Author of Middle Grade novels about friendship, family, and figuring out where you fit in.

Monday, April 15, 2013

What Is (And Isn't) New

Ah, looks like it's blogging time again, friends. I know, I take lengthy and unpredictable breaks here and there. I thought I'd write a "catch up" post, to let y'all know what's been going on, and then in the comments, I'd like to hear what's new with you.

What's New:

- As you can tell, I'm not doing the A to Z Challenge this year. Boo. I had a blast with it last year, between the challenge of coming up with posts and the excitement of meeting all new friends and reading their letter posts. I've been around to a few A to Z participants this month, and I like what I'm reading.

- I've finished the fourth draft of my latest MS, after incorporating suggestions from 4 critique partners. Now I'm getting ready to send it to 2 more readers (I really want to make sure the plot is working) and then around June/July... it's GO time!

- This is a topic for a longer blog post, but I've decided to submit exclusively to small presses. It's not a last resort; I'm skipping querying agents entirely. I've taken the past several months to reconsider what I want as a writer, not what's expected of me or what's drilled into my head via the blogging hive mind, and publishing with a small press seems to be a great fit for me. But more on that in another post, friends.

What's Not New:

- I'm still chronically ill, but you could have guessed that by the "chronically" part. I've been doing my best to balance productivity and rest -- making sure I don't over-do it, but still managing to cross off a few things on my To-Do list each day.

- I suck at blogging. (Yup, that's definitely not new.) But I'm doing my best to keep up with you guys, especially those who link blog posts on Twitter. I'll try to be around this week to visit and return comments. I appreciate when you guys stop by - it makes my day.

What's new -- or not new -- with you?
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Monday, April 1, 2013

Simple Fixes

Happy spring! I think... (I'm still wearing more layers than I should be right now, so I'm not sure this is spring OR happy.)

What I do know is, it's the season for lots of writing and revising. Well, it is for me, though from what I've read of my followers' tweets and blog posts, it sounds like many of you are spending much time in The Cave, too.

The thing about dwelling in The Cave is that sometimes I feel like I'm never going to see the light of day again. I'm finding myself stuck on one petty thing after another. Sometimes it's an enormous plot issue (like that entire chapter I need to rewrite) or just a matter of, "I need to get from THIS scene to THAT one, but I don't know how to transition."

Whatever the problem is, I can't let it keep me in the dark for so long. I'm trying to keep in mind that some of the issues that have stumped me the longest have ended up being resolved by the simplest fixes.


A few WIPs ago, I had a scene where my MC was having a conversation with his mom, and they weren't getting along. She asked him something... but I couldn't figure out how he'd respond.

The solution? After spending too much time coming up with answers that didn't fit, I decided he shouldn't answer at all. I had him say nothing. And it worked!

More recently, I was working on the outline for my current WIP, and once I was about eight chapters in, I couldn't figure out what came next. I knew what the ending was going to be, but I didn't know how to get there.

Instead of trying to squeeze and force a weak storyline to get from point A to point B, I tapped my backspace key a bunch of times (this might be why that key is now broken), and I deleted the previous two chapters. So, those chapters weren't working? Simple: get rid of them. I wrote a new, more natural path to the climax of the book, and it's much better.

This may not be the case for every obstacle that has me puzzled, but it's encouraging to keep in mind that the solution might be simpler than we think.

Writers, how have you fixed plot holes, adjusted your storyline, taken care of scenes that don't work, etc? Has it been long and complicated, or have you found ways to see the simple solution?
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