Tuesday, December 27, 2011

My Next Book

I've been shopping my next pb without success so I'm going to try a different route and enter the National Childen's Book of the Year Award Contest held annually by the National Association of Elementary School Principals. I intend to win.

Friday, December 23, 2011

My Writing Future

As I write this I'm on a train to Richmond to visit my family for Christmas. Fortunately, I have enough vacation time to be off until January. I intend to take this opportunity to reevaluate my life as a writer. I write every day (for work) but what about the writing that feeds my soul? What about the children's stories that are waiting to be born? The stories for children to love. I have many excuses for not writing which I won't bore you with here. I have made some progress in my non-fiction writing workshop (which I'm doing again in 2012). I'd like to keep the momentum going and venture back into children's books which is my first love. So look out for me.

(Ashland is beautiful, btw. I'm passing through now. Love the Victorian homes that line the way.)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

My 55 Word Novel

A friend recently offered a challenge to write a novel in 55 words or less. Turns out my entry won and I'll be receiving a copy of one of her books. The story is actually a shortened version of one I did during a free write session years ago. I'm psyched to have won something for my writing. Here it is.


She sat at the kitchen table waiting for him to arrive. His favorite dinner—pot roast, mashed potatoes with gravy and green beans—sat on the stove, the table set for one. The click of the door startled her out of her reverie. The look on his face as she aimed the gun was priceless.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Writing Myself

Writing myself is what you could call the writing I've been doing in margaret osburn's summer workshop. One thing about writing from personal experience (or memoir writing, if you will) is it makes you think in a way that writing fiction doesn't. The main difference, if you want to be true to the form, is you have to tell the truth. Just the facts, ma'am. Beyond that the self examination can be highly illuminating. I'm thinking about things I haven't thought about in years, mainly about my mother. I want to keep the momentum going so I'm signing up for margaret's fall workshop. Ten glorious weeks of writing myself. I'm sure to be changed as a person and as a writer.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Where I've Been

I bet you've been wondering where I've been and what I've been doing since my last post. (Well, maybe not.) In either case, I've just finished week 2 of a wonderful workshop on writing personal essays. It's a continuation of a course I took with the Odyssey program at JHU this past spring. The wonderful instructor, margaret osburn, extended the workshop for eight weeks over the summer at her home. I never would have thought that I'd enjoy writing essays but I must admit I'm hooked! It's the self-exploratory aspect that I'm finding most compelling. Looking back at the people and events that shaped your life and reflecting upon the lessons learned is remarkably therapeutic. I also enjoy the opportunity for indepth exploration of areas of interest in order to create my own commentary. This could be the start of a whole new career!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

I Wasn't Ready

As a writer, can you imagine having access to eight editors and agents at one time in one place and not have anything to show them? Well, I do have something but what's the point? It's not finished. I do believe this is one of the levels of writers hell. If this doesn't get me finishing my MG novel I don't know what will.

Monday, March 14, 2011

What I've Been Up To

I've been one busy woman the last few weeks since the conference in DC.

First of all I'm on the conference committee for the upcoming Maryland Writers Conference 2011. There's still time to register before the price goes up so go to the website now! Get a 10-minute pitch session with an agent or editor for just $30. Purchase as many sessions as your pocketbook allows.

Next, I'm taking another Odyssey course at JHU, Writing from Personal Experience. I don't usually write memoir but it's interesting to explore the possibilities. The class is pretty big, 22 people, but everyone is guaranteed 3 critiques of the 10-week course. Our first assignment was to write about a place using description. I wrote about shopping in downtown Brooklyn with my mother. One thing about writing memoir it takes you back to the experience in a way that's deeper than just remembering. To write effectively you have to relive it if you want the reader to live it too, incorporating specific details that make the experience real.

I'm among the first group to be critiqued and I have to critique 6 others as well. The nice thing is the instructor gave us exactly what we need to look for (voice, authority, clarity, design, development, insight) which makes it much easier to give a critique that's truly helpful for the reader.

Besides keeping up with my own reading and writing, I've been presented with an idea for a wonderfully exciting project. So many ideas, so little time. It's a wonderful life.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Live from AWP

Coming to you live from the AWP Conference in beautiful Washington, DC. Been to some amazing panel discussions and talked with some talented writers. One can't help but be inspired by all this writing brain power in one location. This could keep me writing for years. So glad I decided to spend the money to come. I think every writer who can should attend this information-packed conference.

But bring some spending money because you're going to want to buy at least a few books and some literary journals, of which there are scads. Many of your favorites are here but there are many I've never heard of. I did get a subscription to Smartish Pace only because they're local. Got a special subscription to Sable, which is a magazine I first discovered at Busboys & Poets bookstore. (I should really check it out while I'm here because I love that place!) Khadija is here all the way from the UK and they're celebrating their 10th anniversary! Sable features some of the best Black writers, old and new. The website is being updated or I'd link it here. Keep looking out for it though because it's a great publication.

As I sit here in the hotel cafe, enjoying free wi-fi, I feel so grateful for the ability to be here among other writers who are dedicated to the craft. I can hardly wait to get back and start writing again in earnest.

This is TheWriterStuff coming to you live from AWP. Ciao for now!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Amazing Ailey

This has nothing to do with writing but I have to give a shout out to the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre. The company is truly amazing. Powerful and perfect. This evening's program was special for me because they're celebrating Revelations at 50. Imagine Alvin Ailey debuted this wonderful ballet in 1960. I saw it in NY years ago and never tire of seeing it. One magnificent ballet was The Prodigal Prince choreographed by Geoffrey Holder. When I discovered that he designed the costumes as well I was not surprised. The entire production was just as flamboyant as he is.

I did get a little thrill when I emerged from the theater to go to the ladies room--I ran straight into Judith Jamison walking swiftly and regally with her entourage headed backstage. I wish I could have engaged her in conversation, even for a moment.

Well tomorrow AWP. Having a wonderful time. Wish you were here.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

2011 AWP Conference

The conference starts tomorrow and I'm so excited. Not only do I get to spend 4 glorious days in our nation's capital but I get to be around a bunch of writers talking about writing. I hope to expanding my circle of writing friends as well as being inspired by the many panels, readings and seminars. It's a writer's dream. I'll keep you posted as things develop.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Deadline's Almost Here

I'm working on a short story for the Highlights Fiction Contest. I've been dragging my feet getting it finished. Not sure why. It's a good story and I like it but I can't seem to make myself finish. The story has to be postmarked by January 31. I intend to break through my resistance and get 'er done this weekend. Wish me luck.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

500 Words

That's how many words I wrote today. I just started a story that I intend to submit to a short story contest, the theme of which is a true account of how God has helped you in a time of great hardship. We all probably have a story that could fit that category.

I know 500 words doesn't sound like much, but for me it's a milestone that was a long time coming. Until now, I was reading about writing, thinking about writing, talking about writing, joining writing groups, going to writing conferences, taking writing courses, pretty much doing everything you could do related to writing except write. Well that barrier has now been broken. Look out world, I'm back!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

This is Cool!

Ever wonder what books were on the NY Times bestseller list the day you were born? Of course you have. Well wonder no more.

Birthday Best Sellers

I have to say that I've never even heard of the majority of the books on my list. It wasn't until I entered my youngest son's birth date (he's 21) that I started to recognize more books on the list, which goes to show you just how fleeting literary fame can be.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Evolution of African Writers

The new African literary superstars (like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, above) are enjoying benefits their predecessors could only dream of as this article in the African Review illustrates.

African literary writing changes hands

Monday, January 10, 2011

Pub Sub 3rd Fri

Just read a great article in the Jan/Feb 2011 issue of Working Writer, a wonderful e-newsletter edited and published by Maggie Frisch that's packed full of great information and advice "for people who write, by people who write." The article, by Joan Y. Edwards, is about submitting a ms. every 3rd Friday of the month in 2011, thereby increasing your chances of getting published. I know I'm guilty of completing projects and then dragging my feet about submitting so I'm really up for this challenge. (See my badge?) If you'd like to be part of the challenge visit her very colorful website for more information.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Who am I as a Writer?

Who I am as a writer is inextricably tied to who I am as a person and how I relate to others. I have always cared deeply for people and I believe people can sense that when they meet me. I'd like that caring and compassion to reflect in my writing, especially my writing for children. The world has some hard lessons to teach and they can be learned in many ways. Some are necessarily painful but some can come as tiny revelations, gentle epiphanies that can come through a well crafted story. A reader can learn vicariously through a protagonist with whom they can identify. That struggle on the page can be the eye opener, imparting one piece of knowledge that helps one move more easily through this world. That is my ultimate goal as a writer. To entertain, yes, but also to enlighten.