Saturday, October 1, 2011

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Conference Rant

Everyone is still in post-conference glow.  But, well, I have to play Debbie-Downer for a minute.

It struck me that the new conference attendees (newbies) were in for a wake up call.  During a discussion of critiques, I noticed the smiles that could barely be contained, the sparkling eyes, the body language that screamed "the editors will LOVE my book and want to publish it tomorrow!".  Then there were the rest of us who knew the reality of the critiques.  We knew to wear alligator-like armor, push down their urge to say, "but you don't get it" to the critiquers and take it all with a grain (or bucket) of salt.  But, these poor little newbies!  Sigh.  It made me start thinking about the etiquette of the critique.  Could we have a kinder, gentler version for the new victims, I mean, attendees?  Thus was born my list of guidelines for those giving the critiques. 

1.  Do not text or talk on your cell while in the midst of giving a critique.

2.  Do not use foul f&^*(#@! language!  Really, it's not appropriate.

3.  You are NOT Miss Snark.  Miss Snark works because she's not staring you in the face.

4.  Do not wear inappropriate clothes.  We do not want to see your cleavage no matter how impressive.  Well, maybe a few of the guys do.

5.  Do not try to impress us with your Meryl Streep imitation from The Devil Wears Prada.  The sneering character eventually shows her softer side but the critiquee (new word) will never see that in fifteen minutes.  It just makes you look mean.

6.  While the world loves Simon Cowell, that show works because Paula is sitting next to him with the soft let-down.  Bring out your inner-Paula along with those biting comments.  OK, this is the same as number five but it needed to be repeated.

7.  Don't tell everyone you want a full submission.  Word gets out and then the writer's moment of elation fades as they realize EVERYONE had a full request.

8.  Honesty is the best policy...just remember that the delivery can hurt.  There are faces that I will never see again at a conference because the sting of a critiquer's words stopped them.  At this point, editors and agents will ask the question, "Well, how's that MY fault?"  You don't have to serve cupcakes with pink sugar crystals but you do have to remain professional.

9.  Don't talk about the attendees of the conference with other professionals at the bar after conference hours are over.  Guess what - all the attendees are hanging around like groupies listening to your every word.  Believe me, I've seen the Twitter stalkers...they scare me.

10.  Yes, everyone and their brother will ask you what the latest trends are.  It's better to say, "I don't know" than make up strange crap.  A paranormal romance with characters of ethnicity?  If you receive that story and you love it, good for you.  If you put the request out there, be ready for some weird stories to cross your desk.

Yes, these are true observations.

Never fear that I'm being blinded by bitterness.  My career is what I make it - I take full responsibility.  I also have learned to see the honesty in a good critique and remove myself from the emotional aspect of reviewing my writing. 

I wrote this as a rant but also because I'm haunted by the newbies.  No, I don't see dead people also.  I just wanted to make my plea for everyone to be treated with respect and a dose of kindness.  And yes, I think there should be milk and cookies and nap time again.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Hello, um, it's me...again

I haven't logged onto my blogger page for months.  Looking at my statistics (come on, everyone does) I found, to my chagrin, that I received more interest upon exiting the blog-o-sphere for awhile.

Do others feel the pain of trying to be a witty blogger on a daily basis?  Maybe it's the demand to read all your followers blogs, answer comments, etc.

Funny electronic world!

It's conference time...again.  I'm looking forward to brushing elbows with my fellow writers.  Details to follow - no promise of a timely posting. (I would usually insert a sideways smiley face here but I've begun to hate them)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Dear Blogger

Dear Blogger,

     It's not you, it's me.  I think you're wildly popular and all, but I find that I'm just not that into you anymore.  I haven't left you for another.  (Gulp)  It's my old love.  Yep, my real life has come between us.  We read books, watch movies with our kids, go out to dinner with our husband and take time away from the flashy life you live. 

   I will always cherish the first months of our relationship.  It was new and exciting.  Then you became demanding.  I started to feel obligated to spend time with you.  And ALL those friends that were hanging around.  Yikes!  I barely had enough time to spend with you.  They started wanting my time too.  Don't get me wrong - I think they're cool.  Actually, I spend more time with your friends than you anymore.  Sorry.

     I will never forget you and I know you'll always be there for me...waiting.  Kind of creepy but, I still think you're great.  I'm sure you will go on to conquer more hearts.

                                                                                          The New Emily
                                                                                          a.k.a. Laura

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

What if Marley and Me Was Rejected?

What a great idea for an article.  Hey, wait a minute, I already wrote that!  It arrived in my inbox today from Writer's Digest. 

It makes me smile to see my little article still floating through the Internet.  It's also a gentle nudge to get back in gear and submit. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Back in the Saddle

Yes, it's been awhile since I posted.  Suffering from guilt, I routinely avoided checking blogs.  The dedication of others needled me.  I was letting those precious creative moments pass me by without my usual focus.

I could bore you with the list of reasons why I have been absent from my usual literary pursuits but, it doesn't matter.  Time to sink into my imaginary world that I've missed.  Time to evaluate my new storyline and tweak my latest MC.  The beauty of time away is a clear perspective of my work.  I can see things I love, even weeks later and others that make me scratch my head and ask, "What was I thinkin'?"

It's also time to submit.  The word makes me cringe.  My latest submission generated a request for a partial but ended quickly when I received a note that the requesting agent was leaving the agency.  My poor manuscript was a causality of an ever-changing landscape.

Time to saddle up, circle to wagons, rope them in tight... Enough!  Can you tell I recently returned from Texas?  Yes, it's me astride that steer...dressed for the pool.  Such a city girl!

Simply, it's time to write.

Monday, February 28, 2011

The Hardest Element to Include Is...

I've been focusing on different elements to add to my writing.  Can't forget about the weather, smells, the latest trends, and on and on it goes.  What I find strange is that the hardest element to include in YA and MG is spirituality.  Most writers, especially YA, have little problem in peppering a teenage party scene with a few stolen beers or an occasional curse.  But add God and the poetic wheels can screech to a halt.  Why do we neglect faith in our characters?  What teenager hasn't wondered about religion or higher powers?

Some writers do manage to beautifully include that precious element.  What preteen girl from my generation didn't read Are You There God? It's me, Margaret.?  Yes, there are others: A Fine White Dust, The Bronze Bow, The Chronicles of Narnia.

When I wrote about an Amish girl, I was forced to go beyond my doubts.  I didn't want to step on my readers' spiritual toes.  Setting aside my doubts, I created Naomi as she truly is - a child of God.  It would have been far easier to describe her clothing than to delve into thoughts about God.  But, it would have been a thin sketch of herself.

2 Timothy 2:15 (New International Version, ©2010)

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


I just finished reading the first two books in a YA series.  Not saying which one but, it's found its way to the small screen.  (dramatic pause) Ok, it's Pretty Little Liars.  I hate a mystery.

At first, I was distracted by all the brand names plastered on the pages.  The Gucci-toting girls shopping at Prada and drooling at Tiffany's display case, blurred before my eyes.  (I have to confess that I do like fashion but haven't the time or energy to devote to being a fashionista.)  I fought my way through the first few chapters and began to ease into the branding.  After being sucked into the story, as any good author schemes, I began to associate certain brand names with characters.  It wasn't a bother to see those labels.

In looking at the novels with my writer-goggles, I realized it's another layer of detail that can enhance a story.  I often fail to add those brand names for fear that I will date my work.  But, here's the thing...every story becomes dated to some degree by elements.  Whether it's a rotary phone, moon boots or jeggings, it will throw us back to a specific time.   My son still doesn't believe that I used to drink fluorescent green Hi-C out of a metal can.

So go ahead and add your Chanel-sprayed, Kate-Spade lugging, Ugg-heeled characters.      

Friday, February 4, 2011

See Below

I had a brilliant idea for a post at  The problem was that I can't remember it. 

So, this YouTube video that arrived in my inbox made me laugh.  Hope you enjoy.

Memory-a spoof by Pam Peterson

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Thanks Christina!

Hail O' Blogger Goddess! -  was the subject line in my last email to Christina.  She has the blog-thing down and was the one to nudge me into writing a blog.  She's inspired me to think bigger.  Yes, it's a scary new world but I'm happy to be a part of it.  I don't feel so alone in my writing journey when I read other posts.

Thank you to my new blog friends that suffer, I mean read, my sporadic observations on writing and life.  I look forward to adding your blogs to my list.  To my faithful follower from Russia, my undying gratitude for sticking with me.  I like to think that you enjoy my commentary and that it wasn't a choice of my blog or scraping frost off your window pane in Siberia.

Blog on!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

I Smell Something

I'm blessed or cursed, depending how you look at it, with a strong sense of smell.  My husband thinks that it's abnormal - he refers to it as bionic nose.  I swear that we have a gas leak at least once a winter and run around the house investigating the possible source.  (I still haven't found it and our home hasn't exploded so maybe I'm a bit over-sensitive.)

It reminds me that smells are an element in description that can pull us into the story.  There are times and places in our lives that are connected to us by certain scents.  Cherry yogurt takes me back to the 80's and dancing around my room to the Thompson Twins.  I fail to understand it, but each time I peal back the lid on cherry yogurt, that image flashes in my brain.  (I wish it would have been another song other than Hold Me Now.)  

Another item to add to my descriptive list when I'm creating a world.  To make it real, I must add the fragrance of roses, the stench of two day old bologna left in a hot car, the smell of freshly mowed grass and the faint trace of old-lady perfume that lingers on my grandmother's scarves.  (Hopefully these smells won't overlap in one scene.)   

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Baby, It's Cold Outside

Snow on the ground, icicles hanging from gutters, cold that bites at your skin - yep, it's winter.  I have to remind myself not to forget to add the weather into my writing.  Mother Nature, naughty or nice, must not be ignored.

Someone once said, without the weather, what would we have to talk about?  It's a connection between people that is constant.  Most of us have experienced variations in sunlight, temperature or precipitation.  (Sounds very scientific)  Those experiences bring us closer to the worlds of fiction.  Also, the extremes in weather that we haven't experienced, tempt us with the unknown.  I have never lived through a tornado or walked through a desert, but great authors have taken me there.  I swirled with Dorthy and trudged through the sands with Aladdin.  I've experienced the bone chilling cold on the other side of the wardrobe with Lucy and lived through a dark and stormy night with Meg.

Let it snow!


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Cleaning House

As with many writers, I rarely clean out my saved files.  Today was the day and I was pleasantly distracted by a few hidden gems that I hadn't seen in quite a long time.  One in particular made me smile.  I had considered posting on a fellow blogger's site, but my poor neglected piece never made it past my personal archive.  Here it goes...

If You Send a Writer a Virtual Cookie

If you send a writer a virtual cookie from your blog, she will return the love, but will notice that you’ve updated your profile. Clicking on your new smiling image, she’ll see that you’re on Twitter. She’ll decide to send you a tweet which will remind her that she forgot to post a tweet on her account. Closing her blogger friend’s page, she’ll remember that she was supposed to be blogging. Sitting in her quiet office, waiting for inspiration, the dryer beeps in the background. Avoiding ironing at all costs, she pops out of her chair and quickly hangs up the warm clothes before the dreaded wrinkles can set in. On the way back to her desk, she’ll notice the stack of unopened mail on the table by the back door. Sorting through ads and bills, she finds a professional looking envelope with the name of an agency she queried. Sighing, she resigns herself to the expected rejection letter which reminds her that she needs to query that agent she found online yesterday. Tossing aside the not quite right for our agency letter, she dashes back to her desk to dig through the pile of notes on her desk, desperately trying to find that email address. In the pile, she discovers the science paper that her daughter had been searching for last night. Grabbing her keys, she’s out the door. She turns on the radio and hears a beautiful love song that reminds her of the scene she’s writing in her latest manuscript. Repeating it over and over, she hopes to cement the lyrics in her brain so she can remember it when she sits down to write. Returning home after preparing her lecture speech about responsibility for her child, she tries to remember what she wanted to write. Hurrying to her desk, she notices the empty screen still waiting for her blog post. Staring at the flashing line, she ponders what the heck she can write about. Maybe children that need a lesson in organization? The line is still flashing. Maybe a more professional entry would be better in case a prospective agent checks out her blog. Agents and editors! She forgot to send a query to the editor from the fall conference. Quickly, dragging out her binder of important papers, she shuffles through until she finds the submission guidelines. Three months? She swallows and starts to count how many weeks since the conference and remembers that she needs to make an appointment for a haircut. Going to the mirror, she looks to see if any gray roots are showing. Looking at her reflection, she wonders if she will ever get her manuscript published – there are a few wrinkles appearing around her eyes. That’s what her character needs! Wrinkles. Back behind the desk, she brings up her work-in-progress. A soft ping announces she has mail. Opening the email, in case it’s the agent she queried last week requesting a partial, she finds a big chocolate chip cookie from her critique friend. Thought you could use something sweet today. Oh, no!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Discipline...or lack of

Routines are wonder and awful at the same time.  My New Year's Resolution was to faithfully blog on Sunday.  Well, here it is, another Sunday night and I'm feeling non-blogee.  (Yes, it's a word that would make my eight grade grammar teacher cringe - again.)

Maybe, routines need to be written in sand rather than stone.


Sunday, January 9, 2011

Through the Looking Glass

I consider myself on blogger honeymoon.  I have yet to send myself out into the world in a meaningful manner.  I have not networked, I don't post comments, I ignore the unwritten rules of etiquette.  In short, I'm happy to remain anonymous.

I find that once you open one blog, it inevitably leads to another.  It's like Alice falling through that hole.  You'll never know what you will find.  In a pleasant way, it also becomes a black hole of time.  I may convince myself that it's research but I find myself in the realm of distraction.  I love searching the personal elements of a blogger as much as I love finding words that melt on my tongue.

I set a goal to push myself out of my cozy little shell.  As it approaches, I wonder if I want to look into the "wardrobe" of the world beyond me.  I guess I must.

For the moment, I'll hang the do-not-disturb sign on my door.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Quiet, Please

I had great hopes of writing during the break.  What's the saying...something about a road lined with good intentions? 

It was a struggle with a house full of noisy teenagers and younger kids who provided constant distraction to my mission to sit and write/edit.  It wasn't necessarily a bad thing.  They provided me with YA insights, current trends and plenty of eye-rolling.

I discovered that I write best tucked away in my quiet office, dogs sleeping on the rug behind me and birds outside my window providing the only distraction.  It amazes me that many famous authors pen great novels in the middle of a busy cafe.  They are surrounded by a swirl of inspiration but how do they quiet it to concentrate on the world they are creating? 

What's that other saying?  Variety is the spice of life. :)