Archive for March, 2012

Are you stuck in your fiction?

March 26, 2012

Do you often stop in the middle of a short story or novel and say, “Now what?”   It might be because you don’t know your character well enough.

Put away your story and just wonder about your characterDaydream about her/him.

What is her biggest desire?  Her magnificent obsession?  What is a secret she carries inside that she doesn’t want anyone to find out?  What is stashed away in the depths of her closet?  What does her bedroom look like?  What is hanging on her walls?  What does she eat?  How does she eat?  Pick at her food?  Wolf it down?  What is her earliest memory?  The funniest thing that has ever happened to her?  The scariest?  Something that will happen to her in the future?  How does she react if she witnesses a theft?  How is she different from you?  How is she similar?  How is she quirky?

Write scenes about these questions.  They may never appear in your story, but you must know your character backwards and forwards so that you’ll know how she’ll react to situations within your plot. 

Next, play the what if game.   What if your character . . . gets in a car accident.  What if she sees an animal hurt by the side of the road . . . what if . . .

You get the idea.  And place her next to your other minor characters.  Ask the above questions about these guys too.  Know them all so well they seem like your friends that you carry around with you in your head. 

When you think of your main character more than you think of your regular daily life, then you may be ready to get back to throwing her inside your story.  And away you go . . .

Writing Prompt About Nature/Animals

March 26, 2012

Let your visual and auditory senses inspire writing.

Watch what happens when a young man saves the life of a hummingbird.  Describe their relationship in a poem or short story.

Short Fiction/Memoir Contest

March 20, 2012

WRITER ADVICE – 7th Annual Flash Prose Contest.  Short Fiction/Memoir, 750 words max. First Prize: $200, Deadline: April 18.  Guidelines:  Questions:

Why YOU Should Enter Writing Contests!

March 16, 2012

Why not?  What do you have to lose?  ALL writing is a risk.  Placing words on paper is a scary.  Writing those words from you soul into the atmosphere is brave, but actually printing them out and placing them into the mail for a contest is even MORE honorable and courageous. 

Have you ever entered a contest before?  Submit any creation for publication?  If you have, pat yourself on the back. Stand up proudly.  Take a deep breath and do it all over again.  Each time it gets easier to mail those entries off. 

Think of it as hope in the mail.  Or hope is at the click of your mouse, if you’re submitting through the Internet. 

Why do I speak of contests now?  Because once again it’s that time of year when our Mt. Diablo Branch of our California Writers Club’s April 1st deadline approaches for our Young Writers Contest.  Any middle school student who lives in or attends school in Contra Costa County may enter.  Just follow the guidelines and enter as many times as you like . . . in as many categories. 

Where are the guidelines?  You’ll discover them at the right-hand side of this blog as well as on this website:

I’m having a good time going through them now.   The good news is that most everyone is following the guidelines.  Remember to put your name and grade level on EACH PAGE of your manuscript please.  Thank you! 

If you have any questions, ask them here.   As soon as the contest deadline closes, I pass the entries out to the judges and the judging begins. It takes us a few weeks, so don’t worry.  We WILL read all of them several times. 

Next, the judges notify me who wins, and I call the winners.  Then I post their names here.  Honorable mentions get mailed at a later date, once the banquet concludes.  (The banquet this year is on May 19.) 

So get busy!  Write your best poems, short stories, and personal narratives.  Follow the guidelines very closely.  (They changed a bit from last year so read carefully.)     Most of all, have fun!

Free Teen Writing Group – Lafayette Library, California

March 9, 2012

Writing can be a solitary pursuit… but it doesn’t have to be! Want to meet other enthusiastic teen writers? Come to a teen writing group at the Lafayette Library! We’ll chat, share ideas and experiences about our writing, and — of course — write alongside each other with prompts. We aim to create a fun, welcoming teen community of writers that encourages and supports its members. 

This is an open and free group (8th-12th grade preferred). Just bring paper, your favorite writing tool, and enthusiasm! 🙂 

Saturday, March 17
1:30-3:00 PM
At the back tables behind the Children’s Section 

Lafayette Library 
3491 Mount Diablo Boulevard
Lafayette, CA 94549

For more information, email We hope you can join us!

You in the Universe

March 9, 2012

Clink on the link below.  Move the scroll bar to the right, and the universe gets larger.  Move it left; the universe gets smaller.   Not only is this cool, it’s mind-boggling!
Writing Prompts:
1.  How does this site help you see your world differently?

Use the expansive universe to motivate a poem.   After you write your poem, use the poetry tip page at right to help you in your revision. 
2.  Choose one object from this site and write about it.  You may choose any genre you like.  Poetry, essay, short story, rap . . .
3.  Write an essay from your prospective in the universe.  How we relate to each other, how size matters, or how change has evolved over time are some possible themes.

Writing Advice from the Best: Authors and Editors

March 7, 2012

I attended the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Golden Gate Conference at Pacific Grove’s Asilomar this past weekend where I soaked up the sun, strolled on the beach, and became infused with creativity when speakers and attendees focused on their inner genius, the theme of the weekend. 

Although I can’t possibly portray the inspiration I acquired, I can share a few tips of some of the fabulous faculty. 

Young adult author Charlie Price (Desert Angel, Dead Connection) didn’t start writing seriously until he was 58.  He says, “Relax.  Release.  Let go.” 

The creativity panel told us to watch the movies of the genre we’re researching and writing to help vitalize our visual senses.

Author illustrator Dan Yaccarino (Go, Go, America, Lawn to Lawn) advises us to do what he did:  say yes, ask a lot of questions, and listen. 

Editor/author Arthur Levine, (Monday is One Day, All the Lights in the Night) most recognized for co-editing the Harry Potter series, reassured us that children’s books do not have a bleak future and this period is merely a transitional phase. 

He also asks the question, “Really?”  “Did that character really look like that?  She really say that?  Really feel that way?”   Don’t stop questioning yourself if it feels automatic.

What type of book is he looking for?  Visit his website and discover what is on his bookshelf already.  That’s how you buy a gift for someone, by checking out their bookshelves, isn’t it?  This is a very valuable suggestion as to what any editor desires.  

Philomel editor Tamara Tuller, who is most interested in modern, literary middle grade and young adult fiction and story-based picture books, recommends “Write like you’re drunk and edit like you’re sober.” 

Write with abandon!  Get to it!