Friday, May 25, 2007

Friday's Feast!

"In the case of good books, the point is not how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you."
~Mortimer Adler
It's Friday *and* I have the day off, making for a lovely 4 day weekend! Considering last night was a late one, what with induction of some of my students into National Honor Society, the chance to sleep in 'til a whopping 6:45 was almost luxurious!

Anyway, I have an important question for all you readers today, below, the Friday Feast. Please let me know your thoughts!!

Appetizer : Name a sound you like to hear.

Birds in the early morning. Hubby can't stand it, says it wakes him out of a deep sleep, but I like the fact that it's finally spring/summer. Also, the peeper frogs at night. We just opened our pool yesterday, and they were thrilled: a frog symphony all night long!

Soup : What is your favorite kind of cheese?

Either brie or really good, fresh mozzerella.

Salad: Do you sleep late on Saturday mornings? Why or why not?

Well, late is anything past my normal, teacher-day wakeup of 5:30, so yes, I usually sleep in a couple of hours past that on the weekends just because I need to!

Main Course: When was the last time you forgot something? What was it, and how long did it take to remember it?

Umm...I often forget my cell phone in the morning when I'm leaving for work. On a good day, I'll remember it before I get down the driveway. On a bad day...well, what's so important about me that people have to call me out on the road, anyway?

Dessert: Fill in the blank: I notice ____________ when _____________.

I notice I am happiest with myself and other people when I've had enough sleep and get to exercise on a regular basis.

And the very important question for today is,

What do you like to see on book covers?

The reason I'm asking is because I'm in the process of choosing/finalizing a cover for my first novel, One Night in Boston, that's being published by Samhain, and I'm stuck between 2 great ones that my cover artist came up with. One has a character on the front, my heroine, and the other doesn't.

So do you like it when characters' faces/bodies are on the front cover, or does that spoil the effect of creating them in your mind as you read? Would you rather have a more generic landscape scene or artistic design? Or doesn't it matter to you at all?

Thanks, and have a great holiday weekend!!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Three More Writing Links

"Every writer I know has trouble writing."
~Joseph Heller

Congrats to Mel, the winner of a $5 Amazon gift certificate from a random drawing of everyone who commented on yesterday's blog! Mel, email me at and let me know which email address to send the GC to.

Today, I've no time for musings, long-winded or otherwise, so I'm sharing 3 links to writing sites that look pretty cool:

Creative Writing Prompts is chock-full of prompt ideas to jump-start your writing, and in light of yesterday's blog post, I thought you might find it helpful.

Dan Poynter is well-known for his advice on self-promotion, so check out his site for a variety of information.

Finally, Once Written provides, among other things, free content for bloggers, on those days when you just have nothing interesting to say. Pay them a visit as well!

By the way, I'm looking to feature interviews with writers, published or aspiring, in the next few weeks for Writers' Wednesday, so if you're interested, leave me a comment or email me at

Have a great day!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Writers' Wednesday: How To Jump Start Your Writing Schedule

I almost titled this Wednesday’s blog post “101 Things to do Besides Work on your Novel/Article/Short Story,” but then I figured most people already had the skill of procrastination mastered.

What do you do when you don’t want to write? I mean, most of us writers, published or not, newbies or veterans, enjoy the magic, the thrill, of the creative process. We like to dream up alternate worlds, we like to create storylines, we like to develop characters and see what happens to them.

Sometimes, though, we struggle with the actual process of writing. It’s hard work. It doesn’t always go smoothly. At times it’s downright frustrating, and we feel as though anything that comes out on the page is stupid and worthless.

So I thought today I’d offer up some suggestions for jump-starting your writing, ones that have worked for me. If you have others, leave me a comment and share! Also, today will be the last day I’ll be holding a drawing from all my posters’ names to win a $5 Amazon gift certificate. So jump on in!

P.S. – I have some author interviews coming up on future Writers’ Wednesdays…make sure to stop back and check them out!

1. Set your alarm and write for 15 minutes. Sometimes, the hardest thing is actually sitting down and facing the next scene you have to write. So give yourself a very limited window in which to work on it. You might find that after 15 minutes, you’ll be on a roll and want to continue. Or, you can save your work, pack it away, and be done until your next 15 minutes.

2. Go outside. Find a place to write that’s different from the norm. Take your laptop, or notebook, onto the front porch. Or down to the corner park. Or to the sidelines of your child’s game. Especially now that the weather’s nicer in most places, being outside might inspire your writing.

3. Go to a different room. Instead of writing in your office, try the living room. Or the basement. Or the coffee shop downtown. Again, changing your setting might inspire change and progress in your writing.

4. Use a writing prompt. You can find them easily enough by typing “writing prompts” into any Internet search engine. Writing without the specific purpose of finishing a story or polishing a chapter can free up your creative juices.

5. Eat some chocolate. It’s proven to raise your endorphins, which in turn improves your mood, which might just make you want to tackle that next plot development.

6. And speaking of raising endorphins, get moving. Go outside and walk. Or take a kickboxing class at the gym. Or garden. Or play catch with your kids. Anything that gets the blood circulating perks up your attention, your mood, your energy level…

7. Play the "what if" game. This is one of my favorite ways to get out of a writing rut. Think of a crazy situation for your main character: What if he decided to leave home and live in a tree for a year? Then go further. What if he met another man who decided to do the same thing? What if one of them was dying from cancer? What if they discovered they were somehow related? I try to be outrageous as possible, because sometimes you get actual ideas for plot twists from this game. At the very least, it's kind of fun.

8. Reward yourself. Set up a system where you can have a dish of ice cream if you write 1000 words. Or go shopping for a new pair of shoes when you finish the first half of your novel. Or rent that movie you’ve been dying to see when you revise your sagging middle chapter.

9. Comment on someone else’s work. If you belong to a writers’ group, post some feedback for another member. Or write an Amazon review of a book you recently read. Taking a step back to objectively view someone else’s writing can steer you in a better direction when it comes to your own.

10. Read. Read a new book by a new author. Or a favorite book by a well-loved author. Or a book that’s outside the genre you normally choose. Remind yourself how you enjoy words on a page, words telling a story, words filling up the spaces in our world.

Finally, tape up something near your workspace to inspire you every day: maybe it’s a picture of your family, or a copy of the first positive email you received from an editor, or a postcard of a serene Monet painting you love, or a news article about your favorite author’s rags-to-riches story.

Good luck!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

An Interesting Writing Tip

"Easy reading is damn hard writing."
~Nathaniel Hawthorne

At my local RWA chapter meeting last month, one of the members, a published author, shared a piece of writing advice that was so simple and yet so profound (for me, anyway). Here it is:

When two characters are talking, don't have either one of them say something they both already know.

I had never heard that piece of advice before, but it makes perfect sense, when you think about it. For instance, you wouldn't have this kind of conversation between two best friends:

Jill: Steve hasn't called. It's been three days since I told him about the baby. [The best friend would most likely already know this.] What am I supposed to do? [The first sentence is new information, so it can stay. The question at the end can stay too. But the middle one, old news, should be taken out.]

Sharlene: Well, you could wait him out. He's done this before, you know. Remember the time you caught him in bed with your cousin? [These last 2 sentences are the author trying to put in back story. Jill most likely doesn't need any reminding about the cousin.]

Jill: Yeah, but he said he'd been drugged and didn't know how he got there. [Again, Sharlene as the best friend would already know this.]

Sharlene: So call his cell phone. His boss'll have a fit if he gets a call on the jobsite, but if he's ignoring your messages, he deserves it. [The first sentence, a new piece of advice/info, would be okay. The second would be something that Jill, carrying this guy's baby, would probably know.]

So, a revising of the above conversation would look something like this:

Jill: Steve still hasn't called. What am I supposed to do?

Sharlene: Well, you could wait him out. Or call his cell phone.

After that brief exchange, I'd probably continue the conversation with new ideas about how to deal with Steve, or maybe Jill's feelings about the fact she's carrying some schmuck's baby. Most important, it would be all new information. The only exception to this that I can think of would be when a character repeats information for effect or emphasis. Otherwise, eliminating all the extra info above makes for tighter writing and more believable dialogue.

I just love this advice and am applying it to my edits and my current WIP.

Try it -- you might find it helpful too!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Pictures from my Weekend

Happy Monday! Yes, I made it back from Cleveland tired but happy and in one piece. Had a terrific visit, too. The major event we were in town for was the annual 10K and Marathon, which I've run many times. It was the first 10K I ever ran (that's 6. 2 miles, by the way), 10+ years ago, so I return as often as I can for sentimental reasons.

This year, my mom and sister ran as well (only my sister was crazy enough to run the marathon, which she finished in 3:15--average marathon time is 4:05--and as the 9th woman out of 500+). Here are some pics:

The Night Before, with my mom and younger sister in the lobby of the la-de-da hotel where we stayed in downtown Cleveland

The morning of the race, Mom and I getting ready to tackle 6.2 miles!

There I am, waving at hubby, at about 5 miles (I passed the woman in front of me, right after he snapped the picture, by the way:) )

Bringing in my Mom after I finished

Overall we had a good showing: my sister and mom both placed 2nd in their age groups, and I held my own for a decent 33rd in my own. Considering 10,000 people turned out to run, not too bad, hmm?