Reading · Writing

Saturday Summation – 24 June 2017

Bits and pieces of things that caught my eye not only for my own interest, but enough to want to share with you, too…

Reading Stuff:

The more authors I follow on -Twitter or blogs or wherever- who are part of marginalized populations, the more access I get to their books – and that has been a great way to expand my reading repertoire to include some fantastic books. I work in two elementary schools alongside media directors/specialists, and one thing I’ve discovered is that unless it happens to win an award, these kinds of books do not make it into librarians’ sight lines. “We often see the same books on bookstore and library shelves that we see reviews of in major publications, and these might be the same books our friends and teachers are buzzing about, too” is what Alaina Leary says in her post about supporting the diverse books movement. And what this is really saying, is that books by authors from marginalized populations are not in these echo chambers. I appreciate her post on the different ways we can do this. As an add-on, I will put in a plug for the writing organization I am a member of – Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA) and their open-to-the-public “Many Voices of Women’s Fiction Book Club” – usually at least two books are featured, and you can discuss them within the FB venue like you would in a face-to-face book club. Plus, book giveaways! I happily won Jacqueline Woodson’s Another Brooklyn from the last meeting. June 28 will have us discussion The Moon in the Palace by Weina Dai Randel and The Thunder Beneath Us by Nicole Blades.

File this one under “patient perseverance”: if you’ve been wondering when a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure story would hit the video format, Netflix now has it. Let’s go check it out this weekend:

Writing Stuff:

I’m not a big superhero or comic book movie person, but I was more than willing to go see Wonder Woman with my family. Have you heard about the “No Man’s Land” scene? I all out cried during that scene. Seeing a woman out there, defending that stronghold? So so powerful. I’ve seen a few (and really only a very few) talk of the movie’s cheesiness, but I really like what Vaughn Roycroft has to say in this post about it actually being sincerity, not cheesiness and how really, this is exactly what we need in our world right now.

Don’t want to spend money on a master’s degree? That’s okay, Brian Rashid thinks writing a book is just as good. He’s not entirely wrong… if you are doing your research right, you can definitely become an expert (and we’re talking non-fiction here, of course), but points 2-5? Can’t say I really agree with any of them, to be honest. On the other hand, it does take perseverance to write a whole book. Hm. Thoughts?

As someone who writes non-linearly and therefore thinks in terms of scenes rather than following a guideline through a plot, I can appreciate some of the points Chuck Wendig makes in this post about “how to write a scene”. One of the things he mentions is “As with the story, start the scene as late as you can.” And, as Wendig clarifies, without always confusing your reader. The first line of each scene needn’t be like the first line of a book – ie, it doesn’t have to pull you into it in the same way, but the reader only needs to be grounded enough in the “who” and “where” in order to delve into the mysterious “why” of the scene.

A couple of days before I read this post by Heather Webb I was feeling – well, I don’t know if optimistic is exactly the right word for it, but at least motivated again for one of my current writing projects. And then the next day I slumped down into the dungeon of despair. My nephew posted something about personal failure and I remembered how I am with him – how we handle it is always more important than the failure itself. And then, Webb’s post came along and I see myself in a lot of it. This isn’t the first time I’ve talked or shared about this kind of thing, and it definitely won’t be the last… because the reminder is always necessary.

Emotion is key for drawing us into most stories. Some don’t care as much about this characterization and really just like the procedural novel, but for all else – feeling what a  character is feeling is what gets us lost in a story. Angela Ackerman’s post about ways to show these emotions is fantastic. So many physical and authentic avenues to pursue. As I’ve developed my craft, this is where I’ve spent most of my time.

This post from author Karen Strong is perfect for looking inside my own head when it comes to both the drafting and revising process. Things like “I’ve been scared to write anything new” during late revisions feels spot on sometimes. Anyway, it’s another form of support to know successful writers encounter this same thing and validates some of my thoughts and journal entries, too.

Song of the Week:

I’ve been hearing Ed Sheeran’s “Castle on the Hill” a lot recently on the radio and I like it pretty well. I mean, he’s young and still has lines like this in his songs:

Me and my friends have not thrown up in so long, oh how we’ve grown (Bless.)

But I kind of love this song just for the honesty of these lines:

Had my first kiss on a Friday night, I don’t reckon that I did it right

But I was younger then, take me back to when


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