Tag Archives: wifyr

Carol’s Homework Assignment Post WIFYR 2

 Cinder: Book 1 of the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer419rjQNqYhL

First chapter is 16 pages.

The first line: “The screw through Cinder’s ankle had rusted, …” Quite the attention getter. There’s enough information given between the back cover blurb, the inside flap blurb, and the cover itself for us to know that she’s a cyborg. We don’t know how much, but we can safely assume it’s at least the foot.

The first page focuses on her removing her foot. She struggles getting the rusted screw out, then fighting with the other hardware and, finally, just letting her foot dangle from her leg by its wires. We discover not only her foot but one hand as well is artificial.

Second page begins a detailed point of scene. She has a stall filled with used android and other odds and ends electronic and mechanical in nature. We also get a picture of the stall’s position with relation to other stalls in the crowded market square in New Beijing.

Third page, also finishes with her removing the foot completely.

Because of children playing Ring Around the Rosy, a recently revived game originating during ancient plague times, there’s a hint of a plague or some other widespread health issue.

We are introduced to Sacha the baker and her disdain for Cinder because of her differences from “real” humans. There’s inner dialogue from Cinder indicating a few of the vendors in her area are aware of her differences and are somewhat uncomfortable with it.

Prince Kaito arrives with a broken android. (No, not his tablet, but a walking, talking android, or it was before it broke.) Cinder recognizes the Crown Prince, and the handsomest man in all of New Beijing. We deal with her stammering and fan craziness for a page or so.

For the next five pages we are filled with all kinds of things that might be wrong with the android: it’s old, the problem isn’t readily apparent, how was it acting before it stopped completely, etc., etc., etc. Along with the troubleshooting Q&A, we get a glimpse of character development and some insight into Cinder’s abilities. Possible spoiler: There’s more to her cyborg-ness than just her foot.

Cinder’s android assistant shows up with Cinder’s replacement foot. Cinder makes excuses claiming it’s for another client. Her assistant, though android, is smitten with the prince as well.

When all the arrangements are made for Cinder to work on the android and get it ready for the prince to pick up in a few days, the prince departs.

Shortly after his departure a scream is heard across the way. Sacha the baker has the plague… End chapter.

Okay, four characters in eleven pages. There were other people milling about, a group of kids, but nobody with any real presence, they’re there for point of scene. Sacha is removed from the equation fairly fast, so, basically, we have three characters who, from all appearances, will be central to the story.

There was a lot of useful information and character development in the first chapter. Some of it was a little drawn out, but informative nevertheless. Some things I can definitely take and use.



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Nearly Caught Up… No, Honest!


BB’s (possibly stolen) PROMPT for 04/03/15 ‑ tweaked to fit my own age after reading a blog by AnnDeeCanDee: Time goes so fast. I feel like I’m a 100 years old. I also feel like I’m 13 . . . I’m nostalgic for my childhood. Even some of my teenage years. I’m nostalgic for right now because I know it’s going to be gone before I know it. But I also don’t want to look like a grandma even though I have two kids, five grandkids, and two GREAT‑grands! At home, I wear the same clothes for days in a row and, at one time, my only hope was to have a boyfriend . . .

What does your character miss? What does your character wish would end? Does time go fast? Or go slow?

Lackley does not have land which she or her family call their own (thus her nickname Lack Ley). Her father is in the service of a King or minor Duke, lives on land afforded him, but without real ownership. He and all his family work the land they live on raising animals, crops to feed both man and beast; she is not unaccustomed to work and has never been coddled.

What does your character miss?
She images a much wider world out there ‑‑‑ one she’s never seen, but occasionally hears about from a traveling jongleur. When such a person or company arrives, all the village gathers in her parents’ home, which is, at least, larger than their own wattle and daub dwellings.

What does your character wish would end?
The boredom of caring for the land they do not own. As a VERY young child, she helped by digging up weeds, learning to tell the useful from the or poisonous. From there she graduated to the care of small animals, learned to diagnosis their condition, hurts, diseases; and how to destroy the diseased, salvaging anything which would not harm. The next graduation was to larger animals: helping with feeding, birthing, accidents, disease. She grew in responsibility, but thought there must surely be more to life than these struggles.

Does time go fast?
When she’s working, time goes by all too quickly. She must hurry in order to get her share of the next meal, or it will be gone, or given as swill to the pigs, or eaten by the voracious and multiple children belonging to the land’s workers in their village.

Or go slow?
When the traveling entertainers come to town, even time will scarce slow down. The colorful (if ragged) clothing, the tambourines and music, the singing, acrobats and jugglers, and, best of all, the story tellers can’t be given enough of her day. They appear suddenly, usually with little or no warning, and fade off into the night at the end of a mere day or two, unheard again for many a moon.

She doesn’t want to look like a farmer’s wife even if she has a family later on.

She has watched girls older than herself age all too quickly with the burdens of working the land, then adding one, two, three, many children to both care for and feed. It all takes it’s toll on every woman she’s ever seen.

Wears the same clothes for a week at a time.

She realizes, in comparison with the field workers, her clothes are in good order. But in comparison to the entertainers, they may be more “whole,” but they are drab and uninteresting.

One time her only hope was to have a look at the world before fading into a nothing.

Her dreams have often brought her, like the stories, a handsome prince to whisk her away from this predictable and drab existence. But she also knows her place within her world . . . this is not likely to ever be a dream come true. 

BB’s (possibly stolen) PROMPT for 04/09/15 – Have your character write her own obituary.

YES! I DID IT! L’Aquellian, known throughout most of her life as “Lackley,” bids a fond farewell to her family, friends and supporters. The second of three daughters, and the true leader of that trio, Lackley brought both sisters and their families into the compound she and her sweetheart/husband, Rich Weaver, carved out of nothing at the edge of the desert. The hard‑working couple first met during her year‑long tour of The Outside.

Always a believer in the lessons learned during her tour, Lackley chose to make something of herself, did so with the help and strong arm of her husband, and taught her son and two daughters to look for opportunities for growth wherever they were.

She felt strongly about learning about and knowing the true worth of The Outside, but also nurtured her own family, and many others as well, within the confines of The Wall, once she found it again.

Her Sailing Away ceremony will be held at River’s Bend on the edge of the desert, but within the confines of her compound. She leaves behind a strong family with a rich tradition of caring for their homes, their environment, their friends. Please join the mourners at sun‑up of the second day. Bring your own contained flame and bundle of fagots.

(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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Thinkin’ on Thursday: Edits, COLD and HARD, Can Be Good for You!

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

At the recent five‑day Writing and Illustrating for Young People [WIFYR] workshop/ conference, several author/volunteers were subjected to a Cold Hard Reading, run by Cheri Pray Earl — who was joined by various editors and agents who were there. It’s a very scary thing to go through. They put one page for each volunteer up on screen where everyone can see it, then the panel subjects the piece to a searing, if not brutal, review.

But, I’m telling you: let your ego go, and see what you can learn!

I happened to be in Cheri’s morning class all week, so the day of the whole‑group effort, she practiced in our class on all of us! I’m pretty picky with my word choices, and some review edits on my part would have caught some of the things she did in my page. I wouldn’t want to expose anyone else’s “messes,” so I’ll only tell you a few she found in mine:

Using –ly words:

Adverbs. To avoid them, use stronger verbs

A hiatus:

A pause in the narrative, often indicated by a blank space or a symbol like an asterisk, etc. In my case, the end of the first part and the beginning of the next part did not mesh well together.


“She, herself, had become lost.” Simplify: why not just “She became lost.”?


I love to use rhythm in my writing – even much of my prose is “poetic” – but it’s jangling when the rhythm is “off”.

Few, very:

Any repetitions are off‑putting, but when they’re small, inconsequential words like “few” or “very” and don’t add to the story, cut them.


What I refer to as “faves” ‑ we all have favorite words which we use over and over. Become aware of what yours are. Some common ones, in addition to the two above, are that, it, there. Timeline words, too, can become “faves,” especially then and now. Trust your reader more: if you are telling things in a logical order you almost never need to specify “then” or “now.” And we tend to compound the problem by using those words over and over.

These ideas are only a small part of what happened to be touched on in my one page. Take a look at your own: avoid adverbs (especially the –ly ending variety). Be sure your narrative makes sense from one section to the next, whether you’ve used hiatus or section or chapter divisions. Watch out for repetitions words: and the culprits aren’t always your particular “faves”: any word repeated within a few lines or paragraphs begins to stick out. If you have a good ear for rhythm, and you use it in your writing, be sure to make it consistent.

See you next for Saturday’s Softcover!

Key Words:

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Tips on Tuesday: Writers to Readers and Back Again

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

Now that I’ve had a few days at home after attending the WIFYR (Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers) week‑long workshop, I can begin to reflect on all I heard and learned. As tired as I was, my last session gave me life again. That’s what happens when you get to hang with an outstanding Writer/Reader/Book Person like A.E. Cannon. Ann writes books, writes a regular column for the Salt Lake Tribune, often writes book‑oriented articles or interviews outside her own column, and also works at my favorite local bookstore: The King’s English.

In that last WIFYR session, Ann tackled the subject “Learn to Hone Your Skills While Reading Works by Other Authors.” While doing so, she mentioned a few writers worth paying attention to — some of them from Utah or with ties to us: Carol Lynch Williams’ The Chosen One — where she showed us how to set the stage in only 4 sentences, complete with a sense of place. She also recommended authors like Beverley Cleary and Judy Blume (ironically I won a book by Judy Blume during the closing ceremonies an hour later!). She suggested reading (or re‑reading) books like Where the Wild Things Are, Frog & Toad, Strange Case of Origami Yoda, and afterwards trying to write in the style we’ve just read. A great idea.

Early on in her presentation, Ann mentioned a book I’d not seen before: Reading Like a Writer, by Francine Prose. I hadn’t seen the title before (though now I’ve sent for it – still available from Amazon), but I really knew the name: wa‑a‑a‑a‑ay back, I took a writing class at the U of U from Francine Prose, a visiting professor. I had fun digging out my old handbook, printed by Kinko’s under the category “Professor Publishing.” It’s really just a thick, spiral‑bound, 159 page tome containing stories by many of the greats: Frank Kafka, Gustave Flaubert, Anton Chekhov, Ernest Hemingway, Joyce Carol Oates, John Updike, Alice Munro, Flannery O’Connor, etc.

Just a few of Ann’s lessons to be learned by a reading like a Writer might include:

What things to watch for as you read

Word choices that jump out at you

Sentence structure (long, short, varied, a good mix); why some work of them and others don’t

Sense of place, a stage set for action


Ask why and how something works . . . or doesn’t

If you gave up on a book, why could you not finish it?

Do you make the same mistakes?

Listening to audio books can also help you “hear” how to set your story up

(my thought on this last: listening also helps develop your sense of rhythmic words)

In this rapidly changing publishing world, we writers need to pay attention and keep up with the changes. It also behooves us to look to the greats of the past, see what their methods were, and which ones will still work.

See you next on Thinkin’ on Thursday!

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Thinkin’ on Thursday: Starting Over — in the Middle!

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

Just after the first of the year, Brian Klems (on‑line editor for The Writers Digest) threw out a quote by Joyce Carol Oates: “The first sentence can’t be written until the final sentence is written.” I sort of nodded in affirmation and moved on. Only later did I really start to think about it. I’ve written here before that I am now more convinced than ever (note: that was well after the succinct Oates quote should have given me pause for thought) that I should start writing and write to the end before letting anyone read, comment or critique what I have.

Now, if I could just convince myself to do it, instead of rewriting the first chapter, then writing a little more; rewriting the first three chapters, then writing a little more; rewriting the first 5 chapters, then writing a little more. As a result, I’ve covered the south end of my dining table with two Girl Scout cookie boxes (they’re the perfect size for filing) — full of papers, and a pile of 4 full loose leaf folders, the contents of which are critiqued, or not, and include multiple versions of several chapters, on my “current” WIP. When the boxes were full, I just piled more on top of them. Well, only a little more. About three inches worth. Each.

Oh, I have written the last chapter. And I love it. I just wish the eight or so before it were finished too!

What was I thinkin’?

Well, I guess I wasn’t. Thinkin’. Fortunately I went to the WIFYR class taught by Cheri Pray Earl: The Muddled Middles. Well, mine wasn’t exactly the middle — but pretty close.

I am going to start over . . . on chapter 17 (or whatever it happens to be). Again. I’ll fill in that gap in the story. Then I’ll examine everything, one chapter at a time, beginning to end. Then I’ll write (or rewrite) Chapter 1.

DONE ! ! !

See you next on Saturday’s Spellbinder!

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Tips on Tuesday: Nothing to Fear but Fear Itself

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

I subscribe to a site called Write to Done. Their blogs make a good deal of sense. This week, I received one called “How to Strike Creative Gold” by Marcy McKay. She wasMarcy-Profile-Pic reminding me that, from time to time, writers feel as if they’ve run dry. How did she know I just finished five grueling (and rewarding) days at Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers (WIFYR)? We go merrily along day after day, then out of nowhere we hit a dry spell.

I call it exhaustion. But she offered five other ideas as well. Fear, Perfectionism, Busyness, Procrastination, and Health. I encourage you to read the full blog C she has some interesting thoughts, but here, I’m going to give you my self‑analysis for these five areas . . . and here’s another thing you can do besides reading the original blog: do a little self‑analysis on YOU C especially if you feel you’ve hit a slump.


I did like her idea that self‑doubt points us to what we actually want to do. I either am not fearful, or I have hidden it well by always keeping writing in the back (or even the foreground) of my mind as something I want to do. So I should set my priorities straight. A while back, the “in” thing was to “intend” in your life. What is my intention? To try to get published. In order to do that, I need to finish something. Then I need to submit it to a publisher, or prepare myself to self‑publish. I feel stronger (and less fearful) just putting that down on paper: I’ve made a choice, and that feels less out of control.


She’s nailed me on that one. Having taught English and writing for many years in Utah’s high schools and colleges, I can’t not see errors and sloppy writing. In other people’s writing. Then “others” point out some of the same errors in my writing. Why can’t I see them? And I fear that some of my friends and former students will see my failings. I’m very “critical” of others’ writings, but even more so on myself. What I need to face up to is the fact that I needn’t show my first draft to anyone. Or my second or third. I can keep writing until it’s as “perfect” as I can make it. Then I need to be humble enough to have my writing partners take a look and find the things I was blind to in my own searching for problems..


Nailed again! Only even more so. My entire adult life has been filled with places to go, people to see, things to do. But guess what? I like it that way. So I should stop letting my “schedule” upset me, make me anxious. If I don’t do every item on a list of 20 To Do items, some of them can wait, or even be deleted. It doesn’t mean I am a failure. It means I chose what was most important to me, and I let the others slide. And that’s OK.


For a number of years, I have said I overcame procrastination. And, in a sense, I have done so. How did I manage that? I plan to do everything at the last moment. No guilt. I do other things that are “most” important in the meantime. And when it’s right down to the wire, and this particular bit of business must be done, that’s when it’s important enough for me to “get ‘er done.” And not a moment sooner.


I’m working on it. Like most of the women I know, I’d like to lose some weight. And I know my health would be in better shape if I did so. And, because I’m beginning to see signs of neglect affecting my ability to do all those many things I mentioned in the “Busyness” section above, I am finally getting a handle on enough sleep, eating better than I have in the past, and getting myself moving C every day. It’s finally reached the top of the lists: it’s now or never.

Which of these five areas do you intend to work on next, to become your Best Writing Self?

See you next for Thinkin’ on Thursday!


Filed under Tips for Tuesday

Spellbinder Saturday- Just in Time… again

Easy as A, B, C . . . from HAJust in Time 03

Cheri_Earl_Pub_Photo__Edited_Cheri Pray Earl & Carol Lynch Williams have done it again: number three in the Just in Time series—The Wizard of Menlo Park, New Jersey. And once again delightfully illustrated by Manelle Oliphant.

CarolHere we go again—George and Gracie have received their marching orders from their lost in time parents: Menlo Park, NJ. The year? 1879, near Thomas Edison’s lab. The item that needs to be returned? A copy of Little Women, autographed by Thomas Edison.

This third entry in the series has more twists and turns then the first two combined! Two time machines and two Crowes will do that.

We make more discoveries about the history of the time machine and how Crowe got involved in the whole lost in time adventure.

On this trip, it’s Gracie’s turn again to change shape. She shows up in 1879 as a beautiful parrot. A very talkative beautiful parrot.

It’s New Year’s Eve when the kids arrive and Edison is busy having his crew string his brand new light bulbs all along Menlo Park. His plan is to light up the area and let everyone see his latest invention. Crowe worked for Edison in Menlo Park in 1879. So there’s a young Crowe with a family and sick daughter, and an older Crowe who went traveling in time.

I don’t want to give anything away… well, yes, I do, but that just wouldn’t be right. If you enjoyed George and Gracie’s first two adventures in time, you’re going to love The Wizard of Menlo Park, New Jersey.

The other thing I enjoy about these books is the section on historical facts and curiosities about the state we visit. Readers can even learn a little history.

Available now at The King’s English Bookshop and other retail outlets.

See you next time for Tips on Tuesday


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