Thursday, March 29, 2007


Today's Mood: relaxed. Today's Music: Ray LaMontagne--Till the Sun Turns Black. Today's Writing: Synopsis for IFFY--technically it is a plot outline for me since I'm writing it before I write the book. Today's Quote:
"Writing a synopsis does not mean you have to throw yourself into a tar pit
before you roll in the feathers." -Beth Anderson

I went to my daughter's Parent-Teacher conference last night. She does very well when it comes to reading and writing, but--the teacher pointed out--she needs to work on capitalization and punctuation. Now, understand that my daughter knows very well how to use capitals and proper punctuation; she just doesn't want to be bothered with the details. This doesn't come as a surprise to me--I see that in other places as well (including cleaning her room). But it did make me stop and think. I also don't like to bother with the little details. Details like finding out the name of a person to whom I can address my query letter. Sending out reminder postcards when I haven't heard from a publisher in what is now eight months. Thank-you notes for those editors who took the time to write an encouraging personal note at the bottom of the form rejection. Even details like sending a manuscript--or short story, or essay--out again, and again, and again.

A few days ago I was all set to send out two copies of my Black Dragon manuscript. Then I heard that the price of a stamp was going up. Of course, I had already enclosed my SASE and sealed up the whole package. I was so tempted just to send it--I mean, come on! They could afford to throw a two cent stamp on it, couldn't they? And how could they expect me to consider that ahead of time?

In the end I opened everything up and hauled out the SASE and put a two cent stamp on it. Details. What is the old saying? The devil's in the details? Something like that. I wish I could just concentrate on the story--but I suppose I must deal with the details as well.

What details are driving you crazy? Anyone hear about those life-long stamps? Stamps that are good even if the price goes up?

***On a side note, I found on of those links on the site that Karen mentioned to be a wonderful help. I am working on writing a synopsis for the book I recently started, and Beth Anderson's article on how to write a tight synopsis has given me a step-by-step guide. I found out that part of my problem has been that I don't really know what I am writing--what the main focus of the book is going to be--journey to self-acceptance or romance. Makes a big difference.

Thursday, March 22, 2007


Today's Mood: Still going. Today's Music: Robert Pollard--From a Compound Eye. Today's Writing: queries. Today's Quote:
"It is only possible to live happily ever after on a day-to-day basis." -Margoret Bonnano


I just wanted to pass a few things along to those who might find them useful. First off the deadline for the Writer's Digest Writing Competition is May 15. Lots of categories. Come on guys, you have got to have something that will fit into one of the categories. Just send it out. What the heck? What's the worst that can happen? Not win? Why, I happen to know many wonderful people in that club!

Second--Delacorte Yearling Contest for a first middle-grade novel. Dates for submission--after April1, but no later than June 30.

Third--long way out, but worth thinking about--Delacorte Press First Young Adult Novel Contest. Dates for submission--after Oct. 1, but no later than Dec. 31, 2007.

Then from Children's Book Insider (which I am a member of)--Highlights is seeking science and nature articles up to 800 words, but short articles of 350-400 words are welcome. Puts high value on articles that show science as a process. Articles about animals that are high interest to kids. The article may cover a long period of time or just tell the adventures of one day, but info. about the animals and/or the research should arise naturally so our readers will learn something. Have enough articles on:birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects, and volcanoes.

For you teachers: April is National Poetry Month. I have a great student poetry contest from the American Library of Poetry. Let me know if you want me to send it to you. Also check out

Whatever you do, keep writing.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Query, synopsis, and cover letter--oh my!

Today's Mood: fair to middling. Today's Music: Foo Fighters (although, maybe it should be something like Bang Your Head) Today's Writing: Cover letter for Black Dragon. Today's Quote:
"Reality is the leading cause of stress amongst those in touch with it." -Jane Wagner

When I finished revising my first novel (for the zillionth time), I still remember thinking I had finished the hard part. Wrong. Oh so wrong! Then came writing the query letter, the synopsis, the cover letter. Why it is harder to write a 400 page book in 5 pages is one of the mysteries in life--but it is, trust me.

And then there is the figuring out all the ins-and-outs of the publishing business. What happens when Writer's Market says a company doesn't take SIMULTANEOUS submissions, but that same company's website says it doesn't accept MULTIPLE submissions? Not the same thing, but which one should I go by?

I received another form rejection yesterday--from a publisher that said it didn't respond AT ALL unless they wanted to publish the manuscript. It had an encouraging hand-written note at the bottom, and they had paid the postage to send it to me, but then the signature was unreadable. So okay, I've been told by writers far more professional than me that I should refer to that hand-written note when sending my next manuscript to them. I looked at all the names in Writer's Market and on the website--can't find a one that looks even close to what's on the note. I called the company, and after being shuffled around six or seven times, the mail room guy told me just to send the note itself with the next manuscript. Sigh. I'm trying to make connections, really I am. But it sure isn't easy.

Anyway, what about you all? Sending things out? Want to rant about writing queries, synopsises, cover letters? Any publishing frustrations? Or is life all roses for everyone except for me? (Ha-I don't believe you!)

Monday, March 19, 2007

Silver Linings

Today's Mood: poorer (not sure that's technically a mood--but it sure is how I feel at the moment!) Today's Music: Sarah Mclachlan. Today's Writing: query letters. Today's Quote:
Back-up your work. Now. And often! -Sarah McElrath

Saturday my computer died. Crashed and burned. No kidding. It was working fine the day before. I plugged it in Saturday morning, planning on running a back-up and then printing my manuscript to get it out in the mail again, and what do you know, it didn't seem to want to start up. Weird black lines fizzled across the screen, the apple appeared, but nothing else did.

In my limited computer knowledge, I deduced my power supply wasn't working correctly--the icon on the top of the screen kept flicking between battery and power supply. After much inept finagling and a trip to the Mac store, I got it working. I made a back-up.

Then, while I was on the phone explaining the problem to a tech. guy, I made the mistake of plugging in the power supply again. Bad idea. Screen went black and would recover no more.

At the Mac store, I asked for my options. "You won't like them," the guy told me. He was right. Not possible to repair--or at least, not financially worthwhile to repair--so it was either buy new or buy used.

Long and short of the story was, even though I was crying over the money I didn't plan on spending, at least I didn't lose anything. No photos, no writing, no email addresses....

I had just bought an external hard-drive this summer. Usually I run back-ups of my entire system every two weeks, but due to Khardomah, I had put it off. If it hadn't recovered for that short period of time, I would have lost a month's worth of writing.

So make a back up folks, cause you never know. Turns out that Apple no longer makes those particular power supplies--they've had trouble with them. Imagine that. Now they offer a third-party power supply. Needless to say, I bought one for this laptop.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Eagle Spotting

Today's Mood: Bogged down (with news of the war in Iraq, with tiredness, with doubts about my writing, with my job....) Today's Music: Complete library on shuffle. (I'm hoping something inspires me.) Today's writing: Blog, and journaling chapter four of IFFY (I hand write when I need to get rid of internal editors) Today's Quote:
Searching is half the fun: Life is much more manageable when thought of as a
scavenger hunt as opposed to a surprise party. -Jimmy Buffet

I saw an eagle flying over Spring Lake yesterday on my way home from work. I had been dealing with the most frustrating part of my job all afternoon, and was driving home getting irritated at every idiot who drove too slow and every asshole who drove too fast. Then I noticed the eagle gliding above, highlighted against a patch of blue sky. The sun was spotlighting the white head and tail, and it was gliding back and forth--most likely hunting. I couldn't help but think how different things must look from that distance. Most of my frustrations could be put into perspective, just a small dot in a much larger picture.

What things help you gain perspective when something in your life or writing isn't working?

Monday, March 12, 2007

Writing is a mental game

Today's Mood:Tired. Today's Music: Playlist for IFFY. Today's Writing: working on ch. 4--and a bit of revision on ch. 2. Today's Quote:
It is impossible to ruin a rough draft. -Tricia McDonald

The conference at Khardomah is done and so I'm back to reality and dirty laundry and a house to clean and meals to make. But lingering still are the conversations, the ideas, the great writing I heard, and the sense that I am not alone in the struggles and joys of writing. Granted, I also came to the realization that there are as many different writing styles as there are writers--but still, we share many common frustrations.

After starting the morning in a total funk this past Saturday, I talked to several writers and ended out realizing that the problem was me. I was putting all kinds of stress on myself to make this first draft "good". Okay so in reality I was trying to make it perfect--and rough drafts just aren't. That would be like an oxymoron or something. Perfect first draft. Yeah, right!

But yet, there I was, all depressed because what I had written wasn't "good enough." I had to cast aside those gremlins and be reminded again and again that I couldn't ruin a first draft. No matter what I did--write too much, write not enough, write flat characters--I couldn't ruin a first draft.

So today--having dragged myself out of bed with the threat that "If you don't get up now, you won't have any time to write"--I typed out that quote and hung it on my monitor before I started writing. I will look at it ever time I open my computer to write.

Now that you have returned through the rabbit hole--what have you found to be the most helpful part of the Khardomah conference? And how many days until Glen Lake?

Monday, March 5, 2007

Reasons for not writing

Today's Mood: ? Today's Music: Foo Fighters (and a little of this and that). Today's Writing: nothing! Can you believe it? I did work on the collage for the novel--but that hardly qualifies as writing. Today's Quote:
"Nothing is always absolutely so." Theodore Sturgeon (Sturgeon's Law)

Today's reason for not writing: it is Monday and I got out of bed late, which means I got to work late, which means I really didn't have much time before work started, which was my excuse for not writing. Poor, poor excuse! I promise to do better. I did work with words--arranging a bit of the collage I am working on for the novel I'm writing (whew! that was definitely wordy enough all by itself!).

Other reasons for not writing: Too many good books to read, small children and cats, the internet, other writers' blogs, bills to pay, house to clean....

What's your excuse?

**Only 3 days until Khardomah!