Saturday, January 30, 2010
That sometimes when I'm angry
I have the right to be angry,
But that doesn't give me the right to be cruel.
That maturity has more to do with what types of experiences you've had
And what you've learned from them
and less to do with how many birthdays you've celebrated.
That it isn't always enough,
to be forgiven by others.
Sometimes, you have to learn to forgive yourself.
That no matter how bad your heart is broken
the world doesn't stop for your grief.
That our background and circumstances
may have influenced who we are,
but we are responsible for who we become.
That you shouldn't be so eager to find out a secret.
It could change your life Forever.
Two people can look at the exact same thing
and see something totally different.
That your life can be changed in a matter of hours
by people who don't even know you.
That even when you think you have no more to give,
When a friend cries out to you,
you will find the strength to help.
That credentials on the wall
do not make you a decent human being.
That the people you care about most in life
are taken from you too soon.
That the happiest of people don't necessarily
have the best of everything;
They just make the most of everything they have.
Again, feel free to add to this list.
Friday, January 29, 2010
My sister sent me this in an e-mail yesterday. It is too beautiful not to share, but it is too long to share in one post. I will post half of it today and the rest on Saturday. Enjoy!
That just because two people argue,
It doesn't mean they don't love each other.
And just because they don't argue,
It doesn't mean they do love each other.
That we don't have to change friends if
We understand that friends change.
That no matter how good a friend is
they're going to hurt you every once in a while,
and you must forgive them for that.
That true friendship continues to grow,
even over the longest distance.
Same goes for true love.
That you can do something in an instant
That will give you heartache for life.
That it's taking me a long time
To become the person I want to be.
That you should always leave loved ones
with loving words.
It may be the last time you see them.
That you can keep going, long after you think you can't.
That we are responsible for what we do,
no matter how we feel.
That either you control your attitude or it controls you.
That heroes are the people who do what has to be done
when it needs to be done,
regardless of the consequences.
That my best friend and I can do anything or nothing
and have the best time.
That sometimes the people you expect to kick you when you're down
will be the ones to help you get back up.
I invite you to add some of your own wisdom to this list.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Think of and look at your work as though it were done by your enemy. If you look at it to admire it you are lost...If we look at it to see where it is wrong, we shall see this and make it righter. If we look at it to see where it is right, we shall see this and shall not make it righter. We cannot see it both wrong and right at the same time.In yesterday's post I addressed the writing insecurities we all feel at one time or another. Clearly, we all have them. Some of us are better at dealing with those feelings than others, but we've all experienced them.
~ Samuel Butler
Are we being unfair to ourselves when we worry a lot about mistakes or foggy sections? No. We're 100% in the right! Marianne Moore said, "A writer is unfair to himself when he is unable to be hard on himself." I don't know about you, but each time I read that, I find myself going whew! inside. It gives me permission to worry. It somehow blesses the repetitive cycle of revising and revising and revising.
Today, I give you free reign to be a little hard on yourself. In fact, I wish you joy as you bang your head against the wall. Mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Do you ever feel like this? I think no matter how comfortable we are with what we've written, there is always that moment before someone else reads it when we feel compelled to justify, to excuse, to protect ourselves from harm.
I had a conversation similar to this with my composition class yesterday. Writing is meant to be a personal process. It comes from somewhere within our deepest selves, so we feel a need to protect and defend - ourselves even more than our words. All writing is a risk. Writers willingly balance on the most fragile limbs of the tree, waiting to fall or be lifted to more solid footing. Scary stuff sometimes. Worth it? Absolutely.
Do you ever find yourself on auto-pilot, justifying or defending your work to protect the writer inside you?
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
We all have our favorite reading spot: a favorite chair, a hot bubble bath, curled up on the bed, in a lounge chair outside...
Monday, January 25, 2010
Getting Past the Gatekeeper is hosted by an unknown literary agent and is full of the good, bad, and ugly on all things industry related: the do's and don'ts of querying, self-publishing, social networking, publicizing/marketing your book, E-Readers... the works. She (at least I think it's a she) answers reader questions and is absolutely hilarious most of the time. I never get tired of it.
It's a truckload full of good info! Check it out. Leave some comments (There are never as many comments given as the posts deserve!)
Do you have any other favorite industry-related blogs to add?
Friday, January 22, 2010
Yesterday Nisa asked me if there would be a Part II to my "symptoms and prescriptions" for revision. She asked for some tips to make revision FUN. Whoa, the pressure... Well, I gave it some thought, did some searching, and here are my favorite suggestions. Nisa, this one's for you!
- Treat the revision process as an adventure. Allow yourself to have bad days (what heroes don't?), and let yourself experiment and fail and try again. Everything you do or try has value. You never know where those "aha!" moments will come from.
- To help you see your writing differently, change the font, change the font size, change the color, and/or the s p a c i n g. You can play with font as often as you like, because it's so easy to change it back.
- Create a cover for your manuscript (something Bethany does very well, so she's a great resource for this) and then write a back cover critic's review for it. Feel free to gush about your book - no one needs to see it but you. The point: give yourself something positive to look at when you're feeling frustrated.
- Move around. Don't limit yourself to the same working space day after day after day. You don't want your revision efforts to feel like solitary confinement. Sit in your favorite chair, go to your favorite coffee shop or local hang-out, work in the tub with some bubbles and soft music... whatever is relaxing or different.
- Create colorful posters for your collections: pictures to represent characters or trigger memories, sticky notes and diagrams, plot outlines... feel free to decorate the entire room. Turn your revision space into a revision factory!
- Make yourself a revision "survival kit". Include things like colored pens and highlighters, colored sticky notes in various sizes, your favorite beverages and treats, maybe some music or hand lotion. Again, be creative!
- Assign yourself a few specific tasks each time you revise. Don't try to tackle everything every time. Why set yourself up for a headache?
- If you are banging your head against the wall, unable to think clear thoughts, TAKE A BREAK. Walk away, eat chocolate, call a friend, read some blogs, whatever - but clear your mind. Set a timer so you don't stop for too long. Breakthroughs come when we least expect them.
- Save all revisions. If you feel like you're losing the energy in your story, your drafts are your safety net. Go back to the last draft that had energy, that excited you.
- Think positive! Revision will make your story stronger. YOU have the tools to make it better. Give yourself every motivation you need to dig in and do the work.
- Spoil yourself. Set small goals along the way and then spoil yourself rotten when you meet them.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
"I'm not alone when I'm writing - the language itself, like a kind of trampoline, is there helping me." ~ William Stafford
As we are all sometimes painfully aware, writing = revision. Today I thought I'd provide some revision, trouble-shooting symptoms and prescriptions, all taken (and slightly adapted) from Barry Lane's, After The End. (Enjoy his humorous Latin terms - they crack me up!)
1. Delusions of First-Draft Grandeur (Reluctant Revisititus - Latin)
Symptoms: Writer feels no need to revise any of his writing except to spell words correctly. Writer's eyes glaze over when the word revision is mentioned.
Prescription: Know that writing is revision; use leads and details to find new angles; explode moments. Understand that it may not be time to revise yet. Let it sit. Know that it doesn't have to be written over to be revised. Before any revisions are made, praise and enjoy what there is.
2. Dialogue-arhea (Looses-lipsus - Latin)
Symptoms: Writing suffers from an excess of flat dialogue that doesn't move the story along.
Prescription: Replace some dialogue with exposition and add snapshot-quality details to make real scenes.
3. Bouts of Vagueness
Symptom: Writing gets vague in places for no apparent reason.
Prescription: Determine if the vagueness is a result of missing details or an unsure purpose. Vagueness is often a necessary stage for writers who are exploring uncertain territory.
4. Uncut Words (Editophobia / Editomalaise - Latin)
Symptoms: Writer is afraid to edit her own work or is bored with editing.
Prescription: Find ways to make editing both routine and fun.
Other great revision tips from Barry (for yourself or when critiquing the work of others):
- Be more interested in what is NOT on the paper
- Never be afraid to be critical. Know when to be a tough editor and when to be a nurturing reader.
- Remember that too much unqualified praise can be as damaging to a writer as flat rejection.
- Never tell a writer a paper is done. Always point out more suggestions for revision.
What are some revision tips you can add?
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
I feel special. Special is good. Special should be shared so that others feel special. Isn't that what a blog circle is for - cheering, encouraging, commiserating, praying, celebrating, crying, and writing...TOGETHER.
Sing it with me:
Knowin' you can always count on me
That's what friends are for
In good times
And bad times
I'll be on your side forever more
That's what friends are for
The rules for this are a mystery. Apparently the only requirement is the sharing and passing of friendship. THAT I can do. There are so many I would love to give this award to, but I know it wouldn't mean as much if I just give it to everybody (even though I'd like to).
Sooooo, this time I will pass the award to five bloggers I have come to think of as true friends - as people I would love to have coffee with and chit-chat with on the phone everyday and shop with and...you know, girl stuff! (No offense, Simon. You know I love ya!) Princess, if this award had not come from you, you'd be on my list. You rock!
1. Roxane @ Peace Garden Mama - I feel like I've known you for years. I can't believe how strong a friendship can be despite the limits of online communication. You have become a very special and valued friend. Thank you.
2. My crit partners: Valerie @ Something to Write About & Bethany @ Aspirations Thanks, ladies. I think we make a good team.
3. Jennie Englund - You are such a sweet and loyal commenter on my blog. Thank you for always stopping by and smiling at me. I look forward to it more than you know.
4. Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse - Thanks, Angela, for being so encouraging and supportive. Your help with my manuscript and your invaluable blog posts keep me motivated and inspired.
5. Robyn Campbell @ Putting Pen to Paper - I appreciate your friendship and your daily support on my blog. Like Roxane, your comments lift me and cheer me. Thanks for being my friend.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
"Zest. Gusto. How rarely one hears these words used. How rarely do we see people living, or for that matter, creating by them. Yet if I were asked to name the most important items in a writer's make-up, the things that shape his material and rush him along the road to where he wants to go, I could only warn him to look to his zest, see to his gusto." ~ Ray Bradbury
As for the writers in our blogging circle, I don't think this is much of an issue. You guys are full of zest and gusto about your writing (most days!). But I do think there are many writers out there who forget they are supposed to enjoy the process, to be enthusiastic and proactive. There are days when writing becomes work, when it feels more like drudgery than fun. On those days, "look to your zest, see to your gusto."
I hope your day is filled with ZEST and GUSTO!
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Saturday, January 16, 2010
Friday, January 15, 2010
In After THE END, author Barry Lane suggests a strategy he calls "cavewriting" as a way to bring our characters to life. He reminds us that drawing pictures is an effective way to utilize a different part of our brains when we write and revise. Whether a great artist or a stick-figure doodler, getting images of characters, thoughts, emotions, questions down on paper is vital to seeing a story as more than words. Here are some suggested cavewriting ideas from After THE END:
- Cavewrite the big moment
- Cavewrite the end of the story
- Cavewrite the moral of the story
- Cavewrite the central question
- Cavewrite a snapshot of your MC
- Cavewrite an explodable moment (maybe include dialogue)
Thursday, January 14, 2010
In honor of Shannon M.'s poetry day, I promised to post a poem.
This is a shortened version of one of my favorites.
The skin we're in, it limits us
It keeps us bound to earth and dust
We can’t step out of bones and skin
To reach beyond the space we’re in
We’re meant to place our hope and trust
In One who loves each one of us
In prayers is where God wants to hear
Of all the things we need down here
Don’t be afraid to turn His way
And pray to God with love today
For peace, for health, for family
For courage, friends, or to be free
Send loving thoughts and pleas for help
To those too far to reach yourself
The skin we’re in can’t stretch as far
As God’s embrace, His loving arms
He reaches out to those in need
When prayers request He intercede
God hears us when we pray in faith
For help to guide the human race
We need to pray more often, though
So Grace and Truth can help us grow
Bow your heads and fold your hands
And pray to God, who understands
The skin we’re in may limit us
And keep us bound to earth and dust
But prayer is more than bones and skin
And reaches past the space we’re in
In God we place our faith and trust
That He may bless each one of us
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
I know, I know... it's been done before. I'm behind the times, I admit it. But remember, I still haven't read Twilight, so my delayed response here should surprise no one.
I know many of you have purchased (or won, like Tamika!) Kindles or other e-readers. Are they wonderful? Are they disappointing? Should I beg for one for my birthday?
Okay e-reader owners, I need your help. Is it worth campaigning for, or am I better off without a $250 book toy?
Question of the day: Kindle or paperback?
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
VR Barkowski is a super-sweetheart, and she gifted me with this deliciously happy award. The rules are simple: Share ten things that make you happy, and pass along to ten blogs that make you happy. It's all about happiness!
10 Things That Make Me Happy
1. my kids
9. quiet time
10. all of you!
10 Blogs That Make Me Happy - I chose 5 long-time faves and 5 more recent faves. Hopefully everyone will find a few new blogs to make you happy. (this was MUCH tougher, because there are so many)
1. Putting Pen to Paper
2. See Heather Write
3. Jennie Englund
5. Novels During Naptime
6. Writing Roller Coasters
7. The Write Worship
8. Frankie Writes & Ramblings of a Wanna Be Scribe (I count Frankie and Shannon as one because their blogs are practically inseparable these days! Ha ha)
9. Lisa and Laura Write
10. Southern Princess
Each of these blogs is a happy place for me. I enjoy their blog posts, and I enjoy the comments they leave for me here at Book Dreaming. Go visit them and enjoy!
Monday, January 11, 2010
Thursday, January 7, 2010
"Hold fast to dreams
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly."
~ Langston Hughes
While blog-hopping yesterday, I noticed there were more posts than usual about feelings of frustration, disappointment, and uncertainty. No, no, no, no, no. We all have those feelings, probably more often than we like to admit (me included), but I can never leave it at that. Thanks to Roni's post about personality types yesterday, I now understand why. I have a protector/guardian personality, driven to be everyone's personal cheer princess! So here's a bit of cheer.
The Will to Win
If you want a thing bad enough
To go out and fight for it,
Work day and night for it,
Give up your time and your peace and your sleep for it
If only desire of it
Makes you quite mad enough
Never to tire of it,
Makes you hold all other things tawdry
and cheap for it
If life seems all empty and useless without it
And all that you scheme and you dream is about it,
If gladly you'll sweat for it,
Fret for it, Plan for it,
Lose all your terror of God or man for it,
If you'll simply go after that thing that you want
With all your capacity,
Strength and sagacity,
Faith, hope and confidence, stern pertinacity,
If neither cold poverty, famished and gaunt,
Nor sickness nor pain
Of body or brain
Can turn you away from the thing that you want,
If dogged and grim you besiege and beset it,
You'll get it!
I challenge you to think positive thoughts only today - to hold so tightly to your dreams that your hands cramp and your knuckles turn white.
What helps you maintain a winning attitude?
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Her question was an easy one for me to answer, but only because of the recent critique I received from Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse, who opened my eyes and changed how I write. My answer to Stephanie? Here is my response, copied from her comments page.
With the help of a wonderful critique I won recently, I've realized that I *hangs head shamefully* am an adverbaholic. Yes, it's true. I tend to overindulge in the tempting cop-out of adverbs, causing me to tell more than I should and show less than I must. So sad. I have checked myself into treatment with my first critique group (thank you, Valerie and Bethany) and am hoping for a full recovery.I tried to address it with humor, but it's not funny at all. I am not alone, though, which makes me feel a little better. William Zinsser, in On Writing Well, says:
The secret of good writing is to strip every sentence to its cleanest components. Every word that serves no function, every long word that could be a short word, every adverb which carries the same meaning that is already in the verb, every passive construction that leaves the reader unsure of who is doing what - these are the thousand and one adulterants that weaken the strength of a sentence.His answer? Simplify, simplify. I have returned to Zinsser to improve my chances for a full adverbaholic recovery (and other issues found above), but I have learned that we don't see things in our own writing that we could point out in only a heartbeat in someone else's. My answer, then, is to enlist the eyes of others (like Valerie and bethany!).
I know that most of you have a critique group or partners already, but if not, you are missing a valuable opportunity to become better at your craft. Check out yesterday's post at Chatterbox Chit Chat. Lynnette's post shares info about Writers on Writing, a networking opportunity designed to support writer's on their journey.
How do you tackle your biggest writing issues?
Sorry: longer than normal post
Pope asserts that the best writing is accomplished when we are able to echo our content's meaning in the sound and quality of our words.
For example, if our MC is struggling with a mighty task, the reading should require more effort as well:
"But when loud surges lash the sounding shore,Pay attention to the effort required by your mouth and tongue to speak those lines. Try to say them quickly, without dropping any letter sounds. They MUST be read slowly. His letter and syllable combinations require more effort, resulting in slower pronunciation.
The hoarse, rough verse should like the torrent roar."OR"When Ajax strives some rock's vast weight to throw,
The line too labors, and the words move slow;"
But if things are moving along smoothly and life is wonderful, Pope says our writing fluency should also flow smoothly and easily:
"Soft is the strain, when Zephyr gently blows,Now pay attention to the effort required to speak those lines. Try to say them quickly. No problem, right? Genius!
And the smooth stream in smoother numbers flows;"
"Not so, when swift Camilla scours the plain,
Flies o'er the unbending corn and skims along the main.
What impresses me most about Pope's message is not the value of his lesson (which I find priceless). I am most impressed by the way he manages to not only teach us what we should do, but also show us what he means, simultaneously. It blows. my. mind.
To actually apply the skills Pope shows us is far easier said than done. Specificity of word choice and a deliberate awareness of rhythmic fluency are required. Both take time and practice. The payoff in our craft, however, could not be measured.
A modern example can be found in the first few pages of What Jamie Saw, by Carolyn Coman. She uses fluency and words to create a powerful feeling of anxiety in the reader, one so strong we can't help but turn the page. William Steig does it in his picture book Shrek, to both advance and slow the reader. I've discovered this technique in many books, and I am awed by it every time.
For your edification and reading pleasure, here is the complete poem:
True ease in writing comes from art, not chance,
As those move easiest who have learned to dance.
'Tis not enough no harshness gives offense,
The sound must seem an echo to the sense:
Soft is the strain when Zephyr gently blows,
And the smooth stream in smoother numbers flows;
But when loud surges lash the sounding shore,
The hoarse, rough verse should like the torrent roar;
When Ajax strives some rock's vast weight to throw,
The line too labors, and the words move slow;
Not so, when swift Camilla scours the plain,
Flies o'er the unbending corn, and skims along the main.
Hear how Timotheus' varied lays surprise,
And bid alternate passions fall and rise!
What do you think? Can you think of any examples when you may have seen this technique?
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.
Isn't this quote perfect? It is one of my favorites. It makes me think of Wordsworth and the poem I shared with you not long ago.
We are always living, learning, observing, remembering, feeling things - every moment, awake or asleep. Think about it. Awake AND asleep, we are being filled. But with what? Humanity. Literature - all of it - is meant to teach us what it means to be human. Even most animal stories are told through human personification. We are being filled with the human condition, which for writers, is the very breath of our craft.
I love to remind myself periodically that everything - good, bad, or otherwise - is food for my imagination. Every experience, every snowfall, every kidism I laugh at, is breathing "life" into my stories. Yes, we sometimes make stuff up, but it all centers around a broader human message. I love that! Whatever you experience today, may it bring you ideas galore.
What are some tricks you use to let out the beautiful stuff life fills you with?
Monday, January 4, 2010
Suzette and Bethany's Wicked-Awesome-Prizes Contest is incredible! The 5 (yes, five) possible prizes are:
* 2 first five pages critiques
* 1 autographed copy of The dark Divine.
Next up is a contest over at Edge of Seventeen, where they are giving away TWO advanced reading copies of Gone by Lisa McMan.
It is super-easy to enter, and you don't want to miss out - run, don't walk.
These are the choices of books that you can choose from if YOU win:
City of Glass - Cassandra Clare
Blood Promise - Richelle Mead
Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins
Hunted - P.C. + Kristin Cast
Hush, Hush - Becca Fitzpatrick
Evermore - Alyson Noel
Blue Moon - Alyson Noel
Stargazer - Claudia Gray
Eternal - Cynthia Leitich Smith
Go. Now. Enter!
Sunday, January 3, 2010
And the Winners are...
I used the Class Tools "Random Name Picker" to select the winners of my 100 followers celebration contest. I wasn't clever enough to figure out how to copy the image with the winner's name like Sherrie did, so you'll just have to trust me.
Thank you to everyone who participated in my first blog contest. I had fun, and I hope you did too.
Without further delay (because I know you've all scanned down to see who the winners are already), the winners are: