what I learned from reading Matilda at age 30

Confession time: As much as I absolutely love reading, there is quite a long list of books in which I have watched the movie version first. Most of that habit happened when I was a kid. As an adult, I’ve gone back and read some book versions of the movies I’ve loved. 

This year, my Summer reading list is different than other years. You see, it all started with Matilda. I was scrolling through my Libby app looking for a new audiobook to listen to. Having just finished, The Cruel Prince, by Holly Black, my natural reaction was to head for The Wicked King. However, there was a considerably long wait. So, I added myself to that list and began to browse. That’s when I stumbled upon Matilda, by Roald Dahl. 

I have seen the movie version of Matilda roughly, fifty times. Don’t ask me why I had never picked up the book. It doesn’t matter now! Why? Because I simply devoured it upon falling into the whimsical world that Roald Dahl creates. I think Matilda, the film, was awesome. The book is ten times better. 


Here’s the thing about experiencing children’s books when you’re 30. You have a whole new perspective on life. Even if you have read Matilda in the past, reading it now, is a completely different story. I was simply enchanted by the content. My passion for children’s literature definitely helps…

One moment, which truly inspired this blog post, was this quote below: 

“So Matilda’s strong young mind continued to grow, nurtured by the voices of all those authors who had sent their books out into the world like ships on the sea. These books gave Matilda a hopeful and comforting message: You are not alone.” 

-Roald Dahl, Matilda

I stopped reading after coming across the passage. I thought about all of the times that a book had proven to be such a memorable companion in my life. I contemplated how long my personal list of books that have left me nurtured would be. With a smile on my face, I was happy to add Matilda to that list.

So, what does it all come down to? I ask you to take a moment and consider the books that have truly been a companion to you. Jot down those titles for the days that might be tough. I ask you to pick up a children’s book to read, even if you feel like you’ve outgrown them. You never know what lessons you can still learn from them.

Tweet me your thoughts @AWritersWay. Thank you for joining me here today. You can look for a new post next Friday.

Until next time,

Christine

“how can we get you there without getting you there?”

Happy NaNoWriMo 2018 to you all!
This week’s post is meant to declare my writing goals for the next two months along with talking about a very interesting topic that came up the other day over lunch with my writer friends. Here’s how it happened:
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We gathered among mac & cheese and made vows to be the very best “accountabilibuddies” (translation: accountability buddies) we could be over the course of the next two months. (Yes, we extended our NaNoRebel goals all the way until the end of December) We reviewed what our goals would be and how we hope to achieve them.
With the looming first week deadline fast approaching, inspiration came up, and the idea of sparking the right kind of feeling to sit down and write. This expanded into the topic of travel plans. My good friend leaned over and said, “I should just go there, right? No big deal!” We all laughed together, because while it would be wonderful to hop on a plane and travel to a different country, it’s not always doable.
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So, I posed the question…”How can we get you there without getting you there?”

That is the challenge, right? For many of us, our inspiration comes from far off lands. Even if we are writing about a fantasy world, chances are we gathered inspiration from some real life location. So, what do we do when we can’t abandon the ship of our real life to set sail for unexplored territory? After all, we can’t all be Sasha Alsberg

…even though sometimes I would really like to be! Have you seen her awesome hair? Her color-coded bookshelves?

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Moving on…

So, I got to thinking. What could we do to get there without getting there? In times where I want to feel my setting, I mean really try to FEEL it, I try to turn to the five senses. Maybe all of these aren’t achievable, but here is what I have been mulling over these past few days…

Start with a character if you can. I really like to put myself in the shoes of characters when possible. Then try some of the following:

Taste: What would the people in your setting eat and drink? They’ve come home after a long day and it’s time for dinner. What would be on the table?

Touch: Is it hot where they are? Maybe it’s time for a trip to the sauna… Is it super cold? Well, we have been getting down to the low 30s in NJ lately. Perhaps it’s time for a late night stroll.

Smell: I am a candle addict. Chances are, it doesn’t smell like “Puurfect Pumpkin” in the setting of my book, but somehow it still fuels the inspiration.

Sound: This is one I absolutely swear by. I have soundtracks for every character in my story, along with many soundtracks for different types of scenes. The thing is, there are soundscapes for everything these days. Head on over to youtube and type in “Busy street sound effect.” You’ll get a ton of results. The possibilities are endless. Oh, and don’t forget to crank it up! Immerse yourself! (Forget about the neighbors.)

Sight: This is kind of self-explanatory. This is where we stare at pictures of the places we want to travel to. I like to change my desktop to a certain location that I’m working on. Every time I see it, it reminds me of certain details I’d like to include. I also highly recommend vision boards! Just because you’re not going there today or next week, you might still go some day! Make a beautiful collage of what you want to see when you’re there one day.

I guess we could all chip in on a magic carpet if this doesn’t work…

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…and last but not least…my NaNoRebelRevisionGoals!

November 1-4: Chapters 1-3

November 5-11: Chapters 4-6

November 12-18: Chapters 7-9

November 19-25: Chapters 10-12

 

November 26-December 2: Chapters 13-15

December 3-9: Chapters 16-18

December 10-16: Chapters 19-20

December 17-23: Chapters 21-22

 

Thanks for joining me here today. Tweet me your thoughts @AWritersWay. You can look for a progress update next Thursday!

Until next time,

Christine

 

5 writing books I love

It’s safe to assume that if you are a writer you are going to purchase books about writing. I don’t think I know a writer that doesn’t have at least one! Sure, some writers may take it a bit too far and stop reading other genre books, but for the most part I think certain books on writing can be a helpful resource to turn to. I do believe that if you really want to strengthen your writing, it’s a good idea to dive into a big pile of books written in the genre of your project. However, there needs to be balance and we just love reading everything anyway, right?

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For today’s post I thought it would be fun to show you five writing books that I absolutely love and give you some reasons why. Take a look!

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Reading Like a Writer 

by Francine Prose

This is a book that I bought many years ago after taking a fiction writing workshop. Since then, I’ve read it a few times. Prose draws on the writing and experience of many familiar authors you may know like Austen, Dickens, and Wolff. It’s a great book to keep on your nightstand or in your purse to flip through from time to time.

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The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide To Character Expression 

by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi

Oh, I can’t say enough about this series of books. Yes, it is a series and there are all types of emotions covered. This is the first one out of the series that I bought and I think that’s why it’s my favorite. You know when you’re writing and you keep using lame adjectives? This is a great book to turn to. Pick a feeling and there are tons of ways to express it right there in front of you.

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First Draft in 30 Days 

by Karen S. Wiesner

Ever tried NaNoWriMo? I guess it was about five years ago when I tried it for the first time. Faced with the task of writing 50,000 words in one month, a friend of mine told me to buy this book. I would describe it as a very helpful, detailed guide on how to write an amazing outline. I remember utilizing parts of the book (which I still use today) and it helped my novel flow.

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What Would Your Character Do? 

by Eric Maisel and Ann Maisel

This is my oldest book on writing for sure. It was one of the first writing books I ever purchased when I was just daydreaming about what it would be like to call myself a writer. What’s so cool about this book is, it forces you to take your characters out of their comfort zone. It has tons of different scenarios to put your characters in, questions to ask, and what it all might mean.

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Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft 

by Janet Burroway, Elizabeth Stuckey-French, and Ned Stuckey-French

This is my most expensive and recent writing book purchase. After completing the Frost Place Poetry Seminar workshop, this book was recommended to me based on my interest in novel writing. The reason it was so expensive was because it is technically a textbook that is used in many current MFA programs and I felt compelled to buy a brand new one. So far, I’m not sorry. It’s proven to be worth the money. Sometimes you need to feel like a student again and turning to a textbook forces you to think that way. Each chapter has exercises at the end to reinforce the content you just read. I highly recommend it.

So, there they are…in no particular order…5 writing books I love. You can follow the links attached to each title to grab a copy. I hope that at least one of these books has peaked your interest. What are some of your favorite books on writing?

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Thanks for joining me here today. Tweet me your thoughts @AWritersWay. Remember, you can join me here every Thursday for new posts!

Until next time,

Christine

 

 

 

 

the art of brainstorming

“Being a writer is a very peculiar sort of a job: it’s always you versus a blank sheet of paper (or a blank screen) and quite often the blank piece of paper wins.”

-Neil Gaiman

I’ve been pondering how often I allow myself to contemplate as a writer. Day to day life gets so hectic that it can sometimes feel impossible to spare time for actual writing let alone brainstorming. At this point in my writing career, I’ve worn a few different hats. I started out writing poetry, moved to novels, back to poetry, worked my way into the freelance writing world of pop culture news, and came back to novels about a year and a half ago.

My current passion project is a young adult fantasy novel, and thanks to social media groups like #5amWritersClub, I have been able to get on a really nice regimen with my writing. With that said, I’ve also been considering how much more productive I am when I sit down with the blank page after allowing myself time to brainstorm.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Christine, how? Why? I don’t have time.”

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I understand. When I first started dating my boyfriend, who is also a writer, about two and a half years ago, I was perplexed when he would tell me about how important brainstorming is. As a writer who always scrambled to the page, crossed my fingers, and hoped for the best, I couldn’t imagine setting aside time for that.

After a while, I realized the difference between my writing methods and the way my boyfriend did things. As an expert ponderer, he always approached his writing sessions with ease and not a lot of anxiety. I figured, I had to give it a shot! I would make time for brainstorming and see if it helped.

Well, there’s a reason this post is called “the art of brainstorming.” People, it works. The more I ponder, the more prepared I am when I get to the page. Sure, it’s not always butterflies and rainbows, but the difference is clear. When I allow time for brainstorming, the writing flows.

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If it sounds like a daunting task, start small:

  1. Put on a song that inspires you and brainstorm what your next scene will be about for the length of that song.
  2. Write down three plot points that you know you want to conquer in your next chapter.
  3. Take a walk and think about what your characters are feeling at the present moment in your W.I.P.

If you already fancy yourself a brainstorming expert, cheers! Pour yourself a hot cup of coffee and stare at the ceiling while the scenes come to life in your imagination. Don’t let anyone tell you that brainstorming isn’t productive. It absolutely is a necessary part of creation and it should be practiced.

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Thanks for joining me here today. Tweet me your thoughts @AWritersWay. Remember, you can join me here every Thursday for new posts!

Next week will be about breaking bad writing habits.

Until next time,

Christine