Writing Tip for Tuesday: The Secret of Settings

Let’s talk a little about setting.  And I do mean a little–a very little–because setting is not my forte. To my great disappointment, I am not a lyrical writer.  Try as I might, I cannot bring a sunset to life through prose.  I cannot describe a vista in terms so beautiful you’ll read with a lump in your throat.  And I simply can’t view the world of my book through the eyes of a poet.

Fortunately, I don’t have to.  Here’s why:

SETTING IS THE OPINION OF THE MAIN CHARACTER

Survey of Teen Readers

(I posted this on the Class of 2k11 blog today, but also wanted to post it here in case anyone doesn’t follow over there.  Some things are worth repeating) :-)

As a writer and an author, I’ve often wondered how teens pick the books they read.  And why.  And where.  I figured the best way to get answers was to go to the source.  So I did.  I enlisted the help of Sarah Andersen, a high school English teacher and huge supporter of YA literature.  Mrs. Andersen also runs a blog called YA LOVE at www.addicted2reading.wordpress.com.  Follow her there.  I do!!

Writerly Tip for Tues: A Rare Exercise

I’m not usually big on writing exercises.  For some reason, it never feels “productive” to me because it’s not tied to an actual story I want to tell.  I know that’s not the point of doing exercises.  But I’m also the girl who goes to yoga class and hates the end part where we just lay there relaxing.  Which, of course, is the key to the whole practice:  relaxing.

Writing Tip for Tuesday

If you’re a vegetarian, don’t write about cannibals.

Simple advice, but true.  Now, maybe you weren’t thinking of writing about cannibals–but what if they were the next big thing?  What if a blockbuster cannibal extravaganza just hit the bestseller list?

My point is that it can be very tempting to write about the latest and greatest trend in YA or MG fiction.  I’ve never been to a SINGLE conference (and I’ve been to many) where someone doesn’t ask an editor or agent what the trends are right now.  And everyone holds their breath, their pens poised over paper, ready to write down the answer.

First Sale Secrets: My First School Visit

Last Friday was Career Day at Centennial Middle School.  It wasn’t an event planned just for me, but it was a great opportunity to get up in front of some classes as an actual Author.

I did a 30-minute powerpoint presentation SIX times — for groups of about 30 students each.  I know I was there to give the “lesson” but I gotta tell you:  I learned a lot of different things.  Here are just a few, in no particular order.

Writing Tip for Tues: A Good Bad Guy

We can’t live without our bad guys.  Without them, our stories would be as bland as an Oreo without the cream filling.  So what makes a good bad guy?  Yes, he or she needs a certain amount of lowdown-nasty-awful-evil creepiness.  But I believe the worst bad guys are the ones who believe they’re doing it for the greater good.

A good bad guy doesn’t know he’s bad.

First Sale Secrets: Full Cover Art

Last week, my editor surprised me with the full cover art for my book.

When I say surprised, that’s really code for I AM CLUELESS.   Let me back-track a second.  Many months ago, I got a copy of my cover, followed by a copy of my book in ARC form (Advanced Reader Copy.)  Here it is:

Writing Tip for Tues: Strive NOT for Perfection

Perfection and I go way back.  It’s not a healthy relationship.  Perfection holds out her hand as if to give me a step up, and then when I can’t quite reach, she laughs and watches me stumble and fall.   I get mad, I get sad, and then I try again.  Like I said, it’s not a good relationship.  Which is why I’m sharing this tip for the day– in words more beautiful than I could come up with on my own.  I’m not usually a poetry girl, but thanks to my friend, Mary, for forwarding this one to me from The Writer’s Almanac. It’s perfect… :-)