Monday, May 31, 2010

Now for something completely different

Ever wonder where ideas for stories come from? Have you ever told yourself that you could write a great book if you could just come up with an idea? That's where it all begins. So we're going to do a little writing exercise today that just may spark a totally new idea in your head. And then again, it may not.

I'm going to start things off with an opening paragraph. Then you, gentle readers, will continue the story in whatever direction it may lead. Please read all the comments and then add your paragraph to keep things going. The objective is to add to the story, take it in a different direction if you'd like, but try to maintain the POV and the voice. So here's where we're starting.

My tongue found blood when I licked my upper lip. It wasn't a steady, gushing stream, though. Just a continual trickle from my nose. A salty red nose tear that my tongue couldn't stay away from. My ears burned in response to the giggles from the circle of onlookers surrounding the three of us in the school parking lot. I knew we shouldn't have shown up. We could have have avoided it. Could have gotten ourselves detention so we would have an excuse for backing down. John wanted to, but I told him we couldn't do it. I was tired of running from this guy. I hoped one bloody nose would be the end of it. Conjoined twins aren't the best at street fighting.

So, there you go. Take it from there. The torch is passed.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

It's baseball season. Give me a good pitch.

Nathan Bransford has a regular blog post regarding a one-sentence, one-paragraph, two-paragraph pitch. I'm going to tag along on his coattails and post something similar. My apologies to Nathan if I'm stepping on toes.

This could be a very interesting exercise that might be beneficial when you start writing your query for your current WIP. So, here's what we're going to do:


Now if you think that's hard, I want you to cut it in half.


Post both versions as a comment below this post and let us see what you came up with.


Based on your comments, I've decided to go ahead.


Since I'm still not rich and famous from my writing efforts, I thought this might be a feasible idea and could provide an affordable option for writers needing editing and proofing assistance.

I hope you'll visit and let me know what you think. We'll get back to something more interesting next week. Meanwhile, keep writing as only you can.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Editing and Proofing

We are the writers of words.

Sometimes they're beautiful and perfect. Other times they're horribly wrong.  And quite often, they are either bad choices or misspelled. Or both. Yikes!

As writers, it's always a challenge to proof and edit our own creations. A fresh pair of eyes can usually, sometimes almost instantly, spot things that we've missed, even after we've read it for the hundredth time. We get involved in the creative process, and we type away at a million miles an hour. We know what we're saying. Our perfect words make perfect sense. To us. Unfortunately, there are times when the reader just doesn't understand what we mean.

Those are the times when the assistance of an editor/proofreader can be invaluable. Before sending our "baby" out into the cruel world, we need to be certain she's ready. Agents expect nothing less. And it's not only our manuscript that needs to be perfect. Don't forget about that pesky query letter and synopsis.

I've been giving this some thought. There are great resources on the internet including Absolute Write, Miss Snark's First Victim, and Query Shark, just to name a few. These sites are frequented by writers with varying degrees of experience and knowledge they generously and freely impart. But their time is limited, so they're probably not going to be spending a great deal of it helping to improve our work. At the same time, there are professional editing and proofreading services floating around out there in the ether of the web. Which begs the question: Can the market stand the addition of another professional editing and proofreading service? Because that's what I'm considering, and I'd like your input.

So, here are my questions for you: (1) Have you ever used an editing or proofreading service? (2) Would you consider taking advantage of such a resource, provided the cost was affordable. (3) What would entice you to use such a service? (4) Do you have the knowledge, time, or interest in case the workload requires additional help?

Please don't think I'm posting this in an attempt to push such a service offering on the loyal readers of this blog. That's not my intent at all. It's simply to get a feel for what other writers think about using such a service. Based on the comments, provided its a large enough sample, it should provide either a yes or a no on whether it's a feasible undertaking with any merit for future consideration. I would love to read your input, and feel free to write as much or as little as you wish. I'm in the research stage at the moment.

(Gosh, I hope there are no tpykos in this post.)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

What are you reading now?

As writers, one of the best ways to improve our craft is to study the work of others. I don't know about you, but I spend a lot of time reading. Primarily middle grade, since that's the age group I write for. I did veer off into the YA area a while back with The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. And I'm very anxious for Mockingjay to come out.

So tell us what you're reading at the moment. Or what you've recently read that you would recommend. Or what you've read that you didn't like so we can avoid it. The floor is yours. Leave a comment.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

And the winners are...

Here is the bio info promised on the three winners of our recent query contest judged by Jamie Weiss Chilton of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.

By day Melissa Barlow is an administrative assistant, able to leap tall stacks of paper in a single bound, by night she sits at her desk and writes, dreaming of that day she'll one day be published.  She got her start writing picture books, very bad picture books with singing animals and horrible forced rhymes.  Nowadays, she's dropped the singing, dancing critters and moved on to the wonderful world of YA.  She's the author of Knights of Avalon,  as well as the YA Historical Surviving Matewan.  Her current projects include a sequel to Knights and the YA dystopian Beautiful Medusa.  Feel free to say hi to her on Twitter (@LiteraryMouse) or visit her blog at 

In addition to writing, I teach preschool, direct two handbell choirs, and I am a Creative Memories Consultant.  I also have three children ages seven and under.  In other words, I am always bored. I blog sporadically at and I tweet @lchardesty.

I'm a 20-something year old Canuckian chick who writes YA Fantasy/Paranormal, along with the occasional recap. Hoping to see my name in print, but until then I'll be typing my little brown fingers off. Contact me at saraholutola(at)gmail(dot)com.