March 25

Today is the birthday of: Gloria Steinem, Flannery O’Connor

Tip: Re-read one of your old stories. Circle adjectives that merely label or explain and replace them with descriptive nouns or adjectives that evoke concrete, sensory qualities

Thought: “No rejection is fatal until the writer walks away from the battle leaving dreams and goals behind.” – Jeff Herman (literary agent)

Teaser: In fifteen minutes, the world as we know it will end. Why? What will you do? What happens next?

March 24

Today is the birthday of: William Morris, Dario Fo, Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Tip: Join a writing group, either in person or on line—and participate. Brainstorm, share ideas, share promo ideas. You’d be surprised how much energy you can get just by being with other writers.

Thought: “Sometimes the only reason to keep writing is ‘just because.’“ – Ralph Keyes

Teaser: A vandal has trashed your street. When you find out who did it, you are shocked. Who did it and why?

March 23

Today is the birthday of: Jim Trelease, Gary Whitehead

Tip: Always have the next story in mind. When you finish one, you want to be able to start the next one. Have a file with story ideas so you can keep going.

Thought: “Writing a book of poetry is like dropping a rose petal down the Grand Canyon and waiting for the echo. “ – Don Marquis

Teaser: Ursula LeGuin sent out her first story when she was 11; she got her first acceptance at 33. Authors are often asked “How long have you been writing?” What would your answer be? Make it interesting and intriguing. You’re trying to entice readers, even when just talking about yourself.

March 22

Today is the birthday of: Louis L’Amour, Wolf Blitzer

Tip: What kinds of TV shows/movies/books do you like? Why do you like them? What about them draws you? Is this the kind of story you want to write? Why?

Thought: “Rejected pieces aren’t failures; unwritten pieces are.” – Greg Daugherty

Teaser: Louis L’Amour had 350 rejections before selling his first ms. What other facts can you find out about famous author rejections?

March 21

Today is the birthday of: Jean Paul, Mark Waid

Tip: What atmosphere do you want your novel to have? Use setting as well as prose to put for the tone of your story. Darker words for darker works. Lighter ones for funnier works. Shorter sentences for intense scenes, longer ones for more restful ones.

Thought: “Write a good book.” – Steven Taylor Goldsberry

Teaser: What would the soundtrack of your life sound like? What about your story? What music would go with your story?

March 20

Happy first day of spring! (Or fall if you live in the other half of  the world!)

Today is the birthday of: Ovid, Henrik Ibsen, Ned Buntline, Lois Lowry

Tip: Make a list of websites for names, not just characters, but places too. A good place to start is the US Social Security site. They have popular baby names searchable by years.

Thought: “Don’t be thin-skinned or easily discouraged, because it’s an odds-long proposition; all of the arts are. Many are called, few are chosen, but it might be you.” – John Updike.

Teaser: You come home to find fifteen messages on your answering machine. All from the same number – a number you don’t recognize and can’t find on-line. The first message says “If you want Darcy to live, you’d better answer.” The messages get increasingly threatening. Who is Darcy? Do you know? What do you do?

March 19

Today is the birthday of: Irving Wallace, Philip Roth

Tip: Don’t start all the character names with the same letter. Keeping John, Joan, Jeff, Jane becomes too confusing for the reader. Vary your names and their attributes. Make them real.

Thought: “You have to keep writing, keep submitting, and keep praying to the god of whimsy that some editor will respond favorably.” – Peter Benchley

Teaser: You have been cursed by a witch. You will never write another word—including mundane things like emails and grocery lists—unless you…. What? Do you do it?

March 18

Today is the birthday of: William Cosmo Monkhouse, Richard Condon, John Updike

Tip: Unless you’re under a deadline, put your finished work away for at least a week. More would be better. Then you can edit with a fresh eye.

Thought: “Writing is the only profession where no one considers you ridiculous if you earn no money.” – Jules Renard

Teaser: You have the ability to go back in time only once and only for one day. When/where would you go and what would you do? Why?

March 17 – Happy St. Patrick’s Day

Today is the birthday of: Kate Greenaway, James Morrow, Michael Kelly

Tip: Is your villain morally corrupt and not just a brat? Those with bad morals are more interesting and have more to lose or gain. Brats are like flies—irritating, but not deadly. Be sure to give your bad guy some good features as well. Don’t make them flat and boring.

Thought: There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are. ― W. Somerset Maugham

Teaser: You just bought an old desk. While cleaning it, you find a faded photograph of a soldier from WWI. There is a name written on the back. Searching further, you find a letter to go with the picture. It was never sent. Why? Do you search for the family? What does the letter say?

March 16

Today is the birthday of: Margaret Weis, Harding Lemay

Tip: Don’t start your story with an info dump. If there’s background information the reader needs, give it out in small bites, not one big feast.

Thought: “I never had any doubts about my abilities. I knew I could write. I just had to figure out how to eat while doing this.” – Cormac McCarthy

Teaser: Identify your characters by showing not only what they own, but how they treat their possessions. Given an expensive, but ugly, gift, how would they treat it? What would they do with it? Write a short scene from two different character perspectives.