Three Sites to Improve your Writing

8:42 on Sunday morning. A big flock of robins came back yesterday, to feast on the fermenting tiny crabapples on the trees out front. And red-winged blackbirds. Now, they are reliable. Spring must be coming, even though it’s still -8C with the windchill this morning.

Sarah Selecky is a writer and teacher of writing. At the link, among other resources, you can sign up for daily writing prompts. As it happens, I like writing prompts and had some of my first success at Wynter Blue Publishing. They ran a monthly contest—24 hours to write a short story including three provided words.

Sarah asks that you write longhand for 10 minutes, daily, in a notebook, in response to a prompt which may be a word or a writing style or a pov. When I signed up, I wasn’t sure about spending those 10 minutes on a creative exercise. However, it turns out it’s not only a good way to jump-start a writing day, but fun. The prompts drag up long-buried memories and ideas. Today’s reminded me of the head nurse of the ICU in one of my training hospitals, more than forty years ago and her vendetta against orange peel in her wastebasket.

I was scrolling through my saved articles again today and came across one titled 5 Key questions to Ask as You Write your Novel. The author was C.S. Lakin, another writer and teacher. Good advice, worth posting on a sticky at your desk.

Ten Literary Devices and where to Find Them in Science Fiction, a post by Annalee Newitz on iO9 makes the devices clear by referencing popular movies and television. I especially liked onomatopoeia, demonstrated by the entire Klingon language, from Star Trek.

That’s about it for today. I’m about a third of the way through a revision of my work in progress and must get back to it.

2 Books on Writing and more revision

A gorgeous winter morning here in the Kawartha Lakes. Yes, I know it’s spring but somehow the weather forgot and sent us -20C temperatures(with the windchill) and 5 cm of snow, but a lovely day, none-the-less.

March, 2015

 

Lately I’ve been reading books on writing again, besides continuing to follow Janice Hardy’s 31 day novel revision. Today, her topic was “Sharpening the hooks and tightening the pacing. http://blog.janicehardy.com. Lots of useful information on her website. I recommend it.

Noah Lukeman’s respected The First Five Pages has a chapter on the sound of prose. I had one of those “oh no” moments after reading it last night and I’ve been struggling with the first 6 sentences of the 1st paragraph of my work-in-progress all morning as a consequence. It’s difficult to evaluate the sound of prose without reading it aloud. My computer will read the work to me, but what I need is a computer that will listen while I read to it. Or a patient friend.

I’ve started Margaret Atwood’s book on writing Negotiating with the Dead. I love her conversational, funny style.

My preferred writing programme is Scrivener, which is great, and during revision allows me to move scenes around. However, that can lead to further problems especially with the time line. Today, it meant dissecting, dismembering, destroying a favourite scene. There, alliteration again!

Back to work…

 

 

 

 

Signs of Spring amidst Revision and Marketing

Ides of March. For Americans, the taxman cometh. We’re waiting for spring, a spring the weather gurus tell us is going to be delayed. No one told the buds on the chestnut trees out front. They started to swell before the deep freeze ended.

Work goes on. Marketing and revision of my work-in-progress. In June, I’m joining Barbara Kyle’s Master class for revision of my first thirty pages.

The Child on the Terrace is still in advanced copy mode but soon I must send the final changes to the publisher. Most of my  reviewers, busy people all, have yet to get back to me.

Revision is difficult work, akin to juggling multiple objects rather than a simple set of coloured rubber balls. I’ve been following a blogger, Janice Hardy who calls her site Fiction University. She is half-way through a month of blogs on the process and very useful they are. Today’s is here, http://blog.janicehardy.com/2015/03/day-fifteen-clean-up-description-and.html#more but all the previous blogs plus a great deal more is available on her site. Well worth multiple visits.

This week I attended a dinner and lecture at the Canadian Club. The speaker mentioned a local artist, long-deceased, named W.A. Goodwin. As it happens we have one of his watercolours. When I bought it, I investigated him and found a lengthy newspaper record. He lived to almost 100 years old and was a well-know citizen. I did some of his family genealogy as well. Magpie that I am, I kept it all.

After the meeting, the manager of the local museum called me and asked to see it. The museum is mounting an extensive show from an archive of material the researchers acquired on loan from the family. I was pleased to contribute our painting and some of the information I’d gathered to their archive. Find the museum here: http://www.oldegaolmuseum.ca/exhibits.html

The museum created a Facebook page for W.A. with pictures, paintings, diary entries and more. An interesting and charming page.

https://www.facebook.com/W.A.Goodwin

 

Buds on chestnut trees, March, 2015

Buds on chestnut trees, March, 2015

 

 

 

 

 

10 Literary Devices

I was browsing my writing files today. You know the kind, a dump for every website or blog you come across that has information that might be useful someday. I have two: Writing about Writing and a catch all Writing Stuff. Interesting items in both, especially one about writing devices.

Writing devices have names like aporia and pathetic fallacy and if like me, you’re a writer whose last formal English course was in 1st year, the definitions are murky at best or absent at worst from memory. The website below discusses 10 and relates them to Science Fiction, mostly movies, that make the use clear. Annalee Newitz posted it in 2012 and it’s well worth a read.

http://io9.com/5930325/10-literary-devices-and-where-you-can-find-them-in-science-fiction

Beautiful day in Southern Ontario and the weather promises to be seasonal and sunny for the next week!

I’m revising my WIP and still marketing The Child on the Terrace while waiting for my reviewers. If anyone would like an ARC, please let me know.

http://booklaunch.io/10202081974970941/54ccf3fd68a94f561bcb20af

Four Writing Resources

It’s March 1, St. David’s day, patron saint of Wales. Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Sant. Here in Kawartha Lakes it’s a bit warmer than it has been. -6C rather than -25C, but we’re going to get a bit more snow. But it’s the first of March with twenty more days until Spring arrives, we hope.March, 2014March, 2013March, 2013March, 2013

Wild Turkeys at Elora, March, 2014Wild Turkeys at Elora, March, 2014(photo Anne Simpson)

And yet Spring still came each year.

I attended a workshop at University of Guelph on Friday, March 20, to hear Barbara Kyle talk about the writing process. She is a generous teacher and at the end of the workshop session gave each of us access to a tutorial series online that she recorded some years ago. It is an excellent review of everything from Style to Getting Published. I’ve been listening to one tutorial a day before beginning the day’s work of revision. Invaluable.

If you haven’t heard her speak or visited her website, I recommend it. Barbara Kyle.

Writing resources can be anything from excellent teachers to books on grammar, from programmes like Scrivener to a friend who’s willing to read revisions. Over the years, I’ve found all of these and more.

1. Writescape

2. Barbara Kyle

3. Writers Digest

4. Scrivener and Scapple at Literature and Latte.

And then there’s marketing. I’m still searching for reviewers and will send copies either e-book or trade paperback on request.

Check out my booklaunch page for information about The Child on the Terrace.

Marketing and Revising: Ways and Means and Help

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Setenil de Las Bodegas, Spain, setting for The Child on the Terrace

I spent most of this week learning about marketing. Earlier, I received a series of e-mails from Nick Stephenson, writer and teacher of marketing about “Your First 10K readers“. He supplied 3 videos on the subject. Well worth the time spent, if only for the insight into how Amazon and other on-line retailers find books, but also for the methods of applying that insight to one’s own books. I haven’t applied his method as yet, mostly because, as I have a publishing contract, choosing such things as category and key words isn’t up to me. However, I shall put together a plan and suggest it to the publisher, Cambridge Books.

Laurence O’Bryan at Books Go Social offers a great service, connecting authors with each other and customers.

I’m revising my next book, working title Saving Fillide. One bit of advice that keeps popping up is to “kill your darlings”. and I did just that, moving the opening of the book to the third chapter. It has made for a more suspenseful opening, but in the process, I lost some back story and one subplot that needs to go back in but in a different place and manner.

Barbara Kyle, at a Turning Leaves, a Writescape retreat, suggested a book by her agent, Al Zuckerman, called Writing the Blockbuster Novel and it is immeasurably helpful in revision. I’m attending a workshop Barbara is giving on Friday, Feb. 20th at the University of Guelph Writers’ Workshop on Crafting the Bestseller; Your first 50 Pages and know I will learn more. She is an excellent teacher.

The Child on the Terrace is now available on major e-book sites. Connect through the link to my book launch page.Winters_Child_RT_jpgSM copy2

Author interview with Max E. Stone

Author Max E. Stone has just released an exciting thriller, One Minute There, book 3 of his William/Bennett/Johnson New England  series.

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RUN…

Two torturous months came and went

Detective Bennett refuses to give up on finding his daughter

Even as the authorities of New England and beyond, trailing the blood in the girl’s wake, devised a ruthless manhunt to bring her back

Well aware of the young woman’s fragile state, Bennett is determined to locate her first

And terrified to learn that he and the officers aren’t the only ones looking…

FOR YOUR LIFE…

Tucked in a hideaway past America’s borders, courtesy of her only trusted connect as of late, Melissa is sure she’s safe.
That is until the hammering knocks at her door threaten her world, her sanity…

And her life.

THERE’S ONLY ONE WAY OUT…

Max answered a few of my questions about his writing life.

How do you choose your setting?

The setting comes from the places I visit and eventually fall in love with. New England, which happened to be the origin for the Warren-Bennett-Johnson series, was one of those places. If I go to a city or a country and love it, I work it into the story.

What does the setting contribute to the suspense?

Once I select the setting, I look at the places that I have physically explored and then see if I can add my own brand of suspense to them. Sometimes, I will ask others who live in the location about the history of certain landmarks as well. Other times, I do the research on my own and create the suspense.

Do you do site-specific research?

Depending on the story, yes. If I like a certain landmark for my story, I research it more and then talk to others who live there to get an accurate feel of the place.

Detailed planner?

After I figure out what the story is going to be about, I just write whatever comes to mind and then plan out the chapters as I go along.

Do you pull details of setting or characterization from your own life or your imagination?
I try to add both my imagination and real life details to any setting I use, giving the fiction that added bonus of realism. As far as characterization, I definitely use elements of me. That’s how I make my characters into people that my readers can see themselves in or identify with in some way.

Thanks so much, Max, and best of luck with One Minute There.

You can find copies of One Minute There by following the links.

 

Max E. Stone