Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thursday's Children - Almost There

I've been trying to decide what aspect of inspiration to focus on today, but all I can think about is getting back to my story. I'm about a chapter and a half from the end and it's spilling out of me like an upended cup. I feel like my cat who takes a special kind of joy in knocking over my cup of tea. She watches the liquid flow over the table...floor...couch...wiggling her butt in excitement while her head whips from side to side as she tries to decide which section of the mess she wants to pounce on first.

I can't ever remember feeling such joy and excitement while writing. And I realized that's what's inspiring me. I want more of this feeling. I want to see how it all plays out. It's not like I'm writing blind or anything. I have a basic road map. I know what the big moments are. I know how it ends. But I find that I don't always have a detailed plan for getting there, and that's the most exciting part. I'm discovering all kinds of hidden treasures as I roll faster and faster toward the end. They're peering out from between the trees. They're half buried in the sand. They're waiting for me to find them and pounce on them.

I'm also finding bits and pieces of the next story, so I'm picking them up and tucking them away for later. But mostly, I'm reveling in the joy of discovery and the excitement of finally finding all the pieces of the story I've always wanted to tell.

I hope that whatever your process is, you're enjoying it. Now, I hope you'll excuse me, because I've got a book to finish!

Should you want to join the awesome Thursday's Children Blog Hop, here's the code for your blog...

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thursday's Children - Thankfulness

Since tomorrow is Thanksgiving, I thought I'd post about all the things I'm thankful for - at least the things that pertain to my writing. If I listed all the things I'm thankful for, we'd be here for weeks.

So in no particular order, here they are: My family - husband, sons, brothers, sister, mom, nieces, nephews, dad, stepmom - they get me and they're supportive of what I do, proud of me, they want me to succeed and are great at picking up the slack when deadline time rolls around.

My friends - they're also supportive, want me to succeed and will brainstorm plots with me, challenge me and commiserate with me.

My blogger and author friends - they inspire me every day and help keep me motivated.

My favorite authors - they provide me with hours of reading material that never fails to inspire me.

My editing day job - I love what I do, I love my authors, and I love my relatively flexible schedule that allows me to stay home with my kids and pursue the job I love most.

My other writing gig - see above. :)

My kitties - for keeping me company during the day and unconditional love.

My computer - super grateful to have this. I can't imagine writing books by hand.

My waterproof note pad - there's nothing better than being able to write down my creativity surges while in the shower.

The ideas that keep me writing - it's always a wonderful discovery even if I think I know what's going to happen.

The world around me - it's full of beauty, magic and inspiration everywhere I look.

If you celebrate Thanksgiving, I wish you a wonderful holiday! Don't forget to share what you're thankful for. :)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Thursday's Children - What Pottery Has to Do with Writing

I had an amazing opportunity this week to help out my youngest son's art teacher with her pottery unit.

Should I have been home finishing my novel? Probably.

Am I a little behind schedule as a result of volunteering for four to six hours a day? Absolutely.

Was it worth it? Without a doubt!

After spending my first four hour shift with about 80ish high schoolers, helping them with various hand building techniques, the teacher gave me about 25 pounds of clay - a beautiful, glorious block of gray clay. She told me to make whatever I wanted and she'd make sure it got fired.

I brought it home and immediately sat down and tried to write. I've got this scene that's been giving me a bit of trouble and I've come at it from every angle I could think of. But as I tried to again sort of that scene, the block of clay kept staring at me from the dining room table...taunting me. Trying to lure me over there with the promise of it's cool, perfect smoothness.

I put up a valiant fight - at least two hours - but it finally won. I gave up on figuring out that scene, closed my laptop and got out my clay tools. It had been so long since I was able to play with clay, I was afraid I wouldn't be able to make anything worth keeping. I ended up making 14 holiday gifts - ornaments, wine glasses, a bowl, candle holders etc.

But an interesting thing happened while I played.  My hands were busy sculpting and shaping and my mind was free to wander. It definitely wandered.While I was turning the clay over and over in my hands my plot was tumbling in my head. After maybe an hour, I knew what the problem was. It seems so obvious now, but I'm not sure I would have come up with it had I stayed at my computer banging my head against the keyboard. I needed some other creative outlet to help shake loose the solutions to a completely unrelated problem.

I'm going back to art class again tomorrow - we've got four class periods at 90 minutes each. It's gonna be a long day. But it'll be worth it. In addition to the creativity sneak attack, I'm also spending time with a ton of high school freshman, sophomores and juniors. Talk about great research! And honestly, great kids - I'm thoroughly enjoying hanging with them.  And as a bonus, I get to spend lunch hour with the teachers for even more research opportunities.  What more could this writer ask for?

Here are a few things I've started on. They're all pretty rough and all need quite a lot of work yet, but I'm excited to see them all glazed and finished. By the way, I was working on the  glasses when the story solution hit me. :)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Thursday's Children - Writers' Workshops

This past weekend, my local writing group had a writing conference. It was full of the things all awesome conferences share, chances to pitch your book, Q&A with industry professionals and workshops - 12 brilliant hands on workshops.

Since I was one of the conference coordinators (as well as the person who found the speakers and put together the schedule) I was able to choose the workshops I wanted to moderate (a coordinator's job is never done). We had a whole morning and afternoon of fabulous speakers, and the four that I moderated were nothing short of brilliant.

There was a hilarious and also incredibly informative presentation on Time Management for People with No Time. Jen provided all kinds of useful tips and tricks to get more writing into to your day - even if you have a million and twelve other things to do.

I also enjoyed the workshop on plotting using Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey given by Brynn Paulin. Using popular movies, she broke The Hero's Journey down in a slightly different way than I've seen before that effectively explained the concept and made it easy to work with using our own plots.

Lara Zielin gave a fantastic interactive lecture on The First Five Pages and how to make them unforgettable (in a good way) I wish there had been more time to go through the opening pages that the attending writers brought. But the ones we did get through were helpful no only to the authors, but the rest of us as well.

Margaret Yang's talk on Plotting for Pantzers was exactly what I needed. I'll admit, I'm not a plotter - more like a wanderer following a trail of breadcrumbs. I tend to stop along the way and pick up rocks and pretty leaves - sometimes they're useful for the story I'm telling, sometimes they're not. Because of my wandering, I tend toward side trips in my writing that need to be heavily edited. Thanks to Margaret's workshop, I had several "light bulb moments". I feel like my side trips are going to be far less problematic.

Now I'm not saying that I've suddenly turned into someone who plots my book chapter by chapter, but I think I'm definitely becoming a wanderer with a purpose. And a path. I couldn't be more grateful to Margaret for her workshop.

For those of you who've never been to a writers conference, I highly recommend going. Sometimes the smallest thing can change your perspective and give you a whole new view of your story.

What about you - have you ever been to a writers workshop? If so, what workshop had the biggest impact on you?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Sunshine Blog Award!

I received the Sunshine Blog Award from the awesome Rhiann Wynn-Nolet, which was a lovely surprise!

I'll be answering 8 questions, then passing the Sunshine Award on to a few more writer-bloggers.

1. What is your Favorite Christmas/Festive movie?
    The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. I can recite the entire thing *and* sing the song!

2. What is your Favorite Flower?
It's too hard to pick one...daffodils and violets in the early spring - they remind me of my Gram and give me hope that it really will be spring again. And lilacs - the scent makes me so happy.

3. What is your Favorite Non-Alcoholic Beverage?

     Tea. Either hot English (or Irish) Breakfast tea or a huge glass of iced tea. I drink both all year round.

4. What is your Passion?
     My family, writing and crafting.

5. What is your Favorite Time of Year?

     Autumn - I love the weather, the scents, the sights, the storms...the everything. There's not a single thing about Autumn that I don't love.

6. What is your Favorite Time of Day?

    Morning after I drop my kids off at school and the house is empty except for me and the cats.

7. What is your Favorite Physical Activity?

     Walking along one of the Great Lakes or in the woods.

8. What is your Favorite Vacation Spot?

     Lake Superior. It's the place where I'm most at peace. However, I feel certain that I would feel equally at peace in Ireland or Great Britain. I just need to be able to test that theory. ;)

I'm passing the blog award on to...

Tess Grant of Books and Bones

Patricia Kiyono of Creative Hodgepodge

Kel of Coffee and Prozac

Lisa Orchard