Posts Tagged ‘Writer’

What to Write About?

05/04/2011

There are so many things that need my attention today that I am almost paralyzed.  I still have work to do on my upcoming workshop at the Pennwriters Conference next week.  Next week! OMG it’s next week. Yesterday I realized that what has been far on the horizon for so long is now imminent and I’m not quite ready. I’ll get there. I always do but in this moment all I can think is, How on earth can I get it all done?

The Young Voices Awards call for submissions honoring books that Inspire, Mentor, and/or Educate readers of all ages just closed. That means I have to mail the book to the judges for review and scoring. This is another near monumental task that should be done this week. Oh boy.

Today I absolutely must get to the post office to mail the April Book of the Month to the young reader whose name wa selected in the monthly drawing sponsored by the Young Voices Foundation. I’ve already put the information about the May drawing up on the website so that’s one thing I can cross off the to-do list.

I sent my book review column to About Families Publications yesterday afternoon. Not as early as the editor would like it but not late either. About the same time I was hitting the send button on my keyboard two more books for review arrived in the mail. The good news is, I have three weeks before I have to submit another column.

It’s almost eleven o’clock and I’m still in my pajamas and robe. My tea has grown cold and I really need to go to the bathroom. Before I log off to take care of that pressing need and head out to deliver posters announcing my upcoming book signings at Dog Day Afternoon in Leesburg and Borders Express at Dulles Town Center I want to explain why you, my readers, have been subjected to this rant.  It’s because with all of that going on and more I could not think of a single thing to write about this morning. Stop by tomorrow when I hope to have something better to entertain you with.

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Raising Writers

04/19/2011

Some people are born story tellers. They enter the world already attuned to the whispers and sighs of the wind. They stop to ponder the chatter of squirrels and the babble of infants. They not only hear voices in their head, they joyfully enter into silent conversation with them, eager to inhabit their world of possibility.

Others are nurtured into being by wise parents and excellent teachers. Introduced to books they become accustomed to the cadence of the written word, the magic of a story well told. Before long the brain begins to re-wire itself opening new pathways to expression. A writer is born.

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At the Young Voices Foundation we are blessed to receive the early works of some very talented young writers (grades K-12). We are convinced many of them will go far. When they do, we will be the first to stand in line at a book signing and ask for an autograph. We will not hesitate to boast to our neighbors that we know them.

We understand that not all of them will grow up to become writers, just as every kid playing football or soccer today will not become a professional athlete. We do know that every child we encounter will use language the rest of his or her life. Our mission is to encourage them to discover the fun and enjoyment in a story well told no matter what form it takes.

Young Voices Foundation – Mentoring Young Writers is the sponsor of the Young Voices Awards honoring books that Inspire, Mentor, and/or Educate Readers of All Ages

Recommended Read: Raising Writers by Ruth Shagoury http://www.lclark.edu/graduate/faculty/members/ruth_shagoury/

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Not Really a Writer

04/18/2011

Nothing I have ever published was written only once. While it’s true that some stories practically write themselves, coming to life in a stream of images and words that often leave me wondering where in God’s name that came from, they still need to be put away for a day or two so I don’t become so enthralled by my own words and ideas that I send them out before their time. 

Note: That second sentence is way too long and I’d rewrite if I had more time. Unfortunately I have a very busy schedule this morning so I’m leaving it as an example of what comes out unedited.  Now you know the truth. I’m not really a writer. I’m a rewriter.  Are you?

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“Every book is different. Every writer is different. I’ve written some books straight through and never had to change plot or characters again, just had to tighten the language. Other books required more stops and starts. I love revising because it makes me look smarter. The reader doesn’t know that the best thing in the book didn’t come until the third pass, and that’s the way I like it.”  Denis Lehane, Author of Mystic River

Tuesday Morning and Nothing to Say

03/29/2011

I’d been sitting in front of my keyboard for thirty minutes and had produced nothing useable for my blog. I started and stopped a number of things only to run out steam after the first paragraph.

I planned to  write about the importance of networking for writers.  It should have been easy.  I couldn’t understand why was I suffering from writer‘s block on this of all subjects.

Afterall,  I know from personal experience how being part of a supportive group of writers can lead to success.  It was only after attending a writing workshop as a guest and meeting Lorraine Henderson, one of the speakers,  that I gathered the nerve to submit to True Story magazine.  She even proof read it for me. 

Then I went  to my first writers conference. It didn’t matter to anyone that I hadn’t published anything yet.  I signed up for as many workshops as I could fit into the time allotted and was heartened by the positive feedback and constructive comments I received from the workshop leaders and the other participants. 

I entered my writing in a conference contest and won a prize. Knowing that the entries had been judged by other writers made  the win very meaningful.  I was on cloud nine.

It seemed almost magical to me. I was a beginner trying to determine if I could really be a writer and there I was   in the company of editors, agents, publishers and award-winning authors all sharing their wisdom.  Some staid and awe-inspiring others full of humor and very down to earth.

When I left I made a promise to myself. I would be a published author in time for the next conference.  I met that goal in large part because of the advice I received at the conference and the continuing access to writers as a member of Pennwriters.

The following year I set a goal to give back to the group by serving on the board of directors. I met that goal and continue to work hard to welcome new members as warmly as I was welcomed and to help them meet their goals as much as  I can.

My next goal was to be a presenter.  I’m not an outgoing person by nature. I often describe myself as a quiet observer of the world. One who expresses herself best through the written word.  I had to find a way to stand in front of a room full of people and share what I had learned from the generous mentors in my growing network of other writers.  I accomplish it by creating  a character in a book, one who is comfortable in the spotlight, and taking on her persona. 

Not long after that I started a local writers group. I did it because I want to be in the company of writers more than once a year.  Putting a number of creative people in one room has an amazing affect on everyone. Ideas flow,resources are shared, and every now and then a brand new published author emerges and everyone celebrates.  It’s the kind of thing that keeps me writing even on a Tuesday morning when I have nothing to say.

Pennwriters Conference – Saturday Keynote Speaker

03/24/2011

Written By Aaron Peters


SATURDAY KEYNOTE: Jonathan Maberry, New York Times Bestseller and multiple Bram Stoker Awardwinning author and Pennwriters member.

Jonathan Maberry is a New York Times bestselling author, multiple Bram Stoker Award-winner and Marvel Comics writer. His latest works include THE DRAGON FACTORY (St. Martin’s Griffin), ROT & RUIN (Simon & Schuster), WANTED UNDEAD OR ALIVE (Citadel Press), and the graphic novels DOOMWAR and MARVEL UNIVERSE VS THE PUNISHER (Marvel Comics.) His Joe Ledger thrillers are in development for TV. Prolific and multi-talented, Jonathan has written over 1200 features articles, plays, video scripts, greeting cards, poetry, and over twenty nonfiction books on topics ranging from the paranormal to martial arts (he is an 8th degree black belt jujutsu master). Jonathan founded the celebrated Writers Coffeehouse, a monthly networking event for writers of all genres and skill levels, and co-founded The Liars Club, a group of Philadelphia writers blogging at liarsclubphilly.com. He is a frequent keynote speaker and guest of honor at conventions for writing, science fiction, horror, crime fiction and thrillers. Visit him online at www.jonathanmaberry.com.

Note from Schizophrenicwriter: I know from personal experience that Jonathan is an exciting and engaging speaker who willingly shares his expertise with other writers.  If at all possible do not miss this opportunity to hear him speak.

Late for the Jam

03/21/2011

It’s a good thing I decided to check my e-mail when I did. I was temporarily stumped by a block of squares in the crossword puzzle I was working on (the one in the Sunday Washington Post Magazine is my favorite) and decided to see if any new submissions had come in for the Young Voices Foundation Emerging Writers contest.

That’s when I saw the reminder on the screen. Community Literary Jam starts in five minutes. Fortunately, the location is just about five minutes from my house. If I left immediately I could make it on time.

Immediately didn’t happen. Even after deciding there was no time to print a sign in sheet and grabbing some blank paper just in case some new people showed up, I still had to come up with something to share and run upstairs to get my shoes and grab my Pennwriters cap to hide my uncombed hair. Then I had to pee, of course.

How much time do I have? Still two minutes left it I discovered after grabbing my watch from my dresser and running down the stairs. 1:00 PM blinked accusingly from the dashboard as I backed the car out of the drive and headed toward the Round Hill Arts Center. The speed limit through Round Hill is 25 m.p.h. and I was definitely late now.

I pictured a line in front of the building. A bunch of new writers waiting to share their poems, short stories or novel beginnings. When I arrived five minutes late the parking lot was almost full, but, there was no line waiting for me. Disappointment mingled with relief. Maybe I could get the doors open before anyone knew how close I came to forgetting this twice monthly event. Still, it would have been nice if some people were waiting.

It turns out – there were. Two writers were doing a bit of window shopping in the art gallery next door while waiting for me. Both poets, they read their work and I promised to send them information on poetry contests and calls for submission. We spent two hours discussing writing, rejection, and life in general. I learned that one of the other writers had nearly forgotten the Literary Jam too. Her mother reminded her a bit sooner than my automated calendar notified me so she made it on time. But, the important thing was we were there in the moment and even though the group was small the sharing was meaningful. I look forward to next time and hope you’ll join us.

Round Hill Arts Center  Sunday April 3rd. 1-3PM    Jason (Jay) Blevins Author of The Last Fall will be there.

Grab the Nearest Book

03/17/2011

WordPress Prompt #73: Grab the nearest book (or website) to you right now. Jump to paragraph 3, second Sentence. Write it in a post.
Bonus: Make up a sentence to follow the first one, but make it go in an entirely different direction that the actual book or website does.

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Deeper Than The Dead -by Tami HoagDeeper than the Dead

“”Sometimes we play catch in the backyard, which is really fun and cool.”

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And my bonus line is:

He doesn’t know that every night I dream of raising my bat over his sleeping head and putting some goddamned power into it like a son would.

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Wouldn’t you know I’d pick a line in a paragraph that was already written to  to convey an evil character as a good man. I considered cheating and quoting from paragraph four which would have been much easier to play with. But, I couldn’t. What would be the point of doing the exercise that way?  So, on this lovely St. Patrick’s Day morning, you get a glimpse of my dark side.  I hope my friend, Jonathan Maberry, is proud of the influence he sees represented here.

Get Paid for Writing

03/14/2011

Warning: The following is the first in a series of blatant plugs for upcoming workshops at the Pennwriters Conference, May 13th -15th at the Pittsburgh Marriott Hotel in Pittsburgh, PA.

I am a firm believer that writers should be paid for their work. This workshop will help you do just that.

Breaking into Business Writing with Lisa Kastner

Love to write but don’t get paid for it? Learn how to leverage your writing skills and transition into a business writing role such as a technical, corporate, public affairs or public relations writer. This workshop will focus on key ways you can take your journalism, non-fiction, and fiction skills from your desktop to the workplace.

Lisa Kastner is a former journalist and features editor who writes freelance and by invitation in literature and the arts. She is a published fiction writer, the past-president of Pennwriters and founder of the Running Wild Writers Community. In the business realm, Lisa spent a decade providing communications management and consulting for Fortune 500 companies.

The Highlights of My Week – Rejected Again

03/12/2011

My latest rejection letter came from a new source. I had never submitted to Highlights before. Knowing they probably receive hundreds of submissions every day and  am not surprised by the result. What did surprise me is the format of the rejection letter.

I’ve seen many types of rejection letters over the years. The worst are the over copied, barely readable forms that look as if they were printed two to a page and torn in half before being stuffed into envelopes by angry interns.  The best ones use my name in the greeting and include a bit of information as to why my work wasn’t accepted. A bit of constructive criticism is always appreciated as well.

The one from Highlights is addressed “Dear Author” and it’s clearly a form letter but it’s far from the disastrous epistle described above. It reads in part:

“All editors have preferences. Our wisdom and judgement are limited. What we reject here may be eagerly accepted elsewhere. many a noted writer has climbed to success on steps built by early rejection slips. Don’t get discouraged!

We are returning your manuscript because:”

Under that is a list of eighteen possible reasons why the editors didn’t select my submission. I take a great deal of satisfaction in what they didn’t check, things like:

It lacks a fresh approach, or, it lacks a tight focus, or worse yet, we do not believe that the subject would appeal strongly to our readers.”

 What is checked on my letter is: “It’s not suited to our present needs.”  Yes, it’s very generic and it could be interpreted a number of ways but I’ll take it as a positive in this case.  I even sent them the following response.

 “Thank you for considering my manuscript and for the informative rejection letter. As a longtime writer I get them often. It’s part of the business I’m in. Not everyone does it as well as Highlights and I appreciate your approach. Perhaps one day I’ll hit the right note on the right day. Until then, I’ll keep trying.”

Very soon after I received as response. And it was addressed to me.  By name.

“Dear Bobbi,

Thank you for taking the time to write. We’re happy to hear that you will not let rejection discourage you. You might be interested to know that we receive approximately a thousand manuscripts every month and can purchase fewer than one percent of those.

Best of luck with your writing!

It was signed by a real person. Not the generic, “The Editors”  on the original rejection.  Now someone at Highlights knows my name and has reason to think of me in a positive way. That’s a big step when seeking publication in a new market and I will be submitting to Highlights again very soon and addressing my submission directly to this editor.  I hope she remembers me. I hope she accepts my submission but if not, I will keep trying.

This isn’t the first time I’ve used rejection to get my foot in the door with an editor. I often target a publication,setting a goal for acceptance within a certain time frame. Sometimes it takes longer, sometimes I never get there. But it works often enough that it’s always part of my overall strategy.  To me “no” means “not yet.”  Wish me luck.

What do you do when you receive a rejection letter? Do you have a rejection to publication tale to share? I invite you to post it here.  

Pennwriters Conference Offers More Than 45 Workshops

03/08/2011

I’m teaching a two day seminar at the Pennwriters Conference in May. In addition to that  I’ll be attending as many of the workshops  as possible to learn as much as I can from some very successful writers.  For more information on the conference go to http://www.pennwriters.org/prod/

Over three days, you’ll find more than 45 workshops and panels on five different tracks.

IMPROVE YOUR CRAFT
GENRE KNOW-HOW
••KNOW THE BUSINESS
•PROMOTE YOUR WORK
Workshops
A full listing of workshops, by track, is as follows:

IMPROVE YOUR CRAFT GENRE KNOW-HOW THE WRITER‘S LIFE
•Four Truths of Character with Ramona Long
•Balancing Dialogue and Narrative with Terry Friedman
•Avoiding Passivity with Catherine McLean
•The First Page is the Worse with Jason & Heidi Miller
•Shaping Story Arcs with Ramona Long
•The Geography of a Novel with Kristin Bair O’Keeffe
•Psychoses & Psychopaths: Crafting Believable Characters with Brent Maguire
•Acting for Writers with Kathryn Miller Haines and Kathleen George
•What Do I Do Now? with Becky Levine
•Researching the Police with Kathleen George
•Creative Nonfiction with Deanna Adams
•Making it Up: History and Ficiton with Gwyn Cready, Mitchell James Kaplan & Todd DePastino
•Writing Fight & Action Scenes with Jonathan Maberry
•Say YES to YA with Heather Terrell
•Your Life is Poetry with Timons Esaias
•Taking Your Writing to the Screen with Dennis Palumbo
•Researching Historical Fiction with Kathryn Miller Haines
•Breaking into Business Writing with Lisa Kastner
•Environmental Writing with John Wennersten
•A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words Part I & II with Bobbi Carducci
•Drafting the Nonfiction Book Proposal with Deanna Adams
•Travel Writing with Don Helin
•Growing a Critique Group with Becky Levine
•What AM I supposed to say? with Becky Levine
•Writing From the Inside Out with Dennis Palumbo
•Unlocking Your Writing Process with Tamara Girardi
•Goal Setting for Writers with Anne Grenville
•Life Balance for Writers with Anne Grenville
•Writing Meditation with Madhu Wangu

KNOW THE BUSINESS PROMOTE YOUR WORK
•Agent Panel
•Small Press Panel
•From Concept to Bookstore with agent Denise Little
•The Dos and Don’ts of Finding and Agent with agent Victoria Skurnick
•Welcome to the Jungle with agent Barbara Poelle & CJ Lyons
•Effective Social Media with Janet Reid
•The Author-Agent Relationship with Nancy Martin
•Break Free From the Slush Pile with CJ Lyons
•The Pros, Cons & Cautions of Self-Pubbing Nonfiction with Deanna Adams, Carrie Kennedy and bookseller Maryanne Eichorn
•Copyright for Writers in the 21st Century with Tonya Evans
•Build Your Brand! with CJ Lyons
•Twitter for Twits with Tamara Girardi
•Shameless Self-Promotion & Social Networking with Kristin Bair O’Keefe
•No-Nonsense Publicity with Bill Peschel
•Creating a Low-Budget Book Trailer with Gwyn Cready
•How to Give a Great Reading with Kristin Bair O’Keeffe
•Working with Your Local Bookseller with Mary Anne Eichorn