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.

April 28 – Arbor Day

Today is Arbor Day, International Astronomy Day, Great Poetry Reading Day, Kiss Your Mate Day and the birthday of Harper Lee, Terry Pratchett, Charles Cotton, Karl Kraus, Rowland Evans, Carolyn Cassady, Lois Duncan,Roberto Bolano, Ian Rankin, Jennifer Rardin

Tip: Start a spreadsheet or ledger sheet, one for each manuscript you have, and track who it is sent to, when, how much it cost you to send, and what the response was.

Thought: “I write plays for people who wouldn’t be seen dead in the theatre.” –  Barrie Keeffe

Teaser: Your character is a workaholic but is being forced to take some time off. What does s/he do for “fun” or to “relax”? Does s/he go somewhere? Or stay home and keep working in secret? What drives him or her?

Note: A very long time ago, in a town far, far away, my husband and I owned five acres of farmland in the middle of nowhere. We were both in love with trees and this land had none. Not even bushes. So we bought saplings and planted some. 5000+ some. Mostly pines, firs, and other evergreens, but we also planted fruit trees for a small orchard. I went back there a few years ago just to see the old place and wow. We grew a forest and it is beautiful. As I think of what we did there, I also think of Dr. Zeuss’s book, The Lorax and the best line ever: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, things won’t get better. No they will not.” Do something good for the planet today.

April 25 – World Penguin Day

Today is World Penguin Day and the birthday of Walter de la Mare, Maud Hart LovelaceMort WeisingerJohnny CraigAlbert UderzoMelvin Burgess

Tip: Take pictures of scenery – not just pretty things, but odd things, old buildings, junk yards, streetlights at night – and use these to help create settings for your stories.

Thought: “The best kind of character is one who starts out in a minor role – sometimes without even having a name – and talks his way into the plot.” – Elmore Leonard

Teaser: Create an alter-ego. What is his/her name? Sex? Physical attributes? Be specific and detailed. Create a comic book for them.

Note: I find it interesting that in today’s birthdays, three of the people have something to do with comic books (Mort, Johnny, Albert).

April 22 – Earth Day

Today is Earth Day (U.S.), Girl Scout Leader Day, National Jelly Bean Day, and the birthday of Immanuel Kant, Henry Fielding, James Norman Hall, Louise Gluck, Paula Fox, Ellen GlasgowVladimir NaokovJan de HartogJanet Evanovich

Tip: Collect odd and interesting news stories and use them as the basis for your stories.

Thought: “Writing is like getting married. One should never commit oneself until one is amazed at one’s luck.” – Iris Murdoch

Teaser: You’ve been asked to create a character for your favorite TV show. What show is it? What kind of character would you create? Would s/he be a bad guy or a good guy? What would happen?

Personal note: Please, check out the link to Earth Day and do something positive for the environment – not just today, but every day. And yes, one person doing one thing can make a difference.

April 21 – birthday of Charlotte Bronte

Today is Kindergarten Day and the birthday of Charlotte Bronte, Barbara Park, Alistair MacLean, Elizabeth II, Queen of England

Tip: In the best stories, the main character has to not only overcome the external problem, but internal problems as well. She should change as a person, grow and become better. Make a character chart with internal and external conflicts.

Thought: “Writing is not about degrees or vocabulary or diagramming a sentence. It is simply about the desire to tell a story.” – Fannie Flagg

Teaser: Write a scene where your character is temporarily blinded. What happened? What does she do? What does s/he notice without sight?

April 20 – Look Alike Day

Today is Look Alike Day, National High Five Day third Thursday, Volunteer Recognition Day and the birthday of Michael Lewis, Pietro Aretino, Dinah Craik, Henry de Montherlant, Andrew Tobias, Sebastian FaulksRebecca Makkai

Tip: Work out what you will need to do to promote your work after it is published. A good rule of thumb is promotion should be ten percent of your writing time so if you spend ten hours a week in writing, one of those hours should be spent on promotion.

Thought: “The trick is not in becoming a writer, it is staying a writer. Day after week after month after year.” – Harlan Ellison

Teaser: This is National Look Alike Day and your character has a doppelganger – a body double – but this one is opposite in personality and creates havoc for him. How does the hero deal with him? Do they meet? What happens?

April 19 – National Garlic Day

Today is National Garlic Day (keep the breath mints handy!) and the birthday of: Sarah Kemble Knight, Etheridge Knight (interesting names, right?), Jacques Lelong, Jose EchegrarayRichard Hughes,

Tip: Many writers have trouble with depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. Be sure you take care of your mental as well as your physical health.

Thought: “Just keep the thing going any why you can.” – Tennessee Williams

Teaser: You have to create a newsletter for a writer’s group. What would you include? What would it look like?

April 18 – International Juggler’s Day

Today is International Jugglers’ Day, Newspaper Columnists’ Day and the birthday of George Henry Lewes, Richard Harding Davis, Etheridge Knight, Thomas MiddletonWaldemar HammenhogClaire MartinJoy DavidmanRichard Bausch

Thought: “The last thing we decide about a book is what to put first.” – Blaise Pascal

Teaser: Your house is on fire. You live alone and have no pets so there is nobody else to worry about but yourself. What would you risk going back inside for? (Note – this teaser came about when I was staying at a hotel with a group of writer friends and there was a fire in the hotel. All of us gathered in the parking lot and what did we save from our rooms? Our laptops!)

April 17 – Dyngus Day

Today is Bat Appreciation Day, Blah, Blah, Blah Day, Dyngus Day, National Cheeseball Day, Patriot’s Day, Pet Owners Independence Day and the birthday of: Thornton Wilder, Cynthia Ozick, Karen Blixen, John FordHerve BazinNick Hornby

Tip: Cut pictures of characters out of newspapers and magazines (only your own, please) or bookmark sites on the web for visualizing your characters. Don’t pick just the pretty people. Not everyone is gorgeous and you need quirky sidekicks sometimes as well. Pick a wide variety.

Thought: “The beginning of a novel is a time of awful torment, when you’re dealing with a lot of dead pieces and you have to wait and wait for some sort of animation.” – Iris Murdoch

Teaser: Write a scene using words of only one syllable and short sentences, ala “See Spot run.” But do it as an adult murder mystery.

April 7 – National Walk to Work Day

popcornToday is Caramel Popcorn Day, National Beer Day, National Walk to Work Day (since I work from home, this is an easy one for me!),  No Housework Day (YAY!), World Health Day, and the birthday of: William Wordsworth, Gabriela Mistral, Donald Barthelme

Tip: Listen to songs – the lyrics often tell a story all by themselves. Look up lyrics, especially to old songs, and see how succinctly they tell a story.

Thought: “In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins – not through strength, but by perseverance.” – H. Jackson Brown.

Teaser: What is one thing from your past that would completely embarrass you in the eyes of your friends and/or family? Write that into a scene for your character.