Monday, June 28, 2010

I'm pregnant with a new book

In the past, each time I've found out that I was pregnant I got a huge rush of excitement. Is it a boy or a girl? Will the baby look like me or my husband? What will the name be? Then, after the initial celebration, fear would set in. Will the baby be healthy? Can I handle another child? Am I ever going to sleep again?

I've been working for the last year and a half on my first fiction novel. I have rewritten it at least six times, and about a month ago I finally decided it was time to move on.

At first, I was giddy at the thought of something new. It was like expecting a baby. What would the title be? Would it be a mystery or a fantasy? Who is the main character? That lasted about a week. When I sat down to actually start writing, I got scared. What if my first book was the only good idea I'll ever have? What if I'm a one-time wonder? Can I form a logical plot, or was the last time a fluke?

I've decided I'm simply pregnant with a new book. There will be good days and bad. I'm not sure what the outcome will be, but the possibilities are exciting and frightening at the same time. The one thing I'm sure of is that there is no going back. What's done is done. I've got the writing bug and it's here to stay. I just hope the book's delivery won't be quite as painful as a baby's. :-)
Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Stay gold, Ponyboy

Last week I decided to return to the classics and I picked up THE OUTSIDERS by S.E. Hinton, a book I hadn't read in more than 25 years. The emotional pull of the book was just as good as the first time I read it, though the writing seemed repetitive and a little strained in parts. However, when you consider that the author was 15 years old when she started writing it and 18 when the book was published, it's pretty amazing.

In the book, a group of lower-class kids (called Greasers) try and establish their self-worth by constantly getting in fights with the Socs (short for Socials) who are bored, spoiled, personality-free rich kids. While the book is based on some pretty huge generalizations, it still works for me. The inner dialogue of Ponyboy is slightly too wise for his age and socioeconomic situation; yet, the relationships he has with the other Greaser characters makes up for it.

As with almost everyone else who reads the book, one of my favorite lines is "Stay gold, Ponyboy," taken from the poem by Robert Frost where he concludes that nothing good stays the way it is. To me, this line summarized why I enjoy reading Middle Grade and Young Adult books so much. MG and YA literature seems "gold" to me--not so convoluted with excess description, mindless dialogue, and boring themes.

What are your memories of THE OUTSIDERS or any of the other books by S.E. Hinton, like RUMBLE FISH and TEX?
Thursday, June 10, 2010

The kiss of the bloody red pen


What color of pen do you use when you sit down to edit someone's writing? You might be interested to know that you may be more unfairly critical of others' work if you choose a red pen vs. a blue one. It's true.

I'm talking about a study that came out in May of the European Journal of Social Psychology that suggests the use of red pens may make teachers more likely to spot errors on tests and to be more critical (even unjustly so) when grading essays. All I know is there must have been an overabundance of red pens at the high school I went to.

Bottom line. At the beginning of each school year, buy your children's teachers an enormous number of blue, black and green pens along with a case of diet Coke and some Advil. Your kids may start pulling good grades, and it will all be thanks to you.
Monday, June 7, 2010

Shooting Statistics

Saturday night one of my kid's friends who knew I'd written a book asked, "So, where can I buy that book your wrote?"

I told her that I hadn't gotten it published yet, and she was amazed. "But didn't you finish it in October?"

Oh how I wish I had her blissful understanding of the publishing business, but I've queried enough agents to know that it just ain't so. At least not most of the time. After almost 60 queries for my YA novel CYCLES, I've had six agents ask to read a partial. Sure, I'm still waiting on 21 to answer me, but if you do the math that means more than 30 have said no thanks.

I was feeling blue until some great friends and writing buddies sent along some encouragement. One reminded me, "In basketball, you'll always miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take."

So, I'm back on board. I'm going to regroup, hopefully make some changes to make my story to make it even better, and I'm just going to keep trying. The good thing is I have a lifetime to get it right.

By the way, since most of my readers love middle grade books like I do, I'm posting a link to a blog contest that is giving away 9 books for free. Good luck.

http://www.fromthemixedupfiles.com/2010/06/our-first-post-and-our-first-giveaway/

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I'm a mom and author, among other things. I enjoy writing middle grade and young adult books.

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