Tuesday, March 26, 2019

“Black & White” Thinking*

*No, this doesn’t refer to race, but to “all or nothing”

Children, some say, are basically black & white thinkers. A character or an action is either all good or all bad. This perception remains with some their whole lives, but most grow out of it to see others in shades of gray.

Developmental psychologists have written that the subtle and more nuanced understanding of history, story, and of other people— beings somewhere between the ages of ten and sixteen. Family guidance and environment, as well as individual temperament, make a difference as to whether this happens sooner or trickles in later.

Many storytellers do not realize the immense power they have to help this process along. The fairytales of yore have done nothing to help subtle understanding. But modern writing can.

As a decidedly gray thinker who sees humanity’s failures and triumphs as mixed bags, I am committed to showing this complexity even in the shortest of picture book texts. I don’t go so far as to assign no value to anything, but I will show that wicked is often closer to weak, and good is not to be confused with godly.

How do you like your characters? I love mine enough to let them be gray-ish.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019


Reminder to self: Goals that depend on others are not goals, but wishes.

Up to me:
*Write regularly
*Meet creative output goals
*Do not shortchange non-writerly cares
*Meet obligations to critique partners
*Meet professional communication goals
*Be kind and responsible to all souls in my sphere, human and feline
*Vacuum occasionally, mop often J

Not up to me:
*Get pat-on-back for writing
*Get pat-on-back for output
*Get appreciation for my cooking etc.                    
*Have critics like my output
*Get prompt responses
*Have kindnesses come back to me, human or feline
*Get a good housekeeping award 

Tuesday, March 12, 2019


Having *just* gone onto Daylight Savings Time, (after our country's ever decreasing sojourns on standard time) those who’ve read my posts of yore know that makes me cranky.

In November 2018 the citizens of the great state of California voted to stay on Daylight Savings Time permanently. The state that champions change doesn’t enjoy it as much as you’d think. I know I don’t.

Proposition 7 passed by sixty percent of the voters. But no matter, because the Federal Uniform Time Act prevents this from happening. Yup. We can stay on standard time year round, but not on Daylight Savings. So while I personally do not care which one we stay on, (staying is the operative word for me) seems we can’t stay on DST.

Kvetch, kvetch. There are worse things than twice a year adjustments. Get over it.

But then, how would I get to experience the ground shifting discomfort that my fictional characters endure? And what would I have to complain about on a beautiful California morning?

In the words of my grandmother, (and maybe yours) “You have to have clouds. Because if every day was sunshine, how would you know how good it is?”

Adjusting over here.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

The Road to TITLE

Still ruminating on my post from two weeks back---

Because I just re-worked a R &R (writerly code for “revise & resubmit” request) which began with a suggestion for a change of title.

When querying agents or working with editors, some have asked if I was open to changing the title.
Goodness me. I am more than open. I welcome your suggestions.

Because, for me, the title is a working title and no more. It serves to remind me of the theme as I draft. Once done, it has performed its job.

A story’s title is its initial offering. It’s the bowstring center of a wrapped box. The title is not the wrapping paper, (that’s the cover design and the flap jacket text) or the present (the work) itself.

A good title is evocative without giving away the story. A great title is pithy and atmospheric at once. A working title is rarely that.

I know I am rather prosaic in my working title choices. This may explain why my first agent changed just about all my working titles. I still have the word documents of my offering alternative titles to these old submissions, and some are pages long.

The final title is the traditional publishing house's prerogative. Their job is to publish (i.e. make public) and to market. This is why in most cases writers have neither control nor the option to refuse a title change the publisher makes.

I’m not married to my working titles. Goodness, I couldn’t be if I wanted to. As titles can’t be copyrighted, it’s unhealthy to be wedded to them. No marriage license for us, Writer and Title.

So a revision request that includes a change of title is an automatic “absolutely yes” from me.