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Monthly Archives: July 2012

Tuesday Tip

Writers Conferences and Workshops and What to Expect

I have attended several different writers’ conferences over the years. Everything from a Regional Conference for RWA to Love is Murder for mysteries and a National RWA conference in Anaheim. I have seen some very good conferences come and go, like Mayhem in the Midlands – a mystery conference held in Omaha, NE every year that folded last year.  There was another conference in Kansas that was strictly for the cozy mystery genre that I kept saying I wanted to attend.  It too is gone.

If you are a serious writer, there are several reasons that you should think about attending:

  • Workshops to learn craft.
  • Network – get to know others in the industry.
  • Chance to meet an agent or an editor and pitch your story.
  • Meet authors – learn the ropes from someone who knows what they are doing.
  • Get out of your little circle to see what the real world of writing is all about.
  • Support others in the industry.
  • Keep the conferences alive.

I am unable to attend a big conference this year but plan to attend a workshop in Minnesota in September. I have banned myself from anything larger until I complete my current project. Just the anticipation of attending is a motivation for me to get more words down on the paper.

I have several friends who got their break by pitching to an agent or publisher at a conference so I know how valuable they are. I met one of my critique partners, Shirley Damsgaard, at Mayhem in the Midlands several years ago. She had just sold her first book and we had lunch together. I was so impressed by her marketing plan for that first year, that I remembered her. Months later, heard her do a radio interview and discovered she was talking to a reader’s group the same night my writer’s group met at the local Borders. I dragged my group over to hear her and then she had something to eat with us afterwards. She remembered me from the conference and we have been friends since.

Conferences are fun, plan to attend one. Maybe I will see you at one some day.

Virginia

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Posted by on July 31, 2012 in Uncategorized, Write a Novel

 

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M is for Motivation

“If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” – Toni Morrison

Motivation is what makes you want to do something. If you write, it’s a longing that can only be expressed in words.  If I ignore it, I tend to get grumpy.   I know when I’ve been away from words too long. They call to me. It’s like they build up inside and eventually I have to spill some out.

Reading feeds my motivation. Sometimes because the words are so right, but sometimes even if they aren’t it can motivate me to do better.

Sometimes when I am working on a new project just planning the story and developing characters can pull me into the project motivating me to complete it. The story can lure me into spending more time with it. Those are the nights when I come home from work and wish all I had to do was grab a peanut butter sandwich and sit down in front of the computer and spend the evening with my fictional world.

A goal can help feed your motivation. It’s an end, something to aim for, a reason to continue. But don’t ignore the journey. Getting into the zone can motivate too. It’s intoxicating to reach that point where you are focused only on your work and time goes by without your noticing it.

What motivates you to write? What keeps you going?

May you write what you’ve been wanting to read, this week.

Virginia

 
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Posted by on July 30, 2012 in Write a Novel

 

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L is for Listen

Dialogue adds another depth to storytelling but it can be tricky. It not only needs to sound authentic but each character needs to have an individual voice.  Pay attention to those around you and make watching television and movies an exercise in listening to those speech patterns you can use in your book.

A fifteen year old rapper is not going to sound the same as a retired 70 year old English teacher, or a captain of a shrimping boat in Louisiana, or a farmer in the Midwest, or a Valley girl. Think about location as well as time frame.

Using the proper slang can make or break a character. When it comes to dialect though, a little goes a long way. If you ever tried to read the comic strip ‘Lil’ Abner’, you know what I mean.

Al Capp's Li'l Abner # 85

Al Capp’s Li’l Abner # 85 (Photo credit: Felix_Nine)

Listen to the dialogue as you write. As you edit, take time to read what you’ve written aloud. You will catch not only errors in dialogue but common errors in your writing, as well. There is something about hearing it out loud that makes the mistake obvious.

Have some fun with the characters and listen to your words each step of the way.

Have a great week writing.

Virginia

 
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Posted by on July 28, 2012 in Write a Novel

 

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House of Many Shadows – Book Review

I recently suggested this author, Barbara Michaels, to a writer friend. I have to confess, I read several books by this author years ago and thought I’d read all of them. I was wrong. I discovered a few more that I must have missed and this is one of them.

House of Many Shadows is about Meg Rittenhouse, a young woman who was hurt in an accident and has been experiencing hallucinations. Her doctor said her mind was playing tricks on her. A wealthy relative offers to let Meg move into one of many homes she owns to recuperate. The home, a large mansion in New England, comes with a caretaker, Andy Brenner, whose family once owned the home. Meg soon discovers that Andy has his own issues and she suspects her cousin has allowed him to stay to recover also. A romance begins to blossom while they discover that the hallucinations that start up again are shared. Meg is relieved to know that they are not further evidence of her mental health but isn’t sure how to deal with the fact that the home may be haunted.

The two work together to dig into the homes history and discover who in the netherworld is trying to get their attention and why.  They also find themselves the target of the previous renter; a dangerous artist who is an alcoholic and harasses them. The home is stock full of antiques and the former tenant attempts to steal them.  He and his wife are dangerous and Meg and Andy are never sure if the ghostly activity is real or the tenant trying to scare them.

All in all it was an enjoyable read. I would recommend it for anyone who likes cozy mysteries with a little paranormal.

Have a great week reading.

Virginia

 
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Posted by on July 26, 2012 in Book Review

 

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WIP Wednesday

With this post, I will try to keep you updated on how I am doing with my project. I won’t call it a novel until I am further along and I won’t talk about the story because I don’t want jinx myself by sharing too much too soon.

What I will tell you about is the stage I am in with the project. I have written a few scenes and again felt like I was floundering. My critic came to visit and stayed. I started doubting myself again.

I want to get the first draft done before the end of September. I am going to a writer’s workshop in Minnesota and I felt it would give me a good date to aim for.

I have been working on plotting and outlining and reading everything that I could get my hands on about the subject. I found several books online that have helped.  I have been reading so much about outlining, that I volunteered to present a workshop on the subject this past Saturday at my CIFW (Central Iowa Fiction Writers – a local chapter of Romance Writers of America).

The workshop went well. I didn’t do anything embarrassing, at least; I had read so much about the subject I felt comfortable talking about it. The best compliment came from one of our published authors, the Sparkle half of Sparkle Abbey. She said I’d helped her figure out something with the current story she was writing.  The workshop was hands on and those present seemed to get absorbed in their work, so I was happy.

My goal this week is to complete my outline and actually start writing and keep writing.  When I have completed the outline, I will calculate the number of words per day I will need to do by the end of September and share the number of words written each week with this weekly post.

Your assignment is to help keep me motivated and moving forward.  As you can see, I am planning to post more often, not daily but several times a week. Writing here seems to make me want to work on my wip, so I will do what I need to do to get it finished. I enjoy blogging and it makes me feel a little more connected to the writing community.

If anyone would like to share their writing methods feel free to chime in. How much do you prepare before you actually start writing?    How do you stay motivated every day? Do you have a special time of day that you write and is it consistent? How is your writing going?

Until next time,

Virginia

 
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Posted by on July 25, 2012 in Write a Novel

 

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Tuesday Tip

It is easy to take a few days off and then find it difficult to get back into your story. What works for me is my book bible. It’s a binder where I keep everything about the story. You can set it up anyway that works for you. I have a section for Characters, with sketches that include their goal, motivation, and conflict. I also have a section for Setting, Plot ideas that include a scene list or outline, research, and the current draft. If I get pulled out of the story, this is my lifeline.

I also keep a book journal where I write about my story and where it is going. I write down information pertinent to the next day’s writing. It is all about the story but it is a place for me to work out details and ideas. I don’t use everything I write down, but it is there if I need it.

I keep a notebook handy for ideas on me all the time but it is not the book journal. My book journal is kept at home.

What are some of the ways that you keep yourself involved in your story?

Hope you have a week of no distractions.

Virginia

 
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Posted by on July 24, 2012 in Write a Novel

 

Monday Motivation

This is just for fun.  I like to use prompts sometimes to get going. I write a scene jumping into the story with the prompt.

Driving down the road you come upon a car accident and you recognize the vehicle…

What did you come up with?

Happy writing.

Virginia

 
 

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