Because I have some deadlines, an upcoming conference, and way too much more scheduled in my life for the next couple weeks, you get a bonus… the rest of February right here. Enjoy. 🙂


February 17
Today is the birthday of Gustavo Becquer (Spanish poet), Andrew Paterson (Australian journalist, poet), Dorothy Fisher (novelist), Margaret Truman (mysteries), Chaim Potok (novelist), Ruth Rendell (British mystery writer)

Tip: Do not add new characters or plot lines in the last third of your book. If they weren’t there in the beginning or middle, they shouldn’t be there in the end.

Thought: “I have rewritten – often several times – every word I have ever published. My pencils outlast their erasers.” – Vladimir Nabokov

Teaser: You’re inside an elevator and the doors won’t open. What’s worse, you’re claustrophobic. What do you do? Is there anyone with you?
February 18
Today is the birthday of Sholem Aleichem (Yiddish short stories(basis for Fiddler on the Roof)), Nikos Kazantzakis (Greek novelist, journalist – Zorba the Greek), Wallace Stegner (novelist, Pulitzer Prize), Helen Gurley Brown (novelist, journalist), Toni Morrison (novelist, Nobel and Pulitzer Prizes), Audre Lorde (poet, essayist, novelist)

Tip: A lot of writers are using first person point of view for multiple characters. This can be confusing for the reader. If you do this, be sure to limit the change to chapters and let the reader know at the top of the chapter who we are with. (Chapter 1, Amy. Chapter 2, Jason)

Thought: “I am fascinated by language in daily life…the way it can evoke an emotion, a visual image, a complex idea, or a simple truth.” – Amy Tan

Teaser: To Teaser your imagination, change something you do. For instance, eat the same flavor of ice cream in three different ways in three different places: straight from the carton, sitting in a bubble bath; out of a goblet in the middle of your backyard; from a cone in the dark. Write down the sensory experiences.
February 19
Today is the birthday of Jose Rivera (Columbian poet, novelist), Andre Breton (French journalist), Kay Boyle (novelist), Carson McCullers (novelist), Stephen Dobyns (poet, novelist), Amy Tan (novelist – The Joy Luck Club)

Tip: Subject-verb agreement – be sure you use the right very for the number of your noun. Examples: the thief, as well as his partner, was shot. (Most people would use “were shot” but if you take out the prepositional phrase, you have one thief, thus “was”. To make it “were”, you’d have to say: the thief and his partner were shot.)

Thought: “The fact is, it’s easier to write than to want to write. Just pick up your pen, put down a word. Any word.” – John Dufresne

Teaser: You’re a bartender and there is a sad, lonely man sitting on a corner stool with a wilted rose. You ask him what’s wrong. What does he tell you?
February 20
Today is the birthday of Pietr Boutens (Dutch mystic poet), Shiga Naoya (Japanese novelist), Georges Bernanos (French novelist), Russel Crouse (journalist, playwright, Pulitzer Prize), Alex La Guma (South African novelist)

Tip: Treat most nonspecific pronouns as singular: anyone, anybody, each, everyone, everybody, everything, no one, nobody, someone somebody, something. (Is anyone going to the class?) Treat collective nouns (mostly) as plurals: the troop is going camping. The class loves the art teacher.

Thought: “Writing is a political instrument…” – James Baldwin

Teaser: Finish the scene using: curt, bingo, belly flop – Please forgive me, but…
February 21
Today is the birthday of WH Auden (poet, Pulitzer Prize), Jose Zorrilla y Moral (Spanish poet, dramatist), Anais Nin (novelist, diarist), Erma Bombeck (humorist, columnist), Barbara Jordan (autobiographer)

Tip: Lie/lay – lie means to recline on a surface (lie/lay/lain/lying). Lay means to put or place something (lay, laid, laid, laying). She laid the paper on the table. She is lying on the bed.

Thought: “Genuine beginnings begin within us, even when they are brought to our attention by external opportunities.” – William Bridges

Teaser: Make a list of all the items you associate with a particular sense. For instance, if you choose “soft,” your list might include cotton balls, downy quilts, a baby’s cheeks, etc.

February 22
Today is the birthday of James Lowell (poet), John Neilson (Australian poet), Norman Lindsay (Australian journalist, childrens’ books), Edna St. Vincent Millay (poet, Pulitzer Prize), Giorgios Seferis (Greek poet, Nobelist), Jane Bowles (short stories, novelist), Ishmael Reed (novelist, essayist, poet)

Tip: Keep a sensory journal for a week. For example, if Monday is “scent day,” describe in detail three things you smelled that day. If Tuesday is “sound day,” describe in detail three sounds you heard that day. Use this when you’re writing a scene.

Thought: “Write the truth and no one believes you; it’s too alarming. So you might as well make it up.” – Fay Weldon

Teaser: How might your main character react to his or her reflection in a cracked window or a warped mirror?

February 23
Today is the birthday of Walter Wick (children’s science and search-and-find books), Samuel Pepys (English diarist), WEB Du Bois (social writer), Erich Kastner (German children’s books), William Shirer (journalist, historian), Haki Madhubuti (poet, essayist)

Tip: Subjunctive mood – this is used when there is a wish or condition that doesn’t fit the facts. It uses the base form of the verb in present tense and “were” in past tense: It’s important that you be (not are) prepared for the storm. If I were (not was) you, I’d stock up now.

Thought: “Words are a form of action, capable of influencing change.” – Ingreid Bengis

Teaser: Begin a story with “I found out something about my grandfather, whom I adored until then.” Or: “How could my grandmother do…”
February 24
Today is the birthday of Wilhelm Grimm (Grimm’s Fairy Tales), George Moore (Irish novelist)

Tip: When using “I” or “me” in a sequence, the pronoun goes last: Dan traveled with Jim and me (not me and Jim). Note: in this sequence, the use of “me” and not “I” is needed. You wouldn’t say Dan rode with I, but you would say Dan rode with me.

Thought: “And what you ask, does writing teach us? First and foremost, it reminds us that we are alive and that it is a gift and a privilege, not a right.” – Ray Bradbury

Teaser: What might you find in your main character’s trash at work? At home? In the refrigerator? Glove compartment? Medicine cabinet, junk drawer, nightstand, pocket, purse?
February 25
Today is the birthday of Cynthia Voight (Young adult books), Carlo Goldoni (Italian dramatist), George Schuyler (novelist, journalist, reporter), Frank Slaughter (novelist), Anthony Burgess (essayist, novelist – A Clockwork Orange)

Tip: When an adverb modifies a verb, it usually answers the one of the following: when, where, why, how, how often, to what degree, under what conditions: The mechanic ensures that the cars run smoothly.

Thought: “Once you use those quotation marks, it’s not you the writer talking, it’s you the writer listening.” – Albert Rios

Teaser: What would happen if you met your own clone?
February 26
Today is the birthday of Victor Hugo (French novelist, poet, playwright – Les Miserables), John Nicolay (biographer), Theodore Sturgeon (science fiction writer)

Tip: Pay attention to punctuation, especially periods and commas. Used correctly, they clarify the meaning of your writing. Used incorrectly… could be disastrous.

Thought: “Creative work is play. It is free speculation using the materials of one’s chosen form.” – Stephen Nachmanovitch

Teaser: This is National Tell a Fairy Tale Day. What is your favorite fairy tale or story of all time? Why? What makes it so memorable? Write a character who could fit into the story and rewrite it with that character.
February 27
Today is the birthday of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (poet), Angelina Grimke (dramatist, poet), John Steinbeck (novelist, Nobelist), James Farrell (novelist, short stories), Peter DeVries (novelist), Lawrence Durrell (novelist), Irwin Shaw (novelist)

Tip: Try not to edit when you’re writing the first draft. You can always fix it later but getting the words down—that’s what’s important.

Thought: “The creative writer is usually captive to his next book.” Fannie Hurst

Teaser: Choose an inanimate subject (object, place, idea, emotion) and describe it using action verbs.
February 28
Today is the birthday of Michel de Montaigne (French essayist), Ben Hecht (screenwriter, novelist, journalist), Stephen Spender (English poet), Don Coldsmith (columnist, historical novels)

Tip: Limit your use of reflective pronouns: himself, herself. Right: She did it herself. Incorrect: He himself went to the movie.

Thought: “Writing is a lot like acting, except the writer gets to play all the roles.” – P. Martin

Teaser: Make a list of words that sound good to you. They might be onomatopoeic (buzz, sizzle) or simple words that suggest particular emotions or qualities. Use three of them in a paragraph.