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!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

November is National Novel Writer's Month

Did you know, November is National Novel Writing Month? Well, it is and our friends over at NaNoWriMo organize a novel writing contest each year for the month of November. But this is no ordinary contest.

This contest is really a contest against your own stamina, dedication, and will to hash out a story and not care about anything other then word count. If you've been trying to finish that novel, or wanting to begin one, or have always thought about writing one, now's the perfect time and NaNoWriMo can help you reach your goal.

See, their goal is for your to flesh out your story beginning on Nov 1 and reach 50,000 words by November 30. Sound daunting? Well, the thing is, they don't want you to care one iota about quality, just quantity. They want you to write, and write freely. Don't stop yourself to edit or go back to revise, just write forward... push yourself to write, write, write the whole month through. You can use this time between now and Nov 1 to write notes, an outline, a sketch, etc. But pages begin on Nov 1.

Each day, you will post your total word count and a small excerpt. You will get to read buddies' entries and your buddies will get to read yours. (You accept who your buddies are) You will each cheer each other on to that 50,000 word finish line.
Cindy Pon used NaNo to get over the "middle" hump of her story, Silver Phoenix, and now it is waiting to hit book stores! I am not saying that what she wrote was publishable when NaNo was over. Because, again, beautiful prose is not the objective of NaNo. But she used NaNo to get her unstuck and to reach her personal goal of completing her then, first novel. She then spent the next year, or so, polishing it until it finally sold and incidentally, Cindy has currently sold another two book deal. She will be using NaNo to help write a rough copy of the Sequel to Silver Phoenix and her story has inspired me to get me over my "middle" hump of my story.
Won't you join me? We can cross that finish line together!

To give you a brief idea what 50,000 words are... One page, in correct formatting, is about 300 words, depending on if the page is heavy in dialogue or narration (narration would be wordier). So, 50,000 words is about 166 pages and the average length of, I believe, an early to mid-level MG novel.

I just signed up today. I am nervous and not sure if I will reach the goal of 50,000 words in one month, but as long as I am writing, the word count doesn't really matter to me. I have been striving to finish my current WIP for a long time now and I am going to use NaNo as a tool for me to reach my goal of hashing out large chunks of my story I have really been struggling to write.

So, the folks at NaNo might have a goal for each of us to reach 50,000 words, but I have my own goal. In other words, don't let the word count scare you. Let NaNo be a goal for you to just get that burning novel out. And if you decide to sign up, let me know what your user name is so we can sign up as buddies for one another and cheer each other on.

Good luck my wordy friends and write, write, write!

XO, Sheri

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Alan Gratz on MG novels vs YA

So, a lot of us have wondered from time to time if our novels should target an MG or YA audience. We wonder, how can we really know? What are the differences? Where is the line drawn in the sand?

We hear a lot of conflicting info that makes us ponder, and question, and agonize over this... am I writing for a 9 - 12 year old or a 13 - 17 year old? And what really is the difference? What can I write about for a 13 year old, that I can't for a 12 year old? And what about this "new" age range, the 'tweens????

Sometimes the lines are very blurry and it's hard to truly know. If you attended the June conference for NJ SCBWI, then you might have heard the editors discuss this new age range, the 'tweens, which is really the grey area, bridging MG and YA, and more specifically, meant for the later end of the MG spectrum - kids who want to be a teen, but aren't ready 100% to let go of childhood.

Well, Beth Revis, over at Writing it Out, has recently sat down with YA author Alan Gratz to ask him these burning questions on behalf of novelists everywhere. She attended one of his workshops and then interviewed him on his career and the YA industry. Alan did a superb job answering all her questions (and one of mine too).

To follow her 4 part discussion of the workshop, the interview and the answer to the 'tween market, follow the below links...
Part 1; What's the Difference
Part 2; Challenges in YA vs MG
Part 3; Know Your Audience
Part 4; Sell Your Book
The Interview...
and literally, My question answered... I wonder what Alan would say about this "new" age range they are calling the 'tweens, the official grey zone bridging MG and YA?

Beth did a great job capturing the workshop and Alan helped define the line between these two (now three) age ranges. I hope you enjoy this info as much as I did! Thanks Beth!