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Carol’s Homework Assignment Post WIFYR 4

The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen12432220

“If I had to do it all over again, I would not have chosen this life. Then again, I’m not sure I ever had a choice.” Great opening line followed up by a furious chase as the MC runs off with a chunk of raw meat he stole from the butcher who is hot on his heels.

With this chase, the author has the perfect venue for giving us a great point of scene by including the sights and sound of the marketplace while the action keeps us in its grip.

We also discover Sage, the main character, is an orphan and that knowledge is imparted in a very slick way: it’s his target, his home base, where he knows he can find places to hide.

Then, of course, we have the butcher. There is some dialogue between the two, but mostly threats on the butcher’s part. So now we have two characters.

A man rescues Sage just as the butcher catches him and starts into beating and kicking him. His rescue is in the form of paying for the roast Sage stole with some extra cash for the trouble he caused. The man takes him to the orphanage where we find his name is Bevin Conner and he’s there to adopt Sage. Now there are three.

Last, but certainly not least, is Mrs. Turbeldy, the head of the Orphanage for Disadvantaged Boys. That makes four.

The number of characters introduced is one of those “just right” numbers. Every one of them helps move the story forward while giving us information and background in a straightforward and useful way. And it’s all done in eight pages.

There’s a lot of the first chapter I’m leaving out. A lot of information is presented in those few pages, but every word moves the story forward and that’s what it’s all about.

I’ll be studying this chapter at length, checking the tempo and beats, timing the flow. There’s a lot to be learned from this writing.


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Hello, again, Friends!

It’s been a long hiatus for the ABC Writers Guild, but I’m back with some new ideas.  First, and foremost, I wrote a blog recently for Carol Lynch Williams’ writers blog “Throwing Up Words” (If you want to be a writer, and you’re not following her blog, you SHOULD).  In the blog I mentioned a blog she’d put up a couple of days before where she offered 5 prompts for the coming week.  I’m in a situation where I NEED to “force” myself to keep at it, so I vowed to write all of her prompts, aimed at the book I’m currently working on.  I even went so far as to look at her site’s blogs of the past and harvested prompts from Carol, her partner AnnDeeCanDee, Cheryl (also writers there on Thursdays, like I do), and even got a few ideas from previous Writers Guild blogs.  I made a list long enough to write one daily for the whole month of April.  I’ve done all the ones to date, but had also promised to post the results.  As I have everything from March 29th on, I thought I’d give you a couple a day until I get caught up.

This whole project is to help make me “accountable” for doing the daily prompts and, more importantly, keep working on my book!  Knowing someone MIGHT be watching will be a huge incentive — so here are the first two for March 29 and 30 (more tomorrow . . . and tomorrow . . . and tomorrow. . .):

BB’s (possibly stolen) PROMPT FOR 3/29/15
Find the NaNo book I wrote 3 years ago (while going thru surgery for cancer, etc.) based on — I think — a Neil Gaiman poem. Wrote about it 11/21/12 in our ABC Writers Guild blog for a Wednesday’s WIPs.

YES! I DID IT! Turns out I’d written FAR LESS that year (what a surprise) than I’d thought: a 2 page synopsis and basis for the story. A short paragraph (5 lines) which must have been page 1 of chapter 1. A 3-page, marginally larger, synopsis and basis, a 2 page (well, a page and 3 more lines) Story Plan Worksheet. And 2 copies of Gaiman’s poem, one of them with characters names written into the left margin so I know which characters to insert and where. Copied all this over and ran it off, hole-punched it and placed it right behind my (March and) April Daily Writing Prompts in a brand new loose leaf.
Off to a good start!

BB’s (possibly stolen) PROMPT FOR 3/30/15
For a fun time, go to and read some of their fun, funny messages; Look at the crazy products which are available; Read their astonishing History; Look for any of my Writing Buddies.

YES! I DID IT! I checked up on messages from my new summer “cabin” of co-writers, wrote them a couple of brief messages. Read some old “how to get started” blogs from other years on starting a Month of Writing Dangerously. Their “History” is life/writing affirmation. Don’t know yet whether any of my “old” writing buddies are on line this time or not.

See you tomorrow! Brenda


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Spellbinder Saturday: Special Edition!

Welcome to The
Stone of Valhalla
Blog Tour!

A middle-grade fantasy-adventure by Mikey Brooks.
forget to check out the
GIVEAWAY at the bottom this post
for a
chance to
WIN a $25 Amazon
Gift card
and other great prizes!
Aaron was chosen to save their world, but it might come at the cost of losing his own.
Breaking into an old lady’s basement was supposed to reward 13-year-old Aaron with new friends. Instead he finds an enchanted amulet that transports him to another world—one at war with magic. Before he knows it, he is accused of witchcraft and invited to a bonfire—where he’s the main attraction. If that’s not bad enough, a goblin army shows up and toasts the town…literally. The good news: Aaron escapes being charbroiled. The bad news: the goblins are after him. They want his amulet and will stop at nothing to get it. Battling to find his way home, Aaron teams up with a not-so-magical-wizard and learns it’s his fate to destroy the amulet and save this new world. But is he willing to sacrifice his own?
Check out what these talented authors are saying about it:
The Stone of Valhalla is one of those books that only comes along once in a great while. Brooks doesn’t just create a world, he puts you inside of it, allowing you to experience the wonder in a way that only he can. His characters are likable and fun. His twists leave you asking ‘Why?’ Treat yourself to an exciting adventure through a beautiful new land. Make new friends and be a part of the magic. This is a book that you will not be able to put down!”
—J.R. Simmons,
author of Ragesong: Awakening.
 “The Stone of Valhalla drew me in from the get-go. Aaron’s journey is reminiscent of Dorothy’s trek in The Wizard of Oz. Magic, sword fights, danger, and more danger, sprinkled with humor and unexpected twists. This is one of the ‘best’ fantasy adventures I’ve
ever experienced!”
—BBH McChiller,
author of The Monster Moon Series.
The Stone of Valhalla is a riveting mystery revealing true friendship, loyalty and sacrifice. Brooks engages the curiosity of middle graders and older sleuths alike, until the very end. Fantastic!”
—L.R.W. Lee,
author of The Andy Smithson series.
I find myself in very good company in reviewing this book. As a matter of fact, who am I to be in this company reviewing this book? They have all said it better than I ever could. Get this book, read it, then give it to the kids.
H.E. Arnold,
Author of nothing, writer of many things
Excerpt From: Chapter Two: The Penalty of Witchcraft
Aaron thought he’d been transported to some kind of renaissance fair. People milled about in the street, all dressed like
they belonged on the set of some medieval movie. Most of their faces were stained with dirt, and they wore soiled clothing. Large, wooden buildings, held together by plaster, loomed overhead and all around him. Some had signs announcing specific trades and goods. The sweet smell of bread came from one shop, clearly a bakery. A rotund man stood out front, arguing with an old man who had a silvery- white beard and a long, purple cloak. He was telling the baker that the rolls he had purchased tasted ‘day-old’ and he required a reimbursement.
Several passersby gave Aaron odd glances. One little girl with a group of women dressed like nuns pointed at him and giggled. He thought he heard her call him a buffoon, but she was quickly shushed by one of the women and pulled into a shop.
This is so unreal.
Aaron couldn’t figure out what had happened.
How did I get here? Who are these people?
Aaron waited for someone to jump out and yell, “Surprise, you’re on camera!”
It never happened.
The seconds drew on like hours, and Aaron stood unmoving like a statue in the middle of the dirt road. The sweet smell from the bakery was drowned by the stench of a sweaty mule pulling a cart packed full with what had to be manure. The wind blew and the wafting smell of poo filled Aaron’s nose. He coughed and tried to cover the reek with his shirt.
“Witchcraft! Witchcraft, I say!”
Aaron turned around to see a middle-aged woman with only three teeth shouting hysterically. She pointed directly at him. He looked over his shoulder to ensure no green-skinned, broom-commandeering, warty-faced lady in black stood beside him. There wasn’t anyone there. The noise on the street stopped dead except for the woman. She grabbed a small wooden crate from a cart filled with fresh flowers and stood on it. “Fetch the constable! Don’t let him get away, or he’ll set a curse on our town.”
Five large men formed a group behind the woman and advanced toward Aaron. He didn’t know what to do.
Where to Find The Stone of Valhalla:
Exclusive price for the eBook
release is just $2.99! (List Price: $4.99)
And only $9.99 for the paperback!(List Price: $12.99)
On April 12th
2014 the price will return to the List Price
Another special offer:

During The Stone of Valhalla Blog

Mikey’s other great middle-grade eBooks will also be set to the low
price of just $0.99!
The Dream Keeper:
Kindle | Nook | Kobo
The Dreamstone:
Kindle | Nook | Kobo
You’re Invited to PARTY!!
The online launch party will take place on Thursday, April 10th at 4pm (MDT). The party will run for 2 hours and you’re invited to drop by anytime. The longer you stay the more chances you have of winning prizes! We have a slew of eBooks to giveaway, as well as a Stone of Valhalla necklace AND a $25 Amazon gift card! It is hosted by LovingtheBookLaunchParty on Facebook. Just follow this link to join the event:
What’s that? Another Party!
That’s right! If you’re local to Utah you don’t want to miss this kickin’ party. We are having a launch party to celebrate the release of this awesome new book. Of course there will be plenty of giveaways there too, but what’s even better are the guest authors! Just check out these fabulous names: J. Scott Savage, Chad Morris, Lisa Mangum, Jenni James, Ali Cross, and many more. The Launch Party
is: Friday, April 11th from 6-9pm at The Viridian Center in West Jordan, Utah. Follow this link for a map:
About Mikey Brooks:

Mikey is a small child masquerading as an adult. On occasion you’ll catch him dancing the funky chicken, singing like a banshee, and pretending to have never grown up. He is the author/illustrator of several books including the best-selling ABC Adventures: Magical Creatures and Bean’s Dragons as well as the middle-grade fantasy-adventure series The Dream Keeper Chronicles. His art can be seen in many forms from picture books to full room murals. He loves to daydream with his three daughters and explore the worlds that only the imagination of children can create. Mikey has a BS degree in English from Utah State University and works fulltime as a freelance illustrator, cover designer, and author. As a member of the Emblazoners, he is one of many authors devoted to ‘writing stories on the hearts of children’. He is also one of the hosts of the Authors’ Think Tank Podcast. You can find more about him and his books at:

The Giveaways!
Enter the giveaway below to be entered to win one of the following prizes:
$25 Amazon Gift Card
The Stone of Valhalla Necklace
Autographed Paperback of The Stone of Valhalla
Autographed 11×17 Poster

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Thursday’s Thoughts: Nothing so Constant as Change

Easy as A, B, C . . . from BB

As promised, after 14 months of existence, changes have come (and there may be yet more to come) to The ABC Writers Guild blog:

We’ve taken a good, long look at what you’ve seemed to read most (like best?) and we appreciate your interest. Please stay with us, hang in there, keep on keepin’ on! We’ll be keeping the best, re‑imagining the rest. We will now publish only on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, but will do so every week.

Tuesday’s Tutor will now become TUESDAY’S TIPS, and essentially the same as before: tips and ideas on how to deal with writing problems: anything from how to get going to how to keep going; how to understand both the marvelous and malevolent English language in all its permutations and eccentricities, whether of spelling, punctuation marks, or nuances. Feel free to send questions which puzzle you about writing and we will send you answers, or at least suggestions on how to handle your writing puzzlements.

Thursday’s 13 will be called THURSDAY’S THOUGHTS. We will include our own thoughts, problems and puzzlements, but will also incorporate other writers on Thursdays in interviews and/or guest blogs, combining much of what used to happen with Friday’s Friends with some bits of what you used to find in Sunday’s Snippets, Monday Moans, or Thursday’s 13. When significant writing goals have been reached or break‑through moments have come to one or more of us, you may even get a whiff of the old Wednesday’s WIPs here.

Saturday’s Softcover will be transformed into SATURDAY’S SPELLBINDER, a blog covering books we’re reading and loving. We have always, and only, reviewed books which we loved, and will continue to do the same. No “hated this book” business here — why waste our time or yours? That said, each of us has his/her own taste in books. You, personally, may not love every book you read about here, but we’ll keep a wide variety of book types and hope to capture your heart with many of them. Please note: we are truly invested in showcasing books by Utah authors. Let us know when yours are available, and we’ll cover as many as possible.

Thanks for your patience and loyalty while we transition: Like the changes? Hate them? Want something else? Let us know through comments here, or send comments, questions, ideas to Benschmark Editing at

See you Saturday for Saturday’s Spellbinder!

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As easy as A, B, C . . . from us all


I’m Brenda Bensch, a member of this group.  I’ll be starting a new Benschmark Editing WRITING CLASS in West Valley City near the Valley Fair Mall.  I have been teaching a mixed fiction and non-fiction class like this in Sandy for about 8 years.
What do you want to write?  Fiction: novel, short story, fast fiction?  Non-fiction: memoir, biography of a family member, church group or neighborhood?  Articles, essays, fast  non-fiction?  Poetry?  Play or movie scripts?  Anything else?
January 21 – March 11, 2014
16 hours of instruction, writing practice, critiques
$80, or BRING A FRIEND for just $70 each
In addition to teaching this class in Sandy, I have also taught at UVU, UofU, BYU, and SLCC, as well as at many high schools from both Utah and Salt Lake counties.  I would love to help you push your writing to the next level!
See you tomorrow for a repeat performance.


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Extra, Extra, Extra! Read all about it! Celebrate Emblazon!

The ABC Writers Guild would like to let you know a new website is premiering today: Emblazon.  This is a group of writers/illustrators who write for those in-between ages of 11 to 14 or so.  Michelle Isenhoff, one of the members of the group, has written a very clear message (see below) about the new group.  If you are a writer, a teacher, even a “kid” of a certain age, you might find this a wonderful source of new ideas for both writing and reading.  I found the website itself to be arresting and beautiful, and am excited to know more about their member artists.  Hope you’ll feel the same.  Check them out right away because they say “…we’re giving away signed paperback copies AND ebook copies of books written by Emblazon authors. Click here for details.”  Good luck with your writing, your reading, and/or your teaching efforts!  The Bensch Wensch

What Characterizes Tween Literature?

by Michelle Isenhoff

Here on Emblazon we love tween literature. That’s the unique subgenre that falls between middle grade and young adult and can lean either way. You know, the one every reader of children’s books can sense but nobody really names or defines. Well, we’ve named it and defined it. We’ve even put an 11-14 age bracket around it. But what goes into a tween novel? What makes this genre so special? To answer that, let’s first look at the kids who read in it.

OneMiddle schoolers, that’s basically who we’re talking about. Sixth, seventh, and eighth grades, maybe even fifth and ninth. These are the kids transitioning from grade school to high school, all at different rates. Their bodies are changing, their minds are developing, they’re becoming more independent, yet they’re still in need of adult guidance. Here are a few developmental landmarks characteristic to this age group:

  • Striving more for peer acceptance than parental approval
  • Moving from concrete to abstract thinking
  • Losing childish egocentrism; strong desire for fairness, justice
  • Understanding morality in shades of gray rather than black and white
  • Taking an interest in real world problems and issues
  • Changing body, changing  emotions, becoming aware of sexuality

So how does this translate into literature? In all sorts of ways. Now is the time to start introducing tweens to tough topics they will face as adults, as Lois Lowry does in The Giver. Yet these topics must still be handled appropriately. Tweens are ready to empathize, to problem solve, to experience real life in a sheltered way.

TTwoween literature generally contains a positive world view. Kids this age are beginning to think of others. They’re idealistic. They appreciate satisfactory resolutions because that’s how they want the world to work. They have a strong sense of justice and resonate with plots that see justice done. Tween literature almost always celebrates honesty, loyalty, sacrifice, friendship, etc.

Tweens are also looking forward to high school and greater independence, so protagonists tend to be at least age twelve and as old as fifteen or sixteen. Stories are often adventurous, with protagonists acting in peer groups with limited adult interaction, as in Harry Potter. The strongest adult characters tend to be mentors who provide a measure of wisdom. Books may contain some romance, but sexuality is generally toned way down. Portrayals of violence and substance abuse, if addressed at all, are portrayed in a negative light. Language is mild.

Middle schoolers are beginning to comprehend abstract ideas, so their books can be rich with metaphor, hidden meanings, and deep thoughts. An example of this would be the gentle lessons about life and death in Tuck Everlasting, by Natalie Babbitt. But these guys still appreciate the absurd and can understand a higher degree of humor, which makes Percy Jackson so popular.

All these characteristics make the tween genre so dynamic and rich. Kids this age are discerning and they demand quality writing. As tween authors, we need to deliver it. By understanding what makes tween literature so unique, we’re better able to recognize it, appreciate it, and create it.

Photo of girls courtesy of Jaimie Duplass via Photoxpress. Photo of boy courtesy of Stepanov via Photoxpress.


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Thursday’s 13: Who We’d Like to Be

As Easy as A, B, C . . . from CC

1. Loyal

2. Self-disciplined

3. Humorous and makes Others laugh

4. Honorable

5. Hardworking

6. Be accepting and honor Others’ ways of life

7. A Child at Heart

8. Loving to the core

9. Smart and true

10. Tender-hearted and strong

11. Pure and innocent

12. Kind, and love children

13. A Teacher to the World

These are not who I am, but who I’d like to be: these are the thirteen children God gave to me.


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