Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Author Insights

Today I'll take the plunge and share some of the meandering thoughts from my personal journal -- thoughts on the author, the character and the self. Turn ye back if ye do not like to delve a little deeper. Okay fair warning.

Life has been presenting me with some very difficult challenges of late.
What I want:
To understand my life from above and not just from below.
Relief from sorrow.
To have faith in God.
To believe I'm on the right path.
To make the right decisions and move on them.
To live with compassion.

Much of what I want is out of my hands. I'm human, flawed and not "all seeing". I suppose I want the guarantee of a "happy ending" Who doesn't?

MY CHARACTERS are in much the same situation. They want:
To understand the story from above and not just from below.
Relief from sorrow and difficulties.
To have faith.
To believe they are on the right path to solve to story problem.
To make the right decisions and move on them.
They don't always think in terms of "living with compassion" so that's a bit different.

AS THE AUTHOR I can see my characters' struggling.
I DO see the story from above.
I cannot relieve them from their sorrow or difficulties or the story would be over.
I know the characters are on the right path to solve the story problem even when they fail.
I know they don't always make the right decisions but as long as they move and continue moving, they will make progress toward the story's end.
They don't always live with compassion, but though the story seems to be harsh, I as the author have compassion for them.

My characters don't walk away with a PRIZE at the end of the story. They don't always get with they want. They DO walk away with a better understanding of themselves, of their gifts and of their place in the world. This "invisible prize" is something they will always have. It is imperishable/untouchable. No one can ever take it away from them.

I expect no more and no less from my characters than I expect from myself. Insight into the Author's Role/God's Role does not relieve the pain of my daily life. I blunder along as best I can with what faith I have. I'm flawed just as my characters are flawed. But I'm out for the invisible prize.

Fellow traveler,
Walk Well,


Sunday, August 27, 2006

What's your personality? Take the quiz:

The Protector

You live your life with integrity, originality, vision, and creativity.
Independent and stubborn, you rarely stray from your vision - no matter what it is.
You are an excellent listener, with almost infinite patience.
You have complex, deep feelings, and you take great care to express them.

You would make a great photographer, alternative medicine guru, or teacher.

take the quiz:

BEAST OF NOOR Party Picture

The book launch party for THE BEAST OF NOOR was a blast! A few came as characters from the book. The Sylth Queen arrived with her entourage of Sylth servants all fanning her and doing her bidding. I gave her a silver goblet (Sylth Queens don't drink from paper cups!) The Sylth Queen was kind enough to toss fairy petals on some lucky partygoers.

Here's a picture of the Sylty Queen, a sylth, the intrepid author, and Brother Adolpho opening the Falconer's chest.

Many left with some Noor treasure, but I have a lot left. Hum. Were folks a bit shy about loading their plunder pouches??

The food from Noor was delicious -- I heard it was anyway. I was only able to gobble two strawberries the entire evening. I ordered a glass of white wine during the book signing but the white was gone and red wine gives me a headache. Ah well.

I chose to read a tale within tale -- the story of how the Shriker came to be, and I'm told the reading went well. After the reading, people lined up to get books signed or went over to watch the cool Search Dog video.

My thanks to all who came to revel. And to all those who bought books. The bookstore was sold out!

Until the next blog, be well

Saturday, August 12, 2006


The SCBWI Summer Conference was Golden this year. Here are some more nuggets from my LA visit.

Saturday 8/05
Hunkered down in my room to work on The Ancients (deadline for the revision draws near).

Attended Krista Marino's workshop "Publishing Etiquette: What Not to Do"Krista gathered gripes from her fellow editors. Here are a few things to avoid:
* Don’t send sloppy cover letters. They should be immaculate.
* Avoid adding the minutia of your novel to your synopsis. Instead clearly communicate the storyline, characters, genre and age range. Keep it short,clear and compelling.
* Don’t address editors by first name in your cover letter unless you know them.
* Don’t send to 5 editors at the same imprint. Editors know each other and "do lunch" together.
* Try not to be impatient while you wait for a response. Instead use your waiting time to wirte. Editors work long office hours and have to do ALL their manuscript reading at home. So learn the fine line between persistence and pestering.
Krista then listed all the jobs an editor does in a typical day. My hand cramped just writing them all down! Kudos to all our hardworking editors.

Sunday 8/06
Went to Lisa Yee’s witty “Why Bother to Blog” workshop. Great fun! Lisa shared lots of cool blogging info. (So much to learn!) And she gave us tons of helpful notes. Thanks Lisa! (See more SCBWI conference stuff on Lisa Yee’s blog.)

Monday 8/07

Went to “The Joys and Frustrations of Revision” workshop with Justina Chen Headley and her editor at Little Brown, Alvina Ling.
Took pages of notes on their revision process. Justina showed her cool pre-story collages. Alvina read sections of her early editorial letters for Nothing But the Truth and a Few White Lies. Justina shared tips on how to handle your editors queries and comments. Lots of good-humored jokes between the two, and more than one poignant moment as Tina read from her stunning novel. I give the workshop 5 stars. *****

Monday afternoon -- Jane Yolen's Keynote:
I'd been waiting all weekend for Jane Yolen's address. And my jaw dropped when she was wheeled on stage. We’d danced at the Jade Jubilee Saturday night. Did she sprain her ankle jiving into the wee hours after I left the shindig? Jane soon told her ghastly tale of horrors (full details can be read on her website Journal “Telling the True” see She'd suffered a bad case of food poisoning. After being sicker than a dog for hours, our fearless conference director, Lin Oliver, rushed her to the hospital where Jane spent the night hooked up to the IV. Still she managed to return to the hotel for her keynote address covering the 10 Rules of Writing gleaned from 40 years of experience and 287 (count um!) books. Here are but a few rules:
· Write the damn novel. Don't just want to write it. Sit down (BIC -- butt in chair) and write it.
· Learn to love revision.
· Listen to your readers.
· The last rule (true to Yolen humor) was -- Don't believe anyone's rules.
Jane ended with a poem. I took down a startling line . . .
"a prayer that sounds like a curse until it's said a second time"

Jane got a standing ovation.
She thinks it was wheelchair inspired "pity applause" but it had nothing to do with food poisoning. Note to Jane -- we would have stood after that keynote if you’d been well enough to do jumping jacks on stage. Bravo! It was a great way to end the conference.

Monday night party:
Last, I attended the party at Lin Oliver’s. Good talk and good eats – apologies to Jane Y.

Tuesday 8/08:
Got up at 4:30 a.m. Tuesday to fly home. Then it was time to dig in on my revision of Talon for my UK publisher at Faber & Faber.

Well, Talon beckons. Back to work.

Until the next blog . . .
Be well.

Friday, August 11, 2006

LA STORY: Book Signing, talk about Meryl Streep, Jodie Foster and more.

The SCBWI Conference this year was Golden. Here are some nuggets from my LA visit.

Friday Day #1
Media Escort Book Signing:
Media Escort Lisa Becker drove Tina (Justina Chen Headley ) and I all over LA to hit as many bookstores as is humanly possible given LA traffic and the local speed limit. Lisa Becker was well prepared and she had the bookstore reps. hopping. If a bookstore didn't have our books in stock, Lisa looked them right in the eye and said. "You need to get these books," in a very polite 'make them an offer they can't refuse' sort of a way. She also told us great Hollywood tales gleaned from working in the movie business. Some of the scoop: Meryl Streep is not only the consummate actress we all know she is, she's also a great human being. Ah, good to know. Lisa also talked up Jodie Foster (smart, with it, great mom), Keanu Reeves (the only actor who ever asked her if he could be switched to a SMALLER hotel room)and George Clooney who asked if he could pitch in some cash and pay for the film crew's accommodations (that's about 600 people!) when Lisa was getting flack from everyone about the sucky hotel. We loved her behind-the- scenes stories and we talked non-stop in stop-and-go traffic, so travel between signings was a breeze. I found a new respect for all the unsung heroes in the crew who work in the movie industry. Try 12-14 hour days day in and day out. Bravo to the unsung, hardworking crew!
We singed lots of books -- Tina's NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH AND A FEW WHITE LIES, and my THE BEAST OF NOOR. Last stop was Storyopolis where we viewed stunning framed picture book artwork covering the walls and, I almost forgot, signed books. A great day.

Friday night:
Dinner with friends and editor Krista Marino -- lots of laughs and good eats. In a fit of "healthy living fanaticism" we all decided to walk back to the hotel and had to clamber down a dirt hill covered in netting to cross LA night traffic -- totally nuts but no one was harmed.

See more SCBWI LA conference Nuggets in the next blog.

Until then,
Be well,

Until the next blog,
Be well,