Bullet Journal – a writers approach

During 2017, I got increasingly frustrated with the progress of my WIP despite my regular attendance at #5amwritersclub. I had trouble getting my daily workload organized in a reasonable way and still get some writing done – all day every day something came up and interfered. So, I was searching for a remedy, something new worth trying. In came my first Bullet Journal.

That was in August 2017 and now, almost half a year later, I’m still using it. I’ve written a guest post for the SCBWI Germany/Austria chapter’s blog. Head over there if you want to know how I personalized my Bullet Journal and organize (not only) my writing.

Got a journal yourself? Any ideas how I could improve my journaling? Write me in the comments – I’d love to hear about it!

Weekly Poetry Challenge – a #Tanka

I’m a mom of two girls and to me, it’s pure wonder seeing them grow up and develop into individuals with distinct ideas and traits. They grow so fast and the day will come when they are ready to leave our house. On the one hand, I look forward to it. On the other, I wish I could keep them with me, protect them for eternity.

This week’s prompt words were bond and seek. Somehow these words immediately stirred an old memory. The memory of a picture I took years ago… I wanted to share it for this week’s installment of Colleen’s Tanka Challenge. I had some trouble reactivating that long forgotten Flickr account but managed in the end.

So here it is. Wintry day, some unknown trail in Bavarian woods, and my excited daughter.

I just love her open expression and the sheer joy of handling such mundane thing as an old fir branch. It always reminds me that children have a special view of the world around them, one that we as adults have often ceased to experience. We often skim over the details where for them everything is exciting, new, and fascinating. Through my girls, I got a glimpse of that world once more.

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~Forgotten Perspective~

Through your eyes I see
The world awash with wonder.
Anchored here, I watch
In awe. Your winged soul takes flight,
Chasing dreams, probing limits.

Children are our legacy. But all we can do is to accompany them for a while, make the joined part of the journey as happy and secure as possible and prepare them, so they are ready when they leave us to follow their own paths.

Webinar – Three interesting talks @ Agent Day

Last Saturday, on 27th of January, the SCBWI-WI team held a half-day webinar featuring advice from three agents, namely Lauren Spieller, Taylor Martindale Kean and Natalie Lakosil.

Unfortunately, I could not attend the webinar at the time it was streamed but the SCBWI WI crew provided a recording of the talks just 24h later and I watched it the following week. Here’s a quick overview of all three sessions.

Lauren Spieller – How to write a decent query letter.

Author herself and an agent with Triada US Literacy agency, Lauren talked about the art of writing a killer query and get agents and editors to request a full manuscript. To do so, she broke down the structure of a query letter and explained basic information that should be given.

The most important thing is: a query letter is a business letter, therefore you should treat it as such. I knew many of the key points Lauren spoke about but here are a few crucial points to keep in mind: the agent wants to be intrigued, don’t tell the ending, don’t include smash-hits as a comp titles even if you think what you wrote is, of course, the next Harry Potter; and double check the triple checked spelling of the agent’s name!

Taylor Martindale Kean – Voice in MG and YA Fiction

Taylor Martindale Kean is with Full Circle Literacy agency and she gave a talk about voice in middle grade and young adult fiction.

What’s voice anyway? It is, in short, what’s gripping about a novel – a certainly intangible concept – and therefore one of the most sought-after achievements in the craft. Yet, no foolproof method for developing said voice exists. As it seems, it’s a matter of practice and, as Taylor put it, a combination of tone, style, and personality that is unique to the author. But there’s hope. At least there are a few approaches one might try and Taylor went ahead and gave her audience an idea where to start looking for one’s very own voice.

My main takeaway from her talk is to strive for a more tangible prose that fits the character’s origin. And of course, reader bonding by keeping the author intrusion at a minimum.

Natalie Lakosil – Tips and Tricks for Quick Revision

In her talk about how to revise a manuscript, Natalie (of Bradford Lit Agency) first pointed out how she likes to broaden the word revision to re-envision. A valid approach, since we often are stuck with the ideas we conceived first. It’s not easy to pinpoint the shortcomings of a manuscript (MS) if you are still deep within its grasp. So, unsurprisingly the first thing to do is to ignore the whole thing a for a while so you can come back with fresh eyes. I read that so often and still think it’s going to be very hard to do it.

What to do during this time, then? Natalie recommends extensive reading in the genre and researching characteristics the MS should meet. Think word count, for example. But looking up comp titles is vital, too. These help to discern what published books have or don’t have and compare it to your own work.

After the resting period, it’s time to revise at last. I can’t possibly list all the advice Natalie gave. The idea that stuck with me most was the Plot Dot Test – I am definitely going to try that one. Other than that I got some good info on improving the tangibility of the prose and working in motifs and symbols.

Natalie’s best advice, however, was to keep in mind your own idea of your story when you judge feedback by peers, beta readers, and even agents. It’s your story after all and impossible to make it perfect for everybody – so you might as well keep a firm grasp on your own idea and focus.

So. This is it–another webinar done and blogged about. I hope it was a good read and held at least a few new insights. Thanks again the SCBWI Wisconsin chapter for all the work in setting up the webinar.

 

 

 

Weekly #Tanka challenge

It’s time for this week’s installment of Colleen’s weekly poetry challenge. You can see last week’s Tanka here. The prompt words for this week are: myth and write.

I had started on a little something about death and sorrow and loss, but then I went on an early hike with my husband yesterday.  The lovely morning in the woods inspired the following triple Tanka instead. I’ve no idea if the concept of a triple Tanka even exists, but I found I was not done with the poem after one stanza, so I just added two more. Hope you enjoy it—and the picture my husband took, too. The picture was taken on the morning of January, 27th on our way to the ruins of Castle Wegelnburg, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany on the border to France.

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~Slopes, Immersed in White Mist~

Enchanted forest,
I savor your mystic air.
Dew. Haze. Lacy rays.
The morning inks ancient tales
Of new life on dappled ground.

My breath’s a wet cloud.
But sunlight’s fingers reach out,
Warming my cold face.
Empty trails and byways are
Glittering with silent mist.

The new day’s aura
Is ripe with sweet memories
Of forgotten days.
And I remember verses,
once lost—but now born anew.

 

 

Colleen’s weekly poetry challenge; a #Tanka

More poetry! It’s on my 2018 to-do list. Read more poetry, write more poetry. So here we go: I start with Colleen’s challenge.

I found Colleen’s blog last Tuesday and she’s hosting a weekly poetry challenge. To be precise, this week she’s hosting the 67th weekly Tanka Tuesday Poetry Challenge. Rules are easy: write a Tanka (or Haiku, or Haibun, or…) poem. Including synonyms of two given prompt words in the text.

The prompt words for this week are: play and guess – synonyms only. I used riddle for play and clue for guess. And here’s my (first) Tanka.

~Uplifted~

If love’s a riddle,
Don’t ever tell me the clue.
My captured heart soars,
Airborne with sweet elation,
And I escape into bliss.

That’s it. My first Tanka. What do you think?

Hope to join again next week for tanka-tuesday

First SCBWI Meeting of 2018

It had been too long, really! I missed out on the meetings of SCBWIAustriaGermany chapter for the last two times (NaNoWriMo and December-holiday-season did not allow me much time), Yesterday, finally, I was headed to Stuttgart to see my fellow writers and, as always, it was a great success.

We met at our usual spot in Stuttgart library, eight ladies in all, and discussed our work. There’s nothing as inspiring as talking to likeminded people about new ideas and see how far others have come, how well their work is progressing and getting feedback on your own project.

During the day I read a number of PB manuscripts that I’ve seen as mere ideas, read at various stages along the road, and that are nearly perfected now. I’ve read a promising idea of a dystopian story and can’t wait to see it grow into a full-fledged manuscript.

Special shout-out to one of our members for a promising honorary mention in SCBWI’s Undiscovered Voices Competition. Even if the manuscript did not make it to the finalist this time, I’m absolutely sure it’s bound to happen soon. Fingers crossed!

And to all SCBWI members here in the Austria/Germany chapter as well as all SCBWI folks around the globe: I am proud to be part of your open and friendly community, happy to give feedback and grateful to receive comments on my own work.

Until next month, ladies!