Sunday, December 11, 2011

When I Find Beautifully Used Words

The syntax of words are like a string of Christmas lights-arranged beautifully by color, design and strung on the Christmas tree or across a garage roof, they are delightful.

I found a string of Christmas lights today in Tricia Springtubb's "What Happened on Fox Street." It looks like an early reader.
Here is a short excerpt:
"It was a short street, five houses on either side, smooshed close together but in a nice way, like friendly people in a crowded elevator...Mo Wren's house was in the middle where a heart would be had Fox street been a person.


Friday, November 25, 2011

Clean Teen

I learned a few weekends ago that there is a new emerging category: clean teen. Editors and agents ask about it and have recognized the demand. I only put clean teen on my school bookshelves. I even wish it was a label that went on all YA that fits this category. I wouldn't want it to be its own genre, just a label that fit books that weren't riddled with intimacy and perversion.

Hooray for those who are asking for it! Hooray for those who are writing it!

WIP at 29, 864 words!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Newest WIP Rambling

I was able to knock off 3,000 words today bringing the newest story from apprx. 22,000 words to 24, 917 words.
I've read in several places that your first three novels will be unpublishable. This is my fourth! This is the one!!!
Tenacity, audacity and persistence! If only publication was guaranteed by these three requirements--but they are the precursers to luck! And every published book needs luck. Hard work and luck=success.

Catching A Glimpse of Editor Coma

I'm glimpsing over my notes from SCBWI LA and I noticed something that I think is new. The advantage of sitting at a round table or in a class with people reading portions of their manuscript is that you realize how many, certainly the majority of manuscripts all sound the same. It is apparent why some work gets noticed immediately and that the freshness, the newness would make an editor jump out of his/her seat.
This is what I wrote exactly in my notes: Probably the best thing I’m taking away is what an editor has to sit through. I was dying when I kept hearing the same old voice. I undersatnad when someone or something
jumps off the page.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

More Laurie H Anderson on Character

Characters have 3 levels
a. Outer-stuff obvious to reader, physical description, physicality, hobbies, do they read? Cd player, know more than we put in story. Give character something quirkly, every choice tells us more about the character, favorite book, each choice tell us more
b. Inner character, dreams, desire, what do they like?
c. Deep secrets-know more about the character than they know, greatest fear, desire, what was the most embarrassing moment of their life-ask what would I do to avoid that situation again.
d. Have character avoid embarrassment-character must come face to face with their scene.
e. What does your character want to avoid at all costs-bring it on.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Advice from award winning author Jennifer Holm, Turtle in Paradise:

1. Don't give up
2. Stop counting after the 16th draft
3. Hire a baby sitter--or in my case, housecleaners, a cook, etc.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Laurie Halse Anderson on Characters

Where do we find characters?
1. steal them-we’re surrounded by fabulous people-students-
2. disguise them if it’s unflattering,
3. uses self. Steal relentlessly from yourself.
4. Cast the book as if I’m writing a play
5. When we really write specific, we usually get something that people can understand
6. Finds for each of her main characters a photo that looks like them
7. Clip articles about cool characters and the things they do.
8. If we’re alert to story, we find them everywhere
9. wrote a YA novel based on a babysitter,
10. Create them from the whole cloth-answer questions about characters

A Lifetime to Create an Award Winning Book

Author Rukhsanakha Kahn gave a brief talk about her picture book, The Big Red Lollipop. She took a story from her childhood, thought about it for ten years, then wrote the story in 15 minutes.

She admonished her audience to glean stories from childhood. We know them so well. It makes me think of two conflicting cliches about writing: Write what you know and write what you don't know.

The first certainly makes sense.

As does the second-what we don't know but want to know about will be just as compelling as we are driven to research and create.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Thursday, October 20, 2011

I Find I'm Happiest When I'm Writing

So why do I allow so many things to keep me from what I love?
Portions of this essay/talk by Steve Jobs can be found all over the internet. His stunning death in relation to this piece are strong food for thought.

"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."
"When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: ‘If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right.' It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?' And whenever the answer has been ‘No' for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something."
"Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle.

And so, a reminder to re-prioritze my life and write more.

I teach Socratic Seminar-- an amazing combination of Language Arts and World History taught by Socratic methods. This is my third year, but in order to continue, I would have to get a history teaching endorsement in addition to my Secondary English teaching endorsement. I tried. I really tried to fake it: I signed up for a Roman History class which would have allowed me to continue pursuing the endorsement to continue on this path. I went for a month. I loved the learning but I loathed the requirements to continue. The first exam I would have had to spend hours memorizing minute details about the Roman Empire that I really couldn't have cared less.
Whenever I had questions, I would go to a dear teaching colleague who has a master's degree in Greek/Roman History. He is so passionate for his subject that it is inspiring. And an amazing support to Steve Job's call to do what you love. From Dustin's passionate love for all things Greek and Roman, I learned that I didn't have it and was being untrue to myself.
I can't imagine giving up this incredible teaching position but I've got to be true to who I am.
I dropped the class.
Doors close, windows open. I hope it's not a second story window from which I must leap.
But then, there are ropes.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Beverly Horowitz Part 2

Things an author might do to understand her novel:
*Where's the focus?
*Who is your market?
*Who will buy it?

Be your own best advocate by:
*Be able to clarify what your book is about
*Get on the other side of desk and figure how to pitch your novel. Do not describe it as then, then, and then..
*Always get another set of eyes to look at your work-especially helpful if they are your own eyes which requires distancing from your work.
*Put manuscript away, come back and say, "I'm going to read from a new perspective."
*Have I brought my character my own gender sensibility? (I can't remember quite what this means).
*If I don't love my character, who will? The character doesn't have to be loveable to love-Voldemort is a great character, and we can love his character because it's so wonderfully, fulfillingly evil.
*Are all your scenes age appropriate for the protagonist's age?
*It's ok to write about anything as long as its intent isn't to titillate or exploit. Don't throw in anything that isn't needed or meant to achieve exploitation.
*Analyze each scene--is it necessary? Ask why this tangent was taken?
*The writing cannot have an agenda. What makes our work different from what adults do?
*Young people are still in the process of growing and becoming. They are a blank page.
*Remember that teenagers have limited experience when they come to the party.
*What is my moral obligation to kids who are still a blank slate?
*The story must bring a sense of hope-even a story that Random House published about a boy and his transgender transformation, though it was sad, the story offered hope. In the Chocolate WArs, there was a ray of hope for the boy who dared to disturb the universe.
*Book must be the best and at the inspiring level.

Once your novel is in the publishing que:
*Write flap copy for the book-to further understand meaning. Would you buy the book from the flap copy? (once you do this it may help to write a query).
*The industry has become smaller.
*Try to understand what is beyond sending the book in.
*Do I love my character? Enough to revise as much as might be required?
*Ms. H. looks for honesty in writing because kids can smell a fake a mile away-no fakes.
*If someone gives an author the respect to read her book, the reader deserves the very best the author has to offer

When a manuscript comes in, what is the dealbreaker?
1. Author must be willing to revise
2. Editors must receive the manuscript in their name.-Understand that publishing has its own chaos.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Illustrator David Small

"The body expresses what the mind is not allowed to do."

David Small wrote/drew "STitches" the story of his abuse and consequent disease from not communicating or dealing with this abuse. The time spent with him was moving and at the end when he danced and sang to James Taylor's How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You, I was very moved by his passion, his suffering and his ability to overcome the angst by putting it all down on paper.

My take-away was that writing has to be honest, raw, and will always reflect what the author has experienced and may be what the author has to give, must give. Sometimes it's a matter of survival and healthy living.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The One and Only Judy Blume

I went to breakfast one morning and standing right in front of me was the prolific children's author Judy Blume. At first, I thought, Wow, there's Judy Blume. But guess what? Judy Blume was just....just ...another person--who dug in her heals, worked hard and had publishing success.
We had a chance to hear from her when author John Green canceled for gall bladder surgery. Now that would have been interesting...
She told us:
She keeps her old IBM SElectra in the closet and whispers "I love you" when she passes.
Because of the OLD way of writing she would write from beginning to end. She has succumbed to the constant editing due to the ease of the computer.
Her adult novel Summer Sister took 23 drafts and over 3 years to write.
Her basic ideas for books live in her head and percolate.
She doesn't understand the creative process and plot isn't how her ideas/books come to her.
When you write, you become the age of your character.
Your novel starts the day something happens.
Supposedly her dialogue is the best ever and it's the only thing she likes to write.
Question your characters and ask the questions that don't have answers.
She knows where her novel starts and when it ends but loves the mystery of not knowing what is happening in between.
She takes lots of notes and scribbles things down before she starts writing.
Every writer needs someone who's supportive.
Suggested taking everything I've learned at the conference and then letting it go.
When she wakes up, she's excited to go in her little room and work with her characters.
While writing, she cries and laughs out loud. --That is how moved she is by her own characters and to me, shows the depth of her creation and how real they become.
Natural determination counts as much as talent.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Phantom Tollbooth

How did I become 51 years old without reading Norton Juster's Phantom Tollbooth? I've ordered it and look forward to this timeless (1961) classic. I still appreciated the wisdom from this literary giant. He said, "Boredom is not an unmixed blessing." This is what helped him write his book. I think of all the years I spent trying to keep my children from being bored. A mistake? Possibly.

He also told us to spend a large part of our time out of context. Now, I don't remember his context for making this statement and I don't remember any details, so I'm going to re-interpret what this might have meant.

I think he means that we need to think and experience outside of our norm, push ourselves to go outside of our box, whether this is driving a different way, walking a different route, reaching out and speaking to strangers, skydiving (I still haven't taken my birthday present), or maybe it's as simple as eating African food when we always eat American. I'm unsure, but from a man who wrote a timeless book, it's a thought to ponder.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Second Intensive with Leasa Adams

This woman was darling. Knew her stuff. She's an editor, a good one and of course she knows her stuff. Though I gathered from her comments, that there is rigidity in the editorial establishment. INflexible to what will work, what will not, they look at the manuscripts they see as formulaic. But then they know what works and what doesn't.
The workshop was about plot. The format for the intensive was again: terrible. Three hours, again too many people-probably 25, and the expectation for each of us to give a premise for our story and then for Ms. Abrams and the class participants to jump in and tell us if our plot worked--all in five minutes. But, Ms. Abrams announced right at the beginning that she was not a school teacher and didn't know how to manage the masses. IN her previous class, not everyone had their ideas reviewed. Unless we managed our time well, not everyone would have a chance. What do YOU think happened?
And honestly, how can you tell a person if their plot is working or not in 5 minutes. WEll, some people took 20 minutes. Three people left the class. I wanted to join them but felt if I was the fourth, well that was just too rude.
Never mind that the first guy who went had a chip on his shoulder because he wanted to believe that his 20 year old protagonist was the perfect age for children's literature. He'd had three teenage readers, not relatives, read his manuscript and they thought the age was just right. He basically engaged Ms. Abrams in an antagonistic fashion. She handled him well, but my oh my, another greatly horrific start. When the argument was over, he basically admitted that he wanted and expected the fight.
The only way that this format was helpful was that when the leader and participants asked me questions about my plot, I wasn't confident and sure-which spoke to me that I didn't have my plot down solid. So in that way it was invaluable. I'm a firm believer that every situation can be turned into value.

Questions or Plot checklist-from the editor
1. What does your character want? Must be specific, concrete answer-watch for abstractions like happiness, or to fin in etc.
2. Will your readers know what the obstacles are for your main character within the early pages of the novel? Can you list them clearly?
3. do these stakes resonate with your readers--taking into account gender and age level of target audience?
4. If your story is fantasy/science fiction rather than reality-based, can you still pinpoint what makes the stakes feel relatable to kids in our world?
5.Does every single scene serve a clear plot/character development purpose that you can easily summarize?
6. I there any kind of time pressure for the character to solve her or his conflicts?
7. Does your character have choices as part of the building conflicts that affect the trajectory of the story?
8. Is all of the action character-driven? Do the characters' motivations always make sense and feel consistent?
9. Will readers understand why your character is making the choices he/she makes?
10 Will the payoffs satisfy?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Day After Intensives-For Mary

As a participant in the day after intensives, I must say that the energy was gone. Where did it go and who lost it? The participants? The teachers?

I was highly anticipating my time with Arthur Levine-a powerhouse in the world of publishing. And he certainly was a delight.
 Levine chose to go over the beginning chapter of each of our novels. Of course there was not enough time and each author listened to 3 minutes of feedback with 100 minutes of listening to feedback from someone else's novel after only hearing the first page read by each author.
I tried to listen and glean from the experience and the master in editing.
What ARthur did teach us was some fantastic insight on that first chapter. He compared it to a first date. Did the analogy work?  We must compare our first chapter to the impression we want to present on a first date. What do we want to happen on a first date? We want to engage the guy, get him interested and hope, (if he's a catch) that he will come back for more, or in book terms, turn the page and read the next chapter.
So what kind of impression are we making on our first date?
He also took examples from several celebrated books. It only took the first few paragraphs to see the strength of these novels, to recognize that they had all presented themselves very well, in very different ways.
The examples were: Harry Potter, book 1, Millicent Min Girl Genius, The Golden Compass, Marcelo in the Real World, The Bad Beginning: A series of Unfortunate Events, James and the Giant Peach, When She Was Good, Deep Down Popular, In the Shadow of the Ark, The Year of the Secret Assignments.

The Protected vs. the Unprotected Child

Donna Jo Napoli began her talk by telling an incident of a woman standing up in a crowd and berating her for writing a terrible thing in Song of the Magdalene. I have never read this book, which I understand to be about Mary Magdalene and a rape.
Ms. Napoli defended herself and then based her talk to us on the thoughts and emotions that sprang from that encounter.

Foremost, empathy is critical to our society and when it is missing, society disintegrates.

In our society we have the protected and the unprotected child. The unprotected child is the child who may live in poverty, who may suffer abuse, who may suffer from parents who are mentally ill, who are drug abusers, parents who don't look out for their children. They are children who suffer in war and through famine. Often these childrens' stories are the subjects of books. It is critical that these children find and read these books so they understand they are not alone and that they can learn from others' experiences. Traumatic books can help children get through and resolve their own trauma.

Then there are the protected children who must also gain empathy and no one would ever wish the above circumstances on the protected child. Thank goodness they are protected. But the protected child must learn empathy and this may only happen through vicarious circumstances found in a book. It is safe, yet emotion evoking and if written beautifully, will move the child to empathy without having to experience the horrible.
It is critical that children learn about suffering from books.
Remember the emotion you felt in A Tree Grows In Brooklyn? Remember everything that you learned? Remember how you loved Anne Frank and understood the injustices of Hitler's decrees without living in 1940's Holland? Remember Laurie Halse Andersen's Speak? And you knew what it was like to be disconnected and desolate? And to watch out for the wrong guys?

If a hard book is in one's heart, it is that author's obligation to tell that story--for the sake of the children.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

"All I Ever Wanted to be Was a Storyteller" Bruce Coville part 1

Class with Bruce Coville, of Into the Land of the Unicorns fame. I've never read any of his books but I can compliment his terrific class on plot and character.
Most often books are labeled as character or plot driven. According to Bruce, one with out the other is like a coin with one side-it can't exist.
According to Coville:
*The best stories from the beginning of time partake equally between the female/male; it was how Dickens and Shakespeare wrote-they created incredible male and female characters with lots of action.
*Plot imposes discipline on the disorder of life. When someone re-tells an event, when it is a great event they often say, "And it was almost like a story." As humans we crave, even live for a good story because it is a basic desire of the human race.

A good plot:
*brings closure
*has a perfect ending-both a surprise and the inevitable, but not a coincidence.
There are rules for using coincidence-use only at the beginning of the story, never at the end. The further coincidence in the story, the more unbelievable.
*REaders are becoming less and less tolerant of conicidence. And fiction is held to a higher standard of believability than real life.

A good story consists of:
The HA-a belly laugh-not a joke- but a laugh that grows out of story itself-when a bully gets come-uppance, situations where we think of the perfect thing the next day),
The WA-a tear, kill the dog, most endangered character in books-tear of joy or relief-because something fills your heart so much that it has to come out of your eyes. Third kind of tear-tear of personal connection-the right person who needs to hear that thing at that time) The right story at the right time at the right moment can be an arrow to the heart that allows something to be pierced and released

The YIKES- a gasp of surprise—formula-where the world of the story seems right-a great turn-love that surprise.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Thought This Quote Deserved A Space of Its Own

We need to raise a new generation of writers and artists not for our nation's economy but for the nation's soul.
Mark Seigal

Gary Paulsen-Recipient of Three Newberry Awards

Not what I expected from a man who won three Newberry awards. He is old, bitter but still writing, still a caring man-probably a very tender man who has overreacted from his hardships and the way he claims to have been treated by publishers, attorneys, wife etc. But this is not a tabloid for writer-tell-all. And I heard a gem from Gary, twice, that has resonated with me to the core.

"Turn off the television. Throw a rock into the screen. It's nothing but disgusting trash."

I'm not a TV watcher, but I have my lazy moment weaknesses and this was a much appreciated wake-up call.

In his school visits, this is his mantra to kids everywhere and sometimes they act on the TV destruction and he'll get a phone call from a parent. But he is right!

His second greatest recommendation was to read like him: two to three books a day. He also recommended to not let anything get in the way of writing, including family--which might explain some of his bitterness. Sure, something has to give away to writing time, but let it be television!

Thank-you Gary. Two to three books a day! It's possible and reaffirmed what is espoused by most writer's talks-they became writers, learned the story of craft, from reading stories.

Hatchet, Dogsong,--Gary is an amazing example of living to write his stories. He lives a Spartan life in the woods. He did the Idiatrod dogsled race in Alaska several times. His stories are brutally real and truthful, but he has lived these stories and that is why they are award winners. You should have heard what he called Jack London for only living the Alaskan life vicariously through the stories of hardship he heard from the guys who lived them.

Paulsen explained that he's been a millionaire but supposedly now is somewhat broke-everything about his appearance supported this. helped to explain the love one must have of writing to keep writing and a real writer must write without thought to money. Motives must be absolutely pure! I'm pretty convinced that Paulsen loves to write.

Gary is a keynote speaker today, which I am going to miss. I'm excited to hear feedback from the masses. i wonder if he'll tone it down for the main group.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Candy Shop

SCBWI attendance is like walking through a candy store and trying to eat it all. There is so much here! So much inspiration and a lot of craft information. I'm going to write about each speaker or workshop in separate posts instead of throwing all the gumballs at you. Day 2 and I'm exhausted from getting up at 3:30 this morning because of excitement and anxiety--but I can't rest. I'm off to dinner and a party where some of our funner writers will be dressed up in pajamas!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Conceive an idea. Then stick to it. Those who hang on are the only ones who amount to anything. You can do anything you please. It's the way it's done that makes the difference.
A good thing is no better for being done quickly.

Augustus Saint-Gaudens, American sculptor


I have the beach house all to myself. Lovely weather too, yet I can't wait to head up to LA. I'm most excited about the class with Arthur Levine. Just couldn't hold this in this morning. Off for a beach run!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Writers Belong In Jail

A novel idea proposed in a New York Times article by Tony Perrottett. He begins with the story of the unsavory character Marquis de Sade and his prolific/horrendous writing because of incarceration and follows through with several writers who did so because they were so restricted in their freedom. Especially from the internet slaves of email etc.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Faustina and the Lesson of Voice

I sat on the cold hard floor of the Getty museum with 20 other adults, trying to sketch a marble statue. The subject was Faustina the Elder, the Empress and wife of Antoninius Pius, Emperor of Rome. We made several different sketches with different instructions from the teacher/artist. Each person made four drawings. Some of the sketchers discovered they were natural artists, others did not. I learned the latter.
At the end of the exercise, the instructor had us lay out our sketches for everyone to see.
We were all sketching the same marble statue and for the most part, all the drawings represented Faustina the Elder, BUT...they were all so distinctly different. Apprx. 40 drawings of the same object all interpreted differently. Some were classic, some comical, some primitive; others emphasized lines and the geometry of the space, others were embellished with background.

The lesson was apparent-this was VOICE, the indescribable, coveted, VOICE. It can't be imitated, it can't be copied. It is only truly voice if it is original. Drawn from what is at the core, only us. Nothing else.

Friday, July 22, 2011

While I Was at the Getty Villa...

I just spent three days studying antiquity, art acquisition and preservation at the Getty Villa in Malibu California. It was a fantastic experience and I loved every moment of it.
While I was there...the beginning seeds of a new story began to emerge.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

I Met My Antagonist Character Yesterday

I drove to SLC for a wedding and while heading for the freeway, I saw my character Kels. She was sassy, confident and lost. She was crossing the street that I was turning on. She wore white hotpants that barely covered her cheeks, knee high white boots trimmed with fur and had an unbelievable attitude apparent from behind. I never saw her face but I did see her do a sidekick to trigger the crosswalk sign.
I was anxious to get home but in hindsight I wish I would have followed her, even asked her if she needed a ride...but I didn't, cause I knew she'd be trouble.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Then and Now

When I was in the battle trenches of motherhood, time alone was as splendid as ceasefire. But times have changed and now, time alone, is more of the norm. So much, that I reach out to spend time with others instead of being alone.
My half-week in Malibu was by myself so I called Melissa and was lucky to spend two of my free nights with her.
My upcoming week in Century City at the SCBWI-LA was also going to be spent alone--until I learned a dear friend and her daughter have to be in LA. I offered my hotel room for the company I will enjoy. A simple call to the Hyatt and they changed my king size room to double beds. I'll work and concentrate hard during the conference then hopefully will have friends to dine with at night. Life is good and inclusive.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Fabulous Book Information

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Passion in The Raft of the Medusa

The little woman who was referred to as starting the Civil War was visiting Paris in the spring of 1853 (McCullough 216). She spent her days exploring the city and once while in the Grand Galerie of Le Louvre, she made this astute observation concerning the paintings on display: There were too few from a distance and close up that were "glorious enough to seize and control my whole being." Harriet Beecher Stowe felt that too many artists, "painted with dry eyes and cold hearts, thinking little of heroes, faith, love or immortality."

I ponder the impact of Uncle Tom's Cabin and think that it was written with all the passions she claimed were missing in the great paintings worthy of hanging in the Louvre. However, there was one painting that she spent one hour just looking at. It was Theodore Gericault's The Raft of the Medusa. It's a remarkable painting and shares the emotion that emerged from the paintbrush and the pen.

I will be contemplating how to write with tears, a warm heart, while thinking of heroes, faith, love and immortality. What a book it would be.

WIP 21,959

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Matthew's Drama Students

I met a man named Matthew who is the drama teacher at a middle school for performing arts in Hollywood California.
I asked him if he came across some incredible talent. Yes, he did and though he found that there were a lot of talented kids, he encountered only rarely, the few talents that were so outstanding that he recognized them right away. It seemed the kid was born that way. Matthew may be right, but by the time he sees the students they've already been developing/honing their skills for 12 years.
I wish I was the kind of talented writer with the knock-out voice. Pure, gifted, talent - but I think it can be something developed or that it is always something developed. How do I know how long she's been working on that voice. Pure writing may just look like it's a pure gift.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Current WIP at 18,935 Words

AND an email from a senior editor who is taking a collaborative work to acquisitions. It may be a long two months of waiting, hoping and praying. I'm not going to think about it...I'm not going to think about it.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Writing Collaboration

Sometimes when Becca, Annie and I sit around a table and I'm reading my words, I get this wonderment that someone takes me serious.

Creativity is a precious thing and flourishes in the right environment. I'm thankful for the precious few moments I share with these women.

16, 415 words in the current WIP.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

14,800 Words in the New WIP

I've never written like I'm writing right now. I have the whole plot mapped out. The idea/plot has been percolating for many months. I even put it on the back burner, literally forgot about it, re-found it, realized it had possibility and started working on it again. So I started writing it. Went for a walk on the beach and the innuendos, ins-and-outs came in that one hour time.

I knew what was going to happen so I was free to write the scene I felt like. I've written the very last scene, the in-betweens and now I just go through and fill in what is left out. It's an amazing way to write-it's how I write short pieces and usually how I wrote my newspaper columns. But the length required for a YA novel--I was incapable. Until now.

I gave the premise, peppered with written, unedited scenes to my two writing partners and they both gave nods of approval. Working hard.

A Masterpiece

I found this creation on the beach while walking home with my mom from a delicious dinner at Chez Loma. I continued my walk, then returned to take a few photos. I wish I'd seen the master at work. He took a simple element: sand, and turned it into an enjoyable artifact. I wasn't the only person taking photos-wanting to make it last, because it was after all, a sandcastle.
The creation out of sand got me thinking about the simplicity of words and how the right combination can make us laugh, cry or change our lives. Yet words are just representations put to symbolic lines, dots, arches. Unlike sandcastles, the right combination of words can last forever: the constitution, marriage vows, ancient texts, famous speeches. Yet, so much that is written will, like sandcastles, get washed away with the outgoing tide.
This comparison makes me want to excel at building great word combinations with the power to endure.

Friday, June 17, 2011

I'm Convinced

That voice...that coveted, unexplainable thing that makes story, is found when an author finds her self. We've all lived unauthentically. Trying to find our tastes. Trying to feel comfortable in our own shoes. Feeling uncomfortable after something we said, not because it was bad, nor stupid, but because it wasn't me.
And it's like going to the shoe store and finding the perfect pair of shoes. We often have to try on several pairs before we find the right shoe. That's why most authors have to write several books before the shoe fits.

First you try on a really high-heeled shoe because you're short and you'd love to be taller, if just for one night; but you walk around, wobble, even buy the shoe. You wear it out to your occasion but take it off after the first dance for obvious reasons. Then you see some cool, cool leather boots, try them on and they emphasize the size of your large knees. Oops. The selection, the trying on process, continues until you find the comfy loafers. Ahhhh. It's a fit. And you accept that you're a loafer girl.

This theory gelled when I read an interview of a young author whose hit series has brought her author success. In a NYT article, 6/17/2011, we read:
Throughout the tour, Hocking seemed surprisingly mature, comfortable in her own skin. Back in the car, she agreed, attributing this to her writing breakthrough, and to Goldman’s counsel, too. “When I stopped judging myself, that was actually a huge turning point in my whole personality. I realized that it’s O.K. to like things like ‘The Breakfast Club’ even though it’s not critically acclaimed. It’s O.K. to like the Muppets. I’d always been a closet lame person,” she said and laughed. “I think I became cooler when I stopped trying to be cool.”

It was also with the help of a friend that had the nerve to tell Hocking that she looked ridiculous in the pink fur go-go boots:
One day, Goldman intervened. “He just said: ‘These books you’re writing are not you. You’re forcing yourself. That’s not who you are. You’re a silly, fun person who likes silly, fun things. Stop trying to be a dark person.’ ” She paused. “I told him: ‘No, you’re an idiot. Those books are crap.’ ”

But she took his advice and started writing stuff that resonated more personally.
It’s a formula, however, that took a while for Hocking to concoct. She recalls a moment of truth around the time she was 21. “My whole life I would always read things like I write — lighter young-adult stuff. But I would also read stuff that was darker, like Kurt Vonnegut and Chuck Palahniuk, and that was the kind of stuff I would try to write. Because I was like, these books are good” — worthy, highbrow, of artistic value.She summed up the difference between her books and the likes of Vonnegut thus: “Theirs are not actually character-driven, they’re not books about people. People are just used to explain an idea. And my books are about people — who might happen to have ideas.”

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Markus Zusak at the Provo Library

Tickets were gone within the hour that they were available, but fortunately, the consideration of the Provo Library personnel streamed it via computer -the library website. Markus Zusak-almost everyone's favorite author of The Book Thief. Here are my notes-not translated incredibly well.

You become the owner of the story when you know the details. He used a personal experience of leaving his jacket on an airplane(?) He went to the lost and found and because of the details he knew about the jacket, the note in the pocket, they handed it right over to him.
You have to win the audience over-reading audience that is.
Wrote the first 80 pages of Book Thief at least 150 times. Editing is so important-he claims not to have a great imagination, just has a lot of problems in his writing and works through those problems.
He had a problem with death narrating-creepy, sadisistic, "This is a story about a young girl. Do you like young girls? Well I do. But then again, I like everybody." Too macabre. Then Lisa's point of view: she sounded too Australian for a German ww ii stoyr.. Tried to avoid another book about wwII.
Last line: "What if death is afraid of humans. Asked why this question. Wrote the narrator with this question in mind. The unexpected idea.
Using your own life to write. Impossible not to use own life. You don't think that everything in your life is mundane and that it isn't going to help you.
Remembered boxing with his brother in the backyard
Pomeranians spook him.
What used to happen in his house-his parents grew up so different-didn't realize the seed was planted. Interested in things that weren't quite right. A combination of two opposite things that come together.Listened to parent's experiences of life in Austria and Germany. Mother heard a noise in the street and she ran to see the kids but it was people she saw. a teenage boy, one of the worst kids, gave ethe old man a piece of bread.Pure beauty vs pure horror. Book thief came from all the stories his parents told him.

What a gracious man.
Questions from audience:
1. WE are Drawn into story when something unexpected happens.
Foreshadowing-Why did you tell us rudy was going to die and then you did it?
I wanted death to tell the story slightly different. Talk about trees and give things away. element of character. take the risk. ..what if I just tell everything what is going to happen. wanted to prepare people for the movement when these people were going to die. Instinct. Heard exact sentences. Listen to that instinct. I'm going to do this book exactly how I want to do because he thought it was going to be his least successful.
Max and Lisa's relationship was ambiguous. 1. unintentional,2.
Suggestions for the middle section? people who want to write and can't get the "middle section" it's because its not your top priority. spend time with it. Has to be number 1 or 2. It's like waiting for a wild animal to come out of its hole. write, write, fail, problem, do it enough times and it gives you your middle. the only way is spending time with it. Ask self, "if your book never got published, would you still write? That's when you become a writer, when you can answer yes.
When do you let a story die? Doesn't have to die, it slides into another story, you start again and use your best stuff and keep on going. The answer might be a little to the left or a little to the right.

After re-reading these notes, my take-away is that he wasn't afraid to take risks and he wasn't afraid to ignore the questions. When he had a question he went with the unexpected answer-didn't play it safe.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Positive Spin On Writer's Block

“Embrace your writer’s block. It’s nature’s way of preserving trees and your reputation. Listen to it and try to understand its source. Often writer’s block happens because somewhere in your work you’ve lied to yourself and your subconscious won’t let you go any further until you’ve gone back, erased the lie, stated the truth and started over.”
–José Rivera, playwright and Oscar-nominated screenwriter of The Motorcycle Diaries

Friday, March 4, 2011

Just a website I want to remember. Excellent suggestions for manuscript preparation.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Beautiful Language

Beautiful language is like a bite of favorite ice cream. Its flavor is so distinct and recognizable. I literally stop reading.

In my most recent read of Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, by Grace Lin, I came across two descriptions that tasted like ice cream.

...the sun seemed to disappear like a closing flower (132).
The moon's reflection fastened onto the water's surface (133).

Lin simply chose to see the sun with unique imagery and chose an uncharacteristic verb for the moon's actions.
This reminds me of a quote on a card a friend gave me for my birthday long ago. Underneath an amusing, startling photo, the caption reads: If everyone thinks alike; no one is thinking.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Mark Twain Wisdom

"Substitute 'damn' every time you're inclined to write very'; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be."
Mark Twain

And we have "word replace." Imagine the shock and ease of correcting overly used words.

Saturday, February 26, 2011


It is with words as with sunbeams. The more they are condensed, the deeper they burn. Robert Southey

I put up a sentence with extra words for my 9th graders to edit. It was rather obvious, or so I thought. The sentence: I just wanted to tell you that you are just great.

They easily identified the overuse of "just" and I erased them from the sentence. Good. Then a student suggested deleting "that."
Done. Then a stroke of brilliance shouted from a corner of the room, "If you really want to get rid of extra words, it should be 'You are great.'"

Why yes!

Some of the words that are so beautifully condensed have stayed with me for a long, long time. The first that comes to mind is Dostoevsky's from The Brother Karamazov. Unfortunately, I have to paraphrase: Be kind to children and animals for God gave them the beginnings of thought.

Beautiful and written with minimal words-just enough to explain a profound idea.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Tom Romano Quote Worth Quoting

Voice is the writer's presence on the page. It is the sense we have while reading that someone occupies the middle of our mind, the sense we have while writing that something or someone is whispering in our ear. Tom Romano

I'm still asking myself about my own voice. If something is so distinguishable, so original, why don't I recognize my own? What does it take to develop my own voice? Yet, I think it is something like class-when someone has it, it is truly recognizable. Especially if I am the beneficiary of her classy actions.

Maybe voice requires the confidence it would take to let someone dwell inside or occupy my mind-an open book unashamed to let someone in or possibly let myself out. So maybe voice requires a letting go-to trust my thoughts so implicitly that I quit censuring what I want or need to say. Perhaps this is what keeps me from saying, "I have a great writing voice."

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Voice-the Single Most Important Element of Writing

Can't buy it, borrow it, sell just is what it
Jennifer Rees is an assistant editor at Scholastic. She is the woman behind Hunger Games and several other well-known Ya's. I listened to her speak in Los Angeles last August. Putting together her thoughts and other editor/agent thoughts that I've heard over the last few years, I am overwhelmingly convinced that the single most important aspect of anyone's manuscript is that the first page, but especially the first line must be intriguing, must catch their attention. You could have the best book in the world but if it doesn't start off beautifully, with a punch or a bang or a thrill, it will never go anywhere.

So entranced was she with the beginnings of Hunger Games, that Ms. Rees missed the subway stop to pick up her own children. That is what an author has to do these days if she wants her work published. In Ms. Rees' own words, a manuscript has to say to her, "Hey you. I know you're busy-come with me."

When she picks up a manuscript from the slush pile or one sent from an agent, she turns to the first page and reads the first page until she's bored...and she expects to be bored.
Again, voice is the most powerful and absorbing aspect of the manuscript.
Her recommendations for studying voice are:
Cynthia Rylant-When I was Young in the Mountains
Sunny Holiday-Forget Me Not
Sarah Pennypacker-Clementine

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Flash From Heaven --Alice Sebold Continued

"Waking at 4A.m.-3a.m. when i am truly driven --is surely no fun for anyone, but having an image sneak up on you before the rest of the world wakes up is heaven. A small and precious secret that no one can see in the dark. Hours later, when the house stirs and I hear my husband making a fresh pot of coffee in the kitchen, I begin to feel the pressures of the day invade. I feel as if the air around me literally changes, and the work that comes then is harder and driven by will, not grace. I finish up for the day--always in the middle of something with notes jotted down that make no sense to anyone )and if I leave my desk for more than a day, that often includes me)--and go into the world of responsibilities where that necessary if often oppressive goddess of discipline takes center stage.

The work I leave behind in my study is unfinished and unknowable almost every day. Characters come alive and die in an instant, metaphors wobble, and sentences shift meaning without my fully understanding how. After all, conscious though is the death of creativity and to have faith in one's unconscious is the ultimate need of a writer--at least this one. Dreams go unfinished while we sleep but can be completed upon waking if we both have faith and are willing to do the grueling work of followthrough. In this way faith is a figment, a dream, a creation--something beautiful I never hope to lose.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Understanding the Myth of Writing With Help from Alice Sebold

As a writer, I've experienced the mysterious-ness of writing. I once dreamt an entire newspaper column, woke up, wrote it up and saw it in print a few weeks later.
As a writer, I've experienced the magic of an idea.
I've heard of writers dreaming their story.
Alice Sebold wrote a short article for the Oprah magazine in May of 2007. I loved it, saved it and am now recording it:

In some sense, faith is what I'm all about and also what can disappear in the blink of an eye. For a writer, it is as simple as words coming easily one day and failing you the next. During bleak times, when my characters sound like so many holiday-drunk-relatives--and not the garrulous kind--I reassure myself that writing, like dreaming, is a function of my unconscious and will never leave me entirely on my own. I wake in the very early morning and like to start an hour or two before sunrise as if to catch the tailwind of my dreams. Also, pragmatically, I prefer to start when all the judges are still sleepy, including the harshest one--myself.

A difficult lesson, which I fought at every turn, is that what often must substitute for faith is discipline. Faith has a lovely ease about it, an ethereal ring. Discipline is the rod, the staff, your insecurities internalized and sprouting rules and limits on your life. Why can't I just have faith that books will be completed? Why isn't faith alone enough? I hear my Southern roots respond. Faith doesn't dig ditches, they say; faith doesn't scrape the burn from the bottom of the pot. Ultimately, faith gives freedom, and discipline, its sister, makes sure the job gets done. Authors, when alone, often talk of page counts or word counts or how many hours they spent working that day. Rarely do we discuss our own attempts at poetry even though it is the poetry of others that routinely charges us with enough faith to go on.

To be continued...

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Revision snippets from notes taken at various writing conferences ( cleaning out files):
I look for bad transitions, unnecessary words, and descriptive gaps. And I pay attention to the pace and the music of the words. Janet Evanovich
Rewriting is the essence of writing well: it's where the game is won or lost...clear writing is the result of a lot of tinkering. William Zinsser
With every small refinement I feel that I'm coming nearer to where I would like to arrive, and when I finally get there I know it was the rewriting, not the writing, that won the game. William Zinsser
When am I finished rewriting? Never. The novel never attains the level of perfections (you will know when to stop rewriting ) when yo see the problems but, no matter how hard you try, you can't improve on what you have. That's it. Walter Moseley
To write is human, to edit is divine
. Stephen King
See revision as envisioning again. If there are areas in your work where there is a blur or vagueness, you can simply see the picture again and add the details that will bring your work closer to your mind's picture. Natalie Goldberg
Approach revision the same way you approach writing--with the understanding that there is no right way and the assurance that you will learn how to do it by doing it. Lisa Garrigues
Just as stories aren't written but rewritten, so should beginnings be written and rewritten. Look at your opening and ask yourself, "If I were reading this, would I be intrigued enough to go on?: Barnaby Conrad
I write my stories in scenes and always from a particular character's point of view. Then i may rewrite the same scene from a different character's point of view and find that it works better. Elmore Leonard
The best approach to rewriting is an attitude of discovery, seeking to find the inherent form in each small section within the sprawling rough draft, and editing out or chipping away anything that does not serve the idea. Then comes the building-up phase when skeletal impressions are fleshed out and specific examples and more precise language are added. Roberta Jean Bryant
It is a good idea to wait awhile before you reread your writing. Time allows for distance and objectivity about your work. Natalie Goldberg

Monday, February 14, 2011

Is Writing Ever Finished?

When I come to the end I will... pause for that ever precious moment of completion. I will reverence that a whole world, life and events have come to the page. A life has ended..had begun. How did they get there? Some stories have always lived but where did they live? Is it a primordial association? Is there a library of writeable thoughts in the deep recesses of the brain, or do they reside in the heart? Is there a valve that stories flow from? Or are stories like butterflies, twitting about an author poised with her net-catching a monarch?
When I come to the end it will only be another beginning. A beginning of revision and edit, a search for a home.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Little Details About Word Choice

Even, just, really---Excessive words to be used only if absolutely necessary-cut those trite words.
Use word search to ferret them out like termites in the attic. Words such as then, or so, can alert an author to overuse of compound sentences.
Prose has its own poetry and lyricism.

Strong words such as fettish, chortle--you know them-they can be overused too. Great phrases should be used only once.

Always read OUT LOUD. I'm starting to have my students regularly read their work out loud in class. I think they are surprised by the on-stage editing they do. It's one of the greatest editing tools.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Nuggets from a Conference on Character & Dialogue

Characters must be necessary and different and have a specific purpose.
Characters must sound different in their voice-read dialogue without the tags. See if they really do sound different and their voices are distinguishable from one another.

Always consider body language and actions to show character personality. Actions speak louder than words; leave out the parts that readers will skip.

Every character needs back story. What may be obvious to the author may not be obvious to the readers.

Teenagers especially want to know what people look like and what they're wearying but this must be introduced subtly. In this line: she hitched up her jeans-we are given a slice of the personality. I like to think of a character as a 10 course meal and each part or personality, quirk, action, spoken word contributes to the 10 course character personality.

Language must match time, people, atmosphere.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Satisfying Ending Notes from Patti Sherlock Continued

4. Aristotle described a seven-point story incline. Three of them dealt with the story's ending
* The narrative climax is point 5. In it, the protagonist makes a strong moral statement. The statement can be in word, thought, or deed. It needn't be a statement; it can be implied. It signals a change of heart. Often, it's a statement of courage.
*The dramatic climax-point 6 grows out of the narrative climax. The reader gets to watch the protagonist put actions to her statement.
*The denouement, pt. 7, gives the reader a chance to say goodbye tothe character(s) he has come to love and care about. Often it's a chance to see the protagonist in her altered life.

5. We don't need to follow Aristotle's incline. It's a tool. And we mustn't let it get in the way of imagination. But it can be useful during rewriting.
*We can see whether a narrative and dramatic climax might strengthen our story.
*We can ask whether we've given the reader a chance to say goodbye.

6. During rewrite, we can ask ourselves:
*Did I tie up the loose ends?
Did I keep the ending honest?

My own notes:
*Surprise endings must be foreshadowed-can't come out of the blue
*If there are several subplots or even a few, they must all be resolved by the end of the book. Remember how we felt when "Lost" ended. So, so many subplots left unresolved...

Saturday, February 5, 2011

White Tornado

I've been re-shuffling my study-drawers, boxes, files and a lot of writing information is stacking up. I'm going through as much as I can; gleaning all that's important and turning them into writing posts. The convenience of a blog!
From a SCBWI writing conference in SLC 2008-a handout by Patti Sherlock author of Letters from Wolfie:
Satisfying Endings
1. It's okay to not plan ahead-
*character, theme and plot may change as you write
*Let your imagination carry you away, and carry the story.
*John Steinbeck, Tony Hillerman, Barbara Kingsolver report that the story points them where to go.
*Let go. Give up control

2. Writing, and how stories come to us, may be as mystical as religion/spirituality.
*Thomas Aquinas said we can't know what God is. We can only know what God is not. Something similar might be said of stories. We can't pin down how they work.
*In Aboriginal cultures and some earlier civilizations, the shaman, healer, medicine man/woman was often the story teller, too. Those cultures realized the link between the Gods and the persons the Gods gave stories to.

3. But even if we don't have to carefully plan or contrive them, we can be mindful of what effective endings do.
*They tell the reader the story is coming to an end. Then, they bring the story to a halt.
*Some books follow a pattern, as in musical pieces. In a sonata, the theme is expressed , repeated, and, near the end, recapitulated. Some books share this pattern.
*Strong endings don't resort to gimmicks. No deus ex machina, fairy godmothers, amnesia or lightning. The reader wants the protagonist to solve the problems.
*The ending does not have to be happy, but should be satisfying. It should have a feeling of inevitability about it.

Contd. in next post...

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Creating Characters With Humor

Everyone loves to laugh. My favorite thing is to make my husband laugh--and then everyone else.
The notes below come from a panel on humor with Douglas Florian, Lenore Look, Mo Willems; I was only familiar with Mo Willems and his one picture book which I never thought was very funny. In spite of that, I've translated my notes in hopes that Becca Wilhite, in her upcoming class on truth (previously mentioned as humor at LDS storymakers will find something in the jumble below.

Brief one liners on writing humor (can be applied to any character development):
Write to illuminate character
Choose things that are not inherently funny
Pick something not funny
The manner in which you tell it so no one sees the funny coming
Do not start with ”I’m going to tell you something funny.”
Tangents help us to create diversions
Hide humor
Let bad, unexpected things happen to characters--do not protect characters
Give flaws

Perfect characters are humorless--will kill a book
Preoccupation with self-self delusions, overly enthusiastic, confident,
Spend time with character answer all the who what why when , how she feels, believes in, what you’re afraid of.

All characters are 50% me and 50% what you create
Don’t write to just make them laugh; make them writhe, laugh, hold their sides, roll on the floor.
Listen to kids, kids are funnier than adults, write it down.

Incongruity-in Look's Alvin series books: Shakespeare doesn’t fit within the Alvin books. When father gets mad, he curses in Shakespeare vernacular .
Look for incongruities in our own life.
Word play:
chapter title: the apes of math-a pairing of two words that really don't fit together.
Play with clichés, flip them on their heads. Look originally wrote ”it really fried my patience" and changed to "It really fried my rice.”

The omission reader: the reader sees trouble coming but the character doesn’t.
Peggy rafman-all stories stem from embarrassing moments
The shock value of inappropriate behavior.
Why do humor? Is it just to make them laugh.
Surprise you and make you look again.
Failure, school, emotions, philosophy, society, religion,
Reading should be a path to the soul.
There are several kinds of stories, but only one difficult thing-humor
Humor is a form of athletics-do it a lot to get good at it.
From a comedian's point of view-you have to write six months for 5 minutes of material.

Nobody knows what funny is. We only know what isn’t funny.

Mo Willems said that every draft becomes 20 % less words than the previous draft. So maybe the key to being funny is to edit, edit edit, because we all know----unedited work is not funny.!!!!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Lois Lowry-The Origins of Her Ideas and Other Notes

I took great notes on Ms. Lowry's talk and will try to piece them together here. Foremost, it was an honor to hear her speak and hear her creation process of nine of her thirty-something books.
LL feels the root of her writing came from having given words to her sorrow and strong emotions.

She often wrote couplets that were the start of her books:

Things that happened
way back - when then told and shaped and told again

Anyone who is a writer can often look back on their childhood and see the path they were always on to become a writer. Often, I look back with shame at the lies I used to tell. And maybe I shouldn't hoo hoo the seriousness of untruths, but I'm going to start taking a more gentle perspective of the stories I told as a kid and the satisfaction it used to bring me. LL had the same problem:

Here are a few of her great book lines:
The sweet sadness in her voice had affected him in an odd way. The sound of that little tremble as she spoke entered his skin and burrowed into his brain and made him into someone he’d never been: a liar.

James Priestly had an overwhelming urge to use deoderant the first time in his life.

Anastasia Krumpnik-one of her books
How did she think up Anastasia?
LL's father was pres. Nixon’s dentist. She had a bizarre fascination with pres.’s daughters. Amy Carter was the inspiration for Anastasia. A couple lines from Anastasia:
She had hair the color of hubbard squash,
She was listening instead to the words that were appearing in her own head, floating there and arranging themselves into groups into lines into poems…

Number the Stars
The idea and base of the story came from a conversation with her friend Annelise Platt who grew up in Denmark. They took a vacation together and realized that they both had lost an older sister. LL learned that AP sister had died because of living in Nazi occupied Denmark. In 1943 King Christian X was allowed to take his horse and ride among the people.-LL modeled the character Peter after one of the resistance fighters the Nazis executed in Copenhagen.

Some of her book ideas have come from asking the questions
What if? What if? Always there are so many answers.

The Giver came from an experience with her father. He was older and living in assisted care. She flew into see father every 6 weeks-showed him photo albums. The photos would bring back memories for her father. “There you are with your sister. Helen. What ever happened to her?" Her father asked. He had forgotten and it was if it had just happened and so he expressed his grief. She turned the page. Another photo and when showed him another picture of the girls, again he asked what happened to her? He experienced the grief all over again.
What if, she thought, if we could give people a shot where they didn’t remember the sadness?

Another couplet:
Moment caught by lens and light-not to solve but ponder--write

Ms. Lowry inherited photos from aunt with no names or info. The photo of a farm boy that haunted her became the reason for another book. The Silent boy. An autistic boy. “He was thin, I saw now, and tall for his age, and I thought, still growing fast, for his overalls were riding up his ankles and he would soon need longer. He was wearing a cap…

A haunting phrase and little more--imagination, take wing—and soar.

Her mother became a vehicle for A Time for Courage.


LL's mother was in a home during a lapse of alzheimers. She would laugh and laugh and cry and talk about a baby her friend was expecting and the baby died. She would talk to the friend named Dorothy. LL asked her mom when she was completely lucid: "Were you actually with Dorothy?" Her mother responded, "In the dream world it doesn’t matter. LL creates a time—the beginning of the book; Gossamer. “They collected pieces of the past, of long ago and of yesterday…

Saturday, January 29, 2011

More Adventure

While on our way to Boston, our luggage was on its way to San Francisco. Too bad we don’t accumulate sky miles for how far our luggage travels.
We fly into LaGuardia and our luggage is still coming in from Atlanta. Expected to arrive one hour after us. PJ and I hop in a cab with hopes that I will make it in time for the first intensive. Tony waits for the overdue luggage.
Having worn the same clothes over a 24 hour period, four hours of sleep, I walk into the intensives with minutes to spare.

The irony in all of this is that, while driving to the airport PJ commented, “Isn’t life good.” Instant agreement from all parties. Over the next 24 hours, we had to remind ourselves that life really is good. It is often in the inconveniences and even tragedies that we see how good life can be.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

When You're Willing to Fly All Night I am sitting in the airport. JFK was closed and our flight was canceled. We, along with hundreds of other people scrambled for another flight. The most immediate, first option was to fly late tonight and arrive tomorrow at 1:00. Not an option. Second option: fly to LA at 8 tonight, then to Atlanta, then to NY, arriving at 10:00 in the morning. I might arrive for the first intensive, might not. Then of course, there was the option to just bag it and go home. But I love to write and contemplating failure and dismissing months of planning, writing, re-writing, There had to be another way. And there was. Five p.m flight to Boston. Arrive past midnight, cheap airport hotel, early 6:00 a.m shuttle to New York and worst case, (which is an under-calculation) arrive at the Hyatt just in time for intensives.
The adventure begins!

I love writing.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


How important is creativity? It is a beginning. A starting place of success. And nothing inspires me more than this short video of Jay Walker's Library of Imagination.