Archives For Craft

Any posts that have to do with the craft of writing, including posts about character, plot, etc.

Since Shonna is taking some time off, I thought I’d find other interesting things to share with you guys! :) If you’re interested in participating in National Novel Writing Month, you might be interested in this cool class! I’ll find something else I think might be interesting to you next Friday. Happy Writing and happy weekend!

HURRY!   SIGN UP NOW.  CLASS STARTS MONDAY.

“Conquering National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)” with Alison Diem

October 15 – November 11, 2012

Enrollment Information at http://www.occrwa.org/onlineclassOct12.html

COST: $20 for OCCRWA members, $30 for non-members

If you have specific questions, email occrwaonlineclass@yahoo.com

ABOUT THE CLASS:

Push your career forward.  Whether you are brand new to National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) or a veteran participant – this class will get you sitting down, writing and meeting those goals.

Alison Diem, your instructor and a 10-year NaNoWriMo veteran, will answer all of those burning questions (and doubts) about the challenge – how it works and how to get through the process.  NaNoWriMo can be a break-through opportunity.  Make it yours!

The first two weeks of class will prepare you for the entire month – from getting registered to tips on surviving Turkey Day with writing goals intact.  There’ll be a night before kick-off party, appropriately coinciding with Halloween.  Then, on November 1, the entire class dives into their NaNo novels.

As NaNoWriMo gets underway, there’ll be support systems and an arsenal of weapons for blasting through daily word counts and actually getting onto paper (or screen) 50,000 words in 30 days.

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR:

As a NaNoWriMo participant for the past decade, Alison Diem knows all of the ups and the downs of this challenge.  In “winning” four different times, she’s learned some important techniques that she’s going to share with her students.  These are tools to use, not just during November, but all year long.

Alison is a writer of intricate stories involving history, the paranormal, adventure, magic, mystery, murder, fantasy, steampunk, creatures that may (or may not) be real and any combination thereof. Also, dragons.  She recently moved back to Ann Arbor, MI with her husband, Bear, and her kitty Harvey.

She is also very, very tall. You know, for a girl.  You can find her at http://www.alisondiem.com

Enrollment Information

Enrollment Information at http://www.occrwa.org/onlineclassOct12.html

COST: $20 for OCCRWA members, $30 for non-members

Coming in November 2012

Submission: Writing a Short Story for Anthology Call-Out with Louisa Bacio

This class deals with catering a short story specifically to a publisher’s request for submissions. Regularly, editors and publishers list upcoming anthologies and the types of stories they’re looking to include.

Check out our full list of workshop at http://www.occrwa.org/onlineclasses.html

Want to be notified personally two weeks before each class? Be sure you’re signed up for our Online Class Notices Yahoo Group! Sign up at the bottom of http://www.occrwa.org/onlineclasses.html or send a blank email to OCCRWAOnlineClassNotices-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

          This isn’t the first time I’ve been surprised that it is Wednesday and I have no blog written. I think it might be the first time that I haven’t twisted my schedule into knots trying to write something at least a little interesting and helpful. This time, though, I really have no time. I have papers due, computer labs to finish, art projects and studying for mid-terms all vying for my attention. I’m taking 20 minutes to compose and upload this, then it’s back to doling out pieces to each of the screaming vultures devouring my time.

          In the course of writing a paper defining the term subplot for my English Composition class, I came across a website, Seven Story Plat Patterns, that might be useful. It’s written to those teaching children. Your first inclination may be to dismiss it or to be insulted. Don’t. When I homeschooled my children, I discover the best way to get a good overview of a topic was to get a children’s book on the topic. Although I did not use this site in my paper, it was a huge help in focusing the direction of my research and my writing. I hope it helps you, too.

         Off to feed those birds!

Output is limited by input. Things don’t “come to you” so much as they “come out of you.” Ideas don’t appear from nowhere; they are the result of the combination and permutation of previously existing ideas.”  –Andrew Pudewa Thoughts on Creativity

Last night I had this crazy dream where I was trying to let the dog in through a sliding glass door (my house doesn’t have a sliding door) but these large, evil, peregrine falcons kept trying to get into the house at the same time. My poor arms were pecked at and bleeding.

Where did these random dream thoughts come from? 1. There was a story on the news that night about the actress who played the lead in the Alfred Hitchcock movie The Birds and they showed several scenes of attacking birds. 2. Before turning out my light I was reading Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and if you’ve read this novel, you’ll understand where I got the peregrine from. So, while I was sleeping my brain took images and ideas from my day and mashed them up into a new dream sequence.

I write my novels the same way.

One idea paired with another idea sparks a concept. Add some more thought and research and then I’ve got a basic plot. I’m at my most creative when my mind is spilling over with ideas. What happens when I’m stuck? I need to go out and find more ideas—either new information or something that jogs my memory and sets me off on my merry way again.

Speaking of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and the question: Where does Creativity come from? I love the concept of this book. The author, Ransom Riggs, took a bunch of old crazy photos and wrote a book around them.

I’m still mid-read in the novel, but aargh! I wish I had thought of this idea. Of course, my story behind the pictures and would have been different, but still…what a great concept! I’m frequently flipping through old photographs looking for ideas/setting/mood for my historical fantasies. Not once have I thought of including them in the books! *writer envy*

And you may as well go check out Ransom Rigg’s website. He’s got a few items there to stir your creativity.

 

          I’ve been so amazingly busy the past few weeks that I’m despairing of ever being able to get a blog written before the last minute. :) This week I have several beginnings of blogs, but nothing fleshed out and finished. Rather than rush the creative process and force one of those ideas into a mediocre post, I’m going to change tack.

          Even so, I’m not giving you something totally unrelated to what’s going on in my life. I’ve actually been trying to re-discover my writing, to re-connect with words in my life, to re-new my enthusiasm and my output. Writing doesn’t happen in a vacuum. I can’t just will myself to write. I need a little help. (We all do. That’s one of my “beginnings” and I’ll expand on that in a future post.) I realized I probably needed more than a little guidance. Where do I go when I need help? A search engine, of course. (What did we do before the Internet? ;) )

          I came across this blog, Top 10 Blogs for Writers. There is enough material here to inspire and instruct me for a long time. I hope you agree. Enjoy!

I’ve been sitting in front of my computer trying to figure out what to say to you. I have little in terms of writing advice except this: write it down. Don’t forget the things that are important. Write them down even if no one else ever reads your journal, even if you never read what you wrote ever again. Don’t forget. The advice I’ve been giving myself lately is – write even if it hurts.

I haven’t been taking the advice, but I think it’s sound. I don’t want to forget any of the time I spent with Mom in her last weeks. I don’t want to ever forget the one-on-one time we had when she told me how proud she was of me, how she knew I’d go far with my writing, how the best writers are older because they had to live their lives first in order to know what was important enough to say, to remember.

I don’t want to forget how we laughed so much while she was in dialysis for three hours that we had to wonder if that’s why her blood pressure cuff broke that day.

I want to remember how she made me laugh when she whispered in my ear on one of the bad days, “He watches me while I sleep.” I was sure I hadn’t heard her correctly, and she had such a hard time breathing that it was hard to understand her. I leaned my ear next to her mouth, and asked her what she said. “Your brother. He watches me while I sleep. It’s disconcerting.” I pulled back to look at her face and realized her wheezing was laughter. She was in the final week of her life, could barely breathe, and she was joking around about how my brother wouldn’t leave her side, even while she slept.

This is the stuff I want to write down in my journal so I’ll have it forever, but it makes me cry. (And it takes so much longer to write things out longhand.) I’m already tired of crying, tired of the mood swings. But from what everyone tells me, this is the beginning of a long road. Great.

Of all the reasons why I’m forcing myself to move forward, even a little bit at a time, with my writing and my writing business, it’s Mom’s last private words to me that push me to work. My mother believes that there is a future that includes people reading my work and laughing or crying or feeling better or having hope. She believes not just in my writing, but in my ability to make a life out of words. I don’t know how long she’s felt that way, but this month is the first time I really heard it.

So, as much as it hurt, and past my deadline this week, I wanted to write that part down for you. You need to believe that it’s important to write or you may let it slip away from you. If it does slip away and you don’t feel a void, that’s okay. Maybe writing was only for a season in your life and you are or will be ready to let it go, to let something better take its place. But for as long as you believe your words and thoughts and feelings are important, write them down.

 

Me and My Mom in Sydney

I am about to leave for Michigan to visit my mom. She’s been in ICU since Easter and a very generous friend bought me a plane ticket home to see her! (Thank you, God!) In the rush to leave tomorrow, I thought I’d leave you with some things I’ve been reading about lately.

First, I just signed up for the Self-Publishers Online Conference! Yay! The last day to get the Early Bird Discount – $50 off – is today! Check it out and see if it’s something you’d be interested in. There is also a free “preview” call on May 2 that you can sign up for on the web site. I’ve listened to both of the other free preview calls and I’ve enjoyed them enough to decide to sign up for the conference.

Interested in learning more about what people are earning from self-publishing? I’ve linked to Debra Holland’s blog several times so you can read about her wild and crazy success. In fact, just last week she made the USA Today bestseller list with an ebook! To get a difference perspective, some of us are still not making much. My book, Little Miss Lovesick, came out the end of September and I only last week sold enough copies on Barnes & Noble to warrant getting paid. (You only have to earn $10.) Here is a blog post from Rhonda Pollero, a writer who is taking the long view on her sales.

Speaking of income, here’s an article from Novelists, Inc. by writer and teacher, Lawrence Block on writers and income. Very level-headed.

Dean Wesley Smith wrote a post comparing how much you might make selling short fiction to a traditional source, like a magazine, versus self-publishing it. I’d been wondering about this myself.

When the whole writing and publishing business gets you down to the point where you aren’t doing anything (writing, for instance  ::waves hand in the air:: ), consider again the power of positive affirmations. Here’s a post on that from the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood.

After you get yourself psyched up from the power of your positive thinking, you may decide to procrastinate just a tiny bit more in the name of research and craft. If so, here is an article from Writers in the Storm with “13 Ways To Show (Rather Than Tell) in Your Love Story.”   And Savvy Authors has an article  on “Writing with Emotion – Yours!” that I enjoyed.

By the way, if you write humorous romantic fiction and still think it’s okay to say “chick lit” in front of other writers, here’s a site for you.  I just found it and haven’t explored it, but I was excited that there are other women out there writing fun stories who aren’t ashamed to admit it. :)

If you’re interested in writing a nonfiction piece about your self-publishing journey, this might be of interest to you. Flirty Author Bitches have a call for submissions on that topic. Again, haven’t looked into it much yet, but it looks interesting to me. (Maybe something to do in the hospital during the long hours of waiting.)

Finally, do you blog? Do you think having pictures makes your blog more interesting and easier to read? Do you have a heck of a time trying to find such picutures? ::me waving my hand wildly again:: I did a Google search (my husband’s answer to everything) and found this. Happy Kitty.

I hope one or more of these pieces helps you. Remember to look into the Self-Publishers Online Conference today in case you want to register and get the Early Bird Discount. And read that article on affirmations. Figure out what affirmations look like to you. I’m going to read it again and journal on it and come up with a system that works for me. I think I’ll incorporate Bible truths into mine, something that I can believe in easily without having to force myself. “I am a bestselling author” doesn’t work for me. But “All good and perfect gifts come from God, and I use my gifts to encourage and entertain others” is something I already believe to be true. Hmm, I might have to blog more about that! :)

Happy Writing, Everyone! Thank you to everyone who has been praying for my mom, my family, and me! Keep those prayers coming – they’re working!