Friday, November 19, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Life has been good to me, and I have much to be thankful for:
  • Parents, in-laws, and siblings who love and support me. 
  • A husband who encourages my writing and believes in me. 
  • Children who still give hugs and kisses, and who still want mine. 
  • Friends who worry about me and love me despite my perpetual absentmindedness. 
  • Blogger friends who give amazing advice and who read my rantings.
Thank you to all of you! You know who you are and what you do. My life would be meaningless without you.

A quick P.S. . . . I'll be out the next two weeks (minus Talli Roland's Web Splash on Dec. 1!) working on revisions, but happy holidays to all of you! See you soon. :)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Character Writer or Plot Writer

A few years back I went to a conference, and Shannon Hale asked this question of us: Are you a character writer or a plot writer? Do you come up with characters and then discover their story? Or do you think of a fascinating plot or situation and build from there?

At the time, I wasn't sure. I debated the finer points of my writing style, but couldn't decide. Now I laugh at myself for that.

I am a character writer all the way. I discover a character, and then I learn their story through painstaking effort. Painstaking, I tell you. I have to work hard for that plot.

So what are you?

Monday, November 15, 2010

What Do You Do Well?

I was just thinking about how sometimes we don't let ourselves admit when we do something very well. The world tells us we're supposed to be humble about our talents or we'll be hated like all those other conceited jerks out there.

So today I'm giving you a free pass: I want to hear what you think you do really well, and I promise not hate you and think you're a conceited jerk. It can be anything! Maybe you are an exceptional teeth-brusher . . . you've never had a cavity (I wish!). Or maybe you have a talent for spinning a basketball on your finger. I don't know, but I'd love to hear!

Okay, so me? I have a talent for making gravy. No lumps, perfect consistency, always yummy. :)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Ms. Bestower-of-Confidence

Have you ever been around someone who makes you feel like a million bucks? It doesn't seem to matter the time or the place or the occasion, there's just something about them . . . and it's not just you. Everyone else feels the same way about them, too.

I so wish this was me. But alas, not to worry, I think most things in this world can be learned. So here are my 5 easy rules for being Mr./Ms. Bestower-of-Confidence (based on observation, of course):
  1. Smile. But not just with your mouth, and even beyond your eyes. Find your happy place and keep it at the front of your thoughts.
  2. Give compliments. The catch is they have to be sincere. None of that "I love your hair" crap, when you're really thinking "What were they thinking?"
  3. Don't give too many compliments. Then you just sound fake.
  4. Ask questions. About them. There's a catch to this one, too. You have to listen to the answer. Not just with your ears, but with your whole body. Then ask follow-up questions. And yup, you guessed it, just keep listening.
  5. Enjoy life. Have fun. And I don't mean the go-out-and-get-drunk variety. Look at kids, they recklessly dance to the music at the end of a movie without fear of looking silly. They get excited because they see two school buses in the same place. They laugh at the sheer pleasure of running as fast as they can. They don't worry about getting chocolate on their noses, they just enjoy.
 People who do this have a contagious happiness. These are the people I like to be around. So what rules did I miss?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Votes are in

Yes, yes, November 2nd came and went, but this is a much more important vote than that. Fall vs. Spring. I know you're all dying to know which one won . . . so on to the results!

Total votes: 20

Spring: 8 votes; 40%
Fall: 12 votes; 60%

There are two remarkable things about this vote. First it's very close (unlike the Hawaii vs. Cruise vote). Second, this is the only time that no one added their own personal option. No one asked, "not winter?" And even though some claimed it was an excruciating choice, they were all eventually able to make it. . . . unlike times past. Very interesting, Holmes. So in case you wondered, I voted Fall. Something about the smell . . . mmmm, I get dreamy just thinking about it.

With Thanksgiving around the corner, here's a thanksgiving-y question (yet one that all of you non-U.S.A. people can still answer . . . I know, I think of everything.) ;)

Dark Meat


White Meat

Monday, November 8, 2010

Thank you!

I wanted to thank everyone who weighed in on Friday's post. So many good comments (and reminders)! Here is what I got out of it:
  1. Some of those balls are rubber and will be okay if I drop them. Still, some of those ARE glass, and I need to be extra careful with them . . . family and husband being good examples.
  2. Schedule my time. In the past I have done this, but lately (the last few years or so!) I've let it slip. I think it's time to go back to the dark side of my OCD. Just a little. ;)
  3. I'm not alone. So maybe, just maybe, I'm not the mess I fear I am. I'm just human.
  4. Breathe and wear a helmet. I'll get through.
So I'm leaving you with my happy thought . . . the mental place I go when I'm feeling stressed.

Where's your happy thought?

Friday, November 5, 2010

On Juggling

I've always been a bit of a sloppy juggler . . . rushing to catch the ball that's about the shatter against the floor (oh yeah, the balls are glass, I'm just sure of it).  
  1. My writing . . . oof! Phew, got 100 words in.  
  2. My family . . . oh no! We've got 2 minutes to get to soccer, let's move it people! 
  3. My work . . . my deadline's tomorrow?  
  4. My husband . . . you don't mind if we talk about my book on our date, do you?  
  5. My blog . . . uh . . . I had an idea . . .  
  6. My co-op preschool . . . It can't be my week to teach already, can it? 
  7. My friends . . . Wait, what are their names again?  
  8. My exercise . . . I could just skip today, right? Surely the scale was wrong. Again.
  9. My cleaning . . . Do I really need to vacuum today? 
  10. My laundry . . . I still have one more clean shirt, right? Oh wait, that was yesterday. . .

Anyway, you get the idea. So many balls, so hard to keep them all in the air.

What are your secrets for not dropping the ball? And seriously here . . .

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

What in the heck is Voice?

Five-and-a-half years ago, I had my first ever critique by an editor at my first ever writing conference. I went into the meeting with so much hope, and came out devastated.

While the editor was very nice, he basically told me that my writing stunk (my own word), and I needed to keep practicing. The only bit he liked was the part I was considering cutting, and he said it sounded like I just hadn't found my voice yet.

I haven't touched that book since.

Anyway, that was the first I'd heard of "voice." What in the heck is voice? I wondered.

According to "voice is the author's style , the quality that makes his or her writing unique, and which conveys the author's attitude, personality, and character."

At Kim's Corner for Teacher Talk she says: "voice shows the writer's personality. . . . It contains feelings and emotions so that it does not sound like an encyclopedia article."

But see, while good definitions, none of this really helped me "find my voice." I do think that I've learned a bit in the past five years, and so here are some things that I think helped me:
  1. Don't just read good books, study good writing. Ask yourself why you like it, and listen to the voice.
  2. Know what point of view (POV) is and how it should be used in writing. I know that may sound obvious, but I look at my first ever book, and cringe at my all-over-the-place POV. I've been re-writing it with a solid POV, and it the change is astounding. (trust me!)
  3. Write what you enjoy. No . . . more than just enjoy . . . write what you're passionate about. For me, that made the difference. I wrote the book I really wanted to write on a subject I adored.
  4. Work with a critique group. I can't tell you how many times my amazing group steered my writing to keep my voice on track. "This just doesn't sound like something the character would say," they told me. Or "This is a POV shift." Little things that add up. (Thanks guys!)
  5. Write. Write. And write. There's nothing quite like practice. We hear this all the time, but how can we expect to be good at something we rarely do? We can't.
I admit, I'm no expert on voice, but hopefully this is a little helpful. And I'd love to hear your thoughts . . . How did you find your voice?