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As an avid reader, librarian, and writer, I just want a place to share my angst over writing issues and my love of a great book.
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1. How to Write a Legend

The Legend of the Devil's Racetrack, Part I My first youtube video is up! This is my example of how easy it is to write a legend. The second video (coming soon) will illustrate the following tips for creating a believable legend. 1. Choose the correct time period. There is no sense in creating a legend that took place anytime since the advent of television or the video camera. In fact, the

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2. Coming soon

Over the course of the next few weeks, I will be creating a series of videos about writing! Why? For a lot of different reasons but primarily because it will be fun! The first video will be a legend my students are familiar with. For the last seven years, they have been able to participate in a story-telling adventure with "The Legend of Devil's Racetrack Road." (This road runs through the

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3. I'M BAAAAAACCCCCKKKK!

It seems impossible to believe I have not updated this blog in, well,  in WAY too long. I apologize for that! I could make excuses like "I've been busy" or "My body hates me and has had me under the weather with all sorts of weird ailments and it's still acting oddly", but excuses don't matter.  However, I will be adding to this blog each week from now on. Last year gave  me some great ups and

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4. What were they thinking?

Here is another round of scenes from life I can think about putting into a future book (not to be confused with a futuristic book!) "Do you have your rewards card?" The stunningly beautiful cashier smiled at the young man. (Hey, it's MY life turned into a novel...I can make myself look anyway I want!) "Can you look it up by my phone number?" The devilish gleam in his eye should have hinted at

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5. More lessons for the checkout lane

So what is the result of my time as a cashier? Well, I can think of some great happenings for secondary characters. Then there are some ideas for new characters or new situations for some current main characters...hot plate being used for samples + clumsy boy +ice bags...it's a scene in progress based on real life!!!! Meanwhile, my son is writing his book. The first scene takes place in a

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6. Tales for the Register

When you come to the store, what are you thinking about? Do you, as one woman does, think about what fellow shoppers are buying? Do you ask your cashier, "So, I bet you see a lot of strange things being purchased when you check people out, don't you?" (Now, honestly, how can I respond to that?) Then there are the alternative payment plans: 1. When writing a check, do you really need to split

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7. Is plastic okay?

Do you have your rewards card? Would you like your rewards card? Do you need any help getting your groceries out to your car?I am sure I can work these phrases into a book...don't know which one, but working at the front end of a grocery store part-time has to help my writing! Hmmmm.....maybe I can find some great characters from:The elderly customer who vocally started dissing tattoos and

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8. I sent it!

I guess the hard part now begins! Waiting! J.T. Middleton's adventure is now off with a publisher, waiting to be read and...who knows? I'm keeping my fingers crossed that he likes it enough to publish it, of course, but I also know the odds are not necessarily in my favor. However, it helps to know someone wants to read it!

Last night I revised the chapters I've written recently on Troll Quest. I'm liking the turn the novel has taken, but I'm apprehensive about the 2 characters about to be introduced in the next chapter. Now that Airam, Nodrog, and Noskaj have bonded so well, and their characters interact so wonderfully with all their conflicts, I hesitate to "break things up" a bit by adding Elad and the Black Unicorn. However, this new plot twist demands they come into the story, so I'll have to make it happen.

On the home front, we're still waiting on the delivery of the baseboards and carpet, and waiting on the electricians (now a week behind schedule). At least the gutters were put up (2 weeks late and many gallons of rainwater later) on Friday.

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9. Today is another great day!

Well, today has already started off in an auspicious manner with a 2.3 mile run (although the .3 part was some walking in the middle!). Last night I went to bed on cloud 9: I have a request for J.T. Middleton's story from a publishing house! :-) This morning, I received a phone call from the manager of a local store asking me to come in for an interview. The job would be for the summer and part-time during the school year! (Hey! I might be able to afford gas for the car, food for the children, and ink for my printer!)

Now I'm off to work on ensuring the manuscript is as polished as it can be. After that, I'm looking forward to writing chapter 10 of Troll Quest. Happy Saturday to all of you too!

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10. YAtopia Elevator Pitch Contest

Ah, the elevator pitch! The one part of writing that strikes fear in the hearts of authors. The only thing creating more anxiety? The query letter!

So why an elevator pitch? Just in case you happen to run into that fabulous agent or editor in the elevator going from the lobby to the fourteenth floor...you'd better sell your novel fast unless you're in one of those really slow elevators.

Anyway, YAtopia is having a contest. The winner will receive the opportunity to submit their full manuscript to Bree Ogden of Martin Literary Management. Check out the blog at

http://yatopia.blogspot.com/

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11. Whoo hoo Writing Day!

Ahhh...I love it when I have a very solid writing day! First off, I got the email critique of my query letter back from a trusted (and successful) author. I have already then queried a small indie publisher that seems a good fit (and they sell books through my library's main distributor which lets me know they are a serious and credible company!). Then, I have taken the trolls to their destination! Unfortunately for them, Nodrog insults the Queen and one of the most influential people in the sprite culture...leading them to be given an additional task before their quest can be completed! I love it when the writing flows.

Part of my determination today stems from reading an article on how writers actually hinder themselves with excuses. Don't have time to write? Take five minutes here and five minutes there. Don't think that's enough? Then add up all those minutes and you'll see how much time you've been wasting! I started off thinking I'd have 15-20 minutes and I wrote for over 90! In a few minutes, I'm going back to Troll Quest because Chapter 9 awaits!

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12. Where has summer gone?

It's already July, and I haven't quite reached my writing goals. The 11 hour plane ride didn't quite meet the battery life of the laptop, but I managed to get quite a bit written for the Trolls. Since I came home, I've primed, painted (ceilings and walls), and tiled part of the new addition. Frankly, I've been too tired to access my creativity! Within the next 2 weeks, however, the addition should be finished, the house (hopefully) and writing will commence!

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13. Wow

Really? I haven't posted anything at all this year? It sure has been longer than I thought it was going to be! Where has the time gone?

So, what I have I failed to write about? Well, let's do a quick entry for each month:
January: Resolution? Finish Troll Quest and find an agent for J.T. Middleton.
February: This month was overwhelmingly busy with Relay for Life fund-raising and taking 180 fifth graders to present research projects at a museum. Between those two activities, renewing National Boards, and snow days I didn't have much time for writing.
March: This was book fair month. Enough said.
April: That's what this post is all about!

I'll write more later (and it won't be months from now!).

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14. And back to the real world

Now that NaNoWriMo is over, it's time to get back to the trolls! Of course, that will only be possible after this weekend is over: I am working a booth at a crafts fair tomorrow and then I have cookie training on Sunday.

Yes, that's right. I said cookie training. While this might sound intriguing and rather daunting, (How do you train a chocolate chip cookie, and can you make a macaroon do flips?) it is not what it seems. Every year at this time, Girl Scout leaders from far and wide get together to learn about the rules for Girl Scout Cookie Time! (Three hours of making sure I know the rules so I can teach them to my girls.)

How do I know I'll get some writing done this month? Very simply: the inside of the house is decorated, the presents are all bought AND WRAPPED, and I am determined to write!

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15. Uppppps and Dowwwwwwnnnnnns

This has been a month of ups and downs. Do you ever feel that it really is true: "When you're up, you're up and when you're down, you're down"? That seems to be the way my writing has gone this month. I have brilliant moments of insight into my characters and I'll get three, four thousand words in one evening. Then, I hit a block. A moment of so much doubt or uncertainty regarding my characters that I find it hard to get even a hundred words.

Today was one of those "up" days. In what seemed like no time, I chugged right along on the NaNo story. Yesterday? Also and up day. However, the three days before that were definitely downers. While I have decided Saturday's "down" time doesn't count: I was exhausted from running my second 5K. Unfortunately, I can't discount the other days.

On the good points? It's Thanksgiving week, I've submitted J.T. to an agent, and I have time to write.

The bad points? Well, I'm trying to be optimistic so I won't get into all of them. Maybe if I act like an ostrich they'll all go away...

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16. The new beginning ROCKS!

It's amazing how a little clarity to the novel makes everything flow so much easier. I kept trying to work three weeks of fairly exciting action into the novel and then I realized...I didn't need to do that! Start the novel three weeks earlier and voila! It works. (Of course, that means I don't get to use my FABOCULOUS (slang term in the future) first sentence that I've been dreaming about in the weeks and months leading up to NaNo...so, since I can't use it, I'll put it here:

I'm not supposed to be alive.

There. Isn't it great? Doesn't it make you wonder who isn't supposed to be alive and why they should be dead? But...a great first line does not make a great book if the rest of it is a struggle to get written.

On the NaNo word count front, I'm almost to 16,000 words...only 3,450 words behind where I should be! After marathon sessions Wednesday night and Thursday evening (Thank you veterans, for more than just a day off school!), I've gotten to this point. It's better than the 8000 word deficit I had on Monday! And, since the evening is still young, I hope to erase that deficit and actually get on the plus side of my word count graph tonight. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

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17. And so it goes

NaNo is really kicking my, um, brain this year! Actually, the story is all there in my brain and itching to get out (pounding at times), but then life happens. Tonight's goal: go to the grocery store and then write 2,000 words...of course, there's no school tomorrow (Veterans Day) so I'll stay up and do 3K if possible! Then tomorrow, between the Veterans Day Remembrance Event and the family picture for the church directory, I plan on adding 2000 more!

The hardest part of writing when working full time is chiseling out the time in the schedule for writing. Each day begins with the best of intentions, but then the numerous expectations and needs at work creep (or slam!) into my tiny little breaks. At home, it's sometimes necessary to help somebody study for a test or proofread a project. When you add National Board renewal, Girl Scouts, taxi service, and the children's supposed need to eat a home cooked meal...let's just say it's bedtime before the laptop's been fired up!

However, as long as I keep thinking about the story, planning scenes, getting to know my characters better, talking to my MC, and dreaming plot threads...when I do sit down at my laptop the words really do flow right through my fingers and onto the screen.

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18. New beginnings

New beginnings can be so wonderful or stressful or encouraging or stressful or...well, you get the idea! So I'm about 8,000 words into my NaNo (I know, I'm behind and it's only been a week!) and I realize that one of the problems is that I dislike...no...loath...no...HATE the beginning. You would think a book that starts with "I shouldn't be alive" would spark all sorts of energy. Instead, it's BLAH...

So I took a step back and allowed a little inner editor to emerge (totally against the NaNo ideals and principles, but, hey, better a step back than to sink in the quagmire that had developed!) and I realized my problem was not in the story, not in the characters, but in that I had jumped into the middle of an ocean and there was no visible/possible way for me to have gotten there! So I decided to restart the story, keeping my 8000 words in reserve, and incorporate those fabulous words (or, in the MC's vernacular: faboculous) into later chapters as the story truly unfolds.

Once I made that decision, I realized I didn't want to just third person the story as I had been doing, but I didn't want a normal first person story. Now the story is being told in a journal style through the MC's computerized vid tablet (it IS a futuristic novel) with holographic outputs. I'm 1000 words into the new beginning, and I'm figuring it will be another few thousand before the original material gets sucked back into the plot.

Maybe I'll get caught up this week...

Or at least not much farther behind.

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19. Anniversaries, summer camp, and heat

Ahhh...there's nothing like 101 degree days to be happy in the air conditioning.

Then, of course, if you add to that sending all three children away to summer camp on the same day and having your 17th anniversary to celebrate, it makes you want to go...YIPPPEEEE!!!!

To celebrate our anniversary, I sent my manuscript to both editors who I met at a writer's retreat. (Not unsolicited...they gave permission to attendees to send them) After all, there were lots of positive vibes going on that day! Hopefully a few of those vibes survived the trip in the envelope. Of course, that leads to the "wait and see" game.

With all the quiet in the house, you would think I'm getting some writing done. Instead, I've read a book (it's been awhile since I've had time for that!) that was actually written (GASP!) for an adult audience....Lost and Found. Great book that I enjoyed while waiting for The Seventh Level to arrive which should hold me off a little ways until Mockingjay comes out. I am planning on writing tonight. (I finished my online course development for the fourth graders this afternoon. Now for some "me" time.)

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20. Just a Spoonful...

...of stories! I've submitted my entry into the Cheerios Spoonsful of Stories contest! I'm excited because I actually took the very first children's story I wrote (intended as a picture book, but really not a very good story since the vocabulary was WAY too advanced for young children) and changed it into a rhyming picture book! It is very cute if I do say so myself, and I just did! I know there will be some tough competition but you can't win if you don't enter!!!!

The trolls are moving right along on their quest, traveling to Drocnoc and then on to Anirav Yawkuf. I hope to finish this draft, and maybe another draft, before school begins in August. Like always, there's another story pushing for my attention that I keep jotting down ideas for and then putting it aside. I MUST FINISH TROLL QUEST FIRST!

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21. Wow! It's been a while

Since I've posted here. That's what happens when life continues to progress around me. This has been a stressful school year, and it's only 7 weeks into it! I'm doing more with less time, have more responsibilities to shoulder, and wonder when it's all going to get done.

The trolls have now met a tricky little sprite (actually, she's more like a giant to them...trolls are REALLY short) who's going to escort them to her homeland...the quest continues!

But November starts soon and that means....NANOWRIMO! I've been saving my thoughts on a dystopian YA for next month, and I'm itching to get started as are most (some?) of my fourth graders. It's interesting to see 174 novels in progress for a month. I might not reach the goal this year. I do tend to need sleep.

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22. Middle of the night brainstorms

So I send off my latest excerpt to my critique group. It's the next part of a novel where I'm not totally happy about the beginning. (I like the chapter but felt it didn't need to be at the beginning since I was using the events of the future and then flashing back to the past for the rest of the novel.) Well...that night I had a dream. A dream where little...no, not that dream. I realized I needed to go into the past. (Seventy-four years in the past to be exact) Into the past to a birthday party and a birthday wish. THEN I realized that the little girl in that birthday party (who is the MC's deceased great-grandmother) needs to play a more prominent role as her grown-up ghost haunts the MC! WOW! Now I'm totally revamping that beginning but not scraping what I've sent out. Why couldn't this brainstorm happen the night BEFORE I sent out the excerpt? Then the new ideas could have been critiqued! Oh, well. I'm thankful for brainstorms anytime they occur.

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23. FREE BOOKS!

Is there any other words that sound sweeter to a librarian/avid reader's ears? Even better if they are middle grade books? Not to mention (once again) that they're free?

Well, thanks to a contest, libraries can be nominated to receive these free books.
www.fromthemixedupfiles.com

Nominate a library today! (Especially if its my library.)

:-)

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24. Two hours and counting

until the start of 2010 NaNoWriMo! (Well, not really COUNTING...I have to work tomorrow so there will be no feverish midnight writing going on here.) My as-yet-untitled-work is ready to begin tomorrow...Hopefully I'll be able to get the words flowing in between work and scouts and homework and fixing dinner! I'm setting the goal of 1600 words per day.

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25. The future of books

Sometimes I love technology and other times I realize it may be my nemesis. (Like when the server crashes at school in the middle of a technology based lesson!) Anyway, at the wonderful NCSLMA conference, a national panel discussion had one member who claimed that there would be no print books in school libraries in the next ten years. Really? He claimed that every student would download temporary files of ebooks or they would use e-readers like Nook and Kindle. I love ebooks (and I wish I had an e-reader), but where's the money for this technology going to come from? How many students DON'T have access to the internet at home? I know the answer at my school is A LOT. Anyway, the conference itself was inspiring. Lisa Yee is AWESOME! (and so were the many other presenters and authors in attendance.)

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