Monday, August 26, 2013

5 Must-Have Reasons to Brainstorm

         Have you ever tried to dance without lessons? Could you sing without words? Or play a mandolin without first studying and learning the basic rules? Of course not. The same thing is true with writing, there are basic tricks to follow that will make drafting your story faster and your editing time cut in half. What are those rules, you say? I’m getting to that. Let’s begin by agreeing that brainstorming is a great way to gather a ton of basic knowledge of about any subject you may wish to write about.

        If you aren’t familiar with brainstorming, just grab a paper and pencil, jot down any subject matter that you might find interesting in the center. Then without too much thought, write every word and any word that comes to mind. When I tried this, I had a page filled with words. I wasn’t sure what to do next, that’s when I begin catagorizing the words to get a better idea of which way to take my story (I hadn’t fully formed a story idea yet.) I then examined my words and saw that I had a lot of descriptions for my topic AND the descriptions gave me a great idea for a new story which I would research later to make sure the topic was new and not just something that had been written to death (but that’s another story for later.) I immediately pulled out another sheet of paper and jotted down my plot thoughts as well as I could (I would reorganize them later in a more consistent manner.) The main point here is to get them on paper. Ha. Now the easy part is done you say? Naaa.

            Next, on a separate sheet of paper, I organize my plot into logical sequences. This is just to get me started with the first draft, I change my outline as I go along, adjusting it to fit the story. Hey, don’t be surprised when your story takes a side-road. Sometimes characters have minds of their own, and this is good, because they usually take you on an adventure you might have never experienced. And these side turns (twists), often make far better stories.

           So there you have it, the reason I brainstorm. Many writers they have the story outlined in their mind and go from there (we like to call them pantsters, and that’s fine), but I’ve discovered from experience that I need a map of sorts to keep my plot running smoothly and to make certain that all my story elements are in place before I begin, that’s where the outline comes in (we’ll discuss the best reasons to outline later.)

        As a published children’s author and poet, I’m constantly on the lookout for new authoring tips from other published writers, editors and agents in my field, for the same reason I listen to new songs and practice new techniques on my guitar. I want to improve myself. A few places you can look for tips and tricks of the writing profession are on the blogs of other writers. At the bottom of this page, you’ll find a few of my favorite blogs for gathering such information. And you’ll find a world of ideas when you start researching regularly.

       Don’t forget:

·         Desire to Write

·         BIC

·         Paper & Pencil

·         Focus on One Topic

·         Write Like Mad

That’s It! Ready Set Go!

As always, I wish you the best with your writing and hope this post will be of help to someone. Do you have any tips you would like to share?

I would love to hear from you or answer your writing questions in the comment section belowJ



As Promised, My Personal Fabulous Go To List:



C.S. Frye (Cali)  (TurtleCreekTales)


Sunday, August 11, 2013

Two Winners--Ribbit!

     Ribbit! Croak! Squee!

     The Blog Hop officially ended last night.

     Thanks everyone, for visiting my blog and for leaving comments. I know writers have limited time—it’s hard to read, make contacts and write too. I really appreciate all those who joined in the fun to make my Blog Hop a success. Thanks friends!

       It has been a very busy week, a real challenge to juggle everything. I spent a lot of time keeping my blog current, turning the Blog Hop into a contest and also using the event to market my picture book Bad Dragonflies. I love a good challenge!

       This has been a new experience, and one that I plan to build upon by offering more freebies and featuring other contest from time to time. I don’t know about you, but I think it was loads of fun, and I had a fabulous time! What I enjoyed most was meeting other authors and making new friends.  I like to think of events like this one as new opportunities for writers to help other writers and make friends on the way!

      What happened to the contest, you say? I’m getting to that now, if I can awaken GusJ

       Okay, poor Gus hopped off his lily pad and into the pond just long enough to draw two names from the murky waters. So, we have two winners! Although, the names are a little wet and smeared. I can’t make the names out. Here Gus, take a look, your eyes are much bigger than mine! “Croak.” He really hates having to work, it tuckers him out.

         Gus says the winners are:

·        Pat (Sorry, I need your email or full name)

·        Leandra Wallace (I have yours, thanks)

           The first winner to contact me has the choice of prizes. csdfrye at frontier dot com.

           And, if you choose the free picture book critique, be sure to send your manuscript in 48 hours or the prize will be void.

            The prizes will be sent by next weekend.

            Please don’t forget to look inside Bad Dragonflies the next time you visit Amazon.

            Thanks so much for joining me! SueJ

Saturday, August 3, 2013

6 Hours Left on 3 Questions and a Freebie


Put your right foot forward
Put your left foot out
Do the Blog Hop
Hop, hop, hop!

Hop, hop, hop! This is how I write – one step at a timeJ

Hey, writing peeps! Imagine my excitement, when I was invited to Blog-Hop. I was ecstatic! I loved the idea of rubbing elbows with several of my super fun and prolific writing buds! A big shout-out to Christine Irvin! Thank so much for inviing me!

After the excitement subsided, things got a little hectic. I begin putting this post together and  thought I would croak! Imagine my relief when Gus jumped in! He is the main character in my picture book, Bad Dragonflies. And he was just the frog I needed to make my words leap off the page! Don't be confused about the authors name on the book cover, Cali Davidson is my pen name. 

I had nine questions to choose from, so I allowed Gus to pick three of them for me to answer, which was easy, because he always jumps at any chance to help out. Here are the three questions he chose:

·        What are you working on?

This year has been a very productive time for my writing, thanks to several writing groups that I joined. Tara Lazar’s PiBoIdMo gave me the challenge I needed to whip-out over thirty picture book ideas in a month. Julie Hedlund’s 12x12 challenge made the resources available to perfect and edit my books. Mira Reisberg’s Picture Book Academy showed me how to my characters to life. And Kristen Fulton’s group WOW introduced me to the world of non-fiction which I’ve learned to love! Since I joined WOW, I’ve written seven new picture books, and I have others in the works. Check-out the websites of the fabulous authors I mentioned above and consider joining a group. It’s a wonderful way to meet new people and improve your writing. Thanks everyone!

I’m currently working on four picture books: two fiction and two historical non-fictions, a chapter book and an historical middle grade. Writing non-fiction seems odd considering up until now, I’ve written mostly fantasy and poetry. Speaking of picture books, Gus just reminded me, I forgot to mention my first picture book, Bad Dragonflies which was published by Swimming Kangaroo Books.

·        How does your writing progress work?

Some writers call themselves pantsters – stories come easy for them, almost magically. Other people use maps, lists and graphs to get their story on paper and make sure the structure, plot and main characters are perfect. Me, I’m a little of both.

I get story ideas from names, titles, pictures and music. I’ve learned over time that if I want to make my writing sparkle, it’s best that I make use of maps, lists, graphs and whatever else is available. After all, as a writer I never stop learning. I never think my work is perfect. But, if put my heart into my writing, I can relax knowing I’ve tried my best. And I think all that’s all that matters – that we do our best.

After I get my story on paper, I run my manuscript through a text editor, and I revise. Then I get the opinions of my critique partners, and I revise. Ditto, ditto, ditto, a few more critiques, and I revise each time. I do at least five revisions, and then I submit. By this time, if I’m lucky, I’ve already gotten a new idea for another book. This new book is very important – it’s going to keep me from going whack-o! This is the book I’ll work on waiting to hear back from my submission.

·        Who are the authors you most admire?

I grew up fascinated by the tales of Hans Christian Andersen, and now, I admire too many authors to list, but I won’t let that stop me!

I’ve read Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland several times, and it still intrigues me. Mo Willem’s Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus knocks my socks off – oh to write with so few words!

Jane Yolen has written over 300 phenomenal books including Owl Moon and Briar Rose, her lyrical style flows as smooth as a mountain stream.

I adore Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are. I love the characters and the world, this book will never be forgotten.

Honorable mention: C.S. Lewis rocks! The Chronicles of Narnia speak to children and adults. Or, I’m just a kid at heart after all.

·        Tag, Your It:  

So this is where three more writers which I have gratefully tagged, jump into the Blog Hopping frenzy. These writers are awesome! But don’t take my word for it – check them out, and if you agree with me, leave them a friendly comment!


Meg Miller>

Jacque Duffy>

Danielle Heistmuller??>


·        A few awesome links below of recommended writer’s resources. You’ll love these websites because these authors and illustrators rock!


Susanna Hill>

Alayne Kay Christian>

Jean Reidy> A Totally Random Romp


·        And now as I promised – the Freebie: 

As a reward for everyone who reads this post and leaves a comment with their email addy saying they would like to be included in the drawing, follows me, I’ll throw your name into Gus’s pond a week from today, which will be Sunday August 10th. This is the part of the contest that Gus loves. He will dive into his pond and snag two lucky hoppers! He so enjoys searching for items in his pond!

So??? What’s that to me? you ask. Well, since this is my very first contest EVER, Gus has talked me into giving away one of his books, Bad Dragonflies, which he’s very fond of. And . . . I will critique a picture book manuscript for the other winner, just to make Gus happy. Geesh! What I won’t do for that little green frog!

I will post the two winners the night of the drawing or the following morning whichever is easier. The following week, the critique and the copy of Bad Dragonflies, each will be sent to the person who won them.  So get to croaking and hop in!


·        Here is how the whole shebang will work:

·        Sign up by entering a comment in the comment section of this blog anytime between August 4th and August 10th.

·        Comments submitted before or after August 4-10th will not be considered. Only two people will each win one of the two prizes; a copy of Bad Dragonflies or a free critique of a picture book manuscript. The first winner to reply has the choice of prizes.

Official Contest Rules:


  • Follow Me


·        Manuscripts must be fiction only and less than a 1000 words.

·        Since I'm not an editor, I will not provide line-editing. My critique will be my personal suggestions for refining your manuscript.

·        The critique winner must e-mail me his/her manuscript as a Word attachment within 48 hours of the announcement. Your manuscript will remain completely confidential. And it will be returned within a week.

·        Likes and dislikes are entirely subjective. Please understand that my critique is only one writer's opinion. It's always wise to seek feedback from a few different readers. If my ideas resonate with you, they're yours to use. But in the end, it's your book. So do stay true to your vision.

Thanks so much for participating in my part of the blog hop! Please check out the websites of the other bloggers for more writing information and don’t forget to leave each one of them a comment. Writers helping writers is what this is all about.
             P.S. Please stop by for giveaways and writing news updates and don't forget to check out Bad Dragonflies at

I’m always happy to answer any questions in the comment section below. And please don't forget follow me:)

Goodluck! Sue

Friday, August 2, 2013

One Pond at a Time

INKLINGS: One Road to a Blog Hopping Frenzy: Heard of Blog Hopping? Fun you say? Friends helping friends you say?

Yes, you've got it! It's both fun and easy with lots of help from other writing peeps. Gus is proof of that!

Oh, who is Gus? And why is he lurking on a writing website? I heave a big breath here. "Gus is only the hungriest bullfrog in the pond of plot scenarios! He's smart, he's quick, and when his tongue whips out, he never misses a bug. But, why am I introducing this hungry, green eating machine now? I have a tiny surprise perking. You'll learn all about it tomorrow.

I'm so happy I learned about blog hopping from Christine Irvin! And not wanting to be left out -- I leaped into the pond of writing peeps!

Come join in the fun! You'll have a laugh or two. And learn a thing or three!