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Friday, June 10, 2011

My Gratitude Journal: Teacher

As I work today, my thoughts turn to the writing teachers who have uplifted, supported and encouraged me, as well as teaching me and improving my craft with their fine editing skills.

I honor them all, from Mrs. Sellers in the fourth grade, who allowed me to write and produce a statehood pageant for the entire school community, to Mr. Jared Heywood at Holbrook High School, who gave me the run of the school newspaper and allowed all kinds of experimental efforts; from Eloise Bell, my undergraduate mentor at BYU, to Clark Brown who inspired me through grad school.

Among my favorite teachers are the writers whose work has inspired me. From best sellers to local and regional favorites, you're all favorites in my book (some of you quite literally).

So here's to great writing teachers. May you continue to lift and inspire.

Who is one of your favorite writing teachers? Share the story.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Karen Describes "Granny"

This week I've been focusing on description, so for my excerpt from a work in progress, I want to share some describing.

Here is how forty-something Karen describes the scene when she is summoned to the hospital to see her husband's grandmother. This paragraph comes from Chapter 1 of my manuscript, A CHRISTMAS RECIPE.

"I slid into the room at a half-run to find it already filling up with family members. Our daughter, Melissa, and her new husband, Jason, were seated next to Tom beside Granny’s bed, along with Ruby, Granny’s live-in attendant. Emily was there too, standing near them. Tom must have picked her up at the high school. He looked up as I came in. 'Karen’s here,' he said to Granny, and I got my first look at Adelaide as she turned her face toward me. Her skin was pallid gray, her eyes rheumy, her flesh wasted. She looked worse than I had ever seen in a living person. She and Ruby had joined us for dinner just last Sunday, and I marveled that so much had changed in a few short days, but her eyes still crinkled with warmth as she said, 'Well hello, Sweetheart. Good to see you.'"

Do you have a current work in progress? Share a one-sentence line of description together with one more sentence to set the scene.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

How Launch Day Feels

Yesterday, 7 June 2011, was launch day for POSSESSION, the debut novel for my friend, Elana Johnson. In her blog for yesterday, Elana captured perfectly the feelings that come with launching a novel, giving it up, and offering it to the public.

As another writing friend once said, "The good news is, your book has been published! It's out there. Anyone and everyone can read it! The bad news? Your book has been published. It's out there. Anyone and everyone can read it."

Um, yeah. Fans, friends, critics, potential haters . . . and your baby, your precious, beloved BOOK is out there among them all.

So how does it feel? Elana captured it well. For today's tips from the web I refer you to her blog. Find yesterday's entry, "In Which I Give You My Baby." Yep. Elana captures the feeling very well.

Congratulations, Elana. By the way, I'm still in the first chapter of POSSESSION (just got it this afternoon, after all), but I'm lovin' it so far. All the best!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

I Love Roses!

If you're thinking that doesn't exactly make me unique, I'm with you, but unique or not, I love roses!

When Hubby and I moved to our present home five years ago, I insisted on a rose garden -- not in the back where I'd keep it to myself, but in the front yard where I could share it with neighbors, friends, and even strangers who happened to pass by.

My roses have been an endless source of pleasure, both visually and through their rich and delightsome fragrance. As I write, I can see out my office window to a full palate of splendid pastel colors with a little hot red mixed in.

So here's to roses! May they, like our writers' imagination, bloom on and on.

What are a few of your favorite things? Share one?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Inside the Writer's (Crazy) Mind

It’s scary in there, but let’s take a quick look inside a writer’s mind. We will start with the recognition that writers, like psychopaths, follow the voices in their heads. That may be a slight exaggeration, but the fact is, no one can write something he or she hasn’t imagined and considered first.

The first steps in creating fiction (or any writing, for that matter) are all mental, and that means we “hear” the dialogue when our characters speak. So okay, we may all be a little crazy, but virtually all writers are used to hearing (and to some extent, obeying) those voices. If you don’t hear imaginary people speaking to you, rejoice! You don’t have to partake in the crazy, roller-coaster business of writing and publishing fiction.

Another trait we share with crazy people is that unfocused, far-off stare that means our bodies are present with you, but our writing minds have gone elsewhere. I well recall a day when my husband walked into our bedroom to find me lying flat on our bed, staring at the ceiling. He said, “What’s up?” I answered, “Shhh. I’m writing.” Thank goodness Hubby is also a writer. He got it, and quietly tiptoed out.

Whenever writers are interviewed by large audiences, one of the first questions is almost always, “Where do you get your ideas?” That’s a subject for another full blog (check it out next Monday!), but for now, let’s simplify the answer by saying most writers have no problem “getting” ideas. Our heads are absolutely full of them. The problem comes in narrowing them down to decide which will get our attention.

If you are a writer, it’s likely this will all sound familiar. If you know a writer, maybe it will help you to sympathize and not assume we’re all crazy. Then again, “crazy” may be a matter of definition. At least, that’s what the little voice in my head is saying.

Do you have an amusing story to share about the writing mind? Please respond write!