Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Why Write?

If you had said to me a few years ago that in the very near future I would call myself a writer, I would have fallen over laughing. I hated writing. I spent nine years in college writing – term papers, projects, thesis, evaluations… ugh! Never again!
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.

Keep writing!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


I finished my first novel today (grin). I finally wrote the words, "THE END!"

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!
Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Bittersweet: Loss and the Holidays

This holiday season is different. There is a pervasive sadness that keeps pushing its unwelcome presence into the festivities. And although I am enjoying my preparations for Christmas and family, there is the knowledge that one of us will not participate. My sister-in-law, Sara, was killed in a horseback riding accident this past July. She was 41 years old.

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


The Christmas rush is over (for me at least), and I now have no excuse for not keeping up with my blog. The Christmas Cantata I directed is over. They did great! The holiday break at school has begun - whew. My Christmas shopping is complete, except for my husband's gift. I know what I'm getting him though, and that's half the battle. So now I get to relax, get caught up on housework, read, finish my WIP, and enjoy my family and friends (not necessarily in that order).

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