Tuesday, June 30, 2009


"I have a great story, but I just can't seem to finish! In the middle, I get stuck!" I hear this all the time from students when I visit schools! But let me tell you a secret. . . . . . . .All authors have difficulty at one point or another while working on a story. Just like you, we get stuck!

So here are some things to do when you are at the point when you feel like you are caught in a sticky mire of sucking-you-under quicksand!

1. Go do something fun. Take in a movie. Read a book. Watch some TV. Visit with friends. Guess what? A writer's sub-conscious is still working while you are just hanging out. A lot of times after I've seen a movie, the way to continue my novel will have popped into my head. And I'll be ready to sit back down with my computer and my story.

2. Try outlining. Writing down on paper where you are headed can sometimes help you fill in all those gaps that are driving you crazy. (And you thought all those hours spent outlining with your teachers were a waste!)

3. And lastly, when your muse has fled, sometimes you will just have to just power through. Like a marathon runner who feels like giving up in the middle of the race, you may have to push through the difficult times. Sit down and just make yourself write. Set a word limit for yourself and then make yourself write until you've reached that goal. Don't worry if it's not perfect. You can always change it later. But the act of writing will sometimes help you get your muse back, and let you finish your story in triumph.

On a last note, my blog may be a bit inconsistent over the summer. I apologize but I will be spending time doing my own writing at a cabin by a lake without the benefit of the internet. I hope you all have an amazing summer!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


I am sitting here this afternoon, writing to you in a sweaty shirt and yoga pants, having just taken a four mile walk around Eagle Lake in Acadia National Park. The day was glorious, and I feel great. But if I were a character in a book, just exactly would it say about me that this is what I am wearing? I guess you could surmise that I enjoy exercising. But that would be incorrect. I hate exercising! However, I do enjoy a good walk on a lovely day. If, as a writer, you wanted to express that, you might have your character wear a pair of sturdy shoes and a wide-brimmed hat - these items would far better describe someone who enjoys a good walk in the sunshine while not necessarily being an exercise freak.

Clothes are an important element in helping your reader gain insight to your character. Think about it. Can you imagine Pigpen in a pair of designer jeans? Likewise, would Christopher Robin look right in a tuxedo? So while you as a real person may change it up(no pun intended) when writing, your characters are not allowed that luxury. Everything they wear are clues to your reader as to what to expect: who your character is and what makes them tick.

So think carefully about how you want your character to come across to your reader. If you want your character to be graceful and charming, a pair of capris with holes in them would not be the best choice of clothing. If you want your character to appear old and crotchety, don't let them listen to music on an IPod. It just wouldn't make sense. In the world of writing, clothes (and accessories) do, indeed, make the man!

Monday, June 8, 2009


When reading a great book, I sometimes sit back and wish I was as talented as the writer of that book. But over the years, I've learned an important secret - talent can only get you so far - the rest has to come from your heart. Staying upbeat and believing in yourself in the face of rejection is hard to do. So today, I thought I would share with you this fantastic video I found on the internet! I hope these inspirational people will help you in your quest to be a writer! I know they inspire me.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Okay, yes, I admit it. I'm kidding! But writing contests are great ways for young writers to get some publishing credits under their belt. And while you may not be four years old, you don't have to be that much older to participate.

So now that summer is coming around and school is out, get out that computer and start writing. Here are some great contests you can enter:

1. Creative Communications - offers poetry and essay contests. You can win a $50 savings bond and get published. Their site is: http://www.poeticpower.com/Contest.html And you can actually be
only seven!

2. The Young Voices Foundation is sponsoring a contest for a short story. Their site is http://www.youngvoicesfoundation.org/writingcontests.html.
The due date is July 31st so get cooking on those stories (no pun intended since all stories need to include a receipe of some sort) And make sure you read all the directions on how to submit. That is an important process for first-time writers!

3. Or for those age 14-18, try out this site: https://storyhighwayteens-com.netsolads.com/rules.aspx. They have some really cool prizes! You just have to join their website to participate!

So in between splashes in the pool and drinking lemonade, start creating and submitting. You could be an award winning author before the summer is over!