Tag Archives: author

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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Update from BB in Alabama: May 8

Note from Herb: We’re visiting family in Birmingham, AL. The Internet connection at the motel is flaky at best. Bear with us as we try to get these updates out in a timely manner. Thank for your patience.


For my May 7 Minimum GOAL: 3 hours.

YES! I DID IT! Organized some notes (and took down some new ones) to help with my WIP, re-vamped some of the goals. Did some new writing for the WIP.

Every writer needs to be a reader as well. I’ve always known this, always believed this. I’ve also noted that some of my BEST ideas for writing have come while reading. As I am currently writing a fairy-tale type story, I’m also reading old fairy tales I’ve loved forever, new ones that are mock-ups of old tales in modern garb, and some which are just written as a “new” fairy tale. All of that is to explain why PART of my daily “writing” (3 hours) is actually reading: currently a book named GRIM (edited by Christine Johnson) containing short stories from “some of the best voices in young adult literature today.”

Stories Read:


The Key ~ Rachel Hawkins

1st person: Lana, teen & runner whose Momma acts as fortune teller out of their trailer home with some heads-up help from Lana who actually has some real psychic ability. Lana’s crush on Skye comes to a dangerous point when she “sees” him as a . . . Oops! don’t want to give too much away. Definitely a fun and somewhat twisted story, but too little “fantasy” element for me.

Figment ~ Jeri Smith-Ready

1st person from a non-sentient creature’s POV, whose “thoughts” can be heard by the “right” person, left to Eli by his now-deceased father, a former one-hit wonder musician. Interesting novelty to the POV! How could I make that work in my WIP? The “creature” can bring Eli fame AND fortune, if only he’ll respect the “creature’s” abilities. He names the 0creature “Fig” for Figment (of his imagination). Eli’s band becomes a success, but Fig knows Eli should go solo. The band breaks up at . . . There I go again, almost spoiling the story. . . but it’s a good one!

For my May 8 Minimum GOAL: 3 hours

YES! I DID IT! Double-checked that my COMBO file for Twisted Oaks Hollow had everything in it that it needed. Spent some time reading while visiting HA’s sister, Vickie. Wrote some notes on the reading and ideas that came up; will go back to reading to complete the last of my third hour, and hope to stay the full 3 hours in the motel tomorrow morning, working on Twisted Oaks Hollow, while HA visits family again. Will go with him in the afternoon for family time. Today’s reading covered:


The Twelfth Girl ~ Malinda Lo

Creepy, modern interpretation of “The Twelve Dancing Princesses,” one of my all-time favorite fairy tales. LOVED the forests of silver and gold trees in the original. In this case, the girls are in college together with an elite group living in The Castle. Only 12 at a time, though three,including the sister of the girls’ leader, Haley, have “disappeared.” Liv, a new girl, is invited to take the sister’s place. They go down through Haley’s closet and/or hole in the floor beneath her bed, enter what seems to be a night club at midnight, dance until 3 am., then return to the Castle “dorms.” A dark, unspecified, probably male, character lurks in the shadows. Eventually Liv looks for help to break the “curse” on the girls and . . . that’s enough! WOW! The best match to the original was the night club’s rooms of crystal, silver and gold leaf décor of three rooms. The old story is turned on its head. Would love to write my own version which would be as non-threatening (at the end) and magical as the original was for me.

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BB’s (possibly stolen) PROMPT for 04/21/15

Looking through various old blogs I’d saved, I was reminded of one which talked about To Do Lists, and especially the necessity of prioritizing. I’ve always been a list maker. When I was in junior high school, I had a TINY “loose‑leaf” about the size of a 3×5 card. I’d write lists of Everything I needed to do. Then I got worse. I started making my own hour‑by‑hour list of TTD (Things To Do). I’d sit in some boring class, or while watching TV, and write down the tiny left column of a lined page 7, 8, 9, 10 . . . etc. for the hours of the day. I’d fill in my classes, make notes about homework, on and on.

Years later, when I’d found commercial versions of what I’d been doing for years, I began buying Day‑Timers, then graduated to what later became Franklin‑Covey after hearing Hyrum Smith talk about time‑management.

In retirement, I’ve more or less given up that manic‑habit, but I’m also frustrated with what I’m NOT getting done in my writing. So, I’m going to suggest my stripped down version. Smith recommended marking things as A, B and C priorities. I prefer to think of them as MUST, SHOULD, COULD. And I’m going to TRY to keep to the writing projects, not the unfinished laundry, reorganizing the pantry, etc., etc., etc.

So, your prompt: write a To Do list. Then decide which items MUST be done today. Second level, what SHOULD be done today (or at least soon, in case the MUSTs take longer than a day). Third level, what COULD be done later, if there’s time.

YES! I DID IT! The list:

  • Write Twisted Oaks Hollow (TOH) before WIFYR
  • Polish the first 20 (or however many are required) pages for WIFYR
  • Be sure the motel arrangements have been made for the Shakespeare Festival
  • Arrange for Jennifer’s (daughter) transportation while we’re in Alabama
  • Call Jeremy (son) & arrange for a day he can come set up for while we’re in Alabama
  • Find a Market for “Relevance Revealed,” a personal essay
  • Give “Relevance…” a last polish and SEND
  • Find a case which qualifies as “carry‑on” but will hold computer & a few clothes
  • Run copies of Wade’s WIP and EDIT and SEND BACK to him
  • Read other fairy tale mash‑ups
  • Re‑read the OLD fairy tales I grew up with: (what I called The Grey Book)
  • Reschedule dentist appt.
  • So a few sneaked in which weren’t writing but they DO need to be taken care of before flying to and from Alabama, and before WIFYR
Write on TOH daily Read newer fairy tales Send Relevance
Read old fairy tales Find “Relevance” market
Call Jeremy Carry‑on Case (Notice: not ALL
made the prioritized list)
Polish “Relevance” Run Wade’s copies

NOW begin working on the MUSTs! (That’s a note for ME, even more than for YOU!

(Feel free to re‑use my prompts, modified to YOUR specifications ‑‑‑ I “stole” them too from Carol Lynch Williams, AnnDeeCanDee, Cheryl, The ABC Writers Guild and others . . . )

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BB’s (possibly stolen) PROMPT for 04/20/15

When my husband first came back to Utah, he’d done some writing over the years, but said he couldn’t consider himself an “Author” ‑‑‑ maybe he was “just” a writer. So what constitutes an “author” in YOUR BOOK? Which is to say, do you call yourself an Author yet, when you first meet someone and s/he says, “And what do you do?”?

Herb and I had known each other for about 45 years when he returned. I took him to a lot of the things I like to go to. The first big one was LTUE. He was like a little kid, buying books and getting them signed by the “actual Author!” He went to League of Utah Writers with me, TKE to listen to presentations, a few theater things. (Maybe it wasn’t me at all, when he asked me to marry him C maybe he just didn’t want to lose the contact with theater folk and struggling “artistes” C the huge Utah community of people, including myself, who are trying to write). To publish. To call ourselves “Authors.” Here’s your prompt: Make a list of all the things you have written. How much of each project is finished? How many are nearly so? How many words have you put on pages or keyed into a computer since you started?

YES! I DID IT! It took a while, but I did it. And it feels great seeing that list. And I’m going to KEEP tracking it. How about you?

To date, I have 11 books in various stages of “Not Done” C a couple of them are very close. I also have a sheaf of nearly 50 articles, essays, various programs, and poems. My original plays and adaptations have been performed predominantly in Utah and Idaho C one of them about 250 times during one season by the BYU Repertory Company in several of the western states.

Next step as a budding author (Yes: this is another part of the PROMPT): Practice saying it aloud, in your room, your bathroom (the echo chamber will be good for you) wherever. Let us know when you finally acknowledge this amazing fact to a new acquaintance, or some of your friends. Put that practice at home to good use when you’re out and about.

Maybe it’s time. “Hi, my name is __________ (Brenda, or whatever). I’m an author. And what do YOU do?”



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BB’s (possibly stolen) PROMPT for 04/18/15

Still thinking about Rick Walton and thought I’d share some more of his wisdom. When I was taking a beginning picture book workshop from him some years ago, he pointed out some of the problems with the “bad” picture books:

  • They should not be didactic or display a laundry list of “rules” about your subject.
  • They should be from a child’s POV, not from the grandmother’s, or be head‑hopping among various members of, for instance, a family including adults.
  • If you have a “message” give it throughout the story — be subtle!
  • Show, don’t tell, what’s going on in your story.
  • Boring repetition is an interest killer ‑ use repetition for a specific purpose.
  • Characters need to be “real” within the story ‑‑‑ no “cardboard” characters allowed.
  • You get more bang for your buck if you include some level of emotion within your story.
  • Long sentences are boring ‑‑‑ young children have a finite attention span.
  • The MC (a CHILD) should solve the “problem” of the story, not the adults.
  • Turn on your X‑Ray vision and bore a straight light throughout the story without digressions.

Come to think of it, these aren’t half‑bad ideas for writing for OTHER ages too!

Your prompt is to grab a bunch of picture books from home or at a library and put them to the test. Which ones followed the suggestions above, which one didn’t? Which would you love to read over and over to a child?

YES! I DID IT! And my favorite (and I’ve read it to ADULT students over and over, and even to some “kids”. AND I still laugh and enjoy it every time. It’s Why the Banana Split, by (you know!) Rick Walton.

  • We see through words AND illustrations what’s happening, story‑wise.
  • Nothing boring or nonsensically repetitious about it.
  • No long, boring sentences.
  • A little mystery as to what’s going on.
  • The emotional content (and the clever, hilarious reactions of the characters) are spot on.

Hey, this was fun, looking over my old notes and admiring Rick’s wisdom once again. Maybe, for tomorrow, I’ll tell you what else he had to say about the GOOD picture books!

(Feel free to re‑use my prompts, modified to YOUR specifications ‑‑‑ I “stole” them too from Carol Lynch Williams, AnnDeeCanDee, Cheryl, The ABC Writers Guild and others . . . )

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BB’s (possibly stolen) PROMPT for 04/13/15

A short while back Carol Lynch Williams wrote “The beginning. The start of a new novel. Oh, gosh, I’m at that door. Again. Is everything in place? No. I think I have the first line(s). Not sure it’ll stay, but this came night before last. ‘I’ve died four times (almost) and here I am on the tail end of twelve years old. At this rate, I won’t live to see nineteen.’ I have a bit more: So far I know how I want the book set up. I know what this character’s Daddy does for a living. Not so sure about Mom. Siblings? Maybe. What she wants? Yup, got that. But‑‑‑I ain’t got no other ideas . . . It went on, but ended with “I’m at that door. Again. That sexy beginning where anything can happen. I love this place.

I thought it was SO interesting to get an inside look at the mind of a writer. So, the prompt is to write down what you have (or don’t) for a not‑yet began WIP. (The W.I.P. being ALL in your head. Or, in this case, mine.)

YES! I DID IT! I am at that door, too (Carol’s probably already got her full first draft). Again. Is everything in place? No. I don’t have the first line(s). I do have a character. Actually, I have a MC, and 20 other creatures and/or “people” of different sorts. I know what habits they all have (that was a whole different prompt).

I know what the Father does “for a living.” This is a fantasy, but he’s NOT the King ‑‑‑ he’s an official Landholder, but not nearly so grand as a King. I don’t know about the mother yet either. (Why am I leaving out the mom? . . . oh, well ‑‑‑ Carol did too at this stage)

I know what my MC’s name is, and what she wants ultimately. Siblings? Possibly not, though that could change. And Carol was right: now begins the long haul of exploring, deciding, wondering, thinking; in my case, asking fellow writers’ for advice. I’ve already done a LOT of the complaining and worrying. And balking at starting (Carol doesn’t do that part. I get stuck in it.)

The beginning. The start of a new novel. Oh, gosh, I’m at that door. Again. That sexy beginning where anything can/should/ NEEDS to happen. And the door’s locked! I hate this place!

(Feel free to re‑use my prompts, modified to YOUR specifications ‑‑‑ I “stole” them too from Carol Lynch Williams, AnnDeeCanDee, Cheryl, The ABC Writers Guild and others . . . )

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BB’s (possibly stolen) PROMPT FOR 4/12/15

AnnDeeCanDee once wrote that she’d read most of Roald Dahl’s writing for kids, but not much for adults. My first thought was, “He wrote for adults?” Well, yes, as a matter of fact. Bio, short stories . . . Now, name three writers whose Complete Works you’d choose to read and why. Then pick ONE book from your author faves, and start reading.

YES! I DID IT! I’m choosing an author — no, make that “some authors” — whose complete works I’d like to finish and/or read again. I’ll go to my #1 Fave: T.H. White, though I’ve read NEARLY all of them anyway. But I’d read them all again in a heart‑beat.

Once I finally discovered the Junie B. Jones stories, I read all I could find by Barbara Park. Now I’d read anything else she might have written plus the Junie B’s again. All but two of the latter would be repeats.

I’ve recently found Garth Nix, and I’m making pretty good headway on his books. Ready for book 3 of one of his series, and have two stand‑alone volumes waiting.

Why did I choose these? White because I LOVE the Arthurian tales, no matter WHO wrote them — but his are probably the most accessible for language. Park’s books for humor — made me laugh out loud every time. Nix for pure inventiveness. WHAT an imagination!

Now, you pick 3 favorite authors AND figure out WHY you’d choose those particular ones. In the comments below, let us know what we’re missing if we haven’t read YOUR favorite picks!

And I’ll throw in a bonus author ” — Isaac Asimov for fiction and non‑ . . . and for the INCREDIBLE intellect and work ethic of this man — WOW!

(Feel free to re‑use my prompts, modified to YOUR specifications ‑‑‑ I “stole” them too from Carol Lynch Williams, AnnDeeCanDee, Cheryl, The ABC Writers Guild and others . . . )

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