Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The key to unlocking a great plot

Thanks to the sidebar on Jody Hedlund's blog, I've started reading Plot & Structure, by James Scott Bell. In simple terms, Bell sums up plot by using the LOCK system:

L = Lead
"...a strong plot starts with an interesting Lead character. In the best plots, that Lead is compelling, someone we have to watch throughout the course of the novel."

O = Objective
"Objective is the driving force of fiction. It generates forward motion and keeps the Lead from just sitting around." Bell adds that "...objective can take either of two forms: to get something or to get away from something."

C = Confrontation
"Opposition from characters and outside forces brings your story fully to life." Bell quotes another writer who once said, "Get your protagonist up a tree. Throw rocks at him. Then get him down."

K = Knockout
In his book, Bell compares a strong ending to a knockout punch in a boxing match. His suggestion? "...take your Lead through the journey toward her objective, and then send the opposition to the mat."

I can relate to this easy-to-follow language. How about you? What techniques do you use when plotting fiction?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A Carnival, Clever Bloggers, and Summer Schedules

Lee Wind is hosting the June, 2010 "Carnival of Children's Literature." He was kind enough to include one of my blog posts. Head on over there to check out some fun posts by a variety of kid lit bloggers.

If you haven't already seen these, be sure to check out the following creative posts:
  • A must see (and hear) is Creepy Query Girl's search for an agent - Mary Poppins Style. Not only can our Creepy Query friend write, but she also has an awesome voice. If she can dance too, I'm locking myself in a room.
  • Lydia Kang has a special Writer's Magic 8 Ball up at her blog. I want one of these for Christmas *wink, wink*.
Now that it's summer, I let my sons' daily swims in the pool replace their nightly showers (eewww!). Plus, we've eaten Kraft Macaroni and Cheese for lunch about 4 times this week (double eewww!). With kids running around during the day, my goals and writing schedule have changed a bit. Thankfully, I'm still managing to get a lot done.

How about you? How does summer alter your writing schedule?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Awards to some great bloggers!

I was fortunate enough to receive three blogger awards recently, so it's time to pay it forward.

I received the Versatile Blogger award from Jessie Harrell, Melissa, J. Kaye, and James Garcia Jr. Thank you!
In keeping with the rules of this award, here are 7 random (nutty) facts about me:
  1. I'm strangely concerned about chairs at the kitchen table. They must be pushed in.
  2. I love hard, fruity candy and jawbreakers. A bag of Lifesavers sits near my computer, and I crunch them while I write. "Hello, Dentist? It's me again."
  3. I met my husband when I was 12 years old, while standing in the snack line in 7th grade.
  4. I won't eat chicken off the bone.
  5. I believe Hershey's Kisses taste best at Christmas time, when they're wrapped in red and green foil.
  6. I'm a homebody, and like to be settled in by 8 p.m.
  7. At a whopping 5' 1", I'm the tallest woman in my family.
I'm passing this award on to the following cool people:
  1. Bekah
  2. Leigh D'Ansey
  3. Janet Sumner Johnson
  4. Kay Evans
  5. Perry Block
  6. Emma Michaels
  7. Janel's Jumble
  8. Hannah Stoneham
  9. Mary Mc Donald
  10. Kerrin Hearfield

I received this Who's Awesome? award from Karen Gowan. How cute is this little doggie? He looks like he's winking at us.

Here's three blogs I think are awesome:
  1. Jennifer Shirk
  2. Shannon O'Donnell
  3. Angela Ackerman's The Bookshelf Muse

And finally, this Honest Scrap award was given to me by Kerrin Hearfield. Thanks, Kerrin! I'm passing this one along to these honestly great bloggers:
If you don't already follow these bloggers, check them out!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Your Funny Father's Day Story

"A truly rich man is one whose children run into his arms when his hands are empty"

My dad died five years ago, but here are some funny things I remember about him:

When he took his black dress socks off, he rubbed them between his toes.

He wore this horrible apple tie to church. Decorated with partially eaten apples, it was the worst tie ever made.

Telling us "Pull my finger" never got old (at least for him).

To all those wonderful dads out there who are creating fond memories with their kids, I wish you a happy Father's Day.

Do you have a funny dad story? I'd love to hear it!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

My Geocaching Article is Up!

My article for kids, "The Modern Day Treasure Hunt," is up on Viatouch!

If you haven't tried geocaching yet, I hope you'll give it a try after reading this article. It's so much fun for kids, parents, hikers, grandparents...anyone! Truly, it's a blast.

The family photos in the article were taken last summer during our trip to Lake Powell. The geocache was a Gatorade bottle hidden under a bush. Anyone who visits that geocache will see our names written on the log.

So tell me, do you have a GPS? And have you ever tried geocaching?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Miscellaneous Good Stuff

"The daily grind of hard work gets a person polished"


At first, I thought the above quote said "published." I'm beginning to think I have a one-track mind.


Here is some miscellaneous good stuff plucked from the internet:

Another free online writer’s conference is taking place at The Muse Online Writer’s Conference. The conference dates are October 11-17, 2010, and the deadline to register is August 15, 2010.

Over at Rants and Ramblings, agent Rachelle Gardner teaches writers how to deal with contradictory feedback.

Query Tracker had some great stuff, such as giving yourself permission, when you're weary, and grabbing an agent's attention with your query.

Author Magazine dishes about the Top 10 Publishing Myths.

And another quote, just for the fun of it:

"Creativity comes from trust. Trust your instincts. And never hope more than you work."

-Rita Mae Brown

Monday, June 14, 2010


A free writer's conference? No way!

Yep, some amazing gals are putting together an epic writer's conference for free. Check out their blogs for fun giveaways, and visit WriteOnCon for more details.

And the pay it forward gurus are... *drumroll please*

Jamie Harrington

Lisa and Laura Roecker

Elana Johnson

Casey McCormick

Shannon Messenger

Thank you thank you thank you thank you!!!!

(temporarily abandoning the don't use too many exclamation points rule!!!!)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Just Say It!

While at my son's school on Friday, the woman on yard duty went out of her way to pull me aside. She had seen my son do something so kind, so respectful, that she had been thinking about it all week. She said she just had to tell me about it, and I'm thankful she did.

When she first pulled me aside, I thought, "Oh boy, what did he do wrong?" Instead, I got this beautiful glimpse of something my son did while I was miles away. It brought tears to my eyes. Seriously.

It made me feel proud of my son, that's for sure. It also made me regret those times that I've thought something nice about someone, but didn't speak up and just say it. Sometimes it's easier for me to write gushing compliments than to voice them.

How about you? Is there something you wish you'd said, but didn't? Or did you speak up and make someone's day?

And speaking of gushing compliments, have you all checked out Friday's awesome post at Adventures in Children's Publishing? You name it, it's in there.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Torture, Reducing Stress, and the Triple T of Publishing

I've stumbled upon a new method of torture. It comes in the form of my 10-year-old twin sons begging me for a cell phone. Every. Single. Day. A writer could learn lessons from my sons, as they don't let rejection get in their way of accomplishing a goal.

I'm stealing, um, borrowing this stress reduction kit from Cate Pearce. The next time my twins ask for a cell phone, I'm planting my head here:

Over at Rants & Ramblings, guest blogger Mary De Muth wrote about "The Triple T" in the publishing world. She says wanna be's, newly published, and multi-published authors need to be tenacious, talkative, and teachable. Are my twins reading blogs and I don't know about it?

A fun little goodie on this Tuesday morning. Both India Drummond and Vicki Rocho blogged about The Wasteline Test at Writer's Diet. This was fun! Thankfully, my sample was diagnosed as "lean." Probably because I've worked chapter one to death!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Clean it up!


I love a freshly scrubbed home, a sparkling car, and an empty hamper. Unfortunately, my “Men Who Stare at Goats” look will not erase the work. Believe me, I’ve tried. My only solution? To steal a line from Nike, I “Just do it!”

It’s the same with a first draft. We have permission to write an awful first draft, one that deserves to be scraped from the bottom of our shoe. We can clean it up in revision, and feel proud of our smooth and shiny manuscript.

Once our polished beauties are ready to leave their hard-drive home and test the real world, we’d be wise to avoid errors that make us look silly. Jenny Bent blogged about rookie mistakes here.

Do you have trouble with organization? On Write it Sideways, Suzannah posted “6 Organization Tips for Disorganized Writers.”

How do you feel about first drafts and revision? Do you have a love/hate relationship? Love/love? Like/like?

And I’m curious, how long does your hamper stay empty? (btw, mine is bottomless, like Mary Poppins’ bag)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Me In Threes

Tory Minus tagged me in her "Me In Threes" blog post. It was fun reading Tory's answers, and getting to know her better. If you don't already follow Tory, hop on over there and check out her blog. Her family is beautiful!

For today's post, here is my "Me In Threes"

Three names I go by:


Three jobs I've had:

Ride operator at Magic Mountain
Loan closer

Three places I've lived:

Sunland, CA
Palmdale, CA
Agua Dulce, CA

Three places I've been:

Washington D.C.
Caribbean Islands

Three favorite movies:

Grease (I used to act out the whole movie while playing the *gasp* vinyl record!)
The Proposal (Betty White and Kevin the dog are hilarious)
Pride and Prejudice (Colin Firth version...white shirt, exiting the water, 'nuff said)

Three favorite books:

My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
Rules by Cynthia Lord

Three places I'd love to visit:

Mount Rushmore
Yellowstone National Park

Three favorite hobbies:

Water skiing

Three things I'm looking forward to:

Another day with my family - each one is a blessing
A published book - picture book, novel, nonfiction, I'm not picky!
Paying off our mortgage (hey, a girl can dream)

I'm tagging the following bloggers in hopes that they'll post their "Me In Threes"