THOUGHTFUL THURSDAY: Writing By Moonlight

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I find myself to be a creature of habit. I take comfort in knowing the ebb and flow of my days don’t typically change. It allows me to block out time throughout my day for my writing. I just wish my actual writing would follow the same smooth process that my day to day activities do.

Most of the time I’m walking around during the day with different stories floating around in my head. Plots and dialogue from multiple stories dance around each other like fireflies in the moonlight. Captivated, I too find myself flitting from one thought to another as I test out my ideas before committing them to paper or screen.

Sometimes I even let that ol’ moon challenge me to search out the very best within myself, dragging it out of the shadows and into the light. I like to think of my ideas as creatures of the night, snug in their dens during the day…just waiting to come out and play when the moon is full.

There is a certain kind of freedom to writing at night. All around me others are settling in for the evening and yet there I will sit at my computer…wide awake and eager to see where the moonlight will take me.

Sometimes the journey is like a crazy maze where I start and stop…going down one dimly lit path, only to come to a dead end. I’ll turn around and search out the moon’s brilliance once again until I discover the path most satisfying for a creature of the night like myself.

Then there are times when everything is crystal clear under the moonlight. Every nook and cranny of my brain is illuminated by the night, leading me on the straight and narrow path to my journey’s end. Those are the nights when I feel the most productive. Those are the moments when I can bask in the moonlight and KNOW I am a writer.

No doubts.

No darkness.

Just me…my writing…and the moonlight…

 

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donna

International best selling, award-winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection. Donna’s latest book, LUNADAR: Homeward Bound (a YA fantasy), is now available in eBook and print form from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, and other online retailers.

FLASH FICTION TUESDAY: The Evildoers

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People say, “Don’t open the door to strangers.” But you never hear anyone say, “Don’t open the door to STRANGE.”

Someone should have warned me.

The old Clemmons house sat on the end of a dead-end street at the edge of town. Kinda fitting…I mean, the whole “dead” part.

When Dad and I moved to this one horse town six months ago, the realtor told Dad this house was a nice, fixer-upper. I tried telling Dad the place gave me the creeps, but as usual, he was too wrapped up in making a new start after Mom left us to listen to a quiet, shy ten year old boy.

“This will be a great project for the two of us,” he said. Does he not remember when the two of us tried to build a tree house at our old place? Try explaining to a seven year old why he can’t go swimming that summer because he’s wearing a stupid cast on his leg!

The first week we stayed here, I chalked up all weird noises I heard to just the whistling wind and an old, shifting foundation. But last night after Dad fell asleep watching some rerun on TV, I decided to go to bed early. Tomorrow was my first day at a new school and I wasn’t really looking forward to being the new geek in town.

Quickly getting changed, I jumped into bed and pulled the covers over my head before snaking a hand out to quickly turn off the bedside lamp. At first I thought I would be able to fall asleep without too much trouble. 

But then I heard it.

Not the usual moans and groans of an old house settling in for the night. This was more of a whisper of a knocking…a soft thumping…coming from somewhere outside the safety of flannel sheets. I was hoping it was maybe Dad running into a table on his way to bed, but when the sound started up again, I knew it wasn’t him.

This time when I hear the knocking, I can feel my heart start pounding to match its rhythm.

Where was the noise coming from?

“Stop being such a scaredy-cat!” I whisper to myself before peeking out from under the covers. It is louder now and actually sounds like it’s coming from somewhere inside my room.

I actually feel my breath catch in my throat to mix with bile when I realize where it is coming from.

It’s coming from inside my bedroom walls…

 

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donna

 

International best selling, award-winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection. Donna’s latest book, LUNADAR: Homeward Bound (a YA fantasy), is now available in eBook and print form from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, and other online retailers.

 

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BOOK NOOK REVIEWS: Deidre Gill

 

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Title: Outside
Author/Illustrator: Deidre Gill
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing
Ages: 4-8

 

Synopsis:

 

What happens when you step outside?

 

Why you should read it:

 

Perfect, playful imagination flow through the pages of the wonderful picture book by debut author/illustrator Deidre Gill. Stunning illustrations capture the world of one little boy’s imagination as he goes outside to play. When he can’t entice his older brother to join him, he makes some friends of his own and steps into a fantasy world where dragons are real and anything can happen!

 

Like-o-meter Rating scale**: 5 out of 5…grab it!

 

**Rating scale**

5 out of 5…grab it!

4 out of 5…think about it.

3 out of 5…take or leave it.

2 out of 5…maybe not for you.

1 out of 5…forget about it!

WRITERLY WISDOM: Monica Kulling

 

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Here is another post in my WRITERLY WISDOM series I first ran back in 2013. Five years later, I’ve updated the material and made sure it still applies to today’s writers. This week’s post is about writing dialogue in such a way that readers are drawn into the story…

 

Talk To Me!
by Monica Kulling

 

“I write description in longhand because that’s hardest for me and you’re closer to the paper when you work by hand, but I use the typewriter for dialogue because people speak like a typewriter works.”
— Ernest Hemingway

Writing story dialogue sounds like it ought to be easy, right? After all, conversation surrounds us, all day long. We might think we know everything there is to know about putting words into a character’s mouth, but it’s helpful to keep in mind a few tips in order to add that extra sparkle.

Story dialogue needs to be doing many things at once, which can sometimes be a challenge to pull off. Here are a few ideas to keep in mind. Conveniently, these all happen to begin with the letter “D.”

Distinguish characters:

 

Each of your characters must have a distinct way of speaking not only so that the reader can tell each one apart, but also so that the character’s personality can be revealed as the narrative unfolds. Each character has something that is most important to him or her and this is revealed in well-crafted dialogue.

Determine emotion:

 

Write your dialogue so that the reader knows exactly what your characters are feeling and what’s important to them. Good story dialogue pays attention to the flow and of the words. Dialogue that expresses the sadness felt by a character is markedly different from dialogue that expresses exuberance.

Drive the story forward:

 

Dialogue should be purposeful. It should set the scene, give insight into characterization, advance action, and foreshadow events around the corner. Do not use dialogue simply to convey information. It must move the narrative forward. Writers listen with hearts and minds to their characters’ interactions, and this becomes the backbone of any story we are writing.

Dynamic:

 

Your dialogue ought to sound like an actual conversation, but with the boring bits removed!

Delightful:

 

Write dialogue that not only accomplishes all the above but is also full of life and fun to read. This is possible by giving each character his or her own particular way of expression—his or her own dialogue notes, if you will. Like the color of a character’s hair, the way each character speaks, the idioms he or she uses, reveals something about your characters that description alone can’t cover.

I am by no means an expert on this subject but I have always enjoyed listening to and reading good dialogue. To get a better feel for this element of writing, go to the theatre and see lots of plays. A beautifully written play uses dialogue efficiently, majestically, and impressively. The ring of the words can be heard in your head long after the curtain falls.

 

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Monica Kulling is the author of numerous books for children. Her most recent books are Mary Anning’s Curiosity, illustrated by Melissa Castrillon, and Alexander Hamilton: From Orphan to Founding Father, illustrated by Valerio Fabbretti. She is also the author of On Our Way to Oyster Bay: Mother Jones and Her March for Children’s Rights, illustrated by Felicita Sala. Monica’s books have been nominated for many awards, including the Norma Fleck Award for Canadian children’s nonfiction. Other picture books include the popular Great Ideas series; Happy Birthday, Alice Babette; Grant and Tillie Go Walking; and The Tweedles Go Electric. Monica Kulling lives in Toronto.

THOUGTHFUL THURSDAY: Upsetting The Apple Cart…

 

 

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There are some times when I feel overwhelmed with all the things going on in my life. Just handling the run of the mill everyday things I have to juggle in a 24 hour period…job, kiddies, phone calls, blog, manuscripts, emails, family, friends…you get the idea…

Then there are the unexpected events tossed into the mix because somewhere someone took a look at my busy life and decided I wasn’t busy enough. They decide to upset the apple cart and add into the mix end of year tax statements at the school, insomnia, winter storms , writing contests deadlines, , and oh yeah…criminal mischief from scatter brained neighbors….

One evening a couple years ago my neighbors were having a party. A loud one. One with lots of flowing alcohol and about 20 screeching kids of various ages who decided to take the party to the street in front of my house at 4 in the morning where they commenced to use my NEW mailbox for target practice. I had wondered if they might have been the reason my last mailbox went on a permanent vacation. Now I think they simply didn’t want me to suffer from all those rejection letters I had been receivinb and tried to prevent me from getting any more.

How thoughtful of them.

I’m pretty sure their generous spirit was also in overdrive when they decided I needed to exercise more. They provided me that particular opportunity later that morning when I had to pick up all the firework rockets, beer bottles, wine bottles, empty cigarette packets, cigarette butts, used baby diapers, and various other objects filling three plastic bags full from my front yard.

But it was when I discovered they decided sometime while I slept to check and make sure the inside of my car still had everything it needed…and in their haste to return to the party, dropped one of their cigarette lighters by my passenger door (did I mention I don’t smoke so I knew it wasn’t mine?)…that I was convinced anything in my best interest was probably NOT topping their list of Good Samaritan deeds yet to be performed.

Funny thing about all of this? Nothing could have been done until either my car decided to take an unexpected vacation without me, or I became the casualty of some war I didn’t even realize I was involved in.

Bet you’re wondering how I’m going to connect THIS to writing? Well, here it is…

Sometimes you can be walking along, pushing that apple cart, minding your own business and then someone decides to come along and upset the natural order of things. Your doctor gives you some unwelcoming news, your least favorite relative comes for an extended visit, your “dream agent” sends you a rejection letter powerful enough to potentially crush your dream of becoming an author. Your apple cart is upset and all those lovely apples are rolling beyond your reach.

What do you do?

Give up?

Let them lie around until they rot?

NO!

Take a moment to catch your breath if you need to and right your cart. Then go after those apples. Run after them if you have to! Scoop them up and hold them close to you for they are YOUR dreams and only YOU know the outcome of YOUR life’s story. Channel all that fear and frustration into your next bit of writing where you pour your soul into your words. Ignore the fools surrounding you. Spill those words onto paper or screen for them to connect with others until you can get your equilibrium back and then keep on trucking down that path to publication.

That’s what I did…

 

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LUNADAR: Homeward Bound

Ruler by day, a reluctant pirate by night, 18-year-old Princess Ariana fights for her subjects in the waterfall city of LUNADAR. In a kingdom surrounded by fairies and mermaids, and ravaged by deadly Drundles, only a chosen few are trusted to guard her daughter, Candra, as the secret heir to the throne. But it only takes one ill-fated meeting for Ariana to suddenly be plunged into an escalating web of secrets found in her father’s journal, a deadly kidnapping, and an ever-weakening resolve to turn her back on the call of the merman’s song. With Ariana’s world falling apart and the future of LUNADAR at stake, how will she bring her father’s murderer to justice and fulfill a deathbed promise to protect Lunadar’s legacy?

$16.99

 

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donna

 

International best selling, award-winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection. Donna’s latest book, LUNADAR: Homeward Bound (a YA fantasy), is now available in ebook and print form from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, and other online retailers

BOOK NOOK REVIEWS: Marissa Moss

 
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Title: Nurse, Soldier, Spy…The Story of Sarah Edmonds
Author: Marissa Moss
Illustrator: John Hendrix
Publisher: Abrams Books For Young Readers
Ages: 9-11

 

Synopsis:

 

When Frank Thompson sees a poster requesting recruits for the new Union army, he is ready and willing to enlist. Except Frank isn’t his real name. He is really Sarah Emma Edmonds. Dressing like a man, she becomes a soldier, battlefield nurse, and even a spy in this incredible true story of one woman’s fight for her country’s freedom.

 

Why you should read it:

 

I’m really fascinated with the “human side” of history and find myself reading a lot about the Civil War lately. This well written story by author Marissa Moss allows her readers to step into the shoes of an otherwise genteel lady as she fights beside Union soldiers trying to free the slaves and unite a country. Kids will be amazed at the life Sarah led and the dangers she endured during a time when “ladies” were thought to be nothing more than gentle creatures to be protected from the horrors of the real world instead of vibrant, strong women capable of protecting themselves as well as those around them on the field of battle.
Like-o-meter Rating scale**: 5 out of 5…grab it!

**Rating scale**

5 out of 5…grab it!

4 out of 5…think about it.

3 out of 5…take or leave it.

2 out of 5…maybe not for you.

1 out of 5…forget about it!

FLASH FICTION TUESDAY: A Wish & A Prayer

 

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The park was almost empty by the time the old man got there but he liked it that way. No fighting the early morning joggers paying homage to the latest health trend. No new mommas pushing squawking babies in prams to gather at the sandbox like clucking hens guarding chicks. He had timed his stroll perfectly and now he could take a moment to sit. Just sit and watch the leaves turn colors in the crisp Autumn daylight. He had time. He didn’t have to be at the church til later and it wasn’t like Jake was going anywhere.

A breeze started to pick up and the old man shivered. It felt like a cat ran over his grave. Jake would have said it was a black cat hell bent on making his life a troublesome one, but that was the way Jake was. Ornery. Cantankerous. And the best friend the old man ever had.

Right now he would have given anything to have that old cuss chewing on his ear again like he had for the last 45 years. Why, he would even let him beat him at their weekly checker game. But it was too late now for that. The only thing left was a stroll in the park and a moment to recall a lifetime of memories.

Like the time he and Jake went skinny dipping at the old Thompson place. Jake almost bust a gut laughing when the branch broke and his friend plunged into that icy water. Somehow they survived those wild childhood adventures and over the years the bond between them flowed stronger than brother’s blood.

Then came the bombing. Jake shipped out and left the old man behind; a war time reject with a medical history he couldn’t overcome but still they managed to keep in touch. Three long years of waiting and wondering if Jake would make it back in one piece. And then it was like he’d never left. Two peas in the same pod, that’s what they were, and the years just seemed to run together until time caught up to the both of them. Now the old man was content to simply stroll through the park and count the blessings piled up over years.

The sound of church bells brought the old man back from his daydreaming and he clutched his cane tighter as he slowly stood up. It was time now. Time to get to the church and make one more memory with Jake…

Okay, it’s your turn! Why is the old man going to the church? Is he saying goodbye to his best friend or cheering him on to a new life? Put your creative cap on and add a sentence or add a paragraph. Continue my story or start one of your own and leave a comment below…

 

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LUNADAR: Homeward Bound

Ruler by day, a reluctant pirate by night, 18-year-old Princess Ariana fights for her subjects in the waterfall city of LUNADAR. In a kingdom surrounded by fairies and mermaids, and ravaged by deadly Drundles, only a chosen few are trusted to guard her daughter, Candra, as the secret heir to the throne. But it only takes one ill-fated meeting for Ariana to suddenly be plunged into an escalating web of secrets found in her father’s journal, a deadly kidnapping, and an ever-weakening resolve to turn her back on the call of the merman’s song. With Ariana’s world falling apart and the future of LUNADAR at stake, how will she bring her father’s murderer to justice and fulfill a deathbed promise to protect Lunadar’s legacy?

$16.99

 

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donna

International best selling, award-winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection. Donna’s latest book, LUNADAR: Homeward Bound (a YA fantasy), is now available in eBook and print form from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, and other online retailers.