Well, reasons to come to the James River Writers Conference in October.
I keep hearing more and more people talk about they’ve been thinking about writing or they have thought about writing. Or variations along that theme.
Literally Everywhere I go, there are people talking about writing.
In all it’s forms.
If you - or Anyone you know - has expressed those sentiments, thoughts, or dreams, Or anything of the sort. Or near it.
Now would be the time to have them sign up for the 2014 James River Writers Conference
Why, you say, the James River Writers Conference - So Glad you asked!
There’s the Friday Master Classes -
Where you can learn from agents, and writers, and ….
Hugh Howey !!
Yes - you read that correctly ---- The Hugh Howey !
If you are still scratching your eyebrow then just google him
- and check him out on the JRW site
To give you brief teaser of why you should google …..
He self published and went on to make Big deal with publisher.
Yeah, thought you’d want to google him.
Just as I am Sure you are going to want to some see him and hear him at the JRW Conference.
And even check out the Master Class he’s doing for the Conference on Friday.
At the Conference you can Meet Hugh, and have one-on-one talk with Literary Agents !
No matter where you are in the writing journey, even if you are just thinking about it, the Conference will have something for you.
Working on your writing, whether characters, pacing, etc….
Thinking about self publishing and if that’s going to be right for you.
How to get yourself noticed and build a platform.
Need some help with query letters and pitching?
Or even want all the above.
You’ll find it all at the JRW Conference.
A Whole Lot More.
So check it out. Registration is open now.
So, I’ve been tapped.
For those not knowing about this — I admit, I’ve been focused…. Okay, so Trying to focus on getting the current book I’m working on actually done. You know, quasi finished.
So I’ve not been keeping up with blogs and all - sorry.
There’s a lot of things I’ve not been keeping up with, but we’ll not go into that part.
Anyway, when a friend asked if I would do this blog tour thing for a friend of his….. Well, this is a person that is hard to say no to.
Then I got up the next morning and realized what I’d agreed to. [Talk about shades of the late writer Emyl Jenkins who could do this in spades.]
Like everyone these days, especially writers trying to actually write and, well, live at the same time, I have a lot going on in my life. So there was probably a lot of mental arm flinging involved. Literal arms were too busy typing up notes on all stuff I’m supposed to be working on. Except for the actual book I’m supposed to be actually working on… hmmm….
Then as I was thinking of three writers I was supposed to tag to take this on, I looked around my circle of writers. Many of them had already been tapped for this, but the really great thing about being a part of a great writing community - James River Writers, in case you aren’t a part of it yet - is that I have contact with a whole bunch of writers.
So I got to thinking about some of the writers I know, and since this is not exact questions we ever talk about, I got to thinking about some of the ones that I would really like to know the answers to these questions.
And so here I am.
The person who tagged me is : Libby.
Be sure to check out her answers to the questions over at her blog. www.subourbonmom.wordpress.com
And you Know that’s what we like to do, right? Check out what other writers say about how they write, and what works for them, so we can see if we can find better ways to handle it all.
Like I said, great thing about being part of James River Writers, you get to meet a lot of writers.
So, now, on to the questions everyone answers:
Answer the 4 questions below about your writing process. (I didn't choose these questions!)
1) What am I working on?
I am currently trying to finish a YA (young adult) novel about a girl named Kelpie struggling with the aftermath of Celtic legend’s clash with strong southern women, and facing the past secrets that those southern women carry around in their lilting accents.
I read eclectically, and usually am reading more than one book at a time. Apparently that’s how my mind wants to write too, since I’m constantly fending off characters and conversations from other books that are sitting in my file folders in various stages of ‘dress’ and ‘undress.’
So the other book I’ve been trying not to work on at the same time is a commercial fiction novel, that I’ve titled “Running with Fire” about a woman dealing with her health and her marriage reaching the end, having to make a trip back home to settle her past after the death of her parent, and being shocked at what she finds.
2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
The biggest way I can think of is that it is written in my unique voice. We all have a unique voice as writers, although I’ve heard of some teachers and other writers wanting to change and ‘helpfully’ mold other’s into images of their voice. I have worked hard and waited until I felt comfortable in my own voice to begin to put my writing out beyond my own computer.
Like this great Neil Gaiman quote says -
Start telling the stories that only you can tell, because there’ll always be better writers than you and there’ll always be smarter writers than you. There will always be people who are much better at doing this or doing that — but you are the only you. ― Neil Gaiman
3) Why do I write what I do?
Short answer: self-preservation and sanity.
My stories just pop up in all kinds of weird ways and places. Characters show up and want to natter on and on about their stories. Often it feels like I’ve been dropped into a viewer port into someone else’s life. Although, I’ve also had them show up and not want to talk, just hanging and lurking around all mysterious like. They just seem to want me to somehow write it out They don’t give me a category or genre or anything. I don’t really like those characters.
So really to me, the question is Why I write at all. And I have heard a few writers say it better, like author Kyle Mills at the 2007 James River Writers Conference, and I don’t have the words exact but basically it’s that you Have to write for some reason it’s hard for even you to fathom. If you could do something else and not write, it’s much easier.
Something along the lines of this quote -
Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout with some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand. — George Orwell
Enough said on this?
4) How does my writing process work?
I have a process?
Yes, of course I have a process. I really should. I know I should. Of course, phhhffft, shoot yeah, I have a process. Of course.
Uhm. Well. Right now I have a process that involves a lot of mental arm flinging, and physical word flinging every chance I get.
Does that count?
Really, I seem to have thoughts about stories and characters almost always rolling around in my head. So I always try to keep some kind of documenting instrument around to use - phone, computer, pen, some scrap of paper, to jot them down before they get trampled under by the other thoughts and story ideas rampaging around.
Scrivener Software has Really helped me a Lot! It helps my ‘process’ tremendously!
It helps me keep my thoughts and stories and ideas at least somewhat organized.
I can jot down any thoughts and ideas that come to me and put in the files and folders where they belong. Or where they seem to belong at the time.
I don’t write in a linear fashion to start with, and I’m a very visual writer. The thoughts and ideas are like in snippets of film segments that I have to try to describe and bring into form with the best words I can. With Scrivener I’m able to put all this in a place where I can go into to work on the detail, and I can look at them as a whole and move them around if they came to me out of sequence.
Yeah, still working on making the characters do that nicely.
I work on writing as I can. When I’m not able to sit and type things into Scrivener, and when I am in lull times of being out doing other things, I am thinking and plotting and coming up with more details and facets on the story and characters I am working on.
Okay, so that’s my process I guess. Needs more tweaking?
Well, while I’m dong that, and trying to get back to work writing with Kelpie and her problems, be sure to check out the answers of the writers that will be posting next week on April 14th.
J. T. Glover has published short fiction in Fungi, Handsome Devil: Stories of Sin and Seduction, and Underground Voices, among other venues, and he has a co-written story, "Pale Apostle," forthcoming this summer in The Children of Old Leech. He is currently shopping one novel to agents and drafting another. In 2014 he joined the Board of Directors of James River Writers. Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, he lives in Richmond, Virginia with his wife and a not inconsiderable number of fur-bearing friends. By day he is an academic research librarian specializing in the humanities. You can find him online at http://www.jtglover.com, where he blogs about reading, writing, publishing, libraries, and everything in between.
Bill Blume discovered his love for the written word while in high school and has been writing ever since. His debut novel Gidion's Hunt (originally titled Tales of a 10th Grade Vampire Hunter) was published this past August by Fable Press. His short stories have been in many fantasy anthologies and various ezines. Just like the father figure in his first novel, Bill works as a 911 dispatcher for Henrico County Police and has done so for more than a decade. He also served as the 2013 chair for James River Writers in Richmond, which produces one of the nation’s best annual conferences for educating and connecting writers. You can learn more about Bill and his stories by visiting his website: www,billblume.net.
Check out his answers on his blog: http://billblume.wordpress.com/
Cynthia Price has been telling stories her whole life. She started off as a newspaper reporter and then turned her focus to media and public relations and strategic communications. She writes a blog called Cynthia's Communique: http://cynthiapricecommunique.com/ abou
She is active in communications groups and enjoys mentoring young people as they launch their careers. She's also an avid traveler/explorer of the world and is currently on a quest to visit all 50 states.
I’ve been a part of, and a long time volunteer with, James River Writers for years.
This is why we’ve chosen to be a part of James River Writers for so long.
this great video taken at the wonderful 2013 James River Writers Conference shows why
We’d welcome you to be a part too!!!
Come find a place where you belong.
There’s always room for you.
So. Does Absence Really make the heart grow fonder?
You must be Really fond of me by now.
I do have a whole lot of reasons for being ‘gone’ from here. I really was gone from here with family emergencies and things that life throws at you that there’s no choice but take care of.
But life goes on, doesn’t it.
So. Anyway. I will try to do this better. Especially given the Social Media class we recently spur-of-moment attended. — More on that later.
But I am, like most writers I know, trying desperately to get the book I am working on Finished.
Well, as I keep telling some other writer friends, give up on waiting until you get it perfect, it’s never going to happen. You are constantly growing as a writer - at least I sure hope you are!
So get it as good as you can today. As good as you can, at this moment, make it.
Everyone is stretched in so many different directions these days. As a writer trying to write, And do social media things, puts even more tasking on us and our time.
Maybe even on our words?
Does anyone else feel like that?
That you’ve used up all your words either in writing on your manuscript or on your social media stuff.
I was going to name this post something simple - I admit it - bland.
Social Media and Writers
But somehow the title just came out.
Drowning in Social Media Or Really, the Freaking Thing Stole all my Words
Maybe it’s just all the other life stresses but felt like there were only so many words crammed in my head and, well, once I had used them, nothing was left over for anything else. I had to choose.
Which makes me think of a great tweet I saw -
@janetzipper: What you choose to do everyday will either move you forward or keep you where you are. #motivate #success
So today I moved forward a little. I think. But then I haven’t written anything on my book today either.
How ‘bout you?
Any tips on how you balance it all? How you manage to move forward?
So, as I was ‘writing’ recently. Yeah, so I was ‘preparing’ to write. Okay, I guess I was procrastinating.
We call it many things, don’t we? Research. Thinking. Although, sometimes it really is research, and thinking, mulling, story lines and characters. And it’s all legit and all. Other times, we know it’s more of avoidance of the blank page. Never does blankness hold such nervousness, or downright terror, than a writer facing a blank page. And feeling like you have a blank mind to go with it. Or is it worse to have an overfull mind teeming with all sorts of things and having difficulty getting them all down on that page in a way that constitutes not just a story, but a good one.
Since we all want to be good writers, right?
So as I was looking at things to make me a better writer I came across this on writers procrastinating.
Of course I had to read it. Research, you know.
Forced into a challenge we're not prepared for, we often engage 'self-handicapping': deliberately doing things that set us up for failure.
……..Whether you are more fixed or more of a grower helps determine how you react to anything that tests your intellectual abilities. For growth people, challenges are an opportunity to deepen their talents, but for “fixed” people, they are just a dipstick that measures how high your ability level is. Finding out that you’re not as good as you thought is not an opportunity to improve; it’s a signal that you should maybe look into a less demanding career, like mopping floors………..
In reading the article I found some people I have met and know.
I’ve actually heard someone say they had trouble writing because they felt like an impostor.
I haven’t heard them talk about writing anything in a long time. Sad really, since they had gotten quite good.
The fear of being unmasked as the incompetent you 'really' are is so common that it actually has a clinical name: impostor syndrome.
This fear of being unmasked as the incompetent you “really” are is so common that it actually has a clinical name: impostor syndrome. A shocking number of successful people (particularly women), believe that they haven’t really earned their spots, and are at risk of being unmasked as frauds at any moment. Many people deliberately seek out easy tests where they can shine, rather than tackling harder material that isn’t as comfortable……
I’ve heard even some very driven seeming authors talk about their procrastination, and after reading this article wonder if this is what applies -
[Bolding / highlighting is mine]
…..“Work finally begins,” says Alain de Botton, “when the fear of doing nothing exceeds the fear of doing it badly.” For people with an extremely fixed mind-set, that tipping point quite often never happens. They fear nothing so much as finding out that they never had what it takes. …..
I Really liked this part -
All the highlight bolding is mine, since I think it is true that we, perhaps, have a whole different view of other writers. Perhaps a bit of an unrealistic skewed one. Especially the very published ones that we would like to join the ranks of.
And this is hard to consider when we are in the midst of our own struggles with words and characters and plot lines and all.
…..Students are rarely encouraged to peek at early drafts of those works. All they see is the final product, lovingly polished by both writer and editor to a very high shine. When the teacher asks “What is the author saying here?” no one ever suggests that the answer might be “He didn’t quite know” or “That sentence was part of a key scene in an earlier draft, and he forgot to take it out in revision.” …..
So this part is very helpful to remember -
Again, bold highlighting is mine. Because I probably do fall into this.
……“You never see the mistakes, or the struggle,” says Dweck. No wonder students get the idea that being a good writer is defined by not writing bad stuff.
Unfortunately, in your own work, you are confronted with every clunky paragraph, every labored metaphor and unending story that refuses to come to a point. “The reason we struggle with"insecurity,” says Pastor Steven Furtick, “is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” …….
Boy, does this make sense! Right?
I won’t say I resemble any of this, but I’ll just say I recognized some people I know.
Maybe some more than others.
You might find some too, so if you want to read the whole thing rather than just the few excerpts here’s the link
Do you see anyone you know here?
Do you see yourself here?
Let me know and maybe we can help each other.
I thought everyone read different books for different reasons.
I’ve heard some people read Only one genre, Only one author, Only… well, I’ll just put …etc…
I was recently asked questions that I didn’t have answers to. Or good answers.
I don’t have a Favorite author. I know a lot of great writers so I have lots of favorites. *Grin*
I pick up a book for many different reasons.
Sometimes I want to be entertained, so I want something fun and ‘ligtht.’
Sometimes it’s I want to see an author’s writing, or their take on their subject, or how well they do with it.
There’s research reasons to pick up a book, all kinds, from wanting to know about something for curiosity reasons, to research for writing projects, or interviews, or…. Well, like I said, Lot of different reasons to read, a Lot of different books.
Come on, at some point doesn’t the pressure of the buzz of the new ‘it’ book ‘everyone’ is talking about make you curious about it?
I’m an eclectic reader.
There are some books I really like. For different reasons, of course. Some I’m not sure exactly why. I haven’t bothered to sit and even articulate it to myself.
I will at some point need to reread them to see if they are still going to be a fave.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts here -
Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reason Why is a book I think Everyone should read. If you read it come talk to me. It’s …well, I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone. So just read it. And we’ll talk.
I like Steve Berry’s novels for his what if takes on history. And his research and taking us ‘traveling with him.’
As a writer, if you get a chance to take his workshop he gives, especially if his wife is giving her session too - DO IT!
I like Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden novels for his … well, there are several reasons to like his books. One of the things I admire, is you can pick them up anywhere in the series and you aren’t lost, you can enjoy reading the book even if you weren’t a part of it from the beginning.
You might not enjoy as much, maybe. If so, I recommend starting with #12 Changes.
Very action packed. And makes you want to know more about these characters.
So I went back to the beginning, after reading the later most recent books, and got a whole different appreciation for the characters and his development of them and all their relationships with each other than I would have otherwise.
As a writer, I can admire all the clues and setups he did back in the previous books.
Plus I hear he, and his wife, are really nice people.
I am still working my way through Patricia McKillip books for her wonderful descriptive writing.
I have bought all I have been able to get my hands on, and can stuff on my book shelves.
From what I’ve read, I will always make room for them somewhere.
I’m not sure all the reasons I exactly liked The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, Alison Anderson but I did.
So if you know why, let me know.
As mentioned in previous post, a recent favorite book is Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson
It’s also has become a favorite of my husband, and he hasn’t even finished reading it.
We checked it out from library - Thank You Public Libraries!
He even thinks we should buy it. For those of you who know him, you Know what a Big recommendation that is!
So we will be buying it. For many reasons. It’s a compelling story. Even though it’s in some ways a quiet type story. It keeps you turning pages wanting to find out what happens.
But also, from a writer’s perspective, this book has Wonderful descriptions but she makes them do several different things, so the writing is not overtaken and bogged down by all the descriptions. Multi-layered nuances.
As my husband put it, this book is a great example of How to Show instead of just telling. The bane of writers everywhere.
So that’s my suggestion if you want to read a good book, and as a writer get some ideas of nuanced descriptive writing.
So, what are the books you like to read / are reading? And why?
Yeah, yeah. What blog. Certainly not what most would consider this broken down abandoned-lookng……. Well, I’m sure you get it….
So I’ll take the writer’s advice of ‘Don’t dumb down your reader” ….
If there are any left….
Ok, so now that’s done I can dust my hands off and continue.
I will Try to do better with this. Yeah, yeah, heard it before. Well, I have lots of reasons, even some excuses I can dredge up I’m sure - more than enough to want to read. I’ll just say that last year was rather a fast moving blur. Especially the last half. And don’t even talk about the holidays that tinsel wrapped itself around all my time and dragged me out. We didn’t even get decorations up on the tree!!!! Luckily it is one of those pre-lighted ones.
Really, if not for notations all over our calendars I’m not sure what I would remember of last year. Not that last year was bad necessarily just really, really busy. Makes me tired now just thinking about it.
Course that could be helped along by All the COLD and SNOW we’ve been having.
Okay, Okay, I might just be a smidge grumpy. And tired. Did I mention that?
I am thankful that the electricity hasn’t gone off with all this snow and mess. Not like inexplicable times before that!
So at least I’m not grumpy And cold right now.
Hey, things to be thankful for.
Another thing to be thankful for …. Altho’ come to think of it I think I Still haven’t caught up on sleep and not being tired…. I did get a bad cold …okay, I don’t remember how long ago it was, a few weeks. I think. That’s a blur too. Not because of medications, but because I couldn’t sleep and breathe at same time. So I chose to breathe. I like to breathe you know. So there I am sitting bleary eyed and trying to breathe a lot. Of course I turned to my book piles. It’s a great thing you know. Of course not as great as when you aren’t sick and bleary eyed and trying to breathe a lot. But helps take you mind off such things anyway.
I read some good books, some not so good -will-never-read-again ones, and some middling books, or ones that just don’t stand out as being really good, or really bad. Is that a good thing or not?
One of the ones on the good side .. Or I guess I should say, some of the books on the good side is by Florence King, [another Virginian!], since I read and am reading a few of her books.
I enjoyed the humor so much in her When Sisterhood Was in Flower that I am rereading it in her book The Florence King Reader. Which has a few of her stories in it. I had read ‘Flower’ as a stand-alone book but since it’s in the ‘Reader’ book too, can’t help myself from reading it again.
This helps explain why a little… but not even by half.
Briefly this scene - is preparation of 2 opposite ‘room’ mates - yeah, you must read how That happens. And one cat, named by ex-boyfriend…. :::snicker::: ….. moving…
“A few minutes later, or so it seemed, the alarm went off and it was time to get up. I lurched like a beached seal and tried not to throw up; this was what Polly meant by “getting an early start.” The room was pitch black. For a moment I thought I had gone blind from shock, but then Polly switched on her light, swept back her blanket with a d’ Artagnan flourish, and rose.
Or she tried to. Quadrupet was slung across her neck like a hairy albatross, determined to thwart what he knew was to be a violent uprooting. She tried to push him away but he rolled over on her face and tried to smother her. I waited hopefully, listening to the struggle.”
And you’ll have to read the book for the the rest of it. Who survives, etc…. *Grin*
Trust me. You’ll want to read it. If you like to smile at all you will. Which with the winter weather we’ve been having, don’t you want to?
By the way, writers might want to check out the book for her comments on editing her stories before they were republished here. Even though she was considered a careful and tight writer when she first published them.
A book I read and still sticks with me, not for humor so much as ….well, I’m still thinking on that….
Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan
But my fave book I’ve read ‘recently’ is Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson
It does have humor. A more ‘quiet’ humor than Florence King’s perhaps. But it’s there. As a writer though, the descriptions she uses……
Even my husband likes the book and says we should buy it. For those who know my husband is there any higher praise?
For those that don’t know him, he is Great, but he thinks I have too many books. Course he does have tendency to mingle his books into my stacks somehow. Or is that me reading some of the ones he bought? …. I do agree that We do need to go thro’ and decide on books….. Which means I need to read more!!!!
Alas, not today. That ‘free’ time has gone to the making of this blog post.
I shall now drag myself on to doing other needed things.
Oh, and if you want me to follow you back on Twitter, do Not post about sitting out enjoying the warm sun and weather, writing. No, I will not follow you back today. Maybe on Thursday when we’re supposed to get warmer temperatures.
A good story, no matter what form it takes,
will touch our hearts, our minds, and our emotions.
A good story reminds us of our humanity
and yet invites to rise above it.
We are a humanity linked by stories.
Stories of all kinds and all types feed into our psyche from all cultures,
binding us into one humanity.
Storytelling seems to have existed in some form or another since the dawn of time,
helped in part, until most recent times, by the immortal words, “Tell me a story.”
Does any child, or anyone for that matter, utter those words anymore?
Are we the poorer for it?
We are a varied collection of experiences
held together by memory and stories.
When we stop being part of the memories and the stories,
is that when we stop existing?
Take a Step from your fear
Come out from your fear,
Make that one small step that starts.
It’s all right if it’s a stumbling one
As when you started as a child
The walking gets easier
And just as then, there can be tumbles.
But you didn’t stop there either
Regardless of what others were doing
Even if then they were encouraging
And now they aren’t
You still kept on
Perhaps we are always still keeping on
Walking step by step
If not away from our fears
Then away from the hold on us
That keep us locked away
From all that we really want
Do we see ourselves in others,
In their fears for themselves?
The beauty that only sees herself as not,
not like whatever the current flavor.
Or the talent that crumbles from low self-worth.
And walks over dreams that were once shiny and bright.
Are these reflections?
Mirrors reflecting back what we see in ourselves?
Can we change what we see in those reflections?
Maybe if we have the right people.
Come give it a try.
Take that step.
That step toward a dream.
There are others here too.
Are you ready fly?
To take the first jump
And give your wings a try.
They get stronger with use.
If you are a writer. You want to be a writer. No matter what kind. I bet we have something for you.
Or even if you’re a graphic artist. We have someone for you!
Are you just a reader? We have Lots of someones for you!
Whether you want to meet a much liked author. Or discover some new ones.
Come check out the James River Writers Conference this weekend.
You can even get a one day ticket if that fits you better.
But I wouldn’t be surprised if the two days fit just fine.
And you’ll meet a lot of fine people who can reflect back whatever you want.
Here’s a link for conference registration
You Gotta HURRY tho' - the Great Workshops are tomorrow! Some you still might be able to go to.
And the Conference is THIS Saturday, and Sunday.
The Conference is Coming!! The Conference is Coming!!!
Okay, so I’m not Paul Revere.
No, not that either.
But wanted to warn you, not that the British are coming, we don’t have any of those this year. That I know of.
But we do have someone that grew up in New Zealand.
Not exactly British, but there is a British connection there. ;)
No, I am not going to tell you. You should come to the Conference and figure it out.
The Conference is coming!
We Kick off with some GREAT Workshops on Friday. THIS Friday!
In case you missed that.
Let’s see, since today is Wednesday, depending on when you read this - and if you read later then you better move Quickly, Cause the Conference is Coming!
Which means the DAY After Tomorrow The Workshops are Coming!
Really Great Workshops!
And there still are some Openings! Only in a couple, but NO they are NOT the dreg leftovers!
The Workshops were SO popular they added space to include YOU!
No, I didn’t ask how they did that. Maybe had something to do with the British? Maybe not.
But you can still get in to Some Workshops! Great ones! I should know, I signed up for one of the ones still open. I jumped in quickly! I wanted to go to more. No one wants to clone me though. Sigh. But hopefully someone from each will share notes!
Here is a link for conference registration
And be sure to check out the Workshops that are still open!
And be sure to share your notes with me.
Cause The Conference is Coming!