Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Using Pictures from the Web

I'm not sure what the odds are of someone suing me over pictures on my blog. On the other hand, I'm sure that Roni Loren never thought it could happen to her either. I read her story about being sued over the use of pictures on her blog last week.

Click here to read Roni's story.

It scared me. I've never used a picture with anything but the thought of adding to my own content. I've always credited the website where I grabbed it. But that's not necessarily crediting the photographer. Or getting permission to use it.

As a creative person, I thought about how I would feel if someone used something I created without permission. And I decided to go through and take down any blog pictures that I couldn't credit or use with the creators permission. I opted to leave up book covers and head shots.

I'm not quite done yet. I have over 400 blog posts, so it's taking a bit of time. Many of my blog posts don't have pictures or images, but I'm viewing each and every one.

I've started to keep a library of my own pictures to use on my own blog.

What do you think? What pictures do you use?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Friday, September 14, 2012

Musings on Revision

So I started my formal revision last night of a new middle grade novel. It's actually not particularly new. I started this piece more than two years ago, but it's been floating around in my brain longer than that. It feels really good that it is finally in a semi-finished state.


It's been a jumble of scenes, then it was a jumble of scenes with a loose plot. Finally, it was a jumble of scenes in a novel writing application (YWriter by SpaceJock).

For a long time it was 21K words--not long enough for a novel, even for middle grade. But last spring, I signed up to attend Sarah Aronson's Novel Writing Academy at the NESCBWI conference and I needed to finish it. My personal goal was getting it to 30K. Short, but respectable Middle Grade length.

At the Novel Academy, we did some storyboarding. I'd like to say my story board was lovely and beautiful. It wasn't. But it did give me some ideas to strenghthen my plot--do it, if you haven't. Here is a great post on Story Boarding for novelists--

This summer, I did some more polishing and finally had it ready for a beta reader. Anna Staniszewski (of MY VERY UNFAIRY TALE LIFE fame) offered to read for me! (duh, YES!).

So when I say "formal revision," I mean basically diving into the notes Anna did for me. But, um, it looks like this little book has already had a lot of work, right? I wish I could say I was prolific and fast. But the reality is, this is a slow  process, no matter how you slice it. Throw in some real life, a day job, volunteer commitments, and some other professional writing (I do some freelance nonfiction writing), and it's hard to find time for unfinished projects.

I'm hoping this little novel will be in my agent's hands sometime this fall. In the meantime, I've got to reread this Revision check list by Talia Vance to make sure I get it right.

Whenever I think of giving up, I think of one of Dori's quotes from Finding Nemo. "Just keep swimming."

In this case, I guess it's "Just keep revising."

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Remembering September 11

This is a repost from last year...Hug your kids today.


Of course I remember where I was on September 11, 2001. I spent the day comforting new and returning students at Brandeis University, where I worked at the time.

But I wanted to remember my one and only visit to the World Trade Center.

In January 1987, I had just turned 18. Colleen and I wanted to visit the city. I don't think either of us had ever been. My dad drove us down during Winter break. It was our freshman year in college.

 I had to sit down to take this picture. I think Colleen had to support my back.
 View from the top.
I remember that day so clearly. We had the best time. Lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe. Seeing the Statue of Liberty. My stomach flip-flopping as we rode the elevator all the way up to the visitor's center in the World Trade Center.

And it still absolutely floors me that it's no longer there.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Write with Purpose

I'm one of the leaders of a fifteen-girl Girl Scout troop. We often tell our girls to 'walk with purpose' when we're going somewhere. Head held high, shoulders back, striding forward.

When you walk with purpose, you show the world you mean business. You look people in the eye. You exude confidence. And that's important in today's world.

Do you write with purpose? Do you use words that are strong? Or do you write like a wet noodle using words like was, like, and start.

He started to walk across the street. He was walking across the street.

No. He either walked or he didn't walk.

He walked across the street. Maybe he walked across the street dragging his backpack. Or maybe he dragged his feet as he walked across the street. Or maybe he strolled, or strutted, or marched. Maybe he crawled. Maybe he shouted a curse word as he stumbled into the street. Think about the words you use, and use the ones with purpose. Use the ones that show the emotion of the character.

Every word you use should have purpose. Head held high. Shoulders back. Fingers on keyboard.

Write with Purpose. Using words that are strong. Words that mean something. Words that show your story in living color in black and white on the page.