Posts filed under ‘Books’
Today, we have a special treat! Author, Bonnie Hearn Hill offers tips for young writers in her guest post: “Six Things I Wish I Had Known When I Started Out.”
Bonnie will be popping in to answer your questions! PLUS – by leaving a comment or question today (March 16) you have a chance to win the first book in her new Star Crossed Teen series: Aries Rising. ALSO!!! Scroll to the bottom for instructions on entering to win an iPod Touch. Yep, we’re all about the prizes today. Cha-ching!
Winner of Aries Rising will be announced tomorrow (Wed., 3/17)
Six Things I Wish I Had Known When I Started Out
By: Bonnie Hearn Hill
1. There’s a reader out there. Writing isn’t about you, the writer. It’s about the character’s relationship with the reader. If you want to write a journal, that’s fine. You might even steal pieces of it for your “real” writing. But they are not one and the same. (Another thing I wish I’d learned is not to use orphan quotes the way I just did around the word, real.)
2. To avoid the nasty little habit of using myself as my main character just because it’s “easier.” It’s not. Readers want protagonists who are 1. proactive and 2. sympathetic. Create a character who is larger than life, someone far different from yourself. When you do this, who you are and what you believe will become clear on the page.
3. Don’t preach. Yeah, I know it’s tempting, but it doesn’t work. Readers read for four reasons: to be informed, to be instructed, to be entertained or to be inspired. The more of these tasks you accomplish, the more readers you will touch.
4. Guard your feelings. Not everyone will support your writing. Some will want to steal your time or be overly critical of your creation. Think of yourself as playing strip poker in world full of people who are dressed. Share only with those you trust, and don’t listen to anyone who tries to destroy your dreams.
5. Focus. I wish I’d learned this far earlier. Writing that succeeds is focused. Writing that falls short is not. In nonfiction, I ask myself: Who is my reader, and what do I want to tell this person? In fiction, I ask: Whose story is this, and what does this person want?
6. You don’t have to write what you know. Have you ever ridden in a spaceship or tried to escape a monster? That doesn’t mean you can’t write about a character who does. Unzip your skin, step into your character’s skin and just imagine.
Write your passion. That is the only true rule.
The Star Crossed Series
Aries Rising, March 2010
Taurus Eyes, Summer 2010
Gemini Night, Fall 2010
Your chance to free books–and maybe an iPod Touch
The Aries Rising Blog Tour & Book Giveaway continues through March 31. Destinations will be posted daily, and a free copy of Aries Rising will be given away at each one. At the conclusion of the tour, a drawing will be held for an iPod Touch. No purchase is necessary. You can enter as often as you wish, and you can qualify in three ways. 1. Be an Aries. Just send your birth date (month and day) to email@example.com. 2. Write a review and post it anywhere. Send the link to the same address. (More work, I know, and I appreciate all of you who have taken the time to spread the word about my astro series). 3. Post a fan badge on your Facebook page and send the link to above address.
Bonnie Hearn Hill worked as a newspaper editor for 22 years, a job that, along with her natural nosiness, increased her interest in contemporary culture. Prior to her new Star Crossed series from Running Press/Perseus Books, she wrote six thrillers for MIRA Books, as well as numerous short stories, nonfiction books and articles.
An interest in astrology along with her close friendship with Cosmo Magazine Astrologer Hazel Dixon-Cooper inspired the Star Crossed series: Aries Rising, Taurus Eyes, and Gemini Night.
A national conference speaker, Bonnie founded The Tuesdays, a bonded and successful writing workshop in Fresno, California, and she also teaches an occasional online class. On Fridays she meets with her private critique group (humorous astrology author Hazel Dixon-Cooper, prescriptive nonfiction writer Dennis C. Lewis, mystery novelist Sheree Petree, and musician/thriller novelist Christopher Allen Poe). What happens in those groups ranges from spontaneous applause to “getting filleted,” as Bonnie’s students and colleagues call it.
According to my calendar, today, December 16 is a New Moon. What does that mean?
I really don’t follow astronomy, so you can try to Google it. But I’m positive, the first page (or 80) will all be links to Stephanie Myer’s Twilight: New Moon, the second book in her series, or the movie with Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner. I’m not going to balk – I’d be clicking on those links, too!
But today, let’s use this craze as a writing prompt. You can write about vampires (done to death!) a sweeping romantic saga (insert finger in throat now), werewolves (a second to the vampire “overdone topic”). Or maybe, you can flip it. What is the opposite of vampires? Life over death? Sunshine over shadows? Heavenly instead of underworldly?
And how about a revenge story – not a love story? A breakup story…I’m sure you guys have plenty of ideas here.
The passion for writing is pretty wide spread, so when a fellow writer and/or teacher contacts me about some neat project they’re doing to help inspire young writers, I’m so open to helping them spread the word.
E.M. Rowan, of E.M. Rowan’s Field Notes (Research for Beginning Writers) would like to share this info with you:
The Writer’s Book Club will be an online group—if you want, participate from the comfort of your home while wearing pajamas! No one will see you or even hear your voice. I’ll announce the book; approximately a month later, I’ll create a discussion post. Everyone is welcome to join in and comment as much as you want. My only rule is that you be respectful of the author and other people’s opinions. Feel free to calmly disagree with the author or readers, but I’ll delete comments such as, “This club sucks! I’m right and you’re wrong! This is the worst book in the history of the world!” You get the idea.
While brainstorming ideas for how the book club would work, Ellie had a great suggestion: ” . . . then on the blog we talk about what writing was good in the book, and what writing was bad, so then it’s not just about the story, but we’re studying it from a writer’s perspective. We could even take it deeper and read one book because the author is famous for giving good descriptions, and another that is good at story-pace, and one that is good at back story . . .”
I immediately pounced on this idea. How many book clubs study from a writer’s perspective? Maybe lots, I don’t know. But I like it, so I’m incorporating it. That does not mean you must be a writer in order to join the club. Anybody who wants to read books is welcome. We’ll still be discussing the story, characters, favorite parts, etc. But if you’re a writer, it’s like an extra bonus. I hope you’ll learn something new by studying each book.
The first book is Shiver, by Maggie Stiefvater and the discussion begins on December 2nd.
Today to help with NaNo, guest author, Fiona Ingram gives young writers tips on how to get started and plow through their writing. Feel free to leave comments or questions and Ms. Ingram will reply! (Please NOTE: She lives in South Africa, so her replies may be a day behind)
Just Begin: Some Tips for Young Writers
By: Fiona Ingram
Writing can be one of the most rewarding and fulfilling experiences of your life. There are many reasons a person decides to write: to share their life’s experiences, to tell a good story, to express the feelings and situations of others … the list is endless. Some people even write just for fun. I wrote my book because I visited Egypt with my two nephews and wanted to write a short story to help them remember a special time. To my surprise, the short story turned into a book, and then a book series. So, you never know what’s going to happen once you begin!
Any good story is composed of a really gripping plot and realistic, believable characters. What comes first? Everyone has their own ideas but I believe the plot should come first. What’s the point of great characters if they sit around and don’t achieve very much. So, step one, write your plot down in a few words (that’s all you need). “My story is about … who manages to … and goes on to ….” Example from my book: two cousins go to Egypt with their aunt Isabel and their Gran and are given an ancient scarab that plunges them into a whirlpool of exciting events. I have my two main characters, two secondary characters, a great location (open to all kinds of amazing events), an important object, and … well, the amazing events are up to my imagination.
How To Choose a Great Story Topic. You may think, “But what can I write about?” Write about what you know best, or what excites you, or what you enjoy. You’ll find that when you are really keen on something—it can be an activity, a place, an event, or a person (real or imaginary)—it becomes easier to write. Do you love reading about faraway exciting places? Then research a place you find interesting and set your story there. Do you enjoy mysteries? Think about something that’ll keep people guessing. Are you good at a skill or a sport? Set your story around a character with those abilities.
How to Construct your Storyline. Structure is very important otherwise you’ll end up writing away like crazy but forget some vital detail here and there, and your story will fall to pieces. Sit down and draw your storyline—remember, you have already written it down in a few words. You may not stick to it exactly, but it’s important to map out where the story is going. You don’t want to give away the plot too soon, or tell the reader everything all at once. So begin with a simple 3-point system: the Beginning (your hero appears—what is he doing? What does he want to achieve?); the Middle (something will happen to him and he has to …? ); the Ending (your hero resolves the situation). From those three vital points you will fill in your other plot points—how did… why did… what happens next…
Make Your Characters as Interesting as Possible. Tip: take them from real life examples. You could write about someone like yourself, or else model the characters on friends at school, teachers, or other people you know. The dialogue between your characters is also important because that’s one place to develop the plot line. Their interaction will reveal the chain of events as the characters work out various situations.
Make your information to the reader as interesting as possible by weaving it into the story. Don’t say that it’s cold. Get your character to shiver because he left his jacket at home. You can set the scene around your characters by using adjectives and adverbs to enhance your descriptions and actions but don’t overdo it. The reader is also going to use his or her imagination, so don’t overload your writing with too many descriptions.
A final piece of advice: writing should be fun and exciting. Just enjoy yourself and let your imagination take you to places you only ever dreamed of…
Author Bio: Fiona Ingram
I can’t remember NOT having a book in my hand. My schoolmates called me a bookworm, and nothing’s changed since then. I was brought up on the children’s classics because my parents are also avid readers. My earliest story-telling talents came to the fore when, from the age of ten, I entertained my three younger brothers and their friends with serialised tales of children undertaking dangerous and exciting exploits, which they survived through courage and ingenuity. Haunted houses, vampires, and skeletons leaping out of coffins were hot favorites in the cast of characters. We also acted out the stories for my long-suffering parents! I graduated from the University of Natal, Durban, South Africa, with a double first in my B.A. (French & Drama). After completing my Honors in Drama at Natal, I then went to the University of the Witwatersrand to do my Masters degree in French-African literature. I also studied drama at The Drama Studio in London and mime at L’Ecole Jacques le Coq in Paris. Upon my return to South Africa, I immersed myself in teaching drama at community centres, and became involved in producing community and grassroots theatre with local playwrights and performers in Natal for several years. A move to Johannesburg took me in a new direction—that of journalism. I have written freelance for the last fifteen years on everything from serial killers to relationship advice. Writing a children’s book—The Secret of the Sacred Scarab—was an unexpected step, inspired by a recent trip to Egypt. The tale of the sacred scarab began life as a little anecdotal tale for my 2 nephews (then 10 and 12), who had accompanied me on the Egyptian trip. This short story grew into a children’s book, the first in the adventure series, Chronicles of the Stone. I’m already immersed in the next book in the series—The Search for the Stone of Excalibur—a huge treat for young King Arthur fans. Although I do not have children of my own, I have an adopted teenage foster child, from an underprivileged background who is just discovering the joys of reading for pleasure. My interests include literature, art, theatre, collecting antiques, animals, music, and films.
A thrilling adventure for two young boys, whose fun trip to Egypt turns into a dangerously exciting quest to uncover an ancient and mysterious secret. A 5000-year-old mystery comes to life when a scruffy peddler gives Adam and Justin Sinclair an old Egyptian scarab on their very first day in Egypt. Justin and Adam embark upon the adventure of a lifetime, taking them down the Nile and across the harsh desert in their search for the legendary tomb of the Scarab King, an ancient Egyptian ruler. With just their wits, courage, and each other, the boys manage to survive … only to find that the end of one journey is the beginning of another!
Does Egypt interest you? Here, Fiona Ingram shares some great resources for you to check out. Perhaps your NaNo novel might head towards the rising pyramids?
Some interesting books on Egypt to inspire thoughts of adventure and amazing events! All available on Amazon.
Egyptology by Emily Sands
Join Emily Sands’ expedition to find the lost tomb of Osiris. A jeweled amulet glows on the cover, inside the book, there are fold-out maps, postcards, drawings and photographs, ticket stubs, mummy cloth, a scrap of papyrus. (Activity book) And, don’t miss the hieroglyphs writing kit from the desk of Emily Sands: Egyptology Code-Writing Kit.
Tutankhamun: The Mystery of the Boy King by Zahi Hawass
Journey back to the time of Tutankhamun with famed Egyptian archeologist Zahi Hawass—experience the thrilling discovery of Tut’s tomb by Howard Carter, the boy king’s life reconstructed (how old he was, how tall, what clothes he wore, what games he played) and most recent studies of Tut’s mummy. Gorgeous photographs. (Picture book)
The Ancient Egypt Pop-Up Book by The British Museum and James Putnam
Ancient Egypt leaps off the page in this irresistible pop-up book—a 3-D boat on the Nile, Ramses II in his war chariot, whole pyramid complex at Giza, an Egyptian villa, Hatshepsut’s temple at Deir el Bahari, Tutankhamun’s funerary mask and mummified head, and Tut’s tomb. (Pop-up book)
Fun with Hieroglyphs by Metropolitan Museum of Art, Catharine Roehrig
Find out what hieroglyphs mean and how to say them, then write like an Egyptian with 24 different rubber stamps, plus counting, hieroglyphic word puzzles, and secret messages. (Activity pack and book)
The Riddle of the Rosetta Stone by James Cross Giblin
Find out why this modest-looking black stone is the key to ancient Egypt—where the stone was found, what’s inscribed, and how Champollion, having decided at age 11 that he’d read the hieroglyphics, solved the puzzle. (Chapter book, illustrations)
An ABC Escapade through Egypt by Bernadette Simpson
Discover Egypt from A to Z, especially food, animals and culture—dates (Egypt produces the most dates in the world), konafa (traditional dessert for Ramadan), watermelons (cultivated 5,000 years ago), goats, camels and jerboas, village life, city markets and more. Unique and fascinating insights. (Picture book)
Writing Magic, that is!
With humor, honesty, and wisdom, Gail Carson Levine shows you that you, too, can make magic with your writing.
Check out this fantastic book written for young writers and read my review on Powell’s!
OK, I’ll make this brief, I’m saving up all my words for NaNo, ya know!
On Tuesday, November 10, stop in and talk to published author, Fiona Ingram. Fiona will give you writing tips and use examples from her newest novel: The Secret of the Sacred Scarab. And if you like Egyptian themes, you’re in for a treat! Fiona will also provide a long list of sites and books to check out to feed that Sphinx craze!
Then come back here throughout the month of November for some rockin’ novel prompts.
I’ll have quick, intriguing ideas on how to take your novel in a new direction. Some prompts will be silly, some scary, some just absurd. It will depend on my coffee level that day : )
Feel free to add your own prompts – you may help another NaNo’er push past a block.
Bring your friends! Bring your Teacher! Bring your Teacher’s Friends! And let’s NaNo!