Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Lessons from a Mini Ballerina

Yesterday, Little Miss had her first dance class - ballet and tap for 3 & 4 year olds! It was the cutest thing you've ever seen. All those little princesses in leotards and tights and ballet slippers and their hair up in a bun (or in our case, a haphazard ponytail with 3 bobbypins that still wouldn't stay). Absolutely priceless.

Parents weren't allowed to stay inside the studio, understandably, but that didn't stop all us stage moms (and dads! ha) from taking turns peeking inside the little window on the studio door, taking phone pics and filming on iPhones. lol I was a little concerned about the first class, just because this was all so new to us, but Little Miss did great and seemed to really have fun!

They all have a sticker they stand on, on the floor in the studio, so that they know where to stand and not crowd each other. Well apparently one little girl took the sticker Little Miss wanted, so she ended up with an octopus and was NOT happy about it, as we heard later. She didn't protest in class though, just told me afterward, so thank goodness for that. ha!

At some points, when I peeked, I saw Little Miss standing hesitantly, watching the other girls, trying to do what they did, and at other times, I saw her eagerly dancing full out, with a big smile, and doing exactly what she was supposed to. I was so relieved, it seems like she's going to do fine and learn and enjoy it. I already can't wait for the big recital in May! :)

The cutest part was when they put on their tap shoes and all we heard from the hallway was "clack clack clackclackstompshufflestompclackclack"!

At another point, they were lined up in two side-by-side lines, and Little Miss was the first in her line! They had to then do a tap move all the way across the floor to the mirror at the barre. Little Miss, without hesitating, took off across the room and did her move just as she supposed to! So adorable! And this was the first class!

Afterward, once my little ballerina was home and I was looking at the pics from the night and remembering, I thought of the parallel to our lives as writers. It's hard getting out there, being new. We tend to watch the writers around us, and think we have to do it their way. We copy instead of embrace our own style (and I don't mean plagiarism, I mean in regards to writing schedules, the genre we choose, the tense we choose, etc. We fumble around and feel stupid and think we're the worst writer out there. We think we have to do it the way everyone else is instead of the way we feel it inside. We consider quitting because hey, its hard.

Then we realize that somewhere along the way, we started having fun. We branch out a little, maybe realize we can incorporate our own style into the basics. Add some flair. We start smiling while we write, and realize - hey, I CHOSE this. I enjoy this...

Then as more time passes, and as we grow and learn in the craft, we might even get to lead a little. Teach a workshop or speak at a writer's retreat, spread our wings.

Whether we're 3 or 30, whether it's ballet or writing, being good takes practice. It takes time. Commitment. Little Miss will figure that out, just as I've figured it out for myself over the years. Every famous ballerina on a stage in Russia started out like Little Miss. Unsure. Fumbling. Tripping. Complaining over their assigned sticker. :)

And every writer starts out the same. We have to stick with it and keep trying, and above all, HAVE FUN.

Because hey, if you don't even enjoy your story, no one else will...

(this is a blurry pic I took on my phone before we left for the studio, but I'll have better ones on FB soon.)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Asking for Help

So it turns out I can’t do everything.

I know this comes as a real shocker to you, what with my magic cape and everything, but… it was all just a show.

A show mostly for myself.

But I’m learning something. It can actually be lots of fun when you ask for help.

Not the asking… but the receiving. And the relationships that flourish as a result.

On my left stands my best friend, Ethan. That’s his baby that’s making my stomach bulge. And that’s his sweet heart thumping that helps me think through and plan for all kinds of things when it comes to reaching out to teen guys.

On my right is Halee, the go-to, keep-me-on-task, writer-editor-extraordinare. She came on board with without hesitation when I was in a bit of a personal crisis a few years ago.

And on my far right is Abbie, who despite our attempts to scare her out of her wits, has proven that she’s just as crazy as everybody else who’s working on Real Teen Faith. Oh, and she’s darn talented too.

You’d think that I’d have learned from these extraordinary people that God brings just the right people into our lives at just the right time – when we ask. But when it comes to needing help… I’m a slow learner.

Recently Erynn (you know, that Mangum girl – she’s written a few books or something) reminded me that it’s OK to ask for help in the publishing world. That it’s a group effort. That as writers we support each other.

So this is me, passing that on to you. How can we encourage you today? How can we pray for you? What questions can we attempt to answer?

This is a group effort, and trust me… it can be a lot of fun when we bond over the passion God’s placed in our hearts.

Monday, August 29, 2011

So, what's your book about?

It's my LEAST favorite question in the world, honestly. I'll be standing there, minding my own business, and somehow, someone finds out that I'm an author. And then, they inevitably ask the number one question that all authors will field:

"So. What's your book about?"

Want to hear my typical response?

"Well, it's about this girl. Actually, she's more of a younger woman, because, you know, I wanted the age to appeal to both teens and women and so I decided to make her like a twenty-something. And, uh, she's really into artsy stuff. So then, she like, uh..."


If you have ever gone to a writer's conference - and you should know by now that we Scribble Chicks really encourage writing conferences!! - you have heard all about the elevator speech and how you should be able to give a thirty-second rundown of your book, preferably without using the words "uh" or "um".

Confession time, y'all. I am THE WORST at the elevator speech in the whole history of the WORLD.

By the time I finish telling someone about my book, I can see them out of the corner of my eye pulling their library cards out of their wallets and taking scissors to them, swearing that they will never read another book in their life.

It's enough to make me grip the sides of my laptop and promise that I will never leave my desk or home ever again. All of my promotional work on my books will just have to take place behind my computer screen so that I can edit out all of my uhhhs and hmmms. I love to write, but I am the worst at promoting it.

Anyone with me?

Oh, did I mention? I've got an interview tomorrow with a local TV station about my newest novel, Sketchy Behavior.

On TV. Without my laptop. Outside of my house.

Please be praying for me. I get very nervous before ANY type of interview, but at least with radio/phone interviews, I can pace the house and make the people listening believe that I'm just calmly sitting in a chair, drinking a mocha and painting my toenails. Not so with TV interviews. With those, I have to look calm as well as act calm.

No pacing allowed.

The pacing might just detract from what I'm there to talk about.

Because, honestly? The writing is not about me. The book is not about me. When all is said and done, the book is totally for, completely wrapped around, tightly tied up in Christ. All I do for a living is write silly stories to convey the love of Jesus to whomever might be picking up my novel.

And that's what my book is about.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Bookmark This: True Confessions of a Living, Breathing Editor

One of the best things about writing a novel (you know, besides the obvious) is the privilege of working with your developmental editor. :)

Sure, at first, it's a bit daunting as he/she (in my case, she) tries to poke holes in your plot, challenges you to rethink the scene that you thought was absolute perfection, asks you to change the name of a character that you got really attached to, etc. But as you go through the process, you notice that somehow, some way, these suggestions helped make your work so much stronger.

I had one of those fantastic editors, and her name is Jamie Chavez. Not only did I feel like she really got my style of writing, but we shared a mutual love of LOST, a sarcastic sense of humor and a previous hometown of mine, namely, the Nashville, Tenn., area.

So naturally, when I saw that she finally started a blog, I was downright thrilled, and I know you will be to. Not only does she have great behind-the-scenes information on how to succeed in writing novels, but she has encouraging posts like the one that's currently on the top of her page. Even though I've been writing for a living for a while now, I was so encouraged by the post about doing what I love (and how they money will come if you're doing just that).

Good stuff, my fellow Scribble Chicks, good stuff indeed...

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Question from a reader...

A dear reader emailed me the other day and asked the following question:

On Scribblechicks, you address finding and struggling to get ideas, but I can get ideas. My problem is that I don't stay excited about them, or think they are good ideas for more than a few days. I'll start fleshing it out and then think "this sucks, it'll never be good enough and is not worth writing if it'll never be good enough". Any advice?

In a word, yes! :)

First of all, never feel alone when it comes to self doubt and insecurities in the writing field. This is a tough business, whether you're published or unpublished. Unpublished authors fight the growly monster of Self Doubt in contest feedback from judges, or critiques from critpartners or other authors, etc. And published authors find that mean monster when it comes to bad reviews, low ratings, low sales figures, and rejections from other publishers on new proposals, etc. Never be so disillusioned that you think getting published one time means you have arrived, and will never struggle with Self Doubt again. NOT TRUE! You need to learn how to handle this difficulty NOW because it doesn't go away completely. Learn today how to commit to a project and stick to it, and hand over the negative to the Lord - He is the only one who can truly give you the strength and confidence inside to complete His will, and go for your dreams.

The above is very important - spiritually and emotionally and mentally, you have to be in a place to be able to stick with a project and turn off that negative voice inside that truly is from the devil...the devil, you ask? Really? YES. After all, when was the last time you heard God tell someone "you suck"? Hasn't happened ::grin::)

That said...the next step after prayer and getting your head/heart right, is commitment. Pick an idea you really like and are excited about and give yourself a deadline. If you commit to finishing a book in 6 months or one year or whatever works for your schedule and life, set the deadline and work toward it as if a real publisher was the one who had set it. This is good training because one day, that will hopefully be the case, right? :)

Get into the habit now and find someone to keep you accountable to your goal. A crit bid, a fellow author, even a non-writing friend who cares about you and will ask you "hey, did you write today?" It really does help. Working toward a goal and knowing someone is holding you to it does wonders for your creativity and motivation. A lot of writers actually work better under pressure. So put that pressure on!

If you find yourself losing interest halfway through (or whenever), stop. Ask yourself, is this boring? Why don't I care anymore? Figure out why you don't like it anymore and then fix it. Usually this can be fixed by adding more conflict to your original plot or by upping the stakes or by adding a ticking timebomb of sorts to your story. If you get stuck, don't quit. Brainstorm. Email or call another writer and say "help". Find someone in the writing world who can be this person for you. There's no shame in needing help sometimes, even the award winning, multipublished authors have brainstorming buddies and crit partners.

I hope that helps answer your question, dear reader! Who else has questions for the Chicks this week? :)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Getting Your Groove Back

Admit it. You slacked a little this summer. All those plans and writing ideas and somehow… the months just slipped away. Now you’re looking at a (maybe) half-finished project.

How do you regain your momentum?

Here’s one thing that always helps me. It's going to sound lame, but:

Stick-it notes. I’m not gonna lie – as much as I love my iPad and its sticky-note function, there’s nothing like having a check-list right in front of my face. All. Day. And if it practically glows in the dark it’s hard to ignore. :)

Sticky notes are not just for lists, though. My favorite way to organize my writing during the brainstorming season is with the medium-sized, brightly colored notes. I sit at my desk and write every chapter idea down… stupid or not. Later I throw out the bad ideas and arrange the chapters where I can see them at a glance while I write. Eventually they go into an envelope where I can pull them out of my file for future reference.

So maybe stick-it notes aren’t your thing. Maybe there are other tools that motivate you to get organized with your writing, or to stay that way.

Your turn! Tell us all about it in the comments. 

B.J. Hamrick writes non-fiction for teens and for you, especially at

Monday, August 22, 2011

Like a Pumpkin Seed Caught Between Your Eyelashes

One of my favorite, favorite, FAVORITE things about writing fiction - and particularly romantic comedies - is that I get to make up all kinds of new analogies.

Anytime I'm sitting down to write, whether it's a blog or novel, I try my absolute hardest to not say analogies that have already been said once or three million times. A word of warning - you can over-do unique analogies, but a few perfectly placed sayings can take your book to a whole new level. And new levels are great for catching editor's eyes.

Here's a few common cliches for example:

I love him like I've never loved anyone else.

It itched like ants in the pants.

I stuck out like a sore thumb.

He looked healthier than a horse.

Instead, why don't you try something else a little more...unique?

I love him more than a midget loves to limbo.

It itched like a dandruff-stricken measles patient.

I stuck out like a pink, inflatable elephant at a wedding reception.

He looked about as healthy as the tomatoes in my Gran's fridge. And Gran always kept the best-looking tomatoes in her fridge.

Now it's your turn! Here's a few common cliches - how could you rewrite them to sound more eye-catching?

1. Don't be such a stick in the mud!

2. We feel like we're meant to be.

3. He was going to be toast.

4. There are lots of fish in the sea.

Have fun!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

How 'Bout Some Information, Please?

As any author will tell you, one of your biggest challenges (after you've written your magnum opus, natch) is effectively marketing not only your work, but yourself.

So you step up your blogging, sign up for Facebook, Twitter and whatever other social networking sites are hip at the moment, and you launch your official website.

But every once in a while, you've got switch things up so that people will continue to be interested, which is precisely what I'm doing with as we speak. And now that I'm in the process of making tweaks, I wanted to ask you, our loyal Scribble Chick readers for your feedback on the following...

And to sweeten the pot a little, the first five people who respond will win an autographed copy of one of my novels (your choice). As always, thanks for taking the time to read, and please let us know if there's anything you'd like us to address in future posts.

1)What components do you like seeing on your favorite authors' websites? What could I add that would make you want to visit regularly?

2)If you're a writer, would you enjoy reading a special section that gave specific tips about the craft, writing for publication, etc.?

3)Do you like websites that are basically the author's blog? Or a more of a standalone page like I have with links to everything else? Why?

4)Do you like receiving regular author e-newsletters? Why or why not? And if you like them, what makes one an absolute must-read?

5)Any other feedback/thoughts? Please don't hesitate to let me know...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Because we gotta share the love...

Because Erynn is one of our own Scribble Chicks and because I seriously loved my preview copy of her newest release (August 16th 2011) SKETCHY BEHAVIOR from Zondervan, I had to use my week to post the review I just put up on Amazon...

Erynn Mangum is a well known coffee addict, so I can't resist using coffee metaphors to describe her newest release, SKETCHY BEHAVIOR. This novel is like the perfect blend of coffee. Instead of milk and steam and chocolate, however, SKETCHY BEHAVIOR mixes fun, romance and suspense into a delightful concoction that will send you running for your favorite mug! (and stashing this great read on your keeper bookshelf)

SKETCHY BEHAVIOR is the story of a young teen who by happenstance (or was it by God's Will?) is thrust into the spotlight as a forensic sketch artist. The tables turn when 16-year-old Kate Carter realizes that her sketch wasn't just a get-lucky kind of coincidence in art class, but rather a real gift that might just be more trouble than its worth...

Erynn creates a great balance of crime-scene realism with humor and lighthearted fun, (and even romance!) so the reader doesn't get bogged down in grit, but at the same time, gets to enjoy a suspense ride with all the trimmings.

Don't miss this great read by Erynn Mangum! I couldn't put it down...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Emotional Connections - Not Just for the Bachelorette

Imagine for a moment there’s a hot guy staring at you. You’re also single. (I didn’t say this wouldn’t be a stretch.)

You glance back and your eyes meet Hot Single Guy’s momentarily. He looks away. So… he’s not a creep.

A hot guy who doesn’t treat you like a fresh piece of meat? You need to find out more.

Your heart pounds as you approach. “How’s it going?” you ask.

Then he proceeds to tell you. His grandmother died last year. His Great Aunt lives about 20 minutes from this park bench. He was born in Delaware. He likes cats. He, he, he…

He seemed so normal before he started talking.

In five minutes, not once has he asked a question about you. Not once has he tried to connect with you. There was that first alluring glance, but it was all in the toilet after that.

Sadly, we’ve all met someone like this man. But we, as smart, caring women wouldn’t dare be “that person” to anyone else… would we?

I hate to say it, but there are a lot of writers out there (I’m guilty! I’m guilty!) who treat our readers just like the guy on the park bench treated you. Writers (that’s me!) who say nothing at the beginning of a chapter, at the beginning of an article, at the beginning of a poem, to help the readers feel connected to us or our story.

Oh, we talk about ourselves or our characters plenty. But there’s no common emotion to bring the reader into our world.

And to be honest… it makes our readers feel a little used.

So I challenge you – let's start our stories in places where the reader can emotionally relate. No dry monologues, please. Let's ask ourselves, What could I say that would make the reader relate to the character emotionally?

As for the answer to that question, I defer to you lovely ladies. It’s time to pitch your ideas. What makes you want to keep up a friendship, even if the guy isn’t hot?

What are some ways you're trying to connect through your story?
B.J. Hamrick writes for you and for teens at

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Unexpected

Writing, like life, needs to have a few unexpected twists and turns.

Like life, the characters in your novels need to have a few surprises. Characters need to be upset or overcome or completely shocked by something.

Say... for example... that your character is having a pretty normal day, changed a few nasty diapers but all in all was pretty much going about her day when she got home to discover that the dog had completely gone all upset-stomach all over the kitchen floor.

See? Unexpected.

Then say, for example, that your character spends the next hour sanitizing every single tile on the floor and is so covered in the stench of antibacterial spray that she can barely breathe, much less cook dinner for her family. She's tired, she's grouchy and she's about to either make the dog an outside-only mutt or find a new home for him somewhere where there are lots of kitchen tiles that no one cares about so he can get all upset-stomach on every day without getting in trouble. So, her husband takes her and their baby out for dinner.

Again. Unexpected. But this time, in a good way. :)

Like life, your characters need to feel emotion - they need to be shocked, sad, confused, angry. But don't just tell it - show it. How do you act when you're upset? How do you behave when you're tired? Do you ever snap a short, sarcastic reply when someone asks the wrong question at the wrong time?

Writing, like life, needs to be full of life. And life abundant.

And as for the dog, I am still deciding whether or not to let him back into my good graces. Maybe once the scent of sanitizer fades from my hair. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

From 60 Rejections to Success

Fellow writers,

Need some inspiration? Well, Kathryn Stockett, you know the best-selling author of The Help has a great story of how 60 (yes, 60!) rejections still didn't get her down.

Guess it's a good thing she didn't give up, right?

Don't Forget to Share...

And no, I don't mean gossip...but seriously, isn't this picture just too cute for words?

Ok, back on topic...Betsy's fantastic post about encouraging other writers yesterday made me immediately remember an idea I'd planned to write about long, long ago. You know back before I got really busy and disappeared for a while...

I always said that if I had any measure of success as a writer that I'd share what I knew with others who aspired to do the same. And while I haven't exactly hit the New York Times' bestseller list yet (but boy, would I ever freak out if I did), I've had many opportunities to do just that—and it's been one of the most rewarding things about the writing life.

Back when I was the new kid on the block in Nashville and had just started working for CCM Magazine, my editorial assistant duties mostly considering of typing and html coding back issue copy (apparently, just scanning it in wouldn't work). And considering the magazine had already been in print for twenty-something years when I started, well, there was lots and lots and lots of typing to do.

And because there was sooo much typing, I was pretty sure I wouldn't actually be writing for a good, long while. But before I contracted the hideous case of carpal tunnel that I often stayed awake worrying about, one of my editors surprised me with a short feature writing assignment. It was only 400 words, but to me, it was the equivalent of being asked to pen a sequel to The Great Gatsby.

Once I turned it in, other opportunities started becoming available to me, too, and I was immediately struck by the generosity of my superiors. Sure, they were also writers, but they had no qualms about introducing me to people who could help further my career, too. And once those very people left CCM, they made sure to keep me in the loop for other editorial projects as well. Plus, whenever I needed career advice, they were more than happy to meet for coffee or chat over dinner, and that encouragement was pivotal in me launching my own freelance writing business.

So long story short, that's exactly what I try to do now. I've had four different interns in the past couple of years, and teaching them the proverbial tools of the trade has been such a joy. I see the same hunger and passion for writing in their eyes that I had in the beginning, and pointing them in a helpful direction so they can succeed—or even sharing my contacts with them—is an absolute pleasure.

See, there's always enough writing to go around, no matter how competitive the market, so I guess what I'm trying to say is sharing is definitely the way to go. And when you do so, you never know what might be around the corner when you're generous with your own resources...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Yesterday morning, walking to work at my parttime job (I have a 2+ block hike from my car to my building downtown) I heard shouts. Male shouts, and many of them.

"Great," I thought. "A riot."

But thankfully, no. (and yes we've had them before so don't just think I'm paranoid lol) It was a group of bicyclers. They were riding in formation, and judging by the calls of the man in the front and his obvious leadership position, it was some type of training class. Most of the guys were in their 30's and had on shirts that boasted either Police or Fire Department, which was interesting. They were all taking turns riding in different positions, and as the traffic changed and they paused at redlights (they were beside me for awhile, remember - 2 block hike) they would make different calls that would be passed down the line to the last rider, regarding cars in which lane, or "clear", etc.

I found it fascinating, even though I still am not entirely sure what they were doing or why. But it was a great example of teamwork. From the confidence of the bike leader to the very last rider on wobbly wheels (yes, I almost reached over to steady him more than once! Poor guy!) they had a mission and a purpose and they were all working together to accomplish it.

Writing might seem like a solitary act, but it takes a team. Think about it. While most writers tend to be introverted, they still crave the friendship and understanding that comes from other writers. Nothing can replace that. And when it comes to the actual act of publishing, it definitely takes a team - the writer, possibly an agent, the acquisitions editor, the copy editor or line editor, the marketing department, the art department, etc. Then it takes a team to sell books - your friends and family, your writers group, word of mouth among peers.

Teamwork is crucial to almost everything that's important in life. Think about it - raising kids ideally takes the team of a husband and wife. Our jobs/career take teamwork to produce a product or sell a product or maintain a business. Our spiritual walk even takes a team - you, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, not to mention the fellowship and encouragement received at church and the teaching from our pastor or sunday school leaders.

Why should writing - our goal, our ministry, our dream - be any different?

Just like the wobbly guy at the end of the line, we need support to do our best work. To remain motivated to stay the course. To improve in our craft and get better with each block. Each traffic signal. Each deadline. Each rejection letter.

So take a minute today to encourage a fellow writer. To holler back to the end of the line "You're doing great! Keep it steady!" Or even just call to the leader at the front of the line - "HELP!" Veteran writers (or in this example, riders) should have no qualms about offering advice and instruction to new riders (writers). We've all been that wobbly guy in the back, and should be eager to help strengthen and advise.

How can you bless a fellow author today?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Mastering the Interview

I used to look forward to interviewing people for my stories. I also looked forward to minor surgeries, root canals, and trips to the zoo with hoards of three-year-olds.

In all seriousness, there was at least one thing to look forward to about these events -- the moment they were over.

Then I went to school for journalism. And I found out interviewing wasn't as bad as I thought. In fact, I learned five tips that transformed my interview skills:

1- Focusing on the fact that it wasn't about me. Most interviewees are nervous. In fact, they want me to put them at ease.

2 - The right tools make all the difference. For in-person interviews, a pad of paper and a pencil are a lot less intimidating to most people than a laptop or recording device. (ALWAYS let a client know if the interview will be recorded.)

3 - Respect the person's time, but don't be in too big of a rush. Try to start out with common ground and establish yourself as the nurturing, caring person I know you are.

4 - Do your homework beforehand. This may sound like common sense, but a lot of people don't take the time. If the person you're interviewing has a website, read it. Learn as much as you can about the interviewee or the topic so you can ask intelligent questions and not waste his or her time.

5 - Find put beforehand if you are allowed to let the interviewee see the final product before print if you plan to sell it to a publisher. If it's for your own private use, this won't be as big of an issue.

So there ya go. One topic down, two to go. Next time we'll discuss how to tackle the root canal head-on, as well as the trip to the zoo...

Or maybe the rest of you experienced ladies could give us a few tips in the comments?

B.J. Hamrick writes for you and for teens at        

P.S. - Sorry this is late today -- I took the wrong computer to my "office" (a.k.a. the library) and it didn't have my post on it.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Rose Colored Glasses

I have a tendency to look at my characters in a not-quite-fully-dimensional light.

Since I'm the one writing them, it's easy for bits and pieces of myself to end up in their character qualities. My interests start to become their interests. My thoughts, prayers, etc. become their thoughts, prayers and etc.

But sometimes, my faults tend to not end up on the page. And I end up with "perfect" characters who never make any mistakes.

I know we've all read novels where the main character is sickeningly perfect. She never has a bad thought about anyone. She never messes up. She never makes any kind of mistakes and she never uses contractions when she speaks.

I have nothing in common with this character.

And, I might go out on a limb and say that most readers have nothing in common with her either.

Look at your current WIP. Does your character make mistakes? Does he/she have to work hard at something? Does he/she have a fault that no matter how much she prays about it, she still can't move past it?

These are the characters that will resonate with readers! The ones who feel so real and so human that they might walk off the pages and sit across from you in your favorite coffee shop. Read back through your novel and ask yourself, "Would I have done that in that situation?"

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Where in the World is Christa Banister?

Call off the search parties, my fellow Scribble Chick readers; I'm back after an embarrassingly long hiatus...

Truth be told, the time that's elapsed between this post and my last one is a little sad to say the least. See, I've had countless ideas for my regular Thursday post, but I never quite got around to sharing them, thanks to, well, the constant push and pull of everyday life.

But that's all about to change, my friends. While my schedule is certainly no less crazy, I'm learning how to manage it better, to make time for the things that are really important—like dialoguing with my fellow writers. And I guess what I've been experiencing these past couple of months is something we all can relate to, which is exactly why I'm writing about it.

When it comes to what's really important to you, and I'm guessing writing definitely falls into that category since you're here, it's easy to let less important things (that's you, Facebook and Twitter) consume all your time. Even things that don't fall into the social networking category can also steal our attention and focus, meaning that current WIP remains just that—a work in progress—rather than the fully realized novel of your dreams.

In the past few weeks, I've made significant strides in fighting for what I love to do, rather than just what I have to do. And trust me, this wasn't exactly easy. After all, it required me to embrace something I'm not such a fan of—structure. While I'd like to think I can work on my WIP any time I feel inspired, it always seemed to take a backseat to something else. Deciding change needed to come now rather than never, I put a plan in motion.

So here I was, full of ideas and excitement about my novel, but my progress was moving forward at a veritable snail's pace. Discouraged and a bit disgusted by the fact that it was already late July, and I wasn't nearly as far into the story as I hoped to be, I did some serious reevaluating of my life, schedule—what I needed to give up and what I needed to shift in priority.

And while I'm still far from perfect and will always be, I've certainly noticed how these changes have dramatically helped my WIP. Not only do I know exactly when I'm going to write, but I look forward to it. I'm kicking procrastination to the curb, one small step at a time, and am so excited about where the story is taking me (and eventually, the reader).

Now how about you? What is holding you back from making the progress you'd like? Is there a bad habit that needs to change for you to take that crucial next step?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Cheep Cheep - Round Robin

Writing exercises are very helpful in strengthening our craft.

There's several different types of exercises, including the ever popular "Round Robin", where one person starts with a story, and then another person picks it up, then a third keeps it going...usually this exercise has rules such as only two lines per person, and usually ends up being really silly and fun! :)

So in honor of the Round Robin, lets have some fun today. But instead of a Round Robin exactly, let's do a writing prompt, which is very similiar. This is where we all take the SAME first line and write 50 (yes, ONLY 50!!) words to finish it.

Fingers ready? Here we go!

Writing prompt:

One look into his shimmering, charcoal gray eyes told her everything she needed to know. She was without a doubt, completely and totally....

Take it from here :) Get creative! This could be a roamnce prompt. Could be a sci-fi. Could be a thriller or suspense. It all just depends on your perception. That's what makes it fun!


(only 50 words!!!)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Paragraph Swap

Hey Ladies! I thought it would be fun if we shared a few paragraphs of our current works-in-progress. Here's mine -- leave yours (and any questions you might have for us to blog about) in the comments. Can't wait to see what you're working on!


...I was alone. Completely and utterly alone. Nothing but me and darkness. And the noise of the screen door, which chose that very moment to squeak open and slam shut again.

I thought of Buddy, the camp goat. It was on this very mountainside he’d committed suicide. Okay, so maybe the hill was too steep. Maybe it was just a slip of his foot. Or maybe it was a night like this when Buddy was so scared he ran – right off the mountain – forgetting there was a rope tied around his neck.

Whatever the case, I wasn’t taking any chances. I slammed both doors tight. I double-checked the windows – the ones that could be secured, anyway. I hunkered down in a corner… and tried to sleep.

But the questions haunted me. Why the sudden darkness? Was it a downed power line? Or something more sinister? Why hadn’t I brought a flashlight? And most importantly… how could I know for sure I just peed in the toilet and not my suitcase?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Writing Pilates

You asked for it! Get ready to stretch your writing muscles with a few little exercises today!

Creative (a.k.a. what-feels-like-pointless) writing can be actually VERY good for your current WIP. I hate, hate, hate, hate taking time away from whatever deadline I'm working on to write something meaningless, but I've noticed that after I spend a little bit writing something new, I get a quick breath and I suddenly have more inspiration to push through on my WIP.

So, are you ready??? :)

1. Here's an oldie-but-a-goodie from writer's conferences: Dig through a stack of magazines and cut out three pictures of different people - young, old, tall, short, thick, thin. Glue the picture onto a piece of paper and give yourself 10-15 minutes to come up with as many details about that person as you can (name, age, favorite color, favorite ice cream, weird habit, unique talent, etc). What is in their past that they want to hide? What is their biggest pet peeve? What (or who) do they love the most?

2. Close your eyes and think of the most desolate setting you can imagine. Now imagine a person who suddenly finds him/herself there. What would they live in? What would they eat? How would they stay alive? What did they bring or have with them? Do you think they will be able to leave there someday?

3. Pick a random object in plain sight - a cup, a table, a desk, etc. Now, set your timer for three minutes and write down as many adjectives about this particular object as you can. Is it soft, hard, squashy, sturdy, yellow, pink, wet or dry? Get creative - think of as MANY different, unique words as you can! And if you want to get really inventive, try making up a few words!!

Feeling inspired now? Great! Time to get back to work on your WIP! And please feel free to leave your answers to one of the exercises in the comments so we can all get motivated by you! :)