Posts Tagged ‘writing style’




It’s About Writing the Kind of Books that Send me into a Writing Frenzy at 6:22 am on a Thursday or a Friday

Filed under: Pondering, Writing, Writing Style

I’m writing this post at 6:22 on Thursday morning. I’m telling you this for a couple reasons:

#1 This makes it more likely that in my writing frenzy (more to come on that in a minute) I will jump around between the Thursday and Friday point of view and get everyone confused. Usually I sort this kind of problem out. Because I have a brain. But as I mentioned, I am in a writing frenzy (more to come on that in a minute) and it’s 6 freaking 22 in the morning. So beware of the time machine I’m playing with.

#2 The second reason I’m telling you about my 6:22 blog-post-writing-extravaganza is that it is occurring THE DAY BEFORE THE BLOG POST IS DUE! Don’t get me wrong, I do write posts ahead of schedual-ish on some occasions. I’ve also been known to write posts at 6:22 in the am on the day the post is due. *head thunk* But rarely do I write a post that is timely, at 6:22 in the morning. Seriously, everyone knows that’s when you check FB and Twitter, if you are forced by the universe to be awake at such an ungodly hour.

#3 I’m also telling you this because I’m excited. And I don’t always think straight when I’m excited. Why am I excited you ask? Because I’m in a writing frenzy–sort of. The writing frenzy part involves this blog post. And I’ll be honest with you. This was not the blog post you were supposed to get today. I mean yesterday. Heck–Thursday or Friday. (see #1) What I expected to post, whenever I got around to posting it, was a prelude to the 2013 NY SCBWI Conference. I planned on writing the blog as I was packing my stuff. I sort of have a track record for doing that. Typically what happens is I run into my office to grab something I need off of my desk–SHINY–I get distracted and write a little. Of course there are more shiny things to follow, causing me to bounce back and forth. The good news is, so far I haven’t packed my blog or posted my underwear–lucky you. But back to the matter at hand. I am in a blog post writing frenzy because….*drum roll*….I just had an impromptu get-together with THE BOYS IN THE BASEMENT!!!

If you do not know who the Boys in the Basement are, drop everything and go read ON WRITING by Stephen King. Why are you still standing here? Okay–or you can finish this post and then go read it. Since I really appreciate the support I’ll give you a little hint, the Boys in the Basement refers to the writer’s muse. 

I was visited by the muse at 4:30 this morning!!!! *hugs self and jumps up and down* Now don’t get me wrong, the basement boys come all the time. They send up an emissary from below for a cup of coffee or a snack and while he’s here he’ll leave a few nuggets of muse-like wisdom behind. This happens (thank heavens) on a fairly regular basis. The boys take turns dropping by with the perfect name for a character or the page-turning end to a chapter that I’ve been gnawing on for awhile. But today THEY ALL CAME UP.



AND THEY BROUGHT A BOOK!!! A BRAND NEW, SHINY BOOK IDEA AND I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT!!!!! I have a title and a main character. I have plot ideas and supporting characters jumping out at me. It’s different, but it’s me. It’s exciting!!!! The boys brought up so much stuff I had to pop out of bed and grab a notebook. Book #4 has floated up to the surface to be explored and I’m giddy and so happy to see the whole crew at once. Sure, I get nervous when I haven’t seen ALL OF THEM in a bit, but I’ve learned not to worry too much. I’ve come to trust them–they obviously know me better than I know myself. They listen to my signals. In fact, I think they heard me when I was watching all those fabulous ALA award winners and muttering under my breath…someday I’m going to write a book that good. Some day I’m going to be on that list. What might a Printz or a Newbery award winner look like?

Yeah, I did that, but so did everybody else. Even the people who aren’t actually writing books LOL! But for me, perhaps #4  will be the book or maybe it will be #7. Or who know, maybe it’s #2. It doesn’t really matter. I’m not an if girl. I’m more like a when girl. I’ll get there when I’m ready, in my own good time. Right now what I’m focused on is what I CAN control. It’s about writing the kind of books that send me into a writing frenzy at 6:22 am on a Thursday or a Friday. (see #1) And no matter what day it is–I really like that.

Who lives in your basement? What does your muse look like? How do they get the ideas to you? Don’t you hate how tired I’m going to be in a couple hours?

Also, don’t forget, myself and a metric load of other great folks, will be tweeting live from the NY SCBWI Conference. Join in the conversation at #scbwiny13!!!!!!!


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Running Releases More Than Just Sweat

Filed under: Chasing Adaptation, Running, The Opposite of Gravity, Writing

Due to a wicked bout of the flu PLAGUE that hit the whole family, I went running on Monday for the first time in weeks. I knew my first run back would be a little on the slow side, but I was just anxious to get out there. Why? Because running releases more than just sweat. I love this picture because it’s actually how I visualize what’s happening to me when I run. Except, there is another component that I see in my mind’s eye. It isn’t always just what I leave out on the road that’s important–it’s also about what I find along the way.

On Monday I also finished the first draft of my second novel, THE OPPOSITE OF GRAVITY. *happy dance*  For me, drafting is a long and painful process. I can not adequately express the joy I feel right now to have a very functional draft to work off of. I LOVE revision and now I’m finally there–sort of. Because for me, writing has it’s own kind of heartbeat. It’s own rhythm. When one thing ends–another begins. The closer I draw to the end of one book, the more the next book starts to move, stretch and grow inside my head. So, as I run, I do this thing that I sort of think of as “unhinging my mind.” When I’m running, I turn off the logic setting and I let my mind travel at random. I allow it to move from one thought to another in the hopes that my subconscious will be the compass–leading me to my own truth.


The plot thread, that was missing from book #3 CHASING ADAPTATION, just appeared in my head along a number of other cool and interesting possibilities. And as my feet pounded the pavement, I had this insane feeling that as I was actually running through the collective conscious, with my mind open like a butterfly net, collecting ideas at the same rate as I was dropping “garbage” behind me. And it felt amazing.

Where do you look to find clarity and inspiration for your writing or your life? What sends your internal compass in the right direction?

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The Thigh Bone’s Connected to the Hip Bone–Eventually

Filed under: Pondering, The Opposite of Gravity, Touching the Surface, Writing, Writing Style

There are days when I’m completely convinced that this whole book thing is a fluke. Although I hear I’m not alone. It appears that if you’re a writer, then you’re very familiar with this thing called a self-sabatoging lack of belief. It’s what we do–it’s inescapable–just part of how we operate. The majority of the time I’m just mucking around in my manuscript, trying to see if the thigh bone’s connected to the hip bone and if they get together will it be an interesting interaction.

This is particularly stressful at the end of a first draft, when the pressure is on and I can’t see how all these bones are going to form into something that can hold it’s own weight. Some days it feels like the parts are never going to end up in the right places, let alone be engineered for movement. But…

There is this magical moment when something happens and my brain starts acting like it’s had this amazing plan all along and–lucky me–now it’s finally letting me in on it. And that’s when I realize that my subconscious is a heck of a lot smarter than I usually give her credit for. Smart enough to help me write a great book, but also smart enough to realize that the book is a journey–a personal puzzle. Things mean more when you have to fight for them–when you run the risk of failure. But when the light comes one, those illuminated moments give me chills. And that feeling is worth working for and waiting for.

I know that the rug will be pulled out from beneath my feet again soon. Crit partner, agent, editor–they will take my “finished” masterpiece and search for holes and point out dead ends. It won’t be long before I’ll be talking non-stop about my incompetence and my utter lack of writing talent. That’s why I wanted to write myself this blog–as a reminder that those magic moments will come again. Think of this post as a ribbon wrapped around my finger, reminding me that I am the sum of my parts and some of my parts aren’t so bad. I’ve got good bones in me and I know what to do with them if I give myself the chance.

What’s your worst fear about your writing? What’s your magic moment–the one when you know that you are doing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing?

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I Grow Slow

Filed under: Pondering, The Opposite of Gravity, Writing, Writing Style, YA Books, Young Adult (YA)

Last Thursday I went for a run–a seven mile run to be exact. If you’re not a runner you’re probably wondering why the heck I would do such a thing. (I used to look at runners and roll my eyes too) But that changed. Now I like to pound the pavement for a lot of reasons–it allows me to eat lots of chocolate and still fit into my pants. I like the feeling of being physically spent after a workout. I enjoy the head space and the way my mind just wanders and explores things.  It’s also a big stress relief. Now, I’ll be the first to tell you that I mostly have fake stress. No one is dying in my family right now, my debut novel is being published in October, my kids are healthy and happy. I’m good. Real stress is the fear of losing your home, the inability to put food on the table, illness or death knocking on your door. I do not have that in my life right now–so I am not complaining.

But there is a certain reality that we all live in. We view the world through our own daily filters. So, while I try very hard to keep my life in perspective, there are days when the laundry piling up or a car needing to be serviced can just turn me into a hump head. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t growl when they purchase something new, only to get home and find it broken in the box. It is the reality of the life we live in–some days go better than others. Some moments have more stress. Lately I’ve had two things that tend to upset my apple cart. The one I’m going to talk about now is my work in progress. Writing the second book is hard. So I run.


In general, I run and “write.” I’m not a note taker or an outliner by nature. I’m a runner–a mental plotter. As move my feet–I manipulate the story in my head. I twist it and bend it. I ask it questions. I wonder what my characters are saying to me. I listen to music and marvel at the deep thoughts that other artists have presented to the world through their lyrics. I take all the individual ingredients that I use to make up a story and I simmer them and try to make good soup.

I also run because I’m afraid of how slow I grow. I try to outrun my nerves.

I write books in a way that is very organic to me. I actually like my process, now that I’ve grown to understand it and appreciate it. But my way of doing things takes time. I don’t just “write” a book for readers. I create what I need to grow my own soul–to navigate the landscape of my life. Some days it feels less like building something new and more like unraveling a giant, knotted ball of string. It’s me trying to make sense of something that might choke me if it’s left in that chaotic condition. To me, writing a book is a beautiful journey. But the catch is that I’m not just an observer to this process, I’m pulling all the same threads that my characters are tugging at too. I’m growing and changing right along with them. It has saved my life, but some days it is a slower process than I would like. It’s hard to admit that I grow slow.

Thursday I was running because my agent was reading part of my manuscript and I didn’t know if she would find me between the words. I wasn’t sure if their were more questions than answers entangled in the lines.  I believe in my stories. I know the OPPOSITE OF GRAVITY is what I need to be writing and it will be beautiful when it’s finished–but I worry that I grow too slow. Some days I think that the world might be willing to wait for what I have to say–if I take the time to get it right. Other days I think that’s hubris. Until I know for sure–I’ll have to keep running.

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The Judgement Police

Filed under: Writing, Writing Style

In general I’ve been writing up a storm lately. Of course I’ve had a day or two–here and there–where that thing called “life” has gotten in the way. But in general, I’m very excited to have the creative juices flowing.  In fact, I’m in that stage where I’m a little bit obsessed with the book. I only want to listen to music off of THE OPPOSITE OF GRAVITY PLAYLIST, I fall asleep thinking about the book and I wake up with the story running around inside my head. My activity of choice right now, if I could completely put life on hold, would be to just sit down some place cozy and get the thoughts out of my head and on the paper.

It wasn’t so long ago where this was the exact opposite. I spent most of my WIP writing time–well–not writing. I wrote other things like blogs, did revisions and edits etc… But, when it came to book two, I could only get small amounts onto the paper at a time. Some days it felt like swimming in mud. Technically, I guess I could have slowly and methodically kept writing and erasing all my dead ends, but that doesn’t work for me.  I’ve learned that I need to know my story and my characters really well to make the writing happen. Besides, the act of day dreaming on paper seems like such a slow way to work. My mind functions so much faster than my fingers.

I used to feel a little crappy about this. Pretty sure the judgement police were going to give me a BIC (butt in chair) Citation, but I’ve learned that perhaps I do better trusting my instincts and being me. I’ve even started to think of this period of my story building, as my “astral projection phase.”  I imagine it must feel glorious to travel without the weight of  your body holding you down, but the closest I can say I’ve come to this experience is a couple really great flying dreams–I love those.  Or maybe it’s the time spent in the in-between of a day dream–plotting a story. I know how other people work the best. And I’ve always compared my methods to theirs, but I’ve been wondering…

Option #1

Heavy and cumbersome–forcing thoughts out onto the page…


Option #2

Light and dreamy–where I let my mind go wherever it wants to take me.

Yes, I like the second choice much better.

***Insert public service announcement–AURACLE by Gina Rosati ROCKS!***

Here’s the thing, I wasn’t completely sure that this was true until the last couple weeks, when all my brain cells decided to get together and have a party. Finally, I know with certainty that there is a complete book here–not just tendrils of thought that I am trying to weave together. I know that the first book was not just a fluke. So, here’s what I want to tell you. Be educated. Know what “writers” need to do to make it in this business. Once you know that, you are loaded for bear. Then…look at what YOU need to do to be a writer. Pick the tools that make your magic happen. Don’t think of yourself as a screw-up. Think of yourself as innovative, gifted and trend setting. Trust yourself as much as you can and then give yourself a little more credit–even if you have to fake it. And of course–be sure to write the book. You can’t be unique and take the world by storm without the book!

So, what do I think about THE OPPOSITE OF GRAVITY now that it’s starting to live and breath on it’s own? Here are the questions I ask myself…

Will it be any good?

I sure hope so, but who the hell knows.

Was it what I should have written?

The truth–it’s the only thing I could have written–let the chips fall where they may.

Is it anywhere near done?

Not really–but that’s because I’m a weaver and I won’t be happy with it until those original tendrils of thought have come together to make a whole that is bigger than its parts.

And thinking ahead…

Now that I’ve gained all this enlightenment, will the 3rd book be any easier?

Not a chance–but that’s why we feel so proud and accomplished when we’ve finished.

Happy writing! Don’t forget to tell me what makes you unique as a writer? Or tell me what you would actually do if the judgement police weren’t watching. I promise not to tell a soul–maybe.



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