Wednesday Woo: Are You A Hack?

Seth Godin’s blog post this morning struck a nerve for me (it’s only four lines–go read it)

The critic as an amateur hack

Not only is it super easy for us to think of ourselves as critics worth listening to, but writers worth reading.

Let’s never mind the critics since they are so unreliable. How do we determine whether our efforts deserve the reader’s time and money? Or even our own time and resources?

Do you care about the quality of your work? By whose standards do you measure it?

Do you even question the works value? Or is producing it the payback? What makes a work so self-serving merit readers attention?

If you haven’t considered whether the work you are producing is worthy of what you are asking for it (a reader’s time and money) then you are a hack.

But, that’s just my opinion, take it for it’s worth.

EVENT: Newburyport Literary Festival 2015

An amazing local event the Newburyport Literary Festival 2015 kicks-off Friday, April 24th with opening ceremony conversation between Michael Blanding, bestselling author of The Map Thief, and Boston-based investigative journalist Dyke Hendrickson, followed by dinner with the authors. While the dinner cost 50.00, the event is free. Crazy I know, but what an accomplishment by the festival organizers!

Saturday, April 25th begins with an informal breakfast and conversation with poets at 8:30 am, and closes at 7 pm, this year honoring Jean Doyle, teacher, historian, and author. What comes between those two is no less than 50 scheduled events.

The plethora of writers across genre, and forms is quite astounding. See the full schedule here. I don’t know how I’m going to chose from the many talented, interesting and compelling authors.

If you’ve never been to this event, here’s what happens. First marvel at the schedule. Choose your favorites though have back up choices as some events fill quickly and occasionally there has been a cancellation. Set out for the venue which is, for most people, an easy stroll around the town. They are held in bookstores, the arts center, many churches, the library, and The Firehouse Center. It is busy but pleasantly so. Even a rainy day doesn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the crowd. Go sit, listen, ask questions, engage with your seat mates. Talk to everybody and anybody they are all there for the same reason you are-their love of literature, reading, writing and authors.

One of my favorite events and always impressive is Annual Youth Poetry Slam happening at 2:30 at the Greek Orthodox Church. If you’re looking for me, you can catch-up with me there.

I hope everyone can attend, you needn’t be there for the whole day. There’s no check-ins, or tickets (except the dinner) no pressure, it’s just an enjoyable day spent immersed in the writer’s world.

Afterwards: Did you love it? Please consider a donation to support this exceptionally well run and captivating event.

Wednesday Woo: Editing

Looking to start the editing process? I am too. I’ve started with Shawn Coyne’s site The Story Grid and am still working my way through it.

I’ve linked to this before but haven’t elaborated on its content. And because I think your time is precious and you should be writing or reading what is most relevant to you I’m only going to briefly say this…I find this site to be the clearest and most effective resource for clarifying your plot, getting down to the very basics of what your story is, and needs to be. Go.

Wednesday Woo: Same Bat-Time, Same Bat-Channel

Woot! Wednesday Woo is back for 2015!

I considered changing the title and focusing on something other than linking to information I find helpful or interesting, but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
A reminder of the topics cover in 2014: Research, Criticism, Advice From Writers, Process, Resistance, Structure, Book Covers, Professionals, Procrastination, The End?, Beta Readers, Success, Business of Writing, More Business of Being a Writer, Plotting, Writing Communities, Writing Communities-Online, Music to Write By. I’ll start this year off with a few questions.What can I do to help you? Is there a topic you’d like to suggest for the Wednesday Woo? Is there a topic I already covered that you’d like to see expanded on?I personally would like to find out more about the editing process, so look for that post soon.

Happy New Year! 2015 Scheduled Meetings and Write-Ins

Hello WriNoShores!

I hope the new year finds you well and writing. We’ll be having our usual Plum Island Coffee Roaster meetings 1pm-5pm on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of every month. I will hold Write-Ins at my house 6pm-9pm (generally) on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays (please note: a few days have been adjusted to avoid running meetings too close together). Here is the schedule as of today.
PICR: 4th and 18th
Write-In: 13th and 27th
PICR: 1st and 15th
Write-In: 10th and 24th
PICR: 1st and 15th
Write-In: 10th and 24th
PICR: 5th and 19th
Write-In: 14th and 28th
PICR: 3rd and 17th
Write-In: 12th and 26th
PICR: 7th and 21st
Write-In: 16th and 30th
PICR: 5th and 19th
Write-In: 14th and 28th
PICR: 2nd and 16th
Write-In: 11th and 25th
PICR: 13th
Write-In: 15th and 29th
Write-In: 13th and 27th
NaNo Kick-Off Party: 25th
Full Steam Ahead!
See Calendar on NaNoWriMo Website
for Times and Dates of Write-Ins and Special Events
TGIO Party: Dec 5th

If you have any questions you can email Sara through this website, or catch me on our Facebook page.

This schedule can also be found on our Facebook page and NaNoWriMo Calendar.

Wednesday Woo: NaNoWriMo with the WriNoShores

Writers of the North Shore developed from the idle minds of Sara and I. We’d lost our ML to a cross country move and I wisely talked Sara into applying for the position. It didn’t take much persuading (read our ABOUT page to get her side of the story). We were already familiar with many of whom we now consider the “regulars” and have had a very positive experience with all who have crossed our paths on the NaNoWriMo journey.

Though Sara sometimes conveys to us the horror stories the other NaNoWriMo MLs experience, we have no such tales to tell. Kindness, consideration, and support are what you’ll find here with us. The desire to keep that going all year round prompted us to keep meeting twice-a-month at Plum Island Coffee Roasters for an informal social write-in, and twice-a-month for a more stringent write-in at my house.

This year-round group are who the WriNoShores are. A dedicated, smart, funny group of women, and men who love to read, write, and talk about writing, and occasionally indulge in sweets. We encourage one another, empathize, educated, and considerately, bring each other sweets.

Our genres, styles, voices, and skills are as varied as our confections, and all are welcome. We are a community bound together through the shared struggles, and triumphs of writing. We understand each other. We never underestimate the importance sweets have to the well-being of a writer and the creative process.

Writing can be a lonely endeavor, having this local group has been a reassuring reminder that we are not alone. Some where nearby are our fellow writers who are looking out their own windows wishing they had a dark-chocolate butter cream from Sanborn’s same as us.

NaNoWriMo may have bought us together, but kinship, caffeine and sugary substances sustains our connection the rest of the year.

Seriously, if you are participating in NaNoWriMo come to one of the write-ins. They are super productive, surprisingly so as many will attest-even the doubtful have been converted. We run our write-ins with a mixture of military precision and joviality.

A new event for the year 2014 was our version of NaNoWriMo’s “Night of Writing Dangerously” an all-night writing extravaganza. You can read about it…ah hell, I guess I never wrote about it!

Briefly, we held “A Swashbuckling Evening of Writing” between our usual Saturday 10-4 at Hamilton-Wenham Library write-in and Sunday’s PICR 1-5pm write-in. We ate, wrote, read, laughed, had cocktails, many noshes, sang, danced and took a sunrise walk to the lake in freezing cold weather. It was a blast. And again, I stress, it was productive.

We truly believe none of these events serve you if you are not getting your writing done. I think next year we will have a leader board to calculate how many words we wrote collectively and individually. Anyway, it was a lot of fun even if most of us didn’t make it to PICR the next morning but opted to stay comfy and cozy at my house writing.

That’s who we are, and what it’s like to write with us during NaNoWriMo. It’s only 268 days from today (01.19.2015).

Wednesday Woo: NaNoWriMo

We are well underway here on day four of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and it has been wonderful catching up with all our old friends and meeting new ones.

Not writing much here, just wanted to let you know how the first few days played out.

Day One found us at our favorite write-in at The Hamilton-Wenham Library hosted by Sarah Lauderdale the reference librarian and ten year NaNo champ. There were sixteen of us who braved the wind and rain to get this thing rolling.

Day Two bought snow (!) but that didn’t keep at least nine of us from shivering together at Plum Island Coffee Roaster. (Darn it Bruce, turn on the fireplace-it was snowing for crying out loud!).

Day Three, I hosted at N.Andover with librarian Bridget Rawding (who by the way got word that her Master Thesis was accepted right before we got there! Awesome, congrats).

Day Four the schedule was wrong for the Newburyport Library write-in, but that was fine we were able to get the room when we got there. We had quite a few newbies, they seemed to enjoy the process of sprinting.

End of day four, I hit 15k. I still don’t know what I’m writing. Is that bad?

I leave you with just a few links, I don’t want to distract you from your writing.

The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know

For sleep or to help you relax while you write

Brain Food for Writers




Wednesday Woo: Get Writing

I have a revolving cadre of bloggers I keep up with on writing, marketing and psychology. This morning Oliver Emberton wrote a post titled, If You Want To Follow Your dreams, You Have To Say No To All the Alternatives and it made a big impression on me.

NaNoWriMo is only 3 days away and I still don’t have a story. I was thinking last night- I’ve never suffered writer’s block just indecision and lo and behold there is Oliver talking about indecision. And since writers block has been a topic at our prep write-ins too, it ties in quite nicely with my Wednesday Woo topic: How to Get Started Writing.

The last month leading up to NaNoWriMo, I’ve written plenty of advice, posted dozens of links and thought of little else but how to help someone write their novel. But, I’ve personally been stuck in a rut of indecision.

At its most basic writing is all about making decisions. You decide who, when, where, why and how–about everything. What gets described, what gets alluded to, who gets shot, who lives, why the killer did it, what he wore, what he had for breakfast and where he ate it. That is a lot of decisions. No wonder we get intimidated.

First and foremost, is showing up to do the work, but once you’re there the secret to writing is…deciding.

Don’t waste time searching through Oliver’s site, that goes against what you need to be doing right now, but I will direct you to one other post, How ToDebug Your Brain. The gist of which is pick one thing to be the right thing you should be doing and say no to everything else. November, we know means balls to the walls writing and saying no to everything else.

RECAP: show-up, decide, say no to everything else.

If you’re still having trouble deciding, answer these questions:

Whose story do you want to tell? Do they have a worthy goal? Are there enough obstacles or conflict in their way? Do you know the ending? You’ll be able to make the decisions needed to write if you know who your MC is, where they are going (the end), and why.


NaNoWriMo: Prep Write-In

Like most writers I collect links to worksheets and advice about plotting, novel writing, character development and the like. Some of them I’ve utilized in previous post on here and on my own blog, but I thought since I was compiling a list specifically to bring to our NaNoWriMo Prep Write-In, I’d post it here too.

Links to Worksheets Presented at Barnes and Noble 10.18.2014 and PICR 10.18.2014

Novel Writing Plot and Project Developmental Worksheet and Guide
Traditional Fiction Writing Plot Development Storyboard
Novel Storyboard Worksheet
Chapter Storyboard Worksheet

22 Rules for Storytelling compiled by Emma Coats

The 36 Dramatic Situations is a descriptive list which was created by Georges Polti


Websites Recommeneded

Reviews of Writing Software
I’m biased, I use Storymill. I also own Contour and Montage.

How-To, Book Recommendations, Lists and Advice—On Writing
(caution-prolific profanity-it has a life of its own)

Random Generators
(wow, that sound pornographic but it’s just people and place name generators)
Story and Idea Generators

Dictionaries/Thesaurus/Word Generators

This is the website I mentioned at today’s meeting about keeping a diary/journal.

About showing up and writing


NaNoWriMo: Thoughts on Novel Writing

With only three weeks to go until the 1st of November and official start of NaNoWriMo I’m seeking inspiration and advice anywhere I can find it. Here are a few sites that offer more to think about than instruction.

On the NaNoWriMo blog you can find this post about How to Write About What You Don’t Know

The Write Life posts The Worst Ways to Begin Your Novel: Advice From Literary Agents

I covered a few basics on my website NaNoWriMo Preparedness

Chuck Wendig’s blog and books are terrific but to be a bit more specific 25 Things You Should Do Before Starting Your Next Novel

Just to be contrary to the plotter and planner I sometimes wish I were, Planning to Outline Your Novel? Don’t!

The process of a few famous writers How to Write a Great Novel