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The Rich Writer

The Rich Writer: September 2009

The Rich Writer

How to Thrive on the Writer's Road

Friday, September 25, 2009

Where is Cheryl?

maskl Cheryl has developed a sudden, urgent need to do research on her local medical facilities. For instance:

Cheryl: (in line at doctor’s office) Weird—I can hardly see wearing this mask . (Looks up, looks down. Looks up, looks down. Looks up—)

Receptionist: You can pinch the top of your mask around your nose. Then it won’t cover your eyes.

Cheryl: Oh. Thanks. (Pinches mask and starts to walk away.)

Receptionist: Ms. Reifsnyder? You still need to sign this?

Cheryl: Sorry. (Signs and starts to walk away.)

Receptionist: Ms. Reifsnyder—your check-in papers?

Cheryl: Oh. Sorry. (Gets papers and tries to cough while wearing mask. Mask sucks into mouth.)

Receptionist: You can go now.

Cheryl: (Walking upstairs to waiting room) Wow, (breath) I can’t take a deep breath in this thing. Just (breath) lots of (breath) short (breath) small (breath) breaths (breath). Cool (breath) it makes (breath) my mask (breath) flap (breath) in and (breath) out.

Nurse: Excuse me. Ma’am? Long, deep breaths please. You’re going to get dizzy.

***So—I’m taking lots and lots of notes on the sensations of mask-wearing, back-thumping, dizziness, and other illness-related details which I’m sure will prove very, very useful in my writing someday soon.

…just as soon as I feel well enough to write something that makes sense!

:-) Cheryl

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Last Week’s Tweets: How to dodge subconscious blocks, inspire creativity, and WTS (Write The Story!)

Ease your subconscious into WTS, #6: “Sketch” scene in note form on the left-hand notebook page—less intimidating than real writing.

Ease your subconscious into WTS, #7: Step back into research. Spend time on Flickr or Google searching for images that inspire.

Ease your subconscious into WTS, #8: Step back into research. Read news articles or blogs from the place your story is set.

If you’re interested, come join me at @CherylRWrites for near-daily Tweets to help you thrive on the writer’s road.

:) Cheryl

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Building a Platform a la Christina Katz

GetKnownWebsite2008_000 I finally got around to reading Christina Katz’s latest offering, Get Known Before the Book Deal: Use Your Personal Strengths To Grow An Author Platform…and yep, it’s just as good as her last book, which I discuss here.

It answers some of my long-standing questions about platform, such as:

  1. What the heck is platform, exactly? In practical terms.
  2. What does platform mean for a fiction writer—and is it still important?
  3. If I write for kids, does it make sense to build a platform that’s read primarily by other adults? And not just adults—adult writers.

For the answers, you have to read the book for yourself.

Although much of this book is targeted for writers of nonfiction, this book is also a great resource for the fiction writer. It discusses how to identify your niche as a writer; how to identify your audience; and, most important, how to get yourself in gear and start building a platform that works for you.

This is the kind of book to buy and put on your shelf for reference. Full of practical advice and questions (yes, you have to do some work to get the most out of this book), Get Known takes you from platform novice to platform savvy in a fun, fast-paced read.

:) Cheryl

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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Tricky Transitions

Does anyone else find that transitions are the trickiest part of the book to write? As I plug along through the first draft of my new yet-to-be-named YA fantasy, I find that I can whiz through writing a scene—that’s the easy part. The hard part is getting to the next scene.

For inspiration, I do what I always do: pull out a few great books and take a look at how other authors accomplish the dreaded transition. I thought I’d share my findings…rage

In Rage, by Julie Anne Peters, I found a number of scenes that start in the middle of the action. For instance:

p. 59: Robbie bounds into the room a few seconds after me. Doesn’t say hi or hello or no or “cooperate with Johanna.”

p. 106: “Johanna, there you are.” Tessa sits up in one of the lawn chairs out back, crocheting a square of pink and purple yarn.

shield of starsIn Shield of Stars, author Hilari Bell sometimes begins a scene with a summary of the time that passed since the end of the previous scene:

p. 101: Setting a brisk pace, they managed to reach the small village of Sweetsprings just after dark.

p. 122: It took them a day and a half to reach Coverton.

factoflife In Fact of Life #31, Denise Vega provides examples of beginning with a quick sentence to set the scene (which is kind of like Hilari’s “time passes” transitions, above.

p. 213: About a week after the New Year’s Eve Horror, I was dusting the Babies on Parade wall when the door banged open. My eyes nearly popped out of their sockets.

p. 218: Abby had tried to get in touch with Libby.

…So what good does this do me? Well, now I have a few “types” of transition to try. Also, these books all reminded me why my current transition attempts aren’t working: a good transition is short, moving quite rapidly to the scene. Currently, my transition is long, filling in the reader with lots of little details that can come out elsewhere.

I’m back to the book-writing now. I’ll let you know how it goes!

:) Cheryl


Monday, September 7, 2009

Why You Should Write for Magazines, from The Magnificent Intern

First: if you don’t read The Intern’s blog, you should. It’s hilarious plus full of industry info with an…interesting slant.

Second: if you don’t think you should write for magazines while honing that epic novel of yours (or your 50th picture book or whatever…) read this post.

That is all.

:) Cheryl

Friday, September 4, 2009

Letting the Right Brain Speak


Yesterday, I indulged in two of my favorite activities: I spent time with a few writer friends and, simultaneously, created a collage for my new novel. It’s the perfect combination. The friends keep my analytical left brain occupied with conversation, while my right brain can select images, words, faces that speak to me about the story.

The result is shown above.

Did it reveal anything to me? Oh, yes. Not in concrete words, but in my character’s emotions and voice, which have been the most difficult for me to capture. Since I think character emotions and voice are the most critical part of any story, that was kind of a problem!

Now I’m off to see if I can translate the gut-level inspiration provided by the collage onto the page….

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Wednesday, September 2, 2009


In my last post, I discussed whether the “Call to Action” had to appear in chapter 1 of a book—and decided, in short, not necessarily. However, that’s not to say that the opening isn’t important. It’s crucially important. It’s just that, sometimes, I think that presenting the characters and their situation (the “real world” for those fans of The Writer’s Journey—an excellent craft book) may be more important than diving straight into action.

So what’s this mean for my book?

It means that I have to decide what my book is about. Is it a straight-up adventure about solving a series of mysterious disappearances? Is it primarily a magical encounter, where the main character is learning about this strange underwater world surrounding the San Juan Islands?

Or is it primarily the story of a girl troubled by the past, trying to discover who she is?

I think I have a call to action in my opening chapter now. It’s not the sort I expected when I was brainstorming ideas with my critique group. But it’s the sort that fits with the story, or with what the story wants to be.

And of course, I would never have gotten there without my group :).