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Laura Pauling | Category Archive | Friday 5
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Friday 5 – How to prepare for a writer’s conference. #totallyserious

1. Monday:


  • I’ve got plenty of time until Friday. But it’s becoming a little more real that I’ll be talking to an agent and an editor about my work. **breathes in and out** **Kind of like Lamaze for writing conferences**
  • I should probably make a list of all the things I need to do so I’m not freaking out Friday morning, trying to get everything done.
  • Puts head down, into the wind, to get revisions done. Forget the list.


  • I’m really glad for The Twitter Game because it’s making me laugh. And I need to laugh. Maybe I’ll go back and reread it tomorrow. Just to make sure I didn’t follow any of those #badquerytips like writing my query letter in pig latin by accident. Or who knows? Maybe if I squeeze some pig latin into my manuscript, the agents would think that approach is creative. And I’ll be one of those lucky ones to break the rules and get away with it.


  • I glance at my closet with clothes that need to be weeded out, wondering what I’m going to wear over three days. I have a couple good outfits that will make me feel cool. Okay. Not really. But should I go for just me? Or try to look artsy and more like a writer? You know the type, right? **puts it off ’till later**

2. Tuesday


  • Starts to panic about clothing a little bit. I ask my daughter if I can borrow her white lace headband that looks good on her. Not sure how it will work on me.
  • I make my kids laugh and convince myself that my humorous YA might be a little bit funny.


  • Feels a little bit guilty about leaving for the weekend #notreally so I scrub the toilet. I receive an epiphany. Who cares about the agent and editor – that’s not why I’m going. I get to celebrate with my crit partners about Kris signing with an agent. And we get to talk shop for three days! Woo hoo!
  • In the back of my mind though I’m wondering how many more times I should practice my pitch. Just in case.


  • Trying to ignore my stomachache caused by either missing lunch or stress of getting everything done this week.
  • I’m being a crab to the kids and I blame either the upcoming conference, missed lunch, or the fact that my kids have sports, games, or a concert every night this week. When will they eat dinner?

3. Wednesday


  • I finished any revising on my story for the week last night. No more. Because I actually do have to bring clothes and a toothbrush to NESCBWI. And in a few minutes I have to lead a reading group at my son’s school. #notprepared #maybetheycangivemeclothingadvice  #ortellmeifmydaughter’sheadbandmakesmelooksilly


  • My mind wanders away from the conference as I think about the awesome opportunities that e-publishing offers writers. Hey, if published/agented writers can call self publishing – e-publishing, then so can’t all writers.
  • I think about all the hard work that it takes to successfully e-publish or any kind of publishing.
  • #thankGodforsocialmedia


  • I have tomorrow to pack. That’s it. I’ve put off opening the doors to my closet all week. Flirting with Twitter won’t get it done.
  • Eek! Can’t wait.  #talkingabouttheconference #notaboutpacking

4. Thursday


  • Finished last chapter crit for friends.
  • Marveling at the fact that the grass is finally a brilliant green. #latespring
  • I’m about to walk the long mile up to my closet to pack.  #prayforme


  • Phew. Done. Packed for the most part. #ididit


  • Wow. I leave tomorrow. I’m ignoring the excitement fluttering in my stomach.
  • And in case you were wondering – my kids did get fed all week. #miracleshappen

5. Friday


  • I’m blog hopping for a bit.
  • Finishing up packing.
  • And I’m leaving!  See you Monday!
Comments { 22 }

Friday 5 – Tricks to employ outside of story structure.

I’m going to use KAT INCORRIGIBLE as an example.

1. Let’s talk humor.

The kind of humor that pulls you from paragraph to paragraph, chapter to chapter, the kind that makes you fall in love with a character and the writing, the kind that make you want to read the book again in the same week.

For me, the best kind of humor is when the main character doesn’t know or think she’s being hilarious. For the character, the story is quite serious.

Here are only a few of the funnies from this story:

  • The play on the tried and true plot of a girl dressing like a boy and running away – except it failed for Kat.
  • The running gag of Kat always receiving long lectures.
  • Kat’s willingness to speak her mind without being obnoxious.
  • The scene where Kat turns herself into an older woman with a heaving bosom.
  • The running gag of her constantly trying to arch one eyebrow like her older sisters.

(In your work if it’s not humor, it could be excellent description or well-chosen words to reflect voice or tension that leads your reader from page to page.)

2. Terrific ending chapter hooks.

Each chapter ending made me keep reading. Here are a few of them:

  • I had the perfect opportunity for blackmail.
  • Angeline opened her eyes and looked straight at me. “He murdered her.”
  • “Miss Angeline,” he said. “Thank God I’ve found you. Your house has been burgled!”
  • But what about the highwayman?” I said.
  • The highwayman had arrived after all.
  • The shot went off as the world turned inside out around me.

The others are great too but you wouldn’t understand the significance without reading the story.

3. Using specific body language that reflects the character.

How a writer uses body language can elevate a story from amateur to professional. In my unprofessional opinion that is. Here are a few:

  • “Now,” Stepmama said, and ushered us, smiling as fiercely as a general, into the crowded Long Gallery.
  • “Ladies!” The gentleman’s cough this time sounded like a crack of thunder.
  • “None, obviously, that you are fit to learn.” She stalked pointedly away from both of us, her slim back vibrating with outrage.

There were plenty of shrugs, arched eyebrows, saids, – but when it counted, when the emotion was important to show, the body language was extended to show the character without telling and to reveal the emotion. In other words, it wasn’t overdone.

4. Historical fiction with a contemporary feel.

  • Kat felt like a contemporary girl fighting for her family.
  • She felt emotion like her readers would.
  • She had relationships with her step mama and sisters that felt current.
  • The only details from the period mentioned were the ones important to the story and it was never obvious. (Keep in mind that it was for middle graders.)
  • The language used and behavior just made the book better and it upped the reading level, which to me is always a good thing.
  • The historical part of the time period was used humorously, for examples, the long lectures for behavior that really wasn’t that bad.

(Even if you’re not writing historical fiction, you can work on creating emotions your reader can understand and connect with.)

5. The mix of external and internal conflict.

I would not have loved this story as much as I did without the balance of Kat’s internal conflict. She struggles with following her mama’s legacy and worries that the only reason her papa married her mama was due to a love spell.

Was this a literary novel with heavy theme and internals? No. But it had just the right balance of emotion and excellent writing.

What genre or kind of story are you writing? And what do you use on the page-to-page level to keep readers reading?

Comments { 21 }

Friday 5 – Signs you left your heart on your pages.

1. Every ounce of mental energy has leaked from your brain through your fingertips and you stop writing even with forty-five minutes left of scheduled time.

Right now, I’m staring at the numbers on my computer and the drive in me says, keep going, keep revising. But my mind feels like oatmeal. My stomach feels sick. Minutes pass and I’m still staring.

2. The knowledge that your child told her teacher that her mom does nothing all day doesn’t even bother you. Not enough emotion left to be mad.

Okay, seriously?

3. The idea of finishing the second half of THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE in the evening, makes you want to curl up and take a nap.

I don’t know why I took so long to read this book. But this story has wrapped me in its pages, tearing at my heart with every turn. #can’thandleanymoredeepemotion

4. Your kids come home from school and you don’t care they raid the cupboards for unhealthy snacks.

I’m pretty good in this area. My kids are allowed one cracker snack, like a granola bar, and then they have to eat fruit or yogurt.  #granolabarsaren’treallyhealthy

5. If a rejection came in the mail right now, you’d probably just shrug your shoulders and move on.

Okay. Maybe not.

**Disclaimer** If you have these symptoms after putting your heart into your writing, it does not mean that you did it effectively. Still go back and revise and send to critique partner.

What are some other signs when you feel completely drained after a writing session?

Comments { 28 }

Friday 5 – Plant and Pay off – how to make your reader go “aha!”

I almost titled this post, How to turn your date night into research, but I realized all the different ways that could be misconstrued.

Fade in: Friday night at the Pauling house. Kids in bed. Time for pizza and a movie.

Me: I totally forgot about this movie. I must have always missed it at Red Box.

Hubbie: What is it?

Me: You’ll have to wait and see. (I’m so mysterious.)

Later, curled up on the couch, hubbie presses play.

Hubbie: Ah, we’ve seen this one.

Me: No way. It just showed up on Red Box. It must be new.

As we watched, I acknowledged that we had seen it. (Yes, I often do this.) But this time, after months of studying structure, I noticed some things worth sharing. Revelations.

Revelations from THE GHOST OF GIRLFRIENDS PAST. (A man is haunted by girlfriends from the past at his younger brother’s wedding.)

The plant and pay off that Alex Sokoloff talks about is very similar to the six flaws/problems that Blake Snyder talks about.

1. At the start, Connor (Matthew McConaughey) photographs woman in their underwear  (and he’s a jerk) and at the end he’s photographing his brother’s wedding.

2. At the start, we see an image of the empty swing set; in the middle we see the main leads (Matthew and Jennifer Garner) as kids on the swings; and at the end we see them again, with the male lead changed.

3. At the start, after choking when asking Jenny (Jennifer Garner)  to dance, his uncle picks him up in this old car and first instills the wrong idea that falling in love is not the way to go. Basically, love them and leave them. At the end, Connor uses that same car, breaking out of the garage, to track down his brother’s fiancé as she leaves the wedding. Complete turn around.

4. Somewhat at the beginning, Connor, in his selfishness, accidentally destroys the five-layer wedding cake. At the end, they show it repaired.

5. At the start, in the rehearsal dinner, Connor refuses to do the toast the next day and basically destroys the idea of marriage with his harsh words. At the end, in a moving, heart felt speech, he gives the toast to true love.

Wow. Talk about change. And because of all these plants or flaws/problems at the start; at the end, I was saying “aha”. And, of course, proceeded to share with my Hubbie the genius of the plant and pay off concept.  (He’s used to it.)

It’s not just a gimmick. It’s a tool to show the change in a character. It wouldn’t have meant as much if he’d changed jobs and became an interior decorator, or if he’d used his own car to chase down the fiancé, or if they’d bought a new cake, or if someone else had given the toast, or if the final moments were in the garden and not by the swing set.

These plants brought out symbolism, theme, and emotional power and made the movie emotional satisfying. And this concept can do the same for your story.

Have you seen this movie? It’s a tiny bit cheesy, but there were many other plants that I didn’t even mention. Worth a date night to watch.  Have you seen this concept in books or movie done well?

Comments { 28 }

Friday 5 – What I learned from the marketing of LIAR SOCIETY.

Last night, I decided to change my blog and start writing about pop culture and all the wacky mistakes I make each day. I’ll start ripping on myself, and act like I know nothing. It worked for Lisa and Laura, right? And on a sudden flash of inspiration, my main character now sports pink hair.

Everyone’s writing and marketing journey is different. But let’s look at why their marketing succeeded.

1. Write a great book that is you – not a reflection of someone else.

Lisa and Laura present themselves as fun and quirky. And that’s the kind of book they wrote. When it came to their writing, they didn’t try and be someone else. No, it doesn’t mean we all have to be fun and quirky on our blogs and in our book, but we should be ourselves. Be vulnerable.

2. Marketing starts before you sign with an agent.

Even before snagging an awesome agent and landing a book deal, Lisa and Laura Roecker were approachable and likeable. It didn’t matter who you were – they were nice.

3. Be friendly after you land a book deal.

What made me want to support these sisters, outside of the fact they write the kind of book I love to read, is that even after they got the book deal, they weren’t exclusive. They still interacted with the aspiring writers on Twitter. They didn’t care. And I LOVED that.

4. Brainstorm, but let the marketing spring organically from your book.

Lisa and Laura shared how at first they were devastated by Kate’s pink hair on the cover of their book. Who knew it would turn into their greatest marketing tool. And that marketing didn’t cost a penny. Just time. At this point, I wonder how much swag really affects sales. They combined the pink hair with giving away signed copies. Who cares about a bookmark and a mug– I want the book!

5. Include your supporters in the marketing. (No spam!)

Not once, did Lisa and Laura send out tweets five times a day saying, ‘Buy my teen book.’  They didn’t go on and on, week after week, talking about their book on their blog once they got the deal. They kept being themselves. And I appreciate that. And they didn’t ask of people without offering something in return. They made it all about their followers, not themselves. Brilliance.

We can’t all approach our blog and our marketing like Lisa and Laura. Or can we? We can be true to ourselves in our writing and our interactions with people. We can be vulnerable. We can be friendly.

And yes, I’m anxiously awaiting my copy of LIAR SOCIETY in the mail. No Kindle version for me.

Has the marketing of LIAR SOCIETY changed your view of marketing at all? Or reaffirmed what you already knew?

Comments { 29 }