January 29, 2009

Ready, Set, READ and WRITE

Filed under: 1st person,critiquing,writers group,writing — writebrainit @ 7:16 am

Wednesday nights are something that I look forward to. It’s the night I get to attend my writers group.  Since starting I have learned lots, made friends and my writing has improved. I don’t read as often as I should (or as often as my peers would like). Truth be told there are times that I hesitate to read what I am working on for many reasons – one I can often hear the critiques from different writers, and want to fix the things I know they are going to catch before I read them; 2. we have a diverse group and I don’t believe we should all be subjected to writing that we might be offended by (i.e. lots of cursing and such); three the subject manner might be a little intense (i.e. we have some real animal lovers and I have one story where a dog is abruptly killed and wanted to be ‘sensitive‘ the them; and finally 4. I am not as disciplined as I hope to be and don’t always feel ready to read as often as I should.

So I have been working on this short story about a gravedigger for awhile. I have it written by hand and have been working on transcribing it to the computer – but I keep getting stumped because it is showing a side of humor that I did not initially intend – so I put it away for several weeks. Each time I pulled it out the humor came back. Last week when I started again working on it, I thought, ‘oh it’s not as funny as I thought and still has that dark side‘, so I went back to work on it. I just decided to let the story tell itself which sometimes isn’t hard as I often become the main character.

Tonight was a nice affirmation that I am on the right track with the story as the first several pages which I read were critiqued very positively. Some of the nice compliments that are easy to remember are how much one person is impressed by how well I write in the 1st person and several others commented on the humor and the dialogue being right on target. There is one passage which I wasn’t sure if it really fit in the story – I had not really considered condensing it and revealing less (I had thought of deleting it), so it was refreshing to have that suggestion made because the room all seemed to like it, but thought it went a little long. One person even went so far as to say that he thinks this is the thing he has most enjoyed of my readings.

I guess I am on the right track. Critiques are helpful, affirmations are nice, but having your story be read/heard – all the better. Now I need to get it finished.


January 27, 2009

Among the Missing – Review

Filed under: Uncategorized — writebrainit @ 10:38 am

Among the Missing Among the Missing by Richard Laymon

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
I really enjoyed this book. It was a very easy read and the end was well-written and unexpected (until I re-thought of all the clues that had been left throughout. More sex than I was expecting, but overall a good book which kept me on the edge of my seat.

View all my reviews.

January 26, 2009

Family, Friends and ‘I Do’

Filed under: Uncategorized — writebrainit @ 2:38 pm

This weekend my niece married. It was a wonderful affair and I can’t believe how smooth it went for the most part. People came to celebrate and party with them and I believe they were overwhelmed by the support people showed in there happiness.

I walked away learning things from this wedding (other than little tidbits of wedding recommendations – although on a sidenote – it is the coolest thing to have a cake on every table – seven different flavors, mind you). But back to my point. Her organization was amazing, so well planned, but also not to the point that she was going to let it ruin her day. If something did go wrong, no one was really aware of it, and she had a real ‘it doesn’t’ matter attitude.

I have to admit there were times, I was looking at my interactions and the people who were there wondering, ‘what story can I get out of this.’ Is there a story in the harassment the priest gave my niece for the number of people in the wedding party, or when my 3 brothers and I walked my niece down the aisle to give her away (we were referred to as the bodyguards); yeah, there is. I don’t know that it’s the story I will write, but there is a story in it.

I feel blessed for the opportunity to see those stories in everything and everyone – I love that I have been graced with imagination. I encourage everyone to find the story and tell it.

January 19, 2009

Prioritizing, Goals and Resolutions

Filed under: Uncategorized — writebrainit @ 10:47 pm

It’s been a nice long weekend – thank goodness I have a job, but boy do I love these long weekends, especially when they are so full. I have niece getting married this upcoming weekend and it seems like the wedding schedule is full even for her uncle.

This weekend was spent celebrating life with friends and family – in many different ways – seeing old friends, listening to music and celebrating change in other. I did some of what I expected to do while I was off – but it always seems at the end of these weekends, I am left thinking, ‘just one more day.’ And I plan what I would do with that one more day. I accomplished more than what I had hoped this weekend, but I wonder how much I could have accomplished if I had been more focused.

Not being a list person makes me very happy; however, I am beginning to wonder how much more accomplished I would be with a schedule or a list for my extended weekend. I might make that a goal the next time I have one (which is the weekend of President’s day.)

I did have one specific goal this weekend though – to finally get the short story I wrote awhile ago transferred to the computer – I have it about half done but didn’t like the direction the story was going – so I stopped and left it alone. Now I need to get it transcribed so I can see what I am going to do with it. I have slept much more than I normally would on a weekend (one day I had a several hour nap for taking an allergy pill that I thought did not affect me by making me more drowsy – 4 hours later I realized I was wrong.)

I think it was when I was in one of those sleep funks, or it was while I was doing some cleaning that I feared it had been awhile since I had been inspired to write a story – while I am not regimented enough to sit and write stories for a certain amount of time a day – that is always a goal. And I was wondering – what if I don’t have anything else to write about, which never seems to happen. For a second I was scared and then I remembered all the stories I have thought of but not finished – any time I have an idea for a story – and play it out in my head – I try to write a synopsis of sorts so I can have it there when I get around to it. I was relieved when I remembered the many options I have to be working on.

I am not a big believer in making New Year’s resolutions, but I do set simple goals. I guess I live in constant denial of the whole resolution, don’t I? Anyways, one of my goals this year is to get a page written every day – it can be my blog, it can be on a story or something new – just a minimum of one a day. I have tried to set it up in the past that I am not allowed to play on the computer until I have that page written and I believe that will be the focus I make for the upcoming year. In the big picture that is the simple way of looking at completing a novel in a year – realistically even if I only meet 1/3 of that goal – that 120 pages more than I have written in a year in the past.

January 16, 2009

Time Crunch Editing and Submissions

I had found this great opportunity from Firebrandt Literaryoffering a query holiday. It was a great opportunity – if you have a novel, you were offered the opportunity to send in the first chapter and if you had a children’s picture book – the whole thing. They will review and if interested, notify you by Feb. 1st 2009. Anyone who has ever submitted anything knows that is a quick response and the opportunity for a writer to submit his or her work without a query letter – fantastic.

I shared this with my writing group and many of them took the opportunity to look into it, and apparently those who can be a little more cautious/suspicious than I am about an opportunity like this gave it the ‘thumbs up and began weeding down their own choices as you were only allowed to submit one story.

I myself was considering one of my children’s picture books – but I was not sure. My writing group had given me positive feedback on this story and I was told to start submitting. I then found a children’s writing group in the area and presented it to them – they shot it down, tore it up and sat there with a that ‘what the F@#$ was that’ look on their face. It was brutal. The kindest thing that came out of it was that several suggested that it be submitted to parenting magazines instead as it was too long and appeared to be more for adults anyway. I wanted it to be one of those universal picture books which are written more for a child but affect many adults as well. I was very down after this beating for a long time.

I also didn’t agree and put it aside for awhile – then I posted on the children’s stories board at the Writer’s Digest site and received some fairly positive advice from one of the thread’s experts. She said she could definitely see it as a children’s book but agreed that it had to be whitled down, but offered no real suggestions where. I appreciated her comments but put the story aside again.

Yesterday when I was reminded it was the deadline date – I quickly pulled the story out and without thinking began editing – with the thought in mind of what can go – by the time I was finished I had somehow deleted about 1000 words and I felt it was a more cohesive and appropriate child story.  I made the deadline and I was pleased.

I wrote this story 20-some years ago and re-write after re-write, I think it can’t be fixed anymore – yet, here it was again. Now I am a little worried that people will think that is the only story I focus on – believe me it’s not and it is true, I have put it away and done nothing with it for long periods of time, but it is one of those stories I just can’t seem to let go.

Hopefully this will be the time, that I can let it go. I would love to have the team reviewing it accept it, but if that is not the case, I am okay – the editing I did actually now makes it much more marketable to re-submit for other opportunities as well.

I am just left wondering if I need a time crunch such as this one, to do my best editing? How do you edit your stuff and when do you let go?

January 12, 2009

Just finished BOY’S LIFE

Filed under: Uncategorized — writebrainit @ 5:09 pm

Boy's Life Boy’s Life by Robert R. McCammon

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
WOW – I just finished this – what an amazing book. In many ways when he spoke of his childhood – he was speaking of mine. Not so much the timing, as I was born the year that Cory was speaking of in the story, but the imagination, the neighborhoods, the activity that was going on. It’s so much different than what children in this generation get to experience. I am simply blown away by this book and can’t wait to get others to read it.

View all my reviews.

January 5, 2009


Filed under: Uncategorized — writebrainit @ 1:24 pm
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This story is just too precious to pass on. How do they think of these things?
So this morning my sister picks me up to drop me off at work (as I am still sans car). She is on the phone and my niece is in the backseat. My niece asks me, “Uncle Bill, if I count all the corn on this ear, is that how old it is?” I peered in the back to see what she is talking about. She is holding an ear of dried up corn.
“No honey.” I continued with putting on my seatbelt and such and then went on to explain, “Remember, corn grows over the summer.”
“We get corn in the winter too?”
I look back again to see if she is teasing me or serious, “I know, what I mean is that an ear of corn can grow in about the time it takes for her to be on summer vacation.”
Her mom finished her phone call and proceeded to tell me how angry she was with this caller. When it appeared my sister was finished ranting, my niece jumps in with, “Mom, I asked Uncle Bill if you count the corn on this ear, will that be how old it is.” (Evidently she didn’t believe me or understand that I was referring to the concept of time).
My sister laughed and said, “No honey, it’s not like a turtle or an alligator. You can’t tell how old it is by counting.”
‘Like a tree, if it’s cut open, you can count the number of rings on the stump and learn how old a tree was. Though I am not sure how accurate those things are. You can only tell how old an alligator is up until his 7th birthday.’
‘They grow a foot a year, until there are 7, but after they are 7, they can be as many feet as they are.’
‘So no one knows how many feet an alligator over seven has?’
Now it’s my sister’s turn and I have started to giggle. ‘What?’
‘You said it grows a foot a year.’
Not feet, S., don’t you think an alligator would look at little silly walking around on 3 or 2 feet?’
‘Or one.’ I decide to include my two cents while I am fighting a case of the ‘out-of-control giggles’.
‘Yeah S., can you imagine an alligator with one foot trying to get around?’
‘I’m sorry, but you said it grew a foot a year until it was 7 and then as many as it grew, so I thought you meant feet.’

The conversation continued for several minutes and I continued to hide how hard I was trying not to laugh so as not to embarrass my niece. But all I could think was ‘oh my Christmas break was too long this year – talk about some concrete thinking.’
I did think that it would make a fun picture book – the different concrete comments that must confuse the creative minds of children.

Back From a Break

Filed under: Uncategorized — writebrainit @ 1:18 pm

Okay – I took a bit of time off from the blog – I was really sick for most of December, am without a car and just had a lot going on, so the blog suffered. But I am back and on track today.

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