Tuesday Writer Blog Under Construction

We’re under construction here at the Tuesday Writer blog. Next week we will be starting a new format.

  • Tuesdays we will talk about new books being released on the market.
  • Themed Thursday will continue in the same manner with each of us contributing our thoughts on a weekly theme.
  • Friday’s will be for anything book related. It will include book reviews, conference information as well as interesting things about books and writing like: My novel, Rager, is a finalist in the thriller category for the Florida Edgar Alan Poe (Freddie) award. Rager is about a college freshman who parties like he’s possessed and the girl next door exorcist. The winner will be announced at the Sleuthfest writing conference in Boca Raton, March 1-4.

We are excited for this new format and look forward to bring you lots of fabulous information about books and writing. We look forward to seeing you on Tuesday!

Themed Thursday: Our Favorite Thing About Writers’ Conferences

Joanne Butcher

Joanne: It’s always wonderful to be at a writing conference with so many like-minded people. I love catching up with old friends and making new ones. My favorite thing about a writing conference is the little gems about craft that I learn. I always find I can’t wait to get back to my work in progress and try them out.

Jonathan Rosen

Jonathan: My favorite thing about writing conferences is getting to spend time with friends and other writers. It’s always fun to get to be with people who have the same interests as you and who know what you’re going through.

Cathy Castelli

Cathy: There are magic moments at writing conferences: when you get that one little tidbit of info that clicks in relation to your novel, when you are back together with your tribe, when the agent wants to see the full, and when two Joan Jetts meet on the dance floor and win the costume contest.

Faran Fagen

Faran: My favorite thing about writers’ conferences is meeting authors and hearing their stories about why they became a writer. Inevitably, the answer is to create more readers among children and make kids feel like they’re part of something special as they turn each page. That’s what I want too–to help kids feel they belong in this world. Meeting other writers with that same mission is beyond empowering.

Melody Maysonet

Melody: My favorite thing about writers’ conferences is the workshops themselves. I love hanging out with other writers–there’s a definite spirt of togetherness at every conference I attend–but the learning part is what stays with me. Almost every workshop I attend, I have an aha! moment, and it’s those yummy little morsels that help me improve my craft.

Tuesday Tips: Dealing with Negativity

It’s getting harder to think of writing tips that I haven’t already shared, so I’m going to talk about something I always struggle with in my writing. My internal editor.

Having been a professional editor, it’s hard to turn off the part of my brain that tells me this word isn’t right or this sentence doesn’t flow or this scene is falling flat.

It makes me a very slow writer.

And it’s frustrating to still be working on my second book when others in my critique group are flying through their third or fourth…

At least it seems like they’re flying. I don’t see their internal struggles. All I see is them coming to group with a thick sheaf of pages to read, and what they read is always so good.

So here I am reminding myself not to compare, reminding myself that we all have different paths and different methods and blah blah blah.

I like to think that my internal editor—while making me a slow writer—also makes me a good writer. And I guess it does, but it’s hard to be happy about that when I’ve been slogging through the same scene for three days. Today I’ll read that scene aloud to my critique group. Hopefully it will be worth all the effort I poured into it.

I have to admit, it usually is.

 

 

I Went to that Conference!

Going to the conference really gets the creativity flowing! Saturday night at the SCBWI Florida Regional Conference is a dinner and costume contest. Here are most of the Tuesdays dressed as Dogs Playing Poker. You were supposed to dress as your favorite work of art.

Who doesn’t love a classic painting?

Of course, there were others like us who were selected as finalists.  See if you can guess who won?

The Marilyns

 

Frida

Bob Ross and his paining

The Girl with the Pearl Earring

When’s the last time you dressed in costume?

The Most Fun Friday of the Year: SCBWI January Conference!

It’s that time again, people. It’s SCBWI January conference. I’ve been attending this conference since 2009 and have only missed it one time since.

The January conference is magic to me. I used to go with hopeful expectations about meeting that agent or editor that would see promise in my work. Now I go to see good friends, hang with writing people, and work on craft.

One of my favorite events at this conference is the First Books Panel. This is where those who have published their first book the previous year get to stand in front of the room and tell their story. It is inspirational. It is beautiful. It is not to be missed.

This year one of own Tuesday Writers, Jonathan Rosen, will take his place on that stage and I can’t wait. It’s one of those rites of passage and he’s earned it. He knows we will all be cheering him on from the audience.

Also this January, my agent (also Jonathan and Marjetta’s), will be in attendance. Nicole Resciniti has changed my life, is changing my friends’ lives, and is just so smart. I can’t wait to see her. I can’t wait to pitch my new idea to her (yes, I have a new idea!). She makes me feel interesting and talented and worthwhile. Those are things us writers need on a regular basis.

I also hear from some sources that The Tuesdays will be doing a group costume for the costume ball on Saturday night. And it’s hilllllarious. Tuesdays rock. We are all in!

On Saturday, one of my good friends, Shutta Crum, will also be presenting on how to write books that matter. Shutta is such a great example to the writing community. She was a librarian, and knows so much about the writing process from beginning to end. She. Is. The. Real. Deal. I can hardly wait.

But most of all, I think for me, this conference is going to be about getting to be a real writer for the entire weekend. My third book (The Secrets We Bury) releases in March and I’m really excited about that. And this weekend I’ll be spending time with most of the people who helped me make that happen. Talk about finding your bliss.

So as I get to watch friends get critiques, I also get to hope they get to live the dream I’m living. I get to cheer everyone on. I get to clap for the  Rising Kite winners, which will be announced on Sunday. And I get to hang with super cool, fun, hard working dreamers like myself.

Bring it on, Florida SCBWI. I. Am. So. Ready.

Our Writing Resolutions for 2018

Faran Fagen

Faran: My main writing goal for 2018 is to make my pages as exciting as possible so boys will read them. Would like my writing to coax a boy into reading who normally wouldn’t pick up a book. If I can do that, the writing must be strong.

Melody Maysonet

Melody: I happened to look at my last year’s resolution, and this is what it said: “This year I’m determined to finish my next book (with revisions) so my agent can start trying to sell it.” Well, I guess I dropped the ball on that one (pardon the pun), but it’s not like I haven’t made progress. I’m over halfway done and the book is getting better all the time. This year (hopefully!) I’ll finish it.

Cathy Castelli

Cathy: I need to focus on the end of Flying Blind. I’ve gotten into a bad loop by going back to the beginning over and over. It’s time to loop near the end. I know what’s going to happen. I just need to get the words on the page. Once that’s done, I’m going to let the book rest awhile and begin my new book which has been dancing around in my brain for six months.

Joanne Butcher

Joanne: I’m finishing up the revision of a novel that’s about a college freshman who parties like he’s possessed and the girl next door exorcist. My writing resolution is to write my next novel fast, not fretting about whether I’m getting things perfect as I go along. I want to get all my ideas out and let the revision process take care of the details.

Jonathan Rosen

Jonathan: My New Year’s writing resolution is simple. Write more. I do spend a lot of time writing now, but I want to complete more projects. I usually take a lot of time to do each project, but now I want to get more done.

Stacie Ramey

Stacie: Every year since I was first published, I’ve set new writing goals. I write these goals down. I pen easy goals, medium hard goals, and total stretch goals. Last year I wanted to extend my reach to readers by attending book festivals. I attended April is for Authors, the YA Fest in Easton, Pennsylvania, and Trinity Prep Author Fest. A pretty good year all in all. This year I want to continue with author festivals and also work on a picture book and a short story. In addition to having a book come out in March and revising my 2019 release. You gotta keep moving. Right? Comment below and tell us what your goals are for this year. I hope 2018 is a year filled with wonder and success for all of you.

No More Million Monkeys

After a nearly three-week writing hiatus for the holidays, I was dreading getting back to writing (just as I was dreading getting back to my exercise routine and my healthy eating routine and my generally disciplined life). So when the day came that I had to park my butt in chair, I told myself I’d re-read the last few chapters of my work-in-progress to re-familiarize myself with the story. You’d think that the person who wrote the book wouldn’t need a refresher, but I forget plot details in my writing the same way that I forget plot details in TV shows. I always need the recap. And even though I felt like I was copping out on a writing day by re-reading chapters instead of actually moving forward, I’m so glad I did.

Having been so long away from it, I was able to read the chapters with a fresh eye, as though someone else had written them. Sometimes when I do that—when I go back to something I’ve written after a long hiatus—I cringe when I’m reading. (This sucks! I tell myself). But not this time. This time I was like, I wrote this? It’s really good! Which tells me a few things I really need to hear.

It tells me first of all that this novel I’m writing—which is in its third rewrite (the other two versions belonging squarely in the “This Sucks” category)—is finally coming together. I wrote and rewrote for years in order to find the plot, to sink into the characters, to create the emotional resonance that all good books must have. But finally, finally, FINALLY, I think I have it.

Notice I used the word think. I’m my own worst critic, but rereading my chapters also told me that I’m actually a pretty good writer. Not pretty good. I’m a very good writer. (See how I do that with the positive reinforcement?) But I have to work at it. I have to write and scrap and write again and revise and step away and re-read and scrap… (You get the picture.) Sometimes I feel like those million monkeys—if you sit a million monkeys before a million typewriters, eventually they’ll turn out something worth reading. But the truth is, even though my early drafts aren’t up to snuff, they’re not horrible, and once I chisel my story from the giant block of stone, I’m kind of in awe of myself.

And I’m not one to toot my own horn (really, I’m not), but sometimes you need an ego boost, even if it’s from yourself, and since I’m usually telling myself how much my writing sucks, it doesn’t hurt, and it actually gives me strength, to congratulate myself once in a while on a job well done.

Because truth be told, I’m going to need all the strength I can get to finish this book.

Go to that Conference!

Whether you are a beginner or have been writing for some time, you should make it a point to go to writing conferences. The first SCBWI Miami Conference I attended was after I had only been writing for a year.

I knew almost nothing.

Maybe it was too early for me to go? I read and re-read the conference brochure thinking about which speakers I would skip in favor of a nap in my hotel room.

I didn’t skip one word.

Napping was for losers!

I learned so much, and I found a group of other newbies to hang with.

So what do you write?

Mystery? Mystery Writers of America is having Sleuthfest in March 2018. http://sleuthfest.com/

Romance? Romance Writers of America will hold their annual conference in Denver this year. https://www.rwa.org/events

If you write for children, like me, you can still register for this weekend’s conference in Miami. (And you still have time to get your costume together for Saturday night!) https://florida.scbwi.org/

No matter what you write, there is a conference for you. Go.  You’ll be surprised how much you learn.

A Shout-Out to My Family

Well, it’s my turn for Fun Friday, and since I had such a wonderful time with my family over the holidays, I thought I’d write about how important family is to my productivity as a writer.

Fifteen years ago, my husband’s home-grown business was doing well enough that one of us could quit our nine-to-five job. Because he knew I wanted to someday be a published writer, he graciously decided that I should be the one to quit so I could dedicate myself to my dream. Years later, he was also able to quit working for someone else, so now we both work from home—only he’s the one who supports us. (That’s right—beginning writers like me don’t tend to make a lot of money.) So thank you, Adam, for giving me the freedom to write.

My son, too, is part of my support system, even if it’s passive support. Because he’s only thirteen, he’s not allowed to read my first (and so far only) published novel, so he has a hard time appreciating what I do. But he does respect it—and he knows how important it is to me. He understands that even though I haven’t left the house, I am in fact working, and he knows to keep the noise level and disturbances to a minimum. So thank you, Caleb, for never making me feel guilty for sitting at my computer for half the day, even when you want me to pack it up already and play video games with you.

Finally, there’s the family I grew up with. I only get to see my mom, three sisters, and brother once or twice a year (they all live in Illinois and I’m in Florida), but I can feel their cheerleading vibes from a thousand miles away. Knowing they support me no matter how dark, disturbing, or graphic my storylines get is invaluable to me. When I write, I lay myself bare—all my vulnerabilities, fears, defects—and knowing that I’ll be loved no matter what allows me to feel safe, even while I’m setting myself up to be judged. So thank you, Mom, Dawn, Eva, Harrison, and Megan (and also my numerous aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, brothers-in-law and family members who are not officially family but close enough) for giving me the confidence to write what’s in my heart.

Writing is a solitary business, lonely sometimes and definitely isolating. Which is why it’s so important to have support from family. Friends and acquaintances sometimes don’t understand how all-consuming writing can be—they’re less forgiving of the time commitment—but family, or at least my family, gets it. So thank you, my awesome family. I wouldn’t be able to dedicate myself so fully to writing if I didn’t have your support and encouragement. 

Things We Didn’t Know We’d Have To Do As Writers

Melody Maysonet

Melody: Who knew I’d have to do so much self-promotion? My publicist told me that whenever I received a positive book review, to post it on social media. It got to the point where I was rolling my eyes at myself. (“Here she goes again… talking about how great she is.”) Self-promotion definitely doesn’t come naturally to me, but I’ve learned ways to do it without sounding like I’m full of myself. A lot of my strategy has to do with being grateful. So instead of saying, “Wow, I got a Kirkus Star! Aren’t I great?” I can say, “I’m so grateful to Kirkus for awarding A Work of Art the Kirkus Star.” (See how I slipped in that A Work of Art was named a best book of 2015 by YA Books Central? Oh, I meant, the Kirkus Star.) And yes, employing humor is another way to self-promote without sounding arrogant.

Faran Fagen

Faran: I didn’t know you’d have to put so much into marketing yourself on social media, but now that I’ve been doing it I enjoy it. I’ve gotten to meet people I never would have known, and I got to learn from new ideas. It’s also helped me keep in touch with old friends.

Cathy Castelli

Cathy: I didn’t know how much self-promotion I was going to have to do. Sales, PR, putting myself out there on social media to beef up my web presence. It’s exhausting to think about, so I don’t. My father says to chip away at things. Just one thing at a time!

Joanne Butcher

Joanne: Revise, revise, revise, learn more about the craft of writing and revise yet again. When I set out to write a novel I was very naive about the process. I had a friend who had written a non-fiction book in a year. I thought it would take that long for me to complete a novel. I have learned that it’s a many layered process that takes the average fiction writer about ten years until they land an agent and publisher.