Sunday, June 28, 2015

Contest and Book Giveaway

I have found that contests are a good way to stay motivated.  I have three I plan to enter. The last two I have entered before and can vouch for them. The first one is new to me so if you have any information about the Atlantis Contest I would appreciate your comments.
The Atlantis Contest gives feedback to each entry. I'm not familiar with this contest, but plan on entering it. Open now and deadline is November 30,0105.
Then there is the Institute of Children's Literature Early Reader Mystery contest. Entry fee  $15 and you receive a free e-book for entering. Deadline is July 18, 2015. I have entered this one before and will again.
The last contest I'm mentioning today is the Creative Writing Institute. This is open from July 15 to August 15.
 This is a themed contest so check the guidelines carefully.

Next Sunday I will be announcing the winners of the book giveaways:
Where Do You Get Your Ideas? by Fred White
Clementine and the Spring Trip by Sara Pennypacker

What are some contests you have entered/won?
Please leave a comment to be eligible to win one of the books. Only USA addresses.
See you next week!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Where Do You Get Your Ideas?" by Fred White

June's craft book is a writer's guide to transforming ideas into stories.

I often have such wonderful ideas for a story, but then they peter out. I find that it might make a great scene, but won't sustain a whole novel.
So how does a writer take an idea and spin it into a full fledged story? Fred White tells you how in his book "Where Do You Get Your Ideas". Each chapter has assignments for you to complete.
What you will need is one notebook binder, he suggests 1 1/4" which will hold about four hundred pages and one pocket size note pad.
The binder is so you can easily rearrange or remove pages and the pocket note pad is of course to keep notes when traveling or just easier to carry around.
I'm not going to tell you where to look for ideas, Fred gives examples of this. I'm going to concentrate more on what to do with those ideas. That's where I struggle.

One of the writing tips from Chris McCloskey's interview is take a walk-write what you see, hear, smell, feel and taste (if you get a chance to eat.)
Fred makes this suggestion too. Take a walk in an unfamiliar area. You're collecting raw data.
He also gives a great idea if you are housebound-clean a closet! What memories come to mind as you clean and organize. I love this tip as I have a lot of organizing to do.
For characters he suggests starting with who you know: What are some of there personality quirks? How can you use this to develop a character? Write it down in your note book.
This has been the most helpful character development advice I have ever been given. I shy away from writing anything about people I know because I don't want to be in a law suit. But this is different. You're writing down things about them. Are they sad? What makes them sad? You make this part up. Are they quirky? Can you add this to someone else's personality trait and make a hodge podge? I'm friends with quite a few quirky people, I'm not naming any names, you know who you are. :)

I could go on and on, but this book is mainly on how to keep and use a writer's note book or journal.
Just so you know, I have two of these books and will be giving one of them away this month.
To be eligible to win please leave a comment and you must reside in the United States.
Let me know how you use your writer's journal.
What's the best advice you have been given?
Until next week,

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Juggling Genres & Age Groups by Charles Suddeth

Juggling Genres & Age Groups

Charles Suddeth

The story is all important!

I write anything from picture books and middle grade historical to young adult thrillers and adult mysteries. Many people can’t understand why I write in so many genres and age groups. I worry about writing a good story, and then I worry about genres and age groups.


Genres can be tricky, since they have so many subgenres. But genres aren’t meant to make a writer’s life complicated, they help a reader know where to find your book in a bookstore. Online markets and publishers prefer books that fit into multiple genres so they can list your novel in two or more categories. I recently spoke with an agent about my fantasy manuscript. We discussed: urban fantasy, soft fantasy, magical realism, and heroic fantasy. But these are not important when writing your story. Make the plot one that agents, editors, and readers can’t put down, and then find the closest fit. However, a few genres tend to have rules about their plotlines. For example, in Cozy Mysteries the murder should be introduced in chapter one.


Age Groups can be more complex to deal with. Children prefer a main character their age or a year or two older, but the topic needs to deal with issues appropriate for their age level:

Picture Books: Ages 3 to 7 (Board Books for younger readers and Easy Readers for older readers). Children this age are Searching for Security. Even while playing and having fun, they need to know their parents are there for them with love, protection, and life’s necessities.

Middle Grade: Ages 8 to 13 (Chapter Books with a limited number of illustrations for younger readers and Tween fiction involving dating for older readers). Children in this age are Searching for Identity. They are not certain who they are or what their abilities are. They often do things in groups to obtain peer approval, because they lack self-confidence and self-identity.

Young Adult: Ages 14 to 18 (New Adult for college-age readers). Teenagers are Searching for Independence. They are famous for their rebellion against their parents, sometimes called “attitude.” Psychologists have described this as subconscious psychological efforts to separate themselves from their families, so they can become adults. New Adult is about college-age students dealing with new-found independence.

Adults: Adults are easier to write for; they read in a wide range of ages and topics. Anything that doesn’t fit in the above categories. I once sold a short story about a little boy dealing with his father’s death to a dark fantasy anthology. I didn’t consider marketing it as a children’s book, because it dealt with issues of life and death.


My favorite rule for writing is: Take your reader where they are not expecting to go. This applies to all genres and age groups. I write the story I want to write, and then I consider the above age guidelines as I write the rough draft. I often hear people discussing a writer’s voice. Each genre and age group should have a unique voice or all your works will sound the same. You should find a unique voice for each book, even if you write in the same genre/age group. Since I tend to write books that cross genres, I only consider genres when I’m ready to approach an agent or editor.

Experiment 38 is about Emily who has just graduated from high school. I chose this time in her life because graduation precipitates some drastic changes that lead to kidnapping and her life being in danger. No other time period in her life would have worked for this plot. Since the plot involves Emily dealing with Independence, it is not an Adult topic. Emily graduated before the story began, so my publisher lists it in their New Adult catalog, but bookstores place it in Young Adult.

Experiment 38: YA thriller, paperback, 4RV Publishing. Eighteen-year-old Emily, small for her age, lives alone with her scientist-father and learns too late that he holds a terrible secret, one that might destroy her life. As she and her boyfriend, Nate, try to unravel the mystery behind her father’s secret, they face danger and uncertainty.

ISBN: 978-1-940310-02-2

Buy Links:

About Charles Suddeth

Charles Suddeth was born in Indiana, grew up Michigan, and has spent his adult life in Kentucky. He lives in Louisville with his two cats. He is a graduate of Michigan State University. He belongs to the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, International Thriller Writers, and Green River Writers. He likes to spend his days hiking and writing in nearby Tom Sawyer State Park.

Books: Halloween Kentucky Style, middle readers adventure, 2010. Neanderthal Protocol, adult thriller, 2012. Experiment 38, New Adult thriller, 2015. Eighth Mask, adult mystery, 2015. 4RV Publishing will release Spearfinger, a picture book, in 2015.


Author Tumblr:                                                          Author Goodreads:                                        Twitter: @CharlesSuddeth




Sunday, June 7, 2015

Winner of May's Book Giveaway and Some Tips From the Conference

The winner of the book, "How to Write a Children's Book and Get it Published" is Evelyn!

The winner of the book, "The Island of Dr. Libris" is Mary Ann.
Please send me the addresses you would like the book mailed to

What I learned yesterday:
Yesterday I attended the Florida SCBWI Mid Year conference.
As always I learn a tidbit or two to improve my WIP.

I learned I still need work on understanding POV.
Before the car rolled to a stop, Jaxon threw open the door and raced across the field, his sneakers sank into the red clay dirt, sending puffs of red dust up behind him.

Even though I was in third person POV I wasn't in omniscient, so in other words Jaxon couldn't see the puffs of dirt. (even though it was a nice visual). This was the fist line in my WIP and I could tell it immediately turned the editor, Erin Clarke and author, Sara Pennypacker off. But the good news is I could start later and avoid the whole thing!

My online critique partner was also in the same workshop and we both learned where her story should start. Which is much later. So there is that problem of knowing where to start. We as writers want to describe the setting, where we are and why, but usually this could be filled in later. Get to the action!

For this month I'll be giving away "Where Do You Get Your Ideas?" by Fred White and the fiction book I'll be giving away is Sara Pennypacker's "Clementine and the Spring Trip".

Please leave a comment to be eligible to win.

Happy writing see you next week!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Insecure Writer's Support Group

Insecure Writer's Support Group is a group that supports insecure writer's like me. This month I have some good news and some bad news. I'll start with the bad news as I always like to end on a positive note.
I've been blogging every week and checking my comments weekly. One week I noticed that an additional comment had been added which had a Message "check out my website." Thinking that it was a writer I immediately clicked on it only to be looking at stuff that wasn't what I was prepared to be looking at. I looked more closely at the link and then hastily deleted the comment from my blog. I hope no one else saw it and was offended by it.
But I learned you have to be careful. Any one out there have experience with unwanted or unfavorable comments? Is there a way to block them?
Okay I said I would end on a positive note which is this. I have been following From the Mixed Up Files for middle grade writers and won two book by Paul Durham