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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Sprung


Yep, Spring has sprung here on the Gulf Coast. Baseball teams are on the fields, camelias blooms are dying down, and azaleas are ablaze with color. I've spent days in the yard and rose bed trying to do an end-run on all the pre-emergent weeds. I climbed the ladder to paint shutters, sawed small oak trees into firewood so I can drag what's left to the burn pile in the middle of the garden, and now, I'm officially sore. Best intentions aside, I failed to make time to blog. (Sigh) I do have a bunch of new story ideas, though.

The "Daddy's Girls' Weekend" hosted by Carolyn Haines at the Gulf Hills Resort in Mississippi in early March was a lot of fun and foolishness. Disclaimer: In the midst of a good time, I gleaned lots of info from the sessions. Really helpful to me were the conversations with young adult novel readers. The weekend facilitors included New York Times bestseller novelist Dean James, publisher Benjamin Leroy of Tyrus Books, literary agent Marian Young (who represents Carolyn Haines as well as Bret Lott who wrote JEWEL, an Oprah Book Club pick), screenwriter David Sheffield (think "The Nutty Professor" and "Saturday Night Live"), and, of course, Bones series novelist Carolyn Haines. The weekend ended with the election of Dean James as "Big Daddy."

Next weekend, the Mobile Writers Guild will host a one-day event at a local Mobile, AL, library. I'm looking forward to a critique by agent Michael Garrett of the first five pages of one of my novels.

I think this brings me to my lesson of the day: Don't ever stop building on your writing knowledge. You don't have to spend a lot of money to learn, but you do have to spend a lot of time. Read, read, read, then read some more. Write some every day. Join a critique group. Then, when you can afford it, pick a conference to attend (local is fine), and hobnob. I find that critiques, especially the ones that tell me my baby is ugly, are invaluable and necessary to improve my craft. It's extra nice when I'm able to get individual input from someone in the business.

That being said, you-all-guys keep on keeping on, and I'll try to do the same.

cj

Spring Icons: A budding tree and a stalwart robin. Image by Jeff Johnston.

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