Some important things about screaming in my ears very very loud just because someone across the table is looking at you

Everyone is screaming at my house. Literally. The baby, the two year old, the four year old, the six year old isn’t screaming but he’s playing the piano so . . . . and the eight year old can’t find his Pokemon cards.  And it’s 8:16 in the morning.

I have recommitted to a project I have set aside over and over again. I never know if I keep setting it aside because it’s not what i should write or because I am scared of it or because it’s not a good idea and it won’t work.

My hope is that it will work. I’m going to try again.

My other hope is that I will be able to write amidst the chaos.

My final hope is that Carol will feel better and that kindness will abound and that the screaming will stop and that there will be flowers and happiness and that I’ll wipe up the cereal before it dries as hard as a rock to the table, chairs and floor.

Here is an assignment:

1. List all the ideas you have right now for books.

2. List all the ideas you’ve set aside. Put asterisks by the ones that maybe you should go back to.

3. List all the reasons why you can’t write today.

4. List all the ways you are going to deal with those reasons and carve out time to create.

5, List five things you are going to do for other people.

6. List all the times many people were screaming at the same time and you didn’t lose your temper and join in with the screaming.

7. Make a concrete writing plan for today: time you’ll write, place you’ll write, ways you’ll deal with distractions (see above), words or ideas you’ll write, what you’ll do when you get stopped in your tracks because of a plot issue or character issue or exhaustion issue, and finally what reward you’ll give yourself (though creating itself is the best reward) when you have made it through your writing session (hello chocolate covered cinnamon bears, or tapioca pudding, or a walk, or a book (what book?), or a swim in the lake).

Love and candy, the end.

That’s all for today!

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It’s Monday Again

Several years ago, after losing several important people in my life, and in my children’s lives, I wrote a book called WAITING. I was filled with sorrow and I had to get the grief out. As I wrote, I wept. No. Not like that girl who cries at her own stuff. I wept for all the people who were gone. I wept because I had lost so much. I awoke crying. This time the sadness is different. The heartbreak is different. And my desire to write is gone.

I have plenty of ideas. Those continue to come to me. But.

I know I’ll write again. I have to. My editor is sending me rewrite notes–probably this week. I have two other books to rewrite. And then there are those ideas I mentioned.

Still, I wonder how I’m going to do this, and do it well.


We’ve talked about a Writing Marathon. At this point I’m not so sure I can write with you all, but I know I can encourage people to write. And I think we should do it the end of the first full week of August. Wednesday-Saturday? The 5th-8th? Four long days.



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Freaky Friday

One of my favorite books when I was younger was Freaky Friday. You know the story– Mary Rodgers wrote about a mom and daughter who change places for a day.

The book is funny and clever. If you haven’t read it, do.

So, here on TUW, we’re gonna try to find something odd, or freaky, or crazy, or fun, or fill-in-the-blank each week. I’m hoping these bits will inspire an incident you can use in your work, or even a whole idea. We’ll try to connect some kind of writing exercise to what we find.

First, something cool I didn’t know–the idea of switching bodies happens in the novel Vice Versa, pubbed in 1882.

And here’s and article on Rodgers. (She died a year ago. Boo.)

A couple of questions to help you along.

1. If you were going to change places with ANY writer, who would it be? And why would you do choose him/her? What do you expect you would learn?

2. To help you understand the motivation of your main character and the antagonist, have them switch places for 1000 words. What do you find out?

3. In Vice Versa, a stone helps with the transformation. In Freaky Friday, the mom makes the switch happen. What bit of magic or science would YOU use if you wrote such a book?

Let us know here.

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Three Thing Thursday


On many occasions I’ve heard that the way to know whether or not you’re a “real” writer is this: “A real writer is always writing.”

I think this is poor criteria. Nearly every writer I know, both published and unpublished, have periods in which they simply can’t write.  Whether it’s a demanding job, or a new baby, or relocation, or just depression, things happen that can’t be controlled.  And if you take those difficult parts of life and add in additional stress of thinking you’re not a ‘real writer’ because you can’t write, and you stand to risk losing the nerve that is necessary to follow a creative lifestyle.

So I propose that we change this motto.  Maybe we could change it to “a real writer is always creating.” I think that even during the worst parts of life a writer is always seeing stories, and recording events in their mind and heart in order to put it on paper someday.

If you’re going through a time when actual writing seems impossible, don’t lose hope.  It doesn’t mean you’re not a real writer. Just focus on getting through the tough parts of life so you can get back to your true passion: writing.


We are all human beings. We all experience stress. Breaks in our “routines.” What if disasters of one type or another keep piling up on us? How do we deal with them? What decisions to we make? Are they good decisions, or bad decisions? How do we deal with the aftermath of each?
Personally, I cry.  A lot, I suppose.  But Saturday was a marathon: I woke very early in the morning thinking about the night my father died — YEARS ago.  I was sobbing by the time I awoke my husband and told him the story of that night for the first time.
We had planned to go over to the club house in our 50’s-plus community that afternoon to see the old movie musical of “The King and I.”  A show that ALWAYS makes me blubber . . . and we’d just seen an excellent live performance of it the last of June.
As we were about to start the film, we found out that the adult son of one of our neighbors had been killed by a speeding motorist, along with the family dog he was walking. To make matters even worse, her husband, a police officer, had been murdered by a criminal some years ago; the son had been living with his mother, helping her, as she is not in very good health.
Why tell you all this?  It was an over-burdened day of crying over reality, fiction, and real life.  We all have moments like this. So MUST our characters. They need to feel as real to the readers as actual experiences feel to us.  They must find ways to deal with deaths, accidents, loss, money problems, or whatever.  How do your MC’s handle these NORMAL life-stress situations.  Do they crumble and weep like I do?  Do they punch holes into the wall?  Or the nearest person?  How realistic are their actions?  How effective?  What would EACH character be most likely to do — in hope, or retaliation, or desperation, or anger, or glee, or hysteria, or  . . . . . ?
Lots of projects ahead for me. But, at this point, I wonder if I can ever write again. No, not writer’s block. I don’t believe in writer’s block. However, I feel as though I’m too worn out to write. Too tired. Too stressed. The ideas are there, but the will to really work, isn’t.
This is why I’m hoping when Ann Dee and I run the upcoming marathon, you all will be able to help me through.


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Other good things to remember:

1. Eat food when writing unless that’s not helpful.

2. Write after the kids go to sleep unless you don’t want to and you are tired and you want to watch TV or read Keturah and Lord Death and think about how beautiful Martine Leavitt is and how smart she is and how you’ll never be as smart or beautiful so why do you even try.

3. Listen to your kids and if you can, take notes. Especially if they call Doritos Dortos and they call the Loch Ness Monster the Lock Nessy Monster and if one of them tells you that there are a million ice cream stores on the earth and you ask them how they know and they say before they were born they looked down on the planet and they saw all the ice cream stores and that’s how they decided to come. Write all that down.

4. Write weird stuff. Surprise yourself.

5. Be happy.

6. Shave your head if you’re depressed.

7. Make yourself keep going even if you think what you’re writing is stupid and that you are stupid and that it’s never going to turn out and it’s all too hard and the other idea is better and that’s what you should do, start a different book because that book won’t get hairy in the middle at all because the next project is always better and always funnier and alway easier than the one you’re supposed to be working but even if that were true, my friends, even if that were so true, you have to keep going. Keep writing. Don’t stop. FINISH. FINISH FINISH FINISH. And then jump into a cold pool. And then get into a sauna. Or is that Iceland?

7. Eat a peach when you’re writing unless it will get juice on your keyboard.

8. Love your parents.

9. Write hard things.

10. Tell someone you love them. Someone who will be surprised you said it but will also know that you mean it. Say it even if it’s scary and maybe they won’t say it back or they’ll feel weird and you’ll feel weird. Say it anyway. And feel it.


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15 Minute Monday

I think I explained a few weeks ago that I only want to spend 15 minutes working on the Monday post. That includes editing myself. I said that, right? Before I even started today I knew what I would write. So this is going to be easier than me looking at blank screen (like last week), sighing, and wondering why I’m a blog writer.

Guess what time of the summer it is? Marathon time!

We haven’t had a writing marathon at all this year, have we? And it was our goal to have one every quarter when we began this blog 100 years ago. So a Summer Writing Marathon. You know how this works. We’ll tell the days. (I don’t know yet.) And the length. (One day? Three days? Five?) You set you goal of words you expect to write. (I always way overshoot. Always.) And then we get together at some point to  eat and read a page from our WIP.

Wanna play?


We’ll let you know all the ins and outs by Friday.


PS– It’s way easier to write when you know what to write. That’s been part of my problem as of late. What can I say here you haven’t already heard? Or how can I say anything in a new way?

So how do you always know what to write when you’re working on a project? I’ve heard a couple of ideas and I’m going to make up a few, too.

1. Stop in the middle of a sentence.

2. Stop in the middle of an exciting scene.

3. Leave yourself so interested you WANT to keep going, but don’t let yourself.

4. Leave yourself a note saying what will happen next (a NOTE. Not the whole scene.)

5. Stop at a cliff hanger.

6. Put your character into a terrible situation.

7. Or a romantic kissy situation.

8. Or put the murder weapon in her hand.

I’m saying the same thing over and over. Keep the book interesting so you want to come back to it!

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Three Things Thursday

Ms Cheryl:

A writer’s “writing space” is a revered, almost legendary idea. I’ve heard one writer say that she had no writing space…as long as she has her laptop, she’s good to go. I know of another that needs a particular chair with a view, a yellow notepad, and a certain brand of tea. One friend needs pictures, toys, and brightly colored walls. Another needs a completely clutter-free desk.
For me, I need my books. I need to see them, to touch them, to remember the end goal in all of this. I need to look at the beautiful cover art. I need every series to be lined up, in order.
On the other hand, I once wrote an entire novel in a journal while sitting in a rocking chair every night for months, trying to teach my daughter to fall asleep in her crib. So I can be flexible.
What about you? What does your workspace look like? What would your dream workspace look like?
Ms Brenda:
Do you believe in Evolution? If you are a writer, you should give that some thought. We keep talking about ARCs:: Character ARCs, Chapter ARCs, Story ARCs. What is that but Evolution?
The character begins in one place (i.e., living under the stairs in his Uncle’s house — an insecure boy not sure of his place in the world, not even sure if he HAS a place in the world). Then he finds out he’s expected to go to school. A wizarding school. Because he’s capable of creating and utilizing magic. That’s some “evolution” over multiple books (and YEARS) in his life.
This boy, like any other boy, will have to change and grow — “evolve” into a good and talented and worthy young man . . . or be caught in the evil web he’s woven by going in the opposite direction.
His story means he will meet new people, learn to adjust to his every-changing (and ever-challenging) environment. Like all of us, his story will include good, bad and ugly people and places. The story begins with him in dire straits and evolves into a story of achievement and beating the odds.
Each book in this seven-tomed mammoth has its own ARC as well. And the eighth ARC is in the total of all the volumes.
Whether you are writing a short story, a novel, or a non-fiction book, whether it is a stand-alone or a part of a series, ALL those ARCs must be thought of, figured out and central to its main characters, it’s place within the (or each) book, and its over-all view within the series if you intend (or your single “story” later) dictates a multi-volume work.
The sooner you figure out each of the individual threads, the more easily you will weave the story into the fabric of the full tale.
Ms Me:
I once gave a speech where I was talking about strong writing. Of course I mentioned to cut all the adverbs and as many adjectives as possible.
A woman in the audience said, “When you’re speaking YOU use adjectives and adverbs.”
Speaking ain’t writing.
If our lives were novels, there would be a LOT of stuff fast-forwarded, thrown away and edited to fit.
We’d be cut down to 300 pages (on the way long side for me!).
All our words wouldn’t be used.
And our thoughts? Ha!
No, when we write, we pick and choose.
Our stories are the best parts of us.

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