Carolinas WordFest Saturday October 15, 2016

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Interested in reading and writing? Want to learn more about writing? Would you like to meet some local writers? This Saturday in uptown Charlotte will be the Carolinas WordFest. Being a new member of the Charlotte Writers’ Club, I am excited about this event and am looking forward to meeting others in our community who are also interested in writing.

From their flyer: “Writers are a creative lot. We appreciate how reading and creative writing can feed the soul, and about a year ago, we let loose our imaginations. The result: Carolinas WordFest. The festival is a celebration of some of North and South Carolina’s finest writers with free, interactive programming designed for all ages and literary tastes. It is a smorgasbord that invites you to become engaged, sample something new and enjoy something familiar. Come. Be inspired. Have fun!”

This is a free event for all ages. For example, I will be spending time at ImaginOn helping children put their stories down and creating their own books. There will also be musical story telling in the afternoon which kids of all ages should enjoy.  Other events will be held in First Ward Park, Spirit Square Knight Gallery, and in the Main Library. For a list of all events: https://carolinaswordfest.com/about/schedule-of-events/

There will also be a chance to hear and meet different authors from the Carolinas. For a detailed list of the authors: https://carolinaswordfest.com/writers/

What’s an event without food? A few food trucks will also be around, so come on out and have some fun with your local writers!

 

Declare to (the) Next Generation

 

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Well, I said a few weeks back that I would take some time to explain the name of my blog. When I started my blog, I had in mind writing about homeschooling and sharing news in education (mostly in reading and writing). I wanted to share and review any books that I consider worthwhile, as well as give information on any events going on that other homeschoolers might find helpful. (I’ll go ahead and say, I don’t post reviews on books I didn’t like or can’t recommend. I may blast a book privately, but knowing the struggles of writing, I have no interest in being public about one that maybe just wasn’t my cup of tea; though I just returned one to the library that might make me change my stance on that). Being a mother, a teacher, and a mentor–sharing with the next generation is always very much on my mind, so hence the title. The idea to “declare to the next generation” is hardly an original thought. (Do I actually have those? Sorry; that would be another blog). There are several verses in the Bible that instruct us to declare or say to the next generation what we have learned concerning Him and His Name.

Psalm 78:4–We will not hide them from their children but tell to the coming generation, the glorious deeds of the LORD, and His might and the wonders that He has done.

Psalm 145:4–One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts. In the Amplified Version: One generation shall praise Your works to another, And shall declare Your mighty and remarkable acts.

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All of these verses express a desire and an expectation. We are expected to declare, to commend and to praise–not to hide–His works; especially to another generation. And that is what I want to do with my reading, my writing, my life. Since I decided to recharge my blog (focusing more on reading and writing and less on education), I thought of changing the name, but what could be more important than declaring His works to the next generation? Whether reading, writing, or educating, it is only because of Him that I can do any of these things.  “If we grant that as artists, our ways of creating and seeing begin with the creativity of God, then let’s look at the root of that imaginative impulse.” (Luci Shaw)

Though I am writing and sharing with my peers, as well as older generations (yes, there are still one or two of those still alive), my ultimate goal would be to pass on my learning and experiences to the next generation. What we learn is worthless if it is not passed on to others. It is also this thought that has inspired me to begin the book I am writing. But, more on that at another time.

The Forest for the Trees: An Editor’s Advice to Writers–Betsy Lerner

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Writers, Agents, and Editors! Oh, my! Different animals that work together to bring forth stories, articles, and books.  As a writer, I know I need to understand what agents are looking for (as well as publishers) and how exactly editors can be helpful to my writing. It is easy when you are struggling to be noticed and published to see these animals as the enemy that must be overcome and appeased, but it is much better to look at them as those who are working in the same game that you are, and who are wanting to help you achieve excellence in writing.

In the July/August edition of Poets & Writers, I read an article by Betsy Lerner in which she discusses being a writer, an editor, and an agent (all titles she has held and can proudly claim). She discusses the three different occupations–their differences and yet how they work together.

Enjoying the article, I found her book, The Forest for the Trees at the library and brought it home. The chapter titles themselves were intriguing: “The Ambivalent Writer”, “The Self-Promoter”, and “The Neurotic”; to name a few.

Working as an editor for many years, Lerner has a great understanding of writers and their many neuroses and phobias. I found myself laughing at something in every chapter; and though she is probably using humor deliberately, I’m afraid she is also very serious.

Among my favorite quotes:

“Try to remember that the time before you publish is the only time you will ever work in complete freedom. After you’re published you will be forced to contend with the shockingly real voices of critics, agents, editors, and fans. You never get to be a virgin after the first time, and more to the point, you never again have the luxury of writing in total obscurity. But like the married person who bemoans the loss of freedom from her single days, the published author who longingly recalls her past obscurity is a little hard to sympathize with. Though you may suffer from loneliness after you’re married, it’s bad form to complain about it to your single friends.” (“The Ambivalent Writer”, p. 29).

“Some of the most gifted writers I’ve worked with were also the most self-sabotaging. Lack of discipline, desire for fame, and depression often thwart those whose talents appear most fertile, while those who struggle with every line persevere regardless.” (“The Natural”, p. 33).

“Whoever you are, whatever your bizarre behaviors, I say cultivate them; push the envelope. Becoming a writer never won anybody any popularity contests anyway. And most writers couldn’t win one if they tried.” (“The Neurotic”, p. 101).

“Like finding a tennis partner whose ability is a notch above your own, you will play better if your partner’s game challenges yours. All you really need during those long years when rejection may get the better of you is one friend with whom you can share your work, one fellow writer with whom you can have an honest exchange.” (“Rejection”, p. 169).

This is a book I know I need to read more than once–for enlightenment, wisdom, and encouragement. Not only does it help to give me a better understanding of myself as a writer (and my fellow writers), but even more it gives me insight on those creatures known as editors, publishers, and agents.

 

 

An Update on My Blog & the Meaning of Its Existence

IMG_20160607_102046As it’s been awhile since I started this blog (it has died and been resurrected more than once), I’ve decided to spend some time not only updating my blog, but also explaining its purpose and what I hope to accomplish. I originally started this blog for a project in a class I was taking for my masters in library science. Since I was still homeschooling at the time, I thought of sharing thoughts and events on homeschooling that might prove interesting and helpful to other homeschoolers, as well others interested in education in any way. Reading and writing are my two main spheres of interest, so I knew my posts would be in those areas; as well as on library events and library news.

So, I’m not homeschooling any longer and that perfect library job has still not happened. Maybe it will, maybe it won’t, but in the meantime, I have become more serious about writing–my first love and what I’ve declared I would do since probably about third grade. When I was in college, it was suggested I go into teaching, but, no, I wanted to write. Well, I’ve spent quite a few years teaching–from preschool to ladies’ Bible studies–and I’ve loved it, but I still want to write.

I’ve actually written two books, so the one I’m working on is my third. The first book was read by my mother and several long-suffering friends. For some reason, I could never find an interested publisher, and, really, I didn’t know what I was doing in that area, which may have actually been a blessing in disguise. (I still don’t know a lot–but learning!) What happened to the second? I’m not even sure.

In the meantime, I want to continue to share about books I’ve read and enjoyed. Since the book I’m working on is historical fiction and that is my favorite genre, I am going to focus on books in that area but there will definitely be others–from books on writing to fantasy to Bible studies.

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Eventually, (and, hopefully, very soon), I will also be writing and sharing about the progress of my book. I’m excited at where it’s going and how much I have completed. I would like to share the first chapter on here at some point, but that will depend on how certain things go. I’m using a good part of that chapter to enter a couple of contests, so can’t release or share anything about it while it is out there being reviewed and scrutinized by “those in the business.”

I was going to also explain more about the title–declaretonextgeneration–but I believe I’ll save that for another blog post.

Word Crutches and Other “Various” Words

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Reading through the first draft of my work in progress, a very kind friend noticed a few words that were a bit overused. One of them was the word “various”. I had “various” birds, “various” foods, “various” colors, “various” fish, and even “various” mothers. She even suggested (gently) that this word might be a crutch for me.

That kind of hurt, but in rereading another chapter, I found another overused word–“curious”. Curiously, I seemed to have had a hard time spelling that word, so, really, you would think I would have been looking for synonyms even before I realized I had used that same word four times in a single page.

Doing another read through some more chapters, I decided every time I saw the word “various” that I would circle it with a blue colored pencil. What was it about that word? It’s not even a great word. It’s actually kind of lame. Boring. “Various.” Really? What about diverse? Manifold? Miscellaneous? Sundry?(Now, there’s a good word). However, it’s become a bit of a game to me to see how many times and in how many various places I have been able to work that same word into a phrase. I mean, you would think I had entered a contest where the prize went to the writer who could find the most ways to use a certain word in many different (and various) ways.

On the other hand, there are other words I’m reluctant to use because it might seem like showing off. For example, this morning I used the word “quirk” twice in my current writing. You know, “he quirked a smile” or perhaps an eyebrow. Great word–quirk. Much more interesting than “various”. But, I don’t know. Does that fall under the rule of not using a “fancy” word when a more familiar one will do? Of course, if I use it enough times, won’t that make it more familiar? Or maybe it’s not really fancy at all. Just because I don’t use it in everyday conversation doesn’t mean it’s not commonplace in another place and time.

Another interesting fact about words is that they can run in cycles. Remember when everything was “awesome”? I like that word, but hesitate to use it after hearing that so many people had “awesome days”, own “awesome dogs”, make an “awesome grilled cheese”, or saw an “awesome sunset.” Still, I don’t want to throw it out the window just because of its overuse because it is, after all, an awesome word. But, I will proceed with some caution when I want to describe anything as “awesome”. For now, when I want to describe a new book, a new song, or anything else that touches my soul, I will probably call it “impressive”, “astonishing”, “breathtaking”, or downright “splendid”.  Any of those various words should do.

How about you? Any words you tend to use as crutches? Or are there some words that you would like to use but feel they have overplayed their hand?