With Leap Day, You Get Extra: Editor Kristin Daly Rens

Leap days are extra, so I thought it’d be swell to give you an extra bit of wisdom from Kristin Daly Rens (senior editor from Balzer & Bray/Harper Collins) who spoke at the conference. Plus, I had a pic of her with Cathy-on-a-Stick and that’s always a bonus, right?

So Kristin (who is funny, delightful, smart, and charming and I’m not just saying that because she happened to do my formal critique) spoke about dialogue and plotting. But (and I’m sure this will come as no surprise to you) I cannot find my plot notes. So we’ll be sharing dialogue notes today.

She had a ton of great tips about dialogue, and examples of sparkling banter in books. Um, apparently, I did not write down the book titles. But Debra Mayhew, who sat next to me, wrote down every single book mentioned and then she shared them on her blog. (Why thank you, Deb!).

So now, let’s dash to Kristin’s tips, starting with what to avoid in dialogue.

AVOID SAYING SOMETHING YOU’VE JUST SHOWN. (Yes, I know that seems like common sense. But it’s a terribly common problem and one you should check for when editing your manuscript. Because…

TOO MUCH DIALOGUE SLOWS DOWN THE STORY (Who knew? I LOVE dialogue. In fact, I tend to read the dialogue in books and skip all that descriptive stuff. But it occurred to me that I can do that because I read good books where the dialogue is used correctly. How so, you wonder? So glad you asked.

DIALOGUE SHOULD BE SIGNIFICANT  (Every word of dialogue should matter to the story. Every. Single. Word. Yes, you want to be authentic, but not so authentic that you bore your readers. So don’t put in all those umm’s and uh’s. Put in the words that matter and most importantly…

PUT IN THE WORDS THAT MOVE THE STORY FORWARD  (That tip speaks for itself, doesn’t it? Get it? Speaks for itself? Um, yeah…we’ll just move on. Like your story should do with great dialogue.)

Because now I think you have enough dialogue information to make your own banter extra sparkly. And you’ve got an extra day to do it!

Finding BOOKS! And a CONTEST!

So, remember when I told you all about Gail’s trip to Chautauqua and her book giveaway? And then I told you to rush over there and sign up so you could win?

I won! I won two swell books! And they came in the mail today:

I’ve had so many people recommend Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine, so I’m thrilled to have it! And though I don’t have a book of my very own yet, I have high hopes. So I’m eager to jump into Jacqueline Deval’s Publicize Your Book to learn a thing or two. So thank you, thank you, Gail! I’m so glad I dashed over to your blog for the book giveaway!

Speaking of dashing over, I wouldn’t have won, just sitting here on my boomerosity, thinking about how swell it would be to win books. I had to, you know, actually do something. So here’s your chance to do something and win, too. It’s the Family Friendly Short Story Writing Contest. There’s no entry fee but there are prizes! You can win cash and a subscription to CBI (Children’s Book Insider). Not too shabby, there.

All you have to, you know, actually do is write a story that’s family friendly. You can do that. And you can win, too. (Now dash off and start writing–you only have till Oct. 1st!)

Finding Books, Books, and MORE Books

First up, I wanted to pass along a blog tour/book giveaway going on at a friend’s blog: Words by Webb.

Not only has Marthe Jocelyn stopped by Jodi Webb’s blog to give away a copy of her book, Scribbling Women, but she’s also giving away a TON of books through her publisher, Tundra Press. And Marthe Jocelyn has written Picture Books through Young Adult, so if you’re a children’s writer, here’s a chance to win a bonanza of books! Read all the details and follow along the blog tour till April 10th to win big!

But don’t dilly-dallly too long. You’ll want to join me at MY blog, Cathy C.’s Hall of Fame on Friday, April 1, when Kristi Holl visits. Kristi’s written a wonderful book called More Writer’s First Aid and it’s packed with writing aids for whatever ails your writing. She’s giving away a copy of her book, so you’ll want to throw your name in for that prize! And you’ll want to hear her answers to some of the most common writing problems, too.

If winning books is something you enjoy, then check out blogs where folks review books and sponsor giveaways. Or make sure to sign up for Twitter and follow publishers who produce the books you read. Publishers are always giving away ARCs and debut books. It just takes a few minutes a day on Twitter to find book deals. (And the publishers pay the shipping to you!)

So, finding books to fill up your bookshelves with great reads is easy. Finding time to read all the books? Not so much.