RSS

I Won’t Tell You

“I won’t tell you, Mom,” my 3 year-old, Mister, said as I walked into his room.

“I won’t tell you what happened.” He paced around the room, holding his chest and groaning.

“Bud,” I knelt down in front of him, “I need you to tell me what happened, especially if it is something not good, so I can help you.”

He covered his eyes with his hands and whispered, “I put a penny in my mouth and it went down my throat in to my esophagus.”

I felt my eyes get as big as quarters. “It did? Do you feel okay or does it hurt you?”

“It hurts me, Mom.” He held his chest.

“Bud, I’m so glad you told me,” I said, and started to call the doctor.

Mister didn’t want to tell me what happened to him just like we don’t want to tell everything about our characters to the reader. What is in your character’s(s’) back story that you are keeping secret from your reader?

penny

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 13, 2014 in Character

 

Tags: , , ,

Rebuild

On the wagon. In the saddle. Off the bench. Whatever idiom you choose to use, I’m back.

On the wagon. In the saddle. Off the bench. Whatever idiom you choose to use, I’m back. But it has been a month of Sundays since I wrote a new post. I’m a little rusty. But there are some good reasons:

1. I’ve reached another crossroad in my writing. As I talked about here, I’ve been working with the Plot Planner mapped out in the book The Plot Whisperer. It has made a huge difference in my middle grade manuscript. I’m finally starting to feel like I’m almost done with this book. And just in time. I have about a month left to submit to recent conference contacts.

2. So, when I’m not sitting down and revising or thinking about revising, chances are, I’m working on my house. I finished the fireplace project:

Fireplace BEFORE2013-10-21_12-51-39_441

And I’ve started another project in my non-writing life: the basement.

Future Family Room2013-12-03_19-30-51_0

3. As if I wasn’t busy with enough building, I got some really, really good advice about building an online platform. Stephanie Keyes, author of the Star Child books and networking extraordinaire, recommends that any online activity conducted by authors (including blogs) should follow the 9:1 rule. That means that for every 1 thing I post about myself, I need to post 9 things about someone else. After this post, I think I owe 463 posts about others.

It seems that all areas in my life are in the middle of a rebuild. I’m still trying to figure a lot out, but in the meantime, I’m back to blogging. I sure hope its like riding a bike.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 3, 2013 in Other Stuff

 

Tags: , ,

Impact

“Welcome to the National League Division Series. Here are your Pittsburgh Pirates,” the announcer booms. “Starting in center field…”

Through wells of tears, I watch a blurry Andrew McCutchen turn to point to the fans before high-fiving his way down the line of coaches to take his space on the field.

As my other favorite players are announced, I can’t hold back my tears. The city has been waiting a long time for this. My family has been waiting a long time for this. And it is finally here.

Looks like the rally towel give-away is going to come in handy in more ways than one.

Okay, so it might not exactly be normal to be moved to tears at a baseball game, but, if you’ve been paying attention to sports at all lately, the Pirates making it to the NLDS is kind of a big deal. What is something you’ve experienced lately that has had a particularly strong emotional impact? How can you draw on that emotional experience to enhance your writing?

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 7, 2013 in Emotion

 

Tags: , , , ,

Brains on Paper

Experiencing emotional situations and narrating them at the same time, isn’t exactly a super power, but it does come in handy for writing. There are a few things that I do that are a little, well, odd in the context of real life that also work really well for writing.

For example, I picture most people I meet, and even some I just see in passing, as picture book characters. A man with long, curly hair and sunglasses became the saxophone player for an audience of cats. A smiling older gentleman in the post office became a neighbor who teaches a young boy about imagination. A librarian who helped with a stuck door was…a librarian (funny how some people just fit, isn’t it?). A little weird, maybe, but there might be some picture book ideas just walking around out there. I’ll never know if I don’t look around.

I also steal physical traits, body language or ways of speaking from real people to later use for my characters. A teen girl walking with her hands in her sleeves and shoulders slightly slumped I’ll give to a character with self-esteem issues. And I’ll take a little one’s tendency to always walk on tiptoe and give it to a picture book character who is filled with wonder and curiosity.

I even revise my own speech. I’ll say something and immediately think of a better way to word it. It’s like living with the curse of a delayed comeback all of the time. Odd? Yes. Good for writing? Definitely.

All of these things mean that even when I’m not sitting down and writing, my brain is thinking about writing. It’s almost like having a sixth sense: a writing sense. And all of the above examples help to keep mine active.

I’m not sure if all writers do the things that I do, but I do know that writers’ brains work just a little bit differently. They have to. After all, most of our effort revolves around trying to put our brains on paper.

Related Links:

Sara Jane Townsend’s reflections on a writer’s brain: http://dianedooley.wordpress.com/2011/11/25/a-writers-brain-guest-post-from-sara-jayne-townsend/

Blog post by Caleb Pirtle III about where two novelists get their stories: http://venturegalleries.com/featured-vg-blog/where-does-the-mind-of-a-writer-go-for-a-story/

Daily routines of famous writers: http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2012/11/20/daily-routines-writers/

 
1 Comment

Posted by on September 20, 2013 in Character

 

Tags: , , , ,

Super Power

Well, since I’m here to write this blog post, I obviously didn’t get whooped (though maybe I should have since I missed Friday’s post…sorry!). But I did get really embarrassed. Fortunately, I have a writing gift, kind of like a super power, that helps me through these types of situations.

I don’t know how it works. Or if it has always happened or started when I began writing, but I experience situations in two ways. Here is an example:

As soon as the word “whooped” spilled out of Mister’s mouth, there was one voice in my head saying, “This is awful. Please don’t let that lady kill me. Hurry up train! Where are you? What am I going to do with this kid?”

But there was also another voice saying, “Ah this is good stuff. You need to write embarrassed. Is your heart beating fast? Good. What about sweaty palms? Not this time? Are your cheeks on fire? Super. Why can’t you stand still? Aren’t you going to look at the lady?”

Because I’m a writer, sometimes I can experience the emotions I’m feeling and live in the moment, while still somehow taking mental notes on ways I can use that emotion in my work. And the part of me that can do that thrives on difficult situations. So that same voice that was seemingly taking notes on what my body was doing when I was feeling embarrassed was probably also rooting for me to get whooped. After all, I may need a fight scene some day.

This post will also lead to a question since I missed Friday’s post (sorry again! I was baking four dozen hydrangea-iced cupcakes…but look how neat they are!).2013-09-16_13-42-45_8

Anyway, on to the question(s):

What writing gift do you have? Does it have a downside? If so, what is it?

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 16, 2013 in Details, Other Stuff

 

Tags: , , , ,

Eavesdropping

“Let’s play ‘I Spy,'” I say loudly, trying to talk over the family bickering on the next bench. “I spy with my little eye, something red.”

“That’s why you get whooped,” the mother on the next bench yells, “I tell you and tell you and you don’t listen. That’s why you get whooped.”

“Did you find something red?” I ask Mister.

“An American flag,” Mister answers casually. “Mom, is that boy going to get whooped?” At least the family stops bickering. But now I’m scared of getting whopped.

Has a child ever embarrassed someone by eavesdropping? Did you ever embarrass someone else as a child?

 
1 Comment

Posted by on September 9, 2013 in Dialogue

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Tiniest Thing

I don’t have very much luck. I get a lot of red lights, especially when I’m late. I don’t win raffles or drawings. The only time I played the lottery, I was off my one number. I’m never chosen for “look under your seat to see if you’re the winner” kind of things. I don’t even win scratch-off tickets.  

But even when I don’t have luck, I’m still very lucky. How can that be? Well, I have the usual: a caring husband, a healthy child, a nice house in a safe neighborhood, an involved family, goals and dreams I’m passionate about, and so, so much more.

But sometimes, like I did with Mister at the train station, I forget to see those things. 

Salsanpeeps shared a comment along the same lines:

I think watching my wife and son walk on the beach. Prior to that, it was watching them walk together pulling a wagon with his stuffed bear in it.

Sometimes, like salsanpeeps did, it takes stepping back from your situation to find the reasons you are lucky. I find that writers are good at this, probably because finding the things that make you feel lucky is a lot like finding story ideas. It means noticing the little things. 

The other day, Mister was fussing at nap time. “Can’t you carry me up the stairs, Mom?” he asked.

“I can’t,” I said, “Mom hurts too much today.” (I’ve been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, see this post for more)

“What hurts?” he asked.

“My hands, my shoulders, and my knees,” I told him.

Slowly and gently, which is difficult for a kid who doesn’t do anything slowly or gently, he kissed each one of my “boo boos.” Those kisses showed me that, even with a chronic illness, I’m lucky to having a loving and understanding family to help me through it. 

And that gave me an idea. There are lots of other kids with family members with chronic illnesses like mine. So far I’ve only seen one book for them (When Pete’s Dad Got Sick).

If I keep this up every day for weeks at a time, I might only come up with one or two or five usable story ideas, but those ideas, and the perspective I gain in finding them, are so worth it.

Think about what makes you lucky, even if it is the tiniest thing, because that thing might just be your next story idea.

Related Links:

Blog post (with some beautiful photos) about a mom who started noticing things after she had kids. http://www.kellehampton.com/2012/09/observance-and-writing.html

Tips for finding those all-important details and story ideas: http://www.youngupstarts.com/2012/03/02/eight-ways-to-retrain-your-brain-to-notice-the-little-things/

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 6, 2013 in Inspiration and Ideas

 

Tags: , , , ,