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The Rich Writer

The Rich Writer: June 2009

The Rich Writer

How to Thrive on the Writer's Road

Sunday, June 28, 2009


Yesterday, I took a break from my regularly-scheduled writing to pick one of the most enjoyable items on my to-do list: a friend's book to critique. It's science fiction for middle graders-- and it's laugh-out-loud funny. Really! I think soda came out my nose, I was cracking up so much!

When I finished, I gave the manuscript to my ten-year-old son. (Yes, I had permission.) He kept cracking up, too--even ran to find me at one point to read me a particularly great scene.

I love having a circle of writing friends who read and critique each others' work. I know my writing has improved many-fold due to the feedback from these folks.

The unseen benefit of a criique group is that when you start dissectin what does and doesn't work in someone else's novel, you get better at dissecting your own.

Plus you get to read awesome books before the rest of the world. What more could you want?

-- Cheryl :-)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Mixed-Up Writer

A few days ago, I mailed off my latest manuscript to my editor, Gary Heidt. This is the contemporary YA, the one that takes place in Peru. Letting it go out the door was hard!

I think it's because, strangely enough, I believe this is the best book I've ever written. Sounds weird, but there is a strange sort of logic to it: as long as I don't show it to anyone in the real world, I can believe that it's The One that will break into publication.

Of course, I also had to fight the urge to drag it back into the house during a sudden attack of no-way-is-this-ready-to-submit-itis.

I think half of writing is learning to notice your thoughts, sensations, and emotions enough to pour them onto the page, infusing life into your writing.

The other half? Ignoring the thoughts/sensations/emotions that don't move you forward, so you CAN put words on the page.

-- Cheryl :-)

Monday, June 22, 2009

One of “those” days….

Did you ever have one of those days when a hundred unexpected events conspire to keep you from writing? Or when you’re coming off a few very productive days—and emerge from your creative fog long enough to realize that the rest of your life needs, well, a bit of love and attention?

That’s me right now! fairy

I’ve been cranking out a rewrite for the past two weeks, eager to send it off to my new agent (grin), plus working on homework for a continuing ed class I’m taking (also a grin), plus trying to keep some forward momentum on the series of science books I’m working on for an educational publisher, plus bidding on jobs through Elance so I keep a bit of income while I wait for all the other projects to bear fruit, plus…well, you get the idea. And today I woke up and realized that I need to catch up on laundry, bills, gardening, house cleaning, and overall clutter reduction—in a serious way.

Isn’t there a writing fairy to take care of these sorts of things for us when the muse is singing?

On the flip side, I’m in such a bouncy-happy mood from all the writing time, I’m not stressed about the mess. And when I’m happy, my family’s happy.

Ooh—did I just deduce that writing is a viable alternative to housework? ‘Cause if the family’s happy, I must be doing something right!

:) Cheryl

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Friday, June 19, 2009

Summertime Inspiration

thrillrides You know how we’re all trying to balance summer, family, and writing time? Well, yesterday was a day off from my writing to-do list so I could take my oldest to the amusement park before he heads out to summer camp.

I have to tell you, there is no better place for character research.

At an amusement park, you see people of all ages, from all kinds of backgrounds, of all different colors.

You spend most of your time waiting in line for rides. For the observant writer, this is one incredible opportunity to hear teenage girls discuss their boyfriends…or hear an overexcited 8-year-old interacting with his parents…or hear a young couple’s spat…or hear an elderly couple discussing their children.

I guess Stephanie Green got it right over at Through the Tollbooth: summer is a great time for input.

And if you’re looking for input on hyperdrive—take your kids to the nearest amusement park. You’ll have character ideas to last you the rest of the year!

:) Cheryl

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Summer, Rewriting, and Life

Between rewriting one novel, plotting out another, discussing a potential memoir project, and enjoying a bit of summertime freedom with family, I’ve been making lots of notes for blogs that then haven’t made it to an actual post. So: although I’m tackling the topic a bit late, I want to talk about summer, balance, writing, and life.

I’m not the only one with these things on my mind. Over the past few weeks, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed other bloggers’ thoughts—so I thought I’d round up some of my favorites for you.


  • Also hosting the Summer Revision Smackdown: the Cuppa Jolie blog, with Jolie Stekly.
  • Yat Yee Chong chronicles her writing goals and struggles as she tries to accommodate both her muse and her family during the unstructured days of summer vacation.

For me, the challenge of summer is that it requires me to shift gears from writing-mode to Mom-mode on a frequent basis. I don’t do it well. When I’m deep in writing—or rewriting—sometimes it takes me an hour to drag my head out of the foggy otherworld I inhabit when creating. Maybe I just have to recognize this about myself—and actually accommodate it—instead of trying to keep up my full writing schedule plus a full family schedule.

I love reading and re-reading the thoughts of other writers on summertime priorities, because it helps me figure out my own. It’s important for me to write this summer. I’m in such an exciting place, with requested manuscripts and a brand new agent, I don’t want to lose that momentum!

The trick is that I need to find those moments to put down my pen for an hour, a day, maybe even a week, so that I can go experience life, enjoy my kids, dig in the garden, hike, play with the dogs…all the important things that keep me anchored in this world.

After all, that’s what being a rich writer is all about!

:) Cheryl

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Another iPhone App for Writers

I have to tag one more favorite application before moving on to other topics: BrainBaths.brainbaths

BrainBaths uses something called “binaural beats” which, if I’m getting the concept, mimic specific types of brain waves in their rhythms. When you listen to binaural beats, they  somehow trigger those brain waves—for ex., for creativity, sleep, meditation, or focus.

From my in-depth research (involving at least five minutes), it sounds like this brain wave/binaural beat phenomenon is real.

I don’t know how much of the sounds’ effects have to do with the way they influence my brain waves and how much is just the power of suggestion, but when I’m stuck in a story, I turn to the “creativity” or “clear insights” channel—coupled with sounds of a nice mountain stream, meadow, or ocean waves—and usually have a creative breakthrough in fairly short order.

I also swear by its ability to put me to sleep in circumstances that aren’t sleep-conducive. :) The thing’s only $.99, so what the heck? If you have an iPhone, I’d give it a try!

:) Cheryl

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Monday, June 8, 2009

Favorite iPhone Apps for Writers

Getting back to those favorite iPhone Apps, I have a few more to highlight:irecvoicerecorder_thumbnail

  • iRec is a digital recorder for the iPhone. I like that I can choose 3 different recording qualities. It’s also easy to navigate between and within a recording.

    Although the iPhone version of a digital recorder isn’t really better than my little handheld recorder, I always carry it with me so it’s available when I have a sudden thought while walking or on the road. Plus, I can email recordings from my iPhone, which I can’t do from my standard recorder. 
  • BlogPress is an easy-to-use blogging application for the  iPhone. It’s great for quick, on-the-fly blog posts, although it won’t ever replace my laptop and Windows Live Writer, simply because it’s so much easier to type and edit on a larger screen with a real keyboard. BlogPress is compatible with multiple blogging platforms.


  • toodledo Toodledo is my favorite to-do list  program—by a slim margin over another, called Things. Both let you sort tasks by project and due date. Things has a prettier interface for the iPhone that I find slightly more intuitive than Toodledo’s interface; but Toodledo stores your data online, so you can access your lists using a web interface. Toodledo will also sync with MS Outlook, another plus in my book.

Since no list of a writer’s favorite iPhone apps would be complete without games, I’ll cover those later this week!

:) Cheryl


Sunday, June 7, 2009

Changing Blogs...

I'm wondering if I made a mistake, switching blog titles and moving to a new address. I love the new address--it reflects what I want to do here. The problem is that people have to re-find me, and I already have readers at my old location.

I'm tempted to "move" back to my original blog address, while keeping the same new theme and goals. Any thoughts?




Friday, June 5, 2009

Happiness is…(or, why the writer’s life is rich)


Happiness is:

  • Having a critique group whose every member celebrates when you share good news, without reservation;
  • Writer friends who show up to be with you, even when life events conspire to keep them away;
  • Writer friends who commiserate when you get one too many rejection letters;
  • Friends who encourage you to keep writing, that you have talent, that you have spunk and spark and yes, you should keep at it;
  • Writer friends who are ready to laud those who recognize your talents and boo those who don’t;
  • Writer friends who generously share their own victories along the way, so that every award, every publication, every interview and starred review and beautiful cover feels a little like your own;
  • Writer friends who catch your vision for a story and care enough to tell you where it’s not working, where it is working, and how to make it better;
  • Writer friends online and off, who keep you accountable, keep you inspired, keep you fired up, and keep you focused on the joy that writing can bring.

:) Cheryl

PS—The photo’s significance: the on-fire turtle!!

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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Favorite iPhone Apps for Writers: the Creative Whack Pack

whackOver the years, I’ve used lots of creativity sparkers, writing prompts, idea generators, and so on—and this is different. Roger von Oech's Creative Whack Pack addresses core creativity issues and helps you come up with new ways to think about problems. Although I use the Whack Pack as an iPhone app, it was (and still is) originally available as an actual, hold-it-in-your hands deck of cards. 


ideasThe Creative Whack Pack consists of 64 cards, each describing a different creative thinking strategy. For instance, one strategy is “Look Somewhere Else.” The card highlights the concept that when you’re looking for new ideas, you won’t find them in the same old places.

Each card also includes questions to help you apply the concepts to your particular problem.

I bought the Creative Whack Pack as a writing tool, but I find I use it whenever I have a tricky problem to consider. By going through a “creative workshop”, I’m forced to look at problems from new angles, consider new solutions. Afterward, I always have new ideas to try.

Whether or not you have an iPhone, I’d consider getting a copy of these cards. They’re a great way to keep your mind sharp and stimulate creative thinking!

:) Cheryl

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Monday, June 1, 2009

The iPhone for Writers

shining_blue_1 I resisted getting a smart phone forEVER. Over the years, I’ve played around with the Visor (now there’s a blast from the past!), Palm Pilots, and phones with the Windows operating system—and none of them really worked for me. They were too slow, or too clunky, or ran through batteries too quickly, or they were too hard to synchronize with my desktop data.

A few months ago, after playing around with a friend’s iPhone and doing a TON of research, I finally bit the bullet and bought an iPhone. It’s pricey, but I managed to convince myself that it was a useful tool, useful enough to justify the expense.

And then I waited anxiously for buyer’s remorse to set in, because I’m just not the type to get that excited about a cell phone. I mean, I hate talking on the phone! What was I thinking?

Buyer’s remorse has not set in. In fact, I now consider the iPhone an extremely valuable tool for my writing life…and most of my reasons have nothing to do with the fact that it’s a phone and everything to do with everything else it can do. Because it can do a LOT. It lets me blog on the go, including pics; carry around more books than I could possibly read on a single vacation (which is saying a lot); record that great story idea while walking the dog…you get the idea.

Is an iPhone a needed accessory for every writer? Probably not. But for this writer, it’s a tool that’s been paying for itself!

More on my favorite apps for writers later this week!

:) Cheryl