Writing Tips

How to Support Your Favorite Authors


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With so many awesome novels coming out this year, I thought it was time to re-post my infographic on how to support your favorite authors. We need stories that help us think, grow and empathize with others, but being an author is a difficult job. We turn ourselves inside out for the sake of our stories. Sometimes we get it right, sometimes we don’t, but either way, the fate of our beloved stories is out of our hands. Our books might speak to a single reader, or a thousand, or a million. Our characters may be praised or vilified. Readers and critics might shower us with love, or thoughtful criticism, or a combination of the two. Trolls might spread hate for the sheer joy of destruction. Success as an author means you open yourself up to all of this, the good and the bad, the helpful and the hurtful. In light of this, I plan to do what I can this year to support my favorite authors as they travel along this daunting path.

How to Support Your Favorite Authors

 

Book Raves

Braced: Book Rave


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In her seventh grade year, Rachel Brooks plans to start on her school’s soccer team, hang with her best friends and maybe get a boyfriend. She doesn’t plan to wear a hard plastic back brace twenty-three hours a day that stretches from her shoulders to her hips.

Rachel nbracedeeds the brace to prevent the curve in her spine, caused by scoliosis, from getting worse. She understands how important it is, but that doesn’t alter the fact that the brace changes everything. Wearing clothes, playing soccer, even hanging with her friends become new and daunting challenges. To make matters worse, her mother doesn’t seem to understand why she’s having such a hard time adjusting to life in the brace.

Readers will ache as Rachel confronts cruelty at school, misunderstandings at home and disappointments on the soccer field. Author Alyson Gerber has crafted an honest, realistic, funny voice that will draw readers in and keep them rooting for Rachel till the very end. Particularly poignant are the complicated relationships that Gerber draws between Rachel and her mother and Rachel and her best friends.

An important book about finding inner strength even in difficult situations.

Book Raves

The Poet’s Dog: Book Rave


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Teddy, a dog, lives in a cabin in the woods with his best friend, Sylvan, a poet. Sylvan reads him stories every night, so many stories that he learns how to talk. But, although Teddy can talk, only special people can hear him, i.e. children and poets. Teddy is happy in his cabin with Sylvan, until one day Sylvan gets sick.

A quiet tale about the healing power of friendship, The Poet’s Dog manages to be poignant, heartbreaking and heroic all in under ninety pages. This is a perfect winter read, especially for me, since my life dream is to live in a cabin in the woods with my dog and write 🙂

Writing Tips

How I Became a Writer


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My first foray into writing greatness came when I won second place in a Think Ink creative writing contest in second grade. I don’t remember the specifics of my story, except that it was essentially a fan-fiction version of my favorite short story at the time, “The Landlady” by Roald Dahl. Yes, it’s true, second grade me did not enjoy Barbie or Disney princesses; she was much more interested in sadistic landladies who killed and stuffed their guests. As far as I can recall, my story was even named “The Landlady,” a fact I only remember because the announcer at the awards ceremony called it “Bag Lady,” which upset me greatly at the time.

Years later, in fifth grade, bored with the usual, nauseating yearbook messages, I decided to get creative. So, when someone asked me to sign their yearbook, I wrote something like, “Hi, I really hope you DON’T go to an amusement park this summer and have all of your internal organs ripped out by a rogue carousel horse that magically comes to life…Have a great summer!” These messages were so popular that everyone in class lined up to discover the elaborate way in which I hoped they DIDN’T die. After I’d finished, I remember someone saying that I would grow up to be a mystery writer.

So, looking back, I think my journey to writing was appropriately weird and creepy. What about you? How did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

Book Raves

Bone Dog: Book Rave


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Bone DogThis Halloween, I rediscovered one of my favorite picture books, the whimsical, heartbreaking Bone Dog by author/illustrator Eric Rohmann.

One night under a full moon, Gus’s faithful dog and best friend, Ella, tells him she’s getting older, but promises to be with him no matter what happens. Ella passes away soon after, leaving Gus so sad he never wants to leave the house. When Halloween comes around, however, he pulls on his costume and sets off trick-or-treating by himself. The spread showing Gus standing alone in a graveyard holding his candy hits especially hard, due to Rohmann’s muted colors, beautifully stylized imagery and evocative phrases like, “The clouds swallowed the moon.”

Gus’s loneliness is interrupted when a band of wise-cracking skeletons rise from their graves to surround him. They invite him to join them in a raucous danse macabre, until they figure out that he’s not a real skeleton, just a boy in costume, and they decide to eat him instead.

Just as silhouetted skeleton fingers reach across the page to snatch Gus, Ella, now the Bone Dog, descends from the sky surrounded by an ethereal glow. With Ella’s help, Gus frightens off the skeletons, and the two friends return to the same moonlit hill they sat on when Ella was dying. When Gus asks if he’ll ever see Ella again, she repeats that “a promise made under a full moon cannot be broken,” and readers know that she’ll be with Gus always, if only in spirit.

This is a perfect, subtle, simple and yet expansive book on finding solace and wonder in the death of a beloved pet. Like all great storytellers, Rohmann helps readers understand and transcend one of life’s most distressing situations.

Writing Tips

Writing Memorable Characters


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From the misunderstood Lady Macbeth to the beloved Wilbur the pig, some literary characters stick with us long after the story ends. They are powerful, conniving, selfless, greedy and, most of all, far from ordinary. Like Paul Bunyan, these unforgettable characters tower over the rest and make even the most mundane moments seem larger-than-life.

shakespearchars

So how can you turn your run-of-the-mill lumberjack into a literary giant? (more…)

Writing Tips

Writer vs. Dr. Dread


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You know that moment halfway through a sentence when a sour taste creeps up the back of your throat? Is it the coffee and candy straws you ate for breakfast making an unwanted reappearance? Nope, it’s that crusty slimeball of awfulness I call Dr. Dread.49710_XXX_v1And no, he’s not a delicious combination of Jamaican seasonings, but he is a real jerk. I’m talking about fear. (more…)

Writing Tips

My Favorite Writing Tips #4-10!


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I’m back with numbers 4-10 of my favorite writing tips! This is a super fluid list, but in keeping with my presentation earlier this year at the Southwest Oklahoma City Library Writing Conference, here they are:

4. Learn to love revision

So true!!! You’ll do a ton of revising before ever submitting (hopefully), and then once you have an editor, the revision really begins. If you’re serious about writing, be prepared to go all in on the revising front. And, hey, it always helps if you love what you do, so figure out a way to love revising. If all goes to plan, you’ll end up with a stronger, deeper manuscript in the end. (more…)

Writing Tips

Adding Depth to Your Story


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I recently met with my book club for writerly types, where we’re reading Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King. Confession, I hadn’t actually done the reading, but as I was flipping through the chapter and seeing highlights I’d made my first time through the book, I was reminded of some of my aha! moments.

Leave Room for the Reader.

Readers are smart (even/especially young readers). One of the worst mistakes you can make is to underestimate their intelligence. Not only will they be annoyed, but they’ll also get bored. To engage readers, you need to give them an active role in the story. Make them work for it. What’s the point of reading a story if you’re not going to be inspired/changed/horrified/heartbroken by the end of it? (more…)