Author Archives: CLW

Kyra Leigh, Queen Bee

Struggle struggle struggle.

When did it become this hard? Has it always been? Between work, family issues, struggling with money, and having to move yet again, you’d think writing would brighten my day.
But not so much lately.

The first novel I ever wrote was my emotion right on the page. I was living under a cloud and somehow that book was written. It’s not a good book, but writing it made me happy. It made me feel something other than sad. It might the light crack through my dark and emotional cloud. It was my first novel. My first love.

My novel that my agent took me on for only took me a few months to write. Somehow it just happened. It was like I wasn’t writing it, but some new Kyra in my head appeared and wrote the story for me. I fell in love with my characters. And I even felt great about the story. {maybe not so much now}

This recent novel has been…such a bitch. It’s killing me. Yes, sometimes  when I get a good groove going I feel happy, and proud, and think maybe it is working.
But then I re-read and the worry and stress floods back into me and I decide I just suck. And that I’m not a real writer, but just a pretender.

Like my first novel I am stuck under a cloud, but unlike that first novel this cloud is a lot darker. And I’m struggling.
Where’s the sun ?

How do you get out?
How do you make it work?
How do you fall in love with your story, and your characters, and everything else?

Writing is hard.
I love it. But sometimes I don’t.

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And the Winner is . . . .

Caldecott:

Locomotive by Brian Floca

Journey by Aaron Becker

Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle

Mr. Wuffles! by David Wiesner

Newbery:

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

El Deafo by Cece Bell

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Printz:

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard

The Carnival at Bray by Jessie Ann Foley

Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki

Congrats to all the Winners!

(A real blogger would have pictures. However, I have to go get my mom out of bed. Ooops. Sorry. I think I posted last year’s Printz winners first.)

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Three Thing Thursday

Cheryl Van Eck

A beautiful quote from Ray Bradbury on writing:      

“To sum it all up, if you want to write, if you want to create, you must be the most sublime fool that God ever turned out and sent rambling.

“You must write every single day of your life.

“You must read dreadful dumb books and glorious books, and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next.

“You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads.

“I wish you a wrestling match with your Creative Muse that will last a lifetime.

“I wish craziness and foolishness and madness upon you.

“May you live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories – science fiction or otherwise.

“Which finally means, may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.”

 

Brenda Bensch

So you tell yourself, “If I could just get this one book/story/poem/play/screenplay written, I think I could really take off. I could really soar!” In other words, I could prove that I’m a “real” writer. I’ve wanted to do it for a long time. I’ve certainly taken writing classes, gone to workshops, joined writers groups. I’ve even written blogs. Lots of them. Mostly about writing. Now, “if I could JUST get this ONE . . .”
The next thoughts come: “I’ll never get this done. The story’s squirreling around in circles. I can’t even make sense of it. How can I expect a reader to stick with it?”
You turn to a favorite writer. Not to his/her books. Just to a little quote, like:
“You’ve got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down.” ~ Ray Bradbury
Now you know: “Oh. I get it . . . just keep at it. You’ll figure it out . . . IF you just keep going. . . trying . . . working . . . writing . . . “
What do your wings look like? What quotes keep YOU motivated? Please share: they’ll help all of us!
Carol Lynch Williams
Since we have a Ray Bradbury theme (and I didn’t know we would!), I asked Michelle Hubbard what we should read of his. She said, “All Summer in a Day.”
So get reading.

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Back from Vermont College

It’s that time of year when students are coming back from Vermont College where one can attend the low residency and walk away (after lots of writing and reading, a few dances, plus invaluable lectures) with an MFA. Ten-ish days learning at the feet of greats. Here’s what Colin Murcray says about his experience.

In late 2014, after finishing a draft of my fourth novel, I found myself floundering in a well of self-doubt and fear.  My draft had turned out really rough, and I couldn’t escape the feeling that my writing was getting worse, not better.  I know I’m not the first writer to have such feelings, nor will I be the last.  But what I didn’t know at the time was how normal they were, nor did I have any idea on how to move past them.  So I didn’t write.  And the more I didn’t write, the more I panicked.
Then I received a promotional email about the writing for children and young adults program at the Vermont College of Fine Arts.  I’ve looked at that program numerous times, but not until I hit rock bottom did I consider actually applying.  Fast forward to January 8th, 2015, when I found myself on a plane in route to Montpelier, Vermont and my first semester residency.
It had been twenty years since I had been a college student, and it was with no small amount of apprehension that I walked into my sparse dorm room and plopped down my belongings.  I was far from home and family,  on a campus that seemed frozen in both time and ice, and surrounded by strangers. But before long, those strangers dragged my story from me, nodding with understanding and sympathy and offering words of encouragement.
As I attended lecture after lecture on the craft of writing, listened to an inspiring speech by the legendary Katherine Paterson, and workshopped pieces with a dozen other writers, I felt a flicker of hope.  By the end of the residency, I was ready to get back to work, armed with two dozen new friends and a confidence that my work was much better than I’d thought.  More importantly, I had the knowledge and support group to help me make it even better.
This experience has led me to understand the importance of community.  While not all of us can afford the time and costs to attend a two year writing program like VCFA, we can take part in the next best thing.  Conferences and workshops offering a less intensive, but immensely valuable alternative for recharging our batteries.  We can also find our support group among the people who attend them.  My two closest writing buds I met through conferences.  The point is, we are better writers when we rub elbows with other writers.  Sitting in our home offices, just us and our keyboards locked away from the rest of the world, may seem like a romantic writing life.  The truth is, it’s darn lonely, and the only voice we often hear is the one telling us we are no good, that we are wasting our time.

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It’s Okay to Take *Little* Breaks

by Lisa Sledge

There were days when I was in high school that I would be so overwhelmed by everything that needed

to be done I would freeze up to the point I could do nothing at all. Being a perfectionist, if I couldn’t get

everything done the way I felt it should be, I couldn’t bring myself to do anything but cry if I fell behind.

My mom, however, was wonderful. On those occasions where I had four projects coming due, she could

feel the stress building in me and threatening to take over. Without fail, she would call the school and

tell them I was sick.

We called it an “emotional health” day.

I would sleep in extra late, then spend the day calmly getting caught up on to-do lists for each project.

And I would breathe.

Sometimes everyone needs to take a little guilt-free break. Give yourself a mini-vacation. Stay in bed all

day. Turn off your phone. Give yourself permission not to write a word for one day. Read something

trashy. Eat ice cream and brownies for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Get caught up on a project, but only

if you feel like it. Nurture a relationship that needs tending.

And don’t feel bad. Schedule time to work on that manuscript the next day and stick to it.

You’ll write better when your mind is clear and you feel rested.

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Thank you and Three Thing Thursday

from Carol:

 

Thank you all for your kind words after Monday’s post.

 

from Brenda:

One of the much-published women in our critique group, the Wasatch Mountain Fiction Writers [WMFW], writes massive and highly-researched historicals.  She is amazing to me.  She writes every word of research by hand, often on legal-sized, yellow tablets.  She also writes her books out long hand before typing (or having them typed up).  Attempting to learn her secrets of organization, I asked her once how she finds specific bits of needed information as she composes her story.
“Oh, when I get to a point where I need a specific fact, it just pops into my head.”  She credited the having written it all by hand in the first place as the reason it “stuck”.
Tomorrow, Friday, Jan. 23, is supposed to “National Handwriting Day.”  I have seen this “day” credited to John Henry, for his bold (possibly myopic) signature.  And I’ve noted “National Writing Day,” as sponsored by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), but listed as Oct. 20, and so recognized by the U. S. Senate, 2009 through at least 2012.
Personally, I liked my friend’s idea that writing “by hand” contributed to her retention of information.
Suppose we all try writing something by hand tomorrow?  Notice whether it helps cement ideas, facts, data in our minds.  Maybe that can work for us, too.
Let us know how you do, and what you learn.
from Cheryl:
There used to be something in my house called writing time.
There used to be something called reading time.
There used to be something known as showers.
There used to be something known as sleep.
A month ago, all of these things were replaced by a baby boy.
To say my life is unbalanced is an understatement. I’m either taking care of my son, my daughter, or sleeping in those rare moments when their naps coincide.
But I know it’s temporary. I know, because I’m still jotting down notes about how to fix sections of my novel. I’m still waking up with inspiration for new stories. I’m still managing to sneak in a few minutes here and there of reading, studying the newest and best of my genre.
I’m a mother, but I haven’t given up on being a writer. I’m behind on my writing, but I’m not done.
And neither are any of you. If you’re behind, it’s okay. We can do this.

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Depression

In the middle of the night I was awakened by Kyra calling. I missed the call and panicked. Had something happened to another daughter? What was going on?

It turns out everything was okay. She was home from a date and wanted to sleep over so she didn’t have to drive far to get home.

But I set myself up for another terrible night of pain.

These are happening more and more.

The bad dreams.

The fear.

The anxiety.

The sadness.

Waking up over and over. And over.

Wanting to cry, but not being able to.

And the worst part of all–not writing.

I’m not writing.

(If I force myself to write, will I feel better?)

Why do I feel so awful right now?

Is it the lack of sunshine?

Is it what’s going on at home?

Is it my job?

The lack of money?

The worry?

And I too tired?

I’m not sure.

But this week, I will try again.

To write.

Stay home and not go out except to work and help my mom and spend time with my children (if they visit) and maybe, maybe, maybe write.

 

 

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