Tuesday, November 19, 2019

So, What Have You Been Reading This Fall?

Okay, team, truth is I have an EPIC commute. Between my Seattle office, my son's middle school and my off-a-windy-road home, I spend a minimum of three hours in my car every day. What's a girl to do? It's a seven-letter answer: AUDIBLE! It's my solace, my salvation and a ton of listening fun. Beyond some terrific books, I enjoy the artistry of the readers and some impressive production values. Here's a short-list of recent LISTENS plus a few old-school paper titles I've recently enjoyed.

And, a quick note: There's an obvious genre bent to what I am reading. If you think it points to the nature of my next novel, you may be right. Then again... ;)

The Secret Place (Dublin Murder Squad, Book 5)SadieFive Dark Fates (Three Dark Crowns Book 4)

SADIE by Courtney Summers - A unique NPR podcast type format, a wonderfully twisty mystery and, of course, Summers' gorgeous writing.

MURDER BY THE BOOK by Claire Harman - A compelling, well-researched account of an actual murder case in Victorian England with insights into early forensic science.
FIVE DARK FATES by Kendare Blake - Loved this entire series -- a fascinating and layered world of hidden magic that echoes with warnings about the way we view our own times.
THE SECRET PLACE by Tana French - Brutally insightful and a visceral reading experience with language you want to eat and landscapes you can feel with your fingertips.
FEAST YOUR EYES by Myla Goldberg - Deserving of all the accolades, this is quite possibly my favorite book of the year. If you can imagine it... a book about photographs that is a treat for all the senses.

Feast Your Eyes: A NovelMurder by the Book: A Sensational Chapter in Victorian Crime

While some months, I don't find anything appealing in the free Audible Originals offerings, I will point to two lovely listens: STEPHEN FRY'S VICTORIAN SECRETS, THE SISTERS by Dervla McTiernan (also read her full-length novel THE RUIN).On my nightstand (in actual paper): Anthony Horowitz's delightfully literary meta-mystery, THE SENTENCE IS DEATH (follow-up to THE WORD IS MURDER, which I read last year).Whew! So, are you an AUDIBLE fan? Mystery reader? Whatcha writing these days...?

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Free FIRST PAGES Writing Workshop at KCLS Woodinville

SATURDAY,  APRIL 13, 2019, 10:30 AM - 12:30 PM
Woodinville Library, 17105 Avondale Road NE, Woodinville, WA

First Pages Interactive Workshop
Don't Breathe a Word
Are your first 250 words ready for a professional review? Are you stuck and looking for some help identifying the best start for your story? Bring the first page of your work-in-progress for this friendly, progress-focused interactive workshop led by author Holly Cupala and yours truly -- and leave with a stronger, better opening page!
This workshop will be  POSITIVE, ANONYMOUS (for submitting writers) and CONSTRUCTIVE. Please consider taking advantage of this exciting FREE opportunity which is usually only available within expensive writing retreats and conferences. BE BRAVE!

  • ONE (1) copy of the FIRST PAGE of your work-in-progress, formatted as follows:
  • Text should be double-spaced
  • 12 point, legible font such as Times New Roman or Courier
  • DO NOT PUT NAME, TITLE or other information on the page
  • Picture book texts are fine, simply adhere to above restrictions
  • Each page will be read aloud by a workshop leader.
  • This will be followed by professional feedback identifying the best sentence on the submitted page; the most enticing element of the page; element which may be distracting from the flow of the all-important story start; and strategies for making the page even stronger.
  • Pages will be discreetly returned at the end of the workshop.
We will try to get through as many pages as possible. If time allows, the workshop will conclude with some general discussion of key first page components and insights into the way agents and editors read them. If you submit your first page, you are GUARANTEED to leave this workshop excited to revise and empowered by what may be your first experience sharing your work with the professional writing world.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Let's Begin 2019 Without Resolutions -- or Reservations

Here's to a year without excuses. Write the words, hit the gym, take the class, say YES to your dreams. When you feel weary, walk. When you feel despair, write. Surprise yourself...and stop apologizing.
If you find yourself too withdrawn from the world in pursuit of your writing dreams, take a breath and try again. Reach out to your friends, cherish and support them. It's all right to ask for help. Those who truly understand will still be there, will understand. Will dream with you.

Here's to a year of forgiving yourself for the undone laundry and the sub-par suppers. Model for your family a person in motion, a force of will. Creativity matters. Ironing does not.

Don't just admire the view -- write about it: A winter's promise, bright and blue. A blank white page, inspired, new. A gift awaits in words from you.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

When Your Book is on One of Those Lists...

It's weird, you know, when you see your book on one of these library "issues" lists. It's cool, of course, to know that someone actually has a hard copy on a shelf somewhere. But there's always a part of me that wonders two things: (1) Is my book really just about an "issue" - because, when I wrote it, I was thinking about siblings and families and music and high school and growing up you know? and (2) If there are teens who face these issues in their lives, is my book doing them good?

Which brings me to the larger question: Are the books in which we most clearly see ourselves the ones that inspire, guide, speak to us most deeply? Could my book be balm to the soul of a person trying to understand the meaning of loneliness - the differences between need and love? When you think of the stories the touched your heart growing up, were they stories about the "you" that existed, the "you" of your most secret dreams, or a "you" as yet unimaginable - your connection to the narrative being the indefinable sort that means so much but cannot be put into words.

Honestly, these sorts of "issues" lists help keep The Sound of Letting Go in print. I hope that its inclusion means that librarians, educators and other people dedicated to helping young adults think that the story I wrote adds value to the canon, but there's no denying that it's a kind of pressure - and maybe its own sort of limitation.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Scrivener Revisited

Backstory: It's been a fallow year for my novel-writing career (intentional rhyme) but a delightful twelve months at the day job. I'm learning, creating and indulging my passions for consonance, rhyme and catchy turns-of-phrase.

All of that above paragraph has been filed under notes in - yes - Scrivener to which I've returned after much avoidance and denial for my new young adult writing project.

I've tried Scrivener before, largely inspired by Justine Larbalestier's comments about writing her amazing novel, LIAR, in Scrivener.  Other amazing YA authors, including April Henry, Daisy Whitney, Maureen Johnson and Lisa Yee can all be found gushing on Scrivener's "Testimonials" pages.

A few observations I made the last time I tried Scrivener, a few years back...

  • Its components are fairly intuitive or easy to learn.
  • It is useful having organized repositories for backstory, primary and secondary character worksheets, setting pages, and subplot ideas.
  • I enjoy seeing a word count build for a given chapter or section, which feels satisfying.
  • Being able to move chapters around in a more graphic format (instead of the old cut-and-paste) helps me avoid becoming mired in micro-edits which I know I should really save for later.
  • It's a little bit just...fun!

  • So, once again, I find myself

    A scrivener using Scrivener

    Admittedly, last time, life got in the way and that manuscript is still a work-in-progress. But I'm feeling that need for order and accountability in the writing process as I try to work novel-writing back into my happy-yet-hectic life. Here's hoping...!

    If you've tried Scrivener, let me know. I'd love to hear about your experiences!