Writer’s Mail for October 20, 2010
by Pat Edwards
“When we read, we start at the beginning and continue until we reach the end. When we write, we start in the middle and fight our way out.” - Vickie Karp
Tuesday, October 19th at the Barnes and Noble
Kim shares a couple short chapters from her novel – Alicia liked it, but she would have liked the dream sequence without italics better. Jerry was bothered by the break between the chapters and suggested making two chapters into one. Pat likes short chapters, but these were really itty-bitty. Greg didn’t care about the chapter on reading lessons, which interrupts two others, the ones Jerry wants to go together. Alicia was confused between the uses of the word goddess and god. It’s hard to follow. Greg also thought one character was a little too boisterous (with an excess of exclamation points). Jerry and Pat thought the dialogue/accent of one character was overdone and hard to read.
Millie shares chapter 21 of her novel, “Life On Hold,” and a synopsis of the story. Pat really enjoyed all of Millie’s imagery, but she was concerned about the use of the MRI in that time period. The table seems to think they would have taken a regular x-ray of her head. Jerry thinks her main character needs to be more firm with her break-up speech. Kim suggests she might be afraid. Greg thought one character went from not being able to talk to being able to drive off in a short amount of time. We don’t miss how the ambulance got there because the story’s from one characters point of view and she’s knocked out for that. Greg thought the chapter ended with a cliffhanger. Jerry had a problem with the Emergency Room doc. He wasn’t out there and doesn’t know who’s connected to whom, so he won’t be able to tell someone their friend has passed away.
About the synopsis…Alicia is bothered that we still don’t know what the main character is facing and why she’s looking back over these years of her life. Why do we even need the older Erin at the beginning of each chapter? Millie tells us she’s reviewing her life and how she’s ended up where she is now. Alicia doesn’t think that’s enough. We’re all wondering what the connection is.
Jen shares Chapter 2 of her unnamed novel with us. Kim thinks there are too much italics and not enough description. Pat thinks the opposite, finding it lyrical and readable. Pat has a few questions but she’s enjoying the characters and the ritual of the story. Alicia likes the story, but also thinks it needs some embellishment. Pat likes the minimalism of the language. Alicia was also confused on who the narrator is in this chapter. Millie asks if this is all fantasy? The festival is based in reality. Jerry wanted to know what having shoes had to do with keeping the castle clean. It may be a custom, but it didn’t mesh with keeping the castle grounds clean for him. Jerry also didn’t like the expression of “quality time” used in this story.
Justin shares the beginning of his novel with the group. This story reminds Kim of a video game. Also, she remembers from personal experience that sound came back to her first before pain. Pat suggests looking at what might be out there in the way of coma research. Is waking up from a coma different than say, surgery? Pat likes the dialogue, but thinks he should watch his verb tense. Jerry was curious how a character got another’s personal property. Alicia wants more technical language. Greg thinks withholding the details about his research doesn’t do anything for the story, but Justin tells us that information appears in the prologue. Jerry can’t see the main character being so threatened by his rival if he’s so much brighter and capable. Alicia suggests the story needs to be in the first person. Chris wonders of there is going to be any romance.
Jerry shares two short chapters with us from, “Thou Shalt Not Murder.” Pat asked what time period this is again. Boots was I the title of the chapter but the Pilot only calls Garrison, Boots, once. Millie wondered who Bunch was. Alicia wondered about the father going and emptying a joint banking account without the widow signing anything. Greg wonders how everything is connected and why we’re interested in the daily workings of this lawyers life. Aaron felt the opposite; he liked getting caught up in the everyday life of the character instead of just jumping into the mystery. Alicia thought Garrison’s father would have to be prodded a bit about what happened while he was in the war. Greg looked for some catalyst to the conversation also. Alicia liked the setting of the law office in an old mansion.
Who’s up Next?
October 26: Terry Hoffman (The Journal), Holly Bonnicksen-Jones (Coming Up For Air), Jack Freiburger (Path To Bray’s Head), Dan Hamre, ?, Anne Allen (Homecoming), Jen Wilcher (new story).
November 2: Amber Boudreau (chapter 16, YA novel), John Schneller (chapter 2, Final Stronghold), Greg Spry (chapter, Beyond Cloud Nine), Randy Haselow (chapter, Hona and the Dragon), Jen Wilcher (???), and Judith McNeil (???).
November 9: Kim Simmons (City in Winter), Randy Haselow (Hona and the Dragon), Annie Potter (memoir), Carol Hornung (Sapphire Lodge), Sariah (possible new member). ROOM FOR ONE MORE!
November 16: Greg Spry (chapter, Beyond Cloud Nine), Pat Edwards (poems), and Chris Maxwell (rewrite, short story), Cathy Riddle (chapter, Beer Crimes), Aaron Boehm (Hell Cage), and Kim Simmons (chapter, ???)
When do you Write?
NaNoWriMo looming in a couple of weeks has me wondering, when will I find time to write over 1600 words a day, every day, for a month, so I can get done on time? When does anyone working full-time find time to write?
Stephanie Meyer, author of the Twilight series says, “not one day passed that I did not write something. On bad days, I would only type out a page or two; on good days, I would finish a chapter and then some. I mostly wrote at night, after the kids were asleep so that I could concentrate for longer than five minutes without being interrupted….. During the day, I couldn’t stay away from the computer, either. When I was stuck at [the kids’] swim lessons, out in 115 degrees of Phoenix sunshine, I would plot and scheme and come home with so much new stuff that I couldn’t type fast enough.”
Meyer started and finished her first novel while taking care of three children under the age of six. I noted two particular points she made in this interview: she found a time to write that worked for her and she put most of her effort toward her highest priority goal (after her children, that is).
While Stephanie Meyer wrote late at night, after her children were asleep, many other writers, like Leo Babauta, recommend writing early – even getting up as early as 4 a.m. in his blog post:
Why Write So Early?
Sure, it can be done at any time of day. For some people, noise is a welcome relief from the heavy silence. For others, the quiet of late night is preferred. I won’t argue with these people, as everyone has to find a writing time that works for them.
But here’s why “first thing in the morning” works for me (and that doesn’t have to be 4:00 a.m. — it can be whenever you awake):
It’s quiet. For me, that’s super important. There’s no better time than when the world is still asleep. Work hasn’t gotten in the way. By mid-morning or afternoon, a ton of stuff has come up that must be done now … pushing back the writing. First thing in the morning, nothing has come up to push back my writing. Life hasn’t gotten in the way. It’s not just work that pushes back writing, but everyday stuff, like errands and paying bills and parties and family and kids. If you wait until the evening to write, what happens when a social engagement comes up that evening? Writing gets postponed.
Go here for more from this author. http://writetodone.com/
Michael Stelzner blogs the following tips for Five Tips for Finding Writing Time:
#1 – Identify Your Productivity Zone
Figure out when you are most able to write. For me, it’s between 9am and 11am. You know you’re in the zone when you can crank out writing. When in the zone, I can easily write a few well-written pages of copy. When I’m out of the zone, I’m lucky to write a single paragraph all day. Find the zone and you’re on your way to more productive writing.
#2 – When in the Zone, ONLY Write
If you’re like me, you would rather respond to email or make phone calls when in the zone. Get in the habit of only writing when in your zone. I tell my clients that I write in the morning and take calls in the afternoon. They know not to call when I’m writing. Controlling the zone is a key to success.
#3 – How to Stay Focused on Writing
Despite your best efforts, you’ll get dragged out of the writing zone—often. To prevent this, you need a defensive plan. Here are some tactics:
Shut down your email. I often don’t read my email until the afternoon. Email is disruptive technology. By its very nature, email takes you off track.
Turn off your phones. If you sit at a desk with a business phone, press the “Do not disturb button.” Unplug the phone from the wall. Turn off your mobile phone while you’re at it.
Shut down the Internet. Quit your instant messenger application and your web browser. Better yet, do what I do. Go to the hub in your office and unplug your network connection. By eliminating the temptation to surf the web, you will be forced to write.
Shut the door. If you can, shut the door to your office and hang out a “Do not disturb” sign. If you work in a cubicle, have a neighbor deflect visitors to your space.
Use music. Put some classical or ambient music on. Not only does this help you focus, it also drowns out background noise. I have heard that some classical music actually stimulates creative brainwaves. I like Bach on my iPod.
#4 – How to Accomplish More Writing
I have two tips to share here:
Write free flow. This means just get the words down and worry about how they sound later. A great trick for me is to write with a pen and clipboard. You cannot erase ink. The result is you don’t worry about spelling and grammar, you just write.
Set easy to accomplish writing tasks. Make a goal of writing one page while in your productivity zone, or some other easy objective. If you’re writing a white paper, you could have it done in slightly more than a week by simply writing a page a day. It is much easier to write when you have a clear daily deliverable.
#5 – Reward Yourself for Getting Writing Done
When you meet your goals, reward yourself. A movie from Blockbuster, a new song from iTunes, a Starbucks drink or some other indulgence can help you feel good about getting writing done. Give yourself an incentive to write and you will write more.
This blogger can be found at http://www.copyblogger.com/
Time to Write AND be Productive
Productivity consultant, Mark Ellwood, recommends you not only make a to-do list when planning your day, but you make it differently than what you may normally do. Write your to-do list with an eye toward “what would you do to affect your results a month from now?” He claims this shift in focus will keep you from getting caught up in “urgent” matters that suck the time from the day. This method keeps your focus on what is really important to you. Watch his short YouTube video here.
More productivity hints can be found at http://getmoredone.com/
Jen found a free ebook about how to get through NaNoWriMo, NaNo for the New and Insane by Lazette Gifford. It also has some good general writing tips. Go to http://www.lazette.net/FreeStuff/NaNoBook.pdf
The Magic of Words
A.Word.A.Day with Anu Garg
nankeen or nankin
(nan-KEEN or nan-KIN)
1. A yellow or buff color.
2. A sturdy yellow or buff cotton fabric.
3. (nankeens) Trousers made of this cloth.
4. A Chinese porcelain having blue designs on a white background.
After Nanking, a city in China, where it was first made, now spelled as Nanjing. Nanjing is literally “southern capital”. Beijing means “northern capital”.
“A bright, laughing face … a traveling-dress of a nankeen color … such were the characteristics of our fair guest.” – Wilkie Collins; The Queen of Hearts: A Novel; BiblioLife; 2009.
BOOK REVIEW THE LION by NELSON DeMILLE
Submitted by: Millie Mader
In an attempt to introduce Asad Kahlil (Arabic for Lion), Nelson DeMille quotes an ancient Arab poem describing a murderous lone warrior: “Terrible he rode alone with his Yemen sword for aid; ornament, it carried none—but the notches on his blade.”
The first book, The Lion’s Game, was published in 2000, and became an instant best seller. In it we met the avenging, cruel terrorist, Asad Kahlil. His family was wiped out in the 1986 American bombing of Libya and Muammar Khadafi’s compound. Asad has sworn vengeance, and has trained for a journey to the United States under the tutelage of “Boris”, a former KGB agent. He is out to kill every airman who flew their F111 bombers over Libya that night—then President Reagan as well. He starts his rampage by snuffing out 175 American bound passengers and two FBI agents aboard a 747 flight from Europe. This horrendous act is accomplished through an ingenious method—the work of a psychopath. Stealth, hatred and lack of conscience are his tools—plus a plethora of fake ID’s and passports. This gripping tale is beyond terrorism and revenge. As a lion kills only when hungry, Asad puts his claws out at anyone who stands in his way.
Anti-Terrorist Task Force special agent, John Corey is a partially retired NYPD homicide detective. He is recruited for the ATTF at the recommendation of a former superior. He is our cunning protagonist, and is the first to board the ill-fated 747. The original book starts there. Intrigue and killings, some methodical and others unplanned, rip through the chapters. John Corey has a dry wit, and his unspoken thoughts provide respite from the horrors. His humor evokes many chuckles. The ATTF is actually a real organization called The Joint Terrorism Task Force. Although the books are fiction, they are based on fact.
Only one of the intended airmen is left at the end of the Lion’s Game, and Asad escapes. He vows to return. This time his ‘game’ is the remaining pilot and John Corey and his wife.
John Corey had been shot three times as an NYPD detective, and was bored with retirement. He accepted the contract work with the ATTF, and began a new existence. He worked with FBI and CIA agents as well as NYPD and NY/NJ Port Authority agents. He was quick to perceive CIA’s reluctance to share some of their information, and remained of the opinion that the NYPD are tops in police work of all kinds. In the sequel he is now in his fifties, three years after nine eleven. He has married his FBI agent partner. Kate is fifteen years younger than John, and he laughingly tells himself that she has proved to be his equal—even taking up his habit of drinks each evening and cussing. A knife wielding assault on Kate early on leaves John devastated, but resolute. It leads Asad to believe that he has killed Kate, and the media releases no information. Asad manages to steal her Glock and her cell phone, providing him with access to many contacts.
He proceeds with his deadly mission to torture and murder the remaining pilot—then even his old teacher, Boris. Many innocents fall along his trail of death. He will leave John Corey for his grand finale.
How he evades security, flying on only unsecured charter planes, and killing anyone who stands in his way, careens through dark, spine tingling chapters. His Al Quaeda backing becomes apparent, and he is propelled by hate. As he formats his plans, pride won’t let him believe that John Corey may have figured out some of his motives and moves.
Both adversaries match wits throughout this turbulent tale that is beyond terror. John Corey and The Lion each become both the hunter and the prey. The tale ends on an eerie midnight, in the bowels of the earth that had once supported the Twin Towers.
The Last Word“Advice to beginning SF writers? Write a lot, finish what you write, and when it’s done, keep sending it out for quite awhile.” - Rudy Rucker