Friday, December 21, 2012

Inspirational Quotes

I gave these quotes to members of my writing group, along with gift certificates to my favorite cupcake shop so each of them can celebrate a writing achievement in 2013, big or small.

Then the time came
when the risk it took
to remain tight in a bud
was more painful than
the risk it took to blossom.
--Anais Nin

No great
thing is
There must
be time. Give
your best
and always
be kind.

A small daily task,
if it really be daily,
will outdo the labours
of a spasmodic Hercules.
--Anthony Trollope

What's your favorite inspirational quote? (Can you tell that I collect them?)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Advice & Giveaway with Laurie Faria Stolarz

Please welcome Laurie Faria Stolarz, author of Deadly Little Lessons. Here's her writing advice. Leave a comment to win a copy of her new book! 

What's your best advice for fellow writers?
My biggest advice is to persevere.  There are many talented writers who give up after 5, 10, or even 50 rejection letters.  Be open to learning and to getting better in your craft.  If more than one person criticizes the same point in your work – i.e. your main character whines too much – chances are you need to look at that point again.  Never pay reading fees while trying to get published – ever.  Do your homework.  Know to whom you’re sending your query letter, who that person’s clients are, what that person’s track record is (i.e. the details of his or her most recent acquisitions), and what that person is looking for.  Every letter should be personalized and reflect that you’ve done your research.  And, lastly, consider joining a writers group. There’s nothing better than being in a group of like-minded writers who can help inspire and cheer you on, and who can provide constructive feedback that can help to strengthen your work. 
What popular writing advice do you never follow?

Write what you know.
Where do you do most of your writing?

I'm lucky to have an office space in my home.  But I can really work anywhere - in the car, in a waiting room, at a coffee shop, or sitting at the kitchen island.  I carry around a notebook, ready for when inspiration strikes.
What's the best book you've read lately on the craft of writing?

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

About The Book:

Camelia Hammond's trying junior year of high school is finally over...but her troubles aren't. After she discovers a painful truth about her family, she escapes to a summer arts program in Rhode Island. Determined to put family - and boyfriend - drama behind her, she throws herself into her artwork.
At the arts school, she gets caught up in the case of Sasha Beckerman, a local girl who is missing. Even though all signs suggest that the teen ran away, Camelia senses otherwise. Eager to help the girl, she launches her own investigation. Meanwhile, Camelia realizes how much she misses Ben, despite being committed to Adam.
But time is running out for Sasha, and Camelia will have to trust her powers if she's to save her. Will the lessons Camelia has learned in the past give her the strength to do so?

Wanna sneak peek?  Go here:                    

About The Author: 
Laurie Faria Stolarz is the author of Deadly Little Secret, Deadly Little Lies, Deadly Little Games, Deadly Little Voices, Project 17, and Bleed, as well as the bestselling Blue is for Nightmares series.  Born and raised in Salem, Massachusetts, Stolarz attended Merrimack College and received an MFA in creative writing from Emerson College in Boston. Checkout her website for a fun contest:

Leave a comment to win a copy of Deadly Little Lessons!

Contest Winner!


(Helen) Kiaya won a copy of Eileen Cook's THE ALMOST TRUTH.

Happy reading!!!!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Blogging Elsewhere

Today I'm over at YA Outside The Lines discussing the end of world--and my birthday. Here's a link if you want to check it out.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Writing Advice & Giveaway with Eileen Cook

Here's some great writing advice from Eileen Cook. Leave a comment to win a copy of her new book, The Almost Truth

What's your best advice for fellow writers? 

Read! Books are the best teacher.

What popular writing advice do you never follow?  

Write what you know. For me part of the fun is learning something I don’t already know.

Where do you do most of your writing?   

My office is the old sun porch on our house. I do a fair bit of work in there, but I also like to lounge on our sofa and write. My dogs prefer when I sit on the sofa because then they can snuggle in.

What's the best book you've read lately on the craft of writing? 

I love books about writing!  I have stacks and stacks of them, which makes picking a favorite hard.  I love SAVE THE CAT by Blake Snyder. It’s a screenwriting book, but the structure works great for novels and it’s full of practical examples. I also really like Stephen King’s ON WRITING for a kick of motivation. 

About The Book

From the author of Unraveling Isobel and The Education of Hailey Kendrick, a smart, romantic novel about a teenage con artist who might be in over her head.

Sadie can’t wait to get away from her backwards small town, her delusional mom, her jailbird dad, and the tiny trailer where she was raised…even though leaving those things behind also means leaving Brendan. Sadie wants a better life, and she has been working steadily toward it, one con at a time.

But when Sadie’s mother wipes out Sadie’s savings, her escape plan is suddenly gone. She needs to come up with a lot of cash—and fast—or she’ll be stuck in this town forever.

With Brendan’s help, she devises a plan—the ultimate con—to get the money. But the more lies Sadie spins, the more she starts falling for her own hoax…and perhaps for the wrong boy. Sadie wanted to change her life, but she wasn't prepared to have it flipped upside down by her own deception. With her future at stake and her heart on the line, suddenly it seems like she has a lot more than just money to lose....

About The Author

Eileen Cook is a multi-published author with her novels appearing in eight different languages. She spent most of her teen years wishing she were someone else or somewhere else, which is great training for a writer.  Her latest release, Unraveling Isobel came out in Jan 2012

You can read more about Eileen, her books, and the things that strike her as funny at  Eileen lives in Vancouver with her husband and two dogs and no longer wishes to be anyone or anywhere else.

Leave a comment to win a copy! 

Contest Winner!


Deirdre has won a copy of Mindi Scott's Live Through This.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

What I Learned in Cheryl Klein's Workshop (An Incomplete List)

I took 27 pages of notes during Cheryl Klein's plot workshop. Phew! All kinds of revision ideas popped into my head. Fix this! Do that! Don't forget X. What about Y? I jotted down ideas all over my notes, all over my homework, and book map. Wow!

And then I took a week off. Cheryl set aside our notes and rest for about a week. Good advice. That allowed the solid revision ideas to settle into place while the more frantic ideas floated away. So I ate Thanksgiving turkey, played lots of card games with my daughters, read a whole bunch, visited relatives--and let revision ideas simmer in my subconscious. The following week, I made a list of seventeen things to work on during revision. Here a few things on my list:

#4 Giving my character more active choices to make.

One thing that really struck me while making my book map was that I don't always let my main character make the big decisions. Too much simply happens to him--outside of his control. During the workshop, Cheryl talked about how active choices have consequences. And that sure makes for more interesting storytelling, doesn't it?

#5 Cut Subplot X

#6 Axing that character who rarely interacts with my main character. He pops into the story--twice--to deliver BIG NEWS.

Cheryl talked about reworking storytelling situations that are unnecessarily difficult, asking "are there facts that you've created that don't contribute to the plot? Or mechanical problems or issues that change the balance?" I have a character who rarely has access to my main character & that created huge mechanical problems for me. Too much unrealistic sneaking around just for a few bits of BIG NEWS. I also found myself pounding a particular subplot into my story like, um, devouring two desserts after eating second-helpings on Thanksgiving. Now I feel really good about simply leaving out that subplot. If only that would make my jeans fit better...

#12 Pinpoint main character's Moment of Emotional Truth.

Cheryl asked us to think about key emotional transformation of our protagonist. I realized that I've been so busy working out the kinks in all the action in my story that I'd forgotten to stop and really emphasize the emotional change in my character, so that the reader will pause for an AHA moment.

#2 Rewrite chapter one.

I loved that first chapter--it's so pretty and sounds so nice when I read it out loud. I pictured that scene the moment I committed myself to working on this idea. During Cheryl's workshop, I realized that it doesn't serve my overall story as well as it could. My well-honed first chapter actually flattens out some of the bigger themes explored later.

I really wrestled with making this change all during my week off. I skipped a writing day--just because I didn't want to mess with that beginning. But then I gave myself permission just to try out a new beginning. I'm still working on Chapter One, but it's so much stronger and much more effective. Even though it's not pretty yet--or quite finished.

So I'm only on Revision Item #2, but I'm more excited about my WIP than ever. Much thanks to Cheryl Klein for her wonderful workshop!