Saturday, December 25, 2010

It's A Wonderful Life

The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other. ~Burton Hillis

Writers are lucky. We have our regular families, and we have a writing family.

This year it's been fun witnessing blogger buddies publish books, snag agents, start and finish books, and support each other.

As we near the end of 2010, it's a great time to look back on our accomplishments. Some were large, some were small, but each one is worth celebrating.

The writing life is a wonderful life, and I'm thankful I've become a part of yours.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Grinch Who Stole Confidence

My confidence sparkled beneath my tree
The words kept me going, and helped me believe

It was wrapped up all pretty and tied with a bow
"You can do it, You're Awesome, Yay, Way to Go!"

Faith in my writing soon disappeared
Replaced with belief that my words were all weird

The chatter grew louder, it banged in my head
The Grinch stole my pluck, left my writing for dead

"Back away, Grinch!" I shouted with verve
"You can't take my faith, nor my courage and nerve!"

"I'll fall, to be sure, that's part of the game.
What you're doing is cruel, and your costume is lame."

He slipped up my chimney, scurried out like a mouse
I kept his cute doggie, cuz hey, it's my house

Words peeked through his bag, dumped without care
"You'd better not quit. No, don't you dare."

And so writer friends, shouldn't we know?
Hang tight to your confidence, don't let it go!

Has the Grinch ever stolen your confidence?
How did you snatch it back from the green beast?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Gift of Patience

Patience is something you admire in the driver behind you, and scorn in the one ahead. - Mac McCleary

This holiday season, my wish for each of us is to receive the gift of patience.

Patience with the outside world
We'll drive through jammed streets, and battle for parking spaces. Some of us might visit a crowded mall and experience stressed out store clerks.

Patience with the writing world
We've all learned that the publishing industry moves at a glacial pace. Agents and editors are regular people with their own families and traditions to attend to. We might not receive the news we want at the time we want (a great post about this here).

Patience with ourselves
We do the best we can with the time we have. We may write about super heroes or extraordinary powers, but that's fiction. If we picture ourselves in slow motion, enjoying our friends and family, perhaps we'll cherish the season a bit more.

In the words of Benjamin Disraeli, "Patience is a necessary ingredient of genius." Do you struggle with patience at this time of year, or do you take it all in stride?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Exposition Blues

Exposition: a comprehensive description and explanation of an idea or theory.

Try not to laugh. When I first joined my critique group, I was told I'd written too much exposition. I nodded, as if I knew what that meant, then went home and looked it up in the dictionary. So much for being a woman of words!

Now that I know what it means (ahem), I work hard to avoid information dumps. In Plot & Structure, James Scott Bell outlines these rules to avoid exposition:
  1. Act first, explain later. Begin with a character in motion. Readers won't demand to know everything up front. You can drop in information as necessary.
  2. When you explain, do the iceberg. Don't tell us everything about the character's past history or current situation. Give us the 10% above the surface that is necessary to understand what's going on. Keep the other 90% a mystery.
  3. Set information inside confrontation. Using the character's thoughts or words, you can drip, drip, drip crucial information for the reader.
When reading novels, I'm fine with not knowing all the reasons why something is happening. I store clues in my brain, knowing their purpose will be revealed later. Once the puzzle is pieced together, it's such a satisfying feeling.

Do you ever experience the Exposition Blues? If so, what's your cure?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Fun With Book Dedications

The above book dedication was from A.A. Milne, author of Winnie-the-Pooh, to his wife Daphne. How sweet is that?

Do you ever wonder what you'll write as your book dedication when you're published? And if you're published, do you wonder who you'll dedicate your next book to?

There's no doubt I'll dedicate mine to my husband and three sons. They're the loves of my life, and they put up with my head-in-the-cloud forgetfulness too often (missed my kids dentist appointments...twice!)

And if I were being quirky, I'd dedicate my book to the following:
  • To my Sparkletts guy. Thanks for delivering water to my home in the boonies. I guzzle it every day while I'm pecking away on the keyboard.
  • To Lifesavers. Your delicious hard candies are my constant companion when I'm writing (less white ones in the bag, please).
  • To Colin Firth. Thanks for playing Mr. Darcy, and for wearing that white shirt in the lake scene.
There you have it. My someday dedication, and my goofy ones. How about you? What would be your real and/or quirky book dedications?

photo credit: google images

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Ac-count-a-ble: required or expected to justify actions or decisions; responsible

I was nervous about coming out of the closet as a writer. Before anyone knew, it wasn't embarrassing if I failed. It didn't matter if I finished manuscripts and submitted them to agents or editors.

When I finally came out, my family and friends were encouraging. And now that I'm blogging, the support has multiplied in amazing ways. Making it known that I'm writing and seeking publication also made me accountable. Some benefits of accountability are:
  • Motivation: if we know that other people are keeping track of and monitoring our actions, we're motivated to produce. When we belong to a critique group, we're encouraged to write fresh pages. This keeps us moving forward.
  • Improvement: when we're accountable, we work harder. When we work harder, our writing improves. No matter where we are in our writing lives, there's always room for advancement.
  • Relationships: accountability promotes good working relationships. Our critique partners trust us, and vice versa. There's a sense of teamwork around each project we work on together.
  • Courage: it's not easy putting ourselves out there. We pour our hearts and souls on the page, then offer it up for a thumbs up or thumbs down. This helps strengthen our body armor.
When we're accountable, others are watching us. The good thing is, people are there to lift us up when we fail, and they'll help celebrate when we succeed.

How about you? Do you find that being accountable helps with your writing?

photo credit: google images

Saturday, December 4, 2010

No Pressure!

I'm reading "Writing Magic" by Gail Carson Levine (thanks, Julie Hedlund!). Levine lists these easy-to-f0llow rules for writing:
  1. The best way to write better is to write more.
  2. The best way to write better is to write more.
  3. The best way to write better is to write more. (Hmmm, I'm noticing a pattern)
  4. Write whenever you can, even if it's only for five minutes.
  5. Read. (We all love reading, right?)
  6. Reread a beloved book. (I should do this more often)
  7. Save everything you write, even if you don't like it. Levine suggests keeping everything for at least 15 years. (Wow)
Levine's first three rules got me thinking: she says write more, but doesn't say we must write every day. Semantics?

I try writing every day, but it's not always possible. Does that make me less of a writer? Not so, says Elana Johnson in her post Don't Write Every Day.

And according to the post Don't Write Often, if we're only producing volume, without improving our skills, we're not helping ourselves.

It's important that we hang on to the joy of writing. As Levine suggests, we can sharpen our skills, read great stories, and add words to the page on a regular basis. All without putting too much pressure on ourselves.

How often do you write? If it's not every day, do you feel guilty?

photo credit: google images

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Creating a Splash!

Today's post is all about Talli Roland. Her book, The Hating Game, released today!

Talli is one heck of a blogger, and a huge supporter of writers. Let's see if we can cause the folks at Amazon to scratch their heads in disbelief at how quickly Talli's book climbs up the list.


When man-eater Mattie Johns agrees to star on a dating game show to save her ailing recruitment business, she's confident she'll sail through to the end without letting down the perma-guard she's perfected from years of her love 'em and leave 'em dating strategy. After all, what can go wrong with dating a few losers and hanging out long enough to pick up a juicy £2000,000 prize? Plenty, Mattie discovers, when it's revealed that the contestants are four of her very unhappy exes. Can Mattie confront her past to get the prize money she so desperately needs, or will her exes finally wreak their long-awaited revenge? And what about the ambitious TV producer whose career depends on stopping her from making it to the end?

Sounds awesome, right? I can totally picture this as a movie. Plus, doesn't everything sound better with a British accent?

The Hating Game on

The Hating Game on