Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

Agent Janet Reid has a wonderful post about Memorial Day on her blog.

I only want to add an excerpt from my grandfather's journal from when he was setting sail to France. He was a chaplain in the Army and served in France during WWI.

What mingled emotions come as the great drama of life unfolds! Here we are on board the U.S. President Grant bound for "somewhere in France..."

We have left old New York far behind. How hard it is to see the glorious harbor for the last time- for perhaps years! How one does love one's country when leaving it under such conditions as these. It stands for life as each one delights to live it, for happiness which comes through the great normal channels of divine ordination; for service unto others as God gives us opportunity. The men have been silent, thoughtful and serious. They realize also what it means. Yet not one of us would be elsewhere.



Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Pep Talk

Writing the novel? Feel like giving up? Don't, read this instead from Neil Gaiman.



Thursday, May 20, 2010

Creatures of Habit

Every morning after my shower I find my cat Bailey sitting  at attention on my bed. She’ll let me pet her on the head two times and then she lets out a meow and leaps from her perch and scampers toward the kitchen. This is my cue to feed her breakfast. It happens every morning. On weekends, she does the same thing but she’s come to realize that if I sleep in, there may not be a morning shower to delay her breakfast. She’s a creature of habit that’s for sure.

I’ve realized that I’m a creature of habit when it comes to writing. When I begin a story, I don’t write it down right away, I like to think it through before I put pen to paper. I think about the major plot points to make sure that I have a clear direction and to ensure that I have a beginning, middle and an end to a piece. Once I think it through, I write the story longhand and then type the pages into the computer. I find I edit myself as I type to it gives me an extra revision.

What about you? Anybody out there a creature of habit like Bailey and me?

Anon, (yep another habit I’ve formed)


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Developing Voice

About eight years ago I was looking for a local SCBWI group to join. When I discovered that there wasn’t one in my area, I emailed the SCBWI listserv for my state and started one. The group is a small but supportive group of writers, many of whom are published or are on the cusp of becoming published. Because we are small, we are always on the lookout for speakers for the meetings and often rely on our members to give a presentation or two. When I heard that one of our newer members, Dee Garretson had her first Middle Grade novel coming out in August, I naturally ambushed her and asked her to speak to the group. She graciously agreed. She spoke at our April meeting and was amazing.

Dee talked about her road to publication as we tend to ask each speaker to discuss. It’s interesting to hear the different path each writer seems to take as few paths are exactly the same.

Dee also gave a great presentation on Voice. She began by defining the three different types of Voice.

-Author Voice: Relates directly to the overall writing style.

-Grammar Voice: Passive v. Active voice

        Passive: The dog was bitten by the boy.
        Active: The boy bit the dog.

-Narrative Voice: Narrative Voice draws the reader in and brings the story alive. Writing in 1st person or close limited 3rd person are the easiest ways to develop a good narrative voice. In Close limited 3rd person,
the world is seen through the character’s eyes. This should not be confused with Limited 3rd, which has a more distance- still through a character’s eyes, but it reads more like a narrator is telling the story.

When developing the narrative voice, word choices are very important. Word choices start with character development, in particular reactions and observations.

“I felt a drop of sweat trickle down my side like a spider and disappear into the waistband of my itchy brand-new suit pants, which I hoped never to wear again.” (excerpted from Roland Smith’s book, I.Q.)

When you introduce other characters, put their descriptions in terms of the main character’s perceptions. What does the character think is important. Dee warned that description can trip up voice because characters-especially kids won't describe everything. She listed some examples from books that really used a good narrative voice.
      Example: "She was German and made brilliant meatballs" (from GIDEON, THE CUTPURSE by Linda

Description of Places: "The fog hung over Booker Mountain like an old ragged coat." (from Cinda Williams
                                    Chima, The Dragon Heir).

Dialogue: "He ain't regular sick. He's been devastated." (A SHORT HISTORY OF A SMALL PLACE).

Like I said the presentation was amazing, so much so we are continuing our discussion on Voice this month.

Dee's book is entitled: Wildfire Run and is due out August 31st, 2010. It definitely deserves a read! Her website is: and she blogs at



Monday, May 3, 2010

New Agent at Fineprint

Happy Monday!

It looks like the good folks over at Fineprint Literary Management have added an agent to their staff. Her name is Marissa Walsh...

Marissa specializes in pop culture, humor, narrative non-fiction, memoir, and children’s books (picture books/middle grade/YA).