Monthly Archives: October 2010

Under Pressure

I’ve been feeling pretty overwhelmed for the past week or so.  Halloween becomes more and more complicated each year.  In addition to shopping for some of the pieces to my boys’ costumes, I also ended up making a cowboy vest and a small messenger bag – both out of felt.  I don’t consider myself crafty.  I don’t have a sewing machine and only know the absolute basics of hand-sewing. 

So…I did okay.  My boys are happy and they look adorable.  Phew.  Check Halloween costumes off the list.

It’s time to do the paperwork for my next afterschool French class.  A good number of kids have registered (yeah!).  Lesson plans await.  Is this difficult?  No.  Does it take time?  Yes.  Sigh. 

My mother is about to turn a certain age.  I will not say more than that for fear of her wrath.

We’re hosting Thanksgiving this year.  Enough said.

Chanukah will be early this year.  Like, the Wednesday after Thanksgiving early.  Oy vey.

Then there’s Kwizera.  Why do I feel so much pressure to finish revising this novel?  I have no deadline.  No one is waiting with bated breath to read it (other than my ever-loyal and wonderful friends and family).  And there is so much else to do.

But I know that I will never realize my dream of getting Kwizera published if I don’t finish the dang thing first.

So there it is.  The pressure I put on myself. 

And I keep the pressure on by arranging deadlines with critique partners, worrying about changes to the manuscript, and constantly thinking about various aspects of the story.  Is the beginning good enough or should the story begin earlier, or later?  Is the ending satisfying?  Does it provide proper closure?  Is enough going on in the middle?  Is the main character active (she drives her story) or passive (the story happens to her)?  Am I using cliched language?  Is there enough emotional impact?

Are you dizzy yet?  I am.  I think I’ll go get some M&Ms – the revising writer’s secret weapon.

So…Happy Halloween!

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Filed under The rest of my life

Pseudonym or not pseudonym?

Many writers have faced this question.  Who should we be to the public?  What will be our public face?  There are as many answers to the questions as there are writers.

I haven’t yet figured this out as a YA writer.  I try to be myself on this blog, on Twitter and at conferences.  When it comes to pen names, I plan to consider my future agent’s advice.  I’m happy to use some version of my real name, but what version?

As a stories writer, I have decided to choose a pseudonym that means something to me, but not much to anyone else.  I just want to keep those two sides of myself separate.  Different genres, different names.

What about you?  If you write, what do you do?  If you don’t, what would you do in the same situation?

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Filed under Getting Published, writing

From Osborn to Scieszka

I hope everyone enjoyed a long weekend.  I obviously did.  So please excuse my tardiness in posting.  I was away from my computer for the entire weekend, compounded by lots of revision on stories and Kwizera, and some not-so-jolly migraines.

But here is an update on my 2nd grade reader with 5th grade tastes:

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief successfully behind him, he continues to read the Magic Treehouse books – now up to # 32.  And this weekend we discovered a new series:  The Time Warp Trio by Jon Scieszka.  He thinks they’re funny – and I agree.  He flew through the first one (Knights of the Kitchen Table) and started the second one last night (The not-so-jolly Roger).

His Harry Potter days are not behind us, but we’re taking a break.  Those books are not going anywhere and he has plenty of time to read them, as well as the rest of the Percy Jackson books.

Feel free to send more suggestions – post them in the comments.  Happy Reading!

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Filed under Reading, The rest of my life

Shh…a secret

Time to come clean.  I’ve been cheating…on YA writing.  Lately, I’ve been working on short stories for young kids.  I needed a break.  A fresh way to look at my work.  And, in a weird way, it all connects.

You see, I’m writing stories about African savannah animals, like those I saw when I visited the Serengeti and the Masai Mara when I lived in Rwanda.  (And in case you don’t remember, or are new to the blog, the YA novel I’m revising takes place in Rwanda.)  I guess I’m still fascinated by elephants, giraffes, hippos and wildebeest.  And I want to share that fascination with kids.

Who doesn’t love safari animals, right?

Short stories are quite a different thing than a novel.  Okay, length obviously.  But more than that.  Sure, I still need a story problem, layered characters, a goal and obstacles to achieving that goal.  But I don’t need sub-plots, or plot layers, or as many obstacles as in a novel.  And the characters don’t have to be as deep.  They just have to be likeable and/or relatable to young children.

I think I’ve accomplished that.  And given a taste of the wondrous land that is the East African savannah. 

Well, we’ll see how it goes.  We’ll see if I have any better luck as a short story writer than as a YA novel writer.  Not that I’m giving up on Kwizera (or Sophie).  I’m still revising, and reading, and getting critiques.  I’m getting there.

I’m getting there.

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Filed under writing