Yolanda Ridge

Children's Author

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Writing tips from Santa, Frosty, Rudolph, and the Gingerbread Man!

Courtesy of Darcy Pattison.  Happy Holidays!


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Schedule? What schedule?

During a recent author visit I was asked to describe a day in the life of an author.  I fumbled with the answer because my schedule seems so random and probably not at all representative of the “average” writer.

I’ve been thinking about the question a lot since then and I’ve come to a surprising conclusion; I actually do have a routine…. sort of.  In case the person who asked is still interested, I’ve decided to write it down.

After I get the kids on the school bus, I do whatever cleaning I have to do, as quickly as I can possibly do it (because I hate cleaning!)  Then I get on my treadmill desk and start adding words to my current work in progress.  I usually read what I wrote the day before but I try not to edit too much.  My goal is to write for two hours straight – enough time to complete a chapter or two.  When the time is up, I head for the shower (I don’t walk fast but I do cover the equivalent of over 10 km – uphill – which can work up quite a sweat!)

After lunch, I do errands, cook, bake… whatever needs to be done for my family.  If there is extra time, I write website content (for this site or the Mixed-Up Files), catch up on social media, work on a book review for grade reading, do my weekly critique for In the Middle Critters (my awesome on-line critique group), organize an author visit…   Some of these things have to wait until the evening, after my kids go to bed, but I try not to do them in the morning during my two hour “writing time”.  And I try not to work on my manuscript in the afternoon unless it is straight research.

At the SCBWI-LA Gary Schmidt responded to this same “day in the life” question with the confession that he never writes more than 500 words a day.  Because after that, the quality is just not there.  I think it’s the same with my two hour rule – if I write any longer, I end up cutting more words than I keep.  But it is a hard rule to follow.  I find it difficult to get started (and can’t let myself be distracted by things like social media) and once I’m into my story I literally have to drag myself away!

If you want to read more about the daily routines of famous authors, check out this post from brain pickings.

There may not be an average day in the life of the average author, but now you (and I) know the average weekday routine for not-so-famous me.  At least that was the schedule – before summer started.  Now that my kids are off school, all matters of order and routine are down the drain.  But maybe this post will help me get back into routine when September rolls around…

So thanks for asking!  Sorry I took so long to answer.

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The Walking Read

This Friday CWILL BC (Children’s Writers and Illustrator of BC) is hosting The Walking Read, a costume benefitting the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation.   Both these organizations are close to my heart as both have provided me with a community of caring people during times of need.

When Oliver and Spencer were born, they were in the care of BC Children’s Hospital for six months.  Every day I am grateful for the care they received from all the talented people who work there.  And now as a Children’s Author and member of CWILL BC, I am trying to do a little bit to give back.

Because The Walking Read is taking place in the lower mainland on June 14, 2013 (in the middle of my KLF book tour and all the craziness that the end of the school year entails) I will not be attending.  I will, however, be bidding on the on-line auction and encourage you to check it out too.   Because I have been responsible for sending letters to the donors, I know how many great things are up for grabs!!

More details about the event are available through the CWILL BC blog and the Georgia Straight.  My thanks to all the many talented people who have organized this event, most notably the amazing and  unstoppable Shar Levine.  I appreciate all her hard work more than I can say and I feel lucky to have been a (small) part of putting this event together!

Now – go bid!  The on-line auction closes at noon on June 13th.  Or better yet – go buy a ticket!  You’ll be supporting the BC Children’s Hospital and celebrating the 20th anniversary of CWILL BC, two truly amazing organizations.

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Advice from E.B. Lewis

This advice, from “aritstrator” E.B. Lewis, is too good not to share.

Thank you, Shelia Cornelison.  I’m off to enjoy some writing time… Happy Friday!

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NaNo… Oh No!

It’s NaNoWriMo confession time…. my word count total (drum roll please)…

12,000 words.

Shocking, I know.

My congratulations to all the writers who achieved their writing goals this month.  I’m sorry I can not count myself among your ranks.

Here’s are a few of the reasons that NaNoWriMo didn’t work for me;

  1. In addition to being novel writing month, November is also the start of cold and flu season.  And those pesky germs are hard to avoid when you have two 6-year-olds.
  2. I was invited to do two presentations this month – both very exciting opportunities for me!  But they both required preparation (if I could add the words from my power point presentation to my total count I’d be up there… but still nowhere near 50,000.)
  3. I didn’t outline.  And I’ve learned that I need to do an outline because I can’t keep writing if I know there are major plot points that need to be changed.
  4. I didn’t do enough research.  This was my first attempt at writing historical fiction.  As I started writing I realized I had to know more about the time period to get the voice right.  And there is no point in getting the words down if the voice is all wrong – in my opinion.
  5. I am a bit of a control freak.  I can’t stand piles of laundry, a dirty house, or store bought meals.

Not rocket science, I know, but that was my experience.  This year.  Maybe I’ll give it a try again next year – with a different outcome.  But I’ll probably wait until those 6-year-olds are a little more capable of fending for themselves.  In other words, give me a decade.  Or two.

That’s not to say that I regret participating in NaNoWriMo 2012.   I’ve learned that the writing process is different for every person and for every project.  I know my writing self a little better now.  Plus, I got a lot of work done.  Even if it doesn’t show in the word count.

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Grand Forks Library

Grand Forks & District Public Library - Grand Forks, BC

Today I was invited to the Grand Forks Library to give my presentation on “Getting Published.”  Despite traffic and technology conspiring against me, I had a great time meeting with the writers of Grand Forks.  There was a excellent turn out for the presentation and I really appreciated everyone’s questions and comments – especially those that stayed afterward.

Good luck to the NaNoWriMo participants, the enthusiastic writers guild, and everyone on the pathway to publication –  no matter how far you are along that road and no matter which branch(es) you take to get there!

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Participant 180x180 (2)

I’ve just decided to enter the race!  This will be my first time participating in National Novel Writing Month.  I haven’t outlined.  I haven’t finished my research.  I haven’t stocked my freezer with food so my family won’t starve…

But I am determined to finish the first draft of a historical middle grade novel that’s been floating around in my brain for way to long.

Let the games begin (but not before I finish the laundry!)

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Literary Rambles

Literary RamblesOne of my favourite children’s book blog is Literary Rambles.  I especially love the agent spotlights and the tuesday writing tips.  Check out my recent contributions on August 7th (tip#138) and July 23 (tip#136)… hope you like them!

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Getting the Grant

My first blog post for the Mixed-Up Files of Middle Grade Authors, Getting the Grant, includes some great tips for grant writing.

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