May 23

Today is Lucky Penny Day and the birthday of: John Howard Payne, Thomas Hood, Margaret Fuller, Scott O’Dell, Margaret Wise Brown

Tip: Make a list of other writers your work is similar to. This is something a lot of readers often want to know – especially when you become famous. (I read all your books. Until the next one comes out, can you recommend someone like you?)

Thought: “I can’t write five words but that I change seven.” –  Dorothy Parker

Teaser:  What is the most boring job you can think of? What if you had that job? What could you do to make it more exciting? Put your character in that job and give us his or her thoughts.

May 21 and May 22

Oops! I missed a day.

In my defense, I was on the road, on my way home from a five day writer’s retreat. What an amazing time. Sixteen members of my local writer’s group in an amazing hotel where all we had to do was write. I managed 25000 words – or half of my next novel – plus having it all plotted out in those five days and I am ecstatic with that. But today, it’s back to reality – laundry, grocery shopping, bills to pay, piles of work to catch up on. All that adult stuff I put off for my special time with good friends and my stories. So… first adult thing on the list – catch up on my blogs. 🙂

May 21
Today is National Memo Day, National Waiters and Waitresses Day, and the birthday of Dante Alighieri, Alexander Pope, Harold Robbins, Robert Creeley

Tip: Make your reader care about your characters. If s/he can say “so what?”, you’ve lost them as a reader.

Thought: “Writing a novel is a terrible experience, during which the hair often falls out and the teeth decay.” – Flannery O’Connor

Teaser: Things seem to be missing around your house. An old t-shirt here, some food there. Nothing major, just little things. But it keeps happening. Who or what is taking your stuff and what is he/she/it doing with it?

May 22
Today is Buy a Musical Instrument Day, Goth Day and the birthday of Arthur Conan Doyle, Peter Matthiessen

Tip: Try not to overuse long paragraphs. Break them up and give your readers eyes a rest. White space is a good thing.

Thought: “To write a book is a task needing only pen, ink and paper; to print a book is rather more difficult, because genius often expresses itself illegibly; to read a book is more difficult still, for one has to struggle with sleep; but to sell a book is the most difficult task of all.” – Frank Mumny

Teaser: Write a one-line sentence that describes what you would like to accomplish as a writer in the next five years. Be specific – and realistic.

May 20

Today is Armed Forces Day (third Saturday of month), Be a Millionaire Day, Pick Strawberries Day, and the birthday of Honore de BalzacGardner FoxAnnie M.G. SchmidtWolfgang BorchertDouglas PrestonDan Abrams,

Tip: If you’re writing in first person, remember that *everything* has to be in their point of view. You can’t have us learning anything from someone else unless your main character knows it too.

Thought: “Planning to write is not writing. Outlining … researching … talking to people about what you’re doing, none of that is writing. Writing is writing.” –  E.L. Doctorow

Teaser: This is National Be a Millionaire Day and you’ve just won the lottery. What’s the first thing you’ll do?

May 19

Today is Boy’s Club Day, National Bike to Work Day, and the birthday of Jim Lehrer, Lorraine Hansberry, Nora Ephron

Tip: Don’t forget about body language when in a scene. Give us dialogue, but also give us a “look” at the characters. Have an angry person shove past a stranger on the street. Show the character slumping to the floor as the love interest leaves. Show us how they’re feeling.

Thought: “No one can write a best seller by trying to. He must write with complete sincerity; the clichés that make you laugh, the hackneyed characters, the well-worn situations, the commonplace story that excites your derision, seem neither hackneyed, well worn nor commonplace to him…. The conclusion is obvious: you cannot write anything that will convince unless you are yourself convinced. The best seller sells because he writes with his heart’s blood.” –  W. Somerset Maugham

Teaser: You’ve been asked to do a workshop for a local writer’s group – what would you do one on?

May 18

Today is International Museum Day, No Dirty Dishes Day, Visit Your Relatives Day, and the birthday of Omar Khayyam, Bertrand Russell, Patrick Dennis, Diane Duane

Tip: A story should make your reader “feel” something – anger, love, fear, etc. – make sure you’re drawing on emotions. If you’re not feeling it, neither will your reader.

Thought: “If you write fiction you are, in a sense, corrupted. There’s a tremendous corruptibility for the fiction writer because you’re dealing mainly with sex and violence. These remain the basic themes, they’re the basic themes of Shakespeare whether you like it or not.” –  Anthony Burgess

Teaser: On this date in 1980, Mt. St. Helen’s erupted, coating the northwest in ash and soot. Imagine you character was there. What did s/he do? Where did s/he go? Or didn’t s/he?

May 17

Today is Pack Rat Day and the birthday of Dorothy Richardson, Gary Paulsen, Eloise Greenfield

Tip: Who is your story about and what is his/her problem? Give your story focus so it has a point. Don’t just write about day-to-day happenings. Make your reader become interested in what’s going on. Leave the “yadda, yadda, yadda” to Seinfeld.

Thought: “Do we write books so that they shall merely be read? Don’t we also write them for employment in the household? For one that is read from start to finish, thousands are leafed through, other thousands lie motionless, others are jammed against mouseholes, thrown at rats, others are stood on, sat on, drummed on, have gingerbread baked on them or are used to light pipes.” – G.C. Lichtenberg

Teaser: Someone has vandalized your neighborhood. All the neighbors are talking about it. Since you fashion yourself as an amateur sleuth, you set out to see who’s doing it. When you find out, you are shocked. So who is it? And why is s/he doing the damage?

May 16

Today is Love a Tree Day, National Sea Monkey Day, Wear Purple for Peace Day, and the birthday of  Adrienne Rich, Bruce Coville, Douglas Southall FreemanStuds Terkel

Tip: Make a list of ten publishers or agents to send your latest work to. Do your homework – don’t just pick names out of a list. Study the guidelines and only submit to those who work with your type of writing.

Thought: “Writing free verse is like playing tennis with the net down.” – Robert Frost

Teaser: What event or person would you never want to write about? Why?

May 15 – birthday of L. Frank Baum

Today is National Chocolate Chip Day, Police Officer’s Memorial Day, and the birthday of L. Frank Baum, Katherine Anne Porter, Paul Zindel, Mary MontaguArthur SchnitzlerXavier HerbertMax FrischNancy GardenLaura Hillenbrand

Tip: Don’t add a main character or even at the end of the story that solves everyone’s problems – that’s cheating your reader and is bad form. Anyone who’s at the end should also be at the beginning. Especially if they’re important to the solution.

Thought: “Writing is conscience, scruple, and the farming of our ancestors.” – Edward Dahlberg

Teaser: Today is the birthday of L. Frank Baum. He was a prolific writer, but his most famous work is The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Most people only know this story through the movie, but there is an entire series of works set in this fantastic world. If you were a character in an Oz book, who would you be? Why? What would you do? Create an Oz character and write a short scene with this character.

May 14

Happy Mother’s Day to those who care for children, whether they be mother, father, grandparent, or other caregiver. And to those “mothers” who will never be one, may you find some happiness in today as well.

Today is Dance Like a Chicken Day, Mother’s Day (second Sunday in May), and the birthday of Hal Borland,

Tip: The first page should introduce major characters, the setting, and the story question (what’s going on). If your first pages start with backstory (what happened before your story took place), you’ll lose your readers fast. Backstory can be added in later, not at the beginning.

Thought: “Most writers write badly because they tell us not only their thoughts but also the thinking of their thoughts.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

Teaser: Use the following in a scene: tickertape, okapi, ballroom, “You’ve been chosen…”

May 13

Today is Birth Mother’s Day (Saturday before Mother’s Day), Frog Jumping Day, International Migratory Bird Day (second Saturday in May), Leprechaun Day, National Train Day and the birthday of Daphne Du Maurier, Roger Zelazny, Francine Pascal, Rachel IngallsAlphonse DaudetLeighton GageArmistead MaupinMarv WolfmanCharles Baxter

Tip: What is the conflict in your story? (And yes, there should be some). Figure out what the problem is, make it worse, up the ante, and make it look like things are going to fail before you bring them all out on the other side.

Thought: “In a mood of faith and hope my work goes on. A ream of fresh paper lies on my desk waiting for the next book. I am a writer and I take up my pen to write.” – Pearl Buck

Teaser: Write a short story where all the action happens during a dark and stormy night.