Halloween Temptation

halloween 002I am NOT going to write a story for Susanna Leonard Hill’s Halloweensie Contest.

I’m terribly behind in all kinds of work.

Then again, a wee break to read a couple Halloween stories, one hundred words or less…

I laughed, I sighed, I imagined all sorts of frightfully fun pictures. But I am not going to write a story.

Reading stories, though, that’s a different matter. So many friends I recognized. A few more chuckles, noting the clever use of the words “broomstick” and “pumpkin” and “creak” and how I might use those same words in my story and GET THEE BEHIND ME, HALLOWEENSIE CONTEST.

Aw, pfffft. Self-control (and work) is highly overrated.



My story for  Susanna Leonard Hill’s Halloweensie Contest:


The Scariest Thing Ever


Penelope Witch’s stomach growled.

She hitched up her broomstick. “I’ve got a craving for a wicked treat!”

“Be careful,” said Mother. “Those horrible monsters! The howling and screeching, the wailing and whining!”

“I’ll be extra careful,” said Penelope.

Penelope parked and shuddered. An eerie light loomed ahead.

A door opened with a creak, and a shiver tingled down her spine.

She tiptoed past terrors, large and small, trembling in her boots.

At last, she reached out her hand—and shrieked!

“What’s got into her?” asked the grocery store clerk.

The baker pointed to a sign: Pumpkin Pie—Sold Out!










How A Screenwriting Gem Can Make Your Novel All Sparkly

2014-10-11 12.38.09So back to WIK’14, the SCBWI conference I attended a few weeks ago in Birmingham.

I really wanted to get the gist of Lou Anders’ brilliant writing tips to you. But…um…I have PAGES of notes from Scrip Tips (the name of his presentation wherein he applies screen-writing techniques to novel writing ) and I’ll be lucky to a. be able to read my chicken scratching (Holy moly, that man talks fast!) and b. determine what’s good-to-know (’cause really, everything was good-to-know).

Anyway, I shall give it my best shot (see how I added a movie pun there?) and share just a couple good take-aways.

Take-away #1: Lou recommended a few books (you know all about Save the Cat, right?). So, first, these are not Save the Cat.

Check out Dan Decker’s Anatomy of a Screenplay and Jeffrey Alan Schecter’s My Story Can Beat Your Story. Screenwriting is all about story-telling so you can learn a lot from the professionals. (And I’m a visual learner, so if I have a scene from a movie that explains a point, I’m much more likely to “get” the point. Another reason why you’ll want to attend Lou Anders’ talk if he’s ever in your neighborhood: LOTS of movie visuals.)

Take-away #2: Lou talked about the all-important triangle in every movie (and how it can work in your novel).  And no, he wasn’t talking about a love triangle, but he was making a point about characters. Namely, the protagonist (who wants something–and make it something specific), the antagonist (who’s out to keep the protagonist from achieving his/her desire), and the relationship character (who accompanies the protagonist on the journey).

Now I know you know all about the protagonist and the antagonist but how about that relationship character? That’s a nifty character to have because as Lou said, the relationship character is the character who has often been on the journey before, and has something to teach or share AND this character is often the one to whom the protagonist expresses the story’s theme.

Cathy BatmanThe example I loved–because I am all about the Batman–was from the movie, The Dark Knight. Easy enough to figure out the protagonist (Batman, who wants a normal life) and I bet you’re thinking the antagonist is the Joker. But surprise, it’s Harvey Dent (who becomes Two Face).  But the relationship character, that’s simple, right?

Not so fast.

Has to be Alfred (who has pithy yet meaningful conversations with Batman/Bruce Wayne).


Oh, okay. Then it’s Morgan Freeman (who plays the guy who makes all the neat and amazing weapons, cars and stuff and often has very meaningful  and also pithy, theme-ish conversations with Batman, not to mention that it’s Morgan Freeman).


It’s…(the suspense is killing me) …the Joker!

Holy Batman, think how much richer, how much more textured this story is, with the Joker playing the role of the relationship character. Ultimately, it’s the Joker who helps Batman accept his role as the Dark Knight. They’re a lot alike, those two characters, with similar journeys.

(If you haven’t seen The Dark Knight, none of this will make sense to you. Hmmm…maybe you should read Lou Anders’ first book in the Thrones and Bones series, Frostborn. He applied all kinds of swell screenwriting stuff he’d learned, and sold his book–snap!–like that.)

The triangle–just one more gem to think about when writing your story. And maybe if you ever get a chance to hear Lou Anders’ workshop, go. Because honestly, that sparkly little gem is from the first page of my notes.



Friday’s Fun Find: Dance Off! And Write Off!

Not sure how I missed this when it first came out because a. I love a good dance off (and put one in my middle grade novel) and b. it’s a couple tap-dancing/Irish dancing priests (who are not in my novel, but still fun).

There’s nothing like a good battle to motivate you for the coming Baker’s Dozen Agent Auction over at Miss Snark’s. Adult fiction, New Adult fiction, Young Adult fiction, Middle Grade fiction…they all have a chance to win an agent in this Write Off. So get those fingers crackin’–and maybe you’ll be happy dancin’ in a couple weeks!

It Really Is About The Revision

2014-10-21 09.46.15When I signed up for the workshop sessions I wanted to attend at the SCBWI WIK’14 conference, the first one I pounced on was “Revision Strategies For Your Rough Draft.”

Granted, I noticed that Courtney Miller-Callihan was leading that session and as agents go, she was one I’d been wanting to meet. BUT that was just an added bonus. Because I am always on the lookout for revision tips and strategies. Mostly because I am always in the throes of one revision or another.

I don’t think I’m that unusual, as writers go. I churn out words pretty quickly, whether it’s a blog post, an article, a story, or even a novel. (Okay, okay. The novels take a bit longer, but comparatively speaking, I get ‘er done in a mostly timely manner.) But the rewrites? The revisions?

It’s a lo-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-ng process. (Well, maybe not the blog posts…)

Anyway, for me, writing is really about the rewriting. So any technique I can find that might help in that department is golden in my book. And I heard one from Courtney that was quite sparkly so I shared it in my Muffin post today: Revision Strategies (You’ll Thank Me Later).

If you’re doing NaNo, you’re going to need revision.

Or maybe you’re still revising a NaNo manuscript from *cough, cough*.

The point is, you can never have enough great revision strategies. So if you have one, how about sharing?

Friday’s Fun Find: (Really Easy) Mexican Chicken Soup. Wheeee?

Mexican chicken soup for blog

Cooking is not usually my idea of fun, but y’all asked for the recipe of Mexican Chicken Soup, so…

A few notes first:

1. I just get a package of chicken tenders and throw them in the pot. I mean, there could be eight. Or there could be five. I don’t think it matters. And sometimes, I chop ‘em up first and then dump in the pot.

2. When we got all healthy around here, I started using brown rice. I don’t think that matters in the taste department…

3. Also, as part of the health kick ’round here, I don’t add that bouillon cube of salt. But full disclosure, we’ve cut way back on salt and don’t notice it at all. You might. (We use unsalted chicken broth, too. I know, right? But that can of tomato stuff adds plenty of flavor.)

4. I do, however, dump a TON of Monterey Jack cheese into my soup. The salt in cheese doesn’t count ’cause cheese has calcium to make your bones good and strong.

You know, it occurs to me that by the time I finish making the soup, it’s nothing like the recipe. But it is easy and edible. Pretty much all I ask for in the cooking department. And remember, you asked for it, too.

Now y’all go knock yourselves out with cooking fun. (Click on the pic to read the recipe. Or don’t click and go to your favorite Mexican restaurant and order the chicken soup.)