Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Icing on the Cake

Since Mandy mentioned food....

I am trying to finish up Shadow People, my wip. It has been a year now and boy am I ready to finish! So why is it so hard to force my butt into the chair? I enjoy revising very much. But right now I have to completely rewrite my end and tie up many loose ends. It reminds me of baking and decorating a HUGE cake. I have all of the layers there and the frosting but none of the pretty flowers and extras.

I just need to sit and DO it! I hit a rough spot and find millions of excuses not to do it. In the meantime my agent is waiting for it! Arrrggghhh. Not to mention that after working all day, doing laundry, making dinner and supervising homework and teeth brushing I am TIRED! I need a week...a writing retreat to rest, relax and put those roses on my twelve-teared cake. Anyone care to fund it?

I'll finish eventually. Then I am taking a break!


Friday, January 25, 2008


I have recently started another revision of my latest WIP and took out what I thought was a small little piece cause quite honestly, I kept forgetting about it. But I have found that while things are better without that one little nugget, I have left a glaring hole in the middle of my early plot. I have that shored up in later chapters but am now having to go back and sprinkle in tidbits to let my reader know what the heck is going on. So currently, I am scouring my early passages looking for places to drop information without bogging down my action. Sprinkles sure are yummy on my doughnut, I only hope they are equally yummy in readable form.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Countdown ...

You've got 8 days to get your HIGHLIGHTS FOR CHILDREN MAGAZINE fiction contest piece in the mail! 8 days!! This year the theme is "the future" and max word count is 800.
But why bother? Thousands of entries. A set theme. And most of us can use a good 1000 words if we write about lacing our shoes in the morning -- being limited to 800 words for a WHOLE STORY is seemingly impossible.
And that's WHY I think writers should enter contests, apply for grants, and try different mediums. The best way to become a better writer is having to meet deadlines while writing under specific "limitations".
Because when the revisions requests come for your novel, nobody's going to hold your hand, and it feels like you've been thrown overboard without a life jacket. Practicing. Writing. And complying by contest rules is a great way to get your brain working under "pressure." I NEVER write futuristic things. And writing the story for Highlights was a challenge and fun! It was like coming up for air after being bogged down in the dark world of YA.
My story has been sent off. And now it's back to my novel (Which will end up being around 60,000+ words. Sigh.)
So next time a contest comes up. Try it out. Create a "writing contest" calendar and meet those deadlines. It' a great way to wrinkle your brain.

For guidelines or additional information, check out the Highlights Website:

Heidi Ayarbe

Sunday, January 20, 2008

A strike for Writers

Living in Los Angeles, we probably get more coverage on the writers strike than the rest of the country. We also know lower echelon people in the "business" who are suffering from a lack of current income. A stoppage of work trickles down with more immediate effect than Reagan's cockamamie theory about riches dribbling from top to bottom ever did. In both cases, the guy at the bottom takes the worst hit.
On the other hand, I definitely see the point of this strike. Nobody knows what the future will bring in this fast changing business. Writers, paid less than others in the entertainment business, gave away residual rights two decades ago when the future of DVDs was unclear. They have paid dearly for that. Who can blame them for trying to negotiate future rights in order not to get kayoed again?
How this affects those of us whose publishing dreams aren't linked to movies and TV, I can't say. But as a matter of solidarity, I'll always hang with the writers. Even if it means no more Medium and House for a while.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Striking in Hollywood

This is the talk of Hollywood, New York, and probably writers everywhere. Much to my embarrassment, I had to go to WIKIPEDIA (Thank heavens for Wikipedia! www.wikipedia.org) to really understand the issues of the strike. What struck me is the sheer magnitude of this strike in numbers, employment, and how the trickle-down effect is more of a landslide. According to a report by NBC Nightly News, the strike has cost the industry a billion dollars since it began (and it's only been going on since November.) And after reading about the issues and what the writers guild wants, I didn't see their demands as being out-of-line in the slightest.
The Golden Globes passed without a blip, really, and I realized that writers have power. Nobody wants to cross their line because their words are the basis for everything that happens on TV, in the movies, in the theater .. everywhere. There's the old adage "she who rocks the cradle, rules the world." In popular culture, it's "she who holds the pen (laptop, actually)".
So how does this effect us: children's writers, illustrators, novelists, and the publishing house realm of the written word? I think it's brought to light the "forgotten" ones. The writers, the crew, the ones who work behind the scenes to make stars shine. And maybe people will be more aware of not only how much depends on writers but also how hard writers work to create worlds in which we get lost on the Big and Small Screens -- as well as between the covers of an old book.
I'm not educated enough on the issues to debate them. But I'll be paying close attention to see what might happen in Hollywood and if there are any ripple effects in the children's writers' world.

Heidi Ayarbe

Attack of the Pod-books

Has anyone else seen the new wireless “reading device” that Amazon.com is marketing? (Yes, I admit it, I shop on Amazon. I wish I could lie and say that I only frequent my fabulous, local, independent bookshop where the owner knows my name and orders things she thinks I would like after we’ve spent hours discussing the new trends in YA literature, but the fact is . . . I don’t. I have a baby and it’s cold here, and when I order from Amazon, it’s cheaper than the indie bookstore and two days later, the nice UPS man drops off my books. Sometimes it’s just easier.)

You can read about it here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000FI73MA/ref=amb_link_6050242_1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=right-1&pf_rd_r=125Q9YPPVDYVMMMWC6J7&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=358859701&pf_rd_i=507846

I’ve gotta say, this thing kind of freaks me out. I think of all the times I’ve fallen asleep with a book open on my chest, or read a book in the bathtub, or thumbed through a novel someone’s lent to me and noted with interest which pages were dog-eared, or what passages had been underlined. None of that seems likely to happen with a “wireless device.” I mean, if I drop a ten dollar paperback in the bath – well, that’s not great, but it doesn’t exactly wreck my credit card statement for the month. And a hard plastic box isn’t exactly what I want to curl up with before I go to sleep.

What’s wrong with books as books? Paper and glue and ink? I’m probably not the best one to judge, since I have strong antediluvian tendencies as it is, but I just can’t make the leap from turning pages to clicking to the next PDF section. I think it’s depressing.

I wonder if people grumbled about the same thing when man made the leap from chiseling on stone tables to scribbling on paper?

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Burning of Bad Habits

Zozobra is a big deal in Santa Fe. Every September hundreds of people gather around the giant marionette that moans and waves his arms. They chant, whoop and holler while they set him on fire. He represents Old Man Gloom, the bad habits and bad moments of the past. His burning represents a new start, a fresh beginning.
That is my theme this year. My problem last year with writing was setting impossible goals. It is not humanly possible to do everything that I must do plus write for hours every week. So I now write around a half hour a day, sometimes more when I can and sometimes less if things come up. I took the month of December off completely. Last year I planned to complete two novels in one year (while doing everything else a mother of two who works full time, helps care for her father and run a household), yeah right!
Now I am in love with writing again instead of thinking of it as some unattainable goal hanging over my head. I would walk by the computer and create things to do to avoid it. So this year I am setting reasonable goals.
Finish my current book, start and finish my next book by 2009. All rules change when my agent calls saying that an editor wants revisions....

Can I make it?

So a new year races in. Parties and friends and family all to be visited. Then everything settles down and its time to take a look at what I want to accomplish this year. My main goal for 2008 is to finish my current WIP and start querying it. This will be my first venture into the world of agents. I plan to have the ms done by at the very latest, April. However, I tend to be very lenient with my deadlines. Get it ready over the summer and start querying late summer/early fall. Wow, I guess now that I've outlined it, I have to do it! No more procrastinating, no more sabotaging my own progress. Looking back next Decemeber on 2008, I want to say that I reached my goal.

Revise, Jump through Burning hoop, repeat

Okay. Don't ask me to explain that picture. Certain folks know what it means. Let's just say it represents me, duking it out with my second novel and its strange journey through the query process. I was close to getting an agent. I thought I'd landed that knockout punch, but well, not close enough.

I've been invited to re-submit the manuscript if I do some MAJOR revisions. Which I have started. So, all of my earlier plans to push ahead with the WIP have been shelved so I can slash and burn the older novel.

I'd really wanted to finish novel 3. I was hoping to get more disciplined about it, but now it looks like I have an excuse to mess with my darling earlier work a bit more. I had a hard time letting go and I can't let the chance that a huge agent may actually want it and is coaxing me along to make it shine slip by.

So for the foreseeble future I'll be ripping.
And tearing.
And slashing.
And boxing with kangaroos.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Write .. Write .. Write .. Write .. Write

Well, I fibbed. I said I wouldn't get carried away with December's festivities but somehow forgot about the Colombian Party Vortex and how December is like the eye-of-the-tornado for socializing down here.
So .. my writing took a backseat, I mean WAY BACKSEAT, to dancing, bunuelos, natilla, birthdays, Christmas, New Year's, and all the other social engagements in between -- which are too numerous to name. (They're all a blur now.)
So now that I've worked my way out of the rubble of December, it's time to get serious, and get writing. Two years ago, I read that if you write it, it will happen. (If you build it, they will come.) I like Shoeless Joe and that philosophy, and I did a month-by-month, trimestral, and semestral writing goals calendar.
And, it worked.
So, at this time my first writing goal is to set up a calendar of concrete goals. It goes like this: By April, I will have XXX. By July, I will have XXX. By October, I will have XXX. And by January 2009, I will have XXX. Then I tack it up where I see it every day. And it haunts me. And it helps me with the "butt-in-chair" tactic.
Again, I'm going to do month-by-month and trimestral. The short-term goals always build up to the long-term goals.
Some of those goals will include: number of chapters I intend to write, writing contests and their deadlines, applications for grants, finding more freelance writing projects, and finishing that Website!
I hope this year is a year of health, happiness, wonder, and success for everyone. And writing.
Write .. write .. write .. write .. write!!

Heidi Ayarbe