Saturday, June 2, 2012

One thing that sucks about writing

Do you want to know one of the things that truly sucks about writing? (Tough, I’m going to tell you anyway.)

You’ve just spent HOURS writing the final 5000 words to your short story – and you love it. Okay, it’s only a first draft, but it’s all you hoped it would be. Sit back. Relax. Bask in the glow of your brilliance. You have earned it.

Then, you remember. Oh ya, there was that portion at the beginning that you couldn’t figure out how to handle. The part you skipped, just so you could keep writing. The part that now you MUST figure out and perfect. No editing until you actually finish the story. Even if finishing is at the beginning. *&^^$&(

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Tuesday Doesn’t Suck

I had a lot of fun writing my short story Tuesday Sucked. I got to explore, and eventually succumb to, my inner Mickey Spillane. That said, Tuesday is my favorite day of the week.

It started years ago. I’d go to the Greece Barnes and Noble, grab a table in the coffee shop by the window, near the one public outlet (&^%!), and write. With Bose noise suppression headphone playing Sirius Radio’s Escape, my mind was free to traverse the universe as I imagined it. B&N soon became my favorite place to write.

Over time, some of my writer friends would join me. We’d push tables together to create our own Kingdom. I bought an adapter to change those two outlets into six. We’d write, pass work to one-another, talk through a story problem or situation. Friends would see us there, sit down and talk a bit. Sometimes, longer than a bit. It was all wonderful.

About the time Phil found a straight day job, Joanne had been showing up less and less. She didn’t want to drive “all the way to Greece” every week. Eventually, the group dispersed. Soon, other friends stopped by, almost all of them writers. But they weren’t there to write, they were their to talk. Writing became less possible. At first, I resented it. I was there to write, damn it. That’s what I wanted to do.

I’m not sure when it happened, but one week I couldn’t go to B&N at my ‘normal’ time. Okay, you would say, just don’t go. Well, it wasn’t that simple. I was expected. People were coming to B&N so we could meet up. It was no longer a coincidence we got together – it was part of the weekly plan; and one I didn’t want to miss.

It’s been years now that we meet on Tuesday at 1:00 ish. Pat G. shows up soon after, with Pat K. about 3:00. Me with two poets. Amazing.

I sit with my laptop, ready for research. (We told you, Pat, that line isn’t in the song.) What do we talk about? Poetry, news, firebox insets, translating Spanish to English, politics, fools, idiots and ne'er-do-wells. Jung, religion, Don Larson and work ethics. We talk about truckers dealing with freezing gas lines, submarine duty and exploring space. There is no predicting where the conversation will go. And I love it. We will move the day if someone has a conflict. It’s a nice time with good friends and the highlight of my week.

Then, there are those special Tuesdays, every other week, when I go to the Greece library for a writer’s group. We are a small family I don’t see at other groups. We don’t always meet. Sue has an obligation on 2nd Tuesday. Kim teaches. Tippi has to travel to her cat shows. But, we always want to know what is going on, and with such a small group, get to follow a story someone is writing. Second and forth Tuesdays are the best. At the end of the day, I feel replenished and ready for another week.

All-in-all, Tuesday sure doesn’t suck.

PS: Yes Kim, second Thursday is special too.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Local Writer's Groups

I have tried to compile a list of local open writer's groups. If I have missed any, please let me know.


R-SPEC: Rochester Speculative Literature Writers Association
http://r-spec.org/

R-SPEC is a group of writers, readers and thinkers in the Rochester NY area, that exists to celebrate and create speculative literature. We hold public meetings once a month to discuss new ideas and critically examine the literature we care about. You can help by joining us at a meeting, or becoming a member.

When: First Tuesday of the month
Time: 7:00PM
Where: Barnes & Noble Pittsford, 3349 Monroe Ave, Rochester, NY
Contact: 586-6020, barnesandnoble.com

* * *

Word Weavers Critique Group

"Word Weavers of Western New York is a Christian writer's critique group in the Greater Rochester/Finger Lakes Region devoted to helping Christian writers follow God's creative call. Pursuing excellence, we seek to sharpen one another's writing "as iron sharpens iron," (Prov. 27:17) helping writers of all skill levels, beginners to advanced, hone their word crafting skills and reach publication goals. However, we are open to members of all faiths and welcome all writers regardless of religious background or beliefs.

A sister group of the original Word Weavers Christian Writer's Critique Group in Orlando, FL, and now part of the national CWG Word Weavers organization, we meet monthly in Henrietta, 6:30 - 9 p.m. We invite you to join us!"
Rachel E. Dewey redswritings@gmail.com

When: Second Tuesday of the month (August is a picnic/social gathering)
Where: 32 Wildbriar Road, Rochester, NY 14623
Time: 6:30PM
Directions: Wildbriar Road is just off East Hennrietta Road, just south of the Genesee Expy. The entrance is on the right. Look for the sign. (I thought it was a road the first time I say it.) Pull around to the front and follow the signs after you enter the building.


* * *

Kimberly Wehner’s writing group

This group is believed to be the largest group in the Rochester area. Moderator Wehner starts each session with a brief talk on the topic of the day, then will supply a writing prompt for a ten minute free write. Everyone will be invited to share what they have written (no one is forced). The next hour (or so) is spent critiquing short pieces from the group.

When: Second Thursday of the month
Time: 7:00
Where: Barns & Noble Greece, 330 Greece Ridge Center, Rochester, NY, 14626
Contact:
Kim Wehner (Facilitator) run_in_place@yahoo.com
Steve Yates writingsbysay@yahoo.com

* * *

Write The Night Away
When: Third Friday of every other month
Time: 7:00PM
Where: Golisano Gateway, St. John Fisher College
Directions:
Drive to the Main Entrance of Fisher at the intersection of Rt. 96 & East Avenue.(which at the point becomes 96 and 31F. There is a light there. When you enter the main entrance ,you will immediately veer to the right (don't go straight) where you will see a sign that says CREATIVE WRITING WORKSHOP. The AB parking lot will be on your direct left with another sign telling you to park there. There are a group of buildings toward the east. Park as close to them as you can get. When you walk toward them, there will be another sign (and my husband) directing you to enter the Scalny Building. There are signs every few feet in the building which lead you directly to the Golisano Gateway where you want to be.
Contact:
Dee 385-7310


* * *

The 2000 Word Club at Pitsford’s Barnes & Noble.

SHORT STORy writers, MEMOIRistS, CREATIVE ESSAYists, FABLErS, humoristS, PROSE POEtS, EXPERIMENTALists, FLASH FICTIONalists... Share your writing with us, hang out, discuss craft issues. Our only requirement, that you are wildly enthusiastic about good prose writing—yours, ours—that weighs in less than 2000 words.

Where: Pittsford’s Barnes & Noble, 3349 Monroe Avenue, Rochester, NY 14618
Time: 7:00-
Contact:
Len Messineo 585-338-9164 wordfoundry@frontiernet.net

* * *

Lilac City Rochester Writers (LCRW)

LCRW, located in Rochester, NY is a non-profit organization dedicated to developing writers of all genres. Our goal is to help guide members along their individual writing paths.
http://lilaccityrochesterwriters.blogspot.com/

When: Fourth Saturday of the month (Check the web site at lcrw.org for exceptions.)
Time: 10:00AM
Where: Gates Town Hall, 1605 Buffalo Rd, Rochester, NY 14624
Park in the main library lot. Use the entrance is on your left, the police entry. The room is the first on your left.
Contact:
Patti Olesik: pattimo44@aol.com

* * *

Writing: A Way Through Grief

People who have experienced the death of a loved one and are looking for active ways to express and manage challenging grief reactions will find this group helpful. Each session addresses a specific theme, includes time for “hot writing,” sharing of home writing, and support for personal exploration. The focus is on using writing as a process to discover and connect with feelings; it is not so much about producing a polished finished product. Music, art, and poetry are used to inspire writing and provide additional opportunities for creative expression.

*Phone interview with Cathy Spoto is required prior to participation.
*sponsored by Lifetime Care Center for Compassion and Healing
*facilitated by Cathy Spoto
*eight sessions, beginning in September, 7-9PM, meets 1st and 3rd Tuesdays
*located at Lifetime Care Center for Compassion and Healing, 3111 Winton Rd. South

* This program is limited to 12 participants.
* Contact Cathy at 254-6983 or c.spoto@frontiernet.net to register or for more information.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The writer that doesn’t write

Most writers experience writer’s block at some time. Truthfully, I don’t think that is my problem. I have ideas for stories. I start stories. I just don’t finish stories. I lose interest. (The curious part is, while I don’t write, I still think about them.)

My nephew got married on the 1st. My brother, his father, made the most wonderful speech about how much Justin means to him and how proud he is of all his accomplishment. I later learned that I wasn’t the only one brought to tears.

I sat down that evening to capture my feelings to share with all my friends. You haven’t seen it because I didn’t write it. I have my memories of it, but I know they will fade over time. Yet, I cannot force myself to write it.

Deb Dixon’s fantastic presentation at an LCRW sponsored conference had me chomping at the bit to write my novel. I got the spreadsheet filled in. I have a new white board with ideas and scene outlines. And I have lost interest.

Another short story, what I feel most comfortable writing, is off to a start that has everyone I have shown it to excited. It sits. I just don’t have the interest to work on it.

So, I critique. I am comfortable critiquing. I presume that not everyone is blowing smoke when they say they like what I return. (You are very likely to receive 1000 words of opinion on your 3500 word manuscript.) I do get satisfaction from this portion of writing. But, it seems the best I can hope for is to be mentioned in someone’s forward to their novel.

Don’t get me wrong, I know all the platitudes: Butt in the chair; write, write, write; writers write; perspiration trumps inspiration; etc.
My issue, I have lost the desire to write. I’m not sure how to get that back.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Window Star

Window Star
By S. Arthur Yates


Resplendent, they appear.
Strangers, unwelcome.

Polite, always polite.
Strangers, unwelcome.

Details few, words hollow.
Strangers, unwelcome.

Notification - complete.
Strangers, unwelcome.

The drape, arrives later.
Strangers, unwelcome.

Blue star to gold.

Strangers
Unwelcome



(A blue star is placed in the window when a loved one goes to war. If they are missing in action (MIA), the star is changed to silver. If they are killed in action (KIA), it is changed to gold.)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Speculative Fiction

The other night I was reading (on my Kindle) Delia Sherman's delightful short story Wizard's Apprentice.

It is the story of an evil wizard living in Dahoe, Maine. It even says so on the sign hanging outside his shop:
"Evil Wizard Books
Z. Smallbone, Prop"

Part way through the story, a runaway breaks into the bookstore, blah, blah, blah. Eventually the wizard hands the intruder his business card. The card says:

"Evil Wizard Books
Zachariah Smallbone, Porprietor
Arcana, Alchemy, Animal Transformations
Speculative Fiction
Monday-Saturday. By Chance and by Appointment"

Did you notice that in the list of evil things the wizard will do, Speculative Fictions is so bad it gets its own line? Don’t get me wrong, I love that line. I laughed out loud when I read it. Yet, I couldn’t help but think that the best humor has an element of truth.

I don’t know how speculative fiction got to be the ugly step-child of writing, yet just the mention of it will cause a nerve paralyzing eye-roll. (I'm waiting for the day when my mother’s warning that “you’re face will stick that way” comes true.: “What happened to your face?” “Oh, some fool mentioned fantasy. Didn’t even look to see who might overhear.”)

“I don’t read fantasy. I just don’t understand it” If you haven’t said it, you’ve at least heard it.

People, almost everything Disney does and has done for over sixty years is fantasy: “Cinderella”, “Beauty and the Beast”. And, PLEASE give me a piece of the action Disney rakes in at its theme parks.

The stories you read to your children, “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” “Jack and the Beanstalk” “Little Red Riding Hood” – speculative fiction.

Please don’t try telling me you didn’t watch any of the Star Wars movies because they were science fiction. And don’t kid yourself, “Pirates of the Caribbean” is fantasy. (I will grant that any movie staring Johnny Depp is a must watch.)

“Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas” is science fiction. So is “The Time Machine by H. G. Wells. I know you know the stories and suspect you liked them.

If you try telling yourself you don’t love everything Pixar does, I will call you a liar to your face. It is all speculative fictions.

(And, don’t get me started on that Romance you’re reading. IT’S A FANTASY.)

I’m not asking to be at the top of your reading list, but when it’s time for the family photo, may I please come out from behind the tree.

Friday, April 29, 2011

From Nancy Kress' Blog

This is from Nancy Kress' Blog, posted WITHOUT permission

http://nancykress.blogspot.com/

Monday, April 25, 2011

Norwescon. Last Day

Today I did something I almost never do at cons: blew off a panel I was supposed to be on. I asked Michael Swanwick to take my place on the Human Evolution panel (which he did) so I could attend the editors' panel on the future of small presses. I'm glad I did. Rose O'Keefe of Eraserhead Press ("We publish bizarro fiction"), Patrick Swenson of Fairwood Press, and Lou Anders of Pyr were interesting and informative.
Among the points they made:

Hardcover sales are down, but e-book sales continue to rise, now accounting for 9% of all book sales. In SF and fantasy, this number may be higher because we are a wired-in group. Gordon Van Gelder thinks it may top out at about 35%.

Publishing, like music, is increasingly developing strong niche publishers, who do a specific kind of book which in itself becomes a "brand" that readers look for; Eraserhead is a prime example.
Lou added that, "Unfortunately, hard SF itself is increasingly becoming a niche, which only small presses like Nightshade do, except for big-name authors who already have a following." (The Pyr catalogue, I noted afterward, is almost all fantasy titles).

From Lou: "E-books will be the new mid-list," with hardcovers mostly going to either big-name authors or to the spectacular, expensive collectors' editions done by, for example, Subterranean.

Nobody wants to publish short story collections, which do not sell well.

Bookstores may eventually become display centers where you go to see what's new, with one or two copies of everything on the shelves, then order what you want either from a Print-on-Demand machine in the basement or on-line for your e-reader. (Some of us already use bookstores in this manner.)

But the big agreement was this: It's the Wild West out there in publishing, a time of tremendous change. Stay tuned.

Posted by Nancy Kress at 6:55 AM 0 comments

Monday, April 11, 2011

How does it feel to be under critique the gun?

A new member of Lilac City Rochester Writers (LCRW) participated in a critique session we held last month. Last night she asked how it feels to be under critique the gun? This is my reply.

That is an interesting question with a very complicated reply. A successful critique depends on a couple things: the critique group and the receiver of the critique. I'll talk about the latter first.

It's your work -- you know what you want. No one uses everything they hear at the critique. The trick is to recognize what is useful and what is not. If you have a good group, their objective is to make your story better. To help you make it the story you want it to be.

I once took a class run by award winning author Nance Kress. When my piece was read, I got 13 critiques. I gave Nancy’s comments more weight than the others in the class. That said, I felt no pressure to make a change just because someone suggested it. However, when six of the thirteen people made the same comment, I looked at that very seriously.

Another important thing you need at a critique is to have a thick skin. I am twenty times the writer I was four years ago, when I started writing, because I don’t let my ego get in the way. You must be able to say, “Thanks, I’ll think about that,” then move on.

A critique is not the place to defend your work. Don’t get me wrong, it is very legitimate to say you were trying to do something, as long as your purpose is to find out why it didn’t work. (“I put clues (somewhere) to help the reader figure it out. Why didn’t they work? What do I need to do to fix it?” That is not defending you work, it’s an effort to become a better writer.)

To be a good critiquer, you must be honest. You must also be kind.

I think the feedback we all gave GHJT on his need to dump the “data dump” paragraphs is a fine example. If you recall, it was because he was in the middle of a fight scene. He couldn’t keep breaking up the action with information the reader didn’t need to know at that time. It was a fight. Let the action flow.

When you listened to us, you probably noticed that different critiquers mentioned different things. That is one of the beauties of a diverse group. My strength is the physical scene. If your character sees a red car pull away from the murder scene, I will catch it when you make him color blind four chapters later. Now, you may do that on purpose – that is how he gets caught – but I will generally catch those things. Other writers will catch other things

Another thing a good group will do is feed off the other critriquers. If KKGHER says something I didn’t think of and it is very good advise, I will say that. I don’t want you to think that KKGHER is the only one to think that way.

It works the other way, too. About a month ago, I was at a critique where the two people who spoke before me said something I strongly disagreed with. When it was my turn, I respectfully disagreed and explained why. If I had already spoken, I would have made a point to get my thought in before we moved on to another writer.

However, the most important thing a good critiquer will do is say something positive about the work. Someone put a lot of effort into the manuscript. They are trusting you with something personal. Treat it with respect.

One final thought on critique groups: they do not have to be genre specific to be useful. Yes, a SF/Fantasy writer’s group will automatically know the rules of writing in those genres that, perhaps, a Romance writer may not. A genre specific group will have a better idea of what works/sells for that type of story. However, good writing is good writing. An action scene is an action scene. A poorly developed protagonist will stand out. A non-genre specific group can be more demanding as they don’t just accept. They can make you justify what you are doing.

A GOOD CRITIQUE GROUP CAN MAKE THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A GOOD MANUSCRIPT AND A GREAT STORY.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Creating a wise reader

I have just finished reading The Writer’s Digest Guide To Science Fiction And Fantasy by Orson Scott Card

This book is, by far, the best book I have read about writing speculative fiction. (As an added bonus, there is a large section titled “The Writer’s Complete Fantasy Reference”. OUTSTANDING!)

One of the sections is titled, Creating a wise reader.

A Wise Reader is not someone to tell you what you have just done. What you want is someone who will report to you, in detail and accurately, on the experience of reading your story. (Think of a play: after it is over, everyone will tell how brilliant you were. But, during the performance no one lies. If people are checking their watch or looking through the Play Bill, something is very wrong.)

You want to train your reader to notice and take notes on symptoms – what the story does to him. For this job, it is better if your Wise Reader is not trained in literature. You don’t want him to tell you how to fix your story, you want to know how it feels to read it.

Ask your reader:

  • Were you bored? Did you find your minder wandering? Can you tell me where in the story this was happening? (Let him take his time, look back through the story, find a place where he remembers loosing interest.)
  • What did you think about the character named _____? Did you like him? Hate him? Keep forgetting who he was? (If he hates your character for the right reason, that’s good news. If he can’t remember who he is from one chapter to the next, that is a problem.)
  • Was there anything you didn’t understand or were confused? Any sections you had to reread?
  • Was there anything you didn’t believe? Any place where you said, “Oh come on!” (This will help you catch clich├ęs or places where you need to go into more detail in your world creation.)
  • What do you think will happen next? What are you still wondering about?

Treat the reader with respect. Your reader will need affirmation of her effort by you addressing what she felt in your manuscript. Unlike someone who tells you what is wrong with your story and how to fix it, The Reader cannot be wrong. How can she be wrong about her own experience. It is what it is.

Even if your reader is bothered by something that is very personal to them, and the general reader would have no issues with it, it is better to address it.

If your reader is your companion, you will develop a type of partnership that can enrich your relationship. If nothing else, s/he will understand better what you are going through.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Writing a query letter

A couple weeks ago I had the privilege to attend a presentation on query letters by Kimberly Gore Wehner. Following are the notes I took. (Neither Kim nor I take any responsibility for the accuracy of these notes. Just because I heard it doesn’t mean she said it. :-) ) Kim's blog can be found at: http://www.blog.klgore.com/



General Notes:

According to an agent who spoke at the last conference Kim attended horror stories are on the rise, vampyre stories are on the way out.

Your manuscript must be completed for fiction submissions. For non-fiction, you are pitching an idea, with the promise to write the manuscript.

Go the web site to get the instruction for querying the agent/publisher. Follow them to the letter.

o Try to find the name of the editor or agent you are submitting to and address them by name. (Be formal: Dear Mr. Jerk Face, not Dear Jerk)

o Do not submit to another agent in the same company. They will know. And if they feel it would be a good fit for a different agent at the agency, they will take it to them.

If your manuscript is non-fiction, be sure to justify why you are qualified to write it.

Include a list of your published works.

Pitch only one manuscript at a time.

o You can mention you have others later.

Publishers/agents do not want you to put your work on the internet. If they want to see a sample they will ask.

The larger publishing houses may only want to be contacted by an agent. (Read those guidelines.) Some smaller houses will accept direct submissions from unagented authors.

If you are have a children’s chapter book, be sure there are a lot of places to stop. (Chapter breaks)

Query more than one agent at a time. (It may take a long time for them to get back to you.)

Interview your prospective agent. (Let the other agents you queried know you are interviewing an agent. Give them a deadline to contact you.)

o Ensure you are a good fit personally and that they represent what you write.

o Set up expectations for both sides.

o Ask for the email addresses of authors they represent.

Know your audience. You are writing your query letter for the agent, not the public.

A couple of publications to consider:

o 2011 Guide To Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino (Out in August 2012)

o How to Write Attention-Grabbing Query & Cover Letters by John Wood

(My idea: Rather than say “This is my first novel,” say “This is the first novel I have submitted for publication.”)

Mention that it may be similar to XYZ. (Some strongly disagree with this.)

Don’t say that your story would be good for ….

o Or that “Readers and listeners will be interested in ….”

Don’t say you are looking for representation. (Why else would you be contacting them?)

Unlike a synopsis, in a query letter do not capitalize the character’s name the first time you use it.

The Letter:

This is your only chance to make a first impression

o Your writing will be judged on the letter

o Write it in the style of your story.

o Be professional, not casual.

Format:

o Keep it to a single page

o Single space

o Don’t double space

o If querying via snail mail, include a SASE

Include the genre and word count – rounded to the nearest 100.

Keep your query in the tone of your book

Explain why you chose this agent/publisher for your book.

o If you have met them and they requested a query, mention that.

o A tip for finding the name of agent is to Google everyone in the acknowledgments.

Be brief with the story summery. (250 words or less for a novel.)

Do not tell the ending. (That goes in a synopsis.)

Keep your main character(s) the focus of your letter. If the story won’t work without them, they should be mentioned. Never mention a secondary character unless it’s crucial to the plot.

In non-fiction:

o Start with the purpose of your article.

o Then why you are the one to write this article/book.

o Show what the reader will get from the article/book.

o Ensure your slant is known.

Start with an opening sentence that will blow the socks off the agent. You want to hook them at once. (If you can include something you know the agent is interested in, so much the better.)

In as few sentences as possible:

o Show a little of ordinary life.

o Tell of an exciting event.

o Give your protagonist’s goal

o State what choices must be made

o Explain what will happen if those goals aren’t met.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Proper Manuscript Format

During preparation of a manuscript for submission to Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine (of course following their guidelines) I was guided to this website. It looks very official to me. (And, if it's good enough for EQMM, it's good enough for me.)

http://www.shunn.net/format/story.html
Dee sent me information about changes to Write The Night Away.

Write The Night Away

The schedule of formal meetings for 2011 is different this year. These are the even numbered months and will be held in the Writing Center in the Golisano Gateway on the St. John Fisher Campus on the third Friday of those months. Please note that in the other months, we will have informal meetings in small groups on different days and at different times with programs yet to be determined. Those of you who are interested in the smaller meetings, some of which feature "The Psychology of Creative Writing," will be notified of days, times and places.

April 15

June 17

August 19

October 21

December "Carol The Night Away 6" at the Del Monte Lodge

When: Third Friday of the month

Time: 7:00PM

Where:

ON EVEN MONTHS

Golisano Gateway

St. John Fisher College

Directions:

Drive to the Main Entrance of Fisher at the intersection of Rt. 96 & East Avenue.(which at the point becomes 96 and 31F. There is a light there. When you enter the main entrance ,you will immediately veer to the right (don't go straight) where you will see a sign that says CREATIVE WRITING WORKSHOP. The AB parking lot will be on your direct left with another sign telling you to park there. There are a group of buildings toward the east. Park as close to them as you can get. When you walk toward them, there will be another sign (and my husband) directing you to enter the Scalny Building. There are signs every few feet in the building which lead you directly to the Golisano Gateway where you want to be.

Contact:

Dee 385-7310

Friday, February 11, 2011

Local Writer's Groups

I have tried to compile a list of local writer's groups. If I have missed any, please let me know.


R-SPEC: Rochester Speculative Literature Writers Association
http://r-spec.org/
R-SPEC is a group of writers, readers and thinkers in the Rochester NY area, that exists to celebrate and create speculative literature. We hold public meetings once a month to discuss new ideas and critically examine the literature we care about. You can help by joining us at a meeting, or becoming a member.
When
First Tuesday of the month
Time: 7:00PM
Where
Barnes & Noble Pittsford
3349 Monroe Ave
Rochester, NY
(585) 586-6020
Contact
586-6020, barnesandnoble.com

* * *

Word Weavers Critique Group
When
Second Tuesday of the month (Except August.)
Where
Monroe Community College
Room, 12-101
Time: 6:30PM
Directions:
“After entering the main campus at entrance B or C, head northeast along the inner campus road to parking Lot F and enter the northern door of Building 4. Come down the hallway, past the student lounge area and on into Building 12, Room 101. Our signs will be up to guide the way and we'll be sure the coffee is ready to warm you right up! And please, if you have a friend or family member tagging along for the ride, or maybe just curious what this critique group is all about, do bring them in to warm up, sip coffee, and just enjoy the writing right along with us. We promise we won't bite. :)”
Contact:
Rachel E. Dewey redswritings@gmail.com

* * *

Kimberly Wehner’s writing group
http://www.blog.klgore.com/
When
Second Thursday of the month
Time: 7:00
Where
Barns & Noble Greece
330 Greece Ridge Center
Rochester, NY, 14626
This group is believed to be the largest in the Rochester area. Moderator Wehner starts each session with a brief talk on the topic of the day, then will supply a writing prompt for a ten minute free write. Everyone will be invited to share what they have written (no one is forced). The next hour (or so) is spent critiquing short pieces from the group.
Contact:
Kim Wehner (Facilitator) run_in_place@yahoo.com
Steve Yates writingsbysay@yahoo.com

* * *

Write The Night Away
When
Third Friday of the month
Time: 7:00PM
Where:
Golisano Gateway
St. John Fisher College
Directions:
Drive to the Main Entrance of Fisher at the intersection of Rt. 96 & East Avenue.(which at the point becomes 96 and 31F. There is a light there. When you enter the main entrance ,you will immediately veer to the right (don't go straight) where you will see a sign that says CREATIVE WRITING WORKSHOP. The AB parking lot will be on your direct left with another sign telling you to park there. There are a group of buildings toward the east. Park as close to them as you can get. When you walk toward them, there will be another sign (and my husband) directing you to enter the Scalny Building. There are signs every few feet in the building which lead you directly to the Golisano Gateway where you want to be.
Contact:
Dee 385-7310

* * *

Lilac City Rochester Writers (LCRW)
LCRW, located in Rochester, NY is a non-profit organization dedicated to developing writers of all genres. Our goal is to help guide members along their individual writing paths.
http://lilaccityrochesterwriters.blogspot.com/
When
Fourth Saturday of the month
Time: 10:00AM
Where
Gates Town Hall
1605 Buffalo Rd
Rochester, NY 14624
Park in the main library lot. Use the entrance is on your left, the police entry. The room is the first on your left.
Contact:
Patti Olesik: pattimo44@aol.com

* * *

Writing: A Way Through Grief
*sponsored by Lifetime Care Center for Compassion and Healing
*facilitated by Cathy Spoto
*eight sessions, beginning in September, 7-9PM, meets 1st and 3rd Tuesdays
*located at Lifetime Care Center for Compassion and Healing, 3111 Winton Rd. South
People who have experienced the death of a loved one and are looking for active ways to express and manage challenging grief reactions will find this group helpful. Each session addresses a specific theme, includes time for “hot writing,” sharing of home writing, and support for personal exploration. The focus is on using writing as a process to discover and connect with feelings; it is not so much about producing a polished finished product. Music, art, and poetry are used to inspire writing and provide additional opportunities for creative expression.
*Phone interview with Cathy Spoto is required prior to participation.
* This program is limited to 12 paricipants.
* Contact Cathy at 254-6983 or c.spoto@frontiernet.net to register or for more information.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Looking to market your book?

Looking to market your book? Give some serious thought to taking a clue from the movie industry by making a video to advertise your book.

I found this on The Huffington Post web page (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/books/)

Book Trailers Looking More Like Movie Trailers (http://www.thebookseller.com/news/138082-author-to-direct-kidnap-scene-for-hc.html.rss?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter)

The following is excreted without permission:

Author to direct kidnap scene for HC

13.12.10 | Prudence Ivey

HarperCollins is planning a major digital marketing campaign to support the January release of Stuart MacBride’s new novel, Shatter the Bones.

MacBride will script and direct a kidnap scene from the ­thriller which will then be accessible to readers via the “Britain’s Next Big Star” website. The URL, www.britains­nextbigstar.com, also appears as part of the story, about the kidnap of mother-and-daughter singing sensations from a reality TV show.

Kate Fitzpatrick, head of digital marketing at HarperCollins, said: “The reality TV theme is a great hook. In the book, there’s a single from the talent show, which viewers can buy to raise money for the hostages from the web address where the kidnap scene is posted.”

She added: “The idea is to create a parallel reality outside the book to give readers something extra, as well as to attract new readers.”

MacBride employed similar marketing tactics on his previous book, Dark Blood, producing a trailer using members of his Aberdeen community as extras and starring staff from the local Waterstone’s. “We wanted to capitalise on the success of the previous video campaign,” said Fitzpatrick. “Stuart’s very keen to get involved. He’s a very visual writer so it’s great to be able to create some interesting and dynamic video content to accompany the books.”

The author’s video will be released in conjunction with a 3D-rendered video produced by HarperCollins and targeted at the trade. This will be backed up by a major outdoor marketing campaign with backlit outdoor posters in all major UK cities with the add-on of a series of backlit phonebox adverts.

Based around the new shoutline “Bloody Brilliant MacBride”, the campaign aims to encapsulate the best aspects of MacBride’s writing. “He is bloody brilliant and he’s bloody and he’s brilliant,” said Julia Wisdom, publisher, crime and thriller. “Stuart’s writing is gritty, fierce, violent crime fiction but it’s also really good quality.” Bracketing the author with Ian Rankin and Mark Billingham, Wisdom says that MacBride appeals to a similarly broad, cross-gender, over-25 audience and that HC is are hoping to widen and reinforce this market with the new campaign.

Shatter the Bones will be published in hardback at £14.99 for the first time alongside the paperback of Dark Blood. Both books will be released on 6th January 2011.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Author Websites: 7 Of The Best Writers' Sites

The following is from the Huffington Post web page. It lists seven web sites by authors that it feels are the best. If nothing else, they deserve a look.

Author Websites: 7 Of The Best Writers' Sites

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/11/18/author-websites_n_785031.html#s184928

The Huffington Post Posted: 11-18-10 07:05 AM

Authors: masters of language, but often not the web. Even some writers with massive Twitter followings and social media campaigns don't have useful websites. Does it matter? Depends on how you want to be perceived when people are searching for you. When we asked this week on Twitter and Facebook for the best author websites, we received the names of only a few that impressed us.

Nevertheless, we've pulled together some of the best of what you sent in. What do you think: Are these the best author websites out there? Which awesome sites did we leave out? Let us know. We'd love to highlight the really great ones.

1 - Kathy Reichs, author of the "Bones" series, has an informative and visually striking website, which features key facts about the writer and her books, as well as bonus content such as videos.

http://kathyreichs.com/

2 - Amy Krouse Rosenthal's website is a beautiful example of the successful marriage between simple design and interactivity. Visitors can select their own "website ambiance" on the home page, but the site is not overloaded with too many unnecessary gimmicks. The site also clearly displays all pertinent information about the author, including her books, bio and contact information.

http://www.whoisamy.com/

3 - Jay Asher's website is well organized and sleek, featuring lots of content in a manageable format.

http://www.thirteenreasonswhy.com/

4 - Huffington Post contributing style editor and author of "Let’s Bring Back," among other books, Lesley M. M. Blume boasts a clean, albeit stylized, website that features heaps of content and intriguing design.

http://lesleymmblume.com/

5 - Kenneth C. Davis, author of the popular "Don't Know Much About" series, hosts a fun and colorful website that displays plenty of information about each of his nonfiction texts.

http://www.dontknowmuch.com/

6 - "Percy Jackson & The Olympians" author Rick Riordan has a stunning website for his series, featuring sharp graphics and subtle animation.

http://www.percyjacksonbooks.com/

7 - Jonathan Safran Foer the literary wunderkind and author of "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" has an impeccably designed website for his book "Eating Animals," which features slick motion graphics.

http://www.eatinganimals.com/

Friday, October 8, 2010

Critiquing using Microsoft Office Word

Microsoft Office Word includes the option to edit and make suggestions to documents using a special editing too. It allows comments, strikethroughs and additions. If you are critiquing someone else’s work, I beg of you - NOT TO USE IT.

On the surface, it is a phenomenal tool. However, it only allows the recipient an accept/reject option. Because the recipient cannot choose what portions s/he wants to keep or reject, it creates five times the work for the person receiving the critique than the simple options of normal a Word document.

I make the presumption that if you use this special feature you are familiar enough with Word to place a few important buttons on your formatting tool bar. If you do not have them there, you need to add: Highlight, Strikethrough, and Font Color. Right click on the tool bar, select customize, then commands, and finally format. Scroll down the list until you find the function that is missing, left click and hold, then drag the icon to the inside of the tool bar. It’s that simple. Now is also a good time to remove any icons you don’t use. Merely drag the icon from the toolbar to the open table. Don’t like the icon order, move them while the customize box is open. When you are done, close the box.

Now, when you want to strike out text, highlight it, and press the strikethrough button. Want to suggest text or make a comment, place the cursor in the appropriate point, select a new font color and type away. If you want to emphasize something, you can bold, italicize, underline, or even change fonts. None of this is locked so it cannot be changed by the recipient.

Fancy is nice, but when it creates more work, it’s just counter productive.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Notes from Jessica Andersen’s presentation

Notes from Jessica Andersen’s presentation

  • If you need to do something or need something to happen it cannot be a coincidence. There must be a reason for it to happen.
  • Write the nuts and bolts and then go back to fill in the characters and what they are going through.
  • Get a critique partner with the opposite skills of you.
  • Bring it back to the character.
  • To keep your different projects separate in your mind, do them in a different font.
  • If you have difficulty getingt into the head of a character you don’t fully understand it is normally because you know what they are like until you reach the barrier they have put up. You must get to the other side of the wall.
  • Starting with a concept is harder than starting with a character.

World Building

  • How was the character raised.
  • What rules the after-life?
  • If you get the rules wrong it can throw the reader out of the story.

Questions to World Building

  • What are the major facts about the world that are pertinent to your character?
  • What will people expect of your character?
  • Who is intending to inhabit this world? Will they make you excited to keep writing? (Write about people who are bigger than themselves.)
  • Think before you make statements that are controversial.
  • Include two or three minor (yet cool) facts that will be important to this book. They may not make it into the next book.
  • If you see a theme you hadn’t planned on when you are done, go back and bring it out.
  • Are there any cool controversies? Feel free to be selective and look outside the norm. You can make up a prophecy to be passed down from generation to generation. You can have your protagonist try to fight the prophecy.
  • Where will your world deviate from reality/history? There are two way: The NOD – acknowledge to the reader that this could never happen but it did in this case because…. FIX – come up with a reason why it works. Look at the facts, see if you can come up with reasons for this to happen.
  • If there are a lot of unfamiliar facts you must ground it in the familiar to make the reader comfortable.
  • If you need XYZ to happen, you must find a way to make it fit your rules. Have defensible logic.
  • Don’t talk down to your readers. Do something unexpected but only if it makes sense.
  • Write your story in the whenever (not time specific) whenever possible.

Misc. Notes:

  • If, during editing, you remove material from your novel you can put it on your web site as “deleted content.”
  • What does a reader want from a genre? You must deliver what is expected of the genre or the author.
  • You can use a reader’s preconceived facts and then change things.
  • Generally, you need to get into the action quickly. However, fantasy readers are more open to world building before the action starts.
  • Building the world first informs the characters.
  • Introduce the obvious motivation then reveal the hidden.
  • As the same questions about your character as you do for your world.
  • Why do He and She complete each other?
  • Change the formatting of your story on subsequent read-throughs. Your mind “remembers” what it has seen. If you change the format you are looking with fresh eyes.

Critiquing

  • You can find a critique partners at writer’s conferences, work groups, or from email lists.

Questions / discussions to have up-front:

  • What is important to you?
  1. Turn around time.
  2. email vs. phone vs. face-to-face
  3. Is positive feedback important?
  4. Do you need plot arc or nit-pick stuff?
  5. Just general feedback?

Assess what your strengths are:

  • (See above)
  • NG on grammar?
  • Good at action and story telling?
  • Are there story flaws?

Test your compatibility

  • Where you should be compatible & opposite.
  • Are your genres compatible?
  • Exchange a few test pages and then talk about it later.

Set boundaries

  • Write out your expectations.
    1. I expect my work to not go beyond us.
    2. You may feel you need to go beyond the set rules – be careful.
    3. Craft your critique so it can be “heard” by the other person.
    4. Sleep on a critique before you send it.

Breaking up

  • Your styles aren’t working
  • Life is getting in the way of writing
  • Don’t burn bridges
  • You don’t gain anything by picking a fight

Get that contract right

I found this great site for people who write on spec that looks as if it has a lot of good information. This article, in particular, should help when signing a contract.


What Writers Should Know About All-Rights and Work-Made-For-Hire Contracts.


http://asja.org/pubtips/wmfh01.php

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Save it for all time

“Cloud Computing” is the term used to identify the process of storing and/or backing up information away from your computer. The theory is that if something happened, the data is not lost.

There are a few sites that will help with that – some of them free for the first one or two meg. Search “cloud computing” to find them.

What I want you to do is set up an email account with gmail (or whomever you want) and not tell ANYONE (next of kin is okay) the address. (This is your archive; don’t let anyone fill it with garbage.) Then, email all your writing to that account. (The reason I chose gmail is the 750 meg of space they give for free.)

Obviously, you must come up with a unique name for each email. I always start with the name of the story and the date. It makes the list easy to find and easy to sort. Another thing I do is make a folder for each story. If you are working on a novel, the folder is the book title. Each chapter can them be dropped into the proper folder when the email arrives.

Another benefit is anywhere you are with internet access, you have access to your most current work. You will not be able to castigate that with a birch.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

There are ways to get published that won’t break the bank

In the 8-9-10 issue of Newsweek, Isis Jasiewics tells of J. A. Konrath who, because he gets 70% to 80% of the purchase price, is making as much from a $2.99 e-book sale on Amazon as he used to make from a conventional $25 hard cover sale.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Some accepted truths need to be looked at differently.

A linguistics professor was lecturing to his class one day. "In English," he said, "a double negative forms a positive. In some languages though, such as Russian, a double negative is still a negative. However," he pointed out, "there is no language wherein a double positive can form a negative."

A voice from the back of the room piped up "Yeah, right."

Friday, July 9, 2010

Local Writer's Groups

I have tried to compile a list of local writer's groups. If I have missed any, please let me know.


R-SPEC: Rochester Speculative Literature Writers Association
http://r-spec.org/
R-SPEC is a group of writers, readers and thinkers in the Rochester NY area, that exists to celebrate and create speculative literature. We hold public meetings once a month to discuss new ideas and critically examine the literature we care about. You can help by joining us at a meeting, or becoming a member.
When
First Tuesday of the month
Time: 7:00PM
Where
Barnes & Noble Pittsford
3349 Monroe Ave
Rochester, NY
(585) 586-6020
Contact
586-6020, barnesandnoble.com

* * *

Word Weavers Critique Group
When
Second Tuesday of the month (Except August.)
Where
Monroe Community College
Room, 12-101
Time: 6:30PM
Directions:
“After entering the main campus at entrance B or C, head northeast along the inner campus road to parking Lot F and enter the northern door of Building 4. Come down the hallway, past the student lounge area and on into Building 12, Room 101. Our signs will be up to guide the way and we'll be sure the coffee is ready to warm you right up! And please, if you have a friend or family member tagging along for the ride, or maybe just curious what this critique group is all about, do bring them in to warm up, sip coffee, and just enjoy the writing right along with us. We promise we won't bite. :)”
Contact:
Rachel E. Dewey redswritings@gmail.com

* * *

Kimberly Wehner’s writing group
http://www.blog.klgore.com/
When
Second Thursday of the month
Time: 7:00
Where
Barns & Noble Greece
330 Greece Ridge Center
Rochester, NY, 14626
This group is believed to be the largest in the Rochester area. Moderator Wehner starts each session with a brief talk on the topic of the day, then will supply a writing prompt for a ten minute free write. Everyone will be invited to share what they have written (no one is forced). The next hour (or so) is spent critiquing short pieces from the group.
Contact:
Kim Wehner (Facilitator) run_in_place@yahoo.com
Steve Yates writingsbysay@yahoo.com

* * *

Write The Night Away
When
Third Friday of the month
Time: 7:00PM
Where:
Golisano Gateway
St. John Fisher College
Directions:
Drive to the Main Entrance of Fisher at the intersection of Rt. 96 & East Avenue.(which at the point becomes 96 and 31F. There is a light there. When you enter the main entrance ,you will immediately veer to the right (don't go straight) where you will see a sign that says CREATIVE WRITING WORKSHOP. The AB parking lot will be on your direct left with another sign telling you to park there. There are a group of buildings toward the east. Park as close to them as you can get. When you walk toward them, there will be another sign (and my husband) directing you to enter the Scalny Building. There are signs every few feet in the building which lead you directly to the Golisano Gateway where you want to be.
Contact:
Dee 385-7310

* * *

Lilac City Rochester Writers (LCRW)
LCRW, located in Rochester, NY is a non-profit organization dedicated to developing writers of all genres. Our goal is to help guide members along their individual writing paths.
http://lilaccityrochesterwriters.blogspot.com/
When
Fourth Saturday of the month
Time: 10:00AM
Where
Gates Town Hall
1605 Buffalo Rd
Rochester, NY 14624
Park in the main library lot. The entrance is on your left, the police entry. The room is the first on your left.
Contact:
Kat kshay@rochester.rr.com

* * *

Writing: A Way Through Grief
*sponsored by Lifetime Care Center for Compassion and Healing
*facilitated by Cathy Spoto
*eight sessions, beginning September 7, 7-9PM, meets 1st and 3rd Tuesdays
*located at Lifetime Care Center for Compassion and Healing, 3111 Winton Rd. South
People who have experienced the death of a loved one and are looking for active ways to express and manage challenging grief reactions will find this group helpful. Each session addresses a specific theme, includes time for “hot writing,” sharing of home writing, and support for personal exploration. The focus is on using writing as a process to discover and connect with feelings; it is not so much about producing a polished finished product. Music, art, and poetry are used to inspire writing and provide additional opportunities for creative expression.
*Phone interview with Cathy Spoto is required prior to participation.
* This program is limited to 12 paricipants.
* Contact Cathy at 254-6983 or c.spoto@frontiernet.net to register or for more information.

Friday, June 25, 2010

A friend sent me this link titled When To Tell Instead of Show. It is very good and addresses a question we all have: When To Tell Instead of Show. :-)

http://kidlit.com/2010/06/23/when-to-tell-instead-of-show/

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Oh no!

A friend of mine recently read a wonderful short story at a writer’s group. First, without exception, the group loved the story. Then, doing their job, the group made suggestions – some I agreed with, some I didn’t. But, that is the process of writer’s groups.

A few days later, I received the updated version, including most of the changes suggested by the group’s comments. To be honest, I liked the original better. Without a doubt, there were areas that improved. But I feel (And, who the heck am I?) that s/he made too many changes merely because they were suggested.

When I asked to see the original, I was told that it no longer existed. It no longer exists! Oh, no! How can the original no longer exist?

I cannot emphasize this enough: Keep all your revisions and the original. At least until there is a final disposition of your manuscript. Even then, why would you discard them? You never know when or why you may want to revisit an earlier version..

Please, I beg you, keep all your revisions. You never know.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Let's start a collection of "You know you’re a writer if."

You may respond on the blog or send me an email writingsbysay&yahoo.com. I will collect them and send them out. (Credited or non- you're option.)

To get things started, I have included one of my "IFs"

You know you’re a writer if:

• When stopped at a traffic check-point, rather than ask what is going on, you ask for the back-story.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

You CAN go home again

For the last six months I have been taking a Creative Writing course at Monroe Community College. I have been reading non-fiction, literary short stories and poetry. On my own I read The Help by Kathryn Stockett – a wonderful summer read – and a book a friend recommended. (Twice I tried to finish it. Twice I failed. She is still a friend, but is no longer allowed to make recommendations to my reading list.)

There were numerous handouts and assignments in the assigned text – Metro, Journey’s In Writing Creativity. The point is, I had not been the Captain of my reading list in a very long time.

Last week, with ten poems ready for submission, I picked up The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss.

What I found shocking was the physical reaction I had within the first ten pages.

I can only describe it as how I felt on a Thanksgiving leave from the Navy. I was sitting in the living room, my dad in “his” chair, my nephew playing with Match Box cars on the floor. Mom was in the kitchen whipping up a feast and the smells where overwhelming me.

The feeling of being home is a physical thing as well as emotional. Fantasy is my home.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The NEW Red Wheelbarrow

What a fantastic hour and a quarter! I am sitting in Barns & Noble with the two Pats, both poets. I showed them a poem I wrote for my Creative Writing class to gather their opinion on the title. What followed was an extended, sometimes heated, discussion on the last stanza. It got to the point that we took the poem to the service counter and asked Pam if she understood the ending.

What Pat K. and I see as obvious, Pam couldn’t see until it was explained. Pat G. says that shows I haven't make it clear and still says I am changing POV. I insist I’m not changing POV. Pat K. sees it as an ending. I meant it as a realization, an acceptance. Is there a gender interpretation to it? Pat G. thinks so. Perhaps this is a "man's poem" and women just don't understand us.

Now, you need to understand that my instructor has referred to my writing as a “simple style.” I am too new to the genre to be anything but straight forward. There are no layers in my writing.

Have I accidentally written my own The Red Wheelbarrow?

Any where but Home.
By S. Arthur Yates

I might go to London,
Rome, or Tokyo,
Bangladesh, St. Peter’s Square,
Any where but Home.

The moon or Mars,
Beyond the Milky Way,
Quasars or Cosmic Dust
Any where but Home.

I touch your hand,
Your face, your breast,
Yet your heart will be,
Any where but Home.

Monday, May 17, 2010

A Writing Challenge

While reading HAGS, SIRENS, & OTHER BAD GIRLS OF FANTASY I ran across a delightful short story. (More on that in a later post.) Allen Rousselle’s Band of Sisters is the back story to the sirens in Chapter 11 of Homer’s Odysseus. (SPOILER ALERT: It turns out the girls where just a barn band that Aphrodite tricked into asking for a favor. The poor children didn’t realize you never make a deal with the gods.

Rousselle approaches the topic with tongue firmly in cheek and the story is a joyous trip down fantasy’s lane of the ridicules.

So much so that it made me think there are thousands of back stories out there. What were Plato and Socrates like when they were dating in school? What was the horse thinking when Caligula brought him into the Senate? How about Captain Hook? How did he get his start? Michelangelo. Was he a pain in art class? The opportunities seems endless.

Now, for the challenge. Write a back story for you favorite (or least favorite) character in history. Imagine their history before history made then history. Have fun with it.

I imagine the romance writers will have a field day with Plato. What will the mystery writers do to Daniel Boone? I’m sure Marie Curie had a radiant personality as a child.

I’d love to see whatever you come up with. Let’s have fun with this.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

YOU KNOW MORE THAN YOU KNOW YOU KNOW

“Write what you know.” “Write what you read.” I bet there is not a person reading this who hasn’t heard those words. I’m here to tell you, you know more than you know you know.

If you read romance, it has created a comfortable little nook in your mind where you can go to escape. You know where everything is located in your cubbyhole and can pull out whatever you need. It is your place and you know it well.

If you read science fiction, you know what a believable alternative world is. You read it – you know it.

I read fantasy almost to the exclusion of everything else. Therefore, I must write fantasy. When I started writing, I knew I was a fantasy writer. What else could I be?

Along the way, something went wrong. Three and a half years into my writing “career”, I don’t have a single completed work of fantasy. (To be fair, the fantasy story I am “working” on is a novel. I have six “scenes” written, but that is as far as I have gotten.) I have written romantic-adventure. A shape shifter story. A serial killer story. I have a Zombie, two life transition/redemption stories and a science fiction story. I have written a non-fiction piece about my tour on a submarine. I have a gangster story. Most shocking, I have written three poems. (I have no idea where they came from.)

It is easy to see that some of the above are loosely related to fantasy. But, what about the others?

It turns out, I know more than I knew I knew.

I have been receiving Newsweek and US News and World Report for years. I receive two computer magazines. I have been reading non-fiction that includes tight, concise writing.

The others, (the gangster, romantic-adventure, serial killer, and the redemption stories) come from TV and MOVIES. I firmly believe that if you watch it, you know it.

You know what makes you laugh – you’ve had to choose between Frasier and Tool Time. How many SVU’s have you seen – hundreds?

You say you don’t watch romantic adventure. Didn’t you love Mr. and Mrs. Smith or the Star Wars series?

I do NOT read romance. I loved The Notebook movie.

The point is, when it comes to your writing, you know more than you knew you knew. Use it to write anything you want.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Wired for Books.

Don Swaim's CBS Radio studio in New York conducted one-on-one interviews with authors that typically lasted 30 to 45 minutes and were later edited to a two minute segment for the broadcast. OHIO University has gather those interviews in one place. If you want to hear what famous authors have to say, give them a try. (I found the pages to load very slowly, but the wait it worth it.)

http://www.wiredforbooks.org/

Monday, December 28, 2009

I am working on my third poem. Yep, I’m doing it again. What I like about this genre is that you can pack a mountain in a jewelry box. Yet, as someone who doesn’t “do” poetry, I didn’t understand how much work that would be. I have spent MORE time working on this 191 word piece than I did on the short stories I sold. (I know, perhaps I should have spent more time on those stories.)

However, with help from Pat G. and others, I have made it much better than it was. ALMOST to the point where I will read it at group. I can see the lantern. (I have shown it to a few people. The non-poets like it. The poets see the flaws. (I have to stop showing it to poets.))

One, completely off topic plug. I have been reading "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett. Beg, borrow, purchase or steal this masterpiece. (I still haven't figured out how to underline on this blog.)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Avoid ups and downs

This will be a short post.

It has been drummed into my head, while writing, to be concise, show instead of tell, and avoid unnecessary words and redundancy.

Lately, one of the things I have noticed while doing critiques is the use of the sneaky little unnecessary words: “up” and “down.” Did Bill “Stand UP and walk to the window”? Or, did he just stand and walk to the window? Is it possible to stand without it being up? The corollary, can you sit without it being down?

Did you go “down to the store” or “to the store?”

Simply, if it is not possible to do something without it being “up” or “down”, leave the word out.

Monday, September 21, 2009

I’ve been sitting in the Starbucks in the Greece B&N for last two and a half hours, hoping my muse would slap me or something. Nothing. Very frustrating.

Yet, what an interesting time. Joanne was already here when I arrived. Electrical sockets are at a premium at Starbucks, so knowing Phil was on his way we moved out the two-person table and moved in one of the larger ones. (I carry a six-plug adapter for just this purpose.) Phil joined us about an hour later. We had maxed out that table.

About half an hour later, Pat showed up. She grabbed a satellite table and we moved that next to ours. With a new YA novel jumping around her mind, screaming to get out, all she wanted to do was write.

Soon after, Phil left for one of those on-again, off-again, on-again lunches.

Liz arrived, my latest short story’s critique in hand. It was time to move another table into place. Normally, I would bring in a small one, but the way we were growing, I moved out the small one we had and moved in another large one. When Liz showed up, I knew I’d called it right.

About this time, Joanne finished writing and left. We were back to four, but with laptops and notebooks spread out, I didn’t give back any of our conquered table space.

One of the things I liked most about this day is writers from three different writer’s groups got to meet each other. There is now a connection between Second Tuesday, Second Thursday, and Third Tuesday. Besides me.
Today I submitted my latest short story, Tuesday Sucked, to thuglit.com.

I think Thug Lit is a good fit, but the search for a publication didn’t go smoothly. When I started my search, my favorite site, http://www.duotrope.com/index.aspx, wasn’t returning anything that seemed quite right. I tried "Writer’s Digest" (print version) with even less success. (It appears to me that "Writer’s Digest" is not set up very well for short fiction.)

I was getting a little desperate (To qualify for a drawing, I had to have my story submitted by the 26th.) when I got an update from Duotrope. (Go to the site, sign up, get the updates.) The update contained a number of sites that were reopening for submissions. There were three on that list that were promising. Thug Lit fits the story perfectly.

Now – I have Christmas Drabble that I need to find a home for. Soon.

As soon as I figure out how to underline on this blog, I will post book titles correctly.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

My friend, Christine Morgan Kuczmynda, found this great site with a list of active verbs. I would be willing to bet that even well published authors will find some use for it.

http://www.cvisual.com/film-techniques/writer-action-verb-list.asp

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

In response to my last post I was asked what the prompt was that led to “On The Road To Catmanduel.” On November 8, 2007 (right after Halloween) Kim asked us to write on: "You pick up a hitch-hiker. What happens?" (I admit to a fondness for this type of prompt.) As usual, she only gave us ten minutes. (We can almost always talk her into fifteen.)

The beauty of it was that before the time was up I had written a couple hundred words (a lot for me in such a short time), and KNEW THE ENTIRE STORY in my head. For the first, and only, time I was anxious for the group to end so I could get home to write.

It was exciting to race home, grab a soda, pen and paper. (Yes, most of my first drafts are hand written. More on that in a later blog.) In about half an hour the first draft was sitting in front of me and I was doing mental high-fives.

It’s a great feeling to experience that.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Exciting news for me. The first short story I sold will be included in the annual anthology of Semaphore Magazine (http://semaphoremagazine.com/)

The email (in part):
Subject: 2009 Anthology: On the Way to Cathmanduel
From: semaphoremagazine@gmail.com

Dear Mr. Yates,
Your story "On the Way to Cathmanduel," which was published in the December 2008 issue of Semaphore Magazine, has been very well-received by our readers and I would therefore like to publish it in this year’s Anthology. The Anthology is planned for publication in December this year.


Now, before my head gets too big, I need to point out that the title of the story is “On The Road To Catmanduel.” Not “On The Way.” And not “Cathmanduel.” It’s a little deflating that she didn’t get that correct.

On the other hand, I am psyched that it is the readers that voted the story in. I’m not saying it is the best written story, but I hope it is entertaining. (And for those of you who give Kim a hard time for her writing prompts, this story is a DIRECT result of one of those prompts.)

It’s a GOOD DAY.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Editing

Editing

Yesterday I finished the first draft of a short story. (Try to interrupt me as you will, Joanne, I still got it done.) It came in at about at 2000 words, which is typical for me. Today I did the first edit. Fifty-four changes. Not fifty-four words – fifty-four changes. I added “Not so much right now.” “Bill” became “Billy Boy.” Three words where added here. An entire sentence was removed there. I corrected tense. I made a meaningless change from “10:43 AM” to “11:43 AM”. There was a word I wanted to change but, for the life of me, I can’t spell the word I want to use. (After messing with it for five minutes, I left it as is was.)

You should have seen the paper. Scratch-outs all over. Arrows to insertions crossing into the margins. Numbers circled to indicate a note I’d written at the bottom of the page. If word allowed triple-spacing, I would use that for editing.

THAT type of editing I love. What I hate is the complete rewrite.

I have an eighty-five hundred word romantic adventure that I like and thought was ready to go. I passed it out to a critique group for a final polishing. What came back was devastating. I need to do a complete rewrite. (I say I “need to” because I agree with their comments. NOT just because they said so.)

I put a lot of work into the story. I spent hours doing research, making sure my facts and setting were true. I stepped waaaaayyyyyy out of my comfort zone to write the romantic parts. It hurt that everyone didn’t love it as much as I did. (They all like the story, just not the way it was written.)

The question becomes, will I make the necessary changes, or place it in that pile. The one for “It was nice knowing you, but I’m moving on. Have a nice life.”

The complete rewrite feels like I am saying to one of my children, “You’re not good enough. I’m going to replace you with someone better.” That, and I’d have to admit that all the work and sweat I poured into my story is, mostly, wasted.

If only I could look at as, "I can rebuild it. I have the technology. I have the capability to build the world's best short story. I can make it better than it was before. Better, stronger, more concise." I’d give six million dollars to be able to do that.

For now, it sits. I haven’t given up on it, I just need time to get my head in the right place to make the changes I know I have to make. So, I guess that story has become, “It’s just not working out. I need to see other stories. I hope we can remain friends. I’ll be in touch.”