"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us." —J. R. R. Tolkien

Monday, May 28, 2007

T minus five days

Until I start on my next writing project! I'm really looking forward to starting something new. New writing project. Drink 8 glasses of water a day (thanks HipWriterMama). What else?

How do you mix revisions on an old project with something new? I figure I'll chunk out a first draft of the new book, then go back a revise the second book in my trilogy. By then, my critique group will have gotten through a substantial amount and I'll have some great inputs to incorporate.
Then it will be back to (major) revisions on the new project.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Disney Blog number 2 - Fireworks

These are the best fireworks in the world. I admit I never thought fireworks could be so good. The first night we watched them from our hotel with the door closed. They were OK.
But the next night we were in front of the castle, and I'm a believer! Perfectly coordinated music, lighting, and fireworks. And Tinkerbell shoots down a high wire with a lighted costume.
I could watch these things over and over.
So I'm thinking, how much does a fireworks display cost? 30K? 100K? And how many people go to Disney each day? Does charging each person $1 more cover the cost of the fireworks?
The third night we made it back to Main Street Disney for the fireworks again.
Tonight my husband wouldn't let me go again. He insisted the kids needed sleep. So we watched from our balcony.
My favorite part is the Fantasia section. The castle is lighted blue with a moon and stars cast on it and the fireworks shoot up synchronized with each beat.
Who's seen a better display?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Disney Blog Number 1 - Autographs

OK, slight diversion from the regular weekly posts.

I notice many kids here at Disney carry around autograph books trying to get various character's autographs.
Is this what it will be like when I autograph my books?
But anyway, it got me thinking. What famous people have you gotten autographs from? Let's leave authors aside (unless they are WAY famous) as I have started attending book signings whenever possible.

I saw Donovan in (a small) concert back in high school and got his autograph. It was this awesome little smoky bar just like you'd imagine. And if you don't know who Donovan is, google Sunshine Superman.

I went to (only) one Star Trek convention and got Worf's autograph. No, before you ask, Captain Kirk was not there, and I did not dress up like a Klingon (or a Borg) though many, many, many people did.

And, finally, I got all the members of the group Sqeeze to sign a concert t-shirt. The only problem with this is I never wanted to wash the t-shirt and it started to stink.

Got any famous autographs you want to share?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Book of the Week - The Titan's Curse

This week's book is The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan. I haven't read it yet, but it's on the top of my bag for Disneyworld.
I mentioned it before, but I attended Rick Riordan's book signing this past Sunday. He read aloud from the book and captivated my 6-year old son. And though this is slightly above my son's reading level, I'm wondering if the audio version might be appropriate.
And I love that the first book in the series - The Lightning Thief - was picked by Al Rocker for his Kid's Book Club this month (thanks Fuse8).

If you haven't read the first two books in this series, then do so immediately. Me? I couldn't put them down.

I'm off to Disney in search of blogging inspiration!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Writing Tip of the Week - Confidence

This past Sunday, I attended Rick Riordan's book signing at our local Barnes and Noble. My son and I got there about 15 mniutes early, and lemmie tell you - it was standing room only. Not that I'm surprised by this, but I just want to point out what a crowd he draws. People started getting there at 9 in the morning.
OK, now let's put that all aside for the moment and focus on the presentation.
Mr. Riordin was introduced, came ot to the podium, smiled, and immediately started telling a story about his life. He didn't hesitate. He didn't look scared. He didn't wonder if people were listening or check how many people were there.
He presented.

Here's how the presentation went:
Short story about how the books came to be
Short Question and Answer sessions for him.
Quiz on Mythology with t-shirts as prizes.
Thank you and book signing.
It was run like a well-oiled machine.

The fact of the matter is that this guy is confident. He know's he's in charge when he's up there on the stage.
I think as writers (especially ones just starting out), we tend to think we aren't worthy of the title. We don't think we are good enough. But unless we ourselves think we are good enough, then why should anyone else think we are worthy.
Act professional. Act confident. It may seem like an acting game at first, but they say to reach your goals, pretend you already have reached them and live that life.

Monday, May 21, 2007

And here's my ARC book Cover

My Creation Spawns an Alphabet

Bred from The Emerald Tablet and my very creative editor, check out the Lemurian Alphabet. But now I'm thinking I must learn it for book signings (my name at the very least).

Friday, May 18, 2007

Exercise for the Week - Photo project

OK, special thanks to HipWriterMama for her mention of this blog. And thanks for giving me the idea for the exercise of the week. It's a continuation of my Writing Tip for the week.

I once read an interview with Orson Scott Card on Magic Street. He said he's been inspired for (nearly) the whole story by a rusty drainpipe in a suburban neighborhood in California (and please excuse me if I didn't get this exactly right). He couldn't get it out of his mind, and thus, visited the neighborhood, took lots of pictures, and eventually wrote Magic Street (which I incredibly enjoyed).

So here's the exercise for the week: Go out and take a picture of something that would serve as good inspiration for a writing project. If it can be oriented in the science fiction and fantasy direction, even better (but not a requirement).
If anyone wants to email me their picture, I'll post it. And I'll post my photo on Monday.

Here, let me get you started:
1) Ready
2) Aim
3) Snap

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Life Tip of the Week - Interact

There's something to be said for getting out and being amongst the people.
Joining groups / making friends - all very important for how you view the world. But as with everything in life, joining takes work. Just try to keep a few things in mind:

1) Just do it -
We're all afraid of doing new things. It's human nature. But here it's important to remember to Feel the Fear ... and do it anyway. I remember the first SCBWI meeting I went to. I was brand new, felt inferior to all the "real" writers who were already members. But I went anyway. And you know what? It was not big deal. So whatever it is, just fill out the form, send in the check, drive to the conference. Force yourself to take the first step.

2) Every group is not the right one -
Just because you've joined a group doesn't mean you're married to it for life. Personalities don't always mesh. Subject matter may not be what you're interested in. Time/date/place might not work. In the past, I've participated in critique groups which met in the evenings at the bookstore. But with a family, I found this didn't always work. Kids have activities. Husbands have to work late. I've just joined a new online critique group which I think will work better for my life and schedule.

3) You aren't alone -
One of the biggest benefits of joining a group is the realization that you are not the only one in your particular situation. Whether it's a support group for personal issues, a new author's group like Class of 2K7 (and on a side note - I've recently been accepted into the Class of 2K8), or a playgroup of new moms, it's nice to know that you aren't alone. Whatever you're feeling, a million people have felt before you. Whatever you're going through - ditto. There seem to be support groups out there for anything you could even imagine.

4) Friends are important -
I've found that as I get older, making friends is not as easy. There is so much going on in my life, that trying to build new friendships doesn't get much time. It's not like college when making friends was as easy as seeing who wanted to go to a party together on Friday night. But the friendships are important, and worth spending time on. Pick and choose and then nurish.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Book of the Week - Zack Proton

Let me preface by saying that this may be partial.
1) My son is named Zachary
2) I know the author.
But it's my blog.

Brian Anderson has created a great thing with the Zack Proton books. My 6 year old loves them. This past Saturday we went to Brian's book signing. We didn't win the poster, but my son did get to fill out the entry form and stick it in the alien's mouth, and my duaghter got crackers and cheese cubes (which she smeared on the windows in the car).

So The Adventures of Commander Zack Proton and the Wrong Planet is the third book in the series. Great layout. Great art. Great text. Great cover. What's not to love? Definitely check it out if you're looking.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Writing Tip of the Week - Inspiration

I read science fiction and fantasy (not solely, but for the sake of majority, let's just go with it). I write science fiction and fantasy. They fit together very nicely.

Looking for things which build up characters and worlds is a fun game to play. Inspriation can be found anywhere.

Take for example, this recent joint creation by my six-year-old son and two-year-old daughter.

Monster that rivals the Chimera?

Genetically engineered species?

You tell me. All I know is that it has four heads (you can't see the other two from this angle), and lots of cool colors.

Now all that's left is to give it a name.

Names and words also must be discovered or created. Again, I revert to kids. The things that come out of their mouths, especially in the 2-4 year old stage, are priceless. Write down every nonsense word a kid spews. Make sure you get the pronunciation right. (Do not insert any strange apostrophes anywhere in these names.)

My final new source of writing inspiration: Force myself to change my desktop background on my computer. I've always stuck with pictures of my kids, but no more. For a week now I've had Stonehendge and already my mind is spinning.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Word of the Week - Cemetery

Strange word, I know. But it comes up because it entered conversation two times on Saturday.

First my son was reading a Sesame Street book to his little sister. He pointed to places on the picture and read the word cemetery. No problem. We talked about how it means the same thing as graveyard. Talked about which word we liked better.

Then driving to a book signing with hubby in car also, we passed by one, and my son piped up and said, "Look, a cemetery."
My husband, 38 years old, total vocabulary and spelling genius (translate - snob), turns to me and says, "Do you spell that with an 'S' or a 'C'."
My mouth dropped open. "Are you kidding?" I laughed. Surely he was joking.
Turns out he wasn't. He said cemetery was one of those very few words he always had a hard time remembering to spell. My son said his teacher told him it's a "rule breaker". Now my husband will never forget.

What word do you have a hard time remembering how to spell?

Friday, May 11, 2007

Exercise for the Week - Writing Projects

I once heard somewhere that 80% of people asked said they wanted to write a book. As I've always been someone who thought she "could" write a book, I found this number reasonable. My husband thought the number was high.
Later, I heard the same statistic, but this time it had a clause. "People in a bookstore were asked the question..." Makes the number sounds way realistic, doesn't it?

So here's the exercise for this week.

Writers - List out five ideas you have for future writing projects. We all toy around with these ideas in our head, but get them on paper. If you can come up with more - great!

Non-writers - List out at least two ideas you have for writing projects (your autobiography cannot count as one).

OK, here we go ...


Thursday, May 10, 2007

Life tip of the week - Do something for yourself

Life can get hectic. Let's face it. I make good use of my time and manage to cram quite a bit into the waking hours. Heck, my husband and I have even started listening to audiobooks as we fall asleep at night.

I find that a lot of what I do is not necessarily for "me". I work for a corporation. I take the kids to school and pick them up. I take the kids to Kung Fu, Music, Swimming. I host playdates.
But each day there are two pockets of time that are solely mine.

I exercise early in the mornings. The house is quiet. Not even the dog is barking. I love this exercise time. A few times my husband has joined me, and it just hasn't been the same.

I write in the evenings. I love my evening routine. Kids in bed. Head to computer. Check email/blogs/etc. Then get to working on whatever project I'm working on. Some might say "Don't you want to just relax sometimes?" But for me, this is the ultimate relaxation. Not even counting the fact that my bottom is sitting in a chair the whole time, I look forward to my evening all day. And funny enough, I look forward to my morning exercise also.

So I think I've got the day routine pretty much down at this point, but here's something I need to work on. Doing other things for myself throughout the week/month/year. On my birthday I headed to the spa for a massage, and while receiving said massage, I vowed to go every three months. Check back with my in July.
Other things for myself - SCBWI monthly meetings, writing conferences, lunch with girlfriends a couple times a month. Shopping at the mall at lunch.

So tell me - what do you do for yourself?

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Book Meme: What books am I reading?

I've just been tagged by HipWriterMama!
What books am I reading?
Here goes:

1) The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. I love this so much I may never take it off my list.

2) Self-editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself into Print. I'm slowly digesting this one during swimming lessons.

3) Secrets of the Mummies - a DK Readers Level 4 book.

4) Tut's Mummy: Lost ... and Found - a Step into Reading Level 4 book.

My son and I have been getting into the mummy thing as of late. In August, we'll be visiting King Tut's treasures in Philadelphia!

I'll tag Madeline over at Buried in the Slushpile, Cheryl at Adventures in Publishing a Novel, Jenny from Notes from the Purple Desk, and Jim at Haunts of a Children's writer.

Book Pick of the Week - Zen Shorts

My favorite picture book to date is Zen Shorts by Jon J Muth. I won't even talk about the brilliant artwork inside the book. It's the words that really speak to me.
The book consists of a few kids meeting a giant panda bear which has moved in next door. The panda bear tells them each a story. The stories are based on Zen meditations, and although all three are wonderful, it's The Heavy Load which I think about so often in my life.
The Heavy Load essentially tells us to let negative things go. In this story, a woman is rude to two monks who carry her across a river. The younger monk keeps thinking about it and thinking about it for hours, until finally he brings it up to the older monk to vent his frustration.
I don't have the quote exactly right, but the older monk says something like this. "I stopped carrying that woman back at the river. Why are you still carrying her?"
If something bad happens - let it go. Like when the person cuts you off while driving. Or a salesperson is rude to you. Or a customer is rude. Don't carry their burden around. Release it and move on.

I read this book to my son when he was about four, and to be honest, it never kept his attention. Now, with him at six, I should try again. He may "get it" more.

On a side note, check out this story from my other blog. Kids are truly miraculous.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Writing Tip of the Week - Consistency

I write basically every night. There are a few exceptions here, such as when I go on vacation, but in general, its every night. Kids go to bed. I head to the computer.

My personal suggestion:
Work on your writing every day of the week.
Even if it's only for an hour. Even it you aren't even writing prose. Plan. Outline. Research. If you're extra sleepy, just do something for a little bit. Read an article on writing craft before you get into bed.

Has anyone read Stephen King's On Writing? Remember when someone asks him how often he writes and he answered, "Every day except my birthday and Christmas." He went on to say, "This was a lie. I even write on my birthday and Christmas."

I heard a quote somewhere (and I can't remember the source), but it went something like this:
There is almost no goal you cannot achieve if you devote one hour each day to it.
One hour. Not much at all. Cut out a TV show. Get up one hour earlier. Stay up one hour later. Because one hour every day adds up quick, and before you know it, you'll have a manuscript to submit.

Monday, May 07, 2007

I Feel Like a Movie Star

I'm not sure why the videographer cast my husband as the amnesiac? Hmmmm. ...
Have fun viewing!

Word of the Week - Google

As a verb.

I love this word. I love using it, the way it rolls off my tongue. It makes me feel cool and hip when I say it.
Definition: to use the Google search engine to obtain information about (as a person) on the World Wide Web .
And just last year, google was added to the Oxford English Dictionary.

So here's the question. Is this word too "hip" and "trendy" to use in a manuscript? Will this word sustain the test of time?
My opinion - I think I can use it.

(On a sidenote: my son came home from kindergarten and told me that google was a very big number. Is it? I didn't find a definition on the web for this, but there have been times when his wisdom on certain things has extended beyond mine.)

Saturday, May 05, 2007

How do you start your writing time?

OK, I'll preface by saying, every evening does not start out this way :)

I write at night. Kids go to bed, and I head to the computer. And I must say that I am blessed to have two wonderful sleepers.
But some nights ...
Get both kids in bed. Sit down at computer desk. Husband comes in to talk about something. Get back to computer. Daughter calls me in to give me a stuffed animal. Go back to computer desk. Daughter calls me in again. She needs a band aid for her finger, and once I give her four choices, she decides upon Spiderman. Go back to computer. Son comes out to give me the book he's been reading. Get back to computer. Daughter calls me in again because she scratched her leg and needs another band aid. I don't give in. Daughter cries. Get back to computer. Son comes out and says his bug bite itches and needs lotion. Get lotion. Have son go potty. Get back to computer. Type this blog out of comedic frustration.
All is now quiet.
Begin work for the night.

(Just a note that my daughter did take a FOUR hour nap today, so do not interpret this post as a complaint.)

Have a good time writing!

Friday, May 04, 2007

Exercise for the Week - Writing Goals

So let's talk goals.

Make a list of your ten writing goals you want to accomplish in the next year.
Now look at that list. Which ONE of those ten goals, if (when) you accomplished, would have the biggest positive impact on your life and your writing career? You can only pick one.
Now take this ONE goal, and write it on a new piece of paper.
Look at it.
Read it.
And believe you will accomplish it in the year ahead.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Life Tip of the Week - Be Happy for Others

Really. Be happy for others. Wish others well.
In my view, to be happy in our own lives, we have to truly wish others the best. This is a hard thing to do for many reasons - all stemming from various negative emotions floating around in our minds.
Jealously - If you find yourself jealous of someone (maybe their book sold more copies than yours even though your is 20 times better), stop and think about it. Confront your jealous feelings and negate them with positive thoughts. Tell yourself that you are truly happy for the other person's success. Even though at first you might feel like you're just saying something, it makes you think, and pretty soon you may actually believe it.
Anger - If you find yourself angry with someone (maybe they cut you off while driving), stop and confront your anger feelings. Wish that person well. Maybe they're having a really bad day. Wish them a better day. Be happy you're not having such a bad day. Once again, you may not "feel" this benevolent at first, but thinking about it will work on making it genuine.
Resentment - If someone has done you a wrong in the past, wish them well. And I mean REALLY wish them well. None of this "I don't have any negative feelings against so-and-so. I wish them the best. I just never want to see, speak, or hear about them again." This sounds like it needs a little work. :)
We live in such a competitive world, that sometimes it goes against everything we may have been taught our entire lives to with others the best. But working on wishing others well will make you a happier person and the world a happier place.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Book of the Week - Captain Underpants

I brought home The first Captain Underpants book for my (6 years old on Saturday) son last week. He'd heard of Captain Underpants, and some kids in his class had read Captain Underpants, but I think he thought he'd never be allowed to read Captain Underpants. But I decided to be a nice mommy, and so brought it home I did!
Can I tell you how excited he was! At first he was giggling pretty quietly, but as he read on, he started laughing harder and harder.
He showed me one drawing, where the two little boys took a sign with removeable letters that said "Come pick your own roses" and they changed it to "Come pick our noses"
How apt is that? I remember a time on senior beach week after high school graduation when my friend who was a boy did this exact same thing. He took a sign at McDonalds which read "Now hiring all shifts" and changed it to "Now firing all s**ts".
So what's your take? Is Captain Underpants appropriate reading? It does seem to capture the true nature of being a young, mischievous boy.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Writing Tip of the Week - Preparation

I've just started a new project if by started you mean I'm sitting at the computer working on it. This does not mean, however, that I've started typing prose. For the last few months, I've been playing with the story line and characters in my head, making notes on every idea that crops up, and continuing to think.
So this week, I started the actual work. In an excel workbook, I've created a separate worksheet for each character, created a plot worksheet, a list of locations for descriptions, miscellaneous facts, symbology worksheet, ...
I plan to take my time in this planning stage, and so far I have. And the good news is that I'm really starting to see ideas take form and build upon one another. It's exciting! But this is true with so many things in life. Spend the time up front, and it will make the job easier and better later on.
I looked around at a bunch of character worksheets, and then came up with one of my own. I wanted to add some things pertinent to my character(s) and take away others with nearly no relevance. I also think if I clearly map out each character's backstory, it will help me eliminate that from the actual book. Historically, I've had this habit of including a bunch of stuff better served as backstory right up front in the book, rather than just getting to the true plot.
So my motto for the week is:
Preparation = Perfection

How do you plan for a new project? How long do you stay in the prep. stage?