Monday, December 28, 2009

Massive, massive book giveaway!

Came back to tell you about this book giveaway over at Chocolate for Inspiration. Click on over. :0)

Sunday, December 20, 2009


I'm unplugging and this unplug week comes right at Christmas. I hope y'all have a fantastic week and a Merry, very safe Christmas. See you on the 4th. I hope Santa is good to us. *wink*

Friday, December 18, 2009

My pal tagged me!

I was tagged by Tricia over thar at Talespinning.

1) What's the last thing you wrote? What's the first thing you wrote that you still have?

I recently finished my MG novel, Seventy Two Hours. I did a book trailer for it too. Now it’s time to REALLY query. January 4th. Dum dum dum dum...

There was a time when I thought I could write songs. I still have the first one. Uh, and we won’t go there.

2) Write poetry?

I dibble dabble. :)

3)Angsty poetry?

Say what????

4)Favorite genre of writing?

Adventure! Is there another genre?

5)Most annoying character you've ever created?

I’d have to say it is a character in my WIP. Annoying but deliciously fun.

6) Best plot you've ever created?

Probably the plot for Seventy Two Hours. It’s WICKED!

7) Coolest plot twist you've ever created?

One I’m writing now.

8) How often do you get writer's block?


9) Write fan fiction?

Say huh?.

10) Do you type or write by hand?

Write by hand? You’re kidding right? People still do that sort of thing??

11) Do you save everything you write?

Doesn’t every writer save their GENIUS?

12) Do you ever go back to an idea after you've abandoned it?

Dunno. I never abandon my sweeties.

13)What's your favorite thing you've ever written?

Everything I’ve ever written.

14) What's everyone else's favorite story you've written?

Chester the Rabbit. (Eh Beth?)

15)Ever written romance or angsty teen drama?

Say what?

16) What's your favorite setting for your characters?

Outside. There’s so much room for so many things to happen. I mean! Look at all that space.

17) How many writing projects are you working on right now?

A novel, two picture books, a chapter book, and the next Harry Potter. Ahahahaha

18)Have you ever won an award for your writing?


19) What are your five favorite words?

The agent loves you baby!

20) What character have you created that is most like yourself?

Um, hmm, um…

21) Where do you get your ideas for your characters?

From life.

22)Do you ever write based on your dreams?

What’s a dream? This writer sleeps so soundly on her NEW Tempur-pedic. she doesn't even have dreams. *fist pump*

23) Do you favor happy endings?

Only when I’m in my ‘happy’ place.

24) Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?

25) Does music help you write?

I need QUIET!

26) Quote something you've written. Whatever pops in your head.

Anna turned on the flashlight and walked over to the horses and rubbed both of them. They whickered at her. She knew they were hungry too. Hunger would come, Anna thought. Who was she kidding, it had already come. Anna rubbed her stomach. She had forgotten about the hunger until now. They had been so busy since becoming lost she hadn’t had time to think about eating something. Anything. Her stomach yelled for food. Anna had thought that she’d felt hunger before. After school every day she always had to have a snack. But it had never been like this. A loud, deafening kind of feeling, if feelings can be like that. It seemed so crashing that it almost became a sound, the sound of hunger. “Claire, do you feel the hunger pains?”

Yeah! That just popped right into my head.

And now the time has come to pass the torch. (I’ve always wanted to say that.)

Susan Mills over thar at A Walk In My Shoes.

Shannon over thar at Book Dreaming.

Jill over thar at Jill Kemerer.

:) :)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Can you use dialogue as a spark for your stories?

I think so. In fact, I have used this technique before. I read about this, but can't remember where. Sheesh, I really need to write down when I read something, where I read it. Anyway.

Decide here and now that to be a really great writer you must become a really great listener. Listen to conversations between your kids. Write down only sentences that one of the children say. Then look at the words. Dismiss character and situation. Just look at the words you jotted down. Do you see hints now? Hints at what the dialogue can become? For instance, say one of the lines you wrote down reads like this. Where are they at? Where. Hmmm, all kinds of interesting possibilities. Where. What if a nervous neighbor shouted that word to you over the phone? Or they hollered that word on a dark side road? Where. It's leading me somewhere. To some place.

Forget that your child ever said that sentence. Isolate the word. Then take the word and write it down. Tape it close to your computer. Say it over and over. Where, where, where. Write the word on an index card. Turn the card over and write down your first thought. Now grab another card and write down another thought. Work as fast as you can. You'll be surprised at what you'll see. :)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wish I knew Wednesday

This is my third Wish I Knew Wednesday that I am doing with Tess and anyone else who wants to join in.

When I first started writing, I wish I had known how ridiculously hard it was going to be. And by that, I don't mean the writing part. I had this idea in my head (scary place):) that I would write a book, wrap it up, send it off to a publishing house and PRESTO CHANGO, I would get this MONUMENTAL contract that amounted to thousands of dollars (and I mean six figure thousands) IMMEDIATELY. I know, I know, was I not the MOST naive person on this planet and beyond? I just figured, "who wouldn't want to read my book?"

When this did not happen I was crushed. I wish now that I had known that writing isn't just about writing. It's a hard business. And like any business it pays to research. That's the name of the game. Researching agents, publishing houses, and a host of other things. I told myself, "self you don't need no agent." WRONG! I'm glad I realized that I knew nothing about the world of publishing other than the fact that I wanted to be a part of it.

Now I'm getting butterflies in my stomach knowing that I am about to query. I mean really query. Those suckers are flying to and fro. To and fro.

And I know that most if not all of you already understand this. But. If. One. Person who is just beginning to tread on this path, reads this and learns, then it's worth writing.

And Beth, after Christmas I'm planning on taking you out to celebrate. Where ya wanna go? Huh?

Don't forget to enter Ann's fabulous contest. The prizes are all from South Africa. :)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Congratulations to Beth

I would like to congratulate my critique partner, Beth Revis on snagging an agent. Merrilee Heifetz of Writer's House. Congrats Beth. You truly deserve it. You have made me a much better writer since we have become crit partners. The twice-a-month meetings at our coffee shop have soothed me and encouraged me. I hope they have done the same for you. So now your dream is about to become reality. And I get to share it with you. I would say good luck. But we both know luck has nothing to do with it. It's hard work and perseverance. Soon, I expect to be joining you among the ranks of agented writers. Until then, I tip my hat to you. Well I don't really wear hats, but if I did I would tip the thing, that's for sure. :-)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Showing versus Telling


Don't forget to enter Ann Victor's Christmas contest. And if I was you, I'd follow her. She is an amazing woman and writer. I've learned so much from this lovely lady. :-)

We've all heard that we have to show rather than tell. But what does it all mean? Well, here is my explanation of showing versus telling. Showing is bringing the reader into the scene through action and dialogue. Kind of like watching a movie versus watching a news report on the movie. It's much more exciting to actually be at the movie theater. Description is a wonderful opportunity to show. It shows where and when. Use those senses. That's why God gave 'em to us. :-)

Ivy shivered in the frigid morning air. The horses neighed as she walked past them. The water in the trough had frozen over night. And they looked at her with ravenous eyes. The horses raced after her as she trudged to the barn. Well you get my point I hope. :)

Here is an example of using action to show. Jack raced down the hallway, huffing and puffing. Well, not the best example, but you are trying to show the reader what is happening. You are letting the reader know what the character is doing at that moment.

You can show a characters thoughts too. Instead of this, Jack knew he should apologize. Use this, I think I'd better tell her I'm sorry, Jack thought. If I don't, we'll have a huge fight and she'll never be in the mood. You get what I'm sayin.:)

With dialogue let the readers HEAR what the characters are saying. This adds life to our stories. Here are three different ways to say the same thing.

"Hello. How are you this fine morning?"

"Hey man. How are ya?"

"Yo! How goes it?"

All awful examples, but I hope you get what I am saying.

How do the characters feel? Jack was so sad he couldn't go. OR! Jack pouted. "I cleaned my room. Why couldn't I go?"

Showing is much better than telling, but there are times when we HAVE to tell. Like for simple changes. Like this: There wasn't anything left to say, so I left. The reader doesn't really want to know how I left. So I tell that I left.

Always show the gory details though. Your reader will love you for it. :)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Fantastic contest given by our wonderful South African blogging pal

Ann Victor is holding a marvelous contest over at her blog. You have a chance to win beautiful prizes from South Africa. And it is very easy to enter. So easy I could even enter.:) But hurry and get over there. And if you don't follow this amazing woman, I suggest you friend her. She has a lot of brilliant advice for all of us. Now go on, click the link! :) And good luck to us all. Hey Theodora. *wink* :)

How's the Christmas Shopping coming?

How many of us are completely finished with our Christmas shopping?

*She raises her hand* Woohoo! I rock! I have finished. No more shoppers dirty looks. You know the folks I'm talking about. Well, I DO NOT have to see any more of that. No more grouchy, underpaid, overworked cashiers either. In fact, I may not walk back into any store until January. Oh that's right. We do have to eat. Shoot. :)

Friday, December 11, 2009

How do you view your work?

Do you view your writing the same way you look at your critique partner's writing? Are you unbiased when reviewing your manuscript? This is something writers need to learn. We can't disconnect completely from our work, but we need to put some distance between us and our words. If we don't, we won't be able to see everything clearly. We won't be able to cut words, we won't hear the things we need to hear about our stories, because we'll think our book is the best it can be. We'll know that NOTHING needs changing. And most writers understand that their books can be made better.

From that first draft all the way to the final edits we cut, prune, add, take away, all to make our book the best it can be. If we fall in love with our first draft and think it couldn't be any better we are doing ourselves an injustice.

I remember when I first started writing. My first picture book wasn't awful, but it wasn't brilliant either. But I thought it was. To me that book was just the most marvelous book that had ever been written. YIKES! Did I have some things to learn. But I hadn't yet learned to distance myself. Now I know to look at my story through my readers eyes. Read it like they will. Now I can see the words that need to be cut and the scenes that need to be energized. How about you? :)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Are you good at titles?

I've been searching for a title ever since I started my new WIP back in July. I just can't think of one that makes me jump up and down with total and complete bliss. I usually name my story first thing. This time though, nothing comes to mind. Oh, I have it named in my documents, because I need to know how to find it. But it's a fake name. A counterfeit, if you will.

I've thrown out names to Beth. None have made her do the happy dance. She'll go, "Uh, well... uh." I don't want to hear her stutter. :) I would like to see her do the happy dance. Because I found the title to end all titles. Sometimes she'll just look at me. Those titles that get that reaction, get tossed for later use maybe. Maybe. And sometimes she'll say, "Not for YA, Robyn." I know if it's a YA book, the title needs to be sophisticated, intriguing. It needs to scream, "this book is not MG.

Is it that important? Really? Will Mr./Mrs. super duper cool agent really read my story and say,"I love this novel. It makes me do the happy dance, but I can't represent it, because the title is a bunch of mumbo jumbo."

Do titles just jump right into your heads? If so, how can I condition my brain to accept titles? :)

I have been thinking of a title contest. We shall see.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

What I Wish I knew

I wish I knew about Anna or someone like her when I first started writing.

Not the Anna from my book Seventy Two Hours,(though I do love her.) but Microsoft Anna. She reads your story back for you. She's that text-to-voice software that is already in your PC. I found her in my Vista. Mac has one too. Even Windows XP has a version.

But I believe Anna has them beat. She is sitting in your "Accessories" folder. Look under "Ease of Access."

She helps you hear missing words or even filler words.


If you love starting dialogue lines with words like my special favorite, "Hey," then she'll help you with that too. It's very convenient to be able to have your story read back to you.

She may mispronounce a word here or a word there, but she's worth her weight in erasers.

So the next time you're knee-deep in edits, ask Anna for some help. After all, that's what she's there for. :)

Did you know about Anna?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


I can't! That's just it. I can't be the perfect wife, mother, home-school teacher, writer, friend, etc. Not gonna happen, no matter how much I feel it should.

I can't write if I'm distracted by other things. I can't write if THINGS are pulling at me from every angle. I hear writers complain about time. "Not enough time to write today," they say.

Hmm, is it time or are they just pooped? Are they too tired from all of their other responsibilities to lift a finger to type? Have these writers had an energy drain? Being everything to everyone saps energy you need to create your best seller.

Save some of yourself for your writing. Say "no" for once. Give just a little bit less. It will be okay. It's for THE book, after all.

Don't answer the phone while you're writing. And don't feel bad for that. Don't go to the door. Believe me, the salesman will return. :)

I read where an author (I forget who) doesn't have caller ID. When asked why, she politely said, "That wouldn't be nice for my book." Pretty cool huh?

Don't feel guilty about your all important writing time. Feel good about it. :)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Do you see writing as a business? Should you?




I once heard of a Pulitzer Prize nominee who makes a list every night about the next day. Which scenes need fixing, how many words he plans on writing, everything is set up for the next day. Then when his day begins, he gets the ol' butt in the chair and writes. He knows exactly what has to be attended to, because he has his list. This writer can keep to his mission for hours. And he admits not everything always gets done. But that's okay. The stuff that doesn't get done moves to the top of the next days list. He calls this process "positioning." This writer says he owns a business, and like any business owner he is crystal clear about what he needs to do.

Positioning helps this writer stay driven.

On the days that we write, but we don't finish, or we have trouble focusing, have we stayed absorbed with our writing? Probably not. And on those days we don't have to feel guilty. Just try harder the next day.

A writer blogged about how disgusted she was that she didn't get more done on her project for nano. But she did get a lot of words down. She just didn't get 50,000. I think she won anyway. She actually had the nerve to attempt it. And I believe she has enough to have a book. She just needs to stay determined to finish it.

Don't beat yourself up. But it is a business. And maybe we need to remember that from time to time. :)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

EGAD! I'm surrounded by 11-12 year old girls. Thank goodness no boys were on the invite list. :)

Today is the FIVE HOUR birthday bash for Ivy. Last night was the sleep over. Only the BFF'S and above were privledged to swing an invite to that. I'm tired. I'll say that again. I'm tired. What with everyone wanting to ride (those poor horses) and they all want to zoom on the zip line.

I've been listening though. It's so convenient to have these girls over. I am furiously writing, taking notes on the tone of their voices and the words they use. And they just look at me as if I'm SNOOPIN'. Oh the gossipin' they can do. Sheesh! Last night one of them was talking when she noticed moi pretending like I couldn't care less what she said. Then! She grabbed the other girls, pulling them into another room. That's when my chin hit the floor. HUMPH. KIDS THESE DAYS!!

Do you listen in on the conversations that your kids have? J...just for writing purposes, you understand. Do you get the cold shoulder? I mean, I try to pretend like I'm not listening. But I get caught up in the moment. *grin*

Have a great weekend. I think I'll head to bed early tonight. Very early.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Is Writing Revising?

Before I get to my post, I have some things to say. It's about two of our blogging buds. As you know, my son is having some health issues. We've been traveling to the hospitals trying to find answers. About a month ago our sweet friend Davin mentioned that he would be willing to help us figure out what was going on with Christopher. Davin being a scientist, knew some doctors he could ask, plus I KNOW he did research. Now Davin DOES have a life. He works, he writes, and he has a personal life.


He took time from his life to try and help my son.

I wanted y'all to know what he did. Selflessly giving of his time to help a blogging friend. Davin, thank you from the bottom of my heart. You'll never know how much it meant. :)

Our other blogging friend Scott wrote a wonderful post about me loosing my precious Blue on his blog. He was there for me while Blue was at the vet and after he died telling me I would see my Blue again. Scott talked to me about the sadness of loosing Jordy and it really helped me get through. Like so many of you did. But Scott emailed me to check and see how I was doing. And then about a week later his precious Tasmyn had to be put to sleep.

I wanted to publicly thank him for being a true friend. Thank you Scott. :)

Thank you guys. And Davin I'll be returning your email. I just haven't had time to turn around. We had to make an unexpected trip to the hospital on Tuesday for emergency blood work for Christopher.

Now on to my post.

Revision is making a mess, not cleaning it up. When we revise, we aren't editing. Editing is cleanin' up the mess. It took me a LONG time to learn this. When we revise, we make new versions. Just think about it. Writing is revising. And MOST of my time is spent revising. If I could write a story perfectly, I wouldn't have to revise. BUT.

I can't. When I am revising a story, some of it gets much better and some of it gets much worse. Then I have to fix the part that gets much worse, and then, you guessed it. I have another part that gets worse. When I think a story is ready, then it's time to query publishers. Now when I say query publishers, I mean for my picture books. I have stopped doing this hoping that when an agent signs me he/she will want to sell my picture books. They are absolutely wonderful. :)

When I sit down at my computer, I just naturally believe that the words I write will be drastically improved from the last time I sat down to write. But.

That's not the case. Sometimes the words are better, sometimes they are worse. It's called learning. Figuring what my strengths are as a writer. Then making the most of them. And trying new things, but remembering it will take time to develop the new things.

Isn't that a HUGE mistake that new writers make? They write something, feel tremendous fulfillment, and immediately begin to query agents.

I want to make sure a piece, or a novel, or a picture book is finished before I query agents. Notice I did not use the word done. A story can be done, but not ready to go to agents. Finished means it's all set to go.

Thanks for reading. :)

Thursday, December 3, 2009


This kind of goes with yesterdays post.

Writers have anxiety. That's just the way it is. I mean, writers never really know if they are writing the NEXT Harry Potter, or the next BIG BOMB. Gee, how do we do it?

I mean, how do we stay focused with so much anxiety cooking in our little heads? I discovered this back a few weeks ago when I decided that I suck at this. At the time, I really believed that I couldn't write anything decent. It was then that I realized something after listening to all of your comments. We all at one time or another deal with anxiety. Most productive writers have at one time or another believed they suck at writing. Most productive writers at one time or another have also believed they are BRILLIANT!

Talk about your living with tension. Talk about even flourishing on that tension. That's called creating, right?

After all, for taking time away from other things, we can feel selfish and we can feel selfless. This is how we grow as writers. Anxiety, discouragement to a writer mean sacrifice. We must sacrifice something. We must work hard. If we want this and I do. So we grow.

For me, I have sacrificed leisure time. After home-school on my writing days, I write. I shut myself up with the laptop and write. I do NOT sacrifice family time or home-school time. But there are things I feel I have to give up in order to make this dream come true. I am growing. Not there yet, but I am a teenager in this writing life.

So how do you deal with anxiety? With sacrifice? Are you fully grown yet? And by that I mean, that you know that you know how a book should come together without making newbie mistakes? Or do we ever really get to that point? Of course, I know that writers always grow. If I stop growing then I need to call it quits with everything. If I'm 90, I hope I'm still flourishing. But doesn't there come a time in our writing life that we know for sure what we're doing?

Questions. Could JK write a bomb? Sure she could. Is all the anxiety worth it? You bet it is.

First off! A big congratulations to two of our blogger buds. Linda KageLinda Kage sold her second novel. YAY! You go girl. I hear it’s really steamy. *Robyn wipes forehead and fans herself* WHEW!

And Tess Hilmo super, really, really cool agent dude sold her MG novel. Your dream is about to come true, Tess.

Yay! I am so very happy for you two. These two have worked hard and deserve to P-A-R-T-Y!!
Well, Linda is pregnant, so she’ll have to drink spring water. But hey! She’s eatin’ for two. YEAH!
Head over and give these two fabulous writers congrats, if you haven’t already.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Wish I knew Wednesday

First off, thanks for all of the birthday wishes for Ivy yesterday. She loved getting them. And we had to make an unscheduled trip with Christopher to the hospital, I'm afraid. His platelet count and white blood count needed to be checked. Please send a special prayer up for him. Thank you!

This is my Wish I Knew Wednesday post #2. I know many of you already know this, it's just something I needed to say. When I first started writing, I wish that I would have always known about self-confidence and how important that is to anyone, especially a writer. Our time is spent mostly alone. Furiously typing our beautiful words. Believing in yourself is the number one thing a writer MUST do. If you can't believe in you, then who can? I wish I'd known how easily a writer can slip into insecurity.

It happens fast.

A few days of writers block, coupled with a critique that basically says, toss what you wrote and start over. And you have lost your self-confidence and will to write. Belief in yourself cannot be overemphasized.

Writers need to write. They don't need to wait on anyone to tell them they can write. Just do it, as the commercial says.

I never thought I could write. I never imagined me doing this. "Only for my eyes to see," is what I always told people about my writing. I never felt confident enough, until things just kind of happened and I found myself writing and showing folks what I'd written.

I still struggle with self-confidence, but I understand it now.

Writers are solitary people. We need to remember how easily we can fall if we aren't careful. And keeping in touch through our bogging buddies is one way to help our confidence level stay up. Our critique groups show us where our strengths are and help us make our weak points stronger. They make us better. We learn from other writers that we are not alone. And that they have gone through dark periods too.

Self-confidence. I wish I would have known how important it is in my writing sooner.

Are any of you joining in the Wish I knew Wednesday posts? The more the merrier. :)

Here's a link you might be interested in. I actually got it from Jen's Writing Journey. Thanks Jen! It's a Free copy of Nail Your Novel. :)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Happy birthday Ivy!

Today is Ivy's birthday. She is twelve. (She thinks she is smarter and wiser than me.) She's not!

I have to say she's a great kid. (Most of the time.) Sheesh, I use a lot of parentheses when referring to her. Hmmm, wonder why.

Anyway, she's having a birthday bash on Saturday. I just wanted to wish her a great day and to say how much we love her. *grin*

She plays the mandolin.

Fiddle too.

The only difference between a violin and a fiddle? A violin has strings and a fiddle has strangs. :)

Our son, Cameron, who is a MASTER guitarist is teaching her guitar. Our home is ALWAYS filled with music. I love it.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Get over to Angela's The Bookshelf Muse now! Contest ends tomorrow. :)

Make me worry. Ramp up the tension.

I hope that everyone had a wonderful, family filled Thanksgiving. With a lot of pie too. *Robyn rubs her tummy*

As I work on my new WIP, I am thinking about tension. Or specifically, how to RAMP it up and make the reader worry about the MC. If there is no tension, you have a lackluster, dreary story. Last week over at The Literary Lab Davin talked about Activation Energy. I asked him if you need a hook on every paragraph. This was his response: "I think you need a new hook every time you've made a jump that lets readers off of the last hook. Sections of books have moments of introduction and then moments of tension. Whenever you get past a moment of tension, I think you need a new hook, whether that be from paragraph to paragraph, sentence to sentence, or chapter to chapter. For me, some books are so exciting throughout, that I'd say the writer only needed the one initial hook in the beginning."

I had read that writers needed at least a hook on every paragraph. So my next question to Davin was this. Are tension and a hook the same? Here is his answer: "I see hooks as the beginning of the tension. They start of a tense scene by snagging you with some little detail or question that you want answered. So, a hook creates tension, but not all tension will work as a hook." Pretty good stuff, huh?

I think my tension and/or hooks are becoming more clear, because for one thing my antagonist doesn't really think what he's doing is wrong, which makes him really threatening.:) I have given the MC (poor guy) as much trouble as I can possibly give him. I've figured out that the more trouble I give poor, poor Michael, the more my readers will cheer for him. Needless to say, the guy is having a rough go of it right about now. Even I feel sorry for the guy. But! He will win in the end...maybe.:)

How are your MC's managing? :) How are you at ramping up the tension in your story? Do you give your MC almost more than he/she can handle? What is your take on the two questions I had for Davin? Thanks for reading. :)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

I'm taking a break from Wish I Knew Wednesday. I'll get back to that next week.

What are you thankful for? First of all, I'm thankful for my savior. Without him my life would be nothing. I'm thankful for the hubby(most of the time):) and for my kids. I'm thankful that Christopher is alive and they are trying to discover what is wrong with him. I'm thankful God still gives miracles, I'm looking for miracles with Christopher everyday and everyday they happen.

I'm thankful for my animals and that my horse just got a clean bill of health! WOOHOO! The vet can't understand it. He was so sure she'd have to be put down. But I can. I sent loving health wishes to Zelda and she fought to get better. Of course God worked another miracle too. And even though my sweet, sweet Blue wasn't to be saved, and my heart is still broken, I know he's waiting on me at Rainbow Bridge. Right Scott?

I'm thankful for all of you! My blogging pals who understand me, because they feel my pain when the writing isn't going as I know it should. Y'all have been there and done that and you know how I feel.

I'm thankful for my home-school(most days) and everyone's health. Here's to love and health and wonderful news for all of us,SOON! :) Oh and lots of pumpkin pie. I mean gobs and gobs of it. See you on Monday. Cheers!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tight writing

As I try to get back to work on my novel. (I took off after the death of my beloved cat Blue.) It occurs to me that I want my story to have one important ingredient. Tight writing. And to have tight writing I have to have powerful verbs. Who could ask for anything more? Except genuine sounding characters, fantastic dialogue and killer hooks.

GORSH.(Yeah, that's my Goofy voice.) Is that all? Um, well, throw in some rich detail (keep it short if writing MG.) and a fast paced plot. Anything more?

Writing five words in place of ten words.

The all important sub-plot. This has to be executed properly. No getting off course.

Hmmm, what about that (UGH) punctuation thang? And grammar too. Double UGH!

Gee! Does that about cover it? Is that what Mr. Shaw meant when he said, "Writing is easy. All you do is stare at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead."

So that's where the blood that falls onto my computer keyboard comes from. I get it now. OOPS! I forgot one important detail. Words that will make your story fall flat. Just, it, some and my personal darling word that always makes me fall flat on my behind, was.

Well, glad that is settled. Guess I'd better get back to it. Breathe deep, Robyn.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thin Characterizations

Thank you to everyone who helped me in my sadness before unplug week. You'll never know how comforting it felt. Hearing you talk about your precious animals that you had lost and knowing I wasn't alone. I really appreciate all of your comments.

We've all probably made this mistake before in our writing lives.

Goody two shoes is my hero for this post. You know him right? He's my goody-goody hero and he has NO faults. He's almost robot like. Goody is just about the MOST boring hero you've ever read about.

Top that with ol' Villainous Villain. He's too unbelievably rotten. Not one good thing about Villainous. He has only one personality trait and it's BAD. He hates his granny! Need I say more?

A story using these two characters would make the story, *YAWN*, mind-numbing to say the least. The hero needs some weaknesses to make he/she more human. The villain needs some redeeming qualities added to his/her character to make him more convincing.

It turns out that Goody makes hasty decisions. Hmmm, I can do a lot with that and still have him as my hero. *thinking cap goes on*

Villainous buys all the names on the angel tree at Christmas. WHOA! He's not all bad after all. Hmmm, this means he actually has a positive quality or two. And as it turns out, he loves his granny.:) *thinking cap flashes*

Now I have a story to write. My characters are becoming balanced and more real.

Have you ever realized that your characters weren't true? That they were artificial and flat? :)

And before unplug week I was honored to receive two blogging awards from two SUPER BLOGGER PALS. Maria surprised me with Loyal friend and visitor award. Thank you so much Maria! I really appreciate this award. Maria is always praying for my family and especially my son. Her blog is very inspiring.

I want to pass it on to a few blogging buddies that ALWAYS comment and always have something great to say.

My great pal Tricia who ALWAYS has thought provoking posts. How DOES she do that?? She also had been instrumental in making me feel good when reading her comments about my son and his hospital trips. BUT. She doesn't think this cowgirl can ride in heels. PSHAW Tricia!

BJ another great pal who never fails to have the right things to say and has a MIGHTY pretty pic now too. You go girl!

And that little lady who is eatin' for two, Linda Kage. She is always coming by and sharing what she knows and she knows a lot. After all, her book comes out in Feb. 2010. Plus she gets a baby too. Dang it! Life can't get much better Linda.

And to Kristi. That girl hasn't been blogging long and look at all the pals she's made. Someday I'll say, "I knew her when." :)

And this award from Cindy. Who by the way, gave this to me on a day when sorrow visited me and still hasn't let go. She made me smile on that day. Thank you Cindy.

So I am passing this on to my pal who along with Cindy and so many of you pray when I take my son on the many hospital visits that we journey on. Susan. Her blog is the BEST! She has taught me so much.

To Dani for ALWAYS being there and sending me so many warm hugs. Her blog is always filled with wonderful advice. She's moving right now and I miss her terribly. And how is she going without internet? YIKES!

Susan, Cindy, Danyelle, Tricia, BJ, Maria,Linda, Kristi, and ALL OF MY BLOGGING PALS have taught me so much on this road I'm driving down. I feel like I'm gonna make it because of y'all! Yeah!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Unplug week

I'm unplugging tomorrow. Are you? I'll see you next week.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A Cat Named Blue

A cat Named Blue is a picture book that I wrote to honor this cat. Blue. He died yesterday on my anniversary. My heart has broken and I have cried my eyes out. You see this cat is without a doubt the sweetest little guy in the world. My picture book about him came about because some strange dog had chased him up one of our
trees. Blue couldn't get down. For two weeks he stayed in the tree. We called the fire department and they laughed. "We don't really get cats out of trees," they said. He finally came down on his own. And a picture book story was born.

Ivy took the pics of the ol' guy

wearing female doll clothing just
a couple weeks ago. Blue didn't mind. He loved her. She could do anything to him. She loved him, too. We all did.

Over the weekend I noticed he was having trouble breathing. He seemed pretty sick and his back leg was dragging. The vet kept him and on Tuesday when Gene called from Chapel Hill he said that Blue was doing much better. "You can bring him home tomorrow." Wednesday when I called to ask what time I could come, the vet told me I couldn't. That Blue had taken a turn for the worse. He finally came home yesterday. His final resting place is out back by the bridge. He loved to sun on the bridge. It was Blue's favorite place. I say all that and show you these pictures so that he can bring a smile to your face as he always did to ours. Thanks for reading my final tribute to A Cat Named Blue.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Do you rush your writing?

Do you speed through your first draft? I use to think the faster I can get this done, the faster my dream will come true. So I must write fast. I reasoned that all published authors must write that way too.



Fast(no pun intended)forward to the here and now. I realize that FAST is definitely good for some things like finishing my exercising--fast. But not good for other things like writing. Writing must be done at its own speed. It must be done like good food is eaten--slowly. To taste good wine, I want to savor it. To make my writing the kind of writing that I want my readers to savor, it must be done with the utmost care.


I want to choose my words carefully. I want to pick my setting with care. I want my verbs to be vivid. I want my book to be read. By others. That they bought at a bookstore. With my name on the spine.

How about you? :)

Oh and today is my anniversary. HE BETTER BE PLANNING ON DINNER--OUT TOMORROW NIGHT. That's all I can say about the matter. I think he knows that too. I've left hints for the past month. In passing conversation, "Gene, you remember the last time we went to the Olive Garden?" Over the phone, "I just saw the funniest Olive Garden commercial." I mean, how funny can an Olive Garden commercial be, anyway? So I think he gets it! :)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Happy Veterans' Day

My family has a lot of veterans in it so I wanted to say, "HAPPY VETERANS' DAY." Without them where would this country be?

Wish I Knew Wednesday

I'm joining my pal Tess in posting little tidbits of information that I have learned along this journey that we are all on. She uh, said I could. You too. Join us. :)


I GOTTA HAVE A PLAN ! If I don't, this isn't going to work. And by that I mean, a plan for time to write.

And I realize that a lot of you already know this. But I didn't. As a matter of fact, I've just figured this out in the last couple of months. When I first started on this road I thought, This will be a breeze. I'll write a book, snag an agent, pick up a publisher along the way and presto! I'm published. UH, YEAH! Right.

And to top it off, FIVE years later, ol' Robyn is still singing the, "I wanna be published" blues. PLUS.

I didn't have a plan about time. My most important commodity.


I must've thought there was going to be hours and hours available to me.


So I now have that plan. Two days a week in the afternoon when I do NOTHING but write. Nothing stops me from that time. No kids, no nothing. I schedule hospital visits, etc. around my writing time. No nothing on those two days, but my writing. The hubby doesn't call home at those times. The phone is unplugged. I visit blogs in the mornings on those days. And it is working. I get more writing done in those two days than I did in a weeks time before my epiphany. Now I know that I don't have a job. Well technically I do. I teach.


Have a plan. It's a good thing. :)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Chapel Hill

Gone to the hospital today. I'll visit with you as soon as I can get over to my coffee shop. :)

In the meantime...check out Jeannie's blog today! Hmmm, wonder who's story that is. :)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Strong Protag, sure. What about the antag?

Every where I go I read the following: Create a strong, well-defined protagonist. Well, what about the antagonist? Do you need to worry about making he/she well-defined, strong, likable? I say YES! In my last novel the mountains, weather, and the animals were my antagonist. So I didn't think much about whether the antag was well done or not. I knew it was, just because it was the out of doors. I mean they're lost in the Blue Ridge mountains.

But with my new WIP, I have discovered a secret. Not really a secret, most of you have probably thought about this. The antag needs to be just as well-defined as the protag. Sometimes even more. I am making the antagonist in my new story a man that NO ONE would ever suspect of committing the deed. And I think it's making a GREAT read. I'm excited to tear into it every day. I'm writing a mystery. The mystery isn't MG either. It's YA and centers around a murder.

So how are you dealing with your ULTIMATE bad guy or girl? Weigh in, I want to read your thoughts on this.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Check this out!

Things Are Not Always What They Seem

Taken from Elizabeth Mahlou's blog with her permission. If you don't visit her, please do. :)

Two traveling angels stopped to spend the night in the home of a wealthy family. The family was rude and refused to let the angels stay in the mansion's guest room. Instead the angels were given a small space in the cold basement. As they made their bed on the hard floor, the older angel saw a hole in the wall and repaired it. When the younger angel asked why, the older angel replied, "Things aren't always what they seem."

The next night the pair came to rest at the house of a very poor, but very hospitable farmer and his wife. After sharing what little food they had the couple let the angels sleep in their bed where they could have a good night's rest. When the sun came up the next morning the angels found the farmer and his wife in tears. Their only cow, whose milk had been their sole income, lay dead in the field. The younger angel was infuriated and asked the older angel, "How could you have let this happen? The first man had everything, yet you helped him," he accused. "The second family had little but was willing to share everything, and you let the cow die."

"Things aren't always what they seem," the older angel replied. "When we stayed in the basement of the mansion, I noticed there was gold stored in that hole in the wall. Since the owner was so obsessed with greed and unwilling to share his good fortune, I sealed the wall so he wouldn't find it. Then last night as we slept in the farmers bed, the angel of death came for his wife. I gave him the cow instead. Things aren't always what they seem."

Friday, November 6, 2009


Before I start my babbling, I want to thank you guys for your support through what we've been going through with Christopher. It's NOT his heart! So that is wonderful. And we are very thankful. But. It's back to the drawing board. Big time tests on his brain are scheduled. I'll let you know. We go Tuesday, but I'm sure they will schedule the tests, etc. and we'll be doing this through the end of the year. ICK!

What hurdles do you have in your writing life? Do you find yourself jumping them with ease? Or slamming into them, BAM?

Mine include, spreading myself way too thin, which also means hospital visits, home-school, family time and with six kids that can be time consuming, me time (which I don't really have these days. No quiet time can be an annoying little obstacle in itself. A writer needs QUIET! A writer needs good lighting. A writer definitely needs to put a NO DISTRACTIONS sign on the door. And ding, ding, ding!

The biggest obstacle of all? Ourselves. We need to set aside time each day to write. And if you can't write everyday, then set aside time each week and write. More on this next Wednesday when I post, Wish I Knew Wednesday.

Do writers need some idea in their head of a set time that they want to be finished with a story? Completely finished? YES!! Also, we need to write without that inner editor visiting. Just write. Take breaks if time permits. Stretch, take a walk, which could bring inspiration and look for the sunny side of life. :) I know that sounds corny, but it really works.

Stay positive! (Which I know I've had a problem doing a few days ago.) Stay confident! A lot of this is common sense, but I think sometimes we forget. We get caught up in life. We push the writing aside saying, "I'll write tomorrow." Tomorrow may never come. And yes that song from Annie is now etched in my brain. I can't get it out. :) *she shakes her head, hoping it will fall out her ear*

Any tips or obstacles I've forgotten? If so, leave 'em here. Have a productive, upbeat day. :)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

We're at the Cardiologist today

I will stop by to visit everyone as soon as I have a chance. They are keeping us very busy with testing, so it might be later on today or tonight. I hope everyone has a wonderful day. :) But...

I have often wondered about this approach. Click here to read the answer. No time? I'll tell you then. :) Yes! It says that readers who view sample book chapters online are more likely to purchase the book. It also says that women spend nearly 70 percent more time browsing books online than men do. Say what? :) What say you my writerly man blogging friends? :) My writerly women blogging friends? I'd say that I agree with that statement unless it's
Scott or Davin or any other writerly men. :)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Taking Chances

I never knew I was so brave. :) Writers take a lot of chances. "Necessity is the mother of taking chances" Mark Twain got it right. Writers have a lot of decisions to make while writing a book. Playin' it safe doesn't apply. We put ourselves out there. When we actually get the courage to let others read our babies we are taking chances. What if they don't like it? I can't tell you how many times I have thought that. Even still today I think it. I wonder what my crit partner will say about it. And Beth is a SUPER crit partner who is super encouraging. I love you Beth!!But still, we wonder.

Now I'm taking chances again. I'm querying. And asking the same questions. What if? What if? I knew I had a plan. A plan to write a book, get an agent, and then sit back drinking pina coladas while riding my horses. Nix the drinking while on one of my horses. Not a smart thing to do. New plan. Drinking pina coladas from my boat! Much better. I'll have someone drive the boat too. :)

I've decided to put those questions out of my head. After this past weekend, I've exchanged those questions for POSITIVE thinking. Now I ask why not? Why not? Why can't I have a driver for my boat and drink pina coladas till I ...? And why shouldn't I get an agent that sells my book and the one after that and the one after that? It's all good. As long as I keep the negativity out of my head and heart.

What about you? Have you dumped the negative thoughts and realized the chances you are taking will work out eventually? Do you know how brave you are? :)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Building a writing career

First off, thank you so much to everyone who commented yesterday on my writing issues to share that they have had some of the same issues. And for all of the support you threw my way. Let me just say that, "YOU GUYS ARE THE BEST!!!!"

This is a quote from James Michener that I really love. I thought it appropriate given my weekend. I must remember this is one big reason why I do this:

“I love writing. I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions.” :)

I have always wanted a writing career. I decided that (for sure) on this past Sunday. After my near-death experience.> (Because I nearly deleted all my stories.) I really, really want this. It's my dream job. :) Now, there are some things that I know I have to do in order to have my dream job. I have to write and write well. I have to read and read a lot. I don't want to lose sight of who I am. I want my voice to shine through. Sometimes we can read so much that we might start to sound like a lot of different authors all mixed together. The structure and language seems like it came from another book. I read somewhere to consider your favorite sentences in the book as the first ones to lose.

Also, writers write for the readers. You've heard that before. If my writing sounds sparkling and clear to me, I have to wonder about it. I take a cold, hard look at it. Because even though it sounds and reads great to me, I want my readers to be able to hear the creek flowing and the owls hooting.

I'm in this for the long haul. Writing is much harder to do than it sounds. I know it isn't easy. Believe me, I know that. I'm prepared for the ups and downs. But I want it. I can taste it. I can feel it. I wanna BE it. An author.

How about you? Can you taste it? Do you have anything to add to my list of things that I need to do in order to see my dream fulfilled? :)

Monday, November 2, 2009


That is what I said to myself on Saturday. On Saturday, I really believed I would never write another word. I totally considered chucking it all. I said, "I shall delete all of my stories. All of my picture books, my novel that I agonized over for the longest time. I was ready to chuck it all. I had cried, said a bad word or three (to myself of course, and I nevah evah say those words)and literally just wanted to crawl under the bed and say, "GO AWAY WORLD!" I knew that I suck at doing this and I just didn't want any part of it anymore. I just wanted my life to go back to before I started writing. Except keep my friends, my blogging pals, but I couldn't see spending all of this time on something that I suck at.

Fast forward to yesterday. The flowers weren't exactly blooming again, but I did notice a faint and I do mean faint tinge of hope that I didn't suck at writing. But how would I know? I mean, if I'd been lying to myself about my writing skills all these many years then who's to say I wasn't doing it again. I evidently had become very adept at being untruthful about this very subject.

I examined my motives. They were harmless enough. I didn't want riches(thank goodness), I just loved writing. I examined my work ethic and discovered that I loved working hard at writing. I realized a hunger burned inside of me. I found that I was focused too. So why then did my writing suck?

I came to a conclusion that I need to share with all of you. My pals in the blogosphere. My writing on Saturday probably sucked(I deleted it) but my writing in general is great, most of the time. But get this. You have to write badly to get better. The key here is you have to stick with it, just like you have to stick with anything you do in life. You keep growing because you keep learning.

Practice makes perfect? Yep. The old adage is true. AAAARRRRGGGGGHHHHH! You mean mom was right all along? Yikes!

So I will remember this the next time I feel like dumping it all again. Or will I? :) Thanks for listening. :) Er...I mean reading.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Need dialogue explained in a sweet way?

Here's the link. It is the blog of my pal Ann Victor. Those of you who don't know her should. She lives in South Africa. Go visit. You'll be glad you did.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

It's that time of year again. I love this season. How exciting for all of the little tykes, to get all of that candy that's gonna ROT out their pearly whites. It JUST don't get any better than this. :) Grammarly bad sentence, but I just couldn't resist.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Creating memorable characters

Ever since I started writing, I have been on a mission. To create memorable, believable characters that are brave and confident. Now they might not be brave throughout the entire story. They may become this way from being in the story, but they always end up bold. I want my readers to
1. identify with my characters
2. remember my characters long after they've read the story
3. believe that my characters are who the book says they are.

As a child when I read a great book I usually either dreamed I was the character I was reading about, or I wanted to be the character I was reading about.

This is what I'm striving for in my writing. If I can do this, I will have achieved what I set out to do. My characters will be memorable, believable, brave and confident. What say you? :)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

My workspace

Here it is! In all its splendor. My workspace. The duck is Quacker named after a duck in two of my picture books, Quacker the Duck and Farmer Ben and Quacker the Watch Duck. He is my buddy and spurs me on when things aren't going as fast as I'd like them to. My chair is soooo comfy!

So what is your workspace like? Is it heavenly? Does it inspire you? Mine does, just because it is at home and Christopher and everyone else are near. Quacker too, of course.:) And it's near the kitchen! *grin*

And why am I showing you pics of my space? Yesterday I thought how much my workspace shaped my writing. When I'm happy, no worries the words just roll. As y'all know I've had some concerns for the past few months. But. The writing still happens for me, I guess, because of where I'm writing at and who I'm around when I am writing. It comes slower, but it comes. I am in the process of going through my papers (the mess you see to your right.) Uh, someday. *grin* A little mess never hurt anyone. Right? :) But I am moving a REAL desk in. WOOHOO!! Does your workspace help or hurt you? :)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I Love to Write Day

It's time for I Love to Write Day again. This teaches children about writing and hopefully gives them a spark to write on their own. Even though I home-school, I am a huge fan of this program. Author John Riddle created this day to have ALL people practice their writing skills.

This is taken from the site:
The World’s Biggest Party For Writers

November 15, 2009 will mark the eighth I Love To Write Day, a grassroots effort to have people of all ages practice their writing skills. Created by Delaware author John Riddle, I Love To Write Day is an opportunity for people of all ages to write something: a poem, an essay, a letter to the editor, a short story, start a novel, finish a novel the possibilities are endless! On the first I Love To Write Day, 11,328 schools all across the country held special writing events and activities. Last year, we signed up over 20,000 schools. This year our goal is to have an I Love To Write Day program in over 25,000 schools. Please help us spread the word: tell schools, libraries and bookstores in your community about I Love To Write Day. You can read more about I Love To Write Day and learn how to register (it’s free!) by reading the Media Kit.

So let's spread the word writers. :)

Here's the link.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

What's the brouhaha about?

I am sure you've run into writers blogs that have been in an uproar about comments Click here to read made by Sendak about the release of his movie, Where The Wild Things Are. Here's a better article that people aren't talking about that explains a lot about himself. Click to read. In the first link I gave you, he told the parents who think the new film of his picture book is too frightening for children to "go to hell". Okay, he's an ol' codger evidently. I'll grant you that. Grumpy too, probably. But I wish they'd just leave it alone and talk about his writing not his codgerness. Do we stop admiring Van Gogh's work because he was plagued with mental illness? Should we really listen to(gasp)Beethoven in lieu of his metal problems? Of course. I love Van Gogh's paintings and Beethoven's music. So...

I'm a little tired of the free-for-all so I've decided to talk about it today. People reacting in this way is a plus for him. More people will want to go and see the movie now. Hollywood has wanted to make this movie for years and Sendak wanted only one director, Jonze and that he told him to make it scary because the book was scary when it was released. It was supposed to be. So you wouldn't take your four year old, but you could take your ten or eleven year old.

First of all, Sendak is brilliant. He has worked hard and become an accomplished writer. He can say whatever he wants to. Children will still read his books. He is who he is. His books are still great. And he knows it. And I know it. What say you? :)

Monday, October 26, 2009

How's your voice?

I hope everyone had as good an unplug week as I did. :)

When you're stumped about how your narrator should sound, what do you do? I have learned (forget where)to write at least one scene (preferably more) in the first person. It really works. Then you can write it in third person later. It helps you to see how the narrator is thinking and it helps you to find the narrator's personality. You easily become the character and it gives you the emotional angle you might need. Because you are feeling what the character feels and seeing what the character sees, the scene is improved and your narrators voice shines through. Okay, so anyone else have any advice for finding a character's voice? If so leave a comment and tell us how you do it. :)

And a great big thank you to Kristi over at Random Acts of Writing for giving me the Silver Shoe award. Isn't it beeeeaaaauuuutiful? Thanks Kristi. Everyone go visit her blog. She has a lot of great writing info posted on a daily basis. :)

And it is my turn to pass the Silver Shoe award on, so I'll give it to my pal Belle over at Ms. Bookish. Go check out her blog too. Great blog about writing, reading and everything in between. :)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Unplug week

Unplug week is here again. Are you unplugging? I hope everyone writes as much as they can this week. I want to get a lot done. Let's see if I can do it. :)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Query contest for anything kidlit

Literary agent Mary Kole (over at Andrea Brown is having a query contest)for anything kidlit. Entries due by October 31. Go enter. The prize is a crit of your first thirty pages. :)

Congratulations T.Anne

This is for T.Anne. Congrats on winning an honorable mention in Nathan's paragraph contest. YAY!! :)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Where The Wild Things Are

Where The Wild Things Are comes to theaters today. Who of you can't wait to see it? Are you going this weekend or will you wait until the crowds thin out a bit?

Just let me say that it's going to be a WILD weekend around here. Can't wait either. The book has ALWAYS been a favorite around this hose. We still have our copy. It's all tattered because it's been read so much.

Are you going? See you there. :)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Howdy from Chapel Hill

Uh yeah, we're here AGAIN. UH, yeah we were here Monday, and then we were back like yesterday! These folks know us so well. Heck, we don't even have to sign in. They sign us in when they see us coming. I'll visit your blogs as soon as I can. Hope everyone has a great day! :)

What have you learned about the process of writing and querying? I've learned that the word revision is now more a part of my vocabulary than the words, "I'm hungry." And I have learned that rejection is a BIG part of my life now. WAAAAA. It's just the way it is. True or False? Rejections help to make me a better writer. I think they make me more determined, but I ain't sure about the better part. I'll have to get back to you on that. I bet when I have a published book I'll say that rejections made me a better writer. Just because I can say it then, without sobbing hysterically.

How 'bout you?:)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Ever seen this?

I want to thank everyone for their prayers and good wishes for Christopher, me and the family yesterday. We have to go back tomorrow, and they are going to schedule an appointment with a Cardiologist. They think the veins leading from his heart to his brain could be the problem. I am much in prayer that this is not the case. So a big virtual *HUG* to all of you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. :0)

I recently found Crow Toes Quarterly. Has anyone ever heard of it? It looks to me like a great venue for some writers I know, that aren't published yet to get some publishing credits. I don't write fantasy, but I know some who do. Oh you know who you are. :) And I think fantasy is accepted along with playfully dark literature for kids. Is there a magazine like this for YA? Crow Toes is really for MG, but YA would probably love it too. Especially younger YA.

Tell me what you think. Hey, I might even submit a story. Stranger things have happened. :) Here's the link.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Gone to Chapel Hill

Long day today. Please pray that they will find something out soon for my son. I will visit everyone as soon as I get a chance. UG. Home-school in a van is tough. But I will prevail. :)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Coffee shop time

It's time to go and meet Beth. We'll drink coffee and talk about all the writerly stuff we can find to talk about. Oh yeah, we'll do our crits too. :)

How many times do you and your crit groups meet? If you meet online, how many times a month do you critique? :)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Books For Reluctant Readers

Christmas isn't THAT far away so I thought I would mention reluctant readers need books too. I know a writer who writes specifically for reluctant readers. They love his books. Almost as much as they love mine. Oh wait, I'm not published yet. *she stamps her foot*

His name is Max Elliot Anderson. Mountain Cabin Mystery is really good. As is, North Woods Poacher, Secrets of Abbotts Cave and Legend Of The White Wolf. If there are any reluctant readers on your list this year, girls or boys buy them these books. They will gobble them up and ask for more. And isn't that what it's all about?

Do you know of any books that reluctant readers would enjoy? If so comment here. Thanks!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

UGH to scenes that "drag"

I was working on my new WIP and noticed that the scene I had just finished was dragging. It occurred to me that writers are suppose to get into a scene late and get out early. I remember reading somewhere that the writers chant is, "In late, out early."

A writer should come into the conflict as late as possible and leave as early as you can often before the conflict is over. That is good reading. I wish I could remember where I heard it because it's great advice. If you think of each scene that way you shouldn't have any scenes that drag.

I decided to take out the extra baggage from the beginning, middle and end. It worked! I saw that I had too much extra 'stuff' in. When I took that out the scene worked. I did add a sentence in the beginning and a little in the middle. In other words, I had empty words in the scene. Once I dumped them, I was in business.

How do you fix those dreary scenes and add luster to them so that they aren't ugh.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Will you be the same?

We're gone to the hospital today. I will visit your blogs as soon as I get a spare moment or two. I did have a thought, though(don't I always)? :)

How many writers write for sheer enjoyment? I went to an author reading at our local bookstore about two or three weeks ago. The writer seemed to me to be quite full of himself. And he acted to me like he thought he was 'special' because he was published.:) Like having a book published that he wrote validated him.

Are all his problems solved now that he has been published? No! Don't get me wrong. I want to be published. I want to hold my book in my hands. But I love writing no matter what. Yeah that was me you heard sobbing hysterically at my latest rejection. UHHUH, that was me you heard. But I still write. I want to be published and I will do a lot of things to get there, like study punctuation(ugh), read, blog, and a lot of other things.

When I'm published I will still be the way I am now. This guy acted like he was doing me a favor by talking to me. And they had champagne at his book signing in this little town? Say what? What do you think of writers like this? I mean besides wanting to throw their book at them. :)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

When did you know?

Now, for all you writer's out there, when did you know you were a writer? Was it last night? Last year? Since mama brought you into this giant world? With a whole lotta help from God, I might add.

Did you always know? Did you discover writing through another vocation like teaching? What is it about writing that makes you know that you know that you know that you LOVE it?

For me, I discovered writing through home-schooling. I noticed how wonderful it made me feel to write. And I always loved reading so it was a natural fit for me. So for me it took a few years(yeah, I'm a little slow) to finally realize that I should consider writing picture books. And then a couple more years before deciding to write a novel.

Tell me how it happened for you. I really want to know. And thanks. :)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Strong characters

I don't know about you, but I want strong yet flawed characters. I want them to have blemishes. People aren't perfect, neither are the people we write about. Because unless we are writing about animals, we're writing about people and they live in the pages of our books. How imperfect we choose to make them is up to us. We control their lives like a chess game and we move the pieces around the board until the end of the book comes and the game is won. I want to give my characters as many hardships as they can handle. They often tell me, "more!" So I give them more troubles. I want them to suffer so the reader will feel in tune with them.

I also let my characters help me write the book. "Ah," you say, "She's gone berserk." No! They offer all kinds of strategic plans to help me solve problems that always arise when I'm writing my stories.

I talk to them. I interview them. I let them interview me. I also read somewhere(can't remember where) to let your MC write you a letter. The letter tells you what the MC thinks about the story you are writing. And it also tells you what kinds of changes you need to make with the plot. Try this one. It is a lot of fun.

Strong characters that have flaws and they help you write the book. Yeah. That is what it's all about. :)

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Was Twilight quality writing or not?

I heard an author talking about the book Twilight and she said that Meyers targeted a market that texts, for heaven's sake(!), so THEY would
hardly care about quality writing, or recognize it for that matter. Do you agree with this or disagree?

I don't think it was poorly written. It might have been a lot less grammatical than some books, but I'm for any books that get young folks reading.

What do you think about Twilight? :)

Friday, October 2, 2009

Plot Twists or Could Be Titled What Have Your Critters Done For You?

I know when I am writing, SOMETHING has to happen. Some turning point. Some action or some event that takes my story off in a new direction. A path that the reader wasn't expecting. (hopefully) That's my plot twist. And there is several taking shape in my new WIP. Thanks to Beth who*** being the honest critter she is, told me that I was on the wrong track. After we met before unplug week I was thrilled. Why? Because I have hit on some things for my story that hadn't crossed my mind. Now it is reading like the great mystery I want it to be. Aren't critters lovely? :)

So now I see there will be many more twists and turns for the reader in my book. And what fun it is too. All thanks to a very appreciated critter! :)

Shouldn't there be a National CRITTER DAY? Or an Appreciate Your Critter Day?

So how have your critters helped you? Your beta readers? :) Let's appreciate them. :)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Hey from Chapel Hill

We're at the hospital today. I will visit your blogs though as soon as I can get over to my coffee shop across the way.

I have a pitch coming up with an agent and I am posting said pitch today. I need to add a take away to it. These girls make it out just in time (didn't you know?) Should the take away be just a sentence that tells how they get out? Or what? It can be up to 100 words. Right now it is at 66 words. ANY AND ALL HELP NEEDED AND WANTED. PLEASE! Here goes...

Seventy Two Hours is the middle grade adventure story of two 13-year old girls (one a diabetic) who embark on an unsupervised horseback ride in the mountains. When they are forced off their trail and a thunderstorm strikes, they’re confronted by wild animals, nightfall, and an insulin pump running on empty. They must find their way home in a situation where failure is not an option.

GAH! Help this freaked out woman! GAH!

Thanks :) Dang, I'm brave. :0)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

More on dialogue

People react to things. And they react to most things with dialogue. I like to let my characters conversations work around their reactions. Something happens-conversation. And you know what the fun thing is about dialogue? It leads me to different places. New places. Places I never dreamed the story was going. Who was it that said dramatic dialogue has two audiences? I think it was Aristotle. The character being spoken to and the reader. And the writer is talking to both. Pretty good stuff if you ask me.

Writers need to listen to the world around them. Writers need to listen to their characters. I've read books where I knew the author never heard his characters speak. He typed what he thought they would say. We know that talking to your characters is a good thing to do. Don't we become our characters when they talk? I was Anna in my MG story. At times I was Claire too. They told me things. They showed me things I never expected them to.

An exercise I learned some time ago. I forget where. Strip one of your existing dialogues, so much that you take out the original scene. Ask someone to create a list of four or five details from your world. He might choose a detail from several different settings. He might use senses. Have him write this on an index card. Tape it to your computer. Rewrite the original dialogue and use these details.You might have to reshape some other things like the setting, etc.. But work in the original dialogue as much as possible. The part where you stripped it down. Allow the dialogue to react to the new details. Change context and speaker. When you finish a paragraph, if you don't see a scene, start over. Do this four times. Read them and look at what has happened. This exercise can take your story in directions you never knew it could go. And it can also lead to a new story. One that you never even thought you would write.

You'll be surprised at what you find. :)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Have you ever?

Have you ever compared two books for the handling of dialogue before? If you have, chances are they were very different. For example, one of the writer's characters might sound like they are drowning in dialect. Then the other one's sound like they are from another dimension. And the more books you read the more confusing dialogue can be. So who is right? Hmmm. I have been thinking that it depends on the reader. I don't believe there is really any certain way to do dialogue. For me at least, I think I just try to believe in the language I hear. And I make sure I listen to voices and really hear what they are saying. I want my characters to sound real.

I think really listening to the voices we hear is the key. Listening to the way WE ourselves speak isn't enough. The world has a lot of voices in it. We talk to one another. We sing. Our voices tell others a lot about ourselves. People communicate. It's life. So I'm listening a lot more people these days. And it's paying off. My dialogue sounds REAL.

What do you think about dialogue? Does it come easy for you? Or is it the hardest thing about writing you do? Thanks for reading. :)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Contest over at Gumbo Writer

There's a great contest going on over at Angie's Gumbo Writer. It's a title contest and the prize is your choice of Writer's Delight or Cajun Goodies package. What are ya waiting on? Head on over! :)

Please follow the link

I hope everyone had a great unplug week. I ran into some problems, my van broke down on the way back from the hospital on Wednesday and I had left the cell phone at home. My son and I were stranded over four hours on the interstate. Do you realize how fast the semi trucks whoosh by? It was getting dark and we made the decision to start walking. A good Samaritan with a cell phone saved us. I was able to call for help.

My birthday was yesterday and I loved the attention I got. My sister fixed a scrumptious cake and dinner. She gave me a lovely hooded jacket. It was all good until I realized, "Yikes, I'm another year older."

Please follow this link. I am SO FURIOUS. This is someone that my children watched for years and now to see what he really thinks, just makes my blood BOIL. I stumbled across this link on Friday, but since I unplugged, I couldn't share it until today. And I wasn't breaking any unplug rules... it came across my email.

Are you as shocked as I am? Okay, I understand that this is after all the onion and I do know that their stuff is mostly mockery and lampoon but another writer told me that this particular story was true. I'll never trust word of mouth again. Though it could still be...:)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

It's that time again

Unplug week starts tomorrow. So I hope to get a lot of writing done. I do have to take my son to take more tests, but I'll write while waiting. I'll plug in, the hospital folks expect it now. I hope everyone has a great, productive week. Happy writing! :)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

ARRRR--Happy Talk Like a Pirate Day

Today is, Talk Like a Pirate Day. WOOHOO! I love this day. I spend all day talking in my best pirate voice. The family gets a little tired of it, but hey, the horses love it. So speak in your best pirate voice today. Here, I'll get you started.
"Fifteen men on the dead man's chest--
Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!" And pity poor Beth. We have our crit group meeting today. She's going to love hearing her critique done in my best pirate voice. : )

Friday, September 18, 2009

Writing is an itch. What has it taught you?

Writing for me is an itch that I must scratch daily. I read where someone said that the writing life was like the sex life. And the longer I do this, the more I believe that is VERY, VERY true. I desire to write. You are reading this post, so you desire to write. I think it is an ache. And I don't have to think about it. I just do it. It comes naturally for me.

When I know it's time to write, I sit down and type. Writing is an attitude. And it's a feeling too. I use all of my senses. I touch, see, smell, hear, and speak when I write. I use my mind. But all the things that I have been through in my life, the things that have made me who I am, have made me the the writer that I am today. Everything. The good and the bad. Through writing I have discovered what makes me tick. I'm intense! Who knew? :) Writing has taught me that I am very organized(most of the time). And that my punctuation skills are ZERO! Thank you, thank you Beth. God knew what he was doing when he gave me a high school Literature teacher for a critique partner. Grammar skills stink too. But I learned that I do have a huge imagination. Yeah. *fist pump*

What have you discovered about yourselves through your writing? What has it taught you?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

We're alone, yet together

A writer has a lonely job. I mean we spend hours and hours alone in our offices or studios or wherever we work. But we are together. We are all working to that same goal. And it's not to be published so much as it is to create. I love making my stories come alive. Whether it's my picture books or novels. I am so thankful that I can do this. And so thankful to have all of you. I'm thankful for my family, my sons doctors, our farm, and of course, for my horses.

Tess got me to thinking as I read her post yesterday. When we sit alone in front of our computers, we can know that we're all in this together. And that we're really not doing this alone. We couldn't do it alone. We need our critique groups. We need our bloggers. We need our beta readers. See? We're not alone at all. When one of us gets an agent, or is offered a publishing deal, or gets to do a guest stint on Rachelle Gardner's blog, (you know who you are)*grin* we're thrilled for that person or persons in the case of the guest stint.

Writing can't be done alone. Someone said, "Writing a book is like building a house or birthing a child or starting a company. Okay, I guess you could do it alone. But we don't have to. Isn't that wonderful? I have learned to be a better writer, thanks to all of you. My writing family. :)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

How do you name your characters?

My MG novel had two girl protags named Anna and Claire. Anna is THE main character, Claire is her best friend and is in the novel from beginning to end. I always wanted to name one of my characters in one of my books Claire. And it really fit good in the novel that I just finished. Claire was Claire. But I really had a lot of trouble settling on Anna's name. Which now, I can't imagine her having any other name. Anna is Anna. But I went through a lot of names, even Claire for the main character. Claire was the best friend. It was a feeling I had. I finally thought about my Irish grandmother. Her name was Anna and she was a strong little lady. So the Anna was given to my girl.

How do you pick the names for your books? I really want to know. I find it interesting. My new novel has a boy for a main character, Michael. And I went around and around with that too. He was originally Jack. Jack ended up being his stepfather. The names tell me where they want to go as the characters are becoming more real to me. I do believe that if you're writing a book like historical fiction that you need to check and see what names were popular in your time period. And I read that the names Brian, Keith, Gary, Christine,(care to weigh in Chris) Sharon, Carol and Linda should only be used for characters over forty. In other words those are the names of parents or grandparents for those of us writing for children.

What say my pals in the blogosphere? :)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Have you joined?

A group for authors and illustrators of children's books, from picture books to YA, in all genres, plus aspiring writers and all readers who love children's literature. Authors and illustrators, tell us about your published work, what you're working right now, any cool stuff you've seen or heard about in the field of children's books, post your book covers or illustrations and more. And don't forget to spread the word about this group to all your contacts in the writing community. For aspiring writers, connect with published authors or other writers like yourself and for readers of all ages, check out what your favorite authors are up to, discover new ones and join in discussions.
Check it out here

It is really a great bunch of writers sharing what they've learned. :)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Check this out!!

The Literary Lab authors invite fiction writers to submit your 1 to 2,000-word short stories to us. The contest deadline is December 1, 2009 at 11:59 p.m. PST, and they plan to announce the winners on January 7, 2010, which marks the Literary Lab's 1st anniversary.

With Genre Wars, they want to celebrate all genres of writing. So, whether you write science-fiction/fantasy, horror/crime, literary, romance, children's literature/middle grade/young adult, or experimental, send in your work!

Write something new. Send something old. Polish something up. If you've never written a short story before, now's your chance to try it out!

20-30 special selections will be chosen for inclusion in the 1st Genre Wars Anthology. All of the profits from this print-on-demand publication will be donated to a writing/reading non-profit organization that will be announced in the future.

6 genre class winners will be selected, one from each of the genres listed above (assuming they have entries in all genres). Each of these stories will be posted on their blog, followed by an author interview. Each winner will also receive a $10 gift card to a book store of their choice.

1 overall winner will be selected from the genre class winners. In addition to the prizes listed above, this writer will receive an additional $50 gift card to the book store of their choice.

Contest Guidelines
1. E-mail your 1 to 2,000-word short story to before December 1, 2009 at 11:59 p.m. PST. Paste the work in the body of the e-mail with breaks between paragraphs (hit return twice). They will be reading all submissions blind, thanks to a kind volunteer who will send them the entries with all names removed. No attachments will be opened.

2. In your e-mail subject line type GENRE WARS ENTRY. In the body of the email include your name, the title of your work, word count, and which genre category you'd like to compete in: 1. science fiction/fantasy, 2. horror/crime, 3. literary, 4. romance, 5. children's literature/middle grade/young adult, or 6. experimental--yes, you have to pick one.

3. Works must be previously unpublished, and we ask for the rights to post the winning stories online and/or in print in the anthology. Afterwards, you are free to include the story in your own collections or as a reprint in another anthology.

The judges for this contest will be the Literary Lab co-authors: Michelle Davidson Argyle, Scott G. F. Bailey, and Davin Malasarn.

Sounds like fun, doesn't it? Well, hop to it! Write that short story you've always dreamed about writing. Not always dreamed about writing a short story? Write one anyway! And good luck to all the entrants. :)

Friday, September 11, 2009

My treasure from one of my super bloggy pals and remembering

I got this most wonderful award from one of my most wonderful bloggy pals. Tricia over at Talespinning honored me and I am very happy to accept. Thank you Tricia!! It means so very much to me. I really respect Tricia and all my blog pals. It's wonderful having y'all to turn to. This comes with no strings attached, but I want to give it to some folks who ALWAYS leave super comments on my blog and all the other blogs too. :)

Linda Kagewho btw, has a book coming out early in 2010. And a baby on the way. Visit her blog, you'll love it. :)
Scott at A Writer's Blog is my pal and yours too. What a great guy who never fails to make us laugh.
Cindy Wilson always has great, inspiring things to say. Her blog is super too.
Jennifer over at Me, My Muse and I. She is funny and always makes me smile no matter what is happening in my day. Thanks guys!

I am remembering those who left us on 9/11 today. Say a prayer for those that were left behind. What a day that was. God bless America!!!!! :)

I was home-schooling and a friend called and told me to turn the TV on. I know I don't have to tell you that our school work was canceled that day. Where were you when the twin towers went down?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Could be titled, Why Am I Writing Crud?

I noticed this last night. My last chapter is crud. Not all of it, mind you. Just some of it. So now I'm worried that I've lost my golden writing touch. Things were moving along. Now it's crud. UGH.

Am I tired? Yes! Home school has begun and life is moving along. Hospital visits pick back up in September too. My diabetes is letting me know that it is there with a vengeance. Plus, there's all the talk about the H1N1. And where will I be when this virus is picking up steam? Chapel Hill hospital. Oh yeah, and I'm writing crud. I can't give myself permission to put my WIP on the shelf for a little while. It's really good. There are parts of it that I am so proud of.

Do I force myself to put this mystery on the shelf for a few days? Or do I write through the crud? Would you just keep writing until you come out on the other side?

What say you my bloggy pals. :)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I just read a really good YA book.

I had to tell you about this book even though I don't usually do reviews. The name of the book is, After the Wreck, I Picked Myself Up, Spread My Wings and Flew Away. It was written by Joyce Carol Oates.

For the YA audience, this book is filled with a teens anger and guilt. Jennifer's mom is killed in a car accident and Jennifer is badly injured. She has to go live with her aunt because she really has nowhere else to go. Her father abandoned her years before. Jenna finds acceptance in some bad places, a friend who really isn't and in "Crow". A friend who really is a friend. Crow helps Jenna to see who she really is and that she really does matter. Bridges and birds are very essential to this story.

This is a great book about understanding teens and even understanding things in our own lives that touch us. It is an amazing read and I'm sorry I haven't read it before. It was published three or four years ago.

It has a lot of unhappy stuff in it, but I recommend it to anyone who hasn't read it before. :)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Write Network or the wrong network? hehehe

Have you heard of The Write Network? They say that they will help writers do things write. The Write Network subscribe to all the contributor blogs and any articles which help ‘writers do things write’.
They claim this should drive traffic as well as introduce writers to new readers who may have come via another contributor’s post on The Write Network. Sounds GREAT huh?

Not too! Inkygirl(who I love) has had a serious breech of trust with The Write Network. You can read it here. This should make all writers keep their ears and eyes wide open to this network, at the very least.

This should stand to warn us all of the dangers of putting our words out there. Be careful my writing buddies. There's a world full of con artists out there. And while The Write Network may not be con artists, per se, they are at the very least unfair and misleading. Don't be taken in. :)

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Elana's new ebook

Woohoo for Elana! Her ebook From The Query To The Call is coming out September 14th. Woohoo! Elana's website states that it will launch just in time for the fall querying season on Monday, September 14. Anyone who helps her promote it by announcing it on their blog or website or facebook or twitter or whatever will get a discount! So mark your calendars. WOOHOO!

I don't know about you but I'm all over this. I'm tweetin', bloggin' and facebookin' all about this. Seriously, this will be a HUGE help to all writers out there.