Archive for August, 2009

A for Action!

August 31, 2009

Does your writing put you to sleep? Do you need action in a scene? How CAN you create action?

1. Use action verbs. Cut out the passive ones, the “ed” endings and make it happen NOW!

2. Keep your pacing fast by using short sentences.

3. Remember specific sensory description. Make the readers feel they are IN the scene. (But cut any unnecessary words.)

4. Dialogue – Get your characters talking if they have something meaningful to say.

However, even with action, you can’t have the break-neck speed go on too long. You will need to slow down the moment. How do you do THAT?

1. Character THINKS. Internalizes. FEELS.

Remember to read the scenes you write out loud. This will help you with your action scenes and slowing-down-the-moment.

Exercise: In the project you are working on now, write an action scene followed by a reflective slow-down-the-moment scene.

Keep Reading Rainbow on the Air!

August 28, 2009

How to get a book published and marketed – Sept. 17 Event

August 28, 2009

The Ygnacio Public Library, in Walnut Creek, California
invites you to . . .

A presentation by Mary Pols
Writing the Book was the Easy Part!
September 17, 2009, 6:30 pm

If you have ever thought about getting a book published and marketed, join us for an entertaining and informative evening with Mary Pols, author of Accidentally On Purpose.

Mary is a former film critic for the Contra Costa Times who now writes reviews for Time Magazine. She will discuss how she got her memoir published, marketed, and ultimately optioned as a TV sitcom, using the latest in media trends.

Free! Sounds like a fun “behind the scenes” event for writers and people who love to read.

Ygnacio Valley Library
2661 Oak Grove Road
Walnut Creek, California 94598

Join me in a trip to Mars!

August 25, 2009

Please check out the Jet Propulsion Laboratory site for the Mars Mission at

Writing exercise: Now write about your trip, of course!

New Contest for Kids – Win a Trip to New York City and a Cruise!

August 24, 2009

In The Virtual Book of Dreams Contest for kids ages 7 – 12, the winner will be named Godchild of the Carnival WaterWorks water slide aboard the Carnival Dream Cruise and head to New York City in November 2009 to help chirsten a new Carnival Cruise ship. The winning family will also receive a two-night cruise. Other finalists will receive prizes such as digital cameras. Carnival Cruise Lines will donate money to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for each entry received.

Kids must complete the thought “I’m always dreaming up fun stuff. Wouldn’t it be awesome if…” in 250 words or less.

From August 18, 2009 until September 18, 2009, parents or legal guardians of children between the ages of 7 to 12 can submit their child’s written dream entry and corresponding hand-drawn illustration online at

Dream submissions will be judged upon creativity and originality of the dream, expression and emotional content. In late September 2009, Carnival will announce four finalists chosen by a panel of judges, in addition to one Wild Card finalist who will be selected via public online voting at Each of the finalists will be featured in a final round of public online voting that will run through the beginning of October.

Your Deep, Inner Wish . . .

August 21, 2009

In the July/August issue of Unity Magazine, there was an experience where a teacher’s aide in the Arizona prison system gave an essay topic for students to prepare for their GED. Their recent topic was “If you could have one wish, what would it be?”

You might think the prisoners would write about wishing to get out of prison. No.
One had a two-year-old daughter who is with foster parents, and he said his wish was to hear his daughter on the phone. The aide told him she wouldn’t be able to say much at age two. The prisoner replied, “I just want to hear the sound of her voice.”

What is your wish? Not a “million dollars” or “go to Europe trip” wish. What is your deeper wish and why? It can be simple or more complex. It can be a paragraph or longer. But speak from your heart.

Care to share it with someone?

Special thanks to the writer of the article, and aide of that prison, Charles “Tom” Brown.

National Contest for Middle & High School Students!

August 21, 2009

In honor of National Inventors Month in August, Inventors Digest Magazine and partners are sponsoring the 2059 Essay Contest for middle school and high school students.

Your assignment: What will the world look like in 2059?

In 1959, the internal pacemaker, the microchip, the Barbie doll and pantyhose were invented. Each was significant in its own right. But that was so 50 years ago.

Show us in 500 words or less what technology, tool, product or service will shape our lives in 2059 and why. The Grand Prize includes:

-A laptop computer

-Your essay published in Inventors Digest

-A year’s subscription to the magazine

-Possible appearance on the Emmy Award-winning PBS series Everyday Edisons

-A killer T-shirt

-Brain-teaser games

Eligibility: All middle school and high school students ages 12-17 in the United States. Grand prizes will be awarded for best middle school and high school entries. North Carolina and South Carolina entrants also are eligible for the regional Grand Prize, an iPod, courtesy of

Entry rules: Download official entry and all permission forms. All essays must be original work of the student. Only 1 (ONE) entry per student. Submit essays and forms to Inventors Digest, with Essay Contest in the subject line or mail to Inventors Digest, Essay Contest, 520 Elliot St., Ste. 200, Charlotte, NC 28202 or fax to 704.333.5115. Include your birth date, school, address and phone number.

Criteria: Entries will be judged on clarity and vision of how we will use new technology or products in the year 2059. Winning essays will demonstrate imagination rooted in science and engineering principles. In other words, the best essays will show what’s possible as well as practical.

Deadlines: Submit essays Aug. 1-31, 2009. All entries must be postmarked by Aug. 31, 2009.

Winners will be notified on or by Sept. 28, 2009.

For entry forms visit

Play the Universe Game

August 19, 2009

Play the universe game.

Close your eyes. Point to a book on any shelf you have. Open your eyes. Open the book to a random page. Read a random paragraph. How does this apply to your life? To your creative project?

Writing Exercise: Do it all over again. Use this paragraph as a sentence in a story! Can you do it?

Yesterday’s message to me was from a book by Patricia Garfield called Creative Dreaming: The old man presses a root into Footprints’ fist. “Keep this for twenty-one moons,” he says.

New ideas that grow shouldn’t be released too soon.

However, today’s message wasn’t quite so elegant. I pointed to a book by Martha Barnette titled Ladyfingers & Nun’s Tummies: A Lighthearted Look at How Foods got their Names.

My message? . . . in early English literature, such as the seventeenth century text entitled Love’s Cure, which includes the unintentionally memorable line “Your lashed shoulders (covered) with velvet pee.”

I don’t want to begin moralizing that statement.

Poetry Contest for Students Ages 5 – 19

August 18, 2009

Dreams and Writing

August 17, 2009

Dreams are a portal into our deeper selves. Do you ever notice that some of your best ideas come to you when you are most relaxed? When you are daydreaming, or in that half-awake or awakening part of the morning? This is the most fertile time of our imaginations. How can we use this time and our dreams to fuel our creativity and our writing?

1. Keep pen and paper next to your bed. When great ideas strike at odd times in the middle of the night, you THINK you will remember them, but you probably won’t. Write them down.
2. Keep a dream journal. Highlight concrete nouns and active verbs. At the end of the dream, write how you felt. Writing your feelings will help you figure out your dreams. For instance, if you lost your car or purse in your dream, those items might not be a literal car and purse to you. But they could be your dream symbols and mean something special to you. In my dreams, they mean losing a bit of myself.
Then I ask myself, what in life now am I doing that makes me feel lost? How can I find control again?
For me, it may mean I need to work on fewer writing projects, or saying “no” to a busy schedule.
If you don’t know what your dream symbols mean, you may come to discover what they mean the more you dream.
3. Before you go to sleep at night, write down a dream intention. “Tonight I will find dream about what my character needs to do in the story I am writing and I will remember it.”
Dream intentions take practice. Sometimes the intention must be repeated again and again. (For me, it can take up to three nights of “good sleep” to get an answer.) If you are a beginning dreamer, don’t despair if this technique is confusing at first. It will work the longer you journal your dreams.
4. Join a dream group or have a dream partner so that you can share your dreams together.
5. Read about dreams.
A good basic book about dreams is The Dream Book by Betty Bethards. My favorite dream books are Conscious Dreaming and The Three Only Things both by Robert Moss. My favorite book on dream symbols is The Encyclopedia of Symbolism by Kevin J. Todeschi which might not be in print any more, but probably can be purchased used on Amazon.