Monday, March 31, 2014

Comparing Your Work with Others

When you compare your writing to another author, it can be positive or negative. 
A few authors slam a fellow author’s book with one and two star reviews. Some reviews are honest assessments while others are not.
Base your evaluation on readability, storyline, plot durability, realistic dialogue, grammar and more. If you cannot do do this, then do not write a review. Nothing is wrong with that because 
authors need time to write their own stories, engage in social media and do whatever else to promote their work. Doing this leaves little time to read others’ materials and write reviews and that is okay. 
I write reviews for two reasons: (1)it keeps my followers informed on what else I am doing besides my work in progress and (2)it assists me with my own writing. 
Reading (when I have time to do so) helps you gleam a lot in the way of word choices, character names, plot ideas and descriptions. 
Currently, I am reading Mary Connealy’s Calico Canyon. The villain is Parrish. I like the way Connealy describes him. “But his temper goaded him. He hungered to make her sorry for what she’d done. The image of her cowering under his fists kept him awake at night and rode him like a spur [my italics] all day.”
Playing off one another is fine as long as we do not take their words and ideas verbatim. There are only so many story lines out there, but adding our own bends and twists do make the difference. The Twilight series is an example of this. The story is romance but what is different is the werewolf twist. 
Write your way. Do not write like another author because if you do you will fail. After all, God gave you your own gifts not another person's. My way is to set a scene with the five senses. 
In addition, I include historical details, such as I did in Ruth Ann Nordin’s and my anthology, Bride by Arrangement, set in Lincoln, Neb., in 1876. The book includes two novellas. Ruth’s story is The Purchased Bride and mine is She Came by Train. Below is an excerpt from my novella highlighting an old hymn: 
“As the afternoon sun rays glimmered on the pearly keys, Opal settled herself on the piano stool. Opening one of the hymnals, she turned the page to ‘When the Roll is Called up Yonder.’ Stroking the keys, her fingers graced the notes. She sang as she played the tune. 
“‘When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound and time shall be no more, And the morning breaks, eternal, bright, ...’ Footsteps approached. ‘When the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there. ... When the roll is called up yonder., I’ll be there.’ Finished with the chorus, she turned to Mr. Crowley, who stood in front of her. ‘Yes?’
“‘Miss Preston, you have two visitors. One is named Ada Wilcox.’”
  My brother loved reading an author who added Native American details into his work. This helped set that author apart from others. If you are one who does not care for research (which takes time), then write what fits you. Learning about time periods and how people lived is fascinating to me. By the way, visiting historical homes is one of the best ways to gather information. 
I read a variety of genres, which includes romance, mystery, suspense and non-fiction. I read Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Lincoln. It gave you a wonderful feel for that era which helped me with my own writing. Even heartwarming, spiritual true stories, such as Heaven is for Real, enables me to capture emotions and incorporate these into my own work. 
In conclusion, it can be good to compare yourself to others if you do this with the right intent but never deviate from your true self. Write your own story. Garner methods and styles from others, but fashion your own story and your own descriptions. God created you so devise your writing as you want. The Lord’s blessings to you.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Write your Heart

People tell me I should write about my autistic children, and I have done that to some extent in my best of year book, Seasons of the Soul. But there are other stories about them, especially my youngest high-functioning, verbal son, which I cannot share.

At one time, I thought I could write about our experiences of sitting on pins and needles not knowing what the youngest's behavior would be like. But my heart would not allow me to do this. It also exposes our family, and my youngest to the public eye which I do not feel comfortable about right now. He is doing better and lives in a group home. All is well. Praise God! So, when others tell you to write about certain topics, don’t do it if it is not in your heart. 

Recently, I heard about an author who wrote teen novels but her heart was not in her work. She now is entering a new genre - one she is comfortable in pursuing. 
Many years ago I heard this man on the radio. He would advise listeners on business and recommended to callers to not choose a profession based on the money but, instead, go with your passion. For example, if your love is writing, then write what interests you not someone else. Of course, there are times you need a paycheck and have to supplement your income but do not forgo your passion.

Author Stephen King was a teacher and pursued his writing in his downtime. He started with short stories before his novels were published, his work turned into movies and his name became a household word. Remember nothing comes overnight.

I laugh when I think about my first book. I was so excited and thought everyone in my community would line up around the block for my book signing. I did have a good turnout, but it was not what I expected.  

You need to work for what you get because no one gives you anything. There are local billboards which say, "Earn It," and that is so right. Anything done well takes time.

Coming from a journalism background, I had to learn the technique of writing fiction. Think about it. A journalist writes what he sees and hears. He does not add emotion, but in fiction your story cannot survive unless it does. Heart racing, she climbed the dark-narrow stairs. 

Learning this technique is like going from night to day. I have made great progress, but my education has not stopped. You must persevere to get anywhere. 

But you also need to be realistic. If you are writing poetry, the odds of becoming a poet laureate are not good. However, what you can become is a poet who reaches peoples' souls. My one sister-in-law makes her own digital cards. Each card includes poetry which rhymes, but what is amazing is how she captures that relative’s personality. We look forward to these cards. They warm our hearts. Remember not all value is monetary. Sometimes what we do provides comfort and eases others' pains. This is what my books, Seasons of the Soul, and Lockets and Lanterns, have done, according to people who purchased them. 

In closing, remember to write from your heart. Nothing is as satisfying as to pursue your passion whether it is a full-time or part-time effort. God bless.