Posts Tagged ‘writing’

Do you remember gym class? Outside of the horrifying gym uniforms (think green polyester shorts and a t-shirt with my last name written across my chest with a black permanent marker), the exercises we did at the beginning of each class prepared our muscles for the real work to begin.

These exercises serve the same purpose. Before you start the long haul of working on your latest, soon-to-be best-seller, warm up your creative muscles with one (or all) of these:

1. Go back to the beginning:

Write about the first chapter book you ever read. What do you remember?

Was it a good read or did you not finish it?

2. Take a step into a great challenge:

Imagine you are a first grade teacher and have been asked to include a 68-year-old illiterate man in your classroom. What might come of that situation? Make notes, write a few scenes, or run with it.

3. Go back to the basics:

Print the first two pages of any story you are writing. Circle the first word of each sentence. Are those words similar? If so, re-work the sentences and re-print.

Make these writing exercises more fun – get out of the house, order a cup of hot something (it’s below zero here in Michigan) and write the way you imagine all writers do…over coffee, in the middle of a cute café, capturing the essence of your next character from the personalities walking by your table.

Do you have a published book? Click on this pic to read about an opportunity to receive and share in a marketing group.

Do you have a published book? Click on this pic to read about an opportunity to receive and share in a marketing group.

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If you’ve ever dreamed of being an author of a picture book…listen up!

I copied this right from the website so to give you the best explanation:

 For less than the cost of a single conference, picture book writers and illustrators can become members of 12 x 12 and get access to all the benefits of a writer’s conference — learning from experts, craft advice and assistance, the fellowship of community and the opportunity to submit completed, polished manuscripts — without having to travel. You’ll get the motivation and accountability you need to get those drafts finished, all with the support of the friendliest writing community on earth.

The 12 x 12 offer has three different levels of participation: Margaret Wise BRONZE level (write only), the Shel SILVERstein level (write and revise), and the Little Golden book level (write, revise, submit).

Here’s the link to the website:


Why you should consider this:

On any level, the accountability to put your butt in the chair and write is increased through the motivation you gain from the other members. If you only write 12 picture book manuscripts, that is 12 more manuscripts you will have to polish up by the end of the year. If you register for the GOLD level, you have input from other writers and the opportunity to submit those manuscripts to agents/publishers.

This is the cover from my first picture book. If all goes as planned, Frog will have many more adventures this year!

This is the cover from my first picture book. If all goes as planned, Frog will have many more adventures this year!

I’m going to go for it. Take a few minutes and read through the website (above). If the idea is intriguing, join me. If you aren’t sure, think about it for a few days. If the lure is too strong to refuse, join me.

Happy Writing!

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You are invited to join a new blog carnival geared toward
parents who are writers

    folks who raise little souls,
    who sacrifice sleep for cuddles,
    who are insanely addicted to the written word.

parents and writers icon

Themes for this Blog Carnival can include: Writing amongst legos, tools and strategies you use to find time to write, resources you’ve discovered, writing for children, writing while children run amuck, and any recipe that is easy to assemble thus giving us more time to write (I’m a huge fan of my crock pot).

For more details, visit the Parents and Writers Blog Carnival Page. Deadline for submissions are the 15th of each month. The Blog Carnival will be posted at this blog on the 20th.

If you have any questions, please email me at JessicaSchaubWrites@gmail.com

Happy Writing!

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What a month! Spring has finally arrived in Michigan!
Jessica's Camera Oct. 2011-May 2012 054

As I explored the World of Social Media, I discovered a treasure trove of websites and blogs that have helped me hone my craft, share my writing and amp up my marketing.

I will be honest – I don’t like marketing. I didn’t become a writer so that I could learn to market. But, such is life. The more I’m learning about this aspect of writing, the more comfortable I’m becoming with it. The real trick for me is balancing the marketing with writing and being a homeschooling mom of four. I don’t have that all figured out yet. In fact, the only reason I have time to write this post is because my youngest is asleep, my older two are studying Latin together, and child #3 is upstairs stuck in a book. The house is oddly quiet – and I love it! Let’s see how much I can accomplish before this bliss ends :)

1. Kimberly Grabas wrote what I will call “The Essential Website To-Do List for Authors”. I’ve been working on my website, slowly adding and changing things as I learn. Now, thanks to Kimberly, I have a whole new list of ‘musts’ to do.

2. I joined Pinterest recently and thoroughly enjoy the eye-candy. As a visual person, I have to be strict with myself to not over-indulge. For writers, there is a way to use Pinterest for Marketing, as Joanna Penn shares in her excellent blog. Btw, if you don’t follow Joanna’s blog or haven’t ‘Liked’ her facebook page, I highly recommend it. I’m just sharing information – she’s writing it!

3. Author Media is another blog & facebook page to follow. While they are many writers and I am one, I find their posts to be extremely helpful in my writing and marketing attempts.

4. How about a blog post about helpful blogs? Click here. But don’t forget to come back here :)

5. If you are launching a non-fiction book, C.S. Laskin has the post for you. I write fiction, but still found this post helpful.

6. Do you Tweet? I’m still learning and Author Media makes my list twice this month with a list of 100 things authors can tweet. Remember, of all the things you tweet about, 80% should be about other writers and 20% about your own writing. Why? Because those who help others are well, helpful. Those who market only themselves are selfish. (follow me @JessicaSchaub1)

7. Back to writing… there are big No-No’s to avoid in writing. Rob Hart share’s 10 story-telling cliches to avoid.

8. I took a marketing class through <a href="“>SkillShare with Laura Pepper Wu and loved it. I know have a 12-point marketing plan and the assistance of other writers I met through the class. I plan on writing a full post about this in the near future.

Well, I did it! The baby is still asleep and the Latin studying has moved onto History.

Have a peaceful day!

www.BooksByJessica.com (I haven’t added all the recommended changes to my website – I’m taking it nice and slow :)

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It’s the same old story…I have an idea, I toy around with a scene here a plot sequence there. But until I grab the stack of post-it notes and start plotting, I have nothing. I can picture the beginning and the end, but the journey in the middle is hazey.

I’ve committed to make 2013 the greatest novel output of my writing career and so, in this 2nd month, I’ve implemented three things:

1. Scrivener A program for writers that has a corkboard, index cards, endless supply of paper and an outlining process that makes sense. Despite past bad reviews, the folks at Literature and Latte dot com have fussed and fixed the program. I love it!

2. Story Elements by Larry Brooks. This book, while quite wordy initially, has been invaluable to me this month. It set out on a platter the key pieces of a story, what they look like and where they belong. Blueprints to a best seller! With the Scrivener program and this book, I’ve plotted out an entire novel. Now I just have to finish writing it.

3. I unplugged when it’s writing time. In clicking the button “disconnect from wireless” I have connected my brain to my goals. The world wide web is a perfect distraction from everything we want to acheive. Sure, I will use it to market, to meet other writers and parents, but when it’s time to write, I will write scenes for my latest novel, not facebook updates. Clicking “Like” will not get with work done!

writing pics 005

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Visit the Writer’s Digest Website to read the details of the 13th annual “Dear Lucky Agent” contest.

What do you send?

The first 225-250 words of your sci-fi or young adult manuscript.

What can you win?

A critique of the first double spaced 10 pages of that manuscript by agent Victoria Marini.

All the info you need is one the website – click on ‘Writers Digest” above. Good luck!

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What is a blog carnival you ask?

A blog featuring a variety of blog posts. You’ll have your choice between non-fiction posts, fantasy, literary, poetry, steampunk…you name it.

Why visit a blog carnival?

Unlike a traditional carnival with performers, a blog carnival entertains in writing. Contortionists don’t always live in tiny boxes. Writers, especially emerging writers who are using their blog to find readers, are finding their niche. Not wanting to be confined to a box, we stand on that box and shout out stories, ideas, and themes. The blog community is a network of people seeking an audience, ready to lend a hand to another emerging writer, giving feedback, encouragement and reblogging, retweeting and FB-friending well-liked posts. Blog carnivals are a means to find new voices, new friends, new writers.

Third Sunday Blog Carnival is posted on – you guessed it – the Third Sunday of the month. If features a range of writing and this month, my blog post featuring the first chapter of Circle of Pride is included.

Third Sunday Blog Carnival: January 2013.

Have fun, explore new writing, and don’t forget to comment on, like or share writing you enjoy!

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When people learn that I have four children, they smile. It’s more than the average two kids and far less than the typical Catholic family of ten. When they learn that I homeschool my children, they are impressed (or worried that my kids will be social freaks). And then when they discover that I also write, they slap their forehead and walk away. “How can you possibly do all that?”

Easy! The same way anyone else manages to do the things they love. I make time for it.

Step #1 – Set Weekly Goals.
Know what you want to accomplish. Personally speaking, I include writing, exercise and household chores into one list. My favorite part of accomplishing the goals is crossing them off. It’s a little thing to do, but it means that my time has been well-spent and I have something to show for it.

Step #2 – Schedule Time to Achieve Those Goals
I can’t tell you how many people will tell me that they want to do this or that, but they don’t have the time. I want to lose ten pounds…I want to be a writer…I want to homeschool…I want to train for a 5K…but I work full-time, I get home too late, I can’t afford it, I can’t.
Bah! I say! Those are lame excuses and they need to be tossed out like last year’s trash.
Wake up 20 minutes earlier and read or write. 20 minutes isn’t going to completely deprive anyone of sleep, but using that time effectively can bring about great results.
Have an hour for lunch? Walk for 30 minutes or write for 45 minutes.
Do you watch 2-3 hours of TV every night? Quit. Work toward your goals instead.

Step #3 – Accomplish tasks/goals in ‘Chunks’ of Time.
There are times when little snippets of time are all you have. (see Post-it writing for more). To truly make progress toward your goals, you will need to invest time.
I’m very good at planning meals and I can grocery shop on a dime, but when it comes to actually making the meals I fail. The solution for this came to mind as I looked at how I schedule several hours a week to write; therefore I should do the same for meals. I now plan a week’s worth of meals based on the sales at our local grocery store and shop. When I come home, instead of putting the meat in the freezer (because at 4:00pm on any given night everything will still be frozen) I put the meals together then freeze them. Luckily for me, my family loves casseroles and crock pot dinners, but mostly, I think they are just happy to have regular meals. I spend hours planning, shopping and preparing meals, but making the meals ahead of time keeps my afternoons free. It takes a few minutes to turn on the oven and slid a 9×13 in than to start from scratch.

Step #4 – Professionalize Your Goals
Every professional has business hours. Writers, parents, homeschoolers, and any one striving to accomplish a goal needs the same. I have every Thursday afternoon to write. It’s a guarenteed 3-4 hours of uninterrupted writing time. When I set my goals for the week, Monday through Wednesday include writing tasks that will make Thursday more efficient.

Step #5 – Have Fun!
If writing is your goal, then keep it fun. If you are a parent, it’s not like you can quit. Just find the ways to keep it fun. Same with exercise. Change up your workout. Jog on Monday, lift weights on Tuesday, swim on Wednesday, yoga on Thursday…you get the idea.
The enjoyment-factor of any task helps keep motivation high. For example, one of my least favorite tasks is changing out summer clothes for winter clothes. To put much of the work on my children (it’s their clothing!) and to keep it fun, I pull out the new season of clothing and set up a store in the living room. They all ‘shop’ for what they want, but have to turn in clothing for GoodWill – a one-for-one exchange. They shop, the closets are cleaned out, everyone is happy.
In writing, the enjoyment comes when I schedule in weeks to not write, but to read as many books as possible. My record is 8 books in one week.
When I’m trying to keep my writing fun, I will switch up stories, read something I wrote years ago (and laugh), or find a new place to try writing – libraries and coffee shops are great, parks are more interesting, in the middle of the mall during Christmas is a blast! So much drama :)

And remember, there are 24 hours in each day. Minus 8 hours of sleep, that leaves 16 hours of productive time. Use it well!

tick-tock...this is only a caption. Stop reading and start working on your goals!

tick-tock…this is only a caption. Stop reading and start working on your goals!

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A huge shout of thanks to http://beatredundancyblues.wordpress.com for including my blog in this award! I’m humbled and extremely happy. The hopes for my blogging have been to share a few thoughts and the road to writing that so many of us are on.

For the ‘Very Inspiring Blogger Award’ The rules are:

1. I should display the award logo somewhere on my blog. Done.

2. Link back to the blog of the person who nominated me. Done.

3. State 7 things about myself. Done.

4. Nominate 15 other bloggers for the award and provide links to their blogs. Done.

5. Notify those bloggers that they have been nominated and of the award’s requirements. (Will do)

Here are 7 things I would like to share about myself:
1. I ran 5 miles the other day and felt pretty good.
2. My favorite dinner is one I don’t have to make.
3. I love, love, love the Catholic Church!
4. A perfect day for me would include a book, quiet time and a bottle of wine.
5. I know it’s cliche, but my husband really is my best friend.
6. I homeschool our four children.
7. Three of those children were born of my womb, the fourth was born of my heart. Love them all!

I now need to nominate 15 people to receive this award:





(I can only include 4 blogs for this award as these are the only 4 that I consistently read. Please forgive the bending of rules.)

Thank you to these bloggers for inspiring me, for sharing their thoughts, their faith, their writing journies.


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We made it to the last day of our Writing Conference without the Conference. The goal from the beginning was to share ideas to think about writing outside the box, to deliver something to fellow writers that would help leap over obstacles with a single bound.

Speaking personally, as soon as I published Day One, life hit the fan and my schedule of posting was lost. But in there were valuable lessons – 1) don’t give up and, 2) have a plan. My goal was to post twice a week. Didn’t happen. My second goal was to have a detailed outline for this entire series of posts from which to write from. That saved me.

Today I’m writing about Details; the little things that make or break a story or an article. The devil may be in the details, but that’s only when we allow the details to bog us down. The details can also bring hope to inspire, focus, and bring forth blossoms of literary flora.

Detail 1: The beauty of an outline. Sounds funny – beautiful outlines. For most people, “outline” conjures images of sixth grade teachers, Roman numerals and stringent rules for lining up the numbers and letters. Outlines ride pale horses and research papers come with them.

Alas, there is life after term papers and for the working-toward-professional-writer the outline is as vital as a GPS as we wander through the deserts of Blank Screens.

My outlining process has gone through an amazing evolution as I’ve grown as a writer. I started with the traditional outline format – making my high school English teachers proud. But I now use post-it notes to outline and play around with the order of the scenes. Point is this – make a plan and follow it, changing direction when creativity shows up. The outline is the foundation.

Detail 2: Query letters. This is, after all, a Writer’s Conference, a free sample of writing resources, a booster shot to your mind, a kick in the pants, a means to change your schedule and jump start a new project. Once all that has been accomplished and you have a piece of writing – buffed and polished with every curly preposition in place – it’s time to submit your work.

The details in the query letter, the synopsis, the first three chapters submitted to an agent are invaluable. Don’t rush writing these.

I am intelligent enough to know that I am not an expert in submissions, so I am directing you to other resources, guest speakers of this little conference, if you will.




Detail 3: Think like a writer. This, at times, seems so obvious that I hesitated included it in this post. But after the last two months, I really need to keep this focus.

Thinking like a writer means that the little details make the biggest impressions. For example, my oldest daughter will be thirteen in less than two months. I see her beauty as a young woman emerging in the tiniest way: the way she ties a scarf around her neck, the quick glances in the mirror, the careful way she cares for her clothes. All that juxtaposed against that fine balance she maintains between playing with younger siblings and contributing to a meaningful conversation with adults.

It’s the minute details of characters that peel away the ink and paper of a story to reveal a realistic persona. How she tucks her hair behind her ear, the way he gestures with his hands. Important character strengths or flaws can be masterfully illustrated with these little actions.

If you are writing for children, take some time to read the Newberry books. Read it once just for enjoyment, then read it again paying attention to the language, the way the author describes the scenes and actions. I recently read The Singing Tree by Kate Seredy with my oldest daughter. What a gem!

If you write for adults or focus on non-fiction, read those best-sellers. Take notes. Imitate the masters. Strive to improve your game and find your own voice and style.

And so, we come to the end of our conference. Thank you for joining me. Let me know what was helpful and in what areas of writing you would like more information. I may not have all the answers, but I can find them J


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