My Year in Writing

Posted on December 29, 2014. Filed under: Short Stories, storytelling, writing | Tags: , , , , |

When thinking about this past year in writing, I find that I can’t decide if I am a glass is half full or half empty kind of a person. Generally, in life, I tend to look at all angles. So, was it a good year? Yes. Could it have been better? Most definitely. Could it have been worse? Certainly.

For the sake of limiting my word count – so many words to write, but I need to save them for my novel – I am going to focus on the positive.

My storytelling troupe, Better Said Than Done, put on 11 storytelling shows in Northern Virginia. We were once again voted the “Best Performing Arts Company in NoVa” by Virginia Living Magazine. The attendance at the May show was somewhat disappointing, but every other show this year was packed, and all the storytellers were great. I personally told 9 stories, 8 of them at Better Said Than Done events – all true, personal, and new. It has been fantastic to watch the audience for storytelling in Virginia grow and grow and I look forward to our 2015 shows – just not so much to coming up with 9 more new stories.

The year of novel writing started out with me taking a fantastic workshop called “Publishing Your Manuscript.” I learned a lot about writing a query letter, finding an agent, and getting my manuscript publish ready. There’s another class in January, 2015. I cannot recommend it enough if you are working on a novel, a memoir, or any other book you’d like to one day see published. Here’s info on it:
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Reality TV Spoiler Alert

Posted on January 22, 2014. Filed under: writing | Tags: , , , , , |

I am writing what I like to think of as an action/thriller and what people who have read my pages thus far like to refer to as a horror novel. I think it comes off as horror since I keep gruesomely killing off characters, wherein lies the problem.

Killing off a character reads a lot better if the reader cares when a character dies.  Since I want this book to be exciting, with thrills in each chapter, I have had to kill off some characters fairly early on.  What to do to make it so those characters did not die in vain? This is where reality TV comes in.

I enjoy competition shows like Top Chef and Project Runway. Unfortunately for me, I am rarely ever surprised at the end of the show when one chef or designer gets sent home. That’s because there is a formula, at least for the first 8 – 12 episodes of a season.

SPOILER ALERT: If you have not figured out the formula, do not read on. Seriously, this will ruin competition reality TV for you.

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What I Learned from Sharp Objects

Posted on June 16, 2013. Filed under: Books | Tags: , , , , , |

I have been confined to my bed. It sounds so romantic when you say it that way. Better than “bed rest,” in any case.  And, in truth, thankfully, they have recently given me permission to do things like sit up, so it’s more like chair rest.

Still, for the sake of the monster growing in my belly, I am supposed to take it easy, which means I get to do a little summer reading, a couple weeks early.

I figured I would try to find a few good books that may be similar in style or content to the novel I am trying to finish.  I had heard a lot of good things about “Gone Girl,” which seems to be this season’s “Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” but when I went to buy it on Amazon, I liked the premise of “Sharp Objects” better, so got that one instead.

I was very happy with the book – which took me about 3 bed rest days to read. I am not about to write a review of it other than to say it moved at a quick pace, kept me interested, and I liked and sympathized with the main character.

What was great for me, personally, was to see how much detail and information Gillian Flynn included about location and character in each chapter.  My critics – meaning friends who are reading my chapters for me – keep telling me that my novel is moving too quickly, that they need me to give them more information about the characters, about the world I am creating.  And I keep balking. I am writing an action/thriller after all.  It should move quickly.  I don’t want to slow it down or bore people with too much information.

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On A Roll, like the Ravens

Posted on February 20, 2013. Filed under: writing | Tags: , , , , , |

Shocking, I know, but I am not much of a sports fan. It’s not that I don’t enjoy watching games – I just don’t care who wins. So please don’t take this personally if you are a 49ers fan.

I watched the Super Bowl this year, like a few other Americans, and found it one of the best games I’d seen in decades. Considering the Super Bowl is pretty much the only game I watch every year, I had to go back a long way.

It was very clear that the Ravens were on a roll. They were winning through most of the first half and then, at the start of the second, it became obvious that there was no way the 49ers could recover. And then the power went out.

I have heard a lot of people say that if the Ravens lost, they would have blamed it on the power outage. (I am guessing from the jokes I’ve heard that they have a reputation for placing blame?) But after the power came back on, all I kept thinking was, if the Ravens lose, it would be due to the power outage. They had been on a roll, going forward with nothing to stop them, and then bam, their roll was broken.

Last year, there were a few months that I found myself on a roll. I wrote chapter after chapter and was really happy with the work I was producing and then bam, the holidays hit. For me, it was a combination of having a ton of end of the year work, having to travel all over for family, and having to “do” the holidays – parties, shopping, cooking, etc.

This year, it’s been hard for me to regain my stride. I lost it. It was like the power went out and I had to start all over.

Last week, I got on what I hope is a roll. I started doing some serious work on my novel again. I accomplished all the pages I wanted to get done, all the edits I wanted to get done, and figured out some upcoming plot points. It felt good. Hopefully, it will keep flowing again and I won’t hit another bam in the road before I get through the next ten or fifteen chapters to get this book to where it needs to be.

In writing, like in sports, or in many other occupations, it really helps to have momentum. Here’s hoping I can keep going forward with nothing to stop me.

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