Reading and Writing

Writers like to read. Need to read.

Not just pleasure reading, which is a “given”.  But also reading about writing. The craft. Punctuation and grammar to be sure, but also reading about genres, point-of-view, voice, character development, plot and hundreds of more things we need to consider—need to master—in pursuit of excellence in writing.

James Scott Bell’s How to Write Dazzling Dialogue and Steven Pressfield’s Turning Pro are two books to add to your library.But don’t forget to pleasure-read, too. 

“All work, and no play, makes Jack a dull boy.”

I read that somewhere…

It’s More Fun to Write

It’s a LOT more fun to write than to rewrite.

One moment the page is blank. Within a few minutes, the page is half-filled.

One moment, it is a small spark in the brain. The next, it is a living, breathing organism—a grouping of thoughts begging to be a story.

Sometimes the ideas come so fast that there’s no time to check for grammar, spelling, or errors of any kind. They spill out and if they aren’t acknowledged right away, they fade. It’s hard to recoup them. Often, it’s not possible.

So, like many of you, I carry a pad of paper in my purse and a notebook in my car. If an idea comes into my head, I pull over and scribble it down. If I’m in a restaurant, a napkin may have to suffice. In the doctor’s office, I once wrote down an idea on the paper liner from the exam table. 

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

So what happens when you are in the middle of writing and someone calls you to say, partake of luscious ribs from the grill?

That’s what just happened to me in the middle of writing this blog. My husband  announced that the ribs were ready an hour earlier than I had expected.

I closed down my writing program and graced my husband with my presence at the table. The ribs were great and I wasn’t sorry I let them interrupt my writing.

But now I am back in front of the computer and I’m stalling…

I’ve lost my momentum, my train of thought. I’ve forgotten where I was headed with all of this. 

So, I’ll give this what I call the “Fifteen Minute Rule.”  If, within the space of fifteen minutes, I haven’t written anything meaningful, I’ll shut my computer down. 

Power off.

Because it is much more fun to write. Not so much fun to rewrite. 

It’s not as exciting when you’ve lost that edge, that quirky way of expressing something ordinary in a new and different way that makes us all sit up and take notice.

So, go ahead and have a plate of delicious ribs. But, as for me, I think I’ll pass—next time.

[Rewritten from an earlier blog post.]

Mom Loved to Read

My writing journey started with reading. I grew up in a home where my mother modeled the love of reading.

In elementary school, my teachers read to the class after lunch recess. (A perfect way to calm down a rowdy group after a lively game of volley ball). I looked forward to this time of day, as they read to us about children in other countries, cultures, and time periods. My understanding of the power of the written word to transport and inspire began in those classrooms decades ago.

It shouldn’t surprise you, then, to hear that I grew up to be a teacher and that one of the favorite parts of my day was reading to my own class after lunch. As I looked out at a sea of young faces , I could tell which ones were also caught up in the story and equally disappointed when we rejoined the present world and turned toward our math lesson.

When my own children were small, I didn’t have a lot of time for writing, so I wrote short stories, poems, or skits—just enough to satisfy my yearning to create. But, I definitely wanted more.

Once I retired, and decided to write in earnest, I found that writing fiction fulfills that inner longing to bring to life characters that others can enjoy. By the power of the written word, they live, breathe, and have a voice. 

And, yes, like most writers, I harbor that secret hope that some day they will live for all to see—on the big screen!

Please write and share how you started your writing journey.

SPECIAL EDITION

FREE.  FREE.  FREE.  FREE.  FREE.  FREE.  FREE 

TOMORROW.  TOMORROW.  TOMORROW

JUNE 11           JUNE 11           JUNE 11           JUNE 11

Not 1           Not 2        But 3 Kindle e-books!!!!

In celebration of the publishing of the fourth book in the Simon Says series, I have scheduled to have the first three books listed as FREE on www.Amazon.com 

For the next three days:  June 11, 12, and 13, download FREE Kindle e-book versions of Simon Says, Truth or Dare, and Tug of War.

And, while you’re shopping, why not purchase the fourth book, Cat’s Cradle?

You’ll love this final book, told largely from six-year-old Mary’s point-of-view. And, as always, thank you in advance for writing reviews!!!!

Face Your Fear of Public Speaking

Self-promotion is the name of the game. Even though we writers may say it is about the message in our writing (which, of course, it is) no one will “get it” if they don’t hear about us.

Blogs, Podcasts, Facebook, Twitter—these are certainly tools to accomplish the same thing. But none of these, alone, will accomplish what “in person”, face-to-face contact will do. Whether it is speaking at a critique group, local writing club or writing conference, our spoken words are powerful ways to connect to others.

Self-confidence  in public speaking is built by years of experience in snatching up speaking opportunities wherever, and whenever, they come along. If we don’t, we may very well be giving up our opportunity to be heard via our writing, also.

We can get over our insecurities and fear of public speaking by building our confidence in doing exactly the very thing we are most afraid of. Push ourselves to our most uncomfortable limit.

The problem is, even while I write these words, I can feel my heart rate escalating. I feel the all-too-familiar hives creeping up toward my neck…. 

You can run, but you can’t hide. You can avoid for years, but if we are honest with ourselves, it can actually feel good to face our fears.

Let’s get out there and do something about it.

There are opportunities to speak at schools, public libraries, even bookstores. We cannot make a difference in the world if we are not able to articulate our message, both in written and spoken speech. 

It’s going to take practice.

We’ve come too far to quit. We have so much to say!

Grab your phone. Dial the number for a public speaking self-help group in your area (Toastmasters may be a good place to start).

Remember:  in order to be a recognized name in the field of writing, one also must be a public speaker!

Cat’s Cradle

My sixth fiction book,Cat’s Cradle, was published this week, so I thought I would share the back cover copy and front cover with you.  It is available now on Amazon in paperback, hardcover, and e-book formats!!!!

Even though it is the fourth book in the Simon Says series, if you read the Prologue, you will be able to understand what is going on. Better yet, read the whole series! Simon Says, Truth or Dare, Tug of War, and Cat’s Cradle.

When Mary learns that Simon—the man who kidnapped her last summer, and now dominates her recurring nightmares—is actually her biological father, her world turns upside down.

She is frustrated and fearful. 

Confused about family relationships. 

Unsure about the permanence of friendships. 

And it comes out in her behavior at school and at home.

Faced with life’s new reality and an uncertain future, will Mary learn to forgive others, accept responsibility for her own actions, and place her faith in her heavenly Father?

It’s a lot for anyone. But she is only six years old!

Germinating

I woke with a scratchy throat. An hour or so later, that was followed by chills and a fever. My energy was zapped and my strength gone by the middle of the day. I called for a substitute and went to bed at 1:00 p.m. 

I felt better by the end of the week. I decided to try to go back to work.  I was able to maintain control of the class (if you’ve ever been a classroom teacher, you know what I mean…kids can sniff out a teacher who doesn’t feel quite up to par…) until shortly before noon when the unthinkable happened: I lost my voice.

When no one is listening, the effect can be devastating.

What happens to us, as writers, when we lose our “voice”? When we just don’t feel we are quite hitting the mark with our words?

There are days, in any profession, when we are just “off”. For whatever the reason— illness, distractions, catastrophic events, difficulties in our interpersonal relationships, even changes in the weather—we just don’t perform to our expectations.

We become disappointed in ourselves. We may even feel that we’ve let others “down”.

It’s not realistic to expect ourselves to function at optimal levels every day.

We need to remind ourselves that although we may strive for perfection, it’s just not realistic to EXPECT it of ourselves in each and every circumstance. 

Things WILL get better.

We WILL reconnect with those creative ideas! We WILL discover more hidden talents.

We WILL finish writing that book or article because we were gentle enough with ourselves to allow for days when ideas germinated, rather than flowed easily onto the page.

What Are You Reading About?

If you’re anything like me, you have a stack of books somewhere that keeps getting taller. It seems like every book I read is replaced by one or two more!

The fact is, writers like to read. Need to read.

I’m not just talking about pleasure reading, which is a “given”. Every writer I have ever met has told me that it was the love of reading that sparked within them the love of writing. 

No, I’m talking about reading about writing. The craft. Punctuation and grammar to be sure, but also reading about genres, point-of-view, voice, character development, plot and hundreds of more things we need to consider—need to master—in pursuit of excellence.

So, what’s next on my stack? James Scott Bell’s How to Write Dazzling Dialogue and Steven Pressfield’s Turning Pro.  But I won’t forget to pleasure-read, too.

After all, “All work, and no play, makes Jack a dull boy.”

I read that somewhere…

Write or Rewrite?

It’s a LOT more fun to write than to rewrite. In the case of writing, it’s the creative surge within—and as it flows out—onto the paper that makes it so enjoyable. 

One moment the page is blank. Within a few minutes, the page is half-filled.

One moment, it is a small spark in the brain. The next, it is a living, breathing, and growing organism.

A thought begets another thought. And that thought multiplies into a grouping of thoughts that are just begging to be a story. And that story is NOT GOING TO WAIT!

Sometimes the ideas come so fast that there’s no time to check for grammar, spelling, or errors of any kind. They spill out and if they aren’t acknowledged right away, they fade, sneak off, or even run away. It’s hard to recoup them.  Often, it’s not possible.

So, like many of you, I have carry a pad of paper in my purse and a notebook in my car. If an idea comes into my head, I pull over and scribble it down. If I’m in a restaurant, a napkin may have to suffice. In the doctor’s office, I once wrote down an idea on the paper liner from the exam table. 

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

So what happens when you are in the middle of writing and someone calls you to say, partake of luscious ribs from the grill?

That’s what just happened to me. Seriously. In the middle of writing this blog, my husband announced that the ribs were ready a good hour earlier than I had expected.

Now, I couldn’t disappoint the chef (or my stomach) so I closed down my writing program and graced my husband with my presence at the table. The ribs were great and I wasn’t sorry I let them interrupt my writing, but now I am back in front of the computer and I’m stalling…

I’ve lost my momentum, my train of thought. I’ve forgotten where I was headed with all of this. Things aren’t quite jelling the way I had planned.

So, I’ll give this what I call the “Fifteen Minute Rule.”  If, within the space of fifteen minutes, nothing earth shaking or mind blowing has taken place, I’m shutting it down. Powering off.

Because it is not as exciting when you’ve lost that edge, that quirky way of expressing something ordinary in a new and different way that makes us all sit up and take notice.

Because it is more fun to write than rewrite.

[From an earlier blog post.]

The Writing Journey

People sometimes ask me how I got started writing. I think it really started with reading. I grew up in a home where my mother modeled the love of reading.

In elementary school, I was fortunate to have teachers who took time to read to the class after lunch recess. (A perfect way to calm down a rowdy group after a lively game of volley ball). I looked forward to this time of day, as they read to us about children in other countries, cultures, and time periods. My understanding of the power of the written word to transport and inspire began in those classrooms decades ago.

It shouldn’t surprise you, then, to hear that I grew up to be a teacher and that one of the favorite parts of my day was reading to my own class after lunch. I literally had to force myself to read only one chapter because I could have easily read to my students all afternoon! I could look out at that sea of young faces and tell which ones were also caught up in the story and equally disappointed when we rejoined the present world and turned toward our math lesson.

When my own children were small, I didn’t have a lot of time for writing, so I wrote short stories, poems, or skits. I guess it was just enough to satisfy my yearning to create. But, I definitely wanted more.

Once I retired, I worked part time as a reading teaching for a few years before I decided to write in earnest. I remember the day I first sat down in front of the computer. I knocked out that first paragraph

My husband and I love to go to movies, so it was a natural next step for me to try my hand at screenwriting. I loved the action and I could see in my mind’s eye just what my characters would say and do—how they would interac. However, I soon learned that without relocating and forming connections in a world of actors, directors, and producers I was going nowhere.

So, that brings me to the present. It is a stimulating time for me because I have found that writing fiction fulfills that inner longing to create and bring to life characters that not only I, but other readers, can enjoy. By the power of the written word, they come to life. They live, they breathe, they have a voice. 

I live in their world, as much as I do in mine. My characters become my friends and my constant companions. And, yes, I do still harbor that secret hope that some day they will live for all to see—on the big screen!

Please write and let me know how you started your writing journey.

**Summary of earlier post.