Sunday, November 6, 2011


          Why am I having such a hard time finding the time, energy and motivation to write anything these days? I wrote my first rough draft while raising 5 kids and working two jobs. I am still raising those 5 kids but only working a part-time job now. So, why is it that I can't fit in a few hours a week to write? Fighting with health issues and keeping up with the kids and such is only part of it. I need to get excited about a story again. I have several ideas jotted down, partially outlined, and even started but I can't seem to get in to any of them.
 I put them aside and brainstorm a new idea? Pick one and just get going on it and hope my enthusiasm kicks in? Sigh...I guess it's time to hide away somewhere and get busy. I know I can make the time to do it, it's just wanting to. Go away dark cloud hanging over my head. :/

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Eenie Meenie

          I haven't accomplished much by way of writing or revising this month. I need to get motivated for Nano wrimo. I have the story in my head, so I'm set there. My problem now is that I've come up with a new idea for a revision on a current novel. It will involve re-writing several chapters. I tackle both? Work on the revise until Nov. then take a break? Hold off on the revise? Decisions, decisions.
          Then there's the middle-grade book I need to get going on. It's going to involve some mathematical figuring before I can work on it. It might have to wait until next year.
          This month has been crazy busy and next month will be worse. Time to break out the creative techniques and notebooks. A laptop would solve that problem. I wonder if Santa will surprise me this year.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Shuddering at just the thought

          I had plans to attend an author panel and book signing with my oldest daughter last night. Her day was changed when her friend returned home from South Korea after being gone for several months. Instead, I took my eleven-year-old. I wasn't sure how she would like it, but she had fun...except for standing in lines. She didn't complain, though.
          As I listened to them answer questions I couldn't help but think how terrified I would be to do that. I've suffered from a social anxiety disorder my entire life (selective mutism) and public speaking is at the top of my list of fears. I have become comfortable with having my writing read and critiqued (the first few times were pretty nerve-racking), but the fear of having all focus on me and my mind going blank is horrifying.
          Hats off to Becca Fitzpatrick, Michelle Hodkin, Elana Johnson and Moira Young. They were awesome!

Friday, October 7, 2011

What motivates you to write?

          In my case, what motivated me to begin writing was a couple of friends persuasive attitudes. I was busy at the time, working two part-time jobs and being a mom. Looking back, I don't know when I fit in time to get much writing done and wonder why now, being less busy, I find it hard to do nearly as much. Maybe I'm just getting old. ;-)
          Hoping to get published, of course, is great motivation. For me, writing is also a great escape. After parenting 3 hormonal teenage girls and a pre-teen daughter, along with a son with ADD...a fictional world of my choosing is a fun place to visit. Maybe it's my way of getting to be in complete control. I dunno.
          Trying to keep up with a critique group is motivational, too. In fact, I need to decide which book to focus my attention on next or I won't be sharing anything after a couple more weeks. Hmmm...eenie meenie...

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Best thing I've done

          How many times do you revise your manuscript? How many readers do you have go through it? At what point do you decide it's ready and move on to querying?
          If you decide to self-publish, do you put as much work into it? Do you still have it critiqued by multiple people who know what they're doing? I think it's way more important to do those things when choosing this route.
          Have you ever ran across a self-published book and wished you could help re-write it?
          That is what critique groups help prevent.
          If you aren't a member of one-find one to join or start your own. You not only get wonderful suggestions for perfecting your manuscript, but get to enjoy reading others. (Even if they sometimes make you feel inferior because they're so amazing. ;-) )
          Workshops and seminars are wonderful, but joining a critique group was the best thing I've done for my writing. My critique friends are awesome!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Doing things the hard way

          After critique group last Friday, I had planned on blogging about the importance of getting into all of your characters heads; not just the main ones.
          I am grateful for an awesome critique member who caught a big OOPS! in my writing, because I wasn't fully into that characters head when I wrote it. Lesson learned.
          So, now that I've touched on that, I want to write about something else.
          Sitting on one of the many full bookshelves in my home are three thick binders. Inside these binders are lovingly typed out history pages that my eighty-nine-year-old grandma made for each of her grandchildren.
          Many relatives offered to teach her to use a computer. They told her that it would be quicker and easier. She refused, wanting to use the old typewriter we had played with as kids. (I remember having contests with my brother to see who could get the most keys stuck sticking up). This is one of those typewriters with the carriage that moves as you type and then has to be manually returned. No cut and paste. No delete. Mistakes were covered with white-out, then re-typed. Tappity-tap-tap-ching!
          How easy we have it now.
          I was at my grandma's house today and asked her if she still uses that old typewriter. She responded that she does occasionally, but needs to be careful because she doesn't know if she can get new ribbon for it.
         I doubt any of us will convince her to switch to a computer. But, those books are even more special to us because of the extra effort it took her to complete them.
          The next time you're dreading glad that you aren't doing it on an ancient typewriter with a bottle of white-out. :)

Friday, September 30, 2011

Pizza toppings and missing restrooms

          I had the thought the other day about books compared to pizza. I've been reading a book, by an author I usually love, but it is too detailed for me. It's like a piece of pizza with everything, including anchovies, and I want to get rid of those anchovies. I love a good slice of pizza and, even more, a good book. Sometimes, though, a slice of plain cheese pizza is between those slices with everything (except the anchovies).
          On another topic, last night I had a dream where I was in a massive, never-ending building. It included everything from a chapel to a gymnasium to a dentist's office. The only thing it didn't have was restrooms...and that's what I needed. Another comparison popped into my mind. How many times have I had a story in my head, filled with cool locations and characters, but missing an important element... maybe a decent plot or a thought out ending. How many times did I just drop the idea, rather than putting some effort into working it out. (Like as much effort as I put into trying to locate a restroom in my dream--which I almost succeeded at, but then woke up).
          Sometimes it's worth the extra effort to put more time and thought into an idea. When you've already got the crust, sauce and cheese, it's time for some creativity to finish off those toppings. What started out as a twinkling of an idea might become your favorite story.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

That's life

          Do you ever have something happen that just begs to be written down? Some funny incident that must be included, somehow, in a book?
          I have had quite a few lately. I really need to start keeping a file or something. A log of fun ideas and characters that I might be able to use someday.
          Whether it's the oblivious, eclectic woman who has continuous bad luck or the studious little boy who says the funniest things in such an intelligent way...I'm sure I'll find use for some of them.
          As for the irresponsible male babysitter from my dream last night...he won't appear in anything soon, but, you never know, I might have a spot for him one day.
          And, just so there's no confusion, I'm not saying that I would write a carbon copy of a person into a story. One little facet; a personality quirk or redundant wardrobe. (Like the guy who only wears plaid shirts). Then again, maybe fiction will wind up more fascinating than real life and I won't need that file after all. :)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

No revisions allowed

          I spent this morning at my grandma's house, scrapbooking. As I finished some pages, I got to thinking. When I do a scrapbook page, once it is done-it's done. No alterations, no revisions. Some pages I whip through and throw together without much thought or effort. Others, I work harder at and put more effort into. I put in extra details and work hard to make it the best I can.
          It got me thinking about my writing. Sometimes I zip through, not focusing on making it the best I can. Whether it's because I want to get to a better part or just be done...kind of like scrapbooking.
          What if, once I finished a page, or a chapter, I couldn't make any changes to it? What if I put more time, thought and work into making it better the first time through? Luckily, unlike scrapbooking, I can revise my writing as many times as I want or need to.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Making plans

          At a certain point, I get burnt out on a project. Other ideas tumble around inside my head, begging to get out. I have two projects both finished in rough draft form. My goal (but don't hold me to it) is to work on them until the end of the month and then try something I haven't yet. Nanowrimo. Twice.
          I haven't done a middle grade book before, but that's my goal for October. And, for November, a fun idea that's been obsessing my thoughts. A story my teenage daughters (or at least the two who enjoy reading, if I can keep them off the computer and their iPod touches) will love.
          My other goal is to have set times for writing and revising. If I don't make the time, it doesn't always happen. With the kids back in school, it should be easy. Right?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Choosing a book to read

          Two incidents arose this week. The first was a delivery from Amazon. I was super excited, but bummed that I still had 4 library books to read first. Then, as I began to read one, I realized I had already read them. :) So, on to reading about peculiar children. (Funny sister mentioned this book today and said she needed to loan to me...a little late for that).
          Second, my daughter needed to pick a book for English. "It needs to be fiction." Hmmm...shelves and shelves full at our house. I handed her one, she'd read the cover and hand it back. This often coincided with a snappy, "That sounds weird."
          After refusing several books, she finally settled on one. It is one I haven't read yet because I'm waiting for the last 2 books to come out and have plenty to read in the meantime. However, my mom has read them. She stopped by today and was scanning my books. She asked if I had read those particular ones yet and informed me they were 'strange'. So, hopefully my daughter is okay with strange over weird. ;-)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


          I find myself proof-reading everything these days-books I read, my kids homework, my husband's emails...I can forgive typos, but I had to nicely point out to my daughter that: "Joe said, "Who is that? She's super cute," he thought," just doesn't cut it...which is exactly what she needed to do-cut one of them, and before posting it online. :) I'm hoping she went with thought.
          My favorite, though, is when I have no critical points to make. When I can read and enjoy a book without thinking, "a kid that age would NOT do that," or "too many details...boring me to death," or other negative things.
          Something I've been noticing a lot lately is the extensive detailed parts. It's interesting how one author can do it and I hate it and scan through it quickly while another author does it and I think, "Wow! How did they manage to write a whole page on that and keep it interesting?"
          That's my new goal; to read through my manuscripts and find places where I can add details and strive to do it well.  Wish me luck!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The importance of reading

          I was thinking about this last night. I have always loved to read. I taught myself to read at age 4 by listening to my sister, who is 2 years older than me, and watching her finger move under the words as she sounded them out. In first grade, my teacher brought out a basket of paperbacks that only I was allowed to read--because I was the only one that far advanced. I remember picking out a Little House on the Prairie book. By the time I hit junior high I was often zipping through a book a day.
          Fast forward to my children. I have one who shares my obsession with books, one who I have to fight with to even get her to read mandatory books for school, and three that fall somewhere in between.
          It got me thinking about other family members and friends and how those who love to read, and read often, succeed(ed) better in school. They strive harder. This may not be applicable to everyone, but it's pretty accurate for those I thought about.
          My next thought was-"How do I get my less than enthusiastic kids to read more?" The obvious answer is to find books they enjoy. I get library books for my two youngest. Sometimes they are a big hit (Araminta Spookie) and sometimes they aren't. I encourage them to read beyond what is required for school. If that means reading a graphic novel, Lego magazine or the sunday comics, at least they are reading and doing so by choice.
          The daughter who hates reading I think really just hates taking the time to actually get through a book. If she finds something she likes (Twilight series-but no other vampire/werewolf/etc. books, Hush, Hush, or--pat on my back--the novel I wrote) then she will read it late into the night and sometimes more than once. :) It's getting her to pick a book and giving it a chance that's the struggle.
          It is my oldest daughter who reads almost as much as I do. She also writes and is creative and artistic. She has come up with amazing storylines. Now if I could just get her to finish one.
          My love of books is obvious from the overflowing bookshelves throughout our house. Hopefully their presence will influence my kids to grab one and curl up with it, unable to put it down even when they are supposed to be going to sleep. Whether it be Sir Farts-a-lot, Harry Potter or mythical creatures...I want them to love stories.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Write it down

          I learned early on not to trust my memory--especially if it was something that came to me late at night as I was trying to fall asleep.
          I've jotted ideas down on receipts, napkins and kids spelling lists. When I am in the zone and spending a lot of time thinking of ideas they often come to me at inconvenient moments. If I don't write them down, I don't always remember them. (Even when it is a book title that I will never use just because of a ficticious storyline I made up to tease a friend).
          Another handy tool for me is a notebook. I don't have a laptop, so a notebook is useful when I'm sitting in the school parking lot or waiting for kids at the orthodontist. Then I just have to fight with them to get on the computer to transfer my work.
          Even if it's an idea I might not get around to finishing anytime soon, or not at all, it's nice to have reference other than my memory which ain't what it used to be. ;-)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Critique Groups

          First, you need tough skin. This was a particular challenge for me since I struggle with selective mutism. On the other hand, it has been a huge boost in helping me overcome it. Second, YOU are the author and you don't have to use every suggestion people make. Example:  Grandma went to the movie with me and Susie. When someone tells you that it should be 'Susie and I' they are wrong. You know your characters and where your story is heading. If you aren't sure about changing something-hold off. Give it some thought. Have a few readers read through the entire book and give their recommendations. Preferably readers who often read and enjoy your genre.
         It is beneficial to receive feedback from multiple people and fun to give feedback to others. It is, however, frustrating that it takes so long to get through an entire manuscript at 5ish pages a week. This is another reason why it's good to find people who can go through it quicker and give an overall critique as well as page by page.
         Most important of all-have fun! When it gets to be a chore, take a break or move on to something else. Sometimes just writing for my own enjoyment and that of my teenage daughters is the most fun of all.