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Archive for the 'On writing' Category

Catching up

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

I have been very quiet here these last few months, not because I haven’t been busy, but precisely because I have been super-busy. Here are some of the things that have been going on:

* Gil Marsh was nominated for the 2013 Teen Choice Book Awards. (Voting is still open until February 13 here)

* In November, I had the great pleasure of participating in the Bring Your Own Book and Blanket evening at the Davis Street Elementary School in New Haven, Connecticut. I met with a great group of inquisitive and engaged students who joined me to think about how you go about writing books that include many different cultures.

* In December, I finished the novel that I had been working on for NaNoWriMo, only to realize that I have to entirely restructure the beginning. I have since been working double-time to complete a serviceable first draft. At some point I’ll share some of the fascinating research I have been doing to help it along.

* In January, I presented at the first Shoreline Arts Alliance Winter Workshops for Writers & Illustrators in Chester Connecticut, and discussed the art of revising novels. The workshops were well attended, and as a bonus, the proceeds went to benefit the Tassy Walden Awards: Fresh Voices in Children’s Literature.

And coming up:

* Gil Marsh will be released in paperback on February 26th. Woot!…

I’m a winner

Sunday, November 25th, 2012

Winner-180x180It's official. I have completed over 50,000 towards my novel, and that makes me a NaNoWriMo winner.


And what did I win? A lovely certificate with my name on it (which I've printed out), the authorized use of a NaNoWriMo winner's badge (to your left), and bragging rights.

I've not finished, however. My novel still has another several chapters to go, and so I'll try to keep up my pace for the rest of the month, and as far into December as it takes to get that first rough draft written.…

I’m a NaNoWriMo rebel

Monday, October 29th, 2012

This year I signed up for NaNoWriMo: that's National Novel Writing Month. It's taken place each November for the past 14 years. The challenge: to write 50,000 words (about 175 pages) towards a new novel in 30 days time.

I don't generally need incentives to write novels. I've published three, have four more in my files, and am currently in the middle of writing my eighth.* My problem is that I compose new fiction very slowly.

I've written about this before. I am much happier revising than creating from scratch — that's shaping what's already on the page, work that I enjoy.

Getting ideas in my head onto paper is hard. Until I've written it down, an idea is an unformed possibility. It's a series of images that I see taking shape. The act of writing fixes the image in time and space, like a written snapshot. My job is to not only describe each snapshot of my story, but make the story flow from one to the next in a way that makes sense. I can easily spend half an hour thinking of different ways a story might flow, to get from one snapshot to the next, and not have written a single word.

So, this latest novel I've been working on is about half-written. Maybe more, maybe less. I probably have another 50,000 words or so to go. I figure that if I am forced to get 50,000 words down in 30 days towards this novel, I have a good shot at finishing a rough draft before the year's end.

But, it turns out, that finishing a half-written novel doesn't comply with NaNoWriMo's rules. They state pretty clearly: "Start from scratch. None of your own previously written prose can be included in your NaNoWriMo draft."

Fortunately, the good folks at NaNoWriMo have given me a way out. Even if I've already written half my novel, I can still join. I'm just a rebel, in their parlance, and I'm welcome aboard. They even have a section in their Forum just for folks like me.


Check my blog. It'll keep you posted on my progress.

*Little known fact: most writers have written more than they shall ever publish.…

Writer’s block, and how to deal with it

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

I was recently contacted by Shaun Smith, a novelist and journalist in Toronto, who asked me to contribute to a column called “Fiction Craft” on the website Open Book Ontario. His question to me was: “What methods do you use to get the story moving forward again when the writing stalls?”

You can read my answer here, along with Shaun Smith’s and fellow-authors’ Heather Birrell, Julie Cross, Megan Crewe, Ursula Poznanski, Tess Fragoulis, Jill Williamson, Hilary Davidson, R.J. Harlick and C.C. Benison. …


Monday, January 9th, 2012

Over at Write Up Our Alley I blog about how I keep archives of my work on paper, and why. You can read the post here.…

Theft, a time-honored tradition

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

Over at Write Up Our Alley I blogged about where I got the ideas for my books. You can read the post here.…

Getting all the details in a graphic novel

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

Why did it take me 14 pages to describe 10 pages of a graphic novel? I explain over at Write Up Our Alley.

Getting to a first draft—using (or not using) outlines

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

Over at Write Up Our Alley I’ve answered another writing process FAQ, whether I use outlines when I write a novel. The answer: not initially. You can read the entire post here.…

Why I write by hand

Saturday, June 11th, 2011

In the last year I have been asked a lot of questions about my writing process. I have decided to start a sometimes-series on my blog to answer the most frequently asked questions.

The first question is: why do I still write with pen and paper and don’t usually compose on my computer? You can read my answer here.

My plan is to eventually create a FAQs page on this website which will gather all my answers in one place.

If you have any questions about my writing process, you can ask me them in the comments section of my blog, on my Facebook page, or by contacting me directly. I will try to answer as many as I can.…

Tassy Walden Awards, 2011

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

Last night I attended the 11th annual award celebration for the New Voices in Children’s Literature: Tassy Walden Awards at the beautiful Blackstone Library in Branford, Connecticut. We were treated to a warm welcome by our master of ceremonies, Doe Boyle; inspiring speeches by agent Julie Just, with Janklow & Nesbit, and by author Cat Urbain; and excerpts of the winning entries read by their authors.

My favorite words of wisdom for the evening came from Ms. Just. She told us to cultivate that thing inside of us that is original, that is ourselves. It is worth standing above the fray and not being just like everyone else. That’s what people look for. And as Cat Urbain emphasized, don’t give up: the world will eventually recognize true spark and embrace it.

My hearty congratulations go to:

  • this year’s winners: Anne Kubitsky (illustrated picture book), Betsy Devany MacLeod (middle grade novel), and Steve Parlato (young adult novel);
  • this year’s honorable mentions: Justin Van Deursen (illustrator’s portfolio); and Faith Hough (young adult novel);
  • this year’s finalists: Jordan Fenster, Maribel Girnius, Paula Wilson (picture book text); Jennifer Edwards, Natalie Fifer, Katherine Kopcha (illustrated picture book); Karen Lindeborg, Kate Lynch, Traci Grigg, Heather DiLorenzo (middle grade novel); and Leslie Cahill-Milford (young adult novel).

I look forward to seeing all of your names on bookshelves.…


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