Friday, August 19, 2011

The Honor System

Or, the best things in life are free, but are only really worth it if you pay for them.

My husband and I were walking in Harvard Square last week, and we saw a table of books. The sign (above) (sorry the picture sucks!) explains that this "book store" has been around for 5 years. The prices are inside the books, and please deposit the right amount of money in the lock box. Such a cool indication of what this community is like.

Plus, free WiFi.

Okay, so the books above aren't free. You must use the honor system to own one. Some of the best communities work off this system. Take the kidlit blogging community. Everyone is welcome to join in the conversations, and there is so much information to take away. But you get the most out of the community if you are genuine, and take the risk to put yourself out there. The more you give back to the community, the richer your experience. You could take the information for 'free', but then you wouldn't get much else.

Same with crit partners--you must pay it back, or pay it forward to have supportive, lasting relationships.

The Tour de Writing was based on the honor system, and when I pressed most people about their totals, I found that they had short changed themselves, or were honest to a fault.

Speaking of the Tour, thanks so much for the awesome participation--and congrats to the winners! If you want to sign up for an email reminder for next year, please check out the Tour de Writing page above.

I also would love to continue doing my Friday Feature interviews, but lack the time to dedicate to the process. Since I want to focus more time writing, I created a page for people to sign up to be interviewed. There are no requirements--I would love to hear about your journey no matter where you are on your journey. Please feel free to fill out the form connected to the Friday Feature page above.

And, please feel free to pass the word on to others. It would help me immensely to not have to create lists and wonder if I already bugged a certain person about doing an interview for me. Here's a link to the interview page, or you can see it at the top of the blog. :) I apologize that I will do less reaching out to people, but I really need to write. And I really love the interviews.

Another Honor System project that was worth it's weight in gold? WriteOnCon. I hope everyone gave back in whatever way they could there, either by saying thanks to the gals that spent so much time and energy putting it on, or critting in the threads, or donating a little. I still can't believe the caliber of that "free" conference. I will be hanging out there soaking in all the things I missed over the next few weeks.

And, sometimes just joining in to the conversation is paying your dues. Check out Jon and Kris' thought provoking, "Where are The Gay Parents in Children's Literature?" blog series, continuing today.

What are your favorite ways to give back to this excellent on-line community? Do you think that most people honor the honor system?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Award Ceremony: Tour de Writing

Welcome all, to the culmination of five weeks of writing! Let me start by saying that I count any and all writing done during the summer to be a huge achievement. I feel a little cheesy for congratulating people for showing up, but if I've learned anything about writing, it's that you have to show up. You have to put pen to paper, and keep continuity between yesterday's ideas and today's.

Thus, we play, the TOUR. :)

Thank you all for being such great sports, while I conducted this thing through two vacations, and many distractions. I hope that I can get things together so that next year will run more smoothly! Thank you all for being here, for writing, and for supporting each other through The Practice Room and Twitter. This community is amazing.

Drumroll please...

The GRAND WINNER of the entire race is...  Robert--who revised his ENTIRE NOVEL--a whopping 47,000 words--during the Tour. Amazing progress! You get to wear that yellow jersey all year long, Robert! Woo-hoo! Everyone give Robert some love!

In the category of Drafting,  Alicia wins with 36,231 points! Way to go, Alicia! Wear that Green sprinting Jersey with pride!

Other awesome drafters:

Kris, with 21,495 points.
Jon, with 20,290 points.
 Kelly, with 3,655 points.
 Fida I, with 3635 points.

In the category of Revising,  Marisa wins with 27,729 points! Awesome job, Marisa. That's a ton of revising! Wear that Queen of the Mountain, Polka Dot Jersey well!

Tina also revised a ton, with 20,735 points.

In the category of Both, Revising and Drafting,  Lynn scored the White Jersey, with an amazing 34,941 points. Way to take, and hold, the lead, Lynn!

Other great revising and drafting competitors:

 Taffy, with 23,169 points.
 Me, with 11,642 points.
 Anita, with 10,250 points.

What a great race this year! Congratulations to everyone for getting words in this summer. If you won your category, make sure to email me your PRIZE preference!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Series: Where Are The Gay Parents In Children's Literature?

Everyone who is waiting on pins and needles for the final results and award ceremony for the Tour de Writing, please check back tomorrow! Because today, I want to direct you all to a blog series by Jon and Kris!

I think this is a fabulous topic of conversation. I can't wait to pick up some of the titles that they are talking about, and I encourage you to pick one up too. That way we can all weigh in on this topic! But I also feel like this is not just a topic of conversation, but the very weighty idea that we are all responsible, as writers, to think about what types of people will populate our books.

I feel as though literature should be reflective of our society, but also reflect what society could, or should be. What does it say to my children when books don't reflect the families of their friends? Does it make those families seem less legitimate? Am I getting too political?

Please stop by Jon's blog for an overview of the series, and Kris' blog for a list of book titles. Had you noticed that the books you were reading lacked gay parent characters? What do you think about this? Can you recommend any books you have read which included gay parents? Does this sort of discussion make you feel any pressure as a writer to write what you maybe don't know? Really, what do you think? 

Friday, August 12, 2011


It's finally here--the final day of the Tour de Writing!

Write hard today, and then stop by BEFORE MIDNIGHT and

I'll post the WINNERS on Monday. Don't forget about the PRIZES! Can you believe it's almost over? Will I see you at WriteOnCon next week? I hope so!

And, I would love to hear your thoughts about the Tour in the comments--what worked? What didn't? Was it helpful? Was it too confusing to understand? Too convoluted? What did you like about it?

***We are adding an Impromptu Practice Room session at noon (est). Come join us for the last TPR of the Tour!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Well, evidently, I don't think that you do a five week marathon of writing for a PRIZE. I must think that you participate in the Tour de Writing because you want the motivation, you want to use new community writing tools, and you really want to finish that darn novel.

Word count in and of itself is a prize.

Right. :)

Here we are, in the last few days of the Tour de Writing, and I haven't even unveiled all the prizes.

How lame!

But, hopefully, (finally) seeing these prizes all lined up will put your pen in gear and make you race to the finish line. Maybe it will give you that final energy boost to obtain a jersey and win some loot.

Remember, anyone wearing a jersey (you know, obtaining highest word count) on the finish line, wins a prize. There are four prizes, in the categories of Overall, Drafting, Revising, and Combination Drafting and Revising. Check your totals from yesterday. Calculate how many words you might need to win, and get writing.

Here are the awesome PRIZES:


Is your magical kingdom falling apart? Twelve-year-old Jenny is on the case, whether she likes it or not. Saving the world might sound exciting, but for Jenny it’s starting to get old — even staying in the real world long enough to take a math test would be a dream come true! And when you throw in bloodthirsty unicorns, psychotic clowns, and the most useless gnome sidekick ever, Jenny decides that enough is enough. She’s leaving the adventuring business and not looking back. Or…is she?

POSSESSION, Elana Johnson: 

Vi knows the Rule: Girls don't walk with boys, and they never even thinkabout kissing them. But no one makes Vi want to break the Rules more than Zenn...and since the Thinkers have chosen him as Vi's future match, how much trouble can one kiss cause? The Thinkers may have brainwashed the rest of the population, but Vi is determined to think for herself. 

But the Thinkers are unusually persuasive, and they're set on convincing Vi to become one of them...starting by brainwashing Zenn. Vi can't leave Zenn in the Thinkers' hands, but she's wary of joining the rebellion, especially since that means teaming up with Jag. Jag is egotistical, charismatic, and dangerous--everything Zenn's not. Vi can't quite trust Jag and can't quite resist him, but she also can't give up on Zenn. 

This is a game of control or be controlled. And Vi has no choice but to play.

BODY OF WATER, Sarah Dooley:

Twelve-year-old Ember’s trailer home has been burned in a fire set most likely by her best friend, a boy whose father believes Ember’s family are witches. Yes, Ember’s mom reads Tarot cards as a business. Ember’s friend set the fire to warn the family before his dad did something worse to them. The friend never intended to do so much damage.

Now the family is homeless, and living in a campground. They have no money. Ember’s beloved dog is missing. School is going to start, and Ember and her sister have no clean clothes, no notebooks. The only place Ember feels at peace is floating in the middle of the lake at the campground. She has to make a fresh start. Can she?


Jacob Wonderbar is used to detentions, but when a spaceship crashes near his house, he finds himself in a whole new level of trouble. After swapping a corn dog for the ship, he and his two best friends, Sarah Daisy and Dexter, take off on a madcap adventure. They accidentally cause an epic explosion, get kidnapped by a space pirate, and are marooned on planets like Numonia and Paisley, where the air smells like burp breath and revenge-hungry substitute teachers rule. And that's only the beginning . . . It turns out that there's an entire colony of space humans, and Jacob's long-lost father just might be one of them.

Well, we had a blue theme going until we hit Jacob Wonderbar! Anyway, I hope you use these prizes as extra motivation to get all the word count in that you can this week! I will be hosting morning Practice Rooms, and I hope to see some #tourdewriting twitter challenges! Let's finish strong. Make sure to give me your final word counts before midnight on Friday!!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Are you Ready to RUMBLE--Final Week of the Tour de Writing

It's that time in the Tour de Writing. The final week. Time to break free from the peloton. Time to sprint away from the group. Time to fix that yellow jersey in your mind's eye and go after it. Time to write. Just write.

It's been a close race thus far:

Yellow Jersey--Overall:


Marisa is in the lead with 27,729 revision points. She is proudly on the podium wearing the yellow jersey, for most points overall. Watch out, Marisa, you have a definite target on your back!

Green Jersey--Drafting:

Jon narrowly grabs the green sprinting jersey with 20,290 drafting points. Better write fast to keep that jersey, Jon!

  Alicia, a newcomer in the 2011 Tour, is breathing down Jon's neck with a crazy awesome 19,855 points. Less than 500 points separate first and second place in the drafting category. Write on!

Kris is holding strong with 11,858 drafting points. Nice job, Kris!

  Anita is making great strides with 8,000 drafting points!

  Kelly is making progress with 1,815 points! Way to go, Kelly!

  Fida had her strongest week last week, and is up to 1,791 points. Fab, Fida!

Polka dot jersey--Revising

Tina is holding tight to the red polka dot jersey with 19,235 points. Impressive, Tina!!

White Jersey--Drafting and Revising

 Lynn holds strong to the white jersey with 17,160 points. Yay Lynn!

 Taffy is coming up strong with a fantastic 9,412 points. Great job, Taffy!

 I'm holding the back of the revising and drafting pack with 5,371 points. I'm going to have to have a stellar writing week to place!

Great job to all! Any progress during the summer months is a definite achievement! Now, set your sights on grabbing, or holding onto one of these jerseys. Anyone wearing a jersey at the finish line wins a fabulous prize (more on that tomorrow!). Make sure to stop by here on Friday and give me your final tallies BEFORE MIDNIGHT to be eligible for a prize!!

Onward and Upward!! (Feel free to trash talk as necessary in the comments!)

Also, I will be hosting early morning TPRs while Tina escapes to vacationland. Why don't you come join me--I might need some prodding to remember to get up each morning!! They will be held from 8 am est (when you officially unplug to write) until 9 est, when we join back to talk about our progress. Look for me in The Practice Room tomorrow and everafter!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Monday Meeting and Anita's Middle Grade Release, A SCARY GOOD BOOK

Hello all! It's the very last week of the Tour de Writing. You have until midnight on Friday to write enough words to win a PRIZE!

And, to give you even more motivation, Anita's latest self-pubbed kids' ebook, A SCARY GOOD BOOK, is released. See what you can do with your wordcount?

Cool cover, huh?

Here's the blurb:
Twelve-year-old Hannah Stone tells everyone she’s “okay,” but that’s a total lie. Two years ago her dad was killed by a hit-and-run driver. The detective in charge of the case never found the driver, but he somehow managed to get Hannah’s mom to fall in love with him. The jerk. And speaking of love, Hannah’s developed a major crush on Ollie Ortega—he’s her best friend and the only one she can talk to—a crush on Ollie is so not a good idea. 
Also not a good idea? Searching for a missing person with no help from the police. But that’s exactly what Hannah does when she finds messages in library books—underlined words that point her in the direction of someone who needs her. 
And, suddenly, Hannah’s even further from okay. She breaks into a library, gets caught in a kidnapper’s web, and is stalked by her dad’s killer, all in an effort to save a life…but can she save herself, too?
Sounds thrilling! And priced smartly at 99 cents. I absolutely loved Anita's last ebook--EARTHLING HERO, and can't wait to download this book to my NOOK (although I read Earthling Hero on my computer--you don't need an e-reader to read an ebook). 

Now that I know what my reading plans are this week, let me think about writing plans. Oh, yes. I plan to pull ahead enough in the ranks to snag a jersey by Friday. What's your plan?

I was hoping to put up standings this morning, for the Tour, but I am taking the kids to the National History Museum in Boston. So, stay tuned for standings tomorrow, the announcement of the last two prizes on Wednesday. Big stuff this week! 

Friday, August 5, 2011

Tour de Writing Check in, Week 4

Before I put out the call for wordcounts this week, for the big Tour challenge, I just want to take a moment out to spotlight a friend of mine, Tina Laurel Lee.

I talk about building community on-line, and then I tweet or throw up a blog post, or play a silly game. But Tina is out there, seriously doing it. She created The Practice Room, a blog open to all, designed for writers to pledge to unplug for an hour, and then come back in real time and chat. Actually talk with a group of writers about...writing.

Last Wednesday, Tina organized for the Practice Roomers to all get together and video chat, oh, and write. It was amazing--I got to meet people that I had been chatting with for months. Tina--thanks for the wonderful community that you are building! I encourage everyone to check out The Practice Room--there will be further google+ video get-togethers, and other crazy wonderful stuff happening soon. And, as always, everyone is invited--no--encouraged to come. And if you need some hand holding, just email me (hegkelly at gmail dot com). I'm always happy to help.

Thanks Tina, for creating places for us to hang out, learn about craft, and build our friendships. Your contribution to writerly community has been invaluable!!!

It's never to late to join in!

Now, on to the Tour de Writing. With only one more week to go, every word counts. So count carefully.  In today's post, please tell me:

1. Your word count for the week.
2. How many TPRs you attended last week (including the epic video chat!)
3. How many twitter challenges you competed in, hashtag, #tourdewriting
4. Whether you are revising, drafting, or both.

Phew! One more week to go. I'm off to figure out my own tally. Where did those post-its get to?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Tour de Writing Standings, Week 3

The Tour de Writing is going on strong, with ten impressive competitors this year! There is still time for newcomers to come play, before the August 12th finish line. It's all about wordcount, and community writing.

So, here is how everything is shaking out:


Jonathon Arntson
 is ahead with a grand total of 15,840 points. How does it feel to wear yellow, this year, Jon? Can anyone unseat J?

 Tina Laurel Lee is blazing forward, and looking great in that polka-dotted jersey, with 12,535 points (and I am missing last week's count (week 3) from Tina, so she might even be further ahead.)

   Marisa Hopkins is coming up fast behind Tina with 9,112 revising points. However, I am missing TWO weeks of word counts for Marisa, so who knows where she really is!!


Kristine Asselin sprinted into the lead with 8,660 drafting points. She looks awesome in her green jersey!


Anita is in second place in the category of drafting, with 1,400 points. (However, I'm missing both weeks 2 and 3 wordcounts for Anita. She might be breathing down Kris' neck!)

    Kelly is coming up strong with 615 drafting points. (Kelly, I'm missing week's 3 wordcount for you, as well.)

   Fida I is writing strong at 186 points. (Fida, I'm missing week's 2 and 3 wordcounts for you too.)

Revising and Drafting

We have a newcomer to the category of revising and drafting, and she is wearing white!

   LynNerd! Lynn is out front with a crazy 10,557 points. Woo-hoo Lynn! You wear white well!

   Taffy is writing strong at 5,574 points. 

   I'm pulling up the rear with 2,801 revising and drafting points. But, watch out, Taffy and Lynn--I've already done a #tourdewriting twitter challenge this week, and a Practice Room. I'm coming for that white jersey!

Nice job, everyone. If you have been remiss in sending me your 2nd or 3rd week's tallies, please email me at hegkelly at gmail dot com. (Also email me if your total is incorrect!)

You only have this week, and next week to unseat a front runner, so write hard, and get me those tallies each Friday. Remember, there are PRIZES to be had!! 

In other Tour de Writing news, Tina is hosting a special google+ video chat at 2 today in lieu of a Practice Room chat. So exciting to embark on a new era of party writing! Email Tina (tina dot laurel at gmail dot com) if you want to come. It's open to all (as always)!

Congrats to all those jersey winners! Maybe one week, I'll finally nab one. :)  

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Derailed No Longer

Hello everyone!

I just wanted to stick up a quick post, asking for updates. I am (finally) back from vacation, and ready to dig into the Tour de Writing standings. Hopefully I'll post them tomorrow. :) And, yes, I know I missed an entire week of standings. Sigh. I just couldn't manage it during vacation.

I've been writing today, and am happy to jump right back in--the vacation was great for brainstorming some of the plot issues I'd been struggling with. So YAY!

I even did a #tourdewriting challenge this am on twitter (thanks @KristineAsselin!). Hopefully tomorrow I will be in the Practice Room, and writing more. So, let me know this week's goals, and please post last week's word counts on last Friday's post.

Bear with me, as I slide back into the groove of things. Who is insane enough to organize a completely convoluted, confusing but UTTERLY FUN writing challenge while she is on vacation? OH, THAT WOULD BE ME. Anyway. The Tour de Writing continues until August 12th, so feel free to jump on board if you want to up your word count (or revision count) this summer.

What's your writing goal this week?

Do you have a Tour de Writing goal this week? Mine is to move forward, to continue to revise, and to get this thing rolling!