Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Dust dogs and Dirty Dishes: A Writer's Life

I've been on a roll lately with KM, so much so that signs that I've been working in the zone for hours at a time are now cropping up around the house. For instance, I'm way behind on laundry, which means my kids must now resort to digging through the sock basket to find a clean pair. The dishes have piled up to the point where I need to do another load (or two) before we're caught up. And the dust bunnies in the house are now dust dogs.

*Smiles as she returns to the KM.* Life is good.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Jewel at School Update

E's service dog Jewel is doing awesome at school, so good, in fact, that at a recent IEP meeting (in which the team met to discuss assessments needed prior to E's move to high school next year) a school rep made a comment I had to share.

"Mrs. W.," Mr. School Rep said. "I just wanted to say, Jewel is working out great. It's like she isn't even there."

Remembering the position school administrators had taken on Jewel last summer, it took all of my will power not to say: "We told you so." Instead I smiled and nodded, and said something civilized and professional like: "Glad to hear it."

Click here for a look at some of the other teams E and Jewel train with each Monday night.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

What Inpires Your Muse?

Mine continues to be intrigued by my progress along the road to Rivendell as outlined in the Eowyn Challenge. Yesterday, based on the mileage chart, I reached the point on the road where the hobbits encountered the Black Rider for the first time. *Shudders*

Attention Vampire Lovers! Any Edward Fans Out There?

At one point during the writer's workshop we conducted yesterday, a couple of the teens talked about how much they loved Stephenie Meyer's books Twilight and New Moon. Then to my delight, one of them shared a link I didn't know existed. For anyone hooked on Meyer's series, check out this link from the next book in the series. The entry discusses how the book emerged about a character development exercise. Toward the end of the discussion you'll find a rough exerpt from the new book, Midnight Sun.

Encouraging to learn that I'm not the only writer whose characters interupt her in the middle of the night.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

10th Carnival of Children's Literature

Kelly Herold of Big A little a hosts the 10th Carnival of Children's Literature. See her January 20th posting for links to recent musings from the kidlitosphere, including a posting by yours truly about writers and depression.

Crit Group Musings, Part Two

Crit group. I can't imagine muscling my way through last year without it. J, A and I formed our little group in late fall of 2005. Our love of fantasy and the need to work on novel-length pieces brought us together.

Early on we moved from once-a-month meetings to twice monthly, making pledges to stay focused and productive. The built-in deadlines saved me. So did our biweekly face times. Without them, I wouldn't have produced the work I did. The challenges of E's neurosurgery, recovery, and subsequent illnesses would have dragged me under. I'm certain of it.

So, where am I headed with this particular posting? I suppose a big thank you is in the Powers that Be who brought our group the amazing synergy our group has J and A for keeping me honest...and to my Vermont College advisors, Ellen Levine, Sharon Darrow, Jane Resh Thomas, and Tim Wynne-Jones for teaching me to trust the process.

Writer's Rant and Crit Group Musings, Part One

Crit group went by yesterday without a call from E's school. I didn't realize I'd been waiting for one until after we wrapped up. Odd that I live my life this way, expecting to be interrupted. It's not a glass-half-empty outlook on life, it's reality with a special needs child prone to illness. No wonder my inner critic escapes its cage so easily.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Writerly To-Do List for the Week

1. Sub to crit group in time for tomorrow's meeting. Completed.

2. Prep for Friday's writing class for aspiring teen authors, the first in a winter series I'm co-teaching with JK and CB. In progress.

Books on my side table to aid in my prep:

What's Your Story? A Young Person's Guide to Writing Fiction by Marion Dane Bauer (this book also happens to be an excellent guide for adults as well)
Our Stories, A Fiction Workshop for Young Authors by Marion Dane Bauer
Writer's Express: A Handbook for Young Writers, Thinkers, and Learners by Dave Kemper, Ruth Nathan and Patrick Sebranek
Write Idea! a language arts textbook by MacMillan McGraw-Hill

3. Finish current read: The Fairy Rebel by Lynne Reid Banks, author of Indian in the Cupboard. Two-thirds of the way there.

4. Post to Kat's Eye -- Completed as soon as I push send.

5. Finish chapter-in-progress for my umptityupmth revision to KM -- targeting end of the week.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Geeky, but Fun - New Year's Writer Resolutions, Part I

Okay, so one of my New Year's Writer Resolutions is way geeky, but I'm finding myself strangely invigorated by it. Here's what I'm doing and why:

During my Vermont College days I discovered that I'm much more focused and productive on days I exercise before sitting butt in chair for the hard work of writing. So, this year I've resolved to exercise more in hopes I will write like the wind afterward, and end up with prose I'm proud of at the end of the day.

The resolution looks good on paper, doesn't it? But here's the tricky part. Experts say committing to a general goal like "I will write the Great American Novel this year" will only get you so far before you lose momentum. To achieve your goals, they say, you need an action plan, loaded with specific, achievable mini goals that will move you forward toward your big G goal.

One of my mini goals is especially geeky, but great fun for this fantasy writer. Thanks to this post by writer friend Peg Kerr, I've joined the Eowyn Challenge. I can't even begin to guess how long I'll take to walk to Mount Doom and back again, but the idea of strolling through Middle Earth as I do so is much more energizing than telling myself it'll be good for me. My short term goal for the challenge: walking from Hobbiton to Rivendell, 458 miles.

Eowyn report: I started my journey yesterday, so I'm only as far as the border of Tookland. But, hey, the day's still young.

Appetite for writing: Ravenous for second breakfast and KM.

Current read: Fairest by Gail Carson Levine.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Explore the Forest

The new Edge of the Forest children's literature monthly is ready to explore. Surf on by for articles, interviews, and reviews on all things kid lit!

My contribution this month includes a Day in the Life with inspirational multicultural author Rene Colato Lainez.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Friday Writer's Dance

Doing a Friday dance. E's on the mend. I am, too. Slowly digging out of the piles that accumulated while sick. Edge of the Forest subs. Lots of chatter on writer's and book review lists. Tons of email. Too much of it junk. Crits. Lots of crits. These get priority. Looking forward to reading everyone's subs, and having the focusing power to do so. One of the best-kept secrets about saying yes to critting someone else's manuscript: inevitably, I learn something because of it...a zippier way to use dialogue, a more economical, yet elegant way to connote setting, a unique way to use point of view...which means my writing's better because of it. Not sure how much creative I'll get to before the end of the day. Half day of school today. Pick-up's in five minutes. More later.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

It Must Be New Year (Someone's Sick in Our House)

I've finally realized a Truth about our family. It's not the New Year unless someone's sick in our house. E's sick. I'm sick. In between the hacking, coughing, breathing treatments, and round-the-clock meds, getting anything done creative-wise has been problematic.

Which means I've done squat for crit group.

Which means I have nothing to submit.

Which really doesn't matter because with E sick I'm not going anywhere tomorrow.

Which is a major bummer because I really need the company of writers.

The company of writers. Reminds me that today's the second day of winter residency at Vermont College. Imagine 11 kid-free days, soaking in anything and everything about kid lit, debating the merits of Harry Potter with classmates who refuse to give it the respect it deserves, and playing telephone pictionary into the wee hours of the night. I wish I were there. I'm not missing the pork or seitan or the way my glasses frosted over during the walk to the dining hall from the dorms, but I am missing the company. Probably doesn't help that every time E's actively sick for more than a couple of days, I catch myself going into bunker mode, the same dig-in-hunker-down mentality I ended up in during her aneurysm rupture and recovery.

My inner critic thrives during situations like this. My muse? Not so much. All I can say is thank goodness today's sunny.

Coming soon: Writer's resolutions (as soon as I'm able to think straight.)

Friday, January 05, 2007

The Year of the Writer: A Look Back Before I Look Forward

All in all 2006 was a good year. I bless God and the Powers that Be that somehow, despite the need for P and I to shepherd our middle daughter through neurosurgery, our youngest through her fears about her sister's health, and our oldest through the drama of college acceptances and surviving her first semester away from home, I managed to keep writing a priority long enough to:

*take an online YA writing class.
*make major breakthroughs on KM, enough that I can actually envision finishing it quicker than Tolkien's 15-year plan.
*draft a ghost story for consideration in an anthology.
*attend C's Fabulous Sooke Writer's Retreat in British Columbia.
*draft an essay for Special Gifts: Women Writers on the Happiness, the Heartache and the Hope of Raising a Special Needs Child (Wyatt-Mackenzie, 2007), and learn I will be published this year in the same.
*become a regular contributor to Edge of the Forest children's literature monthly.
*join its editorial board.
*slog through yet another draft of KM, thanks in large part to twice-monthly critique group meetings with J and A, fellow fantasy writers extraordinaire, who know how to listen and read, and, more importantly, know how to keep me honest.
*present two workshops about endowed objects, those ordinary objects in children's literature that rise up to do extraordinary things on the stage of a story.
*attend SCBWI-Illinois' Prairie Writer's Day, and provide PR support behind the scenes for the same.
*blog regularly.
*read, read and read some eclectic mix of YA, chicklit, chapter books, easy readers, picture books, bodice rippers, mysteries, and fantasy novels.
*ring out the old year feeling like a writer.

Most recent read: New Moon by Stephenie Meyer.

Current read: Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden.

Coming soon: One Writer's Resolutions

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Cybils Short List Announced

Nominations for the Cybils are in. Unfamiliar with the term? The Cybils are the first-ever awards for children's and young adult literature judged by bloggers who specialize in kid lit. The idea was born out of the need to reward books that were both popular and smart. See the media release on the awards here. See the short list of nominees here on the Cybils official site. Winners will be announced in February.

Awesome Reads for the New Year...How Many of the Books Listed Below Have You Read?

Looking for great books to recommend, give as gifts, and/or add to your own to-read list for 2007? If so, take a look at the list recommended recently by Cynthia Leitich Smith on her Cynsational site, Cynsations.