Oct 28, 2009

Learning To Outline

Between severe headaches, a minor bathroom re-do, PTA duties, getting ready for Halloween and an Usborne book party, I've been working on outlining my novel for NaNoWriMo. I've never attempted to write a novel before. The longest thing I've worked on is a chapter book that was meant to be a picture book. My last experience with outlines was for my college course in public speaking. So, I did what any semi-intelligent person with working fingers does- I Googled "how to outline a novel." I was surprised that I didn't have to sort through a bunch of gobbly-gook to find something useful. I came across Randy Ingermanson's "Snowflake Method" on his website www.advancedfictionwriting.com. I've been using the method to outline my novel, and I have to say it has been super helpful. I'm learning a lot and having fun, so I'm already finding that signing up for NaNoWriMo is paying off. Now if only the rest of my life could be outlined into order....(sigh). How great would it be if I could write a scene of my own life where I binge on chocolate and my headache disappears? Then, Tom Silva from TOH shows up at my door to remodel my bathroom while Colin Cowie throws together a lavish Halloween soiree, and also offers to work his magic for my book party. Overactive imagination? Absolutely- that's why I write!

Oct 20, 2009

The Profound Affect Of A Picture Book

* My little wild thing.
Ten sentences long, 19 million copies sold, and a story so sublime a movie is made of it 40+ years after it was first published: Maurice Sendak's "Where the Wild Things Are." I just wanted to address that over the weekend it was the top-grossing movie. According to news articles, adults made up a large chunk of the audience. I think it goes to show that a great book, whether it's ten sentences or ten thousand sentences long, can stay with you your whole life.

Oct 17, 2009

Crazy Like A Fox Or Just Plain Crazy?

"Dear RebeccaAnn,
Well, you did it. You've gone and pledged your November to the pursuit of the month-long novel. Whether this is your first or eleventh NaNoWriMo, we're thrilled to have you writing with us."

What have I gotten myself into? Well, this was my thinking....

What if I were to write something without constantly editing myself? What if the goal was quantity not quality? What if I ignored all my responsibilities- husband, house, children- and just wrote my little heart out? What if instead of writing a picture book, I wrote a 50,00 word YA novel that I could later edit and cut down to a reasonable length?

Are hormones making me crazy? You betcha! But does this actually make sense for me to do? Yes, it does. If I'm going to grow as a writer I have to challenge myself. What better way to do that than a 50,000 word, one-month writing marathon? National Novel Writing Month- take up your pen and join me!

Oct 6, 2009

Notes From A Conference Part 2

I am stuck again on my story involving the toy rocket. I've turned to going through my notes from the conference for help. One of my breakout sessions is proving to be very helpful! "Picture Books: Start to Finish" was a session led by author of the Boomer series, Constance McGeorge. Here is her advice that I'm trying to apply to my current predicament...
- Wrap a story around your idea
- Economy of language- Don't Be Redundant!!
- Find an emotion or theme when stuck
- Illustrators like a variety of venues to create
Will this wisdom get me through my writer's block? I sure hope so. Tomorrow is writers' group, and those ladies always deliver the goods. They are a great group of writers, and a great group of honest, thoughtful critics . I don't think I can show up with a crumbled piece of paper and watery eyes.

Oct 4, 2009

Notes From A Conference Part 1

I'm back from the 1st Annual Scarlet and Gray Writers and Illustrators Conference. I'm happy to report it was enjoyable and worthwhile. One of my breakout sessions was "Surviving the Slush Pile." The speaker was Tracie Vaughn Zimmer, author of The Floating Circus, 42 Miles, Reaching for the Sun, Sketches from a Spy Tree, and Steady Hands: Poems about work. I haven't yet read her work, but I thought she was an engaging and witty speaker. Here are some golden nuggets of wisdom from Tracie:

- Whenever the slush pile starts to tip over is when the editorial staff starts to deal with it.

- Your ms has 20 seconds to impress an editor.

- It cost about $30,000 to bring a book to market; most books don’t make that money back.

- You are going to be rejected! Even award winners still have manuscripts rejected.

- Focus on your craft and the rest will follow.

- Only 2% of the slush pile is worth looking at.

- Focus on character. Let your character get in to trouble, don’t spare them pain and suffering. Your main character has to change- or why would the reader care?

- Your main character must want something! Their situation needs to get worse before it gets better. Put a fire under the feet of your main character!

- Keep moving the story forward.

- Make the reader laugh, make them cry- make them WAIT! Pull your reader along; don’t give it all away too soon.

- Chapters for novels: if one starts out positive, end it negative and vice versa.

- Don’t have more than three characters in the first chapter, you’ll lose the reader.

- Read like a chef eats, taste for the ingredients and how it was put together.

- Revision is like a quilt, rip it apart at the seams and redesign it.

- Read. Write. Repeat.


* A picture of an actual slush pile that Tracie used in her power point. It scared me when I saw it!

Oct 2, 2009

Countdown to Conference

In about 24 hours I'll be arriving at the 1st Annual Scarlet and Gray Writers and Illustrators Conference in Columbus! Am I prepared? Nope. Am I excited? H-e- double hockey sticks yes!!
I'm riding shotgun with my friend, and writer's group leader, Liz Ball. Liz is an amazing, talented woman. She draws, writes, creates pottery, gardens, etc. I admire her tremendously. So check out her website!
I'm looking forward to sharing what I learn, and letting you know the dirt on my manuscript critique.
On Sunday the family is off to the Potato Festival in Spring Valley. The food is to die for; the people watching is entertaining beyond belief! Have a wonderful weekend!