Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Kiss and Tell, Not Show and Tell

It is almost mistletoe season, so pucker up.  Kisses are wonderful, powerful even, and are especially important in YA literature.  But how to write those all important kissing scenes?  Here's a few sites that just might help your characters to lock lips.'s-in-a-kiss.

Warning this last site is a bit steamy!!!

A short summary:

1. Be somewhat descriptive & include the five senses
2. Show not tell (give us the character's POV)
3. Give us the meaning behind the kiss (POV can help with this)
4, Most of all - Have fun!

Happy Writing!!!

Kiss and Tell, not Show and Tell

It is almost mistletoe season, so pucker up.  Kisses are powerful, especially in YA Literature.  Here's a couple of sites to get your characters to lock lips.'s-in-a-kiss

Basically the sum of the three articles is that the initial kiss is so important because this kiss is how couples gather information about one another and that any further kissing is important because that is how the couples bond and build on their relationship.

Even if it is puppy love - kissing is important.

So have your characters slow down, breathe, and enjoy.  Your readers will also enjoy the slowed pace and some of the extra details. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Plotting the Mystery: Helpful Link Roundup

I'm about 10,000 words into my new work-in-progress, a YA mystery. This is a departure from my usual sci-fi/fantasy bent (although it does have a speculative element, because I really can't help myself), so I found myself at something of a loss when it was time to plot the novel.
Where to turn? The internet, of course! Here are some of the most helpful resources I found online for plotting mysteries.

1. Dramatic Structure and Plot, by Hallie Ephron for
This extremely useful overview of mystery writing gives you some of the basics, like giving your sleuth a hard time and how to write a hook-y opening. The list at the end of cliché endings to avoid is especially helpful.

2. 5 Tips for Plotting a Mystery, by Pamela Fagan Hutchins
The first piece of advice here (start with an end and work toward a beginning) gave me my first aha! moment in my novel plotting. I figured out my climactic scene and the big reveal of whodunit, then worked backward. That made it much easier to flesh out the beginning and middle of the story.

3. Understanding the Essentials of Writing a Murder Mystery, by Bronwyn Hemus
Having read quite a few mysteries, I knew a progression of clues was a must, but I was foggy on how that worked, exactly. This article discusses the importance of feeding the reader clues that aren't obvious, but that could be followed to arrive at the solution to the mystery in retrospect (easier said than done, but at least I know that I should be doing it...)

And, just for fun...

4. Mystery Plot Generator
This mad-libs style blurb generator is perfect when you're stuck on some aspect of your plot and need some comic relief. My favorite part is the automatically generated critics' reviews—brilliant! :-)

Happy plotting!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Ten Things to Do When You're LOSING YOUR MIND During NanoWriMo

If you are still hanging in there during NaNoWriMo, CONGRATS! (you are seriously amazing. To make it this far is really really hard) This is also often when it gets even more challenging to push through and keep going so here are some ideas to help you refresh and make it to your goal. 

10. Breathe. Seriously. Inhale, count to ten, exhale. Repeat 5-10 times.

Face mask reward= good for sleepless skin

9. Bribe yourself. What will you get when you hit your word count? Bubble bath? McDonalds drive-thru french fries? An episode of The Big Bang Theory? Finally try out that soothing facial mud mask you got in Birchbox last month?

8. Take a ten minute walk around your block, and notice your setting. Dostoevsky took long walks most days when he was writing Crime and Punishment, and it turned out pretty well for him.
Walking at sunset isn't a bad idea

7. Find a picture of your someone who looks like your ideal reader and put it next to your screen so that you can look at him/her and remember why you're writing the book to begin with. What does he/she need to hear? Why does he/she need you to complete this book?

6. Read one paragraph from the writer you most admire. Notice what you love about his/her writing, and get excited about trying to infuse that in your draft.

5. Chocolate. That is all.
Or get a hot chocolate in nature :)

4.Throw something. If you want to be mature, you can play a bit of catch, but when I'm really frustrated, I like to find a blank wall and throw unbreakable objects at it until the frustration turns into comedy.

3. Get in nature. Look at beautiful pictures of nature. Watch a web cam of nature. If the Pandas are sleeping, check out wolves or birds or something else beautiful from one of the cameras on these sites  Maybe consider the ways your characters are animals and the ecosystem in which they operate and riff on that for a bit.

2. Go on Twitter and challenge someone to a one-hour word-count write-off. Use the hashtag #amwriting or #nanowrimo and see if anyone bites.

1. Dance Party!!!!! This is by far my favorite. I throw a record on (yes. I like my T. Swift better on vinyl) and jump around in socks as much as I can for the duration of a single song. It gets my blood flowing, and makes me feel like I can do anything in life if I choose the right song. By the time the song is over I'm ready to dive back in.

Good luck, and remember, YOU CAN DO THIS. For every page you've written so far, I'm proud of you, I believe in you, and I wish you all the best. 



Monday, November 16, 2015

YA Book Pick: Popular: A Memoir by Maya Van Wagenen

Once a month we choose an outstanding YA book to review.  We want to spotlight books of interest to aspiring writers, as well as highlight some of our favorite books and authors.

This month's book is Popular: A Memoir by Maya Van Wagenen.  Maya is a teen author and thus has a refreshing point-of-view.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Stuck near the bottom of the social ladder at "pretty much the lowest level of people at school who aren't paid to be here," Maya has never been popular.  But before starting eight grade, she decides to begin a unique social experiment:  spend the school year following a 1950s popularity guide, written by former teen model Betty Cornell.  The real-life results are hilarious, painful, and filled with unexpected surprises - but through it all, Maya's positive approach helps her to reveal a new understanding of self-confidence, kindness, and acceptance.

First line: "School is the armpit of life," my best friend Kenzie once told me.  Amen.

Highlights:  The book is fun, entertaining, and hilarious.  Maya has such a strong voice and really opens up to her readers and pretty much holds nothing back.  In addition, to have such an authentic, raw quality, the book also has an even stronger message on what it means to be "popular."  Some critics doubt that a teenage writer could be this wise and write so well, but then what published book hasn't been reshaped and polished by countless helpful hands?!  Don't most books pass through a series of Beta Readers, agents, and editors?  Whatever the case, this book does shine - its both funny and insightful. 

Notes for Writers:  Voice. Definitely the voice.  Maya also provides a great message along with her story, but this book's strongest attribute is the voice. 

A great read for:  YA and tween girls and their parents.  Boys would learn much from the book as well, but some of the subjects are just too girlie.  I would say this is a good book for girls entering Junior High and even High School.  Wish I could have had a book like this for when my eldest went to school.  At our school, the "popular" girls were asked to buy Michael Kors purses and carry their lunches in brown paper bags.  This book will help to put some of this into perspective.