Month: April 2012 (Page 1 of 2)


so, no, I didn’t write on Monday. Brain overload, well, no, not that. It’s more like processing. I need to process the information. Sort of like marinating meat, i.e., marinate |ˈmarəˌnāt|verb [ trans. ]soak. Yep. That’s it. Soak. Soak in, through, around and go deep.

One of the best things about the workshop with Cheryl Klein was the opportunity to focus on my own WIP and by that I mean think about what she was saying in relation to my own writing.

What a gift! Made me think that even though there were fifty people in the room, it felt very intimate and personal. This workshop, co-sponsored between SCBWI Carolinas and SCBWI Midsouth,  gave new meaning to plot, both action and emotion.

There were two teaching methods she provided, making this possible. One, via the pre-conference assignments, I worked so intimately and completely with my story that as Ms. Klein made comments about types of plot, or the inciting emotional event of the story, I was able to *know* exactly where that was in mine. And, two, by telling us right up front she would be giving us access to her presentation, all 82 pages, it was not necessary to take notes about anything other that what jumped out in relation to our story.

So. I’m off to marinate some more. Soak, souse, immerse, bathe. And end up with a superior work than I ever imagined.


Off to Asheville, North Carolina this morning. Home of the largest private house in America, Biltmore Estate, the Grove Park Inn with a world class spa, UNC Asheville, the only liberal arts college in the UNC system, and some of the funkiest stores downtown as well as a vibe that is straight out of 1960 Northern California :-).

But. I will be doing none of those things this weekend. I will be sitting in a windowless, over air-conditioned room, with 50 other writers, listening to Executive Editor Cheryl Klein attempt to push into my brain Plot! The first definition of plot is a plan made in secret by a group of people to do something illegal or harmful which I kind of, sort of like, because I’m writing a mystery. The second definition is more apt, the main events of a play, novel, movie, or similar work, devised and presented by the writer as an interrelated sequence for the work we will be doing in this self imposed eight hour exile from the real world.

Ms. Klein’s book, Second Sight , An Editor Talks On Writing, Revising & Publishing Books For Children and Young Adults, is a primer for those who want to write well for children. And. I think that’s a huge distinction. For children. I know when I returned to children’s books with my own girls, I was enchanted by the way the story was told. In adult books, we allow authors to use short cuts; a brand name for a car to denote wealth or near poverty, a high profile school to infer privilege, or even a famous name to identify a style or attitude. No can do with kids. They’re definitely not as tolerant as children. Although I do believe the most popular of adult books are basically written to an eighth grade level. And sometimes that’s demeaning…to an eighth grader!

So today I finalize my book map. I make sure my spelling is correct and that I’m on top of the material request, although, in truth, I almost feel like I’m drowning in a sea of possibilities and my ears will be too clogged to listen. So. Probably it’s for the best that I am in a totally sterile environment. And, I’m guessing, I’m not alone in feeling overwhelmed!


suspending disbelief…

…one of the coolest things to do on a Sunday afternoon is listen to someone talk about blood and gore and when a real forensic practitioner talks, well… April’s  Murder We Write meeting brought in Senior Forensic practitioner Joanne Morrissey, who served with the Metropolitan Police Service in London for 17 years and is now in her 4th year with the High Point Police Department. She had an amazing power point presentation, but not only that, she had great war stories, old crimes, weird crimes and yucky crimes. 

I have three pages of notes. With a master’s degree from university in UK in Fire Investigation [this side of the pond we call it Fire Science] Jo was full of information about certification, evidence procedures, documentation and scene preservation. And,  as I know from Lee Lofland  nobody on TV does it well, or right, maybe close, but then only maybe. Bottom line, Castle does most of it wrong. NCIS and The Closer did more of it right. But still. You don’t solve a crime in an hour.

The trick of it is whether or not you can make it close enough to believable so that people are willing to over look the odd or weird or uncertain device you chose to use to solve the crime. With Castle, you over look a LOT because of the Richard Castle , not because the mystery is better or worse than anyone else’s. With The Closer you watch because you want to find how Brenda Leigh is going to screw up everyone else’s life to solve her crime. With NCIS it’s more a combination of the two, you watch to see the characters interact and to find out whodunit.

So. Now I have to rewrite or rethink the  scene where the dead body is found. Do I let the local police mess up the crime scene making it tough for the main character? OR, do I have the CSI come in and make things more difficult for my main character?  hmmm……

so. monday…

yep! Monday. Here’s a huge secret. I LOVE  Mondays…I think they are the greatest day in the world. New. Bright. Shiny. With all kinds of possibilities. The Monday morning of my memory. It would be a cool California morning; dew on the lawn, a nip in the air. Crisp blue sky. No clouds.  Me wearing polished Buster Brown oxfords, white socks, a baby blue uniform with white collars and cuffs and two pleats down the front on either side of the zipper, a matching belt with a silver buckle.  Glossy brushed hair. A barrette holding back my recalcitrant bangs. Coming off a weekend of laughing and talking and playing and visiting. Monday. A whole new start. Never mind what the week would bring. Monday was the beginning. Time to anticipate. To relish the start. To find joy in the possibilities.

Monday’s at Villa Cabrini Academy, gone now, but vivid in my memory. We’d line up, by class, in rows of two, by height, smallest in the front, tallest in the back. I was always near or at the front. Then the martial music of John Phillips Sousa, the March King, would begin. Piped into the quadrangle over the loud speaker. We’d begin marching in place, then the two in the front would peel off, reversing, and we’d come back down in fours, then back up again, coming down in two, marching in place, then class, by class, by class, we’d move to our rooms. This was California, after all, the classrooms opened into the quadrangle, the Angeles bell tower half way between fourth grade with Mother Rosario and eighth grade with Mother Bartholomew. The school administration door just under the bell tower, the dark black of the screens as imposing as the small metal netting of the confessional,  the dark pink brown bricks cool to the touch, double wooden doors at the library. Windows in the upper portion of the classroom doors, hazy, opaque. The nuns in their black on black habits, the sliver cross large in the front.

There are those who would disparage the fervor of those nuns today. There are those who would find them passé. But they had ready laughs, pockets of candy, and the sense to know when to discipline and when to love. They gave me a life of possibilities, and gazillion Mondays…


yes, what else would you talk about on Friday the 13th? Superstition, as a kid, was always more about the excitement of or the potential, like watching a scary movie. But as an adult I find superstition much harder to understand. Paraskevidekatriaphobia: [good word, no?] the fear of Friday the 13th. Wow! How fun. It’s got it’s own word. And it’s stupid. Fun, if you think it’s a lark and use the day to have harmless fun. But stupid if it rules your life and makes you do things you wouldn’t ordinarily.

To me, superstition has more to do with how much control you have in your own life. How much you think you can manage.If you think you have little control, if you are having problems managing, then yeah! it’s someone else’s fault, be it from a curse, or you stepped on a crack or you forgot to wear you lucky underwear. Superstition. A widely held but unjustified belief in supernatural causation leading to certain consequences of an action or event. So. It’s not you fault. It’s out of your control. Pooh!

So where did this come from? According to Wikipedia, Friday has been considered an unlucky day since the 14th Century. LOL, in modern times I would have put the unlucky much earlier in the week.  But of course, we have Black Friday from the stock market crash and Black Friday for the violence and mayhem at the malls. So. Okay, we’ve woven that into our consciousness.  The next is that thirteen is an unholy number. See. I would have thought nine, or even eleven. But again, we parse a lot of our history into  twelve. Twelve months of the year. Twelve apostles. Twelve tribes of Israel. Twelve gods of Olympus. So that next number, Thirteen, has to portend bad things. Okay. I get that.

Friday the 13th can happen up to three times in a single year; either in February, March and November in an ordinary year, or January, April and July in leap years.  So this year, April. Then July. Okey, dokey. Two of these this year. But truthfully, knock on wood :-)….

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