Wednesday, February 29, 2012

So You Thought It Was Over?

Hahaha! Think again. What am I talking about? Edits, edits, edits. We wrote the rough draft of our stories. Perhaps we made an outline to guide us along the way. Or else we let the story grow according to the characters’ wants and goals. Then we typed those two beautiful words: THE END. Unless we’re able to get it just right the first time (how awesome that would be) we know, of course, that it’s far from over.

Next comes the second draft and we go through the manuscript again: Edits number one. Each author does this differently, but our goals are the same. We may discover that we have to cut scenes because although we love a particular scene it doesn’t add anything to the story. Many times we use too many words of narration or dialogue when fewer are the best. Sometimes a character isn’t necessary and we need to cut him/her out, even though we really like the character. Save him for another story. We might need to move scenes around so they fit in better. If we cut a scene completely, save it because it might be exactly right for another work.

We look for places where we’ve repeated ourselves. I’m terrible about this, and they have to be deleted as well, unless the words are absolutely necessary. Or we might need to fill in missing background when our scene talks about a subject that we haven’t mentioned before and the characters are supposed to already know it. A critique group is great at catching details like this. I read my manuscripts so many times usually that I know I’ve said something, but was it in another draft or in the one I’m working on?

If we find that we need additional research to check our facts about the depth of water around the lighthouse (in my forthcoming paranormal tween story) or the information found on an adoption certificate (like I needed to know for my young adult novel out in March) this is the time to get those facts straight. Readers are smart. They’ll catch mistakes, not only in historical novels but in contemporary, fantasy, and all other types of books as well.

In the second draft, we’ve straightened out the characters and the plot (hopefully, though not always) and we’re on to the polishing phase. Yes, these are the things our English teachers taught us. There’s so much still to look at in this draft. I won’t list them all here because you as writers already know them. Sherry Garland’s book Writing for Young Adults has some great advice about revisions. You Can Write Children’s Books by Tracy Dills is another good one.

After draft number two we go back for the third, fourth, or even more revisions. Finally, we’re finished. YAY! We send the manuscript off. Lovely agent or publisher buys it. All we have to do now is sit back and wait for the book to come out. Right? Well, not exactly.

More edits await us. The editor goes over our manuscript. Every little period, comma, word, character, and scene has to be just right. And no matter how many times we’ve read and made changes in the manuscript, something has escaped us, at least it does me. Thank heavens for editors and their patience.

Do not despair, however, we listen to the editor, we make the changes if we agree with him/her and we look to the future when our book will be out and all those pesky mistakes are history. The weeks, months, years of slaving over the story have a happy ending when we can hold our book in our sticky little hands, or when I can download the eBook copy to read on my eReader. At last, it's over.

YA Contemporary

Available in Mid-March

Now available for pre-order at the publisher, 4 RV Publishing

No, we're not talking about the promotion today. :)

Happy writing and editing.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Adapted to Film

I am sitting here, watching On the Red Carpet, waiting for the big night. I LOVE movies, and I love watching to see what the gowns look like. I love that Billy Crystal is hosting -- no offense to Anne Hathaway and James Franco, both of whom I adore. But Billy, who started his career on stage in front of an audience, just has it down. Actors who aren't used to being able to ad-lib and work a crowd just don't have the skill set.

Anyway, every year I dream of a movie made from one of my books winning an Oscar. It'll never happen, but I can dream. And I always think about all of the movies in the 'Adapted Screenplays' category. Have you noticed that in recent years, more movies than not are adapted screenplays? This year we have, what, at least three up for the Big Prize? War Horse, Hugo, The Help, Tinker-Tailor-Soldier-Spy, plus My Week With Marilyn and others up for awards too.

It seems to me that Hollywood has a distinct lack of original screenplays, and I wonder why that is. Maybe because book writers have all the really great ideas, and it's easier to take those and put them on the silver screen. And again, no offense to screenwriters, because I know it's not easy to write a screenplay -- I had to write a short one for a class once. It was actually kind of fun, but formatting it is a total nightmare. But still, it's like reality TV-- it seems like no one whose business is actually writing for the screen actually has a clue anymore. Kind of why I watch a lot of British TV.

And the poor authors, who had the original idea, unless they are part of the script-writing team for the movie, pretty much get overlooked at awards time, even though without them there would be NO adapted screenplay or leading actress role or costumes or special effects to give awards TO. No one really thanks the authors of the books, and if they do, it's a footnote.

So even if one of my books ever managed to make it to film, and even if it did happen to win an award, I will never be the one on that stage accepting that little golden man. Unless by some chance I happen to get a part in a major motion picture. Yeah right.

But I still love movies, and I love movies made from my favorite books. Well, not all of them--that tragedy that was THE GOLDEN COMPASS comes to mind, as does the Percy Jackson movie. Shame, because both had the potential to be awesome.

I am crossing my fingers that The Hunger Games movie lives up to my expectations. Just a few more weeks...squee!

Friday, February 24, 2012

So Busy

I have been swamped. Busier than a one-armed paper hanger, as they say. Only, in my case, it's a one-handed paper hanger. I had wrist and hand surgery a few weeks ago. That sure put a damper on my usual routine. Not only couldn't I drive, but I couldn't type! I spent long hours plunked down in the recliner, on pain meds, watching Netflix. Thank you, Netflix! You probably saved my sanity.

I am getting better, able to use the hand more and more. I can drive again! Yippee!! That means my morning latte is back on schedule. I can go to the second-hand stores again. You know, the important stuff.

I have also said adios to the last kiddo, who moved into his new home. So, that means empty rooms. I am determined to fill them up. I now have my OWN office!! And it's a beautiful color. And I can have all of my "inspiration" on the shelves around me. Hopefully, that means a renewed burst of creativity. Hopefully.

I also have a new craft room. It's large and has cabinets and everything. It's not organized yet. Remember, I am working with one hand here. But I'm getting things put away. Now, to just use it to create. I don't know what yet, but something. LOL

I have had to cut back on the picture taking I was doing. I can't really hold the camera well, and I'm afraid of dropping it. So, I've been recycling photos on my Live Journal.

So, lots of new things going on. Time is running fast these days. Or maybe I'm just still on slow. But I am confident that things will work out, that creativity will once again flow, and that I'll be productive both in the office and the craft room.

And speaking of hanging paper - I really need to strip off this wall-paper and get things repainted. I'm just waiting for the other hand to be usable.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Just Do It

I made a poncho last week. It's right out of the early 1970s. I don't know exactly what I'm going to do with it now that it's made, but the poncho is made.

Why is this at all significant? The kit for this poncho has been around since the early 1970s. That's when my mother paid $9 for a girl scout poncho kit with pattern and wool yarn. Recently she was cleaning out her attic in anticipation of moving and gave me all of her yarn. This kit was included.

I wasn't sure what to do about it. I didn't particularly want a 1970s poncho. But I had the pattern and all the yarn. It is so rare to have everything I need for a project right at my finger tips, that I decided to just go ahead with the project. So now I have a poncho.

And what does this have to do with writing? How about this - it's never too late to recycle that idea or finish that story you started. Go for it. Who knows what you will end up with if you see it through to the end? Maybe nothing worth keeping, but maybe it will be a diamond in the rough that will really turn out to be something great. But if you just let the idea sit in the drawer you end up with nothing at all.

I know this is relevant because many years ago I started a story and revised and changed and revisited that story many times over. The final result of not letting it just sit in a drawer and fester is REALITY ALI which will be available in May. But even better, out of some of the other ideas that kicked around for all those years, I now have a contract for a series of four books, with REALITY ALI being book 1.

So, make that poncho. Write that story. You never know where it might lead!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Research: It's a tough job but someone's got to do it

Right now I've been working on a proposal for a sequel to my upcoming YA fantasy NO GODDESSES ALLOWED.  I always thought this would be a cute, fun YA series.  And it looks like my publisher does too!  Yay!

A little about my main character Jordan: she's fifteen and loves vintage clothing, Audrey Hepburn, and romance!

Jordan will have another run-in with a Goddess of Love and I wanted to have a different setting for the second book that reflects the feel of this series.

So what perfect place for Jordan to visit but the city of romance:


Now I haven't been to Paris...yet, that is but my niece Shaundra has been there.  She's going to share some of her experiences which I thought will be perfect for Jordan.

I also was able to get a galley of a memoir from Sourcebooks:

This is a memoir of a woman who lives in Paris and ends up having a love affair with not only the city but the food.  I decided to Google the recommended places and sweets.

Macarons from Pierre Herme.

Le cookie au chocolat made with Valrhona chocolate and toasted pecans from Eric Kayser

Madeleines from Fabrice:

Almond croissant from Boulangerie Julien

Oh, and Jordan has to go to Angelina for chocolat chaud

Now I just need to find my own local French bakery and sample some of the sweets for myself.  Like I mentioned before, research is a tough job but someone's got to do it!

I  think Audrey Hepburn would approve, don't you?

Friday, February 17, 2012

Feast For The Eyes!


Totally brain damaged this week with two cons back to back, so figured I'd do something different. Didn't get to use all the photos and art I've run across on my regular blog, so rather than let them go to waste, I figured I'd share them here instead! Enjoy!

Diving Dogs: Underwater Dog Photography Reveals New Animal Perspectives by Eric Pfieffer.

The Turning World: Spectacular Time Lapse by Rob Waugh.

New York in the 50's - Photography by Frank Oscar Larson. You have to love the marquee! Hee!

From NASA - Large X-class Flare Erupts On The Sun.

The Cassini probe has a photographer's eye, I think. :) Cassini - Unlocking Saturn's Secrets from NASA.

Hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Dreams of Adaptation

The odds of my little book Saving Jake ever being turned into a movie are probably the same as my odds of winning the next multi-million Power Ball Lottery. Still, that doesn't stop a writer from dreaming, does it? Every time I see a young male actor with dark hair, brown eyes, and a particular quality of charisma or pathos (depending on the role he is doing), I think, What a perfect Jake! Then I'm off and away, imagining what my story would look like on the big screen. I have even watched it many times in my head, picturing how each scene could be brought to life.

On the other hand, I have seen adaptations of some of my favorite books, and have been appalled/shocked/ stunned at what they've done to my personal mind movie. For those of us who are big fans of someone called Jack Reacher, I'm sure I speak for many of us that we are shocked/stunned/possibly appalled that Tom Cruise has decided to cast himself in the part. Jack Reacher, for those who do not read Lee Child, is approximately 6'5" and somewhere in the neighborhood of 250 lbs.

And then there's the situation where casting isn't a problem because the screen writers have taken a completely different route. I read a lot of mystery novels, and was thrown for a loop when someone adapted the book Relic (the first Pendergast novel by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child) and managed to leave Pendergast out of the movie entirely, even though he solves the crime in the book. Go figure.

So sometimes when I think about my little story being adapted, I also think maybe it's for the best that it remains an obscure little tale. It could possibly be twisted into something I don't recognize, if someone took a crack at it. Maybe remaining an unknown is not always a bad thing.

But I can't help dreaming. That's why when I imagine Saving Jake on the big screen, I also imagine that I either have complete control over adaptation and casting, or the movie is being done by Peter Jackson with a soundtrack by Hans Zimmer. Now, that would work!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Prepare to enter an alternate reality …

PFC Liberty Stryker is here.

Available in Kindle edition

Unlike anything you've ever experienced …

Libby Stryker joined the Army to avenge her daddy's death on 9-11 but it's nothing like she expected. Operation Iraqi Freedom takes her on a harrowing journey north with a mysterious Arab through bomb devastation, hot zones, and RPG attacks. A different kind of horror awaits Libby in Baghdad. Her past and present, and why it's all gone wrong, blow up in her face. Prepare to enter an alternate reality.

Review copies are now available in Kindle edition and PDF. Interested in a book review exchange? I will read and review your book if you read and review my book. Do you review young adult books for a blog or website? Please consider reviewing PFC Liberty Stryker. Email me, let's talk:

Peggy Tibbetts

Now available at Amazon
PFC Liberty Stryker
Letters to Juniper

Become a Facebook fan

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Re-reading and learning

I'm a re-reader of books I've loved. Recently I have been reading and visiting old friends written by Andre Norton. I came across an essay she wrote in 1971. The essay was called "Writing Fantasy." Most of what was in the article I knew but she spoke of "Sword and Sorcery" fantasy, especially her story "Year of the Unicorn." For me this was a book that changed my ideas of writing fantasies. This is what struck me back then and still today. Andre Norton notes that while she had written books with female characters who interested her she had never written a book from the female point of view. While reading many of her earlir books I realized what she spoke was true. She also mentioned that the response to the book was mixed. What about your writing? I know here not all of us write fantasy. Some write more contemporary stories. Are your books told with the male point of view or the female point of view? For me, I've tried to find a balance. When I began the Jewels of Earda Series, the male characters were not the true main characters but neither were the females totally in control of the story, though they controlled the jewels. They were learning to work together. This kind of partnership has continued in The Henge Betrayed series.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Latest marketing news at Advice from a Caterpillar

As you may – or may not know – I also have my own blog titled Advice from a Caterpillar where I post book reviews and interviews as well as contests, markets, and other industry news.

Here is just some of the latest news you may have missed – and an industry news nugget just for YAAYNO readers.

Sky Pony Press accepts unsolicited manuscripts and proposals via email

Nelligan Prize open to all writers

New agent open to MG and YA queries

Algonquin accepting MG and YA queries

Industry News Nugget

Technology company Demibooks has partnered with publisher Kane Miller to form a new children's book imprint called InkPad Press. InkPad Press will publish a wide range of children's content across all media, specializing in print and interactive book apps. Click here to sign up for submission info coming soon!

Peggy Tibbetts

Coming soon -- PFC Liberty Stryker

Letters to Juniper now available in ebook & paperback at

Become a Facebook fan

Friday, February 3, 2012

Injuries and other Infirmities

As you can see from the picture, my body has let me down again. This is the second broken bone in four years. Last time it was my right ankle. This time my right wrist. The cause in both cases - icy sidewalks.

I survived my childhood without breaking any bones, despite falling out of trees, off tire swings and rope trapezes. There were the not-unexpected cuts, bruises, sprains and splinters removed from the soles of bare feet (not even gravel roads could force us to wear shoes during the summer months).

When you're young, you think you're invulnerable. No matter how many times I fell out of the apple tree in the backyard (one time, to my mother's horror, onto the driveway), I was always back up in the branches. My tree-climbing days, however, soon ended once I started wearing glasses. I guess once I could actually see the distance to the ground (turns out I'm near-sighted), fear of heights finally kicked in.

I also caught most of the childhood ailments of my generation: chicken pox, measles, German measles (twice, I think), mumps, and lots of colds.

One guaranteed way to keep a sick or injured child put is to let her read. Sometimes the reading material will take her mind off the injury or illness, but sometimes misery loves company and finding a book where the character survives or just copes with the problem helps.

I remember measles was in Five Little Peppers and How They Grew by Margaret Sidney. Louisa May Alcott's Little Women had scarlet fever as a threat (before werewolves). And there were various sprains and such in Eight Cousins and Rose in Bloom. I don't recall why Heidi's friend was in a wheelchair, but it was something cured by mountain air.

A search through my local library's catalog brings up several books about chicken pox as well as books with characters in the midst of itching and trying not to scratch. The only one I find about measles is Five Little Peppers for fiction. I'm hoping that means more parents are opting for vaccines nowadays.

Fantasies will sometimes use plague as a major fear. But what about the childhood diseases considered "normal"? On the YA side of fantasy, there are Tamora Pierce's Magic Circle series and Healer Hall stories by both Mercedes Lackey and Anne McCaffrey, so any young reader could choose to focus on the healing side.

When I was young, I read my older sisters' Cherry Ames books, which were about a young nurse trying different areas (Camp Nurse, Army Nurse, etc.). Then I moved into my father's collection of science fiction and found James White's Hospital Station series, with a space hospital and all sorts of aliens as doctors and patients - and all sorts of diseases and injuries. Murray Leinster had a traveling space doctor, as did Alan E. Nourse (Star Surgeon) and later Jody Lynn Nye with her Taylor's Ark stories.

Serious injuries will still turn up in series. Harry Potter was laid up briefly with a broken (and then deboned arm). But often the action in current books take place over a week or month rather than the months needed for recovery. Short stories are good sources then, such as "The Smallest Dragonboy" by Anne McCaffrey, when a concussion and a broken leg almost costs a boy a chance at Impressing a dragon (fortunately the dragon hatchling staggers off in search of him).

The depiction of disabilities in science fiction and fantasy is always an interesting panel at science fiction conventions. The first book I remember reading with a disabled character was Anne McCaffrey's The Ship Who Sang, which then developed into a series about brainships. Lois McMasters Bujold's stories about Miles Vorkosigan is another good series. But there needs to be more. And not just about how the character escapes his chair as in the recent film Avatar. Why shouldn't a child in a wheelchair find a positive reflection in what she or he reads?

Children with glasses were proud of their eyewear with the release of Harry Potter. Those with dyslexia had a role model in Percy Jackson. What books have you found?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Do Writers Need A Brand?

I want you, dear Reader, to welcome a new guest to my blog. Fani Nicheva is in one of my writing groups and posted this article which I found insightful and wanted to share with you all. As you know, I have branded myself as the Yellow Hat Writer — hence the yellow hat in all of my author pictures. I have even attended writing conferences and been recognized because of my yellow hats. So I know branding works.
To brand or not to brand? That is the question.
If you are a writer, branding might seem to you like the most disturbing proposition.
After all, you are not a box of cereal residing on a shelf, fighting for consumer’s loyalty and attention.
Some time ago, when I was working in an ad agency, my creative director said to me “Products live on shelves; brands live in people’s minds.”
And this is where branding starts to get interesting for writers.
Brands live in people’s minds because they are nothing less than good stories.
Dear writers, it is time to for you to acknowledge that of all business professionals out there you possess the most rare and dangerous of talents – writing good stories.
Now, to go back to the “branding yourself” question – this is where branding starts to get challenging.
Yes, writers can design good brands (or write good stories) for other businesses, but can they do the same for themselves?
And most of all, do they need to?
The answer is it depends. It depends on how aware of yourself or rich and famous you want to be as a writer.
It is important to note here that branding can bring you more awareness of yourself without being rich and famous, but it won’t make you rich and famous without the awareness.
Personal branding has become quite the buzz word lately. Personal brands are similar to product brands in a sense that they undergo a process of simplification and systematization (which is why many authors abhor the “B” word as the antithesis to everything complex and meaningful).
However, personal brands differ from product brands on one fundamental level – spiritual alignment. Many large corporations suffer misalignment with their product brands for a variety of reasons – failed promises, poor management and customer service.
Solopreuners, on the other hand, have to be able to live the credo of their personal brands. You, as a writer, are not a product. But you can offer products. In fact, you get to define your products consciously, and carry out their messages with conviction and elegance on an everyday-basis.
Three years ago, the Financial Times published a study which showed that only 9% of professionals have a job in line with their personalities.
Personal branding will help you align your talents with your services.
Apart from elevating you to a place of high awareness, branding can work other wonders for you as well. It can make you more money. But remember, the order in which it works for personal brands is: awareness first, money next.
The reason why I stress personal awareness so much is because it will help you carry out the following commitments:
1/ Financial commitment:
In order for your brand to truly graduate to adulthood you will need to treat yourself as a business operation. If you as a writer are content to live from a project to project and take whatever job comes your way, then branding shouldn’t concern you as much. Many freelancers set up shop literally for free, in order to be flexible and “bail out” easily if needed. On the other hand, brands invest time and money into their operation and expect serious return on that investment. They also develop systems of marketing, bookkeeping, sales tracking, strategic planning and graphic design.
2/ Focus commitment:
If you want to be perceived as “THE ONE” in a certain area of writing style or expertise, then by all means, start thinking about a brand. That means one specific expertise, one audience. Do you want to be known as the ghost writing specialist, the “underdog” writer, the “high-brow intellectual” writer, the fresh opinion writer, the journalist? Yes, I am talking about a niche.
Because the modern marketplace is such a crowded room where nobody can hear each other, the simpler and focused you are, the easier for clients and audiences to find you and trust you.
Authors with a particular focus of work are Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, Dan Brown, Elizabeth Gilbert, Jodi Picoult, Malcolm Gladwell, Joan Didion, Seth Godin just to name a few.
These commitments could be very trying and stringent for creative people like writers indeed. Some of you simply won’t have the upfront capital to invest in business and personal branding. Some of you may have already started to invest, but have stopped because of depleted resources. Or you might think that applying the principle of one niche kills the creative instinct. Whatever you’re thinking, you’re right. Branding is a reductive, and therefore quite limiting in its choices endeavor.
But most businesses fail not because they didn’t undergo the rigorous schooling of branding, or because they didn’t hire an accountant, or an expensive graphic designer for that matter. They fail because they lack the awareness seed, the alignment with the product or services they offer.
So don’t sweat about the technicalities of branding. But do sweat about that story which you will center your brand and services around. If you have an idea about the story of your personal brand, then everything else will fall into place.
Ignite your passion of storytelling, your intimacy with the journey of the archetypal heroes that have been populating the human mind for centuries. Pick an archetype for yourself, try it on, and see if it fits. The Hero maybe, or the Sage, the Trickster, the Mentor, the Sapeshifter, the Threshold Guardian.
Switch them around. You can evolve as a personal brand just as often as any hero of the writer’s journey.
Recently a famed journalist writer with a distinguished brand, Gene Weingarten, wrote an article “How branding is ruining journalism.” In a curmudgeonly manner, which has become his signature, he denounces personal branding and likens it to marketing Cheez Doodles.
“Newspapers used to give readers what we thought they needed. Now, in desperation, we give readers what we think they want. And what we seem to think they want is happy, glitzy, ditzy stuff.”, he says.
As a graphic designer and a writer I had to disagree with him, until I read the last line:
“When I was a hungry young reporter in the 1970s, I thought of myself as a superman, an invincible crusader for truth and justice… My goals, however, were unambiguous, and heroic: 1) Get great stories that improve the world. 2) Get famous. Note the order. First came the work.”
I realized that what he fusses and wails about is not the creative act of brand-making. He revolts against the insidious results branding has on society when performed without spiritual alignment.
It also makes sense that Gene Weingarten didn’t have to fight for the spotlight of his brand back then. Back then the marketplace was a different beast.
But I dare to imagine that who he is today has to do less with any external circumstances, and more with that “superman” journey he adopted in the first place.
Fani Nicheva is a graphic designer and a writer, who serves creative professionals in their quest for a meanigful and long-lasting identity.
Visit her website at or read her blog  She co-founded Bigfish Smallpond Design studio with her partner in Santa Cruz, CA. Creative branding, typography, book design, comparative literature, mythology, storytelling, logos, websites, introspection and lollygagging are her favorite activities.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Your Hub

From 2007 to 2009 our local newspaper hosted a site called Your Hub. Perhaps you’ve heard of it or even participated. It was a community board where anyone who registered could post stories, photos, events, and just about anything that was happening locally. And the neat thing about it, at least to me, was the fact that once a week the Wichita Falls Times Record News printed some of the stories and photographs in the newspaper on a page titled “What’s Happening in Your Neighborhood.” Now there’s something about seeing your article and pictures in the newspaper that’s pretty cool. So I was a major contributor.

And, to my good fortune, the editor in charge of Your Hub called me one evening and asked for an interview. I, of course, posted about my books a lot, mentioned signings and showed the book covers. He wrote a very nice article about me: “Former teacher finds success writing.” Some nice publicity for an unknown author.

Over the short time Your Hub was available in our town, many of my articles were published in the newspaper. Sometimes, nice replies were posted on the site. Othertimes, I received personal email. Once I posted a picture of my aunt standing in front of the Pavillion that was at the lake many years ago. There also was an old-timey motorcycle that I asked if anyone knew what kind it was. A few days later a reply was in the newspaper. A man recognized it as a 1920 j-model Harley.

I talked about my cats and birds and asked how to keep ants off the hummingbird feeders. Several people replied with their solutions. I tried to find the owner of a stray dog that kept hanging around our house by putting his picture on the site. It appeared in the newspaper too.

Unfortunately, other people weren’t as excited about Your Hub as I was. A handful of contributors were faithful and posted regularly. I read some funny stories, some serious stories, and posts that told beautiful stories. But without enough participation, the paper finally closed the site. Other towns still have Your Hub. I know because I receive regular emails from Denver. If you’re interested in whether your local newspaper sponsors Your Hub, try I can’t guarantee where it will take you. Mine goes to Denver. But it is cool getting your name in the newspaper.

Happy writing.