Birthdays: Curt Siodmak (1902), Ward Moore (1903), Jorge Amado (1912), Nancy Buckingham (1924), Barry Unsworth (1930), Mark Doty (1953), Susan Lewis (1956), Suzanne Collins (1962)
Mark Doty won the 2008 National Book Award for Poetry for “Fire to Fire”
Suzanne Collins is best known for her trilogy “Hunger Games”
Quote: “Get to know your characters. Don’t be afraid to listen to them. In fact, if they aren’t talking to you, you’ve got a problem.” Susan Lewis
“Have fun with an opening line. You don’t have to use it in the final draft, but it’s a good way to start.” – Susan Lewis
Tip: Plot can take two basic forms, or even a combination of the two. It will usually be either a three-act structure (beginning, middle, end), or, from Joseph Campbell’s writings, be a mythic journey. It can also be a combination of the mythic journey within the three-act structure.
Jumpstart: You’re going to visit a favorite relative you haven’t seen in years. You’ve kept in touch by phone and letter, but not visually. When you see him/her, you’re shocked by their appearance. Why?
Birthdays: Izaak Walton (1593), John Dryden (1631), Jean Piaget (1896), Pamela Travers (1899), Tove Jansson (1914), Philip Larkin (1922), Daniel Keyes (1927), Robert Shaw (1927), Seymour Simon (1931), Graeme Gibson (1934), Shirlee Busbee (1941), Pat McKissack (1944), Barbara Delinsky (1945), John Varley (1947), Jonathan Kellerman (1949), Gene Yang (1973)
Pamela (P.L.) Travers is best known for her book “Mary Poppins”
Daniel Keyes is best known for his Hugo and Nebula-winning work “Flowers for Algernon”
Quote: “All good fiction involves an element of mystery – ideally, the reader should be compelled to turn the page in order to find out what happens next. Crime novels use extreme events – matters of life and death – to catalyze the story. That kind of intensity appeals to me.” – Jonathan Kellerman
Tip: Put the book you’ve just finished writing away for at least a week. Watch movies, read other books, take long walks, relax. Or, better yet, start your next book. Do anything other than look at your manuscript. That way, you can come back to it with a fresh eye.
Jumpstart: P.L. Travers was born on August 9, 1899. Never heard of her? I’d be willing to bet you’ve heard of Mary Poppins. Travers wrote several books about everybody’s favorite nanny. Imagine you’re a friend of Mary Poppins. Who would you be and what would your quirk be? No fair picking something from the book or movie. How do you know Mary?
Birthdays: Louis Leakey (1903), James Randi (1928), Betsy Byars (1928), Jerry Poumelle (1933), Garrison Keillor (1942), Anne Fadiman (1953), Vladimir Sorokin (1955)
Betsy Byars won the 1971 Newbery Medal for “Summer of the Swans”. She also won a National Book Award for Children’s Fiction and an Edgar Award.
Jerry Poumelle is best known for “The Mote in God’s Eye” and “Lucifer’s Hammer” (in collaboration with Larry Niven).
Quote: “When I type a title page, I hold it and I look at it and I think, I just need four thousand sentences to go with this and I’ll have a book.” – Betsy Byars
Tip: Professional jealousy exists. Try not to let it control you. If a friend gets better contracts, etc. than you, be happy for them. Celebrate their success.
Jumpstart: An asteroid is going to hit Earth and there are only enough ships and room on the moon for a small portion of the population. You’re the person who has to choose. How do you do it and who do you save?
Birthdays: Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809), Charles Fort (1874), Norma Farber (1909), Constance Heaven (1911), Richard Hofstadter (1916), Barbara Cooney (1917), John Graves (1920), Elizabeth Beresford (1926), Piers Anthony (1934), Diane di Prima (1934), Conor McPherson (1971), Paolo Bacigalupi (1972)
Richard Hofstadter was a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction.
Barbara Cooney was a two-time winner of the Caldecott Medal
Paolo Bacigalupi won the Hugo and Nebula awards for his book “The Wind-up Girl”
Quote: “A good notion for a novel is far too precious to waste; it must be caught the moment it flashes into mental view, or it will escape to the brain of some other writer who really doesn’t deserve it.”― Piers Anthony, On A Pale Horse
Tip: Don’t forget to give back to the universe. Help other authors where you can. Actually, help anybody. Little kindnesses can come back to you in many ways.
Jumpstart: Your character is in a non-motorized boat in the middle of a large lake when a sudden storm blows up… what now?
Birthdays: Guy de Maupassant (1850), Ruth Sawyer (1880), Conrad Aiken (1889), Peter Viereck (1916), Wendell Berry (1934), David Baldaci
Ruth Sawyer won the 1937 Newbery Medal for “Roller Skates”
Conrad Aiken won the 1930 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry
Peter Viereck won the 1939 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry
Quote: “It is precisely the sort of thing I am always trying to do in my writing – to present my unhappy reader with a wide-ranged chaos – of actions and reactions, thoughts, memories and feelings – in the vain hope that at the end he will see that the whole thing represents only one moment, one feeling, one person. A raging, trumpeting jungle of associations, and then I announce at the end of it, with a gesture of despair, ‘This is I!” ― Conrad Aiken, Blue Voyage
Tip: Never be so hard on yourself that you give up. Keep at it. It’s not easy, but it can be done.
Jumpstart: Write about your first day of something: school, college, work, etc. Be specific about your feelings, experience, setting, etc.
Birthdays: Percy Shelley (1792), Knut Hamsun (1859), Robert Hayden (1913), Robert Beck (1918), Mary White Calstom (1948), Tim Winton (1960), Dennis Lehane (1965), Fred Khumalo (1966), Jojo Moyes(1969)
Robert Hayden was the first Black person to hold the office of US Poet Laureate – 1976-1978.
Knut Hamsun won the 1920 Nobel Prize for Literature for “Growth of the Soil”
Quote: “I always make a point of working on more than one project at a time. When I am stuck with my, say, fiction, I change gears and work on a piece of journalism or some other non-fiction. I don’t wait for inspiration. I write every day – even if it’s unpublishable rubbish.” – Fred Khumalo
Tip: If you can afford it, enter contests, especially ones that offer comments not just scores. The feedback from some can be invaluable. But be prepared for uneven results. Don’t look at the scores so much as pay attention to the comments.
Jumpstart: You’re one of the first people who get to go on vacation on the international space station. Do you go? Why or why not? What happens when something goes wrong?
Birthdays: Vernon Parrington (1871), Rupert Brooke (1887), Clifford Simak (1904), Walter Van Tilburg Clark (1909), James MacGregor Burns (1918), P.D. James (1920), Hayden Carruth (1921), Leon Uris (1924), Mary Calhoun (1926), Marvin Bell (1937), Martha Stewart (1941), Steven Millhauser (1943), Walter Kirn (1962),
Vernon Parrington won the 1928 Pulitzer Prize for History for “Main Currents in American Thoughts”
Clifford Simak won three Hugo awards and one Nebula Award in his career.
James Burns won the National Book Award and Pulitzer for his biography of Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Hayden Carruth won the National Book Award for his poetry collection “Scrambled Eggs and Whiskey”
Steven Millhauser won the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for “Martin Dressler”
Quote: “Who here wants to be a writer?’ I asked. Everyone in the room raised his hand. ‘Why the hell aren’t you home writing?’ I said, and left the stage.” ― Leon Uris, Qb VII
Tip: Negativity breeds negativity. If your circle of friends or crit partners is too negative, it can influence your way of thinking. Figure out a way to turn that negativity into a positive.
Jumpstart: My mother always told me… (what). I tried. I really did, but… (what?)
Princess Philippa Stanley is over being the perfect royal. The world’s got bigger problems than the color of her nail polish, but the tabloids insist on detailing her every royal faux pas. Like her bold new hairstyle and missing pantyhose. Freaking pantyhose. Things that don’t matter to anyone. Except her parents. Their Majesties are desperate for her to settle down. So desperate they invite a dozen overzealous bachelors to compete for her hand in marriage. Now she’s living her own nightmare version of The Bachelorette: Royal Edition with suitors ambushing her at every turn. No way is she participating in this farce of a courtship, but when her father makes her an offer she can’t refuse—take part in exchange for access to her trust fund—it’s the only way to get the money she needs to start her own charitable foundation. Fine. She’ll play the game. There’s zero chance she’ll fall in love until she crashes into a sexy, down-to-earth philanthropist who can help her launch her charity and drive off the unwanted suitors. It’s like she’s met the perfect guy. But what if he’s really the perfect lie?
What can you expect in A ROYAL MISTAKE? ✓ Awkward meet-cute
Jennifer Bonds is the USA Today bestselling author of sizzling contemporary romance with sassy heroines, sexy alphas, and a whole lot of mischief. She’s a sucker for enemies-to-lovers stories, laugh-out-loud banter, and over-the-top grand gestures. Jennifer lives in Pennsylvania, where her overactive imagination and weakness for reality TV keep life interesting. She’s lucky enough to live with her own real-life hero, two adorable (and sometimes crazy) children, and one rambunctious K9. Loves Buffy, Mexican food, a solid Netflix binge, the Winchester brothers, cupcakes, and all things zombie. Sings off-key.
Birthdays: Richard Henry Dana, Jr. (1815), Herman Melville (1819), Paul Horgan (1903), Stanley Middleton (1919), Robert Waller (1939), David Gemmell (1948), Amy Friedman (1952), James Gleick (1954), Madison Smartt Bell (1957), James St. James.
Richard Dana, Jr. is best known for his memoir “Two Years Before the Mast”
Herman Melville is best known for his masterpiece “Moby Dick”
Paul Horgan won two Pulitzer Prizes in History.
Stanley Middleton won the 1974 Booker Prize for his novel “Holiday”
Rober Waller is best known for his 1992 novel “The Bridges of Madison County”
James Gleick has been a Pulitzer and Nat’l Book Award finalist multiple times.
Quote: “It’s easy to lose the energy that you need for a long piece unless the characters are surprising you and showing you something new every week, or even every month, or every other paragraph – however often it comes.” – Anne McDermott
Tip: This is national eye exam month. A writer’s eyes are almost as important as his imagination. When was the last time you had a good eye exam? If you can’t remember, schedule one.
Jumpstart: August is the only month without any sort of recognized holiday. You have been tasked with creating one. What or who will it honor? Why? Will it be national or international? Will workers get the day off?
Birthdays: Brett Halliday (1904), Primo Levi (1919), Lynne Reid Banks (1929), Cees Nooteboom (1933), Susan Cheever (1943), Faye Kellerman (1952), Steven Womack (1952), Lynne Rae Perkins (1956), J.K. Rowling (1965),
Primo Levi was an Italian chemist and writer. His “If This Is a Man” is an account of his time in a Nazi concentration camp, and his “The Periodic Table” was named the greatest science book ever written by the Royal Institute of Great Britain.
Lynn Reid Banks is best known for her children’s book “The Indian in the Cupboard”.
Lynn Perkins book “Criss Cross” won the 2006 Newbery Medal.
J.K. Rowling is best known for her “Harry Potter” series.
Tip: Thinking about your writing career and where it currently is. Are you happy with it and where you’re headed? If not, what can you do to change things? Remember, you can only adjust things you are in control of.
Jumpstart: You’ve just inherited a piece of land from a relative you never knew about. It turns out to be a junkyard. But one that specializes in a particular type of “junk” – each piece is haunted. What do you do?