Tag Archives: Cheri Pray Earl


Gosh, I love a new year. Don’t you? There’s something neato about being together in the pot. Sharing goals and etc. Like suffering together during NaNo!

Now, I have some not-so-good news. I don’t have last year’s goals. That means I need to figure out how to go back one year (here) so I can find what you all wrote and so we can see what you did. When I figure that out, I’ll post your goals so you can see whatcha done good.

BUT–we must not let that deter us.

What are your goals?

What are your plans?

What are your dreams?

One thing my dear Rick Walton told me was to make goals I was in control of. I love this. It’s so smart.

“I will sell five books this year.” Ummm. I can’t make S&S or Harcourt buy a book. BUT I can write  five books.

Also, making goals attainable is a good thing.

Read this, by the amazing Claudia Mills. It’ll teach you a thing or two. I swear.


And read this, too! It’s Cheri Pray Earl’s blog about goals.


So. I’ll give you three of my writing goals for the year–or writing related goals.

  1. Start a REAL, OFFICIAL business. It may be small, but I have been putting this off for some time.
  2. Make that danged website of mine shine.
  3. Write a draft of a new book every three months. IF I sell something and rewrites take up new writing time, I will make adjustments.
    If I break that down, it turns out to be four new books. By the end of the year.
    If I break it down even further, it’s about 1000 new words a day. With play time in between. And time to rewrite.

EVENTS For those of you who want a jumpstart for this year, we have these two events coming up:


Provo Library

Third Thursday of this month (6-8 pm–I think!)

Potluck fun!



Editor Sarah McCabe (Simon and Schuster) and agent Jenna Pocius (Red Fox Literary) are visiting BYU campus. Both will speak on Feb 28, 2018 from 5:30-7 pm. (Room number TBA)
This event is open and free to the public.

For those who write for children and young adults (and those interested in writing for adults), March 1st, March 2nd and March 3rd, will feature Sarah and Jenna in one-on-one critiques with paying attendees.

$119 will include a day of learning with published authors as well as critique time with either the editor or agent. We’ll talk good writing, writing with humor and even glance at marketing your work. We’ll discuss query letters, the important pitch and truly knowing what your book is about–and being able to express it. Each $119 registration includes ONE day.




Filed under Ann Dee, CLW, Kyra

Freezing Friday

I have no idea if this is true as I haven’t been outside this morning. But yesterday afternoon the wind was blowing and cold and the people at Lowe’s were moving flowers into a heated room in case we had another freezing night. AND it’s supposed to snow.



In your work, look for ways to trim unnecessary words. Here are three examples of ways to clean up your creative writing.

~ was-ing words can become one word. I was running = I ran

~ that can almost always go as well as well, just, very, ly words, adjectives

~ Cheri Earl taught me no need to use start or begin (unless starting a car or lawn mower etc). I started running = I ran. “Let the action happen,” Cheri says.

Words are power. But you an overdo amazing writing. Many a good novel has been ruined by the words that make it up.

Remember, less is more.

You can read where this phrase came from below (if you can get past all the ads).



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Filed under CLW, Exercises, Life, Plot, Voice, writing process

Concrete Writing

by Lisa Sledge

The WIFYR assistants met last weekend to plan the 2015 conference. Can I just say how excited I am to go back to a conference that has done so much to save my writing and build my confidence? I wish it was June already.

Cheri Pray Earl gave a great presentation on how to improve our writing. I took pages of notes. One thing she mentioned that really stuck with me is the importance of concrete rather than abstract writing.

It brought me back to my college days, studying poetry. William Carlos Williams (1883 – 1963) had a bit of an obsession with concreteness. And I love him for it. Here is my favorite of his poems:

This Is Just To Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

Beautiful, isn’t it? For me it conjures up all sorts of feelings, emotions, and even memories. A note on the kitchen table. Plums, icebox, cold, sweet, and that little bit of guilt that makes pleasure run deeper.

There is a chance, I realized last Saturday, that not everyone knows or understands what “concrete writing” means. Maybe you’ve heard the term before, but you can’t quite define it and you’re not sure you’d be able to recognize it in something you read.

I’m an English teacher. This is what I love. Indulge me for a moment.

Concrete writing relies on nouns, verbs, and vivid adjectives. It is a way of helping the reader look at ordinary things in a new light, makes the mundane stand out, and breathes life into what is easy to overlook.

Abstract writing is the cheap and lazy way to try and conjure up emotions in our readers. And guess what? It often doesn’t work. For example, I might write, “I ate the last plum and it tasted so good.” The phrase “so good” is empty. What does it represent? What emotions or feelings does it create? Nothing. And the “last plum”? Who cares if it was the last one. It doesn’t mean anything to me.

Inject power into your writing. Avoid abstract words such as “amazing”, “awesome”, “terrible”, “bad” or other vague constructions. Look through the world of your novel and highlight small objects and details in a way that will carry specific meaning and emotions to your readers.

Be concrete.

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It’s December!

December Second.

Yup, I love it when a month starts on a Sunday. Feels like the month is full of possibilities as far as goals. (Last night I weighed myself. I was down 6 pounds. I woke up in the middle of the night and realized, no, I have been that exact weight far too long.)

How did you do with NaNoWriMo?

Did you accomplish your goals?

Me? Not so great.  Two of my goals were dependent on other people and nothing happened with those. But I figured out the plot to the novel I was working on, wrote a bunch of pages and figured out a few twists and turns.

What got in my way? Sure there was the surgery and family matters and replaced doorknobs and tires and that kind of stuff. You know how it is. You deal with it ALWAYS. Life.

But it was more the way I looked at life and my priorities and my writing. It was more important to me to clean and organize and unpack. (Yes! I am still unpacking. If we get the heat fixed, my girls and I want to settle in this house for a few years.)

Here’s the deal–I’m now working with  four publishers. (One is for that cute series I’m writing with Cheri Pray Earl.) But I am NOT writing effectively. So I am going to try something I have tried before. The One Hour On, One Hour Off.  It’s exactly what it sounds like. One hour on writing–only writing–strictly writing–not Facebook or email or phone calls–just me and the computer and the story and the best words I can put down. (I want to send the first 30 or so pages of this novel to Steve to send to Paula so she can see if she wants this book.)

The next hour I do what I must with the girls or cleaning or Mom or email or whatever.

I have learned two things with this kind of goal setting (though I haven’t really ever done it effectively. Hmmm. Sound familiar?)–

Number One: be strict about what you are doing.

So I’m gonna.

I’m gonna tell the girls today.

Map out my hours.

What I plan to do with them.

And then STICK TO IT.

If I’m halfway cleaning out a closet when the bell rings–I get up and go back to the computer to write.

Number Two: realize that I may have to be lenient.

Because ALWAYS, my girls come first.

And so do some of my friends.

But not the cleaning.

Or email.

So I will track how it goes today and let you know.

Happy December!

Happy Writing!

I’m off on my hour!

End of Day Goal: 4 hours, total, writing

And thanks for the SNOW Ann Dee (or Cam?). Love you both.


Filed under Agents, CLW, Exercises, Revision, writing process