Posts filed under ‘Motivation’

We’re Moving!





WriteLikeCRAZY is packing up and moving to a new home!  

Because my goal is to focus on writing and teaching fiction, I decided to merge my two blogs into one powerhouse of information and inspiration!  

What will change:   

  • WriteLikeCRAZY blog will still be here so you can find archived prompts, tips and links like before
  • Writers Inspired will be home to how-to tips on the craft of writing and submitting your fiction work, for both young adult and adult writers
  • Writers Inspired will occasionally host published authors through interviews or guest posts on the writing, organizing and publishing processes, plus awesome Book Giveaways!!
  • Writers Inspired will also offer games, exercises and prompts for young adult writers (and their teachers!!) to use
  • Writers Inspired will be like an online writers group where you can read and share helpful topics, like:  unique ways to find ideas, dealing with procrastination, the latest in writing contests and new markets, tools and resources for fiction writers, tips on tracking submissions and all aspects of the fiction writing craft.
  • Writers Inspired will have one page for young writers with links, prompts and advice PLUS one page for teachers with lesson plan ideas, games to energize the class and notes on what I’ve learned as a Creative Writing Teacher
  • Writers Inspired will also have a list of events for young writers and teachers in the DuPage County (IL) area

What you need to do:  

  • Go to Writers Inspired
  • Click “Follow”
  • Be surprised by the updates you get in your email inbox or Google Reader every time a new post appears
  • Leave lots of comments! This new blog is for you – the readers-and I want to provide content that you’re interested in reading: )
  • Send your friends and teachers!

So, thank you to my current and future followers! Now, let’s get on the ROAD!!!  


April 15, 2010 at 10:55 am 1 comment

5 Prompt Friday!

Hey – remember these?  I’ve been off my game lately – the “other” world sucking the energy outta me (ya, know: day job, traipsing my boys across the city, surviving this brutal Midwest winter)

So, without further ado..

Get ready to Write Like CRAZY! See where these prompts, quotes and images take you…

  1. The rickety limbs of a winter tree
  2. Stepping in dog poop
  3. Citrus scent of a tangerine
  4. “Did you hear what happened to Miss Simmons?”
  5. Finding the wrong color hair in your brush

Share your ideas with us!

February 19, 2010 at 9:34 am 1 comment

3 Reasons for Writer’s Block

This post is courtesy of YWP NaNoWriMo, written by best-selling author : Laurie Halse Anderson

“No author on the planet gets a first draft published.'”

Writer’s block is caused by one of three things.

1. You are trying to be perfect.
2. You are under pressure to produce the finished product too fast.
3. You have been sitting down too much.

Let’s examine these closely, shall we?  Read More

landerson_thumbLaurie Halse Anderson is the New York Times-bestselling author who writes for kids of all ages. Known for tackling tough subjects with humor and sensitivity, her work has earned numerous ALA and state awards. Two of her books, Speak and Chains, were National Book Award finalists. Mother of four and wife of one, Laurie lives in Northern New York, where she likes to watch the snow fall as she writes. You can follow her adventures on Twitter, and on her blog.

November 18, 2009 at 12:50 am

Another young writer to inspire you

Can you imagine being awarded the “best writer in the state”?

Well, this 7th grader received that honor. Kayla Staten wrote a poem  about Maya Angelou:    (You can read the whole story here.)

Maya Angelou

My, my Maya,

You sure have come a long way

From being the insecure little girl

You were back in the day.

A spirit so pretty

Like a cover on a magazine,

She’s altogether

A fluent poetry writing machine.

Bright as a flame

Her wisdom shines.

Courage in her words

You’re sure to find.

Millions of awards won-

Poetry is just her thing;

No iron fist could ever keep her quiet;

This caged bird was born to sing.

Cocoa colored skin-

She wished it was lighter.

Little did she know

It made her a fighter.

Boom! Her words explode

Off the page

Inspiring generations

No matter the age.

Though her childhood was hard

And tough at times,

She learned to cope with it

Throughout her poetry lines.

“Ain’t I a woman?”

That’s what she asked.

She refused to hide

Behind a mask.

When she writes,

The pen sings a song

And causes the paper

To sing along.

She stands for realism and strength;

She has paid her dues.

She reminds us all that

All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes.

She loved to write but also dance.

And she did it well

Whenever she got a chance.

Maya is loved by everyone-

By no one disliked,

And through her stories

She has no problem sharing her plight.

Since she’s basically lived

On her own,

She’s taught herself

Well and grown.

When you glance her way

You see a pretty poetic dame-

Author of the book

Gather Together in My Name.

From the back woods to Hollywood

This poet has come

To bring hope to many

And happiness to some.


Kayla Staten

November 17, 2009 at 12:57 am

Guest Post, Author Fiona Ingram

Fiona Ingram _headshotToday 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.

sacredscarab_coverBook Synopsis: The Secret of the Sacred Scarab

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)

Secrets of the Sphinx by James Cross Giblin, Bagram IbatoullineGet the scoop on the Great Sphinx through the centuries, the sculpture of a lion topped with a man’s head. Find out about builders of the Sphinx, rediscovery by Thutmose a thousand years later, protecting the sculpture today. Fabulous illustrations, including reconstruction of the Sphinx with a red face and blue beard. (Illustrated chapter 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)

If I Were a Kid in Ancient Egypt by Cricket Books
Take a step back in time and find out how kids lived in ancient Egypt—eating with your fingers, shaved heads, family fishing trips, popular pets, board games, going to school to become a scribe, and more. (Picture 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 Egyptology Handbook by Emily Sands, Ian Andrew, Nick Harris, and  Helen WardThe companion book to Egyptology, this is a good introduction to the wonders of ancient Egypt—history and dynasties, the great pyramids and tombs, food, dress, work and play, palace life and warfare, hieroglyphs, gods and religion, tales and myths, plus activities to do in each section and stickers. Beautifully illustrated with drawings and historical photographs. (Activity 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)

November 10, 2009 at 12:02 am 2 comments

Are you ready to NaNo?

ywp nano logo

What’s NaNo?  No, not the next dance craze you’ll see on Dancing with the Stars or the up-and-coming sound you’ll hear on Glee!


NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writers Month and runs from November 1-30 every year. Thousands share in this crazy experience of writing a complete novel  – start to finish in only 30 days. How? Lots of caffeine, support and of course a good story idea!


No, better than that, a solid outline of your plot, developed characters and plenty of  descriptive scenery to beef up your word count.


The rules? Pretty simple, really. Sign up on line – it’s free, though they do appreciate donations to keep their massive server running, their volunteers pumped with caffeinated beverages and I’m guessing they have a heck of an electric bill. Browse around the site, get to know others in the chat rooms and forums. Then, TELL EVERYONE you know that you will be writing a novel in November. Will it become published? Maybe, someday. But the goal of NaNoWriMo is to say you’re going to do this and follow through. The catch: No revising! That’s right chickadees, no cross-outs, spell check, or rewriting one scene until it melts from your page like butter. If you did this, you would not complete a first draft in only 30 days. December is for Revising!


So, are you with me? Find me and “friend me” so we can keep each other motivated and see how our word count grows! My handle is: “mjcwriter”


More on NaNo as we get closer to November…

September 15, 2009 at 12:02 am

Register Today!


I’m teaching Super Saturday classes again, this fall.  Yep, the good people at Friends of the Gifted and Talented have invited me back to teach my two classes: Young Writers Workshop and Publish Me!


Wanna join us?  Check out FroG’s site for full details and to register. But hurry – space is limited and my classes fill up quickly.

September 14, 2009 at 12:02 am

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