Archive for December, 2009

Writers’ New Year’s Resolutions

December 30, 2009

What are your New Year’s Resolutions as a writer? It’s a great time of year to start thinking about new projects, or finally finishing something that’s been hanging around for a while. It’s like a new blank sheet of paper in your typewriter (completely metaphorical since I’m sure almost everyone is using a computer these days).

Here’s my list of 5 writing resolutions for 2010:

1. Try to write something every day– this can be something simple like  a blog entry or  something larger like working on an essay or a story, but it has to be something for myself… not a function of my day job

2. Really analyze the balance of showing vs. telling (scenes vs. summary) in my work (this is something that editing Laurie Alberts’s book Showing & Telling has inspired me to do)

3. Write at least 1 brand new short story this year (not a recycled idea from previous writing)

4. Be generous with things that I’ve learned as a writer working in the publishing industry and share the things I discover with other writers.

5. Finally, finally try to do the NaNoWriMo novel in a month challenge (this is something I’ve been wanting to do for a couple of years, but never have).

So there’s my list. What about you? I’d love to see resolutions from other writers. Feel free to post in the comments. I wish you a very happy New Year. Live long and prosper.

You might be a writer

December 29, 2009

This time of year I get obsessed with stationery. Calendars, journals and planners are marked down for post-Christmas sales and I start thinking of all the projects I want to do and how I want to organize them. I find myself wanting to write meticulous outlines and notes in a Hemmingwayesque moleskine journal. Notes for what? How the heck should I know? Everything. Nothing. Just notes. Notes that will become stories, essays, novels, manifestos…

I remember a poet friend of mine confessed how she was OCD about paper and stationery. I never really thought about it until she said it, but once she did I realized I was too. It’s a nice feeling to look at a blank sheet and think of the possibilities. Or to look at a blank notebook and think of how you might fill it.

It’s easy to get sidetracked, though. I find myself getting so obsessed with organizing and note-taking that I set projects that are in motion aside. It’s sort of like the “I’ve got to clean my desk before I can write anything” syndrome that so many writers have. 

My advice. Indulge your inner note-taker and buy yourself a nice journal for 50% off. Spend an hour playing with it. Then get back to work.

Post Xmas

December 28, 2009

Sorry for the long lapse in postings (a definite blogging no-no).

I fell into the trap of rushing around to get all of my projects in a good place before leaving for a week and then fully committed to the holiday. During the week of Christmas I did hardly any writing (except for working on this comic book idea that I have…). I ran errands, finished my holiday shopping, made a casserole to take to my mom’s, and went to numerous family holiday parties.

So, not much writing. I did read a bit during what little down time I had. I’m reading a book about the history of Tae Kwon Do that my mom gave me (A Killing Art: The Untold History of Tae Kwon Do by Alex Gillis). It’s pretty interesting to read about the amount of politics and history that is intertwined with the origin of the sport. Even if you’re not into martial arts you might find it interesting if you’re into military history as the story spans WWII, the Korean War and Vietnam.

And now, I’m back in the office. Time to get my head back into several projects. I’m looking at the proofread for  Peter Selgin’s 179 Ways to Save a Novel. I’m excited about how well this book is coming together (and yes, the book has a final number of 179 mediations). 

I hope everyone had a nice holiday. Now, it’s back to work for me.

James Thom Interview

December 15, 2009

A couple of weeks ago I posted about a book called The Art & Craft of Writing Historical Fiction by James Alexander Thom.

Check out an interview with the author.

Writing Better Lyrics-Updated!

December 8, 2009

The advance copies of Writing Better Lyrics by Pat Pattison just landed on my desk. Check out the old original version vs. the new book. As amazing the change is, the new design isn’t the only update. There are revised chapters, new chapters, new examples and exercises. It’s a great revision of a book that’s been a classic for nearly 20 years. 

Learn more about Writing Better Lyrics

Writing & Critique Group Survival Guide

December 7, 2009

The advance copies of Becky Levine’s The Writing & Critique Group Survival Guide just arrived, and the book turned out great. I’m really excited about this one, as you may have noticed in some previous posts. I highly recommend for anyone who is serious about getting their work ready for publication and is looking to join or start a critique group to help them revise their work.

The book is full of great instruction and advice, as well as helpful worksheets and examples.

You can preorder the book now or, download the digital version

Holiday webinar promotion

December 4, 2009

As a special holiday promotion, Writer’s Digest is offering 15% off all webinars, including on-demand and the upcoming live events. No coupon code is needed – you simply need to register by midnight on 12/5. Visit our webinar page for details

Showing & Telling

December 3, 2009

This week I’ve been working with Laurie Alberts, the author of the forthcoming book Showing & Telling: Learn How to Show and When to Tell for Powerful and Balanced Writing (Pub date: April 2010). It’s a great book–very thought provoking.

As an editor, and a writer myself, I’ve heard the same advice that most of you have probably received time and time again: “show, don’t tell.” All through my studies in school, through creative writing classes, through my work on my university’s newspaper, through writing group sessions I heard the same mantra. “SHOW, DON’T TELL.” As an editor I’ve often given the same advice. When my friends and I started Fresh Boiled Peanuts, our literary journal, we often wrote that slogan in the margins of stories we thought could use some improvement, most likely passing over stories that showed too much, going through every minute detail of some mundane task. Does the reader really need to hear about the intricate flavors that the protagonist experiences as she eats a tuna sandwich while her plotline hangs in the balance? We probably chalked it up to bad storytelling and sent them a form rejection letter. And, yes, it is bad storytelling… but, it’s fixable. Overdescription adheres to the “show don’t tell” mantra, but some things are better simply stated so that the pacing of the narrative doesn’t suffer. It’s all about finding the right mix of scenes and summary… about finding balance.

And that’s what Laurie Alberts book is about. So keep this one on your radar if you’ve ever questioned the validity of that old standard piece of advice.

Visit Laurie Alberts’ website here

Back in the saddle

December 2, 2009

Sorry for the long lapse in postings. I was traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday and then trying to get caught up (it’s crazy how fast things pile up when you’re out of the office).

As for my projects, I just wrapped up a proofread for The Art & Craft of Writing Historical Fiction by James Alexander Thom (the book was edited by Lauren Bailey, but I’ve been involved with the project during it’s final stages).  It’s off to press in the next couple of days and I’d recommend it for anyone who is working on a historical novel. James Thom is the author of Follow the River, Panther in the Sky, Sign Talker and others. The book is insightful and entertaining. Thom has a great voice and the book is a fast, informative read.

Check out the author’s website here