above. I hope you enjoy it. 

 “Nothing one ever experiences or feels is wasted.” – Lynne Reid Banks

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Children's Writers' Resources

One of Writer’s Digest best 101 writers’ websites for 2011 and 2012 is Rachelle Burke’s Resources for Children’s Writers’ blog. According to her blog, her resources will “help you improve your writing, network with other writers, get published, and sell your work.” Once you’re on her blog, scroll all the way to the bottom, past the index, and you will find so many links to writers’ resources, you’ll have to visit and revisit her blog to get through all of them.

I linked to a few of them and discovered a wealth of information that writers can use. So pick your topic, visit her website, and follow those links. She’s put them all together for you.

A Pinata Workshop

“What makes children a uniquely satisfying audience is that they choose their favorite writers uninfluenced by trends or fashions.” – Connie Epstein

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Creating Mystery Novels

Some of my writer friends are good at creating mystery novels. Unfortunately, I am not. I struggle with this type of writing. I don’t even know how to start. Are you like me? I really have a lot to learn when it comes to writing mysteries. I have never tried that genre. Maybe someday I will.   

Here are excerpts from a book that might help you with this topic. On the Writer’s Digest blog, the post, “Writing a Mystery Novel: Creating a Villain & 5 Ways to Justify a Crime,” some questions asked about your villain are: “… what happened to make that character the way she is. Was she born bad, or turned sour as a result of some early experience? If your villain has a grudge against society, why? If she can’t tolerate being jilted, why? You may never share your villain’s life story with your reader, but to make a complex, interesting villain, you need to know.”  
Spooky, huh?

There’s a recommended book on writing mysteries in that post if you want to pursue this type of writing.  

“With a first novel, don’t send a query letter to agents or editors until the work is complete and revised. You need to be able to demonstrate that you are capable of finishing a novel.” – Writer’s Digest Weekly Planner

Friday, June 22, 2012

Once upon a time ...

Is “Once upon a time …,” how you start creating your story? Not bad according to one of the steps in Pixar story artist Emma Coat’s article, “Pixar Story Rules (one version),” on how to write a good story. Her piece on the Pixartouchbook blog, lists a series of steps one can take to “create appealing stories.” I like them all especially #4 and #9. But my favorite is #14. All the steps make sense, however, and are good suggestions on getting started. 

#4: Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.

#9: When you’re stuck, make a list of what WOULDN’T happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.

#14: Why must you tell THIS story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.

School Visit

So how do you create your story? Mine is a combination of some of the steps in Coat’s article. In my mind, I usually start with “Once upon a time ….” What about you?

 “I like the idea that magic can be hidden under the surface of everyday life.” – Trina Schart Hyman

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Sheer joy of reading

On my way back from the store, I checked my mail (regular snail mail, not e-mail). I smiled when I saw that my latest issue of Poets and Writers had arrived. Oh, good, I thought. An evening of reading. I had also stopped at the library to pick up a book I’ve been wanting to read. More reading. There are days when you just want to relax and read for enjoyment. I don’t consider this a waste of time away from my daily writing. This is all part of the writing process. Take a break once in a while. Nurture yourself as a writer. Get into that comfortable corner where you have your favorite chair and read for the sheer joy of it. It’s good for the soul. Someday others will enjoy reading what you have written too. How much do you enjoy reading and what kind of books?

By the way, I have mentioned before that I journal—not every day but pretty often. Here is a picture of just some of my journals that I have filled up. I have plenty more. And here is a link that is all about moleskin journals, which by the way I own one that I got as a gift and I cherish it.

“A journal can be an invaluable tool for recording ideas, impressions, and anecdotes for future use. It can also help your career by instilling in you the habit of writing regularly.” –Writer’s Digest Weekly Planner

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Social Media

Yesterday I attended a Social Media workshop conducted by writer, poet, and screenwriter, Greg Pincus. The workshop was sponsored by our local SCBWI chapter. It was chock full of great information – some of which I shall use and some of which I won’t. What works for others might not work for me. Pincus stressed to only do what you feel comfortable with. He talked about understanding social media, making a plan, and setting realistic goals. 
Santa Fe
It was an all-day seminar, so I cannot possibly mention all that he taught here. But some of the topics he covered were web sites, blogs, Google Alerts, Jacketflap, Twitter, Goodreads, Tumblr, Podcasting, blog tours, blog interviews, and several others. “Websites,” he said, “are not social media but are a good home base. It makes you findable. Blogs can act as home base.” He spoke about creating “content,” and adding “value” and “playing by the rules” on your blog. 

I have a better understanding of what social media is all about, the pros and cons, and now it’s up to me to decide which way to go with it. For more on this topic, visit Pincus’ blog, The Happy Accident.

 “When composing a magazine article, it is usually better to write with a specific market in mind so your work will match the publication’s style and tone and be directed toward its unique readership.” – Writer’s Digest Weekly Planner

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Writing a Synopsis

Do you find it hard to write a synopsis? Having to summarize on one page what your entire story is about? Yikes! Members of my critique group and I groan and moan whenever the word “synopsis” is brought up. I think we’d rather write a dozen chapters than one synopsis. But, as you know, we all have to write one sooner or later. 

On the website,, a detailed definition of synopsis is offered, including the following: “In general, a synopsis reduces a novel, transforming it into a lifeless structure, without action, plot, and the detailed description of characters and the small, succulent details of a book. Some say that a synopsis is even hard to write than a novel, due to the difficult process of distillation of a heavy book. Wow! See what I mean? There’s more! Click on the link for more on what a synopsis entails. 

However, do not despair. There’s help. Everywhere. Here’s only one link that you might be interested in that focuses on this topic. “Writing a Synopsis from the Ground Up,” by Dee-Ann Latona LeBlanc is pretty interesting because she uses “a sequence of synopses in the following sizes: 
  1. A single sentence.
  2. A single paragraph.
  3. A single page or shorter.
  4. The expanded version.”
LeBlanc's article is very helpful.
Aguas Frescas
Never try to chase trends. Write what you love, and write the best book you can, and worry about publication later.” – Writer’s Digest Weekly Planner

Monday, June 11, 2012

Book Signing Success

Well, my book signing was a success. It was well attended and I signed quite a few books. My sincere thanks to all who showed up to support me. I had an enthusiastic crowd who asked really good questions about the writing process. I genuinely enjoyed the event and hope you did too.

Book Signing

Now back to work. I am in the middle of reading Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to edit yourself into print, by Renni Browne & Dave King. I won this book at our last SCBWI local chapter meeting. An author from Austin gave us a presentation on “revision.” The book came highly recommended by the author who said he used it during his revision. I took the title down, intending to buy the book as soon as the meeting was over. But, lucky me, I won it instead! So …. I shall put my middle-grade manuscript, Dulce’s Quest for the Crown, aside for a few days … or weeks … and focus on what the book has to say about editing.
 Click on the bottom two links to take a look at bookcases and tables made entirely out of BOOKS! Yes, books. Some people can be so creative.

"A good picture book begins with delight, ends with wisdom, humor, warmth, or love, and means more than it says." -- Barbara Williams

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Author Book Signing

Got home and a pleasant surprise awaited me. My hardcover copies of my picture book, Alicia’s Fruity Drinks/Las aguas frescas de Alicia, had arrived. Even though this is my fourth book, the excitement of holding the latest book in your hands never diminishes. I ran my fingers over the smooth cover and stared in admiration at the gorgeous illustrations that author/illustrator Laura Lacamara created. So, thank you, Laura, for making “our” book so special.

 If you’re in the area, please come by and join me at the book signing:

Sunday, June 10, 2012
4 p.m.
Barnes & Noble Bookstore
San Pedro Crossing
321 NW Loop 410, #104
210-342-0008, San Antonio, TX
 "Writing is a pleasure, and I feel that if I did not enjoy writing, no one would enjoy reading my books." -- Beverly Cleary