Saturday, April 30, 2011

Z is for Zest

According to, the definition of Zest is:

1. keen relish; hearty enjoyment; gusto.
2. an agreeable or piquant flavor imparted to something.
3. anything added to impart flavor, enhance one's appreciation, etc.

I've watched cooking shows where they add lemon zest--they have a fancy little grater and can just a bit of the zest from the skin of the lemon.

With this final (ish) round of revisions, it's all about the Zest. Just a sprinkle added, to enhance the flavor.

 And I am enjoying making these final adjustments with the heartiest of Zest!

And with that, my friends, I submit my final post for the A-Z Challenge! Whoo-hoo!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Y is for Your Favorite Four on Friday

Four favorite T.V. Shows:

1. X-Files
2. American Idol.
3. Warehouse 13
4. Cake Challenge--okay, I just love watching bakers make art out of cake for money.

This is a weird list. I'm weird. I still miss X-Files.

What are YOUR favorites?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

X is for eXpecto patronum

Only because we're watching the DVD of Deathly Hallows part 1 right now. And I love Ron Weasley. Well, that's not really relevant to patronuses. But I do. Ron rocks.

I'm annoyed because I bought the blueray/DVD combo. I don't have blue ray, only a DVD player. And the DVD version does NOT have the extra scenes or the interviews. Ugh.

According to my patronus is:

The Phoenix, the phoenix is a creature that symbolizes prophetic wisdom, death, and rebirth. This Majestic patronus soars onto the field blanketing your foes in fire and causing devastation to all that oppose it.
Apparently I should be honored to receive this magical creature as my patronus! According to the site, only 27 % from 85590 test takers had this profile!

I like the Phoenix. The patronus test I took on Facebook gave me a squirrel.  Not that I don't like squirrels, but it's just not as cool as a phoenix.

What's your patronus?

Link to it here:

You'll see Ron's Jack Russell terrier patronus knock Neville Longbottom on his rear end.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

W is for Waiting

A-Z Challenge is almost over! I'm so close. Y is scheduled, but I need to write X and Z. Hmmm.

We wait in line. We wait in doctors' offices. We wait for our kids to finish their homework or to get out of an after school activity. Writers wait for responses to queries. We wait for people to read our manuscripts. We wait for rejection. We wait for acceptance.

Writers need to learn patience. There is waiting in every part of the publishing process.

If you can learn to work on new projects during the times you're waiting--or if not a new project, take a walk, start a blog, read a book on the craft of writing, play a word game, volunteer to critique someone else's work, read a new genre.

There will never be a time when you're not waiting for a crit partner, beta reader, agent, editor, publisher, illustrator. But if you can use the waiting time productively, you'll save yourself some craziness.

How do you use your waiting time productively?

Used with permission from Debbie Ridpath Ohi at

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

V is for Value

Value was the first word I thought of for V. And then the words to Barenaked Ladies "One Week" started running through my head.

"Hot like Wasabi when I bust rhymes, big like LeAnn Rimes, cause I'm all about value."  Can't embed this video--but click here to link.

Yeah, that's going to get annoying mid-day. Not that I don't love BNL. I saw them in concert a bunch of years ago. Their early stuff is fantastic. But that's beside the point. :)

Value has been on my mind lately. Thinking about e-books at $.99 and $2.99. And hard cover books at $19.99 and higher. What is a book worth to you?

I don't own an e-reader, so I read a lot of library books. If I really like something, I'll buy the book. The last book I bought? Beth Revis' ACROSS THE UNIVERSE.

Monday, April 25, 2011

U is for Meet Up

If you're in the Central Massachusetts area, please join us at the Westford Grille in Westford, MA on Tuesday, April 26 at 7 p.m.

Authors (published or unpublished), Illustrators, Agents, Editors, Publishers, Librarians, Booksellers. We'd love to see you there.

At our last Meet up in February, we had a lovely time chatting about our work, our writing, our joys and successes. It was a cold night and I hope this time we'll have warmer weather!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

T is for Travel

I've had a great week with family this week--I drove to Richmond, Virginia and then back via Newburgh, New York. I'm glad to be home, but we've had a lovely trip.

I've only had a wee bit of withdrawal from my laptop and my writing. :) I know I'm behind on blog commenting, and I've got a new project to outline. So it's good to be home.

 At Tredeger Iron Works in Richmond, Virginia. These are the cupolas that used to be atop the Virginia State Penitentiary.

Tulips at the Louis Ginter Botanical Gardens.
A happy cookie.

Did everyone else have a good week?

Friday, April 22, 2011

S is for Silly Favorite Four on Friday

Four favorite foods (with a bonus fifth):

1. Ice Cream, hands down. Preferably from Kimball's Ice Cream.
2. Chicken Pad Thai
3. Enchiladas with beans and rice
4. Crab Rangoon
5.  Cheeseburger with Steak Fries, medium well-done.

Nothing healthy. Darn.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

R is for Revision

I've been working on agent revisions for my novel the last few weeks. It's been wonderful, exciting, terrifying, scary, and unbelievable--all at the same time. My novel is 20 times better than it was two months ago. I'm forever grateful to Vickie Motter for her enthusiasm and her suggestions for some necessary additions.

One thing I found really helpful during this round was creating a scene inventory. Organized person, I am not--have I mentioned that before? Sitting down and tracking each chapter, the characters in each chapter, what happens, and the date on which it happens, has been something I've avoided like the plague.

But guess what? Making a scene inventory helped. It helped me add some things into my timeline that needed to be added. It helped me stretch out some drama that needed to be stretched out. It helped me see where I needed to go with several difficult scenes.

I went bare bones--just used an excel spread sheet. But I bet you could get fancy if you needed to. :)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Q is for Quiet

You know the saying slow and steady wins the race?

My motto is go Quietly. But keep going. And going. And going.

Kind of like the energizer bunny. But quieter.

My personality has always been that of the optimist. Glass half-full. Something knocks you down, you pick yourself back up, dust off, and move on. But at the same time, fly under the radar. Quietly.

A-Z Challenge. Wow, Q was hard.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

P is for Pitching

My agent, Vickie Motter, posted something about pitching agents a few weeks ago -- read it here.

To me, doing a live pitch, sounds terrifying. And I made a flip comment on her post. But here's the thing, as Vickie describes it, several comments later:

Though you've bypassed the pitching, you might want to prepare yourself for what comes after. Every time someone asks "What is your book about," THAT'S a pitch. So writers, whether or not you plan to pitch in person to agents or editors, make sure you have a one line pitch ready. Just in case.
Oh. Right.

This happens to me all the time. And I almost always say, well, it's about a girl who plays golf...blah blah blah boring. Holy Cow, I've got to come up with a pitch that I can rattle off--this is the beginning of my marketing! I need to be able to tell people what my book is about. I need a pitch!

I have a log line that I used in my query. But it's a little cumbersome to roll off the tongue. But I need to practice for NESCBWI, because sure as sugar someone will ask me what my book is about...and I'm the best one to tell them.

Monday, April 18, 2011

O is for Odd Man Out

I have this great character in my book who started out as very secondary. In fact, he almost got cut. But in golf, you need a foursome. So he needed to stay.

He's kind of a nerd, and he's definitely the odd man out. But you know what? He rocks the book. And I'm so glad I didn't cut him.

I think I read somewhere that JK Rowling almost killed Arthur Weasley during book five. Ack! I LOVE Arthur Weasley. Arthur dying would have changed the last three books.

Anyone have a character who almost bit the bullet, but ended up kicking butt?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

N is for Nothing

I'm cruising on this A-Z Challenge thing. And now I need to be away from blogger for a week. Hmm. Methinks this challenge might falter this week. Don't worry, I've got all my posts scheduled, but my comments might be lean.

Happy Saturday!

Friday, April 15, 2011

M is for My Favorite on Friday

Four classic favorite books:

1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling
2. The Last Unicorn by Peter Beagle
3. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
4. Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery

Five newer favorites:

1. When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
2. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
3. The Time Travelers by Linda Buckley Archer
4. Across the Universe by Beth Revis
5. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

What are your favorites?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

L is for Linus

Our Brownies loved making blankets for babies this year. We made No Sew Fleece Blankets and donated them to our local Project Linus chapter.

My local rep accepted the blankets and told me the ones we made would be on their way to Japan. I was bawling by the time I made it back to my car. You see, we finished the blankets weeks ago (okay, maybe months), well before the earthquake. I've felt terrible that I haven't had time to drop them off. But now I know they were meant to go to Japan.

It's a great project for little fingers just learning how to tie. Disclaimer: this picture is not one of the ones we made.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

K is for Kris (what else?)

This is a candid from my 8th grade yearbook. I remember them taking it. Writing in class. And annoyed to be interrupted. And how the heck did it get into the yearbook?

This picture was taken 30 years ago. In 1981. Holy Cow do I feel old.

True facts:

I was always a serious student.
My favorite books from that age were Anne of Green Gables, The Black Stallion and Nancy Drew.
I played the flute from the fourth grade to the ninth grade.
But I loved being in chorus more.
I took the bus every day to school until I graduated from high school
I was on my high school yearbook staff my junior and senior years.
The only sport I ever played seriously was golf. I tried out for the boys' golf team my junior year of high school--I didn't make it.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

J is for Juggling

Confession: I'm totally recycling this post from March 14. I've updated it a bit, but still. Don't judge.


I can't actually juggle. I've always envied people who could have three balls in the air at the same time. I'm not even all that good juggling on Wii Fit.

But juggling projects? I'm not half-bad.

I'm juggling two non-fiction projects. Really cool topic. The deadlines for both second drafts are on the horizon. I'm also working on agent-revisions for my novel. Juggling fiction and non-fiction isn't as hard as it sounds (or so I keep telling myself.)

The fiction deadline is getting more immediate even thought I have control over it--I want to get the revisions finished so Vickie can start sending Kate and Scott out into the world. And there's always the daily juggle of life.

How do you juggle everything without looking like an uncoordinated clown?

Monday, April 11, 2011

I is for...Inspiration

Sometimes you research. Sometimes you make it up from scratch. Sometimes you might get inspiration from the most mundane things.

When I was writing THE SWEET SPOT, I mostly relied on my memory for the setting. I remembered the touch and feel of the building and the grounds. The smell of the golf course in the morning. The intangibles. Things I loved and things I hated about growing up on a small golf course in central Massachusetts. I hope I've been able to translate those sensations into words, so my readers will feel like they're there. At my golf course. A golf course that only exists in my memory. The golf course my parents operated when I was a teenager is still there, but it's been completely remodeled and no longer exists in the same way. That big tree on the right? Not there anymore.

When I was working on the final (and I use final loosely here) draft, I came across an old score card dating back to the early 1980s. It gave me the idea to use golf terms for my chapter titles.  And it reminded me of the old building. Just reminiscing here folks. What do you use for inspiration?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

H is for Hiding

One of the things we love to do in Disney World is look for Hidden Mickey's. On napkins, in flower beds, on bathroom tiles, in food. Mickey Mouse is everywhere.

It makes me smile to think of the detail that goes into the planning of hiding Mickey somewhere in a shrubbery, or building, or painting.

There are some inside jokes hidden in my novel. Placed in plain site for a handful of people. Only visible if you know what you're looking for or looking in the right place at the right time.

What do you hide in your writing?

Friday, April 8, 2011

G is for Guest Blogger on A Still and Quiet Madness

Thanks to Anita Howard for having me on her new blog! It's all about people who've had success using

Hop over here to read my guest post.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

F is for Fun things Make Me Smile

Just a fun post. What makes you smile?

1. The first warm day of spring...I think golf is in the air.
2. Random farting by my child and husband--and the way they laugh at each other (don't tell, I'm good at feigning disgust.)
3. The thought of a nice glass of wine (or a warm cup of good coffee) with a friend. And knowing we have time to chat.
4. Talking about writing with my crit group.
5. The feeling of hitting a word count goal.
6. Saturday Night Fever by the BeeGees (c'mon, you have to smile when you hear that song. It's physically impossible NOT to).
7. Chocolate. And this time of year, Cadbury Cream Eggs. Yum.
8. Seeing my daughter play with her cousins.
9. Scratching my mother's kitten's belly.
10. Reading my follower's comments--I love you guys!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

E is for Everyone's Path to Publication is Different

I used QueryTracker to keep track of my agent queries (see my post on Anita Howard's blog on Friday, April 8). It was helpful for me (an unorganized person by nature) to have everything all in one place. I could research agents, read about queries, and note my own query progress.

This article QueryTracker--In Brief: the Path to Publication was posted on Monday, March 28 and written by Carolyn Kaufman. It makes so much sense--and puts all the pieces of the "road" in one succinct post. I encourage everyone who considers themselves a writer to read it!

Everyone's journey is different, but this post is helpful to put all elements of the road to publication in one place.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

D is for Dang Outlining

I know I'm stretching the alphabet here...

For THE SWEET SPOT, I didn't outline. I had a short story that evolved into a longer story and then a novel. The short story is (for the most part) what is now chapters four and five in the novel. It took a long time to fill in the first three chapters and then finish the book. I didn't totally pants the thing--I did some character spreadsheets, and I spent some time writing loglines and synopses (snowflake method, anyone?) But mostly I just wrote.

I outline for nonfiction--and I have a hard time calling the outlining part of the work "writing." But I'm trying to get better at that. Because it's equally as important as the actual writing. For my work-for-hire I'm required to submit an outline before the first draft. And it is supremely important to get that first "go ahead" from the editor. Or "try this here." Or "I'm sure you're going to do this, but don't forget..."

For my next fiction WIP, I'm thinking I need to work more quickly. Five years per novel just isn't going to cut it if I want an actual writing career. Based on the recommendation of Amy Sue Nathan, I picked up FIRST DRAFT IN 30 DAYS by Karen S. Wiesner. It promises to help you craft an indepth outline that can double as your first draft. In. 30. Days.

Having read the first few chapters, at the very least, this book should help with brainstorming basic plot points and character analysis. I'm horrible at organization, so I think it will help me with that as well. As long as I stick with it.

Sticking with it. And really the important part is Butt In Chair, Hands on Keyboard, right? As long as I'm physically writing, whether it's an outline or a stinky first draft, progress is being made.  So sticking with the outline, or changing gears midstream, or pantsing the daylights out of a scene or chapter. It doesn't really matter what method or style you use. As long as it works for you.

Tips for writing the basic outline (and the page I borrowed the graphic from). Very basic outline.

So, show of hands, do you outline?

Saturday, April 2, 2011

B is for Balancing

I've blogged about balance before. And if you missed it, I blogged about balancing golf balls back in May 2010.

 Sometimes I find it hard to balance my life. You get so excited about something new or something hard, you forget to pay attention to the things that are important (read: family, spouse, children, eating--okay forget that last one, I've never forgotten to eat.) But my point is that you've got to find balance in life. I've spent the last couple of weeks on Agent Revisions (and I still ::squee:: when I say that) and finishing up two first drafts of work-for-hire projects. I've been busy. Oh and my "real" job. Sometimes I have to physically remind myself that there are other things going on. Other people doing important things.

Sometimes it takes a little time or effort. But balance is important.

By the way, these are absolutely real. No tricks. Golf ball balanced on top of golf ball. I wish I could do the third one. But I can't.

Friday, April 1, 2011

A is for Award (2nd A today)

I posted an A for April Fool earlier today. But I was touched and honored to receive this Powerful Woman Writer award from Deirdra from A Storybook World. So I wanted to post a second A. A for Award. And Awesomely honored to be considered a Powerful Woman Writer. Thank you Deirdra!

A is for April Fool

I've decided to participate in the A to Z Blogging Challenge. This means I'll be trying to blog every day except Sundays for the month of April.

I don't have the whole month planned out, but I've got some ideas. The real issue is going to be finding the time.

The cool thing is I've already got some posts scheduled. And I think I like most of them. I hope you will, too!

And a shout out to Marcus at Writing Investigated for the "next" and "surprise me" buttons under the A to Z icon on my sidebar. Makes checking out the participants easier!
Used with permission from Debbie Ridpath Ohi at