A Blog of Writing Tips, Interviews, Thoughts on the Writing Process, Book Reviews, Blog Hops, and Things NESCBWI Conference Related.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

What to Say?

I always feel as though I don't have anything important to say about writing when it comes time to blog. Today I realized that this isn't true. I say so much to so many people, everyday!

I teach!

And everyday I am asking questions, giving suggestions and talking my high school kids through writing. But I never have a moment to stop and digest what I say, I just know that when they listen and actually try some of the things I suggest, they reap the rewards of better writing.

Just what did I say to my student about writing from the place where they are most passionate?

Just now one of my students peeks into my office.

"What are you writing?" she asks.

"Junk!"

"Not you."

"Yes, me! I'm trying to blog about writing but I don't have anything to say"

"You always have something to say."

I smirk, think she's being cheeky.

"No, you really do."

"Like what? What do I tell you?"

She sighs and comes into my office.

You ask me stuff?"

"Like what? I can't remember."

"Like, how does it make me feel? Why is it uncomfortable? Does it make me angry?"

I think about this a moment.

"Thanks!" I smile. Wish she would go so I can get back to writing this blog post. But she stays a moment longer.

"My favorite question you ask me," she says, "is what's the worst thing that can happen?"

I look up from my laptop, she's grinning, we both both laugh.

"You can always revise!"

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Revision Checklist

Revising is often the most dreaded part of the writing process. But having a checklist can help you in the process. Here are 10 things I think about when revising.

1.     What is the real story that I am telling?
2.     How will my character change?
·      Does my character get to where s/he needs to be?
No – How do I make her change?
~  Introduce a crisis situation that makes my character  change.
Yes – Do the things that happen along the way help get my character where s/he needs to be?

3.     What does it mean to move forward?
·      Reveal something about the character.
·      Propel the plot.
·      Build a relationship that is important later in the book.

4.     Summarize the things that don’t move the story forward.
·      An example of this is Charlie Brown, Linus, and Lucy speaking, but the adults always sound like, “Blah, blah, blah.”
·      One sentence summary of the scene.

5.     Is my main plot a character development arc?
·      Subplots
~  Do they fit in?
~  When do they resolve?
~  How do they resolve?

6.     Characters
·      What are my character's quirks and personality traits?
·      Do my secondary/minor characters grow with each appearance they make in the book? 

7.     Dialogue
·      Do my characters have unique voices?
·      Do they reveal everything about their characters?
An example of this is sub vs grinder (sandwich) 
Their socio-economic placement
·      Does the dialogue let their relationships evolve?
·      How authentic do they sound?

8.     Setting and Description
·      Picture it then brushstroke the description. Let the reader envision it, unless it must be specific.
·      For it to be specific, it must be important later in the book. If not, take it out.

9.     Wordsmith
·      Search for commonly used, but unnecessary words.
~  Examples are just, so, next, that, but.

10.  Show, don’t tell.

Monday, January 16, 2012

YA Anthology Open to Submissions

Today Pugalicious Press posted on their blog the following, "We are looking for YA short stories to include in our first ebook anthology, titled Timeless!"

If your short story is  between 3000 and 7500 words and fits into the genre of YA historical romance we want to read it. The story can include steampunk, fantasy, or adventure, as long as it includes some historical elements then we are interested in reading it. For more information go to http://pugaliciouspress.com

Submit the whole manuscript as a Word .doc file (no .docx) by March 30, 2012, with the subject heading: submission--YA anthology.

Please include a bio, publishing credits if any, and a synopsis.

Good luck! And we look forward to reading your short story!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Hidden Talent NESCBWI

There is so much hidden talent and so many dedicated people who work behind the scenes to support the NESCBWI Spring Conference every year. The planning for each conference starts long before the preceding conference usually kicks off (2013 is already in process). So over the next several weeks, I want to introduce them to the dedicated volunteers who make the magic happen.

Kathryn Hulick is a workhorse. While I was wrapping presents and drinking eggnog, Kathryn was working on the upcoming NESCBWI 2012 Spring Conference. While I was baking cookies, Kathryn was sending out faculty contracts. While I was decorating the tree, Kathryn was collecting faculty bios. While I was lighting the menorah and eating latkes, Kathryn was answering conference question emails. Kathryn is amazing and I am just having such a wonderful time working with her.

Shirley Pearson is also a amazing. Her dedication as the conference registrar is very behind the scenes. You don't see her until you arrive at the conference and walk up to the registration table, but she spends months working on the Regonline registration process and event website beforehand. So while I was doing all the holiday things, I mention above, Shirley was doing her NESCBWI Conference magic.

I just wanted to take a moment to thank them both for their dedication to NESCBWI. I've learned so much working with you both. Thanks and much gratitude!

Is there some someone that supports the NESCBWI Conference you think should be recognized for their dedication and work? Let me know. I'd like to thank them.