Monday, May 21, 2007

More Wisdom from the Conference Notes...

Last installment of wisdom from Nancy Mercado: Questions to ask yourself as you work through your revisions.

13. Has what you've been saying been said a million times before?

14. Do your kid characters do real "kid" things? Do they talk like real kids? Think like kids? Act like kids?

15. Do you spend too much time flexing your "author" muscles? (overwriting)

16. Does your opening chapter make sense and come full circle when you've finished the book?

17. Have you left room for your reader? (or have you killed their curiosity by telling them everything already?)

The last few pieces of advice our Yogi gave us (and yes, she did lead a yoga session on the retreat):

1. Have somebody reading your work--critique partners, trusted writer friends, etc. Take the heart of their comments, not necessarily the specifics.

2. Consider whether you need a major overhaul or a minor revision and then begin.

3. Read your work ALOUD. (I do this all the time)

When it comes to cutting things out of your manuscript, consider its purpose. Is it doing its job for the “team” (the story as a whole)? If it moves you or makes you laugh, try to find a way to keep it. But if it just doesn’t work for your current story, cut it and file it for another story.

I hope these tidbits are helpful. I know I'm keeping them close at hand as I tromp through my latest WIP--so close to finished!

Sunday, May 13, 2007


I woke up to a beautiful morning, ushered in by my 6-year-old daughter ever so gently closing the door behind her (instead of slamming it as usual) and tip-toeing over to my bed to say quietly, "Happy Mother's Day, Mama." Then she crawled up and snuggled with us for half an hour. My son was downstairs flipping through the cartoons, patiently waiting for his lazy Mama and Daddy to crawl out of bed.

After a great cuddle, I came downstairs to another sweet kiss and a hug and flopped into my comfy seat on the couch. Then the first present came--a beautiful salmon-colored silk scarf, hand-died by my daughter and wrapped in a stunning watercolor painting, complete with a card decorated with delicately drawn flowers and her own lovely signature. Then...the book. From both my children (with a little help from Daddy!), an amazing book.

Above is a picture of this tremendous book, which in the span of 30 seconds vaulted to the very top of my list of all-time favorites. I spent my formative high school years with Bloom County and Berkeley Breathed, so his work here is even more dear. If you haven't read this gem, you absolutely must.

I really got spoiled this Mother's Day. Flowers, chocolate, a lovely new tea set, and a fabulous breakfast prepared by none other than dear hubby (big snaps to him for the whole plan). Wow! My biggest gift was getting to be a mom in the first place, so this is just icing on the cake.

All you moms out there, enjoy this day and snuggle your buddies close. And beware the Martians!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Pushin' a rock...pushin' a rock...More Revision questions

Here we go again. A few more fabulous questions from Nancy Mercado's session on Revisions:

7. Is your first chapter actually about your main character? Does it set the trajectory for the rest of the novel?

8. Have you shown instead of told? (don't show solely through body more)

9. Do you give us a reason to care about your Main character on the first page?

10. Is your first line exciting enough? Does it grab readers?

11. Are there too many stage directions?

12. Does what you've written make you laugh or cry? (It should!)

So there you go...a few more good questions to guide your revision work. I have just a few more tucked away for another post. I'm still marking finals, so my revisions have been on hold for the last couple of weeks. But tomorrow...

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Come Dance Around the Maypole!

After 3 days at the Waldorf School, Maisie got to join the celebration of May Day. How Beautiful! All the children made crowns out of willow limbs and wove spring flowers into them.

Then we all walked down to the park where the kids grabbed a piece of ribbon and danced around the Maypole, singing songs of Spring.

Already we have seen a difference in our girl...even her friends have noticed. We hit a small bump this morning, however, when she decided she wanted to return to the public school. I think that is mostly spurred on by the Daisy Scout Picnic last night, where she saw her old classmates again. But she has already made friends at her new school, and they are so open and so kind. Ahhhh--Spring!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Revisions? Gotta ask...

As promised, here are a few more tidbits from Nancy Mercado's presentation on revisions. She gave us a list of questions, and I'll post a few to get you started:

1. In a summary, would your book be all action and no Heart? Is there enough
emotional content?

2. Is your book more about a cool idea, or is it a story?

3. Do you have cliches taking up the real estate of your book?

4. Are you taking shortcuts in order to get around your shortcomings as a

5. Do you have a giant information dump anywhere in your book?

6. Do you have a count-down? Is there enough suspense building--what are we
reading to find out?

Ok...start with these six questions and see where you end up.