Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Two Things I Know...

First of all, yes I am still on cloud nine after the endorsement I got yesterday from the amazing Patricia MacLaughlan for my book a Dog's Way Home! I mean, it just doesn't get any better! But I've been thinking about two things people said to me when I told them my good news yesterday: one person at work said to me something along the lines of, "Wow, it's really coming together for you and it seems like it's happened pretty quickly and easily"; my sweet husband said, "You've done it, babe, and you did it all on your own!"

Here are two things I know after writing for the last six years: for 99% of the writers out there (including me) it does NOT come easily or quickly, and no writer does it all on their own. For me, I've been writing seriously--meaning with the intent/hope to publish--for about six years. I first started submitting to publishers about five years ago. That was five years of languishing in slush piles, of amassing form, "Dear Author", rejections from editor's assistants and agents, five doubt-filled years. It wasn't until my wonderful editor at WestSide plucked THE RING from the slush pile a year and a half ago that there was any light at the end of the tunnel. Finding an agent who believed in me was also a huge step. And I found that agent through a good friend! Although writing in and of itself is a solitary affair, all you have to do is read the acknowledgements page in most any book to see that no writer does it "on their own." From the very beginning, I had my critique group to give me support and encouragement and to push me to be better; I have my family who has always believed and my other friends; I am so lucky to have an agent who I trust and to have now worked with two amazing editors who have taken my diamonds in the rough and made them shine, shine, shine.

So as I sit here in my little office at home trying to write a new story and looking out my window at more snow, when I doubt what I'm doing and whether I can do it, I try to be mindful of how far I've come and all the people who've helped me on this journey.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Awesome Jacket Blurbs!!!!

I want to share with everyone my excitement about the two amazing jacket blurbs I've gotten for my upcoming middle grade novel, "A Dog's Way Home"! Both are from Newbery-Award winning authors, which is quite humbling. The first is from Gary Schmidt, author of "Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy" and "Wednesday Wars." The second, just received by my editor today, is from Patricia MacLaughlan, who is, of course, the author of "Sara Plain and Tall." Here's what they had to say:

From Gary Schmidt:
This is a novel about the journeys that we take to find our own true North Stars—journeys that call for courage, loyalty, hope, and guts. A Dog's Way Home is at times hilarious, at times mystical, at times page-turningly suspenseful; the heartbeat of this story—like the strong heartbeat of the Sheltie at its center—will stay with you for a very, very long time.

From Patricia MacLaughlan:
"It takes a special kind of storyteller to speak from a dog's point of view with authenticity, as well as
from a child's true voice. Beautifully written, this is an important story that speaks to the special kinship between child and dog. I simply love this book!"--Patricia MacLachlan

Needless to say, I'm over the moon!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

A Belated Poetry Friday on Sunday (and other stuff)

I am so lucky to be happily married to a sweet, funny, normal man. This as opposed to my first husband. I was single in between marriages for ten years. But in those years, I was involved with some pretty "interesting" guys. Or as my mother would call them, "colorful characters." A friend of mine is having doubts about her 15 year marriage. Understand, this is her third marriage. In an email exchange, she weighed the pros and cons of divorcing this husband and trying to find another man to share her life with. The idea of dating in my 50s is horrifying and, quite frankly, exhausting. I advised her to get a dog instead. So, in honor of the dating life, I give you this week's poem:

Ex-Boyfriends, by Kim Addonizio

They hang around, hitting on your friends
or else you never hear from them again.
They call when they're drunk, or finally get sober,

they're passing through town and want dinner,
they take your hand across the table, kiss you
when you come back from the bathroom.

They were your loves, your victims,
your good dogs or bad boys, and they're over
you now. one writes a book in which a woman

who sounds suspiciously like you
is the first to be sadistically dismembered
by a serial killer. They're getting married

and want you to be the first to know,
or they've been fired and need a loan,
their new girlfriend hates you,

they say they don't miss you but show up
in your dreams, calling to you from the shoeboxes
where they're buried in rows in your basement.

Some nights you find one floating into bed with you,
propped on an elbow, giving you a look
of fascination, a look that says I can't believe

I've found you. It's the same way
your current boyfriend gazed at you last night,
before he pulled the plug on the tiny white lights

above the bed, and moved against you in the dark
broken occasionally by the faint restless arcs
of headlights from the freeway's passing trucks,

the big rigs that travel and travel,
hauling their loads between cities, warehouses,
following the familiar routes of their loneliness.
"Ex-Boyfriends" by Kim Addonizio,

Monday, February 1, 2010

Latest Interview

Here's an interview with the Aurora blog folks. You might even learn some things about me you didn't (and may not necessarily want to) know! Enjoy!

Sunday, January 31, 2010


I've always wanted to try that Write a Novel in a Month thing. But, frankly, November really sucks as a time to do it! I mean, hello! Thanksgiving, Christmas madness, new snow.... and it always seems like I'm working on revisions during that month, as I was this month.

Okay, okay. Enough with the excuses. So a group of my fellow middle-grade and young adult writers have decided to do our own version of the November event, except in February. And we're calling it Write Your Butt Off Month (WYBOM). Why February? Well, I chose it because 1) I've pretty much recuperated from the holidays by now and 2) it's the month of Valentine's Day and I love to write and 3) duh: it's a short month!

So my ultimate goal is to have a first draft done of a new book by the end of the month. Which means I need to write at least six out of seven days a week. So I've been cleaning the house today, doing laundry. I'll head out in a little bit to stock up on things to eat that even my husband and stepson can fix, and to get lots of chewies for the dogs. In other words, boiling the hot water and getting the clean towels ready. I'm looking forward to this because I tend to take a looooong time to write first drafts--anywhere from 6-10 months. I edit as I go along. I want to try a completely new way of doing this, of getting this first draft down.

Wish me luck!

Friday, January 29, 2010

A Very Special Poetry Friday

My teen novel, The Ring, has gotten some great reviews on blogs and in professional journals. And all that's great. But what really makes it for a writer is hearing from your readers! I've been "chatting" on email the last couple of weeks with a teen reader in Charlotte, North Carolina. She recently read The Ring. She not only wrote a report on it, she sent me the poem the book inspired her to write! I tell you, it doesn't get any better than that. Many thanks to Angie for allowing me to post her poem about my book for you to read:

The Ring
I step into the ring and all my problems go away
The last thing on my mind is the drama of the day
I look to the crowd to check out my supporters
I gather up encouragement from someone in my corner
I step up to my opponent watching fear in her eyes
Take a deep breath and keep my eyes on the prize
Jab, hook, uppercut I give her a blow
Bouncing around the floor, so light on my toes
My technique, my finesse, so calm I'm the best
I step out the ring having defeated my past stress

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Drama in the Snow

About a month ago, a woman contacted me through my publicist. She's writing a book on the craft of fiction writing and wondered if I'd like to contribute to the section on revision. Another chance at shameless self-promotion? Heck yeah! Count me in! Of course, being who I am, I put it off as long as possible. But once I dug in and got to work on the different sections (characters, plot, scenes), it was thought provoking and even fun. So what in the world does this have to do with the title of this blog? I'm getting there, I promise. Remember, I'm a Southerner. I like to meander my way into things.

So I was snowshoeing yesterday with my dogs way up in the back country. As we ambled along, I thought about the next section I needed to work on for her book: "Show Don't Tell." One of those Ten Commandments of Writing we've all heard a million times. Was there really anything new I could say about it? I noticed one of my dogs digging and sniffing at a certain spot up ahead. When I got there, I was greeted with this sight: blood-spattered snow, a pile of deer poop, deer tracks and some other kind of track--coyote? cougar?--all mixed up together. And big hanks of long, course hair. Most likely deer hair. "Drama in the snow," I muttered to my dogs, studying the scene. What had happened here, I wondered? Had a cougar or coyote grabbed for a deer, drawn blood and hair? Had the deer gotten away? Was the blood even the deer's or was it the predator's? My dogs--with their super-hero noses--probably knew, but they weren't talking. Or telling. Nobody could stand there and tell me anything. The drama was shown in the snow, and I was completely drawn in.

Which got me to thinking: when you tell the reader what's going on and why, you take them out of the story. You rob them of the luxury of discovery, right along with the narrator. When you show the reader emotions, motivations, and deeper truths, they become much more emotionally and even viscerally involved with and connected to the characters. And isn't that what we all strive for, as writers?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Why I Live Where I Live....

Winter can be a tough time at 7,000 feet. Still, it has its own beauty.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

This 'n that...

Greetings campers on this snowy, snowy morning! I've had the great good fortune to have THE RING reviewed on a couple of really cool blogs recently. I'm so humbled and thankful for the interest The Ring is generating! Here are the links to the two blogs:

Aurora Reviews
Black Teens Read 2

Be sure and check out the other books reviewed on their blogs too. And leave your comments!

Well, the Sundance Film Festival officially kicks off tomorrow. For those of you who don't know, the festival was started about 25 years ago by the actor Robert Redford. It's a chance for independent film makers to showcase their work. It used to be just here in Park City but now they show films all over the area. Still, the lion's share is here in PC. You can always spot the film goers from the locals because the filmies are dressed all in black and are much more fashionable looking than we are. I'll try to get some photos of main street.

I hear a snowblower calling my name--better get out there!

Monday, January 18, 2010


I grew up on the beaches of Florida--first the Atlantic and then the Gulf of Mexico. My mother was a passionate beachcomber. She'd walk for hours looking for shells, odd pieces of driftwood, sea glass. So, of course, I learned to do the same. I'm pretty sure becoming a beachcomber at such a young age and doing it for 18 years is the reason why I've always looked down as I walk. Lately, my husband and I have developed (no pun intended) a passion for photography. I just have one of those little point and shoot digital cameras--nothing fancy but I can easily carry it with me when I'm out hiking/skiing/snowshoeing with the dogs. But the thing about taking pictures is you need to lift your head and look around! And it teaches you to not only look up and out, but to see things in an entirely new way.

So all this got me to thinking about the revision process. Revision means to literally visit something again. And when we do, don't we often see it in a whole new way, especially if we've been away from it for a while? For me, when I write that first messy draft, it's like just snapping a photo of one whole idea. Like a tree, for instance. But during the revision process, I look at the smaller particulars of character and plot development, tone, voice and theme. Kind of like knot holes, tiny pinecones, a leaf. It's during the revision--the revisiting, the "re-seeing"-that we turn a snapshot into a photograph.

But that's just me.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Getting back in the saddle

Okay, so I've been a bad, bad blogger. I could blame it on the holidays, or the fact that I was finishing up final revisions for my editor for my 2011 book, A Dog's Way Home. I could also blame it on having an injured stepdaughter. But really, I'm still struggling with this blogging thing. I mean, who does it help? Who does it serve? But my one New Year's resolution was that I'd give blogging another shot. So here's to a new year, new adventures, new mistakes, and new surprises! And hopefully, a new manuscript. My agent would really, really like me to write a new book this winter.

What's your hopes and dreams for the new year, new decade?