Posts filed under ‘Research’

Any song writers out there?

music-notesWhile cruising Twitter (what you’re not tweeting? – sign up and follow me @mjcwriter!) I found a cool site for songwriters:

“From inspiration to crafted songs.

Lilac Writer is an online songwriting tool to help you write lyrics with built-in references, organization & collaboration tools.”

Free membership and free to use, so far. Check it out and give us your review here.

July 21, 2009 at 12:37 am

5 Writing Tips

To round out our week on “character speak”, here are 5 tips on developing your characters:

Advice for Developing a Character:

  • Start with what matters to you about your character:  Is he or she like you? Like someone you know?
  • Put together a character so that all the parts fit together:  Do these different things make sense within one person? Do they fit together in a believable way? Are these traits here for a reason?
  • Explain any general descriptions of your character:  What exactly does this description mean for this particular character?
  • If a character seems too good to be true, make it more human: What is the downside of this trait? (too nice, too giving, etc.) How does this characteristic help and hurt the character?
  • Know your character’s motivations (longings) and struggles.

What other tips do you use to develop your characters?


July 10, 2009 at 12:12 pm

Thumbs-up Thursday!

thumbs_upLast week, I took my 5-year-old to his end of year preschool picnic. His teacher said they had nicknames for the days of the week and Thursday was, you guessed it! “Thumbs-up Thursday”

So, not that you all are preschoolers, cause you’d be exceptional if you could log online and read my blog, but I thought we could give “thumbs up” to our favorite books and writing resources.

Warning: your participation is needed here!

My fav’s? Whew, the list would go on forever, but here are some of my favorite writing books and websites for writers:

Writing books:

Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott: Want to know the true life and struggles of a writer? Ms. Lamott tells it like is, but adds a dose of humor throughout the tips she gives to keep your writing spirits high. (warning: mature language and content)

A Writer’s Book of Days,  Judy Reeves : My copy is dog-eared from so much use. Chock full of writing prompts, tips and quotes from authors who are household names.

A Young Writer’s Guide to Getting Published,  Kathy Henderson : I used this book as a resource in my latest class, Publish Me!Filled with writing ideas, how-to’s on searching for markets and formatting your manuscripts, for every writer, for every genre. Tons of books referenced here.

Favorite writing sites/blogs:

This one, of course!

Capitol City Young Writers

(Meet authors, editors, literary agents in person! Apply to be an editor or writer for the Young Writers’ Literary Journal; plus mentorship opportunities and Quarterly Newsletter – fee to be a member)

NaNo’s Young Writers Program

(tips, tools and chat rooms are a buzzin’ during National Novel Writing month in November, but active throughout the year as well)

 Smart Writers

(lists of contests and tons of links to other young writers’sites)


(Free newsletter for elementary thru college writers with great contests!)

Share your favorites with us!

May 28, 2009 at 2:26 pm

Wacky Wednesday!

Wacky writing prompts for stories and more!


With one of the BIGGEST (and BEST!) Holidays coming up on Sunday, ahem, Mother’s Day, I was feeling the holiday spirit and found this site for silly holidays throughout the year.

Some  fun ones that you can create stories from:

(Today) May 6 is . . . . . Beverage Day : write about your favorite beverage and why or create a character who always has this beverage on hand and wakes up to discover there are no more cans of…!

May 7 is . . . . .Paste Up Day: what if in your fictional world this day meant everyone in town had to paste up their latest creation: a story, artwork, test or report. And what if the main character was too embarrassed to paste hers up?

May 9 is . . . . . Lost Sock Memorial Day: What would a memorial wall for lost socks look like? Would you wave a flag of the missing sock’s partner? Would there be a song or a funeral for the missing socks? (This one could get quite silly!)

See what other silly holidays you can find or create! Share your ideas with us here!

May 6, 2009 at 9:02 am

That’s a wrap!

Celebrate the final day of April and Poetry month with Poem in your Pocket Day! Check out the month long entries of poems or print one to carry in your pocket today and any day!

pocket_logo1My 10-yr-old needs to memorize and recite a poem in class tomorrow. In helping him search, I stumbled upon this fun poetry site from a poet living in the UK.  Check it out:

Patrick Winstanley has lots of cool links to other funny and gross poetry sites. Some even accept poems from young writers like you!

April 30, 2009 at 11:22 am

5 Prompt Friday


  1. Write about something you’ve never done on summer break but always wanted to
  2. Does your family have a quirky tradition or ritual, maybe silly nicknames used or practical jokes played in your household? Write about them!
  3. Write about a topsy-turvy day when liquids become solids and solids become liquids. How would this effect daily living?
  4. Pretend you had unlimited space and money to design your own writing workspace: what would it look like? What would you buy first?
  5. If you could meet any author in history (living or dead) who would it be and what would you ask them?


Please share your ideas or replies or comments here! I’m interested to hear what you guys come up with, especially for numbers 4 &5 this week.  Talk to me!

April 24, 2009 at 10:58 am

Get published here!

Posted by AmazingKids!

Are you a budding writer or artist? Do you want your stories or pictures to be posted in the Amazing Kids! eZine? Send your submissions, written for our readers ages 8-12, to
We accept the following:

Fiction Stories
Pictures/Drawings/Paintings/Digital Art/Photography
Non-fiction articles, including photo journal essays about your trips to distant (and not-so-distant) lands
Yummy recipes
Reviews (Book, movie, music and travel)

Who knows? Maybe you’ll be one of the next writers featured in the Amazing Kids! eZine.

We’re excited about our Marvelous Music Spring issue (coming out soon!) and our Summer issue: THINK BIG! If you’d like to write about the biggest, tallest, and fastest in the world, then send your stories,
poems, and art our way!

You can scan your pictures in, and we’ll accept digital art, as well! Don’t be discouraged if you’re not Michaelangelo! We like to see pictures that represent artists of every age, and recognize that each
picture has it’s own beauty! Our Art Editor, Ioana, is a Romanian amazing kid and artist who has won many awards for her beautiful paintings. The articles and pictures we like best are kid-friendly ones!

March 19, 2009 at 1:18 am

Use your I*m*a*g*i*n*a*t*i*o*n!

“Fantasies are more than substitutes for unpleasant reality; they are also dress rehearsals, plans. All acts performed in the world begin in the imagination.”

Barbara Grizzuti Harrison, Author and Publicist


 No matter if you write fantasy, horror, chick lit or even creative nonfiction – an imagination is key! What starts as a twinkle in the daydreams of writers become stories woven onto the page.

Don’t let anyone tell you to stop day dreaming or that your ideas or goals are foolish. All great things begin with a new, fresh idea!

So, how do you use your imagination, you ask? Take real life situations and observations and put a twist on them: a fellow student gets to the lunch line late and misses the last slice of pizza. Instead of sulking and picking something else to eat, What if   he freaks out, yells at the cafeteria staff, climbs over the counter and begins to rummage through ingredients to make his own pizza? Now that’s a story!

Share your imagination warm-ups here with other young writers. This is your community – participate daily!

February 17, 2009 at 11:05 am 2 comments

Good Thoughts…

“Nurture your mind with great thoughts, for you will never go any higher than you think.”

Benjamin Disraeli
1804-1881, British Prime Minister


Does the bad news on TV, radio, print media and overheard adult conversations got you down?  If you redirect your thoughts on great, positive, life altering things, you can make them happen!

I’m not talking hocus pocus, but the power of the mind is only effective if you speak out – or write out!

Take this long weekend, reflecting on Dr King’s speech and “dream” to write your own dream for our world, your country, your city or even your school. I found that you can connect with the greatest cynics if you write with truth and passion and conviction.

What does conviction mean? Look it up, my friends!

And, please share your dreams here with me and your fellow writers

January 17, 2009 at 4:46 am

The Write Goals

Everywhere you turn people are buzzing about their new year resolutions:  “I’m gonna do this”  “I’m gonna stop doing that.”   As writers, we need to have goals as well. To improve our craft, to reach more readers, to gain knowledge about the world around us and the soul inside us.


What are your writing goals? I keep hearing “to get published!” “To write a book!” “To become famous!”  All are very valid and exciting goals. However, you need an action plan. Steps to follow to help you achieve those goals, get you across that finish line, so to speak.

Let’s take the “get published!” goal.  Ask yourself these questions:

  1. What do you want to publish? A short story? A book review? A school newspaper article exposing the cafeteria’s secret ingredient used in Thursday’s chili?
  2. Once you decide what you want to publish, you need to figure out who will want to read it. Is it a story about aliens sucking out the brains of 4th graders? You’ll need to find a science fiction magazine that publishes these types of stories. You read a fantastic piece of fiction on the relationship between a horse and his master? You might want to try an equestrian magazine or website whose readers should know about this great book!  And if you have  a knack for uncovering truths, journalism may run in your blood and your school newspaper or club’s newsletter would be a great starting point.
  3. After deciding on what you’re writing and for whom, you need to seek out the publications that may be interested in your story. But, do your homework. Don’t be an amateur and send your story out to the editor “blindly,” read what they’ve already printed, read a few issues to get a feel for their “tone.” Are they serious, humorous, do they use quotes from other people? Find the writers’ guidelines and follow them!  More on this later.
  4. Now, you have a few tasks ahead of you. Make a list of things you like to write, another list of who would enjoy reading them and another list of where similar stories would be in print.
  5. Then, write a rough draft and come back here soon for more tips!

You’re on your way to achieving a goal!

January 2, 2009 at 10:42 pm

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