Thursday, December 04, 2003

Next stop: the January 2004 Austin SCBWI retreat. I have to get a writing sample out for critique by tomorrow and am still going back and forth about what to send. I've had so much critiqued already that nothing stands out--I'm not sure whether to send my best work or something I'm really stuck on and need help with. I'm also not even sure what type of manuscript to send--a picture book, novel excerpt, or even my previously lambasted chapter book manuscript (I still keep hoping it can be salvaged!). In any case, the retreat should be great, with Harper Collins editor Rosemary Brosnan, novelist Vivian Vande Velde, and picture book author Marsha Hayles. I can't wait! And in completely unrelated news, last week I won a really cool Panasonic electronics package valued at over $1,000...I can't wait for that to come, either!

Thursday, October 30, 2003

I sent my short story "Ending Some of It" to another contest today. Meanwhile, I have one day to figure out whether or not to do NaNoWriMo this year. It was great for me last year, but so far this year, I don't have a well-formed idea to take off running with on Saturday. The complicating factor is the rule that you must create a new novel project for NaNoWriMo, rather than working on something you've already started. I have plenty of projects I've already started that I'd like to work more on, but nothing new that's really calling my name. I have a few backburner ideas that would require too much research, back story, or whatever to blast through a quick draft of. I had one other idea I thought I could do, but so far I have too many conflicting ideas for it, and can't settle on the main character, and without a clear idea of my main character, there is no story! So, we'll see. I want to participate because it's so much fun and so energizing, but I don't think I'd be energized by working daily on an idea I didn't care about.

Saturday, September 06, 2003

My light verse writing has paid off again... Yesterday I found out I won the grand prize--a $100 gift certificate to Savers thrift stores--in the haiku and limerick contest. Too funny! I submitted 2 haikus & 5 limericks, but it was one of the limericks that won. I was shocked when they told me they'd received 500 entries!
(My winning limerick was:
My boyfriend is cool as can be,
and awfully smart as you'll see.
He does me great favors
by shopping at Savers,
so he can spend more bucks on me!

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

I returned from vacation last night & was thrilled to find another envelope from Guideposts for Kids in my mailbox, with a bright yellow "YES!" sticker on it. This one was an acceptance for my poem "High Dive." I'm thrilled to get some good news after a dry spell--I guess this is a good way to, er..., dive back in (groan)!

Friday, July 25, 2003

Whew! I read 4 books this week--the 3 mentioned in my last post, and also If I Live to Be 100: Lessons from the Centenarians by Neenah Ellis (based on an NPR radio series), which gave me a lot of food for thought. Between all of those books and the ones I've read to my kids, I finished 2 more 400-minute reading logs for the library summer reading club, which ends tomorrow. I also subbed one of my short stories for adults yesterday. So now I have very little hanging over my head to keep me from working on my novel(s)! I did read through nearly all of my Chasing Monday novel this week and was a bit horrified by its remaining need for plot development...which may be why I buried my nose in other books all week! But now I must get back to it.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

I got a couple of submissions out this week--a picture book manuscript and a short story. Now I'm trying to revise one other picture book and a YA novel, and neither one is going as smoothly as I'd wish! It's so hard to know how to change a story to make it better, especially when it's not a matter of just polishing or tightening the words, but really requies a plot makeover. In both cases I have some idea what's wrong and what kinds of things to work on, but can't figure out the nuts-and-bolts mechanics of how to work on those things. Any little change starts a chain reaction that affects the rest of the book, so I'm trying to think everything through thoroughly first, and that's easier said than done!

Meanwhile, I've also been trying to do some reading, especially with the library's summer reading club still in full swing. I read Gail Giles' Dead Girls Don't Write Letters a couple of days ago, and today I checked out Linda Sue Park's When My Name Was Keoko and Stephanie S. Tolan's Surviving the Applewhites, as well as James McBride's memoir The Color of Water. I read fast, usually a book in a day, but how I'm going to read all these while also writing a couple of books and watching 2 small and very active children all day, I'm not quite sure!

Monday, July 07, 2003

I finally got the "Mom's Chair" essay revised and sent back out to Welcome Home tonight. I hope they'll like the revision! It feels so good to get it done, and also to possibly make two sales from one article! Now I need to get back to the books I'm working on writing, though I've also got a lot going on at home right now. Including, unfortunately, a broken air conditioner that's been leaking through the downstairs ceiling, so we had to turn it off for tonight, which is quite unpleasant in July in Texas!

Thursday, June 26, 2003

I was surprised last week when Welcome Home magazine contacted me about publishing my "Mom's Chair" essay, which I'd submitted to them 17 months ago! I had eventually assumed they weren't interested, and recently sold it to a Chocolate for a Woman's Soul anthology. However, the anthology guidelines allow me to sell it elsewhere as long as I don't sell it to a competing anthology, so this should work out. Welcome Home wants it revised with a somewhat different focus, and they need it fairly soon to get it into the issue where it will be most relevant, so I have a lot of work to do! And not much time to do it, with summer keeping me incredibly busy. But it's neat that I may get an unexpected sale! I have some other pieces I need to get circulating again, too.

Friday, June 13, 2003

My silly poem, "Inside Out House," is up on the Guideposts for Kids site! I sold it to them nine months ago, and while it was my sixth acceptance, it was my first sale for actual money instead of just copies or gift certificates. And since I sold that one, I've sold six other pieces for pay (and one more for copies and a gift certificate)! The funny thing is, without knowing they were about to publish the poem this week, I was just polishing up a new poem to submit to them today or Monday! We'll see how that goes.

Thursday, June 12, 2003

I've been so busy (and harried!) lately that I haven't been working on my novel after all, but I am working on a new poem. I'm a bit stuck on it right now, but my mind is mulling it over... and mulling over some novel-related stuff, too, even though I haven't been actively working on it. I'm still trying to get my new computer all set up, and in the meantime I've hardly been online at all (especially with e-mail, since I don't have a mail program configured on the new PC yet and I can barely get the other PC to start). At least I've been reading a bunch of children's books, as my kids are enrolled in summer reading clubs and I'm reading them tons of books for that! (My 4.75-year-old is also trying to read 15 books on his own--reading simple picture books and easy readers aloud to me--for one of the clubs, and he's read 5 so far! I'm proud of him!)

My 4-year-old reading to his 2-year-old brother (upside down, even!)

Friday, June 06, 2003

Woo hoo! I finally got my new computer yesterday! My old one has been dying a painful death for a long time. Both computers are laptops, and the screen of the old one is literally hanging on by one thread (or rather, cable)! Not to mention the many other problems it has, including shutting off accidentally several times a day. Having a laptop that can actually stay on when it's moved will be great for my writing. Now if I can just get all my old stuff transferred over to the new one & organized...not too fun, but worth it!

Monday, June 02, 2003

Cool, I sold a poem! When I got back from vacation tonight, I was a bit disheartened to find one of my SASEs in the mailbox, from a submission to Purpose magazine. But instead of finding a rejection inside, as I expected, I found a check! I wrote the original version of the poem, "Supplication," probably ten years ago, though the version that sold is slightly different. I've had several rhyming poems accepted in the past, but this is my first sale of a non-rhyming poem.

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

My humor article, "Fast Food for Thought," came out this week in the June 2003 issue of ByLine. They misspelled my name (Allison instead of Alison), but I was happy to see it in print, anyway! I haven't yet started that 40-day novel writing challenge I was talking about, but I may do it as a June challenge instead, with the hope of finishing my draft by the 4th of July.

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

I'm thinking of challenging myself to finish a draft of one of my novels by June 30th. That would be 40 days, starting tomorrow. It will already be 3 years in June that I've been working on it! But this June will be a difficult month to do that, with my kids' summer schedules. I may not have any daytime hours to write, so my family would have to be very supportive of my writing in the evenings! We'll see what happens. I seem to work better sometimes with a challenge and a deadline.

Saturday, May 17, 2003

I went to the 2003 Austin SCBWI Editor Spring Thing conference today. It was another good conference and a positive experience for me all around. Helped me get back into a writing frame of mind, too!

Now I have a lot of thinking to do about my two very different novel projects, and I'm not sure which one I need to work on more! Ideally I'd like to have both ready for submission by the end of this year, but that may be unrealistic. And I'm even beginning to rethink the whole plot of the one I already have drafted! Eek.

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

I'm still alive! And I got amazing news today. Based on a few sample chapters, an editor at a major publishing house wants to see my whole YA novel! It's the novel I have a complete draft of, but the editor doesn't want to see it for a while due to her other obligations, so now I have to figure out whether to do the heavy revisions I was considering before sending it, or just to send her what I have! I've had major, major writer's block lately, so this certainly helps to jump start my interest in writing again! As should the conference I'll be attending this weekend. Anyway, I've been jumping up & down today!

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

What a lovely surprise--I got my first piece of "fan mail" today! It was actually from someone I know slightly, an old high school & college friend of my husband's who now lives in another state and saw my essay in Welcome Home (she must've gotten her copy before I got mine!). Anyway, that was a fun piece of mail.

I also got a certificate in the mail saying my "Mom's Chair" essay--the one that recently sold to Chocolate for Women--had won First Honorable Mention in the short nonfiction category of the San Gabriel Writers' League writing contest. The category is quite broad, so it's good to get any notice at all! I was rather nervous to read my judging sheets for the other pieces I'd entered, but they were pretty good overall. I cringed that someone had tried to edit my rhyming manuscript--messing up the rhythm that I know scanned well--so that actually made me feel better about not placing in that category! I was also pleased that a judge wrote on my YA chapter that it was a "bright spot" in their stack of manuscripts!

Monday, April 14, 2003

I was pleasantly surprised today to get 5 copies of the April issue of Welcome Home in the mail, featuring my humor essay, "By Any Other Name." I hadn't known when it would be published. The funny thing is that they published it along with a photo of two young boys who are about the same ages as my sons...and the older one has glasses, just like my older son, but of course they aren't my sons & it'll probably confuse the relatives! :-) They did change a couple of sentences slightly in ways that sound awkward to me, but oh's mostly just as I wrote it, and it's always great to see something I wrote in print!

Monday, April 07, 2003

I got a frustrating rejection today on an adult fiction story... I'm quite sick today & barely managed to change out of my pajamas at 3:15 to trudge out to the mailbox, & seeing my SASE in there didn't make me feel much better! ;-) The rejection said, "too short for us," which bugged me because they say they take stories of 2,000+ words, and this one was 1,993 words, which to me is approximately 2,000 words. True, I wasn't really thinking about word count when I mailed it, or else I would have fleshed it out a bit first--this was a second sub to the magazine after my first was returned with a request that I send more, and I just sent the best story I had ready--but if I'd added 7 or 10 or 25 words before sending it, would that really have made a difference? It probably wouldn't even take up more room in the magazine if I had. (In truth, I had just cut a few hundred words from it earlier to get it short enough to enter in a contest, though I don't think I kept the wordier draft!) Oh well, whatever. Now back to resting! Being sick is no fun, especially when you have preschoolers underfoot!

Tuesday, April 01, 2003

I finally filed my taxes yesterday, over a month after starting them, because I was debating whether or not to call my writing a business. I eventually decided to take the plunge, which hopefully won't send up too many red flags!

I also finished two of my book projects this week and got a contract for a third. Ha...I doubt I even have to say "April Fool" for you to see through that one! I only wish any of that were true!

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

After finding out yesterday that my essay is a finalist in a contest, I was empowered to try again to find a market for it (the contest prizes don't include publication). There is an anthology series called Chocolate for Woman (Chocolate for a Woman's Soul, etc.), and I decided it couldn't hurt to submit my essay, even though I wasn't sure it would be quite what they wanted. I e-mailed it to the editor last night, and got an acceptance for it this morning!! That's got to be my fastest acceptance ever. If all goes well, my essay will appear in the next edition of the anthology, to be published in 2004. Hooray!

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Oh, cool. I just found out my essay "Mom's Chair" is a finalist in the short non-fiction category of the San Gabriel Writers' League contest. It's gotten good feedback from people I've shown it to, but I've never found a home for it, or even a good potential home for it. I submitted it to one magazine & still haven't heard back 14 months later, so I'm pretty sure I'm not going to! Now I'm kicking myself for forgetting to enter it in the personal essay contest I meant to in January!

This week I once again dreamed that I sold a book--a rhyming picture book about fathers, which apparently had a unique take on things. I was thrilled as I looked forward to seeing a book with my name on the shelves & feeling like a "real" writer, & felt lucky because I'd written it in one day & would be getting a nice amount of money for it. However, I was a little concerned that the publisher was a small, possibly fly-by-night company called "Dollar Books"!

My 4-year-old is so funny. A few minutes ago, after I told him he must be tired because he kept dropping things, he threw some small toys across the room while acting silly. When I told him not to throw things, he happily excused his behavior by saying, "When I'm tired I don't make the best decisions."

Friday, March 21, 2003

My children's writing finally got some recognition in a ByLine contest. Two of my picture book manuscripts, If I Were Little and The Zoo that Grew, received honorable mentions in their latest Children's Story or Picture Book Contest. I know that both need a bit of work, so I'm happy that they were noticed at all! (Now I guess I need to go work on my short stories that didn't get mentions!)

Thursday, March 20, 2003

While everyone is waiting with bated breath (or beeted breath...) for me to finish my beet-related book, let me direct you to the web site of my online friend Chérie B. Stihler, who has another veggie-related book, The Giant Cabbage: An Alaska Folktale, available for purchase right now. She has lots of fun cabbage-related stuff on her site, including a "dress the cabbage" game. And take note: she has Girl Scout cookies, and is not afraid to send them! ;-) When I sent her a cabbage lady decoration I happened to have (yes, one can just "happen to have" cabbage lady decorations), she responded with a treasure chest of Girl Scout cookies, candy, Alaskan toys & goodies, & even some beety treats! The least I can do is plug her book!

As for me, I'm not writing too much at the moment. The world situation has got me down, as it probably has most of us. But I do believe we need stories, and hope, and fun, to get us through life and hard times, so I'm sure I'll be back on track before long.

Monday, March 10, 2003

I got another "good rejection" today. Though that sounds like an oxymoron, it really was good. It said, "Very nice. Not what I need right now, but do send others." So I've already got another submission going out to that editor today! Here's hoping!

Wednesday, March 05, 2003

Happy Birthday to my husband!!

As for me, I just entered a couple more contests, and I think I'm done with those for a while! (Maybe even for the rest of the year...just depends what comes up, I guess.) My next hurdle is to finish my taxes, and particularly to figure out whether to declare my paltry writing income for last year as miscellaneous/hobby income or self-employment income. It doesn't make a difference in the amount I owe unless I want to write off some of my writing expenses & declare a business loss, which could add a small amount to my refund. Just not sure what is smartest in the long run, as I don't know if I have a reasonable assumption of becoming profitable soon! (And theoretically you are not supposed to declare a self-employment loss for more than 2 out of 5 years.) And then it's back to full-tilt novel writing!

Friday, February 28, 2003

Another sale! ByLine bought another of my short pieces--a humor article called "Fast Food for Thought," the strange but true tale of how fast food has inspired much of my writing!

Thursday, February 27, 2003

Lots of stuff going on this week! First, I entered a small poetry contest. Second, I got the professional critique of my novel back from the critiquer yesterday. It was so helpful! She didn't trash the novel--hooray! And nearly everything she said fit in with my personal vision for the novel, but was stuff I hadn't quite clarified for myself, & gives me great ideas of where to start revising. Of course, it appears I need to rewrite, rethink, & possibly restructure the whole novel, but I'm sure it will make the novel much stronger.

Third, I mailed my application packet for the SCBWI Work-in-Progress grant today! I figured there was nothing to lose by entering, since I have a novel that's far along in the writing & revision process, and there's no fee to apply for the grant. I'm applying for the Grant for a Contemporary Novel for Young People (or the grant for a writer without a published book). I also applied last year with a different project, and didn't win a grant, but figure it's certainly worth the trouble to apply. This year I sent the novel I just had critiqued, though I'm not as confident as I might be because I know the first chapter, which I had to send for my writing sample, is going to change as I revise further, & will probably be better later than it is now.

Fourth, I got an encouraging rejection letter today! It's probably pathetic to celebrate "good" rejections, but the letter was funny and chatty, not just one of the businesslike "not right for our list" letters I sometimes get even when the rejection is personal. It also contained a great compliment and an offer to look at a different manuscript. So now I have a lot of work to do getting the other manuscript finished & ready for eventual submission!

Monday, February 24, 2003

I was surprised to get yet another honorable mention in a ByLine fiction contest today. My adult humor story, "Falling Through the Quacks," was one of 4 stories that received Special Honorable Mentions in their general Short-Short Story contest. I hadn't told anyone I was entering it, as it's so silly that even my husband thought it should probably be reserved for my own amusement, but I'm glad someone liked it! I can't imagine finding a market for it, though, as it's a light, humorous romance of a sort, involving a dancing duck! (See? I said I write quirky stuff!)

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

The critiquer I sent my manuscript to should have it now & is supposed to work on it today...eek! Makes me a bit nervous, though I'll be glad to get the feedback. Getting it all printed out & ready to send was a bit of a nightmare, & of course I found 16 more minor changes I need to make even after I printed it, but went ahead & sent it off as it was. I am mainly looking for a "big picture" critique of it, anyway. In the meantime, I'm polishing my synopsis some more, worked a little more on the chapter book I'm now iffy about, & have been trying to write a new poem, with only moderate success. I haven't submitted anything in a couple of weeks, & have no plans to do so soon. I don't have any submission goals this year as I did last year--this time it's mainly completion goals!

I'm getting curious about who looks at this site. My site counter says I've had 17 hits this week, which isn't terribly many, but I know I was only 2 or 3 of them so I still wonder who they were... (I suspect one may have been a friend from years ago for whom I have no current contact info, so Jim, if you're reading this, e-mail me!) Some weeks there have been more like 100 hits, but in those weeks I had shared the address of the site somewhere online that I hadn't previously shared it.

Monday, February 10, 2003

What a weekend--I got about 8 hours sleep on Friday & Saturday combined. Saturday night I stayed up until 5 am! What kept me harried all weekend, and even into today, was making "minor edits" to my novel. Still not done, either--I'm now done with everything but the first chapter (for this pass), but I've got maybe 30 more outstanding issues to resolve in that one. I'm trying to hurry to get it out for critique, but am nervous to get the critique as I'm sure the critiquer will suggest major revisions. And if this has been a minor revision, I'd hate to see a major one!

Friday, February 07, 2003

Is it a good sign that I dreamed I sold a book? (Maybe not, since the other time I dreamed that, the manuscript was rejected not long after the dream!) I worry I'll never really sell a book because much of what I write is "quirky," or at least has quirky touches, & I know that turns some people off. I can't see changing that, though, because it's what I like, & avoiding it altogether would kill half the fun of writing. I've got to believe there are some other people out there with tastes similar to mine!

I've been doing what I thought would be minor line edits on my YA novel, but they've really grown! I still have hours left to do just on that, and I was horrified to find a major continuity error, where I left out an entire day. (When the protagonist got home from Sunday lunch, it was Monday night...and given the pacing up to that point, I can't just skip ahead that far with no explanation.) I wrote some transitional stuff that seems to work, but it still needs some cleaning up. When I get the whole thing ready--hopefully this weekend--I'll find someplace to print it all out on a laser printer, then I'm sending it out for critique. I worry I'll be spending big bucks to find out it's worthless, but at this point I'm too close to it to even have a clue what's working and what's not. I figure that, especially as a first-time novelist, I could really benefit from the input of an experienced critiquer.

Saturday, February 01, 2003

Good news yesterday--I got my February issue of ByLine and learned that my short story "Ending Some of It" was a finalist in their annual Literary Awards. I'm not sure how many people entered, but I was at least in the top 9. Another short story, "For Better or For Worse," got an honorable mention in their New-Talent Short Story Contest. Those 2 validations of my writing definitely helped to make up for the rejection letter I received the same day.

At last week's SCBWI retreat, we were encouraged to enter the San Gabriel Writers' League Contest, as it's run by a local organization & they added a Writing for Children category this year. I planned to enter in the children's category, & also wanted to enter an adult manuscript but wasn't sure whether to enter a personal essay or a short story. My husband thought the essay was stronger, so I sent that, but when I found out about 10 minutes later that the short story was a finalist in ByLine's big contest, I rushed to enter that one, too! Considering the entry fees, I'd now have to win at least 2nd place in something just to break even....

In other news, I managed to get my YA novel synopsis down to one page, and finally submitted my humor article (mentioned 1/13) to ByLine. I also submitted a picture book manuscript to an editor. I sent the book submission in a business-sized envelope instead of the large kind I usually use, thinking that since the manuscript is so short (2 pages), it might seem less daunting than yet another big manila envelope, & therefore might get opened more quickly. Now other writers are telling me they think manuscripts should always be mailed in large envelopes. Oh well...we'll see what happens. Meanwhile, Happy Groundhog Day Eve!

Wednesday, January 29, 2003

I was up until 3:00 this morning finally breaking my YA novel into chapters--remind me to write novels in chapters from now on! It flowed out faster without them, but now may lack a good structure or obvious places to break the chapters. I've already changed the chapter breaks around more today. And I'm really not sure what a good number of chapters is, or how long they should be. At the moment I have 39 chapters of approximately 1,000 to 2,000 words apiece (most between 1,200 and 1,800 words). I'm also trying to write a concise synopsis of it for the SCBWI grant competition. I haven't managed to get it onto one page, but it only goes one paragraph onto the second page, so that may not be too bad.

My writers' retreat was both stressful and addictive! I found myself frazzled a lot and unsure of myself--and got nothing written at all--but I loved the creative atmosphere and the social aspects, hanging out with other writers all weekend, and would love to go back now! I still haven't quite come down from it. My critique session was a bit odd, since the editor didn't like the premise of my story enough to do a thorough critique of it, but at the same time she treated me like a real writer and seemed to think I had skill at writing. The resulting feeling was something like the dissonant "vertigo zoom" camera shots they sometimes use in movies, where the camera moves further back while the lens zooms in. She was particularly enthusiastic about my ability to write in rhyme--interesting to me since children's writers are always cautioned against writing in rhyme. I was not sure what to think afterwards, but once I got over my surprise about her analysis of my chapter book, I relaxed and had a great time!

Thursday, January 23, 2003

I don't think it was the most relevant thing I could have been doing, but I spent the last couple of days doing line editing on my completed novel draft, and cleaning up some things in the manuscript. I'm going to try to print a complete copy today, so I'll have one with me at my retreat, just in case I want to show it to anyone. Not that it is really ready for anyone else's eyes! I'm trying to read a lot about revision and novel structure, and am ordering several books to read on those topics. I'm completely confused about the whole thing. I was hoping to enter the novel in SCBWI's work-in-progress grant competition next month, but I'd have to provide approximately the first 2,500 words of the manuscript, and they happen to be the ones I am least happy with! They do give a good sense of the narrator's voice, through which the whole novel is filtered, but the novel doesn't currently start with an actual scene, but more of an introductory monologue, and I'm not sure if that's okay. Most of the books say it's not, but YA is kind of a different breed. I don't just want to write a new opening quickly for the grant competition--I want to make sure I'm picking the right opening. But I'm not sure I'll be ready to do that even within a month! (Strange because the whole novel took less time to write than that.)

I also entered five manuscripts in ByLine's Children's Story or Picture Book Contest today. If I won third place, I'd only break even! But it's not about the money...I just want to see if my stuff is any good, and if so, which stuff is best. I entered 3 picture book manuscripts and 2 magazine stories. I may also enter a local (San Gabriel Writers' League) contest next week, but with $10 entry fees for each manuscript, I'm not sure what to enter, or even what genre to enter in (just children's, or children's and adults', or what). I wouldn't want to enter more than a couple of things, for that price.

I am so not ready for my writers' retreat tomorrow. Not packed, not sure what I'm taking, feeling under the weather at the moment (with 2 sick kids to take care of...), and needing to print out a bunch of my writing! With a printer that's often on the fritz. I'm not sure what to take, writing-wise, but there are supposed to be several critique circles & round table discussions. I was up until 3 am (!) this morning doing the line edit on my novel, and fear I'll be up until all hours tonight as well. I hope not. I'm trying to brace myself for the possibility that the editor critiquing my stuff will hate it, or at least be iffy about it. I'm getting way too optimistic, and want to squash that now before I get the rug pulled out from under me! I'd much rather find myself pleasantly surprised than deflated.

Monday, January 13, 2003

My main writing goal of the week is to polish up a humor article I drafted a month or two ago and send it off. I'm not making much headway, though. It's mostly okay as is, but I'm having trouble with parts of it, and no matter how much I stare at it, I don't come up with any better ideas! I'm not sure how to get past that. I want to get this mailed out & not have it hanging over my head any longer, but of course I don't want to send it out without making it good enough to actually sell! My secondary goal is to work more on my chapter book/mid-grade. It's going to be a busy week even if you take writing out of the equation. And I can't believe my "baby" turns 2 tomorrow! I'd be even more wistful about him growing up if he and his 4-year-old brother hadn't colored all over the wall, door, TV, and a toy today!

Sunday, January 12, 2003

When I participated in National Novel Writing Month last November, I kept nearly daily updates in an online journal, which helped keep me thinking about the writing, and sort of kept me accountable. I also found that writing out the problems helped me to think through and solve them. So excuse me if I blather on about some of my current writing projects in this journal.... I figure some people might be interested to get a glimpse into the process, anyway.

Right now I'm writing what I intended to be a chapter book for young readers--the type that usually only have one fairly simple plot, instead of complex sub-plots. But I'm to a point in the book where the main thing that needs to happen is that the character needs to hide a secret habit, and get more and more paranoid that people will find out, etc. But I just realized that I have nothing for her to be doing during all that deepening of her problem! It seems like anything I write for her to do--going to school, hanging out with friends, or whatever--will give me a platform for her paranoia but will not further the plot in and of itself. Now I'm wondering if I should come up with a sub-plot to keep her busy on the surface while her main problem grows stronger. Or maybe it's a pacing issue...maybe I don't need to show everything but can just skip over it with text like, "The next two weeks were the worst of my life. Every day I was sure that someone would find out...." Anyway, I'm sure I can come up with something (actually, I already have a showdown scene at the end that I could start planting the seeds for now), but it's certainly not as easy as just sticking to my synopsis, which only discusses the problem and not the details of how it plays out. I was also hoping to get through an entire draft of this before my writing retreat in 2 weeks, but the book seems to be growing on me (I thought it might be 60 pages, but now I'm thinking maybe 90+) & I would be surpised if I can do it! Especially with my younger son's 2nd birthday this week and a few celebrations to keep us busy this week. On the other hand, I'm pretty happy with it overall, which is more than I can say for some of the things I've written!

Saturday, January 11, 2003

Happy 2003, everyone! I have finally gotten back into my writing after the holidays. I have been preparing a few contest entries over the past few days, and also making some edits to an article I was working on in December and trying to cut down an old short story that was too long, but today I finally started doing some more original writing.

I wrote just over 2,000 more words today (so far) on my chapter book or mid-grade novel in progress (it's morphing a bit so I'm not quite sure what it is yet, or how long it will be). I hadn't written on it in a month, so it's a little difficult to get back into the same flow. Also, the last thing I wrote regarding it in December was a 2-page synopsis laying out the major plot events of the book. Although I was thrilled to come up with some of the plot developments I did at the time, I now find it rather daunting to see all that remains to be written. At about 30 double-spaced pages in, I feel like I'm about halfway through the story, but when I look over the synopsis, it seems more like I'm about 1/3 through it. Of course, I can veer off from the synopsis, but I do think my basic ideas were good, and I also know that in any case, there's a lot more to write. But I don't know quite how I'm going to get there from here, and it looks like a long, hard road!