Monday, December 28, 2009

 

Writers - A great community to join

I've always known that I wanted to be a writer. I know there are lots of conversations of the solitary life of writers, but I also know that within the writers' community exists a rare camaraderie. Writers are a lucky bunch of folks, exchanging tidbits among themselves.
In recent months I have had the pleasure of speaking with several writers and they have been amazingly warm and forthcoming about their support. Some have even eagerly suggested writing tricks and others have offered to read my writing.
Although I've been too busy and have not joined a local workshop group, I have writer friends who rave about the amazing support they have found sharing their work in a group of other folks who love writing.
Writers lend their support to other writers as easily as they fill a blank computer screen.
An even larger group of folks to tap into as a writer are avid readers. They often have marvelous insight into a writer's abilities...and inabilities. I've had lots of those recent conversations, as folks make gift recommendations, and have often learned a depth from readers than has astounded me and made me think, especially when I'm writing.
So, whether a writer or a reader, I'd like to thank you for the influences you have brought to my writing and reading.
Is there any book, any writer or reader who has influenced your writerly/readerly life? Give them a shout out now and celebrate what they have brought to your blank page.

"Happy New Year!" to all the readers of WOW! Women on Writing and may all your writing dreams come true for 2010! Elizabeth King Humphrey is a writer and creativity coach. Besides contributing to AOL's ParentDish, she blogs at The Write Elizabeth, delving into creativity in everyday places.

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Saturday, June 27, 2009

 

What if a story could save your life?

by: LuAnn Schindler

A friend once asked me how many books I've read. Wow. I can't even begin to imagine the number of books I've read. Both of my parents were teachers, so I grew up in a family of readers. During elementary school, I remember trekking the block and a half to the library on Saturdays. I read every Nancy Drew book, some of them twice. By junior high and high school, my literary tastes changed, and I read everything required in school as well as multiple mysteries my parents had on the shelves at home. And once I went to college, I majored in English, so naturally, I read non-stop!

But the next question from my friend caused me to pause. "Have you ever read a story that saved your life?" Hmm. Well, there's... No, what about... How do you answer this question? I've read many books that resonated with me or what's happening in my life, but did these books save my life?

It depends on how one defines 'save'. To Kill A Mockingbird saved me from spreading prejudice and injustice. The Great Gatsby saved me from greed and misplaced love. Macbeth saved me from using ambition in the wrong manner.

Still, I'm not sure if I answered my friend's question. Is it possible for a story to save someone? Or do we simply relate to the ideas within the pages and apply it to our lives?

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Friday, March 06, 2009

 

Stop, Look, Listen

How many of you read your work aloud? Hearing your words can actually help you take note of several positives and negatives in your writing.

Positive Reasons to Read Aloud
First, who doesn't enjoy hearing something you've created read aloud? After all, the sweetest word ever heard to a person is the sound of someone saying her name.

The audience doesn't need to be an auditorium of people, either. After I've written a draft, I print it and shut the office door. Here is where I hear the flow of words. Here is where I note the quick turns of phrases I've invented. Here is where I self-edit my work.

You see, by reading one's work aloud, you constructively critique your own work. That, in itself, is a necessary tool all writers need to use. Our inner critic speaks loudly to us and helps us realize what areas need work.

If you're lucky enough to belong to a writer's group, or if your significant other agrees to be the listening guinea pig, you will receive additional feedback - another valuable tool a writer needs to use! My husband usually indulges me and lets me read my work to him. His suggestions guide me to make decisions that will only improve my craft.

Both of us have noticed that I use "pet" phrases in a lot of the newspaper articles I write. Those snippets of words are comfortable and help me get the point across. Reading aloud also has shown that I tend to use certain words repeatedly. This especially came to light when I was rereading some poetry I'd written about 10 years ago. Three words were in every poem. I hadn't noticed that pattern when I wrote the poems. Now, those words stand out like a sore thumb.

Negative Aspects of Reading Aloud
Do any negative aspects of reading aloud exist? If you live in an isolated area, finding a willing listener might prove difficult. Otherwise, I can't think of any reason not to read your work aloud.

Consider This
When you were in elementary school (yes, that's a stretch for me), one of my favorite times of the day was when our teacher would read to us after the noon recess. We would come inside, shut off the lights, and listen to her magically tell the stories of The Boxcar Children, Laura Ingalls Wilder, or any other popular book from the time.

When I'm reading a novel, I'll catch myself reading sections or phrases aloud to my husband. Why? Because they've caught my attention. I even catch myself highlighting phrases or sections of a novel because I will return to it and reread it, aloud. It's a powerful way to learn how the flow and momentum of words.

Reading and writing work in tandem, and I've often said that good writers are good readers. Reading your work aloud will improve your writing.

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Friday, February 06, 2009

 

Save the Book! Please!

I am using my post today to talk about sad news I have received this week--one is that my favorite independent bookstore has closed, and two, The Washington Post is no longer going to have a print edition of their weekly book section, "Book World."

First, my favorite independent bookstore . . . Pages for All Ages in Savoy, IL (which is in Champaign County) closed its doors on my birthday! UGH! Last week, I went there, excited to look for a book, and it was closed. But the sign on the door simply said, "Closed for inventory." I thought this was weird, but I surely didn't think they would be going out of business. They had been in the book selling business for 20 years, and people of all ages flocked there. Of course, maybe all these people were just drinking coffee, reading books and magazines, and using the free Internet service. Now, it is closed. Closed. Closed. Closed. I keep hoping for a miracle.

Then, I receive an email from one of my writing friends that says,

"The big news on everyone's tongue this week has been the unfortunate decision by the Washington Post to shutter its stand-alone book review section, 'Book World.' 'Book World' is scheduled to appear in its final print edition on February 15, though it will continue to be published online. According to the Washington Post, the printed Sunday book content will be split between two sections in the paper - 'Outlook' and 'Style & Arts.'

"Book World fans should take heart however, because if you are in possession of a connection to the Internet (which, if you are reading this, you are), you'll still be able to read 'Book World' online, and, according to the Washington Post's Rachel Hartigan Shea, 'you may not notice any change in our coverage at all and might even see some improvements.'

"This Sunday is one of your final few chances to read 'Book World' in print, so pick up a copy of the Washington Post at your local newsagent. Or start reading Book World online."

So, what is this saying about books? I'm hoping it is saying nothing. I am hoping, and this may sound weird, that these are just more results of our failing economy. I hope it is NOT saying that people are losing interest in reading. Are people really losing interest in books?

To me, books are the eighth wonder of the world. I guess I need to start convincing more people.
Happy Reading!
Margo L. Dill
http://www.margodill.com/
Read These Books and Use Them (blog)

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Saturday, September 06, 2008

 

Library Card Sign-Up Month Is Here

By Jill Earl

Did you know that the arrival of September not only brings fall and a new school year, it also brings Library Card Sign-Up Month? The American Library Association (ALA) and libraries nationwide want to spread awareness of the vital role libraries and books have in the development of a child, enhancing learning and ensuring that everyone has access to the information available at these treasured places.

For 2008, NBA great and author Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is honorary chair for Library Card Sign-Up Month and has his own READ poster. In a quote appearing on the event’s webpage, Jabbar stated, “The library has always been my own personal time machine. I can walk through the doors and land in any place, any time period in history. I didn’t have to wonder what their worlds were like; I could experience it first hand.”

Takes me back to my first library card. I could hardly contain myself after receiving it and dashed off to make my selections. From then on, visits to the neighborhood branch with my mother---and as I grew older---by myself, were the norm, and a lifetime love of books and libraries was born.

I read just about everything I could get my hands on. History, the sciences, novels, geography, poetry, plays, you name it. Sure, you can find practically anything on the Internet, and I appreciate that convenience, but there's something so satisfying about the feel of a book in your hands.

I remember one incident where I was able to pass on the importance of owning a library card and my love of books to children. I spent two summers after high school graduation working at my former elementary school’s summer reading camp as a junior counselor. My respect for teachers increased dramatically as we created lesson plans emphasizing reading and writing for children ranging in age from 6-12 years old, in a community where books and reading weren’t valued. The school’s library was a welcomed resource to us counselors, but it also gave me ‘street cred’ with the kids, as they discovered the variety of books I’d taken out when I was a student there and checked them out themselves.

Perhaps those kids managed to convince their parents to make a trip to their local library to get a library card. Maybe their guardian was inspired to get their GED so they could read to their child at night. Did my love of reading help develop a lifetime love of reading in some of those children? I’d like to think so.

I make the effort to visit my neighborhood library once a week, spending a few hours working on my laptop and browsing the stacks. I’ll fit in a trip to a bookstore a couple of times a month, too. Both are such a part of me that when I don’t do them, it feels like something’s missing in my life.

So, what can you do to help celebrate with your child and get the word out about Library Card Sign-Up Month? Some resources are included below.

I Love Libraries.org
http://www.ilovelibraries.org/librarycard/index.cfm

1) Make your own READ mini-poster.
2) Check out the recommended book lists from the Association for Library Service to Children.
3) Check out Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s website and blog for his interview with I Love Libraries.

About.com: Family Crafts site
http://familycrafts.about.com/library/spdays/blseptmon2.htm

Takes you to Sherri Osborn’s page with ideas to help celebrate, such as making your own books and bookmarks, with more links to other book-related activities.

Maybe you can pair the above activities with a related September observance, Read A New Book Month.

The library card. Can’t think of a better way to open children’s imaginations and introduce them to the world.

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

 

An Abundance of Riches

"Just the knowledge that a good book is waiting at the end of the day makes that day happier." -Kathleen Morris

Have you ever suffered from the "problem" of having too much good stuff to read? For my birthday tomorrow, my young daughters have each wrapped two books that I bought for myself at the book store. Simultaneously, I received an e-mail from my local library advising me that several books placed on hold are now ready for pickup (and a few more are "in transit" too). Not to mention that my in-laws sent several wrapped books, probably legal thrillers.

So now I find myself with so much waiting for me to dive into! Here's some of what's on deck:

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Juicy Pens, Thirsty Paper: Gifting the World with Your Words and Stories, and Creating the Time and Energy to Actually Do It

by Sark

I own most of SARK's previous books. They always inspire my creativity.

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Time to Write: Professional writers reveal how to fit writing into your busy life

by Kelly L Stone

I have read so many books about writing, and this looks like yet another good one. Annette also interviewed the author in a previous issue of WOW! Women on Writing.


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Money, and the Law of Attraction: Learning to Attract Wealth, Health, and Happiness

by Esther Hicks

Other books by this author are very interesting and helpful.

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Feel It Real!: A Guided Approach to Bringing the Law of Attraction into Your Life

by Denise Coates

I saw this one while on vacation, and it's getting lots of good reviews.






















*When You Are Engulfed in Flames

by David Sedaris

The latest from a favorite humor writer.

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What now?

by Ann Patchett

Bestselling author Ann Patchett's commencement address at Sarah Lawrence College.


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Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart: Thirty True Things You Need to Know Now

by Gordon Livingston

Not sure where I heard about this one, but it looks good.

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Old Friend from Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir

by Natalie Goldberg

I'll always check out Natalie Goldberg's stuff.



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May you be blessed with some good reading too!

--MP

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