Sunday, April 12, 2020

What tag line represents who you are?

Identity - we all have one - who are you?

We present faces to the world that match our roles: mother, friend, sister, boss. But in truth, who are we? Behind all your faces, who are you? What do you care about? What do you want? What cheers you, what causes you harm, or drives you?

What tag line sums up who you are?

I've thought about those questions. I've searched for answers, direction, and inner peace. In the distant past, I thought I was the only one searching for these answers. Turns out I do not have a monopoly on the questions. Everyone I've met has asked these or similar questions more than once in their lives.

We start as babies with a clean slate. People we meet, the circumstances of our lives, and all the actions we take, inscribe indelibly on the slate that represents who we are. But do we let the writing of others define us? Or do we search out our own identity? Can we learn from our histories?

 Each of us is unique and our answers will be ours alone.

 I don't pretend to have answers for you. I have found a few for me. However, those answers shift with my mood, my circumstances, and my heart. I continue to redefine. At seventy years old, I know certain truths about myself and have tag lines to match.

In stories, I like a puzzle, struggling characters, and hopeful endings. In my writing, I strive to offer those ingredients to my readers.

For stories, my tag line is:

 Stories that set things right.... characters that find their way.

Here’s a life tag line my mother taught by example.

 Leave everyone and everything better than you find them.

  • When we ate at a campground on a road trip, she picked up trash left by others.
  • When we used a public washroom, she wiped down the sink she used and the others as well.
  • She picked up children who had fallen, held doors for seniors, and smiled at people she passed.

Small actions, that left things better than she found them. They may seem trivial, but like sands make a beach, small actions make a good life. Her life might have also had this tagline.

When you fall, get up and try again, and never turn down a good laugh.

For me, this line helps me stay focused and to make daily decisions.

Do you have a tag line for your books?
Do you have one for your personal life story?
  • Is your purpose to help? Teach? Create? Fix? Build?
  • Which of your actions leave you smiling and joy-filled?
  • What is your daily intent? Can you sum it up in one line?

 Using a tag line focuses your intent and purpose for your life (and your books).

Friday, March 27, 2020

Teaching to Learn- what we learned

Teaching to Learn

ARWA workshop, March 26, 2020 video  presentation

The very first attempt at a video workshop or presentation.
We are finally digital.

Basically, re workshop content, I listed multiple parts of a "book" (see list at end of article) and talked about learning the pieces and then combining them to write a book. That breaking it down, learning parts, and then combining into a whole is one of the most recommended ways to learn a complex subject.

Additionally, we looked at how ARWA members have done just that, and used teaching to learn over 30+ years.

In order to teach to learn, we looked at the following: 

The suggested process:

1) Pick a topic (specific and narrow)
2) Research the topic and collect points etc you find appropriate.
3) Write down how you would explain what you have learned.

 The format:

 Shape your material into a presentation covering these parameters.

Why is it important?
Who uses it?
What does it look like on the page?
When is it especially important?
Where do you use it? (narration, dialogue, description?)
What does it do for your writing? 
How can you use it on your current MS?

    OR in other words:


    •        What is it? state the topic
            e.g. show not tell ( as Pam put it - tell them what you are going to tell them.) Explain
    •       Why is it important?
           e.g. showing draws your reader into the story, engages the reader)
    •    Who Says so? (ie validity) 
    e.g. Multipublished authors, editros, readers
    •        What does it look like on the page?
     e.g. give an example of a telling sentence and turn it into a showing sentence * ( you tell them what you want to tell them) 
    •         Suggest exercises for practice - this might be:
    •          questions on a Power Point slide for the group to do orally 
    •          a hand-out with examples to work on followed by discussion
    •          a task to do at home - taking pages of their work in progress and testing the lesson
    •          all of the above
       Tell them what you have told them.


    •      There are times when reinventing the wheel is counter productive. There are hundreds of articles and videos with advide and instructions and tips for preparing, organizing and giving presentations in person or on video. 
    •        ARWA has had a workshop on Research and Teaching to Learn. If you combine the topics, you have the way to find out how to give a presentation. See links below to get you started..

    (Note some of the videos open with an advert - skip the ad - to get the real topic)

    Videos / Articles

    How to give a presentation:

    Learn to teach what you know.

    Templates for designing workshops

    How to organize a presentation:

     5 Quick ways to organize your presentation

     Presentation Skills

    Possible topics - whatever you want to learn about writing and the book industry can probably be turned into a workshop because the rest of writers want to know as well.

    • - titles
    • - three acts (Content)
    • Introduction – 25%
    • Middle – 50%
    • Climax and resolution – 25%
    • Whose story?
    • What is it about?
    • First drafts
    •  Common words
    • Overused words
    • Verb structures
    • Qualifiers
    • Prepositions and their misuse
    • Specific nouns
    • Colloquial sayings
    • Dialect in dialogue
    • Participles etc
    • Narration
      Openings and closings

    Tuesday, January 7, 2020

    Great news-Brains can change

    You can't teach an old dog new tricks. 

      How many times over the years have you heard that? If you're like me - plenty. Imagine my surprise and delight when I learned IT IS NOT TRUE. We have no reason to avoid learning new habits, methods, languages, or life-skills. You can teach an old dog new tricks.

      The research and proof

    Norman Doidge,M.D.'s first book is The Brain That Changes Itself. This book featured on PBS'S The Brain Fitness Program (Youtube Link here), offers amazing stories about, and strategies for, brain flexibility. A five-star book if there ever was one. If you, or someone you know, has had a stroke, brain injury, or motor difficulties, read this book. It offers hope for recovery.

    An astonishing new science called "neuroplasticity" is overthrowing the centuries-old notion that the human brain is immutable. In this revolutionary look at the brain, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Norman Doidge, M.D., provides an introduction to both the brilliant scientists championing neuroplasticity and the people whose lives they've transformed. From stroke patients learning to speak again to the remarkable case of a woman born with half a brain that rewired itself to work as a whole, The Brain That Changes Itself will permanently alter the way we look at our brains, human nature, and human potential.

    Norman Doidge MD is a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, and the author of The Brain That Changes Itself and The Brain's Way of Healing.

    We can learn at any age. The stories in this book will make believers out of doubters. The hope offered to stroke patients, brain-injured, and others is remarkable.

    For the rest of us, we can learn about our brains and put them to even better use. Knowing HOW our brains work lets us figure out the ways we can maximize the ways to use our brains.

     For writers

    I like the possibility for writers to create characters with amazing skills. Extrapolate from Doidge's research and who knows how your next character will turn out. My 'what-if' brain is running rampant through the possibilities.

    One of the many positive reviews

    “The power of positive thinking finally gains scientific credibility. Mind-bending, miracle-making, reality-busting stuff...with implications for all human beings, not to mention human culture, human learning and human history.”
    -The New York Times

    Read it or watch on Youtube

    Sunday, November 17, 2019

    Dreams can come true if we remember and act.

    Do you remember your dream?

    Recently a friend told me she planned to take flying lessons. Her younger self dreamed about flying.
    Flying, soaring in the wild, blue yonder, is synonymous with freedom. Not so much freedom of the body, but freedom of the soul, the secret, inner us.


    Ask, "What did I want to do when I was still young?"
    Before the so-called reality of the world made itself known.

    • My mind flips to when I was 8 to 10. Sitting on a swing with the neighbors' one-year-old on my lap, I sang, making up the words as I went.
    • My whole being, experienced bliss. Stories.

    Symbols, alphabets, and words fascinated me. So many ways to communicate, to tell my stories.

    •  My brother and I learned a secret code.
    •  A visitor gave me the Korean alphabet, and I practiced the letters.
    • I learned the two-handed sign alphabet from a deaf cousin.
    • I wrote to record the stories teaming in my head.
    • I wrote comedy, mystery, and adventure to entertain myself and my friends.
    • I wanted to learn ASL -sign language with one hand.
    • I wanted to publish my stories for the world to see.

    Find a Way...

    A tiny voice in my heart said, "It's not too late."

    • I looked up ASL lessons on YouTube. There are plenty.  I did learn to say hello and ask/answer simple questions. 

    • I kept going forward and in 2014 published my first two books. Now in 2019, I have five published, plus one fiction and one non-fiction in first draft form.

    What was your dream?

    Seize your dream with your heart and soul and find a way to make it come true.
    We owe it to our childhood selves to at least try.




    NaNoWriMo 2019 – Day 15 and 51,098 Words - How did I get here so fast?

    What helped, what went sideways, and what I learned that I can use every day.

     1 - What helped.

    1)   Warm-up – I had written four hours a day for the six weeks prior to November 1. Although it was non-fiction I was writing, the habit of sitting down in the morning and again after lunch served me well during NaNo.

    2)   I do not have an out-of-the-house job – a major bonus.

    3)   As I stated in my thoughts after day 1, I had characters and a rough plan when I started page 1.

    4)   I have finally killed off my Miss Purdy (critic) and was able to write fluently without worry about it was good, bad, or even useful. I simply focused and wrote.

    5)   Being a fast typist probably helped as well. Plus, this is my sixth book. I’ve been here before.

    6)   Knowing my buddies were rooting for me gave me courage.

    2 - What went sideways.

    1)   My title was Uncle Lem Fakes a Wife. First off, Sam Logan butted in and took over the narrative.

    2)   Secondly Uncle Lem did not cooperate. He kept hiding from me. He does appear as a secondary character in the first four books in the series. Apparently, he doesn’t want his own book.

    3)   In the end, Mary Morrison (who was to be the fake wife) stepped into the lead role. After that, things went more smoothly.

    4)   My killer didn’t like her character sketch and operated in ways that didn’t fit it.

    5)   If my crooked fingers type wrong, the program underlines and I can fix. Don’t look. Just type.

    3 - My take-way from all this.

    1)   Habits are essential for high production. Write every day to keep in ‘writing shape’.

    2)   Be brave and if needed shift protagonists (or anything else) mid-stream BUT KEEP GOING.

    3)   Writing without a resident critic is so much more fun. Need to keep her locked up.

    4)   If not sure what to type in the beginning each day, read the previous two or three paragraphs, type AND THEN and write down whatever comes to mind.

    5)   Let the characters act how they want and change the character sketches later to back up their behavior.

    6)   Planning is good, (I always plan) but sometimes pants-tering is just as good and occasionally more enlightening. DO BOTH.

    7)   Once I have my Draft Zero written, my boys in the basement start to feed me what I need to alter, add, and delete to make a decent next Draft.

    Will I do NaNoWriMo again?

     I’ll see.
     But I know that I can write a useable draft in fifteen days if I want to.

    That knowledge alone was worth the effort.  
    My question in Week 2: Can I keep the pace?

    Damn right I can.

    My advice to you if you want to give it a try.




    Sunday, November 3, 2019

    NaNoWriMo Day #3 what I learned in Day 2 Whose Story is this?

    Help. My POV is all over the map.

    'Point of View' is a critical element of keeping your story tight, relevant and readable. 

    Your POV character is the heart of your story. We want our readers to identify with our POV character. Right?

    My story is progressing well. I’m at 9493 words at the end of Day2. I’m up at 7am and ready to get writing.

     Sounds good. But my thinker is telling me there is a problem.

    The problem on Day 3. 

    So far, my story has evolved with three main points of view and three secondary ones. The story isn’t about the character I’d thought would be my protagonist. Uncle Lem (the original protagonist) isn't getting a word in edge-ways.

    It’s not that I’m writing in omniscient POV. It’s that the characters keep showing up, sitting in a chair in front of me, and telling the story as they see it. 

     It’s like a police parade of interviewing witnesses.

    I know that this first draft is simply telling the story to myself. And that much will need ‘fixing’ when I’m finished this and get to draft #2.

    But this parade of people is crazy. Or is it? 

    The solution.

    The good part is that each character has great information and all I have to do is record it.

     Maybe my brain is revealing a new way for me to write a first draft. 

    What will happen if I work with it as it is? What if I do let each character tell me what they think is going on? After all, this first draft is not carved in stone.

    First drafts are meant to be fluid, malleable, and re-written. It’s important to remember that. 

    My decision. 
    I need to go with the flow and let the characters and story come out no matter what.

     This is not the time to get all ‘author-y’ and try to pound the story into the mold I originally had in mind.

    However, if things continue the way they started, I’m going to need a new title. Uncle Lem Fakes a Wife is not going to work if Uncle Lem isn’t even in the bloody book.

    Okay folks, I am going with the solution. I’m off to interview my cast of characters.
    Happy writing, fellow NaNo-ers.