Monday, December 19, 2011
Honestly, if you have a child with a birthday near any major holiday, this is a great idea. Bake a bunch of sugar and gingerbread cookies (I make the gingerbread ones with whole wheat flour), whip up some bowls of frosting in various candy colors, fill a few more bowls or shakers with various kinds of sprinkles, and voila! You've a bona fide cookie party.
Even better, party games, goody bags, and other time fillers are completely unnecessary. Kids will decorate cookies for hours without getting tired, especially if they eat while they decorate. And a few gift boxes will make it easy for the kids to take home cookies for all their relatives, effectively removing the cookies from your home.
It's all win-win. Except for one thing: I'm not writing.
I'd laugh about this... but I can't. I find it distressing. And my distress makes me feel guilty, for I shouldn't resent this birthday taking writing time. Ugh.
I'm putting my smily face on now. Then I'm off to bake. Tomorrow, I write.
Saturday, December 17, 2011
Very soon, though, this blog will rev back to life in ways it never has. I have big plans for it, and hopes and dreams, almost as big as those for my novels and plays. I will keep you posted, so look for me in a week or two!
(And thanks for being so patient with me!)
Sunday, December 4, 2011
Sunday, October 30, 2011
And millions will by typing
Their goal? A thousand words by noon
--no blogging and no Skyping!
They'll churn out words by leaps and bounds
Resist the urge to edit
Until they've won their writing crowns
And earned their "winner" credit
December first will end the rush
And make the agents cringe
For they fear the impending crush
Of horrid books formed in a rush
By writers on a binge.
Sunday, October 23, 2011
I. Can't. Do. That.
I can't. I've tried. Sure, I can get words down on paper, but I'll spend pages and pages going nowhere (or heading in the wrong direction), and I'll waste all kinds of time writing blather that will only be deleted in entirety when I revise. Heck, even when I outline I end up writing a bunch of stuff that disappears as I edit... it only gets worse when I try to head off without a plan.
So I spent two days "planning" my short story about chocolate. TWO days! It's just like when I paint--I take twice as much time to sketch out what I'm going to paint as I do painting it.
What about you? Is your magic in your planning, or do you have the ability to sort things as you go, letting the characters act as they will and recording their progress with no idea where it will end up?
While I await your answers, I'm off to finish my story--or revise my outline. I know, it's pretty pathetic. But it's what I do, and it works for me (mostly), so I wouldn't have it any other way.
Friday, October 21, 2011
Ear infection. That's pretty much the perfect way for my son to feel out of joint. I treated his ear, then did it again at 4:30 a.m. He's sporting a fever as well, so it's no school for him tomorrow.
That means my busy week is over! Yes, I did have a Zumba class scheduled, along with a work lunch with a local librarian... but I'll have to cancel, so that my little one can snuggle next to me and feel sick at home (instead of coughing on all the kids at school). My nose is starting to run, too. Darn!
The silver lining? Except for sweeping and cleaning bathrooms--which simply can't wait any longer--I get to write ALL day long. That's good, too, since I have a children's story to turn into verse form and a death by chocolate story to write out over the weekend so that I can polish it up next week. Plus I need an OUTLINE for my NaNoWriMo novel.
So, why am I writing on this blog? No idea. I guess I just wanted all of you know the ugly voices have been pretty quiet over the last few days since the last post. And they'll likely grow even quieter, since I'll be snuggling up to my son and my laptop over the next few days.
And a box of kleenex.
BTW, how does one disinfect a laptop?
Monday, October 17, 2011
Cleaned out the pool filters
Cut out a costume for my daughter (why do I make things from scratch?)
Nearly finished a costume for my daughter
Spray painted a fan and hat silver
Took out the trash
Made several meals
Watched two movies
Read a book (hated it)
Went to church
Captured a lizard and set it free outside the house
Helped kids with their piano practice
Played video games
I'm sure I'll think of a dozen other activities I found to keep from writing. Why do I do this, when all I want to do is write? I have a crayon story absolutely burning to be written, and another one about chocolate which is blooming in my head, too. My kids were in bed before eight, but when I sat down to write, finally, at the end of a long weekend, I just couldn't make myself do it.
I guess now is the time. Signing off. I still have two hours before the kids wake up and get ready for school. That's one huge benefit from waking up super early every morning. I might actually get something written!
Unless I can find something else to do instead...
Friday, October 14, 2011
Some writers have big goals--being famous, getting millions of dollars, blah, blah, blah. I don't care about the money, or the fame. But I want every single person in the whole wide world to love my book. Not just a sort of "Meh, I guess it was okay." I want them to adore it, buy ten copies for friends, read it every morning before they go to work, sleep with it under their pillows.
After all, any book worth anything is loved by everybody, isn't it? Doesn't everybody love Shakespeare? Stephen King? The Harry Potter series? Jane Austen? The Bible? Okay, perhaps not everybody loves all of this--but they would, if they liked reading? Right?
Then again, isn't the second most published book, after The Bible, Hitler's Mein Kampf? And wasn't Huckleberry Finn banned?
You know where this is going, right? I don't have to spell it out for you, do I?
Know this: I'm not quitting. And if only 1 in 5 people who read my book like it--and even if only 5 read it--that's one person I've touched.
And that's all I need. That's all you need, too.
Sunday, October 9, 2011
Sunday, October 2, 2011
I was dangerously close to working on one of my novels--I had the whole Saturday free!--so I took the best step I could to avoid writing: I attended a writing conference. Actually, it was a writing "master class."
Somehow I found a fellow writer to go with me--another novelist who tends to write in the YA lit category--and we traipsed down to Tallahassee for a class on character building. A pretty lame class, actually (though most of the writers there seemed to really like it). Since we were also both educators, our main beef was with the format of the class. For instance, the presenter had a system for identifying the kinds of elements in one's novel using many colors of highlighters. A pretty cool system. Only we didn't even begin working on the manuscripts we brought until nearly the end of the all-day session. And it wasn't until AFTER we'd highlighted our own manuscripts that she brought out a "practice" sheet for us to all work on together so that we could understand what we were doing.
She also spent a good bit of time (and several handouts) advertising her future online and in-person workshops. And her daughter's. And her 350-page lecture packets. If she'd actually published any books of her own, I'm sure she would have been selling those, too.
Still, I thought, it's not a total waste. After all, it did keep me writing for ELEVEN hours. That in itself would be worth the money spent, since I've been having a really hard time lately keeping myself from writing.
Only it didn't really help. I took the first fifteen pages of my manuscript, and despite the instructor's method, the highlighting made it clear that the reason I hated the beginning of my book is that I had 7 pages of back story right at the beginning, instead of starting the novel in the middle of the action. Eureka!
Now I'm all pumped about cutting that crap out and sifting it in slowly (or dumping most of it). And now I'm bursting to write more, to finish up the last tidying of The Ghost Portal manuscript and query letter (and agent listing) so that I can get to revising this haunted house novel. The only reason I didn't work on it last night is that I was exhausted, but I woke up at 4:15 this morning, ready to write. And the kids are asleep until at least 6:30... so I can't start vacuuming, do laundry, or wash dishes yet.
Must. Find. Something. Else. Now!
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
When I'm 82, I'll have my whole house pasted with rejection slips--even the outside!--and a hundred or so "finished" manuscripts stuffing my filing cabinets (I'll have to buy a whole lot more if I keep up this stupid writing). My poor grandkids or great grandkids, after I kick the bucket, will have to dig through all that moth-eaten crap. One of them might even try reading a manuscript or two, just to see if I really do suck as bad as I always said.
"I wouldn't do that if I were you," another grandkid warns.
"I'm just reading a little."
"No, I'm not kidding. Grandma said it was all crap." This grandkid tries to pull the manuscript out of his cousin's hands at this point.
"Just a chapter," the first grandkid insists, shrugging it back.
"Okay, stupid, but I warned you."
This grandkid might even take the manuscript home and try reading it to her kids. At least until they say, "Mom, can we read something else? This stuff is crap."
"But it's your great grandma's writing."
But the manuscript won't get tossed in the trash. Instead, this little grandkid of mine--now an adult--has somehow channeled all the creativity and talent from the whole family into her little self. So she revises the manuscript. Or just takes one kernel of its ideas to use. And finally the novel I'd always hoped for comes out, beautifully written, meaningful, intelligent.
I'll read it again then, nodding. Sure, I won't make it. But that idea will, someday, somehow. And all this work will be worth it.
Wait. What am I saying? How can I be hopeful? Am I crazy?
At least I won't have to see it. I can live in my discontented wonderland of rejection letters and griping my whole life, without interruption. Whew!
Now I'm off to rack up those rejections! Got a prophecy to fulfill now.
Friday, September 23, 2011
Saturday, September 17, 2011
So here goes:
Dear Sir or Madam or Whoever (I would have researched your name, but that would take too much time, and I am really lazy):
You don't know me, and I don't know you, but I want you to publish my book. It's an anti-quest YA fantasy quest book of just over 61,000 words. I have three degrees in English, and I've been teaching English at the college level for years, so I think I know what the hell I'm doing when it comes to writing. I mean, you have got to read this novel.
If I haven't bored you so far with all the nitpicky details, I'd like to talk about the plot now. It starts off with a real downer, where Thomas, the novel's fifteen-year-old main character, loses his mom to cancer. Yeah, I know, it might keep people from reading, but at her death bed her brother Ian shows up out of the blue, and it turns out both he and his nephew have special abilities. Weird, huh? Anyway, after Thomas's mom dies, Ian and some other weird guy kidnap Thomas and take him across the country to some weird school.
Thomas goes through all sorts of adventures, from learning to kick a football to flirting with girls to being a wallflower at a dance to reading the bible in Latin without learning how... well, all sort of adventures, like I said. He keeps having these awful nightmares, too, and he faints like twenty times. Real powerful stuff. Finally he nearly dies trying to fix a cursed ghost portal, and it's really dramatic, especially when he doesn't die, but his arm is burned. You gotta check it out!
If you don't want to read this book, fine. You just don't know what you're missing. And don't try sending some polite "we just aren't looking for this kind of book at this time" sort of letter, since I'll only send an irate one back. Your loss, I say.
This Aspiring Writer
What do you think? Awesome, huh? Brilliant! Just the right attitude, with a bunch of meaning and a little bit of sass. Almost as fantastic as my novel.
You can write in feedback if you want to, but I won't take it. I'm very defensive as a writer.
Friday, September 9, 2011
I was rushing home from a workout, ready for a quick shower and then a good hour or two revising my novel before I had to pick up the kids from school, when what should I, smack dab in the MIDDLE of the road, but a tortoise. And not just a little tortoise, the cute, shiny kind that a five-year-old might put in a shoe box and feed a bit of lettuce now and then.
This was a TORTOISE, with a shell 14 inches wide (that's 35.5 cm, for all of you metric people), a rough, dirty shell, and crusted mud on his shell and head. Here he is:
Only this tortoise wasn't sitting comfortably in a bed of grass as you see here. No, like I said, the goofball was in the MIDDLE OF THE ROAD. And he wasn't moving particularly fast OFF that road, either. Nor was he really crossing it, since he was pointed directly down the road. I suppose he assumed the road had been built for him, so he thought he'd just saunter down the middle of it, taking his sweet time to get wherever he was going.
I, however, have seen far too much roadkill to be satisfied with allowing him to learn his lesson the hard way. I parked the car on the side of the road, and went to retrieve him from his certain demise.
Naturally, he tucked his head and limbs inside his protective shell. What I wasn't prepared for was his throaty hissing. I stepped back a bit, and decided to pick him up facing the tail end (hoping tortoises didn't use defecation as a defense if someone picked them up). That dude was heavy, too! And the ungrateful thing hissed the whole journey, spitting at me like a cat, even kicking out his back legs to try to scratch my arms along the way (he missed).
I set him in the longest grass I could find, at least 15 yards from the road, pointing him towards the woods. He hissed at me again for good measure, just to make sure I knew who was boss. I laughed at him, then ran to get my camera so I could take the picture of him. It took me a good half and hour to find the camera, and he'd moved a good 8 inches by the time I returned. Just as I snapped the picture, a truck with a roaring engine and a king cab truck raced along the road, running over the very spot the tortoise had vacated.
I snapped a few other pictures, then crouched down to say goodbye.
The tortoise greeted me with one more nasty hiss.
"You're welcome," I said.
So there it is. No writing for me. I'd wasted an hour away--most of it spent finding my stupid camera--so I contented myself with unloading the dishes and vacuuming before picking up the kids. I have plans to write today, however, so long as I have no more wild, ungrateful lives to save from death.
Monday, September 5, 2011
There, I've said it! It's out in the open, and I'm not taking it back. I'm working happily on my first novel, loving every moment of it, and the voices in my head that would normally be telling me what a waste of time it is are silent as the dead. Maybe they are dead. Maybe they are just taking Labor Day off.
I don't really care where they are, or what they're doing, or why they are strangely silent.
In their blessed absence, I'm off and writing. And writing and writing.
Believe me, though, when those voices come back, I'll be sure to visit and let you know. Until then, may you be blessed as I am today, with both time and silence.
Sunday, September 4, 2011
Friday, August 26, 2011
Sunday, August 21, 2011
Sunday, August 14, 2011
Saturday, August 13, 2011
Sunday, August 7, 2011
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
I've got a whole list of other books I'm waiting to read, too, including the rest of this series (I'm now halfway through book 2, HOW TO BE A PIRATE). I also want to reread all my SHINOBI LIFE books my sister sent me, along with a whole list of books other people have been recommending to me for years. Anything to keep from writing again!
I know what you're thinking, though. "If I read, I won't have time to write. And writing is the most precious thing in the whole wide world to me." Then again, if you're here, reading this awful blog post, you aren't writing either. And wouldn't you want to read something better?
So many writers don't do it, though, for OH so many reasons:
1. That thing I said before--it will take precious time from their own writing. (And they've already cut out exercise, eating, and sleeping.)
2. Nothing compares to the brilliance of their own writing, so when they read some published book they find themselves repeatedly disappointed in the author's lack of talent.
3. Reading just gets their panties in a wad because such a craptacular book was published, while their manuscript remains unnoticed and rejected, even though it's infinitely better.
4. They fear they might like something in another book and accidently imitate it. And their ideas must be original or they aren't real writers.
5. They've misplaced their Kindle, and nobody reads real paper books anymore. Do they even sell real paper books anymore? Maybe at Goodwill, or something, but that is way too low class for a real writer.
6. They can't afford it. Every spare penny goes to copying and sending manuscripts by snail mail. Or alcohol.
7. Reading might make them forget, even for a moment, how miserable they are as writers, and true writers are never truly happy. Alcoholics, maybe. Happy? Never.
So, I guess I'm not a real writer. I don't even have the alcoholic thing down, dammit. I'd wallow here, of course, and make this blog entry twice as long, but you don't want to read that.
Come to think of it, I don't want to read that.
I'll just comfort myself with a good book instead. And maybe I'll learn how to be a pirate while I'm at it, thanks to Cressida Cowell.