Wednesday, May 9, 2012

New Location

Hello, friends!  I have so much more I want to share with all of you, fabulous authors lined up to share their books and lots of great writing activities for creative fun.  Since we've had such an awful time with Blogger not allowing your comments to publish, we are moving all the fun over to a brand new site:

So, please mark our new location and come check out what's next.  You won't want to miss a single post! 

Friday, May 4, 2012

Free Book Friday with S.M. Boyce

S. M. Boyce is sarcastic, gooey, and laughs too much, but her friends seem to hang out with her anyway. She's also a fantasy author and novel editor who recently published her debut novel, The Grimoire: Lichgates. It's the first in a young adult fantasy adventure series called The Grimoire Trilogy.
Hey gang! Thanks for having me today. I wanted to talk about two important factors in any writer’s life: writer’s block and story ideas.

I’ve hit road blocks plenty of times while writing. Over the years, I tried writing through writer’s block, writing stream-of-consciousness journals to get the gunk out, and watching TV instead of writing anything at all. None of these techniques really worked—for me.

The thing with writer’s block is that it’s different for each person. How you overcome it is all going to depend on your creative style. That’s exactly what you wanted to hear, right? Haha. Well, the good news is that I have some ideas for helping you figure out how to overcome writer’s block.

All you have to do to get some ideas of your own is to Google “overcome writer’s block.” Every writer I’ve ever met has encountered it at some point, and it’s a popular subject. The downside is that sorting through the endless pages can actually add stress, instead of easing your worry.

So let me tell you what works for me.

Before I even write a chapter, I plot it out. Sometimes, I go so far as to add dialogue, which gives me an idea of the characters and how they will interact in this particular chapter. That way, even if I don’t feel like writing or don’t know what to write, I at least have a place to start. Often, the inspiration comes back to me if I re-read the plot outline I made.

Other times, I have to get out of the house. I spend a lot of time in my office, and spending too much time in your creative place can actually stifle creativity. So I’ll walk the dog in the nearby woods, or go for a short drive. Getting some fresh air can get those creative juices flowing again.
A very popular method of getting over writer’s block is actually to start a writing journal. There are two kinds I’ve heard of.

The first writing journal is a daily journal. Every morning, as soon as you wake up, you write non-stop for ten minutes. Just go. Whatever you want. You can even write “um, um” until you come up with something. The point is that you’re writing and “cleaning out the cobwebs” so to speak. This one doesn’t work for me, but it has helped many writers I know.

The second writing journal is the one I keep. It’s a whenever-journal, one I keep close for when I get spurts of inspiration. Sometimes I just write a character sketch, or a line of dialogue. Other times, it’s an entire story idea. That’s how the Grimoire Trilogy came to be.

Whatever you do, keep a pen and paper with you at all times. You never know when inspiration is going to strike.

I heard once that you become a master at something after practicing the art for 3 hours over ten years. So never stop writing! It just takes time, practice, and a bit of patience.

What’s your favorite way of overcoming writer’s block? Share in the comments!  One lucky reader will win a FREE ebook copy of The Gimoire: Lichgates.  Don't forget to share this link with your literate friends.  Just click one of the buttons below the post.

Grab Your Copy of Lichgates

Connect with Boyce

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Writer's Life: Sick Days

Sometimes you are going to find yourself too sick or tired to string words together. For instance, that sentence just took me five minutes of typing, editing and retyping.

I'm taking a sick day. When my cold medicen kicks in, I will probably read a book like Dragonfriend by Roger Eschbacher so that I can blog about it in a week or two.

Why don't you read a good book, too? May I suggest one? Oh! I already have! Scroll through the blog and choose a few. Can't afford books? Enter to win The Grimoire by S.M. Boyce.

Not in the mood to read someone else's awesomeness? Why don't you try out one of our writing exercises? Grab a notebook and a pen and get busy creating your own awesome. Or, you could play "Find the typos" in this Sick Day post.

Go ahead, write amongst yourselves. I'll just lie here and sniffle.

Gotta Kleenex,

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Gotta Read: The Grimoire: Lichgates

The Grimoire: Lichgates by S.M. Boyce

This week’s book is one that I could NOT put down.  Not only was it mesmerizing as a reader, but it inspired me as a writer.  Maybe it is because parts of it remind me of my own personal work.  Or, perhaps it is the detailed and beautiful world-building.  It certainly had something to do with the depth she infused into her characters.  From the beginning of this book, I was smitten.  By the end I was reaching for a pen to rewrite scenes in my own work, in the hopes of capturing some of the energy and beauty for myself.

The story begins with a young woman, Kara, hiking through the forest in the northern Rockies when she unexpectedly passes through a Lichgate, a magical doorway into a hidden part of our world.  She discovers a powerful book, the Grimoire, and finds herself entangled in a dangerous web of political intrigue, deadly secrets, and racial war.  Guided by a dangerous prince who must live in constant disguise, she is never certain who she can trust.  As everything that matters to her is stripped away, she must take on a new identity and find a way to promote peace in a world determined for war.

My Thoughts
Sounds awesome, right?  It is!  This book is full of action from the very beginning.  There are deadly creatures at every turn and Kara struggles to stay just one step ahead with little to guide her in this dangerous place.  It will keep you turning pages, believe me!  

The characters are just as detailed as the many and various creatures.  Imagine different races that are not only distinct in their appearances, but in their abilities and how they live.  Can they ever learn to respect one another and work together?  Must they always fight and consider each other enemies?  I adore what Boyce has done with the prince in this story, Braeden.  As if it isn’t fabulous enough that he lives in constant disguise, hunted by his own father and feared by all others, he softens for Kara, showing a side of himself, and his kind, that none believe to exist.  I think even he is surprised by it.  How incredible it is that Boyce is able to convey all of that to us in a way that feels as though we are discovering Braeden as he is discovering himself.  Wonderful work!

Watch this author, friends.  Her sequel, Treason, is expected to come out this summer.  I am on pins and needles for this one.  I can hardly wait to see what happens next to Kara and Braeden.  Will they finish their quest or die trying?  

Where to Get It

Just click on the format of your choice!
Amazon Kindle 
Amazon Print
Barnes & Noble
The Grimoire Trilolgy site

Want More?
The author of The Grimoire will be here on Friday to share with us her tips for fighting writer’s block and how to gather new story ideas.  The best part: she'll be giving away one FREE ebook. Just leave a comment below to be entered to win. Winner will be announced on Monday. Use the buttons below to share this with friends and come back for more on Friday.  You won’t want to miss this!

Gotta Read,

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Story Starter Tuesday

If you joined us yesterday for a little writing exercise, then you are gonna rock this! 

The pencil groaned as she looked down at the paper below her.  "Not again," she whined inwardly as her lead scratched the surface of another clean sheet.  "Can't we ever write something else?  All we ever write are..."

Gotta write,

Monday, April 30, 2012

Writing Exercise: Inanimate Perspective

***Congratulations to Amy B! She won the Barnes and Noble gift card prize from Sarah Treu! Watch on Wednesday for a new book giveaway!***

Did you ever imagine your toys were secretly alive? Dozens of well-loved books (The Velveteen Rabbit) and movies (Toy Story) make me think I wasn't alone in this childhood fantasy. Well, now that you are a little bigger, let's use that imagination to help you become a better writer.

Writing Exercise: Look around the room. Choose one object and imagine that it could tell you it's thoughts.

Ask yourself the following questions: What did it see today? How does it feel? Does it like it here? Does it enjoy it's "job"? What does it dream of doing? If it could escape, where would it go and why?

I'm sure you can think of more questions to ask your chosen item. Now, write a short story from its perspective. Tomorrow, come back to try our Tuesday Story Starter and you'll be glad for the practice.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Free Book Friday

This week I was delighted to share with all of you one of my youngest daughter's favorite books, Investigator Anne.  Today we have the pleasure of hearing from the author and illustrator, Sarah Treu.   

Hi everyone!

I’m so glad I have the opportunity to share a few thoughts with you about writing. I am an author and illustrator of children’s books. I do all of the writing and create all of the pictures for my books. I have written and illustrated a variety of books, from preschool picture books to the early level chapter book series that my husband and I are currently working on. The series, “Investigator Anne,” is about a young girl who solves mysteries around her town. She enlists the help of her siblings and friends who are known as the Gumshoe Crew. In each mystery, the crew makes discoveries about the world around them and learns scientific principles. With a little creativity and team work, they solve exciting mysteries in their own neighborhood.

My husband, Mark, and I both love to write. We write for fun and draw our inspiration
from the experiences we have in our own world. We have five amazing young kids and
they provide us with a lot of inspiration and ideas. They even give us feedback from time
to time. Feedback from kids is important when you are writing for children!

My husband and I started daydreaming about this series a few years ago when our oldest daughter, Anne, became very interested in science, learning and discovery. She was always the one we would ask to help when a ballet slipper needed to be found, or when someone wanted to know what kind of animal prints were in the backyard.

Mark and I love to travel and take family road trips. Many times we will brainstorm story ideas while we drive, and I’ll jot down notes. Later we’ll organize the plot development and begin the first draft of writing. I usually do that. Once the first draft is written, Mark will go through it and write, rewrite, and refine. One of the most important things to know about writing is this simple rule: There is no such thing as good writing, only good rewriting. So we rewrite, rewrite, and rewrite. Once the
story is at a good finishing point, I create the illustrations and format the book. We’ll
then send it to an editor for a final look. Once the book is complete, we self-publish it
through our publishing name, Angel Street Kids Books. You can find all of our books on

Investigator Anne continues to be in the Barnes & Noble top 10 for its age category. I’m
honored to have it be featured right next to the Magic Tree house and the Flat Stanley
books. I am so thrilled when kids write to me to say how much they have enjoyed my
books. I hope you enjoy them too!

Writing and illustrating a book is a big project, but the key is to just do it. Sometimes the
hardest part is just getting started because maybe you’re not sure exactly where to begin.
My recommendation is to just start writing down all of your ideas and then organize
them. Write some more, then write and rewrite. It will come together, just keep going.

Another thing I’ve found is that writing doesn’t just happen at the computer. I write from
what I observe in the world around me. I write in my head and I draw in my head too.
I begin to see things as stories and pictures and pages in a book inside my head before
they are ever in a real book. The ideas form in my head while I’m watching my kids at
the park, when I’m on a bike ride, or when I’m doing anything else. Keep writing even
when you don’t have a pencil, and then when you do get a hold of a pencil write down
everything! My own daughter loves to write in her head too. Once when I told her to
practice the piano, she replied in third person: “Okay, she said sighing.” LOL! Now
that’s a girl who’s always writing a story.

Writing is fun! If it gets stressful, take a break and go for a run or go dig in the sandbox
for a while. But whatever you do, don’t give up, go back to your writing again. You will
feel great satisfaction by completing a writing piece and making it the very best that you
can. Happy writing!

Your friend,
Sarah Treu

***Want to win Sarah's books for FREE?  Just leave a comment below.  The winner will be announced on Monday and will recieve a $10 gift card to Barnes & Noble.  If you are coming to us from Facebook, you will have to leave the Facebook app and come back to us from your browser in order to post a comment.  Be a good friend and share this with your book-loving pals.***