One Novel Idea

Looking at photos on the computer, I came across this:

(I can't find photographer's name)

This picture is in my bedroom. I bought the print when I was pregnant with Wildebeest because of the Kurt Vonnegut quote from God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater.**

One night while we were reading in bed, I mentioned to Zippy that I needed a new writing project. He pointed across the room and suggested I write the story of those five babies.
I did, and it became Framed: Toby Hart’s Official Police Statement. (In the second draft or so of the middle-grade novel, I had to kill off one of the kids. Well, not bump her off, but delete her storyline. Oddly enough, it was the baby who is front and center.)

The book didn’t sell and I have a bunch of notes on how to rewrite it, but in the meantime, despite the rejection, the babies and I share a kind coexistence. Kurt would want it that way.

** Full quote:
“Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth.
It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded.
At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here.
There’s only one rule that I know of, babies—God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.”
~ Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Manuscript Demolition


I'm contemplating going back to one of my novels and doing an overhaul.
I've read it for the first time in almost two years and believe I've got The Fix.
Doing so will mean some demolition and reconstruction,
and a fair amount of sweat and tears.

The thought is a bit intimidating, but I've always enjoyed swinging a crowbar.

                                                                                                          © Tracy Abell 2008


Conference Wrap-Up


I’m coming out of my RMC-SCBWI conference-induced fatigue,
and wanted to share some morsels 
before the passion and meaning behind the words grow too dim.

Bruce Coville gave our keynote speech on Saturday morning.
My favorite line:  "The blank page is hard, not because nothing’s
there, but because everything is there.  The whole world."

He ended his talk (titled The Art of the Heart: Writing True for the Child)
with this: "Let us not take joy, let us give it.  Let us give it courageously."

Just a short while later, I had my one-on-one critique with him.
He read the first 10 pages of BIRD BRAIN.  
Good news: he thinks the voice is strong.
Not-as-good news: I need to rework the opening pages to set them in a scene
rather than exposition.  I kind of knew that, but had a secret hope he’d love it as is!
(Major thanks again to  for helping me out of a slump so I could get those
pages ready for submission!)

One of the few sessions I was able to attend (due to responsibilities), was Social Media 101.
Drew Shope, of Thrive Social Media, is a 25-year-old social media guru who convinced me to start tweeting.
I’m having fun thus far but fear the Undisciplined Time Suck.
(I’m @TracyAbell)

I attended Elizabeth Law’s session on First Pages.
The overwhelming message of the day was Slow Down the Action.
(This is what was said regarding my first page from FRAMED, too.)
Of course, during another session, editor Kate Harrison and agent Elena Mechlin
both said they like a story that gets going immediately to pull them in.

(L-R Moderator Bobbi, Elizabeth Law, Elena Mechlin, Kate Harrison, Rotem Moscovich)

My favorite Elizabeth Law line of the weekend came in response to a question.
Q: If an editor or agent suggests revisions, is it appropriate to ask for clarification?
A:  No, work in the dark.  Spend a lot of time.  Hope you get it right.
(The answer is, Of course!)

I had a wonderful time and bonded with Bruce Coville.
When my critique time was up, I thanked him.
He said, "You betcha!" then said with considerable dismay, "I sound like Sarah Palin."
That’s all it took.  We were off and running (next writer hadn’t yet shown up).

It was a wonderful, exhausting weekend.
But next year, I hope to scale back on conference-day duties so I can fully enjoy.

(Local writers Stephanie Blake and Jeanne Kaufman yukking it up)


Hello, Universe?


It’s time to face reality.
The Winter Olympics have come and gone,
and I did not win a medal.

The Academy Awards have come and gone,
and, to my dismay, I did not win an Oscar.

Which can only mean one thing:
this is my year to win a publishing contract.

Right?  Right!

Oy Vey: synopsis time again


I wrote a synopsis last fall
that ended up being two pages with 1.5 spacing.
I felt pretty good about it.

Just found out I need to make it a one-page synopsis.

And not only do I need to shrink it,
I need to rewrite much of it to reflect the revisions I made afterward.

Anyone have a few words of wisdom?
Or a magical shrinking device?


The book that shall (not) remain nameless

I stink at making up titles.
But with FRAMED, I thought I’d finally done it:
created the perfect title
right from the start!

It’s been FRAMED through
every single draft
and revision.
I was so proud of my multi-layered title.

But now it’s been pointed out that
FRAMED is too subtle for a middle-grade novel.
Sadly, I believe that’s true.
So now I need something else,
perhaps FRAMED plus subtitle.

Or maybe something completely different.

Have I mentioned I stink at titles?

Compare and contrast

Yesterday I didn’t do a bit of writing.
I took the day off.

Instead, I aired out mattresses,
sprayed mini-blinds,
washed windows,
washed and rehung curtains,
and cleaned two bathrooms.

Today I worked on revisions
for about four hours.

I’m trying to decide which day’s work
gives me a greater sense of satisfaction.

My manuscript is almost ready to go.
On the other hand, those windows were really dirty.

Cutting and Pasting

Yesterday I had big plans for my revision work
and except for using 12-pt font and choosing the counter over the hair-covered floor,
I stuck to my plan.

Here is my original ending in all its glory.

And here, after hours of agonizing and brain-sweating,
is the cut and paste version of my revised ending.

I don’t think I could’ve slogged through all that without
a huge visual aid.

Word processors are grand
but nothing beats paper and scissors.

Not even rock
(sorry, couldn’t resist).