Category Archives: Writing Challenge

New FREE Writing Newsletter

newsletter header

This year I am starting up a monthly writing newsletter. It is completely FREE and sent to your email once a month.

Each month the newsletter will include:

  • Writing tips.
  • Helpful writing links.
  • Book recommendations (good writers are also voracious readers!)
  • A writing challenge.
  • And bonus bits, eg: sneak peeks for my stories or special giveaways.

How to subscribe:

Simply look the the right hand side of your screen and right underneath the search box you will see ‘FREE NEWSLETTER’. All you have to do is click ‘I want to subscribe!’ and enter your email. You can also sign up through my Facebook page HERE.

The very first issue will be sent out later today!

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Why Picture Book Writers Should Join 12 x 12

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In 2012 I joined the first ever 12 x 12 challenge. The premise was simple: write 12 picture book drafts in 12 months. Since then 12 x 12 has grown and developed into more than just a challenge. It has become an important community and opportunity for picture book writers. I would HIGHLY recommend any aspiring picture book writer to join.

Why? These are my top reasons for recommending picture book writers join 12 x 12:

  1. You will learn so much about writing picture books and the kidlit industry. Seriously. As well as being involved in a community of other kidlit writers, some of whom are already published or who are extremely knowledgeable about picture books, you will also have the opportunity to learn from industry professionals.
  2. Community. If you ask any member of 12 x 12 what they love most about 12 x 12 they will most likely tell you ‘the community’. As I said above, there is a plethora of knowledge about picture book writing that fellow 12 x 12ers are willing to share. There is a genuine desire to help each other succeed. Between the Facebook group (where you can ask for advice, share resources and celebrate successes) and the forum (where you can get your picture book MS or query letter critiqued, learn more about the kidlit industry or connect with fellow writers) you will find a generous, kind-spirited community to share your writing journey and help you grow as a PB writer.
  3. It’s like a PB writing conference that lasts all year!  There are monthly webinars that are available exclusively to members. These webinars involve industry professionals, such as editors, agents, published authors and more. There are opportunities for professional critiques, as well as a plethora of other opportunities that would otherwise be unavailable to you.
  4. Opportunity to submit to agents. For those who join at Gold level, you have the opportunity every month to submit to a literary agent who might otherwise be closed to unsolicited queries. Sometimes these agents even reply with feedback.

It is honestly the best writing community I have ever been involved in. You will learn so much, develop connections and be presented with opportunities unavailable elsewhere. I really can’t recommend it enough to fellow picture book writers.

You can find more information HERE.

If the membership fee is a bit off-putting, apparently you can do a 6-month payment plan through Paypal. Honestly, it is completely worth it. I promise.

12 x 12 is currently open to join for this year. You have until 29th February 2016 before registration closes for the year. Feel free to say I referred you 🙂

No ‘E’ Challenge Share Day

aprilchallenge

Ready to share your paragraphs from the challenge? It was a tough one this round.

Here’s a reminder of the challenge: No ‘E’ Challenge

If you’re just joining us, it’s not too late to jump in and have a go!

Be sure to check closely for those pesky Es. I had a few sneak into mine and I had to revise!

I chose the frog picture for my prompt:

A tiny frog sits on my hand. “Croaaaak!” it says. It hops off my hand and into a patch of grass, looking for a tasty snack of fruit fly fairy floss or mosquito muffins. It spots its lunch: a tasty bug with black and brown spots. Hop. Hop. Stop. Hop. Hop. Caught! My child’s hand wraps around its slimy body. A lucky black and brown bug is not a tasty snack this morning. A tiny frog is still hungry. “Don’t worry, froggy,” says my child. “I’ll find you a yummy biscuit from Mum’s pantry.”

Please feel free to share your paragraphs in the comments below. If you don’t want to share, tell us about how you found the challenge. Was it challenging writing a paragraph with no Es?

The No ‘E’ Challenge

aprilchallenge

Ready for another challenge? This challenge is to get you thinking about word choice and not relying on words you are used to using. It’s about stepping outside your comfort zone and finding new words to enhance your writing.

Here are the rules:

  1. Write a paragraph (or two) based on one of the word prompts or the picture prompt below.
  2. You may not use the letter ‘e’ in any word in your paragraph.
  3. If you are comfortable sharing, come back in 2 weeks and share in the comments of the ‘share day’ post (if you subscribe to this blog–it’s free!–you will know as soon as the post goes live).

Here are the word prompts:

 

Beach

 

School

 

Spring

 

And here is the picture prompt:

DSCF5716

 

Good luck!

 

Show, Don’t Tell Challenge Share Day

januarychallenge

How did you go with the challenge this month?

As a reminder of what this month’s challenge entailed, or for those who are coming in late and still want to have a go, this was the challenge:

Show, Don’t Tell Challenge

1. Below I will list three ‘telling’ sentences and a photo.

2. Your challenge is to pick one of the sentences or the photo and write a descriptive paragraph or flash fiction (no more than 300 words).

3. You must not use the ‘banned’ word in your piece.

4. You must use each of the five senses.

5. You have two weeks to complete the challenge. In two weeks I will share my challenge piece and invite you to share yours in the comments.

Here are the sentences (and you are more than welcome to do more than one if you want!):

1. I was scared. (banned word = SCARED)

2. The boy ate an apple. (banned word = APPLE)

3. It’s a great party. (banned word = PARTY)

And here’s the photo:

kitten

(banned word = KITTEN or CAT)

Please share your piece in the comments below!

I picked the kitten picture for my piece. Here it is:

An orange ball of fur curled up among long tendrils of grass. Small and scared, it huddles, making tiny mews. I stroke its soft fur–like stroking a cloud–and pick it up with a gentle touch. His whiskers tickle my cheek. His breath is milky and sweet, reminding me of milkshakes at the little cafe by the lake. Blue eyes blink up at me. He searches my face, “Are you my mummy?”

The next challenge will go up in the first week of February.

What Does ‘Show, Don’t Tell’ Mean?

show dont tell

The writing challenge this month is all about ‘Show, Don’t Tell’, but what does it mean and how can you apply it to your writing?

Showing is all about creating visual imagery for your reader and making them feel as though they are there and connected with your main character. You can tell your reader a character has dark hair and pale skin, but how does your main character view this person? Connect your reader to you character’s mind by showing what they see and feel. Eg: A character who is attracted to these qualities might say, “Dark ebony hair framed her porcelain skin and her red lips were shaped like a cupid’s bow. It was like Snow White had stepped right out of her fairy tale.” A character who doesn’t find those features attractive may describe her in a different light, eg: “Her coal-coloured hair made her bloodless face appear whiter in contrast as though she were one of the undead. The only colour on her face was on her lips, which were caked in red lipstick in the manner of a lady of the night.”

Showing vs. Telling

Here are some more examples of the difference between telling and showing.

Telling: It was a hot day.

Showing: The sun blazed in the sky. Sweat ran down my forehead. The jingle of the ice-cream cart’s bell called to me.

Telling: A tall man.

Showing: The man’s head brushed the top of the door frame as he walked through. I craned my neck to look up at his face.

Further Reading

For a more in-depth look at showing vs. telling and further examples, you can check out these previous posts I have written on the topic.

My Best Advice for Other Aspiring Writers 

This post discusses:

–          Using the five senses.

–          Eliminating ‘was’.

–          Interweaving description into your story.

Show, Don’t Tell 

This post gives a more in-depth explanation of ‘Show, Don’t Tell’ with an example ‘showing’ paragraph like the one I want you to attempt for this month’s challenge.

Keep your eye out for the challenge sharing post at the end of this week. If you’re not subscribed, you can sign up for free (top left-hand side of blog) and you will get an email notification when the post goes live.

Show, Don’t Tell Challenge

januarychallenge

This year I’m featuring a monthly writing challenge on the blog. As ‘show, don’t tell’ is one of my writing mantras and is a topic I’ve covered many times on my blog, I thought it only fitting for it to make up my first challenge.

Here’s how the challenge will work:

1. Below I will list three ‘telling’ sentences and a photo.

2. Your challenge is to pick one of the sentences or the photo and write a descriptive paragraph or flash fiction (no more than 300 words).

3. You must not use the ‘banned’ word in your piece.

4. You must use each of the five senses.

5. You have two weeks to complete the challenge. In two weeks I will share my challenge piece and invite you to share yours in the comments.

Here are the sentences (and you are more than welcome to do more than one if you want!):

1. I was scared. (banned word = SCARED)

2. The boy ate an apple. (banned word = APPLE)

3. It’s a great party. (banned word = PARTY)

And here’s the photo:

kitten

(banned word = KITTEN or CAT)

This is meant to be for fun and to challenge ourselves as writers. I can’t wait to see what others come up with.