- Just learned that one of my ancestors was charged with "pig bewitchment" in 1656. He was found not guilty. So I am one of the few people who can definitely say I am NOT descended from a pig bewitcher.
- If you are looking for a free way to make your own website, I highly recommend Weebly.com. I update mine all the time. So nice not to have to go through someone.
- It was so cold on my run this morning! 24 and blowing snow. Found myself wishing for a baclava, then realized I meant balaclava. Thank goodness wishes aren't granted. Like what if I wished for a neck gaiter but got the wrong kind?
- I feel like I am behind on everything: email, two book deadlines, sorting out my parent's stuff.
- At the same time, I need to make more time for reading. It's one of my greatest pleasures, so why I am trying to live on 20 minutes a day?
By its very definition, “photography” is “to write or draw with light.” I'm one who's drawn to light, as a rule, and I tend to notice things other people don't. But my new camera invites me to look even closer. I'm learning to twist the lens just so, in a way that brings near the things I might otherwise have overlooked: sharp edges and rounded corners, bold patterns and rough textures, saturated and sun-bleached colors.
It comes more naturally to me in some areas than others, but I'm doing my level best to remember Leonard Cohen's admonition:
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.
It's a messy thing, this bearing witness.
And as usual with most writing advice, I agree in part and disagree in part. I do think that most of us overestimate the quality of our work when we first start out. I do think that rigorous revising is important, and that most writers have no idea when they embark upon a project just how much editing it will need. I've also found that it's often difficult for us to critique our own work at the level it needs.
But maybe all that is nature's way of protecting us, of keeping us from curling up in the fetal position and giving up before we even begin.
I've always needed that confidence--even if it qualifies as overconfidence--to write anything in the first place. The first draft is all about mental cheerleading for me.
And then I let the inner critic out of the trunk where he hides out during drafting, and unleash him on my manuscript. And later still, I invite other critiquers in. Not with the ego-shattering force that the article describes, but with a willingness to delete anything that doesn't belong. I don't need people to come down on me "like a ton of bricks," "[tear] my stories to shreds and [throw] them back at me ... shatter[ing] my ego ..." The fact is, it's not about my ego at all. It's about the story. What makes it a better story? Where is the plot unbelievable or slow? Which scenes are contributing nothing? It's not personal. My book is not me.
I do sometimes get upset over criticism, but that's mostly because it means I have a lot more work to do, and sometimes I don't see right away how on earth I'm going to fix everything. Critique is not a judgment of me; it's a to-do list. And whining over to-do lists is part of my process--not the most glamorous part, to be sure, but the part that clears out the sludge of my resistance so the words can flow again. Look, it's not fun to rewrite seven chapters that you thought you were done with, or switch the whole thing to a different POV, or cut the book in half and rewrite the ending. It's much more fun to hear that you're a literary genius and you don't have to rewrite a word.
But praise is no good unless it's true, and praise alone doesn't help most writers grow. Rejecting all criticism usually doesn't help much either. On that, I agree with the article.
I suppose where I come down in the end is that we need a balance of praise and criticism to keep us going and keep us writing well. That mix varies from writer to writer and even from day to day. Whatever works.
I recently posted a picture of Sparty the Dog and Marsie the Cat on Facebook. For those of you who don’t know, Marsie and Sparty love each other.
Marsie is named after Mars and also (cough) after 30 Seconds to Mars, the epic band of awesomeness that totally helped inspire the NEED series.
Sparty is named after Spartacus, slave rebellion leader.
You would think that with these names Sparty and Marsie would be toughies. They are not toughies as the photos below show.
It begins with Sparty on the floor of the living room looking forlorn. Will Marsie ignore him? Will she rub her tail and side against his muzzle claiming ownership? What will happen?
“Please, please, please….” thinks Sparty. He expresses this thought by snorting.
Marsie responds to this look by flopping on her side and stretching out her paw. In cat language this means, “Come hither.” Or… sometimes in cat language this means, “I am going to claw your face off.”
Poor Sparty does not know what to think. Will it be a time for love? Or a time for scratching? A time of paw holding? Or a time of hisses and gouging?
“Love is hard,” he thinks. He expresses this thought by expelling gas out of his rectum. Sparty is after all part lab.
Luckily, Marsie likes the stinkiness of the Lab today. She reaches out her paw and voila! Love.
- Thu, 15:16: Headache being annoyingly stubborn. On the plus side, I think I have my candy cane cupcakes figured out. :)
- Thu, 15:17: Time to tackle the rest of this chapter and get it posted for crits. And tomorrow? Website update day. *nods*
- Thu, 16:15: Chapter seems to have sorted itself out, at least so far. :) Should be done, if not before dinner, then soonish after that. Very pleased. :)
- Thu, 16:18: RT @CallOut4: US is breaking its social contract. Moral and economic imperative to raise the minimum wage, Norm Ornstein http://t.co/5f4gcq…
- Thu, 16:25: Consider this: my husband works 2 3/4 time jobs & 1 on call with a min of $10/hr and we have NO buffer even with my son's SSI counted in.
- Thu, 16:27: There's no way we could go without government help on a minimum wage of $8.25. THIS is why so many people need government assistance.
- Thu, 16:37: RT @TheDailyEdge: Everything GOP tells you about Food Stamps is wrong http://t.co/bn3QLiFl6q RELATED: Everything GOP tells you is wrong htt…
- Thu, 16:47: Now that I'm free of editing for a small press, I'll be dedicating 1 day/wk to web updates. May even redesign Alden.nu. We shall see....
- Thu, 17:19: Okay, this freakin' storm needs to break so the humidity can drop. Seriously. :P
- Thu, 18:06: RT @JuddLegum: "Poverty is not an accident. Like slavery and apartheid, it is manmade and can be removed by the actions of human beings" --…
|Learn more about this book!|
Revelry! Killer of Enemies by Joseph Bruchac from Steam Punk Romance | Coffee Time Romance. Peek: "Not too many books I know contain a pedantic Sasquatch with ESP. But he and his people are in the traditions of every Native American nation and it was not hard at all for me to imagine them surviving into the tenuous future of my story." See also Nine Post-Apocalyptic Books Starring People of Color by Audrey from Rich in Color.
Birthdayographies from Donna Bowman Bratton. Peek: "Where did the biography birthday idea originate? I'm glad you asked. My friend, the talented author Anne Bustard, launched the idea in 2008 with her own blog, Anneographies. And she totally rocked at it. Though Anne still loves picture book biographies, she's more focused on fiction now. I'm honored that she has passed the birthday torch to me."
What to Do Before Revising a NaNoWriMo Novel by Angela Ackerman from Writers Helping Writers. Peek: "One great thing about Nano is that we’ve written it so fast, the character’s journey is fresh in our mind from first page to last. Take this opportunity to make some notes to yourself and ask these three questions..." See also The Seven-Step Business Plan for Writers by Angela from Jane Friedman.
The Color of Imagination: Interview with a Cover Artist by Therese Walsh from Writer Unboxed. Peek: "The sales reps have a lot of sway, as do the booksellers (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc…). If a book is slated for a large retail order (such as Anthropologie or Urban Outfitters), the retailers can also have the final word."
Character Building: Using Quirks to Reveal Personality by Becca Puglisi from Jody Hedlund. Peek: "As with any other gesture or habit, quirks that are used too often become distracting. Choose fitting times for your character to show his personality so each instance has meaning and serves a purpose." See also Becca on the Difference Between Primary and Secondary Character Traits and How to Use Them from Susan Quinn.
Villains are People, Too by Bobbi Miller from Children's Literature Network. Peek: "I asked many of my favorite writers and illustrators to name their favorite villains, what they found memorable about these characters, and how this character influenced their writing?"
The Creator's Game: A Story of Baaga'adowe/Lacrosse by Art Coulson (Minnesota Historical Society Press): recommendation from Debbie Reese at American Indians in Children's Literature. Peek: "Coulson's storytelling delivers nuggets of info about the ways that Ojibwe people play lacrosse, and, the way that Cherokees play it."
Should You Revise and Resubmit? by Suzanne van Rooyen from QueryTrackerBlog. Peek: "Before committing to an overhaul, you need to ask yourself if the person requesting the R&R is someone you really want to work with, do you trust their opinion and will their suggestions improve your manuscript."
Barbara Park Remembered from Publishers Weekly. Peek: "Barbara Park, author of many books for children – including the bestselling Junie B. Jones series – died on Nov. 15 at age 66, after a long battle with ovarian cancer. Here, some of those with whom she enjoyed lengthy professional and personal relationships pay tribute." See more information.
Plotting Along: A Diagram of Key Plot Points by Janet S. Fox from Through the Wardrobe. Peek: "Today I’m posting the latest in my personal collection of plot diagrams, something I’ve put together based on the best plot diagrams I’ve found and used."
Dumpster Diving: An Observation on Socio-Economic Class in Children's Literature by Charlesbridge editor Yolanda Scott from CBC Diversity. Peek: "I’ll take with me into my editorial work is to look more carefully and deliberately for class markers and where they appear or don’t appear in text and art. Indeed, the latter is an intriguing issue to explore in any book: who is not in a given story, and why?"
Mentoring: Two-Way Learning by Juliet Marillier from Writer Unboxed. Peek: "Be prepared to make major changes, including cuts, to render your manuscript more readable / more publishable. Yes, even if it’s an aspect of the story that you are deeply fond of."
The Gingerbread Man's Top Five Writing Tips by Darcy Pattison from Fiction Notes. Peek: "Based on the folktale about this popular Christmas pastry that comes to life, the Gingerbread Man gives his writing tips." See also Frosty The Snowman's Top Five Writing Tips from Darcy and Take a Different Approach to Writing: Eat Dessert First by Amy Rose Capetta from Adventures in YA Writing.
- signed copy Penguin Cha-Cha by Kristi Valiant (Random House), bookmark, sticker, and magnet (PB)(U.S. only)
- one of two sets of Mitchell Goes Driving and Mitchell Goes Bowling by Hallie Durand (Candlewick)(PB)(North America)
- the Watersmeet trilogy--Watersmeet, The Centaur's Daughter and The Keeper by Ellen Jensen Abbott (Skyscape, 2009-2013) and a Kindle Paperwhite (YA)(U.S. only)
The winner of a signed copy of Conjured by Sarah Beth Durst is Alicia in Alabama.
See also the 12 Days of Christmas Giveaway from Latin@as in Kid Lit: Exploring the World of Latino/a YA, MG, and Children's Literature. Peek: "From Christmas Day through Three Kings Day (Jan. 6), one lucky winner will win one of these (12) awesome books."
See also Giveaway of One or Two Things I Learned about Love by Dylan Sheldon (Candlewick), plus new YA releases from Adventures in YA Writing.
This Week at Cynsations
- Kristi Valiant on Marrying Art to Text in Picture Books
- Lindsey McDivitt on Positive Images of Aging in Picture Books
- Ellen Jensen Abbott on World Building & Verisimilitude
- Dori Hillstad Butler on Writing Chapter Books & The Haunted Library
|Gingerbread Who-ville at the Four Seasons Austin|
Deadline time! I'm pushing hard to finish my draft of the manuscript titled Feral Pride, which will be book 3 in the Feral series.
That said, I stole a little play time and consequently highly recommend "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" and "Frozen," both of which feature strong girl protagonists (Frozen has two of them!).
In other news...
Congratulations to Debbie Reese, recipient of the 2013 Virginia Mathews Scholarship! Peek: "The purpose of the Virginia Mathews Memorial Scholarship is to provide tuition to an American Indian individual who lives and works in an American Indian community, and who is enrolled, or has been accepted and will enroll, in a master's degree program at a university with a library and/or information sciences program accredited by the American Library Association for the 2013-2014 academic school year."
Find out the one thing I wouldn't change about the Feral series no matter what from YA Series Insiders.
Converting Prose to Graphic Novels with Cynthia Leitich Smith by Annemarie O'Brien from Quirk and Quill. Peek: "Think about offering new content or perspective with the goal of adding value for your readers. Perhaps tell the 'same' story from a secondary character’s point of view, for example."
YA Lit Boy Characters that Inspire Crushes from A Simple Love of Reading. Note: fun to see Kieren from the Tantalize series on this list.
A Celebration of Native American and Aboriginal Girls from A Mighty Girl. Note: pleased to see Jingle Dancer featured among recomendations.
- And the New Wonder Woman Is...
- Mothers & Daughters: Bodies & Voices
- YA Readers Prefer Printed to E-Books from The Guardian
- Han Solo's Original DL-44 Blaster Up for Sale
- No Limits: The Emerging New Adult Market
- Nine Reasons to Say "Goodbye" to Your Critique Group
- Author Turns His Closet into Best Home Office Ever
- Injunuity: Two Spirit
- Literary self-loathing: How Jonathan Franzen, Elizabeth Gilbert and more keep it at bay
Wow. So, there was this week where we came off the Con, and I only exercised for 6 points. That was kind of pathetic. I was colding, so there you go.
And then there was the week of Thanksgiving, where I maxed out at an incredible 41 points, walking around airports and Disney and the like. And yes, I was pretty honest about it, neither exaggerated or low key.
This week we're more or less back at a normal pace.
How's about the weight then? At the end of Week 5, there was no meeting, because of the holiday. That brings us to this Tuesday, the end of Week 6.
Beginning Wii Weight: 223.8 (My heaviest ever after this summer.)
Wii Weight on 11-20-13: 215.4
Total: 8.4 pounds LOST
Weight Watchers on Initial Weigh In: 224
Weight Watchers on 11-19-13: 217.4
Total: 6.6 pounds LOST
The Weight Watcher's scale picks up a tiny loss, but the home scale a tiny gain.
What happened: Disney was a food orgy, but I counted all the food and exercise. I did attempt some moderation and parsimony, but I also failed (Cuban food, ice cream, etc). The coolest thing, though, is that when I stepped on the scale at the first available opportunity, Monday, I HAD NOT GAINED ANY WEIGHT ON THE DISNEY VACATION. So that's the advantage of maintaining 215 pounds, as to, say 165. That's not great news, but it doesn't suck either.
Now that I am back in the land of real people eating real food on a real budget, I am much more optimistic about next week.
It's important to note two things here:
As far as Weight Watchers is concerned, my only movement is down.
Today on the Wii, I weight 213.2 pounds, which bodes well for my weigh in next week, as I have no plans to return to Cuban Food Paradise (Bongo's), Be Our Guest, or even T-Rex (an extinction every dinner!) for quite some time.
Gods, I love theme dining. Dinner under a glacier or in the Beast's torn to shreds study. Yeah. Home just doesn't have atmosphere.
Okay. So, next week, an earlier report.
Mirrored from Writer Tamago.
"The challenge is to list 15 books you've loved and been transformed by, right off the top of your head."
1. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
2. Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë
3. War for the Oaks, by Emma Bull
4. Lord of the Rings, by JRR Tolkien
5. Frederica, by Georgette Heyer (It's not even one of my favorite Heyers anymore - but it was my first, I was blown away by it, and it was my gateway drug to the rest of Georgette Heyer and all other Regency romances!)
6. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis (which, really sadly, doesn't totally work for me anymore, as I discovered when I read it to MrD - but I really loved the series as a kid)
7. The Crocodile on the Sandbank, by Elizabeth Peters
8. The Wood Wife, by Terri Windling
9. Ballet Shoes, by Noel Streatfeild
10. Saffy's Angel, by Hilary McKay
11. Beauty, by Robin McKinley
12. Sunshine, by Robin McKinley
13. I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith
14. State of Wonder, by Ann Patchett
15. Beacon at Alexandria, by Gillian Bradshaw
I'm going to follow the rules of the meme by leaving that list unedited - but now that it's all typed up and I've had a chance to look back over it, I can't believe I didn't think to include The Bean Trees, by Barbara Kingsolver, because wow, did I fall in love with that book and read it over and over again for a while in late high school - it really did feel like one of those transformative books at the time, so it certainly deserves a spot on the list!
(Probably more so than State of Wonder, actually - I was amazed and blown away by State of Wonder, but I'm not sure I felt personally transformed by it in the same way, maybe just because I was older when I read that one - and of course The Bean Trees is all about growing up and coming of age, and I read it at just the right personal moment for that.)
What about you guys? Which books would be on your lists?
- Wed, 13:08: Feeling good & got plenty of sleep. Hopefully my exercise will reflect that. Busy day today: prescription & med pick up plus the usuals.
- Wed, 13:09: And I WILL get past this stupid scene that's had me banging my head for 2 days. Stupid revisions. Time to sweat!
- Wed, 13:12: I spent 30 minutes doing fitbit hip hop abs ab sculpt 1. 0 calories burned. #LoseIt
- Wed, 13:12: I spent 35 minutes doing fitbit hula, tahitian cardio. 0 calories burned. #LoseIt
- Wed, 13:12: I spent 25 minutes doing fitbit rockin' body party express. 0 calories burned. #LoseIt
- Wed, 17:22: Since I'll be busy tomorrow, and thre's not much left to cover, I'm trying to get this last edit done and back to the publisher tonight.
- Wed, 17:23: Then the paid editing work for the small press with next to no taste/standards will be done. Thank god this one is a GOOD one. VERY good.
- Wed, 19:02: I spent 43 minutes lifting weights. 147 calories burned. #LoseIt
- Wed, 22:36: This. Oh so this. https://t.co/9nnqXMyzJF
- Wed, 23:11: Okay, serriously need to stay away from the Facebook and start revising. Yes, yes, I do. Just as soon as I'm not pissed off anymore. :P