Monday, August 30, 2010


I know, I know! My fifth straight week of blog fail. BUT--the end is in sight. I turn this sucker in on Friday, ready or not. No, no. It will be ready. Promise.

I also have about a zillion things I want to blog about, but I just can't get to them. After this week, though, I will be able to get back to blogging MUCH more regularly. Pinkie swear.

I was asked to write a Letter To My Younger Self over on Anna Staniszewski's blog. It's advice I would like to have given myself when I was just starting out on my writer's journey. She has a great series of these letters she's running, so be sure and check them all out.

I also have a couple of news tidbits that I don't think I've shared here yet. (And if I have, forgive me. Deadline Brain!)  The third Nathaniel Fludd book, The Wyvern's Treasure, was selected as a Junior Library Guild selection, which thrills me no end! That's three for three with this series so far. ::squee::

Also, the first Nathaniel Fludd book, The Flight of the Phoenix, is going to be in Scholastic Book Fairs! I'm am so excited about this because those book fairs and order forms were some of my kids favorite ways to acquire new books. I love the idea that my books will be part of such a time-honored book buying tradition.

Aaaand, that's all I got! Until next week!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Checking In Again

Aaaaand yes! My copy edits for Theo Four arrive just as I'm nearing the finish line of the current manuscript. Ergh. It should be an entertaining week as I split my brain in half and try to accomplish two very separate tasks (writing and copy editing) in two even more different worlds (1900 Egypt and 15th century France).

Which is probably as good a segue as any into this article I found online. I had read something similar about fifteen years ago and have not been able to find the reference again. Then somebody tweeted a link and there it was: Creative Minds Mimic Schizophrenia. The article talks about how creative minds are only a few genetic markers off from schizophrenics. 

And I think I'm guest blogging over at the Moody Muses today. I'll post a link as soon as I confirm that!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Quick Check In

Yes, I am still completely consumed, possessed by, and obsessed with The Manuscript That Will Not End. Actually, that's almost a lie. I did limp and stutter my way across the finish line, but there were huge bald patches so it didn't really feel like The End. And before I could write the REAL ending, I had to go back and do a sweeping polish/revision to get everything lined up right and give my subconscious time to figure things out. Two steps forward, one step back.

But dear God, this is one LONG manuscript. I would despair--did despair--but my agent talked me down from the ledge. I fear it will clock in at around 140M words, which is way, way too long.


I am hoping I will be able to pare it down to 120M words, which is still too long, but I can live with that. Hey, it's an epic. They're supposed to be long.

In other news, if you are a teacher or librarian and you haven't checked out Kay Cassidy's Great Scavenger Hunt Contest for libraries and their kid readers, hie thee over to this website and check it out. It is an aMaZinG resource for librarians. She just sent me an email reminding me that the scavenger hunt for Theodosia and the Eyes of Horus was now available and I realized I hadn't mentioned it here on my blog. It is a really, really great service she is providing.

And that's about it for now! I'll be back once Finish The Book Fever has relaxed it death hold on me!

Thursday, August 05, 2010

I might go silent for the next week. I am in the throes of Finish the First Draft Fever here and am obsessed and consumed by finishing the damn book. I will report back when I emerge victorious!

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Transformative Change (Briefly!) Revisited

Someone asked me to explain the difference between change and transformative. The thing is, we change every day—in surface ways. We move from happy to sad or annoyed to bitter, patient to suffering. Those movements don’t fundamentally change us; rather they are part of our human spectrum of emotions.

The transformative part comes in when we take that grief or bitterness or suffering and let it be the catalyst that impels us to a new state of being; that instead of experiencing our emotions as random stepping stones, we allow ourselves to see the path that is forming at our feet and take it, follow it to a new awareness.

The transformative part means we change who we are, instead of merely how we feel.

And while this might seem a teensy bit philosophical for a blog mostly about writing, it does relate in a big way to our writing.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Stewing Time

I got an email the other day from someone who had taken one of the workshops I gave at the Santa Barbara Writer’s Conference a couple of years ago. He had a great question that I thought I’d talk about here.

In the workshop, and repeatedly on this blog, I talk about the importance of setting your manuscript down for a couple of months to get the distance needed to be able to see its flaws. His question was, when do you take this break? Especially if, as you’re finishing up your first draft, you are already forming a long list of what you need to do in the revision.

My answer was that if you have a list of things you know would make the manuscript better, go ahead and make those changes before setting it aside. Essentially, you want to make the manuscript as good as you know how to make it before putting it in that drawer.

I think ideas improve from some of that fermenting/rising time, too. In fact, now that I think about it, my last three story ideas (Theodosia, Nathaniel Fludd, and the YA I’m working on right now) have all benefited from some seriously long fermentation time. I think that long slow formation of a story idea can really add to its depth and layers.

I first thought of the Beastologist idea about five or six years ago. The see came to me in a flash; a story about a boy who discovers he is supposed to take care of the world’s mythical creatures. I loved the idea, but it was a pretty small seed of an idea to be sure. And for me, half the fun of writing stories is playing with and examining all the different directions they can take. So I thought about it for a few weeks, jotting a handful of ideas and possibilities down in a notebook, then ignored it for months while I worked on other projects. Every few months I’d pick that notebook up and add a few more ideas or layers. He would come from a long line of explorers and cartographers. Hm, he’d be sent to live with an obscure relative. What nature of mythical creatures existed in that world? What would the setting be? The time the story takes place? All those things were slowly layered in over months and months and years of playing with the idea.

Theodosia was the same way. I worked on that first book and building her world over a two to three year period. This current YA I’ve worked on sporadically for the last four (God, has it really been FOUR?) years.

Which is just a long way of saying that there are many junctures of a story’s life where it will benefit from some stewing time. In fact, that is why I like to have three or four story irons in the fire, so I can move from one to the other, layering a little in at a time, yet always making progress toward completion at some future date.

So if an idea feels green to you, consider allowing yourself to put it away for a few months and see how you hidden mind plays with it. I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised.