Tag Archives: The Write Time

A Change of Pace: New Blogs, Author Interviews, The Legacy Series Magazine Release

• Word Journeys Media

• Blog Interview with Author August McLaughlin on Dec. 12

• The Legacy Series Magazine Releases Nationally on Dec. 10

For the past five years, we’ve presented a wide variety of topics on the Word Journeys Blog. Much of it revolved around the writing profession, practice and book publishing industry, but we also wrote blogs on culture, travel, surfing, running, and many other topics.

Starting in January, we’re going to expand our reach — while more tightly focusing this blog. Our new blog, Word Journeys Media, will focus on industry-specific topics for writers, publishers, literary agents and others. It will be tied to the new wing of Word Journeys, which will specialize in promotional, publicity, marketing and consultation services for authors.

Among the Word Journeys Media services will be the 360 Book Publicity Suite. We’re partnering with Innovative Properties Worldwide to present this sweeping press release and publicity service for authors that connects their new books with up to 300,000 media, online, blog, book review and industry destinations — a reach most publishers can’t match. It also provides deep social media connection and establishment of the author as an expert on their subject in the eyes of the media. More on this in a special announcement blog next week. Write me at ryehling@wordjourneys.com if you’re interested in learning more.

• • •

Meanwhile, the Word Journeys blog will offer more author interviews, book reviews, and pieces that celebrate life and the writing lifestyle. We’ve just become a part of a number of major book blog tours, so get ready to meet some of the authors who are producing the latest fiction, non-fiction and children’s titles.  I was inspired to take this approach by Santana drummer Michael Shrieve, who hosts a weekly radio show, “Notes from the Field with Michael Shrieve,” that features, well, conversations with other musicians. His recent interview with Rush drummer Neil Peart was truly extraordinary.

We will begin our greater focus on authors next Wednesday, December 12, when we sit down with August McLaughlin, author of In Her Shadow, a psychological thriller that releases in January. This interview is part of The Next Big Thing Blog Hop. August recently contributed to The Legacy Series Magazine, which I edited. August is an exceptional writer with one of the most entertaining and informative (and, at times, spiciest) blogs, “Savor The Storm” 

So be sure to stop by The Word Journeys blog on Wednesday to meet August.

• • •

The other big event next week is the release of The Legacy Series Magazine: Celebrating Technology & Innovation. It releases on newsstands nationwide on Monday, Dec. 10. In the year since I took on the editing job for this publication, I have learned so much about our relationship with technology, how the craftiest and most visionary innovators turn their ideas into reality, and just how far we’ve come in technology — and still have to go. To paraphrase IT expert Mary Meeker’s take on the status of mobile apps, we’re still in spring training.

As one who was born in 1959, the year the transistor first started shipping, I’d have to say we’ve come pretty far. In fact, if you told someone in 1959 that they could watch TV on their computer, or text, or run one of more than 1.4 million applications off a portable palm-sized phone, they’d say two words: “science fiction.”

The Legacy Series Magazine is a fun, fun read. We feature incisive, expert-driven looks at the future of publishing, social media, filmmaking, cloud computing, tablets and much more. We built this issue around the legacy of the late Steve Jobs, who as Apple’s CEO revolutionized and/or redefined eight specific industries with his inventions, products and innovations — the most since Thomas Edison. The more I learned about Jobs from those who knew him best, such as Ken Segall, bestselling author of Insanely Simple and the man who came up with the “i” branding concept for Apple products, the more deeply I appreciated what Jobs did for our lives.

We talked with a lot of industry experts. My favorite conversations took place with Chris Voss, host of the Chris Voss Show and a Forbes magazine Top 50 Social Media influencer; Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, co-star of Shark Tank and co-owner of Magnolia Pictures and AXS-TV; Jeanniey Mullen, executive VP of Zinio, the world’s foremost distributor of digital magazine content; Beth Comstock, senior VP of GE and the mastermind of the hulu.com TV website when she headed the digital division at NBC Universal; Dr. Gustavo Rabin, author of Becoming A Leader; and Craig Perkins, winner of the 2012 iPhone Film Festival. You’d be amazed at the cinematic quality iPhones have!

You can pre-order a copy of The Legacy Series Magazine, and receive 50% off the newsstand price.  Go to www.legacyseriesmagazine.com and visit the online store to place your order.

• • •

Finally, I’d be remiss in failing to mention two holiday gift ideas that I had a major hand in creating:

“The Champion’s Way,” which I co-wrote with Dr. Steve Victorson, offers a unique insight into the 11 characteristics all great champions share in common — whether sports champions, business icons, chart-topping entertainers and musicians, or champions in other walks of life. Our revised edition includes an update from the Summer Olympic games. You can order it by going to our website at http://thechampionsway.com.

“The Write Time: 366 Exercises to Enhance Your Writing Life.” I compiled and wrote this book to offer 366 unique, story-driven writing exercises that are guaranteed to increase your range and versatility, whether you’re a middle school student, teacher, or professional writer. There are exercises for virtually every fiction and non-fiction genre, along with “workouts” for poets, screenwriters, lyricists and essayists. I compiled the exercises developed during 10 years of teaching writing workshops, and added some fun asides you will find on every page — inspiring quotes, author birthdays, and much more. You can pick it up by going to http://www.penandpublish/writetime.

 

 

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Readings, Teaching Workshops, Going Online

To purchase The Write Time: 366 Exercises to Fulfill Your Writing Life

To join Writing The World Workshops

During the Southern California Writers Conference, I met the associate editor of Toastmasters Magazine, Beth Black. We talked for a few minutes, and continued the dialogue during the past week. Our conversation pertained to the way writers and teachers of writing have migrated online to conduct all parts of their businesses.

This is a monumental week for me in that regard, in three ways:

• I have joined Harvey Stanbrough and Chris O’Byrne in presenting the Writing The World Workshops membership-based website, with its writing courses, articles, tips and video classes;

• The 7-minute social media and networking tutorial I delivered at the end of my “Your Journal, Your Goldmine” workshop at the Southern California Writers Conference is now available on You Tube and my newest business website;

• Which is the third major development: I’ve joined my longtime friend, John Josepho, in forming Millennium Media Masters — which is all about print and online publishing, platforming, media and affiliate marketing development for entrepreneurs, artists of all media (including filmmakers), musicians and writers who want to get their stories, messages and brands out to their audiences in a variety of different forms.

So when Beth asked me a couple of Toastmasters-type questions pertaining to the online migration, and reading publicly, I obliged. Thought I’d share the answers with you:

Q: If you can give me a quote or two on what it’s like going from the quiet of writing time to presenting in public (or pitching to an agent or publisher), that would be great.

A: Writing alone is very solitary and insular, almost like being in another world — especially when writing fiction, when we should be in another world, the world of our story and characters. Everything happens between the creative and thinking minds. When presenting workshops or talking about writing, we have to carry all this information outward and be crisp and confident when doing so, because attendees are seeking to apply your experience and knowledge to their work. I find it easiest to approach this like a storyteller, weaving together information with anecdotes that best illustrate the point. Pitching to agents or publishers is different yet: I have 60 seconds to interest them and another 60 to 120 to summarize my book — making the ability to communicate verbally and with good expression a must.

Q: Also, if you’ve done any public readings of your work, what’s your take on that?

A: I’ve read from my poetry and essay collections all over the country — Boston, New York, Chicago, LA, New Mexico, Tampa, the South, San Diego, plus a few European cities — Munich, Venice, Florence. I love interacting with the audiences, seeing which poems or essays draw them most or provoke strong responses, and telling the back stories behind the works. It is a great way to see how your writing impacts people — and a reminder that all writers should read their works aloud, to hear their voice.

Next week, we’ll post the three-part series on Platform Development.

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Back in the Saddle

For a host of reasons, we’ve been quiet this summer with the Word Journeys Blog. But now we’re back with a new and improved blog, designed to give you specific insight, tips and ideas from our many years of experience in the journalism, non-fiction, fiction, poetry and business writing worlds.

The Word Journeys Blog will focus on the practice and business of writing, and on the works of our clients and the print and online publications that we edit or to which we contribute. We’ll also showcase new services provided by our sister company, Millennium Media Masters. We will post two to three times per week. Our sister blog, 366 Writing, will feature my newest writing and excerpts from my books and e-books, hopefully posted daily. If you’d like, check out today’s piece, “Morning Prayer,” which I wrote the other day while driving through eastern Utah’s majestic Capitol Reef area.

The Word Journeys blogs will primarily concentrate on six areas:

1) Innovative ways to promote your work and build your promotional platform — and ways we can help you do it. We’ll also discuss innovative approaches taken by our clients and other writers.

2) Strategies for presenting manuscripts to agents and publishers – or taking the self-publishing route, which actually works better for more and more people these days.

3) Writing activities and exercises, based on my books, The Write Time: 366 Exercises to Fulfill Your Writing Life, and Writes of Life: Using Personal Experiences In Everything You Write.

4) Excerpts and back stories from future books and e-books from our clients. This also includes occasional interviews and excerpts of interviews with working authors.

5) Blogs on techniques, strategies and approaches that can help you with every writing challenge you face — and give you greater flexibility and voice in your work.

6) Information on writers conferences and workshops at which we will be presenting seminars and classes.

So sharpen your pencil (or fire up your computer), and let’s get ready for a busy autumn and winter of writing, promoting and publishing – in any and every print and online media that suits your work!

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Writing (Your) Place

I’m getting ready to write a print book memoir and an ongoing online blog-memoir, a series of digital postcards, if you will. (Note: The latter will be the new incarnation of my other blog, 366writing.wordpress.com, alternating with writing exercises). During these times when major book projects are percolating, I always seem to dive deeper into a sense of place – wherever that place may be. Which, with me, could be just about anywhere; somewhere along the line, I inherited an awful lot of gypsy genes.

Right now, am sitting in the Sierra Nevada foothills, at the Ananda Meditation Retreat, rejuvenating health, meditating, writing, editing my clients’ books, planning future teaching gigs, and mapping out the digital publishing side of Word Journeys. I always feel right at home here, deep in-place. Partly, it’s because after the past several years of living in Kentucky, the rural space – whether in hardwood forests, deserts or lush Ponderosa Pine mountains – feels very comfortable. Or maybe it’s because the greatest single influence of my writing life, the great Pulitzer Prize-winning poet-essayist-conservationist-ecologist Gary Snyder, is hanging out at his home not 500 yards away, taking in a rare mixture of rain and snow in mid-May, perhaps reflecting on the 80th birthday he celebrated Saturday. Or, Gary being Gary, moving forward, finding the next text to study, the next piece of firewood to chop, the next poem or essay to experience, then develop. (I am very proud to state that, for 31 of those years, I have been reading, studying and learning from his works.)
I don’t know. What I do see, though, in more and more writing – especially in this new era in which anyone can publish, anytime – is a lot of descriptions about places, without actually writing from within the place. It’s like the difference between us describing Nature and Ecology: Nature is a thing, an object we categorize, define or otherwise try to relate to; Ecology is movement, relationship, the interweaving and interaction of all elements that share the same space, the same place. Nature requires us to write from past or even future; Ecology is all about presence. The difference between the two is the difference between a photograph and a movie. And our goal, as writers and as citizens of this planet, should always be to not only watch the movie, but find our place within it. The great Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore put it this way: “Center everywhere, circumference nowhere.”
When we write from within a place – whether it’s our home, community, place we visit often, or somewhere that transforms us, like a beach – we write with strength and conviction. Readers not only surmise that you know what you’re talking about; they can feel it in every energized word. When we can take our readers by the hand and anchor them into our setting, or place – whether in a poem, an essay or a story – we’ve got them. The common perception is that we can accomplish this through facts and crafty word choices, but that’s only the window dressing. The real writing, the real value, comes from feeling the pulsating heart of the earth, or a tree, or a river flush with winter’s snows, or the vibration of a hummingbird’s wings, and sharing the wealth.
Unfortunately, in our haste to crank out the next books, essays, articles or poems, we often miss this point. We miss the ecology, the entire relationship of place in which we exist, and settle for the nature.
I have a couple of exercises in my book The Write Time that help develop the skill of writing within a place that I’d like to share:
1) Sit outside, in a setting that comforts you – a lakeshore, riverbank, woods, garden, beach or even your backyard. From where you sit, visually create a circle surrounding you, 30 feet in diameter. Drop the curtain on everything beyond that circle; your world now exists totally within the circle. This is your place, your oikos (root word of Ecology). For the next 30 to 60 minutes, write your place. You can start by writing about the place, describing things, but turn inward as soon as possible and become the center of the place – write from its heart.
2) Try writing haiku – tiny three-line poems. True Japanese haiku doesn’t use the 5-7-5 syllable rule; rather, it focuses on the simple dynamic of a moment in time, in place. For the purpose of this exercise, observe a movement around you, and put it into three lines. Go with the 5-7-5 syllable count, simply to practice economy of words. As you write your haiku, focus solely on the wholeness of what you’re observing – and keep yourself out of the picture. You’re writing the moment, not your interpretation of it.
See how these practices help with writing place. This skill is essential, no matter the genre. I know one thing – editors and publishers find it very hard to put down manuscripts or collections that are rooted in this way. Readers can’t put them down, either. And there is little more satisfying to writers – whether professionals, journalers or letter-writers – than knowing you have not only described a place well, but written the heart and spirit of that place.
Finally, a little morning moment, using haiku in the popular 5-7-5 format:
Pungent wood smoke scent,
driven down and scattered by
rain and hummingbirds

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Set Your Nets, Capture Your Moments: 10 Tips

To order The Write Time: 366 Exercises to Fulfill Your Writing Life

To order Writes of Life: Using Personal Experiences in Everything You Write

The rains poured down, flooding roads, soaking fields. Then they lifted—and a magical new world appeared on the steep forested hills of my property. Suddenly, eight streams rushed forth, the water pitching over waterfalls that, hours ago, were dry stones and bluff rock. The streams chattered loudly, their fluid voices rising over a land that, not a week before, was locked in a deep freeze.

I raced to my home office, grabbed a pen and notepad, ran up to the hillsides, and quickly scribbled out images. I rushed to describe the way the land looked and sounded as it happened, finding words to show the land’s arterial system coming alive in the dead of winter. I jotted images, scribbled a couple of stanzas, and fleshed out an inspired sentence or two. That was it.

The purpose: to collect raw material to use later. How will I use it? I have no idea, but there are plenty of options: a new poem; an essay; a scene description within a story or novel; an observation from a fictional character; for my next book on writing; a song lyric; maybe as part of a memoir twenty years from now. When I captured these images a few days ago, I never thought of putting them in a blog—but here they are.

Point is, I set my nets to capture the moment. I worry about the writing form later. By capturing the moment as it happens, I forever emblazon that experience on paper, which causes me to recall it vividly when I sit down to write a piece. It all feeds my purpose: to place my readers in the moment with everything I write.

As working writers, it is essential that we capture the moment — all the time. Personal experience provides the most authentic material for our stories, books, essays and poems, because we know it best. It teems with the resonance of being, requires complete presence, and often compels us to make decisions on the fly—all part of what drives characters in novels, for example. We need to become like newspaper reporters, ready for that next lead, “tip,” observation, piece of a dream, experience or recollection that can find a place into something we will write. The more we consciously practice “getting the news,” as we called it in my newspaper days, the better observers we become — and the more raw material we gather. It’s like mining for gold and storing away the nuggets for future use.

Setting your nets to capture life’s moments begins with discipline and commitment. Here are 10 tips on how to cast those nets and fill them up in your daily writing practice:

1. Set lots of nets. I have a journal in my bedroom, notebooks in the living room and office, tape recorders in both locations, and notepads in the kitchen and bathroom. My digital camera is always nearby. So is my phone — to record messages if I have no means of writing down a moment. These are my nets.

2. Cast widely. All you see, hear or do is the potential basis for a piece of writing. Record thoughts, observations, experiences, perceptions, conversations and dreams.

3. Don’t censor yourself. When you see something that captures your eye or fancy, write it down. Don’t grill it with your inner censor. In 99% of the cases, you don’t yet know how and where you will use this material—just that you want to have it available to you. Let it in.

4. Record at the speed of life. As a reporter, I often scribbled down interviewees’ comments as fast as they spoke. Only once in seven years was I accused of misquoting someone. I learned to be deadly accurate. Scribble down the moment as fast as you can while retaining enough legibility to read it. Try to write as it’s happening. Convey the speed of life.

5. Write in notes and images, not sentences. Unless inspired sentences or lines of poetry roll through you during the moment (which they sometimes do—recognize them for the gifts they are!), jot your notes in images and broken sentences. Use keywords and buzzwords; they will return you to the moment.

6. Sit and simmer … and circle back. After you’ve landed the “catch of the day,” sit with it for a few minutes, then circle back and add any images or observations you might have missed. Stay in the moment; don’t be reflective.

7. Organize your notes. Every week, I spend one to two hours gathering all the nets and decoding them, putting my scribble on the computer. I type rapidly, still not reflecting on the material. Then I put date, time and location on the entries.

8. Create a logbook. Gather your organized notes and create a logbook, whether paperless or in a binder. Along with your journal, these logbooks are the most important “research” materials you will keep long-term as a working writer.

9. Get back to your notes — soon. Within a day or two, return to your notes and see if something inspires you to write a poem, essay or vignette. Try to build out your observation in your journal. If nothing comes, don’t worry about it: The material will find its way into your work.

10. Keep casting. Never stop observing, fishing, seeking new moments or ways of looking at things. Allow these moments to visit you. When you set the intention to receive these moments, two things happen: a) Your mind becomes more creative and pliable, able to connect moments and convert them into fine sentences, paragraphs or stanzas; and b) The moments visit you in droves … liquid gold.

Cast your nets and turn every day into a life-gathering and experiencing mission. Then get it down on paper.

REMEMBER: The Write Time Writing Contest is now underway! $500 in cash prizes, plus publishing opportunities. Deadline is April 15. Check the Word Journeys Website – or the January 22 entry of this blog – for complete details.

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The Write Time Contest: Where Good Writing Is Rewarded

To order The Write Time: 366 Exercises to Fulfill Your Writing Life

Welcome to the most unique writing contest you will ever enter—one whose subject and content is entirely up to you!

In this contest, you have 366 different topics and approaches from which to choose…

Welcome to the first annual Write Time contest.

Here’s how it works: My book, The Write Time, contains 366 different writing exercises – one for each day of the year. Get the book and choose two exercises: one right up your alley, which serves your strong suit; and one that pertains to a genre, or style of writing, in which you ordinarily don’t work. Write out the exercise, and stick to the word count that it specifies, but write about something that impassions you and brings out your very best. Go for complete excellence. Push yourself. Surprise yourself.

When finished, put your name, address, phone number and email atop the entries, and email them to me at bob@wordjourneys.com. Also let me know how The Write Time is working for you.

There is no entry fee. Obviously, it will help that you have a copy of The Write Time in order to choose the exercises – and to practice new, original material on a daily basis!

Your entries will be juried by two independent judges and myself. We will award a total of seven cash prizes: A $200 GRAND PRIZE for the best combination of two pieces (they must be separate subjects); First, second and third for the best individual entries; and three Honorable Mentions.

The prize breakdown:

Grand Prize (Combination of Two Entries): $200
First Place, Individual Entry: $100
Second Place, Individual Entry: $80
Third Place, Individual Entry: $60
Honorable Mentions (3): $20

In addition to the cash prizes, all winning entries and Honorable Mentions will be published on this blog, and publicized on www.wordjourneys.com and The Write Stuff, the monthly Word Journeys letter distributed monthly to literary agents, publishers, editors, media and more than 2,000 other subscribers. I will also publish the Grand Prize and First Place entries as “special guest” pieces in my next poetry-essay collection, Backroad Melodies, which will be released as part of the NEW Word Journeys Poetry Series in Fall 2010.

The contest opens TODAY. The entry deadline is April 15, 2010. Winners will be announced – and prizes awarded – on May 15.

I look forward to seeing your entries – and to hearing how The Write Time is working out for you!

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10 Tips For Submitting Your Book, Story, Essay or Article Manuscript

To order The Write Time: 366 Exercises to Fulfill Your Writing Life

Are you there yet? Are you to the point when you can start planning to send your book, story, essay or article manuscript to a potential publisher?

If so, I’d like to give you some tips on how to get that manuscript into the editor’s hands in good shape — and to greatly enhance your chances that it will be read and reviewed accordingly. It never ceases to amaze me how many writers spend weeks, months or years writing something, only to lose all chance of getting it published the minute they put it in the mail or hit “Send” on their email. The reason? They don’t follow very basic guidelines for submitting manuscripts.

Here are 10 simple tips to properly formatting and submitting your manuscript in such a way that it is noticed, handled with care and given the attention you deserve for all the hard work:

1) Enclose a simple one-page cover letter stating the contents of the package, word count, and that you look forward to their reply in due course. Then sign it. Keep it short.

2) TITLE PAGE:

Name of Book (or Title of Article or Story)
Author’s Name
Address, Phone, Email
Approximate Word Count

3) Double-space throughout (on Microsoft Word, it reads as 1.5 spaces, but that’s the same as old-fashioned double spacing)

4) Try not to end pages with hyphenated words, or single words that carry over to the next page (widows). Also try not to end pages with only the first line of new paragraphs, unless they are single-line paragraphs.

5) Put a header and page number on each page. Header can simply look like: “Name of Book (or Title of Article) – Author Name – Page #

6) Use one-inch margins on the top, bottom and sides of every page

7) Your Table of Contents should also be double-spaced

8) Be sure to add your Acknowledgments/Thanks and Dedication pages, if you wish.

9) Always mail a hard copy of the manuscript to the publisher — even if they request it in digital form. Mail it in Priority Mail box or large Priority Mail folder, so that you have some basic tracking. Insure it. However, refrain from sending it Express Mail or any other form that requires a signature at the other end unless you are specifically requested to do so.

10) The most important tip of all: Before you send off that final hard copy, print out the entire manuscript. Read it very carefully and very slowly. Correct all typos, grammar and punctuation errors. Make your manuscript perfect. I repeat: Make your manuscript perfect. Nothing sours an editor more quickly than a manuscript riddled with typos and poor punctuation, no matter how good your story or article.

Print out this list and put it on your bulletin board, near your computer, where you can refer to it. Good luck!

(NEXT BLOG: The Write Time Writing Contest – with more than $500 in prizes!!!)

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Winter Time is the Write Time

To order The Write Time: 366 Exercises to Fulfill Your Writing Life

Many people have asked me to write about my newest book, The Write Time: 366 Exercises to Fulfill Your Writing Life. I’ve been hesitant, for the same reason that affects so many other authors: it’s much easier for me to promote someone else’s work than my own.

However, I’ve had a change of heart these past 10 days, while ringing in the New Year in one of the deepest freezes the nation’s mid-section has seen since the infamous winter of 1977-78. While stuck indoors, I’ve spent a lot of time writing experimentally, and working on the three books that I will be sending to publishers later this year: my novel, The Voice; a multi-genre book I am writing with literary agent Verna Dreisbach; and my next poetry-essay collection, Backroads Melodies.

In order to get going on a couple of these sub-20 degree mornings, I’ve resorted to The Write Time for warm-up exercises. It’s worked out very well.

Now I’ll share a few reasons why several reviewers, along with me, believe this book might be the most diverse writing exercise collection on the market.

First of all, The Write Time contains 366 exercises – one for each day of the year, plus a birthday bonus exercise. There are a number of series that range from three days to two weeks; however, most of the exercises are stand-alone. For the most part, the exercises are aligned to the seasons, in order to involve the body, spirit and mind of the working writer – not just the mind, a place in which we find ourselves all too often.

Second, The Write Time includes exercises suited for writers of every genre – unique in the marketplace. Here’s why. In addition to suiting fiction, non-fiction, memoir, essay and poetry writers, The Write Time contains material for screenwriters, songwriters, playwrights, letter writers, journal writers, copywriters, bloggers, graphic novelists and business/technical writers. Everyone in the writing universe is included. I didn’t initially plan the book this way, but after pooling together ten years of exercises I’d developed for my workshops, I saw that nearly every one of these categories was represented. So I completed the circle with the final exercises that I wrote.

Third, all of these exercises are true originals, written from the heart. The vast majority contains mini-stories that lead up to the actual exercise. Of the 366 exercises, more than 250 were “test-driven” by participants at my workshops, and/or clients whose books I have helped to develop, edit and promote.

Fourth, the exercises can be practiced by writers of all abilities, from novices and students to multi-published authors. Some of the best feedback has come from authors who are trying to switch genres, most specifically going from fiction to non-fiction, and vice-versa. Since I’m a multi-genre writer, this transition is of particular concern to me at a time when we all need to be fluid and flexible, whether we are writing personal material or shooting for book contracts.

Fifth, I’ve loaded the book with special features and information that give it an integrated feel. This is definitely the only writing exercise book that provides links to top writing websites and motivational quotes from well-known writers, musicians and artists and the most complete list of author birthdays in the marketplace – online, print or otherwise. For good measure, I’ve thrown in Celtic, Native American and Western/Zodiac sun signs, and space within each day to record your ideas, thoughts and self-prompts.

Finally, and most importantly, is the personal touch: You can re-adjust every exercise in this book to suit your own writing needs. My goal was to provide a single book of exercises that would allow writers of all ages and abilities to attain excellence in their chosen genres while also experimenting with other genres – but most of all, to make writing a lot of fun. Whether you’re a junior in high school, an MFA student, a teacher, journaling practitioner or professional writer, it’s important to always maintain dexterity in style, voice and content.

We’re going to sponsor a Write Time contest, to see who writes the best pieces directly from an exercise within The Write Time. There will be cash and publishing prizes for the top three selections; the cash amounts will depend on the number of total entrants. I’ll have more details in the next blog; the details will also appear on my website, starting the week of January 18.

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Filed under Adult Literacy, Books, Editing, Featured Websites, Journaling, Journalism, literature, poetry, travelogue, Writing, Young Writers

Writing Sense of Place

To order The Write Time: 366 Exercises to Fulfill Your Writing Life

I’m trying something new with today’s blog – posting the agenda for a workshop I’m teaching tonight on Sense of Place: Bring Your Settings to Life.

Think of place as nothing less than the stage on which your subjects or characters enter, take the spotlight, enact their part in the plot or story, and exit. Place and setting are the most important background components of any narrative, poem or essay – fiction or non-fiction. Sometimes, place becomes the foreground through its relationship to a character or subject. Countless great books have centered on specific places or groups of places; many others have created descriptions of location that are unforgettable. If reading is partially a matter of disconnecting from the world around us and entering another world (real or imagined), then place/setting in a book is nothing less than that other world into which were entering. How we perceive that other world is up to the author’s descriptions and characterizations.

How important is place and setting to a writer’s overall approach? In my book The Write Time: 366 Exercises to Fulfill Your Writing Life, I devote more than 75 exercises to different approaches to writing place and setting, in part or whole.

All of which makes writing good settings, landscapes and locations – with a mixture of character, color and precise detail – extremely important.

I’m going to write more extensively about each of the sections below in the next few blog posts, so wanted to show the overall workshop presentation as it will be delivered to attendees this evening:

IMPORTANCE OF PLACE AND SETTING: Establishes location/stage of story; creates color and texture for your narrative background; reflects pace of narrative; reflects traits and preferences of characters

HOW PLACE WORKS INTO WRITING: Often becomes a character or central figure in itself; gauges or dictates mood or tone; interrelates with characters; works hand-in-hand with plot; becomes the center of the universe into which you’re taking readers

EXERCISE: Think of a favorite location or place that you frequent regularly. Could be home property. Identify two or three characteristics that make the place so special. Write about those characteristics and how you interact with them. Write essay or narrative.

ATMOSPHERICS: Writing the outer limits and inner breath of your story’s world. Discovering and integrating specific elements of a place or setting that connect to your characters’ senses and sensibilities. In non-fiction, the aspects of place or setting that feed into the event or person on which you’re focusing.

ATMOSPHERIC EXERCISE:
1) Identify your geographic feature (river, lake, ocean, etc.)
2) Write as many synonyms for feature as you can
3) Why do you connect so completely with this feature? How does it make you feel? How does your mood, perception, vision change?
4) Write about a direct interaction between you (or character) and this feature

THE BREATH OF LANDSCAPE: Understanding the sensual relationship between yourself, subject or character, and place – and converting it to living, breathing narrative
1) Personifying the landscape – imagery, simile, metaphor, alliteration
2) Use of extended metaphors to blend character and landscape/setting
3) Use of very specific nouns and verbs to drive specific images
4) Merging movements of a place with the character’s movements

WRITING PLACE INTO INNER WORLD OF CHARACTER OR SUBJECT
1) The anchor of fiction and narrative non-fiction
2) Understanding of subject’s relationship to place – and how place defines the subject
3) Working with senses
4) Connecting outer observations to inner perceptions

EXERCISE:
Write an essay, poem or vignette in which a subject/character has a direct experience with a place or setting. Describe how the place/setting affects the character, both internally and externally. Note colors, moods, contours, time of day, landmarks, that relate to the character’s relationship with both the experience and the place.

WRITING PLACE EVERY DAY: Putting yourself in the center and writing outward.

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Signing at the Book Fair

To order The Write Time: 366 Exercises to Fulfill Your Writing Life
As an author, one of my favorite activities is to present my works at book fairs, writer’s conferences and book expos. We’ve got a good one coming up Saturday in Evansville, IN, sponsored by the Midwest Writers Guild and hosted by Barnes & Noble.

I’ll be there to sign and promote The Write Time: 366 Exercises to Fulfill Your Writing Life. I’ll also bring along my other six books and some promotional literature about the many services Word Journeys provides new and established authors.

Book fairs are wonderful. Authors from many states gather to talk about and sell their works, and to commiserate with each other. I thoroughly enjoy these conversations, because we can compare stories about getting published, promoting our works, researching our subjects, the creative process and so much more. While best-selling authors are always present at book fairs, I always seek out the regional authors, because their works keep the spirits, histories and personalities of their areas alive, and commit them to the printed word. Plus, they are very, very dedicated writers, artisans hard at work with their craft.

As a book fair attendee, I would suggest making it a point to seek out and talk with as many authors as you can. This is a rare opportunity to see the faces behind the voices and words, to pick their brains for their sources of motivation and inspiration – and, likely, to pick up a side story or two about how a certain character or plot line came into being.

For those who live in the Midwest and Upper South, the Evansville Book Fair runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 17. The Barnes & Noble store is located on the corner of Lincoln Avenue and Green River Road.

We’ll certainly have plenty of stories from the book fair next week on this blog … and an interview with an author or two. Stay tuned.

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