Thoughts on Editing a Book

This is a writing blog. It's a record of my thoughts on writing. 
Ironically, I've often struggled with what I want to write about in this space. Time spent writing at my house (six kids, remember!) is limited, and I can't spend hours blogging "about writing" while I fail to work on my writing. As I've thought about this the past few months, I've had these thoughts:

1. I want the content on this blog to be useful to other writers, or interesting to those who want to know more about the world of writing.
2. I want my time spent here to be improving my own writing craft. Let's hit two birds with one stone, amiright?
3. I want to be able to share my writing, rather than horde it on my computer (even if/when agents/editors aren't ready to do the same). Writing is interactive, it needs to be coupled with reading, and I shouldn't have to give that part of writing up because of the faraway opinions of people I don't know.

Sooooooo, I started a f…

Unfurl - First Draft Poetry

My written thoughts always come out in the first draft in a somewhat "poetic" form. 

Bearskin's first real draft (there was an original draft that is nowhere near the same book) was written primarily in poems that I later fleshed out. One of my drawer manuscripts, Of Two Minds, was also written in poems to begin with, though it has only kept a few of its poems for its final draft. 

I *blame* this on my childhood obsession with L.M. Montgomery. Something of the rhythm of her writing has formed a big corner of my foundation when it comes to writing. I don't know that anyone else will see the similarity, but in my head, it's all growing from the same place. 

So last year, when I had a year of moving and baby-birthing and such, I told myself I'd write a poem a day to keep my writing habit. It pulled me through those months, and I enjoyed the simplicity of a short poem. I didn't need to flesh out the middle, or come up with small plot lines, or make sure I was de…

Le Guin Exercises #2 - Punctuation

Punctuation? Punctuation! Lot, and lots, and lots of punctuation!

This week's Ursula LeGuin prompt (from Steering the Craft) is to try writing a piece without punctuation so that, as an author, you notice why you use punctuation. I added onto the prompt in the following ways:

1. I took @anndeecandy's memoir prompt for the day for a topic, allowing myself 10 minutes to write with no corrections.

Topic: A time when you've been an outsider.

2. I also decided to punctuate the piece abnormally afterwards, and see if I could make it funny. It hurt my heart to punctuate incorrectly, and only a few parts were funny.

3. I decided to punctuate the piece normally. (I wanted to delete some words to make it cleaner, but I went with my "no corrections" assignment from above.)

And after all that.... I'm pretty sure I still want to stick with punctuation.

Here goes:

An outsider. No punctuation.
There are people who know how to talk to each other you know they like talking the…

Evening in the Summer - First Draft Poetry


I do not jump.
Beside me, little feet do.
There is a gentle up and down to the movement they create,
a shush, shush,
a press against my back.

Above me,
in the bright blue sky,
seeds, surrounded with fuzz,
float through the sky.
Left to right.
Left to right.

I watch the seeds,
their gauzy travels riveting,
and all is still.
Bounce, bounce.
Shush, shush.
And all that floating.

LeGuin Exercises - Number One - "Being Gorgeous"

Have you ever tried to write for the purpose of language only? I think I'm more "into language" than other writers, though I wouldn't say I know where to draw the line. Many a year of my childhood was spent inhaling L.M. Montgomery books. There's definitely some rolling sentences in those books.... some paragraphs that go on and on and on, just because the words are trailing one another and having a great time. I've tried to not be so "poetic" in my writing, but often my first drafts come out as a sort of long-handed poetry. I try to make more useful sentences. To stop repeating things, just because I found another more exciting way to say it. Purple Prose is on the outs and outs, some would say. But this prompt is all for the words. I still can't say I'm good at onomatopoeia. But I love me some good alliteration.

What are some of your favorite "wordy" sentences????

Exercise One: Being Gorgeous
Part One, 15 minutes of writing
(This p…

Writing Exercises

A few months ago, I finished reading Ryan Graudin's Invictus. As I set the book down on my night-table, and considered another recent read (Maggie Steifvater's All The Crooked Saints) I had the distinct thought: YOU MUST LEARN TO WRITE BETTER.

I have been writing purposefully for eleven years now. My writing has been interspersed with the birth of six children, two moves across the country, and working to help my husband earn his PhD. I have written six novels during this time, and I consider that an accomplishment, but the fact of the matter is that I can do better. I can be a better writer. And if I want to move forward, I need to be a better writer.

So, how to be a better writer?

A friend of mine suggested listening to Writing Excuses, a podcast you can find here. I enjoy these fifteen minute podcasts while folding laundry, mowing the lawn, and otherwise ignoring my children. It's always helpful to listen writers discuss their many methods and mistakes when it comes to …


Yesterday, my oldest daughter came home with the registration cards for her next year of Middle School. She clattered on about it as she walked in the door, barely pausing to take breath as she moved from one topic to the next.

She's at an age where all she wants is to tell me every detail of her day, and I have to remind myself it won't always last. (Or maybe it will! I never cut out my mother. She might not set me completely adrift!)


She showed me the schedule. I read it while she got dressed for ballet. I imagined I knew all the classes she most wanted to try out. Then she came back, and informed me I was completely wrong.

This daughter and I are the most similar. We look alike. We make the same faces when people annoy us. We read, and dance, and grow quiet and shy the same away. But we are not the same person. And as much as I tell myself this, and try not to be insane and think I understand everything about her, I forget.

She wants to take classes on birds. The cod…