Monday, January 31, 2011


I could have made the title Fear - but that causes fear so - let's go with courage.

Playtime the other day had been quite fun. Ballet friends. The little girl's mother and I only spoke for that one hour each week. I was surprised when she asked to have a playdate, but what the heck.

We had a ball - I think the girls did too, but the mom and me - we had a ball. I found out she used to write B4 kids and is a webmaster for charity groups. What a find! What a treasure as a matter of fact.

I urged her to get back to writing - I could tell she's one of 'us' - someone who loves it. This morning at ballet, she told me that over the week-end she had gone back and found some of her stuff and was really getting excited and thinking she might be able to start up again. But the defining thing, the sticking in the craw thing - was fear. She was afraid she couldn't write anymore.

Fear does such terrible things to us. It just paralyzes. Takes the joy from our lives. Turns us into Scrooges.

So - I told her to just give me (or send me) little pieces of her stuff and then we could share about it. I don't think she's ever belonged to a writers' group or critique group. Doing things one on one is so much easier, less terrifying, and if you share a cup of mocha (she's got a machine!) then it's even less intimidating.

How on earth we (I) let fear keep us from the things we love. Where is my spirit of adventure? I seem to recall the former governor of PA saying we have become a nation of wooses! As for me, I think he's right.

I have printed out my chapters 5-7 and will pencil edit them this aftenoon - if the little one takes a nap. If not, I promise myself I will do it tonight. Basically, these chapters are done and sent off to my two critique groups. This is just the final 'touch' so that I am as familiar with the chapters as possible for the critique. I know some people write something and then, months later, when they have nothing else to present, pull up the old thing. Then, they can't really remember what it was about. What a waste of time for them. What a sad state.

Hm - perhaps it's not so sad, though. Friends tell me that putting things aside can sometimes make problems disappear, make difficult passages clearer, and make it easier to look at the thing with a fresh and free spirit.

Whatever happens, I'm still enjoying this process. I'll write about the editng later. That is a sure bet to bring me down! And right about now, I'm enjoying the upswing in mood.

Blessings and good writing!

Sunday, January 30, 2011


Before him stood the Tree, his Tree, finished...  He gazed at the Tree, and slowly he lifted his arms and opened them wide.  'It's a gift!' he said.’  -- from "Leaf by Niggle" by JRR Tolkien

I was able to spend time today writing. Not as much time as I had wanted, but more than 1/2 hour, which is always good. The story is a little one that I do not expect to be published, but it speaks to me and I have been remiss in the writing. 'Blue,' of course, takes precedence. But today, the other tale called out to me and I sat and dwelt in the land and suffered with my hero. It was difficult. I want to hold his hand and tell him everything will be all right. But I know it will not.

Tomorrow, I will go back to 'Blue.' But I think, now and again, my other sub-creations must be tended. They are gifts!

Saturday, January 29, 2011


I got my latest SCBWI Bulletin and am mind-boggled by the information contained therein. Honestly, the price of membership is worth it - if only for this publication!

The two I enjoyed the most were: When Writing Deosn't Matter by Karen Collum and How To Meet 14,000 Librarians.... by Pamela Ehrenberg. Both were delightfully funny little moments that touched me. And isn't that what writings all about!

Another piece made me think about the dilemma I am going through at the moment. The old editing / publishing mess. Sneed B. Collard III has published more than 55 books, by different publishers, and is finding it difficult, in today's market, to get a 'good' contract.

I have often felt I was born at the 'wrong' time. Too early, too late. The same now feels true about publishing. I get the impression, it might be incorrect, that if I'd started out when I was seventeen, my chances of getting published would have been so much greater.

Honestly - at seventeen did I know anything about life to write well enough to get published!

Doesn't really matter, though. I know I am committed to this thing called writing. Or obssessed by it. But not enough, I think. I don't wake up at 5am and write (knowing the little one will be up at 8am and I will not be able to even think after that.) I used to write late at night, many times till 3am. But my body doesn't work as well as it used to with four hours of sleep. Or perhaps it's the little one - Let's do this, Ammie - Let's do that, Ammie. Never a dull moment with her, but that does mean that I haven't the energy once her head hits the pillow to even think, let alone write.

Just have to give more thought to how to go about this. Working out how to make the time to write and rest and read and grow and live. I'll get the hang of it one of these days. Honest. In the meantime, I can only laugh and enjoy life.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Why Would I be Afraid?

I'm constantly astounded by how fear can just appear in the midst of my day. I'll be thinking about the story and fear pounces upon me. Quick as lightning. I wonder what it is. I mean - writing is really supposed to be about me. About my creative juices flowing. About the story unfolding in front of me - and  me sitting with a bag of popcorn watching it. And enjoying every minute of it.

But then - this fear thing pounces and I am left strangled, impotent, frozen in time. I can't write. I hate it.

After being furious with myself, I force myself to sit down and write - either at the keyboard or on my faithful yellow legal pad. That usually works. I think it might be the fear of the unknown. There is this land laid out before me, characters standing about waiting, and me in charge. Yikes!

Perhaps if I put myself in my characters' place and yell at me - "Hey! We're waiting. What happens next? Will you get on with it!"  Perhaps that would help me forge forward. Pull out that sword I so handily put in my hero/heroine's hands, and fight the good fight, finish the chapter, and go on to the next.

Life would be so much easier as a writer. Well, enough of that. This character is yelling at me. He's in the midst of a new situation and wants me to get off my arse and tell him what to do next.

Characters! Can't live with them - can't live without them!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Summary or the blasted 'one minute elevator speech'

Doing that quick summary of your book can be a real brain-teaser. You know, the one you have to use when meeting an editor or publisher in an elevator and having that 'chance in a million' to sell your book.

I usually hate it, but this time - I think I've got it pretty close to being perfect. Here it is for 'Nothing But Blue Skies.' 

The world has been turned topsy-turvy by wizards. A fourteen year old, abused princess must save her world and change it back. However, she cannot do it as a girl, but as a boy. Even with a dragon's help, will she triumph?

Now - all I have to do is finish the book *grins*

Monday, January 24, 2011

Excuses - but good ones

Snow and more snow and cold upon bitter cold forced me to have to stay a couple nights with my daughter. Not that I don't love her, but I don't get the opportunity to get 'on-line' whilst at her house.

Excited about the next couple of weeks. Next Tuesday (not tomorrow), I've got my writing class. I just sent out chapters 5, 6, and 7 of 'Nothing But Blue Skies' to the group. Two Saturdays after that, I've got my Skyline group. One of the presenters for February can't make it  - so - hurray hurray - I get to submit again. Also submitting 'Blue' - chapters 5, 6, and 7.

Can NOT wait to find out what their thoughts are. Huge events in these chapters. Very unexpected. This is the place the Muse insisted I change what I had thought was going to happen into something VERY different. I was going to have the heroine cut her hair, put on boy's clothes, and run off to 'squire school' as a boy. Well, the Muse decided Sir Giddly would use magic on her and actually transform Kathleen into Kaspar. I'm excited and a bit scared at what the groups will think. It seems pretty radical to me, but who am I? Only the author! *giggles*

I'll let you know what happens. Now - onto chapter eleven!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Why A Blog?

Honestly, a reader told me that my blog has some inspirational value to it. I will say that I do write in the hope that a tale or character of mine touches someone.

But not here - not this blog. I write here to lift myself up, to force myself to write something, to keep some kind of record as to my progress, my trials and tribulations in writing (editing and publishing too), and to inspire myself to continue.

If I am able to 'inspire' someone here, that's great. If I don't, it wont stop me from continuing to post.

I've spoken with a lot of writers and they are not heavily supported, usually, by family and friends. I find myself in the same boat, most times. My children love me and they love the fact that I'm writing - but they are busy with their own lives. I'm glad for that. Thankfully, not one of them has ever said, 'Get a life, Mom!'

That means, however, that I have no one to deeply talk to about writing... About the things writers go through with blank spaces, odd hours, research, dry eyes, crying jags after killing off a beloved character, computer neck, editors, critiquers, sore derriere, where on earth the story is going, and if the 'odd' thing that the Muse insists I include is really stupid or perhaps incredibly brilliant.

That's why I started writing this, but I find now that I have held back on some stuff. Wanting to not burn bridges or whatever by using this gift of blog to speak of things I really need to for myself - in relationship to my writing and my writing career.

Critique groups are great. Classes are great. There is not enough time in either venue to share.

So tonight - I'm going to change that and write everything that I wish I had someone to share with. It will still be all about writing - but more a part of me than just the written word.

Still having fun! Still loving writing! Still loving this wondrous world!


It amazes me - how much time research takes. I'm exhausted. And I know a bit about knights and squires and such... But there's always something new.

Phrases too can trip you up. Thankfully, my 'phrase alarm' seems to work quite well. I'll write a phrase and think, that sounds too modern. Or too American or whatever... Sure enough, when I look it up, it is.

BUT - Huzzah and hallelujah. Next chapter is done....

Better than that - I fixed three little quirks in other chapters that were bothering me. One scene, according to my critiquers, needed to be fleshed out. I didn't think so - but when I started working on it, I realized I could 'add' some description and still not 'give away' plot.

Life is good. Many thanks for the encouragment of my firends.

Monday, January 17, 2011


Glad I took a few moments yesterday to sit and remember....

So many times I get ideas for 'Blue' and forget to write them down... But yesterday, taking that break, let me remember some good stuff... and so I'm excited....

I also found some medieval stuff I needed for when our hero/heroine goes to joust and such... once she/he becomes a knight.

Sorry for the 'oddity' of she/he - but you'll see what it's about - once the book is published.

First thing tonight - make the changes that my Skyline writers group suggested.... the ones that are appropriate... and then get writing the next chapter.

I feel buzzed about my writing again - love that feeling!

Sunday, January 16, 2011


When I'm stuck on a chapter or a scene - I feel miserable. It's like I'm waiting in an airport terminal and the plane is delayed and delayed and delayed. After awhile, I start getting really fidgety and want to run screaming around the concourse. Of course, I don't, but I still feel that way. All jittery inside. Once I had three of the Starbuck coffee beans and couldn't believe how twitchy I got.

That's about the way I'm feeling now. I can't go long without writing. My body rebels.

I've decided to go out and find a 'new' spot to write with my yellow legal pad. The story really wants to be written... Life is just so complicated now, I'm finding it difficult to do even small tasks.

Writing is a very LARGE task *smiles*

Thursday, January 13, 2011


'They' tell us, as authors, that is important to read as much as possible... I'm still not sure how I'm supposed to be reading and writing at the same time... Oh! And taking care of the grand daughter, doing laundry, networking, classes, meetings. etc. etc. etc.

But - I do find it most interesting that books have changed over the years. When I first started reading, a millenia or so ago, there was a lot of exposition and description and such. My reading groups seem to have grown up in the same era... though I know they all haven't.

The critiques I receive keep asking for descriptions of characters and the like. However, having picked up a few 'new' books lately - I see that description might be a thing of the past. At least, the lengthy descriptions common in Tolkien, Lewis Carroll, and Montgomery. Two of the news books haven't a word of hair color for the heroines....

BUT - I am finding that descriptions of characters are lacking in the 'old' books. What we do get are copious descriptions of the places of the book.

Alice In Wonderland goes well beyond three pages before we get any look at Alice. And Peter Pan - good grief, we have more description of Nana (the Newfoundland dog) and the maid, Liz, than we do of any of the Darlings or Peter for ever so long into the book. Anne of Green Gables goes four pages before we even meet Marilla. She is the only one described in those four pages....

So why do my fellow critiquers want more... I'm considering that it means my story fixates them - and that is a good thing. I'll keep believing that - and keeping the descriptions to a minimum so that they must keep reading to find out the little niggling things that their minds want to know.

Monday, January 10, 2011


I often wonder what other writers do who do not belong to writers' groups or plod along with no support. I have found three groups who are becoming dear friends. I'm grateful.

Saturday, in the midst of a nasty snowstorm, I met with the Skyline group. Great bunch of people. Most are dedicated. This day, most didn't make it... the streets weren't plowed... but one of the women in my group did show up (we have 3 groups).... We shared our chapters.

Once that was done - I voiced my concerns over my 'heart's work' - she was most supportive. She told me about another writer (whose books I've read) - her editor didn't want a certain scene, but the author felt it had to be part of the book. She stuck to her guns and the book was published - with the scene in it. My friend suggested I reassess the editor's input and go with my heart instead...

I got some responses to Thursday's postings which also uplifted me. I'm most grateful for friends and support groups.

I've resolved to finish 'Nothing But Blue Skies' - and then go back and redo 'My Sword Sings' - restoring the parts that I believe are necessary. The long haul isn't over... but with friends, I can make it.

Thursday, January 6, 2011


My editor returned the first few chapters of her 'second' reading of 'My Sword Sings.' There were markings EVERYWHERE.... and this is AFTER a huge rewrite on every chapter after her first reading. 

I don't know what I'm going to do. I felt the book had lost its 'heart' already - these changes mean more loss of a certain character's perspective. The book was supposed to be about that character - but it got turned around - now I'm thinking that was probably a mistake....

I'm not sure what I'm going to do about it. This book (and it's already written 2nd and 3rd parts) is very dear to my heart... I've been working on it for four years and thought it was good..........

On the other hand, she absolutely loved 'Nothing But Blue Skies.' Hardly a mark on the first four chapters... That piece feels like so much 'fluff' compared to 'Sword' - but it's probably because I just started writing it about three months ago....

Forgive the weeping - I can't give up on 'Sword' and yet, it seems my editor has....

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


I don't know why mountains have such a claim on me. I need them. I need to see them. I live in a flat place and so - I make sure my email page has mountains on it. I have them here... in pictures and as the backdrop.

But I have them in my stories too - I know part of it is their majesty - they touch the sky! But some of it is their ever-changing weather. Nothing is 'normal' on a mountain.... I like that about writing too. When it's good, it's not normal - it's exhilarating.

'Blue' isn't exhilarating - but it's fun. I'm wondering if it needs a mountain. I think I'll throw one in. When we get to Weirland, the land of the dragons, I think that would be fitting. You can't have dragons without caves.... and you really can't have good sized caves without mountains.

Ah - I feel better already....

Also - got a thousand word chapter written today. That is exhilarating!


Sunday, January 2, 2011

My Own Thoughts

I read once, not sure if I'm remembering it correctly, that Agatha Christie was not sure of her own writing.

I know I am not writing the Great American Novel (if there is such a thing), but I do so enjoy the writing. Well, I enjoy the story. I write to find out what happens. If I were not a writer and heard such a comment, I'd think the person was bonkers.... But now, I see that the story comes to me (usually with a beginning and an ending), but with nothing in between - and I desperately want to see how the hero / heroine survives, if at all. I want to know if the villain wins. I want to see what their friends do. Are they steadfast and true? Are they wishy-washy? Are they cowards or fakes?

That's the best part of writing.

The editing, as I've said before, can just destroy me - And the joy of the book. I hope I can survive the publishing process and still be able to write afterwards.

Deflating joy can be traumatic. And I think it is hard to get the joy back.

BUT - I will persist.

I know that's one of the reasons that I started 'Nothing But Blue Skies' in the midst of editing 'My Sword Sings.' It gives me the joy of writing, while I wallow in the quagmire of editing.

Good luck to you!