Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Collecting Family Stories

by Deborah Nielsen

Every family has stories. Usually told around the dinner table. Do you remember all the stories grandma told about growing up when you were little? Or the story about when your great uncle ran after the Model T yelling, “Whoa, damn you! Whoa!” just before the woodpile stopped it?

Memories fade, and people die, and the stories are gone along with them. That’s the problem with oral history. It has a tendency to disappear. Families can lose history and the threads binding them all together.

When I’ve attended a writers’ event of some sort over the years, I usually meet a person who is there because they want to learn how to preserve those family stories in writing. Then they say, “But I’m not a writer.” They take copious notes and end up feeling overwhelmed. In their mind, a writer is this mystical creature who can effortlessly put words on paper that everyone wants to read. “I just want to do a book for the family,” they say.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Benefits of Writing Groups AKA Join NCW

By Kathryn Mattingly

I have been an NCW member for 15 months and will continue while living in Napa, CA. Why might you ask? Because when you join a well run writing organization it becomes an invaluable tool in your writing world. If you are an introverted obsessive writer like me, it’s also important to crawl out of your cave and kiss your computer goodbye for short periods, while connecting with others in the community who are doing the same.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Merry HallowThankMas Or Cripes, October Is Over Already!

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By J.C. Lynne

Think back to the days summer was too long. Okay, in my defense when I was in school riding my T-Rex, we started the Tuesday post-Labor Day and ended for summer break the first week of June. Summer passed in a deliciously lazy haze until you just couldn't stand it any longer and clamored for school to start. 

I'm not talking parents here.

Yes, I've grown older, and my schedule is full year round. As a full-time writer, I'm guilty of feeling irritated when clerks and salespeople ask me if I have any big weekend plans. "Aren't you so glad it's Friday?" To be fair, I experienced the same thing as an air traffic controller...shift work. In my case, Thursday at 6:00 a.m. was my Friday.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Importance of Scene

By David Sharp

If you think back to your favorite book, what do you see in your mind's eye? Is it the cover? Is it an outline of the plot points? The expert usage of punctuation, perhaps?

My guess is it's a snapshot of a memorable scene within the story. Bilbo Baggins riddling with Gollum, Inigo Montoya confronting the six-fingered man, Harry Potter seeking the snitch in his first Quidditch match, you get the idea. But it's very easy for writers to overlook the importance of scene in lieu of the more obvious elements of characterization, plot and setting.

Allow me to postulate: developing your ability to write in scenes is the most efficient way to elevate your writing. The scene is your reader's window into your story. What good are your immaculately developed characters if your reader can only see them through a brick wall of exposition? No matter what your story is, without proper scenes it has no opportunity to come to life.

So, what makes a good scene?

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Just Singin' Along

by Deborah Nielsen

I’m on the road again and even though I’m not making music with Willie Nelson and friends, I listen to music when I’m on the road. Some people listen to audiobooks, but I’d rather have the radio, a few CDs, and my playlist.

There’s something about singing along to the latest new song or an old favorite. In my car, I can warble to my heart’s content, and no one is going to wince and tell me to stop that caterwauling!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Stay in the Game!

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By Kerrie Flanagan

Life has a way of throwing us curve balls, making us question whether or not we should stay in this writing game. But if you stay at the plate, sooner or later one is thrown right down the middle, giving you the chance to hit it out of the park.

For 17 years I have been in the game. I’ve experienced strike-outs, foul balls and bruises, along with some singles, doubles and triples. There have been many moments of landing on the base with my arms held in triumph knowing I did something right to get there. Whether it was getting an article published in a magazine, presenting at a local writer’s conference or self-publishing my books, I celebrated all these achievements.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Make No Mistake Writing IS a J O B

J.C. Lynne
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by J.C. Lynne

I did the one thing most writing blogs warn against, I quit my day job mid-2012 to write full-time. Think of any of your most intense phobias, spiders, snakes, clowns. Think of finding a huge one in the shower with you. A little nauseating?

That's precisely how I felt when considering the prospect of quitting a full-time job. 

Apparently it's a thing. Sorry if it's yours.

The factors involved made the decision easier. Our son had become critically ill and needed full-time care. At the time, we could manage on a single income. Teaching had become a gauntlet of helicopter parents, clownish bureaucracy, and budget cuts that meant I'd never recover my full salary. Gearing up to publish my first novel helped ease my anxiety. 

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