A New Writing Position

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Have you noticed the new button on my sidebar? It looks just like the one pictured above, and I’m so excited to share with you that I have been accepted to become a new columnist for the “Almost and Author” blog. It’s a blog that is really more like a website and it offers so much to writers — those just starting out as well as those who’ve been writing for a while. There are posts for every genre, posts on the writing craft, posts on grammar, and so much more. I will be writing four posts a year for the Historical genre and four posts a year for the Romance genre. Since my WIP is a Historical Romance, I am qualified to write for both genres that my one genre encompasses. My first post will appear at the beginning of March in the Romance genre.

If you’re a writer or are interested in becoming a writer, and you haven’t explored the A3 website, I encourage you to do so.  And I hope if you have an interest in writing  in the Romance genre, you’ll check out my March post on the A3 website. The “Almost and Author” website is on the following lists:

Writer’s Digest Top 101 Best

Websites for Writers

The Write Life Top 100 Best

And, we were just added to the 50 Best Writing Blogs in 2018

 

An Upcoming Writers’ Conference

I know, if you follow me on Facebook and Twitter, you will be seeing this as a repeat of a Facebook post and a Tweet I shared last week. However, for those of you who follow my blog but not my Facebook or Twitter, I don’t want you to miss out on this news. There is a one-day Writers’ Conference coming to Harrisburg, PA on Saturday, October 21,2017. Mike Dellosso, who is a wonderful writer will be teaching some great workshops. I would love to meet some of your fellow bloggers/writers at the conference. Find out more about it, by clicking “Creative Writing for Everyone”.

I will definitely be there, so if you can attend, please be sure to introduce yourself to me and let me know you follow my blog.

If you want to know more about Mike, I did an interview with him here on this blog two years ago: “Meet Author, Mike Dellosso”.  I’ve also done some reviews on books he’s written. You can find them by clicking the following titles: Centralia, and A Thousand Sleepless Nights, which he wrote under his pen name, Michael King.

I’ve heard Mike speak at conferences as a keynote speaker and as a workshop teacher and he always inspires me. I look forward to attending this workshop and hope to meet you there.

Top Ten Tuesday

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Today’s Top Ten Tuesday theme is a FREEBIE as determined by The Broke and Bookish.

Therefore, since I could choose WHATEVER I wanted to create a list of, AND because I am a writer, I decided to do “Top Ten Books on the Writing Craft That I Hope to Read This Year”.

  1. & 2. Wired for Story: The Writer's Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence by [Cron, Lisa] & Story Genius: How to Use Brain Science to Go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel (Before You Waste Three Years Writing 327 Pages That Go Nowhere) by [Cron, Lisa]

I finally ordered and just received “Wired for Story” by Lisa Cron. I have heard so many good things about this book from other writers. I can’t wait to finally dig into it! Then there’s Lisa’s newest release from 2016, “Story Genius”. I’ll be looking forward to getting my hands on a copy of this one too.

3. 

Okay, confession: I have already started reading this one. But, I’ve only completed chapter one. I ran into an issue in my WIP (work in progress) and thought this might help, and I’ve already discovered and corrected my biggest issue, after just reading one chapter, so I can’t wait to see what the rest of this book has for me!

4. Story Trumps Structure: How to Write Unforgettable Fiction by Breaking the Rules by [James, Steven]

This one has been recommended to me several times by other writer friends, so it still lingers on my TBR list. I did just order it and should receive it into my hot little hands by February 1st.

5. 

This one sounds like a book every writer needs. I read about it, as it came recommended by K.M. Weiland, who has great writing advice.

6. 

I don’t intend to write a screenplay, but I’ve heard this book recommended for book authors as well.

7. The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller by [Truby, John]

This, too, comes highly recommended to me by other writer friends.

8. 

My son recommended this book to me a long time ago, but also informed me that Robert McKee tends to use some profane language in it, so I have steered clear of it so far. Then a Christian writer friend recommended it to me and I asked her about the language, and she didn’t remember there being any. So, I guess I’ll take a chance. I can always do like my son said a friend of his did and cross out the inappropriate words with a black sharpie. (The only problem with that is I have to see the words to cross them out.)

9. & 10.  & Elements of Fiction Writing - Conflict and Suspense by [Bell, James Scott]

Yes, I am a James Scott Bell fan. He gives writing advice and tips using some great examples that I am familiar with. He includes some writing exercises to help you apply what he’s teaching. I have read two of his books, and like I mentioned above, I am currently reading another one of his books on writing.

What type of books did you share about on your TTT today?

A Productive Writing Activity and a Great Writing Resource

If you are a writer, do you have a tribe? I do. I actually have a few and each of them is important to me. So, what do I mean by a tribe? Well, there are the two writing groups that I am a member of – one national and that tribe is almost all online and is useful for contests, helpful advice and tips, and some good critiquing; the other group is local and it’s great for connecting with other writers and learning new aspects of the writing craft on a monthly basis. Then there’s the critique group that meets every other Tuesday and that’s where I get lots of good feedback on my writing. But the tribe closest to my heart is a small group that I kind of grew on my own. I just shared with a couple of friends that I was writing and they asked questions and were very interested in writing as well. As we talked, we decided it would be a great idea to form our own group similar to C.S. Lewis’s Inklings group, and so we did. We meet once a week to just write, although we often share ideas, brainstorm together or ask each other’s opinions of something we’ve written.

The most fun thing that we do, though, is, we pull an all-nighter once or twice a year. That means we get together on a Friday evening and spend the entire night writing or doing writing related things. This past Friday night we did that and I prepared and scheduled four blog posts and revised and edited four chapters of my WIP, pretty much starting one of those chapters all over. I wrote over 1,000 new words on my WIP.

Now, for a great writing resource: if you do not subscribe to Writer’s Digest Magazine, I highly recommend it. I recently received my February 2017 issue and there are some great articles on ways to “Get Organized, Be Productive”. There are a couple of fascinating articles about some really good authors and so much more.

I have written the following quotes on index cards to post in my writing area to encourage and inspire me, and they came from the February 2017 Writer’s Digest Magazine’s articles:

“The job of the writer is to ignite a fictional daydream in the brain of the reader and then step away and become invisible so the story becomes the reader’s own. You don’t want them to even know you are in the room.” — Archer Mayor

“I have multiple goals to achieve in each paragraph. Sometimes it’s clarity, sometimes humor, content or giving the reader nuts-and-bolts information to take away.” (You can add or change any of these to fit your genre.) “I am trying to write the best-written __________ book the reader has read all year long.” (Fill in the blank with your genre.)                                                                                        — Archer Mayor

“There is no bad writing. There’s only writing that needs more revision. When staring at the incoherent shambles of an early draft, wanting to pour gasoline on my laptop and set it afire, I tell myself this and get back to revising.”    — Eric Scott Fischl

Good stuff, right? Every issue is packed with stuff like this!

Some Great Writing Tips

This past Saturday, I attended the Lancaster Christian Writers’ monthly meeting.  Laurie J. Edwards, who also writes under many pen names – one of which is Rachel Good, gave us some great information and had our minds churning about our current WIPs.

Three resources she suggested for writers are:  Inside Story by Dara Marks, Wired for Story by Lisa Cron, and The Anatomy of Story by John Truby.

Laurie shared that the two most commonly missed elements missed in novels are:  Character Arc and Theme (Moral Argument).  She shared that even fiction that is not specifically “Christian” should include a theme, otherwise a book may be popular for a while but it will eventually fade away.  She mentioned about current popular series for kids/teens that have great story lines and action; they keep the readers turning the pages, but at the end of the book, there’s no real takeaway because they lack a good, strong character arc or they lack a theme.  That’s why in about ten years or so, they will fade away; their popularity gone.

Laurie pointed out that all good stories should have the following pieces:

Premise:  logline, one sentence; essence of the story — every decision is based on this                          decision.

Theme:  Moral vision of how people should act in the world.  Express through action                          and story structure to surprise and move readers.

Central Conflict:  Who fights whom over what?

Fundamental Change in Character:  could the character at the beginning of the story                                                                                       do what he/she does at the end?  How and why is                                                                                     he/she different?

She shared the following from John Truby’s book, The Anatomy of Story:

Seven Steps of Story Structure

  1.  Weakness or need – moral and psychological; hero unaware of these flaws.
  2.  Desire – Story goal; must be intimately connected with need.
  3.  Opponent – not preventing hero from goal; wants the same goal.
  4.  Plan – defeat opponent and reach goal.
  5.  Battle – confrontations escalate until final conflict.
  6.  Self-Revelation – hero recognizes weakness
  7.  New equilibrium – fundamental and permanent change.

*Psychological Need: a flaw that only hurts the hero.                                                                              *Moral Need: a moral weakness that hurts others.

Her talk was filled with lots of great little tips and advice that had my friends and I really thinking about things we need to change in our current WIPs (work in progress) to make them better, or things to do to make our stories “unputdownable”.

Laurie has lots of experience as an author, speaker, and editor.  You can find out more about her and her books at https://lje1.wordpress.com/

How about you?  Have you heard or read any great writing tips or advice you’d like to share?

 

Upcoming Writers’ Conference in Lancaster County

PRESS RELEASE: LANCASTER CHRISTIAN WRITERS HOSTS ONE-DAY CONFERENCE ON APRIL 16, 2016, AT LANCASTER BIBLE COLLEGE

Are you an aspiring writer seeking to hone skills, become market savvy, consult personally with editors/authors—all on a budget? Then join us at Lancaster Christian WritersSuper Saturday 2016!! April 16th, 2016, from 8:30am-4:30pm at Lancaster Bible College, 901 Eden Road, Lancaster, PA, 17601. This one-day writers conference offers a dual track of workshops in fiction and non-fiction. Early registration price of $50 is due by Wednesday, April 13, and includes soup/sandwich buffet lunch and LCW membership. Registrations after April 13 and walk-ins day of the conference are $60.

Non-fiction faculty include writers conference director and author Marsha Hubler, professional writer/editor Hana Haatainen Caye, transformational speaker and novelist Tracy Higley, and award-winning Toastmaster speaker and author Michele Chynoweth. A fiction track will be taught by award-winning novelists Gayle Roper, Mike Dellosso, and Dwight Kopp.

Workshops cover such topics as:

  • Can You Say Satisfying? Creating the Inspiring Moment.
  • Keep ‘Em Wide-Eyed! Sure-Fire Techniques for Writing Hi-Octane Suspense
  • From Book to Bestseller: You Are Your Own Best Publicist
  • The Delicate Art of Creating Villains
  • Non-fiction That Sells: Making Your Article or Book Irresistible to Editors
  • Style: Uncovering Voice and the Power of Identity.
  • The Business of Writing: Making Money as a Freelance Writer.
  • Impactivity: Pursuing Your Writing Dream with Passion, Balance, and Joy

A conference bookstore will offer a wide variety of writer resources and faculty titles. Personal consultations with faculty are on a first-come, first-serve basis. Author/editor/conference director Marlene Bagnull and award-winning novelist/collaborative writer Jeanette Windle are among auxiliary faculty offering personal consultations.

More information, including the Super Saturday 2016 Flyer/Registration Form and Press Release can be found at Lancaster Christian Writers Today (http://lancasterchristianwriterstoday.blogspot.com/) OR email LCW president Jeanette Windle at jeanette@jeanettewindle.com.

Mail Super Saturday 2016 registration form (or relevant info) and check or money order payable to: Lancaster Christian Writers, c/o Jeanette Windle, 1776 Euclid Drive, Lancaster, PA 17601. For credit card/PayPal payment, request invoice at jeanette@jeanettewindle.com (preferred) or call 717-209-0011 after 4 PM.

I have attended LCW’s Super Saturday conferences for the past three years and am already registered to attend this one!  I always learn something helpful or make a valuable new contact or make a new friend, and I have heard all but one of these speakers before and they do an excellent job!  So, if you write or want to write and live in or near Lancaster County, plan to join us for this Super Saturday Writers’ Conference!

Winter Writers’ Retreat

Several months ago, I received an email from my writing friend, Lisa at Lisa’s Musings, talking about the possibility of having a Winter Writers’ Retreat.  She asked me for ideas and she shared her ideas with me.  Then we talked about what the schedule might look like and how we could keep it very low cost by simply having a simple lunch of sandwiches and salads and a dessert, with drinks and snacks available throughout the day, and the lunch would be all that each person would have to pay for.  Lisa also ran the idea by our friend, Donna at Donna L. H. Smith, who helped with some activity planning, getting the word out and registration.

So, this past Saturday, February 27th, seven (counting Lisa) of us got together at Lisa’s house for this retreat.  Donna asked us to introduce ourselves and share what type of writing we do and how long we’ve been married and how many children we have.  Then she opened with a devotion and prayer.

Lisa had asked me, during the planning, if I would be willing to lead an activity.  She gave me two choices and I chose the one I felt was the less daunting of the two.  🙂

Therefore, after the opening devotion and prayer, I led a creative writing exercise.  I was relieved when everyone found the exercise to be so much fun.

After the creative exercise, Lisa gave us two characterization exercises and two setting exercises and we spread out around the downstairs of Lisa’s beautiful home to spend some time writing, using at least one of these exercises.  I actually used a combination of one of the characterization and one of the setting exercises and I applied them to my current work in progress.  I think the creative writing exercise we started with helped to get my brain into writing mode.  (Of course that was the purpose.)

The next thing we did was break into two groups and we each shared about something we are currently struggling with in our work in progress, whether it was a plot problem, problem with a character or with the setting, or something else.  Then the others in the group helped to brainstorm to come up with ideas to work the problem out.

During lunch we had conversation about upcoming writers’ conferences, what we thought of the retreat up to that point, self-publishing and the possible challenges that would include, flash fiction and blog writing.

After lunch we had a critique group, where Lisa shared the critiquing process — a way to help and encourage the writer, not rip their work to shreds — to begin with a positive, then point out something that could use some work or fixing up with an idea or suggestion for that, and concluding with another positive.  These things need to be specific to be of any real help to the writer and the people doing the critiquing need to consider the Big Picture.

We ended with another prayer and an excerpt from a book that Lisa recommended for encouragement.

I cannot speak for any of the other ladies, but I found this day so very helpful.  I was able to leave there with a fresh excitement about writing, especially working on my work in progress.  I had been struggling with something before that and so the brainstorming for story problems was a huge help with that.  I also really enjoy being able to share with other writers because they understand me and I understand them.  We can help and encourage one another and that is so valuable.

Everyone left with a desire to do another retreat in the future.

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This was the great group of ladies who attended, minus Donna, who took the photo.

I encourage all of you who write to find a group of writers you can spend time with talking, sharing, brainstorming, problem solving, and encouraging one another.  You may even want to consider starting your own small writers’ group or hold your own small simple retreat like the one we just had.  Writing is a solitary activity and can be stressful.  It’s good to step out of your writing closet and breathe some fresh air and spend time with others who understand your struggles and the way your mind works (you know, that you talk to your characters and stuff).

Have you been to a writers’ retreat?  Do you belong to a writers’ group?

Three Books Every Writer Should Have

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If you are a writer and you don’t have these three books:  The Emotion Thesaurus:  A Writer’s Guide to Character ExpressionThe Negative Trait Thesaurus:  A Writer’s Guide to  Character Flaws, and The Positive Trait Thesaurus:  A Writer’s Guide to Character Attributes all by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi, I highly recommend that you get them.

I bought the Emotion Thesaurus almost a year ago and have been using it a lot.  I keep it beside me as I write a novel, and I refer to it often.  I bought The Negative Trait Thesaurus and The Positive Trait Thesaurus with Christmas money and I am so glad I did.  They were my resources for helping to create the three main characters in my new WIP (work in progress).

If you find yourself overusing tags or struggling with how to “show” instead of “tell”, or are having problems creating characters with different personalities and having them express themselves appropriately for their personality, these books can lessen or take away the struggle.

The Negative and Positive Trait Thesaurus give you a personality trait with its definition, similar traits, the possible causes for that trait, behaviors associated with the trait, associated thoughts or emotions, positive and negative aspects, examples from film or literature, how your character can overcome a negative trait, traits in supporting characters that may cause conflict with this character, and challenging scenarios for a specific positive trait.

The Emotion Thesaurus gives you an emotion, its definition, physical signals that show that emotion, internal sensations caused by that emotion, mental responses to that emotion, cues of acute or long-term emotion with other things it could escalate to, as well as cues of suppressed emotion, and a writer’s tip.

I find these books helping me create richer, deeper characters, as well as better written stories that “show, don’t tell” what is going on in the story  — stories that will draw my readers in.

What are some of your favorite writing resources?  Please tell me in the comments, as I am always looking for great writing resources to learn from.  I believe it’s important to never stop learning our craft.