Monday Motivation

Need a little Monday morning motivation to get your fingers flying and WIP’s whipped into shape this week? Here’s some great words of wisdom from literary pros who know a thing or two:

It is our choices… that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” – J.K. Rowling

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Ten Terrific Books for Writers

Whenever the topic of favorite books for writers comes up, I always mention the same ones over and over again. But they are timeless must-reads for anyone trying to finish their first manuscript, (or twenty-first,) and for those pursuing publication, either traditionally or through self-publishing. So here I go again with a list of my ten favorite books for writers. Feel free to include your favorites in the comments below and I’ll add them in a new post!

Oh and these are not in any particular order of favorites. That would be way too hard! Continue reading

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Upcoming Regional Events and Announcements

Happy Thursday, everyone! I know we post a lot about upcoming events here at As The Eraser Burns. That’s because there is always so much going on and we don’t want you to miss a thing! Plus there’s some great announcements worth sharing again. So pull out your calendars and get ready to give some congrats, because here we go!

Regional Announcements

Again, a huge welcome to Susanna Banwell, our region’s new critique coordinator! If you missed her previous Coffee & Conversation interview, check it out here. And many thanks to Loretta Carlson for her many years of hard work! Continue reading

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SCBWI Podcast: Season Two

Hey podcast lovers, have you heard the news about Season Two of the SCBWI Podcast being released on April 18th? Despite my total adoration for podcasts, I’ve only recently discovered this one and I’m now in the process of catching up. (Seeing Laurie Halse Andersen on the list made me squeal out loud, do not miss it!) Here’s the scoop from SCBWI headquarters: Continue reading

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The Merry Month of May!

Happy Wednesday! May is here! Time for some literary merriment and whatnot.

Create more what?

More middle grade novels, of course! The best way to do that is by partaking in the wild and crazy May Mid-Grade Madness!

That meme is a little weird, but this sounds intriguing. Tell me more.

No problem! The main idea is to write a 20,000 word middle grade novel over the course of four days in the month of May. For all the details and history of this wacky idea, which dates back to 2012, head over to Laura’s post “Are you ready for some May Mid-grade Madness?” in which our fearless (and lovely) MMGM Leader Kara Laughlin lays down the ground rules and gives words of encouragement. Check out the Facebook Group and don’t forget to join if you decide you’re all in!

What a great concept! I really want to do this, but I have zero ideas.

Don’t let that stop you! Here’s some suggestions to kick the muse in the rear:

  • Pick a character from that young adult WIP that’s at an impasse or between revisions and write a nifty little prequel about him or her.
  • Got a clip file? Sift through it and see if something clicks.
  • Choose a favorite literary or movie romantic couple and write a story of how they meet as children (Can you imagine Lizzie Bennet and Mr. Darcy first encountering each other as nine year-olds? I imagine Darcy would end up face-first in the mud at Lizzie’s hands!).
  • Have some fun and write a fractured fairy tale.
  • Are you into history? If you find any one era or event of particular interest, try your hand at a mid-grade set during that time period.
  • Talk to your older relatives about their childhoods. Ask them to tell you about their best friend, schoolyard nemesis, treasured pet, standout vacation, athletic accomplishment or greatest disappointment.
  • Ask these same questions of yourself. Mine your own life!

Okay, fine. I do have one or two ideas. But, it’s already May 3rd and I have no outline, no character sketches, no setting…should I go on?

What are you waiting for, then? Get on it! Seriously, if you’re going to write 20,000 words in 96 hours, then surely you can take a week to establish a storyline and flesh out the main characters.

But, after that I have to pack and leave for my three-week luxury vacation.

Write when you get home. Now, go away before I hurt you.

All snarkiness aside – and I love being snarky – give it a try. The worse that can happen is you exercise some serious writing muscle and the best is you accomplish something you’ve never done before.

I’m in and hope you’ll join the insanity along with myself, Kara, Laura and others. The more the merrier!

Happy writing and illustrating!

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Coffee & Conversation with Suzanna Banwell, our new Critique Coordinator

First off, I must send out a huge THANK YOU to Loretta Carlson for being such an amazing critique coordinator for the past several years! Wow. The task of gathering critique submissions from conference attendees, processing payments, assigning manuscripts to critiquers, sending out the critiques, creating a schedule, and then creating a schedule for volunteer timers is a massive undertaking. I’m exhausted just by writing that run-on sentence, let alone doing all that!

Again, many, MANY thanks to Loretta for all your hard work. We truly appreciate it!

The time has come, however, for Loretta to pass the reins, so with that, allow me to throw out a major congrats and thank you to Suzanna Banwell, our new critique coordinator! Continue reading

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SCBWI Crystal Kite Member Choice Award: Round two voting ends on Sunday!

Crystal-Kite-logo1-1024x393The annual Crystal Kite Award is a peer-given award to recognize great books from 15 SCBWI regional divisions around the world.

Round two voting for our division has begun for this year’s Crystal Kite! Here’s instruction on how you can vote for your favorites: Continue reading

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It’s Springtime!

Hello friends! Spring is finally here and all I have to say is…

I know I’m overreacting: we barely got a lick of snow this winter. No matter. There’s nothing like seeing the flowers blossom and fields transition from brown to green.

The season will be in full bloom next month and we’ve got a couple of great events in our region: Continue reading

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Are you ready for some May Mid-grade Madness?

Can you believe it’s almost time for another round of May Mid-Grade Madness? For those who are unfamiliar, MMM is a yearly challenge where brave souls dare to write a mid-grade novel rough draft in the span of four … yes, four days! We started MMM several years ago, after cooking up the crazy idea over coffee:

Are you interested? Awesome! It truly is a fun challenge and the sense of accomplishment I had received after completing my 20k in 2012 was amazing. Simply amazing. So here’s the full scoop from Kara and be sure to join our Facebook Group as well!

I have a confession to make. I hate first drafts.

Every sentence feels like it’s sending me off in the wrong direction. Worse, every sentence feels like a confirmation that I’m not a novelist and I never will be. I question every plot turn and piece of dialog. And all it takes is one moment of indecision and I start avoiding my book for weeks, waiting to come up with the perfect solution to my problem. What can I say? My inner critic has bossy mean girl tendencies.

Once it’s time to edit, I’m in my happy place. I love looking at a piece of writing, finding a better structure, livening up a scene, and taking all that telling and changing it to showing. It’s just six months or a year of spinning out my first version of the story that gives me fits.

Speed writing challenges were made for people like me. The idea of NaNoWriMo, in which writers churn out a novel during the month of November, or our own May Midgrade Madness, in which we distill the same challenge into a weekend with a drastically lowered word count, is to get your whole story on paper as quickly as possible, so that there’s no time for your inner critic to strip you of your momentum.

May is nearly here, and we will once again be offering our support to writers who want to set aside a long weekend to speedwrite their first draft. Begun in 2012 by Laura Bowers and Susan Mannix, May Mid-grade Madness challenges participants to pick any four days in May, and use them to write a full draft (or 20,000 words of one) in that time.

Those are pretty much the only rules. Planning, character sketching, etc. are allowed (indeed, encouraged) in the days and weeks leading up to the writing marathon. Bragging on Facebook and twitter (#MGMad) are encouraged after you’ve finished! And if you brag with a screencap of your word count, you’ll be in the running for a prize or two.

In the two years I’ve managed the MMM Facebook page, only four people have managed to complete 20,000 words in their allotted time, but many more have given their projects much needed kick-starts. And just dedicating four consecutive days to your writing can really pay off.

Over the next few weeks, the May Mid-grade Madness Facebook page will be sharing resources for those brave souls willing to give a weekend rough draft a try. It’s easy to join us: just set aside any four days in May and commit to writing 5000 words a day. Then join our Facebook page and tell us about your plans.

~~~~

Thanks, Kara! So what about you, are you tempted to tackle this crazy challenge? I must admit. I had absolutely zero interest because it doesn’t fit in with my short or long term goals this quarter plus I have a zillion other things going on.

Still.

That feeling I got back in 2012 when I finished my 20,000 with only minutes to spare …

It was a great feeling.

So whatever. I’m in. I don’t know whether I’ll be a finisher or someone who gets a huge kick-start, but you never know until you try!

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From Dreaming to Doing SCBWI Conference Thoughts

Raise your hand if you had an amazing time at our regional From Dreaming to Doing SCBWI Conference! (Mine is up. Way up!) The presenters this year were amazing and I walked away feeling informed, inspired, and ready to do more doing than dreaming.

So many thanks to our co-regional advisors, Kathy McMillan and Sue Poduska as well as the planning committee, volunteers, presenters, attendees, Curious Iguana Bookstore, and staff at the Bishop Claggett Center. Continue reading

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