Thursday, December 16, 2010

To Get To That Center Of A Tootsie Roll Pop

How many licks does it take to get to the end of a revision?

I had a great NaNo this year.  I didn't write 50,000 words, but I did give myself permission to start a new novel.  It was something that I needed to do, but for some reason just hadn't.  My MG revision was my single focus, and I felt panicked about the idea of starting something new.  I don't have a ton of time to write, and I thought that if I spread myself thin, then I wouldn't be able to finish my revision. But I also knew that drafting taps into a different part of my creativity--a necessary one.  Maybe I could be even more productive if I allowed myself to work on a few things simultaneously.  So I NaNoed a new novel, and I am having a great time with it.  That novel and the revision are rolling forward.

But the amount of time I have spent revising this one MG novel brings to mind this old Tootsie Pop commercial.  Just how long does it take to get to the center (read: end) of a revision?  How many licks does it take to polish off a book? It's a frustrating question, one that makes me compare my process to the writing process of others.  And comparing can lead me to say things like: "so-and-so can revise a book in a year.  What is wrong with me that I'm not there yet?"  It's dangerous.  And it's one of the reason why I collect so many journeys from other writers.  If you haven't read the Friday Journey Toward Publication Interviews, please check them out.  ------------------------>

I love that everyone has their own process. I love finding out how others get to their center.  And I love how there is magic involved.  How you work so hard, plug away, toil with words, and then *CRUNCH*--the perfect solution comes to you.  Whether by talking to a crit partner, or just letting your brain work it out, the magic happens.  Things come together.  There's that satisfying crunch. The point where things fall into place.  A bit of magic. You hit that tootsie roll middle and know that you're on to something great.

How do you get your crunch?  How are you balancing writing and blogging with the holiday rush?  (Hopefully a bit better than I am! :)) How many licks does it take you to get to the end of a polished book?

And maybe the question really is: How many crunches does it take to get to the center of a revision? How many crit partners?  How much magic?  How much toil.  The world may never know. :)

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Giving and Receiving

I always feel as though the months of November and December are the NaNo equivalent of charitable giving.  I try to be charitable all year round.  But in the months surrounding Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas, there are so many opportunities.  And, giving at this time helps me focus on the spirit of the holidays.

In that vein, LitWorld is sending books to Liberia and Sierra Leone.  Their goal is to send a 20-foot container filled with thousands of books, which will go directly into the hands of children.  My favorite Christmas memories as a child always included squirreling away in a cozy corner with all my new books.  I can't imagine what my life would have been like without having owned a single book as a child.

You may send a gently used or new book to this address before December 31st:

LitWorld Holiday Book Drive C/O
Deacon Sharon Brennen
Christian Pre-School
Dobbs Ferry Lutheran Church
43 Ashford Ave
Dobbs Ferry, New York 10522

Or, you can visit the Litworld site, to find out where to drop off books if you are local to NYC.

On the writing front, Tina is whipping me back into shape.  When I have trouble finding time (or motivation) to write everyday, Tina cracks her whip.  She'll do it for you too.  Just come write with us for an hour at the practice room, and see how productive you can be.  It's not scary at all, unless you have a whip phobia.  Join us!

Happy Hanukkah all!  I leave you with a message from the LitWorld website:

"Just one book can change a life. Imagine what joy that one book can bring to a child who has never held a book before, and what a difference it can make in that child's life!"

Monday, November 22, 2010

Monday Meeting, A Queer Divine Dissatisfaction

Martha Graham picture from
Hello all, welcome to Monday!

On last Wednesday's post, my friend Martha left an amazing quote in the comments here, and I hope that she doesn't mind that I bump it up here--I really love it. It's a quote from dancer and choreographer, Martha Graham.
There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. ... No artist is pleased. [There is] no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.
I really feel that openness is the best way to live and write--being open to opportunity whether that opportunity presents itself within me, or within the world in general.  And I love this quote because it doesn't sugar coat, but speaks to truth--the truth about living within dissatisfaction, but a dissatisfaction which spurs us to create.

What do you see in this quote?  How open are you to your own talent?  How dissatisfied are you?  What will you do with that dissatisfaction this week?

And, a sidebar on being open to the universe--Martha (not the dancer, but the writer friend) and I had our first children at the same time, lived in the same town, and grew a friendship through learning how to be mothers. We both moved away from that town, and into the same new town.  :) Regardless of this, we lost touch.  Occasionally, we bumped into each other around town, but not as much as one might think.  Then I met Anna, who introduced me to Nandini, who "introduced" me to Martha.  LOL.  I am so happy to be reconnected with this amazing friend! Thanks Martha!  

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Happy Belated Birthday, Super Grover!!

Happy Belated Birthday to my awesome husband, seen in this photo as Celtic's fan, Super Grover!! Yay for birthdays!! We had a great time, going out to dinner to a Teppanyaki style Japanese restaurant.  VOLCANO!!

I want to say a special thanks to my husband for all his support right now--I'm feeling a little lost towards my writing these days, and it definitely leaks into every other part of my life.

Writing takes such a long time (I was heartened when I read John Green's pep talk for NaNo-ers, and found out it takes him three years to churn out one book) that I cycle in and out of periods of feeling like I'm beating my head against a wall.  That even though my writing is getting to the next level through difficult revision, even though I have several other books waiting in the revision queue, even though I know I am moving forward, I don't feel the momentum.  I feel mired in mud.  Because for all intents and purposes, writing isn't even my part-time job.  I spend an hour or two writing a day, on a good day.  And it's hard to feel like a career is moving forward with this kind of time commitment.  I thought that writing tons of words every day for NaNo would cure that, but each word I type reminds me of how long I will revise this current project.  And it discourages me.

I've also been exercising every other day, which really zaps the writing time on those days.  So, I may be finding some kind of balance, but I'm not feeling balanced.

And my husband, who doesn't write novels, who doesn't know how incredibly long it takes to complete one (although by now, he's getting an inkling), is nothing but supportive.  He believes in me and my writing, and he always lets me know.  He puts up with my malaise, and frustration, without even knowing why.  Without him and his support, I wouldn't be wearing my writer cap right now.

Happy Birthday, Super Grover.  Thanks for always getting me through the roughest stuff, and believing in me even when I don't. Maybe Super Grover will even become my 200th follower!!


Monday, November 15, 2010

Monday Meeting, Happy Belated Birthday, Cowgirl!

Phew.  I made it in to the "office" today.  So many weeks fly by when I can't get to our meeting. You know, where you and I make goals for the week, and then dish about how writing is going? I know, it's been awhile. And as excuses go, I have some good ones.  For last week, anyway:

Last Monday was Cowgirl's 5th birthday. Here we are celebrating with an ice cream and baby dolls. Everything was pink, and Cowgirl had a blast.

We had more celebrations last week, but I will save them for the next post.

On the writing front, I am way behind on my NaNo words.  I haven't thrown in the towel, but it is likely that November may be the busiest month of the year for me, even without NaNo.  I did have an excellent breakthrough thought this morning on how to move forward with the novel.  So, we'll see!  Thanks to all my crit partners for hanging in during this hectic time. :) 

I don't think I've talked all that much about my NaNo project on the blog. I'm drafting a dystopic YA.  Squarely YA.  It's not cuspy at all.  I recently switched tenses, which is always fun mid-draft, and I am thinking of narrowing my focus from two POV's to one.  I'm having fun with the story, and just got over the whole 'why the heck am I writing drivel and pretending it's a novel?' bump.  So, in my estimation, it should be all good to the end, right?  And, I'm just about to blow something up, so that should be really good. :)

My only goal is to move forward with the story, and to take a look at my MG revisions.  I'm not tasking myself to NaNo word counts, but I'm still full of hope that I'll get those back on track.  

How are you doing?  What are you working on?  Gotten over any humps recently??  Have a great week!  

Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday Feature: Journeys Toward Publication and Beyond: Sarah Dooley

Welcome to another Friday Feature.  I am tickled to introduce Sarah Dooley.  I love her! Her depth and humor show through every blog post. When I stop by to read a post, I find myself laughing or crying. Or both.  

She's one of those people that I would just love to meet.  

And I loved her novel, LIVVIE OWEN LIVED HERE. Loved it. 

Let's dig right in, shall we?   

As a child, Sarah Dooley lived 24 different places, including an abandoned post office, a tent, and a red cargo van. She now lives in West Virginia with her partner and their assortment of dogs, cats, and horses. When she is not writing, she has the pleasure of teaching, and being taught by, children with special needs.

Sarah--your debut novel, LIVVIE OWEN LIVED HERE came out August 17th! Woo-hoo! Tell us a little about the book itself.

LIVVIE OWEN LIVED HERE is the story of a teen with autism trying to find a home for her family after an eviction she thinks is her fault.

What sparked your interest to write this particular book?

I wrote LIVVIE as part of a class writing project I required of my students. Because I was writing alongside many writers on the autism spectrum, and because my sister and niece both have forms of autism as well, I began writing from the point of view of a child on the spectrum.

How did you catch the eye of an agent, and what changed in your writing life after your agent came on the scene?

I would be lost without my agent. She provides guidance, support, and clarity as I navigate the publishing world, about which I know little. As for how I caught her eye, I just sent her a query letter and sample pages and I guess she saw something she liked.

Yay, another slush pile success story! What were revisions with an editor like? Was it smooth sailing once a publisher picked up your book?

LIVVIE was my first book, so I had the luxury of having about 15 people read it before I sent it to my agent. Then my agent helped to polish it some more. That meant it had already been through several revisions by the time it sold. After a relatively light round of revisions with my editor, the book was ready to go to the copy editor and beyond.
Because my second book sold before I wrote it, it was a lot less polished when I sent it to my agent and editor. My editor and I recently completed a round of revisions, and let me just say that I need to buy her a nice pen, because she's used up a lot of ink in the margins of this manuscript. But I'll say this, too: I'm in good hands. My editor is wonderful and insightful, and I trust her completely with this book. It's going to be a lot stronger thanks to her skill.

It sounds like you have a wonderful team behind you!  So, what has been your highest high? Your lowest low?

Although there have been a number of amazing joys on this journey, I think the very highest high was getting to tell my parents that the book had sold. I didn't have minutes on my pre-paid cell phone, so I had to wait until a school day to call them and tell them. My mother guessed halfway through my sentence what I was saying, and she finished the sentence with me. It was a very cool moment.

As for lows, last February, right about the time I got a peek at the amazing cover art for LIVVIE, I also got word that a cherished writing mentor and beloved friend had passed away unexpectedly and under tragic circumstances. For a long while after, it was difficult to get excited about Livvie or much of anything else. I mourned my friend and also the books she would never get to write. I briefly considered dedicating the novel to her, but this novel truly belongs to my students.

Sarah--I'm so sorry for your loss--I can't imagine.
Has anything surprised you on this journey?

Honestly, there has not been a moment of this journey that has failed to surprise me. I still stop in my tracks when I see my book on a store shelf. I elbow my husband, who is quite patient with my lingering shock. I point and whisper, “Hey, you know who wrote that?” And he rolls his eyes and hides a smile and says, “Who?” And I say, “Me!”
I hope it never completely sinks in.

I love that!  What are you currently working on?

I'm 30,000 words into a new YA novel, and all I'll say about it is that it's a little more fast-paced than my first two books. It's a blast to write!

What made you start to write seriously?

I've always loved to write, but I didn't always dedicate time and energy to it. After spending weeks preaching to my students about taking writing seriously, I started to hear what I was saying. When I jumped into the writing project alongside them, I jumped in wholeheartedly.

What is a favorite blog post that you have written?

My blog was better when I taught public school. I think this post about perspective is my favorite. It involves gym class, phonemic awareness, and mangoes.

What online resource have you found most helpful?

Verla Kay's Blueboards have been invaluable! But I never would have written my first novel if not for National Novel Writing Month, and I spend a lot of time on that site as well.

What has been your biggest trial in writing?

I have a very difficult time getting past page 30. I love writing beginnings. But around page 31, I tend to run out of steam. If I can make it to 45, I can make it to the end.

What tricks have you acquired to make you write or create when you don’t feel up to writing?

I like to use Write or Die by Dr. Wicked, set on kamikaze mode. I don't like to see my words disappear!

You've got guts, using the kamikaze mode! Sarah, what is your practical goal with your writing? Do you have a reach-for-the-stars goal that you would like to share?

My practical goal is to keep writing honestly. My reach-for-the-stars goal is to train my cat to move when I need access to my revision notes.

If you do train your cat, send me the handbook.  I have similar feline troubles!  If you could create the perfect place in which to write, what would it look like?

I've got it already. It's an L-shaped desk in the corner of my office, with a coffee pot on one side of my computer and a cat on the other. I mean, if I could hone it just a bit, the cat would prefer to sit on manuscript pages I've already revised, rather than the ones I'm still working on, but it's pretty close to perfect as-is.

If you could be a character in a book, and live within their world, what character would you be?

I think I would be Ginny from SUMMER PONY by Jean Slaughter Doty. In fact, I spent most of my childhood trying to be Ginny from SUMMER PONY. Some summer days, I still try.

What other distractions are in your life?

My life is rich with wonderful, worthwhile distractions. My partner and I got married this summer after six years together. I'm teaching in a new autism program and I love it so far. I've got a wonderful family, sweet pets, and I live in a beautiful city. Plus my apartment is only six blocks from the public library.

And, just because I’m curious, coffee or tea?

Oh, goodness, coffee. And lots of it. Did I mention that I do not have to get up from my desk chair to pour a second cup?

Heather, thank you so much for the great questions!

Yay, thanks so much for doing this Sarah! I wish you all the best, for you, and for LIVVIE OWEN LIVED HERE!!  Everyone, make sure to leave Sarah a question or comment, and she'll stop by to answer them. Then, make sure to check out her blog and website, facebook, and BOOK.  

Friday, November 5, 2010

Building Up and Backing Up

I am postponing the Friday Feature until next week, so I just wanted to check in and see how everyone is doing.  Next week I should get back to my blogging schedule, with the Monday Meeting, Friday Feature, and riff-raff in between.

On the writing front, I'm enjoying attacking my new manuscript, building it up, laying that foundation.  Hoping all the cups will stay up.  Hoping it doesn't disappear from my computer.  Yesterday, while I was shooing a kitten off the computer keyboard...
 ...I accidentally hit 'control', a kitten walked across the keys, and *poof* I found myself staring at a blank screen.  Completely blank.  Manuscript GONE. Not freaking out (much), I hit what I thought was undo (everyone can weigh in about what this actually might be--maybe I should read the laptop manual) without success.  I ended up quickly saving the new document under a new name, so that yesterday's file stayed saved with the old name.  But I lost the day's words, and had to rewrite the scene.  Which, to be honest, was fine.  It's ALWAYS better the second time around.  But, a cautionary tale, nonetheless. Backup. Backup Backup.

Especially when there are such accomplices underfoot.
Hopefully my manuscript will last longer than this cup tower!

How's your writing life?  Have you had an close calls, or computer SNAFUs recently?   How are you keeping your cups stacked up?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday Feature: Journeys Toward Publication and Beyond: Jeff Hirsch

Welcome, everyone, to another addition of the Friday Feature.  This morning, we're talking with Jeff Hirsch.  I honestly can't remember what link clicked me through to Jeff, but once I landed at his blog, I immediately wanted to know more about him and his path towards greatness.  So, I backtracked through his blog.  I especially love this haunted post (which fits in so nicely with our Halloween weekend), and this post about his journey.  Go ahead, click through.  We'll wait. *twiddling thumbs*

You're back? And properly inspired? Great. Clearly, I went all fan-girl on Jeff, and invited him over here.  And, here he is!  Help me give Jeff a warm welcome by leaving him a question or high five in the comment section here, as he'll be stopping by to hang out with us. 

Jeff Hirsch grew up in Richmond, VA and received an MFA in Dramatic Writing from UC San Diego. He now lives in Queens, NY and works at a non-profit in the ad industry. Besides writing, Jeff enjoys cooking, fire eating, escaping from a straitjacket (while standing up or hanging from the ceiling by his ankles), and trying not to get obsessive about politics. Jeff's first novel The Long Walk Home, will be released in the fall of 2011 by Scholastic. You can follow his journey to publication at or 

Spoiler alert--do NOT click through that twitter link unless you did NOT fall asleep on the couch last night halfway through Project Runway! *quietly sobbing* *collecting self for rest of the interview*

Jeff, your book, THE LONG WALK HOME, will be published by Scholastic in the Fall of 2011. How exciting!! Tell us a bit about the book.

Well, one thing is that it almost certainly won't be called The Long Walk Home for very much longer. We're working on a new title now and I hope to let everyone know what it is soon. Heck, I hope to know what it is soon.
The book follows a scavenger named Stephen and his father twenty years after The Collapse, when America was wiped away by a nearly apocalyptic war with China. When their decision to risk it all to save the lives of two strangers leaves his Dad dreadfully injured, Stephen must lead them to safety in a lost remnant of the Pre-Collapse world. There, Stephen falls in with Jenny Tan, the wild child town outcast, bringing him into violent conflict with a group that is determined to remake the world that was, no matter the cost.

What has been the highest high, and lowest low while working on this book toward publication?

The highest was definitely the day of the auction. I don't know that I'm a good enough writer to adequately describe how exciting and strange a day that was. The lowest? I think it was when I finished the 2nd (or was it the 3rd?) draft then realizing I needed to delete the last 100-150 pages of the book and start over.

What made you start writing seriously?

Way back when, I was an actor. I studied acting in college then moved up to NY to throw myself into that life. I went out on lots of auditions and there was of course a lot of rejection. I remember one night in particular. It was a couple years into my time in NY and I had just gotten home after slogging through torrential rains and cold after a lackluster 8 hours at my day job. I didn't feel all that well and I had an audition later that evening. Sitting there in my dreary little apartment, I knew there was no way I was going back out there to that audition. That's when it occurred to me that if I loved acting, really loved it, a little rain and cold wouldn't get in my way. I thought about what I did love that much and the answer was writing. Soon after that I quit acting and got to writing.

How great that you had a self-aware moment like that! How did you connect with your agent, and get that first book into the publisher’s hands? Has it been smooth sailing from there?

I got to Sara (The delightful Sara Crowe of Harvey Klinger) through a run of the mill query. I read about her on Publisher's Marketplace, liked that she was very highly rated and seemed to represent my kind of stuff. Once I hooked up with Sara things have been, knock on wood, pretty smooth.

I love hearing when agents picked up writers through the slush pile!  Yay! Jeff, what has surprised you most on your journey toward publication?

Beyond that it actually happened? I guess that things happen very very slowly until something happens (like signing with Sara) and then they happen very very fast. The switch was extremely disorienting and extremely exciting.

What are you currently working on?

Well, it's currently called Magisterium though, again, that will almost certainly change. Maybe to The Queen of Birds. Maybe to The Air is a River Too. Who knows? It's a genre-bending story about a girl named Glenn who just wants to get back home but the world has other plans for her.

Ooo, genre-bending.  Not sure exactly what that means, but it sounds AWESOME! What are your writing habits? Do you have a set schedule or time of day that you set aside for writing? What do you do when you get stuck?

I write every morning before work from 5:51-8:01AM. I know that sounds totally bizarre, but I swear it's true. I have a tendency to be extremely rigid about schedules and for some reason those times stuck and now that's my window of writing almost without fail every day. Sometimes inspiration strikes or I have a deadline and I'll work outside of that time but it more or less stays in that box.

When I get stuck I try to at least write badly. Just keep typing at all costs. I think a lot of times the reason I get stuck is an aversion to writing something I know isn't good. I try to remember that, especially when writing a rough draft, it's all bad. The only thing you can do is keep moving forward. You'll make it good later.

What has been your biggest trial in writing?

Hanging in there. Honestly, that's the toughest thing. I wrote for 6 or 7 years after grad school and no one was interested in my work. No one. I can't tell you how many times I wondered if I should just bail and, I don't know, get a job at a bank or something. Whew! That's one seriously weird life change narrowly avoided.

How has the blogging and on-line community changed your connections with other writers?

Yes. I, uh, have them now. Before I was writing YA I was a playwright so most of my writer friends are from that world. Twitter and blogs helped me come in touch with a lot of great people in the kid's books world, especially the mighty ladies of the League of Extraordinary Writers blog, which I count myself lucky to be a part of.

What is a favorite blog post that you have written?

Probably this one.

It's my take on the reasons for the proliferation of dystopian books for kids.

Wow Jeff--I love this line in that post:

"I think that idea, the idea of being able to hit the reset button on a too complicated world, is what drew me to writing a book like this." 

That resonates with me.  Now, tell us about a book that has impacted your writing life.

Two really. Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising made me an obsessive reader as a kid. MT Anderson's Feed made me want to write YA.

What is your practical goal with your writing? Do you have a reach-for-the-stars goal that you would like to share?

Well, when I'm not suffering from one of my frequent delusions of grandeur (Printz awards! Giant advances! A pony!) I think I'd just like to be the kind of writer you can count on seeing one good book a year from. If more than that happens that'd be great, but that's what I'm shooting for.

If you could create the perfect place for you to write in, what would it look like?

I actually like my writing space a lot. I write sitting on our couch with a computer on my lap, a cat at my feet begging for attention and my wife sleeping peacefully in the room behind me. It's all very still and quiet.

And, just because I’m curious, coffee or tea?

Both actually. One large cup of coffee in the morning and then I move to tea during the day.

Oh, and do you NaNo?

Nope, never have. Is it fun?

I think it's fun.  I think others might think it torture.  Thanks, Jeff, for the fantastic interview!  

Everyone remember to leave a comment here, before heading over to Jeff's blog to give him some love.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


I just wanted to pop in for a moment, and tell you that there will be a FABULOUS Halloween Party at 11 PM EST Sunday night in Tina's AWESOME THE PRACTICE ROOM.  Not enough adjectives for you yet?  Then stop on by!! We'll be chatting about all things writing until the clock hits midnight when we all turn into pumpkins the NaNo-ers start pumping out words.  You don't have to be a NaNo-er to come by and hang out--Tina is open and affirming.  She really is--she's very honest and very supportive.  And, I guarantee a good time and laughs.  So, consider yourself invited!!

And, if you are doing NaNo, come and FRIEND ME already.  I'm HeatherLane over there (the old die hard blog followers will remember that alias!)

Oh, and you are all also cordially invited to another SUPERCALIFRAGILISTICEXPIALIDOCIOUS interview HERE tomorrow.  Please stop by!!

If you are unsure about what to expect at the Practice Room, Tina explains it here.  I'm hoping that Tina will leave the chat room up all night, in case I need to go back in for support and silliness.  Not that I'm going to be writing ALL NIGHT LONG. But, yay, so much fun!!  See you here tomorrow, and there on Sunday!!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Friday Feature: Journeys Toward Publication and Beyond: Janice Hardy

Welcome to the start of a new session of Friday Features.  Where we grab our coffee, read a little about a fellow writer, and start a conversation with them in the comment section. Welcome all!

I'm so excited to introduce this week's interviewee, Janice Hardy!  Janice just published her second book in a trilogy, BLUE FIRE and is having fun touring the blog-o-sphere talking about her new book and her journey.  Janice's blog is choc full of great writing tips and perspective, so give her a shout-out over there!  Don't forget to check out her website, filled with current news about her books. And, she recently participated in Anna's Letter To Myself series.  Which is such a fabulous way to get to know a writer, so check out Janice's letter!

Here's Janice in her own words:

A long-time fantasy reader, Janice Hardy always wondered about the darker side of healing. For her fantasy trilogy THE HEALING WARS, she tapped into her own dark side to create a world where healing was dangerous, and those with the best intentions often made the worst choices. Her books include THE SHIFTER, and BLUE FIRE from Balzer+Bray/Harper Collins. She lives in Georgia with her husband, three cats and one very nervous freshwater eel.

Yay!  Thanks for being here, Janice! Janice, your book, BLUE FIRE, the second book in THE HEALING WARS TRILOGY came out October 5th. How exciting!! Tell us a bit about what to expect when we pick up BLUE FIRE.

Nya and her friends are on the run, doing their best to avoid soldiers and the Duke’s trackers. But things go wrong (as they always do) and Nya winds up in Baseer, where she discovers life in the enemy’s city isn’t any better than life in Geveg. Probably even worse, and she’s pulled right into the middle of it.

Ooo, sounds exciting! What has been your highest high, and lowest low while working on BLUE FIRE?

The lowest low was during the third or fourth draft when I was convinced the first book had been a fluke and I really couldn’t write. I’d never be able to turn this mess into something someone would want to read. The highest high was when the reviews started coming in and they were even better than the first book. I had turned the mess into something good!

Tell us a little about how THE HEALING WARS TRILOGY came about. Did this second book surprise you in any way as you wrote it?

It first started about nine years ago when I was playing with common fantasy ideas and trying to turn them on their heads. I thought about healing and how it was usually portrayed as something good. I started wondering if I could make it used for evil. But it was a bad story at that point, no more than an outline, and I stuffed it in a drawer. A few years ago I pulled it back out, and the pain shifting idea still resonated with me. I started thinking about that world, and that led to the whole buying and selling pain idea, and the story developed from that.

BLUE FIRE was a constant source of surprises and not all of them good (grin). I was surprised at how hard it was to write, most of all. Surprised that I pulled it off in the end. I was surprised to find one of my characters had been keeping a major secret from me. There’s also something about Nya I hadn’t been expecting. There was quite a lot, actually.

Janice, what made you start writing seriously?

I decided I wanted to see my books on the shelves. I think I was also curious if I was good enough to publish. You never really know until you start putting it out there.

How did you connect with your agent, and get that first book into the publisher’s hands? Was it smooth sailing from there?

THE SHIFTER was smooth sailing almost from day one. I’ve never had a book go so well. I pitched my agent at the Surrey International Writers Conference, and ten days later signed with her. I had several other agents interested, and a few offers (one was waiting for me when I got back from the conference) so that sped things up a bit. My agent wanted me to do some revisions (like rewrite the ending) which I agreed with and did (twice). That took four or five months, and then we waited a teeny bit longer because there was an editor she wanted to submit to that was about to launch her own imprint (Balzer & Bray/HarperCollins). My agent felt that editor would like the book. She was right, because B&B bought the whole trilogy.

That's wonderful.  It's nice to hear stories when things go smoothly. What has surprised you most on your journey toward publication and beyond?

That it moved fast from submission to acceptance. Everything I’d ever submitted had always taken forever, and everyone says be ready for the long wait. But my entire query process was six weeks, and my novel submission was a month. I was fully expecting it to take up to a year, but things happened quickly.

Fast is great! What are you currently working on?

Waiting on my revision letter for Shifter 3, and then I’ll be editing that for several months at least. There’s a lot to wrap up in the series and I imagine it’ll take some work to get all the arrows aligned. I’m hoping to start a new book in January, a YA fantasy about an undercover teen spy, but it’ll really depend on when Shifter 3 is done.

Janice, what are your writing habits? Do you have a set schedule or time of day that you set aside for writing? What do you do when you are stuck?

I’m a morning person, so I like to write from about 8 to 11am. I’ll edit in the afternoons or evenings, but the writing is always better early in the day. I’m not an everyday writer, and unless I’m on deadline, I prefer to write for a few days, then take a day off. That keeps me from getting burned out. When I’m stuck, I walk away. Go read, play, do chores, anything to occupy my mind so my subconscious can work on the problem in the background. Taking hot showers also helps. Something about washing my hair helps get the brain working again.

What has been your biggest trial in writing?

BLUE FIRE. They aren’t kidding when they say the second book, especially if it’s a middle book, is the hardest thing you’ll ever write. Second books incorporate all the hard stuff, (tons of backstory, saggy middle problems) and you have to overcome those and write a book that isn’t a rehash of the first or a setup for the third. From a technical standpoint, characterization was something I struggled with for a long time.

What is the most outlandish thing that a fan or aspiring writer has said to you?

Oh wow, I’m not sure. I guess I’ve been lucky so far that nothing really strange has happened. I’ve had some folks tell me about typos, which always struck me as a little odd, since there’s nothing I can do about them once the book is printed. But maybe they’re trying to be helpful in case the book is reprinted.

What marketing tools have you used that have worked to get the word out about your books?

I started blogging, I frequent writer’s forums, I printed business cards for the books that I can hand out when folks ask about them. I do a lot of school visits and various events. Just mostly get out there where people are talking about books.

How has the blogging and on-line community changed your connections with other writers or fans?

It’s let me connect with people all over the world, which is great. I’ve found lots of opportunities from folks online, or forums, or just seeing something on someone’s blog.

What is a favorite on-line resource?

I’d have to say Absolute Write. It has a lot of great info on the main site, and the forums are full of helpful information and people. It’s also a great way to connect with other writers of all levels.

What is a favorite blog post that you have written?

Ooo that’s a toughie. I think Overcoming Adversity Through Adverbs is one of my favorites, because it was something that I figured out could be a huge help while editing, not only to me, but to others. And it was a new way of looking at adverbs as something not to be avoided at all costs, but to use as a first draft tool.

Tell us about a book that has impacted your writing life.

Fiction First Aid, by Raymond Obstfeld and Scene & Structure, by Jack Bickham are two that finally made things click for me. It took a while to get Bickham, but once I did plotting became so much easier.

What is your practical goal with your writing? Do you have a reach-for-the-stars goal that you would like to share?

I just want to keep writing stories that people want to read, (and my editor wants to buy). I want to be able to do this for the rest of my life. As for the reach-for-the-stars goal, a National Book Award would be nice.

That would be very nice! So far, what has been the best part of your writing experience?

Having fans tell me how much they enjoyed my book. I love that thrill you get when you read a really great book, and the thrill is even better when you’re able to provide that for another book lover.

If you could create the perfect place for you to write in, what would it look like?

Comfy chair, a good surface for my laptop that allows me stretch my legs out, good lighting with no glare, nothing distracting in line of sight, but things to look at if I need to take a break and look away. And within reach of drinks and snacks. Maybe a couch for naps or thinking.

Speaking of distractions, tell us about a few in your life.

Three cats who think my mouse pad is for their naps. Computer games that call to me to come play with them. My growing stack of to-read novels. And of course, my husband, but he’s gotten really good at knowing when I need to be distracted or left alone.

And, just because I’m curious, coffee or tea?

Tea for sure.

Oh, and do you NaNo?

Never have, but it would be fun to do one day. I just need a year when I’m not swamped in November.

Now, Janice since we're so excited about your new book--take a moment to plug any author visits, book signings, giveaways or other publicity so we can get on the BLUE FIRE bandwagon!

If you live near Gainesville, GA, I’ll be at Hall Book Exchange on Saturday, October 23 from 2-3pm. They’re doing a 24-hour Read-a-Thon for charity. I’ll also be at Barnes & Noble at the Avenue Forsyth on October 28 from 6-8pm. One of the local middle schools is having their book fair that night and I’ll be signing books. I think that’s it for public events.

Here's the official BLUE FIRE blurb:

Part fugitive, part hero, fifteen-year-old Nya is barely staying ahead of the Duke of Baseer’s trackers. Wanted for a crime she didn’t mean to commit, she risks capture to protect every Taker she can find, determined to prevent the Duke from using them in his fiendish experiments. But resolve isn’t enough to protect any of them, and Nya soon realizes that the only way to keep them all out of the Duke’s clutches is to flee Geveg. Unfortunately, the Duke’s best tracker has other ideas.

Nya finds herself trapped in the last place she ever wanted to be, forced to trust the last people she ever thought she could. More is at stake than just the people of Geveg, and the closer she gets to uncovering the Duke’s plan, the more she discovers how critical she is to his victory. To save Geveg, she just might have to save Baseer—if she doesn’t destroy it first.

Sounds intriguing, Janice!! Everyone can pick up a copy here, and please make sure to check out Janice's website and blog.  After leaving a comment or question here, in the comment section, of course!  Thanks, Janice for being here today.  I really enjoyed getting to more about your journey beyond publication!!  Now, who's going to get this party started??

Monday, October 18, 2010

Monday Meeting: Haunted House

I walked through a haunted house with a few fifth graders yesterday.  And it reminded me of writing.  Or more specifically, it reminded me of what lives in my head as a writer.

When I'm away from writing for a while, and then I have that thought, that "maybe I should open up my novel's word document", well, something jumps out at me.  Something dressed in fluorescent paint, a ghoulish mask, and blood-red fingernails.  Something wielding an ax.  Something that chops up my desire to revise, and scares the hell out of me.  You know. The "what-if-I'm-not-good" monster.  And sometimes I listen to her, and stay away from my revision.  Which only makes her bigger and scarier the next time she jumps out at me.

For some reason, when I'm knee-deep in writing, I can keep the ghoul away.  But if I even take a weekend off, she rears her ugly head.

But, yesterday I got to the other side of the haunted house, and I got to the other side of that *B* in my head too.

And you know what I always find when I wrestle her down so I can get back into my revision?  Some parts of my novel are great, and some aren't.  But the story gets better, stronger, tighter, filled with more tension and depth of character as I revise.  Revision is nothing to be afraid about.

I think.

How's everyone doing this week?  My goal is to revise for at least an hour every day.  To continue revising until Nano, and then see if I can do both.  (What--am I insane?)

What goals do you have?  Do you NaNo?

Happy ghoul hunting to you all!  I hope you are wrestling your writing demons DOWN this week!!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Get Ready, Get Set, Friday Feature!!

Phew.  I'm here.

*poking at the cobwebs*

*giving up*

Halloween calls for cobwebs, anyway.  And why should my blog be cleaner than my house?  Thanks for sticking around through all the dead air here, at Edited.  I'm fired up to jump back in.

I am simmering my new novel until it boils over, right in time for Nano, I hope.  I'm also picking up the revisions and attacking them slowly.  But I am thrilled with how they are coming along, and I'm excited for the next couple of months as a time to pick up the pace after a very slow end-of-summer/beginning-of-fall.

I hope you join me next week when I kick-start the next round of Friday Features.  Upcoming featured writers are Janice Hardy, and Sarah Dooley.

 Janice's book, BLUE FIRE, just arrived on bookstore shelves.  It's the second in THE HEALING WARS series. Congrats, Janice!

And LIVVIE OWEN LIVED HERE, Sarah's debut book, came out August 17th.  Woo-hoo, Sarah!!

So, consider this a homework assignment, if you so choose to accept.  Grab their books from the library or bookstore, and read before the next couple of Fridays.  Not only will you have great questions for the writers about their writing techniques, but you can add to the discussion about their books as well.  And, if you are unfamiliar with the Journeys Toward Publication Friday Feature protocol, check out the interviews in my blog roll over on the right. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------->

To recap: Janice Hardy.  Sarah Dooley.  BLUE FIRE. LIVVIE OWEN LIVED HERE.  An opportunity to talk with these authors on the next two Fridays.  Come hang out.  Enjoy the discussions. I'd love for you to be here.  *hugs* *high fives* fist bumps* 

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Popping the Bubble

Today I'm bursting the small bubble that I've been living in for the past couple of weeks.  We've had an awesome visit with family, and were so sad to see them off to Hawaii.  I wish they could have stayed longer!  I had a ton of fun within the bubble, but now it's time to get back to writing and life on a larger scale.  But those bubble moments are priceless.  When there is nothing in life worth paying attention to except what is right in front of me at the time.  

And, I admit, getting "back into things" (things=writing, and blogs and online stuff) is daunting.  So, as I told a good friend, I'm just going to pretend that I was never away.  I'm starting up my Friday Features again next week, so be sure to stop by and check in during the interviews.  I'm trying to finish revisions before NaNo, and brainstorm enough to start a new project then.  What are you working on this week? 


As you can clearly see, I am not literally inside the bubble.  But Cowgirl and her cousin are. I am the one with the camera in the mirror in the background. 

Monday, September 20, 2010

Monday Meeting: Robert IRL

Recently, I have been trying to get back into the swing of things, after a couple of busy summer non-writing months.  I have taken my writing partner's advice.  Instead of fighting my muse, I am "following my energy; going with the flow." Excellent advice, I believe.  I am not abandoning my revision, but I am working on it in smaller batches of time, and giving it space.  (Pun intended?  Maybe.)  And I am thrilled to be working on something new.  I made a soundtrack, which always helps me get into the writing mood, and into the heads of my characters.  Yay for a breath of fresh air in my writing!

Who gave me such excellent advice?  Why Robert, of course.  Anyone who spends time at Robert's blog probably recognized his voice right away.  But, the most special thing wasn't the advice, or even who was giving it, but the way it was delivered.  IN THE FLESH--THREE-D.

Between hugs and awesome food.

I have severely missed Robert since he moved cross-country, and when we met on Friday, it felt as though time didn't even skip a beat since our last weekly writing meeting, nine months ago.  Time wrinkled, and we fell right back into our routine.  Fabulous routine.

This is our table at Andala. Our cafe. From its website:  Andala, the name of the nightingale’s song, brings the authentic tastes of the Old City of Jerusalem to Central Square in Cambridge. 

How cool is that?!

Andala, for me, is as much about deliciously spicy smells as anything else.  I'm always tempted to tell the waiter, "Bring me whatever that is that I smell."  (I think I've actually said that on occasion.)

  Robert at our table, gazing out at the twinkling lights outside.

How loving and direct is Andala's staff?  And patrons at ease enough to remove their footwear?  Such a homey place!

Here we are together, and another glimpse of the cool Andala atmosphere.

And, finally, on our way out, here's Robert looking all svelte on the outdoor patio.

Sigh.  I miss Robert already.  But at least I know that the next time we talk writing at Andala, it will feel as though no time passed at all between our gatherings.  Because that's what it's like with good friends.

Did everyone notice how much better I'm getting at bringing home proof from my IRL adventures?

Any adventures to report?  What have you been up to?  What is your goal for the week?  How's your writing life?  

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tuesday Monday Meeting: Let's get this roller coaster started!

*That's my awesome husband, daughter and son in the first two cars!*

I've been away from my revisions way too long.  But, I'm gearing up, TODAY--TODAY--to jump back in.  I'm facing the sky as I click slowly up to the top of the hill. Click. Click. Click. Think. Think. Think. Think about revisions, about opening up that document, about re-reading where I left off.  About revising. Think.  Think. Think.

Who's along this roller coaster ride with me?  My husband, giving me support, and room to write--he is the rail that keeps me airborn.  My crit partner Robert, whom I am going to see IRL SOON, is the seatbelt that keeps me in the ride.  Without his early confidence, it would be a completely different ride.

My daily meetings with my coworker Tina keeps my train on the rails, as does chatting with my other coworker Jon.  Last week I met Kris for caramel apple cider (yum), and that added speed to my chugging up the hill.  Thanks Kris!!  Kris is thoughtful and kind, and down to earth--we had a fantastic time talking about writing and books and everything!

All the unpluggers at Tina's The Practice Room give me support in real time--which is invaluable.  Thanks practice roomers! (Oh, and if there is anyone out there who is scared of the practice room--give it a whirl.  It's an incredible tool.)

And when I need to tighten the bolts, I turn to all you and your fabulous blogs.  To give me food for thought and laughs.

And places like WriteOnCon, (go over today for EPIC giveaways!!) and the Blueboards. A lovely collection of people!

Who knew it would take so much to keep me on the rails??  So, if this post seems disgustingly sweet, well, sometimes you just have to say thanks.  So THANKS!!

What are you up to this week?  Any goals?  What kind of roller coaster ride are you on right now?  Who keeps you on the rails?

And, if you're having one of those days--remember the most famous train of all: I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

QUIZ: What Kind of Writer Are You?

When the going gets tough, what kind of writer are you?  Take this unbelievable accurate, scientific quiz to find out!*  Keep track of your answers throughout the quiz, and add up your points below.

1. When wallowing in the I-should-be-writing-but-I'm-just-not-motivated moment, do you:

A. Reach for the Wii remote control to see if you can beat your hula-hoop record of 1,667 swings of the hips.
B. Plan your next IRL get-together with writer friends.
C. Catch up on back Nathan Bransford posts.
D. Pull out that chinese food take-out container.  There must be a forkful of Lo Mein stuck to the bottom!

2. When procrastinating from your epic revision, do you:

A. Check the times of Tina's next The Practice Room to force you to actually unplug for an hour, and then check in with other supportive writers.
B. Take a walk (or run) in the beautiful fall day to get the blood flowing to your brain.
C. Hunt high and low for your emergency stash of Snickers.  Drat, did one of the kids/the dog/your sig. other discover your hiding place?
D. Peruse your blog's sidebar to see if you had possibly missed an interesting post.  Heck, you could comment twice at Tahereh's blog--she'll think you're twice as witty!

3. When your energy is just too low to plug in the laptop to write, do you:

A. Slug out to the store for a coke and a twizzler.  Clearly all you need is a little sugar high to get the juices flowing.
B. Spend four hours crafting that next blog post.  Include links, that picture of you sporting mall hair in the 80s, and a dance-off vlog.
C. Text your writing friend at work.  He's a captive audience, and gives you the what-for when you're all woe-is-me.
D. Hop out of the house to hit the swings with the kids.  Fresh air invigorates the writer's mind.

4. When you want to give up on the long-going project because of that Shiny New Idea, do you:

A. Set the timer, and let yourself draft on that new idea for a while, and then get back to the old project.
B. Run with the new idea and write away, ignoring all other distractions.  Cold cereal is perfect for the kids for dinner.
C. Check out what The Rejectionist says about the themes of your SNI.  She has her talons on the pulse of the publishing industry--you wouldn't dare start any new project unless she said it was HOT.
D. Bake a cake. Cake makes everything better.  And it makes house smells so nice. Mmm. Cake.

5. When your deadline has come and gone, and you're still struggling with the same plot point, do you:

A. Sign up for NANO, even though it is 4 months away**.  It's never to early to start planning your next NaNo novel.
B. Send your chapter to an old trusted crit partner, or a new beta.  Different and fresh eyes may help you gain perspective.
C. Open the Keurig and throw in a fresh K-cup.  Pumpkin Spice is back in season, baby!
D. Read the new batch of queries trashed by The QueryShark.  Distraction is the best thing to get your mind back on track.

6. When you've stared at the blank screen long enough that the blinking black line is burned into your brain, do you:

A. Pour a glass of chardonnay.  Writing flows better when your brain is a little looser.
B. Dance to Karsten's latest vlog.  Man, that dude has moves.
C. Search the internet high and low for Jon.  No, not as a part of the awesome game Where In the Blogosphere is Jon, but really, where is that guy?
D. Log back into the forums at WriteOnCon to read the current feedback to your first five pages.


1. A=3, B=2, C=1, D=4
2. A=2, B=3, C=4, D=1
3. A=4, B=1, C=2, D=3
4. A=2, B=3, C=1, D=4
5. A=3, B=2, C=4, D=1
6. A=4, B=3, C=1, D=2

Tally up your points to see what kind of writer you are:

20-24 points--Writing food junkie.  You're finding yourself more and more often solving problems with your characters by giving them a cupcake.  You know, write what you know.  It would be best for your writing (and your writer's butt) to put down the donut, and back away.  Far away.

16-19 points--Obsessed.  You might be crazy about exercise or writing or food, or all of the above.  But hey, obsession really never hurt any writer, right?  Doesn't every writer need a bit of the crazy to get that novel finished?

10-15--Balanced.  You're a well connected, well supported writer who knows how to set a routine, and lean on writing friends.  It's still a tough road, but you have a system in place to get to the finish line.
Or, you actually oscillate between being an internet junkie, and obsessive, so that you get this balanced score.  The system's not perfect, people.

6-9--Internet Junkie.  You breathe, sleep and eat the internet.  Maybe you should change your title to professional blog writer.  Clearly, the internet is Where You Want To Be.  The upside is that once you finally do finish your book, you will be internet marketing SAVVY!

*Actually, I just made this all up.  EditedToWithinAnInchOfMyLife claims no responsibility for any euphoria or dips in focus that the act of taking this quiz might procure.  Take quiz at own risk. Sole use for purposes of fun only.

**NaNo is not actually 4 months away.  We only have TWO MONTHS to get ready.  Who's with me? Get brainstorming, snowflaking, outlining--whatever is your poison of prep!!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Wednesday Monday Meeting

Hello everyone! I've been missing all of you.

A ton has happened in my real life in the past couple of weeks. I had a long driving trip with the kids, then the start of their school, and I've also been working on my son's newly renovated room.  My husband did an amazing job of totally redoing the space.  It's AWESOME!!

I bet you think you're getting a picture of the room.  Nope.  Instead, feast your eyes on my husband and I meeting DAR WILLIAMS.

My incredible husband recently surprised me with tickets to a Dar Williams concert, and we stuck around to get a picture.  (How cool is that--the surprising and the sticking?!) Dar is one of my favorite musicians--she weaves beautiful stories throughout her songs.  She's also written actual stories--two middle grade books--AMALEE and LIGHTS CAMERA, AMALEE.  See--I'm holding a signed copy in my grubby mitts.

I wasn't sure what to expect when I read AMALEE, but Dar did a wonderful job of capturing what it feels like to be 11.  She has an excellent middle grade voice.

So, this picture is my inspiration to get back into writing after a few summer months off.  Inspiration because my husband is such an amazing every day support, and inspiration because Dar's music helps me get into my writing groove.  My plan for this week?  To just write (revise).  Every. Single. Day.  And to start visiting your blogs again.

How are you getting into your groove?  What's your plan or goal for the week?  How did your summer treat you?  Met any of your favorite famous people recently?  What's your inspiration this week?

Thanks for sticking around during my blogging break!  

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tuesday Monday Meeting

Right now, I feel like this about my revision.  Like I'm driving behind a slow moving, wild, pregnant horse*.  How are you doing?  What are your goals for the week?

I might not be posting again this week, since I'm going on another mini vacation.  Here's hoping the horse gets out of the way!!

*How do you like my Assateague picture?  Very cool place to visit.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Friday Feature: Where Are They Now

Hello, all!!  Welcome to a very special Friday Feature--one I've been thinking about doing for a while.  

Many of my interviewees in my Friday series, Journeys Toward Publication and Beyond, have moved on to yet another level.  I want to take a moment to spotlight their accomplishments.  And give everyone the feeling of progress and forward motion.  Keep your eyes on the prize, people!  It does, can, and will happen.  Here's the proof:

Anna gets a BOOK DEAL!!  

Yay!! Anna's MY UN-FAIRY TALE LIFE will be published by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky in Fall 2011.  Here's where Anna spills the BIG NEWS and describes her book that is soon to be sold IN STORES!!  Here's where Anna talks (at Adventures in Children's Publishing) about how this book wasn't the book that she thought would be THE ONE.  But it was!!  Woo-hoo Anna!  Congrats again!  And, I'm happy to continue the trend I started with Anna for the next person who gets a book deal-- celebratory cheesecake (although I think she got a chocolate mousse).  If that isn't motivation enough, then I don't know what's going to kick you in the butt and get you writing!!  Cheesecake on me!!  Here's Anna's Friday Feature interview, in case you want to say you knew her when... 

Terry Lynn gets an agent!!  And cover art for DOGSLED DREAMS!!

Yay Terry!  Terry signed with Caryn Wiseman of Andrea Brown Literary Agency. ::swoon::  Here's her interview at Adventures in Children's Publishing describing how she snagged her agent.  Here's her post at her blog shouting the news.  And, here is her cover art for DOGSLED DREAMS, which is due out in January 2011!!  Isn't it beautiful?! Oh, and Terry has an awesome new website for DOGSLED DREAMS and an article published this month about Summer Sled Dogs.  Congrats, Terry--and OMG--do you even have time to sleep?  Here's Terry's Friday Feature way back when...

Anita gets an agent!!

Anita signed with Sara Megibow of Nelson Literary Agency. Woo-hoo!! Congrats, Anita!! Here's where she spills the beans, and here is where she outlines how it happened. Here's an interview with Anita at Adventures in Children's Publishing.  Do you see a trend here?  Get thee to the Adventures in Children's Publishing blog posthaste, people!! Clearly, it's where all the coolest people with rising careers go!  Yay Anita!  Here is Anita's Friday Feature interview if you want a blast from the past...


Okay, so it's not exactly a new publishing deal, but I just had to weigh in as soon as I finished Dianne's book, WE HEAR THE DEAD.  I couldn't put it down!! The book sucked me right into Maggie Fox's world (I even cried at one point).  It is a wonderfully written historical fiction.  Dianne, I'd be super happy to treat you to some cheesecake.  :)  Here's Dianne's heart warming Friday Feature, where she told us how her book was published--first through self publishing, and then with Sourcebooks.  What a roller-coaster ride! Soon she'll be telling us about the movie deal, right Dianne?


Last, but most certainly, not least, Erica's second MAGICKEEPERS, THE PYRAMID OF SOULS enthralled my whole family!  If you aren't familiar with this MG series, check it out--you won't be disappointed!  I love all of Erica's books, Adult, and MG alike, and can't wait until she publishes a YA.  She's versatile, and prolific.  And her blog is an amazing gift to writers everywhere.  Yay, Erica!!  Here's Erica's Friday Feature, where she talks about writing the first MAGICKEEPERS...

I hope that everyone has found this update as motivating and encouraging!  If I have missed anyone's big news, please forgive me, and let me know.    And, keep your eye on the promised cheesecake!! 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Congratulations Winners of Tour de Writing! Woo-hoo and Huzzah!

Thanks to everyone who made the Tour de Writing an awesome success! I am so impressed with the progress that everyone made in a short amount of time.  And I know how fickle writing and muses can be.  One thing that I have learned this year is that if I sit down with an open word document, then I will make progress.  I may call it The Practice Room, or unplugging, or ignoring the kids, but it is all forward motion.  And I have also learned that taking breaks and having fresh eyes is just as important.  Thanks R, for the reminder!!

And I am so thankful to be writing in kidlit, where community (writeoncon!) is everything.  If you want to see some writers starting the conversation about hard topics, check out Jon's interview with Marybeth over at Know Diversity.  We are a gifted and empathetic group of people--kidlit is wonderful.

On to the business at hand.  I have some PRIZES to give out!!

Drum roll...

The GRAND PRIZE WINNER of the YELLOW JERSEY is TOM with 61,844 points!

He wins the Tour de Writing!!  Woo-hoo!  Champagne and applauds under the Arc de Triumph for Tom!!

Krystey Belle has won the GREEN JERSEY for most DRAFTED words, with a total of 57,053 points.

Awesome drafting, KB!!

Patricia has won the POLKA DOT, revising jersey, with a total of 56,353 points!

Yay, Patricia, you blew me out of the water!!

And the winner of the WHITE JERSEY, signifying highest points in revising and drafting is Taffy, with 46,606!!

Congrats Taffy!

Congrats to all the participants--Dianne, Marisa, Lily Cate, Jon, Robert, Sarah, Kate, and Tina, and all others who cheered and lurked.  It was an extremely close race, and I'm excited for the atmosphere of writing energy around here.  Thanks for participating!  Please let me know if I didn't tally things up correctly, and I'll make changes.  What a convoluted system I created for my game... (it's been a challenge to get the standings in the correct order.)  I'm already trying to come up with a more straightforward system for the next contest.  :)

Thanks everyone!  Winners, please email me with your address and top two prize choices, and I'll get them in the mail!!

I encourage everyone, in the spirit of writerly community, to go to the winners blogs and get to know them.      Follow them.  Congratulate them!

Check back Friday, where I have a special, where-are-they-now addition of my Friday Feature interviews!

And, how's everyone doing?  I apologize for my spotty posting during my vacation/writeoncon/summer-black-hole-that-I've-fallen-into.  I'm looking forward to September and getting back to my regular posting/commenting schedule!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Last Call for Tour de Writing Tallies and Feedback

For all those waiting for Tour de Writing results, you'll have to wait a little longer.  Bummer, I know.

I am busy finishing up writeoncon things, and tying up loose Tour de Writing business.  On that note, if you participated in the Tour de Writing, and haven't yet emailed me your numbers, (you know who you are) because you were so busy at writeoncon (I mean, we all were, right?!) please email me your final tallies.  You just never know who might win--maybe you.  I know I said that last Wednesday at midnight was the deadline, but this past week was all writeoncon all the time for a lot of people.  So, I want to make sure that nobody misses the chance to be awarded a prize for their hard work!  In case you forgot--my email is hegkelly at gmail dot com.

And, what worked for you for the Tour de Writing?  What would have made it better? I'd love to do another competitive writing game some time (maybe in the winter) and would love any feedback you could give me.  And, next time I'll try to not go on vacation during the darn thing!!

Still feeling my writeoncon high!! How about you?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

An End, a Beginning, and Horses.

Hello!  Thanks for keeping up the Tour de Writing comments in my vacation absence.  We had a blast, visiting Sesame Place, Luray Cavern, Atlantic City, and the horses of Assateaque Island.  Unfortunately no writing took place.  And, if you are paying attention, you will see that we visited PA, VA, NJ, and MD. Phew.  It was indeed a tour of the east coast.

But today is a different story--WriteOnCon begins, and the Tour de Writing ends.  And four people will win prizes!!

I'm buzzing off to check out the writeoncon festivities, but before I go, I want to say thanks to everyone for inspiring all the revising I got done this past month.  The camaraderie and competitive writing was a wonderful incentive to get the work done.  What with vacation, and the natural rhythm of revision, I'm not quite where I wanted to be today, but I am so excited that I am seeing the end of this revision.  Cheers!

So, here is the protocol for the finish line of Tour de Writing:

1. By midnight on Wednesday, please email me (hegkelly at gmail dot com) with your total count--every word written and every word revised between July 5th and today, August 10th.

2. Let me know the total number of practice rooms, or let me know that you already included those point totals in your above total.  1 Practice Room=500 bonus points.

3. Tell me what is your first and second prize choice.  Mockingjay?  Paranormalcy?  Livvie Owen Lived Here?  Or your choice of an awesome Mad Bag!!

4. Tell me whether your word count is drafted words, revised words, or a combination of the two.

Please check back at the end of the week, and take a view of the fabulous winners!!

Congrats to everyone who has participated!!  Thanks for making my crazy competitive writing game a success!

Okay, and I was going to add wonderful pictures to this post, but maybe later, as I just checked out today's schedule for writeoncon, and it's already in full swing!  I'll see you there!