Friday, September 30, 2011

Seems Like...

It seems like all I do is edit. But that's not quite true. 

Today I wrote more of the Midpoint section of 'Blue.' It's turning out well. The subject matter is controversial. I don't want the message diluted. Yet, I have to be aware of my readers and their age. 

I think it will work. 

The group I quite last week has decided to go back to the smaller group critiques. There will be two groups, so that means critiquing will be done every other month for each member.

They sent me the listing of who presents next month and the month after. They put me down for the month after.

Now - the quandary. But no, there is no quandary. I'll swallow my pride and go. Wasn't the reason I quite because I wanted to present more often? Isn't that what will now happen? 

I hate swallowing my pride, but I want this book critiqued. Period.

Life is growing.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


I just found out I won one of the raffles at the SCBWI conference. An author I really like offered a ten-page critique with a ten minute Skype session afterwards. I put a ticket in for it and won. 

Now - the hard part. When I met with the Peeps yesterday, we all looked at my first ten pages, trying to figure out if I should make changes to it, or just rely on the hook. 

As noted in yesterdays posting, the author who critiqued 'Blue' at the conference hadn't a clue as to what the book was about from the first ten pages.

In my own defense, this is a fantasy tale. I have to lay the ground work for the 'lands' and the people and the green sky and purple grass. I'm not sure what I'm going to do. As I said, perhaps if I sent the hook...

HOOK:  The world has been turned topsy-turvy by wizards. The sky is green. The grass is purple. Streams are pale pink. An abused, fourteen-year old 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?

Life is excruciatingly complicated.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Peeps Tonight

Met with my class and we went over the critiques each of us received at the conference. Most were good - and productive.

I watched Radiohead play 'The Daily Mail' tonight. Song lasts about 3 and 1/2 minutes. The first 4 1/2 measures were the piano playing the intro, the next 8 and 1/2 measures consisted of the piano and one singer singing a ballad-type song, after that trumpets were added, a few measures later the drums were added.

I bring this up because of the critique process at a conference/workshop. The number of pages usually allowed to be sent to the critiquer is ten. (sometimes out of a book of 80 - 100,000 words). A lot more than 3 1/2 minutes of play time. 

As I stated yesterday, my critique was good (loved my voice), but she didn't have a clue as to what the book was about. I should have (I kept kicking myself that I didn't) sent the hook. The hook would have explained it all in two seconds flat. 

I think that, since we are paying for these critiques, the amount of pages critiqued should be a little more. I understand that most readers will read about thirty pages of a children's book before they give up or fifty pages of an adult book. 

These critiquers are professionals. They swear they can sometimes tell if a book is going to be good after the first sentence. I believe them. I think they should give a paid critique at least thirty pages at these conferences. IMHO

And they should send back any MS that is not proofread and grammatically correct.  That would level the field immediately.

Life is complicated.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Conference Notes

Added some 'best speakers' at the bottom of my webpage. 

Really great conference. I'm thinking one of the reasons why I thought so is because my critique went well. Always puts a little sunshine on the rest of life!

The critique went well to a degree. Now, I have this tendency to not be able to look a gift horse in the mouth. The author liked what I'd written (only got to give her ten pages per conference protocol). She was very personable and wanted to find out why I was writing. She nodded quite a bit. She loved the green sky and the purple blades of grass falling down upon Bryan's head.

After I explained some more of the story line, she said I should just disregard what she'd written. She said I needed to get more of the 'rest' of the story into the first ten pages. I understood what she was saying. Little hints. She did like what she had read, but realized that it truly wasn't a representation of what the book itself was about. She liked what she heard about the 'real' book. I wonder if the response would have been the same if she'd been able to read the first thirty pages? 

I meet with my writers group tomorrow. We'll discuss our critiques from the week-end. That should help.

I had to leave the conference early due to some health issues. I was so bummed out because the speakers were all excellent. 

Life can be painful.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Getting Nervous

My critique is this afternoon. I'm trying to focus on the Four Agreements and not accept anything she says personally. Etc. etc. etc.

I'm at the library at the moment. I was hoping to get a few of my critiquers books to look at, but the library doesn't carry any of hers. Not a good sign.

Yet, I did find from her profile that we seem to be kindred spirits. She hates bullying. She hates putting people in 'pockets.' She loves kids. She loves reading.

I've got all my fingers and toes crossed. 'Blue' really addresses loving yourself - which is essential in a bullying world.

Life is a deep breath!

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Is there such a thing? 

The little one came over and decided to draw today. She just took out a large sheet of paper and her pencils and began free drawing a pastoral scene. No qualms. 

I looked at the blank page and got cold chills. I am not free enough to tackle such a thing. I find a blank sheet of drawing paper causes naught but fear, dread. 

I know it must have something to do with teachers/parents expectations when I was a child. Thankfully, I don't remember why I have such horror of a blank sheet. 

I do not have such qualms with my blank sheet of yellow trusty-rusty ruled paper. I see it and I start to write. It's as easy as that. 

I think we are all held back or thrust forward by our pasts. If we can overcome the fear or the stigma of not being 'up to par' we could be great. I'm thankful no one chided me about my writing. Probably because i started so late in life.

I started out about ten years ago with a group that was generosity and tenderness personified. No matter what I wrote, they applauded it. Full unconditional love and acceptance. The only way to start growing someone in any way. 
I'm so grateful for these people. I can't wait till I can put their names on my 'dedicated to' page!

Life is joy.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Joys Of Life

Posting, I think, has been really good for me. I started it to improve my discipline. I think it has.

Also, I've dropped out of a writers' group. For the time being. I found that I was using them as an excuse not to write on a frequent basis. The critiques used to be every other month. The group grew large and the critiques were spread out to every three months. Which meant I would be able to present only four times in a year. So I'd lallygag about and wait until it was close to time for presenting and then write like crazy. Stupid.

I find that authors who write books really need a critique group that does it more than four times a year. *grins*

It's very hard to present chapters of a book to a group who hasn't 'seen' it for three months. They lose where you're at and what your theme is and other really important aspects of the book. I know we can't rely upon our critiquers to 'babysit' a book. We are, after all, the be all and end all of it. As the saying goes, 'The buck stops here.' 

Which then begs the question: Why have your work critiqued at all? 

Insane not to. I get too close to my characters, to the plot, to the mazes that run through my tales to count on myself alone. And I read and re-read it a hundred times. Still, if you've ever proofed someone's work, they always 'miss' something. That's what a critique group is for - find the 'missing stuff.'

I really treasure the critiques I got. They were invaluable. But if I'm to continue writing, I've got to 'sit on me' and write. If I have to wait for the three months, I'll use it as an excuse for not writing.

I never said I was perfect.

Life is flawed. 

PS - The title of this posting is because I am overjoyed that I've got another chapter done and another one well started!

Monday, September 19, 2011


Going to a big event soon and have already sent off the first ten pages of 'Blue' to be critiqued. The critiquer is an author of YA and Upper Grade books. Her genre is crime, it seems. Since mine is fantasy, I'm hoping she'll look at it and enjoy it. Or not. It could be 180 degrees the other way. She could hate fantasy and hate reading it. Crap shoot.

But - the group is holding a 'cry in your beer' session after the critiques. I'm looking forward to that. It should help hearing others tales of woe and listening to the good and bad of what their critiquers say. Not sure if I'll be sharing mine, but I plan on listening with both ears.

Got another bit of the next chapter done. I'm at the Midpoint section and it must be spot on. I'm halfway through this latest chapter. I didn't have much time to write today. I did get to read some other folks stuff the last couple of days. I found it refreshing and fun. I do love to read.

Life is interesting.

Sunday, September 18, 2011


I really have to write 'non-writing' more often. As soon as I posted yesterday, I started to write the next chapter of 'Blue.' Then I continued on and am almost finished with the chapter after that. 

I still haven't gotten to the blueprint stage. However.... I guess I've thought and mulled and lost night's sleep over the thing so much that the blueprint is in my mind, already set. Ready to go. 

The things that I thought would be troublesome turned out to fade as I began to type. The scenario is working much better than I thought. It feels right and proper and not 'odd.' This having two characters, juggling their thoughts and feelings, is tricky. But if I trust my gut and my Muse - I'll be ok. Got to remember that.

Gonna print out what I keyed in and take it off to some nice quiet restaurant, pull out the old trusty-rusty yellow pad and keep the story going. The Midpoint is going to be different. It came from an idea that just popped up, but it works perfectly into the tale and will make the ending easier to write, yet better, more climactic.

Life is listening to the Muse.

PS - I'm sure the fact that the pain is lessening exponentially helped me be able to have the wherewithal to write!

Saturday, September 17, 2011


Been sick with a nasty infection. The infection was cleared up in about three weeks with a double dose of antibiotics. But the pain lingers. I truly thought I was going to lose it the other night, but the prayers of friends surely saved me. It is still painful, but not the 10 it was and definitely not as frequently as the attacks were.

The thought of writing brought a different sort of pain. I hate it when I can't write due to my not listening to the Muse. I hate it even more when I can't write due to external things. My little one holds my hand when I hiss as the pain engulfs me.

Met with a friend today and had a great time chatting, but had to leave early as the pain began, it usually starts around 3pm or so. I don't know why.

We always talk about writing and what it means to us and it always gives me such a boost. To know others are dedicated. Whether they write or not. There is a difference. 

It sounds like she is finally going to start another writers' group, with critiquing involved. I was ecstatic to hear this. I value her opinions and such and look forward to participating. She knows I'm behind her 100%. 

I'm going to start working on the 'blueprint' for 'Blue.' Now, isn't that hysterical! I wrote before that it was a 'floor plan,' but in actuality, it is truly a blueprint. I've got tons of ideas of where the story is going and how it ends, but I do truly need to put it on paper. My husband was an engineer and would bring home blueprints of buildings he worked on to show the kids how they were made and such. So I have a good working knowledge of what a blueprint should be. They are extensive. They are detailed. They are neat. So - I've got to spend some serious time with this. Especially since I think 'Blue' might very well be a series book. We'll see.

Life is painful.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Those who continue to read here know that I have a problem with certain words…

One is editor. I’ve learned that I can successfully accept, and respond to with enthusiasm, any critiquing done by my editor if I think of her as my coach. I don't know why this works, but it does.

Outlines:  Ah, I’ve hated outlines since primary school. But a friend lent me a good book (Thanks, But This Isn’t For Us/Morrell) and I find another euphemism that might work for me…. Architecture. The author states that a story must have a good floor plan in order to hold up the rest of the building, so to speak. This makes a lot of sense to me.

I’m going to go to ‘Blue’ and draw up a floor plan for the rest of the story. I’m at the Midpoint now. This floor plan will ensure the foundation and the subsequent rest of the building. It should make the unveiling spot on!

I know – I have to lie to myself – but if it works, it works.

Life is subterfuge.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Dratted Blog Site

I posted early this morning - around midnight. I saw the post and then went to bed. It's gone. Off into the hinterland somewhere..... I suppose what I wrote was of no importance to the powers that be. ROTFL

Be that as it may, I have no idea what I wrote about. 

Life is frantic, hectic, insane. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011


It's a little difficult to even think of writing today. 

My thoughts go back ten years and I am enveloped in sorrow, heartache, and pain. No fear though. I find that fascinating. I believe that day I was afraid. Mostly I was horrified that someone could be so evil to do such a thing.

I grew up with fairy tale endings. There was always a 'bad' person trying to keep the princess/prince from happiness. But they were always defeated in the end. The courage of the hero/heroine won out. 

Evil is still a concept I cannot fully fathom. I find it hard to write a villain. In 'Blue,' they are disembodied beings. Makes it easier to manipulate them. *sad smile* But my characters do have flaws. I can understand flaws. Ones that make you do something that you would swear you'd never do otherwise. I cannot judge people for their flaws when I have a few myself. 

I remember one quote, not sure where that states: it's not the running away from a battle that defines you, but what you do afterwards. Do you stop and return? Do you regret it and try harder the next time? Do you cower in a corner?

I'll stop now. I just want to say that life is such a gift. One to be held and cherished. I cherish my little one. I'm learning to cherish myself.

Life is love.

PS - I still see giraffes and take great pleasure in the sightings. 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

We Are So Alike

Bear with me….

I was talking with my son the other night. He’s an extreme sports photographer out of Utah. As we talked, I realized that he goes through the same things I do – with his craft. He takes a photo (which is a process all of its own and could take days/weeks/months to set up), then he puts it in with all his other photos and tries to figure out which one is the best (editing). After that, he writes cover letters and such and sends them off with his photos to different magazines, advertisers, and sports equipment folk. He sits by his cell phone and waits for a tweet or an email or a letter saying they (whomever) really like the photos and will pay such and such for them. Then, he waits and waits – for there is no guarantee as to when the photos will be published. Or even if they’ll be published. He told me it is not uncommon to ‘find’ one of his photos in a magazine and he has no contract for it. The magazine thought they’d contracted with him and paid him when they hadn’t. So on top of all the things he has to go through for his craft, he has to be constantly vigilant in making sure he doesn’t get overlooked by those he sends his stuff to. Incredible, isn’t it?

I know artists (oils/acrylics/watercolors/ceramics/jewelry) who create wondrous works that take (I don’t even want to think how long these paintings, etc., take). Then they have to sell them, too. Same thing with the contracts and such. Making sure their works are rewarded, monetarily and proprietorially.

I shouldn’t be surprised, but I am. We are all the same, so to speak. Working our craft, loving it, dwelling and delving in it. Then we must work to sell it. Once that's done, it's on to the next work.

I watched a movie tonight about a songwriter. Now, I’ve written songs and have had a couple published (worldwide). But I never even gave a thought to being successful with it. Music changes so very rapidly. There are so many in the field fighting for a stake. (Yet, give me my guitar and I can have such fun.) The hero gave his songs to a publisher who immediately told him to write love songs, that’s all the market would allow, and keep it to 32 bars. He promptly left the place and threw out all his songs! I almost choked – such a horrid thing to do. But the man took the gagging advise, wrote songs of love and 32 bars and became a well-loved composer.

I think of this as I prepare to present my MS at the next SCBWI conference in September. I remember the first time I presented. The critique was not that harsh, really it wasn’t. But it was my first and I took it way too seriously and too much to heart. I left the conference, even though it had a few hours AND dinner left, and went home and sobbed.

I won’t do that again. I’m prepared (at least I tell myself I’m prepared). I’ll accept what the person says and find some friends and chew it over with them. Then I’ll take the critique or leave it. I definitely will NOT take it personally (LOL) – Four Agreements!

The reason I’m bringing all this up – is that we are all alike, to a degree. That everyone has a gift of some kind. We all go through the same process and the same distress. We have the same joy, the same Muse, the same life.

During this week-end of remembrance, I think I will remember to be kinder and gentler. And make it last longer than ten years.

Life is too short.

Friday, September 9, 2011


I do so love the week-ends. I get more writing, more editing, more thinking done than during the whole previous five days.

I met with an author buddy on Sunday and we had a great chat about all things writing and some things not. I do so like this woman because she makes me laugh. She has a delicious way of looking at the world. She could truly be a stand-up comedian.

We did talk about courage again. She's decided to make it one of the topics for our Saturday meeting. I'm looking forward to hearing others' thoughts.

Saturday also, I'll be going to my regular monthly critique group. I'm getting discouraged. In the early spring, a bunch of us committed to the Saturday meetings. The group was honed into two smaller groups to make that commitment work. Shortly after, the whole thing fell apart and the two groups were merged into one of not so committed writers. 

I will be presenting a couple chapters of 'Blue' this Saturday. Unfortunately, the number of people who will be attending the meeting is dwindling to serious proportions. I  cannot decide whether or not to stay with the group. 

Life is tenuous.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


I watched a history detective show tonight.

Called ‘Exercise Records’ -- One of the ‘cases’ they cracked was of an entrepreneur in 1920 who came out with the first exercise records (for use on a record player) for women and set to music (Wallace).

The fascinating thing about this, to me, is that the records were what the industry called ‘vanity pressings.’ The man who developed the exercises went to Columbia Phonographic Company and paid them to press the records. Then, Mr. Wallace went out and sold them. Eventually, it looks like he sold over 50,000 copies around the entire nation. A pretty good accomplishment for that day and age. Even for today!

I found this rather eye-opening. It seems that ‘self publishing’ was used long before I ever thought and for many different mediums.

Just a ramble here about life. "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." George Santayana

Seems like things go in cycles. I oughtn’t be surprised. If I keep an open mind, I’ll end up right back where I started from. *g*

Another thing that just cracks me up… I worked at a company who decided that women were now the new purchasers in the home and that the company should direct its advertising towards women. This in the 1990’s. A little late. A little short-sighted. Wallace would have told them, if they’d listen! ROTFL

Life is ever-changing.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

I Feel Like The Cowardly Lion

I was giggling, sitting here looking at a blank screen, thinking about courage. It just pops up constantly. On other writers' blogs, in conversations with writer friends, as I go forward with 'Blue.'

You can't write, I don't think, without courage. Well, I don't think you can write well without it. Or at least truthfully without it. I know the next part of 'Blue' is going to get down into the very depths of my soul. 

I cannot write without bringing a part of me to the story and/or to my characters. Kathleen is not a 'Mary Sue' -- but she does have parts of me in her. It comes with writing from the soul, from using my life's experiences to hone a believable, vulnerable, likable character.

Thankfully, with the little one off to school in the mornings, I am able to come to terms with my past, use the things I've witnessed in the world, and write a knock-down, drag-out Midpoint for the book. I can't say I'm looking forward to it.

I will say this, I am whittling at it. I think things that are raw and deep that I use for my writing are best looked at it in very small chunks. Or even smaller tidbits. That makes it palatable, safe, perhaps, to tackle.

Life is taking a risk.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

What On Earth?

Last Saturday, I bought a book at a writers' conference. I'd promised myself to read more and I thought it good to buy a book from an author who cared enough to come to our conference and speak.

The book was an eye-opener. I've had them before. I'm sure you have. 

Let me preface this by saying that I hate lying. Truly hate it. I especially hate lying to myself and am on watch constantly, making sure that I don't fall into such a heinous habit. 

I've been a copious reader and have never felt any jealousy towards another author. Yet, I have a nagging feeling that, since becoming a writer, I might 'lean' towards jealousy.

No - unequivocally no. I've read many books since I started writing and I don't feel I've been jealous. I don't feel I'm lying to myself.

Suffice it to say then, that the book was not good. I wouldn't go so far as to say it was terrible, but I read fifty (50!) pages and hadn't learned a thing more in chapter five than I'd read in chapter one. 

And the -ly-'s. They were all over the place. Now, I know the rule states that these are to be used sparingly (forgive me - I don't worry about them here on my blog!). The author was not sparing in the use of words that end in ly (adverbs). Also, phrases were used time and again within sentences of each other. So were the same words. Used over and over within short paragraphs.

I suppose I could read on and forget those things if the story held any semblance of plot. Well, to be fair, there seems to be a plot running through it, but there has been no story arc. I'm not trying to be facetious, being as I've only just discovered story arc, but it has been shown to me, and I try to learn from all that is brought to my attention, that a story arc is a good thing.

I can sense that the author is leading me somewhere, but it is taking forever. AND - it is a short book. Remember, I'm on chapter five and nowhere near any tension or sense of what's going to happen next. Or even caring what happens next.

To bring this musing to a close, I see that my editor is correct. I do write well. You probably do, too. The focus must be in building myself up, my confidence. I struggle to go forward in my books because, I think, I don't believe I am a good writer. I've got to quash that thought NOW. 

I suppose this is another saying that must be pasted on my bathroom mirror.


Life is specific in its truth.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Found One Thing; Finished Another

Been a productive day today. Ready to fall into bed, but feeling quite pleased with myself. 

The one book I was looking for, I think, is one by Elizabeth Marie Pope. It's called 'The Sherwood Ring' and was published in 1958. The cover does not look like the cover I remember. I swore there was an old mansion on it and a gold sticker award symbol. Not on the one I found via Google.

I've got to find a copy and re-read it. There are three ghosts. I only remember one. The most charismatic. Peaceable Drummund Sherwood. Now isn't that a pip of a name for a character!

As a writer, I had to chuckle. Dear Elizabeth probably loved all her characters, but the only one I remember was the dashing spy-ghost and the heroine. But I remember them to this day. Quite an accomplishment for an author, if I do say so myself. I'd be very pleased to have one of my tales remembered for such a long time.

I had put aside the giraffe story for I was floundering in a morass of poetry and couldn't quite figure out what needed help. I picked the story up a couple days ago and began piecing it together with new stuff (rhymes). I finished it today. I think *fingers crossed* it is perfect. 

I'm going to give it to my editor and see what she thinks. Then I'll send it out again. 

Life is fulfilling.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Dentist

I worked on 'The Dentist and the Whale' today. I have it in final draft form. I think. I'll send it out to my editor tomorrow. I'm getting tired now. We'll see what she thinks of it. I've not shared any of it with her and she didn't know I was writing another thing.

I also spent time on the giraffe story. I want to send it out to more publishing houses but I'd like to get the blasted phrase or two that just don't quite work for me - right. I'll send that off to my editor too. The only problem - she doesn't really 'do' poetry. 

As for story arc for 'Blue.' I've got that settled. The Midpoint is definitely going to be the Mid Winter Dance. The Climax will be the battle for Kathleen's castle.

With the little one in morning kindergarten, I plan on writing a lot. And reading more. I promise!

Life is full.