"It's impossible to discourage the real writers; they don't give a damn what you say." Sinclair Lewis

Monday, July 10, 2017

HERE COMES THE SUN - AND THERE IT GOES!

submitted by Mary Ann Cherry (author of Death on Canvas)

On Saturday, August 19th, which is the last Saturday before the scandalous upcoming eclipse ( I mean, who does old Sol think he is?) the Blue Sage Writers plan to offer a table of books during the Farmer's Market along the Snake River. What fun! Come to our tent and buy a book to read in the dark. You can have it personally signed by the author.

Now, all writers know that spelling and grammar are important. Our authors will sign your purchased novel. We can sign it for anyone you choose to bless with an authentic book - from Idaho - purchased before the sun blots out Idaho Falls - we promise. We will not promise that old devil, Sol, will not also singe the book. Come over and find out!

Saturday, August 19th, 9am - 1 pm
during Farmer's Market along the Snake River at Memorial Dr.


Sunday, July 9, 2017

THE ART OF A CRITIQUE GROUP


Submitted by Karen Finnigan

I love those blogs that consist of a list. If I could create one, it would sound neat and tidy and imply there are answers to all our publishing dilemmas, like these:

  • Ten secrets to getting published
  • Eight traits agents want in a client
  • Six tips for writing a successful pitch
  • Top three ways publishing will be different a year from now
  • The number one reason a book idea stands out

I would not try to create a list giving the secrets of successful critique groups. I don’t think they’re so easy to pigeonhole. Not that any of the above are easy either, but critique groups provide such unique challenges. For starters, each individual writer brings different talents and expectations to a group.

  • Some members write by the seat of their pants
  • Others outline every scene in detail
  • Some rewrite umpteen times
  • Others can turn out a quality first draft

Some of us want to be critiqued with brutal honesty. Give it to us straight, we say. Lay it on thick. We can take it. It’ll toughen us up for the real world of publishing.

Others prefer we go gently on their creative efforts, want lots of positive feedback for what they do well, praise being the sandwich bread into which are spread a few mild suggestions.

Some have outgoing personalities that relish the give and take of off-the-cuff talking. They thrive on the show and tell of sharing every time and might enjoy a leadership role.

Others are shy, preferring structure, where an agenda guarantees they’ll get a turn to talk or read. They might beg off easily or wait in the wings to be asked if they brought anything.

Some hate agendas and don’t see the need.

Some watch the clock and see time as a pie to be divided fairly.
Others measure time by creative moments.

Some prefer critiquing the storyline like a beta reader.
Others can discuss the nuances of characterization and motivation.
Still others like to get down in the weeds and correct grammar.

Some come for treasured friendships that go back decades.
Others come once and never return, though we never know why.

Some see traditional publishing as their holy grail.
Others are thinking about e-publication or self-publishing.
Still others are content to write for the joy of it and leave their writing in a bureau drawer for their literary heirs.

A few are too tired, sick, weary, busy, distracted to write.
And maybe, every meeting, someone is secretly thinking about quitting it all—a different someone each time.

But I do think we have this in common--a need for mutual support of our writing dreams, camaraderie, and once a month lunch out. It’s a list, I guess, but barely.

So, it’s not surprising that frustrations will occasionally surface. But for all the dissymmetry, it’s still preferable to not having a critique group at all. Through the din of personalities and differing styles, goals, and pen colors, there is headway made. There are glimmers of inspiration, commiseration over rejection letters, writing news brought from conferences, names of agents taking submissions, and contest deadlines. A few guidelines are helpful maybe, like toss your lunch wrappers, share your email addresses, and take turns talking. But nothing heavy, mainly because I’ve decided managing these groups is too akin to tacking jello to a laptop. In short, I think keeping a group going is more art, less business.

I see each meeting as a little incubation room, where we are free to learn our craft with each other as validators, but without the spotlight of the entire world watching as we clean up our mistakes. We celebrate successes together too, of course, because that’s an art form too and definitely worth incubating.

Actress/Commedienne Amy Poehler once said: to paraphrase, she was glad she had been pretty much left alone in her 20s to practice her craft with no spotlight on her. Some of what she did was good, some was bad, but all of it gave her experience and maturity to handle the success she now has.

May we each someday (soon) share her creative experience with success. May we each look back when we are published or republished and think the same of our humble and imperfect critique group. That it was worth it. That it gave to us more than it took from us. That it readied us, step by step, along the journey to our dreams. That, when we get ready to write our list of thanks for the inspiration, our writing group is right up there.

Maybe even number one.

Monday, June 6, 2016

CONSIDERING AN ONLINE COURSE? ASK YOURSELF THE FOLLOWING

By Carol Stilz, author

1. Can you get information on the topic of interest elsewhere on the Internet or from a book? Compare cost and time. One advantage to an online class you take at your pace is you can control the time. The disadvantage is often the cost.
2. Where can you look for information on your topic?
• Do a global search using " " marks to specify exactly what you want.
• Check self-publishing sites such as Amazon Create Space, Book Baby, Outskirts, etc. Often their free guides contain enough information to provide an introduction to the subject.
• Check the instructor's website for blogs that may cover some of the material you want from the class.
• Check libraries and Amazon for books on the subject. For e-books download the free sample chapters that often include a table of contents.
3. Is the instruction geared to your level of knowledge on the subject or genre?
4. Can you download lectures, video, power points, audio, Q & A sessions?
5. Is your computer software up to date and able to handle the online class?
• Check virus and firewall protection.
• Update browser.
• Update or install Adobe Flash player, QuickTime, or other programs necessary.
• Have a compatible video/audio program for downloads.
• Have a notebook handy with the support phone number or email just in case you have trouble.
6. Will you have one-on-one time with the instructor? This time may be through
an online Q&A, email, a tab on the course page,
7. Is a critique or offer to query, or both, included with the course fee?
8. Will this critique or query go to the agent or editor, or to an intern or reader?
9. Will the course offer an opportunity to network with other writers or offer an online critique group after the course is completed?
10. Will the course materials be available for 30 days after the class ends?
11. Can you use a tablet one day and a laptop another day? Do you need an app to use your phone for a class session?
12. Is this course unique? If so, this may justify the expense.

Of course, check the credentials of the instructor. Vet those agents. Also check for coupons, discounts, and offers that may give you a price break.

May the course be for you!

Friday, May 20, 2016

CONFLICT and MOTIVATION - by Sherry Roseberry

To my way of thinking, an excellent story plot is a blend of idea, characterization, conflict, motivation and emotion. Any writer worth her salt strives for a perfect mixture. Although, many fail to reach that end.

Some brew wonderful concepts that even Steven Spielberg would be proud to call his own. But, their characters are unsympathetic.

Others write characters to die for, however, the main threads and final wrap up are a little weak.

We’ve all read books that have deep storylines where we did not bond with the heroine and we wanted to slap the hero. Above all, great characterization is what sells books.

Most of us see conflict and motivation as a sheer cliff we must climb. It is not paramount that a writer comes up with something so complex and intertwined that even she/he has a hard time keeping track of everything. You know the ones....

The heroine's granddaughter married the hero’s grandfather’s butler who stole the crown jewels and shared the stash with his bride instead of the ex-employer, who is in reality a baby stolen from the gypsies because the Duchess was barren and now, unbeknown to the hero, he is next in line to be the new King of the Gypsies and is about to be kidnapped. Phew! Unless of course you’re hoping to win the Pulitzer Prize.

Don’t be so hard on yourself. Use something simple. Example: she hates small towns because she’d been teased/outcast all her life/ridiculed by small minded people/has gone without. She lives for the adventure of being a big city news correspondent.

He has had it with the hustle and bustle of life as a big city doctor. He feels people have lost their compassion for their fellow man. He finds his haven in Small-Town America.

Bingo! Conflict and motivation.

To make things interesting, throw in a few twists and turns such as she inherited the town from an eccentric uncle. She decides she wants to raze some old buildings and replace them with a money making shopping mall. He’s already in the process of turning the classic structures into a clinic and claims to have bought them from her Uncle before his death.

Not complicated.

It’s like cars. Think of plot lines as the nuts and bolts that hold the body together. Conflict is the engine. Characterization is the chrome-bedecked chassis and motivation the super-duper, steel-belted, road-hugging tires. Now, you have the car of your dreams. Well, almost. You need one more element to make it run. Fuel. And fuel is the emotion. Without it, this baby isn’t going anywhere. With it, she’ll purr like nobody’s business. And an editor will gladly throw money your way. To top it all off, you’ll keep those readers engaged to the very last page, dying for more.


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

ELEVEN THINGS A WRITER CAN DO IN ELEVEN MINUTES

submitted by Carol Stilz aka booklady777

If a genie appeared offering me three wishes, one wish would be for more time. Since that hasn't happened yet, I'm finding "lost time". Reclaiming lost time means using those minutes waiting for someone or something and worrying. I'll share my 11 ways to use 11 minutes and perhaps you'll share yours with me.

Since some places do not allow cell phone usage, I keep a small notebook and pen in my purse, pocket or briefcase. Whenever possible I use the notepad function on my phone, as well as relying on it for files, docs, photos, videos and recordings. With these tools handy and the list below, I'm prepared for the gift of minutes waiting in a line, office, car, etc. Choose one exercise from those below, and then, adapt it to your situation and writing projects.

1. Create a word picture of the place you are in based on the five senses. What are the sounds, colors and shapes, scents and tastes of this place? How do you feel—warm or cold, comfortable or uncomfortable, anxious or eager, reluctant or fearful? What prompts these reactions in this environment? If possible, record sounds or make a video. Take a few photos. This exercise helps me create a
sense of place.

2. What would a character from your writing experience in this situation? Ask the same questions as above, but record your character's reactions. Why would this character react accordingly? This exercise helps me get into a character's feelings and thoughts and motives.

3. If your character were in this situation, what would he/she do, buy, read, etc.?
What would your character notice and be most concerned about and why?

4. Choose one person in your viewing area. Imagine their secrets, wishes, dreams, and fears. Without staring or taking photos, jot down a phrase that describes his/her appearance. Can you create a memorable "tag" for this character, capturing speech or mannerisms?

5. Write a haiku. When my daughter was younger I wrote haiku while waiting for soccer practice or orthodontist appointments to wrap up. Haiku is a three line poem with five syllables in the first and third lines and seven in the second line. Often a season or place is described in haiku. True haiku, with the leap of thought between the second and third line is a true challenge. For this exercise focus on the imagery. A helpful template can be downloaded at www.readwritethink.org/files/resources/lesson.../haiku_pattern.pdf

6. Write a cinquain, a five-line poem describing someone or something. If you have the internet available, go to this website for an explanation of the form and a fill-in form http://ettcweb.lr.k12.nj.us/forms/cinqain.htm.

I keep the basic format in a notebook so I can write one in 11 minutes or less. The website
http://www.readwritethink.org has the cinquain format also.

7. If you are in a grocery store, imagine what one of your characters would have in his/her cart. What does this tell you about your character? For fun, you can peek at other carts and see what you learn about the people buying those items.

8. If you see magazine covers where you are, imagine your character on the front. Why would your character be on the cover? How would your character feel looking at the picture and caption? Imagine your character in a cartoon or super hero role. Create the cartoon or word picture.

9. If you are in a bookstore, pick up a book and read the first line or first page. Does it capture your attention? Why or why not? Be as specific as possible. Using different books repeat this exercise as much as time allows. Are there similarities in the openings? Are all very different? How do opening lines in one genre differ from another? Which opening is most like yours? Would you buy any of these books? What would you expect from the opening page? What do authors promise readers in the first page or two? Would your character buy any of these books? Why or why not?

10. Save a selection of sample chapters from a site that offers them free over the internet. Download a variety of samples: fiction, nonfiction, genre, etc. I save a selection at home during commercials or when I'm on hold on a phone. Then I can access them when later.

11. I'm a worrier in rehab from a long lineage of worriers. I discovered one exercise helped me reclaim minutes from my repeated worrying: jotting down a concern and pledging to let it go until later. Each week I devote 11 minutes to reading these worries. Amazing how many worries have vanished by the time I read them.

Finally, I say a prayer of thanks for the found time I discover in 24 little hours. Of course, you can always use 11 minutes to read a blog or check messages and social media, but you already know that's possible.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

The MONTHLY WRITING CHALLENGE

April Challenge - Submitted by Richard Earl Rice
Exercise: Creating a Short Piece Based on a Photograph

Haystack Photo
A keening, hungry hawk high above woke me. I rolled over, feeling the prickle of alfalfa stems on my face. The cut hay still carried the new-mown scent. My head throbbed and the whiskey and vomit combination filled my mouth. Another day was dawning.

Beach Photo
Waves lapped timidly against the shore, unlike the roaring tide of last night. The sand beneath me was wet, unforgiving. My hand ran over the last of her footprints leading into the ocean. A surge of grief tightened in my chest and I spat out the salt water residue.that lingered in my mouth. I had arrived too late to save her.
Submitted by Richard Earl Rice

April Challenge - Submitted by Charm O'Ryan

Exercise: Skimping on Adjectives
Describe something in detail without using adjectives … the use of color is permitted.
(First three paragraphs are written as instructed above; second to last sentence contains four adjectives, that are all the same, used for emphasis; a peek into Sandy’s eager emotions—her feelings—her excitement; to discover why she wanted … why she needed everything perfect)

A Picnic by a River
What more could Sandy ask for? The afternoon was perfect: seventy-five degrees beneath a bright-blue sky, no wind, a blanket spread atop grass so thick and soft she could sleep on it all night should she choose to do so. A lullaby, created by a robin, singing, harmonizing with the nearby river’s current, played lazily in her ear; butterflies of all shapes, sizes, and colors flitted softly on the pedals of various wildflowers planted on the knoll next to the riverbank—an occasional bee interrupted them now and then, but for the most part, it seemed the two shared the nectar naturally. With a quack, a couple of mallards took flight from the cattails aligning the river’s edge; a drake, obviously determined, gave chase behind them.
The basket setting beside her captured her gaze. She could hardly wait to eat the picnic she’d prepared. The foods nestled inside smelled more than delicious—even with the lid still closed. Her mouth watered with anticipation of her teeth sinking deep inside the sandwich loaded with egg, mayonnaise, pickles, and a pinch of pepper. Her stomach joined in the eager want to be satisfied, grumbling aloud as her thoughts feasted on the pie, still warm from the oven; a pie she’d stuffed with the three different types of berries she’d picked from her garden just this morning: blackberry, strawberry, and blueberry.
A fly appreciated the basket’s oozing fragrance, too, buzzing around it as he desperately sought entrance somewhere beneath the lid. She shooed him away with the back of a hand, and glanced at the watch dangling from her wrist. He would arrive any minute and the prospect of his kiss weakened her knees. His presence would complement the tranquility she and nature had created.
Oh, yes. It was a perfect afternoon, for a perfect picnic, by a perfect river, to accept his perfect proposal of marriage. Perfect.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

New Novel by Bill Corbett/aka Will Edwinson

Greetings Blue Sage members and blog followers. I’d like to take a minute to tell you about my latest novel entitled, LouIsa---Iron Dove Of The Frontier, to be released by Wheatmark Publishing located in Tucson, Arizona. It will be available for purchase at www.amazon.com on December 15th.

I write fiction under the name Will Edwinson, and this is my third published novel. It is a story loosely based on the life of Louisa Houston-Earp, Sam Houston’s quarter Cherokee granddaughter. Houston lived for a time among the Cherokee Indians. First, as a boy from age fifteen to age nineteen, and again later, when he separated from his wife Eliza. During this later sojourn he married the powerfully beautiful Tiana Rogers, a Cherokee woman, though he was still technically and legally married to Eliza. From this marriage came a son, Samuel.

Samuel Houston married Elizabeth Waughtel with whom he had twelve children. It is believed that LouIsa (pronounced with a long i sound) Houston-Earp was one of those children.

Not much has been written about the real-life Louisa. This novel is not an authorized biography, nor is it intended to be. A great deal of literary license has been employed in the development of the story.

Louisa, is a mix of what historical information I was able to gather about her, and what I was able to conjure up from my own imagination. “It is left up to the reader to decide what is fiction based on history, and what is history based on fiction. In real life she was married to Morgan Earp, Wyatt Earp’s younger brother.

My characterization of Louisa is that of an interesting well rounded lady. When necessary, she can wrangle little dogies and cattle with the best of cowboys and fight as adeptly as the roughest of gutter rats; but also, when necessary, she can don an evening gown and be right at home with Vassar graduates.

She is a stalwart, but genteel woman of quiet strength, educated in an Eastern finishing school where she learned the ways of “Ladyship” and studied classical piano under the tutorship of masters becoming proficient in the works of Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt, and others. She introduces this “high-brow” music into frontier saloons and actually wins the rowdies over into liking it.

Some of those rowdies learn the hard way, however, that ‘You don’t mess with LouIsa.’ She is a crack shot with her custom made .38 LouIsa Special revolver and has the temperament to use it when necessary as one rowdy learned when she shot him where no man wants to be shot. She is also a shrewd business woman. LouIsa has her heartbreaks to deal with as well, but she overcomes.

The book, will be available in print version and e-book versions for Kindle, Nook, and other digital reading devices. You can also go to Will’s website at www.willedwinson.com and read more about the book, and also read a few excerpts.

Corbett/aka Will Edwinson, currently lives it Tucson, Arizona