"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island." - Walt Disney

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

At the Heart...

Christopher Vogler once told me that the true measure of a successful story is "whether you have affected the heart of the audience" - either because they loved and connected with the characters, or because you caused enough tension to get the audiences hearts pumping.

If you've never read Vogler, he is a truly talented writer who updated the great Joseph Campbell's "Hero's Journey". He offers a theory on the 12 stages of any hero (see graphics). Chances are you've at least heard of one of the movies Vogler had a hand in creating: Lion King (which is really just a cartoon version of Hamlet).

Vogler is a wonderful mentor and teacher. I highly recommend his book The Writer's Journey. You can learn more about archetypes, the hero's journey, and repeating themes by checking out his books, or by visiting his website which offers great resources: http://www.thewritersjourney.com/

As for the heart of the matter, don't forget to check out the Parallels blog today. Ninja captain Alex J. Cavanaugh is discussing "the heart of what if".

How are you affecting the hearts of your audience?

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Leaving Out the Dull Bits

Clive James once said, "Fiction is life with the dull bits left out."

While James is not wrong, what about when the fiction itself is dull?

Today, I pulled out a piece I wrote several months ago. It's just the first draft of one scene, but it isn't nearly as brilliant as I remember it being. I'm sure this happens to every writer. After all, how often have we felt like the picture to the left?

The trouble is: it's a first draft and I still need to flesh it out. Too many writers give up because they don't want to work, or they feel like they can't do the work, or worse yet - the work isn't worth the effort.

If you've ever felt like you didn't know where to go with your story, try one of the below aids to help you flesh out your story. After all, you must have plenty of life in a story before you can remove those dull bits.

Planninghttp://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/7-steps-to-creating-a-flexible-outline-for-any-story

Hookhttp://writeitsideways.com/6-ways-to-hook-your-readers-from-the-very-first-line/

Characterizationhttp://www.epiguide.com/ep101/writing/charchart.html

Dialoguehttp://creativewritingguild.com/tips-tricks/9-tricks-for-writing-organic-dialogue/

Page-Turnerhttp://marcykennedy.com/2013/02/four-tips-to-keep-readers-turning-pages/

Middlehttp://www.how-to-write-a-book-now.com/sagging-middle.html

Ending - http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/how-to-structure-a-killer-novel-ending

What helps you flesh out your story and then remove the dull bits? Any favorite quotes on the subject?

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Science Fiction, Science Future

I'm over at the Parallels blog today sharing my summer fun with science in a post called Science Fiction, Science Future -  I hope you'll have a moment to stop by and say hi!

What are some of your favorite summer experiences? Do you enjoy science?

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

National Book Lover's Day

Happy National Book Lover's Day!

Check out your local stores for possible discounts and then enjoy as much time as you can with a great read!

Curious about the benefits of reading? Check out: http://rymaxinc.com/national-book-lovers-day-the-benefits-of-books/








Wednesday, August 3, 2016

IWSG: First Writing

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh. Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs. You can also join us on twitter using the hashtag #IWSG, or on the Facebook page.

Now, IWSG hosts have changed up the format in an effort to make it more fun and interactive.Every month, they will announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG Day post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say. 

Don’t forget to visit others that day to see their answers. Want to join, or learn more? Visit our - Sign-up List.


The August 3rd question is - What was your very first piece of writing as an aspiring writer? Where is it now? Collecting dust or has it been published?

MY ANSWER: I have a lot of writing from when I was young (elementary and middle school age) that is still sitting in a drawer. However, the first piece I wrote that I intentionally wanted published was for my high school newspaper, and I have kept a scrapbook of all of my early articles for school and community publications.

Some people don't understand why I hold on to everything I've ever written. It's simple really:

If you're interested in writing, NEVER throw away anything you create. I wrote a piece for a high school assignment and left it in a drawer. Twenty years later, I had it published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Just for Preteens. Several years ago, I wrote the first draft to a science fiction piece, and this year it was published in the IWSG anthology Parallels. You never know when you'll be able to successfully finish a piece, or when that writing might appeal to an editor. So, hold on to it all. Realize that much of it may never find a home, but sometimes it does - and you'll be proud to have shared a piece of yourself with others.

What was your first piece to write? Do you hold onto all of your writing?

Friday, July 22, 2016

Summer Excursions

I miss the large gatherings we once enjoyed during the holidays. Family members have moved all across the USA (and a few into other countries) so we usually only have smaller gatherings now.

One bonus of the situation though, is that summer travel is more convenient and less expensive. We just stay with family, and the only expense is our travel there and any extra events we participate in while vacationing.

One drawback - I'm not reading or writing much because I've been having too much fun. I'm sorry I've been absent so much this month, but I'll get back to a schedule in August. I'll share more details in the future. HAPPY SUMMER!

Have you been enjoying any summer travels? What is your favorite summer memory?

Thursday, July 14, 2016

7 Austin, Texas Literary Locations Worth a Visit

In the summer, I usually post a few literary travel articles (see the "For Writers" tab above for more). I recently realized I haven't talked much about the travels in my own state of Texas, so today I thought I'd share 7 places worth visiting in Austin. 

About 15 years ago I visited Austin for a teacher's conference and was pleasantly surprised at a few literary finds. Just a few blocks from the conventions center where I was attending SXSW (literary and film festival) was my first find:

1) O. Henry House and Museum, Austin, TX - The mission of the O. Henry Museum is to collect, preserve and interpret artifacts and archival materials relative to William Sidney Porter, the author otherwise known as O. Henry, for literary, educational, and historical purposes. The O. Henry Museum offers a look into the life of William Sidney Porter in the Austin years leading up to his controversial prison term, after which he assumed the pen name O. Henry and set about transforming himself into the famed short story writer who authored such universal classics as "Gifts of the Magi," "The Ransom of Red Chief" and "The Cop and the Anthem."
2) Harry Ransom Center, Austin, TX - The University of Texas archive, library, and museum houses 36 million literary manuscripts, one million rare books, five million photographs, and more than 100,000 works of art, including three copies of the First Folio of William Shakespeare’s plays, The Cardigan manuscript of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, and manuscript collections of James Joyce, Graham Green, David Foster Wallace, Anne Sexton, Don DeLillo, and many others.
3) Bennu Coffee, which from the outside looks like your standard Austin coffee place, is the perfect cafe for the bookishly minded. Their specialty mochas are each named after different literary works. You can order the Don Quixote, a spiced chocolate mocha with whipped cream and a dusting of Mexican spiced powder; The Raven, a dark chocolate mocha with whipped cream and chocolate shavings; or a Great Gatsby, a white and dark chocolate twist of sauces with chocolate shavings, among others.
4) It wouldn’t be a trip to Austin if you didn’t hit up at least one bar on Sixth Street. Lucky for you, you can hit up The Library for your liquor needs. Be warned that it is a college bar, but if you want to sip your whiskey in a place covered in decorative books, then give it a shot.

5) Book People - Publishers Weekly called Book People “bookstore of the year” in 2005, and it’s been one of Texas’s leading independent bookstores for decades for good reason. Book People is huge, with so many nooks and crannies to explore.
6 and 7) If you plan your tour just right, you might be able to check out the Texas Book Festival, held each fall. And if you love YA lit, you should also check out the annual Austin Teen Book Festival. Both events are free and feature incredible author panels, book talks, and more.
Have you been to any of these locations? Do you have other suggestions for literary visits in Austin?