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.


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.


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!


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!


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

[_] 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!


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!


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*