Thursday, March 31, 2011


I'm late!

My sincere apologies. It's been one of those weeks. Without further ado, the winner of this week's freebie is:

Jessy, who chose CRYER'S CROSS

Please send your mailing information to gerb (@) lindagerber (.) com and we'll get that sent out to you.

Everyone, no Freebie Friday tomorrow as I try to get on top of this latest wave, but I'll see you here Tuesday. Have a great weekend!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

For Writers - Permission to Suck

This week's tip is a day early because I will be away from my computer tomorrow.

The tip is simple. Give yourself permission to suck.

Remember that you are not alone when you write that sucky first draft. Your words do not have to be perfect their first time out on the page, so don't get discouraged or give up because they aren't. Even the best of the best rewrite:

“If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word.” — Margaret Atwood

“You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.” — Octavia Butler

"The first draft of anything is sh!t." -- Earnest Hemingway

"The only way I can get anything written at all is to write really sh!tty first drafts." --Anne Lamott

"It is better to write a bad first draft than to write no first draft at all." --Will Shetterly

Amy King wrote an excellent piece on embracing your suck here: The Writer's Middle Finger

Also Superhero Nation's recent post: It's Okay if Your First Draft Sucks

Power to the suck!

This week's link roundup:

Favorite books on writing (The Divining Wand) Excellent resource

More great writing books (Fiction Groupie)

Theme (Magical Words) On Identifying what your theme is

Subplots (YA Muses) Avoid the drag

Colorful Writing (Kate Hart) Excellent

On writing historicals (Quips and Tips)

Balancing Backstory (Jody Hedlund)

Butt in the chair for how long? (Ingrid's Notes) the time it takes to master your craft

Mediocre Metaphors (Paranormal POV) How to make them great

Never been there? (Write it Sideways) How to write it anyway

Don't sweat the small stuff (fiction groupie) Find your story's magic

Writing 11 Senses (Seeing Creative) Interesting

4 Phases of Idea Generation (Iggi & Gabi)

5 Ways Romance can enhance a story (Iggi & Gabi)

5 Stages of grief post-critique (Beyond the Margins) and 4 steps to revision

5 ways to mess up your manuscript (Victoria Mixon)

5 ways to write with emotion (quips and tips)

9 Plotting Steps (YA Muses)

7 online research tools for writers (Daily Tips)

10 Ways to keep the momentum (Book Dreaming)

10 ways to reach The End (It's a Mystery)

13 ways to find your hook (Publetariat)

Breaking Rules (The Editor's Blog)

Breaking more rules (It's a Mystery)

Annoyed by rules (Elana Johnson)

Balance, Priorities & Rewards (Writer Unboxed)

Building Magic in your World (The Other Side of the Story)

Vague writing is weak writing (Word Play)

Author voice & character voice (Elle Strauss)

Writing Male Characters (a.k.a.) Men are Jerks (Brain Scientist's Take on Writing) Ha. Love Livia.

Now go. Write!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Freebie Friday - Spring Break Edition

Before we talk about this week's freebie, I want to give a shout out to some of my writer friends along with some well-deserved congratulations:

To Sarah Bennett-Wealer: Her book RIVAL was listed in the April/May issue of Girl's Life magazine as a "must read". Yay, Sarah!

You can read about Sarah, her writing journey, process, characters, etc. on Sara Zarr's blog this week--and even enter to win a copy of RIVAL!--HERE.

To Lenore Appelhans: She just made her first sale!!! YAY!!! Her YA novel, LEVEL TWO just sold to Simon and Schuster and CBS Films at the same time! You can read the official announcement HERE.

Lenore is a book blogger extraordinaire and one of the sincerely nicest people around. Huge congratulations to Lenore!

To Nancy Herriman: Another first sale! Her inspirational, THE IRISH HEALER, will come out spring, 2012!! Nancy's a local writing pal and a beautiful songstress. Congratulations, Nancy!!!

Oh... more good news!

Edited to add:

To Simone Elkeles: Her book, RULES OF ATTRACTION is a finalist for the RWA RITA award in the Best YA Romance category. Yay, Simone! (I love any excuse to post this awesome cover again.)


DEAR BULLY is up in the Harper Collins catalog. Here's the final cover art. I'm so honored to be a part of this anthology and I'll be talking a lot more about it, and about bullying, as we get closer to the August release date.

And now, for your spring break reading pleasure... it's Spring Cleaning Time at my house, which means I have to part with some of my favorite books to make room for my TBR pile. This week's choices are:

CRYER'S CROSS by Lisa McMann

Here's the official blurb:

Kendall loves her life in small town Cryer¹s Cross, Montana, but she also longs for something more. She knows the chances of going to school in New York are small, but she's not the type to give up easily. Even though it will mean leaving Nico, the world's sweetest boyfriend, behind.

But when Cryer's Cross is rocked by unspeakable tragedy, Kendall shoves her dreams aside and focuses on just one goal: help find her missing friends. Even if it means spending time with the one boy she shouldn't get close to... the one boy who makes her question everything she feels for Nico.

Determined to help and to stay true to the boy she's always loved, Kendall keeps up the search--and stumbles upon some frightening local history. She knows she can't stop digging, but Kendall is about to find out just how far the townspeople will go to keep their secrets buried....

UNEARTHLY by Cynthia Hand

The offical blurb:

In the beginning, there's a boy sta
nding in the trees . . . .

Clara Gardner has recently learned that she's part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on this earth to do. Figuring out what that is, though, isn't easy.

Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally), everything seems to fall into place—and out of place at the same time. Because there's another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara's less angelic side.

As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she'd have to make—between honesty and deceit, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny?

UNEARTHLY is a moving tale of love and fate, and the struggle between following the rules and following your heart.


Official Blurb:

Half Summer faery princess, half human, Meghan has never fit in anywhere. Deserted by the Winter prince she thought loved her, she is prisoner to the Winter faery queen. As war looms between Summer and Winter, Meghan knows that the real danger comes from the Iron fey—ironbound faeries that only she and her absent prince have seen. But no one believes her.

Worse, Meghan's own fey powers have been cut off. She's stuck in Faery with only her wits for help. Trusting anyone would be foolish. Trusting a seeming traitor could be deadly. But even as she grows a backbone of iron, Meghan can't help but hear the whispers of longing in her all-too-human heart.

To be entered to win, leave a message below, telling me about your spring break plans. Be sure to include which book you would like to win and why. This drawing will remain open until Wednesday, March 30.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

For writers - Slaying Overused Words

Today's tip comes from my recent harrowing experience of combing through my WIP to catch my (many) overused words, adverbs, and passive verbs. I'm afraid I don't know who to credit for the original idea--it's something I jotted down in a notebook long ago, but this is the first time I put it to use.

By the time I'm working on a second (or third) draft, I find it hard to catch overused words because it's like my brain skips right over them, so here's a trick to highlight the culprits so that I don't miss them. I use Word for Mac, so this might work a little bit differently with other programs, but here's how it works for me:

In my open manuscript, I click on the formatting palette and choose a color for highlighting. (If you're going to highlight several words/adverbs/etc. in your ms., choose a different color for each.)

Now, I click on 'edit' from my task bar along the top of the ms and scroll down to select the 'replace' option. With the search/replace box open, I enter a word in the search line - for example, just, which I overuse terribly. I reenter the word in the replace line. Next, I click the little boxed arrow icon in the lower left hand corner to expand my options. I choose 'format' and then 'highlight', then click 'replace all.' Word will highlight all my justs so that they'll stand out as I give it another read though.

I repeat this with a different color for ly, to catch my overused adverbs, and again with another color to highlight any other word I need to catch.

Amazing how seeing them all in their technicolor glory helps me slay the overused monsters.

This week's link roundup:

Using POV to make characters come alive (WOW)

Creating active characters in YA (Guide to Literary Agents)

DWD posts on voice: (part 1) (part 2) (part 3) (part 4) (part 5) (part 6)

5 reasons to write in 1st person (ingrid's notes)

6 limitations of 1st person (ingrid's notes)

3rd person style in 1st person (Kidlit)

Building Character Arc (FictionGroupie) Gotta have a motto

Using dialog to avoid infodumps (wordplay)

Story Structure vs. Voice (Laura Pauling)

The art of chapter breaks (bloodred pencil)

Using White Space (write it sideways)

Mastering backstory (Corey's Notebook) learning from Louis Sacher

3 Strategies for saying The End (beyond the margins)

The 100 Rejections Rule for querying authors (MJ Beuhrlen)

Writers: The secret at the core of competency (Top Ten Tuesdays) Amateur vs. Professional

What makes a book great? (Personal Demons)

What is great writing? (the other side of the story)

13 writing tips from the pros (Buffy's write zone)

10 tips to bust writer's block (publetariat)

Kurt Vonnegut's 8 rules for writing fiction (Pimp my novel)

Mapping it out (Kate Hart) YA sales in the past year

Motivations and rewards for writers (genreality)

Finding story ideas everywhere (genreality)

Best and Worst Editor Advice (beyond the margins) Part two

Now go. Write!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Lucky Leprechaun Winner

Thanks, everyone, for hopping by. It was nice to see some new pixels (and previous friend pixels as well).

The winner by random drawing is:


Please send your mailing instructions to gerb (@) lindagerber (.) com and we'll get that sent out to you.

Everyone else, you are welcome to drop in anytime. Most Fridays are Freebie Fridays with author interviews and book giveaways, and Tuesdays are especially for writers with tips and links.

Have a great week!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway

Welcome to the Lucky Leprechaun Hop! I'm happy to be participating in this cool idea, hosted by Books Complete Me & I Am A Reader, Not A Writer.

For this stop, f
or good luck, and as a nod to the main character in my upcoming MG series (CASSIDY ON CAMERA) , is a silver Italian corno charm. Leave a comment below to enter. This giveaway is International.

Click this link for a list of 266 (!) blogs participating in this giveaway hop. You can enter as many giveaways as you like. This hop will run from March 17 - March 20.

Happy hopping and Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Monday, March 14, 2011

For Writers - The Plot & Working it Backward

Our tip this week comes from a discussion recently with the online mystery writing class this month. We talked about one method of plotting that involves uncovering the main plot points of a novel by starting at the solution/climax and working our way backward.

The question arose: "I'm having trouble with working backwards and setting up the "getting there." For instance, if Col. Mustard killed Miss Plum in the Library with a wrench, because she knew he stole money - that would be the ending - but how do I work backwards?"

The answer/example: With the scenario you presented, let's say the question is, Who killed Miss Plum? And the solution is: Col. Mustard killed Miss Plum in the Library with a wrench, because she knew he stole money.

Picture that solution at the top of a ladder.

Now, as the detective, what clues will they need to find in order to determine that it was Col. Mustard who did the killing? Or, visualizing it, what rungs do you need to climb to reach the top of a ladder?

Here's where we work it backward:

Col. Mustard had to have opportunity. How did he get to Miss Plum? Where was he in relation to the library? What's the timeline?

To work on the timeline, your ME will need need to establish time of death.

Determine what Col. Mustard was doing at that time and how he was able to get to her and do the deed.

The murder weapon was a wrench. How will you tie this wrench to Col. Mustard? Did he leave fingerprints? Did he have a collection of wrenches seen earlier in the text? Plant this clue beforehand for your detective to discover.

Now, what did Col. Mustard say he was doing at that time? (Alibi)

What clues are going to tell you, the detective, that he was not where he said he was? (Or that he was able to slip away and come back.)

Col. Mustard will need to have motive. As you said, Miss Plum knew he had stolen money. So, establish that there is money to be stolen early on. Now, determine why and how Col. Mustard stole that money.

Also, determine how Miss Plum would have discovered Col. Mustard stole the money. What was their relationship? What clues did he leave behind that she could have picked up on? Or, did she witness the theft? Were they in on it together and she was going to tell? Had he planned to off her all along, or did she turn on him?

Now, having worked backward through this question, let's say your hard work has established the following:

Col. Mustard runs a skate shop in Venice Beach. He builds custom skateboards with his partner, Major Pain. Miss Plum is a graphic artist and student at the local community college, making her way through school by designing boards for the shop.


While Col. Mustard and Major Pain were having lunch on the pier, a random homeless dude broke into the skate shop and stole the week's earnings from the cash box they keep in the back. Miss Plum startled the guy and he chased her into a neighboring shop, The Library of Love and killed her with a wrench he had taken off the workbench in the skate shop.


Col. Mustard, heavy into gambling, has run up a huge tab. He needs money, so he stages a break-in and clears out the cash box. All day he's been complaining of having a bad case of the runs, so when he excuses himself from the table for a moment during lunch to use the bathroom, Major Pain doesn't think anything of it. Col. Mustard runs back to the shop to grab the money.

But... he wasn't expecting Miss Plum to be in the workshop. Miss Plum sees him and tries to sneak out the back. When he hears the door shut, he realizes she has seen him. He can't have her telling Major Pain what he's done. Desperate, he grabs the first thing he sees - a wrench from the workbench, and runs after her.

Miss Plum ducks into the seedy Library of Love and tries to hide in one of the dark corners, but Col. Mustard corners her and, when she won't listen to reason, wallops her on the head, then arranges her body to look like she's a stray drunk asleep against the display shelf. He wipes down the wrench and drops it in the cart of a wandering bum, and runs back to where he was having lunch.

Major Pain is like, "Dude has a serious case of the trots!" Which is what he tells Police when they start asking questions.

The police recover the wrench from the homeless guy and determine that there are traces of blood on the handle. It matches Miss Plum's blood type, and is consistent with the blunt force trauma the ME determined has killed her. The weapon has been wiped, so they can't find prints, but a search for the manufacturer shows that it is a custom wrench, belonging to a special limited-edition set of wrenches.

In the skate shop, a set of wrenches hangs on the wall, with one space missing. It is determined that the wrenches come from this limited-edition set and that the murder weapon is the correct size to fit the empty space on the wall.

The homeless guy swears he was never in the shop and says he saw Col. Mustard drop the wrench into his shopping cart. A search of Col. Mustard's finances shows that he is in deep caca with the local loan shark = motive to take the money, kill Miss Plum.

Et voila, there are the clues/events you figured out you needed by working backwards from the solution.

This week's link roundup:


Beginnings - 5 tips (Write it Sideways)

What makes a good middle (The Other Side of the Story)

Endings establishing character (Plot to Punctuation)

Writing memorably (Superhero Nation)

Voice with Natalie Fisher (Adventures in Children's Publishing)

More on voice (Dancing With Dragons)

Six fillers to avoid in dialog (Author Culture)

On changing POV (The Other Side of the Story)

Distance and POV (AWP)

Goals and Obstacles Driving your Plot (Help! I Need a Publisher!)

6 Plot Fixes (There Are No Rules)

Breaking the rules of the narrative arc (The Book Deal)

You don't have to show every little detail (Chatterbox Chit Chat)

Overcoming writing tics (Wordplay)


Five top authors - what makes them good? (Tips and Tricks)

Nine fantasy writers share advice (The Enchanted Inkpot)

Sticking with it (Mandy Hubbard)

Some people have all the luck (Denise Jaden)

Reading to be a better writer (Mary Carol Moore)

Permission to suck (Fiction Groupie)

Best and Worst Editor Advice (Beyond the Margins)

Lovely essay for writers (The New Yorker) Thanks to Kate Coombs for this link.


Top 20 Best Oxymorons (Author Culture)

Now go. Write!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Japan Earthquake

When my family and I lived in Japan, we used to talk about how "the big one" could hit at any moment. The last big quake our region had seen was in 1923. We were long overdue. That disaster, the Great Kantō quake, measured 7.9 on the Richter scale. Today's quake was an estimated 8.9.

We used to feel smaller quakes all the time. To be honest, those little ones were kind of fun. The walls would tremble, glass would rattle, but nothing dangerous happened. There were two distinct types we could feel, those that shook the ground back and forth, and those that rolled more like a wave, rising and falling. Despite the small thrill they gave us, they were a constant reminder of the danger of a larger quake hitting. It was frightening to think about, but it was also something we couldn't dwell on, mainly because that would be a waste of energy. All we could do was be prepared. Well, as prepared as you can be when you're at the mercy of Mother Nature.

At my kids' old International School today, the kids were in their 6th period classes when the earthquake struck. Students, teachers, and staff gathered on the football field outside the buildings and stood shivering in the cold without jackets for hours as they waited for the all clear. Even then, since train service was suspended, many were stuck out in Chofu, unable to make it home.

Still, they were lucky. The area has electricity and running water. The buildings weren't damaged. In downtown Tokyo, an auditorium where 600 people - students, family and friends - had gathered for a graduation ceremony collapsed. Our students consider themselves blessed.

My friends who work in downtown Tokyo are all accounted for. Most of them were stranded at their offices for several hours until train service resumed (some lines.) Others walked home, even though they lived miles away. The phones are down, but they have been able to email and text to get news and to confirm that they are OK.

Where my husband lived up in Sendai, it's another story. Buildings crumbled. A 30-foot tsunami washed ashore minutes after the quake hit. Hundreds are dead. Communication in that area has been nonexistent.

Many of my friends express how worried they are about their elderly relatives or friends who are stranded alone with no electricity, no heat. Some of them have been unable to contact their loved ones since the quake struck. They ask for thoughts and prayers on their behalf.

Today, instead of offering a Freebie Friday, I want to switch it around, if you don't mind. Christchurch, New Zealand is still struggling to recover from their disaster. Sendai and surrounding areas in Japan are devastated. Please consider making a donation to the disaster relief organization of your choice. Here's a link to a list of some resources if you don't know where to begin.


Tuesday, March 08, 2011

For Writers - Deadline Survival with Erica O'Rourke

This week's tip comes to you courtesy of Erica O'Rourke, RWA's 2010 YA Golden Heart® winner. I met Erica at the National conference, and got to celebrate her win in person. Her book, TORN went on to earn a multi-book contract from Kensington, and will hit the shelves in July. Erica lives outside of Chicago with her family - including two very bad cats.

You can find Erica online on her website/blog, on twitter, and on facebook.

Erica Says:

So, you are on deadline! Congratulations! Someone – be it an agent or an editor – wants your manuscript on their desk. This is a Yoda moment if ever there was one, people. You don’t “try” to make a deadline. You Do, or Do Not. (And if you are serious about your writing career, go with the former.)

The thing about deadlines is that, while it would be really nice to hit the pause button on the rest of your life and devote yourself exclusively to the creation of luminous, heart-rending prose, life is in no way like a TiVo. You’re going to have to manage real life and writing life simultaneously. I’m currently working on the second and third books in my YA trilogy, as well as preparing for my debut novel’s release. It’s been a whirlwind, but I’ve had ample opportunity over the last eight months to familiarize myself with deadlines and develop a bag of tricks to deal with them. Here are my favorites:

Tip Number One: Think Like A Boy Scout.

In other words, be prepared. On the writing side, make sure your workspace has what you need – notes, outlines, a handy whiteboard, reference books you use frequently, the types of pens you like to use. There’s nothing worse than sitting down at your desk and realizing that the notes you scribbled to yourself the night before, the ones that will resolve the yawning plot hole in the middle of chapter seventeen, are somewhere in the stack of papers on your kitchen counter. Everything else? The stuff you don’t need? Throw it in a grocery bag and put it in the basement. You aren’t going to have time to read the latest issue of Real Simple anyway, so remove the distraction entirely. Soon enough, your desk is going to be covered with post-it notes, half-empty coffee cups, and Luna Bar wrappers, but you might as well start out with a clean worksurface.

On the real life side, accept that things are going to slide, and devise ways to counteract the chaos. Around here, the first thing that goes is my commitment to a tidy kitchen (not that it was ever a terribly strong commitment, but you get the idea). When I know I’m facing a big deadline, I stock up on frozen veggies, pizzas, and Trader Joe’s meals – stuff that I can make quickly – or even better, my husband can make quickly – and doesn’t require every pot in my cabinet. You should also know what areas you aren’t willing to let slide, and schedule in time for those things. At my house, helping our girls with their homework is non-negotiable, so I don’t even try to write during that time.

Tip Number Two: Find The Right Carrot

Meeting a book deadline is like running a marathon. It’s a long slog that gets pretty damn frantic at the end. But for most of the trip, you need a little something to keep yourself motivated. The key is to figure out what that something is. There are, I am told, people who are intrinsically motivated – the sheer rush of meeting their day’s wordcount is sufficient. Perhaps their motivational tool is a bar graph that they color in nightly with smelly markers, or a sticker chart. I have never met these people, but I’m sure they’re charming and not at all smug.

Some of us, however, need something a little more…tangible. A DVD. A dinner at a nice restaurant with their long-suffering spouse. A trip to Disneyworld. Really, it’s whatever carrot is sufficiently tasty enough to keep you going when you’d much rather nap than write another word. The nice thing about extrinsic rewards is that they’re scalable. I can give myself small rewards for making my daily page count (a shower!); medium –sized ones for making my weekly goal (a Panera egg soufflé!) and something awesome for finishing the manuscript altogether (Season Five of Doctor Who on DVD and a nice bottle of wine).

But there’s another motivator, and I think it shouldn’t be ignored: FEAR.

I know approximately how long my manuscript should be. I know when my deadline is. And while I’ve never been much of a math person, I am fairly proficient with both calculator and calendar, so it’s a simple process to determine my daily page count and write a running page count on the calendar. For example, if I need to write three pages a day, I label the squares: 3, 6, 9, 12, 15…all the way to 350. This might seem like overkill, but trust me – skip two days, and the weight of those missed pages will land squarely on your chest at three in the morning. It won’t happen again.

Tip Number Three: Muscle Memory

Muscle memory, if you’re unfamiliar with the term, is when your body repeats a movement frequently enough that you no longer have to consciously think about it. Knitters on their third scarf no longer worry about how to wrap the yarn around the needle, because they’ve done it eleventy-billion times, for example. Ballet dancers can whip through the five feet and arm positions automatically, because they’ve practiced those positions since they were in kindergarten. Writing is no different. Get yourself into a writing routine, and instead of fidgeting in your chair, arranging your pencils, and finding the exact right spot for your coffee cup while you wait for inspiration to strike, you’ll sit down and go-go-go, because your body and brain have been trained to do exactly that. And here’s the beauty of muscle memory: it doesn’t matter what your routine is.

It doesn’t matter where you like to work – coffee shop, library, home office, kitchen table, wherever. Choose a location and stick with it. Train your body to recognize that location as Where Work Happens, and the work will go a lot easier. The same goes for your workstyle: Plotter? Pantser? Do you polish as you go, or write a sloppy first draft? Do you like silence or a soundtrack as you write? It doesn’t matter, so long as you keep to the routine.

Experimenting is good when you’re in the easy-peasy drafting stage, or brainstorming, or trying to fight writer’s block. But when you’re on a deadline and fifteen minutes is the difference between making your word count for the day and (again) waking up at three in the morning in a cold sweat…routine is your friend.

My one caveat is this: don’t let your need for routine turn into a form of procrastination. If you can’t possibly settle down to write because your favorite coffee mug broke, or you ran out of the hot pink post-it-notes, or Panera ran out of bear claws before you arrived, your routine is no longer helping you – it’s restraining you. Try a chocolate croissant or the purple post-its, and get back to work.

Tip Number Four: Nobody Expects The Spanish Inquisition.

Look: disaster is going to strike. Your computer is going to crash. Your kids are going to get sick. Your inlaws are going to come for a visit. There’s no getting around these things, so you might as well plan for them. Build some wiggle room into your schedule – give yourself Saturdays off, for example. When things are going well, you can use that day off as a chance to unwind and recharge your batteries. In bad times, you can use it as a chance to catch up. Consider it preventative maintenance.

And while we’re on the topic of preventative maintenance? Back up your work. Every day. The very last thing I do at night is send a copy of my manuscript to three separate email accounts; I also save a copy to a flash drive. If you back up religiously, odds are good you’ll never need to use it. Forget to back up the day you write that hauntingly beautiful breakup scene? I guarantee your hard drive will fry like an egg while you sleep.

Tip Number Five: Family Matters

Your family and friends love you. They want you to be successful. They want to help. Sadly, they cannot write the words on the page. They also cannot read your mind, so you need to communicate with them. This is a three-pronged approach.

· Explain what you need to do. Make sure your family knows when your deadlines are, and how much time you need each day to get your work done. When I’m on deadline, I get dinner on the table and then get to work for the night. That’s not our normal routine, but in that last month, those few extra hours make a huge difference. And because we’ve talked about it beforehand, my husband isn’t surprised when I say, “Enjoy the pork roast, everybody! See you in the morning!”

· Ask for help. Sometimes this is asking someone to pick your kids up from dance class. Sometimes this is asking your husband to do the laundry, or bring you a fresh cup of coffee. Sometimes this is asking your ten-year-old to watch Sesame Street with her baby sister so that you can finish writing a scene. Your family loves you, and they’d much rather chip in along the way than deal with a category-five freakout two weeks before your manuscript is due.

· Set some rewards. Finishing a book is a major victory – for you, and your loved ones. So once you meet that deadline, celebrate with the people who have made it possible. They’ve watched you work, they’ve been deprived of the pleasure of your company, and they’ve supported you throughout the marathon. In my experience, your family will enjoy spending time with you far more than any gift you can buy, so plan to do something fun – a trip to a museum, a family game night, making cookies together – and don’t think about your manuscript at all while you’re doing it. Besides…you’re going to want to have built up some goodwill before the next deadline comes along.

As always, my advice comes with the following disclaimer: there are many roads to Oz, and what works for me might not work for you, so feel free to cherry-pick. Or, leave your own deadline tips in the comments below. I’m always looking for more tricks to add to my bag.

This week's link roundup:


Getting to know new characters (Don't Pet Me) Four tricks

Talking about voice (Part One) (Part Two) (Part Three) Excellent examples

Creating Emotional Impact (Cheryl's Musings) Let readers see acts of heroism

How to write a page turner (pt. 1) (pt. 2) (pt. 3) (pt. 4) (pt. 5) Thank you, Jurgen Wolff!

Unstoppable characters (Writer's Ally) Make the reader need to follow the story

Sound of Words (Edittorent) Word cadence

Sample Pages - The Big Reveal (Behler Blog) What do they say about your book?

Writing for kids (write or die)

Writing Men (A Brain Scientist's Take on Writing)


The story in what you don't say (Other Side of the Story) Cool link

Story Arcs (Book Dreaming) Increase tension by applying arcs to individual scenes

Expanded story elements checklists (Alexandra Sokoloff) Acts I & II up so far. I seriously suggest following her... She has so much great information on her blog!

Backstory Informs Frontstory (Plot Whisperer) Backstory is not the story


Perfectionist's Guide to Editing (JamiGold) Four phases

Now go. Write!