Friday, July 23, 2010

Mentor book and retreat ideas

Just started reading The Writer's Portable Mentor by Priscilla Long. I think this is one of those life-changing writer's books, so I'm going to knock out a plug for it. I'll honestly admit that I haven't actually read the whole book yet. I just started it, but I'm very excited to have started it. I'm very thankful for the writers who have gone before so we don't have to muddle through quite as many problems as we otherwise would.

Also want to remind the group about collecting activity ideas for our upcoming retreat. Here are three:

1. Rewrite a fairy tale or fable from the villain's POV.
2. Draw a first line out of a hat and write for ten minutes straight, then read what you come up with. (No critiques allowed. This is just for the sake of inspiring creativity.)
3. Round robin stories. (We did this last time and laughed hysterically at the results, remember?)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Make room for life so you can write real

I got so busy this summer that I would spend hours and hours over the computer keyboard researching markets, blogging, facebooking, and writing. But at the end of the day, it was like waking up from a fog. What had happened during the day? I felt that, except for brief glimpses, I had missed my kids and everything that was going on in real time.

Then recently I read Rachelle Gardners's July 6th post, and it was a wake-up call. You need to live life and not just write about it. You have to get out there and do things. It's okay. Even if and especially if you're a writer, you have permission to live.

Someone recently told me that all successful writers had to be workaholics to become successful. This freely voiced opinion, spoken by a non-writing accountant, was based on experience that to get ahead in business, you had to be willing to set aside family, friends, and life in order to inject massive amounts of your daily time into whatever occupation you desire to succeed in.

At first I was irritated by this view point, but later I was simply amused. Not being a writer, this person didn't understand some simple truths of the writing lifestyle. You have to live life in some capacity in order to write about it. The human connection is as important to a writer as water is to a fish. If you don't immerse yourself in life on some level and continually connect with people and the world around you, there won't be a realness to your writing.

Perhaps an accountant can sit in front of a computer screen for 13 hours a day, but a writer cannot. Not and be able to produce the kind of writing she has to for her readers. This is why it's a good choice not to quit your day job as a writer. Your job provides interaction with life that allows you to write real.

So don't buy into the workaholic mentality. A writer needs to write daily and consistently, no doubt, but not 24/7. The nature of writing requires an ebb and flow like the tides of the ocean. It must come in; it must go out. Like breathing.

So take a deep breath today. And live. And then write about it. Write real.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Taking in the Sights

When you want to be a writer you never go on vacation. Did that sound right? Let me try again. Yes, take the vacation. Relax, play, and have fun. But don't forget to etch into your memory the sights and smells of your surroundings.

I recently returned from a week long trip to Virginia. I had a great time with a dear friend that moved there a year ago. As I was contemplating what to write today, it hit me. While there I witnessed the view of the Potomac River from the back porch of George Washington's home in Mount Vernon, walked the path of the Civil War battlefield in Fredricksburg, and saw a home still standing (with bullet holes to prove it) after the same battle.

Traveling cannot only be enjoyable, but taking in the sights can arm you with new ammunition for stories you were meant to tell. After my trip I am better qualified to write about Virginia, Mount Vernon, the Civil War, and other numerous sights I took in on my adventures.

Just some food for thought. Nothing new or profound. More anticipation and adventure can be added to your next vacation when you think of it as an opportunity to tell a story through the windows of your eyes.

Pictures- The only original remaining wall the confederates built during the Civil War, Innis House on the walk of the Fredricksburg battlefield, the front of Mount Vernon. (very upset that I did not take the view from George's back porch)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Letting my hair down

A couple of weeks ago I was accepted by to be a Children's Literature Examiner. I've discovered it's very different from writing a blog, which is what I was expecting it to be like. Because of this, it's been a real relief to let my hair down here for a change. For example, here I can use the words "I" and "me." I can have an opinion, and I don't have to put a picture with my article, although I decided to just for fun. But please note that the picture doesn't have beans to do with what I'm writing. I just added it because I liked it.
So this blog is dedicated to the lazy days of summer in which you don't have to do anything to please anyone. It's also an anti-inner editor post, since it's so hard to get away from that gal sitting on my shoulder telling me I didn't get it right this time and should go back and fix it.
If you'd like to find the local news in children's literature or find out what's great to read for kids, check out my posts on, but if you want to see the real me, you've come to the right place.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Christine's busy, so I'm taking her slot

Actually, I just have to get this off my chest in the form that I'm allowed to do on a blog.


You may be wondering what that means. Essentially, it's the frustration of several things which I will outline calmly below:

• Working in Photoshop on an image. Since I'm better at InDesign for books and a little rusty on the Photoshop skills which are required for this project, thus the above ejaculation. I'm taking Photoshop for Dummies and calling no one in the morning.

• Veggie Tales disc stuck in my CD/DVD drive so that it refused to boot up while I'm under a design deadline on a project for which my Photoshop skills are rusty.

• I've spent hours researching and writing Examiner articles and trying to figure out which photos I can use, but unfortunately it only pays a mere pittance until I have a MUCH bigger following. (I'm not sure if it's worse that I'm being paid a pittance, or that normally I don't get paid at all for hours of writing.)

• I've spent so much time doing all these other things and trying to research agents and publishers that I HAVE NO TIME TO ACTUALLY WRITE!!!!! I hate that part.

I think I'm done now. I don't feel better for venting, but I'm sure I will after a good night's sleep and a large dose of chocolate.

Monday, July 5, 2010

All for One and One for All!

I'd like to take this opportunity to say that I really love my writing group. Let me count the ways:
  1. They point out what's good in the writing of the other members
  2. They are honest about what needs work
  3. They always give helpful suggestions along with their criticism
  4. They help me identify blindspots I have toward my own manuscripts
  5. Each one has a unique and special voice that I can't wait to hear each time we meet
  6. They are serious about becoming professional writers
  7. They're inspiring and creative
  8. They're the nicest gals!

So this post is just for you, Last Draft Writing Group. You are each precious and special, and I'm so thankful to not only be a part of your group, but to get to be your friend. You're great! Hope you had a great 4th of July!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Book Clubs

We had our first summer book club meeting last Monday. Eight ladies gathered to discuss the novel we had, or had not voted on. Sharing the journey we'd escaped our homes, our lives, our families, into the same imaginary world.

One of the first things one of the ladies said as we formed our circle was, "I don't see how we can fill up even 10 minutes discussing this book." Most of us laughed heartily in agreement, discovering quickly that no one present was going to add this novel to their list of favorites.

We laughed, we listened, we discussed. It was an enjoyable evening. In closing we went around the room giving a brief synopsis of our book-reading experience as well as a rating 1-10. This was my favorite part.

In the end, (even though some of us rated as low as 2) each seemed to gleam something positive from it's pages. It was a good experience, a memorable one. We shared thoughts and feelings and uncovered interested, and involved, listeners.