Sunday, December 14, 2014

Working on Baxter's book 3 and beyond?

My publisher, editor, and illustrator now have Baxter's second book.  It will give my illustrator the chance to start her sketching while the text goes through editing, which should be a quick process. I have a good editor.

So I am now working on Baxter's next adventure, Searching for Sunflowers.  I had written out what I THOUGHT was going to be this story a year ago. However, my writing group gave me excellent advice to cut the book into two story lines.

This morning, I went through the manuscript from last summer and highlighted the text that went into Rainbow Tracks.  I've got about half the third book to now work on. If I stick to a focused schedule, I should have this third manuscript completed in a month or so.

And then?

In my writing group, the other three writers focus on movie and TV.  They are rocking!  It's inspiring to be in such a successful group.  So, my plan will be to get out my movie script and clean it up. They've given me some great feedback for the next revision.  I may step away from children's books and books for a while because I have so many other ideas started for cartoons, TV, and movies.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

One of my former professors...

is Jennie Jarvis!  She continues to inspire me both as a writer and as an instructor of writing. I love how active, how passionate, and how very involved in the writing world she is. She lives it.

I do, too.

She is part of a group that writes a blog, and each member has a different genre strength. It's really a very interesting blog to keep up with.  Her last post touched me because it asked that I take a challenge to celebrate what I have accomplished.

How often do we celebrate - probably not often enough. We seem to compare our lives to others (the topic of a future book) and to chastise ourselves for what we don't accomplish.

Here's the link to her post - and to one of her fellow bloggers who took up the challenge.

Will you accept the challenge?   In my next post, I will.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Can you believe it? Baxter's Second Adventure..

Baxter's second adventure, Rainbow Tracks, is rolling out to my writing group!  I'll send it to my editor this week.  

Writing is a funny thing.  Sometimes all of the words spew out faster than you can get them onto the page. Sometimes, the basics are there, but they need polishing.  Sometimes, you have to mine, dig, pick, and scrape for every single word.  Every time, I'm surprised how all the words settle into place and form a pleasant little story.

Book number 3 is rough, but well-formed and on its way. I know where this book is going already; all of the ingredients are there. I just need to put them together.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

It's finally here - PUBLICATION!!!!!

My children's book about Baxter and the chaos one winter evening in Merry Christmouse will finally be published by Linkville Press. I am very thankful to my publisher, Amanda Marie; my editor, Kathy; and my illustrator, Vicki.

It's so exciting to see your book visibly come into it's own as a product rather than only a concept. I can't wait to see more - and that means I need to write more!

Publication will be this week. Stay tuned for more details!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

So many articles and little time.

Is it terrible that I sometimes want to use my blog posts just to curate great links?   I've gone far beyond using any browsers ability to organize all of the pages I must revisit.   I think I've even worn out poor Diigo, an app that allows you to organize links an bookmarks.

This blogger actually put up a page of resources.  I'm just linking over to that site.... lazy. Or desperate?


The whirlwind of school

School has started again, and again I revamp my ideas about writing time and getting stuff done. I often plan to do extraordinary things during summer, but then life gets in the way. I didn't get the writing done that I hoped for, despite my Sunday mornings with my writing buddy.

So now, we start the school year and renew and revamp goals!

Merry Christmouse is with the illustrator, and she's doing an amazing job. It's so very cute!!!

Rainbow Tracks (working title) needs to be finished and sent to my writing group, and then my editor.

One of my dear friends from grad school and writing group members is a finalist in a screenplay competition. Another writer has done just as well with two of his scripts, and the third writer actually WORKS in Los Angeles.

So, I have my articles in The Belly Dance Chronicles and my up-coming children's books,  but I feel the need to get my screenplay out there into competitions now.

I'm going to work about one Saturday a month at our school for Saturday school, and maybe that should be a time I could work in weekly.

That's the plan....maybe you should check in with me and keep me accountable on my Saturday mornings.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

And a VERY timely post just for me....and the rest of those readers/writers out there

I'm stuck. Even though I'm in the midst of writing two books - everything is plotted!  I just need to get the writing done.

Keep the writing wheels greased:

Friday, July 25, 2014

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Writing for discovery...and then I ramble

Last week, I sat down with my students to write in my journal along beside them. The prompt was, "Why do you like to write?"  I discovered something about myself. I really enjoy journal and blog writing; I enjoy writing non-fiction.  I don't actually like or enjoy writing fiction, stories. However, I find that I have the skills and the interest in setting myself a CHALLENGE to write fiction. I enjoy the challenge of writing different genres and writing for different media. I just don't actually have stories that burn to get out, that must be told. I often amuse myself with stories, but they are more like mental distractions.

That gem of information came up while journaling with my students. I shared it with them, and it led to a really nice discussion on writers, likes/dislikes, and our insecurities. It brought forth one of our best discussions, and I'm thankful for that moment.  I think the kids needed it, and I plan to  include more time for sharing all of the the feelings we go through as writers.

What kind of writer does it make me if I don't have stories that must be told?

That prompted me to have discussion with my mom about discipline and my lack of it. I told her that not having discipline was one of the great struggles I face. She was surprised. She was sure that I was one of the most disciplined people she knew....if I ever found something I wanted to do, nothing could deter me, nothing could stop me. Yet, I explained that driving passion is not the same as discipline.  I've been in a beauty pageant; I've won many types of competitions; I've successfully completed an Adventure Race; I've raised my daughter as a single mom, and so on. Yet, I reminded my mom of my days practicing piano - there were times when my parents begged me to stop practicing for some peace in the house. There were also days that we fought because I didn't want to practice.

SELF-discipline is that trait that will sit you down to write (or practice an instrument or clean house) when you really don't want to.  Self-discipline will keep you going when you have a million other things you'd love to do or could be doing.  I don't have that.   And when my life throws me a curve (especially lately), I'll simply retreat to my bedroom, distract myself with the internet, and/or nap.

What kind of person does that make me if I don't have self-discipline?

This is the good part... and now I'm merging life coaching on my writing blog... at least I'm not asking myself destructive questions!  Even if I don't have the answers to those questions and I'm still discovering myself, I am asking better questions!

Let me explain:  you can set yourself up for success or failure by the questions you ask yourself.  If you ask yourself, why am I such a failure, your brain WILL answer that question.  Such a negative question will elicit a negative answer.   When you ask yourself better questions, your brain will answer with better answers.

Where do I stand on self-discipline?   I'm still working on it. I've found that I do a much better job when I have a buddy  - when I have a walking buddy, I walk more often. When I have a writing buddy, I write more consistently.  I also work better when I have deadlines.  My writing group is keeping me somewhat disciplined because I have to submit something once a month for review.

And now I loop back to my original thoughts on writing and enjoying it. Maybe I just embrace it all as is and move forward.  I'm still not sure what it means for my writing. Right now, that's ok.

Your thoughts? What do you do to stay disciplined?  Do you actually enjoy all types of writing you do?

Monday, April 7, 2014

Sample of a reverse poem -

I love to show students the reverse poem titled, "The Lost Generation," by Jonathan Reed. To just keep myself creative and sharp, I tried my own version. It's not easily done quickly unless you use Reed's poem closely as a model.  Not a bad little ditty...

I am part of a dying profession
and I refuse to believe that
I can still inspire my students
I realize this may be a shock but
"All students can succeed"
is a lie, and
"Students are lazy."
I will tell my students
They are not the reason for my passion in life
The politicians will know that
I have my priorities straight because
test scores
are more important than
independent thinkers
I tell you this
Once upon a time
Teachers cared
but this will not be true in my time
This is a shallow society
Experts tell me
10 years from now, I will have left the teaching profession
I do not concede that
I will design a lesson full of creativity
Every day forward
Online or packaged programs will be the norm and
no longer can it be said that
my peers and I care about the welfare of our students
It will be evident
that teachers are data analysts
It is foolish to presume that
There is hope
and all of this will come true unless we choose to reverse it...

Sunday, April 6, 2014

As the World Turns...

My writing life has taken some jumps, dips, stalls, and hard turns. It doesn't stress me too much, as I have another career that provides my income.  And, I've been assured by many writers that this is not uncommon. I've left my publishing house. After one year, they have not been able to publish my book, and I was told to find and pay for my own illustrator.  It wasn't part of the contract, nor of our original discussions, so I told them that it was unacceptable to change the rules after they'd already missed the prime sales for my Christmas story.  I'd already completed a second manuscript as part of a series, and I was beginning my third.

That is not the interesting part of this story. What is interesting is that I posted a status update on Facebook and was contacted (almost immediately) by people in the publishing world and other authors.  Now that I'm in the publishing/writing world, there is a nice network of support.  I have wonderful peers in all types of genre-writing and all stages of their careers.

I'm reminded that people and relationships are a prime success factor for me. They are more important to me than the books.  Integrity and professionalism are the legacy I want to leave.

What do you want to be remembered for?  What do you want as your legacy?

Monday, March 31, 2014

Bad Writing

Though I would never shame anyone, there is a benefit to reading "bad writing."  Careful analysis of what works is as important as studying what isn't working in a piece.  Sometimes I just abandon books, but other times, I push through and finish. I want to know from start to finish why I think there are problems.  I do this in order to avoid it in my own writing.

I look at consistency - in writing, in the characters, in the plot, and in simple facts/research. One author I know didn't do any kind of research in her books. Simple facts were blatantly wrong. It was sad.

I look at the author's tone. I've read several books where I just didn't like the tone.  It was off-putting. One male author really liked to use big words from a thesaurus.  It seemed just like middle school writing where kids throw in big words without really understanding the meaning or understanding the effect that the words have on readers. He was pretty obnoxious.

I look at the craft of writing, especially at the sentence level. One very famous author could tell an interesting story, but her work was full of incomplete sentences.  I couldn't really feel the same level of respect for the works after a while.

I look at the point of view that the story is told from. Another popular book was off-putting in the POV, and I skipped through and read only the last few pages. I was unimpressed.  I have read a few books written from the second person point of view.  I didn't enjoy it. I felt like it was a barrier to enjoying the story in a fluid read.

The last thing I've noticed is verb tense.  Present tense is popular right now with many popular books. I find it hard to follow on occasion. I know from experience that it's harder to tell stories with present tense than past tense. As a reader and a writer, I've stumbled and fumbled with present tense. It's not a good feeling.

All in all, writing is personal. Writers must make many choices, but it's as important to give the reader the kind of experience you want them to have as it is to stay true to your craft. I don't know any good writers who actually want readers to struggle with the mechanics of a writer's choice in crafting.

Do you purposefully continue reading something bad? Let me know in the comments. What do you notice in bad writing?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

It's the little things

My publisher called for all authors to list books they plan to complete for publication in 2014.  This was a great move for the house and for me. It helped us both plan.   Now, I know what I need to accomplish and pretty much when in order to get these books published. I work better with deadlines and dates than an unending, blank calendar.

However, the best part of my writing life lately is watching young writers bloom underneath my tutelage. I have carefully created real-world situations where students have an audience besides me, a teacher. They now see the larger world as their audience.  They are crafting words with purpose beyond a grade. That's been my goal in teaching, but this is really the first year that I could make that happen on a larger scale. I've been working up to it, but this year is the year that all of the magical pieces fell into place. 

I have Creative Writing students begging to spend more time with their NaNoWriMo novels...that was in November, yes? They are begging to spend more time writing in January. I won't hold them back. They alone know when their story is complete.  I can't answer that really, which is why I haven't "graded" those stories. I'll look for progress and over-arching story arcs, but they will know when they've reached success. 

My language arts students just completed blog posts and comments on books. I've encouraged the staff at my school and their parents to also read and comment, to foster a reading community, to say something to our students and children. I once had an author write a comment back to a student on his blog post. I still do a happy dance about that. 

Here are the links, if you'd like to also play a part of our real world community.