Thursday, July 30, 2009

Young Folk BookFest

This year's Great Lakes Folk Festival at Michigan State University will also feature the Young Folk BookFest. Several terrific Michigan authors and illustrators will speak (schedule here), and the "Michigan Reads!" winner will be announced.

This all takes place on August 8 & 9 at the Young Folk BookFest tent, located on Abbot Road at Albert Avenue in East Lansing, MI.

Not only that, they used a picture of Science is Golden on the poster.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Another Dryad

The old man in the tree.

Photos by me.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Overheard #67

"I laugh in the face of optimism."

Monday, July 27, 2009

Wonderful Writing Retreat

The World's Greatest Critique group spent last weekend on a writing retreat at Topliff's Tara B&B. In the picture, the gentleman holding the llama (Gus Pacho) is Don Topliff who with his wife, Sheryl, run the bed and breakfast and raise llamas. The other people in the picture are Buffy Silverman, Tim Bogar, Lori Van Hoesen, Debbie Diesen, me, Kay Grimnes, and Ruth McNally Barshaw. Next year's photo will also include Amy Huntley and April Young.

They had a baby llama named Fergie who had an itch when I snapped that photo.

The moth is a "bird poop moth" also known as a beautiful wood nymph or pearly wood nymph. How's that for mimicry? Tim identified the moth and provided the link.
I spent the weekend among great friends and shared much laughter and a little wine.
I made some progress revising TAoCBS and figured out how much more there is to do.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


Photo by me.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

My Poll

What do you do when you're sick of your work-in-progress?

Thanks to everyone who voted in my poll. I received a variety of answers, probably because different problems require different solutions. My approach was to persevere with CBL and finish the stylistic changes, then put it aside for a few days. During that time, I got a great idea, for one scene at least.

Today I leave on a writing retreat. I hope to tweak the beginning of CBL before I leave, then focus on TAoCBS while I'm away. I have the comments of three critique group members to ponder.

I scheduled this week's Sunday picture to appear, and I hope it will. Blogger can be willful. By the way, Jeremy calls my Sunday series "naturey things".

And speaking of Blogger's willfulness, I could not move the poll to the post column. Not to be thwarted, I copied it into PowerPoint, saved it as a JPEG then imported it as a picture. Thus, the resolution is terrible. I'm sure someone will tell me a better way to do this.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Tomorrow, the World's Greatest Critique Group leaves for a writing retreat. A couple members won't be able to attend this year, and I miss them already. We'll be joined by a talented writer who isn't in our group. I am looking forward to tackling the many problems in TAoCBS.
Here, here and here are posts about last year's retreat.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Overheard #66

"Mythological genetics are not bound by Punnett Squares."

Monday, July 20, 2009

My Father's Secret War

My Father's Secret War
a memoir

by Lucinda Franks

Hyperion Books, 2007

I added this book to my Lazy Person's Reading Group list because I thought it would complement the other spy books I've been reading. I learned much about covert operations during World War II, but for me, the important lesson involved character development.

Lucinda Frank's father, Thomas Franks, was a spy for the US Navy during WWII, a fact not known to his family or friends. Like many soldiers returning from WWII, Tom Franks hoped to forget the atrocities he'd witnessed and refused to speak of them. In addition, he'd been ordered to secrecy. His daughter, Lucinda Franks, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, wheedled parts of the story out of him, battling his reticence and age-related memory loss.

I was taken by this quote that ends a description of a family Thanksgiving dinner.
"Chatter and clatter and wine corks popping and everything is normal except that the quiet, unassuming gentleman pushing in the chairs of the women has taught people to kill in cold blood."

Many characters harbor secrets, and how they choose to conceal them provides a goldmine for writers.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Friday, July 17, 2009

Helpful Suggestion

Me: This revision is wearing me out.
Jeremy: You could throw in a puppet show.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

My First Poll

This blog doesn't have many readers. I appreciate each and every one of you MORE THAN YOU KNOW.

I have hesitated to post a poll because it would be embarrassing if no one voted. Please enter your choices. Someone? Anyone?

The astute reader will have divined that I am sick of CBL. I started CBL a long, long time ago. I've done lots of other things while writing it. I cared for an elderly mother, wrote another YA novel (TAoCBS), saw one son into high school and the other one out of high school. Recently, I had sort of a revision request for CBL, so I need to love this manuscript again and love it quickly.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Overheard #65

"There are two reasons for doing pushups. They make your arms stronger, and they give you a chance to think about what you did wrong."

Sunday, July 12, 2009


Photo by me.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Mutterings of a Madwoman

TAoCBS is off at summer camp, visiting the homes of my critique group members. Yesterday I had a hilarious conversation with a young man who had seen the manuscript on his mother's desk and was intrigued by the title. He will be in 5th grade next year, and his mother and I agree that TAoCBS (a younger YA novel) is a tad old for him. Just try to talk an articulate, persuasive and intellectual kid out of reading a book. I dare you. My efforts failed so dismally that I'm almost tempted to try this reverse psychology in my next query letter.

I have embarked on an in-depth revision of CBL, focusing on writing style. It's slow going. I've been reading each chapter out loud to check flow and pacing. My sons' friends must hear me mumbling in the bedroom and think I'm wacko.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Overheard #64

"You can gain wisdom, or at least experience."

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


This fellow graces a yard near the local library. I currently have a few stumps and logs at my disposal. I were so inclined, I could create an entire population of these creatures.

Or not.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Freshmen Orientation

thirteen years ago
the boy in red shorts
turned back, eyes wide,

before the Kindergarten bus

today he strode away,
long-fingered hand
raised in casual farewell,
looking ahead

Sunday, July 5, 2009


Photo by me.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Background Noise

Several years ago, our neighbors had a sweet, but lonely dog who barked constantly. During that time, canine characters appeared unplanned and unexpected in my manuscripts.

This morning I wondered if music could have a similar subliminal effect. Could serene background music produce a flowing writing style? Would staccato marches inspire short snappy sentences? What about dynamics, piano vs. fortissimo? Of course the results would be skewed if the writer knew of the experiment, so I started to design a double-blind study.

Then I realized I should get back to my revisions. In silence.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Lazy Person's Reading Group - July Update

It’s the beginning of July, and here’s an update on my Lazy Person’s Reading Group list.
So far, I’ve finished three books. I don’t usually review books on my blog because many other blogs do that so well, but here are my impressions.

1. A book of fiction you've been looking forward to reading.
The Grail Quest series by Bernard Cornwell. (The Archer's Tale, Vagabond, and Heretic). Okay, that's three books, but I am looking forward to them.
Although this novel is not my favorite of the Bernard Cornwell books, I learned a tremendous amount about the beginning of the Hundred Years War, including the capture of La Roche-Derrien, the battle of Crécy and the destruction of Caen.

8. A book that has recently received rave reviews.
I'd Tell You I Love You But Then I'd Have To Kill You by Ally Carter. I see this mentioned everywhere.
This is a fun read about a spy-training academy for that masquerades as an exclusive girls’ boarding school. Carter lures the reader with an intriguing voice then cranks up the tension bit by bit.

11. A book recommended by your hairdresser or barber.
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. The woman who cuts my hair says this is great.
If you’ve ever dreamed of running away with the circus, read this book. I enjoyed the way the novel shifted between the story of a prohibition-era circus and the current life of the protagonist in an assisted living facility. (Some of the nursing home scenes hit close to home.) I’m not a fan of starting a book at the climax then going back to tell the story, but I’ll forgive that technique this time.