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What’s Your Angle?

17 Sep

003Look at me, back on Wednesday, twice in one week. Will wonders never cease?

I’m actually getting comfortable with the new schedule, and that means more efficiency, and that means you are burdened with another blog post.  LOL

I received two more rejections for “Resurrecting Tobias” today.  Good thing because the kitty litter box needed cleaning.  Think about it…think about it….I knew you’d find the humor in that eventually.

Okay, let’s get this show started.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“Nothing splendid has ever been achieved except by those who dared
believe that something inside of them was superior to circumstance.”
– Bruce Barton

So, let’s talk about naysayers and self-doubt.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY

I don’t really use my rejection letters for the kitty litter box. I print them out and hang them on the wall of my writing studio.  I need a reality check daily, and a little motivation never hurt me either.

Check out the quote by Mr. Barton, whoever the heck he is.  Do you believe there is something inside of you that is superior to your circumstance?  It’s an important question so give it some thought.

Writers live an isolated life at times.  We are sitting on a tiny island in a vast sea, and there are days it feels like the rescue ship will never arrive.  Those are the days you better believe in what you are doing.  Those are the days you need to take those self-doubts, and the negative words you have heard from others, and you need to either push them aside or use them as motivation…but whatever you do…don’t believe them.

TIP OF THE DAY

Begin each morning by standing in front of a mirror and repeating these words:  I am a writer and a damned good one.

Then go out and prove it.

GUEST POST OF THE DAY

My dear friend Liz Davis (Radcliff on HP) agreed to do another post for me, so I’ll turn the rest of this blog over to her. I just love it when my friends do my work for me.

WHAT’S YOUR ANGLE?

In an early episode of Seinfeld, Jerry and Elaine forged a plan before heading out to a party later that night. The plan was this: If either were to become stuck in dull conversation with a stranger at the party, Jerry or Elaine would signal one another by patting themselves on the head. The free one would swoop in to pull the other away, saving the victim from ongoing boredom.

But they weren’t prepared for the inevitable. Both ended up stuck with twits, and both ended up patting their heads with no one to relieve them. Jerry finally broke free and rescued Elaine.

“Where have you been?” She asks. “I’ve been beating myself senseless over here.”

Like so many other Seinfeld moments, it’s funny because we’ve all been there. Whether it’s the chatterbox at the supermarket or the egomaniac on the plane, your insides tingle as anxiety mounts. Your brain screams in agony while you sit and nod politely with glazed eyes.

Whether you’re writing an essay or having a conversation, no one wants to tell a dry story devoid of that gasp-factor. Yet we’ve all had amazing tales to tell that simply fell flat straight out of our mouths or onto the page.

So how can plain stories be saved? How do we avoid putting readers to sleep with humdrum writing?

The answer is in the angle.

An angle adds an element of surprise to your personal essay or memoir. Although the angle is called something different in fiction writing or advertising, the gist is still the same. It’s what makes your story interesting, even if it’s happened a million times before.

Once you find your angle, you have a roadmap. A clear angle keeps your story trimmed down to the essential elements, making sure you don’t drift down any dead-end alleys.

For example, say I wanted to write an article on my current hometown of Hudson, Florida. This is about as dull and drab a place as you’ll ever find, so creating an angle is crucial. I could base my article on the subject–Hudson is six-point-something square miles, it’s an hour north of Clearwater, it’s in the Tampa Bay area–cluttery data no one cares about. Another option? I could interview my high school teachers who still teach, asking them how students here have changed over the past 25 years. This creates an angle from the subject. It adds interest–and perhaps surprise elements– to the story.

So how do you find an angle?

  • Talk it through. Speaking out loud is a great way to pull the angle from your story, especially if you’re talking to an audience (spouse, parent, friend).
  • Look at what’s trending on Google. Why is this story so gripping? The answer is your angle.
  • Did you overhear someone say something that grabbed your attention? Did it make you angry/happy/worried? There’s your angle.

So if your story has you smacking yourself in frustration, remember: there’s an angle in there somewhere. Find it and your muse will rescue you from that crowded party of boring storytellers.

I invite you to come check out my new blog called Mellow Mother. The tagline/angle: enjoying simple moments amid the chaos. At Mellow Mother, I’ll talk about easy creative projects, simple stress management, and painless teaching techniques. I’m delving into the subjects of Montessori education and the Reggio Emilia approach to learning, so I’m sure I’ll soon be writing about those subjects as well.

WRITER OF THE DAY

Check out this new poet I found on HP…crissalina is her profile name and I think you’ll enjoy her.

AND THAT’S IT FOR TODAY, FOLKS

My thanks, again, to Lizzy for that great post.  She hit the proverbial nail on the head with that one. I don’t think there are boring topics. I do, however, believe there are boring writers.

Please check out her new blog at http://www.mellowmother.com.

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Making An Impact With Writing

5 Nov

003Welcome to a new week of artistry.  Shall we begin?

Today I think we will talk about having an impact with your writing.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.
Jackie Robinson

So, what kind of impact do you want with your writing?  Are you looking for comments? Are you looking for book sales? Are you looking for acceptance from editors or the reading public?

Remember that negative responses can be considered an impact as well.  When I first started writing, I received a rather nasty comment one day on an article I had written for HubPages.  Now I admit, at first I was upset…angry….and discouraged.  I mean, nobody wants to hear that he is full of it or that he completely missed the mark, right?

Over time I have come to realize that even negative comments mean I have had an impact, and isn’t that why we all write in the first place? We want to make our mark in this world. We want to inspire or inform.  So whether the comments are negative or positive we are still making an impact, and I find that comforting.

The same can be said when you get rejected by a magazine editor or a book publisher.  There is one thing that is much worse than being rejected by an editor and that, my friends, is to never have tried and thus assured yourself of never having a chance.  Being rejected puts you in great company and it means that you made the effort and took the chance, which means you have big cajones. J

It’s all about perspective my friends.

SITE OF THE DAY

If you don’t already follow Kelly’s blog then do so now.  Her blog is called The Real Housewife and you can find it here.

PROMPT OF THE DAY

town_131

One of my newer pictures from my trip to Pe Ell this weekend.  Yes, the new travel series, Exploring The Back Roads, has its initial entry today and you can find that here.

As for this picture, see me, feel me, touch me, sing along with me. J  Use your senses and write a paragraph.

CONTEST OF THE DAY

The White Pine Press Poetry Contest is taking submissions now until November 30th. Entry fee is $20 with a $1,000 first prize.  Here are those submission guidelines.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY

I’m currently writing an article about writing excellence.  Simply stated, I do not understand writing without trying to be excellent in writing….but then, I don’t understand parenting without trying to be excellent in parenting, or any other job or vocation or hobby or whatever.  We have limited time here on earth; we have incredible gifts and talents; why would we settle for mediocrity?

I just don’t get those who are willing to settle for 50%.cropped-summer-of-2010-015.jpg

THAT’S ALL FOR TODAY

Anything that I missed? Probably, but if so I’ll do it again on Thursday and try to plug the holes. Have a great week of writing and remember to drop me a line if I can do anything to help you and your writing career.

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

 

Not Writing For Better Writing

20 May

003Welcome back!  I hope you had a restful weekend and that your mind is refreshed and bubbling over with ideas.  That leads me to the tip of the day.  Shall we begin?

TIP OF THE DAY

Take a break!  This is one I recently began adopting.  Anyone who knows me knows that I am somewhat of a prolific writer. I churn out the words daily in an attempt to beat the clock and Father Time….but….

I have learned that I am much more refreshed and my writing is much better if I take weekends off.  I can’t say in truth that my mind shuts down because I am always coming up with ideas for articles, but I do not allow myself to write on weekends.

A good friend of mine, Cyndi, talked about this recently. She said she needs to get out in nature and feed her soul, and I believe that is crucial for a writer.  All work and no play makes for a very one-dimensional individual.  Give yourself permission to go have fun.  Your writing will be better because of it.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

In Hollywood the woods are full of people that learned to write but evidently can’t read. If they could read their stuff, they’d stop writing.
Will Rogers
I’m laughing out loud at this quote. Why? Because it is so true in the world of writing.

I found great inspiration the other day when I came upon a novel in the library that was so poorly written as to be embarrassing.  The dialogue was dull….the plot juvenile….the phrasing stunted….and this guy was published!

What I deduced from that was that a lot of writing and being published is being in the right place at the right time.  There are many great writers who have never been published.  There are many mediocre writers who have been published.  Do not bother to try and make sense of it all.  Just hold out hope and keep writing.

WRITER OF THE DAY

Say hello to my dear friend Vicki.  You can find her here on HubPages.  She is a reflective sort with wonderful insights about life, and on top of that she is a fine human being.  Give her a shout out and in the process do yourself a favor. vicki

CONTEST OF THE DAY

500 Words Writing Contest can be found here.  Write a short story of 500 words or less.  Due date in September.  Great contest for you flash fiction folks out there.

SITE OF THE DAY

Practical tips on writing a book from 23 authors is here.  I ran across this blog a few days ago and found it interesting. There are some very good suggestions from some people who know what they are talking about.

AUTHOR OF THE DAY

I’m not much for religious writing, and I try to avoid preaching about God.  Having said that, years ago I came across Og Mandino and found his books so good that I devoured them all.

Mandino wrote in such a simple style that one could easily read an entire book in a day. He was a master storyteller and every single book had an important, inspirational message. I highly recommend his books.  If you ever want a kick in the butt motivational boost, try reading “The God Memorandum.”

PROMPT OF THE DAY

odds and ends drive on Nov 11, 2012 002

Here is another picture from the beautiful Pacific Northwest.  If you have never been here then you owe yourself a visit. We really are surrounded by stunning natural beauty.

MORE TOMORROW

Enough for one day!  Have a great day of writing and I’ll toss some more tidbits at you tomorrow. Thanks, as always, for the visit.

Bill

Perseverance and Writing

15 May

003Welcome back my friends and I hope you are having a productive and happy May 15th.

How goes the writing?  Are you kicking out the words and feeling good about it? I hope so because you are one of the special people.  You are right there with all the other artists, writers and musicians who bring beauty into this world through your craft.  Take it seriously, be proud of what you do and never give up.

TIP OF THE DAY

Persevere!  There is your tip for the day.  You must be made of the right stuff if you want to succeed in this writing business.  You cannot be discouraged when your writing is not recognized and immediately praised.  You need to persevere!

QUOTE OF THE DAY

After being Turned Down by numerous Publishers, he had decided to write for Posterity.

 

George Ade (1866 – 1944)

Sound familiar?  There are two points worth talking about in that quote.  One has to do with being turned down by publishers.  This is a way of life for a writer, and those who succeed are not necessarily the best writers but rather they are the writers who did not give up.

I sold an article to a magazine yesterday.  It was the second article sold in two years of sending in submissions.  Now true, I do not submit articles every single day but still…two in two years?  Why keep trying, right?  Well, if you have to ask that question then you are not a writer. We keep trying because that is what we do, and that is the only way to get published. The odds are against us but we keep trying.

The other part of that quote I want to talk about is writing for posterity.  I can only speak for myself, but I find great comfort and joy knowing that what I write will live on long after I am gone.  My words will continue to float around the internet for years after I die, just as the words of all writers before me still live on.  I am writing a legacy and it will be a forever legacy. I love that thought and you should too.

BOOK OF THE DAY

I have spotlighted this book before but I want to do it again. This book is so important for those of you who plan on submitting work to agents, publishers or editors.  It is the Writer’s Market and you can find it here on Amazon.

What’s so special about this book? Well, it has all the information you will ever need to submit your work for publication.  It has hundreds of pages of magazine listings, agent listings and publisher listings. It has submission guidelines for each listing, and it has useful information about query letters and other tools you will need.

I buy this book every year because I consider it the Bible of Writers!  Check it out on ebay and you might find a year-old copy for cheap.

PROMPT OF THE DAY

November 2012 around Olympia 012

Looking for a little inspiration? Maybe you will find it in this picture.

CONTEST OF THE DAY

The Autumn House Contest can be found here.  The entry deadline is coming soon, so check it out and see how it feels to you.

MORE TOMORROW

Yes, parting is such sweet sorrow, but time is short and I have a few submissions to make.  When the writing stops the promotion starts, and when the promotion stops the writing starts again.  Welcome to the life of a writer.

Hopefully I will see you all tomorrow…same time, same place.

Bill

Be Your Own Writer

10 May

003Welcome back on this 10th day of May. I hope you are well and feeling your oats this morning.

Today let’s talk a bit about your writer’s voice.

Whether you realize it or not, you have a distinctive writer’s voice. I’m sure some of you are saying that you haven’t developed your voice yet, or you don’t know what it is yet, but the fact is that you are unique among writers and as such you have a unique voice.  Nobody writes exactly the way that you write.  I find that comforting and you should too.

Think about it!  There are seven billion people on this planet and nobody has your writer’s voice. Isn’t that remarkable?  Now true, you may not be pleased with your current voice, in which case start taking steps to change it.  What kind of voice do you want to have?  I faced this question about sixteen months ago, and one day it hit me that I wanted to develop a voice that was comfortable for my readers, as though we were sitting with each other having coffee….so I worked on that and I’m feeling pretty good about the results.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

““Be yourself. Above all, let who you are, what you are, what you believe, shine through every sentence you write, every piece you finish.””

John Jakes

 

Again, we are discussing the writer’s voice.  Be yourself. Find the voice you want and cultivate it. In the end, being you is much better than being a counterfeit of someone else.

TIP OF THE DAY

So, how do you find your voice?  Consider these tips:

1)      Picture your audience and write to them. What does your audience look like? Who are they? What do they like? Now, how are you going to reach them? How do you need to present your information so they will understand?

2)      Experiment with different genres.  Give poetry a try.  Try personal essays and try narratives.  Who knows, you just might stumble upon something that works for you.

WRITER OF THE DAY

Meet my dear friend Eddy.  You can find her at HubPages by following this link.

If you want to read a distinct voice, read some of Eddy’s works. She makes her readers feel like they are sitting in the garden with her, sipping tea and speaking of beautiful things.  I promise you will enjoy her work.

BOOK OF THE DAY

Would you like to read a book about writer’s voice? Check out this one on Amazon.

PROMPT OF THE DAY

Monarch Sculpture Park...Tenino July 2011 082

Try a little writing exercise with this picture.  Write one stanza in poetry about what you see here.  Then write one paragraph of a personal essay.  Just a little practice that might help you develop that voice.

VIDEO OF THE DAY

I love this video of Quentin Tarantino discussing writer’s voice. You can see it here on YouTube.

 

AND THAT’S IT FOR THIS WEEK

I will be back on Monday with another installment of Artistry With Words. I hope this blog today helped to clarify a few things concerning your writer’s voice.  Without it we are nothing. J

Have a great weekend my friends and as always, thank you for visiting my humble site.

Bill

Perseverance Is A Writer’s Sustenance

29 Apr

003QUOTE OF THE DAY

“It is impossible to discourage the real writers – they don’t give a damn what you say, they’re going to write.”~Sinclair Lewis

Truer words were never written.  Discouragement is inevitable when writing.  How can it not be? We sit, by ourselves, for endless hours writing words in hopes that someone will read them. We face rejections slips, we hear negatives and days can go by without any positive feedback…..and still we write.  So although discouragement may be inevitable it is not crippling.  Read writers write!  Despite the setbacks and the seemingly insurmountable odds, real writers write.  It is as though we are driven to do so.  Some inner voice demands that we sit down and spill our hearts and open our souls for dissection.

I wouldn’t have it any other way. J

TIP OF THE DAY

Develop your character.  Use these prompts in describing characters in your story or book.

  • Name
  • Age
  • Job
  • Ethnicity
  • Appearance
  • Residence
  • Pets
  • Religion
  • Hobbies
  • Single or married?
  • Children?
  • Temperament

 

Do not skimp on this.  Readers want to associate with a character. When I think back to some of my favorite characters in literature, I realize that they had some aspect of their character that I could relate to in some way, and the author is the one who made that happen.  It is your job to bring life to a character.

SITE OF THE DAY

I use Brainy Quotes almost daily, either as a supporting quote in my articles or as inspiration.  You can find this great site here.  Just look under a topic heading and you will find several quotes that you can use in your next article.

WRITER OF THE DAY

Visit Deb, or aviannovice, on HubPages.  You can find her here.

She does a wonderful weekly article about Life at Boomer Lake where she does a photo essay of the birds who visit her favorite lake in Oklahoma.  However, it is her poetry that I really love.  No matter, get to know her.  She is a quality human being who, just like all of us, is just trying to make it in this business.

CONTEST OF THE DAY

Free entry for this haiku contest with a cash prize of $100…entry deadline in July.  You can find it here.

PROMPT OF THE DAY

July 21, 2012 041

This was taken around the Olympia area.  I’m not going to tell you what it is because that’s not the point of a writing prompt. What is important is what you think it is, or what you think of when you see it.  Have fun!

MORE TOMORROW

Yes, I will return on Tuesday with more tips, suggestions and recommendations.  Thanks for stopping by and have a great day writing.

Bill

Good Writers Touch Life Often

26 Apr

003Good morning, or afternoon, and welcome back to Artistry With Words.  My name is Bill and I’ll be your host during the next ten minutes while you walk our aisles and see if you spot anything worth keeping.  Enjoy yourselves and please, take the free samples that are available to you all.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“The good writers touch life often.  The mediocre ones run a quick hand over her.  The bad ones rape her and leave her for the flies.”~Ray Bradbury

Oh my God, read that quote again.  Good writers touch life often…bad ones rape her.  There is not much room for doubt in that quote.  It is pretty obvious where Mr. Bradbury sits regarding good writing, and I so agree.

As a writer on HubPages I have access to hundreds of thousands of articles, and at least 100 new articles pop up daily.  After sixteen months on that site I am still amazed by the number of bad articles I see. They are lifeless and undeserving of the term “writing.” Then, just about the time I want to throw up my hands and scream, someone will come along with an exquisite piece of writing that makes my heart soar…and I am relieved and grateful.

Writers have a rich tradition to uphold.  I believe that and so should you. J

TIP OF THE DAY

From Alice Schroeder, author of “The Snowball”

  • Do some living so you have some interesting experiences to write about
  • Become an expert
  • Seek out, listen to and beg for criticism.

A three-for-one sale today.  Do some living….if we can refer back to Bradbury’s quote, that good writers touch life often, then we have to conclude that good writers have experienced life.

For those of you finding your niche…once you find it, you must portray yourself as an expert in that niche.

And last but not least, we will never improve if we are not willing to listen to criticism.  It’s all well and good to have your family and friends tell you how good you are, but what will really move you to the next level is honest criticism.

SITE OF THE DAY

I love the site Funds For Writers by Hope Clark.  You can find it here.  I have followed this site for over a year now, and it offers many opportunities for fellowships, workshops, contests and opportunities to find available funds out there.  Sign up for her newsletter and have it delivered to your email. I think you’ll like it.

WRITER OF THE DAY

Say hello to Melanie Chisnall.  You can find her blog, Scribbles and Smiles, right here

Why do I recommend Mel?  I guess the main reason is because she writes with her heart.  She cares deeply about animals and healthy living, and I love her passion for life. Like me, she quit her full-time job to become a writer.  She made the commitment, followed her heart and chased after her dream. How can you not root for a person like her?

BOOK OF THE DAY

The title is simply “Love,” and it is written by the late Leo Buscaglia.  Get it….you will not be sorry.  Mr. Buscaglia was a world-renowned author who wrote about relationships and yes, love, and also taught classes about those subjects.  His perspective is delightful.  This is a small book, only 205 pages in paperback, and you can find it online for a buck or so.  It is well-worth reading.

PROMPT OF THE DAY

street fair Aug 2012 034

This is the sign (mural) that welcomes people to our neighborhood, the Northeast Neighborhood of Olympia, Washington.  What do you see? What do you feel when you look at the picture?

SEE YOU AGAIN MONDAY

That’s right, I now take weekends off, so I’ll be back with you on Monday, April 29th, for more tips and suggestions.  Have a great weekend!

Bill

Do You Bleed Writing?

23 Apr

003QUOTE OF THE DAY
“I would hurl words into this darkness and wait for an echo, and if an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight, to create a sense of hunger for life that gnaws in us all.” ~Richard Wright, American Hunger, 1977

Isn’t that quote beautiful?  To create a sense of hunger for life that gnaws in us all….WOW!  That, my friends, is as good as writing gets.  If that happens to me once a month I am feeling on top of the world.  Every once in awhile I will write a sentence that leaves me with goose bumps.  Those are the times that feed me until the next time comes along.

TIP OF THE DAY

I was taught a long time ago to proofread a minimum of three times, and to do each proofreading differently.  Once I have finished a piece, I walk away from it for awhile.  When I return, I give it a reading.  Then I have Bev read it.  Then I read it out loud to Bev.  If I haven’t caught my mistakes by then there is no hope for me as a writer. LOL

SITE OF THE DAY

From Writer’s Digest comes a site of daily writing prompts.  You can find this very helpful site here.

This is a perfect site for those who sometimes struggle with writer’s block, or just need some inspiration to get the mental cogs turning.

BOOK OF THE DAY

I highly recommend “The Cultural Creatives” by Paul Ray and Sherry Anderson.  This fascinating book draws upon thirteen years of survey research, and it discusses a new culture rising in the United States, a culture based on caring deeply about ecology and saving the planet; on relationships, peace, and social justice; on self-actualization, spirituality, and self-expression.

As writers you might find this helpful as you consider who your target audience is, and how demographics have changed drastically over the years.

WRITER OF THE DAY

A new feature starting today, this section will highlight a writer who I have personally read, one who has excellent writing skills and an inner voice that shouts loudly through their writing.

Today’s writer of the day is Linda Crist.   You can find her writings about life and social change here on her HubPages site

CONTEST OF THE DAY

FanStory has a non-fiction writing contest with a June 16th deadline.  Might be worth a look at it offers a $100 first place prize.  You can find it here.

WRITING PROMPT OF THE DAY

Here is another picture from my personal collection.  I am blessed to live in such a beautiful state. It allows me to take great pictures each and every day.

July drive in Olympia 033

So what do you see here? What does it remind you of? Does it bring any thoughts of days gone past to mind? Does it generate any thoughts about a possible short story?

MORE TOMORROW

Oh yes, you can bet on it.  I’m really enjoying this blog and I hope you are as well.  Again, if you have any suggestions feel free to include them in a comment, and as always, if there is anything I can help you with, get in touch with me at holland1145@yahoo.com.

Bill