Writing Tips, Thoughts, Tricks for the Coming Week

October 15

Birthdays: Virgil (70 BC), P.G. Wodehouse (1881), Friedrich Nietzsche (1844), George Turner (1916), Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. (1917), Mario Puzo (1920), Italo Calvino (1923), Ed McBain (1926) (aka Evan Hunter), Laurie McBain (1949), Walter Jon Williams (1953), Stephen Clarke (1958), Roxane Gay (1974)

Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. was a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner for History and Biography.

Mario Puzo is best known for his books on the Mafia like the “Godfather” series

Quote: “I love writing fiction because I can totally lose myself and I get to make up the rules of the world that I’m writing.” – Roxanne Gay

“I don’t trust society to protect us, I have no intention of placing my fate in the hands of men whose only qualification is that they managed to con a block of people to vote for them.” – Mario Puzo

Tip: Any reputable agent should be willing to provide you with a list of sales and clients. Verify that these books and authors exist. Check references. If they claim to be a member of AAR, check them out on the web site.

Jumpstart: You live alone. While you were gone for a weekend, someone ransacked your home. Who would do that? Why?


October 16

Birthdays: Noah Webster (1758), Oscar Wilde (1854), Claude H. Van Tyne (1869), Eugene O’Neill (1888), Olivia Coolidge (1908), Kathleen Winsor (1919), Gunter Grass (1927), Paul Monette (1945), Suzanne Somers (1946), Elinor Lipman (1950), Lorenzo Carcaterra (1954), Meg Rosoff (1956), Alafair Burke (1969),

Noah Webster is best known for his work on dictionaries.

Claude H. Van Tyne won the 1930 Pulitzer Prize for History for “The War of Independence”

Eugene O’Neill won the Pulitzer for Drama and the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Gunter Grass won the 1999 Nobel Prize for Literature.

Quote: “I strive to make my books appear effortless.  For readers to lose themselves in a book, they should be able to believe that story, characters, and settings exist in a parallel world.” – Alafair Burke

“Not everything you want to know is explained properly on Google.” – Meg Rosoff

Tip: Having a poor agent is worse than having none at all. If you can’t find a reputable agent to submit your work, submit it yourself to those places that take unagented material.

Jumpstart: On Oct. 16, 1955, the first Ann Landers column was published by the Chicago Sun Times. You’ve just become the new Ann Landers. What is your first letter about and what is your advice?


October 17

Birthdays: Nathanael West (1903), Ester Wier (1910), Arthur Miller (1915), Jimmy Breslin (1930), Robert Jordan (1948), Wally Lamb (1950), David Means (1961), Patrick Ness (1971), Ariel Levy (1974),

Ester Wier won the 1964 Newbery Honor for “The Loner”

Robert Jordan is best known for his “The Wheel of Time” series

Quote: “You have to have talent to some extent – I certainly hope I have talent – but you have to have luck as well. Once you get that first shot, that will get you noticed for the rest of your books and that will give the rest of your books a better chance.” – Robert Jordan

Tip: If you have several projects you want to work on but can’t decide which one to do first, take fifteen minutes and write on each project. Just write, as quickly as you can for fifteen minutes, then take a short break and go on to the next project. The project to work on is the one where you forget to stop after fifteen minutes and keep going or the one which, when you read it, it really grabs you.

Jumpstart: This is what I knew about love before he came along. Now, I know better…

“If you want your prayers answered, get up off your knees and do something about them.”

― Wally Lamb, She’s Come Undone


October 18

Birthdays: Henri Bergson (1859), Logan Pearsall Smith (1865), James Truslow Adams (1878), H.L. Davis (1894), Esther Hautzig (1930), James Robert Baker (1946), Terry McMillan (1951), Rick Moody (1961), Charles Stross (1964), Amish Tripathi (1974),

Henri Bergson won the 1927 Nobel Prize in Literature

James Truslow Adams won the 1921 Pulitzer Prize for History for “The Founding of ew England”

H.L. Davis won the 1936 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for “Honey in the Horn”

Quote: “If you’re going to write for a living, you should find something fun to write.” – Charles Stross

“I don’t believe in symbolic gods.I believe that god exists all around us.In the flow of the river,in the rustle of the trees,in the whisper of the winds. He speaks to us all the time.all we need to do is listen.” ― Amish Tripathi, The Immortals of Meluha

Tip: In the story, motivation is the past (why they want something), goal is the future (what they want), and conflict is the present (why they can’t have it).

Jumpstart: He had never come this way before. And now he knew why… (use bullet hole, fender, fence)


October 19

Birthdays: Miguel Angel Asturias (1899), Ed Emberley (1931), John le Carre (1931), Sylvia Browne (1936), Renata Adler (1937), Andrew Vachss (1942), L.E. Modesitt (1943), Philip Pullman (1946), Dan Gutman (1955), Susan Straight (1960), Mark Behr (1963), John Edward (1969),

Miguel Angel Asturias won the 1967 Nobel Prize in Literature

Susan Straight was a finalist for the 2001 National Book Award for “Highwire Moon”

Quote: “I think the first thing you’ve got to do is grab the reader by the ear, and make him sit down and listen. Make him laugh, make him feel. We all want to be entertained at a very high level.” – John le Carre

“Cats are the lap-dancers of the animal world. Soon as you stop shelling out, they move on, find another lap. They’re furry little sociopaths. Pretty and slick — in love with themselves. When’s the last time you saw a seeing-eye cat?” ― Andrew Vachss, Safe House

Tip: Writing retreats are amazing. Even if it’s just you by yourself, it can help you fill your well, rest, read, and, most of all…write.

Jumpstart: We walked through the woods, enjoying the sunshine, then we found…


October 20

Birthdays: Arthur Rimbaud (1854), Samuel Flagg Bemis (1891), Frederic Dannay (1905), Art Buchwald (1925), Michael McClure (1932), Robert Pinsky (1940), Lewis Grizzard (1946), Elfriede Jelinek (1946), Nikki Grimes (1950), David Profumo (1955), Gennifer Choldenko (1957), Lynn Flewelling (1958), Kate Mosse (1961),

Samuel Flagg Bemis won two Pulitzer Prizes – one in History, one in Biography

Frederic Dannay wrote as the fictional Ellery Queen (along with his cousin Manford Lepofsky).

Robert Pinsky was the US Poet Laureate from 1997-2000.

Elfriede Jelinek won the 2004 Nobel Prize in Literature

Gennifer Choldenko won a 2005 Newbery Honor for her book “Al Capone Does my Shirts”

Quote: Five minutes of writing a day is better than no minutes. Too many new writers think that unless they have plenty of time, it’s not worth booting up the computer or sharpening that pencil. But think of it, instead, like practising scales on the piano before tackling that Beethoven Concerto or like warming-up in the gym – the more you prepare for writing, the better shape you’ll be in once you have time to really concentrate.” Kate Mosse

“History is written by the victors, the strongest, the most determined. Truth is found most often in the silence, in the quiet places.” ― Kate Mosse, Labyrinth

Tip: Turn off your inner critic. Don’t compare, analyze, criticize. Just write.

Jumpstart: It was an old song that took me back to that day. The day when my life changed forever.


October 21

Birthdays: Samuel T. Coleridge (1772), Edogawa Rampo (1894), Martin Gardner (1914), Ursula K. LeGuin (1929), Frances FitzGerald (1940), Ai (1947), Mayr Pipher (1947), Ellen Wittlinger (1948), Patti Davis (1952), Carrie Fisher (1956),

Edogawa Rampo is known for helping develop Japanese mystery fiction.

Martin Gardner wrote math games columns for “Scientific American” for years.

Ursula LeGuin is best known for her science fiction and fantasy stories. She was a multiple winner of both the Hugo and Nebula awards.

Ai won the 1999 National Book award for Poetry

Quote: “Read everything you can get your hands on, all sorts of different things—fiction, nonfiction, plays, poetry, newspapers, the toothpaste tube. And then, write.” – Ellen Wittlinger

“What sane person could live in this world and not be crazy?” ― Ursula K. LeGuin

Tip: Be sure to keep various versions of your story, including cut scenes (you might be able to use them somewhere else), but keep the names logical for instance, use the title and what version it is: writingjournal_v3.

Jumpstart: I stared at him as he stood there. “Wear this for protection,” he said as he handed me a vest. What was I going to do?