Refurbishing for Fall, as in Autumn.

Decision time today.  I feel like Mary Poppins when she said change is in the air.

While I stirred the blackberry freezer jam, my ‘hunker down and get cozy genes’ also stirred.  The crisp cool days, misty fog in the mornings, and  deciduous trees coloring my world, make me dream of hearth fires, an afghan throw,  and a good book. And maybe a Castle episode or two.

My blog days will change to two times a week until November.  Tuesdays and Thursdays.  The third day I have reserved to update my blog site and my website.   My guide?  Two books by Kristen Lamb, “We are not Alone, The writer’s Guide to Social Media” and “Are you There Blog?  It’s Me, Writer.

I kinda hope my subscribers will miss the three blogs a week, but in reality I think we’ill all be glad of the gift of time … one less blog to read as Thanksgiving approaches in Canada.  (I grew up in Canada.)  So one more blog this week, on Friday, and the following week, only on Tuesday and Thursday.

A five minute detour for you down memory lane:  the movie trailer for “Mary Poppins.”  Makes me want to rent the movie!

Hope your Wednesday is a wow day.

Technology: The wonder of Our Age

Deep sigh on the beach can put technology on hold

Without lists and calendars, life could get complicated. Forgetfulness complicates the works. To the rescue?
Spread sheets!

  • Packing lists
  • Car mileage (taxes),
  • Writing time logs
  • Goals and progress

Quicken eats time, but provides great financial information.  Do we need it?  Well, for taxes, yes. But do we need to know how much we spend on groceries? But the date & price of a purchase way back in 2007 can be found on quicken. Now that’s neat!

Hotel reservations near a specific location?  Not too long ago, a travel agent took care of everything.  But hands on searching, planning, finding and booking are rather fun.

Another plus side?  The wonders of the internet and word processing. Writing a manuscript on a typewriter? Oh my, am I ever grateful for word processing! But sigh … handwritten letters can be unfolded, handled and gathered into our hearts many times.  Like the unsolicited ‘thank you’ letter from my grandson.

Expenses for record keeping are shifting from banks and credit accounts as they encourage us to go paperless.  How many of us print our own statements for backup, saving the companies the cost of mailing and printing and assembling?

Keeping abreast of tech advances gobbles up time, but once mastered, saves time (?) and gives us more information.  Updating computer hardware, DVD players, TV’s, software, phones, MP-3’s keeps us on the spending edge.

What about technology most benefits or frustrates you?

Readers and Writers – Enjoy

Kurt Vonnegut shares a simplified graph delivered with unique wit, showing three basic story structures.

Readers, Aspiring writers, Young writers, Children, Experienced writers, can all sit back and enjoy this clip.

Can you think of a good book that didn’t follow one of the 3 curving lines on the graph?

Reading provides an opportunity to experience emotion, live the story with the characters, and hopefully close the cover (or shut off the e-reader) uplifted by a happy ending but  feeling a bit sorry that you must leave the characters behind.

Some literary fiction explores deep problems of the human condition and seeks to increase reader understanding, but there is no resolution.  Nothing uplifting. Ouch.

But for today, I hope this video makes you smile.

Wednesday Survey on facial descriptions:

Anyone remember him?

Can you name him?

Doesn't seem to age!

Describe the faces: Rebounding from the last post, it would be fun to read the impressions of the photos from fellow writers, and yes readers and lurkers too. How would we describe the photo’s in this post? We could pick one person, or a feature, like the nose, eyes, chin, hair … or more if you like, and describe?  Or just the effect the photo has on us? A memory? An emotion?

I’ll go first:

Top left … The eyes reach out and draw me. I want to get to know this man, would like to trust him, but then again is he too smooth?  Okay, so this is teenage talk and he was my movie idol. 

Top right: She exudes trust, seems warm and sympathetic., understanding, and unaware of her smooth beauty.  Again, compelling eyes reaching out.  

Bottom Right: One tough hombre.  No trust reaching out, just a determined will formed from hard knocks.

Bottom Left:  A woman braced against the world determined to be true to herself no matter what.  Looking at her makes me think of fun and celebration.

Have fun with some comments.  Don’t try too hard!  You can tell I didn’t.

Not his typical head shot

Not his typical head shot

On Line Blog Class from “Write it Forward”

Who Dares Wins

In response to a comment on my last post, here is an opportunity to learn how to maximize a writer’s potential blog traffic.  Many writers have benefitted from the experience and teaching skills of Bob Meyer and this online class is presented through “Write it Forward” … a site well worth checking out on its own.  The book cover on the left will connect you with Bob Mayer’s main website.  The offered class registration is contained within the Write it Forward site.

Blog on!

Writer’s Conferences in NYC and Surrey BC

A flower to dress up the post

Happy Summer to you all.

Many writer friends are in New York at the RWA National Convention, and those of us left behind are rooting for the best conference ever for them. They are keeping in touch with smart phones and the internet, sharing as they sight see and await the opening.  RWA has over 10,000 members in the US and world wide, and the national conference hums with the best teachers, prestigious contest winners to be announced, awards, editors and agents, signed books to buy, but most of all, over 2000 author/writer attendees.

In October, I look forward to the Surrey International Writer’s Conference held in Surrey BC, near Vancouver.  This conference caters to all writers, and all genres, including poetry and children’s writing.  Did I overdo it by  signing up for three of the nine 3 hour long master classes offered on Thursday?  I may have to give one away to my daughter who will be joining me from Texas.  (Now that’s a heart thump!)

Donald Maass: Mastering the three levels of story to construct a gripping novel
Robert Dugoni:  Playing God – Creating Memorable Characters
Kathleen Ortiz: Sell Your Book: Online Marketing and Promotion

In addition to those great offerings, the selection of workshops makes choice a challenge, but I also look forward to an agent appointment, and having an established author read and comment on the first three pages of my manuscript.

Now back to writing …

Public Critique & My Response: My Manuscript Opener

Mia Marlowe, Author

Mia Marlowe, Author

Touch of a Thief, due out Apr 26

I submitted the first 500 manuscript words for THE HIGHLAND PIONEER to Mia Marlowe’s blog Red Pencil Thursday.

She provides an instructive encouraging critique and comments from her viewers.  The result?  I dug deeper and improved the opening chapter.  The process of writing, critiquing , and revision of a good story followed by final editing so necessary to produce a quality  finished manuscript.  Finding areas in a manuscript that need improvement requires many pairs of eyes. My blog readers who write already know the drill.  Click  here to take a peek.

As a reward for taking part in beta testing for her new website, she gave me an advance copy of her novel TOUCH OF A THIEF,  due out April 26.   If you prefer a cozy novel without steam, this book might not be for you. I enjoyed her writing style and have matured with age, (I am smiling here) so didn’t get burned by the steam.  A good historical romance story.

Wishing you all that surge of creative energy that comes with spring. I can see blue sky here in the Pacific Northwest.  For those being teased by mother nature, I hope spring is just around the corner.

Surrey International Writer’s Conference

Surrey International Writer's Conference

SIWC

Surrey International Writer’s Conference (SIWC) is gearing up for October 21, 2011.  Some authors and teachers attend annually, ie., Donald Maass, Jack Whyte and Diana Gabaldon.  Based on my last two experiences with this conference, I expect program schedule and opportunities will be similar. If so, the following is what I would expect.

Several 3 hr. master classes will likely be offered on Oct. 20—AM, PM & eve.  Extra 10 min. solo pitch sessions and 15 min. blue pencil sessions are usually available—must stand in line for a bit.  Blue Pencil sessions are a face to face exchange with an author about your first three manuscript pages.  Round table dining (if you purchase the meal package) provides networking opportunities.  Evening entertainment  is presented by the regulars.  Book sales, marketing of many things to attract writers.  The conference offers workshops to enhance varied genres of writing, including children’s literature, the many romance genres, poetry, and social networking teaching.  If intrigued, go to the SIWC website, sign up for their newsletter and follow their progress on putting it all together.  Hope to see many of you there.

Yesterday, marveled at the crocuses in bloom, today marveled at the floating snow flakes. Nature loves to tease at springtime.  Have a great writing week, all.

 

 

Extra Eyes a Boon to the Writing Process

A flower to dress up the post

Experienced writers armed with a worthy idea and educated in the craft of writing can create the framework for a good story in their first draft, but realize creating a great manuscript needs more than one mind and one pair of eyes.

In the recent flurry of digital publishing, the death knoll to a writer is flawed writing. The Big House Publishers provide many pairs of eyes guiding the writer to a publishable manuscript. The same level of scrutiny and assistance might not be available for digital publishing.  Writers planning to self publish or publish digitally can benefit  from critiques,  beta readers and experienced editors.

As writers, when we read our own work we miss things, nothing looks left out, wrong or unclear because the same brain that created the story fills in the blanks.  Our readers don’t get that kind of help.

Manuscripts need a thorough read by others to assist and advise the writer during the process of revision.  I learned rather late that revision and editing are not the same. Revision (not part of the first draft) includes some of the following:

  • Checking plots and subplots, World-building, Believability
  • Chapter, scene and paragraph structure, Point of view switches okay?
  • Tense, Clarity, Sequences
  • Goals, motivations, conflict, tension, dilemmas
  • Characterization and Emotional content
  • Story arc, character arcs
  • Hooks to keep the reader engaged
  • And so on …

Editing comes last, thus preventing the writer from wasting time editing passages changed or deleted during revision. Once the revisions are completed, the writer edits for style—such as varied sentence structure, stronger verbs, echoes (repeat words), tightening, fresh ways to describe, etc.  And hires an expert to do the line editing for typos, punctuation, spelling and grammar.

Who knew in the beginning of a writing career the scope involved in publishing a good book? But what an stimulating and challenging journey.

Tune in Wednesday for a discussion on critiques.

May your writing muses dance—even during the revision process.

Revising the Opener

Fire & Moonlight Ambiance

Today, the writing includes a possible solution to problems in my Work in Progress.

Critiques showed the first draft chapters didn’t create empathy for the protagonist, or contain a strong hook.  My revisions hastily eliminated chapters one and two.

Result? An agent’s later critique showed the opening didn’t give the reader a picture of the the antagonist in her ‘normal’ life. (Oops, cut too much.)

The new opener shows the nine antagonists united to meet their mandate, thwart the protagonist, hopefully thereby  creating empathy for her and hooking the reader while we see bits of her ‘norma’l life before ‘The Labyrinth’  action begins.

Hope it works.  In any case, I’ll enjoy the challenge.

 

 

 

 

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