Come see my webinar about Mastering the "Meet Cute" scene. We'll be reading examples and offering suggestions and tips. Sign up here: https://instituteforwriters.lpages.co/non-entrants-meet-cute-webinar-10-2017/
Writers are a creative bunch. But sometimes we need to jump start the creativity a bit. We need to flip a switch from our left brain to our right brain, so we can stop analyzing the sentences we’ve just wrote and start synthesizing them into a story.
Sometimes all it takes is a quick craft, like knitting or crocheting a dishcloth. Just the act of creating a simple, pretty and useful scrap of material is enough to start the creative process. My favorite dishcloth pattern is to take a ball of one of the variegated colors of sugar and spice brand cotton and a size seven needle. Cast on fifty stitches and knit until you have a dishcloth sized square. If I need a bit more challenge, I’ll knit the ball band pattern – which you can find with a quick Google search.
Or maybe the jewelry bug hits me. You can never have too many earrings, you know. So I’ll grab my ear wires, head pins, pretty beads and my tools and have a go. You just plop a bead on a head pin, trim the wire with the cutter, curve the wire into a loop, slide on the ear wires, and close the loop. Repeat for the other ear. YouTube has some great videos on how to do this.
But what if you can’t knit or don’t have the supplies to make earrings? You can get your Martha Stewart on in a few more ways. There’s baking. If you’re not into making something big from a mix, there are individual mug cakes you can make in the microwave. The basic recipe is three tablespoons of cake mix and two tablespoons of water. Mix together and nuke for one minute.
If you’re looking for a little variety or guilt free options, Hungry Girl has a bunch of cake mug recipes. http://www.hungry-girl.com/weighin/show/2279
Another way is to decorate a mantle or a little shelf. Decide on a theme. Holiday? Beach? Maybe something to do with your book? Clear out the space and design it from scratch. Add some mood candles and voila! Instant inspiration. You get bonus points if you have to use your glue gun!
If you’re a visual person, you can take some poster board and a bunch of magazines and flip through to find phrases that jump out at you. Glue them on the board along with pictures of people who could be your main characters or settings that they may find themselves in. When you need to describe a person or a place, use this board to help. It doesn’t even have to be that complicated, though. You can grab some crayons or colored pencils and channel your inner child. Go on Amazon and search for adult coloring books. There are a few *ahem* adult-adult ones, but the stained glass and the mandala books should allow you to play around with colors and make the designs pop out.
So what ways do you fire up your creativity?
You know what the most popular genre in fiction is, right?
Yep, romance fiction is the most popular adult genre, so there's a huge audience of people waiting for your romance story. And what does every romance novel have?
The “meet cute.”
Enter the Institute For Writers writing contest and make us fall in love with your characters by entering your irresistible “meet cute” scene.
Submissions will be judged on clarity, originality, potential in the market, interaction between the characters, and your ability to match standard manuscript format (double spacing, clear contact information, no creative use of fonts).
The winning entries in this Meet Cute contest will be announced at a live online workshop within 60 days after the contest closes. All contest entrants will be invited free of charge. (Non-entrants may attend for a nominal fee of $7.)
Best of all, I'm the judge! :D Hope to read your entries!
Sign up. Read. Fall in love. For a limited time get Six Hot reads FREE from best-selling and award-winning authors Cassie Mae, Cecy Robson, Christi Barth, Jamie K. Schmidt, Kate Meader, and Shana Gray.
Hurry, because this ends June 15th 2017
So I'm recovering from pneumonia and aside from a tired feeling, I'm doing pretty well. My recovery, though, has just reinforced how much I love tea.
Now that I'm back in the office at my day job, I decided to bring in a mini tea pot all the sampler teas that I've collected over the years.
Yes, my desk is that messy. It's the sign of genius I'm told. Well, not really told. I'm sure I saw it on the internet somewhere and that means it must be true.
Anyway, I had this adorable little bag from David's Tea that would be perfect for my sipping.
I had the first cup hot and then appropos to my day, I never get second hot cup so they were "iced." These are supposed to be iced teas anyway. They're just as good hot, though.
In it were the following teas:
Caribbean Crush - Easily my favorite. I would drink this all summer long. The color is a beautiful red and it's an amazing flavor. Pineapple, papaya, and cranberries. Herbal.
Just Peachy - My next favorite. I'm excited about this one because I have a 2 oz package of this one at home. I'm going to make this into a pitcher this weekend. Apple, peach, blackberry. Herbal
Electric Lemonade - This is already one of my "must buy" teas. I buy this one by the pound and go through it in a week and have to save up to buy more. Lemon, apple, berries Yerba Mate
Coco Colada - Lovely. it did not taste like a pina colada though :D Pineapple, coconut, mano, apple hibiscus. Herbal.
I also have my old standbys: Bigelow French Vanilla, Celestial seasonings fruit teas, Harney & Sons' Paris and Blueberry Green tea, Republic of Tea's Red Velvet Chocolate and Cinnamon Plum.
Today, I'm sipping through sour watermelon, ruby red and sangria. But then this came in my email and I think I might have to take a trip to the store . . .
I’m so happy that spring is officially here. Now, I’m waiting for the thermometer to get with the program. Snowdrops are peeking their heads up, and I’m eagerly looking forward to seeing a rogue daffodil along the side of the road. But while March is going out like a lamb, I’m not looking forward to April showers – even if they do bring May flowers. (Do you know what May flowers bring? Pilgrims. You can thank my nine-year-old son for that joke.)
There are very few places that can bring me out of a funk, but one of them is a book store or a library. There’s just something about shelves and shelves of books that soothes my soul. I could get lost in the stacks for hours letting serendipity decide what I should look at next. That was how I discovered I have a deep love for cookbooks, even though I hate cooking. I could stare at pictures from the Civil War for hours and be transported back in time. I also like crawling on my hands and knees to check out the bottom shelves because you never know what hidden gem you’ll find there. My local library was also where I found out that non-fiction books aren’t all boring and dry. I’ve found new craft projects to try and have laughed along with a comedian’s biography. I have a couple of favorite book stores, some independent and one large chain. The independents have reading nooks. One has overstuffed chairs and a café. Another has a little bench and shelves just at children’s height.
My absolute favorite bookstore in Connecticut is the Book Barn in Niantic, CT http://www.bookbarnniantic.com/. It is on a large piece of property with many little houses and sheds. Each house/shed is devoted to a different genre. While you’re in the romance section, don’t be surprised if a cat crosses your path. The book barn is home to many tame cats, and the last time I was there some penned in goats and chickens as well. My favorite sign was the Beware of Dog one when I opened up the door to the main building. There, sprawled across the floor was an elderly, fluffy Labrador mix. I looked up at the clerk in puzzlement, “Is he friendly?” Because he really looked like he couldn’t care less. “Oh yes,” she said. “Watch out you don’t trip over him.”
More local to me is Barnes & Noble. I have always liked them, but I’m thrilled that they’re keeping merchandise fresh by offering toys and gifts. As much as I like the Dr. Who memorabilia and the Magic Cards, I’m drawn to their office supplies. Unlike Staples – which I love to be set loose in as well, Barnes & Noble has a more comfortable and inviting feel to their stationary section. I’m a sucker for journals and stationary, even though I have more than enough of both to last me several years. My fingers itch for a new journal when I’m feeling low. I always want to buy one and go into the Starbucks café and order something decadent and caffeinated and spend the rest of the day filling up my pretty new book with stories.
When you prepare your manuscript to submit to an agent or an editor, you want to have it in a standard format. Here is a common example:
Font: Times New Roman, 12 point, 1" margins
Top left of the page, put your real name, (If you're writing under a pen name, the next line put Writing As Pen Name), your address, phone number, e-mail.
Top right of the page, put word count.
Center Title a few lines down from that with your byline
Indent paragraphs (I just use the tab button)
Inner dialogue is in italics
Other dialogue is it's own paragraph, indented five spaces.
This blog might also help. Nathan used to be a literary agent and he's fun to read and really knowledgeable.
But before you submit the manuscript, make sure it shines. Some common things to watch out for are:
Avoid Repetitive words
Do a Find for all the throwaway words like "so" and "look". Do a search for "lY" and see if all the adverbs you have are necessary. A lot of times they can be deleted or replaced with a stronger verb.
Show, don't Tell
To bring your reader into your world, you have to let them figure out things by describing them. This website has a good example: http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/show-dont-tell.aspx
Start the beginning off with a hook
This website has some good ideas, just click the ad so it goes away and you can read them. http://writeitsideways.com/6-ways-to-hook-your-readers-from-the-very-first-line/
Avoid cliches like the plague (grin)
You can get away with using one of these (maybe), but not all of them.
Make the Dialogue Count
Your dialogue has to add something to the story. Make sure it's not ho-hum throw away conversations like we have in real life: "Hi." "Hi." "What's up?" "Nothing. Hanging in. How about you?" "OK." etc. While that's how real people talk, you miss an opportunity to add to the story. Here's an essay by a hilarious funny man, Chuck Wendig, with a potty mouth about dialogue. Read with a grain of salt and If you're easily offended, don't read it.: http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2010/02/08/characters-make-talky-talky-how-to-write-dialogue-that-doesnt-suck-moist-open-ass/
Another informative post is http://fictionwriting.about.com/od/crafttechnique/tp/dialogue.htm, but it's not as funny :D
That's all I saw on a quick pass. If you would like me to edit more in depth, I can. Reformat it and make some changes and I can go over it with a red pen and make it stronger and tighter.
There's a couple of websites that are great for beginning authors. My favorite site is:
Their Bewares and Backgrounds forum is invaluable for finding out which publishers aren't scam artists and making a good decision on where to send your work. The also cool part is once you've posted fifty times, you can post your work for critique. Their Query Letter Hell forum is both informative and brutal. You really need a thick skin to post their, but it's sooo worth it for the feedback you get out of it.
They also have market information and when you're ready you can use their site to track the manuscripts you send out.
If you don't think you can write a novel, go here! There's a lot of good information and a November challenge to get you started writing.
In Beach Happens, Michaela is on a mission to taste every malasada in Hawaii.
Malasadas are a fried doughnut made from a Portuguese recipe. They can be made just by being rolled in sugar or stuffed with cream or jam. In addition to some restaurants and shops, they're also sold as fundraisers and at the side of the road. Who doesn't like fried dough, right?
When my family went to Maui, we tried them from a restaurant named Zippy's. They were with choke sugar (choke is Hawaiian slang for a lot of!) The ones pictured above are the Italian version, called zeppoles from the Olive Garden. The dipping sauces are raspberry jelly and chocolate. YUM!. The Maui malasadas were gone before I could take a picture! But they looked like these only puffier.
One of the most famous recipes for malasadas comes from Leonard's Bakery in Hawaii. He very generously gave Saveur magazine the recipe and you can find it here.
Michaela has a deep reason why she is obsessed with the yummy doughnuts. You can read all about it in the second book of the Hawaii Heat series, Beach Happens.
Barnes & Noble