An example from two decades of goofy sister pictures

I’m in the process of cleaning out my closet at my parents’ house (the conversation went like this; Mom: “Oh, you’ll be in town? Could you stay overnight?” Me: “So you can feed me taco pizza and Whitey’s ice cream because you miss me so much? Absolutely!” Mom: “No, because I need you to clean out your closet.”).

But I have to say, it’s been pretty fun looking through old pictures, art projects (most are terrible by the way, I’ll never be an author-illustrator), toys, and birthday cards. It’s got me thinking about what the things I’ve kept say about me:

  • I was cow crazy as a kid (shocker)
  • I loved my Polly Pockets (and still do, played with them last night)
  • It’s a good thing I was born during the era of spell check (“Aogist” = August, I wish I was joking)

Then I thought about the characters in my WIP. Being middle schoolers, they don’t have quite the history build-up of old stuff, but their rooms still say a lot about them. Have they kept any stuffed animals? Are they out in the open or hidden? Do they have sports posters or achievement certificates on the walls (or both)? What toys are hidden under the bed that they couldn’t stand to get rid of? Do they have pictures or old notes stashed somewhere?

What does your character’s bedroom look like? Have you taken a trip down memory lane lately?

Wish me luck, I’m headed back to the closet…


Should writing be fun? I saw some other posts about this around the blogosphere and contemplated it this weekend. I had a rare block of three hours on Saturday to focus on my WIP and, let me tell you, writing is work.

Part of the process should absolutely be fun. The creative spark should be fun. Getting to know characters and developing relationships should be fun. And the most fun part of being a writer: hanging out with other writers. Critique group meetings, book clubs, book launches, and conferences; I could do it everyday.

But sitting down to that computer screen, notebook page, or typewriter, that is work. Finding the exact words to represent your character while moving the plot forward and establishing themes is work. Taking critique and incorporating suggestions is work. Revising and revising and revising is work.

It’s the balance between work and fun that is present in any job. Parts of writing should absolutely be fun, but it’s the work that you put in late at night, early in the morning, when it’s just you and your words that make you a writer. Please leave thoughts in the comments; I’m off to book club to hang out with other writers 🙂


Last weekend was the most productive two days I’ve had in a very long time. I did housework, I did farm chores, and I even finished a book map to start my next round of revisions! So, of course, today I’m rather lackluster. I figure it’s either because it’s a Monday or because I’m out of writing snacks.

I really think my writing productivity is tied to consumption of Diet Coke and Dove dark chocolate squares. And strawberry licorice from Licorice International. And marshmallows.

I can’t be alone in this. What spurs you on to productivity? Snacks? Music? Gold stars? Or is it all in my head…

Display of delicious

Most writers I know prefer to be caffeine-fueled, either with coffee or pop (that’s right, in the Midwest it’s “pop”). And most also have favorite writing snacks, like pretzel M&Ms, chocolate, bacon, and vegetables (it’s true).

But my absolute favorite writing snack is strawberry Kookaburra licorice twists from Licorice International and, thanks to a recent trip to Lincoln, Nebraska, I have a fresh supply! Pair them with Diet Coke and I’m good for hours.

Do you write with snacks? Any favorites to share?

My little sister is graduating college tonight. That’s right, I’m feeling old. But more than that, it’s gotten me wondering about milestones and checkpoints.

The first 20-some years of life are filled with checkpoints. Birthday parties, moving through each grade, getting a driver’s license, being able to legally purchase tobacco or alcohol if so inclined. And for some, graduating college or grad school. It’s the final milestone in a school career, the light at the end of the tunnel, the last marking of time and achievement.

So when do you feel you “graduated” in your writing life? Was it finishing that first draft? Finding a critique group? Getting your first rejection? Signing a contract? Or seeing the book in print? I like to think I’m at least through freshman year. How about you?

Well folks, it’s been awhile since the last Linkfest Wednesday, so there’s plenty of awesome today:

Wordplay has great tips and tools for identifying and controlling your writing tics.

Agent Jennifer Laughran posted this round-up from her Twitter pitch contest. Excellent post for both tips and entertainment (werewolf roller derby says it all).

Livia Blackburne gives a great example of using foils to increase characterization.

A.J. takes on fantasy villains and blows my mind with analysis of Harry Potter sub-villains.

Formatting tips to make your editor love you, from Alison Janssen. Basically, learn to love the Find/Replace feature! (I never would’ve thought of the “tab” tip)

There are too many Links of Awesome to narrow down to one for the week, so enjoy a buffet:

AnnaStan’s inspiring goats.

Indexed does cheese.

Indexed does inspiration.

Best Flowchart EVER (via mental_floss)

What was your favorite link from the past few weeks?

Last weekend was an inspiring gathering of writers from all over the Midwest and we got carloads of wisdom from the SCBWI-Iowa conference  presenters. The first of my favorite quotes from the weekend:

“Writing is a confident act. Writing is a brave act.”

Katherine Tegen Books associate editor Molly O’Neill opened the conference with this reminder that creating art and putting words on the page requires a confident artist and the bravery to put your work out there. Her passion and love for children’s books was inspiring as she took us through character boot camp and a look at gripping beginnings. Catch up with Molly at her blog and on Twitter for more gems of wisdom.