Archive for July, 2013

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Someone Stole my Title

July 31, 2013

My latest manuscript has changed names four times. Yes, four freakin’ times. When I finally hit my favorite and received rave reviews from my writing community, wouldn’t you know it? A new book released by a famous author with MY title.

 

It happens. As writers we must persevere and keep searching for the Holy Grail of titles. It’s important. People will pick up a book because of its title. So, how do you do?

 

  • Make a list of characteristics that make your book unique. Is it funny? Fantastical? Dark? The title should reflect the book in some way.
  • Use your computer’s thesaurus to begin making a list of words that you associate with your book.
  • Carry a journal with you (or use your smart phone notes) to copy restaurant names, titles of other books, and articles you read.
  • Create a master list of ideas and highlight various words or phrases. When matched together, they may create a clever ring
  • Ask your critique group to vote on your top five and voila! You have yourself a title.

 

And in the unfortunate even that it’s stolen, cry. Then look at your list and start again. It will be even better.

 

 

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Tell your Teen there’s Still Time to Read this Summer!

July 19, 2013

If your teen is getting bored walking around town with friends (never!), suggest a few of the following fabulous YA reads:

 

The Fault in Our Stars

The Scorpio Races

Anna and the French Kiss

The Moon and More

The Sacrifice

Speak

The List

Shatter Me, Unravel Me

Perks of Being a Wallflower

Before I Fall

It’s Kind of a Funny Story

The Book Thief

Divergent Series

Cinder

 

Don’t forget to check with your local library—they have great reading lists.

 

 

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Emotional Thesaurus

July 7, 2013

How do you describe fear? Anger? Glee? Novice writers often make the mistake of giving the reader too much information, including emotions. Sure, if a character is scared the author can say, “Sue was scared.” However, an advanced writer uses action to give us that information as a more dynamic approach.

During a class I’m teaching this summer, my students will choose an emotion (I’ll probably write different emotions on slips of paper and stick them in a hat). Then each will write phrases to describe an action associated with that emotion. Try it!

Here’s an example:

Fear:

Bite your lip

Shaking knees

Shivers

Wide eyes

Chattering teeth

Hold your breath

Hyperventilation

Squeeze eyes shut

Sweaty palms

Grab someone’s arm

Tightening of muscles

Tremble

Pale face

There are hundreds of emotions to choose from: depression, pride, shame, worry, suspicion, jealousy, irritation, humiliation, love, agitation, embarrassment, and happiness are only a few.

It’s okay to tell the reader that your character is happy, but showing is almost always better. Offer descriptions and actions associated with an emotion, and your writing will come alive.

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Why do We Write?

July 2, 2013

Why do you write?

For me, I write because I can’t not write. I realize that’s a cheat of an answer, but it’s true. I’ve been writing in some form or another my entire life.

When I was little, I wrote down my dreams and did creative writing prompts at school. As I moved into my teens, I wrote sappy poetry. I was, of course, the only girl in the world who was having boyfriend troubles and who’s family was driving me crazy. It was fine poetry. In my early twenties I began to write stories but didn’t do much with them. Twenties were a bit of a blur. I wrote professionally in my thirties, and after my kids arrived, I began writing in earnest. My first book, Soul Sunday: a Family’s Guide to Finding Faith and Teaching Tolerance, won seven national awards, and I continued to write articles and essays. However, once I found my voice in fiction, I’d come home. Now, it’s what I do.

In addition to writing professionally, I write for myself. My journal is a kind of therapy. There have been times that I couldn’t write—my brain too deep in a void to find words. Other times were too busy for journal writing.

But both of these reasons are excuses.

We should never be too busy to take care of ourselves, if we use writing to help clear our heads. The void can be filled with words. Writers should never be too busy to write, even if it’s only a few minutes to capture fleeting thoughts. I finally know why I write, and so I do. Everyday.

Ask yourself why you write and then ask yourself why you stop.

Write anyway.

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Why do You Write?

July 2, 2013

For me, I write because I can’t not write. I realize that’s a cheat of an answer, but it’s true. I’ve been writing in some form or another my entire life.

When I was little, I wrote down my dreams and did creative writing prompts at school. As I moved into my teens, I wrote sappy poetry. I was, of course, the only girl in the world who was having boyfriend troubles and who’s family was driving me crazy. It was fine poetry. In my early twenties I began to write stories but didn’t do much with them. Twenties were a bit of a blur. I wrote professionally in my thirties, and after my kids arrived, I began writing in earnest. My first book, Soul Sunday: a Family’s Guide to Finding Faith and Teaching Tolerance, won seven national awards, and I continued to write articles and essays. However, once I found my voice in fiction, I’d come home. Now, it’s what I do.

In addition to writing professionally, I write for myself. My journal is a kind of therapy. There have been times that I couldn’t write—my brain too deep in a void to find words. Other times were too busy for journal writing.

But both of these reasons are excuses.

We should never be too busy to take care of ourselves, if we use writing to help clear our heads. The void can be filled with words. Writers should never be too busy to write, even if it’s only a few minutes to capture fleeting thoughts. I finally know why I write, and so I do. Everyday.

Ask yourself why you write and then ask yourself why you stop.

Write anyway.