Monday, November 29, 2010

Day 29: The Golden Coffee Cup -- Janet Lee Carey

Click here to learn more about the Golden Coffee Cup.

Today’s joyous high five comes from Janet Lee Carey author of many wonderful books and recent wonderful fantasies: STEALING DEATH and DRAGONS OF NOOR!

I love Janet's work; she brings such a sense of the interconnectedness of everything. She pours out the java for us today:

Fiction is a faith walk. The kind of faith required only grows as a writer pays close attention and sets the words down upon the page. Even if you’ve successfully written one or more novels you can’t expect to reproduce that success. We all have to start with a tabula rasa and begin at the beginning each time. Over the years while working on my novels, I’ve used a journal to play with plot ideas, create characters, and stay open to story. My journal keeps me fresh. It also keeps me honest when I let it. My inner storyteller knows what I need to hear and lately my journal has been telling me to slow down.

Dueling deadlines has had me on a fast writing track in the past few years. I’ve had to write a lot each day to make my deadlines, but page count and word count are all about quantity, not quality. As I slow down and seek my own rhythm, the story unfolds at its own pace, my breathing pace, my heart rate, and I begin to hear my storytelling voice more clearly. If you’re like me and you’ve been writing in a rush maybe you’d to try slowing down a little, and finding your own natural rhythm. Fiction is a faith walk. If you walk at your own pace where might it take you?

Oh, what hot java for the penultimate day of the Golden Coffee Cup! Snap! Snap! Snap! See you back tomorrow. Post your goal stories, and I'll announce the winners on Dec. 1st.

You are all SO awesome.

Faith is to believe what we do not see; and the reward of this faith is to see what we believe. St. Augustine

Friday, November 26, 2010

Day 26: The Golden Coffee Cup -- NOT SAVING ANYTHING

Click here to learn more about the Golden Coffee Cup.

Welcome! I hope you go for a walk today, then I hope you get to work. We've only got a few days left. Snap! Snap! Snap!

Stasia Kehoe is one of the most human, humble, fun folks I know. Here’s a link to her blog. If you don’t know about Writer on the Side, yes, you will thank me later. Her upcoming book AUDITION (Viking, Fall 2011) is going to flip your world. Her words reveal reality -- no easy feat. Here her secretary offers a furry high five!

Stasia brings today's hot java:

I am so happy to be sharing a few thoughts about writing during Molly's Golden Coffee Cup Challenge. I've been writing for many years (okay, decades) but just got an agent and book deal about six months age. It's been a process of great joy and discovery and, honestly, I wouldn't trade all those child-rearing, writing-on-the-side years for anything.

Along the way, an important discovery I made is that writing is about getting close to the bone: Connecting personally to the characters you write--telling their truths. And, most importantly, NOT SAVING ANYTHING.

What do I mean? If you find yourself thinking, "Oh, readers are going to be shocked when they discover what I'm going to write three chapters from now" or "I love this turn-of-phrase but I'd like to keep it in another manuscript I've got in the drawer--not use it for this one," then you are SAVING. Holding back. Staying a bit too far away from the raw edges, the breathless moments.

To use a sports metaphor, you've got to leave it all on the field--to run every race so that you're so tired you feel like you'll never run another. Sure, it can be scary to have something major happen to a character early in the novel, or to use up every great metaphor you've ever constructed in just one manuscript (trust me, you'll think of more).

To be clear, I'm not saying that pacing isn't important and that plot secrets can't be kept but there's also a way in which you've got to feel like you're giving everything over to your story in each moment.

For me, I have to let the story own me--to feel like I'm standing, blinking under a magnifying glass, a blinding light--and to allow myself to react without hesitation and worry about the consequences later.

So, seize every moment as you write, put your passion on the page, and don't save anything. Happy Writing!

Come back for more hot stuff tomorrow!

Today's quote: Only with absolute fearlessness can we slay the dragons of mediocrity that invade our gardens. George Lois

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Day 25: The Golden Coffee Cup -- Liz Mertz and Vijaya Khristy Bodach

Hi folks, Hope Thanksgiving is awesome! Take a walk. Stay warm. Today I have two high fives from very thankful friends who are participating in the Golden Coffee Cup and sent in some special high fives.

First, a "very new" high five from SCBWI BV Regional Advisor Liz Mertz's grandaughter. It's more of fist bump, but remember this little gal is very new.

What could be more motivating than a future reader!

Next, comes a joyous high five from talented author and my close friend Vijaya Bodach and her cat Finn.

I have a cat buddy to write with too! Nothing like cat therapy to keep you moving foward with your work. :)

Vijaya offers this bit of the hot stuff to keep you warm on your journey:

I don’t have a great many words of wisdom, but these:
1. No writing is too small.
2. Take as many writing gigs as you can.
3. It’s all good. It will help you become a better writer.
4. Enjoy it.
5. Write the stories that burn in your heart.

Great stuff! Ooh, stay warm today! Seize the day! I hope you have a lovely Thanksgiving Day and come back tomorrow for more hot coffee!

I have two quotes for the day because I couldn't pick one!

My idea of a perfect image is where I have created a beautiful environment, and the baby has given something of its personality. That extra spark in the image is always supplied by the baby. When you look at one of my images, your eye is always drawn to the baby's face, regardless of how complicated the setting is. The babies are always the most important aspect of the image, and so they should be.Anne Geddes

From the living fountain of instinct flows everything that is creative; hence the unconscious is not merely conditioned by history, but is the very source of the creative impulse. It is like Nature herself - prodigiously conservative, and yet transcending her own historical conditions in her acts of creation. C. G.Jung

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Day 24: The Golden Coffee Cup -- Chris Eboch

Click here to learn more about the Golden Coffee Cup.
Oh, I hope you are on track! If you have swerved off the path, get back on track now. If you are tired, take a deep breath, center and get going again. You can do this!

Today’s hot java comes from my friend Chris Eboch. Chris is a powerhouse author of several books, most recently, her HAUNTED series. Here she is with a "Resting on a big hike" high five.
Here's a note from Chris: Here I am in the Grand Canyon last June. The hike in was 14 miles, during a heat wave, with temps over 100°. Here, we are 3 miles from the top during the 10-mile, 5000 feet-elevation gain hike out. Do I look tired? I was beyond exhausted. Kind of like how you feel during your umteenth revision, when you know in theory you're getting closer but the end still seems too far to reach. And the key to success is the same with writing and with hiking. Take a break if you need one. Give yourself plenty of fuel. Give and receive encouragement to others slogging along the path.
Best advice ever, and I hop you listen to it. You are going to reach your goals. Keep going. I know what it is like to be weary, too. Be kind to yourself. Come back refreshed and ready for more piping hot java.

And a last thought to ponder as you go forward today.
Life always gets harder toward the summit - the cold increases, the responsibility increases. Friedrich Nietzsche

Monday, November 22, 2010

Day 22: The Golden Coffee Cup -- Kathy Whitehead

Click here to learn more about the Golden Coffee Cup.

I hope that you are enjoying the rhythm of the work. We are near a holiday, a tough spot on a journey. We have lots of obligations. Breathe. Think about the plan and move forward with boldness.

Today's high five comes from one of my cheery friends, the ever optimistic Kathy Whitehead.

You might want to check out her book, ART FROM HER HEART. She’s here today to offer some useful advice about how to keep the home fires burning. In Kathy’s words:

Sustaining goals can be tough, especially when the end can feel so elusive. I am fortunate to work in a 'lesson-planned' work mode which harkens back to my days spent as a classroom teacher. The lesson plan usually has a similiar daily structure and adheres to time restraints. I even build in a morning recess for myself - walking my dog Toby.

The beauty of a a lesson planned day is you don't waste valuable mental energy deciding when you will write. It gives your day a natural flow and balance, qualities helpful for long term projects.

My focus and effort can be directed toward my writing, instead of decision making about how to plan my day.

Oooh, good stuff. I feel more focused, and I hope you do, too. Come back tomorrow for more piping hot stuff. Hey, let me know you are out there! Post your progress and I will do some holy snappin'.

Here is a quote to help you on. Be of good cheer. Do not think of today's failures, but of the success that may come tomorrow. You have set yourselves a difficult task, but you will succeed if you persevere; and you will find joy in overcoming obstacles. Helen Keller

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Day 20: The Golden Coffee Cup -- Conrad Wesselhoeft

Click here to learn more about the Golden Coffee Cup.

Today’s "fist bump" high five comes from West Seattle author Conrad Wesselhoeft and his lovely daughter Jen:

Here are a few tasty shots of coffee from Conrad that I lifted off some of my manuscripts.(I am so blessed to have such a talented author write such helpful stuff on my manuscripts.)

Here's a first bit:

I’m concerned that the early paragraphs read more like a “telling” than a “showing.” Not that this is wrong--because the voice is so strong. Also, "telling" leads have been used to powerful effect by many successful YA writers. (This is classic Conrad; you can tell if you want but you better be brilliant.)

And more: On the other hand, your character seems bent on communicating a whirlwind of information right away. I'm not sure we need so much so soon. Information that might be better served as a full-blown scene. Would that scene be stronger if expanded, with full dialogue?
How about this great advice: I like this line’s snap and clarity: “I’m about fractals. They mirror life to me. …” These lines are good enough to open the book with. You have a good lead as is, but give it some thought.

or this:
Watch out for passive voice. A little's OK, but not more than that.

or this: Because this one line raises hairs on the arm, consider making this the end of a chapter, or at least a chapter break.

and last a cup of you-are-getting-there golden hot stuff:

Molly, I like where you're going with this. I want your character to go out in the world and become transformed. As a reader, I want to go with her. Others will, too.

I’ve had the honor of not only being Conrad’s friend but for a long time showing up at libraries and bookstores and bringing pages and spending hours going over our work making it stronger, better, richer. What a gift.

I hope these notes help you see the power of not going alone today. You are with friends. Keep working and come back for more of the hot java.

And here is a quote from his recently released novel. This one will really warm you up:

By itself, the moon rising is nothing. It's cliche. But the girl falling asleep and missing the moonrise is everything. It blasts the poem with pain and possibilities. Figure out what those possibilities are and you've got a poem. That's the secret -- to close your hand on jagged glass, then open it and find a butterfly. Conrad Wesselhoeft (Adios, Nirvana)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Day 15: The Golden Coffee Cup -- Paul Michael Gordon

Click here to learn more about the Golden Coffee Cup.
Let me know how it's going and I will offer you some coveted holy snappin'. You are at the halfway mark!

Today's high-five comes from visionary film maker: Paul Michael Gordon. He created the book trailer for Holly Cupala’s TELL ME A SECRET, nominated for School Library Journal’s first Trailee award. Check out his brand of film-making.

Uh, umm, Paul, uh, hmm, there is just no high-five in your photo, but it is somehow inspiring. I believe in film-making this next photo is called a stand-in. Here is a double high-five from two pandas that can follow instructions...

And now an energizing thought from Paul for your creative journey:Pandas are just bears with right-brained fur. Put on your panda suit.

Here is another bit of motivating advice from Paul: M&M's for breakfast, Red Bull for lunch and some healthy exercise to the fridge is what keeps me creative. Oh, and don't forget the cold pizza.

All kidding aside, Paul is just one of the most positive people I know. If he even thinks a negative thought I’m pretty sure he wrestles it down like Godzilla taking out Mothra. I mean, you are never going to reach your goal if you can’t get some “positiveness” going. Open up! You can do this! You can complete your goal. Go, Golden Coffee Cupper, go! I think I like your hat, too.

See you tomorrow with more of the hot stuff.

The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function. One should, for example, be able to see that things are hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise. ~F. Scott Fitzgerald

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Day 3: The Golden Coffee Cup -- Linda Joy Singleton

Click here to learn more about the Golden Coffee Cup. Today my friend, the incomparable Linda Joy Singleton is here to cheer us on!

This is the best kind of high five. Linda offers a high five on a Caribbean cruise excursion train ride around the island of St. Kitts. In her words,

"I was touched by these school kids who seemed so interested in learning and excited by tourists passing by. There had also been a traveling Logos Hope ship docked next to our cruise ship. I asked about it about found out the ship is a traveling library from a Christian group that invite uniformed students aboard. Students lined up all day to come in to the library where they have the opportunity to enjoy books and take books home. I was impressed with their travels sharing a love of books.

I've always loved books. In 4th grade I came in 2nd for a contest to see who read the most books and I read about 30, mostly mysteries like Nancy Drew. This interest led to my writing a fan letter to a favorite author and amassing a collection of juvenile girl series that fills up an entire room. My dream at age 14, written down in a writing school application, was to have my own mystery series. And it happened with the 1995 publication of MY SISTER THE GHOST from Avon books. Then came CHEER SQUAD, REGENERATION, STRANGE ENCOUNTERS, THE SEER, DEAD GIRL and upcoming 2012 GOTH GIRL Mysteries.

When it comes to goal setting, I make writing a daily habit. I get up every morning, turn on my computer then check email to clear my head and then turn to my latest creative project. I take a break for lunch and exercise them come back and often stay at my computer all day.

Right now I'm going through an uncertain time. After having book contracts to work on for the last 6 years, I'm waiting to find out what my next project will sell. It's hard to wait on other people's decisions, so I work on the things I can control. And I can control my daily writing. So even though I'm not sure if I'll suddenly be offered a new contract, I've started a new project that may or may not ever sell or even be finished. But I've written a first chapter and I'm excited by this story. So I'll keep writing. It's what I do best.

Linda Joy Singleton's new book is out -- MAGICIAN'S MUSE/Flux. Check out her website or on Facebook or Twitter. And around the corner is her next book, GRAVE SECRETS - A Thorn Goth Girl Mystery coming 2012 (Flux)

I hope that you are as moved as I am by this. If this inspiration doesn't warm up your heart for the creative journey, I don't know what will.

Quote of the day:

If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun. Katherine Hepburn

Monday, November 01, 2010

Day 1: The Fifth Annual Golden Coffee Cup Begins!

Welcome, Golden Coffee Cuppers! Click here to learn more about the Golden Coffee Cup. Any late comers? You have until midnight Nov 1 to post your goal here! Create your best work. Maybe you'll win a cup of coffee

I'm awed and thrilled to be journeying with such a talented group of creative souls. I know we will find good success! Every journey comes with its rewards, highs, and excitement, but there are also bends, set backs, and wrong turns. Be kind to yourself. Remember all journeys also have their surprises, their ah-ha moments, and "take your breath away" summits. Look for them. Let them really fill you up.

I will cheer you on the whole way!

Snap! Snap! Snap!

It's my tradition to start out this year journey with some high fives and spiritual advice from some folks who know way more than me.

Here is some inspiration from Anne Frank.

Here is a good thought for the road from Anne. Everyone has inside of him a piece of good news. The good news is that you don't know how great you can be! How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is!

Next up is inspiration from Harriet Tubman. Here is some hot stuff from Harriet to keep you warm as you go: Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.

Some timeless wisdom from Nelson Mandela, brave soul. If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart. I hope we all write in the language of children and our creations light up hearts.

We have to hole up to work but take time to listen to the wind, to smell the Earth. Gather strength from the natural world. Look up at the night sky -- the swath of the Milky Way, the Moon, and the planets; it feels like things are just inching forward up there but in truth things are moving very fast. Remember this while you work.

Carve out time to work every day. Take some silent moments and breathe. Life can be so busy, but search out the quiet moments. Take care of yourself.

Think about this: you are brave just because you are here. Snap! Snap! Snap! Let's get to work.

I have gathered all the goals so far here so that they are easy to see. We will go far and do much. See you tomorrow for more hot java!

One last quote: Let your mind start a journey thru a strange new world. Leave all thoughts of the world you knew before. Let your soul take you where you long to be...Close your eyes let your spirit start to soar, and you'll live as you've never lived before. Eric Fromm