February's Inspirational Quote

"One Hour at a Time"
~ Laurie Wallmark.

Dear Laurie,
You might not recall saying this and perhaps I won't remember the specifics but you are our inspiration for the rest of February and maybe even March.

You and I were on the phone and talking about how hard it is to write a novel and as usual I was whining and feeling sorry for my long-a$$ journey. And you told me about how you were working and how busy you were so you wrote your novel one hour at a time. Astounded I said, "You wrote your novel one hour at a time?" And you said, "Yup." And I thought, "Wow... ... ..."

Often times we think we need - or I think I need - huge chunks of time set aside so I can write. Do you do that too? What if we gave ourselves one hour of each day? If it turns into two, well then fine, but if not, at least you still had your One Hour at a Time. So that is the motto of the month, thanks to ours truly, Laurie Wallmark.

We love you, Laurie!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Book Illustration Course by Lena Shiffman

Noted children's book illustrator, Lena Shiffman, is offering a course on Book Illustration at the Somerset Art Association in Bedminster beginning March 24th. The course consists of 6 classes to be held every Wednesday at 1 - 3:30 pm.
The course is geared for all level students and will cover many aspects of book illustration from storyboards and sketching through to finished illustration, working with deadlines, etc. Don't miss this terrific opportunity to learn with one of New Jersey's most talented illustrators!
But hurry and register - classes will be beginning soon!
Check out Somerset Art Association's pdf for full details, (scroll down to Wednesday Adult Classes), or you can call them at (908) 234-2345.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Drive by Shooting

Need some inspiration to get your artist juices flowing this month? Take a look at this photo from a series of mine I like to call Drive by Shooting.
Ask yourself the following questions before you put pen to paper, fingers to keyboard, or brush to canvas.
  1. What do you see when you look at this picture?
  2. What do you think of?
  3. What do you hear?
  4. What do you feel?
  5. What do you smell?
  6. Whose perspective is this?

Now take yourself out of this picture and ask all the same questions again but from your new character's perspective you think it's from. Is it a teenage girl on a reluctant journey? A scared boy running away from home? A puppy who lost his way? What is he thinking, feeling, seeing, hearing? What's locked him on this journey that's so out of focus?

If you feel safe enough to share, please feel free to leave it in the comment section. You have until March 1st. Good luck. And happy writing.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

NaNoWriMo Word-0-Meter

Congratulations HCCyWIG NaNoWriMo participants!
You all deserve a big round of applauds!!!!
It's not the end result but what you learned along the way... Well done, Novel Group. I am so proud of all of us!

Anne Ehrhart 53,917

53917 / 50000 words. 108% done!

Christine Duval 38,115

39115 / 50000 words. 78% done!

Felicia Chernesky 50,531

50531 / 50000 words. 101% done!

Lynette Stone 916

916 / 12500 words. 7% done!

Sheri Oshins 14,633

14633 / 50000 words. 29% done!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Commence the Writing Frenzy!

It's that time of year again, NaNoWriMo time. For those of you who do not recall. November is National Novel Writing Month. The makers of NaNo issue a challenge to all novel writers to write 50,000 word in one month. And that time starts... NOW!

Not a novel writer? That's okay. You can use this challenge however you like. Perhaps you want to issue a challenge that you will write 10 new picture books this month or complete two dummies. It can't be an easy challenge or you won't take it seriously and you wont' be stretched beyond your limits. Whatever the challenge you set, it must be BIG. So think BIG...

My novel group is ALL taking on the NaNo challenge. I am so proud of them! How about your small group. Maybe you can all agree to challenge each other to cross some writery finish line by November 30th.

Let us know what your group comes up with...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Today, I was over at Kathy Temean's amazing blog and was touched by inspiration on a day when I really needed a double espresso shot of some. Kathy's the RA for the NJ chapter of SCBWI. We are so lucky, here in NJ, to have her as our fearless leader and awesome cheerleader.

Well, today she was writing about a new book by Jerry and Eileen Spinelli entitled, Today I will. It has inspirational quotes meant to inspire daily writing exercises, ending with a daily promise, Today I will...

I fell in love with the idea of a daily promise.

This made me stop and think. Because so far today, I was wasting it on negative chatter in my head. When I read her blog posting I thought to myself, Now wait a minute! Cut that out! I scolded myself, Would your daily promise be, Today I will beat myself up?

No. Of course it wouldn't. We would never promise ourselves things like that, but I bet there are a few of you out there, like me, who do from time to time, unknowingly, spend the day with the negative voice in your head (No, I am not pschotic). I would even go so far as to say that WE ALL, from time to time, fill our heads with negative chatter and beat ourselves up over things we cannot change - essentially, wasting the day and our time. So, Kathy's blog made me Stop, Drop, and Write my daily promise. (I wonder if you can also write a promise of what you WON'T do).

Here are my promises for today...
  • Today I will write new pages to my WIP.
  • Today I will meditate
  • Today I will find peace and carry it with me
  • And I just have to do a NOT one... Today I will NOT allow negative chatter to fill my head.

Truthfully, you're only supposed to have one Today I Will per day, but once you start... it's like eating potato chips...

What's your daily promise for yourself today?

And while I'm here, I thought I'd remind those of you who might be sleeping under a rock or living in a cave....


I am so excited.

My genius husband created this phenomenal Excel spreadsheet for me to keep track of my daily words, total words, percentage done, percentage remaining... It does everything but write the story for me. I think I am going to use NaNo for two things - one for my WIP just to get me to the end - so for that I won't do a 50,000 word challenge because I don't need it. AND either for the revision which I already started OR for a brandy-new story... I can't decide. It's like trying on shoes and making yourself buy only one pair. Impossible!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Split Personality

Woe is the artist… We artists struggle with many things –
  • How to make money while pursuing our art?
  • How to ignore the household chores so you can write without guilt?
  • How to ignore distractions like the telephone, long conversations with a good friend, email, blogging, etc. ?
  • Do I exercise now in this spare time or work on my novel?
  • Do I write this in present or past tense, in first or third person?
  • Is my pacing right, my tone, does my voice sound like a 40-year old or a 12-year old?
  • The dog is whining; Do I let him out again, or put him in his crate so he can stop distracting me!

There are A LOT of things that get in our way but did you know that that is because there are two of you?

According to Robert Olen Butler from his book, From Where You Dream; the Process of Writing Fiction, there are two of you; the one you are aware of – the writer-self – and the one you might not be aware of – the nonwriter-self.

The writer-self says, I want to write! The nonwriter-self says, No I don’t. And that is the voice that tells you to do the dishes first, or fold the laundry, or let the dog out, or second-guess your every writer decision, or write this blog article instead of edit pages to send out for submission.

Now that you are aware of this saboteur you can look her right in the eyes and say, “CUT IT OUT! I mean it. I’m serious. I WANT TO WRITE,” and silence her once and for all.

Butler further goes on to say, writing, like all other art forms, must stay a sensual experience. Easier to do for dancers, musician, and artists, but not for writers whose art is words. So how does one create a sensual experience through words? Think of the five ways we experience emotions.

  1. Sensual Reactions - be aware of where in the body the emotion is felt and what specifically is felt - a rise or fall in body temperature, heartbeat, muscle tension, neural changes...
  2. Sensual Response - be aware of how the sensual reactions are shown on the body - posture, gestures, facial expressions, tone of voice, and so forth.
  3. Experience Emotion through flashback - most of the times we are unaware of this because we do it so readily, but think about it... when you get upset about something, often times you get flashbacks of other times in the past you also felt like this. Sometimes it is an object that will bring you back to when you felt this way before. For example, you're angry with your mother because she always forgets to call you on your birthday. You have sensual reactions - maybe you get hot, hear a ringing in your ear. You have a sensual response - you stand with arms folded, foot tapping, shooting icy stares at the phone which never rings. And then you have the Emotional flashback as you stare at the phone - She always does this. Remember that time when I was 9. She said we'd go to Farrel's for dinner and the huge 12 scoop sundae. I waited by that damn olive green phone in the kitchen until the sun and moon switched places in the sky. By the time she got home, I was in bed and her breath smelled of wine and cigarettes once again. [this is just an example... my own mother would never do such a thing =] This flash back is key. It is quick, rooted in the present emotion but tells so much about both characters, triggered by an object in the present tying it to the past.
  4. Emotional Flash forward - this is like a flashback but it speaks of the future. It can speak of your characters hopes or fears. Let's take the above example again. Next year I turn 30. Will she forget me again, even then? No! Next year, I am going away on my birthday. Yeah. Just me and Flo. We'll get on that charter bus... no a plane. Yeah, we'll fly out of this one street light town to some tropical heaven where there are no phones and then it won't matter if she forgets because I won't be there to find out. In the flash forward we still learn a lot about our character. We learn about her tiny town, her dreams of leaving it behind, and learn there is a friend she might take with her. But the yearning is still there. She still yearns for her mother to notice her and love her.
  5. Sensual Selectivity - Butler says that at every moment we are accosted by sensual cues but when we experience an emotion we only allow a certain number of sensual cues in. What we see is our deepest emotional inner self. Again back to our example... Ugh rain clouds. Of course! Nothing but me and the lonely grey cloud above that follows me everywhere. Outside there are also flowers in bloom, leafy crowns on the trees, birds splashing in puddles but our MC can only see the lonely grey rain cloud because that cloud reflects her feelings, it's how she sees herself, and so she tunes out all the other sensual details and focuses only on the one that represents her emotions.

I recommend adding this one to your bookshelf dedicated to writer How To's. I am on my second reading now. There were some parts that were not so helpful for me. But the parts that were have changed my writing forever.

Now let’s share. What are ways you tell the nonwriter-self within you to PIPE DOWN and let you write?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Weekly Summer Writing Goals. Wanna Play???

It's back... Summer Goals. If any of you would like to join in with me to keep each other motivated, inspired, and on-track, please join in in the comments section.

What are Summer Goals? Exactly what it sounds like. Every week you will set your writer's goal for the week. Maybe it's a word count. Maybe a revision. Maybe you need to cut words, etc. Whatever your goal, just state it and then tell us if you were able to accomplish last week's goal, why or why not.

My turn...
Novel Title: OWE
Novel Draft: 1.6
Date: 7-13 -09

What I Accomplished Last Week:
Well, I posted my goals late (via email to fellow Summer Goals Writers) so I knew it was a lot to tackle in a short amount of time and so I am not surprised to admit that I did not reach my goal. I see now though, that my goal will remain my goal probably for many weeks, most likely the rest of July. I did read chapter 12 and saw it was laden with problems and so I began rewriting. I know, I know. I wasn't supposed to do that but it's better now and I feel better about that chapter. I noticed chapter 13 was far too long and so I divided it up into chapter 13 and my now chapter 14. I also really like my new chapter 13. This is where I stopped working due to a very busy and full weekend.

Didn’t reach my goal. BLECH! It was really hard to flex my writing muscles after many months away from my novel. It was slow going at first to get in touch with my writing-self. I felt very low and overwhelmed like I will never, never, ever complete this novel. *whine* When life takes you away from your desired goal and you come back to it after months away, the task feels HUGE and unobtainable. I do feel better now and I know if I just keep at it, I will eventually, sooner or later (hopefully sooner) finish my novel. But it is so hard to get back on track after a long hiatus. It truly is like exercising. (Speaking of… yeah, I should begin doing that again too!) *Sigh*

Once I did get in touch with the writer-part of myself, it felt very good. And even though I shouldn't have been writing new pages (according to last week's goal), it was good to be writing anyway. I feel chapters 12 and 13 are exciting and move the story forward. It felt so good to write again.

Goal for this week:

  • Re-familiarize myself with my outline; add, delete, change accordingly
  • Continue to re-familiarize myself with my story by reading current pages from chapter 14 on
  • Edit as little as possible (if possible)
  • Try to keep chapters to 5 - 6 pages each. Divide chapters where necessary