Write With Me

I have an idea. I can’t get it out of my head. I’ve tried to squash it. I’ve tried to squish it. I’ve tried to brush it away, at least for now. It’s a story idea. I’m not ready for it. Not yet. I JUST finished writing my middle grade novel. The story I love. The one I’m busy with, trying to get published. The one I’m dying to share with you.

But still…this idea. It won’t go away. So what can I do? Yeah, I know. I need to go with it.

I’ve spent the better part of this year revising my manuscript. I’ve enjoyed every minute (well most minutes) but at least for the immediate future, it’s out of my hands. It’s actually in the hands of my beta readers and critique partners. (Yeayy. Thanks to them!)

So maybe this new idea has popped into my head at the perfect time. Ideas swirl when they feel like swirling right? So I’ve decided to see if I can turn this story idea into an actual novel with characters and a plot and all that. I’m excited at the possibility of it. I’m excited to sharpen my pencils and write on a clean piece of paper. 🙂

Along with this new story idea, I’ve come up with an idea for Mondays on the blog.

Since this story idea is fresh in my mind- as in hours old fresh, I’ve decided to chronicle the writing of this manuscript on the blog. I’ll detail my word counts, which days I spend on outlining, character development, world building, drafting, revising—all of it.

Hmm, so as I’m writing this, I’m wondering… will Mondays on the blog be incredibly boring, or incredibly helpful?

I guess I won’t know until I try.

But I need your help. Do any of you have a story that you recently began writing? I think we’d all love to hear about it. I’m hoping you’ll comment with your progress right along with me on my posts. I’m planning on posting my progress every week on Manuscript Mondays. I’ll keep up with my regular posts on anything related to writing and reading on Wednesdays too.

So who’s with me? Who’s got a WIP (Work in Progress)? No matter what stage you’re in, we’d love to read about it. Leave your comments below. Tell us what you’re writing, like a Picture Book, Middle Grade, Young Adult or even Adult Fiction.

My manuscript is going to be…you guessed it. Middle Grade Fiction! More details to come on Monday, so please stop back. Unit then, good luck with your words. May they fly out of your head, spiral, glide and land ever so softly onto the page. Just the way you hope they will! See you Monday!



Writing with the 4 Classical Elements

Thank you for all the comments on last week’s Blog Birthday post! I hope you’ll check in often. It’s great getting to know other writers. 🙂 Congratulations also to Zurrie Cortez, winner of the chapter critique! Zurrie, you can send me your chapter at swirlandspark@gmail.com. I look forward to reading it and giving you feedback. I’ll be having more giveaways again so if you didn’t win this time, keep checking in!

I’m not sure if any of you know this about me… I’m a stinker for personality quizzes. You know the ones I’m talking about. You’ve probably seen them on Facebook and Twitter too… What flower type are you? What precious gem are you? What should your real job be? What city should you really live in? I can’t help it. I was a psychology major. I love analyzing people, especially myself!

So this week I came across a quiz I hadn’t seen before. I found it at http://www.beliefnet.com.

It included a quiz about the 4 Classical Elements: Earth, Water, Air, and Fire. I took the quiz to find out what element dominates my personality.

That got me thinking about how the four elements relate to the way in which we write.

But first here’s a summary, based on what I read on that site, of the 4 Elements and how they relate to personality:

An Earth Person cares about what’s real and physical; learns by doing; and is methodical in working towards her dreams. If an Earth person is an artist, she would prefer sculpture or something tangible. She will have a well developed nesting instinct. Home is her favorite place and being settled is her favorite state. She can also be stubborn.

A Water Person is compassionate, caring, a great listener and feels her heart should be her guide. Often emotional, she is led by her dreams down a meticulous path even if it is surprising one. However, she can be inconsistent, changing her mind with the tides.

An Air Person thinks before he feels, is clever and has a gift for words. He has the ability to think through problems. He sees the big picture rather than the small details and doesn’t care how something has always been done. He has big ideas and can keep many thoughts in his head at once. Sometimes he can get distracted though and have trouble focusing on one of them at a time.

A Fire Person is passionate with his goals, ideas or causes. He will convey his passions with such intensity that people tend to take notice. Rather than thinking like an Air Person or felling like a Water Person, the Fire Person “just knows.” He acts on instinct and once he makes a decision he doesn’t change his mind. He can light up the room yet he can also be hot tempered and obsessive.

Take a look at the website to read more about it and take the quiz for yourself. If I could post the link to the quiz I would, but as always, I am technically challenged. 😦

The spectrum showed Earth at one end followed by Water, Air, and then Fire at the other end. It was interesting for me to see my results. My score fell right in the middle of the Water range. I wasn’t surprised at all. The personality description fit me. Besides, I love being around water more than any other place!

We probably all have some traits in each of the four elements though. What about you? What element do you fit into? What inspires you? Where do you feel the most “at home”? Which of these elements evokes a response or feeling?

If you fall close to being an Earth Person, you may have an easy time describing scenes that take place at home or in a home-like setting, since this may be where you’re the most comfortable. If you’re a water person, you may actually gravitate toward scenes which involve a lake or ocean. Take a look at your story. You may have the natural ability to evoke emotion and a sense of place in scenes that revolve around your personality or comfort zone.

What about your characters? If you have developed your main character and even your secondary characters enough, you probably can figure out which element dominates their personality. This may be helpful in writing them into situations. If you know their personality element, you’ll be able to write their reactions in a more authentic way.

And that’s why I love personality quizzes. I can analyze myself and I can analyze my characters too!

I hope this gets you thinking about your own characters. Which element are you? Which one is your main character? I’m Water and my main character is Water too. Is that weird? I’m not sure. Leave us a comment. I’d love to know which one you are and which one your character is too. 🙂


Blog Birthday!

Happy Birthday to Swirl and Spark! This weekend is the first birthday of my website/ blog. Yippee!!

I’m amazed it’s been that long already. 🙂  I’ve had fun sharing Swirl and Spark with you. My following may be small but it’s a loyal and fabulous group. I’ve loved interacting with you. Reading your comments full of all things writing inspires me. I hope you’ll continue to stop by and share your writing ups and downs. We’re all on this journey of writing amazing stories. Why not travel it together? What started out as a site for kids who like to write, has turned into the site for all kids at heart who like to write. And there are so many of us who fall under that category!

I’m a fan of celebrating big events and a 1st Blog Birthday should be no different. So in honor of this grand occasion, I have a gift to randomly give away! Drum roll please…

Anyone who comments on this post will be entered to receive a chapter critique from me. That’s right. All you have to do is comment and your name will be entered. I promise. I’ll be fair. I’ll even have one of my kids draw the name. The comment can be anything from “Happy Birthday” to “I like this blog because…”

I love to read work by other writers. It’s a great way for even the most experienced writer to hone their craft. If you win, all you’ll do is email me your chapter. You can use a screen name if that makes you more comfortable. I’ll read for plot issues, grammar mistakes, character development—as much as I can from one chapter. I’ll also give you an overall impression of your opening and any other feedback that applies.

If you’re not sure whether or not your chances of winning are good, I say go for it. At any one time, I have a lot of traffic on this blog. But at other times it’s very slow. Who knows how much traffic we’ll get this week. I’ll pull the name next Tuesday, and announce the winner on Wednesday.

It seems fitting that last night I celebrated with three of my closest writing friends. As in, we went to Starbucks! (That’s my version of celebrating.) We had been in a critique group several years ago, but lost touch awhile back. Life you know, got in the way. Recently our group reconnected and we met for coffee for the first time in a long time. I was so happy to rekindle our creative energy and friendship. And no, our celebration really had nothing to do with the Blog Birthday, but whatever. I mentioned it to them anyway!  

On the subject of critiquing, one of these friends asked me last week to take a look at his novel. He’s been working on it over the past year and was looking for a fresh eye. I’ve read the first two chapters so far. What a great opening! I love to see progress by other writers. It encourages me to press on with my own writing!

On that note, please comment on this post. I’d love to give your chapter a fresh eye. This site, for me is all about celebrating stories. We all have one swirling inside us. But life does sometimes get in the way of bringing it to life. Maybe this post is just the spark you need.

So thank you for stopping by the site and allowing me to share my thoughts and random words with you. I hope you have a moment to celebrate your own small milestones, writing related or not. Cheers!


Four Ways to Become a Fit Writer

So you’re a writer. That doesn’t mean you have to join the Couch Potato Club. Even if you’re the type of person who loves to curl up with a good book (like me) or camp out with a laptop crafting a story (also like me), you can still be the person who goes out into the world (or at least out into your neighborhood) to get some exercise. In fact, it might even help your writing.

It has helped mine. If I go for a run or a bike ride in the morning, I have more energy throughout the day to write. When I’m spending several hours revising, I may get frustrated or lose steam half way through. If I take a break and go for a short walk, I always come back rejuvenated and ready to get to work.

Here’s four ways exercise can improve your writing.

  1. According to the Mayo Clinic, physical activity helps to bump up the production of your brain’s feel- good neurotransmitters called endorphins. When you feel good, you feel less stressed. I don’t know about you, but I write much more productively when I’m not stressed or worried. 
  2. You’ll get your best ideas while performing mindless or mundane tasks. Have you ever gotten a great idea while driving in the car, or while in the shower? That’s because when you relax, the creative section of your brain is free to take over. I get some of my best story ideas while taking a hike or long walk. The rhythmic patter of my sneakers is all I need for distractions of the day to fade away. I now look forward to these walks. It’s like an excuse to goof off and think about my story.
  3. Regular exercise can improve your mood and help you to sleep better. Most writers I know wake up crazy early in the morning or stay up way too late at night to write. You may think you can’t wake up any earlier to work out, but that’s exactly what your body may need even if you can only manage it a few days a week. You’ll focus better when your awake and sleep better at night.
  4. Experiencing the world can give your writing inspiration. Change it up. Get away from your computer. Change up your daily routine too. Do what you love. Swim, bike, run, ski. Whatever it is, give your mind a break from writing. As much as we writers love to stay put and write, real life experiences make us better writers. What better way to get those life experiences than experiencing life away from your computer…one step at a time.

Why not give it try? See how adding some outdoor activities can work for you. Who knows, you may even write your next story about parasailing or hang gliding or zip- lining. Okay or maybe just walking. That works too!