Archive for the Category » Motivational Moments for Writers «

One of those Days…. When There’s nothing to Talk about…

Not me, just thought it was funny. I don’t own pearls.

After eight years of blogging, I find myself with a day (today) that I really don’t have anything to say. It’s too early for March’s author interview. It’s a good one! I’ve run dry on tips for writers ….  except  ….  “Writing isn’t a calling, it’s a doing.”  That hasn’t and will never change.  So get busy. 

Lee Goldberg

I spent my morning running errands on the internet; some book buying, some banking, some talking to authors. Next week we will start with my Interview with Lee Matthew Goldberg, a sci-fi writer.  And, literally, a tree hugger.   >>>>

I’m currently adapting my stage play, Emma and the Aardvarks into a children’s illustrated chapter book.  I have discovered a wonderful illustrator in Brazil and this is the first of his work for the book. Wonderful, huh? 

Jobson Chagas

I’ll sign off for now. If you’re wondering how I feel about this ‘dry spell’; it doesn’t bother me in the least. I see it as a much needed resting period and I know that March will fire up with lots of good things including our chat with Lee.

Bye for now….see you next week!

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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    November: Ella Quinn, December: Lauren Willig, January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica, March: Lee Matthew Goldberg
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One Candle Can Light Another

Gary Swindell
1961-2020

One day a good friend called me; Gary was  a very accomplished pianist, guitarist and musical director. He was reading my book of poetry, Butterflies and Bullets. He went on to say that while reading my work he kept hearing music in his head. And could I give him permission to use my poetry for lyrics. What a compliment! He said he was especially taken with, “Hair-cut…Two Bits”, about a down-and-out cellist, gambler and barber in New Orleans.

Gary  had previously written a song based on my play, Scent of Magnolia (Billie Holiday).  The world lost a beautiful musician and friend this past December. 

We artists, regardless of what we do or what we write, should lift each other up whenever or wherever we can.  When I review a book I make certain that my review (if bad) lists helpful and constructive criticism and is never cruel. 

It is my hope that my posts relating to writing helps a new writer begin their journey in writing….and helps experienced writers learn something new. My hope is to light someone else’s candle of creativity.

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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    November: Ella Quinn, December: Lauren Willig,
January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica 
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My Momma always said Life is like a box of chocolates…

We all remember this famous quote from Forest Gump……my box of chocolates is words…NEW words which I have never heard before.  Words that roll around on my tongue like a chocolate cherry cream out of my box of sweets.  For example here are some words I recently discovered …..

                            Tantalus: a Phrygian king who, for his crimes, was forced to stand hungry and thirsty surrounded by sweet water and fruit laden branches. I’ve seen it used loosely as an adjective: being tantalized without fulfillment.

Muniment:  a document, a title deed or charter

Muniment room: a storage or display room in a castle, church or university where pertinent historical documents or records are kept.

Entresol: a lower floor between two higher floors, between floors, mezzanine.

Cuckoo:  a common enough European bird but noted for its habit of laying its eggs in another bird’s nest which then hatched and raised the young cuckoos. The mother cuckoo never returns.  Which leads to the off-shoot of this word and description:  Usually referring to the husband of an unfaithful wife.  To make a cuckold of (a husband) and it could follow that the unfaithful wife is impregnated by the lover and (like the birds) the cuckolded husband and wife raise the child of another man.  Hence the use of the word.

When you write, never dumb it down for your readers. Remember you are writing prose. It’s okay to challenge your readers….it’s even preferred. 

As a writer, I hope that You love the flavor of words as much as I do….

(Recycled from the 2012 blog post.)
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    October: George Scott, December: Lauren Willig, February: Mike Lupica 

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A Slice of Time….How to Write a Ten Minute Play

I always see the script (for a 10 minute play) as a slice of time. ‘I Can’t Breathe’ was a slice of time before the event that prompted me writing the play. ‘Parkland Requiem’ was during  the event, that is the massacre that happened at Parkland’s high school. We all know what happened immediately after the shooting and not much before the shooting other than it was a normal day of  families getting ready for the day and hopeful young people hurrying off to school. 

For me, the writer, it’s like walking into a room where people are having a conversation (without you) and you are plunged into the story from there.

None of the rules of writing change when writing a ten minute play, just because it’s short. You must still have a beginning, an arc, and an ending(of sorts). You have to introduce the characters through dialogue quickly and concisely. You must attract the empathy of the audience with record speed. Remember, you only have ten minutes.

How do I know when I have ten minutes? Here’s some tips: The typical rule is a page equals one minute.  If a page is heavy with blocking, (movement) it will usually go longer than a minute. If you have a page that is solid with dialogue and movement you can rely on the 1 page = 1 minute. And leave lots of white space; an actor will need some space to write in blocking, from the director, and notes while in rehearsal. 
 

Check out my many “Motivational Moments for Writers” in past posts. 
Want to try your hand at writing a ten minute play? This journal is a great place to start. 
Want to see more of my ten minute plays? Click here 

Do you need help Formatting a Novel? 
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   May:  Joram Piatigorsky, June: Mike Maden writing for TOM CLANCY. July: Guest Blogger Desiree Villena, August: Carolyn Brown
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How To Fill Your Time….Ward Off Cabin Fever (4 of 4)

You’ve been cooped up for weeks now….trying to fight off  ‘cabin fever‘ which is a real thing.  The term originated during the long, confined dark winters in the Yukon and Alaska during the turn of the 19th century.  Gold miners and fur trappers would be confined to their cabins for months on end. Usually with their business partner, another male, (seldom was a woman around during these early days of panning and trapping.) The hardiest of these men would go slightly crazy and had even been known to kill their partner in a fit of crazed rage. 

Another writing exercise I would like to suggest is to write a letter to your dad, mom, your child. Write the truth. It might even spark the beginnings of a story as you remember the good times, the hard times growing up, the view of a new world through your child’s eyes. 
Cabin fever sparked the trivia part of my brain as I remembered this little snippet of fact and started me writing this post.

Did you miss the rest of this series? 
Self-Isolated. What Do You Do with All this Time?
What To Do with Isolated Time. Write a Short Story
What To Do with all Your Isolated Time? Journaling
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    December: Dervla McTiernan – January: David Poyer, March: Olivia Hawker, April: Dan Sofer 
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  Books by Trisha Sugarek

Ideas to Fill The Time….Writing

You’ve been  self-quarantined for weeks now…..Running out of ideas to fill your time?

Try writing something!

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Did you read these most recent posts?

Self-Isolated. What Do You Do with All this Time?

What To Do with Isolated Time. Write a Short Story

What To Do with all Your Isolated Time? Journaling

Some ideas on how to start and keep writing. We all have at least one story inside us. Why not try?
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    December: Dervla McTiernan – January: David Poyer, March: Olivia Hawker, April: Dan Sofer 
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Books by Trisha Sugarek

  

 

 

Perfect Example of Writing POV (MM…for Writers)

Sticking to a character’s POV (point-of-view) is sometimes a challenge for writers. I have been accused of ‘head-jumping’ myself. Dorothea Benton-Frank has given us a perfect example of not only writing correct POV but has done it in such a clever way that her acolytes aren’t even aware she has done it. 

In “by invitation only” she allocates each new chapter to a specific character (not a new trick) and writes exclusively from their point of view.  I never caught her wavering.  What was new and fresh about her approach was that the titles of each chapter were so darn imaginative. Only the female characters voice their POV’s and the author has chosen the ‘first person’ tense in which to write in.  Very effective.

This post is not a review of the book, per se, but if it were I would give it my highest ranking.  It’s a wonderful story and each page entertained me. Wrapped around family dynamics and a future wedding, (I don’t write spoilers) the last 100 pages bring some big surprises to an already glorious story.

Copyright – Benton Frank 2018

Aspiring writers should use this novel as a text book.

Did you miss my Interview with Dorothea Benton Frank?
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    December: Dervla McTiernan – January: David Poyer, March: Olivia Hawker, April: Dan Sofer 
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Motivational Moments…for Writers (Retread)

It ‘s worth repeating. Writers!  You can do it!

Procrastination is just a word.  Write one new word, one new sentence.  Breath!  That sentence should make you want to write another.

What?  Why? When? How? Where does that sentence lead you? Breathe. It doesn’t have to be perfect…it’s the first draft.  That’s what re-writes are for.

                             ‘Writers aren’t exactly people, they’re a whole lot of people trying to be one person.’
                               – F. Scott Fitzgerald

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                                  ‘As a writer, I marinate, speculate and hibernate.’  Trisha Sugarek
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    December: Dervla McTiernan – January: David Poyer 
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Available now!

 

When will My Stories be Discovered??

TS. I wrote this post back in 2012….seven years ago. But most of it still holds true today.

Okay, so now you have a publisher…your books will fly off the shelves or through cyberspace, right?  Au contra, it’s still going to take some time. Or at least, that’s certainly been my experience….

Samuel French (biggest publisher for stage plays)  picked me up in 2004 and has since published four of my stage plays.  I am so grateful to be in the same publishing house as  Louisa May Alcott, David Mamet, Anton Chekhov, and Tennessee Williams. And the staff is so nurturing to their authors.  But, here’s the reality: No sales the first year, a few the second year, more the third year and so on…….but, sadly, no BIG immediate discovery of this playwright!  Not like in the movies!!

So I kept writing and editing and submitting……and writing more!

I am happy to share with my readers the news that I received a nice fat check from French with reports that reflected my biggest sales period EVER, the first quarter, this year (2012)!  Over the last six months they have sold seventy scripts of mine.  Most orders were in multiple quantities which means a theatre company was buying enough books for cast and crew.  And that means that somewhere, out in the world, theatre companies are producing my work!  You might be saying to yourself, ‘that’s not so many’  but think about it.  That’s 11.6 scripts per month. And like I said, most of them were NOT perusal copies (of one) but the number that they would need to produce a show! One production in Bangor, Maine and the other in Phoenix, AZ.

Last year (2018) a play of mine was produced in Iceland and the UK.

My books are finally selling with some welcomed regularity on amazon.com (USA and Europe) and other book outlets. After eight long years!!

So my message to you is: Keep writing, fellow writers.  Keep editing, rewriting. That’s where a really good story/book is born.  When you get rejection after rejection  (as I did) let that be the spur to write more! Use ‘Self publishing’ . ‘Vanity’ books are a thing of the past…or almost.  Most of us, as writers, have something important to say and vanity is far, far away from our thoughts.  With the advent of ‘print on demand’ self publishing is not the huge investment it used to be.  I self publish for less than $100. plus the wholesale cost of the finished book.  Sure your publisher takes a cut…but!  You’re published!!

Writing is a lonely business but keep at it.  I’ll believe in you if you’ll believe in me!
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!  December: Australian mystery writer, Dervla  McTiernan
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Revise, Edit and Re-publish

My first novel was written in 2011. Being known as a playwright, I was urged by friends and fans to expound on the play by the same title. They were left unsatisfied by the play (even though it was a thumbnail of the story and quite successful on the stage.) They wanted more. What happened to the three women in the story? 

Writing a play is child’s play (pun intended) for someone like me. After all I’ve read thousands of play scripts and portrayed hundreds of characters from other plays, not my own.  One hundred pages is a walk in the park. But 300+ pages of a work of fiction. A Novel. I still remember the day I sat at my keyboard and faced the blank page 1. I was scared out of my mind.  Thank the stars I had a story plot and the stage play to refer to. 

Now, eight years later I brought it out and dusted it off. (Remember I’ve written about this before.) The first thing I do is check for my personal idiosyncrasies when writing: those words we all use too much. Mine are ‘just‘ and ‘that‘.  So I checked the first one. 264 ‘Justs‘ and I only needed about 28 of them. So I went through the manuscript and deleted a couple hundred. Ugh. 
Now, let’s see about the second word. ‘That’. 723. Oh dear!

Several years ago I was reading one of my favorite authors (when I’m not writing, I’m reading) and something was irritating me in the back of my consciousness, a little niggle. 

Then I realized the author repeatedly used the word ‘snickered’ or‘ snicker‘ when describing the tone of the dialogue. (Let the dialogue set the tone.) I doubt the author was even aware of it. ‘Snickered’ was exactly the same as my ‘that’. There’s a whole slew of synonyms for ‘snicker’ (she could have mixed it up) Scorned, scoffed, mocked, derided, sneered, snorted, etc. Once I discovered the culprit of my irritation, I couldn’t unsee the word and it spoiled the story for me. I put the book away, unread.

Technical Note: For those of you who don’t know how to find a word used to excess: Use the keys ‘Control F’; a box will open. type in the word that you might have used too much. It will tell you how many times it was used in the ms. And the word will be highlighted in yellow so you can easily edited them. 

So whenever you edit, clean up and revise an older work you will get a better story out it. You will achieve better writing. You may even find a new chapter or two.

“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter. ’Tis the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” ― Mark Twain
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    July — Catherine Ryan Hyde.  August:  My interview with Susan Wiggs  September: Alan Foster (sci-fi) and October: Kristina McMorris
 
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