Sometime last year I stumbled upon The Skimm: An informative email delivered to my inbox every morning that covered everything from politics to sports and everything in between. I loved it.
First off, as a mom, my article-reading time has diminished greatly. Mornings that used to be spent perusing my local newspaper are now spent chasing three beautiful girls. Breakfasts, lunch boxes, pig-tails, teeth checks. I drink my coffee cold, brewed an hour early. I don't have time for news.
Then there's my writing. A couple years ago, I started to take my hobby seriously. I wrote a book, edited a book, and started querying agents. It's why I have this blog. To chronicle the process and highlight twitter pitch contests. Needless to say, it's tireless. Between the three kids, the two dogs, and a husband with a schedule all his own; keeping up to date on current events is a challenge.
If it didn't involve Daniel Tiger, organic kid-friendly snacks, and researching the effects of dual-language charter programs I probably wouldn't have time to read it.
So I got the Skimm. I loved being informed again. Having something to say when my friends brought up current events. I even had sources and links to bipartisan news sources in my email so I could contribute to REAL adult conversation!
It was life changing.
So, I shared it with everyone I knew. Then I got this weird little email telling me that I was now considered a "Skimmbassador." It meant I got a Skimm tote and access to a group of like minded women (and a few men).
Those women and men (there are almost 9,000 now) have changed my life. With the dynamic of our country changing, so has the group in certain ways, but the best parts have stayed the same. The desire to stay informed and support one another in group endeavors. I have watched families grown, women start organizations and non-profits, I've even helped with a few wedding hashtags.
Then a few months back, I saw an article posted about the need for tampons in homeless shelters. One girl started a drive in her area. I was inspired! Why didn't people think about tampons and women's sanitary needs as priorities?
For those of you who don't know I live in Anchorage, AK. The winters here are rough, and unfortunately we have a large homeless community. I couldn't imagine going without this basic necessity. I started a drive called "28 Days" to raise awareness, money, and women's sanitary items to support two local women's shelters. AWAIC and New Hope.
The Skimmbassador program helped me realize a cause that needed support, and my Skimmbassador sisters and brothers helped me pave a path to do it. Thank you so much!
If you are in the Anchorage area and would like to help/donate a box of tampons, please consider joining my Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1862971947276084/
If you would like to donate financially, please consider visiting my Gofundme page:
Lastly and most importantly, if you are interested in getting the Skimm sent to your inbox every day, follow this magical little link and sign up:
I'm going to start this blog off the right way by saying I am not a published author.
I'm not even an agented writer.
That being said, I write. I write a lot. It keeps me sane. Just last week my friend asked me how I write at night after my kids go to sleep. The answer is easy: I have to. Writing is one of those things you make time for at first, but soon you're itching to get to your computer to touch a self-imposed goal.
I'm on my third book, and after one big bust and one fully edited slight-miss, I feel like I've learned a thing or two. Things I want to share with people who are starting out. Things I wish I knew and/or resources I wish I had at the beginning. Shall we?
THE BEAT SHEET
So the very first thing I ask people when they talk about plot and movement issues are Beat Sheets. I'm almost always met with a "Uh, Dante, what is that?"
It's your best friend, that's what it is, you crazy pantser!
If you haven't heard the term "pantser," it applies to writers that don't pre-plot their stores. I'm what we call a "plotter" and I'm proud of it! Beat Sheets are my first step in writing, because it allows me to know what stuff has to happen.
My favorite Beat Sheet is the Master Beat Sheet from Jami Gold's website. It's free, and you can download it here: http://jamigold.com/for-writers/worksheets-for-writers/
If you're looking for any plotting worksheets- this is your spot. It's got everything from Character Sheets, to Beat Sheets, Settings, and more!
THE DETAILED OUTLINE
This one may just be a personal preference, but after I plot it out on the Beat Sheet, then transfer to my writing program of choice, I write a detailed (and I mean detailed) outline. Basically, I bullet point each incident from the beat sheet with particular details so I don't forget what needs to happen where. This is where I weave layers of character development, highlight plot holes, and make sure all the lines connect.
Again, this one is a personal thing, and there are a ton of great pantsers out there. I'm just not one of them. I look at it this way, the more I know along the way, the less I have to think later. Then I'm just filling in the blanks with prose.
Every writer needs a "home base" and Scrivener is probably one of the more popular ones. With good reason, too, because Scrivener is like magic for writers. It's a place where you can write, organize your writing, file things away, research, and it saves everything too so it's less stress for you!
You can buy it here, but if you're a Nanowrimo winner, I believe there is a discount code: https://www.writersstore.com/scrivener/
THE THESAURUS YOU NEVER KNEW EXISTED
Okay, this is morel like a SET of them.
The Emotion Thesaurus and all of it's counterparts and companions are worth their weight in gold. When writing a scene you aren't super familiar with (maybe you live in the city, and it takes place in NYC) these books help you pinpoint all those little details that make writing beautiful. I'll tell you, my little details got so much better after purchasing this book, as well as the ones on setting.
I keep them on my Kindle, which I think is awesome because I can skip to the emotion or setting I'm looking for with minimal effort.
You can find these books here: https://www.amazon.com/Emotion-Thesaurus-Writers-Character-Expression/dp/1475004958
A FANTASTIC BOOK ON EDITS
So you did the outline, you filled it in with detailed prose! Now what?
Now you edit.
Then you edit some more.
Then you have someone read it.
Editing is 90% of writing. It's taking a pile of thoughts and making it conveyable information. I've read a few books on editing but none have helped me the way that Editor-Proof Your Writing: 21 Steps to the Clear Prose Publishers and Agents Crave has.
You want clear, concise prose? You need this book. It'll help you learn what to avoid, what you need, and even goes into some detail on publishing.
I seriously suggest this book to every writer I know because it was probably the book I got that surprised me the most. I expected it to be common knowledge content, but the way it was presented was both light-hearted and funny, but incredibly informative.
Here's the amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/Editor-Proof-Your-Writing-Publishers-Writers/dp/1610351789/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1485999138&sr=8-1&keywords=editor+proof
Everyone has a method to their madness, but this is just a peek into mine. What are your favorite writing resources? Please share in the comments below!