Sunday, January 31, 2010

Looking for a change of pace from all the swoony romantic blogfests? This one's for you: the fight scene blogfest takes place tomorrow, Feb. 1! Mireyah at Crimson Ink is our fabulous host. Swing on by her blog to sign up and find the links to the other participants' offerings.

And I too will be hosting a blogfest, ladies and gents! You heard it here first. And this one's all fun!

The Whoops! Blogfest
22 February 2010

Let the stumbling, stammering hilarity begin!

It's your chance to trot out a favorite embarrassing moment, gaffe or hilarious blunder from your WIP. Or write something all new. Or post a favorite YouTube video or film clip.

I'll be posting a linky widget later this week.
Sunday, January 31, 2010 Laurel Garver
Looking for a change of pace from all the swoony romantic blogfests? This one's for you: the fight scene blogfest takes place tomorrow, Feb. 1! Mireyah at Crimson Ink is our fabulous host. Swing on by her blog to sign up and find the links to the other participants' offerings.

And I too will be hosting a blogfest, ladies and gents! You heard it here first. And this one's all fun!

The Whoops! Blogfest
22 February 2010

Let the stumbling, stammering hilarity begin!

It's your chance to trot out a favorite embarrassing moment, gaffe or hilarious blunder from your WIP. Or write something all new. Or post a favorite YouTube video or film clip.

I'll be posting a linky widget later this week.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Thanks to Karen at Novels During Naptime, winner of my "name that allusion" contest, for giving me this lovely new award.

Rules: Answer the following questions with single word answers then pass this along to 5 other bloggers.

Your Cell Phone? Cheap
Your Hair? Average
Your Mother? Adventurous
Your Father? Deceased
Your Favorite Food? Popcorn
Your Dream Last Night? Stairways
Your Favorite Drink? Tea
Your Dream/Goal? Novelist
What Room Are You In? Office
Your Hobby? Indiefilm
Your Fear? Ridicule
Where Do You See Yourself In Six Years? Published
Where Were You Last Night? Fellowship
Something That You Aren't? Trendy
Muffins? Cranberry
Wish List Item? Horse
Where Did You Grow Up? Rural
Last Thing You Did? Photocopy
What Are You Wearing? Wool
Your TV? Adequate
Your Pets? Cuddly
Friends? Lifeline
Your Life? Growing
Your Mood? Mischievous
Missing Someone? Nieces
Vehicle? Vibe!
Something You Aren't Wearing? Tattoo
Your Favorite Store? Kohls
Your Favorite Color? Blue
When Was The Last Time You Laughed? Breakfast
Last Time You Cried? Writing
Your Best Friend? Hubby
One Place You Go To Over And Over Again? Blogosphere
Facebook? Burnout
Favorite Place To Eat? LemonGrassThai

I hereby bequeath this one to the following fun five:
Simon at Constant Revision (lover of the double dog dare)
Rhonda at Snarktastic Ramblings (sassy cyber sister)
Mary at Play off the Page (soul seacher)
Kelly at Kelly's Compositions (youth ministry maven)
Yat-Yee at Yat Yee Chong (girl percussionist club member)
Friday, January 29, 2010 Laurel Garver
Thanks to Karen at Novels During Naptime, winner of my "name that allusion" contest, for giving me this lovely new award.

Rules: Answer the following questions with single word answers then pass this along to 5 other bloggers.

Your Cell Phone? Cheap
Your Hair? Average
Your Mother? Adventurous
Your Father? Deceased
Your Favorite Food? Popcorn
Your Dream Last Night? Stairways
Your Favorite Drink? Tea
Your Dream/Goal? Novelist
What Room Are You In? Office
Your Hobby? Indiefilm
Your Fear? Ridicule
Where Do You See Yourself In Six Years? Published
Where Were You Last Night? Fellowship
Something That You Aren't? Trendy
Muffins? Cranberry
Wish List Item? Horse
Where Did You Grow Up? Rural
Last Thing You Did? Photocopy
What Are You Wearing? Wool
Your TV? Adequate
Your Pets? Cuddly
Friends? Lifeline
Your Life? Growing
Your Mood? Mischievous
Missing Someone? Nieces
Vehicle? Vibe!
Something You Aren't Wearing? Tattoo
Your Favorite Store? Kohls
Your Favorite Color? Blue
When Was The Last Time You Laughed? Breakfast
Last Time You Cried? Writing
Your Best Friend? Hubby
One Place You Go To Over And Over Again? Blogosphere
Facebook? Burnout
Favorite Place To Eat? LemonGrassThai

I hereby bequeath this one to the following fun five:
Simon at Constant Revision (lover of the double dog dare)
Rhonda at Snarktastic Ramblings (sassy cyber sister)
Mary at Play off the Page (soul seacher)
Kelly at Kelly's Compositions (youth ministry maven)
Yat-Yee at Yat Yee Chong (girl percussionist club member)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

What’s the deal with adults in books for teens? Seriously? Is there some rule I don’t know about that says the grownups need to disappear or your teen readers will? If there is, I’d like to know how it came about, when and why.

The more YA I read with absent, distracted or downright neglectful parents, the more this bothers me. It’s not realistic, especially for the Gen-Y millennials. If anything, these kids are overparented. The term “helicopter parent” came into vogue while today’s college students and their younger teen sibs were growing up. Why isn’t fiction reflecting this reality?

I wonder how much the absent parents thing is us Gen-X and Boomer writers assuming that adolescence hasn’t changed that much from when we were kids. Because it has in some pretty surprising ways. We were expected to learn to adapt to adult ways of doing things. The parents and their marriage were the center of the family. That’s not the case with the parents of today’s teens. Whether it’s because of the skyrocketing divorce rate, or the culture of achievement or the increasing influence of “child-rearing experts,” parents’ lives revolved around their kids, especially in the 1990s. (The trend is swinging away from this, I think, based on the advice I hear child-rearing experts spouting now: nix the family bed, put a lock on your bedroom door, have a regular date night, vacation sans kids.)

The teens I know have tighter relationships with their parents than I had with mine. They respect and even like the adults in their world who treat them fairly and care about them. It bothers them deeply when adults aren’t fair or don’t care. They don’t just shrug it off as normal.

On the college campus where I work, I often see an extreme result of overparenting: enmeshment and immaturity. These 18-23 year olds call mom the moment they leave class. They can’t make decisions or do scary adult things like job hunt without a lot of hand-holding. They expect to be rescued when they screw up. Cell phones have added to this culture of learned helplessness.

Are we removing authority figures from our stories thinking this will open the way for the most high-stakes, zowie-wow plots kids will love? But is this merely laziness? Have we assumed that the only way to show kids learning to grasp their own competence is to remove all other sources of competence from the picture?

What does adult-less fiction do for overparented millennials? I’m not sure if they think it sounds cool or find it deeply terrifying. I suspect the latter. The process of individuation is going to look different for them than it did for a Gen-Xer like me. What they could probably use is more fictional pictures of cross-generational relationships that are balanced—not one extreme (the orphanhood and neglect they see in books) or the other (smothering enmeshment they experience in life).

J.K. Rowling is one of the few YA authors I’ve read recently who incorporates adults well in her stories. I think the balance of cross-generational relationships is an aspect that resonated with Gen-Y and made the Harry Potter series such a phenomenal bestseller. Sure, Harry is an orphan, but he craves parenting. Ron is a bit of a doofus, but his parents love him so fiercely, he never falls into despair about it. Harry’s maturation process is one of learning to trust the caring adults around him, to lean into their strength, to use their wisdom and make it his own, to follow their example and to innovate, building on their knowledge. Rowling is never preachy about it, but it’s clear that she understands kids have to be equipped to face real, adult challenges. This equipping process is a prime task of adolescence.


Tell me what you think of portrayals of adults in YA. Who do you think does it well, or not, and why? What’s your take on the “adult-less world 'rule'”?
Thursday, January 28, 2010 Laurel Garver
What’s the deal with adults in books for teens? Seriously? Is there some rule I don’t know about that says the grownups need to disappear or your teen readers will? If there is, I’d like to know how it came about, when and why.

The more YA I read with absent, distracted or downright neglectful parents, the more this bothers me. It’s not realistic, especially for the Gen-Y millennials. If anything, these kids are overparented. The term “helicopter parent” came into vogue while today’s college students and their younger teen sibs were growing up. Why isn’t fiction reflecting this reality?

I wonder how much the absent parents thing is us Gen-X and Boomer writers assuming that adolescence hasn’t changed that much from when we were kids. Because it has in some pretty surprising ways. We were expected to learn to adapt to adult ways of doing things. The parents and their marriage were the center of the family. That’s not the case with the parents of today’s teens. Whether it’s because of the skyrocketing divorce rate, or the culture of achievement or the increasing influence of “child-rearing experts,” parents’ lives revolved around their kids, especially in the 1990s. (The trend is swinging away from this, I think, based on the advice I hear child-rearing experts spouting now: nix the family bed, put a lock on your bedroom door, have a regular date night, vacation sans kids.)

The teens I know have tighter relationships with their parents than I had with mine. They respect and even like the adults in their world who treat them fairly and care about them. It bothers them deeply when adults aren’t fair or don’t care. They don’t just shrug it off as normal.

On the college campus where I work, I often see an extreme result of overparenting: enmeshment and immaturity. These 18-23 year olds call mom the moment they leave class. They can’t make decisions or do scary adult things like job hunt without a lot of hand-holding. They expect to be rescued when they screw up. Cell phones have added to this culture of learned helplessness.

Are we removing authority figures from our stories thinking this will open the way for the most high-stakes, zowie-wow plots kids will love? But is this merely laziness? Have we assumed that the only way to show kids learning to grasp their own competence is to remove all other sources of competence from the picture?

What does adult-less fiction do for overparented millennials? I’m not sure if they think it sounds cool or find it deeply terrifying. I suspect the latter. The process of individuation is going to look different for them than it did for a Gen-Xer like me. What they could probably use is more fictional pictures of cross-generational relationships that are balanced—not one extreme (the orphanhood and neglect they see in books) or the other (smothering enmeshment they experience in life).

J.K. Rowling is one of the few YA authors I’ve read recently who incorporates adults well in her stories. I think the balance of cross-generational relationships is an aspect that resonated with Gen-Y and made the Harry Potter series such a phenomenal bestseller. Sure, Harry is an orphan, but he craves parenting. Ron is a bit of a doofus, but his parents love him so fiercely, he never falls into despair about it. Harry’s maturation process is one of learning to trust the caring adults around him, to lean into their strength, to use their wisdom and make it his own, to follow their example and to innovate, building on their knowledge. Rowling is never preachy about it, but it’s clear that she understands kids have to be equipped to face real, adult challenges. This equipping process is a prime task of adolescence.


Tell me what you think of portrayals of adults in YA. Who do you think does it well, or not, and why? What’s your take on the “adult-less world 'rule'”?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

In Monday's post, I mentioned that I'd spent the week working through crits with delta readers. Yeah, I probably did coin the term. I've begun to wonder if I'm something of a feedback junkie, roping in as many readers as I have.

I thought it might be helpful for me to describe my unusual process with WIP-1, mistakes I've made along the way, and valuable lessons I've learned.

Throughout drafting WIP-1, I fed drafts to my ALPHA readers. These are folks who are happy to see anything you put in front of them and who encourage you no matter what. They might make suggestions or frown at something you didn't get quite right, but your alphas are mostly cheerleaders, not critiquers. My main alphas are my husband and a wonderful teenager from my church who begs to read every single draft.

If you write for teens and don't have your own personal fangirl, by all means go find one NOW. I would have given up long, long ago if I didn't have Connor (yes, a girl named in honor of Flannery O'Connor. Cool, right?) telling me again and again that yes, real live teenagers will like what I write. She adores my characters as much as I do, guffaws at my humor, swoons over my romantic subplots, understands my religious themes and remembers all my best lines and quotes them to me. Seriously, does it get any better than that?

When I'd completed and cleaned up my first draft, I went trawling for BETA readers to look at the whole manuscript with a critical eye. I looked for a wide range of ages, from teens to empty-nesters, figuring each would identify with a different generation and make sure the kids, parents and grandparents were all believable. I had a voracious reader in her 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s, as well as several bright, urban teenagers. Most were church acquaintances, including a 20-something artist with a British dad and American mom, like my protagonist. A few were close friends who were usually willing to be brutally honest. What I didn't have in the mix were writers, aside from one who wasn't able to find the time to crit at that point.

I gave my betas each a nice ring binder with a double-sided copy of the manuscript and a two page sheet of questions (which I will share in another post). It felt like a huge investment at the time, and I could have shopped around for better photocopying prices. But compared to how ridiculously expensive conferences are, it was pretty reasonable to shell out $125 for the amount of feedback I got.

My betas did, indeed, give valuable feedback. They pinpointed places where they "weren't buying it," where the story dragged, where the characters motivations weren't clear. The 60-something had the absolutely best advice ever, so do seek out the help of mature mentor-types in your life. They're wise and experienced about human behavior and relationships.

Unfortunately, none of my betas read like a writer, with a writer's sensibility for suggesting constructive changes, especially with plot and pacing problems. In other words, they gave me ideas of what wasn't working, but not how to fix it. Thus, I spend a long, long time flailing around trying to fix things without a clear road map.

Had I been in a critique group at the time, I would have harnessed them AND my network of thoughtful readers of all ages. That's the plan for WIP-2.

Enter the GAMMA readers: Philly Literati, an exceptionally eclectic critique group--male and female, covering diverse genres including literary, fantasy, magical realism, YA, memoir and nonfiction features.

I initially took my partial to the gammas for a reality check after test marketing to about a dozen agents. Was it them or was it me? My gammas agreed it was me. The story started in the wrong place. I wasn't giving adequate space to the most compelling parts of the story, but getting bogged down in unnecessary detail. With their help, I've begun doing the work I should have after a beta critique. Live and learn, right?

So, how did I end up DELTA readers? I got invited to a second critique group, Milestones Children's Critique Circle, that does only children's literature. They asked to see what I was working on, so I figured it might be a good idea to have insights from folks who know the industry. I gave them the first three chapters, post-gamma-critique revised. And guess what? They found more deep changes for me to make.

Now what I have is something of a mess. To keep up active participation with my gammas in Philly Literati, I've been feeding them a chapter at a time of revisions. I've only finished up to chapter 6. My MC3 deltas are chomping at the bit for another chunk of chapters to crit in late February. I'm not sure how long I'll be able to keep the one group read ahead of the other, especially since the middle of the book needs to be rewritten, not just tweaked. I'm starting to hyperventilate just thinking about it.

What bothers me most is the fact that to get the best crit of a novel, your reader needs the whole manuscript. Otherwise, it can be hard to see if the story arc is actually cohesive. Carefully planted clues crucial to the climax will look like stupid diversions when chapters are read in isolation.

My cure? You guessed it. I've planned to seek another set of crits: EPSILON readers to look at the whole revised manuscript and give it a final dusting down. For this group, I hope to pull in a few betas, a few gammas, a few deltas and some entirely fresh eyes that won't be checking to make sure I actually followed their earlier suggestions.

So what have I learned?

1. Have a fangirl to squee and obsess with.
2. Get writers on your team early.
3. Seek a wide variety of readers.
4. Seeking feedback as you go can be encouraging and keep you going, even if you have to take critiques of partials with a grain of salt.
5. Don't drib-drab chapters at different paces--it's stressful and confusing.
6. Make sure your first and last sets of crits happen on the entire manuscript.
7. No method is perfect. You have to be as forgiving of yourself as learner as you would of your child learning a new musical instrument. Practice makes perfect.

Do you have any insights about best practices for seeking feedback on your work? Please share!
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 Laurel Garver
In Monday's post, I mentioned that I'd spent the week working through crits with delta readers. Yeah, I probably did coin the term. I've begun to wonder if I'm something of a feedback junkie, roping in as many readers as I have.

I thought it might be helpful for me to describe my unusual process with WIP-1, mistakes I've made along the way, and valuable lessons I've learned.

Throughout drafting WIP-1, I fed drafts to my ALPHA readers. These are folks who are happy to see anything you put in front of them and who encourage you no matter what. They might make suggestions or frown at something you didn't get quite right, but your alphas are mostly cheerleaders, not critiquers. My main alphas are my husband and a wonderful teenager from my church who begs to read every single draft.

If you write for teens and don't have your own personal fangirl, by all means go find one NOW. I would have given up long, long ago if I didn't have Connor (yes, a girl named in honor of Flannery O'Connor. Cool, right?) telling me again and again that yes, real live teenagers will like what I write. She adores my characters as much as I do, guffaws at my humor, swoons over my romantic subplots, understands my religious themes and remembers all my best lines and quotes them to me. Seriously, does it get any better than that?

When I'd completed and cleaned up my first draft, I went trawling for BETA readers to look at the whole manuscript with a critical eye. I looked for a wide range of ages, from teens to empty-nesters, figuring each would identify with a different generation and make sure the kids, parents and grandparents were all believable. I had a voracious reader in her 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s, as well as several bright, urban teenagers. Most were church acquaintances, including a 20-something artist with a British dad and American mom, like my protagonist. A few were close friends who were usually willing to be brutally honest. What I didn't have in the mix were writers, aside from one who wasn't able to find the time to crit at that point.

I gave my betas each a nice ring binder with a double-sided copy of the manuscript and a two page sheet of questions (which I will share in another post). It felt like a huge investment at the time, and I could have shopped around for better photocopying prices. But compared to how ridiculously expensive conferences are, it was pretty reasonable to shell out $125 for the amount of feedback I got.

My betas did, indeed, give valuable feedback. They pinpointed places where they "weren't buying it," where the story dragged, where the characters motivations weren't clear. The 60-something had the absolutely best advice ever, so do seek out the help of mature mentor-types in your life. They're wise and experienced about human behavior and relationships.

Unfortunately, none of my betas read like a writer, with a writer's sensibility for suggesting constructive changes, especially with plot and pacing problems. In other words, they gave me ideas of what wasn't working, but not how to fix it. Thus, I spend a long, long time flailing around trying to fix things without a clear road map.

Had I been in a critique group at the time, I would have harnessed them AND my network of thoughtful readers of all ages. That's the plan for WIP-2.

Enter the GAMMA readers: Philly Literati, an exceptionally eclectic critique group--male and female, covering diverse genres including literary, fantasy, magical realism, YA, memoir and nonfiction features.

I initially took my partial to the gammas for a reality check after test marketing to about a dozen agents. Was it them or was it me? My gammas agreed it was me. The story started in the wrong place. I wasn't giving adequate space to the most compelling parts of the story, but getting bogged down in unnecessary detail. With their help, I've begun doing the work I should have after a beta critique. Live and learn, right?

So, how did I end up DELTA readers? I got invited to a second critique group, Milestones Children's Critique Circle, that does only children's literature. They asked to see what I was working on, so I figured it might be a good idea to have insights from folks who know the industry. I gave them the first three chapters, post-gamma-critique revised. And guess what? They found more deep changes for me to make.

Now what I have is something of a mess. To keep up active participation with my gammas in Philly Literati, I've been feeding them a chapter at a time of revisions. I've only finished up to chapter 6. My MC3 deltas are chomping at the bit for another chunk of chapters to crit in late February. I'm not sure how long I'll be able to keep the one group read ahead of the other, especially since the middle of the book needs to be rewritten, not just tweaked. I'm starting to hyperventilate just thinking about it.

What bothers me most is the fact that to get the best crit of a novel, your reader needs the whole manuscript. Otherwise, it can be hard to see if the story arc is actually cohesive. Carefully planted clues crucial to the climax will look like stupid diversions when chapters are read in isolation.

My cure? You guessed it. I've planned to seek another set of crits: EPSILON readers to look at the whole revised manuscript and give it a final dusting down. For this group, I hope to pull in a few betas, a few gammas, a few deltas and some entirely fresh eyes that won't be checking to make sure I actually followed their earlier suggestions.

So what have I learned?

1. Have a fangirl to squee and obsess with.
2. Get writers on your team early.
3. Seek a wide variety of readers.
4. Seeking feedback as you go can be encouraging and keep you going, even if you have to take critiques of partials with a grain of salt.
5. Don't drib-drab chapters at different paces--it's stressful and confusing.
6. Make sure your first and last sets of crits happen on the entire manuscript.
7. No method is perfect. You have to be as forgiving of yourself as learner as you would of your child learning a new musical instrument. Practice makes perfect.

Do you have any insights about best practices for seeking feedback on your work? Please share!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

"Our strength grows out of our weaknesses"
--Ralph Waldo Emerson

During unplug week, I at last got back into digging deep into the revision process, armed with a new set of crits from a group of...I guess I'll call them delta readers (as in the fourth group to take on revisions with me).

FOUR sets of crits? Is that completely insane? Not to my mind. In fact, I'll be looking for team epsilon by midyear--a group to look at the manuscript in toto and give it a final dusting down. Later this week, I'll describe the many-layered critique process my WIP-1 has gone through.

I value many sets of crits because I am very much aware of my weaknesses. I get far too inside of my own work and have a lot of trouble stepping back and seeing big-picture issues. I'm also what Roni at Fiction Groupie calls a "character-driven pantser." I craft emotionally complex characters and turn them loose. I have to write a lot to get anything usable, because composing the first and second draft is a process of discovery. My plots don't initially hold together at all.

I tried early on to spend a few weeks planning and outlining. It was an abysmal failure. I have two boxes full of scribbled note cards tracking all sorts of really, really stupid plot ideas. I realized that this method would never enable me to create my best work. It felt too much like creativity under pressure, and frankly, I fall apart and become idiotic under pressure. I've always been good at compensating for this weakness by working hard and steady to finish projects well before they're due in case of unforeseen disasters.

I'm learning to accept the fact that I'm an inefficient writer, and a slow, deep thinker. I'll never be the gal who churns out two books a year. That's okay. My willingness to spend years flailing around in the psychological muck with my characters is going to result in gripping literature. I can feel it in my bones. And that's what keeps me going.

What are some weaknesses you struggle with? Do you accept them, rely on work-arounds to compensate for them, or strive hard to overcome them? How does the Emerson quote resonate with your experience?
Saturday, January 23, 2010 Laurel Garver
"Our strength grows out of our weaknesses"
--Ralph Waldo Emerson

During unplug week, I at last got back into digging deep into the revision process, armed with a new set of crits from a group of...I guess I'll call them delta readers (as in the fourth group to take on revisions with me).

FOUR sets of crits? Is that completely insane? Not to my mind. In fact, I'll be looking for team epsilon by midyear--a group to look at the manuscript in toto and give it a final dusting down. Later this week, I'll describe the many-layered critique process my WIP-1 has gone through.

I value many sets of crits because I am very much aware of my weaknesses. I get far too inside of my own work and have a lot of trouble stepping back and seeing big-picture issues. I'm also what Roni at Fiction Groupie calls a "character-driven pantser." I craft emotionally complex characters and turn them loose. I have to write a lot to get anything usable, because composing the first and second draft is a process of discovery. My plots don't initially hold together at all.

I tried early on to spend a few weeks planning and outlining. It was an abysmal failure. I have two boxes full of scribbled note cards tracking all sorts of really, really stupid plot ideas. I realized that this method would never enable me to create my best work. It felt too much like creativity under pressure, and frankly, I fall apart and become idiotic under pressure. I've always been good at compensating for this weakness by working hard and steady to finish projects well before they're due in case of unforeseen disasters.

I'm learning to accept the fact that I'm an inefficient writer, and a slow, deep thinker. I'll never be the gal who churns out two books a year. That's okay. My willingness to spend years flailing around in the psychological muck with my characters is going to result in gripping literature. I can feel it in my bones. And that's what keeps me going.

What are some weaknesses you struggle with? Do you accept them, rely on work-arounds to compensate for them, or strive hard to overcome them? How does the Emerson quote resonate with your experience?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A number of us writer bloggers are participating in "unplug week" and taking a break from some of our social networking activities. For me, it has arrived at a perfect time. My writing routine has been completely derailed by a number of things, and I think a short vacation from the blogosphere will be just the thing to jump start it.

Have a great week, all! See you after the 23rd.
Sunday, January 17, 2010 Laurel Garver
A number of us writer bloggers are participating in "unplug week" and taking a break from some of our social networking activities. For me, it has arrived at a perfect time. My writing routine has been completely derailed by a number of things, and I think a short vacation from the blogosphere will be just the thing to jump start it.

Have a great week, all! See you after the 23rd.

Friday, January 15, 2010

I think I've got this work deadline licked, and I'm slowly emerging from a scholarly mumbo-jumbo haze. Wow, has it ever colored my most recent blog posts. You're all probably wondering how I could write anything a teenager would want to read, based on the shift in voice here.

All I can say is be careful what you read while you're writing. You can only read so much on Deleuze and his ilk without it seriously warping your mind. But that's what I get paid for: tackling the crazy run-ons with three sets of em dashes, colons and quotes within quotes. I can spot MLA style transgressions at 50 paces. And I write really nice rejection letters.

As a reward for my hard work, I'm going to start writing something fun this weekend, something I've never tried before. And just in time for Courtney Reese's "Love at first sight blogfest"! (If you haven't signed up yet, go do it now!) Donna at First Novels Club has piqued my interest in trying out male POV. I might try a tense shift, too, from present (my usual) to past.

Who's with me? Shall we make the blogfest more fun by adding personal challenges? Anyone want to try a new POV? How about a new genre?

Addendum:
Kristi Faith is playing Mad Libs today. If you need a laugh, go see what she did with my list of random words.
Friday, January 15, 2010 Laurel Garver
I think I've got this work deadline licked, and I'm slowly emerging from a scholarly mumbo-jumbo haze. Wow, has it ever colored my most recent blog posts. You're all probably wondering how I could write anything a teenager would want to read, based on the shift in voice here.

All I can say is be careful what you read while you're writing. You can only read so much on Deleuze and his ilk without it seriously warping your mind. But that's what I get paid for: tackling the crazy run-ons with three sets of em dashes, colons and quotes within quotes. I can spot MLA style transgressions at 50 paces. And I write really nice rejection letters.

As a reward for my hard work, I'm going to start writing something fun this weekend, something I've never tried before. And just in time for Courtney Reese's "Love at first sight blogfest"! (If you haven't signed up yet, go do it now!) Donna at First Novels Club has piqued my interest in trying out male POV. I might try a tense shift, too, from present (my usual) to past.

Who's with me? Shall we make the blogfest more fun by adding personal challenges? Anyone want to try a new POV? How about a new genre?

Addendum:
Kristi Faith is playing Mad Libs today. If you need a laugh, go see what she did with my list of random words.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Perspective

In art, perspective drawing is a set of techniques that make a flat surface appear to be three dimensional. Everything in the drawing is anchored to a vanishing point in the distance. The objects closest to the artist's vantage point will loom larger than those at a remove. Perspective drawings don't show objects in their entirety; parts are distorted, made wider or more slender, to create the optical illusion.

You might ask how this relates to writing. I think it's an apt metaphor for what writers attempt in portraying life. We're the artist standing at a vantage point, who must see which elements are most prominent and draw them large on the canvas. We then draw the less important details in their proper place in the mid-ground or background. Elements take their shape based on how they relate to the vanishing point, or in writing, the "throughline," pulse, drive, goal or quest that your main character is aiming toward.

Perspective in autobiographical writing is difficult to achieve. I can't easily identify what the "vanishing point" is in my own life--the quest of this leg of my journey. I also can't easily get to a vantage point where I can see which life events should loom large and which ones should fade into the distance. Reaching that vantage point requires the passing of time, maturity, wisdom and a great deal of reflection.

How might the perspective metaphor help your writing? Have you reached a vantage point with any of your life experiences so that you now feel competent to write them? If so, how did you know you'd arrived?
Thursday, January 14, 2010 Laurel Garver
Perspective

In art, perspective drawing is a set of techniques that make a flat surface appear to be three dimensional. Everything in the drawing is anchored to a vanishing point in the distance. The objects closest to the artist's vantage point will loom larger than those at a remove. Perspective drawings don't show objects in their entirety; parts are distorted, made wider or more slender, to create the optical illusion.

You might ask how this relates to writing. I think it's an apt metaphor for what writers attempt in portraying life. We're the artist standing at a vantage point, who must see which elements are most prominent and draw them large on the canvas. We then draw the less important details in their proper place in the mid-ground or background. Elements take their shape based on how they relate to the vanishing point, or in writing, the "throughline," pulse, drive, goal or quest that your main character is aiming toward.

Perspective in autobiographical writing is difficult to achieve. I can't easily identify what the "vanishing point" is in my own life--the quest of this leg of my journey. I also can't easily get to a vantage point where I can see which life events should loom large and which ones should fade into the distance. Reaching that vantage point requires the passing of time, maturity, wisdom and a great deal of reflection.

How might the perspective metaphor help your writing? Have you reached a vantage point with any of your life experiences so that you now feel competent to write them? If so, how did you know you'd arrived?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

As I've indicated before, I'm not prone to write autobiographical work, and not because my life has been boring. Far from it. Rather, I see certain difficulties in working directly with the material of my lived experiences. In an ongoing series (though not likely to be sequential, based on my track record), I'd like to address some of those difficulties as I see them.

Verism vs. verisimilitude
(Can you tell I've been having fun with the dictionary today?)

One of the core pitfalls of autobiographical writing is feeling tethered to the sequence of events as they actually happened. I've done a critique for a friend who has the makings of an excellent children's book, but a few stanzas have her in knots because she insists on clinging to details that are important only to her. They add nothing to the story, don't fit her meter or rhyme and have only kept her stuck, stuck, stuck. I'm not sure how to help her, other than point out that she seems to equate fictionalizing with lying. Her conscience feels keenly there is something deeply unethical about making things up.

I'd call this impulse verism, ("truth theory") from the term applied to a period of "warts and all" art in late republican Rome. It is, if anything, an ethical stance that the armchair psychologist in me sees most often in Meyers-Briggs sensing temperaments. You know, the folks who are rooted to the here and now, and tend to choose careers in math and science. Sensing types are deeply suspicious of anything that smacks of untruth.

Verism's biggest flaw, however, is that it insists on minutiae that obscure rather than clarify the truth. Because to tell your story true in a way that reflects its real meaning and depicts the core emotions, you have to eliminate a lot of what really happened. Real life is messier, more complicated and more cluttered with unnecessary details than quality fiction. Recreating Grandma's parlor in loving detail might give the readers a slice of the real, but unless those details add up to something important to the story, you've lead your readers further from the truth. They'll feel either cheated or bored with your self indulgence.

Instead, one should strive for verisimilitude--the appearance of truth. Achieving this requires winnowing away all but the shiniest thread of narrative, all but the most representative of incidents, all but the most telling of details. Some engineering and editing and fabrication will be necessary to make that happen. Of course, it takes a certain amount of distance and perspective to do this. I'll take up that topic later in the series.

Keats's famous line "Beauty is truth, truth beauty" ("Ode on a Grecian Urn," l. 49) is a pretty convincing argument to get past the fearful clinging to "but this is what really happened." Remember as well that Jesus's most powerfully truthful teaching was parables--fictional stories like the sower, the prodigal son, the ten bridesmaids. The parables clarified his message and made truth so sharp it could penetrate his listeners' usual defenses. The best fiction acts in the same manner.

Have you struggled with verism? What helped you overcome it?
Tuesday, January 12, 2010 Laurel Garver
As I've indicated before, I'm not prone to write autobiographical work, and not because my life has been boring. Far from it. Rather, I see certain difficulties in working directly with the material of my lived experiences. In an ongoing series (though not likely to be sequential, based on my track record), I'd like to address some of those difficulties as I see them.

Verism vs. verisimilitude
(Can you tell I've been having fun with the dictionary today?)

One of the core pitfalls of autobiographical writing is feeling tethered to the sequence of events as they actually happened. I've done a critique for a friend who has the makings of an excellent children's book, but a few stanzas have her in knots because she insists on clinging to details that are important only to her. They add nothing to the story, don't fit her meter or rhyme and have only kept her stuck, stuck, stuck. I'm not sure how to help her, other than point out that she seems to equate fictionalizing with lying. Her conscience feels keenly there is something deeply unethical about making things up.

I'd call this impulse verism, ("truth theory") from the term applied to a period of "warts and all" art in late republican Rome. It is, if anything, an ethical stance that the armchair psychologist in me sees most often in Meyers-Briggs sensing temperaments. You know, the folks who are rooted to the here and now, and tend to choose careers in math and science. Sensing types are deeply suspicious of anything that smacks of untruth.

Verism's biggest flaw, however, is that it insists on minutiae that obscure rather than clarify the truth. Because to tell your story true in a way that reflects its real meaning and depicts the core emotions, you have to eliminate a lot of what really happened. Real life is messier, more complicated and more cluttered with unnecessary details than quality fiction. Recreating Grandma's parlor in loving detail might give the readers a slice of the real, but unless those details add up to something important to the story, you've lead your readers further from the truth. They'll feel either cheated or bored with your self indulgence.

Instead, one should strive for verisimilitude--the appearance of truth. Achieving this requires winnowing away all but the shiniest thread of narrative, all but the most representative of incidents, all but the most telling of details. Some engineering and editing and fabrication will be necessary to make that happen. Of course, it takes a certain amount of distance and perspective to do this. I'll take up that topic later in the series.

Keats's famous line "Beauty is truth, truth beauty" ("Ode on a Grecian Urn," l. 49) is a pretty convincing argument to get past the fearful clinging to "but this is what really happened." Remember as well that Jesus's most powerfully truthful teaching was parables--fictional stories like the sower, the prodigal son, the ten bridesmaids. The parables clarified his message and made truth so sharp it could penetrate his listeners' usual defenses. The best fiction acts in the same manner.

Have you struggled with verism? What helped you overcome it?

Thursday, January 07, 2010

The writer's meme has been circulating in the blogosphere for months now, so I knew it was only a matter of time till someone said "tag, you're IT!" That someone was Heather of The Secret Adventures of WriterGirl.

I'm sorry to say I got a bit long-winded on this one. You get me started talking writing and I just can't shut up.

1) What's the last thing you wrote? What's the first thing you wrote that you still have?

Most recently, I wrote new content for WIP-1 chapter 7. I'm determined to finish this rewrite by Easter.
My earliest work that survived a family house fire are several unfinished junior-high attempts at novel writing. All were written on those tablets the school supplied--you know, the 5"x9" unbleached, recycled paper with blue lines.

2) Write poetry?
Yes. Studying Ginsberg’s “Howl” as an undergrad was a watershed moment that exposed me to the raw power of the genre. In my 20s, I focused largely on writing and publishing poetry. I still credit poetry training for shaping my sense of rhythm, and love of alliteration, assonance, allusion and word play in my fiction. My major influences in poetry writing are Scott Cairns, Annie Dillard and David Citino.

3) Angsty poetry?
Oh, sure. I’ve certainly had my Emo moments, especially after prolonged exposure to Beat poetry.

4) Favorite genre of writing?
Young adult edgy inspirational

5) Most annoying character you've ever created?
Fletcher, a minor character (best friend of the love interest) is an geek who aspires to a life in politics: a teen middle-age-wannabe. Here’s how he interacts with other teens: “Speaking in a low, earnest voice, he shakes my hand while touching my shoulder—one of his typical politician gestures, like he’s president of everything.”

6) Best plot you've ever created.
WIP-1, which involves grieving, ghosts and family secrets. I’d rather not give more specifics, since I’m still trying to work out some plot kinks in the middle.

7) Coolest plot twist you've ever created?
All I can say is that it involves a creep who collects mannequins.

8) How often do you get writer's block?
Every few months. It’s just the nature of the process. You run and run, then need to take a breather.

9) Write fan fiction?
Does really derivative fantasy count?

10) Do you type or write by hand?
I do all note taking and much of my rough drafting in longhand. For the “smooth draft,” written in complete, grammatical sentences, I compose at the keyboard.

11) Do you save everything you write?
I save electronic copies of drafts and keep backups in e-mail. Even crummy rough drafts have bits that can be useful somewhere.

12) Do you ever go back to an idea after you've abandoned it?
Yes. Sometimes an idea that doesn’t work in one context works in another. And some ideas need to cook for years before one’s mind is ready to write them well.

13) What's your favorite thing you've ever written?
I really like the romantic subplot in WIP-1. The MC and love interest push each other’s buttons a fair amount, but they build a strong bond based on a caring friendship. Their conflicts arise because each wants to bring out the best in the other.

14) What's everyone else's favorite story you've written?
Of the pieces I’ve shown people, I’ve had strong positive responses to chapter 3 in WIP-1, and to a short story prequel to WIP-1 that’s currently out on submission.

15) Ever written romance or angsty teen drama?
I may someday resurrect a YA romantic comedy novel I started at 16. It explores the band geek subculture. I think my WIP novels would probably qualify as angsty teen drama, though my MC’s pain comes from real suffering, not merely adolescent ennui.

16) What's your favorite setting for your characters?
I have little first-hand experience with the 'burbs, so I prefer urban and rural contexts. My settings are based on actual places, real locations I’ve fictionally altered or well-researched fabrications. The small village in northeast England I created for WIP-1 was the most fun to research (yes, a trip abroad was involved).

17) How many writing projects are you working on right now?
Three: Two novels and a short story

18) Have you ever won an award for your writing?
I won a short story contest in junior high for a maudlin piece about a paraplegic girl. It was called “Christmas of Sorrows.” I currently have a story excerpt entered in Nathan Bransford's diary contest. I have no idea how it will fare. I'm only about 60% happy with it.

19) What are your five favorite words?
Murmur, hiss, sheepish, languid, glisten

20) What character have you created that is most like yourself?
The MC in my WIP short story (excerpted for Nathan's contest; to read the excerpt, see sidebar on this page, above the blog awards). It’s the first autobiographical piece I’ve written in ages.

21) Where do you get your ideas for your characters?
I usually start with a flicker of an idea of the person’s potential role and build from there in a series of “If…then” exercises. For example, I felt my MC’s best friend should be another outsider in the prep school, but one who’d initiate a relationship. If outgoing outsider, then quirky and into practical jokes. If into practical jokes, then from a big family. If from a big family, then a transplant from the South.

I suppose how those “if…then” cascades go a particular direction is a function of my own experiences, people I know or have observed, and characters I’ve been exposed to in books, films and TV.

22) Do you ever write based on your dreams?
In college I wrote a dream-based sci-fi short story. In it, people traveled using an elaborate system of translucent vacuum tubes (similar to the technology used at bank drive-throughs). It was kind of steampunk now that I think about it.

23) Do you favor happy endings?
I like redemptive endings in which characters confront the worst in themselves and take a tentative step toward change.

24) Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?
Not in rough draft. I usually jot disjointed fragments as fast as the ideas flow.

25) Does music help you write?
Definitely. It can be a great tool to set mood so I can jump into the emotion of a scene. Other times I just need familiar tunes to put me in a working groove.

26) Quote something you've written. Whatever pops in your head.
I look up from my notes to see familiar shop signs lining the street. City pigeons rip a discarded bagel. Eager dogs pull their owners toward Central Park. A pack of Columbia students jostle into a pizza joint. Soon I’ll be home, where Dad once walked, whistled and left wet towels on the bathroom floor. Will his voice still echo down the hall, hung floor to ceiling with his visions of beatific bag ladies and neon-lit Hasidic boys at the bus stop, longing for Zion? Saltiness drips onto my lips, tasting like the Marmite he used to feed me on thin triangles of toast. The world outside blurs. I slump against the cool glass, tired and hurting everywhere.

I'm tagging Amber at Musings of Amber Murphy. She named her MC Laurel, which makes me feel exceptionally cool.
Thursday, January 07, 2010 Laurel Garver
The writer's meme has been circulating in the blogosphere for months now, so I knew it was only a matter of time till someone said "tag, you're IT!" That someone was Heather of The Secret Adventures of WriterGirl.

I'm sorry to say I got a bit long-winded on this one. You get me started talking writing and I just can't shut up.

1) What's the last thing you wrote? What's the first thing you wrote that you still have?

Most recently, I wrote new content for WIP-1 chapter 7. I'm determined to finish this rewrite by Easter.
My earliest work that survived a family house fire are several unfinished junior-high attempts at novel writing. All were written on those tablets the school supplied--you know, the 5"x9" unbleached, recycled paper with blue lines.

2) Write poetry?
Yes. Studying Ginsberg’s “Howl” as an undergrad was a watershed moment that exposed me to the raw power of the genre. In my 20s, I focused largely on writing and publishing poetry. I still credit poetry training for shaping my sense of rhythm, and love of alliteration, assonance, allusion and word play in my fiction. My major influences in poetry writing are Scott Cairns, Annie Dillard and David Citino.

3) Angsty poetry?
Oh, sure. I’ve certainly had my Emo moments, especially after prolonged exposure to Beat poetry.

4) Favorite genre of writing?
Young adult edgy inspirational

5) Most annoying character you've ever created?
Fletcher, a minor character (best friend of the love interest) is an geek who aspires to a life in politics: a teen middle-age-wannabe. Here’s how he interacts with other teens: “Speaking in a low, earnest voice, he shakes my hand while touching my shoulder—one of his typical politician gestures, like he’s president of everything.”

6) Best plot you've ever created.
WIP-1, which involves grieving, ghosts and family secrets. I’d rather not give more specifics, since I’m still trying to work out some plot kinks in the middle.

7) Coolest plot twist you've ever created?
All I can say is that it involves a creep who collects mannequins.

8) How often do you get writer's block?
Every few months. It’s just the nature of the process. You run and run, then need to take a breather.

9) Write fan fiction?
Does really derivative fantasy count?

10) Do you type or write by hand?
I do all note taking and much of my rough drafting in longhand. For the “smooth draft,” written in complete, grammatical sentences, I compose at the keyboard.

11) Do you save everything you write?
I save electronic copies of drafts and keep backups in e-mail. Even crummy rough drafts have bits that can be useful somewhere.

12) Do you ever go back to an idea after you've abandoned it?
Yes. Sometimes an idea that doesn’t work in one context works in another. And some ideas need to cook for years before one’s mind is ready to write them well.

13) What's your favorite thing you've ever written?
I really like the romantic subplot in WIP-1. The MC and love interest push each other’s buttons a fair amount, but they build a strong bond based on a caring friendship. Their conflicts arise because each wants to bring out the best in the other.

14) What's everyone else's favorite story you've written?
Of the pieces I’ve shown people, I’ve had strong positive responses to chapter 3 in WIP-1, and to a short story prequel to WIP-1 that’s currently out on submission.

15) Ever written romance or angsty teen drama?
I may someday resurrect a YA romantic comedy novel I started at 16. It explores the band geek subculture. I think my WIP novels would probably qualify as angsty teen drama, though my MC’s pain comes from real suffering, not merely adolescent ennui.

16) What's your favorite setting for your characters?
I have little first-hand experience with the 'burbs, so I prefer urban and rural contexts. My settings are based on actual places, real locations I’ve fictionally altered or well-researched fabrications. The small village in northeast England I created for WIP-1 was the most fun to research (yes, a trip abroad was involved).

17) How many writing projects are you working on right now?
Three: Two novels and a short story

18) Have you ever won an award for your writing?
I won a short story contest in junior high for a maudlin piece about a paraplegic girl. It was called “Christmas of Sorrows.” I currently have a story excerpt entered in Nathan Bransford's diary contest. I have no idea how it will fare. I'm only about 60% happy with it.

19) What are your five favorite words?
Murmur, hiss, sheepish, languid, glisten

20) What character have you created that is most like yourself?
The MC in my WIP short story (excerpted for Nathan's contest; to read the excerpt, see sidebar on this page, above the blog awards). It’s the first autobiographical piece I’ve written in ages.

21) Where do you get your ideas for your characters?
I usually start with a flicker of an idea of the person’s potential role and build from there in a series of “If…then” exercises. For example, I felt my MC’s best friend should be another outsider in the prep school, but one who’d initiate a relationship. If outgoing outsider, then quirky and into practical jokes. If into practical jokes, then from a big family. If from a big family, then a transplant from the South.

I suppose how those “if…then” cascades go a particular direction is a function of my own experiences, people I know or have observed, and characters I’ve been exposed to in books, films and TV.

22) Do you ever write based on your dreams?
In college I wrote a dream-based sci-fi short story. In it, people traveled using an elaborate system of translucent vacuum tubes (similar to the technology used at bank drive-throughs). It was kind of steampunk now that I think about it.

23) Do you favor happy endings?
I like redemptive endings in which characters confront the worst in themselves and take a tentative step toward change.

24) Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?
Not in rough draft. I usually jot disjointed fragments as fast as the ideas flow.

25) Does music help you write?
Definitely. It can be a great tool to set mood so I can jump into the emotion of a scene. Other times I just need familiar tunes to put me in a working groove.

26) Quote something you've written. Whatever pops in your head.
I look up from my notes to see familiar shop signs lining the street. City pigeons rip a discarded bagel. Eager dogs pull their owners toward Central Park. A pack of Columbia students jostle into a pizza joint. Soon I’ll be home, where Dad once walked, whistled and left wet towels on the bathroom floor. Will his voice still echo down the hall, hung floor to ceiling with his visions of beatific bag ladies and neon-lit Hasidic boys at the bus stop, longing for Zion? Saltiness drips onto my lips, tasting like the Marmite he used to feed me on thin triangles of toast. The world outside blurs. I slump against the cool glass, tired and hurting everywhere.

I'm tagging Amber at Musings of Amber Murphy. She named her MC Laurel, which makes me feel exceptionally cool.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

I had lofty plans to blog about epiphanies for Epiphany, but I am just too brain-dead today. Preparing a piece for Nathan Bransford's YA diary contest entry about killed me. I excerpted from an autobiographical story in progress I started writing kind of on a dare (fie on you, Simon!). Reliving some of the worst bits of growing up with a bipolar parent is not my idea of a good time, but it's what I have to offer the world by way of an authentic teen experience. I'd forgotten how exhausting it is to tame the shame long enough to start exorcising this particular demon. I could use a good primal scream about now, followed by a long winter's nap.
Wednesday, January 06, 2010 Laurel Garver
I had lofty plans to blog about epiphanies for Epiphany, but I am just too brain-dead today. Preparing a piece for Nathan Bransford's YA diary contest entry about killed me. I excerpted from an autobiographical story in progress I started writing kind of on a dare (fie on you, Simon!). Reliving some of the worst bits of growing up with a bipolar parent is not my idea of a good time, but it's what I have to offer the world by way of an authentic teen experience. I'd forgotten how exhausting it is to tame the shame long enough to start exorcising this particular demon. I could use a good primal scream about now, followed by a long winter's nap.

Monday, January 04, 2010

In the season of giving, I've been hoarding. Or shall I put a more positive spin on it and say I've been saving up for a bleak time, when everyone could use a spoonful of sugar?

My post-holiday slump doesn't typically hit till after Epiphany (Jan. 6). Everything (except maybe the stockings) stays up through the whole 12 days. When the magi hightail it back to Persia by another route, the baubles go back in boxes. We return to "ordinary time"--liturgically and practically--and the usual business of looking past the everyday grace and humdrum miracles right under our noses: Heartbeats. Air. Blood that clots. Cuisine. Music. Dog at my feet and cat in my lap. Stop signs. Peaceful queues at the train station. Stories leaking out of every corner of creation.

January lingers long and cold here in Pennsylvania. You could almost forget that every morning, we're getting just a little more daylight. Those tulip bulbs under the soil are brewing deep, sweet hues inside them. January has its own kind of ordinary magic for which I am thankful.

In that spirit, I'd like to share my thanks for the following bloggers who bring loveliness to my world. I pass on the "One Lovely Blog Award" so graciously bestowed by Carolina at Carol's Prints to these lovely blogs:

Elle at Elle Strauss - Author
Susan at A Walk in My Shoes
Michelle at beautiful chaos
Rhiannon at Rhiannon Hart
Karen at Novels During Naptime
Donna and the gang at First Novels Club
Girl with one eye at A Squirrel Amongst Lions



I also received the Blogging Writer award from the always-generous Shannon at Book Dreaming. This "rule free" award is mine to do with as I please. I'd like to pass it along to two bloggers who are deeply committed to their craft and without fail have wonderful tips:

Katie at Step 1: Write, Edit and Revise
Roni at Fiction Groupie

Thanks for sharing your expertise!
Monday, January 04, 2010 Laurel Garver
In the season of giving, I've been hoarding. Or shall I put a more positive spin on it and say I've been saving up for a bleak time, when everyone could use a spoonful of sugar?

My post-holiday slump doesn't typically hit till after Epiphany (Jan. 6). Everything (except maybe the stockings) stays up through the whole 12 days. When the magi hightail it back to Persia by another route, the baubles go back in boxes. We return to "ordinary time"--liturgically and practically--and the usual business of looking past the everyday grace and humdrum miracles right under our noses: Heartbeats. Air. Blood that clots. Cuisine. Music. Dog at my feet and cat in my lap. Stop signs. Peaceful queues at the train station. Stories leaking out of every corner of creation.

January lingers long and cold here in Pennsylvania. You could almost forget that every morning, we're getting just a little more daylight. Those tulip bulbs under the soil are brewing deep, sweet hues inside them. January has its own kind of ordinary magic for which I am thankful.

In that spirit, I'd like to share my thanks for the following bloggers who bring loveliness to my world. I pass on the "One Lovely Blog Award" so graciously bestowed by Carolina at Carol's Prints to these lovely blogs:

Elle at Elle Strauss - Author
Susan at A Walk in My Shoes
Michelle at beautiful chaos
Rhiannon at Rhiannon Hart
Karen at Novels During Naptime
Donna and the gang at First Novels Club
Girl with one eye at A Squirrel Amongst Lions



I also received the Blogging Writer award from the always-generous Shannon at Book Dreaming. This "rule free" award is mine to do with as I please. I'd like to pass it along to two bloggers who are deeply committed to their craft and without fail have wonderful tips:

Katie at Step 1: Write, Edit and Revise
Roni at Fiction Groupie

Thanks for sharing your expertise!

Friday, January 01, 2010

Tomorrow is the No Kissing Blogfest, hosted by Frankie of Frankie Writes. Swing on by her blog to sign up and to see the full list of participants. I'm pretty excited to be joining in the fun. Hubby is proofreading my new scene as I write this.

I also will be posting on some new blog bling gifts bestowed last week, while I was skulking around the MLA convention for work. I've been busily neglecting my family visiting blogs recently to pick my victims recipients.

My next editor-on-call post will be coming up this week as well. If you have any additional grammar or style questions you'd like me to address, send them on over to lonexylophone (at) yahoo (dot) com.
Friday, January 01, 2010 Laurel Garver
Tomorrow is the No Kissing Blogfest, hosted by Frankie of Frankie Writes. Swing on by her blog to sign up and to see the full list of participants. I'm pretty excited to be joining in the fun. Hubby is proofreading my new scene as I write this.

I also will be posting on some new blog bling gifts bestowed last week, while I was skulking around the MLA convention for work. I've been busily neglecting my family visiting blogs recently to pick my victims recipients.

My next editor-on-call post will be coming up this week as well. If you have any additional grammar or style questions you'd like me to address, send them on over to lonexylophone (at) yahoo (dot) com.