Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Happy Holidays Dear Writers

Wow!  Time flies when you're creating and editing an anthology; good news is the book is just about ready to find its place at Amazon and B&N.  PHSN decided to publish electronically this year; soon you'll be able to purchase The Harbor Series, Vol. II, online and/or order a paper book.

Between fun parties and time with good friends, the book shall emerge.  I'll be the first to let you know; check back here regularly.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Chance to Publish Your Story or Poem...

If you want a chance to see your short story (less than 2000 wds) or your poem in the 2nd Edition of The Harbor Series, I will read and consider it for this 2012 edition. "G" rated only.
I want to build a new author base, and you're invited.

Email your entry to grammasizzy@hotmail.com

I'll check for incoming submissions until Oct. 31. The Contest part is over for this year, but you can still be included in the book. Check out the link to learn all about us.

Coach Shirley

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Author Platform and Social Media

Golly, a new procedure for being Agent and Publishing House ready emerges into the Cloud of our "web presence". I'll post a separate, thorough article on Author Platforming in a few days; for now, suffice it to say having a Social Media presence is part of your Platform.

Yes, you guessed it, you're going to have to bite the bullet and do as much of the following as authorly possible: establish Facebook friends and a separate, professional Facebook page; join Tweeter and then tweet frequently; join LinkedIn to hook you up with others associated with your areas of writing interest, networking personified; and then take the leap and check out posterous. com, hubpages.com and an entire host of Google advantages just waiting for you to discover.

I get tired just thinking about it, but I will prevail. I'll have to get up two hours earlier, start drinking coffee in the morning again (which I gave up about five years ago), force my eyelids to feel moist and sit down at my pc before the sun comes over my trees.

Dang, I thought retirement would have enough hours in the day and writing would always be delightful and stress-free. Well, if my personal finance for dummy's hadn't gone South along with the entire US economy, maybe retirement and writing would be what I expected. But, it isn't and they aren't; therefore, I'm forced to the absurd...early morning. Lord love a duck!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Writers' MeetUp

My amazing writer's group, which met for the first time a year and a half ago, meets the first Monday of every month. We've been gathering at Books-A-Million, a lovely bookstore similar to Borders and a bit more modest than Barnes & Noble. This fall we will be moving to a new venue cuz our local BAM had to move out of their place for 'roof repair'.

A BAM employee I spoke with on the last day of their moving sale shared that they would either be coming back into the same store or maybe move into the recently vacated Borders site. It seems that when Borders declared bankruptcy, BAM bought several of their stores. That's great news if it is true.

For now, my writers will be meeting at the new Salsa's Mexican Restaurant on 19N and Alderman. Great young manager there said he's happy to have us. Life is ever changing; Life is good!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Writer's Resolutions

I hereby resolve that my Happy New Year begins today. So, I need to make some writer's resolutions to start my new year out with my focus on -- Writer Me. Here goes: "I will find time each day to develop my Social Media presence as a writer." Okay, well, that's a biggie cuz I have Facebook, Linked-in, Twitter, a MeetUp site, this blog, and my professional writing site. So, as happens to me every New Year, all I can handle is one resolution.

Oh, Hopeful Me!

Everything I Write....

I had an 'awakening' this morning; that's always a good moment! I've been worried of late that my posts have to all be brilliant; and that slowed me up. Silly me, everything I write is brilliant! No worries---it's all good.

Wow! What a relief! (Think I could do stand-up comedy?)

Friday, July 8, 2011

"Welcome Baby Jack"

Welcome, Son of my Son
You gift Sun to my Sun
Bringing Reason to Rhyme
Welcome, Grandson of mine!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Writer's Words - Tear sheets

If you write, you are a writer. If you publish, it behooves you to document. Personally, I keep a current 3-ring book, using those lovely clear plastic sheets to house my tear sheets.

"What is a tear sheet?" one of my students asked recently. First, since you aren't hearing me pronounce 'tear', it's not a drop from the eye cuz you get way too many rejections, it's a 'tear, as in rip.' When you publish any work, a photo, an editorial, an essay, an article, a poem, a story, photocopy your little marvel and place it in the binder of your choice. Select an attractive binder you can use as a brag book...mostly for your ego. However, your 'clip book', which is the proper name for where your tear sheets abide, it is clarifying for your family and friends and is noticeably impressive at interviews.

What if you've publish a longer short story or even a book? Photocopy the cover of the publication, the copyright page and the first page(s) of your manuscript. Make sure you capture a full title for the publication and the date. Recording the date will save you much needless head-scratching a few years from now. You won't forget the title of the publication. Ah, some delicious details are so palattible they are forever unforgettable!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Writing a Novel Outline

I way need to turn over a new leaf and post more post-haste. I'm going outside right this minute to look for a new leaf; I'll turn it over. That ought to take care of my lack of postings. Keep checking in, cuz I've been developing a website to go along with my writing zest, and other tiny orange peelings.

When we talk about outlining for a book-length piece of fiction or non-fiction, we aren't referring to a Roman Numeral outline; at least, I'm not.  I encourage my students to prepare a brief chapter-by-chapter outline, each numbered chapter getting 1 -3 sentences describing the main action.

I learned by doing, and this procedure works: before you write down anything, decide who your characters are (protagonist & antagonist); decide what horrible situation to put your protagonist into as your story opens; know how the story ends, resolving all conficts & tying up loose ends;  write your book's basic plot into one nice long, exciting sentence (a sort of Thesis Statement designed to hook the reader); write a one-page synopsis of the plot, characters, conflicts and resolution; now, at last, you are ready to write that chapter-by-chapter outline.

Many writers like to take their good characters and jump right into the writing, testing the waters as they go and letting the characters sail off as they will.  And, they will.  This is fun.  But, for a beginning writer, this would be like a beginning sailor setting sail without a GPS, without depth charts and proceeding without paying one bit of attention to channel markers.  You will either go aground, crash against the rocks or find yourself wanting to get off the boat.

I see first, even second, time novelists start out on such a free journey only to run themselves into a total wall with no logical, believable way out.  They have to start over, often from chapter one.  With an outline, even a very sketchy one, the sailing is much smoother.

For the non-fiction writer, the outline is equally important, if not more so.  You'll be deciding if your book will be chronological, category driven, topic driven, character driven.  Knowing how your book will read, based on what your market tends to like and what is logical for you non-fiction topic, will make outlining as natural as breathing, and just about as essential.

Within the next several months, I'll be offering lessons you can download to guide you with specifics than I can't provide in a blog: outlining will be among those lessons.  First, I need to make an outline.  In fact, I have so much to do every day that I need an outline of my life, hour by hour, everyday; otherwise, I just tend to get off course, of course.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Upon being verbose.......

I've been close to a few people who were good conversationalist; then, when they asked me to read their writing, I found words, upon words, upon words, feeding upon wording, growing atop words, being parasitical upon words.  I thought, each time, oh, my God!  What happened between their brains and the written page?  It's not a quantum leap, folks.  It's just juxtaposition between thought and print.  Not a leap!  Don't leap.  As you think it, so shall you reap...don't leap!

My point, if you've missed it, is...write exactly as you speak; pretend you are speaking your paragraphs.  Don't elaborate.  Save that for the pool room...or the spa.  Elaboration, exhortation doesn't belong in excellent prose.  You're only as good as succinctness shows, God knows!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Miasma of My Mind

I promised you a brief essay on 'miasma'; yes, I did.  Here's the backstory;           words were a game in our home, ranging from one-upmanship to the lowest of the lowest humor (puns).  Therefore, we all became excellent listeners of every single word spoken in the house.

One sunny day, Father returned from work, tossed his hat onto his corner of the kitchen counter, marched through the house without greeting anyone, and said, "No one speak to me!  My mind in meshed in a miasma of darkness."

In unison, the other four of us said, "Miasma?"  A scramble ensued for every dictionary, pc and thesarus in the house.  Nothing on the face of the earth was more challenging to us than a 'new' word.

From his contextual use, we all knew 'miasma' was most likely not a good thing.  And, indeed, we discovered that it is a mirky, foggy place to be.  The other four of us, me and the three kids, quickly formed a pact:  we would use the word 'miasma' at least once a day for the following two weeks.  We did.  It was fun.  Lots of laughs.  Just imagine it's use in reference to our daily lives---teachers, students, readings, thoughts.  It was delicious.

Personally, I made a secret pledge to use the word at least once in every novel I ever wrote.  Now, it's not a secret anymore.

But, my secret won't be real or revealed to you unless you read each of my novels!  Soon as I get them out here, it will be up to you to do the word search.

Welcome to my playful world!

Friday, January 21, 2011

I Can Hardly Wait to Write Words Worth Writing

I heard my wake-up weather man saying "I can hardly believe..." as dawn peaked in my window beside my bedroom TV this morning.  With eyes still closed, my ears swirled with myriad echoes from my past classroom students mouthing 'can't hardly', 'can't hardly', 'can't hardly', like a badly scratched vinyl record.

Shaking myself from their teen-y slaughter of the language, I thought, "The weather man said it correctly."   But, let's not stop there.  I can barely tolerate hearing 'can't hardly' (my improved version of 'I can hardly tolerate...'). 'Can hardly', after all, can barely compare to 'can barely.'

Actually, hardly may be stripped of phraseology altogether and be better left totally to the role of the single word response to a question.  "You going to date him?"


Now that I'm fully awake and thinking about it, 'hardly' as the single word response may be obsolete already.

"You going to date him?"


So, let's just throw 'hardly' under the bus and be done with it.  As crisp, clean, clear writers, it's the least we can do.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Myriad Debate

The jury is not necessarily in on the proper use of 'myriad'.  For years we heard 'a myriad, and 'myriads of', then 'myriad' started standing alone.  'A myriad stars'  or 'myriads of stars' is music to our ears.  Most people still use these two phrases.  Some muck it up completely and say 'a myriad of stars'.

Once my mentor declared the acceptable form among widely published authors, like him and his novelist friends, is 'myriad', my love of myriad was ruined forever.

Over time, I became a believer of the single myriad.  I had to do it on my own terms, however, with a comparison I could accept.  Here's how it goes.  Myriad is a word indicating vast numbers, like the word 'thousand'.  Would we say 'a thousand of stars?  No, we'd drop the 'of'.  So, I'm okay with "a myriad stars'. Likewise, as in the plural, we would say 'thousands of stars' and drop the 'a'.  So, I'm okay with 'myriads of stars'.

If you find yourself giving pause the next time you use 'myriad', you can blame me.  Then, you'll most likely sort it out for yourself.  Some of you may choose to research it, too.  I didn't recently.  I'm pretty sure that jury is, indeed, still out.  One of the things I love most about language is that it changes, and, eventually, the rules of usage actually catch up with the usage.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Welcome to Coach Writes

Yes, I write.  I also read, speak, edit, publish and coach.  Well, that's enough about me.  This is a "happy place" for writers and wannabe writers.  I offer you the best of what I've learned through tips, tidbits, tales and you add another 't' word; see, you're inspired to write already.

I want to pay forward the wealth I've found in words over the past several decades.  A few entries each week will also keep me writing while continuing on my coaching path.  I'll have links and tons of assists, a full website or two in time.  For now, I'll keep it simple.

Words Worth Sharing:  miasma, myriad  I'll talk about those tomorrow.