Yesterday, I took a break from my regularly-scheduled writing to pick one of the most enjoyable items on my to-do list: a friend’s book to critique. It’s science fiction for middle graders– and it’s laugh-out-loud funny. Really! I think soda came out my nose, I was cracking up so much!

When I finished, I gave the manuscript to my ten-year-old son. (Yes, I had permission.) He kept cracking up, too–even ran to find me at one point to read me a particularly great scene.

I love having a circle of writing friends who read and critique each others’ work. I know my writing has improved many-fold due to the feedback from these folks.

The unseen benefit of a critique group is that when you start dissectin what does and doesn’t work in someone else’s novel, you get better at dissecting your own.

Plus you get to read awesome books before the rest of the world. What more could you want?

— Cheryl :-)

The Mixed-Up Writer

A few days ago, I mailed off my latest manuscript to my editor, Gary Heidt. This is the contemporary YA, the one that takes place in Peru. Letting it go out the door was hard!

I think it’s because, strangely enough, I believe this is the best book I’ve ever written. Sounds weird, but there is a strange sort of logic to it: as long as I don’t show it to anyone in the real world, I can believe that it’s The One that will break into publication.

Of course, I also had to fight the urge to drag it back into the house during a sudden attack of no-way-is-this-ready-to-submit-itis.

I think half of writing is learning to notice your thoughts, sensations, and emotions enough to pour them onto the page, infusing life into your writing.

The other half? Ignoring the thoughts/sensations/emotions that don’t move you forward, so you CAN put words on the page.

— Cheryl :-)

One of “those” days….

Did you ever have one of those days when a hundred unexpected events conspire to keep you from writing? Or when you’re coming off a few very productive days—and emerge from your creative fog long enough to realize that the rest of your life needs, well, a bit of love and attention?

That’s me right now! fairy

I’ve been cranking out a rewrite for the past two weeks, eager to send it off to my new agent (grin), plus working on homework for a continuing ed class I’m taking (also a grin), plus trying to keep some forward momentum on the series of science books I’m working on for an educational publisher, plus bidding on jobs through Elance so I keep a bit of income while I wait for all the other projects to bear fruit, plus…well, you get the idea. And today I woke up and realized that I need to catch up on laundry, bills, gardening, house cleaning, and overall clutter reduction—in a serious way.

Isn’t there a writing fairy to take care of these sorts of things for us when the muse is singing?

On the flip side, I’m in such a bouncy-happy mood from all the writing time, I’m not stressed about the mess.

And when I’m happy, my family’s happy.

Ooh—did I just deduce that writing is a viable alternative to housework? ‘Cause if the family’s happy, I must be doing something right!

:) Cheryl

Summertime Inspiration

thrillrides You know how we’re all trying to balance summer, family, and writing time? Well, yesterday was a day off from my writing to-do list so I could take my oldest to the amusement park before he heads out to summer camp.

I have to tell you, there is no better place for character research.

At an amusement park, you see people of all ages, from all kinds of backgrounds, of all different colors.

You spend most of your time waiting in line for rides. For the observant writer, this is one incredible opportunity to hear teenage girls discuss their boyfriends…or hear an overexcited 8-year-old interacting with his parents…or hear a young couple’s spat…or hear an elderly couple discussing their children.

I guess Stephanie Green got it right over at Through the Tollbooth: summer is a great time for input.
And if you’re looking for input on hyperdrive—take your kids to the nearest amusement park. You’ll have character ideas to last you the rest of the year!

:) Cheryl