Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Sometimes, you go with the flow...

I had no idea what to write for this blog post. There are enough authors out there putting up links and advice for writers. I don't have any cute cat pics (I'm currently very annoyed with them.)  I don't own a dog. No one wants to hear me defend my fave team, the New England Patriots (can someone say NFL corruption and show me real proof?). I'm revising some  projects I've already told you about. So....

What is it about the males in my house and dishwashers?

They don't put all the forks together, or the spoons, or the knives. That means I have to spend time and sort them.

They put 2, 3 things on top of each other. That means most of them don't come clean and they have to be put back into the dishwasher or I have to wash them by hand.

They don't turn on the machine even when it's clearly full. That means I have to put them on and in the meantime, they pile up the dishes in the sink.

They don't empty it because they don't. That means that dishes pile up in the sink because heaven forbid someone wash a dish by hand.

They cram glasses next to heavier cups and plates so that sometimes they break. That means I have to pick the glass out of the bottom and buy new ones.

I'm seriously thinking of going to paper plates.

But I know I'll be taking out 3x more garbage.

What should I do? Let me know. In the meantime, I'm going out for ice cream.


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

What's in a word....?

On, out, up, in- they're all pretty much the same.

Hubs: I let the cats out.


Hubs: I let the cats UP. (they stay in basement playroom at night because they run like crazy at 2 am and wake everyone up.)

See the difference? Even the littlest words have power...  Choose your words carefully....


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Where There's A Will...

...you can find a way.

Yes, that sounds like contrite, cliched advice. True, nonetheless. Want to write a novel or learn to play an instrument or paint a mural on your dining room wall (or name your project)? Oh, but you can't, because (cue excuses) you don't have time or space or whatever...


Want to see determination? Want to see a successful "I'm not going to be stopped, I WILL achieve my goal!"

Check out my garden. Those big leafy plants on the right are cucumbers and zucchini. You can't see it, but next to them is a fence. They kind of got squished in.

But behind every hardship is a story of courage, valor, or just plain "I'm doing this and nothing is going to stop me." Here's how one cucumber overcame the limited space the rose bush and his other cucumber buddies imposed on him, forcing him to grow against the fence:

He grew where he was. See the big bully cucumber at bottom right? He took all the space. That didn't stop this guy. When it got cramped and the fence tried to stop him from growing, he found a new direction:

He grew outside the fence. (Ruining the fence in the process, but hey, job accomplished.) He didn't let boundaries, imposed on him by others, stop him. He grew where he could, then took the space he needed.

That's YOU. Grow where you can, but when that doesn't work, you have to be stronger, overcome your fences. No matter what the goal- higher education, writing a book, learning a skill, improving your health- remember this:


So get going. And may your fight and journey be successful.


Monday, July 6, 2015

Why I'm Not Doing NaNoWriMo This Year...

The great people who run the National Novel Writing Month campaign send me reminders about Camp NaNoWriMo, which occurs in July for getting a novel started, or a middle grade or picture book written. It's intended to be a smaller scale than November's 50,000 words in 1 month challenge.

I'm not doing any of it.

The wonderful NaNoWriMo people and I haven't had a war of words, I'm not giving up writing to raise alpacas, and I'm not crossing a sea in a dingy with my cat. I still believe in NaNoWriMo, as most of my completed novels were products of that insanity. The NaNo challenge works for me- work like a hellish crazy person and write the novel in 30 days (yes, even Thanksgiving Day) and have the rest of the year to polish and perfect it.

So what's up?

I have several novels that I wrote, revised, and then put aside to work on other projects with my agent and editors. Needing my attention are a time travel novel spanning human civilization, a re-imagining of a Gothic classic, a paranormal-medical mystery, and a middle grade World War II historical. Plus I'm doing another revision on my sci fi NaNo project of two years ago which my agent has gotten interest in if  I make some changes. Plus a middle grade animal-science story is going out to a publisher and my agent thinks it would garner more interest as a series so I have to outline several more books to show where the first book will lead.

I have enough on my plate, don't you think?

I won't mention that we're having work done on the house, there are summer camps to drive the son to, and book signings for me, I want at least a 5 day vacation, and relatives may be coming for a visit. You know how busy summer gets, and then before you know it, it's September and the whole school routine starts again.

So for the first time in several years, I'm skipping NaNoWriMo, but I'm taking the skills and the get-it-done determination I've learned and applying it to those other projects. (I'm even skipping yoga this morning to finish my read through before the contractor gets here to start work.)

Maybe you have a manuscript or two that need a lot of attention. Or you don't feel up to writing a new novel during the frantic holidays. Skip writing a new one and use the companionship and camaraderie of this community to help you freshen and fix up that old manuscript sitting in the drawer- the one you still love, but which needs a ton of loving attention. Instead of posting words written, you could post words revised.

Whatever your writing goals, use NaNoWriMo to help you achieve it. Stay plugged in and energized.

Good luck!


Monday, June 29, 2015

Between Breaks...

I've finished roughing out the (almost) total re-write of my sci fi (I got to keep the first 50 out of 380 pages).

This is what I want to do:

This is what I should do:

This is what I'll probably do:

I need more chai, more mulch, ice cream for lunch, book for the kid's summer reading, and I'm sure something else...

But it's good to get away from the desk, writing,

Oh yeah, and I need to trim the cat's butt fur. *Runs to car...


Monday, June 22, 2015

Leave That Cliche Alone!

I know, writers and editors are always telling you to eliminate cliches (unless they are part of dialogue or the piece is tongue-in-cheek).

Weeeeellllll, not necessarily.

There are some cliches I can't eliminate. For example, when writing a scene about food, French bread is always "crusty." That tells you it's a golden color, and when you bite into it, pieces flake off. Mmmmm. You could substitute "crunchy" but that doesn't convey the same feeling because nuts are crunchy, and cereal, and apples. "Crispy" may work, but that's not the same either, right?

Then there's "cat-like reflexes." This phrase has been used so many times that it qualifies as a cliche. But what other animal has such graceful power? Bears are powerful, not at all graceful. Butterflies are graceful, not powerful. (Okay, I may have to rethink about my cat having those reflexes.)

It's a problem. Some words are just necessary to describe exactly what you mean. There are many more though I can't think of them at the moment, but I'm sure you get the gist (see that, another cliche, but what other word would work?).

Sometimes a cliche is the only way to go. What are your faves that you don't want to give up?


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Ok, You Went To A Writing Conference...

You attended the annual conference of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (let’s say the New Jersey chapter which happened this past weekend). You’ve gotten a critique by an editor or agent, did a fast pitch to another agent, attended numerous workshops and panels. You chatted with published authors during lunch, dinner, or the social mixer, bought some autographed books, maybe had a peer review. You’re brimming with excitement and exhaustion.

What’s next?

You may think you should just jump right in and get to those revisions, even if there are contradictory ones. Quick, get it done before you lose the energy!


Some people are so energized and can quickly sort out all the information and suggestions they’ve gotten and get right to work. I was like that.

I’ve found a better way.

Wait it out.

Maybe two days, maybe a week, maybe until I figured out the exact changes to be made. I’ve learned to sift through everything I’ve taken in, absorb only the bits I need or want.

Just because someone tells you to change something doesn’t mean you should. Does it fit your story? (Would it still be great if the Alice in Alice in Wonderland was an Alex? If Dracula was gay? If your story is no longer recognizable?) There is a fine line between a good suggestion (change tense, make main character more likeable, ratchet up the tension between the ex girlfriend/boyfriend) and advice that doesn’t work for you (can you imagine how different The Fault in Our Stars would be if the girl lived?) These things have to be considered before you leap into the lake of revisions.

I find that allowing at least a day to mull over all the suggestions helps a bit. Go through your notes and theirs- cross out whatever is a total no-go (making your horror story a love story). Make a separate list of those things that are under consideration (changing the point of view from third to first person, from past tense to present, from multiple narrators to one or two, etc.) Then, make a list of the things that absolutely have to be done, like correcting grammar mistakes, adding sensory details, changing ‘telling’ into ‘showing.’ Take another day to work out how you’re going to make the necessary changes; will you have to eliminate a character or multiple scenes? Will you have to add more setting detail? Do you need more research?

Go through your ‘maybe’ list again, this time crossing out whatever you know now you’re not going to do, and putting the rest on the ‘must do’ list. Now you’re ready to tackle those revisions. It’s possible that you’re faster than most people in sorting and planning and changing. If you listened to the editors and the agents you talked with, they’ll probably all have told you not to rush; take your time, consider the advice. After all, they’ll wait for a good manuscript, and they’ll rush to reject a bad one.

Now that I’ve weeded all my gardens while I worked out a plot problem, I’m going to carefully and slowly make those revisions. My agent said she’d wait…

Good luck and good writing!