Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Kindness Inspires Kindness WINNERS

First let me say a big thank you to everyone who has visited my blog for the first time. Hope to see you around these parts more often.

Second...the winnerS. After entering the names, I threw caution to the wind and let the computer program "The Hat" choose two. I was feeling extra kind ; )

Jewel is the winner of the 500 word critique! Congrats to you.


Donna K. Weaver is the winner of the query critique! Congrats to you.

Email your work to kmwalton1 (at) verizon (dot) net

Be sure to stop back tomorrow to see which Campaigners get their very own SPOTLIGHT right here on my blog.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Crit Giveaway is Now Closed

Good luck to all who entered! I will plug everyone's names into "The Hat" and reveal the winner tomorrow.

WELCOME to all of my shiny new blog followers. Holy wow it is exciting to see all of your new faces in my following section. Hope you continue to stop back.



I plan to do some Campaigner Spotlights around here starting on Thursday. I will be going through my two Campaigner groups and linking up to their blogs - all in an effort to introduce the new guys to some of my tried and true original followers.

THANK YOU to every kind soul who continues to vote for my blog in the Philly's MVB contest. I am blown away by the support. Keep voting every day till 9/9 and you never know - this blog could win. The icon to vote is to your right and it'll take you directly to the voting page.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Kindness


Kindness is important to me and it always has been. I genuinely like being nice to people. I also get the warm fuzzies when people are kind to me. The fuzzies are warmer when said people are complete strangers.

My fuzzies are warm, people, warm I tell you.

Thank you to everyone who has voted and continues to vote for my blog in the Philly MVB contest (the badge is there to your right if you'd like to vote).

Since kindness is the title of this post I'd like to do a Pay It Forward thing here. I'm offering to do either a query critique or the first 500 words of your manuscript critique - your choice. All you need to do is follow my blog and tell me which you'd prefer in your comment. That's it.

I'll use the computer program The Hat to randomly choose a winner Tuesday, August 30th - 5:00 p.m. EST and announce the winner August 31st.

It isn't a requirement to win, but if you spread the word, that would be cool.

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Campaign & Some Votes

Happy Monday morning to you all. Last year I stumbled upon Rachael Harrie's blog and her incredible platform building campaign. I stumbled too late because the campaign was closed. But I jotted down her blog address on a post-it as a reminder to check back for her next campaign.

It launched today and I made it in.

In Rachael's own words, here's a bit about what the campaign is:

Basically, the Campaign is a way to link those of us in the writing community together with the aim of helping to build our online platforms. The Campaigners are all bloggers in a similar position, who genuinely want to pay it forward, make connections and friends within the writing community, and help build each others' online platforms while at the same time building theirs.

I look forward to getting to know some new writers!
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My second item of business this morning is where I ask (read: beg) you for your help. My younger sister nominated my blog for a local blog contest called Philly MVB - most valuable blog. The contest is open and this is where I ask you for your help.

Voting.

You can vote once a day from now until September 9th. Any votes you can throw my way would be wonderful. If you jump in and do the "vote once a day" thing, I would truly appreciate your time and help.

Just click on the badge below and it'll take you directly to the voting page. Obscene amounts of appreciation to you fine people for voting, votng more than once or tweeting/FB about voting.


Friday, August 19, 2011

Comfortable Silence

I dropped my oldest off at his high school orientation yesterday and I cried as I watched him walk into the building. It was the same feeling I had as I watched him climb the steps onto the bus when he was five. I cried both times. I don't like letting him go. But this post isn't about that - it's about something else.

So, as I pulled away from the high school my younger son said, "Mom, let's go out to breakfast." We went to a local diner, and as I took my seat I instantly noticed an older married couple across the way. They were both plump with grey hair. One sipped cranberry juice, the other iced tea. And they sat quietly. As my ten-year-old chattered away about his new backpack and summer reading, I kept lifting my eyes to steal glances at them. They looked so comfortable being quiet. So at ease.

In between my bites of creamed chipped beef over a Belgian waffle, my brain churned. Sometimes, when we're writing dialogue, it's okay to let our characters not respond - to be silent. This is something I learned from the genius that is my agent, Sarah LaPolla. One of her line edit notes: don't have her answer - let his question hang. She was right, as usual.

She also taught me how to lessen the "ping pong dialogue" throughout my manuscripts. When I wrote my first book, I wrote my dialogue exactly how a conversation would go in real life. I had characters going back and forth and back and forth - many, many lines of dialogue were completely unnecessary in moving my plot forward, and instead, bogged it down.

We obviously need dialogue in novels. The question is: how much? I challenge you to go through your WIP and cut the extraneous dialogue. Tighten it up. Ask yourself: does this character exchange serve the story? Is it necessary?

Perhaps some time in a diner with an iced tea and your WIP, lost in comfortable silence together?


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I Can't Believe

I can't believe summer is almost over.

I can't believe I am about to be the mother of a freshman in high school.

I can't believe how many bandaids I've gone through to stop myself from picking my fingers. It is futile.

I can't believe how many times I've watched Radiohead's studio session on Palladia. Let's just say it's a lot.

I can't believe how much critiquing I've done this summer.

I can't believe how ice cream trumps fruit. Every time.

I can't believe how many books I've read this summer. 5 novels and 3 manuscripts.

I can't believe how much I loathe putting on mascara.

I can't believe how much I love this:


:

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Liebster Blog Award

It's been a while since I've received a blog award and thanks to Sarah at the The Long Ride Home I have been nominated for the Liebster Award! The goal of the award is to spotlight bloggers with 200ish or less followers. 


I'd like to spread some Liebster love to:

Hayley Lovell
Ron Smith
JEM
Kelly Lyman
Kathi Oram Peterson

The Liebster Award guidelines:

1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you.

2. Post the names/links of those you'd like to forward the award to, and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.

3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.

Thanks again, Sarah.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Soul Surfer

Life is hard sometimes. We all know this. "Hard" comes in many flavors and varieties. You strike out in the bottom of the 9th and lose the game. You get another rejection on a full request. Your car gets totaled. Someone you love dies. All difficult to face.

How about getting your arm chomped off by a shark? I'm sure we can all agree on one thing: that is way up there on the "hard" list.

The real Bethany Hamilton
 My family wanted to rent a movie and we went back and forth between renting Rio or Soul Surfer. By a stroke of fate, Rio wasn't out On Demand yet, so Soul Surfer it was. I knew the general premise of Bethany Hamilton's incredible story: talented young surfer gets her arm bitten off by a shark and lives. What I was completely unprepared for was twofold:

1. The way the Hamilton family worked together as a team to overcome the tragedy. Rather than crumbling into dust, they leaned on each other, put their heads together as a family unit and became each others strength.

2. The introspection of Bethany Hamilton blew my mind. The way she worked her way through the horrible and heartbreaking moments astonished me over and over again.

So, if anyone out there is in need of a serious dose of inspiration, rent Soul Surfer.

If you want to see her real life documentary instead of the Hollywoodized movie version, you're in luck because it exists. It's called Heart of a Soul Surfer and it has won all sorts of awards and accolades.

Monday, August 1, 2011

THE TOP 5 THINGS I WISH I KNEW BACK IN 1993

Even though I wrote my first picture book manuscript* back in 1993, I'm still wet behind the ears at this whole "professional writer" gig.

However.

I have learned a few important things along the way, and in an effort to pay it forward, I'd like to share.

My TOP 5 THINGS I WISH I KNEW BACK IN 1993:

5. Read what you write--like obscene amounts. Read so much of what you write that your television gets dusty.


Why this is so important: It keeps your writing fresh and relevant and on point--genre wise. It's like a free writing workshop with the professionals in your genre.

4. Don't stop at one book (or short story, or article, or whatever it is you write). Keep writing and writing and writing and writing.


Why this is so important: The odds are that the first book you write won't be the one to get you published. I know it happens, but it's not prevalent. So get going on your second "thing" and don't look back.

3. Get very used to revising. In other words, publishing professionals (agents & editors) are going to have you kill your darlings and sometimes its a bloody damn mess.


Why this is important: Back before I had an agent or an editor I used to get defensive about my writing. These were my people and my story and I knew them best. Letting the critiques in and truly listening to what is being suggested can only make your writing stronger. HOWEVER, be very careful who you "let in" and always trust your gut.

2. Social networking is great, but human contact is better. Everyone and their dog is online. We know this. I'm online so much my husband is jealous of my laptop. But the real networking payoff comes when you network in person, when you step away from the computer and meet other writers face-to-face. There's a certain, oh, magic in it.


Why this is important: While I'm sure the reasons are obvious, I'd like to add my number one reason for making human connections: it puts a face/smile/laugh/story to the online handle. That can't be beat.

1. Publishing moves slow. I now understand why. Reading and editing take extraordinary amounts of time (we know this as writers). Agents and editors are plain old human beings--they can only stay awake for a certain amount of hours in a day. As far as I know, robot agents and editors haven't been developed yet ; )


Why this is important: During my query journey I got frustrated with the molasses-like-time frames of publishing, believe me. I may have even lost it on occasion. We writers are human as well. But I've recently come to understand the slowness. We all know agents get tons of query letters. We all know agents ask for partial and full requests. But what I failed to consider back when I was querying was the amount of reading an agent must do on behalf of her clients. Let me just say, LOTS. And reading takes time. The same goes for editors. They not only read a manuscript once or twice--more like, my editor read CRACKED as many times as it took for us to get it right. I'll say it again, reading takes time. And when you're reading for editing or revising purposes it is a much slower read. I don't know why this personal revelation didn't come to me sooner. It's rather obvious.

Hopefully these five things I've learned along the way will help someone out there.

*that picture book manuscript was queried a few times back in '93 but remains unpublished. Thank God. I do, however, pull it out every once in a while for a good laugh.