Archive for January, 2010


 Way before I even considered pursuing writing full time, my wife, Dana was getting her MFA in Creative Writing and cranking out some very cool creative non-fiction.

After she got her MFA, she taught part-time at the University Of Alaska for several years, and then landed a full-time Professor position about seven years ago teaching Developmental English.

Last year she got her tenure. And this year she applied for a year-long Sabbatical and we just found out that she got it! Hooray!!!

These are the flowers I got her.

So, for the academic year, 2010-2011 we’re going to have two full-time writers in our house because Dana’s writing a novel for her Sabbatical project!

I asked Dana if she wanted to get a treadmill and set it up along-side mine, but she prefers to do her writing sitting down and her walking outside. Strange, I know.

Dana reads my work when she has the time. And she doesn’t just say: “Oh, honey, this is lovely, just great that you wrote this…

She tears apart my tenses and hands me a shovel to fill plot holes. She works over a manuscript the way you want it worked over. Your tail might be down just a little bit because you’ve just been shown that your story needs a little more work than you thought it did, but at the same time your tail is wagging because you’ve just received some encouragement, direction and ideas.

Two years ago when I told Dana I wanted to resign from my teaching job to pursue writing full-time, she responded with three words: GO FOR IT.

When Dana starts tapping the key board, I hope I can provide the kind of support for her that she does for me.

What is your best advice for supporting other writers?

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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I’ve done a bad thing. I’ve received some Blog Awards over the past few months and am just now getting to them. And, I have a confession to make.

The first time I got an award I was totally clueless. I’d just started blogging, didn’t really know anything about the blogosphere besides the agent blogs I’d been reading. I just used the internet for agent and fact finding research, and to read the news.

 Facebook was a far away planet.

Twitter was something my Great Uncle Elmo did when he couldn’t find his suspenders.

 U-tube was a sock brand.I pretty much stayed in my writer’s cave until I accepted an offer of representation from Jennifer DeChiara.

My internet presence consisted of some race times for the handful of marathons and other road races I’ve run the past few years.

Once I started looking around, I saw all these blogs. Yeah, duh, Paul. There’s a lot of other writers out there and they’ve got an internet presence while it looks like you’re hiding from the law.

The week after I signed with Jennifer I had simple website and a blog. Talk about a learning curve!

So, back to the awards. I thanked these awesome writers on their blogs in their comments sections but never recognized them  on my blog. And, if I have left anyone out, it is my fault. I apologize.

Mary Campbell  over at Writer’s Butt does not apply to me gave me this one. Thanks, Mary.

I sure felt like a flake having no clue how to make the award magically appear on my blog.

I think this one was next.

Thanks, Lisa Desrochers and Dawn Simon. Lisa just got a three book deal! And Dawn is close to querying her novel. With this award, I think I’m supposed to confess to the crimes I’ve committed, which jails I’ve done time in, and my adventures skipping bail. We’ll save that for a future post.

ali Cross gave me this one. Thanks, ali.

I’ve just gotta say, ali’s blog is overflowing with poetry and music. She’s got a beautiful blog. I can’t wait to read one of her books.

Elana Johnson gave me this one. Thanks, Elana.

Talk about a blogging writer. I’m guessing she doesn’t sleep much. She’s managed to write, I don’t know how many novels, I think that’s a secret, (but I’m confident we’ll see one of them on the shelves soon,) and another book: From the Query to the Call.  Every time I find a new blog there’s a comment from Elana. She’s everywhere.  She’s like the definition of an Internet Presence. I’ve learned a ton reading her blog.

I know I’m supposed to pass these on, but I’ll save that for another post. This one is already twice as long as I’d like it to be. When I was teaching I always had a hard time giving out awards. I usually ended up giving at least one to each of my students at the end of the year.

Thank you for the awards, and thank you all for stopping by my blog.

Okay, now it’s back to work on my YA adventure/survival story. I’m hoping to rewrite at least one chapter per day. If you’re still with me, just tell me this: What are you working on this week? What do you hope to accomplish?

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A few years ago I went to my first writers conference: The Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Conference. This year it’s in Sandy, Utah at the Waterford School.

I walked in with twelve pages of my second young adult novel, and walked out five days later with a full manuscript request. That request didn’t turn into an offer, but the conference experience motivated me. It clued me in to a lot that I did not know, and supported me in such a way that I came out feeling that anything was possible.

Mornings were spent in a writers workshop critiquing each others’ work and receiving expert instruction. Afternoons had special sessions plus time set aside to talk with the agents, editors, authors. I spent my evenings writing because I was so energized by the buzz. The experience at the conference was one of the main factors that inspired me to pursue writing full-time. Flash forward a couple of years: I have an agent and my third YA novel is out on submission. 

I traveled from Alaska to Utah for that Conference and it was worth every penny. If you write YA, MG, or picture books, or you’re an illustrator, and you can make it to Utah in June, don’t miss it.

They have beginning, intermediate and advanced workshops. Just talk to conference orgainzer, Carol Lynch Williams. She’s a gem of a person–an amazing writer and writing teacher. She will make sure you get into the workshop that best fits your skill level.

 Here’s the information and the link.

 2010 Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Workshop

The Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Workshop brings together writers, illustrators, agents, and editors to explore craft, genre, and current publishing practices.

Full-day participants spend their mornings in small workshops led by award-winning faculty. Both full- and half-day participants enjoy afternoon plenary sessions by national children’s book editors and an agent, as well as breakout sessions by our workshop faculty and guest presenters. The keynote address and book signing are open to all conference attendees.

Join us June 14 – 18 at the Waterford School in Sandy, Utah for a better than ever conference experience.

Registration is now open!

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I’ve got a novel I’ve been working on for a few years. Yeah, it’s the first novel I wrote. You know, the one that you show to family and a few friends and they love it, and you think by next year at the latest you’ll see this thing in print because ignorance is bliss and you know nothing about how publishing works. All you know is that you just wrote a freaking novel and you had a blast doing it.

Then you show it to a few writers and they congratulate you for finishing a novel.

Then they politely point out that should you choose to continue writing you’ve only just begun. Then you start to learn about the publishing industry and the few paths available to access it.

Maybe you’ve had this experience, maybe you haven’t. I’ve come back to my first novel a few times over the years. I love the premise and actually had a bunch of requests when I queried it, but I know it can be a double edged sword to engage with it now.

One little voice says: Just burn it and be done. Work on something new.

Another little voice says: Keep working on it. You know the premise is sound, and you’re drawn to it, and now that you’ve improved as a writer you just need to properly execute this sucker.

You’ve got friends, published authors who’ve sold earlier books, so why can’t you?

What do you do with your early attempts? Do you chuck them into the woodstove or dust them off and keep working on them?

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A couple of fun links

If you’re in need of laughter, check out Betsy Lerner’s post on writing a synopsis at The Forest for the Trees.

If you want to smile, read Kyra’s interview with agent, Stephen Fraser at Throwing Up Words.

Have a great weekend!!

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