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May - 2016: Upcoming, I'll be participating in Desert Sleuth's Donald Maass Workshop. I'm afraid it sold out months ago, but if you have questions, contact me.

Apr - 2016: A 2nd Kami Short will release in the Malice Domestic anthology in Bethesda MD. I'll also be moderating a panel with authors Karen Pullen, Sue Cox, and Gretchen Archer. Don't miss the fun! I'll have special edition signed copies of the 1st Kami Short from the SinC - Desert Sleuth anthology to hand out for free.

Apr - 2016: An adult short story, Big Horn Mountain Carnivores, was selected as the adult category winner in the Tempe Community Writing Contest loosely associated with Arizona State University! The e- & print release where I read a portion of the story was the greatest fun. Thank you everyone who came by! Free download here (scroll to bottom): 

Aug - 2015: Politics of Chaos was released at an event attended by the awesome NYTimes best-selling author Sara Paretsky! Also, a flash fiction entitled, "Lightning" was 3rd runner up in the national 2015 Writers Police Academy's contest.

July - 2015: NYC FBI headquarters. Many thrilling authors were there, the presentations were fantastic, and the experience was a solid 15 on a 10 point scale. Thank you to the International Thriller Writers for inviting me. Thank you to the men and women of the FBI.

MAY - 2015: The Poisoned Pen submitted Chaos Theory for the 2015 Edgar's young adult novel award. Please note that submission is NOT a nomination. Still, it is an exciting development.

MAR - 2015:Tucson Festival of Books booksigning! Great time by all.

FEB - 2015: CHAOS THEORY, released by The Poisoned Pencil, an imprint of The Poisoned Pen Press - one of the nation's largest publishers of hard-back mysteries.

MAR - 2013: Meg was honored to receive a year long mentorship from author Jan Blazanin through the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators - Iowa. Ms. Blazanin praised Meg's multiple characters' distinct and age appropriate voices.

Her writing blog is located at megevonne.blogspot.com contains reviews and writing craft tools.

Friday, June 25, 2010

To Premise or Not to Premise--that is the Question

In response to concern that beginning your work with a premise statements is flawed and that they are no more than elevator statements. The position is that it is the story that counts. What follows is my reply.

On the other hand, we can't deny that trends are the meat of the industry for every published and unpublished author. Also my best writing has stemmed from premise statements. They help you condense your character's heart-line and keep you focused. They can assure that the marketable storyline on track. Premises can be more than a hook. Example: the decision to write a sibling piece marketable to boys and girls. Ages that are aimed where you think the market is hot. A storyline that grows from a hot sub genre.

A DNA structure is key to decide if your idea has the legs to make it into print. I will never go back to seat of my pants writing. I invest too much of my life, my time, and my effort into a story, and I want to know it has a chance of going all the way. Does that make sense?

The premise is your bone structure. If the right bone structure isn't there to begin with initially, it's almost impossible to go back and insert it later.

That's my two cents worth at least. Best writing all.

Friday, June 18, 2010

God's Gift to Authors--their Voice

My comment in a forum after a colleague said that she had to guard against her style changing in a WiP. "With all your writing experience, you still feel your style varies? That sucks. I hoped that tendency faded w time."

The thing is, ultimately the writer is seeking a style and theme that represents what is in the writer's soul, which is the writer's voice. Once you find the style and theme that best expresses that voice, I don't see it changing or being swayed to match others. In other words, once you've found your unique writer's voice, which is made up from style, theme, techniques, writer craft tools, it may age like a fine wine, but won't change that much. Maybe a more audible image rather than fine wine in needed. Think of your writing as the quest for the perfect bell that will resonate in the reader's mind. Most, perhaps for the vast majority, that bell is slightly off key and the work fails to reach its full potential. Thus the quest is to find that perfect pitch in our writer's voice that is at last--right. I am perfectly willing to listen to other viewpoints on this, but inside it rings true for me.

Brett Anthony Johnston from Harvard says that in a life time an author may have only one true theme or voice. (Like God only gives you one voice or maybe more correct would be to say S/He gives you lots, but its up to you to find the absolutely right perfect voice from those S/He gave you.) Brett bases that on well discussed writing advice that stems from F Scott Fitzgerald, ie that a writer has one underlying voice that s/he is compelled to tell--the writer may change the presentation, but ultimately there is only one.

So in my opinion, an author's voice and its style, which with a mature author, I see as steady and reliable and once found it won't desert or be swayed. It will be true to the author and the gift God gave to that individual.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Building Great Sentences

I am so pleased that the course I ordered with Brooks Landon as professor came with a booklet. Thus armed, I will not drown in this technical writing craft class. I admit that I'm a junkie of the writer's craft with no intention of returning to the land of sanity.

The titles are enough to get my juices flowing:Grammar and Rhetoric, Propositions and Meaning, Rhythm of Cumulative Syntax, Riddle of Prose Rhythm, Cumulative Syntax to create Suspense, Mechanics of Delay, Balanced Sentences and Balanced Forms, Rhythm of Twos, Rhythm of Threes, Balanced Series and Serial Balances.

Ah yes, those of you with your MFAs, your English BAs are cringing at the memory, but I am reveling in the excitement! How I value what you despaired. This is what age can do for the determination of the writer!

Laugh all you want at my giddiness. The great puzzle of the Great Sentence will be mine to unravel shortly!

Okay, that is now. I'm not a complete idiot in rose colored glasses. I'll read this in two weeks and will be posting how much I hate it. It matters not, the goal is to learn, to apply, to dissect, to advance my craft and I will. One way or another. Hopefully it will involve blood, sweat, and tears or it will have not been worth the effort.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Expanding the Writer's Craft Toolbox...

I am ever working to improve my craft skills. Classes have proven, other than actually writing, at doing so. I thought I would share what I've got on tap for the summer.

I'm signed up to attend two one-week courses from the Univ of IA Summer Writer's Festival. http://www.continuetolearn.uiowa.edu/iswfest/html/instructor/moranville.html and also http://www.continuetolearn.uiowa.edu/iswfest/html/instructor/Loren.html Both should be excellent revision tool classes. I'm looking forward to my first full week workshops. I've attended for weekends, but never the whole week dedicated to writing! The workshops are filled with writers from all over the world and the value of knowledge gained vs cost has never been a concern. I'm so psyched.

My huge what-the-heck have I done was sign up for a DVD/audio class from a University of Iowa professor now retired. http://www.teach12.com/ttcx/coursedesclong2.aspx?cid=2368 The class is called Building Great Sentences:Exploring the Writer's Craft. It's one of those classes you either love because you know it improves your writing or it will make you feel you never should have tried writing at all.

I may have jumped too far into the deep end. I'm hoping my college linguistics class I took is up to the challenge. (It was so lovely and terrifying to be 50+ in with 20 somethings taking that class in person one summer.) With this class, I'll either swim and learn, or I'll be gasping for air the whole time. I'm hoping that the class comes with handouts! If not, I'll sink! The lecture notes were provided for the first class--printing it out was crucial. Let's say that mastering the long sentence is this instructors forte.

The instructor also wrote a key sci fi genre review from 1900's to now that is used in a lot of writing/lit classes. It's from teach12.com

How about you? Are you forging forward with Aiden and his sisters? Plans for class coming up?

A recap is below of the general description.

Building Great Sentences: Exploring the Writer's Craft
www.teach12.com
Whether two words ("Jesus wept.") or 1,287 words (a sentence in William Faulkner's Absalom! Absalom!), sentences have the power to captivate, entertain, motivate, educate, and, most importantly, delight.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Value of Premise Statements

The following is from a discussion with a fellow poster concerning the market value of a manuscript. How do you decide if this manuscript deserves the time you plan on putting into it.

If you're concerned that you might be wasting time on it (and I interpreted that statement as - is this marketable, publishable, etc.) then I need a premise statement. It is the story you string upon the world and the dilemma you've created that helps me determine that.

Take a look at the Bourne Identity books/movies. They are about political corruption, but the heart line is about Bourne's need to discover the truth about himself, or protecting someone he loves, or revenging the death of his love. In the process the political is solved as well, but the STORY is in what and how Bourne grows and changes.

In other words, if you are moving toward publication goals, then I would need to see a premise statement, which is no more than two sentences (preferably one] that tells the human element, heart line, or emotional story within your neat world and your conflict. This sentence will be usually be your main character's journey.

Do not share premise statements on line. Those are too easily taken, especially if it's a great premise! The stories could be worlds different, but it WAS your intellectual property drawn down to one or two sentences. Thus the caution.

I've included 12 premise statements that authors and agent Michael Bourret successfully used to sell these books over the past 12 months. What better example than premise samples that worked? These were posted on Publisher's Marketplace, which is a great source for determining trends in publishing and agent research prior to querying. (You've heard about research, right? Don't waste an agent's valuable time if you don't write what they sell!)

From Publisher's Marketplace:
Children's:
Young Adult Nova Ren Suma's IMAGINARY GIRLS, a tale reminiscent of Shirley Jackson's supernatural family dramas, it is the story of two sisters, their strong bond, and the dead body that threatens to break it, to Julie Strauss-Gabel at Dutton Children's, at auction, for publication in Summer 2011, by Michael Bourret at Dystel & Goderich Literary Management (NA).
mbourret@dystel.com
Posted: July 13, 2009 at 4:00 p.m. Eastern

Non-fiction:
Science Marcus Wohlsen's BIOPUNK, chronicling a rising geek underground that wants to do for DNA what the Internet did for information, exploring both the potential for innovation and for destruction, to Courtney Young at Portfolio, for publication in 2011, by Michael Bourret at Dystel & Goderich Literary Management (World). I love this premise and it's science! Not sci fi!
Posted: July 16, 2009 at 8:30 p.m. Eastern

Children's:
Young Adult Heather Brewer's THE SLAYER JOURNALS, a five-book spinoff from the Chronicles of Vladimir Tod series, centering on the character of the slayer that accidentally befriends vampire Vlad before learning of his true nature, to Maureen Sullivan at Dutton Children's, for publication in September 2011, by Michael Bourret at Dystel & Goderich Literary Management (NA).
Posted: August 7, 2009 at 3:06 p.m. Eastern

Children's:
Young Adult Dori Jones Yang's DAUGHTER OF XANADU, about a spirited young Mongolian princess who must decide between her growing attraction towards a young foreigner, Marco Polo, and proving to the Khan, and to herself, that she can be a bold warrior, to Michelle Poploff at Delacorte, by Michael Bourret at Dystel & Goderich Literary Management (NA).
Posted: August 18, 2009 at 5:03 p.m. Eastern

Non-fiction:
Narrative Author of Blue Clay People and Whispering in the Giant's Ear William Powers's TWELVE BY TWELVE: A One-Room Cabin Off the Grid and Beyond the American Dream, a twenty-first century WALDEN and meditation on globalization about the author's experience in an eco-community after returning from a decade as an aid worker in Africa and South America, to Jason Gardner at New World Library, by Michael Bourret at Dystel & Goderich Literary Management (World).
Posted: September 9, 2009 at 9:49 p.m. Eastern

Children's:
Young Adult Debut author Aaron Hartzler's RAPTURE PRACTICE, a humorous, poignant YA memoir about growing up in a fundamentalist Christian home while questioning one's faith and sexuality, reminding readers that sometimes life is stranger than fiction, and often in hindsight, just as entertaining, to Jennifer Hunt at Little, Brown Children's, for publication Spring 2011, by Michael Bourret of Dystel & Goderich Literary Management (world English).
Posted: September 28, 2009 at 11:23 a.m. Eastern

Film rights Suzanne Selfors's SAVING JULIET, to Disney with Peter Chelsom attached and the Gotham Group producing, by Michael Bourret at Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. Power of a timely name. Julie and Julia, Letters to Juliet.. can it be that simple and trivial? yep Fun to grt the scoop on a film that won't come out for a couple years! Publisher's market place is fun!
Posted: October 20, 2009 at 3:13 p.m. Eastern

Non-fiction:
Cooking Brad Thomas Parsons' BITTERS, the history and mystery of how this concentrated alcoholic infusion of aromatic plant roots, bark, herbs, spices, and fruit was first used as a tonic to remedy ills, but has since gone on to be an essential element in quality cocktails, along with more than 100 recipes for homemade bitters and classic and contemporary cocktails using them, to Aaron Wehner at Ten Speed Press, for publication in Fall 2011, by Michael Bourret at Dystel & Goderich Literary Management (World).
Posted: November 10, 2009 at 9:10 a.m. Eastern

Children's:
Young Adult Joelle Anthony's THE RIGHT AND THE REAL, following a seventeen-year-old whose father throws her out of the house when she refuses to join the cult he's gotten involved with, forcing her to survive on her own; but when Dad finds himself in danger, she comes to the rescue armed with her newly acquired street smarts, again to Stacey Barney at Putnam Children's, by Michael Bourret at Dystel & Goderich Literary Management (world).
Posted: December 4, 2009 at 3:35 p.m. Eastern

Children's:
Young Adult NYT bestselling author of Wake and Fade Lisa McMann's DEAD TO YOU, about a teenage boy who was abducted nine years ago and is now returning to his family, and THE UNWANTEDS, about kids who are exiled from their homeland when they display signs of creativity to a hidden world where they are trained to use their abilities and hone their magical skills, to Simon Pulse and Aladdin, in a four-book deal, by Michael Bourret of Dystel & Goderich Literary Management.
Posted: December 11, 2009 at 4:49 p.m. Eastern

Children's:
Young Adult Erin Downing's ECLIPSED, about a girl who has always happily existed in the outer orbit of high school cliques, but is suddenly thrust to the center of the social universe after a mysterious occurrence during a Lunar Eclipse changes everything and flips life-as-she-knew-it onto a bizarre new axis, to Ari Lewin at Disney-Hyperion, in a two-book deal, for publication in spring 2012, by Michael Bourret at Dystel & Goderich Literary Management (NA).
Posted: March 4, 2010 at 5:06 p.m. Eastern

Children's:
Young Adult The Dust of 100 Dogs author A.S. King's EVERYBODY SEES THE ANTS, about a teenage boy who, as he struggles to cope with a relentless bully, mysteriously communicates with his long-lost POW grandfather still missing in action in Vietnam, to Andrea Spooner at Little, Brown Children's, for publication in Fall 2011, by Michael Bourret at Dystel & Goderich Literary Management (World English).

Thursday, June 3, 2010

It gives me heart... 20-Under-40-Willing-to-Give-Them-Unpublished-Story

The NY Times announced they were creating a list (assume definitive) of 20-Under-40-Willing-to-Give-Them-Unpublished-Story. It gave me pause. Do not misunderstand, I am delighted to celebrate young writers and encourage it. Yet, I felt that chill of unease. Am I too old to begin this wild adventure ride? Will these wonderful, talented young writers prove that the experience of age isn't a defining quality of great writing?

The list is out and posted below. My heart is singing again. It is primarily comprised of thirty-somethings. Living life, experiencing life, gaining insight from life is still relevant! At my age, I have even more to offer.

My prayers and best hopes for your wonderful prospects and your future careers. Never forget to live life with the freshness of eye you possess today.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, 32
Chris Adrian, 39
Daniel Alarcón, 33
David Bezmozgis, 37
Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, 38
Joshua Ferris, 35
Jonathan Safran Foer, 33
Nell Freudenberger, 35
Rivka Galchen, 34
Nicole Krauss, 35
Yiyun Li, 37
Dinaw Mengestu, 31
Philipp Meyer, 36
C.E. Morgan, 33
Téa Obreht, 24
ZZ Packer, 37
Karen Russell, 28
Salvatore Scibona, 35
Gary Shteyngart, 37
Wells Tower, 37