The Quotable Nerdy Character

A few weeks ago, I did a workshop on creating believable contemporary characters, and in the research process, I found a lot of inspirational quotes for writers — and readers. Hope you enjoy them as much as I did!


“When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature.”

― Ernest Hemingway

“Your source material is the people you know, not those you don’t know, but every character is an extension of the author’s own personality.”

― Edward Albee

“Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.”

― Mark Twain

“Characterization is an accident that flows out of action and dialogue.”

― Jack Woodford

Picture1“When you’re with your wife, you don’t say I love you to your wife every day but the ways you look at her and your actions are another way to communicate. Don’t focus on dialogue, only focus on what you’re expressing.”

― Michel Hazanavicius

“I tend to relate to a character in terms of the arc: what’s interesting is where he starts versus where he ends up .”

― Edward Norton

“If you’re writing about a character, if he’s a powerful character, unless you give him vulnerability I don’t think he’ll be as interesting to the reader.”

—Stan Lee

What do you think? Are you ready to pick up your pencil (or open up your laptop) and get creating?



If you haven’t already, please remember to check out The Busy Librarian’s podcast featuring ME and enter the newest Nerdy Chicks GIVEAWAY!


Another KidLit Giveaway!

So, I’ve been AWOL for a while — too many things going on in my life, both good and bad. But in honor of The Busy Librarian’s new podcast (which just happens to feature me!), I’ve decided to come back with a new GIVEAWAY!


So, most importantly,

what can you win?

To accommodate our vast range of readers, I want to make sure you can win something you really want. Therefore, the winner will be given a choice of these things:

  • either a free 45-minute Virtual Classroom Visit, where I would be happy to tell your chosen class all about how my books come together, from the initial inspiration to the totally terrific art. (Don’t worry if you’re not a teacher — you can donate the Virtual Visit to any class you choose!)

  • or, a signed copy of PIRATE PRINCESS, personalized to whomever you’d like. PiratePrincess c

I will accept entries until July 30, 2013 and I will draw the winner’s name and announce it on August 1.

Here are the rules for this giveaway:

Required. Fill out the entry form below with your name, your choice of prize, either the school you would like to give the visit to or the name for the personalized book, and your email address (so I can reach you!).

BUT WAIT! You can be entered to win multiple times. You will get an extra entry for doing any of the following:

(1) leave me a comment here with your thoughts on the podcast.

(2) follow me on Twitter – mention that in a comment below.

(3) tweet this post to your own twitter followers and tag me @sudiptabq and the Busy Librarian @MatthewWinner in the tweet.

(4) tweet the podcast to your own twitter followers and tag me @sudiptabq and the Busy Librarian @MatthewWinner in the tweet.

(5) like my author page on Facebook – mention that in a comment below.

(6) follow this blog (right sidebar) and The Busy Librarian’s blog — mention that in a comment below.

or (7) like fellow blogger Kami Kinard’s Facebook author page – mention that in a comment below.

That’s EIGHT ways to enter and win, folks!



The Ultimate Lap Desk

IMG_20130717_092504My granddad was one of those men you’d call handy. If something needed to be fixed, he fixed it. If you wanted something, but couldn’t find it in the store, he built it, or made it, or jerry-rigged it. Sometimes I wonder what my writing career would be like without him.

When I am in a period of intense revision — like I am now — I print out my manuscript. Then I go over the pages with my favorite pen in my hand, my laptop in front of me, and a revision notebook beside me. And when I am doing this, I am sitting in a comfortable chair somewhere… not always at my house… with one of granddad’s creations. I call it the Ultimate Lap Desk. And I don’t know what I’d do without it.

My grandfather made it for his mother, my great grandmother,  because he couldn’t find a lap desk that she could use comfortably. She was probably approaching ninety at the time, and any desk that simply sat on her lap was not stable enough to hold a dinner plate, or a crossword puzzle. So he made one that would fit across the arms of her favorite chair.

Eventually, my mother ended up with it. I found it in a closet when I was in college and kind of …quietly acquired it. It was great for writing papers then, and it’s great for writing books now! Every book I’ve written, (those sold and unsold) has been composed, at least partially, on top of that desk.

The beauty of this lap desk it is that unlike the ones you can purchase, this one offers SPACE. Almost as much space as a real desk.  And it fits across the arms of almost any chair (excepting those gigantic armchairs that can fit two or three people.) And since it stores vertically, it doesn’t collect papers and other junk (like my other desk which is usually so cluttered I can’t really use it) !

My real desk after my last revision. Please don't look too closely! But it's too funny not to share. See why I rely on the lap desk?

My real desk after my last revision. Please don’t look too closely! But it’s too funny not to share. See why I rely on the lap desk?

I did an on-line search for lap desks and couldn’t find anything comparable. The are all fairly small. So after deciding that I didn’t have time to market a new, super-useful product, I decided to write a post about this one. Maybe one of you will have the spirit of entrepreneurship and decide to make these available for everyone. Whether you’re a writer, a worker of crossword puzzles, an artist, or a player of solitaire… this is a great thing to have around.

And if you’re handy… you can make one! Here are the dimensions. Mine is made from 1/4″ plywood that has been sanded and coated with poly (Actually, I’m pretty sure graddad used shellac), so the surface is fairly smooth.

Want to make your own? Here is is, plain and simple. Dimensions: 32" wide 18 1/4 " deep 1/4" thick 3 1/4" at deepest point of semicircle cutout

Want to make your own? Here is is, plain and simple.   Dimensions:
32″ wide
18 1/4 ” deep
1/4″ thick
3 1/4″ at deepest point of semicircle cutout

Don’t you want one of these? Well, whether you do or not, happy writing, or drawing, or playing solitaire, or doing whatever you do!


A note to our followers: With travel, and writing, it has been a slow July, but we have a great interview with an unusual giveaway planned to post soon! Also, thank you all for the many views and comments on last week’s post. It is still surreal for my family, but your commments meant a lot.  Kami

Life and Death. Love and Loss.

The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea. -- Isak Dinesen

The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea. — Isak Dinesen

A few weeks ago, I learned that one of my friends lost her partner of twenty two years in a tragic accident. This really threw me for a loop. My husband and I have been married for twenty two years, and I spent the next few days wondering what I’d do if I was suddenly facing the rest of my life without him. I mean, I know I complain about things like his failure to replace toilet paper rolls, and his tendency to do absent-minded things like leave the freezer open with a frozen turkey sitting on the floor next to it… but these are small things, really. He is always there for the big things… like when he took an entire day off work to help me with formatting my last manuscript and inserting all of the art and computer graphics.

So I made a decision to deliberately be more appreciative and more positive about life and about the people I love. It isn’t exactly easy to continuously monitor and adjust your attitude, but I am working on it. I wish I could say that I have always been such a wonderful, appreciative, person that my efforts have gone unnoticed. But they haven’t. A few days ago, my husband mentioned the change. This is a good thing, because it means that my more positive attitude is working, but also a bad thing, when I think back on all of the time I’ve wasted being negative about things that don’t really matter.

This past weekend, I went home to Camden, SC to help celebrate my parents’ fiftieth wedding anniversary.  Fifty years with the same person! That is almost impossible to imagine. And yet, there it is.  We had a great time getting together with wonderful people.  Their children and grandchildren were all there, as well as their siblings and dozens of friends.  I left the event feeling extremely lucky for what I have. It was easy to be positive in the wake of such a party!

Then yesterday I got the call that my cousin, her husband, and her two children were on the plane that crashed in Alaska.  If you have followed any of the news stories, you know that there were no survivors.  The loss of an entire branch of our family is staggering. It is all I can think about. Though I haven’t seen Stacey in a few years, I always assumed I’d see her again. I had pictures of our great grandparents that she wanted, and I intended to give her.  I kept her address on hand in case I ever get back into the groove of sending out cards. Of course, none of this matters now. But how I wish I’d shown appreciation for that relationship when I could have.

Will this devastating news change my determination to be positive?  For the moment… yes.  I’m honestly having a hard time appreciating anything today.

At the same time, a tragedy like this is a reminder that we never know how long we’ll have the people we love with us – our cousins, our parents, our children, our friends, our spouses. A tragedy like this reminds us that we need to appreciate each moment.  A tragedy like this reminds us that we need to appreciate each other.

I’ll be back with more positive thoughts on writing and life soon.  But today, well, you’ve already read about how I feel today. For that, I thank you!