Optimism is NOT Arrogance

Arrogance is the belief that you are BETTER than others. Optimism is the belief that you have the same CHANCE as others. We all have the chance to achieve our dreams. Don't ever let anyone tell you differently.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Dropping a new writing prompt on ya

K, gotta get this manuscript done so I can get it back to Caitlin. And I'm miffed because it's still not there - there's a lot I didn't catch before that I should've.

Bad me! BAD!

Ok, so while I send myself into the writing time-out chair, here's something for you to ponder and write about:

It's six am. Downtown city streets are coming alive but still groggy. A man stands on the corner with unusually dark shades one, staring at an intersection.

He smiles, reaches into his pocket, and pulls out...


Saturday, April 23, 2011

And how would you describe the pain?

Woke up this morning and the muscles in my back had suddenly solidified like concrete. Every move I make tightens the vice grip around my spine, to the point where even breathing requires deep breathing.

But enough about me.

Describing pain is a key component to getting a reader absorbed into your story. Too much detail and you could gross them out entirely. Too little and they'll liable to think your hero's a wimp.

How do you describe the pain your characters going through? I don't mean emotional pain, I mean real, honest-to-goodness HOLY %*#@! THAT HURTS kind of pain.

This is also an area that's easy to fall back on cliche's for. "A knife in my side" for cramps. Your newly shot leg is "on fire". My head "was pounding like a bass drum". Like any good metaphore, the better ones are the surprises, appropriate but not like anything anyone's thought of before.

Like acid indigestion where it feels like you swallowed a nuclear reactor plant. Or how you'd like to run but it felt like ravenous dogs were using your ankle as a chew toy.

It's also a great way to make the situation lighter, or darker, depending on your writing.

Think about it - and while you're reading, pay attention to the words used to describe what the characters are feeling. It's pretty eye opening.

Just don't focus too hard, or you'll feel like your brain is a balloon that someone just stuck a pin in and popped.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Writing Prompts

I love 'em. Absolutely love 'em. I work best when someone drops an idea, a photo, anything. Just gets the creative juices flowing.


While I'm working on the book, and the Awesome, Amazing Super-Stupendous, SCBWI Eastern PA Critique Group Finder,

I'm gonna drop some writing prompts. Feel free to add comments or just take 'em and run, but I'd love to hear what you all come up with!

Today's prompt:

A man sits on the bus, reading a magazine called Hydrocarbon Processing. He's disheveled, nerdy, and also has a copy of Networking World. What secret is he hiding?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

It's been a whole week?

Ok, I'm slacking. Mailing it in. Coppin' out.

Well, I'm trying to get the revised version of The Timepiece Chronicles out to Caitlin again so we can press it on, AND I'm trying to code a Critique Group finder for the SCBWI Eastern PA website using Google Maps. Not as easy as I thought!

So my time has been pretty swamped, but I'm working hard, and that's all you can ask!

But I've been so busy I haven't been social networky (my new word) for a while. And really, part of me is thinking, "so what?" Well, it's a big deal if you want to be an author to reach as many people as you can, but really, to be an author you have to WRITE. And then, (as I've found out numerous times) RE-WRITE. That should always be your first focus.

Often times I'll be ready to tweet something or write something profound on Facebook, but I blank out. I have social network writer's block. Scary. I think it's just too much.

And thus I ask you to forgive me if I've been lax. I'll try to get better, but for now, I have to focus my optimism on my book and my critique finder for SCBWI - commitments and dreams that I have to be obsessive about, or else they'll never get done.

Peace out everyone, and WRITE ON!

Monday, April 11, 2011

What a weekend!

First off - SUCCESS!! The editor agreed to re-read the manuscript after I made the changes to clear up the narrative. Also, she (as well as others) agreed that the dual first narrative shouldn't be a problem, as long as the transition made sense and didn't interrupt a scene. So I have to do that. Plus I learned so much that I'm able to add to the story (more on that later this week).

I had a blast telling my story over and over again, getting people as excited about it as I was. Two more editors are willing to take a look so I'm asking Caitlin to submit to them too, I just sent her a note. I'll let you know what she says.

These conferences are a blast. If you're not a member of your local SCWBI chapter, join up! It's a great way to network and learn from published authors who have a ton of experience.

I'll go over a full run-down throughout the week. To all my new friends from SCWBI, great seeing you again and hope we stay in touch!

Write on baby!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Being Rejected - And Meeting the Culprit

When one gets a rejection letter, one can handle the rejection many different ways. I prefer to handle it this way:

Now. What do you do if you're going to a conference and the editor who rejected you is going to be there?

Be classy!

Yes, this Friday I'll be at the SCWBI conference in the Poconos, and so will one of the editors who rejected me. Here's what the editor said:

"...I think the idea and story and voice are all fun here, but to be honest, the back and forth of the two characters with one intruding on the other was jarring for me, personally. I had trouble getting fully immersed in the story when there was that ongoing voice shift.

I’m sure that’s a really subjective concern and some people might actually love it! But I’m afraid it means I’m not the right editor here."

So. Do I go and scream at her? No. Pout? No. I thank her! Heartfully! For the great feedback. And then, I pitch her the changes I'm making based on her recommendation. Hopefully she'll want to see the revision! Or maybe not. Regardless, it's a great opportunity to follow up in person with a professional who's read my manuscript.

I'm optimistic though. She sounds great, and excited about the story - so who knows?

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Inner and Outer Conflicts

Leave it to my 13 year-old to critique my middle grade fiction book better than any of my adult friends.  We were comparing The Timepiece Chronicles with the Percy Jackson series, and he pointed out that Percy Jackson had two conflicts:  his drive to find his mother, and the need to save the world.  This is the core of an inner/outer conflict.

You'll see it all around, in every story:  In Star Wars, Luke's inner conflict is to prove himself more than a farm boy, more than a nobody.  He wants to be a Jedi, like his father.  His outer conflict, the one that drives the entire story and everyone else in it, is, of course, the empire against the rebels.

I think my main character's inner conflict is too buried.  We know the outer conflict because the world is going to end thanks to Professor Ferguson changing history, but the inner conflict (Jeff trying to go on without his dad) is a little ambiguous and unreachable.  So I gotta work on that.

The example above is what makes the ending of Star Wars one of the best endings in film history:  it ties BOTH inner and outer conflicts together and brings them to resolution (albeit temporary).  Luke saves the day as a REAL Jedi, and the Empire is stopped.

I have to look at mine again and see how I beef up the inner conflict.

But I'm optimistic I can do it!

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