Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Not only did I despise the thought of having to write, I hated the process. I didn’t have a computer in my home, so any efficient writing had to be done at work or at the library. The thought of sitting at the table, tablet in hand, to write LONG HAND! It was too time consuming and too much work spent in laborious revision.
It's not that I don't have stories to tell. I have always loved making up stories, performing on stage, and singing to an audience. I tell stories to my school children all the time. But once the story is told I rarely remember it later.
Then one day my husband gave me the best gift ever – a laptop. Just a few weeks later during a parent / teacher conference a particular student admitted that she loved fantasy and adventure stories. She wished there were more stories about girls. I couldn’t stop thinking about what she said, and that very night I sat down at my laptop and typed out the beginning of my first novel.
I found myself thinking about my story all the time. It was a puzzle to be solved. I couldn’t wait to get home from work and lose myself in a world of my own creation. How could I have thought writing was torture?
I decided I wanted to make my story the best it could be. I made a trip to a local independent bookstore, The Blue Marble, in Fort Thomas, Kentucky, to find books about the craft. As I was at the checkout the bookseller asked if I was a writer. I told him I was a “wannabe.” He laughed, and then he extended an invitation to come to a local children’s writer’s critique group. I decided to go, and I’ve been a regular attendee ever since.
I have just finished my first novel. I’m sending it out into the world soon. Hopefully it will find a home with a publishing house. But while I wait I have another world to create, another relationship to build, and a story to tell.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
What a terrific feeling! I just sent the final chapter off to my critique partner. I have a list of revisions I know I need to make. Once my revisions are complete, I have a fresh reader lined up to critique for plot and character consistency. In the meantime, I'll write a synopsis and query letter. I already know who I'd like to send it to first!
I know this is only the beginning of what could be a very long journey, but it's one I feel prepared and committed to make. I've been looking forward to joining those in the trenches (and secretly hoping I won't be there very long). I'm ready to push my firstborn out of the nest and into the publishing world. And while I wait, I've got the bones of a another novel calling to me, and I have ideas for future novels as well.
What a great way to end a year!
Monday, December 22, 2008
My sorrow comes and goes with little reminders. Making chocolate chip cookies – Sara and I were lucky to have more than one batch make it to the oven. We ate too much of the dough first! Christmas shopping for my children – my heart breaks for Sara’s boys. There is no family gift exchange this year. Sara was the one who organized the exchange. Instead, this year we will donate to a charity. It is a good way to remember her, and I like to think that she would be pleased.
The reminders come as I watch friends at church. It has been a year of loss there as well. Bertha and MaryLouise are gearing up for the first Christmas without their husbands. Edna lost her sister and nephew within three weeks of each other. Another family is enduring a 2nd holiday season without their teenage daughter. It is evident that pain is still fresh.
But through it all I am also reminded that this is a season of hope. It’s why we celebrate Christmas in the first place. I am a woman of faith. And as such, I know that even though I grieve, those that are gone but lived in faith are not lost to me forever.
To those of you who have suffered loss this year I wish you comfort and joy. And to everyone: May the holiday season hold many blessings for you and your family.
Merry Christmas to you all.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
I did finish reading a few books since my last post. I read CORALINE, by Neil Gaiman. I enjoyed it very much, although it was rather creepy. CORALINE is coming out soon as a movie. The film's website is a blast. You can check it out here. Neil has been blogging about CORALINE in his journal.. It's quite interesting and worth the visit.
I also read FOUND, by Margaret Peterson Haddix, the author of the Shadow Children series. The School library Journal blog sums it up best... "Thirteen years ago an airline attendant saw something impossible. When the plane appeared on the tarmac it somehow appeared without anyone realizing it had landed. Stranger still, it contained no pilot, no crew, no adults at all. Just thirty-six babies strapped in their seats. Fast forward to present day when new friends Jonah and Chip check the former’s mailbox. There, resting inside is an unsigned note that simply reads, “You are one of the missing.” A cruel prank? It certainly seems that way until Chip gets the same letter. Then they both get a follow-up that reads “Beware! They’re coming back to get you.” They? They who? There doesn’t seem to be much rhyme or reason to the notes until Chip discovers that he and Jonah have something in common. They were both adopted. And with the help of Jonah’s sister Katherine there’s more to discover. Why does an FBI agent have information about the boys’ birth parents? Why did Katherine see a man appear and disappear in an office one day? Who’s been sneaking around Jonah’s room, looking through his things? And what’s the real story behind that plane? The answers lead the kids to discover their connection to seemingly impossible events." My thoughts? It's a really great read!
And last but not least, Brenda informed me she has tagged me for the Honest Scrap Award (Thanks, Brenda!).
"Scrap means left over, fragments, discarded material. Many times truth and honesty are discarded material, considered fragments and left over. People like us need to tell it like it is, and let the scraps fall where they will. There are 2 guidelines for receiving this award. One, you are to list 10 honest things about yourself. Make them interesting, even if you have to dig deep. Two, present the award to 7 other bloggers."
So here goes:
1. I started writing my novel on a dare from a group of 10, 11 and 12-year-old students. Their point? They said they have to show me their writing so I should have to show them mine. I discovered I really like to write for an audience.
2. I have less than 5 pages to go and the first draft of my first novel will be complete. I'm not sure I want to finish it. What happens if it sells? Can I keep up with the responsibilities? And if it doesn't sell? The disappointment could be huge.
3. I'm pretty blunt sometimes. I don't mean to be. I just am.
4. I have a healthy dose of the bossy gene. It runs heavily on the Taylor side of my family!
5. I work with gifted kids and love it!
6. When I went to college after high school I couldn't decide between graphic design, music or dance. I chose music performance and was doing quite well, but when my son was born I decided I needed to be home - not traveling. It was a good choice.
7. I still think about taking art classes. Maybe Santa will sign me up for one?
8. I usually keep a private stash of chocolate, and I don't share.
9. I hate having my picture taken - even for the school yearbook.
10. I would live in sweats and tennis shoes if the world would let me. Appearance is overrated. Let comfort reign!
CJ, Angie, Chocolateer, Kim, Linda
Sunday, November 30, 2008
My writing is like this too. I don't have written lists, but I do have little rituals. As soon as I sit in my chair I check email. Next, I skim the Verla Kay boards for anything new since the last time I looked. It doesn't take long. Usually, no more than an hour or so has passed since the last time I looked. I check my blog to see who has stopped by. And finally, I open the Visual Thesaurus I have booked marked on the computer to use as a writing reference (great site BTW). At this point I am ready to write.
Lately I've added another little ritual to my writing routine. This one, however, has turned out to be a problem. I hate to admit it, but I've started playing games on the computer. The shame! I think I will simply play 10 minutes, just for fun. When I'm done, I'll get right back to writing. Except 10 minutes turns into 30, then 60. Before I know it, my writing time is wasted and I've accomplished nothing. My daily to-do list isn't completed, and I have to push writing to the next day.
Today, I'm deleting the game I downloaded. It's become a destructive distraction - an excuse for not finishing a WIP. Time to get back to business!
What are your distractions?
Friday, November 28, 2008
1. Never make public goals that are impossible to keep (NanoWriMo).
2. Blogging is addicting.
3. Edit before you post.
4. Visit other blogs.
5. Bloggers are fun people!!
I'm looking forward to the next month of blogging!
Thursday, November 20, 2008
LibraryThing is a cool tool that helps you create a library-quality catalog of your books. It’s easy to join. Simply go to the site, enter a user name and password, and you’re done. You can set up your books on a “bookshelf” or in a list. The first 200 books entered are free, or you can enter as many as you like for $10 (year) or $25 (life).
The site allows you to search, sort, and edit book information. I typed in my titles, and the Library of Congress or Amazon filled in the rest of the information. You can also rate your books and write reviews. Because you catalog online, LibraryThing can connect you with people who read the same things. You can keep your library private, or you can share your profile. Your profile connects you to people who share your books.
The website also allows you to create and join groups – much like Yahoo groups. You can start clubs or private groups for friends. You can also participate in the group forum called “Talk.” The forum system allows you to see the conversations happening in all groups or just your groups.
Another feature is called LibraryThing Local. LibraryThing Local keeps track of bookstore events, library and book festivals, author readings, signings, and discussions in your area.
Take a few minutes and check it out. Take the tour. It's worth the visit. Have fun!
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Sarah Prineas’ characters jumped off the page and into my heart. Conn is a quiet observer. He’s intelligent and honorable. His voice rings true, and I was sympathetic to him from the beginning. My favorite secondary character is Benet – a hired thug and bodyguard who likes to knit and cooks a good biscuit.
The Magic Thief is the first in a planned trilogy. I am already impatiently awaiting the second book!
Publisher: HarperCollins 6/2008
Nano update: 7704 words
Saturday, November 15, 2008
I've decided to take up Rena's wedding photo challenge. After rummaging through the cobwebs in the crawl space I located the album (and decided I should probably store it someplace other than the crawl space).
Thursday, November 13, 2008
GOES TO... The Bookshelf Muse!
I am proud to say I am an "Esteemed Stalker" of The Bookshelf Muse: a collection of musings about reading, writing and other randomness.
Troubles writing a description? Not a problem. A simple trip to Angela and Becca's Setting Description Thesaurus will put your thinker back in gear. Does your character have issues with expression? Visit the Emotion Thesaurus - "an 'idea bank' for the times when you get stuck."
I have recommended this site not only to my writer friends, but also to my coworkers who teach writing. Keep it coming, ladies! Terrific site!
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
- a reputable agent is familiar with the needs of the current market and will evaluate your manuscript accordingly
- they should determine the quality of your piece and whether it is saleable
- when your manuscript sells, your agent should negotiate a favorable contract and clear up any questions you have about payments
- agents have limitations - representation does not guarantee sales - it only recognizes potential in your writing
- some agents may offer criticism or advice on how to improve your work
- "Breaking Down the Query Letter"
- Finish your novel before submitting
- Logline: 1 sentence summary
- Pitch: 3-6 sentence summary (also known as book jacket pitch)
- Short synopsis: Front to back telling of the story. Introduces characters, conflict, and includes ending. Told in present tense. 1 page single spaced, or 2 pages double-spaced.
- Long synopsis: General rule of thumb - one page summary per 30 pages text
- Full (spotless) manuscript
- check out the new GLA blog at www.guidetoliteraryagents.com/blog
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Friday, November 7, 2008
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Monday, November 3, 2008
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
20 Apr. 2002. (08 May 2008).
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Suzanne Collins, author of The Underland Chronicles, has a new book on the market. The Hunger Games tells the story of Katniss Everdeen, a 16-year old girl who lives in the 12th district of Panem, the remains of what used to be known as North America. Life is difficult in District 12. Katniss spends her days hunting illegally in the forest to bring food and supplies home to her mother and younger sister, Prim. Long ago the districts rose up against the Capitol and were defeated. As a reminder to the districts that the Capitol is in control, they must now participate in a nationally televised competition called “The Hunger Games.” The tributes (contestants) are chosen by lottery – one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 from each district. The games are a fight to the death. The last contestant breathing wins. When 12-year old Prim’s name is called as a tribute, Katniss immediately volunteers to take her sister’s place.
Mix The Lottery, by Shirley Jackson, Survivor, and the Roman gladiatorial games in a bowl and season liberally with political and romantic tension. The result is a riveting read that is difficult to put down. The Hunger Games is at times harsh and violent, occasionally funny, and always intriguing. It is the first book of what promises to be a fantastic trilogy.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
I have less than 20 pages to go on the first draft of my WIP, and they are excruciatingly hard to get on paper. I’ve already written the ending. I know exactly what needs to happen – the dots will connect just fine. But I find myself distracted - jotting notes for another character that is whispering a different kind of story to me. And I’ve written a synopsis for a possible second adventure for my current protagonist. I suppose it’s a good thing to have ideas springing anew, but I wish they would stay out of the way long enough to finish my current story!
When I was a kid we had big family reunions the first weekend of every July. They were held on a small farm nestled in the hills of Goddard, Kentucky. Each year when we arrived a grinning cousin or two met us at the gate. They would toss me a lemon and run. I knew what to do. I would squeeze and squeeze until my lemon was soft and didn’t have much of a shape anymore. That’s when you took your lemon to Aunt Billie and Aunt Tena. They were on the back porch with a big washtub, surrounded by 5 lb bags of sugar, making lemonade. The smell was sharp and sweet. It was hard to wait for a cool glass of fresh lemonade on those hot, sticky, July days. But when that icy cup was finally in your hand it was grand!
I’m a writer. I’ve been squeezing lemons for a while, and now it’s time to put together the lemonade. I look forward to sharing with you my reflections on books, writing, and the stuff of life. Stop by and visit again. Share your two cents. I'd love the company!