Thursday, March 29, 2012

Lucky Sevens

I've been tagged in a game of Lucky 7 for writers with WIPs (that's writer-speak for "works-in-progress"). The following is an excerpt from Painting Totora, my YA Peruvian steampunk which I wrote during NaNoWriMo. (Wow. I looked over the previous sentences and realized they probably make no sense to my non-writer friends. Sorry, guys. I love you all--and thanks for being readers!)

The idea behind Lucky 7 is to go to page 77, line 7 of your work in progress, and post the next seven lines. This exercise was interesting for me since I've only begun to revise this novel and I had no idea what I would find on page 77. Here you go:

"You are right, Elio," Yana says. "And I suppose this place is as good as any." She steps into the cell and Cloe follows. Cloe will follow anyone who pays her a bit of attention--never mind that Yana's a soul shifter. Cloe's about as dim as day-old fire stones. "The guards trust that nothing will get past the gears on these doors, so they prefer to avoid the smell and stay out of here as much as possible."

"I would've preferred to avoid the smell," I growl.

Elio shushes me. He's right. I shouldn't provoke her.

süßer duft ("sweet smell"): an art exhibition
at La Maison Rouge by Gregor Schneider

If you have a work in progress and haven't been tagged in Lucky 7, consider yourself tagged! Post your seven lines on your blog and leave me a comment here so I can head on over and read it.

Thanks to inluvwithwords for the tag. Visit her blog to see what she's working on!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Chocolate Indulgence

The following recipe originated with Mr. R's beloved grandma whom my children refer to as "Cookie Grandma".  I must give her the credit. I'm posting this recipe in recognition of the most difficult rejection I received to date--the rejection that hurt the most, but proved the most helpful.

This rejection was no form letter. Although form letters tend to tick me off, at least they are somewhat ambiguous and you know hundreds of other people received the same wording. At least form letters aren't personal. The letter I'm commemorating with Chocolate Indulgence was very personal. It detailed everything that made my writing bad for two, single-spaced pages. It knocked me over and ground my self-confidence into powder. The editor who wrote it wasn't trying to destroy me--only to push me. Once I set the letter aside for a week and nursed my wounded pride, I realized she had some very valid points. The letter that hurt the most prompted me to take the manuscript to a workshop and ultimately led me to rewrite the entire manuscript from scratch. Without this painful rejection letter, I would have continued to revise by pushing words and phrases around like a kid with a dumptruck and a pile of dirt.

My rewritten manuscript might someday be published, but perhaps it won't. Regardless of what happens, the most painful rejection forced me to grow into a better writer.

No, I can't tell you who the editor is...but here's some chocolate for her.

Chocolate Indulgence Cookies
image from

1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups turbinado sugar
2 organic, cage-free eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups unbleached white flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp coarse salt
2 cups dark chocolate chips or chunks

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, beat butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla until fluffy. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Add dry mixture to the butter mixture and mix well. Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop cookie dough onto an ungreased, light-colored baking sheet (dark sheets absorb more heat and tend to burn the cookies before baking is complete) using a rounded teaspoon of dough for each cookie.

Bake for 8-10 minutes. Enjoy!

*Note: For more yummy goodness, try these cookies with natural vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of chocolate syrup!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Writers and Their Insecurities

Writers tend to be an insecure group--at least, that is the notion that seems to circulate among writerly conversations. Why is that? Well, I have a few theories I use to examine my own self-confidence and, sometimes, lack thereof.

1. Writing is a solitary activity and being alone can do things to a person. Don't get me wrong. I like my alone time. The one time of the day when I truly feel relaxed is when everyone in my family is home and asleep except me. Everyone is safe, but it's quiet. No one is knocking at the door or calling on the phone and no one needs dinner. I do much of my writing after everyone is asleep. However, for a writer who is "pre-agented" and has no editor awaiting their revisions (ha), writing alone can sometimes create the illusion that the writer is actually alone, misunderstood, and unsupported. Even agented and published writers battle with insecurity as some of my writer friends can attest. Non-writer friends and family may offer their own thoughtful cheerleading, but the writer still feels insecure. Networking at conferences, participating in critique groups, and following writers' blogs are great ways of dispelling these insecurities. Connecting with other writers who are at different stages of their writing journey and discovering that others have felt the same way is both educational and soul-soothing.

2. Writers are usually too close to their own work to objectively see its flaws. On the wings of creative euphoria, writers live in their characters' heads in a world they create. They enjoy the experience so much that they envision every sight, sound, and smell with their characters. They believe they've just written their world in a way that everyone else who reads it will experience the same thing. The mind plays tricks. I've had whirlwind writing sessions in which the words flowed and the story came to life in front of me on my laptop, but a little time and distance reveals that much of what I imagined was not conveyed on the page. It is easy for insecurity to rear its head when writers ask others to read their work and then discover that what they thought was vibrant and touching was, in fact...not.

3. Writers must deal with rejection and criticism. One of the most effective ways of becoming a better writer is subjecting one's hard work to criticism and rejection. Even the most beloved published works were rejected and criticized by someone. Some were rejected and criticized by many. This is a fact of being a writer, but it explains the insecurities.

So what is the insecure writer to do?

After that, getting out in nature, playing the piano, and singing work for me. Then, a good critique group meeting or a writing workshop and chocolate. What do you do about writer insecurity?