Friday, November 26, 2010

Deepak Chopra: Just "be"

We are coming to the end of a very eventful year that presented most of us with many challenges. Christmas will be here soon and after the end of the month, the new year will begin. Every once and a while I like to just sit, reflect and maybe do a bit of meditation.  In other words...just "be."  I thought today might be a good time to remind myself of that. I found this video on that very concept and thought maybe others might enjoy it too.

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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Top ten lessons I learned about writing good fiction

Guest post by author Judith Marshall

Judith Marshall is a third generation native Californian, born in St. Helena and raised in Concord. After leaving a successful career in corporate America as a human resources executive, her lifelong dream of writing fiction was realized with the completion of Husbands May Come and Go but Friends are Forever, winner of the Jack London Prize awarded by the California Writers Club and recently optioned for the big screen.

She is currently working on her second novel, Staying Afloat, the story of a devoted stay-at-home wife and mother who morphs into a sex-starved adulteress. She lives in Northern California with her husband. For more information, go to

Top Ten things to remember when writing fiction

  • Always begin with your protagonist – readers need to know who to root for
  • Start with action – lock in your readers upfront
  • Be visual in your approach – let readers “see” your story (this helped get my novel optioned for the big screen!)
  • Limit your descriptive words – make each one count
  • Don’t forget the senses – smell, touch, sight, etc.
  • Write only scenes that either enrich character, provide necessary information, or move the plot forward; or better yet, do all three
  • Rely on dialogue - readers rarely skip dialogue
  • Have your character do something while thinking – driving a car, washing dishes, combing a child’s hair
  • Use similes for style
  • When in doubt, leave it out!
Husbands May Come and Go but Friends are Forever, a first novel by Judith Marshall, is a winner of the Jack London Prize awarded by the California Writers Club and recently optioned for the big screen.

Set in a small town in Northern California, in the spring of 2000 when the dot-com boom was at its peak, the story centers around Elizabeth Reilly-Hayden, a successful executive in her late fifties and a divorced mother of two. Emotionally armored and living alone, she wants only to maintain the status quo: her long-term significant other, her job and her trusted friends— five feisty women who first met in high school. Yet in a matter of days, the three anchors that have kept her moored are ripped away. The group of lifelong pals gathers at Lake Tahoe to attend to the funeral arrangements of their beloved friend, and tries to unravel the mystery of her death. Through their shared tragedy, Liz learns how disappointment and grief can bloom into healing and hope.___


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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

NaNoWriMo is here again

This month is NaNoWriMo month. For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, NaNoWriMo is an acronym for: National Novel Writing Month. It's the month when thousands of writers attempt to write a 50,000 word novel in one month. Gulp! In one month?

I am not a fiction writer, and even if I were, I might not try this. On the other hand, I just might. I've gotten involved in these kinds of contests before that forced the writer to produce something every day for a period of time. And, actually, it was a good thing...not just for the end product but for the process. It's amazing how it pushes you into a "zone" and you just want to keep on writing.

Anyhow I've been curious as to how other writer's see this contest or approach it. I've collected several reactions from writers who are taking on the challenge. Here is the first one. Read and learn................Nancy
Guest post by Julianne McCullagh

View Julianne's Blog
"...the NaNoWriMo process ...[has] helped me recognize where I should be headed with my novel "Hey, Don't I Know You"

I’ve just had a revelation. No angels or skies opening up. (That would have been cool, though.) Just a regular ordinary revelation. A recognition. Yeah, I like that word– recognition. Like you’ve met somewhere before, and you realize, oh, that’s right. That’s what I’ve been waiting for.

This is the beginning of week 2 of NaNoWriMo– National Novel Writing Month. I started out amazingly well, for me. I am a slow writer. I dally. I dilly. I dilly-dally around words, around thoughts, around characters. That’s okay. All writers have their own style and pace.

All last week while I was trying to get my daily production of about 1700 words a day on-screen, I realized that no matter how I tried to steer the work, I kept coming back to the same themes and characters I’ve been working on in my novel-in-progress. I have about 23,000 words that I’m relatively pleased with (countless words of notes and trial and error and scenes that went nowhere), so, I thought, I’ll cheat.

NaNoWriMo is supposed to be 50,000 new words churned out with the internal editor away on vacation, too far away to interfere with the writer who’s hiding behind the censor. My editor/censor doesn’t take vacations. My censor like to work. What a pain.

But, that’s where I am. So be it. I can still try to shake up my censor and get one over on her once in a while. Like, this morning. I was so sure I had my first chapter written and the novel would proceed from the themes I set up in that chapter. But, I was stuck. Which is one of the reasons I started the NaNo process. I want to become unstuck. Free those words and ideas that the censor has cowering in the corner with the threat of being sent to the principal’s office if they squawk.

They squawked. The principal was kinder than the censor. HaHa!

Here’s how the revelation/recognition happened. Gene transferred my NANo words to Scrivener. Scrivener is this fairly new tool for writers that is supposed to be easier and more intuitive. This morning I was looking at this new creature and I could not find the last chapter I had written. So I summoned it from my Word files. I re-read it. I liked it. And then, (drum roll, please) I recognized that this chapter should be the first chapter because it introduces themes and characters that play out in the rest of the work.

So, thank you NaNoWriMo, for jiggling loose some thoughts that might have stayed in the wrong place if I hadn’t taken your challenge, and then modified your challenge to my own purposes. It’s good to recognize a friend you’ve met for the first time.

Rules of contest
  • Write a 50,000-word (or longer!) novel, between November 1 and November 30.
  • Start from scratch. None of your own previously written prose can be included in your NaNoWriMo draft (though outlines, character sketches, and research are all fine, as are citations from other people's works).
  • Write a novel. We define a novel as a lengthy work of fiction. If you consider the book you're writing a novel, we consider it a novel too!
  • Be the sole author of your novel. Apart from those citations mentioned two bullet-points up.
  • Write more than one word repeated 50,000 times.
  • Upload your novel for word-count validation to our site between November 25 and November 30.
Sponsers: Amazon, Createspace, Scrivener, Storyist, Scribendi, ThinkGeek and thousands of individual donors.
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