"Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart." ~ William Wordsworth

The Writing Life Too

And if you're reading this, it means you're not writing.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

An article on narrative connections called Connecting the Dots is now up at my website here.
In case you missed it.....
Dawn has unfolded and today's sky  is cast in shades of pale grey after a few days of soft weather. Blooms everywhere in the city and surroundings, roses nodding and rhododendrums still going strong. I'm trying to collect older posts and Youtube videos from time to time since the online world is so jammed with inspiration, yet it's impossible to read even a tiny percentage of it.

First, from yesterday's The Writer's Almanac  Excerpts on How to Be Perfect by Ron Padgett. Wise and true and funny.

From the wonderful Cheryl Strayed, her Dear Sugar column which is a graduation speech (in column form) to people with English degrees, The Future has an Ancient Heart. She writes:(and isn't this so, so true?)

There’s a line by the Italian writer Carlo Levi that I think is apt here: “The future has an ancient heart.” I love it because it expresses with such grace and economy what is certainly true—that who we become is born of who we most primitively are; that we both know and cannot possibly know what it is we’ve yet to make manifest in our lives. I think it’s a useful sentiment for you to reflect upon now, sweet peas, at this moment when the future likely feels the opposite of ancient, when instead it feels like a Lamborghini that’s pulled up to the curb while every voice around demands you get in and drive.

I’m here to tell you it’s okay to travel by foot. In fact, I recommend it. There is so much ahead that’s worth seeing; so much behind you can’t identify at top speed. Your teacher is correct: You’re going to be all right. And you’re going to be all right not because you majored in English or didn’t and not because you plan to apply to law school or don’t, but because all right is almost always where we eventually land, even if we fuck up entirely along the way.

As part of my mission to encourage reading I bring you Lorrie MorriWhy reading is vital . Here's the link. She's not the world's most scintillating speaker, but you'll love what she has to say.

keep writing, keep dreaming, have heart

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Quick Take:

The bigger your theme, the more important the details are.
Cathy Lamb tonight
Cathy Lamb, Lisa Jackson and Rosalind Noonan are speaking at Powells in Beaverton tonight. Should be a great time ....
7:00 and summer prizes are rumored....

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Meet Holly Lorincz
$cholarship sponsorship needed

I've  been teaching writers for 20 years now and in this profession I try to act with a lot of generosity since I've never forgotten the writers and teachers who have opened doors for me. Most whom (or is it who?) I  never properly thanked. 

Five years ago I created my writing conference Summer in Words. You might have guessed that the conference  is not a big money-making venture. In fact, it barely breaks even.  It's mostly a labor of love because I love to teach and I love to bring writers to the coast for a giant boost of inspiration. And I meet the loveliest people during this venture.   
Every year I give a scholarship to an underemployed or unemployed writer to attend Summer in Words. This year, I need your help since I already awarded a scholarship to the upcoming conference and then was told about a writer who especially needs to attend the conference.

Her name is Holly Lorincz and she's the kind of motivated and gifted teacher we wish our children and grandchildren could learn from. Here's the brief version of her bio: 
"Holly Lorincz grew up on the Columbia River and now lives on the north Oregon coast. She can't seem to get away from water. She has taught high school language arts for 15 years at Neah-Kah-Nie High School while at the same time coaching an award winning speech & debate team. She was the Oregon Speech Educator of the year in 2007 and has twice received Outstanding Educator awards from the National Federation Of High Schools. She helped the speech team grow from zero to forty in a school with only 200 students, achieved three State Championships with seven of her competitors earning individual State Champion trophies, and served on the Speech State Committee for ten years. Somewhere in there, she was lucky enough to trick an amazing man into creating an uber-funny baby boy with her and occasionally cook dinner.

Two years ago, Holly was forced to step off the gerbil wheel when she contracted mononucleosis. The underlying Epstein Barr Virus has morphed into Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, leaving her to battle physical and mental fatigue -- a language arts specialist with a virus attached to her communications and short-term memory brain bits. No longer able to teach. The first year was spent in bed, wallowing in depression and self-identity crisis. Now she gets up, gets dressed, sometimes showers. Most importantly, she writes. In order to survive, she redefined herself as a novelist, hoarding the creative juice she once freely poured on her students, sometimes able to write only a sentence a day, sometimes a paragraph, but she writes.She dabbles in short story and poetry, loves writing children’s books with her six year old. And she just finished her first fiction novel, Smart Mouth."

Her longer bio is here
Holly's Blog is here:    http://hollylorincz.blogspot.com/

Despite Holly's health problems she's teaching a writing camp for teens at the Hoffman Center in Manzanita this summer. Summer in Words is having a raffle to benefit the the Hoffman Center and the fabulous Write Around Portland organization. As usual, I'm scrounging for raffle items (those related to writing especially appreciate, although we never turn down a bottle of wine.)We will also accept financial donations and pass them on to these worthy places that teach writing and keep the arts alive.

The cost for the conference is $265 and I'd like to also provide some feedback on her manuscript, the cost ranging from $45 to $350, depending on how much we raise.  

I see my role in life to inspire and help writers.
Could you please help me?Any amount will help.
Contact me about the raffle items.

Donations can be made through PayPal using either of my email addresses (link is at the bottom of this blog) and by sending them to Summer in Words, P.O. Box 820141, Portland, OR 97282-1141

As always, thanks to everyone who visits this blog and my site. Keep writing, keep dreaming, have heart

Thursday, May 24, 2012

In Case you Missed it...

Fifty of the Most Inspiring Authors in the World

Fearless, inventive, persistent, beautiful, or just plain badass—here are some of the living authors who shake us awake, challenge our ideas of who we are, embolden our actions, and, above all, inspire us to live life more fully and creatively. Add your favorites to the list in the comments section below. 

And Neil Gaiman's commencement address to The University of the Arts class is here: "Make good art."

Let's do it. Make good art.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Linked in For Writers
I'm awake at dawn with my head buzzing with all that needs to be accomplished in the next month before Summer in Words. In case you're wondering, there are still openings available. The weather has turned rainy, skies dismal, with patches of sun breaks and drizzle. It is no longer distracting, luring me into the yard for one more session of planting, weeding, or compost spreading. This means I can focus on an editing job and the conference. If you're a writer, you know that focus is your true-hearted ally.

Because I struggle to focus, I tend to ignore the frequent dings in my email box announcing various happenings and updates on Linked in and other sites. I'm about to change that after I saw this list published at Lee Lofland's site The Graveyard Shift. Aspiring suspense and thriller writers need to check out his information on forensics and police procedures. I think you're going to agree that there are some juicy pickings here.The 20 Essential Linked in Groups For Aspiring Writers.

Keep writing, keep dreaming, have heart

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

"A spy, like a writer, lives outside the mainstream population. He steals his experience through bribes and reconstructs it." - John le Carre

Monday, May 21, 2012

Risk Taker
As we all know, it can be plenty challenging to publish that first novel. Then comes the challenge of sustaining your work and building a devoted readership. Michael McGarrity (Hard Country) did all that. A former police officer, he was the author of twelve successful police procedural novels - the Kevin Kerney series. So what did he do for his lucky thirteenth novel? He wrote the first of an epic western trilogy tracing Kevin Kerney's forbears as they shaped the Southwest. Bold? Risky? You bet. But as Michael told Bill Kenower in their fascinating interview, he's a storyteller - period - and this was the story he needed to tell. ~ from Author Magazine

Thoughts on writing by Andre Dubus III
“If you don’t put 99 percent of yourself into the writing, there will be no publishing career. There’s the writer and there’s the author. The author—you don’t ever think about the author. Just think about the writer. So my advice would be, find a way to not care—easier said than done. Accept that the world may never notice this thing you worked so hard at. And instead, do it for it, find a job, find a way of living that gives you an hour or two or three a day to do it, and then work your ass off sending out, trying to get out there, but do not put the pressure on the work to do something for you. Because then you’re going to be writing dishonestly and for the market instead of for the characters and your story.”

“There are some beautiful books out there. But the ones that leave me cold are the ones where I feel—it’s that postmodern thing—it’s more experimentation with language than it is a deep compassionate falling into another human being’s experience.”

“I really think that if there’s any one enemy to human creativity, especially creative writing, its self-consciousness. And if you have one eye on the mirror to see how you’re doing, you’re not doing it as well as you can. Don’t think about publishing, don’t think about editors, don’t think about marketplace.”

Friday, May 18, 2012

Thought for the Day
What an astonishing thing a book is. It's a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you're inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Last Call

ast call (May 17) to receive the group discount at the Hallmark Inn for the Summer in Words Writing Conference. It’s a one-of-a-kind program for training writers at every skill level, from unpublished to professional, and offers help and inspiration to writers in every phase of their careers.

Why attend  Summer in Words? We consider writing a calling not a hobby.

The Summer in Words Conference is an intimate, workshop-intensive event for serious writers of all genres who wish to either begin a novel, work towards perfecting their memoir or novel-in-progress, (while also learning to write short fiction), or focus on their craft while revising toward publication. The Summer in Words Conference will provide not only the ideal location, but a perfect mix of professional and experienced faculty dedicated to teaching writers the pragmatic craft and market skills they need to be successful.

The Summer in Words Writing Conference is for aspiring authors and writers exists to: 1) teach participants advanced craft and technique 2) enable participants to learn the inside of publicizing their writing, a necessary skill in today’s marketplace, 3) combine the advantages of a larger conference with that of a small group workshop; and 4) provide a setting conducive to accomplishing all of the above (the endless blue of the Pacific as a backdrop).

The faculty: Sage Cohen, Chelsea Cain, Jessica Glenn, Cathy Lamb,  Jessica Morrell, Naseem Rahka, Bruce Holland Rogers

Where it Happens: The Hallmark Inn & Resort
Located in midtown of charming Cannon Beach, Oregon.  It offers premium lodging in a beautiful oceanfront resort. Hallmark Resort-Cannon Beach overlooks the sentinels of Haystack Rock and Tillamook Lighthouse is within view, it creates a splendid backdrop for spectacular vistas and stunning sunsets

Haystack Rock:
Towering 235 feet above sandy Cannon Beach, Haystack Rock is the third largest monolith in the world. This popular attraction shelters a marine garden at its base, which is home to marine creatures in tide pools open for gentle exploration by the public.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Quick Take: Locomotion
One difficulty that writers encounter is moving characters around in fiction. Beginning writers tend to describe every tiptoe and entrance. They want to describe every footstep across the room, every street he drives down, or every time the plane bucks due to turbulence. It’s best to skip over mundane locomotion activities and use these transitions for a dual purpose.

For example, if your character lives in a city you can insert an urban situation that creates a mood or implies that your character is observant:
Driving down Broadway nearing downtown, he spotted the homeless woman again, her shopping cart piled high with wrapped bundles and what appeared to be sculptures formed from plastic bags.

If your detective loves music, you can reveal what’s playing on his car’s CD player as he drives to a romantic rendezvous or to interview a murderer. Or perhaps you can show that gentrification has taken place in a certain neighborhood, which would by extension describe a character who lives there. Or, the natural lull of a car trip or the apprehension about the upcoming encounter can trigger a viewpoint character’s flashback or memory. The bottom line is don’t simply move your character around, force the transition and setting to accomplish several tasks as he moves from place to place.

Monday, May 14, 2012

What 50 Famous Authors Want us to Know
about the Writing Process

Check out this delicious post over at the Graveyard Shift.

Many thanks to Lee Lofland, author of Police Procedure and Investigation, A Guide For Writers.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Moment to Moment

A small piece I wrote on writers living moment to moment is at my website.

Happy Mother's Day to people everywhere who care about and care for children and others.

Keep writing, keep dreaming, have heart
All writers learn from the dead. As long as you continue to write, you continue to explore the work of writers who have preceded you; you also feel judged and held to account by them. But you don’t learn only from writers – you can learn from ancestors in all their forms. Because the dead control the past, they control the stories, and also certain kinds of truth.  ~Margaret Atwood

Friday, May 11, 2012

Month-long giveaway by Writer Mama
Folks I am participating in Christina Katz,'s month-long giveaway for Writer Mamas. Christina is the author of three Writer's Digest books and is a writing coach and a sizzling bundle of energy and ideas mostly about writing.

Today, Friday the the 11th, I'm giving away 2 copies of my book  Thanks, But This Isn't For Us.
As the title says, it's a (sort of) compassionate guide to why your writing is being rejected. Mostly it's chocked full of ideas on making your manuscripts publishable.
To win my book or others during the month of May, check out Da Rules at The Prosperous Writer site. You'll need to answer a question about your writing process. Here's my short interview with her:

When did you know for sure that you were a writer and that writing would be a major energy focus in your life?
In 5th grade. Every week our teacher Mr. Becker tuned into a radio broadcast about creative writing for kids. He had an old radio with a cloth front from the 40s at the back of the crowded classroom and the teacher’s voice was ancient and scratchy as fingernails on our always-dusty chalkboard. One week the assignment was to create a monster. I did and read my piece out loud to the class and got the 5th grade version of a standing ovation. And I was hooked.

Who has always been behind your writing career and who helped pull you up the ladder of success?
I had a few terrific teachers that I’ve never forgotten; Ray Vils in high school and Pulitzer prize winner Paul Hayes in college. Both taught be so much and inspired me with their passion for language and stories. Bill Johnson and Willamette Writers have supported me as an author and teacher and I’m always grateful for their help. These days, my man Jay guards my back and helps me carve out time for writing.

What is the most frequent comment you hear about your book (or books) from readers? Tell us a little story about the response to your work.
I just received an email from a reader of Thanks But This Isn’t For Us. As do most of these emails, he thanked me for writing it and told me that it’s eye-opening and he’s read it three times. I also see copies in reader’s hands that are full of underlines and post-it notes. Love that. Sometimes when you’re at your desk writing it’s like you’re a sea captain in the north Atlantic at midnight. In January.  A lonely perch—so hearing from readers is gratifying.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Beth Nakamura The Oregonian
Chelsea Cain's  Heartsick Series Joining FX

Chelsea Cain's, bestselling thriller series is in development with FX to transform her book series based in Portland, Oregon into a television series.  Heartsick involves a serial killer who is in a relationship—of sorts—with a police detective Archie Sheridan. Trouble is, the serial killer is a female, named Gretchen Lowell, a fresh twist on the serial killer plot. And their relationship is based on her kidnapping and almost killing him. Not exactly the stuff of romance. Heartsick is being written by Mikko Alanne (5 Days of War) and produced by Geyer Kosinski (Magic City).

She tweeted about the deal: "FX, of course, is home to Justified, Sons of Anarchy, and American Horror Story. They make great TV & buy fake blood in bulk."
Cain will also be the keynote speaker at the fifth annual Summer in Words Writing Conference which runs from June 15-17 at Cannon Beach, Oregon. Here keynote address is How to Murder For Money.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Thought for the Day:
If there's anything I'm proud of in my work - it's not that I draw better; there's so many better graphic artists than me - or that I write better, no. It's - and I'm not saying I know the truth, because what the hell is that? But what I got from Ruth and Dave, a kind of fierce honesty, to not let the kid down, to not let the kid get punished, to not suffer the child to be dealt with in a boring, simpering, crushing-of-the-spirit kind of way."

  ~ Maurice Sendak

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Maurice Sendak dies
Author of Where the Wilds Are died at 83. Here's a link to a wonderful interview with Bill Moyers where he discusses his inspiration for that marvelous story and his early influences.

"Best known for his children’s books, WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE and IN THE NIGHT KITCHEN, Maurice Sendak has spent the past fifty years bringing to life a world of fantasy and imagination. His unique vision is loved around the globe by both young and old. Beyond his award-winning work as a writer and illustrator of children’s books, Sendak has produced both operas and ballets for television and the stage.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, to Polish-Jewish immigrant parents, Sendak was a frail and sickly child. Spending much of his young life indoors, he turned to books at an early age. His view of the outside world was often limited to the family that came to visit him and the little that he could see from his window. It was during this time that he began to draw and to allow his imagination to run free. At age twelve, he went with his family to see Walt Disney’s FANTASIA. This animated world, constructed completely of invented characters and fantasy, had a great influence on him.

Throughout high school, Sendak continued to draw, and after graduating, published a handful of illustrations in the textbook ATOMICS FOR THE MILLIONS. In 1948, he began working for F.A.O. Schwartz as a window dresser and continued there for four years while taking night classes at the New York Art Students League. After finding work illustrating Marcel Ayme’s THE WONDERFUL FARM and Ruth Krauss’s A HOLE IS TO DIG, Sendak left F.A.O. Schwartz to become a full-time, freelance children’s book illustrator." ~ American Masters PBS

Alan M. Clark
Meet Bruce Holland Rogers
Stories by Bruce Holland Rogers have twice won the Micro Award for the best story under 1,000 words published in English during the previous year. Some of his other honors include two Nebula Awards, two World Fantasy Awards, and the Pushcart Prize. His fiction has been translated into over two dozen languages, including, rather improbably, Pashto and Klingon. He's also created a cottage industry selling subscriptions to his short-short stories by email, allowing him to reach readers directly, one story at a time. To learn more about Bruce and his stories, please go to www.shortshortshort.com. He teaches fiction writing in a low-residency MFA program at the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts. Bruce will be teaching two workshops Friday, June 15 at Summer in Words Writing Conference.
Q: Just for the record, how many short stories and poems have you written
at this point in your career?

A: Early in my career, I kept careful track of each publication, but in the last decade or so, I've barely managed to keep up with my mailing records. I do hope to go back and make an accurate record of more recent publications. I must be up to something like 500 stories now, many of them VERY short.

Q: Why short fiction and short, short fiction?

A: I've always had a hard time settling on one genre, one tone, one relationship with material, so part of the answer to your question is that short fiction allows the writer more freedom to constantly change focus. That's because short fiction isn't commercially important, so no one's especially paying attention to the fact that I haven't settled predictably into writing one kind of narrative. With novels, there's a better chance for commercial success, but also a greater chance that you'll make enough of a name for yourself that readers are disappointed if, say, you stop writing about the detective they love and write an unrelated suspense novel or even something as wild as science fiction or a quiet literary novel. I jump genres and ambitions from one work to the next, and no one is bothered.

Q: How would you describe the current market for short fiction?

It's a very diverse market. The strongest part of the market is science fiction and fantasy, where there are still a fairly large number of monthly magazines paying "professional" rates. Of course, those rates haven't gone up much since the 1960s, so even in the healthiest genre, short fiction is a difficult way to make a living.

At the same time, the market is fragmenting in all sorts of ways that I approve of. The Internet made it possible for me to distribute my short-short stories directly to paying subscribers. Now ebooks are squeezing more and more of the middlemen out of the literary transaction. Amazon is in the process of destroying the old model of publication, but Amazon is also creating momentum for readers paying writers with as little intermediation as possible, which means that Amazon itself may become the middleman that the marketplace no longer needs. Writers are increasingly selling directly to readers, and that can only allow for more success and diversity for writers in specialized markets, such as short fiction.

In all, then, I would say that the market for short fiction is somewhere between poor to explosive.

Q: I love the accessibility and creativity of your shortshort subscription
program. How did it come about?

A: It seems to have its origins in an apocryphal tale. I read in a book about marketing that in the early days of the Internet, a man offered to send a limerick a day, for a year, to anyone who sent him a dollar. According to this story, the man ended up with 100,000 subscribers.

I liked the idea of an email subscription to my stories, so I set the price low and first structured the subscription as a pyramid scheme: If I had one subscriber, I'd write one story a year. If I had ten subscribers, I'd write four stories a year. I hoped that this scheme would get people who wanted more stories to urge friends to subscribe. It worked. When I got to the point of two stories a month, I figured I was close to the limit of what I could produce to my satisfaction. I capped production at three stories a month, and the price has been ten dollars a year for most of shortshortshort's history. Ten dollars is low enough to make the subscription an impulse buy.

The total number of subscribers rises and falls according to how much time and energy I have available for publicizing the service. At the high-water mark, I had about 1,000 subscribers. These days, I'm at about half that.

I'd like to make a big push for subscriptions to get up to 2,000 paying readers. That would be enough to make my writing self-sustaining, though I'd probably keep teaching for a while even if I achieved that. I enjoy teaching.

The idea of having a writer supported by 2,000 fans, each paying $10 a year, is the sort of thing I was talking about in reply to your question about markets. This isn't at all a traditional view of "the market for fiction," but it is a model that I think we'll see increasingly.

 Q: What’s your best advice for creating a short story that lingers in the
reader’s imagination?

Rudyard Kipling had it right in the refrain of his poem, "In the Neolithic Age": There are nine and sixty ways of constructing tribal lays/ And every single one of them is right!

It's hard for me to come up with "best advice." So much depends on the writer, the writer's interests, and the individual reader. My advice boils down to "Write the story you would want to read, and write it well." That last bit is tricky. There is so much to learn about how to write well, how to figure out what words, in what order, will ignite the firecracker or open the rose in the reader's mind.

To a writer who wants stories to linger in the imagination, I'd suggest a course of survey and dissection. Survey literature to find many examples of stories that linger in YOUR imagination. Then, line by line, look at the story not as a reader, but as an analyst of effect. How does the story work? What does the first sentence establish? Why does the story start where it does, and not somewhere else? I think writers learn through a process of imitation and analysis. How-to books, books on the craft of writing, can help the writer to become more analytical. Some writers don't need that step. They are able to wring the essence out of fiction they love and take to doing the same thing themselves. They may not think of this as imitation, but it is. No writer learned to write, except by example.

There are many ways that a book, a teacher, the criticism of "test readers" can move the writer closer to writing a memorable story. But these are aids to the main task of reading, enjoying, analyzing, and imitating.
Q: What is your biggest challenge as a writer and how do you face it?

A: life?

There aren't enough hours in the day. I don't make enough money, and most of the obvious ways to make more from my writing involve doing a lot of things other than writing. In writing and in life, I feel pulled in many directions. The biggest challenge is to just keep the faith, to keep on keeping on, to write as if my writing were the most valuable thing I could offer the world. It may not be, but I face life's challenges by believing that it is.

 Q: Pasta or sushi?

A: Sushi, by far.

Q: What’s on your nightstand?

A: A stack of books of poetry, which I read for pleasure and for inspiration. Billy Collins. James Tate. Italo Calvino. Also a novel that I was enjoying, but then stopped reading because other things distracted me, like my lessons in Japanese. The novel is A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian.

Q: What’s next for you?

A: I'm in the process of getting the rights back to various out-of-print titles, so next, in addition to the writing I keep doing every month, will be the publication of these older books as ebooks. Also, I have collaborative projects combining fiction and nonfiction planned for Japan, Finland, and Hungary, though each of these projects relies on getting a grant. Still, why not aim for the stars?

Sunday, May 06, 2012

"I always say that family life serves the same useful purpose as those high-rise fires in disaster movies.It throws people together at close quarters and allows their true characters to emerge. And unlike mere friends,family members can't very easily give up on each other and walk away; they have to stick it out. So there you have the perfect breeding ground for a plot." ~ Ann Tyler

Saturday, May 05, 2012

"Focus on your work rather than your career. I taught writing for a long time, and I used a lot of revision to break down the students' resistance to revising their own work, and to get them really fascinated with their own stories. You can be a writer for your whole life and. E happy if your own work is fascinating to you, but if you're always thinking , 'What's happening to my career,' then your writing life, your relationship tobyourcwork, has a lot of ups and downs. But if you can write your own work and love it, and love to do it, and be fascinated by it, then, in my experience, your career will take care of itself." Jane Smiley

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Fiction Beginnings

“Remember, began with tension and immediacy.  Make readers feel the story has started. They want to be in your world, not be told about it. Don’t preface—plunge in.”  Jerome Stern

“Your story lives and dies on the strength of your opening.”  Nancy Kress

Effective openings set a story in motion, create momentum, tension, and suspense.  Plan your first moves for maximum impact.
  • Start with a threatening change in the protagonist’s situation. This inciting incident starts the action, often opens a can of worms or creates imbalance.
  • Introduce the protagonist and important characters, including their core traits
  • Establish viewpoint and voice
  • Introduces or hints at upcoming conflict
  • Uses specific, sensory details to immerse the reader in the story world and situation.
  • Establish setting and milieu of story
  • Use polished prose, figurative language,  and other artful flourishes
  • Creates involvement and sympathy for the protagonist
"Believe in yourself and in your own voice, because there will be
times in this business when you will be the only one who does. Take
heart from the knowledge that an author with a strong voice will
often have trouble at the start of his or her career because strong,
distinctive voices sometimes make editors nervous. But in the end,
only the strong survive."
- Jayne Ann Krentz

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Links of Note
(This was supposed to post on Monday. Not sure why it didn't) Sullen skies this morning and a threat of rain. Over the weekend I taught a workshop at the marvelous Field's End Writing Conference on Bainbridge Island in Washington. It was begun 10 years ago by stalwart writers who wanted to bring a conference to the island. David Guterson was one of the founders and early instructors and it's an island populated with authors, artists and home to one of the best bookstores I've ever visited, Eagle Harbor Books. On Sunday morning while J was browsing for books I plunked  in cozy arm chair near a window and read poetry and watched a stream of book lovers arrive and purchase book after book. There is nothing so heartening as watching cheery patrons leave with their choices after chatting with knowledgeable staff members. And did I mention that the island has no box stores or chain, fast-food restaurants? 

The conference was located at IslandWood this year, a school located in a 255-acre forest that teaches children about the environment and stewardship. It also educates teachers through their Masters Degree program and is the most creative, innovative, and artistic place I've ever visited. And there are no sounds except nature's stirring and birdcall, frog choruses and coyote howls. Deer visit feet from where you read and everywhere you look is green and lush and affirming. I came home inspired and feeling as if I'd been nestled the arms of a giant redwood.

One of the lovely things about teaching, writing books and blogging is the people you meet. One such person is Susan Dene Ashmore who teaches in Yipsilanti, Michigan.  I'm also inspired by Susan because she teaches writing to prisoners and is astute, kind, and funny.  We've never met in person, but I imagine our conversations would be long and lively and full of laughter and chatter about the books we've just read. She has been reminding me to tell writers everywhere about The Opinionator, the blog series in The New York Times pages that is featured weekly. Constance Hale, author of one of my favorite writing books, Sin and Syntax, has been writing about parts of language lately. I interviewed her when the book was published and have never forgotten her expertise and profound love of language.  Her post on passive voice is especially useful and this collection of Skyscapes will spur you to more precise and evocative descriptions.

Writers I met while teaching at my Summer in Words conference have created a blog that is also useful to writers and you should know about.  It's a blog called Author Marketing 101 and it's chock full of practical and helpful information. I know that you'll agree that it's a generous endeavor. The blog creators  C. Morgan Kennedy and Theresa Patrick will be appearing at upcoming conferences. Be sure to check out their speaking schedule.

Meanwhile, keep writing, keep dreaming, have heart

Going Home
and what it means to a writer is at my website here.
 "As writers we all need to return in memory to the places of childhood or our roots because without memory our writing cannot represent us fully and cannot be well-charged with emotion and sensory detail. We need to visit our origins to understand this queer pastime we’ve chosen, the reasons for why we became a person whose most absorbed and passionate hours are spent arranging and re-arranging words. Because going home illuminates our grown-up lives and if you’re a writer there are no forgotten children and there is always shelter and sky and seasons. "

Tuesday, May 01, 2012