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<<August 2014>>
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1. Shark Week Is for Readers, Too: 10+ Books to Read this Week

JAWSEach year for one week, The Discovery Channel takes over the airwaves with a seven-day onslaught of movies, documentaries, survivor tales and semi-factual mockumentaries about sharks. As fascinating as it all is, readers are left high and dry—where are all the books about sharks? I’ve rounded up several—some classic, some campy, some for kids, some nonfiction—for those of us who want all the thrill of Shark Week, but with somewhat less screen time. (Or supplement your Discovery marathoning. There are no rules in Shark Week.)

1. Jaws

It wouldn’t be a list about shark books without the one that started it all. Peter Benchley’s classic inspired Steven Spielberg’s film, and 40 years later it’s still deeply, relentlessly terrifying. Hank Searls’ followup novelizations of Jaws 2 and Jaws: The Revenge and Benchley’s The Deep are also highly encouraged reading for the week.

2. The Old Man and the Sea

Hemingway’s tale of a Cuban fisherman going head-to-snout with a marlin is remembered for many reasons, none of which pertain to Shark Week. We should change that. The Nobel Prize in Literature is nice and all, but this week is a big deal right now, and an entirely unscientific survey I just conducted reveals that only one in several readers outside of high school has bothered to pick up The Old Man and the Sea, except when rearranging bookshelves. (That one is me. This book is worth reading any week of the year.)

Megbook3. The Meg series

You don’t have to be an especially well-read fan of megalodon lore to enjoy Steve Alten’s bestselling undersea thriller series featuring the rediscovery of the largest shark species in history. Begin at the beginning with Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror, then dare yourself to tear through the next five Meg novels (The Trench, Primal Waters, Hell’s Aquarium, Nightstalkers and Origins) before you have to enter a body of water larger than a bathtub.

4. In Harm’s Way: The Sinking of the USS Indianapolis and the Extraordinary Story of Its Survivors

Technically, Doug Stanton’s harrowing story of the 317 men who survived the sinking of the USS Indianapolis isn’t specifically about sharks. But it’s damn good reading, and a sufficient quantity of sharks are involved in the story to include it on this list.

5. Sharks! by National Geographic Kids

Sharks are scary, but they’re also super-cool. If you have a small person who enjoys reading, consider picking this title up on your next trip to the library. Or check it out for yourself—no one dislikes 32 pages of cool facts about sharks.

Nugget and Fang6. Nugget and Fang: Friends Forever–or Snack Time?

So maybe stories about vicious attacks or details about shark migration are a little too advanced for some kids. Fortunately for them, there is Tammi Sauer and Michael Slack’s adorable little story about vegetarian sharks who make friends with a school of minnows.

7. Shark Girl 

Kelly Bingham’s debut young adult novel chronicles the life of a girl who has lost her arm to a shark attack, and then must return to high school with a prosthesis to face the potential mockery of her fellow classmates. Shark Girl is less shark-centric than, say, Meg, but more personal and introspective than most other books on this list. And as a young adult novel in verse, it’s possible that Shark Girl is the only book (so far) about a shark-attack-survivor in high school that also rhymes. (Joking aside, Bingham’s work here is impressive and award-winning, and worth reading even outside the brief moment that is Shark Week.)

BAIT8. Bait

If you put four drug addicts on an island, heroin on a nearby island, and a shiver of sharks between, what happens? This is the premise of J. Kent Messum’s award-winning first novel, Bait. You’ll have to find out for yourself what happens after that.

9. The Secret Life of Sharks

For every myth Jaws perpetuated, Pete Klimley debunked three in his celebrated collection of real facts about sharks—what they eat, when, how they raise their young, when and how they migrate. From hammerheads to great whites, there are few books as full of firsthand data on shark behavior.

10. Shark Fin Soup

There are few books more appropriate for this week than Susan Klaus’ thriller about a man who avenges his wife’s murder at the hands of shark finners by becoming an ecoterrorist called Captain Nemo. Nemo’s methods may be suspect, but his heart is in the right place.

There’s no way to include every book about sharks on this list. What are your favorites?


Adrienne Crezo is the managing editor of Writer’s Digest magazine. You can follow her on Twitter @a_crezo.

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2. Dorothy Parker: Missed Deadlines, Unfulfilled Contracts and Wrong Words

Farewell DP paperback coverBY ELLEN MEISTER

Have you ever had to tell an editor you wouldn’t be meeting your deadline? That’s an uncomfortable conversation for any writer. But for Dorothy Parker—one of America’s greatest literary wits—it was so excruciating she simply couldn’t face it, and the consequences were nearly devastating.

In 1929, Harold Guinzburg and George Oppenheimer—the young entrepreneurs who founded Viking Press—convinced Parker to sign a contract for a novel, and deliver it in under a year. That’s high pressure for most writers. But for Parker, who often took six months to complete a short story, it was shooting for the impossible. Indeed, she was so slow and cautious in her fiction writing that she once remarked, “I can’t write five words but that I change seven.”

Still, she was determined to join the ranks of the contemporaries she so admired, such as Fitzgerald and Hemingway, and left for Europe to work on her book. By the end of 1930, her deadline had passed and she had nothing to show for it except one long (and often hilarious) letter she had written to her publishers over the summer. (Complete letter available as an ebook from Penguin Classics with an introduction by Marion Meade. See Alpine Giggle Week: How Dorothy Parker Set Out to Write the Great American Novel and Ended Up in a TB Colony Atop an Alpine Peak.)

And so she sailed back to the U.S. to tell the young Viking founders in person that she had failed. The conversation, however, never happened. Too distressed to face them, she attempted suicide by swallowing poisonous shoe polish. Fortunately for those of us who cherish the stories, essays, poems and reviews she wrote in the years that followed, Parker only succeeded in making herself terribly ill, and several months later she recovered.

She never did deliver on the manuscript. In the 1970s, Viking reported that their agreement with Dorothy Parker was the longest unfulfilled contract in the company’s history. In the intervening years, however, they contracted with Parker to edit a collection of works by her friend F. Scott Fitzgerald. She struggled writing the introduction and simply couldn’t complete it. It was 1945, and facing her editor with this failure wasn’t any easier than it had been fifteen years earlier.

Fortunately, however, Parker found a less dangerous way to avoid the confrontation: she sent him a telegram. And while most of Parker’s papers were destroyed, this small treasure (complete with a spelling error that is probably the teletypist’s), still exists to remind us that even our literary heroes struggled putting words on a page.


PASCAL COVICI, VIKING PRESS                                     1945 JUN 28 PM 4 37 18 EAST 48 ST



Ellen Meister author photo low resEllen Meister is a novelist, essayist, public speaker and creative writing instructor at Hofstra University (Hempstead, NY). She runs a popular Dorothy Parker page on Facebook that has over 130,000 followers. Her novels include Farewell, Dorothy Parker (Putnam 2013) and The Other Life (Putnam 2011).

In February 2015, Putnam will publish her fifth novel, Dorothy Parker Drank Here. To connect with Ellen, visit ellenmeister.com, and for daily quotes from her Dorothy Parker, follow her Facebook page.

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3. An Idea a Day: August 2014

lightbulbGenerating good, usable ideas can be difficult for any writer, new or established. While John Steinbeck may have been exempt (he famously compared ideas to rabbits, saying “You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.”), we are not all on Steinbeck’s level. To those of you who can come up with something new and interesting at will, I commend you. For the rest of us, here are 31 prompts for the month of August.

Interpret these in whatever way works best for you. Do each one, or two per week, or five per month, or any number that feels productive for you. If you’d like to, share your links or short-short stories in the comments.

1. You have two characters. One is trying to convince the other that he is telling the truth, but the second character knows the first character is lying. How does this scene play out?

2. Write a short story in which a pill is an object of importance.

3. Tell a story using only letters your characters have written to each other.

4. Use these words: spider, lump, magazine, bread box, asbestos.

5. Sylvia Plath once write that “everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it.” Use your outgoing guts to tell a difficult story.

6. A local woman has just had her first baby. She is on the news because her baby is __________. Fill in the blank and then tell this story.

7. Your first line is: “In this town, everyone is named after an object.”

8. You’ve inherited enough money to retire. What do you do now?

9. A group of friends are walking down the street. They see something unexpected.

10. Your new neighbor introduces himself as La Bamba Flambeau. He is a mild-mannered, middle-aged man.

11. Fill in the blanks to create a piece of dialogue; then, use the dialogue in a short story: “If it weren’t for _________, I would never have _________.”

12. Your character wakes up very late. He thinks it is Monday, but it is only Sunday.

13. Write an optimistic character who is placed in a hopeless, unfixable situation.

14. Two characters discuss their hobbies. Neither is comfortable being friends afterward.

15. Use these words: frenetic, business card, notepad, bagel, walrus.

16. It is 10 years in the future. Write a scene about your character’s everyday life.

17. A poet is in his car when he realizes the lyrics of the song on the radio match the piece he wrote last night.

18. Winston Churchill said “History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.” Write a kind history for a no good, very bad character.

19. A spaceship has landed safely in the Pacific Ocean and the beings that step out look exactly like all humans… except for one disturbing difference.

20. 100 years ago, medical science eradicated all virulent disease. What is the world like now?

21. In this scene, a phone call derails a quiet dinner at home.

22. You’re a contestant on Jeopardy! Write the scene in which you win the game. Include the topic, answer and question.

23. Write a short story in which a painting is an object of importance.

24. Your theme: Nothing is free.

25. Your character must mail something today, but the universe is conspiring against his success.

26. Use these words: tin, monkey wrench, banner, water damage, award.

27. Your character did something embarrassing in college that her family does not know about. What happens when her teenage daughter finds out years later? When her husband finds out? When the local gossip hears about it?

28. A character is caught stealing. a) Make your reader feel sorry for the thief. b) Make your reader angry at the victim.

29. “This is not what I ordered. It’s moving.”

30. Today is someone’s birthday, but you forgot until just now. This person is very important to you.

31. Write a survival story.

headshotWDAdrienne Crezo is the managing editor of Writer’s Digest magazine. Follow her on Twitter at @a_crezo.



Image by ppdigital via morguefile.


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4. 18 Quotes for Writers from Ernest Hemingway

578_originalToday marks the 115th anniversary of Ernest Hemingway’s birth. In his lifetime, Papa had quite a lot to say about writing. Here are 18 of our favorite quotes, in no particular order.


1. I learned never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it.


2. If a writer knows enough about what he is writing about, he may omit things that he knows. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one ninth of it being above water.


3. For a long time now I have tried simply to write the best I can. Sometimes I have good luck and write better than I can.


4.That is what we are supposed to do when we are at our best – make it all up – but make it up so truly that later it will happen that way.

5. Writing and travel broaden your ass if not your mind and I like to write standing up.


6. My aim is to put down on paper what I see and what I feel in the best and simplest way.


7. When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature.


8. Prose is architecture, not interior decoration, and the Baroque is over.


9. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.


10. There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly; sometimes it’s like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges.


11. To F. Scott Fitzgerald: “Write the best story that you can and write it as straight as you can.”


12. Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now.


13. All stories, if continued far enough, end in death, and he is no true-story teller who would keep that from you.


14. A serious writer is not to be confounded with a solemn writer. A serious writer may be a hawk or a buzzard or even a popinjay, but a solemn writer is always a bloody owl.


15. It’s none of their business that you have to learn how to write. Let them think you were born that way.


16. To an aspiring writer: “You shouldn’t write if you can’t write.”


17. After writing a story I was always empty and both sad and happy, as though I had made love, and I was sure this was a very good story although I would not know truly how good until I read it over the next day.


18. My training was never to drink after dinner nor before I wrote nor while I was writing.


What’s your favorite writerly quote from Ernest Hemingway? Share it in the comments!

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5. Take Away the A

Take Away the A
by Michaël Escoffier (author of Brief Thief, Me First! and The Day I Lost My Superpowers)
illustrated by Kris Di Giacomo
Enchanted Lion Books, due out September 12, 2014
review copy provided by the publisher

You will want this book. I guarantee it.

Best. Alphabet Book. Ever.

This is the kind of mentor text that makes you want to try writing this way...right NOW.

Here's a taste:

"Without the A
the BEAST is BEST.

Without the B
the BRIDE goes for a RIDE.

Without the C
the CHAIR has HAIR."

See what I mean?

I wish you could actually see the book, because the other part of the fun is finding the duck, the mice, the octopus, the monkey, and the cats in spreads other than their own throughout the book.

Need a quote for a slide in your word study/vocabulary presentation? From the press release:
"Since we are really only able to think about the world, ourselves, and the nature of life itself (along with everything else) within the vocabulary that is available to us, the richer and more nuanced our language is, the richer our possibilities for thinking and understanding become. From this point of view, the ethical, political, cultural and intellectual imperatives for deepening a child's sense of language and its possibilities are profound. Giving them the idea that language is a vital material with which they can make and build and shape their world is so clearly of vital importance."

What are you waiting for?

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6. Happy Canada Day!

canada day beaver 14-med

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7. L’alphabet/The Alphabet: Letter C

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8. L’alphabet/The Alphabet: Letter C

I almost forgot…Slowly but surely!


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9. L’alphabet/The Alphabet: Letter B

Slowly making way through the alphabet. Below is an illustration for the letter “B”…



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10. Paula: L’alphabet/The Alphabet--Letter B

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11. Prompt: Write the #WorstTweet Ever

hashtag1It’s Friday, and that means everyone is ready for the weekend. It also means that many of you are hanging out on Twitter today instead of filing your TPS reports. (Didn’t you get that memo?) Here in the Ohio office, we’re working diligently, as always, but we know that our readers are probably ready for some fun.

We’ve decided to do a prompt here. It’s in two parts, so you can join us on Twitter or leave a comment on this post. No prizes (sorry!), just fun and games. Here goes!

In the comments, write a scene about the fallout from one of the worst tweets ever. Maybe a famous person mistakenly tweets a message meant for a text message. Maybe your elderly grandparent shares mortifying childhood photos of you. Maybe… something else! Go crazy.

Or, use hashtag #WorstTweet on Twitter to share the most embarrassing, horrible, no good, very bad tweet you can dream up. Have fun, but try not to end up as a character in someone else’s worst tweet scenario.


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12. Paula: L'alphabet/The Alphabet--Letter A

Here's something I posted on my blog, as well as here....

This is from a while back, a personal project. I wanted to do an alphabet. And the never-ending question for me is in regards to style: Cartoony? Stylized? Loosy-goosy-esque? (Whatever THAT means!). But in time, place and history, I made it look like this. So without further ado, I give you the letter "A", featuring an alligator eating and apple, of course!

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13. L’alphabet/The Alphabet: Letter A

Posting some work from a while back, a personal project. I wanted to do an alphabet. The never-ending question for me is in regards to style: Cartoony? Stylized? Loosy-goosy-esque? (Whatever THAT means!). But in time, place and history, I made it look like this. So without further ado, I give you the letter “A”, featuring an alligator eating and apple, of course!



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14. Paula: On The Drawing Board...Dogs, Etc.!

I’m working on and finishing up a few projects, and all have a dog or dogs. Also, in different styles. Below are clips from the final or working toward final illustrations.

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15. On The Drawing Board…Dogs, etc.!

I’m working on and finishing up a few projects, and all have a dog or dogs. Also, in different styles. Below are clips from the final or working toward final illustrations.


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16. A Cool Sage About To Loose His Head

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17. A Cool Sage About To Loose His Head

My imaginary friend, “So, Brian what’d you do today?” My imaginary answer, “Oh, nothin’ much, drew a sage about to get his head cut off.” These are the things that I am thinking about when I am thinking about these things.

via Studio Bowes Art Blog at http://ift.tt/1wohjec

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7 Rhyming Picture Books about Animals from
the US and Australia.
FUN as well as educational!

About ten years ago I had this series published in eBook format by Writers Exchange. This was an Australian publisher. CEO Sandy Cummins was wonderful to work with - helpful, supportive and open to suggestions. However, at that time eBooks were a novelty, and the eReaders of today were still a glint in their designers' eyes. The series received terrific reviews, but sales were dismal.  

Now, thanks to Sandy allowing me to offer the series to Guardian Angel Publishing, a publisher that specializes in child friendly and educational picture books, my Wild and Wonderful series is being published in soft cover, and will be available on Amazon and other sites:  Guardian Angel Publishing, + my websiteYEA!!!

 I am absolutely THRILLED that my Wild and Wonderful series is finally being published in soft cover.  It has been a long wait, but well worth the time and the effort.

                                                                 Already in soft cover and on sale are:

Now at the printers and available soon:

Never Say BOO to a Frilly: 

  Includes -   Never Say BOO - Rainbow Birds - Tasmanian Devil Dance

Coming Next:

Prairie Dog's Play Day:
  Includes - Prairie Dogs - Bald Eagle Rules - The Stinker (skunk)

Last 3 Books -  Coming SOON: 

*Don's Eat Platypus Stew -3 individual stories
*Squirrels Can't Help Being Nuts - 3 individual stories
*Humdinger Hummers - 1 story

Link to illustrations and news about my DREAMTIME MAN picture book.


 Books fpr Kids - Skype Author Visits
Manuscript Critiques


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19. 7 Things How I Met Your Mother Can Teach Us About Writing

How I Met Your Mother

If you’re like us on the WD staff (okay, maybe just Brian and I—internet high five!), then you were enthralled, captivated, and head over heels in love with the television show How I Met Your Mother. For nine years, this legend- (wait for it) -dary sitcom was unlike anything else. It could get audiences to roll with laughter, but it also had a soft side. And there were tough moments, like the death of Marshall’s father, where I found myself choking up.

And the show is so unique in its storytelling that it’s hard to see anything else mimicking it and having success. In case you don’t know (and if you don’t, for shame!), the show is essentially told in flashbacks as Ted, in 2030, is describing to his two children how he met their mother. The story arc, all told from Ted’s memory (which allows for some awesome moments and gaps), follows the hijinks of Ted and his friends, Barney, Robin, Lily, and Marshall. And, like any group of friends, they have their inside jokes, stories, and special moments that recur and build over the course of the series. The audience is let into all of these stories and jokes, making it even funnier when something that happens in an early season gets brought up years later. The audience is part of the gang.

With the series finale airing this past Monday night, I couldn’t help but reflect on the past nine years—and realize how incredibly smart the writing is. And there’s more than a little bit any writer can learn from this show. (Major spoilers follow.)

1. Everything Happens for a Reason
This is probably something that Ted, as a hopeless romantic endlessly (to the frustration of his friends) searching for “the one,” would agree with. Almost everything that was used in HIMYM ended up coming back around later. Throughout the series, Barney, who takes the bachelor lifestyle to the extreme, uses a “playbook” full of different pickup lines and schemes to find women. When Barney eventually falls in love with Robin and intends to propose, he uses an extremely elaborate scheme that lasts the course of multiple episodes. Robin finds the last page of his playbook that details this scheme, and she accepts his proposal.

When you introduce something in your novel(s), make sure there’s a reason for it. Yes, Barney had the playbook because he’s juuust a little bit shallow and manipulative, but there ends up being a larger reason for it, too. Consider all of your choices while writing. How can something that seems insignificant now be important later? Don’t add the little details unless they’re important and you plan to use them!

Suit Up

Suit up!

2. Reward Your Readers
HIMYM constantly rewarded its audience for sticking around from the very beginning. This is similar to the previous point. When you drop bread crumbs early in a story, make sure you come back around to them. It keeps things interesting to have a recurring element, particularly in a long series.

In the show, Robin hides the fact that she used to be a teen pop star in Canada. Barney, however, eventually discovers the fact and shares this embarrassment with the rest of the gang. Over the course of the series, they find a couple of her music videos and an educational television program she starred in. The audience never knew when one of these moments was going to pop up in an episode, which made it funnier when it happened. But if we hadn’t known early on that Robin had a secret, or if we missed the episode with the first music video, it would seem pretty random.

Or, in the third season, Ted goes on a date with a girl whose name he can’t remember. So, since he’s telling this story to his children, he replaces the girl’s name with Blah Blah every time. Whenever she’s referred to throughout the rest of the series, she’s called Blah Blah. Finally, in the last season, Ted remembers her name is Carol. This is something I had completely forgotten about over the course of the series, but it was rewarding to finally know this random woman’s name. (And another neat way the frame narrative works for this show!)

So it’s okay to reuse moments or quirky character points from earlier in a novel or a series. In fact, it shows a little humanity in the characters. And it will reward those loyal readers for sticking with a series or paying sharp attention throughout the novel. Remember, all of these little details add up when you use them correctly!

3. Never Write Yourself Into a Corner
One of the glaring mistakes left out of the series finale of HIMYM was a resolution to the pineapple incident. Everything else was neatly wrapped up (though, perhaps not necessarily the way fans would have liked), except this moment. In one of the most watched episodes of the series, Ted is criticized by his friends for over-thinking everything and not just acting on a whim. One thing leads to another and Ted ends up blackout drunk. He wakes up the next morning with a phone number written on his arm, a partially burned jacket, a sprained ankle, a woman he doesn’t know with him in bed, and a pineapple on his nightstand.

Unable to remember anything, Ted is filled in about the night from the perspectives of each of his friends. Together, they’re able to piece together what happened over the course of the night. Except for the pineapple. Thus, the pineapple incident (which is actually the name of this episode from the first season). Ted tells his kids that they never figured out where the pineapple came from. HIMYM writer Carter Bays would later admit that he wrote himself into a corner with that line, and learned to never do it again.

Follow that same advice. Whatever you’re writing (especially if it’s the beginning novel of a series, or a novel you think could have a sequel), don’t kill off story lines, plot points, or characters unless you’re absolutely sure they’re resolved or you’re done with them. Leave yourself some wiggle room if you decide to change something later. Novels and series are always developing and changing as the author writes. So it’s okay to change how you’re attacking something as you write a sequel, or work deeper into a work. Stories take on a life of their own and change. Just don’t leave something unresolved or inaccessible later.

No one wants an unexplained pineapple sitting around, no matter how delicious they are.

4. Use Smaller, Compelling Story Arcs

Part of the beauty of writing is weaving multiple story arcs together. You usually have the one, overarching goal/theme/question/story, but there’s so many other tiny ones, too. And these smaller story arcs can be just as compelling as the others. In a seemingly off subject digression that is actually appropriate because Star Wars is Ted and Marshall’s favorite movie, Luke Skywalker didn’t set out to find his father; he wanted to defeat the Empire alongside the Rebel Alliance. But throwing in the twist that Darth Vader is his father added a little extra oomph to the story.

Take advantage of the numerous details you’ve added throughout your writing to create other compelling plot points. Give your main character secondary goals, or expand on a secondary character’s story. Having these extra arcs can create good tension and keep the reader on his toes at the same time.

Lily, Marshall, Barney

Acknowledge your readers and reward them with the highest of fives.

In HIMYM, there are tons of these little story arcs. One of my personal favorites is Barney and Marshall’s slap bet. When the gang discovers Robin doesn’t like going to malls (actually, this ties back into her time as a pop star in Canada—see how cool details are?), Barney and Marshall make a slap bet over why. When Marshall wins, Barney is given the option to take ten consecutive slaps immediately, or have five be delivered at any time Marshall decides. He chooses the second option, which leads to random moments where Marshall will slap Barney, as well as hilarious episodes like “Slapsgiving.” The slaps often come without warning, but the audience is always waiting for the next one. Compelling and rewarding!

5. Tragedy is Compelling

It’s easy to see that Ted is a tragic character. He’s a hopeless romantic searching for true love that doesn’t seem to exist. He’s left at the alter. He falls in love with his best friend, who doesn’t really return the same feelings. He spends years and years searching for the one, only to find her, have two kids with her, and watch her fall ill and pass. Almost nothing ever goes right for him.

And as sappy (and sometimes annoying) as Ted can get, he’s compelling. We want to see him find the one. We want to see him finally find happiness. In many ways, he (and some of the other characters) becomes a caricature of himself by the end of the series. But his character kept the audience going. Even as the show started to decline, fans still watched.

Not all of your characters need to be tragic, but they should all be relatable, in some way. Sprinkling in some tragedy here and there for the important ones only makes it better. You need to make your readers care about these characters. One of the best ways to do that is to tug at those emotional chords. And once you have your readers hooked, you’ve got them.

6. Endings Are Hard

Coming up with a perfect ending is nearly impossible. You will always have readers and fans that disagree with your decisions and criticize you for how you wrap something up. And as hard as it is to wrap up a single story, imagine an entire series. You need to make sure everything is finished. No more open doors (unless you’re planning more books, but then it’s not really finished, is it?).

But the hardest thing is getting the ending right. Mainly because you just don’t want to get it wrong. I’m not saying HIMYM got its series ender wrong. Yes, finding out the mother had passed away was heartbreaking, especially since the audience had grown to know her in the final season. And Ted ending up with Robin, when it seemed like for nine years he was meant to not be with Robin, was frustrating. But in many ways, it made sense, for the show. Ted had his true love. He learned life and love isn’t always perfect. And he decides to give it one more shot with someone he does care about. The episode wrapped up almost everything in the series (damn you pineapple!) and circled around to so many of the inside jokes and even the very first episode. But it just felt unsatisfying, in some way. The door still felt open. It just felt off.

I think the easiest solution to an ending is just to go with the logical choice. Don’t go for a big, “in your face” ending. But you also don’t want it to be weak. There’s a natural balance. And, I think, deep down writers always know what the ending to their story is. Go with that first instinct. And don’t change it. Just make sure you wrap everything up first.

The Gang

Bring the reader back to something familiar, a constant.

7. Circularity

A lot of these points all tie together. But I think that’s because HIMYM was tied together in such a unique way.  At the end of your story, you might want to consider bringing everything back around in a nice circle. In most novels, that means wrapping it up by ending that overarching story arc. There’s closure. I think you can also take it a step further with a scene that recalls back to the beginning of the story, or some sort of grounding point.

Most episodes of HIMYM used places like Ted and Marshall/Marshall and Lily’s apartment, or MacLaren’s Pub as a grounding point. Episodes would often start and end there. It felt familiar and provided circularity for each episode. Plus, that’s how it works in real life, too. Groups of friends have hangout spots. There’s a little extra realness sprinkled in there.

And the series ends with a nearly identical scene from the pilot episode. Ted steals the same blue french horn that he stole after their first date, which Robin had admired. In the pilot, he presented the horn to her and confessed his love for her (after one date!!). She rejects him. In the finale, he’s just seen holding it, below Robin’s apartment as she looks on in awe from her window as the screen cuts to black. While this is far from a perfect (or ideal) ending, it does tie everything together. Ted is still the hopeless romantic. Robin still finds Ted’s romance attractive. Nothing has changed from the first episode, but everything has changed. They’ve both grown for years, even if the audience only had minutes to digest it (an obvious flaw within the construct of a television show).

It does, unfortunately, leave the proverbial door open.

Just remember not to do that. But don’t stress the endings. Remember to be careful with the details, they’ll make or break your story. And, for God’s sake, don’t mess up the pineapple!

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20. Here Comes Peter Cottontail – Easter Reviews

Is your freezer full of hot cross buns? Are you feeling bilious after over-eroding the stash of chocolate eggs you’ve had hidden for weeks from the kids? If so, you may already be over Easter. But wait. There’s more! While you won’t find a great deal of religious meaning in the following titles, they do bubble and burst with frivolity and interactive verve, perfect for sharing with your family, which for me, ticks at least one of my Easter boxes.

Easter Egg expressFirst egg out of the basket – Easter Egg Express by Susannah McFarlane and Caroline Keys, is part of the cute and clever Little Mates A-Z series. Unashamedly Australian, abundant with alliteration and more colour than you’d find in a rainbow, Little Mates rarely fail to deliver. Fortunately, thanks to the help of their bush mates, Easter bilbies Ellie and Eric deliver as well, just in time for an Easter extravaganza. Easter Egg Express epitomises Easter eggactly; egg hunts, egg painting, egg eating and eggceptionally tasty hot cross buns. Eggcellent! (Sorry for the lame yolks)

10 Hopping bunnies10 Hopping Bunnies by winning team, Ed Allen and Simon Williams, serves up more frantic fun for 3 year olds. As with other titles in the series, including 10 Smiley Crocs, this is a zany rendition of the popular ditty, Ten Green Bottles. Counting to ten has never been so energetic and hilarious. William’s illustrations race, hop, bound, swing and bounce across the pages in a riotous countdown that is never boring but plenty bonkers. There’s a touch of Graeme Base on every page too, as readers are encouraged to spot hidden numbers. Practical, merry good fun.

There was an old Bloke who Swallowed a BunnyHow about another well-known tune, now that your vocal chords are all limbered up? There was an Old Bloke who Swallowed a Bunny! by series duo P Crumble and Louis Shea, will keep you singing. It seems incredible that, that old bloke and lady are able to look at another morsel after stuffing themselves silly with stars, thongs, chooks, mozzies and spiders. But these non-sensical characters in this nonsense nursery rhyme appear to have plenty of life and room in them yet.

Our old bloke finds himself famished whilst on the farm. The usual gastronomic gobbling ensues until ‘kapow!’ farmyard calm is restored. Again, it’s the in-your-face, brighter than day illustrations that steal the show. Simultaneous bonsai stories blossom on every page guaranteeing repeated readings and plenty of contemplative pausing and pointing out. But that’s okay because ‘Crikey!’ it’s funny.

We're going on an Egg HuntFinally, because Easter is slightly prone to exploitation, We’re Going on an Egg Hunt by Laine Mitchell and Louis Shea, is included in this fun and frivolous round-up for pre-schoolers. You’ll recognise the rhyme from the title and appreciate the vibrant illustrations accompanying the playful text as you sing along with the kids.

The look on our big-eyed, baby animal friends’ faces as they finally end their hunt in a choc-egg induced stupor is priceless; one we are all familiar with I’m sure. High energy plus high interactive potential = very morish. (There’s even a CD by Jay Laga’aia)

Bounce over here for more great Easter titles for young and old.

Scholastic Australia March 2014



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21. Hidden Picture Illustrations

Below are some glimpses of hidden picture illustrations either published or fresh off the drawing board. These are a challenge but really fun to do!

april8 work 1

(c) Highlights For Children

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22. To be Indigenous or not to be that isn’t a good question even!

A quite lively discussion has blown in from space on a friends Face-postcard about something I forgot because it went a completely different way in short order and is now a history lesson on indigenous peoples.

It was said the “Native “”American”” people” were here first and that they claim to be “Indigenous” and that they have their traditional stories to back up their claim to properties etc.

That got me to thinking (usually leads to minor disasters) that just because someone in your past lived some place and told creation stories doesn’t always mean you have any more rights than the guy who was born there after you lost the battle, in my case way after.

I know, growing up, my mother used to tell me, when I asked how I got here that I came from heaven and perhaps, if I’m a good boy, God will give me land there again though I think he may balk at the casino I want to build even if it is to take all the sinner’s money or credits or what ever the currency of his realm is.

And further more if in the past there was only one super continent, Pangaea or what ever they really called it, then we all have a claim to everywhere cause we are all descendants of the original inhabitants and I’ll bet a dollar to a doughnut there aint anywho who can tell me where they thought they came from even after the break up.

I thought perhaps we are all from Mars via the Pleiades star system but had to leave cause the Marshonians wanted the place back so we moved on as they had come from the Hercules system to Mars first.

To send every one back to where they came from is stupid, you can’t fit that many people on Ellis Island let alone grow enough hemp there to have a trade economy with New York.

I don’t know the answer other than if we don’t start being natives from “EARTH” the little grey men will boot us out and wipe out the myths of our origins from then to eternity.

HareBrained_II_smJPGIt’s a race none us may win …

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23. Opening May 17th 2014

…and you are invited! One week from today "Time Intrusionator" featuring Ernest Oglby Punkweiler and many Seattle illustrators, will debut!
I'd love to have you stop by the museum and see all the cool stuff we've put together.
I'll be there in costume, signing postcards and books.

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24. Plumb Crazy May: BEA, NY, and How to Have Fun!

Hi folks,  Hi, folks! Welcome to the blog! I about to make happy trails. I'm heading to BOOKEXPO America (BEA) to "be a part of it" in New York! I'll be at the Swoon Booth (PDZ638) at noon on Friday May 30, 2014. Please drop by if you are around! This month I am offering a series that shares some of the inside story of my book PLUMB CRAZY (Swoon Romance, June 2014). Consider following the link and giving it "a like" on Goodreads. 

Whew, I have a ton of stuff to do, hence the blog will be short this week  I don't even have time to read and I love to READ. Anyway, what do I have in my bag tricks that is really useful? 

Here's a thought. I have been going to Trade Shows since I was a child. My mom would take me to nursery trade shows. Nothing to do with kids. These were all about plants. Did you know there is a type of person that loves plants as much as books? I would carry a bag and gather pencils, seed packets,  roundtuits, plastic cups and water sprinkler heads. BEA is like that but instead of plant swag they handout glorious bookish swag-- books, book marks, bags and such. This is all about book love. 

So with no further ado. 

How to have fun at trade show? A top ten list!

 1. Take a lesson from the mighty house cat, stalk the floor but don't engage yet. Just check it all out. 

2.  Remember everyone is there to work, so it's not like high school.

3. Put on your smiley face!

4. Wear comfortable shoes! I cannot stress this enough.   

5. Make new friends. Yes, I'm talking to you, book worm. 

6. Know where the chocolate is. 

7. Literary genius is afoot; remember to breathe. 

8. Drink water. 8 glasses.  Pop, tea, coffee, juice, and drinks with little umbrellas do not count. 

9. Pace yourself. Take breaks. Too much stress can ruin your health, relationships, and mental state. 

10. Enjoy yourself! Did you know fun shuts down left-brain activity and makes your right-brain light up like a roman candle?  

Glad you dropped by! Have a good week. With last in the "Plumb Crazy May" series. Hope you drop by.

 Here is a doodle for you: "Faces"

Here is a quote for your pocket. 

It's kind of fun to do the impossible. Walt Disney

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25. Freaky Farm Fun

This painting was started for an illustrator intensive. I can’t wait to get back to it. it is just starting to come together.

via Studio Bowes Art Blog at http://ift.tt/1oudj7y

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