Wednesday, April 25, 2012

For Writers - So. Much. Good. Stuff.

First day of the conference w/ Claire & Nancy
Wow, I wish I could have taken you all with me to the Missouri Writers' Guild Conference this weekend. It was fantastic. Organizers Deb Marshall and Tricia Sanders were amazing, and the lineup was superb. I got to hang out with the likes of Claire Cook (who has a fantastic spa giveaway going on to celebrate her upcoming Wallflower in Bloom) and Christy Craig (who just hit the Times list with her CC Hunter Shadow Falls series! Yay, Christy!) and learn from some of my favorite writing gurus, Jane Friedman and Christina Katz.

Here are some of the nuggets of wisdom I picked up from Claire:

"Rise above the negativity."  "Be who you really are." "When times get tough, do something nice for someone else instead of being needy." "Connect with people and find out how you can help them." "Get your tech together."

On finding time to write:

"Slow it down. Put the other stuff out of your head."  "Put the pages first - prioritize." "Pick one thing as your main writing focus."

On revisions:

"The best writers are the ones who know how to rewrite."  "When you revise, do dedicated passes, looking at characterization, chapter endings, scene tension, etc., etc."

This week's link roundup:

Perfecting your First Page (Jane Friedman) Jane's notes from the conference

Fear of Failure (Creative Penn)

Protecting Your Writing Files (The Other Side of the Story) Back up!

12 Inspiring Quotes About Writing (PRDaily)

9 Ways to Find Time to Write (Victoria Mixon)

7 Dialog Tips to Tighten Your Story (Jody Hedlund)

5 Top Social Media Blunders You Shouldn't Make (Nathan Bransford) (Ack! Been doing #1!)

Categorizing Your Novel (Beyond the Margins)

Analyzing What yo Read to Improve Your Writing (Children's Publishing)

Why Morning Routines are Creativity Killers (Time) Hmmm. What do you think?

Best Advice for Writers - Keep Moving Forward (WriterUnboxed)

A Writer's Life is Full of 2nd Chances (Writer Unboxed)

Everything You Wanted to Know About Writing for MG (D&G)  <<< Awesomeness.

Story Structure: Inciting Incident (Wordplay)

Or... Alexandra Sokoloff's opposing view of the same (The Dark Salon)

Writing Your Way (Genreality)

Q&A with Kate DiCamillo (JSOnline)

Your Brain on Cookies (BTM part one) (BTM part two)

Opening Pages that Hook (The Other Side of the Story)

What's at the Heart of Your Fear? (Ginger Calem)

Overactive or Inactive Characters or Subplots (Writers Digest)

How Deliberate Practice Can Make You a Better Writer (Writer Beware)

Nephele Tempest's Recap of LA Festival of Books (Writing and Rambling)

Make the Bad Guy Badder (Christina Lee)

Un-Walkawayable (Project Mayhem)

Change of Heart (

Market Smarter, Not Harder (Elana Johnson)

Juggling all the Balls (CoraRamos)

Now go out your pages first and Write!

Thursday, April 05, 2012

For Writers - Setting Priorities

Happy hump day! Half-way to the weekend! Any cool plans? I'm off to the Missouri Writer's Guild conference to talk about mysteries and writing for teens and tweens. I just found out Claire Cook will be riding from the airport with me. Have you read her books? She's super adorable.

Anyway, this conference leaves me with a whole lot to get done before I leave, and not a lot of time to do it... which leads me to this week's tip: setting priorities.

Imagine you have a big bowl on your counter. Next to it are five oranges, a bag of peanuts, and two cups of popcorn kernels. You need to fit everything into the bowl. You can try this if you want to, but believe me when I tell you, if you dump the popcorn in first, toss in the peanuts, and then try to fit in the oranges, it's not going to fit. The little things took up too much space.

So imagine you put the oranges in first. They fit perfectly. And all the open spaces between the oranges? You can tuck the peanuts into those spaces. Now, carefully pour the popcorn kernels over the entire thing. They will find the even smaller spaces and sift into the bowl so that most everything fits.

Now imagine that the bowl is your writing time. The oranges represent you at the keyboard (or notepad), putting the story on the page. The peanuts represent fact-checking, revising, line-editing. That leaves us with the popcorn kernels. These represent all the other fun things we do to boost our creativity while writing the story... this can include creating character collages, maps of the setting, connecting with our writing friends on twitter and facebook for encouragement and commiseration. Note that if we've first put in the writing time (oranges), some of the popcorn kernels (online playground) slip in quite easily. Not all of them will fit - but the payoff is that we have words on the page... because we put them first.

Having said that, um... here's this week's list of links. Prioritize as you see fit. : )

The Tube-Fed Bride (Ginger Calem - Writer's Butt)

Writing Advice from Cory Doctorow (advicetowriters) Interview

Writing Advice from Lauren Oliver (LaurenOliver)

E.B. White on the Role and Responsibility of the Writer (Brain Pickings)

On Voice: Grit, Style, and Credence (Beyond the Margins)

Writing and the Art of Taking Criticism (Children's Publishing)

The Terrible Beauty of Understatement (Beyond the Margins)

The Good Seed (Writer Unboxed) On germinating great ideas by Donald Maass

How to write a 1-Page Synopsis (Publishing Crawl)

Advice to Aspiring Authors (Megan Crewe)

The Role of Reversal in Fiction (Beyond the Margins)

10 Misconceptions on Writing for Children (Writer's Digest)

Who is Your Target Reader? (Writer's Digest)

The Power of Words (Beyond the Margins)

On Word Choice (Gail Carson Levine)

Why Writing Through Resistance is Essential (Writability)

On Pushing Yourself to be Better (Writer Unboxed)

How to Balance Dialog and Description (Write it Sideways)

Ways to be a More Productive Writer (The Other Side of the Story - pt 1) (TOSOTS - pt 2)

The Power of What If (Romance University)

The True Essence of Character (Live, Write, Thrive)

6 Essential Elements for Riveting Novels (Paul Anthony Shortt)

Crafting that First Scene (How to Write a Novel)

When Not to Tell Your Character's Backstory (Wordplay)

Plotting and the Premise (Writing Fiction Right)

Writing that First Line (The Writer's Alley)

Writing Truthfully in Imaginary Circumstances (Writers in the Storm)

Discipline can be a Good Thing (A Writer's Life)

4 Key Elements Every Pitch Needs (Romance University)

Gotcha Blurbs - Easy and Fun to Write (Writers in the Storm)

Making Readers Turn the Page (Novel Rocket)

Character Connection (Seeing Creative)

The Good Seed - How's Your Premise? (Writer Unboxed)

Shape Up Flabby Writing (Write it Sideways)

Goals: Does Every Character Need the Same One? (The Other Side of the Story)

Now go manage your time well, and write!

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

For Writers - Close Your Eyes and Breathe

Spring sprang while we were in AZ, and painted my neighborhood in emeralds
and golds for our return. The flowers at the garden centers have started to call to me, daring me to thumb my nose at the last frost date and bring them home. I might cave if it weren't for the weeds I have to wrestle from the beds before I can even think about planting. Or the deer who have returned to grace my yard just in time to munch on my hosta. Or the lawn mower that refuses start because I forgot to get it tuned up in the fall. My grass is so long, my dog has to hop around the yard like a bunny or she'll get lost in it. Still, the spring sunshine beckons me outside. The lilacs have begun to perfume the air, so that when I close my eyes and breathe, I forget I have things to do.

In short, I've been away from my desk more than usual and have no writing tip to offer this week, BUT I do have a long list of links to share. Enjoy!

Show vs. Tell from CS Lewis (Letters of Note) Brilliant

Showing and Telling Emotion in Fiction (Writer Unboxed)

Read Your Way to Better Writing (Write it Sideways)

Subtext of Character Growth (The Science of Story)

Two Types of Key Questions (The Science of Story)

Query Letter Anatomy - What to Include (Writers' Relief)

Mixing the 36 Dramatic Situations to Find Something Fresh (Adventures in YA Publishing)

Conflict and Its Importance (Utterances of a Overcrowded Mind) Writing for Success series

True Grit as a Writer (Write it Forward - Bob Mayer) Strategic Goals

Voice - the Key to Literary Magic, Part 1 (Kristin Lamb)
Voice - Spark Literary Magic, Part 2 (Kristin Lamb)

Permission to Use Quotes in Your Writing (Bookends, LLC)

Making Depressing Characters Likable (Sharp Angles)

How to Fix a Flat Novel in Three Easy Steps (Between the Margins)

3 Deep Characteristics About Dialog (

5 Ways to Liven up a Description (DIY MFA)

Description vs Exposition (DIY MFA)

Romancing Remuneration (Jane Friedman)

Searching for a Scene (Fiction Notes)

How to Plot without Plotting (Writability)

Which Comes First: Character, World, or Plot? (Paranormal POV)

Advanced Write Tight (Writers in the Storm)

This is your Brain on Metaphors (The Creativity Post)

Writing the Other Scene (Moody Blog)

Why You Should Kill Your Darlings (Wordplay)

Now go enjoy the day... and write!

RADIATE by Marley Gibson

HAPPY RELEASE DAY TO MARLEY!!!! For those of you who don't know Marley Gibson, she's the fascinating author of the GHOST HUNTRESS series, Christmas collections with Cecil Murphy, and more. She's also the real-life inspiration for her new book, RADIATE:

Marley's celebrating with an online pep rally on her website. You can join the party (and win prizes!) here: