> Five Friday

Okay, I admit it. Sometimes when I can’t think of a good blog topic of my own, I scan the internet for other people’s thoughts to share with you. BUT…this morning, I had just barely opened up my Google Reader when fantastic posts started jumping out at me. So today, be glad you’re getting links to other blogs! And that I let myself cheat on the Friday Five and not bother counting!

  • A few things Jennifer Hubbard was thinking about that, as usual, I spend time thinking about, too.
    Older and Younger
  • Beth Revis interviews Robin LaFevers, whose newest book Grave Mercy I have been raving about since I read it.
    Robin LaFevers interview
  • Alex Villasante talks about how easy (NOT!) it is being out on submission. For the first time. Go, read, sympathize!
    What I Know about Being on Submission
  • Jo Knowles has a wonderful post about actually knowing, truly, where your manuscript is–even if that “where” isn’t yet Done.
    A Little More Work to be Done
  • Ramona DeFelice Long has started a new series of How-To posts. Ramona is a freelance editor as well as a writer, so stop in here at her first post and just keep reading throughout the month.
    A Bold New Blog Plan
  • One of Jennifer Laughran’s usual intelligent, thoughtful posts–this one on reading books by authors we personally dislike or disrespect.
    Reading with the Enemy
  • Jeannine Atkins posts about getting some pretty intense critique feedback. This is, as far as I’m concerned, the courage and strength we all need to have about and for our writing.
    One Hundred Pages

Saturday Six: Links to Share

Lately, I feel like I’m checking in a blogs a lot, but not necessarily posting comments. I know there’s a lot of discussion around about whether blogs are on the way out, and I never know if my pattern is part of a trend or just a piece of my general business? Either way, I know there is still a lot of good stuff out there, and I thought I’d share a few today.

1. First, in case you missed it during the week, a link to my own blog–but to someone else’s post! Annette Dashofy guest-posted here on Wednesday about managing and participating in an online critique group. She’s got great stuff in the post, and if you leave a comment before Sunday night, I’ll enter you in a drawing for a copy of The Writing & Critique Group Survival Guide.

2. Have you been following the Ed DeCaria’s Madness 2012! Poetry Competition? I’ve been popping in and out to see some rounds and give an occasional vote. I’m not a big poetry expert, but when something wows me, well…then I feel like adding my reaction to the count. It’s an amazing concept, I think–each poet gets a random word to build a poem around, and their poem comes up against another poet’s poem, written around a totally different word. Susan Taylor Brown wrote a great post here on dealing with her word and her fears–check it out. I wasn’t sure what page to link to for the contest itself, but here’s the scoreboard for the competition, which does have links to some of the poems. I think! Myself, I’ve just been watching for status updates on Facebook and then following those posts to the poems. Whether or not you’re a poet, I think this is both amazing and fun.

3. I’ve had people see me at the bookmobile, with my (yes, rather largish) stack of books to check out, and sigh that they wished they had time to read that much. Ack. Yes, I get that there’s never enough hours in the day to do all we want, but I also know that nobody in my family would want to live with me if I didn’t get my reading time in. Even so, I totally know what Jennifer R. Hubbard means about the rarity and the delight of just curling up with some reading time, not letting anything else demand your attention or your minutes. And someday, I’m going to get myself away on the kind of reading retreat Debbi Michiko Florence has been scheduling for herself this past year.

4. Until I was scanning my blog roll for links today, I actually missed this post by Nicole at Viva Scriva on getting back to her WIP after a forced “vacation” from it. Oh, so much here that resonates with me this week, plus some of the links that helped Nicole get back on track. Blog links within blog links–that’s what it’s all about today, folks. BTW, if you don’t have the Viva Scriva blog on your reading list, check them out for a few weeks–I’m guessing they’ll be a permanent add.

5. Another post I missed until this morning (okay, maybe I AM skimming too much!) is Jen Robinson’s review of Robin LaFevers‘ new book, Grave Mercy: His Fair Assassin, Book 1. I am a huge fan of Robin’s Theodosia books and enjoy her Nathaniel Fludd books, too. Not to mention I read Robin’s blog posts avariciously for her help with plotting. I haven’t read this new book yet, because if the car works and the creek don’t rise, I’m hoping to go buy my copy (and finally meet Robin!) at her Books Inc signing on April 4th. Jen’s review should give you a good idea, though, about why you want to read this book.

6. Here’s a fun post from Beth Revis, where she polled the members of her debut-authors group, the Elevensies, on the top three things they learned in their first year of publication. There’s a definite thread of letting the things that are out of one’s control be, well…out of your control. And another one on getting that next book started.

Enjoy the links, and enjoy your weekend. Happy writing inspiration to everyone!

Friday Five: Around the Blogosphere

A quick glance around the blogs to see what other people are saying:

  1. Jennifer R. Hubbard with a discussion on Little Women: Jo and Laurie or Jo and Professor Bhaer. Fact: I am now and always have been Team Bhaer.
  2. Because I loved the book but am feeling too lazy to write about it, this excellent review of Kenneth Oppel’s This Dark Endeavor, from Thea at The Book Smugglers.
  3. Beth Revis on being afraid. She says it so well.
  4. I don’t know if you remember KidLit4Japan, the children’s and YA auction that raised over $10,000to help Japan after the earthquake and tsunami? Well, the author who organized and ran the WHOLE THING, Greg Fishbone, has a new book out, the first in his Galaxy Games series–Galaxy Games: The Challengers. Check out Debbi Michiko Florence’s interview with Greg.
  5. Go answer Nathan Bransford’s question: When Do You Let Other People See Your Work? Me, I use early critiques as motivation and thinking-fodder, but I know a lot of writers get nervous about sharing those first drafts. You?

Happy Friday and have a great weekend!

Friday Five: Around the Blogosphere

I take you today to a few posts that caught my eye, and my imagination, over the past couple of weeks.

1. PJ Hoover lists her top ten reasons to have a writing group (different than a critique group).

2. Beth Revis gives her answer (for now) on the question of how to define success.

3. On a similar thread, lit agent Erin Murphy guest-posted over at Shrinking Violet Promotions about the many different paths to success.

4. Janni Lee Simner coaxes her protagonist to join her on the first steps into Draft 3 of her their WIP.

5. Terri Thayer asked us to share our snow-day stories. Being a native Californian, I had to make mine up. 🙂

Happy Friday, everyone, and here’s to a wonderful weekend.

More Thoughts on Juggling and Balance

The Writing Path. That’s part of my blog title, but I haven’t mused out loud about it here for a while. There’s a thought, or a few semi-connected thoughts, that have been simmering in my mind for a while. I’ve put off blogging, because I don’t want it to sound like whining, but what the heck. I’ll just try and edit out the whine!

For many years, I thought my dream was to have nothing to do with my life but write fiction. Note, this was probably because what I was doing full-time was writing computer manuals! 🙂 I thought that, if we never needed me to work for another penny for the rest of my life, I’d be just fine with working on my fiction–and, of course, getting published–but that whatever they paid me would be enough.

Part of me still feels that way, but it’s tinged with some more realism. Fiction-writing doesn’t pay enough and never will. I’m ready to deal with that, as long as I don’t spend too much time figuring out what that means for my hourly rate! And, yes, if we won the lottery, it would make those numbers a lot easier to face. And, obviously, the day that someone comes to me and says, yes, we love, love, and want your stories…sign here, I’ll be whipping out my pen and coming back to this same topic, from a very different angle.

Today, though, the bottom line is that I want to write fiction, and I want to earn some money. Right now, our family is still at the point where it makes sense for me to be writing and editing from home, and sort of seeing where I can grow skills and connections to bring in more than I did the year before. In four years, my son will be going to college, and my goal for that time is that I can feel like I’m contributing enough from this desk that I don’t have to move my stuff into some other desk in a cubicle somewhere. I don’t know, right now, if that will be possible. And, if not, I’ll take the other step and keep the juggling going.

This goal, however, sometimes makes me feel like pulling out the magic telescope to look into my future, and see if I’m doing that juggling “correctly” right now.  (I know, not a question that can be answered.) Between my fiction, some nonfiction articles I’ve got going, prepping for conferences and workshops, and keeping on top of a bit of marketing, I feel as though I’m working full-time for the first time in years. (Hugs and kisses to my husband who made sure to tell me that I am.) I have to tell you, overall, it feels fantastic. Yes, stressful; yes, scary; yes, tiring, but…wow. I love being a mom, and I love my son, but short-term-goal-responses and rewards? Not a lot of that in parenting. Taking on a proposal, getting it accepted, and carrying it through to it’s end product? I always loved that feeling, even with those computer manuals, and it’s great to be getting back to experiencing it again.

And then you flip the coin and look at the money. Last year, I reached a point where the numbers got bigger than zero, and it seems like I may be on that stage of the writing path where I can see this continuing…even if, from day to day, I can’t see how or in what direction. Enough to feel like, in four years, this would be enough to really help with college and life? Um…no…Enough to feel like maybe, maybe, I’m taking the steps to get there? A bit.

Basically, I like ths part of the path. I’m busy and happy, and I have a family who’s totally working with me on going through the changes. The trade-off? Well, you can probably guess. I’m not writing fiction full-time. In fact, some weeks, I’m finding it hard put to do the juggling that will get me that first hour-a-day-for-fiction I’m trying to commit to. I’m learning that I can get through pieces of a couple of projects in a day–with some time for checking off phone calls and appointments, runs to the grocery store, TIME WITH MY FAMILY, and maybe even some exercise. And when I look at it like that, I think I’m doing pretty well and it’s a sane way to be living. Last week and today, those two projects for the day were getting out some conference proposals and an outline for a magazine article (one they ARE paying me for!). For the rest of the week, I’m going to try and slide back in that hour-of-fiction first and do some more work on my WIP. And I think that’s good and okay and, again…sane.

I have a few role models out there, from people I meet on blogs and other social-networking sites. People who are juggling all this and more (usually with full-time jobs or part-time-out-of-the-house jobs or younger children). People who still manage to make forward progress on their ficton and do it beautifully. People like Jo Knowles whose books, if you haven’t read them, are testimonials to the idea of staying true and focused with your fiction in the midst of many, many other commitments. And Beth Revis who has written a book I haven’t read, but which I am impatiently waiting for, all while she was a full-time (and I’m guessing brilliant) high-school teacher. If I could even manage to teach high school, you can bet I wouldn’t have much time, energy, or imagination left.

And the lesson I take from these people, and many others like them, is that you just have to keep stepping forward. In some sense, it doesn’t matter how big or small those steps are, or if you know which way they’re taking you, as long as they’re heading out from where you are at the moment. As long as you aren’t standing still. I picture my writing path a lot like the picture at the top of this blog–a gentle path through soft green and brown woods. Except that along that path are doors–maybe instead of forks. I can’t see what doors are coming, or which ones will feel like the right ones–at any given time–to open and walk through. But I know they’re there, and I’ll get to them and be able to make some kind of choice…as long as I keep traveling.

There. Not too much whining, I hope. I’d love to hear from all of you how you feel about your path right now and the steps you’re taking.

Somebody Else Says: Beth Revis

Beth Revis’ Writing it Out blog is one of the regulars on my read list. She’s got a couple of posts this week that I wanted to share. She’s looking back at her latest BIG revision, and she’s posted about the things that did and didn’t work (with ideas about how to fix the latter, next time around). Beth has really thought this out and–while I’m not sure all her steps would work for me–she’s got some great ideas and analysis of the process.

Stop by and check out these posts:

Some New Bloggy Links

Earlier this week, Shawna at WriterMomof5 sent me this blog award.





Shawna is one of the unexpected rewards I got from starting this new blog and getting out there on some social networking sites. She is sweet and funny and reading her blog is one of the treats of my week. So having this award come from her is just…cool!

I thought I’d combine passing this award on with giving you links to some of the newer blogs I’ve been following. Well, they’re not necessarily new to the blogosphere, but they’re new to me. In some of that free time we all have just laying around, take a few minutes and check these out–leave a comment and say, “Hi!”

  • Elana Roth is an agent with the Caren Johnson Literary Agency. I “found” her first on Twitter and have recently started reading her blog–enjoyable and informative.
  • Beth Revis cracks me up. Every time. She’s writing a SF YA that I so want to read. Beth’s also  a middle-school teacher, and you have to read her Today: In Class posts. She’s the teacher we all wish we’d had.
  • Amy Butler Greenfield is History Maven. We hooked up somehow (I’m not sure if it’s a bad or good thing that I can never remember where or when these connections get started!) after I started blogging about my historical YA. Amy is dug into her own historical fiction, and I love her posts (and comments) about history, writing, and life.
  • Joyce Moyer Hostetter is another history writer, and the author of several historical novels for children. Joyce is incredibly supportive and her posts about research and writing and talking to kids about her stories are hugely motivational for me!
  • Sara Zarr is, for me, the epitome of the thinking writer. Her posts are intelligent and speak clearly and concisely of the process and the art and the struggle.

I’m passing the Lovely award on to all these bloggers and hope you’ll add them to your own lists of very readables!