Monday, June 30, 2008

On Location

My work-in-progress takes place in the town where I grew up. Pretty, isn't it? The water is the Pacific Ocean, specifically the Santa Monica Bay. The same coastline is shown in the top picture of the sidebar.

This house is similar to the imaginary one where my protagonist lives. It is built into the side of a hill with only the garage showing from the street. Most of the rooms have views of the ocean.

Early morning fog. Chapter 3

White stone stairs where protagonists runs. Chapters 3 and 33

The lights of Los Angeles. Chapters 2 and 15

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Overheard #14

"It'll be fun. Trust me."

I'm Back

It's back to reality and back to work. We had a terrific vacation. The body surfing was wonderful. We visited the town where my work-in-progress takes place, and while I had little time for writing, I tried to absorb as many details as possible. I'll blog about that later.

The photo shows my family on the way to the beach. (I'm the short one.)

Friday, June 20, 2008

Thursday, June 19, 2008


Have you ever wondered how creativity works? Bob and Michele Root-Bernstein have a new blog about creativity called Imagine That!

Robert and Michele Root-Bernstein are also coauthors of

Sparks of Genius: the 13 thinking tools of the world's most creative people

(Houghton Mifflin, 1999)

To read more about Sparks of Genius, click here.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Descriptions and Hooks

Tonight's Write Night exercise was designed by Tim Bogar. We started with a picture from a magazine. Then we were asked to write a one-sentence description, a two-sentence description and a four to six sentence description of the picture. Finally we wrote a paragraph including description and a hook (something that would make a reader want to continue reading).

The first set of pictures were of scenery. The second was people and the third buildings. Some of our efforts were moving or funny. Others needed more work/thought. Personally, I found the hook for a non-peopled picture of scenery the most challenging.

I Get a Charge Out of You

Here are some electrons that are seriously misplaced. A Japanese firm, will soon market a 15-inch robotic girlfriend that kisses on command.

While I find this idea disturbing, a tiny female robot could play a hilarious role in a YA novel. Maybe next time.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Overheard #13

"If you give 100%, you can get better and learn it right. If you give 95%, it’s good exercise."

Sunday, June 15, 2008

A Rose Is A Rose...

Photo by Z.F. Burton

This was too pretty to postpone until next Sunday.


Photo by Z.F. Burton

Words of Wisdom

I collected these tidbits at yesterday's SCBWI-MI conference.

"Dare to look at life and story on a slant." -- Patricia Gauch

"Don't ever throw something away you have worked on." -- Sarah Cloots

"Complaining is a big part of my process." -- David Small

"I want us all to slow down to andante." -- Sarah Stewart

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Day Before the Conference

Back in the days when I was a Regional Co-Advisor for SCBWI-MI, the week before any conference was harried with last minute arrangements. Still, I tried to spend at least some of the day before the conference writing. Initially, I was trying to figure out why I was doing all this stuff. I wanted to write books not plan events. Quickly, I discovered that taking some time for me and my project changed my frame of mind, inspired me to work harder for the conference, and helped me approach the event with a peaceful mind.

Nowadays, I don't plan conferences. (Yippee!) I did spend some time writing today. And so, I am looking forward to tomorrow's conference with a greater appetite.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Lazy Days of Summer

Anybody seem 'em?

The next couple weeks are over-scheduled beyond the limits of sanity. Not a week has past since my post about free time and revising my manuscript. I should probably write, "Don't Panic in large friendly letters on the cover" of my calendar.

In a couple weeks, we go on vacation. Maybe I can be lazy and dazed then.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Overheard #12

"Doubt is my strong suit … I think."

Monday, June 9, 2008

Pondering the Fifth Draft

It doesn't have to be perfect; it just has to be better than the fourth.

Facts and Questions

An Abundance of Katherines
I have read several books about gifted kids. John Green is the first author I’ve encountered to differentiate between the sort of intelligence that memorizes facts and the sort that asks questions then seeks the answers. It's fine to know lots of things, but ultimately, problem-solving is more useful.

Sunday, June 8, 2008


Photo by Z.F. Burton

Saturday, June 7, 2008

A Little Help from My Friends

At today’s critique group, my brilliant friends suggested a new approach for my revision. In recent posts, I’ve been whining about having to give up Ryan and how his absence deflates other characters. Now I know how to fill this void.

I had toyed with this concept earlier, but the idea was under-developed. It needed to be expanded or removed. As the expression goes, “I had to fish or cut bait.” I opted to cut bait because enough was going on in the novel without this conflict. Now the novel has room for this subplot and a decided need for it.

Thanks, guys. Time to fish.

Overheard #11

"I see that your wisdom in this matter is great."

Friday, June 6, 2008

Last Day of School

Three months of no homework! Perhaps more accurately, three months of me not having to inquire about homework. On second thought, I'll probably have to persuade the younger one to practice guitar and tuba, and the older one to apply to college. Piece of cake.

They don't need me to accompany them to parks and lakes anymore. If the older gets his driver's licence, I won't even have to be a chauffeur. Could it be that I will have some extra time? Could it be that I will finish revising my novel?

Hard Work

Reading Like a Writer
a guide for people who love books and for those who want to write them

by Francine Prose

Harper Collins, 2006

I read this book. I learned from this book. I wanted to love this book. And so, during the hours I spent studying it, I endeavored to be an artsy.

But I am not.

Thursday, June 5, 2008


Memory is a strange thing. Some ideas stick with the tenacity of superglue, others float away like dandelion fluff.

Nearly every day my mother inquires if my younger son is “still interested in music,” and then she asks, “What is your older boy’s name?”

She cannot remember my brother’s profession, although he has been a Los Angeles County Sheriff for decades. One day, she asked me to write sheriff on her tablet, so she could recall his job when I’m not visiting. Sheriff is a word I have trouble spelling. Are there two Rs, two Fs, or both? Is there just one I, and, if so, where does it go?
“How do you spell sheriff?” I asked.
“S-H-E-R-I-F-F,” she said.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Good News

About half of my current draft is complete. I've cut 4,287 words (almost a 12% reduction).

Removing Ryan

I am in the process of eliminating a character from my novel. Yes, he and his subplot have to go. But something will have to replace him.

Ryan added a layer of uncertainty. Other characters couldn’t figure out who he was and what he was doing. And Ryan had his own agenda up his sleeve.

Good dialog is like a game of Clue. Players try to figure out what others know without revealing their own secrets. Taking Ryan out of the manuscript causes several players tip their hands. Too much becomes obvious.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Fun Book

Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village

illustrated by Robert Byrd

Three cheers! Using this book in a classroom would be a kick and a half.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Overheard #10

"There's nothing but fear stopping you."

Air Time

Photo by Z.F. Burton

This Tae Kwon Do Tournament is one of the reasons why I haven't been blogging much lately. My sons competed; I volunteered. I worked at concessions: 300 hungry martial artists and their families wanting pizza, hot dogs, muffins, donuts and beverages.

The daring young man breaking two boards with a flying side kick is my older son.

Next weekend, I have two volunteer opportunities for football, then I have a break until school starts.


Photo by Z.F. Burton