Aug 23, 2010

The Writer's Life by Dr. Harry J. Saranchak

I do not have a picture of my space because napkins, pieces of paper, or a notebook anywhere or at any time is my office.

When I get back to the home office, I use the “jottings” as a place to start.

If I don’t want to write, I don’t, but then nothing gets done, so I wait until I feel guilty.

When the writing is done, it is done for the day or for the moment. I can always boot up the computer and write down what I need to. The best advice I ever got was to just write. Never worry about grammar, spelling or punctuation*

I balance my regular life (I love to play golf) with writing by using a notepad that I keep in the car. In this way I am always doing what I love to do.

Finding inspiration is easy. If one looks at the world, the events, and the people, one does need to go far for a theme.

Struggle is everywhere.

The character needs to be a real character, pardon the pun.

This personality study needs to posses what we do not want to look at in others, or can’t see. The dark side. The plot contains the juice. How does this main character behave within the space, and how do events and other personalities bring the issues to light.

I try to plan, but then something usually gets in the way.

The END is great to type, but then I go back, so the END is just another beginning. I type DONE.

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Dr. Harry J. Saranchak earned a B.A. degree cum laude from Georgetown and followed it with an M.D. from University of Connecticut School of Medicine.

For 30 years he was a vascular and general surgeon in three Connecticut hospitals, and for 25 of those he was also educator and mentor to medical students, residents and colleagues—while receiving eight Golden Scalpel awards for teaching excellence. A Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, Dr. Saranchak co-authored seven medical journal articles from 1974 to 1984.

After retiring from his private practice at Grove Hill Medical Center in New Britain, CT, he wrote Betrayals of Hippocrates: Crimes Against Innocence.

You can visit his website at http://www.harryjsaranchak.com.

Aug 18, 2010

Author Kim Baccellia on Life in the First Draft

Life In the First Draft


I have to admit, my writing loft is pretty cool. You go up a spiral staircase and it’s tucked away from everywhere. I have a nice view outside too.



My writing room has a desk we purchased at Ikea and was a pain to get up the stairs. On my desk are a collection of writing books, paper, an egg timer(which I use to time myself), iPod(filled with music that goes with my novels), pens, critique papers, and some items that go with my books too. I have some Egyptian incense, some Muslim prayer beads, copies of my own books, and my own rescuer doll complete with her cross necklace.

Of course my laptop is there too. I named her Angelina because she’s red which signifies passion and imagination. So far Angelina has been good to me.



To the far right I have a huge whiteboard that I swear by. I outline my stories on this. This outline is for Cross the Line, the tentative title to the sequel to Crossed Out.



Some other things in my room include photos of my covers. The sketch is from the fab author Jackie Dolamore who drew a picture of my character Jordan from No Goddesses Allowed.

And to the other side are photos of characters that inspire me. Buffy of course! And Holly Golightly!

I used to keep copies of all my rejections. **If you look closely at my whiteboard you’ll see a running tally of the rejections to No Goddesses Allowed. I found though that having all the rejections covering my writing room only made me feel depressed. So I ended up filing them away.



And I have a nice view. Yes, hanging by the window are some query letters plus a letter from my writing mentor Joyce Sweeney regarding the opening to No Goddesses Allowed.

Every morning I’m in my writing room for at least a couple hours. During this time I try to get some writing in. I admit I also go on Twitter, which is a great social networking tool but can take away from my writing.

I love my writing loft. It’s nice to be able to get away and just be able to write.

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Kim Baccellia has always been a sucker for the paranormal. She blames it on her families’ love for such things such as having picnics at cemeteries, visiting psychics, and reading her mother’s copies of the daily horoscope. She even had her own horoscope column in middle school, which was a big hit! Kim’s other works include the poem, “My Father”, which appears in the anthology Mind Mutations, published by The Sun Rising Press.

Her essay about the adoption of her son, Finally, Our Turn, appeared in Adoptive Families magazine. Her YA multicultural fantasy, Earrings of Ixtumea, is published by Virtual Tales and available now at Amazon. A member of SCBWI, Kim is currently writing the sequel to Crossed Out, her latest paranormal young adult fiction novel. She’s also putting the finishing touches on an upper MG fantasy No Goddesses Allowed. She lives in Southern California with her husband and son.

You can visit her website at www.kim-baccellia.com.

Aug 10, 2010

Cross the First Hurdle by Leonora Pruner

Writing is very personal, both in the way it is done and the choice of words. Of course, the first hurdle to be crossed is the initial draft. This is the beginning of the physical form of what has been brewing and stewing inside one’s head. At this time what was imagined becomes concrete. But, how to go about doing this? The answer varies from writer to writer and whether this is non-fiction, fiction, a poem, an essay, an article, or something else.

In simple terms, one must take paper and pen or pencil or sit in front of a useable computer and start. At this point, form is not important – emphasize the word “DRAFT”. It is going to be changed into something fine and beautiful—later. It may be rather like a volcanic eruption, spewed out with disorganized, creative force in random bits and pieces. The key thing at this point is to make the thoughts and ideas visible either on paper or a computer screen so they can be seen and refined. It is a very rare phenomenon for words to appear in a perfect, publishable form.

At this point, spelling doesn’t matter. Skip what is not known. When I come to a place requiring a description that doesn’t immediately come to mind, or needing research, or I am doubtful, I write the missing element in capitals surrounded by parentheses. Or leave an underlined space to call attention to the fact that something must be added. It is critical to get it down so the material can be work on and shaped and refined. Refuse to allow anything to deter this writing.

Until it is in a physical form, making the words tangible, it is an ephemeral idea which may well dissipate in the blink of an eye. Or, it may hover around like an invisible, irritating, buzzing fly, then suddenly vanish. Once gone, it is very difficult to retrieve it.

When it becomes a concrete, first draft, it can be shaped, cut, added to, or modified in countless ways. Then comes the task of transforming this jumble into something beautiful, readable, and understandable, bringing joy and information to future readers. Robert Frost once commented that after a poem was written down, then the real work began.


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Leonora Pruner was born in Dubuque, Iowa, but has lived most of her life in California. Writing has been an important activity since junior high. She graduated from Westmont College in 1953 and earned an MBA from Pepperdine University in 1981.

Fascination with a possible eighteenth-century English character led to five years of extensive research, which resulted in the 1981 and 1987 publication of two period novels. That time remains of great interest to the author, and she continues to use eighteenth-century England as a setting for her work.

Leonora married in 1953, and her family has expanded from two children to thirteen grandchildren and five great-grand-children.

She lived in the Republic of Maldives from 1987 to 1997, where she collected folklore and taught economics and computer science. While there she wrote the first drafts of this book.

Books by Leonora Pruner include Close to His Heart, Love’s Secret Storm and Love’s Silent Gift. The title of her next novel is The Aerie of the Wolf.

For more information please visit
http://nordskogpublishing.com/book-close-to-his-heart.shtml

Aug 9, 2010

Getting Started by Leonora Pruner

Writing a first draft can be a bit scary, a relief, or a grueling task needing to be done. Sometimes the hardest part is simply getting started, in doing it. Once the actual writing starts whether it’s on paper or a computer screen, it can be like breaking a log-jam releasing a flood of words. It’s one thing if there is an idea welling up inside that must get out, and quite another if you have been asked (or required) to write something without that wonderful inspiration driving you to start. What to do lacking that compulsion or to get past that intimidating unmarked page?

There are probably as many ways to get over that “blank page/screen” syndrome as there are writers. Basically it is just to write something – anything will do. The process of writing seems to unlock more words. Describe the room you are in, the view from a window or the wall in front of you, some person you know, what you think about this assignment, or what you know about the subject. As the words come easier and your ideas begin to take shape, you will find you can cross out or delete large amounts that you have written as non-essentials. Ideas will take on a meaningful form and you will be getting into what you want to write or must write.

Once your mind latches onto the subject(s) at hand, just let the words come as they will, writing as quickly as possible. Leave underlined spaces for gaps you may need to fill in later. At this point it isn’t important to finish a paragraph or have all the details. This is only a draft. Get as many of your ideas as possible on paper or on the screen (be sure to save your work every little while so you don’t loose it accidentally).

When the “creative heat” dissipates, go back and improve what you have written, changing words, making one word do the work of a phrase, cutting out what does not contribute to what you want to say. Generally, if I am writing an article or short story with a given wordage and I must cut a third, I am in good shape. The process of cutting out excess verbiage, using more descriptive words that reduce the need for several others all sharpens and improves the end result.

Then let it rest at least a day, if possible, and work on something else. Go back to your first draft later and begin the real work developing it into the best you can make it. This is where all the skills you have learned about your craft come into play about shaping and pacing, avoiding redundancy (unless it is to make a point), adding more ideas to your original draft, perhaps cutting some old ones, and so forth.

Truly, good writing is a learned skill, a craft which can always be improved and expanded.


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Leonora Pruner was born in Dubuque, Iowa, but has lived most of her life in California. Writing has been an important activity since junior high. She graduated from Westmont College in 1953 and earned an MBA from Pepperdine University in 1981.

Fascination with a possible eighteenth-century English character led to five years of extensive research, which resulted in the 1981 and 1987 publication of two period novels. That time remains of great interest to the author, and she continues to use eighteenth-century England as a setting for her work.

Leonora married in 1953, and her family has expanded from two children to thirteen grandchildren and five great-grand-children.

She lived in the Republic of Maldives from 1987 to 1997, where she collected folklore and taught economics and computer science. While there she wrote the first drafts of this book.

Books by Leonora Pruner include Close to His Heart, Love’s Secret Storm and Love’s Silent Gift. The title of her next novel is The Aerie of the Wolf.

For more information please visit
http://nordskogpublishing.com/book-close-to-his-heart.shtml

Aug 6, 2010

The Red Pen and Purposeful Writing by Johnathan Williams

I remember the first round of edits of my first novel. Painful.

I had finished the first draft just months before, entrusting the initial edits to my dad, a brilliant and unremitting editor. Many more edits would follow once my publisher and his team had their hands on the book, but I remember that first round most vividly. I sat across the table from my dad as he slid the rough manuscript of Jungle Sunrise back to the author.

It looked like a 2-year-old’s coloring book; the pages violently besieged by the ever-obtrusive red pen. Oh, the red pen. Some authors hate it. Some love it. Others fear it. As for me, well, I guess I was just surprised by it. I was surprised by the amount of changes that I agreed needed to be made to my book.

By the time we were finished, Jungle Sunrise had been rearranged, transformed, improved, and molded into the story it was originally meant to be. It was like driving an old truck through the car wash and flying a jet out the other end.

Most people, when they think of the dreaded red pen and editing, imagine a tedious task of correcting misspelled words and coma splices. This is not the case. The red pen allows the author to reexamine the drive of the characters, the believability of the dialogue, and even the purpose of the story. These big picture aspects of writing are what make editing such an invaluable part of the process.

Too often, books are written and even published with but a thin trace of purpose. With more than 100,000 books published each year and the average reader making it through only 8 books a year, an author must use the red pen time and time again to make sure that they communicate the purpose of the book in the most inspiring, intriguing, and creative way possible.

You only get one chance to capture the heart of a reader.

Whether the aim is to make someone laugh, teach a set of truths, enthrall with adventure, or move with emotion, writers must invest the time in writing, editing, rewriting, editing again, and going through more than a few red pens so that the book set on the shelves is, not perfect, but, ready. It is ready to engage new readers, ready to paint the right picture, and stir imaginations without the hiccups that didn’t survive the initial edits.

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Jonathan Williams served as a missionary with the International Mission Board’s Xtreme Team in the jungles of Peru for two years. It was there, lying under a mosquito net in a hut in the middle of the Amazon Jungle, that Williams began to write his first novel, Jungle Sunrise.

Williams, 30, writes and lives in North Texas with his beautiful wife, Jessica, where he pastors Body Life church and serves as the Campus Pastor for Trinity Christian Academy as he pursues a Master of Divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. His passion and desire is to inspire readers with creativity and truth.

Find out more by visiting www.JungleSunrise.com.

Aug 5, 2010

Just Build the House Already! by Jonathan Williams

You have to build your own house in the Amazon Jungle. There are no contractors, building companies, or realtors. If you want a place to live, a leaf roof to protect you from the persistent rainfall or a hut floor to keep your sleeping mat out of the soggy mud, then your only option is to trek through the humid, thorny, rainforest, cut down a tree, secure some leaves, and then build a hut somewhere in the village.

Until you build the hut, you sleep on the ground.

For a writer, the first draft is like building a hut.

It is tempting, when writing, to edit along the way. It’s easy to methodically scrutinize every paragraph, dissecting the dialogue of each chapter. If you give into these temptations, however, you’ll never get the house built and you’ll end up sleeping with your face in the mud and your multiple unfinished manuscripts by your side. Too many writers begin projects they never finish, quite simply because they refuse to write until all of the wrinkles are ironed out and all of the questions are answered.

Imagine applying this approach to the task of building a house.

You don’t wait until you know how you’re going to decorate before building a house. It would be imprudent to put a groundbreaking on hold until the perfect couch for the living room could be selected or until you were able to beautifully coordinate the drapes with the rug. The decorations come later. That’s the purpose of subsequent drafts.

The second draft may finally solidify the conflict that pushes the protagonist into motion, while the third draft allows the author to polish the main character’s triumphal moment. These are merely decorations in the guest room, fine trimming around the crown molding.

When writing my first novel, Jungle Sunrise, I knew the destination, but the route was up for grabs. I knew the characters, but their development remained somewhat hidden. Would Jonah Frost discover faith or just hope? Would his love interest pan out or fizzle out? Should Jonah’s brother play a more vial role in Jonah’s self-discovery, or should Jonah tackle this journey as a loner? Rather than try to figure all of this out before typing, I disciplined myself to press forward and finish the story. I had to get the whole thing on paper, and then, once the house was built, my hut standing strong by the village river, I was able to walk from room to room, chapter to chapter, rearranging, organizing, decorating, and editing.

The first draft should be a freeing exercise in writing. There are no mistakes yet, because not everything is decided. Just get the posts in the ground, put up some walls, lay the floor, and erect the roof. Don’t fill street after street with unfinished homes as you sit and stare at the computer screen pondering which surround sound to install downstairs. Write the book. Finish the first draft. Just build the house already.



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Jonathan Williams served as a missionary with the International Mission Board’s Xtreme Team in the jungles of Peru for two years. It was there, lying under a mosquito net in a hut in the middle of the Amazon Jungle, that Williams began to write his first novel, Jungle Sunrise.

Williams, 30, writes and lives in North Texas with his beautiful wife, Jessica, where he pastors Body Life church and serves as the Campus Pastor for Trinity Christian Academy as he pursues a Master of Divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. His passion and desire is to inspire readers with creativity and truth.

Find out more by visiting www.JungleSunrise.com.