Books -- reading and writing.
Home, cooking, the weather.
And whatever connections I can make between these chapters of my life.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Are You Funny Enough?

I remember reading something once about encouraging a child's sense of humor. Helping them to be funny. Or funnier.

How absurd, I thought. Kids are funny as heck.
Well, the ones talking to/around me sure are.

But writing funny? That's hard.

If you're trying to add some humor to your writing, whether it's a serious or heartfelt or sad or poignant story, here are some tips.

First off, two words: Darcy Pattison.
Always listen to Darcy!

This is an article I've saved and reread a few time:
You can even follow her links to past posts for additional humor tips.
(I'm totally trying the running gag idea, HERE. )

More tips, via Writers Digest are HERE. 

And HERE for a list of funny words.
(I had to google wenis. I doubt I'll be using that word in a middle-grade novel.)

One of my favorite historical fiction middle-grade novels is TURTLE IN PARADISE. It's Turtle's voice that makes me smile. From page one:
"Everyone thinks children are sweet as Necco Wafers, but I've lived long enough to know the truth: kids are rotten."

A serious story, sure. But I smiled a lot.

Any fabulous tips you'd care to share that make stories laugh-out-loud funny? Or even smile-out-loud?  

Just to make your Monday a little lighter, I'll end with librarian humor.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Elvis Week Updated!

I almost missed marking it. Going on right now in Memphis.

Check it out, folks. Memorabilia for all! You con't have to be there to bid. 
 Just click on this link to go right to

Yes, I'd love a few Elvis collectables. I actually have a few mementos. 


You can read about my Elvis statue HERE.

Or read about my childhood crush on the king and my career as an Elvis impersonator  HERE.

(Some people just have all the fun. Elvis and his fans. 
At a truly memorable school visit in Pelahatchie, MS. )

And here's a short video. 
Look closely for ELVIS'S LITTLE HOUSE IN TUPELO near the end.

Just Another Boy
Thanks for the memories, Elvis. #ElvisWeek2015
Posted by Elvis' Tupelo on Sunday, August 16, 2015

Saturday, August 8, 2015

More Setting

Or maybe the title should be more ABOUT setting.

Goodness knows, I've blogged a few times about setting.

Just when I think I've got it figured out, I don't. Ever have that feeling?

Maybe I need a WORKSHEET.
Maybe I need a trip. Much as I love New Jersey, I could never set a novel for young readers here. Oh yes, we have our local color, but is it suitable for young eyes?

 (seen at the local deli)

And we have great food! But it's not food from my childhood. In fact, my children never cared much for NJ specialties so how could I possibly write about them.

(This is a Sloppy Joe. If you have never lived in NJ, it takes some explaining.)

Where a story takes place is almost as important to me as who is telling the story. That's why I've been noodling around to see what others have to say on the subject. I don't want to overdo the Spanish moss, the lizards, the pimento cheese.

Here's what I'm learning- I'll share a few links:

I love what Barbara O'Connor says about HOLES.
And she's said many things about setting over the life of her blog.

I have a tattered old notebook on a shelf with a few quotes from my favorite books: On the Road to Mr. Mineo's, for example.
("lazy days of summer stretch out before them like the highway out by the Waffle House" says more than most people could say in 3 paragraphs.)

And there's this: 
Or this:

Also in that notebook-
A great memory of the Writers in Paradise week with Ann Hood. I love #1.

A few notes:

In all writing, the focus should be right there at the beginning, in the first sentences. We should know where we are and what we are in for.

1. Picture sentences. Close your eyes. If you can't picture it, it needs help.
2. In non-fiction, use all the devices of fiction: dialogue, setting, character, action, climax, resolution.
3. Find a central metaphor (examples: knitting, fire), something that gives your story meaning. 

Okay, writer and reader friends. Can setting be overdone? Does it limit the audience, especially in books for young readers? Do you have tricks to share with the rest of us? How exactly do you bring your scenes alive?

Monday, August 3, 2015

Great Advice/ Happy birthday, Leo ladies.

Happy Birthday, fellow Leos!
Sue Monk Kidd, Kirby Larson, Liesl Shurtliff
and I almost share a birthday. And probably a whole bunch of others I'm leaving out.
(Leos should stick together. We are fierce.) 

I hope some of their Writer Mojo rubs off on me--
on all of us this month!

When I first read this, I shared it on my blog. 
Years ago.
Sharing again here. Great advice from a fellow August author.

The Ten Most Helpful Things I Could Ever Tell Anyone About Writing

(Thinking about Kidd's collages reminds me of my Pinterest boards. That's where I gather things to help my writing. I'm not much of a collage maker.)

One of my favorites from her list of helpful things:

Hurry slowly.
"Getting the pace of a story right keeps me up at night. I have a horror of sitting on a plane, next to someone reading my book, and seeing her flip over to see how many pages are left in the chapter. You want a reader so caught up in the spell of a story it would never occur to her to pull herself away and count how many pages she had to read before she could stop."