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The Rich Writer

The Rich Writer: June 2010

The Rich Writer

How to Thrive on the Writer's Road

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Fear and Success and Keeping On…

I promised myself that there would be NO MORE BLOGGING—or Tweeting or random researching, or any of the other ways I distract myself and procrastinate—until I began the much-dreaded rewrite of my latest YA, VOICE.

  I usually love to rewrite, but this round has been unexpectedly difficult to begin. Why, you ask? For an unanticipated reason: an editor or two actually LIKE the manuscript.

Intellectually, I know this is a Very Good Thing. The problem is that now it’s up to me to sift through advice and suggestions, dive back into the story, and turn around a rewrite that WOWs…and that’s a little scary. I’m close, but I’ve been this close before. I’m afraid I’ll screw it up.

iStock_000006789833XSmallI think my inner 6-year-old is holding onto the logic that, if I don’t ever turn in the rewrite, I can’t possibly fail. It’s the same logic that keeps writers from submitting manuscripts, because that which is not submitted can never be rejected, right? Surely I’m not the only writer to struggle with gut-level illogic?

I know, I know: the solution to this problem is to trick my subconscious into moving on, which is what I’ve been working on this week. I’ve made enough progress that I’m allowed to blog again and maybe even write a Tweet or two.

If I’m a good girl and keep on writing that story!!

:) Cheryl

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The mourning doves have fledged!


These are the two baby mourning doves in our apple tree—a successful nesting this year! (Last year, the mother and chicks disappeared while the chicks were still very young, leaving behind only an ominous scattering of feathers….)

They flew off later this same day.

:) Cheryl


Monday, June 14, 2010

The Secret Identity of Writers

iStock_000007377790XSmall I’m starting to wonder if all my writing friends have secret identities.

It started with my friend Chris. Chris writes very interesting nonfiction that requires lots and lots of research in very thick books with small print. She’s an amazing conference planner and retired co-RA of the Rocky Mountain SCBWI. She’s well-versed in Chinese culture and history, Socratic seminars, and how to engage a room full of squirmy middle schoolers.

In other words, on the surface, she’s a dyed-in-the-wool writer.

When no one’s looking, though, she becomes:


Okay, so maybe she doesn’t actually wear a cape, but she does adorn her walls with intricate fabric artwork, quilting pieces of the sort you expect to see in art galleries.

Another writer friend, Laura, likes to create elaborate fantasy worlds with cool magic systems. In them, she weaves tales of love and betrayal, discovery and redemption. She’s also a certified dream worker and knows more about dreams than you can shake a stick at.

But under the cover of the evening sky, Laura mixes multihued oil paints on swaths of blank canvas, like Van Gogh in hiding. And she’s good! Really, really good.

This makes me wonder about my other writing friends…

I get it, though. Even if you adore writing and can’t live without it, once you enter the publication game, it’s hard to shake that feeling that someone is looking over your shoulder, judging your words. Everything you write has to be “good enough.” There’s pressure, where once there was only the joy of creation.

When a writer takes up another art form, she can create without the pressure to produce something marketable. The only person she has to please is herself.

Wait—what’s that? Do *I* have a secret identity? Of course! Shh—don’t tell anyone, but outside the public eye, I become…



But it’s a secret. :)

crochet1 crochet2 crochet3

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Friday, June 11, 2010

Writing off summer travel?

IMG_0804 If I understand my tax laws correctly*, I can write off some of my vacation travel expenses if I incorporate some writing research into my travel plans. For instance, if I drive to Gettysburg, PA, and spend part of my time researching material for a book on the Civil War, I can deduct the cost of travel to and from Gettysburg.

This seems like such a financially savvy move that I’d really like to make it work.

Last year I decided to research learning to ride a horse so I could incorporate the details into a book. My sister and niece generously loaned me their horses and instructor, and by the end of two weeks I’d collected pages of notes on the down-and-dirty of learning to ride.

I even learned to round pen, which is very cool because it uses what people know about horse behavior to train the horse.

I saved all my receipts—and when tax time rolled around, I didn’t deduct any of it. Why not? Because although I did all the research, I never actually used it in a book, book proposal, or article. I’d still like to incorporate learning to ride into a novel someday, but probably not for a while, since I have one novel in the rewrite stage and another waiting in the wings, both conspicuously horse-free.

Now summer is rolling around again, with its various trips and travel expenses, and I’m brainstorming article ideas and character research I use to couple business with pleasure. Anyone else do this? Any suggestions?

I’ll let you know how it turns out!

:) Cheryl

*Please note that I am not an accountant, have never been an accountant, never played one on TV, never even dated one. To my knowledge, I’m not even related to any—the point being, if you want *actual* tax advice, look elsewhere :)

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Wednesday, June 9, 2010


IMG_0680 It’s summer! Hurray! And…help!

Hurray because the stress of school is finished and I have my kids around more. I actually do kinda like them!

Help for almost the same reasons. School’s out, my kids are home, and suddenly I find myself trying to do all my normal work plus spend quality time with the family. Guess how that’s working out?

The funny thing is that this happens to me every year. You’d think I’d figure it out. In fact, I blogged about this very topic last year and linked to some of my other online friends and inspirations who were wrestling with the same situation. And yet every year, summer and its scheduling challenges sneak up on me.

What’s a writer to do?

I’ll tell you: this writer is going to make a new plan and a new schedule that balances time for gardening, swimming excursions, hikes, and camping with time for writing, reading, and researching. I’ll get less done than I want to get done—but then, I always get less done than I want to get done, not because I’m unproductive but because I’m occasionally unrealistic in my goals :).

Wish me luck!


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

How to Write a Book: the Storyboard

Writing life I’m working on a work-for-hire picture book project right now, a project for which I need to assemble 40 pages worth of info on text, graphic novel-type dialog, sidebars, text boxes, and illustration notes. For the first time in my life, I’ve used a storyboard as a writing strategy to help me see the “big picture” of what I’m writing. I’m now officially a storyboard convert: Fitting your story into a visual format is a great creative exercise to help you look at it with fresh eyes.

A storyboard can help you answer questions such as:

  1. Do the page turns pull you forward?
  2. Does the excitement build? Where do surprises or changes of direction occur?
  3. Are there enough scene changes (and, therefore, illustration possibilities) to make this a good fit for a picture book?

I found plenty of info out there on how to create a storyboard manually (i.e., stapling pages together), but I wanted a storyboard where I could move content from one page spread to another, something where I could play and change things without starting from scratch every time. I wanted to be able to type in text, but within a visual layout. Here’s the result:


And here’s the how-to:

  1. Create a table 1 row high and 2 columns wide using your favorite word processing program (I used MS Word).
  2. Click to place your cursor inside the box. Enter hard returns until the table is sized as desired. This is your first spread (pages 2 and 3, which are usually the copyright and title pages, respectively).
  3. Click outside the box and enter a hard return (to separate the first table from those following). Select all (CNTRL-A), copy all(CNTRL-C), and paste (CNTRL-V) until your document contains the desired number of tables (14, 16, and 40 are some common numbers—count the number of spreads in a book similar to yours to decide how many spreads to play). 

Note: this is NOT the format you’d use to submit your book, but I find it very helpful as I write and revise. Have fun!

:) Cheryl