Thursday, February 26, 2009

One Empty Wing

This isn’t funny. My oldest is leaving tonight for a leadership conference in Chicago. Eighteen years isn’t a long enough time to keep them under your wing and tightly protected. Give me at least another five years.

I think I’m gonna be sick …

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Alicia Keys and TROUBLE

I listened to Alicia Keys every minute while writing TROUBLE way back in 2004. I don’t know why but she just helped me along.

Something has changed though and I'm not so happy about it. I have to have quiet while I’m writing now.

I have this crazy idea that if TROUBLE ever becomes a movie, Ms. Keys will do me the honor of supplying the music. How cool would that be?

Stop laughing. Tell me you don't have crazy thoughts of your own. Yeah, keep trying to hide that smile!

Yup. I miss the music. Maybe I’ll pick another artist tomorrow and see how it goes.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Under the Sea and on the Stage

I’m enjoying a middle grade book (what else?) and I’m finding that it mentions many things that are “in” at the moment like, SpongeBob and Fergie.

I’m wondering if doing this will date a book. I don’t even like mentioning cell phones! Makes me go, hmmmm …

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Some Serious Words to Live By

If you can't fly, then run. If you can't run, then walk. If you can't walk, then crawl. But whatever you do, keep moving.

-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

M&M Me

Looky, I'm an M&M ... or close to it! (Click on it to become one too.) Thanks, Rena!

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Some notes taped around my computer screen:

He did not bring me this far so that I can fail - Me

The Mastery of self-doubt is the key to success - Will Smith

You have to make them laugh and then, as soon a possible, try to break
their hearts - Tom Spanbauer

What’s the conflict? - Everybody

All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence
you know – Ernest Hemingway

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Tight Pants and Names

I can’t write a story if I don’t know the names of all the characters. I’ll even stop writing to find a name. If I need a last name, the white pages are always good. Most times I just need a first name and will use

On Valentine’s Day, a whole section of the newspaper was dedicated to children. Each little face was snuggled inside the middle of a heart. Underneath was a short love filled sentence for that child written by a family member. What I found in this section, besides adorable baby faces were awesome NAMES! Sweet, sweet names. Like Lucie, Larissa, Rosalia and Mason.

So, you see, other than tight pants and extra calories, Valentine’s Day brought more to me this year! I heart you Valentine’s Day!

Whoda Thunk it?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Beautiful Liar

Every time I sit down to write, I wonder whether or not I’ll be able to do it again. Can I reach my hand up into nothingness and capture words and situations? Will I be able to invent people with feelings, whole lives, hopes and dreams? Can I then assemble it all so that it makes sense?

What this all really comes down to is whether or not I can LIE. Oh yes, you know it’s true. Us writers? We’re all liars.

Either that or we’re gods and since I don’t feel like getting struck down, I’ll take liar.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Phone Calls and Goosebumps

If you are a writer and in the mood for some goosebumps, check this out:

Thursday, February 12, 2009

To Agent with Love

If you saw a woman in the post office today cradling and kissing a large envelope, that was me. I sent, LOVING BABY DOE to my agent and I’m shaking in my slippers. There’s a piece of me traveling in that envelope. Does it ever get any less scary?

I’ve already started something new. Not quite sure what it’s about yet but I think I’m off to a good start. Going up …

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Never Too Early

I was looking through some old pictures today and came across this one. It is the beginning of my youngest daughter’s reading habit caught on film! I remember being so thrilled that she wanted to hold the book by herself. She’s fourteen now and still likes to have her nose in a book. Yay!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

My brain out getting a tan?

Of all the nerve. My brain went on vacation without telling me. Imagine my surprise as I sat down this morning, eager to get to work when it didn’t show up.

All I know is when I sit down tomorrow, my brain better be there with bells on. Blank pages ain’t pretty.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Writers, ever been asked if you work outside the home? I was asked this the other day and my automatic answer was, no. Then I realized I should have said, I work from home. I had a vision of chasing the guy down in order to clear things up but, that would've just been weird. Especially after explaining that I work in a basement office with imaginary people making up lies. Yeah, that would've gone over really well, don't you think?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Dream Giver

One of my favorite books is, The Dream Giver by Bruce Wilkinson. Here’s part of what it says on the flap:

You may not be able to describe it. You may have forgotten it. You may even no longer believe in it. But it’s there.

Meet Ordinary, a Nobody who leaves the land of Familiar to pursue his Big Dream. Once the Dream Giver convinces him to escape his Comfort Zone, Ordinary begins the journey of his life—overcoming Border Bullies, navigating the Wasteland and battling the fierce Giants in the Land.

This modern-day parable will get you started on your own daring adventure. What may first seem like a road full of obstacles is actually a series of opportunities to help you along toward your destiny.

This book helped me to keep climbing toward publication even when my heart hurt from rejection.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

American Idol and my puppy

I’m an American Idol fan. If I had to trade writing in for something else, it would be singing. It just amazes me that something so beautiful and goose-bump inducing can come out of someone’s mouth.

Don’t get me wrong. I. Cannot. Sing.

Confession: I sing made up songs to my dog. But, don’t tell anybody. I’d be too embarrassed.

One of the contestants said something that struck me last night. He did a pretty good job singing and during his ramblings after the song, he said, singing was like on his skin. I so can understand that. I understood the tears that made their way out as he spoke those words too. That’s how writing is for me.

Here puppy, puppy. Time for your nightly song … No, no. Don’t run! Here boy …

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

I got visitors!

WhooHoo, thanks for stopping by everyone! Happy you enjoyed the notes.

Yeah Megan, I only get gross sometimes! Denise, glad I didn't hear any snoring from you! Danette (go ette's) Haworth, living our lives as, "The Net!" Glad I'm not alone.

Now back to writing stuff. I'm thinking deep here people. Not by choice. I think it's partly due to some of the things I heard at the conference. Tell the truth, hold up the mirror, take chances. Can't wait to start my next book.


Monday, February 2, 2009

Conference notes

Not only did I survive my first conference, I had fun. Here are some notes. Enjoy!

From, Kathy Dawson's (Dial Books) breakout session:

  • Write what you don't know.
  • Write something you'd want to know.
  • Write about something that happened to you as a kid.
  • What do you wonder about?
  • Details should advance plot or reveal something about the character.

She looks for the gasp factor and for truth.

The story should have ARIA. Action, rhythm, intrigue, adventure.

She says the picture book market has been hit the hardest in this economic climate. She likes 1st person. Profanity in a story is okay.

From Michelle Nagler (Bloomsbury)

She is not looking for fantasy. Debut fiction is strong at this house. Historical girl books have done well. Picture books should be strong and bold.

She looks for:

  • Surprise
  • Captivating- hook first
  • Realism of character voice
  • Hooks like, BOYS ARE DOGS

What she is NOT looking for:

  • High fantasy
  • Quiet literary
  • Early readers
  • Non-fiction
  • Biography
  • Anything close to curriculum

Her wish list:

  • Books with mystery elements
  • Suspense
  • Fast paced
  • Chapter book series
  • Contemporary middle grade
  • Edgy YA
  • Big on series

What she looks for in an author:

  • Professionalism
  • An author she can help develop
  • An author who edits his/her work
  • Someone who is open to revision
  • Someone who is passionate
  • Someone who is respectful

What she really likes:

  • Urban fantasy
  • Contemporary

Swearing in a book is okay. Responds only if interested.

Jennifer Rees (Scholastic):

What she likes:

  • Distinctive voice
  • Memorable real characters
  • Secrets
  • To be kept guessing
  • Out of the box
  • Writing that takes risks
  • Lyrical writing

She says your cover letter should read like a jacket flap. Know the market. Satisfy your inner child.

My favorite, she says to, "Write as though you're writing a love letter to yourself."

What Bruce Hall says about first lines:

  • Should have humor
  • Surprise
  • Plunge in midstream
  • Pose a question
  • Foreshadow

He says to remind the ready of beauty. Make them laugh. Say what is forbidden. My favorite: "Hold up the mirror."

Character musts:

  • Strong desire
  • Be active
  • Be flawed
  • Make them squirm
  • Get gross

He says, tell them the truth. Go the extra mile. Dig deeper. Take chances. Write what you love.

My favorite: "Hope triumphs over despair."