Monday, May 29, 2017

Character Questionnaire

When writing a story, it is useful to have an outline of your character on paper.  Here's an example of one that I've used before.

Name:                                                                                    Age:                                                                                                        
Height:                                                                                   Weight:

Fitness level:

Eye color:                                                                               Hair color:

Distinguishing Features:

Schooling:                                                                              Background:



Quirks:                                                                                    Bad Habits:

Pet peeves:


Beliefs:                                                                                    Fears:

Things embarrassed by:


Likes:                                                                                      Dislikes:

The list can actually go on and on, but these are the ones I usually answer right away and use to start my writing process.

For a more comprehensive list, pinterest has some good examples or check out books like Marc McCutcheon's Building Believable Characters which includes many useful ways to develop characters.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Author Victoria Scott Shares Her 13 Foolproof Steps to Publication + a Giveaway!

I'm thrilled to welcome Violet Grenade author Victoria Scott to Thinking to Inking. We asked Victoria to share her publishing advice with us and I have to's brilliant.

Make sure you scroll to the bottom of this post to learn more about Violet Grenade and to enter for a chance to win a copy!

Victoria Scott’s 13 Foolproof Steps to Publication

1)   Start writing a book.

2) Firmly believe it’s a future bestseller. Mortgage a place by the sea. No worries. You’ll have the money for it soon.

3) Reach the middle of the book. Start to wonder if it’s quite the bestseller you initially believed.

4) Reach the end. Start to wonder if life is worth living.

5) Show the books to beta readers. Incorporate their “constructive” feedback. Then plot their demise.

6) Show the book to your mom, because at least she recognizes your sheer genius.

7) Query your book to agents.

8) Create a list of reasons why agents suck.

9) Get a call from an agent who likes your book and wants to represent you.

10) Destroy ‘Agents Suck’ list.

11) Wonder if life is worth living while your agent tries to sell your book. Decide it is. Who needs to be published? Published people are stupid. Start another list about this.

12) Get a call saying an editor likes your book. Learn that are being published. Rejoice. Buy champagne. Make lists of all the things you will buy with your royalties.

13) Start writing another book, because shit just got real.

About Violet Grenade
Violet Grenade by Victoria Scott
Publication Date:  May 2, 2017
Publisher:  Entangled Teen

DOMINO: A girl with blue hair and a demon in her mind.

CAIN: A stone giant on the brink of exploding.

MADAM KARINA: A woman who demands obedience.

WILSON: The one who will destroy them all.

When Madam Karina discovers Domino in an alleyway, she offers her a position inside her home for entertainers in secluded West Texas. Left with few alternatives and an agenda of her own, Domino accepts. It isn’t long before she is fighting her way up the ranks to gain the madam’s approval. But after suffering weeks of bullying and unearthing the madam’s secrets, Domino decides to leave. It’ll be harder than she thinks, though, because the madam doesn’t like to lose inventory. But then, Madam Karina doesn’t know about the person living inside Domino’s mind. Madam Karina doesn’t know about Wilson

About Victoria Scott

Victoria Scott is the acclaimed author of eight books for young adults. Her novels are sold in fourteen
different countries, and she loves receiving fan mail from across the world. Victoria loves high fashion, big cities, and pink cotton candy. You can find her online at

Giveaway Details:
Signed paperback of The Collector, a signed paperback of Titans, and a signed galley of Hear the Wolves.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Do You Really Need a Short Pitch for a Conference?

This post from the BookEnds Literary Agency blog was shared around last week: Why Authors Need to Dump the Elevator Pitch. The dreaded "elevator pitch" is suggested in most conference preparation materials as essential—what if you happen to be walking down a hotel hallway with an agent, or standing in the buffet line, or in an elevator together? Surely you'd want to have a few sentence pitch for your book so you wouldn't waste the golden opportunity?
Well, I couldn't agree with the post above more. If you're feeling exhausted after a few days of the conference, imagine how it must be for the faculty. You might want a few-sentence pitch for the new friends you're going to meet at the conference, but definitely not for agents. If they want to hear about your book, they'll ask—and if you've gotten to that point, trust me, you'll have more than a few sentences to get their attention.

It basically comes down to the reminder that agents are people too. If you wouldn't like to be accosted by endless streams of people stammering out elevator pitches while you're on the way to the bathroom, or to your hotel room to lie down for ten minutes before the next round of pitches and classes, then why would you do it to someone else?

If you're planning to attend a writer's conference this summer, we have a series of conference survival tips here on the blog that can help you put your best foot forward!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

From Summer to College and Beyond

Summer is fast approaching now.  Vacation time!! Woohoo!
Pools, parties, and popsicles.
Maybe a little light reading and maybe a little writing or at least journaling.

For me, my summer writing will take a different direction this year.  It is time to start thinking Common App or the college essay.  Time for me to get creative about myself - kinda like author bio.  I won't be following same format, but I will be trying to think along those lines.

So what can I take from author bio to apply to my writing?

Voice of course.
Humor  for sure.
Include just the details that apply to the situation.
Word count.
And my own personal motto?  Keep it real.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Book Signings for Future Readers

I never got into book signings until later in life. As a child, it never occurred to me that this was a thing. Having been in the writing industry for a number of years, I now enjoy a good signing. It's a chance to meet authors face to face (if only briefly). Even in short time periods, you get a sense of an author's sincerity and authenticity. 

Now that I'm a mom with a rambunctious almost-three-year-old, I've asked authors to sign books to the future him. It's been remarkable to see award winning writers write cool notes to the little guy. Hopefully these will inspire him one day. 

Here are a few:

Animals Anonymous, Richard Michelson, award-winning poet

Mountains Beyond Mountains, Tracy Kidder, Pulitzer Prize Winner, Non-Fiction

The Sympathizer, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Pulitzer Prize Winner, Fiction

A Brief History of Seven Killings, Marlon James, Man Booker Prize Winner, Fiction

Animals Anonymous by Richard Michelson Autograph
Animals Anonymous by Richard Michelson Book Cover

Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder Autograph

A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James Book CoverA Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James Autograph

Monday, May 1, 2017

How Reading Outside Your Genre Can Help Your Writing

I try to always be reading a middle grade or young adult book (since these are the two age groups for which I write). Reading widely in your chosen age group and genre is essential for anyone who wants to be a published author. This way, you can see how successful (published) writers tackle subjects and get examples of writing that resonates with the target audience.

As I mentioned in my last post, though, my family just completed a cross-country move. During the weeks of disruption, I really needed some comfort reading—something I didn't have to think about or analyze—so I turned to several of my favorite dog-eared women's fiction novels.

It was surprisingly enlightening. Even though these books were obviously written for adults, with plenty of bad language, violence, and even a sex scene or two, they shared many elements with my kidlit favorites. The writing is spare, without any unnecessary words or overly flowery descriptions. Witty asides are just as funny for kids as for adults. And my favorite characters were fully developed, with believable motivations and understandable reactions.

I'm going back to my writing with a renewed sense of what's important. Although I'm going to be switching back to MG/YA for a while, I'll try to read outside my usual age groups more often. Good writing is good writing, no matter where it's shelved in the bookstore.