Monday, February 23, 2015


 The Monster's Scribbler
by Annie Rachel Cole

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Phoebe closed her eyes and chewed on her bottom lip, torn between the need to be invisible and the need to help the girl. She opened her eyes, took a deep breath and let it out slowly. 

She put her notebook and some of Madison’s books into stacks on the table. “You don’t need to apologize to her. She’s the one who pushed the bag under your feet,” she said to Madison. 

“I should’ve b-been w-watching where I w-was g-g-going.” Madison’s voice was soft and low. 

 “You did nothing wrong. Jayla shouldn’t be trying to get her kicks at your expense.”  

“Excuse me!” Jayla’s head bounced from side to side. “But you are not a part of this conversation. Besides, you were too busy writing in that notebook to even see what happened. So go away. Drop dead. Or something.” 

Heads bobbed up and down in agreement at her table. 

“I didn’t have to see it to know what you did. You’ve been pulling stunts like that since kindergarten,” said Phoebe. 

“I know you. You are a scribbler. Right?” Jayla’s voice dripped with sarcasm. “Loser!” She put her fingers in the shape of an “L” up to her forehead. The girls at her table roared with laughter. 

“At least I’m not a—what do you call yourself?” Phoebe paused tapping her finger on her head. “I remember now. At least I’m not a weregerbil. How low on the shifting chain is that?” 

Snickers flickered across the room, but everyone at Jayla’s table suddenly grew quiet, waiting to see what Jayla would do. 

Jayla turned several shades of red. “I don’t need this. There’s too many freaks on the this committee.” She grabbed her gym bag and stomped out of the room, followed closely by her gaggle of friends. 

Phoebe turned her attention to Madison. “Are you okay?” 

The other girl nodded and pushed at an imaginary pair of glasses. Realizing what she was doing, she quickly put down her hand. “Thanks. You didn’t have to do that.” 

Phoebe shrugged. “It wasn’t right what she did.” 

“Way to go, Wilson,” said a black-haired girl with a pierced lip and a silver studded dog collar around her neck. “Weregerbil. That’s a good one.” 

“Yeah, I’ll have to remember that,” said the girl sitting across from her. She was also dressed in black. “Who would have thought—weregerbil.” 

Murmurs of agreement and approval rose from different parts of the room. 

“Can I sit here?” asked Madison. She had collected the rest of her books. She looked at Phoebe with the expectation of being told to go somewhere else. 

Phoebe shrugged. “If you want to.” 

Madison put her books down and slid into the chair next to Phoebe. A huge smile covered her face. 

Phoebe handed her the books she picked up. Madison took them adding them to the stack that loomed in front of her like a wall. 

“I’m Madison Rose.” She held out her hand to Phoebe. 

A little reluctantly, Phoebe shook her hand. “Phoebe Wilson.”

Saturday, February 21, 2015

5 Questions About Writing

Over the years, I have taken classes on writing, read books on the subject, and have taught myself how to create outlines that work for me. All of these things have improved my writing style and techniques, and as a result some of the things I used to do have changed too.

Last week, a former student teacher sent me an email with several questions from one of her students. I thought I would share the questions and answers with you.

Egyptian writing. Photo by Annie Cole

How do you come up with character names?

I really don’t have a specific way of coming up with character names. Sometimes a name pops into my head and I start building a character around it. I also have a “running” list of names in my outline book. When I hear interesting names or see unique spellings I like, I jot them down. I also have a book of baby names and meanings. Knowing the meaning of a name is helpful when I’m looking for character names that will identify something about the character. On-line searches are also good for this too.

I just finish working on the outline for book 3 in the Children of Atlantis series. I’ve been searching for names for my Byssolarians (you briefly meet them in book 2). I wanted many of the names to have ties with the ocean or water.

For last names, I often grab the phone book and skim through it until I find something that clicks with my image of the character.

How do you finish/start a chapter?
It took me awhile to figure this out when I started writing. Is there a set formula? No. Here’s what works for me. A chapter is like a smaller story within the bigger story. It needs to have something of a beginning, middle, and closure, but lead into the next scene/incident. It must carry the bigger story forward. When I start a chapter, I try to get the action moving as quickly as possible. At the end of the chapter, I want to wrap up the scene, but leave some questions the character has to answer, or new information/danger the character has to deal with and that will move the story forward.

Resin copy of Rosetta Stone. Photo by Annie Cole
How do you come up with an opening to the story?
Think of the story as a movie. You want to get the story rolling, without doing a huge info dump. With Guardian of Atlantis, I wanted Raven in the awkward situation of being the new girl in the middle of the school year and then immediately give her more problems to deal with.

As for the info dump, spread what you need throughout the story. You will know a lot more about your story and characters than you actually put into the story.

How do you introduce the main character and make them seem interesting?
Have the main character in a typical situation that turns out not to be so typical, but leave the reader wanting to know more or wondering why this is happening to them.
For example:  Ravens bluish-black hair immediately gets her into trouble as soon as she walks into the school building. Why did the girl make the rude comment? Why is the teacher already picking on the new girl?

How do you deliver the main character’s description?
I try to spread the description out. Instead of telling you Raven has bluish-black hair, I have a student making a rude comment and a teacher taking her to the office for dying her hair. I also let you see some of Raven’s defiance in the conversation she has with the teacher. Don’t dump the info, spread it out in the story.

Friday, February 6, 2015

2015 Movies I Want to See

I have to confess. I didn't watch the Superbowl for the game. I watched it for the commercials, but what's sad is the only commercial I honestly remember is the movie trailer for the new Terminator movie.

Yelp, I caught that one.

It got me to thinking. What other movies are coming out this year that I might like?

Type in a search, and you come up with a list. Everything from fantasy to comedy to action adventure. I tend to go for the fantasy/sci-fi genre.  It has always been a favorite for me.

Two of the movies on my want to see list actually come out today.
  • Jupiter Ascending (fantasy/action)
  • Seventh Son (fantasy/adventure)

The other movies I want to see are:
  • Mad Max: Fury Road (fantasy/action) scheduled release on May 15
  • Jurassic World (fantasy/thriller) scheduled release on June 12
  • Terminator: Genisys (fantasy/action) scheduled release on July 1
  • Star Wars: Episode VII (fantasy/action) scheduled release on December 18
What movies are you looking forward to seeing this year?