Night Buddies - Adventures After Lights Out

4 Ways to Prepare for NaNoWriMo

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Halloween is almost here, and while some get excited for costumes, trick-or-treating, and scary movie nights, most writers out there will tell you that the best part of Halloween is when the clock strikes midnight…and NaNoWriMo officially begins!

Every November thousands of writers come together with one common goal—to write a 50,000-word novel (or start of a novel) in one single month. It’s crazy. It’s audacious. There is more coffee consumed in one month than the rest of the year combined. But it’s also a time to start making your novel-writing dreams come true, no perfectionistic pressure allowed! (more…)

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Writers: Pay Attention to the Details

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Now that our kids have gone back to school, we writer-parents have a little more alone time on our hands to get back into a writing groove. Which is why I thought now would be a perfect time to share a few writing tips over the next few weeks with you!

I’ve given and been given a number of writing tips over the years—I think, as writers, we are always seeking the expertise of others to consistently improve our knowledge of the craft. But so much of the writing advice out there focuses on helping writers through big scenes. They focus on making big plot decisions, on structuring your novel, on getting your main character just right.

And while all of this stuff is MAJORLY important, I’d like to tell you all today that good writing pays attention to the small details every bit as much as it focuses on the big plot points. Don’t let any part of your book remain insignificant…even the smallest scene needs to count.

The scenes you might think need the most attention are the ones where a mystery is revealed, a character dies, an explosion happens, etc. etc. But what about the scene where your character is talking to his mother? What does that scene have to do with your story? What does it reveal about your characters or the way the view the world?

Small details, like the weather, or the time of day, or what the air smelled like, will also significantly improve your story once you really focus on them. Details ground us in stories, and they are every bit as important as the big plot point that drives the story forward.

The point I’m trying to make is that there are NO parts of your story that should slip by you as unimportant, or even as less important than something else. Make a decision to pay attention to every word you write down. Make everything count. And I promise, your story will be the better for it.

What small details do you like to pay attention to in your writing? Are you a fan of writing the details? Let me know in the comments!

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4 Ways to Find Inspiration as a Writer

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One of the most fun and most difficult parts of being a writer is finding your next story. Sometimes a bestselling idea will hit you out of nowhere, but more often than not you have to go out into the world and seek inspiration. But where do you go? And how do you do it? (more…)

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Q&A Series Part V: “How Do You Write a First Draft?”

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Hi all, and welcome back to my Q&A series, where I answer your questions in long-form on my blog! This week I decided to answer a Frequently Asked Question from Goodreads, which asks, “How do you motivate yourself to get through writing the first draft of a book?”

Writing a first draft of a book is an exciting, scary, and sometimes even emotional experience for writers, but it can also be one of the best parts of the writing process! To help you out, I’m offering you the best four tips I have to get through it as painlessly as possible. (more…)

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Writing Tip: How to Complete NaNoWriMo 2016!

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Before we get into this week’s blog post, I want you to know that I am running a giveway through this Friday, October 28th, where you have the chance to win a complete 3-book Night Buddies set! Enter on my Facebook page here.

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Well folks, we are only one week away from the most hectic, exciting, and difficult writing event of the year—National Novel Writing Month. That’s right, all across the globe writers are going to be taking on the challenge of writing 50,000 words in 30 days during the month of November, and I want you to be prepared to reach this milestone in your writing life! If you follow these guidelines, prepare to be a NaNoWriMo winner… (more…)

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Writing Tip: Commit To Your Projects

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People often talk about writing a book as similar to giving birth to a child. You conceive the idea, spend many months forming it into existence, and then birth it out into the world to develop a life of its own. While that metaphor makes sense to me, I’ve always looked at writing the Night Buddies series a little differently…

Writing a book is like entering into a long-term relationship.

You fall into head-over-heels love with your book idea, and jump into a relationship with it. You spend long nights alone together, you envision a long and prosperous life together. Maybe you’ll become a New York Times bestseller. Maybe this book will allow you to quit your day job. This book is “the one,” and it’s about to change your life forever.

But when you’re a few months into the writing process, that puppy dog love starts to wear thin. You start trying to put some distance between you and the book. “I’ve worked on it enough this week, it’s time for a break.” You get into arguments, the plot holes start to show themselves. You realize your book is actually going to take a lot of work, and it doesn’t look so pretty and fun anymore. You might start to resent your book; you may even start to hate it.

But that’s the thing about long-term relationships—they require commitment. You have to keep showing up for them even on the hard days. You have to resist the pretty new people (or book ideas) that come along and try to tempt you away from what you know deep down is actually working. And the more you commit to it, the more it prospers and develops into something beautiful, and yes, something potentially life-changing.

The only way to ever complete a project and try to see your big dreams come true is to finish what you start. You can look up every writing tip in the book, but it won’t matter how well you write if you don’t commit to writing your projects through to completion.

Commit to writing your book through until you type the words, “The End.” Commit to editing that book until it reads exactly right. Commit to working on your book until all the kinks are smoothed out. Savor late nights alone with your project. Remember why you originally fell in love with it. Don’t give up on it, even if you send it out into the world and it gets rejected, or poorly reviewed, or ignored. Keep committing to it every single day, and you will see the benefit of that commitment change your life.

You’ll get to hold your finished book in your hands and think, “That was the best commitment I’ve ever made in my life.

Do you prefer to think of writing as birthing a child or committing to a relationship? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

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Q&A Series Part 2: Advice for Aspiring Authors

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One question authors get asked all the time is, “What advice do you have for someone who wants to write a book?” or “How do I get a book published?” So for today’s Q&A, I thought I’d share my answers with any of you aspiring authors out there!

The really true, and absurdly simple, answer to the question, “What advice do you have for someone who wants to write a book?” is just to write one. That’s the great and difficult thing about writing…it doesn’t take a special degree to do it, it takes the discipline of sitting down every day to write your book until it is finished. And if you have a story you want to write, the greatest thing you can do it to let that desire drive you until the last word has been written.

That’s the best piece of advice I have—tell a story that matters enough to you that you will be motivated to finish it. When I decided to write Night Buddies, Crosley and the other characters had been living both in my head and in my son’s life for so long, telling the story so they could come alive for other children was motivation enough for me to finish it. Each book in the series has been driven by that motivation, and I’ve become a published author because I wanted to tell this story so badly.

So if there’s a story you’re dying to write, that’s all you need to write a book. Don’t let anyone fool you into thinking you need anything more to make that dream come true.

The harder question, and the one I think most people really mean when they ask how they can write a book, is how do they get it published. There are an endless number of answers to this question, but what it truly boils down to is research. You need to decide whether you want to traditionally publish, or self-publish your book, whether you want to try for an agent, and whether you want to hire an editor. If you want to self-publish, you need to decide how much you want to budget for that, what you want your cover to look like, if you want a print book or ebook, how you want the interior design to look like, etc. I personally decided to self-publish my books, in part because it meant that kids could get their hands on it much quicker than if I had to go through the long, traditional publishing route.

So how do you get your book published? First of all, write the best book you can. Work on it until the manuscript sings, and get some second opinions too. And then, research how you want to do it. Whichever way you decide to go about it, I promise that publishing a book is one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll have!

What other questions do you guys have for me? Keep letting me know either in the comments or via social media!

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Writing Tip: Sweat the Small Stuff

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Now that most kids have gone back to school, we writer-parents have a little more alone time on our hands to get back into a writing groove. Which is why I thought now would be a perfect time to share a few writing tips over the next few weeks with you!

I’ve given and been given a number of writing tips over the years—I think, as writers, we are always seeking the expertise of others to consistently improve our knowledge of the craft. But so much of the writing advice out there focuses on helping writers through big scenes. They focus on making big plot decisions, on structuring your novel, on getting your main character just right.

And while all of this stuff is MAJORLY important, I’d like to tell you all today that good writing pays attention to the small details every bit as much as it focuses on the big plot points. Don’t let any part of your book remain insignificant…even the smallest scene needs to count.

The scenes you might think need the most attention are the ones where a mystery is revealed, a character dies, an explosion happens, etc. etc. But what about the scene where your character is talking to his mother? What does that scene have to do with your story? What does it reveal about your characters or the way the view the world?

Small details, like the weather, or the time of day, or what the air smelled like, will also significantly improve your story once you really focus on them. Details ground us in stories, and they are every bit as important as the big plot point that drives the story forward.

The point I’m trying to make is that there are NO parts of your story that should slip by you as unimportant, or even as less important than something else. Make a decision to pay attention to every word you write down. Make everything count. And I promise, your story will be the better for it.

What small details do you like to pay attention to in your writing? Are you a fan of writing the details? Let me know in the comments!

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10 Creative Writing Prompts—For Kids!

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I am an advocate for children using and expanding their imaginations, not only through reading, but through writing! Whether your child struggles with Language Arts or is reading four levels above his or her grade level, providing kids with a creative outlet such as writing has the opportunity to enrich their lives and their classroom performance. But how do you get them started? One good idea is using this Scholastic website, which provides silly and fun writing prompts in a game-like form (when I put in my preferred genre and name, the wheel told me to write about a fuzzy green elf who must return to the sea—yes, please.) But if you’re looking for a straightforward list to return to, here are 10 fun, whacky writing prompts they can try!

1. Your favorite animal just stood up and started talking to you—what conversation do the two of you have?

2. You get cast in a super hero movie…do you play the hero or the villain? Why?

3. Your dad just built a time travel machine! Will you go back in time, or forward? To what year, and why?

4. Write a list of 20 of your favorite things!

5. If you were invisible, what would be the first thing you do?

6. What is the best memory you have with your family? Write a story about it.

7. Invent a new food—describe in detail what it looks like, what it’s called, how it smells, and how it tastes.

8. Describe a time when you were really afraid.

9. Your favorite fictional character has come to life. Who is it, and what do the two of you do together?

10. Write a list of 5 things you love about your best friend. Then, use those things to write them a letter!

Do you, or your children, like to use writing prompts? Let me know what your favorites are in the comments!

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Camp NaNoWriMo: Thoughts on Writing Books

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When you usually hear the term “NaNoWriMo” it’s equated with a marathon-sprint of writing that takes place in the month of November. Anyone in the world can sign up to the challenge of writing a 50,000 word book in a single month (this comes out to just under 2k words a day), and thousands—perhaps millions—of people finally have the excuse they need to get that book in them out onto paper.

And for the summer-loving folks, every July a spin-off event with the same rules called Camp NaNoWriMo takes the writing world by storm again, causing many authors and aspiring authors alike to ask the question, “Should I participate?”

This event has plenty of supporters, and some of those who participate go on to have their original NaNoWriMo project published as an actual book (think, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, which sat on the NYT bestsellers list for 7 weeks). But while many are quick to shout NaNoWriMo’s praise, there are a fair chunk of individuals (and authors) who despise the event as well.

Why, you might wonder, would any event that encourages people to write—and write a lot—be a bad thing?

Now, I’m not a participant of the NaNoWriMo events, and probably never will be (2k words a day sounds more like a nightmare to me than an exciting challenge). But I’m not a critic of the process either. Those who oppose it typically use the argument that writing fast equals writing crap—but I don’t think anyone who completes their 50,000 word first draft in 30 days would disagree with that when they look back over it to edit.

What those critics forget is just that—in order for a first draft to become a book, it will go through many, many rounds of edits.

Some authors prefer to take their time when writing their story. They prefer writing in slow, deliberate chunks to let the magic of their made-up world really soak into them. But other authors get bored if their first draft takes too long to put down on paper, needing a challenge like NaNoWriMo to get them out of their “perfection” brain and just write the story. In either case, editing will be needed.

Writing a book is a long process. One that takes longer than 30 days, no matter how you look at it. But if you’re participating in Camp NaNoWriMo this month, you’re taking a giant leap toward getting that finished manuscript in your hands, which is something to be celebrated!

Are you participating in Camp NaNoWriMo this month? Let me know what you’re working on in the comments!

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