Archive for April, 2011

Writing Tip #18 — keep your eyes open for contests, fellowships, and free stuff

April 30, 2011

Well, the title of that tip was pretty self-explanatory, so here’s an opportunity to place before your opened eyes:

A  free day at the Willamette Writers Conference in August 2011 may be within your grasp if you apply for a C. Whitcomb Conference Scholarship. Writing teachers (from accredited high schools and colleges) enter by nominating their best writing student(s). If a student wins, so does the teacher. (If you are a student, rather than a teacher, let your teacher know about this contest and that you would love them to nominate you if they feel you deserve it.) The winning student and teacher will each be awarded a day at the Willamette Writers Conference, August 5-7, 2011 at the Airport Sheraton in Portland, Oregon. For the rules go to

I happen to know that one of the past student winners eventually landed a three book deal! You never know when/where an opportunity might lurk.


Writing Tip # 17 — The Lamb Window

April 11, 2011

There is a certain time in the early spring when, from the back windows of my house, you can catch glimpses of new lambs prancing on the hillside. Soon the spring leaves will grow in on the trees between us and the dancing babes, but for just a week or two we have a clear view of their hopping, chasing, frolicking ways. Delightful.

There is also a window, in the crafting of a manuscript, where there’s enough material down to make it feel like a draft but it’s not filled out so much that it’s nearly done. In this window you have the perfect view and opportunity to dance and mess around a while.

What is this messing about I talk of? It’s a type of freedom that allows you to do any or all of the below without feeling like you’re destroying the finished product. (But, like I said, you have to have enough writing down to feel like the story already has some life to it.)

  1. Look at the chapters and see if anything about rearranging them would make your novel more interesting and dynamic. Maybe you don’t have to be chronological.
  2. List the characters. Is there one that is not very active? Can you combine that character with one of the others? Can the old college pal and the doctor be the same person? The ex-wife and the lawyer?
  3. Can you mess with the settings? Maybe some are boring. What would it take to make some weirder or more stunning? Could the love interest work at the circus instead of the phone company? (Okay, that may be a bit silly, but you get the idea.) Do they have to have that conversation in the hotel room or can they have it while walking to the hotel, getting caught in a downpour, huddling under the awning of a restaurant with people eating on the other side of the glass, staring at the characters through the window?
  4. Can you make things more suspenseful by throwing in an additional problem here or there? Be bold with your imagining – you can always change your mind. Think big. It’s dancing time!
  5. Look at your characters’ names and use your gut instinct. Some names feel perfect. Others feel uncomfortable. Better to rename them now while it still has some subtle impact on that character’s personality rather than at the end of draft five when all you might do is search and replace one name with another. A name is truly part of a character. Be open-minded and follow your pleasure.
  6. You have the hang of it now. More ideas will come to you.


So, my lambies, look for that window between hardly begun and almost done and take advantage of it. Prance about freely. It’s time to kick up your heels.

Tea for the Gentry

April 4, 2011

Ah, yes, another Supernatural Tea Party — in March our tea was all about Ireland and the Little People. We talked about fairies and other wee folk, watched a documentary about fairy paths and other enchantments,  saw clips from Darby O’Guill and the Little People and also Fairytale: A True Story, and we digressed a bit as we shared about our childhoods (probably brought on by the food I served.)

We dined on tiny wee foods (most of which were delicious, indeed) — tiny sandwiches, tiny bits of sausage in pastry, fairy houses (pound cake) dusted with powdered sugar snow, two inch carrot sticks, quarter-size scones, six flavors of tiny jams and jellies, blueberries (fairyfolk like berries, I believe), miniature cookies and cakes and candies, baby rounds of cheese, very fine (as in chopped small) fruit salad and macaroni salad, and even fairy-sized s’mores (see recipe below.)

Julie brought the fairies!

A very lovely time was had by all.

Binny slept through the first part of this party but especially enjoyed a leftover tiny chocolate cupcake. He got about half of it in his mouth, a quarter on his face and hands, and a quarter in the dogs’ mouths. That’s the way the fairy cookie crumbles, eh?

Fairy S’Mores

Take pieces of honeygraham cereal and separate out an even number of flat ones (some are too curled) on a paperplate or microwave-safe plate.

Place one chocolate chip on each of half of these mini-grahams.

Place one half of a mini marshmallow on each of the others.

Heat them in the microwave for a few seconds until the marshmallows puff up.

Turn the marshmallow halves upside down onto the chocolate ones and give a gentle smoosh.

Let stand for a minute to “set.”

The Sweet'n'Low packet is to show size.

An added touch that I used at this tea party was to get half a dozen wood toothpicks and put a mini marshmallow skewered on the end of each stick then I toasted them a bit over the open stove top flame. Very cute indeed. My one complaint I got about these treats at the tea party was that I hadn’t made enough. Who knew they’d be such a hit? I made them mostly as a decoration!

April Give-Away!

April 2, 2011

Desirae of Quincy, California is the winner of the March Give-Away — congrats to her!

The April Give-Away will be two very used but personally signed copies of my novels, A CERTAIN SLANT OF LIGHT and THE FETCH. I bought them from the web to see how good “good” condition was — the SLANT is an old library copy and the FETCH’s cover is faded from golden brown to a kind of pale pink. So if you don’t mind charmingly damaged used books and you would enjoy having these two signed to you (or whomever you request) send in your name for the drawing this month.

To enter please send me your name and physical address via the “Email Laura Whitcomb” link on my website. Tell me if you do NOT want to be included on the snail mail list (for freebies when one of my books comes out — bookmarks or postcards, etc.)

Thanks and everyone have a lovely weekend.