Friday, June 27, 2008

Pickin' up world views an puttin'em in your pocket

Vacation Collectables:
Mug = $8.50
T-Shirt = 19.99
Getting a peek at the world from someone else's eyes = PRICELESS
World View is one major building block that determines the "voice" of you book. Sometimes it's hard to put ourselves in our characters shoes and see the world through a different set of eyes. Vacations are a great way to exercise our ability to see things in a new way.

Heck! We're already out of our comfort zone. These are perfect times to keep our eyes and ears open to the unique phrases and outlooks of those around us.

What's it like to a kid?
An adult?
The people under the umbrella next to you from a different country?
How do they see things differently than you?

Here's an exercise. Think of a character from the book you're writing (or have already written) If they were to see the shells below, what would they look like to that character?
(The shells above, looked like crayons to my four year old)

To my six year old: This Shell became a "seat" for a rubber ball that was washed up on the beach. She named the rubber ball Pearl.

My two year old could have cared less about the shells. She only had eyes for the seagulls and shouted "Want bird! Want catch bird!"

and me: The beach normally relaxes me, but as a mother of 3 young children, the ocean looked menacing; a great animal that could pull my children in and devour them. The beach: A vast expanse full of strangers where my children could wander away and get lost. Even my own world view has changed in light of my current role as mother.

One beach, four different perspectives seen through the eyes of our personal world views. . . .

Which brings to mind another creative exercise for your novel. Find the scenes where you have more than one character in a setting. Does that scene adequately show the varying responses of your characters based upon their personality?

Vacations can be a great place to expand your understanding of how other people see the world. And the best part is . . . . it's a collectible that doesn't need dusting!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Extra Extra Read all about it! Art Trend in Apex NC! - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more

Pole Gallery Art is popping up in Apex, NC this summer. Keep your eye open for monsters, racoons and critters of all kinds displayed on random street corners! It's nice to have something to smile about in traffic for a change! :0)

For more pictures, click here:

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Literary Fertilizer Flower Text

Literary fertilizer:

Vacations gone wrong
Moments of uncharacteristic madness

Ever happened to you?

If not, well. . . I feel bad for you, ‘cause this is the stuff that the rich soil of literature is made of. ;0)

Got crap in your life? Don’t ignore it. Whine about it all you want and put it to paper! ;0) Shape it. Mold it and watch your characters come to life. It’s kind of like your own personal Frankenstein. (If the thought of your work being compared to a monster freaks you out, then use your creativity to insert your adaptation here ____________________.)

Some of my examples:

I still remember the pain from my broken arm 20 years ago. It broke in two. It looked like a V made of flesh. (Why didn’t Sesame Street ever use that visual on the letter “V” episodes?) The dr’s had to put Humpty Dumpty back together again by surgically attaching my bones with metal plates. Sound painful? It was. The Tylenol with codine barely took the edge off. You better bet your bippy that I will pass on this pain to my protagonist. Why let such a vivid memory go to waste?

Bad vacation? Think of what your protagonist might do in your situation. How is his/her personality different than yours? What would they do?

Sorrow. There’s no other way to say it. It stinks. Nobody wants it, but it's gonna happen. But if you pass it on to your characters, they become more authentic and your readers can relate to them, maybe even help.

Writing down what ails you, is not only theraputic, but you can use the emotions and thoughts to mold current or future characters in your story(s)

Funny how the very things that seem to suck the life out of us are often be the very thing that breathes life into a character or breeds creativity. Ironic. Isn’t it?

So, my challenge for this week is: grab a shovel, dig up that crap and cultivate that literary soil! There’ll probably be a whole field full of wildflowers waiting in your future . . . after all, life emerges from the dirt, not from gold, the mall or even e-bay. It's comes from the stuff we try to sweep away and forget.

Plus, you never know. . . you may even help someone along the way.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The True Story of Wessley, The Mostly Dead Fish

Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. I'm baffled. Which is why I have to tell this story. But first, before I can go on I must make an embarrassing confession. I have been harboring a dead fish for a week.

Why keep a dead fish?

Well. . . because the fish belongs to my daughter and it's my fault that the fish died. We went away for the weekend and I forgot to make arrangements for his feedings. Bad mommy!

Beta fish are very active and aggressive, so when the fish went nose up, tail down and didn't move for a couple of days, (despite my tapping on the glass and shaking the bowl to get him going) I had to finally admit that he was dead. But my daughter is VERY sensitive. She gets upset very easy and I had a hard time bringing myself to tell her, but I wanted her to be able to have a "ceremony" to say good-bye to her pet. So I couldn't get rid of him without her knowing. That would upset her even more. She needed to say good-bye.

Day after day I walked by the fish bowl only to find the fish, unmoving, in the same position as the day before. I'd tell myself "today I have to tell my daughter." The days went by until days turn into a week. At this point I'm amazed that the fish hasn't begun to decompose yet.

Last night I resolved, "I must tell my daughter . . . tomorrow."

Much to my surprise, when I walked by the fish bowl before bed last night, I saw the fish was swimming! Fans flittering, tail swishing, moving all around the bowl like he used to. May I take the time to remind you that I have not fed the fish over the course of this week. I thought he was dead! Why would I?

Today, he is still swimming and ate the food I gave him.

hmmmmm. . . . I'm perplexed.

So I guess, (to use the words from my favorite book/move, The Princess Bride,) he was not all dead. He was just MOSTLY dead. And now he's mostly alive. So I shall change his name to that of the Princess Bride Hero . . . Wessley.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Introducing the GOALIES!!!!!!!!!!!!

Most of the Goalies Group Members

This is me (middle) Janelle and Joe
My critique group has set up a blog! We call ourselves the "Goalies" because when we were coming up with a name, we were big on setting goals for ourselves. Plus, one of our founding members, Ian Sands, is a goalie for a local ice hockey team. (Ian is also responsible for decapitating our heads and transplanting them on top of goalie bodies.)

The posts are starting to roll! Come on over, add a comment or just say "hi!"

See you on the rink! ;0)

Monday, June 16, 2008

It's my BlogDay!!!


One year ago today I started this blog. I don't really know what prompted the blog. I wasn't sure what to write about. I had friends with blogs and I enjoyed reading those. I'm a writer. Heck. The thought of being able to write about anything made me giddy. I always have journals going at home. I figured that a blog is like a type of journal. So, I dedicated the blog to: art, writing, and creativity in general, but I really didn't know if I had anything worth saying. I was surprised to find that I've encountered some unexpected blessings from keeping a blog.

Here's what they are:

1) I learned not to care if anyone thinks if I have anything "worth" saying. I'm learning to find my authorial voice and I'm having fun doing it. (I normally care about what people think, so this is a big deal for me.) I've noticed that my older posts are a little more stiff and rigid, from caring too much about how I sound or look, and I've become more spontanious and free. More me-ish.

2) Blogging has been a creative writing exercise. It gets me warmed up for my current WIP.

3) I've made some really cool contacts from blogging. Something I never anticipated. It's priceless and fun!

4) Blogging about the things I've learned in conferences and workshops helps me to digest and internalize the things that I've learned.

5) This blog has also become a place where I feel like I can lend support to other writers, whether they be successful authors, aspiring writers or somewhere in between. Book reviews are a form of support for authors. I especially like it when I can do a review for an author that I've met in person or online. That just makes it extra special.

I also hope that my shared info helps aspiring writers during their on-line searches. Lord knows I've had my share of frustrations of googling info on editors, publishers or other things that I wanted to know only to come up empty handed. I truly hope some of the info on this blog will be useful. If it's entertaining as well . . . that's a bonus! :0)

AND. . . to top it off, it just so happens that I found out today that I won a captions contest over at YA Fresh. Can this Blogday get any better? :0) I love this blog. The owners, Authors Tina Ferraro and Kelly Parra not only entertain, but they also support other authors by hosting contests with book giveaways. They don't just give away their own books. They support their fellow authors by giving away their books! They've inspired me by their selfless support and deserve a great big "Shout Out" for what they do! This captions contest was so cute! You need to check out all the entries. they are a hoot! :0)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

A nice neat Magazine Theme list

For those of you write articles for children, here's a super nice gal, Liana Mahoney, who compiles magazine theme lists and updates them every month! Isn't that nice?

Here's her link

Friday, June 13, 2008

And And Now . . . for our next trick: Balancing a Paragraph!

Step right up writers and writermen! Watch and be amazed as our trained acrobat ventures word by word, sentence by sentence, until she reaches the end of her paragraph!

But wait! You too can learn to be a paragraph balancer!

Let's hear it from a pro.

Interviewer: Tell us, Oh great Paragraph balancer. How do you do it? What is your secret?

Great Paragraph Balancer (GPB): Thanks for having me here today. Balancing a paragraph isn't really as hard as you might think. There's only two things you need to remember.

Intervierwer: Only two? Wow! What are those two things? Do tell!

GPB: The first is to balance the action. The reader has to know what is going on AND the characters reaction to the action.

Interviewer: That makes sense.

GPB: Yes it does, but it's so easy to forget about it when there are so many words to cross.

Interviewer: What's the second thing?

GPB: The next thing is consciousness. The reader needs to be able to see the shifts in the characters awareness as he/she perceives what is going on in the characters surroundings.

Interviewer: Oh. I see. No I don't. What does that mean?

GPB: It means that the reader needs to understand what the character is thinking and feeling, but also how she sees what is going on around her and what she thinks about the events that led up to her current circumstance.

Interviewer: Thanks for the great advice Great Paragraph Balancer! I'm ready to start balancing paragraphs of my own! Good luck with your balancing routine! And watch out for those split infinitives! You don't want your rope to break!

(fictionalized interview is based on "Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose, chapter 4)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Almost but not really true story of Princess Manu Scripta and the Magic Key

Once upon a time there was a Queen who had a lovely daughter named Princess Manu Srcipta. Manu Scripta longed for a life of adventure but the princess had a unique problem. She was flat. Flat as a standard piece of plain white paper. Shapeless as the air.

One day Queen Authora decided to cross the dark roads, looming trees and hungry waters of her beloved home, to an enchanted place known as Writersretreat. Oh Yes! Writersretreat is a magical land where Word-smything elves tinker away on keyboards and the sweet scent of coffee fills the air while bowls of fun-sized chocolate bars magically replenish themselves.

There, in the land of Writersretreat, Queen Authora made an appointment to see the Great Fairy Editoria. For she had heard that Editoria was wise and exceedingly kind.

"Please Great Fairy Editoria." Begged the Queen, "Can you give my dear Manu Scripta shape or form? Can you give her arms as strong as a maid-servant and feet as swift as a deer?" Then the Queen began to weep in anticipation of Editoria's reply.

"I will not change the form of your Princess," Editoria said.

The Queen gasped and clutched her chest as if she had just witnessed a tragedy.

"I will, however," Continued Editoria "Give you a key. You must be alert. Keep your eye open for opportunities to use this key. When you do, you and you alone shall restore shape to your precious child."

Editoria pulled a key from her robe and placed it in Authoria's waiting palm. . . . . . .

And that's almost the truth and nothing but the whole embellished truth.

You can find the real story here.

Krista Marino at Delacorte gave me advice that I've been able to apply it through out my entire manuscript, it truly seems as if she had given me a key that can make my MS more vibrant and meaty. It's like my MC has discovered Pilates and she's getting a ripped physique! ;0)

The bottom line of Krista's advice was "add more feeling, emotion and the reactions" of your main character."

That's it.
It seems so simple.

As I have gone through the hard copy of my MS and wrote "feeling/thinking/ reaction" in the margins where I needed more of those things and then followed through to the keyboard--Voila! My story is taking on a whole new shape! Here's a small example of how things are changing.

In one part of the story there was a sentence that went like this: "I took the bracelet off and laid it in his palm."

Then, when I used the magic key of "feeling, thinking, reaction" this is how it shaped up:

I removed my bracelet and paused for a moment with my mouth open. I had too many questions clogging my brain. I wanted to ask them all at once. Instead they mixed all together and stuck in my throat like muck in a storm drain. Yanix stared at me. His open palm lingered mid-air as he leaned forward in anticipation of my words and nodded his head slightly as if to say Go ahead, I’m listening. No one has ever shown undivided interest in what I had to say before. It flustered me and I was too overwhelmed to speak so I simply shrugged and laid the bracelet in his waiting hand.

So, maybe the paragraph still needs some tweaking, but I've got to admit, I think it really adds more to the character and the story. (if I may say so myself:0) It's fun to see my writing improve. Heck, it's not really me anyway. I'm just using the advice I'm getting and running with it. So I guess I'm really bragging on editors and critique buddies. Without them, my character would still be flat and flimsy as a lystserine strip! Thank you, my magical friends!

So, dear-wonderful-folks who have ventured to my blog and brave enough to read this far . . . I now pass on to you the Magic Key: The Key of "Thinking/Feeling/Reaction"

Monday, June 9, 2008

Book Review: Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale

This is a retold fairy tale of a faithful ladies maid who keeps account of her time locked in a tower with her Lady, their escape and their journey to different kingdom where they find work as kitchen workers. This is an entertaining adventure driven by loyalty, trust, perseverance and love.

This book is a great example of "voice" especially when it comes to the protagonists world view. Hale brings the reader into another time and culture where the mindset is diametrically opposed to current day America. The main character is strong, witty, educated and resourceful and yet she is content with her place in the world as deemed by her social status: to serve gentry and do their bidding no matter the cost.

Hale makes the character and her world-view believable through the cohisive use of skillful language, clever imagery and symbolism and the underlying emotional theme that drives the story.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Junk Yard Wars, Revisions and potty scooters

photographers credit: unknown

What do Junk Yard Wars and novel revisions have in common?

In my case, everything. Just look and see if the comparison is as obvious to you as it is to me:

Novel draft 1:
One project. One goal. A mountain of scraps and debris piled in cluttered heaps. (we're talking about my mind. Not the junkyard) What do I use? What tools do I have? What pieces can I use to construct a functioning and noteworthy creation? Through the pile I go; the forgotten memories are pulled out and dusted off, what crumpled wads of joy and sorrow are then disclosed! The shards of broken dreams, dulled further from the elements, call out to be made into something useful. Behold! Twinkling gems of accomplishments, faith and hope can't help but gleam, refusing to be overtaken by the rubble.

Diligently, I gather what I have and lay it out on paper. It's not pretty. If truth be known--it's a stinking mess. But I am a crafter! A creator! I see the possibilities and I am up for the task. (Does this mean I qualify for a super hero costume? I like capes. Can I have a purple cape?)

Novel draft 2:
The pieces come together. Shaped, molded, and examined. It looks a little better.

Novel draft 3:
More honing, more tinkering, some additions, some reductions. It's not done yet, but it's getting there. Junkyard Warriors (AKA critique buddies and editors) who have gone before me have come to my aide and I am able to work their suggestions into my design.

Novel draft 4:
I haven't got this far yet, but I can only dare to dream that my end result will be as creative, useful and enjoyable as the Redneck Super Potty Senior Scooter. What can I say. I set my goals high and AIM!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Now Accepting Requested Book Reviews and Author Interviews

Grand Opening!
I'm now opening up my blog up for requested book reviews and Author Interviews!

I love to celebrate books and even more I like to celebrate and support the authors and illustrators!

If you've written or illustrated books for children or teens, you are welcome to contact me.

My book review philosophy is simple. I like to focus on the positive aspects of a book. I'm not a critic. I love books, I love writing and I prefer to look at the good qualities that make each work unique.

If you are interested in a review of your book, or doing an author interview, you can contact me at

Christy's Creative Space Reviews
Interview with Tina Ferraro
Author Story Nights at my restaurant

Book Review: The Magic Paintbrush

After a tragic house fire, an orphan is sent to China to live with his cantankerous and dirt-poor Grandfather. When Steve finds a magic paintbrush, he is able to grant their wishes, until their greedy landlord finds out about the paintbrush and threatens eviction if they don't give it to him.

This is a touching and compelling MG novel. It's underlying theme explores dealing with the death of a loved one and how memories can be like still having them around. I was drawn in by the character: got teary eyed when he spoke of missing his mom and dad, and my heart lifted with joy when he found the magic paintbrush and discovered that his Grandfather wasn't quite so bad after all. It's a quick and easy read and a great example of voice, character and believable dialogue.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Book Review: Jennifer Murdley's Toad by Bruce Coville

When an unpopular, unattractive girl is chased by a cruel classmate, she stumbles into a Magic Shop where she purchases an immortal talking toad.

I love Coville's Magic Shop Series. They are all so funny and can stand by themselves. So many series are tto alike; they become predictable and rote. Coville finds a way to make each Magic Shop book creative, witty and fun! His creativity inspires me!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Book Review: The Theif Lord by Cornelia Funke

Two orphans runaway in order to remain together. They join a small band of children who have been taken under the wing of the infamous and mysterious Thief Lord. When the Thief Lord is hired to carry out an unusual burglary, the children find that the Thief Lord isn't all he claims to be and they set out toward an island with magical possibilities.

The book started out kind of slow for me. I couldn't get into it until around chapter 10. But once I hit that chapter, I didn't want to put the book down.

The idea is creative, fun and sometimes comical and the characters are endearing.