Saturday, October 31, 2009

WriMo Begins at Midnight Tonight!

Before I decided to enter the National Novel Writing Contest,I pictured WriMo as several writers alone at their computers writing for hours, getting encouragement from their online buddies, and reporting their progress daily. I had no idea just how big or how social it has become.
Here in San Antonio they are having a huge get-together for over 400 people at a local restaurant. It starts around ten o'clock and ends around three in the morning of November 1. Apparently this will be happening in cities all over the world.
During the month of November, members will gather for community write-ins to encourage each other as well as have a lot of fun.
No wonder so many writers have participated for several years. But at midnight tonight I will be sleeping, tomorrow I will begin writing...after church, after a big breakfast, after a nap... I'm sure I can set enough time aside to get the 1,667 words needed to stay on target the first day if I start in the late afternoon. Yeah, I can do this...

Sunday, October 25, 2009


All of a sudden I'm getting nervous. One week to go and decisions have to be made. I still haven't come up with my main character's name! I've narrowed it down to a couple. I guess when my fingers hit the keys she'll tell me her name.

I have a very murky plot plan and will jump right in and start writing November 1. Usually I outline and make a detailed plan, including chapter scenes, but with my first NaNoWriMo I'm just going to wing it.

To all my NaNo Buddies...GOOD LUCK!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

October Rain

October has been good to San Antonio and the surrounding areas. We have received rain, lots of rain. Right now the hurricane from the Baja area is sending clouds over us and just a minute ago a nice soft rain began falling. Everything has greened up and even some of the grass roots that didn't die in my backyard are sending up green sprouts. Of course when the first frost comes that will end but hopefully the yard will recover enough to survive the winter.
The National Weather Service has predicted a wet and cold winter. We have moved from Stage 3 water restrictions to Stage 1. Hopefully by the end of this month we will finally be off restrictions and on the road to a normal spring.
This rain has lifted my spirits and today I sat on the patio with pencil and paper in hand writing a synopsis for the NaNoWriMo novel. I found out I do need to know where I'm going before I sit down and begin the race to write a complete novel in thirty days.
Ten days to go....

Monday, October 19, 2009

Nathan Bransford's Blog on the First Paragraph Contest

According to Nathan's blog today there are three important functions of a first paragraph: " establishes the tone/voice, it gets the reader into the flow of the book, and it establishes trust between the author and the reader."

He goes on to say, even if the paragraph starts with action, "'s very important to draw in the reader methodically, with one thought leading to the next..."

What I appreciated about his taking time to explain his thoughts on how he weeded through 2500 entries to get one winner is that I learned something that made sense. For the past five years all I've heard or read is to pull the reader in with action and jump right into the story. So when I first read the finalists I thought that these are not at all what's been drummed into us. There was even some discussion on writers' boards about "flowery descriptions". Nathan takes time to explain: what he looks for, what was right in the first sentences of some but immediately fell apart in the second or third sentences, and what really worked in the ones he chose.

One of the things he also asks is that each of us go back and make sure we read every single paragraph in the slushpile. If we do, things will become clearer as to what is right or wrong. I'm not sure I'm actually going to do that, I want to--but there are simply too many of them!

Because of that attitude, I have formed a brand new respect for the first readers who have to weed through slushpiles!

Nathan has announced the winner--go check it out!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Nathan Bransford's First Paragraph Contest

I entered this because it looks like a lot of fun and so many Blueboarders were entering. I got a little mixed up and posted 3 times and had to go in and remove two of them (sigh). I know! Maybe he'll think I had three super entries and had to choose the best!

I'm approximately #742. Here's the link:

Friday, October 9, 2009

Serra Swift Freelance Editor

Serra Swift is a freelance editor who offered her services on the SCBWI Discussion Boards. I needed a fresh eye to look at my WIP so I emailed her. Serra was so delightful and forthcoming, I immediately sent her my MG mystery/suspense: Secrets at Wentworth.

What I received from her was an absolute treasure. She covered grammar, spelling, characterization, dialogue, plot points--everything I needed to begin a focused revision.

Serra gave me exactly what I hoped to get-a thorough critique with a detailed edit at a fair and competitive price. If you need a freelance editor I recommend her highly and will be asking for her help again!

Thanks, Serra!

If you click on her name above it will take you directly to her site.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Eleven by Patricia Reilly Giff

Just read on Verla Kay that the "FTC is requiring bloggers, posters, and the companies who woo them to disclose free review copies."
( this is a quote from a poster who quoted the Publishers Weekly e-newsletter) Apparently this has opened up a real can of worms, so to speak, but there will be no problem if the reviewer simply states that they have received free copies.
The books that I have mentioned or will mention in the future are ones that I have personally purchased or received as gifts from family and friends.

Having said all that, I now want to mention a book I just finished and afterward sat there with the book in my lap just thinking about it. I haven't done that in quite a while. The title of the book is Eleven by Patricia Reilly Giff. It is about Sam MacKenzie, a young boy with a reading disability, who discovers a newspaper article in the attic with his picture at three and the words Sam Bell and Missing. From there begins a search for two things: find a trusted person to read the article to him and the truth about his past.

Patricia Reilly Giff has created memorable characters, a compelling story, and brought to the reader an intimate understanding of students with learning disabilities. The children who read Eleven will surely look at their fellow classmates in special classes with a new respect and empathy.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo

Last night I registered to participate for the first time in the National Novel Writing Month . This is where my goal will be to complete a 50,000 word novel in one month. I've decided not to plan or outline or choose characters. I'm going to just jump right in and see where it takes me...maybe...I do have the rest of October to think about it...

Friday, October 2, 2009

Submission Responses

Received a "not right for my list" response from my first agent query. It was a little disappointing but totally expected since she is so busy. I had another agency all picked out and this one likes to see the whole manuscript by email in a submission form on their website. I liked that! So much easier to submit that way. As I do my research and pick out agencies/agents, it seems that every agency has different requirements. I decided to mark my submission as exclusive so that now I have three months, maybe four, to polish up the query letter, synopsis, and make sure the first five pages are perfect. My fingers are crossed that I won't have to use them.

Some good news: I received my first hold card from a print magazine on a story submission. Even if they reject it, that's the farthest any of my stories for a print magazine has progressed so I'm thrilled. Of course, it goes without saying that I'm hoping they don't reject it and I'll be even more thrilled!

I just read Peg Kehret's book, Stolen Children. It is an excellent suspense with some interesting view point changes. She's got some wonderful mysteries for children and her book Five Pages a Day: A Writer's Journey is very motivating for writers and anyone else with something they need to overcome and rise above. She has a great website that includes material for teachers covering some of her mysteries. I also love reading her blog!