Writing Dialogue Master Class

This afternoon I received an e-mail from writer and editor Joan Dempsey, asking if I’d help spread the word about the Writing Great Dialogue Master Class she’s offering. If you’re interested in joining and taking advantage of feedback from an editor to help you give your dialogue more zing, then do check out her link here: Learn More

Bear in mind that this is time sensitive. Enrollment in this class closes tonight at 10pm EDT— that’s four hours from now. I think the price is fair for what you’ll be getting. I’ve been taking a shorter “teaser” class this month and appreciate her feedback.

Blogger’s Blue Moons

Once in a blue moon…

— I feel like I’ve nothing much to say.
— I wonder if anybody’s really interested in hearing what I have to say.
— I decide that with so many others wanting to have their say I should just be quiet for awhile.
— I sense my mind just isn’t working properly these days anyway. (Alzheimer’s? Dead brain cells? Scrambled circuitry?)
— I’m overwhelmed with the despair that I’ve never accomplished anything worthwhile in my life and I may as well quit trying to be creative.
— I’m really anticipating spring’s arrival and the temp plunges to -22̊ C, dragging my enthusiasm down with it.
— I’m celebrating some super event in my life, like a 65th birthday, and not taking time to write anything.
— I get so enthused about something else, like reading a good book or my sewing projects, that I neglect my blog altogether.
— I have so much I’d like to write about that I don’t know where to start.

Every now and then all these blue moons come together, as they have this week, and really cloud my ability to write. Do you others have spells like this?

In spite of all these emotions rolling over me at times, I did have a very good birthday week. Our children took us to Montana’s Cookhouse restaurant for supper. Then my daughter threw an impromptu birthday party Wed morning (Mar 28th) and eight ladies from our church came bearing flowers and gifts, to wish me a happy birthday.

This week Tuesday we were in the city and I purchased a few gifts with birthday money given:
— a lovely 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle I found at a book store
— a 300-piece puzzle that took me only an hour or so to finish
— an oblong ceramic baking dish

I also signed up for Kindle Unlimited, a borrowing library from Amazon for which I pay $10 a month. I borrowed two books and have read one already. Browsing through their selection, though, I see so many authors I’d like to read, like Emily Brightwell, haven’t put their books into this system. And of course none of the “classics” like Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers. So I wonder how beneficial it’s going to be for me in the long run. How many of you readers have subscribed to this and have you found it worthwhile?

At long last the urge to sew has come over me! Last week I finished one dress I had cut out, so I cut out and started sewing another. Yesterday I cut out a third. I’ll be working on those two today. Strike while the iron is hot! (A very useful cliché. I don’t know what I could replace it with. “Swing while the ball’s in your court?”)

Another cook at Silverwood Villa has asked me to take her place doing supper there tonight, so that will take a bit of time out of my day. Right now there are only three men residing at the Villa and the big meal served at noon; supper won’t involve a lot of time and effort.

Some parts of the province had record low temps one day this week and we hear the southern part of our province experienced a severe winter storm yesterday that caused accidents on major highways. So I’m glad that all we had was a sharp wind and frigid nights. How we wish for spring! I must say, though, I really appreciate the longer hours of daylight we’re enjoying now.

Time to Write

Time Management Woes

As you may realize, this past winter I’ve become increasingly frustrated with my lack of order and productivity. This isn’t new; all my life I’ve refused to be a slave to schedules and To-Do lists — but this has left me with a case of chronic indecision. Bogged down with “Where to start?”

Also, I’ve been a hoarder. Part of my effort to make improvements I’ve already written about: decrease the paper clutter; finish small writing projects. But the bigger projects still await my attention — and zeal. Too many “Started, not finished” projects are like a stone holding your head under water.

This week a book title popped up in BookBub:
10 time management choices that can change your life.

I checked it out and decided to take a chance. I’ve have been working my way through it in the past few days and it’s been nailing me right and left. Addressing issues like why you never get done the big things because of wasting time, indecision, procrastination. Creative people who hop from one project to another. Never finishing — or starting— a project because you’re too much of a perfectionist. Examples of others who sound so much like me. Ouch!

From what I’ve read so far, I can heartily endorse the book. How much benefit I get from it depends on how many changes I’m willing to make in my day-to-day activities. One quote really hit home, citing my prime nemesis:

“Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.” Goethe

Now I’m thinking specifically of my writing projects sitting on the back burner. The books I’ve written for NaNoWriMo, for example. I can see how lack of accountability and lack of a deadline have stalled me. You could say, “Filling my days with the things which matter least.”

I was once a part of a writing group that met once a week and was a real inspiration to keep working at my writing. I miss that. So I’d like to ask you readers for your suggestions. I’m looking for online writing partners or a group that will add some pressure, some deadlines.

Last night I googled and checked out online writing groups, hoping to find one where members exchange chapters for critiquing. Some beta readers or an editor who will reply in reasonable time and won’t cost this penniless writer a lot of dough. Not a given weekly writing assignment, but feed-back on my WIPs. (By e-mail; no Facebook, Yahoo groups or Skype.)

I’m hoping to find a few critique partners somewhat on my own wavelength. I’m happy to give feedback on others’ writing but don’t want to have to read ten zombi and/or horror chapters a week just to get feedback for my own mild tales. (Been there, done that once.)

Any suggestions? Anyone interested in reading and critiquing, sharing WIP projects? If so, please leave a comment, or email me at christinevanceg @ gmail.com

Hey, Your Writing Sucks

I came across this article a week or so ago and decided that this blogger has some really good points. I think writing critiques are like exercise; if they don’t stretch you some, you aren’t going to get much benefit from them. I love her concluding line.

Memoir Of A Writer

Let me explain.

When I first decided to pursue writing seriously (as in put my all into something that might not give me any return) all I wanted was someone to tell me that I was making the right decision. I didn’t know if I was good enough at writing to make it my career choice.

My entire way of thinking was wrong, but I’ll get back to that.

What I actually needed was someone to tell me my writing sucked. Because it did, and hey sometimes if I’m in a hurry it still does. (I’ve had to delete a few blog posts due to my hastiness.)

Pretending someone is better at something than they are is detrimental to their growth, especially while learning a craft. My biggest pet peeve in workshops are when people are so nice that the person whose work is getting critiqued thinks that their work…

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Another Outdated Cliché

As I posted a couple of weeks back, writers these days are urged to avoid overworked idioms. Trouble is, it can be a real challenge to think of an interesting way of restating an old and weary cliché.

For instance, a writer could replace, “It was raining cats and dogs” with “It was a heavy downpour,” and be accurate, but not so eloquent. “It was raining stars and planets” might sound like overkill. Readers’ minds might automatically jump to the idiom you’re trying to replace. I’ve had that happen. It was so obvious that my mind went back to the original and the substitute sounded phony.

At a writers’ group meeting a few years back we were given some well-used idioms and were to suggest a substitute. I posted one on Feb 22nd, now here’s another for you to consider and offer suggestions:

He/ she/ it was “as old as the hills.”

Some suggested replacements:
Sticking to fact:
— “He’d made his four score and ten.”
— “She was the senior member in her nursing home.”
— “He was an octogenarian.”

More figurative:
— “He goes back to spats and top hats.”
— “That idea was around when Shakespeare was a scholar.”
— “That thing’s been around since Longfellow was a lad.” (If you prefer an American notable.)

Do you have any suggestions for replacements or have you read any that struck you as worthy of note?

Truth Hurts, Doesn’t It?

One day years back my husband read this little anecdote to me, written by a fellow who shares our last name, and we both had chuckle.

With a bit of time to waste one day, the fellow who wrote it had wandered into a pinball arcade. He stepped up to one of the machines and was about to put money in the slot when he noticed a little sign on the machine. It read: “Why are you wasting your money playing this dumb game?”

The thought has a sting of truth to it. Pricked in conscience and annoyed with the guy who’d taped on this sign, he tore the note off the machine. Underneath was another note: “Truth hurts, doesn’t it?”

In the end he must have gotten a chuckle out of it, or he wouldn’t have written this and told on himself.

Telling the truth is risky!

So many times I wish I’d been more tactful when someone got huffy because of what I said! Other times I regret that I didn’t speak up, but was afraid of giving offense. But “beating around the bush,” as we say, may not have changed the outcome. Looking back, I appreciate the times when someone gave it to me straight up, rather than hinting so tactfully that I didn’t grasp the truth until years later.

If the words we say, wanting to be helpful, deliver a bit of sting in their truth, the hearer’s going to feel it and may respond angrily. But sometimes only the truth served straight up — as it was in this account — will get the point across. 🙂

Have you ever upset someone by telling them the truth? Did they appreciate your straight-forward honesty in the end?