Monday, September 23, 2013

Poem for the Season, plus a Writing Prompt

I love this time of year. 
While looking out the window at the leaves scattered on my neighbor's roof yesterday morning, 
this poem came to me.

Fall's Melody
by Janet F. Smart
Leaves scatter upon the rooftops, while
walnuts wait for the first frost.
Sapphire skies,  cool nights, dewy mornings,
sweet apple cider and whiffs of chimney smoke.
Pumpkins sit on the front porch, smiling
because fall has arrived.

What words come to you,  when you look out at fall in all it's splendor?

Or use the picture above as a writing prompt to write a poem, paragraph, picture book or idea for a middle grade book.
If you like, share it with us.

Posted by Janet Smart   on Creative Writing in the Blackberry Patch,.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Writing Tics

I recently came across this post by  Leslie Pietrzyk about Writing Tics.

It hit home.

I am now checking my manuscripts for eyes, grins, smiles, sighs, laughs and racing hearts that have over stayed their welcome. . . and believe me there are many.

My characters live happy lives and their smiles and grins frolic throughout my stories.
Eyes are definitely a writing tic of mine and my characters all seem to have heart problems.

In addition to body words, I have an attachment to the word - just. In my latest MG  that I have been busy editing again, I found 113 justs. Which is just way too many!

But what do you do to fix these problems?

 I went into my manuscripts and started cutting and changing.

I took out some of the justs, but replaced others with different words, such as only, simply, merely, plainly and exactly. (After all, I couldn't take all of them out, that would destroy my word count.) I now have 64, which I am sure some of you would say is still too many.

Rhyme Zone and The Emotion Thesaurus have come in handy. I have an PDF of Emotion Thesaurus and use it often. If you go to the link above, there is a place where your can order a copy and also a free download of Emotion Amplifiers: A Companion to the Emotion Thesaurus. You might want to go check it out. (But don't forget to come back)

At Rhyme Zone type in your overused words to find their synonyms, definitions, related words, etc.

With Emotion Thesaurus check under categories such as anxiety, eagerness, disgust, elation, embarrassment, excitement,  happiness, nervousness, relief, surprise, worry, etc. to find another way to express what you want to convey in your manuscript.

If they are smiling because they are excited, then check under excitement to see what other body language could express that. Or if they are sighing, you might check under relief, worry or nervousness - or whatever other reason your characters are emitting sighs.

Why is their heart racing? If it is from nervousness, excitement, anxiety or surprise, then check under these categories in Emotion Thesaurus.

Do you have a writing tic? Want to share it with us?

I hope this helps you in some way when editing your manuscript.

Posted by Janet Smart  on Creative Writing in the Blackberry Patch.

Monday, September 9, 2013

MMGM - Melonhead

I am posting about Melonhead this  week on MMGM.

By Katy Kelly
illustrated by: Gillian Johnson
Delecorte Press

Last week I posted about Lucy Rose which is also written by Katy Kelly.

You might say this is a spinoff of the Lucy Rose books. I like Melonhead and there were a few laugh out loud passages in the book. He is 10 years old and always having one adventure after another. It starts out with Melonhead (Adam Melon) getting his foot stuck in a hole in a tree and getting his  rescue shown on the Channel 5 News.   Another adventure has his mouse, which is to be a meal for his pet snake, escape inside his house and then the snake escapes. Now he has two animals, that his mom  doesn't  know about, to find before they find her.

He loves to invent and Melonhead and his friend Sam enter the school's invention fair. After many ideas that didn't work out, will their Rescuer invention win? Read to the end to find out.

Melonhead comes in at 29,469 words.

For more middle grade fun, check the links on
 Posted by Janet Smart  on Creative Writing in the Blackberry Patch.

Monday, September 2, 2013

MMGM - Lucy Rose

Lucy Rose
Here's the Thing About Me
by Katy Kelly
Delacorte Press

Synopsis: This story is about an 8 year old girl who leads an eventful life.
Her parents are separated and her and her mom moved from Michigan to Washington D.  C. to live near her grandparents, Madam and Pop. Her teacher asks her how she is doing and she says, "Well, a little okie-dokie." He then makes a deal with her. He says he will  eat his hat if things don't get better for her the next month. Well, come November she tells her teacher, Mr. Welsh, to hold off on eating his hat because October got better in the nick of time. She becomes best friends with Jonique and neither one of them can stand Adam Melon, who she calls Melonhead.

Fun facts: She likes palindromes, her grandma (Madam), who is also named Lucy Rose, writes an advice column for a newspaper and she often anonymously emails her for advice.

Lucy Rose is quite the character, I think you'll like her. It comes in at 23,555 words.

For more middle grade fun, check the links on

Posted by Janet Smart   on Creative Writing in the Blackberry Patch