Writing Tips

My Favorite Writing Tips, #3


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Start with a germ, build to a story.

I don’t know about you, but when I started writing, I don’t think I really understood the difference between a concept and a story. In practice what this meant is that I would get super excited about a concept (vampire office worker, man-eating mermaids, etc.). Drunk with enthusiasm, I would dive in and write and write and write, and somehow I would never quite move beyond the concept to the story. Sure, I might have written a few decent scenes that captured the quiet desperation of my office drone vampire, but that was it. Nothing happened. Concepts by nature are flat, one-note flashes of inspiration until they’re fleshed out, but it took me dozens of drafts (a few finished, most abandoned midway) to realize why my stacks of manuscript pages never felt like real novels. (more…)

Writer Interviews, Writing Tips

Extended Interview with Nanci Turner Steveson, Author of SWING SIDEWAYS


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This is an extended version of an interview also appearing on The Swanky Seventeens Debut Club.

Kim Ventrella (that’s me) recently got the chance to speak with fellow debut middle grade author, Nanci Turner Steveson, about her new novel, SWING SIDEWAYS, recently published by HarperCollins.COVER_SwingSideways_final-1

ABOUT THE NOVEL

SWING SIDEWAYS is a heartfelt middle grade debut in the tradition of BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA. Annie spends a magical summer exploring in the countryside with her new friend, California, in search of two missing ponies. But, when Annie discovers the truth behind California’s secrets, everything she’s learned about bravery, forgiveness, loss and love will be put to the test.

(more…)

Writing Tips

Top Ten Writing Tips — Part 1


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This is the start of a series I’ll be doing on my blog featuring my top ten writing tips. So, let’s get down to business:
1. Write (a lot)
Writing is a passion, but it’s also hard work. Not every moment involves sipping triple espressos at a hip coffee shop, letting the grinding of the machines fire your muse. Sometimes (most of the time), you have to forget about the dark sunglasses and adorable misanthropy and sit down at the kitchen table and write. And we’re not talking about a few expertly crafted sentences scribbled feverishly whenever the muse happens to strike. Writers who hope to make a living with their writing can’t wait for the muse. They have to write through hangovers, holiday weekends and looming mushroom-clouds of self-doubt. Some days will feel like caffeine-fueled love fests, every word streaming perfectly formed onto the paper. Other times, writing will feel like giving birth to a demon baby, the kind with pointy horns and teeth. No matter what type of day it is, try your best to write, and write a lot.

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Writing Tips

Go the Distance with SCBWI Oklahoma


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2016-Spring-Conference-FlyerOne of the best parts of my writing journey has been discovering the friendship and encouragement of fellow writers. The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) is a national organization dedicated to bringing together the creators and facilitators of wonderful children’s literature. SCBWI has many regional chapters, including here in Oklahoma, that provide networking and learning opportunities to beginning and established writers.

This year, I have the privilege of serving on the publicity committee for the SCBWI Oklahoma Spring Conference. Our theme is “Go the Distance.” As an attendee, you will get a chance to learn from and submit your work to seasoned professionals, such as Sara Sargent, Executive Editor at HarperCollins Children’s Books, and Vicki Selvaggio, Associate Agent with The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency. (more…)

Writing Tips

Find Your Voice


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Voice is that nebulous, often hard-to-define concept that makes your writing sing. At its core, voice reflects the unique lens through with you see the world. Like Neil Gaiman once said, “The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision.” We’ve all heard the old adage that every story has already been told. Editors and agents read hundreds of queries every month, many pitching stories with similar concepts to yours. The only thing you have that nobody on earth can replicate is the unique combination of life experience and DNA that you alone possess. Your voice should come from this deep-down, irreproducible place.

unique

So how do you find your unique voice? Here are a few tips that have helped me along the way: (more…)

Book Raves

The Imaginary: Book Rave


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Never lose your ability to see the extraordinary. That should be the tagline for A.F. Harrold‘s middle grade novel, The Imaginary (illustrated by the fabulous Emily Gravett).

Harrold tells the story of Rudger and Amanda. Amanda is a real girl with a powerful imagination. She dreams up an imaginary Friend named Rudger, and together they go on incredible adventures. True, Amanda bosses him around and sometimes hurts his feelings, but Rudger will always be her Friend, until… (more…)