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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Writing, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. Writing Lessons from the TV Show Dexter

I just got into the TV show, Dexter.

I never had Showtime before so I couldn't watch it and the entire 8 seasons is now free on Netflix. (woot woot! I know what I'll be doing over the summer.)

This is the. best. show. evah!

If I could write books like this - I would be a bestseller for sure!

I'm learning so many writing lessons from this show that I wanted to share:

Top 10 writing lessons from Dexter:

  1. Character arc - The character arc in each show let alone every season is amazing! Each character changes a little. in each episode.
  2. Dexter. The man perfect for this character - smart, hot, funny. So relatable that the whole serial killer thing is overlooked or accepted and you don't really know why or how it happened. :)
  3. Tension/Pace - Each chapter should have some tension or suspense. Even in books that aren't thrillers, you need to keep the reader turning the page. The suspense is killing me - every show has an amazing cliff hanger and i find myself saying "just one more episode."
  4. Voice - Each character should have his/her own voice. This is what makes each person special and relatable. Every character has their quirks, flaws and lovable moments.
  5. Character Development - Every character should be fully developed with backstory and motive. Each character from Dexter, to his sister Deb, to the "reborn cop" Angel, to the other forensic scientist, Vince. Each is unique.
  6. Villain - Your antagonist should be relatable. Not that Dexter is the antagonist but he should be. he's a serial killer yet somehow you root for him not to be caught.
  7. Setting. Your setting should invoke some emotion. Dexter is set in Miami. Everyone is always hot and sweating which adds anxiety to everything they do.
  8. Romance - Dexter started out awkward and has become more sexy as the shows go on. He's had a couple love interests but they were very purposeful in his character development which I find refreshing. It's not just love on the side. Each plays an important role in his arc.
  9. Reveals/Surprises. The reveals should be well placed and strategic. It all has to make sense in the end. So far they have done a brilliant job of reveals and I find myself going "I did not see that coming."
  10. Hook - You need a great hook as the foundation of any story. The idea of a serial killer killing bad guys is brilliant. 
You need to watch this show, esp if you are a thriller writer. The lessons are endless.

I heard there were Dexter books so I may check that out just to see how it plays out in the writing vs script.

Have you watched Dexter? What do you think? What is your favorite lesson from the show?

0 Comments on Writing Lessons from the TV Show Dexter as of 4/23/2014 3:05:00 PM
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2. The Opposite of Loneliness + a Book Giveaway

I rarely read collections of short stories or essays, but I made an exception for The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories by Marina Keegan. It's a book written by a debut author. Unfortunately, it's her final title since she died tragically in 2012.

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3. Celebrating Earth Day 2014

Ecologists and entomologists. Natural history buffs. Bloggers with green thumbs. We're among many WordPress.com users focused on nature and the environment. Today, let's celebrate the work of some of these bloggers.

12 Comments on Celebrating Earth Day 2014, last added: 4/22/2014
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4. More About Endings, Ambiguous and Others

Endings have always been my Everest. Or, really, if writing a novel is like climbing Everest, then my tendency is to get within eyeshot of the summit and say, “Well, that’s far enough.” In the seventh grade my English teacher had only one rule: Our stories couldn’t end with it all turning out to be a dream. Thanks to me, this rule soon expanded to include everyone dying in a bus crash, an asteroid hitting Earth, etc., etc.

I just finished reading Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to my 4th graders. When we got to the last few pages  I warned them to be irritated. Why? Because of the horrible ending. Not only does it all turn out to be a dream, but Carroll blathers on in the most twee and sentimental way. So, I’m with that 7th grade English teacher — no ending-with-a-dream.

But that 7th grade teacher’s admonition is only a tiny piece of Kristopher Jasma’s thoughtful NYTimes essay, “The End, or Something.” Jasma looks at many aspects of the struggle and importance of endings including those ambiguous ones and how and what is satisfying and necessary both for the writer and the reader.


3 Comments on More About Endings, Ambiguous and Others, last added: 4/22/2014
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5. Blog Tour: My Writing Process

I’ve been invited to participate in the fabulous #MyWriting Process blog tour! Today is going to be all about process, process, process.

I was tagged to be a part of this tour by the awesome Ellar Cooper, who shared her writing process last week. Ellar is a heart-stopping writing talent. Seriously, I can’t wait for her books to be on the market! She writes young adult fiction and fantasy, and is a Dystropian from Vermont College. Be sure to read her post and peek into her brilliant mind.

And onto the tour…

MY WRITING PROCESSPeter Pan Book

What are you working on?

I’m working on a YA steampunk re-imagining of Peter Pan. There’s no magic and Peter and Hook are the heads of rival gangs that sell a hallucinogenic drug known as Fairy Dust. Wini Darling, the daughter of a bank mogul, is lured into the whimsical and artistic world of the Nevers, a secret underground artist community, in order to help her drug-addicted brother who’s been captured by Pirates. Only it’s not so easy to find her brother and leave the Nevers as she thinks.

Wini finds herself intoxicated by the no-rules artist culture of the Nevers and simultaneously mixed up in a street war between the Pirates and the Lost Boys. Then there’s that thrill-seeking, drunk-on-life Peter fellow who’s got one hell of a sweet spot for Wini Darling. Sometimes, not growing up can be a dangerous adventure.

How is your work different than others in your genre?

The tricky part about this question is I’m not sure how you might classify this book’s “genre.” It happens to be its own crazy cocktail made up of:

  • 1 part bastardization of Victorian steampunk
  • 2 parts fantasy world building
  • A ton of multi-cultural characters to keep track of (Game of Thrones style)
  • A pinch of Doctor Who influence
  • A smidgen of Robin Hood
  • A timeless gargantuan dose of never-gonna-grow-up Peter Pan
  • Two cups of hot-pink graffitti
  • A dash of Ingrid’s deliciously sensual writing
  • And some esoteric psychobabble on the importance of art…
  • Sprinkle in a little fairy dust, grab the spoon second to your left and stir straight on till morning.

So… yeah, please tell me what genre that is.

Why do you write what you do?

I only write stories that have been simmering in the back of my mind for a long time.  This one’s been cooking for at least 5 years (maybe longer if I’m honest). I write the stories that I can’t seem to forget. I write the ones that have some emotional nugget in them that keeps twirling itself over and over in my brain and whispering: explore me, write me, there’s a truth in here and it’s waiting for you to find it.

I suppose those are the stories worth telling: the ones that haunt you, the ones that demand your heart.

68701d459c1e0ce432536991c6835b8eHow does your writing process work?

My writing process is a daily, hourly, weekly, yearly exploration of the demands and needs of each individual project. And the needs of each novel (like all the relationships in one’s life) are different.

This book demands immersion. She demands focus for hours at a time. And I’m not talking half-assed freewriting or NaNoWriMo first draft word-puke. This novel wants my blood (kind of like Captain Hook). This novel is a jealous and fickle girl too. She hates it when I look at other projects or I divide my attention with puny necessities like food or sleep. This book wants all of me.

I do the best I can to keep myself immersed in this novel as much as I can (because she likes to hole up and shut me out for weeks if I’m not diligent). I keep an extensive Pinterest page for this novel to make sure my imagination is constantly exploring this world visually. I steal words from other books that sound like they might fit the voice of my novel. I try morning writing where I focus on a detail: the view outside Peter’s window, the color of a mermaid’s hair. Sometimes that detail grows into a scene. Sometimes it’s just drivel. The goal is to keep my mind exploring the story every day.

I do the hefty writing on the weekends. I set aside large chunks of hours and get lost. Immersion. I go to Neverland in my mind and I’m there all day. This book is not a vomit-first draft. It can’t be. I have to spend too much time figuring out who these characters are and their motivations. I can’t skim the surface with them. Instead I dig in and write a scene, then re-write the scene, re-position the scene, re-word the scene, re-everything until I find an emotional heartbeat in it. This isn’t a fast process. But it’s a heartfelt one.

The process for writing every novel is different. For this one … slow and steady wins the race.

May the Tour Continue!

If you enjoyed this little glimpse into the writer’s life, please follow the tour as I pass the torch to Amy Sundberg (my sister in last name, but not by blood) who will share her dazzling process next week!

Amy Sundberg is a SF/F and YA writer. Her short fiction has appeared in Redstone Science Fiction, Daily Science Fiction, and Buzzy Magazine, among others. She lives in California, and when not writing, she’s either buried in a good book, singing musical theater songs, or trying to add more pins to locations visited on her world map. She is an avid blogger at practicalfreespirit.com and can be found on Twitter as @amysundberg

Please also check out the process of my fellow Dystropians who are also posting today as part of this blog tour!

Happy writing everyone!


0 Comments on Blog Tour: My Writing Process as of 4/22/2014 5:31:00 PM
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6. Blog Tour: My Writing Process

I’ve been invited to participate in the fabulous #MyWriting Process blog tour! Today is going to be all about process, process, process.

I was tagged to be a part of this tour by the awesome Ellar Cooper, who shared her writing process last week. Ellar is a heart-stopping writing talent. Seriously, I can’t wait for her books to be on the market! She writes young adult fiction and fantasy, and is a Dystropian from Vermont College. Be sure to read her post and peek into her brilliant mind.

And onto the tour…

MY WRITING PROCESSPeter Pan Book

What are you working on?

I’m working on a YA steampunk re-imagining of Peter Pan. There’s no magic and Peter and Hook are the heads of rival gangs that sell a hallucinogenic drug known as Fairy Dust. Wini Darling, the daughter of a bank mogul, is lured into the whimsical and artistic world of the Nevers, a secret underground artist community, in order to help her drug-addicted brother who’s been captured by Pirates. Only it’s not so easy to find her brother and leave the Nevers as she thinks.

Wini finds herself intoxicated by the no-rules artist culture of the Nevers and simultaneously mixed up in a street war between the Pirates and the Lost Boys. Then there’s that thrill-seeking, drunk-on-life Peter fellow who’s got one hell of a sweet spot for Wini Darling. Sometimes, not growing up can be a dangerous adventure.

How is your work different than others in your genre?

The tricky part about this question is I’m not sure how you might classify this book’s “genre.” It happens to be its own crazy cocktail made up of:

  • 1 part bastardization of Victorian steampunk
  • 2 parts fantasy world building
  • A ton of multi-cultural characters to keep track of (Game of Thrones style)
  • A pinch of Doctor Who influence
  • A smidgen of Robin Hood
  • A timeless gargantuan dose of never-gonna-grow-up Peter Pan
  • Two cups of hot-pink graffitti
  • A dash of Ingrid’s deliciously sensual writing
  • And some esoteric psychobabble on the importance of art…
  • Sprinkle in a little fairy dust, grab the spoon second to your left and stir straight on till morning.

So… yeah, please tell me what genre that is.

Why do you write what you do?

I only write stories that have been simmering in the back of my mind for a long time.  This one’s been cooking for at least 5 years (maybe longer if I’m honest). I write the stories that I can’t seem to forget. I write the ones that have some emotional nugget in them that keeps twirling itself over and over in my brain and whispering: explore me, write me, there’s a truth in here and it’s waiting for you to find it.

I suppose those are the stories worth telling: the ones that haunt you, the ones that demand your heart.

68701d459c1e0ce432536991c6835b8eHow does your writing process work?

My writing process is a daily, hourly, weekly, yearly exploration of the demands and needs of each individual project. And the needs of each novel (like all the relationships in one’s life) are different.

This book demands immersion. She demands focus for hours at a time. And I’m not talking half-assed freewriting or NaNoWriMo first draft word-puke. This novel wants my blood (kind of like Captain Hook). This novel is a jealous and fickle girl too. She hates it when I look at other projects or I divide my attention with puny necessities like food or sleep. This book wants all of me.

I do the best I can to keep myself immersed in this novel as much as I can (because she likes to hole up and shut me out for weeks if I’m not diligent). I keep an extensive Pinterest page for this novel to make sure my imagination is constantly exploring this world visually. I steal words from other books that sound like they might fit the voice of my novel. I try morning writing where I focus on a detail: the view outside Peter’s window, the color of a mermaid’s hair. Sometimes that detail grows into a scene. Sometimes it’s just drivel. The goal is to keep my mind exploring the story every day.

I do the hefty writing on the weekends. I set aside large chunks of hours and get lost. Immersion. I go to Neverland in my mind and I’m there all day. This book is not a vomit-first draft. It can’t be. I have to spend too much time figuring out who these characters are and their motivations. I can’t skim the surface with them. Instead I dig in and write a scene, then re-write the scene, re-position the scene, re-word the scene, re-everything until I find an emotional heartbeat in it. This isn’t a fast process. But it’s a heartfelt one.

The process for writing every novel is different. For this one … slow and steady wins the race.

May the Tour Continue!

If you enjoyed this little glimpse into the writer’s life, please follow the tour as I pass the torch to Amy Sundberg (my sister in last name, but not by blood) who will share her dazzling process next week!

Amy Sundberg is a SF/F and YA writer. Her short fiction has appeared in Redstone Science Fiction, Daily Science Fiction, and Buzzy Magazine, among others. She lives in California, and when not writing, she’s either buried in a good book, singing musical theater songs, or trying to add more pins to locations visited on her world map. She is an avid blogger at practicalfreespirit.com and can be found on Twitter as @amysundberg

Please also check out the process of my fellow Dystropians who are also posting today as part of this blog tour!

Happy writing everyone!


4 Comments on Blog Tour: My Writing Process, last added: 4/22/2014
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7. Three When One Will Do

I’ve been doing a lot of editing recently and have noticed a quirk that I’m totally guilty of. Instead of choosing one very strong image that says it all, writers don’t quite trust their readers to get it (a very common problem) and are dogpiling several related ideas into one sentence of description.

For example:

Looking at the buffet, she was so famished that she could swallow it all in one gulp, leaving nothing left, licking even the grease trap of the giant rotisserie oven clean.

Girl is hungry, we get it! (Side note: Don’t try and write examples on an empty stomach.) Here we have three images, one weak (leaving nothing left), one medium (swallow it all in one gulp) and one very strong and specific (the grease trap thing).

The reason I went a bit off the deep end with the final image is that it is unusual, descriptive, and teaches us a little bit about character while conveying the same information as the other two–not only is she hungry, but she’s a little grungy, and knows her way around a kitchen. There are people who just want the tenderloin steak, and then there are people who want the gristle and bones to gnaw clean. The strange way her mind goes to the drippy, fat-caked grease trap puts her firmly in the latter camp.

So pick one strong, specific image with potential emotional or characterizing undertones to it. Your aim isn’t to give a reader information as many times as possible, it’s to do it once, and ideally in a memorable way. Less is more. In fact, in writing, piling imagery onto one idea actually dilutes the effect instead of concentrating it.

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8. RhyPiBoMo End of Week 3

Still plugging away on RhyPiBoMo and learning A LOT! I don't have any poems to post, but I'm almost finished with one that I'm going to enter into the Golden Quill Poetry Contest. In the meantime, here are the books I've read in the last 2 weeks.

0 Comments on RhyPiBoMo End of Week 3 as of 4/21/2014 2:33:00 AM
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9. Becoming the Possible You

I’m reading two great books right now by Jean Houston: The Possible Human : A Course in Enhancing Your Physical, Mental, and Creative Abilities and A Passion for the Possible: A Guide to Realizing Your True Potential.

The premise of both is this: We’ve heard all our lives that we’re only using a tiny fraction of our brains, but then . . . we just accept that and move on. Why not instead retrain ourselves to use more of the hidden brain? Why not make the effort to access more of our potential in thought and behavior?

The thing I love about her books is she doesn’t make it hard. You don’t have to go to some boot camp of personality reconditioning where you sort out all your problems and your flaws and then sweat your way through getting rid of them.

Jean Houston’s books are relaxing. Her mental and visualization exercises are some of the best I’ve ever read and tried. I’ve turned other people onto her books, and they agree: it’s all so easy. And fun and (here’s that word again) relaxing. I’m into any self-improvement that makes me feel like I’ve been at a mental spa for half an hour, or even for five minutes. And some of her exercises take that little time.

One of my favorite visualization exercises of hers is walking up to a giant oak door that has a sign above it saying Room of the Skill. Deciding what skill you’d like to learn in there, then entering and feeling it in the air all around you. Maybe you’d like to learn to play the violin. You enter and violinness is already sealed into that room, and it starts seeping into your pores and you breathe it in and it sticks to your hair and it soaks into your bones.

There are other parts of the visualization that are important to gaining the skill–and I urge you to read the books to really get the full power of them–but I really love just that opening image of It’s already here. You’re already getting it. You don’t have to wait.

I’ve mentioned before my experiments in getting over my fears by just postponing when I want to feel them. The Jean Houston books open up another way of becoming what she calls The Possible Human. And what we’ll call The Possible You.

Let’s say you believe you have certain personality and physical traits: you’re shy. You’re not good at sports. You get angry easily. You’re a slob. You overeat. Whatever it is, I’m sure you could make up a list of four or five things right now with no effort.

What if you just decided Not anymore? And what if you also decided that there didn’t have to be any steps in between now and that next thing. You could just stop what you were doing before and start doing the new thing right now, right away, just decide.

Years ago I read a story in some Norman Vincent Peale book about a salesman who was having a really hard time. He couldn’t meet his sales goals, he felt awkward and ineffective around people–he was, in short, a failure.

And he got tired of that. Got tired of constantly having to stress over his paycheck and his bills, got tired of feeling so inadequate at a job where he actually meant to do well.

So one night he came home from another unsuccessful day on the road and decided That’s it. Enough. He peeled off his unsuccessful suit and took a bath. And decided during that bath that when he stepped out, he was a new man.

He threw away the old suit. Went out and bought a new, successful one (not expensive, just new. Different). And without waiting to go through some 9-step program of becoming a successful salesman, he just was one. He decided. He started behaving the way a successful salesman already does. No explanation to people who saw the change, no need to announce it to the world, just Do. Go. Be him.

By the end of the year he was the top salesman in the region. It looked like magic, but it was really just change. Deciding and then changing–right away.

I’ve done that, too. There was a time in my life when I got really tired of feeling shy. It was making me feel bad in social situations and even just stepping out my door into the world. I didn’t like it. It was a bad habit I’d picked up somewhere in my childhood, and I’d acted like it was just the way things were for the next however many years.

But one day I just told myself, “I’m not shy anymore.” And then in every single situation from then on, I made all my decisions based on that new law. I’d smile at people. Be friendly. Laugh when I felt like it. Little moments all day long, every day, when I let myself be different than I had been for years and years.

And what was key to pulling that off was I didn’t feel the need to explain the change to anyone. I got to skip all the steps of changing a little bit one day, a little bit more the next. I was like that salesman taking a bath and coming out a new person.

If anyone did ask me about the difference, I’d just say, “I’m not shy anymore” and move on. People don’t really need more explanation than that. They’re usually too busy thinking about their own lives.

I’ve also done the experiment with physical skills like athletic pursuits. Instead of telling myself “This is hard! It’s going to take a long time to learn this,” I’ve practiced just already being good at it. Letting it come easily instead of going through the performance of pretending to myself it’s difficult.

So much of what we do when we hold ourselves back really is performance. It’s theater. We’re so comfortable in our role of being shy, awkward, bad at math, a bad cook, bad at sports, ugly, scared (fill in your own blank) we just keep playing that part without ever realizing it’s only a part.

But if instead you start picturing The Possible You, the one who looks a certain way, is confident, has awesome skills, is friendly and happy (fill in your own blank), and then you just go ahead and begin being that version of you, right now, no middle steps, no announcements to the world–isn’t that a much better way of evolving into the next stage of you right now? Isn’t it time? Why do you have to wait?

In a way, it’s reverse-engineering your life. You think about how you’d like to be when you’re 80 or 60 or 19 or even a week from now, and rather than just hope you’ll turn out that way, you go ahead and become that right now. Skip all the time and skip all the steps.

The only steps you really do need to take are behaving the way that version of you behaves. Every moment of every day. And that includes reading the books that person reads, spending time with the people that person loves to be around, maybe taking the classes that person takes to learn the skills he or she loves to have.

And it means changing the things you hear yourself say. Because your ears are hearing it and your brain is taking it in. When you make a new choice and hear yourself say, even if it’s in a whisper just to you, “That’s right, because I’m not shy anymore,” it solidifies that new Possible You that you’ve become. Not “are” becoming, but “have become.” Because you already did that the moment you decided.

Why have I written this entire essay? For a couple of reasons: I’m not shy anymore. I love sharing my experiments and experiences with others. I’m completely confident writing in public and letting other people see my work.

I wasn’t always that way. But then I decided.

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10. What have you got lined up in the coming weeks and months?

Where is Jon - compressed


Teaching the creative writing course at Georgian Court University this semester has been great fun, but it's taken up a lot of time. As a result, I haven't booked anywhere near as many solo talks or group presentations as I would usually do. That said, I'm still trying to keep myself busy.

Here's what I've got booked between now and the end of July:

APRIL 24th (Thurs) 6pm-7:30pm: Meet the Authors
Burlington County Library, (Maple Shade) 200 Stiles Avenue, Maple Shade, New Jersey 08052
Featuring: Kristin Battestella; Jordanna East; Tina Gabrielle; Jon Gibbs; Brian Patrick Mckinley; and Ilene Schneider

APRIL 26th (Sat) MONMOUTH WRITERS 10am-noon
Featuring: Penelope Marzec - The Romantic Heroine: Big Girls Don't Cry

April 26th (Sat) 2pm NJAN Panel/Q&A So you want to be a writer
Middletown Public Library, 55 New Monmouth Road, Middletown, NJ 07748
Featuring: Jon Gibbs (moderator); Joanna Swank; Stacey Wilk, and Matt Ziselman

MAY 3rd  (Sat) 10am – 3pm   Meet the Authors
Spring Hills Community, Somerset, 473 DeMott Lane, Somerset, NJ 08873
Featuring: Danielle Ackley-McPhail; Jenny Baskwell; Jason Edwards; Jon Gibbs; Laura Kaighn; Nicole Caruso LaBrocca; Scott Mulraney; Nadege Nicoll, and Stacey Wilk

MAY 10th (Sat) MONMOUTH WRITERS 10am-noon
Jon Gibbs
– Critique group


2014 MAY 17th (Sat) noon - 2pm: Meet the Authors
Califon Book Shop,
72 Main Street, Califon, NJ 07830
Featuring:  Jo Coudert; Jon Gibbs; Dar Hosta, and Kim Kavin

2014 MAY 24th (Sat) MONMOUTH WRITERS 10am-noon – noon
Merry BrennanSure Fire Tips to Improve your Writing

JUNE 14th (Sat) MONMOUTH WRITERS 10am-noon
Jon Gibbs
– Critique group


JUNE 28th (Sat) MONMOUTH WRITERS 10am-noon
Jon Gibbs
– Critique workshop


2014 JUNE 28-29 (Sat-Sun) NJ SCBWI Conference
The Crowne Plaza/Holiday Inn Express Conference Center, Plainsboro, NJ

2014 JULY 12-13 (Sat-Sun) WEEKEND WRITER'S WORKSHOP
Georgian Court University, 900 Lakewood Avenue, Lakewood, NJ 08701  Tel: (732) 987 2700
Featuring Jon Gibbs, author, Jennifer R. Hubbard, and Literary agent, Marie Lamba

JULY 26th (Sat) MONMOUTH WRITERS 10am-noon
Guest speaker: TBA




How about you?

What have you got lined up in the coming weeks and months?

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11. Writing is Seeing

Author Kate DiCamillo tells us writers see and pay attention. 

http://www.katedicamillo.com/onwrit.html

0 Comments on Writing is Seeing as of 4/19/2014 10:27:00 AM
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12. The Midg-its...

From a picture book I'm writing called: "The Invasion"
I'll post the next color soon.


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13. Interesting blog posts about writing – w/e April 18th, 2014



Here’s my selection of interesting (and sometimes amusing) posts about writing from the last week:

Take the Money and Run: Kerry Jacobson, "Book Publicist" (Victoria Strauss)
http://accrispin.blogspot.com/2014/04/take-money-and-run-kerry-jacobson-book.html

The Art of Creating Memorable Villains Whatever Your Genre (Lisa Alber)
http://writerunboxed.com/2014/04/16/the-art-of-creating-memorable-villains-whatever-your-genre/

What FROZEN Teaches Us About Storytelling & Publishing (Stina Lindenblatt)
http://querytracker.blogspot.com/2014/04/what-frozen-teaches-us-about.html

12 Keys to Connecting with Readers (Rachelle Gardner)
http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/connecting-with-readers/

How To Break Up With Your First Draft (Christine J. Schmidt)
http://litreactor.com/columns/how-to-break-up-with-your-first-draft

I Hate Nice (Mary Kole)
http://kidlit.com/2014/04/14/i-hate-nice/

Eight Steps to an Agent, a Publisher, and a Two-Book Deal (Donna Galanti)
http://writershelpingwriters.net/2014/04/eight-steps-agent-publisher-two-book-deal/

A ‘Logic Model’ for Author Success (Sharon Bially)
http://writerunboxed.com/2014/04/14/a-logic-model-for-author-success/

How to Think Like a Businessperson–Even If You Don’t Want to (Janet Kobobel Grant)
www.booksandsuch.com/blog/think-like-businessperson-even-dont-want/

The Ten Worst Pieces of Writing Advice You Will Ever Hear (and Probably Already Have) (Susan DeFreitas)
http://litreactor.com/columns/the-ten-worst-pieces-of-writing-advice-you-will-ever-hear-and-probably-already-have

The Complete Guide to Query Letters That Get Manuscript Requests (Jane Friedman)
http://janefriedman.com/2014/04/11/query-letters/


If you found these useful, you may also like my personal selection of the most interesting blog posts from 2013, and last week’s list.

If you have a particular favorite among these, please let the author know (and me too, if you have time).  Also, if you've a link to a great post that isn't here, feel free to share.

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14. Cape Breton beach.

Cape Breton Glass

 Acadia National Park 8

Walking slowly, touching sometimes

With warm fingers in the early morning breeze.

We look for the magic beneath our feet

And wonder at the colors and shapes

Strewn around us by a greater sculptor.

Glass formed by the strength of pounding and passion

Of the mighty power of western water,

Grinding up onto the French flavored shore.

We come together for warmth

And drift apart again to search for more treasure,

As the slowly rising sun tries to warm the salty air.

To walk here is magic

To be here with you is morning personified

In the great spreading light of green glowing sea glass.

Denis Hearn 2008

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15. Body Language: Lying

The practice of identifying liars has become an art as well as a science. There are multitudes of books, reams of research, and several television shows based on it. Dr. Paul Eckman's work is well worth reading. The show Lie to Me is well worth watching to learn more.


Whether someone is lying or honest is broadly characterized by how expansive or contractive his body language is. There may be master criminals, soulless sociopaths, trained spies, or sage sleuths who can outsmart everyone. For the rest, the normal rules governing behavior apply.

Someone who is telling the truth goes on the offensive. He is forward moving, expansive, broad gesturing, and offers distinct answers with I and me. He meets your gaze full on. His body gravitates toward yours in an attempt to be seen and understood and to connect. He gives the right amount of detail. He discusses the situation until you believe him. His story is explicit and consistent.

He may be angry at being falsely accused, or having his honor questioned, but he does not feel guilty. He mirrors your posture. He talks expansively with his hands, starting the gesture before the words. He is relaxed and his smile engages other facial muscles. He points to himself and places his open hand on his chest. He is not afraid of close scrutiny.

The exception is when an honest person grows anxious when he isn’t believed, especially in a situation where he feels unsafe. The situation may trigger anxiety responses just as in someone who isn't honest. He may flush with fury. A character that has an itch somewhere it's inappropriate to scratch isn't necessarily being deceptive. His underwear may not be where it belongs, or he may have a health problem that makes him itch everywhere. There are illnesses that trigger lip biting. Those gestures alone are not proof that someone is lying.

Someone who is lying goes on the defensive. He retracts and caves inward. He forces the gesture after the words. He rambles and mumbles and doesn't give direct answers. His smile never reaches his eyes. He gives shorter answers and changes the topic. He rarely uses I and me. His information is inconsistent. He averts his gaze. He may withhold details or gush with too much detail. It's more in the quality of what he says and what he didn’t say. He answers a question with a question. He wants to escape the interrogation as soon as possible. His voice pitch rises because he is anxious. He blinks, licks his lips, and maintains poor eye contact. He gestures with palms up in a plea.

He may rub or scratch his nose, neck, or jaw. The stress makes him itch, sweat, and flush. He may stammer and mess up his words. He may hold his head still. His limbs feel wooden. He may lean forward, resting his elbows on a table or his knees, anything to make his body smaller. He places a barrier between you. He may slide an object between you or step behind a chair.

Liars often say honestly, believe me, or I'm telling the truth. He may be smiling, but inside he is sweating. His brain races to come up with the details it lacks in answer to your questions. It is said that a liar doesn't memorize the story backwards, so asking him to repeat the information regressively trips him up.

For example, Dick asks Jane where she has been all day. She replies that she went to the hairdressers, the department store, Starbucks for a coffee, to the mall, and finally the grocery store. This answer displays the too much information rule. Most women would say, "I had my hair done and went shopping."

If Dick asks questions like, “So, when did you go to Starbucks?" Jane has to think hard about what she just made up. Did she say she stopped at Starbucks before or after department store? If your teen gives you a list, ask him to repeat it backwards. I bet he can't.

Jane might give Dick a long list if he makes the mistake of saying, "So, what have you done all day?" Those are fighting words and Jane may respond with a laundry list of the household chores, child-centered activities, and errands she accomplished in the space of eight hours punctuated by slamming drawers or cabinet doors, and a tone that drips acid. She isn't lying.

I hope you've enjoyed our lessons on body language. Now, go revise! If you want more hints on how check out Story Building Blocks III: The Revision Layers.

http://www.amazon.com/Story-Building-Blocks-III-Revision/dp/1475011369

http://www.amazon.com/Story-Building-Blocks-III-Revision-ebook/dp/B007SPPL68

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16. Emotional Anticipation

Build tension to build your character's emotions. 

http://kidlit.com/2014/03/24/building-emotional-anticipation/

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17. Look Who is Moving & Shaking

Bee Movers and Shakers 041614

 

We are so proud of our children’s book, The Bee Bully.  He is being featured currently on Bookbub.com through April 17th and he is being very well received.  He is currently #4 on Amazon’s Movers and Shakers List for kindle and he is #1 in the Children’s Ebook category.  He has been reduced to $.99 during this promotion period and has over 80 five-star reviews.  Be sure to get a copy today and see what all the buzz is about!

 

beecover

 

 


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18. Sharing Ideas with Julia Jarman


Generally speaking, authors and illustrators don't get together to chat through new book projects. I get the text from the publisher, not the author and, as I work on my illustrations, I talk with the art director and designer, not the author, sending my ideas, roughs and eventually my artwork to the publisher, never once having had any contact with the author. It surprises people, but that's quite normal.


It's a bit different though with Julia Jarman. When an author and illustrator team up for several books, they can become friends and often start to work more closely, certainly at the start of a project. Julia and I have done 5 books together now and are a good match - we think alike and we laugh at the same things. Which is why we work so easily together and why we get on so well too.

Julia often emails me stories she is working on and would like me to illustrate, asking for my input. Julia's writing is very visual: as I read one of her texts, I can immediately see illustrations in my head. This gives me a slightly different perspective to Julia and my take on things can help her to fine-tune the wording, before she sends it to the publisher. 


We were working on a new story last week and several drafts of it went back and forth between us by email. I'm not actually drawing anything at this stage, but Julia knows my work so well, it only takes a few words for me to paint a picture for her of what's in my head. 

I can't tell you anything specific, but I think it's going to be a good one and am really crossing my fingers that the publisher takes it. 

0 Comments on Sharing Ideas with Julia Jarman as of 4/16/2014 8:53:00 AM
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19. Monday Mishmash 4/14/14


Happy Monday! Here's my mishmash of thoughts:
  1. YA Fest  I'll be at YA Fest this Saturday (April 19th) signing copies of Touch of Death, Stalked by Death, and Face of Death. I'll also have plenty of SWAG including bookmarks, zombie limb candy, and buttons. I'm excited.
  2. Revisions  I'm currently revising three of my novels all on deadlines ranging from tomorrow to May 15th. I love revising. It's when I really get attached to my characters.
  3. Client edits  I'm also editing for clients. I have several edits scheduled through this month and May, which always makes me happy.
  4. Spring pictures  I'm working at my daughter's school on Wednesday for spring pictures. It's always fun to see the kids dressed up.
  5. Happy Holidays!  I wish you all a very happy Easter and Passover. 

That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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20. I Hate Nice

I know what you’re probably thinking, “But, Mary, I’m nice and you’re nice and nice is so…nice! Why do you hate it, especially now that you live in the state of ‘Minnesota nice’?” Don’t worry, I think you’re perfectly nice, and this isn’t a veiled complaint about moving to Minnesota. As for me being nice, sure, I have my moments. Thanks for falling for my Internet persona. :)

What I really hate, though, is when a manuscript has a lot of nice in it. The character is succeeding. Things are going their way. We end a chapter on a cozy moment when they curl into their reading nook and all is right with the world.

How nice. How abysmally nice for them.

The problem with “nice,” though, is that it doesn’t keep our attention. You know how people sometimes say, when they’re being dismissive of something, “Oh, that’s nice, dear”? Nice doesn’t really force us to sit up and take notice, and nice certainly doesn’t create tension within us, pulling us to the edge of our seats.

Sure, we don’t want a character to be dragged through the wringer. Nice things do have to happen on occasion. But last week I was preparing for a workshop that I gave on Saturday at the Loft, and I was going over a story theory that I cover extensively in my book, which I call the Emotional Plot.

emotional plot

The gist is a little hard to explain in one blog post (thought I try to do it here, in a 2009 blog post that contains the seeds of what I would extrapolate on in the 2012 book). Basically, what we’re looking at above is the standard three-act structure but instead of tracking how the plot rises and then falls, we are tracking how the character feels during each step of the process.

And if you’re seeing this graph, you’ll notice that the “Fall” is a HUGE part of it. And it ends in something called the “Rock Bottom.” That doesn’t exactly sound too nice, now does it. Basically, for the majority of your story, your job is to put your character through internally or externally uncomfortable or dangerous situations to get the most possible tension out of your work.

The “Fall” shouldn’t be a complete slide into misery. Like a good snow tubing hill (Am I from Minnesota now or what?!), it should have a few bumps to keep things exciting before plunging again. Allow your character small victories and moments of contentment, then yank the rug out from under them again.

If your plot seems thick, or your story is lacking momentum, or you feel like wandering away for a nap when reading your revision for the Xth time, think, “Am I being too nice? Are too many nice things happening to this character?” Take an especially close look at your chapter endings. Do they mostly end at the resolution of a scene or problem? If so, there’s too much “nice” and not enough tension to carry the reader across the vast expanse of the white at the end of the page and past the mountain of your next chapter heading.

Not everything can be life-or-death in your story, that’s not sustainable, and your reader will learn to ignore that level of tension like the body ignores a dull pain. But if you find that you’re running into a lot of “more tension, please!” comments, think of the nicest, coziest moments in your story, and really focus on a way to either cut them down or insert an especially shocking twist after then that turns “nice” on its ear.

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21. ebook poll and free Donald Maass book

There’s a poll below regarding your use of ebooks, please respond.

12st century writingBefore that, though, I discovered that Kindle users who are enrolled in Amazon Prime can borrow for free most of literary agent Donald Maass’s highly insightful books on writing—Writing 21st Century Fiction, Writing the Breakout Novel, The Fire in Fiction, and The Breakout Novelist through the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library program. This only works for books read on “Kindle devices,” but it’s a good deal for Amazon Prime members who have them. How to borrow from the program is here.

Now for the poll, please. For my purposes, "ebook reader" includes reading .mobi (Kindle) or .epub (Nook, Kobo, iBook, etc.) ebooks on the devices and/or computer software. Thanks for your help. I may repeat this to sample as many readers as possible.

For what it's worth,

Ray

Do you use an ebook reader (device or computer software) and, if so, which type?

© 2014 Ray Rhamey

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22. Somewhere out there.

Luminescence

Silent light moves above me

In the shape of mighty orbs,

Hanging, moving, ponderous in the blackened world.

I gaze transfixed within the ethereal sight.

Stunning shapes of circling matter float

Far above me, yet live so deep inside me.

Here within this celestial circus,

I watch the journey. I am the journey.

Craters glow. Rills fill with light

As seas expand above me into

The frozen tides of ancient time.

I look up and peer outside our planet’s watery ways.

Jupiter spends time next to our Moon.

Its banded majesty competes for sight.

Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto make little in the night.

Lunar light is king tonight.

 

Orbital choreography at its best,

Rolls slowly before my straining eyes.

Equinox personifies its presence,

And sets the stage for cosmic fall.

We are all part of this.

We are not voyeurs.

We are part of this orbital majesty.

We kneel in wonder at our planned rotation.

Motion is realized and performed.

We follow every second of the measured plan.

We take time to view the distance spinning above us,

And blend our mind’s matter with magnificence.

Denis Hearn 2010

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23. Author Visits

Mom has two author visits coming up. One this week and one next week. Both are call-backs, so she kind of knows what to expect. One thing she expects is fun! Rejection is the downside of writing. School visits are the upside AND her most favorite thing about being an author. Bar none.

school visit

Fifth graders and college students make for very different visits, which means Mom will pack up her school visit stuff  TWICE. I love when Mom packs up her bag.

bookbag2

Sometimes there are candies in there. Or gum. Or tissues.  And sometimes stuffed toys, depending on where she’s visiting. I ALWAYS check the bag out, just in case.

bookbag

Once I found (and ran with) a smaller bag from inside the bigger bag. It had a fork, a beanie baby, a paintbrush, and a baseball inside. Mom said, “I need them for a game.” and “You wouldn’t understand.” and “Eeeewww. They’re slimy with dog spit!”

gamebag2

Although I love the bag, I hate the leaving. Why does every upside need a downside? When Mom says, “I have to go,” I hear the word GO and head for the door.

Ready!

Ready!

She says, “Not this time.” and “I’ll be back in a little while.” and “Do you want a treat?” which is EXACTLY what I want. And that’s how the downside becomes the upside again.

milkbone toothbrush

 


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24. Mark Twain Humor Contest

mark twain imageThe Mark Twain House & Museum’s Inaugural “Royal Nonesuch” Humor Writing Contest for writers of all ages from all corners of the globe!

Recognizing that Samuel Clemens (aka: Mark Twain) began writing at an early age and to encourage other young authors, we welcome submissions for two categories:

  • Adult (age 18 and over at time of submission) at $22 per submission, and
  • Young Author (age 17 and under at time of submission) at $12 per submission.

Celebrity Judges for Adults are: Roy Blount, Jr., Colin McEnroe, and Lucy Ferris.

Celebrity Judges for Young Authors are: Tim Federle, author of Better Nate Than Ever, and Jessica Lawson, author of The Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher.

Submit your original humorous essays and stories for a chance at a cash prize, the opportunity to meet bestselling authors at our annual “Mark My Words” event, and best of all - bragging rights!

“If Mark Twain were alive, he’d be happy about this contest, because he’d win it.” – Andy Borowitz

DEADLINE: June 30, 2014

FEE: $22.00 “Adult/18 and over” categories 

FEE: $12.00 “Young Author/17 and under”

Writing Contest: The Guidelines

•  Submit 10,000 words (or fewer) of any original work of humor writing. (Entries longer than 10,000 words will be disqualified.)
•  Submissions must be in English.

•  Submissions are not required to be in the style of Mark Twain or about Mark Twain. We want to hear your voice. And we want you to make us laugh!

•  Submissions will be judged by our award-winning Mark Twain House staff writers and scholars, Trinity College faculty, and celebrity judges: Roy Blount, Jr., Colin McEnroe, and Lucy Ferris. Celebrity judges for the 17 & under contest are Tim Federle and Jessica Lawson.

•  Submissions are due by June 30th, 2014.

•  Winners may be asked to provide age verification regarding submission category.

•  You may submit more than one entry; a separate fee is required for each entry.

•  Winners will be notified by September 5, 2014.

•  Winners will be presented to the public at the 4th Annual “Mark My Words” event at which bestselling authors appear onstage October 21, 2014 to benefit The Mark Twain House & Museum. (Past authors have included John Grisham, David Baldacci, and Sandra Brown.)

•  Winners will retain ownership of their work. The Mark Twain House & Museum reserves the right to publish winning pieces in a public forum with credit to the author. 

PRIZES (winners in both categories):

•      1st Prize: $1,000 (Adult & Young Author)

•      2nd Prize: $500 (Adult& Young Author)

•      3rd Prize: $250 (Adult& Young Author)

•      Three Honorable Mention Prizes: $100 Gift Certificate for the Mark Twain Museum Store (Adult & Young Author).

•  All 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Prize winners in both the “Young Author/17 and under” and “Adult/18 and over” categories will be invited to attend “Mark My Words” and go backstage to meet bestselling authors. (Winners are responsible for their travel and accommodations.)

•  Staff and immediate family members of the Mark Twain House are not eligible.

The mission of The Mark Twain House & Museum is to foster an appreciation of the legacy of Mark Twain as one of our nation’s defining cultural figures, and to demonstrate the continuing relevance of his work, life and times. The Mark Twain House & Museum operates as a non-profit 501(c)(3) foundation. Mark Twain built the house in 1874 and lived here with his wife and children until 1891. This is where he wrote such masterpieces as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and is located at 351 Farmington Avenue in Hartford, CT. We appreciate your participation in this inaugural writing contest as it supports our preservation efforts.

By clicking ‘Submit’ you acknowledge that this is your original work and you agree to all contest rules and guidelines.

Here is the link to submit: https://twainhouse.submittable.com/submit/26632

Good luck!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Contest, opportunity, Places to sumit, Win, writing Tagged: Contest for Audlts and young authors, Humor Contest, Mark Twain, Samel Clemens

1 Comments on Mark Twain Humor Contest, last added: 4/16/2014
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25. Writer Wednesday: Beware the Repetition


If you read my Monday Mishmash, then you know I've been busy with my own revisions and editing for clients. Something that came up in both is repetition. Sometimes you want repetition for emphasis or to offer a new insight, like when your MC makes a big revelation. But in most cases, repetition needs to be cut. Here's why.

Repetition just tells the reader what they already know. You're almost insulting the reader's intelligence by assuming they can't remember certain details. Consider if the reminder is necessary or if that space on the page is better spent offering the reader something new. Most of the time, you should be offering new information that moves the story forward.

Repetition slows down the pace of your story. If you want tension to be high, don't backtrack by reminding us of details you've already mentioned. I know it's tough sometimes to hit that delete key because you spent countless hours pouring over those words and they're brilliant. The problem is, those words were brilliant when you said them the first time. After that...you see where I'm going with this.

Most repetition comes from drafting or revising in stages. How many times have you gotten a great idea for something to add during revisions only to find you said the exact same thing (or just about) a few paragraphs later? I do this all the time, and I have to then edit one of those out. My tip is to try to revise in the least sittings possible because that will allow you to catch more instances of repetition.

I challenge you to find repetition in your own work and see if it's really needed.

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