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?