Friday, December 3, 2010

And back to the real world

Now that NaNoWriMo is over, it's time to get back to the trolls! Of course, that will only be possible after this weekend is over: I am working a booth at a crafts fair tomorrow and then I have cookie training on Sunday.

Yes, that's right. I said cookie training. While this might sound intriguing and rather daunting, (How do you train a chocolate chip cookie, and can you make a macaroon do flips?) it is not what it seems. Every year at this time, Girl Scout leaders from far and wide get together to learn about the rules for Girl Scout Cookie Time! (Three hours of making sure I know the rules so I can teach them to my girls.)

How do I know I'll get some writing done this month? Very simply: the inside of the house is decorated, the presents are all bought AND WRAPPED, and I am determined to write!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Uppppps and Dowwwwwwnnnnnns

This has been a month of ups and downs. Do you ever feel that it really is true: "When you're up, you're up and when you're down, you're down"? That seems to be the way my writing has gone this month. I have brilliant moments of insight into my characters and I'll get three, four thousand words in one evening. Then, I hit a block. A moment of so much doubt or uncertainty regarding my characters that I find it hard to get even a hundred words.

Today was one of those "up" days. In what seemed like no time, I chugged right along on the NaNo story. Yesterday? Also and up day. However, the three days before that were definitely downers. While I have decided Saturday's "down" time doesn't count: I was exhausted from running my second 5K. Unfortunately, I can't discount the other days.

On the good points? It's Thanksgiving week, I've submitted J.T. to an agent, and I have time to write.

The bad points? Well, I'm trying to be optimistic so I won't get into all of them. Maybe if I act like an ostrich they'll all go away...

Friday, November 12, 2010

The new beginning ROCKS!

It's amazing how a little clarity to the novel makes everything flow so much easier. I kept trying to work three weeks of fairly exciting action into the novel and then I realized...I didn't need to do that! Start the novel three weeks earlier and voila! It works. (Of course, that means I don't get to use my FABOCULOUS (slang term in the future) first sentence that I've been dreaming about in the weeks and months leading up to, since I can't use it, I'll put it here:

I'm not supposed to be alive.

There. Isn't it great? Doesn't it make you wonder who isn't supposed to be alive and why they should be dead? But...a great first line does not make a great book if the rest of it is a struggle to get written.

On the NaNo word count front, I'm almost to 16,000 words...only 3,450 words behind where I should be! After marathon sessions Wednesday night and Thursday evening (Thank you veterans, for more than just a day off school!), I've gotten to this point. It's better than the 8000 word deficit I had on Monday! And, since the evening is still young, I hope to erase that deficit and actually get on the plus side of my word count graph tonight. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

And so it goes

NaNo is really kicking my, um, brain this year! Actually, the story is all there in my brain and itching to get out (pounding at times), but then life happens. Tonight's goal: go to the grocery store and then write 2,000 words...of course, there's no school tomorrow (Veterans Day) so I'll stay up and do 3K if possible! Then tomorrow, between the Veterans Day Remembrance Event and the family picture for the church directory, I plan on adding 2000 more!

The hardest part of writing when working full time is chiseling out the time in the schedule for writing. Each day begins with the best of intentions, but then the numerous expectations and needs at work creep (or slam!) into my tiny little breaks. At home, it's sometimes necessary to help somebody study for a test or proofread a project. When you add National Board renewal, Girl Scouts, taxi service, and the children's supposed need to eat a home cooked meal...let's just say it's bedtime before the laptop's been fired up!

However, as long as I keep thinking about the story, planning scenes, getting to know my characters better, talking to my MC, and dreaming plot threads...when I do sit down at my laptop the words really do flow right through my fingers and onto the screen.

Monday, November 8, 2010

New beginnings

New beginnings can be so wonderful or stressful or encouraging or stressful or...well, you get the idea! So I'm about 8,000 words into my NaNo (I know, I'm behind and it's only been a week!) and I realize that one of the problems is that I the beginning. You would think a book that starts with "I shouldn't be alive" would spark all sorts of energy. Instead, it's BLAH...

So I took a step back and allowed a little inner editor to emerge (totally against the NaNo ideals and principles, but, hey, better a step back than to sink in the quagmire that had developed!) and I realized my problem was not in the story, not in the characters, but in that I had jumped into the middle of an ocean and there was no visible/possible way for me to have gotten there! So I decided to restart the story, keeping my 8000 words in reserve, and incorporate those fabulous words (or, in the MC's vernacular: faboculous) into later chapters as the story truly unfolds.

Once I made that decision, I realized I didn't want to just third person the story as I had been doing, but I didn't want a normal first person story. Now the story is being told in a journal style through the MC's computerized vid tablet (it IS a futuristic novel) with holographic outputs. I'm 1000 words into the new beginning, and I'm figuring it will be another few thousand before the original material gets sucked back into the plot.

Maybe I'll get caught up this week...

Or at least not much farther behind.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The future of books

Sometimes I love technology and other times I realize it may be my nemesis. (Like when the server crashes at school in the middle of a technology based lesson!) Anyway, at the wonderful NCSLMA conference, a national panel discussion had one member who claimed that there would be no print books in school libraries in the next ten years. Really? He claimed that every student would download temporary files of ebooks or they would use e-readers like Nook and Kindle. I love ebooks (and I wish I had an e-reader), but where's the money for this technology going to come from? How many students DON'T have access to the internet at home? I know the answer at my school is A LOT. Anyway, the conference itself was inspiring. Lisa Yee is AWESOME! (and so were the many other presenters and authors in attendance.)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Two hours and counting

until the start of 2010 NaNoWriMo! (Well, not really COUNTING...I have to work tomorrow so there will be no feverish midnight writing going on here.) My as-yet-untitled-work is ready to begin tomorrow...Hopefully I'll be able to get the words flowing in between work and scouts and homework and fixing dinner! I'm setting the goal of 1600 words per day.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Is there any other words that sound sweeter to a librarian/avid reader's ears? Even better if they are middle grade books? Not to mention (once again) that they're free?

Well, thanks to a contest, libraries can be nominated to receive these free books.

Nominate a library today! (Especially if its my library.)


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Middle of the night brainstorms

So I send off my latest excerpt to my critique group. It's the next part of a novel where I'm not totally happy about the beginning. (I like the chapter but felt it didn't need to be at the beginning since I was using the events of the future and then flashing back to the past for the rest of the novel.) Well...that night I had a dream. A dream where, not that dream. I realized I needed to go into the past. (Seventy-four years in the past to be exact) Into the past to a birthday party and a birthday wish. THEN I realized that the little girl in that birthday party (who is the MC's deceased great-grandmother) needs to play a more prominent role as her grown-up ghost haunts the MC! WOW! Now I'm totally revamping that beginning but not scraping what I've sent out. Why couldn't this brainstorm happen the night BEFORE I sent out the excerpt? Then the new ideas could have been critiqued! Oh, well. I'm thankful for brainstorms anytime they occur.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Wow! It's been a while

Since I've posted here. That's what happens when life continues to progress around me. This has been a stressful school year, and it's only 7 weeks into it! I'm doing more with less time, have more responsibilities to shoulder, and wonder when it's all going to get done.

The trolls have now met a tricky little sprite (actually, she's more like a giant to them...trolls are REALLY short) who's going to escort them to her homeland...the quest continues!

But November starts soon and that means....NANOWRIMO! I've been saving my thoughts on a dystopian YA for next month, and I'm itching to get started as are most (some?) of my fourth graders. It's interesting to see 174 novels in progress for a month. I might not reach the goal this year. I do tend to need sleep.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Just a Spoonful...

...of stories! I've submitted my entry into the Cheerios Spoonsful of Stories contest! I'm excited because I actually took the very first children's story I wrote (intended as a picture book, but really not a very good story since the vocabulary was WAY too advanced for young children) and changed it into a rhyming picture book! It is very cute if I do say so myself, and I just did! I know there will be some tough competition but you can't win if you don't enter!!!!

The trolls are moving right along on their quest, traveling to Drocnoc and then on to Anirav Yawkuf. I hope to finish this draft, and maybe another draft, before school begins in August. Like always, there's another story pushing for my attention that I keep jotting down ideas for and then putting it aside. I MUST FINISH TROLL QUEST FIRST!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Anniversaries, summer camp, and heat

Ahhh...there's nothing like 101 degree days to be happy in the air conditioning.

Then, of course, if you add to that sending all three children away to summer camp on the same day and having your 17th anniversary to celebrate, it makes you want to go...YIPPPEEEE!!!!

To celebrate our anniversary, I sent my manuscript to both editors who I met at a writer's retreat. (Not unsolicited...they gave permission to attendees to send them) After all, there were lots of positive vibes going on that day! Hopefully a few of those vibes survived the trip in the envelope. Of course, that leads to the "wait and see" game.

With all the quiet in the house, you would think I'm getting some writing done. Instead, I've read a book (it's been awhile since I've had time for that!) that was actually written (GASP!) for an adult audience....Lost and Found. Great book that I enjoyed while waiting for The Seventh Level to arrive which should hold me off a little ways until Mockingjay comes out. I am planning on writing tonight. (I finished my online course development for the fourth graders this afternoon. Now for some "me" time.)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Week 4

That's right! I'm in week 4 of Couch to 5 K which means I actually jogged an entire 5 minutes without stopping...TWICE! (I also had 2 3-minute intervals as well!) So far so good, and we're looking at running the Race for Life 5K in August. (Gulp! It's gonna be hot!) My goal is to finish a 5 K in 30-35 minutes. I think that's obtainable.

Now that the running is over for the day (I get up at 7 to run before it's too hot and sunny.), it's time for writing. The dilemma is not solved for J.T. I still haven't decided which version to send off, but I do know a version WILL be sent off this week.

That's why I'm working on the Trolls. Or, I will work on the trolls when I get off this blog! There's also an opening chapter of my YA/Sci-Fi/Fantasy that I need to get written down after having heard it in my mind the last few nights.

Happy writing, and stay cool!!!!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

On the Road Again...

...Or, to be more precise, on the keyboard again while the Trolls progress through the woods and on to Drocnoc.

Today was a busy day for writing. Now comes a dilemma only I can solve: answering the question, when is enough, enough? When do I stop minor little alterations (the BIG alteration is already done) and print out J.T. and send it to the editors who are willing to read it? Do I trust my instincts that are saying, "Do it now!" Or do I listen to my analytical side that says, "Read it again. And then again. Don't be too hasty."

Once I solve that dilemma, I have a second problem. Should I send version 16 (current version) by itself, or do I send the first two chapters from version 14 (last version before the BIG changes I made after the Carolinas Retreat)? Would the editors want to see those? I have mixed reviews on the newest version compared to the older version. First, everyone loves the new stuff. BUT...those who read the old stuff said they missed one of the big scenes in it! That scene was removed at the advice of the critique at the retreat.

Problems, problems, problems.

Oh, wait! I only have TWO problems, not three! Whee! Of course, that's nothing compared the problems that pair of trolls is facing right about now...

Friday, May 7, 2010

Write or exercise?

Those are my choices of early morning activities. Both are worthwhile. Both are healthy (albeit one mental health and one physical health). Both are important to me (although I will confess exercise is not quite as high in the rankings).

On the one hand, I need more time to write when I'm not mentally exhausted from dealing with 1000+ students all day, helping my own children with homework, dealing with dinner, and playing referee when WWIII breaks out in my own home. Between editing J.T.'s story for a summer deadline, finishing Troll Quest, and wishing I had the time and energy to concentrate on Enalia, writing could be a full time activity. (Notice I did not say job...there's no paycheck so currently it cannot be my'd be great if that would change in the future.)

Then there is the semi-dire warning of my doctor to lose a little weight. (Hey, in comparison to many, many people, 20 lbs is me, well, not so little.) I'm forty now (and not over the hill...I plan to live way past 80) and need to take better care of myself. I definitely won't exercise in the afternoons since I get home around dinner time, fix dinner (or sit down to eat if my husband's cooked it), help with homework, get the kids in bed...unless it's Scout night or Relay for Life least soccer and track seasons are over now!

So there's my dilemma...mental health or physical health? It'd be nice to get these voices, urrr, I mean, characters, out of my head and onto paper. (or embedded in a digital code on my flash drive as the case might be.) It'd also be fabulous to fit back into this gorgeous turquoise, purple, and lime dress in my closet.

Ah, decisions, decisions, decisions.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Revisions and rewrites

Based on the feedback I received at the SCBWI-Carolinas conference, I am now revising and rewriting J.T.'s story. Such great advice, it makes me wonder "why didn't I think of that?" Of course, that's why Bruce Hale is a successful author and Stacy Cantor and Jennifer Rees are editors...they know what they're talking about/doing! Anyway, the beginning of the novel has been revamped (15th version!), and I've gone through the rest of the novel with a wide-toothed comb to make some changes. Once I've typed in all of those corrections, it'll be time to...use the fine-toothed comb and get the rest of my tangled word choices taken care of.

If you are aspiring to write, remember: authentic and believable voice, every word needs to be necessary, and build your suspense with every scene/chapter/page...great advice from some great people!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Refreshed, energized, and now rewriting

The SCBWI-Carolinas conference was fabulous. I loved every minute of it...Now to follow all the advice of an expert, rewrite J.T.'s beginning, and get the query redone! sounds like a lot when written like that, but a weekend of being surrounded by all things writing means my brain is working better!

Either that or I'm running on those lack of sleep vibes that give you energy

Thursday, April 15, 2010

One story down...too many to go!

I finished the story of Sir Jordan...this began as a short story and progressed until it was about four times longer than originally planned with 12 chapters! However, this story, written for a very special young man, is finished through two drafts and one editing session! Yeah!

My next focus will be on Troll Quest. It really is my favorite of all I've written which is the problem. I have so many ideas to include in it that I am getting bogged down in details. I've decided to get the main plot written. Then I will go back and flush out the sub-plots and minor characters in the next draft.

However, before I complete TQ, I am off to the SCBWI-Carolinas Retreat! I am VERY excited about this opportunity to have an entire weekend dedicated to all things about writing. It's also going to be great meeting someone I only know through emails and writing samples and critiques!

Remember, the only wrong words are the unwritten ones! Happy writing!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Writing Angst

Another month gone and my writing goals have not been accomplished at this point! So much as I try and try to finish Troll Quest, it seems to be taking its own sweet time as the sub-plots become more involved. Do I merely try to get the main plot finished and then go back to flush out the rest, or should I develop it all at once? I don't seem to be getting through the book as quickly as I would like.

On the bright side, I will be working hard during April because I am going to the SCBWI Writer's Intensive plus I have an entire week with no worries from school to distract me!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

What happened to February?

I really am not sure what happened this's almost over and it feels like it just began (although this was an incredibly LOOOOOOONNNNNGGGGG week at work!). Writing has not gone as well as I would have liked due to overwhelming demands of two different fundraisers and Girl Scout Cookie Sale coinciding. There are also the forty-odd blankets that are knitted and need to be crocheted to be finished...they take up a large part of my living room and will be donated to Project Linus when finished. (Two knitters using up odds and ends of yarn = forty+ blankets!)

So, with March on the horizon, what will I do? First, and foremost, is to finish Troll Quest. After that, I'll be editing it and moving forward with my YA book. (And no, the characters do not all have names...yet...just strong personalities!)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Dear Lucky Agent

There's nothing like a great contest to enter your novel in! The latest "Dear Lucky Agent" contest is for middle grades or young adult novels! Information on entering is at:

Sunday, February 7, 2010

What is REALLY in a Name?

So the trolls are on their way to meet the queen of the sprites, and all is well in the land of Marf. The names for the characters and places were so easy to develop in that novel that I actually have a lot of great trolls who have not even been mentioned! That leads to the problem with my YA novel...names.

This is a futuristic sci-fi novel (not fantasy, for once!), and I want names that reflect the progress (as well as the lack of progress) of humanity. My MC's are twins, a boy and a girl. The girl's name came quite easily with the help of a good friend. Her brother, however, is simply a ? in the outline and manuscript beginning. So is his best friend. And their father. Nothing sounds "right" for any of these characters! I'm staying away from those stereotypical and slightly ghastly sci fi names you see WAY too often. There are no characters named Galaxia, Orion, Neptune, etc. Nothing that sounds as if it came from a bad sitcom or attempt at remaking Star Trek. If you have any ideas, I know I want the brother's name to start with a "N" sound and end in a strong consonant. Feel free to pass along your suggestions. Maybe one will work or, at least, go through a metamorphasis into the right name. For now, Enalia and ? are busy discovering who they really are and how to save themselves and all of the other "Imperfects"...

Sunday, January 31, 2010


Today is "Get the Submissions Ready for all the February Deadlines" day.

(What? That's not on your calendar? Hmmmm. I wonder why it's printed in such large block letters on mine? Oh, well.)

What submissions? Well, there's the contest for SCBWI Carolinas that must be postmarked in February. Then there's the application for the spring retreat. Oh, and I cannot forget the WIP Grant application. On top of that, I've sent six queries to agents. One e-jection and no news from the rest yet. While waiting to hear from all of the rest, I've polished the synopsis (again!) and revised the query (again!). I've also edited chapter one (AGAIN!).

And in between that, I took advantage of the snow and went sledding with my children.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Snow sledding and first pages

Last night, as it snowed (and then sleeted), a first page came to me. This is usually what happens to me with new ideas. I "see" the first page and hear the dialogue, see the setting and characters. Now I have a YA novel beginning in my mind to write down. (If the page is "still there" in the morning, I write it down. If I forgot it or hate it in the light of day, I write down the premise and leave the rest alone.)

The thing is, the first page is the inspiration, the tone. I get the voice started for the entire novel even when the words and events of the beginning change. For Josiah's Orchard, the first chapter became the second chapter with a LOT of differences. In J.T.'s story, that first page was broken up into small pieces of backstory scattered throughout the first two chapters (although the first sentence remained). Fortune's first page ended up deleted in favor of something new. Despite all that, the original first page of every story is the most important because without it I'd have nothing to write.

This work isn't titled yet. I'm not even sure of the MC's name. But I do know I'm intrigued enough to work on this and see where it leads. If it goes well, it will be a sci-fi YA set in 2140. No flying cars, no "Jetsons". Instead, a lot of things rooted in today's culture that have altered humanity and life on earth. We'll see...

Friday, January 29, 2010


Hopefully, anyway. It's either snow then sleet, snow then sleet then freezing rain, or just sleet and freezing rain. I'd rather have the first and none of the ice!

On the bright side, the laptop is completely charged and ready for some writing time even if we lose power!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Cookies, Queries, and Forms (Oh My!)

Between accompanying my daughter as she took orders for Girl Scout cookies, sending my query out to agents, and working on my SCBWI grant application form, it's been a busy Saturday! I wish the SCBWI form was one where I could type my info into it on the computer. Since my arthritis is acting up with having been out in the cold all day, it will not be a neatly handwritten form. Yes, indeed, it is time for the writer's faithful standby: the twenty year-old typewriter! (electric, thank goodness!) I just hope there is some correcting ribbon in it or else I'll be henpecking to make sure there are no mistakes in the application!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

What a response time

I sent the query to 2 agents last night. Within one hour, I had a rejection! I can't help but wonder: was it an automated response because the agent has too many manuscripts under consideration/in her slush pile, or did she actually read the query? On a Saturday night?

Maybe she enjoys curling up and reading submissions during her off time. I don't know. It was rather disheartening to get a rejection THAT quickly. A day later would have made me feel better.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Query Away

I just sent out the first query of the more step towards keeping my resolutions! (For the record, I am in week 3 of the exercise routine, two more chapters have been written on Troll Quest, and Sir Jordan is almost finished with his adventure in Libraria!)

While I know the agent does not expect exclusive submissions (automated response email said so), do I send out a bunch of the same query, or do I send it, wait a few days, send it, wait a few days, etc. I feel strange with the whole "mass email" method of queries, but I also don't want to twiddle my thumbs in between possible requests for more or rejections. Decisions, decisions, decisions. I think I'll work with the trolls while trying to decide!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Bullies, Books, and Marvelous Role Models

When a child loves a book and wants to read it to the exclusion of everything else, why do bullies have to make them think there is something "wrong" with them liking that book? So what if the book has unicorns. These are not ordinary, sweet, loving, flowery creatures. They are tough, sometimes murderous, sneaky and hunted beings in a battle of good versus evil with some strange creatures, magic, and a few ordinary humans thrown in! So why shouldn't a sixth grade boy enjoy the adventure and the battles? Why didn't the teacher stop the bullying IMMEDIATELY as it began in front of her?

With that being said, I would like to remind myself that I want to be like Bruce Coville should I ever be lucky enough to have fans who read my books. I want to personally respond to them on my website's guest book and make them feel ten-feet tall when I do. I want to make sure all of my fans know to be true to themselves and to ignore the ignorant and clueless who try to make them feel bad. He is my role model for what he wrote to my son today. Thank you, Mr. Coville.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Meeting your resolutions!

So far, so good! I have exercised for the last seven mornings. This is not going to stop anytime soon! (Saturday will be a day off from the elliptical...I'm rollerskating with Girl Scouts) It's great to exercise with my son. He is planning out a story and running his plot and character ideas by me as he rides the bike and I'm on the elliptical. So far, there's an eccentric inventor who makes things already invented, accidentally opens a portal to the future with one invention, his nephew gets sucked into the future, and no one knows what happened/how to get him back. The future is very, very interesting!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Woe is Me

I have really enjoyed the time off from the library...I have worked on my short chapter book (it's almost finished!), revised part of Fortune's Gift thanks to some very insightful comments from my critique groups (who are angels for reading such a rough draft of a novel!), and the house is clean (mostly...I don't count the kids' rooms). I've used the new elliptical every day since we got it, too!

Too bad I can't send the children back to school and stay home a few more days on my own! It's going to be very cold at school tomorrow: they turn the heat into the 50s for a long break, and when they turn it up tomorrow morning it's only going to be 18 degrees outside! It will take a long while to get the heat up to par. Brrrrrrr.

Saturday, January 2, 2010


I meant to post this yesterday, but I was busy writing Sir Jordan and the Treasure of Libraria. I am almost finished with that short chapter book for a great young man. (And finishing it this weekend is part of my resolutions!)

This year, I resolve to:
1. Get very busy at finding representation for J.T. Middleton, Time Traveler.
2. Lose the 20 pounds the doctor has told me to lose.
3. Finish the unfinished projects: Sir Jordan and the Treasure of Libraria, Troll Quest, Fortune's Gift.
Decide what to do with my adult suspense novel, The Curse of Josiah's Orchard.


Kidlit Contest

As part of my New Year's Resolution, I am going to do whatever I can to get J.T. Middleton represented by an agent! This contest is one of the things I'll be entering the novel in.