Skip to main content


Showing posts from August, 2018

Trending or Enduring

Once upon a time—it was a dark and stormy night—Elmer Gantry was drunk. The above three beginnings are indelibly written in literary history. The first one has been hugely overused; the second one from Bulwer-Lytton's novel Paul Clifford  was dubbed by Writer's Digest as "the literary poster child for bad story starters"; the third is the opening of Sinclair Lewis' sacrilegious novel  Elmer Gantry , written in 1926 and turned into a film starring Burt Lancaster in 1960. Openings are important because they hook readers, but what follows is equally important because it keeps those readers hooked. Content makes a book enduring (surviving the test of time) or trending (focusing on trends that change from generation to generation and fall out of favor). Many of us have read—or at least heard of—William Shakespeare, the Bronte sisters, Jane Austen, George Eliot (Mary Anne Evans), Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway, Danielle Stee

Weeds - Writing Prompt

Weeds dance rain or sun They don’t care that you hate them They dance anyway ~ Drawing and haiku by Kim Pearson ~ Writing Prompt: Think about "weeds" metaphorically in your own story. Do you have a character who delights in being loathed by others? Who feels power in being annoying? Or perhaps one who rises above petty gossip or misunderstandings and refuses to care what others think?

It's All About the Character

The other night I searched my bookcase for something to read that wasn’t on my Kindle. I chose The Girl Who Played with Fire , the second book in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series. I had read the first book, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo , when it first hit big in the United States. I loved it. I’m not sure why I didn’t continue the series at the time, but maybe it was because I had seen both the Swedish and American versions of the filmed trilogy and decided to wait. I contemplated why these books became almost instant bestsellers. The noir feeling to the stories, high degree of tension, and well-drawn characters are the elements of page-turners I love to read, but why did this particular series generate six movies and bestseller status? The answer is simple: the “Girl.” Lisbeth Salander is without a doubt the most intriguing character I’ve ever read. She’s an anti-social, computer-hacking genius with a photographic memory who is probably on the high Asperger’s scale of autism

Writing Through Pain

Hello, dearies! I'm so pleased to visit with you again, though it must be a draft and dash. Contrary to popular belief (Pool boy, my left stiletto; there's only the gardener on alternate Thursdays!), I've had a very good reason to be away---I'm in recovery from a rather nasty run-in with a spider. How does one deal with pain? By writing through it, often with careful misdirection by means of humor. It can be a way of looking on the bright side of things, such as the fact that a nasty flesh wound on the leg gives one a perfect excuse to wear a flowing, non-chafing sarong. With that in mind, here is my woeful tale. Image courtesy of Medical News Today THE BOOK OF LOXOSCELES In the beginning was the recluse bite. It was red and angry, and gave rise to many symptoms, of which great pain was one. And the patient went therefore unto the physician and said, "Lo, this sucketh heartily." The physician agreed, and gave unto the patient acetaminophen, and it

Art Appreciation Month

August is Art Appreciation Month. I didn't know that until I received a newsletter from ColorIt, a company that produces coloring books for adults and all kinds of coloring pencils and pens. Since I could not find a listing for Art Appreciation Month in the list of official list of month-long observations in the U.S., perhaps ColorIt made the designation themselves. Regardless of who made the designation, taking a month to appreciate art is not a bad thing, especially for those of us who paint beautiful pictures with words. But I'd like you to take a moment to consider a different kind of picture making. In 2016, the adult coloring book craze exploded, and sales of coloring books soared at Amazon and other retail outlets. Craft stores, such as Micheals and Hobby Lobby, had full aisles of books and coloring pens and pencils of all kinds. While the fad seems to have waned some this year, there are still plenty of adults coloring to relieve stress or just for fun. I do it for

On the screen or in the mind?

We go to movies or stage plays to be entertained. Sets and stages are created as backdrops for the story, and actors are chosen to portray the characters, delivering lines the scriptwriter has written and engaging in actions called for in the script and/or by the director. Story-appropriate sound effects complete the desired ambiance to complete the story. Viewers then can fully engage the senses of sight and sound, as well as emotions, to bring the story to life exactly as the writer(s) and director intended. Of course, taking a script to screen or set is more complicated than the overly simple description above, and one or several variables may come into play along the way that complicate the process even further. Still, the end result will hopefully accomplish its purpose, whether to entertain, educate, terrify, or otherwise affect the viewer. While stories often entertain, there much of the similarity between story writers and screenwriters and playwrights ends. Because nove

How the Internet Is Destroying Our Language

Photo of Eduardo Paolozzi mosaic inside Tottenham Court road tube station by Mark Hillary , via Flickr Like many people with creative tendencies, I wear more than one “artistic” hat. I not only love to read, write and edit, but I also dabble in art, photography, poetry, bead-making and a form of mosaic known as pique assiette that uses pieces of broken crockery in place of colored glass. You might be asking yourself what does any of this have to do with a blog about writing and editing? Quite a lot, in fact. My artistic ramblings led me to the world of t-shirt design and I was pleased to discover it was a lot of fun and brought in a few extra dollars each month. A few years ago, I posted some tee designs on Amazon when they opened their print on demand division, known as Merch. These evergreen designs had all been best-sellers on other POD platforms in the past so I figured they were a good place to start. And there they sat. I was pulling out my hair trying to figure

The Summer NovelRama: 25,000 words in 4 days. Because you can.

That’s the slogan for the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers most excellent summer NovelRama , a writing event sponsored by RMFW’s IPAL (independently published member writers) and open to writers everywhere who need encouragement, inspiration, camaraderie, a challenge, and a chance at prizes…and all from the comfort of your own home where you can work in your sloppy sweatpants and slippers (or any other venue and attire of your choice). Need a boost (aka a kick in the pants) to produce a lot of words in a small amount of time? Think about that novel that just needs a few more chapters but has been neglected while you toddle off to lunch with friends, binge watch a new series on Netflix, or procrastinate by cleaning house (yes, I’ve been doing all three). Doesn’t have to be a novel though. Maybe you want to write three or four short stories. Churn out the first draft of a novella. Whatever works for you works for NovelRama. Even if you can only participate one day or a few hours,

The Benefits of Genre Associations

Fiona likes to critique As writers, many of us are introverts and would rather hang out in our pajamas with our pets than go out and network and attend public functions where we don't know anyone. Still, you really need to reach out and get involved with other people if you want to improve your writing and market your finished product. There are multiple advantages to joining a genre-related group: 1. They have meetings, local and national, and online events so you can meet other people who love the same books you do. Most of them have online communities and Facebook groups which offer support and connections for beta readers, editors, etc. And I guarantee your TBR pile will grow and topple over. 2. Genre groups offer opportunities to build a virtual or in-person critique group. I met my crit group members at a local writers' conference. I wouldn't have met them if I hadn't gotten dressed and gone outside. 3. You can learn what is selling in your category.