Monday, August 31, 2009

Monday Musings - The Word Scythe

When I started my writing career the first story I wrote was about a fairy. It quickly grew into a MG novel. Of course, I sent it to my critique group and one of them who shall remain unnamed except for the moniker of “The Slasher” (he knows who he is) had a field day. He cut paragraphs. He crossed out sentences, but what he slashed the most were “useless words.”

Through his thorough and thoughtful critiques I learned NOT to use the word “that.” It ran freely through my pages. Needless to say, it no longer does. In fact, since then I’ve become more conscious of these “useless words.” They still sneak into my writing and I’m sure they are hidden in yours.

This month I’m busy revising my YA novel. On the hunt for “useless words” I’ve cut the count by 1,000, with one half of the novel yet to feel the word scythe.

Try it. It makes your work tighter and your story more engaging. Here are the words I’ve cut so far:

Almost, actually, about, that, suddenly, only and just.

Once I’ve finished my revision I’ll come back with more.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

It’s Rhyme Time Tuesday and today is the day we announce

The Fabulous Fractured Fairy Tales Rhyme TimeWinner

With so many clever rhymes to choose from it was a difficult decision. From Pinocchio, the surfboard, to Goldilocks hiding out in Rapunzel’s tower the rhymes were clever, humorous and a nice diversion from whatever other manuscripts we are working on at the moment.

I won’t keep you in suspense any longer. The winner of a signed ROCK STAR SANTA picture book and a free full service picture book critique from “First Peek Critique” is “The Date” by Kevin McNamee.

An interview with Kevin will be available on my blog sometime next week.

For the rest of you who entered I’d like you to walk away with something, too. So if you would like I’m offering a general overview critique for free, valued at $25.00, from First Peek Critique for a magazine poem.

You may contact me here.

Thank you for entering the contest. Check back for more coming up soon.


Monday, August 17, 2009

Monday Musings at The Storyteller’s Scroll




Our muses call to us in different ways. Some of us have a muse who sits on 

our shoulder and precisely and methodically whispers into our ear. Each 

word she dictates must be specific and convey the exact meaning intended.

Those of you, who write that tightly, produce a first draft as clean and 

meticulous as other writer’s final drafts. I have two critique partners 

who write this way. Their first drafts seem like they are ready to be 


I shall dub each of them “The Tortoise,” for like the fabled reptile they take 

copious amounts of time to ponder each word, paragraph, and page as 

they write them, polishing, rewording, and sometimes agonizing over 

the next scene they must write. It may take years to finish one piece. 

And that’s great if it’s really as perfect as it seems on the first read.

But when a suggestion is made for a change, the tortoise withdraws 

his/her head, yanks in his/her arms and legs and just sits for days on 

end wondering how or where they can slip in a nuance to flavor the

story as the suggestion dictates.

Sometimes their writing comes to a drastic halt because of that one 

implication that draws on the plot. When that happens, both of these 

writers seek new challenges, writing magazine articles or entering

writing contests, and the great novel they took so long to write 

sits hidden in their computer until the correction or suggestion 

can be dealt with. It could be months later.

But then there are writers like me. I must be “The Hare.” My muse doesn't 

sit quietly on my shoulder. She jumps on my head, pounding her ideas into 

my brain. Sometimes, she dances on my fingertips so fast that when I’m 

typing her ideas on the paper I even misspell words. But that’s okay. My 

goal is to knock out that scene or chapter, full of detail, dialogue, and 

circumstance before it grows stale in my thoughts and I can’t remember 

the specifics.

I know I have rounds and rounds of revision, but when I get to that 

stage there are built in loopholes or crannies, where I can shift the 

storyline and insert a sensory detail if it needs to be there.

But, I write everyday and I would guess that I complete my novel in 

half the time it takes my colleagues to complete theirs.

So, who wins the “writing” race?   Whoever signs the contract!



Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Poetry Contest


This Tuesday, August 11th, the Storyteller is sponsoring a poetry contest.

Write a rhyming poem of no more than 12 lines about two Fairy Tale characters that would never have met.


Seeing Red

I’m the fastest cookie to escape from a pan.

No one ever could catch The Gingerbread Man.

I ran through the village. I ran through the wood,

‘til I ran straight into a red velvet hood.

It lay on the ground all tattered and torn

as the sun winked its eye on a bright summer morn.

When out of the brook marched a girl, looking pale

and in her hand was a dripping wolf’s tail.

“Get away from my cape,” she said with a shout.

“Or I’ll eat you for breakfast. Of that, there’s no doubt.”

I turned and scampered the way I had come.

Too Late! All that’s left of me now is a crumb.

Enter as many times as you wish by posting your poem in the comment section.

The winner will be announced on Rhyme Time Tuesday, August 25th.

Prize – An autographed copy of Rock Star Santa, a rhyming seasonal picture book and a free rhyming picture book critique by “First Peek Critique Services.”

Good Luck!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Most of us, as we write our novels or articles, hit the keys on the keyboard with such speed so as not to lose our train of thought, that we rarely pay attention to spelling as we go. The voice in the back of our mind tells us to keep writing. We’ll catch any spelling errors later, when we run our piece through Spell-check.

Sound familiar? The unfortunate fact is that Spell-check doesn’t always catch our spelling errors. In fact it cannot differentiate between spellings of the same word. So you might need you’re and you wrote your, and Spell-check accepts it as correct, but it isn’t.

Some of us are aware of this idiosyncrasy so we read our work aloud when we have completed it. This practice catches some of the errors, but not all of them. Why? Because the brain fills in what the eye cannot see.

This is why we, as an industry, suggest fresh readers to critique a writer’s piece before sending it to a publisher or agent. If a reading volunteer can’t be found, you have a method readily available within yourself…your brain, your right brain to be exact!

Most of you reading this may ask. “What is the difference?” The answer is “plenty.”

The right brain is structured in a different way than the left. It accepts what it sees for face value and does not make any subconscious connections to insure meaning, as the left-brain does. The left-brain is logical and strives to make things make sense. The right brain is creative and recognizes individual words arranged in a way, which is considered nonsense by the left-brain.

So how does brain structure help you proof your writing for spelling errors? The secret is to read the piece backwards. This practice will make no sense to your left brain, so much so that it will literally stop trying to read the words, leaving the right brain to plug along and recognize each word as a separate entity. If a word is misspelled, the right brain will find it.

So there you have it. The secret method that will help writers with their spelling errors. Of course this practice should only be applied to short stories or articles. Reading an entire novel backwards might make you eligible for the psychotherapy ward, but that’s another problem.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Close up of the man, himself.......Rock Star Santa!
Santa's ready to rock!
Cool dude!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

When you write you experience the same magic as when you read. At least I do.

I have no idea what I'm going to find on the next page until I write it and then I'm amazed how well it connects with what I wrote on previous pages.

A hero's journey or a rhyming poem all lead me to a world of wonder, whether I read it or write it.

I guess I've summed it up in this little poem that I wrote a while ago.

I sat in my chair

and opened my book

reading every adventure

my book’s hero took.

One thing that I learned

as I sat in my chair

is by reading a book

I can go anywhere.

Gayle C. Krause

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Submissions - When does hopefulness turn to hopelessness?

Just last week I met with my critique group. Besides having a great session discussing our current WIPS, we also touched on how long it takes for each of us to get frustrated with waiting to hear about the status of our submitted work.

You polish and critique and review your manuscript. It's the very best it can be, just like all the publishing houses and agent websites tell you. You send it out following explicit directions and you wait....and you wait.....and you WAIT.

Several weeks go by, so your hopes are elevated. You tell yourself perhaps they are considering your manuscript. It hasn't been rejected. Maybe it's moved passed the first reader?

So you look forward to a positive response.

Weeks turn into months. Maybe it's moved on to the editorial director? That's what's taking so long.

Eight months go by. Your confidence starts to wane.

Perhaps it isn't on the acquisitions editor's desk, after all. Maybe it's on the bottom of the slush pile. Maybe they never got it. Maybe they just don't want it.

We all know editors and agents are busy, but some writers reach a point where they feel a form rejection through an email is better than no word at all.

Last week I received a rejection and a letter of apology for a picture book I had submitted two years ago. I totally forgot I had even submitted it.

Writer's need closure.

The question of the day is: When does hopefulness turn to hopelessness for you?

What are your thoughts?

Energized to Write for the New Year

 So happy to be attending the SCBWI National Conference this week. My peer critiques went well two nights ago, and energized me to see the p...