Wednesday, December 3, 2014

You're the JAM

Oh the life of a writer is an insane roller coaster ride (so you better have a strong stomach and thick skin). A month ago after receiving another rejection on one of my short stories, I found myself plummeting into dark spaces again. The ultimate fear factor: trapped in the land of self-doubt.

Is my writing any good? Will I get an agent? Will my novel sell? Will people even like it? Or will only my mom read my stuff? And the worst thought of all: Will I have to get a "real" job again? *shudder*

I continually let rejections and the slower than tip-toe time it takes for stuff to "happen" get me down that I forget to enjoy the awesome moments. A great writing day (sometimes even week!) where the words just flow. Encouraging feedback from my critique group. Selling my first short story. Getting my first pro-rate payment. And seeing my name and story in print.

My fabulous friend Mo sent me the wonderful card above congratulating me on the publication of my first short story "Mirror Image". A wonderful reminder to be proud of my accomplishments and to celebrate all milestones, big and small (especially just showing up to the page day after day).

So, yes, I AM the JAM! And I will look at this card pinned on my wall any time I slip and forget.

celebrate yourself,

Friday, November 21, 2014

Final revision complete...woo-hoo!!

It only took a little under three years and four plot changes, but I finally finished the final revision of my young adult supernatural suspense In Search of Joy. Well, technically, there will be more revising (via agents and/or editors), but I can most certainly live with that. For now it's out of mind (yeah, right) and sitting in a non-simultaneous submission publisher's pile while I focus on finishing the first draft of my middle-grade humorous novel Mira & Whiskers.

Celebrate good times, come on!
Let's celebrate.

Everyone around the world come on!
It's a celebration.

OK, enough blissing out...back to writing.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Doom of Wonder Bread

Tony Cenicola/The New York Times
Here's a sneak peek of my middle-grade sci-fi story THE DOOM OF WONDER BREAD, part of the 2015 Young Explorer's Adventure Guide. 20 short stories with a focus on diversity. 80% with central female characters. Black, white, Asian, Latino. Human and robot. Everyone belongs.

And there's still time to help support diversity in kidlit...the Kickstarter campaign ends November 19th.


Friday, October 31, 2014

What Halloween Can Teach Us About Writing

Once again, it's that time of year. Leaves changing to orange from green. Scary movies on syndication rotation. And the dreaded five (OK, ten) pounds gained between now and New Year's.

So, what can Halloween actually teach us about writing? Read on, if you dare....muahahaha

Step into Someone Else's Shoes
The best part of Halloween (aside from eating all the dark chocolate I want with no judgement? bite-size has no calories, you know). Becoming someone else. Whether a superhero, slut or pop culture soundbite, prancing around in someone else's shoes is fun. And as a writer, for readers to connect to the page, you truly have to know your characters.

What's the backstory? Motivation? Inner demons? What does your character look like? Physical ticks, traits and nuances. Get fully into your character, so their choices and reactions within your plot flow without thought. Intimacy creates emotional connection...and the reason we read in the first place is to feel something.

Face Your Fear
Howls, heavy breathing, bumps in the night. Moving forward down dark
hallways. If scary movies have taught us anything, it's that at some point you'll have to face your fear. And despite the number of friends you start out with, you'll end up at some point going it alone.

Everyday a writer faces the blank page, there's a moment (or even days) of sheer terror. What do I write? What if it sucks? What if no one likes it? What if it never sells? What if? What if? What if?

The future is 100% unknown. And as a former control freak, that is the ultimate scare. But that shouldn't force you huddled in a corner, shivering, mumbling and stuck. You can't predict the outcome. But you can have fun playing with words, because you have total control over your actions and perspective. And who doesn't love kick-butt heroines (Go Buffy!) over the whiny "can't do it" personas?

Trick or Treat!
On the same night every year, you can knock on a stranger's door, hold out a bucket and demand candy. One of the many lessons we forget as writers is to ask for what we want. The worst that can happen is rejection (again and again and again), but you'll never hear yes if you don't ask.

Writing is predominately a solitary existence. But it takes a writing community to create a great story. You need critiquers and editors; publishers and distributors; cheerleaders, teachers, peers and readers. Communities are essential to producing your best work possible, but most importantly to stay sane (especially when facing that scary What if?).

Ask for what you just might get it.

Happy "Spooktacular" Writing!