Ideas, like fireflies, swirl around my head. Which one should I catch? My eyes lose focus. Perhaps it’s best to capture them all and store them in a glass jar.
Sometimes writing is like that and I end up with a drawer full of Pulitzer wannabees. Like the flies in the jar that eventually die without air, so do all of my captive ideas. When I examine them again there is no spark. The light is gone.
I find that I’m a better writer when I am more purposeful. Instead of chasing elusive fireflies, no matter how bright, my focus becomes like a coloring book page of ‘Connect the Dots.’ You know, use a line to connect the numbers and you create a picture; what a writer might call a concept or idea.
There is so much disconnected information that zooms past us or bombards us, but it is the dots inside of us that represent the deep emotions and memorable events that have changed our lives. I discovered that writing is also a way of giving, of sharing a part of me with others.
So when I look for inspiration, I no longer reach for the fireflies. I search within myself for one of the dots that represent friendships I’ve made, issues I’ve championed, as well as events that trigger fear, anger, sorrow, or joy. Then that dot, eager to touch the hearts of others, sparks to life out of me and illuminates a page or two creating a great story.
Manager, Educator, and former Social Studies High School teacher, Veronica credits her love of history to the potpourri of cultures that make up her own life and to her upbringing in diverse Brooklyn, New York. Her genres of choice are Historical Fiction where she always makes new discoveries and Children’s Picture Books because there are so many wonderful worlds yet to be imagined and visited. She currently resides in Macungie, PA.
I am a full blooded, totally committed Logophile. It’s something I practice everyday and everywhere. In fact, I am so addicted to Logophilia that I carry a small floral notebook in my purse at all times to support my addiction.
Not familiar with the term? Neither was I. However, I was searching for the right word that would clearly define something that I do daily. The term Logophile comes from two Greek words – Logos which means words or speech and Philos which means dear or friendly. In short, a Logophile is someone who likes words very much. And I do.
However, my addiction to words centers more around the gathering of names. I am a dedicated name collector; not just normal names, but rather the unusual, ear catching ones. Whether I am in the airport, the hospital, the grocery store or my doctor’s office I am always listening for and recording unique names. I’ve even been known to collect a name or two off the billboards that overhang the Las Vegas Strip. As a writer, I use these names when I am searching for the perfect moniker for one of my characters.
For instance, Dr. Barleycorn is the nickname of my character, Matt Maxwell, who is a horticulturist in my book, Morning Magic. He’s an expert in growing things and since barley and corn are grown in the fields I decided to retrieve this name from my BookO’Names. I actually heard the real Dr. Barleycorn being paged at my local hospital years ago and I wrote his name down. Of course, I had numerous other options like Dr. Peachbottom, Dr. Driven and Dr. Roebust. But none of them seemed to fit Matt just right. I can’t wait to use the name Penelope Pendergast in my next book. I instantly fell in love with that name when I heard it in the airport in Europe. Penelope, if you’re out there – I love your name!
In my latest book, Sea Dreams, one of my central characters is named Thor Hudson. I adore the name Thor and was hoping that someday one of my kids would name one of their kids – Thor. We had a rousing discussion one night during which all but one of my children voted down the name. Since I guess I won’t have a grandson named Thor any time soon, I can at least have a favorite character with that name.
I also love to play with names by not spelling them in a traditional or expected way. I don’t do this to confuse, but rather to draw attention to the character themselves. Brady is a rather boring way of spelling a last name but Braidie certainly draws your eye and attention and that’s what I wanted my character to do.
My quest to gather names continues. As I was walking by the beach last week I heard a guy call out to his friend whose name was Templeton. Hmm, I like it. Not sure when I will use it, but it now holds a place on page 12 of my notebook. Can’t wait to dream up a character who will step up and own that handle!
The one thing I know, after all my years as an elementary school principal, is that there is magic everywhere and in everyone. While I miss those enchanting moments with kids, I have always wanted to let my imagination run wild as I seek out my own magic and write about it. When I retired, I started to write my first books, a series called The Witches of New Moon Beach and inspiration wasn’t hard to find.
I have lived in Redondo Beach all my life, and New Moon might have more than a passing resemblance to my hometown. Every day I walk on the path that runs along the beach, sometimes with my sisters, but most often with my thoughts as I plot my next book.
I am long married and mom to three great grown kids. When I’m not writing or walking on the beach, you’ll find me sewing, reading or traveling and taking pictures.
E.B. White (co-author of Elements of Style) said, “An editor is a person who knows more about writing than writers do but has escaped the terrible desire to write.”
OK, I’m certainly not E. B. White but I am an editor and I’ve worked with writers of every genre for 20 challenging and enriching years. There is nothing more exciting than helping a writer move through the process of writing. With no skin in the game I can be objective about where a story has taken a wrong turn, hear a particular turn of phrase or a plot point that doesn’t ring true, see inconsistencies in characterization — and spot the typos and those pesky homophones that get overlooked to the great peril of publication. I ask the hard questions, I offer possible solutions. It’s a grand give and take.
You’re a writer. Your head is filled with bits of story: the perfect setting — a women watches in her rear view mirror as the wedding cake dumped on the highway recedes in the distance. A character — Mistress Renfrew is overly tall and awkward and harbors a secret passion for Lord Dumfrey’s collection of assassin’s knives. Odd events — the deadly rivalry for Miss Abundance at the Apple Valley fairground, a lake in summer, tidbits of history, the perfect love triangle ripe for explosion. But where to start? How to corral all those creative bits into a cohesive whole?
One method: start with a simple premise.
Can you express the premise of your book succinctly? If you can write the essence of your story in as few as fifteen words you are on the road to writing a novel. What happens next? The plot will come from the premise.
It’s the way you dress up that simple premise, populate it and move it forward in narrative form that makes the story emerge. Starting from a succinct premise gives you a foundation on which to build a great story. Whether it’s the characters that drive the action or action that drives the characters, the premise provides the blueprint to keep the work moving forward.
The premise should be carved in stone, but only as long as it supports the creative effort. Stone can be reshaped; Michelangelo did it all the time and look at those results.
Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned writer I look forward to sharing On Writing again here at A Slice of Orange to explore methods, tools and tricks of writing that can help your story shine.
Make Your Writing Shine Through Self-Editing
with Linda Carroll-Bradd
Class Dates: May 15 – May 26 (two-week class)
Learn how to identify shallow POV and make it deeper.
Learn how to change your writing from Telling to Showing.
Want to perk up the pace of your prose?
Need help pinpointing weak spots in your writing style?
This workshop will provide tips to help you tighten your sentence and paragraph structure to make your writing shine! Through the use of checklists, topical lectures and structured writing/revision exercises for each lesson, I supply tangible examples of what to look for and how to fix it. You’ll get interactive assistance from freelance editor and award-winning author, Linda Carroll-Bradd.
About the Instructor:
The years Linda Carroll-Bradd spent working in secretarial positions paid off when she ventured into writing fiction. Along her writer journey, she put her skills with spelling, grammar, and punctuation to use and edited other authors’ manuscripts—first with just friends and then friends of friends. In 2012, she formalized the process and Lustre Editing was created. Linda has a clientele that includes USA Today and NY Times bestselling authors and has worked on all subgenres of romance, plus narrative nonfiction, memoir, middle grade fiction, and police procedural novels.
Married with four adult children, she now lives in the southern California mountains with two beloved dogs. In addition to working as a freelance editor, she is the author of more than 50 contemporary and historical stories that range from heartwarming to erotic (written under pen name Layla Chase).
Class fees: $20.00 for OCC members & $30.00 for non-members.
Link to join the class: http://occrwa.org/classes/may-online-class/
If you have questions, send a query to OCCRWAOnlineClass@yahoo.com.
Here’s a list of the rest of the 2017 schedule of classes:
June 12 – July 7: Horse Sense with Shannon Donnelley
August 14 – Sept. 8: Monster Revisions with Suzanne Johnson
Oct. 16 – Nov. 10: Time Management Secrets for Authors with Stacy Juba
Nov. 13 – Dec. 8 – The Feminine Journey with Mary O’Gara