Thursday, July 29, 2010

Summer Writing, Prompts, & a Contest

Summer Writing

My tutoring schedule is lighter in the summer, so I like to work on additional writing projects. In theory anyway. So far I've done little more than keep my head above water trying to catch up on things postponed through the spring. I'm encouraged, though, by the fact that time still remains to get some extra projects done. Many writing days are waiting in August...:)

What kind of writing are you doing this summer? Does your writing change with the seasons? Does a change of weather inspire you?

Writer's Digest Contest

It's time for the annual Writer's Digest Short Story Competition! They're looking for fiction that's 'bold, brilliant...but brief" with a word count of 1500 or less. First place prize is $3000, second place is $1500, and third place is $500. There are even prizes for fourth through twenty-fifth place. Deadline is December 1, 2010. To enter, click here. Don't forget to let us know if you win!


Several of you have blessed me with awards in the past few months. Forgive me for not posting about them sooner, it is not that I am not grateful, just really busy! I hope to post them soon. Thanks for your kindness and patience.

Writing Prompts

If you need a bit of inspiration, The Journal has interesting writing prompts to suit most any taste. Exercises include journaling, free writing, prose, poetry, memoir, and opinion prompts. If you're feeling brave, share one with us!

Don't forget to share about your summer or other writing projects. We're all ears. :)

Blessings for your weekend,

Monday, July 26, 2010

Let's Have Dialogue

Shall We Chat?

Have you ever gotten a story or article idea from a conversation you've had? Or from an exchange that you overheard? Real life chatter offers oodles of creative potential for our writing. When you are running dry on ideas, this might be the place to look, with a healthy dose of kindness and discretion, of course.

Not only do I keep my imagination on high alert when conversing, I listen to accents. Born in Lancaster, PA, I am familiar with the dialect and sound of that area, which reflects a Pennsylvania Dutch flavor. Raised in southern New Jersey, my ears are used to the Philadelphia/New York City combo that influences many South Jersey residents' speech. I can often pinpoint a Delaware and Baltimore area resident, and of course, those from the southern regions of the U.S. Sprinkle in my husband's background - from the Chicago area, and friends from Wisconsin, Minnesota, Boston, and Ohio, to name a few, and there's a pretty good sampling of accents that I hear regularly.

I think my sensitivity to this was heightened when we moved from New Jersey to Kentucky. There's a mix of accents here, and I listen to try and determine if people are native to the area. Accent detective? Maybe. Or maybe it's just that I like considering where people come from and what shaped their patterns of speech. This dovetails with my curiosity about what their lives and past are like and what kinds of stories they have to tell.

What can this do for my writing? The results are not all in. :) But I do know that it helps shape characters, story lines, and deepen creativity. It provides book, article, and blog post ideas. It is an endless treasure chest of potential.

What about you? Do interesting conversations give you writing ideas? Have you ever considered what an accent can tell you about a person? Please share!

Happy writing!


Monday, July 19, 2010

Dialogue Webinar

How are you at writing snappy, engaging dialogue? Need a little help? Writer's Digest is offering a webinar with James Scott Bell on crafting sizzling dialogue. Hurry, though, webinar is scheduled for this Thursday, July 22, 2010. Click here for details.


I'm unplugging for the balance of the week. Will be heading to Michigan with my daughter in law and grandson to see my newborn niece. We will also get to see my daughter, who is already there helping out, so we're excited!

See you next week. Blessings to you all:)

Happy writing,

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Analyzing the Pieces

Diagramming Sentences

I am tutoring a 7th grader in English, and one of the things we are covering is sentence diagramming. I wouldn't have chosen this topic on purpose, but this student has had little experience with it and the new school she's attending in the fall will cover it in depth. 

What's your take on diagramming sentences? Love it? Hate it? As a child, I didn't see the point, nor remember my teachers telling me why we had to do it. Researching for these lessons, however, has unearthed a bit of background info on why it is a good tool to help students learn. Not only does it help develop thinking skills, dissecting a sentence helps understand its structure, causing one to think analytically. The author of one grammar lesson I came across said that the exercise helped develop his critical thinking skills and caused him to analyze literature more thoroughly.

My thoughts? Well, I still don't do cartwheels over it, but I can see where it can be useful in the big educational picture. The grammar book we are using teaches that isolating the prepositional phrase first is a key step to breaking the sentence down into manageable pieces. This has taught my student to think before she attacks the sentence, so this is a good thing. I realized, too, that it's caused me to look more closely at what I read and write - at structure and how sentences work together.

What, if any, grammar exercises have you found helpful in your writing? When you read, do you mentally take things apart and analyze the writing? Do I have any volunteers for teaching sentence diagramming if I am unable to make a tutoring session? 

Share your thoughts please; I have my pen and tablet ready to make a back up tutor instructor list...

Happy writing, and a happy weekend to all!



Monday, July 12, 2010

Can You Handle It?

How do you handle feedback?

If it is good, do you celebrate with the dance of joy and chocolate?

If it is negative, do you cry, pout, and stomp your feet?

Jennifer Brown Banks outlines ways to lessen the sting of constructive feedback.

Her post, How to Handle Constructive Criticism helps us keep a good focus and move our writing forward. Good stuff! I was encouraged by her insight.

What about you? Do your goals and calling help you press through and move ahead?

Happy Writing!


Friday, July 9, 2010

Winner of A Distant Melody

Congratulations to Kenda, the winner of A Distant Melody by Sarah Sundin!

If you happened to miss the interview with Sarah, click here for Part One, and here for Part Two.

Thanks to everyone who commented and participated. It was great fun and I appreciate your input.

Have a great weekend!


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Interview with Sarah Sundin, Part Two

Part Two   

Thank you for joining us for Part Two of Sarah Sundin's interview! If you missed Part One, click here to read it. Don't forget, Sarah has agreed to provide a copy of A Distant Melody for a giveaway.  Details follow the interview.  

Karen: Can you give us a sneak peek at A Memory Between Us, which is due out in September 2010?
Sarah: A Memory Between Us is the second book in the Wings of Glory series, which follows the three Novak brothers, B-17 bomber pilots with the US Eighth Air Force stationed in England during World War II. Major Jack Novak has never failed to meet a challenge--until he meets army nurse Lieutenant Ruth Doherty. When Jack lands in the army hospital after a plane crash, he makes winning Ruth's heart a top priority mission. But he has his work cut out for him. Not only is Ruth focused on her work in order to support her orphaned siblings back home, she carries a shameful secret that keeps her from giving her heart to any man. Can Jack break down her defenses? Or are they destined to go their separate ways?

Karen: What writing advice have you found most helpful in recent years?
1)  Join ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers)! Their e-zine, e-mail loop, and monthly courses are outstanding—like a mini-writers’ conference in your inbox every day.
2)  Join a local writers’ group if available or an on-line critique group. Not only will your writing improve, but you’ll meet other writers. We’re an odd lot really. We work in solitude. We talk to our characters. We have strange interests (how many women do you know who get excited about B-17 manuals?). We need each other.
3)  Don’t submit to agents and editors until you’re ready. That means a complete manuscript, positive feedback from experienced writers, and enough knowledge of the publishing industry to know how to submit properly. You want your first impression to be stellar.

Karen: Thank you, Sarah, for sharing this great info and your thoughts with us. I can't wait to read A Memory Between Us.  

To Contact Sarah

Sarah's website offers facts, links, and great information for readers and writers. Her blog posts include interesting facts about World War Two history and Sarah's insightful musings and wisdom.  Stop by and say hello; she'll be happy to see you!

Here are the Giveaway Details:) Deadline is Friday, July 9, 2010 at noon.

To Enter:
  • Leave a comment to this post, include your email address like so: karenelange(at)gmail(dot)com. Entries without email address in comment box are not eligible.
  • Receive an extra entry by becoming a follower, or by reminding me that you already follow.
  • Receive a bonus entry by posting about this giveaway on your Facebook page. Please leave a comment telling me so.
  • Receive a bonus entry by posting about this giveaway on your blog. Please leave a comment with the link.
  • This is only open to US residents. For those of you who follow outside the US, I apologize:(
  • Deadline to enter is noon eastern standard time, Friday July 9, 2010. Winner will be announced here, and notified via email, and have 24 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen.

Happy reading and writing!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Interview with Sarah Sundin

Sarah Sundin is the author of A Distant Melody, an exciting and heartwarming tale set during World War Two. This wonderful historical romance introduces us to Allie Miller and Lt. Walter Novak, two very different people whose paths happen to cross at a wedding. I won't give any more away other than to say that Sarah is a gifted writer who has a knack for bringing characters to life. I highly recommend her book! 

A Giveaway Too :)

Sarah has graciously offered a copy of A Distant Melody for a giveaway.  Check out the details at the end of the post.

The Interview: Part One 
Karen: Thank you for joining us here at Write NowWhen did you know that you wanted to be a writer?
Sarah: January 6, 2000. How’s that for exact? Although I always read voraciously, I didn’t consider a writing career. Instead I chose a practical career in pharmacy which allowed me to work on-call and stay home with our three children. Then in 2000, I had a dream with such intriguing characters that I felt compelled to write their story. That first novel will never be published, nor should it, but it got me started.
Karen: Did you do anything in particular before or as you began writing for publication (like take writing classes)?
Sarah: I wrote that first novel without any training whatsoever. It showed. After I finished my 750-page simple contemporary romance (no kidding), I went to my first writers’ conference and learned I’d done almost everything wrong. So I decided to learn. I read books on writing craft, joined a critique group, attended more writers’ conferences, and joined ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers). I kept writing and kept learning. I’m still learning.

Karen: Congratulations on A Distant Melody, and your upcoming book, A Memory Between Us. What inspired you to write this series?
Sarah: The idea for A Distant Melody came out of a “what if” question—what if a man and woman met at an event, truly clicked, and parted before exchanging contact info? Wouldn’t it be romantic if he went through great effort to track her down? It wouldn’t work in a contemporary setting—he’d “Google” her—but it made a sweet premise for a historical. My husband and I watched a History Channel special on the US Eighth Air Force based in England which flew over Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II, and I was hooked. My great-uncle was a B-17 pilot with the Eighth, so I had access to his stories and letters. A Distant Melody was meant to be a standalone, but while doing research, I became enamored with the Eighth Air Force and wanted to tell the full story to V-E Day. Since my hero had two pilot brothers, I decided to write a series, with each book focusing on one brother.

Karen: How long did it take from the time you began A Distant Melody to when it was published?
Sarah: Almost nine years. I had the idea late in 2001 and began the research. I started the manuscript in 2002 and finished it in 2004. I first submitted it to editors and agents in 2003, and began receiving a stack of “good” rejection letters. I continued writing the series. In 2008, Revell offered me a three-book contract, and A Distant Melody came out in March 2010.
Karen: What are your writing habits like? Are you a plotter or a SOTP writer?
Sarah: I’m definitely a plotter. That’s the science nerd in me. First of all, I do lots of research beforehand—not only does this let me know if my story idea will even work historically, but it gives me ideas for scenes, problems, and characters. Then I fill out character charts (I love character charts!) and a plot chart which helps me track subplots and story arcs. Then come scene lists with everything from the date, the weather, what characters are wearing, goals and conflict, what’s happening historically, and an outline of the scene. Finally I get to my rough draft.

Karen: How did you go about developing your characters for these books? Were any inspired by people you know?
Sarah: I got the idea for Allie Miller, the heroine of A Distant Melody, when I visited a particularly gorgeous friend after her daughter was born. The first words I heard the mom say were, “Thank goodness she’s pretty.” My thought? What if she wasn’t pretty? That thought expanded—what would happen to a plain-looking daughter of a woman who thought beauty was a virtue? Would she think she could never find true love? So, Walt came about primarily as Allie’s counterpart. I gave him two brothers and no sisters so he’d be clueless about women.

Don't forget to come back for Part Two of Sarah's interview on Thursday, July 8. Sarah gives us a sneak peek at Book Two in The Wings of Glory series. 

For more info about Sarah, stop by her website or blog.  She has lots of goodies to share!

Giveaway Details

To Enter:
  • Leave a comment to this post, include your email address like so: karenelange(at)gmail(dot)com. Entries without email address in comment box are not eligible.
  • Receive an extra entry by becoming a follower, or by reminding me that you already follow.
  • Receive a bonus entry by posting about this giveaway on your Facebook page. Please leave a comment telling me so.
  • Receive a bonus entry by posting about this giveaway on your blog. Please leave a comment with the link.
  • This is only open to US residents. For those of you who follow outside the US, I apologize!
  • Deadline to enter is noon eastern standard time, Friday July 9, 2010. Winner will be announced here, and notified via email, and have 24 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen.

Happy reading and writing!


Thursday, July 1, 2010

Links, a Contest, and Happy 4th!

Happy Fourth of July! 

What will you be doing this weekend? 

Will you be exhibiting any of the Happiness/Joy emotions as outlined at The Bookshelf Muse

Perhaps you will be gathering story or article ideas close to home, as suggested in this Funds For Writers article by Beth Bartlett.

Or maybe you'd like to enter the Glimmer Train Very Short Fiction Contest. Hurry, though, the deadline to enter is July 31, 2010. Entry fee is $15 and First Prize is $1200.

BTW, if you haven't seen Monday's post, When Did You Know?, you might want to join in the fun. There's a fabulous discussion going about how, when, and why the need to write came about for each of us.

Whatever your plans, have a safe and happy weekend!