Saturday, March 31, 2012

The First Month: Finding Time for All Those Ideas

Ideas, unfortunately, don't respect your schedule. They can hit you while you're taking a shower, at two am, during your German Exam, or thirty three thousand words into your current WIP. So what do you do?

Organization (or the lack of) of ideas affects tons of other aspects of writing such as:

1) Writer's block
2) Inspiration
3) Keeping on track
4) Starting and FINISHING a novel.

So how do you do it?

Well, most idea's aren't going to come when you want them to. Most likely, you'll have tons of ideas when you're busy and none when you're not.

So save ideas.

That way your genius won't be lost and you'll have something to write about when you have no ideas.

There's a number of ways to save ideas, but it doesn't matter how you do it, as long as you remember your ideas you're A O K. I recommend keeping them all in one place (a computer file or binder is helpful).

Here's my method:

If I get an idea, I usually come up with a title that will remind me of that idea. This goes into a file on my laptop. Later, when I have more time, I'll write up a summary and come up with the MC's name. (This I write in pink pen in my blue mini notebook). I have this binder everywhere I go. Either in the school bag I carry all day, my purse, or my nightstand. If you do keep a notebook full of ideas, I recommend you to mini size it. (Believe me it's worth it).

This way, I never forget my ideas, but at the same time I never am out of ideas.

It's an easy fix that can make a big difference.

Friday, March 30, 2012


I'm super excited to say that Eenie Meenie Teenie Writers is going through MAJOR changes.

First off, the name.

Every Manuscript. Catchy right? It's a lot easier to remember and a lot easier to type.

Which brings us to change number two,

After April 6th, the new link for Every Manuscript will be: !

Change Three:

Every Manuscript is going gender neutral! (So guys, don't shy away)

Change Four:

I will be looking for a co-blogger or multiple co-bloggers to join me. (if you're interested shoot me an email at

Change Five:

Contest, Critiques and interviews (more on this later)

Hope you're as excited as I am!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Helpful links for April

Hi guys!

This will be the second to last post for March. We're almost done with inspiration and reading like a writer. But before we continue with Reading and Inspiration, I'd like to give a shout-out to the YA Scavenger Hunt. You know how you're supposed to read a lot if you're a writer? Here's a perfect chance to do just that. You can win up to sixty signed YA books by April 1st. Yes, sixty. That's like seven-hundred-dollars worth of good reads. All you have to do is complete the scavenger hunt and decode the anagram, it's super easy and I finished in twenty minutes.... After all, who doesn't love free books? You can also check out bonus content from some of your favorite books, like deleted scenes, first drafts, previews, book trailers. But you only have seventy-two hours to enter! Better start searching!

I have even more April-Related news!

April 1st isn't just April's Fools or the end of the Spring YA Scavenger Hunt, it marks the start of Script Frenzy, NaNoWriMo's sister contest. Your goal? Write one script in one month. Though Script Frenzy is meant for play-writers, as a novelist (that IS a real word)  it's equally useful to teen writers. I like to use it as a way to test out new ideas without getting bogged down in setting descriptions. It's all pure dialog. If you want to join me, click on the link below!

If you want to keep track of your WIP's word count for your website or blog this website is handy to html code your progress in a neat little app. You even get to choose the colors!

That's it!


Sunday, March 25, 2012

The First Month: The Difference Between Do-Able Dreams and Silly Slumbers

Hi, sorry I haven't been posting in a while. I have little to none WiFi access over my spring break. (Let's see if I can get this post done before the WiFi shuts down completely).

Reminds me of a band I was in for camp two summers ago, The WiFi is Down

(My guitar is like the one to the left. My beautiful PBTeen Cocoa Striped baby.)

Anyway, away from my past rocker life (I must admit, though, it's pretty cool, I even got a gig at a famous bar/restaurant in town).


Anyway, let's discus the difference between a Do-Able Dream and a Silly Slumber.

Dreams are some of the most fascinating things we humans (though I've also seen my puppy run and bark in her sleep) do. They are also some of the most mysterious things. Scientists still don't know much about them, but one thing is clear. Dreams, are some of the best sources for ideas we have. 

So have you ever had a dream, so awesome you can't ignore? It's calling you to write and turn into the next bestselling multi-million dollar teen novel? 

If you have, you're like hundreds of other people out there. Which include Stephanie Meyer. So it is possible to turn a dream into a bestseller, but at the same time it can turn your plot into a not-so-sweet nightmare. 

So how can you tell if your dream is a soon-to-be bestseller or a waste of your time? Here are the few key signs of both.

How long it is?

Do-Able Dreams will often be just a glimpse of an idea, lasting a few minutes before your attention turns to a dancing raisin on a kayak your long-lost cousin rented just for St. Patrick's day. Stephanie Meyer's glimpse was of a beautiful child, sparkling in a green meadow. 

While Silly Slumbers will be either way too long or way too short. If you find yourself typing up all the ideas from your dream and none of your rational ideas while your awake, that's a sign of a bad dream. At the same time, if your only taking the fact that your character was wearing a purple shirt into your story, well, it's good you found some inspiration, but if you accidentally incorporate the rest of the dream into your story it might end up like a mess. 

Does it make sense? 

This one is an obvious. If you have dancing raisins on kayaks that your long-lost cousin rented just for St. Patrick's day, it's not going to work.

Is it true to what you write?

This touches base on the find your genre thing we were discussing before. If it's not a genre in or around your comfort zone, I'd hold off until you have more experience. 

That's all for today! 


Saturday, March 17, 2012

The First Month: Reading Like a Writer

As I mentioned in the post about the first step to writing a novel, reading is a major part of writing. But just like reading an assigned book for school as a student is different from reading for fun, reading like a writer is also different from reading for fun. 


Well, for one thing, you're trying to learn from the author, not from the book. This means that you're mainly focused on paying attention to a writer's style or way of saying things, not what is actually happening in the book.  If you're the type of person who really enjoys reading and thinks that ignoring the plot is a shame and waste of a good book, then either do one of two things. 1) read a book twice, once for fun and the other time to learn or 2) if you're an extreme multitasker like me then do both at the same time. 

So what's the point?

Well, this is one way to hone your skills. Like I mentioned before, you have to watch a person do a layup before you can do one yourself... BUT there's a big difference between watching a person do a layup in a pro-game for fun and watching a coach do a layup because you're tying out for the basketball team. Chances are, you're going to pay more attention if you're learning how to do a layup. Just writing without reading is a lot like teaching yourself how to do a layup, you might do okay, but it's not going to be perfect unless you watch someone do it. 

Okay then... How do you read like a writer?

There's a number of ways. Here are some of the things I notice or do when I'm reading like a writer instead of a regular person.

1) Highlight a lot. 
I highlight or copy down the first paragraph of every book I read and pay careful attention to it. I also highlight things that make me laugh out loud, good or poetic writing, cool similes, interesting phrases, and words I don't know. No clue why this improves your writing, it just does.

2) Pay extra attention to dialog and dialog punctuation. 
Notice how fast the author goes. Do they use a action beat every time someone speaks? When do you use a comma and when do you use a period? Do you really have to say he said or she said? What happens when a character says a speech or something with more than one paragraph? How do you format that?

3) Notice things. 
This is the hardest thing for me as a writer. In good books, an author will plan ahead. They will discretely mention a character leaving her knife in her bag, then her enemy will attack and she won't be able to defend herself because her knife is in her bag. Mediocre authors will add this fact when the enemy attacks. It keeps the parts with action fast paced.

Good author:

I wiped the orange pulp from the knife and placed it into my bag; we were safe, I wouldn't need it tonight. 

blah blah blah blah blah blah. (two paragraphs later).

I swung around and automatically reached for the knife on my hip. My stomach sunk as I realized it wasn't there. The bad guy (sorry for lack of a name) gave a wicked smile before planting a round house kick in the soft spot between my ribs. I fell to the ground, blind with white-hot pain.
"Not so tough now, are you?" He grinned, standing over me. His chuckling face was the last thing I saw before blacking out. What I didn't know was I would never open my eyes again.

Bad author:

I swung around and automatically reached for the knife on my hip. My stomach sunk as I realized it wasn't there. This was because I didn't think I needed it because thought we were safe. I put it away after cutting up oranges for the fruit salad even though I'm a really bad cook because Peter asked me to. The bad guy (sorry for lack of a name) gave a wicked smile before planting a round house kick in the soft spot between my ribs. I fell to the ground, blind with white-hot pain.
"Not so tough now, are you?" He grinned, standing over me. His chuckling face was the last thing I saw before blacking out. What I didn't know was I would never open my eyes again.

Do you see how the second one has an awkward pause in the action. It doesn't really matter that moment and interrupts from what's really important. It is possibly the most irritating thing as an author and a writer. I want to know what happens at that moment, not why she was chopping up oranges. If you get used to noticing it in writing, you'll get used to doing it in YOUR writing.

4) Pay attention to characters, what authors describe and what they imply.
This is a lot like the the other one, if you look for this more often you'll get used to doing it.

A good  author will work in a character's personality through one of seven ways:

1) Their actions
2) What they say
3) What other people say about them
4) What they think
5) What other people thing about them
6) How other people treat them

and the worst: 

7) What an author tells about them.

This goes into showing vs telling (which we'll talk about later).

A good author will do this: 

"I-I just don't know, Peter. Maybe I wanted to become friends with you because of your mom, but I didn't fall in love with you because of her," Amy cried.
Peter thought for a second. His expression didn't change. "I don't know what to believe anymore. Congrats on being published, I hope your book was worth it," he said coldly. 
Tammie stepped between them, pushing the two apart. "I think that it doesn't matter and you should believe her, Peter. You love each other and she's your girlfriend. It doesn't matter why she loves you."
"This is none of your business," Amy and Peter shouted in unison.

(let's assume that previously the author mentioned that Tammie wasn't Amy's friend and was annoying.)

A bad author will do this:

Peter and Amy didn't like Tammie because she was always in other people's business. She butted in on their break up and said they should stay together.

See, the first one is much better.The more you pay attention to good writing like that, the more likely you will be a good writer. 

Okay, so I think that's it.

Reading like a writer in a nutshell means being more attentive.


Monday, March 12, 2012

The First Month: Finding What You Write Best

As promised, we're going into the first step more. Under this topic we'll include Reading, Inspiration, and Ways You Can Set Yourself Up For Success Before Writing. 

So today let's talk about Finding What You Write Best.

Let's face it, no one is perfect. No one is good at everything.... The list of sayings go on forever. But there's a perfect fit for you out there.

If you're meant to write young adult chick lit, and try to write a adult gore fantasy novel, you're setting yourself up for failure. You can be the best writer in the world, but it just won't work.

Let's look at it this way:

Taylor Swift is a great singer (in my opinion), iconic for her auto-tune free voice and country charm. She's one of the most down to earth stars and a good rule model.
But let's face it. As good as a singer she is, Taylor Swift wouldn't be the same or as good as she currently is if she wore all black, died her hair green, and crooned out songs with more screaming than singing while sporting multiple lip rings. 

It's the same in writing, as much as some people love Harry Potter, there is much debate as to if JK Rowling can write a good adult novel.While that isn't too far off, somethings are. There is one or two genres (or types of books) that you will truly shine in, with an assortment of other genres you might do okay in.

While the easiest way to tell what genre you should write is by what books you enjoy the best, you can try this quiz and see.

Quizzes by | SnapApp Quiz Apps

Once you pick your genres, I'd recommend learning as much as you can about them. What kinds of people write this genre? Where can I learn more about it? What research will I need? It varies from genre to genre. (If I can, I'm going to get a guest blogger for each genre). Try practicing writing this genre. Who reads this kind of genre. Google it. Wikipedia search. Learn as much as you can, because this might be the key to getting you published. 


(My genre is Realistic Fiction) 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

FAQ Month: How To Get Published Step Four

Last day of being busy! Now I have a week of relaxation... Well school... Before spring break!

Although I'm a bit sad that the play's over, we had a pretty cool after party (which consisted of lots of photos and a failed attempt at flash mobbing FroYo with songs we learned in vocal from Grease).

(picture of me after the show).

So anyway, glad I'm not busy anymore, now I'll try posting every day. Today's a quick post because I have to go to a tea party (really long story), but here it is:

The last step to getting published... Publishing!

This is the question most asked on Yahoo Answers. I'm fifteen, just wrote a book, how do I send it to publishers?

Well, you can't send your book directly to a publisher (as I just found out only a year ago),
You have to go through a process which involves a literary agent.

For most teens it's the best idea to write a query letter, no travel needed.

A query letter is a letter asking a literary agent if s/he would like to read your book. If they do they'll ask for a full copy. If they accept your manuscript, they'll sell it to a publisher and viola! You're a published author. Agents get paid based on what you make from your book (so lets be completely hypothetical here) and say your book only made one dollar :( literary agents get a percent of your dollar, so if they have a 1% rate (which most don't), they only make one cent for all their effort, you get ninety-nine.

This mean literary agents will only accept the books they think that will make a ton of money. To convince them that your book will make a ton of money.

So the last step is to find a literary agent.

Whoa, I can't believe that I've covered all the steps.

So over the next four months I'll cover each step in a LOT more detail. One step per month.

Thanks for reading!


Saturday, March 10, 2012

FAQ Month: How to Get Published Step Three

Sorry I haven't blogged in a while. Life got pretty busy for a while.

Exams. Play practices. Field Trips. Performances. Homework.

No time to write (unless you count the two hundred words I squeezed in during Espanol). No time to blog.

You know, the typical occupational hazards of a full time student, writer, runner, and teenager. It's a miracle that 1) I can see the floor of my room and 2) my friends are understanding about my entire no-time-for-a-social-life thing. (okay, I sort of have a social life, but just barley).

I'm happy to announce that my last performance in And A Child Shall Lead is tonight, so I'll get back to blogging, and writing, and sleeping more than four hours.

So I've got around twenty minutes to throw together this last post before tutoring (oh, did I forget to mention the SAT prep, even though I don't take it for another three years).

So we've read, and written. That means it's time to edit.

You've spent anywhere from a month to a year on your manuscript. Your fingers are now so muscular that they're unproportional (yes, I'm pretty sure I made that word up because spell check says it doesn't exist), to the rest of your body. Let's not even get started on the state of your mind. Chances are it's not good. It's so frazzled that you can only communicate with the smallest of words. Like mamma, pappa, grande vanilla bean frapachino (the kind without coffee), and book. Not even novel, just book.

That's what you need. That's what you want! YOU JUST WROTE AN ENTIRE BOOK AND GOSH DARN IT! YOU'RE GOING TO READ IT. It's the only thing you can do. So you ask mamma for a grande vanilla bean frapachino and settle yourself in your favorite chair (the one with the purple fuzzy pillows). And you read.

And you think you're the best thing since Harper Lee.

You're so great, everyone needs to see your genius, and hey, if you have a few typos or grammatical errors, that's okay, you're only fourteen after all.

So you put your work out there. On figment. On Yahoo Answers. To a critique partner. To your parents.

And this is the feedback you get.

From figment:
Some people will drool over it, others will say it's okay.

On Yahoo Answers:
Chances are they'll go easy on you, point out a few grammatical errors and say you have potential. Try publishing when you get a little older.

From a critique partner:
They'll say it's good and complement you on something.

Your parents:
Might break down in tears because their little baby has written a novel (and that tops any A+ first grade science project from your past).

And if someone doesn't like it or says it stinks, that's fine, because they're old, and ugly, and can't write better than you. They're just jealous.

So, like many other newbie writers, I ignored the people who made the slightest indication that they thought it was bad. I shunned helpful feedback. I became extremely defensive whenever anyone said anything.

I wasn't looking for a critique, I was looking for someone to tell how wonderful I was, how great it is, how it should be published right away, and possibly that they sent it to their uncle who is the top dog at a publishing company and you're being published.

It doesn't work that way. After I completed my first novel (November of 2010), I ignored all the feedback. I told myself I was as good as any published author. I let people tell me how good I was, when I should have been listening to the people who were doing this:

(Yeah, it's pretty bad. I still can't believe I thought it was publish worthy... I've written better things in the fifth grade, and I have proof of that). 

It's taken me a long time to realize this, but the only way to get good at writing is to put yourself out there. YOU WANT TO BE HURT. You need someone to knock you back down. Someone who's not afraid to tell you your writing is crap and you're never going to be published.

Here's the shocker. You need to believe them. If someone says your writing is that bad, there is something wrong with whatever you wrote. It doesn't mean you're a bad writer, it just means that the passage you gave to your critique was horrible, and you need to fix it. 

That's where the beauty of the editing process comes in. 

Everyone writes awful first drafts, but what separates the published authors from the hopeless wanna-bes is how you receive feedback and what you do with it. 

So put yourself out there. Get hurt. Then put your manuscript away for a while, a week, a month, a year. Then come back when you aren't so defensive and re-read your critiques. You'll understand that 99% of them are completely right. Then get editing. 

Start with the big stuff, like: 

The plot, the conflict and all the other things. Should this chapter go here, do I need this chapter, etc.

Then get a bit smaller:

Do I need this paragraph?

And smaller:

Is this sentence okay.

Until you're onto the tinsy winsy details: 

Do I need this word? Could I use another? Oh, should that be a period or a comma. 

Once you're done, re-read it for any mistakes and put yourself out there again.

After repeating this process until you get mostly (note mostly, because there will always be people who dislike your writing no matter what you do) positive reviews, then start trying to publish it.