Friday, December 30, 2011

Storyteller's Journey

   Goals - not resolutions - for 2012

Many years ago, on New Year's Eve, my husband and I decided to make goals for the coming year - rather than resolutions. Since that time  these annual goals have had a much higher rate of success than their previous resolutions! So, with that in mind, I decided to make goals specific to my writing career - here they are:

1- Write consistently. Attempt to write 1,000 words a day - five days a week.

2- Send in my MG manuscript, Livvie Biddle, to an agent - no later than April.

3- Do a major rewrite on my picture book, The Scandinavian Santa. Tighten the text as much as possible to reduce the word count.

4- Look in to self publishing the PB as a Storybook. (Even if I reduce the word count - it will still be too high for today's PB market.)

5- Rewrite my MG manuscript, The Tale of Willaby Creek. (This story is one I am very fond of - if I can tighten the text and make a few more changes, I may submit this ms in the Fall.)

6- Rewrite the second book of Livvie Biddle that was thrown on the page during NaNoWriMo!

7- Attend another writers' conference. I would like to attend the SCBWI annual conference in Los Angeles in August. However, the regional SCBWI retreat I attended last October, in Oregon, was a blast!

8- Begin researching for the later stories in my Livvie Biddle series.

9- Continue networking with other writers - both online, and at writer events.

10- Get represented by an agent! If this goal is attained I will be ecstatic. (Notice: I didn't mention getting published in 2012 - I'm too realistic for that! Maybe 2013.)

One reason I have put these goals on my blog for my followers to see, is that it places a bit of self-imposed pressure on me!

Do you have any writer goals, or resolutions, for yourself in 2012?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Monday, December 26, 2011

Bibliophile's Corner

by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Flap Copy description:
Eleven-year-old Marty Preston loves to spend time up in the hills behind his home near Friendly, West Virginia. Sometimes he takes his .22 rifle to see what he can shoot, like some cans lined up on a rail fence. Other times he goes up early in the morning just to sit and watch the fox and deer.

But one summer Sunday, Marty comes across something different on the road just past the old Shiloh schoolhouse - a young beagle - and the trouble begins.

What do you do when a dog you suspect is being mistreated runs away and comes to you? When it's someone else's dog? When the man who owns him has a gun? This is Marty's problem, and he finds it is one he has to face alone. When his situation gets too big for him to handle, things become more frightening still. Marty puts his courage on the line, and discovers in the process that it is not always easy to separate right from wrong. Sometimes, however, you do almost anything to save a dog.

My thoughts:
Shiloh is a middle grade novel set in the back woods of West Virginia. The heart-felt tale deals with the complexities of making difficult choices as an adolescent in an adult world. The plot and character development were somewhat weak and the pace a bit slow for me. However, the insight to the main character's heart was wonderful! Ms. Naylor won the Newbery Medal Award for Shiloh in 1992. I would recommend this book to the young reader who loves animals.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Incredible Inspiration

Public Domain

Merry Christmas!

Thanks to my blogging, twitter, and facebook friends!

May you and yours have a very Happy New Year!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Storyteller's Journey

                Emphasis on Editing

To give myself the best chance of attracting the attention of an agent, I have decided to look in to possibly hiring an editor. Two of my writer friends have already tapped in to the talents of two different literary editors. It seems that with all of the well documented changes in the publishing world, there is another one to add to the mix: Less editing done by agents and publishers; more editing done by the writer prior to submission. (Including hiring a personal editor.) Since I am a pre-published writer, I have very little knowledge of the "good old days" in publishing. However, it seems that in the present book market the traditional publishing house demands a near market-ready manuscript; with the explosion in the number of would-be authors, they can afford to be extremely selective. Most agents are  inundated with submissions and are all too familiar with the demands of the publishers; they too can afford to be very selective. Consequently, the writer must somehow set herself apart from the other enthusiastic and talented writers; having her manuscript edited prior to submission is one possible way to rise to the top of the agent's stack of submissions.

Have you ever employed, or would you employ, a literary editor?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Whimsical Word of the Week

Yuletide -

The Christmas season.

(Period extending from December 24th to January 6th.)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Bibliophile's Corner

by Roald Dahl

Flap Copy description:
Matilda is a genius. Unfortunately her family treats her like a dolt. Her crooked car-salesman father and loud bingo-obsessed mother think Matilda's only talent is as a scapegoat for everything that goes wrong in their miserable lives. But it's not long before the sweet and sensitive child decides to fight back. Faced with practical jokes of sheer brilliance, her parents don't stand a chance.
The "Trunchbull," however, is a different story. Miss Trunchbull, ex-Olympic hammer thrower and headmistress of Matilda's school, has terrorized generations of Crunchem Hall students - and teachers. But when she goes after sweet Miss Honey, the one teacher who believes in Matilda, she goes too far.

My thoughts:
The award-winning author, Roald Dahl, was truly inspired when he wrote the classic - Matilda. The precocious pranks and hilarious humor in this middle-grade novel are woven together with the element of the little guy (little girl, in this case) taking down the big bully. I laughed out loud while reading this wonderful book! I would highly recommend Matilda to readers of all ages.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Incredible Inspiration

Our sons: Brian, Kevin, and David
 A Yuletide Message:

"Remember amidst the blogging, texting, and tweeting-
To not forget the laughing, loving, and singing!"


All the best to you and yours!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Storyteller's Journey

An Important Source of Inspiration

Reading is an important source of inspiration for me. However, it wasn't until last month, when I participated in NaNoWriMo, that I realized just how much I truly need it to write. Due to the higher amounts of writing time I spent in November, my reading time dropped to nearly nothing - I read only two MG books last month. I felt like I was operating on little or no energy emotionally, as well as creatively. Once I began reading regularly again, earlier this month, I felt like I was back to normal. I've always thought of reading and writing like breathing in and out; most authors and other literary types agree - to be a decent writer you must read regularly. I wholeheartedly agree. I also find that reading, especially in the genre I'm most interesting in as a writer, is a great way to stay abreast of the current children's book market. However, reading a wide variety of books - including adult novels - is like a feast for the mind, and the soul.

As a writer - do you read your genre, another genre, adult novels, or all three?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Whimsical Word of the Week

Humbug -

1 -Something that is silly or makes no sense.

2 -Something that is meant to deceive or cheat people.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Bibliophile's Corner

The View from Saturday - by E.L. Konigsburg

Back Cover description:
*Noah, who quite by accident was best man at the wedding of Ethan's grandmother and Nadia's grandfather.
*Nadia, a hybrid with a halo of red hair, a dog that's a genius, and a fondness for baby turtles.
*Ethan, the silent second son of one of Epiphany's oldest families, who discovers he likes halos.
*Julian, the strangest person on the school bus, who starts everything by inviting the others to a tea party.

How did Mrs. Olinski, returning to teaching ten years after being paralyzed in an automobile accident, choose these four to be her sixth-grade Academic Bowl team? And how did this unlikely foursome become even unlikelier champions, in far more than just the state middle school championship? The View from Saturday is a rich and rewarding journey that answers these questions and raises many more.

My thoughts:
The View from Saturday is a remarkable middle grade novel written by E.L. Konigsburg - she won the Newbery Medal Award for this book in 1997. The author skillfully weaves colorful characters into a plot that tugs at the heart, and challenges the mind. This book touches deeply on many life issues - I would strongly recommend it to readers of all ages.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Incredible Inspiration

Sunshine cannot bleach the snow,

Nor time unmake what poets know.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, December 9, 2011

Storyteller's Journey

I Should Have Learned Juggling First!

Writing is a bit like juggling...don't you agree? Think about it - you must balance a number of items simultaneously: writing, blogging, networking, rewriting, revising, querying, and submitting are just the beginning to the juggling act. The published author (I assume) must deal with a lot more marketing, daunting deadlines, possible speaking engagements, etc. Right now I feel like I'm juggling all I can handle - but to have the opportunity to possibly be repped, it's time to add another ball to my act! I have just begun looking for a local literary editor to polish my WIP before I submit to an agent. I'm also working on giving my blog a minor makeover before the end of the year. I've always been a decent multi-tasker; it's not the work - it's knowing how to properly prioritize my writer's tasks. To be honest I think I've spent too much time writing and not enough time submitting. I've written three manuscripts and sent out one query letter - to one agent. (And - received one rejection letter!) However, and this is a big however, two of the three stories need minor to major work before submitting. One thing I've learned is to fully complete one manuscript, before starting another. (I  know - what was I thinking?! ^_^)

I would love to hear your thoughts on juggling all the aspects of being a writer!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Monday, December 5, 2011

Bibliophile's Corner

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate
by Jacqueline Kelly

Flap Copy description:
     The summer of 1899 is hot in Calpurnia's sleepy Texas town, and there aren't a lot of good ways to stay cool. Her mother has a new wind machine from town, but Callie might just have to resort to stealthily cutting off her hair, one sneaky inch at a time. She also spends a lot of time at the river with her notoriously cantankerous grandfather, an avid naturalist. It turns out that every drop of river water is teeming with life - all you have to do is look through a microscope!
     As Callie explores the natural world around her, she develops a close relationship with her grandfather, navigates the dangers of living with six brothers, and learns just what it means to be a girl at the turn of the century.

My thoughts:
Jacqueline Kelly's debut novel The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, will tug at your heart at every turn. Written in first person, the main character, Callie, finds a shelter of solace in her eccentric grandfather as she looks to a new and uncertain century for young women - especially if their dreams include science. Ms. Kelly's character development, dialogue, and pace are perfect. She won a Newbery Honor Award for her brilliant effort. I would highly recommend this book to all middle grade girls - especially those who enjoyed the character of "Jo" in Louisa May Alcott's Little Women.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Incredible Inspiration

Remember, this December, that love
weighs more than gold.

Josephine Dodge Dasham Bacon

Friday, December 2, 2011

Storyteller's Journey

     A Newbie's Nod to NaNoWriMo

It goes without saying that to complete the required 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo takes more than a lot of writing - a good bit of discipline and organization are helpful as well! Prior to commencing with the manuscript madness I decided to do some research, make an outline, and develop my characters. This was extremely helpful; all went well until I finished my MG draft with only 32,000 words to show for it! After that I had to begin a sequel; with no outline or research done - I had severed the tie to any kind of prepared writing - and was free writing! Since I am a type A person, this was extremely disconcerting. The funny part about it was that some of the text was - as I had expected - horrible. However, some of the text was brilliant. What I learned from this unexpected turn of events was that I need to loosen up a bit; allow some spontaneity to season my writing.

For any of you truly sane writers out there who have never plunged into the National Novel Writing Month pool... a few suggestions:

1- Do it! At least once. It will give you a glimpse at what it takes day in and day out to be a professional writer. During the month of November my average daily word count was about 2,000 words. Stephen King writes at least 2,000 words everyday...everyday!
(Is that really what I have signed up for?! ^_^ I think so.)
2- Aim for writing between 1,800 and 2,000 words instead of the basic 1,667. If you do that you will be able to celebrate Thanksgiving - without writing! I actually took two days off, and finished two days early. Aiming high lessens the stress - that way you can concentrate on writing, and not word count.
3-Prior to November - Prepare by doing your research, making an outline, and, if you have the time, doing an in depth development of your cast of characters. Knowing your characters really well is a great way to create an idea if writer's block should set in.
(Or you miscalculate your outline! ^_^)
4- Finally, join a NaNoWriMo support group. I participated in two FB groups during the month of November. In both groups, the members have bonded so much that we are all going to continue networking throughout the year - discussing things pertaining to writing, and also just as a place to say hello to friends.

After taking a few days off to recover from the intense typing I'll start some more research for my tentatively planned MG series, and then do a rewrite of my WIP.
Congratulations to all those who participated in NaNoWriMo!