A little MDBC inspiration

April 9th, 2014

“Where do you get your ideas?” is a question frequently asked of writers. Our #1 question, in fact. My answer, as you know if you’ve read the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page of this website (click here to visit it): absolutely everywhere!

Sometimes it’s fun to trace where one specific idea came from, however, and that’s what I want to do today.

Those of you familiar with my Mother-Daughter Book Club series will recall that in PIES & PREJUDICE, Jess Delaney and her mother take a cake decorating class together. Much to her surprise, Jess discovers that she actually enjoys the class (she goes along initially just to humor her mother), and that she has a knack for decorating cakes, including making frosting flowers.  This comes in handy when Jess and her friends start a baking business, and then in a later book, when Jess and her mother make a wedding cake for someone special (I’m not saying whom, just in case you haven’t read the entire series yet!).

So, where did I get this idea?

Would you believe my own life?

Heather and her culinary masterpiece

Heather Vogel with her culinary masterpiece

This is me at age 12, standing proudly in front of my crowning achievement as a cake decorator. My mother and I had taken a class together earlier that year (and yes, we had fun, just like Jess and her mom did!), so when my beautiful Aunt Judy got married to my handsome Uncle Howard, guess who was asked to do the honors?

Yep. Me.

My mother helped, too, of course. But as far as I was concerned, this was my baby!

HVF wedding cake closeup
And isn’t it a beautiful baby?  Three layers of my grandmother’s delicious pound cake topped with white buttercream frosting and adorned with frosting roses in two shades of pink, clustered on the top and trailing down the sides. A crowning achievement, if I say so myself!

My interest in cake decorating evaporated shortly after this photo was taken, but nothing ever goes to waste for a writer. Part of our writing process is mining memories for material. And this was one particularly sweet memory I was happy to find a spot for in one of my books.

 

A wintry web

January 20th, 2013
Filed in inspiration
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NaNoWriMo

November 8th, 2012

How many of you out there are participating in NaNoWriMo? How many of you even know what NaNoWriMo is?

For those of you who’ve never heard of it, “NaNoWriMo” stands for National Novel Writing Month.  It happens every November, and perhaps is best described as a writing marathon, which writers sign up for (it’s free!) with the goal of writing a novel in a month.  Sounds crazy, right?

And it is, in a way.  But crazy in a GOOD way!

While I’m not doing NaNo myself this year in an official way, I’m unofficially using it as a motivator for keeping my new book moving forward.  (Which it is, yay!)   I have some young friends who signed up for the Young Writers Program, though (click here to learn more about it).  They’re busily writing away toward their goals, so I thought it would be fun to interview two of them.

Here’s what Eliza, a 4th grader in Oregon, has to say about the experience:

Q.  Could you tell other young aspiring writers a little bit about NaNo, and how you decided to get involved with it?

A.  Nanowrimo is a great way for anyone to just get their words and ideas down on paper with no restrictions, just for fun. I decided to get involved in it because my sister Molly had lots of fun with it.

Q.  How many years have you done it now?

A.  3 years.

Q.  How does it help motivate you?

A.  Just being able to write stuff down and come back later to make changes gives it all an exciting “rush and hurry” sort of feel.

Q.  What are you hoping to accomplish this year?

A.  4,000 words and a good book.

Q.  What advice would you give someone who’s thinking about doing it?

A.  Stop thinking and get it done. (And have fun!!!!)

Thanks, Eliza!  Happy NaNo-ing!   

Now here’s Margaret, a 7th grader from Georgia, who wrote a little essay about the experience for us:

NaNoWriMo is an adventure.  A fast-paced, finger-flying adventure.  Last year, when I did Youth Writers Program (YWP) NaNo for the first time, I had no idea what I was getting myself into.  I knew that I was going to be writing a novel and only had the month of November to do it.  And I also knew that I loved to write and NaNoWriMo was a place where I could.

I set my word count goal as 25,000 words.  In YWP NaNoWriMo, you set a goal for yourself and try to reach it during the month.  I didn’t really know what my story would be like, but I had what I call “puzzle pieces.”  These puzzle pieces consisted of the skeleton of what my story would be–a few ideas toward the plot line, some interesting character names, and a couple of phrases that I thought were so witty that I had to include them somewhere.  Then the adventure began.  Motivation had struck and I was writing like a maniac.  But what was so unique was that in a way, I had no choice to let everything go and hold nothing back.  Writer’s block tried to stop me more than a few times, but I just kept on writing and the puzzle pieces I had started with began to fit together and form a story.

Another neat thing about NaNo is that even in the quiet of my room while I’m writing, I know that there are thousands of kids out in the world who are just like me.  They love to write and they’re ready to go on this month-long adventure to create a story.  Maybe next year, you’ll come on this journey with us–this crazy, exhilirating adventure that is NaNoWriMo.

Wow, you make it sound irresistible, Margaret!  Thanks!

Anybody else out there doing NaNo?  Feel free to chime in and let us know how it’s going!  We’ll check back in with you all at the end of the month to see how things went.  Have fun!

 

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