Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A minute list

Copy and paste this list and write a descriptive word or phrase for each. Mine is in ()’s.
Pumpkin (smooth)
Apple (tart)
Leaf (crimson red)
Air (smoky)
Parade (noisy)
Bonfire (crackling)
Football player (tattoo crown of thorns wraps around his bicep)
Night (starry)
Cheerleader (pigtail flopping)
Bleacher (covered with red plaid blanket)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Dreams that speak to us

I had the craziest dream the other night and I can’t seem to get it out of my head. I silently prayed while kneeling at the Communion rail. At the end of the church service, the pastor “found” a bundle of envelopes on the lectern. There was an envelope for each congregant. When I opened mine, I found the answer to my prayer. But how? I wondered. It’s not like the pastor heard my prayer (and everyone else’s) and scrambled to write these notes in the few minutes between Communion ending and the service concluding. Chatter erupted as each person opened their envelope and found just what they needed. One woman, tears streaming from her eyes, fell to her knees. A man clutched his heart and was visibly shaken. I scratched my head trying to make sense of it all but I couldn’t wrap my brain around it. So, there you have it. What do you think the dream meant?
Don't forget to share your inspirational moment here.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Quote of the day

"If you don't go after what you want, you'll never have it. If you don't ask, the answer is always no. If you don't step forward, you're always in the same place." --Nora Roberts

What is it that you want most in life? Share your top three answers.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Some inspirational moments

I had dinner with former First Lady Laura Bush on Thursday. She was in town to speak at a Junior League event. What a gracious lady. First class all the way. When I introduced myself, she said, “Oh, what a cute name.” After her speech, I shook her hand (and gave her a half hug after telling her “I’m a hugger”) and she said, “Oh, I remember you because of your cute name.” I really enjoyed her speech. Like her book, "Spoken from the Heart" (which I received an autographed copy of), her speech was from the heart. Hearing her talk about the days following 9/11 brought tears to my eyes. And listening as she shared wonderful family moments made me laugh at times. I was so inspired that evening by her graciousness and thankful for the opportunity to meet her in person. What a wonderful memory for me.
I was golfing today with my husband when I realized that behind us were two guys. Nothing special about that, I know. But one of the men was missing an arm. And man could he hit that golf ball. I couldn’t help but be inspired by this man who didn’t let his disability keep him from doing something he so obviously loved.
Do you have any inspirational moments you'd like to share? I'd love to read them.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Harry Potter trailer

Can't wait!

Finding just the right word

"The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug." --Mark Twain
Whenever I'm editing one of my reporter's stories, I start with a wide angle lens. I start by ask big picture questions. Are there any holes in the story? Did the writer raise any questions for the reader that he/she doesn't answer? Is the story fair? Balanced? Are all sides represented? Does the story structure work? Does the beginning hook the reader? What about the rhythm? Is there variation in sentence and paragraph lengths? And it goes on and on.
Eventually, I look at each word. I'm looking for precision. Is the word the writer used the best word to convey the message or meaning? Using the right word at the right time helps determine how a story is interpreted. One of the things I always look at hard are verbs. Too often people use weak verbs figuring that adverbs will save them. But watch the adverbs and adjectives.
What about you? Do you look for precision in your own writing? Do you circle all of your verbs and then go back and see if you can make them stronger?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A minute list

Copy and paste the list below into comments and write a word or phrase to describe each thing. My answers are in ()’s. Have fun. Should take no more than a minute.
Eyebrows (bushy)
Eyelid (saggy)
Neck (thick)
Fingernails (chewed)
Fingers (stubby)
Morning (foggy)
Night (crisp)
Child’s book (smeared with peanut butter and jelly)
Pencil (metallic pink with gold specks)
Cup of coffee (luke warm)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

New contest alert

Just what you've been waiting for: The Sixth "Dear Lucky Agent Contest" for paranormal romance and urban fantasy. Get all of the details  here.

Quote of the day

"Don't aim for success if you want it; just do what you love and believe in, and it will come naturally." --David Frost
A great story from someone who didn't give up.

Have you done the show, don't tell exercise yet? If not, try a sentence now. Go here.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Another new agent alert

From Dystel and Goderich Literary Management blog: John Rudolph is the newest agent at Dystel and Goderich Literary Management. Previously, John was Executive Editor at G. P. Putnam’s Son’s in their children’s and young adult imprints. Before that he was Associate Editor for Young Readers at Simon & Schuster. He graduated from Amherst College.
John will begin agenting in the categories of children’s, middle grade and young adult—both fiction and non-fiction—since these are categories with which he is familiar. He is hoping, however, to branch out into men’s fiction, pop culture, music, sports and humor.
Details here.
Also, other post on new agents here.

Quote of the day

"Try any goddam thing you like, no matter how boringly normal or outrageous. If it works, fine. If it doesn't, toss it. Toss it even if you love it." --Stephen King
I thought about this quote when I was reading the Hunger Games trilogy. I mean, the books are pretty outrageous. Kids who kill each other and the winner is the one who survives. I asked myself if I would have written Hunger Games if I had had the idea (I wish) or if I would have thought, "Nay. That's too far out there."
Then I remembered the middle-grade novel I wrote about four middle-schoolers who struggle to save their community from hideous sea snakes that control the brains of humans they inhabit. These are not ordinary sea snakes. They were genetically engineered by the U.S. government as a weapon of war. But the government’s plan failed when the ship carrying the sea snakes on a top secret mission sank.
And, you know, that's really out there, too, and I wrote it so I guess I can write pretty outrageous stuff.
How about you. Do you hold yourself back, thinking it's so outrageous or do you give it a whirl? I think that it doesn't matter how far-fetched an idea is, if you can make it believable, it works.

Thoughts anyone?

And don't forget to do the show, don't tell exercise.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Real Simple essay contest

Time is running out, but you still have a few days to enter Real Simple Magazine's Third Annual Life Lessons Essay Contest. Finish this sentence: “I never thought I’d. . .” Details here.

Show, don't tell writing exercise

We all hear it over and over: Show, don’t tell. And yet we often fail to do so. Usually we catch this while revising, but not always. I’m as guilty as anyone.

Here’s a fun exercise. I’ve written four sentences. I would like you to pick one (or all four if you’d like) and rewrite it showing instead of telling. I will do one as an example.
Carly was mad her mom wouldn’t let her go to the movies with her friends. (I told you she was mad)
Revised: Carly put her hands on her hips and stumped out of the room after her mom said she couldn’t go to the movies with her friends. (I showed you she was mad)
Now, your turn. Feel free to use dialogue "to show" as well. Here are the sentences. Have fun.
1. Max was happy when his parents brought home a puppy for his birthday.
2. After studying so hard, Willow was angry she hadn’t done well on the test.
3. Micah told Cassie he loved her.
4. Tom was disappointed that his favorite team lost the game.
Did you find this easy or difficult?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

September Secret Agent Contest

Don't forget friends, this contest starts TOMORROW. Good luck to all of you. Remember this month's contest will include the following genres:,
•Historical and paranormal romance
•MG and YA (including all subgenres)
Details here.

New agent alerts

From Publishers Weekly: Joan Slattery will join Pippin Properties as literary agent and contracts manager, as of November 1. She has spent nearly 20 years at Random House, most recently as senior executive editor at Knopf Books for Young Readers. Details here.

From Guide to Literary Agents blog: Logan Garrison joined the Gernert Company after three years as an English and Musical Theatre teacher at Northern High School in Durham, North Carolina. A native of the South and a graduate of both the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University, Logan currently lives in Brooklyn. Details here.

Thank you my friends

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” --Maya Angelou

I think this quote is so true, and I just wanted to thank all of my cyber friends who make me feel great each day. I admire your passion and commitment and tenacity as you negotiate the twists and turns and bumps and potholes on your road to success. A simple thank you doesn't seem quite enough, but it's all I have to offer. Have a super Sunday, and I hope that you are closer to your goal than you were yesterday or the day before.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A minute list

In a word or two, describe the following. My answer is in parenthesis. Copy and paste list in comments and add your answers. It shouldn’t take more than a minute. And these are completely random words that popped into my head. Have fun.
Tree (naked)
Knee (scarred)
Dog (yappy)
Fingernails (chewed)
Pencil (dull)
Computer (slow)
Cheeks (dimpled)
Couch (frayed)
Car (dented)
Ankle (thick)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Grandma D: Attitude is everything

Note 181
My dearest Ella,
Attitude is everything.
Maddie took me to chemo today and I met this wonderful young girl (She couldn’t have been more than 27). She had such a great attitude. She was so positive. I felt better just sitting next to her.
She told me about her son, who had just started saying “Mum Mum,” and about her husband, who she had met in a college chemistry class. They were lab partners. We talked about many things, and I was amazed that a girl so young could be so wise. It reminded me that we all have bad stuff happen to us. It’s how we deal with the bad stuff that counts.
The older I get the more I realize that attitude is everything. You might have talent and knowledge. Perhaps you’re even gifted. But it’s your attitude that will make the difference between winning and losing, between perservering and giving up.
Sarah is fighting for her life. She is determined to see her baby boy become a man. I know she's scared but she has hope. And hope, Ella, can make all of the difference.
Sarah's attitude was certainly contagious and just the reminder I needed on I day I was feeling particularly blue.
So when bad things happen, as they surely will, remember Sarah. 
Find good in bad,
success in failure,
joy in sorrow,
life in death.
You control your attitude. Make it a positive one and you'll find that even the darkest days become a little brighter.
Love you bunches and bunches, Grandma

I was reminded of this letter from Grandma D today when I had to deal with a miserable person whose attitude completely sucked. I like to read this letter from time to time. It's always a great reminder that attitude is everything. Not that I don't have bad days. Hey, I'm human. But I really try to find something good in everything bad. How about you?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Quote of the day

"If writers stopped writing about what happened to them, then there would be a lot of empty pages." --Elaine Liner
Do you agree with the quote or not? How much of you is in your writing? Would love to hear your thoughts.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Secret Agent Contest

Just an early heads-up for September Secret Agent Contest. This month's contest will include the following genres:
  • SF/F
  • Historical and paranormal romance
  • MG and YA (including all subgenres)
Get all the details here and good luck to all who enter.

Quote of the day

"Becoming a writer means being creative enough to find the time and the place in your life for writing." -- Heather Sellers
We've all agreed on many occasions that finding writing time is challenging, especially if you work full time outside the home, volunteer in a number of capacities with your church and your child's school, etc. So here's the challenge. Can we be creative and come up with a list of ways to find more writing time? Here are a few I thought of. Add yours in comments.
1. Write over your lunch break at work
2. Write when you're in waiting room at doctor's, dentist's, etc.
3.  Get up an hour earlier in the morning

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Reach out, give back

Today was a special day at church. We held a big celebration complete with a covered dish luncheon, lots of really cool carnival games for the kids, a “Jeopardy” game for all ages and lots more. I am always amazed and touched by the number of people who pitch in to help make events like this happen. It takes a ton of planning and work. So many people do so much not because they want accolades, but because they think it’s the right thing to do. It’s a form of stewardship, a way for them to reach out and give back to the community. I attend a small church. It truly is like one big family. Everyone knows everyone else and we would do anything for one another. In a world that seems to be ruled by the mantra “What’s in it for me,” I’m blessed to be part of a group of people who aren’t self-centered, who want to make the world a better place for everyone.

Which brings me to our writing community. I’m blessed to be a part of this viral community as well, a community full of people who help and cheer each other on. Some of you are experienced. Many are just beginning. But no matter where you are on your writing journey, you will find people who want to help you grow and learn. Web sites like allow you to interact with writers and agents and editors. I encourage you to become involved in Inkwell, to connect with other writers and artists through various social networking platforms. I think the more you reach out the more a part of things you’ll feel. You will develop friendships and make connections and you’ll learn that the world is only as small as you make it. Kudos to each of you who gives back with no fanfare, no bells or whistles, but quietly through your comment posts or e-mails or whatever.
I’m curious. What is something that you learned or received from your writing friends? Maybe they’ve inspired you or provided feedback or simply listened when you needed to express your frustration. Please share in comments.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Quote to start the weekend

“Success is focusing the full power of all you are on what you have a burning desire to achieve.” --Wilfred Peterson
I hope you all have a fanstastic weekend.

Short story contest

The "Jeffrey Archer Presents" short story contest opens today. Click here for details. Good luck to all who enter.

If you could time travel...

Planning my high school reunion has me digging out old photos and yearbooks and tons of other stuff. I'm flooded with memories of my teen years, mostly good but some bad. If I could travel back in time and talk to my teen self, there's a lot I would say. How about you? What would you tell your teen self?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Quote of the day

"If you don't allow yourself the possibility of writing something very, very bad, it would be hard to write something very good." --Steven Galloway

Has your writing improved? If so, in what ways? For me, I'm better at incorporating backstory and foreshadowing. At least I think I've improved in these areas. Would love to hear your thoughts.  

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

YA writing contest

Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers is holding its 29 annual Delacorte Press Contest for a First Young Adult Novel. Read all the details here. And good luck to all who enter.

Quote of the day

"I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see." --John Burroughs
So true. Add your thoughts in comments. I'll start. I still find each day too short...
to write all I want to write...

Monday, September 6, 2010

Need your help

Hey peeps, I need help. I'm planning my high school reunion and I wanted to give prizes for various awards. I'd so love for you to help me come up with some awards and accompanying prizes that are cheap and fun. Here's what I thought of so far:
1. Travel the farthest: A bag of items made locally (Snyders pretzels, Martin's party mix, Utz chips, Hershey bar, Stauffer’s cookies).
2. Married the longest: Bottle of sparking apple cider
3. Married most recently: Bottle of sparkling apple cider
4. Most grandchildren:
5. Oldest grandchild:
6. Youngest grandchild:
7. Youngest child:
8. Most children:
9. First to respond: container of gummy worms for early bird gets the worm
10. Lives closest to school: world map
11. Newest mother-in-law/father-in-law:
Please help me think of prizes to go with the awards above and feel free to list any other awards and prizes. I really appreciate your help.

Happy Labor Day

Happy Labor Day peeps.
Live with passion.
Always try your best.
Be loving and kind and gentle with yourself and others.
Optimism is the key to overcoming life’s obstacles.
Remember to spend time with family and friends. They make life so much sweeter.

Do what you dream; just don’t think about it.
Attitude is everything.
You are the conductor of your orchestra. Make beautiful music and compose a life that moves others to greatness.

Add your Labor Day poem in comments.
I hope you all have a super week:)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Quote of the day

"Don't cast sidelong glances, and compare yourself to others among your peers! (Writing is not a race. No one really "wins." The satisfaction is in the effort, and rarely in the consequent rewards, if there are any.)" --Joyce Carol Oates

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Agent posts

A lot of posts about agents lately. Was also the topic of recent Yalitchat. Here are some links to check out:
What does an agent do
Talking agents and authors
What drives an agent crazy: Part 1
What drives an agent crazy: Part 2 
What drives an agent crazy: Part 3
What drives an agent crazy: Part 4
What drives an agent crazy: Part 5
What does an agent offer?
An agent's creative side

A minute list

Copy and paste list in comments and write a word to describe each thing. Mine is in ()s.
Nose (crooked)
Lips (thin)
Knees (scarred)
Toes (boney)
Ears (elf-like)
Fingers (skinny)
Hair (stringy)
Teeth (bleached)
Eyes (beady)
Belly button (pierced)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Quote of the day

"Being a writer is like having homework every night for the rest of your life."--Lawrence Kasdan
This quote made me smile. Do you agree with Kasdan? And while we're talking about homework, which was your favorite and least favorite subject in school?