Author Archives: CLW

15-Minute Monday

There’s a skunk that lives near my house. This Pepe wanders around close enough (do the have to be close?) to wake me EVERY SINGLE NIGHT.

(Oh! I forgot to tell everyone I had a dream about the Property Brothers from HGTV the other night. Yes! The skunk woke me from that dream, too.)

Here is my normal night:

Go to sleep. Fall asleep quickly.

Have nightmare.

Wake up.



Fall asleep.

Toss and turn. Fitful dreams.

Wake up.


Go to the potty.

Look at the clock. 12:25.

Shake and repeat.

Almost all night long.

So when I get close to having a pleasant bit of dreamy time–Property Brothers Dreamy Time–and skunk arrives . . . .

Well, I think murderous thoughts. And you can see they’re justified.

This is EXACTLY like our characters. They need to do what they really would do. And they need to be groomed for it in the writing of our novels. If one MC would never jump out of a plane, but must by the end of the book, then you need her to be getting ready for it. If one character has a social anxiety and would never speak up, but must by the end of the novel, then you need them to be taking the baby steps that will get them to this change. If one lady wouldn’t normally think of bagging a wild animal and throwing that very animal next to her worse enemy’s house, then I better get a bag, a protective suit and nose plugs.

There’s hardly anything worse (in reading) (not including a stinking skunk) than getting to the end of a book and saying, “That character would have never done that. Ever.” This means the writer hasn’t done her work. There was no character growth. At least not in the right direction.

And you don’t want to be that writer, do you?


Didn’t think so.



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Freaky Friday

Best thing I’ve read all day.

Yes, it is a little after 6 am, but I doubt anything will top this today.–utterly-crap–mobile-home-on-ebay-after-husband-s-drunken-buying-spree-004514558.html


Too bad the Yahoo! ‘reporter’ doesn’t write as well as the lady selling the camper.

Believe it or not, Ann Dee and I have a camper in our book.

Now all we need is the woman who put this on eBay!


Does this help you to be more creative?


Can you picture a mom in a mid grade who acts like this?

A kid?

A dad?

Oh, man, I can!

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Three Thing Thursday

I signed up, months ago, to receive information from The Authors Publish Magazine on line. I don’t think there was any cost to signing up, but I’ve been on their site for a fairly long time. They send out a lot of updates on which publishers are looking for what kinds of materials, and occasional other writing goodies. This week they offered a free pdf down-load for a book they’re calling The Authors Publish Compendium of Writing Prompts.  I’ve already got my copy. It’s 148 pages with various sections: Regular Prompts, Classic Prompts, Prompts for Novelists, and Prompts for Groups — with each of the larger groups having a further break-down of topics. The only thing they wanted back was some information on errors, perceived problems in the book, suggestions of ways to improve the offering, etc., so they can revise and then offer it to the general public again.
For Carol (or any other teachers of writing) this might be a help when you’re looking for something new and fun
and QUICK to do with your writing classes.
And, for the rest of us, we can always use something to jolt us with a few new ideas — check it out and see if they still need some feedback!  The more the merrier, I say!


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Three Things Thursday

Brenda Bensch

Hip, Hip, Hooray ! ! ! My 2016 WRITER’S MARKET DELUXE EDITION just arrived.
OK. Well, it was here when we picked up our newspaper this a.m. It must have come while we were out last night seeing an absolutely hilarious version of Hairspray at a small, LIVE theater in Ogden: The Ziegfeld. For such a TINY stage (it’s an old movie theater) and GOOD, but recorded, music — you should SEE what they do with what they’ve GOT! ALWAYS fantastic dancing, singing, staging, costumes, etc. And the professional credits of many of the performers is astounding: people who’ve performed at various colleges like the U of U, Weber, BYU, etc.; others in small professional theaters, many from Utah’s Hale Theaters, Wasatch Theatre, Utah Rep. They’ve also appeared in various elementary, junior high, high school productions. We’ve seen some who were even CURRENT students in junior high and elementary schools.
Others have done commercial work, or have been on television. Many have college degrees and/or MFA’s. Some have been on stages in NY, LA, San Francisco, Dallas, St. Louis, or have even performed at the Kennedy Center and/or the White House.
Why am I telling a bunch of writers this? You want to learn to write dialogue? Listen to what works in a well-rehearsed play where every word counts and must add to the story portrayed. Look at the length of time it takes to get from one place to another on even a small stage — do you have things happening too closely together, taking more time than is realistic? Note body positions as actors interact with each other, romantically, or physically fighting, or walking, running, skipping, dancing from one place to another. What is PHYSICALLY not possible that you’ve written into a scene? Go to a well-produced play or musical. There’s a lot to learn.


Cheryl Van Eck

I’ve been thinking that I need to start journaling again.
It’s one of those things that I love when I do it, but I have trouble getting back into the habit once it’s broken.

I think the reason I like it so much is that I have a terrible memory. Everything in my past either turns rosy or black…for instance, I can’t remember a single good thing about middle school, but I also can’t remember a single bad thing about my first year of college. I know my life was somewhat balanced at both times, but without journals I can’t remember any of it.

When I do go back and look at old journals, I find it incredible how much I’ve changed. I still feel like I’m 16 sometimes…until I look at what I was actually like at 16. I mean, really, did I ever think about anything besides boys?? I feel like I could have cured cancer by now if I’d redistributed just half of my brain power.
Anyway, now that I’m writing YA, those journals are invaluable. My teenage logic, hopes, dreams, and actions can create valuable insights to my characters.
Do you journal? Why or why not?


Kyra Leigh!

Things are changing and I’m back to this blog.

I have been working my ass of to just stay above water, but I think I have finally found my groove. I’m cooking again, I’m working out, and most importantly . . . I’m back to writing.
I’ve also been reading a lot

This is just a quick note to let the few followers we have know I’ve got a plan. A grasp on my blog posts and on writing.

I just gotta get it done.
Let’s write!


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15 Minute Monday

And the time starts now!

Summer’s nearly over. Can you believe it? I love the summer. Love that it feels more carefree. That I don’t have to worry about driving through snow and ice. That I’m not freezing when I pump gas. To me, summer feels like the very shortest season.

I know. It’s not gone yet. But–it’s on its way out, dang it!

Summer means so much to me, I write about it a lot.


Once, a million years ago, when I was in Rick Walton’s writer’s group, I brought the beginning of my fourth national novel to see what the other writers thought about voice and the direction I was headed.

This book was a little different.

It wasn’t set in Florida!

But it was about two sisters (the older was the main character).

And it was set in the summer. In fact, it began on the last day of school.

“Wow,” someone said (yes I remember who). “No big surprise here. You’re writing about two sisters. In the summer.”

“Uh,” I said. “But it’s in Utah.”

She turned away, her point made.

I always write about the same thing.

It felt like I had done something wrong.


That night I went home. Bothered. Worried. Did this matter, this same thing I always wrote?

So I changed a thing or two. The biggest thing? I had the younger sister tell the story.

Ha ha!

The truth is, I write about what I am most comfortable with.

I am a sister.

I am a daughter.

I still have daughters.

I still love summer.

Those things are all part of my little, black heart.


Where are the places you find yourself over and over?

Is this bad?

Or is it good?

Do you want to change?

Should you?

Why do you choose these themes or events or people, even, again and again?

What do you think?

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Filed under CLW, Exercises, Family, Life, writing process

Freaky Friday

An Assortment of Topics


A writing challenge– There’s a Nudist Camp in CA that’s been accused of stealing water.

I don’t know about you, but I can see (no pun intended), all kinds of ways one could write a story with this idea in mind.

So why not?

Write a 500 word opening of a mid grade or YA novel. We’d love to see what you come up with.


Just finished Fiona Wood‘s YA called Six Impossible Things. LOVED it. I actually laughed out loud several times. That’s hard to do with me. What’s the best YA or MG you’ve read this summer–not including the one you’re working on? And that should becoming the best. FYI–I participated with Fiona and Marie Marquardt (Dream Things True–haven’t read it yet. Hope to soon.) yesterday on a panel for SLJ. We spoke about romance in YA. Those women are smart.


Ooops, be careful PW Daily. Can’t be good to spell Newbery wrong!
“Newberry Medalist Katherine Applegate’s new novel ‘Crenshaw’ features a fifth grader whose  . . . .”


School starts soon. I’ve got till the 31 to do whatever I want (as long as I do it here at home). I’m going to organize and write and clean and hang out with my girls. What would you do? Really. I want some ideas.







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Three Things Thursday


Thank you for all who came by the wedding last night. I lost my best earrings. Worth a couple grand.

Please pray I find them.



Writing prompt: Write about the worst hour of your life. 

The catch? You can’t use any words that aren’t concrete. Think along the lines of: angry, hurt, sad, joyful, silly, death, sick, etc.
Instead, focus on: linoleum, soup, birds, window, music, coffee, perfume, clock, wood, rubbing alcohol.
If you can’t see, hear, smell, taste, or touch it, you can’t use it.
What happens to your writing? Are you still able to get your point across?
Think Happy Thoughts (and a few women’s quotes to help you get there) !
“Happiness is good health and a bad memory.” ~ Ingrid Bergman
“To have meaningful work is a tremendous happiness.” ~ Rita May Brown
“The Greeks said grandly in their tragic phrase, ‘Let no one be called happy till his death’; to which I  would add,
    ‘Let no one till his death, be called unhappy.” ~ Elizabeth Barrett Browning
“Our happiness in this world depends upon the affections we are enabled to inspire.” ~ Duchesse de Praslin
“Instant gratification takes too long.” ~ Carrie Fisher
“I wouldn’t be satisfied with a life lived solely on the barricades. I reserve my right to be frivolous.” ~  Betty     Friedan
“To attain happiness in another world we need only to believe something, while to secure it in this world  we     must needs do something.” ~ Charlotte Perkins Gilman
“To love what you do and feel that it matters—how could anything be more fun? ~ Katherine Graham
“Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before  you     depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you  while I may,     for it may not always be so. One day I shall  dig my nails into the earth or bury my face in the pillow, or     stretch myself taut, or raise my hands to the sky and want, more than all the world, your return.” ~ Mary Jean     Iron


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