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Quotes to Write By – Day 9

Today’s quote comes from poet and author, Maya Angelou.

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou

When I was a little girl and won my first writing competition at the age of seven, I didn’t think I could become a famous author or even published until I grew older and read books written by other people of color. In fact, I never considered it. Why? Well, to satiate your curiosity as to why I felt this way, please read this post. Tragically, the status quo hasn’t changed though. Famous black authors (famous as in equivalent to King and Patterson) are still few in number and are sadly still being underrepresented. You can read more here and here.

Hopefully, the gatekeepers will stop their dastardly deeds.

And at last, the Quote of the Day.

Quote #9

“You can only become accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you.”

Maya Angelou

I love comments, and I always visit back. Blogging is all about being a part of a community, and communities are about communication! Tweet with me @moniquedesir

Quotes to Write By – Day 8

Today’s quote comes from my most recent accomplishment.

I wrote a picture book story.

I wrote my second picture book. My first picture book was called “Abigail and the Butterfly Masquerade.” I’ve never submitted it and may self-publish it someday or submit it to a publishing house.

This most recent attempt at writing a picture book was a lot of fun and really hard. Why? Because the word count limit is 1500 words. It took me three days to complete the first draft. 🙂 The first day I did a lot of research learning about the Japanese tea ceremony since the narrator is an eleven-year-old half-Japanese girl. I think that diverse books are important and that we need more of them and that’s why a lot of my books will include more and more authentic and multicultural characters. Day two, I gave the first half of the draft to three readers. Two are adults (one is Japanese) and the third person is a student who could relate to the story.

For this first draft, I’m torn between two title ideas: “Love Song” or “Ichi-go Ichi-e“. As I revise this draft and make it stronger, leaner, and sweeter I hope that I can settle on the best one. 🙂

Will Shetterly

Will Shetterly

Quote #8

“It is better to write a bad first draft than to write no first draft at all.”

Will Shetterly

Quotes to Write By – Day 7

I remember when I was in middle school and wrote every single day without fail. I had a green spiral notebook covered in doodles and stickers. I filled the pages with poems, titles to stories or chapter titles to story ideas. I poured my heart and soul onto those pages, often spilling dark secrets I wouldn’t even tell my closest friend. Once that notebook filled, I bought another one and continued the process.

emo-phase

We make brooding look elegant.

Ironically, even though I was a preteen middle school student brimming with raging hormones and pressured to fit in with my peers, I sometimes think I was more bold back then. Those obstacles didn’t stop me from writing, but instead often encouraged me to write more.

Over twenty years later, my intent is to write every day. However, that doesn’t always happen and then guilt sets in or fear that what I write won’t matter because it’s not this or it’s not that.

Today’s quote comes from versatile writer, Jane Yolen.

janeyolen

Jane Yolen

This “Quotes to Write By” series is helping me to stay focused and committed to writing even when I really don’t want to. I hope it helps even one other writer too.

Quote #7

“Exercise the writing muscle every day, even if it is only a letter, notes, a title list, a character sketch, a journal entry. Writers are like dancers, like athletes. Without that exercise, the muscles seize up.”

Jane Yolen

ballerina

 

Quotes to Write By – Day 6

writing-and-depression

So much is going on. I feel like no matter how much I plan and prioritize my life that I’m getting nowhere.

I have a deadline for a short story that I want to submit to a magazine and a picture book (I’ve only written one of these) for a contest.

Unfortunately, the words come, but I don’t think the story’s endings are good enough. I have a decent beginning and middle, but the ending? Oh dear.

Usually, I’m pretty good at writing the endings to my stories. I have often had the ending thoroughly planned out, but this time, I’m not sure what to do!

By the time I get home from teaching full-time, I have other responsibilities. Feeding my three kiddos and having dinner ready for my husband. By the time I’ve invested hours playing with my two toddlers, hanging out with my teenage son, and chatting with my husband, I’m exhausted and feel like a failure. 😦

When words fail me, I could:

  1. Blame it on writer’s block.
  2. Sink into despair and depression.
  3. Eat cookies and chips and participate in guilt-inducing Netflix binging.
  4. Replay Dragon Age Origins as a human noble and seduce Alistair, bastard prince, into making me Queen.

In all fairness and honesty, I’m 100% certain that I’m not the only author in the entire world who has done at least 1, 2, 3, or 4 at some point in their writing career.

Anyone? Anyone else? Oh, okay . . .

Instead, I need to think about what I have already accomplished and move on from there. 🙂

Please share in any social media format you prefer and/or reblog. Thank you! 🙂

Quote #6

“Don’t fear making a mistake; fear failing to learn and move forward.”

Philip Humbert

Quotes to Write By – Day 5

The following review is from one of my readers. It’s a fabulous feeling when someone other than your family has read and reviewed one of your books — especially if you’re an Indie author.

Amazon Review

I love reading and lately I’ve come across of books that aren’t traditionally published. Some are of the highest quality. Some of them are your average read-and-donate-to-public-library. And some are disappointments that I’ll discuss in the near future on my author page.

Now, back to that 5-star review. The reader loved how the ending was not only complete, but that I left a “world of possibilities” for the main character, Alexander to explore in the next book. I gave no unfair and teasing cliffhangers here, folks. My love is that real. 🙂

And at last, the quote for today:

Quote #5

“The ending has to fit. The ending has to matter, and make sense. I could care less about whether it’s happy or sad or atomic. The ending is the place where you go, “Aha. Of course. That’s right.”

Carrie Jones

10,000 March Writing Challenge

fantasybutterfly

My writing life has been busier than ever. My youngest son finally turned one a couple months ago and as a result, and soon I hope to return to my “night owl” lifestyle of staying up late, burning the midnight oil and writing, reading, and writing.

I miss those days, but the time I spend with my children is so enjoyable . . . and makes good writing material! My oldest is learning to play the violin and my middle child has the funniest sense of humor! The one-year-old’s personality is developing even more. He’s charming and strong-willed: just like his handsome daddy.

So, thankfully, while scrolling through my blog reader, I noticed this writing challenge for the month of March to channel all of these wonderfully incredible moments and more!

It’s kind of like NaNoWriMo — in miniature — because you only have to write a minimum of 10,000 words.

I’ll be a little nervous about feedback since I’ll be writing “like mad” and with pure abandon! Raw and unedited stories are scary! Sometimes, they’re not even recognizable as your own.

writing-meme

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Join me, readers and writers — if you so choose! 🙂 Create an account, as a reader or a writer. it’s an easy process. All you need is an email. Happy writing and happy reading.

may-the-words

 

The Query’s the Thing!

In William Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet, the main character of the eponymous title states “the play’s the thing” in order to bring to light the truth about his father’s murder. Well, the query’s the thing for writers to grab the attention of an editor or agent! When querying, the first few pages are key!

Writers often struggle with preparing a manuscript for an agent or publisher. Nowadays, email is the way of submitting a literary piece and the shorter and sweeter the query – the better! For starters, I needed a better beginning for my dark fantasy middle grade novel, Shoes, with hints of horror and the supernatural. The beginning was as stale and dry as four-days-past-the-sale-by-date opened bag of bread. Oh, not just stale, but stale and boring. It didn’t even have the problem of mold in its staleness to make it even a little interesting. I was in trouble and would have been rejected in record time by any prospective agent or editor.

But I hadn’t realized this error until I revisited the manuscript almost a year later.

So, after several days of thinking, reflecting, and brainstorming I all but smacked myself in the face when I realized the perfect beginning resided in my own childhood fears. Not fear from reading R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps series or watching Wes Craven’s Nightmare on Elm Street, but guttural, soul-shivering terror of the stories my Jamaican mother and Haitian father would sometimes share after dinner.

Perhaps because of the writer in me, my curiosity outweighed my fear and allowed me to listen, taking note of the interesting real-life characters and supernatural experiences of my parents in their birth countries.

Now that I’m an adult, I vividly see the frightening potential these tales of terror can offer. Here’s the revised beginning:

“Nothing to be afraid of,” Alexander promised himself. He pressed against the hallway wall, his gaze frozen on the wooden statue. Tongue glued to the roof of his cotton-dry mouth, he couldn’t speak anymore. Like Medusa turned onlookers to stone, the creepy statue that his Grandpa Jean gave to his family possessed the power to silence those who dared to stare and wonder about its purpose.

He swallowed hard and his throat burned. Fear always made him thirsty.

He hated the wooden statue, carved with beautiful African features, a wide brim hat, and almond shaped eyes, so detailed if you stared long enough he – the statue – seemed to blink and stare back.

Alexander wished the statue would topple over and break from the living room’s coffee table.

He remembered knocking it over once, hope burning inside him like a star that its gangly limbs would break off piece by piece from the assault. But to his shock and sadness, the statue remained intact. That day sealed his opinion of the thing. It was evil. Yup, no doubt about it.

He breathed in deeply, fidgeting with the buttons of his pajamas, closed his eyes and hurried pass the despised and prized piece of furniture to the quiet of his bedroom.

He slipped under the covers and buried his face beneath the sheets. For several meetings, he shivered as his body adjusted to the coldness of his bedroom, which was always at least ten degrees colder than any room in the house. His room most likely had some story of its own to tell, like that statue in the hallway. Someone had probably died here, he thought. Or worse, there’s a monster under the bed, like the scaly monster that rested its hand on your Aunt Nadine when Mom and her were kids.

Alexander clenched his teeth to stop the chattering of his teeth, which had nothing to do with the cold.

He shut his mind off from the terrible images playing in his mind and instead began counting sheep wearing polka dotted ties.

And slept . . .
***
Here’s the original beginning I had written:

Time and time again, Alexander Brennan’s mom told him he had an overactive imagination and right now it was his only source of comfort keeping him whole. Ever since his mother became ill, the real world slowly crumpled around him, threatening to crush him. His mother also told him that he fixated on useless things like quotes. Quotes like, “Every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings.”

When he first heard those words he wondered and wondered and wondered where they had come from. He wondered what they meant, rolling the idea around in his mind like a piece of candy. And then he wondered the opposite. What happens when an angel loses its wings? Does lightning strike? Does the earth shake?

And this particular afternoon, while walking home from school with his best friend, Dylan Perez, his overactive imagination caused him to obsess over yet another mundane and ordinary thing.

“Shoes,” Alexander said, pointing above. Dangling from the electrical wires hung a pair of black and white sneakers with silver stars.

Dylan looked uninterested, but he stopped to gaze up at the shoes. “Yeah, so. Some bully probably slung ‘em up there, man.” He gave an awkward shrug of his shoulders, weighed down by his backpack laden with books and school supplies. “Or, like my dad told me, people just toss ‘em up there because they can. Like a game to see if you can get the shoes to lock and hold. What’s the big deal?”

“Yeah, but that’s too simple an explanation. And you know better than anybody else that the truth is sometimes stranger than fiction. So wouldn’t it be weird and yet make more sense if the shoes were left as like a sign or something by an alien. You know, like maybe aliens abducted the kid who owned those shoes and left them there as proof of his conquest?”

Alexander burst into laughter at his idea. He laughed because it was funny. He laughed because a part of him wished that it was true. He stopped laughing when he noticed he was laughing alone.

Dylan shook his head slowly. “Lex, you seriously watch way too many sci-fi movies.” He shook his head again, trying to look stern and serious, but Alexander could tell he wanted to laugh. Dylan could be just as imaginative as he was. That was one of the reasons they had become quick friends in first grade and had remained friends almost 5 years ago. It was the first day of kindergarten and during free time, Alexander and Dylan played a game of The Teacher is an Alien. Sure, they got sent to time out (since they continued pretending even after free time was long over), but it was well worth it.

Alexander wasn’t looking forward to the first day of middle school and even though it was a couple of days away, the thought of possibly being separated from Dylan made his stomach hurt.

***

Which one is better? Which one do you prefer and why? Sound off in the comments. 3-2-1 – GO!