Category Archives: Writing

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.

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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!  :)

My story entry in Susanna Hill’s 4th Annual Holiday Contest

Yesterday I found out that Susanna Hill is hosting her 4th Annual Holiday Contest right now. The challenge is to write a story for children in no more than 350 words, the theme being wild weather that impacts the holidays in some way. I decided to give it a try, so this is my first attempt. Next I have to link back to Susanna’s blog so my story can be connected to the contest, and then the entries are narrowed down to a few finalists whose stories are posted next Monday or Tuesday (Dec. 15 or 16). Those stories are then voted on by anyone wanting to read them. I hope you will go to Susanna’s blog and add your vote, even if it isn’t for my story. You have from Dec. 15 or 16 till Dec. 18 at 5 PM EST to VOTE.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)

Now, here’s my story in 349 words.

 Blizzard Blessings

Suzie frowned out the window, her chin resting on her hands. It was Christmas Eve day and it was snowing – a lot! “Daddy, can’t we go to the pet store anyway?”

“I’m sorry, Suzie; there’s too much snow. The wind is blowing so hard we could get stuck in a snowdrift and not get back home tonight. Remember, you have to be in bed for Santa to come.”

Suzie pouted. “But you said for Christmas I could get a pet to live in the cage I found in the attic. I have it all ready!”

“Pouting won’t make the blizzard go away, Suzie. You have to wait until after Christmas now,” Daddy said. “How about we stay safe inside and read the Christmas story together?”

In the meantime, at the North Pole the elves were helping Santa load his sleigh. Soon he would be on his way, bringing gifts to all the girls and boys while they slept.

Santa picked up his warm red hat to wear that stormy night. When he gave it a shake out dropped a sleepy, little white mouse. “Sylvester! Ho! Ho! Ho! You can’t live in my cozy hat,” said Santa.

The little mouse sadly scurried away. Every time he found a nice place to live he was told “No!” – not in the dollhouse, not in the red fire engine, not in the drum set, not even in Santa’s hat. Where could he go?

That night Santa climbed into his sleigh. “Ho! Ho! Ho! What blustery weather for old Santa!”

Everyone was sound asleep when Santa landed his sleigh at Suzie’s house. He reached into his pack. “What’s this!” He pulled out a little white mouse. “Ho! Ho! Ho! Sylvester mouse! You can’t live in my pack, and it’s too stormy for you outside.” He looked around. “Look here! I see just the place for you. Merry Christmas, Sylvester.” Sylvester’s whiskers twitched from excitement.

Christmas morning Suzie squealed, “Daddy! Daddy! Look what Santa brought me!”

Under the Christmas tree, in the old cage from the attic, sat a happy little white mouse.

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!  :)

PiBoIdMo has ended – my update

Today is the first day of December … already!! Where did the time go? Yikes! And I love that it’s snowing on my blog. :)  (Thanks, Word Press!)

Soon it will be Christmas Day; I have a lot to do at home and at Dad’s to even feel ready for this special time of year, but I have begun – with help. I appreciate the beauty of this season (not the intense cold that comes with it) and especially the true meaning of Christmas.

The writerly news is …

PiBoIdMo ended at midnight November 30 …

piboidmo2014wordpressbanner

Just at the last moment I came up with the cutest title which has me thinking of a story to go with it. The great news is I completed PiBoIdMo with a win. The goal was to have 30 ideas, be they ever so small or detailed, and I got almost 50. YAY!

vinvogel_piboldmo_winnerPicture Book Idea Month is truly helpful when one is pursuing creative writing goals. Now Tara Lazar has begun a week of Post-PiBo posts which are a fantastic way to end this month-long event. She is genius in her contribution to the world of writing for children, and I’ve been very encouraged along the way – thanks to her.

The next fun part is after all this ends Tara has the task of giving out prizes to those of us who completed the challenge. Of course, with so many of us signed on not everyone will win a prize, but we are all winners if we participated in this event and took in what all the authors, illustrators and agents shared with us. It’s been an especially good PiBoIdMo for me at a time when I really needed to put my mind on creative things.

Did you take part in PiBoIdMo; if so how did you do? OR … Do you have any other successes to share, or goals you wish to achieve?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings! 

Sue Harrison’s “Writing the Third Dimension” – Part 22: Flying – By the Seat of Your Pants

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-two:

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“Writing the Third Dimension” – part 22: Flying – By the Seat of Your Pants

My husband and I have major differences when it comes to attacking a project. He’s the plan-and-research guy. I’m the gal who starts right away and screeches to a halt in the middle of the mess to realize that I don’t know where I am or how I got there.

In the world of book-writing, these two approaches are generally labeled as Planner (or Plotter) versus Pantster. Pantster refers to”flying by the seat of your pants.” I’m a Planner with my research, which I define, lay out, and adamantly pursue. I also get to know my characters very well before I write their “stories.” However, when it comes to writing the story, I’m pretty much a Pantster. I love the creativity and freedom writing as a Pantster engenders.

IMG_05431(I AM glad my husband is a Planner, because he is also a pilot, and I DO NOT want my pilot to fly by the seat of his pants!)

If you are a Planner, you’re probably doing just fine with your first draft. You’re following your outline and you’re staying on track.

If you are, like me, a Pantster, you may have followed your creative urges and pushed your novel into an entirely different – or new and improved – plotline. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it may include painting yourself into a corner. I know what I’m talking about. I’ve spent a lot of time in that corner!

Experience has taught me a few tricks about agilely exiting from corners without ruining a great paint job (i.e., your new and improved plot line.)

1. Don’t get discouraged. Writing is hard work, especially first and second draft writing. Everyone needs to reread and edit, even Planners.

2. If you’re stuck, go back to the beginning of your novel and read what you’ve written. As you read, jot down the ideas, main characters, and developments in each chapter. Use only a few sentences per chapter.

3. When a chapter veers off in strange, unproductive directions (It doesn’t advance the plot.), note that, but don’t stop to rewrite at this point.

4. Read until you think your novel has reached the “Great Desert of Hopelessness.”

5. Stop.

6. Contemplate. Where do you want to go? If you don’t have the end of your novel rattling around in your head somewhere, this is the time to formulate your last chapter.

7. Write the last chapter. You will likely change this, but for now, in this painted-into-the-corner moment, it gives you a goal.

8. Again start at the beginning of your novel, and this time jot down any “travel” notes beside your chapter notes. How do you need to change this chapter to eventually arrive at your last chapter?

9. Rewrite. Don’t spend a lot of angst on wording or those bits of minor research you haven’t completed. You’ll have time for that later. Now is when you get the plot back on track. Don’t be afraid to cut bad chapters or rotten paragraphs.

10. When you’ve finished rewriting to your satisfaction, jot down where you’re going with the next series of chapters. I know that sounds like Planning, but it’s really only Reminding.

If you’re like me, you may need to repeat these steps more than once during the first draft, but it’s worth the effort! Keep writing!

Question for you: Are you a Planner or a Pantster? (Not only with writing, but in life, too!)

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 December 18, 2014, for part 23. (Note the change in schedule for that month due to Christmas.)

Picture Book Idea Month (aka PiBoIdMo) began today!

Today is a great day for picture book authors and illustrators.

Today is the first day of Picture Book Idea Month 2014, also known as PiBoIdMo. (Learn more HERE.) Thanks to Tara Lazar who is the creator of this inspiring challenge, November 1-30 is brainstorming month for those of us who appreciate the push, nudge, encouragement to capture our ideas. (Read my interview with Tara HERE.) This morning before I was out of bed I was thinking about this being Day One of PiBoIdMo and how I just didn’t want to get out of my bed yet … and an idea came to me for a picture book! Yay! I still haven’t written it down but that’s next on my to-do list. Maybe in the next couple of brainstorming days I can add to that story by coming up with my character’s name and a great title for the book. Or maybe I will settle on those today – now the imagination wheels have begun to turn again. Either way, I will try to keep track on my blog as I progress with this year’s PiBoIdMo challenge.

piboidmo2014wordpressbannerIt is not too late if you are interested take part in Picture Book Idea Month; you have until midnight of November 7 to read about it and register HERE.

Each November since 2010 I have worked on a YA fiction novel, last year being the least I added to it. With a little regret, this year I decided to not participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). This means I may not even finish my novel, but I surely want to! My problems are tiredness, trying to beat back depression, too much going on in my brain as it is – including all I feel I have to do or should be doing but not wanting to overextend myself further. I care about my own health, and if I get sick I am of little help to anyone else. My dad needs me, my sister needs my contributed half in caring for Dad, my husband and daughters even need me sometimes. And, of course, little Meyya needs me.  Okay, there. Does that sound convincing enough?

Even though this month I’m not officially adding to my novel through NaNoWriMo, my fiction story stays on the back burner of my mind. I’m not sure how to bring it to its natural end yet, but the characters won’t go away. It seems they’re telling me this is a novel that needs to be completed, which I plan to do. In fact, I’m kind of excited to see how it turns out!

What it comes down to is I believe my biggest problem may be lack of adequate organization of my time. Well, that and I get distracted easily. And I’m tired. And I have so many ideas and things I want to do.  hmm  Yeah, I’ll go back to the first point – lack of adequate organization of my time.  (Can anybody relate to this?)

Share with me your thoughts on this.

What do you find to be the main thing that prevents you from moving forward, and how do you conquer it? Any tips for me on how to better divide and manage my time?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)