Category Archives: books

What can you accomplish in 5 years?

time bloomingHow about 20?

Taking a break from writing my YA Paranormal first draft, I hopped over to see what (one of) my fav YA authors was up to. Laurie Halse Anderson focuses more on writing her books, than blog posts, which I truly admire. But, Here’s a post she shared back in September, 2012 that got me thinking.

Yes, I’ve been struggling with my own creativity doubts, droughts and bouts of frustration. Some bouts and droughts last long. Too long. And then, I start to think… “Am I REALLY a writer? Or am I posing as a writer because that’s what everyone THINKS I am?” Have I been at this writing thing too long with not much to show for it? It’s depressing. It’s defeating. Anyone else with me on this?

So, reading Laurie’s post about giving herself 5 years to make a name for herself in writing gave me an idea. What if I started right now? Like, took it seriously. 5 years from now, I can have a book published. 5 years from now, my oldest son will be a freshman in college, my younger guy will be a freshman in high school. They’d both be pretty independent and not need Mom around as much as they do now. I could go on a book tour! Ha! O.K. One.Thing.At.A.Time.

Finish first draft.

Submit my piece to my crit group TODAY. (eek!)

Meet with said crit group on Wednesday.

Critique one more story on CritiqueCircle.com

Complete first draft for Anthology 7 & post on CritiqueCircle.com

Where will you be in 5 years with your writing? With your life?

Random tidbits…

Written to the musical muse of: A Fine Frenzy – “Almost Lover”

Movie I’m psyched to see: Warm Bodies

Book I’m reading: well, just finished Anne Lamott’s Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith

4 Comments

Filed under Believe, books, goals

Writing Letters to your Child (plus a book giveaway!)

Please welcome Steena Holmes, author of FINDING EMMA.  Steena shares the importance of writing letters to our children. Leave a comment or question for Steena today for a chance to win a pdf or mobi copy of her best selling book! (plus – a Carnival of PRIZES available! More info below the article…)

Letter Writing…To Your Child

guest post by Steena Holmes

There’s something to be said for sitting down and writing a letter, especially in today’s world when it’s so much easier to shoot off an email or send an e-card that can literally only take minutes to do. Writing a letter takes time. Time to compose your thoughts, to ensure what you really want to say gets written. Time to be honest with yourself.

I started to write letters to my children after shortly after my oldest daughter was born. I remember sitting in the in my chair one day while she was screaming in my arms and wondering where had I gone as a person. There I was, a new mom with no clue what to do. It shocked me. Once upon a time I always knew what to do, knew who I was and where I wanted to go. I was experiencing what most new mom’s go through – an identity crisis.

I went back to my roots as a teenager of figuring out who I was, by journaling. But, that journal soon grew into a book of letters for my daughter. I started to remember who I was a person and I watched myself grow as a woman and a mother through the words I wrote to her.

Three children later, I still carry on the process of writing letters to my daughters. I talk about goal setting and learning to be a stronger person. I tell them about my weaknesses and what steps I’m taking to overcome them. I share with them the love that is in my heart and what I see in theirs. I’m an open book in my letters to my daughters and its a process that I cherish.

Leave a comment for a chance to win this book!

This is something every mother can do. Whether it becomes a gift that you give them at their wedding or when their first child is born, or whether it’s a process that you share together (my middle daughter and I write letters back and forth in one of her journals weekly), it’s a process that, I believe, opens your heart up to being honest with who you are as a person and helps you to remember those goals and dreams you once held close. It also helps to teach our children to be honest with themselves, to never be afraid to look deep inside their hearts and deal with issues that are hard.

In my bestseller Finding Emma, I use the concept of writing letters with Peter. He keeps a diary for their kidnapped daughter, Emma. He writes down the words he’s too afraid to admit out loud and he’s even encouraged his other daughters, Hannah and Alexis, to do the same. There’s one touching scene when Megan finds out about this journal and reads it for herself. It opens her eyes to the man she married and makes her realize he’s not who she thought he was.

Have you ever written a letter to your child? If you haven’t, I strongly encourage you to do so. And if you don’t have children, how about writing one to yourself? That might be even harder to do, like trying to get off a ferris wheel that never ends, but in the end, you’ll know it will be a letter full of honesty and truth.

Steena Holmes

Author of the new heart wrenching story “Finding Emma”, Steena is a woman who believes that ‘in the end, everything succumbs…to the passions of your heart’. Steena’s life revolves around her family, friends and fiction.

Come along with Emma on a scavenger hunt!
We’re going to the Carnival! At each stop along Steena’s tour there is a hidden word–something you would find at a fair or carnival. Find the word and enter it at the Scavenger Hunt page on Steena’s website
(http://www.steenaholmes.com/wow-scavenger-hunt/). Each entry is an extra ticket to win! Need more clues? Join us at the Carnival Board on Pinterest (http://pinterest.com/steenah/summer-carnivals-childhood-memories/)
where we will post images of the clues. Join in the fun by leaving your own favorite carnival pics! Read about prizes and additional details on The Muffin.(http://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com/2012/06/emmas-scavenger-hunt.html)

Prizes:

First Prize: Work with a Bestselling Author.

Our Grande Prize winner will help create a character for Steena Holmes’ next book!

 Second and Third Prize Winners will each receive a signed copy of Finding Emma and a special pewter angel figurine from The Missing Children’s Society of Canada, an organization dedicated to bringing children home.

2 Comments

Filed under Advice, books, characters, emotion

Finish this line…

more from The Pocket Muse (Monica Wood)

Finish this line…

“Right after they posted the results, I tried to ________________”

+ call my dad

+ get lost in the crowd

+ deny the words in front of me

+ console Becky

+ tear the sheet from the bulletin board

+ avoid eye contact with Roger

+ “your own idea here!”

Share your finishing touches and any story ideas that steam up from the cup of muse. :)

Leave a comment

Filed under books, writers, writing inspiration, Writing prompts

Dear Words: I love you! Forever yours, me

“Don’t forget to be grateful that you love words.” ~ Monica Wood

I LOVE words. I do. And I don’t care who hears me:

I LOVE WORDS!!!

Say it with me!

I LOVE WORDS!!!

Create words or unique ways of using them: “green” as a Verb?

The sun greens the Earth.

“Spoon” as a Verb?

She spoons the terrier pup, feeling his warmth and heartbeat.

How about “racket?”

Sammy is racketing across the yard, much to the dismay of the delicately balanced tea cups.

What other nouns or adjectives can you use as a fresh verb?

Leave a comment

Filed under books, Fiction, Voice, writers block, writing inspiration, Writing prompts

A Pocketful of ideas

I finished reading The Pocket Muse by Monica Wood and sizzle with exhilaration for my writing again.

 

OK, so as I read this little pocket-full of inspiration, I took notes, wrote down quotes, writing prompts and exercises then let my own imagination move my pen across the page. I thought I’d share some of these snippets with you:

Some conflict ideas:

  • a mismatch between person and place: someone in the wrong house, wrong job, wrong school, wrong church, wrong club, wrong DIMENSION
  • trouble getting from Point A to Point B
  • trouble being understood
  • trouble having something done to you (or for you!)
  • trouble talking
  • trouble listening

“I really like dialogue between two people who aren’t listening to each other.” ~ Raymond Carver

  • winning something you don’t want (a pet aardvark; an outdated set of Encyclopedias…)
  • saying “yes” when you meant to say “no”
  • a family secret gets out
  • a noise – or a silence – that won’t go away

Add some more conflict ideas! I’d love to have an ongoing list…

2 Comments

Filed under Advice, Believe, books, Inspiration, writers, writing inspiration, Writing prompts

I Am Not My Past:

 

Defining Yourself

 {Guest Post by: Chynna Laird, author of White Elephants}

When a child is abused or victimized, it changes a tiny part of him forever. That much is true. He comes to believe that he actually deserves the treatment that was bestowed on him. He thinks that, maybe, if he was cuter/smarter/faster/better behaved than the abuser wouldn’t hurt him anymore. We all know this couldn’t be further from the truth but this is the mindset these children fall into. And when we don’t keep reminding the child who he truly is underneath it all, we are inadvertently reinforcing those negative thoughts. Allow me to explain.

Whenever people found out what was going on in our house, or what happened to me specifically, one of two things happened. Some people focused on all of the statistics that say people who abuse become abusers or that we have to be watched closely because we’ll become addicts or hurt ourselves or, God forbid, commit suicide. This is a dangerous stereotype because, as with all stereotypes, they exist due to misinformation and misunderstanding. And when a person hears these stereotypes often enough, they end up believing them and living up to them. This line of thinking keeps these children living as victims rather than as a child who just happened to go through this horrible thing but who was brave enough to go on.

Others simply became so uncomfortable they wouldn’t interact with me. They didn’t know what to say to me or how to act around me and avoided me. That hurt tremendously because it made me feel like, maybe, I did deserve what happened to me if no one else wanted to be around me either. Again, this happens because folks just aren’t informed or understand the situations well enough. Taking the time to understand what these kids go through in general, as well as the child’s specific situation, will help ease any discomfort. Avoiding or ignoring them only intensifies their own insecurities.

I understand that not everyone knows what to do when finding out a child they know has been abused, neglected or otherwise victimized. The main thing you can help with is restoring the three basic things every child should have: self-esteem, self-worth and self-confidence. All of these are broken down next to nothing when they’ve been abused. And those are the main components of helping these kids define their own paths.

A dear friend of mine, and the CEO of a local child protection charity I work closely with, told me once that she never reads the files for the children that come to her center before she’s met with them. She sits down with the child, playing games with them or talking about what they enjoy doing. Once she’s gotten to know the child inside and out, only then does she finally read the file to learn his or her history. Think of the significance of that for a moment.

By sitting down with the child first, my friend is seeing only the child. She’s understanding who he is, what his interests are and what he likes or doesn’t. She takes the time to figure out what that child is good at and draws that out. She relates to him at his comfort level, treating him like any other child she might meet up with. And doing this without knowing what he’s gone through is what she calls, ‘Defining him by who he or she is rather than whatever labels are attached to the child through their experiences.’

I can’t tell you how much that means to these kids. We can’t change or erase those experiences as much as we’d like to. But what we can do is remind him of all the good in him because no person can take that away from him completely. The way you can do that is to follow what my friend does above.

Plant the seeds of self-esteem by reminding her she is worth spending time with. Let her know that her presence matters and that she is still just a kid—a fantastic kid. She needs to see and believe that in order to keep going. Don’t worry, she will.

As that grows, nurture it so the first signs of self-worth start to sprout. Remind her of all the great things she can do, helping her to draw on that for courage and strength when things get tough. Show her that despite what’s happened to her, she is supposed to be here and get her to see all of her ‘Can Do’s’.

Once you see those take strong root, you’ll finally see the blossom of self-confidence develop and grow. When he knows others believe in him, he will believe in himself. Self-confidence isn’t just thinking you can do something, it’s what gives us the tenacity to try, and keep trying, until we feel bigger, stronger and more powerful than what’s trying to scare us from moving forward.

We aren’t born with any of these things. We’re supposed to learn and develop them from our caregivers. But when a child is abused, they don’t have the chance to develop properly and neither does the child. But children are resilient when given the proper support. Trust me on this. I wouldn’t be here today without my loving support network surrounding me each and every day.

Even if you don’t know what else to do, you have the ability to make a difference by helping to nurture these traits in these kids. We can all do that. By doing so, you’re giving them a most precious gift of all: the ability to define themselves and to say, “I am not my past!” And that is powerful.

Chynna Laird

CHYNNA LAIRD – is a psychology major, freelance writer and multi award-winning author living in Edmonton, Alberta with her partner, Steve, and their three daughters [Jaimie (almost nine), Jordhan (six), and baby Sophie (three)] and baby boy, Xander (five). Her passion is helping children and families living with Sensory Processing Disorder and other special needs.

You’ll find her work in many online and in-print parenting, inspirational, Christian and writing publications in Canada, United States, Australia, and Britain. In addition, she’s authored an award-winning children’s book (I’m Not Weird, I Have SPD), two memoirs (the multi award-winning, Not Just Spirited: A Mom’s Sensational Journey With SPD and White Elephants), a Young Adult novel (Blackbird Flies), an adult Suspense/Thriller (Out Of Sync to be released March 2012), and a Young Adult Suspense/Mystery/Paranormal/Sweet Romance (Undertow, to be released 2012). She’s also working on a sequel to Not Just Spirited called Not Just Spirited: The Journey Continues and a few other projects in the works for Middle Grade and Young Adult readers.

Please visit Chynna’s website at www.chynna-laird-author.com, as well as her blogs at www.the-gift-blog.com and www.seethewhiteelephants.com, to get a feel for her work and what inspires her.

2 Comments

Filed under Advice, Believe, books, emotion, Inspiration, Perseverance, writers

AM I a traitor?

I received a Kindle Fire for Christmas. And I really, truly love all the capabilities. But, as empty wallets follow full holidays, alas I have no money left to purchase ebooks.

Any suggestions for some great fiction or books on creativity/inspiration/art/writing for cheap?

 

I loved words. I love to sing them and speak them and even now, I must admit, I have fallen into the joy of writing them. — Anne Rice

4 Comments

Filed under books

Journal Write to Discover What You Know (plus a BIG Giveaway!)

Today, please welcome back, Mari McCarthy, as she talks about how to discover what we really know and spinning this into our writing. BUT, the BIG NEWS is…today, one lucky commenter will have their choice of THREE COOL PRIZES:

Giveaway: Winner’s Choice (either an eBook copy of Dark Chocolate for the Journaler’s Soul, a spiral-bound copy of Mari’s Most Musefull Journaling Tips, or a Dark Chocolate T-Shirt)

RULES: You must leave a comment or question after today’s post before midnight tonight! I will use Random.,org to select the winner, and the winner will then select their prize!

Option #1: ebook

Journal Write to Discover What You Know

 

“Write about what you know.” If you’re into writing, you’ve heard this a zillion times, and you believe it makes sense. After all, if you’ve always been rich, protected, and pampered, you’re probably not a good candidate to write about growing up in the ghetto. If you’re a cowboy, you probably don’t know much about high society manners. Sure, you can understand why it’s important to write about what you know.

 

So what exactly is that? What do you know well enough to write about it? Seems like such a simple question, but when you seriously examine it things get complicated, quickly.

 

For some (even me, many days) it’s challenging to come up with anything at all that you truly know. Other days, you may mistake raw experience for knowing, thinking that since you endured something, you then know it.

 

You might know what it is to lose a job, for instance, or to become a mother, but what do you know about those things that you would write about?  There’s knowing that is simple cognizance, and then there’s knowing that is worth sharing.

 

Here’s a key point: You Do Know Something Worth Sharing. Don’t ever believe you don’t. You may, however, find the search for that Something to be interminable. Hang in there. You will find it. Your whole life may be about the search. That’s okay; there are few more noble endeavors.

 

Want a shortcut to finding out more about your unique knowing? There actually is a way to speed up the progress of your expanding awareness. It’s called journaling.

Option #2 spiral book Museful TIps

 

When you keep a journal, you take the pause that refreshes, you slow down enough to contemplate, you give yourself a chance to put the pieces together and create something new. The result? Appreciation, inspiration, and a much better idea of “what you know.”

 

Establish and wholeheartedly commit to a practice of writing regularly. Journal for self-discovery, which means

  • Hand write in your notebook. A keyboard doesn’t yield the same direct self-perception that hand writing does.
  • Do a lot of stream-of-consciousness writing.
  • Be extra stern with your inner critic: this is one place that tyrant doesn’t belong.
  • Be faithful to the process and to yourself; be willing to grow; be willing to be surprised.
  • Ask your journal questions: Where am I going? Who am I? What do I want? What do I know? What don’t I know?

 

If all the introspection makes you dizzy, use a journaling prompt now and then and enjoy the revelations that kind of writing affords. Following an impartial lead can often lead to personal treasures, just as direct soul searching does. Keep your practice fresh and on its toes by mixing these two approaches.

 

Option #3 T-shirt

#

Mari L. McCarthy, journaling therapy specialist and author, owns Create Write Now, a website dedicated to all things journaling. The site includes hundreds of journaling prompts, personal journaling stories, interviews, a blog, and many other resources. Mari has published nine books to date. For more on ways that journaling brings self-knowledge, see Who Are You? How to Use Journaling Therapy to Know and Grow Your Life.

CreateWriteNow.com
Twitter.com/CreateWriteNow
Facebook.com/JournalWritingTherapy

 

Don’t forget to Leave your comment!!

4 Comments

Filed under Believe, books, Creative Essays, Give Aways, Inspiration

Writing Backstories – Guest Post & Book Giveaway!

Writing Backstories

By Karen Wojcik Berner

Thank you so much, Mary Jo, for inviting me to guest blog today. I am very excited to be here.

You may find yourself living in a shotgun shack

And you may find yourself in another part of the world

And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile

You may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife

You may ask yourself, “Well, how did I get here?”

Talking Heads. “Once in a Lifetime.” Remain in Light. Sire Records, 1980. Vinyl.

This song pops into my head all the time. Not only were the Talking Heads one of my favorite bands back in the day, but it also helps put me into the proper writing mode to create a character’s backstory, which happens to be every time I begin writing a Bibliophiles novel.

Most series focus on the adventures of one main character. I decided to switch things up a bit. Each novel in my series spotlights one or two members of a classics book club and tells the story of their lives up to joining. The book club storyline is furthered throughout the series.

Win this Book!

For example, A Whisper to a Scream (The Bibliophiles: Book One) is about Sarah, an overwhelmed, stay-at-home mom, and Annie, a P.R. executive dealing with fertility issues. My next book, due out in spring 2012, follows Bibliophile Catherine Elbert as she bounces from coast to coast in search of her true self.

Backstories are a big part of all fiction, don’t you think?

I start with the standard journalism questions: who, what, why, where, when and how. I can’t help myself. I was a magazine editor for ten years and a newspaper freelancer before that.

Who is this person? How old? Where does he or she come from? What kind of family? House or apartment? Rural, city or suburb? What school? What does she look like? What kind of family life did he have growing up?

Relationships, or lack thereof, with siblings or parents. Goals and dreams. Clothes? Music? Cars? Drinks? Favorite food? All these things help create well-rounded characters. As you make your choices, be careful not to make your new character a stereotype. Mix in some seemingly conflicting traits to shake things up a bit.

The main question I think backstories should answer is how did this person get to this point? What are the ramifications of the past upon the present?

Also, don’t forget to include the things that just spill out while you are writing. Most of the time, these can be the best details, even though they might change your previously conceptualized notions about your character.

That’s okay. It’s your world. You can alter it however you please.

Don’t you wish life had that option? I know I do.

About the Author:

Karen Wojcik Berner lives a provincial life tucked away with her family in
the Chicago suburbs. If it was good enough for Jane Austen, right?
However, dear Miss Austen had the good fortune of being born amid the
glorious English countryside, something Karen unabashedly covets, so much
so that she majored in English and communications at Dominican University.

Like the magnificent Miss Austen, Karen could not help but write about the

Society that surrounds her.

A booklover since she could hold one in her chubby little toddler hands, Karen

wanted to announce to the world just how much she loves the written word.

She considered getting a bibliophile tattoo but instead decided to write about

the lives of the members of a suburban Classics Book Club. The series is called,

of course, The Bibliophiles.”) When she isn’t reading, writing, or spending her
time wishing she was Jane Austen, Karen spends her time can be found sipping

tea or wine, whichever is more appropriate that day, and watching Tim Burton

movies or “Chopped,” her favorite foodie TV show.

Just Thought You Should Know:   A Whisper to a Scream is Book One of a series called The Bibliophiles. The second book in the series will be released in February 2012. Stay tuned!

Author’s Websites:                                                  
Karen Berner’s website:  http://www.karenberner.com/index.html

Leave a comment or a question and Random.org may select You as a winner!

3 Comments

Filed under Advice, books, Fiction, Give Aways, writers

Holiday Gift Ideas for Young Writers!

Since I published a post on Gifts for Writers, I realized there is a whole other group out there with wish lists of their own…

How about a Holiday Wish List for the young writers in our lives?

Summer Studio, Aug. 2011 {Hobo Day}

As a Creative Writing Teacher to young adults (and a mom to 2 young writers), I can recommend a few ideas: (Scroll down for a fun, FREE offer, too!)

Notebooks!

Of course, to write on. Duh! Some cool but inexpensive ones: Go to a craft store, like Michaels and search their clearance and $1 bins for hard bound spirals

Books!

To teach and inspire them. Some I love:

How Writers Work, Ralph Fletcher “This book will show you how writers work, how you can become a writer, and how you can find a process that works for you.”

A Writer’s Notebook: Unlocking the Writer within You, Ralph Fletcher “Other people have daily thoughts and feelings, notice this sky or that smell, but they don’t do much about it. Not writers. Writers react. And writers need a place to record those reactions. That’s what a writer’s notebook is for. It gives you a place to write down what makes you angry or sad or amazed, to write down what you noticed and don’t want to forget . . . .”

Live Writing: Breathing Life into Your Words, Ralph Fletcher “Instead of awls and hammers, a writer’s toolbox contains words, imagination, a love of books, a sense of story, and ideas for how to make the writing live and breathe. I wrote this book to give you some practical strategies to throw into your toolbox. I hope you’ll try them, because these are ideas that can make you a better writer.”

Unjournaling: Daily Writing Exercises that Are NOT Personal, NOT Introspective, NOT Boring! by Dawn DiPrince, Cheryl Miller These contain some hilarious prompts to get your young writer’s pen moving and their mind churning!

Writing Magic: creating stories that fly, “Gail Carson Levine shows how you, too, can get terrific ideas for stories, invent great beginnings and endings, write sparkling dialogue, develop memorable characters—and much, much more. She advises you about what to do when you feel stuck—and how to use helpful criticism. Best of all, she offers writing exercises that will set your imagination on fire.”

Games!

Rory’s Story Cubes: “Rory’s Story Cubes contains nine cubes with 54 images. Just roll the cubes and come up with a story that links together all nine face-up images.”

The Writer’s Toolbox, Jamie Cat CallanThe Writers Toolbox includes lots of fun writing games–sentence sticks, cards, spiny dials and comes in this nifty box.”

Your time & creative planning:

Young Writers will gain much from meeting a real, live author during a book signing, listening to a reading or, just hanging out with you and sharing stories, written or told. To find Author visits and Readings, look to your library and local bookstores. Also, check out the Events Page of your child’s favorite authors to see if they’re coming to your area soon.

A group of other young writers!

Hmm, where, oh where would you find this? Not on Amazon or eBay. Unfortunately, you may have a difficult time finding a young writers’ workshop or even a book club for kids. Again, I’d recommend starting with your library and local bookstores. Or better, start one yourself! No idea where to begin? I can help! Subscribe to my email list and I’ll send you my Top 10 Ways to Start a Writing Revolution Checklist, for FREE! Now, that’s in the Holiday Spirit!

3 Comments

Filed under Advice, books, teaching, writers, Young Adults