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Tip Tuesday features writers' tips on craft, research, querying, blogging, marketing, inspiration, and more. If you'd like to send in a tip, please e-mail me at agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com.

Hi Everyone! Natalie here today. I have a great tip by C.C. Payne, the author of LULA BELL ON GEEKDOM, FREAKDOM, AND THE CHALLENGES OF BAD HAIR, a contemporary story about friendship and family. More about the giveaway after C.C.'s awesome tip.

Think of yourself as a stagehand who’s responsible for handing the right props to each actor (character) before they take the stage (in your writing). Should she be draped in diamonds? Or a pilled, moth-eaten sweater, two sizes too large? Should he use a walker? Smoke a pipe? Should she step out of a rusted jalopy carrying a designer bag that cost more than her car? Should he wear cowboy boots? With his sweatpants?

Props can say more about your characters in a few words than an entire paragraph of explanation. They help bring characters to life in the reader’s mind and serve as great markers for memory—maybe the reader doesn’t remember a character’s name ten pages later, but they remember the creaky walker he’s always hunched over.

In my first novel, Something to Sing About, I gave the protagonist a lime green flyswatter to carry around. In my second novel, Lula Bell on Geekdom, Freakdom & the Challenges of Bad Hair, instead of explaining Mama’s mindset to the reader, I showed them what was in her purse—I firmly believe that everything you need to know about a woman is in her purse.

My purse? Well, it holds only the most basic necessities: Germ-X, a small first-aid kit, whatever book I’m currently reading, a second book in case I finish the first one, a hundred-year-old embroidered handkerchief that belonged to my great-grandmother, my phone, my wallet, SpearOmint Lifesavers, and cherry Chapstick. What does this say about me? Hmmm. Perhaps it says that I’m a sappy, sentimental germaphobe who loves spearmint, hates chapped lips, and doesn’t know what to do with herself without a book. That sounds about right.

What’s in your purse? More importantly, what’s in your bag of props?

To learn more about C. C. Payne, visit www.ccpayne.net .

Thanks C.C. for the fantastic tip. 

Here's a description of LULA BELL from Goodreads:

While Lula Bell Bonner tries desperately to fit in by not standing out, her wise and irrepressible Grandma Bernice says: Let your light shine! It's Grandma Bernice who provides the joy that balances Lula Bell's difficult school life, but when this balance is upended, when Kali Keele turns up the heat on her cruel teasing, and when the talent show ? that she should NEVER have signed up for - is about to happen, how in the world can Lula Bell cope? This funny, heartfelt novel exploring friendship, family, and forgiveness, introduces an unforgettable hero, lost in the 
wilderness of 5th grade, searching for her own shining light.

C.C. generously is offering a signed copy of LULA BELL to one winner.  To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment by midnight on February 2nd. I’ll announce the winner on February 4th. If your e-mail is not on Blogger, please list it in your comment.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. International entries are welcome.

Here's what's coming up:

Tomorrow I'm participating in Michael Pierce's blog tour and giving away a copy of PROVEX CITY, an urban fantasy told from a male POV,which also has some contemporary issues.

And next Monday, I'm interviewing Marie Lu and giving away an ARC of PRODIGY, her fantastic second book in her series. I'm SO excited to share Marie's book with you because it's so good. Marie is so kind to stop by for another interview, with her busy schedule. She's already had an amazing career as an author and I can't wait to find out what's been going on with her since she became a debut author a year ago.

See you tomorrow!


Ann Finkelstein said...

My work-in-progress involves the contents of Mom's purse too. :-)

Angela said...

I will have to check my purse now and see how the contents relate to my personality (-:
Lula Bell sounds like a good read.

Thanks Natalie.

Kristin Lenz said...

Thanks for sharing your tips, CC. My purse once belonged to my grandma - it's the only purse I've used in the many years since she died.

Angela said...

Great tips. Now I think I will go check my purse and see what the contents tell me about my personality (-:

Lulu Bell looks like a good read.

Thanks Natalie for posting this.

Stefanie Wass said...

Can't wait to read this one!
Love the purse/prop tip! Thank you!

Stefanie Wass said...

Just mentioned this contest on Twitter!
Really hoping to win this one! My WIP features a 5th grade protag w/similar issues. :)

Kahpow said...

The cover looks funny aha! Thanks so much for this giveaway <3

Old Kitty said...

I like the thought of the flyswatter! LOL!!

I'm sure to find a half eaten something in my bag..!

Awww Lula Bell! You listen to wise and wonderful Grandma Bernice now! Yay! take care

CC_Payne said...

Thanks y'all for the awesome--and hilarious--commentary, and thanks again, Natalie, for having me!

Jill the OWL said...

Looks fantastic!!! Love the cover too :)

themgowl at gmail dot com

smoore said...

Another review: http://greatbooksforchildren.com/1014/southern-charm-for-middle-grade-lula-bell-on-geekdom-freakdom-the-challenges-of-bad-hair-by-c-c-payne

Anonymous said...

Great tip! Love the idea of carrying around two books, just in case you finish the first.

CG @ Paper Fury said...

Sounds like a great book!

ebunadewumi said...

I always carry too much stuff in my purse, including a book!!

ebunadewumi said...

I always carry too much stuff in my purse, including a book!!

Sophie said...

You've made me think about my WIP, a story that involves actual theatre, yet I haven't paid adequate attention to general props! Thanks for the reminder, CC!