Saturday, April 30, 2011

Z is for Zumba

Z is for Zumba

I frequently take Dance Breaks. One of my Co-workers calls me Dance Party because of my dance breaks. My current favorite dance break is Just Dance 2 on the Wii.
Right now I'm not allowed to buy new dance video games for my wii because I have too many. But when I lift this ban I'm getting the Zumba game for my wii.

Do you take Zumba? What is your favorite thing about Zumba?

Friday, April 29, 2011

Y is Yoga

Y is for Yoga

This is where I learn acceptance for myself.
See I'm not a naturally bendy person. Seriously when I was a kid I could punish at all the elements of the Presidential Fitness test except for the dreaded Sit and Reach. I couldn't even reach the lines with the numbers on them. I blame this on my long legs, my short torso and what I believe to be short hamstrings.

Flash forward to adulthood. I took Yoga classes at my Y but I was never that excited about it. I would be happily hit the snooze button and skip yoga class. But that changed. I got in a car accident and I had to trade my running workouts for yoga. I stopped skipping my yoga class and I even added yoga to my life at home using the Wii Fit.

Yoga is great for writers. We spend days hunched over a computer. Yoga can give those muscles a break.
Here are my tips for yoga
1. There is no prize on the floor.
2. Don't compare yourself to other people. Sometimes I close my eyes during poses so I don't look at other people.
3. Find someone in the class who is at your level. When I need to modify I look to one of the 65 year old men in the room for modifications.
4. Try out different teachers/styles. If your gym offers yoga it is probably taught by different teachers throughout the week. Different teachers have different teaching styles. There are also different styles of yoga.
5. Accept yourself.

If you want to try some yoga check out some of these resources.
YogiChocolate download yoga classes, donation based.
Yoga Journal a yoga magazine. A great way to learn more about poses and yoga practice
My Yoga Studio- a yoga workout on your Kindle

My favorite Yogi

Do you practice yoga? Has it helped you with your writing?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

X is for Xanadu

This is all I have. I am thisclose to finishing draft three of my WIP. This is the version I'm sending to my writing group for feedback.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

W is for Wild Rumpus

W is for Wild Rumpus.
This is my favorite children's bookstore in Minneapolis. See the door? It is actually two doors. The purple door is for kid sized people and kids at heart who can duck to fit through. The big door is for grown ups.

"Where are the chickens?"
That is what kids say when they walk in.
Why? Because in addition to an amazing selection of books for kids The Wild Rumpus is home to some chickens, manx cats, rats, lizards, and a chinchilla.

I didn't see the cats today but I did see the chickens. Here a chicken browses the crafty book section. I also encountered a chicken in the YA section.

I'm a sucker for pets at bookstores. In college I frequented a bookstore that had two cats, Hardback and Softie. My friend who owns The Haunted Bookshop in Iowa City also has store cats.

Chinchilla at Wild Rumpus

Chinchilla I made for Master Butcher's Singing Club Quilt

YA fans don't fear. They have a great selection of all the books you love. I even saw some hard covers in the 50% off section. They have a small used book section where you can score books for $1.00. I managed to get Gregor and the Code of the Claw by Suzanne Collins.

The cave at the right is where they keep the "scary" books. Vampires, ghosts and other scary things live in there. Be sure to look through the window on the floor because a pair of rats makes their home here too.

Other purchases include The Ruby Key by Holly Lisle. I borrowed this book from a friend but enjoyed it so much I wanted my own copy. There is a second book in the series as well and I hear she is working on the third book.

I also bought Julia Gillian (and the Dream of the Dog) by Alison McGhee. Julia lives in the uptown area of Minneapolis. In one illustration in this book she is wearing a Minnesota Twins jersey. I love seeing this area of the city through Julia's eyes.

W is also for writing which is what I need to do now.

What is your favorite book store? Does your favorite bookstore have pets?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

V is for Veronica Mars

V is for Veronica Mars

Veronica Mars is one of my favorite TV shows. It only ran for three seasons which is a bummer but you can watch all those seasons on Netflix which rocks.
Veronica is the daughter of Neptune's former sheriff who now runs his own Private Investigation business after he lost the election.
Veronica's best friend was murdered. Like her father she doesn't believe the man convicted of the murder actually did it.
In between trying to solve the mystery of her best friend's murder Veronica solves mysteries for fellow students at Neptune High.

Fans of Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden and the Maggie Quinn, Girl vs. Evil books will like Veronica.

Here's what I learned watching Veronica Mars.
1. Suspense. There are some pretty suspenseful moments in this show. Thank goodness for Netflix so I don't have to wait a week for the next episode.
2. Tension. This show is full of tension.
3. Plot and subplot. Basically the structure of these seasons is that there is one big mystery to solve each school year but then there are little mysteries uncovered along the way. Even when she is tracking down a her classmate's lost dog she we are usually reminded at some point in the episode of the bigger mystery. We always know Veronica wants to solve the big mystery even as she's solving smaller mysteries on the side. Sometimes it is easy to lose sight of what a character wants when dealing with subplots. But that doesn't happen in this show.
4. Always watch what other characters are doing. Veronica is observant. When writing a scene observe the scene like you are solving a mystery. What are all the characters doing? Is anything out of place or does anyone's behavior seem funny? Show that.
5. Not everything is what it seems.

What is your favorite TV show? Has it made you a better writer?

Monday, April 25, 2011

U is for Unicorns

U is for Unicorns.

The first "book" I wrote was in second grade. It was written on construction paper with a wallpaper cover and yarn binding. Not only did I write it I illustrated it too. It was about a space traveling unicorn who had to leave her planet.

My mom found it when she was moving and now it is in my possession.

The awesome thing about this, despite the fact that it is funny as hell to read now that I'm a grown up, is that I have some proof that yes I've been writing forever.

Troll vs unicorn

But more awesome than that is the person who encouraged me to write. Miss Johnson, my second grade teacher. The books were her idea. We also made one for Easter but I can't find that one. She read to us aloud every day. It was in Miss Johnson's class that I first met Charlotte and Wilber, Mrs. Frisby, Ramona Quimby and the gang.
Besides that she encouraged creativity.

Her encouragement was the foundation of a lifelong love of reading and writing.

I teach at a theater camp in the summer and I try to encourage the way Miss Johnson did. A lot of kids think they're bad at art/crafts. I encourage them that there is no bad art in my class. Everything is an expression of who they are. Eventually even the kids who think they are bad at art get into the project. If you ever have the chance to teach kids art, theater, or writing make sure you encourage them as much as possible. You never know who may grow up to be a writer, artist, musician, actor.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Happy Easter

Happy Easter.

My friend Elise made an Easter Basket made out of bacon. Check it out on her blog, Elise's Kitchen

Here are the results of the Pioneer Press Peep Diorama contest.

If you still haven't had enough of the marshmallowy goodness check out the Washington Post Peep Show V

T is for Thanks, Ties and Theater

T is for Thanks, Ties and Theater

First of all Thanks to everyone who has become a follower on my blog in the last month. Thank you for all the comment and for just being awesome. Thank you to Arlee Bird, Jeffrey Beesler, Alex J. Cavanaugh, Jen Daiker, Candace Granger, Karen J. Gowen, Talli Roland, and Stephen Tremp for hosting this challenge. It has been great so meet so many new bloggers.

Tying the Knot: The Sharp Dresser's Guide to Ties and Handkerchiefs
T is for Tying up loose ends.
I'm nearing the end of my revision (for this draft anyway) so I am busy tying up the loose ends in my story. As Chekov put it- If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise don't put it there. In my case there are no actual guns in my story but there is a holiday, a trophy and a report card that still need to be dealt with.

T is for Theater
I work in theater so I listen to plays all day at work. If it has been forever since you've gone to see a play make a trip to a theater. Learn from the masters like Shakespeare, Chekov, Miller, Wilson and even Shaw how to tell a story. A lot of quality theater have more affordable rush line tickets. Check out your theater's box office to see how that works.

What has been the best part of the A-Z challenge for you? Do you have a favorite play or playwright?

Friday, April 22, 2011

S is for Story

S is for Story and Stock Your Library Blogfest

I work at a theater. Sometimes the actors grumble. Maybe the attendance is low or whatever. When this happens I tell them "Just tell the story"
This usually gets a laugh because they hear it so often.
It is good advice for writers too. Just tell the story.

S is also for the Stock Your Library Blogfest hosted by Tamara Hart Heiner at Chasing Dreams
This is a super easy blogfest to participate in. Sign up. Then suggest a title for your library to stock and then share which book you suggested.

I requested my library stock Tamara's book, Perilous. I picked this book because I enjoyed reading it and because my library didn't have it in stock. I follow a lot of author blogs and it is great to see my library stocks so many books by authors I follow in the blogosphere. But my library didn't have Tamara's book and I thought that should be fixed.

In addition to making this request I made a donation to my library. The economy is slow and more people are using the library. I also felt like I needed to celebrate the fact that my Kindle will soon be able to get ebooks from the library.

What book do you want your library to stock? How do you remember to tell the story in your writing?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

R is for Revision

R is for Revision.

I'm in the middle of a revision.
I'm so excited about this version because some things have changed in my story. Some situations have gotten less confusing. Certain characters have grown.

I like to turn to the book Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass. It is full of exercises to make characters more dimensional, scenes more tense and meaningful.

When I'm writing I remember this tip from a writing conference I went to.

Re Vision
New/again Look/see

Revision isn't about finding all the misspellings, adverbs and poor sentence structure. It is about looking at the work with a new, fresh view.

Confession: I enjoy the revision process.

Do you like revising?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Q is for Questions

Q is for Questions and Quaker Oats

When I first started taking writing classes one of the first exercises we did was to ask our character a list of questions.
This is still one of my favorite exercises.
It is important to answer the questions as your character would answer them not how you would answer them.
Don't just ask you main character questions. Ask your character's best friend, ask your character's worst enemy.
Parents, siblings?
Pets? What pet would you really want to have?
What do you want the most?
What stops you from getting what you want?
What is in your pocket?
What is your biggest fear?

When you are stuck in your writing ask your character more questions.
When you meet a new person you ask questions. Treat new characters who come into your life the same way. Ask them every possible question you can think of. What does their room look like? What is in their desk at school?

Q is also for Quaker Oats. I went to Coe College in Cedar Rapids. Nestled between a Quaker Oats factory and a Purina factory Coe was full of interesting smells. Some days it smelled like dog food. Usually it smelled like oatmeal. But some days it smelled like Cap'n Crunch. It could never be a bad day if it smelled like Cap'n Crunch.
Today is Coe's 100th Flunk Day. A day designated for skipping classes. Definitely a good day. A Cap'n Crunch day.
Coe has a great song to motivate writers.
At old Coe College in Cedar Rapids
We Sling-a Da Ink and push-a da pen along.
Sling-a Da ink (Sling-a da ink)
Push-a da pen (push-a da pen)
Sling-a da ink and push-a da pen along.

My wish for everyone this wonderful Flunk Day, if you are a Kohawk or if you've never heard of Coe before and you still confuse Iowa with Ohio and Idaho. May you celebrate flunk day by slinging the ink and pushing the pen along.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

P is for Plot, photos and peeps

P is for Plot

Yesterday The Guthrie Theater announced their 2011-2012 season. One of the plays in the season is a play called Hay Fever Noel Coward. This play was written in three days and has no central plot. Hearing this play described got me thinking about plot.

Plot is an important part of a story. Plot is the action of the story. Put interesting characters in the mix and you end up with a good story. I like to think about plot. Characters can sometimes drive plot. Curious George creates a plot by being curious. Other times plot can show who characters really are. It can drive our character to make choices. In The Hunger Games Katniss has to make a lot of choices in order to survive.

Do your characters drive the plot of your story or does the plot drive your character?

P is also for photography. My friend Jenn is starting a daily photo blog. Welcome her to the blog world. I suggested the idea of a photo blog after her facebook post looking for things to do this summer.

P is a great day for Peeps.

More photos here

Monday, April 18, 2011

O is for One word, One page

O is for One word, one page at a time.

Have you ever run? If not lace up your shoes and go outside and run for about 10-20 minutes. Go ahead. I'll wait. Experienced runners read on or just go out and run for fun.


Now that you're back answer this question. How do you feel?
A) Great. I'm signing up for a marathon right now.
B) Not to bad. Maybe I should do a couch to 5k program.
C) My lungs are burning. My legs feel like Jell-o. Is this what dying feels like?

If you've never run before you probably feel like C.
Running a marathon takes a lot of steps. There are a lot of steps to run before clicking the "Register" button on the marathon sign up page and even more steps after.

Writing is like this. As writers we get an awesome idea. We write the first chapter of our work of genius. Sometimes before we even finish the beginning of a story or get a word on paper we begin thinking about finding an agent, pitching an idea, writing a trilogy/series, buying a new awesome laptop to fit in with the other writers, how much J. K. Rowling, Stephanie Meyer, Stephen King and Suzanne Collins made, how soon until the advance comes, how big will the advance be, can I direct the movie version of my book.

All these things are things a writer shouldn't worry about until much later in the process. There are a lot of steps before we get to hit the "send" button on our manuscript and even more steps before we sign a contract for one book. As writers we need to write. One word, one page, one draft, one revision at a time. Worrying about writing a trilogy/series, how to spend an advance, directing the movie version of a book is like signing up for a marathon when you feel like your lungs are going to explode.

How do you remember to take writing one word, one page, one revision at a time?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

N is for Nightwalker

N is for Nightwalker.
This is what those of us who work at night at my job call ourselves. When many people are getting finished with work I am heading to work.
For a long time I wanted to be a Daywalker. I actually thought I couldn't write unless I had a day job. I pictured myself going to day job, working 8 hours, coming home, working on writing.
Um that would never happen. I realize now that if I worked at a day job I would come home and be too exhausted to write.
Instead I have my days to write, take writing classes, meet with my writers group. I go to work in the evenings. I work in theater so I am surrounded by storytelling and amazing people.

What I learned from this experience is not to make excuses in writing. I believed I couldn't write unless my life was a certain way but really I had a great job that allowed me to work on my writing. I just had to see it that way.

People sometimes wait for the perfect time to write. Maybe it is when kids go back to school or when the perfect job comes along or the perfect idea hits. My advice is Stop Waiting and Start Writing.

Does anything hold you back from writing? What is your advice for getting past excuses to start writing?

Friday, April 15, 2011

M is for Minneapolis

M is for Minneapolis.

I am proud to call Minneapolis my home. I root for the home town team, The Minnesota Twins.
Sometimes as a writer I wish I lived someplace cooler. Sometimes I wish I lived in London, a world full of boy wizards, wardrobes that lead to new worlds, an underground world. Some days I read books set in NYC and I wish I lived there.

I owe a lot of who I am as a writer to Minneapolis. This city(and her twin St. Paul) is filled with inspiration (bike paths, state parks, beautiful river views, museums, zoos, theaters, fun quirky neighborhoods) and resources for writers.

Here is a list of resources for writers in Minneapolis and the Twin Cities
The Loft Literary Center- classes, workshops, rent your own quiet writing studio.
The Kerlan Collection- Pick your favorite children's author from the list and see how their work went from rough draft to finished product.
Hamline MFA in Writing for Children- they also have lecture passes and options to sample the program.
The Split Rock Arts Program- run by the University of Minnesota. Offers classes for writers and other artists. Some classes in Cloquet and some in the Twin Cities.
Madeline Island School of the Arts (four hours away from Minneapolis. A wonderful writers retreat)
There are also classes offered through community ed and last summer I noticed poetry classes offered at the Rose Gardens at Lake Harriet.

Since Minnesota is home to such great writing resources it is no surprise that Minnesota is home to great writers as well.
Here are some of my favorites.
Alison McGhee- some of her books are set in Minneapolis. I love reading about her characters adventures in Uptown.
Lynne Jonell- I love her Emmy and the Rat series.
Christina Rodriguez- illustrator
Marsha Qualey- a couple of her books, Just Like That and One Night are set in Minneapolis.

This is just a start. If you live in the Twin Cities be sure to check out these resources. If you've only flown over Minnesota before you are totally missing out. You should visit and check out some of what we offer for writers.

If you are still looking for a way to celebrate Library Week sign up for Tamara Heiner's Stock your Library Blogfest.

How has where you live influenced you as a writer?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

L is for Library

L is for Library

I used to live within walking distance of a Barnes and Noble. That was dangerous. Fortunately I discovered if I walked a little farther I was also within walking distance of a library. (I've spent a lot of my life within walking distance of libraries. I am Lucky)

When I decided to get serious about writing I thought I had to have a degree that said I was qualified to write. This was silly to think but I live near Hamline and they have an MFA in Writing for Children so you can see where the confusion would come from. (I'm not saying anything bad about MFAs. If I had more money I would want one too.)

I am truly lucky to live in the same city as The Loft Literary Center. A wonderful place for writers to take classes and learn more about the craft. I take classes here but would often get discouraged if I couldn't find a class to fit my need/ interests.

If I couldn't take classes and didn't have a fancy degree then how could I write a book?

It turns out what I needed was something I'd had since I was in first grade. My library card.
I was no stranger to the library. I spent my teen years there since I was on the debate team. Besides books the library also had music. I loved my library's CD's. It was here I discovered The Replacements and other music that was awesome.

I started visiting my library again. Over the next couple years I checked out books from the Children's, middle grade and YA section. I also checked out books on writing. Every trip to the library I made my way back to the writing section for a new book. These books were free. This knowledge was free.
I didn't let the fact that I wasn't in class or couldn't afford to go back to school for an MFA stop me from learning.
I realized that there were a lot of opportunities for learning and I just had to grasp them. I joined SCBWI. I go to workshops. I read. I follow blogs. I read.(yeah I know I said that twice) I write. I visit my library. I follow blogs. I read. I embrace any opportunity I can to learn.

Library cards are more awesome than you can imagine. Go here to see all the awesome things you can do with your library card.

It's National Library Week this week. Celebrate by visiting your local library. They have more than books there. They have DVD's, music, magazines and puppets.

Did you know that more and more people are using libraries these days? At most libraries $25 buys a book. Support your library and the authors you love. Give to your library.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

K is for Kindle

I got a Kindle for Christmas and I love it. It is the best present ever.

Am I responsible for the death of bookstores? No. I still go to bookstores too but I admit that I've bought more books on my Kindle than I would have purchased from bookstores.

Is there anything I don't like about the Kindle? I buy a lot of YA and Middle Grade books. When I'm finished with those books sometimes I want to keep them but if I don't then I donate them so they will get into the hands of kids. Sometimes I just give them to kids I know who I think will like them. I can't do this with the Kindle. I think I can lend it once to another Kindle owner for a limited amount of time.

But I love emailing myself manuscripts and reading them on the Kindle.

I want a sign that says Will work for Amazon gift cards. That way I could afford to buy all the books I want to buy.

But if you don't have $10.99 to spend on every book you want to read here are some of my tips for saving money and still fill your Kindle.

1. Follow your favorite authors/publishing houses. Sometimes when and author is releasing a new book a previous book may be available free for a limited time.
Right now Wings by Aprilynne Pike is available for free.
So is 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

2. There are a lot of books out there that are less than $10.99. For example the self-published books by Amanda Hocking are around $2.99.
Other books I recently downloaded that didn't cost $10.99 include,
Earthling Hero by Anita Laydon Miller, this book was 99 cents. Can't beat that price.
CassaStar by Alex J. Cavanaugh. Alex is one of the hosts of this awesome A to Z challenge and the Kindle version of this book is $2.95. Go get it now.
Perilous by Tamara Hart Heiner is available for $2.99.

3. Swap Kindle books with other Kindle owners. Do you have friends who own Kindles who read the same books at you? Talk to them about swapping books.

4. Set up your bank account so that all your money automatically goes to Amazon then buy as many books as you want.

5. Rotate your reading. Read one book on the Kindle followed by a paper book. I've been doing this because I have a big pile of paper books to read. This helps ease the guilt of killing bookstores.

6. Add Kindle books to your wish list. I have a friend who only shops online. If you want a gift from her you better have an Amazon wish list filled out. Do you have friends like Pril in your life? You better fill your Wish List full of Kindle books just in case.

Do you have an e-reader? Any tips for owning an e-reader?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

J is for Joy

J is for Joy

One of my favorite books on writing is Take Joy by Jane Yolen.
We writers are a dramatic bunch. We talk about the blood, sweat and tears that go into finding the perfect words. We wake up every day facing a blank page. We struggle with writers block. We try to find balance between writing and our real lives.
Take Joy was recommended by a friend who is in the Hamline MFA in Writing for Children Program. She had to read if to school and she told those of us in her writing group about it. I may never be able to afford to get an MFA from Hamline but I can always buy books.
This book reminds writers that it isn't all about bleeding onto the paper and struggling with writers block and endless rejections. We really write because it brings us joy. Or that is why I write. I really couldn't imagine a life where I didn't write.
This book is full of great advice for writers. Advice like write everyday. My favorite piece of advice from this book is about elevating a story from real life. About letting the story have its own life instead of the life we want it to have.

Why do you write? How do you keep the joy in your writing?

Monday, April 11, 2011

I is for If

I is for If or What if..
Remember when you were a kid and you asked this question. What if... This could be followed by something awesome that you thought up in your imagination or maybe it would be followed by a concern.
An awesome, imaginative What if...
What if my favorite baseball player hits a home run and the bases are loaded and he hits the ball so far it goes to the moon so the Twins just get to keep running the bases until they score a million points.

Or a more concerned What if...
What if the game is sold out and we can't get tickets?

I think writers and all artists really ask this question every day. What if my character does this? What if my character walks down that street? What if my character encounters a bear? What if vampires went to high school?

This is the fun part of writing. We get to answer all these what if's with our imagination. We put our characters in crazy, wacky, awesome, funny, scary situations in order to answer the question of what if.

Besides the What If's in our writing/art we all have our own set of what ifs.
Sometimes these are the things we worry about and sometimes they are the cool things we imagine for ourselves.
What if no one likes what I wrote? What if all the people who say they like what I wrote are just lying? What if everyone loves what I wrote? What if I sell a book? What if I become a super famous author and can't go out in public without being mobbed by my adoring fans?

What is your character's What if today? What is yours?

P.S Tomorrow is the last day to vote for my Peep Diorama. What if I lose to a Justin Bieber diorama? Will I hang up my glue gun forever? No, I'll just start planning next year's diorama which I hope will include foam core.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

H is for Harry Potter

My old roommate was mistaken for Harry Potter at the Liquor Store last night. Once someone very seriously asked if they could see his scar. So I thought I'd share this video. I'm totally excited for July 15.

Friday, April 08, 2011

G is for Great Beginnings

A Great beginning.
Last year I went to a conference and editors read and commented on first pages. What worked, what didn't. What surprised me, even in that small selection, was how similar some of the beginnings were.
Just in that small selection a couple started with the first day of school. Imagine how many submissions a day an editor reads that start the same way.
Which got me thinking about successful beginnings. Harry Potter could have started with Harry packing his spell books and wand for the first day of Hogwarts but it doesn't. Harry Potter starts with a description of the Dursley's. We follow Mr. Dursley through his day. We see the strange things he sees. We see what kind of person he is. He's the type of person who sits with his back to the window at work. At the end of the chapter Harry is left on the Dursley's doorstep. He is The Boy Who Lived and we want to know more about him and what makes him different from the Dursley's.
Elvis and Olive by Stephanie Watson starts on the first day of summer vacation. Remember how you looked forward to summer when you were a kid?

When I started revising my WIP I realized I'd fallen into the "First day of school" beginning. I was in denial at first. I said things like "Oh my first day of school is different from all these others. I'm sure mine will stand out."
But I wondered, would it really. If mine was the fifth "first day of school" beginning the editor read that day would they keep reading or would they run screaming from their desk vowing never to read a "first day of school" beginning again?
So I changed it. It's taken me a while to get used to my new beginning but I like it and I think it showcases the characters better than the original first day of school beginning.

Where does your story really start? Does it start three chapters into the book? Does it really start at the homecoming dance or cheerleading tryout or the most important basketball game of the season?

G is also for Ron Gardenhire, AKA Gardy, 2010 AL Manager of the Year. So far the Twins haven't had the greatest beginning of the season. We're 2-4 so it isn't like we're the Red Sox or anything but yesterday the Yankees broke our new second baseman, the day before Home Opener. Bummer. But I'm a Twins fan and I like dramatic beginnings.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

F is for Flaw

F is for Flaws.
Flaws. No one is perfect. No character is perfect either. The need flaws to make them real.
Flaws don't always have to be bad things. You don't have to take your perfect character and make them a shoplifter to make them flawed. Sometimes a good trait can go a little too far and become a flaw. A character who is independent can be too independent to the point where they don't ask for help. A character who is trusting can trust the wrong people.

F is also for Family. I love mine. They are very supportive of my writing. I'm grateful for their encouragement.
Your characters have family too. Even if you are writing a picture book or short story and the family never makes and appearance they are still there. How does that annoying little brother or that perfect older sister affect how your character behaves. What is your character's home life like? How do they fit into their family?

F is for Feel Better-
I'm not feeling very well today so I'm going to rest and relax and hope I can feel more like myself before a busy weekend.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

E is for Exercise

I'm into fitness. I go to the gym enough that the people know my name. I run, swim, bike, swing kettlebells and do circuits.

Writing is a sedentary activity unless you have an awesome treadmill desk. Exercise can keep writers in shape.

Exercise can boost creativity and mood. Even though I exercise almost every day I do not have a perfect body but I still make a daily commitment to exercise. Fitness is a journey. So is writing.

Exercise also boosts confidence. Endorphins are good things. Writer's block, the worst first draft ever and a mailbox full of rejections are a lot easier to take after a three mile run.

Writing exercises can also be helpful to a writer. There is nothing worse than writers block. This is a lot like getting to the gym without a plan of what to do. Rather than face the blank page find a book of writing exercises to get the creative juices flowing. Yesterday I interviewed my character.

Here are some books of writing exercises that I like:
The Pocket Muse : Ideas and Inspiration for Writing - Monica Wood
The Pocket Muse Endless Inspiration: New Ideas for Writing - Monica Wood
Writing the Breakout Novel- Donald Maass
Old Friend from Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir- Natalie Goldberg

Is Exercise a part of your daily routine? What are your favorite writing exercises? Favorite fitness tip?

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

D is for Dedication

We all say it is our dream to be writers. But it takes more than just dreaming to get there. I think it takes Daily writing and Dedication.
Daily writing- Daily may be too far for some but every word, sentence, paragraph, essay, journal entry makes you better. If you want to be in shape you work out every day. If you want to be a writer write daily.
Dedication- Rejection is hard. It may take a year or two for a writer to become a published author or it may take 12 years. That can be a lot of time and rejection letters. Dedication will keep you going.
I've wanted to be a writer for a long time. I took writing classes. I wrote. I submitted. I got rejection letters. I quit writing. I thought I was done with writing. Writing was not done with me. I write. I submit. I get rejections. I keep writing because I am dedicated to a writing life.

State Fair Diorama

Dessa from Doomtree

Monday, April 04, 2011

C is for Coffee Shop

My writer friends who are parents would probably love to switch lives for a day. They could write in my quiet condo with my cats napping nearby.
Having a quiet space to write is great but having good coffee shop to write in is just as important.

Not only do coffee shops provide coffee, tea and other assorted drinks that for some reason almost always taste better than the coffee, tea I make. I think it is because the water is hotter. They care also great places to people watch, listen and meet up with friends.

I also feel accountable in the coffee shop. At the coffee shop there are other people writing or working on laptops. There is the sound of fingers typing, needles knitting and papers being researched or discussed along with the sound of coffee brewing. Being surrounded by other people who are working motivates me to work.

Also coffee shops have scones and sandwiches so if you are writing like crazy and can't stop to make your own lunch they can make it for you.

Here's a link my favorite painting of my neighborhood coffee shop. May Day Cafe

Do you write in coffee shops?

Saturday, April 02, 2011

B is for Bikes and Bacon

As soon as the snow melts and the temps warm up I ditch my car and hit the road in style- on my bike. I live 3 blocks away from a bike path that goes through Minneapolis from suburbia to St. Paul.
Some of the bike events I attend have Bicycle Haiku contests. Here is some bike haiku. *I don't normally write haiku so go easy on me if you are a haiku master*

Sneaker to pedal

Sun shining down on my face

Traveling by bike

Tires on asphalt

Quiet, peaceful, serene, ride

Biking under stars

Vegetarians- the next section includes haiku devoted to bacon.

April brings other things besides the A-Z Challenge. This month is Bacon-fest at one of my neighborhood restaurants The Citizen Cafe. They put bacon in everything. They also have a bacon haiku contest.

Pairs well with chocolate

Good in seven layer bars

Bacon, gateway meat

If you love Peeps or even if you don't please vote for my diorama in the Pioneer Press Peep Diorama contest.

Friday, April 01, 2011

A is for Actors

OK first off Happy Opening Day to all the A-Z Challengers. Also to the 2010 AL Central Division Champs. Happy Opening Day. Win Twins.

I spend a lot of my time around actors. See I'm a wardrobe ninja so I'm usually helping them get ready and doing quick changes.

Actors are a lot like writers and it's because of working with actors every day that I become more confident as a writer.

The actors I work with are amazing. They stand up night after night and tell a story to the audience much like writers do. They bring a character to life just like writers. They use a lot of the same tools like motivation, research, back story(you don't see that part), accents, and quirks to bring a character to life.

Sometimes a director gives them a lot of direction and sometimes a director leaves more choices up to the actor. This is like editors. Everyone has a different style. Some editors will send you back a story with tons of changes while another editor might just ask questions to get a stronger story.

Actors also deal with rejection. In order to get a role actors audition and hope for a call back. Sometimes they don't get the role, that's like getting a rejection letter.
Some nights the audience loves the show and laughs in all the right places. Sometimes they don't, that is kinda like seeing that someone didn't like your book/story/ blog post.

Most the actors I know don't even read reviews of the show they are in but if they do they always conduct themselves professionally. There is the idea of having a tough skin but if you don't have tough skin don't let that stop you from putting yourself out there just don't seek out the reviews.

A performance is a real, living, changing, thing. Every night the words and actions are the same but there is a different audience. I also think that books are like that. Have you gone back and reread a book that you had to read in high school as an adult. Different parts stand out. Different passages speak to the same reader at different points in the readers life.

Do you work with inspiring people? How do the people you work with inspire your writing?

If you have time please vote for my diorama in the Pioneer Press Peep Diorama contest.