Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Cover Dream (or Thank Goodness My Nose Wasn't Red)

Today's blog post is about dreams and waking up.

Hahaha! I betcha thought I was going to write about how it's not a good idea to start a novel with a dream sequence or with your MC waking up.

If I'm being honest, and I am, I have to tell you that my first attempt at writing a middle grade novel began with my MC waking up to the sound of her alarm clock ringing, complete with the onomatopoeia, Rrrring! (btw, how cool is the word onomatopoeia? I love saying it but totally had to look up the spelling. Four vowels in a row? Cool! /spellingnerdtangent). I proceeded to write a backstory scene while Samantha was lying in bed thinking about it. I thought it was gold. Ugh. Bo-ring. Little did I know at the time, waking up scenes at the beginning of a story are a big no-no with agents and editors.

What this post is really about is the dream I had last night. I hardly ever remember my dreams and I've never had a dream about writing. I've never pulled a Stephenie Myer either. Right before I woke up I had a dream of walking in a bookstore. Not a ginormous bookstore like a Barnes & Noble, but instead I walked into a messy, disorganized room with books piled haphazardly on tables and chairs. As I glanced around I recognized a book cover from a friend (perhaps yours, Donna?) and thought, "How cool!" Then I turned around and there it was...

My book! With a big ol' picture of me grinning on the cover! Ha! As if that would sell a boatload of books. But in the dream I looked at it and said, "Hey, that's not so bad! Thank goodness they picked a pretty good picture of me. And my nose doesn't look like Rudolph's." How weird is that?

I stink at dream analysis, but maybe it's a good omen; a dream I hope will come true some day. But I think I'd like to keep my author pic on the inside of the cover. In the back. Hmm, maybe a black and white.

Monday, September 27, 2010

One of Those Days

Today's plan was to drop off the kids at school, start some laundry, go to work and then spend an hour at the library writing before picking the kids up. Today was the only day this week I had a good chance of getting there and I was really looking forward it. But due to some unforeseen circumstances (don't you just hate those?), I couldn't manage to squeeze in that hour.

Once I got home, it was impossible to sit down and write. Just too much going on. I thought, "Well, maybe once I finish this I can go upstairs where it's quiet." Of course this was the day my neighbor decided to expand his driveway. Expanding a driveway is NOT quiet in case you were wondering. All kinds of machinery and trucks and loud noises were involved. "Well maybe after dinner...after the dishes...after...after...after..." Just too many afters tonight.

But it wasn't a total loss. No, I didn't get any writing done. But I discovered something about myself. I LOVE to write! No, really! And yes, I already knew that in my head of course. But today, the longing to sit down and write was overwhelming. I felt it right down to my toes.

Yeah, writing can be frustrating to the point of wanting to delete chapters or throw the notebook across the room (um, not that I ever did that *crosses fingers*), but the flip side is the rush when a scene seems to fly from your fingertips. Or those lightbulb moments that come out of nowhere that are so brilliant. You just know it's perfect and you can't wait to flesh it out on paper (or computer). I had such a moment in the shower last night and couldn't wait to write the scene that would accompany that thought. That's why the disappointment hit me hard today. I never got the chance.

But tomorrow's another day. It should be a quiet afternoon with only one at home. It won't be the library, but maybe I can tempt my muse to visit here with a new supply of chocolate.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Deathly Hallows, Part 1 Trailer

In my best Chandler Bing voice. "Could I BE any more excited for November 19th?"

Can't wait!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


As I drove home tonight from soccer practice, the full moon was rising. Beautiful.

Bittersweet thoughts of the last day of summer swirled around like the wispy clouds flitting across the moon. Summer passes much too quickly for my liking. I often find myself mourning the loss of carefree days, late nights, and visits to the ocean.

The first day of autumn is tomorrow.

I love living in a part of the United States which has four very distinct seasons.

New Englanders love to argue about which season is the best; we all have our favorite one and the stubborn streak to defend our choice along with it.

Although summer is my favorite, I love them all. Okay, maybe love is too strong of a word to describe how I feel about winter, but I do appreciate its beauty.

Autumn is a favorite of many people living here. Travelers from all over the country visit New England for the beautiful fall foliage which decorates our mountains, forests, and neighborhoods. And though I too love the warm days and cool nights, there's usually a "yeah but" that nags at my brain. Autumn is beautiful... yeah but it leads into the endless, bleak winter.

This year I plan to treasure each day of fall. I don't always appreciate the crisp autumn days with its blue sky and the brilliant reds, oranges, and yellows that decorate each tree because I'm thinking of next week, next month the next season. "Oh, the trees are pretty, but I'm dreading winter." Now how fair is that? What did autumn ever do to me? After all, my birthday is in the fall.

So this year I'm all about autumn love. No whining! Sounds simple and yet I always seem to get caught up in the negative - ugh, the days are shorter, the wind chill blows right through me, more leaves to rake! This year I'm treating each day as a gift and appreciating all it has to offer, trying to avoid worrying about a future I can't control.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Speak Up

First, please read this post over at Mad Woman in the Forest, Laurie Halse Anderson's blog. To say I'm angry is an understatement.

This book made me feel.
This book made me cry.
This book has helped so many young girls and boys care, know they were not alone, that it wasn't their fault, that they could SPEAK.

I wish that I had this book to pass on to some of my friends when I was a teen, a college student. I will strongly encourage my daughters to read this book.

If you've read Speak you know how powerful this book is.

If you haven't, watch Laurie Halse Anderson reading a poem she composed mainly from the reactions of readers who sent her mail after reading Speak, and you'll get a sense of the impact her book has had on them. Maybe you'll be inspired to read it. The name you hear, Melinda, is the name of the main character.

If you feel inclined to speak out against Dr. Wesley Scoggins and his poisonous remarks you can do so by clicking the links on Laurie's site. Why can't more energy be used toward educating people and helping the victims who feel they have no voice, like Laurie has done with one book?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Inspiration Celebration

I know I'm not the only one who doubts and questions my writing. I'm not the only one who feels like giving up at times. What keeps me going are the people and things which inspire me. Especially during those moments when I'm lacking confidence in my ability. You know, while writing those crappy first drafts? When words seem bland, the characters flat, and the plot filled with more holes than a piece of swiss cheese. It's so easy to give up and do something less frustrating, like matching a laundry basket full of socks.

As I started thinking about it I realized a post on where I find my inspiration would be too long. There are just too many. I don't know if having so many sources to choose from comes from luck or simply from the ability to recognize and be truly thankful for them. I suspect the latter. So instead I'm going to post maybe twice a month about a source of inspiration. A person, place, or thing which inspires me to write or what I write about.

Okay, so first up - my parents. I might as well start at the beginning. My mom and dad taught me the value of working hard. Dad wasn't (and still isn't) a reader. He would scan through our daily newspaper, but I've never seen him sit down to read a book. Mainly because the man cannot sit still. He always has some type of project he's working on whether it's wallpapering/painting a room, knocking out walls, building something or planting a garden. My dad is also artistic and when I was little we would sit at the kitchen table on Saturday mornings and draw together with Captain Bob. And although my dad wasn't a reader, he loved making up stories. Part of my bedtime routine included dad's stories about three mice brothers and their adventures. Then it would be my turn. And more often than naught, I'd repeat the exact same story with different animals.

Mom, on the other hand, loves to read. My childhood memories of mom include her starting her day early (like 4:30am early!) by enjoying a couple cups of coffee and her latest Good Housekeeping magazine or paperback - usually a mystery, supernatural or horror. She adored Stephen King and always looked forward to his latest paperback. My love of the library came from Mom who took me for my first card (the cardboard kind w/ a metal plate). She was the first to introduce me to Nancy Drew and helped me build my collection. I loved visiting the library and was amazed that they let me borrow so many books for free!

My parents inspired me to believe in myself, that I could do anything I wanted if I worked hard enough, and that creating was a worthy pursuit - one that was both satisfying and a source of joy. Combine that with my love of books and reading, and voila, a writer was born!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Change and Adjustments

Isn't it freaky when another person in the literary world blogs on a topic that you were just thinking about and planning on blogging on yourself? That happened to me today. Have you seen Nathan Bransford's post on burnout? Go check it out and come on back.

I feel like a wimp complaining that I'm burned out. Why? I had the whole summer off, I've been working part-time for only a week, and have a great husband who helps me a LOT. But seriously, I am dragging like you wouldn't believe. At 3:00 every afternoon, my energy level plummets and I long for a nap. Unfortunately, I can't sneak in a snooze (and not because my bed is covered with unfolded laundry. Nope.). I really don't think I'm burned out. If I am, I'm in serious trouble - it's only September! I think my body is adjusting to change.

So far my strategy has been to try to get to bed earlier, though I need to work on that some more. I have a little rebellious streak in me that likes to stay up until 11:00pm. I also need to just give myself time. Time to adjust to my new schedule and to get the necessary daily tasks done more efficiently. Hopefully, that will give me some time to write without it feeling like a chore. Because really, why would I put myself through that if it wasn't what I felt passionate about?

I don't mind change. Change is good. It challenges me to grow. But sometimes it's mixed with frustration as I try and adjust from something comfortable to something different and challenging. Maybe I just need another cup of tea.

Monday, September 13, 2010

How to Read While Eating

It's hard to find time to read every day now that I'm back to a crazy schedule. If you're like me, you love to read any chance you get. Right now I'm reading Paranormalcy, by Kiersten White. I usually take the book I'm currently reading in the car so I'll have it with me when I have to wait for kids or if I have an appointment. One of the ways I squeeze reading time in is by reading while I eat breakfast or lunch. However, the last thing I want is for my book to be soiled, especially if it's new and pretty like this one. And don't you hate when you're reading a library book and you turn to a page with gross, food smudges or stains on it?


Here's a little helpful guide to prevent that from happening.

1. Prepare your reading spot: Wipe the table of anything that might stick to a book before placing it down. In my house that includes Silly Putty, water rings from cups, crumbs, nail polish. Don't forget to dry your spot with a towel to prevent a wet book.

2. Book Placement: I'm right-handed and have found that placing my book to my left prevents me from eating or holding food over my book. Eat to my right, read to my left. I'll assume that left-handed people would most likely benefit from eat to the left, read to the right.

3. Open book before eating: This is beneficial for two reasons. a) Food touched before opening book might soil a page. b) Searching for a page may lead to hot food cooling down. Using a prop is helpful for keeping a book open while reading. Napkin holders work well as do any heavy object within range.

4. Hold a napkin in left hand (if you're a righty like me): Besides the obvious use of a) wiping fingers every time you need to turn a page, napkins have other essential uses. b) It quickly serves as a mouth shield when reading a laugh-out-loud moment, preventing nasty food expulsions onto your book. c) Can serve as a tissue to dab the eyes during sad scenes.

5. Beverages: They can be quite a threat to a pristine book, particularly if children are at the table (trust me on this one). But with special care and attention one can avoid spillage and soilage. Paper or plastic disposable cups are a no no while reading. The slightest upheaval can send a flood of liquid to forever stain and crinkle your book pages. To avoid this, a weighty cup placed as far away from eating area (but within reaching distance) is advisable. Keeping plenty of napkins close by is also helpful.

6. Ending the reading/eating experience: I try to stop at the end of a chapter, wipe my fingers with my hand held napkin, close and push my book away from the eating area, and either finish my meal or clean up my spot.

Following these steps should provide you with an enjoyable reading and eating experience. Using your time wisely by engaging in two pleasurable activities simultaneously will leave you well fed and well read.

Unless you are totally disgusted by the mere thought of anyone eating and reading at the same, feel free to leave any other helpful tips that I may have missed below.

Friday, September 10, 2010

My Muse is Not From Xanadu

Does anyone remember the movie Xanadu starring Olivia Newton-John?(I'm definitely showing my age here). Kira (Olivia) was a muse who was sent to inspire a struggling artist. I loved this movie and played the album over and over again. Take a trip down memory lane with me. Or if you're too young, here's why 80s fashion can NOT make a come back any time soon.

Okay, confession time. For a while I wanted to BE Olivia Newton-John. I longed for a muse to come and touch my voice so that I could sing like Olivia. Yeah, that didn't happen. I'm a brunette and couldn't touch the final high note of Xanadu with a ten foot pole. So then I wanted to be Pat Benatar. But that's another story.

My muse is not from Xanadu. My muse lives at the library.

She flits among the book shelves and flies up to the high ceilings. When I walk through the entrance she senses my presence and beckons me to my favorite room upstairs. She waits patiently while I empty my tote bag. I begin my ritual of spreading out and setting up my notebooks, pencil, cell phone (on vibrate), and post-its at my table. Before she sprinkles her magic, she waits for a treat. She knows I have a sweet tooth. We've been known to share Hershey nuggets, Eclipse mints, and Sour Patch Kids. Then she goes to work.

The library is where I always work best. There are no distractions (except for trying not to crinkle my candy wrappers too loudly) at the library. The writing flows so freely there. It's amazing how focused I become. I can often reach between 500 - 800 words an hour thanks to my little muse. I'm thinking of leaving a trail of candy on the way home to see if she'll follow me.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Has this ever happened to you?

You're working on a novel and you're making good progress. Then out the blue an idea for another novel - BAM!! - hits you out of nowhere. At first it's just a spark of an idea - a 'hmm...what if...' question tickles your brain. You put it aside, and then - WHAP!! - something else which follows that idea keeps you thinking about it. Then soon you find yourself thinking it about it A LOT. I mean, ALL THE TIME. And it threatens to take your focus off your original WiP.

That happened to me recently. Most of my novel ideas come out of nowhere, usually when I'm doing some sort of menial task. My second novel spark flickered when I was taking a trash bag out to the garage. Not too long ago, I was washing dishes, my mind began to wander, and different thoughts starting rising up like the bubbles in my dish pan. When an idea comes into my head, I jot it down fast lest I forget it. Then I add it to my 'Children's Novel Ideas' file for future reference. I have little phrases, song lines, questions, something silly one of my kids says, a potpourri of possibilities that I might develop into a story some day. Usually, I add my latest one to the list and forget about it. But this one has been distracting me and I'm excited about developing it into a novel.

When I went to pick up one of my kids from track practice last week, I didn't know what time he'd be finishing up. I took a guess, showed up, and ended up waiting for an hour in my car. But it wasn't a wasted hour because I came equipped with my notebook and the current book I was reading. The dish washing idea had started to take shape, so I spent a good part of that hour jotting down ideas. As I wrote down one idea, another came, and then another. I didn't worry if it made sense, I just wrote and wrote. I even came up with names, something which for me usually happens later in the brainstorming process. Before I knew it I had two full pages. I'm really excited about developing an outline from these notes, but I want to keep working on my current WiP.

I'll let you in on a little secret. I've started 3 novels so far and haven't finished a one. This was going to be the year I finally completed a novel. I don't want to get sidetracked right now, so I'm putting this new idea on the back burner. I'm thinking I may use it for this year's NaNoWriMo - working hard on Nitpicky through Sept. and Oct., then taking a break to do the NNWM (Ha! as if that's really a break). But, for myself, it's important that I finish Nitpicky, even if it doesn't end up being "the one." (more on that another time)

Now, this is where I need your help. The story idea I'd like to develop is a ghost story. However, I haven't read a lot of them. Like none. I'd really like to know and read what is currently out on the market. I recently read on the children's book review blog, Searching for a Good Read a review for The Prince of Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, a YA ghost story. I checked it out of my library and will start reading it this week. So, if you've read or have heard of a good YA ghost story, preferably current (within the last 10 years) which you're dying (pardon the pun) to tell me about, please leave the title in the comments and I would be oh so grateful.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Of Squirrels and Word Counts

The other day I sat at my kitchen table and looked out my sliding glass doors to the back yard. Something round and white moved in the grass behind a small slide. My curiousity got the best of me. I stood up and saw a squirrel carrying a round piece of bread that was at least twice the size of its head! Take a moment and picture that if you'd like. I wish my camera had been in the room.

The squirrel carried the bread in its mouth and disappeared up into the giant maple. Amused, I sat back down at the table. A moment later the squirrel was back at the bottom because the bread had dropped out of its mouth. Again, it tryed to pick up the bread that was TWICE THE SIZE OF ITS HEAD. It finally managed to hold the bread between its teeth and resume its climb. Persistent little thing, I thought.

Not long ago I made a crazy squirrel-like goal for myself. 10k words written in one weekend. 10k words in a loooooong weekend. A word count that's at least twice the size of my No, scratch that. I don't really know if its within my ability, yet. I started on Friday and had a rockin good start - around a thousand. No problem. Saturday - NOT ONE WORD. Sunday, another thousand. Monday's not over yet, but I'm not planning on reaching 8k today.

There have been lots of distractions this weekend. Distractions are not necessarily a bad thing, though. In fact, I've had a lot of wonderful ones. Two of those distractions happened right here in Blogville. Thanks to Donna's Blog Party and Karen G's BBQ I've met some lovely friends, some who write and some who encourage those of us who write. I don't consider the time I spent visiting blogs and meeting new people as wasted writing time at all. We're in this writing thing together, right? We need all the support and encouragement we can get!

Spending time with my family has been another happy distraction. Nothing special, but it's the last laid back, stress-free weekend we have together before the madness of schoolworksoccerhomeworkpractice-ohwehavetoeat-laundrywritedrivingdrivingdrivingbed. (Note to self: don't forget to breathe.) Family will always be my first priority.

Even though I did bite off a bit more than I can chew this weekend, I'm not going to beat myself up over it. I'm still proud of what I've accomplished so far. I can pick up my piece of bread, keep on plugging away at my novel, and continue to climb up that tree. On second thought, I think I'll skip the tree climbing.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Open House

If you're blog hopping your way over from the the lovely, Donna Hosie's, Musings of A Penniless Writer blog, or just happened to stumble by, then welcome! Feel free to indulge in the decadent chocolate fountain and look around. I'm a blogging newbie, just started last month, so keep in mind, it's a work in progress. And now for the bad poetry.

An Open House Message

Welcome friends and visitors
And those who love to lurk,
Your presence here's delightful
A break from all my work.

Please look around and feel at home
I hope you'll read a bit.
May I offer you a beverage
And endless choc-o-late?

Just click below to comment
And leave a link and name.
I'd love to return your favor
By offering the same.

I thank the lovely Donna
Whose musings make me smile,
For hosting a fab party
With charm, (hot men) and style!

A gift for the hostess ----------> chocolate shoes!

p.s. I apologize for not preparing a topic to blog about today. As you may have read in this previous post, I'm in middle of trying to add 10k to my upper MG novel, Nitpicky (working title). Not to mention preparing for another visitor, Hurricane Earl who will be passing by tonight. I'm crossing my fingers that he won't throw a tantrum. Word is he's mellowed out over the last 24 hours, but I'm not taking any chances.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Last Hurrah

In six days I'll be returning to work and need to get some things done before then. I love lists. I especially love crossing things off lists. Unfortunately, I get a bit enthusiastic and ambitious, adding things I just know I'll never get to. And this one is the same. My hope is that if put it on the blog it will guilt me into accomplishing most, if not all of it.
  1. Declutter my room. I really need to do this!
  2. Clean out 2 closets. Long overdue.
  3. Iron back-to-school-and-work clothes
  4. Label school stuff and pack backpacks
  5. Finish weeding my garden. I'm halfway there!
  6. Go out for Chinese food with friend. I need some fun in the middle of all this, right?
  7. Color my gray stripe which is reaching the inch mark.
  8. Write 10,000 words this weekend. Say what?

In the spirit of jumping on the bandwagon and riding into the sunset with dreams of finishing this first draft, I sort of committed myself to a writing challenge.

Sigh. Do I ever learn?

Over at Nathan's, one member started a Labor Day Weekend Write-Off. Set a goal and write like crazy for 3 days. Kind of like a mini NaNoWriMo. 10,000 words in 3 days sounded like a good idea at the time. I've never written that amount in such a short time but I'm going to give it a try. A last hurrah as the end of summer approaches. Sure, I could edit my post. I mean, would anyone really notice if I changed the amount to, oh, I don't know, 5,000 words? But no, I'll stick to my original goal (with the cloud of humiliation when I report back hanging over my head if I don't at least come within range). Speaking of end of summer hurrahs, I need to add one more thing to my list.

9. Take the family out for a long drive ending in icecream. No word count is going to take that away from me!