Category Archives: From the Write Angle

Confession Time: Rebuilding My Brand

I hate to publicly admit my failures, but I’m going to do just that, right here for all the world to read.

When I started Words from the Woods, it was my private space. A place where I could go as a wanna be writer to connect with other wanna be writers ina way that didn’t intersect with my real life. And I did.

But slowly, more and more of me came out in my posts, and readers began telling me, “I read your blog to keep up with your family.” Or, “I love your insights into kids and relationships.” Over time, I’ve found myself catering to two vastly different readerships:

  1. Those seeking posts on my quirky take on family dynamics, marriage, child-rearing and my unique soap box issues. Sure they enjoy the bits about the books I read, and more than a handful like to keep tabs on my writing. But, and here’s my public failure announcement, I didn’t start blogging with you in mind.
  2. The people I initially blogged for were those seeking writing tips. Guess what? There are a thousand and one aspiring writer blogs (times infinity). In fact, I blog at a collective with that as the sole purpose. I’m also very active at AgentQuery Connect where, as a moderator, I provide real-time tips to writers nearly every day. Seems a little redundant, actually, to expend the energy regurgitating the information here. Which is likely why I haven’t been blogging as much recently. (Public failure announcement number two.)

All this got me thinking that it’s time I repurpose my blog. My future audience of book buyers is not writers themselves. Well, actually some are, but, as a whole, my future audience is parents. Parents and grandparents, or aunts and uncles, or godmothers and godfathers or teachers and librarians who are looking for WHY my books should be on their shelves. Not writers. Not unless you also have a child or twenty in your life that you wish to purchase books for.

I also happen to like talking about the things near and dear to my heart, like child-rearing, education, literacy, marriage, bullying and friendship. I’m a speech coach, a mother, a volunteer, a wife and a writer. I advocate for at-risk kids (the traditional kinds and the kinds we seldom consider) and do freelance writing on the side. Someday I want to have my books published and in the hands of the children you love. It is my ultimate goal.

But in the meantime, these other passions are also a part of who I am, and they impact why I write the things I do. These are the focus of my new journey in blogging.

Over the next week or so, you’ll see some changes to my blog as I begin rebuilding my brand. Not as a whimsical walk with an aspiring writer, but more so as a whimsical walk through the life of a parent writer.

I hope you stick around to see where this takes me. Personally, I’m both thrilled and terrified!

If there’s anything you personally would like to see me do more of (or not at all) let me know. Thanks for your support up ’til now and hopefully through this and beyond.

Hugs~

PS. I’ll completely understand if I some of you abandon this new brand. Just know you can always follow my writing words of wisdom at From The Write Angle or on AgentQuery Connect.

Dressing Up Your Manuscript for Prom

I have one princess readying herself for prom.  Eldest has gone through it twice, but being a boy, he’s pretty low-key.  Dear Daughter is a whole ‘nother experience.  She needs make up and hair pins and shoes and alterations for her skinny little butt and shiny bling and sparkles and pretties and paint and…

Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun.  But it’s also a lot of hard work.  Colors must coordinate and styles must flow seamlessly from the tip of her top knot to her perfectly manicured toes.

Too much of anything is gaudy.  Too different is chaotic.  Less is definitely more.

In many ways, preparing a manuscript for submission is the same.  Less is more.

If you’re new to the writing gig, check out my list of references for a few books that can help accessorize your manuscript for your target agent/editor/audience.

For amazing websites or blogs on the business, please take a peek at my sidebar.  My favorite go-to places are yours for the asking.

What are some of your favorite writing resources?  What is your writing bible?  What blog do you turn to for all the answers?

Curious minds want to know.

 

 

Welcome to My Writing World: Piglandia

As some of you know, I’m a closet pig.  Sadly, this has oozed into my weekend and I’m now living in Piglandia.

Last week, my speech team prepared for sub-sections in a marathon of late night practices.  Adding to the mix were final preps for the Children’s Theatre of which I had two boys in, taxied a third to and fundraised for.  (And yes, I am fully aware that every one of those phrases ended with a preposition.  Sorry Mrs. Kirkeby.)  Throw in a baseball sign up night and an absent DH for a few days and you can see where this is heading…

Somehow, I managed to keep things relatively ordered–until the curtain opened on Friday night.  When the final act closed on Sunday afternoon, I felt like I had been home a total of five hours all weekend.

My house might disagree.  After all, how could I have left seven pairs of shoes on the floor in a mere five hours?  My speech bag is on the kitchen table, my sweater from yesterday is on the counter and my purse is in the bathroom.  I have several sets of keys strewn around the house, and I had to call my cell phone to find it amidst the rubble that has become Piglandia.

My writing life has moments of Piglandia as well.  For instance, I just finished my third beta read in as many weeks and have another downloaded on my Kindle.  I have a freelance project to wrap up, a speech to write for tonight, and, and, and.

My brain is bursting with plot bunnies (it must be spring) and I have my own manuscripts to scour for content and copy.  I’m a writing mess right now.

But, I’ve learned a thing or two about living in Piglandia–both in writing and in life.

I corral my plot bunnies (as found at From the Write Angle), I organize my keys projects in order of importance and stuff my shoes back into the closet where they belong.

When my world appears uncluttered on the surface, I gain a deeper level of calmness.  I don’t fret about messy closets and figure if someone peeks inside them, it’s their problem not mine.  After all, I know what each closet holds even if it looks more chaotic than a dozen clowns piling out of a VW Bug.  I even know where in the Bug individual clowns closet individual items might be.

It’s just a matter of getting them there in the first place.  Like I said, my house–and my writing world–is usually quite clean.  Just every once in a while, things pile up and I need a moment to declutter Piglandia and regain my balance.

How about you, dear writers?  What do you do when things pile up and threaten to overtake you?  Do you have calming chaos like me and my closets?  If so, what is your vice?  Or, is your home/writing life spit-shined to perfection in every nook and cranny?  If so, how in the heck do you do it?

Curious minds want to know.

(Un)Healthy Writing 3: Codependency

Co-dependent relationships aid and abet bad habits.  For the third installment of this series, please hop on over to From the Write Angle to determine if your writing relationships are healthy…or not.

For something a little lighter, whip up a simple, yet delicious, dessert for dinner tonight.

INGREDIENTS

  • Cool whip
  • Yogurt–flavored to match type of fruit
  • Fresh Fruit such as peaches, strawberries, mandarin oranges, raspberries, blue berries or blackberries
  • Mini Pie Crusts (optional)
  • Whipped Cream (optional)

DIRECTIONS

  • Slice or dice fresh fruit as needed.
  •  Fold together fruit and equal quantities of yogurt and cool whip.
  • Chill for 1-4 hours…if you can wait.  If not, feel free to eat it now.
  • Before serving, spoon filling into pie crusts (or bowls or one large crust or scoop it out of the tub with your fingers).
  • Top with whipped cream and a berry or two for garnish.

This is Middle’s favorite dessert.  He makes it for all of our large family gatherings and special dinners.  It is so refreshing, your significant other won’t even notice that you forgot to take the load out of the washer and your clothes now smell like Aunt Edna’s attic.

Enjoy~

School Presentations: Best. Rush. Ever!

I just got home from speaking to a fourth grade class about writing.

Nothing beats it.  Inquisitive faces staring back at you: wide-eyed, cringing, grinning, laughing all by the power of your words.

Thanks, Mrs. S, for the great opportunity!

If you’d like to know more about school presentations, please join me next Wednesday over at From the Write Angle.

 

Online News from My Writerly Muse

I’ve got some great things going on despite the date and the fact that I’ve spilled every single plate/cup/bowl/dog dish/etc…that I’ve picked up.  As a precaution, I shall steer clear of ladders, black cats and dastardly villains like Freddy and Jason for the rest of the day.

  • I’ve signed up on GoodReads.  If you’re a member, friend me and we can share our literary loves.  I know my bookshelf is empty (sidebar at left), but I told myself I wasn’t going to add books until I read them–after I joined.  That means all the great novels I’ve read in the past will remain off my shelves unless I read them again.  I do, however, have several great novels on my to be read shelf of soon-to-be debut authors.  It’s never too early to start thinking about future publications and even preordering them to show up on your doorstep upon their release.
  • I have three winners for my #WTGV (Want to Go Viral?) book give-away.  One lucky student (Lisa), parent  (Sharon) and professional (Angela) have received a free copy of this amazing book.  Thanks to all who helped spread the word regarding the best must-read book ever, Want to Go Private? by Sarah Darer Littman.  If you haven’t heard about it yet, click on my #WTGV tab at the top of my blog.  Even though we didn’t reach our million people mark by the end of December, I’d still like to give away one more copy of Want to Go Private?  Anybody who comments on my blog between Friday the 13th and Friday the 27th will be put in another drawing for a free copy.  Participants must reside in the US for shipping purposes.
  • Speaking of books: another writer friend and AQCer got a two book deal. He might sound familiar, as I’ve talked about R.K.Lewis before and provided links to his online articles over at Criminal Element.  Mister Lewis writes gritty noir with more voice than the pages can hold.  Congrats, Robert!
  • In contrast, Susan Keogh’s nautical fiction takes history to a whole ‘nother level.  Susan is a fellow crit partner, AQCer and a lyrical writer.  Her debut novel, The Prodigal, was recently picked up by Fireship Press.  So, if you haven’t been keeping track over the past months and are a writer, you might want to join AgentQuery Connect.  There’s a whole slew of good stuff going on over there: friendship, critique help, writerly support, agent offers and publishing deals.  Seriously, what are you waiting for?
  • And one last thing.  I blogged over at From the Write Angle today.  There I unveiled my Friday the 13th terrors in regards to being a writer.  But never fear, I did leave you with some tips and tricks to keep your body and mind sound during your writing journey.
  • Oh yeah, Dear Hubby and I are going out with some friends.  While sweating my way through my work out this morning, I got us a date.  Yay!  So, if ever you feel lonely, hit the health club.  You’re sure to run into like-minded peeps.  Even if your calendars don’t quite mix, those few moments of socialness are as uplifting as the 500 crunches I do each day.

How about you, dear readers?  How does your Friday the 13th go?  Is it filled with a bad case of the dropsies and unlucky ladders, or do you have some shining moments to pull you out of the doldrums?

Curious minds want to know.

2011 Recap from the Woods

This past year has been a bit of a challenge in terms of life choices.  I made some big ones, crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.

After meeting my amazing agent at a conference, I struggled with three major priorities: full-time mom, full-time preschool owner and full-time writer.  Throwing in my part-time freelance work as a writer and court advocate meant the day was about  twelve hours too short.  Not to mention that my efficiency level suffered in every area–including sleep.  Something had to give, so I sold my preschool.  Which, by the way, I miss more than words can say.

Despite the tough decisions, 2011 had many successes, some personal and some writerly.

  • My kids are much happier with me back at home and able to attend all their events/needs–or is it the taxi service they like so much?
  • DH enjoys eating again before midnight.  Okay, that’s only slightly exaggerated, but a healthy rebalance to say the least.
  • Two of my dear writer friends e-pubbed some amazing novels.  If you haven’t checked out Diary of a Small Fish by Pete Morin or Viridis (and its steamy sequel) by Calista Taylor, I’d recommend these for your newly unwrapped e-reader.
  • Another wonderful writer friend, Sophie Perinot, is awaiting the 2012 spring release of her historical novel The Sister Queens.  I’ve already preordered my copy, and  you can too.  Not to mention a fellow crit partner, and extremely poetic writer, also reeled in a contract for her historical fiction.  I wish Icould tell all, but I can’t spill the beans until she does.
  • Aaaand, in case you missed the buzz, Mindy McGinnis received a huge, two book contract for her YA, Not a Drop to Drink.  I’ve critiqued a few pieces by Mindy (aka BBC) and have to admit I’m thirsty for her debut.  I promise–promise–it will be a splash hit when it reaches the shelves.  This deal came shortly after Jessica Khoury’s news about selling her debut novel–another much-anticipated YA read for me.
  • I read–and conversed with–Sarah Darer Littman.  I must say the author of Want to Go Private? is as sweet as they come.  Her novel is a must read for every human walking this technologically unsafe Earth.  Seriously, if you love a kid, you have one last day to get your name in a drawing for a free copy of this amazing YAContest details found here.
  • In my personal writing news, I’m a site moderator over at AgentQuery Connect–the absolutely BEST writing community on the net–and a contributing member of From The Write Angle, a writing blog by writers of all levels for writers of all levels.  I also wrote my way to another NaNoWriMo victory and partook in the Epic Paranormal Romance Blogvel: The Skeleton Key.
  • Christmas came too fast.  With no snow on the ground and only a few flakes to our fall/winter season, it doesn’t quite feel like the end of the year.  In fact, Eldest golfed yesterday.  Not that I want a repeat of last year and the 27 snow days we had, but come on?  Where’s the white?
  • Oh yeah, and I have a short story coming out in an e-book anthology this spring (details to be announced later), so it’s just one more reason for you to buy a Kindle and enjoy the e-revolution.

All in all, 2011 has been good to me.

How about you?  What wonderful news do you have to share–writing or otherwise–that made 2011 worth every hour? 

P.S. In case you were wondering (and I know you were), Sock Dog came back from training as a full-fledged hunting dog.  She no longer runs the other way from birds and her nose is amazing.  So much so, that the trainer offered to buy her.  If she keeps chowing socks, I just might give him a call!

Mannequins at From the Right Angle

I’m blogging at From the Right Angle today.  If you’d like to see what a pair of nekkid mannequins can teach a writer, please visit me there!

Also, ignore the funky formatting on my blog.  I’m trying to.  Hopefully WordPress Techie can figure it out for me, as this is uber unatractive.

Essential Writing Tool: Totems

National Novel Writing Month is right around the corner.  Literally.  It’s just seven days north and one day east.  Because, of course, the sun rises in the east and next Tuesday morning will find me glassy-eyed, caffeine injected and doggedly working to get my first 1,667 words done on my newest WIP.

I’m as prepared as I usually am for this crazy writing endeavor.  I have a working title, but no genre.  I know I’ll be penning a young adult novel, but I have no clue what, exactly, it will be about.  I also have my totem.

My writing totems act as mascots.  For instance, in 2007, my NaNoTotem was an elephant.  I had never heard of totems before, and my writing buddies all seemed to have one.  Then one day while shopping, a teeny elephant called to me from the grocery store bin.  Ellie, named after the elephant in my novel, Surviving Serengeti, became my first writing cheerleader.

She hung out on my desk in 2008 while I wrote Losing Time, and I believed she would simply be my official writing totem forever and ever, amen.  Imagine my surprise when a tiny carved bear demanded to join Ellie in 2009 while I penned Whispering Minds.

I found him while visiting our National Monument on a research trip for my YA novel.  I knew I needed a solid Native American perspective and found a wonderful stone carver to share his thoughts with me.  While looking for a book to further my research, I saw this bear.  Not a big deal, except I couldn’t seem to leave without purchasing it.  In Indian culture, the bear represents introspection, something I didn’t realize until much later.  Yet, I couldn’t have deliberately bought a more perfect totem for my psychological thriller than him.

And then the plot bunnies came.  A stuffed marshmallow peep joined Ellie and my bear for NaNo10 when my young MC unwittingly unleashed plot bunnies into her very practical world.  Hopefully, The Mixed-up Manuscripts of Martin Niggle will become the first in a chapter book series.

Hopefully, I will win my cheesy NaNo11 certificate with Haarper.  Writing 50,000 cohesive words in thirty days seems like a stretch, but I thrive off the quick deadline.  It seems to boost my adrenaline and my muse.  Which is good, because as of today, I still know very little about this year’s novel.

A giant (in terms of relative size to the real thing) stuffed E.coli will join the ranks of my NaNoTotems.  He was a Christmas present from my little brother and sister last year.  He hung out on my windowsill as a reminder for my kids to wash their hands.  He’s cute in a creepy kind of way and somehow wheedled his way into my novel.

Thanks to my Big Sis for downloading Germs, Genes and Civilization onto our shared kindle account, I got snookered into reading the history of infectious disease and its impact on society.  Yeah, I know.  Not typical light reading, but a fascinating book and very well written.  I would actually recommend it for any historical fiction writer–whether they write about genes and germs or not.

All of a sudden, the germ of an idea hit and Haarper was born.  So was Coli.

Isn’t he cute?  Aren’t they all?

Do you think I’m weird for having an entire cheerleading section of random objects while I pen my novels?  If so, I assure you, I’m quite normal.  Or at least as normal as many other writers across the globe.  If you don’t believe me, check out this post on Writing Superstitions and Rituals to see just how unsilly my totems are.

Comparatively speaking, of course.

Who cheers you on when you write?  Do you think having someone–anyone/thing–keeping a watchful eye on your progress is motivating or terrifying?  How do you reconcile your fear of not finishing when people actually know you’ve started a new project? 

Curious minds want to know.