RSS

Tag Archives: Iowa

A Few of My Favorite Reads

Books Read2

 

“Reading usually precedes writing. And the impulse to write is almost always fired by reading. Reading, the love of reading, is what makes you dream of becoming a writer.” – Susan Sontag

Often when I find it difficult to write, I read. I have been dealing with some life changes, some health related and probably the most difficult was my brother’s death. He was in home hospice for several months before he died this past December. I tried to spend as much time with him as I could while working full-time and trying not to neglect my husband and kids.

I wanted to write but my heart wasn’t in it. During those months when I did have some spare time, I spent much of it reading. That has always been my favorite escape.

As you can see I got through quite a few since September. I discovered some new authors and caught up with some of my favorites.

I have been a fan of Jodi Picoult for years. “Breathing Time” is her newest and it was fantastic. It was one of those stories that surprised me at the end. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone. The twists and turns will keep you up late.

Dorothea Benton Frank was an AVID (Author Visiting in Des Moines) author this past year. I picked up a couple of her books and because she talked so much about “Sullivan’s Island”, I bought it even though it was not her most recent book. She said there is a scene in there that actually happened so of course I had to read the book to find out what she was talking about.  I can’t tell you about the scene here, I really think you need to let her tell you about it. If you get a chance to hear her speak, do it. Her stories are women’s fiction – set in the south.

Mary Kay Andrew’s “Christmas Bliss” was one of my holiday choices this year. I love her books. The characters are spunky and you never know what they are going to get into. She is another author I have read for years.

I discovered a new author to me – Julia Keller. I read a couple of hers – “A Killing in the Hills” and “Bitter River”. She has a third out and I plan to get it as soon as I get my to be read pile down a little bit more. Her stories are set in the Appalachia area. Her protagonist is a prosecuting attorney who has a teenage daughter and an ex-husband. Her stories are a little more nitty-gritty about the side of life that isn’t so pretty. She has won awards for more than one of her books. If you like suspense, you will like these.

I met an Iowa author –  Heather Gudenkauf. I had read her first book a while back – ” The Weight of Silence” and didn’t realize that she was from Iowa. This time I read – “These Things Hidden” Her stories are well crafted and will keep you guessing. She also is a great speaker. It was one of those really cold Iowa winter nights that she spoke at the West Des Moines library. I ran into some writer friends and it was so worth it.

My Sisters in Crime group has a book exchange every year at our Christmas party. We share a book that we really liked. This year I got one that had been on my wish list for a while. William Kent Krueger’s “Ordinary Grace”. It was just as wonderful as I thought it would be. His protagonist told the story of a murder that happened in his hometown when he was a boy. It is no wonder he won so many awards with this book.

The last book on my list is from one of those authors that I have been reading since his first in the series. Alan Bradley writes cozy mysteries with a little girl sleuth named Flavia De Luce. It is set in England in the 1940’s and they are so cleverly written. I have reviewed some of his books here before and I continue to look forward to each new one. This one was “The Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust”. If you like cozy mysteries, you have to check this series out.

One of my goals is to read more this year. I can’t count all of these toward my goal but I am starting with this Alan Bradley novel as my first for this year.

I read for pleasure but I also read because it motivates me to write. I read novels and books on the craft of writing too but novels are what I turn to most. What do you read? Do you set reading goals?

This year I also want to review more, not just here but on Goodreads, Librarything, and Amazon. Do you know that reviewing a book could be one of the best things you could do for your favorite authors?

I hope you add at least one of my suggestions to your to be read pile.

Until next time,

Virginia

Advertisements
 
1 Comment

Posted by on January 23, 2015 in What I'm Reading

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Nanowrimo

Yesterday I attended the David Corbett workshop and it was motivating. We had lots of new faces who came from long distance to attend. The furthest was Chicago but also, Kansas City, Iowa City, Omaha, and northern Iowa. David based his workshop off of his current non-fiction book – The Art of Character. He had some great insights on using your feelings and emotions to create characters who are more than flat paper dolls you move around in your scenes. For more in depth details, do check out his book.  

The workshop was perfect timing. I always leave inspired to write and with this being November and Nanowrimo, that is exactly what I intend to do.

I am working on a romantic comedy that I have had half finished for a while. The characters keep calling to me so finally decided if I am ever going to be able to write anything else, I have to finish this project.

We have a very active Nano group here in central Iowa. We have write-ins every day in both the Des Moines and Ames area. I plan to attend this afternoon in West Des Moines to set my word count on fire. Maybe if I can get that flame hot enough, I can put – The End to this project.

Just so you know. Amy Tan will be in Des Moines on the 11th as the final author for the 2013 AVID program. She will be at Hoyt Sherman Place at 3:00. Hope to see you there.

Have a great week writing.

Virginia

 
5 Comments

Posted by on November 3, 2013 in Writing a Novel

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

David Corbett Workshop

 

My local chapter of RWA and Sisters in Crime are presenting one day workshop next Saturday in the Des Moines area. If you are close, you don’t want to miss this one.

Join Iowa Romance Novelists for a one day workshop with Edgar-nominated author, David Corbett as he presents: The Art Of Character.

Date: Saturday, November 2, 2013 from 10am – 4pm

Place: Des Moines Area Community College, Building 7, Ankeny, Iowa.

Cost: $40 – College Students, IRN members, SINC-Iowa members

$60 – groups of 10+

$75 – All Others

         (LUNCH IS INCLUDED!!)

Description:  In this workshop, David Corbett will guide students through the five stages of characterization he details in his critically acclaimed new book,The Art of Character. With the goal of helping students apply these techniques specifically to their own works in progress, he will lead the class through exercises that:

* Explore unique and compelling ways to conceive the character from the outset.

* Enrich the character through examination of one’s own personal experience.

* Deepen the portrayal by exploring the five essential qualities of compelling
characterization.

* Create character biographies that rely on dramatic scenes, not descriptive
information.

* Explore the interaction of the character and her role in the story, especially the

protagonist.

* Develop techniques for rendering the character on the page: point of view, voice,

dialog.

Register http://iowaromancenovelists.org/workshops or, for more information, email: iowaromnovel@yahoo.com

“Corbett has been quietly crafting some of the best novels of the new millennium. Human characters and tragic consequences. Corbett is one of the giants of tomorrow.”

   —Bookspot Central

For more information about David Corbett, check out his website at:
http://www.davidcorbett.com/

 
 

Tags: , , , , ,

What can I say?

Have to apologize. This summer got away from me. I have been dealing with some health issues and have let my blog and my writing slide. I haven’t totally quit writing. I have been trying to develop a new story. I got no where with it.

I am feeling better and now I am getting that old desire to sit in front of my computer for hours and make up things. My idea I have been struggling with doesn’t seem to want to come together but I do have one of my stories that I abandoned that seems to be calling me. It has some characters that I love and when I shared them with my critique group in the past, they seemed to like them too.

Take the Sweet Home Alabama premise, toss in a couple little old ladies from Keokuk Iowa who like to play the slots, a female impersonator named Merci and set it in Vegas. That is what I will be working on for the next few months. I managed to outline the story from beginning to end and have started writing. I have only a couple scenes that I will use from when I worked on it before. One where the heroine meets Agnes and Frieda on the plane to Vegas. Their seats get mixed up and the two old women are sitting on either side of the heroine. She offers to switch seats but one of them says that they couldn’t do that. If the plane crashed they wouldn’t be able to identify them. Freida is shorter and has a matronly figure. Agnes is thin and was once a looker. Agnes has outlived three husbands so far. Each one left her a little better off financially.

I had a chance to pitch this story to a couple agents a few years ago and got some positive feedback.

Plan to blog at least once a week. I won’t be doing Nano this year but I am part of a closed online group with an author friend so will be participating in our own November Writing Camp. I have already decided what my goal is. We just post our progress and chat. It’s fun and less stress.

If you are planning to do Nano, I wish you luck and happy writing.

Until next time.

Virginia

 
2 Comments

Posted by on October 22, 2013 in Novel Writing, Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , ,

Author Interview – Barbara Barrett

 

I am thrilled to be able to introduce you to my friend Barbara. We both belonged to the same local RWA chapter several years ago. She now lives in Florida but happened to come back to Iowa to spend her summer. We had lunch and a chance to catch up and she told me about her first sale. I truly find the writing process interesting. I hope you enjoy this interview and maybe pick up something that will help with your writing process.

VirginiaWhere are you from?

Barbara – I was born in Burlington, Iowa, which just happens to be the setting of my debut novel, ‘The Sleepover Clause.’ After graduating from the University of Iowa, I moved to the Des Moines, Iowa area, where I’ve lived ever since. Three and a half years ago, I became a resident of Florida and now live there half the year (guess which half) just outside the Disney Parks in the shadow of the Mouse.

VirginiaHow long have you been writing?

Barbara – Much too long to admit, considering this is my debut novel. I guess I’m the new poster girl for “persistence pays off.”

VirginiaWhat do you write?

Barbara – I write contemporary romance fiction right now. My goal is to expand my writing efforts to include cozy mysteries and maybe even tackle a screenplay. I stay in touch with both through my membership in the RWA Kiss of Death and Scriptscene chapters. (I’m also a member of the Spacecoast Authors of Romance chapter.)

VirginiaTell us a little about your publisher and agent.

Barbara – Crimson Romance, an imprint of F+W Media, Adams Media, is a new epublisher focused on romance fiction. The first releases came out in early June, with several more added each Monday. They provide five categories: Contemporary Romance (my area), Historical Romance, Romantic Suspence, Paranormal Romance, and Spicy Romance. Their website can be found at http://www.crimsonromance.com.

I don’t have an agent.

VirginiaI know that last time we talked you’d sold your first book. A little bird told me you might have some more news?

Barbara – I wish I could tell you, but since it’s not a done deal, I’ll have to get back to you on that.

VirginiaDo you outline?

Barbara – Sort of. Whoever invented the Table function on Word made writing so much easier for me to lay out my plot line and get a sense of sequencing. I start out with each entry being just the main purpose of the chapter and/or what I want to take place in that chapter. Although I still tend to overwrite the first draft, that method helps eliminate scenes that don’t progress the story. Later, I add columns for the POV character, scenes, time, time elapsed from the beginning. Eventually, I add page numbers.

VirginiaAbout how long does it take to finish a book?

Barbara – Much too long! Easily two years thus far. Now that I’m being published, I will need to step up the pace.

VirginiaWhat is your writing day like?

Barbara – I tend to write best from mid-morning to late afternoon and during the early evening. I try to write sequentially as much as possible for continuity’s sake, but that doesn’t preclude me from jumping around, especially when I’m doing revisions. I learned from this first publishing experience that in the future I have to do a much better job keeping notes as I go along for later reference. As I can work it in, I want to learn how to use either Scrivener or OneNote to do that.

VirginiaCan you tell us how you found a publisher and/or agent?

Barbara – I wish I could recall whose note I saw on which loop that spread the word about the new epub, Crimson Romance, that was seeking submissions so that I could give them credit, but that information escapes me now. I went to the Adams Media website and read the Call for Submissions there.

Virginia When will your book come out?

Barbara – Monday, September 3

VirginiaWhat are you working on next?

Barbara – I’m currently working on the second book of a trilogy about a residential development here in Iowa. The H/H in the first book are two architects who have been assigned to come up with the design plan. This second book is about the developer and the general contractor. The final will involve the marketing and interior design end.

VirginiaDo you have some words of wisdom for the rest of us?

Barbara – Nothing very original – be persistent and believe in yourself. Keep writing and improving your craft. Don’t be afraid to promote yourself. Write about what appeals to you most; writing about what you know also helps, but you can always research that part.

 

Thanks Barbara, hope you have a great book launch. Now everyone let’s go check it out.

Virginia

 
12 Comments

Posted by on August 30, 2012 in Author Interviews

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Monday Motivation

I live in a suburb close to the state fairgrounds. In case you didn’t know it, our state fair was the one the movie State Fair was really about, at least the original movie. For two weeks every year, the volume of traffic explodes. They have to set up temporary lights and have police officers direct traffic, every day. It is so busy, I usually drive out of my way to get to downtown Des Moines, to avoid it on my way to work.

Our state fair is a big thing here. People actually drive in with big campers to stay for the duration.  Unless you are a farmer, I never really understood that.The attendees come from all over the United States and probably the world.  If I go at all, it is usually just for a few hours, one day. I have to confess, I have not been there in a few years. My husband and I used to meet another couple in the evening to listen to the Blues Band.

What amazes me is that we are a state that feeds the world and for 10 days each year, we stuff ourselves with food that is not good for you. I grabbed this photo from a share site so don’t think we actually had a Road Kill vendor but the big thing this year was bacon wrapped corn dogs. There are deep fried Twinkies, candy bars, and butter. Funnel cakes, root beer, lemonade, and of course the Bud tent. Don’t picture a small carnival here. This takes up several acres and includes animal barns, a varied industries building, a grandstand for shows and more. You can go see photos that have been judged as well as cooking. Antiques and quilts. The local media set up stages so they can report from the fair daily. On top of that is the midway with all the rides and of course fireworks every night. 355 days a year people work, raise families, attend sports events and are basically pretty normal until the fair comes and everyone is ready to party.

Write about your fair experience. Write about the crowd of people, what they wore, the smells, the sounds, the tastes.

If you have not had a chance to experience a real state fair, mark your calendars for next August in Iowa.

Virginia

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 27, 2012 in Writing a Novel

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

What I’ve Been Doing Wednesday

I had to change the theme for Wednesday. Not that I haven’t been working on my project but because I don’t feel I have enough to share each week. I have written another scene even though this past week was one that I was busy pretty much every day. Before I started writing, I spent a great deal of time, ironing out my story line. I finally feel like I have it where I want it. I can’t share much about the story because I am one of those writers who has to be surprised myself. If I tell the story here before I’ve actually written it, I won’t want to finish it. I will feel like I’ve already told the story.

My word count was so small, I hate to even admit it. I wrote only about 240 new words. Ouch, that really hurt but as I said, most of my time was spent working on my outline and I do like the direction I am going now.

Other than writing, I do read a little every day, usually right before bed. I finish a book within a week or two that way. The last book I read was Susan McBride’s ‘Little Black Dress’. Loved it. I have a review to post tomorrow night about that.

I try not to watch too much television but I do look at it as research. Watched the season finale for ‘Longmire‘, a mystery series set in Wyoming. Longmire is the Sheriff. Lots of story lines that kept getting more tangled as the season progressed. Longmire is a widower and the season opened with his grieving and trying to get on with life. His right hand man, is a woman. She is married but spends so many hours on the job, her marriage isn’t looking too good. His other deputy is running for Sheriff against him, as well as sleeping with his daughter. That all came to a head toward the end of the season. Each week, there is another murder to solve. Longmire has a dry sense of humor and actually reminds me of a more laid back Indiana Jones type cowboy. I know that probably doesn’t make sense. Watch it sometime, you’ll see what I mean. If you missed it, check out the re-runs. I will be waiting for next season.

Spent my day off with friend Sara in Winterset. Where they filmed ‘Bridges of Madison County.’ We drove out to Roseman bridge, the one from the movie. Sara was surprised to see how far the bridge actually was from Winterset. It is out in the middle of no where on a gravel road. There is a house next to it that is now a gift shop. It was closed while we were there. And this is a little tidbit not shared in the movie. They say a man was hung on that bridge and that it is now haunted. Didn’t see any ghosts. Did take lots of pictures maybe to use sometime on my blog. Another little tidbit. One of my writer friends, who has since moved from Iowa to Florida, her son played Francesca’s son as a little boy in the movie.

Well, I have to get back to my novel. Hope to have a much higher word count by next week.

Happy writing,

Virginia

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 15, 2012 in Writing a Novel

 

Tags: , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: