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Posts Tagged ‘Writers’

“Oh no! I’d never spend a few years writing a novel,” Josh Boone said.
He was doing a Q&A at a screening for his soon to be released movie, “Stuck in Love.” Some of the invited writers gasped. Did he just say that? So screenwriting is easier for him than a novel? Interesting.
That was only one of the gems we picked up from the experience. Fern Goodman, Larry Leech and I were glad we made the effort after receiving an invitation though Florida Writers Association. Craig Evans, publicist, thought writers would enjoy the film because “Stuck in Love” is about a family of writers. Greg Kinear is the award winning novelist, and his son and daughter both write. The daughter’s boyfriend even writes. Quotes from well known authors are peppered throughout the movie, including one by a favorite of mine, Flannery O’Connor. The son’s (Nat Wolff) fascination with Stephen King is a feeling most of us share about at least one particular writer. There was so much to identify with whether you are a writer or reader.
Yes, the movie is about young love, but not exclusively. Somehow they made a movie all ages can relate to.
Josh Boone and Nat Wolff were charming at the Q&A. Josh even gave us a peek into himself with confessions about why he wrote certain scenes and created the ending he did. They were warm and funny. If we get a chance to attend another screening we certainly will. Movies have to start with a script, and there is so much to learn from a creative mind like Josh Boone’s. Writers, next time you receive an invitation like this, GO!

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Forget Match.com or eHarmony.com. It’s time to create a new website to connect with a compatible mate. Forget those “walks on the beach.” Tell us what magazines you have in your bathroom (or by the bed). This could tell us more than your answers to a personality quiz.

This thought came about at the lunch table with my son and his employee. I mentioned that I tried to cut back on magazine subscriptions, but my mail box is still choked with them: Wired, Writers Digest, Oxford American, Garden & Gun, Prevention, First Line, The Florida Writer and NRA magazine, to name a few.

My son says, “Well, I have Playboy, Maxim and several biking magazines.” His employee named ESPN, some hockey magazine and another cycle magazine. I happen to know my other son reads Wired and NRA magazine because he takes mine. My daughter has her nose buried in one book after the other and I don’t think reads a lot of magazines. Her books run the gamut from action thrillers (her favorite) to literary books.

Reading choices don’t tell you everything. You still can’t know what wonderful fathers my sons are from their reading material, or what a strong, lovable person my daughter is, but you can certainly get an idea of interests they invest their time in.

Perhaps my view is skewered by the past. When I met my husband he worked as a librarian at the Navy base in our town. He read every history book he could get his hands on. In later years he added action thrillers, reading at least two novels a month. OK I do still have a stack of Playboys he saved over the years along with general aviation magazines–all telling something about his personality and experiences.

So, go to your online dating sites, if you must, but when you meet, ask him/her what they read. Of course, if they look twenty years older than their picture and four inches shorter or taller, ask to see the subscriptions.

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I’ve learned a thing or two about choosing books in the three months I’ve owned my Kindle—or it has owned me. Very catlike is this little device. It sleeps as much as you will let it, even as it tugs your thoughts to the page (or pages) it holds for you, waiting—waiting until you give it the equivalent of a scratch behind the ears and bring it to life. One you’ve flipped that little switch Kindle has your undivided attention.  Your whole (new) library lies in your lap. If you are one who reads multiple books at a time, you find you begin to do this on steroids.

There may be good reason for switching from book to book on Kindle, especially if you’ve downloaded a lot of freebies or 99 cent books, and here’s why. You read a few reviews of a book and it sounds pretty good, Pretty good is enough to hit the “one click” button if it’s free. How bad can it be? I’ll admit I haven’t gotten books with a lot of misspellings as others have, but some have broken very basic principals in writing. You have to wonder how they got on Amazon. Yes, this is early e-book era and yes, they are free or cheap, but supposedly an editor or critique group at the very least has read them before they made it this far. The sad thing is that some have good stories and characters and I might have really enjoyed them had not POV ping ponged back and forth so freely that I didn’t know who was thinking what. Then there were fairly prominent characters flimsily developed.

Several of these experiences have been with Christian lit. Now you don’t know they are Christian lit until you get into them in most cases. I am a Christian and the characters’ actions seemed natural to me even as they stood out because I rarely see characters in mainstream literature doing or thinking as these do. “Invisible” by Lorena McCourtney falls in this category. I thoroughly enjoyed her self-appointed senior investigator Ivy Malone. She was endearing and daring, a real fun read. I will not name the book I forced myself to finish (the POV gone wild book) because I am hoping for better ones from this author. Her plot was interesting, as were most of the characters.

Even as I read the last word of my favorite blind download I was asking, “Was this Christian lit?” and perhaps that’s the best compliment of all. I suspect the title, “The Dirty Parts of the Bible” will attract a wide, curious audience: They won’t be disappointed in this humorous novel set during the Great Depression. The humor wanes a bit during the odyssey Tobias is forced to take in desperate times. He is son of a fundamentalist preacher who questions all he has been taught and gains insight from the unlikeliest of characters. Sam Torode has written an unforgettable novel I suspect will do well.

You can’t go wrong with the (free) classics. This was my chance to re-read “The Secret Garden,” last heard when my second grade teacher read it to the class. I have since learned that every child in Texas apparently had this novel read to them in school. I was just as engrossed today as I was then, and probably learned the lessons the author intended even better. There is also Poe, Twain, London and so many favorites there for the taking.

I’ve even downloaded something called “Anywhere Abs,” which gently prods me to exercise my abs on the road or anywhere. Of course, I have to open it up, get on the floor and sweat.

For reference I have a dictionary, familiar quotations, the Bible, and Kindle Users Guide and Shortcuts—so far.

Kindle is changing the way I entertain myself. When the daily TV schedule shows few or no shows I enjoy, instead of disappointment I see a chance to open that new download or continue with one I am reading. In waiting rooms I open one of several books with short pieces, like “Stupid American History.” The rest of the time my Kindle sits there in its little red cover purring like a kitten—or is that me?

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I urge you to read the Five Days of Christmas Prayers from a favorite blogger. If these don’t capture your feelings, you are out of the mainstream.  Prayer #4 brings you down to earth, while #5 puts it all in prospective. (I realize there are two #4’s. I am referring to the one on Dec. 25th.)

http://cheles.wordpress.com/

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Are you like me? Do you enjoy those small moments in life where you meet an interesting person or end up in the middle of an unexpected situation that gives you a glimpse into a stranger’s life? If so, you’ll enjoy every one of these stories from Florida Writers Association authors. I hope you will like mine. Check out the recently released book on Amazon.com.

Slices of Life, FWA Collection - Volume 2

http://www.amazon.com/Slices-Life-FWA-Collection-2/dp/1936343304/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1290298893&sr=1-1

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SCAT

Apparently this connotation of “scat” is so new it is not yet in the online dictionary, so I’ll play Webster.

Scat – adj. Writing genre in which every word is a sound used to get an idea across.

I had lunch with a couple of writers from our recent conference yesterday and the subject of scat came up. One of the writers even gave a vivid demonstration of scat right there in Panera Bread, huffing and chugging like a train. Shortly after he went to the men’s room and came back laughing so hard he could barely get his story out.

An old friend of his was coming out of the men’s room as he entered. The guy was fuming. He was sure the world was going to hell in a hand basket. As he stood at the urinal talking to his wife on the cell a gentleman in the stall had the nerve to make bodily sounds that his wife could hear. “Is there no civility in our society any more?” he asked.

Yeah, we all said what you are thinking. This guy expects a public bathroom to be hallowed territory for his phone calls? So now we are all laughing, but I have an idea. Did my friend not just experience fertile ground so to speak for an entertaining (or not) foray into scat?  My guess is we won’t hear it soon, and that will be soon enough.

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At some point into the Florida Writers Association Conference last weekend in Lake Mary, FL, I began to feel like a talent scout. That young man working on his mystery would be heard from. I was sure of it. A short story writer whose first publication is in the FWA collections book would soon break through that tough publishing wall. You just know it sometimes. The beautiful young woman I pegged in the parking lot on the first day as a writer made top ten in Collections. Later her elevator pitch to me of her first novel was concise and intriguing. An agent at the conference thought so, too, and asked for the manuscript.

One of my short stories made its way to “Slices of Life,” FWA’s collection book for 2010. I got to play like a real author and sign books for people. There are things you don’t know your first time. I soon learned my signature was not always enough. Some wanted something more personal. Here’s where quick thinking and creativity comes in handy even when in shock. I wonder if published authors go to their graves feeling like a fraud or will the feeling pass?

I will let you know soon when “Slices of Live” will be available for order for just $14.95 at www.amazon.com.   If you love short stories and real life characters you will treasure this book.

My friend Joan Levy and I were finalists in the Royal Palm Literary Awards contest. We met last year when I asked to sit by her at the awards banquet and felt like old friends by the time they called her name for a second prize tie in her category. This time both our stories were up for Creative Non-fiction Unpublished awards. I realized I would feel badly if I won and Joan didn’t and she felt the same. We held cold, shaky hands at times, rung our hands at others, praying for a tie between us at any level. The presenter had announced there were more ties than usual. We saw this as a good omen. We only talked of a tie. Someone must have heard us. We did come out even. Neither of us won. Relief came before our feelings of rejection, so I guess that’s good. There is always next year. Perhaps we’ll try for different categories, though, and we do have the satisfaction of knowing we both made it to the top layer.

The workshops were first class with lots of “take aways,” but for real value, meeting other people who relish sitting at a computer rearranging 26 characters into ideas and word pictures for hours is always the high point. I’ll never forget pausing at the door as I entered my first mini-conference a few years ago. I immediately stepped outside and called my husband to say, “There’s a room full of people just like me!”

My only regret was that I chose at one point to attend a serious, well-attended workshop in the huge ball room instead of “Let’s Talk About Sex” in a smaller venue with speaker Laura Parker Castoro I learned later she had them rolling in the aisles. No, not like that. She presented with humor. All in all, I’d rather have had Sex in the Orchid Room.

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I’m beginning to feel I am frittering (or twittering) my life away and missing the real parts, like this blog. Yes, real! This page is my anchor and never far from my heart, but don’t we all slight the important things and people sometimes? Recently I’ve been taking part in actual physical interaction with three-dimensional human beings, yet feeling the guilt of slighting the also-real connections here at my fingertips. You know what I mean. I know you do. You are the ones who don’t dismiss the crazy thoughts that pop into my head during the day. You have them too. You don’t blow me off as the crazy lady with the cats. We are all digging for those special thoughts and being patient with each other as we try the lesser ones on for size.

We are American Idol without Simon Cowell. We deal not in music, but words and we all hold them dear and respect each others’ forays into new arrangements that bring out our spirits. I suspect you feel this way or you wouldn’t be here. And I hope you’ll keep coming because I may not have been writing a lot here lately, but I’m filling a notebook with fragments. Some have promise, some belong in the trash, others are lost to my illegible hand. Somewhere in there, though, I hope is a thought worthy of expansion and worthy of your time. Thanks for hanging in there and sharing your thoughts with me. Even in the winter funk many of you are tickling my funny bone and touching my heart. This is a good, real place to be. Don’t let anyone tell you different.

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Let’s put two myths to bed right off.

  • Writers are loners. Sure we work alone because writing is a one-person job unless you are part of a writing team for TV, but “loners” does not describe us. At the Florida Writers Association (www.floridawriters.net)annual conference in Lake Mary, Florida last weekend most attendees did indeed come alone it seemed, but there was a reason, if we can trust my limited “survey.” Those I spoke with did so for the same reason I did. Okay, we don’t have any friends, but besides that, the purpose was to meet as many other writers as possible in a short time. The best way to do that was not to pair up with someone you knew. And it worked. I met so many kindred souls my head is spinning. I’ll touch on a few in a minute.
  • Conference or banquet food is old TV dinners from the days of Sid Caesar and Howdy Doody, scraped from the tin trays and plopped before you, probably cold. You people have obviously never attended a conference at the Marriott in Lake Mary. I heard a perfect description of the creative breakfasts, lunches, breaks and dinners served us: “I feel like I’m on a cruise ship.” That sums it up. Of course, we will all need to work off the extra pounds as we do after a cruise, too. If you need further convincing, how about this? During the conference there was only one standing ovation—it was for the chef.

This was my first time attending a major conference, so I paid for one day (the second) in case it was not beneficial. I came back for the final day and wished I had attended the first, too. (Note to self for next year.)

The first workshop attended was for those farther along and ready to publish and promote, but things picked up when I heard young fantasy writer M.B. Weston, author of Elysian Chronicles . Her presentation on plot and structure was spirited and aimed right at my sore spot, conflict avoidance. She has a hard time doing bad things to her protagonist, too, but had tricks to help. Thank you. Thank you.

The first workshop after lunch was Crafting Commercial Memoir and presented by Brandi Bowles, an agent with Morhaim Literary Agency (www.morhaimliterary.com) whose job it is to buy memoirs. You can’t get advice more straight from the mouth than that. We left there seeing we had to target our audience and basically begin promotion of our book before we even write it. It’s a commercial world out there, kids. Techniques for stringing individual stories together with a narrative thread are the most challenging for me. Ms Bowles gave us several ways to accomplish that goal. Now the work begins.

After a hearty lunch, my next workshop was with Margie Lawson, psychologist, writer, international presenter (http://margielawson.com/, who spoke on Writing Body Language and Dialogue Cues Like a Psychologist. I have no doubt everyone in that workshop will soon be pouring over every work they have written to measure effectiveness against Margie Lawson’s criteria.

In the final workshop Sunday, James O. Born, author of five police thrillers, the latest “Escape Clause” (http://jamesoborn.com/titled his workshop Realism & What Drives Readers Crazy. He also writes science fiction under the pseudonym James O’Neal. Born, a DEA agent in “real life,” pulled one weapon after another from his duffle bag and kept us laughing while learning. Think: Carrot Top’s trunk with lethal weapons. No one got handcuffed (luckily) because he forgot the keys, but he turned my weapon against me when I asked advice on the police style (Surefire) defensive flashlight I carry.

This post has gone on long enough. I’ll be back to introduce you to some of the amazing writers I met and the visual treat we all had from the party next door, an Indian engagement party.

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I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. No one tells me what to do, not even myself. I kinda figured a lot of you feel that way, too, so here is my out-of-the-blue resolution: No more politics on this blog. If I have thoughts that won’t be held in, I’ll create a separate blog. This country is more divided on political matters than I’ve ever seen it, but so many of us are in sync in more ways than we aren’t. That’s what is blog has always been about, with a few diversions on the soap box. The soap box is going.

What brought this about? An unnamed best selling author invited me to be a friend on Facebook (soft promotion they all do). I have not read any of her books, but she is considered a Southern writer, and I do gravitate to Southern writers, so assumed I would enjoy her “friendly banter,” and maybe pick up a few writing tips. Lately though, her page has become a litany of political videos and rantings (with a chorus of admirers offering amens). What this writer showed me is that politics is a poor PR business model, and so is throwing your web friends under the bus for their views by implication. I promise to try hard to not do that. Let’s see if I can. YOU are worth it.

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