Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Art for Validation

Listening to playtime with my seven-year-old daughter and her cousin today was revealing.

They were pretending to be artists. Great painters, hard at work on their masterpieces. But the whole time they were painting, all they could talk about was how they couldn't wait to get online after and see all the praising comments everyone was making about their art.

Since neither girl has ever been a famous artist with wild amounts of online critiques about their work, I can only assume that playing at creating art for the acclaim of the internet comes from watching me over the last two weeks as I submitted my manuscript in an online competition. Riding high as it got accepted, and praised in comments, and biting my nails as requesting agents begin to reject it.

It hit just a bit too close to home. It made me think about why I write. Is it for the feeling of creation? For the potential money that may someday come my way? For the words of validation that may come from my readers?

And am I passing on to my children that what you do is only any good if someone tells you constantly that you're awesome?

Sobering. I like to be praised as much as anyone. But I think today was just a moment to step back and hope that I'm taking the time to revel in the act of creation, in the creative process. And remember that the words—positive or negative—of agents and publishers and readers can't make or break the experience for me.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Rejection Fuels Creativity

...or it can send you into a dark place of despair where no writing occurs. But it's your choice. At least that's what I'm telling myself. I just got my first rejection on a full manuscript. A couple of tears later, all I can think about is querying and writing on my new project. So exciting to be at this place. At the beginning of a journey for my recently completed novel, and at the beginning of a different sort for my new work in progress.

The only trouble is, which book to write next? I'm facing a tough decision. Write what EVERYONE is encouraging me to write, or write the story that is pulling at my heart. How's a gal to decide? Which would you write?

Sixteen-year-old Tessa George has two decisions the day her pants will no longer button up. Run away from home, or tell her mother she never had the abortion. Running away will mean living with Julie, an infertile former middle-school teacher who's got her own plans for Tessa's baby. While her former best friend is dating the baby's father, and everyone at her former school thinks she's a tramp, Tessa has to decide how to deal with her growing waistline, and Tessa and Julie both learn what motherhood really means for them. And Tessa falls for someone new. Who is ready to be her friend. And is pretty much terrified of anything else.


Willa Cather Fox was named by goofy lit-professor parents who gave her a mortifying moniker and brainful of literary references. She must use this special talent as she races with gorgeous Robby Freemeyer and computer nerd Scott Finch in a race against the clock. They've got 24 hours to stop disgruntled Russians from nuking the USA and to figure out whether they should kiss each other.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Late Nights

I've got a nine-week-old baby. Only nine weeks, and he pretty much insists on being held every minute of every day. There is a little tiny window from about ten to one every night when I can sleep without him in my arms. And what am I doing?

Sitting up. Blogging. Preparing a birthday gift for my seven-year-old. Listening to Lullaby by Colors on repeat. Soothing, mellow, sentimental in a way that will make anything I write drip with emotion.  .

In the next week or so, this time will transition back to writing time. Time to get back on the horse. 

I miss it. And my characters are talking in my head again. Trying to spill out through my fingers.

Tessa doesn't want to have that abortion. She's terrified of the woman with the pudgy grandmother fingers who's filling out her paperwork. She doesn't yet know that Johnny Hollis is about to destroy her life. She's living in a fantasy world, and she loves a baby she's never seen. She only remembers Julie as her eighth grade English teacher. And soon she's going to discover, one heart-wrenching moment at a time, what it means to be a mother. What it means to really love another person so hard you'll give up anything to save them.

I can't wait to help her live that beautiful, terrible, gut-wrenching part of her life that started while I sat in a conference session on creating memorable villains.

A taste of Tessa, her opening poem:

Telling - Free Verse, Tessa Marie George, 12 weeks
This isn’t a secret you can keep.
Hold it too long, and soon you will become
The secret.
And it will keep you
Until no one can see you at all anymore.

Two words held back
Until every pause is pregnant,
Every eye contact is peril.
You shake and tremble,
The sickness caused partly by fear,
And partly by the growing secret,
Too alive to ignore.

When you finally say them,
Those two small words,
You watch with a measure of satisfaction
As terror shatters her lassitude.
Watching her feel something, anything is bliss,
Marred only by the uncertainty.

What will she do,
Now that you’ve broken her cardinal rule?
The unbreakable maxim,
Don’t be like me.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Butt-in-chair time. That's what we're tracking now in my writing group. It's funny how most of us feel that when we're immersed daily in the act of writing, we love it. But when we go too long apart from our stories, writing becomes a chore that we are trying not to hate. Wishing we could love again. About a year ago, I was having a struggle making the actual work of writing happen. And so I made a plan to devote the first 15 minutes of Abigail's nap each day to writing. That's hard at the moment with David, because his napping is nearly nonexistent. But if I can actually make the "Butt-in-chair time" happen, the magic happens. You don't ever write anything brilliant if you don't write. So I'm off. David's napping, and I'm putting in the time. :)

Saturday, May 12, 2012

What Every Writer Wants...

Check out this awesome post from my CP and sister, Kathryn. This is what every writer wants. Friends who want to endlessly, endlessly read the latest scene revision, or minor word change to a query. :) Kat, you make me laugh.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Just This Once - Query for The Writer's Voice

Title: Just This Once
Genre: Contemporary YA
Word Count: 94,000 words

For Sydney Harrison, perfection is more than just a lofty ideal. It's her only hope of escape from the new life she will never accept. When her dad's stroke left him disabled, she lost her dad, her home, and her belief in God all at once. Now she's living in a broken-down trailer with her family of seven, eating donated food, and making big plans.

World domination being a bit of a stretch, she'll settle for academic supremacy. Armed with only her scholarly prowess and unwavering work ethic, Sydney is determined to trade in her thrift-store jeans for an Ivy League education. There is no room for distractions in Sydney's senior year.

But there is one thing she hasn't counted on: Sheldon Miner. When Sydney gets stuck tutoring the rich, popular sports hero, her rigid focus on her goals becomes more of a floppy blur. Suddenly she can't remember why she should avoid delicious distractions like mid-study-session snowball fights, or kissing boys in giant coat-closets lit with twinkling Christmas lights. Or fantasizing about kissing boys in giant coat closets...

Sydney's only hope lies in holding rigidly to her plan. Unless maybe the right distraction can help her open her heart, share her fears, and accept her life as it really is. But that will mean forcing herself to try all the things that terrify uptight brainiacs with plans—Just This Once.

First 250 Words:

A 175-pound millstone fastens itself around my neck

When your life has fallen apart and you're trying to pick up the pieces, sometimes it's the small things that matter. It's like you reach down and pick up the piece of your life where a functioning water heater used to be, and you realize that not only will your father never be the same again, but you will also have to shower in freezing water. Because that's what comes with the dumpy trailer where your family of seven is now forced to live while eating from food stamps and wearing donations from Deseret Industries. And oddly enough, this small detail matters. And it makes you angry.
It was the first day of my senior year of high school. I was prepared for this day. I was ready for anything that could come at me. But all the same I shrieked when the first drops of icy water hit me.
I stood as far from the spray as I could while I sudsed my hair with the Suave and washed my body. Then, taking a deep breath for courage, I ducked under the frigid downpour and rinsed faster than you can say polar ice cap. I finished my shower and wrapped myself gratefully in a towel. The tiny bathroom had me feeling claustrophobic—four close walls and a low ceiling were pressing in on me.
            I dashed across the narrow hallway to the room I now shared with Tia.

Author Blog Here We Go!

So I understand I'm supposed to have a writer blog. So now I have one. And I write. Books. :) Heh. Feel free to follow me on facebook.

Happy writing!