Monthly Archives: May 2016

Fridays with Lisa

“You have to open your mind but not so much that your brain falls out.” The professor at the front of the room perched at the podium.

There wasn’t much I agreed with him on, but that point struck me.
The statement was directed to politics and social issues, but what about writing?
Having an open mind as a writer is pretty vital, but is there a point when it’s too much? Should we try to protect our brains to some extent?
Rain 27 out of 30 days.
That’s a lot of water and a lot of time inside with a seven-month old.
When it finally cleared just a couple days ago, I went outside and sat there. No phone or laptop, no ipad, no music playing or Netflix blaring. I breathed and kept breathing. Exposing ourselves to cultures and trends, news and social sites–all the crazy things the world has to offer isn’t a bad thing, but when do we step back? When do we take moments to protect our greatest writing asset, the brain. So it doesn’t fall out.
That’d be messy.

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Three Thing Thursday!


How’s the 15 minutes here, 15 minutes there coming?

What success stories do we have?

Were you able to come up with a new character? Kill off a villain? Figure out a plot point?

Are you still grabbing for writing time?

Keep going!



I attended LDS Storymakers and learned something about the writing process that’s helping me get over a hump. I’m trying to finish a complete draft of a YA novel before WIFYR (two more weeks!), and I realize that I have been subconsciously sabotaging my own efforts to make consistent progress.  In Chris Crowe’s class “Sweating the Small Stuff,” he quoted Norma Fox Mazer as she described her writing process: “My method is to write a first draft in which I spill out everything. The inner censor is banished.” She didn’t allow herself to stop and ponder for just the right word or phrase. It was more important to just get the clay on the wheel first, then worry about shaping and forming later.

           This is where I get  stuck. That doesn’t mean that a writer doesn’t use a rough outline, a map that points in the direction your story is headed. But at this point, the beginning, revisions are nothing but distractions. John Steinbeck called rewriting during the first draft nothing but an excuse for not going on.

            So how is your pottery? Do you spend so much time working on one part of a story, perfecting and polishing it, that you don’t even get enough clay on the wheel to make a complete and useful work of art? And now this part is almost dry but not part of anything whole? Let’s give ourselves permission to get completely messy when we are first creating. You can always clean up later.


One of my goals on my “writing bucket list” is to write a killer opening line. You know the type. The kind of line that makes you go, “Holy crap, I MUST read this book right this second!”

Opening lines should always have a mystery in them. There should be something that piques your interest, that makes you wonder what the rest of the page says. And the rest of the first page should make you wonder what the rest of the chapter says. And the rest of the chapter…well, you get the idea.
First lines are your gateway drug. You’re the dealer, and you need your reader to be hooked. You want them to give up sleep, food, and every spare moment they have to devour your words.
One of these days, I’ll manage it. Maybe the line will fall out of the sky and smack me on the head. Maybe it’ll be the result of 76 hours of revision on a 6 word sentence. But one way or another, I’m determined to make it happen.


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15 Minute Monday

Writing in little bits and pieces. Can you do it? Have you done it successfully, ever?

My dear friend, Laura Torres, wrote several VERY successful How-to books for Klutz Press. Her titles sold more than 6,000,000 copies. She is an amazing woman and an amazing writer, one of the most creative people I’ve ever met.

When Laura had two young children at home, she wrote a great deal of nonfiction. Her family ALWAYS came first. She wasn’t the kind of mom who locked herself away from her crying children. She was there every moment. And that meant she had to teach herself to write in the time given her.

I remember Laura telling me she wrote when she had the moments.

“I’ve taught myself to write in 15 minutes or less.” She told me this years ago and I still remember her words. And being in awe.

She wrote clean.

She wrote well.

She wrote quickly.

The results were amazing. She’s written A LOT of books.

(You may remember her work. Go here to see it.

Laura has since gotten another higher degree, is a grandmother (and expecting another grandbaby), and has made a name for herself in the world of writing for teachers.

She is, I think, the mother of making time, and making time work for her. Or she works with time.


Do you sit around waiting for lots of FREE time?

Or do you write in the moments at the doctor, at stoplights, while dinner simmers?

What can you do in 15 minutes a day?

I’d like to set up a challenge for us (those who want to play), for these last days of May. 15 minutes each day. That’s all we ask.

What can you do with that?

What does it grow into?

Does the 15 minutes become 30? The 30 minutes become an hour?

Are there hard scenes you work to, work through?

Can you tackle the scary stuff easier when it’s in chunks?

I’ll try to remember to chime in at the end of each day, ask a question or two (except on Sunday. I won’t check in then. That’s my day off from writing. Don’t tell Stephen King.).

There are nine days left.

405 minutes.

What will you accomplish?



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Friday by Lisa

As an introduction:

1. I write contemporary YA.
2. But I start grad school in the fall for an MFA in nonfiction.
3. I’m nannying for my nephew, six months old, in the DC area.
4. I thought I liked rain. I don’t.
5. Disneyland gives me migraines.
6. Life motto: I’d rather be at the beach.
7. Sometimes I pretend I’m British when no one is watching and say things like hi-ya and knickers.
8. Oh, and the name is Lisa.
Today I woke with a single thought–writing takes faith. Faith that something will happen when you sit at the computer. Faith that maybe a single word you write will be worth reading later even if it’s only by one person.
I forget this sometimes. I think if brilliant things aren’t already running around my mind then there will be nothing in me when I sit at my laptop.
Take the step of faith wherever you go, whatever clutters your lists with piles to do. Just sit even for a few moments and write something remarkable or rubbish. The thing with faith, you don’t know what’s over the cliff till you step to the edge.

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