Thursday, December 30, 2010

Quote of the day

"We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day.” --Edith Lovejoy
I wish all of you a happy New Year's and hope that 2011 is filled with love and joy and peace and success.

P.S. Don't forget to check out my contest on Buffy's World.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Awesome contest to check out

I wanted to let you know that I'm running a contest on my other blog, Buffy's World. Many of you will know the answer to my question immediately because it relates to my writing. Anyway, pop over, join in the fun and you'll have a chance to win a $25 Target gift card. Sweet:)

Writing advice

Don’t say you were a bit confused and sort of tired and a little depressed and somewhat annoyed. Be tired. Be confused. Be depressed. Be annoyed. Don’t hedge your prose with little timidities. Good writing is lean and confident.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A look at e-book trends

Check out this post on e-book trends. I think the potential for user interactivity will be huge. What do you think?

A minute list

Use one word to describe the following. Mine is in ()'s. Copy and paste list into comments and add yours. Should only take a minute. Can't wait to read your lists.
Shrimp (spicy)
Hat (tattered)
Desk (scratched)
Dog (fluffy)
Computer (slow)
Sauce (white)
Glasses (broken)
Record player (vintage)
Snowman (Calvin -ish) Not sure that this is even a word, but love the snowman series. (Smiles)
Candle (taper)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Writing advice

The hardest thing about writing, in a sense, is not writing. I mean, the sentence is not intended to show you off, you know. It is not supposed to be “look at me!” “Look, no hands!” It’s supposed to be a pipeline between the reader and you. Once condition of the sentence is to write so well that no one notices that you’re writing.

Times Square ball app

Found this totally cool Times Square Ball App (for iPhone, iPod touch, iPad and Android) that features a live video feed (commercial free) of the festivities from Times Square. There's a customizable countdown clock to 2011 that you can adjust for whatever time zone you're in.
You can link to your other social networking accounts, send a "kiss" to a loved one and upload your photo for a chance to appear on the giant video screen atop One Times Square.
The app also includes an awesome database of events, interactive maps, weather updates and more.
I can't begin to describe all the coolness this app packs, so here's a video to watch. Happy New Year all my peeps.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Words and trends and fun

This is totally sweet. Learned about this from a co-worker and had to share. Google used data obtained from 15 million scanned books to build Google Books Ngram Viewer. As most of you know, Google Books is a project to digitize as many tomes as possible. The viewer allows you to search for words and prints a graph showing how many times those words appear in the books it has digitized.

What's cool about this is that you're able to see trends over time. The datasets contain phrases of up to five words with counts of how often they occurred in each year. I searched for "zombie" between the years 1800 and 2000. I found the word mentioned in the early 1800s, increasingly found in books in the late 1920s and then spiking in usuage by 2000. Go ahead. Check it out and have fun.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas story told digitally

Imagine the birth of Jesus using today's technology.

Writing advice

Writing advice from ELIZABETH BOWEN

1.Dialogue should be brief.
2. It should add to the reader’s present knowledge.
3. It should eliminate the routine exchanges of ordinary conversation.
4. It should convey a sense of spontaneity but eliminate the repetitiveness of real talk.
5. It should keep the story moving forward.
6. It should be revelatory of the speaker’s character, both directly and indirectly.
7. It should show the relationships among people.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Quote of the day

"Don’t say it was 'delightful'; make us say 'delightful' when we’ve read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers 'Please will you do my job for me?'" --C.S. LEWIS

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Holiday emoticons

Some holiday emoticons for you to use.

Christmas tree *<<<<+

Angel O:-)

Santa Claus *<[:-)

Really Happy :-))

Do you have any to share?

My Christmas Tree

I thought some of my new followers would enjoy this column I wrote a couple years ago. 
The perfect Christmas tree. Is there such a thing?

I think so, and I think it’s mine. I think this every year. Some years our tree has been fat and full. Other years it’s been tall and skinny. But always it’s been perfect.

You see, what makes our Christmas tree perfect isn’t its size or shape or smell. It’s not how the needles feel or whether the trunk is straight. What makes it perfect are the ornaments that dangle from its branches.

My sons have made a good many of them. There’s the construction paper angel my 13-year-old made in second grade. And the picture ornament my 17-year-old crafted in preschool. Each year when we hang my sons’ homemade ornaments, my heart flutters and I am reminded of all that is good in this world. Time passes much too quickly, and the ornaments are treasures from yesteryears when the most pressing problem was a skinned knee.

Along with these homemade ornaments are those my mother bought me. Each year I’d find a new one in my stocking. One year it was Miss Piggy. Another year, Kermit. I looked forward to Christmas morning, eager to see what she had bought. When I hang these decorations, I nearly drown in memories. I want to hug my mother, tell her how much I love her and need her. But I can’t because she isn’t here. She died many years ago, but not before giving me some special ornaments.

They aren’t ornaments you’d find in a store or some exclusive catalog. She made them with her loving hands, one by one as her death drew near. Cancer made her weak and took away many of the things she enjoyed. But that deadly disease could not destroy her spirit or will to leave part of her behind.

And so she cross-stitched.

Hour after hour.

Day after day.

Month after month.

Until she could no more.

She’d sit in the corner chair with needle and thread creating tiny tapestries of love. Some for each of her five daughters and all of her grandchildren.

I remember thinking at the time how important cross-stitching seemed to her. I think it was her way of giving us something we could hold onto and cherish long after she was gone. Something to share with our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

And so, when I walk through the department stores and see all the “perfect” trees in coordinating colors and trendy themes, I smile. Don’t get me wrong. They’re beautiful. But not as beautiful as mine.

I don’t care that my Christmas tree is adorned with a mishmash of ornaments. I don’t care that some of them are chipped and that others are cracked or scratched.

What matters most is the love that has gone into each ornament that hangs on my tree. Riches that warm my heart and feed my soul.

Thank you Zach and Micah and mom for making our family Christmas tree perfect every year.

Books make great gifts

"Do give books - religious or otherwise - for Christmas. They're never fattening, seldom sinful, and permanently personal." --Lenore Hershey

Are you giving books for Christmas? Are there books on your wish list? Is there any writing book you recommend? I just finished Betsy Lerner's Forest for the Trees. I really enjoyed it.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Meet Terry Lynn Johnson

I'm so excited to share this news with all of you about my friend Terry Lynn Johnson. Her novel, DOGSLED DREAMS, is coming in January. I met Terry on Inkwell  when she posted the first page of her newest book, ICE DOGS, and I had a chance to edit it. She has since landed an agent, the wonderful Caryn Wiseman of  Andrea Brown Literary Agency.

Terry amazes me with her passion for the outdoors. For twelve summers she worked as a canoe ranger in  Quetico Provincial Park. One winter, she worked for a dogsledding company and, well, the rest is history. She was hooked and when she went home, she had eighteen huskies that followed her. In addition to her books, she has written for many outdoor magazines. This is one person to check out and keep and eye on. I think Terry is enormously talented and great things will come her way. 

Check out the Dogsled Dreams Facebook page.

Check out Terry's blog. 

Check out Terry's website.

Add Dogsled Dreams to your Goodreads list.

To order book, go to Barnes and Nobel.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Really cool video

Santa app to the rescue

So you're at a restaurant with the kiddos waiting for a table. They're fussy and you're fussy because they're fussy and you get fussier when you think about the wad of cash you'll spend on a dinner that no one will enjoy because, well, everyone's fussy. (Whew, long sentence!)
And you used that Santa's-watching threat so many times that as soon as you say "You better" the kids finish the sentence with "watch out" and proceed to tell you they don't care if Santa's watching because, well, they're sure he'll cut them some slack.
Apps to the rescue! (Hey, maybe this could be a new superhero.)
Read rest on Buffy's World 

Friday, December 17, 2010

My recent newspaper column

As social media coordinator for The York Daily Record/Sunday News, I write a monthly column. Here's the one that ran Sunday introducing me and my new blog. Enjoy.

Quote of the day

"Some editors will “get” what you write; others won’t. The key is to have patience to learn from the criticisms of the former, the strength to ignore the indifference of the latter, and the wisdom (and great luck) to know the difference between the two." --BRUCE FEIRSTEIN

Thursday, December 16, 2010

12 lines of good dialogue

'Tis the season to engage in good dialogue. So, in that spirit, I’d like you to share 12 lines of great dialogue from your work. The 12 lines do not have to be from the same piece of writing. Identify the work(s) from which the lines are taken. This should be FUN! Here are mine.
Snippets from FREAKY FRANK (MG)
(1 and 2) You’re one strange dude,” Piz said. “That thing you do happens a lot?”
(3)“What thing?”
(4) “That thing where you know what I’m thinking before I even say it and then you say it and then when I say it, it sounds like I’m only saying it because you said it.”
(5) “Do you know how stupid that sounds?”
(6, 7, 8) “Oh, Nate. Didn’t know that was you. Sounded like a girl.”
(9) “Are you saying I sound like a girl, you punk?”
(10) “Yeah. A little itsy-bitsy, teeny-tiny frilly lace girl.”
(11 and 12) “Why you Nerd Turd you. I’ll get you good.”

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A writerly gift

If I told you that money was no object and that you could give your writer friend anything you wanted to for Christmas, what would you give? Can’t wait to read your answers.

Last day for contest: Details here.

Monday, December 13, 2010

What the heck is tarragon?

OK, so did you ever wonder why they put all of those spices in a spice rack? Seriously. Someone gave me one of those carousel spice racks with 16 filled jars. It looked pretty. I kind of liked spinning it. It made me feel like a "real" cook, not the pull-from-the-freezer-and-nuke-in-a-microwave-mom that I am. But I couldn’t tell you what half of the spices are used for. I was familiar with cinnamon and chili powder and paprika. But tarragon? What the heck is that? I’ve never used that spice in my life.  
So how does this relate to writing? I have no idea. But I bet all of my writerly friends could come up with some great metaphors. Take a shot at it in comments. 

Don't forget about your chance to win $25 Target gift card.

Still time to win Target card

Please help spread the word about Buffy's World,  and get a shot at winning $25 Target Gift Card. Visit the site for details.

Advice for writers: Richard Rhodes

If you’re afraid you can’t write, the answer is to write. Every sentence you construct adds weight to the balance pan. If you’re afraid of what other people will think of your efforts, don’t show them until you write your way beyond your fear. If writing a book is impossible, write a chapter. If writing a chapter is impossible, write a page. If writing a page is impossible, write a paragraph. If writing a paragraph is impossible, write a sentence. If writing even a sentence is impossible, write a word and teach yourself everything there is to know about that word and then write another, connected word and see where their connection leads. A page a day is a book a year.
I love how Rhodes reduces the process to one word at a time. If you can't write a page, write a paragraph. If not a paragraph, then a sentence. And if a sentence is too much, well then write ONE word.
Kind of reminds me of the Christmas special Santa Claus is Coming to Town. Kris Kringle sings these lyrics to the Winter Warlock to help him change from nasty to nice.

Put one foot in front of the other
And soon you’ll be walking cross the floor
Put one foot in front of the other
And soon you’ll be walking out the door

You never will get where you’re going
If you never get up on your feet
Come on, there’s a good tail wind blowing
A fast walking man is hard to beat

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Do you believe in Writer's Block?

"When I sit down in order to write, sometimes it’s there; sometimes it’s not. But that doesn’t bother me anymore. I tell my students there is such a thing as “writer’s block,” and they should respect it. You shouldn’t write through it. It’s blocked because it ought to be blocked, because you haven’t got it right now." --TONI MORRISON

I know that some people, unlike Morrison, don't believe in writer's block. What do you say? There are definitely times when I sit down to write and it just doesn't come. Is that writer's block? Or is it that the ideas and direction I'm heading aren't yet clear to me.

Stephen Spender says that, "The best thing is to write anything, anything at all that comes into your head, until gradually there is a calm and creative day."

Friday, December 10, 2010

Writing advice: Keep a diary

I think the following advice from John Berendt is great. Try it for a week and let me know how it works for you.

Keep a diary, but don't just list all the things you did during the day. Pick one incident and write it up as a brief vignette. Give it color, include quotes and dialogue, shape it like a story with a beginning, middle and end—as if it were a short story or an episode in a novel. It's great practice. Do this while figuring out what you want to write a book about. The book may even emerge from within this running diary.

Don't forget about your chance to win $25 Target gift card.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Chance to win $25 Target gift card

Pop over to my other blog, Buffy's World, to learn how you can get in a random drawing for a $25 Target gift card. And thanks in advance for your support.

BTW, what's your favorite form of social media?

Writing is discovery

"Writing became such a process of discovery that I couldn't wait to get to work in the morning: I wanted to know what I was going to say." --Sharon O'Brien
 I so agree with this. Writing most definitely is a discovery. How about you? 
Visit me here, too.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Thoughts on this MG query?

Dear Agent:

Mags’ middle name is trouble. She can’t seem to stay out of it. When she and her friends accept a dare to sleep in a haunted barn, they begin an adventure that involves a mystery and a secret someone’s willing to hurt to keep.

A good ghost wants them to deliver a message to her dying daughter. A bad ghost wants to prevent that. It’s up to Mags and her friends to piece together the clues that will lead them to the one person who needs their help the most.

In HIGH STREET DARES: THE GHOSTLY CONNECTION, the kids learn the power of love and that things aren’t always what they seem.

I am Assistant Managing Editor of Features and Niche Publications at the York Daily Record/Sunday News, in York, Pa. In addition to my extensive newspaper experience, both as a writer and as an editor, I have sold stories to a number of children’s publications.

I’d love to share my completed manuscript with you. I hope to hear from you at your earliest convenience.

Quote of the day

"And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt." — SYLVIA PLATH
Also, visit me here.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Quote of the day

"Remember that you should be able to identify each character by what he or she says. Each one must sound different from the others. And they should not all sound like you." --ANNE LAMOTT
In comments, feel free to share ONE line of dialogue that you feel is telling of your character. I can't wait to read your lines.

Monday, December 6, 2010

A minute list

We haven't done a minute list in some time. So, here goes. You peeps know the rules. You copy and paste the list into comments and describe each item using only one word. Mine are in ( )’s. Shouldn't take more than a minute. Have fun.

Bell (rusty)
Fireplace (flickering)
Tree (fresh)
Cookies (moist)
Ornament (hand-painted)
Eggnog (watery)
Beard (itchy)
Hymn (joyful)
Manger (peaceful)
Star (North)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Christmas stocking

On Christmas morning, I always saved my stocking for last. It was so much fun opening the wrapped gifts stuffed inside. There were some items I could count on seeing every year – like a Lifesavers Christmas Sweet Storybook and clear toy pops. And while I would have been disappointed had these items not been included, I always looked forward to seeing the cool things that my parents had bought.
One year, I wanted a pink Lindy Star Ring. I had opened all of my gifts and didn’t find the ring. I tried not to show my disappointment as I unwrapped the gifts in my stocking. I pulled out the last gift, stuck in the sock’s toe, and burst into tears. It was the Lindy Star Ring! I had gotten it after all.
I still have that ring and it is a reminder of all of the wonderful Christmases I was blessed to have with my parents. They died much too young (dad 58 and mom 61).
Like my parents, there are certain things I buy every year for my sons’ stockings, and I take special care in finding unexpected treasures to include. I think my sons would tell you that opening their stockings is the highlight of the morning. I continue to be amazed by how something so little can mean so much.
So, what’s the best thing you ever found in your stocking?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Allow yourself to write poorly

Today's writing advice comes from Larry Gelbart:
First, you get the idea. It may germinate for a long time or it just pops into your head. And then you work out a structure. And when you feel confident enough, you start to write. And you have to allow yourself the liberty of writing poorly. You have to get the bulk of it done, and then you start to refine it. You have to put down less than marvelous material just to keep going to whatever you think the end is going to be—which may be something else altogether by the time you get there.

Allowing myself to write poorly is very difficult. Too much of a perfectionist, I guess. What do you think?

Visit my other blog

Please, please, please (yeah, I'm not above begging) visit my other blog. Don't worry, this blog isn't going away. My other blog is something I maintain for work.
As social media coordinator for my media company, I'm responsible for creating public awareness of our efforts in social media, cross-promoting our various social media accounts, and helping to expand our digital footprint to meet the growing needs of our readers. And, if you know me, I'll have tons of fun along the way.
Please pop over to see what the new blog's about. I'd love to see you there as well. 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

This quote made me laugh...

"Writing is like sex. You have to save your love for the love object. If you go around spouting about your idea, there’ll be no “charge” left. You can’t father children that way." --RAY BRADBURY

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Quote of the day

“The most essential factor is persistence - the determination never to allow your energy or enthusiasm to be dampened by the discouragement that must inevitably come.” --James Whitcomb Riley