Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Laser surgery

In yesterday’s post I talked about my campaign to pare down my verbiage. And with all that being said, I have to admit that I am still in awe of writers who can create lush verbal landscapes with sweeping streams of adjectives and broad brush strokes of words. My writing seems more than a little stark by comparison and I’m never sure if I’ve cut too much verbiage when all is said and done.

Roz over at Nail Your Novel has a great post on laser editing.

How focused/ruthless are you in your editing? Do you prefer a pared down style of writing or a more expansive style of storytelling? Cormac McCarthy or Diana Gabaldon?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

How do you write?

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. I’ve spent the last ten years trying to cut down on my verbiage, to pare down my words so that each one is necessary and none are gratuitous in my storytelling. While I think that is a worthy goal, the trick here, like everywhere else, is to find balance. Pared down is not stripped down and bare. It does not mean that the writer has not painted a picture. It means that the writer has used a different set of brushes and brush strokes to create their landscape.

Write It Sideways has a great post (and links to five other articles) on cutting gratuitous words. And write to done has a great guest post by Tom Walker on 10 Quick Tips For Concise, Compelling Writing.

What words do you overuse/think you could cut from your writing? How much is too much? Do you use/plan to use any of Tom’s tips? Any other tips that you use?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Monday, Monday

Happy Monday. At least it’s the start of a short week. I hope it is for you, too. I know we could all use a little time off. Lately life has seemed just a lot more brutal and tiring.

I don’t usually talk about my real life online, but Friday I got my pink slip. My district, with the greatest regret, pink slipped about 230 of their 400 teachers. 48 teachers in the high school where I teach were pink slipped out of 106. And that doesn’t take into consideration the 50 or so teachers they are trying to push out into retirement with negative incentives.

So if I’ve seemed a little short or abrupt or not there at any point in my replies or anything, my apologies. Even though I’m in the top five to be recalled and no one seems worried about my job except me, and even though I’ve known for a while this was coming, I have been surprisingly cranky, and I’m not sure if that’s bled over into my online presence or not.

Either way, I’ll get my job back, or I’ll go back to school. I’ve wanted my Ph.D forever. Or I’ll write the novel this summer instead of curriculum. As my daughter would say, it’ll be fine.

But enough of the Monday gloom and doom. It’s award time. B. Miller and Shelley have given me the Prolific Blogger Award, so thank you very much to them. And Jen over at unedited has gifted me with the Supportive Commenter Award.

It’s my honor at this point to pass this award on to people that gift me with their heartfelt comments regularly. There are so many others that could be on this list, but a lot of them have already received this award. So here is my list. I appreciate you all more than you can know.

Christine at Christine’s Journey
Aubrie at Flutey Words
Lola at Sharp Pen/Dull Sword
Laurel at Laurel’s Leaves
Talli Roland
Tara at Feel of Something New

And speaking of Jen, she’s running a great contest to celebrate her birthday and her 300 followers. Click here and go over and join her.

And speaking of contests, Summer over at And This Time Concentrate is running a contest, too. She's celebrating finishing her MS. So go over and check it out.

Also running a very cool contest is Heim Binas Fiction. Go check it out and enjoy your Monday.

Friday, March 26, 2010


It's time once again for me to share one of the awards that have been so graciously been given to me. The beautiful Sunshine Award was given to me weeks ago by the lovely Anne over at Piedmont Writer and the wonderful Tara over at Feel of Something New. Because I am such a slacker and suck at passing these things on in a timely matter, and because I don't think there's anything you have to do to earn this award, I'd like to pass it on to anyone who would like it and doesn't have it.

Also a couple of weeks ago Laurel over at Laurel’s Leaves tagged me for this like/love/hate meme. I finally got around to doing my list.

I like long walks in nice weather.
I like sweaters and skirts.
I like dinner time with my family.
I like a lot of the people on my staff and all kinds of kids.
I like snark.
I like people who get me and knowing people like me.
I like quiet.
I like parents who don’t automatically blame the teacher for mentioning their kid’s bad behavior or failing grades.

I hate disrespect in all its myriad forms.
I hate parents that enable their children’s bad behavior.
I hate misogyny.
I hate the racist behavior rearing its ugly head once again at my school.
I hate running late.
I hate drivers who flip you off after they cut you off.

I love parents who assign appropriate consequences to their kids’ bad behavior.
I love flying.
I love all kinds of music except country (and I’ve never figured out why I don’t like that).
I love riding in trains, on buses, and driving in cars.
I love learning all kinds of things.
I love libraries, schools, and museums.
I love diners and coffee shops.
I love the craft and process of writing.

And now I get to pass this meme along to others:

Donna Hole
Shelley at Stories in the Ordinary
Portia Sisco
Crystal at write because you must
Mary at Play off the Page
Tricia at Talespinning
VR Barkowski

And now that that's taken care of, happy weekend to everyone.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

How does it feel?

Kelli over at Criminal Minds has a great post here about the ecstasy and joy of writing, of capturing the words dancing in your brain and sharing them with others through the written word.

What does writing, when it’s perfect and the words just flow, transforming the words in your head into words you can share, transforming you into a writer, feel like for you? How do you describe it? And do you use that remembered feeling to help you over the rough parts of not being able to write?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wait just a minute.

We all do it. We all feel bad about it. And then we do it some more. It’s a vicious cycle. And with the arrival of Spring and Sun in our lives, some of us use that energy to kick our writing into high gear. But there are some of us who feel the pull of warm weather and the rebirth of green taking us outside and dragging us further into our procrastinating writerly ways. Procrastinating Writers has an interesting post here about how to overcome procrastination.

So my question to you is this. Have you tried any of these fixes? Will you? What do you do to kick your procrastinating self into gear?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Stop and Stare

As many of us are working out the kinks in or starting our current WIPS and struggling with various stages of organization, writers block, and actual writing, Plot Whisper gives us a really good look at why writers get stuck. Check it out and then tell me:

What’s the biggest thing that hangs you up as a writer? Is it plot or your lack thereof? Characters that refuse to behave or won’t speak to you? Your own self-criticism? Any or all of the above?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Monday, Monday and a Whole Lotta Links

Sometimes we get a chance to do something that might make the world a better place. Sarah Ann is giving away beautiful handmade earrings in a contest to help highlight the work that NightLight International is doing to rescue girls from human trafficking in Thailand. Click here to find out more and enter. It will go a long way to making this a better Monday.

And on a lighter note, there’s still time to sign up for the In the Beginning…First Page Blogfest. Entries will be posted on April 2nd, so head over to Kelly’s and put your name in Mr. Linky. Go ahead, you know you want to. Mine's already done.

Laurel is running a contest to celebrate her 100 plus followers. The second half of that celebration is a writing contest. So go over and check it out. You have until Sunday, April 4, at midnight EST to enter. And, yes, mine's already done.

Muse in the Fog is giving away a copy of Cleopatra’s Daughter. The contest ends on March 29, so click here to enter.

And last but not least, Karen over at Naptime for Novels has a cool new contest celebrating her 101 followers. Click here to check out the very neat prizes you can win.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Happy Saturday

Today’s post is all about Southern Princess. First up is Courtney’s moving post today about Team Brooklyn Rose. Go read it and see what you can do to help.

Second up is Courtney’s great contest to celebrate her one hundred followers. Great giveaways, great contest. Go check it out. And then have a great weekend, everybody.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Fear of Falling

Even a cursory spin around the blogosphere shows us to be tired, torn and blocked. I feel the pull of other commitments, the tug of things undone at work, at home, as time seems to spin wildly out of control.

I feel the push to get kids to where they need to be before we break for Spring, the unrelenting pressure of that final, mad dash to the end of the year dragging those kids kicking and screaming every inch along the way.

I feel the pressure to write courses and curriculum for next year. And I’m already behind on that. How the hell can that be? I have my own kids who still have wants and needs, like being fed every freaking night, and a house that mocks my feeble attempts to keep the chaos at bay. We all have these things and more.

It’s guilt and shame and the ever present sense of epic fail that haunts us and I would kill for a break, a little balance in my life. Ann over at Procrastinating Writers has a lovely little post here that you might want to check out.

And after you do, here are my questions to you. What do you do to find balance in your life? Not time to write, not time to wrestle with your writer's block, not time to cram more things into your overcrowded schedule, but balance in your daily life.

An even bigger question I have is this. Now that there’s more sunshine, shouldn’t I (we) be feeling better?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Two Contests and an Award

And because everybody likes to get stuff, the contests come first.

Beth Revis is having a wicked cool contest to celebrate her book deal, and she’s giving away two prize packages, one for a writer, and one for a reader. Contest ends April 3rd, so go enter.

And Shannon, over at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe is also hosting a contest to celebrate hitting 400 followers. Go here to get in on the festivities.

And now for the award. Laurel over at Laurel’s Leaves has passed on the Prolific Blogger Award to me. What is a Prolific Blogger you ask? I’m glad you asked.

"A Prolific Blogger is one who is intellectually productive...keeping up an active blog that is filled with enjoyable content."

And what are the rules for this award? I’m glad you asked.

The rules for this one are as follows:
1. Every winner of the Prolific Blogger Award has to pass on this award to at least seven other deserving prolific bloggers. Spread some love!
2. Each Prolific Blogger must link to the blog from which he/she has received the award. (see above).
3. Every Prolific Blogger must link back to this post, which explains the origins and motivation for the award.
4. Every Prolific Blogger must visit this post and add his/her name in the Mr. Linky, so that we can get to know the other winners.

So thank you Laurel for this lovely award. And now I get to pass it on to seven of the most prolific bloggers I know.

Amy at She Writes writes with such fierce honesty her work takes my breath away. She never ceases to amaze me with her words.

Yvonne at The Organic Writer amazes me with her prose and her poetry. She creates incredible pictures in my mind with so few words. I am in awe of her talent and her mad skillz.

Lola at Sharp Pen/Dull Sword has the most lovely pictures with her posts. They make me smile and her words make me smile. It’s a joy to read her posts.

Patrick Tillett is the most incredible storyteller. Enough said.

Talli Roland always makes me think when I read her posts. Or crave cupcakes. Both of these things are very, very good.

Karen at Coming Down From the Mountain asks interesting questions that really beg answers. This, too, is very, very good.

Erin at Musings of a Writer Chick Living in Paradise encourages great discussions over at her blog. She also has some of the best blog post titles around.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Pat's Day!

Today brings us to the second of two blogfests this week, John Paul's Drunk at First Sight Blogfest. At 1740 words, this one is a lot longer than my last blogfest entry, and it's a lot happier, too.

I slouched deeper in my seat, ran my eyes around the room. It was beer o’clock and the place was full up.

Ok, so it was nine o’clock in the morning, but it was St. Paddy’s Day and all good Irish folk like my self had been busy celebrating the Saint in our own special way for the last couple of hours at least.

A loud belch across the table pulled my attention back to my best friend and drinking buddy sitting across the table from me.

“Yo, D, I gotta tell you man, this is the best fucking idea you ever had.” I had to yell over the noise of the FIFA match on the screen. “You really got this best man thing down.”

I poked at the bowl of nuts on the table, grabbed a handful and chucked them into my mouth.

“I'm married Mikey.” Danny raised his mug and knocked back half his pint of Guinness before letting loose with another burp. “Before my wedding day…”

“Yeah, yeah, I know. You got blued, screwed, and tattooed.”

I lifted my own mug, threw back my head and chugged, and dragged the back of my free hand across my lips. “Day after tomorrow it’s just gonna be me and Siân lying on a beach on our honeymoon.”

I blew out my breath in a contented sigh. “God, I love that woman.”

“Yeah, Mikey, we know.” Danny grabbed his own handful of nuts. “Annie and I are very happy for you.”

I picked up my mug and stared into the bottom of it. “Don’t know about you, man, but I’m ready for another round.”

I looked around, caught the serving girl’s eyes as she was busy slapping hands off her ass and raised my glass for more as she dropped pints off to the card game at the back table.

“It’s nine o’clock in the morning, Mikey. Ya might wanna throttle back.”

An uneven grin spread across Danny’s face as he leaned forward and jabbed a warning finger at my chest. “I will not be responsible for anything to do with vomit, and you have to be able to stand tomorrow or Siân will kick both our asses to hell and back.”

“Throttle back?” I ran my tongue around my strangely frozen lips trying to make sure they still worked since I couldn’t seem to feel my face anymore. “I haven’t even got a decent buzz on.”

Fake, plastic smile plastered firmly on her lips, our serving girl dropped our full pints off with a thunk, scooped up the pile of bills off the table without really looking down, and flounced off to another table.

Danny raised his mug. “May the winds of fortune sail you, may you sail a gentle sea. May it always be the other guy who says this drink’s on me.”

I lifted my glass and knocked back my beer.


Adjust. Zip.

I only had a little bit trouble opening the door. Running my hand along the hard, grey wall guided me as I stagger-stepped my way along the dark hallway.

Coming into the main room, I ducked just in time to dodge the dart whizzing past my ear.

“Hey.” I was in Danny’s face before I knew it, jabbing two fingers into his chest. “I thought you knew how to do this.”

Big hands pushed me off. “I do.”

I threw back my arm and pointed. “You put three in the door.”

Narrowed eyes pin me in place. “Are you suggesting that I am uncoordinated?”

I double-tapped him on the chest. “Dude, all I’m saying is that everybody has bad games…well, not me, cuz, ya know, I was never uncoordinated. And I was really good at sports and…stuff. I played football…”

Spinning on his heel, he took two long steps to the nearest empty table and grabbed his glass.

I reached over and pulled the bottle from the table, upended it. “We’re gonna need to resupply.”

I swiveled my head slowly around the room, found our waitress, held up the empty and gave her my best sloppy-stupid grin. She rolled her eyes as she stepped over an unmoving lump on her way her way back to the bar.

I yelled across the room. “We’ll have what that guy on the floor’s having.”


I wasn’t quite sure how much later it is when we stumbled out of the pub and into the dark, stepping over the inert and unconscious bodies blocking the entrance.

My head was spinning and I was listing badly. I stopped and tried to lean back against the nearest wall I could find. But my balance aim, and coordination were off and I ended up flat on my ass on the ground.

“Yo, D.” I squinted hard against the glare of the ever-present flashing lights proclaiming all the wonderfully fun possibilities available to those in search of a good time. “Where’d we park?”

“What happened to the night is young and I haven’t even got a decent buzz on?” Danny grabbed me by the collar of my jacket, yanked me up and set me on my feet. “What kind of a best man would I be if I let you go home now?”

He braced me against the nearest building. “Don’t tell me you’re drunk.”

“I am not drunk,” I slurred. “I just wanna go home to Siân and snuggle.” I swayed just a little. “God I love that woman.”

Danny barked a laugh in my face. “You’re drunk. And don’t even think about vomiting.” He jabbed a finger in my chest. “I’ve already told you I will not deal with anything vomit related.”

“I am not drunk and I am not gonna vomit.” My stomach rolled as I tried to straighten up. “I just need some air to catch my second wind and then I’ll be good to go.”

“What the hell does that mean?”

“I just gotta walk.”

“Fine. Let’s walk.”

Danny grabbed my arm and pulled it across his shoulder, dragging me away from the building and down the street.

“Look.” He pulled up short before we’d stumbled too far. “Body art.”

“Dude.” I squinted up at the flashing neon. “Siân would kill me.”

“I’ve been thinking about another tattoo for a while now. Maybe something with Annie’s name on it.”

Danny pulled hard on my arm. “I’m going in. Come on.”

“After you, big guy.”

The mountain sitting behind the desk looked up as I followed Danny in through the door. “Yo, guys. Looking for some ink?”

“Not me.” I shook my head, which was a really bad idea, and stumbled toward the reclining chair off to the right.

“Yeah, I’m looking for a tat.” Danny’s voice floated behind me.

“Anything in particular?”

“Something with my wife’s name.”

My head was spinning and my stomach rolling as I planted myself face down on the chair.

A different voice floated in my ears. “Hey, man. What brings you here?”

“In the neighborhood,” I mumbled from my face down position. “Celebrating St. Pat’s and my wedding day." My words faded in and out as I shifted trying to get comfortable. “I’m getting married tomorrow.”

“And you and your partner want tattoos?”

I buried my head and mumbled into my arms. “No, I just wanna go home and go to sleep.”

“Hey, Mikey, look at this.”

I raised my head to look bleary-eyes at the picture Danny was shoving in my face. “That’s lovely, Danny.” I dropped my head back into my arms. “Flowers and hearts. Just perfect.”

“I’m so glad you approve.” Through my haze I could hear the sarcasm.

“And where do you want it?”

I reached back to rub my tailbone which really hurt for some reason. It was the last thing I did before drifting off into the soft black of unconsciousness.


The next thing I felt was a gentle thump as my head bounced off my chest. I shook my head, which was still pounding and tried to get my bearings. I shifted in the seat. My ass still hurt for some reason. I was going to have to ask Siân to check it out. That thought made me smile.

“Yo, Danny. We home?”

“Yeah, Mikey, we’re home.”

I thought Danny’s voice sounded a long way away before I nodded off again.


“I believe this belongs to you.”

That was the next thing I heard as Danny deposited me none too gently on the floor. I struggled to sit up, winced from the pain in my tailbone, and tried to focus on Siân.

I looked up and gave her my best half-assed grin. “Hey, baby.”

“Did you two have fun?” Siân reached out a hand and pulled me up to a standing position next to her.

I leaned over and tried to kiss her lips, but missed and hit her should instead. She blew out a long-suffering breath as she helped me right myself. Danny just waved a dismissive hand as he headed back out the door.

“Yeah, we had fun.” I tried taking a step closer to her, stopped and winced as I reached back to rub my tailbone again. “But I could use a shower.”

“What’s wrong?” Her eyes narrowed as she watched me toe off my shoes.

“Nothing, babe.” I began stripping off my shirt as I stumbled up the stairs.

Siân’s voice followed me as I bounced off the wall at the top of the steps and ricocheted into the bedroom. “What happened?”

“Nothing happened, babe, nothing at all.” I tried to play it off as I dropped my pants and boxers and kicked them in the vicinity of the dirty clothes. “Musta fell down and landed wrong.”

I didn’t want her worrying. Not today of all days.

“Let me see.” She wasn’t buying it and grabbed both shoulders to spin me around.

I felt her freeze as I tried to keep the room from spinning.

“What is it?”

“Is that where it hurts?” A steel finger poked hard.

“Yeah,” I yelped. “That’s where it hurts.”

I twisted around trying to see what she saw. “What is it, babe?”

“I have a better question for you, Michael.” Her voice went low and dangerous. “Is there something you want to tell me? Or do I even want to know why you have flowers and hearts and…” She trailed off and took a deep breath. “Danny’s name tattooed on your ass?”

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Platitudes, banalities, and clichés oh, my

I found this over at Pub Rants and thought I’d share. Go watch it. It cracked me up. And then I began to wonder about clichés and tropes in writing. So I thought I’d ask. Are there good ones and bad ones? What’s the difference? Do you use them? Do they turn you off when you’re reading or writing?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Simon's PG/MG Love Scene Blogfest

Wow. There are two blogfests this week. First up is Simon’s PG Love Scene Blogfest which is really a challenge to write a PG/MG Sex Scene. So here it is. My entry. All 210 words of it. Which probably explains why I don’t write YA or MG. The results aren’t pretty and my brain just isn’t wired for it.

The buzzer explodes with the start of the second quarter.

Fifteen minutes.

Light spills under the bleachers in the upper gym. Brandon’s breath is hot and heavy in her ear, on her neck.

Stupid Jaycee thinks she’s so cool.

Down below, the buzzer explodes again, and the crowd roars loud in her ears.

Rolling her eyes and putting her makeup on in the bathroom every morning.

Brandon’s hips jerk against hers, push her up against the bleachers. She thinks she’s going to have to have bruises on her back tomorrow.

Ranting about all the fat, ugly, annoying girls and how she blows everyone up on her My Space.

She turns her head to the shadow in the spill of light pooling under the bleachers. Her eyes meet Sam’s wide open ones.

Stupid, dirty girl thinks she’s so hot, putting up her slutty pictures so everyone can tell her how sexiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii and pretty she is.

His face is locked in a rictus of shock. He can’t take his eyes off her. And Brandon.

Making sure the whole school knows how hot Brandon is and how into her he was.

A broken smile bleeds across her lips as Sam backs off and disappears.

Yeah, Jaycee, take that. That’s gonna blow up your My Space.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Happy Saturday. Mea culpa. My bad. My apologies.

In my sleep-deprived, brain-dead state yesterday, I forgot in my previous post to pass on my lovely Quillfeather Award to other deserving souls. I’ve had it for a while and been hoarding it. I know others have been gifted with it, but I don’t remember who all has received one.

So I’d like to take this opportunity to offer this lovely award to anyone who’d like it. Please feel free to take the Quillfeather. Just remember to let us know how you like your eggs.

And while you’re here, I’d like to share a little something with you that I found. Click here and watch this video I found on Behler Blog. I adore the poem and the animation.

Friday, March 12, 2010


Elana is running a Fantabulous Followers Giveaway and you need to go check it out. It really is fantabulous. She’s giving away seven books, but you only have until March 14 at 10 PM to enter. So hurry.

And since it’s Friday and we’re at the end of another brutal week, I thought I’d make myself feel better by putting up another one of the awards I’ve been hording. This one is really special not only because Wendy made it herself and I was one of the original recipients, but also because it was the first award two people gave me, which made me very happy. Roxy also bestowed the Quillfeather honor on me. So thank you both. Now what I’m supposed to do is tell you how I like my eggs. Here goes.

Scrambled with cheese. Scrambled with cut up hot dogs and cheese tossed in. Over medium with cheese melted on top. In a sausage omelet. In a sausage and cheese omelet. In a breakfast sandwich with ham and cheese. Are we sensing a theme here? In a country omelet with sausage and cheese and hashed browns stuffed inside and sausage gravy ladled over the top. With pancakes. Baked Italian style over tomato sauce and topped with fresh grated parmesan cheese. Eggs Benedict.

Can you tell I love eggs? And breakfast? Maybe I’ll swing through Mickey D’s on my way to work and get an Egg McMuffin.

Happy Friday and enjoy whatever you may be having for breakfast.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Mirror, mirror

You know that piece of conventional wisdom? The one that says that there are only so many stories and that they have all already been told? Sometimes I feel like I'm incapable of an original thought much less an original sentence or storyline or idea.

And in my secret heart of hearts, I harbor the fear that one day, if I am able to finish the novel, it will only be to find that someone brighter, younger, more talented, and a better writer will have written my book, gotten an agent, and gotten published before me. But then maybe that’s just me.

Behler Blog has an interesting post on just this phenomenon here. Check it out and then you tell me. Have you ever faced this fear? If not, what is the biggest fear you’ve faced in your writing or publishing journey?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

One more thing to consider.

There’s been a lovely, lively discussion floating around the blogosphere about why we write, when we find time to write, what we give up to write. James Scott Bell over at The Kill Zone has a wonderful post about finding the Energy to Write.

My take on it? Coffee: Yes. Check out my profile. At least a pot a day. Three cups before I walk out the door and the rest of the post in my to-go cup. And then iced tea after that for the rest of the day. All day. Every day.

Exercise: No. Unless you count the walking I do when the weather warms up and I’m out of school. Otherwise, zip, zilch, nada.

Morning person? Yes. Unfortunately, I can’t get any writing done before I leave for work at 6 AM. But the ‘furious 500’ sounds like a great idea. I might try that.

Power nap? No. No nap at all unless I’m not at work. Sleeping in front of a classroom of kids is bad form.

Leaving something to kick start your writing the next day? Now that sounds like something I can do.

Go check out Bell’s post and let me know: What do you do to find the energy to write?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Words of Wisdom

It seems a lot of us lately are feeling the revision blues. It’s totally understandable. Most of us feel all of that red/purple/pink/orange/green ink spilled all over our hard-crafted words like a kick to the head or the gut.

There’s been some talk about who makes the best CPs, friends or non-friends, and how critique should be presented so that it is helpful and not hurtful. But no matter who gives it or how it’s coated, no matter how much we know it’s coming and that our words will be better for it, the expected blow does not hurt less.

But for all that we know it’s a part of our journey, our success at revision lies in how we handle that outside assessment of our work. How we process the suggestions given us. C.J. Redwine over at The Last Word had an awesome post about The Art of Revision. Check it out and tell me what you think.

How do you handle revisions?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Monday, Monday

Happy Monday. I hope you all had a wonderful weekend.

It’s time for me to admit something. I am a slacker. I have a bunch of awards that I’ve graciously been given and I’ve just been collecting them and waiting for the right time to post. To those who’ve given me these, mea culpa, my bad, and I’m sorry. So here we go with the first of these.

Weeks ago, the lovely Anne over at Piedmont Writer gave me the Honest Scrap Award. I now have to tell you ten things that make me happy. Here goes.

1. My husband. Twenty-six years and he’s still the most important person in my life. Smart, charming, funny, and cute, I couldn’t have found a more perfect guy for me.
2. My kids. All four of them, who make me happy just by being who they are.
3. My writing. I am so grateful and humbled when the words come, when they say what I want them to say.
4. Reading. I love where words can take me. I love to read great writing that touches me, transforms me, transports me.
5. Sleeping. Enough said.
6. Diners. I love diners and coffee shops. I love the food, the atmosphere, the people.
7. Cooking. I love to cook. Clean up not so much. I love creating things my grandmother showed me how to make. I love making things my mother-in-law showed me how to make. And I love stepping outside my usual to try things from the Food Network which I watch way too much. I love Alton Brown, Giada, and Iron Chef.
8. Libraries. I love the books, I love the quiet, I love the wealth of knowledge and thought held inside its walls. I feel smarter just walking into a library.
9. Blogging. I love the blog universe, the people I’ve met her who have welcomed me so warmly and graciously and the words I’ve read and written here. This is truly a special place.
10. Naps. Now I’ve mentioned sleeping, but naps are different. I love to wake up early on a day I don’t have to and enjoy the luxury of taking a nap later on when I’m tired just because I can. Naps seriously rock.

Ok. That’s it for me. I’m supposed to pass this on. But it’s been around for a while now, and I don’t know who has won this award or who wants to win it. So if there is anyone out there who wants it, please take it and enjoy. As for the rest of my awards, well, to paraphrase Alton Brown, that’s another post.

Friday, March 5, 2010

And the winner is...

Ok, I know I said I'd wait until Monday to post the winner in my contest/blogfest, but I was so excited that I couldn't wait. I had everything ready to go for the big moment, and now it's official. We have a winner. So with all appropriate pomp and circumstance and a big drumroll, it is my pleasure to announce said winner.

Christine Danek, come on down! :) Congratulations, Christine. Please click on my name in the sidebar and send me an email telling me which gift card you'd like, (Amazon, Borders, or Barnes and Noble), and give me your snail mail address so I can get your prize right out to you.

And again, I want to say thank you to all of my followers for their kind words, their warmth, and their intelligence. It's a pleasure to hang out in the blogosphere with you all. And if/when I hit 100 of you, it's gonna be flash fiction time. I want to read what you write.

Happy weekend to you all.


Don't forget my contest ends tonight at 6:00 EST. So if you've been procrastinating, you're running out of time to get your entries in. I'll be announcing the winner tomorrow. And since we're here at the end of another week, I'm leaving you with a snippet that just kinda makes me feel good. Enjoy and have a good weekend.

Reeds sway, silent sentinels chasing shadows. A night heron crows as it takes flight. The call of a willet pierces the early morning stillness, and he catches the black and white pattern of a flashing wing as it comes in for a landing.

His hand finds hers. Long, cool fingers wrap his as she leans in, strong and solid beside him, fused shoulder to hip.

The whisper of bare feet is lost here to the sounds of the shore; the soft rustle of grass, the screams of gulls swooping low, the gentle slap of waves coming home.

Sand is implacable here. It blows and shifts, changing boundaries and erasing everything.

He can almost forget there’s a world up the bluff on the other side of the highway.

They crest the dune together, in lockstep, the way they do everything, and stop and stare.

Shards of brilliant gold explode on the horizon; the first orange-red brush strokes of a rising sun painting a lightening blue-black sky.

The breeze shifts; picks up; sea and salt and sun; time and tide. It’s all right here, right now as the world transitions into life and light.

He slips in behind her; slides his arms around her, pulls her back tight against him, hands gentle as they glide along the curve of her belly.

A small shiver runs through her and into him as she leans back, quiet and still in his arms, hands covering his.

He buries his face in her hair; breathes her in deep, feels the band around his chest loosen as he exhales softly in her ear. “High tide.”

She hums in response, stretches out an elegant arm; pulls his focus out as she points down the beach. It’s colder here now; his arms wrap her tighter and he rests his cheek on her hair as clear, hollow eyes track his sisters across the sand, onto the pier.

All his senses push; salt air and sea breeze and the sun climbing high on the horizon converge and he blinks hard against the sudden sting in his eyes.

Through crystal tears he sees they’ve reached the end of their journey; stand suspended statue-still between sea and sky and sand; the illusion of solid ground.

He wonders if they’re crying as their arms stretch out in unison over crystal-clear blue water.

Her voice is soft and low as she shifts against him. “Your mother, too?”

“Dad kept her ashes.” Possessive hands roam over her belly; his eyes drift shut as he feels his child kick. “He wanted this.”

He wants to move, can almost feel himself step; feels sick as he wonders what it would be like to be standing there next to them.

She shifts again, and cool, satin fingers wrap his hands; still them.

He anchors himself against her and rocks them as he steps outside himself and stares; counting up the years in one last invocation to who he used to be.

He doesn’t know how long they stand there, but the sun’s climbing higher on the purple-pink horizon, burning off the haze, and she’s in his arms as he watches his sisters disappear across the sand.

She shifts and steps, slides her hand into his and leads him down the dune.

The scent of sea and salt carries on the breeze and he’s going to walk on the beach with her.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Speak up, I can't hear you.

I hear voices in my head. All the time. I say this unabashedly as a writer, a teacher, a mother, a wife. There is a constant stream of conversation running in my head while I am going about my day.

Sometimes it’s the background buzz that says what I’m really wishing I could say when I’m smiling and nodding at people I’d really like to stab with a spork. Sometimes it’s my characters yelling and screaming me stupid because they don’t think I’m listening to them. Sometimes it’s the beautiful cascade of words flowing from my brain and out through my fingertips to create something I think is good writing.

We’ve been talking about voice and character here lately; character voice and our own narrative voice. Our final visit to link land this week is something I found about a month ago that I still think is really interesting; Alexandra Sokoloff talking about the Rules of Character. Check it out. It makes me feel better about the voices in my head.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Hey! I know you.

Since we were talking about character last time…we were talking about character last time, right? Anyway. I love female characters. Intelligent, strong, multi-faceted, flawed female characters. I love reading and writing them. I love male characters. Intelligent, strong, multi-faceted, flawed male characters.

I tend to write from both male and female POVs. I think a lot of writers do. Roni over at Fiction Groupie had a great post on writing from the male POV.

But I’ve been thinking lately more about female characters especially and their evolution in fiction. And lo and behold, Sarah Rees Brennan has a really interesting post looking at and looking for girls in fiction.

So what I want to know is this. Do you prefer reading/ writing male or female characters? What makes a good female character? Who or what has influenced how you see or write female characters?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Give me a G

Just in case you missed it yesterday, I'm running a contest/blog party to celebrate my followers. Click here if you want to get in on the fun.

And just to prove that great minds think alike, Nicole over at One Significant Moment at a Time is also running a contest to celebrate her followers. Click here to get in on that.

Now that the contest news is taken care of, what is it about genre and determining it that drives me to distraction? In my head, I know what it is and what the genres are supposed to be. As a reader I am drawn to all kinds of genres in my reading; science fiction, women’s lit, literary fiction, mystery. Genre is pretty easy to tell in a bookstore since they, well, tell you.

Readers want good stories to read, good being subjective and also not easily defined. Publishers and agents want something concrete they can accept and support and sell. As a writer, though, differences in genre are sometimes not easy to recognize or delineate as the lines blur for some of us. And for those of us hoping to publish, it is beyond important for us to be able to define what we’ve written.

And the lines become even more blurry when you, the writer, introduce other elements into your work. Romance/Mystery. Mystery/Romance. Romance/Women’s Fiction. Yes, I know that’s all about the happy ending thing. Women’s Fiction/Literary Fiction.

Guinevere over at This Is Not My Day Job has a great post about how difficult it is for some of us to determine genre. Especially those of us who straddle the line between literary, commercial, and women’s versus romance labeling for genre.

Mystery Writing is Murder has a great discussion here and here about genre blending and happy endings and character. I have to admit that genre is less important to me as a reader and a writer than character.

So here are my questions to you. What genres do you write? Do you blend genres? How does that work for you? Do you read/write dark? Or do you need a happy ending regardless of genre?

Monday, March 1, 2010

Happy March Monday!

I began blogging on New Year’s Day and within weeks I’ve already reached fifty followers. I am touched and humbled beyond belief at the warm, kind, generous response I’ve received from all of you to my thoughts and words. That you choose to share your thoughts and words with me makes me grateful beyond belief.

So in and amongst the flurries of snow and the flurry of contests and blog parties that have come at the end of the month, I thought I would like to give back and have my own blog party/contest to thank all of you for being so welcoming of me.

The rules are simple. You get one entry for each of the things listed below that you do. Since I’m a low-tech kinda girl, I’m keeping this simple. Each entry you get goes into a hat. At the end of the contest, I’ll pull out a winner. And said winner will get the prize. What prize you ask? A twenty dollar gift card from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Borders, winner’s choice.

What to do:

1. Comment here to enter. Your comment gets you (+1) entry. Include any of the following information you have to get more entries.
2. You must be a follower of my blog. New followers get (+1) entry, current followers get (+2) entries.
3. Blog about this contest. That will get you (+2) entries. Leave the link here in your comment.
4. Put this contest in your sidebar. That will get you (+2) entries. Leave the link here in your comment.
5. Send followers my way. Each follower you send me that mention you by name gets you (+1) entry.

That’s it. Easy peasy. Make sure you leave your comments. This contest ends this Friday, 3/5 at 6:00 PM EST, and I’ll announce the winner the following Monday.