Friday, May 17, 2013

Good Stuff!

What if you spent this weekend capturing all the good stuff?

After all, a lot of good stuff has been happening lately —

A foal was born in a neighboring pasture,

Calves have shown up overnight — brand new and blinking in the fields,

A riot of flowers have budded and bloomed.

Life Sweet Life!

I’m sure there’s good stuff happening around you as well.

Notice it.

Drink it in.

Remember that all the “carp” reported in the news is only news because it’s actually rare.

PROMPT: It’s a great time to dust off the camera and snap up all the good stuff you can find. And good stuff always makes a great story — just you wait and see!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Details, Details…

Here’s an interesting character—

This guy decides to build his dream home.

So, he picks a spot at the very edge of civilization and draws up the plans. The home will face away from civilization and toward the wild places 
beyond — he loves the wild places, after all.

Sure, it’s going to be really tough to get water to this hilltop beauty — big deal.

The water issue is a trivial matter, but the precise measurements of this house are not.

Some of his plans specify measurements to seven decimal points!

Yeah, we’re talking millionths of an inch.

And, by the way, it's impossible to measure anything with that degree of accuracy.

No matter, he spends ALL of his spare time working on the house to get it just right.

Sure, he does other things as well. In fact, he often brags that in fifty years the sun has never caught him in bed.

He spends every one of those fifty years working on his house.

Sadly, he dies before it’s finished.

Details make an impression, don’t they?

So, what do you think of this guy?

Can you picture him?

The right kind of details can provide your readers with interesting insights into the people that people your books.

So, use them well.

By the way, that quirky man above—

Third U.S. President,

Thomas Jefferson.

PROMPT: Make a list of your character’s quirks today. Then sprinkle as needed to spice up your book.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

All In

I think it’s about time we climbed on a viral bandwagon.

And although you may be one of the millions of folks who've already seen this clip, it’s worth a second… third… and fourth look just because it guarantees a grin.

Now, stop and think for a minute.

What makes this little event so special?

Here’s my take—

It is Mr. Will’s recognition that a unique opportunity has presented itself, and so…

He throws his whole heart into that moment.

There was NO holding back for this guy.

Then his wife comes around to the moment as well.

There you have it—

Two people



with a once-in-a-lifetime chance.

What will you do when yours comes along?

PROMPT: Don’t be the guy on the sidelines. Don’t be the girl who scurries away. Grab that chance by the horns and take it. Get in the game — Seize this day!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Make It Short

Legend has it that Earnest Hemingway once made a bet that he could write a complete story in only six words.

His winning tale —

For Sale: Baby Shoes, Never Worn.

While it is most likely that the legend itself is actually a work of fiction, you can bet your bottom dollar that the six-word story is a terrific writing exercise.

And it’s a great way to get published, too—

The online magazine Smith asks readers to post clever six-word memoirs here.

So give it a whirl, and your story might end up in their next compilation.

Here are few fun examples to inspire you—

The miserable childhood leads to royalties.
~ Frank McCourt

Fifteen years since last professional haircut.
~Dave Eggers

 Well, I thought it was funny.
~Stephen Colbert

Couldn't cope so I wrote songs.
~Aimee Mann

And this one’s mine—

Grew taller. But, alas, never matured.

PROMPT: What’s your six-word story? For some inspiration, pick up a copy of Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure edited by Rachel Fershleiser and Larry Smith. Then enter your super six-word tale today!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Children’s Book Week!

I know, I know, we've all been pretty wrapped up in the fact that it is Volcano Awareness Month – but HEY, this is Children’s Book Week!

Rest assured, these two national events are completely unrelated.

Anyway, Children’s Book Week began way back in 1919 – a very good year for me. It just so happens that 1919 was also the year of my grandfather’s birth. Remember him? He was the one who went to school with that dreamy Professor from Gilligan’s Island…

But I digress.

If you are a parent or happen to write for children, you probably spend a lot of time reading children’s books as a grownup. But stop for a moment and consider those books you read as a child…

Which one was your favorite?

What made it special?

As for me, Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder was my most beloved book. We read it in my 4th grade class, and I still remember those particular school days as wonder-filled.

I must have talked about it nonstop at home, too, because very late one night I was awoken out of a deep sleep. My dad had just returned from a business trip to Vermont, and he had something for me to try.

It was maple sugar…

just like Laura had enjoyed long, long ago in the Big Woods.

I thought I had died and gone to Heaven.

PROMPT: Find your little piece of heaven by getting a copy of your favorite childhood book and rereading it this week. I know I’ll be pulling out my dog-eared copy of Little House in the Big Woods. It will be a nice break from all of this Volcano Awareness, after all – Ma and Pa Ingalls are pretty much mum when it comes to ash clouds, cinder cones, and molten lava.