Friday, July 31, 2009

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Sex, Drugs, and Children's Literature

First of all, thanks to everyone who was thrilled to know that Hank is okay. Text messages, and emails, and comments, oh my: you peeps really care. Now, today I offer you something lighter and (warning!) dirtier.

Y’all know I love the Twitter, right?

I'm following the #failedchildrensbooktitles tag* on twitter and it is hilarious. I recommend you go search this tag yourself, but here’s some of my fave Failed Children’s Book Titles from the past few days:

The Hardy Boys and the Mystery of the Hidden Salami
@hollygabrielson Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret Cho
@CalebHowe "The Mile High Babysitters Club"
@seantroversy Are You My Babymama?
@Panger2009 The Red Badge of Puberty
@MrWordsWorth The Little Prince & The Revolution
@andrewpfister Oh, The Places You'll Never Be Able to Afford to Go!
@heywriterboy One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Mercury Poisoning
@ahock76 Mother F#@ckin' Goose and Other Best-Loved Verses

*When you follow a tag, you enter a enter group of words into twitter preceded by a tag (like #failedchildrensbooktitles). Doing this makes it easy for a site like TweetDeck to stream the tag for you. Anyway, when someone wants to jump in on the conversation, they tweet their contribution and the secret tag. Got it?

Or you can just read some by clicking #failedchildrensbooktitles

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Half-way through writing a spellbinding post, I got up to put out the trash. That's when I noticed my dog Hank was being awfully quiet. Usually at 6:40 in the morning, he's chasing squirrels and waking up the neighbors. So I checked on him.

Horror: empty yard, broken hook dangling eerily from the dog run.

The yard had been quiet for about 10 minutes, or was it 20? So enthralled by my wonderful blog post, I wasn't sure. Bad dog parent, I scolded myself. Then I ran up and down the block, through the yard, and to the train tracks where he could get easy access to other dogs' backyards.

Silence everywhere. I called his name. Silence. I jumped in the car and would not let myself drive to the main drag where too many half-asleep souls were driving to work too fast. No way he'd go there, right? Right?

After 25 minutes of frantic searching, I spotted an SUV stopped in the middle of the road, door flung open and left that way. The driver stood outside the open door, talking on a cell, and looking down at something on the side of the road.

I raced down the road and halted next to her SUV. She was looking down at the old man who was crouched on the ground, rubbing the ears of my Hank. Our reunion was joyous.

But after our short ride home, there was no way I could finish my post. I was too anxious. My heart beat at a techno bassline pace. So I started typing this true story for you, and I tried to think of a way to tie it in to reading or writing so I wouldn't just be the crazy blogging dog lady.

Here's what I came up with:

Life and writing is filled with surprises, both horrible and kind. Do not be so rigid in your ways or your writing schedule or your outline that you see something like your dog running away as a total screw-up of your entire day. Embrace what you have, not what you want. Write what comes easily. I could have forced myself to sit down and finish that post, but it would have sucked. What came easily today was this love song to my dog.

As I write this, Hank is asleep at my feet, weary from his adventure. Today's blog post is almost done. And the other one--the greatest half-finished blog post in the world? I'll finish it later. Last night, I went to bed wondering what I could write for Nathan Bransford's guest blog challenge; now I know.

It's 7:35: one crisis solved; one blog post written; one contest entry halfway done. And I even managed to get the trash out on time.

When life hands you lemons, grab some sugar and make a lemon drop shooter.

And yes, that is Hank at the top of this post. Isn't it obvious why I love him? He's made of awesome. Ever had a sidetrack lead you in the right direction? Tell me about it.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

When the Going Gets Tough

After a week of struggling for each word, the writing came smoothly last night. I'd love to share how it happened, but this creation thing is so mysterious. I think it had to do with kind words, self-forgiveness, and releasing my grip instead of tightening it.

In the interest of not stopping the flow, I offer just a quote today:

"...Work--how we make things of and do things to the external world--is nearly as basic, and primeval, a factor in human happiness as family relations. The inability to write reflects the sufferer's feeling that he or she cannot contribute to the world, cannot communicate with others in any meaningful way."

from The Midnight Disease
by Alice Flaherty

Monday, July 27, 2009

Movies based on books rule.

This weekend, I watched Speak, a movie based on my favorite Laurie Halse Anderson book. I enjoyed every minute the way I used to enjoy Saturday morning cartoons. As I get older, enrapture is harder to come by, so when it happens, I dwell, trying to figure out the mysterious formula that makes movies/books/songs un-look-away-able.

One of the best parts of Anderson’s books is her craft with language, pushing words together, changing words to reveal a teen’s pronunciation and thereby exposing some hidden meaning. There’s no way to translate that to film, but Speak seemed sort of poetic. Other book-based films I'd describe as poetic: Ghost World, Jesus' Son, Into the Wild, and The Sweet Hereafter.

First thing I noticed about the DVD case was that DB Sweeney was in the movie. Immediately I started guessing who he could be. I cast him as Mr. Neck, but the guy who played Mr. Neck was someone else who was PERFECT as Mr. Neck. When DB showed up as Melinda’s dad, I smiled. And that’s when I decided that watching a movie based on a book you love is a little like watching a movie about your life.

People who read the book know so much more about the story than the average movie watcher, so they can’t help but want to explain everything, to wish for more depth, to feel every part of the story, even the ones not shown.

Movies based on books are a literary conversation. With every choice, the director says: this is my take on the story. Each actor says: this is my take on the character. Sometimes they nail it and sometimes they don’t. Either way, I relish their attempts.

My favorite part of book-based movies are the little surprises they leave for readers. I love how all of the billboards in the background of Romeo + Juliet are commercialized lines from Shakespeare's plays. I love author cameos and scripts that incorporate actual dialogue from the book.

Speak did a great job with this awesome line from the book:

I cut class, you cut class, he, she, it cuts class.

I grinned as if hearing/reading it for the first time.

Movie movies are great, but book movies are always better. Case in point: I really want to see I Love You, Beth Cooper. Seriously.

Any book-based movies you love or hate? Any insight into why I love literary movies so much?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

From: Strange Angels

Today, I leave you in the capable hands of writer Lili St. Crow. Her new paranormal YA novel Strange Angels is not my usual cup of tea, but I'm riveted. Main character Dru is my kind of main character: dark humor/survival instinct/heart of gold.

Here's Dru's thoughts on a particularly stressful evening in the novel:
I felt a million miles away from them. Normal goddamn teenagers, acting like idiots in front of a fast-food place. The dark jock put his arms around one of the girls and picked her up. She shrieked with laughter, the sound as bright as new spilled pennies. Her shirt rode up, showing the supple curve of her back. It was snowing outside and there was a zombie dead in my living room, and here this girl was, dressed like a hooker and laughing.
By the way, that's not Dru on the cover. Dru has messy, curly hair like me, so that can't be her.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Due Dates and other Monsters

I owe 50 pages to a good friend I've never even met.

My beta reader and I trade our novels in 50-page increments every other Wednesday. I don't have a nifty name for this process, but it helps my novel like you wouldn't believe.

I'm sure some people write beautiful, balanced novels on their first draft, but my first draft resembled Frankenstein's monster. Large sections were bulbous and ugly, but stitched together none-the-less. Other sections were as skinny as if they were mere bones. I hadn't hung any meat on them yet.

For months, when I looked at my manuscript, I had a hard time editing. It was a giant uneven monster that knew my innermost feelings and could topple and crush me at any time.


Now, I put on my white coat and examine one limb at a time. 50 pages / 2 weeks = time to slow down and really figure out what's going on.

I've read a lot of drafts that seem like a collection of scenes with sections throughout that read like this: and then this happened, and then this happened, and then this--don't worry we're getting to a good part soon.

And I so don't want that. I want every part of my novel to be extraordinary, and significant, and essential. I want to transform this monster into a real live drop-dead gorgeous dude so I can be proud to stroll around New York with him.

Do you have some innovative way to revise? Some trick of the trade that is helping you like no other method has?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Artist's Dilemma

Yesterday I had nothing to say, so I didn't post. I wasn’t unplugged, like so many other writers. I kept clicking New Post and then opening new tabs and getting lost in endless searches for inspiration.

Today: *silence*

But I don’t believe in writers’ block or bloggers’ block, so I decided to come up with something to say. I am disillusioned quite often, blog-readers. I have done a lot of over-thinking on this, and I am pretty sure the reason is that I am highly sensitive. But really I’m not talking about me, I’m talking about you.

Because being over-sensitive is the artist’s dilemma.

It’s what makes us feel for other people when we read or write about them. I’ve blushed when a character did something embarrassing. I’ve thrown the book across the room when a character failed despite all of my wishing for him to succeed. I’ve spent whole afternoons pondering this: these worlds are fake, so why can’t they be fair?

One reason we get disillusioned so often is that writing (a gooey-inside spiritual kind of thing) has to reconcile itself with publishing (a hard-as-steel soul-sucking sort of thing).

Anyone who knows what an ISBN is knows business ain’t booming in the publishing world.

Editorial Ass explains how gazillions of books are made so they seem to be bestsellers and are then quietly destroyed when they are inevitably not.

This post by sweetie pie agent Kristin Nelson says that paranormal historical romance could be dead. I had no idea. And publishing is dead and print is dead and vampires are dead. Yes, even the undead are dead.

This post speaks for its stupid self.

I mean, it’s enough to bring everyone down, isn’t it?

But fear not, blog-readers because artists also have an, uh, (enter opposite of dilemma here) in their unending hope that things can get better. This is what makes us re-read the scene of the book we just threw against the wall.

I send you all to Jennifer Jackson’s agent blog, where she says to those who follow directions:

Be ye not dismayed. Your efforts are worth it.

She’s talking about the query process, but it’s good advice no matter what you’re putting your effort into these days.

Right on, writers. Write on.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Best Blogs Forever

Well, it's official. I think I have a new favorite writing blog.

Some of the Saddest Stories are True

I'll be (blog) silent most of the day while I keep promises and meet deadlines.

Thanks to the Divine Miss Cecil Catellucci for writing about two cool characters who stumble across an interesting site in Los Angeles in her book Beige. Without this scene, I might never have known about figure 8 wall, a picture of which appears at the top of this post.

After Elliot Smith died, the wall that serves as background on the cover of his album Figure 8 became a place for people to pay tribute. They covered the white space with messages to Smith.

Elliot Smith is one of my voices.

From: "Between the Bars"

"The people you've been before
that you don't want around anymore:
they push and shove and won't
bend to your will,

I'll keep them still."

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I Should Be So Lucky

"You're Already a Voice Inside My Head"

I preach a lot about reading contemporary books, but the truth of the matter is that I’m steeped in the classics.

In life and in literature, I respect my elders.

I read young adult books now, but when I was a young adult, I was a literary snob. I also, and this goes for now and then, have always read any sort of writing advice I could find, but especially heeded that of Writers with a capital W.

One of my favorite pieces of writing advice comes from Writer Mark Twain:

“Use the right word, not its second cousin.”

This statement is hanging right above my desk. My office has zero pictures on the walls, but plenty of black text printed on white paper pinned around my desk. That way, I don’t spend too much time staring at distractions. All of my distractions lead me back to writing.

JA Konrath publishes a writing blog where he recently advised, “Do not start a story with telling,” and I cursed, because I have very recently done that. I started a story with this sentence: “She felt terrible.”--the exact sentence Konrath uses as an example of what not to do. When revising that story, I questioned the sentence, questioned others about whether my questioning was justified, and then left it. Oh inner voice, why do you mock me so?

Wait a minute. I’m having an epiphany here. Who is that inner voice and where does she get her information?

My inner voice is really a collection of people, only some of whom are Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut, Annie Dillard, Frank Soos, Derick Burleson, Ray Bradbury, Garrison Keilor, Henry David Thoreau, and Barbara Kingsolver. They blend together in a literary conversation in my head, continuing to teach me long after I’ve completed their classes and read their books.

So, let me ask you: whose voices are filling your head and guiding your writing? Do you block out the writers of the past? Nothing wrong with that approach. Bob Dylan said “your old road is rapidly aging” in one of the best songs ever written. That’s the thing. Sometimes my voices disagree and I have to make the call.

Do you have a quote you write by? A lesson from an old or new Writer?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

From: Brian's Blog

I don't usually blognap, but Brian Yansky said what we all occasionally think:

"Crap. Crap. Crap. I write crap. I write crap in the beginning and I write crap at the end and then I fill the middle with crap."

Head over to Brian's Blog if you'd like to read more of his motivational (no, seriously!) Writer Talk.

Music for Punchdrunk Writers

Yesterday, I wrote about the similarities between painting and writing. Today, I’m going to rap on music for a while.

Confession: I do not listen to music while I write. I, in fact, have no idea how people write and listen to music at the same time. I get sidetracked and find myself staring at the wall remembering seventh-grade dances and college and everything else music reminds me of.

My novel does have a playlist, but everyone’s novel has a playlist these days, so I’ve been keeping it quiet. I drive around listening to the mix CD I made and thinking about my main character. Yeah, I’m obsessed. So what? Let me tell you something about writing 60,000 words about a single topic: You have to be obsessed; otherwise, you’ll come to your senses and start craving sunshine.

One unique thing my book and I do have is a song. You know how couples have their song? Well, my book and I have our song. Written by Smokey Robinson and perfected by the Beatles, You Really Got A Hold On Me sums up our irrational, neurotic relationship.

Without further adieu, I offer an awesome ukulele-based cover of our song and some telling quotes if you’re not the clicking type. If you’re knee-deep in revisions, I’m sure you understand the sentiment:
I don't like you, but I love you,
seems like I'm always thinking of you.
Oh, oh, oh, you treat me badly.
I love you madly.
You really got a hold on me.

I don't want to leave you,
Don't want to stay here,
Don't want to spend another day here.
Oh, oh, oh, I wanna sit now.
I just can quit now.
You really got a hold on me.
Can you relate? Let me know what song you share with your book, or your car, or whichever non-human object you love to distraction.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Arts & Crafts: Writing and Painting

Occasionally, I like to slap a painting up here on the Booknapped, and offer a few facts about its artist or the period when it was painted. Perhaps pictures deserve their own blog like Artnapped or The Painter’s Almanac, but that will not do.

This excerpt from an interview with Ernest Hemingway explains the connection between painting and writing:
Interviewer: Who would you say are your literary forebears, those you have learned the most from?

Hemingway: Mark Twain, Flaubert, Stendhal, Bach, Turgeniev, Tolstoi, Dostoevsky, Chekhov, Andrew Marvell, John Donne, Maupassant, the good Kipling, Thoreau, Captain Marryat, Shakespeare, Mozart, Quevedo, Dante, Virgil, Tintoretto . . . Goya, Giotto, Cezanne, Van Gogh . . . I put in painters, because I learn as much from painters about how to write as from writers . . . I should think what one learns from composers and from the study of harmony and counterpoint would be obvious.
Painters, writers, musicians: we are all telling stories, creating atmosphere, using perspective, pacing, and color to create feeling in our audience.

For instance, the image above this post titled Du Mourron pour les Oiseaux by Raymond Peynet, a French illustrator, offers a nice example of how big a part description of buildings should play in a love story. Translation in words: Not big at all.

You can see more art by Peynet at this site that wouldn’t let me copy its images. My favorite is this drawing. The saying at the bottom comes from the French idiom “On ne peut pas vivre d'amour et d'eau fraiche.” In English, “You can’t live on love and water alone.”

Apparently, this is what French people say to French children who don't want to work, just want to bang on the drum all day.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Happy Birthday Thoreau!

"If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours."

So if you've been visiting Booknapped from way back, you might've noticed that I'm a major Henry David Thoreau fan. I formally wish a happy posthumous birthday to someone who is much cooler than I will ever be.

You know all those quizzes that ask who you'd like to have dinner with, dead or alive? I always choose Thoreau.

Who do you choose?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Well-behaved Women Seldom Make History

I have a shirt with this quote on it, but I never knew the history. I love when the pieces come together. Thanks to Writer's Almanac for teaching me my history. Again.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Something to Ponder

"Instant karma's going to get you."

-John Lennon

Thursday, July 9, 2009

...I'm Walking into Interwebs, So Leave a Message and I'll Call You Back...

"Communication Breakdown" occasionally plays in my head when I wake up to see how much content has gathered in my inbox while I slept.

Sometimes I forget I'm not your average Web user. I'm connected about 90% of my waking day. Most of my work is done on computer (or The Pute, as I affectionately call it), as is most of my play. You're reading a fairly obscure (but growing!) blog, so I guess you're not the average Web user either.

I'm glad we found each other, and I also sort of wonder how we did.

Let's share our favorite tools for navigating this World Wide Web. I'll go first:

3. I love iGoogle, which allows RSS feeds of all of my favorite blogs to load right to my home page. Any time I click back to Google to, well, Google something, I end up reading a post, adding a comment, and learning something.

2. I love M-W's Word-of-the-Day email. It takes me about 7 seconds to read and delete, and I learn new words as well as the actual meaning of words I've been using incorrectly for years.

Today's word is "inexorable," meaning not to be persuaded, moved, or stopped; relentless.

That's how I'm feeling about my novel right now, inexorable.

It's funny how on my first edit, I'm all: This blows.

Second edit: All right, I guess it's not that bad.

Third edit: Who wrote this?

1. And last, but not least, the Twitter. People who tweet are my people, or my tweople, as it is. Twitterers are early adopters, they thrive on new information and technology, they aren't intrusive, they can say their piece and move on.

Twitter has lead me to so much fun stuff, like this flow chart of Sarah Dessen love interests, turned me on to news before the news even knew about it, and introduced me to True Blood, my current obsession.

So tell me, what Web apps do you depend on? Share the most useful tools in the comments so I can download and enjoy.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

1 Rant and 5 Ways to Get Kids to Read

My response to Nicholas Kristof’s op-ed titled “The Best Kids’ Books Ever”: WTF?

Kristof has won a couple of Pulitzer Prizes, so I’m not questioning his intelligence. Many kids, however, who could greatly benefit from more reading, won’t relate to the Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew. Yet, tons of contemporary books, like North of Beautiful, After Tupac and D Foster, and The Rules of Survival, feature relevant young characters with real-life problems.

If you’re buying your kids ANY books, more power to you. You deserve a high five for instilling in your child the love of story. But, as Roger Sutton over at Read Roger says, “Any list of 13 of the best books is pretty random and thus useless”, so instead of offering you a list of crusty old books, I offer 5 solid ways to get your kid to read.

5. Don’t make kids read the best books ever. I’ve spent a good portion of my life struggling to read books that are good for me. But when I quit trying to read what people tell me I should like and instead read what feels good, I flip pages faster that Johnny 5.

4. Don’t buy your kids a pile of books you read as a kid, especially if you’re 150 years old. Children’s lit from way back tends to be adult lit that is slightly easier to read, but not really. When I have to fish something out of the public domain for first graders, I want to cry.

Here's something that was written for children in 1905:

In the chimney corner of a cottage in Avignon, a man sat one day watching the smoke as it rose in changing clouds from the smouldering embers to the sooty cavern above, and if those who did not know him had supposed from his attitude that he was a most idle person, they would have been very far from the truth.

It was in the days when the combined fleets of Europe were thundering with cannon on the rocky walls of Gibraltar, in the hope of driving the English out, and, the long effort having proved in vain, Joseph Montgolfier, of whom we have spoken, fell to wondering, as he sat by the fire, how the great task could be accomplished.

(from Chatterbox, 1905)

Boring. Too hard. And—one more time—boring.

3. Read—not to your kids, although that’s great—but you need to read. Show your kids that even you can spend many an evening enthralled by a book because it’s fun.

2. Leave books around your house. Let your children know that at any moment they can open up one of those treasure chests and see what’s inside.

1. Take your kid to bookstores and teach them to look at the back of a book to get a peek at the inside. Then go find yourself some books. Let kids fall in love with the act of browsing a bookstore. Shopping is fun. Getting to take the books home is a bonus.

Here’s the deal: You’re in love with your old-timey childhood and there’s nothing wrong with that. But pawning off old frontier books as “the best ever” and giving them to our kids only serves as evidence for what kids already think: that reading may have been fun 150 years ago—before Wii, but books don’t know a damn thing about kids today, and that Kanye, in all of his mis-use of “English” is correct.

Plenty of incredible writers are publishing books for today's kids. Let your little readers connect to the literary voices of their generation. Open the door to literature and let them browse to their hearts’ content.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

From: "Down"

"Keep my feet on the ground,
Keep my head in the clouds."


Pretty much my plan for life. What's yours?

Monday, July 6, 2009

Q: What do you NEED to write?

Maybe it’s a blue gel pen.*

Maybe it’s the window seat at your favorite cafĂ©.

Maybe it’s college-ruled, high-grade notebook paper.**

Whatever it is that you NEED to write—a long, quiet period of uninterrupted silence, a never-ending cup of expensive coffee with Splenda and non-fat Irish cream, or an afternoon visit from the elusive muse—get over it.

In workshop a few years back, my professor asked the class to freewrite about our ideal writing scenario—what we needed to have a productive writing session, and as I began to write about fine-point, felt-tip, blue Pilot pens, I had an epiphany.

How many times had I searched the apartment frantically for suitable paper, driven to the 24-hour Fred Meyers for a $4.99 two-pack of my favorite pens, lit a cigarette, inhaled, exhaled, and only then began writing as the smoke clouded the area between me and my page?

These days, I can write with a blunt mini golf pencil on the back of my electric bill, because I decided all those needs were just excuses, high-concept procrastination that kept me from the most important activity—getting some of the AM/FM chaos to stop broadcasting in my head by committing it to paper.

Writing is enjoyable when you’re in the zone—when the morning is so quiet you can hear the pen scratching the paper—but some of the best writing occurs on a used post-it in a grocery line with a kid pulling on your arm and a cashier telling you to hurry it up.

Don’t wait until all the stars are aligned in the twelfth house of Virgo. Start writing NOW.

Do you have a self-imposed writing NEED? Share it with us in the comments, and then commit to writing without it in the future.

*One of mine.

**Another one of mine

Sunday, July 5, 2009

A Quick Laugh for the Enlightened

Do you think of Google as an extension of your brain? I do, so I thought this comic was hilarious. Thanks to Citizen X over at tanjentsdotcom, an Internet culture blog, for turning me on to it.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Writers' Block, Kitchens, and Cold-blooded Murder

Yesterday, my husband and I had a pity-fest about the state of crazy our life is in.

I’m revising a novel, which is sort of like writing a novel when you're in the throes of it—except that you have a mess of unintelligible words to break through instead of a blank page. Husband is remodeling our kitchen. He’s not a contractor or a plumber, electrician, or carpenter. He’s just a regular guy who watches a lot of HGTV.

Anyway, our kitchen is currently the equivalent of a blank page—nothing but a wood box waiting for some building to happen. I said to a friend the other day, “Our house has no heart.”

Husband is feeling a little overwhelmed regarding what to do next.

To this, I answered, “It’s just like writing a novel—sometimes you have to take it one chapter, one page—one word even—at a time. Eventually, hopefully, you have a whole book.”

Then I took my own advice. I printed out a chapter and edited it old-school style: red pen to paper, slashing each repeated idea, adding whole sentences, questioning every word. Every. Single. Word.

After 5 pages, I emailed my beta: “There’s so much red it looks like I murdered chapter 14!”

So there you go, random blog-reading people. Stuck? Overwhelmed? Wondering whether you should just open a new document and start anew?

I recommend printing out a do-able amount, a page if that’s all you can handle, a paragraph. Take out your red pen and murder your darlings. Your changes will have you feeling like a vampire after a dose of the good human stuff.

Happy holidays, murderers!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

From: The Writer's Almanac

The Effort
by Billy Collins

Would anyone care to join me
in flicking a few pebbles in the direction
of teachers who are fond of asking the question:
"What is the poet trying to say?"

as if Thomas Hardy and Emily Dickinson
had struggled but ultimately failed in their efforts—
inarticulate wretches that they were,
biting their pens and staring out the window for a clue.

P.S., If you're not reading or listening to Writer's Almanac, your missing a daily dose of writerly happiness.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

"I'm afraid you have a brain cloud, Joe."

If you stared at this image long enough, you read my novel--sort of.

Wordle is a nifty site where users can create word clouds from blocks of text. Words that appear more often in the text are bigger. So, you writers who are afraid you use "was" or "two" too much, you can use Wordle to get a picture of the words you use the most.

Apparently, I use "like" a lot--more than my main character's name even. I'll be de-like-afying my ms in the coming days. I removed some of my other characters' names from my word cloud--one in particular--because his name was huge. To rectify that, I'll be adding more scenes with other characters to balance things out.

That's Wordle in action: letting you know where to pare down and where to biggify (to use the parlance of one of my favorite blogs).

So head over to Wordle and build a word cloud. Then, copy the code of your creation into the comments section. I'd love to see what's on your mind.