Saturday, January 29, 2011

Eve's Night Out

One of my goals for this year is to establish myself in a community of writers. I found my way to Verla Kay's Blue Boards, a fantastic online forum for children's writers and illustrators. On the Blue Boards, I've found wonderful help with critiques and established a few relationships that I hope will be long term in the "reading each other's work" sense.

Locally I'm doing two things. I begin a class in two weeks through the Great Smokies Writing Program, a part of the UNC Asheville campus. Joy Neaves is the instructor and I've heard she's wonderful. She also worked as an editor for a small publishing house so knows both sides of the business. It is geared specifically for kidlit so I hope to meet some local critiquing partners.

The other thing is our local women's writer's group. Eve's Night Out was established many years ago when we still had an area book store (we have a used book store, but no longer a book store with new releases). This group of women gathers once a month to read either things they've written, or things they've read that they love. It is not a critique group. ENO prides itself on often being the first place a woman stands at the podium to read her work aloud.

Last night was the second time I went, part of my resolution as a writer, and once again I was scared and wrongfully so. All of these women are talented and supportive. Currently, I'm the only children's writer among them, most are poets, a few are working on adult fiction, but it's fun. They understand how huge it was that I recently got a personalized rejection. They got it.

Next month is the Valentine's version and the tradition in ENO is to make a hand-made valentine either with writing or without to share with another woman in the group. Names are drawn out of a hat, and it is supposed to big fun. I may just have to try my hand at a poem.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Chatty Freakin' Cathy!

It's possible I could blame the big bowl of vanilla ice cream draped with caramel AND chocolate sauce for keeping me sleepless, but that wasn't all.

My characters, Mose and Tully and Will, Papaw and Candice, Mom and Mama B, they WOULD NOT SHUT UP last night. Literally. I was lying in bed with my eyes closed and the next chapter would appear and their little imaginary conversations would unfold. Oh, I write beautifully in these nether moments, but I am always too tired and too lazy to crawl out from under the warm covers to do it.

Do your characters keep you up at night?

I'm close to finishing the first draft of this one and I'm going to be really sad. I really love all these folks, even if they do keep me up at night with their incessant chatter.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Writer versus Day Job

I love my job. Truly I do. I teach art to 600 students, grades K-5. Every day I teach I belly laugh, tear out my hair, get gifts of art work, greetings in the hall, heartfelt stories and more. How lucky am I. Very.

Only problem is, my absolute most creative writing time is from about 7 am till noon. That is the time the words pour. And for me, they're better if they pour. If I'm pecking and plucking, it's never as oomph as morning words. So, let me just say, as a writer...I love the weekend.

And what am I reading? I just finished "The Kite Rider" by Geraldine McCaughrean set in 13th century China. It's a middle grade historical with just the right amount of bad men/good boy tension. I give it 4 stars. I also love it because it has a slightly artistic theme. Go get it!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Screech Owl in Da House!

Brrr. It's still cold outside and the critters are coming in! We have this little wedge shaped storage space above our washer and dryer. This morning there was an awful banging ruckus happening in there. The cats were on the counter staring at the ceiling and licking their whiskers.

I'm embarrassed to say but just a few weeks ago we had a 4-legged critter of a less savory variety. Meester Rat. He decided to chew his way into the dog food cupboard (even though the dog food is kept in plastic bins). Then he decided to chew into the bins. We bought a VERY LARGE trap and murdered him. Cold blooded I know. But he wouldn't listen and we warned him.

So, I was all convinced we had another VERY LARGE rat in this little storage area. I bought another trap. We got the ladder. We approached it with a great degree of drama and consternation. Whatever was in there was BIG. It pushed against the door and made it pop open.


My son lifted back the wooden door. And here was this guy. Aaaaaaah. Not a rat, but a very adorable screech owl. No clue how he wormed his way into this spot. The crevices are very small to get in from the attic and he was stuck. We got a curtain rod and convinced him out of the dark cubby. He flew around the kitchen a bit before we finally got him out the sliding glass door.

Here he is resting on a sack of potatoes - "What's for dinner people?"

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Midnight Muse

As I swim a little further into the deep end of my writing, I continue to discover myself as a writer. And this little quirk is sort of annoying.

My Muse is a night owl. She comes at around 2:30 am and flitters around in my brain, diving into the nooks and crannies of my writing. The novel I've been working on obsessively had a pretty clear outline. Last night this winch woke me up at 2:15 and stayed beating her drum until she had me convinced I had to change a major plot point. Basically I'd planned on killing Character A and now I'm going to kill Character B. Why? Because my muse loves Character A and can't stand the thought of seeing him die.

Sigh. Okay Muse. I don't want to make you unhappy.

Onward. I've written a whopping 27,000 words in an amazingly short amount of time. The book is oh so close to being first drafted. The better part is I have a bossy critiquer who's coming up on my tail about two chapters behind so I'll have the first revised version done shortly after the first draft.

And Muse. You're awesome. I love this book.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

When your characters become dinner party conversation

So I was down at my neighbor's house the other day. (About the only place I can get to with all this snow!)
She plyed me with wine and cheese and I started talking books. She's also a writer, a playwright, so she gets it.

As I described my newest middle grade novel to her. She started asking me questions about
different characters. The best part was, I immediately knew the answers. Obscure things like,
do they live mainly on social security and why does she hold so much anger (that one's not as obscure) and the answers shot straight off my tongue.

I did quite a bit of character development for this piece. I have a couple of different word
documents with nothing but background information. As I'm now a solid 21,500 words into it, I see the work paid off.

And if we keep having snow, I may be able to look back on this winter and instead of grumbling about being held hostage by ice crystals, I may be able to say, that's the winter I finished drafting "The Happy Kind".

Friday, January 7, 2011

Snowed in Again

Wow. Winter. When we moved here, we heard about these winters, but never really dealt with them. The last two years have been a different story entirely. Snow piled upon snow piled upon snow. What this means for me as a teacher is school well into June and days at home that are unexpected.

What this means for me as a writer, well, heaven. I have been amazingly productive this past month. I finished a rewrite on a Middle Grade dog story. I wrote a brand new picture book that I adore. And now I'm 8500 words into a shiny new middle grade project that is very near and dear to my heart. Along with all this I'm fortunate to be working with two critique partners who write very differently than I do but give me great feedback and tell amazing stories.

Though I don't love the cold and the work of gathering food for humans and animals from stores all over the county or of making sure the kerosene is full, I am loving this time inside my stories.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Okay, so I got some really uber exciting news yesterday.
News of the "holy banana split, I CAN write" kind.
Yet, it's just an "atta girl" at this point.

Unfortunately, I am OBSESSING. And I cannot seem to find the off switch.
I came home and worked on the WIP to ease my mind..but...I find myself second guessing. Ack! That is the worst.

I've been so accustomed to this being my private thing.
Now, it's out there.
Who would have figured that someone would "really like it."
And more have it to look at it.

Zippin' my lip as it's too soon to spill a thing. Only this....obsess, obsess, obsess.....AAAARGHHH!