Friday, December 30, 2011

Keeping It Real in Fiction

I love words. Printed words. Cursive ones. Spoken words. Whispered ones. The different heights and shapes of their letters. The things words get your mouth and tongue to do. The way words can make someone feel powerful, or peaceful, or loved.

One of my favorite words I learned in college was verisimilitude. We were talking about ROBINSON CRUSOE at the time. Verisimilitude is when a character or event in a story seems real because of the details given. These can be obvious details, like when you open the refrigerator door you feel a cool burst of air as the light turns on.

But with characters, I think they sometimes become more real when the details are unexpected. Like when the southern mom makes lousy sweet tea or the boxer is terrified of butterflies and views them as flying worms.

This doesn't mean writers should be inconsistant with their characters' characteristics. If your main character is a vegetarian, they shouldn't eat steak. But throwing in a few quirky details breathes life into characters and keeps them from seeming too flat or cliché.

Even if I didn't love the meaning of verisimilitude (which I do), I like the way it feels to say it. It makes your mouth do that thing it does when you silently mock someone who is lecturing you. You do that too, right?

So what words do you love? It doesn't have to be a literary word-- just any old word that makes your heart happy. Please share a favorite in the comment section.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


To celebrate the upcoming release of Kami Kinard's debut book, my 9-year-old daughter reviewed THE BOY PROJECT: NOTES AND OBSERVATIONS OF KARA MCALLISTER. Comment by 12/16/11 for a chance to win book bling: a BOY PROJECT bracelet! Here's what M.L. had to say:
This book ROCKED! When I first picked it up, I thought it would be another mushy gushy book about a girl that likes a boy who doesn’t like her back, but by chapter two, I was hooked. I laughed when she decided to make a project about how to get a boyfriend and loved how she became a trend setter using duct tape. Kara is a creative, artistic girl, searching for her soul mate. The ending was absolutely wonderful. I recommend this book to girls with a good sense of humor. It would make a great movie too.

Be sure to preorder THE BOY PROJECT (available January 1, 2012) and visit for more information.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Contest: Dodging Writing Questions

Holidays aren’t easy for writers. With the kids out of school, quiet time happens only during the wee hours when everyone else is ordering gift cards online or wrapping presents. And then there’s that awkward moment when we’re questioned by our REAR (Regularly Employed Anonymous Relatives). See if this sounds familiar:  

REAR: How’s your writing coming?
Me: Fine. *looks for a deviled egg and a good hiding place*
REAR: Have you finished that book you were working on?
Me: Well, the first two drafts. My critique group has it now.
REAR: You could have just sent it to me. I read Twilight last year.
Me: Uh, thanks?
REAR: So as soon as they’ve read it you’ll send it off to all the major publishing houses, right?
Me: I’m sure I’ll have more revisions to do. Then I’ll send it to some Beta readers. Then I’ll revise some more.
REAR: Huh. My neighbor has a friend whose aunt wrote her dog’s memoir. She sold copies at our class reunion. I bet I could get her to give you some pointers. She finished her book in three weeks and published it all by herself a month later.
Me: The tea is sweet, right? *hurries off & volunteers to sit at the kids’ table*

If it felt familiar, just know you are not alone. Preparing your book for publication is a long process. I’m still not sure why we’re called writers instead of revisers. So for a little fun, tell us your best topic-dodging line when you’ve given up on getting your REAR to understand and just want to change the subject. On Monday, December 5th, I’ll let my littlest pick a commenter out of a hat to win a package of Eraselets (cute little bracelets that you can also use as erasers).  U.S. entries only please. J