Planning Ahead. Me?

That’s right.

NaNoWriMo this year will find me doing something I’ve never done before. Planning ahead. What have I ever planned ahead? Even my daughters came earlier than their due dates.

We have a week before glorious November is here. So much going on in that month. My Nana’s birthday. My great-grandmother’s birthday. My momma’s birthday. Thanksgiving. Eating. ONE WEEK OFF SCHOOL!


This November we have a lot planned and our WIFYR Newsletter tells you some of those things. Here are a few excerpts.

“First, Carol Lynch Williams will be hosting a NaNo Write In on November 2, 9, 16, 30 (these are all Wednesdays) from 7-9 pm. For more information on this event and more, check out Carol’s website: http://www. workshops.

Second, WIFYR is hosting a reward party! Our group goal is 400,000 words OR, if you’re in the middle of a masterpiece, a second group is editing 2000 pages (8 pages a day per person). All who meet their goals are invited to come to the reward party. Whether your goal is 20,000 words or the full 50,000, or you’re editing 8 pages a day or 15, this month is a good time to reach your goals. Click here to join the group or email us at

Third, the Byron Ghost Story Challenge! One hundred and ninety eight years ago, on a rainy night in Switzerland, Lord Byron challenged Percy and Mary Shelley to a ghost story writing contest. Thanks to that chilling night,  Frankenstein and Manfred were born. WIFYR extends the same challenge to YOU. Come to BYU on October 27th at 7:00 in 4068 JFSB and we will write scary stories together. Who knows? Maybe you’ll come up with a great idea for NaNoWriMo. Or maybe you’ll come up with the next Frankenstein!”

Now for me. This year my goal is to finish the two novels I’ve been thinking about since this summer. One is a YA murder mystery. (Someone dies!) I have about 1,000 words written on it AND a full outline in my head. The 2nd is a mid-grade novel. I have about 8,000 words on it and had NO idea where I am headed. Then I had a breakthrough and so HA! maybe I know what to do for it.


Over the next week I plan to plan.

And I’ll take you on that planning adventure.

So let’s go, Everyone. We have books to write.


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Three Thing Thursday on Friday

#1 From Me

Hey, Everyone!

Tonight I have a book signing at The King’s English bookstore in SLC. I’d love to see you there. I’m reading from my novel MESSENGER which was pubbed on the 18th of this month! The gig as at 7:00. And for once, I’m bringing treats! (I am not a treat maker. My cute daughter is going to do this for me.)

#2 From Caitlin Shirts

So NaNoWriMo is right around the corner and WIFYR is playing along. Here’s some of that info, from our WIFYR newsletter: WIFYR will be hosting a reward party! Our group goal is 400,000 words OR, if you’re in the middle of a masterpiece, a second group is editing 2000 pages (8 pages a day per person). All who meet their goals are invited to come to the reward party. Whether your goal is 20,000 words or the full 50,000, or you’re editing 8 pages a day or 15, this month is a good time to reach your goalsClick here to join the group or email us at

Here are two hints from Caitlin Shirts that helped her succeed in playing the NaNo game.

Prepare for NaNoWriMo

To avoid spending all November staring at a blank screen, I prepare with these two exercises in October.

1. Make an outline.

My NaNoWriMo outline has two purposes. First, it keeps the flow going. If I get writer’s block on Scene 2, I can skip to Scene 3 without losing my word count for the day. Second, it helps me write with more focus. NaNoWriMo drafts tend to have long meandering sections that are destined to be cut in the next draft. If I know where my character is at the beginning of a scene and I can write straight to where that character needs to be at the end, less is wasted.

A detailed 25-page outline gives you a sneaky head start on your word count, but anything that gives you direction will work. Last year, my outline was a bunch of Post-It notes, each with an event in the story, arranged in roughly the order I wanted those events to happen.

2. Set a personal backup goal.

Last year, I wrote 55,000 words during NaNoWriMo. To be honest, the main reason I surpassed the goal was not that I started with an outline. The main reason was that I have no children. Whatever your responsibilities, 50,000 words is hard. If you hit November 15 and realize there is no human way to get to 50,000 words, it’s easy to give up. A personal backup goal gives me a reason to keep going. Set your goal to support the reason you chose to participate in NaNoWriMo. If you want to get in the habit of writing daily, set a personal goal to write 200 words a day without missing a day. No matter how busy you get, 200 words is not overwhelming, and at least you’ll open the manuscript. If you want to experience the social support of NaNoWriMo, but you know you’ll be too busy to write during Thanksgiving weekend, give yourself a pro-rated word count as your personal goal. A backup goal could be to write more words than your sister, or to reach a certain part of your plot, or to promise that if you fail to reach 50,000 words, you’ll throw yourself a PersonalNoWriMo in February when your life is less hectic.

Also, remember: Nobody cares if you cheat a little, as long as you get out of NaNoWriMo what you want to get out of it.

#3 From Cheryl Van Eck

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Writing an entire book

My next goal is to write an entire book.

I’ve done it before.

I’m not sure I can do it again.

I can start books.

Many many books.

I can make myself laugh and have a good time.

Then I stop writing and I sit on the floor and people climb on me and I don’t write again for awhile.

Then I start another book.

How do you decide which book is the book? Which idea is the idea? This is an article that tells you how to do it.

Will you do it? Do you write as fast as you can all the way to the end? Or do you stop after page 40 and say: this is crap.

Or: I’ve already written this before.

Or: This is boring.

Or: I don’t know what to write next.

Or: What is this even about.

Or: I should be making dinner.

Or: I have a better idea that will make me happier.

Here is another article about how to finish a book.

I especially like how they say you don’t HAVE to write every day but it helps and that you can’t use kids or a job or netflix as an excuse. It’s not a race. Chip away at it slowly.

I’ve been reading books my kids love and I’ve noticed that their very favorite ones aren’t complicated, don’t necessarily involve new worlds or surprising plots. The ones they love are simple, heartbreaking, real, funny and are about real life.

Write your real life.

Write your character’s real life.

Also, go to Carol’s book launch to read her book Messenger which is about real life and ghosts.

Love you Carol and love all you writers. Hope you finish a book, if not soon, sometime.




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Monday, Dreary Monday

Rick’s funeral was on Saturday.

My friend Rick.

For some time I’ve wondered how I’ll get along without him. Rick of the last 18 months was so sick. It’s selfish for me to want him back. Still.

When I cam home from the funeral, there was a package waiting for me from my publishing house.

One of my daughters wanted to open it, so I let her.

And inside was a letter from the Junior Library Guild saying MESSENGER ‘has been awarded the designation, “A Junior Library Guild Selection” for our fall 2016 span.’ They sent along a lapel pin and a certificate, too.

A lapel pin!

I thought, “Rick. Rick, did you have something to do with this arriving today?”

He and I told each other when we sold books. Sort of casually.

“Oh, I sold a book to Candlewick,” he’d say again. And again. And again.

“Of course,” I’d say. “I’m so proud you.” I’d cheer and tell him he was a genius.

He knew he was a genius. But he loved for me to cheer for him and tell him how wonderful he was. I loved that job. Telling him that I loved him and that he was wonderful.

Ha! Good ol’ Rick.

He was so prolific that he had an average of four books a year all the while we knew each other.

I was going to say this at the funeral but forgot.

Once, early in our friendship, Rick called me and said, “Hey, a bunch of people wanted to see my office. You wanna join everyone?”

Are you kidding? “Sure,” I said. I couldn’t wait for the tour.

All these years later, I remember walking around Rick’s home office. There were piles of books and bookshelves of books and a desk and pens and papers and lists. I thought, “This office looks like my office. There’s nothing that amazing here.”

Years later I realized it was Rick the Genius who made that office rock. He would have written all those books, and published them, had he had to write in a car (he did), at a school (he did), in  writers group (he did), at church (he did), on a walk (he did) on a drive (he did), in the middle of a sentence talking to someone (he did)–you get the picture.

Rick was what was amazing in that office.

He didn’t get to see my latest novel MESSENGER. But I choose to believe Rick will watch over my career now. That will make it easier to go through the days because I will miss him.

I will miss him.


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Hello all,

Halloween is coming soon and last night a friend of mine told me that when she wants to destress, she listens to horror on audible. She loves Stephen King, of course, but has branched out. “It just helps me unwind,” she said.


Blood, guts and killer cars?

What do you think? I must admit I have not read very many horror novels. My mom loved them. Her very favorite movies were The Shining and Silence of the Lambs. In an effort to read more widely, I thought it might be fun to take on a few books for this October season. If you have any recommendations, I’m open.

Also, in the spirit of the season, how about some horror prompts? I dare you to try one or two or three of these. And if you feel like posting them, I would be so so very happy. I’d love to see what you come up with. I’m going to try a few myself.

Happy almost Halloween Month

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The Movies: From Carol

This past summer, when I’ve been able to, I’ve gone garage saling. Yup, I love a deal. Garage sales are a great place to do Christmas shopping, FYI.
One thing I’ve bought are books written for adults, including a novel that was recently made into a movie.
So. I read it.
The story is told from several POV’s, including two teens.
What kinda blew my mind is that all the people–men, women, teens, they all sounded the same.
And the other thing? The book was soooo corny.
I actually closed my eyes and thought, No way, at the end.
I thought “This is so dumb.”
I tried to figure out why this was a hit. Why it was made into a movie. And I couldn’t.
This isn’t the first time I’ve read popular adult books and cringed the whole time.
Many times, writers of children’s work are not taken seriously.
Not at the university level.
Not by general readers.
Not by some writers who write for adults and decide to cross-over and write for teens because that’s ‘easier.’
So keep writing.
Write truth.
Real feelings.
Fun plots.
Let’s keep teaching kids, now, what great story is.

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Hey, Everyone!
Ann Dee and I are barreling toward the end of this newest revision. I feel so lucky to get to write with someone who is so funny and so talented.
Two FYI’s–
#1 I’m holding at writing class–a month long–starting in a couple weeks. We’ll talk voice, structure, language and a few other things (like ethics in writing, beginnings and even . . . plot!). We’ll do critique, you’ll have homework (but not too much!) and we’ll end our session with a Q&A with a NY agent or editor.
If you are interested in this intimate, hands-on learning, email me for dates, times and pricing.
#2 For November (NaNoWriMo): I thought it might be cool to do a weekly writing event here at my home. Doesn’t that sound like fun? We’ll get together for a few hours of writing, one night a week. We’ll do potluck, start with a writing exercise to get us going and then just write. This event is free and limited to 15 people (on a first come/first served basis).
Please email me for more information on both events.

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