Tag Archives: Glimpse

Be Very Afraid

So a week plus ago, Ann Dee and I sent in the book we wrote together to our agents. The rewrite. It’s ready for submission. Woot woot!

Before we started our project, way back when, we decided we would write something we had never done before.

We would take some risks.

We had three pages (maybe) of a dark dystopian with elements from history. (That we still need to write. And we will. I think.)

Then Ann Dee sent me a new beginning and we wrote a middle grade novel exactly like the things we would both write on our own.

I love it.

It’s hilarious. And sad. And delicious. There’s lots of talk of food.

(Ann Dee is one of the best writers in America. Yes, I believe that. How did I luck out getting to write with her?)

GingerBelle Co. That’s the title. For now.

For me, it seems perfect for a sequel.

And a sequel to this kind of book is exactly the kind of thing Ann Dee and I write.

We’ve spent plenty of time giggling about how we were going to write something different and how we did exactly what’s comfortable to both us.

 

As we got closer to the end of the novel, I started bugging the lady with the five babies under the age of four, about our next book.

We sent each other ideas.

Brainstormed.

Wondered out loud.

Went for a treat and talked.

“It has to be different than what we’d normally write,” Ann Dee kept saying.

And I kept saying, to every idea, “No. We write that already. We write that already.”

 

Why should it be different?

My dear friend, a writer I love and admire, Matthew J. Kirby, told me that I should write the book I’m afraid of. Matt knows I’m terrified to even think a thought that may include a fantasy element.

He’s right.

Fantasy? I can’t even think a fantastical thought. (And when I shared my one fantasy idea with Ann Dee she said, “My heart’s just not in that.” She wanted to laugh. I could tell.)

Fantasy is different for me.

It’s scary.

 

I’ve done it a few times. Written what I was afraid of: THE CHOSEN ONE.  GLIMPSE. THE HAVEN. Those topics all terrified me.

What happened when I let myself explore these scary ideas?

I ended up writing books in new ways. At least new ways for me.

That meant anguish. Fear. Tears. And some joy. Joy because I succeeded.

 

After going back and forth for about a month, throwing ideas at each other and keeping Matt’s suggestion to be afraid of the next thing we write, Ann Dee and I may have found it.

Our new project.

It’s absolutely terrifying.

Historical. A terrible time in history.

A different culture.

I’ve been thinking of this idea less than 24 hours and I am afraid of it. Really afraid of it.

But if we add a dose of what we love, things Ann Dee and I are comfortable with, we may be able to pull this off. Things like family. Love. Sisters. Humor. Sorrow.

 

So what absolutely frightens you?

I really want to know.

 

 

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Filed under Ann Dee, Character, CLW, Family, Life, Plot

Three Things Thursday

From Cheryl Van Eck

In rereading ON WRITING by Stephen King, one passage really stood out to me.  He spoke about “killing your darlings,” or getting rid of any words or sentences that don’t work. For me, that always meant cutting out the parts you liked, but weren’t actually any good. However, for him, it means cutting anything that doesn’t contribute effectively to the story, whether it’s good or bad. 

“Certainly I couldn’t keep it in on the grounds that it’s good,” he writes, “it should be good, if I’m being paid to do it.  What I’m not being paid to do is be self-indulgent.”

This struck me in a new way. If I’m expecting to be paid, everything I write should be good. Instead of finding ways to rationalize why a certain passage should stay in (“But my writing group thought it was funny!”), I should be focused on making every word worthy of payment.  Each word needs to submit to a higher power…which, in this case, is the almighty Story.

As Carol always says, “Pretend you have to pay a dollar for every word you use…then see how carefully you choose your words.”

Speaking of the devil–From Carol

Writing a novel in poetry (THE BRAID) or short choppy lines (my novel GLIMPSE) means thinking of all the words you use. Each is weighted. Each plays an important part. There is very little to throw away.

Take an important section of your book.

Rewrite in short sentences.

Think Ann Dee’s work EVERYTHING IS FINE.

Play with structure.

Cut excess words.

Tighten.

What do you have when you’re finished? Do you like it? Does the novel lend itself to this kind of style? What have you learned?

From Brenda Bensch

A couple of months ago in an issue of Writer’s Digest, I saw a photograph of three people – at least two of them were children – walking hand-in-hand along a snowy path between trees. The misty air in front of them obscured whatever may have lain at the end of their path. Readers had been invited to write the first sentence of a new story based on the photo, where the ten “best” openings were published.
It made me think of a good exercise: using an old favorite painting, print, or photograph hanging in your home (or something from an art book, magazine, newspaper, whatever) write ten one-sentence beginnings to new stories. Which three sentences are the best? If you’re brave, show them to relatives, friends, or your critique group, and get their votes. Which one fires the most interest in you, the writer? Which one could be a good short story, poem or even the beginning of a novel?

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Filed under CLW, Exercises, three thing thursday, Voice

Memories

No one sent any of their writing exercises in, so there is no need to share.

I wonder, should we even try these anymore?

(Shrug)

 

I happened upon a very interesting thing as I wrote my speech for the Outstanding Achievement Award that was given to me by LDS Storymakers.

(By the way, this honor blew my mind. I never expected it. There are many, many people who could win this. Many great people who have won–like Rick Walton–last year.)

So, while I was writing what I would say (because you know in advance about this) I figured out why I write for kids.

The truth is, I have a very 12-yr-old voice.

I remember parts of when I was twelve.

And, while I won’t share it here, when I was writing this acceptance speech I knew the MOMENT I became twelve forever.

 

How the world was upside down because two important people in my life  were both so ill. Both in hospitals. One in Orlando. One in Daytona. We lived in Longwood, right in the middle between these two hospitals that were more than 56 miles apart.

My family and I would drive back and forth, after I got out of school, nearly every day to see these loved ones.

 

I must have been tired.

Because one day my best friend Vickie Finlay said, “You shouldn’t be going every day. This isn’t something a kid should be doing.”

I can’t remember what classroom we were sitting in. But she turned around in her seat to tell me that. “Carol. Only your mom should be doing that.”

 

Have any of you ever felt like writing a memoir?

I know my dear friend Claudia Mills has. In fact she has an amazing first line that makes you laugh and feel sorrow at the same time. She is a terrific writer.

Anyway, some days, I think, ‘Should I tell my story? Do I make it official? Do I have enough memories? Do I want those memories coming back?’

I’m not sure.

Plus, there is this fact: I know my truth seeps out and into my writing.

Do I need anything more?

 

Here’s another thing: The Olivers–that line Nanny came from–could hold a grudge forever.

I have tried to not do that because I mostly love people, but there have been a few individuals, a handful, that I have gotten angry with and kept the fury-flame a-burning because that person–who probably never thinks about me–deserves my fury. For example, the woman who has caused me so much grief these past two months.

I should be angry with her!

I have no place to live!

And she’s the kind of person who would walk around Macey’s grocery store in her wedding dress and not buy anything. (I know this for a fact.)

(PS I have decided to stay angry a little longer. I will let this go when I am no longer panicked about  where we will go. I will stop my Southern Turnip Curse when all my stuff has been safely placed in my forever home. I will quit telling others what I hope happens to this woman once we move to a good place. I promise!)

 

That said

these grudges aren’t so great.

One of my family members hasn’t spoken to me–really spoken to me–in more than sixteen years.

And now her children, who meant the world to me–haven’t spoken to me in several years. Not one of them.

I am missing out on their lives.

Yes, this story, bits of it will wind up in books.

But.

 

I think of how Ann Dee adores her mom.

That’s the way life should be.

 

I guess what I am saying is, even more important than all the books I have published or all the awards–and I have been very, very proud of these things–is who I am on the inside and my children. In the end, no books will circle my deathbed. Only my children and their families will. The Chosen One will not kiss me goodbye. Carolina Autumn will not hold my hand. Waiting will not tell me to “Go toward the light.”

Only my girls will.

Plus maybe my best friends (I have a few).

This will be my reward.

 

So I must do better. At all of it.

(Except the couple of grudge holding bits)

 

 

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Filed under CLW, Depression, Family

Some Things I Have Heard

Sometimes I wonder where the line between the truth and another’s feelings should be. Here are a few things that have been said to me about my work. My response or thought, follows.

1. I’ll never let my children read your book. The kids in there are too naughty.

Steve said, after I told him this, ‘She didn’t have a lot of faith in her parenting, did she?’

2. Oh. Contemporary.

Yup. Just dumb, old, sad sack, someone dies and is nekkid, contemporary.

3. That’s what I hate about people like you who say they don’t like fantasy. You just don’t know what you’re talking about.

I  considered standing up to this person as this was said in a public place, in front of lots of my friends. But I let it go.

4. I’m not one of these [unpublished] people. My book is the lead title.

For me, humility is pretty important. Being an ass won’t keep you from being popular and rich, but I won’t like you. And neither will some of your contemporaries (who write fantasy! Hahahaha!).

5. You write rated R books.

I do?

(I actually liked this, it came from Steve. Still, I was surprised at first because I don’t watch R-rated movies.)

6. Why did you curse in this book?

Uhhhhh. Sorry fifth-grade kid. Ummmmm. ‘It’s life?’

7. I’m just worried you are selling your soul to the devil for money and popularity.

Well, then, my soul is worth pennies on the dollar compared to other people’s souls.

8. Children’s and young adult writing aren’t taken seriously in academia.

Then how do you expect people, who don’t read as children, to read as adults? As far as I’m concerned, we have the most important job of all, no matter what our degrees are.

9. Do you think you’ll ever write for adults?

Only if adults want a story with a main character who sounds twelve.

10. I like so-and-so’s work better than yours.

Okaaaay.

11. I know she’s sitting right over there, but will you sign Louise Plummer’s book for me?

‘Yup!’

I will have you all know that I did sign Louise’s book. With my own name. 🙂 Just as the reader asked me to.

12. At ALA a reader came up to me and told me everything I had done wrong in my book, GLIMPSE. She then compared me to a more popular writer of verse-type novels, telling me this other person was a better writer and etc than me.

Laura and Kyra were with me and tracked the girl down. They wanted to beat her up. We argued about it in front of MT Anderson.

13. “I guess you can sign it.” From a young lady who won my book and didn’t want it.

I don’t have to sign it for you.

These are just a fraction of the comments I have gotten. I’m not sure why people feel the need to help us along in these odd ways. And yes, some are funny, but others are painful. And it’s not always from children. Mostly the comments come from unthinking, unkind, educated adults. Sometimes the comments come my fellow writers.

Do they think because we have published a book, we no longer have feelings?

The truth is, most writers are MORE in tune with their feelings than the average bear. Just rewriting these things causes a bit of sting.

There are all kinds of ways to tell someone something about who they are or what they have written. I may not like your book, but you will never know.

Here’s something funny to end on.

I was doing a signing for THE CHOSEN ONE (you have to have read the book to get this).

A long line of librarians waited for me to sign their copies. It was so great, talking to all these men and women.

One came up, clutched the book to her chest and said, “I drive the book mobile as my job. I can’t wait to read this novel.”

I just smiled at her.

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Filed under Agents, CLW, Life, Publication