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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Distractions from writing outside my window

Everyone wants a writing office with a window with a nice view, right?

And that makes sense. Who wants a crummy view, or worse, no view at all? But that nice view can have its downside when trying to concentrate.

I mean, who can't help but pause when seeing the 5-year-old from across the street is learning to ride her new two-wheeler? Dad holds the back of the bike, girl peddles happily. Girl notices Dad is no longer holding onto the back of the bike. Girl panics momentarily, wobbles, then peddles harder. Girl realizes she can do it on her own! Now that was worth a break from writing.

Birds are good distractions, too. It's always fun to spot a finch or flicker or woodpecker coming to the feeder. Their chirps and colors brighten any day. One blue jay likes to peck at the roof of a small popout addition that I can see from my window. Even if I couldn't see him, I can hear him!

The weather can be a distraction, regardless of what it is. A beautiful blue sky can trigger daydreaming. A few snowflakes in an area where it rarely snow sparks excitement. It's easy to take notice of even the rain. It's raining so hard! Or, ah, rain, we've been needing some rain. Or, rain? Again?

I suppose I could pull the shade, or place my desk where I can't see the window. But what fun would that be? Sometimes a little distraction is just what I need to return to my writing full of energy and inspiration.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Turning Points in My Life as an Author

People often talk about THE turning point in their lives, but I feel I have had several when it comes to writing.
Some will sound small, others large, but to me they are all important.

One of the first "turning points" came early on when one day the (all too common) form rejection letter for a short story arrived, but scrawled at the bottom was "Sorry, nice effort," followed by the initials of the editor. Now, that may not sound like much, but editors are very busy people and they don't take time to write on every rejection!

Not too much later I got a note that was a couple of sentences long from the same editor on another story I had submitted. Needless to say, I kept trying at that magazine! Unfortunately, I never did sell to that editor or that magazine, but it kept me going.

Then there was the day I received a letter in response to a status query I'd sent about a short story. Instead of the by then usual rejection it was a "mea culpa" for "taking so long" and the news that my story had been accepted!

The next occasion came absolutely unexpectedly. I had sent off a manuscript for a novel on a Thursday and Tuesday I got a phone call. Yes, it was an offer to publish! Talk about a major turning point! That was "Practice Makes Perfect," published by a YA imprint of Harlequin. The book has since been reissued by HSWF as "Summer Replacement."

Since then, EVERY sale has felt like a turning point. The second book felt like validation that the first book was not a fluke. I have never taken subsequent story and book sales for granted. They are all turning points, because in the world of publishing there are no guarantees.

So keep an eye out for those first, small turning points. You never know where they'll lead.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Read to your kids on Day One!

When I do booksignings at fairs and other events, I find something interesting happens when I try to pitch my books for younger children to parents who are strolling by with a child who is one, two or three years old. Too often they say something along the lines of, "Oh, he/she is too young for books!"

I, of course, smile and respond that kids are never too young to be read to. Sadly, I usually don't convince *those* parents. Fortunately, grandparents often stop by and get books for their grandkids. I have books that aunts, uncles and grandparents gave to me when I was just a baby, then a toddler, and so on as I grew up. I loved those books back then and I love them now.

The more words babies hear, the more language they will develop. The more young children read, the more they will learn correct spelling, grammar, etc. Now, I confess, I didn't start reading to my daughter on Day One. We were both too exhausted. :) But I started soon after that. She loved listening to me and gazing at the colors in the pictures. She loved being read to so much, that my husband and I kept reading to her until she was ten, even though she'd been reading herself well before that.

Reading to your children establishes literacy as a priority at home and at school. Reading is one of the best (and most fun) things parents can do for their children.