The Perfect Class for the NaNo Novelist

crest-bda7b7a6e1b57bb9fb8ce9772b8faafbI hate to be pushy–though the Beneficent Mr. Hall would probably argue with that–but I’m going to shove you over to this NaNo prep class with my friend and agent Sally Apokedak. I shared all the particulars for NaNo Prep: Planning the High Concept Novel over at The Muffin so I’ll wait a second while you read the details.

…(humming, humming, humming….)….

Back? Okay, now, obviously, there’s a ton of wonderful writing stuff about this class–and you cannot beat the price, right? But I think the most wonderful thing of all is that, no matter what kind of novel you write, from chapter book to adult fiction, you’re going to get feedback on your idea and figure out what a high concept novel is.

That is no small feat. You can write–and write well–until the cows come home. But if you’re stuck in a “been there, done that before” scenario, you’re never going to break out.

It’s been my experience that most people (and I’m including myself here) don’t realize they’re writing about the same old, same old. They think they have a fresh new idea. They think they have a high concept. They think their premise is THE one that’s going to knock off the socks of an editor or agent.

Until it doesn’t. And then it’s back to the drawing board (or Precious the Laptop).

Here’s a short class at a great price by a wonderful writer and agent who gets it. And you’ll get it, too, if you take the class. So shove off, already.

Denzel’s Excellent Advice for Writers (And Just About Everybody Else)

I’ve always been a big Denzel Washington fan. But now I think I may have to add him to the Top Ten List of Favoritest People in the World. Possibly listen to his excellent advice on a regular basis. ‘Cause even though I know what he says is true–and try to follow that path as a writer, as a wife, a mom, a daughter, and a friend–there’s something about the way Denzel says it that empowers me just a tiny bit more.

I think it’s called charisma. I hope you’ll call it excellent advice, too.


Banned Books Week (Again)

BBW14_300x250_2Wouldn’t it be nice for a year to come around and the American Library Association would say, “No Banned Books Week! Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.”?

But 2014 is not that year, and so once again, it’s time to spotlight this freedom-to-read-what we-want issue. Here’s a bit of good news, though, from the ALA site:

“The books featured during Banned Books Week have all been targeted with removal or restrictions in libraries and schools. While books have been and continue to be banned, part of the Banned Books Week celebration is the fact that, in a majority of cases, the books have remained available. This happens only thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, students, and community members who stand up and speak out for the freedom to read.”

If you check out the lists of banned books, I’ll bet you’ll be surprised. Some of my favorite books are on that list, books that informed me in ways I could never have dreamed possible. Books that opened my mind and heart to that far beyond my little scope of the world–or what was happening right in front of me:

To Kill a Mockingbird

The Color Purple


Brave New World

Their Eyes Were Watching God

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian

I could add more but I think you see where I’m going here. Join me in giving a shout out to your favorite banned book this week. And just because I know Dav Pilkey’s hilarious, and that his books have pulled in many a young reluctant reader, I’m going to cheer for Captain Underpants.

Who’s with me?

When Inspiration Won’t Leave You Alone

2014-09-12 11.58.17I knew I had a Muffin blog post coming up. I just didn’t know what in the world I’d write about. But I’d worry about that later as I screamed and yelled and ranted through a college football game, followed the next day by another display of football failure.

One day left and still no idea. I watched The Roosevelts (It’s fascinating!) hoping for inspiration.

Nothing. But late that night, right before turning out the light, it came to me, this inspiration rooted in my competitive drive.

Ugh. I didn’t want to write about that. I did not want to explore the idea of when competition goes bad for writers. I mean, it’s not a pretty sight, right? I fell asleep, figuring something else would come to me.

But my brain just would not come up with another idea. It seemed absolutely stuck on the whole competition theme. The clock was ticking and...fine. I wrote “When Competition Gets Ugly.” You can find it over at the Muffin today.

At least those ugly weekend football games were good for something.

Friday’s Fun Find: Green Acres Is The Life For Me

Today, I give you the theme song from Green Acres, the fish-out-of-water show in the 60’s that flipped the concept of The Beverly Hillbillies. (Want to know how to do the fish-out-water plot? Watch a couple episodes of either program and you’re golden.)

One of the recurring characters in Green Acres was Ralph, a handywoman who was always working on something around the old homestead. Eddie Albert was always stepping on a hammer or walking into a ladder or fuming about the cost of the latest repair. BUT NO REPAIR WAS EVER, EVER FINISHED.

For six weeks, a painter has been working hard here at the old Hall homestead, putting in two or three hours a day, a couple times a week. For six weeks, he has popped up outside my window, literally five inches from my face, while I try to concentrate on producing scathingly brilliant paragraphs. For six weeks, Libs has barked her fool head off for a goodly potion of the time he has spent here. In six weeks, he has found seven other things wrong with my house and needed to talk to me–in my pajamas–at least 27 times. In six weeks, he has sent me about a dozen new estimates for the work.

Yesterday, I finally paid my Ralph for the job.

But he’ll be back in a month to paint that board (the one around the garage that isn’t quite “cured” yet). All I got to do, says he, is give him a call and he’ll be here, bright and early (to see me in my fall pajamas).

Because, said my painter, when he gets a job, he likes to finish it.