Tuesday, December 22, 2020

TwasThe Night Before Christmas A Parody For Book Lovers



 Twas The Night.

                                                  by Susan J Berger

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house,

Each creature was reading. Yes, even the mouse.

In a nest made of cotton that used to line pills,

he read Mouseman Saves Christmas and shivered with thrills.

 Miss Padpaws turned pages of  Elf off A Shelf 

And purred as she read it aloud to herself.

Bad Dog, on the hearth, was devouring a book.

He'd chewed up five chapters and turned them to gook.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,

reading books, with their blankets pulled over their heads.

Mamá in her headset heard Time and Forever.

I chortled o'er Hogfather. That Pratchett's so clever.

Not one of us heard jingle bells on the roof.

No prancing and pawing of each tiny hoof.

Santa slid down the chimney and only Bad Dog, 

looked up and woofed softly at the man on the log.


"Good Bad Dog," said Santa, and opened his pack.

He pulled out a bushel of books from his sack.

Picture books, YA, some Midgrades for Simon,

Thrillers, romances and even Neil Gaiman.

Geronimo Stilton, he gave to the mouse.

A copy of Archie, he left for the louse

He patted Miss Padpaws and handed her Cats.

For Bad Dog, a cake book that tasted like Brats

 He filled every stocking with poems and prose.

Then ate all the cookies; brushed crumbs from his clothes.


On Prancer! On Dancer!"  Their bells jingled bright.

"Happy reading to all and to all a good night".

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

NanoWriMo Time. Quotes to keep you writing

By Susan J. Berger
It's NaNoWriMo time again.   If you've never tried National Novel Month, it's a great way to get a first draft. This year I hope to come out with a finished short story. No harm in setting your own personal goal. I have three published NaNoWriMo Novels, two first drafts I haven't revised and a fourth novel I am currently querying.

This isn't about being perfect. It's about getting the words out. If you get the words out, the story will come. I guarantee there will be lots of surprises.

"Here's the bottom line; writers write. Sometimes words flow easily. Sometimes it's like sloughing through mud. Either way a professional writer keeps writing." 
 "A word after a word after a word is power." - Margaret Atwood

Dory and I have so much in common. I often stop to Google.
“Don't worry about what you're writing or whether it's good or even whether it makes sense.”   Lauren Oliver
“Remember: Plot is no more than footprints left in the snow after your characters have run by on their way to incredible destinations.”
Ray Bradbury.
Advice from a Hollywood NaNoWriMo coordinator.
"When all else fails, throw in a Zombie."
Will you revise after NaNoWriMo? Of course, but right now the trick is meeting the deadline.
"There's an old folk saying that goes: whenever you delete a sentence from your NaNoWriMo novel, a NaNoWriMo angel loses its wings and plummets, screaming, to the ground. Where it will likely require medical attention.”
Chris Baty
“You can't edit a blank page”
Happy writing.

Monday, October 26, 2020

More on NaNoWriMO It's COVID Season. Here's Something to Do


 Have you started a book which you’ve never had time to finish? You are not alone. I had ideas galore. But getting them down and finishing that first draft? Let me say it took me a year and an half, a commitment to my critique group and a lot of personal nagging to finish a first draft of a middle grade book.  Then I discovered NaNoWriMo.

National Write a Novel Month takes place in November. It began in 1999, when Chris Baty and a group of friends got together and challenged each other to write a novel of 50,000 words of more in ONE MONTH. Why? Who knows? Crazy!

But seven people completed the challenge. They did it again the next year with more people… This will be the sixteenth year of the marathon. It has become an international event with more than 100,000 [R1] participants. 
This blurb from their website: 
National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30.Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought fleetingly about writing a novel. 
IN 2018 which is the last year for which I can find statistics 450,000 participated. 53,000 finished. This year's NaNo winners - 2020, Get a free upload and editing with Ingram Sparks
Sound interesting to you? My first thought was 50,000 words in one month? No way!!! The longest piece I’d ever written was that mid grade novel – about 16,000 words. But what if I could? I explored the NaNoWriMo website and decided to give it a shot.
It was an amazing experience. What I had given myself was a huge gift – a deadline.
In November 2004, I sat down at the PC without an idea in my head, just a determination to do a daily stint of 2000 words. (I belong to the Pantser school of writers. The plot emerges from my subconscious as I write.)
The first sentence was “I am beginning. I don’t know how I got here and the world is full of strangers..” Horrible sentence, but I kept on writing.
Often my inner critic would look at what I wrote and say, “This is awful!” But my looming deadline gave me the courage to silence my inner snarker with these words. “Never mind, it is word count. Keep writing.”

Another joy of NaNo? Getting a pep talk from a well known author in your mail box every week in November. Here are a few SCBWI members gave: Kate DiCamillo, John Green, Tamora Pierce, Walter Dean Myers Here’s is a link to all the previous SCBWI author pep talks.

I kept writing. I attended local NaNo write-ins. I powered through sticky awkward sentences to scenes I was proud of, and on November 30, 2004, I had a 50,000 word first draft of a first person YA novel called Missing. Frabjous joy!!
(Slight problem: After I read it through, I realized I had used Robert Heinlein’s Mars stories as a model and that science is no longer valid. Someday I will figure out how to overcome that and revise the novel.)
In 2006 I gave NaNo another shot and didn’t finish. I hated what I’d written. No one yelled at me except my inner critic.

In 2009 I tried again. This time I came up with a first draft I knew I could revise into a better story.
Many drafts later, Soul Mate Publishing offered me a contract for Second Chances, which was reborn as Time and Forever and published in 2014.

Time and Forever was a Golden Quill Finalist for Best First Book and a RONE Award finalist for Best Time Travel Novel.  

I wrote four more books during Nano. Two of them are published. I am submitting the third now. And I believe I will do NaNo this November.

Biggest pieces of advice:
Be like Dory in the movie Finding Nemo
Just keep writing, just keep writing.  
Do. Not. Edit.
 As author Sarah MacLean says, “That’s for future you to worry about.”
Name your inner critic (I call mine Ethel), and tell her/him to take a vacation till the end of November. If you keep your fingers moving and write through the junk, a beautiful something will emerge.
Go ahead! Give yourself an adventure. http://www.nanowrimo.org/
You have no idea what is possible till you try it.

Monday, October 19, 2020

NaNoWriMo It's happening Soon


 Originally posted October 14, 2010.

Susan Berger
November is officially Write a Novel Month
(Thirty days and thirty nights of literary abandon)

In 1999, Chris Baty and a group of friends got together and challenged each other to write a novel of 50,000 words of more in ONE MONTH. Why? Who knows? Crazy!

But seven people completed the challenge. They did it again the next year with more people… This is the eleventh year of the marathon. It has become an international event. In 2009 167,150 people signed up. 32,178 people completed their 50,000 word count. I was one of them.

I first participated in 2004. When I heard about it, my thought was “No way!” The longest piece I had ever written was 16,000 words. Then I went on the Nanowrimo website. I bought Chris Baty’s book. “No Plot No Problem” and I decided to give it a shot. 

It was an amazing experience. What I had given myself was a gift – a deadline. 

I gave myself a daily stint of 2000 words. Often I would look at what I wrote and say, “This is awful!” Then I would say, “Never mind, it is word count. Keep writing.”

I silenced my inner editor and on November 29th 2004, I had a 50,000 word first draft of a YA novel. I made new friends, and had an amazing experience.

The odd thing about the experience was that the 2000 words per day on the novel seemed to fuel my other writing. 

I started Nanowrimo again in 2006. That time, I did not complete the book. But I still go back to it. I am glad I started it. No one (including me) gave me a bad time about not finishing.

On November 3rd 2009, I started Nano with not an idea in my head. But if you show up at the page…I ended up with a novel called Second Chances which I hope to pursue to publication. I was lucky enough to have Kelley Armstrong critique the first 40 pages. I am working on her suggestions.

Nano now sends pep talks from established authors. http://www.nanowrimo.org/eng/pep I was amazed by how many of my favorite authors gave pep talks. I LOVED getting those emails

Have any been published? 

NaNoWriMo books have borne the logos of presses such as Warner Books, Ballantine, and Berkley Books. Published novels include, Sarah Gruen's Flying Changes, Rebecca Agiewich's Breakup Babe, Dave Wilson's The Mote in Andrea's Eye, and Gayle Brandeis's Self Storage. This is a link to the Nanowrimo FAQ on their published stats.
Go ahead! Give yourself an adventure. http://www.nanowrimo.org/
Look around the site and see if it appeals to you.

Once you sign up for Nanowrimo, you will want to “customize” your experience. 
  1. Set your region. Mine is Los Angeles. I attended several “write outs” in my area. We met at coffee shops and libraries.
  2. Set your forums: There an active online community for your genre. Check which areas you want hidden or visible. Far down the list are “Genre Lounges” There is a lounge for Young Adult and Youth. There are a lot of lounges you may prefer to keep visible.
There are other things to do on the site, i.e. set up your “Author Information, upload a picture. Watch the Nano video on October plotting. I once thought 50,000 words in a month was impossible. Now I know I can do it.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Favorite Writing Advice from the Inkers.

From July 2010
Everyone probably has one or two bits of favorite writing advice. Here are some of ours.


 Writing on Both Sides of the Brain by Henriette Anne Klauser

“When you first began to write, you had someone standing over you (for your own good) correcting your form, grammar, and spelling…..Today when you sit down to write, chances are that your teacher is still with you, standing over your left shoulder, correcting, critiquing, circling uppercase letters with her red pencil, and in other subtle and not so subtle ways discouraging your from writing, generally stemming the flow of words.” (Right on!! Greg Dean, a stand up comedy teacher, came up with a solution for this: Never criticize your self in your performing space. Get yourself a cheap bath rug. When you feel yourself getting ready to criticize your output, leave your performing space. Stand on the rug and critique yourself. Then return to your performing space. This really helped me. It also gets you to stand up from your computer on a frequent basis.)  Libba Bray at 2010 Writers Day suggested naming your critic. I love that one.

And from NanoWriMo: Give yourself a gift: a deadline

Jane Yolen on Writing

There is no such thing as the time fairy dropping bits of time for aspiring writers to trip over or find. If you want to be a writer, you find or make or grab or take time from whatever else is going on. Otherwise you really don’t want to be a writer, you just want to have written.

First rule of writing- B I C- Butt in chair
Second rule or writing- follow rule one.


From the Medicated and Motivated School of Writing and Anne Taintor, Ms. Dish recommends the following:

1) “Why yes, I am that kind of girl – thank you.” - Write what you know.

2) “Old enough to know better, too old to give a rat’s ass.” - Learn the rules, then break them.

3) “…And then Fairy Godmother said, ‘Mojitos for everyone!’….”  -Get it all out. Overwrite first, you can always clean up later.

4) “A true friend would help hide the body.” - Get someone to edit your work in an objective manner.



"Always start with a fresh tablet."  Hammurabi, King of Babylon

"And the Lord said, 'smite the Adverbs, for they are a blight upon thy manuscript.'"
3:14 Book of Grammar

"A little sacrifice goes a long way."
Tezcatlipoca, Aztec Sun God

"Sharpen thy quill, scribble on thy parchment and heed not the call of naysayers."
St. Ernesto, Patron Saint of Unpublished Writers

 "Find the gold in your landscape."
Hernando Cortez, Spanish Conquistador

"Fear not to cut, cut and cut."
Jack The Ripper

"Every period is a revolution."
Pancho Villa, Mexican Revolutionary

"Ahhhh....write some 'em about rabbits."
Bugs Bunny

"Whadda I look like, Pablo Neruda?"
Joe the Cook, Good Grub Diner

What was the advice that stuck with you?