Author Archives: Mindy Alyse Weiss

Perfect Presents for Writers and Book Lovers

December is flying by so fast. Are you scrambling to find great gifts? Here are some perfect presents for the writer or book lover in your life.


Who doesn’t love a shiny new journal—especially if it comes with colored pens or pencils? You can even personalize it for each writer. Think about adding some inspirational thoughts or writing prompts. There are so many creative ways to gift a journal!



Here’s a fun, inexpensive gift you can make for someone on your own or using an online Bingo generator. There tons of free ones available, such as this one (after making the card I discovered that they charge you if you make more than 30 cards, but if you’re only making a few, the graphics are really nice). Here are some other Bingo generator sites a teacher rated online. You can include favorite book titles, characters, details, quotes…whatever you want.



If you share favorite books with someone, then you can create a trivia game of favorite book details using something like index cards or printing them out on card stock with the questions on one side and answers on the other.



Check your local bookstores to see if there are any book signings in your area. If there aren’t, you can often contact your favorite authors and see if you can order signed books from their local store or send an SASE for a signed bookplate (since it’s close to the holidays, you could gift the book and put a cute note inside saying that the author’s signature is on its way).

*Keep an eye out for giveaway posts on our site where you can win signed books! They may be too late for this holiday season, but will still be great for future gift needs. 🙂 



These always make great holiday gifts for friends, family, teachers, students, etc. If you’d like to give a great book as a gift, check out our monthly new release posts and unique book lists.



The writer in your life would probably love to attend a workshop, conference, online class, or other writing-related event.


There are so many unique items for writers and book lovers that you can buy from places like Cafe Press, Etsy, etc. Check out these book bracelets! I even found a place that creates bracelets with one or more custom book charms—so an author can proudly wear charms of her own books or a book lover can walk around with her favorite books on her wrist.


For more ideas, check out this awesome Mixed-Up Files post of Gifts for the Bookish Types.

Author Tara Lazar has a post full of fun and creative gifts for writers.

I hope this holiday season will be wonderful for you! Which writer or book lover gifts are your favorite to give or receive?

Mindy Alyse Weiss writes humorous middle grade novels with heart and quirky picture books. She’s constantly inspired by her two daughters, an adventurous Bullmasador adopted from The Humane Society, and an adorable Beagle/Pointer mix who was rescued from the Everglades. Visit Mindy’s TwitterFacebook, or blog to read more about her writing life, conference experiences, and writing tips.

Revision Workbooks and Helpful Tools

Revisions are exciting…and a little scary, too. Years ago, I used to think I was revising, but it was more like tickling my manuscripts instead of ripping them to shreds and rebuilding them with the strongest possible foundation. I’ve been working hard on my revision tools and have come a long way—but the more I learn, the more I realize I still can grow.

breakout-novelMy local SCBWI (Society of Book Writer’s and Illustrators) recently invited me to take an online workshop using WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL WORKBOOK by Donald Maass. Wow! I fell in love with that workbook immediately. Every exercise I completed strengthened my middle grade novel in amazing ways. This is such a fantastic tool for writers—and for teachers to use with their students. You can figure out how to flesh out your characters more and highlight their heroic traits so readers can relate to even the nastiest characters. I also learned how to strengthen all my characters, plot, sub plots, theme, etc.

For years, I’ve cherished advice the incredibly talented author, Bruce Coville, shared at a conference—think of the worst thing that could happen to your character. It’s always been a huge help in raising the stakes. I’ve placed my characters in awful situations and thought I had mastered this task. Turns out, I did a good job (maybe even a really good job).  But I didn’t realize there was an invisible line I couldn’t cross. Exercises in Donald Maass’s workbook made that line visible and opened my eyes to even more ways to torture my poor characters. I love having a new tool that helps me dig deeper than ever and add amazing depth to my novels.

Here’s more info about WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL WORKBOOK by Donald Maass:

This powerful book presents the patented techniques and writing exercises from Maass’s popular writing workshops to offer novelists first-class instruction and practical guidance. You’ll learn to develop and strengthen aspects of your prose with sections on:

  • Building plot layers
  • Creating inner conflict
  • Strengthening voice and point of view
  • Discovering and heightening larger-than-life character qualities
  • Strengthening theme
  • And much more!

Maass also carefully dissects examples from real-life breakout novels so you’ll learn how to read and analyze fiction like a writer.


Another great revision workbook is NOVEL METAMORPHOSIS by Darcy Pattison:

  • novel-metamorphasisSystematically inventory and diagnose your manuscript
  • Visually manipulate your manuscript to identify problems
  • Transform dull characters into fascinating, memorable people
  • Strengthen the narrative and emotional arcs
  • Sharpen dialogue
  • Morph dull settings into backdrops that set the mood
  • Enliven narrated events by selecting the right details
  • Use language with confidence
  • Add depth with narrative patterning In-depth professional development
  • Plan your novel’s metamorphosis

The Results: A stronger, richer, deeper story, a story that makes readers weep and cry and turn the next page. NOVEL METAMORPHOSIS turns theory into radical new tools which are practical, tangible, concrete.


If you’re looking for intensive plotting help, check out the PLOT WHISPERER WORKBOOK by Martha Alderson:

plot-whisperer-workbookIn this writing workbook, celebrated writing teacher and author Martha Alderson covers everything from constructing spirited action and compelling characters to establishing an unforgettable ending. Packed with Scene Tracker and Plot Planner templates for you to fill in for your own unique story, she also walks you through the development of a successful narrative with exercises that:

  • Help build suspense, tension and excitement
  • Create multi-dimensional characters
  • Integrate theme and meaning
  • Incorporate effective subplots
  • Tie up all the loose ends
  • Keep the reader turning pages


Newest Plot Clock 2016The last incredible resource I’m including isn’t a book or workbook—it’s a free hour and a half recorded Plot Clock webinar by super-mentor Joyce Sweeney.

If you sign up for her mailing list, you’ll receive access to the webinar about her amazing four-act plot tool called the PLOT CLOCK that I use before (and often after) writing anything new. She also has lots of other incredible webinars and classes to help with revision and other aspects of writing.


Here’s a link to a past post of mine that is chock full of revision tips. I’d love to know what your favorite revision workbooks, tricks, or tools are.

Happy revising!

Mindy Alyse Weiss writes humorous middle grade novels with heart and quirky picture books. She’s constantly inspired by her two daughters, an adventurous Bullmasador adopted from The Humane Society, and an adorable Beagle/Pointer mix who was rescued from the Everglades. Visit Mindy’s TwitterFacebook, oblog to read more about her writing life, conference experiences, and writing tips.

The Winners of BOTH Clayton Stone Books are…

I’d like to thank Ena Jones again for her fantastic interview filled with interesting info about her amazing MG Clayton Stone spy series and helpful advice–plus her generous giveaways.

A huge thank you to all our readers who entered and left comments on our blog.

The winners of BOTH signed Clayton Stone books are:

Clayton Stone At Your Service cover









Greg Pattridge


Heidi Grange

Huge congrats to the winners! We’ll be in contact with you soon, so you can receive your prizes. 🙂