A Plethora of Publications

I have been a crazy publishing machine lately, and I’m finally down to two books that are still works-in-progress. Below are the books I’ve published this year. Click on the photos to find out more about them. For the next few days, the Kindle edition of Busy Teacher’s Guide to Macbeth is on sale for $0.99 at Amazon.com and $1.25 at Amazon.ca. More about the Busy Teacher’s Guides and support material for the books is here.

One work-in-progress is a grammar and writing book for the Better Business Communication series and the other is a writing journal just for teen writers–I’m very excited about that one! When I was a teen, I would have loved to have a journal to write in that was designed just for me. I’m busily looking for inspiring quotes from published teen authors to sprinkle among the pages. I’m also going to create two editions–one with images that you can colour and one without. Adult colouring books are all the rage for de-stressing, but frankly, teenagers need all the de-stressing they can get–been one, parented one, taught thousands–so in one edition I’m going to include images for colouring. I wrote about my own use of colouring to clear the mind for creativity in Writing Prompts and More–. Here’s an excerpt from that chapter.

Before they became popular, I was already coloring pictures in books as a way to clear my mind before getting creative. It happened by accident. I used to love to draw when I was a kid. I thought it might be fun to try again, so I bought The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Drawing, which should give you a clear idea of my talent level. The book is full of drawing exercises for freeing your creativity and silencing the ‘critical voice’ that lurks inside your head, waiting to talk you out of even trying.

Coincidentally, I was playing with one of these exercises before some precious writing time and, when I began to write, my fingers flew across the keyboard. I’ve tried this again and again with the same result. I realized that I had found a way to create the inner quiet that I needed to write. When I draw, I’m incapable of thinking about anything except where my pencil is going next. Everything else disappears and the critic is silent.

If you’re worried that your attempts to draw a picture would make your critical voices unite in a volume rivaling a room full of pre-schoolers with free ice-cream, grab a coloring book and color a picture. Just choosing colors and concentrating on staying in the lines can be a very quieting experience. As in drawing, the world slips away for enough time to quiet the voices and let your creativity emerge.

Bye for now. Hope your July is a writerly one!

PicMonkey Collage

PicMonkey Collage newwriting prompts and more

Writing Prompts for July 2015

A Cool and Foggy June 21st
A Cool and Foggy June 21st

The summer solstice passed through here with cool winds and clouds and the furnace on. Hope your longest day offered more hints of summer than mine. And now that 2015 is half over, it’s a good time for me (and you) to stake stock of what’s been done and what is next on the writing agenda.

I’ve had a very good first half of the year, and currently have four draft books to edit and another book draft that is almost complete. I also published three other books two weeks ago. I’ve continued to learn about the self-publishing business, though I am currently resigned to the fact that I am a complete marketing failure. I live in hope that I will be able to change that when I am at the end of my current non-fiction, book-writing marathon and take the time (finally) to concentrate on book sales rather than book writing.

I want to tackle NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in November and write fiction for a while, too. I’m hosting a series of NaNo workshops for local teen writers and am planning to join the fun and write along with them. Have you or your students attempted NaNoWriMo? Adult participants write 50,000 words in 30 days; younger writers can choose their own word count. The young writers’ program has amazing resources for writers of all ages.

One of the keys to success is to have a story thought out before going into the month of intense writing, though, I’m sure, lots of people just dive in. If you’re looking for a story idea to get you planning for NaNo, maybe one of July’s writing prompts will help. Have fun!

1. Here are some opening sentences for you to try:

  • Bill looked up at the flag to check the wind.
  • Helena reined her horse back to a walk. She needed time to think.
  • “When was the last time you saw him?”
  • He reached for the knife.
  • If school sucked, then Mr. Wentwhistle’s English class was the largest Dyson in the building.
  • I always liked the number 24.
  • The old man leaned forward over the table.

2. Use one, some, or all of these words to spark a story or poem.

  • Wheel, border, dark, wire, box, narrow
  • Cover, arm, strand, leaf, tall, blue

3. See if you can come up with a story for one of these titles: Lone Pine, Rooftop Romance, Thieves Game, A Quiet Place, The Dragon’s Tower, The Stars Await, Big City Blahs, Red Sky at Night.

4. Here are some dialogue excerpts. Can you imagine the scenes that each is part of?

  • I wish you didn’t have to leave.
  • I must obey the master.
  • Who are you waiting for?
  • Who says I’m waiting …. Okay, I’m waiting.
  • Did you see that car?
  • The grey one?
  • Yes. Did you see who was driving?
  • No, it was going too fast.
  • I’m not surprised. It just tried to run me down.
  • Pass me that will you?
  • What are you doing?
  • I’ll let you know when I’m done.

5. How does your character react to frustration? (I’m writing this during my second consecutive hour of online assistance in an effort to get Photoshop to download and work on my computer. I admire the perseverance of the client services person, but I sooooo have other things I’d rather be doing right now! I finally got out my NEO and finished writing this blog post.) What does your character do when he or she has to wait for much longer than he or she thinks is appropriate, or when something small becomes a road block to a larger project that your character considers urgent? (p.s. I can now use Photoshop–Yay!)

6. What do sunsets make your character think about?

7. What makes your character laugh out loud?

The Writing Habit

Work-In-Progress Cover
Work-In-Progress Cover

“Habits are first cobwebs, then cables.” – Spanish proverb

For as long as I can remember I thought it took 21 days to make a habit. I was wrong! Research now says that it takes an average of 66 days to create a habit. Here’s the link to James Clear’s summary of a recent study in the art of habit building. Clear states: “if you want to set your expectations appropriately, the truth is that it will probably take you anywhere from two months to eight months to build a new behavior into your life — not 21 days. Interestingly, the researchers also found that “missing one opportunity to perform the behavior did not materially affect the habit formation process.” In other words, it doesn’t matter if you mess up every now and then. Building better habits is not an all-or-nothing process.”

I must admit that I found that last bit inspiring. Knowing that the whole process will likely take a lot longer than I expected and that total perfection isn’t compulsory actually gives me more hope.  I do, however, recognize that 66 days is a long haul, and it’s a long  haul when you’re on your own.

To help writers develop that daily writing habit, I’m working on a supplement to my new book, Writing Prompts and More. When it is published (with luck by the end of the month, but likely mid-July) I’ll also be offering for sale a self-directed habit builder with 66 days of 10-minute, daily, writing prompts. Stephen Guise, author of Mini Habits: Smaller Habits, Bigger Results is convinced that mini-habits are the way to build lifetime habits–and I agree with him. That’s why my habit builder is designed to encourage writers to get a little writing done every day. Often, as Guise describes, once you’ve checked your mini-habit task off the list for the day you’ll  find that you will extend the task with more energy and motivation than you had at the beginning. That’s great news for writers.

For writers that need a bit more encouragement, I’m also working on a product that will include the 66 days of prompts, but also the opportunity to hear from me every 8 days. Every eighth day, the writing prompt will encourage you to reflect on your process, your writing, your current project. You will send that reflection to me, and I will reply commenting and encouraging you to stick with it. These are personal emails, not generic auto-responds. I know how challenging this can be, and I want to be your best cheerleader. A third level of the product will include 3 critiques of your writing (500 words max) to help you get past a trouble spot, clarify questions, and help you with character, plot, dialogue, description, etc. If you want to learn more about these packages and get links to other helpful writing tips, please sign up for my mailing list in the box on the right.

Soon, I’ll be making a couple of changes to the website to be more inclusive of writers of all ages and adding a Wright With You tab that will hold information on my habit building programs. I’m very excited about this and must thank my friend, Karalee, for inspiring me to develop this material.

Looking further down the road, I was very happy to be asked to host a NaNoWriMo series of 6 workshops for young writers at my local library. I’ve decided to sign up for NaNo, too, this  year and write along with my young writers. I’m really looking forward to the first workshop at the end of October! If you’re a young writer or know one, check out the young writers’ program and NaNoWriMo. The website has links to great writing resources and how-tos.

Hope the rest of you Friday goes well and that you have a writerly weekend ahead!

 

Writing Prompts for June 2015

I’m Canadian, so I’m going to start with the weather. Yesterday and today I woke to the sound of my furnace running. It’s June. Enough said.

On a cheerier note, I’ve been writing up a storm during the month of May and hope to finally be getting the fruits of my labours online soon. Here’s what I’ve been up to–

My first project has been a series of short business communication guides based on years of teaching business communications and also years of using these skills for employers and as a freelancer. I’m really excited about this series. Here’s a look at the titles and covers so far in my Better Business Communications series.

PicMonkey Collage new

A fourth book is still in progress and it focuses on the grammar and writing skills that everyone needs to be a successful business communicator.

The books in the series are short and to the point with practical tips and how-tos.

The second project I’ve been working on is a sequel to 201 Writing Prompts called Writing Prompts and More–Ways to Spark Your Creativity & End Writer’s Block. It contains another 100 writing prompts and also chapters with lots of other tips on ways to find the story you want to write or to find your way out of a place where your story is stuck.

Here’s the Table of Contents:

Introduction

20 Writing Prompts to Get the Ball Rolling

  • Five Opening Sentences
  • Five Groups of Random Words
  • Five Titles
  • Five Dialogue Excerpts

Sleep is a Writer’s Best Friend

  • Sleep
  • Dreams

Inspiration in Post Cards

20 More Writing Prompts

  • Five Dialogue Excerpts
  • Five Titles
  • Write A Paragraph That Includes
  • Five Opening Sentences

A Little Self-Reflection

  • What are you already interested in?
  • What have you already done?
  • Where have you been?
  • What can you do?
  • What Don’t You Know?

The News

20 More Writing Prompts

  • Five Opening Sentences
  • Five Groups of Random Words
  • Five Questions for You and Your Characters
  • Write a Paragraph That Includes

Get out the Pencils, Crayons and Markers

  • Drawing and Coloring Pictures
  • Maps
  • Change Your Writing Tools

Get Moving

  • Walking and Mundane Activities
  • Go to the Library

Final 40 Prompts

  • Nine Opening Lines
  • Six Questions for You and Your Character
  • Five Titles
  • Write a Paragraph that Includes 53
  • Five Groups of Random Words
  • Dialogue Excerpts

Last Words

  • Any Time of the Year Resolutions

So that’s what I’ve been up to. If you want to know more about these titles and when they will be released, please sign up for my mailing list in the sidebar. I will be offering one or two of them for free at launch, so join the list and make sure you don’t miss a free book or two.

And now–finally–the writing prompts for June. Enjoy!

1. Use one, some or all of these words in a story or poem:
• Smile, block, brown, music, real
• Peel, wood, lace, light, blue

2. See if you can come up with a story using one of these opening sentences:
• “Have you seen this?”
• Rain turned the narrow path into a steam of mud and dead leaves.
• The man’s face glared down from the picture frame on the wall.
• We smelled the smoke before we saw the flames.
• Going on this vacation had been a mistake.
• I was sure that I someone move past the window.

3. What story can you imagine with one of these titles: Fiddlehead, The Secret Cave, Call Me Never, Life Changer, Witness, Death at Sharpe’s Cove, The Turn Around.

4. Write a piece that has
• A hope and a prayer
• A door and a scream
• A smile and a trap
• A hand and a glove
• A tree and a tear

5. In what point of view have you written your story? Take a couple of paragraphs and use a voice different to the one you originally chose. Was it easy or difficult to find the words for the rewrite? Did you learn something about the characters or events in the scene that you didn’t know before? Are you in the right POV for your story?

6. What kinds of souvenirs do you bring home from your vacations or trips away from home: Programs? Ticket stubs? Collectible spoons? Maps? Brochures? Books? Where do you keep your souvenirs? How often do you look at them after you return? Is it important to have these keepsakes from your trips? Answer these questions for your characters, too.

Hope your June gets off to a writerly start!

Dude! Short Stories for Boys–Free Today on Amazon

Dude! An Anthology of Stories for Boys
Dude! An Anthology of Stories for Boys

Hi,

Just a quick promo note. If you have a Kindle and a boy who needs some new reading material, Dude! is free today and Saturday on Amazon.

Dude! is a short story anthology written especially for pre-teen and early teen boys. It includes a range of genres, including science fiction, fantasy, adventure, mystery, sports and historical fiction–a young Sherlock Holmes even makes an appearance! The second volume is “under construction” and promises more sports, fantasy, time travel, and adventure.

Amazon.com link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00OUVDL7O/ref=tsm_1_fb_lk

Amazon.co.uk link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dude-Anthology-Short-Stories-Boys-ebook/dp/B00OUVDL7O/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=1-24&qid=1431692072

Amazon.ca link: http://www.amazon.ca/Dude-Anthology-Short-Stories-Boys-ebook/dp/B00OUVDL7O/ref=pd_rhf_gw_p_img_1

 

Writing Prompts for May 2015

Signs of Spring
Signs of Spring

“Tra la, it’s May!”–words from Lerner and Loewe’s Camelot, and I must say I’m glad that the month of May has finally turned up. It’s been a long slog of a spring, but finally the daffodils and forsythia are blooming and the grass is green, and I’ve even been able to take my office outside for a few hours at a time. Perfect! I hope that wherever you are, you can enjoy a change in the seasons that brings promises of a creative summer ahead.

Here are May’s writing prompts (late, I know), but I hope you find a story or two to keep you creative this month.

1. See what story or poem you can create from these random words:

  • shout, door, red, race, grass, shudder
  • part, time, sage, window, trees, distance

2. Here are some opening sentences that might suggest a story or two.

  • The birds stopped singing.
  • Well. I hope you’re happy.
  • You’ve been invited to the court.
  • I have a very active imagination, but even I knew I hadn’t imagined a gun shot
  • The officer waited patiently for him to explain.
  • Finally, all the waiting would be over.
  • I didn’t want to leave.
  • Rain soaked through her cloak.
  • The loud tick of the clock seemed to echo in the room.
  • The song ended.

3. Here are some lines of dialogue that might suggest a scene or two.

  • Yesterday the plan was to leave at noon.
  • That was yesterday.
  • So what changed?
  • Everything.

 

  • I thought you weren’t going to make it.
  • I had to go back.
  • What for?
  • This.

 

  • That last person who tried that was sorry he tried.
  • Why? What happened?
  • Peter happened.

4. Try one of these titles for a story: Once Upon a Crime, Band Camp, The Empty Throne, The Last Stranger, The Wrong Body, Off Course, Danger Bay

5. What does/would your character with for when blowing out the candles on his/her birthday cake?

6. Are you a superhero fan? Would you or your character love to have a superpower? If so, what would it be?

And, I know I’m a couple of days early, but May the fourth be with you and bring you creative days ahead.

 

 

 

 

 

Writing Challenge Update–And Some Writerly Links

inspirationToday is day 16 of the 30-day writing challenge. We’re over half-way to our goal, and it’s feeling pretty good. Have I written every day? All but one, when a migraine flattened me, and I there was no way I could face the page. The other days I managed to pound out some words on my new project–some days more than others–but I’ve made steady progress. My focus is to write every day, not to worry about word or page count, but to get something written every day that will get me closer to my goal. I’m happy with what I’ve done so far, and look forward to the next two weeks.

On the way, I’ve found some blog posts to pass along to my fellow writers to help keep them (and me!) focused on writing every day. Here are three of them. Hope they help you on your writing road, too.

How to Always have a Bagful of Exciting Writing Ideas  by Tal Valante

“Whether you write a blog, fiction, or non-fiction, inspiration is all around you. Here are some ways to make your daily life an endless source of writing ideas.”
http://writetodone.com/always-bagful-exciting-writing-ideas/

Mastering Mood-Dependent  Writing Stages by Kristi Holl (This one was particularly timely for me during the writing challenge.)

“… I found a chapter in The Write Type by Karen E. Peterson very encouraging. The author said that not all the stages of producing a story or book involve heavy-duty creative thinking. If you’re not feeling the best some days, use that time for a writing job that requires less energy–but still has to be done sometime.” http://kristiholl.net/writers-blog/2015/04/mastering-mood-dependent-writing-stages/

Anne Lamott on Writing and Why Perfectionism Kills Creativity by Maria Popova

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life.” http://www.brainpickings.org/2013/11/22/bird-by-bird-anne-lamott/

Good luck with your own writing challenges, and I wish you every success in reaching your goals!

 

Writing Prompts for April 2015

Hoping to see these in my garden soon.
Hoping to see these in my garden soon.

Okay, better late than never. Here are the writing prompts for April. Enjoy!

1. Use one, some, or all of these words in a story or poem:

  • bowl, blue, bicycle, branch, break
  • time, book, window, sword, lane, tree

2. See where one of these opening sentences leads you.

  • You should enter the contest.
  • Snow in April? No thanks!
  • Branches, black with rain, beat against the window.
  • Sam’s car raced around the corner.
  • I loved the sound of birds singing in the trees. Today, at 5 a.m.–not so much.
  • There was no need to get close to the man to see if he were dead. I’d had too much experience to be wrong now.
  • A red light flashing on the control panel wasn’t usually a major problem. This time, it was different.
  • Josie looked different today.

3. Here are some titles to play with: Broken, Spring Promise, Murder on Wednesday, The April Fool, Through the Window, Dog’s Day, Sadly Ever After.

4. What scenes can you image with these lines of dialogue?

  • Look out!
  • What’s your problem?
  • It’s not my problem, but it will be yours if you run into that.

 

  • Have you told Jim,yet?
  • No.
  • Why not?
  • I’m not sure that he needs to know.

 

  • Well, that’s the last time I do that.
  • How can you be so sure?

 

  • Hey, that’s mine!
  • Can you prove it?

 

  • I quit!
  • What’s the matter?
  • Look. It’s a mess.
  • You have a point.

5. Spring seems to be taking its sweet time showing up where I live. It was a long and hard winter, and, certainly, other parts of Canada had it a lot worse. Nonetheless, I’m impatient with how long it’s taking to finally have some warm days. What makes you impatient? Especially something over which you have no control. How do you cope? How does your character cope with impatience?

6. Negative thoughts can sometimes be the only ones you hear. Kick them aside for a while and write a list of 10 things about yourself that you like or are proud of. Do the same for your family and your characters.

Have a writerly month, and if you want a boost to your productivity, don’t forget about the 30-day writing challenge starting on Tuesday.

 

 

 

30-Day Writing Challenge Starting April 7

IMG-20130709-00210If you’re looking for a way to get your writing back on track, I’m running a writing challenge for 30 days on my Facebook author page. Participants don’t have to do anything more than post “I did my writing today” or words to that effect in the comments of my daily post. Join me and other writers who want to get back to writing every day and need a little boost to keep going. I’ve participated in similar challenges before. Having someone waiting to hear that I’ve done my daily writing has been an effective incentive to help me reach my goal.

My role is cheerleader–and some days, fellow sufferer–to help you stick to your daily writing by offering you a place to check in every day. You decide how much you want to write. Set a time limit or a page limit or just be glad that some days you wrote a couple of sentences. It’s the sticking with it that counts.

If you’re interested, just drop by https://www.facebook.com/pages/Heather-Wright-Writer/336470796443870 to let me know you want to join the challenge on Tuesday. Love to have you on board!

And now, I need to get down to writing April’s writing prompts (a few days late), having been very distracted by the hacking of my writing prompts’ page for a ciallis ad. Yikes! Just a mild panic here, but my web host took care of it, so, back to work!

Finding Writing Time and Setting Your Story in the Here and Now

Finding More Writing Time
Finding More Writing Time

I hope you’re enjoying a taste of spring wherever you are. We’ve actually had some temperatures on the plus side of 0 Celsius for a few days. Cardinals and juncos are returning, the crows are making a lot of noise, and some of the snow is melting. All good.

I found a couple of blog posts that I thought I’d pass along. The first one, How to Eke Out 2 Hours of Writing Per Day, has great tips for finding extra time to write, but I also think it can help you find some extra time for whatever personal or work project you need to work on. The second, How to Build a Rich Setting for a Contemporary Story, offers excellent strategies for writers of all ages who are writing about the here and now and who want to make their setting tangible to their readers.

http://authormarketinginstitute.com/how-to-eke-out-2-hours-of-writing-per-day/

How to Eke Out 2 Hours of Writing Per Day

am institute (author marketing) February 12, 2015

“It’s easy to get into a productivity rut. When life gets jam-packed with work and family obligations, 10-minute tasks can easily turn into half-hour endeavors. This problem is universal, but most people never squeeze out the necessary time to fit in creative work. You have to strive for better to be a writer. Here are five ways to carve out two hours of writing per day:”

http://goteenwriters.blogspot.ca/2015/02/how-to-build-rich-setting-for.html

How to Build a Rich Setting for a Contemporary Story

This blog was written by Stephanie Morrill who writes young adult contemporary novels and is the creator of GoTeenWriters.com. Check the archive on this site for other great tips for teen writers.

“… can you imagine Gilmore Girls with no Stars Hollow? Veronica Mars with no Neptune? Gossip Girl would be wildly different without it’s NYC backdrop, as would The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things.

“I think the first question to ask yourself when figuring out your contemporary novel is if  you should use a real place or make one up. This depends on the type of story you’re telling ….”

If you would like to get advance notice of my new books, writing tips, interesting links and new writing prompts, please take a moment to sign up for my mailing list in the box on the right. I promise no spam and no three times a week emails asking you to buy things. I’ll just drop you a line about once a month when I’ve accumulated some interesting news and useful material. Thanks!