It's almost time for the 2014 "30 Days, 30 Stories" Project!

Look for details for this year's project soon!

Last year's project was great! We had a fabulous selection of work. To read (or reread), click HERE for the first story.

And remember to leave a comment! We *LOVE* comments!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Using Lists to Write

I don't know about you, but one of the best ways I know of to find ideas for writing is by writing lists. I LOVE lists. So when I found this article "50 Lists to Write to Lift Your Spirits," I immediately saw the application this could have for writing and character development. I think it would be a lot of fun to take one of these lists and make the list as if you were a character from your story.

List as many as you can:
  1. People who have influenced or inspired you
  2. Things you are grateful for
  3. Places you have been
  4. Places you want to go
  5. Books you’ve read
  6. Your favorite things – what brings you joy?
  7. Good things that happened this week
  8. The best things that happened in the last year
  9. The best days of your life.
  10. The songs for the soundtrack of your life
  11. Acts of kindness you’ve committed
  12. Things you want your children to know about you
  13. Reasons why you love your significant other
  14. The high points for your autobiography
  15. People who love you
  16. The cutest things your kids ever said
  17. Everything you would do if money were no object
  18. Favorite gifts you’ve ever received
  19. Favorite gifts you’ve ever given
  20. Occupations that you have ever wanted to have (including when you were a child)
  21. The best advice you’ve gotten.
  22. The worst advice you’ve gotten.
  23. Things you’re procrastinating
  24. Ways you calm yourself down when you’re angry.
  25. The best ideas you’ve ever had
  26. The best projects or organizations you’ve ever been involved with
  27. The ways you have grown since your early 20’s
  28. The most beautiful things you’ve ever seen
  29. The greatest lessons you have learned
  30. Life’s lessons that you learned the hard way
  31. Things that have mad you laugh until you cried.
  32. Qualities you most admire in others
  33. Qualities others most admire in you
  34. The elements of an ideal year
  35. All the compliments you’ve ever gotten
  36. Foods that you have eaten that are so good that others could hear you enjoying them
  37. The times you have asserted yourself
  38. Things that inspire and energize you
  39. The places where you feel completely comfortable to be yourself
  40. The most important turning points in your life
  41. Times when you looked and felt your absolute best
  42. The things you’re good at
  43. What you would do with the power of invisibility
  44. Things you want to teach your children
  45. Things you still want to do in life
  46. Bits of trivia that most people don’t know about you
  47. The things you love about your body
  48. Accomplishments you are most proud of
  49. The things you love about your home
  50. Who (living or dead) you would invite to your dream dinner party

See the full article here

Anxiety-Free Submissions

Want to submit your writing but don't want to suffer the anxiety and fear that comes with wondering how it will be received? May I suggest the Journal of Ultimate Rejection?

http://www.math.pacificu.edu/~emmons/JofUR/

Friday, January 28, 2011

New Releases of OpenOffice.org and LibreOffice

by Scott Rhoades

As writers, our choice of writing tools are extensions of our minds and hands. What we use to write is very important to us. There've been a couple of releases in the past week or so that are worth mentioning. The first is the release of OpenOffice.org 3.3, and the second is the release of the new kid on the block, LibreOffice 3.3.

I'm not going to get into all the new features of the new OpenOffice.org. Most are likely to have little noticeable impact on our daily writing activities, although the more deeply you use the program, the more you're likely to notice.

But I will rave over one new feature.

I have an Internet acquaintance who writes extensions for Writer, the word processing part of the OpenOffice.org suite. A couple years ago, I suggested an extension for the one thing that's missing from the major word processors: a Find toolbar. When I'm revising, especially when I'm making changes from marked-up hard copy, it annoys me to have to open a dialog box to search for a particular place in my text. That always means opening a little window that covers part of the text, so you always have to open and close it as you go through your documents. So many apps have a Find toolbar. Why do all the word processors lack such an obvious user interface improvement. My friend loved the idea, but he never wrote the extension. Probably because this toolbar was in the spec for 3.3.

Microsoft Office 2010 lets you open a Navigation pane with a Find toolbar. This pane sits to the side of the document, where it's out of the way. That's not bad. But you still have to open something separate. That's a minor quibble, though. The new Navigation features are pretty nice.

OpenOffice.org 3.3 puts the Find toolbar right where I want it, on the toolbar at the top of the document window. Because OpenOffice.org allows you to customize your toolbars in ways that Word users can only dream of (I admit it--I love to customize my workspace so it works the way I like, and the tools I use are handy while those I don't use are out of the way or are out of sight completely), I can (theoretically--I haven't actually done it yet, since I just installed 3.3 today) move the new Find toolbar to a convenient location.

I've been using MS Office 2010 more lately, although I really prefer OpenOffice.org. I was able to buy Office through a program at work for a staggering $10, which pretty much negates OpenOffice.org's most obvious benefit: it's free. (Maybe I'll write about why I prefer OpenOffice.org to Word in a future post. Hint: It has nothing--OK, little--to do with the price and everything to do with functionality.) I think Office 2010's new collaboration and online features are interesting and compelling, although I haven't actually needed to use them yet. But this Find toolbar, even if it seems to be a little thing, is a huge deal to me. It's something I cry for every time I make changes from my crit group. This alone will encourage me to use OpenOffice.org more.

Or it would, if not for the new kid on the block.

LibreOffice 3.3 is a new fork of OpenOffice.org, released this week. Its reason for existence is a long story, probably of little interest to most readers of this blog. In short, it was started when Oracle bought Sun, who "owned" and was the main supporter of the open-source OpenOffice.org project. Based on Oracle's history of not supporting open-source projects all that well, a whole mess o' key OpenOffice.org developers jumped ship and started a new project based on the older program. You can do that with open source.

You won't notice a lot of difference between OpenOffice.org 3.3 and LibreOffice 3.3. They are built on the same code base, although LibreOffice has supposedly cleaned up the source code considerably to improve efficiency, added a handful of unique features, and made some slight differences in the interface. However, because LibreOffice is no longer tied to OpenOffice.org or Oracle, and because many of the top engineers from the older program are working on the new guy now, it's worth watching. LibreOffice (a name that could change in the future) will probably change faster and more dramatically than its mother application. New generations are like that: rebellious, inventive, and a bit iconoclastic. One of my favorite changes in LibreOffice is the streamlined installation that gets rid of--finally--OpenOffice.org's annoying request to register after you install. Why should you need to register an open-source application? I also love that LibreOffice automatically pulled in my OpenOffice.org templates and macros.

And, of course, LibreOffice also has my Find toolbar, a wonderful early Valentine's Day gift.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Writer Zen: We Are Our Own Protagonists

by Deren Hansen

As the protagonist approaches the climax of our novel, we pull out all the stops, throw ever thing at them, and turn what was a difficult situation into an impossible one. It's a good thing real life isn't like that-- except sometimes it is.

I spent most of yesterday expecting to find time to write up a note to post here, but there was always one more thing that required my attention. I resolutely fought through the legions of time-sucking details until I managed to clear some time in the evening. I signed on ready to write when, like drawbridge raising just before gaining the castle, I was met with a maintenance notice. I could almost hear the antagonist, doomed damsel in his clutches, on the battlements above cackling at my plight.

I hope that doesn't sound overly dramatic, but it gave me cause to consider the ways in which writing a novel is like the journey of the hero in our stories. We undertake the project confident we're up to the task of embodying our vision. There are set-backs along the way, with which we deal. And at least once during the project there comes a time that things look very dark and the prospect of finishing seems impossibly remote.

Mount Doom (Wikipedia)
With my own projects, I've often felt a real kinship with Frodo marching across the plains of Mordor: the end is plainly in sight yet it feels as though neither of us is ever going to get to the end. The analogy seems particularly strong when I have only a few chapters left to write--I know exactly where they're going and they're chock full of exciting stuff--but Heaven and Hell seem to be conspiring to use up my every waking moment.

I recognize those situations as the time for renewed resolve. And I console myself with the thought that the degree of opposition I feel must be a sign that I'm producing something really good.

But what it really comes down to--what sets us apart as novelists--is that, like our protagonists, we doggedly push through to the end.


Deren blogs daily at The Laws of Making.
Image: luigi diamanti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

KISS

No, not the band. I honestly don't know if I could name one of their songs. (Makes me sound young, I know.) I'm using the KISS acronym here. Keep It Simple Stupid.

What can I possibly be referring to in reference to writing? A few months ago, I finally finished Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson. I thought it was wonderfully written. I honestly praise Brandon for his smooth writing ability. However, there was one part in the entire book that I sat there thinking, "Really Brandon, it takes three pages to explain how he goes from one part of the city to another?"

Not to pick on Brandon (Seriously, he's published and I'm not), but my point with this is I got the idea of what was going on in a few paragraphs. I felt like I got the effect after the first page. I understood what he was attempting to do. He was showing us how cool this power is, just how powerful his main character was. I, however, was wondering why it takes this very powerful man three pages to simply cross the town.

Unfortunately, there's a thing about this word 'simple.' What I mean by that is, you do get to expound on it. Showing with your writing means that you're expanding the simple. The simplest thing would be to tell: "And he used magic to cross the city." But I think if you take pages to show us what everyone did during dinner, you may have a problem. However, if dinner is an important event: an argument, a discovery, or something else crucial, then it can take longer. But if nothing important to the story is happening, do what you can to show, but don't go into overdrawn description.

I love description. I'm guilty of being long-winded. During LDStorymakers' Boot Camp in April last year, the first thing that one of my group members said about my book was "Info dump". Yeah, wanted to give up writing and cry. (And then one of the other members of the boot camp group goes on to win awards for her writing. Thanks a lot Julie!) :) My point, however, is that you want to be careful. Keep things simple. Expound what's important. Shorten what isn't. Keep your strategy simple....stupid.

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Characters and Cliche

By Julie Daines

Dear Cliche,
We are always taught to avoid you. But, isn't there a way for you to be useful?
Sincerely,
Troubled Writer

Dear Troubled Writer,
Why, yes. There is.  Let me explain:

I can be very useful when you use me in the form of Stereotypes.  You want to develop characters with depth.  I can help you get started.

Look at your cast of characters.  Assign them each a stereotypical trait.

Harry: Reserved
Ron: Funny
Hermione: Bookish

Then take those stereotypes and dig deep until you unearth a whole world of complex traits that grow and take shape throughout the story.

Harry: Reserved, self-doubting but with quiet determination, resourceful, temperamental, brave.
Ron: Funny, coward, complainer, envious of other's accomplishments, loyal friend.
Hermione: Bookish, smart, condescending, sure of herself, opinionated, honest, responsible.

And the list could go on.  But if you, dear writer, can find a starting place for your characters in the world of cliche, you can grow them into something individual, dynamic, and unforgettable.  Work with them and mold them until you know the secret desires of their hearts--and what they do when no one is looking.

Good Luck.
Love,
Cliche.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Your Characters’ Characters

I was reading a first person book the other day. It was rather good and made me laugh when I came across a typo over halfway through where someone referred to the main character as ‘she’ instead of ‘he.’ When they said that repeatedly I realized that it had never particularly said ‘he’ before. I’d imagined the first scene as a boy and stuck with it to the point where I figured they’d actually said something about him being male.

Well with that new realization I read it again changing my mind images around a bit—the romantic hints finally made sense!

The experience reminded me of when my sister freaked out because she didn’t want a specific character in my book to betray the others when I told her that he did. After finishing the book she told me that she wouldn’t have cared if I hadn’t told her how cool he was earlier because the book didn’t portray him as in my description to her earlier.

Getting to the point finally; make sure your characters’ characters get into the book--including their gender and general age.

We hear it over and over again; don’t have your character say something s/he wouldn’t say just to have something said. Find a way for your characters to get there without violating themselves.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Kill Your Darlings

by Scott Rhoades

There's quite a lot of disagreement over who first suggested that writers will improve their work if they'll "kill their darlings," but whoever said it was right and many of us hate him or her for it. This doesn't mean kill off your characters. It means look for your favorite bits of writing in a story and delete them.

How often have you been excited to take a favorite chapter, or even a favorite passage, to your writing group or to show it to friends, only to have it ripped to shreds, not because it's poor writing but because it's too good, so good that it stands out from the rest of the work like a sore thumb, calls attention to itself, and just doesn't fit?

Chances are it's a passage where you "create a more realistic setting" by showing how much research you did. Or maybe it's a brilliantly detailed description. Perhaps you got so into an idea that you created a long, brilliant scene, written perfectly, that does nothing for your characters or plot, even if it is tremendously fun to read.

When you edit, look for those places where a phrase or word or scene stands out, one that makes you feel proud and maybe even a little brilliant because it sprang out of your head. Then delete it or tone it down. It will hurt, but in the long run it will be for the best.

Sounds easy enough, but it's not. Chances are good you won't be able to spot these bits in your own writing, even if you're good and finding them in other people's work. And if you do find them yourself, you'll probably feel good about them and leave them in because you really like them. They are your darlings, after all.

This is reason number 873 why it's important to be part of a good writing group. They'll point out your darlings, and then you'll go home from the group disappointed and a little bitter, probably feeling like they would have liked it better if they were bright enough to get it. And then you'll remember that you're part of that group because they are smart enough to get it and, as much as it stings, you'll consider what they said and, more often than not, you'll reluctantly realize they might possibly have been right.

Don't actually kill your darlings, though. Nobody wants to get rid of such brilliant writing. Cut them and paste them into another file, where you can save them and put them back in after you've tried the story without them for a while. You'll rarely ever actually put them back in, though. Once you've lived with the story after killing those poor darlings, you'll most likely discover that the story is better without them.

Killing your darlings hurts. It might be the hardest thing about revising. Often, those darlings really are your most creative, artistic writing. But they stand out and distract the reader, and they have to go.

You'll miss them. Terribly. But nobody else will. Grieve for them. Cry for them. But get rid of them.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

"The Economics of Book Covers" from the Freakonomics blog

This was an interesting article on book covers from Freakonomics. I thought I'd share the link with you.

http://freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/01/20/the-economics-of-book-covers/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+FreakonomicsBlog+(Freakonomics+Blog)

Time. It's Priceless.



"Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you." ~ Carl Sandburg ~

Time.
It's what we complain about lacking no matter where we are in life or what we are doing.
Time.
It doesn't matter that every single person has 24 hours in a day.  Yours is much shorter than mine, right?
What can we do about making time for writing?
Did you catch that?
I wrote "making time" not "finding time." There is a difference.
Writing is a choice.
Sometimes it's easier to choose to read and answer emails. Or check on my friends on Facebook. Or watch Castle.
Those are all good choices, come on!
But I really, really want to finish my WIP. How about you?

Here's a few ideas to help you make time for writing:
Choose writing-Need I say more?
Find the best time of day-When are you more productive? 5:30 AM? Midnight? For me it's after the kids go to school. The house is quiet, my tummy is full and I'm ready to write.
Write during your best time of day-Stay focused! Write. Edit. Whatever you're doing for your writing, stay in the zone.
Turn off the Internet, turn off your phone, turn off your email-For me I have to turn off my little email icon. It loves to remind me of all the cool people who like me and write to me.
Reward yourself-After you've accomplished your writing goal for the day you'll feel exhilarated. That's reward enough! I like to reward myself with turning my email back on and eating some chocolate.

Do you have any tips on making time for writing?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Minimal Speech Tag Framework

by Deren Hansen

Writing Wednesday

In ideal prose, the dialog is so distinct that the reader knows the identity of the speaker without any additional attribution.

In practice, the ideal is rarely achieved and dialog requires attribution.

A Minimal Speech Tag Framework

Cardinal Rule: The reader must never be confused about who is speaking.

Strategy: Employ a consistent pattern of attribution so that your readers eyes slide right past the tags.

Attribution Rules
  1. Use said and asked almost all the time. An alternate tag might occasionally be warranted, but you'd better have a very good reason.
  2. Use the form "Fred said", not "said Fred." "Said" comes last in the prepositional form ("said he" sounds archaic). There's no reason not to be consistent (aside from the long fashion of using the said-first form).
  3. Only apply adverbs to "said" that qualify the physical act of speaking. Using adverbs to convey something about the emotional state of the speaker is lazy writing. You're telling the reader something about the way the character spoke if you say "said loudly" (and more direct verbs like shouted or cried aren't appropriate).
  4. Use associated beats to convey non-verbal communication and show the emotion state of the speaker. A beat is a sentence in the same paragraph as the dialog that describes what the speaker is doing or feeling.
  5. Omit speech tags when it's clear who is speaking. Use tags or beats to identify the speakers periodically so that the reader doesn't lose track of speaker order.
  6. Use speech tags whenever speaker order changes. In general, you are only able to omit speech tags when two characters speak in alternating lines.
What do you think? Does this framework help answer your speech tag questions?


Deren blogs daily at The Laws of Making.
Image: Simon Howden / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Writing is Hard Work

by Deren Hansen

Writing Wednesday

Someone, perhaps one of the agents whose blogs I follow, observed that, "Many people who say they want to write really mean that they want to have written." That is, many people aspire to be writers because they would like to be in the position of receiving the attention paid to someone who has published a book.

Writing is hard work. Rachelle Gardner commented on this a few months ago in a post entitled, "Is Writing Fun?" She said,
"Personally, I don’t enjoy the process of writing, but I do enjoy the results of what I write. However, I know many of my clients, fiction authors especially, love their writing time. For them, that creative flow is energizing. They love being in their made-up worlds and hanging out with their fictional characters and find it an enjoyable “escape” from the hard work of real life."
She went on to explain,
"But if you decide you really want to go for it, then you’ll be ready to accept and deal with the truth: Writing a novel is hard work. You’ll be able to commit to the work, hoping eventually there’ll be a payoff meaning that you’ll enjoy the results of your labor. That doesn’t necessarily mean being published, but simply enjoying your story on the page, and enjoying the feeling of accomplishment. In that way, it can still be a labor of love even if it’s hard work.

"Let’s keep in mind that the ultimate “labor of love,” giving birth, is not in the least enjoyable and in fact involves great pain. It’s the result that makes it a labor of love. Sorry, I know you’re a guy and all, but this is a good analogy. In fact, one of the things that defines a “labor of love” is the fact that a task can be extremely difficult and unpleasant, but the results are so “worth it” that you do it anyway. I don’t think “labor of love” means something is supposed to be fun."
There's an important difference between satisfying hard work and a joyless chore. Some people say that you write because you have to; that you shouldn't write for a living if you can do anything else. I think those sentiments are shorthand for the fact that writing is hard work--the kind of hard work that not many people find satisfying. If you find writing to be a joyless chore, that's a good sign that you should do something else.


Deren blogs daily at The Laws of Making.
Image: Simon Howden / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Monday, January 10, 2011

Never Name Emotions


By: Julie Daines

How many times have we heard, “Show don’t tell”? So many times that it goes in one ear and out the other? So often that we’ve stopped considering what that really means?

Here’s one quick and easy way to spot telling: Any time you use the name of an emotion to describe the emotion, it’s usually telling.

Examples of telling:

Anger burned inside me.

Relief flooded through her. (Any time an emotion moves through a character’s body, it’s telling.)

A melancholy sadness filled Amy’s soul like the last song of the whippoorwill. (Definitely better than the first two, but still telling.)

“I hate you,” John said angrily. (Avoid ly words--because it's telling!)

The goal instead, is to SHOW us how those emotions feel, what they look like, what they sound like…

So, when you find yourself writing the name of an emotion, ask yourself, Can I show this in a better way?

Let’s try again:

If he smirked at me one more time, he'd be going to the dance with a black eye.

She leaned back in her chair, her shoulders finally relaxing.

Amy sat on the back porch resting her chin on her knees. The last song of the whippoorwill carried across the frosty fields, empty now that the harvest was over. …

“I hate you!” John turned and slammed the door. Jane cringed with every footstep as he stomped down the stairs.

Take home lesson: Do not use the name of an emotion to describe an emotion.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Two Most Powerful Words

By Cheryl C. Malandrinos 

For a character driven writer—and reader—like me, a story idea begins with a character. I think about this character. I figure out where he or she lives, how the character dresses, what his or her daily life is like, what motivates this person, and consider his or her physical description.

None of that, however, gives me a story. A storyline involves plot, climax, and resolution. It involves conflict: something that the character needs or wants and the obstacles that stand in the way of him getting it. 

This is where the two most powerful words come into play. What? You’ve never heard of these words? I think you have.

Those two words are, “What if?”

Take Amelia, she is an impulsive girl born into a wealthy family. Her curly hair is blonde and her eyes blue. At the age of 13, she lives in Pennsylvania where her father is an important businessman. Tea parties and private schooling fill her days. Since she lives in the mid-1800’s, she wears fine dresses made of silk and fashionable boots with buttons. She has a collection of porcelain dolls, but there is one that is very special to her.

She could be any well-bred girl living in the 1800’s—but she’s not. Amelia has a story all her own.

What if…

Amelia experiences a tragedy unlike she’s ever known?

What if…

Her parents die of the influenza and Amelia is sent to live with her spinster aunt at the Ridgemont estate in Massachusetts?

What if…

Amelia’s impulsive nature is at odds with her Aunt Martha’s desire to bring her up properly? 

What if…

A lonely Amelia befriends Ralph, the Negro stable hand working at the Ridgemont estate? And…

What if…

Aunt Martha disapproves?

What if…

Amelia’s father told her stories of what Aunt Martha was like as a girl and they are very different from the stern, bitter aunt who is now her guardian?

What if…

Amelia decides she must uncover the secret that caused the change in Aunt Martha? And…

What if…

She is willing to risk her aunt’s wrath to find out?

Two little words, yet they open up a world of possibilities. Use them wisely. Use them often. 






Bio: Cheryl Malandrinos is a freelance writer and editor. A founding member of Musing Our Children, Ms. Malandrinos is also Editor in Chief of the group’s quarterly newsletter, Pages & Pens.   

Cheryl is a Tour Coordinator for Pump Up Your Book, a book reviewer, and blogger. Little Shepherd is her first children’s book. Ms. Malandrinos lives in Western Massachusetts with her husband and two young daughters. She also has a son who is married.

You can visit Cheryl online at http://ccmalandrinos.com or the Little Shepherd blog at http://littleshepherdchildrensbook.blogspot.com/.  

In addition, you can listen to BlogTalk Radio’s Robin Falls Kids show: Stories for Children  with hosts VS Grenier, D.M. Cunningham and Tiffany Strelitz Haber who chatted with Cheryl Malandrions about her book, writing, the publishing industry, and her experiences with virtual tours on January 3rd. You can listen on demand at the RRRadio’s site http://www.blogtalkradio.com/rrradio/2011/01/03/rfk-stories-for-children.

To learn more about Cheryl Malandrions visit http://storiesforchildrenpublishing.com/CherylMalandrinos.aspx

Cheryl Malandrinos's next stop is January 10th at One Zillion Books http://www.onezillionbooks.com.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Avoiding Unnecessary Detail, Twain-Style

by Scott Rhoades

I decided to dust off my 1899 edition of Mark Twain's The American Claimant and Other Stories and Sketches, one of two Twain novels that I don't think I've ever read. It starts with a short little thing that I have read before, but it's a good reminder to all authors. It reminds me somewhat of Steinbeck's "Hooptedoodle" prologue to Sweet Thursday, about not overdoing the deatails that get in the way of a story, only, of course, Twain beat Steinbeck by several decades. So, here it is, for your enjoyment and edification.

THE WEATHER IN THIS BOOK

No weather will be found in this book. This is an attempt to pull a book through without weather. It being the first attempt of the kind in fictitious literature, it may prove a failure, but it seemed worth the while of some dare-devil person to try it, and the author was in just the mood.

Many a reader who wanted to read a tale through was not able to do it because of delays on account of the weather. Nothing breaks up an author's progress like having to stop every few pages to fuss-up the weather. Thus it is plain that persistent intrusions of weather are bad for both reader and author.

Of course weather is necessary to a narrative of human experience. That is conceded. But it ought to be put where it will not be in the way; where it will not interrupt the flow of the narrative. And it ought to be the ablest weather that can be had, not ignorant, poor-quality, amateur weather. Weather is a literary specialty, and no untrained hand can turn out a good article of it. The present author can do only a few trifling ordinary kinds of weather, and he cannot do those very good. So it has seemed wisest to borrow such weather as is necessary for the book from qualified and recognized experts--giving credit, of course. This weather will be found over in the back part of the book, out of the way. See Appendix. The reader is requested to turn over and help himself from time to time as he goes along.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

How Well Do you Know Children's Book Covers?

Here is a fun challenge!

Can you name the popular children's books by a portion of their covers?

Take the test then come back and tell me how many you got right. 
Which cover was hardiest to identify?
I only got 10 out of 20. I bet you can beat me!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Some of Nathan Bransford's Commandments for the Happy Writer

by Deren Hansen

In the spirit of new years and resolutions, I offer the following:

As part of his week of being optimistic in March 2009, agent Nathan Bransford posted his Ten Commandments for the Happy Writer. The last few resonated with me and bear repeating. (Besides, a smidge more than a year-and-a-half-ago is ancient history in Internet time.)

8. Park your jealousy at the door. Writing can turn ordinary people into raving lunatics when they start to believe that another author's success is undeserved. Do not begrudge other writers their success. They've earned it. Even if they suck.

9. Be thankful for what you have. If you have the time to write you're doing pretty well. There are millions of starving people around the world, and they're not writing because they're starving. If you're writing: you're doing just fine. Appreciate it.

10. Keep writing. Didn't find an agent? Keep writing. Book didn't sell? Keep writing. Book sold? Keep writing. OMG an asteroid is going to crash into Earth and enshroud the planet in ten feet of ash? Keep writing. People will need something to read in the resulting permanent winter.


Deren blogs daily at The Laws of Making.
Image: Photography by BJWOK / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

So what are your writing goals for this year? Anybody care to share?