Thursday, December 13, 2007

12 days till Christmas

I can't believe there are only 12 days until Christmas. I've run out of time to get everything done. I wanted to hand make some things but am really having trouble finding the time.

The good news is that my spare time is being used to work on my new YA novel. I'm up to about 6000 words now. That was my goal for this Sunday. I'm writing some really hard, dark chapters right now and am drawing upon my experience with grief and one of a close friend. It's rather cathartic to take that pain and channel it through a character. I'm letting her say everything I still can't.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

1st 5000 words

I've been working on my new YA novel and have just completed the first 5000 words. I haven't written 16 pages in a very long time. I did a middle grade novel about 5 years ago and have been focusing on picture books and short stories.

I'm loving my story and the research that has been going along with it. I've decided that when I finish, I'm going to get a professional critique.

I literally cried through an entire chapter. I've never experienced anything quite like that while writing. It was so bizarre. I could barely see my laptop because of the tears, but my fingers were flying as they told the story. It's something I'll definitely remember.

Friday, December 7, 2007

I've started my YA novel

I can honestly say that I have been writing everyday for about 3 weeks now. I worked on a picture book, a contest entry (my story sucks and needs help), and I began my next book. I'm in the honeymoon phase where I'm completely in love with it.

It's loosely based on a true story. A story I learned about in high school. It's one of those things that always stayed with me and that I wanted to write about.

I'm using my new process of not revising and just writing the story. It's been writing itself. The muse has been active. I love when that happens. It's like someone else is writing the story.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

New Writing Technique

I am the type of writer that will revise Chapter 100 times and not finish the story. It's not working for me. I have so many stories started. I really do want to finish them, but I need to leave Chapter 1 alone and move on.

Here's my new thing. I'm just to keep writing and get the story out. I'm not going to worry about the right word or editing. I've practiced this technique on 2 picture books and it's working. I just write the whole story out, ignoring age of language, word count, etc. I then start revising, editing, trimming.

I've started a YA novel that I've been wanting to write for years. Wish me luck.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Blue Boards

Ok, if you haven't heard or been on the blue boards, aka Verla Kay's website, you must immediately go there. Don't pass Go. I'm addicted to them and wish I had discovered them sooner.

It's an online forum for writers, but agents and editors do pop in to chat. Yes, they are literally blue. The forums have categories by genre, response times for agents, publisher, and magazines, contest, and so much more.

There is a wealth of knowledge about the industry posted by writers in all stages of their careers.

Check out the site at Blue Boards

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio

Netflix delivered an amazingly well written and well acted movie to me today. Julianne Moore portrays Evelyn Ryan a woman from Defiance, Ohio that was quite the contest queen during the 1950's and 1960's. She was the mother of 10 children and used her writing wit to win contests that helped to support her family. I was struck by 2 things: 1) She was an incredible giving and nurturing mother 2) She believed in the dream and had the writing talent to realize those dreams.

It gave me a boost to believe that they only way to win anything (i.e. a book contract) is to put yourself out there and continually work at it. I've been entering little writing contest like the one that Parenting magazine had a couple months back. The topic was the best parenting advice you ever got. After seeing, this movie, I'm going to keep doing that.

It's a touching, fun movie. So add it to your list of must sees.

Sunday, November 4, 2007


If you have not been out to her site, you must navigate there immediately. I found her site through the SCBWI discussion boards and am now a regular fan. She's got an incredible amount of rich content for a new writer. The best part is when she periodically offers free critiques in the forms of contests.

In late Oct., she offered the Academy Award of all contests, the opportunity to get your writing in front of a literary agent from Andrea Brown Literary Agency. Those of you in the children's writing genre know that this agency is one that you would love to have represent you.

She announces the finalists tomorrow and even did a random drawing for a free critique so everyone had a chance.

I submitted 25 pages of a middle grade novel that I'm re-working. If I remember correctly, she received over 200 entries.

Take a look around her site and see what you think.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Getting published in Columbus Dispatch.

Ok, so the Parenting magazine didn't want my article, but the Columbus Dispatch did. Here's the story.

I got the best phone call today. You would have thought I was being nominated for a Pulitzer. The Columbus Dispatch called to tell me that they are publishing my story "The Disgusting Things I find in my Pockets" in this Sat's paper.

After tons of rejections, it feels so awesome to have someone say yes. She even told me that I definitely had a touch. Those were some sweet weirds.

What I learned is :

1) Never, ever give up

2) Keep perfecting and working on your craft

3) Keep putting yourself out there. Enter contests, send queries, keep sending your work out.

I also now have my first item for my writing resume. I now have something more than, member of SCBWI. I will actually have a published work.

There will be an electronic version at Check it out on Saturday

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Saturday, September 1, 2007

Local Parenting Magazine Market

I've written a humorous little story about some of the rather 'interesting' things parents find themselves doing. I submitted it to a parenting magazine, but they didn't think it was right for their magazine. I had decided to save it and wait for a creative non-fiction contest, until I got my newsletter from They suggested sending these kinds of stories to some local parenting magazines. Since my story does reference some local sites, I e-mailed my local parenting magazine and asked for their submission guidelines. I'll have to wait and see what happens.

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Sunday, May 27, 2007

Memorial Day

I don't think we probably take enough time to say thank you to our men and women in the armed forces that are fighting for us every day. I'm sure each one of knows someone in the armed forces: a spouse, a child, a brother, a sister, or friend. They put their lives in harm's way so that we don't have to. I was so moved by a recent episode of Gene Simmons' Family Jewels. They visited a Veteran's Hospital in Long Beach. They spoke with many veterans and I was struck by two of the veteran's comments. One of the was "Freedom isn't Free" and the other one was "I put on the uniform, so that my family doesn't have to". Their patriotism and belief in freedom is inspiring.

Memorial Day is a great time to reflect on those that have served and died for our country. Their burden was heavy and yet they took it on with pride and fortitude.

So, thank you, to all of you in the U.S. armed forces that fight for our freedom and protect us citizens.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Professional Critiques

I got my critque back from the Writers League of Texas manuscript contest. I submitted the 1st 10 pages of my first chapter. It's a YA fiction novel in progress. They've changed the format of their critique and actually provide a score card. The disappointing part is that I didn't score as well as I would have liked. The exciting part is that my reviewer pointed out the exact same items that I needed to work on that my the reviewer from the Ohio conference noted. At least they are unanimous in what I needed to work on. Both of them said that I showed promise and that if I just fixed these few items that I would have a great story.

Things I still struggle with are:

1) Taking the adult out of my younger characters
2) Not really setting the scene
3) Rushing through my story/scenes

Critiques don't hurt my feelings. I am here to learn and am grateful to have my work placed in front of a professional that takes the time to pinpoint those areas in my writing that need work. I'm a student/writer in learning mode.

I have to say that I don't think I really knew where my story was going until I mapped it out and that has helped me tremendously. I will do that from now on.

I thought of going back to fix the first 4 chapters but decided against it. I just finished chapter 5 and have tried to incorporate their feedback. I'm afraid that if I continually go back that I will never finish the book. I have to remind myself that this is my draft and that books are meant to be revised and tweaked before they are submitted.

I remember during one of the WLT meetings that someone asked the question-how do I get off chapter 1? Apparently, that's common for new writers. The answer was to remember books are created as drafts and there will be revisions. Get through your story and finish the book. It's more important to finish the book, then do revisions, then to keep revising Chapter 1 until you're happy with it.

Happy Writing!

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Following the Rules

At a recent conference, I took a class called 'The Business behind getting your book published'. It was taught by Tanya Dean, executive editor at Darby Creek Publishing. There were some items that I thought would be obvious to potential published authors, but here's the low down.

1. Always, always read the publishing house's submission guidelines.
2. Now, always, always follow those guidelines.
3. Know what types of books they are in the business of publishing. Finding the right house to submit your work to is paramount. You want to maximize the chances by sending your work to a house that actually publishes that genre of book.
4. Have a good idea of the recent books that house has put on the market.
5. Do a book search on or (Barnes & Noble) to learn how many other books similar to yours have already been published. One fellow writer indicated that she did the search and found a published book similar to hers, however; it had gotten terrible reviews. She felt she could do better. On the flip side, another woman I spoke with did a search on Amazon and found a book very similar to hers and it was very popular. She decided she needed to find a different spin to the story.
6. Always, always send a SASE (self addressed stamped envelope) especially when mailing queries to smaller publishing houses or agents. Many of them do not have the budget to pay for the additional postage, so they may not contact the writer for a story they may be interesting in reading , if there's not a SASE.

The main theme here is do your homework before you submit anything to an agent or publishing house.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Chapter scripts

At the CO Writers conference, I took a class on 'Research: Making it authentic' taught by Carol Gorman . There were several items that really made an impact on me. Here they are:

1) Always keep your character in trouble or uncomfortable. Tension keeps the story interesting
2) When researching, try to experience things for yourself. Examples: walking through a haunted house, eating at a particular diner, roller skating.
3) Create chapter scripts-know what you want to accomplish in each chapter.

Ok, I was stuck on Chapter 4 of my first YA novel and hadn't worked on it for about 2 months. I decided to try this chapter scripting exercise and was blown away by its effectiveness. I'm sure we all write in different ways and if you're like me, this might work for you. I usually have a solid idea for my story and characters. I know the highlights, but let the details unfold as I write.

This exercise just helped me to document the movement of the story. As I wrote down the theme for each chapter, some new ideas popped in my head that help facilitate the pace of the story.

Here's an example.

Chapter 1: Lola crashes her dad's Mercedes
Chapter 2: While recovering in the hospital, Lola misses her prom
Chapter 3: Lola comes home, Dad tells her she needs to get a job to pay for the damages
Chapter 4: Lola searches for a summer job
Chapter 5: Lola finds a job at advertising firm
Chapter 6: Lola meets Todd the college intern.

Hope this helps, happy writing!!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Central Ohio Writers Conference

I just returned from attending the Central Ohio Writers of Literature for Children (CO Writers) annual conference and I'm bursting with information and tips. Carol Gorman, author of Stumptown Kid, taught a How to conduct research class, Lisa Cheng, associate editor at Margaret K. McElderberry Books taught a picture book class, Tanya Dean, executive editor at Darby Creek Publishing taught Publishing 101 and Alice Pope, editor of the Writers Market books, taught Marketing yourself Online.

As an apiring writer, I am constantly trying to improve my writing and meet fellow writers. Attending conferences like this one provides the avenue for me to pursue those goals. Finding the time to write has been my big dilemma these days. I just started a new job and there has been alot of change, but I'm getting into my new routine and need to make sure I allocate some writing time.

I'm working on my first YA novel and am about 4 chapters into the story. I have it outlined but need to get it out on paper.

I could be working on it now but I do feel obligated to go out and enjoy the bit of sunshine we have today. My plan for tonight: Finish up the current chapter I'm working on as I watch Casino Royale courtesy of Netflix.