Friday’s Fun Find: A Bedtime Story and a Contest

When Libby does it, it's cute.

When Libby does it, it’s cute.

So if you’re friends with me on Facebook, you may have already seen this little exchange between me and Mister Man the other night. I had brought my laptop to bed with me because a friend asked me to read a recently finished manuscript. But as it happens, I, too, recently finished a manuscript and mentioned said completed manuscript to Mister Man. And here is what happened next:

Mister Man said, “Read your book to me.”
Me: “No.”
He: “Really, I want to hear it.”
He: “Seriously.”
Me: (Sighing) “Okay, I’ll read the first chapter.”
After three pages (mostly dialogue)…
He: “How long is this chapter, anyway?”
One and a half pages later…
Me: That’s the end of the chapter.”
He: “That was pretty good, I guess. So how many chapters does this book have?”
Me: “Thirty.”
He: “THIRTY!! That seems like an awful lot of chapters to make the poor kids read.”

Yep, he’s supportive that way.

The next night, Mister Man asked again if I’d read a chapter to him. To be honest, he’d been a pretty good sport about the ribbing he’d taken from the Facebook thing. So against my better judgement, I started the next chapter.

Which is also only five pages.

Five pages.

He was snoring (though he swears he was not) when I hit the end of page two. So last night, LAST NIGHT, he asked again if I’d read to him from my book.

“You only want me to read so you can sleep,” says I. “The minute I start talking, you start snoozing.”

“Not true,” says he. “I really like that book.”

“What’s the name of the book?”

“Uh…’night!”

Maybe you have a book, too. I don’t know who you can read it to but you can send it to the Master of the Inkpot Competition (David Fickling Books) and maybe get it read by someone who will stay awake long enough to get through the title.

Make ‘Em Laugh (Or Just Make Me Laugh)

2009-07-12 11.53.16If you hang out here often, then you know I write funny. Though honestly, I didn’t start out to write funny. I just can’t quite write a hundred percent serious.

Lord knows, I’ve tried. I thought I could be Ms. Literary Writer of the South (or at least the Southeast). But one day I woke up and smelled the Cathy C. Hall coffee–and it tasted funny. So humor sort of stuck to me and now I couldn’t not write funny. (And yes, I know that’s a double negative. I’m making a point here, people.)

Anyway, all this to say that sometimes, I miss the comedy mark. Yes, friends, I do. But I have a couple tricks up my sleeve that get me back on the humor writing track. I wrote about them today over at The Muffin in “What’s So Funny? (Serious Tips for the Humor Writer)”.

Yep, I might write funny, but I’m a hundred percent serious about this career of mine. So if you have a tip about writing humor, I’d love to hear it. ‘Cause honestly, I’ve got a ton of edits to get to today and I could use a joke or two.

Writing Blocked? Bust Through With Bingo!

And now for something completely somewhat different…

From time to time, I’m asked about sponsoring a blog post, but often, I decline. I mean, there has to be a tie-in to writing (or yours truly) to show up here at Cathy C. Hall’s. So I had to smile when I read the artful spin on Bingo and busting through writer’s block. I can’t vouch for the method (or the Bingo), but I kinda think they both look like fun. (Also, it’s got that whole Brit thing going on and you know I’m a sucker for that.)

Here’s guest blogger Emma Smith’s fun post:

Get Over Creative Block with Writing Prompt Bingo

All writers, young and old, experience creative block at one point in their careers. Whether you’re writing for fun or for work, there comes a time when you just have to sit in front of your computer and try to squeeze the ideas out, to no avail. What are we to do when we just can’t think of a new topic or theme to write about? How about playing a game of Writing Prompt Bingo?

Bingo has often lent itself to different causes and themes, allowing yogis to learn new poses with Yoga Bingo, and even helping gymnasts train. The game has seen newfound popularity, and Free Bingo Hunter, a website specializing in documenting various online bingo portals, has found hundreds of different bingo sites with different themes ranging from “Deal or No Deal” to “Who Wants to be a Millionaire”. With a few modifications to the traditional bingo card, we can create a bingo game that can help you power through the worst creative blocks.

The first thing you have to do is begin constructing your card. Pick five of the seven literary elements: Plot, Setting, Atmosphere, Character, Theme, Point of View, Literary Devices. If you need a quick refresher on these, Slideshare presentation does a good job of explaining them.

For this example, we’re choosing the following: Plot, Setting, Character, Theme, and Point of View. Next, write down five examples of each of the literary elements, like so:

Plot
• Human vs Human
• Human vs Nature
• Human vs Society
• Human vs Himself
• Coming of Age

Setting
• 1950s America
• Vietnam war
• A haunted house
• A rundown factory
• A bedroom

Character
• Teenage couple
• A middle-class family
• A wealthy businessman
• A police officer
• A puppy

Theme
• Friendship
• Loyalty
• Faith
• Environmental Awareness
• Grief

Point of View
• A passerby
• An inanimate object
• A close friend
• First person
• Third-person omniscient

Once you have your list, go to a card creation site like Print-Bingo.com to generate your Writing Prompt Bingo card, replacing the letters B-I-N-G-O with the literary elements you chose. Make sure you arrange it so each of the items falls under its corresponding category. Once the card has been generated, number each row from 1-5. You should have something like this:

Bingo cardTo play the game, you just need to roll a die for each literary element. Whatever number you roll, you need to incorporate the corresponding element into your new story. If you roll a six, then you’re free to choose whichever element you want to write with. This game is great, not just for getting over writer’s block, but for challenging your skills as a writer as well.

*************

Now come on, y’all. That’s kinda brilliant, right?

Never Too Busy For Writing Gems!

dogwood tree 001Oh, I hope you all had a lovely Easter! It was a bit busy around here so I forgot to mention my Saturday post over at the Muffin, “Closet-Cleaning and First Drafts.” I think you’ll find a writing tip or two.

And speaking of writing tips, I came across Tuscany Press and their writer resources called “Required Reading (if you want to be published and successful)“. Lots of great gems in that list of required reading, but if you only have time to read one, don’t miss The Story Question. Whether you’re working on a novel or just a short piece of writing, you need to know the question you’re answering, the question that will keep readers reading.

Like, in this blog post, the story question is: “Is this writing advice Cathy’s going on and on about worth my time?”

And as I know you’re busy, I’ll leave you to it!

Anywhere But Paradise, Inspiring Debut with Anne Bustard

Anywhere but paradise bookWhen I saw that Anne Bustard’s novel, Anywhere But Paradise, was scheduled to be published, I was thrilled! Probably not as thrilled as Anne, but still, I was pretty darn excited for her.

I met Anne–gosh, I guess it was nearly three years ago–when I’d just finished a first draft of a YA novel. We attended the Highlights Whole Novel Workshop together and I well remembered Anywhere But Paradise. Which is saying a lot because I’ve read hundreds of books since then, not to mention all the books that have come before. But Anne’s story, set in Hawaii, was so unique, her voice so wonderful. And her journey’s been so…well, you know what? I think I’ll let Anne tell you herself:

My middle grade debut, Anywhere but Paradise (Egmont Publishing), began in a writing class over fifteen years ago. The instructor asked us to create a one-page index of compelling chapter titles. As someone prone to drowning in details, it was an effective and efficient way to consider the whole story.

I had no idea what I was doing, but I didn’t let that stop me.

I decided to write a historical novel about a seventh-grade newcomer to Hawaii. That is still the essence of the story, but everything, and I mean everything about it has changed.

Along the way, I worked on other writing projects, joined a critique group, attended dozens of conferences and workshops, and studied craft at the Vermont College of Fine Arts.

A few times, life happened and I stopped writing. But I held fast to the belief that time can be reclaimed. That because the time I devoted to others was exactly what I needed to do (with zero regrets).

Over time I grew as a person, which in turn, helped me grow as a writer. I returned to the page with new insights and experiences.

Peggy Sue’s story, informed in part by my childhood, kept calling me back. Though up to five years may have passed between revisions, each time I listened and tried again.

Three years ago, I thought about quitting. I’d received a daunting critique of the novel. I decided writing was too hard. That I didn’t have what it took. That I’d never have a novel published.

But I was buoyed by concrete suggestions and insights. If I chose to try again. I knew what I needed to do. I knew that it wouldn’t be easy. The question was: would I commit?

Over a year and multiple revisions later, I connected to my dream agent and, in turn, my dream editor.

With the amazing Andrea Cascardi, I revised even more. I responded to her first editorial letter in February and March of 2014. Most of Anywhere but Paradise takes place in April and May in 1960. I knew I was in deep when I got mixed up about what month it was in my real life.

By October of last year, we were in final edit mode. That’s when the news came—Egmont USA was for sale. The spring titles would be published, but their future became a question mark.

As a former children’s bookseller, I had seen the sales of many houses. I was hoping for a happy ending. We continued fine tuning the manuscript.

In January of this year, shortly after Andrea and I took one last look at the Note from the Author, Egmont USA announced it was closing. Stunned and oh-so sad for the fantastic staff and books that wouldn’t be published, I never imagined this scenario. Yet, by some miracle, my book and the other spring titles would still be published.

The incredible debut YA author Sarah McGuire gathered authors on the spring 2015 authors together as Egmont’s Last List, (#LastListEgmont.) Dozens of caring people have reached out to us collectively and individually (thank you, Cathy!) to draw attention to our work.

In February, Lerner Publishing Group purchased the Egmont USA books. We are thrilled!

Anywhere but Paradise has had a long journey. I’m grateful for every step.

Now doesn’t that inspire you, wherever you are on your journey? It sure inspires me. And the book is that good, too. Anywhere But Paradise is available now at Amazon or check out Indiebound so you can find it locally.

Ah, happy endings. And happy debut, Anne!