May 18

Today is International Museum Day, No Dirty Dishes Day, Visit Your Relatives Day, and the birthday of Omar Khayyam, Bertrand Russell, Patrick Dennis, Diane Duane

Tip: A story should make your reader “feel” something – anger, love, fear, etc. – make sure you’re drawing on emotions. If you’re not feeling it, neither will your reader.

Thought: “If you write fiction you are, in a sense, corrupted. There’s a tremendous corruptibility for the fiction writer because you’re dealing mainly with sex and violence. These remain the basic themes, they’re the basic themes of Shakespeare whether you like it or not.” –  Anthony Burgess

Teaser: On this date in 1980, Mt. St. Helen’s erupted, coating the northwest in ash and soot. Imagine you character was there. What did s/he do? Where did s/he go? Or didn’t s/he?

May 17

Today is Pack Rat Day and the birthday of Dorothy Richardson, Gary Paulsen, Eloise Greenfield

Tip: Who is your story about and what is his/her problem? Give your story focus so it has a point. Don’t just write about day-to-day happenings. Make your reader become interested in what’s going on. Leave the “yadda, yadda, yadda” to Seinfeld.

Thought: “Do we write books so that they shall merely be read? Don’t we also write them for employment in the household? For one that is read from start to finish, thousands are leafed through, other thousands lie motionless, others are jammed against mouseholes, thrown at rats, others are stood on, sat on, drummed on, have gingerbread baked on them or are used to light pipes.” – G.C. Lichtenberg

Teaser: Someone has vandalized your neighborhood. All the neighbors are talking about it. Since you fashion yourself as an amateur sleuth, you set out to see who’s doing it. When you find out, you are shocked. So who is it? And why is s/he doing the damage?

May 16

Today is Love a Tree Day, National Sea Monkey Day, Wear Purple for Peace Day, and the birthday of  Adrienne Rich, Bruce Coville, Douglas Southall FreemanStuds Terkel

Tip: Make a list of ten publishers or agents to send your latest work to. Do your homework – don’t just pick names out of a list. Study the guidelines and only submit to those who work with your type of writing.

Thought: “Writing free verse is like playing tennis with the net down.” – Robert Frost

Teaser: What event or person would you never want to write about? Why?

May 10

Today is Clean up Your Room Day, National Receptionist Day, School Nurses Day, and the birthday of Monica Dickens, Jayne CortezJean MairetJohann Peter HebelBenito GaldosCaroline B. Cooney,

Tip: Do yourself a favor and start doing crossword and other word puzzles. They will stretch your vocabulary and help with your writing.

Thought: “It takes a lot of energy and a lot of neurosis to write a novel. If you were really sensible, you ‘d do something else.” –  Lawrence Durrell

Teaser:Answer an unanswered question in a familiar novel – what happened to Rhett when he wasn’t with Scarlett (Gone with the Wind)? What would have happened if Romeo and Juliet had lived? Who makes Batman’s costume?

May 14

Happy Mother’s Day to those who care for children, whether they be mother, father, grandparent, or other caregiver. And to those “mothers” who will never be one, may you find some happiness in today as well.

Today is Dance Like a Chicken Day, Mother’s Day (second Sunday in May), and the birthday of Hal Borland,

Tip: The first page should introduce major characters, the setting, and the story question (what’s going on). If your first pages start with backstory (what happened before your story took place), you’ll lose your readers fast. Backstory can be added in later, not at the beginning.

Thought: “Most writers write badly because they tell us not only their thoughts but also the thinking of their thoughts.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

Teaser: Use the following in a scene: tickertape, okapi, ballroom, “You’ve been chosen…”

May 15 – birthday of L. Frank Baum

Today is National Chocolate Chip Day, Police Officer’s Memorial Day, and the birthday of L. Frank Baum, Katherine Anne Porter, Paul Zindel, Mary MontaguArthur SchnitzlerXavier HerbertMax FrischNancy GardenLaura Hillenbrand

Tip: Don’t add a main character or even at the end of the story that solves everyone’s problems – that’s cheating your reader and is bad form. Anyone who’s at the end should also be at the beginning. Especially if they’re important to the solution.

Thought: “Writing is conscience, scruple, and the farming of our ancestors.” – Edward Dahlberg

Teaser: Today is the birthday of L. Frank Baum. He was a prolific writer, but his most famous work is The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Most people only know this story through the movie, but there is an entire series of works set in this fantastic world. If you were a character in an Oz book, who would you be? Why? What would you do? Create an Oz character and write a short scene with this character.

May 14

Happy Mother’s Day to those who care for children, whether they be mother, father, grandparent, or other caregiver. And to those “mothers” who will never be one, may you find some happiness in today as well.

Today is Dance Like a Chicken Day, Mother’s Day (second Sunday in May), and the birthday of Hal Borland,

Tip: The first page should introduce major characters, the setting, and the story question (what’s going on). If your first pages start with backstory (what happened before your story took place), you’ll lose your readers fast. Backstory can be added in later, not at the beginning.

Thought: “Most writers write badly because they tell us not only their thoughts but also the thinking of their thoughts.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

Teaser: Use the following in a scene: tickertape, okapi, ballroom, “You’ve been chosen…”

May 13

Today is Birth Mother’s Day (Saturday before Mother’s Day), Frog Jumping Day, International Migratory Bird Day (second Saturday in May), Leprechaun Day, National Train Day and the birthday of Daphne Du Maurier, Roger Zelazny, Francine Pascal, Rachel IngallsAlphonse DaudetLeighton GageArmistead MaupinMarv WolfmanCharles Baxter

Tip: What is the conflict in your story? (And yes, there should be some). Figure out what the problem is, make it worse, up the ante, and make it look like things are going to fail before you bring them all out on the other side.

Thought: “In a mood of faith and hope my work goes on. A ream of fresh paper lies on my desk waiting for the next book. I am a writer and I take up my pen to write.” – Pearl Buck

Teaser: Write a short story where all the action happens during a dark and stormy night.

May 12 – National Limerick Day

Today is Child Care Provider Day or Daycare Provider Day, Fatigue Syndrome Day, International Nurses Day, Limerick Day, Military Spouses Day, and the birthday of: Edward Lear, Dante Rossetti, Leslie CharterisCharles Biro

Tip: When you’re ready to start writing, you can review what you did the day before, but don’t edit. Get the words down first. You can come back and edit later.

Thought: “The really great writers are people like Emily Brontë who sit in a room and write out of their limited experience and unlimited imagination.” –  James A. Michener

Teaser: In honor of Edward Lear, this is National Limerick Day. Stretch your writing brain and write a limerick about writing. A limerick is a humorous poem consisting of five lines. The first, second, and fifth lines must have seven to ten syllables while rhyming and having the same verbal rhythm. The third and fourth lines only have to have five to seven syllables, and have to rhyme with each other and have the same rhythm. For instance (from Edward Lear):

“There was an Old Man with a beard
Who said, ‘It is just as I feared!
Two Owls and a Hen,
Four Larks and a Wren,
Have all built their nests in my beard!’”

May 11 – birthday of Irving Berlin

Today is Eat What You Want Day, Twilight Zone Day, and the birthday of: Irving Berlin, Mari Sandoz, Stanley ElkinRose AuslanderCamilo Jose CelaFrancisco Umbral

Tip: Before stopping for the day, ask yourself a question about tomorrow’s scenes. (What is the character feeling at this point? How are they going to get out of this mess?) Write it down and sleep on it. You might be surprised what your brain comes up with overnight.

Thought: “If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading or do things worth the writing.” –  Benjamin Franklin

Teaser: You’ve gone to see a psychic who will answer your deepest question. What do you ask?