Finish The Story…Writing Prompt

Finish the story and submit it to us…we’ll choose our favourite and it will be featured on our website with your name and pic! Good Luck!

Even though I was surrounded by the immense beauty of this place, I felt violated, ugly and insecure. The contrast of being in such a religious place and having something so wrong happen to me was more than I could bear. Surely people practice what they preach here….Don’t they? I began to cry; tears of frustration fell over me and I’ve never felt more alone in the world than at this very second. An old man placed his hand on my shoulder and his translator told me what he was saying, “Why do you cry?” he asked gently.  I was wary to answer but told him the truth, that I had been robbed of everything I had. He looked at me with a smile, “This is the most important lesson to learn; Until we practice good in our lives, our world will continue to be at war, brothers will continue to kill their brothers, mothers will continue to forsake their children, people will continue to steal and cheat and lie.” “But this is what our purpose is- to spread the word that it can get better; I am not anti-war, I am pro-peace.” In that second I felt a wave wash over my soul that I cannot explain. I looked at the old man’s wrinkled skin and into his warm brown eyes. We were connected by his words, by his heart and by his spirit of love.

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Writing Prompt…

Guided Pen…

Use any or all of the words from this mornings guided pen exercise to create a short story.

  • angels
  • heaven
  • guidance
  • guardian
  • wings
  • clouds
  • freedom
  • song
  • breathe
  • stretch
  • energy
  • music
  • physical
  • spiritual
  • love
  • eternal
  • bridge

Be sure to do your own guided pen frequently. It helps with the brainstorming process and allows you to see words or ideas that you may not have used or thought about using.

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Quick Tips for Writers…

Here’s a list of resources and ideas that you can implement on your journey to perfecting your craft, publishing and networking.

  1. Read newsletters- Read any newsletter you can get your hands on, they offer a wealth of information in terms of new info and updates on publishers. Two examples of great newsletters are Children’s Writer and Children’s Book Insider.
  2. Read Guidelines-Never send anything to anyone without reading the specified guidelines…otherwise, you’re just wasting your time and your manuscript could end up in the recycle bin.
  3. Visit Bookstores-Check out current issues magazines in your genre and ask about what’s new in store. Find out what kids and adults are buying. Spend some time studying what the bestsellers are and why.
  4. Use the Internet-There is SO much valuable information available to writers on the internet! Visit blogs, social networking, e-mail other writers and sign up for writing groups on-line. This will keep you on the pulse of the writing world and you’ll be able to do some self promotion as well.
  5. Attend a Writing Workshop/Conference-These are SO FUN! I’ve been to a few over the past couple of months and have met some great people who are really talented. Workshops and conferences offer a chance to connect with other writers and to have your work critiqued. It is invaluable in terms of gaining insight into what’s working and what’s not in your current manuscript. Plus, you never know who can help you and who you can help in terms of networking.
  6. Network-Get yourself together with as many like minded people and great things will happen. You could meet the right contact who know the perfect illustrator for your book, or perhaps you’ll meet someone who can offer editing services, or you might just meet a publisher or agent that can take your book all the way to the top!

Most of all, enjoy being an author; It’s one of the greatest freedoms in the world to be able to tell your story in your own way.

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Network! You never know who you’ll meet…

Writing Exercise…

Today’s writing exercise is to write a setting  based on the most beautiful place you’ve ever seen. This should be really fun! Here’s a sample of some descriptive words that could be used:

  • alluring
  • appealing
  • charming
  • dazzling
  • serene
  • gorgeous
  • tranquil
  • splendid
  • stunning
  • superb
  • breathtaking
  • radiant
  • magnificent
  • glorious

The ocean was a breathtaking shade of blue. The alluring sound of the waves lapped at the shore as I gazed into the tranquil sunset that was stunning colours of orange and pink.

See what you can come up with and use descriptive words to give your story some depth and transport the reader to the most beautiful place you’ve ever seen.

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Guided Pen Exercise…

This morning I woke up early and did my guided pen exercise. I sat with a cup of coffee at the dining room table with a notebook and pen and closed my eyes; I listened to the silence and waited for thoughts to flow into my mind. Remember when you do this to let the words develop organically, don’t force anything and don’t edit. There are no good or bad thoughts-just ideas that may potentially create an idea for your next best seller.

Here’s my list:

  • happiness
  • bliss
  • follow your bliss
  • birds, nature, spring, cheer
  • yellow, renewal, rebirth
  • breathing, focus, meditation
  • enlightenment, emptying, purging
  • just be, stop trying so hard
  • health, vibrancy, flowers, gardens
  • butterflies, cocoon, guidance, sail boat
  • love, loyalty, look inside for strength, happiness doesn’t depend on others
  • fulfilment, stop trying to achieve happiness and go with the flow
  • follow the omens
  • stop trying to make things happen and let them develop as they should
  • listen to your inner voice

So as you can see I have a lot of information here but how can I turn it into a potential story?

A few examples could be; A woman is transformed like a beautiful butterfly when she emerges from the cocoon of dependency, she left her husband and started on a journey to find herself. Or a story about a young person who followed the omens to find their bliss in another part of the world. A story about how someone’s life changed because they got rid of everything that made them unhappy, they sold their home and belongings and went on a quest for enlightenment and found everything they ever wanted which was just to be happy.

You get the point, there is so much that we can do with the guided pen exercise and it’s all how you interpret the meanings of the words you’ve written. I encourage you to do the guided pen exercise once a week or whenever you’re stuck for ideas.
Happy Writing!

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True or False?..

Does writer’s block really exist or is it just a writer’s way of being lazy, unmotivated or distracted? My personal opinion is that it’s the latter. We’ve all been there at one point or another in our writing careers and we know that some days are harder to write than others. I find the only time I get writer’s block is when I’m distracted; pick up any paper, or scroll through any news feed and there are hundreds of headlines that prick at your imagination and problem solved! You can and should write about anything because it keeps you in a routine and allows you to further develop your craft. Here are a few examples of  actual headlines that I’ve seen that might spark a thought or two…

  • Woman switched at birth reunites with her mother who is her co-worker
  • Man survives lightning strike only to be hit again
  • Lotto winner loses fortune
  • Bird stops roller-coaster leaves riders hanging upside down for 20 minutes
  • Car stolen with three month baby inside
  • Computer algorithm detects drunk Tweeting
  • 91 year old finally earns PHD 30 years after starting
  • Pet stolen from front garden finds way back home 1 year after disappearance
  • Conference interrupted by protesters
  • Cat Burglar (an actual cat and a true story!) obsessed with men’s underwear steals 61 socks and pants in two month span
  • Man builds the world’s fastest shed

It’s hard to believe that the above examples are true but I assure you they are! The point is that there is no such thing as writer’s block-go to the mall and watch people, listen to a conversation happening beside you in the doctor’s office, listen to the news and headlines, read the paper, surf the web and talk to neighbours…you’ll have more than enough ideas to work with! Try it and get the wheels turning again.Feel free to use the headlines as an excellent writing exercise. Happy Writing!

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How to get published…

In the last post we talked about how to get rejected…let’s focus on the positive in this post and speak on how to get published!

  • BE ORIGINAL-Publishers want fresh ideas that stand out! This INCLUDES a re-telling of an old story in a fresh and original way! Look at all the remakes happening right now…
  • Use Charm, Humour, Satire-The Simpsons is a perfect example of satire and how to use it properly. Be charming, be funny and be yourself!
  • Use Playfulness-Write something totally outrageous like I want an elephant for my birthday and let the story get crazy…I wanted an elephant for my birthday so I went to the pet store…I brought the elephant home and let him sleep in my tree house… I cooked him 38 pancakes for breakfast the next day…etc. Make it BIGGER and BIGGER! A la mastermind Robert Munsch!
  • Be Sensible-When writing your query letter and don’t send things multiple times to the same publisher or to different agents in the same agency-keep track of your submissions.
  • We Need This Book-Write something SO dazzling that you make publishers say, “We NEED this book!”
  • Stay True-To yourself and to your writing, write what YOU want to write about!
  • Self Publish- If you have a story that you believe in TELL IT! Self publish and market it well and you could make and KEEP a lot of money.

Best of luck everyone…you don’t need luck, just write and write well!

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There will come a day…

How to get rejected…in 8 easy steps!

As authors, we are used to rejection. Sometimes the best thing that can happen to us is to get feedback from an agent or publisher that we’ve queried, but most of the time we don’t receive a response if it’s a rejection. Often we’re left wondering what we’ve done wrong or even worse, we keep doing things incorrectly without knowing anything is amiss. Here are some tips on how to get rejected! Read this list carefully…it could be a game changer in your writing life.

  1. Offer the agent or publisher advice on how to market your book-Umm, no. Just…no. How would you like it if someone told you how to do YOUR job? You wouldn’t and you’d be insulted.
  2. Say that you’ve, “tested” your manuscript on young readers-No one cares what your kids or nephew or family members think. If your book is bad no one you know is going to tell you.
  3. Your story doesn’t meet basic requirements such as length-This is so important to know! Read my previous posts about Writing for Kids and find out what the requirements are for each type of book. Don’t send a 3,000 word manuscript to a publisher that publishes YA unless you want to get rejected.
  4. Your story is poorly written-Self explanatory!  Your grammar is poor, your spelling is bad etc.
  5. Your story LACKS ORIGINALITY!-THIS IS HUGE! If your story is the same as everything out there in the market, you’ll be rejected. Publishers are looking for NEW, FRESH,  and ORIGINAL ideas that are exciting!
  6. The hero of your story is passive-Make your hero awesome! No parents should swoop in and save the day.The hero must ALWAYS be the one who solves the problem in your book.
  7. Your story offers an adult perspective-Kids don’t want to read a book that is from an adults point of view, they want someone they can relate to.
  8. You’re condescending-Don’t talk down to kids. Period. They’re intelligent and they should be written that way.

Tomorrow I’ll be posting about how to potentially get published! Look for the list and follow the steps for insight into the minds of publishers and agents.

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All About Books for Kids…Part 2

Yesterday’s post ended with us chatting about chapter books. Here is the continued list and information about books for kids.

  • Middle Grade-For kids in grades 4, 5 and 6 (ages 9, 10 and 11) and these break into diverse age groups. The groups are Younger Middle Grade and Older Middle Grade. Younger middle grade books are usually 20,000-25,000 words, while older middle grade books are 35,000-40,000 words. They are usually large print and a fast read.
  • Middle graders are particularly interested in their Peers, their Family (be careful with this one this one though-everything revolves around the main character child and how they see the world eg. divorce through their eyes), Who Am I? is a big concept and How do I belong? Puberty issues, their Looks and Development as well as opposite/same sex Relationships are things that start to come to the surface as well as the future and that means, who does the future depend on when it comes to your middle grade novel? The future depends on the main character.
  • Young Adult-For kids 12-17 years old, again these are divided into sub categories of younger YA and older YA. The younger ones are 12, 13, and 14 years old  and the older ones are 15, 16 and 17 years old.The length of YA novels is usually from 40,000 to 75,000 words. Here’s where the subject matter gets sticky. In the older YA, there are books that include sex, drugs, and alcohol. These books are issue oriented, they perhaps deal with body image or cutting or eating disorders etc.  The priorities change for this group as well-it’s Puberty, Looks and Relationships, Peers, Family, Self-Concept as in who they are or who they are going to be as an adult, Romance is usually a big factor and finally the Future.
  • Some of the problems in children’s literature are pleasing the parents AND the reader…until you get to the YA market that is! Young adults usually have their own money to spend on whatever books they want and they don’t really care what their parents think. Of course there is YA cross over and a fantastic example is Twilight. It’s a YA novel but a lot of adults read it. If you can write a novel that falls into this category, you will be HUGELY successful.

So there you have it! I hope this list was helpful and that you can use it to your advantage, happy writing.

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All About Books for Kids…Part 1

So what makes kid’s books kid’s books? Well for one thing they’re not for adults;) Books for kids are shorter, they are relevant to their interests and the book is portrayed through the child’s eyes in the way that they see the world. Kids grow quickly but luckily there is always a market for them. Let’s start with the different types:

  • Board Books-“Chewables” is essentially what they’re called. They usually have one word per page and that are the lines of, “Dog,” “Cat,” etc. These books don’t have a lot for a writer to do and are really based on illustrations.
  • Picture Books- 32 pages, 4 of them blank, first page is for a single illustration, 13 double illustrations and then a single illustration on the last page. These books typically start with the writer and then the publisher picks the illustrator.
  • Easy Reader- Teaches the child to read with around 23 words that are very repetitious. These books have the 3 R’s-Rhyme, Rhythm and Repetition! Children will be reading these books, not adults so keep the words easy and the syntax simple!
  • Chapter Books-Ah! Finally we get into the big little kids;) Grades 1-3, these kids are usually learning to read or already know how, but are not experienced. This type of book needs to be fairly simple and short. It is around 6,000 words total and consists of 10 chapters at 600 words each. All of the chapters need to be ACTION PACKED, with cliff hangers and NO BACK STORY! Leave out excessive description, leave out complexity and leave out too many characters. You need a VERY strong narrator. Leave Mom and Dad out of this and let the character be the hero of the story. Kids at this age are searching for independence and make sure you write things that they care about!

Check back tomorrow for Part 2 of All About Books for Kids!

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