The rest of February

I have some nasty deadlines looming, a conference to attend, and am in desperate need of a little down time, so… you can find the rest of February under “15 Minutes to Write” in my pages. 🙂  Enjoy.


February 17

Today is the birthday of Gustavo Becquer (Spanish poet), Andrew Paterson (Australian journalist, poet), Dorothy Fisher (novelist), Margaret Truman (mysteries), Chaim Potok (novelist), Ruth Rendell (British mystery writer)

Tip: Do not add new characters or plot lines in the last third of your book. If they weren’t there in the beginning or middle, they shouldn’t be there in the end.

Thought: “I have rewritten – often several times – every word I have ever published. My pencils outlast their erasers.” – Vladimir Nabokov

Teaser: You’re inside an elevator and the doors won’t open. What’s worse, you’re claustrophobic. What do you do? Is there anyone with you?

February 16

Today is the birthday of Wilhelm Heinse (German novelist), Herny Adams (historian), Van Wyck Brooks (historian), Hal Poeter (Australian short stories), Richard Ford (novelist, sportswriter, Pulitzer Prize)

Tip: Switch writing gears. Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper or an article for your local writer’s group newsletter. The change of pace can revitalize you.

Thought: “…write in the kitchen, lock yourself up in the bathroom. Write on the bus or the welfare line, on the job or during meals…” – Gloria Anzaldua

Teaser: Make a list of titles you like. Why do you like them? Now make a list of titles for your own stories.

February 15

Today is the birthday of Normal Bridwell (Clifford the Big Red Dog and other children’s books), Sax Rohmer (mystery author), Herman Kahn (political writer), Susan Brownmiller (feminist author)

Tip: Watch out for desert/dessert. Rappel/repel and other similar-sounding words. These aren’t exactly homonyms. For desert/dessert – the easy way to remember is that “dessert” with two esses is something you would like more of. It’s the treat at the end of a meal. But with one “s”, someone dumped you (deserted) in the middle of the Sahara. Not fun.

Thought: “I think best with a pencil in my hand.” – Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Teaser: On February 15, 1946, the first digital computer, ENIAC, was dedicated in Philadelphia, PA. Many of us have a love/hate relationship with technology. Imagine you will be moving to a place where you are allowed only five electronic devices. What can you not live without? Remember, stoves, refrigerators and washers are all electrically based appliances – even gas powered one have electronic starters. Also, for many people, electric pumps bring in water from private wells. Think carefully. And you need electricity to power computers and tablets as well as phones.

It’s Out!!!

My new non-fiction book on building worlds for writers is now available in both print and ebook format. It’s only fifty pages – but those fifty pages are packed with information on how to build your own worlds when writing fiction. Each section steps you through questions that, when answered, will give you a world beyond imagination. You can get it at Amazon. For only six bucks, it’s a bargain. 🙂

world-building-coverAmazon Kindle  Amazon paperback

February 12

Tip: Read something silly. Get your mind off your WIP and let someone else’s words inspire you. Don’t analyze, don’t critique, don’t make notes. Just relax and read.

Thought: “It is good to have an end to journey towards; but it is the journey that matters in the end.” – Ursula LeGuin

Teaser: This is Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. Your modern character has dropped back in time to meet him. Will s/he meet Abraham as a boy? A teen? Or the man? Before or after he is elected president? Where will they meet and how? Knowing your character cannot change his death, what words of advice will s/he impart?

February 11

Tip: Go for a walk or do other exercise for at least ten minutes – more is better. Medical studies have shown that people who regularly exercise have denser, more active brain matter than those who don’t. Plus, the break will do you good. Sometimes as authors, we forget about our bodies—and brains. Often a short break will stimulate and refresh you so you can go back to work feeling renewed.

Thought: “Books are the carriers of civilization…. They are companions, teachers, magicians, bankers of the treasures of the mind. Books are humanity in print.” – Barbara W. Tuchman

Teaser: Your character finds a genii, but instead of three wishes, she can have only one. What does she wish for and why? What happens?

February 10

Tip: It’s okay to use sentence fragments in fiction writing. But be careful not to overuse them. They can make for choppy writing.

Thought: “Good ideas aren’t hard to come by. Good writing is.” – Paul Martin

Teaser: Write a list of favorite phrases and “swear” words your character would use. When would s/he use them? Why?

February 9

Tip: Make sure your pronouns are referring to the person you want them to. In the sentence: John called Tom every day while he was away. The “he” is vague. Who is it referring to? John? Or Tom? Who was away? Technically, a pronoun refers to the last person mentioned, in this case, Tom. But what if it was John who was gone? A better way to write it would be: While John was away, he called Tom every day. Or, if Tom was away: While Tom was away, he called John every day.

Thought: “You will never overcome your fear that your writing is insipid or incomprehensible or trivial – write in spite of the fear.” – Paul Martin

Teaser: Your heroine hears something scratching in her walls. What is it? How does she react? What does she do?

February 8

Tip: “Try and” vs. “try to”: the correct usage is “try to”. Don’t “try and” do something. You can try “to” do it, but not try and.

Thought: “See life as it is, but write about life as it might be.” – P. M. Martin

Teaser: Make a list of every place you’ve been in the past twenty-four hours. Describe each location in detail and the feelings associated with it. If you’ve not been anywhere, pick the last time you went somewhere and describe that. Now, put your character there.