Thinking Thursday… Gathering Your Ideas

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Gathering Your Ideas…

Well, we made it into December.

Wait?

That calendar can’t be right! December? Wow!!!

What were we talking about? Oh yeah, IDEAS! How did you do during PiBoIdMo? I officially got 30 ideas! YAY! Then I had another one later that day. And a few more since.   🙂   I love it when that happens. Don’t you?

So we have all these ideas. Now what? Do you feel overwhelmed, not sure where to start?

Take a  breather.   Breathe in… breathe out… (repeat as needed)

Feel better? Good.

Now take a look at your list. Has any of them been tickling your brain? Or jumping up and down, shouting, “Me! Me! ME!”? Let those step forward. Explore them. Do some research. Has the story line been done before? *sigh* Probably. BUT (and here is the kicker)…

Can you put your own spin on it?

YES, you can!

Here is where you voice, experience, and spin get to shine.

What about all those other ideas? you ask.

I’ve been inspired by one of Tara Lazar’s guest bloggers. I’m going to write all my ideas down and put them in a clear jar.

On my desk.

Where I can see them!

I don’t want to forget them, even those sucky ones. Who knows, with the right circumstances, one of those icky ones might be the right combination to fit into a story. Maybe they will conspire together, plan an escape, and make an appearance on my page? WAIT! STORY IDEA!!!!!!!!!!! And I say “CLAIM” on it. (all you Walking Dead fans will get this *wink, wink*)

Here’s to all those ideas coming to fruition!

Until next time…

Happy Writing,
~t

PiBoIdMo Day 22-24… by Tracey M. Cox

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 Around the Written World in 30 Days

It seems these posts have been about journeys.  🙂

I am always amazed with each story I have written and the trip I take with it. No two have ever been the same. I think that is part of the magic of writing. It’s always new, something different, and keeps me on my toes. So here is what I have gotten out of the past few days…

Day 22
Character Driven

Girl_and_Boy_Driving_Car_Cartoon.svg.medNo, not like this.  This is a story where it is your character who is main staged and moves the story along. Seems easy? Pfffft, I struggle with it. BUT I do have a few ms now where it is definitely character driven. These are the ones that my character, not the situation or the emotional pull, takes off. So if your mc is shouting, “Me! Me! Me!”, you might want to listen up.

Day 23
Writing Road

Drive_Freely_.svg.medWriting manuscripts is like taking a trip. We start with a Point A and a Point B. What we don’t take into consideration a lot of the time are the potholes, hills, valleys, mountains, and curves that lie in between. When writing, I have some that I have struggled with and thought I would never get right. Then I have had stories that seem to write themselves. Every story is its own adventure.

Day 24
Into the Minds…

Brain_Notes.svg.medOh. Em. Geeee! We got a peek into the minds of a few agents!!! Do you know what it confirmed for me? That they share the same love as I do with picture books. That picture books strike a chord with us all. Picture books are short, but can be very complex. There is a marriage between the written word and the illustrations that can bring a deeper meaning to the story as a whole. I agree, I am a reader because of picture books!

BONUS: Depths of PBs

survey-graphic-mdWhen most think of PBs, they think of light, fluffy, happy-endings, where things are rosey. BUT PBs are so much more. Grab reality and you can give depth to your stories. Don’t be afraid to dig deep and write about sorrow, hurtfulness, and all those things that go bump in the night. PBs are the first experiences many have of the written word. I think it is wonderful that there are stories in the world that speak about death, being scared, having been wronged, and all those other things that can trouble children. It lets them know that they are not alone, and gives them comfort and hopefully hope.

WOW! What a ride! So here we are, only 7 days left!!! How are you doing? I’m at 23 ideas!!!! Almost 1 for 1!!!!

:::LEAVE ME A COMMENT:::
Let me hear from you and your journeys.
Have you ever had a story surprise you?

Until next time…

Happy Writing!
~t

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PiBoIdMo Day 16-18… by Tracey M. Cox

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 :::CAUTION:::
Creative Process At Work!

So here we are. We have reached that peak on the mountain and it’s all down hill now.   HA!  I have found that the second half can give you a false sense of almost-at-the-finish-line syndrome. Do not be lulled into a dull fog. Nope! You still have a ways to go and maybe you are getting fatigued. Chin up and keep on trucking.   🙂   These last three days have really stuck me as a writing process group.   So here’s what I got out of them…

Day 16
Breaking Rocks

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Just keep digging. Just keep digging. Just keep digging, digging, digging. Yes, we all have ideas that suck. SO WHAT!?! You have to go through a bunch of rocks before you find a gem. BUT it’s not that pretty. It’s dull and is doesn’t have a true form. You know it can be beautiful. So what needs to be done? Yep, more work. So you chisel it down, making the sides more define. Once you have the shape, you begin to sand, buff, and finally polish it. The end product is what you hoped for… all sparkly and ready to be bought.

Day 17
Looking Beyond

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Where can you find ideas? I know you keep hearing, “Everywhere”, but it’s true. If you feel like you are getting stuck ask a teacher, librarian, or museum curator if they know of any books that they are lacking. What is something they would like to see more of on their shelves? Or better yet, is there something NOT on their shelves? Sometimes you might discover a great idea that you would love to dive into! So don’t be afraid to ask.

Day 18
Just Keep Thinking

cartoon-thought-bubble-mdThis post was SO me!!! THIS is how I write. I think. I stew. I roll it around in my head. Then FINALLY I will put it on paper. Why? There is no reason, except this is how I can get my ideas to come out best. That’s what we all want, right? To put our best work out there. Well, by NOT writing everyday, I do better work. It’s okay if this isn’t how you write though. Everyone has their own formula. You just have to discover what works for you!

So how are you doing? I have 18 ideas!

:::LEAVE ME A COMMENT:::
Let me know what is your writing habit.
What do you do to get out of a writing rut?
What’s the longest it has taken you to get an idea out of your head and onto paper?  *Mine is 9 months!!!*

Until next time…

Happy Writing!
~t

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PiBoIdMo Day 4-6… by Tracey M. Cox

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Getting It Going…

Waaaaah? Has it already been almost a week since we’ve started? WOW! I really am enjoying each post. I always find something inspiring and another kindred spirit. BUUUUUT the big question is how are you doing on your ideas? Have you got a few? Six? More?!!!? Me… I have three so far. Yes, three. *sigh* I think I have brain rot. hahahaha! I’m not sweating it though. I know my writing process and I know when NOT to push myself. It will come. 🙂 Here’s what I’ve gotten out of the past three days…

Day 4
Never Give Up

TrainEven  if we feel like we have failed… We have still tried. Things happen, dreams and goals seem out of reach, and you become unsure. That is when you dig deep and pursue. I know you’ve heard, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”. This is so true with us writers. Even when you get published you haven’t reached your goal. There are so many levels to continue on.

Day 5
Steps to Inspiration

stepsWhat are the secret steps to inspiration??? Big hint… There isn’t any. *sigh* I wish there were. I would be on “idea #6” today for sure then. hahahha. BUT there is something, and it deals with you. Everyone has their own journey, their own way of writing, their own spurts of inspiration. You have to decide what your is and work with it.  I have found when I try to push things, I only bottle them up. It’s horrible and I become miserable. By letting things flow freely, I’ve become a better writer and am more open to the experiences I have and how I can work them into my writing. Everyone has their own way.

 

Day 6
Character Development

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Adding spice to your character is key to great writing. No one want to read about a character that has one layer. Even in picture books we love to see the main character struggle, grow, and overcome. By adding layers to your character, you add interest. Your readers will care more about them and their situations. Plot and structure are important, but character development is key to having a reader fall in love with your writing.

So that’s my take on the past three days. What have you been getting out of it?

:::LEAVE ME A COMMENT:::
Let me know what you think about character development and how you interweave it into your stories.
What steps do you take to become a better writer?
Have you ever thought about throwing in the towel?
I would love to hear from you!

Until next time…
Happy Writing!!!
~t

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8 Things to be SCHOOL VISIT Ready

authorvisit38 Tips to be School Visit Ready!

Today I’m continuing my posts on…

SCHOOL TIME + AUTHOR TIME = LEARNING STUDENTS

Before you contact a school, as a presenter you need to have several things in order.

Just as in trying to be published, you want to put your best foot forward. I have composed a list of several things I think you need to have to be SCHOOL VISIT ready…

  1. Presentation(s)
    Have several – Just as when you write, you will need presentations to meet the age groups you are speaking to. I have several: a reading level, which works great for the youngest, the writing mechanics, which works really well for the mid range, the business side, which works well with the older range. I also have a writing workshop. You can also develope presentations that will coinside with one particular book or series.Note Cards – Yes. Write down your key points. Keep them handy during your presentation. It helps to have this, even if you have done the presentation a million times.

    Rehearse – Get in front of a mirror and pretend you are talking to the crowd. Notice your facial features and how you move. Time it too. Most people will want to know how long your presentation takes. Take your time and go through all the motions until it feels natural.

    Flash Drive – Back your presentations up on a flash drive. I usually try to send my material a head of time, but sometimes things fail or won’t come up when you need it too. Have your flash drive handy to save the day.

    Have a Back-Up Plan – Even when you plan, things do always go as planned. Computers going down is only one senario. Always have a back up plan.

  2. Forms, Flyers, & Business Cards
    Information is the key. Try to lay everything out for your contacts. I have several flyers that are pdf files.

    • Author Is Coming – This flyer is for them to post on their walls. I have a spot where they can include the date of the visit, as well as a picture of me and my books available.
    • Bio – This flyer should be sent home to the parents. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t like it when I didn’t receive information about the person who was visiting my children’s school.
    • Book Form – This form will be sent home to the parent too. Hopefully, increasing your sales.
    • Agreement / Contract – Yes, you should have one. This puts in words what both parties expect.

    Then I also bring these along:

    • Business Cards – I usually have a few (media specialist, principals, teachers, parents) who will ask if I have one on hand.
    • Mini-Flyer – This is something I added. It tells a story on how and why I became an author and how they can find out more about me (website). I use these to autograph for the children who forgot their money or were not able to purchase a book.
  3. Mic & Speaker
    I request the school to provide one for me, but I have one as a back up. Mics are relatively cheap (under $50). Speakers…. well I’m ‘barrowing’ my oldest son’s electric guitar amp. It works though and he doesn’t mind.
  4. Pens & Cash
    PENS – You need those for signing. And yes, they WILL walk off when you are not looking.Cash – I bring a change bag, because you will usually have someone who forgot the correct change or they may have the wrong amount on the check.
  5. BOOKS!
    Yes, bring extra books. Even when the school does order (which I ask them too, but not all schools will), you will have late orders or the wrong book(s) may have gotten shipped.
  6. Emergency Box
    This is another thing I’ve incorporated, an emergency box. You can your a recipe box or whatever. Some of the things I have inside are:Tissues – teary eyes or runny nose
    Cough drops – dry throat or stubborn cough
    Peppermint – same purpose as the cough drops, but smells better
    Eye drops – dry eyes or allergies.
    Band aids – I’m a clutz and have had to have one at the worse of times
    Eye glass wipes – the better to see you my dearsNote Card of Presentations
    Flash Drive
  7. Carrying-Tub or Bag
    So I will put all my items together, because being organized is hard and I have to do this a head of time.In my carrying-tub I have:

    • mic w/ cord
    • book stands
    • flyers
    • books
    • cash bag

    One day I want to incorporate an easier way to lug all my items. 🙂

    In my bag:

    • Pens
    • Emergency box

    Then I have my speaker too, if and when needed.

    Yes, I have to make more than one trip. Working on that.

  8. Tablet & Projector
    (this is on my want list)
    Tablet – there are so many wonderful tablet out there now that can take the place of your computer. My heart is set on one that have a usb post to hook my flash drive into.Projector – have you seen them lately!?! They are small and compact. By having one of these I’ll be able to showcase my presentation almost anywhere!

 

Here’s a printable list for your convenience too. 🙂

8 Things to be SCHOOL VISIT Ready

:::LEAVE ME A COMMENT:::

Let me know what you include for your school visits!
Have a question? Ask in the comments and I will answer it as best as I can.

Hope you found this useful. Til next time…

Happy writing!
~t

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**Please feel free to LIKE, SHARE, and COMMENT! Easy, peasy buttons

 

 

 

#summersparks Thursday Thinking: 9 Ways to Tighten Your Story

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9 Ways to Tighten Your Story

 

Donna Earnhardt wrote a terrific post, Burning Down the House, that covered how reading out loud helps to revise. Then, saputnam had a great comment about how she color-codes her submissions, and that reminded me of another way to revise. Then that got me to thinking of other ways to revise. That lead me to thinking, just how !any ways are there to revise. Here’s my list:

  • Read out loud (thanks Donna)
    This not only gets your brain working, but your ears as well. You will stutter and stumble over words and phrases that are out of place and don’t belong.
  • Read backwards (thanks again Donna)
    This will help see gaps in your plot, where you need to rearrange or add to build the right sequence.
  • Read to an audience (Donna is the bomb)
    This is where you can see how people react. Did they laugh? Was there an Ah-ha! moment.
  • Observe a reading.
    Here’s where you combine watching you audience reactions with listening to the story to see of things are off, Make notes. Don’t have a reader? Record yourself and play it back.
  • Highlight your text.
    Use different colors for dialog, action, passive texts. This will give you a color-coded visual of your story.
  • Cut up text and place in a storyboard.
    This will show pacing. you can see where there are holes and where text !at be too heavy.
  • Draw it out. (thanks Alison)
    You can also use doodles of your text to make sure your story is moving forward and hasn’t stalled out. In picture books, every word counts!
  • Draw a story arc. (thanks Alayne)
    This is also called ‘The W Factor’ or ‘The Heartbeat of the Story’ and shows pacing well too. Here you go up and down determined by the conflicts and resolutions -aka Cause and Effect– of your story.
  • Read, read, read.
    Yes read your story, parts of your story, and then read it some more. Make it flow effortlessly!
  • Set it aside.
    How is this revision?Think of wine, if you taste it right away, sure it will be good, but if you put it away. Don’t open it. The body develops. When you taste it again, there will be notes that highlight the flavor. The body will be fuller. It will be like tasting it for the first time. The same can happen with your story. You will have separated yourself from the text and can see it with fresh eyes. Mistakes will pop out. Things will make you smile. You will get the goosies when you read THE LINE.

So what are some of the ways you revise? Do you have a routine that is different from those listed?

:::Leave a comment:::
Let me know how you tighten a story.

 DON’T FORGET:

You have one more day to finish qualifying for the raffle prizes!!! All entries must be done by Friday, July 11th, at 11:59 pm, est. THAT’S A WRAP post will explain the steps to qualify!

 

Missed a SUMMER SPARK? Don’t worry, you can find them here:

Day 1: In Celebration of Summer Magic  by Kelly Milner Halls
Day 2:  The Power of Doodling  by Alison K. Hertz
Day 3: Cause & Effect  by Alayne Kay Christian
Day 4: How to be a Marketing Ninja  by Corey Rosen Schwartz
Day 5: A Visual Writing Prompt: Begin at the End  by Julie Gribble
Day 6: The Final Word  by Jodi Moore
Day 7: Inspiration Station  by Susanna Hill
Day 8: Voice and Word Choice in Picture Books by Tara Lazar
Day 9: Platform Building Can You Build It? Yes, You Can!  by Tracey M. Cox
Day 10: 5 Ways to Hook Your Reader with Your Very First Line  by Kirsti Call
Day 11: Burning Down the House aka Revision by Donna Earnhardt
Day 12: Persistence  by Donna M. McDine
Day 13: Writing Your Way to a Spark  by Kris Dinnison
Day 14: Hope In Your Heart  by Carol Gordon Ekster
BONUS: What Songs Rock Your World?  by Claire Rudolf Murphy
THAT’S A WRAP!
Follow-up #1: TIPS
Follow-up #2: 9 Ways to Tighten Your Story
Prize Announcement: Winner! Winner! Chicken Dinner!

#summersparks Follow-Up: TIPS

Summer SparksTIPS TO FOLLOW A WRITING CHALLENGE

 

My mind is still whirling. What a lot to cover in only two weeks! Sometimes that can leave everything in a jumble. Add several ideas sparking to the mix and you can feel overwhelmed. Here are a few tips I have found that helps me out:

  1. Make a list of your ideas where you can see them all at one time.
  2. Star or check each one that has promise to flesh out into a story.
  3. Look at that group and see which ones are really grabbing your attention.
  4. Pick one or two and start researching, note taking, and writing.

I have found by narrowing them down by importance, I get a better feel for what I want to work on. Of course I have had an occasional loud mouth that demanded attention. When that happens, I KNOW what I want to work on.

Things I also consider before I get too far into my writing:

  1. Has the subject been written about?
  2. Has my angle been written about?
  3. How  can I make my story unique?
  4. What way can I market this idea? (<– Yes, I start that now)
  5. What other layers can I bring into the story to add depth?

There are so many things that come into writing. I have found that the more I do it, the easier steps come. I automatically pull up Amazon and do a search now. My mind starts visualizing ways I can market a book, different ways to promote, and who I can approach, outside of bookstores, to sell my book(s).

The main thing to remember is to BREATHE and enjoy the writing process.

Happy Writing!
~t

 

 DON’T FORGET:

You have three more days to finish qualifying for the raffle prizes!!! All entries must be done by Friday, July 11th, at 11:59 pm, est.

 

Missed a SUMMER SPARK? Don’t worry, you can find them here:

Day 1: In Celebration of Summer Magic  by Kelly Milner Halls
Day 2:  The Power of Doodling  by Alison K. Hertz
Day 3: Cause & Effect  by Alayne Kay Christian
Day 4: How to be a Marketing Ninja  by Corey Rosen Schwartz
Day 5: A Visual Writing Prompt: Begin at the End  by Julie Gribble
Day 6: The Final Word  by Jodi Moore
Day 7: Inspiration Station  by Susanna Hill
Day 8: Voice and Word Choice in Picture Books by Tara Lazar
Day 9: Platform Building Can You Build It? Yes, You Can!  by Tracey M. Cox
Day 10: 5 Ways to Hook Your Reader with Your Very First Line  by Kirsti Call
Day 11: Burning Down the House aka Revision by Donna Earnhardt
Day 12: Persistence  by Donna M. McDine
Day 13: Writing Your Way to a Spark  by Kris Dinnison
Day 14: Hope In Your Heart  by Carol Gordon Ekster
BONUS: What Songs Rock Your World?  by Claire Rudolf Murphy
THAT’S A WRAP!
Follow-up #1: TIPS
Follow-up #2: 9 Ways to Tighten Your Story
Prize Announcement: Winner! Winner! Chicken Dinner!