Monday, September 27, 2010

Yay! Ready to Mail!

It's seven o'clock in the evening and, after one very long week, I just sealed the envelopes. Tomorrow I go to the post office and send off my submissions to the editors with crossed fingers.

It took longer to rewrite the synopsis but it's shorter, tighter, and much better so it was worth the effort. I'm not sure how long before I receive a response, but that's okay. It's out there again, looking for a home. Now I can visit blogs and find out what all of you have been doing.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Polishing and polishing again, when is it ever good enough?

I've worked almost all day yesterday, polishing the first three chapters of a middle grade mystery/suspense. I thought it was perfect months ago. By nine o'clock last night the first chapter didn't even come close to its former version.

 I think it's finished, again. This novel has been through two critique groups and submitted, then it was critiqued again, edited again, and sent out, only to be rejected. I put it away for a few months. When I pulled it out, I thought it would just need tweaking, but I was wrong. It wasn't that things weren't written correctly, it was that I saw possibilities that would make a stronger main character.

The thing that upsets me, now that I've changed the first part, I have to put away my present WIP and revise the rest of this novel to refine the character arc. First, though, I need to get busy polishing that terrible synopsis I thought was so wonderful.

Is it just me or do all writers grow and evolve so much that nothing will ever be good enough for our inner editor?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

SCBWI: Southwest Texas Editor's Day Conference

The Editor's Day Conference in San Antonio was great. Editor Sarah Shumway, from Harper Collins, and Editor Julie Ham, Charlesbridge, spoke on very good topics. Sarah Shumway covered the topic of the author/editor relationship. She reminded us that the relationship can thrive or suffer depending on the attitudes of the participants. An author has an intention in mind for her manuscript and writes in service to that intention and the editor's job is to see the intentions and help bring the manuscript to be the best it can be. The problem arrives when the author doesn't like the editorial suggestions. She suggests that the author take time to consider the changes, take them to heart, and try to make it better. If the author disagrees with the changes then they need to discuss it with an open mind. The author should not fall apart, solicit second opinions through tweets and social networks, or shoot off a nasty letter.
Julie Ham's topic was on Character and Voice. She stated "Anything in the world can happen to your character at any time, but what should happen are the things the character cares about. As though the character has told the writer what to do." The character should be unique, relatable, grow or change through the course of the story, and we should know what is important to and motivates the character. Voice, she said, is the attitude your story has toward the plot, setting, tension, and character. It doesn't have to be a strong dialect or speech and is probably better when it is not those things. Voice should be recognizable, consistent,and appropriate to the audience. The most provocative thing she mentioned about voice was that it is not necessarily what your characters sound like but it is what your book sounds like (and this is not just for fiction)

The first pages session was very interesting and I learned a lot and took some good notes. ( I was disappointed they didn't cover mine but they could only do ten in the time alloted) Since they said you could send in a synopsis for the first pages session they covered two of them. I was glad about that because one of the synopsis samples made Sarah clap for the first sentence.  Since it's someone else's work I don't think I should write it here, but Sarah's reaction was: "Personality! Personality in a synopsis!" So, that's a clue to one of the things that sets off a synopsis.

Carmen Tafolla, the keynote speaker, recipient of the Charlotte Zolotow award for What Can You DO with a Paleta? (Tricycle Press) gave an inspiring presentation. Her main theme was that we should write with authenticity. You don't have to live in New York like she used to think to have something worth writing about. She drew upon her life in the "poor" side of San Antonio in her writings. She said that everyone has an authentic voice.

We also received those magic coupons that let you bypass the slushpile. I bet you can guess what I'll be doing next week!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Book In A Week

I just read on Verla Kay where Marie Lamba, author of What I Meant..., is writing a book in a week.

She's blogging about it at

It is an intriguing idea...I wonder...hmmmm...

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Tropical Storm Hermine

I haven't been writing like I should. The summer doldrums hit hard in August and I just couldn't seem to get excited or energized to come up with new ideas that were worth pursuing. Until today.

Tropical Storm Hermine blew through bringing heavy rains and wind gusts that tossed the trees around leaving debris in its wake. While the winds blew and the rain lashed against the windows, my writer's mind began to work over time. I came up with a couple of really good and spooky "dark and stormy night" ideas for stories.

It feels good to get excited about writing again. Tomorrow, while I drag all the fallen branches and debris to a pile, maybe I'll even get a couple of really good "after the storm ends" ideas, too.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Two New Blogger Awards!

Amanda at Madameduck has been gracious enough to award me two blogger awards. Thank you!

The Rules for The Versatile Blogger Award:

Thank and link back to the person that gave you the award.

Share seven things about yourself.

Pass the award to fifteen bloggers that you think deserve it.

Lastly, contact all of the bloggers that you’ve picked for the award.

                                          One Lovely Blog Award Rules:

Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link.

Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you’ve newly discovered.

Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

One thing about blog award rules, they can be modified to the individual so here are the results of my modifications:

I want to award these awards to 12 newly discovered bloggers who deserve more followers. I am so glad I found them and hope you will check them out:

  1.Jess at Falling Leaflets
  2.Shellie at Chapter Writer
  3.Kenda at Words and Such
  4.Kelly at Barwick Blog
  5.Blee  at Blee Bonn
  6.Erica at Chapter by Chapter
  7.Elissa at Elissa Cruz
  8.Christina at Christina Klizen
  9.Kathryn at Kathryn Jankowski
10.Liz at Gotta Write
11.Christine at Inwardly Digesting
12. Melissa at M.B. Writes

I can think of four things you might want to know about me:

I hate housework with a passion but give me a beautiful day in a vegetable garden and I can spend hours happily on my hands and knees weeding with my favorite garden tool--a paring knife.

When it comes to landscaping and gardening, I used to be a formal garden addict. My sister once told people that if we lived in pioneer times and were blazing a trail through a woodsy area, she would be hacking the trail and I would be behind her pruning all the bushes into popcorn balls.

I see my doctor every six months but spend the last month vigorously exercising and dieting to drop the pounds I gained the previous five months and fool him into thinking I exercised the whole time. (He pretends he doesn't know-I like that in a doctor)

In my early working years on the way to becoming a teacher I was a dental assistant, an art department secretary in a university, a kitchen supervisor in an individual residence hall of a state mental hospital, and a private secretary to a woman who quit her job and moved away owing me and others money.

Thank you, again to Amanda, for giving me these blogger awards!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Writing Descriptions

Night Blooming Epi

A friend of mine and her husband are voracious readers. She has been a huge supporter of my writing from the beginning and knows I like to learn from other writers. Last night in an email she wrote:

"(husband) convinced me to read James Lee Burke's new book. He absolutely loves the way he writes descriptions. Everytime he reads one of them he goes on about how you can just visualize the settings and events. The vocabulary he uses is amazing and we find ourselves looking up the words we have never heard of. What is interesting is the books are easy to read and understand despite the wide vocabulary."

This made me think about the way I write descriptions. Am I the kind of writer that would make a reader convince someone else to read my work because I write great descriptions? Sadly, I have to admit, I do not, yet...I did a lot of soul searching and looking through my present WIP. My descriptions are adequate, a few are memorable, but I definitely need to improve.

We've been urged to write tighter and tighter in children's writing but rev up the action. We are supposed to grab them immediately and not let them go. Most of their focus is on video games, CD's, TV, DVD's, text messaging, and so many other things that have to do with speed and immediate gratification. Even in the classroom, the teacher has to keep their attention with some type of dog and pony show when presenting a new lesson. That is not a bad thing, I've done it myself and thoroughly enjoyed it, but I can't help wondering if we may be shortchanging children today.

 In The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing by Med Leder, Jack Hefron, and the editors of Writer's Digest, Janet Fitch wrote in her chapter Sense and Sensuality, "Think how paltry our lives have become at the end of the twentieth century, compared....other regions of the world still rich in uncensored sights, sounds, smells, textures, tastes."

I would like to believe one of the purposes of a writer in this century is to bring the desire for each reader to go out and experience the sensory world around him. Janet Fitch's article contains six exercises to improve descriptive writing, I think today's writing time will be spent doing those exercises and applying them to my WIP.