Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Historical Writing Contest

I've been too busy and too sick to blog, so Bish kindly let me copy this verbatim from her blog, even though we probably share some readers. But for those we don't:

The Institute of Children's Literature, is having another one of their wonderful writing contests. This one is calling for Historical Fiction. Go check it out. Your story could win $500 and be published in Children's Writer.
I'm promoting it for several reasons:
1.) I'm a graduate of the Institute. Their courses were a HUGE stepping stone to my getting short stories and articles published in children's magazines.*
2.) I won the last contest they had with my retold Folktale, "Why Dogs Beg."**
3.) I've entered this one.***
Lastly4.) Jan Fields, who faithfully puts out a FREE e-newsletter and to whom you can submit articles to Rx for Writers (and get paid, I've had three articles in Rx) is offering a boat load of children's books for anyone who promotes the Historical Fiction Writing Contest.
Got all that?
I know most of you are novel writers, but it's good to flex your muscles and write something short and focused. S0 check out the contest rules. You might have something that fits.

*I am a graduate and an instructor.
**I also won a contest years ago for contemporary YA : Driving Lessons.
***I cannot since I teach at ICL, but I'd love to since I adore HF.


Saturday, September 18, 2010


My son had his essay chosen for display at school. It was on community. He wrote about baseball, family and church, how great it is to belong and lift each other up. But he was also very honest. That it's difficult when you want to do your own thing and cannot, because you have a responsibility to your community. He's always had this ability to see both sides of the coin, from the time he was a small boy. He's got an old soul. I am so glad we can send him to a Catholic school now. I like that everything is taught through that lens, whether it's literature or science.

It reminds me so much of my own family and writing, how much writing came to me via the family and yet there are days I get no time to write because of all the responsibilities. It is a struggle. But I would have nothing worthwhile to say without my family. And nothing at all, without God.

Monday, September 13, 2010

How Not to Revise

So I've been writing and revising and hating everything ... I want it to be PERFECT!!!! No matter what I try, it's not good. I have scribbled many pages in my notebook and I did not mind one bit. I was trying out various things, learning more about my characters, and if was all fun. But now that I opened up a new document, I feel paralyzed. I type up a sentences and paragraphs and they are all terrible. I tell myself not to delete, but in the morning, I delete everything. Can I scream now? ARRRRRGGGGGHHHHHHH. I feel a tantrum coming on. I feel like a fourth-grader who does not want to have to redo her work.

There is excellent advice over at Kristi Holl's blog ... the trick is to write fast and with with passion. But what if it's all crapola? I have lost all judgment about my work right now. My husband has suggested that I simply write and quit deleting and yet the delete button is my favorite key right now because the screen becomes blank again and I don't have to look at the stuff. He says to cut and paste it somewhere else. I actually do have another document where I talk to myself. Perhaps I should stick it in there ... I've not opened that document in a long time. But I promised Jen, my critique partner I will not delete anything more. We are supposed to meet Wed. and share some pages. I wanted to give her something brilliant to read ... make it worth her while.

Anybody else feel so neurotic?

I have made a decision. This revision does not have to be perfect. It cannot be and will not be perfect. It has to be incrementally better. That's all. Right?


Monday, September 6, 2010

Spilling Ink

What a gem of a writing book! I do enough writing workshops and this is one book I will be recommending to both kids and adults who like to write. The advice on the craft of writing, of getting into the habit, of protecting yourself from writerly neuroses, etc. is all here. It's a book that a kid might even want to pick up again and again, if she were stuck on characters or plot or setting. The authors, Anne Mazer and Ellen Potter, even have some writer exercises, only they call this section: I DARE YOU. How can you resist? Of course, you'll take the challenge. I did! And was better for it. And the illustrations by Matt Phelan give it just the right touch. Now, why don't they have these in grown up books? This one's a winner. If you want a writer's handbook for a young person in your life, or for your self, get thee to the bookstore and pick up: Spilling Ink.

Well, we're well into Sept. and both my kids are in school and I need to go spill some ink. Remember that first draft? Well, it's actually a horrible mess. A revision is in order. I told myself I'd start this weekend and it's almost over. We're still in summer mode even though it's raining here. Well, the night is still young ... must put the kiddos to bed and open a new document.

Here's to a productive fall, all.