Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Pleasant Surprise

I try not to bring subjects to this blog that are not writing concentric. 

The reason I posted about the problem with another writer was to remind myself that a professional blog is not for dissing people. That issues has been resolved. I personally think because of the Four Agreements. But that's me.

Professional - now that's a term that I ran into at my last conference. There were folks who were talking about writers and then there were folks who were talking about 'professional' writers. It quickly became apparent that the difference lies in being published.

I had to laugh because titles seem to mean so much to people. A group I belong to once discussed (for hours) the difference between a writer and an author. The consensus was that authors are published.

For myself - I consider myself a professional because I spend a lot of time writing, going to conferences, being a member of writers' groups, and generally focusing on my writing and getting published.

I think Dr. Seuss would have considered himself a professional author even before he was published. Nobody tries 99 times if he doesn't consider himself a professional author.

At least - that's my thoughts on it. I refuse to be labeled anything but what I am. I am a writer. I am an author. I am a professional. Eventually *g* the world will see this.

Life is free of titles.

Letting Go

I was told, by a friend to remember when I first learned how to ride a bike without training wheels. I was scared to death when my dad let go… but I stayed up – not straight – but at least the bike didn’t fall and I didn’t fall off it.

A leap of faith – from not trusting myself – afraid I’ll fall and kill myself – to trusting myself. Once I took that leap, that step of faith, I never looked back. I reveled in riding my bike!

Writing’s like that. I’m in the midst of writing and I stop. Ideas flee. Fears and uncertainties creep in. I wonder if what I’ve written is any good. I wonder if it’s boring. I wonder if anyone will read it. I wonder if my characters are real. Are the names good? Is the landscape right? Is the arc effective? Is there a good beginning? A good middle? A good ending? So many things to consider.

Yet – there is that supreme moment of excitement – when I continue to write, when I press forward, when I defeat the fears and uncertainties. Oh – that is exhilarating.

I finished my little picture book about giraffes. I sent it off to a couple friends for their input. I’ll send it to my writers’ group next week. My editor will get it at the same time.

I kept it couplets, but the meter works now. Hurray! I broke it into three different parts. There is a non-poetry part at the end of each section. I hope it works.

No – it works for me. Once I get the feedback, make sure my verbs and nouns are strong ones, check the spelling and the formatting, I’ll send it out.

I was in the library the other day and found books that were similar to mine and wrote down the publishers. So now I’ve got a pretty nice list. I’m only sending it to three publishers at a time.

I’ll let you know when the cover letter is done and the MS is sent out.

Life is exhilarating.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Unpleasant Surprise

I received an email today from a fellow writer. 

She was upset with me. She said folks were telling her that I attacked her and the things she loves here at my blog. I immediately focused on Principle #2 - Don't take anything personally.

So - I did the logical thing. I did a 'search' for any words that might validate her accusations. No words came up that 'identified' her or what she does or what she writes. I focused on #3 - Don't make assumptions and knew that those who accused me of 'hurting 'her were mistaken.

I make it a point to keep negative thoughts and feelings anonymous. (#1 - Be Impeccable With Your Word) We all have negative feelings. They are a part of life. To put the onus on another though.... If I am feeling negative - "I" am feeling negative. I can't blame anyone else. Shees!

However, if I learn something and really appreciate a workshop or a conference that I go to, I make sure I tout that group. Like SCBWI - I have attended two huge conferences put on by them. They were both great learning experiences. 

You all know, if you've been following my blog, that I do struggle at conferences. Conferences are painful, beautiful experiences, but if I only learn one thing, I am ecstatic! 

I was not trained in taking criticism. That's what happens at conferences (if you put your work in for critiquing) I am learning. I am growing. I'm getting better at it. I'm listening, taking the criticism under advisement, and then doing what I think is right. For me.

The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz continue to inspire me - to help me grow.  http://www.amazon.com/Four-Agreements-Practical-Personal-Freedom/dp/1878424319
  1. Be Impeccable With Your Word.
  2. Don't Take Anything Personally.
  3. Don't Make Assumptions.
  4. Always Do Your Best.
Life is to be lived.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Characters - Too Many?

I have been told, over the years, that one of my books has way too many characters in it. 

The book is especially dear to me. It is the first real book I've ever written. It is the first book of a planned five-book series (perhaps six). Two other books in the series are completed as well.

I look at books by Austen, Bronte, Tolkien, and Tolstoy and wonder how mine can be considered having too many characters. I know this is a different era. These authors' books are read by tens of thousands today. Doesn't that hint at a level of interest?

Handy Manny - not quite great literature. Still, it is current. *g* 

I was watching the show the other day with my little one. I almost fell off the couch as I counted the number of characters in the first five minutes of the show. (These are based on the Handy Manny books by Marcy Kelman). Twelve characters. These twelve appear in every story.

If Handy Manny can have twelve characters in the first five minutes of his story, I think I can have a few in the first chapter of mine.

Taking some liberties with the argument - but life is short. And interesting!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Conference - Part Three

Last bit about the conference. Suffice it to say, it was good, but painful. 

I go into these things with no expectations. I'm getting so much better at that. Not taking comments about my writing personally. Good grief, the growth I've made in just the last year in terms of 'letting go' and letting my work stand on its own is mind-boggling. I no longer feel like a bear guarding her young. I feel like a writer. I must tell you, in retrospect, that is a great feeling.

Conferences are painful. I remember some bible quote about pruning a tree. Got to hurt. So do conferences and critique groups and opening yourself up to scrutiny and growth. 

I"m beginning to see the fruits of my labor and find pruning, as much as I shudder at the thought of it, is worth the price. Not that I've had a book published yet, but that I know I will have. Not that the world is falling at my feet with accolades, mind you. There is just this inner sense, and it might only be for today, that I am on the right path. That is worth a fortune, I think.

As for the conference, there was the pain, as always: the growth, the dying to self, the awkwardness of not knowing anyone there, the eating lunch alone, the baring one's soul in group sessions. Life is a difficult task. Worth every moment.

Blessings to you and your writing.

As always, life is incredible.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Conference - Part Two

I sent in a copy of my Giraffe book sometime before the conference. An editor read it and made comments. Got it back on Friday night of the conference. There were good comments. Though the admonition was still there to take it out of poetry. For the nonce, I refuse. I love the rolling quality of it. Like gentle waves on some beach, bathed in the glow of a setting sun.

The suggestion for stories that were not 'picked up' by editors - take it to magazines. I thought that might be a good option for the Giraffes since it looked like the general consensus was - it wouldn't be accepted (as poetry) by a publisher. When I told my daughter, her face fell. First time I felt she truly understood my writing. Intense and wondrous moment. 

As we sat there, the first night, Laurie Knowlton said, if you’re going to write poetry, it must be the best. Meter must be…..

METER – my mind jumped up and shouted, “I remember meter! I remember the markings! I can do this!” I spent the rest of Friday night busily putting meter marks on ‘Giraffes.’ 

When I presented it Saturday night, still incomplete, the meter was running well. *g* The editor who had read the book before the conference seemed impressed (I fervently hope I read her correctly) and said the book was much stronger. There was a librarian in the group and she heartily endorsed it. Said it would be perfect for reading to the little ones. This is the third librarian who has said it was perfect for her.

Truly a good feeling. I once again feel hope for the Giraffes. I’m finishing up the meter changes and am going to send it out. God help me!

Life is excruciatingly interesting!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Conference - Part One

Just finished a pretty intense three-day writers' conference put on by the local branch of  SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators). The focus was on picture books. It was good. Strange, as all conferences are to me, but good.

I learned something odd the very first night. Picture books can be for all ages. Now, that, to me, is a paradigm shift if ever I heard one. I've been tooling along on the assumption that a picture book is one of those sweet, little things with gorgeous watercolors and few words. Turns out, that's only one type. Got to further research this.

One of the drawbacks of the conference for a neophyte was the groups' assumption that everyone knew the ins and outs, the language, of picture books. I don't think I was alone. But I did get a kick out of this: Saturday night, we had a group critique (10 participants and an editor). They were discussing board books. I felt incredibly naive (really stupid) but had to ask - What's a board book, Precious? They were kind.

I'll write more - pleased with Friday night's sessions and Sunday's. Saturday's were a bit...

The presenters were great. The facility was great. And the folks from SCBWI, as usual, were awesome.

Life is complicated - even for a picture book.

PS - A board book is one of the those heavy-paged books with only one or two words on each page. (like the Chronicle book, Wiggle Like An Octopus) Some board books have flaps. Some are die-cut. Well, you get the picture (pun intended)!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Baring My Soul

I'm beginning to get a little nervous. I bare my soul at a conference soon. By that, I mean I am bringing one of my stories (a picture book about giraffes). I will be showing it to a publisher. Sharing it with three editors. Opening myself up to group comments - intensive - 3-day thingee.

Sometimes I think I must be mad. Writing is such a personal thing. One of the traits, I've been told, that writers must possess is courage. Yup - I can believe it.

The picture book is pretty good. I like it. Those I've shared it with like it. But, as usual, it doesn't fit the 'norm.' I don't fit the norm so why on earth anyone would think my writings would are as insane as I.

I do love life. I love writing.

Life is, and always will be, interesting.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


I'm probably insane - but I don't keep notes on my stories, my books. Not notes on what is happening.

I do keep notes on research I will need further on. I keep a timeline. I keep a character listing, but I don't keep notes. Oh, oh! I draw maps!

It's not because I'm not writing - I write more than one book at a time. It's just that the books become so familiar to me that I don't seem to need notes. 

At least - that's what I thought until I was doing a re-read tonight of 'Blue.' 

It dawned on me that I must read every chapter probably 100 - 200 times, maybe more. The story becomes ingrained in my soul. I know what has to be completed. Points that are brought up in the beginning of the story cling to my mind. By the end of the tale, the points are brought together, the arcs are closed, the mysteries are solved. 

I truly believe, now, that it's because of the revision process. I feel like hitting myself on the forehead and saying, "Duh!" I have so often 'fought' the revision process, and here it goes and saves my butt.

Life is interesting.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Magnificent Folly

I cannot begin to imagine what it will be like - once my books are published. 

If this is folly, then it is magnificent.

Fear used to drive me away from so many things in life. Relationships, career path, schooling, writing, sharing... It robbed me of so much. I still fear. It is a good fear now - one that I've turned to positivity. Is that a word? 

One of my favorite books is The Agony and The Excstacy. It tells of the life of Michelangelo. I found great sadness in the trials that he endured on his way to greatness. I weep for those people who have reached greatness after their deaths.

And yet - can I not hope that in some place they are banqueting together, toasting one another, laughing at the folly 'label' they were branded with - works that turned into magnificence?

Life is too short to be afraid. Life is too complicated to be true to myself. And yet - that will be my magnificent folly. Whether I get published or not, whether I am considered a fool by those who are close, the important thing is that I continue to press forward with joy and full faith in the gift of writing that I have. 

Writing is stupendous fun if I let it be. So, I have discovered, is the thrill of editing/revising. I can either suffer the slings and arrows - or rejoice and have a ball. Perhaps the journey towards publishing will be the same. Fool - some would say. Yet, I can and will hope that I can look at the process with sanity and joy.

Life is interesting.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


I love it when the Muse spills over.

I've written quite a bit lately. I sat down tonight to transcribe the scribbles to my word document. The muse had other ideas. I found myself writing about something totally different than what I'd put down on my yellow pad.

Now, five hundred plus words later, I sit back and rejoice. It's a great piece to the story. A character whom I thought had stepped away forced himself back, in an entirely different guiise. Only the Muse could have pulled this off. The character is a favorite of many of my critiquers. They'll be delighted to see him again.

Ah - life can be exhilarating.

As for what I'd written before, it will flow from what the Muse did. So, this means another chapter has been finished. This is Chapter Sixteen. Over twenty thousand words so far.

Life is good. Very good.

Saturday, May 14, 2011


I've hated not being able to write on here. Very glad the site is back up and running!

My friends returned and we spent the entire evening talking about writing. It's an incredible feeling - having someone to share hopes and dreams, failures and faults with. We shared about favorite stories and characters and such. A whole long evening just smothering each other with joy. 

This capped off a great day. It was volunteer day at the local art gallery. I got a truckload of writing done. The best part was - I was at a horrible impasse in the story, with no inkling as to how to 'carry on,' when the writing just flowed.

A friend told me she had read that if you write in a setting with 'creative vibes' - such as an art gallery or a library - the 'karma' of the artists around you will flow into your work. I think it might be true. I can always count on a prolific and profitable writing time whilst sitting at the welcome desk.

Life is good!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Had visitors staying with me the past few days. They hogged the computer. *g*

Naw - they didn't but we spent a lot of time chatting and such. The couple are friends from way back. He's a minister and she does ministerial work. They 'use' my house as the halfway point for their yearly conference.

She's a writer and we vow that we'll write when we get together. But it doesn't happen. This year, she did spend time writing down some thoughts she had whilst lying in bed.

I spent time reading the first few chapters of 'Blue' again! Honestly, I never ever can read my own stuff without finding something, even after the 50th perusal, that needs deleting, adding, whatever. I swore I wouldn't change a thing - but I'm going to. *g*

They're off now and will come back on Friday night. So that gives me three nights when I can concentrate on 'Blue' - make the changes I want - and then get back to writing on Saturday after they've left.

In the meantime, i discovered I've been walking around, painfully, on a sprained ankle. Got a really nice cast for it this afternoon!

Life is fully interesting.

Sunday, May 8, 2011


I'm sorry for the double post today. Perhaps it's only fitting - being as it's Mother's Day and I am Mother to Blue. *g*

I knew I'd been writing quite a lot. I even posted that I was concerned with what I was writing and had decided to 'step back' in order to gauge it's worth.

Well, today I made myself sit down and put the paper scribbles into the computer. I found I've written a whole chapter!

The best part? It's not drivel. It pushes the story forward. It's not wordy.

I could whoop with joy. In fact, I will. Whoop! Whoop!

Life is good!


Ah! I found a great blog posting about editing. He calls it revising. Perhaps that's a better word for it. Take a look. http://wordswimmer.blogspot.com/

As for me, I just signed up for an intense three-day workshop on children's picture books. Now that I've done it, I sit back and wonder - how on earth can you spend three days on a two-hundred word book?!? Boggles my mind. I've revised and revised and revised the little thing. I can't think of a word that needs changing - but they'll tell me, won't they? *g*

I've got baboons cavorting. My daughter-in-law says that might be a bit much for a little one. I love to give my little one new, exciting words. She always asks what they mean. We have a delightful time cavorting and then she'll never forget the word. I think, though, that it's a good suggestion. I will bet you odds on the dollar that will be one thing the attendees at the workshop will suggest changing! *g*

Got to remember all four principles - especially - Don't Take It Personally.

There will be a publisher there for individual meetings. Not for pitching the book, but for sharing working in children's literature. I am looking forward to that - not expecting, though. I do hope to get a glimpse into someone who is in 'that' world and see what they say.

Life is interesting, even if revised.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Serious talk

Went to my writers' group and had a great discussion about 'When did I put myself last?'

Great question. As an author, I've got to remember that. I've got to remember to think of me as I do my kids. To think of my stories, as I do my kids. To think of my future as I do my kids. (They are the ones who have been FIRST forever.)

I truly think this is another way of thinking of one of the Four Agreements. #1... Be Impeccable With Your Word. Which means that anything I say about anybody is true and good. ESPECIALLY words that have to do with me. Only speak with truth about myself. And make sure it is TRUTH.

It is difficult to even consider the fact that I will be published. So many 'nay sayers' tell me differently. I'm pretty sure the same has happened to you.

I won't listen to them. I will put myself first. I will speak only positively about myself and my books and my hopes for publishing.

Go ahead - try it. And share that positiveness with others.

Life is positively interesting!

PS - please don't be concerned about my kids - they are grown and out of the house and happy!

Friday, May 6, 2011


I've been sitting here trying to figure out if I am too wordy.

I'll explain. I've written quite a bit on Blue the last few days... but the stuff doesn't ring true. I feel like I'm delving way too deep for my character. She/he has been through quite a bit - almost drowning twice, having a nose broke, turning into an otter - lots of action during the two days of the 'tryouts.'

Now - I've been writing a lot of dialogue that tells of the.. AH HA! Perhaps that is why it hasn't been 'ringing true.' I've been telling. Yup - that could be it. I'll go back and look.

BUT - the introspection seems to be a lot. I'm beginning to wonder if, when I'm not sure what to write next, the little mind grasps at 'trivialities' or 'fillers' to keep going until the Muse gets off her butt and lets me know what's going on.

Of course, with the editing process, I'm sure I'll cut a lot out. Ah, the wondrous editing process.

I think I'll just put the stuff I've written onto Word, forget about it for a bit, and then get back to it in a couple of days. To see what I've been mumbling about.

Life is interesting.

Some Hope

Back to the old publishing thoughts....

Having a good relationship with your local librarian, I think, is a good thing. Also, though they are few and far between, local book store owners/buyers can be a wealth of information.

The age of mega bookstores has put a crimp in the information highway. It is difficult to network when the personnel change with such frequency as the one by me. Well, I say one, but there are two, at the moment. The one is going bust - which I do find sad.

Some would say it is because of the instant books I can buy from the internet. I wonder if it is greed. I wouldn't think it was authors' greed, however! I know there are some mega authors out there - but the one's I hang around with would be grateful to just have their book in hardback. Those were the days.

The point of all this meandering thought is this - a bookstore owner/buyer has helped me regain faith in my writing and the publishing industry. She told a legitimate source close to me that poetry in children's picture books is well accepted by the industry and she encouraged me to submit my little 'giraffe' story. What welcome news! She even invited me to a conference (though full, she promised to help me 'get in').

Life is full of goodness.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Chewing On Her Cud

Honestly, there are times when I swear I'm like a cow with a wad of grass in my mouth and just chewing away....

Characters keep changing - sometimes growing, sometimes fading. I hate the little moments of 'sick stomach' when I know I don't know who that person is who just popped in. The main character gets a wee bit 'tame' and I've got to use a jolt of electricity or something to get her/him exciting again.

I suppose, as human beings, we feel that way sometimes. We just meander about, wondering where we are and what we're doing. Perhaps I should USE that and let the character just wander - for a VERY short time! I think that would work.

I've been watching kids a lot lately - you know the age bracket that the kids in 'Blue' are - it is interesting and a bit scary. Kids can be so deep. They harbor all kinds of stuff. And yet, they are like skiffs on the lake when a storm comes up - not sure how to save themselves.

I certainly hope I can 'save' my character.... AND there is always hope!

Life is interesting.