Does anyone know how to center my blog banner? Please leave me a comment in the blog posts if you do. I'm at a loss!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Awesome Moment: At Walmart

So there we are, waiting for the lunch-meat guy to cut me some turkey in the produce section, when suddenly my son starts screaming. "Help, Mommy, help me! I can't stop walking backwards!"

Worried he was about the run into the lady pushing the bakery cart, I whip out my imaginary rope and lasso him across the belly. "Don't worry, I'll pull you back!" I start pulling and pulling, and even though it's tough, he's moving back to me slowly, inch by inch. Finally he makes it to my arms and collapses against my knees in an exhausted embrace.

For an improvisational miming stunt with a 4-year-old, I have to say it was pretty well-done. We even got a couple people to look at us funny.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Thoughts on My First Draft, Round 1

My boys are out camping tonight, so after I put Tinkie to bed I was fully able to give in to my recluse tendencies and spend the last two hours writing, uninterrupted.

In two hours I wrote almost 2500 words. That's pretty good, right?

It is such a ride to write a first draft of a novel. There are so many times I want to stop and edit. I have to literally pull myself away from the keyboard and say, "No! First draft means you keep going! Leave it! I know it sucks and you can write it better if you keep trying! But leave it!"

But then there are other times while I'm writing when I can't believe the things that are coming out of my mind. Characters are instantly created, ones who never existed in my brain but just walk into the story like they were meant to be there the entire time. Plot points that were giving me grief suddenly work themselves out right there on the screen. My protagonist's personality changes in dynamic and gains aspects that I never realized were there.

It's true that sometimes things get meddled as I write it out, too, but the book is shaping and growing as if it has a life of its own, something I just couldn't create in my mind alone, something that needed words to be able to breathe.

It's a strange feeling, empowering yet humbling at the same time.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

I Hung Out with Aprilynne Pike

Yeah, that's right! And she's really cool, too!

Aprilynne Pike is the author of the NYT Best-Selling YA Series Wings, the third book of which, Illusions, just came out May 3. Well, apparently members of my writer's group have some pretty sweet connections, because a few weeks ago they arranged for Aprilynne come to our meeting and share with us a lesson about editing.

I thought since I was so blessed, I should be charitable and share the notes I took at our meeting. So here ya go!

The lesson was on what happens when you get an editor, and what it's like to start editing with them (in other words, what it's like to find out you're finally going to get published and then realize the work is just beginning).


o First ed letter for Wings was 11 pages long.

o Gave her 8 weeks to fix it all; ended up rewriting half her book.

o Second round was another 8-page list of questions plus a marked-up manuscript

· STAND-ALONE book she’s working on now:

o First ed letter was ten pages plus a manuscript (Aprilynne showed us what the manuscript looked like--covered with comments written with the tracking system on Word)

· When you get an ed letter:

o Yell and kick (first day or so)

o Go through and highlight to get to point of suggestions

o Go through with a pen and jot down what to do to make these changes

o Editing is digital now—you can just press “accept” and it will change it the way the editor suggested (uses system on Word)

· Editing Lingo

o “awkward—recast” = rewrite this awkward sentence

· Editing your own work

o First draft--don't edit anything, just change spelling

o Write down everything that jars you without second-guessing it and make a bulleted list in categories (characters, story arcs, etc)

o Go through again and fix sentence structure (varied sentences, make sure things sound vibrant, not same words over and over—highlight your pet words and find a way to get rid of them, take out “just”, “seemed”, and “going to”)

o Give it to your critique partner, who will tear it apart, and then you spend a couple weeks rewriting again after that

· Drafting--two different types

o Pantsers—don’t know what is going to happen while writing until they get there

o Outliners—outline it some way (lots of way to do this) before they write it all

· Random Tips

o If you have a chapter that is character-building but nothing happens toward the plot, you need to take the character-building stuff out of that chapter and then incorporate it into a chapter where something is happening

o Don’t write all of the interesting parts first because then you have to go back and fill in all the boring parts in between

o Characters: as long as they relate to the plot, there can be as few or as many characters as you want—but keep two or three of them in the forefront

o Fleshing out a “bare-boned” draft: look for places you can vamp up the emotional stakes—add tension where things are scary or awkward. Add more kissing, more action in action scenes. Add where it’s going to emotionally affect your reader.

o Book recommendation: Mysterious Benedict Society books are good for middle-grade readers--and are apparently fun for adults, too" :)

A big thanks to Aprilynne for coming and sharing her knowledge with us! She is a busy woman (ya know, with normal stuff: four kids, a recent move to a new house, writing National Best-sellers...). We were grateful to snag her for a couple hours!