Author Archives: anndeecanndee

About anndeecanndee

I write books. Sometimes. Mostly I just throw up words.

To blog or not to blog

My husband teased my last week because not only did I not get FIVE comments, I didn’t even get ONE comment.

I teased him because he has a mustache and that’s gross.

I  don’t mind not getting comments. I actually don’t mind if nobody reads this (does Carol mind? Maybe. Sorry). For me, blogging forces me to put sentences together. Lately that has not happened in any other forum. I also have a personal blog that I only write on when I am under extreme duress, or I am mad, or I can’t talk to anyone because I’ll start crying–so that blog is a little more regular than this one. Ha ha.

I do however have writing friends who don’t blog because they feel like it wastes writing time and energy.

Or they think no one reads blogs anymore (twitter is the thing).

Or they say it’s actually NOT writing practice because it’s a different type of writing.

Here are the questions:

1. Do you blog?

2. Why do you blog?

3. Is it a writing exercise?

4. Can it be a waste of time?

5. Do you read blogs?

6. Do you think twitter is the thing?

7. Do you find kale to be disgusting?

8. How many times a week do you wash your hair?

9. Do you think all writers should have blogs?

10. Do you think we should stop blogging and move to Hawaii?

That is all for today.

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Poor Carol

I have become the most unreliable blog partner. Carol and hopefully most of you are at WIFYR right now, one of my favorite places.

I am NOT at WiFYR, sadly.

Instead, I’m wiping down walls and stepping on spiders and trying to get my house ready to sell. Would you like to buy my house?

Here are a few things to think about this week–if you’re not at WIFYR. If you are at WIFYR, you will have plenty to do.

1. Listen to this podcast on fathers from This American Life. Different parts of this podcast jumped out at me.  One segment in particular, about a boy losing his father and seeing him in his casket (he used the word coffin which is a whole lesson on diction and how it can change a piece completely) made me think a lot about my own experience with bodies. And death. And parents. And how we are “supposed to” react to tragic events in our lives but yet things are so much more complicated than they seem.

Writing Prompt: Listen to this podcast and then write about your own dad. Write about he did or didn’t attempt to show you how he loved you. Did he say it out loud? Did he cook you breakfast every morning? Did he hug you and write you notes in your lunch? Did he dress up every day and wave to the bus? This could turn into a first chapter. It could be a short story. Or better yet, it could be a letter to your own dad, telling him how you love him.

2. Here are some summer reading programs to motivate your kids. Now we all need to think of some summer reading programs to motivate each other. How many books will you read these next few months? Why can’t i finish a novel? Why do my toes ache.

Writing Prompt: Make a list of books you’ve always wanted to read. Make another list of books you’ve heard about and possibly will read. Now make a list of books that are sitting on your side-table that you should read. Make a reading goal. The more you read, the better you write. Now tell me what to read.

3. Watch this show. Pay particular attention to the story-telling, the narration, the character development, the rising and falling action of each episode. This is based on a memoir. Are you keeping a journal? If someone was going to make a show of your life, what would the episodes be? What would have to change (to keep viewers interested), what could stay the same? A lot of times people will write stories and they will be unbelievable. I’ll tell them this. Then they’ll tell me that IT HAPPENED LIKE THAT IN THEIR REAL LIFE! And I’ll tell them: Sorry. It’s still unbelievable.

Life really is stranger than fiction. But we can use our life to make our fiction more rich. We just have to finesse it a bit.

Writing Prompt: Write a short episode–complete with hook, middle/climbing action, climax and ending–all based on an incident in your life. A small incident. Maybe something that happened today. While you were trying to cross your sweet child’s room to get a shirt and stepped on a lego and fell down on more legos and screamed out in pain and then someone called the ambulance and you were fine but you pretended you weren’t fine. You crossed your arms across your chest and waited for the men to come and put you in the back of the truck and people would be screaming and you’d be very very still and your kids would be worried so should you wake up? Or should you keep still. And let them learn about life and how sometimes people get hurt when they step on Legos. Write a story like that. Only different. And better.

That’s all for today. I think if I get five comments, I’ll give you more assignments tomorrow. If I don’t, I’ll know you’re all networking and laughing and singing and eating at WIFYR without me and definitely not reading this blog and I’ll just go back to acting like I’m going to paint walls WHICH I HATE.

The end.

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Some assignments.

1. Today I was doing this fifteen minute workout and was about to pass out. My eight year old was timing me and my six year old was sitting nearby saying things like, “Why are you breathing so hard?” “Why is this hard for you?” “Is your leg supposed to go like that?” It was really rejuvenating. All writers should take time to exercise around kids. It really helps you get in the mood to write for children. Assignment: Do ten side plank oblique crunches with young really nice children looking on.

2. My two year old just ate a handful of kosher salt . . . and is going in for more. Next I’m going to hand him some lemons. Assignment: Give kids bad things to eat. Watch them. Write down a lyrical passage about their reaction.

3. I wish I had my own swimming pool. Assignment: Buy me a swimming pool.

4. I’ve been reading Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner. In five minute spurts.  I have decided to copy down passages word for word from his book. His writing is beautiful and one of the best ways to learn is through imitation. When you actually write down the words, you can feel the rhythm. You get a better sense of the sentence length, punctuation, description. Assignment: Find a great book. Something DIFFERENT from your style. Write down several passages word for word. Read them out loud.

5. My girl Valynne has her book launch tonight at the King’s English. Please go. Assignment: Go to the King’s English tonight.

6. Last week someone asked me when my baby was due while I was holding my six month baby. Although I know I look pregnant and normally this wouldn’t affect me so much–I’ve had five babies! Life is good! Belly fat is fine!, I just happened to be really tired and really run down and really emotional. I cried in the car. Assignment: Write about a time someone said something and made you feel sad and they realized they made you feel sad (the lady realized it) which made it even worse because then they felt bad and you felt like crying but you didn’t want to cry in front of them because then they’d feel worse and you’d have to keep saying, It’s okay! It’s okay! I’m fine. This is my cute baby. This is my body after my cute baby!

7. He just took another handful of salt. I’m a fabulous mother. Assignment: Eat a handful of salt.

I think that’s all the assignments for today. If you do them all, and I mean ALL, let me know and I’ll send you a prize. I want proof P.S.

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A little plug . . .

My friends Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia’s new book in their Dangerous Creatures series just released. To celebrate they are doing a book drive. All you have to do is post a picture of yourself with a book you love. Their publisher, Little Brown, has agreed to donate a book to an underfunded school library for every picture posted. Here are some details from Margie:

During the two weeks of May 12-May 26 (starting this Tuesday) hashtag, #BooksArentDangerous & post your photo with a book. The book can be one that mattered to you, one you wish you’d had, or a current read you would recommend. You can post on facebook, instagram, twitter, or tumblr. For every photo you post, Kami & Margie are working with Little Brown to match it with a book donation. (Details TK!) In addition, we also encourage our author, reader, teacher, librarian, blogger, and bookseller friends to take this opportunity to donate books to underfunded local school libraries. If you do, please post those pics too, and we’ll be reposting at http://www.booksarentdangerous.com.

I think this is fabulous and a great cause. Here is my picture that I just took which is beautiful and sexy. IMG_5004

I love the WESTING GAME. Love it. Since I was a little girl. Now I’ll hashtag this #BooksArentDangerous and voila!

Join in the fun! Books for all!

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Continuing on . . .

So this week has been more hectic than I anticipated. I told my husband this morning, it feels like it should be Friday.

It’s not Friday.

Far from it.

Because of that I haven’t been able to revise the next chapter in the novel. That means Carol has to wait for me. I also haven’t been able to blog, work on my other novel or take a shower.

But that’s all of us, right? We have good days and bad days. When you write with a partner it’s important to be flexible. I think, and we haven’t tried this, but I think it would be a good idea to get away for a day or two and write back and forth all day. We could write on our other projects while the partner works on the novel and go back and forth in a concentrated manner. I’ve found that with my life situation right now, big chunks of time are both precious and productive.

I think that should be our next experiment. Can we finish revising in a day?

Now to find a place to retreat. That allows babies. And has good food. And a pool. Or at least a hot tub. Or a clean tub.

I don’t require much.

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Writing with a Partner

I do love to write with other people for numerous reasons.

  1. It isn’t so lonely.
  2. You get to end a chapter and then send it off without having to figure out what comes next.
  3. You do half the work (like Carol said).
  4. You get someone else to help you figure out your writing problems.
  5. It’s kind of a game.

The cons are about the same. You don’t have as much control. You have to be adaptable. Schedules and writing times can vary.

For this book, it’s true, I kept feeling like we needed something more in the plot. We needed to up the ante. Carol, on the other hand, told me not to worry. That everything would fall into place.

She was right.

And I was right.

It was awesome to get the first draft done. We did it! And it was pretty solid. Now we have something we can work with. I realized through this process that sometimes I worry in the middle of my novels and stress about the trajectory rather than pushing through and finishing. With Carol assuring me that a) my character wasn’t as boring as all out and b) that even if it DID need more plot-wise we’d figure it out, the book got done much faster.

Now we are trying to figure out who to revise–in a big way–to add that plot thing.

Also, we are having issues with logistics. Should we be using word? How should we save each draft? Do we download it every time? Should we be using google docs? Dropbox? Email?

If you were writing a novel with someone else how would you navigate that part of it? Have any of you done this? Tips?

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Love

One of my good friends gave me a journal called A Line A Day diary. The concept is that for five years, even if you only write one sentence (there’s room enough for about three for each day), you will have a valuable record. You will also be able to compare what you did each year on each day.

It’s awesome.

And it takes discipline–a sentence a day! Who would have thought?

I am convinced that discipline more than anything else is the key to success as a writer (although the definition of success can be debated).

Right now, I am taking a look at my life and trying to decide what is most important to me. I am also trying to decide when and how and where I will write–I need to make it more conscious.

I think it’s important to take stock. To step back and re-evaluate.

I have decided that I am a writer.

And I need to make it more a part of my daily life.

And I need to let myself love it like I used to.

I need to make mistakes.

And write funny stories.

And spend more time with other writers.

And laugh.

And find joy in the process more than the product.

When do you write?

Is it fun?

Do you laugh?

Cry?

Eat pizza?

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