Friday, October 24, 2014

Overheard #299

"You got the camel’s hump through the eye of the needle, then you discovered the camel was a Bactrian."

Friday, October 17, 2014

Overheard #298

"If you don't feel insecure at a conference, you're probably not doing it right."

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Chaotic Cleome

This is the first year I've tried to grow cleome, and they have been an absolute delight. The close ups seem chaotic to me, but well, it's something different. 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Being Character Smart

At the SCBWI-MI fall conference, I listened to a talk by the brilliant Kristin Remenar on Common Core Standards. One of her slides was about Multiple Intelligences and playing to students’ strengths by appreciating how they learn. Multiple Intelligences include:
Follow this link for detailed descriptions. (Of course, most people have more than one kind of smarts.)

Kris’ talk got me thinking about how I could use character smarts to improve my writing. In every story, the main character must develop new skills, acquire new knowledge, or overcome personal challenges to achieve his or her goals.

Characters do this by learning.

Determining how characters learn allows a writer to enhance character development and strengthen the plot. Suppose a character is a picture-smart artist. If she achieves her goals through an increase in self-confidence that accompanies the refinement of her artistic skills, the novel will ring true. On the other hand, if a self-smart individual, who prefers to work alone, is forced to collaborate with a group of people-smart characters, the story will resound with tension.

What kind of smarts does your protagonist have? How does he or she learn in your story?

Sunday, October 5, 2014


We went for a hike by the Red Cedar River. There isn't much fall color in Mid-Michigan yet, but there were lots of fungi. 
They start looking like this and grow into the bell shapes shown in the top picture.  
This is one of the largest fairy rings I've ever seen. It may be difficult to make out in the picture, but those white shapes that ring that group of trees are all mushrooms. 
a closeup of the mushrooms in the fairy ring

Friday, October 3, 2014

Overheard #297

“We all need to see ourselves in books.”

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Stalled Out

It’s frustrating and discouraging when writing grinds to a halt. Figuring out why can be the first step to restarting the engine.

The internal critic, the anti-muse, the self-doubt is too loud. Stories that exist only in the writer’s imagination cannot be fixed. If I write it, I can improve it later.

Life is happening. Sometimes every ounce of a writer’s creative energy is required to cope with his or her own life so that nothing is left for characters’ lives. I try to calm down, take notes if I can, and remember that life experiences make me a better writer.

Nothing is happening in the story. Not every novel is an action-packed thriller, but writing often stalls when the characters aren’t doing anything. I let them misbehave to jumpstart the story.  

The writer can’t figure out how to solve a problem. If I’ve painted myself into a corner, I go back to the last opportunity for escape and rewrite.

The writer’s subconscious is aware of a problem that the writer’s conscious mind has yet to recognize. I bring the last semi-working chapter to critique group, and their feedback brings the problem to light.