Tuesday, September 17, 2013


Some of my favourite opening lines:

Where's Papa going with that axe? Charlotte's Web

 On a Thursday afternoon, just after tea, Charlie Bone smelled smoke. Midnight for Charlie Bone

The ghost was restless. Awake and Dreaming

Keith, the boy with the rumpled shorts and shirt, did not know that he was being watched as he entered Room 215 at the Mountain View Inn. The Mouse and the Motorcycle

The wizard's house was tall and narrow, just like the wizard himself. The Minstrel's Daughter

One day, Grandpa wouldn't get out of bed. Stone Fox

Half the town's driving past our farm today, just to stare at a man driving a tractor. The Crazy Man

When May died, Ob came back to the trailer, got out of his good suit and into his regular clothes , then went and sat in the Chevy for the rest of the night. Missing May

If you are interested in stories with happy endings, you would be better off reading some other book. The Bad Beginning

I could tell right away that this wasn't a house that wanted me. Tumbleweed Skies

The best day of my life was the day that I found out that I was all alone in the world. No Ordinary Day
The day I almost died, the sky was a bright brilliant blue - a nice change from the rain earlier in the week. Word Nerd

I woke up knowing already that she was gone.  Almost Eden 

Everyone thinks children are as sweet as Neco Wafers, but I've lived long enough to know the truth: kids are rotten. Turtle in Paradise 

I'm not going to lie to you.  The Lit Report

Friday, September 6, 2013



"If you want to be a writer but have nothing to write about, you'll be like a knight in armour, searching for a damsel in distress to rescue."
-from Write a Novel and Get It Published by Nigel Watts

I've felt like that before. About three years ago, my well of story ideas ran dry. For a few years before that, I had been pulling old manuscripts out of my drawer and bringing them back to life. One day I realized I had used them all up. Relying on ideas from my years as a teacher wasn't working anymore. And I exhausted my ranch and life with horses as a source of inspiration. Help!

Fortunately, that depressing time didn't last too long. A spark here, a spark there and I was back in business. Now I have lots of ideas and not enough time!

Some tips that have worked for me:

1. Look into your own life, the things you know well and love to do. 

My historical Max and Ellie series was inspired by an
 article in a Canadian history magazine.
2. Write about what you want to write about, not what you think will sell or what you should be writing.

3. Read newspapers and  magazines, keeping an eye out for an interesting character or setting.

4. Ask yourself What if?

5. Get involved in a new hobby or activity.

7. Experiment with a list of opening lines or catchy titles.

8. Think about your childhood - especially the times you were afraid, embarrassed or excited.

9. Research a topic that interests you.

10. Read books or google a period in history that you find fascinating.

11. Think about the books you love and ask yourself why.

12. Keep a notebook of ideas.

13. Write anything (blogs, journal entries, letters) while you are waiting for your muse.

A few tips I've never tried but who knows?

1. Pull out two random words from a dictionary poge and develop a story around them.

2. Listen to music.

3. Look through a book of quotations and use that a starting point.

Not every idea is usable. You must be excited about it. A book takes a long time to write and you will have to stick with through good days and bad days. If you're not excited, you're more likely to give up.

You'll know when it's a great idea. Images, lines of dialogue, characters will start popping into your head. You're ready to take off!  


My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett

There are three books in this series, all published over 60 years ago, and they are real gems. They are fantastical tales, written in short chapters, and filled with delightful illustrations and maps.

The titles are My Father's Dragon, Elmer and the Dragon and The Dragons of Blueland.