Thursday, February 28, 2013

Everyday World Saving

I just read my friend's blog. She, Annette Makino, is an haiku poet and artist.  The article was about her 25 years spent tackling the world's problems via big organizations.  After working with NPOs and eco-friendly businesses, she decided to help humanity at a more low key, personal level, and started a business selling her haikus with heart-felt, whimsical, loving messages.  Turns out, she is still helping the world. The people buying her cards and pictures give them as presents, share them with friends, or keep them for self inspiration.  Her words and art bring joy to others.

It's a beautiful, wonderful, amazing thing to be able to make your everyday life into one that caters to the betterment of the world.  It doesn't have to be through obvious links, like NPOs or art.  The trash collector who just left with our family's weekly garbage cleared our home of unwanted stuff.  Our old dog got a warm bath last week because someone chose to set up a self-service dog wash in town--her old bones do not like cold hose bathing and our bathtub drain does not do well with dog fur.  And do I need to bring up the gracious gift of education my sons are receiving from their dedicated teachers and all of our society that comes together to make this available for them?  That one's a no brainer.  Stay-at-home parents?  Thank you for the children that you are presenting for our future.  The goodness our everyday efforts are creating is mind-boggling.

If you look deeply into what I write, you might even find that I am attempting to bring a slice of peace into the world.  But don't tell anyone; my children's picture book teacher always told us not to try to write messages in our stories. So that will be our little secret.

And here am I, being blessed with the opportunity to write entertaining stories children and teenagers.  Thank you!

Heather Leigh

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Thank you

I want to thank every person who has ever read, purchased and enjoyed something I've written.  It is wonderful to be part of your life through my conjuring of words.  I play with them, mold them into a story, and then you read what I've come up with.  I have a blessed life and I'm grateful for your support.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Heather Leigh

Friday, February 22, 2013

To Outline Brief or Detailed?

Walking with a friend in the redwood forest today ( I am so lucky to live here!), I was describing the difference between writing the first Young Adult Novel and now working on the second.  For 'Red Nectar', I did nothing more than a brief outline and kept most of the plot in my head or worked it out as the story progressed.  This time, I wrote a detailed outline of each chapter that took two days to complete.

The first book felt pressed and hurried and fun and exciting.  Discovering at every turn what was going to happen, what mischief the characters were going to get into, who was going to turn up in the story and what they would find when they got there.  It felt like a roller coaster with someone else at the control panels. There is certainly an added element of excitement in any situation in which someone else is in control of the outcome.

But this time, having a guide what to expect, I have more of a freedom in that I can forget about the plot and just concentrate on writing.   I don't have one hundred things going on in my brain, reminders of 'be sure to add that'.  There isn't the need to look back and see if I've already included some vital tidbit of information.  If I need to know about something, I know which chapter to search.  I feel more relaxed and efficient now.

And, of course, I can change the outline any time I want. It is my story.

Heather Leigh

Monday, February 18, 2013

Outlining Sequels

For 'Red Nectar', I wrote a quick brief outline and kept the plot going in my mind. I was more set on both getting it done, and letting the story unfold as I went.  But for the sequel, I am going for a more efficient approach. So, I've spent the last two days working on a detailed outline. It feels better this way.
Of course, if during the writing process I decided to change things, I can do what makes sense. It's just as my 12 year-old-son tells me, 'it's your story, Mom. You can do whatever you want with it'.  Kids make so much sense.

The sequel is outlined into 28 chapters. I know just what to do to make the story flow and head for an ending that works. The tension, setting, story line, characters and what they are up to is all in there. Well, at least I hope it's all in there.

Now, I just need to write it.

Heather Leigh

Friday, February 15, 2013

Results of the Shorter Work Time

Yesterday was the second day of the ninety minute writing spurts. It really did work. After 90 minutes, I felt like my mind was starting to wander away from the story. I was not as effective. Before, I would have pushed myself to continue; missing lunch to get every moment in to write before picking up my sons from school.  But instead, I took a break.

The results were great. The dog, cats and I sat outside in the rare northwest sunshine and ate faux chicken salad.  There were red robins and sparrows in the trees to watch and listen to.  And I got some awesome ideas on how to proceed in the sequel to 'Red Nectar'.

Funny how working less is making me more effective and efficient. Maybe someday I'll even use the break time to clean my house.

No, probably not.  I don't want to get that crazy.

Heather Leigh

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

90 Minute Stints

Yesterday, I read an article in the NY Times about work time. The author was an expert in work efficiency. He said that the optimal time to spend on one thing is ninety minutes. So, as an author, he will write for an hour and a half, then take a break such as going for a run, taking a nap, eating a snack. Also, doing 3 of those 90 minute stints is plenty for one day.

People who stick to this accomplish more in one day than others who work non-stop all day long. Breaks make us more efficient and focused in what we are doing at each moment.

So, beginning today, I will be writing in 90 minute increments.

Sounds like a lot more fun than the all at once thing!

Heather Leigh

Monday, February 11, 2013

Second Emily Book Begins

Woo hoo! I am done with the first book of my trilogy, Red Nectar, about a teen girl with dangerous telepathic powers--dangerous because the new world she lives in kills telepathics! And now that it is posted on-line, I am off to start the second one.

Yesterday I spent the morning in bed until 11 A.M. Now, it may have appeared that I was just being lazy, but in reality, I was working. My mind was busy 'downloading' the plot of the story.  What's going to happen, how they will accomplish their goal, who will do what, what challenges they will meet. The life of a writer may look like a lazy couch potato staring off into the distance, not rising from bed for hours on end, but the truth is that I am diligently working, refining my craft, honing in on what matters. It can be tiring work, but as it is work I love,  I stick with it.

The outline has been written, the mental image of what Emily goes through, and the basic underlying fairytale it will follow has been researched.

Now comes the fun part--writing!

Heather Leigh

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Deep and Puzzling

Now that I have finished the young adult novel, Red Nectar, and the companion book to Hey Little Baby, I've gone back to working on a lift the flap, memory game, alphabet book about sea creatures picture book. Sound like a lot for one book? It is! And it's going to be fun. The more I write it, the more I figure out how to do it. It's like a puzzle--getting all the pieces put together. Except that this puzzle is more like a picture of Norman Rockwell painting himself, painting himself, painting just keeps getting deeper as I go.

Which is why this is going to be very fun to work on--and even more fun when I figure out what I am doing!

Heather Leigh