Posts Tagged ‘writing’

catching fire, writing odds and ends…necessarily in that order

Monday, September 21st, 2009

Whew! That was a long title, my goodness. Let me take a breath…

‘kay.

catching fire

catchingfire

On my fifteen last Friday I mentioned that I read Catching Fire. That wasn’t a lie. I did, and I loved it. It left me hanging more than The Hunger Games did, so now I’m angry  with Suzanne Collins until the next book comes out. BTW, READ THIS BOOK. But make sure you read The Hunger Games first, of course.

writing stuff

This is really cool – MIT’s (that’s Massachusetts Institute of Technology) FREE online writing course. No grades, but you get the syllabus, assignments and course materials (downloadable).

This is where I got that link. There are also free courses offered by Purdue University, UCLA, and the University of Utah to name a handful (minus two fingers).

I learned a lot about writing this weekend thanks to my pal Jenny Martin. She is the librarian who guest blogged for me last week, remember? I learned that one of those courses mentioned above would be a great idea for me. Passive voice, who knew! (It seems like everyone I know knew. ugh.) Also, this one space between sentences is going to take some getting used to. It was the only thing that stuck from 7th grade typing class.  There!  I did it again. oy.

guest blogger: jenny martin, librarian extrodinaire

Monday, September 14th, 2009

bookstack2When Jen asked me to post about advice I’ve gleaned from writers’ groups, I wasn’t sure what suggestions to give. After all, as a writer, I’m a novice. I have zero expertise to offer on the mechanics of writing.

But I am a librarian. As such, it’s my job to read widely and well. I’d like to think I’m acquainted with the transaction between reader and book. Perhaps an examination of this exchange could be helpful. After mulling over the helpful hints offered at AQ and writer’s workshop, I’m struck by a single question.

What happens when I read a good story?

Reading is an interactive experience, an emotional communion between the reader and the tale. If a story reaches me, touching my intellect and psyche in a meaningful way, I consume the story.

Or does the story consume me?

After reading a really good book, I absorb the emotional core of the plot and carry it with me. Although I may never read it again, it never leaves my subconscious. Like a talisman, I examine the tale each time I devour something new. I compare its characters, its setting and its message against those inside the novel in my hands.

A good story haunts the outposts of the soul.

If this is true, what implications does it have for the writer?

Simply put, if the writer’s setting, characters, themes and plot do not spark an emotional connection, the story dies. It is not carried on, it is not absorbed, and it does not take root in the consciousness of the reader. The story slips away, a vapor. It’s lost.

If your story is does not yet live in the heart of its reader, do not lose faith. Return to your characters. Reach inside of them and extract the essence of that which makes them real and vibrant. Close your eyes and experience the story through their eyes. Transfigure this experience until it fits comfortably on the page.

Then, with any luck, your story will either break the reader’s heart or heal it.

About the blogger:

Jenny Martin is a school librarian in the DFW area. She holds a Masters Degree in Library Science from the University of North Texas. She also reviews books and writes YA.

blogman award!

Monday, September 14th, 2009

blogman

This is my first ever Blog award!  Jim Harrington posted it to me (and four others) on his blog last Friday.

Apparently, “It’s the result of a discussion about what the acronym BLOG stands for, and the creative responses to the question.”

As always there are rules to follow:

  1. Tell us your favorite superhero and why
  2. Copy the badge and post it to your blog
  3. Present the badge to five other worthy bloggers
  4. Post links to five people you nominate
  5. Comment on their pages to let them know they have been nominated

I bet you’re dying to know who my favorite super hero is.  Honestly, I’ve never really thought all that hard about who that might be.  Spiderman pops to mind first since he and I share a last name, but I don’t really care for spiders.  My husband mentioned Mal from Firefly, and if he had super powers I would definitely choose him.

I went on twitter for help with ideas.  First there was Mystic, then Catwoman…both villains.  Then the ideas got vague.  I like the idea of Stargirl, a petulant teen who eventually  shows growth, and since I’m a YA girl…I’m going with her.

And the nominees are:

Natalie @ Between Fact and Fiction

Danae @ Works In Progress

Martin @ F.O.R.C.E.

Amy @ amy sue nathan writer-editor-single mom

Debra @ Write on Target

punky mcpunkerton

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

If anyone has a specific question about writing queries, ask away and I’ll point you in the right direction…but for now I’m a little tired of the subject.  Yes, I know that I said that this week would be devoted to queries, but it’s my blog.  Most of the week was about queries anyway.

I ran across this link on Twitter.  It’s about the different sorts of “fill-in-the-blank punk” types there are.  How can there be so many sub-genres in a sub-genre?  It’s all speculative fiction anyway, right?  Why is it necessary to divide it up into so many pieces?  On the glass half full side, the article made for some pretty funny comments such as striker7770 who said, “you cant just take books and add punk to that, or else we would be living in earthpunk eating baconpunk while reading twlightpunk”.

Well said striker…well said.

On a completely unrelated note I’m a little freaked out right now that I’m enjoying a Jonas Bros. song on the Disney channel. **shuddering**

again with the queries?

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

Love_Question_Mark_by_wantu2nowhoiam

yes. again.

If you read this blog because you are a newish writer, like myself, then this post is for you.  If you’ve been querying endlessly and never seem to get a bite, this post is for you as well.  If you are super-awesome queryman/woman then read this anyway and add your helpful comments.  The topic of queries will be on-going throughout the week and the more info available, the better.

A Twitter friend and I were jabbering about the difficulty of condensing her 90,000+ word novel into two hundred much-too-short, must-be-stunning words.  The conversation eventually devolved to us writing “Dear Agent” letters–what is in on the surface of our hearts or pretty much for me, what I thought was funny.

7:56 PM Me: dear agent, please read my novel..at least ask for a partial so i wont cry myself to sleep. thank you.
p.s. you don’t have to read it really. just pretend.

7:57 PM My Twitter Friend: Dear Agent, You will be blessed with good luck and be able to sleep with a clear conscious if you read my novel. P.S. Ignore the stalker type chick following you. Really…she won’t hurt you.

7:59 PM Me: dear agent, my husband wants me to get a real job. help!

My Twitter Friend: Dear Agent, Don’t you want the warm fuzzy feeling that comes with helping someone like me?
MTF is so sweet, isn’t she?  Of course an agent would be appalled by these appeals.
***********
K, back to business.

Excellent Links –-

Written by agents (these are the people who actually read the queries, so it’s a good idea to listen to what they have to say):

Rants & Ramblings On Life as a Literary Agent by Rachelle Gardner

Nathan Bransford – Literary Agent

If you learn better by seeing actual query letters torn apart by an agent try: Query Shark by Janet Reid

More visual learning can be found at Upstart Crow’s site

Query basics from QueryTracker.net

These are the best I’ve found.  What have you seen?



fifteen for friday

Friday, September 4th, 2009

flu-like symptoms and super tweet edition

1. Ah, fever…chills how I hate thee.

2. What Ann Curry tweeted earlier: Here we go. Last week of August flu cases rose sharply. H1N1 is believed to be most of those cases. Wash your hands.”

3. Been working on my query all day for  this contest…

4. Another embarrassing video.  I love to humiliate myself…why?

5. Thanks to Jolyn Palliata for letting me beta read her awesome novel, Amber Eyes…watch out for this one.

6. Um, Danae (pronounced Dani) Ayusso is one of the most interesting people I have ever “met”.  She can write 10,000 words, send out 75 query letters–twitter and email all in ONE day…not kidding.  And she just got a request for a full!  Way to go Danae!

7. @johannaharness wants everyone to take a pic of their workspaces and tweet to #amwriting, she was so nice to say something positive about mine.

8. Am I trying to be the queen of links?  No, but you can call me the princess if you want.

9. OMK (kittens) I haven’t read a published book all week…weird.

10. Gonna remedy that with my 40% off coupon to Borders!

11. Not adding pics today…so sorry.

12. My oldest caught the video bug and started filming a 6 min. video for each of our pets.  They are surprisingly funny.

13. The animals aren’t as funny as my son’s comments.

14. What I want to read ASAP: The Hunger Games

15. Comment people–I get lonely. :)

fifteen for friday 8/28/09

Friday, August 28th, 2009

Here it is!  The much awaited return of fifteen for friday!

first day of school09 0021.  School is in.

first day of school09 0042.  Yesterday I noticed three blooms on my flower.  Normally it only has two, and when I see another about to bloom I know that one flower will fall off before it gets a chance to open.  This is the first time there have been three blooms all at once actually attached to the plant.  I was pondering the reason why this made me so happy.  It has to be that it was unexpected and it involved a pretty lilac colored flower that has a perfect yellow circle in the middle.

3.  A BIG thank you to Jodi, Coy and Amy this week for reading and giving me invaluable feedback.  You guys are great!!!

4. Fun site of the week - www.mentalfloss.com

5.  As You Wish came out this week.  Don’t forget to pick up a copy.

6.  Finally read Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen.  I’m noticing that I like her books almost in copyright date order, favorites being the newest.  In other words, I really didn’t like Keeping the Moon so much.  But I’m looking forward to Along for the Ride, the only one I haven’t read yet and her newest.

first day of school09 0067.  The forget-me-nots have grown, but why aren’t they flowering?

8.  I feel like I’m forgetting something.

9.  Good Girls by Laura Ruby –Wow, very modern.  I guess kids these days are having to deal with the issues covered in this book–everything you do can be photographed and sent to everyone you know–yikes.

10.  the sweet, terrible, glorious year i truly, completely lost it by Lisa Shanahan–I really liked this book especially following the heaviness of Good Girls…not that the sweet… isn’t heavy in its own way.  But it has a lot of very funny moments and some outrageous ones.  Gemma’s older sister is getting married and decides her theme will be animals who mate for life.  Sis dresses Gemma up as a SWAN for her flower girl outfit.  The story is set in Australia and has a few quirky words and phrases, but it’s all very followable.  I was a little confused about “the tip” which I could only surmise was a piece of undesirable land that smelled awful.

11.  Girl in Development by Jordan Roter made me realize that the way I tend to write (casual writing, mind you) in “valley girl” may not be the best idea.  Yeah, it’s cute for a little while, but it’s looking more and more immature when I read it from someone else.  I was excited about this book and picked it up because of the blurbs on the back.  It was an okay read.

12.  The three books I picked up at the library all had a copyright date of 2006.  Is that weird or what?

13.  When will I wise up and make it FIVE for Friday?

14.  Random thought (I told you this might happen…no, I did…back in the beginning) is dim sum the same thing as dumplings and pot stickers?  I could look that up, I know…just killing numbers here.

15.  Could someone please please publish me please?! Thanks.

emerson said it best

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

CLOUDSDear to us are those who love us… but dearer are those who reject us as unworthy, for they add another life; they build a heaven before us whereof we had not dreamed, and thereby supply to us new powers out of the recesses of the spirit, and urge us to new and unattempted performances.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

I’m not sure I find the people who send me rejection letters “dear” but I do think they make me want to try harder and be better.  Here’s an excerpt from my latest rejection regarding my short story:

Thank you for submitting “In Desert Found” to (name removed). It was well received here, but after some thought we have decided not to accept it for publication.

There is a lot of potential for emotional response from the reader in this story idea.

The beginning starts too slowly and lacks conflict to hold attention. Consequently I did not sympathize with Kaylee. Internal monologue would help understand her feelings.

I hope you’ll consider us again, and I wish you the best success in placing this story elsewhere.


I love it!  My very first non-form rejection!  Notice the change in font indicating the move from form to non-form, isn’t it bee-utiful?  Okay, okay it really sucks that they didn’t like the story and yes I am a little embarrassed to share my lack of skills–but it just felt like the thing to do.  And now that I’m done lamenting the rejection I’ve been urged to a new and unattempted performance…aka more editing!

oh yeah i did

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

interviewer & ee

The self-interview is a rare occurrence.  If thought through fully, one would hardly see the benefit of asking one’s self questions and then answering them…oneself.  Half the stuff I get done wouldn’t if I thought things through fully, (and I don’t get all that much done, kids) so, anyway…what was my point?  Oh yes, instead of waiting to become published and then, of course, famous for my ah-mahzing skillz, or instead of waiting to receive a “25 random things about me” note on Facebook–I’m going ahead and giving myself the third degree.  Just so you know, I’m no pushover interviewer.  Tough questions will be asked, we’ll just have to wait and see if they are answered.  I skipped all the hellos and how-de-doos and included only the meat of the interview:

Q:  I see that you’ve been posting on your blog a lot less lately.  Is there a reason for this?

A:  Not a good one.

Q:  Right.  K.  Your public has noticed that you can’t seem to keep your blog on one subject or another…one day it’s about your kids, the next about some writerly thing.  Why is this?

A:  My kids aren’t loony enough to write about every day and I don’t actually know much writer stuff so I just write what I know, ya know?

Q:  How many freakin’ pets do you have anyway?

A:  Wow, that was really out of the blue… ah, wasn’t expecting that one.  Let’s see.  2 dogs (Sam and Lola–and no they were not named after Denise Richard’s children.  That’s just a happy coincidence),  3 cats (Cally, Lil Kat and P.J.), and 2 turtles (Squirty and Toothbrush).  That makes 7 in all.

Q:  Why the heck would you name a pet Toothbrush?

A:  I’m sorry, that’s just a little too personal.

Q:  Moving on then.  Why do you use so very very many ellipses, parentheses, and em dashes?

A:  Why not I always say!  Plus it’s how I talk…gotta get that rhythm right.

Q:  What do you hope to accomplish with this self-interview?

A:  To kill some time.  Ha ha, honestly I’m bored.

Q:  That is so interesting.  Have you ever thought about renting a personality?

A:  It’s way cheaper than buying, that’s for sure.  And then you can try as many out as you want without committing.

Q:  That was an insult.

A:  That wasn’t a question.

Q:  Okay, this interview is over.  I don’t think we’re going to actually find anything out about this person.

A:  That wasn’t a question either.

ahhhhh…. school, glorious school

Monday, August 24th, 2009

BLOGangel The dogs seemed uncharacteristically happy when I came home from dropping the kids off to school this morning.  Lola hopped around wagging her tail and spinning in the only way a barrel tummied, bow-legged, bearded terrier can.  She’d already been fed, watered and let loose in the backyard.  I could only surmise that she knew what day it was.  The start of 7 hours a day, five days a week where the only noises are Sam (my corgi mix) snoring and me punching the keyboard (or doing a little snoring myself–wait, I don’t snore).  So I danced with her for a moment, letting her get her wiggles out and exclaiming that yes, I do know that the kids aren’t here.

This is the first year my daughter actually cared what her hair looked like, “Mommy, can you make my hair so the ends point out like this?” and she swooped her hands away from her head indicating a flip hairdo.  “Yes, sweetie I sure can!”  A good hair drying with a round brush, hairspraying and curling the ends later my daughter looked in the mirror and smiled a giddy smile, “It’s perfect!”

My middle child searched, yes, searched and FOUND(!!!) a belt, which I know within two weeks will be shunned for another five minutes of morning TV.  No messing with hair here, the lady at the hair-cutters unceremoniously shaved it all off a week ago (I could’ve done that for free!)  He checked and rechecked to make sure he had everything he needed.

My oldest was definitely cool about the whole first-day thing.  But I could tell he was ready to go back because he was dressed and had eaten before I even woke up this morning.

When I picked them up after school they talked over each other, mentioning old friends, favorite teachers and some not so favorite ones.  My middle child told me that he will know when his math teacher is having a bad day because he will continually brew and consume coffee during class if this is the case.  The less coffee, the happier the teacher.  We laughed.

I took them to the store to get stuff to make cookies.  We came home and my baby helped me make the dough.  I let them eat more cookies in a row than I think I ever have.  It was that kind of day.