Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Knowing When to Quit


Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.” – Michael Jordan

Never give up. If you want to be something, be conceited about it, give yourself a chance. Never say you are not good, that will never get you anywhere. Set goals, That’s what life is made of.” – Mike McLaren

You’re never a loser until you quit trying.” – Mike Ditka

Before success comes in any man’s life, he’s sure to meet with much temporary defeat and, perhaps some failures. When defeat overtakes a man, the easiest and the most logical thing to do is to quit. That’s exactly what the majority of men do.” – Napoleon Hill

People of mediocre ability sometimes achieve outstanding success because they don’t know when to quit. Most men succeed because they are determined to.” – George Allen

A man is not finished when he is defeated. He is finished when he quits.” – Richard M. Nixon

A quitter never wins and a winner never quits.” – Napoleon Hill

[Quotes courtesy of MightyFighter.com, Top 30 Greatest Quitting Quotes, see the rest here]

We all face times of doubt, loss of confidence, hardship. Whether you're an aspiring author, a student, an athlete, an employee, et al, quitting is never the answer. History only remembers those that preserved and succeeded; it doesn't remember the quitters.

So think again when giving up crosses your mind--you could be so close to your goal.


Clip Art courtesy of Microsoft

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Designing Devices

Since there have been writers, there have been literary devices. I'm talking about visual devices;. like when poets create a poem in the shape of a tree because that's the theme. You probably did this in sixth grade (maybe it's still hidden in a drawer somewhere.)

The savvy writer knows not to use it more than once, possibly twice in a book; or just use one device throughout the book.

One of the best I've seen is in the book New Moon, the second in the Twilight books by Stephanie Meyer. Edward has abandoned Bella and she's so devastated she 'checks' out. She's only going through the motions of living. Here is how she showed the emptiness in three chapters:


(new chapter:)


(new chapter:)


There's nothing there. Life has gone on, but it hasn't left any impression on her. I think this is brilliant.

Another example of one that is commonly used now showed up in Lauren Myracle's young adult series starting with ttyl. She uses text message language, which now is falling out of favor because of spell check which fills in the word for you, although there are plenty of people who still text "R U there?" and other assorted phrases. Inserting texting into manuscripts- along with emojis- has become as commonplace as flashbacks, unless you're writing pre-cell phone era. Many of us use not only texts, but letters, journals, news reports, etc. interspersed through our manuscripts.

One of the devices I despise, abhor, can't stand: stream of consciousness. William Faulkner does this in The Sound and the Fury. His character Quentin, who's going off to Harvard in the fall, speaks in streams of consciousness. I can't find my copy of the book so I'm going to illustrate with my own words:

I run fast I keep going how could she do that there's the fence I need to jump around it Benjy won't stop bellowing Father doesn't give a damn...

Obviously, Faulkner's words were different, but you get the gist. I don't like this device because without punctuation you have to slow your reading down to separate the different thoughts. Whole paragraphs can be quite tiring. And, as I indicated to my English professor at the time, I didn't think Faulkner used this device correctly. (Yes, I know, he's a celebrated writer and I'm not; move on.) I believe this device would have been more suited to Benjy, Quentin's 33 year old brother who is mentally disabled, with his limited communication skills and no education, rather than a Harvard man. (And I got an A on that paper.) Either way, I would never use this.

One device that I love when it's done right is foreshadowing. Too heavy a hand, and you automatically know what's going to happen or who did what. It takes skill, and any book or movie that's done right leaves you surprised. I like the use of red in The Sixth Sense. Some of you may have guessed the twist, but I didn't and in the end I was "Of course!"

Then there's the last twist before the end. One of my fave's is the alien on board the escape ship with Sigourney Weaver in the movie Alien. She battles this beastie, saves the cat, and the damn thing still won't die. (I also love the fact that she was right- she told the captain not to let the guy with the creature on his face in, it violated safety/contamination protocols. And discovered that the ship's computer and the android were government 'spies' with a priority to seek out new life forms for military purposes. And that she was kickass enough to be the sole survivor.) That last twist, down to the final tense, fearful moments, made me hyperventilate.

There are so many devices to kick your novel up a level. Use them sparingly and wisely to place your story out of the crowd.

Keep writing,


Monday, May 9, 2016

Let's talk about it over coffee...

You want to write/illustrate for children. Maybe picture book, maybe middle grade, maybe young adult (who technically aren't children, but we authors have no say in this classification so don't yell at the messenger).

You've drafted/typed some things down or maybe even completed a manuscript. But you're unsure what to do next, possibly even afraid to send it out, and to whom?

Chill. This is not that big a deal in the grand scheme of writing and publishing. Let's talk about it over coffee and see what we can help you with.

On May 21, Saturday, get your kisters out of bed and come to the Somerville Barnes and Noble (319 US Rt 202/206, off the circle near TGIF's). From 9-11 I'll be hosting an informal get together of SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) members and wannabes. We can talk about the journey, offer suggestions, give you a clue about the conference that hopefully you signed up for (but it's too late now), and nudge you to completing a dream. What better way to spend two hours on a Saturday? And surrounded by books! (You can imagine your book there...)

So no excuses. Be there. Bring questions. Think positive.


Monday, May 2, 2016

Meet The Team!

T! E! A! M! Goooooo Team!

Now that all the contracts are signed, here's the team I'm hoping will make my middle grade adventure series a winner:

My Agent:

Natalie M. Lakosil is an agent at the Bradford Literary Agency. An honors graduate of the University of San Diego, California, Natalie holds a B.A. in Literature/Writing. After nearly four years at the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency and a brief dabble in writing author profiles and book reviews for the San Diego Union Tribune, Natalie joined the Bradford Agency in February of 2011.

Natalie is drawn to talented, hard-working new authors with a fresh, unique voice and hook. Her specialties are children’s literature (from picture book through teen and New Adult), romance (contemporary and historical), cozy mystery/crime, upmarket (literary and commercial blend) women’s/general fiction and select children’s nonfiction. Her interests within her specialties include historical, multi-cultural, magical realism, sci-fi/fantasy, gritty, thrilling and darker contemporary novels, middle grade with heart, and short, quirky, lovely or character-driven picture books. She is always drawn to an open and positive attitude in an author, professionalism, good grammar, and fantastical, beautifully written, engaging and sexy plots.

Natalie is a member of RWA and SCBWI.

Read more about her agency on their website or Facebook, and follow Natalie on Twitter @Natalie_Lakosil!

My Illustrator:

Cathleen Thole-Daniels has been a published illustrator since 1990. Her clients include Simon & Schuster,Barnes & Noble, PlayStation, Sega Genesis, Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Legend Entertainment, Fleer Trading Card Co, Topps Trading Card Co. Her professional awards include Best Logo Design NJ-SCBWI 2009, Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Visual Artist Fellowship Award 2008, Fantasy/Sci-Fi Illustrators & Writers Of The Future Contest, Honorable Mention 1992. Cathleen was also a N.J. State certified Commercial Art educator from 2002-2014. Her educator awards include N.J. Governor's Award in Arts Education 2006, Outstanding Educator in the Arts Award, VSA Arts of New Jersey 2006. VSA is an affiliate of the JFK Center for Performing Arts. Cathleen now spends her time illustrating for kids, playing with her cats and bugging her husband, daughter and neighborhood squirrels to pose for photo reference! You can find her work at  http://cathleendaniels.com/

My Publicist:

After years of working in children's publicity at Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, and other major publishers, in 2003, Rebecca Grose started her own freelance literary publicity firm - SoCal P.R. (www.socalpr.net). Using her experience and relationships with media, booksellers, and other key contacts, she works closely with her clients to strategize, design, and implement successful publicity campaigns. She has worked with several of my friends, including Yvonne Ventresca, for her Pandemic release.

So that's the team. We're all excited for this project and I think working together it will be a dream realized for me. This is the first children's book that I wrote (if you don't count all the verbose picture manuscripts I tried). And as I've mentioned, it has a special place in my heart.

Next week, this post will move over to my journey page and my blog posts will go back to writerly and world musings. When something big or exciting (hopefully not upsetting) occurs, I'll post it to the main blog then move it over.

Next, I hope to show a rough draft from Cathleen as our projected debut is September for the first book, December for the second. If all goes well, March for the third and June for the fourth.

Keep checking in,