I'll be uploading photos and videos and some writing challenges from the Midwest trip soon. There are a couple I'm really anxious to share. But today is catch up day. I've worked on the mentor program that Nevada SCBWI runs and on our new e-list system to communicate with our members. I've cut flowers and assessed our weeds (pulled only a very few, I'm afraid.) My cat is stretched out behind my computer key board. He's very happy. I am too. I'm completely in catch up mode.
And I'm so ready to get working on one of my current projects. What's in the pipeline? China's Daughters, a non-fiction book of short biographies of 17 (I think) Chinese women and how their lives illuminate their particular historic time will be published, probably in early 2011 - that's a guess - by Pacific View Press in San Francisco. It's done. YAY! Sierra Blue, the story of a teen aged girl who saves a race horse and couple of her friends along the way, is out on submission. Face Off, set in the Arctic is about a boy who, abandoned by his birth father, works through his anger on the ice hockey rink and on the sea ice when he faces a rogue polar bear. That one is in the process. I'm holding myself back from starting another project - too many voices to keep in my head - but am anxious to get to writing regularly again soon.
Here's a tip from my process - and every writer's process is different. When I have an idea for a book - a setting and some sense of the plot - then I spend quite a while exploring my characters. I may write 20 pages about my main character, maybe 50 pages, before I start my first chapter. I want to know that person very well. I want to think like he or she does and know how she sounds.
Try this exercise: Choose two people who talk differently - say your best friend and your grandfather. Maybe those two people grew up in different places, or maybe you have a friend who is always trying out the latest cool words and phrases. Imagine a scene - make it dramatic - maybe an auto accident of the last minute of a football game and the home team fumbles the ball. Write it out twice - the way each of your people would describe it. Their words should be different, maybe their reactions are different, even though they are talking about the exact same thing. This is the basis of voice and point of view. If you don't get how this works the first time, try again. Writing well takes practice and it's ok if your first pages aren't very good. Professional writers almost always start with lousy paragraphs and make them better. That's the key.