Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Novel Workshop

Right now I'm in the middle of writing a Young Adult novel. I've been struggling with this so I decided I could use some extra help and I decided to attend a Young Adult/middle grade novel writing workshop that was held in my town. Brodi Ashton, the author of Everneath, and Lindsey Leavitt, author of the Princess for Hire series and Sean Griswold's Head were the authors that came to teach us about writing a novel. The workshop was good and I learned a lot of good things and was able to network with some other aspiring authors.

A few of the things I learned:

~The observations a character makes should say as much about the character that makes them as about the person they are observing. Different people notice different things about others. One person might look at a child and say that that child is funny and energetic and has bright, blue eyes. Another person might look at that same child and call them smart-mouthed and crazy and notice their dirty shirt. The observations made say as much or more about the person making them as they do the child himself. Even though nothing was said about the people observing the child, you can probably make some assumptions about them just by the things they noticed and the way they expressed those things.

~One good idea, I thought, was to go through your manuscript and highlight the dialogue in different colors for each character. That way you can make sure that what they say and how they say it is consistent with who they are.

~This is a website that has world building questions on it, for those setting their novel in a fantasy world. (And I am.) They're good things to think about when building a world. And, as was pointed out, you can also use them even if your novel isn't set in a fantasy world. Even if the novel is set in the real world, you still need to know the answers to those same questions.

~Probably one of the most helpful things was just the reminder that most people's rough drafts aren't very good. I was getting frustrated that mine seemed to have so many problems, so it was good to hear published novelists say that their earliest drafts have lots of holes and problems in them too. There is hope for mine--it's just going to take a lot of work. But that I can handle. I can work hard. Especially when it's something I enjoy doing so much.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

My New Blog

It's pretty simple because I did it myself, and I'm still not completely finished with it, but I am pretty excited about my new website: Take a look at it and tell me what you think. What could I do better, what do I need to add, what do you like about it?

Many thanks to my amazing husband who spent a lot of time helping me get it online.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

An Article in Publishers Weekly

Two exciting things happened today--I got another positive review from School Library Journal. Yay! I also got a copy of Publishers Weekly in the mail from my editor. The date on it is September 10, 2012, just in case you want to go look for one so you can read the article about A is for Musk Ox! Yup. There's an article about my book in PW. Okay, so it's not just about my book, but my book plays a big part in the article. And I'm even quoted as saying some highly intelligent things, if I do say so myself. Well, maybe not highly intelligent, but I don't think I sound too stupid either, which is something I was worried about.

The article is called Two of a Kind: Synchronicity in Children's Publishing.

In March of 2012, a book called Z is for Moose by Kelly Bingham was published. And, especially in the description, my book and that book are similar. In Z is for Moose, a moose tries to sneak into the alphabet book before his appropriate time and a zebra tries to keep everything in order. In my book, A is for Musk Ox, a musk ox takes over the alphabet book and a zebra (again) tries to keep things straight. I think it's especially interesting that in both books it's a zebra that tries to maintain control.  But, as the article quotes Paul O. Zelinsky (the illustrator of Z is for Moose), the books "seem much more the same in description than in reality." Which is really true.

How did I feel when I found out about Z is for Moose? Well, I wish A is for Musk Ox had been first. But I've gotten used to the idea and I'm just excited for mine to come out now. I'm also nervous. Like I said in my last post, I still worry about rejection. What if no one likes it?

I have a copy of Z is for Moose and it is a fun picture book. (Though not quite as fun as A is for Musk Ox, if you want my completely un-biased opinion. Okay, maybe just an eensy-bit biased.) I do think that both books together could be used as a fun way to teach children how to compare and contrast two different things. So you should probably buy a copy of both. Although you'll have to wait until October 16th to get A is for Musk Ox. (That's less than a month away, I'm so excited!)

Anyways, that's my exciting news for the day.

Update: Here's a link to the article.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Another Book Review and Thoughts on Rejection

First of all, my book was reviewed by Publishers Weekly. This time the review was all positive, so that was nice. Of course, it wasn't as positive as I thought it should be--not once did they mention that it's the Best. Book. EVER!!!! But overall I was happy with it. They did say my musk ox was megalomaniacal, which for some reason I thought was funny. Probably because it's such a funny word. It is true though. My musk ox is delusional about his own importance. That's what makes him such a fun and funny character. He was fun to write too.

One thing I've found interesting since I've started admitting to people that I like to write books is that there are a lot of people out there who dream of writing and publishing a book. And yet, not so many people actually do that. I think one reason is time. It's hard to sit down and write a book. It takes a lot of time. And then it takes more time to edit it. And then it takes even more time to send it out to publishers/agents.

But I think another reason why people don't get published is because it's so hard to deal with rejection. It gets really discouraging when you send out your manuscript and it comes back in its SASE with a form rejection. And after a few of those, people just get discouraged and stop trying.

I got lots of rejections. So many, I lost count long ago. But I kept writing and kept sending out stories and eventually I found some one who wanted to represent my story and she found some one who wanted to publish it. YAY!!!!

I kind of thought my worries about rejection would go away then. After all, I have an agent, I have a book deal.

But it doesn't! Now I'm worried about book reviewers rejecting my book. I'm worried about readers rejecting my book. I'm worried about publishers rejecting my future manuscripts. I'm worried about Goodreads and Amazon reviews. Gah! Sometimes I wonder why I wanted to get my book published in the first place. But at those times I just go to my bookshelf, pull my book off the shelf, hold it, and marvel that I wrote it. And then I know.