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Results 26 - 50 of 217,679
26. Three Months of Kidlit Book Giveaways! Awesome Books for Teens


Can you believe that Christmas is only a hop-skip-n-a-jump away???

With the winter months upon us, I feel this is a great time for readers of all ages to snuggle in with a good book. I have been blessed with tons of amazing books titles for kids over these last few months and I want to get these books into the hands of young readers. SO, for the next three months Jump Into a Book will be hosting a book giveaway every Wednesday! Some giveaways will be a single title, some will be a “Book Bundle,” but all will be books that your readers will love and cherish. I think these books will also make great gifts as well! Here’s what we are giving away this week (NOTE: All of these books are physical books, not Kindle versions).

This week I am giving away some wonderful book that will appeal to our teen and YA readers. Enjoy!

Briar Rose by Jane Yolen

Briar Rose

Ever since she was a child, Rebecca has been enchanted by her grandmother Gemma’s stories about Briar Rose. But a promise Rebecca makes to her dying grandmother will lead her on a remarkable journey to uncover the truth of Gemma’s astonishing claim: I am Briar Rose. A journey that will lead her to unspeakable brutality and horror. But also to redemption and hope.


Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu


The winner of numerous awards and recipient of four starred reviews, Anne Ursu’s Breadcrumbs is a stunning and heartbreaking story of growing up, wrapped in a modern-day fairy tale. Read my extended review and bookjump HERE.

The Girl from Felony Bay by J.E. Thompson
The Girl from Felony Bay

Abbie Force has a mission: solve the mystery of her father’s accident and alleged theft. Since he has been in a coma for nine months and cannot defend himself, it is Abbie’s job to put the pieces together. Her life has been uprooted—her father’s unavailable; her home has been sold to a new family; she has to leave her beloved school; and now she has to live with her mean aunt and uncle that don’t give one lick about her. Her summer is starting off horribly. That is until she meets the new family that has moved into her old house with the same last name and a daughter near her age—Bee. These two adventurous girls become fast friends and on their many adventures through the plantation, discover a plot afoot right under their very noses. Read my extended book review and bookjump HERE.

Horn’s and Wrinkles by Joseph Helgerson

Horns and Wrinkles

How can you tell if a river’s under a spell? River trolls, rock trolls, blue-wing fairies—the usual suspects. The stretch of the Mississippi where Claire lives has rumors of them all, not that she’s ever spotted any. But then Claire’s cousin Duke takes a swim and sprouts a horn—a long, pointy, handsome thing. After that, Claire doesn’t have much choice but to believe that something rivery is going on, especially since she’s the only one who can help Duke lose his new addition.
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The post Three Months of Kidlit Book Giveaways! Awesome Books for Teens appeared first on Jump Into A Book.

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27. A New Short Story from Philip Pullman and Some News about The Book of Dust

I was very excited to read about a new short story by Philip Pullman, featuring the nefarious and fabulous Mrs. Colter, that is being released today in the UK as an Audible.uk exclusive. Unfortunately and frustratingly “The Collectors” is not available in the US and Audible, when I asked, had no information as to when it would be. So for now we Americans have to make do with the below tantalizing excerpt read by Bill Nighy.

But wait, Pullman fans, there’s more; this in the Guardian article about The Book of Dust:

He said today: “It’s three pages longer this morning than it was this time yesterday, and … I’ll do another three pages today. It’s going steadily. But it’s a big book and it’s spreading out in the way I discussed, and I keep having to discover which ways are fruitful for the story to go in, and which are not. It’s a long process.”

Pullman promised: “I’m aiming to finish this next year. Then it’s a fairly lengthy process of editing. But I’m well on my way and proceeding steadily.”

Be still my heart!

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28. Writer Wednesday: Should You Query New Agencies?

Today's post topic came by request last week. Thank you, Fi, for a great question that I think many people probably have. Here's the question:

With regard to literary agents, would you approach a newly founded agency (with lots of industry experience) or hang off and see how they progress?

Okay, well I'm not sure I have the answer to this one because it's really a personal decision, but I'm going to give you some pros and cons on signing with a new agency to help you make a decision.


  • More individualized attention:  New agents and new agencies have smaller client lists, which means that if you sign with them, you will get a lot of individualized attention. That means quicker response times and an overall feeling of being special. :)
  • Hardworking:  I know writers who prefer newer agents and agencies because they work so hard for their authors. Why? The new agent/agencies have something to prove. They are trying to make a name for themselves. That means they are going to do their absolute best on your behalf. (I want to make it known that ALL agents/agencies should do this for you, though.)

  • No reputation to stand on:  New agencies don't have a reputation to stand on when it comes to submitting your work to editors. An editor may not recognize the agency name at all, instead of seeing a well-known agency they've worked with before and who knows the publishing house's tastes.
  • You might be the guinea pig:  There's a learning curve in this industry, so if you sign on with a new agent or agency, you have to understand that they are new to this and might not have a lot of experience negotiating contracts. However, some new agencies are started by very well-known and experienced agents. I don't consider them to be in this category.
I didn't set out to make an even number of pros and cons, but I think it goes to show that you have to judge each agent individually. Follow them online. See what kind of an agent he/she is. Are they editorial? Do they have relationships with editors at houses you'd like to be with? (You can see this easily on Twitter and Facebook.) Is the agent someone who represents him/herself in a way that you are comfortable with, because if you sign with that agent he/she will be representing you, too.

My advice to anyone querying is only query someone you could see yourself saying "yes" to if you are offered representation. If you're on the fence, wait. See what that agent does as far as sales. If you query someone you don't have faith in, you're really just waisting your time and the agent's. So query selectively. Finding an agent is like finding the person you want to marry. Sure, people divorce and find new agents all the time, but wouldn't it be great to have a long and successful career with someone who will really champion your books?

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29. Guest Post and Giveaway: Wendy S Marcus, Author of Loving You is Easy

Please welcome Wendy S Marcus to the virtual offices this morning!

First off a great big thank you to Manga Maniac Café for hosting today’s blog post promoting my Loveswept Contemporary Romance, Loving You Is Easy. In the story, the hero, Shane, is a soldier in the U.S. Army who returns home wounded. I’ve been asked to discuss five things Shane would never have in his rucksack. So here goes:

1) Porn – Since getting four full color, sexy pictures from his pen pal, Brooke, Shane has no desire to look at any woman but her. Those long, slender legs. That firm, perfectly rounded ass. Hot damn, gets him worked up every single time.

2) Pre-packaged/commercially produced baked goods – Shane’s mother loves to bake, and he grew up with a constant supply of delicious, fresh-baked cakes, pies and cookies. To this day she still makes sure he never goes without her tasty treats, even while he’s overseas. (Good thing he likes to work out or he’d be big as a house!)

3) A book – Shane’s more of an action guy than a reader. He prefers doing to reading about other people doing – especially where sex is concerned.

4) Lotion – Guys are tough and their skin should be tough. Now Shane believes lotion has its uses. Like foreplay, to get his hands on the soft, delicate skin of a woman’s back and shoulders. Or in a pinch, for a massage of a more personal nature, like when a man is away at war for months at a time. But he’d never let lotion take up valuable space in his ruck.

5) A camera – At the beginning of Loving You Is Easy Shane is in his fourth tour of combat duty in Afghanistan. The horrible images of all he has seen during years at war are forever burned into his memory – no matter how hard he’s tried to get rid of them. He does not need pictures to remember.

And now a question for you, if you had to go away for a long journey and all you could pack is one rucksack, what are the top five things you would definitely, without a doubt, take with you? Remember, they have to fit in your ruck!

Loving You is Easy
By: Wendy S. Marcus

Releasing December 9th, 2014


She’s a survivor of the front lines of politics. He’s a wounded soldier returning home from the battlefield. Can they place their trust in the power of love?

Nobody plays the role of perfect politician’s daughter better than quiet, respectable math teacher Brooke Ellstein. But she won’t be caught swimming with the sharks again, not after the son of a wealthy donor sinks his teeth into her and gets away with it. Still, political connections have their perks, such as heading up the governor’s “Support Our Troops” pen-pal initiative—and getting first dibs on the smoking-hot sergeant whose picture shakes her right down to her goody-two-shoes.

When corresponding with sweet, classy Brooke, Shane Develen instinctively hides his commando tattoos and blue-collar roots—and he can tell that she’s hiding something, too. But Shane knows he’s gained her trust when Brooke gives him a blisteringly sexy photo. Then he’s injured in an ambush and a fellow soldier posts the snapshot online. Overnight, Brooke’s reputation turns to ashes. Even though he’s totally wrong for her, Shane shows up on Brooke’s doorstep, determined to set things right—and discovers that right or wrong has nothing on the chemistry they share.

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/09/loving-you-is-easy-by-wendy-s-marcus_27.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22747255-loving-you-is-easy?from_search=true

Buy Links : Amazon | Barnes | iTunes | Kobo

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Loving-You-Easy-Wendy-Marcus-ebook/dp/B00LYXSNZG/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1411408102&sr=1-1&keywords=Loving+You+Is+Easy+by+Wendy+S.+Marcus

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/loving-you-is-easy-wendy-s-marcus/1120019667?ean=9780553391237

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/lv/book/loving-you-is-easy/id901077884?mt=11

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/loving-you-is-easy

Author Info

Wendy S. Marcus is an award-winning author of contemporary romance. A nurse by trade, Wendy holds a Master of Science in Health Care Administration, a degree that does her absolutely no good as she now spends her days, nights, and weekends mucking around in her characters’ lives creating conflict, emotion, and, of course, a happily ever after. Wendy lives in the beautiful Hudson Valley region of New York. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with her family, which includes her dog Buddy, and blogging/e-mailing/tweeting/facebooking with her online friends.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Website: http://wendysmarcus.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Wendy-S-Marcus-Author-Page/184507031577429
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/WendySMarcus
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4823224.Wendy_S_Marcus

Rafflecopter Giveaway ($25.00 eGift Card to Choice Book Seller and Loveswept Mug & Tote)

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The post Guest Post and Giveaway: Wendy S Marcus, Author of Loving You is Easy appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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30. When are 420 One-Star Book Reviews NOT a Bad Thing?


PB&J: Picture Books and All That Jazz: A Highlights Foundation Workshop

Join Leslie Helakoski and Darcy Pattison in Honesdale PA for a spring workshop, April 23-26, 2015. It's a great Christmas present to yourself or a writer friend! Full info here.
  • "This conference was great! A perfect mix of learning and practicing our craft."Peggy Campbell-Rush, 2014 attendee, Washington, NJ
  • "Darcy and Leslie were extremely accessible for advice, critique and casual conversation."Perri Hogan, 2014 attendee, Syracuse,NY

As I’ve watched the growth of children’s independent publishing this year, it’s clear that there’s a major problem: an inflated number of reviews.

In the independent world, a review on Amazon, GoodReads, LibraryThing, etc. is gold. Many of the publicity possibilities open to self-published folks depend on gaining a certain number of reviews on your book.

The biggest and most influential promotion service, Bookbub.com, is a subscription service that sends email to millions of readers about eBook specials. After its launch in 2012, it grew rapidly, found big investors last year and now commands a huge audience. Originally supported by independent authors and publishers, it currently reserves 25-50% of its ads for traditional publishers. In the independent world, it’s considered crucial to your book’s success to “get a Bookbub.” During the days your book is listed at FREE or reduced rates of $0.99 or $1.99, the book may download thousands of copies.

One local friend said his first Bookbub, he had 12,000 downloads of his free title. He’s typical of many indie authors because he has a series of books. Of the 12,000 who downloaded Book 1 for free, a couple thousand bought Book 2, 3 and 4. The sales of the other books in the series paid for the BookBub ad, and left him capital to do another book in the series.

A year ago, you wouldn’t be considered for a Bookbub with fewer than 25 reviews on your title. These day, I’ve heard more like 75-100 reviews are needed. When you apply for a BookBub ad, you’re told that they accept less than 20% of the applications.

What’s an author to do? Reviews on Amazon are GOLD! Reviews on Amazon might get you a BookBub Ad–which might get you thousands and thousands of downloads. Which might mean you have a chance of selling other books.

Yes, reviews on Amazon are GOLD! When an author asks you to review a book on Amazon, it’s crucial.

Social Proof. Reviews on online stores is considered proof that others like a certain product, or social proof. Even negative reviews are good because they are proof that the product hasn’t received reviews from only friends and family.

Comparison of Reviews of Two Books

I am going to compare the reviews of two books in a neutral manner. That is, I’ll set aside my personal evaluations of the quality of the titles. One is a hugely popular, free, independent title, while the other is the winner of the 2014 National Book Award for Young People Literature. From that alone, you might suspect that one is better than the other, and on that, I’ll make no statement because it’s not the point here. You may also suspect that the NBA Award winner would have far and away more reviews. Wrong.


This may not be the fairest comparison: picture books and novels may not receive the same amount of reviews. It’s just that these two books came to my attention at about the same time and I was struck by the difference in the number and quality of the reviews for each book.

Comparison of books: picture book v. novel; self-published v. traditionally published; ebook only v. available in many formats.

Comparison of the Amazon Reviews

As of today, Lily Lemon Blossom’s Welcome, by Barbara Miller has 3569 reviews with an average rating of 4.0 out of 5.0 stars.
5 Stars: 1932
4 Stars: 627
3 Stars: 389
2 Stars: 201
1 Stars: 420

As of today, Brown Girl Dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson has 50 reviews with an average rating of 4. 8 out of 5.0.
5 Stars: 42
4 Stars: 7
3 Stars: 0
2 Stars: 0
1 Stars: 1

How is it that an eBook-only picture-book has 3569 reviews? It’s easy, if she’s done multiple Bookbub ads. With 12,000 people downloading a typical FREE eBook advertised in Bookbub, a clever author puts prominent links asking for reviews at the back of the ebook. The ASK is important because it tells people of the need for reviews. Again, it’s one of the popular techniques of today’s independent author, a method that successfully gets multiple reviews on books.

Or is it that easy? In the face of such overwhelming numbers, it’s easy to be suspicious that the reviews are inflated somehow. No one can provide evidence to prove or disprove it–yet the suspicions remain. It’s certainly possible for all those reviews to be bonafide, given the surprising power of a Bookbub. Are book reviews artificially inflated somehow just for the possibilities of promotions like BookBub? Or does BookBub allow for for the inflated number of reviews?

Does it mean that one or the other sells better or makes more money? There’s no way to know unless the authors were to speak out on their incomes. It’s easy to say that both are selling well and making money.

Is this just the difference in a “popular” book and a “literary” book? Possibly. Do popular books may get more discussion surrounding them than literary books? Or do authors of popular books just emphasize reviews more than authors of literary books?

When is 420 One-Star Reviews NOT a Bad Thing?

When it is countered by 1932 5-star reviews?

The thing about reviews is that people tend to artificially inflate their opinion of a book. Many people will say, “I don’t like to trash a book. I only want to give good reviews.” It may actually be a good thing that 420 people felt honest enough to give Lily Lemon Blossom a very bad review.

In the end, the 420 matter less than the total of 3569 overall reviews. The fact that so many chose to leave ANY kind of review helps sell the book and the rest of the books in its series. It’s a book that many people are talking about, so there must be something to it, right? People download the free introductory book to find out what the discussion is about.

Get Thee a Goodly Number of Reviews!

In the midst of all of this, I am an a hybrid author who would love to see 3569 reviews on my traditionally and independently published books. Don’t you want overwhelming reviews on YOUR book?

But it’s daunting. To get that many reviews, I need a Bookbub; to get a BookBub, I need 75-100 reviews minimum and then a lot so luck; the Bookbub might then be a springboard to even more views and possibly a best-seller! But it’s a Catch-22. How do you get the 100 reviews in the first place, so that you can get the Bookbub to get lots of reviews and sales?

Online reviews as social proof may have been a good idea five years ago, but today, I wonder about their usefulness. But the other conclusion you must draw is that Bookbub.com has become a player in the book world in a huge way: if a BookBub ad has the power to make or break the career of an Indie author, it’s an interesting world indeed. Will it soon make or break the career of ANY writer? Already, indie authors who built up BookBub are muscled out by slots reserved for the better-paying traditional publishers; will it ever become limited to ONLY traditional published books?

The case of the inflated number of book reviews says much about the current state of the industry.

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31. Do you write middle grade fiction?

I am teaching an online class through the Loft Literary Center beginning on February 2, 2015. Here is the description:

Many consider ages 8–12, “the middle grades,” to be a golden age for readers. Their novels include classics like Charlotte’s Web, the Ramona series, and the earliest adventures of Harry Potter. Most Newbery winners also fall into this category. In this class, we will explore some of the qualities that make a book a hit with young readers, with an emphasis on developing a character-driven story. Topics covered include creating a main character kids want to chase through the pages of a novel, avoiding stereotypes and cliches, and being attentive to the inner life of a middle grade novel. Participants will have an opportunity to share their work and get feedback from their peers as well as from the teaching artist.

And here are answers to commonly asked questions:

  • The class is completely online and mostly asynchronous. We do have weekly live chats to check in but the meat of the class is in the online readings and discussion forums. (We use the Moodle platform, but don’t worry if that doesn’t mean anything to you.)
  • There is a chance to share works in progress with the rest of the class; you also get private feedback from me on about 10 pages of writing.
  • The class is listed as “intermediate” primarily because of the expectation that writers are familiar with (if not steeped in) middle grade books, but if you have not read a lot you can catch up by familiarizing yourself with at least some of the following books. Most are Newberry medalists or honorees, so look on that bookshelf if your bookstore or library has one! These are not assigned class readings, but I use them as examples throughout the class (this is a partial list):
    • Ramona Quimby, Age 8 (and others in the Ramona series) – Beverly Cleary
    • Bud, not Buddy – Christopher Paul Curtis
    • Harriet the Spy – Louise Fitzhugh
    • The Giver – Lois Lowry
    • Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH – Robert C. O’Brien
    • Hatchet – Gary Paulsen
    • From the Mixed Up Files of Basil E. Frankweiler – E. L. Konigsberg
    • The Westing Game – Ellen Raskin
    • Holes – Louis Sachar
    • Maniac Magee – Jerry Spinelli
    • When You Reach Me – Rebecca Stead
    • Charlotte’s Web – E.B.White

    We also all read one recent book recommended and voted on by the class, and I try to get the author to join us for a chat.

Sign up for the class here!

Filed under: Miscellaneous Tagged: middle grade fiction, online classes

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32. Get Traffic to Your Website with Inbound Marketing - New eClass

It’ll soon be a new year and with that I’ll be offering a NEW online marketing e-class through WOW! Women on Writing. As valued readers and visitors to this website, I want to keep you in the loop. Just like the marketing arena is ever changing, so are my classes. The reason is to keep up with all those changes. Beginning January 5, 2015, I’m offering a new 4-week e-class: GET TRAFFIC TO

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33. Dublin


Stone statues view strangely the sights below

Copper dye melts around the hallowed heads

And drips down to form pools of green.

They sit upon the ancient stones

And watch the urgency far below.

Tram tracks now covered deep.

The old ways  buried with layers of seasons past.

Dublin watches with her dons of old

Her Georgian facades hide songs of older times

She moves within her cast of sculptures; frozen.

Rusty steel arches stands proud and red above the fray

Placed over swirling Liffey, green. A path for trade and friends alike

They join her North and South.

Welcome lines hide ages in their grace.

Many crossed its spans for love or on the run.

Pillared columns stand haughty against the ages

They define the day. They fix the view.

The cut stone gates of Trinity.

The cobbled stones of streets of old.

Where iron shod feet once plied their trades.

Fanlights now illuminate the carpets thick.

In rooms where tailored suits and money meet.

The tea maids are gone. The scones are cold.

The silver set, now frozen behind the water glass.

Portraits watch with moldy eyes, from plastered walls.

Ireland April 2012 412.jpg large webNew blood moves quickly beneath her veins.

Her structure hardened by shells of old.

Her nature, pure, for all to see.

Her ancient stones laid stately, by the Norse.

Her history still defines her course.

Denis Hearn 2002

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34. Four Logic Problems that Will Ruin Your Day (and Your Manuscript)

As I’ve mentioned in other posts, there are a number of reasons why I may toss a book aside and never pick it up again. Clichéd characters, dragging first chapters, too much going on…the list, sadly, is long. (For my own personal list of what NOT to do in the opening pages of your story, check out the What Killed It For Me series.)

One of the things that most certainly WOULD kill it for me is when there are problems with the logic. If the author contradicts himself or something happens that totally doesn’t make sense…I don’t have much patience for that, and I don’t think most other readers do, either. Luckily, you don’t see much of this in published books because editors catch those mistakes. But it’s an issue I see quite a bit in manuscripts, and these little problems can slide your baby right out of an editor or agent’s inbox and directly into the circular file. None of us want that.

So I’m excited to welcome Harrison Demchick today to talk about something we’ve never discussed before at Writers Helping Writers: logic problems in manuscripts and how to avoid them.

Have you ever read a scene in a novel, or seen one in a film, that flat-out did not make sense?


Giacomo Spazio @ CC

I’m not talking about flying humans or talking animals or time machines. In their own contexts, there’s nothing illogical about any of these things, or for that matter anything else you can imagine. What I’m talking about are those moments where the protagonist says something he would never say or does something he would never do. Or those revelations that directly contradict already established fact. Or Halloween taking place two weeks after the Fourth of July.

These are logic issues, and if you remember how they made you feel when you spotted them, you know how your readers feel when such problems emerge in your own work. Logic problems remove readers from the world you’ve created. They take from you your narrative authority. They undercut conflict and tension. And if not identified and fixed, they will ruin your manuscript.

So let’s take a look at four different kinds of logic issues, where they come from, why they’re a problem, and how they can be resolved.

Type #1: Rule Violation

What it is: An apparent contradiction or inconsistency relative to the established rules of your world. 

Some might suggest that there are no rules in fiction, but that, of course, isn’t true at all. When it comes to establishing the world of your novel, there are two sets of rules: the rules readers bring to the story and the rules you bring to the story.

What readers bring to the story is common sense. That’s why you don’t have to explain concepts like restaurants, Sundays, and love and hate, and also why you don’t need to tell readers that someone who falls into the Grand Canyon is probably going to die. You, on the other hand, provide basic context—the particular rules and concepts that differentiate (or don’t) your world from the real one. If, in fact, it is not lethal in your world to fall into the Grand Canyon, or if the bottom of the Grand Canyon is an enormous trampoline, then you need to establish this.

Common sense and basic context comprise the rules of your novel, and when those rules are ignored or changed without explanation—for example, a human having an intellectual debate on Tolstoy with a box turtle in a world previously depicted as ordinary Victorian-era England—then we have problems.

Why it’s a problem: In a world without rules, nothing has meaning. Imagine your protagonist dangling off the edge of the aforementioned Grand Canyon. The tension in such a scene emerges from readers’ understanding that an ordinary man who falls into the Grand Canyon will die. But if there are no rules—if rules are added or changed or removed on a whim—there can be no tension. Maybe the character will die, or maybe he’ll bounce, or maybe he’ll fly away. Readers don’t know. And most problematically, very soon, they won’t care.

How to resolve it: Establish the rules early in your manuscript, ideally before the inciting incident. This is more difficult in some genres than others—it’s hardest for fantasy and science-fiction, which require a lot of basic context—but generally speaking, you want to establish the status quo before you change it. And ideally, this is done through showing rather than telling. Convey from the beginning a world in which turtles can talk with humans and that Tolstoy debate will read just fine.

Type #2: Continuity Violation

What it is: A contradiction or inconsistency relative to anything that has happened in your manuscript up to any given point.

This one is pretty simple. Everything that happens in your manuscript—not just every event, but every detail established in every sentence—is part of your continuity, and when you contradict that, you violate continuity. A character established as twenty-two can’t be twenty-five the next day. She can’t live in a trailer park on page 12 and a studio apartment in Greenwich Village on page 60. She can’t be lactose intolerant, then eat a giant bowl of ice cream without consequence.

Why it’s a problem: When readers invest their time and energy in your manuscript, you essentially promise them that you’re the world’s leading authority on the story you’re telling. Continuity violations break that promise. For readers, this is intensely frustrating, because if you seem not to know what you’re talking about, their time becomes a wasted investment. When you lose your authority, you lose your readers.

How to resolve it: First of all, be vigilant. Most continuity errors are simply mistakes. You forget what you wrote before, and thus accidentally contradict it. We all do it, and it’s not a big deal—just read carefully, and have someone else do the same if you know continuity to be a problem.

But you might also consider foregrounding. Foregrounding is addressing the continuity violation head-on, in the process making it part of the story. If something doesn’t make sense, but you or your characters acknowledge that it doesn’t make sense, readers will stick with you and accept it as either an intentional detail or something that will be explained later.

Type #3: Inconsistent Chronology

What it is: Inconsistency in the established passage of time in your manuscript, or lack of clarity and logic in when events occur relative to other events.

We know, as part of common sense, that night follows day and that there are five days in a typical school week, but this doesn’t mean that time passes automatically and logically in your manuscript. I’ve edited three different young adult novels in which school weeks lasted seven days or more, all because the authors referred to “the next day” and “the next day” without keeping track of how many next days had passed. I edited another novel in which, due to overuse of “several months later,” winter lasted for more than a year.

Why it’s a problem: Continuity will frustrate you, but chronology will kill you. You can’t make your climax the Thanksgiving Social if only two weeks have passed from the start of the school year. You can’t have two characters start and end a journey at the same place and same time when one’s adventure lasted three days and the other’s a week. Inconsistent chronology can result in impossible plot points, and these issues are very difficult to unravel.

How to resolve it: If chronology is a concern, timelines can make a huge difference. Create a separate document keeping track of the passage of time in your manuscript. Know for yourself exactly when anything happens relative to anything else. If you write it down and make it a point of focus, you should be able to keep such problems under control.

(Note from Becca: For cool possibilities in timeline software, check out Aeon Timeline, or download Timeline for Microsoft Office or TikiToki for Macs.)

Type #4: Rationalization

What it is: Pushing your characters or plot in the direction you want them to go even when other logic issues make this unlikely or impossible.

The killer strikes in broad daylight even though she’s previously only worked at night, and the only reason is that we’re nearing the end of the novel and the author wants her to be caught. A caring uncle abandons his niece and her friends because the author wants the protagonists to face the villain alone. These important moments are guided not by the needs of the story, but rather the needs of the author, who will spend paragraph after paragraph trying to rationalize her decision.

Why it’s a problem: I sometimes call this 2 + 2 = 5. It doesn’t matter how much explanation an author provides: two plus two will always come out to four, not five. Readers know that, and at heart, authors know that too—that’s why they’re working so hard to convince readers otherwise. Problems with rationalization make fundamental plot points impossible to believe.

How to resolve it: You can’t fix this one with foregrounding, because the explanation is often the problem. Instead, remember that you control both sides of the equation. If you can’t get two and two to equal five, change one of the twos to a three. Find another way to get where you want to go. Instead of forcing something that will never make sense, create something that will.

While logic alone will never create a great manuscript, you can’t create a great manuscript without it. Don’t give your readers a reason to put your book away. Mind your logic.


portraitcolor smallHarrison Demchick came up in the world of small press publishing, working along the way on more than fifty published novels and memoirs, several of which have been optioned for film. An expert in manuscripts as diverse as young adult, science-fiction, fantasy, mystery, literary fiction, women’s fiction, memoir, and everything in-between, Harrison is known for quite possibly the most detailed and informative editorial letters in the industry—if not the entire universe.

Harrison is also an award-winning, twice-optioned screenwriter, and the author of literary horror novel The Listeners (Bancroft Press, 2012). He’s currently accepting new clients in fiction and memoir at Ambitious Enterprises.


Angela is over at Writers In The Storm, talking about Gifts That Matter: The Most Important Thing A Writer Can Give Themselves This Christmas, so please stop in and say hello!



The post Four Logic Problems that Will Ruin Your Day (and Your Manuscript) appeared first on WRITERS HELPING WRITERS.

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35. Congrats to Hal Colebatch!

Congratulations to Hal Colebatch for winning the Australian Prime Minister’s history prize for his book, “Australia’s Secret War: How Unionists Sabotaged our Troops in World War II.”

He is also well-known for his Man-Kzin Wars stories, among many other works.

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36. Sorry To See You Go

My technophobic wife has taken an increasing shine to internet shopping.

Point, click, receive, wrap… Point, click, receive, wrap…

At this point, you might be thinking this is another husband-rant about all of the clicking activity and the bill that will come due in January. Well, that may be a subject for another post (I hope the title changes), but right now I’m trying to wrap my mind around the amount of email spam that her clicking has brought us. You see, we share an email account. Mistake? Maybe… but it has worked thus far.

Here is the problem, cleaning my inbox is the one thing I’m OCD about. I need it to be current or I lose focus. At work, I churn through emails faster than a Gopher on balsa-wood. If I can answer it immediately, it is gone. If it makes me mad, gone. If it is ambiguous and may not pertain to me, whoops, I hit delete. My inbox is squeaky-clean. The one at work, that is.

The shared inbox at home gets bogged down in December with order confirmations, shipping information, and advertisements. Oh the advertisements. Did I mention my wife is a technophobe? So, while she has mastered the checkout function of two hundred seventy-four websites, I can’t convince her that they won’t think any less of her if she unchecks the little box that says, “Would you like us to send you an ungodly amount of emails that are irrelevant, obnoxious, and likely to cause enmity between husband and wife?”

I should be working a second job to prepare for the aforementioned bill, but I spend my December trying to unsubscribe from every mailing list known to mankind. Only they lie to you when they allow you to hold the illusion that leaving them is an option. It’s a web of deceit – an impossibility. You cannot be removed from mailing lists. “You have been removed from our mailing list. We are sorry to see you go” is a lie from the bowels of the earth.


What the little button should say is, “Thank you for verifying your existence, I will now torture you every fifteen minutes with a blinking email reminder of your incompetence.”

After trying unsuccessfully to remove our email address from yet another list, I marched to the den, bowed out my chest, and sternly gave my wife an ultimatum!

“Either you learn to uncheck the subscribe button, or we are changing our email address!”


Women don’t like ultimatums.


Of course, our email address remains the same and though wounded and alone, I am off to fight a MailChimp.

Filed under: It Made Me Laugh

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37. Time Management Tuesday: The Unit System Lifeline During That Time Of The Year

Two years ago, I wondered if the unit system would get me through the holidays. My concern was "Losing time to the holidays, in and of itself, is a problem. What also happens, though, is that we can damage our work habits while not working and lose any carry-over flow we might have been experiencing." A week later I was reporting a major failure of will, self-discipline that had gone down in flames. Last year I wondered if sprinting and a new laptop would enable me to stay on task through the December holidays. It looks as if I never addressed how I did with this issue here at OC, probably because I was engulfed in a moderate health care crisis from the middle of December until the end of January.

So, two points:

My Major Problems With The End Of The Year Holidays

My control of my time is so tenuous that anything new that enters the playing field, like a holiday that requires hours and days and weeks of preparation, like two of them coming a month apart, is overwhelming. December/the Christmas season packs a double whammy, because in addition to being very time consuming, it involves an emotional toll. Christmas the secular event is supposed to be magic, whatever the hell that is. We're supposed to be creating magic. Yeah, we're talking a whole other level of time with the magic thing.

And we're supposed to be creating magic while we're maintaining a day job. Those of us who don't have traditional day jobs, who work for ourselves, in our homes, often have trouble controlling the boundary between home and work, anyway. It's all too easy to justify slipping over the border into work time to finally get started on cookies or get those gifts wrapped because cookies and gifts are magical. Magic is worth it, isn't it?

The Unit System

As the magic bleeds all over our days, sucking our work's life blood, small units of work time become more and more important. If we try to think in terms of a work week, we run the risk of hitting the What-the-Hell Effect. Oh, we don't have all week because of one holiday problem after another. What the Hell? We might as well forget about work then. The same is true of thinking in terms of a workday. At some points in December, we can't get many of those. So what the Hell? Why work at all?

But if you think in terms of forty-five, twenty, and even ten minute units of time, suddenly work options appear. Forty-five minutes at least a few times a week will work for editing a draft or maybe even progressing with  a new one. Twenty minute sprints each day can help keep you in a new project, even if you can't make a lot of forward movement with it. It can make a dent in blog posts or take care of some professional reading. Ten-minute sprints on a laptop set up in whatever room you're working magic in can allow you to knock off all kinds of work

So far, this is working for me. At least, it's working as far as work is concerned. I don't seem to be getting much magic done, though.

Hmm. I might use a tiny sprint this weekend to plan a rerun for next week's Time Management Tuesday post on the 23rd. On the 30th, I'll be doing a recapitulation post for my 2014.  

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38. Spotlight and Giveaway: Double Trouble by Lori Wilde

This morning I have an excerpt and give away for Lori Wilde’s Double Trouble.  Enjoy!


Two Lori Wilde romances together for the first time in print!


When her thrill-seeking twin sister goes missing, Maddie Cooper must come to her rescue-which means teaming up with irritating, arrogant, and altogether way too sexy FBI agent David Marshall. David isn’t one to get easily distracted but his new self-proclaimed partner has him completely sidetracked with her delectable curves and knockout smile. His first priority: follow the leads in the case. Then he can go about the all-too-enjoyable task of following his heart . . .


PR specialist Cassie Cooper loves the adrenaline rush of a well-planned party. And a masquerade ball at the museum is her best yet. But when a legendary amulet is stolen practically from under her nose, she needs the help of her nemesis, archaeologist Harrison Standish. No-nonsense Harrison has all the intensity of Indiana Jones. Though just when he needs his full attention on their mission, he’s having the damnedest time keeping his mind-and his hands-off Cassie . . .

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1rTIWNv
B&N: http://bit.ly/1FPwwsw
BAM!: http://bit.ly/12vZf7J

About Lori Wilde

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Lori Wilde has written sixty novels. She holds a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Texas Christian University and a certificate in forensics. She volunteers as a sexual assault first responder for Freedom House, a shelter for battered women. Lori is a past RITA finalist and has been nominated four times for theRomantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award. She’s won the Colorado Award of Excellence, the Wisconsin Write Touch Award, the Lories, the More Than Maggie, the Golden Quill, the Laurel Wreath, and the Best Books of 2006 Book Award. Her books have been translated into twenty-five languages and featured inCosmopolitan, Redbook, Complete Woman, All You,TIME, and Quick and Simple magazines. She lives in Texas with her husband, Bill. 







From Charmed and Dangerous

The air in the room seemed miserably hot even though he’d twisted up the controls on the air conditioner when he’d walked in. Or maybe it was the heat of his blood rushing through his veins.

“Nobody likes being intimidated.”

“Don’t be so sure of that. Ever heard of a submissive?”

“I’m not a submissive,” she denied. “Far from it.”

“You sure? You entered a man’s room while he was getting undressed.”

“That doesn’t make me submissive. If anything, I’d say I was dominant.”

“You dominating me?” The notion was so foreign, so utterly ridiculous that David burst out laughing.

His derision incensed her. She stabbed an index finger in his direction. “Maybe you’re the one who’s longing to be submissive.”

“Oh yeah?” Swiftly he covered the remaining distance between them.

She backpedaled until she ran smack dab into the wall. David grabbed both her wrists, pinned her hands above her head and swiftly shoved one knee between her legs, completely hemming her in with no way out.

“This look like submissive to you, darlin’?” he growled.

They were both breathing hard, their lips almost touching.

“For your information I’m a third degree black belt in karate,” she said.

“Bring it on. I’m fifth degree.”

“You don’t threaten me.” She gulped, belying her own bravado.

He saw the column of her throat muscles pump hard and he knew he’d succeeded in intimidating her, but still she held her ground. She might be scared, but she was too damned proud to run away.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The post Spotlight and Giveaway: Double Trouble by Lori Wilde appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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39. Illustrator Interview – Colleen Rowan Cosinski

       And how exciting is it to be able to congratulate an interviewee on signing with an agent the week before the interview?! Congratulations, Colleen, on signing with Isabel Atherton of Creative Authors, Ltd. I am sure you will … Continue reading

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40. Hanukwanzamas Deals

Greetings from Sydney. I’ve been here for a month now, recovering from the Afterworlds tour and putting the finishing touches on my next novel. (The title, etc. of this book is secret now, but much will be revealed early next year.)

In the meantime, and with due deference to the season, here are a couple of cool items to compliment your Hanukwanzamas haul:

Barnes & Noble has a signed and bonus content edition of Afterworlds on its shelves now. The extra material is one of the chapters that Darcy discarded after receiving her editorial letter. (So it’s part of Darcy’s book, pre-rewrites!)

This edition has two stickers on it, one for the extra content and one because it’s signed by me:


Alas, you can’t order the signed version online. But you can order the bonus content edition (without signature) right here.

For Uglies fans, I earlier this year wrote a short story called “How David Got His Scar.” The story is set in the time before David has met Tally, but after Shay’s runaway friends, Croy and Astrix, have reached the Smoke. It tells the secret story of David’s eyebrow scar.

To find this B&N hardback exclusive edition of Uglies, look for this black sticker in B&N stores:


You can also order this edition online right here.

Okay, there are some other holiday deals out there, but I can’t remember them. Will update this post when I do.

And happy Hanukwanzamas!

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41. Jessie Humphries, author of RESISTING RUBY ROSE, on knowing when to move on to a new story

What is your favorite thing about RESISTING RUBY ROSE?

The shower scene! Haha, that sounds scandalous, doesn’t it? I write YA after all. But for srsly, there are two things you can expect out of any Ruby Rose book: 1) kissing; and 2) killing. Which one do you think happens in the “shower scene?” Mwahahaha…

Do you want a more serious answer now? Okay, good. I’m really excited to introduce a few new characters into Ruby’s world. Especially this one hot male character with a British accent and impeccable taste in shoes. Enough said? I think so.

What was your inspiration for writing RESISTING RUBY ROSE?

Jason Bourne, Homeland, Heist Society, Dexter (and chocolate).
In all these stories, the characters grow, evolve, sometimes devolve, and surprise us. In the sequel to KILLING RUBY ROSE, I wanted Ruby Rose to live on, face new challenges, and surprise.

What did this book teach you about writing or about yourself?

This book was my 2013 NaNoWriMo book (National Novel Writing Month-where you commit to write 50,000 words in one month). Though I had already meticulously plotted out the story in a “Beat Sheet” (the method taught in the SAVE THE CAT writing books), I shocked myself that I could write a story so fast and seamlessly. I attest this victory to three things: 1) A large bulk of it was written at a writer’s retreat in Park City, Utah wherein a great deal of hot-tub-brainstorming took place; 2) I already knew Ruby and the world she lived in; and 3) I didn’t do it alone—I have two amazing writing partners and three talented editors at my pub house. In summary, writing a sequel doesn’t suck at all! (As long as there’s a hot tub involved).

Was there an AHA! moment along your road to publication where something suddenly sank in and you felt you had the key to writing a novel? What was it?

Yes, why yes, I did. I was at a writer’s conference in 2012 where agent Sara Crowe was speaking about the state of the industry and a few exciting books which she had recently sold. It occurred to me that the books she was describing weren’t anything like the book I was querying. Her words bounced through the echo chambers of my mind until something connected with something in my gut. I had been feeling like I needed to move on from the same story I’d been writing and rewriting for over two years. (Technically, I’d written two separate books with the same basic magic system and setting, but whatevs). I NEEDED TO MOVE ON! Sometimes letting go of the “story of your heart” NEEDS TO HAPPEN.

My AHA! moment was this: I knew I had to write a NEW story. One I felt passionate about, but also one an agent can sell. I KNOW THIS SUBJECT CAN BE CONTROVERSIAL. So let me be clear, I’m not saying, “write to the trends.” At all. I’m saying, “If publication matters to you, it would behoove you to know what the publishers want/don’t want to maximize your chances of representation and acquisition.”

So I dropped my paranormal story and I wrote a contemporary thriller, inspired by stories I loved. I felt refreshed with new characters, a different world, and a clean palate. It wasn’t long after that I landed one of the best-selling agents in the YA market (Sarah Davies) and she sold KILLING RUBY ROSE in a two-book deal. Sooo…it worked out pretty well ☺ Just sayin’.


Resisting Ruby Rose
by Jessie Humphries
Released 10/28/2014

Still reeling from the heartbreaking events that unfolded on Grissom Island, Ruby Rose is trying to come to terms with the fact that she’s gone from a vigilante in killer shoes to a stone-cold killer. Everyone from her therapist to her smoking-hot boyfriend keeps trying to convince her that she hasn’t crossed over to the dark side, but Ruby isn’t so sure. It doesn’t help that her nemesis, Detective “Mastermind” Martinez, is still out there, waiting for another chance to take her down.

When an alleged CIA agent named Skryker shows up and asks for a meeting, Ruby figures it just means more questions about her case. But he has information of an entirely different nature and a job offer: join an elite force of young assassins, including Skryker’s right-hand guy, Quinn Donovan. Quinn is distractingly charming, handsome—and deadly. Ruby resists becoming a killer again, but as she becomes more ensnared in a web of deceit, no one around her is safe.

Purchase Resisting Ruby Rose at Amazon
Purchase Resisting Ruby Rose at IndieBound
View Resisting Ruby Rose on Goodreads


Jessie Humphries is the bestselling author of the YA thriller Killing Ruby Rose, the first book in the Ruby Rose series. In addition to writing, she is a part-time attorney and a mother. She lives in Las Vegas with her husband and four children.

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42. (Re)Evaluating a Year

The year is coming to a close.

When 2014 first opened up, there were shiny new ideas, bursts of energy, and an overall hopeful outlook of a clean slate. It was a chance to get things right, get things done, and end the year with a feeling of accomplishment.

There were the things we thought we would manage: distractions, obligations, responsibilities.

But then there were the things we never saw coming: illness, social injustices, death of loved ones.

The year may have worn us all down. It could have been small cuts. Or devastating blows. Or deep wounds that are still quite not healed.

Either way, you’re standing on the cusp of a new year and you may not feel that you’ve done what you wanted. Now at the end, you may be left with the feeling that another year has slipped by. One more chance has been wasted. The initial evaluation of the year looks like another wash-up. No real successes. Another failure.

Maybe not.

Maybe it wasn’t at all bad. Let go of evaluating the disappointments, lost battles, and setbacks. Maybe instead concentrate on all the good things that happened to you in 2014. Focus instead on the intangible successes and give gratitude for your blessings — no matter how small. Make a list.

For me, here are some things from my list:

  • Being recognized and valued for my skills at my job
  • Selling my house and moving to the city
  • Developing a morning writing routine
  • Creating a total of 45K new words
  • Keeping the promise to travel for quarterly vacations
  • Making beautiful memories with my father
  • Listening to my heart and giving it a voice

I’m sure you can make your own list as well. Write it out. Glow in its truth and then get ready to face 2015 not as broken and bitter but as open and optimistic.

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43. Favourite Children’s Books of 2015 (Just In Time For Christmas!) – by Emma Barnes

A while ago I compiled a list of my favourite Christmas-themed books.  This year I've been inspired by the newspapers which are full of “Favourite Books of the Year” . Here are some children’s books, published in 2015, that I have really enjoyed, some of them by ABBA bloggers. If, like me, you like to buy your Christmas gifts last minute, maybe one of these will fit the bill.

They are all more-or-less for middle grade or a little older and I've listed them roughly in age of readership.

The Pearl Quest by Gill Vickery

The final book in Vickery’s delightful Dragonchild series is just as compelling as the first. These books concern, who has been raised by dragons, but is now on a quest to recover the jewels that protect the kingdom. It’s perfect for children drawn to epic fantasy, but pitched at a rather easier reading level than most fantasy, making it a great stepping stone to longer books like the Hobbit, the C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia or Le Guin’s Earthsea.

Stinkbomb & Ketchup-Face and the Badness of Badgers by John Dougherty

Earlier this year, John and I were both speaking at the launch of the Fantastic Books Awards in Lancashire, and I had the pleasure of listening to John read an extract from this wonderfully silly, funny book (I also heard him sing a song about having to cross your legs in class while waiting for the bell to go - that's another story). This book has made a big splash and is perfect for fans of the Mr Gum books.

Deep Amber – by CJ Busby

CJ Busby, like me, is a fan of the late, great fantasy author Diana Wynne Jones, and this funny, clever book is in the same tradition, blending two storylines, one concerning siblings Simon and Cat from our world, the other a fairytale world where Dora and Jem set out on a quest together. It culminates in a wonderfully funny and exciting episode in an old folks’ home.

Jane, the Fox and Me by Fanny Britt and Isabelle Arsenault

Graphic novels are one part of the book world which is booming – it’s all rather new to me, though, so I decided it was time to explore a little.  I really enjoyed this story in which Helene is being bullied by former friends at school in the most insiduous way - by making her feel bad about herself, as well as isolating her - and takes comfort from literature in the surprising form of Jane Eyre, meets a fox, and finally finds a new friend.

Jet Black Heart by Teresa Flavin

I’ll ‘fess up and say at once that Teresa is a friend of mine, and a fellow Yorkshire author too. I especially like that this story’s inspired by the coast around Whitby – a Yorkshire seaside town I also love – and its trade in jet jewellery. It’s part of the Barrington Stoke range of books, which are carefully designed for children and teenagers whose “reading” age may be lower than their actual age, but with no compromise on content or a first class story.

Daughters of Time - editor Mary Hoffman

This book is a collection of stories from writers over on The History Girls blog – and it’s a wonderful variety of different styles and voices, each story about a significant woman from British history from Aethelfled to Mary Wollstonecraft, Amy Johnson to Mary Anning. Perfect for teenagers and adults too – and in the tradition of the best historical fiction by writers such as Rosemary Sutcliffe and Barbara Willard.  I loved these stories, and wished that many of them could have been full length novels.

Emma's series for 8+ Wild Thing about the naughtiest little sister ever (and her bottom-biting ways) is published by Scholastic. 
"Hilarious and heart-warming" The Scotsman

 Wolfie is published by Strident.  It is a story of wolves, magic and snowy woods...
"A real cracker of a book" Armadillo 
"Funny, clever and satisfying...thoroughly recommended" Books for Keeps

Emma's Website
Emma’s Facebook Fanpage
Emma on Twitter - @EmmaBarnesWrite

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44. Broken Kei Teaser (The Broken Ones book 4)

Yes, book 4 of the Broken Ones is in the works! However, no, I don’t know when it will be released… still writing! I do promise to keep you all up to date :)

Teaser: Broken Kei (1st draft)

She held him tighter, rocking him. “We’ll fix it. Just stay with me.” His eyelids began to flutter again. “Kei!” She shook him again. “You have to stay with me.”

Heart wrenching sorrow filled his eyes as tears slipped down his face and his hand tightened on hers. “Can’t hold on,” he whispered.

“You can,” she insisted. I’m with you, always. “Kei!” Her shout roused him once more. “Forever beside you I shall stand,” she whispered, locking her gaze with his. “Together or apart, always I will be with you.”


A faint smile pulled at her lips and she sniffed, blinking back tears.

There he was.

“Help me,” he stuttered out. “I can’t…”

“I will. I will,” she promised.

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Well, it's the usual Wild Week Before Christmas Frenzy up here at the Pole. Sometimes it looks as if we are in fast forward! Quizzy is turning out word and board games nonstop. Blizzy is making thousands and thousands of snowflakes and snowglobes to put 'em in. Fizzy is building her cool new "Jill in the Boxes" etc.. Dizzy and Frizzy are making m______ t_____ (don't want to spill the beans on what they are doing now - you'll have to read Frizzy, the S.A.D. Elf to find out!). Tizzy is madly reading books and deciding which one to send to which child. Whizzy is wrapping gifts galore so fast he's a kind of a blur. And Bizzy is trying to keep track of all the wishlists on the internet, which we are all happy about because it keeps him out of our hair. (Sorry, Bizzy.)

Meanwhile, Tizzy would be happy to send any of Santa's Izzy Elves stories to you a little bit more directly than in Santa's sleigh! Just click on the buy links on the right side of this page.

As he mentioned in a previous post, Tizzy has terribly Mixed Feelings about selecting our own books to put in The Pack.  Please help him out by buying them directly from this page! That will save him a lot of angst.

And believe us when we tell you that there is already plenty of angst around the Pole.  We Izzies always work against a Certain Deadline and it is only one week away!

P.S. E-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-k!

The Izzy Elves

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46. Best-Of Book Lists

I have a love–hate relationship with best-of book lists. I find sometimes people try too hard to seem clever about what they’ve chosen and not hard enough about including honest-to-goodness good reads. But I am simultaneously unable to abstain from perusing said lists. I feel an innate need to gauge whether or not I think […]

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47. My tweets

  • Tue, 17:14: Whenever anyone commits crimes against children, they commit crimes against humanity. Politically-motivated crimes against kids? Always evil
  • Tue, 17:16: You can check out UNICEF's page for what you can do to stop violence against children. http://t.co/xQcRKgGFPc #taliban

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48. Holiday Music

When Christmas music blasts in stores,
It jangles all my nerves.
I really do not understand
The purpose that it serves.

Such gaiety seems forced and fake,
Especially to me,
‘Cause I’m not one to celebrate
With wreath or Christmas tree.

But recently inside a shop
The dreidel song did blare.
You’d think I’d be excited
By a happening so rare.

However, you’d be wrong
For the reaction that I had
Was that songs of Chanukah, in stores,
Sound equally as bad!

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49. In Memory: Norman Bridwell

By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

Norman Birdwell, Creator of "Clifford The Big Red Dog" Dead at 86 from The Martha's Vineyard Times. Peek: "In 1962 Mr. Bridwell found himself having to support a wife and infant daughter on extra money he picked up doing freelance artwork. He considered supplementing his income by illustrating picture books."

"Clifford The Big Red Dog" Creator Norman Bridwell Has Died by Carolyn Kellogg from The L.A. Times. Peek: "The first Clifford book was published in 1963. All told, there are more than 129 million copies of the many Clifford books in print in 13 languages. The character was also been the basis of an Emmy-award winning animated television show on PBS."

Obituary: Norman Bridwell by Shannon Maughan from Publishers Weekly. Peek: "Bridwell’s famous pup, introduced in 1963, was originally going to be called Tiny. But the author’s wife, Norma, suggested that the dog be named after her own childhood imaginary friend, Clifford."

See also Norman Bridwell Papers from de Grummond Children's Literature Collection at The University of Southern Mississippi.

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50. How Characters Can Become Stories – Erika Wassall

snowman family

Talk about character, here is a steampunk snowman family Sylvia Liu recently made, as part of a new daily creative challenge blog that she started titled, Create One a Day. You can see her portfolio at: http://www.enjoyingplanetearth.com)

erikaphoto-45Erika Wassall, the Jersey Farm Scribe here on….

How Characters Can Become Stories

I enjoy character studies. Books that give perspective into the mysteries of human nature, and how we deal with intense mental, physical and psychological difficulties.

Give me a character I want to sit down and have a drink with, or even observe from afar and watch their interactions and reactions… and I’m sold.

When I write, I’m often focusing on a character in my mind. They’re more than a name, more than any description I can put on paper. I can sense them, know their thoughts, feel their emotions.

Which is great, right?

Well… yes. And sometimes no.

I tend to get bogged down in character development. Plot, is much more difficult for me. I’m exceedingly jealous of people who are more natural at plot than character development. While probably similar to curly-haired people wanting straight hair and straight-hair people longing for curls, being able to nail down a plot always seemed like it would make things “come together” more, give me more to go from.

Reading books on plot and attending workshops has been absolutely mandatory for me.   Martha Anderson, The Plot Whisperer… I honestly don’t know where my writing would be without her insight. I highly recommend her books for anyone else who gets stuck on plot.

For me, I’ve found one trick that works wonders for me, helping me take my character molds, and create not just ANY plot, but THE PLOT. The path the character was meant to take.

It’s focused on character transformation.

One of the other problems with an overly specific character profile, is that, to me, that’s how they ARE. And it’s hard for me to see them any other way. This makes for a very stagnant character, which we all know doesn’t really work.

This process helps me on both accounts.

I take the character, in all their their moods, their quirks, their temperament, and I make them the FINAL version of the character. (obviously this can change as time goes on, it’s just part of my process).

I ask myself… why?  What happened to them that gave them that chip on their shoulder or that far away look on their face they get when they listen to a certain song? Why do they place money all facing the same way, before putting it in their pocket?

I write out/think about, three categories: Mental, Physical and Psychological. I start out with at least two major and three minor things in each category. There are overlaps, but they each must have their own, specific effects on the character.

And then I delete them.

Naomi doesn’t like to be alone because she was once left behind during a field trip and spent a horrifying weekend alone in a museum. What was she like before that? Maybe before, she didn’t see how people could be a source of comfort. Or maybe it’s the opposite. Maybe before she was just a healthily independent person, and now she’s overly clingy.

Jurret has scars on his back up into his neck from fighting off a robot scorpion that was attacking his older sister. It makes him uncomfortable taking off his shirt, and sometimes he even wears turtlenecks so no one can see it. His sister lived, but was badly injured with many scars of her own, including some on her face. He feels responsible for her turmoil as well.

What was he like before all that happened? Did he and his sister get along? Were they close? Maybe he was a gym junkie who was overly concerned with appearance and it gave him much-needed humility. Or maybe he was already plenty humble and this just drained him of his confidence. Perhaps before that, he always felt like the baby, the one everyone was taking care OF, and that day, everything changed. Before then, perhaps he never felt both the joy, and the burden of responsibility.

I do this with dozens of concepts for my character. Literally.

And I don’t always write them down. Sometimes I just think about them. While I’m driving. Cooking. Food shopping. It’s a great exercise I work into time that I’m not necessarily able to write. Then later, I’ll jot down a few notes, sometimes just two or three words, to remember the concept.

The more interesting an idea – or a “deletion” as I have come to call it – the more I actually write it out. Sometimes these “scenes” even become actual events in the book.

But I write out FAR more than I end up using.

At some point, I start to feel a general theme, a pull in a direction of a certain “type” of transformation, and certain related concepts that bring the character through that change… events, relationships, both pain and joy.

And for me, this is where I find my plot. Hidden beneath the intricacies of the character. And I know it’s right when it makes the character themselves even stronger, more solid in nature, more truthful.

This doesn’t (usually) give me a nicely-laid-out plot. But it gives me ideas, storylines I can get excited about. It helps make “plot” a less intimidating, overwhelming word, and interweaves it into what I already have.

What “deletions” could you do to your characters? Do you have other tricks or exercises that help you to develop the nature and variables of your plot?

This one really can be time consuming. And I end up throwing out countless concepts, but that’s just nature of beast! And you know that I’m a believer…

… our manuscripts are worth it!

Erika Wassall is a writer, a farmer and a liver of life. She is a member of SCBWI and a proud Mad Scientist, bringing science experiments right into children’s classrooms, and hearts. She has a small farm in New Jersey with sheep, chickens, pigs and vegetables. Check out her new website at www.TheJerseyFarmScribe.com where as a first generation farmer, she often takes the long way, learning the tricks of the trade on The Farm. On her website is also The Shop page with tips and a free Q/A from her husband’s mechanic shop, and The Writer page where she shares stories, experiences and characters from the heart. Follow her on Twitter at @NJFarmScribe. She’d love to hear from you!

Thank you Erika for another great post. We all enjoy your posts.

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: Advice, article, Author, Character, inspiration, writing Tagged: Erika Wassall, Guest Post, How Characters Can Become Stories, Sylvia Liu

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