February 2014 Archives

The kind of story

The kind of story a writer ends up telling is the result of the kind of person that the writer is.
Chris Van Allsburg

Moving Story - The Stamp Collector

StampCollector.JPGThe Stamp Collector (Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2012) by Jennifer Lanthier and illustrated by Francois Thisdale is a compelling picture book. It's the story of two boys--one a stamp collector and one who loved words. One was from the city and poor. One was from the country.

The poor boy leaves school and takes a job as a prison guard. The country boy after seeing crops fail leaves school and goes to work in a factory. He writes. His stories bring hope to the villagers, but the grey men take him away. They say "words are dangerous" and send him to prison.

Both the guard and the prisoner are lonely, but there is no talking, no friendship, no laughter. The writer's story is spreading. Letters start arriving for the writer, but he's not allowed to see them. The guard saves a stamp, then another. One day he reads the letters. He can't break the rules and give them to the prisoner. But he gives him a stamp. Then another. "Every stamp tells a story without words."

When the prisoner gets sick, the guard brings him the letters that beg for another story. In whispers, he has the prisoner tell him a new story. He is holding the prisoner's hand when he dies. The guard leaves his job, goes to a faraway library and begins to write.

This book has won a Crystal Kite Award and an Ezra Jack Keats Book Award.

Go to the author's site to hear about her inspiration for this story.

Go to the illustrator's site to see more of his beautiful artwork!

Cute Grandma Story - Silly Frilly Grandma Tilly

Silly_Frilly_GT.jpgSilly Frilly Grandma Tilly (Flash Light Press, 2012) by Laurie A. Jacobs and illustrated by Anne Jewett is a fun read with fun illustrations. Here's a quote:
"Grandma Tillie says she is too old to play games.
She says all she likes to do is sit and knit."

But once the parents are gone, she disappears and out comes the lady with the bright pink hair and it's The Tillie Vanilly Show, including dancing. Next up is the lady with the lampshade hat and Chef Silly Tillie's Diner, including singing. Madame Frilly Tillie comes to make them gooooorgeous in the bath. Kid narrator wonders who will come to put them to bed. Chole wants plain Grandma Tillie. To the end Grandma Tillie denies dancing, but when Sophie closes her eyes, she's sure she hears her Silly Frilly Grandma Tillie dancing.

The book has been announced as a winner of the Gelett Burgess Center Children's Book Award.

Read more about author Laurie A. Jacobs here.

Learn about illustrator Anne Jewett here.

The general rule of

The general rule of thumb is to use three resources for each fact you state in your manuscript.  A rule to remember is:  If you just use one source, it's called plagiarism.  If you use three sources, it's called research.
Nancy I. Sanders

The fact is that

The fact is that blank pages inspire me with terror. What will I put on them? Will it be good enough? Will I have to throw it out? And so forth. I suspect most writers are like this.
Margaret Atwood


This phrase has so many meanings. "Back up" as in physically move backwards; we might tell someone to "back up" when they told us something we didn't understand. We might ask someone if they had a "backup" - either a plan or duplicates of their computer files when it died. I say the Internet is "back up" after my connection has been down.

Back up is also an appropriate phrase to apply to writers.

Moving physically back is pretty obvious:
- we back up and reread for editing

- we go back to add necessary details or expand scenes
- we step back from our work to see it with a fresh eye.

Making "backups" is one we creative people often ignore.

We don't like making backup plans. Can't go to that event/conference after all? Agent A doesn't like our story. What if the editor rejects the new book? What will we do next? Having a plan in place, makes it easier to keep moving forward.

Probably the scariest "backup" fault we have is not having duplicates of our computer files. Each time I heard of someone losing all their files due to a hard drive failure, I'd tell myself I'd work harder at backing up more often. Every time my goal of once a month quickly dissolved and I only backed up a couple times a year. If I was doing well.

In 2006, I decided to change that. For my birthday I asked for an automatic backup device. Attached to my computer, it backed up my files EVERY NIGHT. I wondered why I didn't do it years ago...

But nothing is ever permanent in the world of computers. That device eventually failed. And I'd gotten a laptop, too. So I started saving everything from my desktop onto a usb thumb drive and copying it to my laptop. I did the reverse of copying any changes I made on the laptop back to the thumb drive and putting it back on my desktop.

file00043520561.jpgThat was great, but I worried about what would happen if my house burned down or someone broke in and stole all the electronics. For insurance, I got an online backup system--this was before people referred to storing items in "the cloud." Again, that system eventually failed to work. (It saved files, but I couldn't restore them anymore, so what was the point?)

Next, I was introduced to dropbox, which lets you store files online for free. Similarly to using a usb drive, it is a great way to transfer copies from one computer to another. Some people use dropbox as a way to backup their work. It's great if and when you remember to save copies there.

Last year, I decided to pay for an automatic online backup again. After listening to some discussions about services, I chose Carbonite. One of the things I love is it saves versions of files. In other words, if I wished I'd kept a copy of last week's file instead of overwriting it with this week's--both are there. It's really easy to use, too.

I know that was a long story, but partially I told it to show that there are different options and partially to show that you ALWAYS need to check that your backup method is still working and affective.

Okay, the last "back up" definition in my opening referred to being online. For me holiday preparations and activities take me off line for writing. Time is more limited. Focus is more difficult. Now that the holidays are over it is time for me to be "back up." Back focused, back spending enough time, back making progress on projects, back to submitting. How about you? Are you "back up"?

Wishing you the best at getting back up to speed, if you're not already, and to making those backups!

Cloud image courtesy of Doug Rivers on morguefile.com.

The desire to write

The desire to write grows with writing.