Book Beat Babes

Book Beat Babes

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

What Kind of Job Does Your Hero or Heroine Have?

Painting a picture of a hero or heroine very often involves deciding on a job or a good reason why that person doesn't have one. Here are a few examples from my own books:

1. A famous occupation - This is one of my favorites. Right away, the reader can guess the hero must be a cut above the average Joe. 
In Two Wrongs, my first book, the hero is in college, but is so great at basketball he turns pro. By the way, this book is still free at

2. An occupation involving education - In Killer Career, my heroine is a successful attorney who wants out. 

3. Dream job - Another example from Killer Career. When my heroine decides to give up her law practice to follow her dream of being a writer, her decision could kill her. 

4. A job requiring practical know how - The hero in Her Handyman, is a Jack of All Trades, and generous with his time and talents. 

Now it's your turn. What job does your hero or heroine have?  Or, maybe you'd like to mention a favorite one from someone else's book.

Find all of Morgan Mandel's books at


Twitter: @MorganMandel

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Getting A Thank You by Snail Mail! by DL Larson

A couple of weeks ago I did a writers workshop for a group of 5th & 6th graders. It was a great time and I had hoped the students enjoyed the session. Whether they learned anything or not, I had no idea ... until I received a large packet in the mail the other day.

The students sent me not just a thank you note, they wrote individual letters. In past workshops, I've received pictures ~ either colored or ones the teacher has taken. I always enjoy receiving those. Other times I have received a thank you card where each student has signed their name, etc. This group of kids went beyond all that.

I'm sharing with you because kids are writers too and we as adults sometimes forget that. We know they have to write for homework assignments, etc. and an occasional thank you note, but to sit and hand write a letter was new for me to receive. With all the social media these days, I didn't think kids did that sort of thing anymore.

I had told the kids they could call me, DL, or Mrs. Deb.

Hope you enjoy ...

'Dear Miss Deb,
   Thank you for being in our classroom yesterday! I had sooo much fun. I liked to learn about genres and characters. That was my favorite part. I learned so many things like different genres, developing characters, action verbs, different parts of a story. Oh, I could go on forever of how much I learned and had fun! I liked how much the class and I learned.
                                                                          Thank you, Emily'

'Dear D.L.,
  Thank you so much for coming to our school to each us about being an author! It was really fun. It was so cool how you took "he" and changed him into "Nate Yorkston" and "school" to "Frankenstein Academy." It was a very fun experience that I will never forget. I hope you had a great Halloween!
                                                                           Thanks, Mackenzie'

'Dear D.L.,
  Thank you for teaching us how to be a author. I learned how to plan a story first and developing characters and parts of a story. Happy Halloween!!! Thank you!!
                                                           boo                       Thanks, Alyssa'

Dear Miss Deb,
  Thank you for coming yesterday and teaching us about being an Author! It was so nice of you for coming and showing us types of genres, developing characters, action verbs, different parts of a story and CONFLICT and struggles. I think it's really cool that your an author. I myself  (heart) reading!
                                                                                       Sincerely, Isabell'

'Dear Miss Deb,
  I have learned a lot about your presentation Thursday. I learned about developing characters, action verbs, different parts of a story and an author needs imagination. Thank you for teaching us and me. Also thank you for taking time out of your time and the treats.
                                                                                     Sincerely, Ariana'

'Dear Mrs. Larson,
   Thank you for inspiring us to read more, but most of all to be an author. You really touched my heart and taught me about so many different genres. Also thanks for teaching us how to write a story and what it takes to do it. I also learned about how to organize and plan a story and how to make them bigger. You were fun and I also wanted to thank you for the treats and the pencil. Hopefully you could come back soon, you were so much fun!!!
                                                                                 Thanks you, Alex'

'Dear Mrs. Larson, (the only one written in cursive!)
   Thank you for coming in to our class to teach us. I learned about creating interesting characters, action verbs, and different parts of a story. My class also learned about planning the story first. Happy Halloween!
                                                                                Thank you, Wes'

'Dear Miss Deb,
   I really appreciate you for coming to our school. You were so nice to us. I learned about all of the different genres, also you showed us how to make a story. I didn't know all these things but you teached us all more about a developing story, genres, characters and setting. Happy Halloween, from Aaron'

Feedback is always a good thing. I won't bore you with the other letters; they are very similar and written with an eagerness I sometimes forget young people have. I believe the two big words for the day were: genre and CONFLICT. So I feel I've planted a few seeds for these young writers.

I'm always revved up after I've done a kids workshop. The prep work and the implementation inspires me. So by helping others, I end up helping myself. I call that a win-win.

Hope their enthusiasm inspires you to write as well!

'Til next time ~


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Stormy Weather

Stormy weather sometimes comes in handy writers. Here are some ways:

1. Personal stormy weather - Sharing our own rough patches with others can help others make it through similar ordeals, and let them know they are not alone. Also, sometimes sharing can make us feel better.
2. Stormy weather writing -   Sometimes writing helps to take our minds off our troubles.
3. Meteorological stormy weather - What better way to describe thunder storms, lightning, strong winds, and other stormy weather than to get firsthand experience? It's not the most comfortable way, but we might as well put what we've observed to use in our books.

Can you think of other ways stormy weather comes in handy?

Find all of Morgan Mandel's books at
Twitter: @MorganMandel

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Judging Writing Contests! by DL Larson

Writing contests are beneficial for aspiring writers and seasoned writers. Hearing feedback from another writer is a great way to improve one's writing. If one is willing to listen and learn.

In a writing group I belong to, we had a discussion on the over use of 'now' and 'then'. I believe it started from an article in a writing magazine. Of course I can't find the article - why is that? I can find a dozen magazines, but the one I want is missing . . . Anyway, then and now are considered, usually, as construction words. Once the story is written, most of the 'then' and 'now' should come away without harm to the sentence structure. I noticed many 'then' and 'now' in the entries I read. I shared my newly remembered tidbit to the entrants.

Recently I received a critique on a section of my WIP. A few of my writing group members highlighted the 'then' and 'now' dotted across my work. It was one of those LOL moments. I will take their good advice and kick them off the page.

A few other common mistakes I found judging, I'd like to share:
1. Use past tense to keep the action moving. Ex: 'was running' = ran. 
     Passive verbs can not sustain suspense, intrigue or excitement. 

2. POV hopping. 
    Basic rule: keep one point of view to each scene.

3. Setting.
    Tell/show your reader where your character is at all times.

4. Plot
    Decide the purpose of the story. You don't have to know all the details from the unset, but if you don't have a clear understanding how your character needs to reach his/her goal, it shows on the page. Ask your character the tough questions: 
        - what does it take to succeed?
        - what are the stumbling block?
       - what is their deepest fear?
       - how will they grow in order to reach their goal?

5. Character Development
    Make your character(s) engaging. Bad guy or good guy - doesn't matter. Just make him/her real!
    Repeat this procedure with every character in your story.
    Character driven stories will propel your book in a direction you might not have intended. That's an   
    exciting thing. 

I thoroughly enjoyed judging the entries of the Four Season Contest, sponsored by Windy City RWA. Thank you all for allowing me to read your work. I hope the experience was rewarding for you.

'Til next time ~