Google Play: http://bit.ly/1KqQlu4
Happy Friday that is definitely not a Wednesday! Is everyone having a good summer so far? I am really, really proud to say I have yet to contract poison ivy, which I’ve done the last few years, and when I say “done,” I mean DONE REALLY WELL. Like, I don’t want to brag, but I kind of take the whole poison ivy thing to new heights of itchy achievements. But enough about my personal accomplishments. Today kicks off a new blog segment that I’d like to call Writerly Wednesday.
Writerly Wednesday will be the semi-occasional Wednesday of some tips for my fellow writers, especially those new folks. Today’s tip is…DO YOUR HOMEWORK.
In the last year I’ve talked to a handful of new writers who are into writing, into getting those books out, but not into studying the craft. And you gotta. Show me a writer who hasn’t read a craft book in a few years, goes to a conference and attends zero classes, or doesn’t read for analysis, and I can show you a writer who has a really great chance of not going the distance. I love the story someone told me years ago how a fairly new writer went to an introductory plotting class at a conference. She was kind of feeling like it was a waste of her time when she looked over and saw a well-known author taking copious notes. It was Francine Rivers.
I am the queen of buying writing books. Admittedly, I don’t read them all. And some I’ve read only to think, “I have no idea what that guy just said.” Someone once told me if she can get one good idea from a writing craft book, then it was worth it. I tend to agree. Here are some of my newest favorite craft reads:
1. Super Structure by James Scott Bell.
You know what I really like about books on writing in the last year or so? They’re super short. Which is great–because so is my attention span. Mr. Bell has made this book short and sweet, with no filler. He just gets down to business. It’s a great book on structuring a novel and revisits his idea of the Mirror Moment, something he also write a book about. I liked this one so much I bought the paperback because I knew I’d want to mark it up and flip through it often. I’ve even gifted it. (P.S. The digital version of this book is super cheap!)
2. Take Your Pants Off: Outlining Your Books for Faster, Better Writing by Libbie Hawker
I was a little disappointed to order a book called Take Your Pants Off and realize it was not the pictorial memoir of Chris Hemswoth. Instead, this is a book about plotting and outlining. I’m not an Outliner. If the Outliners evangelized door to door like a Jehovah’s Witness, I would not only let them into my living room, I would absolutely read their literature and convert, thank you and amen. I’m a Seat-of-the-Pants Writer (thus, the title, sadly). I would give my next box of cereal to be a plotter, so I buy lots of plotting books thinking “THIS will be the one that will help me!” Plotters typically write faster than I do. Plotters typically don’t toss out hundreds of pages like I do. Plotters typically don’t want to drink as heavily as I do. (Sonic lemon water, extra ice) (P.S., the digital version of this book is ALSO super cheap!)
3. Save the Cat by Blake Snyder
This is an oldie, but a goodie. Mr. Snyder is no longer with us, God bless his legacy, but he wrote a fabulous, easy-to-read book about movie structure. He breaks down the events that are in every great movie, and you see how it’s incredibly relevant to books as well. I think of his book and advice often. If you get nothing else out of his book other than employing his “save the cat” moment, you’ll be doing well.
4. Story Engineering by Larry Brooks
I’m late the Story Engineering party (I was too busy writing and making bonfires of my wasted chapters), but I finally bought this book as a summer read. Many writers refer to his advice, and many folks who teach writing or write books on writing use Larry Brooks methods. I’ve yet to even start it, but I mention it because I think we writers should always have “that next thing” we’re reading or intend to study to become better at what we do. If writing is what you’re passionate about, be a student of it.
There are lots more great writing books out there. These are just a handful that have my attention lately.
What about you? What’s a favorite writing craft book? Favorite blog? What are you reading now?
Oh, and by the way, if you do find that Chris Hemsworth memoir…let me know.
Hey, guys! I’m excited about a few things. First, today was our students last day. We teachers are never quite sure we’ll make it ’til the end. It’s always a sweet blessing to still be alive and conscious at the bitter end. And of course, I’m excited about a fun New Adult book coming your way June 10th.
Just One Summer is a novella collection written by four authors, about four young women. It was a lot of fun to write (maybe not nacho-eating fun, but in the creative sense), and really cool to work with friends.
Four college girls, best friends since childhood, have found one constant in their ever-changing lives–summer. Every June the girls have chosen a destination to reconnection. Only this summer is different. Now each one must face life’s challenges on her own, overcome fear and failure, and learn the beauty of falling in love for the first time.
You’ll love the novellas from authors Amy Matayo, Nicole Deese, and Tammy L. Gray. And then there’s mine! And I wrote about a hot cowboy! Does it get any more summer than that? (Okay, yes, if hot cowboy was in a pool. With sweet tea. And Coppertone. And ice cream. But that’s a story for another time.)
Here’s a little peek into my story, Wild Heart Summer:
Twenty-one year old Avery Crawford has had to fight for everything in her life, and this summer is no exception. When her culinary internship in a chic restaurant falls through at the last minute, she gets an unexpected offer to work on a dude ranch in the quaint town of Sugar Creek. The problem? The ranch is owned by the grandfather she’s been kept from all her life.
Avery is completely out of her element with the cattle drives, trail rides, and most of all–cute ranch manager Owen Jackson. Not in the market for romance, Avery still finds herself tempted by the cowboy’s Southern charm and sweet kisses. But as secrets unravel on the ranch, Avery will have to let go of the old wounds if she wants to hold onto the love Owen offers her. When the summer’s over, Avery must risk it all–or lose much more than her heart.
The novella collection also includes…
ISLAND SUMMER by Nicole Deese:
Joss Sanders needs an escape, a reminder of a sweeter, simpler, and steadier time. Only her family’s cabin isn’t exactly how she remembered it as a child, and neither is the charming boy who lives next door. Change is everywhere. If Joss doesn’t stop living in the past, she just might miss the promise of her future.
WAVES OF SUMMER by: Tammy L. Gray:
Sydney Andrews wants nothing more than to get away from a controlling ex-boyfriend, find some clarity, and enjoy a drama-free vacation. But nothing in Sydney’s life is ever that easy. Especially when the sexy bartender she meets at her mother’s wedding wants more than just her friendship. He wants the girl Sydney’s forgotten how to be.
DARBY’S STORY by Amy Matayo:
Darby Sparks has lived a very sheltered life as a homeschool graduate, a small town resident, and the only child of two overprotective parents. But she’s had enough. She wants to see the world and chase her dreams, so that’s just what she does–until she runs out of money. With limited options, Darby finds herself working for Lennon Dixon, owner of a downtown Los Angeles tattoo parlor. To call the job unfamiliar is the world’s biggest understatement. And to call her attraction to Lennon unexpected is a very close second.
WE’RE all very excited about this book. I love, love, love summer, and I’ll take a beach read any season of the year. This book allowed me to go back to my new fictional town of Sugar Creek and write my first cowboy. I kind of had a cowboy crush when the book was done. (insert yeehaws here.) You can pre-order Just One Summer now on most e-retailers, including Amazon. My Facebook friends got to read chapter one of Wild Heart Summer, and my newsletter subscribers got to read the first three. I’m sharing chapters all over the place. I hope you’re not missing out!
Have a great first week of June!
Need some last-minute gift ideas? Have some folks on your list who are hard to buy for? Here are a few book suggestions.
1. Underwater Dogs, a coffee table book. I gift this quite a bit. It just makes people HAPPY to look at these pics of some very motivated dogs swimming underwater. If they already have it, my pick this year is Harlow and Sage: A True Story About Best Friends. (2 dogs made famous by their Instagram.) Need more words than pics? Dogtripping by David Rosenfelt is a wonderful memoir of an author who went to crazy lengths to save some dogs.
2. Bomb: The Race to Build and Steal the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon. Nonfiction, but reads like a Clancy novel. Espionage, intrigue, and plot twists galore. Fascinating (quick) read, especially for your history enthusiasts.
3. Girls who read on a middle school level? This year I LOVED Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd and The Meaning of Maggie. Both so well written, both quirky and fun with lots of heart and “aw” moments. Both books receiving a ton of buzz.
4. Boy readers? My jr. high guys love anything by John Flanagan (Ranger’s Apprentice), the new Diary of a Wimpy Kid, all things Percy Jackson, and The Last Apprentice series.
5. Another middle grade/elementary suggestion: The Warriors series by Erin Hunter. The covers kind of make me laugh, but I can’t keep them on my shelves.
6. For fun: Nail Candy: 50 Ideas for Totally Cool Nails.
7. The chefs in your family might like the NomNom Paleo cookbook. Sometimes healthy food is difficult to prepare or gross. This collection of recipes are really great and very normal. This is my favorite cookbook right now.
8. Know someone who likes to bake? Popular books in my library are: The Big Book of Cupcakes, The Big Book of Cookies, and Cakepops by Bakerella.
8. Picture book readers: Tuesday Tucks Me In and The Day the Crayons Quit. LOVE LOVE LOVE these books.
Hey, guys! Long time, no talk. Or write. Or book publish.
I’m very excited to tell you that Katie Parker’s story is finally here. Mostly here. Here in a lot of places.
What is Can’t Let You Go about? I’m so glad you asked.
An old love whose kisses make her weak, but whose secrets threaten to destroy all she holds dear…
Fresh out of college, Katie Parker had it all—a charming romance, a role in a famous stage production, and an idyllic life in London. Until she found her boyfriend cheating and got herself fired from the play. Leaving everything behind, Katie hops a plane home, only to run into her first love, Charlie Benson. As the couple returns to In Between, Katie questions everything she ever thought she wanted—including a renewed romance with her high school flame.
While she attempts to rebuild her life, Katie’s plan to manage the family’s theater meets a devastating obstacle, dragging her into a legal battle that will rock her small town. And the boy who once broke her heart seems to have the power to do it again. As Charlie’s secrets unravel, Katie must make a choice. Can she overcome her past and trust Charlie with her heart again?
It was a lot of fun to return to In Between and write these characters. I have missed Mad Maxine. If I could stick her in every book, I would. I’m excited about the book and very proud of the cover, created by Kelli Standish. For those of you who helped us make cover decisions on Facebook, thank you! (For those of you who don’t hang out with us on FB, where ARE YOU?)
It was also a lot of fun to write this age, something I’ve never done before. Though I’m not sure why, since I was only 23 a few years ago myself. *coughs*
I’ll talk more about the book later. I don’t want to be one of THOSE people who won’t shut up about it, won’t stop making you look at photos of cute things the book is doing, the book playing with the cats…
I appreciate all of you. I have the best readers ever.
Have a great week!
I’m spending two days at a conference for librarians. It’s interesting people watching. Any conference is.
There is a vendor fair here, and a company is selling tshirts. One of the shirts was for the librarian with a house full of cats. I did not see one shirt for the librarian who loves puppies or guinea pigs.
Is there anything more exhausting than sitting? Even when I’m interested in the material, my tush is totally bored.
Today I learned about every app and website known to man. I need an app to process all the information I took in.
What are your pet peeves at conferences or classes?
Here are my suggestions:
1. If turning down the air conditioning to -42 is the hotels way of combating global warming, I think the polar bears will forgive us if we raise the thermostat just a skootch.
2. If you’re the presenter and you speak in a monotone, you will not survive without bringing your class chocolate. The good kind. A good speaker could get away with cheap candy. You cannot. If you doubt me, check out the presenter feedback survey I turned in. Mine was the one with skulls and crossbones all over it.
3. Don’t schedule a conference in a hotel without Starbucks. I don’t even drink coffee, and I felt slighted.
4. When you say, “To be more environmentally friendly, I didn’t print out handouts,” I hear: “I’m cheap; take your own dang notes.”
5. Your sign-in sheets hurt my feelings. It’s like you don’t trust me to actually go to the class and stay. Maybe I was in the bathroom the whole 2 hours I was unaccounted for.
6. I don’t need to know where emergency exits are. I need to know where vending machines are.
7. Conference food. One time I dropped a burrito on the floor of a movie theater and ate it. The fact that I wouldn’t touch today’s lunch says something.
Care to add anything? What drives you nuts in a class or conference or even church?