Friday, May 30, 2008

Want to get to know your protagonist better? Take him on a trip! But what to pack?. . . hmmmmmm

If you took your protagonist on a trip, what would he/she pack?

I'm taking a slow hike through "Reading Like A Writer" by Francine Prose. I have a hard time reading non fiction. They aren't page-turners. I've had the book for over a month and I'm only in chapter 3. But it's worth the trudging.

I loved the idea from chapt 2 about using character choices as one way to show personality and mindset. Is your character mature or immature? cautious or carefree? neat or messy?

Prose uses an example from "A Distant Episode" by Paul Bowles. A professor traveling to the North African desert packs two small overnight bags full of maps, sun lotions, and medicines.

Prose says:
"The contests of the Professor's two small over night bags full of maps, sun lotions, and medicines provide a tiny mini-course in the importance of close reading. The protagonist's anxiety and cautiousness, his whole psychological makeup, has been communicated in five words (maps, sun lotions, and medicines) and without the need to use one descriptive adjective or phrase. (He was an anxious man, who worried about getting lost or sunburned or sick, and so forth.) What very different conclusions we might form about a man who carries a bag filled with dice, syringes, and a hand gun."

This section made me want to think of my own protagonist. Do I know her psyche well enough to show her personality through her unique packing choices?

Then I also thought about the certain things I always pack: I always take lip balm and more books than clothing, and what does my husband pack: mostly just clothes and always waits til the last minute to pack. I know someone that always packs a can of lysol disinfectant spray. . . what choices do we make that show who we are? It makes an interesting character study and a fun creative exercise.

The next step: Go back through my MS and see what scenes provide opportunity to show personality through choices. It's kind of like mining for diamonds. You've got to locate the gems, bring them to the surface and then make 'em shine!

Gotta go help my protagonist pack now. Buh-bye!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

I won the pitch contest! Yea!!!!

Remember the pitch contest from Donna's blog?

I won! *\o/* yea!

A big thanks to Donna for hosting this contest and to authors Stephanie Reed and Susan Marlow for judging. I really needed to work on my pitch and this contest helped me get my butt in gear.

I never put much effort into a pitch. Quite honestly, it didn't appeal to me. I'm writing a novel for crying out loud! I like words. Lots and lots of words! To think of taking a story that is 50,000 + words and condensing it down to 25 words or less didn't just sound impossible; the thought horrified me!

Then, I went to the writers retreat in Chapel Hill, NC this past April. For those who read my blog on a regular basis, there's no doubt, you're getting sick of hearing about this retreat. I can't help but write about it. I learned so much and feel that I grew leaps and bounds as a writer in just one weekend.

Sarah Shumway, editor at Dutton/Penguin, spoke about pitches. Her lecture opened my eyes to the necessity of a good pitch. Bottom line: it's crucial. Here's a link to some of my notes from her session.

We had a stimulating discussion on our SCBWI Carolina's list serve about pitches and I have a great critique buddy (you know who you are) who helped me work on the pitch. It's great to have insight from those who are honest and constructive.

You need to go over and read all the pitches. There are so many great plots and story lines!!!! When all these works in progress are published, I'm going to have a lot of reading to do!

oh, and here's my pitch for my YA fantasy novel: (cue fast music with a heavy drum beat)
"A runaway slave girl encounters forbidden love and a stealthy enemy while searching for three mystical charms missing from a family heirloom."

I can already hear the book trailer . . . . . (you have to think positive you know!) :0)

Happy writing everyone!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Bouncing Baby Butterflies!!!!!!!

Yes. The proud moment has arrived! All five of my caterpillars . . . er. . . um . . . I mean my KIDS caterpillars are now butterflies. 4 of them yesterday and the last one came out today.

How does it happen? You ask.

I'm so glad you asked such a good question, so I'll tell you. I just happen to have some pictures to share as visual aides.

First, notice the cocoon on the bottom. Do you see the stripes? Those stripes are signs that the cocoon is stretching and that the butterfly will soon emerge.
When the wing pattern becomes visible, as it is on the bottom cocoon, the butterfly is only mintues away from making it's big debut!

It happens fast! I didn't get picture of the buttefly coming out, because I was video taping it. Don't laugh. Yes I video taped it. There's nothing wrong with it. It's very educational and . . . I'm a nerd. I like that kind of thing.

If I can figure out how to get my video on You Tube, I'll share the butterfly coming out of his cocoon. I haven't figured that out yet.

We now have 5 beautiful bouncing baby, painted lady butterflies fluttering around our butterfly house. In a couple of days they will have had plenty of flying practice and we'll set them free. Right now, they are hopping around and trying to figure out how to use their wings.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Interview with Author, Tina Ferraro

I have a very special treat today! Tina Ferraro, Author of How to Hook a Hottie and Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress, has stopped by my blog to answer some questions about writing and books in general. We even get a sneak peek into her book coming out in the Spring '10!!!!

Here's what Tina has to say . . . .

On writing:

So tells us, what was it like when you got 'the call" for your very first book offer. What were you doing at the time? What was it like?
Warning, this is NOT your average story. My youngest son, 11 at the time, had broken his arm in half on the school playground and required emergency surgery. I had been up all night with him in the hospital when my cell phone rang. It was my agent, telling me that she had a formal offer from Krista Marino at Random House for Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress. I was so overwhelmed with exhaustion and emotion that I could barely process the enormity of what was happening. It wasn’t until hours later, when my son was home in his own bed, that it truly hit me: I’d sold a book!

I had the honor of meeting your editor, Krista Marino, this past April. She seems like a fabulous editor. Tell me, what is it like working with Krista?
Fabulous is the right word. She’s smart, intuitive, funny, and always right!

What is your writing routine like?
No two days are the same. Some days I write like a house on fire, some days I don’t write at all. Some days I just edit or research or take notes. But usually I do my best work in the morning and when my kids are at school. In the evenings I’m more distracted and tend to do promo and blog work, and chat with writers and readers on MySpace.

How long did it take to write "How to Hook a Hottie"?
Coming up with the idea and the first couple chapters to submit took me probably three months. I had a serious case of Second Book Syndrome, wanting to follow up with something “the same, but different.” My daughter and I took long walks in the evenings, kicking around ideas, but I always came back to a girl who started a matchmaking business for all the wrong reasons. So I went with it. Once Krista approved the partial, the writing of the rest of the book took four or five months, written in big bursts of inspiration that left me exhausted.

How many revisions did you have to complete before it was ready to go to print?
Only two. Krista thought I did a good job with the storyline and the pacing, much to my relief!

What was your favorite part about writing How to Hook a Hottie?
I had great fun creating the hexagon. I thought it was possible I’d finally lost my mind, kept expecting to look back to it and be horrified. But every time, I still liked it!

What was the most frustrating part about writing How to Hook a Hottie?
Keeping the hook-ups straight. I kept charts, but it didn’t keep even me from getting confused. I ended up including that confusion into Kate’s characterization because if I was confused, it stood to reason she was, too.

What writing advice would you like to give new and aspiring authors?
I decided a long time ago to build on the adage to “write what you know,” to include “writing what you don’t know,” as well. I find that tackling projects outside my comfort zone elevates my enthusiasm and abilities. So I would encourage others to stretch themselves, to attempt writing projects that seem at first out of their reach. Because you never know what you’re capable of until you try.

Can you tell us anything about your current work in progress?
Sure! It’s called WHEN BAD FLINGS HAPPEN TO GOOD GIRLS, will be released in the Spring of ’10. Here is the work-in-progress blurb:

It took 17 years for Brandy Womack to get her life just the way she wanted it--and about 17 seconds for it to fall apart. Her well-intending best friends tell her it's time to stop working so hard and "get a life." By this, they mean a boyfriend, and they give her the summer to find one, or they're going to go hunting the halls themselves. Not realizing that adding a boyfriend to her hectic AP and robotics team schedule, she'd have zero time for them.

Away at her uncle's cabin, Brandy sets out to find a guy who will "break her heart," so she can return from summer in need of her friend's TLC, rather than matchmaking skills, and then can resume her well-planned life.

She quickly finds the perfect candidate. But hooking up with the user/loser lifeguard proves harder than she can imagine. Even with the help from his nice-guy friend who seems to have his own reasons for getting them together--and to keep them apart...

On Reading:

What is the most recent book that you have read? I almost finished with Tera Lynn Child’s Oh.My.God. TLC, as we call her at the Buzz Girls blog ( is a good friend, but friend or no friend, her book is a terrific read. Heartwarming, funny, and a real page turner.

What are some of your favorite books? In no particular order and with no bias because I do not know any of the authors, I have loved reading: A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly (assistant edited by Krista Marino, as it turned out!), the Kinsey Millhone mystery series, the Myron Bolitar mystery series, the Stephanie Plum mystery series, Austenland by Shannon Hale, Can You Keep a Secret? by Sophie Kinsella...

You can check out my review of How to Hook a Hottie by clicking Here

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Story Night at Chick-fil-A with Gloria Glenn

This past Tuesday Gloria Glenn came to our Chick-fil-A and read from her book Caretta: The Top Turtle

Gloria put on an interactive presentation. She got ont he floor with the kids, used a measuring stick so the kids could see how big they were compared to some turtles and brought plenty of visual and tactile props as well.

The kids learned a lot about sea turtles, and so did the parents!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Book Review: Skin Hunger by Kathleen Duey

Skin Hunger masterfully blends two seemingly unrelated stories together.

Hahp: a boy who feels like a failure and that he might be better off dead, is sent away to a school where he must acquire the courage and skills to fight for his life.

Sadima: raised in seclusion by an over-protective but emotionally distant father has an unearthly gift of communicating with animals. When she sets off to live in the city of Limori, where she feels like she fits in, she faces Somiss, a heartless wizard and and his indentured apprentice. She must choose between leaving the man she loves but can never have, or remaining in order to help abate Somiss' cruelty.

These two story lines converge, seemingly unrelated until little by little you see how they fit together. Both story lines pulled me in and enchanted me. I didn't want to put the book down and I wanted to keep reading more. I stayed up late until my red, burning eyes couldn't stay open any longer. I'm looking forward to the next one. Critics call this book "dark" and in many aspects it is. I'm not usually one for "dark" stories but this one was so well done, that I didn't view it as "dark", but rather a compelling and well told story about hardship and difficult circumstances.

Tell me what you think. I threw my pitch!

The contest has begun at Donna's blog. Mine is #3 (the one about the runaway slave girl) Go on over and tell me what you think!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

This is soooo cool! Fun in the Bug House!

My kids have done this in school and I've seen this on t.v. but this is the first year we've tried it at home. it's a kit that allows you to watch a caterpillar change into a butterfly.
First you send away for some caterpillars
and they send you a cup with 5 caterpillars and enough food to last the duration of their pupal stage.

Then, after a bout a week of eatting, they crawl to the top of the jar, continue to spin protective silk, (like their own little rooms) and then the hang upside down and turn into a cocoon.
It's pretty amazing. In just a matter of minutes they transform from the J position, like the guy on the right, to shedding their outter skin and legs and a plastic-like film covers their head and top part (whatever it's called. On a human it would be our chest)
If your lucky you can catch this process, but it's hard. You have to be there at just the right time. It happens fast.

Once all of the caterpillars are in their cocoons, it's time to put them in the Fun Bug Tree House, as pictured below.

The lid of the jar is lined with a thin paper, where the caterpillars attach themselves.
You take the paper out, and pin it to the inside wall of the Bug House.
We did that today. Now, in about a week, we'll have some butterflies.
We'll fill the bug house with flowers and sugar water for their food, and then after a couple of days we will release them.
Hopefully I'll be able to get some pictures of them hatching. Is it called "hatching" for butterflies?
Well, whatever it is when butterflies emerge from their cocoons.

I feel some sort of writing analogy coming through . . . .

updates to come

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Contest Alert!!!! Pitch Your Story

The buzz word around SCBWI Carolina's chapter is "Pitch." This theme was prompted by Sarah Shumway, editor at Dutton, at our recent writers retreat in Chapel Hill. Ms. Shumway shed some light on how important (more like crucial) it is to have a good pitch for your story. You can read my notes from her session if you'd like more info.

So, one of our chapter members is having a Pitch contest. It's a great opportunity to work on your pitch and get some feedback as well. You can join Donna at her blog and get the details. Authors Stephanie Reed and Susan K. Marlow are braving the judges seats and there's even a prize! whoo hoo! *\o/*

Get your pitch ready! She'll start accepting entries on May 21st. . . .

Ready . . . .
Set . . . .

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Book Review: How to Hook a Hottie by Tina Ferraro

High School Senior Kate DelVecchio has a plan to make her first million by age 2o. This plan doesn't include: college, a serious relationship, popularity or being anything like her mother.

When Kate stumbles onto a money making matchmaking scheme, she finds herself face to face with the very issues that she wants to avoid.

This light-hearted and humorous story is a delight to read.

The protagonist has many character flaws and misguided methods and notions, but I think that only adds to the character depth and authenticity of the protagonist. It also makes the story all the more funny. :0) Take for instance this section that really tickled my funny bone. This is where Kate was researching her matchmaking plan for her business.
Chap 9
"Interesting stuff, actually. But the bottom line in almost every article was honesty, and the golden rule seemed to be 'just be yourself.' Which was probably good advice for most people, but look where it had gotten me. People thought I was the girlfriend of a guy and could barely stand. And the only thing that had gotten me into that situation was just being myself. So you wouldn't see me preaching that stuff."

Another strength of this book was the growing sexual tension between Kate and her best friend, Dal, as she starts to realize that her feelings for him are starting to run deeper than mere friendship. I could feel my heart pumping harder right along with the Kate as she accidentally is pushed into Dal, and they both linger up close and personal rather than pushing away.

OK, I'm not going to tell anymore or else I may end up giving away the whole story. It's a fun book, well written and it's worth your time to run out to the library or bookstore and read it for yourself.

Happy Reading!

You can visit Tina Ferraro's website at

(Way to go Tina! Good stuff!) :0)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Story Night at Chick-fil-A with Gloria Glenn

Mark your Calendar for May 20th when Gloria Glenn will come to my restaurant for Story Night and read from her picture book about Caretta the Top Turtle.

Chick-fil-A RTP
Durham, NC
104 Residence Inn Blvd.
(exit 278 off of Hwy 40, just a little off of the Hwy 54/55 intersection in the Research Triangle Park)

Reading times:

Door Prizes and autographs available between reading times.

I hope to see you there!

Christy Evers

Friday, May 9, 2008

Book Review: Something Rotten by Alan Gratz

This is the first book review that I've done since I've been back from the Chapel Hill retreat so I was able read this book with a new eye (or is it ear), for voice.

As a reader, this book is a fun, witty and humorous mystery with compelling characters. It's a great read for the both avid and reluctant readers alike.

Sarcastic, good-guy Horatio helps his out-of-control best friend solve the mystery of who killed his father.

From a writers point of view, this was a great example of the 8 elements of voice that Martha Mihalick talked about at the retreat last month.

The Language, syntax and world view of the book/main character was not just consistent with a teen male in no-where'sville America, but I really felt like I was getting an authentic and honest peek inside of a guys brain. I appreciated Gratz's honest approach to the "regualar-guy" mind-set given through the MC.

The tone was humorous, sarcastic and mysterious

The Pacing was dead on. Things kept moving, enough info was kept from the reader to make it a mystery, but I never felt confused. This is a trait of mystery novels that seems like it would be difficult to write. But it was done well. I kept wanting to read more. It was fun to keep guessing who-dunnit?

The theme, both underlying and main, meshed with the other elements of voice. It was fun to see how all things pertaining to "stink" permeated the entire book. I think this book would also make a great thesaurus for the word "odor" :0) If you need a good idea on how to describe something stinky? Read this book. ;0)

There was also a good variety of underlying thematic dichotomies: pursuit vs. pushing away, control vs. chaos, purity vs. polution, loyalty vs. self-seeking, life vs. death (to be or not to be)

Imagery and symbolism: I think it's pretty safe to say that all the imagery and symbolism could be directly linked back to the themes, and world view of the character mentioned above.

Finally, the structure. It was all so well put together. All the elements were in harmony and supported one another.

I'ts a great read and a great example of solid writing!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Writers block: a medical condition

See! This is why I MUST write! I don't want to develop any medical conditions from novel blockage. This is serious stuff.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Write what you know. George Lucas and Star Wars

Ever wonder how George Lucas came up with the idea for Star Wars? Here's a great little video that gives us an insiders peek. ;0) It just goes to show. . . . write what you know.

This video made me chuckle. I hope you enjoy it too.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Get your FREE Super Hero Powers Here! A Super Hero Meme

Today is your lucky day! Free Super Hero Powers are being given out here!

My superpower list is Chaos vision, never ever late, all the powers of teddy Bears.
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Created with Rum and Monkey's Name Generator Generator.

And now, with my new supified powers I need a Super Name to go with it. hmmmmm. . . what should it be? How about

My Piggle is Captain Shabadoo Shanghai Mahogony Daddyo Bartman.

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What is yours?

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