Monthly Archives: December 2015

Post Christmas Pudding

My dear friends,

Today as my kids were fighting and my baby crying and my dishes piling, I wondered if it might be a good idea for world leaders like Putin and Obama and Isis and Kim and all of them to take three weeks and watch five kids (or more or less even) full time.

All day long.

Change poopy diapers of kids who hate getting their diaper changed so they twist and scream and try their hardest to run away half wiped.

Mitigate fights over of legos and lego handbooks and lego instructions and legos being thrown all over the room and lego sets being destroyed and GET SAMMY OUT OF HERE HE’S BREAKING IT!

Have piles and piles of laundry that never get done and sometimes they get folded but they don’t get put away and then the dirty get mixed in with the clean and then there’s no distinction between the two so it’s start over time.

Spend time reading stories and chapters and novels.

Lose socks and mittens and favorite minecraft figures and hair clips and coats and the flour (???) and  jeans and keys and phones and the youngest child and homework and wedding rings and the book you were reading and an entire bag of potatoes.

Have people sit on your face at three in the morning.

Go sledding in the backyard.

Have other people brush your hair while you try to help someone else do a puzzle while the baby is throwing oatmeal.

Listen to one child say Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Over and over and over again with no regard for any answer you give them. Yes? What? How can I help you? Doesn’t matter.

Have a birthday party with ten boys where they make paper airplanes and run around the house and scream and you say things like, let’s keep it down. Be careful of the stairs. Don’t break your face!

Go to the bathroom with one or more kid standing next to you talking to you, asking what you’re doing, trying to climb on your lap, etc.

Lay in bed in the morning with five people wrestling and laughing and kicking your stomach and yelling and wanting cereal and pancakes and bacon and milk.

Feel a general ache in your bones because you love your children and you want them to be happy and work hard and learn and eat healthy food and get a lot of fresh air and become responsible adults and kind people who aren’t jerks but you also know it might not matter so much what you do or maybe it does matter but you’re tired and you’re kind of a jerk too so good luck to them.

Feel another less general ache. One that is centered right above your heart where your creative center beats and you want more than anything to be able to write. To read. To think. To take more than ten minutes at a time to spread your thoughts out. To let them marinate and connect. To write without it having to amount to anything because you have the luxury of time. Time to let the crap out and the good out and time to figure out which is which. Which ideas should rise to the top and which are just stepping stones to getting there.

Do you think it would change them? Would they be different? Would there be less wars? More wars? More compassion? Less compassion? Would they curl up in beds? Take the kids to museums, Bjorns and all? Get the bathrooms clean using environmentally safe cleaners and dinner made with grass fed beef all while cutting health care? What would it be like?

Someone is crying now that’s it for me.

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May Your Days Be Merry

Just a week until Christmas.

We’re wrapping presents like crazy! What about you?

I hope these few days are filled with joy and love.

Write if you get a minute. And love the ones you’re with. That’s most important.

 

Love from Ann Dee, Kyra, Brenda, Cheryl and Carol

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Three Thing Thursday

Brenda
What’s wrong with 14-year-olds?
Actually, nothing . . . really. And I’ve taught just enough of them to know — they’ll grow up, some day, and be REAL people (a word of encouragement for parents!).
But in writing ? ? ?
I’ve been told — reminded, actually, a number of times — NOT to write about a 14-year-old. And don’t write FOR 14-year-olds either. Apparently, at least in more than one publishing house, you’re likely to get turned down.
So, here’s my take on it: 14-year-olds are struggling. I’d have been the one struggling to stay “a kid.” I’m REALLY not sure I’d even, thoroughly, given up on Santa Clause by age 14. Then there were the other 14-year-olds I knew: (some of the girls already wore bras . . . and NEEDED them! Some had already started their . . . well, you know . . . )
Not me.
I was just hoping Santa wouldn’t forget my house, finally, this year. I still BELIEVED. Or wanted to so badly I could taste it. (Christmas was NEVER the same, after I finally crossed that threshold.)
But, back to writing, instead of reminiscing about my Childhood Lost.
Here’s what I’ve finally concluded: 14-year-olds already know what 14-year-olds do. What they say. What they think.
MOST of them (excluding me when I was that age, I suppose) want to know what comes NEXT. What do 15-year-olds get to do? To wear? Where can they go? WITHOUT Mom or Dad?
The lesson here is don’t write your MC as a 14-year-old protagonist. Make him12 or 13. Or write her as 15 or 16.
I’m told a 14-year-old protagonist is flat-out-dead on the first reader’s desk s/he lands on.
Merry Christmas ! ! ! And don’t forget that 14-year-old who lives at your house: (Does she still need Santa? Let me know, and I’m there ! ! !)
Cheryl
Today I got some harsh critique on some my photographs. 

And when I say harsh, I mean I was crying for most of the rest of the day.
Now, I’m no stranger to critique. I’ve developed a pretty thick skin over the years. So I started thinking about why this one affected me so strongly.
I think the biggest problem was that there were no rules on this particular forum about how to give critiques. In most professional settings (a.k.a. Carol’s classroom) everyone is required to note both the good and the bad about a particular work. On this forum, no one said anything positive until I was already miserable and broken. Also, most of the mean comments were downright rude and intended to belittle and make fun of me.
The point is, there are good things about every work. Even if all you can honestly say is, “Well, it looks like you had fun making it!” It’s still worth saying that.
Critique should never be used as a way to scare someone away or make them give up. It should be used to encourage growth and learning. You should walk away from a critique feeling like there is plenty of work to do, but you can do it!! If you don’t feel that way, find a new critique group that better fits your needs.
Carol
We’re taking next week off, so I encourage you to do three writerly things this week:
1. Imagine the holidays for your character. What are they like?
2. Sketch–even if you don’t draw–your character. Leave plenty of white space. Hang that picture someplace you will see every day. As you pass this picture add adjectives, incident ideas, plot points that come to you. You don’t have to use them all. Allow yourself to be informed by this drawing.
3. Read one book for pleasure

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Three Thing Thursday

ALERT! MARK THE DATE!

 

We’re having a WIFYR kickoff  January 15, 2016, Friday. 6-9 pm. !!!!!!!!!!!!!

At this point I’m not exactly sure where we will be, but . . . this event is for all writers, published and almost-published and thinking about writing.

This will be ticketed, meaning you’ll need a number to get in the door, as there’s a limited space.

We’ll share a fantastic potluck celebration and, if you’d like, you may bring a new or gently-used book that will be donated to a library in need of books.

We’ll have a guest speaker (TBA), a few writing prompts (bring writing material), a chance to share a best line or two and a quick pitch session (just with each other!).

This kickoff is supported by SCBWI UT/ID chapter. We’re excited to work with Travis and Sherry in making UT the producer of the finest children’s lit ever.

 

FYI

For those who are interested, Steve Fraser, an agent at Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency will be here in UT on February 24 and 25 for a day + workshop.

PM me on Facebook or email me and I can give you details.

Limited number for this event, too.

 

CHERYL

I admit, I haven’t been writing. 

But I have been reading. Not just fun reading, but critical reading. Deciphering what works, what doesn’t, what should have been.
And I’ve been thinking. It sounds like a cop-out, I know, but my process has always been to work things out in my mind first and then just transcribe it onto the page. By the time I physically write anything down it’s already on the third draft.
My big problem in my novel is the science. No matter what I do, I can’t make the science work in my favor. I need to make friends with some scientists. In another novel, it’s too short and too cliche. It needs a dose of reality, and I have no idea how to inject it.
But I haven’t given up. Someday something completely unrelated will happen in real life, and everything will click into place.
I can’t wait.
BRENDA
Carol wrote on the 7th about what the writing world had opened up for her: basically, a whole new world.  This after just having survived (like several of us, no doubt) NaNoWriMo, November, Thanksgiving.  And now we’re knee-deep in getting ready for Christmas.  Or, at least, getting ready to get ready.  I’m with Carol: time seems to speed up these days.
I refer back to the book I recommended last week and the week before: “TimeShifting”.  Try to hang on to the here, to the now.  Let the person who ignored you at the ward party go.  She probably was having problems of her own.
Let the family member (you know the one: the one who MUST have everyone’s attention) and stoops to coming “fashionably late” or fails to show up at all for a family gathering.  The guy who dominates all the conversation so that “significant others” belonging to this or that family member stumble through the evening trying to greet people they don’t even know, while the conversation has been hijacked by some needy friend or family member, and can’t stop railing about his/her misfortunes.
Concentrate instead on the attention paid to arranging the serving table.  Listen . . . REALLY Listen to the music playing softly in the background without calling attention to itself, even though it was carefully thought through and chosen by someone there.  Find that someone and give a thank you for the thoughtfulness of that gift of calming sound.  Talk to one of the small children whose parents are busy talking to other grownups.  REALLY BE THERE for any function you attend.  Look forward to it.  PLAN what you will do within the milling crowd of family, friends, and the occasional stranger.  Welcome that stranger by listening to him or her before moving on to others.
And thus create your OWN Merry Christmas Celebration, within the context of places you “MUST” be this holiday season:
MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT ! ! !

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