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Shining Nugget of Hope

In my writing studio, I wonder at the shining nugget of hope that sustains my focus on being a writer.

I look inward and ponder.

Then, I write…

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Wisdom from Hemingway

“I learned never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it.

Ernest Hemingway

Okay, I’ll admit it–if I am going to pick a book to read, it probably won’t be Ernest Hemingway. I respect his work, and his wisdom. This quote speaks to me and soothes me when I cannot write as much as I would like. Life often gets in the way of writing. I am learning to designate those times as “filling my well” of creative energy.

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OWFI 2015, part 1

OWFI 2015

Confession time—I have registered, and paid, for the Oklahoma Writers’ Federation Inc. Conference twice before, but I failed to attend even one session. This year, I showed up and attended. I attended 11 workshops over two days. I am glad that I gathered the courage to get out of my car and walk inside.

The OWFI team was welcoming and organized. The Embassy Suites did a great job hosting the meetings. The presenters were outstanding!

The sessions I chose to attend were in two categories: marketing and writing. I am a good writer, but inexperienced at actually selling my work. I am also a rusty writer.

Here is a first round of reviews from the sessions I attended.

I appreciated “Revising Like  a Professional” workshop presented by Maria Snyder. She is a college professor and author who brought a very helpful set of guidelines. It was concise and upbeat. I took away a strong sense of how streamline the editing process so that it gets out of the way of the creative action of the first draft.

“Self-Editing” was presented by Sara Henning. Sara is an editor and author who brought a wealth of practical expertise to the discussion of editing your own work. I found the discussion of consistency to the especially helpful. Much of grammar and usage can be stylistic. She affirmed that as long as you have a good reason and remain consistent, it is okay to make some stylistic choices.

“How to Hook Your Reader on Page one…and Keep Settling the Hook Deeper on Every Page Thereafter” was presented by Les Edgerton. I enjoyed his dissection of the film, “Thelma and Louise” for story structure. I found myself dissecting my own novel-in-progress in the margins of my notes as he illustrated some basic story structure terms in an aggressive analysis of the film: Inciting Incident, Crossroads, Story Problem, Magic Room, Backstory. While all of these terms should be familiar to even beginner writers, Edgerton’s experience and teaching instincts brought their immediate importance into sharp focus. Sadly, I missed his keynote presentation at the Author’s Ball Friday night. I heard that it was outstanding.

“World building From the Ground Up: What color is the sky in you mind?” was presented by Trisha Leigh. Leigh is a successful cross genre author with great marketing experience. She conducted an active discussion of the nitty gritty of world building even using excerpts to help highlight the importance of getting the details of story world right. She uses Scrivener to write, as do I, so I appreciated the way her organizational skills fit my writing style. I enjoyed Leigh’s input in this and other session during the conference. She has an engaging style of marketing which is intriguing to me.

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May 2015 Bookshelf

Of course, I am hooked goodreads.com where I keep track of what I read, have read, and will read.

I just finished reading, The Lost Wife by Alyson Richman.

On my currently reading bookshelf:

A Higher Standard: Leadership Strategies from America’s First Four Star General by  Ann Dunwoody

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

The City Stained Red by Sam Sykes

The Fall of Hyperion by Dan Simmons

Next up

Honeymoon by James Patterson

Justice is for the Lonely: A Kristen Kerry Novel by Steve Clark

Devil in the White City by Erik Larsen

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March 2015 Bookshelf

March 2015 should have been a big reading month because of a lovely beach vacation. Somehow, I failed to become engaged in reading, but enjoyed Mexico. I did enjoy books by two favorites: Nora Roberts and Robyn Carr.

The Right Path by Nora Roberts

Informed Risk and A Hero for Sophie Jones by Robyn Carr

There was another book on my list, but I abandoned it. I will not list it here, but I will say that the structure of the novel was difficult for me to follow. I had a tough time connecting with the characters, and even distinguishing between the narrators.

 

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April 2015 Bookshelf

In April I read the three novels in The 100 Series by Morgan Kass. I enjoyed the first two seasons of the show, The 100, on CW which deviates from the books in a very interesting way. I am obsessed with the idea of humanity surviving for several generations on an orbiting station. Well done, Morgan Kass.

The 100 by Morgan Kass

Day 21 by Morgan Kass

Homecoming by Morgan Kass

The Secret Life of Cee Cee Wilkes by Diane Chamberlain

 

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January 2015 Bookshelf

2015 kicked off with the discovery of Enchanted, Inc series of light hearted supernatural detective novels by Shanna Swendson and a re-reading of a classic by Nathaniel Phillbrick.

Enchanted, Inc. (Enchanted, Inc #1) by Shanna Swendson

Once Upon Stillettos (Enchanted, Inc #2) by Shanna Swendson

In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Phillbrick

Lady Be Good by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

 

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February 2015 Bookshelf

Mortal Fear (Mississippi #1) by Greg Iles

Obsession in Death (In Death, #40) by JD Robb

 

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Research for Writing

Research for writing is one of my favorite things. I can sit at the computer for hours digging deeper and deeper into the knowledge on the web relating to any topic. What car would have been available in 1940? In what colors? Did the windows open? Was there a bucket seat or bench option? What does it look like along the road from one place to another? Weather on any date in modern history? I can do this all day.

When I was young, however, information was found exclusively in books and printed periodicals. My grandfather gave us updated sets of the World Book Encyclopedia throughout my childhood. There was always a hefty dictionary on our bookshelf, as well. I had the luxury of doing a certain amount of research at home. To look beyond the encyclopedia or dictionary, we had to go to either the school or public library to get an encyclopedia reference or use the reference section to find resources.

At some point, probably in mid-high, I learned to access information using microfiche and microfilm. I loved these machines. I would check out newspapers on microfilm. They came in little folders stored carefully in wide drawers in the back of the library. To find the exact newspaper on a certain date, you looked in an index books. There were dozens and dozens of indexes. You could search for a name, location, subject, or topic. Then, you requested the microfiche you needed. These resources were valuable, and well guarded by librarians.

Each slip of photographic film was printed with tiny images arranged in a grid. Each small rectangle was the page of a newspaper or periodical. The film was placed between panes of thick glass on a reader. The process was very satisfying, but slow. To retain a copy of the materials you needed, a copy had to be made. Usually, this cost a quarter. You had to be using a microfiche reader with a copier attached. I still remember the chemical smell of the warm paper as it came out of the machine.

Today’s access to the internet is a wonder to those of us who learned to do research old school style.

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Ramping up the Pace

In My Writing Life, I have struggled with progress. I love to write, need to write, and yet I struggle to make progress on a regular basis. I tend to write in binges. Those jags of writing have been scattered and unorganized. It has frustrated me for the past few months. I set goals but somehow never reach them.

Recently, I took time to inventory each project I have begun, note its progress, and status. Then, I recorded this information on a spreadsheet. It was immensely helpful to see each project, its status, if it had been submitted or published, and other descriptors. I am certain that this simple system will develop into a more complex tool over time. For now, it helps me to see what needs work and what is stagnated. There are several projects on the brink of completed. That informs my work flow for the next day, and lets me see progress. I also know that good push will get three more stories ready to be submitted for consideration.

 

I am a new writer, so I don’t have much going on in terms of submissions. I do have some submission which I track those using Duotrope. It is a solid resource that helps me to find places to submit my short stories and track the progress of each one. Duotrope has a huge database of information about publications and their policies. It has been a valuable learning tool for my writing life.

 

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