“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” Pablo Picasso
Although talking about writing Billi Joy Carson started her recent talk at Dog-Eared Pages Bookstore with this quote. As an Editor, Ghost Writer, Blogger and a number of other titles Billi Joy knows about the love/hate relationship many writers have with grammar and editing.
One example, that some of you will remember from the movie/book Love Story was how e e cummings actually changed his name so he could break the rules of capitalization and punctuation.
As you can see from Billi Joy’s photo she is full of energy and humor. She made grammar fun, even for this reluctant editor.
A few helpful suggestions Billi Joy shared were:
**Readers don’t read like you talk so don’t write that way.
**”Enthusiasm always trumps good writing.” Her example was the Twilight series, which I haven’t read, so judge for yourself.
**If you submit “lazy work” to major publishers you won’t make it through the first read. Even a misplaced comma can put your manuscript on the back burner.
Some of the books Billi Joy suggested are:
Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss
Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors by Kathy Ide
Writer to Writer: Lessons Learned From a Lifetime of Writing by Cec Murphey
The Christian Writer’s Manual of Style by Robert Hudson
New World Thesaurus
Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary
Chicago Manual of Style: 16th Edition (fiction) and the Associated Press Manual of Style (articles)
Decide what your actual goal is.
Are you writing just to make money?
Are you writing to reach out to just one person and make a difference?
Another great meeting at Desert Foothills Library in Cave Creek, Arizona featured Marcia Fine.
Marcia grew up with her grandmother and mother in South Florida. She knew from an early age that her family had a unique story. Her grandparents were from Warsaw. Although they left before the Nazi invasion many family members didn’t make it out. As an adult she received a stack of letters written in Polish, Yiddish and High German from her grandmother.
She pulled the story together into a novel based on her family history. Paper Children: An Immigrant’s Legacy is an amazing story of three women coming into their own. It has won numerous awards and led Marcia, a past English teacher, business owner, and motivational speaker to share her talents with others.
At DFL Marcia had the audience write about their own memories. She helped, through various questions, to find the stories that need to be written and get started on that important journey. Try writing about the following question from her list: Were there any family feuds?
You can learn more and see the cover photo of her grandmother by going to Paper Children on Facebook and pressing “like.”
Marcia shared actual letters with the audience. The Nazi emblem has been stamped on the envelopes.
Marcia is currently touring Arizona as the winner of One Book Arizona a literary program for promoting local authors. The Blind Eye is about parallel stories set in 15th century Portugal and Spain when a family is forced to flee because of their religious beliefs. The story links to a modern woman with a new career and an unexpected romantic relationship.
Marcia’s writing career started with a series of satyre books about her life and some of the people she has known since moving to Scottsdale, Arizona. She had the room laughing along with her as she read from many of her books.
One Book is a nationwide literacy program which started in Arizona in 2002. Each year adult, children’s, and now teen books are chosen for everyone to read and attend community events.
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.