FOIBLES


FOIBLES

by Sharon Stevens

I was reading a young adult novel this week.

Let me rephrase that. I attempted to read a young adult novel until I reached chapter four, and I just couldn’t bear to read another word. I had to put the book down.

It wasn’t that it was evil or dirty. The cover was beautiful. The writing was bright, and the characters engaging. The author brought each person to life, gave them a past, and you just knew the story would share a future until the very last word amid the final period or exclamation point.

So why did I set aside a perfectly good book and weep? Only for the simple fact that the author wasn’t true to the characters stored within the soul of the memories.

It was so hard for me to lay down these pages. I wanted to know the ending and how the main character achieved her goals, but I just couldn’t bear witness as the heroine lost her way. I truly felt whoever wrote the book that she or he betrayed the heart just to write the story, not caring if their beliefs mattered or the time period matched.

My passion in life is to read, and I will read anything and everything within reason…cereal boxes, Reader’s Digest, marketing blurbs, I love it all. BUT I will not sacrifice or betray a book just to read a tale.

Our critique group, Wordsmith Six, works so hard to get it right. We try time and again to share our musings, but we are totally honest and true to our craft. Each speaks up when we hear an echo, or we lose our focus, or our characters stray off the beaten path. Every individual in our group helps us to get back on track before we stray too far afield.

Not only that, the speakers that present at our Panhandle Professional Writers meetings, and the presenters at our Frontiers in Writing Conferences, say in so many words time and again to remain true to the characters we believe in, that we write about.

As writers, we not only have the ability and the commitment to build a life and make it come alive, but we also have to honor the most basic concept of writing 101.

We can give our characters a twist or thicken the plot, but we must strive to always be dedicated to those we write into our stories. Instill in them a spirit and passion, trials and tribulations. Never forget that each person connects together at some point, and we have to stand steadfast for each and every one. And please note I would have had this same opinion as a reader way before I became a writer.

My Webster’s Dictionary gives the description of the word “foible” as a weakness. I have nothing against the author of this book, otherwise it was beautifully written. Someday I may return to its pages. To me this was a weakness that would have come across if there had been a strong critique group to catch the glaring errors. He or she has probably sold a million copies. I think it’s that good. And I can imagine that people of all ages have fallen in love with this book. I just can’t be one of them.

My loyalty lies with the characters. They deserve at least that much.

It’s as simple as this, and comes right down to this fact. Bees love flowers, bears treasure honey, and a leopard can never, ever change its spots.

End of story.

Consistency creates success


Consistency creates success

At the 2012 Frontiers in Writing conference in Amarillo Texas, I had the opportunity to speak to the “First Timers” class. Several years ago this type of class proved to be very helpful in preparing me for my first writing conference. Important writing information is shared such as what to expect when attending a writers conference, appropriate attire, behavior toward guest speakers and agents, how to choose which classes to sit through, and how an individual can maximize their learning experience for a profitable return on their investment paid at registration.

During the open forum portion of the class, a student asked the question, “Does an author become successful because they write a minimum number of pages or words a day?”

The truth is, each writer is different. Some write minimum word counts; others write volumes of pages quickly or stretch those words out over hours.

When you look at successful writers the one thing that is common among them all is consistency.

Whether it’s one word or ten, slow or fast, they write every day.

Rory C. Keel

Frontiers in Writing 2012


2012 Frontiers in Writing Conference

By Natalie Bright

Ladies and gentlemen,

The 2012 Frontiers in Writing Conference is finished, wrapped up, sealed in a box. And what a conference it was! We were graced by such huge names as Phyliss Miranda, Hilary Sares, Candace Havens and Jodi Thomas, as well as local PPW talents such as Jeff Campbell, Joe Trent, and Mary Lou Cheatham. If you missed it, you missed a treasure trove of information, support and inspiration.

It is with great pleasure that we declare the 2012 FiW Conference an absolute success.

Watch panhandleprowriters.org for more information.

PEN TO WIN!


PEN TO WIN!

With the precision of a surgeon’s hand, the written word can touch the human heart. The arched and looped letters of the alphabet skillfully arranged can fill the mind or thrill the soul.

Like a machine that transcends the barriers of time and space, the passages of a story are able carry the reader through the ages, both past and future. The words on every page turned reveals to the reader grand and exotic far-away places or the dark areas that are hidden within themselves.

The writing of the wise often compels the strong to see their own weaknesses and flaws, while the weak can learn to be strong with the same words. Yes, the pen is truly mighty.

In the early 1800’s, a young child by the name of Edward wore the label of a neurotic child. Pawned from one boarding school to another after his father’s death, he discovered the craft of writing. Encouraged to publish a small work of poetry at the age of fifteen, he went on to publish many famous works. The name of this young boy was Edward Bulwer-Lytton.

In 1839, this English politician, poet, playwright, and novelist coined the phrase “the pen is mightier than the sword,” in his play Richelieu.

So where do you begin? You start with From Pen to Win!”

This is a special orientation session for first-time Frontiers in Writing Conference attendees to explain what to expect and answer all of your concerns. It will be held  Thursday, June 28 at Barnes and Noble, starting a 7:30 P.M., located at 2415 Soncy Road in Amarillo, TX.

You’ll walk into the FiW conference on Friday feeling confident and prepared to begin your writing journey.

Rory C. Keel

PEN TO WIN!


PEN TO WIN!

With the precision of a surgeon’s hand, the written word can touch the human heart. The arched and looped letters of the alphabet skillfully arranged can fill the mind or thrill the soul.

Like a machine that transcends the barriers of time and space, the passages of a story are able carry the reader through the ages, both past and future. The words on every page turned reveals to the reader grand and exotic far-away places or the dark areas that are hidden within themselves.

The writing of the wise often compels the strong to see their own weaknesses and flaws, while the weak can learn to be strong with the same words. Yes, the pen is truly mighty.

In the early 1800’s, a young child by the name of Edward wore the label of a neurotic child. Pawned from one boarding school to another after his father’s death, he discovered the craft of writing. Encouraged to publish a small work of poetry at the age of fifteen, he went on to publish many famous works. The name of this young boy was Edward Bulwer-Lytton.

In 1839, this English politician, poet, playwright, and novelist coined the phrase “the pen is mightier than the sword,” in his play Richelieu.

So where do you begin? You start with From Pen to Win!”

This is a special orientation session for first-time Frontiers in Writing Conference attendees to explain what to expect and answer all of your concerns. It will be held  Thursday, June 28 at Barnes and Noble, starting a 7:30 P.M., located at 2415 Soncy Road in Amarillo, TX.

You’ll walk into the FiW conference on Friday feeling confident and prepared to begin your writing journey.

Rory C. Keel

PEN TO WIN!


PEN TO WIN!

With the precision of a surgeon’s hand, the written word can touch the human heart. The arched and looped letters of the alphabet skillfully arranged can fill the mind or thrill the soul.

Like a machine that transcends the barriers of time and space, the passages of a story are able carry the reader through the ages, both past and future. The words on every page turned reveals to the reader grand and exotic far-away places or the dark areas that are hidden within themselves.

The writing of the wise often compels the strong to see their own weaknesses and flaws, while the weak can learn to be strong with the same words. Yes, the pen is truly mighty.

In the early 1800’s, a young child by the name of Edward wore the label of a neurotic child. Pawned from one boarding school to another after his father’s death, he discovered the craft of writing. Encouraged to publish a small work of poetry at the age of fifteen, he went on to publish many famous works. The name of this young boy was Edward Bulwer-Lytton.

In 1839, this English politician, poet, playwright, and novelist coined the phrase “the pen is mightier than the sword,” in his play Richelieu.

So where do you begin? You start with From Pen to Win!”

This is a special orientation session for first-time Frontiers in Writing Conference attendees to explain what to expect and answer all of your concerns. It will be held  Thursday, June 28 at Barnes and Noble, starting a 7:30 P.M., located at 2415 Soncy Road in Amarillo, TX.

You’ll walk into the FiW conference on Friday feeling confident and prepared to begin your writing journey.

Rory C. Keel

PEN TO WIN!


PEN TO WIN!

With the precision of a surgeon’s hand, the written word can touch the human heart. The arched and looped letters of the alphabet skillfully arranged can fill the mind or thrill the soul.

Like a machine that transcends the barriers of time and space, the passages of a story are able carry the reader through the ages, both past and future. The words on every page turned reveals to the reader grand and exotic far-away places or the dark areas that are hidden within themselves.

The writing of the wise often compels the strong to see their own weaknesses and flaws, while the weak can learn to be strong with the same words. Yes, the pen is truly mighty.

In the early 1800’s, a young child by the name of Edward wore the label of a neurotic child. Pawned from one boarding school to another after his father’s death, he discovered the craft of writing. Encouraged to publish a small work of poetry at the age of fifteen, he went on to publish many famous works. The name of this young boy was Edward Bulwer-Lytton.

In 1839, this English politician, poet, playwright, and novelist coined the phrase “the pen is mightier than the sword,” in his play Richelieu.

So where do you begin? You start with From Pen to Win!”

This is a special orientation session for first-time Frontiers in Writing Conference attendees to explain what to expect and answer all of your concerns. It will be held  Thursday, June 28 at Barnes and Noble, starting a 7:30 P.M., located at 2415 Soncy Road in Amarillo, TX.

You’ll walk into the FiW conference on Friday feeling confident and prepared to begin your writing journey.

Rory C. Keel

Creating History for Fictional Characters


Creating History for Fictional Characters

By Natalie Bright

“I’m not quite sure what I feel is missing.” This from an agent who had requested my middle grade novel. “It doesn’t feel fully cooked yet.”

What’s missing? This character has haunted me and has woken me up nights for almost a year. My critique group had critiqued every word, phrase and scene. They loved it! I posted this agent’s email on my bulletin board and studied them over and over. All the while this character keeps clogging my brain. She’s ready for two more adventures and I still don’t know what’s missing.

While lunching with writer friends, the discussion turned to their small town series. One already had a contract for seven novels, and the other had plans for four with hopes of pitching her idea in the near future. They discussed the dynamics of creating a fictional town with characters that must ultimately resonate with readers. I asked them how would one keep up with all of that detail, not just who is who, but the history of how they

got there, the street layout, the minute details that bring a story to life for the readers?

Their answer involved two very different processes, which I’d like to sharing with you here: Jodi Thomas [www.jodithomas.com] keeps all of that detail in her head. She becomes so engrossed in the world she creates, that if she writes any notes it’s hard for her brain to remember if she used that in the book or not. The town, the people, their quirks and strengths, all vividly ramble around in her amazing head. She can “see” the streets, the buildings, the characters as they play out the story. While she’s writing one book, her brain is working out details for the next and the next. Her character’s reactions and personalities chart the course.

Phyliss Miranda [www.phylissmiranda.com] begins with extensive research on her location and develops detailed characterizations. She charts a family tree for her characters, going back several generations. She writes detailed descriptions on what they look like, their good and bad habits, their favorite foods, childhood experiences, etc.

Both agreed that giving your characters a history is very important. I replied that my main character is only eleven, so she doesn’t have much history to tell. Their response was a rapid-fire line of questioning: How did her father and mother meet? Where was her mother born? Why did is her father a US Marshall? Where do her grandparents live? Horrors! I had to admit that I didn’t know the answer to any of those questions.

Today, I’m happy to report my character has a history. Over the New Year’s Holiday I created family tree charts, expanded my characterizations, drew a town plat, and because I write historical, I made a complete time line on creation of the town. And the best thing, I got ideas for two more adventures.

Now, if I only had the courage to submit it again…

NOTE:  Both of these authors will be speaking at Frontiers in Writing Conference June 28-30 at Amarillo, Texas. Jodi will be talking about finding inspiration to write every day at the Friday night dinner, and Phyliss will be conducting a workshop on developing characters. www.panhandleprowriters.org click on the FiW Conference tab.

Natalie Bright