Monday, December 31, 2012

Synopsis-Land Ho!

New Years Eve and the Celebration has begun! Land Ho! My one page synopsis for my middle grade novel is no longer adrift. The tides brought her in this morning and another submission has set sail and is on course. Soon it will be champagne and song with friends, yo-ho, yo-ho, a writer's life for me!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Revisions, Land Ho - Synopsis Adrift

My revisions are no longer lost at sea! This week my book  e-sailed east to a publishing house. I will not reveal who it is until the editor sends word of where she's landed. Aarrh, my one page synopsis revision is adrift, but I trust in the currents to bring her to me with a sparkling hook and a colorful fish.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Sea Cave of Revision

I have been deep within my sea cave of revision. Though it's dark, I'm still floating. New chapters added and revised and edited and more on the horizon. Things get blurry and then a beam of light shoots through the cracks, and clarity comes. I'm looking forward to full sunshine again!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

So far, Smooth Sailing

I introduced a new character to my book and it has been fun developing him. I'm letting the current of creativity take me into these uncharted waters, and so far, it's been smooth sailing. At the moment, land is a speck on the horizon, but the sun is shining.

Monday, October 22, 2012

She Said Eleven

I was at my local bookstore today when I ran into an old client of mine and her young daughter whom I hadn't seen in a long time. She told me that they were living overseas for the past three years and I told her I've been writing children's books. I asked the daughter how old she was and she said eleven. I asked about the books she liked, and she mentioned the book series School of  Fear and another series I can't recall because my head was reeling after she listed The Hunger Games and mentioned she had seen the movie twice! Eleven, really?? I do understand that no two eleven year-olds are alike, but  would you allow your 10,11 or 12 year-old to read this trilogy? Are the kids & parents today just numb to violence because of what they see on television and the Internet? I liked the books, they were well written, but gratuitous violence holds no meaning, so it was no surprise that I soon found the violence tiresome. Back to my revisions-nothing violent or dystopian, I'm happy to say.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Wind has Died

Right when I thought my book was about to set sail, the wind died. I had a great phone consult with my editor friend, Joyce, on my book. She and I wrote a script together years ago, and it was awesome to experience the play of ideas again. Love the way we bounce things off of each other. I was toying with changing a few things on my first page, just wasn't sure what. Joyce triggered some new ideas that I'm excited to bring to my story, but at the same time, dreading it also. The past week I've been formulating it in my head and now's the time to write it. Once again, it's revision time. It's like getting the nerve to jump into the cool ocean. When you finally do it, the chill of the water shocks the system then you acclimate and discover playing in the waves is fun and exciting. When you leave the sea to lie on the warm beach, a sense of satisfaction rolls through you.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

SCBWI OC Editors Day Conference

Sailing inland for the OC Editors Day Conference, I found the waters were inviting with schools of fellow writers and an amazing pod of informative and supportive editors & agents. The catch of the day was being randomly chosen, along with five others, to have lunch with Yolanda LeRoy Scott, Editorial Director of Charlesbridge Books. Yolanda wanted to know how we ended up writing for children after we learned how she landed in the book biz, which was a surprising and cool story! I've been so secretive with what I've been writing, except with my critique group, so I was shocked how much I shared! But I felt safe to do so and the others equally shared. All of us had unique stories and influences! I'm diving back into the Cea of Writing with completing rewrites on my MG book from edits I just received from my pro-editor friend, Joyce, and one more rewrite (I hope) on my one page synopsis, then it set sails to it's new destination.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Fall is on the way and I'm now resurfacing. I live in an art town that comes alive in the summer with art festivals, music and the infamous Pageant of the Masters. And for the first time in a couple of years, we've had nonstop sunshine which makes it extremely difficult to stay in and write. If only my laptop had the nook technology so I can write on the beach when I'm not paddle boarding! I've been reading though. I'm on the third book, the Amber Spyglass of the Dark Materials Series by Philip Pullman. Children's books, really?? A part from the lead character, Lyra being ten, I find it to be more of an adult book. I'm amazed how flawlessly he brings in so many characters and subplots! I meet with my critique partner tomorrow so I'm off writing!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

One Page Synopsis Reaches Shore

It's been almost a month since I've blogged!! Summer, family & friends caused me to fall overboard. Some amazing events-I got my second rejection, I wrote a prologue for my next book, and I completed my first draft of the one page synopsis! The agent who rejected me did include a BTW that said, "I Loved Your Pitch!" Which I was pleased to know! I continue to scope out for the right harbor. The prologue was a late night inspiration and the one page synopsis was completed last Sunday night. Two things that was key: 1. Writing my jacketflap synopsis first 2. Writing a list of my plot points. Maybe this can help you too.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Inspiration for my next book

A couple of years ago my mother asked me if I wanted my father's old camera case. May dad had passed away and it was just sitting in the closet. Of course I said "yes," as memories of his case flooded my mind. When I went to pick it up, I discovered nestled inside, an old Nikon Camera, lenses, flash, etc.- each in its individual leather case. It has decorated my floor ever since. But it was last summer while gazing at it, a story synopsis came to me. Love when that happens don't you? The book is going to be a YA and I have now written my prologue for it. Ye! As for my MG one page synopsis, it's adrift but I think it will reach land sometime tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Slow Boat

I'm taking the slow boat on this next submission since this agent wants the whole book and I do have time. So why rush? I've gotten feedback from two out of the five people that I sent it to; all, are outside of my critique group. Of course, they are readers and some are writers too. I was able to get some reading done. I finished Catching Fire but have yet to get back to The Golden Compass. I was sidetracked by Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai. A beautiful and profound book written in prose that opened a new world for me. A young girl's experience as a Vietnamese refugee. I was deeply touched and saddened that I never learned about Vietnam, the country or the war in school. I hope this book finds its way into the hands of children across our nation. As for my one page synopsis, it keeps diving below the surface!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Writing and My Kitten

This is Jaspurr, my distraction. As you can see (or not), he is laying next to The Golden Compass and Catching Fire as to say, "How can you possibly want to read these when I'm so fun and cute?" He's right, and I have only read the first page of The Golden Compass though I loved the film! And the prequal to Catching Fire was read Pre-Jaspurr. Yes, I have always been a sucker for the furry beings! Especially my little Jaspurr who is now the only child after being apart of a litter of five. He has adjusted well and now walks over my computer keys when I'm trying to write and lounges on my manuscript when I'm trying to transfer my edits from the hard copy to the computer copy. Somehow, I'll get this submission done though sleep deprived from Jaspurr's 5am fascination with my hair! I got this blog done during his evening cat nap- time to wake him up so I can sleep through the night and early morning without my hair ambushed.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Query to Set Sail

The jacketflap synopsis and query letter writing adventure has ended. Submission packet is ready to set sail. It will cruise along the snail mail sea and should reach port early next week. Cannonballing into my next agent submission (different format), is planned to deport by the end of May, if I don't hit rocky waters. At the same time, formulations for my other books bubble in my head. One is a YA set in tornado alley and the other is a MG that will be set in either Plymouth or Cornwall, England. All this writing to do with a new distraction in my life, Jaspurr our fun, cute and sweet eight week old kitten. It's a good thing he can't reach my desk, yet!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Land, Ho!

I'm no longer lost at "Cea" of rewrites! My middle grade novel has reached shore! Well, for now it's enjoying the warm sandy beach and will soon be sailing into the hands of my colleagues and then who knows what that tides will bring in! Now I'm immersed in the synopsis. Reading jacket flaps in the bookstore and everything I can find on the Internet. Up all night writing one then awoke early to write another. Met with my critique partner who was pulled in by my early morning version. Last night yet another draft drifted in. So my process continues as I prepare to submit my work to a couple of agents. Next I'll be wading through the query letter. If I need a life jacket, I'll let you know.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Inspiration: My Grandparents' Trunk

Last Saturday, my boyfriend and I cozied up on the couch to watch "Midnight in Paris." I love Woody Allen's quirky characters and I was looking forward to discover some new ones. Owen Wilson fit right in Woody's family but I was disappointed with the other members in the beginning. The time travel scene is where the film began for me; it was extraordinary- loved it!! And those  members in the beginning worked for me in the end. This film triggered memories of photos I had seen of my grandmother on the beach in the 1920s.

On Monday, I ventured out to visit my mom and dig through the photo albums buried in my grandparents' trunk that use to be on their car, back in the day. I hit the jackpot, not only did I find several old photo albums to scan including those 1920 s beach photos, but also I found inside a brown paper bag, my grandfather's Mason hat which was folded up in a satin pouch and apron which I thought had been given away. Under the flap of his apron was the date he joined 1/9/1928 along with a "passing date" and "raised" date. On the back of the apron were blood stains! Ooo! Intriguing, don't you think? Next I discovered one of his masonic ring with the inscription "virtus junxit, mors non separabit." which means "What virtue unites, death will not separate." A little mystery and old photos = inspiration for one of my next  books! It's a rainy day so back to my Cea of rewrites of my middle grade book where I see land once again!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Agents Day - Info Overload

Yesterday I attended a SCBWI conference with four agents and two authors. "Revise, Edit and Polish and repeat fifty times before you submit" seemed to be the core message. Then there was all the other aspects of the biz-editors, publishers, promoting, marketing, sales etc. Though it was a good experience, I was left with info overload and the land disappearing behind a wall of fog in my "Cea of Rewrites." A good reality check I suppose which my Pisces dreamy delusional self didn't like and my Aries ( the baby sign on the wheel) Moon screamed how much more patient can I be? A lot more, was the answer from somewhere. I do enjoy my rewriting process but I can't wait to see land again!! I found comfort in Brian Selznick's beautiful & brilliant book, "The Invention of Hugo Cabret" when I read that his editors took two years working on it and it's only 26,000 words which is just 2,000 more than my middle grade book. After reading that, I wondered how long it took him to write, revise and polish it, not counting the amazing drawings. I'll have to check into it but right now it's sunny out so time to take a beach walk!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Synopsis Stalled

I got my synopsis started but soon stalled out while sipping my french roast at my favorite coffee bar last week. Rebecca, the children's librarian finished my middle grade book, ye! So it's time to plunge  into the Cea of rewrites again. Synopsis, you'll just have to float around for awhile until I'm ready to swim back to you. Don't worry, it won't be too long. I'm getting to the point where I want this to be done already! My critique group has aways to go, since we go over only one to two chapters every two weeks. "Patience" is my mantra. Thank Goddess/ God and all supreme ethereal beings for my critique group for their "seeing" abilities, when my mind fog sets in and my "be" verbs and "pet" words play invisible and  whose camaraderie is like a cozy fireplace on a cold day in this big, wide world of writing.

Looks like I'll get a chapter in after I'm finished here. Nice how blogging gets you in the writing mode, don't you agree?

Monday, March 5, 2012

I'm Back!

I share my birthday with George Washington which I have always found interesting. Our first president was a Pisces- we're the dreamers so I guess that makes sense. It has been a whirlwind week of celebrating with friends and family and I'm finally back. It was an amazing weekend; Saturday the ocean was crystal clear with hues of green. I watched the bright orange Girabaldi below as I glided across the glassy water on my stand up paddle board I nicknamed, the blue whale. Two large common dolphins cruised by to say "hello," but I was sorry they didn't have time to stop for tea, (Green tea, of course).
     Sunday was another gorgeous day and this time, my friends and I, hiked the hills above the sparkling coves. I always wanted to see a rattle snake and yesterday, I did! So there he was lounging in the sun with his rattle on the edge of the trail and the rest of him in a ditch with his belly full; the perfect photo op and none of us had a camera! Soaring above, a couple of red tail hawks. It was lunch time but I think something else caught their eyes as they sailed east across the sky.
    Synopsis time, I'll let you know how that goes.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Story Time, Yo Ho, Yo Ho, A Pirate's Life for Me!

Aaarrh! Yes, that is me dressed as a pseudo pirate at the Library yesterday where I volunteer for the infamous Story Time! Though I was "page turning impaired," I still had fun reading my friend, Melissa Northway's book, "Penelope the Purple Pirate" which was created originally as an App for Ipad & Iphone. I highly recommend it. I related to Penelope, because like her, I love adventure-especially when it involves the ocean and the color purple! Hard to see, but my t-shirt is purple. Though Penelope nevers says Aaarrh, I decided to improv that in tribute of my favorite ride, "The Pirates of The Caribbean" and yes, I loved Johnny Depp in the movie but I don't think he said "Aaarrh!"

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Research & Writing and Everything Else

I'm back in rhythm with my balancing act of writing, research and everything else. I'm still in the "Cea of Rewrites" with my second half of my MG and I was able to write my first draft of a picture book that has some fun facts about a Potter's Wasp that I will bring to my critique group tomorrow. This month my goal is to have my MG polished to the best of my ability! I gotta do that goal thing or it won't happen; instead, I'll lose myself on the "Sea of Laguna Beach" with my paddle board and many other distractions. Though I have to admit, some of these distractions have spurred on book ideas. But what good is an idea if it's not given the love and commitment to be materialized??
Last night was spent sipping a glass of red wine and eating a dark chocolate, dried cherry, and almond bar while reading and taking notes on the SCBWI Winter Conference. Why don't they do this conference in the fall?? Hello! Fall is the time to go to NY! Has anyone had a flight cancelled to NY because of the snow and had to miss the conference? Just wondering. Anyway, I'm grateful for the blog!
Everything else, is my business- Laguna Beach Massage, my boyfriend, friends & family. My write up on my business was published in February's Issue of Laguna Beach Magazine under "Healing from the Sea" where I talk about the health benefits of a seaweed soak- pages 68 -70, if you want to check it out on line.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Then Verdict is In!

Recap: October 1st pitched my MG to a literary agent and was told to mail the first fifty pages. I made a goal to get it ready and sent by mid-November. Mission accomplished with my critique team at my side!
At the beginning of 2012, the verdict was in, she said it was a sweet concept but she didn't connect to the narrative voice which was a personal preference and other agents may want to take on this project.

This didn't hit me too hard seeing that her genres were sci-fi, dystopian, paranormal and fantasy. My MG doesn't fall under these genres. We had a good correspondence and I appreciated her honesty. Agent-writer has to fit like the right puzzle piece and the editor is another piece of the puzzle. I'll continue to search out the right pieces that fit while my Cea of writing expands.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

My First Professional Critique (continued)

It was mentioned to submit your best work for the critique but I was too attached to what I thought my best work was and I just wasn't ready to share it from a "psychological point of view" and  "it needs more polishing" point of view. So I submitted my second picture book that I had a lot of fun writing.
My critique came from Ruta Rimas an associate editor from Margret K. McElderry Books, Antheum Books for Young Readers. At my first glance, I was blown away by the presentation- I immediately new she put quality time and thought into it. First page, which was on her company's letterhead, was a note of congratulations for taking the step to be critiqued which she recognized as not an easy step to take. Next was recognition of my nice imagery and fluid writing. Then the last third of the page was bullet points filled with questions and opinions. The second page had three examples of bedtime stories to look at and she didn't just list them, she took the time to copy in color the book covers onto the page. Behind that, my manuscript with hand written notes. I really got the sense that she truly wanted to help me improve my writing from the time and care that she put into my critique. She gave me a lot to think about! Some I threw overboard and others started a flood of ideas for rewrites.
     I know a couple of writers that received critiques like mine and never paid to have another critique done or left that piece behind because he/she was devastated by the critique. Words of advice- detach from your beloved manuscript and read your critique with an open mind. Everyone is unique, therefore, opinions will vary. Look at a critique like a map and like any map, there are several directions to go. There maybe routes that you never thought of before that seem worth exploring and there will be others that say to you "that's not the direction to sail!" So appreciate the map  for what it is and use the routes that you think will improve your story and hopefully an editor will think so too!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

My First Writer's Conference

In October of last year I went to my first writer's conference through SCBWI. Learning the way editors work was an amazing reality for me. The only experience I've had with an editor was my dear friend Joyce who years ago, was a script editor on "Days of Our Lives." Her job was all about the red pen.

In the literary world, I was pleased to find out that an editor is more like a coach guiding you to a tighter, clearer and more powerful story. I was especially impressed by Greg Ferguson, editor and cover art director at Egmont, USA who spoke at this conference. His enthusiasm shined through when he spoke of one of his projects and what impressed me, was his ability to recognize the core of the story and his willingness to work with the writer to get it published without infringing on his creativity. No red pen slashing going on, I was thrilled to discover! But later, bummed to find out that Greg doesn't accept manuscripts with anthropomorphism.

 Pitch sessions you had to pay extra and sign up for. Thinking it would be done with everyone watching, I decided against it. Some how I ended up on the the printout for a pitch session, unprepared, I went for it anyway. I thought what do I got to lose and perhaps this is all in divine order. The sessions took place in a separate room where you sat at a table across from an editor or an agent and pitched your story for five minutes like "speed dating." I've never tried speed dating because it wasn't around when I was dating but looking back, some of my dates would've been better under the "speed" format!

So there I was in front of an agent with the clock ticking. I got her to laugh with a line in my book- good start. I was attempting to sum it up when I saw another pitcher approaching; it looked like I was out. I stood up and the agent handed me her business card and asked for me to send the first 50 pages of my MG!

Afterwards, I was gifted a Corona ( from a fellow CSUF graduate setting up another event in the same hall )  and was the envy of the editors and some thirsty attendees ;-) An awesome ending to my first conference!

When I got home, I took time to go over my first professional book critique that I paid be continued.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Story Time Discovery & A Great MG!

I volunteer every Wednesday at our local library where I help out with "story time" for the little ones. Sometimes I read, ( nice to be using my theatrical training again : )  improvise with one of the animal puppets and or sing along to the "peanutbutter & jelly" song. After stories and songs, there's a craft project that's themed after one of the stories. Today was coloring and glittering a paper dog. It was a small group, so I joined in coloring but skipped the messy glitter part. No, I'm not a Virgo; I'm just not into glitter and how it sticks to everything it touches unless it's for a costume. It was especially fun today seeing a little boy respond to the repeating phrase in the picture book about a dog, of course. He giggled with joy every time he heard the repeating phrase and would repeat the phrase himself. It was nice discovery for me; definitely something to keep in mind when writing PBs. One of mine has a fun repeating phrase but the other one doesn't, but I don't think I'll change it.

This afternoon I finished reading "The Tilting House" by Tom Llewellyn. An Awesome MG. I loved that it was written in first person! As a kid, I always loved stories written in first person; it made me feel like the character in the book was my friend and he or she was telling me about his/her world and what was going on which made me feel apart of it. It's funny how I've heard you are not suppose to write in first person until your second or third book which I think is ridiculous! Don't you?? Anyway, the story was fun - filled with all kinds of twists and turns and wonderful characters! I liked how the parents were apart of the adventure too; after hearing that in most MGs, the kids are orphaned or something of the like. Parents played a major role in "A Wrinkle in Time". So I say the heck with the supposed "dos" and "don'ts" and just write a good story and with a lot polishing and tightening, it can be a great story.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Enjoying the Ride

Right now I'm enjoying riding this wave. I love going over my manuscript and finding stronger words to express what is going on and discovering my re"pet"itive words. "Pets" are nice to have just not in my writing. Then there is always a few "be" verbs that need action! Clarifying my characters through their voice and attitude is another. The critiques of my team always fuel my wheels of creativity too. Then there are paragraphs that I love just the way they are. I become the reader only when I print out my manuscript, how about you? As the reader, I discover a whole new territory of rewrites.
My MG is about 23,000 words and counting and the photos posted are part of my inspiration. I took all the photos except for two. That's my profile with the butterfly who had made its cocoon in my house.What an event! The hand is mine with the butterfly and the dragonfly. The butterfly I rescued from the middle of the street not far from my home. The dragonfly I found traumatized on our washroom floor when I rescued him/her. I wonder what will be next.

Getting my 1200 word picture book down to 700 words was the major editing exercise! So different from my MG!! Hey, the challenges of my wave is what makes it exciting.

Friday, January 6, 2012

"Cea of Rewrites"

Venturing out on my "cea" of rewrites, I dove into the double spacing and endless editing. While I was swimming in rewrites of my MG (middle grade), two picture books (PBs) floated to the surface. Then titles and outlines for other books knocked on my imagination door, so I had to take time to entertain them too, one being a YA novel that was inspired by something I inherited from my father ( more on that later). Endlessly drifting in my "cea" of rewrites, it was time for someone to throw me a line.
        A girlfriend, who had been writing picture books, threw me one and got my critique wave rolling. Next, was my client, who is the librarian in the children's section at my local branch. Fridays at lunch, she would go over my work. Her insights were invaluable and my wave was building. After joining a small critique group through SCBWI,  my wave had taken shape. It's a big wave but the shore is insight.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

My Book-My Process Continued

The rough, rough draft was finished 4/24/11 but it was just the beginning! Thankfully, I had time to dive in and do my research. The Internet, what a gift! I began to read sights on children's writing. I organized favorite files titled children's writing, author's websites & blogs, publishers, editors and agents. I joined Clubhouse Insider which is a wealth of information that has a monthly newsletter on the biz, along with how-to ebooks to download and real time Q & A. I became a member of SCBWI and I got a library card! I hadn't had one since my college days and I hadn't stepped a foot in our local library until May of 2011. The library was such a fun place for me as a kid; my mother took me there every two weeks or so. I have rediscovered that fun! It's an adventure sailing through the shelves to see what middle grade books I fish out to read! My book is middle grade so this is the area I chartered first. I was also fortunate to be in a small town where two independent bookstores existed that I could walk to. The book stores offered what was new. There, I would sit down and thumb through the books and write down publishing houses that looked like a good fit for my book(s).

Armed with information, I enter the "CEA of Re-Writes."  Journey to be continued.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Picking up where I left off

I'm sure my one sentence kept you hanging in suspense! It took so much time for me to set up my blog that I was too tired to blog! Now, blog what? I wanted to chronicle my writing process but I haven't discovered yet where to do that. Soon, I'll visit the Oracle of Blog to guide me out of this fog! For now, a quick sum up - sort of.
      I woke up one morning with my children's book idea almost six years ago.  A year later, I wrote down the idea & title after watching Horton Hears a Who at our local little movie theatre. Yes, I started with a Seussical rhyming prologue which eventually ended up in the editing shredder! Any of you love your shredder as much as me?? During my five years of writing I never picked up a children's book or did any research on "how to" I just wanted to get everything out of me and into my laptop. I of course, had childhood memories of Charlie and the Choclate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, and a Wrinkle in Time. Interesting how different it is reading those classics as an adult, wouldn't you agree? Anyway, I wrote every chapter without editing along the way; if I did that, I wouldn't be here blogging on and on.
     April of 2011, Easter Sunday late morning I'm late for the family gathering but I finished my book!  (to be continued)