Thursday, October 8, 2015

Read It And Heed It!

What a great list of eight suggestions for writers. Each of them will move you farther on your path to publication. I don't think I need to add anything more to the list. Each point is pretty clear.

It's such a good list that you might consider printing it, then place the list somewhere in the area where you write. Too often, we read something worthwhile and then forget about it. Out of sight, out of mind! 

Read it and heed it!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Try One Or All Three Picture Prompts

Time for a photo prompt exercise. Autumn pictures are so great that I've chosen three for you. Pick one and write a story or a few paragraphs to go with it. Or, do one for each of the pictures. You might also write a poem.

This is not punishment. This is not a chore. This is a writing exercise to flex your writer's muscles. This is to help you find some inspiration. This is to aid you in writing something you can submit to a publication. Go!

Where is he going? Why? Who is waiting for him?

Who grew this produce? Who will harvest it? Who will cook it?

Who lives here? Where did the bubbles come from? 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

When You Write Something That Pleases You

Snoopy has it right. It is exciting to write something that you know in your heart is well done. When that happens, you are inspired enough to start searching for a market for this wonderful piece of writing. You are pumped up and want to find a place where you can submit your work.

You submit and submit and submit the piece but receive either a rejection or no response. You begin to wilt like yesterday's bouquet. Doubt creeps in. Frustration sets up housekeeping in your mind. You even get angry at times and then you feel major disappointment. All those emotions swirl and twirl until you're dizzy with it all.

Once you get through all that, step back and try to be objective. Read your piece with an objective eye--which is not all that easy to do. Try to figure out why no editor snapped up this well-done story. There can be many reasons besides an editor not liking your work.

It's possible the publication had run a similar piece in the past few months. So, no matter how good your story is, they aren't going to repeat a topic so soon. Perhaps you tried a market that wasn't actually a good fit for the kind of story you wrote. Maybe the story itself is good but your mechanics of writing were not so hot.

The point here is that even good writing can get rejected. If you still feel positive about your story, keep submitting it. But first, do some re-editing and/or revising. It's been long enough since you wrote the story for you to be able to see it from a different perspective.

If you think the story is a good one and it still excites you, don't give up on getting it published. It's not all that often that we get an acceptance on the first submission. When you read a story in a magazine or online that you really like, do you ever wonder how many times the author had to submit before that particular work was actually published? No, we most likely don't think of that but I am certain that many of those good stories have taken awhile to find a home.

Bottom line for me is that it's a great feeling to write something you know in your heart is good. I entered a personal essay and a poem in a contest recently and neither one placed. It disappointed me but I still feel very satisfied with what I wrote and I'll start submitting to editors now. Somebody, somewhere is going to agree with me someday.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Sometimes Authors Disagree On Some Points

Yesterday, I went to the final day of the Kansas Authors Club state convention in Topeka. After the business meeting, I attended a panel discussion on how to market books and yourself as a writer.

Four many-times-published authors made up the panel. Each one gave a short talk and then answered questions. At one point, one of the panel members disagreed with another. It was not like the picture above. Instead, the author who vocally disagreed with another author did it in a respectful way.

It wasn't done to put down or embarrass the other woman. What the discussion entailed would take too much space in this post, but I liked the fact that one disagreed with the other in a public statement. Why?

Because it made evident the fact that everything we hear at a workshop is not gospel truth. Some is, of course. But much of what the authors presented was their own opinion garnered from experiences they've had. Is that wrong?

Not at all. We attend writing workshops to gain information. These two authors disagreed about one aspect of selling your books and yourself. I learned something from each one.

If Stephen King tells me I must write a certain way or I'll never sell my book, do I have to throw away my own opinions and nod my head at him swearing to do it his way forevermore? No, I don't. While I might respect his opinion, I have my own experiences on which to base my judgement as well as listening to experts in the field. I would probably listen carefully and try much of what he told me to do but I wouldn't give up my own thinking along the way.

The ages of the panelists varied quite a lot. What works for the youngest might not work for the oldest one. Because of their stage of life, they most likely approach each point in a different manner. And that's perfectly alright.

Remember that we can use different methods and still be considered correct. You do what works best for you. Don't ignore the advice you receive in a writing workshop. Much of it will be of great help to you but neither should you disregard your own feelings for the way something should be written.

I know I've spoken in generalities here, but you probably get the picture. It's alright to disagree at times--even with an expert. Just do it respectfully. No book smashing on heads, please. One last point--if you are going to disagree with another person, be able to explain why, back up your statement.

Friday, October 2, 2015

A Visit To Crystal Bridges

This is a photo I took yesterday when we visited the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, AR. The Walton family--of Walmart fame--has given this gift to all who wish to come and visit. There is no charge to view the permanent exhibits. The traveling exhibits have a nominal charge.

We'd heard good reports about this museum so decided to make it a stop on our way home from Birmingham, AL. We were not disappointed. The grounds and its hiking trails and the building itself are also works of art. One by nature and the other by architect, Moshe Safdie. Checking the page on the Crystal Bridges website devoted to the architecture will allow you to see far better photos than the one I have posted here.

The permanent collection takes the viewer on a historical tour of art moving from early years of our country to present day. There are many outstanding sculptures as well as paintings, all of which are displayed to best advantage. Emotions rose to the surface for me many moments of our visit.

The Traveling Exhibit we were treated to showed the works of two well-known artists--Andy Warhol and Jamie Wyeth. We watched a tour guide explain one of the paintings in this exhibit to a group of school children. If we'd had more time, we might have learned a thing or two.

As we strolled from gallery to gallery and along the window-lined corridors, I could not help but admire the building, both inside and out. Magnificent almost seemed too small a word to describe it.

We visited the restaurant/coffee shop area and the Museum Shop, both of which were most appealing. The outdoor hiking trails beckoned but time did not allow us to traverse the paths to see the many sculptures along the trail.

This is a museum artists would love but is also appealing to the everyday people of all ages. Writers could get inspiration to write while there or later on. Go to the website to learn more. If you plan a visit, spending time at the website would help give a better appreciation than just dropping in.

There are a lot of people who snicker or make fun of Walmart but after seeing this rare museum, they might never do so again. Instead, they might like to write a thank you note to the Walton family.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Welcome October By Writing About Fall Memories

October has arrived, the tenth month of the year. Blistering summer temps are only a memory now. Cool mornngs and warm afternoons begin the month. By Halloween, it could be downright cold. Or not! October likes to surprise us. Besides a colorful palette, she brings varying weather patterns.
October also brings thoughts of special days among the 31 on the calendar. We have Columbus Day which probably is not recognized as much now as in my growing up years. We learned in grade school why we celebrated this day, why we revered the man who discovered the land we live in. 

And who can ignore Halloween this month? Retailers make sure we don't forget it as do the children of our country who look forward to Halloween. Moms like to decorate with Halloween themes and dads help kids carve jack-o-lanterns. 

There are outings to pumpkin patches across the country and fall festivals. Chilly days bring on soups and stews and chili to warm our innards. In my childhood, October brought the aroma of smoke from piles of leaves that had been raked and set on fire. Now, that's been banned. Sad but understandable for those who suffer lung problems. 

Halloween costumes and parties, Trick or Treat nights and more highlight this month. 

I have a granddaughter who celebrates her birthday in the middle of October. And no doubt, many of you have family birthdays in this month of golden colors in our trees and bushes with some oranges and red hues sprinkled in. Glorious! 

What can you write about in October? How about some family stories or your memories of what October was like during your growing up years? 

In October:

What did you do in school?
What kinds of foods did your mother prepare?
What did your mom do with clothing? Put summer things away and get out the warm woolies? 
What kind of house maintenance was done?
What family outings did you have?
How did you celebrate Halloween?

We have been traveling this week between Kansas and Alabama. We're just a bit too early for the colors but have enjoyed the more moderate temps. Still no jackets to need in the mornings. It's a lovely month to enjoy as we wait for winter to slip up and surprise us. 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

About Your Writing Journey

Many writers feel like they are in a constant competition with other writers. I prefer to think of writers as being on a journey from the first time they wrote something to this present day. I, too, like to see writers happy and experiencing success on their long writing path.

You start the writing journey with that first piece you wrote. Maybe it was a special high school essay. Or it might have been a story written by you, the fourth grader. That first real writing that marked you as a writer might not have occurred until well into your adult years. It doesn't matter when it happened. What is important is that you took the first steps on your writing journey. 

If it made you happy, that's wonderful. If you found success, even better. But from those first timid steps on the writing path to today has been a time filled with so many markers. Look at some of them
  • that first published piece
  • the reams of paper you've used when you wrote by hand or printed your computer copy
  • the inspiration received from everyday pieces of life
  • earning writing rewards
  • accumulating a readership that continues to grow
  • the writing conferences attended
  • the workshops taught as a published writer
  • fan mail
  • writing better over the years
  • gaining confidence in your own writing ability
  • book signings
  • interviews 
 Some of you have experienced all of the markers above and others can check only a few. Do you see
the end of your writing journey? I certainly hope not. I have a strong desire to see my own writing journey continue until they put me in a casket and say some nice words at my grave site. God willing, that's the way it will be.