Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Doing the Hard Things and Looking for You

I spent last weekend in conference classes, learning about the craft of writing and hanging out with amazing people.

The first class I took was all about becoming computer wise as an author. I'm trying to do better, but I must admit, I'm still struggling (especially with that whole Twitter thing. I wanna be a Twit too). But I'll keep working on it until I get it.

One of my goals was to catch up on my blog-buddies blogs (*whew* that's a lot of Bs). So last night I spent a few good hours reading posts and adding new people to my list of reads. I must admit, I was really pleased with all the great writers out there in the blog world. I'm so excited to meet new authors/writers! (p.s. I missed reading all my good bloggy friends' posts...You know who you are - if you don't - it's you.)

I also went to Elana J.'s class on writing queries. She was excellent, not only did she keep us awake with wise and witty humor, she passed out candy!!!! Most awesome class! When she comes to your town, you'll have to check it out.

I learned I am a solid writer (that's good right? A solid writer?) But reminded myself that I should not bring a first draft with me to have the editor critique...bring the polished funny one (what was I thinkin'?). But now I know...I'm solid.

Another thing I learn was - pack more than one pair of pants! (I accidentally left them on my bed, waiting for the suitcase along with my clean underthingies. Yeah. I shouldn't pack the day of a conference...there's too many things to forget.)

L.T. is a great person to share a room with (but we didn't get room service, maybe next time - we did get subs and talked for hours about writing after the conference. (I love rubbing shoulders with awesomeness.)

I think the most important thing I learned this year is that I can do the hard things (quoted from Elana J's class). It's true. Writing is hard, trying, time consuming. Plus all the difficult stuff that comes with querying, critiquing....the rest...but we (as writers) can do the hard things. I'll post more on this next week.

Tell me...what has been the best advice/stuff you've learned in this journey of writing?

Okay...I'm off to do the hard things (yes laundry, that means you. Stinkin' pile of dirtiness). Have a great week everyone! =)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Conferences 2010..oh yeah!

So… *looking around the room like I’m trying to keep a secret* …I’m getting ready to go.

Yeah, I’m cleaning out the old statistics bag and filling it with important stuff – first chapters, notebook, pens, chocolate. (BTW, I totally passed that stats class. Mwa ha ha! I’m so glad.)

Why? because it’s conference time! Whoop, whoop (that’s my happy cry). I am on my way to mingle and meet with other awesomely cool writers, editors and agents. I’m very excited.

But also a little bit nervous. I won’t lie, last year after the conference I left discouraged. I didn’t feel like I was where I wanted to be in my writing. I wanted to be further ahead in my craft, I wanted to be querying, I wanted to be pitching my story to the professionals. Plus I totally lost that 1st chapters thing. *wiping tear from eye*

Well, now it’s a year later, I am writing my last chapter of my dystopian (I know…last chapter! Whoop!) I am revising my Incognito Burrito (and other things I did on my trip to Mexico). Things are looking up. I hope I can go to this conference and feel like I am getting on top of my game. Plus L.T. and I are hanging at our most righteous hotel room together this year (I love that girl!), so she will have to hear all my complaints and wishes (we may have to order midnight room service….do they have midnight room service? Oh, I hope so)!

This year will be great! And I won’t cry this time. Promise. Well, maybe a little.

So I am curious…Are you guys planning any awesome conferences this year??? I’d love to hear which ones, where they are and if you plan on getting room service. We should compare menus.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

TMI my friend...TMI!!!!

I was about twelve or thirteen when I rode home in the back of my neighbor’s car on the way home from the amusement park. The mom who sat in the seat in front of me had just finished nursing school and was telling everyone in ear shot about her son’s bout with hemorrhoids. After listening to a half hour lecture of how hemorrhoids form, what they look like, and how to correct the problem; I knew three things for sure.

1. Listening to hemorrhoid talk + motion sickness = urge to vomit.
2. Pre-teen girls have a hard time looking football playing boys in the face after learning about their difficult trials…um…underneath.
3. Last, but not least, I knew I would never become a nurse. *cringe*

How could I remember the vivid workings of this hemorrhoid-otic talk after so much time? Was it the way she discussed her football playing son not being able to sit on his tooshie for a week (and how did he feel knowing I knew about his toosh and its problem)? Was it the way her voice echoed through the car so that all the young girls present knew of the torture and treatments of such dealings? (Oh man! That poor football playing boy!)

No my friends, it was the way she described the on goings of things falling out of places we really don’t want them to (the nausea and urge to vomit may have contributed). But mostly - the detail she used in each disgusting detail.

She used colors in her description and smells (I’m serious *gag*). She even gave a detailed description of the ointment that was used in the horrific incident. How could I forget?

What does this have to do with writing?

Well, when writing, what kind of detail do you use? Do you use sight, smell or touch to describe your scenes? Does it make the writer feel like they are there in the scene sharing the moment with the character?

Do you add too much detail, making the rider of your book ask for a bag so that they will not heave over the backseat of your newly cleaned writing upholstery? It happens sometimes.

Details are important to use. They can leave a reader feeling that they know the places you are talking about and the characters you love - OR - They can pull the reader out of the story, searching for a garbage can for book deposit. This is something all writers learn to balance.

I'm sure there are many ways to fix this situation, but the best advice I can give is to:

1. Have someone else who loves to read look over your MS and listen to their feedback.
2. Put the ms away for a few weeks and then take a second look at it.
3. Read, read, read how other writers write.

My last bit of advice for the day – remember - when in a car with a group of pre-teen girls, don’t talk about your football-playing son’s hemorrhoids (I don’t care how cute you think he is). Ew. Gross.

p.s. I finished the challenge and missed you guys. I’m glad to be back!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Are You Asking for a Challenge!?

The family and I were sitting around yesterday, enjoying some quality time together, when somebody mentioned how much time we spend on the internet/tv/ipod/ etc....

So my oldest child offered his dad a challenge - no computer games/tv shows for a week.

I sort of tuned out at that moment as the kids all laughed and upped the wages of the challenge. Soon everyone was involved. My daughter vowed to no ipod, my son no video games, etc...etc...(I secretly laughed, because I was not involved in the crazy challenge of no media week. Sweet! I'd be watching TV and playing my tunes while eating fudge as I sat in a super huge beanbag - which I don't have, but would be awesome).

Then I heard the dreaded words, "I think Mom should give up Blogger for a week!"

"NOOOO!" I screamed (making everyone jump a little). I thought had so cleverly adverted the situation. Wrong! (Please sing as you say wrong, and emphasis the "g". For dramatic effect. Thanks.)

"I don't think she can do it." I heard, making the competitive part of me rise to the top.

"Oh yes I can," I snarled, giving them my oh-you-wanna-play eye-look thingy.

Everyone laughed again (I wasn't sure why this time, but I was sure it was because I was suckered into something ).

Then somebody said, "The winners will get pizza and rootbeer floats as an award." (Oh man, I was so there.)

So my blogger buddies, if you don't hear from me for a week, (yes, I will be unplugged from Tuesday to Tuesday - *cringe*) it's because I'm proving to my awesome family that yes, I can unplug - and they can too!

I will miss you! Have a great week everyone!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Dear Lucky Agent Contest....Sweet!

How do you get your work out there? How does anyone find out who you are?

You need to take a few risks. Have people look at your work, see how people feel about the writing. A great way to do this is through agent contests. Here is one I feel is worth sharing (plus I'm considering entering):

The "Dear Lucky Agent Contest" for middle grade and YA writers (with Regina Brooks).

The first 150-200 words of your unpublished, book-length work of middle grade or young adult fiction. You must include a contact e-mail address with your entry and use your real name. Also, submit the title of the work and a logline (one-sentence description of the work) with your entry.
(paragraph copied from Guide to Literary Agents)

Top 3 winners all get: 1) A critique of 10 pages of your work, by your agent judge. 2) A free one-year subscription to (paragraph copied from Guide to Literary Agents) *squeal!* Why not try!

If you write for middle grade or YA, I suggest jumping on over and taking a look! The contest ends April 14th, so time is running out! Yikes, I'd better get my stuff on over! Good luck guys!