Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Do you use a character chart for writing children's books? How do you construct your characters?
Monday, May 28, 2012
The Boy Project by Kami Kinard
Love, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
The Hunchback Assignments by Arthur Slade
What are you reading? Do you have any recommendations for me?
Friday, May 25, 2012
Subway Car Is a Writers’ Workshop on the Way to Queens and Back
Local editor and creative writing instructor Brian Henry sometimes holds writing workshops at The World's Biggest Bookstore in Toronto, but I haven't been to one there yet.
This makes me think about places where I've worked on my writing projects:
- in my writing room at the computer
- on the living room sofa while watching mindless television
- at the side of the pool waiting/watching kids swimming
- in the backyard or on the front porch
- in waiting rooms
- in a car (as a passenger)
- up in a big tree (when I was a preteen)
- sitting on a dock
- at an outlet mall
- at a rowing regatta
- in a library
- in a hotel at Whistler
Where's the craziest location you've ever attending a writing workshop or done any writing?
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Tips for creating convincing villains:
Villains in MG books often have more humourous or even ridiculous characteristics, in keeping with the tone of the novel, of course.
How do you make your bad guys convincing to the reader? What villains stand out to you as unique?
Monday, May 21, 2012
In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king's long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner's motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword's point - he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage's rivals have their own agendas as well.
As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Conner's sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of treachery and deceit unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that, in the end, may very well prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken together.
An extraordinary adventure filled with danger and action, lies and deadly truths that will have readers clinging to the edge of their seats.
Scholastic Entertainment has optioned movie rights to The False Prince and other books in the Ascendency trilogy.
Sunday, May 20, 2012
As part of the Forest of Reading initiative sponsored by the Ontario Library Association, students from across Canada voted in April for their favourite from these nominated books:
Better Than Weird by Anna Kerz
Ghosts of the Titanic by Julie Lawson
Milo: Sticky Notes and Brain Freeze by Alan Silberberg
Neil Flambé and the Aztec Abduction by Kevin Sylvester
That Boy Red by Rachna Gilmore
Undergrounders by David Skuy
This year's winner in the Silver Birch Fiction category was:
Undergrounders by David Skuy
I'd never read all of the nominated Silver Birch novels before, so I found it a lot of fun. I ended up reading some books I might not have chosen if I'd been scanning the shelves in the library. This one was a compelling story, so I'm not surprised it was so popular with students.
Friday, May 18, 2012
Monday, May 14, 2012
A smile. An encouraging word. A thoughtful gesture. Each day people interact with us, help, and make our day a bit brighter and full. This is especially true in the Writing Community.
Take a second to think about writers you know, like the critique partner who works with you to improve your manuscript. The writing friend who listens, supports and keeps you strong when times are tough. The author who generously offers council, advice and inspiration when asked.
So many people take the time to make us feel special, don't they? They comment on our blogs, re-tweet our posts, chat with us on forums and wish us Happy Birthday on Facebook.
To commemorate the release of their book The Emotion Thesaurus, Becca and Angela at The Bookshelf Muse are hosting a TITANIC Random Act Of Kindness BLITZ. And because I think KINDNESS is contagious, I'm participating too!
I am picking Marcia Hoehne, who has been one of the followers of my blog from the very beginning. On her own blog, she has thoughtful posts about writing, book reviews and she even holds contests for free critiques! Just so you know, her critiques are excellent. Marcia, for my RAOK gift, I'm sending you an Amazon gift card!
I really appreciate Marcia, who blogs at Marcia Hoehne (http://marciahoehne.blogspot.com). If you have a minute, please stop in and tell her how awesome she is!
Do you know someone special that you'd like to randomly acknowledge? Don't be shy--come join us and celebrate! Send them an email, give them a shout out, or show your appreciation in another way. Kindness makes the world go round. :)
Becca and Angela have a special RAOK gift waiting for you as well, so hop on over to The Bookshelf Muse to pick it up.
Have you ever participated in or been the recipient of a Random Act Of Kindness? Let me know in the comments!
Friday, May 11, 2012
Now that I've made it to Novel #4, I'm finally starting to get a kind of system for plotting. I've always tried to make some kind of outline or summary first. I think it works for me. But it occurs to me that I've never really tried the other approach - the "fly by the seat of your pants" approach.
I have to confess, the whole idea of trying to sustain a story without any kind of outline scares me a little. But I also wonder if I can do it. Then I realized I kind of already am.
As a "warm up" to get myself in a writing mood, I started with just writing whatever comes into my head. But it's turning out to be another story. I have no plot chart, no character chart, no nothing except whatever pops into my head at the moment. And the ideas I record in my notebook as they bubble up at odd moments. I have no idea if it will develop into another novel, but I'm having a lot of fun with it.
Do you outline or not? Have you ever taken a serious stab at using the other approach?
Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Jane Friedman, It's Okay to Leave Stuff Out. In Fact, It's Better, May 8, 2012
This is a great reminder for me right now, because I'm struggling over how much of my main character's inner thoughts to include as I work on Novel #3. I find myself writing a whole lot of stuff and then going back and cutting most of it out.
What I'm really doing is working out my thoughts on the pages of my novel, not telling the story. Maybe I can't tell the story until I work out my thoughts, but I definitely don't need all that uncertainty spilled out on the page to bore my readers.
I've always thought that it's important to leave stuff out. If everything was on the page, what fun would there be in reading? Part of the fun of reading for me is trying to puzzle out what's going to happen in the story and how the character will solve the problem. The trick is in knowing how much to leave out!
Monday, May 7, 2012
Instead, Ivan thinks about TV shows he's seen and about his friends Stella, an elderly elephant, and Bob, a stray dog. But mostly Ivan thinks about art and how to capture the taste of a mango or the sound of leaves with color and a well-placed line.
Then he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from her family, and she makes Ivan see their home—and his own art—through new eyes. When Ruby arrives, change comes with her, and it's up to Ivan to make it a change for the better.
This novel explores some of the same issues as Half Brother by Kenneth Oppel, but in a different way.
Home of the Brave - MG
Beach Blondes (Summer series) - YA
Friday, May 4, 2012
1) Numbness and shock - "Really? I can't believe that chapter was so bad."
2) Denial - "But I need these scenes to set up the conclusion. They just don't get it!"
3) Depression - "Sometimes it seems like I'm never going to get it right."
4) Working through it - "What if...? Maybe... I could try..."
5) Acceptance - "They were right. The old chapter didn't move the story forward."
Even though at first it stung a little, after giving their critiques time to settle, I realized they were right. [It's always a big tip off when more than one person says essentially the same thing.] After some brainstorming, I ended up with a new and much improved chapter. And lots of enthusiasm to continue working on the rest of the novel.
Yay for critique partners!
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Up today is Debbie Ridpath Ohi's agent Ginger Knowlton, of Curtis Brown Ltd.
Although I try to spend most of my writing time actually writing (ha - we all know how easy it is to get sidetracked), I love reading blogs that give me tips on writing techniques or inspiration.
I recently discovered the e-newsletter from Nelson Literary Agency -- you can sign up for it at Kristin Nelson's blog Pub Rants (also a good source of info for writers).
In this month's issue, agent Sara Megibow describes middle grade: "fiction aimed at the 10- to 14-year-old reader and runs in the 30,000 to 60,000 word count." She also tells us that agents are looking for all types of middle grade. That's encouraging!
Do you know of any other great agent blogs to follow?