Sunday, July 29, 2012

Regaining Your Creative Focus

There's been a lot going on these past few weeks. My oldest daughter is moving out. A sixteen-year-old nephew moved in. My husband took a second job. I've been stressed, agitated and unsettled. Even during the times I would usually write, I've been distracted by negativity. As I look back over the week, I recognize some old patterns I've fallen back into, and though I didn't realize it at the time, I think I was trying to find comfort.

I re-read a favorite novel:

I listened to this beautiful song on repeat:

I've even been closing out each day with a favorite childhood bedtime snack:
I also decided to revisit a comfortable writing habit: writing flash fiction and short articles. With my lack of creative focus, I wasn't getting much accomplished on my novel anyway. So I decided to concentrate on several shorter pieces. I wrapped up some projects I had started long ago and I submitted a handful of poems, articles, and essays to magazine markets - something I haven't done since committing to my novel over a year ago. It felt good. I felt productive. And the whole process was like slipping on a comfy old pair of sneakers.

 Which was just what I needed.

A big part of moving forward in life and in this writing business, is about breaking out of our comfort zones. But there's something to be said for revisiting those comfort zones as needed. So right now I'm giving myself permission to take another week off from novel writing. And hopefully I'll emerge calmer, stronger, and more focused as a result.

What do you do to regain your creative focus?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Books with Hooks

How do you feel after you read a really good book? Inspired? Entertained? Satisfied? Depressed? I guess in some ways, it depends a lot on the particular book.

I used to get down on myself after reading a particularly good book, because it made me realize how far off the mark my own writing was. I’d have to go through a bit of a recovery period before I could write again. Thankfully, nowadays, I’m much more inspired by good writing. I can look at it with discerning eyes and find lessons to take away and employ in my own writing.

I’m reading with “hooks” in mind this week. I’ve read When You Reach Me (MG) by Rebecca Stead, and feel lucky to have gotten my hands on Meant to Be (YA) by Lauren Morill, (thanks, Amanda!) I loved both of these and I’ve also started Time Between Us (YA) by Tamara Ireland Stone – another great “hook” book.

I thought my own novel had a hook. But I was settling for this:  

When what I really need is this:  

Or even this:   

Although I consider myself pretty dreadful at analytical thinking, I’m doing my best to learn from these authors. And though I feel like I’ve stretched and pulled my brain like an overworked wad of clay, I think the hook for my own YA novel is starting to take shape. 

Here are some articles on the subject that I found helpful this week:

Do you have trouble coming up with the hook(s) for your book(s)?

Monday, July 9, 2012

It's Awards Time

I received a number of awards this week. Thank you to C. Lee McKenzie for thinking of me for The Booker Award and The Fabulous Blog Ribbon. Thanks also to Laura Sassi for passing along the Kreativ Blogger Award. You've made me smile (and given me something to blog about this week - I was totally blank.)

To receive The Booker Award the blog must be at least 50% about books (reading or writing.) And you must list your five favorite books.

My Five Favorite Books:

Villette by Charlotte Bronte
The Book Thief by Mark Zusak
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
A Patch of Blue by Elizabeth Kata

The Fabulous Blog Ribbon is also about fives.

Five Fabulous Moments:

Becoming a wife
Becoming a mother (twice)
Watching my daughters graduate from college (with honors) after homeschooling them K-12
Celebrating with my husband our 25th wedding anniversary.
That magical moment when a story takes on a life of its own.

Five Things I Love:

Spending time with my family
Sunny Days
Laughing till it hurts
Game Night

Five Things I Dislike:

Making Dinner
Getting Up Early
Form Rejections
Cleaning house when I'd rather be writing

For the Kreativ Blogger Award, I'm supposed to list seven random things about myself, but I think you've heard enough about me for one post.

These are the five people who I want to share these awards with:

Victoria Lindstrom
Ruth Donnelly
Patricia T.
Theresa Milstein
Anne E. Johnson

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Goals, Rewards, and Unwinding

This is what my brain feels like this week:

Photo courtesy of

I don't know if it's the heat, or just letting myself be pulled in too many directions. But in an attempt to unscramble this mess and  regain my focus, I've returned all of the books I had out from the library (they were beginning to feel like distractions) and I'm determined to focus on my picture book revisions. But first, I need to unwind a little. So I've turned on the A/C and watched Jane Eyre (a guilty pleasure) twice this weekend. It was the version with Ciaran Hinds and Samantha Morton, can you blame me?

Of course, I can't watch Ciaran Hinds without remembering him in Persuasion. Perhaps I'll watch that next weekend. . .if I make progress on these revisions.

What's your goal for this week?