Friday, February 26, 2010

More On Characters

Three more days until my interview with YA author/agent Mandy Hubbard. It all happens Monday March 1st. There will be a chance to win a copy of Mandy's book, Prada and Prejudice. But ya havta be a follower. Hope to see you here. =)
In his book, Revision & Self-Editing, Mr. Bell reminds us that minor characters and opposition characters give us "delicious plot possibilities." Minor characters add spice, that extra spark that distinguishes the absolute best fiction. Put effort into them. They're important.

"Supporting characters should serve one of two purposes in a story. They either help or hinder the main character. They are allies or irritants." If they aren't helping or hindering, they are just taking up space.

He talks about one of my personal favorite books, David Copperfield. David's beloved nanny Peggotty, is an ally. She reappears at various times offering David much needed support.
Contrast that with Miss Murdstone, the vicious sister of David's stepfather. Miss Murdstone (don't you love that name?) is an irritant. She stands in the way of David's happiness.

Mr. Bell says, "neither character is wasted. Each functions to illuminate a different side of David's character. When you conceive  a minor character this way, you open up wonderful plot opportunities."

He brings to our minds the fact that even the most chilling villian should  evoke pity and sometimes even genuine sympathy as well as terror. Remember the pitiful Frankenstein monster?

Mr. Bell gives us some deepening questions to ask our villains.
What are you good at?
What admirable qualities do you possess?
What do other characters think of you?
Why might  people be drawn to you, or at least be fascinated by you?

Awesome stuff, isn't it? (^_^)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Our friend is blogging again

Ann Victor is back blogging again. Click over and have some tea? with her. I'll take coffee. She is now using her real name, Judy Croome.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Please consider helping the Sturge-Weber Foundation. Sturge-Weber is the rare syndrome that Christopher was born with. Here is the gist of the email I got today.

We'll (iGive) give The Sturge-Weber Foundation a dollar for each person who joins iGive using the special link below and visits one store via iGive between noon Wednesday, February 24, 2010 (Chicago time) and noon Thursday, the next day.

And it's free. Please consider doing this. And thanks. Here's the NEW  link that works now:


Don't forget my interview with YA author/agent Mandy Hubbard. Monday March 1st. There will be a chance to win a copy of Mandy's book, Prada and Prejudice. Hope to see you here. =)

In Revision & Self-Editing, James Scott Bell suggests we start a character voice journal. "You are trying to let the voice of the character develop organically. You want to be able to hear the character so he/she doesn't sound like any of the other characters." Start a free-form document that is just the voice of your character, in stream-of-consciousness mode. Mr. Bell says to go wild with this. Have the character answer such questions as: What do you care most about in the world?
What really ticks you off? Let the answers come in any form, without editing. Your goal isn't to create usable text (though that can happen). You're trying to get to know this character that you will be spending all this time with.
 And it works.

'When describing your characters, professional writers are of two minds. Some believe in giving a full visual description. They want to control the picture in the mind of the reader. The other view, much more popular today, is minimalist. It recognizes that readers are going to form their own picture regardless, and that will be more powerful than what you, the author, can come up with."

When I read a book, I form my own opinions of the characters physical descriptions. I like it that way. In my novel, I don't physically describe the characters too much. Oh, we know that Anna has red hair, and I show that through her sometimes nasty temper and we know that Claire is short, which I show in her tiny frame clinging to Rundee's neck as Rundee (her horse) becomes spooked from the thunder storm. But I want to leave much up to the readers imagination. And I don't use descriptions in a generic way. No matter how much description you add, describe the characters in such a way that you add to the tone of the novel. Descriptions should do more than create a picture--they should support the other things you're doing in the story.

Mr. Bell reminds us that in Donald Westlake's 361, the lead character loses an eye in chapter one. In chapter two, he gets a glass eye. Later on, when trying to convince an old man to talk, he pops out the glass eye and uses it for shock value. It works. The old man keels over and dies. That, Mr. Bell reminds us, is getting double duty out of character traits. On Friday I will have more on characters. This stuff is just too good not to talk about.

So which approach to describing characters do you use? Thank you for reading. I love y'all! =)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Don't forget my interview with YA author/agent Mandy Hubbard. Monday March 1st. There will be a chance to win a copy of Mandy's book, Prada and Prejudice. Hope to see you here. =)

I hope everyone had a most wonderful unplug week. I did. And before I get on with my post, a HUGE congrats to Ivy on her jumping. Saturday was the start of the show season for her and Shamrock. She won two 1st place ribbons, 1 third place ribbon, and 1 fifth place ribbon. Pretty good start, I'd say. So, CONGRATS IVY!!!!!! =) (I know she reads this blog.) hehe

I have found a most wonderful book on revising and editing and I feel I must tell you about it. Revision & Self-Editing by James Scott Bell. I am going to be doing several posts on this book. It is just that good. If you have read it, please comment about how it has helped you in your writing life. 

First off, James Scott Bell also wrote another great book, Plot and Structure. He is a best-selling novelist for those of you who aren't aware of that. Presumed Guilty is just one of his great reads.

In Revision & Self-Editing Mr. Bell shows us how to feel our writing. The techniques he teaches, become natural. Easy. Regular.

He tells you that there have been whole books written on each of the chapters in this book. And there have. But the purpose of this book is to explain the most important aspects of each one, so you do them without even thinking about them. 

Chapter one begins with a quote. "Keep working. Don't wait for inspiration. Work inspires inspiration. Keep working." Michael Crichton. WOW! How true. =)

I had a revelation when I  read the first three or so pages about one problem I was having with SEVENTY TWO HOURS. BAM! I was able to fix my little snag.

In the first chapter he explains what makes memorable characters. Grit, wit, and it.  He says there is one unbreakable rule for major characters in fiction: No wimps! And I have read books where the main character who reacts rather than acts. And as Mr. Bell says, a character can start out to be wimp, but VERY EARLY ON, he must develop real grit. He's got to have forward motion. He says, grits is guts in action. And he gives great examples with real novels where the author has shown grit in fiction. 

"Wit is something everyone warms to when it's natural, not forced." James Scott Bell. Great stuff. If the character can laugh at himself , wit comes naturally. He reminds us of Rhett Butler and gives us an example of Rhett's ability to do this. And I said to myself, oh yeah."

It, is that personal magnetism that shows up when certain people walk into a room. All the attention is directed at them. Margaret Mitchell describes it in the opening line of Gone With The Wind: Scarlett O'Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm, as the Tarleton twins were. Scarlett definitely has It. And Mitchell goes on to wisely provide action to back it up. I must reread that book. 

On Wednesday I will have more on this wonderful writing tool. Have you read the book? If not, you are missing out. Thanks for reading. =)


Monday, February 15, 2010

Back for just another sec...

Marketing Mardi Gras Giveaway Week! Here we go!!!!!!!!!!!!

Head over to Market My Words and enter. Okay??

Great prizes being awarded every day. With the MOTHER of all prizes being the Unagented Writer Package. YIKES, MOMMY!!

Thanks Shelli!!!! You're awesomely cool too. Uh, is awesomely a word??

What are you waiting on? Let's do this. Uh, I guess I'll start unplug week tomorrow. =)

Back from Unplug week for just a sec...

Cuz this is just too good to be true. Wait! Am I dreaming? *pinches self*

Our most awesome, coolest of the cool pals Elana Johnson is having her, Pay It Forward Query Critique Contest

Here's what you can win: A query letter critique.

By one of these top five literary agents!

1. Kate Testerman-Shafer of KT Literary (your critique will be posted on her blog, Ask Daphne)
2. Michelle Andelman of Lynn C. Franklin Associates (Elana's  fab agent!)
3. Mary Kole of Andrea Brown Literary Agency
4. Michelle Wolfson of Wolfson Literary Agency
5. Joanna Volpe of Nancy Coffey Literary & Media Representation

And that's not all.

Are you screaming yet? Go click over to Elana's house and enter. And good luck to everyone. (^_^)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

It's Unplug week

I hope everyone has a SUPER week. See you after unplug week. (^_^)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Contest alert.

Big contest over at Book DreamingHuge prizes too. A crit on your query from our own most wunnerful Elana Johnson, plus a free copy of Elana's eBook. 

And second prize isn't shabby either. So pop over and enter. (^_^)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Have you prayed?

I know some of you have noticed the sidebar pic of Kate McRae. This is a sweet little six year old that should be playing with her dolls and going to school and playing in the park with her seven-year-old sister Olivia and four-year-old brother Will.  Instead she is in the hospital receiving chemotherapy in preparation for a stem cell transplant. Her road has not been easy. Her trail filled with doctors, nurses, hospital walls, sickness.

Please join me in praying for Kate. In praying for Kate's family.

And in praying for her protection from this brain tumor. That it will be gone forever. That the nausea and vomiting will be minimal, if at all. That her kidneys will be protected.  That she will show no signs of liver disease. Please pray that God put a wall of protection all around Kate and her precious family.

Today  Kate starts a new chemo drug. So strong that she will have to shower every six hours. Even at night. Change her bedding, clothes...everything. Her mama will have to wear gloves when she touches her sweet girl. And this goes on until Tuesday. 

Kate's mama Holly is a wonderful person. Very bright, warm, and she understands the power of prayer. Join us won't you? I've seen the power of prayer in our lives. In Christopher's life. Because of all of you. My wonderful friends. That I have grown to love.

If you click on Kate's picture it will take you to her CaringBridge site. There you can receive updates or just read about a little girl that needs her life to be normal again.

Please friends, lift Kate up to our heavenly father.

Thank you!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

An extra Wish I Knew

This is from Yaya over at Yaya's Changing World.  It is an awesome one, so I figured you'd want to hurry over and check it out. This one is only for Children's writers though.

Wish I knew Wednesday

I've found a super cool writers tool. Hey I rhymed.  (^_^)

The Character Building Workshop is free.

Here's the link,

And if you need to know your characters a little more then this is the place you need to visit. It will help you to see your characters in a new light. There are all sorts of character tests to play around with. I learned some things about my main characters. It forced me to think about them in ways I had not before. The workshop defines the character poles. I hope you take a visit and take a character test. The only thing I noticed that I didn't like was this, I could see my score after taking the first test, but then I took another test and was able to then discover things about Anna from test one. So I recommend you take at least two tests if not all three. It takes only minutes and you never know what you might discover. (^_^) Plus there are lots of other things too.  Like the character poles defined and the character archetypes. It's fun!

We have been at the hospital this week and the computer acted really strange. If you don't hear from me you'll know why. I'll try to get to the coffee shop. I love that place. *grin*

Monday, February 8, 2010

Contest alert. 2010 is the year of the contest.

"Dear Lucky Agent" Contest: Kids Novels (Middle Grade and Young Adult)

The first 150-200 words of your unpublished, book-length work of middle grade or young adult fiction. You must include a contact e-mail address with your entry and use your real name. Also, submit the title of the work and a logline (one-sentence description of the work) with your entry. You also have to do two of these, blog about it, tweet, or facebook the contest. Or add it to your blogroll. I need a blogroll. Anyway, good luck!

Really cool and awesome contest, don'tcha think?

 Here's the link:

Do we really need an agent??

I have read a lot lately about unpublished writers expressing the thought that they do not believe they need an agent. Here are my thoughts on this decision. 

IF an author wants a major publisher, as Jody talks about here, then the writer needs an agent.

Read her post to understand the differences between the major publishing houses, small presses, and self-publishing.

Many houses do not accept unagented material, and you want to have a chance with a company like Simon & Schuster.

The way I understand it is, the big houses slush piles became humongous and that meant they had to pay money to have people read the manuscripts, most of which weren't very good. That's when they decided to only accept agented material.

Now if you decide to go the small press route you may not need an agent. But I believe they work with writers they already know or have already published. And I wonder about support after the book comes out. 

I am posting about these things because I am preparing to query. I have given a lot of thought to the process, read articles from other writers, checked blogs of agents and I have come to the conclusion that for me anyway, an agent is definitely in my NEAR future.

My search for an agent has been made easy thanks to QueryTracker. I always check the websites of the prospective agents, and I rely on Preditors and Editors too.

And always remember to be professional.

No blubbering after an agent as she/he goes into the restroom. (I don't think they like that.) No desperate phone calls after you have sent your query, and never forget what your mama taught you. If you don't have anything nice to say, then don't say anything at all. Any thoughts on major houses versus small presses? Let's hear them. =)

Friday, February 5, 2010

Another cool contest! ;)

Another super cool contest going on over at Audience of One She loves her followers. Go on over and check it out. Her blog is great. Thanks to Karenfor introducing me to her blog. ;)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Another cool, cool contest

Click over to Angela's house The Bookshelf Muse for a chance at a full first chapter critique and you get to choose the next thesaurus collection. =)
I'll have a Wish I Knew Wednesday next week. Hmmm, I'm glad Tess is doing one. Go check it out. It's a good one today. Tess Hilmo

Today I wanted to talk about first-time author Kaleb Nation, author of the just released MG novel, Bran Hambric: The Farfield Curse. This book is the first in a series that Kaleb is writing. This guy is amazing success story. He's on a live tour, touring schools and signing his book at bookstores across the nation. Between 35-40 people show up at the bookstores and three hundred kids at every school.

He wrote the book when he was FOURTEEN. Got an agent and was published by the time he was TWENTY. YIKES!!!!

He started his own radio show from his bedroom. He would record the show on his computer and he would have a microphone hanging in the closet, because the closet was more sound-proof. And he'd record the show every week. Then put it online to a password-protected website. And all these radio stations would sign up and download it. He had twenty-five stations all over the country including international and satellite, FM, AM, every type of radio would play his show on their stations. At this time he was writing his book.

This kid is amazing and knows the importance of marketing on the internet. I'll give you a link to his blog and you can go and read about Kaleb. I have learned some things from him. Sheesh. Anyway, please read about how the blog got started. This guy is truly amazing. Here's the link:Kalebnation Happy writing. (^_^)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

BJ asked, "Why Do You Write?"

Why do I write?
I write because through my writing, I can become anyone or anything. I can go anywhere I wish to go. Writing sends me to worlds unknown. If I write about space, I’m there. If I should write about a castle in Ireland, I’m there. I can time travel too. I can meet Shakespeare. Shake hands with my favorite writer, Edgar Allen Poe. I can even be at the cross watching Jesus die for my sins. And you say that anyone who reads can do all of this. Ah, but when I write the story, I can choose where, when, how, who, and what. The story is mine to tell. I don’t have to dream about unknown places and planets, I can live them. So that is why I write. There are so many places to visit in my worlds. I can’t wait to reach them all. And I’d love to take some Twinkies along with me. A girl gets hungry, you know. (^_^)

Monday, February 1, 2010

Awesomely cool contest!

Head over to BJ's for a chance at YUMMY twinkies and a B&N GIFT CARD. Need I say more? (^_^) You have to enter by February 4th at the midnight hour.

Family has been SICK!

Everyone in my family has had the stomach bug but me. I guess we know who is next, don't we? I keep waiting on the arrival of the dreadful visitor, wondering when. How. Yikes!I even imagine I'm sick at my stomach only to realize it's all in my head. Every night since last Tuesday night at least one person has gotten me up in the middle of the night telling me, "I think I might have the virus." Might? Hmm, I wonder why they choose that word. It's perfectly obvious that they have it, believe me.

So I shall return tomorrow--I hope. Time to clean the house and take care of the remaining sick. UGH. I feel sick at my stomach. To be continued...