Friday, December 30, 2011

I want to buy this house!

I visited a friend in Holyoke, MA today and as I was leaving, I noticed that this Church/house was for sale! At first, I thought that it was still set up as a Church and would need some serious renovation, but when I looked it up at home, I discovered it has already been renovated.

I love this place! I'm hoping to actually go see it. Oh, it is totally out of my price range and impractical for my family and the location isn't the best, but . . . to live here! It has beauty and history and I don't think you could be here and not be inspired. My other thought was to buy it and have it be an artists / writers retreat. I've always thought it would be nice to have a drop-in type of place where creative people could just come and work and be around other creative people.

I looked up the history of the Church. It turns out it was The Highlands Methodist Episcopal Church. You can read more here:

Unless someone has $300,000 I can have, this most likely won't happen for me, but it is something to dream about . . . and sometimes dreams can be almost as good as reality. At the very least, it might be the start of a good story!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Do you want to join Stage 32?

I received an invitation to Stage 32 today - a new social network for members of the film, television and theater communities (including writers). Part of membership is that I am supposed to invite 5 other people. If any of you would like to be a member, please message me (AnneMFaye at or leave a comment) with your email address. I'll be happy to send you one.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Write a Letter This Christmas

Looking for a perfect last-minute gift? How about writing a letter telling somebody special just what they mean to you.

I read a wonderful article by Jon Maksik in Living magazine (unfortunately the article isn't on-line) about how every Christmas and birthday since the year his son was born, he wrote a letter to him, chronicling what was going on in his life and reiterating his love.

In this era of modern technology, letters are largely disappearing. Email and texts are great. They allow us to communicate with ease and across great distances. I wouldn't want to go back to life without it. But, most of these simply fade into the great virtual void. Sure, they can be printed and kept, but how many actually are?

A handwritten letter is tangible and lasting. It can be tucked into the pages of a journal or kept in a special box. It can be opened and read many years later and the reader is transported back in time. It is special. And today, it is even more precious.

Write someone you love a heartfelt letter this Christmas. It is a unique gift that will truly be treasured.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

It's Never Too Late To Live Your Dream

You may have heard this story of Captain James Arruda Henry, but it definitely bears repeating. He learned to read and write in his 90s and just wrote his autobiography. Just goes to show, it is NEVER too late to write that story you've always wanted to put on paper. This man is an inspiration. To find out more, please visit

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Pain of Rewriting

I have a story that I need to seriously rewrite. Honestly, the process scares me a bit - much more than the initial writing did. That was fun! This will be painful.

I came across this quote from Stephen King in the January 2012 issue of Writer's Digest:

When your story is ready for rewrite, cut it to the bone. Get rid of every ounce of excess fat. This is going to hurt; revising a story down to the bare essentials is always a little like murdering children, but it must be done.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Celebrate Fiction! Second Annual Catholic Arts & Letters Award

The Catholic Writers Guild, an organization founded to promote and nurture Catholic writers and their work, is gearing up for the second annual Catholic Arts and Letters Award (CALA) for Fiction.

The CALA for Fiction is awarded to authors of works of fiction in which judges find exemplary literary merit. All submissions must first be awarded the Catholic Writers Guild’s Seal of Approval, a process by which books are reviewed by a Catholic panel to certify that content does not disregard Catholic doctrine.

“The Guild’s mission is to lift up Catholic writers,” says CWG President Ann Margaret Lewis. “It hopes to encourage them and embolden them to create great art and compete in the world of ideas. This award recognizes well-written fiction that does just that.”

At last year’s CMN, the CWG awarded the first CALA for fiction in two categories. In the children’s fiction category, Regina Doman was awarded for her young adult novel, Alex O’Donnell and the 40 Cyberthieves. In adult fiction, it was awarded to Michelle Buckman for her novel, Rachel’s Contrition.

“It was a great privilege to be the recipient of the first CALA for fiction,” says Michelle Buckman, “especially given the high caliber of the other submissions. My hope is that this award is bringing attention to the availability of great Catholic novels. I encourage all writers to submit entries, and all readers to check out the growing list of Catholic fiction listed on the Catholic Writers Guild website.”

Regina Doman was equally thrilled to be awarded the CALA in the Children’s division.

"Catholic fiction for children and young adults provides entertainment that also reveals faith at work in our lives, and this award will hopefully make more people aware of all the great books available. I am grateful and honored to be the first to receive this award."

The deadline for 2011 book submissions is January 31, 2012. Details can be found at the CWG website –

Monday, November 7, 2011

Download "Through the Open Window" for Free

In honor of National Novel Writing Month, I thought I would offer my novel about a woman whose whole life changes because she decides to write a novel during November as a free download for a limited time: Through the Open Window.


It is also available for Kindle or in Paperback through

Sunday, November 6, 2011

What Every Story Should Be About

Two time Pulitzer Prize winner Gene Weingarten told Writer's Digest that a story "must be about something larger than itself - some universal truth."

All stories are about the search for the meaning of life. We all search for it. How does your story add to the search?

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Most Important Reason to Write

The November/December 2011 issue of Writer's Digest features an interview with best-selling writer James Lee Burke. He offers this reason for writing and keeping at it in the face of all the hardships and rejection:

If God gives a gift to someone, it's for a reason. It's to make the world a better place. And you never forget that lesson. . . .God doesn't make mistakes when he presents someone with a gift like that. It's there for a reason. . . There's nothing worse than remorse about not using what you have.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Miles to Go and Foster Care

I recently enjoyed reading Miles to Go: The Second Journal of the Walk Series by Richard Paul Evans. It continues the story of Alan Christoffersen who is walking across the country after having lost everything. It is a quick read and a great story. I'm already looking forward to the next installment!

What I liked best, though, is Richard Paul Evans' statement at the back of the book: "I write with the hope of improving the world." He included a character named Kailamai in the story based on a real life woman by the same name. He is hoping to help her and others like her who are aging out of the foster care system. "Research from the Pew Charitable Trusts shows that 6 out of 10 youth aging out of the foster care system will be homeless, incarcerated, or dead within the first two years. Most youth aging out of the foster care system lack the essential skills, resources, and support to live a safe and independent life."

Go-Mentor is an organization working to help these graduates of the foster care system. Find out more at:

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Book Review: "Boston Public Library"

Boston Public Library (Images of America)
by Catherine J. Willis
Charleston: Arcadia Publishing, 2011

This book quickly caught my attention at (where else?) my local library. Part of the "Images of America" series, it is primarily a pictorial history of the Boston Public Library system, but the introduction and photo captions provide a wealth of information. Written by Catherine J. Willis who is manager of technical services at the Boston Public Library, it takes the reader back in time to the beginnings of the public library system in this country.

Originally founded in 1852, the Boston Public Library was the first large municipally funded library in the United States. Later on, it would become the first public library to open a branch and to have a dedicated children's room.

This book will be of interest to anyone who loves libraries, architecture or social history. I personally loved seeing the way the books were delivered to patrons - you actually had to request the books and then the call slips were sent via pneumatic tubes to stations on each of the six floors where librarians would retrieve the books and send them on elevators to the delivery room where patrons would pick them up! It was also interesting to see how women had their own reading room.

This book is truly fascinating. I cannot recommend it enough!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Monday, September 12, 2011

Some Tidbits from Writer's Digest

I have to return the September 2011 issue of Writer's Digest to the library on Wednesday, but before I do, I wanted to share a couple tidbits of writing wisdom I found within its pages.

In the article, "Ways to Harness Fear and Fuel Your Writing" by Sage Cohen, she advises, "Do What Scares You Because It Scares You." What do you fear most in your writing life? Take a moment to evaluate if it truly is likely to do you serious harm. If the answer is no, then I invite you to make a point of doing this very thing - as much as you can - until you exhaust fear's charge around it.

Her own personal fear was public speaking which she has conquered by doing it as often as possible!

The second tidbit comes from "10 Ways to Launch Strong Scenes" by Jordan E. Rosenfeld. It offers this checklist for making the most from each scene.

Does your scene

1) Have a beginning, middle, and an end?
2) Launch vividly and engage the reader?
3) Have a rich subtext, complete with texture, themes and imagery?
4) Include complications that up the ante for the main characters?
5) Leave the reader hungry for more upon its ending?
6) End in a logical way that leaves room for the next scene to launch?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Catholic Writers to Enjoy Special Spiritual Retreat

Lansing, MI: In collaboration with FAITH Catholic Publishing and Communications, The Catholic Writers Guild, will sponsor Your Word is My Delight, a Catholic writers' retreat, Oct 5-9, 2011. Come and delight in God's word and sacrament, and pray in a beautiful and serene retreat setting.

The retreat's key presenter is Pat Gohn, Catholic columnist, podcaster and catechist (link: . Other presenters are Father Charles E. Irvin, David Krajewski, Father David Rosenberg and Father Larry Delaney.

Writers will enjoy five spiritually-enriching days of daily Mass, adoration, the sacrament of reconciliation and many hours of writing time. Talks will explore how God speaks to and encourages writers through Scripture, papal writings and other topics in order to promote faith-filled writing.

Opportunities for networking also will be offered through an informal "book bash and social hour" Wednesday evening and Faith Catholic's one-on-one "pitch sessions" that give writers the chance to sell their current writing projects.

Cost for the four-day retreat is $450, which includes meals and accommodations. Deadline for registration is Sept 28. A nonrefundable deposit of $45 is required at registration.  

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Because there is a blank page . . .

I'm engaging in some leisure reading right now and enjoying The Last Promise by Richard Paul Evans.

In his Prologue, he writes of his inspiration for the story. I like this line: "I lifted my pencil to the page, not because I had words, but because a blank page beckoned."

So much of being a writer is writing even when the inspiration seems far away. It comes. It always comes, but you have to put yourself in a place to receive it. You need to be willing to do the work, to open the notebook (or the laptop) and start writing.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Dr. Suess Inspirations

Dr. Suess, aka Theodore Geisel, was an iconic children's book writer. Who among us is not familiar with the Cat in the Hat or The Grinch that Stole Christmas? Born and raised in my hometown of Springfield, MA, our city features a sculpture garden in his honor. Right now, The Lyman and Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History is featuring a special exhibit, "And to Think That He Saw It in Springfield" illustrating the many sources of inspiration that he found in this city.

All writers seek inspiration. It can come from many sources, but the places that we live and work can be especially fertile ground if we can see them with fresh eyes. This exhibit compares some of Dr. Suess' fancicul drawings with photographs of the actual places that inspired them. For more information on the exhibit, please visit: And To Think That He Saw it in Springfield

Friday, August 5, 2011

Catholic Arts and Letters Award Winner

Congratulations go out to Michelle Buckman for winning the 2011 Catholic Arts and Letters Award for Adult Fiction for Rachel's Contrition (Chisel & Cross Books). This is an amazing book. The award is well-deserved.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

For Henry David Thoreau's Birthday

I read in the paper today that it is Henry David Thoreau's birthday. Here, from Walden is my favorite Thoreau quote:

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. . . I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Writing from our Lives

I have to return my copy of Writer's Digest to the library tomorrow, but I wanted to leave you with one last quote from an article by Dinty W. Moore (either that is not his real name or his parents had quite the sense of humor!):

It's not what happens to us in our lives that makes us into writers; it's what we make out of what happens to us.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Looking for inspiration? Create a soundtrack for your story!

I've been drinking in the pages of the latest issue of Writer's Digest. So many good ideas! So little time!

I did come across this great idea in "The Geyser Approach to Revision" by James Scott Bell:

"To do the best revision possible, you need to recapture the feeling you had while writing your draft in the first place. One way to do this is through music. Find several pieces that move you to feelings consistent with your book. . . Compile a playlist of songs that evoke the mood - or better yet, a medley of the various moods - you hope to convey in  your story, and use it as background each time you sit down to self-edit."

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Do You Remember Getting Your 1st Library Card?

I was at the library today and a little boy was getting a certificate commemorating his getting a library card for the first time. I remember getting my first library card many years ago. I'm pretty sure I was eight years old. It was the Aldenville Branch Library in Chicopee, MA. Back then, they were still paper cards and you had to sign out library books. Anyway, I remember that the librarian asked me if I knew what year I would graduate from high school and she was very impressed that I actually knew!

My parents actually weren't very big on going to libraries. The only times I was able to go was for school related research, but it was love at first sight for me. Libraries were (and are) magical places! All those books just begging to be read. Once I was able to go on my own, I became a frequent visitor.

Over the years, I amassed quite a collection of library cards - every library I visited required its own. Of course, now that has been rendered obsolete by a computerized system which my wallet appreciates because I only have to carry one card! 

Do you remember getting your first library card? Share your story here!

Friday, June 24, 2011

What if Your Book Sold a Million Copies for the Wrong Reasons?

Nancy Brandt raises an interesting question - "What if your book sold a million copies because people thought it was the worst book ever?" on her blog What if it sold 1 million copies?

I can see how that would be disheartening. After all, you want people to read your book because they enjoy it and tell their friends how they have to read this book. But, I think I'd still be happy with the money! I could do a lot of good with that kind of money. And I guess I'm really not that proud! LOL

She raises the question of how one can have a writing career after that kind of notoriety - easy! Write under a different name. Writing, unlike most careers, allows for multiple personalities!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Catholic Writers to Convene in August in Valley Forge

The third annual Catholic Writers’ Conference LIVE will take place
August 3-5, 2011, at the Scanticon Hotel Valley Forge in King of Prussia, PA. Sponsored by the Catholic Writer’s Guild (CWG) and the Catholic Marketing Network (CMN), it will be held in conjunction with CMN’s annual retailer trade show. The Catholic Writers Conference LIVE provides Catholic authors with a prime opportunity to meet and share their faith with editors, publishers, fellow writers, and bookstore owners from across the globe.
CWG President Ann Margaret Lewis said this year's conference will, “focus on marketing and selling one’s written work.” Highlights of the conference include:

Over 30 sessions taught by professionals in writing, marketing, blogging and publishing
Pitch Sessions where writers may meet privately with representatives from four publishers
One-on-one coaching sessions. For $35 an author can have a 30 minute private consultation with a specialist who will review their manuscript and guide them toward publication.
• Rapid-fire readings. Published authors will each have five minutes to read a selection from one of their books. A mass book sale and signing will follow.

Lewis says the conference comes at a modest cost. “Registration for the jam packed three days is only $90 for CWG members or $100 for non-members. And we have a special price of $42 for students. Our conference allows you to connect personally with Catholic publishers and retailers, to show your work, learn the craft and network.” Priests and religious are invited free of charge, but must register at the email address:

This year’s conference speakers include:

• Catholic publishing representatives Claudia Volkman of Servant Books/St.Anthony Messenger Press,
• Regina Doman, acquisitions editor for Sophia Institute Press,
• Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle, author of Mother Teresa and Me,
• Michelle Buckman, author of the young adult novel Maggie Come Lately and the adult drama Rachel’s Contrition,
• Angela Breidenbach, author of Gems of Wisdom and
• Patti Armstrong, co-author of the best-selling Amazing Grace book series and author of Catholic Truths for Our Children, Stories for the Homeschool Heart.

Past attendees gave glowing accounts of their experiences at the conference:

• Carol Bannon, author of the children’s book “Handshake from Heaven,” said, “Attending this conference has been the best thing I have done for myself professionally.”
• Writer Melanie Cameron concurs, “I recommend this conference as a resource for any author (or wannabe) at any stage. You will walk away empowered!”
• Maureen Martin, a consultant and trainer said she attended to connect with other professional Catholics. “It was such a wonderful, nurturing environment where we could share our faith and our love for literature.”

The Catholic Writers Guild, a religious non-profit organization, sponsors both this live conference in August and an online conference in February to further its mission of promoting Catholic literature. “Our conferences are totally focused on encouraging faithful Catholics to share genuine Catholic culture and faith in their writing no matter what genre,” says Lewis. “These events are integral to our mission of ‘creating a rebirth of Catholic arts and letters.”

Also at this year’s conference, the CWG will be presenting its first ever Catholic Arts and Letters Awards (called the “Lilies”) for the best in Catholic fiction. This award will recognize one book in the adult market and one in the children’s market for its literary merit.

Information for the Catholic Writer’s Conference can be found on the conference web site:

The CWG is a professional group of writers, artists, editors, illustrators, and allies whose mission is to build a vibrant Catholic literary culture. The organization is loyal to the teaching authority of the Roman Catholic Church.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Setting Realistic Goals in Writing

Colleague Karina Fabian writes about her writing goals in Writing: Setting and Keeping Realistic Goals. She's trying to write 3000 words a day on her work in progress. I started reading and thought "Wow, that would be really nice, but it isn't likely to happen for me anytime in the near future." Then I read this line: "When I first started writing, I was homeschooling two kids, had a toddler and a baby. My goal then was a sentence a night. That's all I could realistically achieve." I burst out laughing. Yup, that's my life in a nutshell these days.

In all honesty, I can't really see myself writing just one sentence a night. Once some other projects are wrapped up, I hope to be able to get back to writing at least 10 minutes a day. We shall see. But, in the meantime, Karina has some really good ideas and gave me some hope that maybe all is not lost in my writing career.  

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Importance of Details

In the May/June 2011 issue of Writer's Digest, Natalie Taylor talks about writing  Signs of Life: A Memoir about her life as a young, pregnant widow, She states "I still wish I had been even more observant. As I went back through my manuscript, I realized it was the tiniest details that were the most powerful and most important to the story. You can never have too many of those in the bank."

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

On Catholic Fiction

The National Catholic Register is featuring a wonderful article on Catholic Fiction. Check it out here: Catholic, Will Write

Friday, April 22, 2011

How $1 Could Make You a Bestselling Author

This is a good article on how a small purchase (provided you actually use it!) could make your writing career:

How $1 Could Make You a Bestselling Author

Monday, April 18, 2011

MFA/MA in Children's Literature offered by Simmons College/Eric Carle Museum

I was very intrigued by this article in the Springfield Republican about a collaborative program between Simmons College and the Eric Carle Museum to offer an MFA/MA program in Children's Literature: Students 'Master" Writing for Children. You can find out more about the program at the Simmons College website: Simmons College/Eric Carle Program

Friday, April 15, 2011

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

It's National Library Week

I absolutely love libraries. They are second only to Churches as my favorite places, and I'd like to think that heaven has the most amazing library ever (where I hope to spend some quality time after I leave this world). Learn more here: National Library Week

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

To Blog or Not to Blog

If you are a writer, do you have to blog? Sarah Reinhard ponders that question (and offers some really could reasons why you should NOT blog) at To Blog or Not to Blog

Friday, April 1, 2011

Stanford's Online Creative Writing Certificate

I came across an ad for this program in a magazine today and it looks interesting. Unlike most writing programs, there is no residency requirement. Stanford's Online Creative Writing Certificate

Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Reason to Never Give Up

Sometimes I get very discouraged with my writing career/progress. Stories like this one How I Got My Agent - Mary Glickman offer some hope!

Friday, March 25, 2011

I Miss Writing

When I don't have a creative outlet, I get restless. It's just part of my personality. In some respects - it doesn't really matter what it is - it can be painting, or quilting, or writing (and somehow my nonfiction writing doesn't count for this particular purpose) - I just need to have that way of expressing myself in some way. And right now, none of that is happening and I am getting a serious itch that needs to be scratched in order to keep myself in good balance. Hopefully soon . . .

Monday, March 21, 2011

How Not to Write a Screenplay

For a whole host of reasons, writing has needed to take a backseat lately. But I did have a little time today to read the first half of How Not to Write a Screenplay: 101 Common Mistakes Most Screenwriters Make. It isn't written by a writer, but rather by someone whose job is to read screenplays. He's seen all the flaws and he points out what not to do. It makes for interesting reading. It definitely shouldn't be the first book on screenwriting you read, but once you learn what to do, this book is great for pointing out mistakes you might not have thought of.

Friday, March 11, 2011


This is a tidbit I picked up in the March/April 2011 issue of Writer's Digest

Postertext is a company that makes posters using the text of novels. What an awesome concept! I'm personally quite fond of the Little Women one. To find out more, visit Postertext.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Looking for the Joy far in the Distance

When you long for something so much but God does not grant it to you do not sorrow. There's something even greater on its way! Although the sorrow may last through the night, joy comes in the morning.

This was a FB status on one of my friend's pages and it spoke to me. At a time in life when it feels like I have to pack up all my dreams (again!) and put them away for an undetermined amount of time and I am grieving for them, it brings me some comfort. I want to trust that God does have something good in store, even if it isn't in this lifetime. Lent is all about dying to oneself and picking up one's cross. It is so easy to say and so hard to do.

Friday, March 4, 2011

How Do We Know When It's Time To Quit Being A Writer?

This is a good post on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog: How Do We Know When It's Time to Quite Being a Writer?"

With all the ups and downs of the writing life, it can be tempting to quit. J. M. Tohline offers the following words of wisdom:

I have written to write. I have written because I have no choice but to write. If I ever try to quit, I'll just come right back.

In truth, my path has probably not been so different from the one you are traveling yourself, or (you better start preparing now) the one you will travel yourself. And unless you are a masterpiece of mental toughness and emotional unassailability, you will sometimes find yourself asking that dark question: Is it time to just plain quit?

The answer, of course, is simple: Can you quit? Chances are, you probably cannot. So keep writing, Dear Writer – because that is what you are. Whether or not you have a novel in bookstores. Whether or not the whole world has read your writing. Whether or not anything of yours is ever published, as long as you live, you are still a writer. It is part of who you are. Keep writing. It is never time to quit.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Time to Cut Some Scenes

Life is busy right now, and I honestly don't know when I'll get to work on my screenplay, but a couple days ago I did finish my first scene outline - and I have about 50 scenes too many! So, some condensing is definitely in order! That will be the next item on the screenplay agenda. I need to cut and combine scenes while keeping all the important information in the story.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Save $6,936 a Year by Using Your Public Library

I picked up this interesting flyer at my local library the other day. It explained how using the library can save a family of four $6,936 over the course of a year. You and your family may use some of these categories more than others, but any way you slice it, the library is a tremendous value and cost-saving measure. I don't know what I would do without it!

2 books per week for each child - 16 monthly @ $12 = $192
3 books per month for each adult - 6 monthly @ $15 = $90

Videos and DVDs
2 videos per week for children - 8 monthly @ $4  = $32
1 video per week per adults - 4 monthly @ $4 = $16

Programs at the Library
(includes story times/adult programs/other activities)
monthly savings - $68

Museum Passes
2 visits per month per family of 4 = $100

Online Databases (Magazines, Newspapers, Journals)
used 4x a month for school, research, etc - $80

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Great Screenwriting Project has Begun!

I am half-way through reading The Screenwriter's Bible: A Complete Guide to Writing, Formatting, and Selling Your Script and have been taking tons of notes. (I'm pretty sure if I continue with this, I will need to buy this book, but for now I have the six week library loan and I am taking all the advantage of it I can.) It is a very practical, helpful book stuffed with information.

I had a couple hours of time today and I began creating the scene by scene outline for my screenplay. It's so exciting to actually begin to work on this. As with so many things, the starting seems to be the hardest part. I think about it, and think about it, and stress about it, and dream about it, and then I get to work and it starts to be something real, and that is an amazing thing. Wherever this road takes me, it is a new skill to learn and that in itself is a good thing.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Latest Book on the Reading Pile: The Screenwriter's Bible

I picked up The Screenwriter's Bible: A Complete Guide to Writing, Formatting, and Selling Your Script at the library today. I was so excited to pick it up (I had requested it a couple weeks ago.) I'm looking forward to reading it and seeing what I can learn.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Free On-line Writing Conference Starting February 14th

Interested in getting some free advice on writing?. Check out the Free online-conference starting tomorrow: Savvy Authors

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Exploring Screenwriting a Bit More

Ever since I finished reading Story: Substance, Structure, Style and The Principles of Screenwriting, I find myself analyzing the movies I'm watching. How were the scenes broken? What was the inciting incident? What were the emotional shifts in each scene? What was the climax? The resolution? It has given me a whole new perspective.

Meanwhile, I explored my library catalog to see what else I can learn about screenwriting. I have a couple more books coming to me (I LOVE the interlibrary loan system). Yesterday, I picked up The Sense and Sensibility Screenplay & Diaries: Bringing Jane Austen's Novel to Film (Newmarket Pictorial Moviebooks). I wanted to see what an actual screenplay looked like. It is an added bonus that this is a wonderful movie that I have seen several times. I love Jane Austin!

I also picked up a stack of index cards so that I can start creating scenes - one scene per card. I'm excited about this project. I wish I had more time to devote to it, but it is good to have a dream to work on.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Interview with Nicholas Sparks

I was so excited to see Nicholas Sparks on the cover of the February 2011 Writer's Digest! He is one of my all-time favorite writers. WD has an in-depth interview with him: Bestselling Author Nicholas Sparks Explains the Creative Process.

Sparks also talks about writing on his own website: Nicholas Sparks for writers

I especially like his "grandmother rule:" "My grandmother's still alive; she reads me, and if she would get mad at me, then I can't write it."

Monday, January 31, 2011

Get Inspired to Write by your Dinnerware!

 I absolutely LOVE a brand-new notebook - all those pages just begging to be filled! I even love the smell (Not quite as much as I love the smell of old books, but it is up there on the list).

So, when I saw these cups and plates advertised in Writer's Digest, I knew I had to blog about them. They are designed to look like notebook paper! How cool is that?

They can be purchased here:,1541.html

Saturday, January 29, 2011

How writing can help you heal

I think most writers are aware of the fact that writing can be cathartic - getting out on paper all the emotions and pain swirling around inside - some of which we can't even tell our closest friend. Here is a good blog post about one writer's healing through writing: How writing about loss helps you heal

Friday, January 28, 2011

Reading about Writing

I've been continuing reading Story: Substance, Structure, Style and The Principles of Screenwriting. I'm currently on page 314. There is just so much quality information in that book. I would like to get back to writing, but I don't know when that might happen. There is just so much on my plate right now. Still, it is great to at least be reading about writing, and learning some things in the process.

Monday, January 24, 2011

This Just May Be the Best Book on Creating a Story Ever

A while back, I was lamenting that I didn't know how to revise the story I was working on. It's not that I didn't have the desire, I just truly did not have a clue and the general advice I was receiving simply wasn't helping. I needed specifics and some hand-holding.

A reader commented that I should getStory: Substance, Structure, Style and The Principles of Screenwriting by Robert McKee. He said that even though it was about screenwriting, it was the best book on creating a story that he had ever seen. One hundred twenty pages into the book, I'm inclined to agree. I've been taking copious notes. McKee is so step by step in his explanations and they all make perfect sense. I know that the implementation will still be a challenge, but I'm eager to finish reading this book and to dig in to my story with fresh eyes. I may even attempt to turn it into a screenplay! This is the hand-holding I needed. Thanks so much for the recommendation! I, in turn, recommend it to all of you.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Vote for Your Favorite Faith-Based Fiction in the Grace Awards

What was your favorite faith-based novel of 2010? Vote for it at the Grace Awards

Using Books as a Design Element

People have been using books as decoration as long as there have been books. They automatically add a certain element to a room whether intended or not. This article by Penelope Green shows individuals taking it to a whole other level. Searching and buying books to decorate the shelves? Now that could definitely be a dream career for a book lover. Selling a Book by its Cover

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Some Beautiful Journals

In the event my recent posts on The Journal Keeper have you inspired to start journaling (the old-fashioned kind - in books, as opposed to blogging), here is a link to a store with some incredibly beautiful journals. I saw them advertised recently, and they took my breath away:

Of course, one does not need such expensive journals to write in. I've been happy with a variety of blank books over the years. Some were gifts; others were picked up at bookstores; some at a dollar store. All are precious. Other people are perfectly happy writing in spiral bound notebooks or composition books. If you want to journal, you will find a way to do it.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Some thoughts from "The Journal Keeper"

I finished reading The Journal Keeper: A Memoir by Phyllis Theroux today. Her life definitely went in some unexpected directions, which just goes to show that no matter how old you are, life is still full of surprises.

As this is a blog (mostly) about writing, I thought I would share some of her thoughts on writing.

Keeping a journal not only saved my life in the record-keeping sense but saved it in a deeper, more mysterious sense as well.

Yesterday went well. I worked on the plot outline for the Christmas book [ Giovanni's Light: The Story of a Town Where Time Stopped for Christmas ]. No real writing, but I spent several hours working steadily without wanting to be anywhere else. It was exciting. What is happening is that my imagination is engaged; scenes and ideas are filling in the spaces of the story in a satisfying way. I am still not sure of certain things, but I am living with the questions, turning them over in my mind.

There are two ways to look at the act of committing your thoughts and feelings to paper: 1) as a frightening revelatory act that leaves you less in control. or 2) as a way of taking your thoughts and fears and subduing them, like pinning butterflies to a wax tablet, so you can examine them more closely. 
The second is what has always motivated me.

Books need no towels or linen, just an inch on a shelf. And they'll talk to anybody who will listen.

These last two quotes aren't about writing, but they spoke to me just the same.

You can't jerk someone into the sunlight when grief is all they have left. We can see nothing with grief-struck eyes. That is what "blind with grief" means.

"Use your life to illuminate something larger." That's it. That's what we're all called to do.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

"The Journal Keeper"

At the library last week, The Journal Keeper: A Memoir by Phyllis Theroux called to me. Despite the fact that I have a pile of books waiting for me to read them, I picked it up. The name itself spoke to me. How could I resist?

I read half of it today. "Savored" would be a more accurate word as I drank it in and enjoyed every moment. The book covers Theroux's life from 2000 - 2005. She's in her sixties, caring for her mother who is in her eighties. Theroux is a woman coming to terms with what it means to live and what it means to die. She deals with questions we all must face.While she and I have very different faith walks, she is a woman longing for a deeper connection to the spiritual .

She is also a writer, and as such, I recognize a kindred spirit. I, too, am a journal-keeper. I've been journaling for over twenty-one years now. So much of my life is in those bound books. I pick them up and read the pages and I am back in that moment of time, simple moments, many of which would be lost forever had I not recorded them, but together, they have all conspired to make me who I am.

Stay tuned - I plan to offer some brief kernels of wisdom from "The Journal Keeper" in the coming days.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

January Issue of Writer's Digest

I've been reading the January 2011 issue of Writer's Digest. I'm a big fan of that publication in general, but I think that this particular issue is one of their best in terms of pure practical application. The major theme of the issue is "How to Write Your Novel in 2011." Unfortunately, the articles aren't on-line (one thing I DON'T Like about Writer's Digest), but you can find a list of the articles here: You can also order a copy of the issue.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

How writing a novel is like, well, a novel . . .

I came across this great quote by John Dufresne in the January issue of Writer's Digest

Now it dawns on you that writing a novel is itself very much a plot. Novels are about characters who want something. And you want something, too - to understand the lives of your own characters, which means resolving the trouble in your protagonist's life, which means completing the novel - and you want it intensely. If you don't finish, your life will be significantly diminished. And so you pursue your goal and battle every obstacle . . .You sit day after day. You struggle and at last you finish your novel. Plot's resolved.