by Lisa Sledge
We all have it.
That fantasy about what we’re going to do when we:
-Sign with our dream agent
-Sign our first publishing contract
-See the cover art or maybe even a few inside illustrations
-Turn the pages of our printed book
-Find our name in a library catalog
When I see my book in print for the first time, there are two things I want to do. First of all, I’m going on a hot air balloon ride. I’ve always wanted to do that. It seems fitting to celebrate the accomplishment of one dream with another.
The next thing I’m going to do is a secret. But it will be fun. :)
What do you dream about?
From Ms. Brenda
What am I doing with my time?
One of our Utah writers, Johnny Worthen, is writing. He debuted his BEATRYSEL which was released last year by Omnium Gatherum Media in L.A. Then his YA paranormal trilogy, THE UNSEEN, kicked off last July from Jolly Fish Press with the release of ELEANOR. Next year the trilogy will continue in June with CELESTE, THE UNSEEN, followed later by DAVID, THE UNSEEN. (He also said he would appreciate your looking for it, even though it’s “The Unseen Trilogy”!)
Additionally, he will “unleash upon the world” his “satirical neo-noire detective Tony Flaner in THE FINGER TRAP in the fall, and when I met him last mid-September he had just received notice from Cherokee McGhee publishers, VA, that his political mystery THE BRAND DEMAND (an Edward Abby-esque MONKEY WRENCH GANG) will come out in May. Not to mention stories in anthologies, and a novella, DR. STUART’S HEART (companion piece to BEATRYSEL).
And what am I doing with all my spare time? What are you doing with yours ? ? ?
From Ms. Cheryl
Challenge for this week: Write down twenty things about your character that your reader will never know.
This is a great way to prep for Nanowrimo if you’re planning on it. By doing this, you add depth to your character that naturally comes out in your writing without ever being said. Try it!
Cheryl has given us a NaNo exercise. I’ll add another. (This is three exercises to get you ready for next month!)
We’ve talked about this a ton before.
The opening of a book. How it needs to grab the reader.
Come up with as many first lines as you can in 20 minutes. Do that every day for one week.
After the 20 minutes, reread your lines.
What do you love most?
What does each line do for you?
Do you connect with any? All? None?
Write your emotions–and maybe a few lines of direction on your favorites.
Alls I got to say today is….
MOM GOT A HOUSE!!! Wooooohoooooo
National Novel Writing Month?
I am, but only if I finish the two books I am working on now.
One of these two books I started years ago–and very nearly completed during NaNoWriMo.
Whatever the case, we get prepared this month for what will happen next.
Do your normal writing.
But, in addition,
Develop two characters this week.
Flesh them out.
Make a file for each.
Who are they?
Do you like them?
Do you plan on using them next month?
Is one your main character?
Is one a villain?
Are they lovers?
Think of every possibility about these two. Remember to ask (for both), what does he want? And why does he want this thing?
by Lisa Sledge
Please don’t hate me when I tell you. I slept through two-thirds of the final action sequence in Avengers. In my defense, the action went on for a very long time. Don’t get me wrong, action/adventure films and books are high up on my list of favorites. So what happened? How could I sleep through the climax?
I could predict the ending.
I didn’t care.
I read a lot of blogs on writing. One common thread of advice is that the best way to capture an audience’s attention is to ratchet up the tension from the very first page and never let it stop. That readers will only care to finish the book if they’re riveted by an unending series of action.
What crappy load of garbage to feed aspiring writers (and yes, I definitely still fit in the “aspiring” category).
A reader will finish if they care. Action isn’t intense unless we’re desperately cheering for the hero/heroine. It isn’t enough to like them. We have to be invested in their relationships, troubles, and fears. We have to love them enough to be scared for them.
This week as we’re writing, let’s stop trying to hook our readers with series of unending action. The action can happen . . . but it’s not the most important thing. Let’s first strive to write a world with characters whose problems capture a reader’s heart.
That should be our goal.
#1 From Brenda!
In mid-September I spent two full days at the League of Utah Writers’ annual convention. One of the authors who taught mini-classes also gave the Key Note address at the Saturday night dinner and awards event: Johnny Worthen. At that last event something happened I don’t ever remember having seen in that venue (I’d I’ve been an active member of that group since the late ’70s: the ENTIRE audience jumped to its feet and gave a long, loud standing ovation: clapping-loud, yelling-loud!
I cannot give you his asides (which were many), or imitate his delivery (fast, Energetic, funny, touching,
etc. etc., etc.) but I’d like to share a few thoughts from it every now and then. Johnny is a native of Utah, specifically the Holladay and Sandy areas; he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in English Lit, with a minor in Classical Studies, and likes to good-naturedly brag that he “reads Latin.” He’s also added a Masters Degree in American Studies with a film emphasis. He followed this up by saying “With training like this I naturally and inevitably ended up the fast food service industry.” (Appreciative chortling from the audience.)
Among his “dozen other careers,” he claims to have opened a bagel shop in Oregon and made sandwiches for years before “the rains of the Northwest threatened to wash my soul away and I returned to the sand from which I was bred and came home . . . more businesses, more changes. Less rain.”
So my question to you is, what did you REALLY think you would be when you grew up? And what other jobs did you do in the meantime? What job(s) employ you now? How has your life changed in the last three to five years? Is it for better or worse? How can you make it better than “better” now? How (or DO you even) embrace the writer’s life?
Johnny quoted Sharon Olds: “I was a late bloomer. But anyone who blooms at all, ever, is very lucky.”
#2 From Cheryl
I finished! Well, I finished a first draft.
It’s really short (my first drafts always are.)
It’s really bad.
I’ve discovered I overuse the words “just,” “looked,” and “suddenly.” Oh, and of course, “I.”
But there’s something. There are words on the page. I have something to edit, to try to work with.
My message to all of you: Keep going! It will be worth it! Get your butt in that chair and keep it there!
And now, the real work begins!
Using these ten words, write an important scene for your novel. And yes, you can use MORE than these words, these just need to be included. Also yes, you may add an ing and etc, if necessary.
PS We’ll try to have a few clues for next month–that’s right–NaNoWriMo is just around the corner!
It was a wild few weeks.
I got to finally hangout on the Florida beach. See my cute friend. Eat a lobster. Drink a beverage that’s a “double” skinny dip. And get my bag ripped apart because Mom insisted I bring her some Florida sand.
It was great.
But I am glad to be back.
I love my state. I love my sisters. And my friends.
The fall weather is making me feel weird. But I’m hoping those weird feelings mean I can start writing again. My brain hasn’t been doing its job lately. Hopefully that can change.
I am going to finish Shirley Jackson’s novel We Have Always Lived in the Castle.
Believe it or not, Mom read this book to us as children and I fell in love. Rereading it I am still in love.
I love good books. I hope I can write one.