Monday, November 15, 2010

School Newspapers

I never wrote for my high school newspaper. I'm pretty sure we had one.

I did write for my college newspaper. I remember a fascinating story about elevators and I did a series of columns about my experience as an exchange student in London.

But I never interviewed an author. Maybe I should have.

Because I've been interviewed for a school paper.

Jillian, a high school student who edits the The Panther Press did an interview with me for her school paper. How cool is that? Go here to read the interview!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Poetry Friday - I Am The Wind

It's Poetry Friday once again, and while I toil on for my NaNoWriMo word count (more than half-way there!) I present another poem by my daughter. This one was done as a school assignment and ultimately found it's way into our local newspaper.

I Am The Wind
by KRM (grade 8)

I am flowing, yet wild.
I wonder what its like to be still.
I hear the whispering.
I see the flowers waving.
I want them to join in my dance.

I am flowing, yet wild.
I pretend I make the world spin.
I feel the thrill of the dance.
I touch the clouds' hands.
I worry I will be too harsh.
I cry when someone won't dance.

I am flowing, yet wild.
I understand I won't live forever.
I say, I live in the moment.
I dream the dance will live on.
I try to dance with the clouds
I hope to dance all over the world.
I am flowing, yet wild.

To read more poetry check out the Poetry Friday Round-up at Scrub-A-Dub-Tub.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Keep on Writing

Today I'm blogging about getting that writing done, even when life gets in the way, over at YA Authors You've Never Heard of. Stop on by.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Poetry Friday - Romeo and Rosaline

Finally jumping back onto the Poetry Friday bandwagon. I can do this because my daughter, the in-house poet, has agreed to supply me with new poems.

So, here, from my thirteen-year-old is:

Hello and Goodbye

by KRM

Romeo you’re

Too over-romantic

For me

To love

Too much talk,

Not too much love

Romeo, don’t you


No, of course not.

You kiss my hand




Anything but my lips

You great fool

Romeo, you know

Nothing about love

You make a lover

Want to join

A nunnery

Yes, this is a break-up

Sorry to

Break it to you,

You’re a horrible

Boyfriend, with a skull

As thick as stone

I care not if you

Take this harshly,

You always seemed

To overreact, anyway.

So long,


I don’t want to see

The likes of you again!


I hope whatever

Girl you land next

Is as thick as you

So you can

Have a fair relationship

Instead of

The woman with the brains

And the man without.

I care not for Montagues

I’m impartial to Capulets

I do know


I’m never dating again

Gone to live my life as a

Carmelite Nun

I despise you men,

You make me gag.

Do not weep over me,

I weep not over you.

I’m leaving this note

On thy doorstep,

So as not

To have to deal with

Tears and begging’s,

“Please don’t go.”


Yours truly,


The Poetry Friday Roundup can be found at Teaching Authors. Go there and check it out!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Writing Through

Yesterday - day there of NaNoWriMo was quite a challenge. We had a family funeral and were out of the house for twelve hours. Real life can sometimes severely impact writing time.

But true to part of the theory of NaNoWriMo - which is just keep writing, worry about fixing it later - I wrote. And I got in the number of words I needed to stay on track. Not sure how good many of them are - but I can worry about that later.

Keep on Writing!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Still Writing

Day two of NaNoWriMo found us still writing. Well, my daughter and I posted some word counts, not sure if my son worked on his story or not today. That's okay though - no pressure - it's supposed to be fun.

I'm trying to get a bit ahead on my word count, knowing that there will be days when I won't have the chance to write. So far so good.

And I'm making a lot of headway in this re-write. So it's all good.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

How Did Day One Go - NaNoWriMo

So, one day down. And how did we do?

Well, my daughter and I both got in over 3000 words. Which put us well ahead of the 1667 needed per day to make the 50,000 word goal.

Of course we also realize that there will be days we will not be able to meet our goals, so getting a bit ahead is not a bad thing at all.

My son got in over 700 words. He's doing NaNoWriMo through the Young Writer's Program and can set his own goal. He set a goal of 11,000 words, since he is almost 11. With that kind of a target he is write on track for meeting his goal.

Plus he has a lot of other things he likes to do when he is on the computer.
As for me, since the kids are home on fall break this week, I needed the headphones on so I could enter the cave state I need to write in. I used to be able to write with lots of distractions (ie in class in high school) but now it seems I need a bit more of a distraction free environment.

So, that's how Day 1 went. How about everyone else?

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Monday, November 1, 2010


Do you NaNo?

No, no, not "Nanu, Nanu" - we're not from Ork here.

National Novel Writing Month. The time when anyone can join up and let their inner novelist out!

Two years ago I joined for the first time and actually completed a 50,000 page novel in two weeks. I even impressed myself with that one. That story is still in the revision process (I've been working on other things at the same time).

Last year I participated and was all ready to win again. But got the swine flu at the beginning of November. My momentum messed up and the story idea I had not taking off meant that I didn't finish.

So, I'll try again this year. With a bit of a twist. I'm in the middle of a re-write that I really need to get done. So, I'm going to use that as my NaNo story. No, I'm not starting something completely new. But I will try to use the month to carry me through to the end of this revision. That is my plan.

My kids are both doing NaNoWriMo this year as well -using the Young Writer's Program. My daughter is also an official participant in the regular NaNoWriMo this year.

It's time to start writing.

I'll keep you posted!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Meet Me at the Fair

On Saturday, August 21st, I'm going to be at the 1st annual PAYA Festival. The purpose of the festival is to bring more YA books and authors to Pennsylvania. I'm all for that.

There will be 18 authors there for book signings, and I'm going to be one of them. There will also be workshops and prizes.

So, if you are anywhere near the West Chester, PA area on Saturday stop by - and by sure to say hi!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

An Interview and a Review

One of the members of the new blogging group "Young Adult Authors You've Never Heard Of" has interviewed me on her blog today. So go visit Janet over at The Eclectic Writer to see what I have to say about twirly mustaches (you'll just have to go on over there to see what I'm talking about.)

Also today there was a wonderfully sweet review of When Mike Kissed Emma at Novel Reaction. My favorite line: "I loved reading this book and never wanted to put it down." (Who wouldn't love a line like that!)

So that's what's happening with me and When Mike Kissed Emma around the internet today. Meanwhile back at the ranch, I'm hunkered down in front of the air conditioning because it is very hot and humid and not getting much done because my son is watching clips from The Muppet Show on the other computer and it's making it a little hard to concentrate. Hopefully we get some rain and a break in the humidity soon!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Five on a Monday

It's August. And it's Monday. And this means the summer is just flying by. It also brings home the point that I haven't been writing nearly as much as I should be. But there are reading/writing related things going on.

1) I'm reading a book recommended to me by my son.Brandon Sanderson's Alcatraz vs. The Evil Librarians. He considers it the best book in the entire universe and while I'm not sure I would give it that honor, it is a pretty fun book. And it makes the important point that the librarians control all the information out there. They are very powerful beings!

2) When I'm done reading Alcatraz I'll be reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett. I may be the last person in the country to read this book, but better late than never!

3) It's time to do some revising on various of my manuscripts. I need to get my head around what one particular story is really about. This may require some peace and quiet.

4) Peace and quiet are hard to come by these days. My daughter is at a theater camp from 9 to 4 for the next two weeks, leaving my son to wish to be entertained by me.

5) I will be at PAYA Festival on August 21st signing copies of When Mike Kissed Emma. Will I see you there?

Have a great week!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Check Out This New Blog

Today I'm blogging over at YA Authors You've Never Heard Of. It's a great new venture put together by Christine Norris. So if you head over there you can find out why I'm not famous even though I had a book published (It's because Oprah doesn't have my number).

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Crossed Out - a Ghost Story with a twist

The internet has been very beneficial to my writing. Okay, it also added a whole new dimension to my procrastination, but there have been more positives then negatives.

One of the positives was getting involved with a fabulous on-line critique group. These writing buddies have pushed me to be better and dig deeper than I ever thought possible, and the publication of When Mike Kissed Emma was directly related to the influence and feedback I got from the group.

One of the members of this group has a book that just came out last month and I want to take a moment to celebrate that achievement and tell about her book.

Kim Baccellia's newest book is called Crossed Out and the premise is great fun. Stephanie Stewart has a special gift. She's a rescuer. She helps the souls of people who were murdered find their way to the light, by planting crosses that she builds and decorates at the site of the death. This helps to open the portal to heaven and the soul can follow the light and live in peace. Information about where to find the spirits that need help comes to her in dreams. The only downside is that it has to happen within 48 hours of the death, or the spirit will be trapped in this world. Oh, and everyone thinks of her as the crazy kid who sees dead people, which isn't doing much for her social life at high school.

And of course there has to be an added twist. That comes when the new kid at school shows up and seems to share Stephanie's gift. He's one hunky guy and Steph is mesmerized by him, but it's up to the boy next door to show her that the new guy may not be all he's cracked up to be.

Fast-paced and full of action, Crossed Out is a quick read that is full of colorful descriptive details. Stephanie is a very real teenager who doesn't think of herself as a hero . She would much rather spend her time thinking about guys, then trying to guide dead people to the other side. But she takes her gift seriously and persists in helping, even when it seems that everyone is against her.

Kim is currently working on a sequel to Crossed Out and I'll be excited to see where she takes the characters next. While Crossed Out wrapped up quite nicely, there were several unresolved threads that would make for a very interesting sequel. I look forward to it.

Is This Thing On?

Testing, testing.

One, two three.

(taps on microphone)

(annoying squeeing sound results)

Oh, sorry.

Yes, hello there. I seem to have been on an unplanned blog vacation.

But I hope to be back to regularly scheduled blogging any day now!

I hope everyone is enjoying their summer!

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Never-Ending Spiral of Research

I suppose there does come a point where all the research is done and there is nothing more to learn about a time and place you are writing about.

I'm currently working on a novel set in Boston in 1774-1775. There's a lot I don't know about the time and place (and the whole saga of why I've never yet been to Boston can be a post for another day), but there is a tremendous amount that can be learned from the internet and good old fashioned books.

For example. I thought I'd start the story with the beginning of the closing of the Boston Port on June 1, 1774. Then discovered that the new governor arrived in the province a couple of weeks before that. Perhaps that would make a better starting point.

Reports indicate that when General Gage (the new governor) arrived at Long Wharf he then proceeded up State Street (which would have been King Street then - thanks to an old map I found) in a parade up to the old State House.

Cool, my character can be watching the parade of people going to the State House. Sounds like a good starting point.

Then I read more. General Gage was escorted by the Boston Cadets.

Hmmm. Who were the Boston Cadets in 1774. Turns out they were headed by John Hancock and were the ceremonial military unit that did things like escort new governors.

So, that's what my character would see. And she could reflect on how smart they looked in their uniforms.

But, wait. What did those uniforms look like? Back to Google.

It turns out the uniforms were Scarlet coats with Buff trim. The waist-coat and breeches were white. The buttons were plain metal washed with silver.

And what did all of this research get me? Well, my main character can correctly observe that the breeches were a stark white in the May sunshine.

And I wonder why I only got a paragraph written yesterday.

(By the way if anyone knows what the weather was like on May 17, 1774 in Boston, feel free to share that information - my research didn't uncover that tidbit.)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Sharing Blogs on Monday

Mondays are tough. And since I front load my week with chores, Mondays often feel like they fly by without me even getting a chance to think a coherent thought. So today I want to share some blogs that celebrate writing for kids and teens.

1) I may not be from Texas, but the Texas Sweethearts have a special place in my heart. Jo Whittemore, P.J. Hoover and Jessica Lee Anderson have teamed up in a truly spectacular way. If you haven't watched any of their videos you are really missing out.

2) Vivian Mahoney is the HipWriterMama and she uses her blog to encourage writers with inspirational videos, thoughtful writing prompts and contests of all shapes and sizes.

3) Mitali's Fire Escape is where Mitali Perkins chats about books between cultures. Thoughtful discussion and inspiration are never in short supply.

And last but not least for today, a new blog and the reason I thought to do this post at all:

4) The League of Extraordinary Writers is where four deput YA dystopian authors (Beth Revis, Julia Karr, Angie Smibert and Jeff Hirsch) are gathering to discuss all things dystopian. Go check it out! They have a contest going right now - you might win something fun!

And now, to finish the laundry and put away the groceries and then maybe I'll get some writing in before the kids get home (see why I need inspirational blogs?)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Waiting for the Plot Fairy

You mean there isn't a plot fairy?

What if I leave candy? Would that help?

It turns out I have no problem coming up with great situations for stories, but that the actual plot of the story tends to be a little more elusive.

For example, the story I'm planning on working on next is historical fiction set at the time of the American Revolution. More specifically it's set in Boston during the time of the blockade of Boston and the Boston Siege. And here's the twist - the main character and her family are loyalists.

Neat set-up, right? But not a plot line in sight.

Because for there to be a plot something has to happen. My main character has to want something and there has to be something standing in her way and she should take action to overcome that obstacle.

And the plot fairy is not dropping those things into my lap.

As I was thinking about this, something occurred to me (unfortunately it wasn't a plot). My daughter complains that a lot of books she's read that are set in an earlier age tend to involve a girl who chafes against the restrictions put on her. For example, a girl who wants an advanced education, or to have an adventure, or to simply not have to sew all the time. And as I searched for the obstacle my heroine wants to overcome, I realized that provides a built in obstacle - the girl isn't happy with her situation and tries to change it. Instant plot.

But I think my character isn't going to mind sewing so very much, so I need to come up with something else.

Any time you're ready, Plot Fairy.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Five on Monday

Yes. I know it's Tuesday, which gives you some idea of how my Monday went.

1. I've been working on my presentation
for my library event Tomorrow. This is the first time I've worked with power point. Luckily my kids know how to
make it do cool stuff.

2. Allergies have been insane around here. The kids have trouble breathing, everyone's eye are itchy and teary, but we're muddling through.

3. Little League game on Saturday. We lost 12 to 1 at which point the mercy rule was put into effect and the game ended (I think it was in the middle of the fourth inning). One good thing, my son got the one run for our team. Plus he pitched for the first time in over a year and did a pretty good job.

4. I pulled out a bunch of old stories and notebooks in preparation for my presentation. My kids got a hold of them and started reading. Nothing like your ten and 13-year-old telling you that you made a mistake here or this part was repetitive there. Have to keep reminding them that those are essentially unedited first drafts from when I was in high school.

5. I don't have a free night this week until Friday. I'm really looking forward to Friday!

Top picture: The stack of notebooks I pulled out - and I think there are more someplace else - this is all essentially variations on one story.

Middle picture: A page from one of those notebooks, with commentary from myself and friends in the margins. (For a laugh, click on it and you can see it large enough to read some of it.)

Bottom picture: Me, in high school - writing. Of course.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Five on a Friday

I'm going to try to be a little consistent with blogging, so I'm going to try something new, like Five on Friday. Hope you like it.

So what has been driving my week?

1. Getting ready for my first author event. Do you like the sign? How cool to drive down my local highway and see this!

2. Last week was a great writing week, with thousands of words put down on paper. This week, not so much. I don't know what it is that makes some days so much more productive than others. Partly it's simply that real life interferes.

3. Things like crocheting. I made a blanket this week. So, not a lot of words, but a whole blanket - so it's not like I wasn't being productive.

4. I read a book this week I didn't like. It was by a well-known author and I had read a previous book by this author, that I loved. Someone obviously liked this book though, because it was published. And that just helps to serve as a reminder of just how subjective this industry is. I didn't like this book. But yet a publisher (And I'm presuming many other people did). An agent wasn't interested in my latest work. But somewhere, there's one (or many) who will be. It's just a matter of finding that match.

And finally

5. Facebook quote from my daughter: "I write to find out what happens next."

Monday, March 29, 2010

Looking for a Cute Romance?

A couple of reviewers think that you'll find it in
When Mike Kissed Emma
. I couldn't be happier with the reviews I found online this weekend.

My favorite lines from them?

Becky at Becky's Book Reviews had this to say:
I know I would have really really loved this one if I'd read it as a young teen.

And Lauren at Lauren's Crammed Bookshelf said this:
The plot was fun and fast paced leaving me to be constantly turning the pages, curious to see what would happen next.

Please go to both of these sites and read the full reviews!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Dialect in Dialog - How Much is too Much.

Here's a writing question I'm going to throw out there and see what kind of answers come back. I'm working on a story now that has some characters who, when speaking, would have a distinctive flavor to their words. There would probably be less than perfect grammar, a certain dropping of g's at the end of words ending in 'ing' and a lot of replacing the 'th' sound with 'd'.

But yet, I feel that if I use those constraints with every bit of dialog that I am over-doing it and it will get very annoying to read and seem too "in-your-face" if that makes sense.

On the other hand, if I only do that occasionally does it appear that I am inconsistent in the way the characters speak?

Right now I am using the occasional approach in the theory that a lot goes a long way, but that could easily change in revisions. I feel that it gives a flavor for the character's speech without becoming too much of a distraction.

So, opinions anyone? What's the best way to handle strong dialect in dialog?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Great Contest for Writers and Readers

To share her joy at her big news with as many people as possible, Beth Revis is having a contest with two prizes. One for writers and one for readers. Go check out her blog and enter to win some awesome prizes.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Celebrating with a Writer Friend

I love good news, and my friend Beth Revis just got fantastic news.

Deep Freeze

In another major YA acquisition before the Bologna Book Fair, Ben Schrank at Razorbill pre-empted North American rights to the debut novel by high school teacher Beth Revis, Across the Universe.Merrilee Heifetz at Writers House brokered the deal, which is for three books, and Universe is scheduled for spring 2011. In the novel, set in the near future, a teenager is cryogenically frozen only to thaw too soon, before arriving at the new planet that's her destination. Set to wake 300 years in the future, She rouses 50 years too early, still on a spaceship in transit. Schrank said he thinks the book will do for popular sci-fi what The Hunger Games did for postapocalyptic fiction. Rights have been pre-empted in the U.K. (by Razorbill UK, which will do a joint publication with Penguin USA) and Germany, and sales have also closed in France and Greece.

I've read an earlier version of the book and it is blow-your-mind fantastic! I can't wait until next Spring when I can see the final version!

Congratulations, Beth! I love when great things happen to great people!

Go on over and offer your congratulations to Beth.

Friday, February 5, 2010

A Bright Spot in a Gray Day

There's nothing like a nice review to brighten up a gray February day. And I found that today over at Bookworm Nation where Kathy gave a sweet review to When Mike Kissed Emma.

My favorite line:
This was a fun romantic read to help get you in the mood for Valentine’s.
That puts a happy end to the week! Bring on the snow!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Reality Ali

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The word cloud by Wordle for my latest novel REALITY ALI. Now I just need to do some fine tuning and find a home for it.

Oh, and write a synopsis and a pitch paragraph.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Thoughts on Revisions

I finished a round of revisions today.

Unfortunately that doesn't mean the novel is all polished up and ready to go out. There were some major changes I made based on feedback from early readers - and my own instincts. This round of revisions was to make sure that the changes all integrated properly and that the story made sense.

Now I get to go through (the last few chapters) and add some detail to them. They are bare bones now. They need to be dressed up.

Maybe this is an odd way of doing the revisions, I don't know. It seems to work for me.

So, when you revise is it a thorough all or nothing kind of process, or does it require more than one going over - kind of like painting a room with several coats of paint?

Okay - back to work.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

An Interview

Eleni, over at La Femme Readers, has an interview with me up today. Go and read find out all kind of obscure facts about me, like why I don't go to horror movies.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Pesky Descriptions

Describing characters. How do you do it? Do you give the full height, weight, hair color, eye color, and distinguishing marks right off the bat. Or do you let things be a little more fluid with only an occasional descriptor thrown in to ground the reader?

I used to know the hair color and eye color of all my major characters - minor ones too - I may have had a chart. But then I found that all my characters were distinguished by their hair color and hair style.

Barb, with the long blonde hair, spoke to Joan, whose dark hair was in a braid down her back.

Yeah. After awhile that didn't really work for me (though I still have to guard against it.)

Now I find that sometimes I go in the opposite direction - and have no descriptions of my characters. Often I can remedy that with a quick word or phrase (I just try to not let them all be about hair.)

As I was revising today I saw a note one of my critique partners left that a relatively minor character needed some description. And she's right. I have nothing. Just a name and her job. I have two problems (well three - but that one is motivation and stems from it being late). 1) I don't actually know what she looks like and 2) I'm not sure how to integrate a description into the introduction of her. I don't want to say "Jamie, the nurse my mother had hired came into the room. She was a tall woman with buck teeth and sensible shoes".... It seems too forced. I need to make it natural somehow.

I'm guessing that once I take a break from it, I'll come up with a solution - but in the meantime, here's my question: How do you make sure your characters are adequately described - without sounding like a police report?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Please Sir, May I Have Some More?

In Oliver when our hero asked for more porridge he got chased and sold by Mr. Bumble. I can sympathize with Mr. Bumble. Sometimes being asked to provide more is just enough to send a person over the edge.

In my AP English class, many moons ago, our teacher, Mr. Smith, had the tendency to stroke his beard, look at us closely and say "Can you give me more?"

He wanted more in depth discussion of the book. He wanted more details in the essays. He wanted us to dig deeper. To really get to the heart of the matter.

We'd look at him and think "No, this is as much as I've got. I can't give you anymore." And when he kept insisting, we sometimes felt like chasing him away too.

But, of course, he was right. We could dig deeper. And we did.

And now, today, I'm working on revisions and reading through comments from my awesome critique buddies. And what am I seeing on one particular scene?

You guessed it. They want more.

More emotion, more of being in the moment, more of just about darn near everything.

And my first reaction is like that of Mr. Bumble - to give chase - or like our reaction to Mr. Smith - 'there isn't anymore'.

But yet, they're right. I can dig deeper. I can give more. I can make the scene better.

So, another cup of tea. And I'll start that digging.

Happy revisions everyone - and a belated Happy New Year. (It's time to get back in the habit of blogging again.)