Author Archives: CLW

Monday. Monday!

Today summer starts for me! Yes! I know! It’s spring.

There are tulips in my yard.

And bluebells.

And tons of cottonwood cotton.

But summer starts for me because tomorrow is my last day of school until fall (maybe even longer).


So I will write even harder in my Writing Like a Writer campaign.


I heard news on Friday that both my editors want happy novels from me.







I’m not happy.

My novels are rarely happy.

Every once in a while a happy book sneaks through (Signed, Skye Harper–released next month) but anyone who has read my books knows.

:( :( :(


At first I balked.

I was scared. Still am.

Then I wondered–if I’m writing like a writer, can’t I write my dark, depressed, horrible life novels AND happier things, too?


Well, that’s a good question. I don’t know.

But I know I can try.

So that’s what I’m going to do.


What does Writing Like a Writer mean to you?

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Filed under CLW, Depression, Editors, writing process

Good Friday with Debbie Nance

Good Friday – by Debbie Nance

I was trying to think of four good things to write about today.

#1.  Day 26 of Chemo Treatment and I still have hair.

#2.  Red tulips are growing outside my bedroom window.

#3.  A good quote to share: “There are all kinds of readers in the world, with all kinds of tastes; it takes all kinds of writers to please them.” - Lee Wyndham, WRITING FOR CHILDREN & TEENAGERS

#4.  This Sunday is Easter and because of the event that day commemorates, EVERYTHING will be okay.

I hope you all have a lovely day with your family!

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Filed under Uncategorized

Three Things Thursday

From Cheryl Van Eck

Today I want to discuss censorship.

This is difficult for me, because I am religious and there are many books I choose not to read based solely on content, regardless of literary merit.

However, the point is that I choose not to read them. I make the decision to censor myself. I don’t ask (nor do I want) anyone else to decide for me.

The topics, words, and scenes that typically get a book banned do not, unfortunately, exist only within the pages of that book. They exist in reality, even in a teenager’s reality. To take away those books is to take away tools that can help them to form their moral universe. I learned more from characters who did everything wrong than from characters who did everything right.

I don’t believe the government, the schools, or any other group should have a say in what children or adults are allowed to read.

I don’t believe in banning books.


From Brenda Bensch
Saw a tiny, adorable, little girl at the grocery store this a.m. with her harried mom.  She was too little to reach almost anything in the store . . . until she got to the sunglasses display . . . which went ALL THE WAY DOWN to the floor. She was trying them all on. But, of course. Then Mom made her put them back. Well, with help . . . those racks are tricky! 15 or 20 minutes later, the little girl ran behind me in the checkout line, reached up on tippy-toes as far as she could, and shoved 3 small packaged toys onto the conveyer with my purchases. And she was wearing . . . you guessed it . . . sunglasses. A little red pair. Mom was nowhere in sight. But, soon, I heard her calling the little girl’s name. She ran to mom, who began to walk away from the checkout line, admonishing the child to go return the sunglasses. Again.
“Wait!” I said. “She has 3 toys here too,” and I handed Mom the toys. She just shook her head and walked away.
Write a scene: Are you, or your MC, the observer, as I was? Are you/MC annoyed? Or laughing, like I was?
Are you/MC the checker who recognizes the girl? Are you annoyed, laughing, or just trying to check out the lady at the counter who packed too much stuff into the cart and now has two more customers waiting?
Are you/MC the harried mom? Are you angry, loving, fatigued, too busy to take note of everything at once?
Are you/MC an adorable 3-year-old, feeling her oats? Are you disappointed the checker lady didn’t give you the toys back? After all, you put them up on the counter like Mommy always does. Then she gets to keep all that fun and yummy stuff!
And if you’re writing fantasy, sci-fi, western, romance or whatever, which things can you change up to make the basic idea still work in YOUR genre?  That’ll stretch your imagination!
From Carol
In my spam today was this lovely message: Men–stop the dribble.
I don’t even want to think of it.
But I have to.
Is this a message to basketball players?
People who put too much liquid in their mouths?
Could this be a warning to hockey players?
Is it about the weather, with dribbling rain?
Oh, our beautiful language. And oh, what we get to do with it.
I hope each time you write, you choose your words wisely.
I hope each time you write, you make things sound new–different.
I hope each time you write you create a world-even in contemporary writing-that sings with beauty because you have constructed the sentences.
Last night I spoke at the Orem Public Library about Writing Like a Writer.
My goal, as you all know.


Filed under CLW, Exercises, Life, Revision, three thing thursday, Uncategorized, Voice, writing process

Guest Post–The Amazing Ilima Todd!

First Person Present Tense in YA Fiction

Writing a story from a first-person point of view has been popular in young adult fiction for a while, and understandably so. When you can experience what the character does without any degree of separation, there is an immediate connect to what happens to him/her, making it easier to feel invested in the story. The emotion factor jumps up a level, and the stakes feel that much stronger.

One of the big challenges in writing first person is the blinder the narrator must wear. Every description is filtered through one set of eyes or ears, and you can’t jump heads. It can be a fun problem to have, though. The narrator confides things in the reader he/she wouldn’t with other characters. It also makes the voice fun to play with, and you really get to know the character you’re writing.

Also with first person, info dumps become painfully obvious, and it’s easy to end up ‘telling’ too much or overdoing internal monologues. When a person walks into a room, they don’t usually start describing the finish on the table or the whirring sound of a ceiling fan, so having your character do it can feel jarring if not done naturally. Despite the challenges, I love to read and write in first person for that accessibility factor.

I’ve also noticed a recent trend toward present tense in YA fiction. Why present tense? Again, it brings immediacy to the story. You experience events as the character does, and the tension level rises. It can be quite stressful for the reader, but exciting too. In stories with high stakes, you might not even know if that character will make it, a powerful tool to maintain urgency and a need to know what happens next, keeping those pages turning well into the night.

I wrote three books before I tried first person present with my fourth novel and haven’t looked back. In fact, I’ve thought of story ideas I know won’t work with FPPT and pushed them to the side, not wanting to give up my favorite POV.

How about you? Do you like to write/read in first person present tense? What is your favorite point of view to write in?


are just a few examples of first person present in popular YA fiction, pulled right off my bookshelf. As you can see, it works for a variety of genres:


A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Across the Universe by Beth Revis

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

Matched by Ally Condie

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

The Forest of Hands and Feet by Carrie Ryan

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins


Ilima Todd was born and raised on the north shore of Oahu and dives for octopus with her dad every time she visits—otherwise she’s diving into books in the Rocky Mountains where she lives with her husband and four children. She graduated from BYU with a degree in physics and eats copious amounts of raw fish and avocados without regret. But mostly she loves being a wife and mama and wouldn’t trade that job for anything in the world. Her first book, REMAKE, will be published this summer!


Filed under Point of View, Voice, writing process