The Blind-Faith Method.

December 24, 2010 § 12 Comments

There are plenty of tips on how to write good fiction, as if story were a kit waiting to be assembled.

Many of those tips are helpful, but they belong in the tool box of the critic/editor that resides in the brain of every writer.  Rational thought and time-tested technique come in handy when tinkering with a wobbly first draft.

At least for me, the first draft must be embarked upon with the faith of Icarus trusting a pair of wings made of feathers and wax.

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The writer’s retreat.

November 19, 2010 § 16 Comments

Once a year we sequester ourselves in a house overlooking a white sand beach on the Gulf to peer uninterrupted through the windows of our stories-in-progress.

Because we are women,  we know we are stealing these days.  We justify our selfishness by staring without blinking at the page or screen in front of us.   The incoming tide and the day ablaze with a yellow fall sun will not distract us from our stories, stories, stories.

It is my job as writer in residence to be an objective reader and to help with the craft  of writing, but it is hard to remain detached as I am inhabited by the other womens’ stories.

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In love with words.

October 10, 2010 § 1 Comment

When I was young I kept a list of my favorite words.

Some, like shimmer, freckle, dazzle, thump, rustle, were there because of the way they turned on a quick visual image or made a sound.

Others made the list because I liked the way they felt in my mouth: trousers, hollyhock, drainpipe.

A few sounded like what they meant: bubble, wash.

Words remain my constant companions and friends.  They are my way out of my own head and into yours—and vice versa.

I still make word lists.  Sometimes I  collect words that come out of a particular profession.  The first book I ever wrote had a character who spent years with a small traveling circus, or what is known more descriptively in the business as, “a mud show.”

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The last of the Vaudevillians.

September 29, 2010 § 2 Comments

Bill Harley, a fellow children’s book author, sat across a Formica table from me in a restaurant in Kern County, California.  “We are the last of the vaudevillians,” he said.

Like those old time entertainers we take our show to our audience (the audience that wants to hear how we write our books doesn’t drive).  So we drive to them, or fly.  I’ve even taken the Greyhound.

Although it’s the world’s best job, being a traveling author is not as glamorous as you might think.

I’ve gotten lost in an all-cabbage landscape in Georgia, broken three teeth on a school lunch, been upstaged by a dog wandering through my presentation, and had my fee paid out of the proceeds from an eighth grade beauty pageant (eighth grade beauties want world peace too).

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