Archive for March, 2011

Chapter One….More or Less Done!

March 29, 2011

Picture book writers maintain that they have to slave over every single word.  I believe them.  In fact, I was more than willing to agree with them that they had a much tougher job on a word by word basis than novelists did.  That was before I spent three weeks writing the first chapter of Calyn’s story followed by two weeks of revising the opening chapter of SUSPECT. 

But I did manage to finish a semi-polished draft of PORTRAIT (working title) in eight days.  It’s not perfect by any means, but it was good enough to come along with me to the Missouri SCBWI retreat at Trout Lodge last weekend.  I received some good feedback on areas of confusion. Even better, I received a few grumblings along the lines of “This is a brand-new first draft?”  Everyone present during that critique session knew just how hard first chapters can be.  And this one might wind up being a real bugger when I go back to it.  But for now, I’ll let myself move forward after I do just a bit of shaping and sweeping.

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Reading Reviews

March 24, 2011
Some writers don’t read the reviews of their books.  Many of those who will read reviews from professional journals will avoid reader feedback from places like GoodReads.  That would undoubtedly be both smarter and safer.  A very wise writer said that “Good reviews are like crack; bad reviews, like poison.” But I’m blessed and cursed with an insatiable curiosity.  So I’ll read them and see if I can still learn from them.                                             
Sometimes, I’ll come across an inordinately painful review from someone who sneers at my skills and my characters.  But at other times, I’ll come across a reader who really gets and appreciates what I was trying to do.    For me, the following review really nails it:        
     
Suspect is a very cute mystery, even though the mystery at the heart of the novel is not, in fact, cute. One of my favorite things about this book is how realistic Jen’s panic attacks are, which is an odd thing to say, but Jen isn’t a fragile girl and the novel never once lets us think that she is, even when she’s freaking out. I liked all the characters and thought the writing was fun. A good, quick read, especially for those who like a good, quick, murder mystery. — review by user callmecayce
 
 

Judging Books by Their Covers

March 19, 2011

That Cover Girl is one blogger who’s willing to judge a book by its cover.  Or maybe it’s closer to say that she’s judging the covers of various YA books.   In any case, she recently interviewed Peachtree’s Mo Withee about her THIS GIRL IS DIFFERENT cover.  At a point later in the interview, Mo mentions that she really loves the SUSPECT cover for its fun simplicity.  Well, so do I!  

So if you’ve ever wondered about the process behind designing and selecting covers,  you might consider clicking through That Cover Girl’s extremely informative and opinionated blog.

Starting a New File

March 17, 2011

It’s been a long, long time since I started a new project.   But today, I created a  file with the name of ItalianChase and managed to produce just over 500 words.  It will be another young adult novel, but more in the vein of a suspense/thriller than a cozy mystery.  In fact, bad things are going to happen to my character from the Dolomites on down the Italian peninsula.

Kansas Reading Circle

March 9, 2011

Suspect turned up on the Kansas NEA’s Reading Circle Catalog!   The list appears to cover fiction and nonfiction for grades K-12.  Cool beans!

Rejection Cupcakes and Other Bits of Brilliance.

March 8, 2011

Now I confess that I have not yet read Penny Blubaugh’s BLOOD AND FLOWERS, but I’ve been wanting to every since the sale was announced by the agent we share. It sounded like a great concept, and here’s what Kirkus wrote about it:

“..atmospheric language, arresting “culture mash-up,” unique characters, an alluring overlap of fantasy and reality, and strong themes of family and friendship create a provocative read.”

So now that Calyn’s story is temporaily finished, I’m planning on getting my hands on a copy.  There’s a contest going on EMU’s Debuts to win one.  For an interview with Penny that features her writing process and her idea for rejection cupcakes, (“Brilliant!  Brilliant!” as those cut-out guys in the Guiness commercial would say.)  click here.

Done for Now

March 7, 2011

I spent a little time this evening clicking back through the Calyn category on this blog.  It’s been a long road.  One thing I noticed is that I reached “the end” of this story repeatedly.  At one point, I completed the rough draft. Later, I managed to get the story up to the level of a semi-polished draft for one of my local critique groups.  Then I felt like I’d wrapped it up for all but the final line edits until I was forced by the wisdom and good taste of my writer friends to fix the ending.  So it feels extremely strange to know that I’m actually going to be putting Calyn’s story away for awhile.  It headed off to my agent this afternoon and landed in the queue for an upcoming reading week. 

So what now?  I have a couple of short pieces that have been begging for attention, and I’ll continue working on the research for my next novel.  But I’m also going to have to cut down on my writing time as we work to get our house ready for the market.

The End

March 2, 2011

Several of my writer friends were kind enough to look over the product of last week’s writing binge.   It looks like I addressed a goodly chunk of the issues that they had with the book’s ending.  It had felt abrupt; there were too many questions unanswered.  I’m definitely sensitive to that charge since it was one of the complaints about my YA mystery SUSPECT.  But perhaps the greatest challenge was figuring out how to resolve a tension between what I thought my main character wanted at the end of the story and what a goodly percentage of my critique partners wanted for her.   I did manage to come up with a set of circumstances that worked for her, me, and the readers.