Punting…

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Here I sit with not one good idea for my blog post.

What is the expression when you don’t know what to do? Punt?

I don’t like football, but I am desperate. So, here goes:

Today, I want to talk about encouraging other writers.

My overall purpose in writing this blog is to encourage you.

There is a saying that goes somewhat like this: People won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

So…you won’t hear my encouraging words—they won’t be as meaningful to you—unless I form some kind of connection with you.

One way I try to connect is by using a story about myself to which you can relate. On my other blog, today, I wrote about being caught in a storm. It’s likely that others have had similar experiences, or at least known someone who has had. From there, I can take the reader on an encouraging “journey.”

I often use humor. Mine is very dry, but even dry humor helps to develop a bond with readers, much like public speakers do when they share a joke or amusing story at the beginning of a speech.

Consistently blogging, or sharing information via emails or on a website is yet another way to stay connected. Once content is delivered, I look forward to encouraging others to use it.

Inviting my readers to ask questions is another way to encourage, especially if you feel free to ask about my life, struggles, experiences of being a writer, and so on.

But, sometimes, I just have to flat out tell things as they are—and that can be encouraging, too, because I think you are primarily looking for good content, sprinkled with a little encouragement here and there. 

Do you have additional ways in which you encourage other writers? 

Please feel free to write in and share your ideas. 

Authors, no matter at what stage in the writing process they currently are, need the encouragement of a committed community of writers.

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Get Back in the Saddle

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Several years ago, I started two websites. Every Sunday afternoon I write a blog post on each one. Up until now, I have been proud to say that I never missed blogging even once…

Until now.

We moved from one city to another over the course of a little over a week—quite a feat in Arizona’s 115 degree heat.

It really took a toll on our bodies—and literally all of our time.

So, last week, for the first time, I did not write on either of my two websites.

I know what I am going to say is self-imposed, but I felt like a total failure. I’d been super-busy before and still managed to write, but I just couldn’t get it done this time. 

There are enough failures in life without going around and beating oneself up over things that aren’t even on the grid. (I mean, did anyone even notice I hadn’t written???? Probably not).

I think we often stamp big “FAILURE” on our foreheads for any number of reasons for which we should give ourselves a pass…letting ourselves be human once in awhile.

I have been known to belittle myself for not:

writing my required number of words per day.

suggesting we eat out, yet again, when I feel should be making my husband a nice, home-cooked meal.

spending an entire day writing and then scrapping the idea at 6 p.m., and relegating nearly a ream of paper to the trash.

choosing the “easy way” over the longer process, even though I know I won’t be happy with the finished product.

So, my point is that no matter what little things may come up in your week ahead, grant yourselves a little grace. Tell yourself that you are worthwhile…have value…have people who care about you…and that in the big picture of life, your tiny “failure” isn’t worth beating yourself up over.

As a cowboy friend of mine might say, “Dust yourself off and get back in the saddle again.”

Yee-ha!

And, the Winner Is…

 

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I usually choose the subject for my blogs based on what I am most interested in at the moment or what I want to learn.

Today, I asked myself “Who is the best-selling fiction author of all time?” Here’s what I found out:

Topping the list with 4 billion books sold is Agatha Christe.

Behind her, is Wm. Shakespeare, who sold 2 billion books.

It probably wouldn’t surprise you that Danielle Steele, Sidney Sheldon, JK Rowling, and Dr. Seuss are also in the top ten.

Stephen King has sold 300 million books, Louis L’Amour sold 230 million, and James Patterson sold 150 million.

John Grisham has sold 100 million and is in the top 30, along with Nora Roberts, who sold more than 200 million and CS Lewis, with 100 million in total sales.

(Note: These are original sales. The resale market does not report number of sales for specific authors).

Most of the top sellers are in the Suspense/Detective/Thriller, or Romance categories. 

Most famous authors have written more than 40 books and are American or British.

The person who has written the most fiction books? Spanish writer Corin Tellado is credited with writing over 4,000 Romance novels!!!

Fascinating…daunting…inspiring.

 

What Makes a Book Worth Reading???

 

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I love to read.

I read a lot of books.

I post a lot of reviews.

When deciding what I liked about a book, I don’t look at things like writing style, typographical errors, or if certain elements showed up at exactly the right number of pages into the book. I’m not reading to be critical of someone else’s work.

I have my reader’s hat on and I am reading for enjoyment or for information. If what I am reading delivers, I am a happy camper.

So, in the case of reading fiction, what is it that makes a book enjoyable for the masses?

Here are a few observations. (Please feel free to write in and add any to the list that I may have forgotten).

I like a book when

  1. I have empathy for the main character, especially if they are the “under-dog” or are hurt or in a difficult situation which they are trying to change.
  2. I value one of the traits he/she has—love, courage, loyalty, etc.
  3. There’s not too much backstory.
  4. There is a nice balance of suspense and humor.
  5. If, by their actions and emotions, the characters seem “real.”
  6. There is enough description so that I can visualize the setting and the characters.
  7. The story doesn’t drag on and on way past when I feel it should have ended.
  8. There is a sentence or two at the end of each scene/chapter that makes me want to read “just one more”—and, often, late into the night. (I just have to find out…)
  9. The story isn’t totally predictable. If it twists and turns, making it a challenge for me to figure it out too readily.
  10. The hero succeeds/“wins.” That doesn’t mean that it must end the way I predicted. In fact, not at all. But, if the hero learns something or is in a better position at the end of the book than when the story began, I am satisfied.

 

Where To Read Good Examples of Flash Fiction

 

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Daily Science Fiction:  Science fiction emailed to you every day!

Every Day Fiction:  This site has been along for a long time. It will send a new story to your inbox every day.

Flash Fiction Chronicles:  This is part of Every Day Fiction. It lists great resources and also has a yearly contest with a cash prize.

Flash Fiction Online: Not free, but it’s worth visiting this one.

50 Word Stories: A good way to break into Flash Fiction. 

Nanoism: A Twitter fiction site.

The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts: For literary types.

Vestal Review: Boasts at being the world’s longest-running flash fiction magazine.

 

I hope you have enjoyed this series of blog posts on Flash Fiction!  

By the way, did you know there is a National Flash Fiction Day??? (Now in its seventh year, it was celebrated on June 16th.)

Flash Fiction Tips

 

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Some reminders before you put pen to paper:

1. Flash fiction shouldn’t be more than 1,000 words.

2.  It is NOT easy to get a whole short story into so few words. It requires a lot of PLANNING and EDITING.

3.  Writing Flash Fiction often takes MORE time than longer works.

4.  Focus on the small moments that shape bigger ideas, rather than on the big ideas.

5.  A good idea is to base Flash Fiction stories on things readers already know, such as myths and fairy tales, for example.

6.  To get your word count down, leave out dialogue attributions and in-depth descriptions.

7.  Focus on one central idea.  

Next week, we’ll finish off the series on Flash Fiction by sharing where you can go to read some good examples of Flash Fiction.

Writing Flash Fiction

 

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My last blog post talked about Flash Fiction and got us ready to address the “How-To-Write-It.”

So, here we go with what I’ve learned about writing Flash Fiction from a real-life pro, David Gaffney:                                                                                                                                      1. Start your story in the middle of the action. You don’t have time in this very short form to set scenes and build character.

 2.  Don’t use too many characters. Excess names and places eat up your word count.

 3. Make sure the ending isn’t at the end. (What?) Give almost all of the information in the first few lines, using the next few paragraphs to take the reader on a journey beneath the surface. This will help you avoid stories with punch-line- type endings. 

4. Make your title short and sweet. Give it punch.

5. Make your last line ring. Remember, it’s not the ending. – but it should make the reader continue to think about the ideas in the story and speculate about what it all meant.

6. Write long, then whittle your story down to the essentials. When you edit, don’t decrease the impact of the story. Choose your words carefully and sparingly. Make each one count!

Next week’s blog post: Flash Fiction Tips.