Books That Made Us Cry

Faran Fagen

FaranThe Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. I read it often to my kids. Every time I get to the end where the “boy” sits upon the tree, I feel like I’m about to cry.

Cathy Castelli

Cathy: Don’t You Dare Read This, Mrs. Dunfrey by Margaret Petersen Haddix. It’s one of those books where I wasn’t sure I could read it straight through and maybe I had to peek at the end just to make sure everything was going to be okay. The main character, Tish, is left to care for her little brother when their mother abandons them. Tish’s English teacher has assigned a journal which Tish usually marks that her teacher shouldn’t read it. I felt so much anxiety for Tish and her little brother. It really got to me.

Melody Maysonet

Melody: I have two books that I’d like to mention. War and Rembrance by Herman Wouk, which is set during World War II (I re-read it every few years), and Far From the Tree by Robin Benway, which won this year’s National Book Award for Young Adult fiction.

Joanne Butcher

Joanne: The story that made me cry the most was a movie called The Mission. In it a Jesuit priest is sent over a waterfall tied to a cross by the “savages” he was sent to tame. It turns out the people weren’t really savage at all. I cried for the priest who was convinced by his church this was the right thing to do, and I cried for the native people whose lives were ruined by the intrusion into their way of life. At one point I was sobbing so loudly that my husband closed the windows because he was worried the neighbors would think there was something wrong.

Jonathan: I have a feeling that I’m not the only one with this, but I can’t and won’t, ever read Bridge to Terabithia again. Made the mistake of seeing the movie years ago, and it had the same result. That is it for me. No more visits to Terabithia.

Wrap-It-Up Wednesday for the Tuesday Writers

The Tuesdays had a nice post-holiday meeting yesterday, with everyone contented from time with family and friends. Stacie was back from her out of town travels for her MFA work. We missed Melody, who was helping to run the book fair at her son’s school.

Faran had a great rewrite of a chapter in his novel about the struggles of two high school boys that plays out alongside their favorite sport of baseball. Faran really tightened up the chapter. He was able to bring out a lot of emotion in his characters with a scene on the pitcher’s mound.

Cathy is working on a rewrite of her novel about a girl in the circus. Cathy is meticulously reworking her plot and reduced it to a synopsis to submit at an upcoming conference. This helped her get a better idea of the plot’s overall flow. Cathy wanted to compact her synopsis so that it was only one page. Faran had a great suggestion to “sell the sizzle, not the steak.” He suggested keeping the juiciest parts to make it easy for an agent to read.

I brought in a chapter I had reworked. We usually read our work out loud to the group since it brings a different dimension than just seeing it on the page. I made copies of my chapter because I had included a lot of italics and wanted to see how that all played out.  Cathy offered to read so that I could get a different perspective. Hearing the chapter definitely helped me catch places where the pace slowed as well as phrases and word choices that needed to change.

Stacie is working on a new novel with two point of view characters. She’s is working out their voices in first person and third person. Stacie’s writing is always very fluid. It’s interesting to see how she’s incorporating the knowledge she’s gained from her MFA classes.

Our anchor, Jonathan, did not disappoint with the hilarity of his current story. The only critique was a question about where an object fell when thrown into the back seat of a car. That was all we could find to critique in his entire read.

I can’t wait for next Tuesday!

Tuesday’s Tips

Writing Career Playlist X’s Two


I’ve seen people post playlists for specific books so I thought for my blog today I’d create a playlist of the perfect songs to get you through your publishing journey.  Then I asked my husband, JKR, to weigh in on his choices, so you’re essentially getting two-for-one. Here’s to helping you through the tough times, the good times, and the even better ones.

For when you are writing:

My pick: Take Me to Church by Hozier

JKR’s pick: Guitar and Pen by the Who


For when you are stuck:

My pick: Running to Stand Still by U2

JKR’s pick: You Really Got me by the Kinks


                                                                            For when you are plotting:

My pick: Ripple by the Grateful Dead

JKR’s pick: Child of Vision by Supertramp


For when your first draft is done:

My pick: Strange Magic by ELO

JKR’s pick: Tempus Fugit by Yes


For when you are revising:

My pick: For You by Bruce Springsteen

JKR’s pick: Right Place, Wrong Time by Dr. John


For while you wait for that agent or editor to get back to you:

My pick: The Waiting is the Hardest Part by Tom Petty

JKR’s pick: 22,000 Days by The Moody Blues


For when you are rejected by said agent or editor:

My Pick: Try by Pink

JKR’s Pick: When the Levee Breaks by Led Zeplin


For when you sell:

My Pick: See What Love Can Do by Eric Clapton

JKR’s: Rosalita By Bruce Springsteen


Now you are all set for every stage of your writing career.

You’re welcome!







Creativity for Writers

Are you participating in Nanowrimo or PiBoldMo this month? Confession time – I didn’t this year, but it is really fun to write fast. In a recent SCBWI Boot Camp event, Dorian Cirrone worked with us on the concept of writing fast. Working for say ten minutes and just seeing how many words you can get down on the page. It can be very freeing to allow yourself to let the words out without second guessing all of them.

So while participating in writing events like Nano or PiBo are a great way to connect the collective consciousness of everyone else going for fifty thousand words, it has the possibility to quash your creativity. Here are some ways to consider stirring up the creativity that may be dormant.

  1. Participate in a FaceBook challenge like sharing seven black and white pictures – a different one for each day – without any explanation. No writing involved, but taking pictures activates a different part of your brain.
  2. Cut pictures out of magazines to represent your characters. It makes them more real and looking for them is half the fun!
  3. Meme your characters! There are meme generators all over the internet. For this one, you might want to set a time limit because you really could get sucked into the vortex of wasting time on the internet.
  4. Haiku! Boil a crucial scene down into 17 syllables. (It’s fun!) (And revealing!)
  5. Blackout poetry – my students love this. Take a page from your book and create a poem by selecting words from the page. You can then create art around the poem you’ve created.         Remember that sometimes you have to step away from the project to see what it’s all about.  

The Benefits of Gratitude

Thanksgiving at our house includes a tour around the table where everyone mentions what they are grateful for. The responses vary from: “my new job”, to “the beauty of nature”, to “my partner’s colonoscopy”, which can send the group from gentle reflection to riotous laughter. Gratitude is an emotion that expresses appreciation for what one has, rather than what one wants. So what does gratitude do for us?

No matter where you’re from, it is evident that of late, people are on edge. Recent psychological studies have shown that people who regularly practice gratitude by taking time to notice little things and think about how they’re thankful for them, show more compassion and kindness, have more positive emotions, sleep better, have a joi-de-vivre about them and have better health. There is even a Science of Gratitude.

Michael E. McCollough of the University of Miami and Robert Emmons, a psychology professor at the University of California, Davis, the top researchers in the study of gratitude, showed its effects on their test subjects in a research paper called Gratitude and Thankfulness. In the study, their subjects experienced:

  • Better health and exercised more
  • Attained more personal goals
  • Increased attentiveness, energy levels and enthusiasm
  • Were more likely to help others
  • Felt more interconnected with others
  • Were less envious and more willing to share

When I worked as a registered nurse at the hospital, I found that my patients who had an attitude of gratitude got better faster, and had more energy to sit up in a chair or walk. Robert Emmons maintains that gratitude lowers blood pressure, fosters a stronger immune system and adds to more pleasurable life experiences.

Gratitude can create happier memories. Studies on subjects with PTSD and people fighting addiction, showed that changing a person’s mood through being grateful for one aspect of a traumatic experience, actually re-framed the memory. A person could then think of the negative situation they kept remembering, as a positive or neutral experience.

Researchers at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania divided university fund-raisers into two groups. One group made phone calls to solicit alumni donations the same way they always had. The second group, who was assigned to work on a different day, got a pep talk from the director of annual giving, who discussed with the fund-raisers how she was grateful for their efforts. The people who heard her message of gratitude made fifty percent more fund-raising calls than those who did not, in the week that followed.

Other studies have looked at how gratitude can improve relationships. Whether it is bosses with workers or in couples, research has shown that individuals who expressed gratitude not only felt more positive toward the other person but also felt more comfortable expressing concerns. Marriage counselors suggest that couples retrace their steps to the beginning of their relationship to remember what it was they appreciated about their partner.

A study using MRI technology has revealed the act of giving activates the same sections of the brain that are roused by food and sex. Generosity toward others, along with gratitude can create a dopamine release making a person feel not only happier but also healthier, wealthier, more productive, and meaningful.

Now when I find myself sad or upset about something, I’ve taken up the practice of reminding myself to be grateful for things like fresh air or a beautiful sunrise and somehow it always makes me feel better.


What We’re Most Grateful For This Year

The Tuesdays share what they’re most grateful for during this past year. What makes the top of your gratitude list?

Stacie Ramey

Stacie: I am thankful for so many things this year. My family. My friends. My critique groups. My agent. My editor. All of the wonderful people at my publishing house, Sourcebooks. Mostly I’m thankful that I get to do this really cool thing: write books for kids. Doesn’t get any better than that.

Faran Fagen

Faran: As we keep hearing about all the natural disasters occurring in the world in 2017 (hurricanes, earthquakes, fires, etc.), I’m thankful that we did not get the brunt of Hurricane Irma in September. Thoughts and prayers go out to people in the Keys, Puerto Rico, Texas, and and other parts of the world still recovering.

Melody Maysonet

Melody: This is a tough one, because I’m grateful for so much, but if I had to decide on one thing it would be the peace of mind I have. Over the past year, I’ve experienced grief, disappointments, and sickness of loved ones, but through it all I’ve managed to stay serene and at peace with myself and the world. That, to me, is so very important–to be happy with who you are.

Cathy Castelli

Cathy: Most? Like I have to pick just one? So let me say family. My parents are well, living where it’s way too cold, in Illinois. My husband is the most supportive of whatever makes me happy. (Smart man!) Our son is creative and funny and still likes to hang out with us. I have a best friend who knows exactly what to ask in any situation. And I have a wonderful writing family starting with the Tuesdays.

Joanne Butcher

Joanne: I’m thankful for our health after having some eye issues this year and my husband getting a 3 ½ inch nail shot through his thumb in post Hurricane Irma rebuilding.

Jonathan Rosen

Jonathan: Having great family and friends around.


What to Write About Wednesday?

Hello Tuesday Readers,

Here I am again! *waves*

I drew the long straw so I get to be the one to move us into T-giving together! Yay!!!Tomorrow you’ll hear from all of the Tuesdays about what we are thankful for. But for today it’s all about me. And my gratitude for one group of people….my readers.

Readers are the people I write the books for. They are the ones I try to reach. Sometimes I do that, and they reward me with an email or a shout out on Twitter. Sometimes they give me stars on Goodreads. Or Amazon. Sometimes they simply tell their friends. Whenever any of those things happen, I’m ridiculously thankful.

And then there are those readers that, for some reason, my books have fallen flat or they missed the mark completely. And I’m even grateful for those readers as well. Books are very personal things. If mine aren’t for you, I hope you’ll keep looking for the ones that are. Because, when it comes down to it, the readers have the final say. And for that I’m grateful. Because without them, there is nothing.

So, rate on, readers. Read on.

You are the reason for all of this.

And we, writers, will keep doing what we do to please you. Because when we match up, when we hit the right notes, your love of the written word sustains us. True story.

So from the Tuesday Writers to all the readers out there: thank you, sincerely. Please keep reading (even if it means ignoring your relatives for T-giving!). .

Tell them Stacie said you could

You’re welcome.

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.

Naming Things – Characters, Towns, and Files

I suck at naming things.

Okay, maybe not everything. I think we found the perfect name for our son. However, my husband, who I think is a genius at naming things was heavily involved.

One thing you might not know about Stacie is that she hates it when you decide to change a character’s name mid-book. So of course, The Tuesday try not to do that. I have done it though. C’mon, we’re all trying to find the next Katniss, right? In my current WIP my main character has been named Ana, Abra, and Fia. In the current rewrite, I’m thinking of changing it – AGAIN. (Please don’t kill me, Stacie.)

I have resorted to name generators. Google them. They’ve got fantasy name generators or ones where you can pick the nationality of your character. It can be helpful or a time suck.

There are some great old books like this Nicknames and Sobriquets of US Cities, States, and Countries. Sobriquet? Fancy work for nickname! (Try and use that in a sentence this week, and let me know what happens!) Published in 1979, this book gives nicknames of cities all around the US. Delray, where is where I live, is also known as, Florida’s Dissimilar Resort, The City in Florida with a Difference, The Island of Distinctive Resort Life, and the Luxurious City of Traditional Simplicity. Or how about this book? www.tuesdaywriters.comHandbook of Pseudonyms and Personal Nicknames published in 1982. Here’s an example: Lippert, Thomas Ray (1950?-) American Kidnapper – The Love Kidnapper. Just looking through these books can give a lot of story ideas.

Now for the real reason for this post. I rewrote the plot for my current WIP, shared it at critique group over a month ago, and now I can’t find it on my computer. What you need to know is that I work in Google Docs. Everything is automatically saved. However, Google lets your start a new document and saves it for you without requiring a name. You know what? That doesn’t really matter though, because I wouldn’t have named it something as easy as Plot – Flying Blind. Nope. I’d name it something like – trying out a new plot – or – amped up test.

This is where the genius of my husband comes in. Every time we are working together on the computer, he doesn’t move forward without saving the document and placing the document in the correct folder. I’m thinking, can we just hurry up? But he’s going to name it in such a way that he will be able to find it in less than three clicks. Why hasn’t this ability rubbed off on me yet? If we are working on a publisher document, he saves each version along the way: bookmark001, bookmark002, etc. (Sigh.) Maybe someday I’ll get it. Until then, I’ll be here searching through my Google Drive. Ugh.

The Books We Want to See Made into Movies

Cathy Castelli

Cathy: I think the obvious answer is a book that I’ve written! However, I will choose Disclaimer by Renee Knight. It’s a thriller where a woman receives a book in the mail. When she starts to read it, she finds out that it’s about her, and it’s something she hasn’t told anyone.

Faran Fagen

FaranI️ Will Save You by Matt De La Pena. It’s such a touching love story from the perspective of a heavily troubled teen, and it’s pretty much a thriller due to the suspense. De La Pena includes a clever twist, and I’d love to see how they pull that off on the big screen.

Melody Maysonet

Melody: The book I’d most like to see made into a movie (besides my own) is Justin Cronin’s The Passage. It’s one of those meaty books with lots of characters (also the first in a trilogy), so maybe a television season for each book would be better.

Joanne Butcher

Joanne: I’d like to see A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles made into a movie. In it, an aristocrat finds himself as a waiter after publishing a poem against the Russian regime in 1922. The historical shots of the old hotel and the city would look great on screen alongside a great tale of personal growth while Russian supremacy ruled.

Jonathan Rosen

Jonathan: My obvious response is my own, but putting that aside, I would love to see The Mysterious Benedict Society made into a movie. It was a fun book, dealing with smart kids, a mysterious school, and lots and lots of puzzles for them to solve, in order to get to the bottom of things. Would be a movie that I’d be buying tickets for already.