Tag Archives: from the write angle

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.


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.

Personality Post on From the Write Angle

Please join me on From the Write Angle for a post on Nature and Nuture as I continue discussing the psychology of creating characters.

Thanks so much and see you back here tomorrow with another post  on my Psychological Writing Series.


Critique Clinic: passage rewrite

So, if you didn’t break up with your critters after yesterday’s post let me reassure you that a crit partner or team is one of the best tools a writer can have.  In fact, they can shape up a manuscript in ways we never dream possible.

Often we don’t have a clue what to do with the feedback we receive.  Do we want line-edits or vague commentary?  And how, pray tell, do we do incorporate simple statements into workable material?

I’d like to offer you a mini clinic with actual passages and feedback so you can see a critique in action.  A big thanks goes to John Sankovich, one of my crit buddies over on AQ, for letting me use his manuscript as an example. 

A little background on this YA piece: we have an MC with special powers who finds herself thrust into a dangerous situation.  Her mother did not survive the latest attack.  A young man has been there to support MC since the beginning and will be the second side of a love triangle.  Our MC just got out of the tub and is wrapped in a towel when said triangle side enters with a breakfast tray.  Just before leaving he tells her he’s sorry about her loss.

She didn’t have a response and watched him leave her to the waiting breakfast. Her heart raced and she clenched her fists. How can she deal with Kellen and her growing powers? 

 To which this comment was attached by a crit partner: Oh no you don’t!  Don’t cheat me out of this heart-skipping moment.  I guarantee you, your readers want him to touch her right now.  Her hand, skin on skin, letting her feel things she’s not ready to feel.  Whatever.  Just don’t let this chance slip by to connect these two.

What follows is a quick, but fabulous rewrite that gets to the heart of this budding relationship. 

“No problem. I’m sure you’ll repay the favor someday.” He reached for the door keeping his cool intact. “I’m really sorry about your mom. I didn’t know how to tell you last night.”

She didn’t have a response and watched him twist the doorknob. His hand remained there for a moment and she stepped closer. Her body moved while her mind screamed for her to stop. He dropped his hand and moved toward her. His warmth caught her off guard and she looked into his eyes. Her heart raced, threatening to explode. He touched her cheek, his soft fingers caressing her and she opened her mouth to say something, but her mind refused to form words. He leaned in closer, she tilted her head back and he kissed her. Gently, a peck that increased the longing. He ran his hand down her arm and studied her. His eyes seeming to delve into her soul. Her body melted and if it wasn’t for her telekinesis, she would have collapsed in the middle of the room.

“I’ve been wanting to do that since that night at the gas station.” He left.

Her mind exploded into a thousand colors as she slumped to her knees. Her entire body shook.

And that, my writer friends, is how it’s done. 

So, what do you think?  Are you opposed to such directive comments or do you prefer something simpler: build character connections here?  How does feedback jumpstart your muse?   

For more examples of how critiques have shaped writing, please follow me.  I’ll be blogging at From the Write Angle on Friday.   


Cryfi and Other Writerly Musings

While commenting on a blog, I got the verification word: Cry-Fi.

It immediately struck my writer’s brain as a new genre.  Chick-litty Science Fiction.  Flippant, self-centered MCs who shop for the newest cosmic fashion while saving the universe from an impending hostile take-over by an alien race of pond scum.

And then it hit me.  I’ve seen these stories before.  Cry-Fi exists.  Not in so many words, but as writers tend to cross the traditional genre boundaries, these melting-pot stories have emerged full force.

Nobody wants their writing to be put in a box–narrowly defined by a word or two.  We want something bigger, grander.  New and cosmically cool.  Heck, we want our writing to break virgin ground.

Yet, this mentality can greatly damage our chances of ever seeing our writing in the bookstore.   Agents must define our manuscripts so they can pitch them to editors who must visualize their spot on the bookshelf.  This pitch is necessary for marketing and publicity. 

Our future books cannot simply demand a new section in the already established book stores.  Cyber or otherwise. 

Go ahead, try it.  Create a new word and google it.  It’s impossible to find because it does not exist anywhere but your own head.  This is the fate of your out-of-the-box, Cry-Fi novel.  If people don’t know about it, they can’t search for it.

So, as much as it hurts to see your manuscript pinned with a generic label or two, it is a necessary evil.  And it starts with us.  The writers.  We must give agents something tangible to pitch to editors to pitch to marketing to pitch to bookstores to pitch to readers. 

Having trouble defining where your novel fits?  Check out this handy genre list.

Got a new genre you’re pitching?  Share it with us and we’ll see if it catches on!

*Writing a series? Hop on over to From the Write Angle and see if it’s for you.

The Promised Secret: FTWA

And the big reveal!

As promised, I shall spill my super-secret news.  My only regret is that while you are reading this, I am likely squinting into the sun on my 8 hour trek to the Quad Cities for my writer’s conference.  Not that this is a bad thing, it’s just that I’d love to see your reaction—in real time—to the latest and greatest writer’s blog to hit the net.

From the Write Angle is comprised of an incredible group of writers on their way to publication.  In fact, some have publication dates right around the corner. 

What’s your poison?  Literary fiction, nonfiction, historical, romance, contemporary, YA, juvie lit, gritty noir, movie scripts?  We’ve got all those and more.

Where are you on your literary journey?  Just starting, polishing, querying, critiquing, subbing or pubbing?  Yep, we’ve got someone with your experience level writing posts just for you.

Words can’t convey my excitement for this project.  From the Write Angle is a one stop shop for writers, but don’t take my word for it.  Hop on over and see what it can offer you.

As a word of caution, however, don’t expect to find more of the same.  From the Write Angle is exactly what it says: writing journeys, professional insights and unparalleled support from writers with…well…distinctly different angles.  It is not a homogenized blog on the writing process.  Nor is it differing views on one aspect of the journey or genre.

What can you expect?  Over time, you will get author, agent and editor interviews.  You’ll find book reviews, resources, links and general tutorials.  Contests will pop up from time to time and news updates in the writing biz will be liberally sprinkled in and around traditional blog posts by industry savvy writers.

From the Write Angle is comprehensive and offers writing tips and information to any aspiring writer or published author, regardless of passion or background.

So, what are you waiting for?

Visit From the Write Angle and see what we have to say. 

Yep, that’s right.  If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m one of the writers I’ve been gushing about.  Well, not me per se, but the blog itself. 

Before I go, I’d love to give a huge bear hug to Cali and RC for their dedication and technical support on the project.  The blog is gorgeous!  Hugs and hand-claps go to those who worked on formatting, Facebook, twitter and our B-E-A-utiful icon found on these other social network sites.

Another round of applause goes to my fellow scribes, of whom I love dearly and respect even more.  These peeps are going places and I urge readers and writers alike to check them out, follow them, FB them or tweet with them.  My hope is that someday you will hold their words in your hands.

My final declaration of devotion goes to the AQCrew.  If not for Agent Query, our group never would have met, bonded and supported each other these past three years.  It is through my experiences at AQ that I grew the most as a writer, and it is because of my fellow writers that I found my agent—who I might be talking to right at this very second…face to face! 

And this, my friends, is the magic you will find at From the Write Angle.

Now get going!