Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Alas, the cover art here is a later paperback version and not nearly as fine and wonderful as the original hardback version, but I was able to find the original and purchase it for my collection. Gosh, I have a book collection. How fun! Of course, all my books are spilling over the bookcases and under the desk and under the bed and on top of things. One of these days I'll get more bookcases and organize my "library".
A library of his own is something my middle son dearly wants when he has his own house someday. He's talked about it for years and he will ONLY purchase hardback editions of all his favorite books since that is what a true library should have. So all the bookcases I purchase end up in his room. Well, when he moves out and takes all those books with him . . . I'll confiscate the suckers for my own!
I've been a busy bee the past two weeks and not blogging, shame on me. I did manage to finally finish the rewrite for Secret Rites of the Goddess and get it off to three agents who requested within hours. Heady stuff. I also sent off The Healing Spell manuscript to an editor who wanted to see it again. Fingers crossed. Gosh, I cross my fingers and toes so much I swear they're soon going to drop off my body.
Tomorrow, I take off for the north country of New Mexico. 200 miles in the car and then two days of school visits and the Farmington Public library. Should be fun! My bags are packed, I'm ready to go . . . sing it with me . . .
I also just finished reading DRAGON'S KEEP, a terrific novel by an author I haven't read before. Stunning writing, incredibly brilliant storytelling about an old Merlin legend and a princess who fulfills a 600 year old prophecy.
P. S. to Sarah sarah_create whom I big-time owe an email. If you have a child you're looking to purchase a book for that loves dragons and medieval stories and will be enjoyed for more than one reading and by the whole family I definitely recommend this one! Janet Lee Carey is the author, of course.
See you all next week!!!
Thursday, November 01, 2007
Your Tuesday's post was an answer to my prayers. You thought your procrastination on the computer was time-wasting, but you helped me SO much I still can't get over it.
Your link to Shelfari solved a 20 year old mystery because I found a book I've been looking for forever.
The book? TWO ARE BETTER THAN ONE.
I read this when I was about 10 -11 years old - ADORED IT - and have been trying off and on to find it for so long. I've put out questions to other writers and in fact, I was about ready to post on my blogs to see if anybody recognized the book and could help me locate a copy.
I've searched every online new and used bookstore on the net without luck for so many years. I started wondering if I dreamed up the whole book! Was my memory just totally gone? Did I ever actually read this book? Why couldn't I find it? I also could not remember the author's name to save my soul.
Turns out I had the title slightly wrong. I kept Googling TWO HEADS ARE BETTER THAN ONE which is a quote from the book. Adding that one word HEADS threw off every search engine and online bookstore.
But SHELFARI didn't! (Yay for them to do a slight variation). I went to Laura's link to Shelfari on a total whim yesterday, plugged in the title and the book came up!
It was real.
I wasn't dreaming!
It's the right book!
My jaw dropped right to my keyboard.
I started screaming.
My son ran in to see what was wrong?
I was laughing and crying with delight! I'm SOOOOOOO THRILLED!
And I ordered a copy of the book in its original hardcover edition with a dust jacket no less. I cannot wait to get it and read it again.
That is the power of books on a kid's life.
P. S. The author of TWO ARE BETTER THAN ONE? None other than Carol Ryrie Brink - Newbery winner of Caddie Woodlawn. That just about freaked me out, too. The book wasn't by some obscure author at all like I'd been supposing for so long.
P. P. S. Laura, can I take you out to dinner sometime???
Monday, October 29, 2007
"I know writers who write only when inspiration comes. How would Isaac Stern play if he played the violin only when he felt like it? He would be lousy."
I've often wailed over all the *practice* novels I've written and why it took so many of them before I got published. Why do I have to practice more than other people? Why aren't I more talented? Why does this feel harder for me than other writers?
Whine, whine, whine. Oh, woe is me.
Maybe I just have more to learn.
Maybe I spent too much time in my early years of writing waiting for inspiration. Or the dishes to get done. Or a clean house so I could concentrate. Or the errand list was finished. Or waiting for the babies to take a nap. (Which mine rarely did, even as infants. They were born wide-awake and stayed that way!)
Or. Or. Or.
Maybe I really did not practice enough.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
But I gotta mention some incredibly terrific books. I REALLY wish I could have posted pictures of the covers. I want to figure out an easier way of posting pictures without having to copy and save them into my personal files, then upload them. Anybody have a faster way? It makes blogging SO time-consuming. I don't know how y'all do it every day with pictures, too! Check out these author's websites and you'll see the books for yourself! FABULOSO COVERS for FABULOSO NOVELS!!! Delicious until the last word . . .
SUCH A PRETTY GIRL by Laura Weiss
WUTHERING HEIGHTS by Emily Bronte
BROTHERS, BOYFRIENDS, AND OTHER CRIMINAL MINDS by April Lurie
WICKED LOVELY by Melissa Marr
EMILY GOLDBERG LEARNS TO SALSA by Micol Ostow
CASTING THE GODS ADRIFT: A TALE OF ANCIENT EGYPT by Geraldine McCaughrean
DEVILISH by Maureen Johnson
CURES FOR HEARTBREAK by Margo Rabb
Adult Novel: THE THIRTEENTH TALE by Diane Setterfield
Thursday, October 04, 2007
In the klutz news: I've been notorious since I was a kid for hurting myself. My family used to laugh at me and now my husband does. Sliding across the blacktop on my bare knees during Steal the Bacon or falling off the clothes hamper (60 stitches in my leg) or cutting myself with a knife in the kitchen or burning my finger on the stove.
In the last week:
1. Almost burned the house down when the oven caught fire. Yeah, I hadn't cleaned it in a while. See, I've been slammed with work lately. Anyhoo, I thought it would stop if I didn't give it any oxygen and when I checked a few moments later the whole oven was ablaze. Smoke pouring out, alarm going off. I almost called the fire department, but I managed to get close enough finally to douse it with baking soda. It took the rest of the afternoon to get all the smoke out of the house. Later that night I cleaned the darn thing. My cookies burned.
2. On Saturday we went to the BYU/UNM football game with a big group of friends. We rooted for BYU, our alma mater - of course! - and the game was SO exciting and we clapped and pounded the bleachers so hard I completely bruised up my left hand. It swelled and now it's all purple. Embarrassing. BYU won - whadda ya think? 31 - 24. And that was after the referees took away one of the touchdowns five minutes after the fact. Sheesh.
3. That same night I was finishing up some dishes and I was washing a very large glass lid that goes to the frying pan. It slipped and SHATTERED into a thousand pieces into the sink. Gravity defying glass. It flew UP! My hands were literally covered in about two dozen tiny shards. Blood dripping. I didn't move. Screamed for my husband and he and my son slowly and carefully picked out all the shards and pieces over the next 10 minutes while I stood there trying not to freak out.
See, I have weird accidents.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Wow, you are all very chatty today! Pages and ages of posts to read.
Today pamm wrote about reading all her friends posts every day, but not having time to post comments or thinking she doesn't have anything new to add to the discussion. I feel the same way, especially on a day when everyone is posting all kinds of cool stuff, but I don't have that hour or two to post comments. Please know that I read, enjoy, laugh, cry and feel like I've still connected with you. It's like having a conversation between friends via diaries. I mean, isn't that the whole point of Live Journal? Which I think is totally, absolutely COOL.
A few responses within my own . . .
susanwritesYour post about the guy planning out his proposal and his girlfriend getting wind of it and then thinking he was breaking up with her was hilarious and sweet. I loved your interview, too, but alas, did not post. :-(
I've loved the pictures this summer of your garden and all your writing spots. How sad that it's all torn up! But it looks like it'll be even BETTER next year!
I can't believe you wrote until 3:30 in the morning, got up at 5:30 and went to work all day. AND that you plan on writing tonight! You have way too much energy, girl! Pass some my direction!
You are just too funny!!!!!!!
Good luck on your first book signing!
I am appalled right along with you! That yellow color makes me feel like I'm putting something radioactive into my mouth.
Enjoy your book buying frenzy!
Love that word! I need to force myself to take a blacation so I can get my rewrites and critiques finished . . .'
What a bummer about your dream bedroom set. I say just knock that old darn staircase to the ground! It's only a bunch of wood. Your hubby can whip up another staircase this weekend, can't he?!
I feel your son's algebra pain. What a horrible, no good, very bad day!
Is anybody else out there going crazy over just plain life *stuff*. Here's what's been on my docket in just the last few days:
1. Cars breaking down again. Continually. In the last 4 months we've spent $6,000 in car repairs for 4 different vehicles. Enough already! Took 15 hours on Friday just to get the flippin' car to the flippin' mechanic. Tow dolly's are not that easy to come by. Or to hook up. And the one person in town that had one didn't want to stay open long enough for my husband to go pick it up. It was only 3 o'clock in the afternoon. And then hung up on him! Weird.
2. My son, my baby, is moving out of state so I'm very weepy.
3. A girl from Israel (Jerusalem to be precise) is here on a 2 year internship with the local prison as a counselor and I've been helping her out with housing, sightseeing, dinner, finding a bicycle, taking her places, etc. Marif is doing her doctorate internship for psychology. She's very sweet, but is paranoid about how much sunshine New Mexico has and is slathering on the sunblock so heavy her face is sort of white. A little amusing I have to admit.
4. Drama, drama, drama, with my seminary class lately. Six weeks worth and I hope things are going to calm down now so I can focus on teaching and not talking to parents and unhappy students. (Not in my class, one of the other classes. I had all these students last year and they've been begging to come back to my class. Not a happy situation.) Resolution is in sight now.
5. Drama with my Asperger son - although that rarely ever goes away completely. Need to get him back into the doctor and do a meds evaluation or more counseling.
6. Critiquing 45 manuscripts for the Abilene Writers conference. Due this weekend and I haven't even started!!!
7. Reprinting my novel, , which won the Southwest Book Award, because I get so many requests to purchase during school visits which I have several coming up in November and December. Lots of work to get a book ready to reprint, but the artist gave me permission last week to use his original cover art - yay!
8. Another MAJOR revision for Secret Rites of the Goddess coming along slowly, but surely. The first person POV is working well and I've finally nailed down the premise and character arc. Only took me 2 years. Hey, I'm a slow learner!
9. Another revision for The Healing Spell is almost done. I came up with some really fun additions to the story and the *spell* itself for which I made a recipe and I'm quite excited about it. Editor at FSG is very interested! And I'm querying dream agent with the novel tomorrow!!!!
10. Last, but not least. Somebody in Greece used my husband's debit card number to charge $1500 worth of stuff on Friday!
HOW does this happen? This person does not have my husband's card in hand or his pin number or ID to match the name on the card. Who would let somebody do that? Unless it's someone in banking or who worked for this particular store outside of Athens.
11. Okay, so it's 11 things on a Monday. You get a Bonus # or a Bonus Question - Anybody got ideas for how I can pay my mortgage tomorrow? The bozo in Athens spent my mortgage $$$ on SHOES!!!
Friday, September 14, 2007
1.The books I read the most in just sheer numbers were NANCY DREW mysteries. I also read just about every Phyllis Whitney mystery too. I received my very first Nancy Drew, THE HIDDEN WINDOW MYSTERY, when I was eleven from a 3rd grade teacher. At lunchtime I'd go into her classroom and grade papers or cut out bulletin board art. I loved helping Miss Aungst and she was so nice and so pretty. She gave me THE HIDDEN WINDOW as a thank you gift at the end of the school year. In 6th grade at an orthodontist appointment I was, of course, reading a Nancy Drew mystery, probably THE CLUE IN THE ATTIC while reclining in the chair waiting for the doctor when the assistant told me that she had some Nancy Drew’s at home that used to belong to her mother. At my next appt. she brought me AN ENTIRE BOX of First Edition Nancy Drew’s, published in the 1940s. I wonder what they’re worth? I still have them. They have blue covers and no cover art, published before the yellow ones in the 60s and 70s.
2. THE LITTLE WHITE HORSE by Elizabeth Goudge. My mother found this book in a magazine that had a “Books to Check Out” list. I was always looking for the next book to read since I read one every single day. I loved, loved, loved this book. It’s got everything - the *olden days* as I used to call the 1800s as a kid, mystery, danger, magic, and a bit of romance and fairy tale.
HARRIET THE SPY by Louise Fitzhugh. I became Harriet. I kept a notebook. I spied on people. I wrote my own stories. But I never got in trouble or dissed my friends.
SUZIE AND THE BALLET FAMILY by Lee Wyndham. I love ballet and devoured this wonderful series over and over again. My mother let me buy the whole set through the Scholastic book club. 35 - 50 cents for a book back then! Mind-boggling.
6. TO DANCE, TO DREAM by Maxine Drury. 10 stories about the real lives of famous dancers through the last three centuries: Maria Taglioni, Isadora Duncan, Anna Pavlova, Margot Fonteyn and ending with Maria Tallchief. My favorite was Anna Pavlova – I was mesmerized reading about Anna’s ballet slippers and how she tore them apart and re-sewed them before each performance.
My copy of this wonderful volume is inscribed: “To
7. HELEN KELLER’S TEACHER by Margaret Davidson.
9. NELLIE BLY, REPORTER. Very cool chick. I was shocked at Nellie’s nerve to get herself admitted to an insane asylum so that she could uncover the truth about what was happening inside. Talk about guts! I also read a book about a woman who became a Confederate spy but I can’t remember the title. The thing that stuck with me was when she actually chewed and swallowed an incriminating note one time to keep from getting caught. Wow.
10. A LANTERN IN HER HAND by
Now don't forget to read Barb's Favorites - after all - we're twins today!
Thursday, September 13, 2007
And yet I will share last night's dream and let my underwear hang out. Metaphorically speaking.
Last night I dreamed that I was at SCWBI LA and nobody would room with me. And when everybody went swimming in the spectacular
And I kept trying to catch up with all my friends, but I kept missing everyone by five minutes here or five minutes there or I was in the wrong location.
So what the heck does this dream mean?
I’m a little afraid to even find out.Go to my Live Journal to read the comment's on this post - lots of fun!
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Debra is the sister of a very good friend of mine and she recently cut her first CD. She's been traveling all over the country as well as Europe singing her own concerts the past year. She does the guitar work as well as sings, and her writing is very impressive, too.
Debra's music and voice reminds me of Norah Jones. Check out her website. The lead song plays as soon as the site comes up. Her other songs are also listed and you can listen to them AND buy the album directly from her website.
I got to meet her for the first time last week and hear her perform. She's darling and awesome.
Enjoy a great new artist!!!
Friday, August 24, 2007
The book is beautiful and moving. I think Erin is so very, very brave to write this and go through the terrible pain and depression she experienced while writing the memoir. Read her husband's heart-wrenching account here: griefgirl . I'm so amazed Erin got through it and wrote it anyway even though she could have quit. I tried once, about 17 years ago, to write about the experience of losing my father. I fictionalized it, changed people and events - and it did not work. The story was stiff and melodramatic and I never tried again. Even though it's been thirty years since the accident, it sometimes still feels too close to get the right perspective, if that can make any possible sense.
Reading GRIEF GIRL had me crying of course, but a flood of details and memories kept rushing into my mind, things I'd pushed away with the effort to move forward and go on with my life, but reading Erin's account also made me want to try to write my story again. I'm not sure I'd write it for publication, but I'd really like to put the horribleness my family lived through and the grief and pain I personally went through at 14 years old down on paper. And tell it true this time. The real story. The actual facts. What really happened. I'm getting this strange feeling like I NEED to do this, not only for myself, but as a gift, a remembrance, for my family; my mother, my brothers and sisters, my aunts and uncles and cousins when we lost two family members that horrible December day when my father's plane came crashing down to earth and burst into flames 5 days before Christmas, and the day of my little brother's 5th birthday.
It's scary to think about reliving the tragedy and loss in excruciating detail - but I'm feeling this need to have a tangible account of that time and the aftermath that went on for years. To have a record. To talk about it. Because my family didn't talk much - we mostly held all the grief inside. As well as all our secrets.
To see Erin talking about the book go to her MySpace page and click on the video. I just love her.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
At the moment I've got a tormenting question about Tracey Adams, agent extraordinaire in North Carolina.
For those of you who went to SCBWI LA, I cannot find *anywhere* in my notes what Tracey said about subbing to her. I know that she'll take submissions after a conference, but I don't know whether it's just a query letter or query with synopsis, or query with three chapters or what . . .
Anybody know and can drop me a line? I didn't make it to any of Tracey's break-out sessions, but I did get to talk to her Saturday night at the Silvery Moon party and she gave me her card!!! Does that mean anything? I hope, I hope, I hope! She did say she would remember me and we did get to talk about a couple of my projects (albeit very briefly).
But my problem now is HOW to sub to her exactly. THANKS for any help!!!
Saturday, August 18, 2007
1. ENCHANTED, INC. by Shanna Swendson (adult chick-lit fantasy)
2. I'M NOT JULIA ROBERTS (Laura Ruby, adult novel by a fab children's writer. She's awesome with this book, too!)
3. BURIED by Robin MacCready (YA suspense)
4. ANGEL MONSTER by Veronica Bennett (Stunning historical fiction about Mary Shelley who wrote "Frankenstein")
5. GOLDEN by Jennifer Barnes (YA paranormal)
6. THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET by Brian Selznick (self-explanatory!)
7. THE SUMMER SHERMAN LOVED ME (MG literary)
8. THE RUNAWAY PRINCESS by Kate Coombs (MG/YA fantasy)
9. I'D TELL YOU I LOVE YOU BUT THEN I'D HAVE TO KILL YOU by Ally Carter (ADORABLE YA chick-lit)
10. WHAT HAPPENED TO CASS MCBRIDE? by Gail Giles (nail-biting YA thriller)
11. STORY OF A GIRL by Sara Zarr (YA contemporary)
12. OUR TOWN by Thornton Wilder (read for a book group. Very interesting)
13. JOHNNY VOODOO by Dakota Lane (YA romance)
14. TANTALIZE by Cynthia Leitich Smith (YA vampire romance)
15. VANISHING ACTS by Jody Picoult (adult suspense)
16. GRIEF GIRL by Erin Vincent (YA memoir) I'll be posting about this next week when I get back in town. I met Erin in LA and this is an incredible book!
Only 16 books for three months! That's gotta be a record for the least amount of reading in my entire life!!! And I have at least 20 books waiting to be read. I ALWAYS have about 20 books waiting. And research. And school lessons to be prepared. And I keep hearing about great books out there and put them on hold at the library or buy them and the stack just keeps multiplying.
Confession: I'm supposed to be reading WAR AND PEACE by Leo Tolstoy this summer, too, for my book group's discussion in September. Ha, ha, ha! (Ssh! I rented the movie.)
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Especially check out my friend Alex Flinn's newest book, due out in October, BEASTLY!
What a cool idea! Don't miss out.
Here's the link: http://www.harperteen.com/firstlook/inde
Hope you're a winner!
Hope I am, too!
P. S. Sign up your teenagers and tell the teenagers you know. They can get a free ARE, too!
On pins and needles for news from seaheidi!
I'm also printing up my handouts for the SCBWI monthly schmooze tonight. Yep, I'm speaking - about synopses. For some strange - but very nice - reason I've been having a lot of luck with mine. I have, like, a 75% YES rate from agents on my query/synopsis who want to see my manuscript. Of course, getting a YES for representation is a whole 'nother problem - but one I WILL lick. For starters, I've figured out a couple problems that I'm going to revise before I do any more querying.
Pointers from my little presentation will be posted tomorrow! Right now I gotta get dressed and get out of here. It's a 45 minute drive to Albuquerque and I'm meeting a writer friend for dinner beforehand. And yet, I'm fixing dinner to leave for the family. Hey, how come it always works like that for us Moms? The only way we can get out of the house is to make sure everyone is fed and happy first. :-)
Saturday, August 11, 2007
Rubin Pfeffer, Publishing Director of Simon & Schuster:
"A great book is one which sends the reader off to find the next book."
Ellen Wittlinger, author of ParrotFish:
"Art (or books) can take you out of a small world and open the door to a larger world. Art can save you."
John Green, Author of Looking for Alaska:
"Writing is an act of translation as much as it is an act of creation. "
"The great challenge is to translate a feeling or emotion or experience into a story that lets the reader feel the same emotion and have the same experience. "
"Truth doesn't lie inside the facts, it lies inside the people of your story."
Emma Dryden, Vice-President and Publisher at McElderry Books
"If an editor doesn't feel the story and love it and have it resonate to them, then publishing the book would be a disservice to the author. "
Kate Schafer, Agent at Janklow & Nesbit
She wants a book that makes her feel like something big and wonderful is happening.
Word of the Day: Optimism
Linda Sue Park, Newbery winner for A Single Shard:
"Finish. The. Book." (borrowed from Jane Yolen)
"Write the book more than you talk about the book."
Dinah Stevenson, Publisher at Clarion
"No two people define well-written in the same way."
In other news, this afternoon the whole gang (my family that is) went to see Bourne Ultimatum. Loved it! Very thrilling. I love mysteries and thrillers, but I've been too chicken to try writing one myself even though all my books have suspense and danger built into them. But they're not considered *thriller* per se.
Speaking of movies, we finally rented "Bridge to Terabithia" a couple weeks ago and I ADORED it. I thought it was very true to the book and I cried at the end, just like I cry when I read the novel. It was very emotionally stirring and I thought Jess and Leslie were PERFECTLY cast. The movie haunted my thoughts for days. The ending was perfect, too.
Friday, August 10, 2007
Here are a few tidbits:
1. Write what you know, write what you feel, write what you care about.
2. Books are for the soul. Books are how we preserve our culture. (I never thought about books in quite that way before, but how true it is. We can see our culture change throughout the decades through the books we have and the books that have lasted.)
3. All writers are working their way through a darkness and into the light just like our young readers are trying to do as they grow up. (I'm realizing this more and more about myself the longer I write.)
My themes and premises change depending on what I'm going through at the moment or what I've gone through during my life in the past. Maybe I'm confessing more than I should! Ha! But a writer's theme is never written down as such in the pages of their manuscript or even spoken in concrete words by a character. And that *take away* value a reader gets from a book might be something completely different for another reader. But a good book, a meaningful, emotional story always has one.
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
The following part of is talk is where I really connected with Mr. Myers. My roommate, Kristin, and I had this very discussion on the plane the previous evening as we flew over so I was pretty wowed when Walter talked about it in the very first hour. It felt like he was talking to me.
He posed the question: Why am I - or why are you - a writer? Here are some typical assumptions from the outside world:
Is he a writer because he comes from a family of storytellers?: NO
Is it because he loves words?: NO
Is it because he loves to play with language?: NO
He's a writer because he loves to create and he loves building world that only he can envision and create and then try to bring it to life for others. Books always took me out of the boring real world and into a new, better, and more exciting place and that's the reason I wanted to be a writer, too, from the time I was very young. I think books are BETTER than real life.
Walter went on to discuss searching for the details of our *world* and our characters. Not only physical details, but emotional details. Details that explode the moment, that re-create a moment, that re-define a moment in a familiar but new way that connects you to your readers. Selecting the right detail is what we do every time we sit down to write. Find the details that convince your reader.
I'm off to search for the right details for my WIP, The Healing Spell. Happy searching to you, too!
Believe me, we all cried and sniffed and pulled out our tissues during so many moments throughout the whole weekend. And laughed and hugged and talked. More like yakked our heads off!
Of course, editors, agents, and keynote authors abounded the halls and dining tables, but one of the best parts of all, for me, was meeting such great new friends. Something I never expected.
Cool people I got to meet for the FIRST TIME after knowing them online:
Some awesome people I met and "friended" as soon as I got home:
A totally cool, smart chick I got to meet again:
And some other people I've known online that I was thrilled to meet in person in LA!
Other writers I talked to during workshops and between keynote speeches like:
Clark Leland Childers - who only gave me an email address and not a website, silly boy!
Suzanne Taylor (who is gorgeous, expecting her first baby, and won a FREE conference next year!)
A few gals during the Historical Fiction writers group Sunday night:
Carole Estby Dagg
Sarah Wiseley Croley
MORE conference news the rest of the week so stay tuned!
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
I hear there are 800 + now that attend. I think I will feel like a mouse. I'm excited, nervous, terrified. Will I be brave enough to talk to people? Will I look like a dork? Will I know what to say without sounding like an idiot if I get close to an editor or agent - or one of those fantastic authors I worship? I need to go calm my fluttering heart.
Hey, please drop me a quick "Yes!" if you're going! Should we do a Blogspot/Live Journal gathering? Or will that amount to about 400 of us? Cool!!
Maybe we should wear name tags with our LJ personas. Hope to see/meet you there! Safe travels and *see* you in about a week!
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Check out the issue from your library or bookstore - or if you subscribe already, enjoy! (The link shows the August issue)
Saturday, July 21, 2007
I love her latest from Thursday, July 19th - Protect the Work! That's YOUR work - your writing, your time, your ideas, your voice, your style, your strengths, your passion.
Here's a snippet that really resonated with me because this is an issue that's been on my mind a LOT the past few months as I keep rewriting to please everyone else or to *fix* whatever is supposedly wrong with my manuscripts.
". . . Just because someone didn't like a particular aspect of your book doesn't mean you did it poorly. Nor does it mean it's your job to fix that aspect. It's their problem. I read on a blog the other day about a speech that writer James Rollins gave at Thrillerfest (pardon the hearsay, but the lesson is there, even in parable form): "He'd read the reviews for his first book and noticed that many of them commented on lack of characterization. So he was trying to work on the characterization. He submitted the manuscript to the editor, who saw some of the characterization attempts and asked him what he was doing. He told her, and she said that his great strength was making a book a page turner and to stop worrying about what the reviewers were finding wrong." That's protecting the work. Do what you do best. What one person hates about your work will be another person's favorite part. Don't try to be all things to all people, or you won't please anyone."
Read the whole post - it's wonderful.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
When I finished the revision into first person from third and I was going back to look at some of the scenes that ended up getting a LOT of reworking - and then ya get nervous thinking you've left in little typos and *loose* words - so of course I had to read it a third time JUST TO MAKE SURE - which I'm still not, but after awhile you just gotta mail it and move on to the next project . . .so ANYWAY, I started thinking about some words that began popping out at me over and over again. So I made a list and did the find/replace thing and discovered there were some words which stuck out like obnoxious gremlins.
Here they are:
1. Miserable - I kept worrying that I'd used this word verbosely, but it turned out I'd only used it 4 times in 80,000 words. I left them alone. Maybe I've just read this manuscript a dozen times too many so 4 turned into 48 in my mind.
2. Quickly - 41 times, revised down to 11
3. Suddenly - 22 times, revised down to 5
4. Instantly - 16 times, revised down to 5
5. Immediately - 11 times, revised down to 6
6. Stared - 28 times, revised down to 10 (My gosh, everybody plus the camels were staring at everything and everybody all the time! Enough already.)
7. Slowly - 18 times, revised down to 3. (My slowly's were actually slowing down the story)
8. Belly - 25 times. I got this down to 12 and patted myself on the belly - I mean back - because it IS a novel about belly dance, after all. But I also have 8 gut's and 12 stomach's and 7 abdomen's.
It was AMAZING how taking out the word usually ended up not just replacing it, but revising the entire sentence and paragraph into something tighter and smoother and more vivid. It was an interesting exercise, but surprising how long it took. But then NOTHING about revision is ever fast.
Formula: E.R.T. (estimated revision time) x 5 = A.T. (actual time)
Has anyone else ever done this, and what are your pet/favorite repeated words?
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
So the rewrite starts out innocently enough . . . I single space, paginate like a *real* book and make tons of changes along with all the *Jayden's*' to *I* and *hers* and *she's* to *me*. I also cut about 10 pages in extraneous verbage. I'm thinking, hey, this is pretty good. I like the voice better, I'm into the character more. And it only took me a week.
But another voice nags. "Go through it one more time. "
I print out a hard copy this time instead of rewriting directly on my computer screen. I use bigger margins and bigger spaces so I can see and make corrections easier. I'm shocked as I'm reading and marking. My pages end up BLOODY! I mean, my red pencil is spilling its guts!
I rewrite the prose even more and I end up cutting 40 more pages of just plain verbage. Yes, 40! I guess I talk more on the page than I do in real life - although my three sons would majorly disagree. So in the end I've cut 10,000 words. It's now 80,000 words. I've put all the changes in and this round takes me 2.5 weeks of 8 hour days.
I'm burned out and couldn't face it Monday morning so I took a break and read two books yesterday and ran errands and took my son to the dentist. I needed that. Um, the books, not the dentist. The books helped me get out of *my* head and help me see the world again. I'm ready to finish today and mail this to a very patient, but highly interested agent.
Tomorrow . . . an interesting observation about repeated words.
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
1. My favorite book growing up was The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge, but I don't particularly like horses. Good thing the book isn't really about horses!
2. I drink only fat-free milk with my pan of brownies. Ahem - I know they cancel each other out.
3. I wanted three daughers after having my three sons, but it never happened.
4. I have a golden Egyptian Goddess Selket sitting above my desk.
5. I know how to speak a little Bulgarian. Zdrasti!
6. I'm a part-time Mary Kay Beauty Consultant - but I don't do *parties* at all.
7. I've never been a morning person, but I get up at 5 a.m. to teach a class at church for teenagers.
8. My husband proposed to me with a plate of fortune cookies. Inside the last one was the saying: "Confucious say: Will you marry me?" He baked them himself.
Now for the fun part - I get to tag 8 other people!
Mette Ivie Harrison
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
We're going with a group of about 150 including the teenagers from church, pulling handcarts, and wearing 1850's dress. Thirty miles on foot with only a 5 gallon bucket with all our stuff. Yep, that's all under and outer and sleeping clothing, toiletries, jacket, rain poncho, flashlight, chapstick, sunscreen, first aid, T.P., towel, wet wipes, sunglasses, the works - in 1 five gallon bucket. With a lid, you've got an instant stool for the campfire. Another bag holds bedding, blanket, pillow.
We've been getting tons of rain this month which is really unusual so I'm praying for sunshine. As long as I'm praying I'll ask for NO 95 degree weather either.
I'll let you know if I survive the trip. I'm going as Ann Roberts Griffiths, my ancestor who left Wales in 1843 as a newlywed of 13 days with her husband Joseph and traveled from Liverpool all the way to New Orleans and then up the Mississippi to Illinois. From there she traveled 1300 miles across the western prairies to a new home.
I can't even imagine doing that NOW, let alone THEN. She's my hero. And we have practically the same name. My middle name is Anne and my maiden name is Griffiths so direct descendant here.
So back to packing. I just emailed three chapters and brand new detailed synopsis (written this weekend) off to another agent who requested my novel, Secret Rites of the Goddess. She even called my idea *brilliant* - so I'm just a teensy, weensy bit psyched!
Thursday, May 24, 2007
Enchanted Fridays – Journey of a Novelist
I’m thrilled to interview one of the best YA authors out there and someone I've learned a lot from - Alex Flinn!
We're talking about DIVA today, but don't forget that Alex's next book BEASTLY comes out in October from HarperTeen, and sounds absolutely delicious!
ALEXANDRA: I got a lot of requests for a sequel to BU, and I really had no idea what I would possibly write about. "Nothing interesting is ever going to happen to Nick again," I explained to the kids who e-mailed, and I firmly believed that to be true.
A few people, not all girls, asked for a book about Caitlin, and I toyed with the idea of writing a book about her, after the book, going to performing arts school, because I had gone to a program like that my last two years of high school.
Then, I did a school visit where I was discussing abusive relationships with several girls who had been in them. "Why," I asked, "are so many girls in this school in abusive relationships." One girl replied, "It's a small school. If you broke up with your boyfriend, there'd be no one to date."
I thought that was sad that these girls thought they had so little going on in their lives, that they needed a boyfriend so badly that they'd accept one who hit them. And that sort of provided the spark of the idea for DIVA, to write a book about a girl pursuing her dreams and realizing that those dreams did not necessarily need to include a boy.
The opera part came a little bit from the fact that Caitlin was a singer in the first book and a lot from the fact that I like opera, and I think it is misunderstood by most young people (including my generation). People think opera is boring, but it actually has enough blood, guts, cheating spouses, and undying love to fill a season of Desperate Housewives and several Manga books. I used the opera, La Traviata, among others, as a parallel to Caitlin's and her mother's lives. La Traviata has been used in several modern movies, including Pretty Woman and Moulin Rouge, so I thought teens would get it.
ALEXANDRA: A lot of the little things that happened to Caitlin happened to me or my friends. The bigger things didn't. Caitlin's parents are not my parents, and I never knew a boy like Nick. Caitlin's best friend, Gigi, is an entirely fictional character. The only characters who were loosely based upon real people were Caitlin's friend, Sean, and some of the teachers (Rowena, for example, is sort of a hybrid of two of the three voice teachers with whom I studied). But the little day-to-day things that happened to her (including her terror that she would be asked to dance on the side of the stage) were taken from my own life. I think writing an autobiographical book would be very challenging, but making the book about Caitlin gave me the opportunity to take the story away from my own and just choose bits and pieces I liked about what happened in real life.
ALEXANDRA: La Traviata is a favorite of mine. Some of my other favorites are more complicated to explain within the context of a book, like The Tales of Hoffman, or they are not for Caitlin's voice part, like Cavelleria Rusticana, so I didn't include them. The first opera I ever saw live was Turandot, which is an excellent choice because it has a compelling plot, unlike some of Puccini's other opera's, which focus more on beautiful music. Probably the "chestnuts," by which I mean the popular operas which are performed constantly, are the best ones for a beginner. These include Carmen, Madama Butterfly, Pagliacci, La Boheme, and Rigoletto.
ALEXANDRA: I volunteered at a battered women's shelter and worked at the State Attorney's Office with domestic violence cases, before I became an author. After I became an author, I talked about dating violence with a lot of teens at school visits. At most schools, there are at least one or two girls who tell me about their abusive relationships. A lot of the stuff Caitlin puts in her journal that day is stuff I talk about with kids at school visits -- the whole question of "Why doesn't she leave him?" I know well why girls don't leave, but I hope my books help them to consider why they should.
ALEXANDRA: It's really surprising to me that kids read my books in school. When I was in school, we mostly read stuff like Charles Dickens or, if we were really lucky, George Orwell, but never anything more modern than that. It never occurred to me that anyone would assign Breathing Underwater or Fade to Black. I think the topics appeal to teachers, and the real-life situations appeal to students.
ALEXANDRA: My upcoming novel, Beastly, comes out in October. It's a modern, urban version of Beauty and the Beast.
ALEXANDRA: My editor always talks about "What will readers take away from the book?" So my wish is that girls who read the book because it has a pink cover, might still take something away from it, whether it is insight into their own relationships with boys or their mothers, or maybe a little interest in the performing arts.
A big THANK YOU to Alex for stopping by and giving us a peek into her life and inspiration. Applause, applause!!!
Go hang at her Live Journal: alixwrites.livejournal.com and her web site www.alexflinn.com!
Saturday, May 12, 2007
I'm WIP-ped. Sigh. Why do I always feel a bit of a let-down at the end of a first draft? I usually cry during the last few pages, but I didn't for this novel. Maybe because the phone kept ringing all day! It's hard to ignore your kids though - especially when they've got the car. Maybe it's also because I've been trying to get to the end for so long I was just too frustrated to *feel* anything. There have been so many interruptions. Like yesterday I had to stop drafting and go over the editor's notes on my story coming out in August in Cricket magazine and send it back with some rewrites so I ended up not finishing the novel like I'd hoped after all.
So The Death of Pharaoh Tutankhamun ended at 109,891 words. Time to get out the scissors. Or a hatchet. But not for a few weeks. On Monday I hit a rewrite on another book project for an interested agent.
Still, I should celebrate, right? I'm ready to kick back with a movie and some cookies. Warm, fresh chocolate chip anyone?
Friday, May 11, 2007
Um, back to your regularly scheduled programming.
I'll let you know if I'm still breathing tomorrow morning.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Enchanted Fridays – Journey of a Novelist
Barbara and I have one of those "old-fashioned" friendships –like before the telephone was invented and visiting each other was pure fantasy for two buddies living on opposite sides of the country. We discovered each other on a writer’s chat group, started emailing and haven’t stopped—and it's been ten years!!!! Friendship through the written word—I’d say that’s perfect for two writers.
Visit her new blog, too! http://greetings-from-nowhere.blogspot.com/
Barbara: This story started with a sign posted in a garden center near my home:
Still Searching for Willy.
No Questions Asked.
“The day I decided to steal a dog as the same day my best friend, Luanne Godfrey, found out I lived in a car.”
And then I was off and running.
Barbara: I just have a brilliant imagination. (Kidding, of course.) Thankfully, I have no personal experience with homelessness. And why
Flannery O’Connor once said, “We don’t need to be immersed in experience, we just need to contemplate it.”
So that’s what I did. As I wrote
But I knew that it would be important to portray her situation sensitively and realistically. I needed to research, to educate myself about the reality of homelessness, and, in particular, rural homelessness. So I read everything I could get my hands on about rural homelessness, primarily from government agencies, such as the National Coalition for the Homeless and the
Barbara: Glad you like the notebook! I love using those sorts of devices to portray the feelings of a character. I used postcards in MOONPIE AND IVY and drawings in TAKING CARE OF MOSES.
Barbara: The best part was crawling into
Barbara: Oh how I wish I had that secret stash! Carmella came purely from my imagination, but Mookie was inspired by a real person. My mother lives in an assisted living facility down in
Barbara: I started my career with biographies for children, but since my heart is with fiction, I’ll tell you about that journey. I actually got pretty lucky. I was in a writers group with Leslie Guccione, an author who, at the time, was writing a series for Scholastic. She offered to send my manuscript to her editor, Ann Reit. Ann liked the manuscript (Beethoven in
I remember exactly the moment I got THE CALL. I was on vacation with my husband’s family in
Barbara: Two things come to mind first for me with regard to aspiring writers. First, focus on finding your unique writing voice and write something different and fresh. You’ve got to stand out from the pack in such a competitive business. Second, don’t give up. Publishing requires lots of perseverance.
Barbara: I just finished the copyedits for my next novel, due out in the spring of 2008. It’s called GREETINGS FROM NOWHERE. This was a fun book for me because I was ready to challenge myself and try a multiple viewpoint story. This one has four points of view and was much harder than I had anticipated. Hopefully, I pulled it off. Time will tell, I guess.
Barbara: I wasn’t prepared for how much marketing I would have to do. I always figured you just write a book and get it published and that’s it. Ha! Little did I know I’d have to do mailings and prepare brochures and speak at conferences and all those things that I’m not particularly good at and don’t particularly enjoy.
Barbara: I’d love to reach a level of success where I could earn enough from royalties to not be so dependent on school visits for income. That would be cool! (Although I do enjoy going to schools a lot.) And name recognition would be pretty groovy.
Barbara’s web site: www.barboconnor.com
Visit her new blog, too! http://greetings-from-nowhere.blogspot.com/
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