Thursday, April 28, 2011

Gorgeous Tahitian Drawing

Have you ever had the opportunity to follow an artist from the start of a project through every step until they reveal the finished project? It's an amazing thing, like watching time elapsed video of a miracle unfolding. Then pop, the picture sits there in all it's breathtaking color, and it's all the more amazing because you first saw it as a sketchy drawing with no real form, just the skeleton of a drawing really. You even got to see the "ugly" phases where the drawing looked like it might never fulfill it's promise, but it did. And it's gorgeous.

I have, and you can, too. Check this link out to The Wonderful Obsessions where artist and writer Jonene Ficklin documented the journey of a gorgeous Tahitian drawing from first pencil scratches to fabulous finished project. And you can win a copy of the drawing. Yup, an 8x10 piece of tropical paradise. Jonene is an amazing artist, writer, and friend of mine. She is also my art teacher and a brave, brave woman to take me on. And she's brilliant.

Watching her work doesn't just amaze me, it gives me hope. Not only in my own fledgling art projects but for my books, too. It reminds me that every masterpiece starts as bare bones and evolves through hard work, ever-expanding skill, and persistence into beauty itself. She shows me it takes a lot of pencil (or key strokes) to turn blank paper into art.

Check out Jonene's blog and see the first pencil sketch to the finished project. And for all the steps in between just check out the Art Lessons tab at the top of her blog. Your eyes are in for a treat.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Dr. Who Famine Is Over

The famine is over. What famine? Why, the Dr. Who famine of course. If you don't know what (or Who) I'm talking about, you need to get you some Dr. Who because the Doctor rocks.

Here's a link to BBC America where you can watch the prequel to season six and a bunch of other scrumptious Dr. Who clips.

Web Exclusive Prequel - Season 6 Episode 1 - Season 6 - Doctor Who - Video - BBC America

Season six began last Saturday, but we didn't get to watch episode one until last night. Shazam! It was good! I may have screamed out loud in giddy excitement like a little girl. Oh wait, I am a girl, so it's all good.

The question is, why am I so excited about Dr. Who? Several reasons, first he rocks. I may have mentioned this, but he does, so it's worth repeating.

Second, the show has darn good writers. They know story. Period. They take lovable characters and hurl them into a problem. Then they hurt them over and over again. Can you say Conflict with a capital C? And the writers let the characters try and fail and try and fail as everything escalates like like some crazy chain reaction explosion, and then ultimately the characters win. Well, at least they better because this season started with a whopper of a problem. My seven-year-old burst into tears, and I wanted to join her. I won't spoil it for any of you Dr. Who fans out there who haven't seen the episode yet, but they mean business this year. Again.

Why is it so important to hurt your characters? Because it makes the reader/watcher love them. It's emotional. It hurts. It's therapeutic. Really it is. We watch a show or read a book for the emotional journey. David Farland says it's a safe way to exercise our emotions. Think about your favorite movie or book. Would you want to experience the kind of emotion the characters go through in your own life? Not me. I like my real life to be peaceful, but in a book or show? Heaven!

In my stories I am the pain bringer. I poke and prod and blow life into the conflict, I hurt my characters in the worst possible ways. And hopefully my readers will love them just like I love the good Doctor. And you love them the most when they triumph in spite of all the pain.

Which brings me to the third reason I'm excited for the new season of Dr. Who: he rocks.

Are you going to go on an emotional journey today? Are you going to write one? If so drop a line and tell me how you're going to hurt your characters or who your favorite hurting character is. Me, I'm going to watch as my character scratches out a shallow grave for her friend. *Rubs hands together and grins while holding a tissue*

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Peas Are Alive!

Okay, first off, sorry I'm late posting this. It's been one of those mornings. I'd tell you about it, but you don't want to know. Really.

But! More importantly, my peas are alive! Everyone cheer and let out the breath you didn't know you were holding. Why? Because this is monumental news. Really!

Every year I plant a garden because I love fresh produce. Tomatoes and cucumbers and summer squash. Mmmmmmm. Yum. But the most beloved and coveted bounty of the season is the fresh peas. Way more than yum. Peas and I are close. How close, you ask. I spend eleven months of the year drooling for them kind of close. Addiction may be the right word.

Anywho, peas need to be planted early because the don't do well in the heat of summer, so I planted mine several weeks ago. Several long weeks ago. Okay, it was almost a month.

And then it snowed. A lot. And then it rained. A lot. And my peas never came up. I went out and stared at the sodden dirt. I called to them, begging them to grow. I prayed that the excess moisture hadn't rotted them before they could even germinate. I begged some more. Nothing.

Then I mourned.

And guess what poked their little green heads above the dirt yesterday? My peas. Happy sighs abound.

Aren't they cute?

And they're little living miracles to remind me of the most important miracle of all. An empty tomb.

Happy Easter everyone.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Entwined. Say it, it rolls off the tongue in an alluring way. It's an intriguing word that makes me say, "What? Who's entwined? With who? With what?"

Well my friend Heather Dixon knows the answers. Check this out:

Entwined is Heather's debut novel and it's as awesome as she is. Here's the jacket blurb:

Azalea is trapped. Just when she should feel that everything is before her . . . beautiful gowns, dashing suitors, balls filled with dancing . . . it’s taken away. All of it.

The Keeper understands. He’s trapped, too, held for centuries within the walls of the palace. And so he extends an invitation.

Every night, Azalea and her eleven sisters may step through the enchanted passage in their room to dance in his silver forest.

But there is a cost.

The Keeper likes to keep things.

Azalea may not realize how tangled she is in his web until it is too late.

Entwined is a retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses and for me one of the best parts of this book was the characters themselves. Oh, and the magic, because who can live without magic? Not me.

Heather did a brilliant job of showing relationships between the characters. They weren't just people acting out a story, they were people living, loving, grieving, and struggling to understand WITH each other. Did I mention brilliant?

My favorite example of this is between Azalea and her father. They're both heart sore over Azalea's mother's death, but it takes the whole book before they realize and understand this in each other. I loved that Heather didn't rush this moment, but took her time to fully develop the reconciliation.

I really enjoyed this book. It is simply beautiful. So, run out and buy it and sink into its pages with thoughts of balls and dresses and family.



Thursday, April 14, 2011

I've Been Bitten On My Bum And On My Writing Too

Okay folks, and yes I really did just use the word folks because it's a good word and I can. Anywho, today is one of those days. You know the kind where you wake up late and have three million five hundred and four things to do and only have time for two of them, so you get a short post. Sort of.

And to go with the day, its a random post about biting. Yup biting. And cats. And milk. And yes, they all go together. And I'm writing one more sentence that has nothing to do with anything just so I can use the word and a few more times. And, and, and. And I like it. So there.

Anywho--again, my cat is spoiled. Really spoiled. It's my fault because he's so cute and fluffy and meows when he purrs and luvs me. (When talking cats you have to spell loves wrong, it's a rule.) He also luvs milk, as in stalks us for it.

It all started when he was a baby. Read about it HERE. The problem is he's not a baby anymore and still luvs his milk and will bite our tender sit down spots to get it. Yes, you read that right, he bites our tookuses (or is that tooki?). Not hard or anything, just a nip when we're standing in the kitchen to say, "I require milk and you haven't blessed me with it even after I meowed all cute and fluffy and purry and nice. I even did it a couple of time because you are a human and therefore dimwitted. So now I bite you. Give me milk. Now."

What do I do when my rear end is so abused? Ummm, I give the white, fluffy, demon his milk. Yes, I know, it's all my fault and I'm training him, or he's already trained me, but it's habit. It's a reflex, a no brain function-open-the-fridge-door-and-pour-the-milk-on-autopilot reaction. Oh, and it's lame. Just saying.

Now that you've read all this I'm sure you're asking yourself what does this have to do with anything. Stay with me here, it's like writing. Surprise!

A lot of times we do things that are lame and even a little self defeating when we write. Like what you ask? Oh, how about hopping on the internet to find that one fabulous word in the thesaurus only to end up checking the email nineteen hundred times and browsing Amazon, and checking the news, weather, or whatever just because we really don't want to pound out those pages?

Somehow I don't think I'm the only one who does this. What's wrong with it you ask? Well folks, we're getting snipped on the behind every time we do it. Oh, it's not a bad bite, just a nip really, but when we add all the little chomps together that's one sore fanny. And a lot of milk.

So, today I vow to only check my email twice. And to crank out some pages without surfing the net. I even vow to not use the thesaurus because that just leads to a sore bum.

What do you do that bites?

Oh, and I lied. This is not a short post. Oops.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Green Promises and Unfurling Pages

Mother Nature has been a tease this year. A mean tease. How so? Well, if you don't live in Utah maybe she's been kind, but here, not so much. She flogged us with a long, long, long winter. Then she gave us some spring. And blue sky, the first in ages. I almost forgot what the sun looked like. And felt like. And ahhhhh. Talk about divine.

Then WHAM!


For weeks.

See? Just plain Mean.

And it's not over yet. We're supposed to have storms for the rest of the week. But Mother Nature also gave us a promise. A glorious promise. A green promise.

Can you see the promises perched on the end of the branches like emerald stars?

See? HOPE. Little green morsels of it. It's enough to send my soul thrilling and eclipse the meanness and dull, dull ache of winter. And it teaches me hope in my writing as well.

I'm drafting a new novel and sometimes it's winter, as in the words don't come, creativity freezes up, and frost stiffens the story. Brrrr. Not fun. And sometimes the cold spell lasts and lasts.

But there, peeking through the drafting blizzard, are the new pages unfurling like green promises. Each day they grow, and more appear, and I KNOW a writing summer is coming with all it's color and warmth and fun and sun and holidays and pizazz!

So, as I sit by my window and struggle over words, I'll look up from time to time and drink in the green promises brushing the glass panes and type my way to summer.

What promises do you see today?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

An Interview With Kathleen Duey

Hey all, you know how I've posted about WIFYR, otherwise known as Writing and Illustrating For Young Readers? Well, it's getting closer, and I'm getting even more excited, today especially because I get to post a fabulous interview, compliments of WIFYR, with Kathleen Duey Author of Skin Hunger and Sacred Scars.

Don't they look scrumptious?

Kathleen also has a whole slew of other books, but if I put a pic of them all on here this post will get really long, so just drool on these two, wipe your keyboards off, dive into the interview, and then check out her links for the rest of her books.

Now on to the interview!

1. You've managed to do what every writer hopes to do: make a living from being an author. What are some of your marketing secrets?

I use whatever tools are available to increase awareness of my work—but I try not to get so involved with marketing that my writing is short-changed. There is nothing better than face to face interaction with people of all ages so I attend educators’ and librarians’ conferences, teach at writers’ conferences and fit in as many school visits, city book events,and signings as I can—including Skype visits which are wonderful in these tight-budget times.

The internet provides lots of ways to interact with readers, too. My current line-up:!/kdueykduey or twitter search @kdueykduey (an unfinished, in progress, twitter-format-experimental novel)

Bottom line? The best marketing tool is a really good book!

2. You've said that you tried to write "books that matter." How do you define "books that matter?"

I intend (and hope) to write books that readers of all ages experience as some kind of an awakening. I want the world to be a little bit better because I was here.

3. You lived off the grid in the Rocky Mountains for years. How has that life experience affected your writing?

I have mostly written historicals and fantasy books and I don’t think that’s an accident. I walk very comfortably through worlds lit only by fire and steeped in star-silence. The Resurrection of Magic trilogy was my very first novel idea twenty years ago when I was off-grid,but I had to set it aside when my puny skills couldn’t manage the sliding timelines and dual protagonists. After this trilogy, I have several ideas trying to shove their way to the front of the line. One of them is contemporary/very near future, one kind of Medieval, and one is another political fantasy, possibly set in Limori, the same city. We’ll see.

4. You're personable and seem to know, well, everyone, and you seem to be the opposite of the classic "recluse writer." How do you feel that has helped your career?

I laughed out loud reading this. Truth: I am a panic attack graduate and virtually a hermit at home, but somehow I like big book gatherings. I love writers and editors and readers—all manner of book people. I think getting to know folks who love what you love is almost always a good idea!

5. You have some of the most brilliant metaphors I've ever seen. Do they come naturally, or do you have methods for developing them?

I am not much aware of using metaphors in my work, so it is likely a sincere effort to describe something in a way that arrests the reader’s attention for that instant, just a tiny pause in the word flow to notice the odd word… and so slow down enough to feel what the character is feeling.

6. You've always wanted to be a writer, but you say it took a long time for you to make the attempt. What finally persuaded you to go for it?

I had daydreamed about it since third grade when I first understood that people wrote books. One day I met a woman who also had two very young children and was writing a novel.I left her house thinking, “Really? She’s writing a novel? And I am not. WHY??” And I just started making time. The first four years it was by candle light, on an open porch, manual typewriter (off-grid--no electricity!) from 9:00pm until about 1:00am, and napping with the kids midday to make up the sleep. And I just kept at it.

7. What is your favorite recent read in young adult literature?

There is a nearly endless wealth and variety of amazing YA authors now. Holly Black is one of my favorites: White Cat and Red Glove!! Holly writes very human stories dipped in unexpected magic and set in fascinating cultures. Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why really touched me (and a zillion other readers world wide, yes, the movie is coming). I finally read Octavian Nothing by M.T. Anderson this year and was just… swept away. Paolo Bacigalupi’s Windup Girl is my current read--astonishing!!

So there you have it folks. Isn't she awesome? I'd like to shout out another thanks to the crew at WIFYR for all their hard work and for the interview. If you'd like to go to Writing and Illustrating For Young Readers head over and sign up now. Kathleen still has one opening in her class. Grab it while you can. There are also a few openings with some other fabulous authors. I hope to see you there.

Leisha Maw

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Running Toward The End

You know the old phrase, change is hard? Well, it is. It's worse than hard, it's mean, too. How mean? I'm talking make you cry kind of mean. How do I know? I'm there. Well, figuratively, not drowning in literal tears because that would be messy and make my eyes all red, and who wants that? Not me.

I'm talking about the transition from revising an existing project to writing a new book. Why is that hard? Because it's so, so different. You use different parts of your brain to write than to edit and revise, and I've been revising for a while now. It's almost like my head has forgotten how to just write without going back over every word and sentence in edit mode. Do you know how hard it is to move forward if your mind is always looking back and checking, checking, checking, checking every word you write? It's like trying to run a marathon while crouched at the starting line retying you shoes over and over to make sure the knot is just right. Yeah, you don't get too many miles in if you don't run. Or at least walk.

So, how do you silence the inner editor and move on to a new project? You go into training. My writers group is doing their own WriMO. (That's writing month for you non-writing peeps.) We're throwing caution to the wind and forcing out as much of a book as we can in one month's time. No editing allowed.

How am I doing? Errrrrr. I'm struggling. What did I write yesterday? Ummmm, does revising my opening chapter count? Not so much. I need to pound that darn internal editor into a coma for at least a month, and today is the day the fists fly. I'm going to allow myself to mess up. I'm going to expect it. I'm going to do it on purpose. Even if it almost kills me.

What does this mean? It means sloppy words and crazy pages. It means emancipation. It means fear. It means moving forward not looking back. It may even mean adrenaline and tears. It means progress. It means the true birth of my next book because I'm done tying my shoes. I'm ready to run.

Anyone want to join me? You're welcome to. Just pull out a pen and paper or your trusty computer and spew out those words. I can't wait to see how far we get and where our words take us. Mine take me toward the these words: The End.

So who's up to a good run?


Related Posts with Thumbnails