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Three Things Thursday

From Cheryl

By the time you read this, I will be 39 weeks pregnant.

I’m massive.

I’m cranky.

My hormones are out of control.

I cried for almost half an hour the other day because I was craving In-N-Out but I’d already eaten and wasn’t hungry enough to eat again.

It made me think of what a fantastic unreliable narrator I would be. Just because my “problems” don’t make sense to anyone else doesn’t mean they aren’t real to me in the moment. Pregnancy makes non-issues seem like the apocalypse. Things get twisted and turned in my head and I feel like the whole world is against me. Everyone and everything seems to be picking on me personally. Fears and anxieties explode into full-blown terrors.

Unreliable narrators can make for fascinating novels. You never know whether or not to trust what they say, and yet you want to believe them. But to make them realistic, you have to be able to follow their logic, as twisted as it may be. They always have a reason for what they do and how they think.

Are you using an unreliable narrator? What problems have you run into?


From Brenda

Books We Love
Someone posted an on-line piece which said “When I recommend a favorite book to someone, I find that I’m jealous of the fact that they get to be reading it for the first time.”  And I SO feel that way!
Subsequently, I liked the post, shared it on my FB, then — in answer to it and a couple of questions from “friends,” I recommended THE EIGHT – a book out from years and years ago about an oil cartel, a Chess Master, a gorgeous U.S. female brainiac and computer expert, with flash-backs of the French Revolution.  A fascinating and curious path in an excellent book by Katherine Neville – the only book I can think of that I’ve ever read five times, other than, possibly, a couple of the Oz books when I was a kid.
For something of newer vintage, I suggested ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE by Anthony Doerr, about a young blind girl in France and a pre-teen boy forced into service for the Hitler Youth organization in Germany. About a particular area during WW II, it is the most beautiful and touching writing you can imagine (if you love words, you’ll love the “poetry” of the language) and a fascinating picture of the era.  READ IT ! ! ! It’s long, but a surprisingly quick read with many, very short chapters.
What are YOU reading that you’d recommend for the “new” year?  We’d like to know.
From Carol
Write a scene from your character’s POV about their favorite holiday.

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Advent Calendar for TUW

2. ten words that describe your MC

3. ten minutes writing a scene where your MC must make a decision that will change the course of the story. don’t pick your pencil off the paper. write straight through the time.

4. three minutes where you have the MC introduce herself to a significant other

5. use these words in a scene: fly-by-night, fraternize, humdinger. Only write for four minutes

6. write a limerick about the plot of your story

7. pick ten songs to go with the movie made about your book

8. now that we have a movie theme, who would play the characters in that show?

9. if a secondary character became the main character, how would your book change?

10. make any character in your book a list maker. now have them make three important lists dealing with the three subplots

11. characters move the plot forward. have a parent to your MC shift the story because of that parent’s actions.

12.your character has a favorite poem. what is it? why does he love this poem?

13.write a poem that your character memorizes

14.pack a picnic lunch for your character and the love interest. what is on the menu?

15.your character has one super power. what is it? what happens when she loses that power for good?

16. what is the biggest mistake your character makes in the novel?

17.using all five senses, write a scene that takes place somewhere the MC is uncomfortable. you have 8 minutes.

18. write your character’s obituary

19. write your character’s first kiss

20.write a chapter in a different style–perhaps short, choppy lines, all in haiku, just one sentence . . . you decide

21. What is the best thing that could happen to your MC? why?

22. what is the worst thing that could happen to your MC? why?

23. the antagonist gets to have his favorite meal. what is it?

24. your MC meets someone important. who is it? why is this person important?

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Three Things Friday!

by Lisa

The Inquirer’s Prayer

Oh Agent, who sits behind your desk,
I’ve researched well your name.
I sent five pages.
They’re on your screen,
Glowing in your inbox.
Give me a chance to send a full.
And forgive me all my adverbs,
As I forgive your overbearing schedule.
Then sign me as your client,
Sell movie rights and more.
I really need some money,

‘Cause I’m desperate and I’m poor.


(Disclaimer: I’m not ready to query. I will be soon… probably. And I’m terrified.)


by Brenda

Are we there yet? . . . Are we there yet? . . . Are we there yet?   . . . . .  Not quite, but soon.
Are you doing NaNo? What was your goal for yourself in November? It might have been 50K at NaNo. Maybe it was more . . . or less. Maybe it was a personal goal: lose a couple of pounds; walk daily; cook for your family every single (day/week/month) at least once; stop biting your nails.
Whatever goal you decided on, does it look like you’ll get there (you still have four days)?
My goals were to write every day in November:
So far, so good. It helps that I’m using 750words dot com to do the writing (It’s free for the first month, and only $5 a month if you want to stay on it. They send you a daily reminder to do your 750 words, you earn “badges” for various accomplishments and at the end of each session, you can look at totals, an analysis of mood, tense, word analysis, etc.)
Write at least 750 words every day (less than half way NaNo’s 50K) :
I’ve run from 777 to 2,429 a day and NEVER below the 750, but I’ve got quite a ways still to get to the 50K.
Ultimate goal was to write 50K words:
With a little extra, coming close to my high (above) or a little more each day will get me there.
An extra goal: work on getting my weight down a bit, even with Thanksgiving and Christmas coming on:
I am down about 3 lbs from the first of the month, so it’s a start.
See you when we’re “there” after Nov. 30, midnight — good luck, and keep going!


by Cheryl

Happy Thanksgiving!
Years ago, someone challenged me to write down twenty things I was thankful for every day for three months.
Believe it or not, I did it.
I learned quite a bit.
First of all, twenty things is a LOT. Five is easy. Ten is a brain teaser. Fifteen takes awhile. But twenty? You have to pay attention all day, every day, to come up with twenty.
The next thing I learned was that I really like food. Almost every day at least one entry was food.
I also learned that I can be thankful for completely opposite things. I can be thankful for sunshine one day and for rain on another. I can be thankful to go out with friends and thankful that plans got cancelled so I can rest.
Lastly, I learned that I am infinitely grateful for the people in my life. Their love, encouragement, and kindness is what powers me. I could not make it without my incredible friends and family.
I’m not sure I’d ever attempt it again, but it was an experiment I’ll always treasure. So what do you guys say? After Nanowrimo, is anyone up for a new challenge?


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Thoughts on Self-Publishing

by Lisa Sledge

Some authors do self-publishing right. You know who you are.

You consult with professional editors.

Meet with writing groups.

Utilize feedback from beta-readers.

Attend writing clinics,

Rewrite your manuscript again,

And again.

Making sure it is perfect.

It’s expensive.

It’s hard.

It’s worth it.

And some authors hurt my heart.

They are the ones with lovely words and wonderful ideas

But not enough patience for perfection.

It makes me sad.

Such beautiful aspirations deserve love and care,

Not a quick read-through,

an amateur cover,

a rushed online publication.

They’re excited.

They want to send their story into the world.

But be kind to dreams.

The first time you type “The End” on a full length manuscript, put it aside.


Then tell your excitement to sit and simmer.


Read it again.

Write it again.

Show it to trusted friends and mentors.

Then repeat.

Make your manuscript shine.

The same applies for traditional authors

Who query agents and publishers

Before a novel is ready.

The secret to writing,

So far as I can tell,

Is as much patience

As persistence.

It is hard.

But we can do it.

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Writing Night Youdon’thavetobringmeanything Shower!

I am excited for next week’s gathering!

A writing night! Yay!

HOWEVER, please don’t feel like you need to bring me something. If anything, you can write a limerick or a flash fiction piece on having five kids and why that’s maybe not the best idea (or maybe it is? advice limericks?). I think we should all just hang out and have fun together and write. That will take my mind off this impending shift that is about to rock our world–that alone is a wonderful gift! :)

Also, here is how my son does his homework:

IMG_2015 (1)

I hadn’t checked his work for awhile. My mothering skills are off the charts.

Feel free to use this as your writing prompt for the day–a child who writes this in his math workbook when the mood strikes.

See you all next week!


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Concrete Writing

by Lisa Sledge

The WIFYR assistants met last weekend to plan the 2015 conference. Can I just say how excited I am to go back to a conference that has done so much to save my writing and build my confidence? I wish it was June already.

Cheri Pray Earl gave a great presentation on how to improve our writing. I took pages of notes. One thing she mentioned that really stuck with me is the importance of concrete rather than abstract writing.

It brought me back to my college days, studying poetry. William Carlos Williams (1883 – 1963) had a bit of an obsession with concreteness. And I love him for it. Here is my favorite of his poems:

This Is Just To Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

Beautiful, isn’t it? For me it conjures up all sorts of feelings, emotions, and even memories. A note on the kitchen table. Plums, icebox, cold, sweet, and that little bit of guilt that makes pleasure run deeper.

There is a chance, I realized last Saturday, that not everyone knows or understands what “concrete writing” means. Maybe you’ve heard the term before, but you can’t quite define it and you’re not sure you’d be able to recognize it in something you read.

I’m an English teacher. This is what I love. Indulge me for a moment.

Concrete writing relies on nouns, verbs, and vivid adjectives. It is a way of helping the reader look at ordinary things in a new light, makes the mundane stand out, and breathes life into what is easy to overlook.

Abstract writing is the cheap and lazy way to try and conjure up emotions in our readers. And guess what? It often doesn’t work. For example, I might write, “I ate the last plum and it tasted so good.” The phrase “so good” is empty. What does it represent? What emotions or feelings does it create? Nothing. And the “last plum”? Who cares if it was the last one. It doesn’t mean anything to me.

Inject power into your writing. Avoid abstract words such as “amazing”, “awesome”, “terrible”, “bad” or other vague constructions. Look through the world of your novel and highlight small objects and details in a way that will carry specific meaning and emotions to your readers.

Be concrete.

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Better Idea!!!!

House warming party!!!!!

Also, who is actually doing NaNo? I’m curious?

And who was going to but hasn’t started and thinks they can’t start because it’s too late and goals are stupid and who made up this stupid month anyway?

Also, I’m doing the opposite of nesting which I think is better way to welcome a baby into the world. This is NORMAL baby. NORMAL!

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