Saturday, December 31, 2011

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Write your horoscope

So today I was proofing the page that contains the horoscopes and thought, "What would I like my horoscope to say?"

So here's today's writing challenge: Write your horoscope for Jan. 1, 2012.

Here's mine:

Cancer (June 21-July 11) ***** Today is the beginning of a great year in which you will see multiple book deals and career advancement beyond your wildest expectation. Good news will come to every member of your family and while you might not always be together physically, you will be forever close in heart. Tonight: Relax and spend time with a loved one. Aquarius provides heated romance. Watch the gin and tonics. 

Now let's see yours:)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Tuesday trivia

Q. What year did Dick Clark’s “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve" debut and who were the performers?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas to all...

"For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord."

I hope that each of you has a blessed Christmas filled with peace and joy and love, Buffy

Friday, December 23, 2011

Google Doodle plays 'Jingle Bells'

Just what I've been waiting for -- holiday Google Doodle!

Under each letter in "Google" is a colored light. Click on a light and the screen turns black and the letter above the light changes into an object (Santa, Snowflake, Bell, Snowman, Candle and Present) When you've clicked on all of the lights, you will hear sleigh bells and then "Jingle Bells." The presentation finishes with search results for "happy holiday."

Love it!

Other cool Google Doodles
Google Doodle honors Diego Rivera
Google Doodle honors Mark Twain
Create your own hand turkey for Thanksgiving
Google doodle honors Louis Daguerre
Google Doodle honors veterans
Google Doodle honors Marie Curie
Google Doodle celebrates Halloween
Google Doodle honors Art Clokey, creator of Gumby and Pokey
Happy Birthday Google
Jim Henson

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

'Dark Knight Rises' trailer

This looks sooooo good! Can't wait to see the final film in Christopher Nolans’s Batman trilogy.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Grammar tip: That vs. which

Here's a mistake that I see a lot -- folks using "which" when they should be using "that."

So how do you know which one to use?

Ask yourself; is the information that follows "that" or "which" essential to the sentence? In other words, is the information vital to understanding the sentence? If it is, use "that." If it's not, use "which."

In most cases, you need to use a comma before "which" and a comma after the phrase you are adding.

Some examples:

Friday, December 16, 2011

A poem in honor of my birth

I was reorganizing my basement  (Photos here) when I came across this poem my aunt wrote for her sister, my mom, in honor of my birth. Definitely a keeper. I will see Aunt Maddie at the holidays and can't wait to share my find with her. Enjoy!

Here are the words.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Grammar tip: Over and more than

Lots of us get confused about when to use "over" and when to use "more than."

You use "over" when you're talking about spatial relationships. As in, I hurt my knee when I jumped over the hurdle. (Note: True story. Ended up having knee surgery)

"More than" is used in nearly all other cases, especially with numbers. Our annual charity auction to benefit the food bank raised more than $10,000 this year. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

(Long) quote of the day from me

I never understood how someone could step up to the plate and not whack the ball as hard as they could. It's not always going to be a homerun. Heck, it might not even be a single. Could be a out. But you have to try. You have to give it everything you got. If you fail, you fail. Tomorrow's another day. You step up to the plate again and maybe, just maybe, this time you'll succeed.

I've watched too many people step up to that plate and cower in the face of the big man on the mound. He's scary, I know. But you're scarier. And, you've got something he doesn't. And that, my friend, is the determination to succeed. You know that it might not be today. Could be tomorrow or the day after that. But one day, hopefully soon, you'll hit that ball out of the park and the dude on the mound will shake his sweaty head in disbelief. "He did that?" he'll ask. And you'll look at him, a smirk sneaking onto your face, because you know something he never figured out -- that all the curve balls in the world won't stop you from going after what you want.

That, my friend, is called determination. It's knowing with every ounce of your being that you succeed even when you try and fail. That success isn't something you're owed, but something you make. And you make it through not giving up, but by stepping up to that plate time after time and whacking that ball as hard as you can. So no wimpy hits here. I want to see big-ass tries, people. I know you can do it.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Pet peeve: First annual

OK. Just got to get this off my chest. There is no such thing as "first annual." It drives me insane when I see this.

An event must be held at least two consecutive years to qualify as "annual."

Here's an example:

Instead of this:

The Northeastern Senior Citizens will hold its first annual Jingle Bell Journey from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday.

Say this:

The Northeastern Senior Citizens will hold Jingle Bell Journey from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. The group hopes to make it an annual event.

And thank you for listening to my rant. Have a marvelous Monday!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Sharing an Aha Moment

OK. So I admit it, this doesn't have to do with writing, but it does have to do with being creative and thinking outside of the box.

Here's a link to a post I did on the Smart blog. For those not-in-the-know, Smart magazine is a glossy, bi-monthly women's magazine that my staff produces. Brand extensions include a Facebook page, Twitter account and a way cool blog.

Anyway, I turned a Starbucks cardboard coffee cup sleeve into a napkin holder and two gift tags. Find out how I did it.The post includes a video, but you got to promise not to laugh.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A writer's wish list

Dear Santa, please bring the following (in no particular order):

1. A strong voice
2. Muse
3. Creativity
4. Time (can never have enough writing time)
5. Thoughtfulness
6. Patience

P.S. I will probably add to this list and will send you revises (via email, Twitter or Facebook)

What would be on your list?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Grammar tip: Might versus may

"May" implies permission to do something:;
My parents said I may go to the prom.
My mom said I may not wear my torn jeans to school.
"Might" means that something is possible: 
The school board might vote to allow torn jeans in school. 

I might get an interview with George Clooney. 

TV commercials Part 1: Dolls

Watching all of the Christmas commercials reminded me of some vintage ones. Enjoy! 

Chatty Cathy


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Sign on my computer...

This is the sign that I have tapped to my computer. And don't look at the dust! 

In case you can't read it, it says:

"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass. It's about learning to dance in the rain."

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mark Twain and me (well, sort of)

Read my post about today's Google Doodle honoring Mark Twain here. I thought my writer friends would enjoy this post, too. And, read about the Halloween float I once made depicting this famous whitewashing scene.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Finding time to write

Is it just me, or is this time of year especially difficult to find time to write? With all of the holiday preparations and shopping and wrapping and parties and more parties I feel like I'm constantly going, going, going -- like the Energizer bunny.

Not only does the busyness of life eat into my precious writing time, but I don't have the time to reflect on the Advent season as much as I should. Now I know what you're thinking. It's all about priorities, and you're right. It is. I choose to do one thing over another. I could ditch the party and write, right? It's not always that easy. I have a family and friends, and they are important, too. Anyway...

I'm trying not to beat myself up over my lack of wordage. I mean, I do work long days. I do have a family to care for. I do have volunteer commitments. What about you? Do you find this time of year especially challenging. Any tips to share?

Monday, November 28, 2011

It's that time of year....

It's that time of year when the TV is rockin' with a blizzard of holiday specials. Totally love it! Here are some headed our way. Do you have a favorite? Mine is "It's a Wonderful Life." I talk about it in this post.

"Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” 8 p.m. Tuesday on CBS

—"Christmas in Rockefeller Center,” 8 p.m. Wednesday on NBC

—"Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town,” 8 p.m. Thursday on ABC

"CMA Country Christmas,” 9 p.m. Thursday on ABC

"It’s a Wonderful Life,” 8 p.m. Saturday on NBC

Monday, November 21, 2011

When an idea won't let go

OK. So. Working on a new idea. Might be more women's fiction than YA. Still not sure about that. My brain is trying to make sense of it. I can't wait to see if I can make it work. Like my last YA novel, this one's different. Gonna give it my best shot, anyway. I don't have a choice. This idea has grabbed me with such intensity that even if I tried to get away, I couldn't. I know better than to fight it, so I'll go with it and see where it leads me.

When an idea comes to you, what do you do? Do you roll it over in your brain to see if you think it might work? Do you write an outline or the first chapter? What do you do to determine if the idea has merit? Have you ever gotten an idea that you thought was really great but when you started to write it discovered that it wasn't?

For me, I know I must at least give an idea a shot when it hangs on, when I can't stop thinking about it. Sometimes it's a character and not the idea that won't let go. I'd love to hear your venting process, if you have one.   

Friday, November 18, 2011

Disney releases first Brave trailer

"If you had the chance to change your fate, would you?"

This looks like my kind of story!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

This kid's gonna be fun (and bad)

I know stories about kids who wake up and everything’s different has been done a zillion times. But my story’s different. I never woke up. At least not until…

Oops! Kind of getting ahead of myself.

Once upon a time. Nah. Need a beginning a little more grown up. OK. Got it. My middle name’s Trouble. At least that’s what my mom’s always saying. “Will, middle name Trouble,” she says, and then yells at me for whatever it is I’ve done wrong.

So the other day I got in big trouble at school, which means I got in even bigger trouble at home. But it was really Ryley’s fault. He bet me a dollar that I wouldn’t tell our teacher, Mr. Mock, that his dandruff looked like snow on the back of his blue shirt. I thought it was an easy buck, so after recess I waited for an opening. Sort of like when I play guard in basketball and look for an opening to push through and score. I didn’t have to wait long.

Mr. Mock was telling us about the pilgrims, and I raised my hand.

“Yes, Will.”

“Did they have dandruff shampoo?”

Mr. Mock’s face turned flamingo pink. I could tell he was thinking about how to answer my question but I didn’t give him time.

“Cause if they didn’t have any dandruff shampoo, their clothes would look like yours.”

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

'Twilight' trivia

How many of you can't wait until Friday when “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part I” hits the big screen?

Here's a trivia question: What year was the original “Twilight” book released?
A. 1998
B. 2002
C. 2005
D. 2007

Here's some more trivia questions for fun.

Quote of the day

"Hope is the thing with feathers, that perches in the soul, and sings the tune without the words, and never stops at all." --EMILY DICKINSON

Monday, November 14, 2011

New trailer for Hunger Games

I so can't wait!

On the other side

Here's an interview I gave for YDR Insider blog. Not use to being on the other side but I gave it my best shot.

When good is bad

This story about Holocaust survivor Rochelle Sameroff by one of my reporters, Erin McCracken, got me thinking about how bad luck can really be good luck, we just don't realize it at the time.

This is an incredible story about how scarlet fever saved Rochelle, who was quarantined with scarlet fever. When her parents and little sister were taken, she was in the hospital. Read how scarlet fever saved Rochelle's life.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Use you talents

Have you ever sat in church and felt like the sermon was directed at you? Today was one of those days. Kind of made me itch, ya know? The Gospel was from Matthew 25: 14-30. It was the parable of talents.

You know the story -- the one about the tragedy of wasted opportunity. So a rich man is going away and before he does, he meets with his slaves. He gives one dude five talents, another two and another one. The first two dudes use their talents and double them. The third dude buries his talent in a hole. When the rich man returns and checks in to see how his slaves have done with the talents he has given them, he praises the two slaves who doubled their talents. But, as you can imagine, the master's not too happy with the third slave who was lazy and did nothing with his.

So here's how I see it. God has given each of us talents. Maybe you can write or sing or paint. Maybe you're a good listener or teacher. Heck, maybe you can run a mean mile or solve Suduko puzzles in record time. Whatever your talents might be, you should use them, not bury them. 

I've met people who say, "I can't do that." It's often not that they can't do it, it's that they're too afraid to try. Everything we have God has given us. He expects us to use our talents. He wants us to use our talents. He doesn't want us to be like the third slave who dug a hole and buried his talent and did nothing with it.

So why am I sharing this with you today? I was having a little pity party in the pew before church began today. You know the moment -- one of those why-do-I-even-bother-to-write-if-no-one-is-going-to-read-it moments. An if-I-had-any-talent-my-agent-would-be-able-to-sell-my-work moment.

And then it happened. I swear I didn't know what the sermon was about today. But then the pastor spoke, and he talked about talents and that's when it clicked. I haven't buried my talent. I'm using my talent (at least the talent I think I have) to the best of my ability. Dang, I'm trying to double it. And, that's all I can do. The rest is out of my hands.

So here's what I want to say to you. If you're a writer and you're struggling and doubting, don't give up. If you're not a writer and you're reading this blog, whatever your talent is, don't give up. Don't ever get frustrated and bury your talents. And don't be afraid to try.

You've been given a gift by God to use. Use your talent or talents that you've been given. And remember, no talent is too small.

God bless each of you this Sunday and I hope you have an awesome week.

If you enjoyed this post, check out these columns:

Don't be afraid to show love
One special moment can reveal a life
Celebrating the strands that bind us together
Seeds of healing fall from the sky
Tapestry: A shift of view
Our choices determine the impact
Learn to have the generosity of children
We learn from our failures

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Minute list: Fall

Let's do a  minute list. You know the routine. I give you a word and you write one word to describe it. Copy and paste list in comments. My answers are in ( )s. This should take you no more than a minute. The theme is fall.

Trees (shedding)
Leaves (crunchy)
Pumpkin (lopsided)
Bonfire (dancing)
Flowers (drooping)
Gourd (bumpy)
Football game (landslide)
Turkey (crisp)
Apples (tart)
Pilgrims (brave)


Monday, November 7, 2011

Buffy's World campaign

Those of you who follow me on this blog, might be interested in the marketing campaign behind my social media blog, Buffy's WorldRead about the campaign and see some of the ads that are part of the marketing effort.

Will, middle name Trouble

There’s a mischievous boy who’s been visiting me lately. He comes in the quiet of the night, between crawling in bed and falling asleep.

His name is Will, middle name Trouble. And I’m thinking that Will might just be my next middle-grade novel. He’s funny and bad, and he makes me laugh. And anyone who can make me laugh gets at least a literary try from me. Maybe Will and I will go somewhere and maybe we won’t. But I’m sure going to have fun trying.

When do ideas come to you? Any particular time or just whenever?

Quote of the day

"Writing became such a process of discovery that I couldn't wait to get to work in the morning: I wanted to know what I was going to say." -- Sharon O'Brien


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Liebster blog award

YAY! I received the Liebster Award from cyber friend Halle Gomez of W is for Writing blog. 'Liebster' means 'favorite' or 'dearest' in German. In accepting the award, the recipient agrees to:
  • Thank the person that gave the award and link back to their blog
  • Copy and paste the award to your blog
  • Reveal the 5 blogs you have chosen to award and let them know by commenting on their blog
  • Hope they pay it forward by accepting and awarding it to bloggers they would like to honor
The 5 blogs I have chosen to spotlight are:

The Hook by Louise Caiola

Mainewoods by Marcy Hatch

Papergreat by Chris Otto

Random Thoughts by Sharon Mayhew

Terry Lynn Johnson

Quote of the day

"Believe in love. Believe in magic. Hell, believe in Santa Claus. Believe in others. Believe in yourself. Believe in your dreams. If you don't, who will?" - Jon Bon Jovi


Monday, October 31, 2011

New agent alert: Brooks Sherman

Brooks Sherman is now an associate agent at FinePrint Literary Management. He is actively seeking a range of both fiction and nonfiction projects. You can find him on Twitter at @byobrooks. Details here.

Happy Halloween fellow writers

The scene outside my door on Saturday. I hope you have a fabulous Halloween. Have fun and be safe.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Writing scenes with Tom Huang

Today I sat in on a webinar with Tom Huang, Assistant Managing Editor for Sunday and Enterprise at The Dallas Morning News and Ethics and Diversity Fellow at The Poynter Institute.

Tom talked about reporting and writing scenes. While the focus of this seminar was non-fiction, I think many of my fiction writer friends will find what he had to say helpful.

Here are some bullet points.

·    Scenes are the building blocks of dramatic storytelling
·    A story is a string of pearls, think of it as a sequence of dramatic scenes
·    Scenes involve strong characters, action and dialogue
·    Think about turning points, moments of discovery. Bring protagonist face to face with a dilemma. Know what the complication or main obstacle is
·    Scenes can help develop a story’s larger theme
·    Scenes reveal aspects of a protagonist’s character (ie, motives)
·    Scenes come to life with details that transport us into the stories. Writers use sights, sounds, smells, tastes to bring people into this world.
·    Show don’t tell
·    Evoke emotions, stir memories
·    Using details in a very spare way allows reader to add some of their own experiences
·    Action is comprised of strong verbs and active voice
·    What we gain from the scene is not information but experience
·    Scenes help readers feel what it might have been like to be in that situation

Elements of a scene
·    Characters
·    Actions
·    Dialogue
·    Sense of place
·    Details
·    Emotion
·    A range of views, from wide angle to close-up

·    People want to read about people. They want to hear their voices, see them, etc. Ask yourself if your characters grab the reader in some way.
·   Keep narrative “camera” on your main character for most of the story

·   Don’t pack the story or scene with too many characters
·   Show protagonist’s physical details, mannerisms, movement, let reader  “hear” protagonist’s voice

·    Wants and needs of character drive plot forward
·    Use strong verbs
·    Use active voice
·    Start scene in middle of the action
·    Pay attention to how characters move and interact

·    Dialogue advances narrative while quotes delay it. When you read a quote, you step out of the narrative flow. Dialogue happens within the narrative flow.

Sense of place
·    Story needs to have a geographical heart
·    You want to leave a sense of place, not just a laundry list of details
·    Allow time to roam around a place to get to know it better
·    Research history of the place
·    One suggestion if reporting from a place is to stay in a locally owned place (think bed and breakfast) as opposed to a national chain.

·    Be highly selective
·    Use details that reveal something important about your character or moves the plot forward. Also, details that are important to the larger theme
·    Spare details stimulates memories
·    Show don’t tell
·    Use spare, simple language
·    Reveal person’s emotions through their action

How to select which scenes to include
·    Which scenes have the most dramatic potential
·    Watch for turning points (ie. successes, failures, etc.)
·    Start with a scene that has main character in it
·    Good scene causes subsequent scene to occur

Monday, October 24, 2011

Where's the man going?

I’m constantly wondering about everything. For example, if I see a plane in the sky, I wonder where it’s headed. I wonder who’s inside the plane. Then I start to pick a destination and form images of the passengers based on where I’ve decided the plane is going and the time of year.

For example, if I decide that the plane’s headed for Disney World and it’s summer, I’ll usually picture the plane packed with moms and dads and kids wearing shorts and sneakers.

Are you like this? Sometimes it drives me insane because I can’t help wondering and thinking and that leads to creating, which can become extremely detailed and that takes time.

The other day, I was driving home from the store. I saw a man with a backpack and a wooden walking stick trudging along the side of the road. So where do you think he was headed? What was he doing? Give me your most creative answer. And let your imagination run wild. Think outside the box.

Quote of the day

"I'm often asked if writing classes are any help, and my immediate and enthusiastic answer is always, Yes! Writing classes are wonderful for the writers who teach them and can't make ends meet without that supplementary income. They are also good places for unattached people to meet, talk about books and movies, have a few drinks and possibly hook up. But teach you to write? No. A writing class will not teach you to write." --Stephen King
What a set-up, eh? But what a punch he delivers.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Story ideas fighting to be first

Three new ideas for middle-grade books popped into my head. I like them all. When this happens, how do you decide which idea to pursue? Or, do you pursue each, perhaps a chapter or so, and see which one gets legs? Or, do you outline each to see which one feels right?

We've talked before about outlining, and I generally don't do it. My latest YA was different. Because of its nature, I absolutely had to outline to keep track of everything. But generally I know the beginning, know the ending and some of the plot points along the way. The story goes where the characters lead me. So outlining all three ideas wouldn't work for me.

How do you handle this situation? So far, my ideas are jotted down on scrap paper. I've been thinking about all three and no one in particular seems to have an advantage. Thoughts? 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Quote of the day

“If we’re growing, we’re always going to be out of our comfort zone.” – John Maxwell

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Creating beautiful trees

Some days I question whether I’m doing what I’m meant to do. Do you ever feel like this? So sure of what you’re doing one day and not so much the next? I’d say that I’m a pretty confident person, but still.

I’m grateful for the gift God has given me – to be able to create beautiful trees with just a seed of an idea. But even after the tree is standing tall, it is open to the fickleness of the world. Maybe it’s not good enough or strong enough. Heck, maybe I’m the only person who loves it. But, dang it, I can’t give up on my tree. On any of my trees. I must keep believing, keep pushing forward. I must battle the wind and sleet and freezing rain that threatens my resolve.

So today at church, I asked God to give me strength and patience. To guide and direct me. That if writing novels is what I’m meant to do, to send me a sign. I believe in myself. I know that my agent believes in me. And I pray that God believes in me, that I’m using His gift in the way He wants me to.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Google Doodle honors Gumby creator

I grew up watching Gumby and Pokey. I loved those guys! So it was totally awesome to see today's animated Google Doodle that honors Arthur “Art” Clokey, who created these characters. Art was a pioneer of stop motion clay animation. He was born on Oct. 12, 1921.

Besides Gumby and Pokey, there were the Blockheads, who were troublemakers; Nopey, Gumby's dog; Gumba, Gumby's mom; Gumbo, Gumby's dad; Prickle, a yellow dinosaur; and others.

I wish I still had my bendable Gumby and Pokey figures. (Sigh)

For more info about Gumby and gang, check out Gumby World.  Also, on Wikipedia.

Which is your fave Art Clokey character?

Some other cool Google Doodles
Happy Birthday Google
Jim Henson
Albert Szent-Györgyi
Freddie Mercury
Jorge Luis Borges
Lucille Ball 100th birthday
Gregor Mendel
Summer Soltice
Les Paul playable Google Doodle
Martha Graham
Royal wedding
Earth Day
Charlie Chaplin
First human space flight
200th birthday of Robert Bunsen
Jules Verne
John James Audubon

Here is an archive of all of the Google Doodles throughout the world. It's really neat to see ones that appeared in other countries.

Noted: cross-posted with Buffy's World

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Quote of the day

"You get ideas from daydreaming. You get ideas from being bored. You get ideas all the time. The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we're doing it.” -- Neil Gaiman

Monday, October 10, 2011

Chance to win Guide to Literary Agents

Don't miss your chance to win the 2012 edition of Guide to Literary Agents. All you have to do is comment on Chuck Sambuchino's post to get in the drawing. Good luck to all who enter.

Papergreat: A great blog

Hey fellow writers, check out my friend's blog, Papergreat. Chris Otto's blog has a lot of really cool content on it. I love the old books he finds and all the cool stuff he discovers inside them. You will, too.

What is the most unusual item you ever found tucked inside a book? Could have been one you picked up at a yard sale or borrowed from the library. 

Too much adult reality in kids' books?

Check out this New York Times Op-ed piece on the amount of adult reality in children's books. I must admit that when I first picked up Suzanne Collins’s “The Hunger Games” I wasn't sure if I was going to like it. The idea of child sacrifice didn't sit well with me. I mean, kids killing kids was just so, so wrong that I couldn't quite wrap my brain around it.

Anyway, I read the series and loved it. Really, really loved it. Still, I don't think I could have written these books. I think that if the series idea had popped into my head I would have quickly dismissed it. It's just too dark for me, and there's just something about kids killing kids that I'm not sure I would have been able to overcome. And, to be honest, I would have questioned if an agent, publishing house, or parents would have been interested in a book so dark, if they would have even thought there would be a market for it.

In my book "The Lion Awakens," the kids kill an adult or two, but it's because they are defending themselves. It's either the bad guys or the kids. This didn't bother me. Yes, it was dark and scary but because it wasn't a kid against a kid I was OK with it.

 Read the piece when you get a chance. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

What would you change?

Here's something I've been wondering. Let's say you wrote a book and you were asked to change something about the protagonist.

Perhaps he was straight and you were asked to make him gay. Or white and you were asked to make him black.

Or maybe she was a vampire and you were asked to make her a zombie. Or she was a fae and you were asked to make her a witch.

Could you? Would you?

I can't wrap my brain around writing a book, for instance, with a vampire MC and then rewriting that same book with the MC as a zombie. Maybe it's just me, but like zombies are so not attractive. I don't think I'd be able to make a zombie sexy. Maybe that just means I stink as a writer. But I have to feel it, you know. I have to feel that passion and cuddling up to a zombie, who by the way isn't even a live being, makes me want to puke not purr.

I will go to the ends of the earth to make my novel the best it can be. I'll rewrite the entire novel if I have to. But I'm not sure I can change something so vital to the story that it, well, changes the entire story.

Have you ever been asked to do this? Have you been successful? Thoughts from my writerly friends?

Also, my other blog, Buffy's World, was part of a big award win for York Daily Record/Sunday News. YAY for my world!

Contest for children's book authors

MeeGenius is searching for the "next great children’s book author" according to its post. Read all the details and enter by Nov. 1. Good luck to all of you who enter.

Happy birthday, John Lennon

Today is John Lennon's birthday. Happy birthday, John! What is your fave Lennon song? I think mine is "Imagine." Here are the lyrics.


Imagine there's no heaven

It's easy if you try

No hell below us

Above us only sky

Imagine all the people

Living for today...

Imagine there's no countries

It isn't hard to do

Nothing to kill or die for

And no religion too

Imagine all the people

Living life in peace...

You may say I'm a dreamer

But I'm not the only one

I hope someday you'll join us

And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions

I wonder if you can

No need for greed or hunger

A brotherhood of man

Imagine all the people

Sharing all the world...

You may say I'm a dreamer

But I'm not the only one

I hope someday you'll join us

And the world will live as one

Friday, October 7, 2011

Writing tips from Jan Winburn

I recently watched a Poynter webinar on Writing Successful Profiles with Jan Winburn, senior editor for enterprise at I couldn't wait to watch this particular session because I knew Jan would have lots of great information to share. Turns out, she did.

Below is some of what she said. I'm sharing it here, with my writer friends, because while this webinar was directly toward journalists, I think that we can apply much of what she said to fiction writing as well. 

Some background on Jan. She joined CNN in 2009 after more than 30 years as an editor at newspapers and magazines. She edited Lisa Pollak’s 1997 Pulitzer Prize-winning feature story “The Umpire’s Sons” and was named a Times-Mirror Journalist of the Year in 1997 for improving writing at The Baltimore Sun.

Here's some of what Jan said.

A. What reveals character? Jan says appearance, speech, action and thought. 

Appearance This includes features, shape, style, environment, "sense impressions." Also, watch for external things that reveal something internal.

Speech Jan says not to use dialogue to merely convey information. Some information is better left paraphrased.

Action Jan says that actions speak louder than what a person says or think. She suggests looking at past actions and events for clues about the person.

Thought Thought informs motive. It's most interesting when it's in conflict with a person's speech, appearance or action.

B. What is the quest?

What makes a person (or character) who they are? What motivates them? What moments or life events shaped them? Everyone has a quest (get the girl, win the game) and it's up to the reporter/writer to discover that quest. What conflict do they have that they want to resolve? A person's quest is often life-changing for him or her. If you're a reporter, you might have an hypothesis about a person's quest. It's up to you to test it.

Once you know what the quest is, then you know which pearls to include on the story strand.

A work needs focus, a place where all of the rays meet.

C. Getting the details

Ask open-ended questions, such as What's missing from your life? What has made you the most afraid? What do you worry about? A person's answers to these questions can tell a lot about a him or her.

What were the points of time that were critical and defining to them? Don't forget about visuals aids, like scrapbooks and video.

Search for tension. Tension lives inside the quest, lives inside those defining moments.

D. Avoiding the cliche

Let the cliche be a target. Go into a story with an open mind. Be well-informed but wary of biases. Everyone has a dark side. Let it inform, not overwhelm.

E. Greatest virtues

Jan talked about having patience and thoughtfulness. She feels these virtues will help us be successful.

F. Promise of a piece. She also talked about the promise of a piece, that little something that makes you want to keep reading.We need to offer readers this promise.

Every story needs an engine that drives the reader through the story. Do you have that engine in your piece?

Visit my social media blog at Buffy's World

Do you mind if I tweet from your wedding?  

Love my new iPad dock/keyboard

Thursday, October 6, 2011

RIP Steve Jobs and thanks for the inspiration

Some awesome quotes from Steve Jobs's commencement address at Stanford University in 2005 that inspire me. I hope they inspire you.

"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma--which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."

"Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do."

“If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on.”

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Do you mind if I tweet from your wedding?

OK. So you know I love Twitter and Foursquare. And, yeah, I admit that I check in at church on Foursquare and I’m the mayor of it (which, to be clear, doesn’t mean a crock of sauerkraut). But, I have never tweeted the sermon with a hashtag. Maybe I should. Would people follow? Perhaps. Or they might just think I’m one chicken leg short of a church picnic.

So when I read how social media is creeping into the $78-billion-a-year wedding business, it really didn’t surprise me. Peeps share wacky wedding dance videos on YouTube. Some include “QR” barcodes on invitations or live-stream their ceremony for those unable to attend. Others encourage guests to tweet, supplying the hashtag for crowdsourcing. And still others open their party playlists to let loved ones help choose the music or make interactive seating charts so guests can chat online ahead of time.

If I were getting married today, I’d be totally into all of this. Hubs would probably think I’m crazier than he originally thought, but that’s nothing new. I continue to raise that bar.

And, you know, I might just tweet during Pastor Greg’s next sermon. I already blog about his words of wisdom, why not publish his great soundbites. They’d fit in 140 characters for sure. I knew there was a reason, besides sitting in the “family” pew, that I sit in the back of the church.

What do you think of social media as it relates to weddings?

Cross-posted from Buffy's World

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Brain teaser

Saw this brain teaser and wanted to share. Can you figure it out?

You have eight balls all of the same size.  7 of them weigh the same, and one of them weighs slightly more.  How can you find the ball that is heavier by using a balance and only two weighings?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Monday musings...

Here are some thoughts that popped into my head today:

I was thinking of things I no longer use because modern technology has replaced them. For example, I don't use the telephone book anymore. I look numbers and addresses up online. Are there things you no longer use?

I went to see Rock of Ages this past weekend, and I've got to say that the '80s music was the absolute best. I couldn't stop movin' in my seat. Seriously people, the '80s rocked. Well, the music anyway. I can still picture the big hair, leg warmers, shoulder pads, jellies and acid wash jeans. Oh, and wearing lingerie as outwear. Me? Never.

It's too cold for this time of year! The paper said it's going to be a high of 55 today. That's right, a HIGH! Come on people. It's only Oct. 3. It's too early to be this cold. Did I tell you how much I hate being cold. It might be a day for leg warmers, er, maybe not.

Have a marvelous Monday!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Find the telling details

This week, I've asked my staff to observe someone in the newsroom and bring at least three telling details about that person to our next meeting. For example, here are some telling details about someone I know. What do these details tell you about this person? 

1. Wears hats a lot
2. Photographs of two sons on desk
3. On computer is a menagerie of items, all of which mean something: a dried rose from a friend's funeral, a piece of unpopped popcorn from a pastor's sermon, etc.
4. Even number of pencils in pencil caddy.
5. Books lined up from tallest to smallest.

So,  you do the same. Find someone and share a few telling details about them. The detail could be what they wear (ie. Hawaiian shirts) or about their appearance (five o-clock shadow) or something about their cubicle (papers piled everywhere) or bedroom (so many stuffed animals on the bed that you can't see the top of the comforter). Or how they smell (woodsy musk scent or sweaty). Details help us see the person. Show me the person through the details you choose.

Friday, September 30, 2011

I found...

I just found an uneaten dog biscuit in my purse. What's the strangest thing you've ever found in your purse?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I once caught a groundhog...

Tell me something about yourself that no one probably knows. Here's mine.

When I was a kid, I chased a groundhog and caught it by the tail and wanted to bring it home and keep it as a pet.

Now your turn:)

Google launches Dynamic Views

Google launches Dynamic Views/Buffy's World

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Changing pairings for fun

There are lots of famous pairs, things that go together. Like Lucy and Desi or Amos and Andy. Below, I've listed some pairings. What I'd like you to do is change something in the pairing. Do as many as you'd like, pasting your answers in comments.

Think outside the box. And tell me if this was a difficult exercise. We are so used to seeing these things together that to think of them in another combination is challenging. And yet, a great exercise in creative thinking.

Spaghetti and meatballs
Macaroni and cheese

Chips and dip
Rum and coke
Field and stream
Puss and Boots
Fork and knife
Hugs and kisses

Sunday, September 25, 2011

About that blogging...

I’ve been a little scarce around the blogosphere lately, mostly because what little time I have I’ve been working on my latest YA book. When you work full time and have a family and tons of other commitments, time is a scarce commodity. I’ve had to prioritize in order to meet my writing goals, often at the expense of reading and commenting on blogs. For this, I apologize. I’m headed down the homestretch, though, and I hope to get back to visiting all of your blogs soon.

I once read a comment from an agent (not mine) who said something along the lines: No offense, but most of the time writers who blog are just talking to each other. I was a little taken aback by the comment, mostly because I had hoped that I was reaching a much larger audience. And I wondered if what she said was true, did it matter that I was only reaching fellow writers? Did it matter that maybe no agent or editor would ever read one of my posts? Why was I blogging in the first place?

In the end, I decided that my blog was a way to share a little part of my world, and I hoped that in doing so my posts would speak to others or help them in some way. Are my posts always great? No. But the blog provides a platform on which to share one of the most important things in my life – my writing.

What do you think? Do you think we are just talking to each other? And if so, does that matter? What sorts of things do you do to reach a wider audience?

I think that cross promotion is essential to our success. We should be tweeting about our blog posts with links to send people to them. Same for Facebook and Linkedin or any other social media platform you use. And as a writing community, we can help one another by cross promoting. Several of you do this extremely well with what I call “link salads.” These weekly link roundups, such as this one from Adventures in Children's Publishing, helps to get more eyes on our blog posts and drive more traffic to our sites, hopefully increasing our followers.

I’ve seen your blogs grow in followers over the past few years, and it warms my heart to witness their growth. You are reaching more people each and every day. How awesome is that! Keep up the great work, and I hope that the ink is flowing and that you're proud of all that you do.

Friday, September 23, 2011

A peek at my winter look

Here's my winter look, thanks to my good friend Sam. I've also included my fall and spring/summer look. Which do you like best?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

New agent alert: James Schinke

James Schinke has joined AKA Literary as an associate agent. This is awesome news for the agency that represents me.

From AKA website: James studied writing, psychology and business at Clarke College. After working in corporate America for nearly 20 years, James is the newest Associate Agent to the AKA Literary team. While he looks forward to working with authors writing all genres, he especially enjoys YA, thrillers, mystery and cookbooks.

Good luck to everyone who queries James.

Don't miss reading AKA author profiles.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Goodbye Borders, it's been grand

I walked into the local Borders for the last time. Just had to step inside one more time before saying goodbye for good. There wasn't much left, and I didn't stay long. To be honest, it was too despressing. I had dreams of being published one day, of walking into Borders and seeing my book on display. I always try to find  good in bad, hope in despair, life in death. And I pray that out of the ashes the phoenix rises, its a tail of gold and scarlet heralding a grand rebirth.

Where do you buy most of your books? Online via Amazon or Barnes and Noble? An independent bookstore?

Friday, September 16, 2011

I got a new 'do for fall

Sam gave me a fall makeover. What do you think?

10 most challenged books

Here is the list of the 10 most challenged books in the country from 2010 from the American Library Association. How many have you read?
  •   “And Tango Makes Three,” by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
  •    “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” by Sherman Alexie
  •    “Brave New World,” by Aldous Huxley
  •    “Crank,” by Ellen Hopkins
  •    “The Hunger Games,” by Suzanne Collins
  •    “Lush,” by Natasha Friend
  •    “What My Mother Doesn’t Know,” by Sonya Sones
  •    “Nickel and Dimed,” by Barbara Ehrenreich
  •    “Revolutionary Voices,” edited by Amy Sonnie
  •    “Twilight,” by Stephenie Meyer

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Trash the trite

I hate when I read trite expressions or descriptions in writing or worse, when I write them. Make sure that part of your revision process includes trashing the trite.

Let's look at some examples and you see if you can come up with something better.

1. Lexie's plan was rotten to the core.

2. Becca noticed the red car as quick as a wink.

3. The dress was as white as snow.

4. The rumor spread like wildfire throughout the school.

5. Sean was as brave as a lion when the doctor gave him his shot.

6. Matt drank like a fish and smelled like one, too.

What trite expressions do you see in writing?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

When fiction isn't fiction

"If writers stopped writing about what happened to them, then there would be a lot of empty pages." -- Elaine Liner
 How much of your fiction includes "real" life?  Very little? Some? A lot?

Here's a scene from WIP that came from "real" life:

Joe told me that the paramedics brought a toddler into the ER who had been bludgeoned to death by her mother’s boyfriend. He had whipped her repeatedly with a video game controller and she had so many bruises on her tiny body that the doctors couldn’t find a patch of white skin anywhere. He beat her because she had a dirty diaper. She was two.

The neighbors heard the toddler screaming for her mother. She was in the next room stuffing her face with potato chips and watching the soaps. The screamin' got so bad that the neighbors called the cops. But it was too late. Katie was dead.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Another Borders haul

I went to Borders again this weekend. I just couldn't stay away. Borders has been a part of my life since it opened, and I vowed to be with my friend until the end. I came home with a bag full of books and, to someone not-in-the-know, it would appear it was just the usual haul from my weekly trip. Only it was anything but usual. I paid pennies for the tombs and I felt guilty. They were worth so much more. The sales are up to 90 percent now. Anyway, I wanted to share this story I saw this morning.

A visit to Borders

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Meet AKA teammate: Eric M. Black

Here’s another one of my awesome AKA Literary teammates. Hope you check him out.

Name: Eric M. Black
Lives in: Chattanooga, TN

Family: Married to Gina; we have two sons, Dylan and Logan

Writes: I think I write thrillers and historical novels, but my work has also been described as fantasy. I wrote a lot of poetry when I was younger.

Day job: District Director, Boy Scouts of America

Titles of books you've written/sold:
1. The Fountain
2. The Fountain: The Book of Jubilees
3. Covenant
4. Jack
5. Intensity
6. Calling Babel
7. An Old Man (a collection of poetry)



Twitter: @ericmblack


Favorite books: "Eaters of the Dead" by Michael Crichton, "The Last Kingdom" by Bernard Cornwell, "The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger" by Stephen King, and "Lord of the Rings" by J.R.R. Tolkien

Favorite book character: Can I choose one of my own? The main character Jack from my novel Jack was the most fun for me to write. He really has no boundaries.

Book you've learned the most from: "The Book of Fate" by Brad Meltzer really gave me better sense of how to draw out suspense in a novel and not have it drag on. Personally, writing "Jack" showed me that I could branch out and write about more than just historical events.

Finish these sentences:

I wish I...was as good a writer at age seven as my oldest son Dylan. Watch out for him, folks!

If I to make it through life without sleeping (other than a short, mid- day nap), I believe I would.

Other AKA profiles:

Aaron Tate

Louise Caiola

Katie Lee

Lee Richmond

Robert Spiller

Edward A. Iannuccilli

Tasha Cotter

Gilda Evans

Luis Cruz

Penny Fletcher

Matthew Porter Dyer

Carrie Filetti

Jessica Robinson

Krista Krueger

Karen Cane

E.W. “Chip” MacEnulty II

Friday, September 2, 2011

Quote of the day

"I have had dreams and I have had nightmares, but I have conquered my nightmares because of my dreams." --Dr. Jonas Salk

Thursday, September 1, 2011

New Hunger Games website: What district are you in?

If you're a Hunger Games fan, hop over to my social media blog and read this piece. It's sooo cool!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


I'm nearing the end of my WIP and I gotta tell you I'm struggling a bit. I knew from the beginning how this book would end, but I can't quite figure out how exactly I want to pull everything together. To be honest, I feel a bit overwhelmed. And I think that my fear of not doing the book justice is definitely not helping the creative process. So I've been thinking about it, working it out in my head, turning ideas over and over in my head. But I think I'll just have to dig in and write. I have to start somewhere, right?   

Do you ever struggle with endings? Do you have a favorite last line from a book? Here are some:

1. He loved Big Brother. –George Orwell, 1984 (1949)
2. And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One! –Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol (1843)
3. Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody. –J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye (1951)
4. "Tomorrow, I’ll think of some way to get him back. After all, tomorrow is another day." –Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind (1936)
5.After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain. –Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms (1929)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A visit to Borders

I wasn’t ready for it, didn’t expect the wave of grief that washed over me when I walked through the doors of our local Borders. My lips quivered and I swallowed hard, like I was forcing a softball down my tight, dry throat.

Truth is I’m losing a friend – a really good friend – and it completely sucks.

This is the place my teenage sons found refuge on a weekend night and I knew they would be safe nestled in a corner reading a book or paging through a magazine while sipping hot chocolate in the cafe. This is the place where I’d lug my laptop (hoping to find a table by an outlet) to write the day away. A place that’s been my home away from home for so long that I know every nook and cranny.

Everything in the store was for sale – even the shelves. Items were priced at 50 percent off and some were even 70 percent off. I grabbed three neat bags (which I planned to buy and give as gifts) and filled them with numerous items. There was the Hooked on Phonics Discover Reading: Toddler Edition, the Wimpy Kid Scrabble Game, five different desk calendars, eight books and a bunch of other stuff. I figured that at these prices I could do a lot of Christmas shopping, and I did. In fact, I had to ask to leave the three bags that I had filled at the counter so I could continue shopping. They were too heavy to carry.

When I finally checked out, I was happy for all the neat Christmas presents I had bought and the money I had saved, but I was sad for the reason why.

I have so many wonderful memories of Borders. There was the time my sons and I waited with hundreds of other people in the crowded store for the midnight release of the last Harry Potter book. The times I’d meet a fellow writer for coffee and we’d gab the night away outlining our stories, helping each other with plot points and dreaming of the day our books would grace the store shelves.

As I left the store I sniffed and my son asked if I was all right. “Yeah,” I told him. “I just wasn’t prepared for how I would feel. I wish I could rewrite the ending.”

Do you have any Borders memories you’d like to share. I’d love to hear them.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Minute List: Back to school

Let's do a minute list with a back to school theme. You know the drill. Use one word to describe the following. Mine is in ()'s. Copy and paste list into comments and add yours. Should only take a minute.

Backpack (heavy)
Pencil (mechanical)
Teacher (demanding)
Class (boring)
Lunch (expensive)
Bus (crowded)
Cellphone (forbidden)
Dress code (strict)
Test (multiple choice)
Recess (fun)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Getting mixed messages

I read a blog post (or two or three) in the past that cautioned about mentioning new technology or the names of current popular songs, movies etc. in your book. And yet a very popular YA series I'm reading mentions these things all of the time.

So here's my question, what do you do? Do you write cellphone, texting, iPad, laptop, etc.? Would you write that your protagonist went to see "The Help" or had Katy Perry's "Firework" for a ringtone? And does it make a difference if what you mention is a classic, like a Beatles song or a book like "The Catcher in the Rye?"

Would love to hear your thoughts. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Back from Disney

Well, I'm back from Disney. We had a great time as usual. For as many times as I've been there I never tire of that magical place. I love the story of Walt Disney, a man who had a dream and never gave up on it despite numerous setbacks and huge financial losses. I love that he remained a kid at heart and admired his creativity, drive, passion, work ethic, optimism and too many other adjectives to list. So I start my way back to work and the blogging world with these quotes from Walt:

"All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them."

"All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them."

"The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing."

"When you believe in a thing, believe in it all the way, implicitly and unquestionable."

"You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you."

And for the writers and readers in all of us:

"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island."

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Unplugged...but I'll be back

Hey gang, I'm on vacation through Aug. 23. I hope that the ink continues to flow and that you have many writing successes. I'll see you in two weeks!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Check out this social media counter

Check out this social media counter. Way cool.

What do you think? Do the numbers surprise you?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Quote of the day

"You must write every single day of your life…You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads….may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world." --Ray Bradbury

Thursday, July 28, 2011

When the writing gets tough

A friend emailed to ask how my writing was going. I told her that I've been praying a lot about the book I'm writing. That it's been difficult because I'm dealing with a very dysfunctional family, and I write things that I  can't imagine an adult ever saying to a child and about really mean things that girls do to my character. I don't have any experience to draw on from my own life so it's a real challenge.

At the same time, I feel God is helping me, leading me down this path to find the right words at the right time. I hope that in the end, it's a powerful story of redemption. I can't wait until I write the ending because it's going to take the reader by total surprise, I think. There's a twist that gives us hope and a peace of mind and a reminder that love can overcome even the darkest moments of our lives. 

Have you had a similar experience in your writing? Have you written horrible things that you can only imagine but have no real-life experience with? How do you handle it? I find myself even crying at times, my heart feels so broken and I ache for this character. I'd love to hear your thoughts. 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Verbs, verbs, verbs

Last week, I had the opportunity to tune into a webinar by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jacqui Banaszynski. Jacqui has spent 30 years in the newspaper business, both as a reporter and editor. She holds a Knight Chair professorship at the Missouri School of Journalism, is an editing fellow at the Poynter Institute and coaches student and professional journalists around the world.

Her webinar was on Adding Verbs with Verve and Volume to Your Writing. Here’s some of what she had to say. I’m sharing it with my literary friends because I think that what she says applies to all writing. So, here’s what I remember:

1.Verbs drive sentences and hold them together. Nouns label; without verbs, they do nothing.

2. The strongest writing is visual, and verbs achieve this. Paint pictures with verbs.

3. Verbs drive the bus (and the story). They drive the action and draw the reader in.

4. Verbs attribute. Do not “trick them out.” “Said” says it all. Don’t say “articulated” or “reiterated.” Say “said.” Readers will read right over “said.” Don’t dress up the part of speech that doesn’t need to be dressed up. “A pig is a pig is a pig and it’s just fine.”

5. Also, watch loaded verbs, such as acknowledged, argued, defended.

6. On whether to use “says” or “said,” Jacqui says that “said” feels more definitive and declarative while “says” feels more casual and timeless.

7. Ditch the adverbs. –ly adverbs just make work awkward. Read your writing out loud. Look at all the –ly verbs and try to find a better verb. ie. instead of walked heavily, say trudged. Instead of sang lustily, use belted or wailed.

8. Better to use strong verb to show rather than adverb to tell.

9. Verbs elevate.

10. Verbs show energy and action.

11. Verbs put you in the scene.

12. Verbs show (the visible, emotional and metaphorical) ie. slouched is a verb that shows action

13. Verbs add (or subtract) volume. Don’t overdo them, though.

14. Verbs bend time. Writers struggle with transitions. Change verb tense to change time or tone.

15. Verbs surprise. Ie. Sun slams down. Insects buzz. Pregnant moon rises.

16. Verbs provide structure. Keep them parallel for power.

17. Jacqui suggests printing out your story and highlighting the verbs then reviewing the verbs to make sure they’re as strong and precise as they can be.

18. Play with language to enchant, surprise and provoke.

19. Language is a tool; writing is a craft.

20. Verbs are the only part of our language that can stand alone and make perfect sense: Go. Home. Imagine. Pray. Dream. Sing. Ask. Speak. Swim. March.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Are you a dreamer?

What's your dream? Have you set goals to attain it? You don't have to answer these questions for me, but you should know the answers for yourself. Good luck achieving your dreams!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Amazing Spider-Man trailer

The "Amazing Spider-Man" hits theaters next summer. It deals with Spider-Man’s creation story. Marc Webb directs and Andrew Garfield (who played Eduardo Saverin in "The Social Network") plays Spider-Man, Emma Stone plays his love interest, Gwen Stacy, and Ryhs Ifans plays the villain, The Lizard. What do you think of the trailer?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Sweet summer memories

When I was little, a Mennonite would come by the house every summer and invite all of the kids on my street  to attend Bible school. We'd wait at the corner each night and he would pick us up in his black car and take us to the meetinghouse, built in 1810, down the road. I looked forward to it every year.
I still remember the song we sang when Bible school ended for the night. (Bible school is over and we are going home. Goodbye. Goodbye. We hope to see you soon.) And we always had cookies and punch, another reason why I liked this Bible school.
Sometimes, I wish my children could have experienced my childhood -- life in a small town with one traffic light, snowballs sold off the back of a neighbor's porch, a park program that always featured a penny carnival and tons of contests, a winding stream to slosh through and oh so much more. What about you? Any summer memories to share?

A minute list: Hot, hot, hot

It's dang hot here! That can only mean one thing, besides stay inside! It's time for a minute list. You know the drill.  Copy and paste the list in comments and describe each in a word or two, taking no more than a minute to complete the list. Mine is in ()'s. Can't wait to see your lists and stay cool.

Ice (cold)
Sun (hot)
Flowers (thirsty)
Grass (dry)
Pool (above ground)
Ice-cream (mint chocolate chip)
Watermelon (seedless)
Fan (plastic)
Bird bath (crowded)
Skin (sweaty)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

It's so hot...

Finish this sentence. It's so hot...

Best obit ever!

Just had to share this dude's obit. Put a big smile on my face as I'm sure it will yours. Definitely worth your time to read. What would you like your obit to say?

Monday, July 18, 2011

My beloved Borders

Say it ain't so! No Borders will be like no candy stores or ice-cream parlors or amusement parks. Where will my kids hang out on a Friday and Saturday night? Where will I hang out on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon? Where will I write and read and buy coffee and people watch and...... I'll be lost. How about you?

Quote of the day

"A writer is working when he's staring out of the window."
--Burton Rascoe

Soooo true! What other times are you "working?"

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Website can help writers research

Have you played with the Google website What Do You Love? It's pretty neat. You type in what it is you love, hit the button, and Google demonstrates how different Google products can show you different things about your topic. Watch the vid and then try it. Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

I write like...

Thanks to my friend Marcy who introduced me to this cool tool. Not sure how accurate it is, but why not give it a try. Tell me which famous writer you write like. The tool does this by analyzing your word choice and writing style and comparing them with those of the famous writers.

I write like
Chuck Palahniuk

I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing!

Harry Potter 'Friday' parody

You just knew this was going to happen with the final installment of Harry Potter premiering Friday. HP takes overs Rebecca Black's "Friday."

Some other HP links:
Harry Potter going digital
"Deathly Hallows" trailer
Harry Potter v. Voldemort rap
Harry Potter Puppet Pals

Monday, July 11, 2011

It's in the details...

Hemingway said: Details make stories human, and the more human a story can be, the better.

I think details bring a story to life. They place us smack dab in the middle so that we can see and feel and smell and hear.

 It's just not a stately mansion, but a stone estate with a circular driveway and a three-tier granite fountain with scalloped edges in front. (from WIP)

It's not a pretty girl but a girl with an hour-glass body and endless legs and mane of curly hair that falls softly down her back.

As an exercise, describe a character or a place from your WIP in comments.

I hope you a great writing week and that you use details to bring your writing to life.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Cool interactive shuttle presentation

Check out our cool online interactive space shuttle presentation.  The space shuttle Atlantis is scheduled to launch at 11:26 a.m. today -- culminating the 30-year run of what aerospace experts call the most amazing space vehicle ever built.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Quote(s) of the day

Some great quotes from one of my fave authors:

"It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all - in which case, you fail by default."

"It takes much bravery to stand up to our enemies but we need as much bravery to stand up to our friends."

"If you want to know what a man's like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals."

"It is our choices, Harry, that show us who we truly are, far more than our abilities."

Some great travel posts:
Wizarding World of Harry Potter from A to Z
Harry Potter travel tips

For fun:
Harry Potter vs. Voldemort rap
Harry Potter puppet pals
Deathly Hallows movie trailer

Sites to check out: potter

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Wow! What an inspirational video

This is an incredible story.

Quotes of the day

Pastor Greg said this morning, "We find joy in life, not in things." SO TRUE. He also said, "Do the right things for the right reasons." ALSO TRUE..... Great sermon this morning.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Using social media to cover 'Extreme Makeover' story

I first heard about Brian Keefer at the dentist office where his aunt worked. I was there for a six-month checkup, and Mel shared Brian's story with me.

She told me how he was president of the gymnastics club at Lock Haven. How he ran track and field and played volleyball. And she told me about the day that all changed - the day he attempted a triple front flip, more than he had ever attempted.

It was weeks after the gymnastics injury that paralyzed him from the chest down. At the time, Brian was at Magee Rehabilitation Hospital in Philadelphia.

I remember thinking at the time how one second can change your life forever. It wasn't the first time I had heard of a promising young athlete becoming paralyzed. When I was a sophomore in college, I covered a story about a football player who dived into the shallow end of a pool. He, too, was paralyzed from the chest down.

That story remains one of the most difficult of my career. To watch someone who made headlines on the gridiron not be able to brush his teeth was difficult. I remember drowning in an avalanche of tears after leaving Elizabethtown Hospital for Children and Youth where I had spent the day reporting the story.

But it was also one of the most rewarding stories I ever covered. I witnessed a star athlete overcome enormous obstacles, and I learned a valuable life lesson in the process. Even today I can't help but smile when I think of Bob Yordy speeding around campus in his wheelchair.

When I returned to the office after my dental appointment, I asked one of my reporters, Jen Vogelsong, to contact the Keefers and tell Brian's story. Jen did just that, spending weeks reporting the story and spending time with Brian and his family. On Oct. 5, 2008, her story ran on the front page of the York Sunday News.

The package included the main story and smaller pieces of text that we in the industry refer to as breakouts. The breakouts included everything from explaining quadriplegia to telling people how they could donate to a medical fund set up to help Brian.

Lots of great photos accompanied the story. There was Brian soaking up the sun in front of his Newberry Township home on his first day back after about 10 weeks at Magee. Brian surprising his cousins during a volleyball practice at Red Land High School. And a photo of Brian's parents, Dawn and Steve, struggling to get him into their minivan for the first time.

But there were no tweets.

No Facebook updates.

No blog posts.

No videos or slideshows or Twitpics.

There was just the published story in the paper, which was also put on

Flash forward to the week of June 19.

News that the "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" crew was going to renovate Brian's home spread like an Internet virus.

There were tweets.

Facebook updates and blog posts.

Videos and slideshows and Twitpics. And stories, lots of stories, and photos in print.

Put simply, reporters and photographers told this story in multiple ways using tools that allowed us to be immediate and thorough all at once.

We reported facts that were fleeting (tweeting: "The bus is here!") and we documented the entire story in a way that will stand forever (like the 87-image photo slideshow or the time-lapse video), and we shared it on a mass scale (newspaper, web) and we shared it person-to-person (Facebook).

I had always been touched by Brian's story and his determination, like Bob, to overcome such an enormous challenge. There's something about fighting for the underdog that gets me pumped.

When I wasn't checking, where all of the coverage was aggregated under one tab, I was checking my Twitter feed or the blogosphere or Facebook for the latest.

I learned on Facebook that my friend Margie White and her daughter, Jess, visited the site a few times. They were pumped, too.

I read a tweet by Paul Kuehnel about neighbors making Welcome Home signs and saw the Twitpic he included. His tweet was retweeted.

And I watched videos on the Green Mesh blog that brought tears to my eyes.

The ways in which we reported, produced and shared this story have radically changed in just a few short years since Jen first wrote about Brian. And the ways in which I consumed the story and shared it have changed, too.

I will always remember a quote from Brian in Jen's story.

"Someday I'll get up and surprise you."

Brian, I pray for that surprise. And when it happens, you can be sure that we will share your news with the world.


Read about Extreme Makeover visit here.

Follow me:
Twitter: @Buffyandrews

--Smart magazine
--York Daily Record/Sunday News

--Buffy's World
--Buffy's Write Zone