Wednesday, October 28, 2009

To The Great Blogs I Read

It's a few days before Halloween and I'm feeling a little ragged. Baking and party planning not to mention that we have been pulled out of town every weekend for something important. And, I NEED a laptop! I've said my prayers to the Laptop Gods. October has been our "not at home" month! Looking forward to November and here's to hoping my hubby and I get some Saturday's watching movies by the fire.

So, I'm a little uninspired in the blogging department. I thought I'd instead highlight some other bloggers that are writing pieces that talk to me.

The Storyqueens Castle reminds us that when purchasing those holiday gifts, BOOKS are one of the best gifts. Thanks Storyqueen. I'm a big book buyer for the kids in my life because toys drive me nutts but I may just include the adults this year.

Barrie Summy made me feel that pang of want when I saw her picture of her author's paperbacks of "I So Don't Do Mysteries". Congrats Barrie, I hope they sell like hotcakes!

Thanks to The Virginia Scribe for posting about your webcast with Kate DiCamillo and specifically for reporting that when she comes up with one of her eclectic fun names, she writes it down to save for later. I write down everything but not names. Maybe that will help!

B.A. Sanderson at The Writing Spectacle reported that many writers query when they feel their work is "good enough". Oh my! (Did that sound like June Cleaver?) I can not imagine feeling that way and submitting. Now, I can imagine the editor feeling that way when I submit!

And, here's one that makes you cry and laugh. My blogger and local Fauquierian, Susan McCorkingdale is fighting one of life's battles no one deserves. She is keeping her sense of humor. And, she can use your prayers!

Thanks to all of you for your wonderful blogs, everyday. Now, I'm off to bake cookies, ready my daughter's school project, pack the kids' and my husband's lunches and try to find the shower!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Alice and Tom are Stuck in my House!

My seven year old has been naming everything new in her life, Alice. You may recall the turtle we found in Rappahannock County and then released in the woods behind our house? She (or he as I have no idea how to tell a turtle's gender) was when the "Alice" syndrome started. That was this summer.

My four year old is following suit as he usually does but I don't think he is intending to copy his sister this time. Every new "friend", be it a stuffed animal or a rock, is named Tom. Sometimes Tommy.

I can't keep all these inanimate things straight there are so many Alices and Toms. But, it struck a cord recently. I too tend to choose the same names over and over. For my characters. Whenever I begin a new story, there is a bank of names I unknowingly go to. Favorite names for sure. My current MC has one of those names, Claire.

A week ago, while we ate dinner, it dawned on me that I'm stuck in a rut. Not that my bank of names are lame. They obviously are ones that I have liked for sometime. Some of them were actually on a shortlist in my mind for my kids. But, that's no reason to choose them for the characters in your book.

Recently, on reading the first few chapters of Kate DiCamillo's The Magician's Elephant the characters' names jumped out. What great names she dreams up!

So, I need to work on my character naming. My kids showed me this. They teach me quite a bit actually. I just hope I don't start naming my characters Alice and Tom!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Catch the Feel of Fall Before It Fades

What a great time of year!! Fall is my personal favorite. I also think the beginning of the season is the perfect time to exercise your descriptive writing. The season is fresh and even if it isn't your favorite, there are bound to be specifics that you either love or dread.

In my Institute of Children's Lit class, we had to do a 250 word description of a significant place or event from our past using all the senses. I chose a summer evening at my childhood home. The smell of my sisters freshly washed skin and the feel of the grass on our recently bathed, bare feet.

It was hands down my favorite exercise of the class. I read it to my parents and sister. They got a little teary. I think about that piece when I get stuck on my descriptions. It reminds me I am capable of hitting the nail.

When my writing tends to lean heavily towards dialogue and less towards the descriptions, I take a time out and describe the scene. Then I can pull pieces of that description and use them where it works in the piece.

I also like to keep notes on my descriptions of seasons because they jar my memory when I am writing about a season that is different then the one I am sitting in.

My goal today is to write 250 words on fall where my current MC lives. I may use all of it or none of it but I will have it just in case I'm writing about fall while it's snowing outside my office window!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Book Review Time

While my husband yelled at the t.v. and then he and the kids laughed as they did belly bumps during the Redskins game, I did one of my favorite things of all time: Read a good book while cuddled up on the couch with a blanket. aahhhhh.

The best kind of characters are full of quirks, problems and mistakes while still pulling you in and making your adore them. Joyce Hinnefeld accomplishes this with In Hovering Flight.

As the book opens, we see Tom, his grown daughter Scarlet and Addie's two best friends handling the first hours after Addie's death. Hinnefeld weaves past and present excellently to tell the story of Tom and Addie's marriage, Scarlet's childhood in a not so usual family, the hardships of Addie's friends and ultimately, the question of the book, where they will lay Addie to rest.

Birds are an important character in the book. The author does well to not give the reader too much insignificant information but enough to enlighten and add interest.

Hinnefeld laces the story with environmental issues the main characters began dealing with in the 1970's. And, we see a different side of overdevelopment and its affects on birds.

As the author says on her book's site In Hovering Flight, "It’s a novel about mothers, daughters, and art; about illness, death, and burial; about fragile eco-systems and tenacious human relationships—all explored through characters who are inspired by the lives, and particularly the songs, of birds."

This is the author's first novel.