Seasons change and so do I….

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Maybe it is the change in seasons, but I feel like trying my hand at writing a different genre. Fall is just around the corner. In northern Illinois, we have distinct seasons. It’s a known fact that they may overlap one another, or flip like light switch. Yesterday it was in the upper 80’s and muggy when I went to work. After dinner last night it was in the lower 60’s and downright chilly. The good news is the air conditioning has been turned off again and the windows opened to let fresh air sweep through the house.

For the last year and a half I’ve been writing children’s picture books. I have four decent manuscripts (read no one has snatched one up yet). One has gone out four times. Another is the subject of a query letter I sent last week. Still holding my breath, awaiting a response. The other two are ok. They need to be awesome. I printed them out this AM and will be cutting them up to tape into mock-ups to see how they need to be tweaked hopefully tomorrow.

Getting back to the urge to change genres, I feel the urge to begin a middle grade or YA novel. Recently, there have been many requests on the websites I frequent for both of these. The idea has been rolling around in my head since last year about a young boy with an unusual talent that scares and fascinates him. I need to flesh out his character and see where he wants to go.

Aside from books, I am exceedingly pleased to have one of my short stories chosen for an anthology by Untreed Reads Publishing. It felt right to work on a humorous murder story. My voice seems to want to tell stories like this.

Perhaps I should shake the dust off of the cozy mystery I started a few years ago. It might be fun to see if I can run with it.

Like the crazy weather here, I am changing my mind every few minutes. So far I am planning three projects for fall.

Project 1: Punch up my picture books by adding action, making sure there are enough changes in scenes to give the illustrators wonderful visuals and cut out anything that doesn’t move the story forward.

Project 2: Flesh out the character in my head, decide if he fits better in middle school or high school (my instinct is middle school) and see where he takes me.

Project 3: Read through the chapters I’ve completed on my cozy and tear it apart. I know it has to be reworked, but need to see what is worth saving.

I don’t know what order I’ll proceed. But as I’ve told you all before, I am crazy when it comes to meeting self imposed (or other) goals. As with my knitting projects, my writing progress will fair much better once I have outlined my goals.

I’ll keep you posted 🙂

Mock-up/Dummy book

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This week rejection #3 arrived. Three isn’t that many, we’ve all read the horror stories of dozens and dozens of rejections. One of the gals in my crit group suggested using a mock-up or dummy book with my stories to make sure there is enough action and each page moves the story forward.

Looking online for examples seemed to be the easiest way to proceed. Of course there were hundreds of hits. I looked at quite a few, then picked two to work with. The best was Darcy Pattison’s blog ( She has so much useful info I go back to her site often. Check out her blog as a great resource for your writing.

She explains the basic set up: 16 pages of paper are folded in half to make 32 pages for text. Leave pages 1-3 blank, beginning the text on page 4 or 5. The text should spread across both pages from page 6, ending page 29.

If you don’t have enough text, or too much text – REVISE!

If you can’t create a picture in your mind (the illustrator has to have something to work with!) – REVISE!

If each page doesn’t move the story forward, or add to the tension -REVISE!

If you can skip pages without missing them – REVISE!

Cut words if needed, work on the pace, move settings from place to place, add emotion and action if flat!!!

I’m pulling out my scissors, mocking up my story to make it the best it can be before sending it out again!

Thanks Darcy for all of your great tips!

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