Thursday, January 29, 2009

My Attitude Today

It's not about making it through the storm. It's about dancing in the raindrops.

This inspiration is brought to you courtesy of comedian and cancer survivor, Robert Schimmel.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Writing Like a Reader

I'm sure you've heard of reading like a writer... today I'd like to talk about writing like a reader.

Here's how I read:

1. I read novels for kids. Therefore I write novels for kids.

2. If I'm reading a book and not totally in love with it, I'll stop. I definitely don't have to finish something just because I started it. The same goes for my writing. I write about 50 pages of a new novel before I realize I don't want to write it (usually), or I am absolutely compelled to finish it (rarely... exactly twice in my life).

3. If a book is suspenseful, I will stay up way too late to finish it. Or I might blow off everything on my to-do list to read it, with the rationalization that reading is part of my job. Similarly, I've found I need to create suspense when I'm writing. And my recent experiment with being a NYNNie taught me how to do that. I simply didn't allow myself to check e-mail, Facebook, or anything on the Internet until I had finished writing 2000 words each day. The suspense of wondering what e-mails were waiting for me kept me glued to my desk, writing like a fiend. With this strategy, it only took me a week (instead of my usual 3-4 months) to figure out I didn't want to write my new novel.

4. When I'm reading a book, I'm constantly thinking about where the author is going, how he or she is playing with my emotions, what might come next. When I'm writing, I often pretend to be a reader. I literally imagine turning the pages of my book, seeing what would come next if the story were finished.

5. I love books that make me laugh or cry. Books that show regular kids growing up and seeing themselves and the world in a new light. My aim, always, is to write books like that.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Puppy Update

A few people have asked to see updated photos of our mini-whoodle, Ozzy. He's now 4 months old and about 15 pounds. So incredibly sweet and wonderful! Even though he's a huge responsibility, I can't imagine life without him.
I'm just really really really wishing for a fenced backyard!

Playing with a stick in the snow. He LOVES the snow!

Ozzy giving love to Sammy.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Brag Time

Is it okay to brag for a minute about my son Sammy?
I promise, it will just take a minute.
But man, that boy can write!

He just completed a first draft of a 150-page fantasy novel. And he is 12-years-old.
Here's a little excerpt...

"We have a very interesting assembly planned for you today, kids," began the principal of New Longance Elementary School. "These people volunteered to teach you about the dangers of alcohol and dr--"

He was interrupted by a faint rumbling noise. Thinking it was only thunder, he continued. He had barely finished his sentence when another rumbling noise echoed through the big auditorium, this time louder. Some of his students were starting to notice, looking around to ask their friends if they heard it too.

For a brief moment, the principal thought of the infamous Rock Man. He was more a legend than fact, knowledge of his sightings being spread through rumors on street corners. But one thing was for sure; a lot of people had died in the past couple of weeks in this small town.

The whole manuscript is filled with humor, tension, action, emotion and a character arc with true depth. I'm sort of flabbergasted. And oh so proud!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Book Look

My latest Book Look column for the Prairie Wind is online. I wrote about The Pout-Pout Fish, by Deborah Diesen, and if you haven't read that book yet, I suggest you head to the bookstore today.

Here's a little preview...
I’m sure you’ve all heard the advice not to write a picture book in verse. Yet you can probably name at least a dozen rhyming picture books that you or your kids or grandkids adore. So what’s the deal? Why do editors tell novice writers to stay away from verse?

The answer is they don’t believe you can do it well. And maybe that’s true. (I’m pretty sure I can’t do it!) But if you have poetry and song and rhythm and rhyme in your soul, and if you understand story structure and the format of a picture book, and if you have an idea that is both fun and meaningful and not at all preachy, there is no reason you can’t master this form. Deborah Diesen did it with her first picture book, The Pout-Pout Fish. And we all can learn something from this well-crafted tale.

In other news...
I've hit my word quota for three days in a row. I'm on a roll!!