Thursday, September 30, 2010

Um... Wow!

From Goodreads: Elizabeth never intends to fall in love with fiery preacher John Costin---especially considering that in Restoration England, he'll likely end up in prison. But she is determined to care for his children. Will a simple housekeeping job lead to love---and more danger than she ever counted on?


Jody Hedlund is a familiar part of our blogging circle. Her posts are wise and always full of valuable writing and life lessons. We've waited with her - cheering her every step of the process - for her debut book's release. And now it's here.


I loved this book. Truly. Madly. Deeply. In fact, I know that I cannot possibly do it justice in this review - forgive me, Jody. Your book deserves to be praised loudly from high places! Seriously.

So...why did I love it?
First, the storyline is beautiful and powerful and real and utterly compelling. The characters are alive - they live and breathe on the page.

The writing is superb, the words lyrical. I was enthralled, both as a reader and a writer.

I caught the "writer me" thinking things like,
Oh, Jody, that was brilliant or Wow. That was the most beautiful butterfly metaphor I've ever seen. How did you do that? Oh. So. Beautiful.

The "reader me" lay awake long after I should have been sleeping, savoring the story like rich chocolate.

Whether you are a fan of Christian fiction, Romance, YA, MG, Picture books, Mystery - whatever - I believe you will enjoy this book. It's about love and loss and life; and so are we.


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Save the Adverbs!

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

Sorry. I couldn't help myself. Longtime followers know of my adverb abuse problem, but be assured - I'm in therapy.

Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Have You Seen My...?

“I write down everything I want to remember. That way, instead of spending a lot of time trying to remember what it is I wrote down, I spend the time looking for the paper I wrote it down on.”
~Beryl Pfizer

Yesterday, I received a lot of recommendations to keep a notebook of ideas. Well, I have a few of them: one by my bed, one on my desk at school, one in my car. Um, if they are where they are supposed to be, that is.

I've read many posts about organization, and on every one of them I've commented that organization and I are not good friends. It's not that I don't want to be organized - I do. I really do. I just don't seem capable of it. Friends and family agree that God made me blond for a reason. That's also why I'm a pantser and not a plotter. Shannon + organization = total failure.

I do write things down, though. And if I'm lucky, most of the time I find them. Eventually.

What is your #1 tip for staying organized?

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Blank Page

If you haven't got an idea, start a story anyway. You can always throw it away, and maybe by the time you get to the fourth page you will have an idea, and you'll only have to throw away the first three pages.
- William Campbell Gault

The day we finish our stories, polish our queries, and actually enter query wars is HUGE for us. It is an emotional high, full of celebration and pride and a dash of terror. Then what?

I struggle with what comes next - a blank Word document waiting for a new idea. But...but...but...what if I don't have an idea? What if it isn't good enough? What if I can't develop strong enough characters this time, an interesting plot, a setting that says come in and stay a while?

It's time. I need to get past my apprehension and just do it. I envy those of you who have two or three books "growing" at the same time; who know exactly where to go next and how to get there.

How do you tackle the blank page after finishing a manuscript?

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Great Blogging Experiment

Whenever I spout off about the all-important need for great characters, someone invariably disagrees. True writing success, they say, lies not only in great characters, but in your ability to come up with a great plot and structure, compelling dialogue and so forth. And they aren’t wrong.

In fact, I couldn’t agree more. But the simple truth is this — and I’m not the first to say it: your characters define all those things. They are your story.

Even if you succeed in giving us a wonderful plot and structure, you’ve got nothing unless your characters jump off the page. In writing fiction of any kind, characters are everything. Everything.
~ Robert Gregory Browne

As you know, I approach everything through quotes. When considering a post on compelling characters, I would be remiss not to direct you to this article by Robert Browne at Casting the Bones. It is an article I have bookmarked and refer to often - one of my favorites. To be honest, I probably should have thought to share it with you sooner. Oops! But today's blogfest is the perfect opportunity.

To summarize for you, Mr. Browne lists some important qualities of character. For the full benefit of his article, though, you should seriously go read it!

He approaches character development like this:

  • Characters are Attitude
  • Characters are Emotion
  • Characters Must Have a Goal
  • Character is Action/Dialogue
  • You + Imagination ("Every character I write is me. From the hero and heroine down to that grocery store clerk, every single character I write is… me." - Browne)

Each of these elements is explained in further detail in the full article - here.

There are few writing topics that Elana, Jen, and Alex could have chosen that are more important than our characters. Like Robert Browne says, they are everything!

How about you - anything to add?

For more posts on creating compelling characters, check out the list of blogfest participants at Elana's blog - HERE.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

I Did What?!

Character gives us qualities, but it is in actions - what we do - that we are happy or the reverse... All human happiness and misery take the form of action.
~ Aristotle

During my last round of revisions, my CP (Valerie) alerted me to my overuse of words like felt, noticed, saw, thought, seemed. Well, that and my adverb sickness. Poor Valerie - I think her fingers must have bled from typing "unnecessary adverb" so many times!

If we want our writing to blaze and pop and sizzle, we must stay active and strong in our descriptions. This is an area of weakness for me - but I didn't know that at first. That's why we all need CP's and beta readers.

I am a composition teacher. You don't even want to know how often I nag my students about show vs. tell and passive voice and, yes, adverbs. I was SHOCKED the first time Valerie said I was telling and not showing. I thought, What! That's not possible! But it was possible.

Even when we know the right things to do, we don't always recognize those errors in our own writing - or at least I don't. Things I would recognize and use as "teachable moments" in my students' writing, I am blind to in my own. It's crazy!

Thankfully, I have Valerie, so I can be cured. Hopefully, you have someone too.

Do you have trouble seeing errors or areas of weakness in your own writing?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A New Day

Dr. Heartsill Wilson

photo source (

This is the beginning of a new day.

I have been given this day to use as I will.

I can waste it, or use it.

I can make it a day long to be remembered for its joy, its beauty and its achievements, or it can be filled with pettiness.

What I do today is important because I am exchanging a day of my life for it.

When tomorrow comes this day will be gone forever, but I shall hold something which I have traded for it.

It may be no more than a memory, but if it is a worthy one I shall not regret the price.

I want it to be gain not loss, good not evil, success not failure.

What will you do with today?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Wise Writers

I recently received the Wise Writer Award from Laura Marcella @ Wavy Lines. I love the look of this award. Laura has the coolest-looking, zebra-themed blog - it's awesome! If you aren't following her, go check out her quote collection posts and her workout posts. Her blog is all fun.

The one requirement of this award is to share your favorite writing book. Well, I can't name just one. Good books that actually help improve our craft are worth their weight in gold. In order to limit it, though, I'll just name three. He he he.
  • Discovering the Writer Within - Bruce Ballenger and Barry Lane
  • On Writing - Stephen King
  • Hooked - Les Edgerton
Okay, now the fun part - to share the love with the following wise writers:

Who is one of your favorite WISE WRITERS?

Monday, September 20, 2010


Hello all!

I've been in Seattle for a family funeral, but I'll be back in full swing tomorrow. Today, I'm working my way around, trying to catch up with all of you!

Have a great Monday!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

"I have tried every device I know to breathe life into my characters, for there is little in fiction more rewarding than to see real people interact on a page. How the writer achieves such a result remains a mystery, but sometimes it happens, and when it does, it is a wonderful thing."
~ James Michener

Ah, the challenge of creating characters people can love or hate, laugh with or cry with, root for or root against... REAL characters. More than words on paper characters. That is our challenge.

I have written umpteen drafts of my WIP. I'd give you a real number, but I lost track a year ago. But I didn't fall in love with my MC's sidekick until the final draft. I think that was part of what helped me know I was finally there - ready to query (well, that and my worlds-greatest-CP's stamp of approval).

The best books are those with the strongest characters: Harry Potter et. al; Katniss and Peeta; Evie and Lend; Grace and Sam; Frodo and Sam; wimpy kid Greg; Fancy Nancy; Flat Stanley...

I would love it if someday I could see Scott and Dusty added to that list!

Who are some of the most memorable characters
you've fallen in love (or hate) with?

Blogfest - I Got U, Sharon Mayhew

WELCOME TO: The Writer's Ally aka Sheri Larsen's
I Got U Blogfest!

And the "Star of the Show" here at Book Dreaming today is:

Sharon Mayhew of Random Thoughts

The point of today's blogfest is to show some love to a fellow blogger.

I chose someone VERY special
to me,
yet under-appreciated
by me.

Sharon was my very first follower.

That's right.
Look at the follower gadget. It says 480.
But Sharon was my 1st, non-family, somehow found-me-and-liked-what-she-saw-enough-to-click-follow follower. And I will forever love her for that.

She validated me and gave me hope and a reason to keep blogging. And I will forever love her for that.

She was the first to tell me she liked the idea of my story and that I should keep going. And I will forever love her for that.

So why is she under-appreciated, you say? Because I don't visit her nearly enough. She blogs more in the evening. I blog more throughout the day. That means she doesn't pop up on my sidebar when I'm online. So...I forget to visit her too often.

Yet she forgives me. And I will forever love her for that.

So today is Sharon Mayhew Day!!

Take a moment and help me show her some love by
following her blog

Thank you, Sharon!
I Got U!

Click here and go visit more blogfest entries

Monday, September 13, 2010

Why Books Make Such Good Movies

"A book is a human-powered film projector (complete with feature film) that advances at a speed fully customized to the viewer's mood or fancy. This rare harmony between object and user arises from the minimal skills required to manipulate a bound sequence of pages. Each piece of paper embodies a corresponding instant of time which remains frozen until liberated by the act of turning a page."
~ John Maeda

And there you have it! Now you know why books make such great movies!

I love the idea of characters and stories being frozen, suspended in time, waiting for us to turn the page. It reminds me of Cornelia Funke's Inkheart series - one of my all-time favorites.

Which of your favorite books would you most like
to see on the big-screen?

(provided it's done well and not Hollywood-ized to death like Inkheart was!)

P.S. Check out the contest giveaways for the epic contest of awesomeness at:

Shannon Whitney Messenger
Elana Johnson
Casey McCormick's Literary Rambles
Jen Stayrook
Jamie Harrington

What Next?

"What in the world would we do without our libraries?"
~ Katharine Hepburn

Okay, guys, I need your help. My TBR pile is out of control. I just finished Paranormalcy and I loved it. *sigh* Oh, how I loved it! So... what next?

Here are a few in my pile:

  • Linger
  • I am Number Four
  • Beautiful Creatures
  • The Forest of Hands and Teeth
  • Rules of Attraction
  • Num8ers
  • Sea Change
  • Veracity
  • Halo
As you can see, I have too many wonderful choices. So you get to decide which one I read next.

Which one do you suggest?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Weekend Survival Kit

Daily Survival Kit
~ Author Unknown

Items to put in kit: Toothpick, Rubber band, Band aid, Pencil, Eraser, Chewing gum, Mint, Candy kiss, Tea bag


1. Toothpick - to remind you to pick out the good qualities in others
2. Rubber band - to remind you to be flexible: things might not always work out the way you want, but it will work out.
3. Band aid - to remind you to heal hurt feelings; yours and someone else's
4. Pencil - to remind you to list your blessings everyday
5. Eraser - to remind you that everyone makes mistakes, and it's OK
6. Chewing gum - to remind you to stick with it and you can accomplish anything
7. Mint - to remind you that you are worth a mint!
8. Candy kiss - to remind you that everyone needs a kiss or a hug every day
9. Tea bag - to remind you to relax daily and go over your list of blessings
I'm sure most of you have seen this before, but I thought it would be a great way to send you into the weekend - from me to you!

Can you think of any items we should add?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

I am...

I am a writer: I am a magician, conjuring something into being where nothing was before. Studying my art, learning the secret words to bring forth a world from the hat of my imagination. The hand is quicker than the eye. Did you see the trick behind my words? Or did I do it well enough that it all seems like magic? May I become better and better so that my craft does not show and my stories amaze and entertain.
~K.L. Oberst

In a study of metaphor, Karen Oberst played with metaphors to define who we are and what we do. She has a whole page of them HERE describing writers as:





They are all wonderful, unique, and absolutely perfect. Go choose your favorite. Find the one that best describes you or most tickles your fancy. I love the idea of writers making magic.

What's your favorite metaphor for writers?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Cart or Horse?

"The writer who cares more about words than about story – characters, action, setting, atmosphere – is unlikely to create a vivid and continuous dream; he gets in his own way too much; in his poetic drunkenness, he can't tell the cart – and its cargo – from the horse."

~John Gardner

I am guilty of getting in my own way. Too often I waste time laboring over words when I should just be living in the moments of my story. It's easy to do, especially for perfectionist personalities. I stop to edit, to play with a sentence, to nit-pick descriptions and dialogue. I type and then delete...type and then delete.

Gardner is right, though. If we want our stories to be vivid and continuous, to move forward and develop, we need to keep writing. Re-writing is editing. Editing is what we do with what we've finished.

Are you a poetic drunk like me, getting in your own way,

or are you able to resist the temptation to edit as you go?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Not at This Address

"This manuscript of yours that has just come back from another editor is a precious package. Don't consider it rejected. Consider that you've addressed it 'to the editor who can appreciate my work' and it has simply come back stamped 'not at this address.' Just keep looking for the right address."
~Barbara Kingsolver

When you are sure (really sure) you are ready - critiques collected, prose polished, research finished, query perfected, agents selected... - then send out those letters and manuscripts. Be really sure your precious package is at its best. And then, "just keep swimming; just keep swimming"; keep sending them out until you find the "right address".

Besides, every time we say we don't believe in agents or publishers or our own stories, another MS falls down dead. Just ask Tinkerbell! She'll tell you.

Monday, September 6, 2010

A Blank Brick Wall

"The ideal view for daily writing, hour for hour, is the blank brick wall of a cold-storage warehouse. Failing this, a stretch of sky will do, cloudless if possible."
~Edna Ferber

In other words, we need to minimize our distractions. Any view or room or cubbyhole can be an ideal writing spot, as long as it is free of distractions.

As a mother of three, that is a pretty tall order for me. We all have distractions, though,whatever they may be. It's a matter of recognizing what they are, and then finding a way to work around them.

How do you deal with the writing distractions in your life?

P.S. Carol @ Carol's Prints is extending her Arcs Galore giveaway until Wednesday the 8th. There is still a chance you could win, so go enter!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Humdinger Contest

Shannon @ Shannon Whitney Messenger (yes, you ALL know who she is, I know) has been having a fantastic Grey Griffins celebration all week (and yes, you've probably all been there). She's pretty renowned for her signed book giveaways. But this one has an extra special twist!

She is not just giving away signed copies of Grey Griffins: The Brimstone Key - these copies also have art doodles by J.S. Lewis! Yes, signed by the author AND doodle-signed by the artist. Leave it to Shannon!

Contest ends at midnight on Sunday.

Go enter to win, and tell her I sent you!

Then...go check out these other awesome contests:

Theresa @
Substitute Teacher's Saga is giving away a SIGNED COPY OF MOCKINGJAY! (ends 9/06)

Sara @ Babbling Flow of a Fledgling Scribbler is having a mega ARC Giveaway. (ends 9/06)

Bethany @ Aspirations is celebrating 100 followers with a Pixie Popcorn giveaway. (ends 9/06)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

How are Your Propellers?

"... You generally start out with some overall idea that you can see fairly clearly, as if you were standing on a dock and looking at a ship on the ocean. At first you can see the entire ship, but then as you begin work you're in the boiler room and you can't see the ship anymore... What you really want in an editor is someone who's still on the dock, who can say, Hi, I'm looking at your ship, and it's missing a bow, the front mast is crooked, and it looks to me as if your propellers are going to have to be fixed."
~Michael Chrichton

And that, my friends, is a truly awesome way to explain the importance of beta readers and C.P.'s and editors... We all need people to check the status of our boat now and then!

Take a minute today to appreciate and thank your
"boat checkers".

Thank you, Valerie!
Thanks Shannon #1, Angela Ackerman, and Bethany
Thanks Elana and Shannon for the query help!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Keep Unfolding

"Expansion, that is the idea the novelist must cling to, not completion, not rounding off, but opening out."
~E. M. Forster

Photo source (

This quote requires some thought. Deeper thought equals greater understanding. But the truth of it is powerful.

To become great writers we must concentrate our efforts on opening, building, rounding and smoothing the rough edges of our stories - not on completing them. If our focus is on finishing and querying, then we can't see the folds that are left within our stories, waiting to be UNfolded.

Resist the siren song of "The End". Stay with your story, your characters, the moments coming to life on the page until there is nothing left to be expanded. That is when your story is truly finished, truly great.

How do you stay focused on expanding and opening your story rather than on the finish line?

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