Summer Writing Club Prompt #5 Round-Up

Oh, wow! I’m floored by the responses from my Story Sparks during Storybird’s Summer Writing Club! I can’t wait to read all the stories that came from them!

Knowing that something I offered got kids writing is one of the best feelings possible. I’m THRILLED. Thank you, Storybird, for the opportunity!

Check the featured stories out here and here is a link to all the #swc submissions! FANTASTIC!



Summer Fun!

THE MYSTERY OF DOGWOOD CROSS is fully available to read for FREE on Storybird! Click here to get started!

modc-coverI’m also on a short hiatus with my second book for Storybird, CLIFFHANGERS AND OTHER THOUGHTS ABOUT WRITING. I began work on this fiction tutorial because of all the great questions I’d gotten from DOGWOOD CROSS readers. Click here for CLIFFHANGERS!

Why is it on hiatus? Because Storybird is ROCKING It with their Summer Writing Club. Story starters, tutorials and blogs, this is the place to be for your summer writing (and reading) fix! Go on and check it out!welcome-summer-writing-club

The Math in Writing


One way I use math in writing is to determine pacing and plotting. I don’t want to use up all my planned plot points too quickly…or have them all at the end in a big dump. I know I’m at the end of Act I right now. I know what my midpoint action will be, and where in the word count it will fall. I can figure out how much narrative and how much action comes between now (18,000 words) and then (35,000 words).

Tool: Free PDF to PowerPoint Conversion

I’m a Word person. I can make PDFs in my sleep. In fact, during my last job when I was working 18 hours a day on top of homeschooling, I think I DID create PDFs in my sleep.

But PowerPoint never fails to freak me out.

I received notice about a new web-based tool that converts PDF files to PowerPoint-ready files called PDFConverter.

Its main features include:

• Native and scanned documents conversion

• No file size limit

• Safe and easy to use

• Fast and accurate conversion results

• Hassle-free: no need to buy or install anything on your computer

You can learn more and test it here:

When Life Steals Your Words

This week has been full of good things, but also some inconveniences. We’ve had a lot of fun with our homeschool co-op (hiking, visiting Fellows Riverside Gardens, learning about recycling with the Green Team…), but I also battled a bad round of allergy yuck over the weekend and it followed me into the week. I do think our hike at the Lily Pond on Tuesday helped my body recover.

This weekend, I’m traveling to St. Louis for a cousin’s wedding. I’ve had so much to do to get ready for the trip, that I barely squeezed in writing a chapter of THE MYSTERY OF DOGWOOD CROSS.  It took the better part of a day to squeeze out 1800 words. Usually it takes about two hours to do it.

I got it done, though. I sent it to my friends who edit (one does macro/storyline edits, one does grammar checks, both hound me on fluidity and catch typos and I love them dearly for being brutal with my writing).  I got my edits back.  They both said the chapter was good, it was fine, but…it wasn’t my best.

Which I knew.

And I don’t want to publish something for the sake of publishing.

There will be no new chapter this weekend, even though I’d planned it. I’d WRITTEN it. But I don’t want to do my readers a disservice. And even talking about the failings of what I HAD written, I was able to come up with better ideas, ones that thrill me.

Hopefully, the joy will be passed on with whatever I come up with instead.


Storybird Tip: Hard Returns from Word into Longform Books

I have loved my experience with Storybird so far.

I have, however, hit a snafu when posting chapters into the new longform books. I tend to write in Word (when I’m on my MacBook) or Pages (when I’m on my iPad). I also tend to do it in traditional manuscript format, like this:


ImageRight now, when I copy all and paste into the longform chapter generator, it holds my hard return, but there’s no extra line spacing between paragraphs. I’ve had to go back and add in extra hard returns at the end of each paragraph. Not a big deal at all, and I’ve been able to catch some typos that way!  But at the same time, I have missed a few breaks that were supposed to be in there. I can go back and edit them, but the story has to go through moderation again, which delays the publication process.

So I tried something crazy. So, so crazy, y’all.

I opened up the chapter I wanted to publish next, in Word.

I went to Find/Replace.

And in the box, I did this crazy, crazy thing:


Yep. I replaced all ^p (which is how Word reads paragraph breaks in code) to ^p^p and it added that second return that I needed. Then I could copy and paste directly into the longform editor and voilà! No missed paragraph breaks!

So crazy, amirite?

Anyway, I hope this helps other Storybirdies who write in Word! I suppose I should get back to work on Chapter Six, huh? Oh, and yes, that first image the very beginning of the chapter. 😉