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R is for Recharge

“Not writing is probably the most exhausting profession I’ve ever encountered. It’s very psychically wearing not to write – I mean if you’re supposed to be writing.” – Fran Lebowitz

Sometimes you reach a point where your batteries are dead. No matter how long you sit in front of that blank screen the words elude you.

When that happens it’s not the time to quit but it may be time for a break to recharge. Some people call it filling the well.

Go read something, watch a movie, tour an art gallery, take some photos, listen to music, and go out for something to eat. Use your senses and re-charge your batteries. Then plant your butt and write.

Virginia

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2012 in Writing a Novel

 

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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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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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H is for Hooks – Forktail Dinger, Snapper Slapper, and Googly Worm

“The whole point is to hook people and keep them interested.” – Penelope Ann Miller

Writers are a lot like fly fishermen. They spend a lot of time trying to create something to hook the reader (or fish) and pull them in.

Fly fishermen can spend days trying to create the perfect lure, the one that will catch that elusive fish in the pond. They get their inspiration from nature. That’s why some lures resemble insects.

As writer’s we don’t have too far to go to get help with our own writing. Just as the fly fisherman looks to the world around him, we can look to the books we love. What did that author do that pulled you in and how can you take that trick and make it your own?

Because a hook is so unique, it is often the first piece of the puzzle in developing a writer’s voice.

If you are going to open by introducing a character, make him charismatic, someone the reader will be drawn to and want to spend more time with.

  • Shock the reader with a first scene that ends in a way that the reader didn’t expect and can’t put down.
  • Ask a question the reader will stay up late to find the answer.
  • Hook the reader fast. If you can’t hook the reader by that first scene, do it at least by the end of that first chapter.

This should be a great week for writing, as long as you have air conditioning.

What have I been reading? – Just finished Miss Me When I’m Gone by Emily Arsenault. It was an arc I won from Librarything recently so will have a review on there and Goodreads soon. It is the story of two women, friends from college. One a successful author working on her second book when she falls down the stairs of a library after a book signing. Turns out it wasn’t an accident. Her first book was called Tammyland. All about the women of Nashville and country music but mostly about Tammy Wynette and the similarities between her and the fictional author’s mother who had been killed when the fictional author was a child. The protagonist of the story is a pregnant journalist and is asked to be her friend’s literary executor to finish the second book. She feels compelled to complete the project before she delivers, knowing she won’t have time after the baby is born. While questioning the same people her friend interviewed, notebooks and a couple laptops are stolen and though she knows she may be asking questions of a murderer, she continues. The first book I’ve read by this author and I would read more.

How is your writing project going and what have you been reading lately?

If you’re in the Des Moines area, the next AVID author event is Meg Cabot, Thursday July 10th at 7:00pm, Hoyt Sherman Place.

Virginia

 

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Welcome Back to My Original Site

For those of you who have been following me, I apologize for this move.  I decided to start fresh for 2011 with a better focus on my blog. Close friends know of the struggles I’ve had this past year with things mostly out of my control.  By coming back to where I started the first time, I hope to move my focus back to my writing. I do also need to apologize to those authors I have asked for interviews and hope they will hang in with me until I can contact them and get their information posted. I will be emailing them soon to schedule their blog interviews. Yes, I do want to include more new interviews this year. I do want to blog more often, at least once a week and hopefully twice.  I want to share my journey to becoming a novelist and I do plan to do more book reviews. I plan to share interesting information for both readers and writers. I will also start adding content from my recently discontinued blog site so that all the interviews will be in one location. I hope to share interesting posts and look forward to reader participation and comments.

 
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Posted by on December 11, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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