Thursday, February 23, 2012

Campaign Tags

This platform-building campaign is a fun whirlwind of reading blogs and getting to know fellow writers. I'm enjoying the process and have been tagged many times. Thanks, everyone! To avoid creating a ponderous post that busy blog followers wouldn't want to wade through (my goodness, I wasn't trying for all that alliteration...yikes), I have selected a few questions from each person who tagged me. If you haven't checked out their blogs already, here they are: Regina (whose awesome questions I answered in my previous post), Gina, Theresa, C.M. Brown, Traci, and Marcy. I hope I didn't miss anyone!

1. When did you last cry in front of somebody (who is not your partner)?
Musical rehearsal last Saturday. One scene in particular makes me cry every time without even trying.

2. Would you rather switch back to black and white TV with only five channels, or no internet?
Oh please, the black and white TV. I rarely watch TV while I'm working on a novel anyway, but I need the internet to research and to keep from getting lost when I drive!

3. What was your worst date ever?
It involved "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" and an unfortunate launching of hard candy at my head.

4. Would you rather live in a crowded city or small town?
I'd rather live as I a small town close enough to frequent a big city. I need my symphony, shopping, professional ballet company, and independent bookstore with a multitude of book launches.

5. A friend takes you to an abandoned castle that has been hidden for centuries. She heard a rumor that great treasure was hidden in the sixth tower. Would you venture inside or turn it over to the authorities to investigate? What would you find?
Oh, I'd most definitely venture inside. I have a bad habit of doing ill-advised things when I'm in a foreign place. And I would find a time machine so I could go back and meet Jane Austen and return when I want to actually own my own property.

6. Have you ever written in a character in a story patterned after a real person ~ out of spite, because that person ticked you off?
No, but I've written characters who have traits of people I know. Knowing someone with a particular mannerism, habit, way of thinking is the best research.

7. What would be your dream job?
Full-time author, of course. And also...a dolphin trainer or the shopping liason for Royal Caribbean Cruise Line.

8. What is your favorite song and do you sing it loudly to yourself?
Favorite song(s) involve Disney movies and Broadway shows and I most definitely sing them loud.

9. Do you have a favorite piece of furniture?
The piano...I think you can count that as furniture.

10. Career or hobby novelist?

11. What helps you focus on your writing?
I focus by setting a goal with a deadline as well as spending a few minutes every day with my children before sitting down to write.

12. Do you work on more than one project at once?
I usually have to set aside one project to devote a chunk of time to another. I can go back and forth but I have to stay in one project long enough to feel like I've made significant progress before switching focus. Otherwise, the voice in the novel suffers.

13. Fiction, non-fiction, or both?
Fiction. The non-fiction I read as a child was painful and boring. I haven't been able to think outside that box enough as a writer to believe I can tackle non-fiction in a creative and interesting way. I see other writers' non-fiction work for children and I'm impressed at how well they engage kids with facts. Meanwhile, I love creating new people, new worlds, new rules with fiction.

14. What was your favorite book or book series as a child?
The Chronicles of Narnia

15. Chocolate or vanilla or caramel?
CHOCOLATE! Although chocolate with caramel is equally divine.

16. What was your most beloved toy as a young child?
I had a small stuffed Snoopy dressed in jeans and a red T-shirt that said "The gang's all here". I still have it in a box of keepsakes. It's a bit nasty in places where Snoopy's white fabric is yellowed with age and (most likely) my spit.

It seems everyone in the platform-building campaign has been tagged, but feel free to tell me your favorite literary character and favorite flavor of ice cream in the comments.

Friday, February 17, 2012

I've Been Tagged

I've been tagged by some of my fellow platform-building campaigners. Hello to all my new followers!  And here are the questions I've been asked:

1. What is your favourite writing place?
I love to write in the rocking chair by the windows that face the fields and mountains behind our house.

2-What is the best thing about writing?
The best thing is creating characters completely different from myself, feeling the desires and emotions of their internal and external conflicts, and feeling the heartache and triumph of their journeys.

3-What is your favourite quote?
"Whomever said happiness brings sunshine never danced in the rain." I don't know who said it, but it was on a plaque in one of my dance studios.

4-Where do you get inspiration from?
I get my biggest "aha" moments from watching documentaries of all kinds--exploration, other cultures, nature, and (in the case of the manuscript I'm querying) ocean life.

5-If you could be a historical figure, who would you be and why?
This is a tough question, so I'm going to say the first name that popped into my head. Sacagawea. Because she rocked.

6-Name your  top three favourite authors.

C.S. Lewis, Lloyd Alexander, and J.K. Rowling

7-If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
The floating reed islands on Lake Titicaca in Peru...also, Ireland 

8-Besides reading and writing, name two other hobbies.

Musical theater performance and snowboarding

9. Name your top three websites.,, and Facebook

10. What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
Learn the market and finish your novel. You need to write to be a writer. Set aside time to write every day and write something you would love to read.

11- What special power would you choose to have?
I regularly wish for the power to wiggle my nose like Samantha in the TV show "Bewitched". That witch can do anything with a little nose twitch from changing her outfit in a flash, to fixing a gourmet dinner, to turning an unwanted guest into a braying donkey.

And now...drum roll please. I'm tagging the following bloggers and my questions are listed below.

Shelly Brown
Kate Coursey
Donna Martin
David Powers King
Gwen of Run Gwen, Run! Write Gwen, Write!
Kate at The Scribbling Sea Serpent
1. What's the most helpful thing someone has told you in the last week?
2. If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?
3. What is your favorite thing about writing?
4. When do you do your best writing?
5. What do you like to read?
6. What is something unusual that you've done?
7. How do you get names for your characters?
8. List the top three websites you use.
9. Besides reading and writing, name two other hobbies you have.
10. Where in the world would you like to go?
11. Name two novels you think everyone should read.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Stretching Those Critiquing Muscles

I've been reading the archives of a blog by the anonymous, Authoress. At her widely popular blog, Miss Snark's First Victim, Authoress cultivates a positive and helpful community for writers. Somehow, I arrived late on the scene to this blog, but I absolutely love it. I enjoy reading the monthly Secret Agent Contests in which writers may submit the first 250 words of their completed manuscript for critique by other writers and by one anonymous agent whose identity is revealed at the end of the contest.

The benefit to those who would offer their helpful, non-snarky, critiques in one of these contests is an increased ability to quickly see what works and what doesn't in those opening paragraphs. Do I care about the character? Do I know what they want? Am I firmly grounded in the story? Do I get a sense of the conflict--both internal and external? It's like drinking through the firehose of critique groups. Reading the critiques posted by others in the writing community also provides an interesting perspective.

This month, I decided to jump right in and enter my middle grade fantasy in the contest and my number was drawn. Head on over with the link and see how the contest goes. It's fun to make predictions about which manuscripts are most likely to be requested by the agent. There are some really good ones in this round.

How does reading other writers' work with the purpose of giving an honest and helpful critque help your own writing?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Platform Building

Just a quick post to plug a great opportunity for aspiring and published authors, bloggers, and anyone involved in the publishing industry who want to build their online platform. Rachel Harrie is running the first of two platform-building campaigns for the year. Click on the link to read more about it and to sign up. The deadline for entry on this campaign is February 15th. Thanks, Rachel, for doing such a great service for the writing community!

Monday, February 13, 2012

False Peaks

Mountain climbing can be tricky business. I'm not an expert hiker but I do enjoy an occasional climbing adventure. A few years ago, I embarked on an impromptu excursion that has been added to my ever-growing collection of "learning experiences". After an arduous and painful entanglement in scrub brush and a strenuous climb to what I thought was the top of the mountain behind my uncle's home, I discovered the frustration of false peaks--sub-peaks that appear to the inexperienced climber to be the object of their climb when, upon closer examination, are only a mirage.

Creating a publishable manuscript can be like that. Finding an agent for your manuscript can be like that. Many times, like inexperienced hikers, a new author reaches a point at which they believe they're about to reach the end of their climb. An agent requests a partial or a full manuscript, an agent offers representation, an editor is reading their manuscript. Often, these steps result in a book contract, but sometimes they are only a false peak.

The key to success is not turning around and going back down the mountain. Don't do it! The top of the mountain still exists, despite the false peak. You just have to keep going to reach it. Study the market, go to conferences, participate in workshops, distance yourself from the manuscript and write something else. Sometimes, the false peaks are there so we can prove to ourselves that we can reach the markers along the way, climb over them, and see the actual top of the mountain in our reach.

So, to all you writers out there (and all you non-writers who have other goals in your sights), adjust your approach and find a better trail if necessary, but never stop climbing!