Tag Archives: create your own word notebook

Luv YA Book Club & Other 2009 Stuff

4 Jan

It’s a new year and there’s a couple of things on my To-Do list for the Luv YA blog that I’m really excited about.


The first is my new Book Club monthly post.  Every day I get at least one person following the Summer Reading Series around and clicking out to the authors I talked about. Since this has obviously been such a big hit — AND to force me to keep up with my TBR pile as things come out — I’m starting a monthly Book Club. We’ll read a recent release and open a thread for discussion on the second Monday of the month. I look forward to hearing what other people think and see if we find the next big thing 🙂


On that note, the first books will be:

Deadly Little Secrets by Laurie Stolarz for Monday, January 12th
ABC’s of Kissing Boys by Tina Ferraro for Monday, February 16th


How did I pick these?  Well, DLS seems to be everywhere – agent blogs, reader blogs, publisher blogs….so, why not my blog? I realized I was going to read it anyway and thought it would be a great book to kick off the year with!

ABC’s by Tina Ferraro was another super-easy pick. I already pre-ordered my book a while ago. Tina was amazingly gracious to us when I was over at Purple Hearts. I emailed her basically out of the blue with a “Hello Stranger who answered my fan email” email and asked if she’d be willing to guest blog at PHearts. She not only said yes, but did an amazing blog and contest give-away. She’s the type of author you want to succeed – talented, fun and nice. So, like I said, another easy pick. Check out her great post on PHearts Why YA?


But, what will we read in March? I don’t know — how about some suggestions? What new late February/early March book would you like to see here?

The other thing that has been getting a lot of hits since the holidays are winding down is the series on Creating Your Own Word Notebook…..you all thought you were off the hook, didn’t you? Not so fast. I warned you you’d have a couple weeks to do the homework and relax thru the new year, but now 2009 is here and we’re ready to go again. So I hope you’ve been collecting words, people watching and taking notes, because we’re going to start the “putting together” part soon.


Other than that, stick around for more unpub’d writer stuff….maybe you’ll be the first to find out I’m the next big thing…..OK, maybe you’ll be the first to find out I’m the next small to medium thing 🙂

Creating A Word Notebook – Doing The Steps

9 Dec

So, one of the things you’re doing right now if you’re following a long is reading Keeper Books.


I pulled two off my shelf this week – but it was hard. Really Really Really Hard. Why? I pulled two books I said I wouldn’t read again. I know it makes no sense to have two books on my keeper shelf I don’t plan on reading again, but they were so GOOD. So. Darn. Good.


So good they nearly destroyed me. If you followed me here from Purple Hearts, you probably already heard me talk about both of them:
The Passions of Emma, by Penelope Williams
Prince of Thieves, by Chuck Hogan


Both these books are great – emotionally true – and deal in some very hard issues. I highly recommend reading both of them. DO NOT read the back cover of The Passions of Emma first — It gives away the BIG  HUGE turning point (and some of the littler ones) leaving you only to wonder about the ending. If you have any interest in writing grittier guys – do not pass up the chance to read Prince of Thieves.


I pulled these books out, not to read the whole thing, but to open to sections and bask in the language, cadence and verb play. I’ve already started marking bits and pieces. 


This weekend I’m getting out the 2007 movie “Invisible.” I recall it having a great Directors Commentary.


How are you doing? What have you pulled – anything you’d suggest? And the important question: Why?

Word Notebook – Check in

3 Dec

For those of you playing along at home, this is just a check in to see if you’re grabbing your Keeper Books and filling them with stickies.


Anyone want to share – you’ve all been really quiet here and email-wise.

Creating a Word Notebook – The Pre-Work

20 Nov

Because everyone’s Word Notebook would be different, they aren’t something that can magically be reproduced for everyone, but everyone can reproduce one.


Today, we’re going to talk about pre-work.


The purpose of the Word Notebook is to be your own personal thesaurus, dictionary, writing and editing tool. Just creating the book will key you into your own mistakes, bad habits and overlooked editing issues.


Pre-Work Step 1

Download a writing analysis software – I highly recommend Healadoc.com

Upload several of your manuscripts.

Using the overused word function run through the list. Looking at the first manuscript, keep a running list of the overused words. Be prepared to make marks next to the words of if their over used in all your documents. Keep in mind that not all overused words will be at the very top of the list and not all words at the top of the list are overused.

For example, you need to throw away the articles at that top of the list (the, a, an) Obviously, you’re going to use those a lot. There are other words that may be fairly high that you don’t want to throw away. Names for example (although, it is common to overuse names where you don’t need them.) Or if you have a family based story where the theme of ‘family’ was discussed in dialogue and narrative, perhaps the word “family” might appear more often than in other stories. 

OR, you could have a word that only appears 2 or 3 times, but it’s overused. How many times in one book do you really think you can get away with effervescence?


So, you’ve made your lists. Sort them by word type: noun, verb, adjective, adverb. First off, adverbs and adjectives are a big clue to strengthen your nouns and verbs. Nouns can typically be strengthened by using proper or more specific nouns. Does he drive an old truck OR a rust-red ’51 Chevy Pickup?  The two phrases draw very different pictures. The first one draws whatever picture the reader has in their own history. The second one draws YOUR picture.

Verbs, are typically strengthened by searching for your overused verbs or verbs partnered with adverbs.

Did he run fast? Or, did he sprint, race, jog, hurtle, plow, lunge, etc?

What constitutes a weak verb? You’re going to have to decide that most of the time for yourself, but watch for those adverbs. They’re you’re first clue.


The purpose of the word book is to find these overused words learn what you use, find them, and repair them,
To give yourself your own resource when your feeling wordless
To stop you from having to tote a thesaurus for words you find yourself looking up all the time
To save words and phrases you love and want to remember to play with


Single word issues aren’t the only thing we’re going to solve – how about those pesky phrases and actions.


I’ll be honest, if my characters turn any more in the first draft, their going to get dizzy and toss their biscuits. Also, they shrug, nod and smile way too much. Most of the overused actions will be found through your overused verb list as well. But watch for those low numbered ones also.


Pre-Work Step 2:

Relearning movement. This is so important. Most people struggle with mundane movement in their writing. Give us a battle scene or a ball and we can choreograph to our hearts content, but put people in a room having a discussion, and uh-oh.

I try to give each of my characters their own standard movements. If only one character nods it isn’t going to become as overused as if we let everyone nod.  But how do we find new, interesting, telling but easy to read over motions. WATCHING.

I’m giving you permission (Ok, actually, not permission, homework) to go peep on people. Find a  place where a lot of different types and ages of people will be and you can sit and watch. Your coffee shop may not be the best place if it only caters to one type of clientele. The mall is good. Public transportation is good. The line in the grocery story. The laundromat. At the movies. Watching the person next to you at the light. Out for your walk. Wherever there are people.


My best suggestion: Grab a friend who doesn’t write. Offer to buy her coffee and chocolate. Give her a notebook. Tell her only that you’re collecting body motions for your writing and could she record what she sees. Ask her to jot a note if the motion made a clear impression of an attitude or emotion. WHY A NON-WRITING FRIEND? They aren’t trying to figure out how best to say it, editing themselves. They’re just catching things fast and recording them. One of mine thought it was easier to draw quick pictures. She almost made little comics. She caught things I never would have seen because I was “expressing myself.”


So, that’s your homework: Make your list (not in your Word Notebook, we’ll do that later) and catch motions on paper.

Just let the Word Notebook sit there looking blank and helpful. We’ll start filling it up soon.