Friday, December 30, 2011

The Most Interesting Thing: Reading Poetry

"Always be a poet, even in prose."--Charles Baudelaire
While eating my way through Ray Bradbury's thought-provoking Essays on Creativity from Zen and the Art of Writing, I took to heart a suggestion about reading poetry every day. Not a difficult task for my poetry loving soul. So I've been reading two poems aloud every morning and loving it. The only challenge I face is the odd behavior my poetry reading elicits in my Persian. Something about the rhythm of the words provokes him to jump on my chest and place his furry face inches away, giving me the creepy stare. Despite my annoying cat, I feel encouraged and invigorated by my new poetry habit.

Any of you like to suggest a favorite poem or poet? Do you think reading poetry feeds the creative spirit?

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Tree Fell. Was Heard. Now What?

First 
A BIG THANK YOU TO ALL MY READERS
Second
THE WINNER OF BOOKS

Mieke!
(email me: yascribe(dot)angelina(at)gmail.com)

We all agree that our time is precious, right? And reading blogs takes time. Commenting takes even more. Curious as to how many of the pretty faces on my sidebar used their precious time on my blatherings and would confess to it, I asked you. My unscientific experiment showed about 10%.  Thank you all for helping.
Sophie Chang left an interesting comment and gave a link to three brief, but thought-provoking tips for bloggers. 

I've often pondered whether blog readers return to posts to see if the author replied to their comments. Sometimes I respond to your comments, but do you ever return to read them?

In her post, Sophie discussed the concept of blogger reciprocity. Rather than responding to your comments, I would leave a comment on yours. She also raised the issue of word verification. When I removed it, I received LOADS of spam. So I put it back on. I don't like word verification. It annoys me. But it never stops me from commenting.

So what are your thoughts? Should a blogger reply to your comments on their own blog, or would you rather have them hop over to yours? Do you ever subscribe to comments or revisit blogs to read them? What about word verification? Friend or foe? What makes you stop reading a blog? Anything else you'd like to say on this subject? Now's your chance. ^_^

Friday, December 16, 2011

If A Tree Falls In A Forest. . .Will You Win Books?

"If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?"
Attention All Followers of This Blog!!!
I need your help
Pretend this blog post is a tree falling in the forest 
Does it make a sound?
I'd like to know how many of you are reading this
Please leave a comment by December 22nd
As an incentive
I'll send a random commenter three great books
Hint: S. W. Kehoe, L.S. Park, A.Vernick
If you're wondering why I'm doing this
Come back next week
I will announce the winner
And explain


Friday, December 9, 2011

The Most Intersting Thing: Changing POV

Every time I begin a new novel, I write in third person POV. Sometimes I reach the end and realize the story should have been written in first. One would think that after the third time this happened, I'd learn my lesson. But no.

Why do I keep doing this? Because I don't outline. My first draft is an exploration of both story and character. By the time I finish a draft, I have a solid grip on who the MC is and what the story is about. I start hearing the voice. And sometimes that voice is screaming to be written in first person.

And honestly, I love rewriting a story from third to first, getting deep inside the MC's head and discovering what she's really thinking and how she feels about everything that's happening. What fun! Anyone else ever do this?

Have you ever revised a story from a different POV? Have you ever rewritten the story from a different character's POV?  Which do you prefer writing, first or third? Past tense or present?

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Most Interesting Thing: Coping with Blog Fatigue

This week I read an interesting article on blog fatigue over at Shrinking Violets Promotions which coincided with my own feelings of blog fatigue. When I checked to see how long I've been posting here, I was surprised to see that it's been 2 1/2 years already. At the same time, the list of blogs I follow has also grown tremendously. Thankfully I got dialed into Google Reader a while back which helps. But lately my enthusiasm for blog reading has waned. I've become overwhelmed with trying to keep up with all the posts on my blogroll. And so I've been leaving fewer comments.

As for this blog, I finished the "Partners on the Path" series (love you all dearly!) and have been posting fewer author interviews. Which leaves me with this one feature, "The Most Interesting Thing". Posting once a week feels good for me.

What about you? What are your thoughts on blog fatigue? How do you manage? Any tips or suggestions? I'd love to hear from you.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Most Interesting Thing: Pushing Our Boundaries

"Look. Art knows no prejudice, art knows no boundaries, art doesn't really have judgement in it's purest form. So just go, just go."--K. D. Lang

Have you ever felt like your writing is trapped in a hamster cage, spinning around and around in that little blue wheel, going nowhere? If so, welcome to my world. The moment I let down my guard, I find myself confined again, belly up and miserable. 

How do I get out? I push the boundaries of my art. Challenge myself by writing something completely beyond my comfort zone like humorous MG, third person POV, or historical fiction.

My latest challenge came this week when my teen nephews asked me to create a murder mystery role-playing story for a family gathering in February. Murder mystery? Me? The wheels are already turning. Not that horrible hamster wheel, but the creative merry-go-round that gets me giddy with excitement. 

What about you? Have you pushed your writer boundaries lately? 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

VIRTUOSITY author, Jessica Martinez

 How often have you read a fabulous book and then within a week have the chance to meet the author? These sorts of things don't happen to me. So it was with great pleasure that I got to listen to and visit briefly with Jessica Martinez at Third Place Books in Seattle earlier this month. What a lovely person. I encourage you to get yourself a copy of this book. It's one of my favorite contemporary reads of the year. 
 
On Writing:
Favorite thing about writing a first draft:
Finishing!  First drafts are torture for me.  Aside from finishing though, I love the excitement of the first few chapters, when the idea is so big and wonderful, and I’m just getting to know my characters, and none of the plot-crippling flaws have bubbled up yet.
Best thing about writing for kids and/or teens:
Writing for kids is incredibly liberating.  I can put aside my need to be profound and depressing, and just write good stories.  (And occasionally they end up being profound anyway.)
Favorite word?:
Tip-toe.  (Is that weird?)
If I could have two dream careers, I’d be an author and a:
Violinist
On Life:
If I could snap my fingers and solve one of the problems here on earth, it would be:
Women are allowed to be treated with extraordinary cruelty in many countries (legally, culturally, etc.).  I’d fix that.
One question I wish I had a definitive answer to:
Why is moderation so hard?  (I’m an all-or-nothing sort of girl.) 
Best thing about being a child:
Feeling safe.
Worst thing about being a child:
Being controlled.
Best thing about being a teenager:
Falling in love for the first time. 
Worst thing about being a teenager:
Having your heart broken for the first time.  And acne.
One thing I’d like to say to my teen self:
Chill out.  Have fun.  Stop thinking everyone is staring at you.  They aren’t.
A quote I live by:
“Be kind to yourself”  -Wendie Low (my mom)
My dream vacation:
Schlepping around Europe with a backpack and my husband, avoiding the tourist stops and finding our own hidden gems.
In My Perfect World…
Everyone would get massage and a new book at least once a week. 
There would be an abundance of ice cream and kissing.
No one would be deprived of alone time.
Every child would have loving parents and a trampoline.
No one would ever get sick.
Pie would be free for everyone.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Most Interesting Thing--Back to Basics

"Easy reading is damn hard writing."
--Nathaniel Hawthorne



What was one of the first things you learned about the craft of writing? For me it was show, don't tell. Sound familiar? Yet after years of writing, my first inclination is to tell rather than show. In fact, just this week I caught myself writing this sentence: Overwhelmed by the information I found. . .  Arrgggh! Why does this happen? Because I'm a super lazy drafter. Which means I have to be an extra diligent reviser.

What helps me overcome my telling weakness? I try to picture my characters on a stage, they can't talk, but have to show me what's happening. My job is to write what I see.

What about you? Do you sometimes struggle with the basics? Any tips you want to share about recognizing and overcoming the showing/telling problem?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Partner on the Path: Melanie W.

What resources have you found most helpful on your writing path? I find Casey McCormick's blog, Literary Rambles, extremely helpful. She posts great writing tips. The blog Query Shark by Janet Reid is another blog I find helpful. I get to see through the critical eyes of a literary agent, and I know what's in and what's out when it comes to query letter writing.
What's the most encouraging thing you've experienced along the way? One comment from a beta reader encouraged me. My librarian (and good friend) found an avid reader to critique my MS. This avid reader was a person I'd not met before, and I liked the idea of her critiquing my MS, because she could critique it and give honest feedback without carrying the guilt of hurting my feelings. In other words, she wouldn't hold any of her comments back. After she critiqued my MS, we met for the first time and sat down in the library and talked about my MS for two hours. She pointed out the elements that needed to be polished. She was critical and told it like it was. But at the end of our conversation she told me, “I want to see this book in Barnes and Nobles someday.” That meant a lot to me because, at that time, I felt like giving up on that MS and moving on to another writing project. Hearing her say that let me know not to give up just yet on it.
Favorite children's books? Authors? Ohh. . .what a tough question! I have a long list. Usually, I attempt to read books that's in the same tense I'm writing. Right now my MG MS is first person, present tense, so of course I'm gobbling up books such as THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH series by Carrie Ryan, or MOCKINGBIRD by Erskine. When I wrote my SF/ urban fantasy MS, I read books such as INCARCERON by Catherine Fisher. (INCARERON has a great plot!) Books in the fantasy and science fiction genres are entertaining to read, but more and more each day I appreciate the authors who write realistic fiction. Elizabeth Scott. Jay Asher. Historical fiction is important too. THE BOOK THIEF is a book I pull out once every few months to read. It's books such as TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD by Harpee Lee that I think points people in the right direction. That's why I write—I feel as though there's stories out in the world that need to be told, and about the only way to bring it to people's attention is either by the media or by books.
What genre would you like to see become more popular in the near future? Since I'm under twenty-two, I haven't explored much in the adult books--I've kept close to YA books and sometimes MG books. I think paranormal has fizzled out--there's so many books on the shelves in that genre right now, and lately I haven't seen anything fresh. The characters and twists are usually the same. (Or at least, the books I read were like that.) I would like to see more, shall we say, urban science fiction both in MG and YA. More contemporary books would be nice. I haven't seen much historical fiction, but I would like to see more books in this genre--especially set in the Roaring Twenties.
What author (or person) do you most want to meet? I would like to meet Taylor. D. Lautner. Everyone always talks about his looks, but I would like to meet him because he seems as though he has a nice personality.
What keeps you going when you feel like giving up? I've been writing for almost seven years, and after studying and putting so many hours into learning the craft of writing, giving up just doesn't seem like an appealing option. I have come close to giving up a few times, but I keep telling myself, “I have a story to tell, a story that I want other people to hear.” If I give up, that story is only going to be known by me and a few other people (my beta readers) and that's it. I don't want that. I want many, many more people to read my stories.
If you could live any place on the planet, where would it be? There's a few places close to home that I'd like to visit. I've always been fascinated with lakes and snow, so a place like Michigan sounds like a great place to live. Even though the winters are long and cold, I heard the summers are fantastic. And all the lakes are perfect for kayaking! Also, Northern California sounds great as far as the forests. Australia? Savannah, Georgia? There's too many great places! It's hard for me to choose just one.
Describe your fantasy writing space? A small, quiet place with plenty of organization! Right now, my desk is just an old table. But I do have an ideal office in mind. Hopefully, the fantasy will become realistic someday. (Smiles.) I would like a small room, with nothing but a desk, chair, and shelf space. I would like for the walls to either be chalkboard or dry erase—that way I could write my ideas directly on the wall and erase them later.
What obstacles have you overcome in order to keep writing? Writer's block.
Best writing advice you've been given? I've been given a lot of great advice, and I'd like to share several. (Prepare yourself for a long list.) (1) Write every day, even if it's a small amount. (2) “Show” don't “tell” in your writing. (3) Use the active voice. (4) Listen to your critique partners and beta readers. If your beta reader says your characters are flat, then your characters are probably flat (despite what you tell yourself). If your beta reader or critique partner says you need to work on POV, then you probably need to work on POV. One opinion from a beta reader may be exactly that— an opinion from an individual. But if you have several people commenting on the same thing, then you need to take a closer look at the issue. You don't need to take every comment or opinion as wisdom, but it is wise to listen. (5) Read a lot. It's a good idea to read books in the same genre you're writing. When I was writing my SF book, I read a lot of SF and urban fantasy. Now that I'm writing an MG contemporary (and preparing to write an YA contemporary) I'm reading a large number of contemporary books. If you're writing a thriller, read all the thrillers you can. Watch thriller movies like the BOURNE series, or TAKEN. Carefully observe how the plot is structured. If you're writing a historical fiction, do history research and make sure your facts are correct. Perhaps watch documentaries.
What one word describes your writing process? Persistence.
What do you like to keep in mind while drafting a story? I like to think the first draft as the paint primer on a wall—it's important, but the most important details are yet to come. In my earlier (amateurish) years of writing, I stressed myself into making each purple prosed sentence, each paragraph, each chapter perfect. Biggest waste of time. I thought when I wrote “The End” at the end of a manuscript, I was done. Success! But no, the work has just started. The second draft is where I strengthen the characters and make them more unique and realistic. I make sure the plot doesn't have any pitfalls, and the chapters have good starting and ending points. The fun starts in the third draft. The third draft is where I tighten the writing (or cut out extra words) and make the passive sentences active.
How will you celebrate the publication of your first book? I'll take a month break from writing and read a lot. Then it's back to writing the next book!

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Most Interesting Thing: Food for Thought

"There is no love sincerer than the love of food."
- George Bernard Shaw

I've been thinking a lot about food lately. Mostly because I spent the past three months in physical and emotional agony due to something I let slip into my diet--soy. Good riddance! I'm feeling much better now, thank you. 

Then I noticed a lot of my writing partners talking about the benefit of food journals.

And then I got to thinking about how food comes into play in the stories we read and write. Food, or the lack thereof, has been a major issue in my last two novels. In my first novel, I had my MC enjoy all the fabulous treats that are forbidden to me. My latest character has a thing for gummy worms. I've become a gummy bird. Hmmm.

I've also noticed the effect food has on me when I'm reading novels. The mere description of Chinese food sent me racing for the phone to have my husband bring home take-out last week. 

So how does food influence your writing and reading? Do you ever find yourself reaching for the foods in your stories or the stories you are reading? 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Anna Sheehan, Author of A LONG, LONG SLEEP

A must, must read

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you may know that when I find a book that intrigues me and surprises me, a book I can't put down, I am compelled to let everyone know about it. This is one of those times. Thankfully, Anna Sheehan graciously responded to my request for an interview.

On Writing:
Favorite thing about writing a first draft: When the story starts to flow and seems to tell itself. Those few scenes that just fall out of you whole.
Best thing about writing for kids and/or teens: The best thing about writing for teenagers is how important anything can be in a YA novel. Since teenagers are forming their entire future selves, something as important as abuse or as trivial as an acorn can be something they accept as natural, or change their entire world view.
Favorite word? Sorcery. Something about the sibilance of the word just gives me chills.
One word that describes your path to publication:  Over-dramatic!
If I could have two dream careers, I’d be an author and a: Philanthropist! Get me rich enough to be a philanthropist and I will be one with pleasure!
On Life:
If I could snap my fingers and solve one of the problems here on earth, it would be: Pollution and global warming. It affects everyone and everything. If anyone else has a different answer to that, their priorities are a little skewed.
One question I wish I had a definitive answer to: You know, I value the questions of life. There’s nothing I feel we need. Maybe "How to fix this," ("this" being whatever it needs to be) but the how will come about by trying and failing and trying again, anyway.
Best thing about being a child: Your desire and ability to play. As a child, you can play with anything. It becomes harder as you grow.
Worst thing about being a child: No one listens to you.
Best thing about being a teenager: Hm. Well, possibly the peak physical aspects, but mine were never that hot to start with, so it wasn’t MY best thing. My best thing was ... nope. Nope. Being a teenager sucked. Oh! Some of the opportunities you get which frankly just go away as you get older, unless you want to pay money through the nose.
Worst thing about being a teenager: Oh horrors! Don’t make me live that again!
Most memorable teen moment: I guess when I went to Paris. I remember that pretty well. All the other things I remember were pretty unpleasant. Even Paris was tainted – I went into anaphylactic shock just as I got back and nearly died.
One thing I’d like to say to my teen self: Hang in there. It can do nothing but get better.
A quote I live by: Always be ready to speak your mind, and a base man will avoid you. William Blake, Proverbs of Hell.
My dream vacation: Oh, probably my darling Ireland. But there’s a thousand places around the world I want to see, as well.

In My Perfect World…I’m afraid my perfect world is very predictable. I don’t consider these questions to be jokes, so I’m not going to include ice-cream, novels and Dr. Who episodes. Everyone would get accurate and relatively unbiased news and keep themselves up to date on the state of the planet at least once a week. There would be an abundance of clean water and healthy food. No one would be deprived of the beauties of nature or our valuable endangered species. Every child would have an education. No one would ever suffer abuse. Health Care would be free for everyone.

Anna's Website

Monday, October 31, 2011

Partner on the Path--Jaime Callahan

Jaime Writing
Let's welcome another hardworking member of the #wipmadness gang!

What resources have you found most helpful on your writing path?
There are so many great blogs -- author blogs, agent blogs, editor blogs, and anything by anyone who’s in the business of writing. There is a wealth of knowledge out there that’s being shared freely. My favorites are the Book View Café (http://blog.bookviewcafe.com/), the Writer Beware blog (http://accrispin.blogspot.com/), and the QueryTracker.net blog (http://querytracker.blogspot.com/)

What’s the most encouraging thing you’ve experienced along the way?
I think that the people are the most encouraging thing. There are some bad apples, naturally, but most of the folks I’ve interacted with have been nice and extremely willing to help out others.

Favorite children’s books? Authors?
My favorite children’s books are by my favorite author, Diana Wynne Jones. All of her books are fabulous, but my favorites are Howl’s Moving Castle, Dark Lord of Derkholm, and the Chrestomanci books.

What keeps you going when you feel like giving up?
I let myself imagine what it would really feel like to give up and never finish writing anything. It’s a deeply unsatisfying thought and that usually spurs me onward.

If you could choose to live any place on the planet, where would it be?
Oh, gracious, I’m going to have the most boring answer ever, but I really like where I live now (the East Coast). Sometimes I think about living some place a little more rural, but I love being only 15 minutes away from the bookstore and the library.

Describe your fantasy writing space?
Some place I can sit down! I do a lot of my writing while standing up, so I’d love to have a big comfy chair. I’d probably never get to use it, but at least it would exist!

What obstacles have you overcome in order to keep writing?
Lack of time. I really have to squeeze writing into any spare time I can scrounge up. Some days I would really rather just collapse in front of the television, but nothing will get written that way! My other biggest obstacle has been how critical I am of my writing. I’m still working on that one.

What one word describes your writing process?
Scattered.

What do you appreciate the most about being part of the children’s writers community?
The best thing has been how encouraging I’ve found other writers to be. Everyone that I met online has been so supportive, and it really helps to know that other people are cheering you on. It is definitely worth it to join a writer’s forum, follow the writing hashtags on twitter, and just get out there and meet other writers.

Best writing advice you’ve been given?
Just get it written. It can be fixed later. (Some day I will actually listen to this advice.)

What do you like to keep in mind while drafting a story?
I always try to think about the relationships between my characters. I love to read about people navigating the treacherous waters of human interaction, regardless of genre, so that’s something I really want to try to get right in my stories. It can be hard because relationships are rarely straightforward love or hate -- they’re more like tangled balls of yarn.

How will you celebrate the publication of your first book?
I honestly haven’t thought about it. It’s so far in the future! I’d probably just do something quiet and low-key with my family, maybe go out to a restaurant or have a cake or something. That sounds so dull, but it’s the truth.

Social media presence? Please share your links
Twitter: @jaimecallahan

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Most Interesting Thing--Sometimes You Just Gotta Read

"There is creative reading as well as creative writing."
--Ralph Waldo Emerson

This week I've been on a reading binge. Five days, five fabulous novels:
Gary Paulsen's HATCHETT
Stasia Kehoe's AUDITION
Anna Sheehan's A LONG, LONG SLEEP
Jessica Martinez' VIRTUOSITY
Christine Fletcher's TEN CENTS A DANCE

Why am I reading so much? Because my creative well needs replenishing. My writing feels empty and dry.  For me, there is no better cure. 

How do you fill your creative well? And if you've read any outstanding novels lately, please share!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Partner on the Path--Lora Rivera

Meet another fun, hard-working member of the #wipmadness gang:

What resources have you found most helpful on your writing path?
I love Twitter, honestly. #wipmadness, #amwriting—they keep me going every month. I love the encouragement and kicks-in-butt I know my fellow writers are just dying to give. I love doing the same for them, too, because this energizes me. I’ve found several betas this way, too—mutual, of course. The blogosphere, for me, goes hand-in-hand with Twitter.

Books on craft include On Writing by Stephen King, Characters and Viewpoints by Orson Scott Card, and The Art of Fiction by John Gardner. Yeah, I picked that up in one especially good MFA workshop, so it’s pretty dense.

What’s the most encouraging thing you’ve experienced along the way?
When I was a teen, my best friend’s grandpa who used to be the president of two large Florida newspapers and formerly taught at Missouri School of Journalism, read and critiqued my first complete novel. Y’all, this thing was 200K. And he did it with kindness and integrity. We wrote letters back and forth while I was in college—he offered to pay my way whenever I scraped to get by. He believed in me.

Favorite children’s books? Authors?
Chronicles of Narnia—I lived and breathed this series for years. I can quote you a whole chapter from The Silver Chair. Also, Scott O’Dells Island of the Blue Dolphins. More recently, I adored Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials and Plain Kate by Erin Bow, to name a few.

What keeps you going when you feel like giving up?
Running, writing friends who tell me I can do it, ice cream. Er. Well, and then pushing through despair until I forget it was there. Oh, and my brother, who’s an aspiring film maker living the dream out in LA—i.e. living gig to gig, hand to mouth. We shared a lot of world-making together as kids. He’s inspiring and brave.

If you could choose to live any place on the planet, where would it be?
I really can’t answer this question. The idea of living somewhere, of settling down, scares the bejeebies out of me. But I do have this dream of traveling to some place in far East Europe (or something), and living on a farm with a family I don’t know and can’t speak to because nobody for 40 miles around speaks English, and doing manual labor for room and board for 2 years. No laptop, no cell phone. Just sweat, my own thoughts, and the smell of living.

Describe your fantasy writing space?
Coffee shop with just the right amount of ambient noise. The perfect blueberry scone or zucchini muffin. The perfect cappuccino. Gorgeous wood paneling and bay windows with linen curtains. A light, chill breeze whenever the door tinkles open.

What obstacles have you overcome in order to keep writing?
Parting ways with good friends who were also crutches. That’s the biggest.

What one word describes your writing process?
Demanding

What do you appreciate the most about being part of the children’s writers community?
How amazingly kind, generous, truly well-meaning and outwardly non-competitive everyone is. I don’t have to ask twice for help, encouragements, challenges… I never imagined it’d be this way.

Best writing advice you’ve been given?
Go with your gut, but guts can be honed.

What do you like to keep in mind while drafting a story?
From scene to scene: 1. What my MC wants or needs to have happen. 2. What my Antagonist wants or needs to have happen. And 3. The ending, the feel and weight of it in my mind. That trajectory.

How will you celebrate the publication of your first book?
Probably tears, squeals, excessive dancing & prancing, lots of phone calls.

Social media presence? Please share your links

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Most Important Thing--The Value of Critique

"Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things." --Winston Churchill
You all should be very grateful that I made the loving decision and chose not to post a photo from my skin cancer surgery last January, even though it fit better with the quote. You're welcome. 

Do you agree with Winston on this? This week I got feedback from some of my hard-working betas who care enough about my writing career to have called attention to the "unhealthy state of things" in my story. Without this sort of valuable input from others, I don't believe I would have been able to brainstorm the solutions that have made the story stronger, healthier. 

Giving and receiving critique is a delicate thing. On the giving end, I've learned the importance of the critique sandwich--commend strengths, expose weaknesses, commend strengths. On the receiving end, I know to wait until my defensive spirit has died down and I can approach suggestions with an open mind. 

What about you? What are some of your favorite tips for giving and receiving critique? 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Partner on the Path--Shari Green


Shari is another long-time writing buddy. I contacted her years ago when I first started my  journey. Not only do we live in the same corner of the globe, but we share a lot of the same writing partners. Shari has been an encouraging  part of #wipmadness for quite some time.


What resources have you found most helpful on your writing path?
My awesome critique group, “the blueboards”, and a few fave craft books. Oh! And the Surrey International Writers’ Conference (amazing!).

What’s the most encouraging thing you’ve experienced along the way?
Last fall, after parting ways with my agent, my confidence was at a low point. But then in October, I won the “Writing for Young People” category of the SiWC writing contest. The win would’ve been encouraging any time, but at that particular point in my life, it was an immense boost.

Favorite children’s books? Authors?
The Truth About Forever, by Sarah Dessen, and Looking for Alaska, by John Green, are the two books I credit with hooking me on YA lit. Now, I have a ton of faves, but the best two YAs I’ve read so far this year are How to Save a Life, by Sara Zarr, and Imaginary Girls, by Nova Ren Suma.

What keeps you going when you feel like giving up?
I’m too stubborn to give up, lol! But if I do feel like quitting someday, I expect spending time reading and writing just for the joy of it – rather than as part of a “publication journey” – would renew me.

If you could choose to live any place on the planet, where would it be?
I love where I live! First choice would always be by the ocean, and right now I’m lucky enough to live a 10-minute walk from the beach. It’s heaven.

Describe your fantasy writing space?
A room full of books and good light and a great desk, with a window overlooking the sea. But I’d settle for any dedicated writing space – I’m almost desperate enough to transform the closet under our stairs into a Potter-esque writing hideout.

What obstacles have you overcome in order to keep writing?
The biggest obstacle is that pesky way the earth keeps rotating on its axis, spinning my time away. In my non-writing life, I’m a nurse, mom of four, and pastor’s wife, so my days are full! But we fit in what’s really important to us, don’t we? (For me, that’s meant goodbye TV and hello writing-time!)

What one word describes your writing process?
Evolving.

What do you appreciate the most about being part of the children’s writers community?
The support! It’s amazing. It really feels like being part of a huge extended (and not even particularly dysfunctional) family. I love it.

Best writing advice you’ve been given?
“Some stories are like stew: the longer they simmer, the better they are.” I’m a muller, and sometimes things need to simmer for a long time. I use to struggle with feeling unproductive, thinking I needed to write every single day. Fact is, I don’t. True, I can’t let myself fall into procrastination and lack of discipline, but recognizing “mulling” as a valid part of my process has freed my creativity and restored a lot of joy to the process. (Thank you, Catherine!)

What do you like to keep in mind while drafting a story?
Something needs to happen! (I tend to be very character-focused.)

How will you celebrate the publication of your first book?
I’m not sure, but I suspect margaritas will be involved. You’re all invited.

Website & blog: www.sharigreen.com
Twitter: @sharigreen
Tumblr: sharigreen.tumblr.com

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Most Interesting Thing: How I Got Out of a Rut

"The only difference between a rut and a grave are the dimensions."--Ellen Glasgow

The Rut
Six months of drafting
Six days a week
Drove me
Into my writing grave 

My joy
My creativity
My love of story
Dead

Then along came a challenge
Could I revise a novel 
In three weeks? 
Mais oui! 

Change is good 
Popped me 
Straight out of
The Rut

Has your writing routine ever buried you in a deep writing rut? If so, what helped you get out? 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

And the winner of Gae Polisner's PULL OF GRAVITY is . . .




***Georgia Summers***
 Congratulations! Please contact me with your mailing address:
yascribe(dot)angelina (at) gmail.com  

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who entered. I hope you'll pick up a copy of this book and enjoy it as much as I did. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Partner on the Path--Marie Andrews


If you're looking for an early morning cheerleader, follow Marie on Twitter. She gives warm and consistent encouragement to sleepy travelers on the path. And she's a lovely person. I'm pleased to introduce you.

What resources have you found most helpful on your writing path? I’ve found the best resources have come from fellow writers who tirelessly share their wealth of knowledge through postings and workshops.

What’s the most encouraging thing you’ve experienced along the way? Support from friends, family, and readers.

Favorite children’s books? My favorite books growing up were Anne of Green Gables, The Wind in the Willows, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Encyclopedia Brown, and Trixie Belden.

What keeps you going when you feel like giving up? Desire and the inability to quit.

If you could choose to live any place on the planet, where would it be? Off the grid with acres of private land surrounding me.

Describe your fantasy writing space? Large spacious room with many windows that look out to a breathtaking bay view, and French doors that lead off to a large deck. There’d be a lush flower garden, a pergola, little bridges, ponds, and little stone paths that lead off to secret getaway spots just perfect to sit and read a book or stargaze.

What obstacles have you overcome in order to keep writing? Due to not previously taking care of myself properly, I’ve had to make a complete change in my lifestyle. I now have positive habits of eating the right foods for my body, getting plenty of rest, and exercising daily – even when I don’t want to.

What one word describes your writing process? Ever-changing.

Best writing advice you’ve been given? Don’t ever stop learning.

What do you like to keep in mind while drafting a story? How my characters will grow.

How will you celebrate the publication of your first book? A home cooked meal with my family, and a bottle of my favorite wine.

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Most Interesting Thing--We Have a Winner!

Thanks so much to all of you who entered the BWB Blog Contest.  My good buddy, Kristen Lippert-Martin is way cooler than me and did two live (kind of) video drawings for the winners of the Best Writer-Buddy Contest. You can watch those here and here. As you may already know, I am technologically challenged, but have at least figured out how to use Random.org. Imagine the drumroll. . .

And the winner is:
Please email me: yascribe(dot)angelina@gmail(dot)com  
In other news, J, over at Concrete Pieces of the Soul awarded me with this:
The only stipulation attached to this award is that I must tell you one thing about myself that makes me feel good. You'd think that would be easy, but I had to give that question some serious thought.

Doing kind things for others makes me feel good.
 Can you do one kind thing for someone today?
AND 
What makes you feel good about yourself?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

PULL OF GRAVITY Author--Gae Polisner Interview+Giveaway

Last August, the awesome book blogger Cari recommended I follow Gae on Twitter because we both love to swim. I am so grateful for that tip which lead me to the author of one of the most funny yet poignant books I've read in years. It is my pleasure to introduce you to Gae and offer you a chance to win a copy of her debut novel. Enjoy the interview and leave a comment for her. That simple. Contest ends at midnight, 10/11/11. I'll announce the winner here on Wednesday, October 12th. You don't want to miss this novel!
Photo: Rick Kopstein
Gae Polisner writes women’s and young adult fiction and wrote The Pull of Gravity as an homage to the books she loved as a teenager by the likes of Zindel, Konigsburg, Blume, and L’Engle. When Gae is not writing, she is a practicing divorce attorney/mediator and in her spare time can be found swimming in the open waters off Long Island. She is still hoping that one day her wetsuit will turn her into a superhero, but in the meantime, the neoprene seems to hold all her molecules together. The Pull of Gravity is her first (published) novel. Gae's Website
 


On Writing:

Favorite thing about writing a first draft: the hopeful, delirious opening moments where a spark of an idea comes, and my fingers fly across the keys, and these gorgeous words flood across the white screen, and there’s absolutely nothing to stop me - or these words - from becoming the most brilliant thing I’ve ever written.

Which, of course, is soon followed by the realization that I have no idea what the $*&%^ I am even writing about.

Best thing about writing for kids and/or teens: getting a note that says, “I’m not really a reader, but I couldn’t put your book down.” Especially when it’s from a teen boy. 

Favorite word?(no profanity please ^_^) *stares blankly at screen with all feasible options taken away* Okay, fine, I’ve always loved the word calliope. As for the words I must like because I use them too much, how about unfathomable and disconcerting. Apparently, a lot of things in my life feel unfathomable and disconcerting. And of course, the best word there is: water. Liquid. Waves. Give me water or give me death. *reads it over. Rolls eyes. Leaves it anyway.*

One word that describes your path to publication: (unfathomably, disconcertingly) LONG. ;)

If I could have two dream careers, I’d be an author and an: Olympic swimmer or diver. I probably would have liked to have been an actor too. I acted as a kid. I’m very dramatic. ;)

On Life:

If I could snap my fingers and solve one of the problems here on earth, it would be: Can I snap and get three more solutions? ;) Oh, man, this question is too hard. I hate human suffering. I hate it worse when children suffer. I’d solve every problem there is that leads to humans – and especially children – suffering.

Best thing about being a child: Everything still being possible.

Worst thing about being a child: The world feeling big and overwhelming.

Best thing about being a teenager: That sense of immortality/fearlessness that comes from hormones mixing with not knowing too much, and not caring about what you do know if it’s not serving your needs at the moment. 

Worst thing about being a teenager: Not being comfortable in your own skin.

Most memorable teen moment: I have a few. One is my first real (tongue) kiss, which was actually a really weird situation… *doesn’t tell that story.* Another was senior year when my BFF and I had a secret sleepover *coughs* with our boyfriends at one of their houses, and the whole football team showed up outside on the lawn hootin’ and hollerin.’ Yeah, that was pretty.

One thing I’d like to say to my teen self: I know it’s trite, but it’s true: be who you are. **** anyone who doesn’t like you for it. Especially if who you are is a smart, kind, funny, gentle, good person who doesn’t want to do stupid things. ;)

A quote I live by: I have a few mantras. Here are two: writer-success-wise, “Keep your eyes on your own paper.” Life-wise, “Feel the fear and do it anyway.”

My  dream vacation: The hotel San Pietro, Italy, or an Alaskan cruise.

In My Perfect World…

Everyone would get a massage and fresh flowers at least once a week.

There would be an abundance of silliness and ridiculous, uncontrollable laughing. Also, water.

No one would be deprived of affection and human connection.

Every child would have unconditional love.

No one would ever (easy): suffer.

New windows would be free for everyone. Okay, fine, I got distracted. My house really needs new windows. ;)

Monday, October 3, 2011

Partner on the Path--The Golden Eagle

NEWSFLASH: THE FIRST WINNER OF THE BEST WRITER-BUDDY CONTEST HAS BEEN ANNOUNCED! KRISTEN'S BLOG

In the meantime, please enjoy this interview with our amazing teenage partner, The Golden Eagle. If you haven't already checked out her blog, you'll want to soar over to The Eagle's Aerial Perspective.

What resources have you found most helpful on your writing path?
The blogosphere is the most helpful place I’ve found when it comes to writing. There are so many other writers with advice, support, and who already know the ups and downs of the road.

What’s the most encouraging thing you’ve experienced along the way?
That almost all writers go through a process; many authors have written several novels before they were published, they’ve made mistakes, received a ton of rejection letters—but still achieved their dream of seeing their story in the hands of readers.

Favorite children’s books? Authors?
Oh, there are so many books. :) But some of my favorite authors are Blue Balliet, Eoin Colfer, Diana Wynne Jones, Lucy M. Boston, Kenneth Oppel, Wendelin van Draanen, Carole Wilkinson . . . to name a few.

What keeps you going when you feel like giving up?
The writing itself. Publication can only happen if there’s material there—and the material is what I fell in love with first. I enjoy working with words.

If you could choose to live any place on the planet, where would it be?
I’m not sure . . . I’d say the world from my novel(s), but that’s not one of the options! Maybe Japan. Or someplace in Canada. Or Australia.

Describe your fantasy writing space?
A large library room with tall bookshelves filled with old (and new!) books and high, airy windows, with a roaring fireplace at one end. There would be lots of cozy chairs and couches scattered across the room, and it would be winter outside—the room would look out on a pristine, white, mountainous vista.

(LOL. Okay, so I’m not going to be writing in a place like that anytime soon.)

What obstacles have you overcome in order to keep writing?
Time and my own unwillingness. Much as I love getting into the flow of writing, sometimes there are days when I’d just rather work on something else, read, blog, anything other than write.

What one word describes your writing process?
Plotter. :)

What do you appreciate the most about being part of the children’s writers community?
The other writers!

Best writing advice you’ve been given?
Hmmm . . . I had to think about this one. Though it wasn’t given to me directly, one phrase I remember well is “shut up and write”. :P And I find it is true—there are so many ways in which I manage to talk (or complain) about my writing, instead of actually getting into the nitty-gritty and trying to solve the problem.

What do you like to keep in mind while drafting a story?
1. Any typing errors, grammar problems, plot holes, character issues, and other pitfalls can be fixed later in rewrites/revisions. 2. Write down everything that comes to mind, since #1 allows for room to explore. 3. If the story fizzles, that’s okay. Not every idea is going to pan out as well as it was imagined in that first burst of inspiration.

How will you celebrate the publication of your first book?
Hopefully by writing a second book to be published. :) All right, that’s not much fun . . . If (when!) it happens, I’ll probably scream and shout and jump up and down, and then invite everyone I know to some kind of impromptu celebration.

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Most Interesting Thing--Writing Through the Blues

"I don't need to manufacture trauma in my life to be creative. I have a big enough reservoir of sadness or emotional trauma to last me."-- Sting
 

Yep. Me and Sting. But sometimes, particularly in autumn, the sadness presents a daunting challenge to my writing, to my creativity. The early morning light disappears, the air chills, the garden dies, and difficult memories threaten  to drag me down into a dark, gloomy, unproductive place. 
Any of you ever been there? If so, you have my sympathy. 
This week I've been thinking hard about what helps me write through the deep blues. Here's my list:
*Hot tea
*Lots of naps  
*Gentle exercise 
*Healthy snacks 
*Binge novel reading 
*Writing with emotional honesty 
*A regular writing routine with attainable goals 
*Reaching out for encouragement from my writing community
What about you? Do you ever struggle to write through the blues? What helps? Please feel free to add to my list in your comments.
Hugs around!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Partner on the Path: L.S. Taylor

L.S has been a faithful, hardworking part of the #wipmadness group for quite some time. It's my pleasure to introduce you to this encouraging partner:

What resources have you found most helpful on your writing path?
I would have to say I get quite a bit from my local writing conference: the Surrey International Writer’s Conference.
And this past year and a half, I’ve been an active commenter at Magical Words, a group blog of fantasy authors who talk about writing specifically for the Fantasy genre. I’ve found it invaluable, and the community that has sprung up around these posts has been so fantastic that this past June, I flew across the continent from Vancouver to Charlotte, North Carolina to attend the science fiction and fantasy convention that they all gather at. A lot of us did—but that just says what an amazing community it’s become.
What’s the most encouraging thing you’ve experienced along the way?
Hands down, Magical Words. Another awesome thing about the site (yes, call me a MW Minion) is that the authors usually respond to comments. They’re helpful and encouraging.
But in general, I’ve been lucky to get to know a few authors, and they’ve been encouraging, too.
Favorite children’s books? Authors?
Picture books: Cross-Country Cat by Mary Calhoun, Where’s My Cow by Terry Pratchett (oh wait, that might not be for children)
Children’s novels: Anything by Roald Dahl (The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar is my favorite), Betty Ren Wright’s books about ghosts, and Patricia C. Wrede’s DEALING WITH DRAGONS series. 
The YA books that made me realize I wanted to write, that were a formative part of my later childhood? Tamora Pierce’s Song of the Lioness.
My absolute favorite book though, also YA, is Robin McKinley’s The Blue Sword. Absolutely wonderful.
What keeps you going when you feel like giving up?
Community. The Internet and my in-person writing group have been great sources for that.
My husband, who also writes, is my sounding board and my rock for when life gets crazy and doubts threaten to set in. He’s supportive and he understands why this is important to me.
Another thing that makes me keep going is reading good books. When I read a novel that makes my heart sing, it reminds me why I write. Most recently: Tanya Huff’s The Enchantment Emporium, and Discord’s Apple by Carrie Vaughn.
If you could choose to live any place on the planet, where would it be?
Honestly, there are so many places in the world I’d love to visit. But silly as it may sound, I love living in Greater Vancouver. As for a specific place, I wouldn’t mind somewhere on the North Shore, but that’s because I love being out in nature, and one of my favorite places in the world is Lynn Canyon Park.
Describe your fantasy writing space?
I can’t answer that question because I find that writing space—I tend to think of it as sacred writing space—is something I have to create. I do all of my creative writing on my laptop, which I can take with me everywhere. I also require a beverage (preferably water, but hot chocolate and tea are also lovely), headphones to minimize distractions, and time enough to write (preferably at least an hour). And then I’m in the zone to write, wherever that writing occurs.
What obstacles have you overcome in order to keep writing?
Learning to minimize distractions. Pushing myself to get in writing time even when things in my life are crazy. Making time to write even though sometimes I come home exhausted from my day job, which I love but which involves editing and much e-mail, and therefore many, many non-writing words.
What one word describes your writing process?
What do you appreciate the most about being part of the children’s writers community?
I like the energy.
Best writing advice you’ve been given?
What do you like to keep in mind while drafting a story?
My intent—the story I want to tell. Plots may not spring from my head fully formed, and Point A may slightly shift, but when I start a story, I generally have a main character, a mission, and a Point B.
How will you celebrate the publication of your first book?
Probably with a small gathering of friends at my place. Complete with Twitter party!
Social media presence? Please share your links
Twitter: @ls_taylor
Twitter Hashtags I Frequent: #wipmadness, #amwriting, #fntwp

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Campaign Challenge #2--What the Imago?

Here's the challenge: 

Write a blog post in 200 words or less, excluding the title. It can be in any format, whether flash fiction, non-fiction, humorous blog musings, poem, etc. The blog post should:
include the word "imago" in the title
include the following 4 random words: "miasma," "lacuna," "oscitate," "synchronicity,"
If you want to give yourself an added challenge (optional and included in the word count), make reference to a mirror in your post.
For those who want an even greater challenge (optional), make your post 200 words EXACTLY!

Four random words? Mirror? 200 words exactly? Done! Like it? #80

What the Imago?

Felicity clutched the pencils and scribbled back and forth, dulling the lead so she’d be able to fill in the bubbles faster. Her stomach rumbled. Probably shouldn’t have had those extra shots in her vanilla soy latté.

Kids filed in like cows to the slaughter house. At least she hadn’t arrived late like in all those nightmares. Why did her whole future have to hang on one ridiculous test? 

“Don’t I know you?” Devon Fagan slid into the seat next to her and gave that cocky grin, the one that melted the hearts of every girl in her junior class. Sweet synchronicity!

Felicity’s stomach sounded another warning. She wished she’d checked her teeth in the mirror after those double-fudge brownies. Wiping her palms on her plaid skirt, she gurgled out some incoherent response.

Devon leaned over and ran a finger along her arm.  “Bet you know all the answers.”

She jerked her arm back.

The test administrator handed out the booklets and gave instructions. 

When the timer started, Felicity scanned the first page. What were these words? Miasma? Lacuna? Oscitate? What the Imago?

The pressure in her stomach mounted. Before she could excuse herself, it erupted.

All over Devon Fagan.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Most Interesting Thing: Tagged

  
"It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are."
~e.e. cumming

I must not be grown up yet, because somehow I've gotten myself involved in a childhood game of tag. This week I've been tagged twice. Thanks Heather McCorckle over at Critique Sisters Corner and Barbara McDowell.  

This means I will now bore, I mean, thrill you, my faithful followers, with ten things you surely don't need to know about me. For everyone's sake, I'm keeping this sharing of personal information in the vein of writing. 

Here they are, in no particular order:

#1 I can't write metaphors or similes to save my life. Clichés? No problem. 

#2 While querying my first novel, I heard again and again that a similar novel had recently sold. This year ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS hit the shelves and well, need I say more?

#3 On April 17th, 2007, the day I made the conscious decision to write, I bought my first computer, a $100 vintage Mac Clamshell. Bertie survived baptism by cappuccino and chamomile tea, but last February, while I was away on vacation and under deadline, she breathed her last. May she RIP. ***sniffle***

#4 Most days I write in bed, but my best writing happens from the passenger seat on road trips. 

#5 While writing, I take frequent twitter breaks. (see above) Do you see the connection, or rather the lack of connection?

#6 True story. I once found myself without a book and resorted to reading the phone directory. In my defense, the thing had pithy little sayings and famous quotations on every other page! 

#7 My Persian cat snores, chews on his toenails, and insists on being within  inches of me whenever I'm writing. 

#8 My body can't handle stimulants, which means no caffeine or sugar. And yes, that means no chocolate. As a writer, this is catastrophic, so occasionally I cheat. Lately I've been allowing myself one gummy worm per writing session.  #livingontheedge

#9 I write six days a week, but Sundays are computer and technology free. Books are fair game, though. One more reason I do not own an eReader.

#10 Connecting with all you awesome writers makes me very, very happy. 

I don't know what the rules of this game are, but if you're one of those kids who likes to be tagged, let me know in the comments. Give me your name and blog address and I'll edit this post accordingly. Tag. You're all it!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Author Interview--CJ Omololu

 


DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS was far and away my most memorable read  of 2010. Not only does the story still haunt me, but I also credit this book with helping me work out a difficult problem in my own YA novel. 

So imagine my surprise while I was out to dinner after the SCBWI conference in LA last month and found myself face-to-face with the author whose work I so admire. After a moment of fan-girling, I asked if she'd be willing to be interviewed here and guess what? Here she is. Thanks, CJ!


On Writing:

Favorite thing about writing a first draft: Favorite thing? Hmm. Typing ‘The End’. 

Best thing about writing for kids and/or teens: When I get feedback from a reader saying that one of my characters made them think about things in a different way.
If I could have two dream careers, I’d be an author and a: World class singer. I can’t sing at all though, so I’ll stick with what I don’t stink at. Is that a dangling something on the end of that sentence? That’s why I didn’t put down ‘copyeditor’.
On Life:
If I could snap my fingers and solve one of the problems here on earth, it would be: Climate change because it affects everything else. There’s actually a thread about that in my new books.
One question I wish I had a definitive answer to:  Am I messing up my kids?
Best thing about being a teenager: Everything is on the verge of change.           
Worst thing about being a teenager: Everything is on the verge of change.
Most memorable teen moment: First kiss. Frank Perry at the elementary school playground on the first day of summer. Sigh.
One thing I’d like to say to my teen self: You’ll stop growing soon.
A quote I live by: "Writing is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way."-- E.L. Doctorow. 
My  dream vacation: A huge road trip all over the country. (In a Prius – see answer above.)
In My Perfect World…
Everyone would get dinner out and a babysitter at least once a week.
There would be an abundance of time and Reese’s peanut butter cups.
No one would be deprived of coffee.
Every child would have a book they love.
No one would ever feel excluded.
Health care would be free for everyone.

CJ's next books: TRANSCENDENCE in June 2012 and the sequel in June of 2013.

www.cynjay.blogspot.com
www.cjomololu.com