Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Notes on February Meetings

I've put editing on hold while one person reads my book and lets me know what she thinks. I caught myself going over it to edit again after I gave it to her and decided I needed to relax and let it float around in my head a bit and wait to see what she thinks. We'll see how long I last with that thought process, though.

In the meantime, I'm working on some short stories for submission and maybe some contests to see if I can get out there. I'm excited to have an upcoming short-short on a local author's blog on the 20th. Until then, check out her blog and enjoy: http://networkedblogs.com/f7aRv (Also, check out her website: http://www.jakazimer.com.)

I've found the writer's groups and associated events such an inspiration that I thought I would put a little note on here for each one. I did miss the February Write Brain, but I was able to attend a great Pen Women meeting and a writer's night at Rico's.

The Pen Women meeting was about writing memoirs. Colorado author Carol Caverly, writer of the Thea Barlow mysteries (bio can be found on this page: http://ppb-nlapw.org/biographies.php), gave us some great pointers on writing memoirs, though her tips applied to writing of any sort. What it boiled down to was that a memoir is still a story. You have to tell the story and entertain the reader.

She advised us to ascertain the goal in the writing of the memoir first. Figure out who the audience is and why you're writing it. After that, she went over the basic story structure, which is valid for fiction, as well: Goal, Motivation, Action. These items lead to further actions, the conclusion and, finally, the denouement.

We were given an exercise that involved the article "Memory of a GI's Christmas Gift." If you haven't read that article, it's a wonderful and heartwarming read.

The next part involved creating an emotional moment in your story(ies), which involves something happening to the character, the impact, them overcoming it and then being recognized for it. One example Carol gave us was the scene in "Pretty Woman" when Vivian returns to the shop where snobby saleswomen had snubbed her, arms full of bags from other stores and tells them "Big mistake, Big."

She also gave us pointers on a few things to avoid in your writing. These include verbs of being (is, are, was, were), the word not when describing something (not clean vs. dirty) and weak words that are used far too often. She then gave us an exercise to write without using various weak words. For instance, try to describe a delectable meal without using the word "delicious."

Carol was a great speaker, and I learned a lot, despite the fact that I have no intention of writing a memoir (at least not any time soon). It did inspire me to look at possibly writing memoirs about family members, likely just for other family members. That's in the future, though.

The most exciting part: I won Carol Caverly's "Frogskin and Muttonfat," which is next on my reading list.

The Pikes Peak Writer's event I attended was a monthly meeting at Rico's in downtown Colorado Springs. It occurs the fourth Monday of each month, and is hosted by Deb Courtney. The next one will be March 28, from 6:30-8:30pm. You can find information on this event, open to anyone, here: http://www.pikespeakwriters.com/html/writers_night.html

How this evening works is people show up and can ask about anything they want. Aside from Deb Courtney, there were several other published authors there, and all were willing to answer questions. Some even had questions of their own. I've mentioned before how supportive the writing community is, and this evening was a perfect example of this. Laymen could offer advice to published authors and vice versa.

One great thing about this was that we were all seated around a table. It was comfortable, you didn't have to be put on the spot, and it was somewhat intimate. No one had to shout to be heard. No one had to raise their hand to be called upon. It was a round table discussion. I was really nervous going into it for my first time, but it was quite easy on me, even though I was late.

On a side note, Rico's has great food, coffee, and an iced tea bar that includes decaffeinated teas, which I have a hard time finding elsewhere. It's worth a visit: http://www.poorrichards.biz/

As far as the Write Brain event I missed, my husband was out of town and I've got kiddos who needed to be in bed for school the next day (one of them, anyway), so I was unable to make it. However, I was able to read about it here: http://pikespeakwriters.blogspot.com/2011/03/writebrain-report-action-write-better.html

That blog is great to peruse at other times, as well.

There is no in-person Write Brain this month, but one can listen to it on the Pikes Peak Writer's website here: http://www.pikespeakwriters.com/html/write_brains.html

You will also find a March workshop listed which, regrettably, I cannot attend, though I'd love to. So attend it for me and let me know about it, would ya'? Anyone? It is about novel beginnings and endings, which are pretty important, if you ask me. It is only $30, and is especially great if you cannot make the larger conference occurring about two months from now.

I think that pretty much covers what I wanted to say tonight. Check out the links I posted and you'll find some great information (and entertainment). The more you get out there, the more informed you become, and the more productive you may be. It's a great thing.

P.S. I created a Facebook page for the Pikes Peak Branch of the National League of American Pen Women. Check it out and hit "like" if you'd like to hear about contests and events. http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Pikes-Peak-Branch-of-the-National-League-of-American-Pen-Women-Inc/132317990169789

Once it has 25 "likes," I can get a shortened username for it, which will make posts like this one much easier to deal with.

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