This is Fat Tuesday. The last big party before lent. Some of you know what that means and others of you don’t; if you are not familiar with the Bible you may not know why there are 40 days of giving up something you love to repent and get closer to the teachings of God and the sermons of Jesus. To sacrifice as Jesus sacrificed to show his disciples and followers that this was a good way to become more spiritual.
If you are in the city of New Orleans, Mobile, Galveston and Tampa please be careful; lots of alcohol, lack of judgment and huge crowds surrounding you. Stay safe!
Working on a rhyming PB as well as revising a chapter book, middle grade novel and a few other picture books.
Lily’s Lagniappe: Tomorrow the city of New Orleans will slowly get back to normal. Cable cars will run, people will get back to work definitely by this coming Monday. Schools are usually out for the week to give the city a chance to clean up. Every business will be open, eat the good food, visit the plantation homes to see a kinder, gentler way of life, visit the River Walk without the crowds, and let the majority of people get out of the city before you head to the airport. See you next Mardi Gras!
I’m going to veer a bit away from writing today. My maternal grandparents were married this day in 1928. They would have been together for 87 years. They were both from sturdy stock. God-fearing, hard-working, Christian people that worked hard all week and repented on Sunday. No one worked on Sunday. The afternoon was for naps, visiting, and getting prepared for the next week’s work. Simple people not because they didn’t have sophistication or a college degree, but because they didn’t want for more than what they had. Money enough to pay the bills with enough left over to have a few treats. Family surrounding them with love and adoration. The good Lord gave them their health and allowed them to work the fields and dairy until they decided to retire not retire because of necessity. Cold watermelons at the end of hot summer day, a breeze in spring to take the sting out of the warmth beating down on you, frost to kill off the insects on the field hay and enough rain to grow gardens full of summer and/or winter plants. Gentle times, knowing where they were from and knowing where they were going, no smart phones, no internet, no Facebook, no Twitter, news on at 5, 6, and 10, ate supper early because 3:30 AM came early at the dairy, and television reception with the rabbit ears wasn’t really all that good. Stories about their ancestors, stories about our grandparents courting, stories about our parents when they were younger kept us riveted sitting at their feet. I miss you Maw and Paw. My pen name is made up of Clytie Bridges and Lillie Blanche Beck; my two grandmothers. Lily Blanche Bridges is hopefully the best of the two of them.
Lily’s Lagniappe: Our families are the best thing resource we have of how things were. Sit down and take notes how things have changed, for better or worse, and listen to how they tell the story as well as what they are telling you. Their emotional journey is as real as the years they lived.
The two or three manuscripts I’m revising this month and then I’m getting one ready to mail to an editor can be exciting as well as exhausting. You revise, revise then revise again. I honestly believe that sometimes we change the same things over and over again. So that’s when it is a must to have a critique group. They will find your weakness and help you improve it. So I’ve sent the query, synopsis and first three chapters off to my critique group for constructive criticism.
Lily’s Lagniappe: This past week there was a shooting at Mardi Gras where someone lost their life. Please be careful but I will tell you that they most of us Louisianans leave the state and leave it to the crazies. Fat Tuesday is a fun day if you can stay above the crowd and just watch the beautiful floats and costumes.
Working and revising on several manuscripts, you begin to question whether or not the story makes sense or flows. That’s where a good critique group becomes very important to the finished product. They will tell you the truth. TRUTH, a 5 letter word that doesn’t begin to explain how brutal my critique group can be. A good critique group is brutal on the work but never on the individual. The ladies in my group help make my manuscripts better. Cut, rearrange, add, fragment, doesn’t make sense, this stopped me… I’ve seen all of these comments at one time or another. The critique is usually spot on! I wish for you a critique group like mine.
Lily’s Lagniappe: This is the last weekend before Mardi Gras. Parades will run non stop from morning to the wee hours of the night for the next five days. The crowds are large, the drinking is out of control, the costumes or lack of them is not family friendly, I’m not saying don’t go just be forewarned.
Well, revising going well. One chapter book getting the finishing touches before it makes it’s appearance on an editor’s desk. A picture book about a stomach that talks in major revision; slashing words, creating action plus tightening the rhythm and flow of words. It’s like losing a child or putting a baby up for adoption to cut the words you put into the manuscript with such care. But it must be done to sell a book. Starting to working an several new manuscripts for start of 2015. Hoping for the best.
Lily’s Lagniappe: Mardi Gras is winding down and the crazies will leave the state. The roads will be back to normal and the Krewes and Mardi Gras Indians will start planning for Mardi Gras 2016. But if you are in New Orleans on March 14th please sure to see the Mardi Gras Indians march one more time in the St. Joseph’s Day parade. The Italian heritage in New Orleans is well documented. The Indians march to honor that heritage.
Probably the sixth or seventh time, I revised this picture book manuscript. Can I keep the flow going without the words? As a predominantly middle grade and young adult novelist who uses lots of words, to squeeze meaning into 500 words or less with a beginning, middle and end including a story arc, well it’s exhausting. You lose perspective on the flow, the rhythm, the characters, and the plot. You read it aloud at least 10 times and you know no more about your manuscript now than you did. So I keep plodding along.
Lily’s Lagniappe: Taking your family to Mardi Gras parades? The best ones for families are off St. Charles Ave on Saturday before Fat Tuesday. St. Charles Avenue is a divided boulevard. So you can easily find an area where you can set up chairs and bring your own coolers. Kids will not be pushed around or stepped on. The float riders through cups, doubloons (Mardi Gras coins), beads and candy. Go early stay late. Laissez les bons temps rouler, (Let the good times roll).
Revising a picture book where the main character doesn’t eat his breakfast and he and his mommy are traveling to see his Grandma and Grandpa for lunch. Before long his stomach starts growling. So I’m revising and really wanting this picture book to get good comments on the website where I’m a member. Hoping this counts as manuscript number two. I revised and wrote a manuscript in January and didn’t get credit for them.
Lily’s Lagniappe: The pastry during carnival is usually the King Cake but there is another cake called a Doberge Cake. It has nine layers and is sold exclusively by Gambinos Bakery. It is a must have when visiting New Orleans.
Working on revisions of several manuscripts, some posting on a website for year long quest for a total of 12 PB manuscripts; one a month. Working on several middle grade, chapter book, and young adult manuscripts also. My brain works best if I keep it thinking about a variety of different problems with different characters in different circumstances. Some folks just don’t know what it is like to have all that in your brain then solve their problems while leading a relatively normal life. I occasionally talk out the problems as I drive to get groceries, to work, to the post office and other places. I probably look deranged while talking out these issues. Beware! There are a lot of us on the road.
Lily’s Lagniappe: Right after Fat Tuesday, lent begins. In every restaurant in Louisiana there is a seafood entree on Friday. Fish, shrimp, crawfish, and seafood gumbo are delicious offerings during this time until Easter. One of my favorites is shrimp and corn soup. There are a lot of recipes on the internet but I usually like the ones that are milk based. I actually like skim milk based recipes. Find one you like and try it. It may become a family favorite!
Still revising the picture book to send out and also the chapter book I want to send too. Still have three YA novels also in revision. How can working on YA novels help me develop and write picture books or vice versa? Emma Walton Hamilton says you must put every word on trial for its existence! Every word so writing picture books will help a writer become a better writer, but how will that help you write a young adult novel? From my experience it helps you get from beginning to end, building you novel’s bare bones. Then comes the filler, the subplots that make your novel your own and the secondary characters you use to help you tell your story. So being able to write both picture books, middle grade novels and YA novels improves your perspective for the overall picture or scope of a book. The bare bones of a book is the skeleton or outline of what you need to address and build upon. The rule Emma Walton Hamilton gives us makes writing to the outline even more important. For a picture book even the manuscript needs to be bare boned; leaving out things for the illustrator to illustrate and keeping the action going from beginning to end. For middle grade novels and YA novels, the words we use should also be on trial, making every word count. So no matter what you write make it the best you can.
Lily’s Lagniappe: Mardi Gras balls are in full swing and yet very soon carnival season will be over for another year. Everyone starts Ash Wednesday planning for next year. If you’re in New Orleans enjoy but be careful, remember you really have no choice once in a crowd. You go the way the crowd is going. Keep your wits about you and drink only after you get back to your room.
Still revising the picture book then back to the Chapter Book bound for Boyds Mills Press. This new found energy for the submitting of my manuscripts is preventing me from sleeping. My brain will not shut off. I find sleeping very hard. But if I can get my foot in the door somewhere it will be great. If not at Boyds Mills Press then somewhere else.
Lily’s Lagniappe: The balls are all winding down in the Big Easy as well other cities in Louisiana. The debutante’s have been presented and the royal court of every Krewe has been made public. One court member put on Facebook that it was good to be QUEEN!! Good for her. If you ever get to go to a Mardi Gras Ball, please attend they are spectacular. Great fun, dancing and a great tradition to be a part of.