Thursday, June 11, 2009

My book is boring me, or I have writer's block...

To those of you who like to write and are working on a project/book, I have a question for you that I put on my Scribbling Teens blog:

What happens if you're writing along, loving it, and then you miss a day or two, or three, or four and you find yourself slightly bored with the thought of picking up the pen or opening the folder?

This happened to me while I was writing my first book. I put it away for weeks at a time, sometimes months, and it took me five years to write a book that ended up being just under 200 pages long. Kinda lame, yes. I got bored with it, I listened to the inner voices that told me I was wasting my time...

Well, I've since discovered some things that will help. If you do need to put the book away for a small amount of time to take a breather, fine. Do just that. But don't NOT write something else every day. Keep your writing habit alive by still writing/journaling/scribbling something down each day. We must ingrain the daily writing habit, even if it's only ten minutes at a time.

Another idea might be to try a fresh project for a bit and then go back to the original one that was giving you fits. When you get a little bit of distance from it, sometimes you can see the thing that was wrong, or you realize you really do like that idea and you're willing to work with it again. I don't suggest you put it away for five years, though, if you can help it.

Maybe it would help to brainstorm a list of possibilities for your characters. Start making a list of things that could happen to him/her. Raise the stakes! Do something horrible and let the character work her way out of it. Shake it up a bit.

Go for a walk and think about your book. Let the fresh air slip into your head and rejuvenate those tired brain cells. (Or something like that). Truly, sometimes just moving around does wonders for my writing abilities.

Sit somewhere crowded and listen to people talking. See if there's anything you overhear that might be useful in your story. Challenge yourself- see if you can find a way to fit in something you might not have thought of otherwise.

Don't give in to boredom or writer's block! Fight it!!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Scribbling Teens

Do you know any teens who like to write? I've started a new blog called Scribbling Teens that's aimed at helping kids figure out the writing process and learn as much as possible to help them along their paths to writerhood. (I know that's not a real word).

Anyway, if you know of anybody who might be interested, point them in my direction!

Thanks! :-)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Amazing talent!

Saturday was so much fun for me. I was privileged to be on the committee for THE Teen Writers Conference, which turned out so well. I also did the coordinating for the writing contest, and it was so amazing. There's a lot of talent out there in the world, housed in the bodies of the 19 and younger.

The classes were really good, the kids seemed to have a good time, and the author panels were informative. I even learned a few things!

Among the books I bought at the conference:

I've known Jeff (J. Scott Savage), for a few years now, and I watch his career climb with admiration and awe. He's amazing, approachable, and so very cool!

I met Lisa Mangum in person at the conference but had been communicating with her earlier in the week regarding the contest judging. She was such a wonderful judge, and would be, of course, because she's a real-life professional editor for Deseret Book. She's amazing. Smart and witty and as she sat talking with the kids during lunch, my opinion of her just kept growing. She offered advice and was so approachable to the kids. It was so cool. Thank you for all your time and effort, Lisa!! Can't wait to read your book.

I had James Dashner's first volume of the 13th Reality series at home and wished I'd thought to bring it with me for him to sign. Such a funny, funny man. I'd seen him being entertaining with Jeff Savage for two years at the Whitneys and have seen him all over the web but never had the chance to actually talk with him until Saturday and I just have to say, he's wonderful. So articulate and sarcastic, two qualities I love and admire in others. :-) At any rate, I will continue to watch his career climb and cheer wholeheartedly for him from the sidelines. His book The Maze Runner comes out this fall from... Random House! So incredibly cool. (Plus, I think I've found a political kindred spirit, and this is always a wonderful thing.)

I don't have a copy of this book yet, but I can't wait to read it. I don't think I've ever met a more energetic, entertaining and sincere performer than Julie Wright. She was so, so wonderful. She did the general session at the conference and it was everything I could have hoped for and more. I think the kids got a real treat in her, and everything she said about the differing stages of writership was dead-on and I'm really hoping the kids took some good notes. Awesome, awesome, and she is so warm and just all-around great. Wish she lived farther north!

I bought this book, but will have to wait until I get it. They sold out! Annette took my order and will mail it to me. Call me a dork, but I do love a good grammar book. That would also mean Annette is a dork too, and she's anything but. She's also wonderful, (I'm using that word a lot), and I had a great time talking to her. She's a wealth of industry info, and she's a person I know I could ask just about anything and she'd probably have the answer for it. She's also incredibly funny and great to talk to.

I met Jewel Adams several years ago and have had the chance off and on to see her at various functions. I'm always impressed with her class and style. Jewel is awesome and I'm glad to say I know her. We traded books and I can't wait to start The Journey!! She's an incredible lady with an amazing presence about her.

I also met Ronda Hinrichsen, who has a new book called Missing coming out this month from Leatherwood Press. Another book to add to the stack! It sounds really cool, and I enjoyed spending some time with Ronda at the conference. She has a very polished air about her that reminds me of someone who really has her crap together. (Does that sound crude? I obviously don't have my crap together yet). At any rate, she was nice and gracious and I liked getting to know her.

Karen Hoover is a massage therapist! I'm thinking we need to set up a chair for her at future conferences. Oh, and in addition to that, she's signed a contract with Valor Publishing Group and has a book slated for March, 2010. Woohoo!! She was so much fun to talk to and I loved getting to know her.

I spent time with Heather Moore, historical novel author extraordinaire and winner of this year's Whitney and Best of State awards. She's beautiful and eloquent, as always, and has a daughter who looks just like her!!

Also on the committee and giving a wonderful presentation on humor was Matthew Buckley/Marion Jensen. As Josi put it, he was the testosterone on the committee that helped keep the estrogen in check. He's such a nice guy and I really enjoyed his presentation. He has such a dry sense of humor- subtle and very hilarious.

Speaking of funny, Jessica Day George was there as a presenter and panelist. I could just sit and listen to her talk because she is so funny and light. She's a person who will brighten up a room just by walking into it. I can't wait to read her books. They've been on my list since last year when I saw her receive her Whitney award for her book Dragon Slippers. She's an amazing person.

I met Cindy Bezas, (C.S. Bezas), for real at this conference, after seeing her only in passing before. What an amazingly talented woman. She was a committee member and presenter, and she's done it all, from books to music and everything in between. (I've tried unsuccessfully to link to her website- I'll try again in a bit). At any rate, she is all things gracious and lovely and I'm in awe of her accomplishments. Plus, she brought chocolate for her presentation which now makes her the smartest person I know.

Last, but not least, Josi Kilpack is an amazing woman. I want to be like her when I grow up. She ran one heck of an amazing conference and I am really, really impressed. It ran like clockwork, and I've decided if I ever need to have a major event organized, I want her in charge. Not to mention that she's funny and smart and I really like her. I've had her book, Lemon Tart, for some time now, and it's in my TBR stack. I will one day read all these great books. I think one day will start tomorrow morning. Extra reading time isn't going to leap into my lap. Unfortunately.

Well, all told, it was a great conference and I really hope that the kids enjoyed themselves and feel it was worth their time. I would have been all kinds of bat-crazy for something like this when I was young. Good times!!!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Someone made MY day!

So Bookworm Nation totally made my day by posting that I made HER day! Here's the link- she says some really nice things about me and my books. It seriously makes me feel so good.

Thank you, thank you!!

Conference prep!

I'm getting ready for THE Teen Writers Conference, which is happening this Saturday at Weber State. I'm finalizing my presentation and going over the contest entries, which have been so, so impressive. There are, I'm thrilled to say, some very talented writing kids in the world. In all, about half of the registered attendees entered the writing contest, and I happen to be in the know about the prizes. They are going to be uber cool.

So I'm old school- fighting the inevitability of the power point, (really, what's so bad about a white board and a marker? And the fact that the markers smell so good is an added bonus), and recruiting my husband and daughters to help. I know the mechanics of making the slides, putting together the presentation, but there's this little part of me that is waiting for the whole thing to crash on Saturday and then I'll have to punt.

With the whiteboard and a marker. Hmm. Who knew a crash could be a good thing?

Well, at any rate, I am so, so excited about this conference and the kids I'll get to meet. Kindred spirits, all of them, I'm sure. There's something about being with other people who love to do the same things you do. You can be as different as night and day, and yet there's a bond, an understanding. (You love pens and paper? Really? Me too!) I've loved reading and writing as long as I can remember. Only a fellow nerd would understand the delight of reading Nancy Drew and eating countless Popsicles in the back yard all summer long.

So to the kids I'll meet on Saturday, I give you a fond cyber-greeting in advance. You are now who I used to be. It's a good, good life. There is nothing more satisfying, for some of us, than writing. I wish you all the good things that a life of writing has to offer.

And perhaps the most important advice a writer can ever receive?

Read. And then read some more.

Can't wait to meet all of you!