Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year's

I wish each of you a safe and happy New Year's and hope that 2010 is everything you want it to be. I'd love to hear about your writing goals for the coming year. Please share in comments.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Quote of the day

"Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don't try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It's the one and only thing you have to offer." 
-- Barbara Kingsolver

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Quote of the day

"There's one thing your writing must have to be any good at all. It must have you. Your soul, your self, your heart, your guts, your voice -- you must be on that page. In the end, you can't make the magic happen for your reader. You can only allow the miracle of 'being one with' to take place. So dare to be yourself. Dare to reveal yourself. Be honest, be open, be true...If you are, everything else will fall into place."
-- Elizabeth Ayres

Monday, December 28, 2009

Quote of the day

"Writing from the heart requires vision, and vision is beyond skill. Vision writers write what they want to write. This means they write about things that have moved them deeply. Such writing is not something that you can learn. For vision is a gift. But if you open your heart wide, the gift will be great."
--Cyn-Young Ahn

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Have a blessed Christmas

I saw this video and just had to share it with my blog readers. I wish each of you a blessed Christmas filled with all the magic you deserve. Peace and love, Buffy 

Quote of the day

"In the end, it's not going to matter how many breaths you took, but how many moments took your breath away."
- shing xiong

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Quote of the day

"When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, "I used everything you gave me."
--Erma Bombeck

Monday, December 21, 2009

Good old Hemingway

"The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shockproof shit detector. This is the writer's radar and all great writers have had it."
--Ernest Hemingway, interview in Paris Review, Spring 1958

Do you have a favorite Hemingway book? If so, share in comments and tell us why it is your fav.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

For my friend, Joe Fitzgerald

I said goodbye to one of the most awesome people in my life yesterday – my friend Joe Fitzgerald. There was no way I was going to let a snowstorm keep me from his funeral service. And so my husband, two sons and I made it to the church along with a handful of other people, mostly family. There might have been 20 of us total.

It was an awesome service. Tears trickled down my cheeks when we started to sing Here I Am, Lord. I absolutely adore this song, and my husband knows that when I die I want this hymn to be sung at the service. We also sang Let There Be Peace on Earth, which is totally a Joe song. He always signed his letters and cards: Peace and love, Joe.

After the service, we went to a buffet luncheon that his niece had arranged at a nearby hotel. It turned out that only nine of us could make it to the luncheon and there was enough food to feed 900. So I totally loved what Joe’s niece, Barb, did. She invited a group of contractors who were stranded and hungry to join us. She also invited the waitress’ family, who were waiting outside in the cold for her to get off work, to join us. So it turned out that we shared this delicious luncheon with a bunch of people we didn’t know. And I kept thinking how crazy it was and how good it was and how happy it made me to know that it was what Joe would have done. He was the most generous person I have ever known.

And so, in honor of Joe’s life, I share this hymn with you. Peace and love, Buffy

Quote of the day

"I would hurl words into this darkness and wait for an echo, and if an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight, to create a sense of hunger for life that gnaws in us all."

--Richard Wright, American Hunger, 1977

Friday, December 18, 2009

Still time to enter YA contest

There's still time to enter Delacorte Press Contest for a First Young Adult Novel. Deadline is Dec. 31. Go here for details:

There was no winner this year in the Delacorte Yearling Contest for a First Middle-Grade Novel. According to this post they have decided to discontinue this contest. Bah-humbug!
Good luck to everyone who enters the YA contest. I hope that 2010 is a great year for everyone. If you know of a contest, please let others know by using the comments function. Happy Friday and I hope your weekend is filled with fun.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Best children's books of 2009

Here is the list from Publishers Weekly.
How does PW's list jive with yours?

I wonder...

Virginia Woolf said: As for my next book, I am going to hold myself from writing it till I have it impending in me: grown heavy in my mind like a ripe pear; pendant, gravid, asking to be cut or it will fall.

I wonder...Are you like Virginia? Do you let your stories simmer in your mind or do you start writing and figure it out along the way? Perhaps you do both depending on the story. I'd be interested to know what works for you and why. Please share.  

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Beginnings and endings

I love beginnings and endings, especially when it comes to food. I could live on appetizers and desserts. So I’m planning a dinner party and I totally knew what the appetizers and desserts would be. But I was stumped on the middle. I ended up taking the easy way out and ordering party trays from Olive Garden (Chicken Marsala and Chicken Parmesan). But this got me thinking about writing. How for me the beginnings are easy and the endings are easy but the middles can be difficult. The ability to keep the middle moving via plot points etc. without allowing it to get weighed down is a challenge.
How about sharing a beginning and an ending of one of your stories? If you don’t have an ending yet, share the beginning. Let’s limit it to NO MORE than 100 words. Together, we can provide a feast of beginnings and endings for all to enjoy. Ask yourself if the beginning and ending make you want to read more. I’ll start.

From the Brain Invaders
The man shook violently. His eyes rolled in their sockets and his body went limp and thudded to the floor. His tongue hung out of his mouth. It looked like it was growing.
I rubbed my eyes. His tongue was growing. It was getting longer and longer. No; not his tongue. It was something else. Some kind of creature. Oh gross! It slithered out of his mouth. It looked like a snake, but different. Maybe an eel.

I was the last one out the door. Before I turned off the lights and closed the door, I glanced back over the room one last time. I can’t be sure, it may have been just a shadow, but I could have sworn I saw something black slither across the floor and into a vent.
Just as I turned around to face the others we heard a motorcycle revving loudly in the distance. And then it was gone.

Now your turn. Can't wait to read all of your beginnings and endings.

Some good writing advice

"When you are describing,
A shape, or sound, or tint;
Don't state the matter plainly,
But put it in a hint;
And learn to look at all things,
With a sort of mental squint."
--Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (Lewis Carroll)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Quote of the day

"Read, every day, something no one else is reading. Think, every day, something no one else is thinking. Do, every day, something no one else would be silly enough to do. It is bad for the mind to be always part of unanimity."
Christopher Morley (1890 - 1957)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Goodbye Joe Fitzgerald

My heart aches tonight. A dear friend died this afternoon. I rushed to the hospital to say my last good-bye, but I was too late. I missed his last breath by minutes.
Joe Fitzgerald is gone.
And yet he’s not. He lives on in our hearts and minds, and the memories we have soothe our souls.
When I came home from the hospital and told my sons, 20 and 16, about Joe, we all shared Joe stories. Zach and Micah recalled him showing up one Halloween with treats in hand wearing a scary mask. The boys, little at the time, ran to me screaming. Joe had terrified them but made it all better with plastic pumpkins full of sweet treats.
I remember arriving at the funeral home to plan my brother-in-law’s funeral (his wife, my sister, died less than two months later) and being told that an anonymous person had paid the entire bill. It took all but a second to know it was Joe.
This is a man who went to my son’s preschool programs because unlike all of the other kids who had grandparents who could attend, mine had none. So Joe gladly became the grandparent they didn’t have.
Joe was never married, didn’t have any children and yet he had a family bigger than most.
I could go on and on about Joe, but mostly I want to say how blessed I am that he was a part of my family’s life. Pushing 80, he was ready even if the rest of us weren’t. It’s never easy saying goodbye to someone you love. But I’m trying.
And to sign this as Joe always signed everything: Peace and love

A post about Joe:
A post that will soothe your soul:

Quote of the day

"If there's a book you really want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it."
--Toni Morrison

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Quotes from Napoleon Hill

"What the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve."

"Before success comes in any man's life he is sure to meet with much temporary defeat and, perhaps, some failures. When defeat overtakes a man, the easiest and most logical thing to do is to quit. That is exactly what the majority of men do."

"No man is ever whipped, until he quits -- in his own mind."

"Persistence is to the character of man as carbon is to steel."

"The majority of men meet with failure because of their lack of persistence in creating new plans to take the place of those which fail."

"Victory is always possible for the person who refuses to stop fighting."

"What we do not see, what most of us never suspect of existing, is the silent but irresistible power which comes to the rescue of those who fight on in the face of discouragement."

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Share your favorite holiday movie

Here's mine:

It’s a Wonderful Life”

Director: Frank Capra
Released: 1946
Length: 130 minutes
Cast: James Stewart (George Bailey), Donna Reed (Mary Hatch Bailey), Lionel Barrymore (Mr. Potter), Thomas Mitchell (Uncle William “Billy” Bailey), Henry Travers (Clarence Oddbody), Beulah Bondi (Ma Bailey), Frank Faylen (taxi driver Ernie Bishop), Ward Bond (Officer Bert), Gloria Grahame (Violet Bick), H.B. Warner (druggist Mr. Gower), Frank Albertson (Sam Wainwright), Todd Karns (Harry Bailey), Samuel S. Hinds (Pa Peter Bailey)
Why it’s my favorite holiday movie: Every year at Christmas,  my husband, sons and I watch this holiday favorite together. It always brings tears to  my eyes. Have you ever thought about what life would be like if you had never been born? This is what businessman George Bailey gets to experience through the help of an angel named Clarence, who after 200 years has yet to earn his wings. George, who considers himself a failure and is contemplating suicide so his family can benefit from a life insurance policy, gets to see what the town he lives in, Bedford Falls, would have been like without him. What George learns is that each one of us makes a difference. He learns that it’s not what we have but how we live our lives each day that counts, and that we often are unaware of the impact our actions have on others.
There are so many great lines in the movie, but  my favorite is when Clarence tells George, “Remember, no man is a failure who has friends.” George learns that friends and family make us wealthy beyond our wildest expectations. And that’s what I want  my children to understand. That it’s not materialistic things that make us rich, but the love that comes from family and friends — something that can’t be bought in a store and wrapped in shiny red paper. Just as George discovers, it’s family and friends who embrace us and help us cope with life’s cruelest and darkest moments. And it’s family and friends who rejoice with us as we celebrate God’s incredible blessings. It truly is a wonderful life!

Now your turn. Share in comments. 

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Perfect Christmas Tree

I wrote this column a couple years ago and thought some of my blog readers would enjoy it.
The perfect Christmas tree. Is there such a thing?
I think so, and I think it’s mine. I think this every year. Some years our tree has been fat and full. Other years it’s been tall and skinny. But always it’s been perfect.
You see, what makes our Christmas tree perfect isn’t its size or shape or smell. It’s not how the needles feel or whether the trunk is straight. What makes it perfect are the ornaments that dangle from its branches.
 My sons have made a good many of them. There’s the construction paper angel  my 13-year-old made in second grade. And the picture ornament  my 17-year-old crafted in preschool. Each year when we hang  my sons’ homemade ornaments,  my heart flutters and I am reminded of all that is good in this world. Time passes much too quickly, and the ornaments are treasures from yesteryears when the most pressing problem was a skinned knee.
Along with these homemade ornaments are those  my mother bought me. Each year I’d find a new one in  my stocking. One year it was Miss Piggy. Another year, Kermit. I looked forward to Christmas morning, eager to see what she had bought. When I hang these decorations, I nearly drown in memories. I want to hug  my mother, tell her how much I love her and need her. But I can’t because she isn’t here. She died many years ago, but not before giving me some special ornaments.
They aren’t ornaments you’d find in a store or some exclusive catalog. She made them with her loving hands, one by one as her death drew near. Cancer made her weak and took away many of the things she enjoyed. But that deadly disease could not destroy her spirit or will to leave part of her behind.
And so she cross-stitched.
Hour after hour.
Day after day.
Month after month.
Until she could no more.
She’d sit in the corner chair with needle and thread creating tiny tapestries of love. Some for each of her five daughters and all of her grandchildren.
I remember thinking at the time how important cross-stitching seemed to her. I think it was her way of giving us something we could hold onto and cherish long after she was gone. Something to share with our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
And so, when I walk through the department stores and see all the “perfect” trees in coordinating colors and trendy themes, I smile. Don’t get me wrong. They’re beautiful. But not as beautiful as mine.
I don’t care that  my Christmas tree is adorned with a mishmash of ornaments. I don’t care that some of them are chipped and that others are cracked or scratched.
What matters most is the love that has gone into each ornament that hangs on  my tree. Riches that warm  my heart and feed  my soul.
Thank you Zach and Micah and  mom for making our family Christmas tree perfect every year.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

YA writing contests, Penguin Group (USA) and CreateSpace will hold the third annual Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest. There will be two grand prizes: one for general fiction and one for young adult fiction.  The 2010 competition will also now be open to novels that have previously been self-published. Each winner will receive a publishing contract with Penguin, which includes a $15,000 advance. Here's post for details.

Also, there's still time to enter Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers Delacorte Press Contest
for a First Young Adult Novel. Manuscripts must be postmarked no later than Dec. 31, 2009. Here are the details:

Good luck to all who enter.

Some sad news

Editor and Publisher and Kirkus Reviews closing. Check link:

Dialogue that made you laugh

How about sharing a snippet of dialogue from something you wrote that made you laugh out loud as you were writing it. I'll start:

From Freaky Frank

“Oh, Nate. Didn’t know that was you. Sounded like a girl.”
“Are you saying I sound like a girl, you punk?”
“Yeah. A little itsy-bitsy, teeny-tiny frilly lace girl.”
“Why you Nerd Turd you. I’ll get you good.”
“Something wrong here, Mr. Fratello and Mr. Payne?” Mr. Bugg asked as he approached us in the hall.
Mr. Bugg is as tall as the Empire State building and, with his shiny bald head and bushy caterpillar eyebrows, he looks like an alien. He stood right in front of me and my face was inches from his boogie-smeared smiley face tie. Oh gross!
Nasty Nate looked at me. “Nothing’s wrong, Mr. Bugg, sir. I was just telling Frank what a great job he did in English class reading the part of Romeo.”
“And I was just telling Nate that he should have volunteered to read the part of Juliet because his voice is so high it sounds like a girl’s and he would have done a great job.”

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Rappaport Agency closes

Saw that the The Rappaport Agency is closing at the end of the year. See the post on Jenny's blog today. I wish her success in all of her endeavors.

Al Pacino's Inspirational Speech

Watch this even if you're not into football. It's about life, about having a dream and pursuing it with everything you have. Never give up.

Highlights 2010 Fiction Contest

You can enter the Highlights 2010 Fiction Contest starting Jan. 1. Three prizes of $1,000 or tuition for the Highlights Foundation Writers Workshop at Chautauqua. Looking for fiction based on a true story from your family. All entries must be postmarked between Jan. 1 and Jan. 31, 2010.
Check link for details.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Filling a Christmas stocking for readers

One of the best things about Christmas morning is opening the gifts inside my stocking. I always save it for last. As I child, I could count on my mom filling it with some standard stash. There was always a book of Lifesavers and clear toy pops in red and green and yellow (I liked the lamb-shaped ones the best). I could count on a Pez dispenser and a beautiful Hallmark Keepsake ornament. I came to expect these tiny treasures and if ever a year went by and they weren’t there, I would be terribly disappointed. But I also loved the surprises, those things my mom found that added a special something. One year, it was a pink Lindy Star Ring tucked in the toe. Another year it was a Minnie Mouse watch (Her arms were the watch hands). Strange how some memories come rushing back like the tide and drown you in sweetness.

So what does a stocking have to do with writing? Hang with me here. There are certain things that our readers expect from us (like the clear toy pops) but it’s the surprises we tuck within the pages that make our book extra special. My hope is that when readers finish my book, it will be like they finished opening their stocking. They might have found some things they had expected and would have missed had they not been there, but they will have also found plenty of surprises that will hopefully make the book a memorable one (I can still see Minnie's red dress with white polka dots, big yellow hands and the pink leather watch band with the big snaps.) 

So when you write a book, think of it as filling a stocking. What would you put in the stocking for your readers to discover and enjoy? Please share.

Stocking stuffers list:

1. Memorable characters

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Good news to share

I was excited to learn that I placed in the top five in the one-page summary contest conducted by the fabulous editor of the Buried in the Slush Pile blog for my "Brain Invaders" entry (a middle grade mystery/thriller). The contest was fun and it gave me hope that this manuscript will one day be in the hands of a middle-grader and/or reluctant reader. Now I just need to find an agent who believes in my work as much as I do. Anyhow, congratulations to all of the winners and to everyone who entered. Click here for details.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

12 writing gifts for 12 days of Christmas

Let’s come up with 12 writing gifts for the 12 days of Christmas. I’ll start, you add in posts.

Day 1: The gift of voice in your writing.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Some of my Moments that Matter posts

Some of my favorite columns. I hope you enjoy.

Snippet of dialogue

“When girls dress like sluts, do you know what I think?”
“You probably like it,” Annie said.
“Actually, no. I think girls who wear really tight clothes are desperate and insecure. They complain about guys looking at their butts and boobs but what else are we supposed to do when they’re advertising their stash.”
“You’re sick.”
“No, I’m just telling you like it is. Here’s the thing, Annie. Guys don’t like their girlfriends to wear clothing so tight it looks like they’re wrapped in Saran Wrap. And we, or maybe it’s just me, think that girls are much prettier without all that makeup. Why do they put all that crap on their face anyway?”

Have a snippet of dialogue from a WIP to share? Please do in comments.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

New agent joins Bent Agency

Jenny Bent announced on her blog today that Susan Hawk has joined the agency. She represents young adult and middle grade fiction. For more details, check
Good luck Jenny and Susan. I hope all of your publishing endeavors are successful. 

What are your three wishes?

Suppose you ran into a literary genie and she granted you three writing-related wishes, what would they be? You cannot choose getting published. Sorry, I needed to make it somewhat difficult. But you can choose things like tenacity to pursue your writing dreams or the strength to handle rejections or a manuscript free of spelling and grammatical errors. So what would your wishes be? Anyone?