Archive for the ‘Authors’ Category

Mt. Diablo Writers Club Three-Dimensional Characters Workshop

February 16, 2014

Marilyn Atlas will present a workshop on “Creating Three-Dimensional, Non-Stereotypical Characters” at the next luncheon meeting of the Mt. Diablo Branch of the California Writers Club (CWC) on Saturday, March 8, 2014 at Zio Fraedo’s Restaurant, 611 Gregory Lane, Pleasant Hill.

Ms. Atlas will discuss how to create three-dimensional characters, using examples from film and television. Among other techniques, she will use Myers Briggs and astrology as inspirations.

She is a talent/literary manager, who has worked for major publishers, and has projects in development for both movies and theater.

Check-in is from 8:30 to 9:00 am. Full breakfast will be served from 9:00 to 9:30 am. The general meeting is at 9:30 am, followed by the workshop from 9:45am to 12:45pm. The cost is $45 for CWC members, $55 for guests.

Reservations are required, and must be received no later than noon on Wednesday, March 5th. Contact Robin Gigoux at ragig@aol.com, or phone 925-933-9670. Expect confirmation only if you e-mail your reservation.

The California Writers Club Mt. Diablo Branch web address is: http://cwcmtdiablowriters.wordpress.com/

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Holidays Zap Your Writing Time? Discover How to Write during December

December 5, 2013

Looking for the perfect gift for Aunt Edna, Uncle Irving and your mother? Search no more!

Write individual poems, stories or create personal art work for your friends and relatives. A gift made especially for the recipient will be long-appreciated.

In my circle of friends, K crochets me beautiful scarves; W makes jewelry. My son oil paints and takes photographs.

Which creative endeavor will you choose for each person on your list?

**Another creative idea for the people on your list: an autographed copy of an author’s book. If you can’t attend the author’s talk or book signing, find contact information on the web and ask if the author will sign a label for your recipent.

*******

Visit this site for a definition of modern authors!

http://nyti.ms/IegLmn

What secret elements make a quest/adventure book great?

November 25, 2013

If you’d like to read a great new middle grade, choose Clare Vanderpool’s Navigating Early, a quest adventure story about a boy dealing with his mother’s death after WWII. Sent to a Maine boarding school, protagonist, Jack, is unhappy and feeling friendless until he’s intrigued with Early Arden, a unique character with a fascination about pi, who leads him through Appalachia.

Vanderpool’s poetic style lures the reader forward. Here is a scene where they fish with Gunnar, a minor character they meet on their journey. Gunnar carries an emotional, heart-wrenching past.

“You have a fine cast,” called Gunnar.

“I know. My brother taught me before he went to the war.” Early swished his line back and forth. The motion seemed to take him away somewhere.

Gunnar’s expression registered what he knew, what we all knew, of the fate of so many of those brothers who went to war. He looked at me, asking the question he didn’t want to say out loud. Did Early’s brother make it back?

I shook my head in answer. No, Fisher was dead.

Gunnar allowed the quiet to take over as Early moved farther out into the water and into his own thoughts.

Finally, Gunnar spoke, his voice so fluid and moving, it could have come from the river itself. “I once hear a poem about angling. It say when you send out your line, it is like you cast out your troubles to let the current carry them away. I keep casting.”

I liked the sound of that. The river pressed and nudged, each of us responding to it in different ways, allowing it to move us apart and into our own place within it.

Notice the unique dialogue of Gunnar, creating a fully formed person in just a few lines and a second layer of meaning within the words, so you’re not just reading a scene about fishing.

Another aspect which is fascinating about this book is how this Newbery Medal-winning author broke the rules. (In order to break the rules, you must first establish that you know them.) Although in writing adult novels (and nearly always in the movies), authors (and screenwriters) are allowed to fictionalize history for the sake of character and plot. In children’s books, this has been a distinct no-no. Why? We don’t want to confuse nonfiction facts with untruths for kids. But at the end of this book, Vanderpool has a page: PI: FACT OR FICTION? Here she lists the truths about this captivating number, since she has bent the truth within her story.

Writing Prompts:

1. Write a quest/adventure short story with the above elements in mind. Before you begin, think and wonder about your story, developing the plot and characters within you. Daydream, jot notes, and free write about the back story of each character first.

2. Can you write a quest poem? Any style you choose!

3. Create a piece of art with a quest/adventure theme.

4. As you begin reading a book, use post-it notes to mark the scenes that are evocative. Why do they work so well?

Workshops to Learn Writing

September 20, 2012

One wanna-be writer asked me why I was attending a poetry workshop if I had no intention of ever becoming a poet.    Writers of all genres have many skills they can impart.

Apply their techniques to your own paragraph/scene/chapter/project.  Ask them probing craft questions.  When you have a thoughtful problem within your own work,  make it into a universal question in which the others in the workshop can benefit from the answer. 

In the case of the author above, I did my own research by typing David Corbett onto Amazon. He received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist, not easy to accomplish. 

Are there any spare minutes in the workshop for extra questions? It looks like his books are a master of suspense, so although his workshop focuses on character and plot, I’d ask him a question on his suspense technique, because EVERY book, nonfiction or fiction, requires this important element. 

What do you need to know about plot and character?  How can you be enriched by another author’s take on it?  His advice?  If you are fortunate to be in an area where an author is speaking or teaching, take the opportunity to listen, learn, and write. 

Do you feel like your writing isn’t fresh and unique 100% of the time?   We all feel this way.  Do something about it.  Learn from other authors.

Jonathan Franzen – Writing Fiction and Memoir

June 22, 2012

Jonathan Franzen, author of The Corrections, Freedom, two other novels, a work of nonfiction and two collections of essays, gave a talk the other night and I was a fortunate attendee.

He spoke with thoughtfulness and richness.  When the audience asked questions, Franzen didn’t merely pop off answers from the top of his head, but gave them much consideration; the answers were from deep reflections, much like his writing. 

“Reading and writing fiction is an act of social engagement.”

“A character dies on the page if you can’t hear his or her voice.”

“A novel is a personal struggle.  What is fiction after all if not purposeful dreaming?”

“If fiction is easy to write it’s not any good.” 

(He mentioned he wasn’t talking about fun, light reading.)

“Take autobiographical risks.  Trust people you know to love the whole you.  All writers have to be loyal to themselves.”  His brother was similar to the character, Gary, in The Corrections, in that he was also working on a family album.  But Franzen learned not to be concerned because he knew his brother had his own life.  After his brother read the book he called him.  “John?” he said.  “This is your brother.  (Pause.) Gary!” 

“Tone, language, character – – – even a great TV show like Breaking Bad can’t do moral subtly. I’m trying to defeat other media.” 

“A writer wants to be alone in a room.  He’s easily ashamed and is an exhibitionist.”

“I’ve grown a thick skin.  I’ve learned not to Google myself.” 

“I never thought I’d do nonfiction.  I thought it was a betrayal of the novel.” 

Favorite bird at the moment?  The California Towhee.  Why?  Subtle.  Charismatic.  Not shy. 

Just like Jonathan Franzen. 

Writing Prompts:

1.  Franzen gave a plug for Memoir Journal, a nonprofit that is a literary magazine and also holds writing workshops.  Check this publication out a memoirjournal.net    

They are open to submissions for memoir pieces, with $500 and publication as their top prizes.  Write a memoir following their submission policy.   

2.  Choose one small autobiographical detail and combine it with a fictional character in your story.  Make sure it enhances and adds depth to your character and story.   

3.  Create a character with one or all of these descriptions:  subtle, charismatic, not shy.

Best Advice from Authors and Editors

April 23, 2012

I attended a Society of Childrens Book Writers and Illustrators one-day conference in Rocklin, California this weekend.  Fabulous speakers gave terrific writing techniques and marketing tips which not only apply to those interested in writing for children, but writing for anyone.

Here are some gems:

Lin Oliver, who founded SCBWI with Steven Mooser in 1971, quoted well-known authors who have spoken at the L.A. conference since its inception.  

She quoted Bruce Coville:  “Follow your weirdness.” 

Lin also recommends for every book you write  you should read 500 of those types of books to get a feel for that genre.  Which books inspire you most? 

Andrea Tompa, editor at Candlewick Press discussed the process of revision in which she gave detailed questions we should ask ourselves as we go through our projects.    As she quoted Roald Dahl, “Good writing is essentially rewriting.”

Andrea advised us to think about both the internal and external stakes for our characters.  What are they?  How are they resolved?   Many times writers forget about internal growth which needs to happen to their main character. 

Agent Minju Chang from Bookstop Literary Agency spoke about emotions in books.  Make sure you build a bond with your main character and reader.   She quoted Maya Angelou:  ” . . . People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Sterling Editor Brett Duquette talked about voice, the most elusive technique in writing craft of all, in my opinion.  He defined it as the language used in harmony with the characters, narrative, style . . .

For a good example of picture book voice he suggested The Caveman A B.C. Story by Janee Trasler, where the voice begins within the title of the story.  For older books he recommended the play Peter Pan by M.M Barrie and The Fault in our Stars by John Green, among others.

One of several exercises he gave us was this:  Place your character in mortal danger.  Write a complete scene.  (Not necessarily to be used in your book – just to learn about your character)  You will learn a lot about your character through this writing prompt.

And although the agents and editors said they were tired of paranormal books and would love to see contemporary fiction, they advised write what you must and disregard the trends.  Just keep it fresh and unique!

Now . . . back to writing!

Make ’em Laugh! Free Comedy Writing Workshop!

January 16, 2012

What: Make ’em Laugh!  Write Funny: Learn comedy techniques from two published authors

Who: Grades 6 – 8                             

When: January 21, 2012  9 a.m. – Noon

Cost: FREE!

Where: Walnut Creek Public Library, 1644 N. Broadway, Walnut Creek, CA  94596 

977-3340

What makes readers laugh?  How can YOU create humor in your writing?  Develop quirky, funny characters through games, writing tips, techniques and exercises so you’ll produce a humorous plot, action and dialogue in a terrific page-turning story.

Two professional children’s authors who love writing share their best secrets on writing! You’ll get a chance to ask questions about the publishing world, write, play some games, meet other writers, and “talk books.”

 Led by children’s authors Sarah Wilson and Elizabeth Koehler-Pentacoff.  

Visit them at www.sarahwilsonbooks.com  and www.lizbooks.com

 Bring pen and paper and get ready to WRITE!

Register for the Walnut CreekJan. 21 workshop here: http://tinyurl.com/7humdhm

*** Special Note***  Good idea to bring a notebook or clipboard too, as we may only have chairs and not desks in this room.

Turn Your Expertise into a Successful Book

December 17, 2011

                                 Sunday, Jan 22           2 – 4 p.m.                  

                                         FREE!

At the Lafayette Library and Learning Center

 Three successful non-fiction authors will tell you how they turned their specialized knowledge into successful books – and careers.  Find out from these three pros:

 

  • ·        How to develop a strong non-fiction book proposal
  • ·        Tips on the best ways to share your knowledge
  • ·        Go beyond the book by building your speaking and online platform

 

All the participating authors are members of the California Writers Club which is co-hosting this presentation.

 

Nannette Rundle Carroll is the author of The Communication Problem Solver.  She’s been featured in Investors Business Daily’s “10 Secrets to Success” leadership column and has appeared on radio shows and podcasts as a communication expert and trains professionals in communication and management.

Visit: www.communicate2go.com

 

Patricia Evans is the author of five books on dealing with verbal abuse and overly controlling people.  As a specialist in interpersonal communication, she has spoken about managing verbal abuse on more than two hundred radio shows, and 20 national television programs, including the Oprah.  She is also a consultant, speaker and trainer. 

Visit: http://www.verbalabuse.com.

Catherine Accardi is the author of three books in Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America series, Walnut Creek, San Francisco’s North Beach and Telegraph Hill, and San Francisco Landmarks. Catherine turned her interest and knowledge of local history into award winning books.  Arcadia Publishing has been awarded the prestigious William C. Ralston Award by the San Francisco Historical Society for these popular local history volumes.     

A Writer’s Place is a program of the Friends of the Lafayette Library

http://www.  AWritersPlace .com

Lafayette Library & Learning Center  3941 Mount Diablo Blvd  Lafayette CA  94549 Q  925/ 385- 3380

Author Suspenseful Imagery and Character Depth

December 15, 2011

It is rare to read a suspenseful novel where words and sentences hold imagery, mystery and character depth.   But Ron Hansen creates this power.  When I read Atticus, I knew I had read a literary master.  After loaning this book out, and never receiving it back, I realized someone else felt the same way!  (Yes, I got another copy.  Some books are meant to be owned.)

Contra Costa County is very fortunate to have the Lafayette Library host Sweet Thursdays, and even more fortunate to have Ron Hansen speaking on Thursday, January 5, 2012, at  7:30 p.m.

Author of
A Wild Surge of Guilty Passion,
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford,
Mariette in Ecstasy
and
Atticus
 
 
The Friends of the Lafayette Library welcome Ron Hansen, the critically acclaimed author of over ten books and the Gerard Manley Hopkins Professor at Santa Clara University.
 
Hansen will discuss his work, his writing process and the themes that pervade his writing–faith, redemption, and love. From his latest novel, A Wild Surge of Guilty Passion, a fictional take on a true-crime story about a woman who convinces her lover to get rid of her husband, to Mariette in Ecstasy, a study of faith  and the unexplainable, Hansen’s books always take on surprising new subjects but thematically, they stay close to the human condition. 
 
Born in Nebraska, Hansen earned an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and held a Wallace Stegner Creative Writing Fellowship at Stanford University. 
He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, as well as a nomination for the National Book Award. 

 SWEET THURSDAYS
is a program run by The Friends of the Lafayette Library.

The RON HANSEN event will be held at the Lafayette Library.

Lafayette Library
3491 Mt. Diablo Blvd, Lafayette, CA 94549
925-385-2280

So You Want To Write a Book

December 10, 2011

So You Want to Write a Book

Four local authors discuss their writing journeys and offer tips for aspiring writers

 Please join us at the Moraga Library as we present a panel of block-buster local authors who will discuss their writing. A Q&A session follows as time permits.  Joining us will be:

 Barbara Bentley (A Dance with the Devil: A True Story of Marriage to a Psychopath).  When life threw her an unexpected curve, Barbara took the experience and turned it into a book to help others understand the crazymaking world of the psychopath.  Her story has been featured on Dateline NBC.

 Jon Cory (A Plague of Scoundrels). Retirement enabled Jon to return to creative writing after a career in business. His debut novel received the 2009 Independent Publishers’ Silver Medal award for popular fiction. 

 Alfred J. Garrotto (The Saint of Florenville: A Love Story)   A native of Santa Monica, CA, Al now lives in Contra Costa County. In addition to his writing career, he serves as a lay minister specializing in adult faith formation in a local Roman Catholic parish.

 Judith Marshall (Husbands May Come and Go but Friends are Forever). The novel won the Jack London Prize awarded by the California Writers Club and has been optioned for the big screen

 If you have any interest in writing and being published this is a “must-attend” event. 

Saturday, January 7, 2012  2:00pm 

Moraga Library 1500 St. Mary’s Road, Moraga, CA 94556  (925) 376-6852