Friday, June 27, 2014

All work and no play...

This writing thing may be natural, but that doesn't mean it comes easily. It's been a trying week, and I came to the realization that I not only needed a break, but had sadly neglected an important aspect of writing lately. As a result, I was turning into Jack. You know, the boy who's all work and no play and therefore makes for a very dull character? Playtime for this writer means reading.

Sad to say, it's been far too long since I picked up a fiction book and lost myself between it's pages. Books on grief and the craft of writing have been the focus of my attention for the past (almost) three years. To add some spark back into the routine, I went to the library in search of something different. Karen Kingsbury has always been a favorite author of mine, and it just so happened that, as I walked by the "New Additions" shelf, my eye caught her book titled Fifteen Minutes. I thrust the likes of Mrs. Kingbury's work alongside my younger boys' choices of Cynthia Rylant, Mo Willems, and Rob Scotton inside my book bag and checked out.

I had almost forgotten what it was like to slip into the world of fiction as a reader. I feel a bit like Lucy from The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe as she steps out of the wardrobe and finds herself presently at the lamp post in the world of Narnia, full of wonder and amazement. It's magical and refreshing. As with any good book, time ceases to exist while reading. Yet the demands of ordinary household duties bang loudly and consistently on the closet door in which they were shoved upon the opening of the book's cover. It's a herculean balancing act, I tell you, and one in which I've never been very successful at!

The good news, however, is that next week is vacation. It means I will have hours to spend on reading. It is much anticipated. It's also a time when I'm very thankful, indeed, for my Kindle. I get to carry oodles and oodles of books and not worry a bit about having enough room for them. Another bonus is that I've gotten most of my ebooks for free through the following website:

I enjoy writing, but I also enjoy the fun of a good book. I'd love to hear what's on your summer reading list, so please leave me a comment with your current book title!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Friday Five

Today's blog post features another "Friday Five," but this time I have five questions for you. The questions aren't limited to writers only, but are intended to simply spark some creativity and fun. I hope you enjoy them!

 1. What's your happiest childhood memory?
2. What's your favorite book of all time?
3. If you could live anywhere you wanted, where would it be?
4. What person (real or fictional) would you love to meet?
5. What one thing would you do if money, time, and/or other responsibilities weren't an issue?

Post your answers in the comments. I'd love to read them!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Friday Guest Post!

I'm excited to share my "blog spot" (Get it?! Blogspot?!) today with fellow SCBWI member Anna Staniszewski. Anna was born in Poland and raised in the United States. She grew up loving stories in both Polish and English. Currently, she lives outside Boston with her husband and their crazy dog. When she’s not writing, Anna spends her time reading, daydreaming, and challenging unicorns to games of hopscotch. She is the author of the My Very UnFairy Tale Life series and the Dirt Diary series. Her newest book, The Prank List, releases on July 1st from Sourcebooks. Anna has a great sense of humor and wonderful wisdom to share in today's post, "What to expect after the sale."

What to expect after the sale by Anna Staniszewski

It finally happened; you sold your first book! You’ve run around the neighborhood screaming the news and called your elementary school nemesis to gloat. Now what?

Every publisher is different, but here’s a general timeline of what to expect.

1. Silence. You’d think after all the excitement surrounding the sale, your editor would contact you the very next day to get cracking, but the truth is that selling a book means you’re now in the publisher’s queue. During the silence, make sure to start working on something new!

2. Marketing plan. The timing of this will depend on the publisher, but at some point you’ll probably receive an author questionnaire that will ask about you, your marketing/publicity connections, etc. You’ll quickly realize how very unmarketable you are, but keep in mind that this is just one of many tools that the marketing department will be using.

3. Revision Letter. We all dream of an editorial letter that’s a one-paragraph love letter with a couple of tiny suggestions thrown in, but chances are it will be very detailed and mind-bending. You’ll probably sit there staring at a wall for a little while after you read it, asking yourself how on earth you’re going to do the stuff your editor suggested. Fear not. You will find a way!

4. A cover. Again, the timing of this varies, but at some point you’ll either get a mock-up of the cover of your book or you’ll get the final version. Your editor might ask for suggestions or s/he might not. It can be hard to let go of control over what your book will look like, but remember that your publisher’s job is to know what sells books.

5. Another revision letter. Sometimes a book only goes through one big revision with an editor, but often you’ll receive at least two pretty significant editorial letters. This doesn’t mean your book was terrible to begin with. It simply means that your editor wants to make the book perfect so that everyone will fall in love with it as much as s/he did.

6. Line edits. You’ve fixed the big stuff and now it’s time to sweat the small stuff. This is where you’ll start to realize horrifying things about your writing, such as your reliance on words like “just” and “really.“ Luckily, the deadlines on line edits are usually pretty short or we’d probably all be rewording our books forever.

7. Copyedits. Now we’re really getting into the nitty gritty. This is your (almost) last chance to make any changes to the manuscript, and it is also when you’ll realize that you should have never been allowed to graduate from high school because you have no idea how to use commas.

8. Acknowledgements, dedication, and author bio. Now that the book is almost out in the world, it’s time to thank all the little people who helped you along the way and (if you wish) to dedicate the book to someone special.

9. First Pass Pages. This is it! The book is formatted the way it’s going to look when it’s printed, and this is your absolute last chance to catch any errors that weren’t caught before now. No pressure!

10. Advance reader copies. One day, probably out of the blue, you’ll receive ARCs of your book, and you’ll stare at them like they’re magic. It’s a book! It’s a real book! These are great for hugging and giveaways.

And after that, we all know what happens. Your book is published and becomes an instant success, and you buy a castle and make your elementary school nemesis work as your personal servant. The end.

You can visit Anna at  And don't forget...The Prank List releases July 1st. Perfect book to add to your summer reading!
Thanks for the guest post, Anna!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Dreams without goals

"Dreams without goals remain dreams. Just dreams. And ultimately fuel disappointment."
- Denzel Washington

My dear friend (our Brazilian son's mother) ;) posted a link on her FB wall and tagged me in it. My first thought was, "How am I going to read this?! I don't read Portuguese." But I clicked on it anyway because I knew she tagged me for a reason. Thinking that perhaps I could somehow navigate and find the English version, it finally dawned on me (Yeah, I'm a little slow on the uptake!) that I didn't need to read Portuguese in order to understand it. First of all, there's Google Translate. Second, there was an accompanying video. And guess what? Denzel speaks English! (Yep, I eventually figure things out the hard way!)

I watched the four minute video and was glad I did. Mr. Washington gave me the reassurance and encouragement I needed this week. In speaking of goals, he said, "Between goals and achievement are discipline and consistency." When it comes to writing, I think I have a better handle on consistency than I do discipline. It is something that I maintain two blogs weekly and have done so for an extended period of time. What I need to work on, however, is building discipline with my other writing.

I do believe God has given me the gift of writing, but that doesn't mean it requires no work or effort on my part. I am called to be responsible with what He gives. As a writer, part of that responsibility is to learn the craft. I am doing just that, and I'm so thankful for the awesome support and resources that God provides. My dreams do have goals!