Archive for March, 2013


March 29, 2013

WHAT?  I’m not a loner?   But . . . .

Many here know the story of a grade school Radine who hid in her closet to read while her mother entertained friends at her 8th Birthday party.  (Mom, when she found me,  insisted I join the party.)

My disinclination to enjoy large group events has persisted through the years–even in high sch0ol and college where a date to a party or dance with one nifty guy (and of course there were several of those over a number of years) did not constitute interacting on a loud level with a raucous group outside my personal sphere.

It isn’t that I don’t like people.  I am just content, most of the time, to enjoy very small groups, the companionship of my husband, or my own company.  Anti-social?  I don’t know, it’s okay if you call it that.

However, I do know this, that the Internet has changed interpersonal connections just as it has changed so much else in the writing world.

I wrote for magazines and the news for a number of years before I settled down to write and sell my first book.  After that, even before the Internet, publicity needs did dictate I do public signings and programs.  Okay, I was focused on my special interest, talking about that, and relatively comfortable in my slot.

By the time my mystery series featuring amateur detectives Carrie McCrite and Henry King was making its way, one book at a time, into the public, the Internet was beginning to be a factor in publicity.  But, still interested mostly in personal appearances and hampered by slow rural Internet connection, I was similarly  slow to adopt extensive Internet publicity.  For an additional time I remained largely safe in my private world.

And now?  As much as anyone, I depend on Internet connection to the “outside” world of writers and readers. This is only partly for publicity purposes.

There are a number of lists and groups connecting mystery fans on the Internet, plus many other groups with members involved in writing everything from enlightened poetry to–porn.  We are a truly varied profession.  Along the way I have discovered it is very difficult to even think of pursuing my career without these multiple connections to people I will probably never meet face-to-face.  (Hm, maybe this is rather like hiding in my closet?)

Via these connections and through reading online lists of comments, I learn what is going on in the writing profession:  Who read and commented on this book or the other; what list or group or firm made decisions possibly detrimental or beneficial to publishers, bookstores, writers and/or readers; how other authors are promoting; what conventions and conferences are coming up–and on and on.  All the information I read keeps me connected to my profession and its news.

We need the information pouring into our computers to help us make informed decisions about our work as authors and the next steps in our careers.  Therefore, like it or not, we must pay attention to our larger group and our world.  We are, and must be, joiners and participants and learners. We need connections.

Are you a loner?  What do you think?

Writing Haiku — a good idea for more than one reason?

March 15, 2013

Responses to my ongoing series about what I see as benefits for the fiction author from writing poetry have taught me a surprising thing.  In comments and responses scattered over the Internet and sent to me personally, all but one who responded said they had or were writing poetry.  Kaye George’s response about continuing to write haiku intrigued me, though she said she thinks her role as a musician is more relevant to her prose than the poetry.

Haiku was not a type of poetry discussed when I was in school, and, in fact, I didn’t know much about it until a nephew by marriage gifted me with a couple of his framed haiku poems written in honor of Spring Hollow after a family visit here.

Haiku is a Japanese poetry form–and you sure might call it minimalist!  Writing this way takes a degree of quiet concentration for most of us, not to mention an urge to complete something beautiful in our few words.

The form traditionally is only three lines long, the first and last lines have five syllables, the middle one seven.  That’s it.  The haiku most frequently says something about the natural world . . . like this:

Satin glass snake twists/ringing the branch in green art/beauty cancels fear.

(I guess your reaction to this depends on how you feel about snakes?)

Okay, that’s my first ever haiku so don’t judge too harshly.   Would you like to try one?  I am now eager do go further in this intense and stunning art form.

By the way — do you think stopping to concentrate on writing a haiku could help those stuck in writers’ block?




A writing lesson — from creating poetry

March 8, 2013

Just wondering today, how many writers reading this consider the value of writing poetry as a move forward in their writing career?  Oh–I don’t mean poetry to publish, necessarily, but poetry as practice for word control (see last week’s blog) for learning rhythm, and so much more.

Any thoughts?

What do YOU consider the most helpful idea you’ve received to forward your own writing career?  Maybe we should have a round robin of ideas?




March 1, 2013

Those of us who consider ourselves to be creative writers want, most of all, to be able to control words. Though we may not think of it as control, I suggest the word fits.  Careful word control can make ideas clear to others.  Control exposes emotions felt by our characters  and creates emotion in readers.  Control builds suspense, paints word pictures, sets a stage, explains an event.  (This could be a long list, couldn’t it?)  Control makes words do what we want them to.

I am not talking about self-control, about keeping our cool, about stopping the angry shout before it happens. That’s not the kind of control I mean, though the two are related. This is about making words do nifty things because we want them to.

If, as writers, we need to practice word control–how do we learn this control, practice it, show it off?

I suggest we can learn, practice, and show it  by writing poetry. Yes, that’s what I said, write poetry.

YES, you can!

Poetry has been a means of self-expression, born from word control,  for centuries.

“Full fathoms five thy father lies;/ Of his bones are coral made;//Those are pearls that were his eyes:/Nothing of him that doth fade,/ But doth suffer a sea-change/Into something rich and strange./ Sea -nymphs hourly ring his knell: Ding-dong./Hark! now I hear them–ding-dong bell.”    (“Full Fathoms Five” by William Shakespeare)

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–/I took the one less traveled by,/And that has made all the difference.” ( From “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost)

“I never spoke with God,/ Nor visited in heaven;/Yet certain am I of the spot/As if a chart were given.” ( From “I Never Saw a Moor” by Emily Dickinson)

“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways./I love thee to the depth and breadth and height/My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight/For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.”  (From “How Do I Love Thee” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning)

“Hark to the whimper of the sea-gull;/He weeps because he’s not an ea-gull/Suppose you were, you silly sea-gull,/Could you explain it to your she-gull?”  ( “The Sea-Gull” by Ogden Nash)

“I stood at 6:00 a.m. on the wharf,/thinking: This is Independence, Missouri./I am to stay here. The boat goes on to New Orleans./My life seemed minutes old, and here it was ending.”  (From” Someone’s Blood” by Rita Dove.)

“I wish the fall would not arrive/just yet – /I need a bit more time to pay/my debt./I wish the meadows would not turn/to flame -/I wish encroaching snowfalls would not come – /Nor birds forsake the glen/Nor icy winds begin/For I am without a scarf to wrap my heart. (“A Wish” by Charles Doss–written from his prison cell in Arizona.)

“But these are famous poets,” you may say.  Um, maybe.  But you are as able to control words as they. Just get quiet–and think your words out. “No one is going to hear but you/ unless you want them to.”  (Ohmygosh–I rhymed.)

There’s this:  “Mary had a little lamb,/Its fleece was white as snow,/And everywhere that Mary went,/The lamb was sure to go.”

Or this:  “Oklahoma morning, Oklahoma night, We’re on your side, Fight team, fight.”

See what I mean?

Try it now.  Swing the words out, and remember, they do not have to rhyme. Rhythm is good. Rhyme is your choice.

Have fun.