Friday, January 27, 2012

Revising for Consistency

I’m one of those writers who has to get back into the story by revisiting parts of the book I’ve already written. When I do that, of course I make changes. So I’ve been through the First Half many more times than the Second Half. Somewhere in the middle of my novel there’s a fuzzy, transition zone and then suddenly I’m in the Second Half of the book, which in places seems to bear only a passing resemblance to the First Half. So now my challenge is to strengthen Second Half so that I end up with a seamless novel. At the moment, I'm tackling two different areas:

Story world. In First Half, where I’m still working on setting up the story world, I'm extra careful to include the right details. By the time I get to Second Half, suddenly my main character who's been raised in the wilderness since infancy knows how to read a clock. I don’t think so. To help with keeping the world consistent, I'm drawing sketches of buildings and maps, making lists of technology, foods, power sources, etc.
Voice. In First Half, I've worked hard to eliminate words like "but", "walked" and "looked" and to write from my character's perspective, making those interesting internal observations that she'd make. A Wordle on First Half shows me I’ve used the word “was” 18 times. In Second Half, I’ve used “was” 284 times!
Um...I think a little more work is needed.

-- Andrea

Friday, January 20, 2012

Signing my First Contract

My birthday was on Tuesday, and I received a special and unusual present in the mail: a contract from Highlights Magazine to purchase one of my short stories.

I have to say, I thought that when my first contract showed up for my fiction work--and from competitive Highlights, no less--I'd feel this tremendous validation. And hey, when I opened the letter, I definitely fist pumped the air. Yes!

I'm ashamed to admit how soon it took me to go from elation to "I can't believe I haven't finished the next scene in my novel, I have so much revision work to do, I wish I was a better, faster writer!!"

So here is a message to my internal editor: Look, you stupid internal editor, Highlights wants my fiction story. Say "congratulations," internal editor. I know it's killing you, but say it anyway.

I think many of us feel this way. If I get an agent, if I get a contract, I'll be a "real writer." Then the goal we work so hard to achieve happens, and we're like, huh, I have a lot work to do. In a way, it's a good thing that the work itself is our true validation. If we waited for encouragement from the publishing world to keep us going, we'd never get books written. The thing is, the story was just as good before I received the contract. I was simply fortunate that an editor liked it.

Thank you very much, Highlights, for liking my story. And thank you for teaching me a small lesson about motivation.

-- Kate

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Comic: Disappointment For Billy

While going through my comic archives to tag and catalog in prep for my Inkygirl/Will Write For Chocolate comic compilation, I came across this very old comic. I still feel sorry for Billy...

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Roller Coaster

The click, click, click of the wheels cutting across the tracks.

Higher and higher until hanging at the crest of the peak.

To fall.

Flying, stomach dropping, lungs screaming.

And then-

Back into dark tunnels, sharp corners, unexpected turns.

Until the end is reached. The ride has finished. Leaving me breathless and wanting more.

I don't know about you, but this has been my journey as a writer. Sometimes the tunnels feel too dark and I don't know if I can keep writing. But that's why I have my writing friends. To encourage me and keep me from giving up.

Then there are other times I'm standing on the peak and I don't want that feeling to ever end. But it's during those times that my writing partners are there for me, cheering me on.

How about you? Have you ridden any roller coasters lately?


Saturday, January 14, 2012

"Trust your hopes, not your fears."

Something interesting happened to me this week. I was telling my seventeen-year-old about my latest book and right in the middle of a sentence, I realized something very important. And scary as hell.
I’ve been writing the wrong book.
I’ve spent the last six months focusing on this project. I’ve obsessed about the opening sentence and first chapter. (In fact, I’ve written about four different versions of that first chapter.) But I’ve finally found some good, solid ground and spent weeks on a detailed outline and character analysis. I’ve got some clever stuff and forward momentum. And a decent amount of pages. But the fact remains, it’s the wrong book.
So. I’m trusting my hopes (and taking a break from my fears) and scrapping the last six months of work. I’m keeping the heart of my book but going a new direction. I'm a little disappointed I've been going in circles and I don't feel particularly brave. I know starting over won’t be easy but it needs to be done. And (*looks around*) I'm the only one here.
It’s kind of funny. The question my main character must answer is this: Would you stand up for what you thought was right - even if you knew it could go all wrong?
She does.
And so I am.
Wish us luck.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Time Is Worth Gold

I don't know about you, but my writing time is like GOLD. Between a full time job, kids and keeping my house somewhat clean, the hours can slip away if I let them. But at the same time, I'm lucky because I'm a teacher. That means Christmas and summers off. Still, this seems to be the biggest issue for me for my writing.

How do I find the time?

1. Determine set times in the day to write and stick to those. So for me it's an hour and half in the mornings before I have to get ready for work (unfortunately that means 5-6:30 am) and then again at nights, usually from 8 until I can't see straight.

2. Trade kid time with my supportive hubby. We do special kid times on the weekends. So I take the boys for a few hours so my hubby gets his stuff done, and then I'm in charge of the kids for a few hours. I try to make those moments with my kids special so that when I hand them over to my husband, I can get back to my writing guilt free.

3. Babysitter- I haven't used this yet, but it's definitely in my arsenal!

4. Always on the brain!- this means that I'm planning what to write while I drive to school that morning or when I take a shower or cook dinner. Because when it's time to sit down and write, I don't have the time to mess around.

5. For us MiGs we did check ups and on each other during the month of NaNo to motivate each other to keep writing. We'd email each other our word counts for the day and that helped me keep accountable to staying focused.

I can't tell you how much I would love to have the luxury of writing full time, but that's not an option right now so instead of complaining about it, I'm trying to stay positive and remember that I'm doing what I love more than anything else.

Any ideas that you'd like to share?


Monday, January 9, 2012

MiG Goals, or How to Make 2012 an Incredible Year

We've come a long way this year at MigWriters. Car and Christy have agents now, Debbie's I'M BORED picture book will be releasing soon, and the rest of us have had our shoulders to the grindstone, too. The odds are strongly in favor of us having a great 2012. I hope you'll follow us at our new Facebook site,, and let's keep our conversations on writing going both ways.

Setting goals is a writing philosophy. Some writers are die-hard goal setters who draw up action items and timelines. Other writers think yearly goals change too fast and think in terms of months instead. But what is your real big ticket, huge priority for the year?

Here's where we MiGs are putting our energies in 2012:

Kate: I have many goals this year, including a goal to keep setting goals all year round. My main focus is to be POSITIVE--positive thoughts and positive actions. I want to focus on novel writing and not get distracted by short stories and contests. There's not enough time in the day to do it all, and being a novelist is what matters most to me. I have three novels I want to work on this year: one
revision, one rewrite, and one deep outline of something new.

Andrea: My goals this year haven't changed much from last year:  finish a revision (Novel #4), finish a rewrite (Novel #3) and start a brand new project (Novel #5). I don't let myself work on something new until the revisions are done and in a resting or submission phase, so I want to push myself to get to that new project, even if it's just a detailed outline. I've also posted about my goals on my blog, since I find that helps me stay accountable

Car: My writer's goals for the year are very simple: Finish a draft of the book I'm working on and start revisions. OR - if the MG that's about to go out to editors is immediately snatched up and they want to offer me a two-book deal (hey, a girl can dream big, cant' she?!) - write that story's companion book. :-) 
I also plan to read a book a month.

Christy: This year I've decided to focus my goal around a single word. My word for the year is *STRENGTHEN*. Ways I intend to make this happen: 
1. *Read*- focusing on diversifying my reading choices and going beyond my standby favorites
2. *Attend conferences*-  to build my craft and network
3. *Finish revising my current WIP* and transforming it into a book that's even better than anything I've ever written yet.
4. *Write another book* (grin)- but for this one I'd like to try a genre that I haven't written in yet. I'm excited about this one too! 

I did a blog post over at my blog as well: 

1. Minimize my online time during the mornings so I can get more creative work accomplished first thing in the day. I posted about this on my own blog ( ). 
2. Finish and send out more book projects, including my YA novel, an illustrated chapter book and two picture books. 
3. Read more! Sounds weird, but I realize I need to actually schedule in reading time, else it takes a back burner to other stuff. 
4. Find fun & interesting ways to promote I'M BORED<> and
TOMO <>, both of which come out this year. 

5. Post more regularly in the MiG Writers blog! :-) 

What's your focus this year? Let us know in the comments what your priorities are so we can cheer each other on.

-- Kate

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A half-million words (sort of) and counting

I bet you’ve heard the saying that goes something like: you must write a million words before you can consider yourself a writer. I’ve also heard it as “You must write a million words of crap before can write something publishable" and a few other variations. The author of this wisdom depends on which source you check. But the sentiment is the same - a writer must write. A lot.

Just for fun - and not because I’m procrastinating again or anything - I decided to guesstimate how many words I’ve written. You know, not including grocery lists, high school essays, love poems, and the like.

Let’s see…. I have:

1 parenting guide 50,000 words

4 activities books (x 30,000) 120,000

3 activities (younger readers) (x25,000) 75,000

2 teacher resources (x25,000) 50,000

1 MG novel (unpublished but done!) 40,000

1 YA novel (unpublished but done!) 45,000

At least 40 articles/essays (x750) 30,000

That’s come up to (hmmm...stupid math...carry the one, add to the next column…)

410,000 words!

*fist pump* Cool! I’m (sort of) almost half way there!

How many words have you committed to paper since you’ve decided to get serious about writing? I think it’s always valuable, especially when we’re struggling to get where we’re going, to go back and see just how far we’ve come. Seems like a new year is the perfect time to do this.