Monday, September 26, 2016


I am writing something new. It has dual narrators, two major settings, a fair number of secondary characters and, oh yeah, blackmail and murder. Not my usual teen romance! I was struggling to keep things organized and well-paced when I remember reading Justine Larbalestier's comments about writing her amazing novel, LIAR, in Scrivener. Daisy Whitney, Maureen Johnson and Lisa Yee can all be found gushing on Scrivener's "Testimonials" page. So, with feelings of hope and desperation mingling inside me, I clicked over, paid my forty bucks and became...

A scrivener using Scrivener

The manuscript isn't finished yet, but here are my first observations:

  • It was pretty easy to learn, despite my mediocre technology skills
  • I have found myself WRITING DOWN more of my backstory and preparatory stuff (e.g., character worksheets, setting pages, chapter title ideas) and am glad they are there for reference and to offer a central place to record changes, especially things like names and subplot details.
  • I enjoy seeing a word count build for a given chapter or chapter section. I makes me feel like I've accomplished ENOUGH on a given day and not so overwhelmed by the larger task of FINISHING the whole novel.
  • I like being able to move chapters around in a more graphic, cork board format, instead of the old cut-and-past which, for me, often results in becoming mired in micro-edits which I know I should really save for later.
  • It's a little bit!
If you've tried Scrivener, let me know via FB or Twitter -- I'd love to hear from more experienced scriveners!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Mid-Career Mondays: Barbara Dee celebrates TRUTH OR DARE

Disclaimer: I have been a huge Barbara Dee fan since reading SOLVING ZOE (smart girl + theater geekery + puzzles + mystery = GoReadIt!) six years ago. Since then, I've discovered that Barbara is not only a marvelous middle-grade author but an altogether awesome person and champion of writer- and reader- and teacher-people. Don't believe me? Check out her website where you'll find one of my favorite AUTHOR FAQ entries ever:

So, I asked her...

Was there ever a time in your writing life where you obsessed more about your "CAREER" than the books you wanted to write?

BARBARA: I did. Around the time of my third book (THIS IS ME FROM NOW ON), I tried to develop my career by blogging in the cute, confessional manner of a very young author selling well at the time—and swiftly discovered that it wasn’t for me. I think that whether you’re writing a novel or a blog post, you have to be careful about looking over your shoulder at what others are doing, and stay true to yourself. It’s probably the only way to develop a career as a (sane, functioning!) published author. 


EXCITING UPDATE: Barbara just sold another book! Here's the amazing scoop from Publisher's Weekly:
Aladdin Gets ‘Halfway Normal’ with DeeBarbara Dee (Star-Crossed) sold North American rights to her latest middle-grade novel, Halfway Normal, to Alyson Heller at Simon & Schuster’s Aladdin imprint. The book, which was sold by Jill Grinberg at Jill Grinberg Literary Management, is slated for December 2017. It follows a seventh grader who is readjusting to life after two years of leukemia treatments. The publisher elaborated, saying, “Not wanting to be treated as Cancer Girl and fearing her classmates won’t understand, she refuses to share her experience—until an unexpected assignment from her English teacher gives her the perfect opportunity.”

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Your Writing Community

Writing is a lonely business. A butt-in-seat, fingers-on-keyboard, tuning-out-the-world lifestyle filled with rejection and uncertainty. So, despite often being viewed as an occupation for introverts, the fact is that writers need community, perhaps more than most.

This morning, I was reminded of a what a lift one's community can offer. I attended this year's first meeting of KCLS Woodinville's Second Saturdays Writing Workshops, a series I have the pleasure of helping to curate. I arrived at the library, saw the welcoming face of Youth Services Librarian Pam, walked into the aptly named Community Room and there they were: Faces, familiar and new, all excited to put pen to paper.

Guided by the smart and charming Trudi Trueit, we spent two hours exploring the development of strong characters. We shared and were afraid to share. We talked about our summers. We laughed, hysterically and ruefully. We admitted our attraction to Jean-Luc Picard as well as (in ways overt and subtle) our mutual dream of publishing our work. Then we packed up our notebooks and trickled out of the classroom, a little bit more hopeful, more inspired--less lonely. Ready to write armed with new tips and words of encouragement.

Writing community isn't only found in one's hometown. While I don't belong to a critique group, I have several writing colleagues with whom I meet semi-routinely to share work and life stories (you know who you are, Deb, Sara, Susan!). I have my local chapter of SCBWI, with its classes, retreats, and conferences. And, though I don't believe it is a substitute for real human interaction, I have writer friends with whom I communicate largely via email or social media and who offer advice and support.

I had been feeling discouraged this week but getting out of the house to interact with members my beloved community lifted me up.  It can work for you, too. It is INTENSELY WORTH IT to summon the courage to schedule that coffee with a fellow writer, go to that class, even just reply to a post on Facebook. Let your community be there for you - and show it your thanks by producing wonderful work.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016



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

Join the amazing Trudi Strain Trueit for this dynamic class:


An irresistible main character is an essential component of any great book. How does one develop a believable, compelling, unique protagonist? Trudi, author of nearly 100 fiction and nonfiction books, including THE SISTER SOLUTION (Aladdin MIX, 2015), is here to kick off this year’s SECOND SATURDAYS PROGRAM with answers to these and more compelling character questions!

Trudi’s workshop is open to writers in grades 7 to adult. Registration is not required but, if you're so inclined or want more details, click here. Hope to see you there!

Monday, September 5, 2016

PB Reading List: Big Feelings

Fear, beauty, art...despite the occasionally uber-adorable protagonists, these slim volumes often tackle deep, dark issues. Here are three favorites that delight, soothe and, ultimately, encourage young readers to embrace the truth of their own identities.

A nearly-wordless homage to nature and emotion.
 The ultimate tale for anyone, of any age, facing a new adventure.

Making art trumps making war. Need I say more?

Friday, September 2, 2016

Reading Guilt?

Between client deadlines and self-imposed manuscript word count minimums, I could literally spend all of my waking life typing into a keyboard.

But I don’t.

Sometimes, I step away to do a bit of yoga or, less often, to take a rainy stroll around the block.  

Other times, I take a break with a book.  Even when my own words feel far from perfect, I find solace and inspiration in the work of others. I know that, despite that nagging feeling that I should get my nose back to the grindstone, I am doing something important to hone my craft—to keep growing in my mind and my heart.

This week, Gabriel Garcia Marquez is tucked into my purse and Jennifer A. Nielsen sits on my end table. 

And I won’t feel guilty because none other than Virginia Wolf has given me permission!