Friday, August 31, 2012

Celebrate Your Writing Milestones

Writing is such hard work, it's important to celebrate the milestones along the way. Some things I celebrate during the writing process:

1) Getting a great idea for a story

2) Finally writing something doable for a tricky section that didn't seem like it was EVER going to work

3) Finishing a first draft

4) Finishing revisions to a draft


5) Getting to see my words in print

This is what I got in the mail this week:

I celebrated by posting about it on my blog and showing the books off to anyone who happens by (thanks for indulging me).

Coming next week MiG Writer Debbie Ridpath Ohi has a big milestone to celebrate too! The picture book she recently illustrated, I'm Bored, written by Michael Ian Black, will be available in bookstores on Tuesday! I'm going to celebrate that by reading a copy to my kindergarten students! Yay, Debbie!!!

I hope you had some writing-related success to celebrate this week too! What milestones do you like to celebrate? What's your favourite way to applaud your writing accomplishments?


Friday, August 17, 2012

An Exotic Cover for An Infidel in Paradise

You'll have to excuse the double posting (also over on That's Another Story) but I'm too excited about this news not to want to spread it all over. One of our very own MiG Writers, Susan J. Laidlaw, can now show off the cover of her YA, An Infidel in Paradise. Her book is being published by Tundra Books and comes out in February 2013. Here's her cover:

And her blurb from Amazon:

Set in Pakistan, this is the story of a teen girl living with her mother and siblings in a diplomatic compound. As if getting used to another new country and set of customs and friends isn't enough, she must cope with an increasingly tense political situation that becomes dangerous with alarming speed. Her life and those of her sister and brother depend on her resourcefulness and the unexpected help of an enigmatic Muslim classmate.

All of the MiGs are thrilled! You can find out more about Susan at her agency's website. Watch for future interviews with Susan about her writing and inspiration.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Grace in the Face of Disappointment

This is a photo of 1,800 kids standing on the field of Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis right before the 2012 Drum Corps International World championships were announced. It’s kind of hard photo to look at because I think it’s missing some people - my son and his marching corps.

If you read my last blog post, you know that my son and the rest of the Blue Stars were in the semi-finals this past week. We got word late Friday afternoon that they missed the finals by three-tenths of a point. Outscored at the worst possible time by another corps that had been trailing them all summer. Noticed that I used the word “outscored” and not “beat.” That’s because there seems to be a consensus the Blue Stars were victims of some politics. 

Lest you think I am a prejudice mom, I would like to share that numerous people from other corps stopped me at the finals - I was wearing a Blue Stars shirt and hat - and told me they felt the group got robbed. (I wasn't the only one this happened to either.) And, most telling, an alum from the other corps made it a point to come to our website and post on the message board that he thought what happened was wrong. 

But this isn’t a sour grapes or “let’s cry foul!” post. It’s about grace in the face of disappointment.

When my son texted me to let us know he wasn’t moving onto the finals, I knew he was deeply disappointed. How could he not be? He and his friends had worked all year and poured their hearts and souls into their music. Despite spending a small fortune on tickets, I told my son I’d try to sell them or let them go unused so he didn’t have to sit in the stadium and watch other kids get to do what he wanted to do.

My son said no and decided to join us in the stands, proudly wearing his Blue Stars jacket to boot. When the other corps came on and performed, my son politely clapped. “They worked just as hard,” he said. “We shouldn’t take that away from them.” Because I’m not that big of a person, I didn’t clap. (But I did try to remember that as sad as the Blue Stars were that's how happy the members of the other corps were; the anger should be at the judges and not the kids.) When they were done, the worst thing my son said was that he thought the Blue Stars show was stronger. I was amazed and humbled by his attitude and told him so. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have been nearly as gracious.  

Other corps came on the field and performed. And as the night went on, I noticed something really cool. Instead of being all depressed and resentful, my son was enjoying himself. In fact, during one corps show he could barely contain his excitement as they pulled off a drill movement that is as impressive to watch as it is to do. He become animated and excitedly telling me about the music and moves. When the group was done, he stood on his feet and cheered. And that’s when I was struck with this realization: he’s a fan first.

His passion for marching and music is what brought him to the marching corps to begin with and he was just honored to be a small part of it. Because he'd been in the trenches himself, he knew what it took and what it meant for those other kids to be there in the finals. 

It happens in life. And it happens in this business of writing.
Often times, we don’t get what we want or fall short of a goal. The dream agent says no. The editor sends us a form rejection. Or the acquisitions committee takes a pass. The reviews are less than stellar. The book doesn’t sell or goes out of print. And it’s difficult. Very, very difficult to sit in the stands and watch other people get what we want. 

We work just as hard.
We want it just as much.
We think our work is just as good - and, often times, it is.

But there are politics, bad timing and subjective judges and sometimes things simply don’t go in our favor. It’s not a reflection of us or of the other writer. 

When we fall short, we shouldn’t let our disappointment take away from someone else’s work. We should not only enjoy but celebrate other writers’ success. Stand up and cheer loudly because that’s what we’d like when it’s finally our turn. 

I don’t know about you, but I came to writing because I love books. But even so, I don’t read nearly enough these days. That’s in part because I find it hard not to feel a little envious. But I’m going to try to work on that. Being a story teller is one of the most honorable callings and I’m blessed to be a part of it. 

Be a fan first. This is what my son taught me this past weekend. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Finis Cornonat Opus

My oldest son has been marching in the Blue Stars, a World Class drum and bugle corps, this summer. (You can check them out in action here. But please don’t ask me to pick out my son - I can never find him unless he’s standing still.) It’s his rookie year and, from what I hear, it’s been a baptism by fire. The drill* is killer this year. It’s incredibly fast and tight and the kids have been struggling all summer to clean it up** and gain the respect of judges who seemed to have pigeoned-holed them early on. I’m talking literal blood, sweat and tears, not to mention twelve hour days on the field. But last night, their last show of the regular season, the kids scored their highest yet and beat out a rival for the first time all summer. It was a real high for these kids who have been working their butts off. And it was a great way to for them to move into finals week. They seem to be peaking at just the right time. 
Why am I telling you all this? Well, besides the fact I’m a very proud mama? :-)  It’s because the Blue Stars have this great motto and I think it something worth sharing. 
Finis Cornonat Opus
It’s Latin and the basic translation is “The end crowns the work.” 
Isn’t that awesome? And so true. When I get bogged down in the messy, hard day-to-day work of writing, I try to remember this. Getting to the end will be worth it. Having a book I’m proud of will be worth it. All the work - the tears, angst, frustration, pain in my hands and wrists, research, worrying, never ending doubt and sacrifices to spend time writing - will pay off.  
I think that’s true for all of us. So this week, remember Finis Cornonat Opus and of course (cover your ears), GO BLUE STARS!!

* Drill - the visual lines and movement on the field
**Clean up - straighten their lines and move when they’re supposed to / play the right notes etc

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


Hey guys! It's been a while since I posted. I've been traveling a lot this summer and I went to two writing workshops. Plus I finished a massive revision on my latest YA (this book is trying to kill me) and played around with some picture books. So yeah, crazy!

I'm also a guest vlogger for August on Wednesdays at the YA Rebels. It's been a lot of fun so far. This week our topic is on Superpowers! And if you had a superpower what would it be?

Now I must admit I like this topic because I love to use superpowers in my books. So when creating characters with superpowers, where do you begin?

When I'm creating characters with superpower abilities, I first choose my character's superpower. This power will drive my character's motivations and conflict throughout the story so it's key that I pick the right one.

Superpower Categories (not comprehensive):

1. Energy Propulsion- these powers would control cosmic, gravitational, energy, or have telekinetic power
2. Mentality-based abilities- strong thinking powers
3. Physical or mental domination- think mind control for this one
4. Manipulation- can manipulate weather, temperatures, animals, plants, even reality warping
5. Travel and transportation- time travel, portals, omnipresence, summoning
6. Shape shifter- size shifting, elasticity, animal morphing, mimicry
7. Object based powers- like rings, amulets, books and such that give power.

Now once you have chosen a power for your character, your next step is:

1. Consider it's affects on your characters internal conflict and external conflict. How does this power affect your character in their daily life? Does it make them fearful of the world around them? Empowered? Does it limit them? How will this power change the character's life for good and bad?

2. Their antithesis- With every power you should bring in what stops their power. Think about Superman with his kryptonite. It's the object he knows that can neutralizes his powers and make him mortal. Now your character's kryptonite doesn't have to be an object. It could be a mental block or a fear. But by bringing in that antithesis, you are upping the stakes in your story.

So now that I've thrown some superpower fun ideas for your next novel, check out my vlog for examples of YA books that use superpowers.

Can you guess my superpower? And what do you think my antithesis is?

If you had a superpower, what would yours be?

~Christina Farley