Your Favorite Books About Writing

August 15, 2013

Quick blog post today.

I was going through my bookshelves, looking through all my writing books (this happens every time I get a new idea for a story, by the way).

I thought I'd share some of my favorites.

First, I want to point out that Stephen King's On Writing, and Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird are some of the best writing books out there. I just didn't include them on my list because they're pretty much a given. They're probably at the top of every writer's must-read list. If you haven't read them, you need to.

As for my other top picks:

A Novel in a Year by Louise Doughty 

How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy by Orson Scott Card 

AND Elements of Fiction Writing - Characters & Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card

First Draft in 30 Days by Karen Wiesner 
AND From First Draft to Finished Novel, by Karen Wiesner

How NOT to Write a Novel by Howard Mittelmark

By the way... if JK Rowling, Steven Moffat or Joss Whedon ever write a book on writing, you better believe I'll be pre-ordering that baby on Amazon with overnight shipping!

How about you? What are your go-to writing books for guidance and inspiration? What author(s) do you wish wrote a book on writing?

Stephen King Says

Deciding to Write a Novel

August 11, 2013

When someone asks at what point I decided to write a novel, I wish I had a more compelling story. 

I could say that I've been writing stories since before I could write (I drew comics. Don't laugh. It's true). I could say I've always been a lover of stories, and so of course I was always destined to write a novel. 

picture from stydrobrug120

But the truth? The embarrassing--I-can't-believe-I'm-telling-you-this-truth--is that my husband and I were talking one evening, after a long day at work. I don't even remember how the topic came up, but he suddenly says, "I think we should each write a novel." And I, very eloquently replied, "Yeah! Let's do it!" 

We went to Borders (may it ever rest in peace) that very evening and bought a couple of books on how to write novels. 

Seriously. That's what happened. That's how and when I started writing my first-ever novel. 

Like I said, I wish I had a more poetic, inspiring story about how I got into writing. But... I don't. I really have been writing stories since I was a youngin,'  so writing's always been a part of my world. But the truth is I just decided to write a novel one day. And so I did. I spent months planningorganizing and excel-sheeting my story outline. Two years later, I had a shiny, polished manuscript that I was proud of. 

I had no idea that one decision would change my life, transforming my writing from just a hobby to a pursuit of a professional career.

How about you? When did you decide to write your first novel? Do you consider your writing to be a hobby or something more? 

If I Could Borrow Talent from Any Author, It Would Be...

August 10, 2013

I write fantasy/adventure stories that walk the line between middle grade and young adult. (For those of you who aren't familiar with MG and YA or aren't sure what the difference is, check out these articles here, here, and here.)

It's probably not surprising that MG/YA fantasy is my favorite genre to read. And it's often had me wondering which authors would I like to resemble, if I could. Now, don't mistake me. I don't actually want to try to "steal" another authors voice and attempt to write just like them. First of all, it's impossible. Every writer has their own unique voice and you can't steal someone else's. Secondly, I want to find my own voice and watch it grow and transform all on it's own (well, with a little help from me, I suppose). 

BUT, as writers, I do think we are absolutely influenced by the books we read. I believe we are constantly learning other authors, especially our favorites. 

And so, if I could write like any author, who would it be? What I'm really asking is which authors have touched me the most? Which ones made me laugh, cry, dream, believe? Because let's be honest, if I could just borrow a pinch of their writing magic, eat it for breakfast, only to find their talent leaking out onto my latest manuscript the next morning... well, wouldn't that be awesome?

So, just for fun: if I could choose a handful of authors to write like, I would pick:

J.K. Rowling. 
Duh. I don't think this choice needs much of an explanation. She's the most talented and successful author of our time. She writes YA fantasy. She's brilliant. No one will ever touch the hearts of readers on such a massive scale, the way she did. End of story. 

Rick Riordan
Any list of top MG fantasy books has Mr. Riordon's name on it. He's the master at delivering humor, heart, and non-stop adventures galore. Plus, Greek Mythology. He's fantastic and he's a former teacher, which gives him extra points!

Madeleine L'Engle
I read A Wrinkle in Time in Elementary school, and I remember just falling in love with the characters (Oh, Charles Wallace!) and the worlds they found themselves in. It is beautiful and brilliant, and it will whip your imagination in to shape! 

Patricia C. Wrede.
She's actually the reason I fell in love with fantasy. I read her "Dealing with Dragons" series in second grade, and my imagination has never fully recovered. She kept me laughing through the entire series (which, by the way is about a tomboy princess who runs away from the castle to go live with dragons). I owe her much.

There are, of course, many other amazing kids fantasy authors out there (C.S. Lewis, John Flanagan, Christopher Paolini, Eoin Colfer... I could go on) but the above mentioned authors are my absolute favorites in the kid fantasy realm. 

So how about you? What genre(s) do you write, and which authors would you gladly borrow some talent from, if you could? 

These Are Your Kids on Books

Stop Clubbing, Baby Seals! - Why Punctuation Makes a Difference

August 1, 2013

Right now, I'm having my husband (also a HS English teacher) look over my manuscript. While I have an okay eye for grammatical mistakes, to him, the errors jump off the page. And although I am SO grateful to have his help (really, I am) it makes me kind of want to... punch grammar in the face. I mean, really, does it matter that much if I'm dangling a modifier or two, or splitting the infinitive every so often? Do I have to spend hours, days, weeks making sure each word is in its place?

The answer is yes. 

Through my exhaustion of late-night edits (and re-edits) I am reminded that punctuation is important. My hard work and effort will pay off should my manuscript reach the eyes of literary agents who are considering it for representation. 

And besides, without correct grammar and punctuation, this can happen:

And this:

And, finally... this:

So there you go. No clubbing baby seals, cooking your dog, or eating grandma in your novel! :)

Happy editing to you all.