Monday, November 29, 2010


Ok, I give up.  Officially.  I know, I know, there are still 28 hours left, but there is no way I'm going to prolong my agony any longer.

I'm talking about National Novel Writing Month of course.  The goal is to write 50,000 words of a novel during the month of November.  When you break it down, it's only 1667 words per day.  Yes, I said only.  Technically it's about 7 pages of 12pt font, double spaced.

"That's easy," you say.  I'll admit, even I said it.

I participated last year and afterwards, I swore I wouldn't do it again.  Call me a glutton for punishment.  I must have forgotten the agony I lived with because yes, I signed in again this year and figured if nothing else, I would at least get a head start on my newest novel idea.  I swore I wouldn't allow myself to sweat the word count.

I don't know what it is about NaNoWriMo.  There is nothing competitive about the activity.  (Aside from the friendly rival between areas and the screen that shows how many words your writing buddies have written...)  But for some reason, I feel the need to keep up.  Unfortunately, since day 2 I found myself behind by anywhere from 2-4,000 words.  Everyday the distance got larger until finally, with only one more day to go, I am behind by 17,000 words.

I'm out of steam.  I have over 500 e-mails to read, I've got Christmas shopping to do, rooms to clean, laundry to wash, dry, and fold and some friends and family to reconnect with after 30 days. 

There's one good thing to the whole NaNoWriMo 2010 experience.  I've learned that sometimes you just gotta know when to say, "When."

Thursday, November 18, 2010

"The Smile" by Donna Jo Napoli (Book Thoughts)

First of all, I need to thank my good friend Courtney Rene, for recommending I read this author's books.

The "Mona Lisa" is one of DaVinci's most famous painting.  It's also a mystery.  Who is the young girl?  Why is she smiling?

"The Smile" is the tale of 15 year old Elisabetta.  Elisabetta will soon be betrothed to one of Florence, Italy's nobles.  She hopes her future husband will be young and romantic instead of an old widower a fate many of the young girls her age have accepted.

The author tells of Monna Elisabetta's life in Renaissance Italy.  Her everyday life, dreams of romance, and heartbreaking losses are intertwined with Leonardo DaVinci (who promises to paint her someday), the Medici Family (whose reign of importance is on the verge of collapse) and beautiful, artistic 15th century Florence (which is going to change drastically).

Like Ms. Napoli, I was never fond of history while I was a student, but am fascinated by other cultures and their stories.  Donna Jo Napoli merges culture and fascinating facts in her fictional stories.  She entertains us while piquing our curiosity to learn more.

I'm looking forward to devouring another of her books.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Reading Fees?

Apparently we write more than we read.  Indie publishing is being crushed by submissions, but we don't pay for their products.

I recently did some online market research for a few adult fiction pieces I wrote.  I noticed a trend that I never saw before.  More and more publications require a fee for reading submissions.  Some charge as little as $2 and others charge as much as $20!

I have only been writing for about two years and have only been actively submitting to adult publications for the past year.  I've personally only heard of paying reading fees for contests.  Understandably, the fees pay for judges and prize money. 

But, bear in mind that some of the publications charging reading fees for submissions do not offer monetary payment for publication.  Your reward for a perfectly polished piece is the inclusion in their magazine.  Some of the literary reviews are well-known and quite hard to get into, but without payment, how will writers fund themselves?

On the other hand, the argument is that their editors are overwhelmed with submissions and by charging a reading fee, the quality of submitted material will be at its best.  True, the odds of a single piece in a slush pile of 200 submissions are better than in a pile of 2000 submissions, but it won't stop lousy writers with hefty bank accounts from submitting. 

I suppose having to fork over $2-$3 a pop will force me to be certain a piece is the best it can be, but I try to do that anyway.

What are your thoughts on reading fees?  Would you submit if a magazine charged one?  What will you do if every magazine began charging reading fees?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Transitions for Mr. Bransford

When I completed the rough draft for my YA fantasy novel, I immediately went to work researching possible agents.  At the top of my list was a young man named Nathan Bransford, a literary agent with Curtis Brown, LTD since 2002.

Mr. Bransford's blog is a writer's wonderland, filled with advice galore.  His blog contains practically everything a writer needs to know, from formatting a manuscript all the way to how the publishing process works.  His blog actually contains a Writing Advice Database that's priceless!

Mr. Bransford has such an easy-going manner and is in no way intimidating.  His posts are humorous and written in a way we can all understand.  He encourages writers to share their thoughts and he actually answers most questions posted by writers. 

I subscribe to Nathan Bransford's blog and get e-mail feeds so I don't miss any.  His blog has over 4600 Google followers and over 2500 Facebook fans.  Today, his post informed his followers that he was leaving the world of publishing and this would be his last day as a literary agent.  Mr. Bransford has been given an amazing opportunity to work at the tech news/review site CNET, where he will be helping to coordinate social media strategy. 

Nathan Bransford's blog and forums will live on even though his posts will change a bit.  If you've never visited his blog, do yourself a favor and check it out.  There is something to be learned for everyone.

I'm extremely pleased for Mr. Bransford, he is so excited about this new challenge and opportunity in his life, and he seems like such a helpful and deserving person.  But I can't help feel a little sad for myself for never having the honor of asking him to read my completed manuscript.  Hopefully I'll find a new agent to put at the top of my list.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

"Shadow Dancer" by Courtney Rene (Book Review)

One of the most popular questions asked is, "If you could have a super power, what would it be?" 
Now, I ask you, who wouldn't want to at least try invisibility?
Have you ever wondered whether or not things hid in the shadows?
How would you feel if you learned that YOU were one of those things?
While reading "Shadow Dancer" I found myself trying to pull a shadow up around myself.  Unfortunately, I don't have the gift, but sixteen-going-on-seventeen year old Sunny does.
Sunny also has other gifts she never knew about.  Sunny meets Leif, from Acadia, who is also a shadow walker and helps her learn new things about herself, her family, and her possible future...
Courtney Rene has a talent for writing the teen voice and brings us inside Sunny's head where we laugh, cry, and scream right along with her.
This is a great story that leaves us wanting to read a sequel and Courtney Rene is just the person to write it.

Order your copy at:

Monday, November 1, 2010

Call For Submissions--The First Line

I know, NaNoWriMo has just begun and here I am updating my blog.  Well, as a matter of fact, I already have 1244 words under my belt and while that is still a bit short of the recommended 1667 words, I'm happy with it for right now. 

Some of you may know that I don't only concentrate on writing for children, I also dabble in essays and adult fiction and poetry.  I figure I should diversify and try a little bit of everything until I find my passion genre.

Although I have a large box filled with story ideas, I really enjoy prompts.  I usually jump at the chance to try my hand at writing a short story from an idea, a sentence, or even a word supplied by a market.

One of the markets I've submitted to in the past is The First Line.  A publication of Blue Cubicle Press, LLC, The First Line is published quarterly.  Their mission is to jump start an author's imagination.  Each issue contains short stories that all start with a common first line.  The First Line is an exercise in creativity and shows readers how even though we are all starting from the same place, writers can branch out in many different directions.

Every story MUST start with the given sentence.  No variations are allowed.

Every November, the prompts for the following year are chosen.  Please feel free to visit the website and expand your horizons.

Have fun!