August 2018 Archives

Conflict is drama and how

Conflict is drama, and how people deal with conflict shows you the kind of people they are.
Stephen Moyer

Its also important to not

It's also important to not rely on the same few readers for every revision. Get new eyes with new strengths.
Lauren Spieller

The Wizard's Dog

wizard'sdog.jpgIf you like dogs, humor, and magic (or at least two of the three), then The Wizard's Dog (Crown Books for Young Readers, 2017) by Eric Kahn Gale is the book for you.

The story is told from Nosewise's viewpoint. (He's the dog.) His master, the Wizard Merlin, and his pack mate Morgana, keep shutting him out of the study. He knows that Morgana is the favorite pet, but why is she allowed in when he isn't? One day Nosewise has had enough at being left out and barks and claws at the door. Morgana thinks it should be okay for him to be in the room, so Merlin gives in. Watching Morgana work on a spell, Nosewise wants to learn more tricks than sit! and stay!. When Merlin is kidnapped, it's a good thing Nosewise is not only interested in magic, but wants to get his master back.

The story made me laugh so often as I read and makes me smile just to think about it again. I also love the front cover and the spot illustrations by Dave Phillips.

You can watch a trailer for the book here.

This is the author's third book and was inspired by his own dog, Bowser. Read more about Eric and his other books here.

The Someday Birds

SomedayBirdscover.jpgThe Someday Birds (HarperCollins Children's Books, 2017) by Sally J. Pla is a moving and amazing story. I would have chosen this book as the Newbery winner if they'd let me.

Charlie likes routine. He's also fascinated by birds. His younger twin brothers and older sister are not so patient with his routines or interests. With Dad in the hospital and not able to speak due to a brain injury from his time as a war journalist in Afghanistan, Gram is staying with them. None of them like the fact that Charlie speaks too directly about Dad's condition. But life is about to change drastically for all of them, including a lady who might be a spy, a road trip, and of course for Charlie, birds.

I love how the chapter headings are related to birds in some way. I also love this story being in Charlie's viewpoint and how he deals with his OCD/sensitivity/autism spectrum issues.

This award-winning book is the author's debut. Read more about her here and about her other books here. And you should definitely read this blog post about what it was like for her as a child and how a teacher made a difference.

Cutting Back on the Feed

firefighter-1851945_1280.jpgList serves, newsletters, blog posts, and social media can become a firehose blast of information. I love using them when I need inspiration or motivation to write. I search for info when I have questions or want more information on a topic. And I follow editors and agents to see what they are interested in and what they are talking about. But how do you know if you are involved in too much?

The answer will be different for each creative person at different times. At the beginning, we all have a lot to learn. A beginner should probably spend more time on absorbing information, learning craft, learning how the business works, and examining what is in the market now. Seasoned writers/illustrators should have a background of understanding--not that they can't learn more--so should spend less time. However, it all depends on your purpose for subscribing, joining, participating, reading, etc.

Here are some ideas to consider:

How much time a day do you spend on the following: taking in the feed of information, the business of writing/illustrating, creating, and revising? Your answers may be different each day, so you might need to chart a week or two to see what is actually happening. Be honest with yourself.

Is your schedule regularly out of balance? Whatever that balance should be for you, of course.

Do you have certain times that are dedicated to creating and/or revising? Are you allowing other things to interfere with those times?

Do you have too much to read in your allotted time? Or are you overwhelmed by how much there is?

Is some of the information not as valuable as it once was?

Are you learning something new?

Would receiving a list serve in digest format cut down on the number of emails sent from that group?

Do you need/enjoy the socialization you're getting or is it a drag on you mentally?

What are your current goals? You could be in a submission phase, so creating less, and that would be okay.

Are you actually creating? Are you making excuses for not creating? (ouch!) Or procrastinating? Chuck Wendig said, "Here are the two states in which you may exist: person who writes, or person who does not. If you write: you are a writer. If you do not write: you are not."

Answering these questions for yourself can help you determine if you need to adjust the feed. As Brooke Warner says, "For those of you dealing with too much too much too much, spend some time prioritizing." (From the post 3 Ways Writers Get Overwhelmed - and What to Do about It.)

My Coping Mechanisms:

Periodically I go through and unsubscribe from newsletters and blogs that I realize I'm not reading. Sometimes, I delete any nonpersonal posts over two months old. At times my life is too busy and I know something must go permanently, so I ruthlessly cut the "I would like to" reads and the "interesting, but not necessary" online writing groups.

In the past I've set myself a schedule allotting time for the tasks I want to complete. The only one that was allowed to exceed the scheduled time was creating. Some writers use a timer or install an app that nags. This can be to remind you to quit or to remind you to keep going.

Re-evaluation is necessary for me as life and creative needs change.

What are your coping mechanisms? Feel free to share in the comments. (If you can't see the comment box, click on the title above, then scroll down.)

There is no rule on

There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly; sometimes it's like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges.
Ernest Hemingway

For me writing is exploration

For me, writing is exploration; and most of the time, I'm surprised where the journey takes me.
Jack Dann