Tuesday, February 14, 2017

What does it mean to have a "writing career"?

Six years into my journey as a "published YA author," I have accomplished the following:

  • Published a "quiet" debut novel, AUDITION, 2011.
  • Worked myself to the bone blog-touring, live-touring and otherwise promoting AUDITION.
  • Paid my own way to several book events in support of AUDITION.
  • Wrote another novel that was passed on by my editor so it is currently filed away.
  • Contributed a short story to the DEAR TEEN ME anthology edited by Miranda Kenneally and E. Kristin Anderson, and a short entry to THE GIRL GUIDE by Christine Fonseca.
  • Published a more successful (Junior Library Guild selection; made a few award short-lists; PW star, strong reviews) sophomore title, THE SOUND OF LETTING GO, in 2014.
  • Did next to nothing (not even a launch party) to promote THE SOUND OF LETTING GO but the reviews have driven slightly better sales.
  • Found out my first novel was being remaindered.
  • Wrote a fourth novel that was passed on by my editor but I didn't want to file it away--I thought there was something to it--so I wrestled, moaned, moped, tore apart and rewrote it. After a few rejections, realized it needed revision, so that's in progress and I'm writing another story as well.
  • Attend (and enjoy) SCBWI meetings and events.
  • Collaborate with my local librarian on an on-going monthly writing program in my community which continues to be well-attended.
  • Swapped participation in a formal critique group for monthly meetings with several writer-friends for support and feedback.
  • Mentor at the online First Five Pages writing workshop.
  • Work harder to reach out to other writers (at all stages) I like and admire--for coffee, write-ins, general commiseration.
  • Beta-read for a number of fellow-authors; read a lot of YA and fiction more broadly.
  • Continue my successful freelance writing and consulting business for which I read about 400-800 pages of other peoples' writing per month.
  • Have made some amazing writer friends, several online, and quite a few whom I have ACTUALLY VISITED (in the flesh) in California, Utah, New York, & Massachusetts.
  • Attended a writing class at a local college; currently attend a (fantastic) writing class at Hugo House in Seattle.
So here I am in February, 2017. I feel like the more I study the craft of writing, the harder it gets to write my next book. I'm not sure whether I have lost confidence or self-discipline or the belief that publishing is sufficiently meaningful to merit the angst, but there you have it.  I find myself struggling with the question: Do I have a writing CAREER? What exactly does that/should that mean? And, where do I go from here?

Monday, February 6, 2017


10:30 AM - 12:30 PM
 Second Saturdays Writing Program at Woodinville Library 
17105 Avondale Road NE, Woodinville 

The elephant in the room. The element that unites character, setting and voice to move a story forward. The thing Stephen King “distrusts.” What is plot? How do we create it? Use it? Learn to trust it? Everett Daily Herald columnist, and young adult author of GENESIS GIRL and DAMAGED GOODS, Jennifer Bardsley will show you the way.

This workshop is open to writers in grades 7 to adult. Registration is not required. For more details, click here

Monday, January 30, 2017

Maintaining Writing Momentum as the February Doldrums Loom

Has your New Year's Resolution energy faded? Maybe you're feeling swamped, stuck, overwhelmed, sick of the bleak winter twilight? Is your daily word count dwindling down to the double-digits? You are not alone. I'm with you! Luckily, I have a couple of writer-friends who, when things get really dark, manage to lift me up and keep me moving forward.

Here are a few suggestions stemming from my friends' good advice and my piles of writing files! (Gosh, I love rhymes way too much.)

  • STEP AWAY from your computer (if you've clicked all the way to my website you've definitely been cyber-surfing too long). Run up and down your stairs ten times or walk around your block. Pet your dog or cat. Bake something from scratch. You get the idea. Spend a few hours living offline.
  • Make a coffee date with a writer friend or two. NOT a writing critique session so much as a check-in during which you honestly explore your current writing situations and help each other brainstorm a forward-moving plan. And, you know, drink coffee.
  • REVIEW YOUR PROJECTS. Select the manuscript or idea you MOST want to pursue EVEN IF it means leaving something unfinished. Give yourself permission to be inspired.
  • WRITE A TO-DO LIST. General or specific. Word-counts or research goals. Dates set aside for writing-only. Write it all down and post it somewhere you'll see it daily. Write lots of smiley faces on it and call it your friend.
  • KEEP LEARNING. Sometimes the best thing is to take a class or join a critique group. If that doesn't work for you this winter, here are some great writing tips and revision resources that are just a click away!
Have your first five pages professionally critiqued for free at the FIRST 5 PAGES WORKSHOP.

Read up on the business and craft of writing at PUBLISHING CRAWL.

Look for your dream agent (and discover awesome writer people) at LITERARY RAMBLES.

Join the Society for Children's Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI).

Sign up to read a Poem a Day from the ACADEMY OF AMERICAN POETS.

And remember, the springtime, the sun, the inspiration are surely on their way. Seriously, though, Emily Dickinson says it better:

I’ll tell you how the sun rose, —

A ribbon at a time.

(from her poem, A DAY)

Thursday, January 26, 2017

READING LIST: Running Stories

“An itchy feeling began to work its way through my body, as though a thousand mosquitoes were circulating through my blood, biting me from the inside, making me want to scream, jump, squirm. 
I ran.” 
― Lauren OliverDelirium

 Some people love running--the act, the sport, the metaphor. These books are for you.

Monday, January 9, 2017




10:30 AM - 12:30 PM
 Second Saturdays Writing Program at Woodinville Library 
17105 Avondale Road NE, Woodinville 

What is the interplay between fiction and nonfiction? Whether it’s a detail for a fictional character in a novel or a timeline of events for a nonfiction picture book, how do you know when to stop researching and begin writing? Lisa L. Owens, author of biographies, middle grade fiction, nonfiction picture books, graphic novels and retold classics, will help you put these challenges in perspective.
This workshop is open to writers in grades 7 to adult. Registration is not required. For more details, click here