Friday, April 29, 2011

Ran Out Of Ink

Been traveling. Usually, when on a plane, I just can't write. I always try. Always bring along my folder and pens. But usually the 'stress' of flying keeps me from being able to focus.

Not this time. Perhaps the fact that both flights were VERY long helped. Whatever happened, Im grateful. Wrote for an hour on the first plane and an hour on the second. 

I'm sitting on the plane, enjoying the creativity.... and my pen runs out of ink. Now, I always carry more than one pen, but I decided to stop writing and wait for the trip to end. I'm going to enter it on the computer today or tomorrow.

One other thing - when I'm away from my writing for awhile, I find it 'odd' to restart. Most times, I go back and read what I've already done (just the last chapter) and then I close my eyes and try to envision what happens next. Really works every time.

This last bit was full of action, the next bit I thought would be to go to the next and final test for my poor hero/heroine. Not to be. The Muse decided it would be a time for retrospection. And it worked.

Honestly, writing can be such fun. Now that I've put all thoughts of publishing aside (I did that about 2 weeks ago), I find the joy of writing is back and am even having fun with editing.

Life is good.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Back to Work

Honestly, I've been back to work for awhile... back to writing, that is.

Editing on Monday showed me a problem with my map. When you create your own world, you've got to have a map. Otherwise, you've got folks walking to the next country that really isn't the next country. OR, you've got someone stating their lands border yours, when in truth, they're nowhere close. I know most people probably wouldn't even notice - but if one of my readers gets 'thrown out' of the story because I was stupid enough to put the wrong countries next to each other....

I thought I'd have to change where the countries were, due to such a discrepancy, but I was able to 'trim' the country's length and that kept one from bordering another. This was really the best solution - for any other way and I would have had to change way too much.

None of this really impacts the characters or the plot or the arc of the story, but it impacts me. I like things neat. I like to think my work is as perfect as I can possibly make it. It's not just the words (just - hah), but it's everything.

Life can be interesting.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Boy Stories and Publishers

An article was posted at the New York Times -

I think it's gone viral, especially after this cartoon was posted.

After that, author George R.R. Martin, got into the fray.

My goodness - this does raise my hackles.

As you know if you've been following my blog, I'm in the midst of writing a dragons, castles, and wizards book. My editor likes it, but says I've got to make sure it caters to 'boys' - She says publishers want 'boy' stories. Supposedly, boys read fantasy/sf more than girls.

I could just scream.... I cut my teeth on Heinlein, Asimov, Bradbury, Norton, and others. AND I AM FEMALE.

I'll not make you endure the flame of my wrath here....

I also wrote a children's picture book. Same editor loved the concept but told me I had to change it from poetry (couplets) to prose. Publishers don't 'take' picture books written in poetry anymore.

My editor is fluent in the ways of publishers. I love my editor, I really do. She only speaks what she knows. This NYT article confirms it!

I hate this! It feels like the publishing industry is contributing to the 'dumbing' of America. (I'd use dumbing down but that's redundant and I refuse to contribute to the aforementioned phenomena.)

Stand up and shout, women of fantasy/sf. Let your voices be heard by buying these books. From small publishers! Let the big publishing houses think it's because of the iPad or Kindle or some such!

Where woudl Harry Potter be if JK had listened to this kind of rubbish!

*steps off soap box*

(Phew - glad I got that off my chest!)

((thanks to modelnut for the links)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

This Is Crazy

I plan on spending the morning editing the scenes I've 'blown up.' (Three parts for editing: does it need trimming, cutting entirely, or blowing up further to make it fuller, richer.)

Had to go through emails and blogs I follow first. I found this great quote from Peter Jackson, filmmaker, multiple Academy Award winner, and entrepreneur. (Edited to make room for my own meanderings!)

We always find there are three distinct phases. First, it exists before the film starts shooting. Then you start shooting and things come more into focus -- actors bring their skill to the roles and we see the characters in a more vivid and tangible way -- constant script revisions to meet the renewed potential these characters now have. The third has to do with the final cutting.

I am inspired when I see that the different disciplines of art all use the same process. PJ's ruminations confirm that with another discipline. I've got artists friends whose modus operandi is the same, too.

So – what I do is write the draft. Set the characters. And then let them grow. Each editing phase fertilizes the characters and they become more than I ever expected. What a delight this is. To grow myself and learn who my characters really are, what they value, who they love, etc. is such fun. Hopefully, by the final edit there are no surprises left. My characters and I know each other in intimate detail.

Life is interesting - bold and fun.

Friday, April 22, 2011

No Expectations - Part Three of Three

(I stopped keeping notes after the first evening. I know the morning had a speaker, but I don’t remember who it was, nor what he/she talked about. Probably because I was focusing on what I was going to say/do when Les critiqued my story. I’d sent him the first twenty pages about a week before the conference. I was on pins and needles.)

No expectations helps. I keep chanting it as I wait for my time slot.

I sit down in the big dining room with the uncomfortable chairs and shake his hand. We chat about inconsequentials. He takes out my story pages and begins.

He says he likes my style of writing. I take a breath. Good start.

He says he never did figure out what the book was about. I take a different breath this time.

‘Twenty pages,’ he says. ‘Is it a fantasy? Or is it present day?’

I sit back. I know I have to cling to ‘no expecations.’

The ten minutes take ten hours. I thank him and leave the room. Pulling on my coat, I walk with determination towards the lake. No, not to jump in it, but to feel the cold spring air on my face.

At least this time I didn’t weep. A good thing.

When I return, a woman I know from a writing class asks me how it went. She has been part of my critique group in the class.

When I tell her, she smiles. “He doesn’t know the fantasy genre,” she says. Kindness drips from her mouth. “Your book is really good, but you always pick the wrong people to critique it. Take the ‘I like your writing style’ and then leave the rest. He doesn’t know the genre.”

I take a deep breath and smile. She’s right. I always do pick the wrong critiquer.

I took my first book to an SCBWI conference last fall. The editor who critiqued it spoke to the entire group right before my time for her critique. She said she hated violence. Well, the first two pages of the book I presented to her are of a huge battle with much death and destruction. I wish she had sent it back and said she doesn’t read violent stories. Would have saved me her horror. In her defense, she did like my style of writing. She liked my characters, she liked the world I had created.

Got to focus on the positives and keep going.

Sometimes, writing resembles the tryouts for American Idol. These people audition who shouldn’t be there. I often have wondered if they have friends or not. Their singing is atrocious. Don’t their friends tell them, ‘Don’t do it?’ They can’t keep on key. The tempo flees from them. Yet, bless them, they stand there and sing with gusto. 

Is my writing like that? Do I not ‘hear’ the truth?

Nope. People I respect say I write well. So, I’ll keep writing. I’ll keep going to seminars, workshops, and conferences.


Life is good – unexpected – but good.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

No Expectations - Part Two of Three

I walk into the main lounge area. It is lovely and bright. White wicker chairs are pulled around the perimeter of an area rug. At least a dozen women sit about, holding drinks in their hands.

I say hello.

There is no response, though all look at me.

I expect nothing. I get nothing. I am not crushed. Thank God for no expectations. It worked this time.

The group gets up, prepared to take a walk. I am asked if I want to join them. I decline.

I find the coordinator of the week-end. She shows me to my room. I’d already viewed it online and found it charming. There is a lyre on the door that chimes every time it is opened. I love music and welcome it. There is a twin bed by the window and a daybed on the wall. I take the daybed.  The blessing of the room is that it has a private bath. Tiny. A screen hides the sink and toilet.

I sit and read the week-ends itinerary. I pull out my children’s book. It needs a couple changes. I’m excited about this book. Expectations are high.

Here we go again.

I find I can have no expectations for me – but my expectations for my writing are high. Beyond the moon. Good or bad – not sure.

Dinner is simple but tasty. I chat with the woman who stole my seat when I went for coffee.

It’s fun listening to others. I listen to the two women next to me. As they speak, I think, “These two should collaborate on a book.“ I have no idea if they knew each other before this event.

We gather for our first talk. We are to share about ourselves and what we write.

Agreement # 2: Don’t take anything personally

I am cut short by the moderator. I don’t blush, thankfully. I expect nothing.

A touch of anger runs through me. It doesn’t matter. I will get what I need from the week-end. That is my focus. It is simple. I have no expectations.

Now – if I could just let go of my work. Let it fly on its own. Or is the passion necessary?

Our first speaker shares his story. It is a good one.

As the night wears on, folk begin to go to their rooms. Some sit in the dining area writing. I take this occasion to soak in people. I spend a lot of time with a four-year old and need to be around adults. I need to broaden whom I watch and listen to.

I have a one-on-one with Les Roberts tomorrow. I already have expectations for this time. This is good practice. Really!


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

No Expectations (TBC)

  1. Be Impeccable With Your Word.
  2. Don't Take Anything Personally.
  3. Don't Make Assumptions.
  4. Always Do Your Best.
I’ve talked about this book before. I’ve changed #3 to No Expectations, due to the fact that if I assume something is going to be great or awful, then I’ll probably be disappointed, one way or the other. Which to me means – have no expectations.

This is my mantra, when I remember. It works every time, when I remember.

I drive to Lakeside for the conference and push all thoughts of what I am about to experience away. No expectations. Whatever happens will hurt/heal better.

I relish the ride. I love the open road. I’ve always said, ‘Give me a highway and I’ll be happy.’

I want to buy some wine. I am assailed by doubts. Will the B&B let me bring wine in? Will the religious ‘summer resort’ kick me out if they find me with a bottle? I fight the good fight. I’m no longer a child and bound by a child’s rules. I can drink a glass of wine if I want to. The storekeeper at the local farmer’s market is fun. We giggle about being adults and able to live our lives as we want. I buy two bottles of local wines, some cheese, and crackers. The bill is more than expected, but we are out in the middle of nowhere. High prices are to be expected.

Whoa! Did I use the ‘E’ word?

The countryside has changed. Long years ago, this area of the lakeshore felt like Cape Cod. Pleasant, cozy, serene. There are huge new marinas that blot out the lake view. New houses have cropped up – for those who will be lucky to spend one week-end a year at the lake.

Never the mind. It takes me back to before my husband died. What fun we had. The memories are not bitter-sweet. I had expected my heart to be sorrow-filled. It’s not – there is a quiet joy surrounding it.

Whoa again! That blasted ‘E’ word!

Finding Lakeside is easy, due to the directions from the shopkeeper. Finding the B&B is a little more difficult. I didn’t bring the name or the address of the place, but Lakeside is smallish. I didn’t expect any problems finding it.

Ok. So my mantra’s a little rusty.

Early spring means there are few people here. I find one kind man who points me in the right direction when I ask for something that I hoped resembled the B&B’s name. I find a good parking space – unexpected.


I will continue this tomorrow. I didn’t expect it to go this long.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Characters Revisited

As you well know, I hate editing. At least, I did.

Today, thinking upon character development, I discovered that editing can be fun - to a degree. Having to do it over and over, I get closer to my characters, to my story, and to the world I'm creating. It suddenly seemed fun, exciting, and worthwhile.

I can take worthwhile any day! Can't you?

A few folk wanted one of the characters named. Now, I was going to wait till towards the end of the book. The character is only important at the beginning and the end. So I didn't name her yet. Well, if folks needed her named - then perhaps I should do it, I thought.

Naming could be a posting all to itself. I found a name that 'matched' the names of those in the same family, same land, and found it worked. In fact, it was a surprise and I love it.

Ah - isn't that part of the joy of writing. The surprises that come to us out of the blue. (pun intended)

The character's name is Agrona - which means carnage. And carnage is the perfect name for the woman. She brings death and destruction to those under her care. I just love the irony of it all.

The finding of the name was pure chance - if I believed in pure chance. But I don't.

Ah, my friends, life is good.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


Worrying about points of view can really depress this writer. I am still learning the process. I’m still struggling. Sometimes other characters in the novel step on my toes and shout, “Hey, I’d like to say something.” I shoot them down, of course, but feel a wee sadness.

Something happened the other day that made me think further on the ‘correctness’ of keeping my POVs down to a minimum.

I love to give correct change. I don’t know why. It titillates me. When the bill is, say, $3.14, I love to give a five dollar bill, one dime and four pennies. That way, I can rid the little change purse of those annoyingly heavy coins AND receive paper money in return. It’s a bit of a game I play, too, to keep my math skills hopping.

I sometimes get annoyed if the clerk has difficulties realizing what I’m doing. Taking an extra minute to think about it has always made me wonder if folk’s math skills couldn’t be better.

I can be a snob. And I’m shown it time and again.

I volunteer at the local art gallery. Friday, the woman who works the counter couldn’t come in. I volunteered to help. Lo and behold, some woman comes up to buy a key chain and gives me ‘correct change.’ The piece was $12.97. She gave me $13 dollars and two pennies. I honestly couldn’t figure it out. She laughed with good nature and told me I owed her a nickel back.

Back to perspective – So because I think I know what’s happening and who it’s happening to and who it is that’s speaking – doesn’t mean I am communicating that to my readers.

I am chastised. But very happy.

Life is good. Humbling, but good.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Characters and Such

I have so many things I still want to share from the conference and some insights arrived at during this past week, but I found this quote and had to go with it.....

“When I begin writing, my characters are bits of protoplasm that I move about the narrative board. But as I write, and write and write, I begin to understand them: I understand what makes them tick, understand their perceptions of themselves, their childhood wounds, their deep-down desires — the desires they hide even from themselves (this last mostly true of Briony). And once I come to understand these things, understand them in a deep-down way myself, the character’s voice begins to emerge in surprising ways.” 
I got quite a kick out of reading this. It is one of the reasons I read mags about writing, blogs about writing, go to writers’ conferences, and take classes in writing.

I still feel the neophyte. I wonder constantly if I’m ‘doing the right thing.’ I question my process of writing.

And then I see things like above and connect with the thought. The insecurity vanishes for a time. And all is right with the world.

Of course, the insecurities come back – but by that time, I’m signed up for another course, or another conference, or the next issue is out…..

Life is good, incredibly good.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sleep Deprivation

Sleep deprivation can be useful. Wrote four short stories for my Gdaughter while trying to sleep the other night. She loves them. Mysteries for seven-year olds.

Yes - I'm still writing  Haven't written anything on 'Blue' but I plan to remedy that tomorrow. I've got the day off and I am bound and determined to write another chapter. I have some chapter exploding to do, but I'll wait until I get the next chapter done.

Plan to update about the rest of the conference - but it's pretty intense and I've got to get up the temerity to put it out there.

Life is good - if you don't think too much!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

A Conundrum

I had to laugh during the week-end conference. I knew I was very happy with listening to Les Roberts and learning from his years of experience.

I also knew my opinion of him would probably change once he critiqued my piece.

I sent the first 20 pages of 'Blue' to Les before the conference. He read them and we met on Saturday. (Before that, while in the kitchen getting a glass of water, I heard him tell another writer -  don't quite your day job. I was worried!)

Les spent ten minutes with me. He said he liked my writing style. Then - the **** hit the fan, so to speak. He said that he hadn't a clue, after the 20 pages, as to what the story was about. It took him quite some time to realize that it was a fantasy tale.

Mind you - the first two paragraphs of chapter one are all about the green sky, the yellow dirt, the purple grass, the pink water. I sat before him, dumbfounded that he thought that it was anything BUT a fantasy.

Secondly, he said he thought I had the perfect opportunity to really hit my readers with the humor of the situation - this 14-year old abused princess who magically transforms into a boy in order to save her world. I failed to understand what part of this story was humorous. I must admit, some of the situations she faces as a boy are humorous, but to take the whole thing and make it a comedy? Boggles my mind.c

A writer friend of mine tsk tsk'd. She said I always seem to pick the wrong reviewer for my stuff. Les is an adult mystery writer. My story is a YA fantasy. She's probably right.

Enough said. I do value Les' comments and especially his sharing.

Life is good - if a bit flummoxing.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Les Roberts Rocks

The headliner for this past week-ends conference was world-renowned myster writer, Les Roberts. He's written (I hope this is correct) 25 books. A new one is coming out as we speak. And another one is due out this fall. The man is prolific. Check out his website:

Spent a lot of Friday evening talking with him. It was great talking to a 'real' author - one who didn't mind spending time with a fan who just ooh'd and aah'd over what it must be like to be published and successful. A good man all the way around.

1) An important thought - hang in there! He said it took the guy who wrote the Hannibal Lector book 27 tries to get it published.

2) Write about what you're interested in. Not so much about what you know. You can always learn new stuff.

3) Carry a notebook or a tape recorder and write down everything. Thoughts about characters, overheard conversations at the local coffee shop, what people look like, etc.

Too much going on lately. But I'll be posting again tomorrow with some more stuff from the week-end. I know it's not appropriate to tell all, but a few sharings shouldn't be a problem - besides that - they jog my memory! And I could use memory jogging. *g*

Life is good.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Productive Week-end

Went to a conference and had 'Blue' looked at by an established author.

Able to spend about five hours on my writing.

Made some changes to 'Sorrysorrysorry.' Got some feedback at the conference on the picture book.

Lots of things happening. Looking forward to sharing some of the stuff I learned this week-end.

Life is hectic.

Friday, April 1, 2011


Oh - I can't wait to have 'Finally' be a tittle that means the book (any one of them!) is published!

But for now

I got responses for the childrens' book and they are all positive and filled with exclamation marks! My daughter read it to my G daughter and the whole family was just entranced.

I really hope the publisher will get an illustrator that I like. I am thinking washed out watercolors... but who knows. The librarian thought cartoon characters would be great. I think the Babar characters are good. We'll see. Since I can't draw stick figures, I'm stuck with my publisher's choice.

As for Blue - I've committted to spend twelve hours writing it this weekend. I got some info on a man's 'thing' and so I can go back and enhance the chapters where it makes an impact.

Life is incredibly interesting. Bizarre - but interesting!