Friday, June 21, 2013

My Critique Group

My monthly critique group meeting was on Wednesday. Here we are at International Mall. Eileen and Joni have big news about their collaboration, and I can't wait until we can share it!

Nancy Stewart took this picture of me holding Yadkin Valley Living Magazine. They wrote a stellar review of my book, THE BALLAD OF JESSIE PEARL.

I'm deep in revisions on my second novel. Thank goodness I have the help of such a talented group!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Pinterest and Writing Prompts

(One of the images from my Pinterest board. My grandmother embroidered these horses on a pillowcase for my sister. When the pillowcase had worn out, Robin had them framed.)

I tried to resist Pinterest. The last thing I needed was one more social media site to contend with, but when I read that Kate Messner had created a Pinterest board for each of her books, I decided that was an idea worth copying.

I have set up a Pinterest Board for CAROLINA GIRLS, the novel I'm currently revising. Instead of being a time suck, I'm finding it helps me think visually about my novel. Pinterest is also a great place to conduct quick, fun visual research. You can check out my latest board here:

Have you tried Pinterest? Even if you're not a writer, there are wonderful recipes, decorating ideas, and beautiful photographs. It's definitely worth a look!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

What P.S. BE ELEVEN & An Obituary Taught Me About Voice

I recently finished reading P.S. BE ELEVEN by Rita Williams-Garcia. What makes this book unique is that it's infused with voice. Big Ma is one of the most memorable adult characters since Richard Peck's Grandma Dowdel. And I giggled every time Fern said, "surely did," or Delphine called her sisters Heckle and Jeckle.

While I was in the midst of reading this novel, my father-in-law, Walter Hitchcock died. Walt had asked me a couple of years ago to write his obituary, but it didn't go so well. In retrospect, I think he was afraid to give me feedback, (afraid he'd hurt my feelings), and I was uncomfortable writing an obit for a man who was still alive and whom I didn't want to lose. A little frustrated, I asked Walt to look through the local papers and send me examples of obits he liked. To which he replied, "I don't like any of them. None of them sounds like me."

In the end, Walt left some notes about what he'd like in his obituary and his wife and kids edited them after his death. He himself wrote some of my favorite parts. Like these lines:

By his own admission, and from what his sons and friends told him, his golf game left a lot to be desired. However, he enjoyed it and could boast of a hole-in-one at Lake Hickory, hole #6. Sometimes, he would say, "It is better to be lucky than to be good." 

These lines make me chuckle. They sound like Walt for a very good reason. He wrote them and his voice shines through. 

You can't fake voice. It's unique to each writer. For excellent examples read P.S. BE ELEVEN or my father-in-law's obit.  Both are infused with voice, and both make me smile.