Hi, folks, this is a meandering post, but maybe I've said something that resonates.
The finest clothing made is a person's own skin, but, of course, society demands something more than this. Mark Twain
Hi, folks, this is a meandering post, but maybe I've said something that resonates.
Inspiration doesn't just show up when you want it to.It's something that must be drummed up from the earth of you. Imagine you are a garden --Butchart Garden, a Japanese tea garden, a rose garden-- you pick. This garden did not just happen. It took planning, work, and weather to create this dazzling place. A cultivated garden bursts with inspiration. The ground of you is the same and to be a place of inspiration, you'll have to work at it.
First up, you have to be rich ground. You will enrich your ground by reading books -- lots of books, all kinds of books. This adds nutrients to the soil of you. You will absorb fantastic ways of approaching stories. You'll find rhythms, turns and surprises that will inform your work. You'll become of aware of things that don't work. Books will take you on life changing journeys. Without this influx of story, you will struggle to find inspiration.
There is more to the enrichment process than simply reading. You will open up to experience. Douse yourself with regular bucketfuls of the arts. Engage your senses. Participate in the art. Draw, sing, dance--. If you like to bake culinary masterpieces, go for it. Don't let anyone sniff down their nose at your lowbrow pursuits. If some bachelor reality show inspires, watch it. If some monster truck rally appeals, go. Allow yourself freedom, and you will be welcoming inspiration into your life.
Another important enrichment step: go on adventures. Don't let anyone define what an adventure is to you. If you find visiting tiny off-the-road museums meaningful, huzzah! If you like a walk on the beach, huzzah! If you want to jump out of an airplane. OK. If your idea of adventure is shopping in the garment district in New York, go for it. If your idea of adventure is visiting a website like Atlas Obscura and heading out, so be it. Allow yourself to follow your heart, and you will be opened up for inspiration.
There is more to the cultivation process. All this enrichment will help you on your inspiration road but you must also work. You must work regularly in your creative area to easily access inspiration. This requires you to open up your definition of what work is. Work for me isn't just writing. It's staring out the window. It's taking a nap perchance to dream. It's moving through the manuscript backwards looking for typos. All this work helps prime me for inspired moments.
You've added nutrients to the soil, you've been working, but you need the right weather to make this garden thrive. You know certain things grow in the desert. Certain things grow in the rain forest. Your climate is important. Are you hanging out with a bunch of folks who have no artistic vision? Is anyone supporting you as an artist? No? You MUST expand your circle of friends. Surround yourself with the best and the brightest. Be sure you are in the right climate for this garden to thrive. This is a necessary element for inspiration.
Work on the garden of you this week and you will find that inspiration springs up. It just does! I will be back next week another series on Writer Myths. :)
Here is a doodle:
Hi. folks, this week is a response blog to Janet Lee Carey's post "I am not a brand." For more on this topic, check out a manifesto statement from Maureen Johnson.
This is another meandering post. I felt fire and pain while writing this one. I will wander here some. I hope that something strikes a chord.
Branding is a human activity. We are inherently drawn to symbols. We slap them on everything from our faith to our hamburgers. A good brand offers a clear message. It also offers assurance you will receive a similar experience with branded products. A good brand will also stir up a targeted audience emotionally, will motivate a customer to place money on the counter, and will bring back customers again and again.
Here's a question I circle around. Should my work be branded?
On the surface, it seems to make sense. A book is a commodity. It's sold at the store with a publishing brand stamped on the book's spine. Beyond this, authors who offer readers similar fare time and time again usually find the most success. If the author writes one thriller, then writes ten more, that usually attracts a greater readership. The writer will have to tend that stream of content for a lifetime. Hey, this is a business, folks.
Branding helps writers stand out in the marketplace. So, authors, get in line. Learn the formulas. Refine your message and sell it! Be all bossy and pushy about that message. Hog every stage. What you have to say is the most important thing. To Market!
Sigh. Do you ever think you were born into the wrong world? The problem with "comodifiying" the story journey and branding imagination is this for me: We are all quicksilver. You can't really pin us down. We shift and change on you. We are fickle. We are not who we were yesterday. We will not be the same tomorrow. If I go all branding on myself, instead of being who I am, I ditch who I am. Not okay.
For me storytelling is an ancient human art. This art circles around two questions: Who are we? What do we want? These are the two things you own in this life. No degradation can put out the spark of you. Your hunger for what you want will cause you to risk everything. You may have to join a team who dared to have a dream and ended up martyred. But take to heart, they shaped the future.
Storytelling is too precious to mankind to force it into the branding mold. I'm with a little band of others that hop and holler, "Your heart, that's the holy ground! It sure is! Here is a lodestone for you." That said, we have no intention of sparing your feelings. We understand suffering has a purpose.We are immersed in the life-saving art of creating lodestones for the human heart, story maps that will help readers navigate through the rough seas of their lives.
A great book sets you on a journey toward your true north. It will turn you away from stupidity. It will rattle your cage. It will break your bonds. It will help you understand your days. It will help you find your best possible self. No question!
I hope you create something priceless. If you get some money for that, well, people need to eat. If you don't get money for it, well, people don't live on bread alone.
Here is a doodle for you.
Howdy, folks: Plumb Crazy is coming out in paperback. I'm celebrating with the Book and Boots giveaway. Enter to win a signed Plumb Crazy and $100 Gift Card to Cavender's Authentic Western Wear. Follow this link of details. http://tinyurl.com/mv2ku8y. I so greatly appreciate the support that has come my way for Plumb Crazy, and thank you all for every tweet, mention and, of course, every ebook you have purchased.
Hi folks, it is getting crazy hot here. Over a 100. Whew! Welcome to my little corner of the interwebs.
Did you know that PLUMB CRAZY is coming out in paperback? I'm celebrating! Enter to win the Plumb Crazy Book and Boots Giveaway. Book and $100 Gift Card to Cavenders:.tinyurl.com/mv2ku8y.
This week I offer a gem to help you with the creative process. I can't do all my work on the computer, Handwriting plays an important part in my creative process. I have to write the things by hand and don't expect something linear and neat. Expect bubbles with ideas, doodles of flowers and geometric shapes, half finished lists, freewrites, graphs, charts, me grousing about how hard it is to write books, pages of lame ideas, and lists of marketing ideas too.
I can't think any of this stuff on the computer, but I can think it on paper. I believe all this stuff happens in handwriting because I am bringing my style and individuality to the shape of the words. This added dimension opens wellsprings within. If you are struggling with moving forward with a creative project, grab a sheet of paper and a pen you really like and pour out your thoughts! You might be surprised.
I will continue this month with gems of creative wisdom. My doodle and quote are at the end. First a recap of the book tour!
Plumb Crazy Book Tour Recap!
The PLUMB CRAZY playlist - Victoria Simcox's Blog - http://ow.ly/zSdHS
You can listen to it on Youtube - http://ow.ly/zSdHS!
The Plumb Crazy Dream Cast! -The Avid Reader - http://ow.ly/zSgpj
Mitch's Profile! -- Book Club Sisters - http://ow.ly/zSf99
Mitch wins Book Boyfriend of the Week! - Book Boyfriend Reviews - http://ow.ly/zShqN
Wherein I Interview my character Mitch! - The Written Adventure - http://ow.ly/zSfS2
Author Interview! -- Kelly P's Blog - http://ow.ly/zSeo9
Wherein I share a true writer's journey - Writers' Connection - http://ow.ly/zSg7q
My Five Favorite Movies - My Love for Reading Keeps Growing - http://ow.ly/A8VxH
***** Review - Books Are Love -- http://ow.ly/A8YCc and http://ow.ly/A8Z0B
Howdy, folks! Summertime, and I'm off to watch the Houston Astros take down the Toronto Blue Jays. This is one of those high stakes, nation vs. nation games.
I'm still celebrating the book tour. I'm running a giveaway with my book tour, and I hope that you will consider entering. It's in the sidebar. Win a signed copy of the book and $100 gift certificate to Cavender's.
I offer the professional writer checklist. Lots of people want to be professional writers. I'm going to hand out the game plan. Here are ten steps to professional writer .
1. Write every day. Yes, professional writers must write. (I usually write 2- 4 hours a day, five days a week.)
2. Create an office. Professionals have offices
3. Take all paying gigs. This one comes with a commandment. Thou shalt not sneer at any paying gig like menus, tweets, content farms, technical manuals, wfh, basal readers, etc.." Anyone who looks down on this stuff is not a professional, he or she is a hobbyist.
4. Make specific, achievable long term and short term goals.
5. Network with your peers regularly. (Critique groups, conferences, professional organizations, etc.)
6. Join the social media circus. (website, Facebook, Twitter, bloggers, tumblr, etc...)
7. Keep accurate financial records.
8. Buy some business cards.
9. Invest in a printer that can spit mega pages in a short period of time. (Weird, but needed.)
10. Profess you are a professional writer to anyone who asks. (Never belittle yourself, not in self talk, not to others.)
Ta-da, you are a professional writer. The doodle and quote are at the end.
Hi folks. I'm continuing my series of writing lessons from Shakespeare. He was the master of the put down. I think you would agree his ability to cast the insults is unparalleled. The Bard's work continues to breathe and live because of the richness and density of language. We live in an age where cursing is ubiquitous. Originality in the insult is at an all time low. I think taking a few minutes and really absorbing the Bard's insulting craft will help you with your craft. Do you best when casting out your put downs.
Here's an insult I like from All's Well that Ends Well: "A most notable coward, an infinite and endless liar, an hourly promise breaker, the owner of no one good quality." Coward, liar, promise breaker, and low born. How do these ideas transfer into our society today? Who is the coward of today? The liar? The promise breaker? Who is low born? Also note that you have to pile on the insults for effect and you have to modify the insult with adjectives. Simple but, oh, so powerful.
I think peeking at Shakespeare's insults may help you sharpen your insulting skills. Here is a link to the Shakespearean Insulter for fun. This will toss an insult at you randomly. Here is a Shakespeare insulter kit, basically three lists to build your own insults. Enjoy. I will be back next week!
Here is a doodle. Sunflower.
It's going to a 100 F today. I want to go to the pool. This month I wandering with the Bard. Why? I've been trekking off and on to Shakespeare at Winedale for over 30 years and thought I might do some wandering here, over my back fence.
We have reached the hot days of summer in Texas. I've been trekking off and on to Shakespeare at Winedale for over 30 years. You might be surprised to find that every time I write a book I think about the Bard's plays long and hard. I lean toward his comedies. I think about the plots. I read passages. I watch and read the plays. It helps me find my novel. It's a thing for me.
Currently I'm thinking about the next book I'm going to write. Long before I write a book, I spend time thinking about it. Often times a Shakespearean play pokes at me, and that is true right now. The play that is in my head is Much Ado About Nothing. I'm turning its plot over and over. This play is serving as the spirit plot guide for my new book.
These are the kinds of thoughts I have as my spirit plot guide leads me: I love the the Benedick/Beatrice relationship. I love the idea of two characters in a "merry war", who become lovers. I love they both have strong opinions about serious relationships. I like that they are both damaged. I love that their friends conspire to bring them together. Nice. I like that Benedick is asked to defend Beatrice's cousin Hero's honor. This act reveals depth to his love. I turn the plot points of the play and I ask myself, can I use any of this. Of course, I can and will.
The spirit plot guide causes me to question the path too. The whole mistaking Hero for a skank whore is good, but the when she falls over pretend dead, it's just, you know, fake. I also don't like that it's Beatrice's best friend and cousin who is called a skank whore. It seems like it would be better if Beatrice would be called a skank whore falsely. That's just my feeling about it. I think that it would be cool if Benedick were Beatrice's most staunch supporter through a direct attack on her honor. I let keep letting the ideas roll around in my head.
Once I have a slew of plot points, ideas, etc. I start the translation process and will eventually write a random lists of ideas. I'll sift through these and pick the best ones. I will build a plot for my new book from there. So here I am all wrapped up in a play from 1623 -- a well-worn path is influencing a new one. I hope that you seek spirit plot guides for your work. I believe your work will thank me.
More lessons from Shakespeare next week.
Here is the doodle for the week: Birds.
Hi, folks. Glad you are dropping by. News about PLUMB CRAZY is at the end of the post. Today, I'm going to chat about a little habit I have that others have found interesting.
I keep records of moments that strike me. For example, today I drove to Navasota to have lunch with my dad at The Wrangler Steakhouse. It was sunshiny when I left and sunshiny when I returned, only somewhere in that one hour, a huge torrential rain storm dumped massive puddles of water on the roadway. Weird.
And here's another. Yesterday, I was driving down my street and suddenly a huge beach ball rolled across a yard in front of my car and into the street, across another neighbor's yard and then back onto a side street. I watched it until it disappeared. I gave it a whimsical title. Beach ball takes a roll.
And a last moment, a couple of days ago I was driving down in front of Bryan High school, listening to a talk show about the World Cup and Japanese fans who wave blue trash bags during the match and then clean up after. Arigato gozaimasu, Japanese fans. Right then I drove by a "Big Blue" sign in front of the Bryan High stadium and felt this whole the universe is full of cosmic harmony thing.
I put all these moments into what I call a moments journal. I keep several journals and to stay organized I buy journals of different sizes. I like long sort of grocery-list-sized journals for moments. Short fat journals for complaining (Ok, those are supposed to be a gratefulness journals. I'm working on that.) I write in my moment journal when I feel like it. It's a total creative exercise. Journal writing keeps my imagination flexible. Maybe my weird habit will spark something in you.
I will be back next week with a new series. I hope you make tons of creative progress this week.
Doodle for the week: Blue girl.
Hi folks, welcome to the end of this series. I've been celebrating the happy news, that the ebook version of PLUMB CRAZY from Swoon Romance has found its way onto the virtual shelves of booksellers worldwide. Try here for a copy from Amazon US. Here is Amazon UK. Here is Amazon Australia. Here is Amazon Canada. Try here for a copy for your B&N Nook . It will be available in paper in a few weeks. I hope you consider giving it a look.Currently it's only available as an ebook but for sure paper copies will be available soon.
Gorgeous sunshine calls me outside, and I want to soak some of it in. This week I 'm going to keep it short. Today I want to chat about my view of grace. It's a big universe out there and I'm sure that there are folks with a wider view. This will be about what I see in my little corner.
I have read many books that have never been published. Some of my favorite books are in this state. For whatever reason, these wonderful stories have not found their way into the hands of publishers. I have a number of manuscripts that are tucked in folders too. You put some pieces of your soul on the page when write a book. Publishing one is like your soul sprouting wings and taking off for far green pastures.
So today, I'm feeling the grace, not of movement, but of privilege. I wrote my novel because there was this ticklish feeling right under my heart that others might want to know this. Maybe it will help them along in their journey, I thought. Now my words are out there. With this dove on my shoulder, I'm feeling winds of thankfulness inside. Journey well! Huzzah!
I hope you see the privileges in your life this week and let the winds come. Come back next week for more of Seize the day.
Here is the doodle. Clover Poof.
Howdy, folks, Happy news, the ebook version of PLUMB CRAZY from Swoon Romance has found its way onto the virtual shelves of booksellers worldwide. Try here for a copy from Amazon US. Here is Amazon UK. Here is Amazon Australia. Here is Amazon Canada. Try here for a copy for your B&N Nook . It will be available in paper in a few weeks. I hope you consider giving it a look.
Hi, folks, Today is PLUMB CRAZY's official book birthday. I don't usually roll out more than a book a year, so consider this a rare post. I'm asking you to seriously consider supporting my new book, PLUMB CRAZY.
Howdy, folks, The official launch date is June 10, 2014, but, happy news, my ebook PLUMB CRAZY has found its way onto the virtual shelves of booksellers worldwide. I hope you consider giving it a look. Try here for a copy from Amazon US. Here is Amazon UK. Here is Amazon Australia Try here for a copy for you B&N Nook .
The world has changed, so this week I'm going to offer a list of useful ways to support the release of an author's ebook. Traditional ways don't always work ebooks. Here are a dozen reasonably easy things to do!
1. Buy the ebook. Pretty, simple, huh.
2. Give the book to a friend! You can totally give ebooks. Here is a link on how to on the Nook.
3, Lend the book to a friend. You can totally lend an ebook. Here's a how to do it link on Kindle.
4. Post a review of the ebook on the site of your choice: your blog, B&N, Goodreads, Amazon....
5. Let the author know you posted a review, so they can share the news on their social network.
6. Like the Author's Facebook page.
7. Post news about the ebook on your social media channels -- Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Linkedin, Pinterest, wherever you hang out.
8. Do you have a blog? Interview an author. Authors love interviews.
9. Join an author's blog campaign. This is a matter of signing up and sharing the good news on your blog.
10. Too busy to blog? Ask an author to guest blog on your blog.
11. YouTube for you? Vlog about the ebook.
12. Over the top fan? Write an article about the ebook for a site like Gawker, Jezebel or other newsy site -- even the local newspaper. This is a nine-yard move and you get a credit. Neat.
I hope this helps you on your journey.
Want to do more to support PLUMB CRAZY? Join my upcoming social media campaign. You can sign up for a "Release Day Book Blitz" for PLUMB CRAZY here! Another thing? Like my Facebook page.
I will be back next week with more Book Birthday blogging!
Many dropped by the Swoon booth at BEA. I handed out doodles. Here's one that went to a lucky visitor.
So much of writing is the hard work of creative play. This month I am offering a series that shares some of the inside story of my book PLUMB CRAZY (Swoon Romance, June 2014). Consider following the link and giving it "a like" on Goodreads.
I am in NYC for BEA celebrating the upcoming release of Plumb Crazy. I am nearing the place when my work gets a life of it's own and off it goes. I need to recharge. I plan to stroll through the American Folk Art Muesum and the MoMA this Saturday and let the art speak. I am excited. I want to soak in all the creative genius. Art is a huge part of who I am. I especially love outsider artist. Don't neglect art in your life. Let it light up dormant parts of you brain.
Open up your creative self and see how that stirs the waters of you work. Let whatever winds have come your way shape You into what You are supposed to be. I will back next month with release your dream month. Every novel is a fictive dream I hope you dream with me.
No doodle this week. Doodles will be back next week. Check out my Facebook for cool pics of my travels.
A quote for you pocket.
Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time. Thomas Merton
Hi folks, Hi, folks! Welcome to the blog! I about to make happy trails. I'm heading to BOOKEXPO America (BEA) to "be a part of it" in New York! I'll be at the Swoon Booth (PDZ638) at noon on Friday May 30, 2014. Please drop by if you are around! This month I am offering a series that shares some of the inside story of my book PLUMB CRAZY (Swoon Romance, June 2014). Consider following the link and giving it "a like" on Goodreads.
Whew, I have a ton of stuff to do, hence the blog will be short this week I don't even have time to read and I love to READ. Anyway, what do I have in my bag tricks that is really useful?
Here's a thought. I have been going to Trade Shows since I was a child. My mom would take me to nursery trade shows. Nothing to do with kids. These were all about plants. Did you know there is a type of person that loves plants as much as books? I would carry a bag and gather pencils, seed packets, roundtuits, plastic cups and water sprinkler heads. BEA is like that but instead of plant swag they handout glorious bookish swag-- books, book marks, bags and such. This is all about book love.
So with no further ado.
How to have fun at trade show? A top ten list!
1. Take a lesson from the mighty house cat, stalk the floor but don't engage yet. Just check it all out.
2. Remember everyone is there to work, so it's not like high school.
3. Put on your smiley face!
4. Wear comfortable shoes! I cannot stress this enough.
5. Make new friends. Yes, I'm talking to you, book worm.
6. Know where the chocolate is.
7. Literary genius is afoot; remember to breathe.
8. Drink water. 8 glasses. Pop, tea, coffee, juice, and drinks with little umbrellas do not count.
9. Pace yourself. Take breaks. Too much stress can ruin your health, relationships, and mental state.
10. Enjoy yourself! Did you know fun shuts down left-brain activity and makes your right-brain light up like a roman candle?
Glad you dropped by! Have a good week. With last in the "Plumb Crazy May" series. Hope you drop by.
Here is a doodle for you: "Faces"
Hi folks, beautiful springtime is here in College Station, Texas. Blankets of bluebonnets, evening primrose, and Indian paint brush are splashed all over the county like a color-crazed artist needed to spruce up the dull browns and greens. So uplifting.
I begin my April Showers series. This is all about what waters my creative soul. I'm going to discuss the juice of some recent reads. First up comes enrichment from Conrad Wesselhoeft's new book Dirt Bikes, Drones and Other Ways to Fly (HMH). Here's a short synopsis from Amazon: Seventeen year-old dirt-bike-riding daredevil Arlo Santiago catches the eye of the U.S. military with his first-place ranking on a video game featuring drone warfare, and must reconcile the work they want him to do with the emotional scars he has suffered following a violent death in his family.
This is one kinetic read. Here are two techniques in this book that will open your eyes as you create your own work.
1. Leverage language. This is something that Wesselhoeft always does and this book is no exception. Here in the middle of of bruising narrative, high flying action, and heart-rending despair is a peppering of poetic beauty. Phrasing elevates this story --- "book of Job lousy year," "Something rises in me -- something halfway between a fist and a sob" and "the thing about a journey -- it pops you into focus and sweeps the mess of your life under the rug if only for a brief time." Shy away from bland word choice as you create your works, and you will add brilliance to your stories.
2. Say something. Dirt Bikes... is stitched together with references to Mozart, Rossini, Martin Luther King, Buddha, Paul of Tarsus, Marcus Aurelius, Emerson, to name a few, and more obscure voices, like John Gillespie Magee, from his poem "High Flight."
I've been so busy this week. I went to San Antonio and signed at The Book Festivals of Texas booth at the Texas Library Association's Annual conference. I also shared the news of my upcoming YA Rom-Com PLUMB CRAZY. Best of all, I spent a few days with some true heroes this week -- water for my soul this week. I'm chatting about that.
I trekked across the great state of Texas with Kathy Whitehead, and truly felt like I had magically been transported to a Porfirio Salinas' painting. Here's a link to "Springtime in Texas" by Salinas. It makes me want shove my WIP in a corner and spend my days painting the world around me.
The wonderful DannyWoodfill of The Book Spot in Round Rock, Texas was the bookseller for the Book Festivals' booth. Oh, independent bookstores fill me with happy feelings of freedom of speech. I also feel this happiness that someone is spending his life investing in the future, in his community and ultimately our whole county by adding fabric to the community. How? Who supports local authors? Who understands the specific needs of a local reading community? Who creates a hub for creative folk within a community? Who can guide a non-reader into the world of reading? (So huge!) I hope this makes you want to drive over to your local independent and buy some books!
Big shout out for Tabatha Perry. She heads up the Montgomery County Book Festival. Again another cultural investment maven! A real hero! Here's an interview with her. How does she add to the fabric of our community? Who supports local writers? Who will create communities of readers who have a wide vision of the world through reading? Who will light imagination fires in the minds of teens? Yes, Tabatha Perry! Books saved me as teenager. I have no idea how I would have survived those years without books. I wish there had been book festivals when I was a teen.
Finally, I'm not forgetting the army of heroes, the Librarians of Texas!!!! Yes, these folks are the best ever. I am at war with Texas. Why? This stuff: Why do we need librarians in elementary schools? Let's save money in the budget and do away with those librarians.Why do we need any librarians at all? Here is my why....we must facilitate life-long learners, an informed global community and all-access educated citizenry.
This apparently means little to so many Texans. Here is a link to Texas Literacy facts. Understand me. I love Texas. I'm a generational Texan. This is my home. But this galls me: Football is the important thing. I know this is not a popular stance, but I don't seen giant shining libraries across Texas. I see football fields, really fancy ones. I'd like to see a huge library as the fabric of community in every small town in Texas. I'd like to see a big staff of librarians stamping out ignorance that is choking the people of my state.
Don't believe me? My home town football field: Waller ISD stadium (accommodates 10,000). My hometown library: The Melanee Smith Memorial Library (no words for how much I treasure this place as teen). The library doesn't have a website. Just a page. There is one librarian.
Do me a favor -- visit your local bookstore, your wonderful local library, and/or a book festival and thank important heroes in our world.
I will be back next week with more April Showers.
Here is the doodle: Girl in Bluebonnets.
I'm continuing my journey of what waters my writer's soul. I love to read books and I'm touching on a few books this month that have added creative water to my work. This week I'm going to chat about Kathi Appelt's TRUE BLUE SCOUTS OF SUGAR MAN SWAMP. This one fun read and has a swinging beat. In this story Bingo and J’miah, raccoon brothers are on a mission to save Sugar Man Swamp. Two things standout for me in this book -- language and style.
I love the language here. There is a rhythm in the cadence of the language that reminds me of music. Here's a bit of lyricism : "Nosotros somos paisanos. We are fellow countrymen. We come from the same soil." This bit gives me a good chill. I also love that the language uncovers place. For example: “They say that lightning never strikes in the same place twice, but the same is not true for courage. As it turns out, when courage strikes, it almost always begets more courage.” The choice of begets here coupled with lightning puts me in mind of an old time southern Gospel preacher. I also get some Texas swing and Texas drawl on every page. I kept smiling with each twist of phrase. Specific word choice creates universal appeal. It makes the language breathe. Check the similes in your book. Watch out for the cliches. Do better.
The style of TRUE BLUE SCOUTS is all about the southern storytelling tradition with the Texas tall tale tradition mixed in. Multiple story lines weave here, and reminded me of a great uncle of mine who was a master basket weaver. He knew just how to bend a strip of bark or a stalk of sugar cane into the perfect basket shape. Appelt jumps from head to head: raccoons, a rattle snake, humans,feral hogs, the Sugarman and more. She captures in her word basket the need to save our natural places, the preciousness of the world around us, and what exactly it means to be a hero. Style has a job, and in this case it's to bring everyone around to the back porch for a stor, to take the chills, the laughs, and riotousness and learn something too. Think about your style and do more.
I hope that you put you best efforts into the language and style of your work this week. It might just transform into something bigger than you thought it could be. I will be back next week with more April showers. I hope you return too.
Also please consider checking out my upcoming ebook PLUMB CRAZY from Swoon Romance. Thanks!
This week the doodle is on a egg. Here is "Spidey Egg."
Hi folks, I've been sharing this month what waters my soul as a writer. I'm at the SCBWI Houston Conference this weekend. I had the pleasure of reading FREAKY FAST FRANKIE JOE by Lutricia Clifton from Holiday House as a homework assignment from Mr. Gary D. Schmidt (an author I've wanted to take a class from for a long time). I will be honest the title was not exactly wowing me, but I thought I will give it a shot. Dang, I didn't get to bed until one a.m. and I'm getting too old for this. I could not put this book down. This is my favorite one in a long time.
Here's the nutshell synopsis from Amazon: "When twelve-year-old Frankie Joe's mother is sent to jail, he is uprooted from his home in Texas to live with the father he has never met, his father's wife, and his father's four "legitimate" sons in Illinois. Frankie Joe is miserable. Trying to adjust to his blended family proves too much to bear, so Frankie Joe hatches a plot to escape on his bike back home to Texas. For that he needs money, and so Frankie Joe's Freaky Fast Delivery Service is born. His deliveries win new friends, a place in the rural Illinois community, and a sense of achievement. But his planned escape is destroyed by a heartbreaking betrayal, and Frankie Joe needs all of his incredible resilience and the loving support of his new family to survive the devastating loss"
This book is a master class in implicit characterization. I knew every single person (haha, they were that real to me, not characters) after I read it. It's written in first person and I was totally immersed in main character Frankie Joe's POV. He's a great kid who has been dealt an incredibly awful hand in life. Interactions, reactions, and inference stitch this book together.
Clifton doesn't bog down the story with narrative. I love the tension created through her implicit characterization (much showing, little telling). Like when Frankie Joe's dad says he's only had one legal wife, and Frankie Joe gets it internally -- he's not legitimate. I love that Frankie Joe is surviving because of his plan to return home, this is his interior reality, and then that is put up against this loving family and town of stability that is wrapping around him. All kinds of tension are created from that. I love how much he loves his mother regardless of her faults and his heart shatters when she betrays him. There is such truth in the unraveling of Frankie Joe's perception.
If you want to write in first person, have a large cast characters that are real people, and write cut above middle grade fiction, consider reading this FREAKY FAST FRANKY JOE. BTW, I don't Ms. Clifton at all. I just loved her book.
So that's April Showers. Next month I will be offering some the inside story of my book PLUMB CRAZY (Swoon Romance, release June 2014) for my PLUMB CRAZY May series.
This week we have a guest doodle from my artist son Jesse. He calls this: "British".
Hi, folks! Welcome to the blog! This month I will be offering a series that shares some of the inside story of my book PLUMB CRAZY (Swoon Romance, June 2014). Oh, it such a good feeling to launch a story into the world. This week I'm going to focus on writing with memories. Plumb Crazy was inspired by the events of my life, so why did I do that? Here's a little discussion that I hope you find helpful.
Few people live interesting enough lives to support memoir, but your memories are extremely important. They are the best starting point for your fiction work. Caution: don't be too in love with your actual life or you won't write a very interesting story. Sort through your memories and pull out the stuff that hurt like the dickens, numbed you like a zombie, or set you on fire like a supernova. This is your gold.
Writing with memories is a way to forge an emotional connection with readers. You will invent the exterior of the story, but not about the interior. That stuff comes from your soul. Your memories are the core to your storytelling, and I think you should build a bank of them. Write at least 100 emotional memories from childhood. Also write your secrets, your shame, and your impossible dreams. Whatever has made you feel stuff is important. You need to get good at writing what you don't want to ever tell anyone. If you can't be honest with your own life, your characters won't be honest.
Once you have those memories written, crank them through your big imagination. This is how it works for me. I worked as a plumber's helper in high school. This is absolutely true. 100%. My character Elva Presley is also a plumber's helper in high school. Note, her name is much cooler than mine. She has her own journey. Gosh, she snags a lovely boyfriend, helps her grandmother's depression, saves goats, makes enough money for a car, posts her fanfic... I think I'm jealous of her. Yet in the core of her life, she learns the same thing I've learned. Everyone has value. She also has some issues with her family. I've had those too. We both come to the same conclusion: forgive and love. That is our truth.
A good lie has gold nuggets of truth in it. That's why folks buy into the story. When you decide to write from memories, don't cling to the details, instead think about the emotion: your joyous moments, your ultimate highs, your greatest fears, and, above all, the dark nights of your soul. Hide memories on every page of whatever you write. Your work will thank me.
I will be back next week with more Plumb Crazy May. Please come back for more of this series.
Here is a doodle to enjoy. I love swooping wind.
Hi, folks! Welcome to the blog! This month I am offering a series that shares some of the inside story of my book PLUMB CRAZY (Swoon Romance, June 2014). Consider following the link and giving it "a like" on Goodreads. Oh, it such a good feeling to launch a story into the world.
This week I'm going to focus on writing real stuff. Plumb Crazy is about everyday life -- real stuff. It uncovers my inward celebration "of joy comes in the morning" and my inward cry "O ME! O life!". Here's a little discussion that I hope you find helpful.
Hi, folks! Welcome to the blog! This month I am offering a series that shares some of the inside story of my book PLUMB CRAZY (Swoon Romance, June 2014). Consider following the link and giving it "a like" on Goodreads.
Here is a fact: I fell off the couch laughing while writing PLUMB CRAZY. Now, I am living in the tension of "I hope my readers will too." I feel like a kid waiting for Christmas day. You know, will I really get the bean bag chair? This is a bigger story than you think. This is about the power of belief and my best marketing advice.
I remember the excitement of that Christmas morn, and the big let down when I ran to the Christmas tree. Santa Claus dropped unwrapped stuff under the tree. There was no Christmas bean bag chair, and I had been a good girl! Oh, dear God, my sister was right--there was no Santa Claus. I wailed into a couch cushion. Then my mom tapped my shoulder. She said we should check the attic because bean bag chairs were really big and didn't fit down cardboard chimneys. Dad pulled down the fold-down ladder, and I scampered up. I found my bean bag chair. I screamed, shoving my face into its buttery softness. Santa was real! All was right with world!
So here I sit, waiting for PLUMB CRAZY to make its way into the world. I am jittery and excited. All I have is belief right now. Will any of my readers fall of the couch like I did? Will they laugh so hard that their head aches? Will they feel the "big hug" of knowing Elva Presely? Writing a book is a very exposing thing, a private and intimate process. The process of publishing a book is the exact opposite, revealed and public.The shift is nevre-wracking for writers.
And now, for the big moment, my best marketing advice. The best marketing thing you can do for your book is write your best possible book. Pour out your soul. Uncover your secrets. Say what only you can say. Write sticky thoughts that readers won't forget. Write something that connects with readers worldwide. Believe and believe. Send it out to readers and let them decide. Then start the next book.
Yes, I know you wanted it to be how to get your book on NPR or something, but I am a truthteller and "soul on page" is what you need. Please come back as I share more of the inside story of PLUMB CRAZY. I hope that you pour your belief into your books this week because I love to read a good book. Love! See you next week!
Here is a doodle: Sun!