Sunday, March 21, 2010

Finding Joy in Other's Success

I'm still on my blogging vacation. It's been fabulous. Last week was my most productive week in a year. So I'm not back for real yet, but I wanted to pop in to share something I've been thinking about.

Last week, my good friend Caroline Starr Rose sold her debut MG novel. This, coupled with Beth Revis's wonderful news, got me thinking about how great it is to be able to be happy for other's successes.

In high school I sang in a really good choir. I love to sing and in many ways it was a wonderful experience, but it was also kind of awful. The kids were cutthroat. Auditions for solos were tough, feelings were always hurt, and mean-girl (and boy) backbiting was constant. Everyone wanted to be the best and when someone got the solo, everyone else hated that person.

It wasn't a very nurturing environment.

The writing community hasn't been like this at all--at least for me. Every time a writer friend has achieved a goal, I've been genuinely thrilled for them. I don't know why this is exactly. I get jealous of people all the time--mostly people who have perfect hair and makeup everyday, have immaculate houses, and always have well behaved children--I hate people like that. But I haven't had a moment of real jealousy over a writer friend's triumph.

Maybe it's because I appreciate the work that goes into writing a novel. It's hard. When a person sells a book, I know they've probably worked for years to make this dream come true.

Caroline is one of these people. She's worked hard. Her work is brilliant, and she totally deserves this victory. When she emailed me Friday to tell me her book sold I jumped and squeed and felt true joy in her success.

How about you? Is it easier to feel happy for other writers' successes than it is to feel happy for your neighbor who got a promotion and bought a new car? Does knowing what's gone into getting a book deal make it easier to be delighted when someone else reaches that milestone?

Head on over to Caroline's blog to share congratulations!

I'll probably still be out on blog vacation for a few more weeks, but I am going to try to get around to a few of your blogs and see what's happening with you.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Something's Gotta Give

As much as I hate it, that something needs to be blogging. This next month is going to be busy, and I need to cut out as many distractions as possible.

I'll still might read a few blogs, I'll probably post once or twice, but for the most part I'm going to be absent from the blogging world for the next four or five weeks.

I'll miss everyone! May you all get agents and book deals while I'm away.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Keep Moving Forward

Have you seen the Disney movie Meet the Robinson's? It's funny, you should see it. It's about a kid inventor whose inventions don't always work. He learns that if he can "keep moving forward," keep working hard trying to get things right, eventually things his creations will work and change the world.

I've made very little progress on my WIP this last month. I have a hundred excuses for why I haven't done more, and some of them are really good. I have to keep reminding myself that I am making progress, I am moving forward, and eventually this book is going to get done.

And that is kind of the beauty of writing without being published. I have time. It's not a race. I really want to finish my manuscript, but I also want to be a good mom. Last month doing both of those things wasn't possible. Hopefully it will be they will be this month. But I am happy that I made some progress, even though it was small.

Are you moving forward with your work? Do you ever have times when you don't make as much progress as you'd like?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Why We Should Diversify

Some of you may know that my first completed manuscript was YA fantasy. It was also REALLY bad.

Just a few days after I "finished" it, I got the idea for a middle grade story. I'd never written middle grade. I hadn't read much middle grade since I was in elementary school and junior high. I had no idea what my middle grade voice should sound like. But I knew I couldn't query my first novel (because it sucked) and this new idea felt exciting and fresh, so I changed genres and transitioned from a world filled of anxsty teens and fairies into a world of happy-go-lucky real world sixth graders.

It was scary at first. I had no idea what I was doing. But as I wrote, I learned. And as I rewrote, I learned more. The voice came easier than it had with my attempt at YA. In the end I had a manuscript I felt confident enough about to start querying agents.

I've been thinking a lot about genre changing recently. I'm not planning a change anytime soon, MG is still a happy place for me, but it seems like a lot of blog friends have been reinventing their writing and several of the agents and editors at SCBWI talked about how it can be beneficial to diversify what we write.

So I wanted to share with you three good reasons to write something different.

1. A different genre may be more salable.

It seems like a lot of people decide to write because they fall in love with a super popular book and they think, "maybe I could do that." I think this is a great reason to start writing--a love of reading spills over into a love of writing. But if you decide to write YA paranormal because you loved TWILIGHT, you are going to have a lot of competition if you decide to pursue publication.

People don't talk about it much, but there are areas of publishing that are super saturated. Getting a book published in one of those genres may be harder than a less popular one. I don't know what the least competitive markets are (I bet agents and editors may have a clue though), but I do know that way fewer people write MG than YA.

That's something to think about.

2. You may be better at writing something else.

I started writing YA fantasy because it was one of my favorite genres to read. Unfortunately, loving to read something doesn't always translate to being good at writing it. I can tell you without a doubt that I am a better MG writer than fantasy writer, but I never would have discovered that if I hadn't tried to write MG.

3. Changing genres keeps things interesting.

Do you ever feel bogged down with your writing? Does it ever feel boring? Maybe a new genre is just what you need. Writing romance is WAY different than writing picture books, and writing middle grade is a huge departure from writing grown up thrillers, (have you seen the news about John Grisham's latest project?) Switching genres may give your writing new energy and make it exciting again.

So there you have it. There's a lot out there about the need to brand yourself, to stick to your genre and build your reputation on it, but maybe there's some good to be said for occasionally reinventing your writing.

So what do you think? Would you ever consider leaving your genre behind and trying something totally new?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Me, as a Liar

I have a few blog awards to pass on and one of them involves creative lying, which is something I do well.

I think I'm going to have to save a few of these for next week, just so I don't have a crazy long post, but I'll do 3 today.

First up: The Circle Of Friends Award.
This was given to me by a lovely new friend and new blogger Nicole Dulcleroir.

I was thinking about all my blog friends and there are SO MANY. I always talk about my critique group girls, who are my ultimate circle of friends, but I've given them awards already so I thought I'd give this one to a new little circle of friends, my agent buddies Sarah Skilton and Miranda Kenneally. They are both represented by Sara Megibow and they are both super cool girls, so check them out. Miranda is more of a Tweeter than a blogger so you should go see her on Twitter @MirandaKeneally.

Next: The Sunshine Award
BJ Anderson gave me this little beauty. BJ has been a bloggy friend for a long time and she's a great writer to get to know.

I'm going to pass this along to a few new friends: Mariah Irvin, because she is hilarious and Derek Whisman, because he's new to blogging and he's got great taste in books.



And last: The "Creative Writer" Award
This was given to me by the beautiful and talented Erica at Laugh Write Play and sassy sarcastic Matt at Pensive Sarcasm.

Both are encouraging me to tell LIES, and I intend to take them up on their offer. But I'm going to switch up the rules and tell 6 truths and 1 lie instead of the other way around. Here they are:

1. I once threw up all over a fireman
2. I only dated my husband for 4 months before we got married
3. I've never seen an episode of LOST
4. I have several exciting things happening now that I can't share with you yet
5. I didn't like reading when I was kid and I often fudged book reports by reading only the back cover and the last page.
6. The best class I ever took in college was called "Walt Disney's Influence on American Culture." We mostly watched cartoons.
7. I love lima beans and I've never understood why they get such a bad rap.

I'd like to pass this one on to two good honest people who might enjoy a little lying: DL Hammons at Cruising Altitude and Jamie Debree at The Variety Pages.

And there you have it. I'll try to catch up on the rest next Friday. Thank you everyone! And feel free to try to guess the lie. I might tell you what it is... someday.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

My Workspace

Well, I'm still a little sick and this has been kind of a crazy day, so I thought I'd jump on the bandwagon and post pictures of my workspace. I didn't even clean it up before I took these pictures, so you can see it in all it's messy glory.

My workspace is located in a little extra bedroom, just down the hall from the room where my kids play. The walls are light green, the air circulation is good, and there's a window with a pretty decent view of the best yard in the neighborhood (it belongs to the house across the street).

This is where the magic happens:

Fancy right? I especially like the large winged horse and the fact that more than half of the screen is taken up with Dora the Explorer on Netflix. When my son is awake, I usually have to share the screen, which is why I try not to write while he's awake.

I know you are coveting my awesome flower lamp, my puppy dog mousepad, and my ghetto high school pottery too. There's nothing like looking at crappy pottery to get those creative juices flowing.

It's not exactly glamorous, or clean, but it's where I write.

Where do you write?