Tag Archives | A-Z blogfest

Tips on blog reading and commenting.

G is for Google Reader and why did I wait so long? I have no freaking clue.

I’ve separated blogs that I follow into categories and I know right away when there are new posts, instead of trying to find their tweets or their links. Talk about a time saver.

Seriously? I go through and comment on about double the blogs I used to in the same amount of time.

I used to think that I could only read with Google Reader, and I comment on blogs too. Then I learned that by pressing the v key – the blog would open up so I could comment.

Pretty incredible and convenient. Now I don’t miss any posts.

And this is where the important part comes in. I might end up falling away from your blog if you don’t have an RSS feed button. I could drag the link over and I will. But if your RSS button works – it saves people a lot of time.

Read this enlightening post by Rachael Harrie that explains it all.

How do you keep up with your blog reading and commenting? Any other tricks I’ve missed?

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Favorite books and why I loved them.

In the past year I have read some majorly awesome books, ones that blew me away with the story and the writing.

THE MARBURY LENS by Andrew Smith: A totally screwed up and scary read – but I could not put it down. My heart raced. Seriously, I couldn’t read it at night. But, the imagery and description, tension and pacing in this book is absolutely incredible.

ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins: What can I say? This is a sweet romance of Anna finding herself and the love of her life. Beautiful.

PERFECT CHEMISTRY by Simone Elkeles: A modern day West Side Story that I fell in love with. If you want an example of how to write 3D characters – read this. When a character is willing to make a sacrifice for love – I’m hooked.

THE STRANGE CASE OF ORIGAMI YODA by Tom Angleberger: Such an original premise. Kids taking advice from a finger puppet in the shape of Yoda – and is it real? I loved this story from the first page. And the sequel is Darth Paper Strikes Back. LOL

CRANK by Ellen Hopkins: A verse novel about a girl’s downward spiral with drug addiction, with words that will grip your heart. I loved it.

Wow, my time is up. But there are so many more books that I loved. THE BRILLIANT FALL OF GIANNA Z. by Kate Messner, CHAINS by Laurie Halse Anderson, HEIST SOCIETY by Ally Carter – ack, okay, the music is cueing and I’m getting pushed off the stage.

What are some of your favorite reads and why?

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Encouragement

I debated writing about emotion but that is such a loaded word when it comes to our writing. And we’re supposed to keep this brief.

I honestly don’t know how writers go it alone without a critique group or online support from other bloggers. All of you – yeah I mean you – have enriched my life and kept me going  – and blogging.

But how can we encourage our fellow writers?

  • Send virtual cookies or chocolate when needed.
  • When critiquing – always make sure to include a lot of positive, because a crit only filled with criticism can be pretty discouraging.
  • Support other writers by reading their books and writing reviews, by tweeting their links and their blog posts.
  • Say hi on Twitter and @reply to their tweets.
  • Comment on their blogs with a smile!
  • Use crazy hashtags to make them smile.

A big thanks to all of you who encourage me every week – even when you don’t mean to!

I should also say something about this vicious cycle most writers go through – the ups and downs. One day feeling super encouraged and the next day like our writing totally sucks and our dreams are impossible. You never know when your virtual smile will make someone’s day!

We’ve all been there. I’ve been there. Sometimes once a day. Try and ignore it and see it as part of the cycle.

How do you deal with those down days? How do you encourage others?

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The Big Debate (not what you think)

No, I’m not talking about self-publishing vs traditionally publishing. And no, I’m not talking about whether book reviewers should or could be writers too. And no, I’m not talking about the fact that winter has hogged the stage and needs to exit stage left. Or whether I should eat the last homemade chocolate chip cookie.

I’m talking about the Debate section in Act I that Blake Snyder talks about in Save the Cat. Honestly? I’d never heard of this before. And it’s a concept that isn’t really talked about and often overlooked.

Seriously, had any of you heard of it before reading STC?

The inciting incident, or catalyst as Blake calls it, happens in the first couple chapters. It’s an event that turns the protagonist’s world upside down. And between this event and the Act I Climax, our character needs to make the final no-turning-back decision. Is she/he going to do it? Can they?  This is the debate section. And the Act I climax can be what finally convinces our character to say yes.

Why have a debate section?

  • Introduces internal conflict because usually it’s a huge decision. And no real person just runs off to slay a dragon without giving it some thought. (At least I wouldn’t.)
  • It’s a time to draw the reader into the life of the main character and establish the goal, conflict and stakes.
  • Showing your character in conflict makes the reader care. It builds emotion.
  • Showing your character take the time to decide makes your character and story believable.
  • And if your character made the decision right away, you’d be stealing thunder away from your Act I climax.

On my sidebar are links to my break down of How To Train a Dragon and Princess for Hire. Each has a debate section. In HTYD, Hiccup must decide whether he really wants to kill dragons, which at the start, he thought he did. But then he meets Night Fury. During this debate section, I connected with Hiccup and then gasped when he made the decision not to kill and then his dad finally tells him he can.

Do you think about this big debate when writing or revising Act I? Can you think of stories that do this well? Or do you think this concept isn’t needed in all books? Can you think of books you love that don’t have this section? ( I can)

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What exactly is a Character arc?

C is for Character Arc

Several years ago, I attended what was called a master class for writers. A respected and successful author from a nearby community was the teacher. How better to learn – right?

I showed up with my trusty notebook ready to absorb all the writing tips I possibly could. I’m sure I stared at him with my stars in my eyes and a look on my face that said, ‘I want to be like you’.

He opened it up for questions at the end. And I asked about character arc. With my pencil posed to scribble down the magical answer, I waited for his answer.

He couldn’t give me one. Gasp! He was one of those authors that did everything naturally. #whateverIhatethosekindofpeople

So here are my thoughts on character arc:

It’s the growth of a character from a place of emotional instability and flaws – known as internal conflict – to a place of confidence and acceptance of those flaws.

Through his/her actions and paying the consequences – known as external conflict – the character’s beliefs are tested and he/she learns new truths and changes accordingly for an emotional and satisfying end.

Was there a concept when you were starting out that you didn’t quite understand?

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