Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Two different books in one!! Not as cool as it sounds...

I'm revising a novel... sort of.

The thing is that I've already done the proof-reading type of revision a million times on this novel and it's nearly perfect that way. But I kind of got ahead of myself.

The big picture revision should have come first.

It's tough to wait on line-editing when that's what you do naturally, but really it's just an excuse to put off revising what actually needs to be revised... you know, the stuff that hurts!

So in talking it over with friends and family who have read my book, I've come to realize that the big picture revision that is needed is kind of, well, BIG.

See, my book is like two different books in one. It begins very lighthearted, a truly silly middle grade offering. But by the end, it has become dark, scary, and quite serious. This happened because my inspiration for the book was the Disney movie, Sky High. My sons were enjoying the movie so much, I wanted to write something about super heroes and villains, something about stereo types and identity crisis. Yeah, I purposely started writing something derivative.

But then the curve ball hit, and the story took on a life of its own. My main character had resolved his identity crisis and was now trying to prove himself to the people he cared most about. Stakes had to rise. Circumstances had to get worse.

So they did. And oh boy, did they!

My silly middle grade became a bit of a thriller by the end. And now I'm faced with a difficult decision. Do I make the beginning more serious to match the ending? Or do I make the ending less scary and intense to match the beginning?

What would you do?

p.s. To avoid this happening to you, check out

Thursday, August 23, 2012

My mom, the artist

Imagine awesome cover here.

This weekend I get to visit my mom and dad, sister and her family. There are lots of reasons I'm excited to see them! This will be our first road trip with new baby boy, too, so that should be interesting. But the most writing-related thing I'm looking forward to is brainstorming cover art with my mom.

She's always been a naturally talented artist, and earlier in life she had some training that's just stuck with her. Now, even if she hasn't done anything in a while, she can pick up her drawing tools and make the most emotionally evocative artwork. She's done landscape oil painting, but for most of my life the artwork I've seen from her has been in pastels. Whenever I see a pastel drawing, I think of her.

And I'm excited because she's agreed to make a cover for my middle grade novel. 

I'm just starting to do my part by revisiting the novel once again for another round of revisions. Because it's been two years since I originally wrote it, I'm finding it much easier to see the big picture problems. It's still a challenge for me to re-imagine it (I think that's the hardest part of revision). But it's easier than it was two years ago when I thought I'd written something almost perfect in only two months.

I'm finally reading Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass, and loving the advice (and the relatable voice of the agent/author). But so far, unfortunately, all it's inspired from me is to outline a completely different novel based loosely on the characters in my existing book. That won't do. I need to maintain the integrity of the playful middle grade by NOT making it a "breakout novel," but I'm loving the advice because of how it will help me write my next book.

For now, I'll be rereading my middle grade book again and again, trying to find those weak spots that make even me - the writer - go, "huh?"

What are you working on today?

Friday, August 10, 2012

Taking my own (writing) advice

For the last two years, I've been blogging with writers for writers. I end up dispensing a LOT of writing advice, much of it recycled, some of it through goofy metaphors I make up with my creative genius (an adorable, invisible owl named Oliver).

Would you look at that! He's not invisible!

Today, I'm taking some of my own advice:

  • Set a writing goal (big or small, your choice)
  • Tie it to a motivation (people you love, an audience you want to reach, recognition in publishing)
  • Get excited about it!!!

Here I go:
  • Ambition: Get my middle grade superhero story publishing-ready through rereading, editing, and seeking professional advice. Do it by next spring.
  • Motivation: The pleasure of seeing my soon-to-be-six-year-old's face when I show him the finished product and tell him Mommy wrote it just for him. Add to this the bonus of reading it aloud with him when we're done with all his 1st grade read-alouds (Charlotte's Web, Detectives in Togas, Homer Price).
  • Enthusiasm: Hanging out at WriteOnCon next week with other ambitious, motivated, enthusiastic writers. I'll also garner enthusiasm this fall and winter as I watch FOUR of my six critique partners achieve their publication goals with DEADWOOD, TREASURED LIES, THE EMISSARY, and AMAROK. Go Operation Awesome ladies!!!! Woooot! Oliver is SO proud! <-- check it out, the enthusiasm is already building!