Sunday, August 28, 2011

HP Quilt- Firebolt

I'm going out of town on vacation and I'm not bringing my laptop because I don't think I'll use it enough to justify bringing it. I am bringing a notebook, pens and my current draft so I can write if I find a coffee shop to sit and write in. To keep you entertained in my absence here is another square from the HP quilt.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Theater Thursdays- Writing lesson from Theater

Tech Week

I’m sure I’ve talked about my glamorous life in theater before. Theater and writing go hand and hand for me. So I’m thinking on Theater Thursdays I might share with some wisdom that I’ve learned backstage that I apply to writing.

While reading people’s RTW posts yesterday I was surprised when people talked about days when they only write 200 words as being bad writing days.

It made me think of Tech Week. For non-theater people tech week is the grueling process of adding the tech elements (lights, sounds, scenery, costumes) to a play one line, movement, transition, scene at a time.

Some days we make it through 20 minutes of the play in 5 hours. It might take us a whole 10 hour day to get through one act of the play. But then there are scenes that fly right through. You’ll be crawling through the show at a snail’s pace and then the next set of transitions fly through at what feels like normal speed. The more elements and people involved the slower the process. Bringing all the elements together takes time. It’s like a dance; every actor and technician has to be in the right place at the right time for things to run smoothly.

It reminds me of writing. Maybe there are scenes in a story that can only be written in 200 word chunks but then there are other passages really fly. Honor both because work is work and writing is writing even if it comes 200 words at a time. Look at the scenes that are hard to write. Do they involve a lot of elements? (characters, scenery, action) Take the time to fit the pieces together even if it happens 200 words, 500 words, 1000 words at a time.

Does your day job teach you lessons about writing?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

RTW-Cures for Writer's Block

This week YA Highway's Road Trip Wednesday topic is:

How do you beat writer's block? Do you go for a jog? Read a book? Go to a movie? Come on, share your secret--we're dying to know!

If I'm stuck on an idea I go for a walk. I live next door to a beautiful park with a lake in the middle. This is where I walk and while I walk I try to think about my writing project and how I can make it better.

Sometimes the best cure for writers block is writing. I take my notebook and a book with writing prompts outside and find a place to sit in the park or at the coffee shop and write. Writing about something else can help me get unstuck. It gets the words flowing again and eventually I feel ready and excited to return to my project.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Neil Gaiman takes over the radio

Last night I listened to Neil Gaiman on 89.3 The Current's Theft of the Dial

Basically, Theft of the Dial is a show when someone awesome comes in and takes over the radio controls for an hour and plays their song choices.

They give reasons for choosing certain songs and may even tell a story especially if the song mentions them.

If you are a Neil fan you'll love this. If you are a writer you will love this.

I listened to the whole thing because I am both a Neil Gaiman fan and a writer. The section before the first song is when he talks the most about writing.

For example. Why does he have a super awesome blog and why does he tweet and stuff? Because he enjoys it. Not because he has to. He reminds writers to write good books because the thing people will remember about you is not that you had an awesome blog or that you had the best tweets they will remember the books.

He also talks about the biography he wrote about Duran Duran. The lesson he learned from this experience about writing for money versus writing what he wanted is pretty valuable.

If you are reading this right now saying "OMG I can't believe I missed this program" don't worry. You can stream it here.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A song to deal with rejection letters

Rejection letters should not be allowed to arrive on the weekends. I think this holds even more true with email. Weekends should be awesome and rejection letter free especially summer weekends.

Getting rejection letters makes me think of this song.

But you know what's a great remedy for rejection letters? Ice cream. Not just any ice cream but ginger ice cream from Sebastian Joe's eaten outside on a summer evening in the park watching what can best be described as a chick flick. That makes things better.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Reflections on WriteOnCon

I spent the last three days at WriteOnCon.

I went to WriteOnCon last year but I mostly just read what was on the main page and didn't really spend much time in the forums.

This year was different. This year I posted some of my writing in the forums. I gave feedback on other people's writing and I got feedback on my writing.

I love my writing group and I don't think my group wants to protect my feelings but after reading the story for two years they are very close to the story. Putting my words out there for conference attendees to read meant new fresh feedback.

Reading other people's stories meant seeing the level of work others are writing. I confess I thought my story was the best it could be but after reading other picture books that were similar in subject matter to mine and others that were different but from mine completely I realize I still have more work to do.

There were moments of insecurity reading the feedback but I'm returning to page with new determination. Is there a place for this in the market? How can I make my mc, a guide dog puppy, more relatable? How can I add more conflict and still present some of the information? I also entered my pb manuscript in a contest through The Loft where I take writing classes. If I win (fingers crossed) the prize is a day long revision class with a published author. Win or lose I've got my thinking cap on and I'm looking at ways this story can be improved. I'm determined to look at my work with new eyes and do some Re-Vision.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

RTW- Around the World

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributorspost a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on our own blogs.

What is the most inspiring setting you've ever visited in real life?

The most inspiring setting I've visited is London.

Sometimes books written by writers from across the pond make me jealous. It seems kind of magical to live in a place full of underground tunnels, small alleyways, princes and princesses.
When I think of London I feel like there could be places like Diagon Alley tucked into a hole in the wall.
When I visited London I loved taking the walking tours. The Shakespeare/Dickens one was a favorite and I also like the Jack the Ripper tour.

For quieter inspiration I like Madeline Island. It is an Island in Lake Superior and you can get there by ferry from Bayfield, Wisconsin. Sitting on the beach on Big Bay you can almost forget that you are not on some remote island in the ocean. There are beautiful views and it is easy to find the quiet of nature but also the fun carefree island life as well.

My close to home inspiration is Minnehaha Falls and Fort Snelling State Park. It is an escape in the city and I go there when I need to recharge. Minnehaha Falls has a waterfall and a statue of Hiawatha and Minnehaha.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Triathlons and WriteOnCon

Yesterday my mom and I competed in a triathlon.
It was the YWCA Women's triathlon. Women from age 14 to age 78 competed. It was an amazing, beautiful event.

I am in vacation mode but also thinking about revisions for the next draft of my novel.

I'm also looking forward to WriteOnCon starting tomorrow.

One of the coolest things about WriteOnCon is that it is so accessible. There is really no excuse not to sign up and attend. I've been to conferences so I know they are awesome but sometimes the job that currently pays the bills isn't always flexible. WriteOnCon is great because it takes that it's-really-hard-for-me-to-get-time-off-from-work excuse away. Check it out because it might work for other excuses such as I-can't-afford-to-go-to-a-conference (it's free) or I-can't-leave-my-family-for-a-weekend.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Friday Fives- Author's I'd Love to Meet

Paper Hangover asks the question- What five authors you're dying to meet.

5. Laura Ingalls Wilder- I grew up in the midwest. I live a thirty minute drive away from the Big Woods. When I was a kid I remember the people from the Laura Ingalls Wilder museum came to school when we were reading the books. The thing I remember hearing about Laura was that she was always taking off her bonnet because she wanted to be able to see the world around her and she grew up to be a writer.

4. Rachel Cohn- I really loved the Gingerbread books. I read Gingerbread when it first came out. Cyd is such a cool character. I loved writing and knew that I wanted to write. But these books made me want to be a writer even more.

3. Neil Gaiman- I love everything I've read by Neil. Sometimes I cry at the end of Gaiman's books because I'm sad the story is over. There was crying at the end of The Sandman, Neverwhere and The Graveyard Book.

2. Stephen King- A favorite author. I loved his book On Writing. Would love to hang out with him and talk about writing.

1. J. K. Rowling- I would love to meet her. If I was going to meet her I'd have to show her the Harry Potter Quilt I'm making.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Small roles

I'm starting to get feedback coming in from my draft. Overall it has improved from my previous draft and I'm starting to think about my rewrite.
One problem I'm still having is distinguishing my MCs friends from one another and also making them all important to the story. So I'm thinking about them today and making sure I know their motivations and arc through the story.

In order to think about these small characters I've turned to Shakespeare. In the play Romeo and Juliet there is the character Balthazar. The role isn't a very large role. He's listed as a servant of the house of Montague. In a lot of productions the actor playing Balthazar ends up in scenes with Romeo and his friends Benvolio and Mecrutio.

Balthazar may not have as many lines as Benvolio or Mecrutio but he's important to the story. Balthazar is the one who brings Romeo the news that Juliet is dead. He races to Romeo before the letter from the Friar explaining that Juliet isn't really dead arrives.

I've seen productions where Balthazar appears a little younger than the other guys in Romeo's crew. Like he's trying to hang out with this older, cooler crowd of party crashing guys. Even though his role is small he is important to the action of the story.

So as I'm thinking about the group of friends that surround my MC I'm trying to make sure they are all distinct and important to the story and not just a way to get facts out. I'm trying to make sure their motivations and arcs are clear.

What are your favorite examples of minor characters in books?

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Tools of the trade- Note cards

One of my favorite tools is the 3 X 5 note card with a small file holder.

I learned this tip in a writing class I took a couple years ago.
I write tidbits about characters and plot on the cards.
The small index sized file holder is great for keeping the ideas organized. Some people might prefer a small recipe holder but I like these little file pouches because they are easy to take anywhere plus you can stock up on them in the dollar section at Target.
Each character gets their own section in the pocket file. Jot down different ideas about plot and subplots and keep those organized as well.

I love this tool for the beginning of the writing process when I'm getting tons of new ideas about all my characters.

What are some of your favorite tools for writing?

Monday, August 01, 2011

Happy 30th MTV

I was working on a post about how revising is like a fitting room but then I turned on the radio and the DJs were talking about how MTV turns 30 today.

Even though I was young when MTV first hit the airwaves it was a big part of my childhood. Believe it or not MTV was a big deal when it first aired but not everyone had cable back then and not everyone was allowed to watch MTV even if they had cable.

News of our MTV spread through the neighborhood teenagers faster than news of a house giving out full size candy bars at Halloween. There was never a shortage of teenagers who wanted to babysit my sibs and I.

My parents weren't the type of people who worried about TVs effect on me so I'm not sure they would have cared about the amount of MTV I watched when I was young.

My mom got remarried to someone who believed MTV was bad. Fortunately I taught my stepdad how to "block" MTV and VH1 by removing the channel from the lineup using the remote. The channel was still there and could easily be accessed by pressing the channel number on the remote. We were both happy because he thought MTV was blocked and I still had my MTV.

What are your memories of MTV? Were you allowed to watch MTV? If you weren't did you watch it anyway?