Friday, September 3, 2010

Writing your Personal Experiences

My first writing sale was a personal experience piece about my husband and I getting to know and helping local Hmong refugee children. Since then, I've had over 1000 personal experience pieces published in magazines and anthologies. We all have personal experiences in our lives, so why not write about them?

But how do you know if YOUR story can sell?

• Is it something that many can relate to, or only a few? Example: A short humor piece told of the struggles with ‘one size fits all’ for bodies that don’t seem to fit. Most women relate to this humor and would rather laugh along with the author than feel they are alone in their frustration.

• Does your story have a take-away message? In other words, when the reader finishes your piece, will they have learned how to do or not do something, how to handle a similar situation, or understand their own feelings? In my “Be Angry And Sin Not”, I told about my experiences with anger and how I overcame them. It was geared toward MY problem, in a way other readers with a similar problem could learn something without feeling fingers were pointing at THEM.

• Can you tell your story objectively? Sometimes we are too close to an experience and the writing is over-emotional or stale with an effort to hide from our emotion. For several years after my false pregnancy, I couldn’t write about it. I had to step away and understand my feelings and how to express them first. Later, I sold a dozen essays and articles on the experience as well as infertility.

• Will your story elicit emotion from readers? Whether it’s laughter, tears, cheers, surprise, or the ability to relate; the easiest stories to sell are those ones that editors and readers feel some emotion towards. Whenever I write about any aspect of my daughter’s adoption, it sells and sells again. There are a million adoption stories, and I’ve learned the areas of my own that brings emotions to my readers.

Writing about yourself isn’t as easy as it sounds, but it is rewarding. Warn your family first. Mine has learned that anything that happens in our lives is grist for my writing.


Friday, August 27, 2010

Friday Tips for Writers-Market Smart


When I first started submitting my writing, I knew I had a lot to learn. Yet, my heart was ready to make a move and I leapt into marketing with only my heart thinking, not my head. Yep, the creative side of my brain took over and left the organizational side far behind.

My first marketing attempt was a very long short story for children that was basically a Bambi knock-off. I had worked hard on it, writing during my lunch hour or slow times at my secretarial job. When I was done, I had an enthusiastic story full of description and about a million adjectives. The first thing I did was find a magazine I’d seen regularly and send the story with a short letter telling the editor (I believe I sent it to the editor-in-chief) how much I wanted them to buy it. Who did I send it to? Redbook magazine. A 2500 word children’s story to Redbook magazine.

They sent a polite rejection, but I wondered how big a laugh the office had over that one!

I kept sending things willy nilly for a couple of months to magazines I read or saw at the grocery store. After attending a writer’s group meeting, I heard more about marketing. I suddenly realized that my marketing was easy because I didn’t make an effort at it.

My first sale was the result of submitting to a Sunday School take-home paper that I read every week. I knew what kind of pieces were in there and that if I wrote my own experience, I might have a chance. I wrote it, I sent it, I sold it.

Whether it’s a magazine article, an essay, or a book, how much time is spent on finding the right market and following all the rules?

Market Smart.

S – Send your writing to the right place. You’ve wasted your time and theirs otherwise. Just because it’s your favorite magazine doesn’t mean that ‘any’ piece is right for it. Get your marketing off to a great beginning by making a list of who IS perfect for that piece. Then, if it is rejected by perfect place #1, you can send it on to perfect place #2.

M – Millions of others will also be searching for the right market. So make sure that you follow all the rules, all the guidelines for that perfect publication. Don’t email if they prefer regular mail. If the guidelines say 1500 words max, don’t send 1800 just because you feel sure they’d love those extra 300 words. If your guideline information is old, make sure you have the correct editor’s name before you submit. Finding the perfect publication and then losing the sale because of a quick mistake is still wasting your hard earned writing time.

A – Always be aware of what’s out there. Maybe you wrote that short story with the dream of selling it to a giant magazine with a giant readership and getting a giant check. Go for it. But keep an eye and ear out for other opportunities. Just because all the big markets you submitted that piece to have rejected it doesn’t mean it’s hopeless. I’ve sold stories to coffee can labels, to testing companies for school groups, and so on. If someone mentions a market in passing, I write it down and check it out. I’ve sold many a piece to a new market because some kind writer told our writer’s group about a small magazine, travel magazine, etc., looking for articles and no one else submitted to them from this group.

R – Read the markets you are wanting to submit to. While it’s true I’ve sold occasionally to markets I’ve only read ‘about’, when possible I try to get ahold of at least one copy of a publication or read several books published by a specific publisher. With magazines, this has become much easier with the internet. Many publications have samples or recent past issues online.

T – Taking time to market properly increases your chances of selling a piece sooner. There may be dozens of women’s magazines out there, but only 3 that would work for the piece you are suggesting. There may be a myriad of travel publications, but only a few that want personal experience essays on a travel experience. Don’t waste time marketing sloppily, save time by marketing smart and see if your acceptances, bylines, and checks don’t increase.

Write with your heart, but after that, take the time to market smart.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Create an Expert File

Whether you write nonfiction or fiction, sometimes you just need to talk with an expert.

When I wrote Cave-a-Phobia, published by Spider magazine, I talked with the father of a friend of my daughter's who had spent years speelunking. When I wrote CROWN ME!, I talked with someone I met at Scarborough Faire about working in a Renassaince festival. When I wrote about child safety for Kiwanis magazine, I spoke to a dozen experts who dealt with swimming safety, bicycle safety, and more.

When you need an expert, the quicker you can find someone the better, especially if you're on a deadline or stumped on a book project for lack of information.

Try creating an expert file. With a 3X5 card box, I began creating a card for every expert I could think of. First, my friends and relatives who were experts in something whether because of their jobs or hobbies. Then their friends they could tell me about. Then I started watching the newspaper for articles about local experts and wrote down their information. Then there were people I'd met online.

Now, I have a box full of experts. Occasionally I still have to search for someone specific to talk with in an area I haven't found an expert in, but as my list grows, I sometimes find that I have the expert I need to interview or ask a question to right in my box, ready to call or email.

Who do you know that you can put in YOUR expert box?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Living the Dream

When I first started my writing career back in 1991, I dreamed of someday being famous. I dreamed of piles of fan mail from kids everywhere and walking into bookstores where I would see a row of my book titles.

But then I found that writing is more than just writing what I feel, what I enjoy, what I dream. It's learning the craft, it's research, it's studying markets, it's find editors and publishers who like what I'm saying and how I say it.

Back then, every little sale; whether a short story to an obscure literary magazine or a personal experience essay in a church take home paper was something to celebrate. I still hoped for those mega book sales, but acceptance letters and the sight of something I'd written printed in a publication that people I didn't know would be reading made my head swim.

Then after awhile, the quest for publication became a goal and a challenge. I'd had tons of those short pieces published in lots of magazines and anthologies and newspapers. I was still hoping for the big time.

When that first book sale finally came, that amazing phone call, I was delirious and right away imagined my career had suddenly exploded onto new heights.

But the road was still tough and still is. Yet, I love it too much to give up.

19 book sales later with nearly 2000 articles, essays and stories printed, I've been slowly learning that the joy of writing is once again a joy of writing. I'm not a household name. My books have had some fun things go along with them, taken me on some fun adventures, but titles aren't on the lips of every child.

For a time, my sales have changed to work for hire sales with educational markets. At first I was embarrassed to say aloud where my contracts were coming from. But with the joy of each book, I've found that yes, again, it's the joy of writing that still thrills me.

And then I realized the other day that yes, I'm living my dream. I'm a writer. This is what I do every day. I get to come up with ideas and put them on paper and sometimes, they are published and other people read them. How amazing is that?

When I keep focused on that, I am back to being thrilled with every sale. As writers we sometimes compare our career to those who are more famous or our work to those big award winning books. And though it's not a bad thing to shoot for the stars, reach for the moon, and climb every mountain; it's even more exciting to find joy in the moment.

As I hold my newest work for hire contract, I feel that joy and it's amazing. Are you living your dream?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday Writer's Tip: Organizing Schedule Made Easy

Because I enjoy writing in a lot of different areas, I found that sometimes I missed the dates on writing contests I wanted to enter as the paperwork was lying in my stack of to-do stuff on my desk. And sometimes I missed deadlines on magazines that used themed lists for each quarter.

I tried putting things into folders and stacking them on my desk, but that still meant I had to remember to pull out the contest folder or specific magazine folder and see what was needed that month. Plus remember assignment deadlines for a variety of magazines and devotional publications that asked me to write or I had queried.

Finally I started using a calendar. Not a desk calendar or organizer. Just a plain calender. I tear out each page (or you can print a blank one online) and start writing down contest deadlines for that month, theme list deadlines, assignment deadlines, and my own deadlines (when I want to get a chapter done, etc.) Also I add in school visits, book signings, writer meetings. And I might include notes to myself to do a Friday Writer's Tip on my blog or submit a proposal or send out emails to bookstores and schools about visits.

Beginning September 1st, try preparing a calendar for your writing. I hang it up right behind my computer so I can see it easily. I haven't forgotten a deadline in a long while.

Next Friday:

Keeping an Expert File

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Friday Tips for Writers

I've been lax in working on this blog and trying to figure out what I want to do with it. For now, I'm going to add a Friday Tips for Writers. Maybe you've heard of them before, maybe not. But here's hoping something will hit you that is new and helpful.

Stay tuned tomorrow...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Kid thinking

Been working on the nonfiction picture book series I'm under contract for. It's been very interesting to find all the information for each book and try to think like a kid. I'm not used to writing nonfiction as much for kids as I am for adults, but this topic peaks my interest, or I wouldn't have suggested it.

It's been a long time since I've been a kid, and more than a dozen years since my daughter was the age I'm writing for. Times have changed, kids have changed in what they watch and know and read and how they learn information. But then again, kids are the same, especially the littler ones, in their desires to learn and be challenged and the way they ooh and ahh at new information.

I really enjoy writing middle-grade novels, but have also found it great fun (and challenging) working on pieces for the younger kids.

This writing for kids is full of wonder and information and I'm still glad I get to be a part of it.

Looking forward to my first series, WENDY'S WEATHER WARRIORS coming out this September from ABDO books. It's chapter book fiction but also factual information throughout and at the end, including weather experiments kids can do in class or at home. Check out my website at to see the fun covers and read about the 6 books.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

summer writing

This weekend I am officially the mother of a child who has graduated from high school. Doesn't seem like it's really here. Yeah, there's college and stuff, but this is a huge step for us all.

Then again, it's summer and daughter is not at school all day and wonderful teacher hubby will be off after first part of summer school, so I need to get my mindset on work not just play. It's a more laid back time, and easy to get caught up with outdoor work and family activities and so on.

But, as of a couple weeks ago, got my long awaited contracts for the 6 book nonfiction picture book series. 1st is due August 1st and next due in November, but my goal is to have first 2 books done by middle of July. Why? Need those work for hire payments.

Thanks to income tax rates (being self-employed is a good way to feel penalized for trying to get ahead) and such, I won't turn in anymore until after the first of next year.

I'm also anxious to get a first draft done on middle-grade contemporary fantasy novel been working on and off for the last 2 years and more seriously on the last several months. I know (sorta) where I'm headed with it and anxious to focus more on it.

So, summer fun, looking forward to ya', but gotta be diligent on the writing front as well.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

A writer's journey

Spent time visiting with a dear friend today who is 'battling' cancer. I used to wonder why this term was used until I dealt with it myself nearly 4 years ago. It truly is a battle.

My friend is working on a book about his journey and what he hopes to share with others that will encourage and challenge them.

Every piece of writing is a journey. I'm amazed at how many paths they can take and at how we must perform the task of discovering the right path for that particular project.

Reworked on a picture book today. It could've taken many directions, but once I set it on what seemed like the right direction, it finally flowed. And now, twisting it a bit more in a tiny offshoot of that original journey, it flows even better. This doesn't always happen and most of the time I feel like I'm standing at a multiple crossroad taking a few steps down one path, backing up and trying a different one. And sometimes, I realize the original path really was the best way, it just needed some tweakings down some side roads.

Ok, so why do we writer's use metaphors and such to describe our writing? To keep us sane. :)


Monday, April 12, 2010

Wagons Ho! Library Conference Ahead!

In a couple of days will be heading out to the Texas Library Association conference. I've gone both as an attendee dreaming of signing books and as a published author signing books at the publisher's tables.

This year I will sign a few copies of Crown Me! at the Holiday House booth, sign Josh's Halloween Pumpkin once on Thursday and once on Friday at the Pelican booth. Then on Thursday afternoon I get to sign my first book in the Wendy's Weather Warriors series, a set of 6 chapter books -- fiction with nonfiction elements at the end for kids and teachers.

I'm excited as they'll be giving the first book away at TLA and there should be lots of librarians coming by to get them. I have made tons of flyers and got new business cards to give out at each signing.

This year my amazing husband will be coming with me as well to meet and talk to and pick up catalogs from educational and nonfiction publishers. He has an incredible knowledge of history and has spent the last 20 years teaching history and English to ESL students in junior high and high school.

All in all, it'll be a nice little trip for the 2 of us in a town we love. In fact, where we went on our honeybook 30 1/2 years ago!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

A lovely hit from reality!

Ok, I've been complaining to hubby today that I wonder if I've lost my desires, not necessarily in writing, but sometimes including it. I'm not miss famous writer, but iv'e had 5 books published, 6 book series coming out this Fall, 2 annotated books out next winter, and waiting on contracts for another 6 book series, plus over 1800 articles, essays and stories published in magazines and anthologies. So, I can't complain.

But sometimes I wonder where I'm heading and why it's taking so long and if I've veered down wrong paths.

But today in the mail as I sighed and wondered why I do all the different writing things I do and if it's for the passion or the money these days; I got a letter from a kid at a school in LA tetlling me how much he loved Crown Me and asking me if I'd come to their Author Fair this summer or send something for his table. It reminded me of the letters I've gotten from other kids, even from a parent and a librarian sharing a kid's new love of books because he read and finished mine.

So there it is, the real reason I write. I loved reading as a kid and still do. I am passionate about writing, but most of all about children's books. And whatever happens with the publishing and promoting end, if I can get it to a place where kids read the stories, that's fabulous, whether it's trade books sold in the bookstore or educational books aimed toward libraries and schools only.

Halleleuah I'm doing what I love, whether I'm famous at it or not. It's a dream, it's satisfying most of the time, and it has great rewards.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Getting to Know You

Spent some of my writing sessions this week getting to know my characters in my work in progress a little better. Writing letters to one another, planning scene ideas or plot ideas or problems posed. I've been doing this off and on for about 3 weeks and I'm feeling like I know the people and stories better as I work on the actual writing. Curious to see how this makes a difference in the way I've written in the past.

I'm in that place where many children's writer's are with the kid's parents. How involved in the story are they? For my story, it's very important that the Mom is involved. But with Dad, I can go either way. He can be a part of it, though a much more silent part of the issue, or very possibly he left when the problem began and it's just Mom and main character. Do I want to create a broken family unit (which they are) and have everyone resolved in the end, or partially fixed?

That's the scary thing and the exciting thing about writing fiction. There are so many directions we can go with it and we're constantly asking ourselves, "Is this the right direction or is that one?" Know one but us will know that we considered another path in the story, but we torment ourselves (okay, maybe it's just me, but I don't think so) with the thought that we took or are taking the wrong story path and if we'd go another way, the story would be 'right'.

It's the idea of getting a group of writers together and saying, Okay, we're all going to write a story about a dragon, a boy, and a treasure to be found. Each person would write a different story because of their own thoughts, background, issues, and interests.

What do you think? As you get to know your character, does your story change and do you try to fight that change to keep to your plan, or do you go with it and then wonder if you did the right thing?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Another one bites the dust

Just got an email notice today that a religious publication that uses a lot of personal experience type stories is closing to freelancers. I was shocked, but not surprised as this has happened more and more. This publication has been around for 80 years and I've sold at least 50 pieces to them in the last 15. But now, the economy is causing them to lighten their staff and their needs.

It's at least the 10th such publication I've seen shut down or shut down to freelancers in the last year or two.

The children's publishing market is tightening all the time as well.

It's discouraging, but for us writers who couldn't give up what we do, it just means new challenges to find new markets or change and morph some of our own writing to new areas.

On the positive though, received a note from my editor that TORNADO TROUBLE, first book in the WENDY'S WEATHER WARRIOR chapter book series has arrived, published and beautiful, at her office. I will be seeing (and signing) it at Texas Library Conference in San Antonio in about 3 weeks. Very exciting!

So, as on most days or weeks, the writing life has its ups and downs, wins and losses. Guess that's what makes it so exciting and challenging.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


It's been a blistery cold day today and though I've done a little nonfiction writing for adults, I'm pining to get back to my kid's books. Instead today I've been reading. Started The Day the Swallows Came Early and having trouble putting it down. This is definitely a character driven story in my thoughts. It's wonderful. I love the description, the scenes and scenery, the sensory details...but the main thing is the main character. I'm so into the girls' emotions, I was just as angry for her about her father when she learns the truth as she was.

About 3 books down the road, I've got an idea I've worked on in my head for awhile that might have a similiar feel to this if I can get it right. Then again, the work in progress book I'm on now could/should have this strong sense of character feel. I've been working on plotting and planning scenes and situations, yet as I've worked on writing letters from my characters to one another, I'm learning even more about the plot as I'm learning about my characters and their own particular personalities, needs, fears, etc.

So, as I enjoy reading this book, I hope it makes my head flow with the ability to build such a strong character of my own in a story that, unlike many of my stories, is much more about her and relationships and emotions than a slam-bang action or humor that I generally work on.

We shall see.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Sometimes things seem to work comfortably and you just keep doing it the same way. I've been proud for years of saying that I just follow my characters and let them lead the story. But truthfully, I think I've just taken the easy and maybe cowardly, or is it lazy, way out.

As I'm working on my current WIP, I've found 3 things that I'm enjoying doing to 'organize' myself as i work on the project.

#1 Letters. I've been writing letters from my characters to each other and finding some interesting insight about them. Since digging deeper into a character isn't the best thing I do, this has helped me to find out who they are and what their needs are beyond my plot planning.

#2 Synopsis: When applying for the SCBWI WIP grant recently, I decided to search for a project that really needed some funding for me to do more research for it. I pulled out an old partial I had once loved. As i worked on the grant information, one of the things I needed to send was a synopsis. Problem is, I hadn't written one because the book hadn't gone beyond a few chapters and a few plotting outlines. So I set myself one afternoon to just writing a synopsis nonstop. When I was done, it was too long, but in it I suddenly found some new ideas and that the story idea was deeper and new characters had entered in, and even a new storyline, or at least the old one off in a different direction.

So, for this work in progress I'm doing the same, just to get an idea where it could be going. Doesn't mean I can't change it, but for now, it's moving the story and characters in a direction.

And #3; I know several writer friends who go back and edit in different colored highlights to check on charcter, plot, dialogue, voice, theme, etc.

As I'm moving along on the 8 chapters I've already done and ideas for the book, I decided to buy a box of colored 4X6 index cards and a plastic card case with dividers. Each color represents plot, or character, or theme, or scene ideas or the myriad of questions I usually ask myself and my story as I wrote. This way, I have them all in one case, easy to find, easy to separate. I can also see that my greens, my charcter cards, are much less than the other colors, once again telling me I need more ideas to strengthen the characters.

So, the story is now working for me and I'm working for it, I think. We'll see how this all goes. But i do know that my gift, my interest often lies in organization, so it's amazing I've always tried to write my books by the seat of my pants instead.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Here it is finally March 1st! I'm not a winter person and I'm thrilled that Spring is around the corner. Winter this year has really played with my emotions, which has resulted in writing frustrations and fears.

Someone told me once, "If you write for everyone but yourself, you've left out the most important reader." How true. I became a writer because I loved it, because I loved to read, because I was shy and preferred writing my thoughts than sharing them out loud. Yet lately I've found myself writing with a tired muse sitting on my shoulder, wondering when I'm going to wise up and get back to loving it for the joy of writing more than the sales possibility and the needed money.

Heard a great speaker this weekend, Chris Eboch from New Mexico, talk about plot and character, about being mean to your character. I definitely learned new things or things I'd already been aware but not doing and got some ideas for my work in progress. Also interesting that this is the topic of my article coming out in the June issue of The Writer, about plot writers versus character writers. We all have to have both in our writing, but some of us lean heavier one way or the other and have to learn to work on the weaker side. My stronger side is plot and story, whereas I struggle with getting the depth to my characters that is needed.

Do you come up with a plot first and insert characters or a character and build a story around them? In children's books you have strong characters such as June B. Jones and Fancy Nancy for younger ages. Many YA books are more about character. Or do you come up with a story idea first and create a character to go with it?

This week is filled with scary trip to the dentist today for daughter and painful tooth, car problem to be diagnosed and fixed, doctor appointment to be rescheduled because of these 2 things, dealing with driver's license office, and so on. All very non-creative, and in fact creativity zapping things.

My goal is to find one thing in this week's craziness to use in an essay or part of a story or subject to write about. Think about what you can get out of your week as it goes along. How will it be grist for your writing?

Monday, February 22, 2010

I love this, by Benjamin Franklin: "Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. "

I tell my students in my personal experience writing class to keep a PE journal of things they do, that happens to them, their emotions at that time, the setting, the people involved. That way they can go back later when they are ready to write about it and the details will be there.

It's easy as writers to spend much of our lives sitting and creating with words. But we still have to live life if we want to write about life. I guess that's why so many of my sales have come from my personal experiences. They are rarely huge experiences, but events and situations involving myself and other people where I've learned or grown or been challenged.

What have you done recently that you can write about? Can it be used in fiction and nonfiction both? All our experiences are ideas waiting to be used.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Read and then read some more

Today I'm working on reading the 27 entries to a writer's contest I am judging. It is a children's category, short for short stories and picture book manuscripts.

I don't have a problem helping beginning writer's, I enjoy it. But I've noticed many times when I'm judging a children's writers category, especially for the younger ages or short pieces, it seems as if the writers haven't read a children's story in decades or even at all. Times change, kids change, editor's needs and wants change.

When I'm reading, it's almost always kid's stuff. I do it for research and such, but also because I just plain enjoy a great kid's story or book.

My big advice for anyone wanting to get into writing for children, or they have been writing with no success, if you don't read a lot of kid's stuff, it's going to be difficult to know what a kid and editor is looking for these days. Especially reading in the area and age you are writing for. When I sold my 6 book chapter book series last year, I'd read lots of chapter books, but more novels than anything. I spent weeks reading stacks and stacks of chapter books to get the feel and see how series began and kept going.

By the time I sat down to write, the feel of a chapter book was in my head and it felt comfortable to write these stories. I already had planned my character's personalities and wants and my storylines for each book, so with my head full of the rhythm of a chapter book, I went to work and made my deadlines and had a great time doing it.

So, if you want to write fantasy. Read it. If you want to write picture books for the very young age, read them out the wazoo. And then read other things as well.

End of sermon.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A good rejection?

As writers we talk about rejections being either good or bad (good being personal and complimentary/bad being form and/or less than complimentary about the work).

But it's hard dealing with all rejections. I just opened my email to find a much waiting for response on a followup to a book I'd submitted months and months ago. The praise about the story, the characters, the writing was glowing. And yet, there was no place for this piece--this picture book written specifically for this market. A second rejection in a year from this same publisher, each time full of praise for my work and the story, yet each time 'no place for it here'. And each time a 'please send us more of your work, we're anxious to see it.'

So, though the rejection was a nice one, a personal one, even a hopeful one as they do like my ideas and style and want to see still hurts like heck. Sometimes I find it's harder to get past these 'close calls' more than the no chance/no way rejections. It's the 4th one in a year that came very close.

I'm stubborn and I move on and forward, but I still can't say that a close-call rejection is truly good. It's just not horrible.

Writer's rule # one million and two. Go ahead and have that pity party, then get over it and move on.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Remembering Old Projects

My brain wasn't in a complete 'new' mode this morning so I decided to pull out an old chapter book manuscript that I wrote a couple of years ago. Past agent only sent it out once and I thought I'd see what I could do with it. How fun to get into this old character and story again, I'm so glad I did.

I could see things to work on, but I was pleased with it overall and am going to put some extra time on the first part of it this week and submit a partial and see what happens.

Last year I took out an old short story that I had written about twelve years ago. I had submitted it 5 times. I tweaked it a bit and resent it to the first place I had gotten a rejection, the magazine I felt it belonged. Amazingly, two weeks later got an acceptance and then a very nice check.

Sometimes it pays to go back to our past writings with a fresh mind on it and see what can be done.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

I'm beginning to realize that I have ADD in my writing. I love working on several projects at one time. But, I'd really like to focus my attention lately on one specific project, the middle-grade science fiction/fantasy novel I began when i first started writing, sent out with very nice responses, then put away for many years. After pulling it out again a year ago, I fell in love with the project all over again. Agent at the time was very interested in the project and gave me a wonderful suggestion for changing my main character, which turned into a long road of changing the whole book naturally, since the viewpoint and needs of the character are different.

The book has sit quietly the last 3 months while I've sent out a few feelers on it, still waiting on those and while I worked on 2 work-for-hire novels. But I'm ready to go through it again and seen who to make it better.

It's a scary thing to tackle a project you love, once again, knowing the flaws will leap out at you. But, I hope those flaws do leap out so I can tackle them.

I already had a writing schedule for the week; small projects to start or finish, bigger ones to add to or edit, but this one is calling to me and that excites me again.

Friday, February 12, 2010

I've done an in-person talk to a writer's group this week and been a guest author for an ICL workshop this week online, both times talking about being an organized writer and I've tried to figure out why I like this organization thing (it's definitely not about having a clean desk or perfectly organizing everything on my computer with lots of charts and forms and grafts).

I realized that after all these 20 years of writing and marketing now, I really love it...even the paperwork and submitting part (for the most part). Still hate the rejections, but who doesn't? Writer's are masochists to some extent, but that would be ridiculous.

So, here's my little Organization Tip for the day.

Create yourself an Expert File. Make a list of everyone you know; family, friends, co-workers, acquaintances and their areas of expertise. Maybe it's a hobby, a job, a career, or something they've done in their past. I put these on index cards and into a card box. Ask your friends and family and co-workers who they know that might be helpful someday as an expert you can interview for a nonfiction piece or for information to help in fiction writing.

I haven't figured an easy way to organize them yet, such as by type of expert, but for now I just do it by last name and thumb through them.

Today I take a writing/marketing break with the snow, but tomorrow it's back to work on current middle-grade novel in progress and on marketing short stuff and books.

I'm ready to begin a new agent search as well.

In the Beginning

I've been meaning to start a blog for awhile, but feared taking time away from my other writing and using up my creative mojo on this sort of thing, but since I'm told this is what authors should be doing, here I am.

Today my goal is to figure out how to get this link to my website as I sit here and watch the nearly foot of snow outside my window, first time EVER in this area of Texas since recorded weather stuff.

Next, figure out what I'm going to say. First, I need readers.