Tuesday: Best Day of the Week

Dear Tuesday Readers,

I’ve always said that Tuesday is the best day because when I started writing, that’s when my class met. Hence our class name: The Tuesdays. So creative, right?

But Tuesday Readers, our faithful blog followers, now there’s an even better reason to love Tuesdays. Wanna know why? Because, my dears, Tuesdays are when books are released! I know! I found this out when my first book (The Sister Pact) was released on the first Tuesday of November, 2015. So fun.

And every Tuesday there is a new batch of books to choose from. Here a few highlights of great reads released/releasing this November:

R.I.P. Eliza Hart (Scholastic Press)

When Eliza Hart, the most popular girl at Ventana Ranch boarding school, is found dead, Ellie Sokoloff is determined to figure out what happened to her. After all, Eliza was Ellie’s childhood best friend.

Never mind that ever since Ellie arrived at school Eliza has spread terrible rumors about her, calling her a liar and a stalker, when all Ellie wanted to do was rekindle their old friendship. Or that Ellie’s claustrophobia limits where she can go and what she can do. Or that Ellie’s suitemate, Sam, is the only one who will help her . . . because to everyone else, Ellie looks like the top suspect.

Can Ellie clear her name and solve the mystery behind Eliza’s death? Her hunt for the truth will uncover secrets she never imagined, sending her deep into her own memories of her childhood with Eliza Hart.

 

Kat and Meg Conquer the World (Harper Collins)

Kat and Meg couldn’t be more different. Kat’s anxiety makes it hard for her to talk to people. Meg hates being alone, but her ADHD keeps pushing people away. But when the two girls are thrown together for a year-long science project, they discover they do have one thing in common: They’re both obsessed with the same online gaming star and his hilarious videos.

It might be the beginning of a beautiful friendship—if they don’t kill each other first.

 

 

 

The Temptation of Adam(Skypony Press)

Adam Hawthorne is fine.

Yeah, his mother left, his older sister went with her, and his dad would rather read Nicholas Sparks novels than talk to him. And yeah, he spends his nights watching self-curated porn video playlists.

But Adam is fine.

When a family friend discovers Adam’s porn addiction, he’s forced to join an addiction support group: the self-proclaimed Knights of Vice. He goes because he has to, but the honesty of the Knights starts to slip past his defenses. Combine that with his sister’s out-of-the-blue return and the attention of a girl he meets in an AA meeting, and all the work Adam has put into being fine begins to unravel.

Now Adam has to face the causes and effects of his addiction, before he loses his new friends, his prodigal sister, and his almost semi-sort-of girlfriend.

 

Oh, are you guys still here? Shhhh #amreading.

Comment below to tell me about your November reads.

Wrap-It-Up Wednesday: When I Get Stuck

I’m on the third rewrite of my WIP and I’m just about to write the lowest of the low points, where it looks like everything my main character has been working toward is falling apart. But when I sat down to write the scene (which takes place over Thanksgiving dinner), I had the worst writer’s block ever. 

I’d written this scene before—twice actually—in two previous drafts. But neither of them had the emotional impact I was looking for. They were either too dramatic or too all-over-the-place (which is what happens when I try to accomplish too much in a scene). This third rewrite of my book is going well, so I wanted this key scene to be right.

But I couldn’t write it. 

So I decided to go back to my outline and look at what happens after this scene, not just in the immediate scene after, but in all the scenes until the end of the book. That helped a lot. It helped me hone in on what, exactly, this scene needs to accomplish. And it also helped me realize there are some details I can plant in the early chapters that will make the low point scene resonate even more.

So here’s what I learned this week. Sometimes you have to step back and look at the big picture in order to move forward. Sometimes I get so lost in trying to write the next scene—in trying to get words on the page—that I lose sight of the overarching story. Now that I’ve reviewed (and edited) my outline, I feel much more sure-footed in writing this critical scene.

I am not a salesperson, but will you buy my book anyway?

www.tuesdaywriters.comThis is where we find ourselves as authors these days. We set out to write the best novel that we can. Isn’t that what the publisher is for? Aren’t they the ones who are supposed to advertise for us?

Sadly, no.

Ironically, I did work in a bookstore years ago. First I worked at B.Dalton Bookseller in the Peru Mall. I loved the job and the 40% discount. There was never an aspect of the job where I felt I was being pressured to sell. I loved books, and I could sometimes suggest a book for someone to buy, but mostly I helped people by ringing up their purchases. Later, I had a job at the college bookstore, but we were selling textbooks.

So while I don’t have an agent or a book contract (yet!) my job right now, besides revising to write the best novel possible, is to sell myself and that book to an agent.

In one of the SCBWI conferences, an agent pointed out that the query letter we send, is often what she uses when she queries publishers.

In the mean-time, I’m bombarded with various types of advice on social media about how to market advertise, organize a fan base, and generally sell more books! How exciting it will be when I get to that point. And a little nerve-wracking.

What’s your advice for promoting your book?

Manic Monday

It really is manic for me these days

So manic that I barely have time to breathe, let alone post. So I apologize, Tuesday readers, that this post is a tad bit late. I know you understand.

You see, #authorlife is a huge, major, and let’s just say it, manic kind of a deal. I’ve spent the last few months with my head spinning. But I’m not complaining. I’m lucky to get to do these things.

Here’s just a brief look at what I’ve been up to recently:

I presented a workshop for SCBWI with Joyce Sweeney. It was the first time I taught peers. And the first time I team taught with Joyce. It was pretty cool.

Here’s me presenting theme using some of my fave books

Here’s Joyce presenting using some of her fave books… I spy THE HOMECOMING….aww, thanks, Joyce

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then Joyce and I  presented a workshop the FAME conference in Orlando. Talk about awesome! Plus I got to meet Pete the Cat!  

 

 

 

 

 

 

All of this while finishing my revision on WEIGHTLESS and planning promotion for THE SECRETS WE BURY.

It’s been a whirlwind kind of a month, Tuesday readers. I hope you’ve had as much fun as I have!

Eclectic author, a former White House guest, injects fun into writing

By Faran Fagen

No class this Tuesday, so enjoy this profile on local author Shutta Crum:

In 2005, she was invited to read her one of her 15 published children’s books at The White House. She’s also a public speaker, a librarian for 26 years, and taught English and creative writing. Several of her articles about teaching and writing have appeared in professional journals.

For Shutta Crum (pronounced shut-ta, not shoot-a, which she gets a lot), life was “shaped by the written word”. And she couldn’t be more grateful.

“I like sharing my stories with the world,” said the 65-year-old Greenacres resident. “When kids love my books, it makes me feel immortal. Hopefully, the books will continue to exist after I am gone, in the hearts of readers, and in libraries.”

Crum’s schedule is full of school and library visits as well as book festivals, and writing workshops for all ages. She’s done free talks for the schools her grandchildren attend in Palm Beach County (Crum has two children and four grandchildren). Her schedule and history can be found at her website, www.shutta.com.

On Feb. 18, she spoke at the West Boynton Beach Library as part of the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and illustrators) monthly author series.

Crum’s workshop, titled “Sound, Shape, Sense: The Work of our Words”, reviewed and discussed techniques that can be used in any genre or format (verse or prose).

Crum feels storytelling is in her blood. Born in the mountains of Kentucky, telling “whoppers” and listening to tall tales long into the night was part of her Appalachian heritage.

“In those dark and scrawny hollers I’d cling to my father’s tall legs and stare wide-eyed as I listened to the hair-raising tales my relatives told.”

Her journey reached its peak when she was invited to the White House’s Easter Egg Roll.

Crum met a number of George Bush’s cabinet. Unfortunately, there was a lightning storm on Easter that year. Although there were many families waiting in the rain, the festivities for that morning were cancelled, so she did not actually get a chance to read her book, Bravest of the Brave, to the crowds.

But in her vast career, Crum has reached a multitude of families through her writing. Her latest, William and the Witch’s Riddle, is about a boy who must solve a witch’s riddle in order to save his family and end a centuries-long curse.

“My books, and the books of others, give young readers a safe space within which to think and to dream,” Crum said. “What I want is for children to come into that space and to see themselves, others, and the wonders that lay before them.”

Q & A:

Who is your hero? My husband, Gerald Clark, always. How he puts up with me, I’ll never understand.

What is your favorite movie? I’m not sure I have an absolute favorite movie. But two of the top ones are: “Young Frankenstein” and “Raising Arizona”. Both are dark, but over-the-top fun. Similar to many of the books I like to read.

What’s your favorite author/book and why? As a librarian, an avid reader and a writer, I have a ton of favorite books—at many different reading levels. So I will only say that right now I am in love with two 2016 picture books; “Frank and Lucky Get Schooled” by Lynne Rae Perkins, and “I Am a Story” by Dan Yaccarino.

If you could meet any person in history, who would it be and why? As a writer, I’ve often thought about the whole puzzle of Shakespeare. Did he really write those plays, or did someone else? I’d like to solve that riddle. But I suspect he’d be a more boring conversationalist than Christopher Marlowe, Shakespeare’s fellow playwright, who has been described as a spy, a brawler and a “rakehell.” Have you ever met a rakehell?

What are your hobbies? I quilt and do other “crafty” things like make tiles. I’m absolutely enamored by color. And I often wish I was, also, an illustrator.

What do you do to get away or take a break? I really don’t need to take a break from writing. I usually write for about three hours a day, three to four days a week. But we do enjoy traveling, hiking, and canoeing around Florida.

Self-edit Like You’re on a Vision Quest

 

When I think about writing, one really important question comes to mind: why don’t we have jerseys?  I’m not talking about replicas. I’m talking the real deal. Practice ones. Game ones. Full-on writing equipment with equipment managers.

To me, Writing is like a sport.  But the question is, is it a team sport or an individual competition. My favorite scene from one of my favorite movies, Vision Quest, is when Louden Swain states emphatically, “Wrestling is not a team sport!” Then proceeds to climb the pegboard while his teammates gather around and cheer him on. If you haven’t seen it, you should:

https://youtu.be/nJtNsehdT5o

You’re welcome! The whole movie is genius but that scene has always been my favorite. Even before I was writing. When I was just a reader. But now that scene gets to me on such a profound level because it completely depicts the writing life.

We start out training like the wrestlers do in Vision Quest. As a team. A critique group. An organization. A workshop or conference cohort. We hone our craft there, practice our literary moves. Then when we feel we are good enough, we try to climb the pegboard. And some of us make it. And that makes the rest of us clap and cheer and believe it can happen for us, too.

 

But what about all of the alone time? The butt-in-chair stuff that no one sees. The rough drafts and first tries no one hears because they are too dreadful to trot out in public? Those come just from us. We can use a writing coach (I definitely do). We can put our writing tribe on text on demand notice (I do that also) to help answer our plot questions and character moves. But it still comes down to us. What we do in that chair is what counts. After the critiquing. After the Beta reads, we are the CEO of our work. So how do we self-edit? Very carefully (cue the evil laugh)

These are my steps for self-editing. They’re not pretty, but they are essential. My version of writing bootcamp. Get ready to puke.

  1. Any part of your book that you think is sooo creative, so awesome that you continuously rubbed your hands together like the evil genius you were when you wrote it? Yeah…they probably need to go. Kill your darlings does not just refer to clever passages and favorite quotes. Huge artistic insight on the day of inception often comes off as contrived and unbelievable on the paper. Love at first sight doesn’t always end well. Look at those babies and be sure they serve your book. If not, Bbye. It isn’t you, it’s me. No, it’s really you.

  1. As you are carving and adjusting and looking for darlings to kill, is there a part of your manuscript that you figure you’ve read so many times that there’s no reason to read again. Or parts you feel are so solid there’s no reason to look at those? Yup. You’ve got issues there. If you find your eye scanning and skimming parts of your book, that could be the sign of a pacing problem. If you are bored in parts of your manuscript, how will readers feel? It’s time to get real or go home.

  1. You made it through the warm-ups, are you ready for the combines?  I hope so because it’s time to dig deep and get aggressive. Here’s where you look at every single word in your manuscript.  Every one should serve a purpose. Should inform character development. Should advance plot. Should act as subtext. Should create literary rhythm. Should work on more than one level. If your words aren’t working as hard as you are, they go. Sorry. You come to win or you  watch the game from your couch. True story.

  1. Now it’s time to check your manuscript for characters that are slacking, actions that don’t progress plot. Look at each one of your scenes as if it’s a still picture in a film. I’ve actually done that with DVD’s. O Brother Where Art Thou is one worthy of this exercise. Every single shot is perfect. Every one. If any of your characters or scenes are just phoning it in, it’s time to break up with them.

Writing is a bad boyfriend. It’s true.

 

But nobody said climbing the pegboard was easy. You are not here to make friends. You are here to do outrageously hard things. You are here to win the National Championship. To set new personal records. To lift Lord Stanley’s Cup and drink a huge monster energy drink out of it. And when you’ve done all of that, when you’ve brutally embraced your manuscript. When you’ve committed to each word, each scene, each plot decision. Then you can hit the showers and celebrate like a champion! Cue the cheerleaders and the band. Cue the equipment manager. Because you’re going to need a clean jersey for tomorrow’s session.

 

 

Spooky Halloween Reads!

Hi Tuesdays!

Happy last full week of October! And since it’s the last full week of October, you know what that means! We’re coming around to Halloween time! So, I decided to write about some spooky middle grade reads!

The first on the list, might be something that you’ve heard of. I don’t think you can do middle grade and Halloween time, without including Goosebumps by R.L. Stine!

This is THE first one on top of any list. I’m not going to pick any specific title, since you can read any of them and get the same sense of creepy fun. They’re spooky and often have streaks of dark humor. I love this series, and if you’re going to check out any middle grade spooky books, you have to make sure to include Goosebumps on your list!

 

Next on the spooky list, just came out this year. The Gravedigger’s Son, by Patrick Moody. This one has a family line of cemetery diggers. Forbidden woods, and a risen corpse. I’m going to be honest. ANYTHING taking place in a cemetery, and I’m hooked!

Next on our Halloween list, is Coraline, by Neil Gaiman. I looooved this book. So creepy and fun! A secret passage to a darker mirror world, where parents want to sew buttons over your eyes. So creepy. A book that would’ve terrified me as a child, but made me want to reread all the time.

 

This next one isn’t out yet, but I’m sure it’ll be on my Halloween list for next year. Oddity, by Sarah Cannon. I’m looking forward to this one. It has alien mobs and zombie rabbits! As you know, I have a fondness for evil bunnies, so I can’t wait to read this!

 

This one, just came out recently. The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street, by Lindsay Currie. This one involves a centuries-old mystery, a haunted house, and a doll crying real tears. All I know, is I am in!

I love Halloween and love spooky reads, so hope you enjoy these books!

Oh, by the way, there is one other spooky book for Halloween that I didn’t mention, but I’m sure I have once or twice before!

 

Happy Halloween everyone!

 

 

Jonathan Rosen is a transplanted New Yorker, who now lives with his family in sunny South Florida. He spends his “free” time chauffeuring his three kids around. Some of Jonathan’s fondest childhood memories are of discovering a really good book to dive into. His favorite of all time is Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. He currently writes middle-grade, because his sense of humor is stuck in that age. Jonathan is proud to be of Mexican-American descent, although neither country is really willing to accept responsibility. His MG debut, Night of the Living Cuddle Bunnies, is out now from SkyPony Press. He can be found at www.HouseofRosen.com.

Wrap-It-Up Wednesday

 

The Tuesday Writers met yesterday for our critique. We each take a turn reading eight to ten pages then the group does a verbal critique afterward. We missed Stacie this week as she was out for a work conference.

Cathy read first. She’s working on a historical novel, homing in on what her character is lacking as well as working on theme. She did a good job setting her character up to show what’s going on in her life. There were some outstanding moments where my stomach tightened as I felt the emotions of Cathy’s character. Faran had a great suggestion to look at the story’s inciting incident and work backward from there to the beginning of the novel to see what the main character needs.

Faran was up next. He rewrote the beginning of his current work in progress about a baseball player and his attitudes. Melody suggested that the character’s language was a bit strong for chapter one and that those words might be more effective with rising tension later on. Faran’s third scene had really good description of some of the plays of a baseball game. I could see the action playing out before me and feel the tension of his character.

Melody who often reads first, stalled until the third slot. She decided not to read her chapter as she’d been mulling over some changes as we talked and figured she wanted to implement them for better impact before reading the chapter to us.

I was up next. I’m doing revision on my work in progress about a college freshman. I revised a chapter leading up to the first plot point. Melody suggested I cut out some of the explanations in the dialogue. Cathy offered that I have my secondary character be vaguer about an idea she has and that my main character draw the idea out. Jonathan suggested my main character use more fraternity lingo.

Jonathan tempered the humor in his novel for a chapter to have his protagonist spend time with a girl he likes. The chapter was more reflective and less raucous, but kept the story moving forward.

Looking forward to next Tuesday!