Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Monday, June 29, 2009
We sailed over the Sound because dear friends, from out of state, were visiting and having a picnic get-together. But when you load a family of four into the minivan to venture across Puget Sound, you really want to make a day of it. I mean, the ferry boat crossing for the whole family is $45 alone. Phew!
The picnic wasn't happening until late afternoon, so we headed into the city with the girlies. We decided to go the Pacific Science Center which is located at the Seattle Center. We arrived around noon, as the sun started shining, and people were just starting to arrive at the Seattle Center. We could see that some sort of festival was getting started as we walked through the big, grassy, fountain area on our way to PSC. A massive rainbow banner tipped us off that it was Pridefest09.
We went about our business at the PSC exhibits, starting with Grossology, which was fun and gross and educational. We went through the many other exhibits, including the butterflies which are very cool. All super fun. But, before we knew it, it was time to go.
Once we left and ventured back out into the Seattle Center, the place was hopping--shoulder-to-shoulder kind of hopping. People were happy and decked out in lots of rainbow colors, some more bright and colorful than others. But once we were in the thick of it, things started to become more interesting. First there was the run in with, what my seven-year-old girlie dubbed, the butt shorts (meaning buttless). Probably a bit uncomfortable when you're eye level with the wearer's backside. As I tried steer one of the girls a bit to the side so her view was a little less cheeky, the view instead became breasts (and as the girls said, "with tape.") But, there were many really interesting costumes, too (like the one in this photo...sorry friends, no photo of the butt shorts).
So, my kids (like most 7 and 9 year olds) have not been exposed to "butt shorts" or pasties. But I have to say, they handled themselves very well, in a situation where I know they felt a bit embarrassed. And so did their mom and dad. I think I blushed a bit (more because I was with my kids than anything). But the mommy and daddy handle it well, too (I hope). As we walked through the crowd, we let them know it was a festival and that it was okay to dress (or more like not dress) as they were, that we all have butts and breasts. No biggie. Then once in the car, we told them a bit about Pridefest. But the interesting part was to hear them chat about it as we drove down the road, so matter of fact.
Anyway, it got me thinking about coming upon something unexpected (especially when that something might make one feel embarrassed or uncomfortable).
How about your main character? Can they identify with something (or someone) being unexpected? How do they react? And how does the adult(s) in their life react or handle the situation?
And it's not over yet! We still have much to do this week!
Tomorrow, go to Holly's blog for a "You Tell Us" feature. What's YOUR best revision tip?
Then, on Wednesday (after June is officially over!) come to Jolie's blog to make your case for THE WHIPLASH AWARD. Why should you get the hottest award of the summer? Tell us the sordid, fascinating details - we really want to know.
But first things first: honorable mentions for this week's WHIP OF THE WEEK (and trust us, it has become increasingly difficult to choose in this incredible pool of deserving Smackdowners).
Janet Lee Carey, who wrestled with the dreaded synopsis of one novel and wrote the first three chapters of a new novel. Be fearless, Janet! (Note from Holly: being in Janet's critique group, can I just say that I can't wait to hear the new book?!?!)
StinkyLulu, who met two of his three goals: revising PB#1 and making huge progress on a YA novel. Way to rock it, Brian!
-karen ann., who finished her manuscript revision and will be giving it to her critique group today. Right on, Karen!
And...the Week 5 WHIP OF THE WEEK...a force to be reckoned with is...
Here's what Realm said about her week:
I am satisfied with the goals I've met this week. I finally caught up to my illustrations and producing at a healthy rate. I work best in the mornings on them. I was able to work on both book illustrations and ones for the blog.
My second novel draft is headed in the right direction and I got to write a bunch on the weekend. I actually changed what my second book will be at the start of June. A lot of my writing went into plans, research, throw away drafts and such, but I feel that I know exactly what I want for the second book and confidant that the first draft will keep growing this summer. I will be using the tips you all shared!
I learned a lot about managing my schedule and knowing what times work best--and how easy it can slip away. The Summer Revision Smackdown helped me get back on track!
Thank you, everyone!
We are proud of every one of you as you near the finish line. So, Smackdowners: what will be your goals for this week and beyond?
Friday, June 26, 2009
Thursday, June 25, 2009
I might as well have hopped out of the bushes on a dark and stormy night and yelled, “Boo!”, right? That’s how I felt about revising until I took a Novel Revision Workshop with Darcy Pattison (http://www.darcypattison.com/). One of the coolest tricks I learned at that workshop was what Darcy calls the “shrunken manuscript:” shrink your entire manuscript down to single-spaced 8-point font, and remove all page and chapter breaks. This will bring a 100-page manuscript down to roughly 20 pages.
There’s something about working with a shrunken manuscript that makes the revision process seem more manageable. Perhaps it’s easier to kill off your precious words when they’re in 8-point font. Perhaps it’s easier to move a block of text two pages, instead of ten. And for visual learners like myself, it’s much easier to see the arc of your story when you can physically lay out your pages before you on the floor.
Revising is more than word choice and punctuation. It is “re-visioning” your story. And for me, being able to see my entire story in 30ish pages helps me to see if two characters play the same role, or if I’ve bludgeoned a point to death, or if the protagonist acts one way in Chapter 2 and another way in Chapter 10.
I have officially banished my fear of the Revision Ghouls leaping out at me on a dark and stormy night. Now if I could just do something about those First Draft Demons…
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
When I revise, I go through this process with every drawing, every composition and every page turn. Even the ones I already like. I ask myself the same question over and over. "What can I do to make this better? What can I do to make this better? What can I do to make this better?" Then when I’m done I go back around for a second revision or a third or as many as it takes.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Friday, June 19, 2009
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Today, Paula offers us this great thought:
I remember one writing teacher suggested we consider cutting the final paragraph. She said often times, we would find that the second-to-last paragraph truly was the real ending to our story. She explained that when we write first drafts, sometimes we aren't confident enough or we don't trust our readers, so we add on that extra last paragraph that over-explains the ending or over-sentimentalizes the story's final image to the point of sledgehammer overkill.
I have found that every time I try this trick, nine times out of ten it works and the real ending was the second-to-last-paragraph!
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
I'm a boot stompin' kind of excited to introduce you to my friend and debut novelist, Jill S. Alexander. But before I do, don't miss Justina Chen Headley's Whip Tip over at Holly's today.
I'm thrilled to welcome Jill Alexander, a debut novelist breaking onto the scene in big ways with her novel THE SWEETHEART OF PROSPER COUNTY. SWEETHEART was chosen to be part of BEA's first-ever YA Buzz Forum and was presented by Jill's editor, the fabulous Liz Szabla. How cool is that? Just take a read of the highlights of her BEA experience.
Jill sent along this tip for all of us in Smackdown Land (in complete Jill style!):
Back in the eighties, I landed in the mosh pit at a Bon Jovi concert in Dallas. I remember it like it was yesterday: the musty smell of sweat, the panties (not mine) flying, the jumping and shoving and warm beer chugging. Every time I hear the guitar intro to “Living On A Prayer,” I’m back in the pit – holding to the vibe and Jon Bon Jovi’s voice.
One of the things I hope to accomplish as a writer is to hold a reader in the story mosh, my words, and even when he or she has long since put the book down, a sound or a smell or glimpse can take them back to that story, that place, that character. So it is through this filter that I revise. Crappy dialogue, weak plot points, dry descriptions generally occur when I’ve written too far removed from the vibe or the voice. Improving any area of a manuscript requires my reconnecting with those two elements.
The Vibe: This is the mood, baby. My tattered HANDBOOK TO LITERATURE defines mood as “the emotional attitude that an author takes toward the subject or theme.”
The Voice: For me, this is the phrasing and word choice of the narrator as well as his or her outlook on the world.
Here are a couple of revision tips on reconnecting with the vibe and the voice.
1. Create a playlist. SWEETHEART has a playlist and so does my current WIP – lots of Texas country like Jack Ingram, Miranda Lambert, Dixie Chicks, even Lyle Lovett. Music takes me back to my story quicker than anything. My best writing occurs after I’ve dropped my son off at school, and I’ve driven home with the novel’s playlist on blast! (I noticed on Holly’s Blog that Stacey Goldblatt uses music too.)
2. Read the work aloud. This is a great way to catch those words, phrases, and paragraphs that just don’t jive with the vibe and the voice. If possible, read to a critique partner or group. Nothing shines a spotlight on the author's voice intruding on the story like reading aloud to a group.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Monday, June 15, 2009
Let me tell you, it has been no simple task for us to choose one Smackdowner for the Whip of the Week. First, we have honorable mentions:
Sara Easterly, who caught up and surpassed her goals this week on her graphic novel. Go, Sara!
Jennie Englund, who whittled her manuscript down by 13K this week (!) to tackle the next phase. Woohoo, Jennie!
Shelley S., who subconsciously sabotaged her TV habit this week to make huge progress. Nice work, Shelley!
Casey McCormick, who revised every day this week and is 78 pages in. Sweet, Casey!
and now...our Whip of the Week for Week #3...the name you've all been waiting for...
Mary Cronk Farrell! Here's what Mary said about her week:
1) finished revising 48-page non-fiction project and handed it off to my critique group. 2)To begin my novel revision I packed up five copies of the manuscript returned from my critique group and set off to visit CHOCOLATE APOTHECARY. Cool chocolate store that serves espresso on the side. I sat in a comfy chair, sipped a mocha and read through all the critiques.
3) Sat down at computer and made the first run-through of the revision deleting an entire subplot.
So Smackdowners, feel the high-five of this Chocolate-sippin' moment. Go forth and revise, revise, revise!
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Friday, June 12, 2009
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
For 12 years, I was the conference director for the Arkansas SCBWI spring conference and every year, someone one would come up and hold out a thick manuscript and ask if I could read it for them and tell them how to get it published. Well, no. I couldn’t do that. But I saw a passion and hope in the eyes of each writer and I wanted to help. I knew that the only thing that would ultimately help was a deep experience with revision.
Over a period of eight years, I led retreats and slowly developed the workbook which became Novel Metamorphosis: Uncommon Ways to Revise. I never intended to publish it, but it’s been a great way to bring the process to a wider audience.
On my blog, Revision Notes, I keep thinking I'll run out of revision topics, but everything we do as writers comes back to revision.
Revision is personally hard and I fight against the process all the time. But I know, it’s the only way to develop stories to a publishable level. Like everyone else, I have passion and hope for my own stories.
Right now, I’m wrestling with a novel that has been long in process. I had written the opening chapters in a different sort of omniscient voice and it has been Smacked Down by those who read and/or considered it. I’m revising the opening 20 pages to be more immediate and active, and while I’m at it, I’ll give the rest of the story a fast run through. I’m hoping this revision will be relatively fast and I can also work in a second revision this summer. It’s a new story, with only a first draft done and I’m actually pretty pleased with that draft; but it needs extensive work on plot and character.
I guess the one thing I really want to say to the Smackdown Crew is that revisions are emotionally hard. My DH has been amazed at my passionate outbursts. You know the ones: how could that reader say this about my story; obviously, this reader didn’t read the whole thing or they’d understand and not ask such ridiculous questions; you want me to do what?
I’m fighting the process hard; but I’m not abandoning the process. I’m sticking it out – she says dramatically, throwing back her face and shielding her delicate skin from the sear of criticism. To say that I dislike drama queens is an understatement; yet, when I go through revisions, I become the most melodramatic drama queen in the nation. It’s hard. But I’m there.
Darcy's Novel Revision Retreats are fantastic. So if you have the chance...
2010April 30-May 2 Utah/Southern Idaho SCBWI, Sun Valley, IdahoNovember, Exact date TBA, Brazos Valley/Texas SCBWI
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Thank you, Jolie! Hmmm. What makes me HipWriterMama? When I started blogging a couple years ago, I wanted a moniker that made me feel fearless in going public with my writing dreams. It was hard for me to see outside my identity of 'Mommy' and in some ways, I lost sight of my inner confidence after leaving my career to have children. Thus, HipWriterMama was born.
My blog is all about inspiration posts, writing tips, author interviews, and musings about life. I like to keep positive on my blog and find ways to encourage others to reaching their best. I'm also fortunate to be a postergirlz for readergirlz, a literary advisory group for teens -- probably the first and only time I'll ever be a poster girl -- and it's a total kick.
Fear has been my biggest challenge in moving forward. Getting my butt in the chair to write? No problem. I crave my writing time since my life is all about the kids and helping my husband grow his business. It's the fear that maybe an agent won't like what I've written that keeps me revising, rather than submitting.
Great attitude, Vivian! Keep on being fearless. Do you have a revision tip you can share with the rest?
The revision tip I'm going to offer today is to be easy on yourself and break your project down into manageable chunks. It could be one hour at a time (like Robin Mellom) or one chapter at a time. Whatever you choose, make sure it's something that's attainable so it can be done on a consistent basis. This habit will give you the strength and ability to work on your project no matter what gets thrown in your way. Let's face it, life throws a lot of curve balls and we need to know how to work past them. I've found it's the little steps that provide the fuel to take things to the next level. One chapter can turn into two. Into three. Into done. Are you game?
Thanks so much, Jolie!
Monday, June 8, 2009
What a week, whipper smackers. Holly and I were blown away. Keep it up in week two, and please feel free to post your progress (from week 1) if you haven't done so yet. And, it's never to late to join.
Drum roll please...
This week's Whip of the Week is...Wait...Wait...
It was a tie. The week was that good.
First, Kjersten Anna Hayes.
Here's what Kjersten had to say about her week:
Pin a rose on my nose because, no joke, I DOUBLED my goal for the week!
Here's one way to get a lot of revision finished: 1. Have a long to-do list of other stuff that doesn't seem as fun as (*ahem*) drawing.2. Have Holly and Jolie give you a permission slip to slack off on that long to-do list by working on revising that dummy you love to work on.3. Take up drawing. I think it was Kevan Atteberry who said at the conference, "what artist walks in their studio and says, shoot I think I have to draw today. Bummer." Certainly not this one. Drawing is what I do to procrastinate on other stuff.Thanks for the permission slip, Holly and Jolie.Now. I have a dusty to-do list of other stuff that REALLY needs to be tackled today.
About her week, Helen said:
I had a great week! I accomplished the following:- Made it through my entire novel, "first draft" revision. This included more filtering of events through the main character's perspective, more transformation of all major characters from beginning to end, several major new scenes.-Made it through the first 9 chapters, "second draft" revision: sharpening descriptions and dialogue, word choice tweaks, expanding scenes (I tend to rush).I'm right on target for finishing a "third draft" revision by next Saturday!
Way to go!
Honorable Mentions go to Molly Blaisdell, Martha Brockenbrough,and Mindy Hardwick! Go forth and crack the whip this week, Smackdowners!
Friday, June 5, 2009
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Kirby was awarded a Newbery Honor in 2007 for her novel HATTIE BIG SKY, a definite must read. Recently she's made her way back to picture books and has been celebrating the success of TWO BOBBIES which she co-wrote with Mary Nethery, and a new project is in the works for this great team. And be sure to bookmark or follow Kirby's blog Kirby Lane: A Place for Readers and Writers which is always packed with heart and wisdom. Oh, and pictures of her new puppy, Winston.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Today Cuppa Jolie welcomes the amazing Bruce Coville to offer the first Wednesday Whip Tip.
Leave it to a talent and fantastic guy like Bruce to pass on a tip during a very busy time for him. And don't miss the Wednesday Whip Tip from author and readergirlz diva, Lorie Ann Grover, over at Holly's blog.
Bruce Coville is the author of nearly 100 books for children and young adults, including the international bestseller MY TEACHER IS AN ALIEN, and the wildly popular UNICORN CHRONICLES series. He has been, at various times, a teacher, a toymaker, a magazine editor, a gravedigger, and a cookware salesman. He is also the founder of FULL CAST AUDIO, an audiobook publishing company devoted to producing full cast, unabridged recordings of material for family listening.
So, in few words, the guy ROCKS. And if you've never heard him speak...you must!
Here's a few words, straight from Bruce, on revision!
I have a list of words that I overuse in early drafts, and that generally add little of use to the text. "Just" is one, "that" is another. "Started to [verb]" and "began to [verb]" (okay, those are phrases, not words) are also there, as generally you can just go with the verb. At some point I just do a word search (in which case I would delete the just I just used!) on these words and phrases and evaluate each for elimination. No single one of these changes makes a big difference, but the cumulative effect can be a tighter, cleaner text that reads more smoothly.
Thank you, Bruce!
Don't miss tomorrow for tips from Kirby Larson and Holly's editor, Catherine Onder!