Tuesday, December 29, 2009

No Guilt!

I'm not a big fan of resolutions for myself. I understand the theory, but it just doesn't work for me. I tend to tinker with my life in little steps rather than giant resolutions.

Like many of you. I'm pretty busy. I tend to be a little OCD about my job. To me, teaching is more than a job - it's a passion. I spend a minimum of 50 hours a week on my job, but it's generally more than that. Sometimes a lot more! Then there's my family - hubby & 2 teens - and their lives. Plus nieces and nephews and all of their sporting activities to attend.

So, if I can make a resolution to increase the number of hours in a day, especially if those hours are just for me, I'm in! Other than that I think I'll just keep doing what I always do. My best. I'll write and revise when and as I can. When I'm able to, I'll blog and visit blogs of my friends. I'll squeeze in the Twitterverse for fun.

And I won't feel in the least bit guilty. The real world has to come first for me. I love, LOVE, my writing. Bringing characters to life on paper is so much fun. I enjoy torturing them with nasty plot twists and seeing how they handle it. I even like the way revising and editing make my story tighter and stronger - well most of the time I like it! :) Writing is a vital, important part of my life.

But, it's not my real world. So my resolution will be to keep doing my best, to keep living my multiple lives to the fullest. Let the fun continue!

How about you? Are you a resolution setter? In your real life or in your writing?

On another note, I've been lucky enough to be awarded two more blog awards! First thanks so much to the lovely Sara McClung at her blog: The Babbling Flow of a Fledgling Scribbler. She awarded me the Picasso Award (aka From Me to You Award).

The delightful Natalie Bahm at her self-titled blog awarded me the Superior Scribbler Award. Thanks so much, Natalie!

These ladies are fabulous bloggers and if you haven't checked out their blogs yet, do yourself a favour and pop over to have some fun!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Voice - Long or Short?

As I've been rereading my Steampunk from NaNo, I find myself thinking a lot about voice. Not my characters' voices, but mine.

I believe one of the ways voice is showcased is in length - length of sentences, phrases, paragraphs and chapters.

My sentences vary in length, but I do use a lot of short, tight sentences, and more than my share of sentence fragments. I like the effect. I know some people believe fragments should never be used. It's one of those grey areas. I think I know the rules well enough to break them for effect & emphasis. Will readers agree? Don't know yet. :)

My paragraphs tend to be short as well. Obviously they vary in length as needed, but I do include a lot of one or two sentence paragraphs.

This tendency of mine extends to chapters as well. Again, there is a fair amount of variety, but I have more short chapters than long.

I believe this is part of my voice as an author. When I look at some of my favourite reads, I find I enjoy variety. Some of my faves lean towards long sentences, paragraphs and chapters, while others run towards short with more fragments. As I read widely, I'm not terribly surprised at the variety of styles I've found!

When you look at your writing, do you find you have a preference for long or short? Do you think this affects your voice?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Wishes

Tis the season to wish all of my blogging friends the merriest of Christmases!

Do you know your favourite Christmas present of all time? My beautiful boxed edition of The Hobbit is a close second, but in first place, is a large stuffed dog. Yellow and white. I can still remember the excitement of coming down the stairs and seeing him under the tree. I didn't even look at the tag, I knew he was mine. I'm not sure how old I was, but he was big enough for me to sit astride his back, kind of like a horse. He sat at the end of my bed for years. He was a pillow, a toy, a confidant and a friend. Fluffy hung around for years and years.

I hope your Christmas brings you the same joy Fluffy brought me as a child. Treasure your family, friends and the memories you make. There's really nothing better. Merry Christmas!!

Monday, December 21, 2009

An Outline Begins

So, I'm finally starting to look at my NaNo novel again. I'd been tinkering with it a little, but the ending just wasn't coming to me. After listening to all of your very helpful advice, I decided to do a reread.

I've only done a few chapters so far. And I know the holiday craziness is going to cause a lot of interruptions in the process, but... I like the way it's going!!

I'm keeping a very short outline of the novel as I write. It's in a separate file. I number the chapters and add a one-line description of the action. I also include the pov because it alternates between the male mc and female mc.

I think I've got a handle on the direction for the ending already. It will require a little reorganization of the last few chapters I've written, but I think it'll work :) At least, that's the way it's looking in the very early going!

I know many of you outline before you write (which kind of blows my mind by the way!) and some of you do it later - the way I'm doing it now. I'm curious as to what your outlines look like. Are they "thin" like the ones I use, or "thick"? Do you include a lot of details? Which style works for you?

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Giver

Yvonne Osborne over at The Organic Writer and Jean Oram at her self-titled blog have blog posts today discussing Lois Lowry's novel The Giver. Yvonne challenged herself to read some banned books. Knowing Jean & I had read the book, she asked us a series of questions. Our answers are posted at her blog here.

The Giver is one of my favourite books. It has so many layers of interesting and thought-provoking "stuff". It has been banned in several places. Amazing what people fear, isn't it?!

I read it often to the students in my class. Students invariably love it, although they're generally not convinced by the first chapter. It takes a few days of reading until they are hooked. After that, I don't dare attempt to miss a day of read-aloud time :)

Lowry creates a world devoted to Sameness. It's safe, predictable and utterly lacking in anything important, like emotion. When students discover partway through the book that Jonas, the main character, is one of only 2 people who can see colours, they're always taken aback. How could it be possible? Continued reading brings more and more surprises and discussions.

When I finished up the book today in class, the kids were shocked by the ending. Lowry has made them think and wonder all the way through the book. She makes them continue to think and wonder after it's all over. No neat endings, no pat answers. More questions. Awesome! There was dead silence when I finished the last sentence & closed the book. Then the questions flew :)

Have you read the Giver? If you have any thoughts on it I'd love to hear them! Or you can pop on over to Yvonne's blog and comment there.

Do you enjoy books with multiple layers? Someone once told me a good book is like an onion. You keep peeling back layers and finding more good stuff underneath. What's your favourite onion book?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

I'm It!

I've been tagged & now I'm it! Nope, I haven't been playing with the students at school. It's a blog game. Julie over at The Climb tagged me, so now I have to answer the following questions and then tag someone else! Thanks, Julie!! :) This is making me a little nervous - I'm not always good at the whole sharing personal info thing. But I AM a good sport, so here we go!

1)What's the last thing you wrote? What's the first thing you wrote that you still have?
The last thing I wrote was a scene for my wip in which the male mc is creating a tracking device in Steampunk England. Fun stuff. The first thing I wrote that I still have (at least I think I have it...) is a sappy story about a gypsy man playing his violin while his caravan burns. His wife has died & he can't live with the memories. (I know, I know, but I was little!)

2) Write poetry?
Not a lot anymore. I wrote a lot in high school and college.

3) Angsty poetry?
Of course, I WAS a teenage girl for a few years :)

4) Favorite genre of writing?

Romantic mystery, with steampunk running a close 2nd!

5) Most annoying character you've ever created?
A very arrogant English Lord. It was from a short historical romance story I wrote years ago. He was a real creep, and annoying to boot. He gets killed in a rather horrific manner at the end. Felt good :)

6) Best plot you've ever created?
The plot from the ms I've completed is fun with a couple of intertwined subplots. I really enjoyed weaving the plots together.

7) Coolest plot twist you've ever created?
Can't tell you that, now, can I?

8) How often do you get writer's block?
I'm lucky. That rarely happens. There are so many stories yelling at me, I never have time to write them all down.

9) Write fan fiction?
Not on paper. When I was younger I "wrote" Star Trek episodes in my head when I was trying to fall asleep at nights (well, still do actually)

10) Do you type or write by hand?
Always on the laptop. I'd lose papers.

11) Do you save everything you write?
Yup. I'm a very organized file maniac. Sad, but true.

12) Do you ever go back to an idea after you've abandoned it?
I'm a pack rat. Don't throw anything out. So, nothing's ever abandoned - just waiting for me to get back to it :)

13) What's your favorite thing you've ever written?
That's hard. Probably a completed ms. Even though it needs another round of revision.

14) What's everyone else's favorite story you've written?
I haven't shared much writing yet. My 2 crit buddies have only seen parts of 1 story so far. :)

15) Ever written romance or angsty teen drama?
I enjoy romance, especially with a mystery or some suspense added in. My completed ms is a romantic mystery.

16) What's your favorite setting for your characters?
That's a really hard one. Settings aren't as vital to me as characters or plot. Yes, they're important, but not enough for me to have a fave.

17) How many writing projects are you working on right now?
Two on paper. I'm finishing the first draft for my nano, and beginning another round of revision on my completed ms. Two stories are running around in my head as well.

18) Have you ever won an award for your writing?
I haven't entered any competitions, so no :)

19) What are your five favorite words?
Almost anything Italian - such a beautiful language! In English: love, peace & hope for the meaning, discombobulated for the sound. Recess for rather obvious reasons! :)

20) What character have you created that is most like yourself?
None of them really. Although bits and pieces of Ali in the first half of an ms are like me.

21) Where do you get your ideas for your characters?
Everywhere and who knows. They just "are".

22) Do you ever write based on your dreams?
Sure, but not often. My dreams are generally too crazy, disjointed & scary.

23) Do you favor happy endings?
YES! The world is so often unhappy. In my job, I see a lot of kids who don't or can't believe in happy endings. They need to have access to them somewhere. They need to believe and hope.

24) Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?
Yes. I think it's automatic. As a teacher, it's just part of me. It's not even conscious most of the time.

25) Does music help you write?
A most resounding yes. I put the iTunes on Shuffle and enjoy a wide variety of music. No playlists, just mix it all up.

26) Quote something you've written. Whatever pops in your head.
"It's my first mutilated mammal by mail."

Phew! I'm exhausted. You probably are too :)

Calista Taylor at A Steampunk Reverie,
Jenny Martin at Book Binge,
Cat Woods at Words from the Woods...

TAG, you're it!! These wonderful writers/bloggers are some of my cyber-friends from AQ. There are so many more I could mention, but I'll limit myself to just 3. Enjoy their fantabulous blogs :)

P.S. If you haven't checked out Julie's blog, scroll back up and click on her link - you won't regret it!

Monday, December 14, 2009

What a Voice!

I've got Jennifer Hudson's Christmas special on as I'm writing this. What a Voice!! She truly sings like an angel.

Of course, I giggled when I thought "What a Voice!". As writers, we worry about a slightly different kind of voice.

Voice is a difficult thing to teach. It's easier to find examples and read them aloud, then contrast different styles. The kids in my class tend to pick up the different kinds of voice rather quickly when I read short snippets of a variety of texts.

They all have their preferences. Most kids this year prefer short, snappy sentences with sly humour mixed in. However, lyrical sentences can grab them as well. When we studied opening lines last year, the class favourite was from Ray Bradbury's Farenheit 451.

"It was a pleasure to burn. It was a special pleasure to see things eaten, to see things blackened and changed. With the brass nozzle in his fists, with this great python spitting its venomous kerosene upon the world, the blood pounded in his head, and his hands were the hands of some amazing conductor playing all the symphonies of blazing and burning to bring down the tatters and charcoal ruins of history."

They loved the contrast of the sentence lengths, the imagery. They all decided these short lines spoke to them. They loved the voice, and referred back to the image several times over the year.

A strong voice can be compelling. It's something we all strive for.

Whose voice do you most admire? Do you find it difficult to identify your own voice?

On a side note, thanks to Elizabeth Spann Craig at Mystery Writing is Murder for the Blogging Writer Award. Check out the award she designed herself on the sidebar! Thanks as well to Kristi Faith over at RAW (Random Acts of Writing) for awarding me the One Lovely Blog Award, also on the sidebar. These are fantastic writer friends. If you haven't checked out their sites, do yourself a favour & pop on over!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Elusive Endings

I'm having some difficulty squeezing in time for my writing. And it's not all due to pre-holiday prep, report card season and all the other nuttiness that goes with family life.

I've been procrastinating because I'm just not sure which finish I want to put on the NaNo novel. I'm close to the end. Probably between 5k & 10k to go. But I can't get it written.

My dilemma is in how the book needs to finish. I just can't see the ending clearly. This is weird for me. Usually it's the ending scene I see first. It's where the story starts for me. When I'm creating units for school, I always start with the test or culminating task first as well. Some people think I plan backwards, but I always want to know where I'm headed before I start.

So... I'm thinking of going back to the start and doing a read through and a quick outline at the same time. Maybe I'll find the ending in there. I do have a few possibilities floating around, but none of them are telling me they're the "right" ending.

This method feels a little like cheating. Silly, but true. Maybe I should just plow through it and see what happens. My characters do have a tendency to go where they like anyway.

Or maybe I should continue to let it stew in the back of my brain and let the ending appear when it's good and ready.

Have you ever been stumped near the end of your ms? How did you get yourself through it?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Fave YA Couple?

My blog buddy Alexa over at Not Enough Bookshelves has a very interesting theme going this month. It's called Christmas Countdown.

Alexa is counting down her favourite couples from all of the YA books she's read this year. There are some very interesting people in YA! Alexa is also holding a contest in the same theme. Check out the rules here.

Anyway, Alexa's post got me thinking about some of my fave couples in the books I've read.

My all-time favourite YA couple has got to be Anne Shirley & Gilbert Blythe from Anne of Green Gables. If you've been following me for a bit, that probably shouldn't surprise you :)

I LOVE Anne. She was everything I wanted to be as a young girl: outgoing, friendly, adventurous and so wonderfully creative. As a shy and serious kid, I knew the only thing we really had in common was a very vivid imagination. I generally kept mine to myself, but it was there -- still is :)

Anne and Gilbert make a great team - from the carrot-top comments and the pigtail pulling to the more serious stuff in later books, you never quite know what to expect from the pair. Just the way it should be :)

So, do any couples stand out for you? Are your faves from childhood or from something you've read more recently?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Long or Short?

There seem to be a lot of short story contests and flash fiction mentions around the online writing community lately. I probably won't be entering any or reading many. I have a definite preference for longer works, both when I'm reading and writing. As usual, my brain started wondering why. :)

I understand the talent and work the shorter pieces take. When I'm teaching, I limit the pages/words students have for their writing in order for them to learn control. I use phrases like "clear and concise," "rambly", and "precise language." I also occasionally teach/write poetry where every word, every syllable is vital. So, yeah, I think I get it. I admire all the folks who do write the shorter stuff.

But I don't write short works. The ideas popping into my head take a lot longer to develop and explore. For me, writing is mostly about emotion and characters. My characters become very real, as do their problems. The conflict is complicated.

I also like subplots and secondary characters. These are often as compelling as the main plot and characters. I like multi-faceted situations and people. I know, I know these can occur in short pieces too.

Maybe I prefer the longer works because I tend to become highly attached to the people populating these worlds. Maybe it's simply that I enjoy living in their worlds, and don't want to let them go. I've always been a series reader too. Hmmm....

What about you? Do you have a preference for longer or shorter works, or are they equally appealing for you? Have you thought about why?

On another note, thank you to Stephen Tremp over at his Breakthrough Blogs. Stephen is a great blogger who keeps track of all kinds of news and information interesting to writers. Stephen awarded me the "Awesomous Maximus" Award. Check out the great looking pup on the sidebar of the blog :) Thanks Stephen, and if you haven't checked out his blog, do yourself a favour and pop over!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Pay It Forward

Wow! It's been quite a few days - I've received 2 awards from 2 very sweet and awesome bloggers :)

Sara McLung over at her blog: The Babbling Flow of a Fledgling Scribbler awarded me the Honest Scrap Blogger award. If you haven't checked out Sara's blog, pop on over.

Courtney Reese at her blog: Work in Progress awarded me the Best Blogger award. Another blog definitely worth a visit!!

Thank you to both of you - you're awesome!

Now, I'm not quite following the rules - those of you who know me well won't be terribly surprised :) As I've already listed a few things you don't know about me, I'll not torture you with a whole list - just a couple...

1. I still (yes, STILL) can't get Blogger to accept me posting pictures in the body of the blog. I'm fairly computer literate. Really. The kids at school are regularly impressed by my computer skills. Again, really. I'm probably the most tech-savvy person in the school. REALLY!! So, why won't it let me post a picture??? *sigh*

2. I did finally get Blogger to accept me putting links in my post! (Wild cheering please) Sad, I know, but my excuse is I didn't start blogging until just before school began. Not a lot of time to spend on the peripherals.

3. I'm reading a Banned Book to my kids at school. Fun!

4. I'm a BIG sap with movies, books, kids, puppies, commercials, parent-teacher-student interviews, ...

5. When I was little I used to walk across the top of swing sets on dares :)

Okay - now to the fun part! I've awarded blogs to several other bloggy types before, so I'll pass on those lovely folks. You can check them out here I'll also try to avoid some great bloggers who were also awarded by Sara or Courtney. I'm also limiting myself to 7 which was NOT easy! I'll leave it to these folks to snag whichever blog award they'd like! So....

1. RK Lewis at Needle City for the noir crime novel lover in you :)

2. Natalie Bahm Natalie is a great blogger and provides such thoughtful posts!

3. Michele Emrath at Southern City Mysteries offers all kinds of Down South smarts

4. Megan Rebekah at Megan Rebekah Blogs...And Writes Check out her Dear Nano, oops, Dear John letter :)

5. RK Charron over at BOOKS If you like to know what is being released, and where the contests are, you need to check out this blog!

6. Layna Pimentel at Stomping Ground for the Supernatural Layna is one of the best multi-tasking writers I know!

7. Belle over at Ms. Bookish Belle's blog is FULL of fun stuff including awesome lists of book giveaways!

Phew! Okay - that's all for now. Check out some of these fine folks - you won't regret it at all :)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Capote - "Finishing a book..."

Finishing a book is just like you took a child out in the yard and shot it.
-- Truman Capote


I'm currently finishing off the rough draft of my NaNo novel. I don't think I'll feel at all like Capote when it's done. Of course, I still have several rounds of revisions and edits to do. So it won't really be done for a while yet.

His quote is probably referring to finishing the final stage of the novel - and giving it over to editors and publishers. I haven't got to that stage yet. Or maybe he means when even that process is done, and you have absolutely no control over it because it's printed. Will I feel like I've killed my baby?

My previous ms is still awaiting another revision round. I'm hoping to let it go off into the real world someday in the not too distant future. Will I feel like Capote?

What about you? If you've been published, did you feel like you'd shot your child? If you're yet-to-be-published, how do you imagine yourself feeling?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Finished! Well... sort of

Woohoo! My NaNo novel is finished. Well, the novel isn't finished. In fact the first draft isn't even finished yet. But the NaNo challenge is :)

I hit 50,676 words a few moments ago. It feels good. But the story isn't yet complete. I probably have another 10k to go depending on how the ending unravels. I'm not quite sure what my characters have planned for me yet.

There was more violence, more sensual tension than I expected. I know I've dropped a few clues along the way - things I included for the mystery, then promptly forgot about. There are a few places where I've left hints for a needed scene, but the scene wasn't coming to me, so I just skipped it.

I know I have a bit of editing to do - well probably more than a bit - but I'm quite happy with the way the draft went. This is the first draft I've done with any intention or thought of publishing. I've always written, but the thought of publishing is as recent as my previous ms. The publishing thought popped into my mind one day, and hasn't let go. The previous ms was full of writing just for me. Lots of superfluous scenes, lots of descriptions of settings. Stuff that helped make the characters, scenes and plot real for me, but that a reader has no use for.

I've edited and revised that ms to half of its original size, and I'm still looking at one more round of revision.

I don't think this ms will require as much effort or polish. I've learned a lot from this past year. And it's all thanks to you! The online writing community is absolutely amazing. I've found writers to be extremely generous with their time and expertise. They are honest, warm and so talented. It's been a fun year of learning and growing for me. So, thank you!

How has your writing changed and grown through each ms? Do you find the learning curve is a continuous climb, or does it level off after a while?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Comfort Books

Comfort books - what a great concept. Just like comfort food, only better. No calories, and they last a lot longer :)

My friend Belle over at Ms. Bookish is hosting the 42nd Bookworms Carnival. Her theme, you guessed it, is comfort books.

I can literally disappear into a book. I'm sure many of you are the same. The world, with its worries and despairs, just goes away. I'm whisked off to a new world. Sure, its got its own share of worries and despairs, but that's okay. I suspend my disbelief and fly with the characters.

The first book I fell into was Anne of Green Gables. I'd never met anyone quite like Anne. As a shy, serious girl, I wanted to be Anne's friend. I wanted her nerve, her imagination and her joy.

The Hobbit was probably the next book to completely capture my imagination. Bilbo is such a great character - and the magic! I couldn't get enough Gandalf. When my parents bought me a boxed set of the Lord of the Rings, I didn't resurface for weeks. I tend to reread these books every few years. Love them.

Anne McCaffrey's Dragon Riders of Pern series is another one I can't get enough of. I've read all of the books at least twice. The planet is perfectly created. The mix of science, fantasy, vivid characters and a unique society combine to make this one of my favourite comfort reads. I can slip into their world and wonder what it would be like...

Agatha Christie's mysteries are kind of like chocolate for me. Sweet, even when you know what the taste is and there's no surprise. I try to leave them for years so that I won't remember the murderer, but the writing is so strong, I tend to remember the clues. I've read "And Then There Were None" to several classes and they loved it. Such a great writer!

Those are a few from my list. What about you? What are your favourite comfort books?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Wrong Word

Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word. There are no exceptions to this rule.
-- Stephen King

I've always liked this quote from Stephen King. I'm not a pretentious person in any aspect of my life. This quote kind of symbolizes how I live: simple, to the point, straight-forward. I write the same way.


Aren't there exceptions to every rule? In my writing, I rarely use a thesaurus. Really, really rarely. But I still use it upon occasion.

I have some problems with the thesaurus. When I reach for it, it's because I'm trying to find another way to say a word I've been using. Okay, overusing. In that situation, the thesaurus is the lazy way out. I usually find I'm better off rewriting the scene so that I use the word less often. After all, if I've repeated it so often I need to find a substitute word, I'm pretty sure the reader will be fed up of the word as well.

With this ms, I've been using the thesaurus more often. I'm writing in a new genre, Steampunk, where I get to make stuff up. Loving it! But naming these new devices is sometimes problematic. Cue the handy-dandy thesaurus. I've found it helps springboard my brain into creating more options so the name of the new device gives a hint to its purpose without sounding common.

Do you often use a thesaurus? How does it help you out with your writing?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

What if...?

"What if?"

I think those are two of the most powerful words in the universe.

Many of your comments from my last post included them. Some of you talked about how you see something in the newspaper, or on tv, or in real life and you wonder, "What if?". I do the same thing.

It made me think about scientists and writers, and how we are alike. Yes, really.

Both groups deal in the "What if?" factor. We write stories about it and around it. Scientists use it to propel their research and their innovations.

We make revisions and edits because of it. What if I eliminated those pesky dialogue tags, what if my character had to deal with..., what if I tried this scene first... Scientists also make revisions, not to their stories, but to their experiments and their approaches. Both groups work towards improving the now with, "What if?".

"What if?" brings us hope. It gives us a way out. It encourages us to take a risk, make a change, try something new.

How often do you "What if?"

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The First Spark

There's been a lot of talk flying around the online writing community about first drafts lately. I'm sure this is because it's November. NaNo nuttiness is everywhere! :)

Anyway, it got me to thinking about that very first idea, that very first spark for the story.

For me, emotion always comes first. It's not attached to a character, or a setting, or a plot. Not right away. I tend to feel the emotion from the climax scene of the story first. The fear, guilt, terror.., whatever.

Of course the character builds pretty quickly around the emotion, but it's definitely what hits me first. I've always been a bit of a sap - I can get pretty weepy around certain commercials - and I empathize really well. I fear my emotional range is pretty wide and pretty deep. My folks stopped me watching Little House on the Prairie when I was a kid - couldn't get through too many episodes without sobbing!

So, for me, the emotion of the climax scene is the key to the whole story - the key to the idea.

How about you? What is the first spark of the story for you?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Peace and Hope

It's Remembrance Day here in Canada. A non-writing post today to ask each of you to take a moment out of your busy lives to think of our brave soldiers and veterans. Such courage. Such loyalty.

It was interesting to talk to the kids at school today about Remembrance Day. They, thankfully, have limited knowledge of war. They are fascinated by the stories of courage, the horrors and the sheer will it took to survive. Kids pore over the fiction and nonfiction books in my classroom about war. They have endless questions and boundless compassion.

Today, during our conversations, several of the kids asked how it was possible to hate that much. They completely don't get racism and prejudice. We have kids from 8 different cultures in our class. No one hangs out along cultural lines, there are no racial comments, no stereotyping. Not everyone gets along, but that's due to personality conflicts and nothing else.

It gives me hope, and fills me with pride for the small part I play in raising these kids.

Two of the songs we sang during our Remembrance Day service today were Let There be Peace on Earth by Vince Gill, and Everything I Do, I Do it For You by Bryan Adams. Powerful songs, powerful lyrics, powerful images to go along with them. The kids sang along and it created this amazing buzz of love and hope.

I hope you managed to find a corner of peace in your world today. We certainly did, and the future looks good.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Sideways Solutions!

I was stumbling along with my ultra-fun NaNo project, when I came to one of those bumps that trip you up when you least expect it. An unexpected death in my ms caused my half-baked, sort-of-kind-of plan to go sideways.

All normal in the course of my writing, but still unexpected. Especially during NaNo when I don't want to spend a lot of time figuring out what to do next. So, what did I do?

I asked my daughter to create a device for steampunk England that someone would kill to own. "Steampunk? Huh?" was her first response. However within about 3 minutes, she had the perfect device for me!

After a few very hectic back-and-forth minutes of discussion, not only do I have the next step in the story, but I have a pretty good idea of how the ending might turn out. At least until the next sideways turn. :)

So, what do you do when you hit a wall -- when the unexpected stops you short and changes your plans? Do you step sideways or plow right on through?

(On another note, a huge THANK YOU to WM Morrell (aka Quillfeather). She awarded me the Honest Scrap Blogger Award. Notice the great picture to the right of the blog. I've just posted my info for the Kreative Blogger award, so I won't torture you again. Well maybe a little :) I'll bet you didn't know I used to play the clarinet and I can probably give you more details than you ever want to know about hockey!! Thanks QF for the award. Check out her blog for some awesome stuff from my New Zealand buddy - http://quillfeather-blog.blogspot.com/)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Runaway Characters

I'm currently having a lot of fun writing my YA steampunk. Exploring a new genre is even more fun than I expected.

My characters, however, are acting like such teenagers. Well, they are teenagers, so I guess that's okay. Isn't it?

My two main characters enjoy making their own decisions. They're a little spunkier in that regard than I expected. The male is full of bravado, and keeps trying to hide his vulnerable side. The female is nervous about trusting anyone, but also finds herself pushing the boundaries of what she expects herself to do.

The dialogue between them is lively. And full of innuendo. I didn't really expect them to want a relationship. At least not with the circumstances of the plot. Certainly not until much farther into the book. But... well, you know teenagers.

Right now, I'm sitting back and cruising along with them. We'll have to see where they want to go. Hope I don't have to act too much like a parent!

How often do your characters run away on you? Do they take you to places you never expected to visit?

(NaNo update: over 7000 words now. I've been sick, so not really sure how great those words are, but, hey - it's a first draft!)

(Thanks to TK Richardson at My Writing Masquerade http://eveningfades.blogspot.com/ TK has generously awarded me the Kreativ Blogger Award. As I've already passed along the award, I won't go through the process again, but I wanted to thank TK. If you haven't yet had the pleasure, pop over and check her blog out! It's well worth the trip :))

Sunday, November 1, 2009

First Drafts

All the NaNo talk and excitement has got me thinking about first drafts. There are so many styles of writers. There are probably just as many styles of drafting.

I tend to use the backspace key a lot. I don't think I get through too many paragraphs without backspacing a bit and changing something. It could be word choice, eliminating unnecessary words, rearranging an idea, correcting spelling, or just about anything else. I tend to multi-task. One part of my brain whips along with the story. Another part, the good old internal editor, shrieks at me to change it NOW, while I know what the change should be. I'm afraid if I ignore the shriek, the best wording will disappear into the abyss.

Even in NaNo, I can't stop the backspacing. One cyber friend says she never backspaces more than 2 spaces during NaNo. I think my shrieker would deafen me if I tried that. :)

I also go back and skim, change things up, do re-writing. If I notice any major issues, I go back and fix them. I've tried leaving myself notes to make changes later, but the idea for the change festers, and the shrieker goes a little nutty. So I listen. Better than being deaf!

How about you? Do you draft straight through? Do you love your backspace key? Have you got a shrieker?

(NaNo update: I chose the steampunk, although the cozy is getting louder and louder. I've managed about 2000 words today. Let me know how yours is going!)

Friday, October 30, 2009

Kreativ Blogger

Debra L. Schubert awarded me this wonderful blog award the other day over at her blog. Thank you, Deb! Her blog is Write on Target, and if you haven't been over to visit her, you really need to check it out! http://debralschubert.blogspot.com/

So, now I have the enjoyable job of nominating seven other worthy bloggers who must also follow the rest of these directions:

1) Copy the pretty picture and post it on your blog. (I can't figure out how to post the picture in the body of the post - so I've posted it on the side bar!)
2) Thank the person who gave it to you and link to their blog. (Thanks so much again, Debra!)
3) Write 7 things about yourself we don't know.
4) Choose 7 other bloggers to pass the award to.
5) Link to those 7 other bloggers.
6) Notify your 7 bloggers.

7 Things You Don't Know About Me...
1. I intend to go on an African Safari as a present to myself when I retire.
2. I drew cartoons for my university newspaper.
3. I love, love, LOVE being Canadian.
4. My iPod list includes Barry Manilow, Nickelback, Queen, Shania Twain, Diana Krall, & Daughtry... (It's hard to find music I don't like!)
5. My sister is my best friend.
6. I love Star Trek in all its many forms.
7. I've been sworn to secrecy over the recipe for a treasured family treat.

Now for the best part. Here are 7 great bloggers. If you haven't visited their blogs, you've been missing out on a lot of fun! Check them out:

Calista Taylor at A Steampunk Reverie. http://asteampunkreverie.blogspot.com/

Calista introduced me to steampunk. It's such a fun genre! For all things steampunk, check out her blog and website.

Jean Oram at http://jeanoram.com/blog/

Jean runs 2 awesome blogs. The link is the one to her writing blog, but she also has a Kids Can Play blog that is full of awesomeness :)

Jenny Martin at Book Binge http://jmartinlibrarian.wordpress.com/

Jenny's a librarian with a great eye for books and for delicious food! She combines her 2 loves in a great blog :)

Quillfeather at WM Morrell http://quillfeather-blog.blogspot.com/

My new friend from New Zealand has another great blog! She talks about all of the different aspects of writing.

Cate Woods at Words from the Woods http://catwoods.blogs.org/

Cate's new blog is full of insights on the writing process and experience. She's thoughtful and always makes you think and feel!

Elizabeth Spann Craig at Mystery Writing is Murder http://mysterywritingismurder.blogspot.com/

Elizabeth writes great cozy mysteries. Her blog is super informative and friendly too. All mystery writers, actually all writers, must check it out!

Elspeth Antonelli at It's a Mystery http://elspeth-itsamystery.blogspot.com/

Elspeth writes mysteries and murder games. She writes the best analogies! Her blog always makes you think about how you write. Great stuff :)

Check out these blogs - you won't regret it for a moment!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Deciding on the Next Project

It's coming!!! And, no, I'm not talking about Halloween. Instead I'm talking about NaNoWriMo. As most of you already know, NaNo is a writing "contest". We "compete" to see if we can write 50k words of a new wip during the month of November. Check out the nifty blog badge on the sidebar of my blog to see an example of the fantabulous "prizes". (No more quotation marks, I promise!)

I love NaNo. I had so much fun entering last year. I'm going into it this year, fully knowing my life is so crazy busy, it'll be nothing short of a miracle if I can win again. But I'm going to give it a shot.

My biggest problem is that I don't know what I'm going to write about. And the competition is sneaking up like any good Halloween ghoul.

It's not that I don't have any ideas. Rather, I have too many! I just can't choose.

Choice #1 - Steampunk YA. I've never written steampunk, I've never written YA, but this idea has wiggled its way into my brain and just won't let go. Thanks, Calista :)

Choice #2 - A (sort of) cozy mystery, with a female mc who could most definitely be a focus for a series of books.

Choice #3 - (Sort of) Paranormal mystery with a romantic twist. This idea has been pestering me for several months, but during my research for the idea, I've run into a couple of blocks as the mystery involves histories from several cultures.

There are more, but those are the top 3... at the moment. This is more proof that I'm just not built to colour within the lines all the time. My brain just doesn't work that way. But it's fun!

Do you ever have difficulties choosing your next project? How do you choose which is going to get your undivided attention?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Writing Fears

Halloween is creeping up around the corner with all of its craziness and fear. Hopefully it's "fun fear" for all.

So, of course, I got to thinking about fear as connected to writing. For most people there's an element of fear in any new endeavour. I think a little fear is a healthy thing. Kind of like the nerves an athlete feels before a game, or an actor feels before the curtain rises. Fear can keep over-confidence at bay. It can keep you on your toes, and more observant of the world around you - that good old flight-or-fight reaction.

Too much fear however is never a good thing. It is paralyzing.

Writers face their own personalized fear set. Fear of sharing your stories with others. Fear of rejection. Fear of public speaking. Fear of publicity & its accompanying loss of privacy. Fear of indifference.

For me, actually sharing my work with other people was the largest fear. Meeting such a great community of writers online has helped me enormously. Writers are so willing to offer their help, guidance and experiences. It's not nearly as terrifying as it was for me to offer my work up for critique. Still an edge of fear, but no absolute terror.

What is your biggest fear as a writer? Has it changed over time? Do published authors have their own fear set? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Gender Games

I'm back! I've had computer woes for most of the past seven days, so have been offline pretty much all of that time. It's good to be back :)

I was just floating in and out of the #yalitchat over on Twitter. For those of you who haven't participated, it's a rollercoaster ride on Twitter with a whole bunch of great folks who are interested in YA (young adult) writing.

Tonight's topic swerved around a bit, and one of the topics that popped up was gender. Specifically, if authors ever wrote outside their gender, and why or why not.

I enjoy writing from both the male and female perspective. Probably because most of my writing has a romantic side to it, I tend to have two main characters - one male, one female. I write from each mc's pov in separate scenes.

A friend pointed out a website called The Gender Genie http://bookblog.net/gender/genie.php that analyzes a piece of writing and tells you which gender appears to have written that section. I've checked out several sections and am happy to report that each mc shows up as the correct gender :)

I think I'm comfortable writing from the male pov because I've always had great male friends, and of course there are my great relationships with my hubby, son, dad and other family members. Plus as a teacher, I get to know boys pretty well!

How about you? Do you write exclusively from the pov of your own gender or do you switch it up a bit?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Sweating the Small Stuff!

Don’t be afraid to give your best to what seemingly are small jobs. Every time you conquer one it makes you that much stronger. If you do the little jobs well, the big ones tend to take care of themselves
– Dale Carnegie

I love this quote by Carnegie. It's another one of the quotes I often use in my classroom. I think I'm a quote-aholic :)

This quote definitely applies to my writing. I have learned so much in the last year and a half - and it's all been about the small stuff.

I've learned to limit my writing to what the reader needs to know - not to include everything I see in my head. I've learned to eliminate so many unnecessary words - that, just, seems, felt, suddenly, ...

I even think I've conquered my dialogue tag addiction!

So yes, working on the small stuff has made me a better writer!

How about you? What "small stuff" have you conquered that's made you a better writer?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Giving Thanks

It's Thanksgiving weekend up here in Canada. Naturally this reminds me of, well, giving thanks. Not too obvious, eh?

We just don't say it enough, do we? So, here I go!

I'm thankful for my family. Hubby, kids, mom, my late father, sis, nieces, nephews and all my wonderful in-laws. I'm one of the lucky ones. My family is tightly-knit. We may drive each other nutty once in a while, but the love and laughter do more than just get us through. They make it all worthwhile.

I'm thankful for my day job. I love teaching and love my kids. I love the fact that in a classroom full of kids from diverse backgrounds & socio-economic levels, my kids don't believe racism really exists. They don't understand it at all :)

I'm thankful for my (non-paying-so-far) evening job. I love to write. Creating characters, plots, settings and connections is a joy, even when it's really, really hard.

I'm thankful for my community and my country and my place in the world. We are indeed making it a better place one day, one moment, at a time.

I'm thankful to my on-line friends who gave me the incentive to take the next steps in writing, to push myself outside my comfort zone. To the online writers' communities who are so willing to give of their time and expertise and love of writing. You're an amazing group! So, if no one has told you lately, thank you for all you do. :)

So, what makes you give thanks?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Writing What you Read

"I don’t believe for one moment you can write well what you wouldn’t read for pleasure"
-- Nora Roberts

Nora Roberts is an amazing author. She's sold a bazillion books and is probably the first author who comes to mind when you think of romance.

This Nora Roberts quote applies to me. I read a lot, and always have. I enjoy many genres: mystery, romantic suspense, romance, fantasy, and sci-fi being the most common. I write mysteries with a romantic edge - a natural fit for me. I can see me (way far in the future) branching out into the fantasy and sci-fi realms, but not for a while. I really, really like the genre I'm writing now and just can't see it changing for a very long time!

How about you? Does the genre you write match your favourite reading genre? Or do you like to mix it up a little more?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Writing from the Heart

"The idea is to write so that people hear it and it slides through the brain and goes straight into the heart."
-- Maya Angelou

My thoughts turned to Maya Angelou after hearing of her health scare. From what I can gather, she is still in hospital, but doing well. Hopefully that continues.

Maya has written so many wonderful things, and she is very quotable. I love the quote at the top of the post. To me, good story telling does just that. It touches the heart. I hope one day to be a strong enough writer to touch the heart of my readers. What an accomplishment that would be!

Many authors over the years have touched my heart. I vividly remember reading the Anne of Green Gables series when I was a child. Anne Shirley is a character who has stayed with me for years. I've reread her stories, and passed those books on to my daughter and my students. Anne's gutsy, optimistic, fun-loving, dramatic attitude has had so many readers fall in love with her over the years. Lucy Maud Montgomery is definitely one of those authors whose writing has arrowed straight to my heart.

How about you? Who was the first author or character who really touched your heart?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

NaNo Experiences

November is creeping up rather quickly. With it comes the ever-popular NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). It's a free contest for all authors. The challenge is to write 50k words of a novel during the month of November. The prizes are... Okay, there are no prizes, but there are some pictures you can post on your blogs and websites proclaiming you as a NaNo winner. :)

I heard of NaNo through another aspiring author last year, only a few days before November. I thought, "Why not?" and jumped in with both feet. A crazy month later, I had about 55k words written. Winner!

Despite the chaos, I really enjoyed the experience. Like everyone else, my life tends to be crazy busy. This was a good way for me to focus on the creative aspects only of writing for an entire month. I ignored editing and revising and just wrote. Every day. It was fun.

I then returned to my regularly scheduled programming - revising and editing my other ms. I don't know if I'll ever polish up the NaNo novel. It's in another genre, and I think I'd like to stick with the mystery angle right now.

How many of you aspiring authors have NaNoed? Any of you planning on joining in the fun this year?

Published authors: Did you NaNo before you signed that agent? Was it worth it? Did any of your NaNo novels ever get published? I'd love to hear your stories!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Banned Book Week

It's Banned Book Week in the US. In Canada, we have a similar week in February: "Freedom to Read" week.

Now, if you want to stir up a group of writers, this is the topic! I think all writers will jump up and down, waving their hands in the air, desperately striving for their turn to speak. Banning books is a scary thought.

It always brings me back to high school and Farenheit 451. Our teacher introduced us to many great books back then, but I think this one was my fave. Such an amazing book. The image of the fire hose as a snake (python I think) as it ate the books has always stayed with me. As has the message of the book. Powerful stuff.

In Canada, or at least in my city, we don't have much fuss about banning books. The only rumour I remember hearing was when Harry Potter first stormed onto the scene. Other communities were talking about banning it. Being teachers, we all ran out to buy copies. Several of us read the book to our students as soon as we'd finished it ourselves. Not exactly what the people ranting about the book envisioned I'm sure. :)

So, are books ever banned in your communities? Do you have to fight for the right to read freely? Do your kids get exposed to all kinds of books and genres, or are some things suppressed?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Star Trek & Agatha Christie?

"The best time to plan a book is while you’re doing the dishes." - Agatha Christie

Don't you just love Agatha Christie? She's one of my all-time favourite authors. I also love this quote of hers. I have such a hard time imagining dear Dame Agatha doing dishes!

It got me to thinking about where I plot my books. I've never had an easy time falling asleep. Even as a kid, there were too many things running through my head for sleep to come easily.

And then I encountered Star Trek (the original series) in one of its rerun seasons. I started plotting out new stories as I waited for sleep to arrive. The series struck a deep chord within me - all of those thinly-veiled morality tales filled with excitement, new species and adventure. For years I plotted out new stories before bed. Never wrote one of them down, but lived through them night after night instead.

Now, I plot out my novels before I sleep. I watch the characters play out a variety of scenes, test out the emotional impact of their words and actions, watch them to see which scenes need to get written down and which need to stay in almost-dreamland.

Where do you plot out your writing? Do you have a set time or place that sends you directly into that creative mode?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Mood Music

There's a Diana Krall concert on TV tonight. For me, that's about as good as it gets for mood music. She's got a great jazzy sound, and a gorgeous smoky voice. Beautiful stuff. I know the writing will flow just a little bit easier tonight.

Music affects my writing. Jazz is generally best for me - although I like a wide variety of music. I usually put my iTunes on shuffle when I'm writing, so I get a variety of styles and artists. Sometimes it blends into background noise, sometimes I find myself typing in beat. My kids have noticed that whether I can tell you what song is on or not, my toes always keep the rhythm. :)

How about you? Does music affect your writing? Do you even like writing with music on? I go a little squirrelly with total silence, but I know some people like it. What's your preference?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Gypsy in Me

It’s been a long time since I was an elementary school student. Back then we were rarely allowed to write. When we did write, we were always given a writing prompt. Not many other instructions, just, “remember to use paragraphs and proper spelling.” Thankfully, times have changed a lot since then!

Anyway, one prompt was something along the lines of, “I was walking in a forest...”

My little brain decided I could hear gypsy music in my story. Now, I was a blonde, blue-eyed, middle class, naive little ten-year-old. This story was all of a page long (handwritten - way before computers). In it, I followed the gypsy music and soon saw fire glowing. As I crept closer, the music intensified in both volume and emotion. It was sad, so sad. As I neared the clearing, I saw the old man playing his violin while his caravan burned. I knew his wife had died, and he was burning the physical objects so he could keep the memories.

Sappy, overwritten, overly-dramatic drivel. And all in one page :)

But, it was a powerful enough attempt for me to remember all these years later. In fact, I can still see the scene perefectly in my mind's eye. Probably one of the first signs I’d need to write. Which of your childhood stories have stayed with you?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Who's Your Hero?

"The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example."
-- Benjamin Disraeli

Like many women, my dad was my first hero, my first example of what it takes to be a man.

I’m one of the lucky ones. My dad continues to be a powerful, positive focus in my life, even though he died several years ago. My dad was a strong man, with a very low tolerance for laziness, stupidity and baloney. He kept his word. Always. You knew where you stood with dad, whether you liked it or not.

My dad wasn’t always popular at his job. He was a stickler for rules and for always doing your best work. He was promoted into a position of authority at a very young age. Some of the older folks weren’t impressed with taking orders from a young ‘un – although I’m sure they had much more interesting names for him! At his funeral, it was really touching to hear from these older men how they’d disliked or hated him at the beginning, but how he’d earned their respect and their trust. More good memories to add to my many personal ones.

The heroes in my novels tend to follow in at least one set of my dad’s footsteps. Sometimes more. But never so many that it’s a bit creepy :) They’re all strong, all men of their word.

So, how about you? Who’s your real-life hero? Does he show up in your work?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Agent Query

All aspiring authors need to check out this site! It’s an amazing resource for all aspects of writing. I first stumbled across this site when I finally decided it was time to get a little more serious about my writing. I think I’ve always written, but it was always just for me. For fun.

Agent Query has it all. There is great advice for everything from writing the dreaded query letter and synopsis to finding an agent. Their database of agent information is truly incredible and very user friendly.

Agent Query Connect is a free forum for writers. There are well over 100 discussion groups to help you out. The most popular is the Query Critique forum. Writers at all stages of their careers help each other to create the best queries possible. Other groups focus on first pages, first chapters, agent updates, writing tips, and so much more. There are also several critique groups focusing on various genres.

Check it out using the link on the side. You won’t regret it!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Character Names

I am currently letting ideas for my next ms run around in my head. It’s an exciting time – a fresh story building, new characters to meet, crazy new villains and plots.

The heritage of the characters is going to be an integral part of this story. I’ve got folks of Scottish, Chippewa and Comanche heritage interacting this time. It should be an interesting plot, with the clues for solving the major dilemma coming from pieces of the characters’ cultures.

Coming up with names for the characters is always fun. Thankfully, the Internet exists, and I don’t have to rely on only my small city’s resources for information! There are some really great names from these cultures. Ayasha, Nocona, Migisi, Nokomis, and Keezheekoni are a few of my faves. Gorgeous, aren’t they? I can’t wait to see who will show up in my ms!

Where do you go for your character names? Internet, real life, books? I’d love to hear some stories of how you find identities for your characters.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Back to School!

It's September again! Where did that summer go?

I have a great classroom full of kids this year, and I'm glad to be back at it (Yes, I LOVE my job!), but...

Now I'm back to the struggle of finding the time to write, to work on the dreaded query, to do agent research, to send out those queries, to read the agent blogs, to twitter, to visit blogs of friends, to blog myself. And to breathe. Oh, yeah, I have a family and house to take care of too. Did someone say sleep? Not a chance :)

I tend to check out blogs while I'm getting supper ready, or just after, and then focus on the writing much later on in the evening. Too much multi-tasking required earlier!

What about you? When do you squeeze in the time? What's the best time of day for you to find your focus?

Monday, August 31, 2009

Tweetchat in the Twitter-verse

I ventured into that alternate reality, the Twitter-verse this weekend. I joined Twitter earlier this month, around the same time I started blogging. New and exciting endeavours all the way around :)

My learning curve in the Twitter-verse has been steep at times, with a few bumps along the road. Honestly it was a little overwhelming at first - with a touch of "Am I Crazy?" thrown in. But, I'm learning!

My latest achievement is learning about Tweetchats. Thanks to fellow Twitterer, Inkyelbows, I found out there are live chats for writers on Twitter. So I followed her handy-dandy, easy to follow link and instructions (http://www.inkygirl.com/twitter-chats-for-writers/), and found myself in the chatroom.

What a rollercoaster ride! Comments fly back and forth with amazing speed. Some people can multi-task like I've never seen. There were so many interesting comments and contributers! I mostly lurked this time, but I'm already looking forward to the next time.

How many of you have entered the Twitter-verse? Will I see you in a TweetChat?

Friday, August 28, 2009

What a Week!

Wow, this has not been my week for electronics.

First, my laptop went belly-up. Not completely, but required a repair worth a couple of hundred dollars. Not worth it on a 3 year old machine. So, I'm on a new laptop and my wallet is rather light :)

Then... the television decided not to work anymore. Then the ringer on the cell phone decided it preferred silent mode - in every mode. Sigh.

Maybe I should check my horoscope before I turn on anything else!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Research Help

I've chosen an idea for my next novel. So exciting!

I need some help with research. The Internet can only tell me so much. Some of my characters will be members of the Chippewa tribe. I need to create some new mythology, and I want to make sure I keep it in line with the actual belief system. I also need to make sure I'm not messing up the language when I've combined a couple of words. So, if you know of anyone of Chippewa heritage who might be willing to answer a couple of questions, please send them my way! Thanks :)

Monday, August 24, 2009

New Ideas

I’ve been revising and editing for months and months. For the most part I enjoy both of these tasks. It’s exciting to see how each change improves the story or the flow or the characterization. But...

I’ve also got a lot of ideas for new stories rolling around in my head, trying desperately to get out. I work out parts of the story before I put anything at all down on my laptop. The first scenes I imagine are the ones at the end of the story - the culmination scenes. From there I develop the main character, then the other characters. The setting is usually interwoven throughout these scenes, but I start fine-tuning it at this point. Then I jump backwards to the beginning part of the story.

I know where the characters end up. I just need to start writing so I can find out how they get there.

So, what comes first when you get a new idea: the ending, the beginning, the setting or the characters?

Friday, August 21, 2009

7 Things About Me

The Editorial Ass blog (aka Moonrat) has a great post today entitled 7 Things About Me.

Here's the link http://editorialass.blogspot.com/

Following along with her post, here are the 7 things about me:

1. My dad chose my middle name - it’s my mom’s first name, which she hates.

2. I can’t read or watch anything without a happy ending. My teenagers screen movies for me because I become quite an embarrassing mess if it’s a sad ending. Worse - I scream - loudly - if it's scary.

3. I love working with troubled kids - although I think that explains my penchant for romance, fantasy and happy endings.

4. Never owned a pet growing up.

5. Had three very vivid imaginary friends - possibly in response to #4 :)

6. I’m a Trekkie - oops, did I say that out loud? No costumes or toys though, so it’s okay. Right?

7. I love the smell of coffee, but can’t stand the taste. Earl Grey tea for me!

Anyone out there willing to share?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Contests and Confidence

I've put the first 250 words of my current ms in the Secret Agent contest over at Miss Snark's First Victim's Blog. If you are an aspiring author, this is a blog you really have to read!

It takes a lot for me to put my writing out there for other people, and I'm wondering how common that is for writers. As I read authors' blogs, tweets and websites, I'm struck by the amount of self-confidence I see. Is that the norm? Is it part of the person or the persona?

I wonder how easy it was for published writers to put their work on display before they got published. It's become easier for me, mostly thanks to some wonderful critique partners who mix in just the right amount of support, advice and humour with their comments.

Do you find it easy or difficult to put your writing "out there"? What gave you that first boost to let someone else read your work?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Sand Art

Normally, I use this blog to talk about writing, but I need to share this. It is one of the most powerful things I have ever seen. This is from the Ukrainian version of "... Has Talent".

If you haven't seen sand art before, you will be amazed. It's set to music, so make sure your speakers are on. I've used Sand Art clips in the past to inspire my students in exploring their creativity, and I can't wait to show this one. What a message. Apparently the words she writes at the end translate into, "You are always near."


Saturday, August 15, 2009

Dialogue Tags

My lastest round of edits is all about dialogue tags. I am working on breaking my addiciton to them. In one scene, there were about 15 pieces of dialogue together. There were only two characters, so it wouldn't have been difficult for the reader to keep track. Yet, I tagged every single piece of dialogue!

Now, not every tag was an official tag. In many cases, the dialogue stood alone, but I'd felt compelled to add an explanatory sentence before or after. Ex., Nick shrugged and turned away.

Thankfully, one of my crit partners noticed my addiction. I eliminated a ton in this last edit round. The dialogue and scenes flow much more smoothly now. Of course, the pace is better too.

Don't you just love it when a simple change makes your writing stronger?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Ready, Set, ... Blog!

Okay, deep breath...plunge...surface. Mmmm. Swimming in the blog pool may not be as scary as first anticipated.

As an aspiring author, words are a way of life. Thinking about them, mulling over word choice, and writing them to best express ourselves, are what we writers do every day. Blogging is an extension of our need to communicate with others, our need to express what’s inside of us. As an added bonus - it’s fun!

Blogging has become a world-wide phenomena in such a short time. There are so many blogs, on so many topics. Pretty much irresistible for a writer and a reader, don't you think? So, don’t resist - keep in touch. You know you want to :)