Monday, February 21, 2011

To Write or to Blog? A Recurring Question.

I've been writing. And submitting. And critiquing.

A blog post is surely on its way soon....

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Bernard Pivot Blogfest

So, today I'm taking part in the blogfest hosted by Nicole Dudleroir by answering the ten questions in the following questionnaire. The questionnaire was originally created by Bernard Pivot, a French journalist, for the cultural series he hosted on French television from 1991-2001, called Bouillon de Culture.

Here is the questionnaire and my answers:

  1. What is your favorite word? Splendiferous.
  2. What is your least favorite word? Doh.
  3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? Art or nature.
  4. What turns you off? Jeans that reveal anatomy I certainly didn't ask to see.
  5. What is your favorite curse word? I rarely curse; but, when I do... yeah, I use the ubiquitous "F" word.
  6. What sound or noise do you love? Violin music.
  7. What sound or noise do you hate? Jackhammers.
  8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Ah, painting!
  9. What profession would you not like to do? You know that little toll booth where a person sits all day, collecting and making change for the cars that go by? Sheesh!
  10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? Yes, pets are allowed.
There you have it, my ten answers. Meanwhile, visit and enjoy Nicole's blog. Just click on her name above.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

What Makes a Good Writing Group?

The contagious period of my recent cold behind me, I trekked out Sunday, armed with Kleenex, to two writer meetings: one for PB writers; the other for those of us who write MG or YA novels. Normally the two groups' don't meet on the same Sunday, but this time they did, and it was a busy day to say the least. Busy, yes, but well worth the crowded day.

In the PB group, which met in the morning, I got so many ideas for the next re-write of a PB that I submitted, I can hardly wait until tomorrow, when I'm going to tackle it yet again. This will be the 8th rewrite, normally something that would have me sighing, "AGAIN?" But I'm looking forward to it, since I have a newer and better focus.

In the late afternoon group, I've been submitting chapter rewrites of an MG novel I rewrote last year. The book's been on the back-burner for awhile, since a minor character turned out to play a bigger part, and I needed to know her better before placing her in later scenes. While waiting, I wrote another book (a chapter book); luckily the research for that gave me some information I needed for this character.

Back to the afternoon critique group: My fellow members are high-level writers, avid readers, and their pithy critiques open up new avenues of thought. You know how it is when you write alone: you get into that mindset where you no longer see what you've made clear, what you haven't, etc. If you are in a good group, the real help comes from seeing your work through other eyes than your own.

So what makes a good group? Five things, in my opinion.

1. A good group is supportive. By supportive, I don't mean hand-holding. The group that tells you your work is brilliant as it is, your MC is the next Harry Potter, and you are just wonderful... well, that group might make you feel elated, but they aren't really helping you grow as a writer. The support I'm talking about is when they notice what works in your manuscript and cheer you on in the ongoing task of becoming a better writer, developing your work to its shining best.

2. A good group also tells you what's not working. What was in your head may not have made it to the page. Or you've repeated information in ways that are overkill. Or your scene could use heightened conflict. The points you read in good books and articles on writing are points a good group will pick up. Still, even though you try to apply advice you read, let's face it: on your own, you can get in a rut. With only one viewpoint (yours), you might think you've applied that advice to maximum effect when you've only scratched the surface. It's always useful to hear from informed readers.

3. A good group has knowledge to spare and share. In other words, they are as serious about writing as you are. Consequently they, like you, read about the craft, read about the markets; they bring all of what they know to the group. They are, in short, a small network. They offer the kind of contacts and info on a small and personal scale that blogging, FB, and Twitter offer on a vaster and not always personal scale. It's true: many heads are better than one.

4. After examining your work, a good group leaves you enthused about the possibilities. This is probably the most important way in which they are supportive. Group members root for each other, even while pin-pointing problems. A win for one (a publisher, an agent, whatever) is a win for all. Consequently a good meeting leaves members wanting to go home enthused and motivated to do even better work.

5. A good group, to work effectively, should be small enough for steady give and take. In each of the two groups I belong to there are five members. That's a nice number for what we hope to achieve, since we all are productive and contribute regularly. Because we are small, we have time to read each other's work, reflect on it, devote our best thought to critiques, and even, in some cases, to re-read and comment on individual's pieces online between meetings. The larger the group, the harder that is to do.

And there you have it: My five criteria of a good writing group. What are your five? Or do you have even more? Or even less? Let me know your thoughts.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Down and Out for a Few Days

Alas, I am down with a nasty cold and will not be blogging for a few days. Hope to be back soon though!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A New Award to Two Deserving Bloggers

As of today, I am inventing a new blog award for two of my favorite bloggers, Rachna Chhabria and Lia Keyes. I am not a techie at all, and these are two people who have helped me immensely in several ways. So they get the Helping Hand Award.

Rachna has a blog that provides endlessly helpful writer advice at . She writes children's books, has one of the most interesting blogs on writing, and she teaches fiction writing as well. But somehow she has always found time to help me out -- finding publishers for me to submit to, interviewing me about an early book, writing a review of my book, guiding me through the intricacies of Facebook. You name it, she is always willing to lend a helping hand.

Lia is the creator and administrator of the fabulous Scribblerati, a site where you can meet writers with common interests, chat, exchange critiques, blog..., the variety of ways to interact are endless. In addition, Lia continues to write her new novel in a YA series, conducts interviews, blogs with a wealth of information for writers, and was kind enough to explain Steampunk to me. Somehow she still made time to help me with my blog, analyzing it and giving good advice regarding what would make it more effective. Like Rachna, Lia is always willing to lend a helping hand. will take you to the Scribblerati site. Her website/blog site is:

Recipients need to list five things about yourself (that you haven't listed when receiving other awards) and pass on the award to others you feel have given you a helping hand.

Meanwhile, thanks, Lia and Rachna for lending me your helping hands!