MyWANA Category Archive

What I learned at the SCBWI Conference

The first thing I learned was how very, very similar we all are! There are so many of us out there, taking the same journey. It was an incredible amount of fun to make new friends and meet old ones.

I stayed with my critique partner Janice Foy while in Atlanta.

A few more of the amazing people I met. Unfortunately, none of these ladies are bloggers! Get on it girls! 🙂

I also had the privileged of meeting Jaye and Mary Ann. It was crazy meeting people I blog and tweet with. It’s such a small world! (Hope you don’t mind I stole your picture, Jaye 🙂

From Kirby Larson, I learned: Don’t be afraid to take big risks. There is a certain amount of uncertainty we all must have when we’re writing and we can’t be afraid of where that might take us. Kirby was an amazing keynote speaker and this message stuck with me through the entire weekend

From picture books, I learned (from Mary Kole): -Cut what doesn’t fit in the heart of your book. This was stated for picture books since the word count is so low, but I’m finding it completely applicable for my own 80k MS. Cut what doesn’t fit.
-Never strike the reader over the head with the moral. I heard this and immediately went to cut a few paragraphs that had been bothering me. I finally figured out, they were bothering me because I was far too blunt. Delete. Delete.
-Have a rich emotional arch, emotions are the glue that hold plot together.

On Dialogue (from Kristin Daly Rens): -Edit out anything that isn’t essential to the plot. Don’t use dialogue as a crutch for info dumping, to lengthen a scene or say instead of show.
-Dialogue always needs to move the story forward in some way. It can contribute to characterization, be used as a plot device, or to set a scene, but it always must be significant.
-Don’t overuse dialogue tags (woops. Another delete. Delete. moment for me)

On the Slush Pile (from Mary Kole): -Query 10-20 agents in the 1st round. Fix anything that needs fixing and send out to another 10-20 in the second.
-Be sure to follow agencies guidelines
-Ask yourself these questions when doing your agent search: What is important to you for your relationship? Don’t just pick the first agent that offers, be sure they are the right fit for you.
-The goal of the query is to get an agent to take notice. The manuscript is infinitely more important- the query cannot break you. Use the query to get the agent to your (hopefully perfected) MS.
a)isolate your hook- it’s your selling point
b)who is your audience? Find the right comparitive titles
c) be brief and professional, have a short bio but mostly focus on the project
d)a good idea and good execution is enough
-Make the agent care
a)who is your character?
b)what is the inciting incident
c)who/what do they want most?
d)who/what is in their way? The Obstacle
e)What is at stake?

On Writing a Thriller (from Greg Ferguson): (Yep, I’m totally going to write a thriller after listening to this 😉
-Must have non-stop action, dangerous situations where the protagonist is in grave danger, hair-raising suspense and a heroic character

On the First Page: On Saturday night, Mary Kole, Greg Ferguson and Krisin Daly Rens read multiple first pages and gave their insights on if the first page worked, or not. Here’s what I learned:
-The first page must be grounded in the world
-It must have specific cues as to the world it’s in and the main character
-Do you have your opening line or a opening line?

On Plots (from Kristin Daly Rens): -The opening must grab the reader and must not let go. It must make a promise that is kept through to the end.
-Don’t do too much in the beginning. All you need is the hook to lead on.
-Introduce the MC, central conflict and know what is to come ->make that promise
-Your reader should be able to begin reading and understand what’s going on without dropping back story on them.
-Begin with action that moves the story forward with momentum and tension, but do not have action that confuses your reader.
-As you continue with your story, make every word, scene, dialogue count. Continuously up the ante. Test scenes with the question, “What purpose does this serve?”
-Make sure you keep the promise you made in the beginning scenes. Again, test each chapter and scene to see if tension is increased? How have things changed for your MC? Be ruthless 🙂

Massive TBR List (only titles, I haven’t looked up the authors)
I Heart Killers
Spanking Shakespeare
All Alone in the Universe
The Disenchantements
The Madman’s Daughter
Fat Vampire
Through to You
13 Reasons Why
Bad Girls Don’t Die
Blood on my Hands
The Butterfly Clues
Dark Divine

p.s. I’m sorry this post took a week to get posted. It was a lot to soak in and I hope I’ve been able to pass on at least a little to you!

Beware the Weak Heroine

One of my biggest pet-peeves in writing is the weak heroine and the shallow love story.

When I was in middle and high school Amelia Atwater-Rhodes  and Tamora Pierce were my favorite authors because they got it. They got that I didn’t want to read about sniveling girls who were struck dumb by every boy who glanced sideways at them. I didn’t want to read about girls like that because I was a girl like that. I wanted to read about heroines who took control, who fought hard and didn’t have brains that frequently stopped working. I wanted to read about girls who showed me how to be who I wanted to be. These were the girls I day-dreamed of becoming.

If you haven’t read any of Amelia’s work, go read them. Now. Demon in my View. (Amelia did vampires long before the fad and she did it much, much better). Hawksong. Shattered Mirror. You can not go wrong with any of her books. Same with Tamora Pierce. For many years, I idolized Alanna.


When younger, in the YA ‘age zone.’ I dreamed of falling in love, but I got something. I understood that love wasn’t it. Love wasn’t everything. All of the books I have deemed worthy of keeping (some that I’ve had since elementary school) have female main characters who are willing to pass up love for something greater.

Sabriel. Yalena. Opal. Jessica. Alanna. Mary. All great examples of this.

Strength. Spunk. Fight. Soul.

The shallow love story? I don’t believe it. I have never believed it because even before experiencing love, I knew the shallow stuff would never, ever last more than the two seconds spent in the story. I knew that the girl, plus love, plus boy did not equal overcoming all evil. (Yes, this is real math. Girl+love+boy ≠ conquer evil). There has to be something in the girl before the love that makes her strong.

Yes, I know this is all personal taste. I know love is something to aspire to and it is beautiful, wonderful, make-you-throw-up incredible. I absolutely concede these things.

But please, authors, don’t write a heroine who, if she read her own book, would be ashamed of her actions and ask herself, Why? Why was I such a goon over that boy and completely passed by the rest of the world? Write a character who would be proud of herself. Write a character little girls can aspire to be.

Writer a heroine who is the hero: flawed, yes, but strong and courageous despite those failings, willing to persevere and overcome her own weaknesses.

Of course, she should be willing to bend herself to love and let love make her greater, make her better, make her able to relent to the goodness love brings. But take the inherent strength in your heroine and let love make that strength all the more powerful. That is when love is believable.

Love can not create strength from nothing. If you try to convince your reader of this, they will see straight through it.

Lies do not become us.

Write a heroine/hero who is capable of great things both with love and without it. If you can do this, then you will have a great character on your hands.

(I will not be posting an audiobook review tomorrow. I only made it through two discs of Wither before I quit. Go for the read on this one folks, not the listen).


An Army of Santa’s

This is how Santa delivers all those toys in one night. Quite frankly, it doesn’t make sense; there just has to be more than one of him.

Santa Sleighs!

Don’t you wish you worked with me?? 😉 You’d get one of these if you did. I’ve been making candy cane santa sleighs since early highschool and they’re always a hit.

All you need is a glue gun, some candy canes, other random candy (I like to mix up the chocolate with something fruity, hence the Reese’s/Laffy Taffy/Hershey’s) and a santa shaped chocolate (I get mine from the dollar section at Target). Glue ’em together and Tada! You’ve got yourself a Santa Sleigh!

Merry Christmas!!

I Challenge You!

to think of something brilliant for me!

I sit all day at work and am not naturally a person who can do this. I like to walk and exercise and have the freedom to move when I want to. I LOVE my job, but unfortunately, in my position, I can’t do these things.

My fix for this is that I walk the back stairwell on my break and do little leg lifts under my desk. I’ve racked my brain and have come up with few other useful ideas.

My challenge to you is to think of useful workouts I can do at my desk, nothing noticeable, but something to keep me from going stir crazy. Extra points for thinking of something I can do for my core.

For incentive, I’ll send one of my cool hand-made journals to whoever comes up with the best/most helpful idea.

Fun challenge? Yes? Have at it! And good luck 😉

(Winnings is only for those in the U.S. Sorry 🙁  The Challenge ends Friday).

Warm Fuzzies Week #2

Thank you to everyone who participated in the first week of the Warm Fuzzies Blogfest. It’s been fabulous getting to know more of you blogger writers out there!

This week, we’ll cater to those of us who are completely possessive over our WIPs and don’t want to give anything too telling away. Instead of posting something intimate about our writing, post a picture or piece of music that describes your WIP.

What do you look to when you write? What inspires you? How else do you use your creativity? Music? Pictures? Art?

I go to nature when I need a shot of inspiration. My muse tends to hang out in state parks. But since I can’t transform my blog into a forest, I’m going to post a picture that reminds me of my main character, Jacob- particularly his eyes.



Here is where the fun part comes in! Travel around and check out everyone’s post. In the comments section, make your best guess as to the theme of their WIP. The most creative guess will win one of these:


Lauren Schoener, better known as @CausticSoda on Twitter, has recently launched her awesome custom accessory line, known as CausticWear.   Lauren offers quality, hand-made hats, scarves, shawls, and jewelry, suited to each customer’s style and color preferences.  Her small business is already booming, so this may be your only chance to get one of these popular accessories for yourself! Whoever is drawn for this prize, will get a custom-made hat! (They’re amazing, I have one! :])

-This will be judged by someone (not me!) so don’t worry, I won’t play favorites. Although if I did, you all would end up winning. 😉

So, based on my picture, what do you think my WIP is about? And no cheating by heading over to my ‘books’ page 😉

The writerly-celebration prize for this week is a full blog makeover, valued at $100, by Janice Foy! Janice is an amazing young adult writer who loves to create unique, individual blogs in her spare time. She is offering a full blog makeover for one lucky winner. She will work one on one with the winner, over the course of a couple of weeks, to create the perfect blog for them.

Check out her website as well as her blog– I really can’t get over how gorgeous it is! You can also find her on Twitter @janicefoy

And again, doubly check out Saba’s site- she’s still giving away books to those who comment on her posts!

Please have all posts up by Friday 3p.m. (central time) and please use the linky-link below to connect directly to your Warm Fuzzies post.

Also, if you have posted on Twitter/Facebook/Google+ give yourself one point. If you blogged about the blogfest before it began, give yourself five lovely points. Write how many points you have at the bottom of your post and I will count that toward the prize for the week!