So You Want to Write a Book – 5

Writers generally become writers because they are readers first. Actually, they are readers first, last, and always.

Most writers I know have a shelf (or several shelves) full  of books. Some of them are for reading pleasure; some are for inspiration; others are designed to help the writer hone the craft of writing.

Writing is a discipline as much as an art. And like other disciplines, it can be taught.

Two books that you will find on many writer’ shelves are William Zinsser’s On  Writing Well and Strunk and White’s Elements of Style. They are considered foundational by much of the writing community. Another favorite of many is Ann Lamott’s Bird by Bird.

If it’s by James Scott Bell, I’m looking at it very carefully. Randy Ingermanson is another favorite of mine. Then there’s Larry Brooks and Jeff Goins.

There are a host of others, but this will give you a start on building your own writing library.

When you have hit a wall or a blank spot in your writing, reading about writing may just give you the jump start you need to get rolling again.

Do you have a favorite writing author?

 

Advertisements
Posted in Ambition, Excellence, Reading List, Work, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Thankful Thursday – 5

Goal: 2018 things for which to be thankful in 2018

2018 divided by 52 equals 38.8.

Each Thankful Thursday post should contain a list of 39 gratitudes, an average of five or six every day.

  1. Delores getting over the flu without complications
  2. Dale home from the hospital and seemingly doing well
  3. A parking spot next to the door for critique group last Saturday
  4. A new member for critique group
  5. A special phone call from a critique group member
  6. Seeing a special friend at the pancake feed last night
  7. Finding an old book proposal (that never went anywhere) to rework
  8. Having an inspiration about that same old book proposal to tweak it and to improve its chances of being sold
  9. Finding a kindred spirit to lift a really bad mood
  10. Encouragement from a coworker for a daughter discouraged at work
  11. Making arrangements for a day off work to make a pleasure trip out of town
  12. Being able to hug the son of friends who lost his daughter a few months ago
  13. Seeing a special act of kindness at the pancake feed last night
  14. An evening out with friend-husband where we didn’t have to make a deadline
  15. A good report for my employer from her physician
  16. A slow day at work when we were short handed
  17. My computer at work that seemed to heal itself after a crash
  18. The gift of feeling more like 40 when I’m pushing 80
  19. The great-grandson-in-law who sent his wife (my great-granddaughter) flowers for no particular reason
  20. Finding the replacement for a dead vacuum cleaner on sale at half price
  21. Coming to grips with a difficult decision and being content with it
  22. Having a little money left at the end of the month rather than the other way around
  23. Getting my web hosting package renewed at a discount
  24. Finding childhood friends on FB after years of not being in touch
  25. My daughter’s plans to reorganize the craft room
  26. Sharing a Mikey’s funnies quip and having half a dozen FB friends enjoy it with me
  27. Making a service change that cut my phone bill by half
  28. Being able to keep up with my New Years commitments this far (most of my “resolutions” have been toast by January 15)
  29. A much anticipated appointment with my hairdresser this afternoon – so grateful I found her
  30. That my household has escaped the flu bug thus far
  31. The excision of a skin cancer on friend-husband’s forehead healing nicely
  32. Having my grandmother’s Gone-With-the-Wind lamp in my library/office

Okay, it’s bragging rights time. Several years ago, my eldest grandson married a beautiful young woman who had two sons by a previous marriage. Those boys are handsome, intelligent, ambitious, kind, disciplined and well-behaved young men, a reflection of their mother’s parenting skills when she was a single parent.

The elder is in high school, the younger in junior high. Both have specific plans for their futures. My heart swells with pride and gratitude every time I think of them.

Of course, it also swells with pride and gratitude when I think of their younger brother (age five) and infant sister as well.

I am also grateful that the older boys were able to spend some time with their grandmother (my daughter) at her home in Orlando and at Cape Kennedy with a NASA astronaut.

I simply can’t count the gratitudes in this situation. There are too many.

****************

ACH!  This has been a busy, busy week. This post was scheduled to publish on February 1 at 06:44.  Why it didn’t, I’ll never know. But I was too swamped to check on it. So here it is for what it’s worth. A week late and definitely very short on numbers.

Posted in Excellence, Faith, Family, Society, Values, Work, Writing | Tagged , | Leave a comment

So You Want to Write a Book – 4

One of the things I have personally found helpful is to follow the blogs of various literary agencies.

The Steve Laube Agency is a good one. This post by Bob Hostetler is a good example of the helpful topics discussed. Reading the comments generated at the end of the post helps as much as the post itself most times.

The agents, Dan Balow, Bob Hostetler, and Tamela Hancock Murray, post good information. The owner, Steve Laube, posts a Fun Friday gig on Fridays – of all things.

Books and Such Literary Management is an all girl establishment. And just like any other gaggle of geese – er, gals, information and opinions are shared from different points of view – always helpful.

Looking at the right hand column on their blog page, you will find some articles of permanent value.

Home – Blog – About Books and Such – Editors Select – Our Authors – Tips and Advice – Contact

I love the fact that they are so transparent about all that is going on.

Check out these two agencies. There are others, but this enough for a start. Subscribe to their blogs, read, make comments, and get a feel for who and what is out there.

You are NOT alone.

Posted in Ambition, Excellence, Reading List, Values, Work | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thankful Thursday – 4

Goal: 2018 things for which to be thankful in 2018

2018 divided by 52 equals 38.8.

Each Thankful Thursday post should contain a list of 39 gratitudes, an average of five or six every day.

  1. Wednesday prayer partner’s medical procedure went well
  2. Three “chance” encounters led to an epiphany in a project I’d had on the back burner
  3. A new idea for an income stream
  4. Meeting a new friend of my granddaughter
  5. The opportunity to edit a manuscript for a ministry I’d like to support
  6. Cinnamon rolls friend-husband brought home from an out of town trip
  7. Sonic’s burger and shake special
  8. New member for our writers group
  9. Arietta (mini Aussie pup) learning to sit at doors before we open them
  10. My daughter’s laughter
  11. A call from a distant friend
  12. Visiting with a coworker while we fold and tab a mailing
  13. Enjoying my workBaby Ruth
  14. Broccoli-cheese soup
  15. Baby Ruth candy bars – mini size
  16. Lovely jigsaw puzzle mosaics and the people who create them
  17. Tapioca pudding
  18. Doc Lynch
  19. Good color in the face of a friend who was diagnosed with congestive heart failure
  20. A hug from a friend I’ve not seen in months
  21. Good news of healing from a recent widow
  22. The privilege of copying old photos for a friend to send to family members
  23. Visiting with an acquaintance about the Lord
  24. Crisp onion rings
  25. Pepper grinders
  26. Hand lotion for winter hands
  27. Domino (Maine Coon cat) seems to be losing excess weight and acting more spry
  28. The aroma of yeast in rising bread dough
  29. Wi-Fi
  30. Having my grandmother’s handwritten manuscript of “Shirley with the Long Dark Pigtails and the Little Boy Upstairs”
  31. The joy of John 3:16-17
  32. American Christian Fiction Writers
  33. Christmas lights on the stairwell to illuminate the stairs – kept all year long for safety
  34. Seeing a friend who is like a daughter and hugging her after the death of her brother
  35. Seeing Petra on PBS
  36. The dishwasher in the kitchen
  37. My side of the electric blanket
  38. Fuzzy slippers
Thankful Thursday 04

 

 

Posted in Ambition, Excellence, Progress, Values | Tagged | 2 Comments

So You Want to Write a Book – 3

As you write, you will need others to help you along the way. One of the most effective things you can do is to find a critique group. Not just any critique group, but a group that is serious about helping you to improve your writing.

Now there are critique groups and critique groups. I began with an informal group that met once a month. There were from six to twelve in attendance. We read our work and others opined on it or asked questions if something was unclear. We had fiction writers, poets, non-fiction writers – you name it. It was a good introduction for putting your work out there.

However, it wasn’t much help to me as a writer. I now belong to a critique group that follows (loosely) the Word Weavers pattern.  This is a more purposeful meeting in which the total emphasis is on improving our writing.

Critiques generally take a more pointed form with regard to mechanics and purpose. And they deliver specific suggestions for improvement. The Word Weavers structure pattern is very helpful in keeping us on track with our stated purpose.

Please follow the two links in this text and read those blog posts. They will help you get a feel for how a critique group should function and how to critique the work of others. You might also want to add those blog links to the list of blogs you follow.

More next week. Stay tuned. And let me know in the comments below how you fared.

 

Posted in Ambition, Progress, Work, Writing | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Thankful Thursday Three

Goal: 2018 things for which to be thankful in 2018Thankful Thursday 02

2018 divided by 52 equals 38.8.

Each Thankful Thursday post should contain a list of 39 gratitudes, an average of five or six every day.

This Thursday, I’m departing from the numbered list. I have just spent two hours watching an old movie on TCM, That Midnight Kiss, with José Iturbi. It brought back a million memories for which I am grateful.

The year after this movie was made, my mother, her mother, and I traveled by train to Los Angeles. My mother’s younger brother, his wife, and young daughter lived there.

While we were there, we attended a concert at the Hollywood Bowl and heard José Iturbi and the orchestra. At one point in the concert, he was playing a Debussy that every serious piano student learns. But he was not happy with the beginning, so he stopped. Then he turned to the audience, shrugged, and announced “We will begin again.” He wiped his hands on his handkerchief, turned to the keyboard, and played flawlessly through the piece.

After the concert, my mother asked an usher if we could go backstage and meet the artist. The usher explained that José did not see people after the concert. Said she wanted it for me (I was eleven at the time). The usher smiled and said he’d see what he could do. He left and came back very shortly to take us backstage. He said José was always available to young people.

When he emerged from his dressing room, my mother introduced herself and the rest of our party (my grandmother and uncle). He greeted us all graciously. But he came over to me to visit. He asked if I played. I shook my head, no. But my mother outed me by saying that I did.

I stammered that in comparison, I did not play. He took my hand in both of his and said “The only difference between your hand and mine is practice, practice, practice.” It was three in the morning when we left, but I was walking on air.

IturbiFour years later, he and his sister, Amparo, were on tour and played at Salina, Kansas. Several of the musicians in our high school band and our director attended. In this much smaller venue, we were allowed to go back stage. Our music director introduced the group, but José remembered me from the Hollywood Bowl four years earlier. He took me by the hand and led me into his sister’s dressing room to introduce me to Amparo as well.

My mother was amazed that he remembered us from the Los Angeles concert. We rationalized that it must have been the fact the he didn’t usually receive people there.

Flash forward another four years to my first year in college. My piece for the student recital is a Beethoven. I play the first sixteen bars and my memory hits a brick wall. Remembering José’s poise, I pick up my handkerchief, wipe my hands, turn to the audience and shrug. Then I start again… And hit the same brick wall! Deep breath, nod to the audience and say “we will begin again.” Then I push my way past that bar seventeen wall and get to bar twenty-four where I’m home free.

My mother, sitting beside the nun who was my piano instructor, said “Well, there goes a failing grade.” To which sister replied, “No, it’s a B. Had she walked off the stage, it would have been a failure.”

Whenever one of José’s movies is playing on TCM, I try to watch. The spirit in his music speaks to my heart. The memory of the person blesses me every time.

In this story there are a multitude of gratitudes.

  1.  Music
  2. Musicians
  3. Trains
  4. My mother’s job with the railroad
  5. People who appreciate music
  6. The ability to hear the difference between music and just sound
  7. Hands that move across a keyboard on command
  8. Written score
  9. The habit of practice
  10. Mae Cuddy, my first piano teacher
  11. Harry Huber, my second piano teacher
  12. Marymount College
  13. The example of recovering from a gaffe
  14. The gift of memory
  15. The love of music
  16. God’s provision for even the smallest problems
  17. Watching the movie without interruption (a rare occurrence)
  18. José Iturbi
  19. Mario Lanza
  20. Kathryn Grayson
  21. Ethel Barrymore
  22. Jules Munshin
  23. The ability to laugh
  24. All these gratitudes from just one memory.

And I have a lifetime of these good memories. Thank You, Lord.

 

Posted in Excellence, Society, Values, Work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

So You Want to Write a Book – 2

Now that you have a vision for your book, you can begin to work on some other aspects of being a writer.

One of the first things you will need is structure – both for yourself and your book.

Writing works best if you have a special place set aside and a specific time blocked off for it. However, many of us live in a world where neither is guaranteed. You will have to structure your life with both time and space for this project. But working that in is up to you. No one else can tell you how to do it.

Structure for your story is a different matter. You need some way to set up your story (and keep track of the details of your story) that will help you write a better story.

I recommend that you take a look at Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake Method. Borrowing from his article: “But before you start writing, you need to get organized.” So jump over there and take a good look. Bookmark the page.

The Snowflake Method, while designed for writing fiction, is equally useful as a structure tool for non-fiction as well. Virtually everything I write begins with a single sentence which is then explained, elucidated and expanded to the proper length.

Spend some time with Randy’s method. And let me know if it works for you.

 

 

Posted in Ambition, Work, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments