21 Jun


Posted in Process, Writing

Drought feels like this.

I have been experiencing a writing drought lately.  It’s not that I don’t have projects to work on and writing to do (I have plenty of that) but for some reason, I’ve been struggling with the actual doing of it.  This is very difficult for me to admit here in writing, because people are always saying “writers write.”  The implication of course is that if I’m not writing, then I’m not really a writer, and if I’m not a writer then I don’t know what I am.  So, yes, this is very difficult to say but I’m admitting it.

For the past few weeks I’ve been struggling with it on my own and I’ve realized that I can’t do that anymore.  First off, I feel I owe it to all of you to let you know why I’ve been less active than usual on the interwebs.  But more importantly, I’m hoping that maybe some of you have felt this way too and may have some words of advice.

But what do you do when you’re in the middle of a drought?  Today I had a great meeting with my writing group and got lots of encouragement, but I think it’ll take more than that to kick this drought problem.  That’s where you all come in.  I need some advice and a good, swift kick in the pants.  I feel like I’m trying to water a desert with a watering can and it’s just not working.  Any advice?

What do you do when you hit a writing drought?


10 Jun

YA Cafe: Why Do You Write YA?

Posted in Blogfest, Teen Lit, Writing, YA Cafe

Welcome Back to YA Cafe, where book lovers can gather and chat about teen literature. I’m your barista, along with Ghenet from All About Them Words.

Each Friday we pick from a menu of topics and share our thoughts on our respective blogs. We’ve also got plans brewing for interviews, events and even some exciting giveaways, so stay tuned! Join the discussion by responding in the comments, on your own blogs or on twitter using the hash tag #yacafe.

Today’s Special: “Why Do You Write YA?” Blogfest

I have to admit, I’ve been struggling with this post.  At first I thought it would be easy, because the answer seems so obvious.  I write YA because it’s AWESOME! (duh, right?)  But that didn’t exactly seem like it could fill an entire post.

I dug deeper.  In light of all the #YASaves stuff that happened this weekend, I thought that maybe my love for YA came from having discovered that special YA book as a teen.  Maybe I write YA now because growing up that’s what I loved to read most.

Truth is, though, I didn’t start reading YA until I was an adult.  When I was a teen, I went to one of those scary-competitive schools and had so much reading to do for class that there was little time left to read for fun.  Even during the summer, when most kids get to choose what they read, we had two set list of books we could choose from: The Great Books, and The Very Good Books.  (N.B. Great Books comprised the classics written by dead white men and Very Good Books consisted of top-notch contemporary literary fiction.  Not much room for YA on that list.) So while YA is what I love to read most now, it was not what I read as a teen.

Then I thought, maybe I write YA so that I can rewrite my own teen years so that they would turn out better.  But again, the dirty truth: my teen years weren’t really all that bad and certainly they didn’t merit rewriting.  When I write YA, I make my characters go through things a million times worse than what I ever went through.  In fact, my teenage life was pretty ordinary.  I spent most of my time doing schoolwork or with a violin tucked under my chin.  My best friends were my siblings and the most illicit thing I ever did was take my little sister shopping for a fake ID was so she could get into a teen-only nightclub in Brazil.  Pretty innocuous stuff.  If I needed to rewrite my teen years at all it would be to make them more exciting and interesting, not less.

The truth is, I write YA because when I was a teen, things mattered. We got worked up about the smallest things: like how we hosted a sit-in in the school lobby in seventh grade to protest the fact that the middle school students couldn’t vote for student government.  Or how when that one particular boy noticed (or didn’t notice) me, it would either make or break my day.  Big stuff mattered but small stuff mattered too.

This is why I write YA.  Because whether you’re writing about serious problems like homelessness or eating disorders, or just the typical teen stuff like boy-meets-girl, it matters to the readers.  And if it matters to my readers then it most definitely matters to me.


There’s still time to sign-up  using the linky below and then just write your post and, tell us why you write YA on  your own blog.  And don’t forget to hop around to different blogs and see what other  folks are saying!


08 Jun

3 Things I Learned about Writing at Disney World

Posted in Tips, Writing

The weekend before BEA, lawyer-hubby was off from work for a few extra days and we decided to take an impromptu vacation.  We could only take a few days and I was dying to bond with my inner kiddo so we decided to hop down to Orlando and spend the weekend at Disney World.  Little did I know I’d be getting an awesome lesson on writing.

The Disney theme parks are all about creating an overall experience.  Every detail, every design element serves the greater goal.  As writers, there’s a lot that we can learn at those parks that can help enhance our own writing.  Here are three lessons I learned about writing at Disney World.  These lessons in particular came from the Animal Kingdom park.

1) Pay attention to details. At the Disney parks, every detail means something and serves a purpose.  In the Animal Kingdom park, even the cement walkways are stamped with leafy patterns so that it looks like you’re walking on the jungle floor instead of pavement.  The cement gets the job done and there’s no functional reason for the leafy patterns but this simple detail adds to the overall experience, making us feel like we’re really there in the jungle.

Put it into action: When you write, make sure every detail in your work serves a purpose and supports the greater goal of your piece.  If a detail doesn’t pull its weight, consider leaving it out so that you can spotlight the more important details of your piece.

2) Hide the message. One of the activities available at Animal Kingdom is the Kids’ Discovery Club. Kids get a passport that guides them around the park to various sites where they can participate in educational activities and learn about wildlife and conservation.  Once they complete the educational activity, they get a stamp.  If they collect stamps from all the activity sites, they get a special bonus.

Put it into action: Making the educational component into a game hides the educational message makes the activities fun.  In writing, we must do the same thing.  If the educational message or “moral” of the story is too obvious, it can be a turn-off for readers.  If you have a message you want to convey, find a way to do it so that it fits seamlessly into the story and doesn’t draw too much attention to itself.  Make the educational component fun and kids are more likely to engage in story.

3) Stay in character. When I was waiting in line for the safari ride, I asked the attendant how long the ride was.  He responded: “Two weeks.  The safari lasts two weeks.”  I raised my eyebrows and he chuckled.  Lowering his voice he added: “Anywhere from two weeks to twenty minutes.”  I mention this small interaction because one of the things that the Disney parks are known for is how all the people who work there are not actually employees, they’re “cast members.”  Whether they walk around in a Mickey Mouse suit or sweep up spilled popcorn on the sidewalk, they are part of the “show” and they have to stay in character.  This attendant at the safari ride is a perfect example because even in answering a simple question, he played it as part of the show.

Put it into action: Remember to keep your characters consistent and always in character.  If your character does something contrary to his or her personality, it has to be for a good reason.  Make sure that if you let someone in your story break character, it makes sense and there’s a good reason for it.

More writing tips coming soon! I have many more writing tips I picked up on that weekend trip, but if I listed them all here, this post would be gigantic.  Stay tuned for more writing tips and have iggi-rrific day!


16 May

Mindful Writing: Dealing with High Stakes

Posted in Mindful Writing, Process, Writing

It’s pretty normal to have a fear of failure but fear of success?  That’s just plain weird.  Yet in my writer-brain, somehow it’s far more terrifying to succeed at something than it is to fail.  Why?  Because success means higher stakes, and if failure does happen later on it hurts all the more.

It’s like the Earth in the picture, just floating through space, la-dee-da, until some huge meteor smacks into it.  If the Earth were just a barren rock, then the stakes would be low because the Earth wouldn’t have much to lose.  But the Earth has spent millions of years growing life from one-celled organisms to sentient beings.  It’s because of the Earth’s success at making living things that a meteor hit would be so unbelievably catastrophic.

It’s sort of the same with writing.  The more you write, the higher the stakes get because you’ve invested time and effort into the project.  If you don’t finish the book you won’t get rejected by agents and editors because you’ll never get to that point, so it’s actually a comfortable place to be.  But if you spend all that time writing and editing the book and then you get rejected, it hurts.  Big time.

This is where mindful writing comes in.  In mindfulness, you need to be aware of the things you can control and the things you cannot.  You can’t control whether people will love or hate your book, but you can control whether you actually finish writing it.  Success and failure are out of your control.  What you can control is whether you write the book.  After that, all you can do is accept the successes and failures when they come.

What scares you more: success or failure?  What can you do today that will take you one step closer to finishing a project?


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