Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Wrestling with Life and My Plotting Cards

I had my darling son (and all-around fabulous critiquer and brainstormer and savvy reader) home from college all week and therefore I did not blog as promised about all my further tips with 3x5 card plotting.

I promise I am going to. I promise, cross my heart!

I did get to see and hear the lovely and terrific Shannon Hale speak at Alamosa Books though! And took son and hubby along after we went to the movies and saw the exciting The Bourne Legacy and had dinner. I dragged them! And then they laughed and had a wonderful time and we all bought lots of books!

It was a great crowd (forgot my camera - dang it!) and fun times joking around with Shannon as she signed Jared's copy of Princess Academy and the topic of boys reading "girl" books came up. She challenged Jared to read her books - which is not much of a hardship since he will read just about anything. She's blogged about this very topic right here - AND scroll down to see all of her very cute pictures of boys and men reading Princess Academy! Fun stuff:

So my son is now gone and I'm missing him and wrestling with my own 3x5 card plotting for the book I sold a few weeks ago to Scholastic on proposal. My synopsis and cards and brainstorming was done way back in June so I'm trying to figure out what I have and where all the holes are now that I have a few weeks to draft this book (Scholastic wants the book in October! I kid you not so I'm actually scrambling). This was yesterday:

I spread them on my beautiful rug (after I vacuumed it!) and tried to put them in order (because they'd dropped way back when I last worked on them in June and I just stuffed them into a drawer) and yes, I have holes in my plot. I also think that some event sequences may likely change after I get a few chapters into the drafting. I also need a few more specific scenes during a certain time of the plot (and yes, I'm being very mysterious about what that is . . . )

The cards at the top of my picture are notes on my Main Character. I've known in the back of my mind these past many weeks as I've been working on the Very Hard Revision That Blew My Brains Out On My Sexy Young Adult Novel for Harpercollins - that I didn't know my MC very well yet. I  didn't know enough about her quirks, her habits, her hobbies, her deep desires, and that I needed to work on that before I could continue drafting. (I only have one chapter written that needs some fleshing out).

So I spent a little bit of time with my daughter and we talked on the way home from church last Sunday and miraculously, in just a few minutes, I was already bursting with ideas. So I wrote those ideas down on several cards and placed them up at the top of my sequence since they're not plot points or scenes.

Of course, the new character cards went missing on Monday when I went to retrieve them! They just walked off my desk in my bedroom, the nerve of them!

Then I discovered them in the kitchen with purple scribble all over from the Very Cute Toddlers who live with me. At least they're still readable.

There are some clues to a mystery in my book that I still need to nail down more specifically. I need to know what the clues say and when they will occur in the story timeline, but I may need to just start drafting a little bit blindly and see what inspires me when the characters start acting more on their own and I get to know them better.

Sometimes writing is taking one step into the darkness until the candlelight follows and lights the way more clearly . . . but the answers usually come somehow, some way.

So stay tuned for more Juicy and Very Helpful details about 3x5 Card Plotting after the holiday weekend!


P.S. If you haven't already please find me on Facebook and Twitter!

P.P.S. Anybody going anywhere fun for the holiday weekend? I'd love to run away but I need to draft three chapters . . . some chocolate chip cookies may very well Be In My Future in Order To Sustain Drafting Mode . . . 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Revisions FINISHED and other GOOD stuff!

The last 10 days has been, let's say, interesting? Mind-numbing? Frantic? Exhausting? Mind-stretching? 

I've been working 12 hour days. Right smack in the middle of it all, my computer started crackling and zapping and popping and then went black.

Fried the mother board - while doing revisions for my Harpercollins editor on my sexy YA novel (Fall 2013 lead title - I'm slightly excited, but you probably can't tell!! Nope, I'm cool, calm and collected).

Took a day to get up and running again with another old laptop sitting under my bed, but yes I . . .Finally finished the kick-me-to-the-gutter revisions yesterday and TURNED THEM IN. Yes, I hit SEND on the email to my editor, then sweated a little, then ate 3 donuts (yes, indeedy!) and went to lunch with Caroline Starr Rose and Carolyn Kuehn. 

Last Wednesday I was a guest speaker at WRITE ON CON the biggest, most incredibly awesome free online writer's conference ever. I was really thrilled to be a part of it, but afraid that I looked dorky or nervous in front of the camera. AND I realized later there was so much more to say about 3x5 card plotting. Here is the video to begin your tutorial!

I will be here again - soon I promise! - to talk more about Plotting Your Novel Using 3x5 Cards. Some GOOD stuff so check back in a couple of days while I pull it all together right here on my blog.

Meanwhile I'm going to eat some bon bons and read a book (I have 40 in my stacks that have been waiting patiently for me - me not so patient!)

BUT DON'T LEAVE YET! Here are some links to articles that I really enjoyed the past week:

This Product Prevents Literary Wedgies. Good for Multiple Uses. At "Writer Unboxed" blog. A blog you really should be reading daily!

Social Media Suicide at "Writer Unboxed"

If I can't go in Reverse, I'll go in Verse by Caroline Rose Starr

Magical Realism: Turning Ordinary into Extraordinary! With a book giveaway that doesn't end until September 5th so get over there, what are you waiting for!

"Does Publishing Kill our Love of Writing?" by Kiersten White



Friday, August 17, 2012

Fan Mail Friday! The Youtube version.

I'm a very lucky writer. Or author. Frankly, I never know what to call myself. Writer, Author, either or!

I've been writing my whole life and now that I'm published I'm writing more than ever so I often think of myself as a writer on an everyday schedule, but I'm only an "Author" when I'm doing a school or bookstore or other sort of "event". :-)

(What are your definitions? I'd be curious to hear.)

But EVERY DAY I'm very blessed to hear from kids or readers or teachers or friends who tell me wonderful things about my book, or how much they enjoyed it, or how it even - gulp! - changed their lives. Wow. That's like a writer's dream.

I even get comments on my book trailers on Youtube which is pretty darn cool. Here's one from last week from a young girl with a screen  name of pizzatas who left a comment for Circle of Secrets (spelling and punctuation left exactly as written - one of the reasons I love it so much!):

"this was a summer book for me, and i don't like books. but when i read this book, my imagination was blowed. i love this book. it changed my life basicly. WRITE MOREEEE!"

Of course, I write them back a comment on Youtube as well, not just emails or snail mail letters.

I would say it's THE greatest blessing and experience as a writer/author to hear from fans like this. To know I've influenced someone to read more That is the power of books in kid's lives. That was the power of books in MY life.

And that's the reason I never stopped reading children's books and the reason I will never stop writing kid's books.

Because I know what books did for me as a scared, nervous, non-talking, terribly shy child.

Books were my best friends. And they still are.


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

In Which I Tell You About a Must-Read YA Suspense in October

Look no further, dear friends. THIS book is your October book.

From the author of Take Me There, a fast-paced novel in verse about a girl caught between life and death—and the boy who will do anything to save her.

Ally is devastated when a scandalous photo of her is texted around school. With her reputation in shambles and her life essentially over, she hides out in a back hallway trying to figure out where everything went wrong.

Elijah has loved Ally for years and would do anything to save her from her in-between place. But if she's going to live, Ally must face her inner demons, and find the will to save herself.

Elijah has spent time in that hallway too. He landed there after taking a whole bottle of sleeping pills. Now he can see ghosts, and he knows what Ally has yet to suspect - that she's already half dead, and one choice away from never coming back.

Told in interwoven verse narratives, this crushingly honest and poetic exploration of pain and redemption will appeal to fans of Ellen Hopkins.

 Here is the brand new book trailer!

***I got to read this manuscript while Carolee was writing it (we've been crit partners and friends for about 10 years) and it's fantastic!  I think it's her best work yet.

Go read Carolee's latest blog post about one of her adventures in getting the flowers for the trailer:

Here's her website with tons of cool stuff:

See more about FORGET ME NOT here.

Find Carolee on Facebook, too, and Twitter. 


P.S. When FORGET ME NOT arrives I'll be giving away a copy right here!!!

P.P.S. Tomorrow is my DEADLINE. Kill me now. Give me some cookies!!! (Chocolate chip please and heavy on the chips, thank you very much.)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Dear Reader, I am a Junkie

I am a blog and article junkie. I can read links about writing and books and editing and agenting and PW news and SCBWI news and Salon pieces and Cynsations weekly round-up and follow links until the cows come home - or all morning until I have no idea what happened to the last 3-4 hours. And it's lunchtime.

I love anything and everything about writing/writers and making books and selling books and reading books and covers and blurbs and reviews. **LOVE**!!! Every aspect of the business fascinates me, and it's like I can't get enough. 
Since I'm still working on these kick-me-to-the-gutter revisions for Harpercollins (nights and weekends, too!) I'm doing a few quick blog posts so y'all don't forget about me, ha, ha.

Alison Bechdel and I share Harriet the Spy in common as probably the book that inspired us the most to become a writer. I'd already been dabbling in some really stupid short stories before I read it as a child, and I was already a major child book-a-holic but after reading Harriet, I got serious. :-)

How To Write by Colson Whitehead. 10 Tips for Writers. Serious. Tongue-in-cheek. Hilarious. #10 made me crack up at my computer.

And did I mention Cynsations? Read Cynthia daily if you read nothing else. Her Friday round-up of best links in the children's lit world is terrific - especially last Friday so go look it up now! And especially this:

I wish I had read this when I was first starting out as a writer and beginning submissions or querying. I think it would save new writers a lot of angst and heartache by looking at your writing product in this way.

Enjoy, and I'll see you on the other side of my deadline - if I survive and don't need a hair transplant before then . . .


Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Which would *you* choose?

I've been a pretty good blogger on Tuesdays and Fridays the past few weeks - probably a record for me to be that regular! I read blogs every single day and comment on many, but posting . . . I'm a bit of a slacker.

So it's Tuesday and I'm hunkered down with these massively big editorial revisions and pulling my hair out and trying not to cry. Really - I'm hunkered down even as we speak! Well, I will be as soon as I post this and quit playing with my new iPad . . . ahem.

I have noticed that when I get up after each revision session I've got a terrible neck, shoulder and back ache because I'm so stressed wondering if I'm just making the manuscript worse.

I am **extremely** excited to be working with an amazing editor at Harpercollins (really, her editorial letter was pretty brilliant and our 2 hour phone convo a week ago even better) and I recently received two packages in the mail from her. Mail, especially packages, is ALWAYS exciting!

Exhibit A:

Here is what came inside those mysterious, yellow padded envelopes.

Exhibit B:

First, my marked up and edited manuscript with tons of questions and scenes to expand and make *sing* (swallows hard)!

AND yesterday I received a book that my editor worked on, DON'T TURN AROUND, which looks fabulous. A page-turning, rockin' suspense YA novel.(Thank you so much, dear Karen! It's my first book from an editor, too!)

So which would you choose to spend time with? I'm so tempted to crack that spine! But I know I will never make next week's deadline if I do.

Am I allowed one page? One line?

"When Noa Torson woke up, the first thing she noticed was that her feet were cold. Odd, since she always wore socks to bed."

Okay, I peeked! But I swear I will not read on!

What's odd is that the word "cold" is also in the first sentence of MY novel.

"A cold, sharp moon hung low in the eastern sky as I pulled back the heavy flap of the tent and peered into the darkness."

So Happy Tuesday = you get a teaser from my novel, pictures and angst. Isn't that what a good blog is all about?


Friday, August 03, 2012

Fan Mail Friday - The Artistic Version

It's Friday evening and I'm just now posting. Busy day buying my new Apple iPad - my first Apple product ever! So, yeah, monumental day - ha, ha. (I celebrated by working on editorial revisions in the afternoon as well as paperwork and a trip to the fax store for a student loan for my son).

Every first weekend of August New Mexico has a tax-free weekend for people to purchase school clothes, school supplies and electronics for students and families - and save a little money. Really helps the retail businesses. Believe me, the stores are BUSY! Best Buy was packed and they had pallets of iPads and all kinds of electronic goodies.
If only it came in *purple* I would be the happiest girl, 
but pink is the next best thing!

I've been thinking about making this purchase for awhile and I am excited by all the wonderful things an iPad can do. It will be especially handy for when I'm traveling (which has been increasing the past year or two personally as well as with my life as an author) and next year with two books launching with both Scholastic and Harpercollins, I have a feeling travel is about to go into overdrive. I'm already booked for a Houston Author Teen Event in February, I'm a presenter at SCBWI Niagara Falls in May, a Whitney Award judge for LDStorymakers in May AND Book Expo America the end of May/early June - and that doesn't include any book launch events to be scheduled or school visits. And it doesn't include my 3 week trip to the Middle East (Jordan/Israel) in November.

Before I'm off to play with my nifty new toy while I watch all my hours of recorded Olympics, here are some terrific pieces of artwork sent to me by some of my new friends who've read my books. I *love* them! I feel so honored and thrilled that they took the time to draw or create something inspired by The Healing Spell. Here is a link to the book trailer I made for The Healing Spell - it's already received nearly 5200 hits, and for a middle-grade book by an unknown author I think that's pretty darn good! Yay!

Here is Livie and her baby gator and family and house.

And here is the swamp created out of tissue paper and some very cool yarn. See the hanging moss? Feels like we're right there! 

Thank you so much to my wonderful artist and reader friends! I will treasure these!

Happy Weekend, everyone!

P.S. So what have been your favorite Olympic moments so far? I confess I sit and cry through all the women's gymnastics.



Winner of The Southwest Book Award!

Time travel, war, love, rattlesnakes, magic . . .

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