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caution signOnce again, paranormal romance author Jami Gold has posted some terrific tips for fellow writers. This time she tackles story flow at the sentence/paragraph level, where it often goes undetected by authors. A writer’s knowledge of the story tends to neutralize the jarring effects of small cause-effect reversals before the brain even registers them. Jami offers some practical ways to bring them to our attention.

The post (Cause and Effect: Understanding Story Flow) does a nice job of explaining how and why small speed bumps in our writing can have an undesired effect on readers. It then outlines a handful of techniques for locating potential speed bumps in our work. Best of all, the post discusses how selectively breaking the rules, with intent, can expand our writer’s toolbox.

This Thursday 9 October, past ECWG member Jesse Sisken will speak at the Tates Creek Library in Lexington about writing and publishing his novel, Cavanila’s Choices, the first in his Minoan Gold Trilogy. The program will begin at 6:00 p.m. Call 859-231-5500 to register.

On Saturday 18 October, ECWG member Christopher Kelder will take part in the second annual Local Kentucky Author Book Bazaar at Bakery Blessings & Books, 1999 Harrodsburg Road in Lexington. The event, which runs from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., features authors reading as well as signing and selling their books.

ECWG facilitator Jennifer Barricklow will lead a pair of writing workshops at two Lexington Public Library locations this week. The first will be held at the Eagle Creek Library on Wednesday 9 October, from 6:30-8:30 p.m.; the second will be held at the Central Library on Saturday 11 October, from 10:00 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Both hands-on workshops will explore using tarot (and other pictorial systems) as a tool for writing. Neither workshop is a requisite for the other. The second workshop will feature different techniques from the first and will allow more time for writing and practice. Call 859-231-5500 to register.

business card graphicThis Saturday, August 23, two ECWG members will be at book signings in the area.

Evelyn Christensen will be at the Morris Book Shop in Lexington along with other local authors of children’s books. The event begins at 2:00 p.m. and will include readings, storytelling, and games as well as book signing by the authors.

Charlie Roe will be at the Paul Sawyier Public Library in Frankfort as part of the seventh annual Gathering of Authors from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Writers from across the Commonwealth will be there to talk with readers and other writers as well as to sell and sign their books.

Take some time on Saturday to stop by one or both of these events and say hello!

Paranormal romance author Jami Gold’s blog (http://jamigold.com/blog/) is chock-full of great ideas and tools for writers. Her latest post on beta reading (Introducing the Beta Reading Worksheet!) offers tips that apply to critique groups as well. She lists a number of phrases that can help shape feedback into something both concrete and useful to the author. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • I don’t understand….
  • The detail seems….
  • The (character, setting, etc.) comes across as (feisty, depressing, important, etc.)
  • This (detail, phrase, etc.) conveys (irritation, happiness, etc.)
  • It’s not clear how (Sally got to the store, John sawed down the tree, etc.)
  • I would expect a character (with such and such a trait) to do/not do (such and such)
  • I’m confused about (what happens here, this character’s motivation, etc.)
  • I really liked…. *it’s very important to identify strengths!*

She specifically notes that “why” questions tend to bring out defensive responses. For that matter, questions of any kind encourage dialogue with the author, which isn’t the objective in a critique group. The author needs to be able to hear everything the group has to say, and answering questions takes us out of a listening mindset.

The post includes a worksheet that could be used by writers returning to their work for revision as well as by beta readers. Accompanying the worksheet is perhaps the most useful advice for any writer to keep in mind: take what works and don’t worry about the rest.

announcement-smallFor those of you who write in a flash, Lexington’s Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning is holding a flash fiction contest. The deadline is Monday, July 21, so you need to get a move on! The contest will be adjudicated, there is a reading fee, and monetary prizes will be awarded. Submission is via hard copy. For more details, visit http://carnegiecenterlex.org/event/writing-contest-opportunities/.

 

Writers who have lived in Kentucky (either past or present) or who use Kentucky as subject matter should check out Kentucky Monthly‘s 7th annual writing showcase, Penned 2014. Reprints are allowed; electronic submission is preferred. Detailed guidelines are available at http://www.kentuckymonthly.com/magazine/news-contests/literary-contest/.

(Thanks to ECWG member Chris Kelder for alerting us to these great opportunities!)

During the June meeting, ECWG member Michael Walborn shared some of what he learned at a recent writing conference. He has written the following so that those who weren’t at the meeting can also benefit from his experience. Thanks, Michael!

As an aspiring writer, constantly learning, I hungered to find the answers to questions I had not even thought to ask. My solution: Attend a writer’s conference, May 1-4, in Oklahoma City. Embassy Suites was to be the site of a writer takeover — an entire hotel, with the interior courtyard lined with tables for agents, publishers, and editors for writers to sell their wares. The information available on writing was tremendous, the learning experience excellent.

Upon signing up for the conference, one of the best things available was the opportunity for an experienced editor to read my manuscript and present her findings. During the next four days, in any of the five conference rooms writers like me could pick whichever workshop they wanted to attend. Workshops ranged from “How to compete with the big publishers” to “How to conduct a murder,” with times available to pitch your manuscript to agents and publishers. I selected a number of different workshops and targeted my information download for the Indie or Independent (Self) Publishing route.

How to Compete with the Big Publishers (Jerry Simmons) - Publishers operate under the strict premise of running five to ten thousand copies of a given book for the year in order to generate profit. Independent authors, however, are not bound to such a large printing constraints. Any advance that a signed author receives will be held against the copies not sold. In short, you the author have to pay back money for copies that did not sell. Indie authors should take advantage of big publisher weaknesses in the following areas:

  •  Don’t be afraid to give away free stuff: Your books, etc. Develop your audience.
  •  Use regional markets: Smaller newspapers, smaller radio-stations.
  •  Use regional publishers… Stay out of the big markets.
  •  React quickly to business trends – You the indie author can print 50 copies.
  •  Your book cover should be top notch – Use: E-lance.com & Odesk.com.
  •  Don’t forget digital copies/Ebooks – You keep your rights, too.

Choosing to Self-Publish… Now What? (Darlene Shortridge) – I had my manuscript, albeit bled all over in red ink by the editor, but once my masterpiece had been corrected what then? The workshop with Mrs. Shortridge was filled with superb information:

  •  Editing: Get an editor – if not, you’re just journaling.
  •  Marketing: Best weekend to start with your book – Mother’s Day.
  •  Smashwords: Excellent source for marketing your book. Allow them to distribute.
  •  Layout (of your book series): Put the first chapter to your second book at the end of your first book.
  •  Formatting: Digital/Ebook formatting done for free by CreateSpace/Smashwords.
  •  About Author: Be sure to put information about you in your book.
  •  Business Basics: Copyright with Library of Congress $35.00.
  •  Godaddy.com: Reserve the websites to your would-be titles and your name.
  •  Public Speaking: Do not require a fee to talk to groups; simply ask for a book table at the back of the room.

Your Fantastical Science Fiction or Young Adult Setting (Tara Hudson) – Mrs. Hudson’s talent in writing and ability to relate information was unparalleled at this writer’s conference. Her information was all about creating a “Bible” of information on the setting of the fictional world to be utilized:

  •  Create Characters: Know how they look. Know something about them your readers will never know.
  •  Layout the physics of your universe, before-hand.
  •  Real-Settings: If you use real settings; go there!
  •  Every character in your book must have at least one sentence describing them.

Odds ‘N’ Ends: Other useful pieces of information I obtained with no real category:

  •  From the editors – If you get writer’s block, “Kill someone… Kill that character off in your book.”
  •  Draft2Digital.com – Awesome book publishing service. They make 10% profit (You make the rest). They will convert it to digital copy as well.

Now that you have a ton of useful information; get cracking on that manuscript. I hope the information I ran across at the writer’s conference will be useful. Keep in mind many of these writers and experts I met were very approachable and offered a plethora of advice once asked. Consider too, that those who attend a writer’s conference you may spend one-one time with an experienced author or publisher; by inviting them to lunch or dinner, you can glean whatever information you need. This is the perfect time to be around like-minded people whose goal is to create written works and establish networks of writers, agents, and publishers. I would encourage you to take at least one opportunity to attend a writer’s conference.

This Saturday, May 31st, from 9-12:00, ECWG member Evelyn Christensen will be at the Homegrown Authors booth at the Lexington Farmer’s Market on Main Street selling/signing (hopefully) her Kentucky Puzzles and other books. She’d love to see any of you who might there.

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