Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Advice & Giveaway with Lauren Bjorkman

Please welcome Lauren Bjorkman, author of My Invented Life and Miss Fortune Cookie. Leave a comment to win a copy of her new book! 

What's your best advice for fellow writers?
Write all the time. The more you write the better you get. Which brings me to the obvious follow up question: How does a person keep one’s butt in the chair (without resorting to adhesives)?
  • Write what you want to write. Forget about the market.
  • Think about your story while doing other things—driving the car, cleaning the kitchen, showering, etc. When you finally get to sit down to write, you’ll be ready to go.
  • Describe your story to others. When I try to summarize my WIP, it gets me excited about the story, again, and often gives me new ideas.
  • Set goals. Give yourself rewards for reaching them. Whenever Franz Kafka reached his writing goal, he would treat himself to a pineapple upside down cake. Be like Franz.
  • Join a critique group.
  • Read a truly amazing book (Jealousy is an awesome motivator).

What popular writing advice do you never follow?
Write what you know. It is much more interesting to write about things I’m ignorant about. Research is fun and inspiring.

Where do you do most of your writing? 
I used to write in bed on a laptop. My cats would keep me company. It all started with living on a sailboat and having to complete 3rd, 5th, and 6th grade from my bunk. I continued working in bed through HS and college.

Unfortunately, for the past two years a tweak in my upper back has forced me to sit in an ergonomic chair at a desk. My office measures almost 7 by 9 feet, which sounds spacious until you shoehorn in a desk with drawers, a filing cabinet, a dresser, two bookcases, and an exercise machine. The door is my favorite feature. I surround myself with inspiring photos and objects while I work. I have a special cushion for my bare feet, plus a radiant heater under my desk to stay cozy in the winter.

What's the best book you've read lately on the craft of writing? 
Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller by John Truby. When I applied his exercises to a half-finished novel, they helped me organize the plot, clarify the role of my characters, and expand conflict to make key scenes more powerful. I spent two weeks revamping taking notes, which made writing the second half easier. Note: Easier easy.

Find out more about Lauren & her books at:

Please leave a comment to win a copy of Miss Fortune Cookie by Lauren Bjorkman!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Advice & Giveaway with Lucienne Diver

Today Lucienne Diver is back with writing advice--plus you can win a copy of her new book Fangtabulous! Just leave a comment.

What's your best advice for fellow writers?

Keep the faith. Seriously, it can be very difficult to keep writing in the face of rejections or a bad review. The important thing to remember is that nothing, not even the cutest kitten or puppy dog in the world, is universally loved. There will be detractors. That won’t change no matter how successful you become. You just have to stay true to yourself and your ambitions and, as Dory from Finding Nemo would say, “Just keep swimming.”

If anyone’s interested in reading about a particular subject, here’s a full list of articles and blogs I’ve done that address various aspects of writing and publishing with a cut-out leading to this list of blogs for Magical Words

What popular writing advice do you never follow?

I don’t know that I listen to popular advice or “truisms.”  There’s too much misdirection out there, like the suggestion that you have to do things this way or you’re wrong, wrong, wrong. The truth is that there’s no one-size fits all in publishing, no “one true path.” You have to find your way, and the path you choose will depend a lot on your end goals. 

Where do you do most of your writing?

In the warm weather, I like to take a pen and notebook (I freehand everything before typing it onto the computer) up to the pool or dock at our lodge. In the cooler weather lately though I’ve been writing in our Florida room. Our dogs like to keep me company, one laying on each side of my lap while I attempt to write over them.  For example, here’s a picture of them in our papasan chair with Ginger, the littler one, occupying my spot. The other is Micky-doodle.

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

I actually don’t read books on the writing craft. I’ve learned through reading fiction and analyzing what works and doesn’t work in the books I’ve loved and how authors do what they do. I’ve also learned a lot through trial and error—writing, workshopping and learning about my strengths and weaknesses from people who can see them more clearly.

About The Book:

Gina Covello and her band of federal fugitives are on the run after taking down a secret (and sinister) government facility. Strapped without cash or credit cards—a fate worse than death for Gina—the rebels must find a place to lay low. They roll into Salem, Massachusetts, the most haunted town in America and the only place they have friends flying under the radar. But within a day, Gina and her gang are embroiled in a murder mystery of the supernatural kind.

Someone—or something—is strangling young women, and it's rumored to be the ghost of Sheriff Corwin, late of the Salem Witch trials.  Is it the ghostly Sheriff or is someone on this side of the veil using the famous story as a cover up? Gina is determined to get to the bottom of this mystery, and she needs to do it before a paranormal reporter on the scene exposes them for what they are...fanged federal fugitives.  

About The Author:

Lucienne Diver writes the humorous, suspenseful Vamped series of young adult vampire novels for Flux Books, including Vamped, Revamped, Fangtastic and the most recent, Fangtabulous.  Her short stories have been included in the Strip-Mauled and Fangs for the Mammaries anthologies edited by Esther Friesner (Baen Books), and her essay on abuse is included in the anthology Dear Bully: 70 Authors Tell Their Stories (HarperTeen).  She also writes the Latter-Day Olympians urban fantasy series for Samhain (Bad Blood, Crazy in the Blood and the forthcoming Rise of the Blood).

Please leave a comment to win your own copy!

Contest Winner!


Lisa A is the winner of Deadly Little Lessons by Laurie Faira Stolarz.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Info Dumping

Aah, chapter 40, now chapter 38, once 5 pages, now only half a page in-progress...

All through this story, I've been trying to squeeze in a particular subplot--not because it works organically with my story, but because it's such a cool idea, and it makes me feel clever. So I've been adding lines here and there--lines that might as well be typed in red font because they flash like warning signs. Warning, warning--this doesn't belong!

Did I delete those lines? No. I added more. I padded sentences and plot lines, building little nests around this subplot. Later in the story I dedicate two entire chapters to the subplot. I might as well run outside, yank down the stop sign on the corner and shove it into my manuscript.

What convinced me that I truly needed to abandon my ever-so-clever subplot? The huge info dump on pages 153-158. A minor character who only exists to service said subplot appears out of nowhere and says, "let me explain X to you." And I let him talk for paragraphs. Oh, sure, I break up the dialogue with some lovely actions, etc. But I'm still doing an info dump--because the subplot simply doesn't fit, naturally, organically, compellingly, or anything-ly into my story.

So today I'm finally deleting it. No more random lines here and there. No more minor character with no other purpose. Knock. Knock. I'm here to stop the flow of your story. No more extra chapters. And no more info dump!

Things that belong in stories have a way of weaving through the various plots with ease. Characters automatically want to talk about them, great action results from them, consequences flow easily from them... Watch those info dumps. Usually something more than poor writing is going on.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Blogging Elsewhere

Today I'm blogging over at YA Outside The Lines. We're doing a huge month-long giveaway, too, so you might want to check it out.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Writing Resolutions: Lessons Learned from the Past

I've always been a resolution-maker. Looking back in my writing notebooks, I found a few examples of past resolutions.

January 1, 2002: Win the Newberry. I had just finished my first novel-length manuscript. In my naïveté about the entire publishing process, I thought that I would easily find an editor, see my novel published a few months later, and win the coveted award, which I spelled wrong. So maybe I did win the Newberry--with two Rs--if it's an award for sending a manuscript to publishers before it's ready.

I've learned not to make goals that are outside of my control.

January 1, 2004: Write three middle-grade novels. I didn't understand the importance of rest and revision (and revision and revision). I've written one middle-grade novel since making that resolution, preferring to write YA, and never completing more than one entirely new, completely polished manuscript in a year. 

I've learned to honor my writing process.

January 1, 2005: Do writing exercises 5x a week, read 2 children's novels a month, write 10 magazine pieces, write 2 novels (I listed 2 ideas), et cetera. I created a list of 10 resolutions--with an asterisk adding one more item at the end. Ultimately, I failed at each one of these very specific items.

I've learned that my writing cannot be reduced to numbers. 

January 1, 2008: Revise with joy. I'm certain that I didn't always feel particularly joyful while hammering away at my 2008 WIP, but I did work toward changing my attitude toward revision--and I really do enjoy that part of the writing process now. But it took time. 

I've learned that resolutions about changing my behavior or mindset are more successful. 

January 1, 2013: Finish revising WIP. See? I'm starting my year off with joy! 

Happy 2013 to you!!!