Don’t Edit Out The Best Parts.
October 30, 2011

Ever notice how when you’re in editing mode, all of life can be edited?

Dog’s hair grown shaggy and uneven? Trim Edit it. The garden, tree limbs thrown everywhere? Edit it. The horses’ manes twisted into baby dreads by monsoon winds? Brush to edit.

I’ve edited radio commercials in my head that, with a few tweaks, sound even stronger. Same goes for television dialogue, presidential speeches, greeting cards, news articles and even the back of the Finesse shampoo bottle. 

In fiction, though, it’s the flaws and imperfections that make for original characters. I’d go even further and not call them flaws, but quirks — self-marks — that lend characters their unique, flesh and blood personas. 

Sometimes real means holding back  — resisting the urge to edit out the rawness and ruin the writing, even if it isn’t perfect. Perfectionism can masquerade as editing. Even worse, it can erase the best part: your voice.

Through your voice, you, the author, are a character in your stories. You leave your ambiance, your mental footprints behind. Too sterile, too perfect, and all is lost.

There’s a fine line — a tightrope walk — between revision –re-visioning — and nervous tinkering.

Grass need mowing? Edit it. Character imperfect, multi-dimensional, heart raw, hair shaggy?

Resist the urge.

Publication’s Bumpy, Winding Road.
September 1, 2011

Detours? Just another way to get to your destination. By nature, detours are unavoidable twists in the road, and whether you’re querying, out on sub, or working on a WIP, detours may lead to a better destination than the one you originally envisioned.

Truth is, the only thing in a writer’s control is the writing. And the only way to survive the road to publication is to keep the writing front and center. There will be plenty of detours along the way for most of us, which will keep the journey interesting.

Just be sure to hold onto the writing — your love of words and stories — above all else.

Out On Submission.
June 18, 2011

You know that feeling where you want to hug the whole world?

That’s how I feel with my revisions finished. I’ve never worked harder in my life!

The 27th Letter of the Alphabet, originally entitled hollyrusken@yahoo.com, is officially out on submission!

A state that, for me, leads to reflection and philosophizing.

If asked which I value more — the end goal of my writing, or the lessons learned along the way, I’d have to choose the latter every time. The lessons in persistence, hard work and faith serve to benefit not only the writing and publishing journey, but the journey that trumps all journeys: life itself.

What some call a wretched road, I call a blessed road, and a road I feel privileged to travel. And I wish the same for all of you; that amidst the twists and turns of your dreams, you find value and meaning sprouting along the roadside … surprises that grow you, delightful moments that enlighten and sustain you.

Dogspeed, as I like to say.

Dogspeed to you.

Why Write YA? Why Not Write “Real Books”?
January 31, 2011

There’s a great post over at YA Highway written by Kristin Miller, YA Inferior?, that really got me thinking:

A recent Publisher’s Weekly article discusses some of the big children’s titles that were being buzzed about at Mid-June’s Winter Institute. We were excited to see YA Highway friend Vernoica Roth noted for DIVERGENT, the first book in her new series. Yay Veronica!

Later in the article, however, we were disappointed with a comment made by a New England bookseller and co-chair of the New England Children’s Booksellers’ Association. From the article:

“The other, Judy Blundell’s Strings Attached (Scholastic), is so well-written, says Hermans, that it could be shelved with adult titles.”

Which leads to my question for today: why write YA? Why not write “real books”?

All I know is, YA and children’s books shaped me as a reader, a writer, a thinker, a human being.

That’s why *I* write YA. I want to serve — to help shape, enlighten, champion, comfort, applaud, reassure young people as they grow into adults in this often unfair, cruel, confusing and dark world.

I don’t care what anyone else thinks. I see YA as a noble pursuit that remains a noble pursuit regardless of others’ misinterpretations or misguided attempts (intended or otherwise) to portray it as less than it is: a valid, vital form of literature.

When I think of the books I love most in the world, that unleash(ed) that reading journey of magic and wonder, self-discovery and growth, it’s the titles of my childhood and young adult years that always come to mind, continuing to warm my heart and make me smile.

I can’t think of a more worthwhile pursuit than helping those tender, growing shoots of humanity find their way in this world, hearts touched and minds understood and, with a book in their hands, never EVER alone.

I believe there’s so much magic to be found in YA because those years *are* the magic years: the years of stunning, shiny firsts.

Writing YA, good YA, takes three things: heart, honesty, and a willingness not to look the other way.

What about you? Why do YOU write YA?

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May 9, 2010

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