Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What Kind of Reader Are You?

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you'll go."
    Dr. Seuss, "I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!"

How do you read?
I read with abandon.
I become the book, entering the world that author created fully and completely. I open the book and begin the journey as if I am the characters.
If I want to or not.
I can’t help myself.
I laugh out loud when it’s funny, and cry real tears, (just ask my husband,) when it’s sad, or sweet, or sentimental. I’m a crier, so even when things are very happy, tears of joy fall copiously from my eyes.
I love to be transported, to visit a new world for a few hours.
There is just one problem.
Once I start, I can’t stop.
I must finish the book.
I tell myself, one more page, which usually means three or four, or 100 pages, depending on how late it is and how great the novel is.
So, what kind of reader are you?
Are you a “chapter a night no matter what” reader?
Or, are you a “read a page or two than fall asleep” reader?
Or, are you a “need to devour the book” reader?
Or worse, are you a nonreader?
I know some nonreaders. Life, time, daily activities get all their time. Or maybe TV is their thing.
But, books give you so much more. They force you to dream, fantasize, and even, dare I say . . . think.
You have to do some work. And that is why reading takes you away.
Read what you write. Read what you love. Read fiction and nonfiction.
Read, learn, and dream.

"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read."
    Groucho Marx
That made me laugh, sorry, how’s this quote?
“The reading of all good books is like conversation with the finest men of the past centuries.”
 - Descartes

Laugh, cry, feel, and enjoy a good book,
Happy Thanksgiving,

Monday, November 14, 2011

Inspiration: Where do you find yours?

The definition of inspiration: an inspiring or animating action or influence.

Imagination is more important than knowledge.  Albert Einstein.

Everyday I try to walk my 12 year-old golden retriever, Wally. Not only does he need it and expect it, I need it too. He is getting older so we only walk about 4 blocks, but during those 4 blocks, my mind relaxes, lets go. I see things I wouldn’t normally see; a lizard sunning itself on a rock, a bird gliding with the wind currents, and the many different greens in the grasses, trees and bushes to name a few. This is a time in my day that I feel inspired.

As I wrote in my last blog, Lin Oliver said to take lots of showers. The running water, the feeling of calm, or the lack of inhibition, for any of these reasons, many of us think of our most creative ideas in the shower. I have to wonder, how many writers have ran out of the shower soaking wet in fear that the idea will leave their head before they had the chance to realize it’s full potential.

I also get inspired as I’m drifting off to sleep. That’s when I reach for my notebook and scribble in the dark, my wonderfully brilliant idea. The next morning, I can sometimes even read it!

There are so many ways and places to feel inspired. Read books, blogs, magazines, anything. Listen to music, view beautiful art, or go to the beach or a park and just sit and listen to the world around you.
Whatever works for you on that day, find it and do it.

So in the words of Mark Twain:

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

In other words, be inspired.

Have an inspirational week,

Monday, November 7, 2011

Writers' Day: SCBWI Central/Coastal Region

Writers’ Day: November 6, 2011
SCBWI Central/Coastal California Region

What a busy weekend, and finally its Monday.
I dropped the kids off at school and now I can sit down and write.
(Of course after the short walk I have to give my dog, Wally, or he’ll stare at me and cry all morning.)

Thank you Alexis O’Neil. She is so warm, talented, funny, and she even can sing.
The morning began with me walking into the California Lutheran University auditorium and seeing my friend Lisa wave at me to have a seat. Already, my day felt right. Going to these conferences in the past I felt like a deer in the headlights. I would meet really nice people but was so overwhelmed with learning this world that I felt like I was walking around in a blur. This conference was the first time I was all there. Like I belonged to this world and I welcomed the embrace they so warmly offered. I met people for the third or fourth time but it was like the first time because I was no longer an outsider. True, I’m not published and I am still pretty green, but these are my peeps, my “tribe” as Lin Oliver so eloquently put it in her talk.
            Speaking of Lin Oliver, the co-founder of SCBWI and an extremely successful author, she gave my favorite talk of the day. The title was “The 15 Most Important Things I’ve Learned About Writing” and then she added, in only 48 words. I might as well give you, the readers and the ones not scared to step into Meredith’s Mind for a couple minutes a week, these words of wisdom. They might sound simple and obvious, but they are gems, brilliance, and so important.
1.     Take a lot of showers.  (Inspiration: where do you find yours?)
2. Read deeply.
3. Keep a journal.
4. Follow your weirdness. (Don’t be afraid-you can do it-I won’t laugh…too much.)
5. Do the work.
6. Write in scenes.
7. Frustrate your main character. (It might hurt a little-but it’s worth it.)
8. Build your vocabulary.
9. Eavesdrop. (People can be pretty funny when they don’t know they’re being heard.)
10. Read all of your work out loud. (It’s incredible what you can hear.)
11. Shorten it up.
12. Don’t ever talk down-children are not sentimental.
13. Do Not Preach!  Influence.
14. Give the children the power. The child Must solve the problem.
15. Join the tribe. SCBWI has been so welcoming to me. I love being with these people.
So, right after Lin Oliver finished, I turned to my friend and said, Well, that’s worth the price of admission right there.
The day continued with wonderful authors being spotlighted:
Mara Price: author of Grandma’s Chocolate.
Catherine Linka: speaking about the Paranormal Romance.
Cynthia Hand: author of Unearthly.
Lee Warlaw: author of WON TON- A Cat’s Tale Told in Haiku.
Eugene Yelchin: illustrator of WON TON.
And Ross R. Olney, the author of over 180 fiction and nonfiction books and a SCBWI Member of the Year. Mr. Olney gave an inspirational talk. My favorite line of his was when he said, “I have no talent. Keep trying. Don’t Quit. Write.” Okay, well obviously he has a massive amount of talent, but I felt the take home message of the day was Don’t quit, write. And that’s just what I plan to do,

The end of the day came after the reading of first pages with the wonderful editors, Sally Doherty, Elizabeth Carpentiere and Judy Burke along with Lin Oliver giving their advice. Mine wasn’t picked, but still felt the nerves of the possibility of being picked, then disappointed when it wasn’t.
Anyway, Writers’ Day was over and it was time to pick up my critique. Why do I always get a pit in my stomach when waiting to get critiqued? It’s the same feeling I used to get when I anticipated the teacher calling me for an answer to a question. Will I be good enough?
Well, I guess the answer is- if you ask for a critique, you’ll get one,
Now, the hard part. Reading my critique. It was good with helpful suggestions. So, now to go and do the work. To write. Can’t wait.
Have an inspirational week.

Friday, November 4, 2011

The End of the Innocence.

 Well, My first blog. Thanks to all who are reading it!

Does anyone remember the song by Don Henley, The End of the Innocence
It pops in my mind ever time I’m about to press send and stop myself because I find an error in my query or my computer does crazy things to my manuscript. 
But it’s done, over. Today is the day. No more stalling. I know my manuscript is ready. I’m confident and excited. I do sound innocent, don’t I? Maybe I'll send it tomorrow...
I figure this a perfect day to start my blog--the day before sending out my first queries. My mind is fresh, I am anticipating all the wonderful things in my future and most of all…I haven’t had any rejections yet!! That’s so cool. They have to all love my manuscript, right?? At least I can be hopeful.