“Hello, my name is Melissa and I am obsessed with books.”
I know you’ve heard this from me at least once before, in fact I have admitted here on my blog, but I feel I must keep saying it as much as I can until it sinks in. For me, that is. Apparently, acceptance is not the first step to recovery, at least not in my case. I keep telling myself it’s not a bad obsession to have, my constant compulsion to buy books. However, as I sit here with a copy of the Simon & Schuster Summer Catalog I got from the NESCBWI conference a few weekends ago marked up with books I want to either buy, recommend for my book club or am just curious about, I feel something has got to be done. After all, this is just the first of many catalogs I picked up. Help me . . . please!
If my obsession is just in my head, tell me, because I would love to know that I am not crazy. I don’t think I am. I met many a writers at the conference who had the same look as I did when they entered the onsite book store, the “save me” look. In fact, I was one of the good ones who only walked away with $35 less in my bank account. Others spent much more. But that doesn’t stop me from constantly spending money at online book store at least once maybe twice a week. Or walking into Borders with their recent coupon in my hand (damn them and their coupons!). I have made a point of reserving books at Border using their online reservation. This way, I go in, get one book and walk out. It’s dangerous for me to browse.
However, right across the street is a Marshalls and a TJ Maxx. I have mentioned on this site, the secret book stacks at these stores always discounted 2-4 dollars cheaper. That’s when it gets ugly. Not that it’s ever pretty. In a few weeks, I will reach my one year anniversary at my job. For your one year, they give you a $100 American Express gift card. I’ve already got my Amazon shopping cart ready to go. Yup, I am crazy.
Help me out here. Either tell me I am not crazy or that I am not alone. Misery loves company, right? After all, someone needs to join me in the support group I’m going to have to create.
People are habitual by nature. We like our routines and habits whether it's a cup of coffee with our morning news or sleeping on the right side of the bed. These routines and habits make us who we are, individuals. The same can be said with our writing. In a previous tip, I mentioned finding your creative time a day. Are you a morning, afternoon or night person? Are you more creative the moment you wake up? Me, it's the moment I wake up. It could be 6am or 12pm, but the second I wake up, my mind is fresh and blank and new ideas starting filling it. On the weekends, this is usually when I start writing. I wake up and head straight for my computer or notebook. The week days are tougher with work, but I try to get the writing in. Once I figured out my creative time of day, I had to figure out and develop my writing routines and habits. Here's what I discovered:
1) I am more creative on paper. I am still an old fashion paper and pen writer. I like to use composition notebooks. Whenever I start a new story, I find that I have to start it on paper in order to really get it going. Sometimes I use a separate “idea jotting” notebook and then if I like it, I transfer it to a composition notebook. I do often find myself eager to write on the computer. When that happens, I write however long on the computer I need to. Then I print those pages out and tape them into the notebook. A notebook is also easier to travel with.
2) I like to write with black pen. I am a pen writer. There’s something about a pencil I don’t like. I was taught that pencils are for math and drawing. I guess it stuck. What I do tend to use are the Bic pens with an eraser. This way I get the smoothness of a pen with the erasing capability of the pencil. I also like the RSVP pens.
3) I write on the right side and keep notes on the left side. When I first starting using notebooks, I didn’t like the idea of writing on both sides of the pages, but then as I progressed I realized, that’s a waste of space. So I came up with an idea that worked for me. I write the full story on the right side of the notebook and keep notes on the left. These could be plot points I want to mention later. Research topics I need to look up on the internet. Revising and editing notes I need to remember for when I’m done with the writing phase. Anything that helps me develop my story.
4) I keep munchies on hand. I am a muncher, especially when I’m doing anything creative like writing. As such, I always keep my cupboards stocked with my favorites. This way, when inspiration strikes and I get momentum going, the lack of chips doesn’t stop me.
5) I always have background noise going. I can’t work in complete silence. I need something in the background, something that fills the space whenever I stop to think or ponder the scene I’m writing. Most of the time, this is the radio. Sometimes, I can even work with the TV on. I’ve always been good at tuning the background noise out whenever I need to.
6) I edit on paper using a red pen. We all know the dreaded red pen, but our teachers had something going with that color. When dealing with black or blue ink, the red pen stands out and makes those edits visible. I also print my MS and edit on paper. After I’ve written the story, I type it up (I make sure to save those random typed pages to copy and paste). Then I go through and edit it. I’ve never been able to read on the computer screen, too blaring. So I always print things out and my MS is no exception.
There are probably a few more things I can mention, but I’m sure you get where I am going. The idea is to develop your own routines and habits. Find out what works for you. You may find it easier to write once you do. One book I recommend is A Writer's Space by Eric Maisel. He talks about finding that idea writing space for you, the space that will open up the door to possibilities.
As I said, people are habitual by nature. Use it to your advantage.
It appears that movie creators are running out of ideas for movies and therefore are turning to the authors to bail them out. Is it me or does there seem to be a huge number of movie adaptations coming out these days? And even though I am going to concentrate this blog mainly on the children book market from picture back to YA, adult books are also turning into movies in high numbers as well.
Not having been published (yet!), I wonder if this is something that comes standard in contracts these days. After all, there's now a huge possibility of your book becoming a movie so why wouldn't publishing companies want there hands into the market? I also wonder if there are some authors out there who actually write now a days for the movies. Knowing the possibility is out there, do authors alter their story knowing that something they write for the book may not translate well to the big screen or do they actually remain true to the story? I like to think that when my day comes, I stay true to the story. It is what comes first, right?
This year so far saw 5 adaptations with March being the biggest release of movies. Last year had 9 all together. We haven't even hit half the year, but we've already got half the movies from that of last year. What else is in store for us? Today, I picked up the Entertainment Weekly magazine that featured Jennifer Lawrence on the cover as Katniss from Suzanne Collins' futuristic trilogy The Hunger Games. Another adaptation coming out in 2012. In it, they listed 10 more YA books picked up for the big screen. Here's the list:
1) Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
2) City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
3) Delirium by Lauren Oliver
4) Divergent by Veronica Roth
5) Earthseed by Pamela Sargent
6) Incarceron bu Catherine Fisher
7) Matched by Ally Condie
8) Pure by Julianna Baggott (not even coming out until 2012)
9) Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
10) Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion
What I also find interesting is that, except for Warm Bodies, all of these books are part of or becoming a trilogy/series. Does this mean that only children book authors that have more than one book to sell as movie rights will get noticed by the movie industry? Definitely, a lot of questions to ponder. I just hope that the movie creators do these books right and not screw up the stories we authors worked so hard to create. It's not easy writing a book.
At last weekend's New England SCBWI conference, I attended a session on World-building. It was about how to create worlds for sci-fi and fantasy novels, worlds like Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. As part of this discussion, someone asked about creating bibles for these worlds. My first thought was "bibles?" I had never heard of that term outside the context of catholic church and in truth my next thought after "bibles?" was "Sunday School?". I admit I was curious and intrigued. Why was this not something that was taught in my fours years as a Writing, Literature and Publishing major at Emerson College? Is it a new concept? One that developed in my 7 years since leaving Emerson? Or did the professors just forget to mention it? I guess I won't really know the answers, but as they say "better late than never."
A book or series bible is a collection of facts about the book(s) your writing. It's away to help keep the information and story consistent from one chapter to another or one book to another. Here's a list of sections to consider for a bible:
Ok, first the back story: I finally joined Twitter. Yes I know, it was a long time coming. However, remember in a previous post I wanted to use the consitency of me writing in this blog as proof I could do the social media thing correctly. I decided enough time had past. Anyway, I'm now on Twitter and went ahead and started following other people one of which is Goodreads. Goodreads is a website that allows you to track the books you are reading as well as write reviews for them. Yesterday, they had a post about a survey they wanted people to answer: "What's the book you can't wait to read this summer?" and of course, I checked it out. As I did, I saw a new book that was coming out from Ann Brashares, writer of Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Any guesses as to what the book is that's coming out?
Here's the title: Sisterhood Everlasting. That's right, the 5th book of the series that I thought ended in 2007 after the 4th book. The premise, the girls are grown up (out of college) and living their lives. This makes them in their twenties, probably mid twenty. Is that even considered young adult? I enjoyed the series when it first came out and I will probably enjoy this book as well, but seriously I am a bit annoyed. Are you trying to tell me that Brashares had no other ideas to come up with that she had to go back 4 years? Or was this her editor's idea? I only hope that when I'm published, I can stay away from these kinds of things. When my series ends, I want it to stay that way.
This book left the club feeling empty. There were elements we all liked, but in the end we mostly wanted more. We felt that the book might have been a bit two short for what it was trying to accomplished. We definitely liked the concept of taking a real topic and immersing it in the not so real, but because of the shortness of the book both sides of the coin seemed to be lacking. We wanted to know more about Lisa's anorexia: what caused it? what were her tricks to hide it? We found ourselves comparing it to Laurie Halse Anderson's Wintergirls, a book we reviewed over a year ago. We felt Laurie did a better job with the topic. We also wanted to see more of Lisa in the role of Famine: what struggles could she face as this horseman especially now that she's gotten some help? We were a bit disappointed that her rein as Famine was short lived and that Death just allowed her to walk away. We also wanted to know more about the horsemen as well. Why did Death chose the riders he did? How did the other becomes who they are? Were they, too, human first?
Then there was the people surrounding Lisa: her parents and friends. Let's just say, there was potential for growth we felt didn't get explored.
Our next book: Annie On My Mind by Nancy Garden. It's about two teenage girls who fall in love. As always, stay tuned for my progress.
This usually doesn't happen so late, but I actually finished the book with one day to spare. That's right, I finished the book on my train ride this morning and the book club meets tomorrow evening. Cutting it close, aren't I? Anyway, I found that I really liked the book.
What I liked was the symbolism in the book especially with the symbolism of the War. After all, isn't that what overcoming an eating disorder is, a fight with the war within yourself? I know I don't have any personal experience to draw from, but that's how I always thought it was. What I also liked, was that just because she beat War doesn't always mean the battle is over and that overcoming that part of this journey, gave our protagonist the strength she needed to face her true demons and not just the mythical ones surrounding her.
I can't wait to see what the other girls think. I do have the sequel Rage and will be reading it soon enough. This one is about a cutter who becomes War.
I know, I know, I am sorry, Mr. Man. I'm such a bad tester for not having blogged in two days. I couldn't help it. This weekend, as great as it was, was a long one and yesterday was just an extention of that. I'll try to do better next time.
Now, on to the conference. OMG! I can't even put into words how great the conference was and it didn't even really have to do with the sessions they offered. Don't get me wrong, the sessions were awesome. I walked away with great ideas on revising, sentence structure, worldbuilding and more. But what was great for me was the feeling I had while I was there and more importantly when I left. I feel motivated, inspired, hopeful and feelings I can't even put words to. On my way home, I literally stoped by Staples and picked up a bunch of supplies: highlighters, notebooks, post-its, etc. I printed out my finished manuscript that I haven't revised in two years and now I'm ready to dive in and take another look. I already have ideas on how I can change and better it.
In one of the sessions, I even got an idea for a new book: a title, a theme, and two character names. Whether something comes of it, I don't know, but that just gives you an idea on how inspiring the conference was. Next year will be even more great now that I have my feet wet. I've even decided to stay at the hotel instead of traveling to take full advantage of everything. This was exactly what I needed. Thanks SCBWI!
That's right, I am writing to you today from the New England SCBWI writing conference in Fitchburg Mass and so far I am loving it. It's nice to be surrounded by other writers and hear their stories of disappointments and triumps. It's conforting to know that they've succeeded against all odds and rejections. It gives me hope. I met one woman, who just today, had an agent for a publishing company ask to see her full manuscript after only reading a few sample pages. I think next year, now that I know the ins and outs of this conference, I will take full advantage to what they have to offer: critiques and reviews by actual editors and agents in the field. And, yes, I plan on coming back.
Stay tuned for more as the conference has only just begun. I still have 3 sessions and 3 keynote speaches. Plus a book signing. Boy, am I having fun.
I haven't even been blogging for a week and I have already missed a night, but I had a good reason. I was making penguin cupcakes for a BBQ in Saturday. I know, it doesn't sound like a good reason, but at 12:30am I was still decorating them and they are not done. Anywhy, I won't go into too much details about it, this is a blog on a children's book website, is it not . . . although, there is a crafts corner tab on this site and this project fits perfectly into that section, so what the heck.
I received a creative cupcake book for Christmas a couple of years ago and have yet to actually make something from it. So I decided for this BBQ where kids would be in attendance, it would be a perfect opportunity. I chose the penguin recipe cause it seemed to be the easiest out of all I read. Little did I know. Starting this project at 7:30 at night after getting home from work, was probably not a good thing. However, I have my writing conference this weekend, so I will not have Saturday before the BBQ to work on them. Now thinking about it, it probably was a good thing, cause now I have a second night to finish. They're coming out ok, nothing like the pictures, but when do they ever. It's just a lot more work than I anticipated. And last night I asked: What did I get myself into?
Blogs are whatever we make them. Defining ‘Blog’ is a fool’s errand.