Lazy Day


Outtakes 215

Lazy Day

By Cait Collins

 

This is one of those days when writing does not compute. I am relaxing on the deck of the Mary Day, a beautiful windjammer. We are sailing Penobscot Bay in Maine. The fall colors are glorious. No phones, radios, television sets, no computers interrupt my communing with nature. I am at peace. My only thought at this moment is the promise of a fresh lobster dinner.

I’ll write something tomorrow.

 

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Writer Appreciation


Reasons To Write

By Rory C. Keel

This week I will share with you reason number 4 of why I write.

 Reason #4 – Writing helps me appreciate other writers.                                              

Having put my hand to the mighty penand wielded the awesome power of a fine writing instrument –well ok, I used a computer—I have come to appreciate other writers. While I have not read the writings of every author whose name is attached to a poem or printed on a glossy cover of a book, I can honestly say that I appreciate their work.

No matter the genre, the fact that they took the time to write down their thoughts and ideas is truly amazing.

Consider a few things it takes to succeed in writing:

The idea – Having an idea that draws someone into the writing, then takes that person through a meaningful journey and places him at the end, and having them enjoy the experience is a monumental task. Many of us wish we had an Idea.

Commitment of time – Alas, writing is not like a pyramid scheme, which claims to allow a person to make millions of dollars with only five minutes invested each week. No, writing takes time. Constantly learning the craft of writing, doing research on materials, then actually sitting and writing takes dedicated time.

Persistence – Many who start writing become discouraged through the process of continual critiques received and the re-writing which must be done during the process. Keep writing, use these things as learning tools and don’t give up, consider it as fine-tuning.

Yes, I appreciate other writers, both the famous and unknown, because they wrote.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

TWEENS Have It


TWEENS Have It

By Natalie Bright

 

Children’s literature once offered the genres of picture book and everything else. Thankfully today that grey area of choices after pictures is more clearly defined with early readers, chapter books, middle grade, upper middle grade, tween, and young adult.

The new group that emerged with efforts to focus on “tweens”, between childhood and young adults, is the topic of this blog post. You’ve probably noticed that many industries are reaching out to this group, from entertainment to fashion to reading material.

Tweens Defined

Tweens, defined as being between 10-14 years of age, seem to live in two worlds. When I talk to classrooms I’m reminded that they are still children and sometimes very immature. In other instances, I’m shocked at the complexity of the questions they can ask.

It’s a complicated age; that time period between childhood and young adult. I’ve witnessed this with our own boys. Reading a book with chapters was a big deal. Our oldest totally skipped most of the tween offerings and went straight to nonfiction on the topics that held interest for him. Our youngest enjoyed the light, simple plots of chapter books. By the time he was in fourth grade he was reading at a Jr. High level and he wanted stories that were more complex. As a parent, I was cautious about the drug and sex themes covered in the young adult genre, and thankfully there were some in-between novels that held his interest.

Holes, by Louis Sachar

HOLES is the perfect example of a book for tweens, in my opinion. It includes folklore, a mystery, and contemporary issues of a work camp for difficult teenagers, along with a mystery that spans across several generations. It appeals to both girls and boys. I enjoyed the book and the movie equally as well.

Children today are much more sophisticated in their reading choices I think. Of course, there’s always the kids who never read and those who read anything and everything. Several books I would have classified with young adult type themes, seem to have resonated with the younger crowd as well.

Good Story is Everything

As my then 6th grader got into the car after school one day, he asked, “What is team Edward and team Jacob?” Twilight was a hot topic among the tween crowd from many years. My son really wasn’t interested in reading the books at all, but agreed to watch the Pay-per-View with me. “I guess I’ll have to, so I can know what the girls talk about all day.”

Bottom line: a unique, well-written story is a good story, no matter the target age.

nataliebright.com

 

Facebook Page Promotion


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

Facebook Page Promotion

By Nandy Ekle

 

Several years ago I met a crew of writers at a certain online writing community, which I will not name for a lot of different reasons. These writing friends and I have all left said online writing community, but we’ve kept in touch on Facebook. And that makes me a very lucky person, indeed.

One of my friends lived in Texas when I met her. Of course, the other friends who didn’t understand Texas thought we must just hang out together all the time since, of course, we both lived in the same state. What most of them didn’t understand is that she lived about 600 miles away. And that even though our state was big enough to hold both of us, it was still a huge distance away. So much so that you would never even believe it was all Texas.

A couple of years ago, she moved to the Pacific Northwest. We still keep in touch through cyberspace, and I’m very thankful for that because she is an amazing writer.

But more than being an amazing writer, Mrs. Heiser is also an incredible editor. In fact, my blog this week is about a new Facebook page she has opened called “Ask Midge.” On this page she invites the public to ask questions about writing (technical, structural, theoretical . . .) and she also gives some pretty good tips.

So, if you are on Facebook, you should look up the Ask Midge page. “Like” it, “follow” it, enjoy it.

And you can tell her Nan sent you. https://www.facebook.com/askmidge/photos/

Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.

 

 

Writing in “The Visit”


Writing in “The Visit”

by Adam Huddleston

 

This past Friday my wife, her father, and I went to the matinee showing of “The Visit”. We are all fans of horror and this film looked to be pretty scary. Afterward, the main topic of conversation amongst us, other than the twist ending which the film’s writer/director M. Night Shyamalan is known for, was the writing in the movie.

As horror movies go, the plot was average to a bit above average, but in my opinion the dialogue was one of the film’s highlights. It had the perfect mix of humor and terror. The young boy in the movie, played by Ed Oxenbould, steals the show with his lines; especially when he substitutes profanity with the names of female pop singers. The grandparents in the film deliver equally strong performances with their portrayals of loving caretakers that get creepier as the movie progresses.

Kudos to Mr. Shyamalan for a wonderful job with the writing. If you are a fan of horror, I recommend seeing this film when you get a chance.

Lazy Day


Outtakes 215

Lazy Day

By Cait Collins

 

This is one of those days when writing does not compute. I am relaxing on the deck of the Mary Day, a beautiful windjammer. We are sailing Penobscot Bay in Maine. The fall colors are glorious. No phones, radios, television sets, no computers interrupt my communing with nature. I am at peace. My only thought at this moment is the promise of a fresh lobster dinner.

I’ll write something tomorrow.

 

Writing Improves Your Skills


Reasons to Write

By Rory C. Keel

Why do I write? Is it because throngs of fans demand it, anticipating every word of my next masterpiece? Is it because I honestly expect to make millions of dollars on a bestseller, or desire to be famous? No.

This week I will share with you reason number 3, of why I write.

 Reason #3 – Writing improves your skills.

“Practice makes perfect!” I knew there had to be a reason the teacher made me write my spelling words three times each in grade school. There were a few other lessons I learned while writing words multiple times on the chalkboard, but I will spare you from my youthful indiscretions. Yes, the more a person writes the more they learn and the better they become at the craft. Even those who have a level of natural ability will continue to show improvement with every word.

Use of Tools

There are a few basic tools that you will need to help you get started.

  1. A Thesaurus and a Dictionary will help to insure the proper meaning and usage of words, improving your vocabulary.
  2. The Chicago Manual of Style, or Strunk and White Elements of Style, will aid in punctuation and sentence structure. Over time you will notice a marked improvement in your writing.
  3. Use Encyclopedias found online or at your local library, to research your project. It will naturally results in an increased knowledge of that subject and improve your reading comprehension.
  4. A computer with a word processor program, and certainly, pen and paper are still terrific to use for jotting things down.
  5. Find a comfortable writing place.
  6. Then start with an Idea and write it down.

How do I know these points are true? I’ve come along way since the first grade, A-B-C-D-E-F-G . . .

Too Busy to Write


Too Busy to Write

By Natalie Bright

Some days cause us to wonder why we even think that writing is a necessary part of our lives. Sometimes those days turn into weeks, and those weeks turn into months…and well, you understand.

Finally, we get back to the business of writing and the creative process seems so foreign. It’s like we’ll have to start over and relearn the basics.

Here’s a few writing exercises to get you back in the muse groove:

Write the inner thoughts from your main characters. Start with their life growing up, description of their parents, most afraid, most embarrassing–all from first person POV. Dig deep and really get inside your character’s head.

If you’re stuck on your book, write a short story, a magazine article, a nonfiction book, a story about your grandfather, childhood memories. Just write.

Make lists. I love making lists. Since I write westerns, I made a list of word substitutions for the word “horse” . Make a list of spicey words. Instead of the word jump, what other word would make that descriptive phrase better? Make an alphaetical list of your character names with a brief discription, like red hair, green eyes, trimmed mustache.

Prepare a timeline of your novel, scene by scene.

So there you go. Hope you have a productive week!

 

Injecting Perfection


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

Injecting Perfection

By Nandy Ekle

 

The twisted little body lies on the slab. So far that’s all it is, just a lifeless rag. I’ve put a suture here and there to string pieces together in an effort to make the body whole. There are a few loose ends, but those will heal once the life begins.

I have a whole ward of these lifeless little things. Some of them could be beautiful; some of them could be powerful. But all of them are mine. The only thing missing from each one is a beginning sentence.

These special little wads of bodies are ideas that I’ve had for stories. They pop in my head at random times, sometimes uncanny in their ability to find the most inappropriate moments to show up. I can be in the middle of a sentence during a conversation with a complete stranger when one of these ideas knocks on the door and says, “Guess what!” Or I can be deeply immersed in reading a work with strong hands that keep my attention, except for the split second when I hear, “Sort of like what happened to me.” Music brings them, pictures bring them, people walking down the street bring them. One time an idea spoke so loud I woke up from sleep in the middle of the night to listen.

I take the idea and lay it on a slab, gluing it down with my ink and a promise saying, “Don’t go anywhere, I’ll be right back,” and usually I do come back and fiddle with it a little more. Occasionally, though, they get tired of waiting on me and go on to find someone else with more time – but for the most part, they wait patiently.

So I look at this one particular idea and see the marks of where I have tried to find the right sequence of words to inject into its veins that will open its eyes. I see a lot of needle marks, but still the eyes have not opened. I do remember a flutter, though. This poor little waif is in two parts, and the second part is set. The first sentence of that scene caused the eyeballs underneath the lids to roll in a curious REM fashion, but they did not open. The first part is not there yet.

From all the words that exist in language today, there has got to be a combination that works to open these eyes. And so I will continue to look for the perfect fit, that special key that will give life to this story. Then I can move on to the next.

Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.

Ramblings


Ramblings

by Adam Huddleston

 

So, what do you do you are up against the deadline and you have no ideas (or good ones at least) for a blog post bouncing around in your cranium?

You ramble.

I love to read. Most writers do. I used to real a lot more before marriage, kids, and a career inserted themselves into my life. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining. I love my life now, but I remember a day when I would stretch out with a good horror or fantasy novel and spend a couple of hours in page-turning relaxation.

Now I sneak a couple of minutes in here and there. Traveling to east Texas to see family helps. Whether by car or by plane, I am usually afforded a few peaceful moments to spend in my favorite pastime. It takes me about twice as long to finish a novel as it used to, but the payoff is still the same. I’m currently half-way through “Mr. Mercedes” and look to have it finished before my birthday in October when I hope to receive the sequel, “Finders Keepers.”

When do you like to read? Do you have a favorite spot to read in? I hope ya’ll do!

Happy writing (and reading)!