Category Archives: Mostly About Reading

Sue Harrison’s “Writing the Third Dimension” – part 24: Way up High in the Sky

Welcome back! Over the next several more months we invite you to return here, specifically on the fourth Thursday of each month for the newest installment of Sue Harrison’s teaching: Writing The Third Dimension. You can read all the segments by clicking on the page title WRITING THE THIRD DIMENSION, found under Writers’ Helps & Workshops on the drop-down menu. Please feel free to ask questions and leave comments for Sue. Now for the topic for month twenty-four:

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“Writing the Third Dimension” – part 24: Way up High in the Sky

When my husband graduated from college, we decided to celebrate with a trip to the Rocky Mountains. As we drove west across the plains, we scanned the edge of the horizon for those fabled peaks, but mile after mile, no matter how carefully we looked, we couldn’t see any mountains. We did notice a hazy jagged band of white clouds, but we ignored them, until we finally realized that they weren’t clouds at all. They were the snow-capped peaks of the Rockies, not at the horizon as we had envisioned, but way up high in the sky. We were amazed!

800px-Mount_Massive (Photo by Rick Kimpel Jr., Common Domain)

As you know, mountain peaks and valleys are often used as a metaphor for the plot line of a story. When your readers approach the high climax of your novel, you want them to catch that same feeling of awe that Neil and I experienced when we first saw the Rocky Mountains. From chapter one, page one, you have guided your readers toward a moment of emotional intensity: joy or heartache or amazement or happiness or fulfillment. Carrying your readers to that high level requires a bit of magic beyond my ability to explain, but I hope the following tips help as you work to achieve that goal.

1. Your reader will not be lifted to a climactic level of emotion unless the character they love most or hate most is experiencing a similar emotional high or emotional release.

2. You need to ramp up the intensity of your novel through the rhythm of your words and the length of your sentences and paragraphs. (You might want to review Writing the Third Dimension #18, Tension.)

3. For the primary climax of  your novel, you should narrow your focus to the main plot line and the main characters.

4. The climax is not something tacked on or patched in, it’s the natural fulfillment of the plot line.

5.  And of course, you show, don’t tell. Nothing breaks the rise of emotion like a short, pat sentence as a substitute for action. “He released his anger.” “She would love him forever.” “The butler did it.”  ARGH! NO! Don’t tell me. Give me an action scene. Please…

I’ve had two very separate experiences when writing the climax of a novel. Usually, the words just flow, and the first draft, although not perfect, is better than I had hoped. But sometimes I have to write the climax again and again and again. How do I know when it’s right? It makes me smile, and it makes me cry. What better place for a writer to be than way up high in the sky, standing on top of the world, ready to give his or her readers the gift of tears, the gift of a smile?

Strength to your pen!

Sue

*Writing the Third Dimension, copyright, 2010 Sue Harrison*

Sue HarrisonBestselling author, Sue Harrison, has written two bestselling Alaska trilogies: The Ivory Carver Trilogy and The Storyteller Trilogy – all of which went digital in May 2013. She also wrote a middle readers’ book SISU. Prior to the publication of her novels, Harrison was employed at Lake Superior State University as a writer and acting director of the Public Relations Department and as an adjunct instructor in creative writing and advanced creative writing. For more information, click here. To inquire about booking Sue for workshops or speaking engagements this year, click here.

Thanks for joining us! Please feel free to leave your questions and comments. We invite you to come back February 26, 2015, for part 25.

My word is Positivity!

I seem to be getting off to a slow start with my blogging this year, but I have ideas for making a few changes here although nothing is completely sorted out yet. Tonight I’m just going to share some thoughts with you.

On Friday I learned of the sudden passing of a cousin on January 6. It was unexpected news; he was only 65. I didn’t know him very well because he was very quiet and so shy. Any time we met at some gathering – the last being after a funeral a few months ago – we didn’t have much to say to one another, likely because we both felt a little shy. He was a really nice man who usually had a little grin and a twinkle in his eyes. Ever wish you had taken more time to talk with someone?

As I was writing the rough draft for this post (something I rarely do, but I wasn’t near my computer when these thoughts were coming to me) I was sitting in my living-room and occasionally gazing out the window. At one point an eagle came into view, soaring on the breeze. How magnificent those birds are, able to rise above it all and look at everything from a higher perspective. From that distance any situation looks small and manageable, meaning nothing can overwhelm when below and far away. We all need to see things that way, from a bit of a distance so that we don’t become overwhelmed by them. I do tend to get overwhelmed when I look at the big picture and must remind myself to take it one piece at a time.

There are many things I want to do this year, or make as much progress in as I can. One thing I decided is to read the Bible through again, having done so only twice in my life. I feel it’s time again. I’ve procrastinated but on Friday (Jan. 9) I felt I had to read the book of Micah (in Old Testament), a reminder of the times we are in even now. After reading Micah I found a schedule for reading the Bible in a year. The first time I used a devotional guide to take me through and read Old Testament and New Testament scriptures each day until finishing all 66 books; the second time I read from Genesis through Revelation in the order they are found in the Bible. This time I’ll be reading it in chronological order. I’m late starting so yesterday was day one for me and I hope/determine to stay with it.

  • Day one: January 10 – Genesis 1-3
  • Day two: January 11 – Genesis 4-7
  • tomorrow is Day three for me: January 12 – Genesis 8-11

Do you want to do this reading challenge with me? If you’d like to see the plan I’m using go to Bible Study Tools and click on Read, then select Reading Plans. You can choose among several schedules to read the Bible in one year, but there are other choices as well. I hope you will let me know if you decide to try any of them.

I am also praying and hoping for a writing partner or group to help me get (and stay) on track with my writing, and someone I can encourage in kind. I’m very choosy and particular, so I’ll let you know what comes of that.

Again this year I’ve seen where people have started their new year with a word. They either select a word they want to live by or they prayerfully wait for the word the Lord places on their heart for this year. It seems the word for me this year is POSITIVITY. It seems a rather odd word, but for me it relates to thinking positive thoughts, not allowing depression and discouragement to rob me, and to stay in forward motion with my goals. I also believe there is a Scripture that goes with it for me, and interestingly it’s one I posted in my blog December 31’14. This verse leaves no room for negative thinking and pity parties!

Philippians 4: Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honorable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. 

That’s all for this time. Tomorrow (Monday) I need to do some tidying up here on my blog.

I forgot to ask: Do you have a word for this year?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)

 

My 2014 blogging in review

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

In looking back over 2014 there are many things I was reminded of that occurred both here and in my personal life — some of the latter I shared here. Here’s a condensed review followed by my annual report compiled by WordPress.com.

1. I posted the final weeks of “Read More Books Challenge” run on my blog through October 3, 2013 to January 9, 2014. My challenge got a few people reading more classics and reminded us of the many great books we have yet to enjoy.  I’m still trying to read from that great list of 623 books. Are you?

2. We were privileged to have Sue Harrison continue to post teachings from her “Writing the Third Dimension” each month. (Thanks, Sue!) Has this been helpful for you?

3. I interviewed 6 authors during the year and reviewed 46 books on my blog. I also posted those reviews on Amazon.ca, Amazon.com, chapters.indigo, LibraryThing, BookLook Bloggers, Shelfari, Goodreads.

4. In June I shared my 10 tips for authors from the perspective of a book reviewer.

5. In July I was interviewed on Leanne Dyck’s blog. She is discontinuing interviewing so I was blessed to have been included before she made that decision. You can read that interview again HERE.

6. In July I added another page to my blog, “Buy The Book!”, to help my readers find the books they read about here and other places I reviewed them. Has this made it easier for you?

7. In August I added a page, Suicide Crisis Lines, mainly because of the shocking death of Robin Williams. My heart still sorrows over that tragedy.

8. In October I reported about a fantastic program – Kindle Kids Mastery – for writers of children’s books. It’s really for anyone who wants to try publishing an e-book. Please check on my Writer’s Helps page for the link to that information. It’s a fabulous opportunity. Have you used this program yet?

9. In November I participated again in Tara Lazar’s Picture Book Idea Month, aka PiBoIdMo, and succeeded in meeting and surpassing the goal of 30 ideas. Did you try it in 2014?

10. In December I participated in Susanna Leonard Hill’s story writing competition and posted my story here on my blog as required. Although my story didn’t make the cut it was great practice for me, and a good learning experience.

11. On my “Books I Read This Year” page I reported that I managed to read 45 books, far less than I had hoped to read but more than I read last year. How many books did you read in 2014?

All in all, I feel 2014 was a good blogging year for me, even though I didn’t accomplish everything I wanted to. Being a caregiver for a victim of Alzheimer’s has its challenges, and my own personal stuff added in made it harder to do all I was hoping to do. Even so, I am happy and encouraged that my blog following increased this year!

THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH FOR FOLLOWING MY BLOG. I greatly appreciate you all and I hope to keep you interested enough in coming back. I also hope more of you will leave comments in 2015 because those comments help keep the conversation going. :)

What would you like me to know about your experience and visits here?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)

Now for the fun report from WordPress.com.

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 11,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

There were 230 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 70 MB. That’s about 4 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was September 15th with 99 views. The most popular post that day was Book Review: I Only Cry at Night – by P. Allen Jones.

In 2014, there were 140 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 452 posts.

Longest Streak: 5 days 1 July – 5 July;  Best Day: Tuesday with 46 posts total

These are the posts that got the most views in 2014:

Some of your most popular posts were written before 2014. Your writing has staying power!

Visitors came from 104 countries in all! Most came from The United States. Canada & U.K. were not far behind.

Your most commented on post in 2014 was My story entry in Susanna Hill’s 4th Annual Holiday Contest

PS:  Once again, thank YOU, my friends, for following my blog. Blessings in 2015! I look forward to an exciting new year with you. :)

 

 

Sue Harrison: “Writing the Third Dimension” – part 23: Books, Books, Books!

Welcome back! Over the next several more months we invite you to return here, specifically on the fourth Thursday of each month for the newest installment of Sue Harrison‘s teaching: Writing The Third Dimension. You can read all the segments by clicking on the page title WRITING THE THIRD DIMENSION, found under Writers’ Helps & Workshops on the drop-down menu. Please feel free to ask questions and leave comments for Sue.

** Note: Last year we took a break from WTTD in December, but this year Sue has prepared a special post which is up a week early to give you time to shop. Therefore, there is no post from Sue on December 25, the fourth Thursday of this month.

Now for the topic for month twenty-three:

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“Writing the Third Dimension” – part 23:  Books, Books, Books!

To celebrate the busy, happy, and frantic holiday season, my 2014 Christmas card to you is a very short post about the question I’m asked most frequently by new writers.

The Question: What’s the one most important thing I can do to help develop my writing skills?

The Answer: Read!

booksSo, during this holiday season, which for me means a Christmas celebration and for many others means Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or even December birthdays, my suggestion is to give books — to others and to yourself! Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Joyous Kwanzaa, Happy Birthday, and Happy New Year!

Strength to your pen!

Sue

 *Writing the Third Dimension, copyright, 2010 Sue Harrison*

Sue HarrisonBestselling author, Sue Harrison, has written two Alaska trilogies: The Ivory Carver Trilogy and The Storyteller Trilogy, and a middle readers’ book SISU. Prior to the publication of her novels, Harrison was employed at Lake Superior State University as a writer and acting director of the Public Relations Department and as an adjunct instructor in creative writing and advanced creative writing. For more information, click here. To inquire about booking Sue for workshops or speaking engagements this year, click here.

Thanks for joining us! Please feel free to leave your questions and comments. We invite you to come back January 22, 2015 for part 24!

PS: If you need some book suggestions please check out my BUY THE BOOK! page, and my BOOK REVIEWS page.

The cut’s been made, please vote for your favourite story

It wasn’t until a friend sent me an email this evening saying she was sorry I didn’t make the finalists that I learned … my story, Blizzard Blessings, didn’t make the cut!  :(

Of course, I was quite disappointed, but I’ve had half an hour to let it settle in. It’s okay, mostly. Yes, I would have loved for mine to be one of the twelve stories chosen of the one hundred entries, but I knew it was going to be a hard decision to make. I didn’t envy Susanna and her helpers at all. I think I would have been more shocked than I am disappointed had I been in the twelve finalists.

I will be voting but I have it down to two stories and can’t decide between them yet. I’ll let it wait and read them again tomorrow before voting.

PLEASE GO HERE AND VOTE FOR THE STORY YOU LIKE THE BEST.   Thank you!

I haven’t given up on my little story, though.  There may be something good in store for it yet.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)

Great quotes about reading and writing books!

Here are some more wonderful quotes I thought you might enjoy about books … reading them and writing them. Some are funny, some are insightful, all are thought-provoking.

Anyone who says they have only one life to live must not know how to read a book.  – Anonymous

A common quality I see of people who are successful is that they are voracious readers.  – Matt Mullenweg

I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.  – Groucho Marx

The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.  – Jane Austen

I spend a lot of time reading.  – Bill Gates

People who say they don’t have time to read simply don’t want to.  – Julie Rugg

A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies… The man who never reads lives only one.  – George R. R. Martin

I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book.    – J.K. Rowling

There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.  – Ray Bradbury

Reading is the creative center of a writer’s life.  – Stephen King

A cliffhanger is when…  – Buffy Andrews

In science read the newest works, in literature read the oldest.  – Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton

I thought to myself, why not write a bestseller. In the first place, more people read them, you make more money, and it doesn’t take any more time to write a bestseller than it does to write a book that nobody buys. –  George Burns (The Third Time Around)

I’d say that about 82 percent of what I write is bad, but don’t go by me; I’m as bad a judge as I am a writer. Look, if it were all good, you’d be paying twice as much for this book. So relax, read it, and if you don’t enjoy it, remember that you’re saving money.  – George Burns (The Third Time Around)

I read a book twice as fast as anybody else. First, I read the beginning, and then I read the ending, and then I start in the middle and read toward whatever end I like best. – Grace Allen

Never judge a book by its movie. – J. W. Eagan

Writing this book required an enormous amount of help from friends. To them goes the credit. I’ll take the money.  – P. J. O’Rourke (All the Trouble in the World)

 

Which do you like of the above quotes? Do you have any to share?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)

Book Review: Meet Franklin Bean (Franklin Bean Superhero series, book 1) – by Emmy Swain

Meet Franklin BeanBook: Meet Franklin Bean
Author/Publisher: Emmy Swain
Illustrator: Levi Whitworth
Date: 2011
Genre: children’s
Pages: 34
Price: Kindle $2.88; paperback $8.85
My Rating: An interesting, fun mystery for the young readers; addresses bullying and other life issues
 

This is a short chapter book with great illustrations by Levi Whitworth and is book one of a series by Emmy Swain.

Chapter titles are:

  1. Our New Home
  2. Franklin Meets Mom
  3. New Friends
  4. Restless Night
  5. Fisherman Saved
  6. Day Before School
  7. Where Are You?

Meet Franklin Bean is a story about a young boy, John, who has to relocate with his mother after she lost her job. He is nervous about moving to a smaller house in a different neighbourhood and having to change schools. Unfortunately, John meets up with bullies soon after moving and his misery increases until he finds a stray dog, Franklin Bean. But there’s something amazing about Franklin Bean – he can talk! John’s life begins to look and feel much better.

Franklin Bean has another amazing secret that – in this book – John hasn’t figured out yet.

Meet Franklin Bean has some applicable life lessons in it, but Emmy Swain presents them in a way that is fun without seeming as if it is teaching. This is a good story for very young readers and pre-readers.

You can find Meet Franklin Bean on my BUY THE BOOK! page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)