Our Mission Statement:

The mission of Pens & Pages Writers Guild is to facilitate and encourage writers of all genres, to share resources and tips about the writing process and, most of all, to provide a positive and productive forum that will encourage and support each writer in his or her creative endeavors.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Take A Break

If your writing is getting boring and cliched, it's time to take a break and gather some new inspiration; read a book, watch a movie or TV show, then tomorrow get back to the old word processor (or typewriter, or yellow tablet) after giving your brain a little time to revive.

I've seen a few movies in recent weeks which seem especially good for those of us who write:
"Stranger Than Fiction" is the story of a writer (Emma Thompson) who confronts some major problems while planning to kill off her main character (Will Farrell). This is a little more serious role for Farrell than his usual slapstick comedy style.

"Miss Potter" is a great movie for those who write for children. This biographical story evolves around Beatrix Potter of London who wrote and illustrated the classic Peter Rabbit series of children's books at the turn of the last century. Here's a lady who got things done in spite of obstacles in her path. If you rent this one, be sure to check out the extra film clips about her later life in rural England explaining how she preserved the country environment around her. A lady WAY ahead of her time.

"Shadows in the Sun" is a pretty good movie about writer's block; losing your ability to write because of of emotional trauma. It stars Harvey Keitel and Joshua Jackson. Beautiful scenery, set in Italy, with a little romance thrown in just to lighten up the story a bit.

Someone in our group, I can't remember who, recommended the book "Home Safe" by Elizabeth Berg. Surprise --- it isn't about baseball! The main character is a well-known writer who conducts writing workshops similar in scope to the writing exercises we do at P & P meets. This is another story line dealing with emotional trauma following the death of a spouse.

I also enjoyed the recent TV series "Castle" (ABC) which centers around a mystery writer who works closely with a lady police detective. Of course there is some romantic comedy involved, but you can pick up a few writing tips along the way. One such tip goes thusly: there are only three reasons to kill (murder) your main character; money, love, or to cover up a crime already committed. Interesting! I hope this series returns to the small screen next Fall.

I'll close with a quote I picked up somewhere: "Bad decisions make good stories." I'm planning to think about the worst decisions I've made during these past seven decades and write them down. I've got plenty to choose from.

Grannie Carol

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Visible, Verifiable, Virtual!

Whoops! I am late again.

First of all, wish me a Happy Birthday. I'm 46. I'm resolved to never lie about my age. It's not like I could get away with it anyway.

I'm thinking a lot about the author's platform lately. This is a concept which attendees to last years FiW Conference will recognize immediately, as -- along with the repetetive drumbeat of "More likely than not, you won't be published" -- the concept, buzz word, what-have-you seemed like an unofficial theme of the 2009 conference.

I think I only mentioned a little about your 'platform' as a writier at a PnP meeting but, like critique, I believe it's a subject that stands up to a little periodic refreshing. I want to disclaimer right now that when I first heard of building your platform at the FiW '09, I was a little miffed and put off. I mean, I want to be a writer, for goodness sake! If I'd wanted to be a salesperson, I would hit the pavement and apply for sales jobs!

Because, like it or not, that is what "building your platform" is all about. Some folks have a ready-made platform in some other area -- like sports or politics -- and don't need to work at getting name recognition to help boost sales of a book. Like former presidents don't have to be writers to get book deals, see. Some are "industry names" -- not known to folks outside of their industry, but very well known within it -- all they need to do is demonstrate their saleability to a publisher and bam! = book deal.

As it is with success breeding more success, so it is with your author's platform -- you gotta have it to get more. In the just-linked article from Writer's Digest, the author mentions visibility, and if I had to use one word to describe "platform" -- say I was on a desert island and I could only take a few words with me -- this would be the one I'd use. This can be problematic for a technophobe like me! (I don't even have a - gasp! - Facebook page!!) But like it or not, in this day and age, visibility - high visibility -- usually evolves out of digital social media.

I despise knowing this! I really do. If there were any way around it, I would take it, you betcha. But the more I look into the world of writing/publishing, the more the truth of the matter crystallizes: you must be visible, you must be verifiable, you must be Virtual! (okay, that middle "v" word is questionable, but I gotta do things in three's. It's an OCD thing.)

So, in the spirit of the subject of the above post, I encourage you to hit the highlighted links embedded in the post and get educated on how you can build your 'author platform' from scratch.

Because we can't all be Paris Hilton, now can we?