Friday, January 28, 2011

Deep breath - it's critique time

I'm on retreat with my critique group this weekend. We have a lot of work to dig through - they're all prolific, incredibly talented writers, all with manuscripts to discuss. Of course, this means my novel will be talked about too.
     There's a joke about critique groups - that you leave 'bloodied.' Nobody is mean, but when you have brilliant minds offering sound advice on 370 pages of your writing, you're going to leave with work to do. It's a little scary.
     Will they like it? Will they think it stinks? Will they slash it apart and tell me it's not working? Will they cheer loudly and say 'it's ready to go forth and win many awards'! Unlikely.
     The first day after your critique can be tough. You've got to give yourself a day to calm down, chill out, and breathe. But if it's a good critique group, by day two, you realize your partners have given you some great advice, maybe inspired some new directions and ideas, and you can't wait to dive back into your manuscript with their insights in mind.
     But I'm not to that point yet. Tonight it's good food, companionship and lots of laughter. We go through our manuscripts tomorrow. And yeah, I'm a little nervous.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Interview on Illustration Island

Thomas James started Escape from Illustration Island a few years ago, and it has become a premier resource for illustrators just starting out (and some of us who have been in it a while). I was honored to be a guest recently for an Illustration Island podcast: Episode #68. And boy was it thorough! I got a little philosophical in some of my answers, and even talked about THIS BLOG publicly for the first time.
     I hope I shared some information that will be of value to budding illustrators. If you listen, let me know what you think!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Mid-grade edits done!

I have once again reached a finish line in this race that never ends. I finished my edits, turning my novel from Young Adult to Mid-Grade. It's a different target audience, but one I relate to well.
     There are parts of the novel I love, parts I truly believe I nailed. And of course there are others where I'm not sure I can write at all. Although there's a chance I'm judging both on the moods I was in that day - Brilliant! vs. the Evil Editor who whispers 'you have no idea what you're doing.' Hm. Bottom line is, I'm not sure I can look at my work objectively at all anymore. I really don't think I can.
     All I do know is I love the story, I love the characters. They crack me up and I've loved living in their world. I hope readers will too. I hope they'll get the chance.
     Now the manuscript goes back to my critique group during our winter retreat in a few weeks. If it comes back all marked up, it will be back to edits once more - Round 9. But for now, I shall celebrate the end of Round 8... with chocolate croissants hubbie brought home from the farmer's market. Now that's what I call inspirational!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

How to be Alone - this is when inspiration happens

Some of my best ideas have come from when I was alone. Especially when I was hiking in the winter with my dog through the mountains of Tennessee. Leaves were gone and views were long. No snakes, no bugs, no strangers to pass, just me and my thoughts and the quiet of the forest. In the city, walking a nearby track replaced that time. Surrounded by trees it is the territory of birds, which sometimes ignored me completely swooping inches ahead on my path. These are the moments my brain went to faraway places and returned with stories.