Sunday, April 28, 2013


Oh hello. Remember me? I seem to have fallen into an ocean. Glub. I hate to neglect my blog. I miss it here! Life and writing have been zinging around like ... like ... hungry hummingbirds? Okay, yes. Like hungry hummingbirds. Zing flitter flash. Try to catch it, so sorry, not for you. 

Things are good, but holy smokes it's nearly May! Darn you, year! Slow down! I am shaking my fist at 2013 like it's a UPS truck barreling past a KIDS AT PLAY sign. Gosh darn you, what's the big idea!? 

Okay, enough. Clementine has just jaunted off for a grandparent date, and I have hours of time ahead in which to simultaneously attack several different projects. I am filling my lungs with air (I almost just said 'filling my air with lungs,' which is a very different thing) before popping back into the ocean of dear-god-are-you-serious, and I just wanted to say HI! And also: 


If you are participating, remember to link your video HERE. If that is not working, please leave a link in comments to this post. I don't want to miss any videos! Man, there are some great ones!!! I'm so excited!


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The world will end if you write the wrong scene

I am busy practicing the discipline that not every scene I write needs to end up in the book.

You write to find the story.

And that is how there is a story. Because you looked for it and found it.

But the looking can be scary. What if this isn't the right way? 

I'll tell you. If this scene you write turns out not to be the right scene, THE WORLD WILL END in a plague of hissing cockroaches. They will hiss scorn upon you as they swallow you up in a writhing oblivion, leaving only your shoelaces and eyelashes as evidence you even existed.

Except not really. Nothing will happen. You will write another scene. And another. And one of them will be right. 

That's all. Angst makes it feel very complicated, but it's not. 

ONWARD! WRITE! You will find stuff you weren't looking for. It's like sofa cushions. Yeah, there's money there, and the occasional diamond ring, but there's also a lot of lint, and probably a half-sucked Life Saver or a used Q-tip you'd rather not deal with. But would you let a used Q-tip stand between you and a diamond ring?! Plus which, who knows? You may well find a tiny, mystical medallion in ancient bronze, and have no idea how it came to be there, or what its powers are ... and it will light your brain on fire.

(Also: have a nice day :-)

P.S. This discipline is the thing that gives me courage and freedom to write the scenes instead of just fretting about them, and more often than not, they are right, or at least right-ish. YAY!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Black Marks on a Page

Good morning! For you, happy typewriter art from my writing room.

Something about typewriters just makes me happy. Not using them though, just looking at them. My perfectionist brain is ill-equipped to deal with the intransigent nature of their black marks on the page. I need to be able to move those marks around like scrabble tiles until my brain says OKAY ENOUGH ALREADY. 

Speaking of "black marks on a page," I will be teaching a workshop in May called "It's All Just Black Marks on a Page." It's something I think about a lot, but have never attempted to teach, and what I want to deal with is wordcraft. Basically: how we use words not merely to "tell a story" but to attempt to craft an experience for the brain that induces in the reader the total experience of the characters. How to use words to pull the reader in as completely as possible, and hopefully make them forget they're reading. You know the whole "I laughed I cried"? How do you do that? And how do you scare readers, and set them on edge, and make their hand fly to their mouth in astonishment? How do you actually alter their heartbeat? It's not just by stating what's happening. 

I am in unending awe of the power of words to set our brains on fire, and I would say that easily 80% of my own writing time is spent toying with these black marks on the page in order to sharpen as much as possible the experience I am attempting to induce. I am trying to sink my fingers into your brain. By way of words. Hope that's okay with you.

So that's the workshop. It's going to be at the Oregon SCBWI spring conference, and I'm doing a talk on "writing as creating experience" too, which will be related but different (not a workshop). The rest of the conference looks great too. Come and join us!

And, oh, this, just because my camera happened to point at it and it makes me smile too :-)

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