Heads-up!

Writing friends and I will be at the Local Author Showcase presented by Cumberland County Public Library in June. Join us, browse, talk to authors, and buy a book or two. We sign on request!  June 15, 2019. See you there!


Local Author Showcase

2:00 PM – 4:00 PM

Headquarters Library
Pate Room

Writers from the Sandhills region are participating in a Local Authors Showcase sponsored by the Friends of the Library, giving the community a chance to meet the authors and learn more about their books. The Headquarters Library long-standing writer’s group, Write On, Right Now (WORN), will also have an information table at the Showcase and will be available to talk to local authors about library resources available for indie authors.


 

A Writing School for Working People | Literary Hub

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via A Writing School for Working People | Literary Hub

Another article from Matt Grant that I wanted to share, one that I know he is excited about having written.

I’ve spent a good part of my life encouraging people to write. Writing can be profitable, but it is also good for stability, growth, and your soul. People need to feel the freedom to try their hand at it, to derive whatever benefit it gives them.

To see through writer Grant’s eyes how this school operates was both exciting and a balm to my own soul. Read it and see the good people can do.

Heads Up! It’s a Party!

coverpic011619Just wanted to announce the Off the Page Writing group is holding a Book Signing on February 8 from 7-9 pm for our newly-published anthology: The Mayors’ Tales: Stories from the Kyleighburn Archives.

You can learn more about the event at the Mackenzie Wilder/Classic Boat mysteries page.

In addition to reading from and signing the anthology, our writers will have their other books on hand for purchase and signing. If you’re in the neighborhood, please drop by.

Press Release: New Anthology

RJ MINNICK, December 15       MTbookCvr

I am pleased to announce that THE MAYOR’S TALES: Stories from the Kyleighburn Archives is now available at Amazon.com as well as from its participating authors.

I have been lucky enough to participate in a project with a terrific local writing group called Off the Page. At the formation of the group, we were taken with the idea of building a world and populating it with characters whose stories we would tell in an anthology.

As Editor, I was thrilled with how our writers drew on their skills to not only craft solid stories, but to grow their talents. Several of us worked outside our comfort zones. However, the stories, diverse as they are with romance, mystery, science fiction, and fantasy and from similarly diverse authors, build a picture of a small community in North Carolina that undergoes a mysterious event that permanently affects its future.

from the cover:

Welcome to Kyleighburn, North Carolina, (population 3,000). A labyrinthine cavern has suddenly opened up beneath sleepy little hamlet and what it reveals to the startled residents will affect the town and its residents forever. The huge complex is filled with weird glowing flowers and vines tended by a swarm of over-large bees. Where did this come from, and who will it affect? The answers are in the stories.Dip into the archives and read the stories of Kyleighburn, NC and its good citizens. There’s the mayor, Marino Esposito, a very unbureaucratic civil servant who seems perpetually at odds with The Mayor (always with a capital T.M.) who happens to be a canine. Tattooed and pierced and amnesiac, Joe the bartender doesn’t remember his past, and perhaps that why he seems so cheerful about his present. The town’s bubbling, vivacious librarian can’t follow her own rules, and a quiet handyman flutters the ladies’ hearts and confuses everyone with his lack of history.Each story from the archive casts Kyleighburn in fresh light, with tales from the ancient past to the bustling present, stories about love and family and war and cruelty, all tied in some way to the event that changes things forever.In what began as an exercise to see what they could do, writers from Off The Page built a world to share and people to live there. The authors then contributed unique stories, each from their own preferred genres. The result was more than they expected. In this book you will find science fiction, romance, history, comic humor, and mystery, all written in straight-forward fashion. The Mayor’s Tales: Stories from the Kyleighburn Archives is an achievement of dedication, talent, and enthusiasm. Everyone should be so lucky to have a Kyleighburn.

 

The Mayor’s Tales: Stories from the Kyleighburn Archives

An Off the Page Anthology

  • Paperback: 294 pages
  • Publisher: Independently published (December 15, 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1790966183
  • ISBN-13: 978-1790966189
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches

 

Be careful what you ask for…

So, yesterday I posted a little blurb I wrote for Remainder. In full flush of having posted it, I read it last night for my writing group. And, so, the pluses/minuses of being part of a writers group, and hence today’s title, be careful what you ask for.

Because I got the full brunt of their critique. To get right down to it, after setting ego aside, I saw the value of their criticisms. Here, after a bit more work and input from my closest critics, is the revised blurb.

If Wilson Parker better understood what he was taking on when he headed into Remainder, then the town’s future might not come down to a race between him and the son of a dying man.

As the war on terror builds, Wilson’s boss is building one of his infamous planned developments   to show ‘those terrorists’ how successful – and unafraid – America can be.

Encouraged by the eagerness of Ray Boone, who sees booze bottles next to the buyout’s dollar signs and Branden McKewen, who needs to move to New York City to help rebuild, salesman Parker expects property deals to go smoothly.  But success requires the cooperation of the landowners, and they are an independent if not eccentric bunch. As the push-and-pull continues, the life-paths of a dozen or more of Remainder’s residents change. For Wilson Parker and 13-year-old Ty Cummins in particular, this year changes everything.

 

Writing groups are great, and I’m glad I asked their opinion, however humbling an experience it was. I am happy I made the changes I did, as the blurb is both more specific and inclusive of better, more coherent detail. It also struck what I feel is the right note.

It’s a reminder to be willing to let go of our babies, and to consider criticisms respectfully leveled at our  work thoughtfully. I kept what I wanted for the new blurb, and discarded or re-worked the rest. It’s all in the name of making the writing better.

words

Show, Don’t Tell …

 

…What does that even mean?

The other night my son and I were discussing a Netflix show he was watching,  Altered Carbon, a new show classified as neo-noir. While some of it was good, he’d realized he had finally identified what wasn’t working for it.

First off, there was a lack of nuance in it. Emotionally-speaking there were no gray areas. Two things in the show’s world – religion and elitism – were written as bad, equally bad, with no mitigating circumstances for anything. This moral code seemed to come from the writers’ POV, rather than arising organically from the world they’d created. The show was okay, he said, but we agreed it had no place no place to go, no depth as it is currently conceived.

He did note, however, that the writing was quite good in some places, and that there were scenes where they did an excellent job of showing the story without a lot of exposition. Which, he said, is natural, because it’s visual media, not written.

Which brought us to the topic above.

By the time many writers realize they are serious about their art and write to actually get published, they are scurrying – rightfully – from workshop to conference to writers group for advice. Often-times in critiques they’ll be advised “And of course, always show, don’t tell” in a casual sort of way. Longtime writers forget that this short-hand expression they throw about is a trick phrase that new writers will nod their heads to without ever understanding how to do it. I’ve seen many a newbie struggle with the concept. Especially people who know how to communicate and are successful in other areas of their lives. They feel it can’t be anything too far beyond their reach. But ‘show don’t tell’  is not the obvious command veterans take it for.

So, I say, let’s dissect it.

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Good. I’m writing words for heaven’s sake. How do I show anything when I’m not using pictures?

Hello? Oh, it’s you.

Yes, it’s me. How the heck am I supposed to ‘show’ something when I’m writing? It’s letters, it’s words. It’s me telling you a story in your head. I can’t show you pictures. You read chapter books!

Calm down; you’re overheating. You’re right, of course. We’re using words, and readers usually do hear a voice in their heads, so  essentially we are telling them the whole thing. But you’ve heard of painting pictures with words, right? You can make people see pictures in their heads.

Huh?

I get the same response whether the listener is 8 or 68. If they  haven’t been writing for long, or more, if they haven’t read a book in a long time, people forget what it’s like. They think of the literal act of reading instead of the feeling of reading. Now, follow me here. If you read, say, a textbook, what happens?

I fall asleep.

No doubt you do. Processing information from a textbook is simply processing facts, information. There is no emotion to feel or environment to sense. The writer doesn’t much care whether you’re entertained or not, he or she just wants to make sure they give you all you need  to know. You, as a reader, are not trying to feel emotions of a conflicted hero or the broiling sun on his face, you are not trying to be a part of the person’s life. You are not trying to be in their picture. But in fiction, that is exactly what is happening. The writer  (a good writer) appeals to all your  senses to make you feel like you are in the middle of the story yourself.

The only way to do that is to convey the story by showing you what is happening, not just telling you.

All right, all right. HOW do you do that? How do you show, not tell?

You  – the writer – do it by getting out of the way of the reader. And, as our time is up for now, we’ll discuss this further next time.

Wait? What? Aaarghg! You can’t do this!

Well, – I  – nope. I’m on a  schedule. Next part, next time. But we’ll finish then, I promise.

Writing at the Write-In

I belong to a writers group – well, two, sort of.

This is the only writing group I’ve ever joined, and I’ve been lucky enough to find a group of people who care about writing, who are reasonable and kind in how they construct their criticism, and who are as eager to hear others’ work as they are to share their own.

I’ll write more about them periodically, but for today I’m writing about an event we have set up – twice, now – that has worked out pretty well for the participants. It’s a Write-In.

A Write-In is pretty much what it sounds like. People who are working on writing projects gather together in a common place and spend the day writing. There’s a fair amount of discussion and eating that goes on as well. Anything you are working on is fair game for the Write-In. It might be original material, revisions, galley proofs, even your blog or a little bit of PR (although that last is a bit of a stretch). The idea is to have all day devoted entirely to writing, with no personal or household distractions.

I sort of brought one household distraction with me. My  son belongs to the same writing group, a result of being a talented writer himself and of being used to hanging about with me while I coached writing in schools as he was growing up. Actually he’s good to have around; he’s an excellent critic and editor, and he has a humorous way of getting to the crux of a writing problem. Fact is, while critiquing is not a central part of a write-in, it’s good to be around people you can discuss your work with and work out particular problems. The sort of talk you can’t find at home or with colleagues from work. And everyone will understand when you cut discussion short, dash over to your keyboard and start typing.

Some write-ins get a little loud and social, especially when the food comes out. Some are held in public places like libraries or coffee shops, and some are held at a fellow writer’s house. It’s a group’s own little writers’ retreat. No matter how famous you are or not or wherever you are on your writing journey, write-ins provide a great opportunity to focus on your work and add to your word count. Try  it, and let me know how it goes.

 

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