A 2015 Master Plan And Writing Challenge

Happy New Year 2015, everyone! I don’t know about you, but when I sit down to work on my book, I don’t like it to feel like “Work!” To combat “the faltering writer syndrome” a term I coined to describe those natural-born, astute and studied writers who become bombed out and intimidated by the keyboard, while an oftentimes, elusive muse is working havoc with their creative brain cells, begging for release. How taxing is it to feel the need/desire to bring to life what your imagination is feeding into your subconscious receptor in preparation for your readers to enjoy and marvel from, when you’re feeling some other type of way?

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I’ve decided that I’m going to do something slightly off the grid in 2015 with my writing technique to make work fun, enjoyable and joyful. I’m focused on bringing to fruition the vision of myself heaving a sigh of relief after I’ve written the sweetest words every writer strives for- ” the end.”

So, what is my master “writer” plan for the New Year? I’ve decided to honor my craft and cooperate with my need to create…

I’m going to write. I’m going to read, I’m going to participate in writing exercises. I’m going to write love poems, poems of consciousness and awareness. I’m going to sing my lyrics in the shower and pen more lyrics to enter into songwriting competitions. I’m going to write monologues for one-woman shows. I’m going to accept requests from other writers to critique their work. I’m going to take notes and observe, I’m going to enjoy editing:)

I’m going to share good writing news and disappointing writing news. I’m going to shine in this New Year! I invite you to take up my creative challenge to unleash the writer in you and share on the blog with us what you’re going to do differently or more of, to see your writer dreams reach greater heights!

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A few contests to get your cold weather writing juices stirring:

http://www.freelancewriting.com/writingcontests/011515-yemassee-writing-prizes.php http://www.bluelobsterbookco.com/open-for-early-2015-submissions/

2014 Holiday Shout-Out To Authors Who Completed Their Books

Happy Holidays everyone!

I want to end this year 2014 by sending a shout-out to my writing buds who have completed their books and have them ready or in final stages for publication and purchase. Congratulations authors!

41hyOlaMIzL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_Marcie Hill’s book,62 Blog Posts To Overcome Bloggers Block, is available for purchase in January. Here’s the pre order link: http://overcomingbloggersblock.com/

Publicity Photo - 2006&2007-1

 How do you show your mate you love him or her without

coming on too strong? How do you show them your appreciation while still being respectful? What should one do when they can’t seem to attract a mate? How does one flirt successfully; what are the dynamics involved? What is the effect of marriage on mortality rates? How does a couple know if
their relationship or marriage has been ordained by God?
These are just a few of the questions answered by “The Essence of Romance”, a practical guide for today’s male/female relationships, for both the novice and the expert. So, whether you’re single, married, widowed, separated, or divorced, “Essence” just might help you deal with your situation tactfully and constructively.
The Essence of Romance by
Eve Cogdell
featuring Clara Freeman
GREEN APPLE PUBLICATIONS
FIRST CHOICE BOOKS
ISBN 000-0-00000-000-0
$20.00
Working with Evelyn on her book was an awesome experience, resulting in a wonderful relationship resource for couples and singles. I hope you support our collaboration and purchase a copy of The Essence of Romance either for yourself or as a ‘holiday’ gift for your friends. Contact Evelyn Cogdell at 773-488-4119 for purchasing information.
Pooler-Final-Cover1-199x300Congratulations to Kathleen Pooler for completing her memoir Ever Faithful To His Lead. Read more about Kathy’s book/purchase info at  http://www.amazon.com/Kathleen-Pooler/e/B00GIBCKQC or visit her website:

My final holiday /end of 2014 book accomplishment goes out to a favorite cyber connection/friend/supporter and author, Ms LaTanya Davis @reflectionsbooks.org and whose memoir is in ready for editing & proofing. All of you have inspired me to “keep-a-going” and perhaps my year of book accomplishment will come:)
I’m taking a holiday break until January…peace, blessing, love, grace and glory to everyone during this festive holiday season and a new year ahead.
“Always treat yourself special”
Clara.


A Pineapple Christmas Story

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“His son’s been gone for a mighty long time.”
Gail’s grandma paused and shook her wispy head of thin gray hair. “But, John always say he’ll never stop serving folks at his establishment. He should have a couple of cans of that sweet pineapple sitting on the shelf for you to grab hold of.”
The old woman fumbled with the clasp of her well-worn pocketbook.Finally it gave way and opened to wads of aged papers hanging out of loose compartments in the out dated purse. She busily searched every pocket of her prized possession that never left her side, until she settled on what she was looking for. With a triumphed sound she pulled the yellowed paper from her purse with her bony fingers, giving it to her astonished granddaughter.
“You should be able to follow the road to his place. It’s quite a ways inland, but the landmarks your daddy circled in red should be able to lead you there and back… well before midday.’’
Mother and daughter crept out of earshot of their animated elder and shared a moment of muted amazement at what they’d just witnessed in the kitchen. Gail’s’ grandmother was reliving another time and place. Those early days when she was still young and girlish and nearing middle age. She loved family gatherings, especially holidays when she rose bright and early to bake her delicious pineapple upside down cake for the family’s special Christmases.  
But, this day and time was quite different and there was no longer cans of pineapple lining a long ago demolished John & Son’s storefront grocer. Her grandmother was 88 and had bouts of dementia. Gail and her mom always picked her up from the nursing home on Christmas.
The pineapple upside down cake was no longer a family tradition in their home since her dad death 5 years ago from an automobile accident that was caused by a drunk driver. But, Gail’s grandmother, her father’s mother never stopped thinking he would be right here at Christmas, enjoying her special treat.
It was Christmas Day and Gail and her mother couldn’t bear to tell the old woman that there would be no pineapple cake in their house because she and her mother decided to bury that special memory along with her father.
Gail’s mom placed a finger to her lips, “Wait here,” she whispered to her daughter and headed toward her bedroom. She returned with a piece of paper.
“Here’s the address to your Aunt Margie’s new house. I’ve already called ahead. Your dad loved pineapple upside down cake and your grandmother always made it as a special gift for him on Christmas. Your grandmother and aunt Margie spoiled your daddy to no end.”
It finally dawned on Gail why her aunt always had leftover pineapple cake on hand whenever they visited after the Christmas holidays. Gail was giving her mom an extra loving daughter hug and fighting off happy tears, when they heard a joyful voice coming from the kitchen.
“Hurry along now dear and be careful where you step daughter. the roads can be treacherous at this time of year!”
“Don’t worry” Gail responded, with a twinkle. “I have a list and a map. What could possibly go wrong?”

I hope you enjoyed reading my short Christmas tale. I’m editing some of my short story rejections and will post a few of them from time to time. Feel free to share your insights or some of your own shorts.

Peace, blessing, and goodwill toward all!

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Building Characters In Fiction Writing

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The best part of writing short stories for me, in the past, has been building characters from my imagination. Granted, most of those characters weren’t as well rounded as they should have been. Perhaps, that’s why I’ve only placed in fiction writing as a runner up or with an honorable mention,but never won first, second or third place- penning a winning poem is a walk in the park in comparison!

I’ve always done well with my personal writings also, but after numerous rejections of my stories in fiction writing competitions this year alone, I was prompted to do something about it and that’s why I took not one, but two Fiction Writing Classes! Dang, I’m so glad I took the plunge and followed through with something:)

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It doesn’t matter if your characters are for an animated tale, a thrilling suspense novel or a shoot em’ up cowboy in a Western, characters have to be realistic to you and to your readers. I feel I’ve learned a lot more than when I started writing fiction from taking the online classes at FutureLearn and Iowa University. These are free classes lasting 8 weeks and taught by some of the bestselling authors and masters at teaching aspiring writers and authors the business of fiction writing.

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Here are some refresher tips from my FutureLearn Writing class I thought worthy of a fare thee well shout out:

Get to know about your character’s inner life: what they want, think, remember, resent, fear, dream, deny.
Get to know about your character’s behaviour, what they wear, buy, eat, say, work at and play at.
Get to know how your character speaks and how this changes according to context, mood and intention.
See and describe your character vividly, how they look, how they move, their possessions and surroundings.
Focus on your character’s contradictions and conflicts in order to create a complex person and also to generate plot.
Remember the main methods of character presentation: summary, appearance, habit, scene, self-portrait and combinations of these method

What I’m Reading For A Holiday Amazon Review

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I will be reading Kathy Pooler’s new memoir, Ever Faithful To His Lead, for an upcoming holiday review at Amazon.com, courtesy of Story Cartel where you sign up to receive free books for review. I’m one of those long time members who always come back to pursue great reading material when time permits- I promise to get the review done! Go here if you’re interested in joining Story Cartel. https://storycartel.com/?awt_l=OcCo.&awt_m=3lB3fBnhAInXk5r

Also, if you’re in the spirit of continued inspirational reading material and gratitude, make sure to pick up my short ebook to read this holiday season on your Kindle or from Amazon.com:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/my-authentic-woman-story-clara-freeman/1111834210?ean=9781623092276

Happy Holidays!

Always “Treat yourself special!”

Workshop Writing Critiques

thstory critiqueToday marks the completion of The University of Iowa’s 8 week “How Writers Write Fiction” class . The moderators of the class chooses a participant’s story to discuss and dissect in their workshops at the end of each assignment. I was astonished to get an email from one of the class Moderators, telling me that my story “Inside Bailey’s Department Store” was chosen for critique, along with that of another writer, from our last class assignment called “Revision and Rediscovery.”

 

thbekiniLet’s just say, this is not my first rodeo and prior experiences weren’t very comforting! I didn’t know how to take this news and I didn’t want to read what an oasis of established writers and authors had to say about my work. What if I never recovered from the sharp scrutiny?

The revised version of a story I wrote, called “Inside Bailey’s Department Store” was compared to the original story. The story’s protagonist is a ten-year old girl facing down her bullies in a dept store. All Sam wanted to do was buy a couple of mystery books by Ellery Queen.

Here are some of the critiques to my story:

In my opinion, Clara is particularly good at tying precise details to character.  Some examples from her original:

He was turning the page to a Popular Science magazine and muttering to himself.

She had waited a long time to buy  ‘City of Gold and Shadows’, the new mystery by Ellis Peters whose books were her favorites, next to the Ellery Queens mysteries.

Sam wasn’t afraid to fight, but, she was taught to avoid it if she could, so even though she just felt like the wind had been knocked out of her, Sam retreated from the school grounds and a quickly gathering crowd of animated kids.  (This might have worked better expressed with more action or dialog, but had it been in the revision, it would have made her telling on the kids at the end more believable.)

Your suggestion to focus on writing what we’re good at and not our failures is so helpful to me as I prepare to review exercises from this course for revision.  What a great parting gift Christa.  Thank you!

In the revised version, Clara has cut out all the little storytelling details that don’t directly address the main event and I think the piece is so much stronger because of this.  We don’t get sidetracked by secondary characters who have no real part in the story and instead can concentrate on the three girls.  We understand Sam, the reader, eagerly saving her pocket money and we understand the two bullies who are also budding thieves.  I love the neat ending where the bullied reacts in a clever way.  She may pay for this the next day but for now she can make a stand and enjoy the consequences.  What a great revision.

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Moira, it is a quite a satisfying ending, isn’t it? If the story were freed of the 400-word constraint, how would you feel about the extra characters and storytelling details? In other words, do you think the word limit makes them extraneous or do you think they are actually extraneous?Yes, what they all said. This is a highly effective revision. The first one has some lovely descriptions, but then puts me outside the scene hearing what’s happening between the girls. The revision brings the scene to life with an immediacy and a directness that puts me with the girls. I agree that the detail of the place is lost, which is not critical to me if this is a standalone piece but I’d be more interested if Bailey’s had relevance to a wider story. I also agree that all the measurement details are a bit distracting. It’s enough to know that the bullies are bigger, and intimidating. Oh, and the dialogue in the revision was far more powerful, believable and effective. I wasn’t particularly buying the line ​’You are plain and ugly and you have no friends!” Mary said . and the use of indirect speech had a distancing effect on me.

 I think it would be interesting to imagine this as a longer piece in which Bailey’s has some critical role in multiple storylines. Your comments are spot in about the immediacy and directness in the second version. I think that the emotional distances are greater in the first draft. I do love so many things about the first draft, however. Most particularly, I adore the setting that is established inside the store. I hope that Clara is able to meld the best of these two versions into one story later.

I agree with frostyfreya that the measurement details are distracting and unnecessary.

Also, most of the world outside of the U.S. uses the metric system, not our antiquated English system of measurement. To those folks, heights like 4’9″ don’t mean anything.

StoryOctober14P1I suppose from these and other professional writers opinions/critiques, I might have a “writing” chance! I enjoyed participating in this online class. It was a massive gathering of writers worldwide, who came to write and share with their colleagues. I highly recommend The IWP MOOC for newbies and seasoned writers.

How do you feel about having your work critiqued?

Words To A Great Novel

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November is National Novel Writing Month. It’s where writers commit to writing their novel in one month. Although, I know colleagues who have participated in NaNoWriMo, I didn’t this time around because I enjoy writing at my own pace, but I know the point is to challenge you to actually complete your novel! I don’t know if I could do it because I’d probably spend more time counting the words, instead of actually writing:)

I’m overly concerned about how many words I have to write, in order to finish my WIP. I think this concern might have me taking writing classes, instead of executing what I already know onto the page of my book. So, I’m wondering about this dilemma and have done research into how many words makes for a great novel and one that feels complete.

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The general consensus is that publishers are interested in the word count of a completed manuscript. If published authors or publishers can add to the dialogue on this, please enlighten us. Because I want to go the traditional publishing route with my WIP, I wouldn’t feel comfortable with less than 50,000 words, although I read an 80 page eBook recently and enjoyed it! Still, eBooks could be the exception, instead of the rule.

I’m in agreement with the quote that says, “Easy reading is damn hard writing.” I want to know what’s going to make the writing process easier for me at this point with my WIP. I want to know how many words it takes before a book is complete?
30,000 words equal roughly 100 pages of a manuscript. Granted if you’re writing an e-book, finishing at this point could suffice and satisfy the reader.
I’ve reviewed books up to 300 pages and I’m not trying to hear that:) but popular opinion amongst writers is that you write until you know you have nothing else to say.

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Here’s what I found from doing a bit of research on the acceptable length for writing a novel.

Novellas could equal up to 20,000 words
Novels are 40, 000 to 60,000 words and above
Memoirs are debatable personal works. I once read a memoir with only 80 pages and enjoyed it. The normal length seems to take shape around 30,000 to upwards of 50,000 words.

I want to hear from published authors and those writers who are still doing the hard work, leading to the road to publication. How many words did it take for you to get to the sweet end of your Novel?

A blog where writers find support, share writing info and concepts. information about their works of fiction, memoir, short story, poetry, plays and other genre of writings

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