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.)