December 5, 2009

10 Holiday Writing Prompts

It's that time again when our schedules are overflowing with holiday tasks. Writing can be a great stress reliever, so don't let it slip to the bottom of your list. Here are ten creative writing prompts with a Christmas theme. You might want to try some of these with your children as well.

1. Write a Christmas story to read to your family on Christmas Eve.

2. Choose a favorite book character, and make a Christmas wishlist from his or her point of view.

3. Take the last line of your favorite Christmas carol and use it as the first line of a poem.

4. Write haiku poems based on the gifts in "The Twelve Days of Christmas."

5. Imagine yourself at age 10. Then write a letter to the 10-year-old you explaining why celebrating Christmas is important.

6. Create a detailed character description for someone named Hermione Christmas.

7. Write about how this picture makes you feel.

8. Describe in detail your favorite Christmas decoration.

9. Choose the most challenging thing about the holidays and write about it.

10. Write a 500-word piece beginning with: If I had the power to change Christmas, I would….

Do you have a holiday writing prompt? Add it in the Comments section.

Available for Christmas at your favorite bookstore, or order online:

December 2, 2009

Sydney Lincoln Knows a Secret, Hint: Contest Involved

I miss Sydney Lincoln. We met early in 2008 and became best friends. It wasn't long before I knew everything about her; she was an open book eager to share her most intimate secrets. I found her to be a loyal friend, fearless and brave to the point of risking her own life to save the lives of others. She was fiercely competitive and humble, traits not often mentioned in the same sentence, and athletic and strong. Sydney ran faster than anyone I've ever known. In fact, she aspired to run in the Olympics someday. Our backgrounds and personalities were very different, yet we connected heart-to-heart, especially when sharing our Christian faith – but that was months ago. Last spring, my friendship with Sydney grew cold. Today it's nothing more than memories frozen in time. Sydney Lincoln moved on and so did I.

If you haven't already guessed, Sydney is the main character in four mystery books that I wrote for Barbour Publishing's new Camp Club Girls series. The first two books are available now at your favorite bookstore. In Camp Club Girls & the Mystery at Discovery Lake, the series begins with six girls meeting at Camp Discovery and learning they all share one thing in common: an aptitude for intrigue! They form a super sleuth ring, call themselves the Camp Club Girls, and are soon embroiled in a search for lost jewels. After the first book, each of the 24 titles focuses on one girl, though the other characters are involved in each story and use their special skills to help the whole team stump adversaries and master the mysteries they encounter. In the second book, Sydney’s D.C. Discovery, Sydney and her friend Elizabeth are in the nation’s capital when odd happenings occur at the Vietnam Memorial.

When Barbour assigned the books to me, they gave me a brief character sketch for Sydney. She was 12 years old, African-American, and lived in Washington D.C. She was to be the athletic one in the group and also the nature expert. Armed with that information and a few suggestions from the editor, I was left alone to create Sydney's character. I don't know about you, but I build my characters from the outside in. I begin with where they live. I learn as much as I can about the neighborhood and its surroundings. Then I move inward to relationships with family and friends, then to my character's physical description, and finally I connect with my character's soul. That's when I start to write.

Sydney and I formed a solid friendship, but when I finished writing the fourth book last May, she abandoned me. My adventures with Sydney are done, and I still haven't gotten over it. I'm jealous of my readers. They get to meet Sydney for the first time in Washington D.C. and then follow her escapades to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, the whispering woods of northern Wisconsin, and the Great Smokey Mountains. I've already been to those places. I know what Sydney did, what she thought, and how the stories end. Sydney Lincoln was my best friend. Past tense. But there's hope! If the series catches on, there might be even more adventures for Sydney and the Camp Club Girls. That's where you come in.

I know one secret that Sydney hasn’t shared with anyone until now:
To kick off the new Camp Club Girls series, Barbour Publishing will be holding a contest. Readers will be offered a chance to win the “Kate’s Gadget Girl” grand prize gift basket worth over $2,000. Named after one of the Camp Club Girls characters who loves gadgets, the grand prize includes a MacBook computer, Nintendo Wii, iPod Nano, Canon digital camera, video journal, and many more cool gadgets. Running from January to August 2010, the readers’ contest also offers twenty-five monthly winners a Camp Club Girls backpack full of goodies. To sign up, readers can fill out a form found inside the books or enter online after the books release. The Camp Club Girls web site goes live sometime next week, so keep checking back, enter to win, and buy the books. Let's get the Camp Club Girls series off to a great start and keep it growing!

Book #1 Mystery at Discovery Lake by Renae Brumbaugh
Click here to read an excerpt and learn more.

Book #2 Sydney's D.C. Discovery by Jean Fischer
Click here to read an excerpt and learn more.