Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Notes from November Meeting

There were many of you unable to attend due to other obligations, health issues, etc, but six of us met at Blue Umbrella. We were joined by Mike Veto who has been NaNo-writing on Friday nights at Blue Umbrella Books with Kelly, other area NaNoWriMo's, and me. I made Mike, who told his first real life ghost story this past October during Ghost Stories LIVE! Also joining us was Eileen Chapman, a librarian at the West Springfield Library who also writes. Both Mike and Eileen were made members of the WhipCity Wordsmiths during the meeting. Kelly, Lynnmarie, Lindsay, Geri, Joyce Collins and I were present with a call-in from Mike Walsh from VT.

Glen wanted me to pass the word that his Contemporary Women Mystery Writers program was rescheduled to Saturday, December 2nd at 1PM at Blue Umbrella Books. If you have a chance, attend! This will be the third of his author events that I will be attending. Glen also has 4 new books out. I've read three of them so far, The Accident, The Open Window, and The Eye of Mumbai. I have the fourth in my chair-side pile of to-reads- A Body in My Office, the first Charles Bentley Mystery. Glen's author events are always packed full of information and insight. Always an A-plus presentation!

Sandy Sessler's author event for The Legacy of Aidan McManus at the Agawam Public Library on the 20th at 7PM was also announced.

I'm using a book Kelly received as a gift from Bethany- 52 Pep Talks for Writer's by the Executive Director of National Novel Writing Month, Grant Faulkner. We touched on creativity, daily writing, where ideas come from, and making your writing the best it can be by using a variety of tools. I had with me my Oxford Dictionary/Thesaurus and my small, quick to grab Oxford Thesaurus that I use when writing. I also had my Character Naming Book that also is well-used. I got that from the Writer's Digest store years ago. Despite its bright pink and dark blue cover, it is the book that is most frequently lost in our house because both Kelly and I use it and never remember where we left it last! I also brought The Emotions Thesaurus which helps a writer find better ways of expressing a character's emotional state. I also had The Nightmare Dictionary, Self-Editing for Writer's, Grammar 101, and a few other writing resource books with me. Lindsay uses various internet sites to find names for her characters, and the right words to use in her work.

We talked about where story ideas come from. A lot of ideas come to Mike Veto in dreams. Geri draws on real life experiences and shared the story of an heirloom cooking spoon and how she and her mother and grandmother all have their own interpretations of kosher and religion. My head is always full of voices- characters wanting to tell their stories through me. I also mentioned how the clock tower at the end of the sister bridges inspired my current NaNo novel.

Ideas can come from hearing a snippet of conversation while waiting in line at the grocery store, or between people passing by on the street...how we interpret these things, how they spark ideas in our brains...these are the seeds that stories grow from.

The basic message was, be the best writer you can be. Utilize the tools available to writer's. Ask for a beta reader because every writer needs an unbiased pair of eyes to catch mistakes we are blind to in our own work. Find inspiration everywhere. Look. Listen. Feel. Taste. Touch. Write as often as you can to hone your skill. And always have a good support network you can share your highs and lows with!

I had a pile of my books with me as giveaways- these were proof copies, and original versions and some one of a kind cover versions. Christmases Past originally had a red cover with the tree, but the back cover text was too difficult to read, so I changed it to the current blue. Everyone took some books home to enjoy during the holidays and coming winter months. I may bring others to the January meeting. I have an accumulation since doing all the revisions earlier this year.

The meeting ended with an agreement that we would see one another again in January, weather and clear roads permitting! A January date has not been chosen yet- I have to look at the calendar and plan a date when those who work and have been unable to make a meeting are able to attend.

So, Happy Thanksgiving Wordsmiths- I'm thankful to have so many wonderful members in this group!

Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukah! And a Joyful, Healthy, and Productive New Year to you all!

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Hi guys hope you all have a great meeting. Im at home with some kind of bug! Feeling yucky and wanting to sleep. All is well wife my wife shes feeling better than me right now. Hope to make the next meeting. Scribner away today

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Lean in!

Lean in! Sheryl Sandberg popularized this expression as the title of her 2013 book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, encouraging women to embrace challenge and risk in the workplace. Lean into it, she advised. It has become a business buzz phrase, challenging the ever popular “thinking outside the box” mantra as the most quoted business motto. Who hasn’t been challenged to think outside the box?

What if you have never explored the inside of the box? Suppose leaning in meant leaning inward, exploring inner self and traveling avenues of self-care? These questions represent my version of leaning in … introspection, rumination and self –examination.

I have been missing in action from the WhipCity Wordsmiths for some time now because I have let life run me ragged. I have over extended myself to serve others, which I love to do, but I’ve forgotten to serve myself too! I have allowed my physical, emotional and psychological foundation to crumble at the edges, obscuring my outlook on the world. So, I’ve taken some time to lean in, to self-access and closely examine my priorities and goals in life, an immersion in self-care.

This immersion inside the box has yielded some remarkable insights and opportunities. I have decided to step away from my role as President and board member of the Friends of the Westfield Athenaeum. The Friends group is a great organization that supports a wonderful institution but took up an inordinate amount of my personal time.

I have decided to deepen my yoga practice, expand my immersion into the arts and culture in Westfield, express myself more freely and openly through writing and explore more engaging, inspiring and rewarding employment. I will seek ways to improve my health through more consistent exercise and life style changes in my relationship with food and nutrition. I will spend more time in nature and explore all she has to offer.
I will breathe. I will observe my thinking rather than react to it … thoughts are not facts after all! Thoughts are a river of emotions and feelings best observed rather than a source of inspiration for evocative reaction.

I will allow myself to be inspired. I will allow my inner child to express himself more often, to inspire a playfulness that is often lost in the hectic pace of a demanding, encroaching and suffocating digital world. I will explore self-confidence and self-awareness. I will consider what is most important to me. I will not be selfish, egocentric or self-obsessed but I will give my needs equal consideration.
I will lean in.   

Beta Reading

I have done some beta reading for Wordsmith Melissa Volker and Wordsmith Mike Walsh in the past few weeks. I enjoy reading what other authors and writers are working on. It entertains my always busy mind, opens windows in my own imagination, and allows me to see how I might be able to better my own writing. There is value in beta reading for other writers in that you are a sounding board for their work and can point out weak spots, brilliant places, where something is not working, continuity issues...things a writer might have developed a blind spot for in proofreading their own work. It saves a writer a lot of time and effort to clean it all up before submitting it rather than the bitter disappointment and discouragement of rejection for flaws. I know I am always missing obvious things in my own work that my live-in proofreader/editor is always catching- I swear gremlins live in my keyboard and tamper with Microsoft Word on a regular basis, or maybe they live in my own head? I don't know which, but it's frustrating and annoying to have someone point out obvious errors when you think the piece is perfect. Beta readers are honest, sometimes brutally so, but you need that as a writer, someone whom you trust to find the flaws, or just provided valuable feedback like, "Hey, this works! This is great stuff!"

So, if an author asks for a beta reader, do step up and offer to read their work and provide them feedback. You'll get an advance glimpse into their newest work and an opportunity to hone your own proofreading, editor, and reviewer skills. Don't be harsh, be helpful!

I sent a ghost story to Sandy and Melissa and both of them pointed out things I needed to fix- they both found different things. Many eyes see many things. I am appreciative of their very quick responses. I was actually remedying the issues as Sandy was listing them and Melissa was suggesting them. Within an hour I had a much better story with their invaluable assistance!

I know there are trust issues with letting your unpublished work pass into the hands of another person, but if that person is trusted and reliable, then you should seek their opinion, feedback and council. We all have those blind spots when it comes to reviewing our own writing. Don't be afraid or intimidated to ask for fresh eyes. They will make you look your best when you submit a story for publication!

November Meeting

Just a reminder that the November meeting of the WhipCity Wordsmiths will be held at 3PM on Saturday, November 18th, at Blue Umbrella Books. At the last meeting the Wordsmiths donated a brand new 6 foot table to Blue Umbrella, so combined with the table they have more of us should have seating around the tables. Bring a notepad and a pen for a writing prompt during the meeting.

October was a crazy busy month, and as some of you are aware, this is NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month- 50,000 words in 30 days. Kelly is the Western MA region Municipal Liaison this year after being leaderless last year, she stepped up to the plate and has been hosting a pre-NaNo informational meeting, a kickoff party in Hadley, and a number of local write-ins in Westfield. She and I have met some interesting writers and have gotten a lot of writing done, writing new novels, doing our part to push the region's word count bar graph higher each day, as well as our own personal word count graphs. She's on par to finish. I write like a madwoman when I get going so let's just say I'm writing my A game as usual and leave it at that.

Looking forward to seeing as many of you as can make it to this meeting on the 18th.

There is no December meeting- we'll be taking a holiday break and resuming in January with a schedule I hope will accommodate members who have been unable to attend due to their work schedules. Watch you email or the blog for the January meeting date!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

NaNo Day 1

November 1st has certainly arrived quickly! Today is the first day of NaNoWriMo- so I just wanted to say to everyone who is participating this year- you've started your creative engine, the green flag was waved at 12:00:01 AM this morning. You're on the track with tens of thousands of other writers around the globe. Start laying down the words, authors! Good Luck! Let's get some novels written this month!

My NaNo novel will be The Clockmaker's Son. He just happens to be a lycanthrope due to an unfortunate and terrifying camping incident during the summer between the end of middle school and the beginning of high school. The novel was inspired, earlier this year, when I had my first sight of the mechanical clock tower open at the end of the twin bridges in Westfield at high noon. The intricate mechanical clocks Julian Rand (J. Rand) Beresford builds are far more detailed and the figures move. I don't usually write dark novels- even if bad stuff is going on in them, there's always humor and romance to play against the darkness; but taking a shot at something darker this time...working outside my comfort zone.

So, NaNo authors! Write on! (And if in Westfield, stop by a write-in. Again, there will be write-ins at Blue Umbrella on Friday nights 6-8PM, and one at the Dunkin Donuts at the four way intersection at the end of East Mountain Road and North Road (Route 202) and County Road in the northeast corner of Westfield near Hampton Ponds on Sunday, November 5th from 9AM-11AM.

Ready! Set! Write!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

NaNoWriMo Time!

National Novel Writing Month begins November 1st! This year Wordsmith Kelly Buffum is the Municipal Liaison for Western MA which includes Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin counties. This is a large territory to be responsible for, but she's held an informational meeting at Blue Umbrella Books on Friday, October 20th, and is posting regularly on the Nano website in the western MA regional posts and on facebook page Western MA NaNo- look for the teal background with crossed pens.

The Nano kickoff party is October 29th from 4PM-6PM at Panera Bread in Hadley MA on route 9 in the WalMart, Barnes & Noble plaza.

This is Kelly's 7th NaNoWriMo and Susan's 6th.

Kelly will be holding write-ins on Friday evenings from 6-8 through the month of November at Blue Umbrella Books. There is a write in scheduled at Dunkin Donuts on the corner of Rte. 202 (North Road) and Country Road in Westfield (at the Ponds) November 5th from 9AM-11AM. Check the calendar on the NaNo website for additional write in dates and times.

If you're writing a novel this November- good luck!