Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Time to Celebrate

I spent the first half of this month in a jealous and envious state.

It just seemed like good things were happening all around me! Good things that I wanted happening to ME!
It took me a while to sort through these feelings. I started feeling somewhat sad about the things that I didn't have going on in my life.
Some examples, you may ask? Well, for one, it's May! Graduation time. Everywhere around me I have friends, acquaintances, siblings, even complete strangers posting pictures on Facebook and various social sites about their graduation. Ugh. I still have one long, daunting year. One very long, super-awful year. I couldn't help but wish it was ME in that cap and gown. My sweet baby brother graduated from high school this year. (He is an amazingly talented photographer and artist! Remember his name!)

And then to frost my pity-cake- they hold a graduation ceremony for my daughter's preschool class.

Look at that tiny little 'diploma'.

And then I throw in the mix of new authors publishing their adorable new books everyday. I want that to be ME!
And friends getting new cars- (I want a new car!!!)
And friends getting new houses- (I SOO want a new house!!)
And friends having new babies- (Okay, maybe I don't want a new baby- but you get the point!)
etc and etc. The list goes on.

So, yes, I have to admit that at the beginning of this month I was bitten by the jealousy snake. I spent days reading posts and brooding in my own stew of self-pity.

BUT... you will be happy to know that I think I am over "it". I realized that there are SO many wonderful things in my life on a day to day basis that asking for all of that all at once would be completely insane (not to mention major stress! new degree, job, house, car, book deal!?!?! Not at once, please!)
These things will come for me. I know it. I am working hard at each and everyone of those "goals" and wants of mine. I know that I will get there. Before then however, I need to learn to appreciate the little "celebrations" that happen EVERYDAY in my life.

Laundry is (almost) done.
We are going to the library!
Sovie is trying to talk!!!
Steven supposedly has a surprise for me (that one might not be cause for a celebration! hmmm...)
and sooo many more.

It will all come in time. I know this.

Oh and just to be clear- I am soooo proud of all of the graduates this year! I know how hard they worked on whatever it may be- high school, college, graduate school (including you lil' bro!). I also am soooo proud of my sweet baby girl! She is growing up before my eyes. I am afraid if I blink- I may miss it.
I am also so happy for all that have such amazing things going on in their lives! You all deserve it! I am looking forward to reading your books, sitting in your cars, touring your houses, holding your babies, etc.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

All About an Author- Susan Meyers

Susan Meyers
The Princess and the Pee

Susan Meyers is an Oklahoma author just bursting with creativity and talent. She has so graciously agreed to this quickie interview with yours truly.
Please check out her newest book The Princess and the Pee on her website and here at The Princess and The Pee at

About the book: Princess Pia Scarlett wants to sleep on the top bunk. That's the only way she can see the fireflies. But her sister, The Darling Milicent, refuses to switch bunks until Pia stops wetting the bed. So, they make a bet, seven nights dry and Pia gets to see fireflies. Which sister will win?

Can you share how you came up with the concept of The Princess and the Pee?

It was two-fold. First, how could I NOT do something with that title, lol. Second, almost everyone I talk too has someone in their family who still wet the bed past the age considered normal. In fact, during my research, I found out that late bedwetting is quite normal. Princess Pia Scarlet's problem is she doesn't want to wait for her body to grow.

About how long was the process of writing The Princess and the Pee? How long was the publishing process?

I would say that the writing process took six months. Then came the critiques and in the end it probably took me a year to get it polished. I was lucky in the publication. Blooming Tree had published my first book and they were the first publisher I sent The Princess and the Pee to. They accepted it within a month. That was in 2005.

What other books have you published?

Callie and the Stepmother

-Callie has read all the fairytales and thinks all stepmothers are mean. Then she gets one of her own…

(note: you can find Callie and the Stepmother here and here!)

Are you currently working on another?

I have several projects in the works, none near the completion stage yet.

What are your favorite types of books to write? Favorite to read?

Write: I love short chapter books. I love writing for younger children.

Read: Mystery, fantasy and Inspirational. I just finished Runaway by Wendelin Van Draanen.

Do you have any advice for us aspiring writers out there?

Learn your craft. Get into a good critique group or team up with a critique partner. Join SCBWI and learn from other writers. FINISH your manuscript. SEND IN your manuscript. Keep trying and you will get published!

Thank you so much, Susan! You are amazing! I can't wait to see what you come out with next.

For more information about Susan Meyers and her fantastic books please check out her website and follow her blog

Friday, May 14, 2010

The time to write...

How to schedule time to actually write EVERYDAY:
1. Do not have kids.
2. Do not have a spouse. (Or if you do, have a spouse with a job that requires extensive travel.)
3. Forget about pets or anything else that requires time to take care of. (This includes virtual pets and virtual farms. Yes, Farmville fanatics, I am talking about you.)
4. Do not own any books, a library card, or an account.
5. Do not own a t.v. (And if you have DVR it is even worse.)

BUT.. if you are like most of us and you have one or even all 5 (like me!) of those items, here are some practical tips that I have compiled from various people and places.

1. be prepared
 I try to write everyday, I really do, but when life gets the best of me, I grab my trusty Ipod Touch and jot down notes. Sometimes they are nothing more than a to-do list. Usually they include ideas for articles, children's books, another great character to add to my novel, etc. Inspiration strikes anywhere, at anytime. Carry around a small notepad everywhere you go (don't forget the pen!) or even a voice recorder, if you are more of an auditory person. I once wrote down notes in a small journal going 80mph on the interstate. I certainly do not recommend this, but it just goes to show you how quickly some ideas can come and go. I was on the way home from my first writing conference in Chandler, OK with the SCBWI. My head was swirling with so many new ideas for picture books. I remember jotting down opening lines and rhyme schemes. Only about half of it is actually legible, but maybe one of those ideas will find its way into the books and hearts of children everywhere someday.

2. find your time
Some websites list going to bed an hour later. By the time I finish the whole bedtime routine (I call it the 4 b's- baths, books, bowels, and besos) I am literally EXHAUSTED myself and sometimes it is only 8:30! The last thing I want to do is sit at my computer. I would much rather catch up on that overflowing DVR list, or finish another chapter in my latest gripping novel.
Other sites list waking up an hour earlier- yeah, right. My kids are a full-time job. No, really- they are my full-time job, a 24-hour, 7-day per week JOB. Now, I love that job, but I do not want to start it any earlier than necessary in the morning. For some reason, children are born with this strange ability to just know when someone else in the house is awake and they will want to join them. Strange, I know, but I witness it on a daily basis.
So find your time. The time that works for YOU. Right now, I am up at 6 in the morning writing this. I know it goes against what I wrote up there- but believe me, this is a rare occasion and I am listening intently for a small cry or pitter-patter of footsteps.
Usually, afternoon nap is my best time to write. Kids are asleep, or happily engrossed in mindless television, and I have a moment of time to compile the ideas and thoughts that have already been running through my mind.

Yes, although they take up more of my precious writing time than I would like- they also stimulate creativity and production. I have not had a blog for very long, so this is a completely new world to me. I have been reading blogs for quite sometime. I would usually spend an hour catching up on all of the wonderful blogs I had bookmarked and surfing the net for my daily news updates. I then would critique what I read, thinking, I sooo could have written that! Now, I will use that time to write my own updates and posts. Another tip on blogs: (this is a freebie- enjoy it!) Save up some posts. If you want to write everyday (wouldn't that be nice) write a few posts and do not publish them, just save them. That way if you find that you do not have time to sit down and write one day- you can just hit that little button. I will try to get better about this, I promise!

4. set a target/goal
I set daily word limits for my novel, currently only 500 words. Some people set chapter limits or page limits. For example, the average page in a novel is 250 words. Write one or two pages a day (more if you can!!) Some choose to set monthly limits. A chapter a month, 50 pages a month, even a complete novel in a month (see NaNoWriMo ). Whatever your goal- write it down. Set up a calendar using Microsoft Outlook or create a timer on your phone. Another effective way (for me) is to tell someone else about my goal. Update your Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, etc. with your  goal. If I tell at least ONE other person my goal, it helps me to be accountable for my writing. I start to think ugh, I do not feel like writing today. Then I think what I would say if Steven or Alex or (insert your confidant here) said "What did you write today?" and I panic. Although no one usually asks that, I still feel like I need to accomplish my goal because someone other than me knows about it.
Think sdrawkcab (backwards!) Where do you want to end up, 60,000 words? 750 words? Start on the date you want it finished and work back to today when planning.
Most of all be reasonable and appropriate in your goal setting.

5. write now, right now and edit later
I have this problem where I see typos sticking off of a page like they were highlighted and underlined. (Now don't go scouring my pages for a typo- I am sure there are SEVERAL as I am not perfect.) When I am writing however, I get caught up in these details. I will work on a sentence for half an hour because it just doesn't "sound right". Instead I could have written 10 more in that same time. I also notice that the same sentence I worked so hard on will usually be the one I "chop" the next day. Hammer out your rough draft (that is after all why it is called a "rough" draft and not a "smooth" one) and edit later. Get your writing on the page and fill in the colorful and vibrant vocabulary and those clever transitions after. A good way to practice this skill is to not read your writing the next day. I sometimes only read the very last sentence. Your memory should fill in the rest of it (especially since you wrote it YESTERDAY, right!?!?). This way you are not tempted to change your character's name, or change her shirt to a blue one in that particular scene, etc.
This is hard to do for me, but I know it will be better in the long run.

6. outline
This is something I have tried and tried and tried again. For some reason, I am not a very good organizer of ideas. (I am not a very good organizer of much of anything, really. My house is a testament to that!) BUT, that doesn't mean it is not effective! I think a lot, if not most, writers sit down and hash out an outline for their writing. I have seen multiple techniques, from notecards to post-it's. There are also numerous computer programs and various software to outline for you- you just have to fill in the fleshy meat of the skeleton they provide. I have recently been researching these programs to find one for me. Although Stephen King can do it, I think to successfully write a full novel, I need to figure out a way to outline. Here are some links to three of them- Dramatica Pro ,  Storybase 2.0 , New Novelist. I do not know much about any of these. Google "writing software" and research your own. There is a nice review of the "top ten" here- (I don't know whose top ten these actually are- but it does provide a nice chart for all of you visual people out there!)

7. research
Writing is a business, too. You might have the next best seller. Look at the millions of dollars that writers have made this year, think Stephenie Meyer or Jeff Kinney (just the two that came to my mind first). Do your research on the market. Pick up a copy of the 2010 Writer's Market here or here. There is SO much to learn. Take it from someone who occasionally feels overwhelmed by the amount of information she is receiving! One of the best things you could do is talk to other writers. Best way to do this is to join groups such as SCBWI, and attend conferences or critiques. Writing doesn't have to be a solitary act. I have wanted to be a writer since I was a small child. When I was little, I remember imagining my life as a writer. I wanted to live in upstate New York in a small cottage. I thought that all writers were anti-social and secluded themselves in old houses surrounded by antiques and shelves and shelves of dusty books. As I got older, my vision of a "writer" did change- but not by much. When I married my husband and started having children, I honestly believed there was NO way I could be a writer now.  But, here I am- still married, still a mommy, and I am pursuing my dreams.

8. write and write some more
I can not stress that one enough. Not much to fill this bullet in as it is pretty self explanatory.

 You might be wondering what gives me the credentials to relay all of this information to you. Honestly, I can say- not much. I do not have a best seller. I do not even have a good seller. I can say, sadly, that I do not even have a seller. But I can tell you that I love what I do. I love the satisfaction of having MY words on a blank page. (Even more satisfying is
seeing the little scroll bar next to your page because you have filled up enough to require scrolling.) About even with writing itself, is the love of teaching. If I can inspire just ONE person to do something wonderful then it is all worthwhile.
I do want to point out that really NONE of these ideas are truly "original". (Of course, who really has an original idea anymore?!?) You can simply google "writing tips" or "how to write" and probably find 20 posts just like mine. Do it! Learn all you can about writing and then go get that book published- I am waiting anxiously to read it!

Now, what are you waiting for?!?? GO WRITE!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Mailing it off...

My hands are shaking. My palms are sweating. My heart is racing to a furious beat. I walk to the mailbox for the third time today. I place the envelope in and then quickly snatch it back out. The moves are almost a rhythmic dance now, a tango between my head and heart.

I run back to the computer and open the word processing program. The mouse moves automatically as if it has been on the same path a million times. I open the folder labeled "FINAL DRAFTS".
Is it good enough?
Can I do better?
What was I thinking with that MC's name? This one is better!
Oh, should there be a comma there?
What about that title?!?!
No, MC fit better in the other name.

Ugh. I am so not ready.

When is enough enough?

How do you know it is IT?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Do You Qualify For the Writer Mama Scholarship? Deadline is Midnight, Monday, April 26th

Do You Qualify For the Writer Mama Scholarship? Deadline is Midnight, Monday, April 26th

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