Friday, April 30, 2010

How a Splinter is Not Like a Book

I had a splinter in my thumb this morning. A yucky one, a thick black chunk of wood. It hurt when I touched anything.

As I was the only adult in the house, I had to take it out myself or the stupid thing would be in there all day. Tweezers didn't work--couldn't grab it--so I sat on the bathroom floor, grabbed a needle, and dug.

I do not like doing this. I had to stop a few times to make faces and whine that it hurt, but no one was listening. So I kept poking and prodding my poor skin until I could grab it, and it was gone. I was triumphant. I had vanquished the splinter and I was FREEEEEE!!!

And then I actually sat there, tweezers in my hand, and thought, "Wow, this could be a metaphor for writing! I could blog about it: you have to dig and dig through the pain and the trouble, and then in the end it's out of you and you're done!" Since I just "finished" Salvaged again yesterday, it seemed apt. (I'm always thinking of you guys, you know!)

Except I realized two seconds later that it isn't a good metaphor at all. A splinter isn't like a book. It's just something that gets in your way. It's useless. And prying the thing out gives no joy at all. There's nothing to show at the end but a lack of pain.

Writing can be like a sickness, yes. The past week or so I have been pounding away on the book every minute I could, thinking of it constantly, trying to pry all those words out of my brain in the right order. But I loved it. I've been on such a high for the past few days, living in my book. Writing scenes that I loved, shaping the story so it made sense, so I could finally see that it was getting close to what I wanted it to be.

And in the end, I've got an actual book, a story that hopefully will take life and touch other people.

Nothing like a splinter at all. (Sorry, Potential Metaphor. You lose. Book, You Win.)

Thursday, April 29, 2010



I finished this major edit, and sent SALVAGED off to my beta-readers!

This means other people will be reading it!!


This is a pretty cool feeling--I really do love this book!*

*now what am I supposed to do with myself again until I get edits back?? :)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Almost there! 50 pages left!!*

*the hardest 50 pages, but who's counting THAT? :)

Onward! *waves*

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Dear lovelies

Dear lovely, lovely blog readers & friends:

I am still here!! I am so sorry for abandoning you.

However, I have promised the Fabulous Agent Shark that I will get SALVAGED to beta-readers by May 1.

*looks at calendar*

I will likely continue to abandon you in favor of Annie, Zilla, Xander, and Ben for another while or so. Rock on!



Friday, April 16, 2010

It's Here! Sparkle Against Cancer!!

I'm wearing my tiara today in honor of Lauri (who passed away yesterday, after fighting the battle for YEARS), Carol, Phyllis, OMC II, and many others I won't share, but who still hold a particular place in my life or the lives of my friends.

Cancer is nasty. Let's combat the thing with some positive energy, at least.

Happy Tiara Day.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Announcement: Friday is Sparkle Against Cancer Tiara Day

Hey all.

I don't know about you, but I'm getting pretty tired of cancer beating around people I love.

  • My aunt Susan died of cancer long before I was born, when she was 19.
  • My grandfather died of cancer.
  • My beloved mother-in-law died of cancer when I was pregnant with my daughter--she felt Child kick, but never got to meet her.
  • My mother has cancer, non-Hodgkins B-Cell Lymphoma. We're very lucky and they've been able to keep her in remission for many years with regular treatments, but it's still there. It doesn't go away.
In the past few weeks I keep hearing about more and more people--friends, parents, fellow writers--who are facing this terrifying beast.

Did I ever tell you how Tiara Day really started? What its purpose was?

(No, I didn't.)

Tiara Day started as a way to support and cheer up a specific young girl who was fighting hard against cancer. We thought maybe, just maybe, all the positive energy we created with silliness, with enthusiasm, would spill over to her. We tried to focus all that energy on her, timing Tiara Days for when she was having rough times. And then it got bigger, and we had them for other reasons too. Almost always to either support someone who needed some good mojo or to celebrate good news.

I'd like to make this Friday Sparke Against Cancer Tiara Day. All you've got to do is put a tiara on your avatar or yourself to join in (there's a #tiaraday hashtag on Twitter). I'd love it if everyone who plays this time holds at least one person who's facing cancer, who's suffered from cancer, or who've they've lost to cancer in their hearts (everyone knows at least one) and dedicates this Tiara Day to them. You do NOT have to say who you're doing it for, but you can.

It may not do anything tangible in fighting against cancer, but I dunno. Energy never hurts. Sparkle Against Cancer.

Wanna play?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Hi all!


I've had an eventful couple of weeks. Last week at this time we were hanging out in the airport at Salt Lake City for 8 hours, hoping we'd get a flight back home after Delta conveniently (a) canceled our original flight the night before after keeping us on the tarmac for 3 hours, (b) "automatically" canceled the alternate flight we booked, in the middle of the night, and booked us on a flight at 8:15 in the morning, (c) didn't tell us about that flight and gave away our other seats, so we arrived at the airport at 11 am rather surprised.

BUT it all worked out in the end, and it was the conclusion to a really glorious 11-day vacation that included 3 days of Disneyland (and an earthquake, among other things, but I'll talk about that in another post!). So overall, life is pretty sweet.

I haven't posted since I got back mostly because I launched directly back into work and editing SALVAGED. I took a few days to read through and mark up the hardcopy, which is always satisfying. Today I'm making a plot board so I can check flow and pacing ( Then I get to dive into the words again--I can't wait for that. It's taking up at least 60% of my brain right now.

Which leaves me very little for blog posts. Sorry to be hermity, but I'm assuming in the end you'd rather read SALVAGED than blather. At least I hope!!

Back to it for now. I promise I'll post about Disneyland and earthquakes later, and I'm hoping to talk about bullying too.


Friday, April 02, 2010

Pay It Forward: Catherine Karp

The final interview of the Pay It Forward series!! Don't forget everyone else who's playing:

Click here for more inspiration: Lisa and Laura RoeckerBeth RevisLeah CliffordVictoria SchwabKirsten HubbardElana Johnson, Dawn MetcalfKim HarringtonCarrie HarrisAmy HolderKathy McCulloughSuzette Saxton and Bethany Wiggins, and Tiffany Schmidt.

Catherine Karp & I have known each other for years. We worked together at Academic Press in San Diego, as editors of various types along the chain, on the same "team" even. She was my Mommy-mentor, pregnant a year or two before me. I went to her for advice and bags of hand-me-downs from her daughter to mine. (We *just* ran out of these, by the way!) We were both writing then, she more seriously than me at the time. We kind of lost touch when she moved to Oregon and we moved to Montana, but oddly enough we're both writing YA now. And her agent, the slithery Barbara Poelle, is great friends with mine, the sharkly Janet Reid.

As a certain Disney ride told me yesterday, "It's a Small World After All..."

Here's Cathy's interview. Enjoy!!

1. Tell us about your current book.
I'm working on a young adult historical ghost story/mystery that's tentatively titled Blackbirds.
2. Can you tell us a little bit about your road to publication (finding an agent)?
I've been lucky enough to have landed an agent twice, although I'm still struggling to reach that elusive publishing contract stage.  I worked with the first agent back in 1998 and 1999, when I was writing historical fiction for an adult audience.  It took me four years of writing, rewriting, and querying, but eventually I received a heart-racing email from an agent who said she was excited about my work.  Unfortunately, the historical fiction market was dead back then, and she couldn't sell my manuscript, despite glowing rejection letters.  We parted ways, amicably, and after co-founding a historical fiction publishing company, I came up with the idea for a modern-day comic novel about marriage, the suburbs, and a vampire.  That querying process was a swifter one, and I started working with Barbara Poelle of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency after she suggested some revisions.

Barbara is fabulous and worked diligently to sell my manuscript for about two years, and we came, as she put it, as close as you can get to having a contract without actually having a contract.  Last fall she and I started discussing going in the direction of young adult fiction.  We met in New York this past January and chatted about my new project, so here I am today, working on Blackbirds, hoping the third time's the charm.  

3. Was there ever a time you felt like giving up? Why didn't you?
There have certainly been moments along the way where I've questioned if I'm on the right path in life.  But I've always received so much support and encouragement, plus
I can't even fathom giving up writing.  Deep down a voice inside me always tells me to keep plugging away.

4. How have your goals/dreams changed since you started the process?
At this point, after fifteen years of attempting to break into the business, I'd be thrilled to get even one book in print through a traditional publishing house.  But I'd want it to be a memorable book.  I've always admired Harper Lee's ability to produce a whopper of a novel and then gracefully give a bow.  
5. What's the piece of advice you wished you knew when you started?
I actually received some wonderful advice from a screenwriter when I was in high school: Never give up.  It's the most common words of wisdom given to writers, but it's so true.  As long as writing makes you happy, keep on working away.  If you're willing to constantly go back to the drawing board...and if you READ, READ, READ authors who challenge you to set the bar'll eventually get there.

Catherine Karp 

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Pay It Forward: Kari Lynn Dell

Sometimes this writing business--especially the writing for publication part--is rough and bumpy. We all go through the ditches, and feel we're alone. It's easy to look at other writers and think it was easy for them, or that they have some kind of luck or talent we don't have.

This week, a whole big bunch of us are turning the spotlight on those who are almost there, writers who are agented but haven't quite got the deal yet, or writers who have sold but their books aren't quite out. Join us this week for 70 (yes 70!) success stories!

Each day this week I'm going to post an interview with one of these writers, to hopefully inspire you, provide hope along your way, and prove that you CAN succeed in this crazy business. You guys--you're going to LOVE these interviews. They were so inspirational to me!! They're doing it. You can too.

Click here for more inspiration: Lisa and Laura RoeckerBeth RevisLeah CliffordVictoria SchwabKirsten HubbardElana Johnson, Dawn MetcalfKim HarringtonCarrie HarrisAmy HolderKathy McCulloughSuzette Saxton and Bethany Wiggins, and Tiffany Schmidt.

Kari is my agent-sister as well as my state-sister. I love that we have both writing AND Montana quirks in common, that we can trade anecdotes about weather and towns we know. That said, her experience on a real live ranch in northern Montana and mine sitting at my desk in southwest Montana are pretty distinctly different. I love to hear Kari's Montana for Real stories just as much as the New Yorkers, so I was so pleased when she agreed to be interviewed!

1. Tell us about your current book.
My current, as yet untitled book is the story of a woman who was rodeo’s version of a child prodigy, flamed out at age twenty, and is now confronting her past and attempting to make some kind of peace. It’s set on the pro rodeo circuit, so there’s a lot of action in and out of the arena. Emotionally, it’s the most complex thing I’ve ever written, with relationships—both human and animal—that stretch back over years and encompass both the best and worst of her life.
It’s also turning out to be the sexiest thing I’ve ever written, and a whole lot of fun.

2. Can you tell us a little bit about your road to publication (finding an agent and editor)?

I haven’t made it to publication in novel form…yet. I write a bi-weekly column for several newspapers. I do have an agent, Janet Reid of Fine Print Literary Management. She signed me after tolerating my very clumsy pitch at a conference, requesting a full and, in her words, “falling in love with your unique voice”.

Plus, she likes horses. ;)

3. Was there ever a time you felt like giving up? Why didn't you?

I did stop writing almost entirely for the two years before and after my son was born. He was eleven weeks premature and even though he came through it like a champ and has no ongoing health issues, it took a lot out of us. Then we moved from Oregon to Montana and things settled down and the writing bug bit me all over again.

As for giving up entirely, yes, I think every writer who doesn’t have instant success hits that wall. In my case, I looked at my husband and said, “Do you really think I should keep doing this?” And he said, “Well, as long as you like writing it, I sure like reading it. And it doesn’t cost much.” So I kept writing.

4. How have your writing goals/dreams changed since you started the process?

I started writing on a whim, with absolutely no clue about publishing, or even writing for that matter. My only goal was to entertain myself. By the time I finished that first novel I was hooked, and went shopping for books on writing to help me figure out how it was supposed to be done. It wasn’t until the fourth book that I considered going to a conference and pitching. That was the one Janet read.

Obviously my goals have changed, but I try to retain the attitude I had when I started. Publishing is such a crap shoot, the only thing I can do is write a story I love, enjoy the process, and hope for the best.

5. These interviews will hopefully inspire those who are just beginning the writing process. What's the one piece of advice you wished you knew when you started?

Start sooner.

Just kidding. But I do wish I’d considered writing earlier in life. Still, the experiences I’ve had in my various professions definitely feed my stories, so nothing wasted.

I can’t say there’s one piece of advice that would have changed my path as a writer, or made it easier. In pretty much every part of my life I’ve been a slow starter. It took me seven years and two changes of my major to get through college. I started competing in rodeo at age eight, but didn’t get really competitive as a barrel racer until I was in my last couple years of high school. Then I switched to roping and took ten years to master that event. And let’s not even get into how long and how many false starts it took me to get ‘find a good man’ down pat.

Suffice to say, if history holds true, I’m getting to the point where I should just about have this writing thing figured out. 

Thanks, Kari!! Hopefully I'm getting there too. *Montana writer high-five*