Monday, November 27, 2017

NaNoWriMo, Scrivener Update and 2017 wrap up

NaNoWriMo 2017


Yay!

It only took 2 weeks this summer to write it and about 15 days this November to complete a full first edit. I am feeling really good about my big WIN!


The story is out to readers (4), one of whom is already giving me great feedback. So, the next edit might actually start today.

Scrivener

I like it.  I am not that comfortable with it, but I can totally see continuing to use it IF, I continue to write novels.  I can see it's potential for Picture Books, but I have a system down now that I really love and no need to change it.

Having lost an entire novel, over 10 years ago to a computer crash, I love that everything is backed up, constantly. I love the chapter break outs, the sticky note/cork board feature.  Moving items around, took a little getting used to, but was doable.

If I were to continue to use Scrivener, I would takes some more tutorials.  I know that it has a lot more to offer.  So yes, it's a great tool and one I would recommend. 


Now, wrapping up for 2017-
A few items.  Please, support literacy.  Make sure to check out EGG at the SCBWI's Book Stop.


 

2017 Wrap Up

This year my first Picture Book EGG was published.  Here are my take aways from the process.

My first take away- There is huge validation when publisher believes in your work.  It is a major boost to the overall soul crushing day to day life of an author.  I don't think that changes, ever (the soul crushing or validation).

It does not matter if the press is a small press or a large press. Even though,  I am sure having a contract with a large press (with $$$ behind it) is in fact more fun.  But, any time someone out there says, "I love it!  I really get your voice! I want your story!" the world slows down and feels, right.

So, I had that this year.

Working with a small press and being in daily communication with my publisher and illustrator has been a dream.  I love the creative unfolding of styles that organically happens.  And, I love that I was given a voice in the final outcome/product.

And, I can't wait to get to the next phase with the second book.  Hopefully soon.

My second take away- Rejection hits you constantly, be able to roll with it.  Sure, some rejection hurts more than others. Have a good cry, then move on.  Ultimately it is about writing, loving what you are doing and creating joy/emotional connection for your readers.

My third take away- This is HARD work.  Since I have no idea what it's like to go with a bigger publisher only a small one I can tell you that YOU, are going to work your butt off.  It is up to YOU to get your name out there (this includes awards/contests).  So, be prepared to do a ton of marketing.  A TON.

My fourth take away- Don't let marketing your book take over your life.  Make sure you still have time to write.  After all, that is the LOVE part of the process, the creating.

My fifth take away- Even though public speaking is stressful, it can be fun.  School visits are the best.  Even if you have to double up your deodorant (Have I mentioned how hard public speaking is for me?)  It boils down to, Kids are wonderful. Kids are magic and seeing the lights come on in their eyes and faces when you are taking them to a new world-THAT IS THE BEST!

My sixth take away- I am still pining for an agent.  I am waiting, chewing my nails off, to hear from my dream agent.  I emailed her after 4 months of waiting (I sent the coolest "Egg Package" to her). She replied and said she felt so bad about not getting back to me and that she would review my offering quickly... but that was over a month ago.  I figure I have one more shot after the holiday's to connect for another check in. 

In the mean time.  I continue to send out inquiries.

My seventh take away- I still love writing.  I still find it frustrating and challenging and, I am still learning.  This year I was able to loosen of some of my insecurities.  Sure, they are still with me, but they aren't running the show, at least not every day.  I am proud of this growth.

My eight take away- (and no I am not doing a 12 days of Christmas count down here).  No matter what- Keep reading! 

This year some really REALLY fabulous books came out.  I have reviewed some of them here, but remember go to Goodreads and check other's out for yourself!

I will do one last review this year- It will be for Dan Santat's After the Fall

That's it.  That's my 2017 check in.  Now I work, wait and work some more with my fingers and toes crossed for 2018.  I am making my wishes to Santa now.  Stay tuned for more.

AND IF YOU have any questions about anything in this process, please email me. I would love to address questions or comments.








Monday, October 30, 2017

Scivener Day 1- Tools for writing

I have resisted trying out Scrivener for years.  I regularly hear about how awesome it is and well as how hard it is to use.  Being mainly a picture book author, Scrivener isn't something that I NEED every day.

But, then I went wrote my novel this summer.  Finally.

The novel is complicated.  It jumps from 1800's to 2017, includes layers of people, and varied as well as intertwining stories.  Plus, it has lots of artwork in it, no, not mine.

Enter NaNoWrimo and my desire to cross the finish line with this novel.
Enter Scrivener.

Here are my thoughts so far-

Thank goodness I took that one hour tutorial about some fun short cuts and neat things Scrivener is capable of, or I would have given up.

I very much recommend that you use YouTube, take a short class and read about the program before you start using it.  There are so many wonderful things it CAN do, but you won't know about them unless you read and learn about them.  All of the bells and whistles are not obvious.

So today, I spent about 3 hours on Scrivener.  I have to say, it was fun.  I did not do any writing or editing. 
I did-
Get my entire novel put into folders, by books, chapters.
I did a synopsis for each chapter that shows up on the really cool note card screen.
I color coded each chapter (important for me to see distribution of character and times, historical component)
I added a mock cover.
Wrote the title page and dedication.
Included my reference books on note cards
And marked each chapter as either first draft, second draft or TO DO.

Tomorrow I am going to see about layering in photo's of one of my main characters art pieces.
Being able to use them as a reference will be very helpful as will maps and wiki information on certain things.

Here is peek at some of my hard work from today.



I'll try to keep you updated the more I use and learn about this program.
One more day until https://nanowrimo.org/  !


Tuesday, October 24, 2017

A Review- Sleep Tight Charlie by Michael Escoffier and Kris Di Giacomo


Finding just the right book for your kids is like waving a magic wand and hoping that you said your spell just right. 

There are amazing books out there. 



There are Okay books out there and then, well there is everything else.

Put all of that to one side and let’s simple look at who your kid is.

Mine, is like yours unique. 

Mine like or unlike yours has particulars that align with Autism, Adoption, Learning disabilities, social issues and a very particular eye for aesthetic.

So, when I find a good book for her, I feel like I should share it with you all.

I found SLEEP TIGHT CHARLIE when doing a reading at Queen Anne Book Company for my little EGG.

I liked it immediately.

The illustrations are unique, almost film noir like, not overly colorful and bright, but alive and interesting.  The artist Kris Di Giacomo, is really good at leaving a lot of empty “negative space” so that the details, few as they are, really pop.  The details are very everyday but fascinating- a scissor mirror, bottles, clocks, and basic furniture.  Nothing feels crowded, the pages have room for imagination as well as the text.



What I love best about Michael Escoffier’s text is it’s simple (such a hard thing to do right) it’s got nice repetition and voice.

The story is clear.  The character is immediately likeable in his quirkiness.

What I love best about the story, are the patterns, simple, but detailed with a nice pacing.

And, I love the ending. In fact, I still enjoy the ending even now after having read it OVER and OVER and OVER again.  I get so caught up in reading the story that somehow the ending is still a surprise.

My daughter who needs repetition loves “Silly Charlie”.  Even acts out the book while I read it to her.  Sometimes she “reads” it to me from memory, always at random points during the day. 

The character, the story has successfully engrained itself in her life, seamlessly.
Good for Kids who make lists, need repetition.

Good for parents who like to do dramatic readings with sounds effects and tension.  

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Meet Meghan James of Korvo Creative Works an Editor, something every writer needs outside of ideas, a support system and critique group

Critique groups are awesome!  They are full of amazing people who support you, critique your writing and IF your lucky, help you with some editing.

BUT... If you're like me. Dyslexic or simple more of an idea person you NEED to find a great editor.

Sending out manuscripts before they are as clean as can be is a mistake.  

I have a friend, Meghan James of Korvo Creative Works, who is an amazing editor.  I decided to interview her here and share with you some of the fascinating things I found out.  I have turned to Meghan many times over this last year, seeking out what I believe is a uniquely effective Editing Eye for various projects and she has always been helpful.  Her attention to detail is “perfection” as is her ability to bridge genres.  Meghan is the one MUST HAVE for any writer wanting a polished manuscript. 


LNC-      You must love books, reading, and the overall adventure the written word can provide.  But why editing?  What drew you to this aspect of writing?

MJ-        You’re right, I absolutely adore books and reading. Family lore says I taught myself to read by age four. When I was considering my career change (I was previously a landscape architect), I spent some time thinking on my strengths and passions. Well, I love to read. Thus, how could I earn a living through reading? Editing was the obvious choice.

LNC-      Tell me about your certification process.  What was the most interesting thing you learned about editing? What more do you want to learn?

MJ-        I completed the Certificate in Editing from the University of Washington. I thought it was a very valuable program which taught me so much more than just the rules of grammar or punctuation. We were taught not only the nuts and bolts of editing but also our responsibilities as editors. Also, I had no idea just how widespread the field actually is. Editing plays a role in just about every document out there, from corporate communications to marketing materials to novels. As for me, I am currently brushing up my book layout skills. By the end of the year, I plan to offer layout services using InDesign.

LNC-      What is your favorite type of editing?  Or do you even have a favorite?

MJ-        I don’t have a favorite type of editing yet. Each stage of editing, from developmental to proofreading, offers different challenges and rewards. I get to look at the big picture stuff one day and the nit-picky details the next.

LNC-      What do you hope to provide to your clients?

MJ-        I want to help make sure my clients’ messages are coming through clearly. You have a story to tell, and I’m here to ensure your readers don’t get distracted from your story by misplaced commas or subject/pronoun disagreements. I don’t change your words into my words. I make sure your words are the best they can be.

LNC-      How long does it take you to edit a document?

MJ-        It depends on the type of editing and the length of the document. Proofreading goes faster than copy editing, which goes faster than developmental editing. One manuscript page is equivalent to 250 words. Proofreading is about 10 pages (2,500 words) per hour while developmental editing is about 1-2 pages (250-500 words) per hour.

LNC-      Are there layers to your editing process?  Can a client ask for a certain type of editing? If so, what are those parameters?

MJ-        Yes. Different types of editing are appropriate at different stages in the writing process. For example, if I’m looking at the structure of a story (character arcs, plot, etc.,) then I’m not at all worried about spelling or punctuation. When I’m preparing a proposal for a client, I’ll clearly define the scope of services. If a client is unsure about the different types of editing or what they might need for their work, I am happy to walk them through the process.

LNC-      How do you like to interact with a client? Email? Skype? Phone?

MJ-        I’m pretty flexible. I usually start via email, but I am available to chat over the phone or on Skype. And if a client is in the Seattle area, I can also meet in person.

LNC-      What is the best way to contact you about a potential job?

MJ-        I can be reached via email at meghan@korvocreativeworks.com.

LNC-      What kind of wait time do you currently have?

MJ-        I am currently available and accepting clients.

LNC-      What is your price list?

MJ-        Different types of editing have different rates. I follow the EFA’s (Editorial Freelancers Association) suggested rates, which may be found at https://www.the-efa.org/rates/. I will give an author a proposal with a flat fee based on the services they want and the number of words in the work. 
LNC-       Thank you Meghan, so so much for your time, your answers and insight and above all your amazing editing skills.  I can't wait for our next project together.


Monday, October 16, 2017

SCBWI Book Stop!

The Egg page is here!



Click HERE to visit and "LOVE" and or leave a comment!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Writing while the world around you falls down- How to be a creative in hard times

I've been saying, "I just can't" a lot this last week.

I can't wrap my head around a beautiful man, a friend, a father, a husband taking his own life.  I just can't.

I can't go into one of my stories and find the hope it in, the joy in it, after that.

I can't wrap my heart around the innumerable ripples his loss will make in our world.

And nothing can be wrapped around the mass shooting in Vegas.

I JUST CAN'T.

So, now what?  Curl up on the couch and give in?  Well, maybe for a day. 

Turn to my daughter and lap up the sound of her unencumbered laughter?  Yes, every day.

Sit in the sun and just let Autumn breathe through me with a nip of air and it's heavy fragrance?
Yes.

Do it all. 

Feel all of the emotions.

Feel numb if you have to.

Do it all, and then, stand, open your eyes, breathe and get back to work.


It's Inktober right now. I find that IF ALL of those artists can make some magic every day.

So can I.

It's inspirational.

I find that even though my heart is numb, editing is something I can do, so I edit. 

And in doing so, my characters with their hearts beating, their voices growing stronger, help me to my feet again. 

SO I edit.

Push through.  Find your focus. Make art.  Bring joy.

And even though I have said, "I can't" today more often than I should.  I have found that my actions are more of, "I can". It's a dance right now one along side the other.

I discovered this poster the other day, Julie Hedlund of 12x12 had posted it.  I reposted it and will continue to keep going back to it as needed.



BREATHE everyone. 

Breathe and then, FOCUS. Then, go out and create. Make some beauty for others to share and take home in their hearts and their aching souls.

Friday, September 22, 2017

A review for Suzy Lee's MIRROR-Consequence, joy, shame, trepidation, friendship all wrapped up without words. 




Suzy Lee’s Mirror is as the dust jacket suggests, “a visual tour de force.”  But, I am going to add, emotional tour de force to the accolades. 

“Reading it” as an adult I am immediately taken back to one of my favorite Margaret Attwood poem- Tricks with Mirrors.  Like the poem, this story is a layer upon layer of complexities.  Mirror, in true Suzy Lee fashion, is told with such a soft and “simple” touch.  Once more she keeps colors to a minimum going for a charcoal black and uses shading and the white of the page to tell the story.  In Mirror, the accent color is… YELLOW!

I swear Suzy Lee knows my daughter.  This book is so my Mia.  Down to the peeking out from between the fingers with mock fear, and of course the dancing.  Though I do wonder whether Mia would ever see her shadow/reflection as anything other than her.  Unlike my daughter, the girl in Mirror sees the reflection as a new friend.  

This concept, playing with her reflection it takes us the reader and the girl to the first of the most stunningly simple and heart stopping page spreads.  I won’t tell you what it is.

There are however, in my opinion, two shockingly brilliant page turns in this book.  The one in the middle I just mentioned and one at the end.  

I am still in a quiet place with THAT page spread. A quiet place filled with awe and wonder.  Suzy just took the reader THERE.  The fact that she did it almost takes away from the beautiful visual of how THERE appears.  

One of the things I love so much about a Suzy Lee book is ability to illustrate, incorporate and fold the reader into universal emotions.  She gets kids.  She gets humans.  But more importantly she really gets those quiet moments that change a person.

Mirror is my new favorite Picture Book. I LOVE Shadow. I LOVE Lines, I LOVE Wave. I love many other authors books, but right now Mirror is the Queen in my world.  Thank you! Thank you, Suzy Lee!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Review and Mock Interview for the Magical Suzy Lee

      Prepare yourself.  I am about to go all fan girl on this blog because I have decided it is about time to talk about one of my favorite Author/illustrators- Suzy Lee
(Only picture of her art I am going to show because I do not have permission AND, I want you to go out and get the books and experience them the right way.)




      I have a couple confessions to make before I start. One- I have not seen her books MIRROR or THE ZOO.  Two- I will not be talking about Suzy Lee as an illustrator for other authors books of which there are few.  Three- I have never spoken with Suzy Lee, though someday I would love to and I may even post a couple of questions in this review for her, should she ever come across it.



      Suzy Lee was born in 1974, in Seoul, South Korea. And according to Wikipedia, she graduated in 1996 with a BFA in Painting from the Seoul National University, and earned an MA in Book Arts in 2001 from Camberwell College of Arts.

She has lived in Singapore and London, and currently lives and works in Seoul.

But enough about things anyone can look up using the internet.  Let’s talk about Suzy Lee’s MAGIC!


       I am going to put it in context. First as a fan girl, then as an author of picture books.

Suzy Lee presents a book in the way I see the world. In multilayered vignettes, so simple in concept but so deep voice.  One of the most beautiful things about her books is that they are, for all intense and purposes WORDLESS! Yet, they are so full of voice.


       I first found her when I discovered her book, Wave published 2008. I bought the book for many reasons (and I am picky when it comes to picture books). The first was that the book was wordless.  I bought it for (at the time) my soon to be daughter, adopted from China and without language (wrap your head around that, good luck, I still am 4 years later). 

        Wave is a simple story.  I girl goes to the beach with her mom and is given the chance to explore but is scared of the water at first.  As the girl grows bolder, in conversation with the water through simple but stunning illustrations, characters like the five seagulls, the ocean, the sky and the girl fill the readers mind with such a strong voice, you would swear there were words on the page.


        The stories magic starts on the cover.  Then, rolls into the end pages awash in grey wave like patters. As with most Suzy Lee books, the story begins on the cover.  She doesn’t wait until the traditional page 5 to get things rolling.  Another thing I love about her books.  With Wave, Suzy has chosen the simple splash of pencil, then what looks like water color, perfectly splashed in blue. It pulls you in.  Even the shape of the book holds magic. It’s original.  When it’s open it fills two laps—a long rectangle 7.25 by 12.25 then a full 2 feet when open.


        The second work I am enamored with is Shadow, published in 2010. Suzy immediately throws the reader into the story as she has taken all of the pages up for the story, the end pages, the cover, the title, it all folds into the amazing “film” that is Shadow. Like a well-crafted Hitchcock film, as soon as the light goes out, the world changes and the reader must open their imagination to explore.  Again, this story is pushed forward by the same precocious little girl as Wave.  This time she’s inside either a closet or storage room full of all sorts of things. 


        What I LOVE about this book is the pacing of the fading of images.  The way Suzy leads you just enough from a visual point then lets your mind start to tell the story, brilliant.  No other word for it.  As a dyslexic, the mirrored images on opposite pages took me time to visit. But, I found that with each page turn things get easier and easier. Somehow, I know she planned it that way.  The execution of her art blows my mind.  Again, so simple, but as we know, simple is the hardest thing to do and do well.


        She uses color sparingly again, this time the black of the pen/paintbrush and a vibrant yellow then full on black.  There are only two words in this book, “Dinner’s Ready!” and because she is so good at telling her story visually, it’s all the book needs.  Plus, as a reader for my daughter this shift added a key moment of explosion we both enjoy.


        Again, this book is a unique size 7.5 by 12.5, but this time you open it and it long your lap, not wide. 14 inches instead of 2 feet but to read it you must fold it up to open.

The third book I am going to talk about is Suzy Lee’s new book Lines, just out 2017.  This book holds a very VERY special place in my heart as I used to be an ice skater, up at 5 am every morning for practice from the age of 5 until 11.


       Color, let’s talk about what color Suzy is using in this visually poetic book—pencil gray and red for the majority of the book, then in a departure for her, layers of new color—yellow, brown and green and a splash of blue. 


       When I skated, my favorite thing was to be the first on the fresh ice.  It was still wet from the Zamboni, it hadn’t enough time to dull in the cold, it was shiny and had a smell that in the cold of the arena felt fresh (even if in reality it was chemically).  I loved being first because I could paint lines, drawing adventures with my blades, curves, and dots, swaths of stops, and holes from toe picks.  Suzy Lee has brought that unbelievable moment for me back in a way it feels like I have never left the ice.


        I sit with this book and I am alive in a way I only ever was when I was skating.  To say what she has created is Magic, just doesn’t quite cover it.  But, it’s all I have.  I am not going to tell you the story.  I am only going to say that her use of the page, of page turns is something I have never seen any other person do.


       I would love to thank her, personally, for making my world a more magical place.




Now on to questions I would LOVE to ask her, if I ever had the chance.


  • Do you see a book first?  Is it one image that holds you hostage? Or a series of images?  OR do you have a plot in mind first then get to the art?

  • Did you set out to be, in my mind, the Queen of Wordless Books, or was it a natural progression for you as an artist?

  • Tell me about the little girl in your books.  I feel like I know her from toe to tip of her head, but I would love to hear who she is to you.

  • Do you set out to use a small pallet of color for each both on purpose? If so, how do you choose those colors for each story?

  • Can you tell me more about your choices for book size and shape? How early in the process for each book did you decide upon the shape?

  • How do you get such a strong voice in your books without words???  I am truly impressed and have heartache over just how good that piece in each of your books is.

  • And finally, what new projects are spinning around in your head?
You can find Wave on Amazon at Wave
And Shadow
And Lines

Monday, September 18, 2017

Getting back to work now that schools is in session

And the race gun goes off- Now what?  Run as fast as I can?  Get as much done as possible?

No-


Clear my head. 


Take one item at a time. 

Give my soul, 

heart,

and brain

the space and support they need

to get me ideally where I want to go.



I have an abundance of things to read should I choose LIKE-
Jane Friedman's article on Social Media


OR THIS-
 Narrative Non Fiction vs Fiction for young readers

And I really want to get around to some amazing new books out there with a couple of reviews LIKE this one for Suzy Lee's Lines


I also have many things to promote LIKE-
Give A HUG- Hurricane Relief Fund Anthology

As well as set up School and Bookstore Visits-
By the way The Queen Anne Book Company is a LOVELY place to do readings.

Not to mention, put together a marketing packet for EGG to get it into some fabulous places.

So yea, clear my head- Start editing the novel I wrote this summer.  Continue to write picture books.

Plus, keep this blog a little more updated and continue to search for the right agent and query.

Not sure how I am going to do all of this just yet.  But, I WILL figure it out.

Or maybe I'll end up like my cat's Griffin and Dude and go belly up, lay in the sunshine and zone out.



Soon to post- Parts of the Poem and Story I donated for the Hurricane Relief book Clear Fork Publishing is putting out.


Monday, August 21, 2017

Summer a busy time for Books?

Summer's are usually really hard for me to get any work done.  I have a now 7 year old taking up most if not all of my attention (less than 3 weeks to go).

And yet, this summer I accomplished something I have been planning on doing for about 10 years.  I wrote the first draft of my novel.  It's a historical fiction story involving Paris, Camille Claudel and her descendants.  There's a bit of a ghostly quality to it and I excited to say, even in it's first draft I have readers hooked immediately.  I am very much looking forward to Fall and time to edit.  I know how I want to approach it and what needs to be worked on.  I just need the TIME to do it.

Now, back to Picture books!

Today I am the guest on a Spork Sister Blog!
Thank you Melissa Stoller

I do so love this community at Clear Fork has created.  What a great bunch of talented and lovely people.  I feel very fortunate each and every day for this path.

Egg travelled out to the Washington Coast this weekend!  I learned a lot of about setting up future events, had some wonderful reading sessions with the kids and even sold some books!
Thank you Seabrook Kids Store for the warm welcome and the support.

It is an amazing thing to see your book in a store.  Even better to read it to a group of kids and have them involved and helping you read the story!

Also, I had a new idea for a story.  Might actually make my 12x12 deadline for August!  Looking forward to new writing and exploration!



Sunday, July 9, 2017

A new Egg interview!

I had the great pleasure of being interviewed by one of my fabulously talented Spork Sisters, Ellen Leventhal!


If you are interested in reading it go HERE to check it out!

More to come next week.

#WHOMPBOOM!

-Laura