Saturday, July 30, 2016

Critques are not for Cowards

Irene Latham on left and Patricia Weaver on right. Writing buddies
We've all heard the phrase: "Parenting is not for Cowards." Well neither is critiquing.
Here are some tips whether you're giving or receiving.

For the Giver:
Give your reaction to the story not YOUR opinion.
Avoid saying things like this was weak. Instead give some constructive feedback like:
I'm having a hard time picturing this.
I'm confused by...
Also give some positive comments on what you thought the writer did really well.

For the receiver:
Find a group with like interests. Where do you find them? I suggest writing conferences or local writing groups. If there isn't one in your area, start one. SCBWI is a great organizations that puts writers and illustrators together.

Ask yourself if you are ready for this? You have written what you hope is a perfect story or article.
First put on your helmet and a shield wouldn't hurt either unless you have a thick skin.

What you need to remember when getting feedback is "Did I get my message across?" Listen for the responses.
Did your character show the expected reaction in this scene?
Was the character's action predictable or out of character? There can be a fine line here. You don't want to be too predictable.
Did it make sense?
What expectations did you want the reader to have? Did you accomplish this?
At what point did the reader lose interest?

Did you feel the urge to explain why the character did what he did when getting feedback? Don't say anything just make a note of it and revisit it later. If your not sure of some of the comments ask them to clarify.

For example I am taking Allyson Levitt's online picture book class, and in lesson two our assignment was to write a question and answer for our manuscript. If you have someone that can read your story, ask them what they think the question and answer is. Mine did not answer the question I was asking. Taking the feedback I was able to focus my story more where it needed to go.

So that leads me to the next tip: Be flexible. Perhaps your story is many layered, and you could break it down into more than one story. Yippee! Now you have another project to look forward too.

This was excerpted from the article by Steven James in the Writer's Digest September 2016 issue.

Tomorrow is the last day to enter for the July book giveaways. Leave a comment or use the Rafflecoptor to enter.

Next week the winners and August books will be announced. If you know of a good craft book, let me know. I do know that Janice Hardy has some coming out that I'm looking forward to reviewing soon.

See you next week!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Writing Contests!

Here's a sampler of writing contests I have found and participated in:

The Creative Writing Institute has a themed contest which opened July 15 through September 15. Click on the link for more information. there is a $5 entry fee. It must have this sentence in the story "Explain how that happened."

1500-2000 words.
I have taken several of their writing classes too and  I believe this is a good one to enter.

WOW Women on Writing This one is open now and closes August 31st. Open prompt 250 -750 words. They also offer writing classes and I believe you will recognize some of the instructors. You can also pay a little extra for a critique of your story. The entry fee is $10 and limited to 300 entrants.

I have taken some of their writing courses and they are very good too.

Writers Weekly 24 hour Fall contest is September 17 . Entry fee $5. This is a fun contest. On September 17 you will be given the theme and word count. You will have 24 hours to write and submit your story.

There are 89 prizes and this too is limited to 500 entrants. I have entered this before and have come up with some interesting new stories.

However, if you are a resident of Colorado, Maryland, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Tennessee. Your state may prohibit your participation in skills-based contests that have an entry fee. If your state prohibits these types of contests, please do not enter. If you wish to participate anyway, your $5 fee will be considered a participation fee but, unfortunately, you will not be eligible to win a prize.

Pockets Annual Fiction writing contest is open until August 15. there is no theme and no entry fee! Word count is 750-1000. Click on the link for more information.

This just in from Charles Suddeth: Green River Writers  contest is open until September 30th.I am a Midsouth member & also  the Contest Chairman for Green River Writers of Louisville. For 2016 we have about $1600 total in prizes in 2 grand prizes and 14 prose & poetry prizes. I sponsored the only category dedicated to children's writing, but virtually all of the categories are open to children.  This has a low entry fee.

Hope you enjoy and will try some of these out. Let me know if you have participated in any of these and your thoughts on them. Also please feel free to add any other contests that you think are good for writers or illustrators.
Don't forget to leave a comment or enter through rafflecoptor for a chance to win: Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg or A Hitch at the Fairmont by Jim Averbeck.

See you next week!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Jim Averbeck presents A Hitch at the Fairmont

Jim Averbeck is an illustrator as well as a children's author. I was fortunate enough to attend a SCBWI workshop in Orlando this summer where he presented how he wrote this book. The research he went into not only for the Fairmont Hotel but also about Alfred Hitchcock was inspiring.

Averbeck shows us  the details about how Hitchcock uses storyboards to direct the audience attention to where he wants it go.

He also brings to life how an artists creates: There was that thrilling moment when pencil caught paper and dragging it across was like striking a match. And like fire the pencil burned the paper with black lines and curves. Small bits of lead popped and leapt behind as it tracked along with a satisfying scratch.

The story is about a boy who goes to live with his aunt in the Fairmont Hotel after his mother drives off a cliff and kills herself. Alfred Hitchcock just happens to be staying there too.
When Jack's aunt is kidnapped, he ropes Mr. Hitchcock into helping him find and rescue her.

Well that's all I'm going to tell you about that because this has more twists and turns than a roller coaster and I don't want to spoil the ending for you.

For a chance to win this book in this month's giveaway, please leave a comment or enter through the rafflecoptor.

See you next week!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Book Giveaway-Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg

Writing Down the Bones- Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg is a classic and a good book for beginners and seasoned writers.
This book has sold millions of copies and translated to many languages. First released in 1986, it still holds true to writing for today.
This book is an excellent encourager and stimulates the creative process.
In the epilogue of her book she states: "The biggest struggle was not with the actual writing, but working out the fear of success, the fear of failure, ..."
I have heard many writers that have successful published book say pretty much the same thing every time about the their current work in progress.

I like the exercise she gives in the chapter: The Action of a Sentence.
Fold a paper in half long ways and write a noun, then on the other side think of occupations that go with the noun and write a verb. Open the page and see what new sentences can be made with the different combinations.
I love the "My blood buzzes like a hornet's nest"
If you feel your writing is getting stale with "he ran, she walked" this may be a good exercise to try.

If you would like a chance to win this book please leave a comment below or use the rafflecoptor.

See you next week!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Winners of Book Giveaway

Congratulations to Joyce Lansky on winning The Legend of Ghost Dog Island!
Please send me the address you want this book mailed to.

Congratulations to Angie Quantrel! You have won The Writing book. Please email your address.

Happy Fourth of July! Have a safe one and donate blood if you are able!

See you next week I unveil the July book giveaways!