Friday, December 21, 2012

Editing Flops and Holiday Gift Idea Writers Will Love

I spent way too much time today doing Christmas Cards. I finally decided to save time by printing address labels, but they just wouldn't print right. First they weren't centered right, then the labels kept peeling off the backing while in the printer. What a mess. Writing them by hand would have been easier.

Needless to say, I haven't gotten much editing done today. One question to ponder for now:

How do you know what your main character wants? It's an important question. For me, however, it's one I struggle to answer. Cheryl Klein suggested a different way of looking at this. I'll rephrase it.

What will hurt or help your mc the most? What does s/he have to lose or gain?

I'd better go fine tune the answer to that for my book. Meanwhile,

The world hasn't ended yet, and I have a good feeling we'll still be here in June. So I'm bringing forward the WIFYR information.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Vital Elements for Writing Your First Chapter

One of the hardest, and best, parts of Cheryl Klein's workshop was our homework, which included an outline of our manuscript's scenes.

If you're stuck, could you try outlining your manuscript?

First look at each scene and write down what's important about it.

Then look at all your scenes as a whole.

Ms. Klein gave us lots of questions to think about as we viewed our scene summaries. I'll mention just one for now. When I heard this tip, I knew immediately that I had to revise my first two chapters:

The first and second scenes should set up status quo and the inciting incident. Often the "big change" occurs in the first chapter, but it doesn't have to be that way. If the first scene sets up what the character's life is like now, then the second one must show what's about to change it.

I realized my first scene set up status quo. But while the second set up a conflict, it was a subplot conflict, not the inciting incident for the novel.

I've got a lot scene shifting to do.

Do your first and second scenes set the groundwork to start your plot in motion?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Plotting a Middle Grade or Young Adult Novel

My take on SCBWI's Utah-Idaho Master Plot Workshop:

I've said previously that plot is not my strength. Yet.

Thanks to this Saturday class, I've spent quite a bit of time (22 pages to date) writing down the major plot elements of my book and what I need to change.

Cheryl Klein's workshop provided a huge amount of information, and there's no way I can, or should, duplicate it.

However, I'll mention a couple of major ideas spurring me on now:

Good characters take action, not just whine.  I realized I have two may scenes where bad things are happening to the character, and that's it. I have to insert some action on his part.

According to Ms. Klein, the newest question to ask in plotting is the Experiential Point. Always ask yourself: What do I want my reader to feel while reading my book. Just plain enjoyment (think DORK DIARIES) is fine.

However, she says she's drawn to books that help the reader experience deeper emotions. As the character goes through a series of events and relationship interactions that help her change, the reader should feel and grow and discover as well.

As I continue to work my way through my pages of notes and ideas (now 30+ since I started this post yesterday morning) I will post more of Ms. Klein's suggestions.

Plot Revision when Writing a MG or YA

Friday, October 26, 2012

NaNoWriMo Prep: Using a Throughline

NaNoWriMo starts in six days. Of course none of you would cheat and start writing, but you can and should think about the plot you'd like to write.

I don’t love plot. Yes, I can get to the end of a book and easily pick apart flaws in another author’s rising action and denouement, but keeping my work moving forward with a clear goal is much harder.

Author Nancy Lamb wrote THE WRITER'S GUIDE TO CRAFTING STORIES FOR YOUNG CHILDREN. In an excerpt from this book published in Writer's Digest, she talks about the concept of Throughline. It’s another way of asking what the character wants, but I like this label, especially when she describes it as “a forward-moving trajectory.” Whatever happens in the book, the momentum must always move the reader in a line (not necessarily a straight line) toward the conclusion. She gave five questions to ask as you get ready for NaNo or as you revise:
 What is the primary throughline?
What are the secondary throughlines?
How do the threads intersect?
How does each contribute to the story’s forward momentum?
How does each pull the reader through the story?

Another way to describe a throughline might be to call it the character's driving motivation. Lamb says somewhere near the end of the book’s middle, the character faces not getting what s/he desires most. Either because s/he can’t have it, or chooses not to have it. This roadblock makes the character discover a secondary throughline, the motivation the character wants more, or was originally unaware of desiring.

The introduction of the secondary throughline should not intersect, but not replace, the original motivation. As an example, in WRINGER by Jerry Spinelli, the main character, wants to avoid having to participate in the annual pigeon shoot. As the book progresses, he gains his own pet pigeon, which changes and deepens the throughline.

I've heard Wringer described as a perfectly plotted book. I've used the throughlines to BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA, as described by Lamb in her article, to help me analyze my WIPs.

As November ends and you begin revising, consider using a strongly-plotted book as a yardstick. A solid throughline is what keeps even the pickiest reader turning pages.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Dance before the Song Ends

Someday maybe I'll have one of those fancy ipod alarm clocks. For now, I have one of those clock radios that gets lousy reception and is set to any random station that works. This morning I woke up listening to these lyrics: "I Hope You Dance."

Ironic, because this was the third time I'd pushed snooze, and I rarely do that. But I didn't sleep well, and had a nice pity party, refreshments included, at 1 a.m. Today is the third anniversary of my twin sister's death from breast cancer. Please forgive a personal and somewhat religious aside (I am Mormon, and yes, I am Christian) but I felt it when my sister left this earth. I believe her spirit still exists, and I will see Rosalie again. Because of my beliefs, I an fine today. I have hope. I am, however, in a pondering mood.

Last night my husband told our family about a nurse who talked to patients about to die. Many had regrets, such as wishing they'd spent more time with loved ones. One regret frequently expressed was, "I wish I'd let myself be happier."

Life is fleeting. Our circumstances can change at any moment. So my challenge to myself, and to you, is to not let the happy moments pass us by. So what if the dishes aren't done or you have a writing deadline you haven't met? Don't let little things derail you. Go hug that person you love. Frost those Halloween sugar cookies and share them.

It's easy to give advice and hard to follow it. Although I know we can never be sure how much time we have left, I still struggle to" let myself be happy." However, I believe one way we learn to dance through our lives, rather than drag long-faced across the desert we create from our worries, is through little acts of kindness and love. One phone call, one hug, one remembrance.

Thank you, Rosalie, for being my sister and best friend for so many years.

And all of you who are women, it's breast cancer awareness month, and always strikes me as ironic that she died from that disease in October. Her diagnosis came too late for treatment. I believe many places still offer free mammograms all month. If you're forty, go get one.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Starving Creativity

My day went from wonderful to bad in the time it took to see my daughter.

 I came home from a terrific writing discussion recharged and happy. But then I found my daughter on the stairs, holding her stomach like she’d been punched. She hadn't, at least not in the fist-meets-gut sense. She said, “It happened again, Mom.”

Lately we’ve had a series of tragic pet rodent deaths. It may be close to Halloween, but I’ll skip all details except to say we’ve had three miniature hamsters and one pet rat expire in ways that left both my daughters crying.

 I know this isn’t a pet column, and good thing, because if this was titled, “The Proper Care and Feeding of Pet Rodents,” no one would trust me as an expert.

 I mention this because pets and houseplants don’t thrive without the necessary nutrients. (Oops, I said I wasn’t going to say what happened to that poor rat.)

Lately my writing hasn’t thrived much, either. Here are two things I hope will fuel your writing as well a mine.   

Yesterday a writer friend commented that her writing had felt flat. Then, after a huge life change relieved her stress, her creativity came bouncing back. 

I’ve mentioned my hammock in a previous post. For other people it may be yoga, a walk outside, a day of shopping, a comfy pillow and a good book (preferably one you can read without analyzing every bit of it.) For me, one half hour gazing at a blue sky might help, but I think I need more serious stress-fighting tools. 
  1. 1.       Taking the pressure off: It’s the times the writing worries come at me hard and fast as the aliens in that old game of Space Invaders (if you don’t know what that game is, you’re young and I’m jealous. Google it.) I’m too old. The e-book market is going to make it impossible for me to publish traditionally. I have no talent, or, any talent I once had is now shriveled up like the um . . . houseplant. I have to publish soon, or I never will. I can’t be happy until I publish. You get the idea. These kinds of thoughts don't help anything. It's all based on unrealistic and overly-harsh expectations, not to mention a sprinkling of hyperbole.

    In the writing group I mentioned, one member said writers tend to be a little OCD. While I may or may not agree (look at my messy house, then form your own opinion) we are, at least, very hard on ourselves. Being hard on ourselves in what is already a very difficult profession is, well, hard.

    2.       A Writing Vacation: While a break from writing might be good from time to time, I don’t mean that in this case.. I'm suggesting we find ways to make writing our break instead of a source of pressure.

    A Remember we write because we love it: Why make ourselves miserable? I was recently talking to my critique partner about authors who have very good first books followed by not-so-great sequels. We wondered if this is partly caused by the pressure these authors feel to produce those subsequent books. We can’t always eliminate the stress from our lives, but we can find ways to make writing something we want to do each day. Write something that makes you laugh. Take a notebook and go write someplace you love, maybe while eating your favorite dessert. 

    B Write something different. I credit my critique partner, Alison Randall, for this idea: She suggests taking time off from novel writing to create a short story, a poem, even a puzzle or game. Alison said magazines are always on the lookout for games and puzzles. Submit to a magazine or a contest. Writers need a little positive reinforcement to keep us from feeling as dead as that . . . houseplant, and an article or short story in a magazine can provide not only a morale boost, but also a publication credit.

    For almost a year now, I’ve wanted to write a short story from an idea I had. But I felt guilty because my novels aren’t thriving, and this has kept me from taking time off to draft the story. Now I’m thinking that may be just the nourishment I, and my writing, need. So I’m off to write that short story. It’s a little cold for the hammock now, but maybe I’ll write sitting on my window seat, looking at the red leaves outside, and a little fro yo might be nice too.


Saturday, September 29, 2012

Because I Don't Live in the Real World

I had my two days of discouragement. I admit to getting close to tears on the tomato sauce and canned pea aisle of the grocery store. (Canned peas are plenty of reason to cry, believe me!) But now I'm entering another writing contest. The amazing crew over at Writer reminded me of one reason I write. I love the created world of books. I may fall asleep thinking of ways to fix my plot or strengthen a character's motivation. Someone once told me, "I can't read fiction. How can you stand stories that aren't real?"

My answer: How can you stand a life that doesn't include the power of story? It gives us an escape. Yet stories help us understand the rest of life--insight, empathy, even hope. If my character can fight off flames with a fire extinguisher and a bottle of root beer, I can re-write his query for the 101rst time.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Why We Do This Writing Thing

Wanting Less is Easier than Having More --Mary Ellen Edmunds.

 I used to win contests. Sometimes, of course. Two years back, I got two honorable mentions in the Writer's Digest contest. Last year and this year, I sent in more entries, hoping to win something bigger. Instead, I didn't even place. I just got my thanks but no thanks e-mail yesterday.

 I confess I'm getting worried. I fear the competition is increasing, and I won't be able to keep up. I wish I could have had good writing resources about 10 years earlier, instead of writing drivel in secret, on my own. That's a fruitless wish, however, until someone can invent me a time machine. (If that happens, I have a few other things I'd like to fix while I'm at it. Including that 80's big hair!)

 How many times in your writing career have you asked yourself, "Why am I doing this? Should I just give up?" I've asked that many times, most recently today. I do know, however, that when I don't write, I have to fulfill that restless creative engine inside me with something else. Making weird concoctions out of chocolate and peanut butter. Spending $100 at the craft store for--what? I have a closet full of paints, scrapbook supplies, clay I'd like to sculpt, etc. At least this time I have a purpose for my crafting. I'm going to donate some of the crafts I've made; necklaces, a clay Santa or two, plus some new ones: painted pillows, plates, earrings (my girls are much better at making those, so it's a family project) for the upcoming Mothers Without Borders Craft Sale (Nov. 2nd in SLC.)

 Which makes me think about Africa and how petty my whining is. I've been listening to Mary Ellen Edmund's CD about her experiences in Nigeria. She talked about her work helping establish health education teachers in a small town there, how little the villagers had, both in material things and free time. I have running water. I don't have to kill poultry. I can buy neatly-packaged, boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Those people work hard to make a living. Most can never even dream of things like publishing a book. I have lots to appreciate, and despite health problems, teenagers who are wonderful but still teenagers, etc, I have to remember my life is good.

 So why is getting published a source of so much stress to me? For lots of reasons, I can't seem to give it up. Rick Walton says the people who try hard enough, who don't stop working at it, eventually get published. I hope that's still true. What do you think? Is the market even harder to publish in lately? Tell me why you write. What makes it worth it, despite all the hard things? Just when I was about to give up on writing back in 2009, I won a contest. What events, internal or external, keep you motivated?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Stuck on that First Line...again!

I can think of many worse kinds of hell than having to rewrite a first sentence through eternity. However, after seeming endless versions, I am getting frustrated. I've never had so much trouble with a first page. In earlier posts, I've talked about how haiku can help phrase thoughts in a different, more concise way. For my too-wordy self, this sometimes helps clarify what I really want to say. I tried it again. Here's my first result: I seize color bright slip it through unlit door jams to light future rooms This one won't get me there, honestly, but I like it. Here's another go: seize one bright color Plucked from day’s blind blurring haste spark to light up day It's not perfect either, but this a writing exercise, not a haiku competition. One that helped me clarify what I really wanted to say, cutting some of the excess words. Now I'm going to go back and try that first line again.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Embarrassed! I'm so ashamed! Has it seriously been this long since I've posted? I admit, I've been swamped with everything I need to do to get ready for the conference, and that isn't going to get any better until June 22nd. I even had an idea for a post I drafted, but I wrote it all in the middle of the night and thought I'd better edit before posting, and I never did. However, I do have a couple of quick tidbits: The conference isn't full quite yet. So there's still time. If you're a bit strapped for cash, the afternoons-only option is really a bargain. And if even that's too much, maybe writing isn't that important to you. Kidding. If you can't make it for afternoons, at least come to Trent Reedy's keynote speech Thursday afternoon. It's free! We have one attendee coming all the way from Oman. Interesting, since Trent Reedy's book is about a little Afghan girl with a cleft palate.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Soggy Middles and Tension Headaches

The middle of a manuscript may be the hardest part to write. If writing yours is giving you a tension headache, here are some ideas.
Like an overly-laden peanut butter sandwich, manuscript middles can get soggy. To keep the reader interested, however, we have to fix this peanut butter jam (sorry) because manuscripts, unlike people, thrive on tension.
I recently analyzed a book with the intent to improve my own plotting. About a third of the way through, my interest slowed. So I outlined the middle chapters, rating the escalation of tension for each.
Events still happened in the story, but the plot seemed to move around instead of up. An article in the January 2011 Writer’s Digest helped me identify why. “The story needs to progress toward more and more conflict, with…deeper tension…Because of that, repetition is the enemy of escalation.” 3 Secrets to Great Storytelling, Steven James, Writers Digest, January 2011, p. 41.
The book had several chapters in which the main characters did almost the same thing, and the antagonist responded in almost exactly the same way. The repeating pattern explains the going-in-circles feeling. But some repetition is necessary, right? We’re familiar with the rule of threes, originally based in comedy. Fiction writers use it as well. As an example, a plot may require a MC to make three attempts before s/he accomplishes a particular goal. So what’s the difference between a useful rule of three and repetitions that bore the reader?
In the WD article, Steven James points out, “Every murder you include decreases the impact that each subsequent murder will have on the reader. Every explosion, prayer, conversion...means less and less to the readers, simply because repetition, by its very nature, serves to work against the escalation your story so desperately needs.” He urges writers to “Strive, instead, to continually make things worse for the protagonist.”
A while back, I did some editing on an old manuscript. In it, the MC experiences verbal abuse. Knowing that abuse typically goes in cycles, I tried to follow that pattern in my book. Now, however, I know I need to go back and make sure these cycles aren’t acting like so much extra sandwich filling.

I’ve come up with some questions to ask myself:
1. Does each chapter have an important purpose that moves the plot forward?
2. When I use repetition, is there a legitimate purpose and necessity for these repeated events?
3. Does each repetition escalate, the plot tension? Or does it detract from it?

Escalating tension can be one remedy for the headache of soggy manuscript middles. And once you've fixed your manuscript, make sure to enter it in the WIFYR's $1000 contest. (see my last post.)

Friday, March 9, 2012

1rst Annual WIFYR Writing Contest and Award

This is really exciting--the WIFYR committee is sponsoring a contest to help a talented writer with the needed funds to further his/her work in progress. Here's the link: That $1,000 could buy a lot of printer ink!

Seriously, this will be a great contest. Here's my tip for you--financial need will be a consideration, but it's just as important to have a great, polished manuscript. Unless you're incredible at first drafts, I wouldn't start something new. Take the manuscript (or picture books) you've been working on and polish until you can see your reflection in it.

If you have questions about who you should ask to write your letters of recommendation, please post them below.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Soon to Come: Writing Contest with $$ Prize

Some really great things are happening at Check out the new blog, and sign up for the newsletter. There's a huge contest in the works, designed to help someone with their work in progress novel. Sign up for the newsletter (link on the site) to find out more!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Paranormal Haiku, Part Two

For Crazy Haikus to Cure Writer's Block, please see my post below.
Meanwhile, I'm bringing forward part of my previous post, this time adding two more crazy haiku. Chris Crowe's blog post introduced me to zombie haiku.

This is a great way to practice concise word choice and get the creative life-blood flowing (hee.) I had no idea how therapeutic and addictive these can be. When I wrote these, my mind got going, and the patterns wouldn't stop running through my head.

Since I've wasted valuable writing time on these, I'm going to torture you with the results. After you groan over mine, I challenge you to write some better ones.

Paranormal: (vampires, ghosts, werewolves, goblins, fairies, angels, zombies, etc.), haiku: five syllable first line, seven syllable second line, five again for the third. It can be gory, but please keep it clean. Have fun!

Werewolf forest sign:
Stop in woods on snowy night
Strongly encouraged.

Feathered fall from bliss
Caught by sparking hands at dawn
Vampire eats angel

(My apologies to Jane Austen fans:)
Darcy proclaims love
Vampire Lizzy spurns his plea
The Prey is Pre-juiced

Universal truth
Lone man possessing fortune
But lacks possessed bride

Love binds groom in sleep
Red hourglass weaves night’s web
Widow’s prey at dawn

Computer screen breaks
Tech blames virus, but I know
It’s pixielated
[bad pun, sorry.]

Zombie seeks his prey
Stumbles on ribs now picked clean
Werewolves ate heart’s dream

Green breaks through cold earth
Rebirth reaching toward the sky
Dead hands grab my feet

Lady Finger Cake
Wellington, once Duke, now pie
Zombie peasants feast
[does anyone get this last one? Just curious.]

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Crazy Haiku as a Cure for Writer's Block

I hate the times I find myself searching for words I should recall with ease.

I'm calling this writer's word block. When I'd like to use profound, powerful words, I sometimes interrupt my draft with self-notes like:[the mom is crying, but what's an original way to say this?] In the blog Throwing Up Words, author and BYU professor Chris Crowe introduced me to Zombie Haiku. He suggested it as a cure for writer's block, and he's right. Here's another site that's fun, too:

The exercise of condensing thought into the compact 5 syllable, 7 syllable, 5 syllable pattern is not only addicting, but also helps word selection. While my haiku won't win awards, I'll give two examples. In a scene I'm writing, I have an angry mom who's really just scared. I could say that, but it's boring.

Here are the first two lines of the haiku I started to help me:

Anger coats her words
Stop sign hands, each nail chewed short

I had to play with the third line a lot. It started as "fear beneath each quick"

What I like about haiku is the metal energy of replacing general, bland words with specific, clear language. It should be dense with meaning. This line is unclear.

You might find that even after you stop writing your haiku, it doesn't leave you. My brain will keep repeating the rhythm, trying out new words as I do. So after I'd written this down, another line popped into my head: "each quick fear-knawed deep." Hmm. Sounds nice, but sacrifices clarity for word play, so it's still not right.

Here's what I finally ended up with:

Anger coats her words
Stop sign hands, each nail chewed short
fear knaws down each quick.

In my second scene, a girl goes to a hospital to visit her very ill father. I originally wrote about how she touches her dad's hand and it's cold. That bugged me, and I had trouble writing the rest of the scene. So I wrote out two haikus.

The first one wasn't that great:

Pen sits within reach
Of fingers without strength or will
Another hand signs

If this were my manuscript, I'd insert a note: [boring--better descriptive words?]

The second one accomplished it's purpose. I realize I'd started the scene wrong. The daughter needs to hesitate as she enters the room, move to where she can see his eyes,then, finally, touch his hand.

Head bent close to chest
Child-proud eyes, now daughter-blind
Hand's warmth yet comforts.

Okay, maybe this is too much word play, but I fixed my scene. Notice the dad's hands changed. The warm hands provided the daughter with a needed reminder that even if the dad couldn't see her, the part of him that loved her was still very much alive.

I challenge you to try some haiku. To get the juices flowing, go back to my post on Paranormal Haiku, or better, Chris Crowe's. Post some in the comments--the crazier, the better (as long as they stay PG.)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

MOON OVER MANIFEST by Clare Vanderpool

Does a Newbery award-winning book really need a review?

Regardless, I liked it enough that I'm going to do one anyway. All I can say is that when Emily had to do a book report on a historical fiction, and said she hated all historical fiction, I wish this had fit her lexile so she could have read it. Historical, yes, but even my historical-hating daughter would have liked it. Set in the depression, Abilene Tucker gets sent to live in the town of Manifest with an aging bachelor who knew her father. The Preacher is an interesting combination of religious man and moonshiner, and the backdrop of the depression, the beginnings of WWII, and a city whose coal mine makes it a melting pot of cultures, are fascinating. She discovers a treasure box full of items and a gypsy lady who knows the story behind each one. As she hears the stories of Jinx, she learns the untold history of the boy she eventually realizes is her father. Masterfully told through her point of view and the stories, this book deserves the praise it's received.


Book Review:

I don’t like it when books surprise me by turning into a fantasy half-way through. This one does have a surprise, but Ruth White handled it so well that I loved it. Loved it enough to tell my picky teen she had to read it. Meggie has nightmares about the man who entered her California classroom with a gun, saying he was an alien hunter and going to shoot the alien. The family, consisting of Mom, Grandpa, Meggie and her brother David, move to a small town where rumors spread of aliens “suck out your soul by your toes,” I had enough hints that something unusual was going on. But what I found out was going on was so exactly the opposite of what I thought that I felt delighted and amazed at Ruth White’s creativity.
I can’t tell more without spoiling it, but the author creates a society that reminds me of Ally Condie’s MATCHED and CROSSED. Combine that with good characterization and great plot, and it’s a practically perfect story. The ending wraps everything up perhaps too neatly, but don’t we all love a good happy outcome for characters we love?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

WIFYR Assistant Critique Deadlines

This is going to be a very specific post, sorry. I'll do some more haiku follow-up and book reviews later.

WIFYR assistants: After talking to Kristyn Crowe, I realize we need to clarify this critique process better.

Mandatory dates for getting an agent/editor consultation:

Everyone's work that did not get critiqued in person on January 28th, including synopses and query paragraphs that didn't get read, should be turned in by Feb. 18th. For Debbie's group, we did exchange synopses and queries already, and I'd like your critique comments back by the 18th.

Everyone should read these chapters, synopses, and queries (submitted on the 18th) for their group that they haven't already critiqued, and send their comments to the list serve by March 3rd.

This should complete the first round of critiquing. We will then start the critique process over. Review the comments you received from the first critique, make changes to your work, and turn your work back in to the list serve by March 19th. (3 things, pic. book or five pages, query paragraph, and synopses-- 1 page if possible.)

Read your group's new, revised submissions. Then send your critique comments back to the list serve by March 31rst. If you'd like to continue to ask for help and comments after this, you can, but that part is no longer mandatory.

All finalized, revised chapters or picture book, plus the synopses, will be due, THIS TIME TO MY E-MAIL, by June 2nd at the latest. (Hold onto your query--it's for when you submit later on, if you choose to.)

Hope this helps. Please comment to let me know you get this and understand it, okay?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Site is Live!

The site is up! Go take a peek at it--

And we're also having a contest on Facebook--tell us one amazing thing you've learned from past attendance at the conference, and you could win!

Okay, I got one great haiku, but there have got to be more of you. Come on, be brave and share!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

WIFYR Update and Paranormal Haiku

Writing and Illustrating for Young Authors always has two editors and an agent. However, this year,WIFYR will have two agents and two editors! Add to that Kirk Shaw's dual capacity as faculty and editor, plus agent Amy Jameson, and it's going to be great! A big writing contest is also in the works, with a serious prize!

The website caught a bad cold (okay, malware) that delayed things, but registration will be happening before we know it.

Meanwhile, Chris Crowe's recent blog post introduced me to zombie haiku.

It's a great way to practice concise word choice and get the creative life-blood flowing(hee.) I had no idea how therapeutic and addictive these can be. When I wrote these, my mind got going, and the patterns wouldn't stop running through my head.

Since I've wasted valuable writing time on these, I'm going to torture you with the results. After you groan over mine, I challenge you to write some better ones.

Paranormal: (vampires, ghosts, werewolves, goblins, fairies, angels, zombies, etc.), haiku: five syllable first line, seven syllable second line, five again for the third, Please keep the gore, etc., clean. Have fun!

Werewolf forest sign:
Stop in woods on snowy night
Strongly encouraged.

Feathered fall from bliss
Caught by sparking hands at dawn
Vampire eats angel

(My apologies to Jane Austen fans:)

Darcy proclaims love
Vampire Lizzy spurns his plea
The Prey is Pre-juiced

Universal truth
Lone man possessing fortune
But lacks possessed bride

Love binds groom in sleep
Red hourglass weaves night’s web
Widow’s prey at dawn

Computer screen breaks
Tech blames virus, but I know
It’s pixielated

Zombie seeks his prey
Stumbles on ribs now picked clean
Werewolves ate heart’s dream

Okay, they're getting worse. Time to stop. Please try it--you can do better than this.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


Get ready, all of you authors out there--Open Registration for Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers starts in January, middle of the month-ish. I promise I'll let you know the actual date as soon as I know.

However, since Carol announced it on her blog,
I can pass the list of amazing, talented faculty on to you:

Introduction to Writing–AE Cannon
Picture Book–Trudy Harris
Illustration–Julie Olson
Middle Grade– Time Wynne-Jones
Intro to YA Novel–Kimberly Hueston
Advanced–Carol Lynch Williams
Advanced–Greg Leitich Smith
Science Fiction–Mette Ivie Harrison
Fantasy–Matt Kirby
Paranormal–Cynthia Leitich Smith
Writing the LDS Middle Grade and Young Adult Novel–Kirk Shaw
Boot Camp–Ann Dee Ellis

Are you excited yet?