A One Night Writer’s Conference

I recently attended a part of the Breathe Writer’s Conference. I was left with a taste for more. Meeting writers, gathering some encouragement, and coming to the realization that there are more than three people in the Grand Rapids community that are in pursuit of publication were grand things indeed.

Thus, my three brave comrades and I decided to throw a writers conference of our own: A one night writing conference. We have the venue selected (the soon to be new and improved Baker Book Store) and the date (Friday, February 8th 2013). There are a lot of things to be worked out. However, I can tell you that it will be a wonderful time. The schedule provides time for three brief presentations, discussion, insight into the writing life, as well as time to mingle and write. Also, the conference is free so you don’t have an excuse.

The topics of discussion are still up in the air but will most likely include:

  • Using Social Media
  • Flash Fiction
  • Encouragement (or swift kick in the writing pants)
  • Marketing
  • Writing in the cracks of life
  • What happens after your novel gets to the publisher

I will update you as those topics become more solid. Josh, Andy and I hope that the connections, instructions, and encouragement you receive will propel you toward your publication dreams, whatever they may be. For now, mark it down on your calendar that you already have plans on February 8th. You’ll be at a writer’s conference. Keep writing my friends.

Cheers,

Bob

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The Lives of Characters

The last few weeks writing has been replaced with meticulous editing. I will send chapters off to friends shortly and that goal is a marker that helps me stay focused. However, there are many instances that I run out of steam and I find it hard to come back to the chapter again. After nine revisions of one single chapter, the thrill of finishing is long gone. It is replaced with a long laborious haul. Writing is hard work.

When I started writing my novel I knew that it was the beginning of a series. During the planning process I wrote out the lives of each character. Some would die, some would mature. Some would fall in love, and others would search for loved ones and give up hope. These are the things I am excited to share with my readers and why I decided to write in the first place.

At this point of the editing process it is not the thought of completing the book that drives me.  Rather my character’s dreams and hopes that pull me onward and cannot be silenced. They push themselves to the forefront of my mind and interrupt my day. I think of them while driving or walking of spending time with my family. They are in the driver’s seat begging me to continue, for they want to live.

I write this post because many writers have said at some point characters begin to write themselves as if alive. I thought it hogwash and some silly artist nirvana. Now I understand. Custo, Hailea, Sapien, Maero, Comitis, Nimrodur, Elidur, Lenis, Camilla, and the rest of you. I will finish. Be patient with me.

Cheers,

Bob

Julia’s Place – 100 Word Challenge – And Winter Will Bring

Happy Friday everyone. Today is my post for Julia’s Place. If you have not visited it already and want a place to hone your writing skills, click on the icon. This entry is titled Ragnarok.

Olaf swung his axe.  Tree after tree fell before him. His red shaggy beard grew heavier in the misty rain.

“Father, why do we work like this? Why do we work so hard?” Sigrid asked looking at the next farm over. “They don’t.”

“We need to be ready,” he breathed between swings.

“For what?”

“You are young and don’t remember. Upon the fortieth cycle of the sun, winter comes with the darkness.”

“Winter?” Sigrid said bewildered.

“Yes winter. And winter will bring ice, cold, snow, and death for those who are not ready. Grab an axe daughter. Today we work.”

Cheers,

Bob

Great post on short stories Andrew. Just threw it up on my blog. Thanks for sharing your insights.

Tell Better Stories

During the Breathe Conference last Saturday I attended a workshop on writing Short Stories given by Dr. David Landrum, a local writer and English professor. Dr. Landrum focused his workshop on how short stories should begin. Here are a few of my notes from his talk:

Beginnings are very important.

  • The first paragraph is vital. The first sentence must be done correctly.
  • The second and third paragraphs make or break the rest of the story.
  • Set the scene.
  • Introduce the main character and reveal something about him or her almost immediately.
  • Don’t focus on “hooking” the reader or somehow shocking them in order to get them to read your story. Rather, focus on intriguing them. (He gave an example from a story he wrote in which his early drafts began with, “He was lying in a pool of blood.” He said that this was a terrible attempt to “hook” readers…

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What Is Your Writing Quirk?

When I played soccer in high school I had a coach who often reminded us of the definition of insanity. “Boys!” he’d bark, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results!” I remember being really confused at first, then after awhile it clicked. If things aren’t going well in the game, trying harder might not be the answer. Instead we need to try something different.

As writers we are constantly refining the process of our craft. We try artist exercises or going for a walk. We attend classes and seminars, write upside down, whatever. If you asked every writer you knew they would probably all give different answers as to what helped them get to where they are.

For me, it’s pacing and muttering – Daniel Day-Lewis style (I know). I take on the persona of a character to see things from their perspective. If someone saw me and did not know what I was up to, I am fairly certain they would call some van to take me away.

How about you?

Do you have a writing quirk or habit that propels your craft?

Cheers,

Bob

Part Time Novel Lite

So, my goal to wake early and write each day has been somewhat successful. It has depended upon whether my young daughter wakes up at 2am or not. It is a little harder to get out of bed in the morning when you’ve had two naps of two and a half hours, but I’ve done it, some of the time. Now that she is sleeping better, I have the desire to dig in and attain tangible progress on the writing front.

I wrote about the Breathe writing Conference several posts back. I was incredibly encouraged afterward and had a ton of writing energy but so little sleep that I did not have an opportunity to seize the day. Now, it might be premature but I think I will be able to string together a consistent writing time. And I don’t want to waste it.

Now it comes to it. I have decided to back down my blog to three days a week. Yesterday was an anomaly but I plan to post on Monday Wednesday and Friday. I realized that my goal is to be a novelist and to publish short stories. I turn Thirty next May and I want to be in the submission stage of writing, not just have a collection of blog posts, as much fun as they are.

Here are the writing goals I hope to accomplish by giving up blogging two days a week:

  1. Submit two short stories between now and Thanksgiving.
  2. Have the next draft of my novel to readers by the end of the New Year.
  3. Get a short story published next year.
  4. Seek representation for my novel after the New Year.

My challenge to you readers is remember your goals and your writing dreams and do something about them this week.

Cheers,

Bob

 

 

 

 

My Life: A Game of Stitches

While I was young I spent a lot of time outdoors. This meant I got dirty, a lot. Not just your average run of the mill grass stains on the knee area of your jeans dirty. More like, hey look mom! I jumped into a pile of what we thought was dirt but was manure, dirty.

I and my two brothers, Chris and Bryan (we call him Moe) were always trying something  new which meant one of us would be hospitalized or injured for at least a day. We’d say things like ‘I bet we could jump over that!’ or ‘how about we sled off the roof!’ and ‘let’s cut some branches out of that tree so we can climb higher to jump down onto the trampoline’.

Other activities included ‘one pump’ bee-bee gun wars (without eye protection, yes what were we thinking!) and shooting bottle rockets at each other leaving black burns and small fires all over our yard and occasionally our pants.

Behind my parents house is a field that rotates corn and soybeans. Behind that is a pond. So, as our neighborhood was filled with boys, one winter we decided to play ice hockey.

Now, when a group of boys gets together things tend to get a little violent, especially if parents aren’t around.  So we didn’t just play hockey. We called it ‘full contact’ Ice hockey. What did this mean? Well after about six games four of us were in stitches, and one boy who begged his father to let him come (I think his dad was an English teacher and he was familiar with Lord of the Flies) was sent home with a long gash down his nose.

That was the end of full contact ice hockey. We still played roller hockey in the summer and we would go back and skate occasionally but that was the one of the few times the reality of life set in and we all realized that we could get hurt. That is, until the next boy said, ‘Hey I have my license. Why don’t we pull you on a skateboard behind my car!’

Cheers,

Bob

Julia’s Place – 100 Word Challenge – It Can’t Be That Time

Good day. Every week I participate in the 100 word challenge at Julia’s place. This week the words that must be used are “it can’t be that time”.

Happy writing.

It was the best night of her life. The pure extravagance was breathtaking. The ceilings stretched so high she thought they touched the stars and the way he danced…

She was sure that this must be a dream and would shortly wake in her dingy old bed. Thus, she pinched herself, bumped her elbow on a wall and stomped on her own foot- but was real. Then, as it had countless times time her life, a clock chimed midnight –spoiling the moment.  

“It can’t be that time!” she thought. She raced for the stairs, making for the carriage, dropping a slipper along the way.

Okay, okay I know. Cinderella? But hey my daughter June is three and loves the story.

Cheers,

Bob

My About Page

Recently I discovered I neglected something very important – the About Page on my blog. Anytime I whip up a funny little anecdote about my writing life or how I came to love books, I think Hey! This could be my about page. Then as time marches on and the responsibilities of life weigh on my mind, I forget.

So, I thought I would take a blog post and do this very thing. If you are a writer who has also been remiss about creating that all too important About Page, please take a moment and do so.

I stumbled upon the writing craft while very young. However, I did not start to write until roughly seven years ago. Since that time my love for writing has grown even through countless redrafts and a few rejections.

My love for the written word exploded in high school when I read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. I remember it was reading day (a Friday afternoon) and I could not find a book to read so I borrowed one from a friend. I thought, eh a large green monster, Igor and the like. I can stomach that until the period is over. When it opened aboard a ship, I was hooked. It was a pleasant and unforgettable surprise.

Just over a year ago I started this blog. I figured it was about time that I took some responsibility for my own writing and if there was any place that I could go to find encouragement and to be held accountable it is the web. Even if my writing friends moved, I could stay connected.

Thus, Part Time Novel was born (Writing between Living) targeting people who desired to write for a living but still had a day job, a family, and other joys of life. It is my desire to create a community of writers who are focused on encouraging one another on the treacherous road to publication.

If you are a writer who is honing the craft and need a bit of support please drop a line below. I would love to read your manuscript (for free) or do what I can to help you become a better writer and share what I have learned. Write well today and thanks for stopping by!

Cheers,

Bob

No More Excuses

As writers we could all use more time. I know I could. Time is my greatest ally and my deadliest foe. There never seems to be enough of it and I always need just a little bit more to complete my task.

So, below I have listed 4 ways to squeeze out some time to write. That way you and I can no longer have excuses and can stay focused on our tasks.

1. The grocery story. Silly I know, but bring your notebook with you everywhere and seize the opportunity. There are always little bits of time that, when strung together, equal that sizable chunk all writers long for.

2. Write during your lunch at work. I love socializing as much as the next person, but I have changed my lunch into a time to be productive. When do you relax then? Never. Remember your goal.

3. Take the last two hours of each day from 11-1 or 12-2 to write. At the end of a long day of work my bed seems like heaven. However, if I wait longer, how much more inviting will it be?

4. Get up at 5am to write. I have attempted this for the past few weeks and have been mildly successful. It has been an exhausting few weeks but I have made more progress than I’ve had in some time.

In the end, it all comes down to what you love. Does one night of watching the latest movie mean you will never finish a novel? No, of course not. But think of how much you could have gotten done during that two hours. So, evaluate your week, make a plan, set a goal and do whatever it takes to scrap together enough time to accomplish it.

Cheers,

Bob