Just a Name?

Names are how we identify things – people, places, things, etc. For the purposes of this blog, I’m going to concentrate on the names we give to the characters in the stories we write. I have found that choosing a name is quite an undertaking, and it’s one that should not be taken lightly! A…

Research, Your BFF!

If you’re going to write a credible story that your readers will want to invest in, it must be believable. And to be believable, you have to research, research, research! I know it can be tedious, and I sometimes wonder if readers would notice if something is a little “off.” Trust me, they will! There…

Hurricanes and Rowboats

It’s a feeling I am familiar with. Anyone who’s finished writing a story might feel the same. I felt lost, like I was adrift in a boat with no oars or motor. The story had come to an end, but this time it was magnified. It was the end of a series – the cumulative…

Conquering the Messy Middle

We’ve all heard of (and endured) the “messy middle” of a story. When I get there, I start to feel fatigued; perhaps my characters do, too. They also seem uncertain, hesitant, and fearful of what’s to come. They hold back with good reason – the middle of my stories contains the low point, and what’s…

Too Much Sighing

  Writers know that emotion is an important part of a story. It draws the reader in and gets them invested in what is happening. It allows them to become emotionally attached to the characters (good or bad) and either cheer them on or applaud their demise. Just a Sigh… There are passages in my…

Trust Your Inner Voice

Every writer welcomes and treasures those times when the writing comes easy. The scenes pretty much write themselves – all you have to do is put your hands on the keyboard and they settle themselves into your story with ease and grace. What happens when that inner voice guiding you goes silent and the writing…

Story As Tree

Now that spring has arrived (for the most part), I thought it would be interesting, and hopefully of some help, to create an analogy between a story and a tree. I think it will work; I’m exploring as I write, so hang in there with me and we’ll see where this thing goes. Before any…

Chocolate Sampling

There are those who say it’s bad manners to take a bite of a chocolate candy and put it back in the box. I would respond by buying them their own box, because those partially eaten chocolates have a role to play when it comes to my writing. Sure, there might be a guide on…

Story Sandwich

Can you think of your story as a sandwich? Have I lost my mind? Probably. But it’s been a while since breakfast. Let’s think about the two pieces of bread as the beginning and end of your story. They need to be appealing, satisfying, and somewhat sturdy if they are going to support whatever fillings…

Not Available in Stores

In this season of gift-giving, I look back with a grateful heart and mind at those I received that had a direct influence on my present status as a writer. I had no notion in those early years, but now I see that my family was (perhaps unknowingly) planting the seeds that would lead me…

The Comfort/Discomfort Zone

My middle-grade novel is done. Yay! That’s cause for celebration. And, I did, especially when it won an RPLA award at the Florida Writer’s Association competition in October, 2016. I took a well-deserved break and sat back for a time to revel in its completion and success. Now what? Well, I’ve decided to include this…

The Once-Maligned Character Template

In my college Creative Writing class, we were given a template to complete before we started writing our stories. It was basically a fact sheet – things I needed to know about my character before I wrote my first word. I thought it was the most ridiculous thing ever. I wanted to write my story…

The Waiting Game

  So, one manuscript is done (are they ever, really?) and is navigating its way through the netherworld of publication or rejection. Each click of the “send” button brings with it a wave of hope, excitement, and terror. And so it begins – the waiting game, that is. What’s a writer to do? I gifted…

Unlocking the Secrets of a Series

The middle-grade mystery that began its life as a tiny glimmer of an idea is finally done (I’m pretty sure). You know how it goes – just one more tweak here, change a word there. But at this point, I’m hitting the ‘save’ button one last time and calling it done. Now, what do I…

Changing Hats

It was bound to happen, sooner or later. That time when the writer hat(s) comes off, and is replaced by marketing headgear of some sort. I wore lots of fun, functional hats while writing in the world of Emma and crew: bobble hat, baseball cap, hoodie (is that considered a hat?), crash helmet, and a deerstalker,…

My Weekend Pity Party

Going forward, unfortunately, involves going back. At least, that’s what I encountered this weekend on the “home stretch” of my middle grade novel. I succumbed to the “WILL THIS EVER BE DONE?” pity party on Saturday, and did not turn my computer on until Sunday afternoon. I tidied up, and went to a symphony concert…

Creative Efficiency and Rubber Bands

Think big, think small. Imagine the entire story, but don’t forget the smallest of details.  Sometimes my mind feels like a rubber band, stretching to its outer limit while remaining stationary and focused.  As a writer, I have to be able to do both. The first draft of my story is complete in all of…

My Argument for Cloning

Writing is a solitary endeavor, at least for me. I spend hours alone in my office, at my computer, creating worlds that don’t exist for people who aren’t real.  I challenge my characters, put roadblocks in their way, and fill their world with conflict and struggle.  It’s a monumental undertaking, and takes more time, effort,…

Whose Voice is it, Anyway?

  Countless workshops, articles, and conversations on the topic of writing inevitably touch on the voice of one or more characters in a story. Big or small, loud or soft, the list is practically endless. Bottom line is, every character has to have one or you have no way to tell them apart from the…

First Draft – Short, Sweet Celebration!

  Completing the first draft of a story is something to celebrate.  I forged ahead many times when it would be easier to “Select All”, “Delete,” and watch a Netflix movie.  Or go out with friends.  Or have a nap.  I created a beginning, middle, and end.  I did the “Yes!” cheer and gesture like…

Delightful Devices

Writers refer to them as devices.  They are things you use for various reasons in a story, depending on what you need them to do.  In my middle-grade mystery, I’m plucking them from here and there, inserting them into my story, and giving them a job to do. My devices fulfill more than one purpose. …

Striking a Balance

I like strong, female characters. I am one. I can mix cement, handle a chainsaw, and shingle a roof. I want my main character Emma to be able to do the same if the situation presents itself. I also want her to be a feminine, young lady who will grow up to be a confident, self-assured…

Details – How Much is Too Much?

Details play a huge role in any story.  The reader learns who the main character is, where he/she came from, what happens, and finally, how it ends.  With the first sentence you write, the reader is provided with bits and pieces of information that draws them into the story. So how much detail do you…