Wednesday, April 13, 2011

J is for Juggling

I'm in the midst of a crazy week, which is why I've titled today's (rather yesterday's) post, Juggling. Though I keep my posts here short, writing one everyday is definetely a challenge. I also contribute to another blog, Paper Hangover, and today was my turn to post. I'm getting ready for a 7 hour road trip to Buffalo to visit family. I do like road trips, butI'm not really looking forward to this one since my three little ones will be accompanying me. The line "Are we there yet?" wasn't made up out of thin air, and I know my 7 hour drive will feel more like 17 hours by the time it's all done! I'm just hoping they take an hour or two nap.

Between oil changes, new brakes, hair cuts, blog posts, and an SCBWI class in NYC, I haven't had much time to work on my manuscript. Not to mention that I have my son's Spring party at school (did I mention I'm the class parent) on Friday right before I get on the road.

My middle son has a birthday party, for a school friend, tomorrow afternoon. I still haven't packed, and I have 6 loads of laundry to get to. But I'm not complaining - REALLY. I wouldn't trade my chaos for a dull life any day. I just wish I had more energy!

Next week many schools are on vacation for Passover and Easter. Do you have any exciting vacation plans?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I is for Inciting Incident

Since I began writing, I've started and stopped several manuscripts. One thing these manuscripts have in common (besides not being very good) is that none of them have an inciting event or catalyst. I didn't know such a thing existed or was necessary when in the early stages of my writing.

I didn't notice this inciting event happening, when I read. Of course now I understand the significance of setting up the everyday world of my main character before changing everything. And when I read now, I am conscious of that exact moment when things change.

Some people believe the inciting event shouldn't happen any later than the end of the first chapter. Others give until the end of the third chapter. When I'm reading I don't mind as long as the story is engaging and the prose moves quickly. When I'm writing, I struggle to find the right spot to cross from normal life to different.

What is the furthest into a story you've ever written an inciting event?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

H is for Home

I'm a day late with "H" because I had the hardest time figuring out what to write about. Well here is my attempt at "H" and since I'm working at the library right now and I have reading and writing to get to, I'll make this short.

Home is where the heart is, blah, blah, blah. Home is where the chaos is. Home is where I write, well of course it is. I don't have a writing office, after all, who does? My point is that I live in small quarters and I share the space with another adult and three little children, aka: my family. My writing space, you ask? My dining room table. The dining room chair is my seat and since this set-up is designed to eat, not write, my wrists often hurt. And even though there are five other chairs at the table my 3 year old insists on sitting on my lap while I'm at the table.

Productivity? What's that? Add this to my normal internet distractions and I can easily make excuses for my slow word count.

How about you? Where do you write? Do you think your writing space contributes to your productivity or hinders it?

Friday, April 8, 2011

G is for Genre

       I've been writing for most of my life, but only seriously for the past two years. Part of the reason it took so long to get serious was because I couldn't decide what to write or what genre to write in. My problem stemmed from the fact that I read across so many genres. I love historical, fantasy, dystopian, realistic, romance, light sci-fi, memoirs, biographies, and I'm sure I left some out, but you get the point.

      With so much to choose from, not to mention picture books, how was I supposed to know where to start? I dabbled in a few genres, but nothing felt right. Then one day I started a realistic contemporary YA manuscript (that I never finished) but it all suddenly made sense and I knew I had found my age group and my genre. Don't get me wrong, I believe that one day I may still write something outside my genre (I have so many ideas, one of these days, one of them is bound to permeate my imagination).

      For now this is it - me and young adult realism. For better or for worse. Hopefully for better.

      What about you? How did you decide your genre and age group?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

F is for Friday Five (and Flu)

I'm going to cheat a bit with "F" and I can do that because it's my blog. Let me explain. Right now "F" is for Flu, because for the second time this year I have it. You didn't read that wrong - 2nd time!  Due to my current state I'm slightly less enthusiastic about sitting at the computer, which is why I'm going to combine posts and use "F" to satisfy my A to Z goal as well as participate in Friday Five for the the group blog, Paper Hangover, I contribute to.

Don't forget to link your blog post on the Paper Hangover site and we'll all check it out.

Without further ado...

Friday Five prompt: The Five things you wish you'd known before you became a writer...

In no particular order:

1. If you have an idea and don't know how to make a story out of it, start asking yourself questions to flesh the story out. The good old classic who, what, where, when, and how is a good start to learning more about your idea.

2. Characters are vital. An idea will only get you so far, but fully developed, well thought out characters drive a story. Do this by studying people. Their movement, behavior, manorisms can become your characters'.

3. Become a member of Verla Kay's Blueboard. The wealth of information there is invaluable as is the community of writers. Writing is lonely, you should try to surround yourself with people who who share your passion.

4. Read, read, read!!! (Write, write, write!)

5.Pay attention during English class when you are working on vocabulary and grammar. These are two powerful tools you'll need in your toolbox, and it's more work having to learn it when all you really want to do is focus on creativity, not the structure of a sentence, which doesn't come naturally because you weren't paying attention.

I seriously could go on, but I'll stick to the rules (even if I did technically combine more than one piece of advice into some of the five).

E is for Efficiency

       As a follow-up to my distraction post, I hope to make my time more efficient. I am a lists and charts type of person and I try to be as organized as possible. But more often than not, my life is chaotic. I have three kids under the age of six and many responsibilities (no more so than any other mom) but unlike my non-writer friends I have this responsibility to myself to write.
       With this said, I must find a way to organize my life to balance my children, house, and writing, without letting distractions take over. I've often thought about turning the internet off using one of those websites like Freedom that disconnects service for said amount of time, forcing you to be productive. I just don't know if this will work, after all there are ways around it - I have an iPhone. Not to mention my obsession with reading, which doesn't require an internet connection and can be ALL CONSUMING. Help!

        What are some of your distraction avoiding techniques?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

D is for Distraction

I love to write!
I love to create stories, situations, scenes (the alliteration is coincidental) charcters, I could go on and on. But for some reason, and I know I am not alone, I am easily distracted by a million and one other things. My blogs, editor blogs, agent blogs, author blogs, Twitter, the Blueboard, email...oh especially email. I don't know what I think I am expecting because I must check it like thirty times a day, no exaggeration.
What is it that forces us (and when I say us I really mean me) to do everything but what we really want to do. Some people say it's fear, I don't know that I buy that. Sometimes I think I'm being lazy. I've often thought that it would be really cool if someone would create a device that "magically" processes your creative thoughts without you having to do any of the actual work. Like if I have a thought about a scene, I've plotted it in my head, and then I've plotted the next scene and the scene after that, this device just gets it all down for me. Poof! Instant novel.
             But no, I have to sit down and flesh those scenes out. Give them description, dialogue (more alliteration) action, and so on. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy that process. I don't know what my problem is. Maybe it is fear. Fear that what I've created in my head won't make it to the page in the way I hoped or intended. But I preserve, and I manage to get some creativity in amongst my procrastination.

Do you procrastinate? How so?

Monday, April 4, 2011

C is for Character

Or chicken. That is, in the old which came first debate, the chicken or the egg?
There is so much talk amongst writers about which comes first in their own writing. Is it the character or the plot? Many say the best stories are character driven, the literary type. Others say the best kind are those with high concept plot and great characters. Sure that seems easy enough. I happen to be the chicken came first type of gal and tend to start with plot. I ask all of the same writerly questions like “what if,” and “why” when elaborating on my plot and creating characters who fit into my story. I just do it in a slightly different way. But I know I am in the minority, and that’s okay – I like being different. 

How about you? Which do you start with?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

B is for Books

Writer's Library:

Some of you may know that reading books about writing is part of how I learn how to be a better writer. With that in mind, today’s post focuses on some of the writing books in my library.

On Writing by Steven King -  4 out of 5 stars
Biographies, Autobiographies, and memoirs are among my favorite genres. This book combines memoir with craft all in King’s signature style.

Writing Great Books for Young Adults by Regina Brooks – 4 out of 5 stars
Offers great techniques and insight into plot and character.

Writing Fiction for Dummies -  2 out of 5 stars
This book is geared for the beginning writer.

Writing and Selling the Young Adult Novel by K L Going - read too long ago to rate.

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott on the shelf. Haven't read yet.

Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass on the shelf. Haven't read yet.

Friday, April 1, 2011

A is for Author

A to Z Challenge                           So today is April 1st, well since I'm writing this post at 10:25pm, it's almost April 2nd. Better late than never. The A to Z Challenge has begun and for everyday in April (excluding Sundays) my posts will begin with each letter of the alphabet. They will most likely be brief and since I’m a writer and avid reader, they will be Reading and Writing themed.
I’ll start with A is for Author. Growing up my favorite author was Lois Lowry who wrote the Anastasia Krupnick  books. My best friend would read one and then pass it on to me. It was a love we shared and it was my first experience as a reader. Today my experiences have broadened and since I am a children’s librarian I have too many favorite authors to choose only one. I will say that Chris Van Allsburg is my favorite picture book author. His eccentric, out-of-the-box style has a special place in my heart and my imagination. His stories leave you thinking and spark those writerly questions like “what if” and “why?”
As for my favorite Middle Grade and YA authors… I don’t think I’ll ever be able to commit to just one. Who are your favorite authors?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Flash Fiction Friday #3

This is Flash Fiction Friday #3 over at my group blog Paper Hangover.

Here's the way it works: Each week you're given a writing prompt that is meant to get your creative juices flowing and help you stretch those typing muscles. It's meant to be fun, no pressure. If you participate,link your post in the comments section at Paper Hangover and then we'll pop over and give it a read.

This week's topic:

"In 300 words or less, write a story that begins with "It's not you, it's me..."

“It’s not you, it’s me, Max.” I say as I rub his back. “I knew this wasn’t going to work from the beginning, but Suzy couldn’t stop gushing about how cute you were, I just had to see for myself.” I start to back away. I can’t risk standing this close for too long. 
“Of course she was right, but our relationship has become unbearable, really. You have to know that, or at least sense something is wrong. I just can’t handle being around you anymore. When I see you my eyes start to water, my breaths become short and quick, my heart races. It’s just not healthy. And no matter how much medication I take, it just doesn’t help.” My hand is on the doorknob, poised to dash out the front door if necessary.  
“Please don’t look at me like that. You’ll find someone else, I promise. Someone who can appreciate you, and love you the way you deserve to be loved.”
“Meredith it’s time,” the woman from the agency says.  
“Please don’t cry,” I say to Max as the woman closes in on him. “You’ll be happy I promise.”
“You know if we can’t find a home for him, he’s going to be put down?” she says.
My eyes dart from the woman to Max, and then I rush back over to him. He jumps up on me, licking my face, wagging his tail, and I melt all over again.
“Okay Max you win. Medication for life it is,” I say just before the sneezing fit starts. 
The woman huffs. “We won’t need your services after all,” I say to her. “You can let yourself out.”  

Hope you liked it! Give it a try next week.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What’s Up?

           I had intentions of posting more regularly but you know what they say about good intentions. I have been staying busy working on my March Madness goals, though I haven’t checked-in once at the blog, where I first announced my goals. I’ve also written a couple of posts over at the blog I contribute to: Paper Hangover, if you don’t already follow that blog you should, it is a great source of information.
I’ve also attended another SCBWI class furthering my writer’s education and I’m also reading several new writer’s books in that same pursuit. I hope to purchase Cheryl Klein’s new book, I admire her so much and have read many of her speeches - she is very impressive. The next step in my education is to attend a conference, and I’ve been struggling to decide which conference is worth the money and effort it’ll take to go. I can’t think about it anymore! Please help. A couple of my choices are the NJ SCBWI annual conference in June and the LA SCBWI conference in August, if anyone has any insight or advice on either of these events please let me know. Another choice is a writer’s retreat facilitated by Cheryl Klein in Virginia in June, though this is less an option at this point because my novel isn’t finished yet and that is a prerequisite to the retreat.
On a final note, I looked into Vermont College’s MFA program, and remembered why I’m on my own in my writing endeavor. The TUITION! I’d have to sell at least three manuscripts before I repaid the debt I would undoubtedly accrue. But the program does sound totally cool. Maybe one day.
Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

March Madness

Growing up I always hated the month of March, it seemed to go on forever. Of course March is no longer than any other month with 31 days, but what makes March different is that it has no holidays, no days off, no fun. It’s still cold and the days are still short and nights still long. Why am I babbling on about the depressing month of March (I apologize if I’m offending anyone who happens to love March)? In order to avert any funkiness I may experience during March I plan on participating in March Madness hosted by blogger and author Denise Jaden.
My goal for March Madness is to revise 30 or so pages of my current WIP in addition to reading at least 6 books (I’m hoping to kill 2 birds with 1 stone and have one of those 6 books be a debut, for my other challenge). I hope to exceed my goal, but would be happy with completing what I set out to do.
March should turn out to be a good month, with lots of accomplishments. On that note I have writing, revising, and reading to do.
Until next time!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

2011 Debut Author Challenge

As you know, I read YA books as part of my writer’s training. With that in mind, I decided to participate in Story Siren’s 2011 Debut Author Challenge. The challenge requires participants to read and review at least 12 books by debut YA or MG authors during 2011. This is an exciting way to create interest in new authors and get the word out about their work. The deadline to sign-up for the challenge is March 1st, so go on over to Story Siren’s site and check it out for yourself and while you’re there join the challenge.
Happy Reading!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Hello World!

Since this is my first post I’d like to start by saying, “Hello, and thank you,” in advance to anyone who stops by. I hope to post a few times a week, so stay tuned for the interesting things I’m bound to write. Ha ha!
As you can see from my profile I am an “author-in-training.”  Attending an MFA program, though much desired, is completely unrealistic. With three young children, one work-aholic husband, a house to take care of, a part-time job as a children’s librarian, I am left with little time and no money, thus I teach myself about the art of writing.
How do you do that, you ask?
Well I’ll start with the most awesome place ever for learning, and asking questions about writing: Verla Kay’s Message Board aka: the Blueboard.  I would still be writing the wrong way if it weren’t for the great folks there. Other places on the internet are invaluable as well, places like Kidlit, Editorial anonymous, Dear Editor, just to name a few.
I also read books on writing. Steven King’s On Writing is terrific. As are many other writing books on my bookshelf, and on my Kindle, and on my nightstand, and in my car, you get the point.  I also read fiction books as a teaching tool.
You’re reading for pleasure and calling it educational, you say?
 So far this year I’ve read over a dozen YA books, and reading as a writer can teach you so much. What do other writers do that work? What doesn’t work? I learn things about tension, character, voice, plot, all from reading fiction - something I already enjoy doing.
Another way I teach myself is by attending seminars. The SCBWI offer so many classes on a wide variety of subjects, and across the spectrum of a writer’s career. From the writer who is still working on the first draft to the published author who needs help figuring out how to book school visits, and for all the writers in-between. I hope to fill my blog pages with some of the valuable information I learn at these classes.
I think I’ve said enough for now. I have to go work on my YA manuscript.
Until next time!