I love going to writing workshops, seminars, and discussions. I love being around writers and I always learn something. I always take a lot of notes and pictures and pick up every handout, and card or bookmark I can find. Since I started this blog I’ve been especially determined to gather all I can.
The problem is I don’t go back to those notes and handouts. I get all inspired and anxious to write but it doesn’t last through my day-to-day life. Another big problem, for me, is that I write articles on Old West history. Although some of the information I learn can be applied to all writing the inspiration tends more towards fiction.
I like to write fiction. One of my dreams is to write a cozy mystery, or a ghost story, or . . . well, you get the idea. Through my writing group I start a lot of stories but I seldom follow through with them. They are sitting on a shelf or a few have even made it into the computer.
When I won an on-line writing class at a recent all-day seminar I wasn’t sure I’d take advantage of it. I’m so glad I did.
The class I won was through Laurie Schnebly Campbell. She has a variety of classes which build on each other. Each workshop is a series of email lectures including homework assignments. Classmates may also chat with each other.
I signed up for “Plotting via Motivation” thinking I would start on that ghost story novel.
What an amazing experience. Because I was working every day and had those assignments to turn in by the end of the three weeks I had pages and pages of information ready to start writing. I knew all my characters and why they were doing what they were doing.
The notes and information didn’t disappear into my file drawer. I printed out the lectures and assignments and took them everywhere and worked on my story every day. I loved it. I learned so much because I was applying the information and Laurie’s great comments directly to my own work.
Well, I couldn’t stop there. I signed up for the next class, “Master Class: From Plot to Finish” and ended up with a scene by scene “outline” of the novel. It’s all very basic and I’m sure things will change as I get into the actual writing but I’ve never gotten this far with all my fits and starts.
I’ve done National Novel Writer’s Month and have 50,000 words written for a number of books but I never went back to them. I’ve taken creative writing classes and attended many workshops. Nothing has gotten me going like this.
I had no idea this would be so beneficial. A special thanks to Laurie for introducing me to this mode of learning/writing. I have another one of her classes on my to-do list.
I know there are other classes out there so if you have taken an on-line class that was especially helpful please spread the word through a comment below. Then go check out Laurie’s classes. If you haven’t taken one before you will be so glad you did.
I’m lucky enough to live near a wonderful little used book store: Dog-Eared Pages. The owners Tom and Melanie go out of their way to
Melanie also writes under the name Anna Questerly. Her latest book, Pangea, is a utopian fantasy that
will make you wish you lived there.
Saturday was their Authorpalooza with twelve local authors displaying their books and fun door prizes offered by each one. Here’s a bit about each of those authors so you can go check out their books yourself.
Leslie Jones writes military romantic suspense. Night Hush is her debut novel and I’m sure we will be seeing many more.
Lizzy Ford has over forty books to her name.
She writes dark, contemporary and teen romance.
Her book about time travel and the West caught my eye.
I also like her blog name: http://www.guerrillawordfare.com/
Alan Black is a prolific multi-genre author. His books include science fiction, historical, Christian and young adult.
Tim Gallen is another new author with an intriguing fantasy novella, Niscene’s Creed.
Science fiction author, T. L. Smith, spent time in the military and uses that experience to add life to her writing.
Tray Goodman is a creative director at Creative Minds Media, LLC. His book Crushing Your Box is a “modern guide to finding your creative positive energy source.” He will be giving a presentation this Thursday, April 23, in Phoenix, Arizona. You can learn more at his website.
Michele Venne is another multi-genre author. Her books include poetry, romantic suspense and historical fiction. I didn’t get a picture of the framed photo/poem I won as a door prize. It will find a special place in my home soon.
Kris Tualla is an energetic historical romance writer who’s slogan is “Norway is the NEW Scotland.” Kris and “friend” are proving that not all hunks wear kilts. She will be making my black fan famous on the cover of her newest novel soon.
V. S. Nelson writes paranormal romance and more. Intrigued by Native American culture and mythology she weaves intriguing stories. I was interested to see a list of writings on other subjects on her web site.
Lynn Rush is a new adult author who also writes under the name Reese Monroe. I also won her door prize, a little safe full of goodies (her little friend Alastair is sitting on top of it in the photo.) Now I’m going to read her book Frostbite to find out what the connection is to the safe.
Local authors are wonderful people and so fun to spend time with. I always learn new things and am amazed at all the talent in our state. Wherever you live take the time to find the local authors and give them a pat on the back for sticking to their dreams.
I am constantly amazed at all the authors who live in the Valley of the Sun. I keep meeting and learning about new ones. New to me, anyway.
Elizabeth Parker is the author of Gilded Splendor, a historical romance, and has been published in British Heritage, Wild West, Mountain Living, Historic Traveler and others.
She is from Nebraska and I’m from Kansas. I’ve also been published in Wild West and had another article accepted just this week. She has been married for over 30 years and has one daughter, just like yours truly. She loves the movie Tombstone and well, I think perhaps we were separated at birth.
Elizabeth is now an editor/evaluator for Author Solutions, an online subsidiary of Penguin Random House.
During the Friday Night Writes meeting at Dog-Eared Pages Bookstore Elizabeth spoke on “The Art of Emotion: Getting Your Readers to Feel.” It is all based on the theory that readers should always feel what the character is feeling. She told us a number of ways to accomplish this including using the characters voice instead of telling the reader.
She often referred to Hemingway including examples from Death In The Afternoon which she described as partly a book on writing.
I hope I get another chance to hear Elizabeth speak. In the meantime I will be spending some time reading her blog.
Wherever I go I hear the words “flash fiction” or “short-short fiction.” I’m asked what these things mean in my book discussion group and they are discussed in my writing groups. I decided to do a bit of research and bring it all together here.
The main problem with all of these types of writing is the names change as do the requirements. I found different definitions on different sites. Here’s the breakdown as close as I can figure it out.
First of all, short fiction should have a beginning, middle and end. In other words, it should tell a story. There should be as setting and one or more characters along with some conflict and a resolution. The title may or may not be part of the word count.
Fifty-five Fiction: exactly 55 words
Drabble or Micro Fiction: exactly 100 words
Flash Fiction or short-short story: 100 to 1,000 words
Short Story: 1,000 to 7,500 words
Novelette: 7,500 to 20,000 words
Novella: 20,000 to 40,000/50,000 words can be made into a chain-novel
Novel: 50,000 to 110,000 words
Short stories have been written by most authors of the past. Hemingway was a master of short stories. As periodicals disappeared short stories became harder to publish. Anthologies were about the only outlet for short fiction. As self-publishing becomes a major force in the field many authors or groups of authors have published their own anthologies. Literary magazines published by universities and other organizations are available in print and in e-form.
Readers often prefer something short as many can’t seem to find the time to dig into a novel. Young adults seem to be especially drawn to reading and writing short fiction.
It would seem that writing short would be easier but it is actually harder to write short. It takes practice and determination to make every single word count. It is great practice. Give it a try with this prompt: an abandoned car.
You can also check out these contests: (I don’t know anything about these so be sure to do your research on their validity and on any contests you hear about.)
Happy writing and good luck.
Desert Foothills Library Writers Connection
January 9 ● 1-3pm (special date: 2nd Friday in January)
AUTHOR SURVIVAL: CAREER CHOICES AND SELF-PROMOTION
Large publisher? Small traditional press? eBook publisher? Self-publishing? Should you find an agent? Follow the trends? In the ever-changing landscape of publishing, making the right choice at the right time for your particular kind of writing is paramount… if you want to survive as an author. As for self-promotion, there are so many opportunities on the Internet these days, it’s easy to get let it consume your entire writing time. Which venues are worth pursuing? Should you pay for advertising? What really works? It changes monthly. Get the latest tips from Vijaya Schartz, an experienced, award-winning author who’s been through it all. Advance registration required: 480-488-2286.
February 6 ● 1-3pm
WRITE THE MEMOIR YOU’RE AFRAID TO WRITE
In an encouraging, insightful presentation, Scottsdale Society of Women Writers president/founder Patricia L. Brooks helps you capture your untold story that must be told. Her workshop shares why & how to face your fears, get past the facts & conquer the story’s spiritual & emotional truth so you can write this memoir to your satisfaction. With tips and techniques from her daring second memoir, Patricia will inspire you to take the necessary steps to keep a daily journal, write weekly goals & make no excuses about your writing. She’ll stimulate your creative talents by showing you how to break through your silence to find your voice & give yourself permission to write your truth. Advance registration required: 480-488-2286.
March 6 ● 1-3pm
CREATING CHARACTERS FROM THE INSIDE OUT
How does your main character like their eggs? You don’t know? Character is PLOT! Once you know your characters inside and out, they will tell you everything you need to know about where your story is headed. But you can’t tell your characters who THEY are; you need to listen to what THEY are telling YOU. How you do that? Find out from Chris Benguhe, former celebrity reporter, now inspirational author and speaker, creative writing instructor, ghostwriter and Catholic Sun columnist. Advance registration required: 480-488-2286.
April 10 ● 1-3pm
(special date: 2nd Friday in April)
PROTECT YOUR WRITINGS
Join Maria Crimi Speth, Intellectual Property Attorney & author of “Protect Your Writings” for a comprehensive yet easy-to-understand presentation of laws that affect writers and their creative work. You will learn everything you need to know about the laws relating to writing books, articles & blogs & how to AVOID making common, costly legal mistakes. Advance registration required: 480-488-2286.
Over the summer the Phoenix Writers Club had a 55 word contest for members. We were to write a story (with a beginning, middle and end) in 55 words. Some of the members were judges and the winner won $55.00 with second at $44.00 and third at $33.00. The rest of us received certificates and all were published in the newsletter.
Here’s my submission:
The vacant windows of the abandoned farmhouse beckoned to me. I imagined the photos I’d create and raising the camera I stepped into the overgrown yard. Lost in the viewfinder I moved forward until my foot hit a wooden step. Anxious to go inside I stepped up on the porch.
It is fun to do challenges and try new things. We are all aware that publishing is changing. Genres are blending and eBooks are taking over. Flash fiction meets the needs of people who want something short they can read on the run.
Keep challenging yourself as a writer.
Take your first steps with something new, just like my mom in this photo.