Dude! Short Story Anthology for Boys On Sale at Amazon

Dude!_Cover_for_KindleFor a pre-Christmas promotion, Dude! is now on sale for $0.99 on Kindle until Sunday midnight, December 14th. The price is lowered at Amazon.ca, too.  To find our more about Dude! and to read a couple of excerpts, please drop by here.

Links to purchase Dude! are below.

Amazon.com 

Amazon.ca 

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com.au

Thanks for your patience with this self-promotion. Back to my usual programming soon!

Heather

Writing Prompts for December 2014

Summer Memory

Summer Memory

I know that I’m a day late, but … well, November seems like such an innocuous month and then, kapow, there’s no time for anything–and I celebrated Thanksgiving in October! Anyhow, here’s hoping I can stay on track a little better now. I hope those of you south of my border had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend and that you’ve all been able to squeeze in some good times with friends and family.

Once school is out at the end of next week, I will definitely be hunkering down in front of the fire with some much-needed journal time. I find that writing with pen or pencil on paper really helps my creativity, and I have a lot of projects waiting for my attention right now. I write for other people on my computer, and for me in my journal. Do you find that changing your writing tools makes a difference to your output?

Here are the last writing prompts for 2014. Have fun and I hope you can find some creative time in the busy holidays ahead.

1. Use one, some, or all of the following words in a story or poem

  • smart phone, cup, nail, sky, bend, yellow
  • envelope, bowl, mist, date, wind, light

2. See if one of the following titles suggests a story to you: The Black Castle, Blue Eyes,  Dream Keeper, Once Upon a Crime, On File, An Elf’s Life, Christmas Love, Holiday Harry, The Next Morning.

3. Here are some opening lines for you to try:

  • You can’t be late.
  • The screen went black.
  • Joe always wanted to know what his father looked like.
  • There are times when it just doesn’t pay to get out of bed in the morning.
  • Sir, there are only enough supplies to last for three more days.
  • Explain to me again why it was a good idea to volunteer for this.
  • No one expected to hear a noise from underneath the stairs.

4. What scene can you imagine from these lines of dialogue?

  • This came in the mail for you.
  • Fine. Just leave it there.
  • Aren’t you going to open it?
  • Look at the return address.
  • Henry, did you hear what I said?
  • Sadly, yes.
  • So what are you going to do about it?
  • Absolutely nothing.
  • Hey, look at this!
  • What is it?
  • Dangerous.
  •  Mike, what are you doing here?
  • Thanks for making me feel so welcome.
  • I’m glad you didn’t think I was being too subtle.
  • You’re hiding something. Show me.
  • Here.
  • Oh.
  • Now what do we do?

5. Take some time this month to get to know your characters better. Chat with them over coffee (while no one is around of course) and find out what they’re thinking. Have you been giving them too much trouble, or not enough? What secret to they have that you didn’t know about. Ask your characters the ten Bernard Pivot questions that James Lipton asks his guests on the Actor’s Studio. Think about their answers. What have you learned about your characters that you didn’t know before? For fun, ask yourself the questions, too!

  • What is your favorite word?
  • What is your least favorite word?
  • What turns you on?
  • What turns you off?
  • What is your favorite curse word?
  • What sound or noise do you love?
  • What sound or noise do you hate?
  • What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
  • What profession would you not like to do?
  • If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

If you’re looking for gifts for your teen or pre-teen, please check out my books page.

 

 

 

Dude! Short Stories for Boys

Dude!_Cover_for_Kindle

Dude! An Anthology of Short Stories for Boys

Say hi to my latest book written with co-writer and friend, Jean Mills. You can read more about Jean here and here.

We’ve known each other since our two boys were in JK together. Jean is an experienced children’s writer, and like me, always looking for stories for boys that are just plain fun to read. Not edgy. Not preachy. Just fun, interesting stories. One day we decided we would just write the stories we were looking for and Dude! represents our first collection. We’ve included a range of genres, such as 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.

Though written first for the enjoyment of young readers, Dude! has the potential to be used effectively in classrooms for readers in grades 6 through 9.

Dude! is available at most online bookstores and can be purchased in paperback or ebook format. Here are some links:

Amazon.com 

Amazon.ca 

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com.au

Writing Prompts for November 2014

November

I’m wishing lots of good luck and good writing to those who have signed up for NaNoWriMo this year. And for those of you who haven’t, I wish a creative month that brings you closer to achieving your goals.

Here are some writing prompts to help you find stories or add to the ones you already have underway.

1) Think of a story or poem that you could write using one, some or all of the following words.

  • Dead roses, photograph, lamp, window, card, sigh
  • Candle, glass, bowl, rustle, paperweight, cord, breeze

2) Here are some titles that might help you think of a story or two: Last Day of Summer, Pumpkin Patch Mystery, Lights Out, Shattered, When One Door Closes, Never Forgotten, The Crystal Throne.

3) See if these opening lines can get your story started:

  • “Why do you think she lied?”
  • The only thing I could think of saying when I woke up was, “Where am I?”
  • That’s it. I am done with men. Forever!
  • Going home should be a good thing—but not always.
  • I swore that I’d never start a story with someone waking up in the morning. But when you wake up in a tent with a large dog and a (pick the kind of person you want) for roommates, neither of whom you’ve ever seen before, I think you can make an exception.
  • Henry closed the door softly.
  • Moaning winds, rain and thunder. Just what I needed for my first night in the house alone.

4) Here are some lines of dialogue for you. Who are the speakers, where are they, what are they doing, what are they going to do next?

  • Do you think we’ll get away with it?
  • We did last time.
  • Yes, but this time we won’t have Henry with us.

 

  •  I’m sorry.
  • What for?
  • For telling Liz about what happened.
  • It’s okay. She had to know.

 

  • Everything’s going to be fine. Don’t worry.
  • That’s easy for you to say.
  • You’re hurt, but I’m not giving up.
  • We’ll never get away now.

 

5) A lot of special holidays and family events are ahead in the next two months. What are you looking forward to most? What are you dreading? What do your characters look forward to? What do they dread? Write the diary entry your character wrote as a child about a special family or holiday event.

October 2014 Writing Prompts

20131013_135739Welcome to October! We’ve just finished nearly two weeks of perfect summer weather, but yesterday the rains came and today we’re facing cold winds and cloudy skies–and the furnace is on! I’m usually right on time with my writing prompts, but I’ve been laid low by the back-to-school cold/cough/flu, and lost track of time catching up, and frankly, sleeping whenever I could. Hope you and yours are having a healthy fall.

Here are the new prompts for October.

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

  • Clouds, rope, splash, branch, jar, grey
  • Car, pen, lighthouse, trail, fence, never

2. Try one of these opening sentences to start your story.

  • Red sky at morning, sailor’s warning.
  • Where are the pumpkins?
  • The dark figure lurched through the door.
  • This was one of those mornings when I should have stayed in bed.
  • The wind dragged the dead branches against the window.
  • My bike jerked wildly toward the curb. Flat tire.
  • Unlike my sister, I think that two kittens are two too many.

3. See if one of these titles inspire a story: Bubble Trouble, The Old Cottage Mystery, Ghosts at Lunchtime, Storm Warning, Frozen Dreams, Running, Hiding Mandy, Crushed, Clean Sweep

4. Write a scene to go with these lines of dialogue.

  • Henry is going to be there.
  • What difference does that make?
  • Henry always wants to be the boss.
  • Then we need to make sure he doesn’t get what he wants.

 

  • I can’t go.
  • But you promised!
  • I have to babysit.
  • Then I’ll just go on my own.
  • You can’t. It’s too dangerous.

 

  • Did you hear that noise?
  • Yeah. So what?
  • I’ve heard it before. We’d better hide. Now.

 

  • Where did Mike get all that money?
  • That’s none of our business.
  • It is my business. My sister’s wallet went missing yesterday.

 

5. What do you like best about autumn? Hallowe’en? Colourful trees? Back to school? Football season starting? Baseball season ending? In Canada, Thanksgiving? Write about the things that you like about this season. Does the character in your story like autumn? What does he or she like the most? Write about the things that you and your character dislike, too.

Back to the Writing Schedule

IMG-20130709-00210Is your creative output in a slump at the moment? Mine certainly is. I have lots of excuses, too, such as the busyness of starting teaching again, looming freelance deadlines, house projects requiring progress, marketing tasks, and creating a website and publishing the first in a series of short story anthologies for boys. I’m busy. I’m working. I’m getting things done in all areas, so what’s the problem?

The problem is—I’m a writer. I have stories I want to tell, and they’re not getting on the page. It’s time to carve out the writing time again. I know from experience that I can find the time to write every day, but I just don’t do it. For me, the best writing time is at night before I go to bed with journal and pen—or very early in the morning, when I wake up at the crack of stupid and can’t get back to sleep.

In 2013, I participated in a couple of accountability challenges (Thanks, Kristi Holl) and they made all the difference to my creative output. Kristi organized interested writers into groups, and when each of us had finished our writing for the day, we sent a “done” email to the group. It may seem strange that sending an email to a group of strangers would be enough incentive to keep me writing every day, but it was.

I’m lucky to have a good friend, and fellow writer, whom I’m going to ask to be my accountability buddy for a while, until I get back to writing every day again. If you think that trying something like this will help you get back on track, go for it! And let me know how it works for you.

The biggest accountability challenge in the world is coming up soon—NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month.) The folks who run NaNo are already getting in gear for this year’s challenge: write 50,000 words in the 30 days between November 1st and 30th. Over 340,000 people met the challenge last year. Drop by the NaNo website and learn more. If you’re a teen or pre-teen writer, they have a young writers program that’s perfect for you. They also have a lot of free writing resources for any time of year, not just November. Maybe you could get a teacher to run a NaNo club at your school to help motivate you and your fellow writers to reach their goals.

If you’ve discovered some great ways to keep the writing going, please share. I’m always looking for new ways to get myself to write everyday, and I don’t think I’m alone.

Hope you have a writerly week ahead!

A September New Year’s Day

School Supplies 3Big changes today. My son moved into residence at a local university, and even though he’s not far away, his absence will change our lives significantly. A cheerful, talkative, smart young man and talented musician, he’s leaving us with looking for ways to keep the house from feeling so quiet and so empty. It’s time for him to move on to the next part of his life, and for us to sort things out here, too. Interesting times are ahead for all of us, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. If you’re heading to school this September, as teacher or student, I wish you every success as you take more steps to grow and learn and decide what kind of person you want to be and what kind of future you want for yourself and those around you.

For my Facebook friends today, September 1st seemed more like New Year’s Day–full of plans for new projects, new directions and resolutions to make much-wanted changes. If one of your resolutions is to write more, here are some writing prompts for September.

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

a) Bus, trap, rain, pen, dread, grey, coin

b) Rail, gold, title, wind, surprise, empty, fall

 

2. See if one of these opening lines inspires a story:

  • Are you sure you’re okay on your own?
  • I don’t know what comes after this.
  • Does that car look familiar?
  • When the last time you saw Rick?
  • I thought he was going to win.
  • I’ve lost it. Again.

 

3. Here are some lines of dialogue that you can use to write a scene or include in a story.

  • Move over.
  • Why?
  • I can’t see.

 

  •  Have you heard from Henry lately?
  • No. He’s been awfully quiet.
  • That’s not like Henry is it?
  • No.

 

  • Are you ready to try again?
  • I wasn’t ready to try the first time.

4. Maybe one of these titles will give you a story idea:

Bricks and Sticks, Meeting at Sunrise, The Blue Throne, Mystery on the Red Planet, The Hunter, Open Book, Game Day.

 

5. Leo Tolstoy wrote: “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Think about what it would be like to live in a family different from yours. If you have lots of siblings, imagine going through a day as an only child. If you have sisters, imagine your life with brothers of vice versa. You get the idea. What kind of families have you created for the characters in your story? Make a list of the details that you thought of while imagining a different family and see if you can use them to help build the families of your characters.

Inspiring Links for Teen Writers

New JournalSometimes the Internet just seems to throw something my way that leads me to explore even more. Today I started with one link and ended up with a series of websites about writers who were published in their teens. If you’re a young writer, you will find lots of great writers and books here to inspire you.

Here are the links to the sites I found. Enjoy! And keep writing!

Authors Who Wrote Great Books Before They were 25.

23 Writers Who Were Famous Before Age 23

List of Books Written byChildren or Teenagers

Teen Author Bookshelf: List of Published Teen Authors When you drop by this website to check out this list, take some time to explore the great resources here. An excellent site for teen writers!

Teen Writers Find Publishing Success

Yes, You Can Get Published as a Teen Another great site to explore!

Back from vacation and … mini habits

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Wow, how quickly the vacation bubble bursts. One day you’re relaxing on the deck reading a book, with nothing more challenging ahead than choosing the next book to read, and the next minute your life is back to deadlines, errands, and chores. No complaints. We had a great time. We spent some time beside Lake Huron and also headed to Cleveland to explore the sights and take our music-crazy son to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame–a nice combination of sight-seeing and lazy days.

I’ve been enjoying the work I returned to, and I picked up another smaller freelance job, as well, this week. That’s my limit now until early October. I’ve got school to prep for school soon, and I have a new course to teach, so freelancing time won’t be in great supply for the next month and a bit–just enough to finish the projects I have and enjoy my classes without going crazy.

I’ve got Writing Fiction: A Guide for Pre-Teens out to a few places for reviews. Waiting is not my happy place. And then there’s the worrying about whether I’ve actually written anything worth reading at all, and maybe it’s really awful, and … well you get the idea. Writers don’t really need critics. We can be hard on our work all by ourselves.

Thanks to Kristi Holl’s recent blog, “Not Enough Willpower to Reach Your Goals? Try Mini Habits!“, I’ve started to read Stephen Guise’s book, Mini Habits: Smaller Habits, Bigger Results. The concept of setting very small daily goals is really appealing, especially with school and deadlines looming large. The idea is that you set a really small goal, one that’s not bigger than your willpower, such as writing 50 words a day. If you set a goal of writing 500 words a day, you’d probably resist doing that because it seems like a lot of work, especially on those days when you’re worn thin with other stresses. However, it’s more likely that you won’t resist the challenge of writing 50 words a day. You’ll take the time to do that because you know it’s easy to do. You will have met your goal, written something, and checked off something positive (yay!) on the to-do list–all good. Aside from the self-esteem boost of reaching your goal, there’s a good chance that you will write more than those 50 words–also good. This strategy can apply to anything from eating well to exercise to thinking positive thoughts. Check out Kristi’s blog to find out more. She explains it better than I.

Hope that your writing is going well, and over the next week, that you make progress toward your goals (with or without mini habits!)

Writing Prompts for August 2014

The_Dragon's_Revenge_Cover_for_KindleWow! August 1st! What’s happening to the summer? I hope you’ve been busy with the things you love to do as well as dealing with life’s necessities.

I’ve been very busy, but in a good way, and am happy to have both of my self-published books now online. The first is Writing Fiction: A Guide for Pre-Teens, and the second is my fantasy for middle readers, The Dragon’s Revenge, a sequel to The Dragon’s Pearl. You can read more about The Dragon’s Revenge here. To celebrate its release, The Dragon’s Pearl is free right now on Kindle until Sunday. Here’s the link to check it out: http://www.amazon.com/Dragons-Pearl-Temple-Blue-Mist-ebook/dp/B00C0C94G2/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=8-1&qid=1406805446

The other work I’ve been doing is writing business case studies for an educational publisher to go along with a new textbook, and writing a kids’ version of Frankenstein for Caramel Tree Publishing. They specialize in ESL material. Frankenstein won’t be out until next year sometime. With my friend and co-writer, I’m also working on an anthology of stories for boys that we hope to have out by early September.

And like you, I’m still looking for new stories to write.

Here are some prompts to help you find your stories this month:

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

Blue, rain, bridge, driving, insect

Trees, sign, warning, chase, silver

 

2. Here are some titles for you to try: It’s Conditional, Dream Valley, A Piece of Sky, Lodging Exit 52, Silver Creek Adventure, Mail 346.

 

3. Try one of these opening lines and see where it leads:

How long ‘til we get there?

Looks like rain.

From here, the place didn’t look that scary.

There was only one way out.

I’d had a root canal, broken my wrist, and been kissed by Mackenzie Schmidtheimer, but all of them together weren’t worse than a family road trip.

 

4. What kind of scene can you build around these lines of dialogue?

Where are you going?

Why?

Look at the sky.

 

I want to go now.

That’s impossible.

Why?

You haven’t met Sirus yet.

 

The place has changed since I was here last.

One thing has stayed the same though.

What’s that?

It’s still dangerous.

 

5. Describe your ideal concert? Who would be playing and where? Who would you go with and what would happen that would make this experience the most important one in your life so far?

6. In your imagination, picture a street corner that you know well. In your imagination, turn that corner and find something completely surprising—a circus, the same street in the year 1850, a Roman ruin … you get the idea. What happens next?