Are You Up for a Challenge? A Writing Challenge, That Is…

As we look ahead to 2017 and to a new year of writing, I want to recommend two excellent challenges to get your creative juices flowing and your pen flying over the paper (or your fingers flying over the computer keys).

If you write picture books, author Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 challenge is designed for you. Not only does it encourage participants to write a new picture book manuscript draft every month (thus the name — 12 drafts in 12 months) but there is a lively online community (both at a members-only Forum and a members-only Facebook Group), there are monthly blog posts and exclusive-to-members webinars with writers, editors and agents.

There are two levels of membership — the Shel SILVERstein level for newcomers and for those who won’t be seeking an agent during the year, and the Little GOLDen Book level (open only to members from the previous year) which provides an opportunity to submit to one agent per month and bypass the slush pile. Here is the link to find out about the two levels, as well as to see testimonial videos from current and former participants, and learn more about 12×12.

There is a cost involved, but the cost is more than compensated for by all that the challenge offers to participants.

Registration for 12×12 begins on January 10th and is only open in January and February each year. After the end of February, you have to wait until the following year. Check it out and see if it’s for you!

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The other challenge I want to be sure you know about is the upcoming StoryStorm!

Several years ago, author Tara Lazar started a challenge called PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month) in which participants came up with a story idea each day for the month of the challenge. Until this year, the challenge took place in November, and focused on picture book ideas (hence the name, PIcture BOok IDea MOnth).

This year, Tara has broadened the challenge, and moved it to January, and will be for writers of all genres, not just picture books. So middle grade and YA novelists, get ready to join the newly named StoryStorm and enjoy not only the challenge of coming up with a plethora of new ideas, but also all the other things the challenge offers!

This challenge is FREE, and features daily blog posts from authors, illustrators, editors and agents. It is a fabulous way to learn, stretch your imagination, become part of an active, vital writing community, and get ready to start the new year WRITE!

Follow Tara’s blog for more details as they are released, about how to register, etc., and be sure to follow all the posts in January — even if you don’t “win” the challenge by coming up with an idea every day you will benefit greatly just from reading the posts.

Note that StoryStorm is entirely on the honor system. You are trusted to report your idea total truthfully at the end of the month. You don’t share the ideas publicly, they’re just for you and your imagination. Take a look at Tara’s website — even if you don’t participate in the challenge, there is a ton of information there for writers.

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The Flubs2Fixes blog, and my editing service, will be taking a break over the holiday season.

I’ll be back to editing as of Monday, January 2, 2017 and will be back to blogging on Friday, January 6.

I hope you have a joyous holiday season. Happy ManyDays to you! See you in the new year.

And furthermore, let’s go farther this time — a Grammar Owl post

One of my readers — I should say OUR readers, as I see the Owl flexing his talons — One of our readers asked about the words further and farther, which are so similar that it’s easy to get confused about which to use in which instance.

Grammar Owl to the rescue!


Farther refers to physical distance. It’s the comparative form of far. (Farthest is the superlative.) For example: I walked farther today than I did yesterday.

Further refers to philosophical/metaphorical distance. It means more, additionally, extra. For example: I thought further, considering my aching legs, and decided to walk a shorter distance tomorrow. Furthermore, I decided to warm up better before my next walk.

The Grammar Owl just prodded me with his beak to remind me that he’s come up with a memory trick that may help you. He calls it the Do-Re-Mi trick. If you’re thinking of length or distance, think “Fa — a long, long way to run.” Fa (that is, far) is a long, long way to run. Fur isn’t.

I hope this helps you (earworm at no extra charge 😉 ).

If you have a grammar or word use question for the Grammar Owl and me, please leave it in the comments. We’ll be back with another Grammar Owl post on January 20, 2017.



The many thesauri of Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi

The phrase Words Have Power  on a BlackboardAny of my editing clients can tell you that I often comment “use more vivid language,” “use vivid verbs,” “let your readers SEE what your characters are experiencing,” “let your readers FEEL what your characters are feeling.”

But how do we find those vivid words? How do we make sure we aren’t repeating the same words over and over, or resorting to clichés?

Well, we could just use a regular thesaurus, like the tried and true Roget’s, or one of the thesauri (trust me, that’s the plural) online. OR, as I often suggest to my editing clients, we can consult the many collections of words that Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi have put together.

These books (available as print books or ebooks) are specifically designed for writers, and they target areas that writers often find challenging.

There is a thesaurus for practically anything and everything that a writer might be puzzled by, with more coming out as the authors complete them. Their offerings include The Emotion Thesaurus, The Positive Trait Thesaurus as well as The Negative Trait Thesaurus and such in-depth subjects as The Emotional Wounds Thesaurus, The Symbolism and Motif Thesaurus, and The Talent and Skill Thesaurus, plus many more. You can read about them and learn where to purchase them on Angela and Becca’s website.

But that’s not all these two powerhouse writers and resource people offer to their fellow writers. Their website is a treasure trove of information, tips, advice; a blog that covers practically anything a writer might want to learn; two newsletters packed with tips; tools like setting planners, checklists and exercises or character questionnaires; webinars and workshops and more. Take some time to check out their website, Writers Helping Writers, and bookmark it for future reference. You’ll be glad you did!