Tag Archives: reading

Writers Coloring Box

I have had a eureka experience I have to share. I read voraciously. I think it is an essential part of the universe, readers write or perhaps better writers read. I have favorite authors at all levels of the stratosphere from epub to mid-list to NYT best sellers. There are certain qualities I fall in love with that causes their work to be a keeper for me.

Throughout this journey I have pondered good writing. At first I thought perhaps it was a sense of quality plot. All the I’s dotted and T’s crossed that the threads came together at the end with a plausible believable resolution. That became an ingredient to the stew but certainly more was indicated in my recipe for quality writing.

Next I considered character. All my keepers have great characters. People I want to take the journey with. People I grow to care about. People who are believable with their own imperfections and totally multi dimensional. They could be my friends. They exhibit a character growth through the book to become better on their own pathway through life.

Some day I want to meet Judith Ehrlich She was a final round Judge in the Beacon unpublished 2010 and gave my entry a thorough critique. She was detailed and objective. She is also a shrewed insightful woman. In the thirty something pages she critiqued for the contest, she said a lot of wonderful good things. Things that made me laugh and clap my hands like a six year old whose momie liked the rainbow I drew.

However, some very real problematic issues arose. I have a lot to thank her for in taking the time to make that critique and the tone that she used both encouraging yet honest without guile. References to weak writing and that my heroine was a “prop” for the two dynamic heroes. Now before my friends get out their pitchforks and get all up-de-up. Let me say — I understood perfectly what she said and I agree. I love my “boys” I have a wonderful male voice in my writing. My heroes leap off the page. My girls fell flat.

I spent about four months reading strong heroines. I wrote fan fiction for myself playing with a female character I admired. She was strong yet vulnerable and I understood her well. As a result, I acquired a good female voice for my heroines. I recognized character is another essential element to quality. Yet, she said weak writing so there was more.

Along this same line and about the same time my main critique partner and I spent an evening talking about writing. She had received a series of encouraging requests. First for 20 pages, then 20 more, then 20 more. I don’t know why they didn’t just request the whole thing. But that is how it went. I agonized for her each time the agent requested twenty more pages. We just knew this was it. A contract had to be in the works.

Please allow me to digress a little bit and say other than my own writing. I adore my critique partner’s work. Her stories are vivid, the pieces come together at the end and are threaded along the way. I love the people she creates. I mean really love them. I wish they were my people. I want to wrap them up and take them home and hear all about their lives forever and every. I could go on. She is one of the smartest women I know and I am so grateful for her influence in my writing through her excellent critique. Okay, okay so stage set.

So, why on EARTH after sixty pages did they reject her work saying all the right things, all the good things about the Manuscript, the plot, the characters — but….always the but… Something like– the writing just wasn’t consistently strong enough.

WTF? Consistently strong enough? *see the incredulous expression on MY face* It really threw me for a loop. If my C.P’s work wasn’t ‘consistently strong enough’ what did I have to offer. I call myself blessed to creep in her shadow as a minion.

It caused me to do a lot of thinking. I looked over comments I had received from judges in the contests both first round and final round. I suppose I was struggling with what it meant to have weak writing. Don’t think that I just fell off the turnip truck yesterday. I have a deck of cards that I made that I roll through in the editorial phase. I will be talking about those cards in future blogs. Those cards helped me find some of the obviously rookie mistakes writers make. Each card has a little reminder of something to screen the manuscript for. I’m not talking about those superficial things. It is deeper than that. After all the editing was complete and I couldn’t find anything else…. there was still the “weak writing” comments. I didn’t understand how to change or avoid it.

Last night I started reading a writers reference book and “Sokath His eyes uncovered” A little tiny book put understanding to the concepts I’ve been exploring and coming to terms with for a year.

I am going to spend some blog time talking about weak writing. How to recognize it. How to avoid it. My disclaimer is that this is not a lesson mastered. It is a lesson in progress. I yearn for the day when I will be a strong writer.

Okay, so in getting ready for this journey together…. What does it mean to you to be a weak writer or a strong writer? Perhaps you have it all figured out and I’m sitting on the floor of the short bus all alone. Leave a comment about your thoughts on weak writing.

Being a Survivor

Being a survivor is a process.   Similar to our writing we continually edit and re edit toward a finished product.

As a Cancer survivor  I am an evolution without end.  The end would be bing bing bing, game over.  I’m not rushing toward a final destination.  Even the word survivor indicates a continuation, an endurance of all things.

So, my trek continues, thankfully.

November/December has brought the blessing of beginning reconstructive surgery to begin another phase of healing from the impact of the big C.

I prepared for the surgery over the past couple of years.  I began weight watchers to learn to eat nutritiously.  I didn’t care about losing weight or thinking about a DIET mode.  I just wanted to control food for a change.  The added benefit was I did loose about 40 pounds.

I realized the scar from the cancer surgery was a continual reminder of all the awful stuff that had happened to me during that time.  Now the scar is gone.  I am beginning to feel whole again on the outside.  Perhaps that will allow me to heal and feel whole on the inside as well.

In the mean time I thought I would accomplish so much writing while being off work on medical leave.  That hasn’t proved to be the case.  However, my CP and I are moving through edits on our individual finished manuscripts from last year.  My WIP with the working title of Dragon’s Mark is getting my attention for editorial overhaul and polish.  At the same time I am plotting and sketching notes for the next in the series, Dragon’s Soul.

Much like my fictional heroines I am strong, resiliant and in search of my own path, my own destiny, my own happily ever after, one day at a time.

Whatcha readin?

I was an avid reader as a kid.  Maybe you were too.  Perhaps you have recently found a niche in literature that you really enjoy.

I started out the love affair with books through my parents.  Our entertainment was family reading in the evenings.  I don’t really even remember learning.  One of my earliest memories was. . . probably in first grade, you know when teacher has all the kids  go around the circle taking turns reading a line from a book,  “Run Dick Run”. ( Now I’m dating myself.)

I vividly remember reading what ever the line was and agonizing while the others struggled to make out the sounds.  Buh Buh Buh Awe Awe bub.  OMG Bob for crying out loud. I had no patience as a child.

I was also too shy to say anything.  I know, those of you who know me are thinking. ” SHY?  What are you talking about, girl!”  However, I was PAINFULLY shy.

So you can see by the time the class made it around the reading circle and back to me,  I wanted to poke my eye out with the pencil. “Go Spot Go” and the agony began all over again.  I also faintly remember that teacher didn’t like it that I already knew how to read when I started school.  I guess I skewed with her data.

When I did a book report in, oh, I think second or third grade on “The Fox and The Hound”.  The teacher actually asked me if I really read the book.  (That was of course before the Disney Movie version of the story.)

“No, I got the ending from the K-3 cliff notes version.”  I wasn’t nearly this snarkey as a kid either.

So you see books and I have always had a love affair.  My first romance was Majesty’s Rancho by  Zane Grey.  I think that was the title.  I fell in love with Zane Grey westerns.  I then graduated to the fantasy and science fiction genre.  Of course I loved the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings before they were cool outside the academic community.

Anne McCaffrey became a favorite author in my teens.  She has strong romantic elements woven through her writing.  A love of reading is something I have passed down to my children in our own reading night tradition.

Now I have a long list of favorite romance writers.  That is a discussion for another post.

Share with us your favorite bookcopy-of-heart-drink.  What are you reading now?