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Monday Motivation for the Writer! #8

My interview with bestselling author Robyn Carr was so generous  it became a 3 parter. She said this in the context of the post. I couldn’t have said it better so I borrowed it! Thanks, Robyn!

“….you have to be willing to write crap.  You have to write all the time whether it’s any good or not.  You can always delete or revise or rewrite but if you wait until it feels perfect, you’ll never accomplish anything.  You have to fill up pages with words and keep moving forward…”

 

“Any reviewer who expresses rage and loathing for a novel is preposterous. He or she is like a person who has put on full armor and attacked a hot fudge sundae.”  Kurt Vonnegut

“To understand the heart and mind of a person, look not at what he has already achieved, but at what he aspires to do.”  Kahlil Gibran

“Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.” Edgar Allan Poe

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               ‘As a writer, I marinate, speculate and hibernate.’  Trisha Sugarek

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Monday Motivations…for writers! #4

Writers, talk to your grandparents about their life experiences.  If you are a relatively new writer, start by writing about something you know.  Maybe a family story. My mother and her 12 siblings have been an endless reservoir of stories for me.  The length doesn’t matter when you first begin to write.  Be a good storyteller.  If I hear an adult chuckle when reading my children’s books, I know I’ve done a good job. 

How about a story from your Christmas past or holiday season with family?

“A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a
good children’s story in the slightest.” ~C.S. Lewis

 “I dream my paintings, then I paint my dreams.” ~ Van Gogh 
Dream your story and then write it!

“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.” ~ e  e cummings

“Writing isn’t a calling…it’s a doing.” T. Sugarek

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Monday Motivations for Writers! #3

Writers! Jump-start your day with more Monday Motivations!

Oh, so you think you will write all day, and beautiful things will happen?  Think again, grasshopper.  If you’re a one-person band like myself and most other indie authors, you will have to wear an editor, publicist, marketing, and publishing hat, to name a few.
It takes hard work and then some more hard work.  But here’s the payoff:  After eight years…yep..you heard me right…of consistent weekly blogging with relevant content, supporting other writers, and interviewing authors so much more famous than I am (well, I’m not famous at all) my posts are on page ONE of Google search, and my books are selling.  This year a traditional publisher picked up my true crime series of books.  Don’t misunderstand; when you get a publisher, DO NOT stop publishing your indie books.  And most important of all: KEEP WRITING!

  “If only life could be a little more tender and art a little more robust.” Alan Rickman, actor

 

 

“Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It’s perfect when it arrives and puts itself in our hands. It hopes we’ve learned something from yesterday.”  John Wayne

Writing isn’t a calling; it’s a doing.”  T. Sugarek

 

     ‘As a writer, I marinate, speculate, and hibernate.’  Trisha Sugarek

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A Word to Newbie Writers

authors, writers, reviews, famous authors

Charles Bukowski

He was, in my opinion, the greatest American fiction writer of the last half of the 20th century.   Fortunately for his book sales, most think of him as the archetypal drunk, misanthropic male pig. Whatever else he was, he was also the archetypal writer, a force of nature who knew exactly what to do to a blank page. 

Bukowski attributed so much weight to the single line that it eclipsed the writing philosophy of writing. If the single line was magnificent, the rest would take care of itself.  In a 60,000 word novel, the working focus was on the single line. In the sex stories he wrote and sold to skin mags for money, the working focus was on the single line. In a small, immortal poem that 50 people might read, his working focus was on the single line.

Do you possess this kind of love for your words? Well?  Do you?  Possess this kind of love and respect for your work? Do you respect your craft enough to narrow your focus to the attention of a single line? It’s not easy. It’s not fast. “But this must certainly be a path to immortal (and powerfully influential) writing.  If you can stomach it.”   Robert Bruce when writing about Henry Charles Bukowski, Jr.
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I’ve encouraged to re-write and delete and edit so much in my blogging you probably want to take a
‘delete’ key to me!  BUT!  It’s what makes a so-so writer into a good or great one.

Experienced writers know this and value the rewrite more than anything.  That’s really when the magic happens.
In a recent interview here with Jo-Ann Mapson, she said, “I love rewriting. Just thank God for it every single day, because that is where good writing pokes its head up.”

A word to you aspiring writers:  I’ve been there, believe me, when I was terrified to delete a single word.
Not that I was certain that everything I uttered was ‘gold’…..far from it….no, terrified that I had nothing better to replace it with. Now that I have found my ‘process’ I understand how I work.  I write it in my head for days, then, when the moment comes I type (thank God for my Admin skills of 75 wpm in a previous life).  Once the story is laid down, I begin the re-writing, editing, adding, deleting.

Re-writing and deleting:  some of my best work has been born in the re-write.  Some of my worst work has been write, create, writing, authors, blogdeleted.  Get it?

The Delete key:  I know, I know, I’m a tired old record.  But it can’t be said enough.  Get to know and love your delete key.  Every word you write isn’t going to be ‘golden’.  Before you push your child (story) out into traffic (the world) you are the only critic and editor in the room.  Be certain that you critique yourself; keep polishing, keep editing.

I’m of the school of writers that believes my work is never finished;  I could and have found something to re-write in everything I have published.  It’s a demon I have to live with.

The Mocking Bird by Charles Bukowski ©

The mocking bird had been following the cat
all summer
mocking, mocking, mocking

Teasing and cocksure;
the cat crawled under rockers on porches
tail flashing
and said something angry to the mocking bird
which I didn’t understand

Yesterday the cat walked calmly up the driveway
with the mocking bird alive in its mouth
wings fanned, wings fanned and flopping
feathers parted like a woman’s legs
and the bird was no longer mocking…   (from his book of poetry:  The Pleasures of the Damned)

Reprised from post 3/2013 writeratplay.com
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Nothing You Write, if you Hope to be any Good….

Lillian Hellman (Author of The Little Foxes and Children’s Hour)  once said, Nothing you write, if you hope to be any good, will ever come out as you first hoped.”

As a writer, that has happened to me over and over.  In the early days of my writing, I was appalled that the story was going somewhere that I had not planned for.   The characters would lead me down paths I had no intention of going down or writing about.  Now I accept this strange phenomenon that happens not just to me but to other writers as well.

     A glaring, or perhaps glorious, example of a story taking an unexpected turn was when I was writing Women Outside the Walls.  My plan for the storyline was that this would be a cozy little story of three very different women coming together while visiting their men in prison.

A third of the way through this project, Charlie, while sitting in the prison’s visiting room, jumps up, grabs Kitty, and, holding a shiv (knife) to her throat,  takes her hostage.  I  sat at my keyboard and wailed aloud, “No!  No, you can’t!  I don’t know anything about hostages……or hostage negotiations!” Too late! He’d already dragged Kitty to the back wall, and pandemonium had broken out.  The prison went on emergency lockdown, and there was nothing I could do! There I sat at my keyboard, dead in my tracks.

It took me four months researching hostage negotiations before I could resume working on my novel.  I had not the faintest clue as to how I would finally resolve this room being taken, hostage.  And I want to stop here and thank the federal and state hostage negotiators who assisted me in my research. While they would not share any of their techniques, they agreed to look over my story and tell me where I was off base. They allowed me to send them this segment of my novel for them to critique and assisted in keeping my portrayal accurate.   Before you COs jump all over me about the gun, I did take dramatic license with that.  

I have learned to anticipate and enjoy it when the story takes on a life of its own.  It’s my fondest wish to become, simply, the ‘typist’.  When my characters take control and tell me the story!

(Reprised 2013)

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Watch for more interviews with authors.  September: Culley Holderfield. October: Simon Gervais for ROBERT LUDLUM, November: Kevin J. Kennedy, December: Marc Cameron, writing for TOM CLANCY

 

A few BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK

 

 

Poem Featured on Home Page of PoetrySoup.com

Dear Trisha,

Congratulations, this is just a quick notice to let you know that your poem The Farm is one of the poems being featured on the PoetrySoup.com home page this week. Poems are rotated each day in groups of 14-16 to give each poem an equal opportunity to be displayed.
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Thanks again and congratulations.
Sincerely, PoetrySoup

The Farm ©
by Trisha Sugarek

Fields of mustard seed
as far and beyond the eye
the farm dogs return
dusted in yellow

The clapboard grey of the old
farm house stands in testimony of
generations of pea farmers,
hunters, fishermen, and cooks

Heady fragrance of a farm dinner
immerses the senses as the screen
door slaps open

The matriarchal voice sings out
‘tea party!’ A call to supper

the city folk sit around a battered
and scared wooden table laden with
baked chicken, fried steak, mashed potatoes,

green beans and corn that hung from the
vine just minutes ago

Her biscuits and corn bread are the stuff that
dreams are made of

Later they all sit on the warped porch steps
and listen as the geese honk their way in to
the fields and their nightly time of respite

Bats fly across the moon, frogs call out their
secrets, a loon wails its loneliness

For more poetry:  Click here
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Review ~~ Dreaming of Flight by Catherine Ryan Hyde

5+ out of 5 stars  Book Review

 

Odd, loveable, quirky characters are sprinkled throughout this story. From the first page they  seduce and beguile the reader.

Stewie, a 10 year old boy (when we first meet him) is passively neglected by his overly taxed, older sister.  His Gam has recently died and as a way to stay connected to his much beloved grandmother, he adopts and takes over the care of her chickens.  During his ‘egg route’ he meets Marilyn, another grandma-type with the same rough edge as his Gam. 

And that’s where I’ll leave the spoiler alert.  The writing is done with the same brilliance we have come to expect from Catherine Ryan Hyde. Her turn of phrase is unapparelled.  Her balance of descriptive text and dialogue is near-perfect. And my readers know how too little dialogue irks me!  This will never happen in a Hyde book.  The characters are well thought out and deeply written. Hyde ‘shows’ you her characters; never tells you who and what they are. And who else could get a beautiful story out of a young boy and his chickens?

I highly recommend this book to my readers. If you loved Allie and Bea (and I did!) you will certainly love Dreaming of Flight.

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Did you miss my interview with Catherine Ryan Hyde
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Writing isn’t a calling; it’s a Doing!

Lillian Hellman said this. ‘If you hope to be any good, nothing you write will ever come out as you first hoped.’     It is true and if you are truly lucky it will happen to you.

In my novel, Women Outside the Walls, I have waited until Joe dies at Charlie’s hands to share with you the back story of how the last chapters of my book came to be.   How I experienced this lucky event of my book not turning out as I had first hoped.

In the play script version , this is where the story ends; Joe dying on the cold floor of a prison and Charlie’s line:  “I got you to find Chelsea, didn’t I?”  And this was where I had planned for the  novel to end too.

IF I had not been working closely with a woman who had ‘stood by her man’ for 15 years while he was in prison. Women Outside the Walls Shortly after he was paroled, her son received 13 years for manslaughter.  She has been there, done that, times two!  After SK (the woman outside real walls) read the last pages, she looked up and asked: “What happened to Charlie?  To Alma?”

I looked blank for a moment. I was, first and foremost, a playwright after all. Then replied, “do you think anyone would care?” She said, “Absolutely.  Is Charlie in a death penalty state?  Does Alma stick by him?” she asked.  And “By the way, what happened to Hattie and her kids?”

The problem was I had no experience with death row……BUT I did have SK, whose son narrowly avoided the death penalty when he  pled down from murder two to voluntary manslaughter.  SK never spoke of those dark days when she thought she would lose her son when the state executed him.  Now she was willing to speak of it with me.

Based upon her stories and the stories of her friends (other women outside the walls) I was able to write those
final chapters.  Did Charlie walk down that long hallway to the ‘needle’?  Was anyone there to witness his death?
You might be surprised.  And yes, what happened to Hattie and Kitty?

Try to explore everything you can about your characters’ lives.  Don’t leave a single road untraveled.  We all care about what happens to the villain!

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Reading Books!

This was my journey with books except for the frustration part.

Somewhere around #7 “Rediscovering books” I began to seriously write. Stage plays to begin with…then children’s books….

then full length novels and poetry. And then more stage plays. But always reading…reading…reading.  Non-Stop! 

Books take you away…to far off lands, to adventures which you’d probably never have, and
to meet other people from all walks of life. 

Keep reading, keep writing……remember,

Writing isn’t a calling….it’s a doing! 

 

 

 

(acknowledgement: www.grantsnider.com)

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Conflict, Lighting, Sets……Action!

As a playwright you better find some conflict in your story. Little Women had soft, cozy conflict but make no mistake there was conflict. Romeo and Juliet had glaring conflict represented by a family feud that wrought murder and mayhem. To be successful, you must have antagonists and protagonists in your plot.
CONFLICT: It is a challenge to write conflict with dialogue only. There is no description (like fiction) where you can tell the reader how angry and against something your antagonist is. Granted you have the characters right there in front of you, to tell the story with their body language but the dialogue carries the day and is the difference between weak writing and strong, successful writing.
Using examples from a recent play of mine, I will demonstrate conflict in simple, but successful (to the overall plot of the play) terms. A children’s play but the rules still apply and are no less challenging because it’s a kids’ play. Perhaps even more of a challenge.
Sub-PLOT: The sooner the plot is revealed the better. If you haven’t engaged the audience in the first three minutes, you don’t have a very good plot. 

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Back in the day when there were truly ‘starving actors’ we started up theatre companies all the time with a couple of platforms and four ‘spots’ that one would use in a shop in the garage at home. This is a cheap ($12. a piece) adaptable, portable light. You can even attach a gel to the cone for a few pennies per gel. Use blues for night and warm colors (amber) for day. Each light has a wire running back to the control desk/booth and while you won’t have a dimmer option, you must be able to turn the light off and on.

When we started our own company, we had to be totally portable as our performance space could be an art gallery, a café, a gymnasium, or school auditorium. Anywhere they would allow us to use their space. All sites had to be vacated when the weekend was over and then loaded back in for the next performance date.

We could light just about any play with four of these clamp-on, shop lights. The purpose of any stage lighting is to light the actors and the set. If you don’t accomplish anything else, you need to make certain this happens. If your stage is in a very small space, it’s not super critical to light the actors brightly. Just be certain they stay in the light, which is where the director’s blocking comes in.

Even if you need to stick to the basics of simple illumination, lighting makes everything feel more professional and helps the audience to better focus on what is going on, on the stage. Theatrical lighting doesn’t have to be overly complicated. Lighting is about making certain that you can see the people on stage and that the moods of the play are represented and amplified.
Clamp lights aren’t the be all and end all. You’ll have to live with the shadows that they cast.
But remember, this is all you can afford now, and you’ll also need to be able to break it down and take the lighting with you.

I still remember the thrill when we could finally afford a couple of Klieg lights.

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Most theatres have a set designer who creates the set based on the director’s vision. But it is important that the playwright sees the set. Where your story takes place. If your set requires two different scenes/sets and you have structured the play around two sets you must think about time and money. Anticipate the cost because you want the director to choose your play to produce. But if the cost of more than one set is too much, your play might never be chosen.
An envelope design works nicely for the need of two locations/sets in one play. The first set in created on the outside fold of an envelope. When the scene changes the ‘flap’ is opened, like a tri-fold (by the stage crew) and a new set/location is used. Set pieces (Furnishings) have to be changed out and this calls for some cleverness on the director’s part.
One play comes to mind that I directed: The Cemetery Club. The main set was a living room of one of the female characters. But I also needed a Jewish cemetery. The four widows went there every month to visit their dead husbands and maintain the gravesite.
So what I designed was a single backdrop (scenery). What you might see out the living room window. Then I furnished the living room with set pieces. Sofa, chairs, coffee table, lamps, etc.
Upstage on a riser I created the cemetery with three graves. I designed starfoam monuments with the Star of David on the downstage side. The women would walk up on the risers and, while gazing at the graves, deliver their monologues. It worked because the actors believed it. Thus the audience believed it.   The magic of theatre!
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