Go Win The Christmas Village (Um, It’s a Book)

Yes, it’s middle grade, but it’s such a charming story; I think it would make a wonderful family read-aloud during the holidays. And you can win it, just by commenting. But not here. There.
Oh! And if you’ve ever considered trying the children’s magazine market, Melissa gives some great tips on how she got her byline in the magazine door. So, there’s great writing stuff, too.
Now, seriously. What are you still doing here? Dash away all!

Tuesday’s Taking Care of Business Tips for the Writer

First, a moment to listen to Bachman Turner Overdrive’s Taking Care of Business because I bet your brain went there.

And now to take care of “end of the year business.” (Yeah, I know that there’s an entire month following November, but I also know that my brain is hijacked by the holidays. Frankly, my brain’s kinda been hijacked by Bachman Turner Overdrive right now…)
Anyway, here’s a handy checklist of Things To Do (If You’re a Writer) for Taking Care of End-of-the-Year Business.
*Check your blog and/or website for dead links to your online work.
*Consider cleaning out some of those old, tired links and adding links to recent work. This simple step will give your blog and/or website a freshness as well as get rid of that static vibe.

*Find your Goals for 2011 (You did write down your goals somewhere, right?) and review. You’ll still have time to work on the goals you completely forgot, and you’ll end the year feeling wonderful about the goals you accomplished. (If you can’t find your Goals for 2011 then I have a suggestion for what your very first goal for 2012 should be.)
*Take a mathematical look at your blog stats. Compare what posts generated excellent traffic to those that did not. Extrapolate and use the results to improve your stats next year. (I was looking at a picture of Albert Einstein right before I wrote this post.)
*Make a list of the writing books and/or business tools you’d like the Beneficent Mr. Hall to stuff under your tree. Of course, he’ll probably only stuff those goodies under my tree. But hey, you can ask.

*Clean your desk, work space, cubbyhole, whatever or wherever you work. You’ll start the new year with an organized perspective. (And you’ll probably be shocked at what you find amongst the mess. Well, I assume you’ll be shocked. My desk hasn’t looked that clean and organized since I took that picture a couple years ago. But I never said I take care of all my business.)

November Writing Advice: Not Just for NaNo Anymore

So, I know that hordes of writers are out there, busily pounding out their 1,569 words today so they can make their National Novel Writing Month goal of 50,000 words. Kudos to y’all!

And kudos to all y’all who may be a NaNo writer like me. Maybe you’ll make 45,000 words. Maybe you’ll forget to actually sign up. Maybe you’ll manage to pound out only 1500 words. Doesn’t make you any less of a writer. (It does, however, leave you with an awful lot of manuscript to finish.) You might be the kind of writer who could use a little extra inspiration and some serious writerly advice. Go here.

Or maybe you’re skipping Nano this year in favor of something different. Maybe, like me, you’ve signed up for Picture Book Idea Month. Because, honestly, who can’t come up with an idea a day? Kudos to y’all! But maybe, inexplicably, your ideas sort of sputter out on the third day, along with your kudos. You might be the kind of writer who could use some extra inspiration and some wonderful writerly advice. Go here.

Okay, yes, it’s the same writerly advice and inspiration. Because it doesn’t matter what you write. It only matters that you write. At least, if you were born to write. And kudos to my writer buddy, Kara Bietz, for sharing that little nugget of writer gold.

Finding Something Friday: Humor, Books I’m Reading, Contest, Writing Tips

That’s not a very catchy post title, but it does pretty much sum up the day’s catch.
If you’d like to read October’s column in Modern Senior Living, check out page 13 for “My Not-So-Smart Phone.” (I could probably write a book about phones at the Hall house. One time, I walked into Juniorest Hall’s room and found this mangled mess of wires and such on his bed. Just before I threw it out, he yelled, “Wait! That’s my phone!” Which he was actually still using. It was the phone I’d purchased 24 hours after I’d bought his first phone–but that’s another story.)
As you may remember, October is National Book Month, and I thought I’d update you on what I’m reading now: Bella at Midnight by Diane Stanley (a middle grade novel with fairy tale overtones) and Bodies of the Dead And Other Great American Ghost Stories (Did you know Edith Wharton wrote a ghost story? Neither did I, but there she is with Ambrose Bierce, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Willa Cather, and Harriet Prescott Spofford. I don’t know Harriet Prescott Spofford from Adam’s house cat, but how many times do you come across a name with that many double consonants? When I finish this scary book, I’m giving it away in the All Hallow’s Read Giveaway. Don’t forget to mention BOOk in a comment if you want your name in the cauldron.)
Janet Reid (yes, the literary agent, again) is having a contest. You have till tomorrow (at noon) to write a 100 word themed Halloween story with the words she’s posted. You can win a critique from Barbara Poelle, and that’s pretty awesome for a micro-fiction story. (You get bonus points if you work in the word “insalubrious”. And yes, I know that you know what insalubrious means, but I thought I’d give a quick definition for all those folks who may have taken a siesta during 10th grade Vocab drills: insalubrious=not conducive to health, unwholesome.)
Finally, just a quick mention of the writing tips you can find over at Finders & Keepers this week. I mentioned that I attended an SCBWI conference and I wrote a “what I learned from whom I saw” post. It’s packed with stuff you can use, whether you’re a children’s writer or not. (Seriously. It’s kind of a long post. But no one will know if you skim it.)
And now, as my insalubrious tale won’t write itself, I have a story to find on this fine Friday. I’m pretty sure it’s rattling around in my head, somewhere.

Tuesday Tip on Revision: Adjectives and Adverbs

You know how you’re in the middle of a conversation, or maybe a hot bath, and you have that moment when your eyes glaze over, or you drop the soap, because you’ve just had THE MOST BRILLIANT THOUGHT EVER?

That’s how I ended up in the latest revision mode of my YA Southern, paranormal, comic, contemporary mystery. But this time, I had another brilliant thought. I would read, actually read, one of the writing craft books sitting upon my shelves. To wit, The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman.

So, I blew the dust off it (Okay, it’s been sitting there for a couple years) and got to work. And as soon as I got to Chapter Two: Adjectives and Adverbs, I realized that, as long as I was revising, I might as well consider a few of Mr. Lukeman’s suggestions:
* Cut back on adjectives and adverbs, especially in those spots where you might have a string of ’em.
*Replace tired, cliche adjectives and adverbs with sparkly and unusual ones.
* Make your verbs and nouns stronger so they can stand alone.
Well, I applied a couple of the end-of-chapter exercises to my first chapter and you know what? It’s a better chapter, even if I do say so myself. So now I’m deep into the brilliant idea revision, but I’m also trying to keep in mind the tips from The First Five Pages.

Thanks, Mr. Lukeman. If my newly revised manuscript stays out of the rejection pile this time around, I owe you a big bouquet. (Make that an enormous bouquet!)