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Posts Tagged ‘writers’

As a girl, I loved Little House on the Prairie, and other books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. And I still enjoy them today. The television series featuring Michael Landon, Melissa Gilbert, Karen Grassle, and others didn’t follow the books’ story lines all the time, but nevertheless remained faithful to the themes and spirit of Laura’s books (and life experiences).

Writer-reader geek that I am, I visited the Ingalls farm, school house, and the house that Pa built in De Smet, South Dakota. The area is still beautiful and wind-blown. It wasn’t difficult to image the Ingalls family riding in a buggy to town or to the store where Harriet and Nellie Oleson spent their lives annoying others (including Willie and long-suffering Nels). A bit “off the beaten path,” I’m glad we took the time to visit De Smet.

These memoirs, for that is what Little House in the Big Woods, By the Shores of Silver Lake, and On the Banks of Plum Creek seemed to be to me, breathe life into American history. And I think my enjoyment of history was helped along by Laura’s books (as well as family stories and my father’s fascination with history – especially American history).

Currently, I’m working on several historical projects. They will never obtain the readership or popularity of Laura’s books, but I hope to breathe life into the men and women dwelling in their pages – for history matters!

And these words from a tiny (4′ 11″) pioneer woman still ring true: “The real things haven’t changed. It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures; and have courage when things go wrong.” — Laura Ingalls Wilder.

For those who’d like to view some historical photos of Laura, and learn a little bit about Laura and her family, husband, and life – here’s a link to a wonderful article: The Amazing Life of Laura Ingalls Wilder Part I: Old Photo Archive. Enjoy!

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“I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.” – Shannon Hale, author of The Princess Academy and lots of other books.

Great quote by Shannon Hale which reminds writers what a first draft is really like — nothing but a bunch of sand in a box! It’s the rewrites and revisions that take the sand and compress it, shape it, and add a little magic to it. Then, you have your story (or book).

Shoveling sand is where I am on several projects. I don’t mind the shoveling or knowing I’ll be spending lots of time trying to make a castle out of the raw ingredients. It’s all part of the journey.

Today, was a good day. I discovered 2 books which will aid in my research. Both are terribly expensive, but I think they’re worth the cash. I also managed to jot some notes down which will end up in a manuscript. And then there’s the story which I’ve been trying to build — it seems to have a mind of its own. Not such a helpful thing when the story needs to fit in a themed anthology. It feels like every time I get a castle nearing completion, a wave knocks it down and I must start again.

So to my writer friends out there, have a great day, whether you’re shoveling sand or building castles.

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People often ask me where do I get some of my more unusual ideas for writing and art work. My response is often, “Truth is stranger than fiction.” Then, I tell them some of the “true” things which were the beginning place for a story, poem, or painting.

Yes, I use conversations I over-hear or oddities I spot while traveling, but sometimes the internet has links to marvelously weird science. Here’s the link to a video of 10 of the strange, but real creatures on our planet. If they don’t inspire alien life on other planets, nothing will!

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Almost every writer dreams of finding an agent to represent their writing. So many publishers’ websites say “agented work only” or some variance of that statement.

The un-agented path to publication is often small or Indie publishers. There’s nothing wrong with that path – in fact for many writers, it’s the best path to seeing their books in print. Indies are more hands-on, and you can develop a personal relationship with them. The larger publishers often don’t have the time to develop a personal relationship with their writers – so many authors prefer the Indie route.

But what if you want to go the agent-larger publisher route? Where in the world can you find agents looking for science fiction and fantasy (or whatever your genre is)?

A great (though somewhat dated) source is the article, “Agents looking for Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers,” from Publishing and Other Forms of Insanity. The same useful BlogSpot site also has the articles: “Literary Agents Seeking New Writers” and “3 New Agents Seeking Clients – Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Nonfiction, Thrillers, YA, and More” and “7 Established Agents Looking for Writers – Literary Fiction, Memoir, MG, YA, Fantasy, Romance, and More” and lots more articles on agents looking for writers.

So if you’re in the market for an agent, keep on knocking on their metaphoric doors (more likely email inboxes), and best of luck in your search.

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After a slew of acceptances, I’ve gotten 3 rejection letters lately. All of them were modified with “good, but not for us,” or some similar comment. But “close” doesn’t make much of a difference to a writer. We still see the word, NO, in blinking letters.

Taking off my writer’s hat, and putting on my editor’s hat, I know if an editor takes the time to add any comment to a form rejection, you made an impression. So it really is good news when there’s a positive comment added to the “not for us.” And, believe it or not, editors do feel bad when they say “No” to a good story, new writer, friendly writing acquaintance, etc. We’re trying to publish the best book or magazine we can, and honestly,  we just can’t fit all the good stuff in.

With another take on rejection from both side of the editorial desk, is On Sending and Receiving Rejections from the Liminal Stories Magazine blog.

So, like me, when you receive a rejection, take a deep breath, shrug your shoulders, and find another market for the rejected story. Send it off again. Then, start writing the next story. Persistence really is the key to success!

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Vonnie2 Hello. Yes, it’s me, back at Whimsical Words. It’s been a tough 8 months since I fell and seriously injured my left shoulder and arm. I’m finally done with physical therapy (for a while at least). Plus, the heart problem discovered when I had surgery seems to be stable. Good things!

What have I been doing, career-wise during this time? Writing, editing, submitting work, and illustrating – just at a less energetic pace. Which means, I’ve edited and submitted more previously published work than usual. Finding markets which accept reprints can be challenging, but doing the research necessary to locate the markets means I’m meeting new editors. A good thing!

Fulfilling a New Year’s resolution made January 1, 2016, I’m finally sifting through my haphazard boxes of notes, ideas for art and writing, and contributor’s copies of papers, magazines, books, etc. where my work has been published. I’m trying to not only become more organized, but to create somewhat complete writing and art bibliographies. Again, good things!

At last, I’m going to return to a more “normal” routine on April Fool’s Day with an eye on completing some of the writing and art projects which sleep on my shelves and in my files like unloved orphans. Hopefully, this means I’ll have lots of new stories, poems, and art to submit to magazines and books. Though I doubt I’ll ever reach the output levels of Robert Silverberg, Jay Lake, or James Van Pelt, I hope to have many submissions in the mail (or email) in a few weeks.

As before, I will try to give my readers not only “what’s going on in my life” posts, but information which will be of interest to them (or helpful to a friend). And so, today, I want to recommend a wonderful post by the afore-mentioned James Van Pelt on Submitting Short Stories.

The first part of the article is a clear, concise list of the steps most writers would suggest to follow if you want to get your stories (and for that matter, poems, essays, etc.) published. Then, Mr. Van Pelt suggests an alternate plan for prolific writers he labels the shrapnel grenade school of submitting short stories. Besides being a most colorful name, it is an interesting approach.

Thanks for sticking with Whimsical Words. I hope to bring you lots of cool and thought-provoking posts in 2016. Here’s today’s link to James Van Pelt’s post on Submitting Short Stories. – Vonnie

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I taught poetry residencies for the Maryland State Arts Council’s Artists-in-Education Program for over ten years to students from kindergarten through grade twelve. It was a wonderful, but exhausting, experience. The first thing I wrote on the board when I walked into the classroom was: “”Poetry excites the senses!” And then, I’d write my name.

Because of the limited number of words a poet has to express their ideas, they must choose wisely. In my opinion, the wisest way to express yourself and grab a reader is to use sensory language. I used to had out a list of sensory words for all five senses, then I’d have the students read aloud the smell and/or taste words. I still hand out that list to prose and poetry writing workshops I teach – whether young writers, college level courses, or adults.

Why? Because a writer needs to be observant. He or she needs to see, hear, smell, taste, and touch the world around them, and use that information to enrich their writing. Readers can more easily become immersed in your world when they can identify with the sensory experiences your characters are having.

Again, I’m going to link to writing friend Steven R. Southard’s blog, Poseidon’s Scribe where he discusses another way for writers to think like Leonardo da Vinci: Sensazione.

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