Tag Archives: 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 🙂

The Month of December

8 Dec

So, during NaNo I wrote the fast draft of Secret Girlfriend in two weeks. Then I did some stuff for other people and read and got a holiday job.


Now, I have three weeks to flush it out, edit it, edit it, find a reader, polish it and send it to the Delacorte Contest for YA.


In the meantime, I’m still working on my Word Notebook. Taking notes, listening to people talk, walking the mall with a handy-dandy and listening to the way teens twist words (which is pretty darn cool).


So, December, things I need:

1. Finish this book
2. Find a reader/proofer
3. Work on Word Notebook
4. Read for K
5. Finish M’s world bible that I’ve been doing in very small increments


What’s your December look like?

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.

Create Your Own Word Notebook – Day Two

29 Nov

There are a ton of tools out there that will get you started on your Word Notebook, so let’s not recreate the wheel.


The first one I want to point to is Deanna Carlyle’s site. She has a great page with 1001 Verbs already split out for you by group HERE. This will give you a good start of finding words to add to your Word Notebook later.


Next I’m going to ask the hard question: Do you have a thesaurus. I’m not talking the free thesaurus.com online. I mean a really good thesaurus.  If you’ve been playing along at home, you know I strongly recommend (and so does the lovely Word Strumpet) Roget’s Thesaurus. What makes Roget’s so great? It isn’t the thesaurus you had in jr. high where you look up the word alphabetically and there’s a short list of words that mean roughly the same thing.

Instead, you look up the word in the index. It gives the word and all it’s possible connotations. You choose the connotation you want. When you turn to that page, it has the list of words by parts of speech. The best part is, if that wasn’t exactly what you were looking for, it’s surrounded by similar words instead of whatever word would come next alphabetically. Most times, just toying with a couple of pages finds you the best word.


Your next assignment is to sit down and make a list of your favorite authors or favorite books. Check out your shelves, if they aren’t there, get to the library and grab them. I’d suggest at least 5 different authors and/or genres.


Yup, your homework is reading books you love. Make sure you stop at the local office supply story and pick up little page flags like this:

You’re going to need those to mark pages not only later in your Word Notebook, but in the Fav Five you’re reading.


I’m not telling you not to enjoy the book, but this is work – so enjoy the work. Flag pages with words, phrases, unique turns of phrases, twists in cliches/words/phrases, movements you’ve not used, expressions (facial and verbal), interesting ways of looking at things, small one-liners that show you more than a page ever could. If you can bring yourself to do it (and it isn’t a library book) highlight the thing that grabbed your attention and write in the margins why you found it so brilliant. If you can’t, then put a post-it in there with the explanation.


Next, rent one of your favorite movies on DVD – BUT, make sure it has a director’s commentary on it. I’ve learned more about how my characters move listening to the director’s commentary on films and how they shot things or moved their actors than I have from any craft book. It will be the best 90 mins of non-writing/non-craft book activity I can offer you. Take notes as you listen.


We’re going to use all these in the next section. Enjoy your homework!

Create Your Own Word Notebook – Day One

24 Nov

So, did you make your lists? Did you check them twice? If not, go back and use Create Your Own Word Notebook – Pre-Work to get them together.


Let’s start with your overused words.  I ran HealaDoc on my pre-edited manuscript and here’s a sample of my words:

The first grouping was: The, To, Her, And, You, I, She, Of, His, and He.  Obviously articles and pronouns are going to be at the top.


Scanning down, the first words I found that were too high on the list were: Will, Do, Are, Then, Out, Back, Were, All, Know, Up, Eyes, Been, See, Here, Like, Turn, Said, Think, Around, Down, Than, Wish, Come, Never, Behind, Only, About, Even, Go, Thought, Little, Just, Upon, Perhaps, Should, Came, Still, Tell, Look, After, Beside, Long, Must, Told, Glanced, Moment, Nodded, Pulled, Small, Looked, Some, Much, Saw, Smiled, Toward, Believe, Felt, Many, Very, Began, While, Sat, Since, Seen, These, Nothing, Watched, Most, Stood, Off, Already, Good, Open, Past, Speak, Those, Such, Moved, Thing, Called, Hear, Going, Spoke, Low, Feel, Continued, It’s, Raised, Fell, Under, sit, Truly, Finally, Any, Which, Put, Tried, Seemed, Entered, Waited, Large, Passed, Started, Went, Laughed, Closer, Above, Gently, Suddenly, Quickly, Lovely, and Probably.


I know what you’re thinking: WOW! That’s a long list and she has a lot of bad, overused words. Keep a couple things in mind. (1) This is off my first draft – I write long, not clean. (2) Not all these words are at the top of the list. Some are nearing the bottom, but they aren’t strong words and deserve to be looked at regardless of where they fall. This is where you want to grab your words b/c this is how you WRITE. Editing is what makes you a writer 🙂


If you didn’t run the adverbs list, do that also. Remember, adverbs are a clue you need to strengthen your verbs. So, even if the adverb isn’t at the top, it’s good to highlight your adverbs and search.


So, you have your list, get another piece of paper and make sections for: Overused Words, Weak Verbs, Weak & Overused Actions.

So, for example, a short version of my list would be:


Overused words: Little, Perhaps, Moment, Thought

I put words like “thought” in there because typically when I use words like thought, saw, listened, etc it’s me pulling back out of POV and I need to just drop the “He saw” at the beginning to get back in.

Weak Verbs: Went, Called, Come,

Weak & Overused Actions: Turned, Nodded, Laughed, Smiled


Some of the words are going to be in more than one list. I’d recommend running the process for more than one manuscript to get a good cross section of your work.

What’s on your list? Huh? Huh? Huh? 



Who did the movement homework? (If you’re reading this months after it’s posted, play along anyway!)

I did, but need to keep going. Here’s a few I thought were things I’d never used before the activity — Ok, I’ll admit, some of these are from doing it this past summer. Don’t forget, they aren’t weird or surprising movements, although you should try to find some of those also. They’re just movements you don’t remember to write into your work.

  • Rubbing lower back
  • Pulling earlobe
  • Cracking knuckles
  • Cross and uncrossing legs
  • Rub eyes
  • Stand with one leg propped up like the Pilates stance
  • Fans money and slaps it impatiently against other hand

Those are just a few I saw. I liked the last one. You can see it and hear it and KNOW the person is probably standing in a slow moving line getting agitated and trying not to say anything.

What did you find?


Wednesday, we’ll work on the lists that we separated out. Be ready!

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.

Make Your Own Word Notebook & Other Stuff

18 Nov

The Word Notebook is gone and It is a tragedy after slowly accumulating all the info in there for years.  But, onward and upward. It was a great tool and so I’ll be making another one. I’m challenging you to make your own along with me.


HERE is a description of the notebook I used.  Sometimes they aren’t easy to find. I got another one at the Blue Tulip this weekend. Any little notebook that’s divided into 4 to 5 sections should work. I bought the medium size AND the large one. Why? Because I’m never losing that darn thing again and I need the medium one to travel around with me where I’m writing. So, grab some type of divided notebook – there’s tons out there, and come back Thursday for your first step in creating your own Word Notebook along with me.


I’m not a huge tools person. I’m that girl who always thinks they look like a lot of fun and then try to use them and never really learn anything. Some are good checks for if I’m on track, but really, the only tools I use are my Word Notebook and Edit Cards.


Which brings us to the Edit Cards.

Yes, I’m still working on them. I put them aside for a little while to finish a project I need to get done. Actually, 2 projects I need to get done. One isn’t even for me, so I need to get my butt in gear and finish it.


AND, Finally —- I WON! I WON!  I have proven over at YA Edge that I KNOW how to procrastinate. Sela was there, she watched it happened and basically laughed her butt of at me as all the chat newbies were like, “so you’re writing about a museum? No, a nymph? No, an artist? What the heck are you writing about????” Thanks to Sela for understanding that Research Is A Drug.  And thanks to YA Edge for appreciating my lack of focus… I mean, my Insane Researching Skills!

Writing Tragedy Strikes Luv YA

17 Nov

My Word Notebook is gone — I feel lost with out it. 


Kind of ironic to be starting from scratch after just doing a whole thing on it and feeling so proud of my multi-colored organizing superpower *sigh*


Also lost in the tragedy: Favorite blue shirt, Favorite black sweater, 2 pens and my ugly purple backpack I’ve had since I was 14 and bought because it was super-on sale and I could afford it.


So, if anyone started their Word Notebooks or already had one…put your favorite page in the comments! Help me rebuild my book!