Monthly Archives: October 2013

Walk the Line….Editing or Butchering?

Someone today got me thinking about yet another question I have. Obviously, I have far more questions than answers.

I am one of those who would edit to the point of insanity. I don’t know if this is a writer problem, or a me problem, but there are many times I second guess myself on lots in a manuscript. Do I want to use that word? Do I need to include that? Should this go here or there? What if I should scrap that all together?

I truly enjoy the process of editing and making my writing better, but at what point does a writer make it worse? How do I know when enough is enough? Is that what a great agent or editor is for? Is this a completely personal decision that just has to feel right? Am I destined to second guess everything?

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Questions- Would Love Lots of Opinions!

I have had some random questions bouncing around in my head lately, for which I would greatly appreciate some answers. Anyone is welcome to post and weigh in.

1) What is the best way to get an agent’s attention? In the opening pitch of a query letter, what is the best way to make them want to keep reading?

2) What is the best way to network and get the opinion of other writers? I want others to read and critique my work, but I also don’t want it out for the masses.

3) What is the best way to juggle career and family? I currently teach, write and am a new mother and a wife. I am balancing a dual career while trying to get representation for my writing and it has been hard on me and my family. How do some of you balance it all?

4) How long did it take for people to not look at you like you are crazy when you tell them you are writing a novel? I get it. I know I am not normal and I could quite possibly fail. But do they ever stop looking at you like you have five heads?

5) How do you be confident about your writing without coming across as “that writer”? This is a business where you are not just selling what you write, but you are selling yourself. Everything I write is extremely personal, but I understand this is a business as well. How do you balance those two things that seem to be on the opposite ends of the spectrum?

6) How do you know an idea is a good idea?

Thanks everyone! I appreciate your input and look forward to reading your thoughts.

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Support System Not Optional

With anything I have ever done, I have not done it alone. There have been people behind me, listening to my freak-out panic attacks when things got difficult. People who have talked me down and pushed me forward. People who have pissed me off to the point that I wanted to accomplish it just to prove them wrong. People who have inspired me to be the best me I can be.

I felt I needed to dedicate a blog post to those people. Without them, I would not have the incredible life I have today. My husband is  the biggest supporter I will ever have and it is the reason I love him. I am insane. The things I dream of and try to attempt, sometimes sound ridiculous. Example. I had a baby six months ago. When she was a month old I decided to write a children’s picture book conceptualized because of her. Then a few months later I decided to try to get it published. Most husbands probably would have laughed at their wives or called them crazy. Mine did not. Even if he thinks it, he pretends that I am not insane and keeps “write” on encouraging me. (Sorry I had to.) After many rejections and not much luck, he still believes in me.

Being married to me is not easy. I am not close to perfect, but I try really hard to be a little better every day. To learn, grow and learn some more. Writing is a passion I have always had and I love him for loving that about me. He is understanding even when he doesn’t understand and that is a true support system. Without the love and help of others, there are only dreams and not realities.

 

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Why Students Make Great Critics!

I have a student in my class who is well read, articulate, and an all around great kid. She reads constantly and can write beautifully, so I decided to take a chance. I handed her the piece of my unfinished middle grade historical fiction/sci-fi novel that I have been working on. I will be honest, I have not been so nervous for anyone to read my work EVER. The reason being, kids are honest and sometimes brutally. I value and respect them for it. Therefore,I was bracing myself for the worst. She gave me some of the most helpful feedback I have received to date. She said she loved the concept but I should make a few tweeks and additions. Don’t get me wrong. I understand perfectly that she is not an agent, publisher, or actual critic. But she is the audience. She is one of the people who I would hope to have reading my novel. It was a fantastic experience and I would do it again. I highly recommend it for others out there as well.

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Student Editor….AMAZING!

I have discovered why agents give samples of chapters to their children, if they have them. It is to solicit honest answers and opinions. I was brave enough to give one of my students (who is a fantastic writer and student) a sampling of the new novel that I have begun. She said she was giving it thought and was going to finish up the comments on it to get it back to me tomorrow. I LOVE IT! I don’t think I have been this nervous or afraid to receive comments back on a manuscript ever! I will have to write about the comments she gives me and what she thinks of the overall idea. I have just found my new way of honing my ideas and craft! So excited!

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If I Could Build An Agent…

As a writer, I have spent a lot of time trying to sell myself to agents. As of yet, I have been unsuccessful. But through my search, I have definitely discovered what I want in an agent and what I do not want. I am not presuming that I am amazing enough for an agent to seek me out, but in a perfect world the agent that loves me would be….

1) Genuine- The agent would actually care about me and my work and not just the dollar signs. When doing my research, I found many agents who, through one form or another, made it clear that they only care about money. I want someone who loves the work.

2) Honest- I need someone who is going to be honest about my work and help me get better. I do not pretend to know everything. I want to learn and grow as a writer. I am hoping to find someone who is willing to help me in my work and hopefully my career. However, being honest does not mean being cruel.

3) Crazy- Yes I mean crazy because you have to be slightly crazy to write and to sell one’s writing. Crazy for me is a synonym for imaginative. They have to be fun and quirky. That is exactly what my writing is. If they aren’t crazy or imaginative, they are just not going to get it.

4) Knowledgeable- I do not know the business well and I am willing to admit that. I am counting on them to navigate for me and help me with the business side of publishing. They have to know what they are doing and be successful at it.

5) Relatable- I need to feel a connection to them or again they won’t get my writing. I am quirky and I have been around children for a long time, which is why I write for them. It is vitally important that they can relate to my love of children and children’s literature. They have to understand my deep love and passion for both my writing and teaching.

6) Enthusiastic- Most importantly, I want someone who believes in me and loves my work. I want someone who can connect with my characters and understand them. I need an agent who can sell my work and appreciate my art.

Is any of this too much to ask?

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Inspiration

I am probably like most people where it seems that my inspiration and best ideas come at the least opportune moments. Typically, it’s at about 2 in the morning. There are many nights, where the idea comes and plants itself so squarely in my mind, that I have to get up and write it down, or there will be no going back to sleep. Lately, it has become a bit of a problem for me personally.

I have had ADD since I was young. When I was a child, it was not diagnosed the way it is today. I was told I was lazy in math class and that I just didn’t want to try. Truth was, math was hard, and the moment I set foot in that class my mind would wonder to another planet where it was much less taxing on me. Focusing on certain things was always difficult. Meetings, classes, down times at jobs, were struggles for me. Even when it seemed like I was on another planet, my mind is constantly going at 1,000 miles per hour. That is why reading was always such an escape for me. It allowed me to process the material as quickly as I could go and would take me to another world of imagination. I got yelled at a lot for reading during math class. Sometimes, menial tasks were just the sort of thing I needed to reboot and calm my mind. Writing stories, poetry, even a journal was quite often helpful too.

When I was in college and I took my special education classes, I discovered what the problem was. By then, I had learned how to compensate so there was never any point in going to the doctor. I didn’t really need to be medicated because I was not hyperactive, just spacey. I always had episodes of my mind racing, but I was able to calm it through writing or working out. It never became a true problem until lately.

Within the last few months, my life has definitely gone through quite a bit of upheaval. I had a baby and have become a mother. I have gone back to work full time. I have written four children’s manuscripts (The Livi Bug Series). I love to write and I am so glad I have become more involved in that passion and trying to make it something more than my hobby. But since that decision, my brain has been in overdrive. I have millions of ideas and thoughts that are a constant stream running through my mind. I will go to bed and have to wake up and write just to quiet the constant hum that has become my brain. It has begun to affect all aspects of my life, some for the better and some not. Try explaining it to your husband. It was hard enough getting it on this page where I thought people might know what I am talking about.

I am not complaining about the ideas or inspirations that I have. Please do not get me wrong. But I do need to figure out how to quiet my ever-racing mind. I don’t know if this is a writer thing or an ADD thing, but if anyone has any recommendations on how to tone it down, they would be appreciated. I don’t know, maybe this is my sign that I really am supposed to keep going with this. I guess I will just have to wait and see. I guess inspiration comes from everywhere, even my ADD.

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