Wednesday, May 30, 2007


I finally have Microsoft Word and oh what I’ve been missing. I can read comments! Lines and lines of wonderful comments my fabulous writer friends have so wonderfully shared with me.
I couldn’t help but read through every single crit(and my computer didn’t crash!) as I filed them away and this made me realize a few things:

  • I’m a slacker. I have a lot of material I need to revise and get out into the world.
  • Wordperfect really does suck. I even found two mistakes (clearly pointed out by Word) in the manuscript I sold. How embarrassing.
  • I really miss my critique buds that have drifted away.
  • Using colors and strikeouts and bubbles is cool. I’ll have to figure out how to do it.
  • I’m not a very good critiquer, but I’m trying.

    I’m so happy I finally have Word. Now I can get my manuscripts organized. Right now they’re everywhere—in my email, on disc, on two different computers, then there’s all the ones on pieces of paper in various notebooks and around the house. It’s nice to be able to sit down to write and actually be able to find what you’re looking for. Having finally gotten this computer thing taken care of, I have hope that I can get my manuscripts organized. Just don’t look in my desk!

Sunday, May 27, 2007


I’ve been working on a picture books manuscript, trying to get it to be a page turner. At the advice of Linda Pratt, an agent with the Sheldon Fogelman Agency, I have made a dummy. Now, my dummies are nothing fancy. I took eight pieces of fluorescent green paper, folded them in half, and wrote my story in pencil–what I think would logically go on each page.

Dummying is a really depressing—I mean helpful, exercise. As I wrote my story down I came to some quick realizations:

Some portions of the story do not have a definite page break.
Some parts are too long.
Some parts don’t have a good feature to illustrate.
Some parts just suck.

So, I’ve cut, added, and restructured. I hope the manuscript is the better for it, but I do miss some of the parts I had to cut. Many of them were my favorite scene set-ups—I’ll have to leave that for the illustrator. And I’ll tuck those lines away. Maybe I’ll find a use for them someday.

I have to admit, I don’t dummy often; only once that I can remember. Sometimes I do a rough numbering of paragraphs to see where I’m at, but after this I’m going to have to dummy every picture book I write. It really gave me a good perspective on what I need to do to make a salable manuscript.

I think I may even experiment with writing in dummy form. I’ll be forced to create a page turn from the start, make scenes more even and uniquely illustratable, and, of course, I’ll try to make things not suck. Who knows? I just might work a little faster and hopefully a little better.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Just play nice!

I have been wanting Microsoft Word for a while now. Back when we bought our computer, I had no idea about what word processing software I might want. I just took what came with the computer. But, I've learned some things in the past few years.

Now I know, most people(in my writing world anyway) use Word. And Wordperfect does not play well with Word. Wordperfect is more like Word's jealous little brother who, instead of compromising and doing a little give and take, instead turns around and says I'm not playing with you. Well, I've had enough of the arguments.

A friend was over the other day and she had a disc, with Word on it! She copied my files, wiped my computer, and put in the disc. One problem--the file wouldn't unzip. I don't know alot about computers, but I do know if my jacket won't unzip, I'm not getting out of it--and I'm not happy.

So, now I have a nice computer with absolutely no word processing software on it. Do I use my word processor everyday? No. I do alot of writing by hand, but for some reason, not having a word processor is driving me crazy. I have so much to type! I sure hope she comes back with the reformatted disc soon. I'd go over, but it's a long walk over a big mountain, and I have writing to do.

Don't even get me started on bandwidth.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

First Reading

I did it! My first real reading--and I didn't die.

I have been living promotion for the Author Fair put on by my library for the past few weeks and had been able to ignore the fact that I was going to have to get up in front of people. Then, all was in order and it hit me. I started worrying. I cried. I lost sleep. I thought of plenty of good excuses to get out of it. Luckily, after one night of that I decided I wasn't going to worry about it anymore. I lied to myself. I said it would be okay; that I would enjoy it. I even told myself I was excited. No negativity was going to penetrate my fantasy reading!

So, today I sat on a pillow in front of the fireplace surrounded by children(a group of my kid's friends I had somehow had the foresight to gather, otherwise I would have been reading to a room full of adults and might have had to use one of my excuses). I started with some talk about the library with the kids and asked them a question and boom--I was interrupted with an announcement about the bathroom. Yeah thanks.

I went on. I was prepared and was going to get through this. "You're not loud enough," rang out from the crowd. I talked louder.

When I started reading I suddenly sounded very strange. Oh no, I think, I'm losin' it. I'm not going to make it through this. What am I going to do? My kids are here thinking I'm amazing. There's all these people...

Wait. I'm not losin' it, I am speaking into a microphone and everybody can hear me. Yes I know, that's the point of a microphone, but I have really tried to stay away from those things my entire life. It had been snuck right in front of me. Which is a good thing or I may have had to chuck the mic back at Steve. But, he knows me well enough to know that sneaking a microphone in front of me is the only way to go. It was too late. I knew I had to ignore the evil mic or suffer a most heinous consequence.

I read on, waiting for the last page. Would it ever come? The chapter really isn't that long! What's the deal? When will it end. Aaargh!
I can honestly say I loved reading those last few lines.

I even remembered after reading to show the kids the pictures for each chapter of the book and tell them about the illustrator, tell them there is a peanut butter cup recipe in the back, and invite them to come color some coloring pages from the book. Then I thanked them. I really thought I was losing my memory, but I guess it's there when it really counts. I only used my cheat cards once, after the bathroom incident.

So, I guess it went okay. I was glad when it was over. And after being up there by myself the author question and answer panel didn't seem like such a big deal, especially since I wasn't asked any questions. At this moment I feel like, hey, maybe I could do that radio interview. I learned today that I at least know more about publishing than the average joe and more than some people who write even. But ask me tomorrow, and I'm sure I'll be far from wanting to do any of it ever again. Unfortunately, I have to, so I am going to remember the positives, even if I have to make them up. I think lying to myself was quite helpful. I'll have to do it more often.

The best thing about the whole day? My six-year-old wanted to talk about the fun he had today. And the "funnest" thing he did all day was watch me read my book. And my daughter is so proud. They are the real reason I made myself do this. I tell them it's okay to get up in front of people. It's okay to be nervous. I'm glad I was able to show them as well.