Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Having trouble with a story element? Open your mind.
For several weeks a member of the Advanced Life Story Writing Group had been struggling with her stories. She felt they weren’t interesting, maybe even weren’t “stories.” Then last week she read a piece about an important event in her childhood. She had detail, a beginning, middle, and end. She had emotion and sensory detail. She had a theme that she carried throughout very nicely. Her listeners were enthralled.
After we had told her all the things we liked about the story, she was unresponsive. No comment. No smile. Finally, I said, “This is good. Your story was good. Why is this your response?”
Long silence. Finally, she said, “Huh.” Another long pause. “I’m just wondering how I can do that again.”
Of course, we all laughed because we have all had that same feeling. Something works. How did we do it?
Here’s what I think happened. Consciously, or unconsciously, she opened her mind. The story was written from a child’s viewpoint instead of from a proper, grammatically correct, composition conscious adult viewpoint. We were seeing events through the eyes of the child. She was right back there in her family home, seeing herself, seeing her brother, seeing household items and how they worked from a child’s perspective.
Don’t get me wrong here. The writing, spelling, punctuation, and grammar were all correct. But the explanation of events was through the sensibility of a child.
My advice to this writer was my favorite advice: try to go again to that place in your brain where you were when you wrote that. Or to put it my even more favorite way – Lose your mind and write as fast as you can.
WRITING PROMPTImagine you are your first grade teacher. Write about Little You. Imagine you are your brother or sister. Write about Little You. Imagine you are Little You. Write about your best friend. Open your mind. (See Quote.)
Friday, June 26, 2009
These Stella Dora lilies bloomed under the birch tree in my front yard, through no effort on my part. They appeared just weeks after we moved in six years ago. This year, with ample rain and cool weather, they have spread and blossomed even more. How do they look? Good, huh? I am a great gardener. Perhaps even a genius.
Copyright 2009 Carol Newman
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Can it already be three months since my gentleman friend and I took a few days away to La Jolla Cove, just north of San Diego? This little guy must have felt the same urge to get away from it all because he was working his way away from the ocean and up the people steps to the park. I guess a day at the beach isn't always a day at the beach if every day is a day at the beach. You followed that, right?
Variety. That's what we're looking for. Something new and different. That's what we're looking for in life and it's what readers and editors are looking for from writers.
A gentleman in a recent life story class wrote about a family car trip back in the days before automobile air conditioning. He and his siblings were packed into the back seat for what would be a hot, summer trip across several states. Okay, I knew where this was going. The young brothers in the back seat were going to fight their way across the country. But no. That's not what happened at all. It was the two adult brothers in the front who got into the fight and provided a spectacle for the kids. Ah-ha. A fresh approach. Not your usual day at the beach.
If you want to read some fresh writing, read Three Cups of Tea, a nonfiction book by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin or Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, a novel by Jamie Ford. Three Cups of Tea is about Greg Mortenson, the fellow who became lost after failing to summit K2 in Pakistan and in gratitude to the village that saved him, began building schools in Pakistan and now Afghanistan. Writer David Oliver Relin did a wonderful job of describing all the rugged mountain terrain and the mountain villages and people so they all didn't blend into sameness.
Here is an excerpt: He leaned over the side of the truck . . . and saw . . .straight down fifteen hundred feet to the bottom of a rocky gorge, where a coffee-colored river foamed over boulders. He looked up and saw they were hemmed in hard by granite walls that rose ten thousand feet on both sides of the river. . .Mortenson, . . .could see the truck's rear tires rolling a foot from the edge of the gorge, spitting stones out into the abyss . . .
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, a first novel by Jamie Ford, is about the internment of Seattle's Japanese families during World War II. Here the families are being taken away: Trunks, bags, and suitcases stacked almost as high as the roofs of the silvery buses that rolled by. Families were arguing about how much or how little they were allowed to bring. The excess found its way to the top of the ever-growing heap. Next to the mound was a truckload of confiscated radios. Giant Philco consoles and small Zenith portables with bent wave-magnet antennas were piled up in the back like discarded shoes.
Not your same old day at the beach -- or walk in the park -- or any other cliche.
And the little guy on the steps at the beach -- lifeguards blocked off the steps to protect him from the human animals. Animal rescue came and took him away to rejoin his kin -- back to the same old routine he had been trying to escape.
Here is a recipe that is not routine. It is from an ad for this year's Southern Living Christmas Cookbook. Yes, there is chocolate in it. Even though this is from a Christmas cookbook, I think it would be great for summer. Sounds cool and yummy. Why not skip all that mixing and just substitute ice cream?
Turtle Trifle makes 10 servings
8 oz mascarpone cheese, softened -- or 1 (8-oz.) pkg cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 (2-lb.) frozen pecan pie, thawed and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/3 cup chocolate fudge topping
1/3 cup caramel topping
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1. Beat mascarpone cheese, whipping cream, and vanilla extract in a large bowl at medium speed with a heavy-duty stand mixer, using the whisk attachment, 2 to 3 minutes or until smooth and firm. (Oh blah, blah. I think an electric hand mixer would work just fine.)
2. Place half of pie cubes in bottom of a 4-qt. trifle dish or any pretty clear glass bowl. Spread half of whipped cream mixture over pie cubes. Drizzle with half each of chocolate fudge topping and caramel topping. Sprinkle with half of chopped pecans. Repeat layers.
3. Cover and chill at least 1 hour or up to 8 hours.
Eat this while close to a chair, sofa or bed as I think it is likely to render one unconscious.
Visit my website, http://www.angelinyourinkwell.com/, for Writing Tips, Writing Prompts, Fun Stuff for Writers, Life Story FAQ and Resources.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
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Monday, January 26, 2009
Marcia Fleischman is a pastor and artist who began painting angels after double lung transplant surgery in 2003. Less than a year after her surgery, on a raw winter night she came to a class with no idea who I was -- until I passed out my business cards. An artist who paints angels shows up in a class taught by someone whose writing business is called Angel In Your Inkwell. At first, it was hard for me to understand what she was telling me -- about the surgery and about the paintings. Then she brought some of her angel paintings and explained again about the remarkable surgery. Here is what she recently wrote in an e-mail:
Carol, Happy New Year! I have some news. I have self published a children's book of angels called "Angels Everywhere." You can get them at Authorhouse.com or Amazon.com. I am, of course, selling them myself and want to develop a marketing plan. Soon my second book will be out called "Wild Woman Theology: In the Arms of Loving Mother God" In it I relell the stories of the women of the Bible in rhyme and with a bit of whimsy and a feminist slant. I have done all the illustrations, too. Next, I will write the story of my first having angel visions and painting. Since I have done the illustrations already, I just need to write it. Now I am working on a book called "What Does God Look Like?" I am collecting people's ideas and then painting them. ....So, what does God look like to you, Carol.
Take care of yourself! Marcia Fleischman
Hi Carol,I finally started a blog. It is daughtersanddads.wordpress.com So I hope to talk with xxx in the next few weeks to get this book moving. I did a radio show over the internet and it is showing up at 4th place on google under Sue Dawes.
Hope all is well with you. Take Care, Sue (Scroll to the bottom and look for Sue's blog in the Other Favorite Blogs listing.)
Velda Brotherton covers all aspects of being a writer, and, I believe, has information about a free writer's conference in Arkansas in February. I'm not sure about that. Anyone know anything about it? Here's what Velda wrote in her e-mail:
Carol, I too update my writer's blog the first of each week. I hope you're linked to it. I have a link to yours and would appreciate it if you could do the same. I so enjoy reading your posts and the chocolate recipes. Yumm. Thanks, Carol. Velda Brotherton. (Velda's blog is also included in Other Favorite Blogs below.)
Jan attended the Heart of America Christian Writer's Network writers' conference in Overland Park, Kansas in November, and from a contact she made there, she already has sold a piece and received payment! (You did say you had already been paid, didn't you, Jan?)
2 lb. carrots, sliced
1/4 tsp. dill weed
1/2 cup butter or margarine, divided
1/2 cup crushed saltines (about 15)
6 0z. Velveeta, cubed
Cook carrots in water in saucepan until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain. Place in greased 1 1/2 quart baking dish. In a small saucepan, melt 1/4 cup butter and cheese, stirring often. Stir in dill. Pour over carrots. Melt remaining butter. Toss with saltines. Sprinkle over carrots. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned and bubbly. Serves 8.
Scroll down for Favorite Books and Other Favorite Blogs.
You are at my blog, www.angelinyourinkwell.blogspot.com.
Look for specific writing how-tos and resources at my website, www.angelinyourinkwell.com.
Stay warm this week. : ) Of course, if you are a Certain Someone in Palm Springs, you already are warm!
Monday, January 19, 2009
Here's the point: you, like these two authors, can add an extra dimension to your novel by bringing in a social aspect. Create a compelling story and interesting characters propelled by social or world events and you have a potential best seller. It doesn't have to be brutality and sex. Think Grapes of Wrath or To Kill a Mockingbird. Ask yourself, what it is you care about, what riles your righteous indignation? Include that in your writing and readers will be unable to put down a book you have written.
And -- if you create the following recipe, you won't be able to put these yummy little morsels down either -- Chocolate Ritzy Butter Patties.
This recipe comes from Terri Lynn, an excellent cook. However, these little gems were given to Terry Lynn during the holidays. She plans to include them in the gift bag of goodies she gives next year. (Thank goodness I'm on Terry Lynn's gift list.) She didn't know what they are called so let's just name them Chocolate Ritzy Butter Patties.
Chocolate Ritzy Butter Patties
Spread a generous amount of peanut butter between two Ritz crackers. Dip into melted almond bark chocolate (not the white kind). Place on wire racks or waxed paper to harden. Repeat for as many Ritzy Patties as you need/want. Store in airtight container. Will keep for three weeks (unless, of course, you eat them before then).
The website is updated the first of every month.
Monday, January 12, 2009
She enthusiastically began listing things she had done. "Last year, I had a knee replacement."
1 pkg. milk chocolate or chocolate instant pudding
4 large eggs
For specific tips, resources, and information for writers, go to my website: http://www.angelinyourinkwell.com/