Category Archives: Tinker with Tools Tuesday

Tinker with Tools Tuesday: Ka Boom!

I’m so excited! Tonight I will be at the Charlotte Motor Speedway observing a Zambelli Fireworks show! I’ve been anticipating this for quite a while now and finally this is the night it will happen. I know I have said it before but here it is again: sometimes the best tool an author can have in his/her pocket is…

*drum roll and colorful confetti*

RESEARCH…plenty of it!

I can’t stress that enough. It is important to know what you are writing about. It is important to get it right. I like to get it right! Don’t you?

I’d like to think an author should be precisely like Curious George. Yup! That clever monkey knows what he is doing! Can anyone really ever be too curious? I don’t know about that one.

I plan to take the kids at a later time in the future.

Hopefully I’ll get a picture or two to share with you guys, if they allow it. I feel like I’m going undercover. In a way I am. I’ll be under cover by the darkness just before I hear that first Ka-Boom!  Bad joke? No? I’m laughing anyway.

Have you had any fun research adventures lately? Any that got you deep in trouble like Curious George? I’ve heard of some authors who actually go undercover for research. Have you? 

Sidenote: We just got a puppy and I need a few suggestions. I was thinking of naming the dog after literary figures or after an animal from a kidlit story? Any ideas? Anyone ever named pets this way? 


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Tools You Never Knew You Had

So I was thinking last night. We all have unexpected tools, things we don’t quite recognize for their value in gold (maybe because they make us feel a wee bit eccentric), tools we don’t think of as tools, but clearly they are. You might see them as a coping mechanism for your writing, or as a last line of defense, or a way to keep your sanity as you reach that word count deadline. Let me me just say that having thought of it a good while,  I now see them as what they really are: tools. Writer tools. Without them, I’m just not myself. With them I’m a bit, well let’s just say I have character.

Here are a few:

Using Facebook, Blogger, or Twitter for the remembrance of facts. My friends must think I’m on the internet all the time, but I’m not really all there (see I sound like a loony already) when I’m on. I’m compiling links that remind me of ideas for a story, I’m posting my research there. I’m networking.

A new experience everyday, like yesterday for example. I bought a new kind of cheese. Some strange brand of Brie. Boy oh boy! I’ll never buy it again! New experiences give me the opportunity to learn more about the world and therefore I have more to write about. My lovely husband on the other hand probably thinks I have a fetish for cheese. I’ve done the cheese thing before and because of it I not only enjoy muenster, mozzerella, Provolone, or smoked Cheddar, but now I can include Haverty, smoked Gouda, Swiss, and Queso Fresco among others to my list of favorites. Ha ha! Anyhow, here are some cheese rules, grammatical in nature. Note I’m practicing numero uno on this list. I think I got it right, but if I didn’t, do correct me.

Notepads (whether on your phone, computer or the good old fashioned kind). I don’t really need to say too much about this one. I think it’s safe to say that if you don’t have one with you 24/7, something is clearly VERY WRONG with you. Am I right? Yeah, I’m right.

Idea box. Yup, I’ve got one. If it weren’t for this box, I wouldn’t be a writer. I might as well gift wrap it. It’s chock full of….well if I told you the exactness of its contents before the book(s) came out I wouldn’t be here to tell you that ideas are priceless–highway money–and they make the stars bow down to me. Okay maybe the stars don’t bow down, but they sure do sparkle for me. 😉 Well, at least when it’s not a cloudy night. 🙂

Being anal about the typos: in the chat room, in my e-mails, in my status updates, in my tweets, or even over the phone while texting (a crisis waiting to happen which later evolves into a fine comedy over the written word—because that is the only time I can laugh about it–LATER). So naturally, even in these blog posts, I faint when I see even one little error. Forgive me if ever you see one!

So there you have it, just a few things that help me as I write.


Your turn! If it’s anything stranger than fiction, you’re right on the mark!

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C.S. Lewis– “Failures are the finger posts on the road to achievement.”

     I once said that I adore failure because it spurs me on. It truly does. I decided long ago that when I got on the writing trail I was going to frame every rejection I got so that when I look upon them, I’m reminded of how far I’ve come on the journey. Each form rejection or piece of advice would take me one step closer to publication. Lately though, I feel stuck. I’m considering all that it takes–the darned effort. Sometimes I feel quite like an orange, one that is being squeezed beyond its last drop of juice. So by the time I look at that twentieth revision, I’m still thinking it’s not ready to be sent off to an agent or publisher, “sheer garbage” I think to myself. I’m certainly too drained to tweak it again. The balance between family and writing is wearing me thin lately. I hate when it wears me thin. It’s as if the balance of things is trying to mock me, trying to say, “You can’t do it, definitely cannot do it all.”
     Normally, I have backup ready. I have a clever activity on hand, something that makes me feel alive again–like a kid–young at heart, free and ready for anything–nothing to fear. So I cry because truly what is fear but something imagined. See, this is where things go wrong by thinking fear is imagined. Fear cripples many a writer from seeing the light, from emerging from that steep hole, from dancing upon divinity when they discover what they had been striving for all along really is possible. Then I read this and fear is suddenly squashed with one single line, “The birds have no fear”. Carpe Diem, Carpe P.M. Carpe any way you like, but keep writing! Sometimes it takes a village to raise a writer from the ground. I adore my village!

What line does it for you–the ultimate fear squashing line?

Who or whom is in your writer village? Show the love!

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Tools: Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better. Yes I Can!

When reading this I hope you have the similar reaction to that of Guy Davenport who when reading Goethe sometimes felt a “paralyzing suspicion that [Goethe was] trying to be funny.”  We can’t all be funny, and naturally, I am not. I AM NOT amusing I tell myself, and then I lie and tell myself I am because I need to believe in myself. I like to think that I am like Jarod in The Pretender–I can be anything, do anything, all while singing to the tune of “Anything you can do I can do better. Yes I can!”. Far from it I am, BUT when hijacked by ink and paper, or a keyboard and shiny computer screen–and chocolate, don’t forget the chocolate–I actually can go anywhere, do anything…and do it better. At least in my head, pixie dust aside. Wait! Let me just warn you I am wrong, partly. The answer…you see, its…it takes more than…

It’s around here somewhere…

Maybe under this manuscript…


Between and betwixt Tink and Wendy? Oh yes, no one wants to know what is between those two…its obvious, besides…Oh gosh, get your mind out of the gutter! Jealousy, always jealousy–that green giant. You’re just jealous of Goethe now are you?

Ah! YES! Here it is…

Goethe has beat me to the answer by many years:

“What you don’t feel, you will not grasp by art, 
Unless it wells out of your soul
And with sheer pleasure takes control,
Compelling every listener’s heart.
But sit – and sit, and patch and knead,
Cook a ragout, reheat your hashes,
Blow at the sparks and try to breed
A fire out of piles of ashes!
Children and apes may think it great,
If that should titillate your gum,
But from heart to heart you will never create.
If from your heart it does not come.” 

From the HEART!

Be a heart thumper!  *heart beats faster than a speeding bullet* Superman is not happy about it.

I think I can do anything better, with a heart. Yes I can! The Tin Man would be proud.

All this raving and ranting because I entered the Cheerios Spoonful of Stories Contest. We as Authors can hope right, and if we don’t always win, we still have our hearts right? Ha ha! Brilliance at last.

*fist pump*


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Tools to Tinker Alone Today

There is a swap today. Workshop today. Tools tomorrow. So many of you may already know about the  wonderful TH. Mafi. Did I mention she is a fantastic (hilarious too) YA author who is hosting a contest on her blog–it blew my mind. So today I am working on it again. It has been fun thus far. So with enjoyment in mind, I’m leaving the tools to tinker themselves today and I’ll tackle them tomorrow.

Also check out the new group at Absolute Write : Picture Book Authors/Writers

A Pen In Neverland
Angela Peña Dahle


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Tinker with Tools Tuesday

Ever wanted  your writing experience to feel zen, and calm? Here is a list of programs that just might help. Sometimes the best tool we can have is distraction free writing!

Q10 for PC and Windows
WriterRoom for MAC Users

So far I’m liking the OMMWriter but it is only for MAC users. I hope they modify it for PC/Windows users soon! I can wait, but hopefully it won’t be too long a wait. 

Find all the distractions below:

“By prevailing over all obstacles and distractions, one may unfailingly arrive at his chosen goal or destiation. ”
–Christopher Columbus


“At painful times, when composition is impossible and reading is not enough, grammars and dictionaries are excellent for distraction.”
–Elizabeth Barrett Browning


“Work is hard. Distractions are plentiful. And time is short.”
–Adam Hochschild


Hutchinsons Law:
“Any occurrence requiring undivided attention will be accompanied by a compelling distraction.”
–Robert Bloch


What is your solution for distraction?


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Tinker with Tools Tuesday

“He who writes, and makes it pay,
Will live to write another day. “–A paraphrase of the well-known couplet, “He who fights and runs away / Will live to fight another day.”

How’s a writer to live?

Write to eat.
Eat to write
Write to live.
Live to write.

Simple huh?

Not so much. Thank goodness my DH has one fantastic job and I get to stay home with the minnow and monkey and write about all the things they love! Did I mention I love most of what they love? Truly I do. 

If this is not your predicament and you find yourself struggling like a stubborn mule, feel free to vent today. Comment away if all is not well in Neverland. I find the best tool before beginning anew again is, taking the time to reflect and breathe right along the lines of “I’m horribly screwed.” and “This line could work right?” only don’t take forever dwelling on could, should, or would–it is the dark room where negatives are developed.  

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Tinker with Tools Tuesday

When all else fails me  in writing I usually do something silly like watch Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium or  maybe I’ll get down into the nit and grit of kid life and laugh at the silly things my kids do. Maybe I’ll even jump on some bubble wrap. That always helps. Here are a few things to read after all the silly is out of your system and there is still hope:

On Writing by Stephen King
Pocket Keys for Writers -Ann Raimes
Elements of style -E.B. White
The Art of Fiction-John Gardner
Zen in the Art of Writing-Ray Bradbury
Self Editing for Fiction Writers-Rennie Browne, Dave King
On Becoming a Novelist-John Gardner
Politics and the English Language-George Orwell
Bird by Bird-Anne Lamont
Putting Your Passion Into Print-Arielle Eckstut, David Sterry

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Tinker With Tools Tuesday

The perfect word for the week condisering Easter is upon us:

Hagiology (n)

“Hint: Hagiology has more in common with with myths and magic than superannuated sylphs or testy troglodytes. To be more specific, it is literature that narrates the lives and legends of saints and venerated holy people or, ephemeral events of a supernatural nature.”–– weird words

Although, some may consider the Christian belief that Christ was resurrected on the third day after his crucifiction to be similar to the supernatural and impossible, me and my family know it truly happened. It is a part of our faith and testimony and not part of a hagiology.

Hagiology- Noun
1. literature narrating the lives (and legends) of the saints
literary composition, literary work – imaginative or creative writing
legend, fable – a story about mythical or supernatural beings or events

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Tinker With Tools Tuesday

I am absolutely sorry that I have been away. It has actually been eating at my mind. Lines like these have been filling the corridors of my mind, “You may only have three readers, but that’s no excuse.Chop, chop! Get to it. Post away. How could you start a blog and then abandon it? What a waste of space in the blogosphere! Horrible misfit of a blogger!”
Yes, that has been the condition of my bemused mind while I hobbled quietly away from grand tinkerdom thinking I could never accomplish such a wonderful blog. NO MORE! Well at least not on Tinker With Tools Tuesday! So here we arrive.

My birthday was far from uneventful. Despite tummy turbulence that day–I declare something was certainly sloshing about in there–we ventured out. I kid you not! I shall mention, I followed two children along a basketball court that day as they frolicked about the court running this way and that with pure blissful abandon, not a thought in their minds (I’m sure of it) but, “how far can we make mommy run today.” It was sheer heaps of fun. We rushed home for a little nap and then on to the movie theatre for a 3D movie, gigantic bug-sized glasses and all, to see Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland–what a wonderful movie, pure imagination.

I know, I’m stalling with the word of the day here but it will all be worth it. I promise. So anyhoo, afterwards as soon as it was all over and Alice had declared her “6 impossible things before breakfast” speech. I turned to my most wonderful husband beaming with love for the movie.
“Tim Burton sure knows how to spin things wonderfully doesn’t he?”
“Yeah, that’s because he’s crazy.” says said spouse.
“No, no, he’s a bit eccentric and wonderfully beyond creative.” If ever there were a word for that, I’d jump for joy. There would be glee in my eyes. Glee.
My husband then continued explaining that in the movie is a scene with Alice and her father. Alice asks, “Am I crazy.” and her father replies “Yes, you may be. But all the good ones are.” Isn’t that so? I love that line! Don’t you? So my point is as clear as the kings (yes, of hearts) response in his own crazy court.”So [when you are one of a kind and]the words don’t fit you” simply reply as the queen always does:”off with his/her head!” Of course I’m kidding, maybe we’ll only awknowledge or refer to you as the wonderful word of the day:(sung to the tune of the cartoon show “We’re Animaniacs”)

Yes, were bizarre, and unusual
aberrant, and abnormal. Anomalous, beat*, bent*, and bizarre.
Were eccentric. We’re animaniacs. Were fun and full of zany weird far out facts. We like to create wondor and pretend to be capricious, characteristic, and cockeyed. Don’t let us fool you we crazy, curious, droll, erratic, far out, flaky, and possibly a freakish freak. Absolutely funky*, and definately funny. Now if you want a few more words here is the end of that: idiosyncratic, irregular, kooky, nutty, odd, oddball, off the wall, off-center, offbeat, out in left field, outlandish, peculiar, quaint, queer, quirky, quizzical, singular, strange, uncommon, unconventional, unnatural, way out, weird, whimsical, wild. We’re ANIMANIACS!

It’s a win win kinda thing, but if you are not happy with any of those, writer, we will simply think of you as they do in Alice in Wonderland: one of Alice’s many many “impossible things before breakfast”.

I naturally take a bow and exit to the left.

“Then the words don’t fit you” said the king

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