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.
Barbara Hinske was the featured speaker for The Writers’ Connection at Desert Foothills Library in Cave Creek, Arizona. She lives in Phoenix and is an attorney. She has written two books. They are fun and entertaining with strong characters. What she does to promote her writing is amazing.
Barbara’s first book, Coming to Rosemont, is about a forensic accountant, Maggie Martin, who inherits Rosemont, a beautiful home in the Midwest. She moves there and finds corruption, a furry friend, new love and a town that quickly becomes home. Book two, Weaving the Strands, takes Maggie deeper into the city council corruption and the joys and problems of living in a small town.
Both books have been self-published and Coming to Rosemont has sold over 40,000 copies, mostly in eBook format. Her marketing strategy includes a strong internet presence, word-of-mouth and public speaking. She was named the top debut author at her first appearance at the Tucson Festival of Books. Rosemont was also named the best in women’s fiction by BookBub.
On her blog, and linked on Facebook, Barbara writes her ‘bedtime stories.” The first one was “The Night Train,” written in 100-300 word sections, four nights a week. Her first installment had 6,000 hits. She is now writing “The Enchanted Bookshop.” Both can be found through her Web site, blog and Facebook. Besides a regular FB page it is important to have an author page which is separate but linked.
It is vital that self-published authors have their manuscripts proofed. She hired people both for the line edits and proofreading. The same goes for formatting and cover design.
She says to “just ask people” as professionals are often willing to help and sometimes the rules can be set aside.
Long before the book is finished the author must start building her email list and learning about all the possibilities for promotion and sales. Barbara reads and studies writing and publishing every day. She keeps up with trends and new avenues for promotion. Book reviews on Amazon and Goodreads are important. Special promotions through Amazon, BookBub, and other online sources can make a big difference but be sure to read all the fine print.
Besides her “bedtime stories” Barbara has a “Downton Abbey”fan page on Facebook. She has recently been asked to write the reviews which may lead to a permanent paying job.
Barbara shares her vision of the perfect home in the guise of Rosemont on her pinterest account.
With all of that marketing and social media Barbara continues to write. She gets up every morning and spends two hours “duct taped” to her office chair. Evenings are for social media.
Barbara Hinske is knowledgeable and inspiring. Remember she does all of this on top of a full-time job, caring for her home, husband and two spoiled dogs.
Once a week I meet with a special group of writers known as the Writers Inspiration Group. Each person takes a turn at leading for the week and comes prepared with two or three prompts to share with the group.
Prompts can be a sentence story-starter, pictures from magazines, a newspaper article, an artifact of some kind or anything.
Once all the writers have the prompt they start writing as quickly as possible. We don’t think about where the writing is going, or grammar, or spelling. We just let the story or memory unfold, writing quickly for about ten minutes. Then we share what we wrote or pass. We don’t critique or judge. We just share. Then move on to the next prompt.
This week the leader brought in some old writers magazines: Poets and Writers, Writer’s Digest and The Writer. We were to open one up and find something that caught our eye and start writing.
I found the following sentence:
“Many surprises come with writing.”
Here’s what I came up with:
Creating characters and worlds and moments in time. I often hear “I don’t know where that came from” which is one of the joys of writing. Having a basic idea grow on the page and become something more than you ever imagined, or thought you could imagine.
Characters that develop from a basic vision or someone you saw at the lunch counter to somebody with a back ground, loves and hates, fears and dreams.
Finding a way to voice your inner most thoughts by letting words flow freely – writing stream-of-conscious and having your head and heart flow down your arm and onto the page.
Seeing a story in a newspaper or on the Internet that has you asking “What if?” and finding answers in your imagination.
That is where I find my joy as a writer and why I will never stop putting pen to paper.