Author Archives: CLW

Three Things Thursday

Me: Thoughts and prayers for Rick as he is in surgery right now.



Writing for Charity, last Saturday, had some wonderful events, speakers, workshops, and critiquing sessions. All the proceeds go to help literacy efforts.
For the morning sessions, I was timing so people could get to their next event on time. The first one I heard was from Sharlee Glenn. During her presentation, she gave a “short” history of picture books, then talked about where the picture book is headed now.
What a romp through the past! I LOVED it! Some of my notes:
Orbis Pictus, in 1658 ( ! ! ! ) was the first (an encyclopedia) written and illustrated specifically for children.
It was followed by a sweet little volume entitled A Little Pretty Pocket Book in 1744.
Randolph Caldecott, 1846-1886 (died at only 40 years of age? Sad), was the one for whom the famous Illustrator’s award was named.
Then came the plethora of EARLY books for children — how many have YOU read? How many are still available for purchase?
The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Raggedy Ann, Millions of Cats (LOVED this one!), Mike Mulligan, Madeline, Curious George, Make Way for Ducklings, all the Little Golden Books like Pokey Little Puppy and Saggy, Baggy Elephant, Goodnight Moon, The Cat in the Hat, Are you My Mother?, Where the Wild Things Are, Alexander’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day . . . and so many more.
I recognized every one of those early ones from Beatrix Potter on. And loved them — all over again. Grab the ones you still have and LOOK at the original printing date! We should ALL have such staying power!



Is there a section of your novel that you’re struggling with? Maybe it isn’t working, but you can’t understand why. 

Try this. Without looking at the original, rewrite the scene using only single syllable words.
By doing this, you get rid of the prose–the fancy words, the pretty phrases–and instead you focus on what’s really happening. Sometimes we fall so in love with our words that we lose sight of what’s actually happening in our story. This can help fix that.

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Monday, Monday

Just a moment to write today.

Ann Dee and I finished our novel.

Here’s what I hope–that it sells.

And that we do well with the book.

Because Ann Dee was so much fun to write with.

She knows so much.

She had a baby and is moving and still finished this project with me.

So I want to be able to write with her again and again.



Find someone to write with.

Someone who isn’t a control freak or doesn’t expect perfection right away or who doesn’t have to have everything his way.

Make a plan.

Meet at McDonald’s and go in the play area and take turns writing or never meet and write chapter by chapter a book you have no idea anything about.

Follow the lead of your partner.

Have her follow your lead.

Hansel and Gretal it to the end.


As you write, you’ll both be dropping hints that the other has to figure out.

Just like you do when you write anything on your own.


Have fun.



Try a genre you wouldn’t normally write.

Don’t stress.


Love it.

Trust each other.


Let me know how it goes.


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Freaky Friday

I love that book, Freaky Friday. I’ve loved it every time I’ve read it.

Anyway–Five Character Writing Exercises for next week. One for each work day.


1. I have some odd behaviors. If people knew them, they’d be like, “Why do you do that?” Truth is, I’m not sure. I think some of the things I do are carried over from my childhood as they happen as I get ready to go to sleep. What are three odd behaviors your character has? Ones they want to keep secret. In fact, what are three odd behaviors for ALL your characters? And it’s okay to not know why, but you’ll learn more about these people if you DO.

2. Interview several strangers. Have questions to ask them. Things like, “If you could change one thing about an event in your life, what would it be?” Not just, “What’s your favorite color?” Watch how they react as they talk. As you talk. What are their expressions? Nervous habits? Tics? What’s charming about them? Frightening?

3. If you’re not used to it, ride the bus for a few hours–preferably when you’re not alone. Write a quick 50 words (or less) description about each person who comes on the bus. Or sit in a restaurant, right in the middle, so you can see who’s there. Think outside the box for each person. No stereotypes. Find the odd and the pleasant about each individual.

4. Your character keeps two journals. One is for normal use. The one that can be found. Can be read by others. The other is secrets your character may be trying to even keep from herself. Write several entries for both. Think of everything when you do this–Like, does she use two different pens? Burn incense when she writes in one log and not the other? Does she go somewhere else to write? Where does she hide the books?

5. And now a Freaky Friday question–if your character did change lives with someone–who might they choose to change lives with? Why? What if YOU made them change lives with someone? Then who would it be? Why? Write out a couple of days in that new life.


PS–Oh! I just came up with an idea for a new book writing these suggestions. It’s scary. Cool!

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Three Things Thursday


Sometimes we put our character in a situation when they really need a complication.

A situation is self-contained, and there’s only one way out.  A complication opens up to more possibilities.

Think about Pixar’s The Incredibles. We start out with Mr. Incredible trying to get to his wedding on time. Interesting situation, sure, but just a situation. Either he’ll get there or he won’t.

Then there’s a complication: a suicidal jumper. Mr. Incredible saves the man, but encounters a new complication—a  burglary in progress.  As he deals with that, another complication arises when a young fan interferes.

Through the complications, Mr. Incredible is repeatedly forced to act. His desires come to light. The stakes are raised the later it gets. The plot thickens when his young fan grows to resent him. The situation might be the important part of the plot, but it is the complications that give our character depth and set the story in motion.

Take a look at the outline of your novel. Are there situations where there could be complications?



The League of Utah Writers, another writer’s group I’ve been a member of for decades, had their spring workshop yesterday at the Larry H. Miller complex. Margot Hovley was among the many speakers/presenters who conducted sessions on a wide variety of writerly subjects . . . and a hearty thanks to all who served!
Margot’s presentation was on POV — reminders of “rules” I was much in need of reviewing. When she began talking about 2nd person — the “you” factor — she asked if anyone had ever read a book written in that voice. No hands were raised, but I found myself thinking back to my high school years: I wrote what turned out to be an award-winning essay . . . in 2nd person. It was called “Basement” and began “You’re thinking you can’t do it again. You hate that basement with it’s dust and dirt, it’s cobwebs . . .” But I’d been asked by my grandmother to go down there (again!) and bring up a bottle of something or other from the fruitroom. It was one of those funny, but creepy, pieces about chores young people hate performing, and followed me down into the darksome basement, into the lighted (thank you!) fruit room and back again.
It was fun to write, and my mother made me read it to the family when it won a prize. But, oh, my grandmother! She was mortified! “Our basement isn’t that dirty!” I don’t think she bought my excuse of “poetic license.”
So here’s my question for you, dear readers: Do you know of any books written in 2nd person? Margot mentioned ONE title in passing, but I couldn’t hear what the title was. Later, recalling how much fun it was to write (at least a SHORT piece) this way, I thought it would be interesting to fool around with it on something longer, but I’d love to read an example. Titles? Any one? ANYONE?
Stacked up on my desk–a book to finish reading, two books to edit, one more to almost edit, and today–day two of writing my new book.
I’m excited about this new novel. Set in 1969, I’ve decided it takes place in a month–right in that span of time of the moon landing, the Sharon Tate murders and Woodstock. While none of those will be significant to my 10 your old character (except the moon walk [!!!!]), I have to say that I am THRILLED with this new idea.

As this is the start of the weekend for me, I’ve lots planned. And number one (not including family) is writing.

Want to join me for a mini write-a-thon?
Let me know. I’d like 5,000 words on this new piece by Saturday evening.


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Kyra Leigh, Queen Bee

Today my lovely boyfriend left for Florida. We have been dating on and off again for over two years now. We’ve never been in a solid relationship until this last few months because he’s stubborn and I’m stubborn and he travels a lot and I’m a wimpy cat. But these last four or so months have been amazing. It’s funny to watch someone grow and change and to watch yourself grow and change, too. And all in good ways. With the last guy I was seeing I found myself changing a lot. Mostly for the better but a lot for the worse as well.

But those hard times and those bad changes I think helped me realize who I am and what I want. My previous boy never believed in me. I would read him my writing and he wold fall asleep, or want to watch tv, or whatever. I know I wasn’t the best writer back then, but it would have been nice to have been supported, even a little bit. He never believed I could get an agent and thought I would never publish. {one down, one to go!}

Whether I end up with this current guy, or meet someone new, I feel like he’s always believed in me. It means a lot. And it’s helped me a lot with my writing. It’s helped me with my goals and it’s helped me believe in myself.

It’s been a hard couple of weeks. But I’m excited to see what this summer holds. Hopefully lots of travel, new friendships, and amazing writing.

I can’t wait. Even with a bruised heart I really can’t wait.

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The Sweat Tears are Made of

Last night I dreamed I was in a camp of poets.

We made bread. And washed a lot of cutting boards. In fact, I only remember washing the cutting boards and seeing the finished loaves.

There was a head poet, bread maker, cutting board washer. She had long blonde hair and had really lived life.

I could tell by looking at her.

There were bubbles in these huge sinks, but only a few, because poets are more natural than I am and don’t use half a bottle of Dawn per sink load.

Also there were these handmade bars of washing soap.

I now remember there was no butter. (What?! All that bread! No butter!)

Anyway, there were wooden tables and the room was massive and then, at one point, I whispered, “This is the sweat tears are made of.”

I woke up right then, and still feeling poetic, I thought, “Wow.”

Now I’m fully awake I still feel the same way.


Life and dreams gives you amazing things to work with if you are a writer, a bread maker, a cutting board washer.

A poet.

Especially a poet.

Some of life makes you weep. Like yesterday. I cried so much yesterday, my eyes are swollen today.

Sometimes life gives you a Pulitzer Prize line that comes in a dream.

Knowing what’s best to use in your writing, that’s the key.

For example, I used to dream about aliens  covered in hair, who snapped whips to find me, because they were blind. They lived in the bed of a semi.

Once I dreamed I cut open a watermelon and my aunt’s head was in it.

I’ve dreamed plenty of times I’m in an elevator that has no walls that tips to the side after I get on it.

Of all those dreams, I’ve only used one in a book.

As writers we get to pick and choose what’s best for our novels. Every word, every detail, every bit of dialog must move our stories forward.

No wasted words. Cut cut cut.

The sweat that tears are made of means we need to sweat over what we write. Cry over it.
Think it’s crap. See beauty in it. Go get real butter, maybe Amish butter, for the bread of life called our books. Because the sweat could be the words and so could the tears.

No guessing around.

No wondering.

What we write needs to make sense by the end.

Let the sweat and tears pay off.

That’s what a writer does, man.





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Three Things Thursday

Every week, Thursday just keeps happening.


Am I the last person in the world to discover Garth Nix’s books?  Picked one up accidentally at a library a couple of years ago, but got busy; it was due — turned it back in without reading more than few pages.  Recently, I happened to see something about another of his book series: The Keys to the Kingdom.  Didn’t click with me because the other was part of an earlier series.  Didn’t even remember it until I saw the title of the first one while looking in the SLCounty Library’s system.  (WHO has 9 or 10 PAGES listed in the SLC system ? ? ?)  I dashed over to my local library and they happened to have the first of the “Keys” series: Mister Monday.  What caught my attention was the tie-in to days of the week, as I’d earlier planned a kids’ book with a similar tie-in to the week’s days.  I checked out three of his books, all from different series, and began reading Mister Monday.
Remember the claim that we shouldn’t write Prologues because editors/publishers don’t like them?  Well, his is 13 PAGES long!  And utterly fascinating.
Turn the page to chapter one and you leave the futuristic and fantasmagorical world he presents in his LONG “Prologue,” the mystery he’s brought up, the funny and antiquated character we’ve just met and all the spit-polish and mechanical beings . . . only to join an asthmatic 7th grade boy, Arthur Penhaligon (Arthur WHO? and is that name derivative . . . well, of course!), having to go through his first day of school in a brand-new town.
WAIT!  What happened to the funny little man, the mechanical beings, the magical words which disappeared mysteriously on their own, etc., etc., etc. ? ? ?  Of course, now I’m ALSO caring about this poor kid who’s having a miserable first day at school, a second hospitalizing asthma attack and is just barely saved by a mysterious . . .
Well, you get the idea.
Leave out the Prologue?  I don’t think so!  Besides, we may see that funny little man again when the boy finds the mysterious House . . .
Rules?  If you can make it WORK — GO FOR IT!
The beginning. The start of a new novel. Oh, gosh, I’m at that door. Again.
Is everything in place?
I think I have the first line(s). Not sure it’ll stay, but this came night before last.
“I’ve died four times (almost) and here I am on the tail end of twelve years old. At this rate, I won’t live to see nineteen.”
I have a bit more:
So far I know how I want the book set up.
I know what this character’s Daddy does for a living.
Not so sure about Mom.
Siblings? Maybe.
What she wants? Yup, got that.
But–I aint got no other ideas.
So now begins the long haul of exploration, deciding, listening in on private conversations, wondering, thinking, gazing into space. And then begins the complaining and worrying and . . . you know, attacking the middle.
The beginning. The start of a new novel. Oh, gosh, I’m at that door. Again.
That sexy beginning where anything can happen.
I love this place.
How do YOUR ideas come about?

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