Tuesday, December 14, 2010

December Snows

Well, we're now almost midway through December. Nano has come and gone, and I didn't make my goal, which means I lost my Nano wager and I'll be doing some art for a writing buddy.

But I'm happy that I tried. November was one of my most productive months yet, and I'm now midway through chapter three of my current paranormal fantasy. I haven't done much writing since November wrapped up. But I'm reading, and plotting my book.

As I sit here, fat snowflakes continue to fall outside, and after lunch my son and I will bundle up and shovel another three inches of snow (rather, I'll shovel, and he'll pelt me with snowballs). This holiday season is definitely feeling very Christmas-y, with the daily Lake effect snow we've for several days now.

Things are slow with my writing groups as well as we all try to juggle work, family, holidays and writing, which ends up being a good thing, since the snow has firmly put me in hibernation mode.


k.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Almost at the Finish...

Well, I didn't get ANY writing accomplished over the Thanksgiving holiday. I find it both disappointing, but cool, to see my progress this month in the sidebar to the right *waves in that general direction*.

Viewing that list, it's completely clear that unless I crank out a couple thousand words, I'm not going to make my 7500 word goal, and, dang it, I will be making some freebie art.

But on the other hand, writing has happened! I probably won't meet my goal this month, due to work, exhaustion, the holiday and a couple bouts with the common cold virus, but still, I wrote. I'm heading into the big scene in Chapter Three, and progress has been made.

Congrats to my Nano friends who are closing in on 50K (or who've reached it already, *cough-jealous-cough*)! No matter what happens between now and Nov. 30, I'm going to try and see this month as a victory.

k.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Nano - down to the wire

Well, unless I get serious over here about and crank out a few thousand words, I might just not meet my self imposed, unofficial Nano goals. Which would mean that I'd owe a certain writing friend some free art. Better get cracking!

I did have a good day yesterday though. Oh, I only eked out a couple hundred words, but I'd been sitting over here stuck at the beginning of chapter three for several days. I kept thinking that the scene I was about to write was ho hum, unnecessary, a snooze, but I felt I needed it. Then last night it hit me. The problem wasn't that the scene was no good. It was that it wasn't a scene at all! What I was actually writing was a SEQUEL.

If you don't know what a sequel is, sequels basically
  • follow scenes
  • allow the character to react to what just happened, then plan a new goal


Chapter two ended on a scene, and instinctively I'd followed up with sequel, but I wasn't recognizing it as such. I still haven't internalized this craft part of scene-sequel-scene-sequel yet. But once I did, everything fell into place. I was able to plot it out, and now hopefully I'll find some time today to flesh out the sequel and move on to the next scene, in which I introduce a subplot and sleazy badguy. :D

k.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Nano 2010 Mid Month Update

Well, it's the middle of the month and a pesky cold and some unexpected art deadlines really derailed my momentum. But I'm hoping to get my mojo back this week and make up some lost writing ground. My goal is to hit 7500 words by the end of the month.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Unofficial Nanowrimo: Day 2

Well, it's day two of Nanowrimo, and so far, I've managed to hit my word goals! Yay me! Yesterday I wrote 2+ pages worth of plot notes, scene notes and character notes (which I am counting, because I usually pre-draft my next scene before I write it). Today I wrote 413 words so far of actual draft, and finished scene 2 of chapter 2. I'm going to keep my running daily totals in a sidebar in this blog, just to keep track of my progress. I hope I can keep it going!

k

Monday, October 25, 2010

Nanowrimo 2010

In just a few short days, Nanowrimo 2010 will begin. (Never heard of Nano? Check them out here: http://www.nanowrimo.org/)

In previous years, I've been a Nano participant, but I've never "won" - ie, managed to stay on track and write the goal of 50,000 words in the month of November.

I won't be participating this year either. Firstly, I want to keep writing my current novel in progress, and the rules state you have to start from scratch. Secondly, I'm pretty sure there is no way in h-e-double-hockeysticks I'll be able to make the suggested daily word counts, and I don't feel like setting myself up for automatic failure.

I am feeling the excitement of the event, however, as I watch my internet writing buddies make mock up covers of their planned Nano books, and make blog posts about their planned Nano adventures.

So I'll try to harness some of that energy, and do my own mini Nano.

The rules? Write 250 words per day on my completed novel. No exceptions.

So Karyn's Nano goal would be:

250 x 30 = 7 500 words

A far cry from 50,000 but that is my minimum goal for the month. If I can write more, so much the better! Bab steps over here, people. Baby steps!


Happy writing to all the NANOWRIMO particpants. :D

k.

Monday, October 18, 2010

My own private Idaho - er - blog

Some things.

First, I've been reading blog advice lately, and one of the key things that successful author bloggers say is not to blog about yourself all the freaking time if you want to build a readership. LOL.

I have a million blogs and sites out there on the internet, including my main one, and many of those are diverse, with larger readerships, or hits from google. This blog is mainly for myself, to track my own writing progress (or lack of it), and for my fellow writing group members/friends to check in on to help keep us motivated.

So sadly, I probably won't be getting many readers to this particular blog, since it's a giant whine-fest. LOL. And that's okay. In fact, maybe that's a good thing. Maybe I need a semi-private corner to vent and angst and kvetch in.

Last Thursday night at my weekly writing session, I was able to get the first scene of Chapter Two drafted. Oh, it stinks, and I have a feeling it will continue to stink until I finish the book and go back with 70,000 more words of character and world building at my fingertips before I'll be able to turn it into a decent scene. I just don't know enough about the two characters yet and their dynamic to really get it out of generic blah land and into a tense, zippy phone call. I need to accept this and move on.

Which is terribly hard for me to do. Not only do I want to pick at it to death NOW until it's "perfect", I can't move forward because I didn't know enough about what was going to happen in the next scene. Like, nuts and bolts stuff, like details about the setting, the name of the joint the MC is heading to, etc.

I had some vague ideas, but they didn't seem fresh. But last night I spent some alone time thinking, and I think I solved the problem. I just need to flesh out some more detail and then hopefully the next scene will start playing in my head.

Lastly, I caved in and checked out a library copy of THE HUNGER GAMES, a dystopian YA novel which apparently is super popular. For those of you who haven't heard of it, here's the School Library Journal blurb about it from the book's Amazon page:

In a not-too-distant future, the United States of America has collapsed, weakened by drought, fire, famine, and war, to be replaced by Panem, a country divided into the Capitol and 12 districts. Each year, two young representatives from each district are selected by lottery to participate in The Hunger Games. Part entertainment, part brutal intimidation of the subjugated districts, the televised games are broadcasted throughout Panem as the 24 participants are forced to eliminate their competitors, literally, with all citizens required to watch. When 16-year-old Katniss's young sister, Prim, is selected as the mining district's female representative, Katniss volunteers to take her place. She and her male counterpart, Peeta, the son of the town baker who seems to have all the fighting skills of a lump of bread dough, will be pitted against bigger, stronger representatives who have trained for this their whole lives. Collins's characters are completely realistic and sympathetic as they form alliances and friendships in the face of overwhelming odds; the plot is tense, dramatic, and engrossing. This book will definitely resonate with the generation raised on reality shows like 'Survivor' and 'American Gladiator.' Book one of a planned trilogy.


 I'm not a fan of dystopian anything, so I'm very reluctantly reading this book. I had it sitting around on my kitchen table for a few days, and finally cracked it open this morning. And so far it's living up to the buzz. Despite myself, I was drawn into the story in the first couple pages. Maybe not page one. But when author Suzanne Collins described Prim's cat, and the MC's history with it, I got interested despite myself. (I don't want to give the details here in case you haven't read it.) It's a short bit of reaction and exposition, but it surprised me, and made me very interested in the MC and her world. Which is a bummer. I was really hoping to dislike it. Sigh. We'll see if my interest holds through the rest of the book.

k.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Using a query to refine your story

I've recently completed chapter one of my paranormal fantasy, NIGHTWATCH, and as I've gotten some early feedback, the story has been morphing from my original idea, which is a good thing. But as I change things like the character's age, which changes her experience level, this makes changes to the plot.

Originally I wanted the character to have years of experience behind her, but now she's only five years removed from the event that gave her power, and still struggling with everything that has changed in her life. This totally altered the plot of the book. I've been able to keep the core conflict, but the side plots have all been scrapped, because they simply don't work anymore (IE: vampires. Buh-bye vampires.). However, I do think they'll fit into sequels - if I ever get that far - so I'm saving all my notes.

So this morning, I tried a trick that I've seen mentioned in a few how to write novel books and posts. Namely, even though your book isn't even finished, try writing a query as if it were. It really puts a spotlight on what your main character's primary emotional story arc is, and what the main conflict is.

So I wrote a three line teaser blurb for my story this morning, and the words "desperate" showed up, and "redemption".

This excites me! Now I have my story's theme: Redemption, and I have my character's main motivation, Desperation. I vaguely knew I wanted to include those two things before I wrote the story blurb. But after writing it, I see that I haven't been infusing the prose with those two things yet.

And that's okay. I can go back in rewrites and tweak. But as I move forward into chapter two, I'll have this in the back of my mind and I know my story will be stronger for it, because hey, desperation just oozes urgency, and urgency is good for plot.


NOTE: Please, please, please, if you want to try this technique, keep the query for yourself as an exercise only. It is a huge no-no to query unfinished novels to agents and editors. I know I shouldn't have to say this, but... just in case you had the urge. Resist!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Cool Contest: Get Your Picture Book Edited

All over the internet, authors and agents routinely do give-aways for books and hold contests for query critiques for novels. But Dear-Editor.com is doing a very neat giveaway that's just for picture book authors.


To celebrate Dear-Editor.com's six-month anniversary, the Editor is giving away a free edit of one picture book manuscript.  And, if you blog the contest, or mention it in your social media, you get more entries. I've got a couple picture books sitting around just begging for an edit, so I'm going to give it a go.

The Deadline: MIDNIGHT, OCTOBER 10, 2010, PST.

To read all the contest rules, visit Dear-Editor.com's contest page.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

good post on publishing for newbies

I used to be a reporter for a newspaper, and so technically, I used to be a professional writer earning my living with my words. However, now that I'm no longer writing articles and I'm working instead on picture books and novels, I consider myself among the ranks of publishing newbies.


What I hear a lot of from some of my fellow unpublished comrades is that they feel that publishing is 'unfair' or that agents are 'mean' or that you have to know someone or be famous, and above all how hard the publishing system is and how it's just not fair.

Many of the people who cry loudest about this are people who do not have an accurate assessment of their own work. While definitely promising and talented, their writing just isn't there yet. They aren't ready but they think they are, so instead of looking at their own work, and trying to figure out how to make it stronger, they look for someone else to blame. Or they blame the publishers for only publishing crap (When honestly, the publishers are hanging on by the skin of their teeth in this economy, and so, who can blame them for pushing commercial and popular books?). Or they look for ways to game the system. You get the picture.


Today Writer Beware had an excellent post on how publishing is not a crap shoot. I urge all my fellow unpublished and aspiring writer peers to read it. It illustrates that while the system isn't perfect, we writers shouldn't think it's "us" versus "them".

I also don't understand why some people are desperate to be published, so much so, that it blinds them. When I was a teenager, locked in the backroom with my ancient floppy disks and first gen computer, I pecked away on fantasy stories late into the night. Never in a million years did I dream that the stories I was working on would be published. Oh, I knew that someday when I was all growns up I'd be a writer, but those stories I wrote for ME. For the sheer joy of the telling and the practice and the creation.

I'm trying to get back to that place in my own writing journey, where the joy of the writing comes first, and publication, if it comes, is pure icing on the cake.

-k

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

under the weather

Not much happening over here since I've been under the weather. Finished draft '9' of my picture book THE GOODNIGHT KISS and want to try and get two editor queries together for it this week.

This week's B&N session will probably be interrupted because I'm trying to get ready for a local art fair that happens on Saturday. Next week I'll be back to writing as usual. :D

k

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Reading Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

Not much to report around here. Busy on various projects, including my latest WIP. Halfway through the *new* first chapter, and have turned it in to my writing group for critique. Busy editing this week, and trying to prepare for a local art festival.

Reading Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, which was given to me for my birthday by a writing buddy, and boy, do I connect with her.

I always think it's just me, when I sit down to write and nothing happens for the first hour of it but my brain rebelling, my internal critics raging, the internet distracting me, the feelings of failure. But I'm not alone.

I know dozens of artists have written that they go through the very thing, but I always forget and think it's just me, and that I'll never overcome it. But look! I'm not alone in my writer crazies! Here's what Lamott says about it:

"So you sit down at, say, nine every morning, or ten every night. You put a piece of paper in the typewriter, or you turn on your computer and bring up the right file, and then you stare at it for an hour or so. You begin rocking, just a little at first, and then like a huge autistic child. You look at the ceiling, and over at the clock, yawn, and stare at the paper again. Then, with your fingers poised on the keyboard, you squint at an image that is forming in your mind--a scene, a locale, a character, whatever--and you try to quiet your mind so you can hear what that landscape or character has to say above the other voices in your mind. The other voices are banshees and drunken monkeys. They are the voices of anxiety, judgment, doom, guilt. Also, severe hypochondria. ...

...Yet somehow in the face of all this, you clear a space for the writing voice, hacking away at the others with machetes, and you begin composing sentences. You begin to string words together like beads to tell a story. You are desperate to communicate, to edify or entertain, to preserve moments of grace or joy or transcendence, to make real or imagined events come alive. But you cannot will this to happen. It is a matter of persistence and faith and hard work. So you might as well go ahead and get started."

I need to trust in the process, accept the hard work, find the strength to chase away the inner critics and persist. But above all, I need to find that faith she talks about. I have to have faith that no matter how agonizing and difficult the writing is, when I sit down, and quiet my mind, the words will come.

Because they do come, even if it's at a snail's pace. :D

-k.


You can check out here book on Amazon (disclosure: this is an affiliate link). Or pick it up at the library, or wherever you like to get your book goodies.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

New scene

I missed my weekly writing night at B&N due to car trouble this week, so I made up for it last night. Went over to B&N and wrote about a thousand words on a new opening scene. Basically I'm just pushing my first two scenes of chapter one to chapter two. I have a feeling it might wreck my plot, but I'm trying to not to 'judge' and just let the inspiration roll.

k

Friday, August 6, 2010

almost ready to go

Just finished tweaking draft 7 of my picture book, The Goodnight Kiss, and have sent it out to my writing buds for a last look. I'm at that point where I'm starting to just take out and put back in commas, so I'm going to send it off to some editors, hopefully next week and see what shakes out.

Due to car trouble, I missed my weekly writing session at B&N, but the car should be fixed this evening, so I might head over there tonight.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

NPR's Audience Picks for Top 100 Thrillers

Recently, NPR asked it's listeners to choose the top 100 "Killer Thrillers", and they nominated about 600 titles to the list. Today, after 17,000 ballots, NPR announced the results.

I'm a late-comer to the thriller genre. My latest forays in this area have been to catch up on all of Preston and Child's books and all of the Bond books. But in general, I read thrillers only occasionally, and I don't know why I don't read them more often, because I almost always enjoy them.

The one caveat to this is  The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. I've got it on my Kindle, and I've started reading it, but I just can't engage with it yet. The opening was boring me to tears, and I put it down before it had a chance to be, well, thrilling. I need to give it another shot because I'm sure if everyone is raving-gaga-in-love with it, it must be worthwhile.

I've posted NPR's list below, and for my own amusement, I've added an "X" next to the titles I've read. And now I have some nice recommendations to put on hold at my local library. :D

NPR's Top 100 Killer Thrillers
  • [X ] 1. The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris
  • [ ] 2. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
  • [X] 3. Kiss the Girls, by James Patterson
  • [ ] 4. The Bourne Identity, by Robert Ludlum
  • [ ] 5. In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote
  • [X ] 6. The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown
  • [X ] 7. The Shining, by Stephen King
  • [ ] 8. And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie
  • [ ] 9. The Hunt for Red October, by Tom Clancy
  • [X ] 10. The Hound of the Baskervilles, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • [X ] 11. Dracula, by Bram Stoker
  • [ ] 12. The Stand, by Stephen King
  • [ ] 13. The Bone Collector, by Jeffery Deaver
  • [X ] 14. Jurassic Park, by Michael Crichton
  • [X ] 15. Angels &; Demons, by Dan Brown
  • [ ] 16. A Time to Kill, by John Grisham
  • [ ] 17. The Andromeda Strain, by Michael Crichton
  • [ ] 18. Mystic River, by Dennis Lehane
  • [ ] 19. The Day of the Jackal, by Frederick Forsyth
  • [X ] 20. Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier
  • [ ] 21. Eye of the Needle, by Ken Follett
  • [X ] 22. It, by Stephen King
  • [ ] 23. The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas
  • [ ] 24. The Girl Who Played with Fire, by Stieg Larsson
  • [X ] 25. Jaws, by Peter Benchley
  • [ ] 26. The Alienist, by Caleb Carr
  • [X ] 27. Red Dragon, by Thomas Harris
  • [ ] 28. Presumed Innocent, by Scott Turow
  • [ ] 29. The Maltese Falcon, by Dashiell Hammett
  • [ ] 30. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, by Stieg Larsson
  • [ ] 31. No Country For Old Men, by Cormac McCarthy
  • [ ] 32. Gone Baby Gone, by Dennis Lehane
  • [ ] 33. Gorky Park, by Martin Cruz Smith
  • [ ] 34. Rosemary's Baby, by Ira Levin
  • [ ] 35. Subterranean, by James Rollins
  • [ ] 36. Clear and Present Danger, by Tom Clancy
  • [ ] 37. Salem's Lot, by Stephen King
  • [ ] 38. Shutter Island, by Dennis Lehane
  • [ ] 39. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, by John Le Carre
  • [ ] 40. The Poet, by Michael Connelly
  • [ ] 41. The Boys from Brazil, by Ira Levin
  • [ ] 42. Cape Fear, by John MacDonald
  • [ ] 43. The Bride Collector, by Ted Dekker
  • [ ] 44. Pet Sematary, by Stephen King
  • [X ] 45. Dead Zone, by Stephen King
  • [ ] 46. The Manchurian Candidate, by Richard Condon
  • [ ] 47. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, by John Le Carre
  • [ ] 48. The Talented Mr. Ripley, by Patricia Highsmith
  • [ ] 49. Tell No One, by Harlan Coben
  • [ ] 50. Consent to Kill, by Vince Flynn
  • [ ] 51. The 39 Steps, by John Buchan
  • [ ] 52. Blowback, by Brad Thor
  • [ ] 53. The Children of Men, by P.D. James
  • [ ] 54. 61 Hours, by Lee Child
  • [ ] 55. Marathon Man, by William Goldman
  • [ ] 56. The Woman in White, by Wilkie Collins
  • [ ] 57. 206 Bones, by Kathy Reichs
  • [ ] 58. Psycho, by Robert Bloch
  • [ ] 59. The Killing Floor, by Lee Child
  • [ ] 60. Rules of Prey, by John Sandford
  • [ ] 61. The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
  • [ ] 62. In the Woods, by Tana French
  • [X ] 63. Shogun, by James Clavell
  • [X ] 64. The Relic, by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
  • [ ] 65. Intensity, by Dean Koontz
  • X[ ] 66. Casino Royale, by Ian Fleming
  • [ ] 67. Metzger's Dog, by Thomas Perry
  • [ ] 68. Timeline, by Michael Crichton
  • [ ] 69. Contact, by Carl Sagan
  • [ ] 70. What the Dead Know, by Laura Lippman
  • [ ] 71. The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  • [ ] 72. The Cabinet of Curiosities, by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
  • [ ] 73. Charm School, by Nelson DeMille
  • [ ] 74. Feed, by Mira Grant
  • [ ] 75. Gone Tomorrow, by Lee Child
  • [ ] 76. Darkly Dreaming Dexter, by Jeff Lindsay
  • [ ] 77. The Secret History, by Donna Tartt
  • [ ] 78. The First Deadly Sin, by Lawrence Sanders
  • [ ] 79. Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson
  • [ ] 80. The Brotherhood of the Rose, by David Morrell
  • [ ] 81. Primal Fear, by William Diehl
  • [ ] 82. The Templar Legacy, by Steve Berry
  • [ ] 82. The Hard Way, by Lee Child [tie]
  • [ ] 84. The Last of the Mohicans, by James Fenimore Cooper
  • [ ] 85. Six Days of the Condor, by James Grady
  • [ ] 86. Fail-Safe, by Eugene Burdick and Harvey Wheeler
  • [ ] 87. Strangers on a Train, by Patricia Highsmith
  • [ ] 88. The Eight, by Katherine Neville
  • [X ] 89. The Lost Symbol, by Dan Brown
  • [X ] 90. Goldfinger, by Ian Fleming
  • [ ] 91. Bangkok 8, by John Burdett
  • [ ] 92. The Kill Artist, by Daniel Silva
  • [ ] 93. Hardball, by Sara Paretsky
  • [ ] 94. The Club Dumas, by Arturo Perez-Reverte
  • [ ] 95. The Deep Blue Good-by, by John MacDonald
  • [ ] 96. The Monkey's Raincoat, by Robert Crais
  • [ ] 96. Berlin Game, by Len Deighton [tie]
  • [ ] 98. A Simple Plan, by Scott Smith
  • [ ] 99. Child 44, by Tom Rob Smith
  • [ ] 100. Heartsick, by Chelsea Cain
Kind of pathetic! I apparently need to read more thrillers! But look how many of these I've seen in movie version. Still not very impressive, and I can see that my taste for them has dropped a bit, since I haven't seen many of the recent movie versions that have come out in the last couple years:

  • [X ] 1. The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris
  • [ ] 2. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
  • [X ] 3. Kiss the Girls, by James Patterson
  • [X ] 4. The Bourne Identity, by Robert Ludlum
  • [X ] 5. In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote
  • [X ] 6. The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown
  • [X ] 7. The Shining, by Stephen King
  • [ ] 8. And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie
  • [X ] 9. The Hunt for Red October, by Tom Clancy
  • [X ] 10. The Hound of the Baskervilles, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • [X ] 11. Dracula, by Bram Stoker
  • [X ] 12. The Stand, by Stephen King
  • [X ] 13. The Bone Collector, by Jeffery Deaver
  • [X ] 14. Jurassic Park, by Michael Crichton
  • [X ] 15. Angels & Demons, by Dan Brown
  • [X ] 16. A Time to Kill, by John Grisham
  • [ ] 17. The Andromeda Strain, by Michael Crichton
  • [ ] 18. Mystic River, by Dennis Lehane
  • [ ] 19. The Day of the Jackal, by Frederick Forsyth
  • [X ] 20. Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier
  • [ ] 21. Eye of the Needle, by Ken Follett
  • [X ] 22. It, by Stephen King
  • [X ] 23. The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas
  • [ ] 24. The Girl Who Played with Fire, by Stieg Larsson
  • [X ] 25. Jaws, by Peter Benchley
  • [ ] 26. The Alienist, by Caleb Carr
  • [X ] 27. Red Dragon, by Thomas Harris
  • [X ] 28. Presumed Innocent, by Scott Turow
  • [X ] 29. The Maltese Falcon, by Dashiell Hammett
  • [ ] 30. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, by Stieg Larsson
  • [ ] 31. No Country For Old Men, by Cormac McCarthy
  • [ ] 32. Gone Baby Gone, by Dennis Lehane
  • [X ] 33. Gorky Park, by Martin Cruz Smith
  • [X ] 34. Rosemary's Baby, by Ira Levin
  • [ ] 35. Subterranean, by James Rollins
  • [X ] 36. Clear and Present Danger, by Tom Clancy
  • [ ] 37. Salem's Lot, by Stephen King
  • [ ] 38. Shutter Island, by Dennis Lehane
  • [ ] 39. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, by John Le Carre
  • [ ] 40. The Poet, by Michael Connelly
  • [ ] 41. The Boys from Brazil, by Ira Levin
  • [X ] 42. Cape Fear, by John MacDonald
  • [ ] 43. The Bride Collector, by Ted Dekker
  • [ ] 44. Pet Sematary, by Stephen King
  • [X ] 45. Dead Zone, by Stephen King
  • [ ] 46. The Manchurian Candidate, by Richard Condon
  • [ ] 47. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, by John Le Carre
  • [X ] 48. The Talented Mr. Ripley, by Patricia Highsmith
  • [ ] 49. Tell No One, by Harlan Coben
  • [ ] 50. Consent to Kill, by Vince Flynn
  • [ ] 51. The 39 Steps, by John Buchan
  • [ ] 52. Blowback, by Brad Thor
  • [ ] 53. The Children of Men, by P.D. James
  • [ ] 54. 61 Hours, by Lee Child
  • [ ] 55. Marathon Man, by William Goldman
  • [ ] 56. The Woman in White, by Wilkie Collins
  • [ ] 57. 206 Bones, by Kathy Reichs
  • [X ] 58. Psycho, by Robert Bloch
  • [ ] 59. The Killing Floor, by Lee Child
  • [ ] 60. Rules of Prey, by John Sandford
  • [ ] 61. The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
  • [ ] 62. In the Woods, by Tana French
  • [ ] 63. Shogun, by James Clavell
  • [X ] 64. The Relic, by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
  • [ ] 65. Intensity, by Dean Koontz
  • [X ] 66. Casino Royale, by Ian Fleming
  • [ ] 67. Metzger's Dog, by Thomas Perry
  • [ ] 68. Timeline, by Michael Crichton
  • [ ] 69. Contact, by Carl Sagan
  • [ ] 70. What the Dead Know, by Laura Lippman
  • [ ] 71. The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  • [ ] 72. The Cabinet of Curiosities, by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
  • [ ] 73. Charm School, by Nelson DeMille
  • [ ] 74. Feed, by Mira Grant
  • [ ] 75. Gone Tomorrow, by Lee Child
  • [ ] 76. Darkly Dreaming Dexter, by Jeff Lindsay
  • [ ] 77. The Secret History, by Donna Tartt
  • [ ] 78. The First Deadly Sin, by Lawrence Sanders
  • [ ] 79. Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson
  • [X ] 80. The Brotherhood of the Rose, by David Morrell
  • [ ] 81. Primal Fear, by William Diehl
  • [ ] 82. The Templar Legacy, by Steve Berry
  • [ ] 82. The Hard Way, by Lee Child [tie]
  • [ ] 84. The Last of the Mohicans, by James Fenimore Cooper
  • [ ] 85. Six Days of the Condor, by James Grady
  • [ ] 86. Fail-Safe, by Eugene Burdick and Harvey Wheeler
  • [ ] 87. Strangers on a Train, by Patricia Highsmith
  • [ ] 88. The Eight, by Katherine Neville
  • [ ] 89. The Lost Symbol, by Dan Brown
  • [ ] 90. Goldfinger, by Ian Fleming
  • [ ] 91. Bangkok 8, by John Burdett
  • [ ] 92. The Kill Artist, by Daniel Silva
  • [ ] 93. Hardball, by Sara Paretsky
  • [ ] 94. The Club Dumas, by Arturo Perez-Reverte
  • [ ] 95. The Deep Blue Good-by, by John MacDonald
  • [ ] 96. The Monkey's Raincoat, by Robert Crais
  • [ ] 96. Berlin Game, by Len Deighton [tie]
  • [ ] 98. A Simple Plan, by Scott Smith
  • [ ] 99. Child 44, by Tom Rob Smith
  • [ ] 100. Heartsick, by Chelsea Cain

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Today's struggle: openings

Today's struggle: writing backwards and filling in the missing opening scene of the manuscript.

See, I thought I'd try to get around my writer's block by writing the scene AFTER the opener, so as to alleviate the block I always have for the first page of a story. And yes, I was able to write, but now that I'm going back...

Can I just say how much I hate writing the first five pages? It's so intimidating. We all know that we need the perfect opening hook, line, paragraph, lede, lead.... I mean, entire writing books are devoted to the subject ("Hooked" and "The First Five Pages" come to mind, and yes, I own both books).

Here's the list of the do's and don't's that I've culled over my many years of reading writing books and now, agent blogs:

Tips for writing the First Page:
  • You can't start with a character waking up.
  • You can't start with a slow description about the weather - unless it's all foreshadow-y and moody, and you've published before. (Or you've cheated with an exciting prologue, but that's playing with fire too)
  • You can't start with a slow description about the setting (unless you're a 19th century author, or previously published with legions of followers).
  • You could start with dialogue, but some people hate dialogue openings. I'm one of them.
  • You could start with action, but not too much action or you'll confuse the reader and fail to connect.
  • You want to have a character with voice, but too much and it looks like you're trying to hard.
  • Or you're too gimmicky.
  • You could start with description of another character... but not too much. See the above on the dangers of too much description.
  • Avoid prologues. Like the plague. People hate them. No, really. They really do.
  • And the list goes on.
So, is it any wonder I'm all paralyzed over here? I've got a legion of books and agents and others jumping up and down in my subconscious saying, Don't! Nope! Wrong!

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm glad they pointed out all those overused, or problematic first line openers. I just wish I could forget it long enough to let the story flow.

But dagnabbit. Sometimes ignorance really is bliss.


-k.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Prologue or no Prologue, that is the question

Prologues and Zombies, oh my!


ZOMBIE KILLER by *zhuzhu on deviantART

Everyone has an opinion about prologues in stories these days, and lots of confusion surrounding the subject. Many agents are blogging that they don't want to see prologues leading off stories in the slush pile, and yet, books are still being published with prologues on the first page.

I haven't really understood the anti-prologue stance. If done well, they work just fine. That's the problem -- they have to be kick ass, especially if you're going to give up that vital real estate, the all important first page, to them.

Seth Fishman of Sterling Lord Literistic was recently interviewed in the Guide to Literary Agents blog, and he had some of the best advice I've seen yet on the subject.

"This is very personal, as some problems aren’t problems, they are clearly preference. But often a prologue is a problem. It usually means that there is something shoved into the beginning of the novel to add excitement. (Yes, Twilight has a prologue, but you tell me if it adds anything to the book – I’d say sloppy writing, but I suppose this is a perfect example of how subjective the industry is). Letters, people awakening in the first scene, really dramatic flashbacks/flash-forwards are often turnoffs, not because the writing is bad or you can’t do that as a writer, but to me, it is familiar, and feels uninventive. Again, there is nothing wrong with doing anything you want to start a book, but if you do the same thing everyone else is doing, you better make it stand out."
I'd argue his stance that adding excitement by using a prologue is sloppy writing, but I do agree that if you're using a prologue or opening that agents have seen a million times before, it better be the absolute best opening ever, and so crucial to the story you couldn't imagine the book without it.

Also, I was glad to see that he preferred vampires to zombies. What is it with zombie fiction, anyway? I don't like zombies in my movies and I don't like them in books. They are just too yucky. Really. YUCK.

Okay, wait, I do have to say that I like how Laurell K. Hamilton uses zombies in her Anita Blake books, but that's because Anita is a necromancer, so it's raising the dead is her job. But it's just something she does, just one aspect of a world filled with all kinds of supernatural critters.

-k




Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Rejection. Not just for writers

Think only writers have to deal with rejection? Not so! And there's a new book out by Bill Shapiro featuring 'some of the most infamous, and meanest,' rejections out there.



Can't see the video above? Check it out here...


Here's a link to the book if you're interested:




(And in the spirit of full disclosure, yes, that is an Amazon affiliate link, so I'd get a commission if you bought the book through the above link.)

Friday, July 16, 2010

900 words & Koontz Video Interview on his Writing Process

Daily Word Goal: 500
Yesterday's Total: 900 or so

My weekly night out writing & coffee date at B&N was fruitful last night. I managed about 900 new words and made it through the climax of the scene that had been such a struggle for the last several days. Go me!

Of course, I cringe at how bad it stinks, but I'm trying to follow the advice of one of my writing pals who's mantra is, "F*** it, I'll fix it in rewrites."

I am trying to live this mantra but it's suuuuuppperrrr hard for me. I don't know if it's because I'm a perfectionist (I am) or whether it's the writer's equivalent of body dysmorphic disorder


Or maybe I'm just like Dean Koontz, who can't let a draft alone either. Koontz says:

I don't write a quick draft and then revise; instead, I work slowly page by page, revising and polishing.

In fact, he's so meticulous, check out this video; about halfway through he talks about how he 'inches through' novels, revising each page until it's perfect:



However, since I'm NOT Dean Koontz, I think I might need to figure out an easier way to get through my first drafts, or else I'll never finish anything--novel length anything that is.

This weekend is devoted to art commissions, and I have a big delivery of beads and beading supplies arriving. Hopefully I can fit writing in as well.

-k.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Baby steps & I Write Like

Current WIP:
I've got some art commissions that are eating up my spare time right now, so I've only been able to tack on a couple hundred words to the current WIP, and I have a couple hand written pages of scrawled scene action, but things are moving slow over here. Plus there's been shower repairs and other domestic issues that have been pulling my focus away from creative endeavors.

I Write Like...

Some writer friends were posting this amusing site on Facebook today. It's called I Write Like and you basically put your manuscript text in, and it analyzes your writing and tells you what famous author your work is most comparable to. My result? Stephen King. Must be because of all the swear words. :D


I write like
Stephen King
I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!


I don't know what it would say if you tried a rhyming picture book... hopefully one of my SCBWI mates will have a go and let me know.

-k.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Onto something?

Daily Word Goal: 500
Today's Count: 768

So, I've switched gears yet again, trying to find the story that is right for me to tell at this point in my hectic life, and I'm just working on a scene from my paranormal/urban fantasy that's sort of at the beginning of the book. I'm not worrying about starting on chapter one, page one. Just writing, trying to feel out the character and her world.

I've already managed to get 768 words out on e-paper today, which is more than I've done on any other project (in one day) in the last several months. Not only did I exceed the goal, I feel like I can KEEP writing, instead of it being torture.

I'm hoping it's a sign that I'm finally on the right track and my muse and I are on the same e-page.

-k

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Secrets and lies

Today I'm working on a character bible and some notes for one of my stories. Specifically on the minor characters that my MC will interact with on a daily basis. Because they are minor characters, I'm trying to boil them down into just a few details - short descriptions, what they do for a living, what they like, what their goals are and what they fear. But lastly, I'm including a category that's called "Secrets."

I can't remember where I heard this - or read it - but there's this bit of advice on character creation that is sticking in my brain. I think it was from Joss Whedon, from when I was watching the "Buffy" DVDs and geeking out on the extra bonus material.

The gist is, when creating your characters, you should give them a secret goal, weakness, or secret trouble from the past. That way, if an actor leaves the show and you need to kill them off, or you need a new plot line filled with angst and mayhem, you've got it already built into your characters.



For example, in Season one, Giles wasn't always the upright Watcher that he seemed to be on Buffy. When he was a young man he dabbled in the occult, and was a bit of a bad boy. His past comes back to bite him in the butt when a demon possesses his girlfriend, Jenny Calendar (the computer science teacher). And Miss Calendar had a secret of her own - she was secretly sent to watch Angel, because her clan was responsible for cursing him decades ago.

Just look at any of the characters in Buffy, and you'll see a weakness or secret that Whedon and his writers were able to mine for TV gold. Spike always was a romantic. Buffy's boyfriend Riley wasn't just a college student - he was a secret government agent. Anya could never get over her hatred and distrust of men. Wesley was always fighting the shadow of his father. When Cordelia's family lost all their money she'd rather die than let anyone know it.

I'm sure you could pick out other examples. Perhaps you don't like genre fiction or TV and find these examples broad or corny. But the principal is sound. Especially if your goal is to write a series. Plot arising from character is always a great way to write.

So, back to my character bible. This particular story (an urban fantasy type thing)  is standalone, but I'm layering in details now that won't necessarily be revealed in this book -- juuuuuuust in case this one book turns into three or more. :D

photo: James Marsters as 70s-era Spike, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. 


And here's some Spike and Buffy love, because you know you want to see it. Oh, how I love Spike!




k.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Material Girl

So, I find this fascinating. Apparently Madonna and her 13-year-old daughter Lourdes Leon have been designing a new junior's clothing line with Macy's called  Material Girl. If I was a teenage girl, I'd be all about it, because I loved Madge back in the day, and I love her now.

But the reason I mention it is because Lola (Lourdes) is the voice and the soul of the new line, and is blogging for the company's website.

And her blog post is just dripping with "voice". Here's a snippet:

Helluuur thurrrr, I’m Lola and this is my first blog entry so it’s kind of like ummmm….

I’m just going to use this blog entry to tell y’all a little bit about myself. I’m 13 and I’ll be 14 in October, so I can’t wait for that because I am FINALLY allowed to dye my hair… THANK YOU MOTHER!! My favvvv color is black (just because it goes with everything) and my least favorite color is brown (because it resembles the color of something QUITE gross).

If I wrote a first person MG or YA book in this voice, what would an agent or editor say? I'd suspect they'd say I was 'trying to hard to sound like a teen', which is something I've seen on agent blogs in the past.

Could a whole novel be sustained in this voice? Probably not. What can I take from this to inspire me?

Do you find the voice charming or annoying? I love the personality that shines through.

-k.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Verdict is in

Writing pals agree The Peculiar Princess should be expanded into a chapter book, so back to the drawing board I go. Now the only question is, will my diary format work for this project? Let's just say the others were not down with it in the draft they read.

Now, if Billy would stop shoving play-doh at me, maybe I could actually try and start those revisions.

k

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Getting ready for crit group

Last couple of days I've been editing my groups' work for our crit meeting this Thursday. Looking forward to it. I submitted The Peculiar Princess, and after their feedback, I think I'm going to make it my main focus, and hope to get it in an almost-final draft form by the end of August, with the hopes of submitting it in the early fall.

That is, of course, IF I can find time between my art commissions, 'day job', watching my preschooler and getting 300 pairs of earrings made for a local show at the end of August... hmmm... well, the attempt is all, anyway! LOL.

k

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Impossible Picture Book Part 2

Just a quickie update. I'm trying to quickly write out the ending to The Peculiar Princess today, so I can have it ready by tomorrow to turn in to my writing group. But as I'm plugging away over here, I'm getting this nagging suspicion that this story is definitely going to be too long for a standard picture book. And...rather than cut it, maybe I should expand it to a chapter book type thing.

We'll say what my wise group has to say next week on the matter.


-k.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Impossible Picture Books

So, today I actually have positive things to report! Since Thursday night's coffee shop session where I tackled an extremely short picture book, today I managed to work on The Peculiar Princess, and I managed to rough out about 1,000 words of the story -- which is about 3/4 of the book. I have only the ending to write out and the first draft will be complete!

Yay! Go me! LOL.

But now for the bad news, because it wouldn't be a Karyn blog without bad news.

You picture book writers already have a pretty good guess about what the bad news will be. Did you happen to catch my word count in the paragraph above? (Go ahead, check it again.)

See it now? Yup, there it is. One THOUSAND WORDS AND NOT FINISHED.

I've written another unpublishable picture book.

See, in today's market, picture book agents and editors will rarely look at anything over 1,000 words from a newbie like myself. In fact, they actually want to see books that are 500 words or less! So you see my problem?

But my natural inclination, my personal preference -- and this goes back to when I was a young un' reading picture books for the first time -- is for longer stories and fairy tales with gorgeous pictures. Apaprently that's what my subconscious wants to write too.

What's a girl to do? You're supposed to write the book that you'd like to read, but if no one wants to publish it, then what?

A question for another day, I guess. Right now I'll just worry about finishing the darn thing, revise the hell out of it and see what happens.  Hopefully my critique group will have some words of wisdom for me next week, because I'll be turning this sucker over to them on Friday.

-k.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Thursday Coffee Shop Writing

So far, I've managed to keep my new, Thursday night Starbuck's writing tradition going. Managed two hours away from the screaming preschooler, just me and my laptop and a caramel frappacino, and lo and behold, I was able to edit my very rough first draft of The Goodnight Kiss into a slightly less rough second draft.

Wordwise, it's super short. Well, for me, anyway. Including the title and my name, it's coming in at 260 words. In today's picture book market, agents and editors are looking for books that have fewer than 500 words. The problem for me, is, finding that balance between sparse text, and illustrations. In my head, I can see this illustrated out, and it works, but how do editors judge text, language, that's so stripped down? Do they judge your 'hook' or story concept?

The novelist in me wants to write short stories that are 1500 words long, full of description of every action, setting, etc. What helped me last night was to write this one not as prose, but to break it up, as I would a poem. Back in the day (five, six, seven years ago)  I used to do poetry slams, and some of that started to come back to me last night. That rhythm. Maybe if I keep writing in that mindset when I'm writing these picture books, I'll be able to master shorter word counts.

So, success! Accomplishment! And now I have to stop my preschooler from using my bad back as a jungle gym.

-k.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

rejection in my inbox today

I was surprised to find an agent rejection in my inbox after lunch today!

The rejection was a response to a query I made on February 15, for one of my picture books, and it was a very nicely written form letter. At least, I'm assuming it was a form letter. It did mention that my book was "charming" and I'm going to tell myself that they modified their standard form rejection to include that nice little adjective just for me.

:D

I'm actually happy to see it. Just a little more than 2 months for a response, and it was long enough ago that I've lost the freaked out anxious feeling I had when I submitted it. It's actually a nice reminder that I CAN and DO finish books, and I am moving forward with my writing endeavors.

-K

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Manuscript Madness

This past Friday I met with a few other local writers, and we had a fun casual chat about where we are on our writer's journey, and how we could help each other arrive at our goals. Since then I've been trying to figure out what those goals are exactly. It seems simple.

  • Write
  • Get Published

But if you're a crazy genre-hopping dilettante like me, what exactly should I be focusing on in the extremely limited amount of time I have available?

At the meeting, one of my writing friends said that one of these days she'd love it if I would write down all the different manuscripts I have in various states of completion, just so she could see my madness.

Up to the challenge, I combed through one of my hard drives and was sort of horrified at what I found there. Many scraps, many false starts, tons of notes... I'll list here the projects that I still consider 'active' and that either have decent word counts or pieces that I have devoted lots of notes/research time to. I've further broken them out by genre.

And for my own practice, I'm going to try and write one (or two) sentence pitch/query descriptions for them. For novels where I got stuck in the planning phase, this will be extremely difficult, and hopefully enlightening. For instance, by focusing on the core conflict in my manuscript for "The Hunter and the Swan" I realize now how I lost my way in the middle instead of focusing on what matters the most - the dynamic between the heroine, the main character and the rival. Which is probably why my writing of it spun out of control and died.

(all titles are subject to change without notice, because, let's face it, some of them are pretty awful...)

Regency Romance:
Love's Healing Heart
When penniless Miss Geoffries arrives at Dunnray castle to start her new position as a companion to the Dowager Duchess of Oxbourne, she's horrified to discover her job was just a ruse. The current duke has a  very different offer for her to consider, and her answer will determine more than just her reputation, because a web of family secrets and lies from the Duke's shocking past threaten not just her heart, but her life, as well.

The Hunter and the Swan
Five years after a disastrous duel exiles her from polite society, Lady Lilian March decides it's time to brave the London social scene again. But more than just her past stands in the young widow's way of happiness--the man of her dreams is engaged to the one woman in the world who has cause to hate her the most.

Lucy's Locket
Lucy (forgot her last name) never forgot ten year old (Hero), who she met after both his parents mysteriously and tragically died. Twenty years later Lord X (Hero) has returned back home to find a wife, and the most likely candidate is Lucy's gorgeous cousin (NAME). Will Lucy be able to halt his engagement to her cousin and make him see her as more than a childhood friend? Or will the shadows from (hero's) past destroy both of their happiness forever?

Fantasy
Firemage
(this one I see as a series)
     Eleven year old Mist believed she'd always be a kitchen slave. But when her hidden powers flare to life, not only does she find out she's a firemage with the ability to conjure and control elemental fire, she becomes an apprentice to Lyander, a powerful adept who wants to free the mages from their own form of slavery: gladiators for the Targi nobility.
     Lyander and the mages claim to be her new family, but can she truly build a life among them? Especially when both her old master and her new master's rival want her dead?

Gladstone Academy
Zachiah is a normal 13 year old ffrom Chicago, until the morning he wakes up to find that not only has his voice changed, the employees in his father's house look like creatures out of a fairytale.
    Zach has the Sight, and he can see through any enchantment or fairy glamour. His father transfers him to Gladstone Academy, a mysterious private boarding school in Southwestern Michigan for supernatural beings, like vampires, werewolves and faeries.
    When the 'normals' start dying in town, victims of a rogue vampire attack, Zach finds out that one of his new friends, a half-vampire outcast, is the prime suspect. Can he clear his friend's name and find a place for himself in the new school, before he ends up as someone's lunch?

Dragon Warden
It's Eryk's duty to take up a dragon egg for his Forge and become a dragon warden. Trouble is, Eryk doesn't want to stay home and raise dragons; to win the heart of Copper Creek's shield maiden, he'll need to be a hunter like his uncle. But his personal feelings become insignificant when the entire Dwarven race is imprisoned by a dragon-riding elf lord from the plains tribes. Now it's up to Eryk, his baby dragon and a young elf maiden to save both their races.

Wolfhound
When thirteen year old Staven's grandmother dies, he must fend for himself on the edge of the Wood, which, by law, no villager is permitted to enter. Driven by hunger, he does the unthinkable and enters the magical wood after game. When he's saved by Willem and his bonded Wolfhound, Rufus, Staven wants more than anything to become one of the Duke's Hunters, like Willem. But when he begins his training and discovers that he's the Duke's illegitimate son, he takes on more than just his father's name--he inherits a host of enemies, including his own half-brother, and the dread, fae queen of the Wildewood.

Griffin (no real title - this is a very old work, so this blurb will be very rough and sketchy)
Griffin never knew her father, who her mother refused to speak about. When a strange man shows up at her mother's funeral, she will be drawn into a war that will impact two worlds -- not just her own, but the strange, magical kingdom her father once ruled.

Science Fiction

Benjamin Merriweather and the Squidipedes of Nama
    For 900 years, the Earth colony ship Hermaion has been searching for a new home-world, and now the ancient mothership is failing. After one last gamble, the colonists have arrived at Nama, a harsh desert planet already inhabited by two races: the human-like Namat, and the Ul'Rathi, a monstrous race that is slowly exterminating the Namat.
    No one wants to go to Nama more than twelve-year-old Benjamin Merrieweather. To impress his schoolmates, Ben secretly downloads experimental software into his neural-net, and becomes part of his father's planetary expedition team as a translator. But Ben soon learns that the job of translator is harder than he imagined. And worse still, he and the Namat girl Kirsa will discover up close and personal just how terrifying the Ul'Rathi can be.

Starlock
(This one started out as a graphic novel and is a huge space opera that is too big and started too long ago to summarize quickly here. But the main two characters are Jack, a half-human and his imprisoned lover Starlock, the betrayal that separated them, and the fate of two planets. I have several chapters of comic script written on this one, so I might go back to it and redevelop it someday.)

Mystery
Pet Psychic
When a Labrador Retriever is the only witness to his owner's murder by a serial killer, a pet psychic/doggy daycare owner  finds herself working with the police. Can she solve the murder before she becomes the next victim?

Paranormal/Urban Fantasy
Night Watch
(this one I see as a series)
Twenty years after selling her soul to the devil, Chastity Brown now works for him as a bodyguard for things that go bump in the night. But when she meets a sexy half-angel cowboy, she regrets the bargain, and dares to dream of redemption.

YA
Boyfriend Wanted
When 18 year old Lizzie Bennet's boyfriend Jake breaks up with her 4 weeks before senior prom, she decides that the best way to find a replacement is by placing an ad in the school newspaper and interviewing candidates. But in the strange business of love, Lizzie learns that sometimes the best candidate for the job is the one that seems the least qualified.

Picture Books
Too Many Pants
When Princess Grace buys too many pants and causes a national crisis, it takes the King, his ministers and a pant avalanche to convince her that she just might have more pants than she needs.

The following picture books are unfinished and they have very sketchy log lines, because I'm still trying to figure them out:

The Goodnight Kiss
A father who is away on business sends his son a good night kiss over the telephone so that the boy can get to sleep.

Cat Too High (The Cat Who Loved to Climb)
A cat who loves to climb leaves home and scales a huge skyscraper before she realizes that home is where she really wants to be.

Hip Hop Cat
Elvis the cat loves to dance, and he dances throughout the day whenever he wants something in this silly, fun rhyming story.

The Peculiar Princess
Everyone knows that princesses love pink, but not Paisley. Her favorite color is black, and her Royal Parents will stop at nothing to 'cure' her of her peculiar ways.

Alien ABC (no blurb)



Whew! I think that's all of them (not including my short stories). If you made it to the bottom of this huge pile, which project(s) sounded most appealing to you? I'm curious to see what you guys think I should tackle next.

-k.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Writer's Group - May Round

Had our latest critique meeting tonight, was fun and educational as always. It's so cool how diverse our little group is.

Haven't been writing because I have a few more art projects that must get done. Hopefully I'll be back on the writing train again early next week. Maybe sooner if I can get motivated. Just been more in visual arts mode lately. I wonder what my writing productivity would be like if I was a writer only. Could I give up art...?

Silly question.

-k.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Change in scenery

So, last night I tried an experiment. My husband graciously gave me the night off from family time and mommy duties, and me and my Laptop pulled a J.K. Rowling -- we headed over to the nearest Starbucks, where I, with my coffee and sandwich, parked myself for a couple of hours of writing.

Guess what? Away from the clutter of kids toys and the distractions of internet and home, I was able to get focused and I actually got some writing accomplished. I still went round in circles, and it took me the first full hour to push past the resistance (why am I bothering, this sucks, etc) and get in the zone, but overall, I was relaxed, focused, and interested again. I was able to experiment with the opening of my MG story, switching voice and tense and POV, no one interrupted me when I needed to stare off into space and visualize what happened next, and I enjoyed myself.

Lesson learned? I can get back to that happy writing place that I haven't felt for 20 years. The writing inside me isn't dead, it's just all jumbled up by art projects, Mommy duties, and life.

I don't know if this makes me a wimp or not, but I guess I do need serious alone time to get work done. I'm going to try to get at least one night a week at the coffee house. I think the 'me' time is good for more than just the writing. And I'm going to see how I can get more of it daily. Do I go to bed at 9 pm so I can wake up at 4 or 5? If I managed it (it's against my night owl proclivities), I'd never see my husband. Do I continue as I am, but try to get a nap in so I stay up until 3 and only get 4 hours of sleep and then be a grumpy bear to my husband and son? Or should I just stop pressuring myself, write when I can, and if it takes five years until I can get my manuscript(s) finished, learn to be okay with that?

Maybe a combination of all of the above. But I'm not going to sweat it anymore. If I can't be truly productive until my son heads off to school in a year or to, so be it.

Read about the Elephant Coffee House, where Rowling wrote her first Harry Potter book.



-k

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Another Late Night

Daily word goal: 500 words
Yesterday's total: 317
Today's total: TBD

I stayed up waaaayyyy too late last night working on painting, and 4 hours of sleep just isn't conducive to quick firing synapses, so I expect I'll get no writing accomplished today. However, I've wrangled a promise out of the husband to watch Billy for a couple hours this evening so maybe after an afternoon nap and some coffee I'll be rarin' to go.

I might actually not submit anything for my group this month. Maybe I'll just be an editor-only and give myself a break. I'm still trying to convince myself that until my son goes to school, it's okay that I don't have the time or energy to be fully committed to this endeavor right now. Maybe it's old age setting in, but I just can't multitask as effectively as I used to. The chaos and clutter affects me like it never used to before.

Or maybe I just need to man up!

-k

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Oh crud

Apparently my critique group deadline is Friday. Oops. How did that happen?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Ruining my sleep

This is how you know that some of this writer stuff is starting to sink in.

Photo: Jensen Ackles (left) and Jared Padalecki from Supernatural

This morning as I'm sleeping, I've got this lovely little end-of-the-world dream going on (probably all Supernatural's fault), and I (well, me playing the part of a tough as nails cowgirl type) and this other character are trying to round up a few survivors. I pick up this old woman, real salt of the earth type and a recovering alcoholic. Apparently she can't even get a whiff of the stuff without going off her rocker.

Now the wise reader will say, aha! Foreshadowing! At some point this crazy old bat will fall off the wagon with dire consequences.

Meanwhile, I spend several dream pages deepening my relationship for the crazy old girl, so that when, as it inevetitably would, she sneaks just one tiny sip of vodka in a post apocalyptic western town we were rolling through, gets in our car, and smashes it through a store window not only were we

  • horrified for her safety, because we had spent all those dream pages building our relationship with her
  • she totalled the car, which was our sole means of transportation, thus making our situation go from bad, to hell of a lot worse.

So maybe this plotting thing is finally starting to sink in.

Because I included a supporting character in the story with a character with a fatal flaw, I advanced my plot in these ways:
  • Plot complications arising out of character
  • Successfully heaped more problems on my MC
  • Built anticipation by introducing the drinking problem and having it come into play later in the story.

It was a nice change of pace from my recent tornado dreams. Now, if only I could get this down while awake!

-k

Monday, May 10, 2010

70 Children's Classics

Well, isn't this timely. In my last post I was just saying how I needed to ramp up my children's reading, and Puffin just celebrated their 70th anniversary by picking 70 of some of their best books into a list. Is this fate?

Here's the entire list, (and you can read more about it from the Guardian's article here.)

I've added an 'X' in front of the ones I've read, and by 'read' I mean, I know I read it and can remember reading it. The ones that only send up vague recollections of reading, or that I THINK I read, but maybe I just saw the movie version... must go back on the 'to read' list.

The Best Mischief and Mayhem
[_] The Twits by Roald Dahl
[_] Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
[_] The Hundred-Mile-An-Hour Dog by Jeremy Strong
[_] The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole by Sue Townsend

The Best Weepies
[X] Watership Down by Richard Adams
[_] The Truth about Leo by David Yelland
[_] Two Weeks with the Queen by Morris Gleitzman
[X] Charlotte's Web by E.B. White

The Best to Cuddle-Up With
[X] The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
[_] The Bog Baby by Jeanne Willis & Gwen Millward
[_] Peepo! by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
[_] Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy by Lynley Dodd

The Best Blood and Guts
[_] The Enemy by Charlie Higson
[X] Dracula by Bram Stoker
[_] Being by Kevin Brooks
[X] The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The Best Swashbucklers and Derring-Do
[_] Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
[_] Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs by Giles Andreae & Russell Ayto
[_] Young Samurai: The Way of the Warrior by Chris Bradford
[X] Robin Hood by Roger Lancelyn Green

The Best Heroes
[_] Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
[X] Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
[_] Young Bond: SilverFin by Charlie Higson
[X] The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

The Best Characters
[_] Charlie and Lola: Excuse Me But That is My Book by Lauren Child
[_] Meg and Mog by Helen Nicoll & Jan Pienkowski
[_] Angelina Ballerina by Katharine Holabird & Helen Craig
[_] Fungus the Bogeyman by Raymond Briggs

The Best Sugar and Spice
[_] Milly-Molly-Mandy Stories by Joyce Lankester Brisley
[_] The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy
[_] The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
[_] The Princess and the Pea by Lauren Child & Polly Borland

The Best Animals
[_] Spy Dog by Andrew Cope
[_] The Sheep-Pig by Dick King-Smith
[_] My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell
[_] Lionboy by Zizou Corder

The Best Friends and Family
[_] Dizzy by Cathy Cassidy
[_] The Borrowers by Mary Norton
[_] Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
[_] The Family From One End Street by Eve Garnett
[_] Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild

The Best Phizzwhizzers
[_] The BFG by Roald Dahl
[_] Matilda by Roald Dahl
[X] Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
[X] Fantastic Mr Fox by Roald Dahl

The Best War and Conflict
[X] The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
[_] Once by Morris Gleitzman
[_] Goodnight Mr Tom by Michelle Magorian
[_] Carrie's War by Nina Bawden

The Best BEST BEST BEST!
[_] Stig of the Dump by Clive King
[_] Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery
[_] Finn Family Moomintroll by Tove Jansson
[_] How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
[_] Junk by Melvin Burgess

The Best Fantasy and Adventure
[_] TimeRiders by Alex Scarrow
[_] Dot Robot by Jason Bradbury
[_] Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne
[X] A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin

The Best Weird and Wonderful
[X] Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
[_] Five Children and It by E Nesbitt
[X] The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
[X] Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

The Best Rhymes and Verse
[_] Please Mrs Butler by Allan Ahlberg
[_] Michael Rosen's A-Z The best children's poetry from Agard to Zephaniah
[_] Talking Turkeys by Benjamin Zephaniah
[_] Bad Bad Cats by Roger McGough


The Best Alternatives to Twilight

[_] Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
[_] Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
[_] The Luxe by Anna Godbersen
[_] Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen


So, after going through the whole list, I apparently have several books I need to catch up on. Okay, I'm pathetic. I have a LOT to catch up on, and several I think I've read but should probably take a gander at again, like the Velveteen Rabbit. I KNOW I've read it, but I can't for the life of me remember what the heck it's about. So that one didn't count, alas.

And this is just for ONE publisher. Think of all the fun reading I still have to do!

-k.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Doing my homework

I've always been a huge reader. I have more books than I know what to do with (sometimes I even sleep with them, which is both funny and disturbing at the same time), and I read in every subject and genre around, from physics to children's books, from erotic vampire romance to ancient history.

But what I'm not well versed in is the current state of children's publishing. On my shelves I have classics like "Charlotte's Web", "A Wrinkle In Time" the Narnia books, and dozens of other favorites from MY childhood. But that was thirty-plus years ago (or thereabouts), before I remember the terms "Young Adult (YA)" and "Middle Grade (MG)" being bandied about.

So with the advice that every agent, editor and author gives us (namely, to write well you need to read exstensively in your genre), I've decided I need to sit down and catch up on

a) the classics in children's literature that I've missed and
b) familiarize myself with what's going on right now in the MG, PB and YA markets.

I've also joined Goodreads (Karyn's Goodreads page) so not only will I probably talk about some of the books I check out here on this blog, I'll also be rating (and hopefully posting reviews) over there. My current read is "How to Survive Middle School" by Donna Gephart, who was one of the speakers at the conference I just attended. I have high hopes for the book because I'm betting it's got the same warm, funny, insightful voice that she displayed in her talks.

In other news, no writing today. I'm wearing Editor Girl hat today. My critique group meets tomorrow night, and I'm behind already on my editing. Which I should get back to. So later, taters!

-k.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Points Up

I decided it was time to personalize the ol' blog-er-roo. Note the giant picture above. That's actually a page from one of my picture book manuscripts. I'm pooped out from the SCBWI MI conference I attended yesterday. More about that later. Now I have emails to catch up on. *waves*

-k.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Peace and Quiet...NOT

Every day that goes by it's becoming more and more clear that I am seriously struggling to find some way to write while being a stay at home mom.

Take this morning for example. I find that I can write better in the morning (which is opposite of how I used to be). So I check my email, get the boy settled in with Mickey Mouse and breakfast, and for about a half hour I have time to start writing. It takes half of that for the words to start flowing, then I manage to bang out a couple of sentences. Then toddler jumps on me. Concentration shattered. He goes away, I start writing again, then he decides that all his DVDs are toys and starts playing a strange toddler version of shuffleboard-meets-frisbee with them. Concentration shattered as I clean them up and then try to clean up the rest of the room. More emails to be answered. I try to de-stress by looking at writing related blogs after my angry tirade because toddler throws all the newly cleaned up toys on the floor... Thankfully, toddler starts playing nicely by himself again, so I look at my story... and then he wants a snack. I get the snack, and he wants me to play matchbox cars. The phone rings... and so on, and so on...

Now I'm mentally frazzled, and the last thing I want to do is write. By the time nap-time rolls around in the afternoon, I'm exhausted. Same thing in the evenings. At night the words don't come, even if I have BIC (butt in chair) with manuscript open. I'm too stressed and worn out. Nighttime is better for doing artwork or jewelry, not left brain word type stuff, where my hands seem to move on their own, with little interference from an over-tired mind.

This will all change when he goes to school, I know this. The problem is I'm putting way too much pressure on myself to keep up with my writing buddies/peers. Maybe I'm not supposed to take my writing to the next level right now. And maybe that's OK.

-k.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Less progress

I'm one pooped puppy. I'm going to sit here with my document open and stare at it and surf and stare and try to muster my writing brain cells for one more charge tonight, but it's not looking good, folks. Those poor neurons are badly outnumbered by the combined might of exhaustion and resistance.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

some progress

Okay, so today I'm feeling less befuddled and blocked, and there is some slight progress, possibly because of my riff-writing last night. For those of you who are interested in such things, here's the newest version of that snippet I posted before, from the very beginning of Chapter Two. It's still far from perfect, but I think it's rounded out just enough now for me to MOVE ON. Which I better hurry up and do, because I need to turn this sucker in on Friday to my writing group.

No matter how hard or fast Mist scrubbed, the mountain of dirty pots kept growing taller. They covered the entire length of the nearby worktable in a stinking soiled heap of jumbled bronze saucepans, iron skillets, and three legged cauldrons. The truly big ones, the black vats roomy enough to bathe in, were haphazardly stacked nearby, left for Saru and Eno, the two burly kitchen boys.

An hour’s worth of scrubbing, and I haven’t even made a dent. The thought exhausted her. With a miserable sigh she eyed the biggest vat, half tempted to climb inside and curl up like one of the kitchen cats in the cool dark interior. She wouldn’t mind the grime because she already stank of grease. The rancid smell clung to her hair and wafted up from the damp spots on her linen shift.

But she squashed the thought. Someone would miss her and the few, stolen moments of rest wouldn’t be worth the punishment she’d get. Maybe though, she could sneak a tiny break. One just long enough to work out the kink in her back, that spot that felt like someone had rammed a carving knife between her shoulder blades. After a quick glance to make sure no one was watching, she pushed away from the stone wash basin and, hands on her hips, she stretched out her aching back.

“Mist! Back to work,” one of the undercooks snapped.

Without even looking to see who’d issued the order, Mist grabbed the nearest pot and dunked it into the basin. She knew better than to complain on a banquet day. She wasn’t alone in her misery; today every single slave in Master Doro’s kitchens worked at a feverish pace and tempers ran high. Using a stiff bristled brush, she furiously worked at the remains of a creamy mushroom sauce that had hardened into black cement. Four more hours before she got a break, a bite of bread, and a moments rest, and then the clean up would begin. She’d be lucky to see her sleeping mat before midnight. The sauce refused to come clean so Mist tossed a handful of soap pellets into the water and churned it up into a bubbly froth. The harsh soap, which she helped make a fortnight ago from potash and tallow, stung her skin. Her hands would be chapped and cracked before the day was done.

Gods, how she hated banquet days—up since dawn running coal, scouring pots and mostly trying to keep out of trouble. Somehow though, trouble kept finding her.

A heavy hand landed on her shoulder and roughly spun her around.

And now I'm off to change a diaper. Because diapers take precedence over writing, even when you are on a deadline.

-k.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Free Writing

Daily Word Goal: 500 words
Today's Total: 622

God, I tired. I forced myself to do some free writing on this scene I've been agonizing over after everyone went to bed. Covered a lot of old ground, but sparked a couple new ideas to deepen stuff, and help me visualize, so, no real progress at all, but at least I wrote SOMETHING tonight.

-k

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Resistance 1, Karyn 0

Okay, between trips to the zoo, the store, beading, drawing and the regular weekend stuff, I got no writing done. Nada.

Tomorrow my son turns three, so I'm not expecting much writing to happen then either. And my deadline looms! This month's submission to my critique group is Friday.

Gotta find the time to get cracking!

k

Friday, April 23, 2010

Nope, not fun

Literary agent Rachelle Gardner recently asked her blog readers, Is Writing Fun?

She quoted Nicholas Sparks, who, in a recent article, says, "Nope, not fun." (Okay, so he was a bit more eloquent than that.)

I too suffer from "love-to-create-stories-but-hate-to-write-them-itis." But once upon a time I used to muddle through anyway. And when the words were really flowing, I did actually find myself enjoying it. Until my editor brain took a look at the garbage that just spewed forth and, well, you can guess what happened next.

I think the problem is, because it's creative, I expect writing to be fun, or relaxing. For example, when I'm working on a painting, jewelry, or an illustration, I'm almost in this trance like state for much of it, this zen spot in my brain where I lose track of time, and I'm just DOING. Not to say it's mindless. The little art critic that lives inside my head is just as snarky and evil as the little evil editor dude I got.

But it's more right brain stuff. It comes from the same place that my stories do when I picture them in my head.

Writing is a bit more of a left brain activitiy for me. Imposing words on top of pictures. It's more difficult for me. The words don't come easy.

I'm going to try and adopt Spark's mindset, that, like him, when I sit down with my laptop I'm "going to work."

Enough of this hippie-dippie, free-art-loving mindset! I'm going to channel my inner Republican (wait, do I have one of those?)! No more Ms. Nice Gal. I've got a job to do, damn it.

-k

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

New Picture Book Idea

Daily Word Goal: 500 words
Today's Total: TBA

While fixing lunch today, out of nowhere came this idea for a new picture book. While eating, I wrote out the plot, and it's tentatively titled "The Peculiar Princess" which is a) not very original and b) probably been used before. But I need a working title, so there it is.

I'm not sure what's up with my whole Princess theme, except that my first love has always been fairy tales, which is probably why I love the fantasy genre so much. So I'm going to roll with it.

And no, Lula's writer comrades, I will resist the urge to rhyme. Resist I say!

k

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Rejections are GOOD

Daily Word Goal: 500 words
Today's Total: Unknown so far.

Well I was surprised this morning with an agent rejection in my in box. I'm actually happy to see it. Okay, well, not totally happy. I would rather it was a big fat yes! But I'd given up on hearing anything from the rest of my outstanding submissions on this particular project, and I like the closure.

But it IS a positive. It reminds me that despite my recent wailing and angst-ing to the contrary about my novel in progress, I HAVE finished something. I've sent it out there. I'm actively working on my writing career. I'm not a loser who can't make her daily writing goals.

LOL.

I can't wait to get my critique on this piece at the writers conference so I can tweak the story and send another wave of queries out. :D

-k

Monday, April 19, 2010

Move Along. Move Along.

Thanks for the comments on my last posted excerpt. Now that I've posted that bit of writing, and the world didn't implode from the sheer horror of it all, I think I've let go of some of the angst I was experiencing.

Now I just need to find some quiet time to work on the rest of the chapter. For example, hard to write when you have the Imagination Movers singing and are listening to your preschooler interact with a two foot high robotic Elmo, who keeps falling down, sneezing, dancing to kids techno-disco and getting tickled.

...and now I just diverted my son who tried to put said robo-Elmo on my laptop to keep me from typing.

I could switch gears and work on my newest picture book in progress about a good night kiss. It's easier to concentrate on short pieces like that with the boy around. Or maybe it's just that the kid madness is more conducive to the kid story.

No daily word accounting up top yet. Hopefully there will be some by the end of the day.

-k

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Excerpt Chapter Two

So, maybe if I put this down publicly, I won't be so annoyed by it anymore. This is the opening of Chapter Two that I hate and that has stymied me all these weeks. I'm throwing it out here so that I stop being precious about it and MOVE ON with the darn chapter. I need to turn it into Lula's Bunch on the 29th after all. No more messing around! I can flesh it out and fix it in revisions, yes?

Chapter Two

Jeet Doro's Kitchens

No matter how hard or fast Mist scrubbed, the giant, greasy pile of pots kept growing taller.

She glared miserably at the dishes. An hour’s worth of scrubbing and she hadn’t even made a dent in the mountain of pots, iron skillets and three legged cauldrons that covered the length of the nearby worktable in a sprawling stinking heap. The truly big ones, the ones roomy enough to bathe in, were haphazardly stacked nearby, left for the kitchen boys.

She snuck a look to make sure no one was watching, then pushed away from the stone wash basin. She just needed a moment to stretch out the kink in her back, that spot that felt like someone was ramming a carving knife between her shoulder blades.

“Mist! Back to work,” one of the under cooks snapped.

Mist stifled a groan, grabbed the nearest pot and dunked it into the basin. She knew better than to complain on a banquet day. Using a stiff bristled brush , she worked at the remains of a mushroom sauce, which had hardened into black cement. Four more hours before she got a break, a bite of bread and a moment’s rest, and then the clean up would begin. She’d be lucky to see her sleeping mat before midnight. The sauce refused to come clean, so Mist tossed a handful of soap pellets into the water and churned it to a bubbly froth. The harsh soap, made from potash and tallow, stung her skin. Her hands would be chapped and cracked before the day was done.

Gods, how she hated banquet days—up since dawn, running coal, scouring pots, and mostly trying to keep out of trouble. Somehow though, trouble kept finding her.

A heavy hand landed on her shoulder and roughly spun her around.



Okay, off to try and be less precious about the next bit.

-k.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

On a deadline

Daily Word Goal: 500 words
Today's Total: 0

My writing group took a month off to have a state of the union this month, and one of the topics we discussed was the frequency of our critique meetings. We decided to go to a three week schedule instead of four during the summer months, and I'm very excited about it. I work best when I have an external deadline, and this will hopefully force me to crank up my work volume. Our next submission is due on the 29th, so tomorrow I need to carve out some writing time.

On the writing side, while you'll notice my word count is still nil, I've been trying to figure out what is keeping me from getting this next chapter out. I realize that I hate it. Even though I tightened up the conflict, it's boring, boring, boring. Last night I realized that I need to re-think it. Perhaps really engage a minor character who will be a mini villain through the book. Why not pump up her involvement from the very beginning? I'm need to sit down and free think some scenarios between the two characters and see what comes up.

If this was the theater, and I was a director, I could do a bunch of improv work with my actors to figure this out. So virtual improv here I come.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Home again.

Daily Word Goal: 500
Today's Total : 0

Well, the trip to Ohio to see my husband's family was good, but even though I opened my lap top a few times, I only managed to helplessly pick at what I'd already written. So, no significant writing happened over the weekend. My time since has been taken up with taxes, which I've finished tonight, thank GOD.

During the 4.5 hour car ride home, I read Patricia Brigg's latest Mercy book, "Silver Borne" on my Kindle. For the most part I thoroughly enjoyed it, but I was really ticked off by a Deus ex machina of a happily ever after for one of the supporting characters that was WAY too quickly done. It's times like that I wish I was an editor for a successful series. I'd be all like,
"Ooh, great idea, but let's just hint at it. Save the actual HEA for your next short story or subplot in the next book."
I mean, come on, we'd all rush out to buy it and see what happens next. And it won't feel so forced and cheesy.

Oh well. I'm just a hobbyist over here, and have no right to judge.

And thanks to Hadley who fed my friend Widget the Hamster while I was away. :D

-k.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Away for the Weekend

We're hitting the road this weekend to visit family, so I'll be sans internet. But not laptop! Hopefully with other eyes helping to watch Billy, I'll get some writing/work done.

So, in the style of Ryan Seacrest:

"Blog out!"

-k

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Picture Book Pitch WIP

Daily Word Goal: 500
Today's Total: 314

Look! Look! (*Points upward*) I made some words! I probably will make a few more words than this, but I'm both writing forward and editing some stuff already on the page and it will be hard to count what's new, what's been cut, what's old for the rest of today's writing. So we'll average the new stuff so far to 300-ish and call it progress. :D

In more progress-type news, I've been working on a pitch.

A pitch (or log line) is a one sentence description of your book that you're supposed to have memorized and ready to go in case you meet your dream agent in the elevator for example (hence the phrase 'elevator pitch'), or to use when you're attending a formal pitch session at a writers conference. Because I'm going to a conference in a few weeks, I've been advised by wiser souls than myself to have my own pitch polished and ready to go on the off chance that someone asks me for it. And, hey, practice never hurt anyone, right?

Boiling down your book into a one line sentence is just as hard as it sounds, for me anyway. And I was only working with a picture book here! I can't imagine how challenging it would be to get a huge novel with tons of characters and subplots all elegantly boiled down to a tiny pitch.

So here's my current work-in-progress pitch for Too Many Pants:

When Princess Grace buys too many pants and causes a national crisis, it takes the King, his ministers and a pant avalanche to convince her that she just might have more pants than she needs.


So what do you think, writer friends? Are you intrigued? Confused? All feedback is most enthusiastically welcome. :D And now, I must be off to try and squeeze a few more words out of my poor brain before the toddler wakes up and dinner has to be cooked.

-k.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

SCBWI-MI Conference

Daily Word Goal: 500
Today's Total: 0


I'm so excited! I just finished up my conference registration and sent it in the mail today.

This is the first conference I've ever been to, and other members of my critique group are going as well, so I won't be all alone and paralyzed with fear. Strength in numbers, yes?

And the very best, most exciting part of all? I got word that my picture book manuscript made it through the critique lottery and I have a tentative critique all lined up with a children's book editor.

I can't wait to get it ripped to shreds and see just what I'm doing wrong. I'm being serious about that. I have a fairly good idea about what works and what doesn't in novels, but picture books? I'm a total novice in that art form.

The bad news: No writing today. I did jot down a scene idea that came to me first thing this morning. Most of the day was taken up with excursions with my husband and son to antique malls to look for beads (my new obsession). I spent the day either doing family stuff or tearing beaded necklaces apart and tinkering with my beading stuff.

Tomorrow: Easter. We have no plans, so hopefully I'll be productive.

-k.