Guest Bloggers

The Miracle of Language: Reminders from 50,000 Feet by Daniel Ari

Guest Blogger Daniel Ari talks about The Miracle of Language: Reminders from 50,000 Feet Chin. An alien from another galaxy encountering those four written characters or the sound we as English speakers make reading them would have no idea what we were writing or talking about. The markings or sounds alone would give the alien no inkling that they even possess a corresponding meaning in the physical world. We write using a complex system of symbols that are almost entirely abstracted from the physical phenomena they indicate. The alien might stand a chance at understanding spoken onomatopoeias, perhaps fetching a connection between the shouted words bang, boom or screech with the aural phenomena they represent. And perhaps the written article a might indicate to the alien the spirit of its meaning as something singular. Yet wouldn’t you be impressed with an alien that could intuit even those connections from our…

Just Write

The Kathy Myers “Book in a Box” Method (patent pending)

Guest Blogger Kathy Myers writes: Computers are great and all— without them, this blog wouldn’t exist and then what would I do? But when I was younger, my image of a writing life was less technical and more romantic: Jo in Little Women, writing her books in a drafty attic wearing fingerless gloves against the winter chill, or Jane Austen dipping her nib and contemplating her next chapter, while her parents plan a ball where she can meet eligible bachelors. Ah, the good old days. At a Jumpstart Writing Workshop in May, I wrote a fictional scene on the prompt “It happened because . . . ”  Marlene Cullen, always benevolent and encouraging to writers said, “That would be a good beginning for a romance novel.” Jumpstart was on hiatus for the month of June, and this coincided with a flirtation I’d been having about trying the fabled “sit-your-ass-in-a-chair-and-write-a–thousand-words-a-day” method…

Guest Bloggers

Guest Blogger Rebecca Lawton: conflict = bringing opposing forces to light

Rebecca Lawton writes about conflict . . . the kind writers want to have in their writing. Recently I read an article by a bestselling novelist who claimed she didn’t follow the well-worn advice to include conflict in story. “I hate conflict,” she wrote. “I don’t like to read it, and I don’t like to write it.” Wondering what techniques she did use to captivate her devoted followers, I turned to my bookshelf and opened one of her latest works to the first page. The initial paragraph set a sunny, peaceful scene in which couples and families strolled and played outdoors; the second paragraph described a situation only blocks away where a crowd was experiencing danger that had “turned their perfect Saturday into a nightmare.” Bingo. Conflict. The word is via the Latin conflictus, meaning contest. My good old Oxford English Dictionary describes conflict as “an incompatibility between two or…


Watershed moment . . . Prompt #57

This prompt is inspired by Ianthe Brautigan from her Writers Forum workshop. Draw a circle with radiating arms, ending in circles (see below). In the center circle, write a note about a watershed moment where nothing was the same after that: A pivotal moment. Write details on the radiating circles. Include as many circles as you want for details. Write into the questions  . . . how did this moment shape me? How did this affect the rest of my life? Use this prompt to spark a freewrite. When you are finished with freewriting on this prompt, if you keep a journal, use that for details to flesh out the story.

Guest Bloggers

Guest Blogger Nina Amir and writing goals

The following is from Nina Amir’s Blog, Write Nonfiction Now. Nina posts writing prompts on Fridays.  I really enjoyed Prompt #10 and thought you might like it, too. Create Book Ideas to Support Your Goals: Nonfiction Writing Prompt #10 by Nina Amir. If you want to write and publish books, the first step involves developing ideas. You may be a nonfiction writer with just one book idea or with many. However, if you have nonfiction writing goals, your book ideas should support your goals. I have many book ideas. Despite the fact that some of them really excite me, I have put quite a few on hold. I have them queued up in a logical order, one following the other so they help move me toward my goals. Sometimes those goals could be simple, such as get a traditional publishing deal. That may not sound “simple,” but, for example, I…

Book Reviews

Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch by Constance Hale

Guest Book Reviewer Kathy Myers nails a review of Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch: Let Verbs Power Your Writing. If a mousy English teacher yanked the hairpins out of her tight bun, slammed down a couple of boiler makers, and shimmied around the dance floor at a biker bar, she could blame it on the copy of “Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch” tucked in her Borders Book bag. Constance Hale stimulates writers to accentuate and resuscitate their sentences with better verbs—the “little despots” that dictate what happens in the sentence. But it’s not just about verbs; it’s about better writing. It’s about smashing bad habits, and flirting with new ones. It’s about the rich history of our mutt of a mother tongue, and appreciation of its ongoing evolution. And because “the antidote to anxiety is mastery” each chapter includes prompts to “try, do, write, and play”, and thus makes this a worthy…

Book Reviews

Sin and Syntax: How To Craft Wicked Good Prose by Constance Hale

Kathy Myers sits in the Book Reviewer seat today. Thank you, Kathy, for an excellent review of Sin and Syntax: How To Craft Wicked Good Prose by Constance Hale. A book with “sin” and “wicked” in the title is more apropos of a vampire romance, but Constance Hale excites the reader with her own personal passion for words— words in all their glory. She tackles topics that for centuries have induced narcolepsy among students such as: sentence structure, grammar, misplaced modifiers, or word choices, making them stimulating, arousing and well…downright sexy. She puts the sin in syntax indeed. Her chapters are organized like a Catholic autopsy: bones, flesh, cardinal sins, carnal pleasures, and a catechism. Her wealth of knowledge is shared with wit and brevity. Why have your character go into a “house,” when they can enter a bungalow, A Frame, adobe, Victorian, or a rancher? Why “walk” when they…