Monday, November 19, 2012

Monday Musings: What's Next, Kekla?

If you've been following the blog here, you know that I am only in Miami temporarily. Today is my last day as Writer-in-Residence! This afternoon I am headed back home, which means this is my final post on the MiamiYAWriter blog.

What's next for me? Well, I have lots of writing to do!

For the past year I've been hard at work on a non-fiction book-- I'm going to buckle down and get the manuscript finished so I can turn it in to my publisher at the beginning of the new year. After that, I'll be working on THREE new novels, one right after the other. I'm looking forward to spending the spring with my fingers flying over the keyboard! Writing is hard work, but for me it's also a lot of fun!

I've had a great time in Miami, and I'm so pleased to have been your Writer-in-Residence. Everyone who came to a writing workshop, or stopped by this blog, or waved hello to me in the halls of the library helped make my time here a little more special. Thanks to all of you for making it a wonderful experience!

Remember: If you like the tips and writing prompts and links I've been posting here, you may want to follow me at my WORD Conference blog. I'm not posting every single day over there right now, but I do post regularly and I post things that are similar to what you've seen here. I hope to see you there!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Friday Forum: Did you like this blog?

You know I love to hear your opinions on everything related to books and writing, but now I want your opinion of this blog.

Do you like it? Is there anything you don't like about it? How often have you stopped by? Did you have favorite posts? Favorite topics? Topics you wanted to see more or less of?

Remember: writers always need to be able to look at their work and think about how to revise and make it better. Blogging is part of my work as a writer. I want to know how I'm doing, and I won't be able to figure it all out unless you help me.

What do you think of this blog? Now's your chance to tell it like it is!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

WORD Conference

My time in miami is winding down, and so this blog will be ending very soon. I wanted to let you know where you can find me online, if you have enjoyed following my posts here.

My website is the easiest place to find me.

You can also follow my posts on my Facebook fan page.

I tweet (occasionally) as keklamagoon.

And I've really enjoyed blogging tips for young writers this fall, so I will continue to do so at my WORD Conference blog. I started that blog because some author friends and I hope to one day host a teen writing conference, but in the meantime, you can keep getting tips and links from me there.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Wednesday WordPlay: I Always Cry at Endings

Do you know yet how your story ends?
image: Barker

Some writers like to plan and outline and prepare every moment of their story before they actually start writing. Others like to fly by the seat of their pants, just sit down with a notebook and see what happens. There are very successful writers who do it both ways.

Most writing prompts give you something specific to start with. Today, let's mix it up. I'm going to give you three possible endings to a story that doesn't exist yet. Choose one, and work backwards. What happened right before? And right before that? And right before that? Write short scenes in reverse order.

Ending #1: As the ship crashed into the rocks, the girl leaped to safety, just in the nick of time.

Ending #2: He knelt on the sand, grateful to be alive.

Ending #3: They could no longer see land in the distance, not even the palest outline of the country they were leaving behind.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Monday Musings: What have you done in Miami besides write?

view from Key Biscayne lighthouse
Oh, my friends, I am having such a wonderful adventure! It's my first time in Miami, so I am seeing everything I can.

Most weekdays, I worked in my office at the library.
at the office

I hung out at Books and Books in Coral Gables.

I climbed the lighthouse at Key Biscayne.

I went to Key West.

Miami Beach
I biked through the Everglades.

I ate delicious food!
tostones, pollo, empanada and spicy sauce

Gelato wheel of fortune. Possibly the most enticing thing I have ever seen.
I ate ice cream in Miami Beach (and pretty much everywhere else I went!)

There's always time for a strawberry milkshake.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Friday Forum: What do you want to be?

Image: codrin
A while back, I told you I didn't know I was going to be a writer when I was younger. When I look back I can see that I always enjoyed writing--I just enjoyed a lot of other things, too.

One of the greatest things about writing is that you don't have to be a full-time, professional author (like me) in order to write. You can have any job or profession that interests you, and still write a lot. In fact, nearly every writer and author you've ever heard of has probably had many other kinds of jobs along the way.

What about you? Is writing just a fun hobby, or is it part of your career goals? What do you want to be when you grow up?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Teen Ink

Here's a site you'll definitely want to know about: TEEN INK.

Teen Ink is "a national teen magazine, book series, and website devoted entirely to teenage writing, art, photos and forums. Students must be age 13-19 to participate, register and/or submit work....We have no staff writers or artists; we depend completely on submissions from teenagers nationwide for our content."

Teen Ink has published work from more than 55,000 teens since 1989. WOW!

Teen Ink is sponsored by The Young Authors Foundation, which "is devoted to helping teens share their own voices, while developing reading, writing, creative and critical-thinking skills. All proceeds from the print magazine, website and Teen Ink books are used exclusively for charitable and educational purposes to further our goals."

What you'll find on site:
  • Submission guidelines for sending in your work
  • Tons of links to other resources for young writers
  • Forums and conversations
  • Poems, fiction and art
  • Polls and quizzes
  • Lots of ways to get involved
Check it out!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Wednesday WordPlay: He Said, She Said

Try writing a scene that consists entirely of dialogue.

He said:
She said:
He said:
She said:
He said:
She said:
He said:
She said:
He said:

See if you can convey everything your reader needs to know with the dialogue alone.

Next, rewrite the scene, adding dialogue beats. You may find that your dialogue changes. Try conveying some of your characters' thoughts through their actions or their observations instead of their words. Do your characters need to say as much, now that the reader can see more of what's going on?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Top Five Tips for Revising Your Work
When it comes time to revise your work, where do you begin? It's important to remember that almost nothing comes out perfectly the first time. It takes a lot of trial and error to find the words that work best to tell your story.

Here are some places to start with your revision:

1. Vary your sentence structure. Text is more interesting and more dynamic when it is unpredictable. It becomes quite boring to read a series of sentences that are very similar. Consider:

I walked into the store. The clerk smiled at me. He reached for his notepad. I said hello to him. He said hello back.


As I walked into the store, the clerk smiled at me. He reached for his notepad. When I said hello to him, he said hello back.

2. Circle your verbs. Make sure you have chosen the best action words in every sentence. Did your character speak, or did he declare? Did she climb the stairs, or dash up them? Did he lean against the wall or did he slouch? Small changes make a big difference in the way your scene reads. Vivid verbs help create a more vivid mental picture for your reader. Consider:

picked up vs. grabbed vs. snatched vs. plucked

ate vs. munched vs. chewed vs. gnawed

smiled vs. grinned vs. smirked

3. Watch your adjectives and adverbs. Do this, too, while you are focused on verbs. If your character "walked slowly," maybe he "plodded" instead. It is usually better to use a strong verb (dashed) than a weak verb plus an adverb (ran quickly). Consider:

whispered vs. said softly

sprinted vs. ran hurriedly

smacked vs. hit hard

4. Read out loud. Find a quiet room and read the piece aloud to yourself. If you're comfortable, read it out loud to someone. You will be surprised how different it seems from reading in your head. You will notice parts that are slow, or sentences that don't make sense. You can also catch moments when your word choices seem awkward, or untrue to your narrator's voice.

5. Try everything. Trial and error in revision is a very important process. If a possible change occurs to you, try it. Don't delete your old version, in case you change your mind, but do give the new sentence, paragraph or scene a chance. Who knows--even if it seems strange at first, you may end up loving it! If you don't, you can always go back to how it was before, and you'll feel more confident than ever in your creative choices.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Friday Forum: Writing Routines

Writers are creatures of habit, and once we find the places and tools that inspire us most, we tend to stick to them.

Do you have a spot you like to write? Are you a coffeeshop junkie? Do you hit the library? Is it the quiet of your own bedroom that inspires you?

Some of us type like our fingers are on fire, while others of us love the feel of a trusty old pen or pencil in our hands. Do you use a computer or a notebook for your writing?*

(*Okay, now it ooccurs to me that laptop computers are sometimes called notebooks...but hoepfully you know what I mean!)

Tell us about your writing routines!

Thursday, November 1, 2012


It's November 1, which means today's the start of National Novel Writing Month, affectionately referred to as NaNoWriMo!

During the month of November every year, writers of all stripes from all over the world come together to do what we love: Write, write, write!

NaNoWriMo participants set a goal of writing an entire 50,000-word novel (approximately 175 pages) from beginning to end in just one month's time. It's a huge challenge, but lots of people enjoy the community feeling of writing alongside friends.

When you join NaNoWriMo, you get to:
  • Choose a username for your account
  • Track your daily word count and upload your writing
  • Log in and chat with other writers for encouragment
  • Be part of an exciting movement of creative people who just want to write their hearts out
I've tried NaNoWriMo twice now, and I never made the 50,000 word goal. (I eventually finished my novels--just not in one month!) For me, it's still fun to try. Maybe for you, too.

Check it out!