Tag-Archive for » write «

10 Steps to Becoming a Better Writer

image of 10 Steps to Becoming a Better Writer PosterCompliments of Brian Clark, CEO of Copyblogger

This is so true!  I bang out stuff that never sees the light of day.   I vent on a new post that I never publish.  I keep post-it note pads everywhere in the house so that if I get an idea (some good, some not so much) I can jot it down.  My most valuable post-it note pad is by my bedside because frequently I write in my head in a dream-like state and too lazy to turn on the light, grab paper and pen, I say to myself, ‘oh, I’ll remember this when I wake up’ I never do and IT IS GONE FOREVER!

In the middle of the night I ‘dreamed’ a single line for a poem I was working on…..“an overachiever  dips into the nectar….” and yes, I turned on the light and wrote it down.  When I awoke in the morning the only thing I remembered was that I had a terrific line for my poetry but had no idea what it was.  Fortunately there it was by my bedside.

“Write When You Don’t”….I tend to marinate.  more »

That Magical Space Where You Write…

writers, fiction, create, authors, children's books, art, painting

this author’s studio

I think one of your tools, as a writer, should be a special work space.  Do you have an extra room? Even, if its all you have, a large closet will serve.  Somewhere you can call you own, a space that will, I promise you, become a creative oasis. Where no one enters except  by invitation.

And it can change from day to day. I have interviewed many authors and they write on the beach, a coffee shop, on the train, in a lonely cabin in the mountains.

An author's work space... the train

An author’s work space… the train

I’ve always had the luxury of a spare bedroom to call my studio.  On my walls I am surrounded by my own water color work, framed letters from my publisher, photos of theatre productions. In one corner is my desk and a comfortable chair.  My desktop computer has the place of honor as I do all my writing there.  I simply can’t write long hand as I cannot write fast enough when the spirit is on me!  I type seventy five words a minute and sometimes that’s too slow.  more »

‘Writers! Never Give Up!’ said the mouse ….

courage, writing, creating, writers, bravery,      Sometimes the business of writing is like the mouse trap; ready to snap our heads off in an instant!  Like this brave little mouse, never give up on yourself.  Believe in yourself and your writing and  put your helmet on and get back in the game!

(A year and a half later visitors are still reading this post, so I thought it deserved another airing.)

What prompted the idea of the helmet?  (what prompts you to write? and about what?) Did the little mouse see his grandpa die by mouse trap?  (are you writing about something you heard, saw, witnessed?) Where did the mouse get the helmet? And how did he know that trap-bar hitting hard surface of helmet equaled safety?  (are you researching your facts thoroughly?)  Or did the mouse listen to a folk tale at his mother’s knee, passed down from generation to generation, about a brave ancestor who foiled the mouse trap?

Like the piece of cheese, it will all be worth it in the end.  more »

Are you a fan of International Intrigue? A Review

Andrew Grant, author, reviews, best selling author       I first met author, Andrew Grant, through his lovely wife, author Tasha Alexander.  (Interviews with both coming later in the year)   Andrew consented to an interview this winter in anticipation of his new book which will be released in 2014.

I had never read anything by Andrew but I do try to do my homework because I promised my readers that I was interviewing my favorite authors.  So I ordered  Grant’s book ,  “EVEN”.

And I am so happy that I did.

reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing reviews, authors, writing      Ranking: 5 out of 5 quills                  A REVIEW    “EVEN”

Andrew turns out to be a slick, savvy, clever, and ‘surprise you at every turn’ kind of writer.  And his humor is dry as your morning toast.  Which, if you know me, you know that I love me some DRY humor!

British Intelligence operative, David Trevellyan is a take action sort’a guy.  At one point in the story he is forced to sit in on one of the FBI’s endless meetings and ruminates to himself:  “Staying on to help Tanya fight her demons was one thing. I was thinking about time spent in restaurants, and bars, and other, more secluded places.  Not in offices. Not sitting through endless meetings. Talk of corporations was a bad sign. Any mention of conspiracies and government contractors was worse.  Interagency cooperation was only a sentence away.  Task forces would be proposed.  I knew how it would end up.  If I let the FBI go down that road I’d never get away.  I’d be stuck here for months.”   See?  Very funny man!

I will be buying more of the Trevellyan series as they are great stories.  I always felt like James Bond was a bit of a Andrew Grant, best selling authors, review,spoof….entertaining especially with Sean Connery’s tongue in cheek delivery.  But Andrew’s characters are very real and believable.  In “EVEN” (as in getting…) Trevellyan, a seasoned operative for the British government finds himself  in the crosshairs of the NYPD and the Feebs. He is their prime suspect in a murder.  There is a sadistic, female villain that will give me nightmares for weeks.

This story is brilliantly plotted with lots of twists and turns and I look forward to reading more of Grant’s work.  I highly recommend it.

 

 

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Don’t Miss It!!  MONTHLY INTERVIEWS with other best-selling AUTHORS! 

I have had a wonderful response from authors and will feature an interview once a month . I have invited such luminaries as: Ann Purser, Susan Elia MacNealMark Childress, Rhys Bowen, Dean Koontz, Sheryl Woods, Jo-Ann Mapson, Jeffrey Deaver, Elizabeth Gilbert, Amber Winckler, Robert McCammon, Sue Grafton, Walter Mosley, Nora Roberts, Tasha Alexander, Andrew Grant, and many others.

So come along with me; we shall sneak into these writers’ special places, be a fly on the wall and watch them create!  Mark Childress is our April author.  Robert McCammon is scheduled for May. Caroline Leavitt is June‘s author.  July features Rhys Bowen.  Sue Grafton is August’s author and September will feature Tasha Alexander. Slick mystery writer, Andrew Grant will join us this winter. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

To receive my posts sign up for my blog, blogs, blogger, writer, author, playwright, books, plays,fiction  Go to the home page; On the right side you’ll see a box where you can enter your email address. Click on “join my blog”. You need to confirm in an email from ‘Writer at Play’ . Thanks!

‘If you hope to be any good, nothing you write…….’

Lillian Hellman, authors, famous quotes, writers,            Lillian Hellman (left) 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.

As some of my readers know (and I hope have enjoyed) my novel has been serialized here on my site.
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.  Shortly after he was paroled, Women Outside the Wallsher 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 and 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 did happen to Hattie?

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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The next segment of the novel will appear tomorrow. Hope you’ll return to find out what happens next.

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Start your month off right!! DON’T MISS UPCOMING BLOGS. INTERVIEWS with other best-selling AUTHORS!      A NEW SERIES, “The Writer’s Corner”

I have had a wonderful response from other authors and plan on featuring an interview once a month . I have invited such luminaries as: Ann Purser, Susan Elia MacNeal, Maya Angelou, Mark Childress, Rhys Bowen, Dean Koontz, Sheryl Woods, Jo-Ann Mapson, Jeffrey Deaver, Elizabeth Gilbert, Amber Winckler, Robert McCammon, Walter Mosley, Nora Roberts, and many others.

So come along with me; we shall sneak into these writers’ special places, be a fly on the wall and watch them create!  Mark Childress is our April author.  Robert McCammon is scheduled for May. Caroline Leavitt is June‘s author.  July features Rhys Bowen.  Sue Grafton is August’s author and September will feature Tasha Alexander.
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To receive my posts sign up for my blog, blogs, blogger, writer, author, playwright, books, plays,fiction  Go to the home page; On the right side you’ll see a box where you can enter your email address. Click on “join my blog”. You need to confirm in an email from ‘Writer at Play’ . Thanks!

So how Do You Avoid Ending up in the Slush Pile?

In part one of this expose’ (Blog February 26th)  I talked about insider facts of the publishing housespublishers, writers, authors,

Now for the solution:

Five years ago if you had decided that whatever it took, your book must be shared with the world you were looking at a $15,000 to $30,000 investment in printing, storage, and marketing.  Then it was up to you to schlep your books from city to city, state to state because there was no one else to do it.  And most times because this would be a gargantuan task, your books would, for the most part, expire in a storage unit somewhere.

As an example, I wrote a stage play (documentary) back in 1996.  I tried everything to get “Cook County Justice”  published.  IT WAS IMPORTANT!  The true story of a man, at age seventeen, falsely accused of murder and sent to prison for life.  When I began the story/script he had been in prison 45+ years.  A model inmate, and even with the sentence of life with possibility of parole as part of the deal, they would not let innocent men, felons, prison,injustice,freedom,self publishing,him go.

Admittedly there are things wrong with my script….starting with a cast of fourteen men.  Where are you going to be able to cast fourteen men in a play.  My fellow directors and producers are silently laughing  at me right now.  But, surprisingly it has been produced a few times to rave reviews.

So this play has languished for twelve years until self-publishing and ‘print on demand’ came in to being. (more about that later ).

Another story that had to be told was of the women who lead normal lives; married, employed and raising children.  Until that day when their oh-so-normal husbands take a wrong turn.  It might be a disagreement over a football game at the local sports bar that turns deadly.  Or driving a family member to the corner store for a pack of cigarettes.  Or wrong time, wrong place where there are drugs present.  It happens to decent men every day.

I was compelled to write about these women. Many years ago I wrote a full length play about this; women who find their lives torn apart when their husbands are sent to prison.  For those of you who don’t know the restrictions of play writing:  the writer must crammed the story into 100 pages; have one or two set changes, and a manageable sized cast.   Over the years people had begged me to tell the rest of their stories; a novel would have none of these time or place restraints.

And that is how “Women women's fiction, prison, love, family, writing,Outside the Walls” was created.  No traditional publishing house would touch it and those that would accept an unsolicited submission immediately plopped it in their ‘slush pile’.   I have a three-inch thick folder of ‘rejection‘ letters to prove it.

Not so many years ago the term ‘self-published’ was a dirty word.  They were called ‘vanity books’; published by the author because they weren’t good enough for a real publisher to accept.

That has all changed!  ‘Self-publishing’ has become so respectable that the publishing houses are actually considering offering an independent publishing option within their companies.

With most Self-Publishing Platforms you are also given DISTRIBUTION.  This, of course, is almost as important as your book being published.  My books and scripts are on amazon.com around the world.  They are sold at Barnes & Noble and on all the on-line sites selling books.

My books are in local book stores and my friends at Drama Book Shop in New York carry most of my scripts.
This has been such a successful solution for me that I no longer pursue a traditional publisher for my books and scripts.
PS.  Hey!  What about a literary agent, Trish? 
Can’t they get you published?  The answer is ‘yes’.  But for 16 years I have tried to get an agent to represent me.  If you’re not published, no agent, if you don’t have an agent, no publisher.  I got off that merry-go-round. …..I’m just saying…
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Start your month off right!! DON’T MISS UPCOMING BLOGS.  The NEW SERIES, “The Writer’s Corner” INTERVIEWS with other  best-selling AUTHORS!

I have had a wonderful response from other authors and plan on featuring an interview once a month .  I have invited such luminaries as:  Ann Purser, Susan Elia MacNeal, Mark Childress, Robert McCammon, Rhys Bowen,Dean Koontz, Sheryl Woods, Jo-Ann Mapson, Elizabeth Gilbert, Walter Mosley, Nora Roberts, Jeffrey Deaver and many others.

So come along with me; we shall sneak into these writers’ special places, be a fly on the wall and watch them create!
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To receive my posts sign up for my blog, blogs, blogger, writer, author, playwright, books, plays,fiction Go to the home page; On the right side you’ll see a box where you can enter your email address. Click on “join my blog”.  You need to confirm in an email from ‘Writer at Play’ .  Thanks!

What does it look like? From ‘no book’ to ‘finished book’?

books, authors, book stores, women writers,Recently a fellow writer and friend asked me this question:  “What does the process of going from “nowriting, blog, authors, create book” to “finished book” look like?”  In the new series, “The Writer’s Corner” it seems to be each featured author’s favorite question.  Having also completed a novel (“Women Outside the Walls”)  I’d like to add my two cents:

I used my play script (by the same name) as my book outline/treatment.  As the scenario was so current (because it was a play), I found that flashbacks were a great way to flesh out each woman’s story and it served me well.

It took me a year and four months to write and edit it. That equals 72,000 words.

I did not have a deadline and it probably would have really helped. I was my own deadline setter and that didn’t work out so well. On the other hand, I think having a publisher breathing down my neck would have stifled my creative flow.  When life got in the way I wouldn’t work on it for weeks but then I would get inspired and work on it for days, weeks, non-stop, sometimes 10-14 hours a day. So I guess it all evened out.  Whatever you do, don’t beat yourself up if you don’t write for a few days….you’ll make up for it with better, more relaxed creative writing.

Because I inherently ‘rush’, I found that I had to watch-dog myself and be careful not to leave out important roads of the story. I was in early proofing of the final product of my novel and realized (in a countless re-read) that I had never described my female negotiator’s physical appearance. (Yikes!).  Again, (if the writer tends to rush) go back and re-read your work to see where you need to flesh out a chapter or a character.

I am not structured at all. I write a new project in my head for days, weeks and then when my brain is about to burst I begin putting it down on paper. I also write out of sequence and I think that’s okay. My novel’s last chapter was completed months before the middle was written.

Some writers have actually written whole books while blogging; they found it less daunting by writing in segments. At the end they had a book and then they published.  If you need a deadline the days that you commit to writing a blog would serve.  For me this wouldn’t work;  I would feel too exposed having my rough draft out there for the world to see as I am a writer who slams it down the first time around and then edit, edit, delete, edit.  Did I mention that the lettering is worn off my ‘delete’ key?

Frequently I will begin a story that has inspired me, not knowing much about the subject. It has sometimes stopped me dead in my tracks while I researched (example: hostage negotiations).   I had 8 pages of a new play about Winston Churchill written and  had to stop to do research. I find that it can be done while I am writing and that is what I prefer. It’s more fun and keeps me interested. I don’t think I would do well having my research all done before I put my story down. I find that the research itself inspires my story line.

And then there is that unseen, unheard phenomenon where, with any luck, the characters take over and you become the typist. (check out Jan.3rd blog) .  This has happened to me time and again, and while I resisted at first (being a control-freak) I now embrace and welcome it.  In Women Outside the Walls my character Alma, at sixteen, is abandoned by her promiscuous mother.  Alma is befriended by the ex-girl friend of the man Alma had a teen crush on.  They end up being room mates.  I could never have dreamed that one up;  but my characters got together and decided that this was what they would to do.

I don’t think that there is a right or wrong way to go through the process. Each writer should be unique in how they work. Instead of thinking of it as a project/deadline ‘thing’; think of it as a work of art, created just for you and by you. Where possible, let the characters lead you. They will never steer you wrong!

well, there you have it…the process such as it is and how it works for me.

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Start your month off right!! DON’T MISS UPCOMING BLOGS. A NEW SERIES, “The Writer’s Corner” INTERVIEWS with other  best selling AUTHORS!

I have had a wonderful response from other authors and plan on featuring an interview at least once a month .  I have invited such luminaries as:  Anne Purser, Dean Koontz, Sheryl Woods, Tasha Alexander, Jo-Ann Mapson, Jeffrey Deaver, Elizabeth Gilbert, Walter Mosley, Nora Roberts, and many others.

So come along with me; we shall sneak into these writers’ special places, be a fly on the wall and watch them create!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

To receive my posts sign up for my blog.  Go to the home page; On the right side you’ll see a box where you can enter your email address. Click on “join myblog, blogs, blogger, writer, author, playwright, books, plays,fiction blog”. Be certain to confirm when you get an email from ‘Writer at Play’ .  Thanks!