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Writer’s Stuff I Am Learning

I have learned A WHOLE BUNCH of things since starting my journey to publish the Children’s Book series. I know that I only show the teaser for the first one, but I have  ten written now. I am working on the illustrations, which, when you are self teaching vector drawing, takes a bit of time. I will succeed in that venture however, because I can be stubborn, or focused, shall we say.

This section will hold a breakdown of things I learned, who I learned them from, even if it is something I ‘figured out’ on my own. There are going to be links to different venues, comments, discussions, etc. I have one stipulation – no BS  here! I am a research junkie, and I tend to explore what is posted, so if anyone tries to put one over on someone, using my site as a cover, I will hunt you down. There is enough damage being created by intelligent people with idle hands and minds already. Once again, DO NOT use this site as a venue for your devilry!

With that being said – I hope I can help you to help yourself become what you need to be!

1)  I have found a few sites that take submissions from predominately  the ‘ younger than I am crowd’. (I also found one for the older than me crowd too – YAY!!) So here are the ones I found. I hope that some of you are able to connect with one or more!

http://iris.virginia.edu/                   http://literarymama.com/                   http://www.themomegg.com/themomegg/Home.html

That’s it for tonight!

2)  I have read high and low, sideways and up ways, with my tongue twisted to left or right, a way to blog effectively. I wrote notes from this one and that one, ran the stats, compared the best and this is what I have found the consensus is:

BE Yourself! Even though it is a bit intimidating , at first, let the world know who you are, why you believe what you believe and what makes you tick. This makes you be ‘real’, so to speak to your followers.

FIND your focus. Who do you want to follow you? Positive role leaders, gurus of something you love? Dog walkers? The sky is the limit. (I would like to relate to the family orientated people, struggling/polished writers, those involved in the trucking industry, horse lovers, those who love languages, etc.)

ADD pictures to your site. (I have to do this, but every time I try, my satellite internet quits…aaarrrggg!)

RESPOND to those who comment to you. (I like the interaction, so I find time for this faithfully! It is the only way to improve.)

LINK in to your different networks. (Personally, I have found a couple of favorite pages to follow on Linked In and use that as my primary starting point. I have read that a people waste their time on their comfort spaces. I do not want to comment negatively on this because we are all at different places during certain times in our lives. You are thee best judge of when it is time to move on to the next step.)

3)  If I were authorized to address any word directly to our novelists, I should say: Do not trouble yourself about standards or ideals, but try to be faithful and natural…. – William Dean Howells

The artist (in literature) appeals to that part of our being which is not dependant on wisdom; to that in us which is a  gift and not an acquisition – and, therefore, more permanently enduring. He speaks to our capacity for delight and wonder, to the sense of mystery surrounding our lives; to our sense of pity, and beauty, and pain.  –  Joseph Conrad

I love that for years, the,  I am trying to grasp the word here, energy (?) of a writer has captivated the minds of many. It is true, that writers can take people to so many places, make them feel deep emotions, and educate. I like the first saying, try to be faithful and natural. I am reading a book written by  a friend.  It is like sitting down with him and chatting. Nice style to it!

This is where the pearls of wisdom end tonight.

4)    www.cbc.ca/thenextchapter

This is a very interesting talk show. The one that aired March 18th was so informative. It talked about Canada publishing markets , including self-publishing v.s. US v.s. European and other markets. If you are able to get the archive, it is worth the listen. I hope you glean some information from it. Unfortunately I was driving and not able to write. (Plus the fog was pulling my eyeballs out of their socket!)

5)  Don’t set unrealistic goals – If you are only able to start with a weekly blog, that’s great! Once you get into the flow of things and understand your commitments and how they may conflict with blogging, you will know when to write.

Watch your grammar! Spell check is available, usually, so put it to the test.

Check your word count – It is estimated that the average count should be around 500. (I REALLY need to work on this one.)

Keep your negativity in a letter you’ll throw away – Try your best to keep your post upbeat, inspiring, yee-ha! hot diggity dog! type of material. If you want to create a dark side of you blog, create it in a separate site. (Then you can really compare your stats!)

Become the mother of invention – show the many sides of you, your thoughts, what you stand for and feelings (keep in mind the negativity, though.)

Only 158 words..I will work on that!

6) Developing the Ability to Write

Most people write poorly. This is the unfortunate truth. (Dang it!!) It is in our heads but it just doesn’t go down on the paper right, right?

So what skills does one need to help with the process? 1) the mental ability. think clearly, orderly and logically. 2) the psychological ability. let the thoughts flow freely.   3) the rhetorical ability. do you know how to make the sentences meld and flow?  4) the ability to critique.  can you be trusted to give yourself the old heave-ho if it is bad? or needs to be reworked?

You need to be the one who thinks it out, plans the events, assembles the storyline and characters, then sends them off to their grande debut! Your goal is to make the last version seem effortless, on track, like a spirit is guiding the reader with only a gentle breeze for direction.   This should not turn into an Olympic obstacle course for the reader.

This takes time. So do not become frustrated with yourself. There are many who attend years of schooling and still struggle with this. Practice, practice and practice. Ask your peers and mentors how they feel you are progressing.

Happy writing! Happy thoughts..I think I can…I know I can..I knew I could!

7)   Knowing how to make the least amount of words work for your writing, while providing the most BANG, is an art. Knowing that every subject agrees with its verb, every comma is in the proper place, that it is vital, moving and memorable is a challenge!

Being able to write your sentences with no unnecessary words,  or a paragraph that holds no unnecessary sentences is something we need to strive towards. You want to be gentle to your readers senses, not make them clinch their teeth as they  try to comprehend what you are making them digest. We don’t want them to spit it out like a 14 month old trying new food.

Keep your writing simple, natural, unpretentious. Think of it as making a speech.  Most memorable speeches have been spare and direct.  Don’t put the brakes on when the pen hits the paper, let it flow!

Make what you are saying clear. What is the heart of the subject you are writing about? What steps do you need to take to convey it in the least amount of words? Can the reader embrace it too?

Another part of your writing should include a bit of you and proof that you know who your audience is. They should feel that you wrote that piece for them. You should include your relationship to your subject and help your readers find a similar one with it as well.

So to sum it up, keep it simple, full of essential words, clear, provide ownership, and a rhythm that binds it together. This will gel as you mature as a writer.

8)  How to Find a Subject or Goodbye Blank Page??

Or, Seek and ye shall find – maybe.  How about – please leave the eraser tips on your pencils!

First you need to stimulate the brain. You should try to go to or surround yourself with things that interest you enough to write about. If food is your foray (sorry Tami – I had to do it!), immerse yourself in the sights, sounds and smells of a market, kitchen restaurant, cafe, etc. Be active, have a purpose in the environment. Better yet – be creative.

If you are not able to get out to absorb the activity, how about grabbing your dictionary. Starting with “A” thumb through it and write any words that jump out at you.  Try to get 20 words, at least. Try to draw upon the following points when you start to put it together, using those words.  A specific time,  place, number, person, aspect, example, type and experience.

Now look at what you have written and decide what is or is not possible.  Next,  ask yourself what happened or needs to happen to bring this to life.

Then, we deal with the cause and effect, similarities and dissimilarities, how to illustrate the subject. Really try to make a checklist of the pros and cons of each action you are taking. I know this sounds a little over the top, but it will help you to make your subject and characters full, well-rounded. You will start to see the flow, and this should help you continue to keep your focus sharp.

9)  There is a list of questions that one can ask themselves about a subject or character.

But before I begin, I would like to thank Tami for her comment. As our internet was knocked out by a snow storm, I took the opportunity to try what Tami suggested.  I am trying to remember it correctly.

This is what I came up with:  A 4″x4″ piece of tile. A tile for wall or floor application, a mosaic piece, a coaster, a paperweight and a weapon. I hope this was not a ploy to have me reviewed by a psychologist!

On with the questions.

What does the topic or subject mean?      How can it be described?   What are the component parts of it?    How is it made or done?    How should it be made or done?   What is the essential function of it?   What are the consequences of it?     What different types are there?   How does it compare with another type?   How can it be interpreted?    What are some facts about it?    How did it come into being? How did the person come into being (not creation)?    What kind of person are you describing?  How do you feel about the person?   What kind of lingering memory could you create about the person? about the topic?      What is the value of the person? about the topic?     How can you summarize the person? the topic?      What case could be made for or against the person? and possibly the topic or subject?

Now start to fill in the gaps as you develope the place, character and all other related aspects. The first questions kind of sound as if you were writing a sales pitch. They could be used to describe the scene, the natural elements, the city, etc. of the story.

Now I have created some more homework for myself!

10) What Does Success Mean To You?

If you could name 5 things that describe what YOU feel success looks like, what would they be?

If you had to rate each one of them on a scale of 1 to 10,with 10 being the most important, how would they line up with your life values?

These are the questions that were presented during a course I took. The results were surprising. Quite a few of the respondents thought that money would allow them the ability to ‘flash’ their success. That meant being able to drive a new dream car, upgrade their home,  private schools for their children’s education or enjoy exotic vacations.

The next highest level thought success was attained when they became debt free and they were able to live with less stress because of it. The ability to enjoy a few trips, hold a few more friendly gatherings.

The least collective group defined success as being able to hold true to your values.  If you were humble before, that would not change. If you had a secure life and support system, they would still be there. If you were a volunteer, you may be able to help fill in some of the financial needs of the organization.

I found myself between the last two groups. Even though I would like to help in many organizations, I know that I am only one person and can only do so much. If I am able to do my best, and not feel like I am cheating them,  because of my lifestyle, then I am doing what I can. Therefore, to the organizations that I   belong; when I become successful in my book writing career, you will benefit. First though, I need to get Randy off the road. He has done his tour and it is long overdue.

11) Book Reviews

I hope you find something of value here. I will post some more once I check out the URL’s.

http://www.umanitoba.ca/cm/

http://www.cbraonline.com/home/

http://www.bookcentralstation.com/index.asp

http://www.forewordreviews.com/

http://independentpublisher.com/

Time is marching on. That’s it for tonight folks!

11)  Not A J-O-B Day

What a gorgeous day! As I sit behind the wheel of these humming eighteen wheels, I am thankful that  I have this job.  Although today it does not seem like a J-O-B day.  You know, those days where nothing gets to you.  People are joking around and smiling.  Heck, even Josie, that crabby waitress at the “J” was in a goofy mood.

Yessir, some days you just want to take in the air.  Take it deep into your lungs and just blow it all out with all the garbage that is stuck inside you.

It was nice spending that extra time with my sweet baby this morning.  That is one of the good things about afternoon shift; just a bit more time to squeeze and cuddle.  It won’t be long before those days are gone, so I’m told, part of getting older and getting on.  I  will take it all in while we still are deep in love.

Hmmm, the traffic is picking up a bit more now.  All these guys heading back home after a day at the office.  I sure could not have become a concrete groover. I know I am in a cubicle, but my scenery changes every minute.  I think I would have been a farmer or run the rodeo circuit if  trucking blood hadn’t claimed me.  Ha – and people call vampires blood suckers!  Whoa! Buddy watch the road, dude!!

OK back to positive thinking.  Well the sun is placing itself  to give us a glorious sunset this evening.  I can see the pinks and purples just starting to glisten on the rims of those big fluffy clouds. It’s funny how….YIKES!  Buddy what is your issue!! Watch around you, that van over there has kids in it!  Jeez!!  Man, I am trying to take in the last moment of the day, DUDE!  OK, OK, I will breathe again, nice and deep. Exhale once again, go back to my happy spot.

There are times when I really worry about running this tanker through the city. I try not to think of the what if’s, but what if?  You get guys like this jerk in front of me driving like he has the road to himself,  thinking he is dodging pylons, not metal carriages with real people inside, and well…JEEZ!  If I have to watch anyone else  swerve while you cut them off, I’ll call the cops!  There are five blinkin’ lanes of traffic going one way, buddy! Oh, thank goodness he is taking the exit. There is a good flow going with him.  Good!

Well crap so is this guy.  You can’t squeeze in there man.  Hell, I’ll let you in, but you’ll need the next ramp.  You won’t make i….NO!!  NO!!!  BABY!!  I lo..

“This is Karen Burkholtz reporting to you live from I-5 in Los Angeles. As you can see there are fire fighters set up along this stretch of  highway trying to control the flames caused by the carnage.  It appears that a driver, who did not survive the fiery wreck,  lost control of his rig when he veered off the road for some unknown reason.  The name of the driver has not been released pending notification of family.  The driver of a Geo was also crushed and burnt by the trailer as it swung over him.  A family travelling in a van was just moments away from becoming entangled in the accident. I will be continuing this story as more details become available. This is Karen Burkholtz reporting to you live. Back to you Samuel.”

“Josie! Turn that TV up a bit. Where is that wreck?  Damn, that truck is just a burnin’ up!  Poor pity that driver. Wonder if he’s got family?”

“Pete, you want more coffee?” Josie asked, a weak smile on her face.

12)

ANNUAL GIVAL PRESS OSCAR WILDE AWARD

Gival Press, LLCP.O. Box 3812 Arlington VA 22203

Phone: (703)351-0079 E-mail: givalpress@yahoo.com Website: www.givalpress.com

Contact

Contact: Robert L. Giron.

About

“Award given to the best previously unpublished original poem–written in English of any length, in any style, typed, double-spaced on 1 side only–which best relates gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered life, by a poet who is 18 years or older. Entrants are asked to submit their poems without any kind of identification (with the exception of titles) and with a separate cover page with the following information: name, address (street, city, and state with zip code), telephone number, e-mail address (if available), and a list of poems by title. Checks drawn on American banks should be made out to Gival Press, LLC.” Prize: Prize: $100 and the poem, along with information about the poet, will be published on the Gival Press website. Costs: $5 reading fee per poem

Freelance Facts

  • Deadline: June 27 (postmarked).
  • Prize: Prize: $100 and the poem, along with information about the poet, will be published on the Gival Press website.

FIREHOUSE THEATRE PROJECT NEW PLAY COMPETITION

The Firehouse Theatre Project1609 W. Broad St. Richmond VA 23220

Phone: (804)355-2001 Website: www.firehousetheatre.org

Contact

Contact: Literary Manager FTP..

About

Calls for previously unpublished full-length works with non-musical and non-children’s themes. Submissions must be in standard play format. Scripts should be accompanied by a letter of recommendation from a company or individual familiar with your work. Submissions must be unpublished. Visit website for complete submission guidelines. “We’re receptive to unusual, but well-wrought works.” Acquires the right to produce the winning scripts in a staged reading for the FTP Festival of New American Plays. Following the Festival production dates, all rights are relinquished to the author. Open to US residents only. Judged By: a committee selected by the executive board of the Firehouse Theatre Project. Prize:1st Prize: $1,000, 2nd Prize: $500

Freelance Facts

  • Deadline: June 30
  • Prize: 1st Prize: $1,000, 2nd Prize: $500

DRUE HEINZ LITERATURE PRIZE

University of Pittsburgh Press, Eureka Building, 5th Floor3400 Forbes Ave. Eureka Bldg., 5th Floor Pittsburgh PA 15260

Phone: (412)383-2492 Fax: (412)383-2466 Website: www.upress.pitt.edu

About

Offered annually to writers who have published a book-length collection of fiction or a minimum of 3 short stories or novellas in commercial magazines or literary journals of national distribution. Does not return mss. Judged By: Judged by anonymous nationally known writers such as Robert Penn Warren, Joyce Carol Oates, and Margaret Atwood. Prize:Prize: $15,000.

Freelance Facts

  • Established: 1981
  • Deadline: Submit May 1- June 30 only.
  • Prize: Prize: $15,000

15 comments on “Writer’s Stuff I Am Learning

  1. I enjoy the complexity of your blog. It is easy to navigate and each heading leads to interesting material. Thank you!

    Like

  2. Thanks Liz for this category on your blog. I will keep following.

    Like

  3. This is a tremendous abundance of information – wowza – thank you! I will go and look you up on LinkedIn. Lesley Fletcher

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  4. LIz, you really are a great person to write all of this to help writers! I find that the more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know. Keep on writing, for you do it so well!

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    • I thank you Pauline for the compliment. I know what you mean about learning all the time. I picked up some very good tips on e-publishing that I did not even think about before. It’s funny, when you talk with other authors or aspiring writers, there are always tips and tidbits you pick up. I sometimes feel like I need five notebooks to put them all in. Then, it would be having the time to go back and read about the topic I need. By that time it would be obsolete and I would have to search a new answer out. Technology is good, but sometimes….

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      • Your young so you’ll go far with your writing. Good luck with it all. Go for it! I feel like putting some of my fiction on the blog, but it would have to be on a new page. I used to want to put them in a book of short stories but now I don’t really care as long as someone reads them and enjoys them. Formatting can be a real drag, and changing from word or wp into a pdf file. I allowed my son to help me but I felt I should be able to get the program and do it for myself. Live and learn…

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  5. I too have struggled with what is the most effective way to “Blog”…and I came up with the same conclusion! Just BE YOURSELF! Glad I stumbled upon your blog! 🙂 Here is a piece I wrote about blog burnout:
    http://lifeaisle.wordpress.com/2012/06/05/10-top-causes-of-blogger-burnout/

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    • I know that I am learning and getting a bit better. So that is one step in the right direction. There is so much feedback and information available that by the time you try to read and assimilate it into your brian patterns, the game changes or you are burnt out. Therefore your blog on how to prevent burnout is good food.
      We have a group on LinkedIn – Writers Gateway that is pretty in tune with marketing. Then Pen and Paper World follows pretty well with help. Thank you Troy for stopping by!

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  6. Liz, thank you for this post it is inspirational and informative. But beyond that you provided clear steps and resources for successfully getting published. I also like the information you provided on ‘legitimate’ writing contest as well as the full disclosure of fees. It is a great post all around and now I am headed to LinkedIn to join Writers Gateway. ~ Ayanna Nahmias

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    • Ayanna, thank you for your support! I apologize for the delay in replying to you. I think I am going to have things back in proper alignment by next week. This has been one of the hardest moves to finalize for some reason. Just to let you know, as well, I may not have responded to your blog lately, but I have been keeping tabs. I love the way you stir my emotions. The victories, the failings, humanitarian issues are ALWAYS worth the read. Thank you, Ayanna.

      Like

  7. I almost think I’m wasting my time since I didn’t write a book to push. I think maybe that’s why people blog. I know it took me a while to answer this blog! I like your stories.

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    • Not to worry, I have to finalize a couple of my stories as well. Even if they are never top listers, I still said what was inside my brain.
      I hope that you don’t stop writng your blog. I think your readership has increased since it’s inception. You put alot of research into what you say, and that says alot of the type of person you are.
      Things went wonky this past few months and I hadn’t the chance to reply to all the wonderful people I had previously. In a short while, I am hoping to be in a place to call home, thereby allowing the opportunity to free my time a bit more.
      Please don’t think I have ditched your writings, I do read them. I think at times the questions you ask require thoughtful answers, and I don’t like to leave things half-said. I will make comments more often. I will have a listening ear for you and an encouraging lecture anytime you need it! Please keep going and fulfill YOUR dream.
      Hugs to you!

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