Saturday, November 24, 2012


In October, I had the wonderful and rare opportunity to spend a whole weekend doing nothing but writing and researching. My husband took my kids on a camping trip and you would not believe the amount of writing I was able to work on. You can read more about the fun (and free!) experience here:

Thanks to the WOW! Women on Writing blog for letting me share.

During that retreat, I decided to participate in a writing marathon during the month of November. I didn't necessarily want to participate in National Novel Writing Month, which requires you to write at least 50,000 words, but I focused instead on working on a middle-grade book idea I had. I set a small but manageable goal of 20,000 words by the end of November, which averaged about 667 words a day. In between my paying work (mind you, I had a magazine to edit and produce during this month) I wrote. There were a few days I didn't get to work on the story, but I doubled my word count on other days to make up for it.

I'm happy to report that I finished my book today, six days ahead of my goal! Obviously, revisions are in order now, but I am so proud of myself. It just goes to show how much you can accomplish when you have a fun idea to work on and focus. The book is targeted toward girls ages 8-12 years, and I handed my daughter at least two chapters a night to read. She loved it, and it was such an enjoyable experience sharing it with her. I know this is only the beginning, but I am optimistic and willing to put in the time revising, editing, hiring a professional editor and, finally submitting with the hopes of publication.

I hope all of you are having a fantastic month as well!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

When Random Characters Appear . . .

Sometimes we can't control the creative process, no matter how hard we try. There are so many times when I've sat down in front of my computer to work on a piece of fiction, and a completely different character appeared on the pages. I'm trying to learn how to let those characters have a voice, even if I don't like what they have to say very much.
For example, I've been working on a middle-grade fiction novel, and it's taken off in a completely unexpected direction. What originally started out as a "don't judge a book by its cover" theme has evolved into a story about bullying and how hard elementary school can be. I suppose it's to be expected. My own years in elementary school were very difficult and I definitely encountered my fair share of "mean girls," so I'm trying to go with where the story is taking me. I wanted the book to be lighthearted and fun, but maybe, just maybe, based on my own life experiences, I have a different story to tell.
Regardless, I'm 7,000 words into a 20,000 word goal, and I began working on this story on Nov. 1. I decided to do my own modified version of NaNoWriMo. Based on what I've accomplished so far, I'm thinking the narrator of this book definitely has something important to say.
Happy writing!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Try Something New

It's funny to look back and see how my writing career has evolved in the past several years. I've heard writers talk about how their career "grew along with their kids" and for me, that statement couldn't be more true. I started out freelancing for magazines and websites, and most of the queries at that time related to pregnancy, babies, toddlers and early childhood. Now my kids are getting older. They are both in elementary school (when exactly did that happen)? Over time, I've developed a specialty in writing human-interest stories and profiles, as well as dabbling in fiction. I was having a conversation with my 9-year-old daughter one day, and out of the blue, it hit me that there is an entire market targeted to her age group that I haven't tapped into.
I think many parents who are also writers consider writing children's picture books, especially when we are immersed in the popular stories loved by our children. But children my daughter's age are also voracious readers, and I began thinking back over my own childhood experiences and trying to figure out what I could use for inspiration. I began checking out a few of my beloved middle-grade fiction books from the library and studying them. I started trying to reason with myself. I've written an 80,000-word novel that I'm still revising, but wouldn't it stand to reason that if I set my mind to it, I could probably come up with a 20,000-word middle-grade fiction book?
I am happy to say that along with my regular writing and editing assignments, I've started writing short stories for children and submitting them to some of the more popular children's magazines, and I'm a few chapters into a middle-grade fiction book targeted to girls my daughter's age. This is the most fun I've had writing in a long time.
My advice to any writers who are stuck in a rut is to try something new. It might be hard at first, and it may take awhile to find a different writing groove, but I promise you, it will be worth it.