Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sunshine Award!

Wow, when I first started blogging only two months ago I felt lost in the sea of multi-legged super peeps who I was sure all had superpowers. I was but a newbie, standing still. But since then, I've spread my wings a tad and welcomed new doors. It's been amazing. 


And here's another reason why: The awesome Carolyn V. of the fantabulous Checkerboard Squares blog has given me an award. ME. 

Ah...she's sent me the Sunshine Award!! (And God knows we could use some of that up in the lobstah state at the moment. Dang, it's been raining *shaking my head* no, pouring for four dank days. Brighter side, Sher. Okay, it's not snow.


So here's the deal. I need to pick five amazing followers, write something fake about each, and link back to her blog. Here goes:

Marcy - She invited me to share in her favorite pastime: fly fishing. Hah! High-water, rubber pants are not attractive on me. Ugh...


Candyland - We were in a Rock Band challenge and you should have seen us jamming. I was BAM! on the drums while she hovered over the stage, fingers blazen out a few riffs on the geetar.


Rhiannon -- Don't ever ask her to play you in a game of tennis. Yikes. I'm still recovering. She played in her point shoes.


Jessie -- The most amazing pancake maker ever! She shared her 'secret receipe' with me when we hosted a benefit breakfast for the local basketball team. Hey, don't ask. Can't tell you. Been sworn to secrecy. 


Ann Marie -- Ann's a tad far away from me--a few countries removed, actually--but we've got this chat thing going. KIC2--keep it coming chat. Once you start on the chat screen, mustn't stop--no matter what!! Give it a try. (Psst...exhausting, and I have my kids do it for me. Hee, hee. Shh...now you're sworn to secrecy.) 


Okay, so there you have them. I really had to think, and I hope all can read with a smile and a grin. Pay It Back...I won't mind. Thanks to my followers as well. You all are amazing, and I feel so blessed that you've chosen to be a part of my journey. Thanks.


S~

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

GRAFFITI WALL: Marcy Hatch, a Writer's Story


Welcome, Marcy. And thank you for being the first to brave the Graffiti Wall. Let's start by telling the readers something quirky about yourself.

When I was younger my sister and I used to tell each other stories at bedtime. The game was this: come up with three titles and let the other person pick the story she wanted to hear, and tell the story. I used to make one title sound more interesting than the others because it was the one I had an idea for. Usually, this worked; my sister would pick the correct title and get a half-way decent off-the-cuff story made up by a 12 year old. But sometimes she'd pick the wrong title, the one I had no clue what it was about. Then I'd have to exercise my imagination to work, which made it grow.
  
So I guess I've always wanted to tell stories.


What a nice childhood memory, plus a great writing exercise. 
What made you start writing? 


Reading was what got me started. I remember reading horse stories in 6th grade and then deciding I could write one. In high school I had some fabulous English teachers who complimented me on my writing, gave me tips, and told me not to stop. But I didn't get serious about writing, ie, sending stuff out, until the last 10 years.  


 Any special way you approach your writing?


Coffee is good, definitely. Usually I re-read what I wrote the last time to get back into wherever I was. But I'm almost always thinking about what I'm writing, either at work or while I'm driving or walking with my dog.  


 What do you enjoy writing about most and why?


I enjoy writing something with a magical element because real life is just too dull, in my opinion. And not dull in the sense that nothing happens but dull in the sense that nothing magical and wonderful happens. But I also enjoy writing romance, which was what I actually started writing when I first got serious.


Any current projects? In the past?


I've written two fantasies (three if you count book one of a trilogy), and a paranormal historical romance that is currently making the rounds on Inkwell. Now, I am working on a story about a high school senior, Arlen, who happens to be a witch. In this world witches exist but keep quiet among themselves. The setting is where I used to live on Cape Cod and Arlen goes to my old High School. 


It's always nice to talk to a writer who's been writing as long as you. What has been your biggest lesson learned since you started?


I don't let rejections get to me. Sooner or later my writing is going to come to the attention of someone who is going to love it. I just have to be patient and keep writing, because that's how I'll get better. As my son says, 'practice makes pretty good - because there is no perfect.' 


Wow. I like that quote. Nice.
So, bacon or sausage? Just mixing it up. 


Bacon. I love a good BLT :) 


Social networking is huge, right now. What's your take?


Networking is so important. I started a blog last summer which I've been having a lot of fun with, I made contact with you through the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance blog--which I have recently volunteered to upkeep--and I've joined two writing sites, Inwell and YALITCHAT. It does takes up time I might spend writing but it also might help get me published which would give me more time to write.


This has been great, Marcy. One last question: any advice for the novice out there reading this and thinking ‘Man, that sounds like too much work’?


It doesn't feel like work to me. I love writing and everything to do with it. Yes, somedays I struggle to write a paragraph or two but my worst day writing is always better than my best day at my regular job, no offense intended to those I work with or the job itself. I write. It's what I do.


Marcy, thank you for sharing yourself with us. Want to see more of Marcy? Check out her blog and her profile forever here on the GRAFFITI WALL. 


(Interested in an interview? I'd love to have you. Email me: salarsen71@gmail.com.)

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Amazing Jest of a Grocery List

Yup, another Monday. "Welcome Monday," the class dully replies, as the teacher instructs them to open their books to page 154. Feeling like them? Need some livening up? Some fuel in the tank? I'd recommend eating breakfast and of course a gigantic cup of joe. Hasn't helped yet? I bet your minds are stalled in the past weekend just like those students'. Man, can I relate. But...Dah, dah, dah!! I have just the cure: A grocery list. For all you moms out there, I know doing groceries puffs. Trust me. Doing it to keep the bellies of 4 grumbling kids is exhausting, not to mention brutally expensive. But what can we do? Add some fun to our lists, that's what. 


The challenge: write a wacky grocery list to get our minds going. 

Buck Monday morning's trudge by bringing the feist of the weekend in. Think out of the box. The wackier, the funnier, the better. Good Luck. Can't wait to see what you come up with. 
(Now, where in the grocery aisle  do they keep caster oil and lug nuts?)  

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Elaine English Literary Agency Blog

The Elaine English Literary Agency Blog



What a great article. I recommend you read it. New, fresh, what's not been done before, new spin.... What exactly does that mean when an agent or editor says that? We hear it all the time, but no one ever really defines it. Click on the link. It will make you think.
(Even though I'm a dancer, rhyme is not my suit. Sorry.) ";-)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Word Dressings

So, I'm looking in the mirror this morning and this is what I see: mangled bedhead from going to bed with wet hair, pale and drawn eyes from going to bed too late, chipping nail polish from, well who cares, and a pilled sweater the label swore wouldn't. Can anyone relate? 


My faded jeans fit me to the hips which are covered by a green camisole pulled taunt over. Then, atop that, there's my vintage AC/DC tee shirt--'k, it's not vintage but close enough people; it's not my fault my husband's parents let him stalk his concert-worthy van with a ton of friends back then and traipse carelessly to a rock-n-roll gig to hobnob with the semiconscious and my parents wouldn't. Sorry, minor regression. Oh, and my feet are bare. What does my dressing say about me? 


Tired, overly-worked mom with dated clothes in dire need of a break, who's home taking care of yet another sick child. Grr....



Now I'm looking at my new first paragraph to my current work--which seems to have been a WIP longer than it takes a student driver to finally make that turn kid! and I'm positive will eventually put me in the RIP section of the newspaper. 

I'm sure your eyebrows have raised a few times and maybe you've even developed a sense of humorous pity for me--bring it on, I'm a mom--but I wonder if you've seen what I was doing? 

Stimulating your thoughts and picking your brain: What words to you choose to dress the opening of your manuscript, and just as important how do you choose them? 

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Guide to Literary Agents - 7 Things I've Learned So Far, by James Dashner

Guide to Literary Agents - 7 Things I've Learned So Far, by James Dashner

This is great regardless of my additions, but as my lips rarely stop moving I do have something to add. *Brow folding, eyes squinting, hoping you'll keep reading.*

I encourage you to click on and read his entire interview but I'm highlight just his main points in bold & italics. My gibberish is the less flashy lettering.

1. Not every agent is right for you.
Kind of like not every ice cream gives back like dark, chocolate rippled fudge. (Did I just give something away?)

2. Networking is key.
Yup, just like high school. Good thing I write YA. ";-)

3. Differentiate your characters.
I.E., that would be different from high school. Yeah, I know there where clusters of groupies--jocks, beauty queens, nerds, ruffians--but basically the community looked at us and saw pale youth, dull in wisdom and lacking experience. Work up your characters, peeps!!

4. Immerse your reader in the story with depth.
Drama, drama, drama...but subtlety. Don't overpower or in your face like that kid in high school who stole into your space every time he/she spoke to you. *Cringe*

5. Don't make your hero or villian two-dimensional.
You remember the kid in high school who was quiet which made him/her seem weird. We all knew something was bubbling inside that kid, but were too self-interested to explore. Explore.

6. Set goals and work to achieve them.
This one is no joke for me. I've already blogged several times on goal-building. Just do it. Think about those kids in high school who skipped the party to study or workout. They already were developing this skill back then. Where are they now? Give it some thought. James Dashner has hit this one on the head.

7. It's all about the story.
Isn't it always. What was better in high school than the latest gossip? The complex truth underlining that gossip.

Hope you enjoyed my addendums and I give full credit to James Dashner for his collective thoughts and sharing them with us.

Peace out, peeps!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

New Followers

A drizzling morning to you all! Yup, it's raining here, and my son's going for his driving test today. Yikes. I'll let you know how it goes. But that's later. Right now I have something more exciting to disclose: NEW FOLLOWERS!! Yay! I can't tell you how excited I am to have new followers: 5 to be exact. Welcome to you and to my other loyals. I hope you find my blog informative, interactive, and well a tad wacky like me. 
(I have four kids. Wacky is what keeps me sane.)


Comment, Comment, Comment!! Fill my graffiti wall with tons to discuss and share. Come on. You know you want to. And I have a surprise. I'm finally opening up my GRAFFITI WALL with writer interviews. But not your ordinary chitchat garble. And I'm looking for you. Yes, you heard me correctly. Unpublished writers and those on their way!! Get your name out there. Don't hesitate. I don't bite. Well...only people I like. Interested? Dare to tread the paranormal waters that I wade in? Your brave. I can feel it. Email me HERE for the questions I'll ask. I'll highlight your interview as a post and your name will forever be on my GRAFFITI WALL!
  


In light of that fabulous news, I'm posting a poem about writing...and baseball. Although I live and breath ice hockey, I am also a baseball chick at heart. I love the language this poet uses and wanted to share it with all of you. (Make no mistake. Poetry is not my strong point, but my ear can appreciate someone who can write it. Enjoy!)


Baseball and Writing













Fanaticism?No.Writing is exciting
and baseball is like writing.
You can never tell with either
how it will go
or what you will do;
generating excitement--
a fever in the victim--
pitcher, catcher, fielder, batter.
Victim in what category?
Owlman watching from the press box?
To whom does it apply?
Who is excited?Might it be I?

It's a pitcher's battle all the way--a duel--
a catcher's, as, with cruel
puma paw, Elston Howard lumbers lightly
back to plate.(His spring
de-winged a bat swing.)
They have that killer instinct;
yet Elston--whose catching
arm has hurt them all with the bat--
when questioned, says, unenviously,
"I'm very satisfied.We won."
Shorn of the batting crown, says, "We";
robbed by a technicality.

When three players on a side play three positions
and modify conditions,
the massive run need not be everything.
"Going, going . . . "Is
it?Roger Maris
has it, running fast.You will
never see a finer catch.Well . . .
"Mickey, leaping like the devil"--why
gild it, although deer sounds better--
snares what was speeding towards its treetop nest,
one-handing the souvenir-to-be
meant to be caught by you or me.

Assign Yogi Berra to Cape Canaveral;
he could handle any missile.
He is no feather."Strike! . . . Strike two!"
Fouled back.A blur.
It's gone.You would infer
that the bat had eyes.
He put the wood to that one.
Praised, Skowron says, "Thanks, Mel.
I think I helped a little bit."
All business, each, and modesty.
Blanchard, Richardson, Kubek, Boyer.
In that galaxy of nine, say which
won the pennant?Each.It was he.

Those two magnificent saves from the knee-throws
by Boyer, finesses in twos--
like Whitey's three kinds of pitch and pre-
diagnosis
with pick-off psychosis.
Pitching is a large subject.
Your arm, too true at first, can learn to
catch your corners--even trouble
Mickey Mantle.("Grazed a Yankee!
My baby pitcher, Montejo!"
With some pedagogy,
you'll be tough, premature prodigy.)

They crowd him and curve him and aim for the knees.Trying
indeed!The secret implying:
"I can stand here, bat held steady."
One may suit him;
none has hit him.
Imponderables smite him.
Muscle kinks, infections, spike wounds
require food, rest, respite from ruffians.(Drat it!
Celebrity costs privacy!)
Cow's milk, "tiger's milk," soy milk, carrot juice,
brewer's yeast (high-potency--
concentrates presage victory

sped by Luis Arroyo, Hector Lopez--
deadly in a pinch.And "Yes,
it's work; I want you to bear down,
but enjoy it
while you're doing it."
Mr. Houk and Mr. Sain,
if you have a rummage sale,
don't sell Roland Sheldon or Tom Tresh.
Studded with stars in belt and crown,
the Stadium is an adastrium.
O flashing Orion,
your stars are muscled like the lion.

Marianne Moore 

Monday, March 22, 2010

New Community For Writers - Inkwell | Literary Rambles

New Community For Writers - Inkwell | Literary Rambles
Augh!! The fabulous Casey McCormick has featured our new writers community on her blog. How cool is that???? Fantabulous, I say. Check it out. We'd love to have you. Friend us there, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

From Inkwell:
All new writers and artists (including illustrators, web comic creators and graphic artists) have to start somewhere, and we hope you'll begin your journey here. We want to give you the resources and support you need to be successful. This is also a community for established writers and artists, a place for them to promote their work and help others. We hope that they, too, will continue to learn and grow their skills.

Inkwell belongs to you and every other member. Its success depends on each of us participating, spreading the word and growing the site through engaging groups and interactive features. We hope that you find not only the resources you need but a caring community of writers and artists who are dedicated and passionate about their craft.

Crunching Words

Vocabulary is the stock of words used or known to a particular people or group of persons, according to Dictionary.com. As writers we know the importance of a broad vocabulary. How often do you test your range? Do you have goals to learn new words, or do you fly by the seat of your pants? 


Learning new words is a wonderful exercise, but we must keep in mind that they are to be used in the proper context and in the proper time. Just because we've become a rolling scroll of wordage doesn't mean we should use them all the time. 


In awe at how didactically my language flutters from my feckless lips or have you surmised I'm in need of some good 'ole fashion admonishing? I'm not going to bore you (or myself), with going into how lame that sentence is. The point being: we need to learn and re-learn words consistently and put them into the proper practice. 


Today, learn or re-learn three new words and find an appropriate place to use them. Could be a sentence, phrase, or constitute a paragraph. Also, try and use them verbally and picture the word in your head as you do. Finding a word and seeing it isn't enough. Commit yourself to using these three words today. Write them down a few times, using them in different ways in a sentence. Then read what you've written as the day goes on. Here's a great site to get you started: http://www.vintage-vocabulary.com/wordlist.html.


We must write them, speak, them, and see them in our heads for our vocabulary buttons to latch on to them permanently. Try and do this exercise on your own a few times a week. I have and it's amazing how quickly my vocabulary has grown. And not just my word bank, but my confidence in using them. Ironically, the more words I know and feel comfortable with, the less wordy I am. Go figure.
Lets love our words... 


Don't forget to come back and share what you've learn with others, and tell us if you have another approach to broadening your scope of words. Love to hear it. 

Sunday, March 21, 2010

YouTube - The Future of Publishing

YouTube
- The Future of Publishing

I was just visiting 'Writing It Out', Beth Revis' blog, and found her post so touching I had to share it. Some of you may already have viewed this, but take another gander at it. For those of you who haven't, listen to it all the way through. It's poetic and touches the heart of every writer.

Dot, dot, dot....endless writing.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Terms To Live By

Hello Friday!! Yet another. You seem to creep up faster and faster every week. But this Friday is special. Well, for me at least. Heading out, packing the family for yet another hockey weekend. Packing for six is a load and it should come with abbreviations and special terms. (Actually, it'd be a ton easier if someone else just did it for me: packing, thinking, & remembering. Or better yet, wash the gargantuan loads of laundry I'll have when we get back.) *Sigh, sigh.*


So here's a snippet of the terms that have been rattling inside my head all week long:
Shirts, jeans, PJ's, toothbrushes, toothpaste, socks/underwear, combs, brushes, makeup, hair gel, sweaters, bathing suits, keys, money...oh, you get the picture. Helps keep my head from rotating right off my shoulders. *Smile.*


In my travels surfing cyberspace I've crossed a few different lists. One in particular I feel is important is a list of terms every writer should now. Here's a wonderful link with 33 of those terms. You've got POV, MG, DL, and many more. Pretty cool!! 


Do you have any terms to add to the list? Share, share.... 


You can copy my packing list for future reference if needed. ";-)  

Thursday, March 18, 2010

writing it out: Book Deal Celebration!

writing it out: Book Deal Celebration!
What a wonderful way to help Beth celebrate her book deal! Enter and support. The writing community is amazing, yet again.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Story Openers

What really is a story opener--action, quiet, dialog, inner thoughts, or a combination? The one thing we all know is that it has to hook the reader. Why bother reading if it's not interesting, right? Let me tell you where I am right now. I have this story and both my main protags, like most, have tons of baggage in their backgrounds. I swear I've written twenty different beginnings to this story. Because I know the story so well, I'm having a hard time pinpointing what the reader would most like to be introduced to first. I have, however, found two great articles that have helped me in my profound ponderings. (Good gosh, profound...sorry, I'm thinking I'm someone else today.) Check one out Here & There.


So, anyone else ever struggle with what to tell the reader at the beginning and what to leave for backstory? Fess-up and share. How do you handle it?


(Come back soon. Next article: Prologue vs. 1st Chapter.)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The World According to Maggie: Ten Rules for Query Letters

The World According to Maggie: Ten Rules for Query Letters

Another member of YALitChat posted this reference on that site and I just had to share it with all of you. It's an insightful list, by wonderful author Maggie Stiefvater, of does and don'ts about the infamous query letter. I hope you enjoy it.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Morning Munchies

I thought we'd start today out with something quirky. I'm full of surprises, spoken dully as I sigh.


You've heard of the eight ball, fortune telling, foreseeing the future, right? So I started thinking about when I was a kid, and how I loved to makeup alternative futures for my stuffed animals, myself, and even some of my most beloved book characters--loved Alice, in Alice in Wonderland, although I still think she should have kicked the crap out of the Queen. Just sayin'.


Come up with a few poignant Magic 8 Ball suggestions. Should be funny.


Example: If you will I will. Hell no. Can't touch. You wish. Denied. You get it, anyway.   

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Elana Johnson, Author: Fantabulous Followers Giveaway

Elana Johnson, Author: Fantabulous Followers Giveaway

Another great giveaway from a great writer and an awesome blog!! Check it out. Enjoy all.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Day of Nothing

Have you ever had a day where you felt as though you'd accomplished nothing? Yeah, that would be me today. I've been from one edit to word cutting to flagging the kids out of the street and finally I resorted to doing the laundry. Blah...  But as I write this post--still avoiding the edit that is needling me worse than a pesky black fly (& man, we got us some black flies in Maine)--something occurred to me. I think it's some wisdom an aging nun at my Catholic School had told me. Must have stored it in some folder in that undefined filing cabinet at the back of my brain.


Of course her reference had been about God, but I'm going to take it and apply it here. When you feel like nothing is happening or everything is out of sync, that's when you're growing the most. Things are not always as they seem, as I'm sure we've all heard before. What a precious gem that all writers and mothers alike can take to heart. It helped me to remember. I hope it helps you, too.   

Guide to Literary Agents - ''Dear Lucky Agent'' Contest: Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance (For Both Teens and Adults)

Guide to Literary Agents - ''Dear Lucky Agent'' Contest: Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance (For Both Teens and Adults)

Another great contest by Chuck!!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Blog Huntress


It's official. I'm on the prowl.

Who's blogs will I choose to invest myself in today? Because in all actually that's what I'm doing. With one click of my finger I visit you, I leave you a comment, I introduce myself. Pretty neat system. You now know something about me, and I now know something about you. You expose me to ideas that maybe like mine or maybe brand new and to interesting peeps that otherwise I may never have met or had the pleasure of interacting with. The knowledge, and sometimes humor, is endless. It's really an education in real life studies, not to mention a kick in the pants at a real writing career.

I've met some incredible people thus far, and I'm ready to meet more. So where will my fingers surf today? Already found a few new blogs with interesting views. Do you have a view? A blog? Tell me about it and maybe I'll just pop over and check it out.

Bow. Clap, clap. Hiss, hiss.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

10 Ways to be Mom & Writer

Over on YALitChat we've been discussing the struggles of being mommy and writing the next hit ms that's too hot to stay on the bookshelves. (Sounds good, doesn't it?) The more I thought about it, the more I realized there are things I do everyday that may help someone else. Share and share alike, right? 


Here's my take on the multi-coat of motherhood and ink-stained hands of a writer. (Yeah, I know. There's not a ton of real ink these days, but work with me.)


1. Believe in yourself. I know that sounds simple, but if we don't who will? Stand on your front lawn and... No. Just kidding. That could get you arrested. But do say it to yourself everyday. 
2. Seek advice from reliable sources. We all know that in every aspect of life there are people with opinions about everything and then there are the real think-tanks. Find one of those. The real think-tank has experience and has most probably lived out the advice they are offering. When we first bring that baby home, every person who has a voice tells us what to do, what we are doing wrong, and what we should change. Just like when you had caller ID installed to avoid those peeps, install your own homing system for the writing advice you receive. Picking the weeds can be tough, but true advice is priceless.
3. Knowledge is power. Once you've compiled that reliable advice, begin to use it each day. Write it down. Read it out loud. I've plastered it in my office, by my nightstand, and on the bathroom wall. Granted, when the kids use the bathroom...well, I've had to make a few replacement copies there but who's counting?
4. Everyone has an opinion. I'd elaborate and begin that phrase as my husband says it, but that may get me arrested. Hah! Got to love his bluntness.  
5. Set Goals!!! I can't tell you how important this is. Set them. Write them out. Print them out and put them in your purse, your iPod, by your bed, bathroom, kitchen, and wherever. Look at them often. Start with small ones and work up to the bigger ones. I have from learning a new word every day to buying a new laptop to writing the next bestseller. As each goal is reached, mark it off. 
6. Reward yourself. This one is as important as setting the goals. When you reach a goal, no matter how small or large, go to dinner or play an unexpected game of basketball or hockey in the driveway with the kids. Be silly and relax.
7. Find quotes that inspire you. Just like that advice you got from those think-tanks (or fellow mom's who've been where you are), these can be powerful pick-me-ups. 
8. Network with like-minded people. Today there are amazing ways to do that--YALitChat & Teen Fire being two, for those YA writers out there. Just do it. Think of them as the play dates you set up for your little ones. The moms usually get as much out of those times as the kiddos.
9. Just like motherhood, trust your instincts. Now I'm not saying if the market has fully boycotted Leprechauns to go ahead and write a tome about them. But with whatever you're working on, if a fork in the road presents itself trust your gut.
10. Finally, smile every day. As women, we are so blessed to be living in today's era. We wear many hats and much is expected of us. But within that chaos of wiping runny noses and washing our hands forty times so we can touch the laptop keys again there is knowledge, advice, and growth, not to mention a boatload of material. :)

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