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Facing the might of a High School Creative Writing Class….#HSWriters #writingtips

The last month and half have spun by in a whirlwind. As you could see from the previous posts, I had Shadow’s Moon hit the shelves and coming up in two weeks, Hunted By The Past is making its grand debut. In between these, I attended the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention in New Orleans, the Phoenix Comicon, help to whip the Evil 7 back in line, revamped my website, and set up a ton of guest blogs for the next couple of months.  Basically that long list translates into: Sorry, my posts have been rather generic lately (other than my interviews). 

Apology rendered, let’s get back in the swing of things.  Today, I wanted to share a fantastic experience with you all. 

I’m not the biggest name out there, not by a long shot, and my books are geared towards adults, but I did have to travel up north for the job that pays the bills and something great happened. While there, I touched based with a wonderful friend who just happens to be the Librarian for a local high school. Imagine my astonishment when she asked, “Mind talking to our creative writing class?” 

Me *some what stunned*  “Really? You think they’d want to listen to me?”

Her *genuinely puzzled*  “Seriously? A published author? Why wouldn’t they?”

Her request rendered me into a ball of nerves and excitement. I asked other writer friends what would they have loved to have known in high school before setting foot on the writer road. Then, I began to gather the bits and pieces into one simplified presentation. Nothing formal, because I really wanted to have actual conversations with these budding writers. 

I think I was more nervous and intimidated than they were. Public speaking and I are not on the best of terms. It’s why I did drama in HS, so I could figure out how to talk to strangers. (Pretend you’re someone else, in case you’re wondering what I discovered.)

I walked into this bustling HS, where the Seniors had already left for bigger and brighter things and met with fifteen very creative, will-some-day-be-published writers. 

Once I stopped hyperventilating, I had the time of my life. They had great questions:

 Why do you need an agent?  Want film, comic, foreign rights, and the bigger NY Houses? Someone to look outside the box for ideas of where your work can be spotlighted? They’re great for this.

How do you write a query/synopsis?  Here are mine, they’re not the best, but you can get an idea of where to start. IMO, most authors put writing query/synopsis next to the fourth level of hell. It’s not easy cramming your book into a paragraph/1-5 page summary. It gets, dare I say better, with practice.

What do you do when the words won’t come?   Throw your computer out of a very tall building? Honestly, get up, walk away, do something else to give your subconscious time to chew over what’s hanging you up. You’ll be surprised what will hit you in the middle of your shower with soap in your hair.

What’s your writing routine?   Every writer is unique, so don’t hold yourself to one writer’s routine, just make sure you write something every, single day.  For me, I try to hit between 1200-1500 words a day, six days a week to finish a complete 120K story in 6 months.

How do you end a book, besides “THE END”?  My solution, write a series. Yet not every story needs every questions answered with a pretty, tied up bow. You can leave things open so your readers can spend time after they close your book, wondering “what if”.

They were great! My humor wasn’t too nerdy for them, so I didn’t feel like a complete geeky, old woman. The best part, they reminded me of why I started writing in the first place. That unquenchable desire to share my stories.  So to the best creative writing group ever, West Linn High School, and the greatest Librarian I know, Ms. Stacy Erickson…THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR LETTING ME COME OVER! I had a marvelous time!

Question for all of you, my amazing blog followers, what would you have asked a published writer when you first started out?

Yes, I want to know, because I’m seriously considering approaching my local HS librarians and offering to talk to their creative writing classes.


*If you’re wondering what was on that handout I gave the students:

Writing Group Links

Pacific Northwest Writers Association


International Thriller Writers


Romance Writers of America


Mystery Writers of America


Horror Writers Association


Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of Amer.


Local Meet-up for critique groups



Online Resources

Preditors & Editors


Absolute Writer Cooler


National Novel Writing Month


Kristen Lamb’s Warrior Writes



Reference Books

Synonym Finder by J.I. Rodale

The Emotion Thesaurus                  by Angela Ackerman

The Positive Trait Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman

The Negative Trait Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman

Story Engineering by Larry Brooks

Story Physics by Larry Brooks


Interesting online article: http://whatever.scalzi.com/2006/04/27/10-things-teenage-writers-should-know-about-writing/


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1 Comment

  1. What the H%^& is a comma and what do you do with them?


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