Living with a children's author isn't as easy as it looks!

Posts tagged ‘critique group’

Inspirational Quote of the Week

“What is this character thinking?”

“How does she feel about this?”

“Why is he afraid of that?”

“Who makes her happy?”

These are questions that Mom’s critique group named ConnieLindaJenVijiLaurieandOtherJen ask her about her work. They ask these and many other questions to help Mom to investigate deeper into her characters, their motivations, their feelings, and their goals.

Mom is clearly in the branches, but she needs to dig way down there in the roots.

I am not a doggie who digs – at least not outside.

What?

Sometimes, I dig the pupper cover on the sofa to get it out of the way.

And sometimes, I dig the covers on the bed to make a comfy nest for sleeping while Mom is in the shower.

Of course, as soon as I get the pile just right, Mom comes out of the shower, gets dressed, and chases me off the bed.

Seriously? WHY??

Then I am forced to dig the blanket in my own bed.

Today, Mom dug into the robot vacuum. She dumps the trash cup every day. But just like with her critique partners – when the app told her to – she had to dig deeper. Extractors, filters, edge sweepers, contacts, and sensors were removed, checked, cleaned, wiped, polished, and returned.

Apparently, some of this grossness (ALL of this grossness) is my fault.

*gulp*

I’d like to speak with my lawyer…

Mom says, ” I’m ankle-deep in dog hair, here!” and “How can you shed so much and still have fur?” and “I’m going to save all this hair, make a new dog, and throw you in the garbage.” and…  well, after that I stopped hearing her. I have ALWAYS wanted to get into the garbage. This may be my big chance!

 

 

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Inspirational Quote of the Week

 

When I was first adopted, I walked forward, backward, sideways, and upside down. I zigged and zagged and wiggled and waggled. I pulled and pushed and jumped and got in the way. Mom said, “Here is your forever home.” and “You’re my new doggie.” and “This psycho mutt is trying to kill me!”

Zigging and zagging…

Then I went to obedience school so I could learn how to walk nicely on my leash. After 10 weeks of studying, I was a perfect walker with the best manners.

Well, maybe not perfect… It took a few more weeks before I stopped trying to chase cars, but eventually, I did.

Walking forward is a great skill to have. Looking forward is also a great skill to have. Mom and I do both. A lot.

There is a time to walk back, though. When Mom works on a story, she tries to keep it moving forward. Each day, she takes her characters a little further through the plot. Sometimes she knows exactly where the story is going. Sometimes, she is straight-up flying blind. But forward she goes day after day. When she gets to the end of the story, then it’s time to look back.

First the story gets to sleep for a while inside the computer.

Sleep is important for stories and for busy puppers…

After a week or two, Mom looks back and starts revising and editing the story. She goes back over it 9,000 times. She reads it out loud, makes changes, takes stuff out, adds stuff in, and moves stuff around. Sometimes she sends it to her critique group, sometimes to Rate Your Story. Sometimes she says, “I’m finished fussing with this thing.” And she starts a new story to do the same stuff all over again. Forward and back. Forward and back. This psycho-human is trying to kill me!

Strategy

Even though my brain is very tiny, and I am not a great problem solver, I am able to devise a strategy for survival when necessary. Surviving was the name of the game when I lived on the street by myself for three years before I was rescued.

Me at the high-kill shelter with my puppies.

Mom is surviving as a writer. Even though she hasn’t had a story published in a while, she plugs away – writing, revising, editing, and submitting. And reading, researching, critiquing, and creating. That’s her strategy.

My strategy changes from time to time. I like to stay proactive and flexible.

Often, I hide – under cars…

behind the bleachers…

and half under the bed…

Nobody will ever find me here.

I watch – the ceiling

through the window…

and out the door…I’ve also had success with my strategy of staring with…

and without the head tilt…

I’m known for keeping my distance…

Keep reading. I’ll just listen from over here behind the chair…

stealth…

and straight-up stubbornness.

Mom should step up her strategy game. Apparently, plugging away isn’t proactive and flexible enough!

I’m fine. I swear. It’s not too cold for a street nap. #staystubborn

 

 

Five Word Friday

Today’s five words come from a story that Mom is revising this week.

6. Trash – I have always wished I could figure out how to get pizza crusts, eggshells, napkins, banana peels, and many other delicious things out of the garbage pail.

Let me in. I know there are chicken bones in there. Why am I so tiny?

I love trash! Mom doesn’t love trash, especially when one of her stories ends up in the trash bin on her computer. If she starts a story and then gets stuck, she sets it aside for a while, works on other things, and then goes back to it. If it still stinks and it’s still going nowhere, she trashes it and starts over.

If she put a little jelly on that trash, I’d help her out with that. Mmmmm. Jelly.

14. Flop – Mom reads tons of picture books. Some fly and some flop.

When she reads a flop, she says, “Ugh. I want that 5 minutes back!” The weather is getting colder here, so I can’t take as many street naps as I did in the summer.

Even when it’s way too cold, I still flop down and give it a shot. Mom says, “If you’re wearing a sweater, it’s too cold to sit on the ground.” When I ignore her, she says, “Ugh. I want that 5 minutes back.”

8. Outside – I love outside. There are squirrels, leaves, acorns, grass, and dog friends.

I also love inside. There are toys, treats, trash, my blankie, and Mom. Sometimes it’s tough to choose.

74. UsefulCritique groups are useful. Mom’s group called LindaVijiConnieJenandOtherJen help her get ideas, change ideas, and fix ideas that stink.

5. Sneakers – Mom wears sneakers, but they do not make her fast at all. When we walk down the hall at our house, she is so slow! I have to show her how to get us home (and out of the scary hallway) in a more efficient way.

Inspirational Quote of the Week

Worst and Best fascinate me. Sometimes just when I think I’m being the Best Girl, I discover to my shock and surprise that I am not.

Best Girl helping with laundry

Best Girl looking at Mom

Best Girl not taking a street nap in the dumpster slime

Best Girl getting her exercise

People say all writers have an inner critic telling them their work stinks, they’re wasting their time, nothing they do is  good enough, and they’re straight-up frauds. I don’t have one of those critics in my head. Neither does Mom. I think I learned it from her! When she reads over one of her stories, she’s all, “SO CUTE!” and “I love this thing.” and “Quit staring at me when I’m eating.”

I’m not staring at you. You’re staring at me.

Mom relies on her critique group and RYS and agents and editors to tell her she may not be quite the best. Sometimes, they say nothing. #’nuffsaid. Sometimes they say, “Not what we’re looking for.” or “Fix this. Change that. What about this?”

I rely on Mom to tell me I may not be quite the best.

“Stay away from the edge.”

“Heel!”

“Get off the bed.”

 

Inspirational Quote of the Week

We are not what we think, or what we say, or how we feel. We are what we do.

~Gordon Livingston~

Nailed it, Livingston! What we do matters – waaaay more than all that other stuff.

So when Mom sits down and writes something new or fixes something old or submits something she likes or works with her critique group named LindaVijiJenConnieandOtherJen, she is a straight-up writer.

Me being a straight-up writer.

Sometimes, she sits on the balcony and reads her Kindle.

Sometimes, we go to the park.

Sometimes, she teaches me tricks.

Sit up.

Find the cookie.

Not really a trick, but I just really want to come inside.

Sometimes, we play.

Sometimes, we work as a therapy team.

Did somebody say eggs? And ham?! Yes, please…

Sometimes, we shop.

Sometimes, she leaves me alone like a dog, and reads books at the bookstore which I’m pretty sure is a hop, skip, and a jump from stealing.

Is she a writer then? Well, not a straight-up writer, but still a writer. She says, “I’m getting ideas” and “I need to keep it fresh” and “Staying current is important” and “I’m mind-writing” and “Let’s get moving, weirdo. We’re burning daylight, here!”

*sigh*

 

 

Inspirational Quote of the Week

Only the hand that erases can write the true thing.
 ~Meister Eckhart~

Erasing is easy when you’re a writer who uses the computer. Mom is all Tap. Tap. Tap. 

And bingo, things she doesn’t want in her story are gone for good. And replaced by something better. It’s important that writers don’t get too attached to the words they write because anything may need to go at any given time.

Some of Mom’s critique partners thought one part of her latest story was too mean for little kids. Mom took a deep breath and erased two whole paragraphs of meanness. Now the story is nicer.

Being nice is…. um… nice!

Mom had to erase our balcony flowers already.

‘Nuff said.

They’ve been replaced with something better (and more alive).

I’m glad erasing can’t happen to me. I’d have been gone for good a long time ago. Mom might have replaced me with a better doggie! Whenever she brushes me, she says, “Now you look pretty.” and “Maybe you’ll stop shedding all over the place.” and “I’m going to make a new dog out of all this hair and THROW YOU IN THE GARBAGE.” Gah! She can’t do that. Can she…?

Mom has to erase my furs from the floor and rugs all the time. Also my drool.

Eeeuuwwww!

And crumbs. And the spit marks I make when I lick the floor.

I don’t mind when she erases them. I can always make more.

And more.

And more…