Thursday, February 25, 2010

Busy Mom's Guide to Writing a Book Tip #2

Okay, moms, let's talk sleep.

(Ummm, if you are a mommy with a newish child, as in under 3 years old, you might not want to continue's kind of depressing, but it does get better.)

Here's the deal:

If you are a mom you are going to suffer from sleep deprivation.


For 18 years*.

That's the bad news.

And you're going to have to make a decision somewhere down the line; either you will be a super early riser, or a total night owl. Because folks, you have to do the opposite of what ever your kids do. You have to be awake sometimes when they are asleep or you will never get any writing done. Never.

But there is a silver lining.

Being sleep deprived can lead to lots of creativity. I mean, the old internal editor doesn't even know what to do with stuff you write when you are tired. She just kind of shrugs, rolls here eyes and mutters, "You can't possibly be serious."

And, the ideas, THE IDEAS!!!

(My first two books deal with trying to get kids to GO TO SLEEP!)

Hellooooo. Good Knight.

So, remember, in order to write that book, you need some sleep.

Just not too much.



Monday, February 22, 2010

Busy Mom's Guide to Writing a Book Tip #1

Really, there are only three things you need to worry about when you think about writing a book:

1. You've got to eat sometimes during the process.

2. You've got to sleep sometimes during the process.

3. You've got to write sometimes during the process.

So, let's talk about eating.

It's easy to forget to do it when you are busy writing a book, busy driving kids to school, busy working, etc. But you've got to do it. You've got to eat or you'll start writing things that sound like a hallucination....which is fine if you're Lewis Carroll, but few of us are.

Some ideas:

Breakfast- My number one breakfast food is trail mix (or raw almonds.) Why? Because I can eat it in the car while I drive and if I spill on myself, it doesn't leave a spot on my work clothes!

Lunch-Sandwich. Why? So I can type one handed. Things that need a fork are also things that will spill on the laptop keyboard which is a recipe for disaster (pun intended).

Dinner-Two words: crock pot (or maybe that's one it a compound word? Note to self, look it up later.)

Buy adopting these three eating techniques, you can allow yourself more of #3, the coveted TIME for writing.

I'm always interested in other fast-eating options that do not involve fast-food.

Any suggestions?


Friday, February 19, 2010

Blogger University


There are many reasons to blog: social, promotional, web-presence....blah, blah, blah.

But for me, blogging has been very educational. It's like getting a mini degree the publishing world.

Allow me to illuminate:

1. First of all, when you read other blogs, you can really learn a lot. I mean REALLY! And not just stuff you'd think you'd learn, but stuff you'd never guess. Sure, I find reading about other writers' writing strategies/processes completely fascinating. I could read about writing for a very long time. And when I find myself posting about my own process well, sometimes I discover things about myself as I attempt to articulate an idea that I never would have known otherwise.

2. The campus life is awesome. I mean, I have made so many friends out there in the blog-world. People who love writing just as much as I do. I like to read their blogs because I have grown to care for the people who write them. There is a connection, made through the wonder of writing.

3. The faculty. Seriously, a year ago, I wouldn't have known who any of these people were: Mark McVeigh (an agent with a blog who is connecting with potential authors and offering them 15 minute sessions of his time.) Follow this will make him happy and you might get a phone call.....

Mary Kole (an agent who blogs often, offering advice in all areas of writing/publishing. She runs contests from time to time which offer critiques as a prize.) She is young, but so, so wise

Joanna Stampfel-Volpe (an agent often grants interviews/advice and contests through the use of author blogs.) Joanna is all about giving back to the writing community.

Literary Rambles (a blog created by Casey McCormick that provides one-stop-shopping when searching for information on agents. I cannot fathom the hours she has put into research, in addition to offering weekly writing tips.) Love you, Casey!

Plus many, many more! And these folks give their time because they believe in paying it forward. I have learned so much that I didn't know about the publishing industry from these folks....and I've had eight books published by three different houses. (Sometimes you don't know how much you don't know until you finally know know?)

Blogging University is a great place to get your degree in Insider Publishing Info.


(just thinking here.....the mascot.......I'm stuck.....somehow the image of someone hunched over a laptop doesn't inspire awe......ideas?)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Lessons from a teacup

Okay, so my teacup doesn't look exactly like this one, but it does have the Evil Queen from Snow White on it and it is over-sized.

I was pondering, as I was walking with my teacup this morning from class to class, the lesson there was to be learned from a humble little drinking device.

It's all about finding your balance, your groove.

For example:

If you walk too fast with a cup of hot tea whilst you are pulling your StoryQueen bag/backpack with one hand and balancing tea and laptop with the other, the tea spills (hopefully not over the laptop if the case isn't zipped, which it never is.)

If you walk too slow, well then the tea gets cold before you even get to drink it.

What does this have to do with writing?

For me, if I try to write too fast (as in trying to get too many words in a day), I end up with a bunch of stuff strewn all over my laptop that I really don't want.

If I write too slowly, (as in too many days between work sessions), then the idea grows cold and becomes undrinkable.

The secret, grasshopper, is balance. The secret is walking/writing as quickly as you can without spilling or growing cold.

Secret of happy writing = balance.

And now for something completely different:

Solvang Sherrie is posting an interview with HRH (me) on Wednesday, February 17th. At least I think she click on the link and take a look. (If it's Wednesday, of course.)

Thank you, Sherrie!


Friday, February 12, 2010

February Update

Well, it's February, my least favorite month of the year. At least it has the decency to be short.

Seems like a good time to give a brief update on certain fronts:

Appearances: I'll be signing books at the Barnes and Noble in Oceanside February 12th (that's tonight...sorry for the late notice) at 6:00 p.m. to help raise funds for an elementary school in Vista. The school gets up to 20% of the money from ANY books (not just mine) sold during the hours of the book fair. With these days of budget cuts, these events can really help a school out. So, if your school isn't holding a book fair at a nearby B and N, you might want to suggest they look into it. And maybe there will be a nearby author who is willing to don her crown and cape* for a little magic/fun/puppet time. All for a good cause.

Resolutions: I have successfully given up Dude. Yes, of course it slips out sometimes, but then I glare at the person responsible and say, "Look, I just Dude-ed because of you. (Yeah, it sounds weird.)

I am doing not so great on the vegetable end of things. Bought lots of mini-cucumbers at Costco (which was FILLED with thousands of people who really seemed to need to put their carts in MY WAY, forcing an unstoppable (but whispered) Dude.


Revise Wren Faire this weekend.

Revise 2 picture book drafts from January's surprize-a-palooza.

Polish Nix the Naughty.

One more draft of Chicken Wizard (Hey, how about if it's a good one this time?)

Maybe doodle a bit on next middle grade project....but only doodling.

I've got to get crackin'!


*Apparently, not all authors wear a cape and a crown to booksignings, although I recommend they try it. Way more fun than it sounds.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Things I Love

So, it's been, to quote Bart Simpson, a craptacular day. (And if I'm quoting Bart Simpson, well, that says something right there because I am not the Bart-Simpson-Quoting-Type)

I could come here and whine about it, but then I'll just feel even worse. There's something about putting words into writing that makes a feeling more real. And I don't even really have a reason to whine. Nothing really bad happened. Just a cruddy day.


I'm going to list a few things I love in order to put myself in a better mood:

1. slippers (like uggs, or something equally soft on the inside.) Already I feel a bit cozier.

2. Abraham Lincoln-because isn't there some quote from him about happiness being a decision that you make...? (Help me out here...or I'll have to google it myself.....)

3. muppets- Ah, yes, a snarky remark from Miss Piggy, or a thrown fish from the Swedish Chef would do me a world of good right now.

4. potatoes-I've probably blabbed about potatoes before. But seriously, could there be any better food?

5. cheese-(Earth to Shelley-go make dinner) yup, I'm hungry.

6. Lost-I had forgotten until a few minutes ago that it was Lost night. See, truly it is the little things that make us happy!

7. When my kids clean the kitchen-Which happened last night!!! Bliss, I tell you.

8. When the rain starts pouring down right AFTER you get home. (Thanks, Mr. Cloud)

See, I'm only to 8 and already I feel better.

Oh, and um, guess what? I finished my WIP YA a few nights ago! So that should make me very happy, indeed!

(Not even looking over at the desk upon now which is an empty tea-cup, a plastic watch container, safety scissors, and another camera, along with all of the other stuff. It will just tick me off if I look at it.)


Saturday, February 6, 2010

What is on Shelley's Desk?

Let's see, today we have the following:

a laptop
my red plastic addidas watch
a notepad on which to write notes that says: Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read on the side of it, accompanied by a picture of a little guy trying to read inside of a dog.
a black pen
a spoon
a rhinestone bracelet
a strand of pearls
my glasses
my camera
somebody's pomegranate hand sanitizer (not mine)
3 bobby pins (which are not mine, never use them)
random blue piece of paper with a phone number I don't recognize written on it.
2010 engagement calendar featuring Ireland (from my mom)
stack of CD's (none of which I put there: Glee, Greenday, Celtic Woman)
half finished bottle of Coke Zero (wha??)
Two large envelopes with bookplates inside that I have to mail
a photo of my daughters' dance team (not in a frame or anything...just sitting there)
a purple plastic model of the eiffel tour which is really for little Madeleine dolls that Cali wanted to get rid of, but that I couldn't let go of.
two pairs of shoes ( heels and black flats)
brief case (underneath)
Costco coupons (underneath)

What should be on Shelley's desk:

a laptop

(Shelley's desk is very, very small. Far too small for the amount of junk currently upon desk to remain there.)

What's on your desk?


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Progress...... or......... Time to Pay the Piper

I was avoiding posting my progress on my January goals because I wanted to say, "HA! Fie on thee, oh meager goals! I have slain thee with my mighty pen!"

But, um, well....

It seems more honest to post what really happened as I progressed towards my goals, because, well, the muse is unpredictable, as well you may know.

So, without any further ceremony and no further ado:

Ten Gingerbreads (picturebook): The Goal: Revise. The Reality: I read over it once, but I can't see how to fix it yet, so I didn't. I am pretty picky about how things end up and this piece is almost there...but not quite. And I still don't know how to make it wonderful. Maybe I need to lock myself in a room with it..... (but why bother, when there are other perfectly good WIP's calling?)

Chicken Wizard: (chapterbook or easy reader): The Goal: Complete a draft. The Reality: Complete one draft as a chapter book. Didn't resonate. Tried it again as an easy reader. Liked it better. Tried it again as an easy reader with a different plotline. Hmm. Is it there yet? Nope.

Nix the Naughty (chapterbook) The Goal: Revise. The Reality: Revised!! Yay! I was so afraid to open this file, having remembered so little about what I wrote. Happy to say that I really liked it. A lot. Needs a fine tooth comb edit, but I am really pleased with how this turned out.

Wren Faire (YA): The Goal: Finish Draft. The Reality: This is the reason I didn't want to post. I wanted to say that I was finished. I thought I'd finish it today during my lunch time (during which I write for 1/2 hour each day, in addition to evenings) but there were things that needed dealing with and I was the dealer of things today so......bummer. I am hoping to finish before bedtime. We shall see. But it is enough for me that It will be done by the end of the week. I will miss the rollercoaster ride of this first draft, but the revision will not be far off, I think.

Surfiesta: (picture book of silly surf poems). The Goal: Finish draft by completing remaing four poems. The Reality: Two. (So, yeah, so the math. Two more to go.)

The niggling thing: the Goal: No goal. Not in the beginning of the month goals...wha? The Reality: This was the whole prologue issue I was having on a middle grade I finished in the fall. Sometimes, even when you think something is done, it isn't. I re-structured the piece so that it reflects more of the tale I originally wanted to tell. It feels more done now...

The Creepers: (Stuff that creeps up on you that you didn't expect to work on but then find yourself pulled into.) Two, yes TWO brand new picture book drafts completed. I sat down one day and said to myself, "Self, why don't you write something that is just really fun to read. Like, why don't you write the funnest book to read ever??? So, I did. Twice. They await revision.

This post is too long to list the February Goals, so I'll save that for the weekend. I bet you can guess them anyway, but some might surprise you.

Speaking of being surprised, it was pretty cool to stumble upon some new ideas during the month. I think I would rather find new cool inspiration unexpectedly than to complete all goals/tasks perfectly.

But that's just me.