Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Great Quote

I found this great quote from Susan Isaacs this morning. Don't you love when you find just the right inspirational words, exactly when you need them?

Writing is a job. You have to go to work regularly or the work simply will not get done. If you're working full-time, set aside a couple of weeknights and part of the weekend in which to work. Otherwise, you should be working at least five days a week for at least two to three hours. Remember this: if you didn't show up for work, you'd be fired. If you don't show up for your writing work, you lose, too. You won't be a writer.

Right now, I'm only finding about 3 or maybe 6 hours a week to work. This reminds me I have to do better, even when the wee ones aren't cooperating.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Still creeping slowly back into work mode. My baby is 5 months now, and still not on a schedule (I've tried and tried, but she's resistant in her charming, drooly way) so finding time to work is hard. I do have a sitter once or twice a week for a few hours, but it's amazing how fast that time goes, especially when it's often filled up with dentist appointments, teacher conferences at my toddler's school, and the occasional kid-free errand.

So, I have to choose carefully what my next project will be. I have a revision I'd really like to work on, for a book that I love and know is special but needs some reshaping. And I also have an idea for a great new series for younger readers. But something new requires so much brainpower and I'm still cruising at around 50%. What to do, what to do...

The answer is simple of course. Put my Butt In Chair (as Jane Yolen says) and WRITE.
Butt in chair now.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Back to work

I'm slowly getting back to work now that my youngest is 4 months old. Sloooooowly.

I have some school visits on the calendar, and I'm teaching two classes in Baltimore at Roland Park Country School's evening program for adults. One is called Making Time to Write in a Busy Life on 10/26, and the other is The ABCs of Writing Children's Books on 11/9. I'm excited about these classes, not only because I got to pick the topics to discuss, but because Roland Park is my alma mater, and I'm thrilled to be going back there to teach.

You can find out more about the classes here. Sign up and come and see me!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

So I haven't posted in a while...

But I have a very good reason.

The stork delivered this little package in late May and I've been, uh, a little busy ever since.

I'm taking the summer to spend time playing, cuddling, and hanging at the pool with my toddler and infant, and then I'll be back to work in the fall.

It's been the loveliest summer I can remember.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Putting the Octopus to Bed

So I've gotten my feedback (all helpful -- yay!) and now I've got to start putting this octopus to bed. Meaning, when tackling a revision, you usually have about eight (or a billion) things you need to focus on, which means every time you manage to put a few of them to bed, the other ones get loose and shoot out all over the place.

It's a tricky thing, revision. In my experience, my work ALWAYS gets better when I do a large rewrite. Always. But in the days leading up to plunging back into a manuscript, I'm overcome by fear that I won't be able to do it. I won't be able to manage all those octopus legs, and I'll just end up with a big, fat, mess.

A lot of writing is just shutting up your fear and getting your fingers moving. Because nothing will get finished if you just sit there and worry.

Okay, enough blogging. I've got a date with an octopus.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Waiting for Feedback (and Considering Dentistry)

Being a writer is full of hurry up-and-wait. You hurry-hurry to get through a first draft (for me, the most painful part of the entire writing process). Then you hurry-hurry to read and revise it because you're so anxious to fix the millions of things that are wrong with it. Then you hurry to make it somewhat presentable so you can push it out of your own hands, by sending it out somewhere -- either to an agent, editor, or trusted critique partner(s).

Right now I'm waiting for feedback on something brand new. In the mean time, I'm looking critically at some old and half-finished projects, trying to see if there's a spark anywhere I should ignite and work on.

But mostly just waiting and wondering. Sometimes I think I should have been a dentist instead. Or any less emotional profession.

Monday, February 21, 2011


I had a writing date yesterday with the lovely Pam Bachorz and we got to talking about what makes a book a must-read. What makes it marketable? What makes it punchy? In short, what makes it work?

She told me a great story about Walt Disney and how he used to carry a hot dog in his pocket, which made his dog follow him around everywhere. Walt used that idea of the dog and weenie and applied it to his theme parks and franchises. When anything at Disney was being developed, he'd ask "Where's the weenie?," meaning, What's going to make people WANT it?

I was looking over a draft of something I wrote awhile ago that never quite came together and I realized instantly there was no weenie. There was a toasty bun, generous amounts of ketchup and mustard, and even some relish, but NO WEENIE.

I'm planning my revision now, with a full-size ballpark weenie in mind.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Writing Events

When I was getting my MFA in Writing for Children from the New School in New York, we had to attend a minimum of eight writing/publishing "events" per year (or was it per semester?). They believed this helped us to embrace the "writer's life," and it was one of my favorite parts of the program.

Now that I'm in DC, I still try to attend as much stuff as I can. Local conferences, book signings, etc. And I'm lucky to have my monthly DC Kidlit Book Club meetings, as well as my DC Children's Book Guild meetings. The Guild had a wonderful midwinter party last weekend where we all got a chance to eat, mingle, and discuss our writing, and today we had a luncheon with editor Namrata Tripathi (of S&S's Atheneum) as the speaker.

I always mention how solitary writing can be, especially when one is home with kids and not able to get out and do as much stuff as one would like. But attending a few events each month, making time for writing dates with friends, and just hanging out at the bookstore every once in a while to browse really keeps the juices flowing.

I'm mid-revision right now, so I need to be gunning it every day, but I'm glad I took some time this week to catch up with my fellow writers and get re-inspired. Tank refilled!