Sunday, June 27, 2010

Geoneutrino Girl

Hurrah for geoneutrinos! The Earth holds such unexpected wonders, like antimatter particles buried deep within the interior. What's even more amazing is the fact that we scruffy bipedal humans discovered their existence, for as Clara Moskowitz notes, "These particles are incredibly difficult to find, because they pass through almost everything without interacting in any way."

Doesn't Geoneutrino sound like a super heroine's alias? Geoneutrino Girl! Right . . . I think I'll let someone else write that story! But you can check out Clara's article below.

Moskowitz, Clara. Weird Antimatter Particles Disovered. Retrieved June 6, 2010 from:

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Progress Report Nonillion (1+30 zeroes)

Today, after much procrastination, I hit the 30,000 word mark on a draft I'm working on. Yay, right? I know many of the words are so-so and will need to be revised or outright annihilated, not to mention I'm missing at least 30,000 additional words. But I've made it halfway. Now I have to finish it, or the protagonist will never forgive me, not after the royal mess I got him into! And as anyone with Scribbler's Syndrome can attest, you don't want the character voices sharing your brain to hold grudges against you.

"Halfway" is such a charged word. It's like a coin rolling on the edge, a fifty-fifty chance of tails or heads, win or lose. But sooner or later the coin is going to fall, so you know you have to take the chance.

I'm a Facebook fan of the amazing writer Paulo Coelho, which means I get these nifty updates. Today's nugget of wisdom is "The visible is always a mirror of the invisible. The reality is imagined before it manifests itself / Lo visible es siempre un espejo de lo invisible. La realidad es imaginada antes de revelarse."

Thelonius, we're halfway to manifestation! Or a manuscript, anyway. Splendid.

Work Cited:

Coelho, Paulo. Retrieved June 23, 2010 from:

Monday, June 14, 2010

So you want to query, do you?

What? Did you think I was going to tell you how to write a fabulous query letter? I'd rather slay a Jabberwocky. But you could always check out Writing World.

Seriously, check it out.

My marvelous agent Natalie Lakosil's template for a good query letter:

She also included a link on Query Tips:

Or you could ask author/former literary agent Nathan Bransford about the "anatomy of a good query letter."

I'll be posting additional links as I find query letter examples that I believe are helpful.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Atoms, Pearls & Indra

Fellow Scribblers, I want you to surrender your quill for a moment and ask yourself in all honesty, "why do I write?" Why do I drudge and toil with no period in sight for my sentence? Or better yet, "why can't I STOP?"

Humanity is such a strange species. We are knit together with more than flesh and blood. The syllables of myths, legends, prayers and hopes are rooted deep in our psyche. Muriel Rukeyser said, “The universe is made up of stories, not atoms,” and I believe her. Perhaps "In the beginning was the Word..." reveals a new facet of complexity (John 1:1).

My dearest friend in the Milky Way (or any other galaxy, for that matter) died a few years back. I was deleting junk from an old email account when I found a message from this person with a simple admonishment: "Take care and follow your dreams. They are the best part of you." But what makes the blasted dream so precious, worth wagering everything we are against the weight of "the Nothing"?*(read The Neverending Story)

To answer that I must take you to Antelope Island, a wind-swept strip of land in the middle of Utah's Great Salt Lake. As any self-respecting island has a gift shop, I visited it and purchased a book entitled, Earth Prayers from around the World: 365 Prayers, Poems, and Invocations Honoring the Earth edited by Elizabeth Roberts and Elias Amidon. On page 170 there is a description of the Heaven of Indra. It speaks of a "network" of pearls stranded together in such a way that by gazing at a single orb, one may catch the entire web of pearls in the reflection. The gems are inseparably interlaced both in reflection and in reality.

To quit writing and dreaming would be like trying to sever the pearl strands or splitting the chain of our own atoms. The interconnections are already there--we just need to keep beading them, word by word.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Query Review and Submission Timing

It's time! Your manuscript is all spiffy and spellchecked and you feel confident about submitting your literary magnum opus into the agent/editor arena. Below, I've outlined some of the helpful tips I've picked up regarding when and how to submit query letters.

1. Test your query on a guinea pig before submitting. Not the fluffy animal! I mean a scruffy human. Now, while it's helpful to have a creative confidante who knows the basic premise behind your novel so they can judge if the query is pitch-perfect (pun intended), it's more important to net an outsider. The outsider knows little next to nothing about your story. The outsider's viewpoint is especially important because they might notice elements in your query that are clear to you, because you're the writer/creator/muse, but potentially confusing to an audience that has no prior knowledge of your masterpiece.

2. NEVER submit a query the week after you've finished your manuscript. Just don't do it. If a fabulous agent likes your query and you send them a manuscript in dire need of further polish and development, you just lost your submission bid. Not that I'm speaking from personal experience or anything . . . Instead, give the brain cells a break for a good solid month, go back to your manuscript and revise it again, and then (maybe) let's start talking queries.

3. Submit your queries in groups of no more than five. Wait at least a month between submissions. I can't remember where I heard this, but I have found it to be excellent advice. If you submit your initial query to fifteen agents all at once and later make significant revisions to the query letter, too bad, you already blew your chance with all those wonderful agents/editors. Epic tragedy!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Empty Pot

I once heard a proverb from the Tao Te Ching that went something like this: "We shape clay into a pot, but it is the emptiness inside that holds whatever we want."

I have come to believe it is much the same for story writing. The fundamental elements of the story form only the shell--the plot, the setting, the characters, etc. The drive behind all these elements must come, for lack of a better word, from "elsewhere." From the inside emptiness where we shut up and listen to what the story is doing and saying and naturally trying to become. I know from my own personal experience that a story should NEVER be forced into being or it becomes something it is not. The narrative thread frays into an exercise in syllabic futility.

So treasure the emptiness. Don't give into the demons of frustration and hit the delete key when the story doesn't flow in a stream of scintillating sentences. Rather, relish the pause. Wait for it. Let the emptiness inside you evolve.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

"Gem-Tactics" and the Art of Revision

In 1861, Emily Dickinson wrote a poem with no name, only the numeric title 320. In it, she speaks of the gradual metamorphosis of sand into a gem such as the pearl. I have long believed her poem mirrors the journey of the writer through the revision process.

Poem 320

We play at Paste—

Till qualified, for Pearl—
Then, drop the Paste—
And deem ourself a fool—

The Shapes—though—were similar—
And our new Hands
Learned Gem-Tactics—
Practicing Sands—

Work Cited:
Dickinson, Emily (1961). Poem 320. The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson. Ed. Thomas H. Johnson. New York: Little, Brown and Company.