Setting Thesaurus Entry: GLOBAL WARMING (Futuristic)

This post has been generously written by PJ Hoover, author (and Texas Sweetheart!) of the YA Dystopian, Solstice. PJ is also the author of the popular Forgotten Worlds Trilogy, a mythology adventure for middle graders. Here's a bit about her newest book, rated in the TOP 20 for Children's Love and Romance on Amazon:

Piper’s world is dying. Global warming kills every living thing on Earth, and each day brings hotter temperatures and heat bubbles which threaten to destroy humanity. Amid this Global Heating Crisis, Piper lives with her mother who suffocates her more than the chaotic climate. When her mother is called away to meet the father Piper has been running from her entire life, Piper seizes an opportunity for freedom.

But when Piper discovers a world of mythology she never knew existed, she realizes her world is not the only one in crisis. While Gods battle for control of the Underworld, Piper's life spirals into turmoil, and she struggles to find answers to secrets kept from her since birth. And though she’s drawn to her classmate Shayne, he may be more than he claims. Piper has to choose whom she can trust and how she can save the people she loves even if it means the end of everything she’s ever known.


Setting Notes from PJ: Living in Austin, TX which is notorious for extreme heat and very dry weather, I have a good sense for what defines hot. But global warming is not just about the heat. It’s about all types of environmental changes. And it’s about what would result in society if the weather got so stifling hot, sweat dripped from us within seconds of being outside. The temptation to make everyone live indoors is definitely present, but for SOLSTICE, I stuck with the firm belief that, even in brutal temperatures, people will want to spend time out under the sun.

Sight

Brightness of the ever-present sun, solar panels, thermometers, dead vegetation near the ground, tall trees reaching up toward the sun, dirt, cacti, rocks, dry creek beds, cockroaches (always), dome structure extending over city for use in extremities, public transportation instead of cars, greenhouses, misters, heat waves rippling over anything paved, shade structures, dead sea life, rising ocean tides/water levels, skimpy clothes, dizzying effect from dehydration

Sound

Sounds of electrical braking mechanisms on public shuttles, branches snapping as they fall from trees, kids/teens hanging around outside, weather reports on the news channels, sirens when heat reaches extremes, fans blowing air, eco-friendly A/C running and turning on/off

Smell

Asphalt from streets, scent of cooling gel, smell of sweat and body odor, eco-friendly A/C odor, humidity in the air, dirt, decay

Taste

Taste of misting gel, processed food as everything becomes in shortage (including fruits and vegetables, animals), fresh fruit grown in greenhouses, water (rationed)

Touch

Misting gel sprayed to cool masses, heat in air, heat soaking into skin, sticky sweat, air blown from fans or A/C units, gritty dirt, chemicals (as in for hand cleaning) as water is in shortage, shortness of breath from heat

Helpful Hints:

--The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.

Example 1:

The red vinyl crunches under my legs as I cross them, and already I can feel it sticking to me and sweat forming. If the restaurant has eco A/C, they aren’t using it. Or maybe I’m just nervous. Or both.

Example 2:

I think the A/C unit’s stopped working because even though the place is shiny and bright and filled with vibrant colors and the ceiling fans are on full blast, it’s roasting hot. A drop of sweat trickles down my face, and I lick it when it hits my lip. It’s bitter from the misting gel we got sprayed with earlier.

-- Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly. Use references to your setting throughout the manuscript to keep the atmosphere present in the reader’s mind.

Silence falls on the class faster than a flash flood in a dry creek bed.

* * *

The humidity from the day before has doubled, and smoke from the fires mixes with it. It feels like we’re living in a giant brick oven. It feels like every bit of rain that poured down during the hurricane has lifted into the air and hangs there smothering the city of Austin.

Thanks so much PJ--this is an awesome addition to the Setting Thesaurus! And with it being so close to summer solstice, I can't think of a better way to celebrate than by offering up 2 copies of PJ's Book, Solstice! If you'd like to WIN, just leave a comment below! I highly recommend checking out PJ's blog, because there's always something cool going down over there, and you may just learn a bit of Kung Fu while you're at it. Contest runs through to this Saturday!

As always, Tweets and Mentions are  hugely appreciated :) Have a great writing week!

Giveaway now closed--winners will be announced tomorrow! :)

Winners & MORE Giveaways!

By Random Generator, the winner of The Character Therapist's Writer’s Guide to Creating Rich Back Stories is...

Rachna Chhabria

Woot, congrats Rachna! And everyone else, don't forget there's a second chance to win over at Jeannie's blog! She'll be awarding another copy to a new follower.

Want more FREE? Stay tuned for tomorrow when we'll be giving away copies of P.J. Hoover's Solstice!  (Did you know that SOLSTICE is in the top 20 for Children's Love and Romance on Amazon?)

Happy writing!

How to Avoid Last Line “Lemons”

Becca and I are super excited to have Jeannie Campbell with us on the blog today. We've been fans of The Character Therapist since forever, and the concept behind her blog--Putting Characters on the Couch, is plain brilliant. Jeannie uses her background in therapy to peel back a character's outer layer, unearthing the deep-set issues, phobias, fears and dependencies that makes them rich, interesting and complex. She has amazing insight on what motivates characters to act the way they do.

I could probably rave forever about this resource, so I'll just stop now and simply suggest you check her out. If you want to understand your characters on a deeper level, head on over to The Character Therapist site and explore all the writerly goodies like Character Clinics and Assessments. You won't be disappointed!

Read on to hear Jeannie's take on the importance of nailing the ending and creating a lasting impression on your audience.

How to Avoid Last Line 'Lemons'

“It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.” ~ Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities (1859)

“Tomorrow, I’ll think of some way to get him back. After all, tomorrow is another day.” ~ Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind (1936)

“And they all lived happily ever after.” ~ fairy tales the world over


When a last line really resonates with the reader, it becomes somehow etched in their mind as a beacon, illuminating the entire book. Some of the above examples are no doubt familiar to many of you. They have become immortalized in time. The perfect ending to inspire wonder, instill hope, allay fears and clear up questions.

As writers, we should pay particular attention to our last lines, because if they are lemons, this also will stand out to our readers—for reasons we don’t want to consider. How many of you have heard or given a review of a book that went something like, “It was such a good book…except the ending. Totally threw me off.”

Unfortunately, it’s the ending that a person is more likely to remember, due to a phenomenon called the Recency Effect. Researchers discovered in the late 60s that if subjects were given a list of items to remember in a list, they would remember the first few items (primacy effect) and the last few the best. The subjects never had good recall memory for the items located in the middle of the list.

This is actually good news to writers. We spend inordinate amounts of time of the first chapters because these are the chapters most likely to be entered into contests and sent via queries. We want the reader to be wowed and amazed—and most important, to want to keep on reading.

I’m not advocating for having a sagging middle, either. Bear in mind that all the research centered on subjects being given itemized lists, not reading books. But it stands to reason that a reader will mentally bookend your work of art with the beginning and the end—with the latter taking on an extreme importance.

Why? The Recency Effect exists because the items at the end of the list are stored in a person’s short-term memory. It takes less effort on the subject’s part to retrieve them. The same can be said for your book’s last line. It’s the bow on a literary package, and that by which the reader will ultimately come away remembering your book.

So how can you avoid last line lemons?

1) Consider your audience. If you’re writing thrillers, mysteries, and romances, the reader is going to want most, if not all, loose ends tied up. If you deliberately leave something dangling, you had best include a teaser chapter of the next book that’s going to address that very thing. A reader will hang on—for more than a year, if need be—just to have resolution, but they have to know that the author knows they want it. If, after reading an ending, your reader scratches his or her head in bewilderment or dissatisfaction, chances are less likely they want buy another book from you.

2) Revisit your theme to wrap things up. Since the middle is often a big blur to a reader, bringing back up the overall theme of the book at the very end is a great way to keep it in their head long after they turn the last page. If the moral premise is repeated, it’ll stand out in the reader’s mind. Sometimes a way to do this is to work in the title of your book by explaining it or giving it a twist the reader didn’t expect.

3) Work on the craft of cadence. Cadence of a sentence can make it or break it. When writing the last line, say it aloud over and over. Listen to how it rolls of your tongue, because if it sticks or hedges in any way, it will also cause the reader to pause. A well-crafted sentence that doesn’t wrap up everything in a book will still go a long way in appeasing a reader because it will leave them feeling satisfied.

I hope that these suggestions get you thinking about your last lines. Are they lemons or literary masterpieces? What ideas could you share in the comment section below that could expound on this idea of perfecting a book’s ending?

Many thanks to Angela and Becca for hosting me today!I also have a quarterly newsletter and anyone who signs up for it will also receive my Writer’s Guide to Character Motivation, too!


Character Traits Thesaurus Entry: Reckless



Definition: Marked by a lack of proper caution; careless of consequences


Causes: a naturally fearless nature, conceit, rebellion, a desire to get someone's attention, a need to prove something to others, a need to be accepted or liked, addiction to the adrenaline rush (adrenaline junkies), perceived invulnerability, an utter lack of care or concern for oneself, impulsivity/not thinking things through, immaturity (lack of ability or desire to make careful decisions)


Characters in Literature: Alaska Young (Looking for Alaska), Mr. Toad (The Wind in the Willows)


Positives: Recklesses are the people who do things that no one else will. Because their activities are beyond the norm, they can be entrepreneurial in nature, thinking outside the box and coming up with ideas that others would never dream of. They are often determined, decisive, and sometimes brave. Though dangerous, they provide fun and excitement for the people around them.

Negatives: Reckless people are a danger to themselves and others. They're self-involved, often knowing that their behavior is dangerous but being compelled to pursue whatever it is they seek. Because people can confuse recklessness with free-spiritedness or adventurousness, Recklesses are often admired by others and can lead weaker-minded people astray.

Common Characteristics: boldness, fearlessness (whether real or perceived), impulsivity, lacking common sense, needing constant stimulation, exhibiting multiple self-destructive behaviors (drugs, alcohol, driving dangerously, unsafe sex, etc), lack of respect for authority, shooting off at the mouth, stubbornness

Cliches to Avoid:
  • the tortured Reckless with a death wish
  • the Reckless bully, always coercing and manipulating others to join in his behavior



Twists on the Traditional Reckless:
  • Because Recklesses often have a negative past event that defines their behavior, how about making a character reckless for a different reason? The Reckless whose parents were crocodile wrestlers and raised her to be adventurous and fearless. Or a nerdy Reckless who wants to be like his treasure-hunting hero in his favorite comic.
  • Mentors are wise and usually do right by their proteges. A reckless mentor would be a hoot, in my opinion.
Conflicting Characteristics that will make your Reckless unique or interesting: timid, anxious, accident-prone, brainy, obedient, proper, conscientous

Weather Thesaurus Entry: Earthquake

WEATHER is an important element in any setting, providing sensory texture and contributing to the mood the writer wishes to create in a scene. With a deft touch, weather can enhance the character's emotional response to a specific location, it can add conflict, and it can also (lightly) foreshadow coming events.

However, caution must accompany this entry: the weather should not be used as a window into a character's soul. The weather can add invisible pressure for the character, it can layer the SCENE with symbolism, it can carefully hint at the internal landscape, but it must never OVERTLY TELL emotion. Such a heavy-handed approach results in weather cliches and melodrama (a storm raging above a bloody battle, a broken-hearted girl crying in the rain).

SENSORY DESCRIPTORS:

Sight: The intensity of an earthquake will dictate how much sensory input will need to be in your setting. A mild quake may cause hanging flower baskets to wobble, open gates to swing slightly, or wall decor to hang askew. People may be unstable on their feet, and animals will react, fleeing the area to a place of safety. A more moderate quake would send books tumbling from shelves, cracks to appear on walls or ceiling as shifting occurs, collectibles to fall and shatter, and people scrambling for safety or toward something stable to hang onto as the ground shudders and heaves. In an intense earthquake, power lines can go down causing outages, dust and debris fills the air as building collapse, glass breaks as window frames twist and bend, the ground buckles and crevasses can appear. Roofs and signage may fall to the ground, ceilings collapse, bookcases topple, fire and explosions can result as gas lines burst. Sparks from live power lines may also be present. The air will fill with dust, ash and smoke, obscuring visibility. People may emerge from building rubble with cuts and bruises, broken bones and bloodied appearances, or scurry through demolished building searching for friends and loved ones. Trees may be splintered or uprooted, and limbs and leaves could litter roads and forest floors. Building and roads may be slanted, caved in, cracked or buckled in some way.

Smell: Mild: no earthquake induced scents are likely. Moderate to high impact: possibly the sour, rotten eggs smell of leaking gas, dust, smoke, broken containers of liquids from the nearby setting (ammonia cleaners, vinegary pickle jars in the home, for example), dust, burning smell, plaster.

Taste: if injured, one might taste blood from a cut; dust; smoke.

Touch: Earthquakes trigger the flight response, as well as for some, vertigo that causes a loss of balance. People will seek out the safest location close to where they are, which could be a doorway, beneath a table, hanging onto a tree in a field. (Keep in mind your character's education, as current safety standards dictate that standing in doorways/hiding under something is not always safe although this is what many of us were taught). Current information suggests making oneself small and curling against something large and sturdy such as a sofa may be in fact a safer option. Also, stairwells are now viewed as a dangerous place to be and it is also suggested that a top floor of a home may be safer than remaining on a lower level (dependent of the building quality). Whenever your character is, falling debris may cut, bruise or otherwise injure them as they huddle, arms over head, waiting out the earthquake. Dust may rain down on them as plaster falls with larger pieces causing painful scrapes. They may hold onto something solid out of a sense of comfort and safety (a wall, dresser) and avoid areas where there is a lot of glass or shelves. The body would shake and bounce in time with each tremor. Outside, people would seek out an open area where the likelihood of being hit be debris was lessened, and huddle against the ground to wait out the event.

Sound: Inside: wood frame scraping/rubbing together in the walls, metal screeching and twisting, glass shattering as breakables fall off shelves, buildings groaning and shuddering, books clattering to the floor, plates chattering together in cupboards or falling out and smashing against the counter and floor, the hiss of a broken water pipe, a cracking noise, window blinds banging against windows, metal cutlery jumping and clattering in a drawer, the shudder of glass in window frames Outside:  a lack of bird calls, splintering wood, snapping limbs, a roar of a building collapsing (if in an urban area), sirens, screams

EMOTIONAL TRIGGERS:

Mood: An earthquake can instill a feeling of intensity and terror. Immediately the scene becomes about one thing: survival. The POV character's view of their world shifts--what seemed benign or unremarketable before now is measured on a danger scale--what will fall, collapse, shake loose? Adrenaline is high and choices are made quickly--a character will survey an area, assess the danger and chose the safest route through it. An earthquake is a great way to remind a character of their own mortality, and how safety is never a constant no matter how prepared or strong a person might be.

Symbolism: Instability; change; danger

Possible Cliches: Using an earthquake as a device to indicate a catastrophic event is imminent; a sign that Mother Nature is rebelling against human abuse of the environment

OTHER: Earthquakes vary in intensity. If you use one in your writing, make sure there is a strong reason for doing so, and always consider the wide angle effects of an event (the time for a city to recuperate, availability of medical support, disruption in communication, etc).

Don't be afraid to use the weather to add contrast. Unusual pairings, especially when drawing attention to the Character's emotions, is a powerful trigger for tension. Consider how the bleak mood of a character is even more noticeable as morning sunlight dances across the crystals of fresh snow on the walk to work. Or how the feeling of betrayal is so much more poignant on a hot summer day. Likewise, success or joy can be hampered by a cutting wind or drizzling sleet, foreshadowing conflict to come.

CRACK the CODE WINNERS!

It's time to get out those combinations we sent you and see if your code has opened the PRIZE VAULT!!

The rose carpet whispers under your feet as you approach the vault. Light gleams off the polished metal. You shake out your hands, flexing fingers and cracking knuckles, preparing for the task at hand. A long, slow breath whistles out from your pursed lips as you place your fingers on the dial.

Numbers swirl in your brain, fizzing with possibility. Meticulously, you count off clicks, until each number is aligned. Tick, tick, tick...The last number is in place.

You grip the wheel spokes, skin tingling from the cold steel. Sweat freezes on your palms. A deep breath, and you jerk the wheel.

Does the vault open? Read carefully through the combinations below. If yours is a match, click on your number and claim your prize.

76 - 11 - 13
10 - 48 - 64
55 - 25 - 1
8 - 46 - 10
63 - 32 - 38
51 - 92 - 87
95 - 16 - 20
65 - 30 - 15
84 - 12 - 88
81 - 6 - 61

49 - 43 - 94 (Congrats--You've won Becca's Prize!)
66 - 95 - 79 (Congrats--You've won Angela's Prize!)

(If you've won a prize from one of us at The Bookshelf Muse, just fire us off an email using our contact info!)

Whoop...can't forget the GRAND PRIZE! We're happy to announce that combination # 20 - 80 - 26 has won an awesome T-shirt!

Congratulations everyone and thanks so much for making our celebration so incredibly fun!

CRACK the CODE now Closed

All righty, folks--our CRACK the CODE contest is now closed. Thanks so much for playing--it was a ton of fun! Remember to check in tomorrow to see if your code opens our PRIZE VAULT!

Woot, Can't wait to see who the winners are! GOOD LUCK!

Last Chance to CRACK the CODE!

Just a reminder that CRACK the CODE will wrap up this SATURDAY at noon (MT). We want everyone to have a chance to WIN & help us celebrate the great writing community we belong to, so if you haven't yet entered, GO HERE to do so! Our Prize Vault is packed with Books, Critiques, ARCs and other awesome goodies!

Thanks to everyone whop has spread the word on FB, Twitter and blogs! You guys rock it! #CRACKtheCODE

And Holy Bacon, SO MANY NEW FOLLOWERS! Old and new, thank you so much--we look forward to continuing to provide strong content to help with your writing. :) Thanks for letting us be a part of your journey!

Weather Thesaurus Entry: Hurricane/Typhoon

WEATHER is an important element in any setting, providing sensory texture and contributing to the mood the writer wishes to create in a scene. With a deft touch, weather can enhance the character's emotional response to a specific location, it can add conflict, and it can also (lightly) foreshadow coming events.

However, caution must accompany this entry: the weather should not be used as a window into a character's soul. The weather can add invisible pressure for the character, it can layer the SCENE with symbolism, it can carefully hint at the internal landscape, but it must never OVERTLY TELL emotion. Such a heavy-handed approach results in weather cliches and melodrama (a storm raging above a bloody battle, a broken-hearted girl crying in the rain).

Aside: Dear God, as a sacrifice, I humbly and somewhat desperately offer up this hurricane entry that I have written from my south Florida home--a home that I would very much like to remain intact. Please let this entry take the place of any named monstrosities that may come barreling toward the coast this hurricane season. Amen.

SENSORY DESCRIPTORS:

Sight: Rain blowing sideways, decreased to zero visibility, huge ocean waves, trees breaking in half, blown-down trees blocking the roads, debris flying through the air and rolling along the ground, flooding low areas, overflowing pools/ditches/ponds/lakes, houses with the windows boarded or covered with hurricane shutters, downed power poles and lines, widespread power outages

Smell: water, ozone

Taste: n/a

Touch:  the house shivering and trembling as winds buffet it, rain pelting and pouring through holes in the roof or broken windows, steadily warming air as the power and a/c go off

Sound: rain pinging against the windows, howling/moaning/shrieking winds, debris crashing into the shutters, fluctuating noise volume as heavier bands of rain and wind pass by

EMOTIONAL TRIGGERS:

Mood: There's nothing quite like being enclosed in a boarded-up house that's being pummeled by 100mph winds. This situation quickly becomes claustrophobic, especially in the heat of summer when the power goes out. Hurricanes create an atmosphere of fear and worry as people sit in the dark and wonder how bad it's going to get. The mood becomes very tense and oppressive very quickly.

Symbolism: power, destruction, God, fate

Possible Cliches: Can't think of any!

OTHER: Hurricanes and typhoons are storms that form over tropical water and have sustained winds of over 74 mph. Hurricanes form in the Atlantic, Caribbean, and eastern Pacific Oceans. Storms that form in the western Pacific across the International Date Line are called typhoons. Storms are categorized 1-5, with 5 being the most severe. The strength of a storm's winds can cause massive destruction, as can the excessive rain from a milder, slower-moving storm. While lightning and thunder don't accompany most hurricanes and typhoons, they do often appear alongside the stronger category 4 and 5 storms.

Don't be afraid to use the weather to add contrast. Unusual pairings, especially when drawing attention to the Character's emotions, is a powerful trigger for tension. Consider how the bleak mood of a character is even more noticeable as morning sunlight dances across the crystals of fresh snow on the walk to work. Or how the feeling of betrayal is so much more poignant on a hot summer day. Likewise, success or joy can be hampered by a cutting wind or drizzling sleet, foreshadowing conflict to come.

Elana Johnson: Creating a Dystopian Setting


Today The Bookshelf Muse is sharing real estate with a YA Rock Star--debut author and self-professed Bacon Aficionado Elana Johnson!

Elana's Book POSSESSION is a technology-driven action ride following Vi, a headstrong and resilient teen as she faces the ultimate choice: control, or be controlled? Officially a week old and being devoured by readers across North America, the futuristic POSSESSION gives readers a 3D view of a world enveloped by technology and mind control.

We absolutely had to snag Elana for a post on how to create a compelling Dystopian Setting that engages the reader's imagination while conveying authentic realism.

 ELANA: So creating a whole new world for the future sounds like a daunting job. And it is. Here’s my advice: Don’t do it.

I know, counter-intuitive, right? Right. I think the smarter thing to do is use what you’ve already got. Take a location in the world right now, and reshape that into your dystopian setting.

Here’s why this works better than completely creating something from nothing:

Familiarity.
When we read, we want to be able to imagine the scene. If you write about a forest, chances are every reader is going to picture something different based on their experiences in forests.

You can use the familiar locations that exist in today’s world, and build your world from something people can easily imagine and relate to. And that’s already better than anything we don’t already know, no matter how richly described.

Think of your dystopian world as this one made of clay. And then mold and form and pinch and push it into something different. Some tips on how to do this:

1. Technology. Think of the films you watch. Things like GATTACA and THE FIFTH ELEMENT and MINORITY REPORT. Those movies almost always have advanced technology that we don’t. You can put some in your world too, and then use appropriate vocabulary to describe it so we can relate it to something we’re familiar with.

2. Language. Every new world has to have it’s own unique language. And I don’t mean like, French or anything. I mean the way things are described. I think a great example of this is in BIRTHMARKED by Caraugh M. O’Brien. She calls what once was a lake, an “unlake.” So much description rides in that one word.

Another example is MEMENTO NORA by Angie Smibert. She uses the word “glossy” to describe a feeling or if something is popular. It’s a familiar term, but new at the same time, and unique to the society she built.

I think every good world-builder considers the language they use that goes toward establishing their world.

3. Senses. These should not be neglected in your dystopian world. Are things clean or dirty? Can you describe it with sight and smell? Are things straight and angular or bent? Can you use touch to say so? Or perhaps the emotion that stems from seeing something twisted as compared to having everything in it’s place.

Senses are always important in all settings, but can really be utilized to help establish your world.

Basically, you’re going to take your good writing skills and put them to use in building a world. Do more with them than simply tell the story.

What else do you do to build a world? Any other tips? 

(Wow, thanks so much, Elana!)

BIG NEWS! Don't forget to grab your hover boards and zoom on over to the POSSESSION fan site for her virtual launch party this Thursday, June 16. There will be giveaways galore and a feast of awesome, including a live chat at 7 PM Mountain Time. Don't miss it!

CRACK the CODE Celebration!

**CONTEST NOW CLOSED. CHECK IN TOMORROW to see if you CRACKED the CODE!**

I can't believe it. 2000+ followers! Continually you show us what a great community this is! And we are so grateful to be a part of it, we had to celebrate. So, a drum roll please, for OPERATION: CRACK the CODE!

You know those enormous vaults stuffed with millions of cash, jewels and gold bars right? Well, The Bookshelf Muse has procured one just for you.


When we hit 2K, Becca and I so desperately wanted to fill this steel bad boy with writerly coolness.  But, it's a big vault, and we're only two people.

So, in the spirit of what our writing & blogging community stands for, we reached out to a few SUPERSTARS who always go above and beyond to help others. And guess what?

The vault filled with LITERARY GOLD.

Shall we take a peek at what you could win?


From POWERHOUSE SCI-FI AUTHOR Beth Revis, a signed copy of Across the Universe

From WRITING LUMINARY Casey of LITERARY RAMBLES, a 10 pg YA/MG critique

From YA MASTERMIND Stina of SEEING CREATIVE & QUERY TRACKER BLOG, a 2 chapter critique (all ages/genres)



From CONTEMPORARY GENIUS AUTHOR Janet Gurtler, a 3 chapter critique of a YA, plus an ARC of IF I TELL.

From STRUCTURE SUPERWOMAN Laura of Laura Pauling's Blog, a $10 Amazon gift certificate toward SAVE THE CAT (Snyder) or another book & a Structural Analysis of your opening 3 chapters for  hook, inciting incident, and the start of the character arc.



From BLINDINGLY BRILLIANT MG/YA AUTHOR P.J. Hoover, a ten page MG/YA critique and an ebook copy of SOLSTICE along with a set of awesome trading cards 

From MG FANTASY AMAZON Author Janice Hardy, a first chapter critique (all ages/genres)

 From KIDLIT CHAMPION Martina of ADVENTURES IN CHILDREN'S PUBLISHING, a 50-page critique (all ages/genres)



From MA BESTIE BECCA, an ARC of Lauren Myracle's Shine and a 5K critique (all ages/genres)

From MISTRESS OF MIDDLE GRADE Shannon of Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe, a 10 page critique (all ages)


From ICON of AWESOME Julie of Julie Musil's Blog, a copy of PLOT & STRUCTURE (Bell)

And from ME, a Blog Assessment & a 5K critique (all ages/genres)

Oh and did we mention the GRAND PRIZE? (see below)


As Probst says on SURVIVOR...worth playing for?

HERE'S THE DEAL:  See all the Thesaurus Collections linked in the sidebar? Well, we've hidden 25 vault photos that say CRACK the CODE on 25 different entries. Find 5 and then enter THIS FORM listing where you found them. That's right, we're challenging you to a good ol' fashioned treasure hunt!

After you fill out the form, we will send you a combination code for the VAULT. Hang onto it...because on June 19th, we'll post the winning combinations. If yours is listed, click on it to see which prize you've won!

IF you find ALL 25 hidden vaults, you can enter for our grand prize--this awesome shirt!

So, start poking around! Need a HINT or two? Visit the blogs of the folks listed above and gather the clues!

CONTEST CLOSES MIDDAY SATURDAY ON JUNE 18th, SO GET CRACKING!! As always, tweets and mentions are appreciated but not required. If you do TWEET THIS, we have a hashtag too! #CRACKtheCODE

Character Traits Entry: Thoughtful



Definition: given to the heedful anticipation of the needs and wants of others


Causes:
an honest love and caring for others, a desire to please, wanting to do the 'right thing', religious background, wanting to help others so they will return the favor, self-righteousness, seeking recognition, a desire to help others achieve their goals, the pay-it-forward mentality, a way of getting others to like them



Characters in Literature:
Beth (Little Women), Sam (Lord of the Rings), Melanie (Gone with the Wind)


Positives:
Thoughtfuls are always thinking of others and trying to make others happy. Their selflessness makes them easy to like. They are often an inspiration to others, who see their thoughtfulness as something to be emulated. By nature, people who put the needs and desires of others above their own often exhibit other positive qualities: generosity, encouragement, a hard work ethic, and a willingness to do the jobs no one else wants to do.

Negatives:
Because Thoughtfuls think so highly of others, they often are gullible or naive and can become victims of those wanting to take advantage of an easy target. Many Thoughtfuls are so focused on meeting the needs of others that they neglect their own dreams, desires, and even basic needs, to the point of sacrificing their own health and well-being. Thoughtfuls are people-focused rather than project-focused; this quality may frustrate people around them who are efficient, successful, or results-driven.

Common Characteristics:
kind, helping others, offering to help when others won't, seeing a need when others don't know it's there,  giving of their own resources to help others, worrying about people, anticipating the desires and needs of others, learning a new skill that will help them serve others (sewing, learning a language, etc.), volunteering for numerous ministry or service opportunities, giving monetarily to those in need

Cliches to Avoid:
The unflawed Thoughtful, the shy Thoughtful who serves quietly in the background

Twists on the Traditional Thoughtful:
  • Instead of a Thoughtful who is truly thinking of others, create a Thoughtful whose motives aren't pure--one who serves others out of a desire to be recognized and thanked, or one with a tit-for-tat mentality who keeps track of his kind deeds
  • Thoughtfuls are usually portrayed as people to whom thoughtfulness comes naturally, when in reality, being unselfish requires work. Make your Thoughtful real by showing her struggles to be selfless.



Conflicting Characteristics that will make your Thoughtful unique or interesting:
confrontational, loud, rowdy, fearful, lonely, grouchy, glamorous, jealous

Heads up!

Take a gander at all those amazing Esteemed Stalkers in the sidebar. It makes me think of three simple words:

CRACK THE CODE

What do these words mean? Well, I can't tell you, not quite yet. But check back here on SUNDAY, June 12th, because...there will be a Bank Vault. There will be Codes.

And Holy Freaking Banana Zombies, THERE WILL BE PRIZES.

Don't miss it!  

#CRACKtheCODE

Weather Thesaurus Entry: Hailstorm


WEATHER is an important element in any setting, providing sensory texture and contributing to the mood the writer wishes to create in a scene. With a deft touch, weather can enhance the character's emotional response to a specific location, it can add conflict, and it can also (lightly) foreshadow coming events.

However, caution must accompany this entry: the weather should not be used as a window into a character's soul. The weather can add invisible pressure for the character, it can layer the SCENE with symbolism, it can carefully hint at the internal landscape, but it must never OVERTLY TELL emotion. Such a heavy-handed approach results in weather cliches and melodrama (a storm raging above a bloody battle, a broken-hearted girl crying in the rain).

SENSORY DESCRIPTORS:

Sight:

A hailstorm is incredibly dangerous to anything exposed to it. High velocity balls of snow and ice rain down, varying in size from tiny BB pellets to baseball-sized objects that can dent metal or punch through glass or plastic. Typically hail is accompanied or preceded by rain and starts off small. As the eye of the storm moves overhead, ice falls from the sky, bouncing when it hits and throwing up small splashes of water. The accompanying cloud cover causes a grey cast to the air and visibility is very poor. Driving is dangerous, as is being out in the open. Hailstorms are quick and fierce, but are usually over within minutes, leaving behind a carpet of white ice. Even a mild storm can damage plants and trees, shredding foliage.

Smell:

Ozone

Taste:

Ozone (a metallic tang on the tongue when breathing through the mouth), water

Touch:

The stinging sensation of the speeding balls of ice will trigger the flight response. If caught out in a storm, people and animals will make haste to find any protection available to get away from the hard pellets. Hail, depending on size,can cut or bruise and is certainly painful. In extreme cases, hail can break bones, crush skulls and even kill. Arms are held over the head for protection, the neck is ducked as people run for the nearest form of shelter. Water soaks through clothing and hair, and an instant chill floods the skin with shivers. Teeth may chatter, and often a breeze is felt on the skin as air is displaced by the speeding missiles, adding to the sensation of cold and wet. Fingers and other extremities feel numb as a person huddles, arms tight to the body to conserve warmth as they wait out the storm. Heart rate increases as does adrenaline from the triggered flight response and as a person checks reddened skin for welts.

Sound:

The acoustics of a hailstorm depend on the location. If hail falls in a wooded area, the sound would mimic a hard rain as the ice pellets connect with leaves on the way down. If a metal roof is overhead (a warehouse, car hardtop, shed, etc) the pounding roar is deafening and people have to shout to be heard. An insistent pinging or drumming is heard in a lighter storm as ice bounces off wooden decks and pings against the window. The sound of the hail becomes absolute even in the smallest storm, drowning out the sounds of other contributors nearby.

EMOTIONAL TRIGGERS:

Mood: A hailstorm is a strong reminder of human fragility and the awesome force of nature. The strength and fury of such an event can create room for external reflection no matter what internal stress levels might be, or even bring about a spiritual moment. We cannot help but watch in fascination and awe at the destructive force of the weather, and the brief, fierce storm cal allow characters in a scene to come together through the experience of the event. Momentarily, all other concerns are forgotten as the storm pounds the earth. Hailstorms can also create conflict for characters, foiling plans and hampering efforts toward a goal.

Symbolism: The power of nature, Godly disfavor, unpredictability, that humans have not yet harnessed control and dominion over all things.

Possible Cliches: 

Nothing that stands out!

OTHER:

Hail most often occurs in Spring and sometimes Summer. It can be a precursor to more violent weather such as tornadoes. Temperature suffers a sudden drop when hail hits as millions of bits of ice cool the air. Hail can causes extreme damage to vehicles and homes.

Don't be afraid to use the weather to add contrast. Unusual pairings, especially when drawing attention to the Character's emotions, is a powerful trigger for tension. Consider how the bleak mood of a character is even more noticeable as morning sunlight dances across the crystals of fresh snow on the walk to work. Or how the feeling of betrayal is so much more poignant on a hot summer day. Likewise, success or joy can be hampered by a cutting wind or drizzling sleet, foreshadowing conflict to come.

Your Critique Family

Hi everyone! Today Becca and I are sharing a guest post on what makes a successful critique partnership over at Jessica Subject's Mark of the Stars.

The Beckster and I have been through thick and thin now for 7 YEARS. Seriously y'all, she should get a prize or something, putting up with me for so long! So what have we learned in that time? What 4 CRITICAL ELEMENTS are needed for a partnership like ours to thrive and succeed? Follow this LINK and find out!

And if you want to read the crazy story of how Becca and I met in person for the first time, you can find it right here on our blog!

Happy Monday! Have a great writing week.

Character Traits Thesaurus Entry: Proper

Definition: strictly accurate; decorous; marked by suitability, rightness, and appropriateness
Causes: home environment, regional influences, monetary status, parental expectations, a desire to do the right thing, not wanting to offend, snootiness, insecurity, a strict rule-following background
Characters in literature: Aunt Alexandra (To Kill a Mockingbird), Miss Rachel (Anne of Green Gables), members of The Daughters of the American Revolution (Beautiful Creatures)
Positives: Propers are polite, upstanding citizens who don't intentionally cause trouble within societal norms. They respect authority. Propers can be counted on to toe the company line; they make excellent Yes-men. They are extremely loyal, sticking to a person, group, philosophy, or belief to the bitter end. 
Negatives: Propers are comfortable with the way things have always been and don't respond well to change. They are often close-minded and stick to their guns even when they're wrong. Because morals and 'rightness' are often handed down through ancient tradition or a chain of command, Propers rely on others to tell them what is right and don't often think for themselves. Because they value propriety, Propers are often disdainful of those who behave inappropriately.
Common Characteristics:
Use proper manner of speaking, dress neatly, keep a tidy house, follow a predictable schedule, are aware of the perception of others, firm disciplinarians, often heard quoting the whys and wherefores of propriety (age-old sayings, Bible verses, quotes from literature and famous figures in history, etc.),
Clichés to Avoid
The proper woman married to a beaten-down, lazy man. The hypocritical Proper, following the rules in one area of life and serving himself in another. 
Twists on the Traditional Proper:
  • Since Propers are often portrayed negatively, make your Proper's motivations pure.
  • Give your Proper a disgusting or unnerving habit that seems completely appropriate to her.
  • Instead of mixing things up by throwing an improper character into Proper society, drop your Proper into a society that doesn't value such things. Let the Proper cause a positive shake-up, for a change.
Conflicting characteristics that will make your Proper unique or interesting: angry, apologetic, clumsy, curious, doubtful, lazy, messy, naughty, noisy, tolerant, wise

LENNY-LEE FEST!

There are many, many amazing people out there who I have met through blogging, but one of the most spectacular has to be Lenny Lee of Lenny's World. Lenny's an 11-year-old writer who is both encouraging and admirable, and has amazing strength and courage. He views each day as an opportunity to learn and grow, and I love that about him! Lenny has figured out things about writing that boggles my mind, a clear indication that he will one day be a force to be reckoned with when he becomes a career writer. (Remember, you heard it here first, world! Lenny will be Famous!!)

With such an incredible zest for life, Lenny could be hanging out with any crowd of folks on the net, so I feel especially lucky he's chosen us writers to share his sunny spirit with. So, we've gotten together and dubbed today LENNY FEST, showing our admiration for this great guy. I hope each of you will head over to Lenny's World to grab a bit of his sunshine for yourself!

To show my appreciation for Lenny and all he gives to others through his uplifting blog and bright personality, I'm sharing one of the first stories I ever wrote & tried to get published. I have resisted the urge to edit it because I want Lenny to know how much I admire his journey to become a stronger writer. We all started from somewhere, didn't we? Anyway, I hope you like it, Lenny. I can't think of anyone I would rather dedicate this story to. 


My Pet Human
By
Angela Ackerman (2004)


     Ever since I was a puppy, I’ve wanted a human of my very own. When I was finally old enough and ready for the challenge, I decided it was time to select out a human pet.
     Picking out a human isn’t easy. They come in all shapes and sizes.
     I didn’t want one too young. They can be loud, drool all over everything, and are hard to look after. Besides - they aren’t toilet trained!
     I didn’t want one that was too old either. They don’t want to play very much and might not hear me when I call them.
     I sat patiently at the Pet Store, waiting for the right human to come along. At last I saw him. He was perfect - not too young, not too old. He looked like he would be easy to care for. He had a nice smile and was a great ear scratcher.
     When we got home, I knew it was important to start his training right away. I needed to show him who was in charge. After all, this human is my pet, not the other way around!
     First, I let my human know that some places were off limits. I set aside a cozy chair for him to lounge on. This was his spot. He needed to stay off of everything else. The last thing I wanted was to have human hair all over my furniture.
     It’s important that my human learns good behavior, too. Fooling around and being loud is okay some of the time, but there’s a time and place for it. I like to enjoy my quiet time with no interruptions.
     At night, I let him sleep on the bed with me. Most owners don’t let their pets sleep with them. I hope my human appreciates how lucky he is. He sleeps at the edge of the bed. I need to be in the middle if I want to get a good night’s sleep.
     Exercise is necessary for my pet to stay healthy. I take him out for long walks, using a collar and leash. Wearing them is uncomfortable, but it works well to keep my human from running off.
     We have a great time together - he is very well behaved for a human. When it is time to reward him for being good, I put my head on his lap and let him scratch my ears. He talks to me and rubs my tummy. When I wag my tail, it seems to make him happy. Humans are very easy to please.
     Having a human for a pet makes me feel complete. I am very happy with my choice. He makes a wonderful companion. A dog with a human by his side is just the way it’s supposed to be.

Well, that's my story. I hope you enjoyed it, Lenny! Thanks so much for being a bright spot in the blogosphere. :)

Weather Thesaurus Entry: Sunshine

WEATHER is an important element in any setting, providing sensory texture and contributing to the mood the writer wishes to create in a scene. With a deft touch, weather can enhance the character's emotional response to a specific location, it can add conflict, and it can also (lightly) foreshadow coming events.

However, caution must accompany this entry: the weather should not be used as a window into a character's soul. The weather can add invisible pressure for the character, it can layer the SCENE with symbolism, it can carefully hint at the internal landscape, but it must never OVERTLY TELL emotion. Such a heavy-handed approach results in weather cliches and melodrama (a storm raging above a bloody battle, a broken-hearted girl crying in the rain).

SENSORY DESCRIPTORS:

Sight: Sunshine brightens all surroundings and makes colors appear more vivid. It casts a gleam against any shiny or smooth surface and causes glittering prisms on mirrored or reflective ones. Sunlight appears to 'move' when it reflects on fluid surfaces (lakes, ponds, etc) and draws attention. Natural foliage (trees, leaves, flowers) grow toward sunlight, causing a natural 'lean' in the direction of the strongest source. Sunlight is sometimes visible as rays slanting through clouds or a canopy of trees.

Smell: Sunshine on its own does not carry a smell, but the warming properties of sunlight brings out the smells of other things. Sun-warmed stone, metal and earth all have distinctive odors. Sun creates and encourages growth of greenery, so as flowers open to the light source, the air will carry a perfumed fragrance. Likewise, sunlight warming garbage bags at the curb, dog poop on the front lawn or a rat corpse in an alleyway will enhance these negative odors as well.

Taste: No taste, but excessive sun will cause dehydration and dry mouth.

Touch: The warmth of sunlight is an extremely powerful and pleasing sensation. Hair follicles rise and skin tingles under the heat. Surfaces will warm according to their abilities to absorb and trap heat--a leather car seat can sear the skin, bare feet on pavement can turn a slow walker into a quick cat leaper to a safer surface like cool grass or a piece of shade. As body temperature increases, people will take off outer layers of clothing or even seek shade and shelter. Increased sun will bring about a sheen of sweat and gradually become discomforting if exposure it prolonged, resulting in hot and sometimes painful sunburn.

Sound: The sunlight itself carries no sound, but depending on the strength of it and the associated heat levels, animals, insects and humans may not be as active, conserving energy during the hottest part of the day, which will create an absence of sound.

EMOTIONAL TRIGGERS:

Mood: Sunlight can create a languid, relaxed feeling in any scene, and naturally triggers positive emotions and thoughts. Worries seem lessened in the sunlight and encourages a good mood in those in the scene. Seen as 'good weather', sunlight often strips away any natural obstacles that could impede action. Sunlight can also create a sense of false security and safety as emotions misinterpret the wash of warmth.

Symbolism: A bright outlook, purity, life, safety, happiness, positive energy, a God's favor, summertime

Possible Cliches: Comparing sunshine to the brightness of a soul; using the feel of sunshine to induce a daydreaming state allowing the character to focus on memory/back-story

OTHER: Sunlight is critical to most growing environments, and while is present in all four season, is the strongest in Summer. Depending on the season and temperature, sunlight can act as little more than a presence of light, or it can blaze down painfully, burning anything exposed to its rays.

Don't be afraid to use the weather to add contrast. Unusual pairings, especially when drawing attention to the Character's emotions, is a powerful trigger for tension. Consider how the bleak mood of a character is even more noticeable as morning sunlight dances across the crystals of fresh snow on the walk to work. Or how the feeling of betrayal is so much more poignant on a hot summer day. Likewise, success or joy can be hampered by a cutting wind or drizzling sleet, foreshadowing conflict to come.

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