THE BIG WHY


THE BIG WHY

Natalie Bright

 

First off, stop asking yourself why. The best piece of advice I’ve ever received, first heard from David Morrell at the Oklahoma Writers Federation conference in Oklahoma City.

Believe me, you’ll never find the reason or make sense as to why the stories in your head are in your head. I’ve wasted too much time pondering that question. The ideas come from so many parts of you: your childhood memories, those kids that made fun of you, the people you know who made an impact good or bad, the places you’ve lived, your life today. It’s all there in your stories.

When I added fiction writing to my job related and freelance work about 15 years ago, I had envisioned becoming a romance writer. My goals were to sign with an agent and attend the Romance Writers of America conference every year. I’m a huge fan of romances, and most of my author friends write romance. It stands to reason that I’d be cranking those stories out on a regular basis.

Wrong.

The stories in my head were not romance.

The characters that interrupted my dreams were young people, most often from the past. More specifically in the old West. I remember being fascinated with history, the Oregon Trail, and the old West from an early age, but I never imagined I’d be crafting novels set in that time period.

WWA is the West

I attended the Western Writers of America convention in Lubbock, Texas several years ago. This is a diverse group, with songwriters, poets, historians, museum archivists, writers of nonfiction and fiction, editors, agents, musicians, and newbies and veteran authors.

As a first-time attendee and new member, I didn’t expect to make many connections. I listened to a panel of New York City authors share facts about The Alamo that I’d never heard before. Songwriters and talented musicians shared their gift of music every night in the Roundup Room. A panel on writing about the Comanche Nation included great-grandsons of the great chief Quanah Parker! I met the lady who would become my editor, and now she is my co-author.

Here’s what I learned during this amazing week: these people don’t worry about the WHY.

They endlessly research the subjects they love. They write about the people and the places that burn a hole in their gut.  A writer writes. So now I’m writing a book about chuckwagons and a new Christian fiction series set on a Texas ranch. Neither are romance novels, but I stopped questioning the why years ago.

FIND YOUR PEEPS

Whatever you feel driven to write, I encourage you to seek out like-minded people. Join a writer’s group, read your work aloud and listen to the input. Attend a conference, preferably relating to your genre. Introduce yourself and ask someone, “what do you write?” More than likely they will return the question.

Feed your knowledge about this business. Attend workshops or take online classes about characterization, writing a killer query letter, publishing your book on IngramSpark – these are all goals you can achieve.

Stop questioning the why.

Nataliebright.com

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WHAT I WRITE—PART 4


WHAT I WRITE—PART 4

Lynnette Jalufka

 

 

A major part of deciding what genre I write is defining my audience. I write what I want to read. So, who am I?

Well, I’m obviously a woman, who has lived long enough to know that life is very hard, no matter what century you live in. Everything is conspiring to crush my dreams, but I press on. I’m desperate to know that there is hope after I make a wrong decision, when life takes a cruel turn, that disaster can be overcome. I want to be encouraged.

To escape my insignificant life, I read about another time far removed from my own. An adventure where I can hear thundering hooves and clashing steel, where men are bold and courageous when they have to be, and ladies can be just as bold and courageous, with a little romance in the mix. A clean book, one that does not contain profanity, descriptive sex, or graphic violence.

So, what do I write? Inspiring fiction with a medieval twist.

FLASH FICTION


FLASH FICTION

Adam Huddleston

 

This week, I wanted to give an example of the flash fiction that I used to write (and later judge). Specific keywords (decided upon by me or whatever kid might be within shouting range) had to be used and the word count could not exceed one-hundred words.  The author was tasked with doing their best in creating a beginning, moving the plot forward, and providing an adequate climax.

The five keywords (off the top of my head) that I will use are: envelope, basketball, horse, generous, and final.

Arthur wiped away a tear as he read the envelope’s contents. His beloved horse, Sprinkles, was to be put down in less than a week.  Although the majestic beast had won many races, his final contest proved to be his downfall.  As Sprinkles was coming down the back stretch, a stray basketball had bounced onto the track, causing him to crash.  The horse’s leg shattered.

Arthur offered a generous sum to whomever would identify the perpetrator of the crime.  Within a week, the accused was found; Arthur’s son.   Punishment was unnecessary; the loss was sentence enough.

Point of View


Outtakes 392

Point of View

By Cait Collins

I do not make detailed character sketches or outlines.  That much organization makes me want to go to one of the happy places people tell me about.  You know the places where there’s no stress.  My writing style is more of dump it in and edit later.  Maybe that’s why I often have problems with point of view. I often mix Points Of view (POV) in the same scene.

I’m often asked if I intended the story to be told from an Omniscient Point of View.  That might work if I wrote non-fiction or educational material.  But I write women’s fiction, plays, screenplays, and memoirs.  These genres have definite points of view.

For example, the heroine in my current work has returned home after seven years as an actress.  She’s found a measure of happiness and fulfillment managing her uncle’s pottery shop.  All of a sudden, the past comes crashing in and threatening to destroy her new world. The story is told from three major points of view: the heroine, the hero, and the antagonists.  I think I finally have found the way to keep from violating the POV.  When I change the actual setting of the story, I start a new chapter with a new speaker and a new POV.

A Brief History of Children’s Literature


A Brief History of Children’s Literature

Natalie Bright

We are blogging about what we write this month on WordsmithSix. Some of the stories in my head are for children.

While cleaning out cabinets, I discovered an old textbook and since I also write for children, the history of Kid Lit was fascinating to me. “Tell me a story” is as old as time, and generations have passed down embellished family tales for centuries. I hope you find this interesting.

The Ancient World [ancient Rome; 50 BCE to 500 CE]

  • oral tale; composed not to be read but to be heard
  • children listened to poems of Homer, the Iliad, the Trojan War, the Odyssey
  • adults might be drawn by love story; children by adventure, monsters
  • Aesop’s Fables–animal tales with pointed morals

The Middle Ages [500 to 1500 CE]

  • Reading
    • fewer children could read; little written for them
    • childhood generally ignored and kept as short as possible
  • Fables and other tales
    • The Deeds of the Romans [late 13th C] collection of moral tales and fables; sources of plots for centuries]
    • animals’ stories have always been favorites of children
    • biblical stories; lives of saints; local legends
    • no distinction between fantasy and reality; storytellers freely mingled magic, enchantment, the ludicrous, and the serious
    • the literature was rich with childlike imagination, full of wonder, mystery, excitement

The European Renaissance [1500-1650 CE]

  • Instructional Books
    • children more literate
    • reading materials were instructional books (Books of Courtesy) and works written primarily for adults
    • still had Aesop’s Fables
    • by end of the 17th century social changes were well underway and there was a path cleared for a genuine literature for children.

The 17th Century

  • childhood began to take on new importance
  • adults began to recognize the special needs of childhood, including the need for childhood reading
  • two specific influences brought a heightened sense of special needs of the child
    • Religious: rise of Puritanism, that placed special emphasis on the individual’s need to tend to his or her own salvation
    • Intellectual: work of John Locke, the English philosopher who believed every child possessed the capacity for leaning and that it was the responsibility of adults to see to the proper education of children
  • Bunyan, Defoe, Swift
    • children continued to adopt certain adult works of literature–Pilgrim’s Progress, Robinson Crusoe, Gulliver’s Travels

The 18th and Early 19th Centuries

  • John Newbery
    • Little Pretty Pocket Book (1744) first significant publication for children
  • Rousseau and the Moral Tale
    • expressed his ideas about education in Emile (1762), emphasized the importance of moral development–through simple living
    • books taught children how to be good and proper human beings
    • children¹s writing was considered inferior to adult writing and therefore mostly composed by women
  • Rise of the Folktales
    • 1729–Tales of Mother Goose by Charles Parrault, retellings including Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty
    • throughout the eighteenth century, more and more retellings appeared
    • beginning of 19th century–Grimm brothers
    • folktales were not considered expressly for children
    • some adults felt them unsuitable for children as they contained adult themes, alarming frankness and violence, lack of moral messages however children, nevertheless, continued to read and love the old tales

The Victorians: The Golden Age

  • during the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901) children’s literature first blossomed as first-rate authors and illustrators began to turn their talents to children and their books
  • Fantasies
    • 1865, Lewis Carroll (Charles Dodgson–math prof at Oxford) published Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and began a new era in children¹s literature
    • first significant publication for children that abandoned all pretense of instruction and was offered purely for enjoyment
    • Kingsley’s The Water Babies (1863); MacDonald’s The Princess and the Goblin (1872); Baum’s The Wizard of Oz (1900); Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows (1908).
  • Adventure Stories (for boys)
    • especially popular Stevenson’s Treasure Island (1883); Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1976) and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884)
    • British children seemed to prefer stories set in faraway and unfamiliar places; Americans more attracted to adventure stories set in America and rags-to-riches stories
    • Dime Novels–sensational, lacking style and depth, cheap–were immensely popular
  • School Stories (for boys)
    • antics of boys at boarding schools: Tom Brown’s School Days (1857)
    • school stories (virtually always coming-of-age tales) occasionally appear in the 20th century, such as The Chocolate War
  • Domestic Stories (for girls)
    • tales of home and family life focusing on the activities of a virtuous heroine, usually coming from dire straits and achieving good fortune and ultimate happiness in the person of a handsome young man
    • Alcott’s Little Women (1868) and Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables (1908)
  • Children’s Book Illustration
    • books of 18th century and earlier either lacked illustrations altogether or contained crude woodblock illustration–serious artists did not draw for children’s books
    • At the end of the 19th century, changes in publishing and printing attracted great illustrators
    • by end of the 19th century, stunningly illustrated children’s books were available at reasonable prices
    • by 1st quarter of 20th century, libraries were designating children’s rooms–or at least children¹s shelves–children’s literature had at last come of age.

Twentieth Century: Widening Worlds

  • greater diversity in children’s books
  • picture books to poetry to fantasy to realistic fiction to informational books

BIO: Natalie Bright is the author of a middle grade series for kids, TROUBLE IN TEXAS: Book 1 Hangin’ Day; Book 2 The Great Train Caper; and coming soon Book 3 Murder in the Morning. She also writers true rescue horse stories for kids, easy readers for 3rd/4thgrade level: Flash: The Story of Meand TAZ & THE BIG FLAPPY THING.

WHAT I WRITE—PART 3


WHAT I WRITE—PART 3

Lynnette Jalufka

I was surprised when my critique group called my current book a young adult novel. It does have a seventeen-year-old heroine. In fact, I have a young adult either as a protagonist or a major character in all my ideas for future novels. And I’ve been reading several young adult books lately. I like journeying with young people as they struggle to find their place in the world.  But I didn’t write this book for a teenage audience, which is the main component of YA. I’m writing what I want to read as an adult. Then again, adults make up half the YA readership.

There is another problem with categorizing this novel as YA. It is the first in a series about a noble family determined to protect their kingdom. The second book concerns the relationship between a mother and her son as they deal with tragedy along with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The third one chronicles a woman as she deals with her teenage daughter and her mother-in-law while they’re lost in enemy territory. These sound more like women’s fiction than young adult, except with battles, sword fights, narrow escapes, and other fun stuff like that. I just don’t see how to market my current work as young adult without drastically changing the entire series into something I don’t recognize.

So, is my novel YA? I think young people will enjoy it. But branding it as such is a different matter.

What Choice


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

What Choice

By Nandy Ekle

I have always had a healthy sense of humor. I got that from my dad. I also got a love of words and love of reading from my dad, and my mom. My dad’s favorite genre is science fiction, but he also loves the old scary movies. My mom loves murder mysteries, and she also loves the old scary movies.

It should come as no surprise that I grew up watching Rod Serling’s Outer Limits, Twilight Zone, and The Night Gallery. It also should not be a huge surprise that to this day, I am an avid fan of The Addams Family.

Therefore, it should not be any kind of surprise at all that I write all things dark. It doesn’t matter how my story starts. I could have the most romantic intentions of writing a beautiful love story—boy meets girl, they instantly love each other, they overcome the greatest odds ever, and their love continues to eternity. But what usually happens is boy meets girl, they instantly love each other, but he is a serial killer and she loves the taste of blood, and they die together in a huge feast of souls.

See, it can’t be helped. That is why I say I never chose my genre. My genre chose me. Somewhere the world of horror stories looked into my head and noticed my dark sense of humor, my fascination with monsters (except spiders, which even that horror can produce some pretty good stories if you’re focusing on emotion), my understanding of people and how the mind works, and my eternal people watching skills, and said there she is. That’s our girl.

And really and truly, I’m pretty lucky because this means the stories come easily to me. I don’t have to draw detailed outlines and storyboards, making the craft of writing more like a fill-in-the-blank. And that means my writing is pure-dee-ole fun.

Congratulations. You have just received a postcard from the muse.

My Favorite Horror Movies: Revisited


My Favorite Horror Movies: Revisited

by Adam Huddleston

Here’s a blog from 2017.

Favorite Horror Movies

by Adam Huddleston

Since this will be my last blog before Halloween is upon us, I thought I’d share some of my favorite horror films.  In no particular order:

Night of the Creeps

Night of the Living Dead

The Thing

Silence of the Lambs

Jaws

Coraline

Poltergeist

The Shining

Psycho

Alien

Creepshow 1 and 2

If you are a fan of the genre, I highly recommend giving any of these movies a watch.  They are entertaining as well as wonderfully written, shot, and acted.

Happy viewing!

Memoirs


Outtakes 391

 

Memoirs

By Cait Collins

 

I never thought I’d write a memoir.  But after my husband died, I got a little lost. Writing about my life-long love affair with the northern east coast, I realized the genre could be cathartic. First Love Forever Love is not a sad story. Instead, it follows a journey to recovery. I didn’t write it as a poor-me journey. It’s a story of hope and the endurance of love. I have some final edits to make before sending it to my beta readers.

Tables is based on memories of growing up in the fifties and sixties as a military brat. I want my nieces and nephews to understand that there is a happy life without a Smart phone and a list of “friends”. We had a great life and could spend hours in the woods playing or picking wild blueberries. It was a time when moms were at home when school let out. Snacks were homemade, and homework was done and checked before we were allowed to turn it in. It was a time when families gathered around the dining table at the end of the day to talk and catch up. Yes, times have changed, but we can still learn from the past.

Memoirs don’t have to be dull or self-serving.  They can and should tell a story from the eyes of those who lived during the time and have so much to say about bygone years. Truthfully, I wish I had listened better when my parents and grandparents told about the Depression and Dust Bowl days. I wonder if I would have a different view of life if I could see the world from their eyes.

The Place Where Writing Flows


The Place Where Writing Flows

Rory C Keel

For me, reaching that place where writing flows happens when I put my self into the story. For a reader to be drawn into a story while reading, the writer has to go there first. When I see the setting and know the character’s good traits and flaws, when I feel their emotions, that’s the point when the writing flows. That place becomes very personal because, by putting myself in the story I must reveal pieces of myself, both good and bad.

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