Friday, July 21, 2017

Back to (writing) School at Fiction University

Someone recommended Fiction University to me a while back. It’s the brainchild of Janice Hardy who
created Fiction University as a way to pay forward the support and advice she received during her path to publication, and to share her love of writing and passion for helping writers improve their craft. (Description “lifted” from her “Faculty” page.)

Under the tab Online Resources, the site has valuable links to further reading on topics such as
·        Must-Visit Writing Sites
·        Agents and Querying Resources
·        Writing Conferences
·        Editors
·        Publishing Sites
·        Community Sites
·        Critique/Blog Sites
·        Author/Blog Sites
·        Blogging Blogs
·        Book Review Blogs
·        Fiction University Reader Blogs

You’ll find her well-organized Site Schedule here.

Take a few minutes to visit Fiction University and look around. I’m betting you’ll leave as a dedicated student!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Finding a better way...

Do you find yourself hung up on reading just one more great article linked on Facebook? Did you ever wish you could come back to it later? I found a (very time-consuming) way to save those links for future reference, but Sandra Beckwith of BuildBookBuzz showed me a better way in her blog post How to Save a Facebook Link to Read Later.

You’ll want to visit her website BuildBookBuzz and click on every single tab for tons of great information.

And for a daily marketing tip delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for 365 Daily Book Marketing Tips--a steal at 99 cents!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

That sticky question for writers...

I’m scaling back on blogging this week as I try to juggle grandchildren and winding up final edits on the WIP. So, this is short but sweet--and well worth clicking on the link below!

Do You Need to Request Permission?

Jane Friedman has put together a fantastic flow chart to help writers decide if they need get official permission to use a quote or an image in their own work. Also included in the post is a sample letter which can be used for asking that permission as well as some ideas for finding who to ask!

And, as this is the middle of July, you only have two more weeks for this month's FREE READ at my website.  

Friday, July 14, 2017

The temptation to vent

We all have it, some of us more often than others. But in a word--don’t.

Wasted time and space

I should’ve taken my own advice when I wrote this on my Facebook page last week:

I MUST vent.
(I’ll spare you the venting.)
I can’t stand it. I am DONE, people. DONE, do you hear?
The rant is ended. Amen.
(It should have ended before it began.)

Now--I didn’t trash anyone. I used no abusive language. But--it was, in the scheme of things, unimportant, and I couldn’t do anything about the situation anyway. Therefore, it was a total waste of time and space.

The difference between venting and speaking out

There is a difference between VENTING and SPEAKING OUT. It takes no courage at all to explode with wrath. It takes a great deal of courage to stand up and be counted for one’s deeply held beliefs.
I will speak out. I will try not to vent.

The problem is, people (and I include myself in this) seem to feel that their fellow humans are out there actually salivating to hear the pearls of wisdom which spew from their mouths (or their keyboards). The news media in particular is in such a rush to “get the story out” that they end up having to retract--and make themselves look like idiots. But I’m not writing to bash the media. They can do that to themselves.

Most people my age were taught

1.     good manners
2.     to tell the truth
3.     to keep our mouths shut when it wasn’t necessary to open them
4.     hurting people with gossip and criticism wasn’t nice
5.     that there were consequences for saying what didn’t need to be said
6.     that we would be better respected for keeping our own counsel publicly and sharing it privately when appropriate

Opening Pandora’s Box

But it’s like Pandora’s Box, isn’t it? It’s been opened, and all the nastiness has been released, and it can’t be put back inside and sealed up. However, one creature remained in the box--Hope. I’ve read the story of Pandora (from the 1939 volumes of Child Craft) to my granddaughters, and I love the ending of this myth adapted from American author Nathaniel Hawthorne:

“As long as you live,” said Hope, “I promise never to leave you. Sometimes you will not be able to see me, and you will think that I have gone away forever. But again and again and again, when perhaps you least dream of it, you shall see the glimmer of my wings on the ceiling of your cottage. You must trust my promise that I will never leave you.”

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

A peek in the bottom drawer

Today I’m going to treat you to a peek into the bottom drawer of my file cabinet where I keep story ideas. But let me warn you--it’s full to overflowing--and I’m well aware I won’t live long enough to write all the stories begging to be told! (This is why I have the Small Person who writes almost as much as she reads!)

A few ideas from the many folders

14th Scottish Castle Losing Its Fight
Pickin’ and Ginnin’ at Louisiana’s Frogmore Plantation
Ex-Police Chief Arrived in Arkansas in Covered Wagon
Civil Rights
Slaves, Freedmen Spied on South During Civil War
Civil War
One Couple’s Civil War:  Letters Trace Civil War for Writer’s Forbears
Winecoff Hotel Fire, Atlanta GA, December 7, 1946
Former Lunatic Asylum Now a Lure for Ghost Hunters
Human Interest
Chaplain Receives Medal of Honor 62 Years After Death
World War II
“We had to do it”--When the men went to fight, the women did the jobs left behind
Western History
Buffalo Bill Wild West Performer Reburied

And these random clippings/print-out I pulled from bulging folders are only the tip of the iceberg!

How do you write from a story already written?

1.      Choose a story and read it carefully.
2.      Jot down any points which touch your heart or make you wonder.
3.      Create a new setting.
4.      Create new characters.
5.      Create a plot from a key word--example “reburied” or “had to do it” or “letters”.
It’s not so difficult after all. And with a drawer full of articles collected from newspapers or printed out from the computer (I probably have 50-60 pages of information on the Winecoff Hotel fire!) you’ll never lack for ideas.

Getting started

1.      If you take a newspaper, clip articles which catch your eye. You don’t have to read them immediately. If you subscribe online, copy and paste to a document.
2.      Pick up flyers and brochures wherever you travel or stop in.
3.      Carry a notebook and jot down what you see and hear.

The most important part!

Set up a filing system with labeled folders. It takes much less time than you imagine to fill those folders. If you don’t have a filing cabinet drawer available, get one of those “banker’s boxes”--they’re reasonably sturdy and hold a lot. But GET STARTED! Time is passing, stories are being lost--and you aren’t getting any younger. And if you have a Small Person in your life, encourage her imagination and creativity every day!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Wherever the road leads...

I always loved Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken”. However, we can’t take all the roads out there. We must have our priorities--and most of us have to budget for them!

Some people just start driving, but I prefer to pre-plan a trip with the option to go elsewhere and/or stay longer. When I look back on the traveling I’ve done, it’s the impulsive getting-up-and-going that stands out.

From South Carolina to Texas

A few years ago, I thought about how, despite living briefly in South Carolina, I’d never visited Charleston. Now, it seemed, was the time, so I found a wonderful package with Southwest Airlines, made reservations, announced my unavailability for munchkin-duty, and took off. Looking back, it was one of the easiest trips I’d ever taken. Staying at the wonderful art-deco hotel, the Francis Marion, in the middle of the historic district, I had access to everything in the area via the free trolleys which came and went from the corner--not to mention a tour that picked me up at the door--and transportation to and from the airport.

Just last November I decided it had been way too long since I’d visited the Stockyards in Fort Worth. A few clicks of the mouse provided hotel reservations in the center of this bustling tourist attraction, airline reservations, and transportation to and from the airport. Once there I enjoyed a free shuttle to and from nearby museums, courtesy of the Hyatt.  I could have stayed forever. (Not afforded to stay, you understand!)

Road trips by the day or week

Less expensive road trips provide wonderful options. A day trip just up the road to Mt. Ida introduced me to wonderful folks in a small town as well as “mining” for gemstones a few miles from there. Another time I hopped in the car and took off for Hope, Arkansas, let me wander back in time at Washington Historic State Park (town est. 1824, served as the Confederate capital of AR 1863-1865) Later I drove between three battle sights of a Civil War campaign here in Arkansas--three days, three nights of historical lore.

But the most charming trip I’ve taken recently, one which inspires me to take more like it, took me to the tiny towns of Ozark and Paris. Wandering their squares, standing in front of buildings which I wished could talk, meeting friendly folks who appreciate visitors to towns which have seen better economic days left me with warm feelings. When another stop fell through, I sat in a parking lot and looked at the map--discovering I was only a few hours drive (via the “Pig Trail”) to Eureka Springs, one of my all-time favorite places. I took off! One finds definite advantages to visiting tourist meccas during off-season.

What are you waiting for?

A friend asked, “Where are you going?”

And I replied, “Wherever the road leads.”

Whoever wrote, “On the Road Again” (Willie Nelson sang it!) knew the adventure and delight of the roads yet to be taken.

I’m already making plans. What about you?

Friday, July 7, 2017

Chasing away the dreaded Summer Slump!

The Fourth of July is over, summer’s heating up in most places, and the thought of “vacation” is either past, coming up, or simply non-existent. It’s the dreaded Summer Slump! And if you’re a writer, that can segue into fall…and winter…and spring…

As usual, I’ve had my grandchildren several days a week this summer. They’re companionable little creatures, and we do “Mimi School” on a relaxed schedule. One keeps her nose in a book constantly! However, I found myself in the middle of rewrites/edits/more rewrites of a novel just as summer began, so I couldn’t afford to step away indefinitely--especially when this novel has been hanging around on my computer for something like four or five years!

So--onward! I just printed out ($$forthelasttime$$) a rewritten x 4/edited x 3 ms of The Legacy of Diamond Springs, a romantic suspense with no fewer than TWO love stories, an historic setting, a cast of baddies bent on revenge, and long-buried family secrets literally oozing up from the grave. This is no time to stop. Also, I’m trying to keep up my three-blog-a-week schedule.

So how does it all get done with munchkins underfoot and the temptation to say, “Hey, it’s summer--time for a vacation”?

So far as the blogs go, I plan then a month in advance from several sources:

2.      A list of past blogs to reprint or tweak
4.      Musings about, excerpts from, character sketches related to my own work
Once I have my blog calendar filled out, it’s simply a matter of writing--and, of course, doing any research related to the topics.

But I’ll admit the rewriting and editing is more difficult. Sometimes I pack up Penelope the Lappy or grab the purple notebook with the printed ms and take off for a place where I’m not distracted by real life. The local McD’s comes to mind--or a sandwich shop in town where you find lots of folks busy at work while they munch. Sometimes, if I can schedule it just right, I go “visit Al” at the Ohio Club downtown. There’s something about slipping into the cool, dim depths of Mr. Capone’s old hang-out which encourages slipping into the imaginary world of my story and its characters.

Kicking the Summer Slump to the curb and keeping it there requires determination, focus, a little imagination, and a lot of get-up-and-go.

How do you deal with your own Summer Slump?