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Birth announcement for Melissa Roske’s debut novel!

I am beyond excited this morning: Melissa Roske, one of my “ducklings” as I secretly call my writing students and freelance clients, is celebrating a huge milestone today. Her first novel, KAT GREENE COMES CLEAN, is available for pre-order on Amazon today. I’ve already ordered two copies, one for her to autograph next June when the book finally comes out, and one for my iPad. you know, so I can carry KAT around with me everywhere.

screen-shot-2016-10-16-at-12-03-39-pmAnd to celebrate, she’s offering a book giveaway over at Nerdy Book Club, along with an interview with Nathan Duffey, the artist who created the cover.

Days like this I am extra-grateful that I’ve got two new knees: because now I can really do a happy dance for Melissa. [Which I am doing due to the beat of Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling,” in case you’re interested.] I was privileged to be there as a kind of midwife, easing Melissa though the first few revisions of this warm and funny and insightful middle grade novel. So it gives me deep joy to know that soon everyone else is going to have the chance to find out for themselves what a fantastic writer she is.

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Another plug for the serial comma

As my students and clients know, I am a big fan of the serial, or Oxford comma—you know, that punctuation mark that belongs in a list of three or more things before the word and.

lions, tigers, and bears

For such a tiny little squiggle, the serial comma elicits a lot of heated debate. The British writer Lynne Truss defended it beautifully—and hilariously—in the New York Times bestseller Eats, Shoots & Leaves.

If you can’t make time to read Truss’ book [although really, you should], here is a quick two-minute video by New Yorker copy editor Mary Norris, aka the Comma Queen. I couldn’t say it better.

 

Mary Norris

Queen Mary has a new book that I’m eager to read. It’s entitled Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen. Has anyone else read it yet?

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Ditching the morning pages for something different

The purple cast is gone, thank goodness. Although it took much longer than I anticipated to be functional again on my poor right leg—and there is still a long way to go before I can get that calf muscle back to full strength. May you never hurt your Achilles tendon!

But I think the post-op brain fog I wrote about last time has finally dissipated, at least enough for me to put up a new post over at Spontaneous Combustion about my experiment with Julia Cameron’s morning pages. Two weeks turned into a month before I stopped. And although there were aspects of the practice that I liked, I ultimately concluded that it was a failure, at least for my purposes.

So now I’m changing the experiment, mulling over my own twist on freewriting that might work better to achieve my personal writing goal—which is to end each writing session with a piece of useable prose, a decent first draft, not just rambling “word salad.” Join me over at Spontaneous Combustion to share in the experiment.

If it’s fall, it must be time for another surgery

Rowdy Meet Rowdy, my new ride for the next four to six weeks. Although I did manage to make it through October without heading to the OR—the first time in four years that’s happened—that heady freedom didn’t last long. Because on Nov. 12th, I will be ending up in surgery after all, this time to repair my Achilles tendon. I will have to be off the leg completely for at least a month: hence the nifty little red knee scooter. Do I know how to have fun or what?

My neurotic need for redundancy finally pays off

I apologize for the long silence. After a summer tsunami of work—culminating in a four-book project for educational publisher Amplify—I needed a break. So I snuck off for a week-long sabbatical.

Upon my return, look what I found!

 

This is the title of an article I wrote on computer backups that was just published in the October 2013 edition of the electronic magazine Children’s Writer. Seeing my name in print again is great inspiration to shift back into full work mode again.

And it tickles me because my husband has long teased  that my obsession with backing up everything I write, not just to one place but to several, amounts to a “neurotic need for redundancy.” At long last my neurosis had paid off—in an article sale.

A snail’s pace: better than no pace at all

It’s been another crazy week in a summer full of them—which is good news for my bank account, but bad news for my middle grade novel. I’ve been busy with teaching and manuscript critiques, and this week I had a book deadline Tuesday, with two more next week—and I just got the specs three days ago. Yikes! [Lest I mislead you into thinking that I can leap tall buildings in a single bound, these are very short books for second and third graders that I am doing on a work-for-hire basis for an educational publisher.]

I like being busy, but I had hoped to have my usually lazy summer so I could finish up my middle grade novel. No such luck. It doesn’t help that although I can write non-fiction any time, anywhere, and do it in a flash, when it comes to fiction, I am glacially slow. I am beginning to feel a little desperate, not only about ever finding time to do this, but also about ever finding the peace and quiet I need to concentrate.

Then I saw this little guy on my walk yesterday morning, and I remembered—in writing, speed doesn’t count. What matters is that you keep adding to your story, one line, one word, even one syllable at a time.

SnailTweaked

 

Good news/bad news

I got good news this morning: I sold an article to the SCBWI Bulletin! The bad news though is that it’s one of the pieces on my Free wisdom page, which means I have to temporarily take down. So I apologize, but the article about using a Kindle or iPad as a way to get fresh eyes when proofreading a manuscript will have to disappear from the site—just for a while.

However, the good thing about the SCBWI Bulletin is that unlike some other publications, you retain all rights to anything you publish there. So after a decent interval, I will be able to publish the proofreading article again.

Spontaneous Combustion is here!

I finally managed to pry the manuscript out of my fearful perfectionist hands, and hit the “publish” button. My first indie project, Spontaneous Combustion, is now officially a book! I’d set my birthday as a deadline, to force myself to finally let go of after revising and proofing it umpteen times. And I just made the deadline: whew!

BookCoverImageIt’s more of a why-to book on writing than a how-to; a kind of tent revival for writers in the creative doldrums. I hope the book follows its own advice: to see the worth and meaning in what we do as writers without taking ourselves too seriously in the process. So I mock myself, and make some unusual suggestions in the book that I’m fairly sure you won’t find in any other book on writing. [See chapters 7 and 8 for these.]

It should be available for download tonight [April 21st] as a Kindle book, with the print version arriving on Amazon by the end of the week. But if you have trouble finding it, please use the contact form on the website to let me know, or email me directly at strawspinner@gmail.com.

I’ve already had my first request for a Nook version. Because I’m participating in what Amazon calls the Kindle Select program, I can’t sell the e-book anywhere else: not even on my own website. Sorry Nook and iPad users (of which I am one myself). But the exclusivity only lasts 90 days, so I’ll have the option then to move back to the regular Kindle program, which would permit me to sell anywhere, including Barnes and Noble and the iTunes bookstore.

So if you are interested in a Nook or iPad version, please fill out the contact form and let me know. In the meantime, you can always read the Kindle version using one of Amazon’s free Kindle reading apps, or even online in your web browser using Amazon’s Kindle Cloud Reader. Since I chose not to use DRM protection on the Kindle version, you can also use a piece of freeware called Calibre to convert it to a form that you can then load onto your Nook or iPad. So no one should be left out in the cold.

Twitching with words: new article up today

I finally finished that article on what I call literary tics: that almost spasmodic kind of repetition that we all do in our writing without realizing it. Repetition can take the form of a word we use constantly, a way of crafting sentences that we repeat over and over, a plot element, or even a punctuation mark. Take a look!

And no, I haven’t forgotten about my secret project. I believe I promised that I would have more information in weeks rather than months. Well, despite the best sabotaging efforts of my perfectionist self, I might just get in under that self-imposed deadline. In fact, I hope to be back tomorrow with the big reveal.

Pollen storm 2013!

Just got back from a walk through a veritable blizzard of pollen. That’s what we get instead of snow. And it’s inspired an idea for a new dystopian novel. How about this?

In a world where pollen storms rage for months at a time, only the hardy few who had stockpiled Kleenex and Claritin survive.

There are some compensations, however. Look at this photo that I took on my iPhone of the wisteria in my neighbor’s yard: lovely!

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