Sunday, November 24, 2013

Common Core: Basics and Opportunities

Everyone is talking about the Common Core Standards: it's implementation means nonfiction is up and coming. Not being a librarian or teacher, I didn't know more than that, and thought I should.  I delved in, and discovered some useful resources and emerging opportunities.

Common Core Goal 
“To align instruction…so that many more students than at present can meet the requirements of college and career readiness.”   
Sounds like a worthy goal, but what does that mean for me as a writer?

Read more!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Favorite Writing Tips

Nathan Bransford's contest to win a Kindle in honor of his new book How to Write a Novel is over, but he's published many of the "Favorite Writing Tips" he received as contest entries.

I quoted Lela, the winner, in my comment to J.A's post last Wednesday: "Write. Write poorly, but WRITE."

But there are other gems . . .

Read more!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


I've started NaNoWriMo a few times before, but never got further than around 5000 words. This year, I'm still behind, but I've written 14,046 words. If I write just under 2000 words a day, I can finish on time.

But do I still want to?

Read more!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Making Time to Write

I do a lot of my writing when I'm inspired. An idea takes hold of me and I just can't stop writing.

This is a very fun kind of writing to do.  My writing tends to just flow.

But I often don't dedicate nearly as much time to writing as I would like to do. Life keeps getting in the way.

Recently I was able to dedicate one evening a week just to writing. An evening to myself! When I could focus all my time on writing. It sounded like heaven. But...

Read more!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Falling in Love

I asked my husband at dinner, what's your favorite character in literature? After convincing him that Alfred Sloan ("My years at General Motors") was not what I was looking for, he came up with Faust. He said, "I like characters with whom I can identify."

Granted, I could understand Sloan (my husband is a linear businessman) and not so much Faust (my husband is not that consummate a businessman, selling his soul, etc., but at least he picked a character with hopes and faults; in this instance, faults too great to save his soul.

Creating a sympathetic main character or characters is the writer's biggest challenge. Somewhere between nice and nasty is a good beginning…you want your reader to like her, and yet if the heroine is too nice, your reader will figure that there is no point in reading further. Nothing of interest is going to happen. Too nasty, and the reader will also lose interest. Newspapers have more to offer.

The writer must create is a heroine who knows what she wants, but whose human weaknesses prevent her from achieving them…initially. As a reader we want to be one step ahead of the heroine. We want to see her mistakes, to say, "wait, that's not such a smart move"  And we want to cheer her on when she finally makes the right choice. In the end, we want to identify completely with her, to fall in love a little with her even. And when the book ends, we want to find it hard to say goodbye.

Read more!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

They Come to Me for Nonfiction Now

At our meeting last month, a topic that came up was the issue of using a nonfiction author's note with a fiction text. As Gale noted, it's possible that her offer to include map skills with a fiction submission helped get it accepted, but the her short tale retelling was a pleasure to read, so we really don't know. Anyway, I offered to post my two cents, for whatever it's worth, here, on how I see Common Core affecting publishing and the use of nonfiction texts in schools. I don't purport to be an expert on this, but I have about ten years of recommending, and selecting children's books and this is what I have come up with:

Read more!