Category Archives: Before summer 2010

These are the posts where I detailed what I was doing to prepare for the summer of novel writing

That’s What She Said

Quotes by my favorite authors:

Natalie Goldberg:  (rough paraphrase, I can’t find the quote)

“Books provide us with mind to mind transmission.  When you read, you are inside the author’s head.  There’s no other way to do this.”

Natalie,  again, on “why schoolteachers stay away from the meat of writing.

To have us contact our raw minds  in class would have incited immediate chaos: hoards of teenagers bolting from their neat rows of wooden desks and dashing for the water fountains as though the roots of their hair were on fire.”

Francine Post from Reading Like A Writer:

“Because one important thing that can be learned by reading slowly is the seemingly obvious but oddly underappreciated fact that language is the medium we use in much the same way a composer uses notes, the way a painter uses paint.  I realize it may seem obvious, but it’s surprising how easily we lose sight of the fact that words are the raw material out of which literaturare is crafted.”

Here’s an old adage I’m not sure can be attributed to anyone:

“You want to write?  Then WRITE!”


Time, the ever elusive

I can never get enough of it.  I despise the phrase, “killing time.”  I don’t know how people can be “bored.”

Some of us work too long and hard for the “man,”  some of us spend too much time with electronics (TV, computer, video games), some of us sleep too much.

How is our time really best spent?

Whoa, I didn’t mean this post to get so philosophical so fast.  For the five years I lived without a TV, a question I was constantly asked was, “How do you have time to do so many different things?” Which I always thought was funny because my role models were doing so much more and at such better quality than I was.

Now that I have three kids, four dogs, six chickens, a cat, a house and a husband, I can’t imagine how much time I used to have.  I tease my childless friends about sucking the marrow out of every single lazy Saturday morning that a toddler doesn’t wake you up at 5:30 AM with some crazy question like, “Can I paint?”  (Actual question from actual three year old.)

Part of this blog and the “great summer goal” is to force myself to use my 60 days of summer to the best advantage possible towards  my own personal intention.

So, let’s get down. Today was the last day of school for kids.  The blog is underway, I’ve been able to get one done each evening with some prewrite the evening before.  Thursday is my last day of work.

Friday: Day with Jackie in Hilo- Write two hours (at least)at Kope Kope (coffee shop with minimal distractions) and get a critique on chapter one.

Sat/Sun: break, family time.

Mon-Friday: 12-4 Write in my van.  No excuses.  Go.

Blog every night to keep you all up to date.


Hey, anyone else want to set a writing goal?

Writer’s Group: Essential

Ok, there is no way I would have written two novels and published a book on teaching Reading, if I hadn’t met Jackie, Darlene and Lora.

We have been writing, critiquing, drinking, and eating together for ten years.  These are the ladies who grinned through 17 drafts of  “Pure Intention, the story of a summer,”  laughed through my dead animal shorts and met extra times to revise, edit and push me through the publication work on my book.  They are my best friends.  They know more about me than my husband and my mother put together (very scary, I know!).

We are all teachers and we started out at the same school.  By now, we have expanded by location and job description, but we still manage to get together often to write,  talk and critique.  Lora is moving away this summer to California to seek her fortune and we will miss her stellar editing skills, brilliant intellect (I’m not just saying that.  She had a perfect SAT score) and sunny smile.

This summer, Jackie and I will refine our novels together and Darlene will pop in when she can to add her poetic touches.

Believe you me, if you want to write, making commitments and having like minded friends who expect it of you can make all the difference.

Hey, you all are kind of like a writing group for me.

Send me your work and I’ll give you a critique…and a big sweet cup of coffee!

How about this?  Send me something you’ve written for me to critique.  You can even choose the “guiding questions” and I’ll also send you a wee little sample of Ka’u coffee  (If you’re in the know, then you know that Ka’u coffee recently took the top three coffees in the world contest.) Just for fun, why not?  Do you have the writeintention?

Are you worried? Don’t worry!

I haven’t mentioned working on my novel since the first post where I set out my insane goals.  I know.  But don’t worry.  Summer officially starts next Friday.  Then I will be released from my normal job and will start logging my four hours a day (with no internet access- thank god!)

Today, my mother reminded me to take care of my house and children.  Gotta love that.. My kids force me to take care of them and the house..well, I’ll try.

Today I want to talk about the novelist whose books I love to read.  I can pick up one of her books, open to any page and feel myself being sucked into the dialogue, plot and characters.  She is Elizabeth Berg.  She has written 21 novels, 1 book of short stories and 1 book about writing.

Check her out!

Books Will Aid the Writer

Darling Natalie Goldberg

In preparation for the 60 days of writing, I checked out a shelf from the local library.  I borrowed 20 books on how to write- choosing books based on how current the information is (2005 to present) and how useful it looked.

On this blog, I will review each one with an eye towards how useful they turned out to be and my recommendations on how to use them.

I’m also collecting books with sentences, characters, themes and plots that I love.  I’ll blog about them here as well.

If you have suggestions of books that you love, please send me the title and details about why you love them.

For this the first book review blog, I need to give my props to Ms. Natalie Goldberg.  Her’s were the first books on writing that I ever bought, way back during my days working at Border’s (1993- Philadelphia, 1994-1997 Waikele, Hawaii).

Her classic Writing Down the Bones explains her “writing as practice” method in which you write for a predetermined time period on a topic.  This process will free your mind and enable you to write things you never “thought.”  If you haven’t read it, my god, what are  you doing?

One of my favorite writing teachers, Tom Peek, teaches this method.  He says its like opening the tap at the bottom of your “brain barrel.”  First a lot of sludge drains out and then your pen brings out the sweet stuff floating at the top.

After that, I read the sequel Wild Mind, which is similar to Writing Down the Bones.  Both are short essays on writing, Zen Buddhism and life in general.

My second favorite of Natalie’s books is Thunder and Lightning, Cracking Open the Writer’s Craft. I have this one on tape and I listened to it about three times straight through and love to just pop in a tape and listen to it randomly.  She has a great Brooklyn accent that is so fun to listen to.  She talks about her students, her writing path, her mentors, publishing and her early books.

She also wrote Long Quiet Highway (about her Zen life) and Banana Rose (a novel).

She also has a bunch of other books I haven’t read yet:  Living Color, Top of My Lungs, The Essential Writer’s Notebook, The Great Failure and Old Friend from Far Away.  I used to have this great Border’s Tshirt that said, “So many books, so little time, Drink Coffee!”  And that is my only excuse for not reading every single one of Natalie’s books.  What am I doing?

Did I mention? Natalie also does workshops which sound awesome (one of my dreams is to attend one..or several!)  Many of them take place at the historic Mabel Dodge Luhan house in Taos, NM.

And one more thing: The National Novel Writing Month (see the links in Writing Tools) morphs Natalie’s timed writing method to help people write 50,000 word novels.  This is how I got my first rough draft.  What a great way to spend November!

The Plan: Sixty Days

Summer “vacation” is quickly approaching.  The last day for teachers at my school is Thursday, May 27th.  I’m not required to return to my teaching job until Tuesday, July 27th.  That gives me eight weeks and four days.

In those scant days, I will be expected to help my husband take care of our three children, keep the house to some modicum of safe cleanliness, do some grocery shopping, gardening, clutter reduction and make a few meals. Omg, I’m a mother.

The rest of the time (at minimum, four hours a day/six days a week) will be spent writing, editing, revising and submitting for publication.


1.  Revise current novel (currently called It Would Be So Easy) until it can’t be revised any more and query a few great agents.

2.  Write this blog everyday outside of the four hours of writing time in order to force myself to maintain my focus on these goals and to share the exquisite websites, blogs, books and articles that I find and use constantly while “learning” to write.

3.  Submit articles, stories and poems that I have revised/edited previously for publication in magazines, ezines, books, literary mags, etc.

4.  Actually make money by writing.

What supports are already in place?

1.  My writer’s group, The Sundae Writers, has been meeting for ten years.  We are a small, supportive, focused critique group and some of us meet weekly!

2.  My husband actually convinced me to do this and supports me completely.

3.  My mother didn’t discourage me.

4.  My kids expect it.

5.  I live in the only state in the USA that grows coffee.

6.  My mobile writing studio: the back seat of my minivan, laptop plugged into the cigarette lighter, thermos of coffee, with a view of the volcano!

Supports to be added:

1.  You will send me encouragement, anecdotes,  questions, blogs/websites and your love.

2. Jumpstart: Yes, it is only May 19th.  That gives  me a jumpstart on the goal.  By 5/27, the blog will be in place, more revision/editing will be done and the plan will have solidified.