Saturday, June 30, 2012

Randomness Right Now

What we are reading:

MOM (not revealing my age!) -
  • Knit One Pearl One by Gil McNeil (I have read the first two and had to grab this when I saw it in the "NEW" section at the library.)
  • Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool (I saw this in Target and remember liking the cover, and that it had a shiny Newbery Award seal on the front!)
  • The Peculiars by Maureen Doyle McQuerry

SON #1 (age 10) - He has finished several series recently and is not into another right now.
  • The Secret Series by Pseudonymous Bosch (he blew through all five of these in about 2 weeks!)
  • The Zombie Chasers series by John Kloepfer (will read #3 when it is available at our library)
  • The Talent Thief by Alex Williams (he says this is good but he is not devouring it... I grabbed it at the library because it had an eye-catching cover!)

DAUGHTER (age 8) -
  • The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (I just finished reading this to her and we both enjoyed it.)
  • Junie B., First Grader: Cheater Pants (she has read several in this series recently to finish her eight books for the Barnes and Noble Summer reading challenge. Now if she would just finish her chores we could go to the mall and pick up her free book!)

SON #2 - a few favorites (he is age 1) -

HUSBAND #1 (LOL!) - He doesn't read.

Blog Education:

A few things I have learned recently, and yes, I have been focusing on learning a little more about Twitter!
1. How to shorten links to a blog post to put into your tweet.  You can go here to a site called Bitly and shorten your link so there is actually room to write more than just the link in your tweet. Yes, I'm sure most of you already know this, but I had to look it up!

2. Add a Follow Me button to your blog. If you would like to add a basic "Follow Me" button to your blog go here in Twitter. I selected the "follow" and then "user name" options. This will bring up a "Preview and Code" section and you will want to copy the code to put on your blog. In your Blogger account go to the layout page of your blog and select "Add a Gadget" and then "HTML/Java Script." Add and title and copy the code into the "Content" section. Click save and then drag your new gadget to where you want it on the sidebar.

On Writing:

Being a new writer there are a lot of writing terms I come across that I haven't heard before. I have just been writing off the cuff, which is OK for now, OK for a first draft, but I know there will be a lot to go back and fix.

1. Beats. I have read one book on self-editing with the brilliant idea that if I learned about all the things I would do wrong upfront then I could do it right the first time through. LOL! The big thing I took from that book was about using beats to enhance dialog. There is a good article here at Writing Fiction @ suite 101 which says "Physical descriptions, or beats, and active sentences can show a reader the intent behind a writer's dialogue."

So intead of simply writing:
     "What did you do?" Mrs. Dixon said.

You could write:
     "What did you do?" Mrs. Dixon frowned at Tyler and put her hands on her hips.

In the second example you get a better understanding that Tyler did something naughty and is probably about to get in trouble.


What also like about using beats is that instead of always using a standard attribution like "he said" or "she said" to tell the reader who is speaking, you can show it though action. This is especially useful when there are more than two people in the conversation.

So instead of:
     "What do you want to do tonight girls?" Sarah asked.
     "Oh, I don't know." Betty said.
     "Well, we could go to the new Spiderman movie." Megan said.

You could use beats like this:
     Sarah was lounging on the couch reading a new book. She paused and looked up at her roommates. "What do you want to do tonight girls?" she asked.
     "Oh, I don't know." Betty said.
     Megan had just finished flipping through the entertainment section of the paper. "Well, we could go see the new Spiderman movie."

I know these are not the most sophisticated examples, but it's a start in the right direction I think. Of course there is a lot more to beats, but these are the most useful stategies that fit what I am working on.

2. Pacing. Another word I keep hearing is pacing. I really haven't known what that is all about until today when I finally decided to look it up. I found a good article at Fiction Facter here, which describes pacing as "the rhythm of the novel, of the chapters and scenes and paragraphs and sentences. It's also the rate at which the reader reads, the speed at which novel events occur and unfold. It's using specific word choices and sentence structure - scene, chapter and novel structure - to tap the emotions of the reader so that the reader feels what the writer wants the reader to feel at any given time during the story."

I like the opening of the article:
For a moment, let's pretend that the words we write on the page are sound. If all the sounds are the same, then we have monotone. Monotone puts us to sleep, bores us to tears, turns us off  - and if it goes on for any length of time - ticks us off."

Yes! Now I get it.


  1. Lots of great stuff here, Julie! I love knowing what everyone's reading (my husband doesn't read {books} either).

    I've never heard the term beats before (perhaps because I don't read craft books *tries to hide*) but I do use a lot of beats without knowing what they are. :-)

  2. Hi Julie! Thanks for coming to visit my blog! I'm so glad to "meet" another WA writer and blogger. Hopefully one of these days we will be able to meet in person. I enjoyed reading your family's reading list. My family likes a lot of the same books you like. And my husband is just like your husband, lol. He likes to read hiking, scouting, business, and camping books but not fiction. I keep suggesting great books for him to try but he's not interested.

  3. Julie - I love your tips!! I just added my Follow Me Button to my page. Thanks so much for the helpful info!!

    I also love to see what other people are reading - especially boys! I'm always trying to find good books for boys!

  4. I love the tips! I'm editing right now and these are good to keep in mind. :D

  5. Fun to see what everyone in the family is reading (or not reading). :) Also- great tips! I am constantly learning more about twitter- and have so much to still learn.


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