The Wisdom of Your Favorite Stories

As a teacher, my schedule goes in cycles. I’m usually stressed beyond belief for nine months of the year and then have just enough “summer vacation” to relax and recharge for the cycle to begin again.

This past summer, I had the chance to chill out for awhile and ponder some major life decisions that are before me… thinking about where I want to be, what I want to be doing, who I want to be doing it with. You know… the normal questions of existence 😉

And all the time I thought about those big life things, the wisdom I’d learned from my favorite books kept popping into my mind. Mostly, the infinite wisdom of my favorite heroine and writer, Anne Shirley.

Since I could read, she’s been in my mind and my heart. I always wanted, and have been lucky to find, a bosom friend like Diana Barry. And I just recently bought an “I ❤ Gilbert” wristband which proclaims my undying love for the sweetest hero of all! Continue reading


Lessons from My Students: Write What You Want to Write

I’m back to school now, which means that you are probably going to be hearing a lot about my students over the next few months. This is not a bad thing, though, because those 18-year-olds actually have a lot to share. So this semester I think I’ll write about some of the lessons I learn from them or because of them. And I hope those lessons will help us all.

I am currently staring down the barrel of my first-year college students turning in their first drafts of papers. It’s a scary time for them and the deluge of panicked emails and text messages has already started. Students love asking me to “just one more time tell me what you want me to write for this essay.”

I’m ready for that deluge, though, because I am armed with my standard — and incredibly frustrating for them — response: I’m looking for whatever you want to give me. Continue reading

I Handwrote My First Novel & I Would Totally Recommend It

It’s been nearly a year and a half since I finished the first draft of my first novel My Dear Sophy. The whole process was amazing (the revising and editing afterward, not so much) from first jotting down notes to the detailed planning to throwing all of that planning out the window in the heat of writing the draft. It was probably the most fun creative thing I’ve ever done. Must have been because I have kept on writing since then!

Much of that fun I had so much of was due to something very important: I handwrote the whole thing. That’s right. I used my hand, a pen, and some notebooks to scratch out my first little book. Here’s what my tools looked like (hand included):

Now, when I mention that I handwrote the first draft, the general reactions go this way: Continue reading

Sexy Voice Saturday

This post is going to require some audience participation. But it won’t be difficult, I  promise.

I want you to think of THAT VOICE.

You know the one (or ones). We all have them. Those voices, male or female, that make shivers run up and down our spines. Those ones about which we declare, “I would listen to him/her read the phonebook!” The ones we imagine our heroes and heroines in books have. I’m currently working on a hero and I’m deciding what accent he will have. To me, this is a very important part of the process and demands A LOT of research… i.e. a lot of YouTube clips and movies showcasing some of the sexiest accents.

I’m partial to Northern English accents (think Sean Bean and Richard Armitage) and Irish accents (think Colin Farrell). And Kathleen Turner’s sultry voice (Jessica Rabbit, y’all) makes me jealous.

So, of course, a post about sexy voices needs some examples for your delectation, right? Below are some of my favorites, but I expect the comments section to be FULL of your favorites soon. 😉

Like this clip where Richard Armitage and some other sexy dwarves sing… (I’m a SUCKER for a baritone.)

Or Sean Bean reciting a poem…

Or a conversation between Irishmen Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson…

So what about you? What voices make you shiver? I expect a lot of examples in the comments!

Stop Checking Your Word Count

word count photoDon’t Check Your Word Count

Yes, you read that right.

Don’t check it.

Of course, now that I’ve said something, you’ll probably want to check it. But try to resist.

A few weeks ago I talked about using the improv rule “yes… and?” when you write as a means to push yourself into new places by letting your imagination go wild. Improv lets you experiment, lets you break boundaries that you might have consciously or unconsciously set for yourself.

Something else that I think you should try is not checking your word count on your first draft. Like, at all. Ever. Just don’t do it. Continue reading

Jane Austen’s Thoughts on Novels

“Romance” and “Chick Lit” novels have a bad name. Not because they are inherently bad books, but because the rest of the literary world looks down on them as something lesser. We have a cultural block about accepting romance, chick lit, women’s fiction, etc. as part of the legitimate publishing world.

Think about your romance novels… Do you hide them away? Do you call them a “guilty pleasure”? Do you limit yourself on how many you check out from the library? Do you get embarrassed going to the romance section in the book store?

Despite being far and away the biggest book market in the world — estimated at $1.368 billion in sales for 2011 compared to the next biggest genre “religion/inspirational” at $715 million or HALF of the romance genre — people still feel guilty about reading romance. (Source: Romance Writers of America: Industry Statistics) Continue reading