Credit where Credit is Due

by Elizabeth Rusch
Published on: October 20, 2014
Comments: No Comments

COVER FINAL FEB 2014My newest book The Next Wave: The Quest to Harness the Power of the Oceans just published.  Hurrah!

Thanks to wonderful Scriva critiques, it is a Junior Library Guild selection and has gotten a starred review from Kirkus, which called it “timely” and “important.”  As I read the review, I thought about comments Scrivas had given me on early drafts and how they were responsible for much of the praise in the review. Here are some snippets from the review that I can thank the Scrivas for:

“well-written…” thanks to comments that pointed out each part that was not as well-written as it could be…comments like “you could condense this,” “tighten?” and all the copyedits that fixed awkward constructions and grammar problems.

“She draws in young readers…” thanks to comments that highlighted the adult-speak in early drafts and that pointed out the most kid-friendly parts and suggested I do more like that.

“clear explanations,” thanks to comments that pointed out sections that were confusing.

“appropriately focused and interesting…” thanks to comments that highlighted sections that went off topic or “could perhaps be presented in a more interesting way” (read: BORING!).

Without the excellent critiques I get, I believe my books would be rather mediocre. Critique groups help you do your very best work.  So Scrivas, WE got a great review! Thanks for all your help with the book!

Scriva Liz

Share

Would You?

by Melissa Dalton
Published on: October 8, 2014
Tags:No Tags
Comments: 1 Comment

Recently, I stumbled across this article in the New York Times. Here’s an excerpt:

“Swoon Reads, a young-adult imprint that is part of Macmillan Publishing, is upending the traditional discovery process by using crowdsourcing to select all its titles. By bringing a reality-television-style talent competition to its digital slush pile, the publisher is hoping to find potential best sellers that reflect not editor’s tastes but the collective wisdom and whims of the crowd.”

So here’s the deal. Once you finish your manuscript for your YA romance, you upload it to the Swoon Reads site.

Then you sit back and see what people have to say about it. If you get a lot of reads and likes on your manuscript, the editor considers publishing it. Submission guidelines are here.

Would you give it a try?

Share

Hail to Thee, Mighty Magnolia!

by Ruth Tenzer Feldman
Published on: October 5, 2014
Categories: Basics, Creativity, Inspiration
Tags:
Comments: No Comments

magnolia-cropHere’s the bit about this photo. It’s of a magnolia tree in bloom. Not any magnolia, mind you, but the one and only magnolia I see on my walk around the ‘hood. I’ve probably stopped to engage in fauna-to-flora communion with this tree 3,000 times. And here’s why:

Magnolias are an ancient member of the plant family. They are older than the bees, so old that botanists think magnolias were originally pollinated by beetles. As a writer of historical fiction, I relish a good story from way back when. What was the world like before bees? And as I am now writing a book that also includes the future, I wonder what our world be like after the bees. (Horrors! No, I’m not including that in the book. Too scary.)

Magnolias are native to several spots around the globe, and in North America those spots are in the Southeast. Think Louisiana and the Steel Magnolias movie first released 25 years ago. So what’s this plant doing in the Pacific Northwest? According to Portland Parks and Recreation, the magnolia tree is “common in Portland.” Huh. The writer in me admires the unexpected, the tree where you wouldn’t think it would be, the character with the personality quirk that surprises readers (and sometimes the character’s creator), the unpredicted turn of events. Yes, indeed. Inspire me with the literary equivalent of a magnolia next to its moss-covered Portland cousin. I am so ready!

Sometimes life is 110 per cent better when you stop and smell the roses…and the magnolia blooms. End of story.

 

Share

Let There Be Light!

by Sabina I. Rascol
Published on: September 27, 2014
Categories: Challenges
Tags:
Comments: 1 Comment

By nature, I’m a night owl. Still, in May I started waking around 5 a.m. to write before anything else. The new wake-up time was hard starting out, but not terrible. And once I woke, I helped myself stay alert with exercise and coffee. (I hadn’t been a regular coffee drinker before.)

 

Over the months, my wake up time crept up. The snooze button saw more action. I adjusted the alarm to 6 a.m.… to 6:30… And so it went. I got to writing later in the day than I liked. Recently I evaluated matters and decided to go back to a 5 a.m. wake up and writing time.

 

This time around, it was extremely difficult. I realized quickly why. Whereas in May it’s light outside around 5 a.m., now it’s dark.

 

Just about then, browsing through writing books at the library, I came across the following on page 6 of The Midnight Disease: The Drive to Write, Writer’s Block, and the Creative Brain, by Alice W. Flaherty.

 

“[…] many writers who hate themselves every winter for their sluggishness and lack of productivity could be aided not by “more motivation,” but by bright full-spectrum light for a half an hour every morning to treat their brain’s seasonal response to the shortened days.”

 

Wasn’t this serendipitous? I don’t know about you, but I’m off to get some full-spectrum light in my life. I learned they make full-spectrum light-bulbs now that fit in a regular lamp. For myself, I may also get a timer, to have the light go on before the alarm. That way, I’ll think it’s dawn outside, and be ready to wake.

 

This fall and winter, let there be light!

-Sabina I. Rascol

2014-09, light spectrums

Share

A Tale of Three Retreats

by Elizabeth Rusch
Published on: September 20, 2014
Comments: 2 Comments

Haven House, Hood River, OregonEvery fall, usually the first weekend in November, the Viva Scrivas gather somewhere fabulous for a weekend writing retreat. (If you’d like to learn more about these expeditions of extreme productivity and bonding, please check out earlier blogs such as DIY retreats, Insider View of a Scriva Retreat, and Gift of Gratitude: Thankful Beads, and posts about the retreats on their personal blogs such as Dreaming of a Scriva Retreat.

In a recent meeting, people began grumbling about how we had skipped our usual June retreat and that we all were starved for writing time and really needed to get a fall retreat on the books. The first weekend in November didn’t work for a few people so we started paging through our calendars.

“Well I could do Saturday the next weekend but not Sunday,” someone said.

“I could do Sunday that weekend, but not Saturday,” said another.

“How about midOctober?”

“Not ideal for me, but I might be able to make a day.”

And so it went, with no weekend being the perfect weekend. Amber suggested a one-day writing retreat at her house on a Friday. Miraculously everyone could make it. Then we thought about doing something close to home another weekend, so people could come and go as they needed to.   Two weekends seemed promising, so guess what we did? We booked both!

In midOctober, we will have four days at my friend Kate’s house in Hood River (Pictured above: a rental she is letting us use at cost).

Willamette Writers Scottland Yard writing roomAnd we will have three days and nights at the Willamette Writers house in West Linn (which by the way, offers six adorable writing rooms for rent all year round; we rented the whole house.)

So instead of one retreat with two or three days, we have three retreats with a total of eight full working days. What looked like an impasse turned into an abundance of writing time.

So if your groups is struggling to schedule a writing retreat, be creative. And think local.

Scriva Liz

Share

Revising The Way You See The Story

by Amber Keyser
Published on: September 12, 2014
Categories: Craft
Comments: No Comments
Pygmy hedgehog unrelated to revision but very cute

Pygmy hedgehog unrelated to revision but very cute

I’m working on a still-not-yet-announced series project with a collaborator. The two of us created the concept and fleshed out setting, characters, themes, and backstory together. We plan to alternate writing the books in the series, all the while acting as each other’s first and most important critique partner. In this way, we can maintain a cohesive feel from book to book. Plus it’s fun!

Recently this process offered me an important insight into the revision process. I start books with loose character sketches, bullet point outlines, and often a feeling or tone that I am going for. I have a tenuous grasp on the themes I’m exploring (because, of course, I’m still exploring).

As the book proceeds, the characters become fully-fleshed, real and breathing. The plot demands unforeseen twists and turns. The themes clarify as the feeling/tone pervades everything. Things change. Often (Always?) the original framework no longer describes what I have written. The narrative is becoming real, but the author (ME!) is still clinging to what I thought would happen or who I thought the character was.

The necessary revision is NOT making the narrative fit what my original vision was but instead taking the time to re-envision the whole concept with what I now know to be true about the various elements of the story.

From now on after the first draft, I will always make a conscious effort to ask myself how what I thought I was doing relates to what I actually did and use this information to redo character sketches, summary, outline, and logline.

Share

“I Bought It for the Book”

by Ruth Tenzer Feldman
Published on: September 4, 2014
Comments: No Comments

 

Hand-bowlRecently Scriva Nicole posted her thoughts on engaging in experiences “for the writing,” and I can attest to her enthusiasm…and courage…to practice her own advice. Way to go, Nicole!

My variation on Nicole’s theme rests in the selfie you see of my hand. It’s a small ceramic bowl from Turkey, and I had the pleasure of buying it in Istanbul a couple of years ago. No, I didn’t go to Istanbul merely for the sake of my next novel, although doesn’t that sound romantic?  But there I was, on a regular old tour with regular old folks (OK, folks of a “certain age”), and we went to the obligatory ceramics store.

I need yet another bowl like houseflies need yet another receptor in their compound eyes. Still, this little gem was hand made in the style of the Iznik porcelain famous during the 16th century, at just the time of my book-to-be. The flowers were right. The colors were right. And, because of the bowl’s size, the price was, if not right, than at least not outrageous.

I am finally writing that book which includes 16th Century Istanbul. My bowl does evoke memories of the city, and for that reason alone I’m glad to have spent the money. But there’s more. I find now that this bit of faraway with its long-ago design beckons me to sit down and write the story that’s in my head and the imagination that rests in the palm of my hand.

 

Share

Switch It Up

by Sabina I. Rascol
Published on: September 2, 2014
Categories: Craft, Writing Process
Tags:
Comments: No Comments

2014-08, changing switchesSwitch It Up – ONE

 

I read somewhere of a writer who writes at her desk but revises in an armchair.  Something like that.

 

And I’ve often read the advice to print out a manuscript when revising it, because we see it differently on the tactile page.

 

I stumbled across a similar switch-up that works for me: switching computer programs.

 

I used to write my drafts in Microsoft Word. A couple of months ago I decided to put my draft into Scrivener. This allowed me to take advantage of Scrivener’s ability to separate a manuscript into parts, sections, beats, and chapters. There’s lots I still don’t know about Scrivener, but overall the program worked well for me.

 

Now, though I’ve been writing in Scrivener, I send my manuscript to the Scrivas in Microsoft Word. Before sending them the chunk, I give the whole section one more gander. It’s amazing what I further find to correct and change, seeing my words lined up in a different way. After this further revision in Microsoft Word, the document goes to the Scrivas. (Then, yes, I paste the revised chapters back in Scrivener, to have the most updated version of my manuscript together in my main writing place.)

 

 

Switch It Up – TWO

 

Another way to switch things up is choosing another location to write in.

 

If writing in your usual place feels stale or tiresome, try taking your computer or notebook with you somewhere else. For several weeks straight, I’ve been writing regularly in a coffee shop. Recently, I pulled out my work while at the park. I felt refreshed, and approached my writing a different way, in a different environment. This also worked when writing in bed immediately after waking, instead of getting myself to my usual location.

 

So how do you switch things up for yourself to keep things fresh?

 

-Sabina I. Rascol

 

Share

Even Jane Austen Edited Herself!

by Nicole Marie Schreiber
Published on: August 26, 2014
Categories: Other Topics
Tags:No Tags
Comments: No Comments

Here is Jane Austen’s writing desk at Chawton Cottage.

 

Last week I stumbled upon this great article about Jane Austen and her editing process.  Yes, even Austen edited herself, which as I writer I shouldn’t be surprised by since EVERY writer edits and revises their work, but seeing how it was done hundreds of years ago is fascinating and really makes me feel a writerly kinship towards Ms. Austen.  It’s the same feeling I felt when seeing her actual writing desk at Chawton Cottage in England many years ago.  Actually, seeing her editing process makes me feel even closer to her, and makes me realize that we writers, no matter what era we live or lived in, really are kindred spirits.

Enjoy, and happy writing (and editing!)

-Nicole Marie Schreiber

 

Share

Critique as Creative Collective

by Elizabeth Rusch
Published on: August 20, 2014
Tags:No Tags
Comments: No Comments

I read a wonderful article in the Sunday New York Times called “The End of Genius” that I think captures why we Scrivas, and you and other writers, thrive in critique groups.

It’s about how our brains are wired to be in conversation with others about our ideas, about our creative work. Though this researcher focused on creative pairs and many critiques groups include more than two people, the idea of creative conversation still applies, I think. When we Scrivas critique, we go around and give comments one at a time. We address our comments directly to the writer. The conversation for each critique is mostly one-on-one. People do pipe in (interrupt politely) and add comments. But in most cases these comments are productive, broadening, focusing or stirring the conversation.

I have heard that in some critique groups, the writer being critique is supposed to remain quiet the whole time, taking notes. In both my critique groups, the writer certainly listens quietly and take notes at first, but most critiques become conversations, and I think that is good thing. Do you?

Scriva Liz

Share
page 1 of 29

Welcome , October 25, 2014