Nailed It!

My most recent, “nailed-it” moment was when I typed The End on my first fiction novel—book one in a suspense/thriller series. After fist-punching the air, I burst into happy tears.

Nail it!

I wasn’t alone in my writing effort. At last year’s UW-Madison’s Writers’ Institute, I was honored to promote the Pathway to Publication program and signed up for it myself. My coach was Christine DeSmet. She figuratively held my hand through the new-to-me fiction territory, taking the fear out of it and making it a distinct pleasure.

Now I’m working on book two in the series.

What’s your most recent “nailed it” moment?

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© TuesdaysWithLaurie.com

Walk on the Wild Side

I’m excited to share that I’ve signed my third publishing contract. In the photo below I’m mailing it back to the publisher. This book is slated to hit the shelves in August 2020. I’m over the moon with excitement—Woohoo!

My first two books are nonfiction.

For my third book, I’m taking a walk on the wild side and writing a suspense novel that takes place in the Pacific Northwest. No spoilers here, that’s all I’m sharing right now. Stay tuned for carrot-dangling details.

This book wouldn’t be possible without the Pathway to Publication program at the Writers’ Institute and my writing mentor, Christine DeSmet. We’ve worked together before, and it’s a privilege to work with her again.

The next Writers’ Institute is April 4-7. I’ve attended as a student and as a teacher—both. I can tell you experientially that it’s one of the best writing conferences in the country!

A few months before publication, I’ll be looking for mystery-suspense-thriller authors to read my third book for potential author endorsement blurbs. If you fall into that category and are interested, please let me know via email by using the contact page.

Have you ever written or considered writing a book?

© TuesdaysWithLaurie.com

 

WIP Tag!

“You’re it!” Marian Beaman said as she tagged me in the 2014 Work in Progress (WIP) Blog Tour, offering authors the chance to share a small, but tasty morsel of their Works in Progress. “It’s really simple,” she continued, “there’s just three rules:”

1. Link back to the post of the person who tagged you (in my case, Marian Beaman).

2. Write a blurb about — and type the first sentence of — your next book’s first three chapters.

3. Tag four other writers to do the same.

Blurb
Typically, my writing is in the non-fiction arena, but one of the books I’m currently working on is Creative Quill, a work of fiction in the mystery/thriller genre. Intended as a series, the setting is a writer’s retreat where each month four different authors arrive and stay in individual rustic cabins to work on their manuscripts. In the first book, one of the guests is a psychopath posing as an author. Why? You’ll just have to wait and see…

Chapter 1:
Like a brilliant, multi-faceted gem nestled snugly on the ragged hemline of the northern Pacific coastline, Creative Quill—a wooded retreat for writers—sits zen-like overlooking Bellingham Bay in Fairhaven, Washington, holding space to unleash possibility.

Chapter 2:
Arriving at the baggage claim with time to spare, McPherson’s piercing green eyes drank in the details of his surroundings, a habit he’d picked up on the force; a habit that had kept him alive.

Chapter 3:
Having parked in the area reserved for handicap pickup, Mick didn’t have to jockey for position as he deftly pulled curbside, both side panels of the van silently slid open for the waiting guests, one of whom was in a wheelchair.

“Life is about showing up, so is writing. That’s why I sit at my desk every day and dance my fingers across the keyboard.” — Laurie Buchanan

Now it’s my turn to tag four writers for the 2014 WIP Tour. Please check their websites, you’ll be glad you did!

Julia Munroe Martin lives in southern coastal Maine and loves to get hands-on with a camera. When she’s not out taking drop-dead gorgeous photographs, you’ll find her at her dining room table, where she’s happiest and most comfortable with her family — including black Lab Abby — or when writing or researching her next story.

Christine DeSmet (my writing mentor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison) writes mouthwatering mysteries featuring fudge or fowl (two different series). She mixes in fun, little-known facts, recipes about fudge, a bit about Belgians and the culture of Wisconsin and the Door County Peninsula.

Melissa Crytzer Fry steps outside her front door smack-dab into southern Arizona’s breathtaking Sonoran Desert, often with camera in hand. A full-time freelance writer and novelist, she was a 2014 semi-finalist in the William Faulkner William Wisdom Writing Competition for her novel, The Quickness of Life.

Dorothy Sander orchestrates Aging Abundantly where she brings the wisdom of women together in one place, offering insight, support and a helping hand to people wherever they are in their journey. Her focus is on transformation and metamorphosis at midlife and beyond. Her most recent work is, Finding Hope: Inspiration for the Midlife Journey.

And though none of these authors are under any obligation to play tag, I sure hope they will because it’ll be fun to sneak a taste of what they’re cookin’ up next!

Book or otherwise, what’s your current Work in Progress?

© Laurie Buchanan

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Tickling Words

When I wear my writing hat I play with words. Saying them out loud or seeing them on a page often conjures something different from the intended meaning—at least in my mind:

  • Monkey—mon key—key to a Jamaican man’s heart
  • Herring—her ring—oftentimes worn to ward off would-be suitors, as in “red herring”
  • Portion—poor shun—an ineffectual attempt to to ignore someone
  • Keyboard—key bored—a writer who’s not “in the zone”
  • Solar powered—soular powered—a person who’s plugged into Source Energy
  • Petulant—pet you lent—short-term loan of your companion animal

Communication is the currency of life so it’s important to get it right (or write, as the case may be). And in this fast-paced world where it’s hard to gain and retain people’s attention, concision is vital.

Just in case you never noticed…

DAMMIT I’M MAD  is  DAMMIT I’M MAD  spelled backward! (I saw you check to confirm).

Are you an attentive communicator?

It takes a creative mind and a steady-handed plume to wordsmith a book. Please join me in pre-ordering your September-release copy of FIRST-DEGREE FUDGE: A FUDGE SHOP MYSTERY authored by my friend and mentor, Christine DeSmet.

© TuesdaysWithLaurie.com

Write Tight – From Flabby to Trim

Last week I promised to share some of the material I covered at the Writers’ Institute. “Tight writing” was one of the subjects I addressed when Christine DeSmet and I presented “Why Critiquing is Necessary.”

Before critiquing my manuscript was 110,000 words
After critiquing my manuscript was 73,000 words

Trim the Fat
If it can be said with fewer words, eliminate the unnecessary and make every word count.

“That,” “just,” and “very” can almost always be cut from your work eliminated.

Examples:
Flabby: She smiled slightly at the photographer.
Trim: She grinned at the photographer.

Flabby: With a pagoda-style roof, it had a distinctly asian look to it.
Trim: With a pagoda-style roof, it had a distinctly asian appearance.

Flabby: She was a very pretty woman.
Trim: She was beautiful.

Show, Don’t Tell
In the previous example, I broke the first rule of writing—show don’t tell. “She was beautiful” is classic telling. Here’s how to show she was beautiful:

“Framed with a mass of auburn curls, her oval face was complimented by mesmerizing bottle-green eyes and red lips that curved into a captivating smile.”

And while this sentence is longer than “She was beautiful,” clarity trumps brevity every time.

Eliminate Redundancy
Eliminate words that aren’t needed unnecessary words:

Her doctor asked her the question again, “Where does it hurt?”

The words “ask” and “question” are redundant. Can you ask anything other than a question? Here’s how it looks when redundancy is removed:

Her doctor repeated the question, “Where does it hurt?”

Huge skyscraper”—it has to be pretty darn big to scrape the sky.

Advance planning”—all planning is done in advance.

Avoid Repetition
Avoid using the same words repeatedly. Substitute another word with the same meaning:

In the white winters you can sled or cross-country ski to Lake Tahoe’s many resorts. In the hot, bright summers there’s hiking through giant forests and climbing the Sierra Buttes. In the autumn the deciduous trees glow with vivid fall color, and in the spring, masses of wildflowers create a psychedelic dreamscape.”

Here’s the same paragraph, replacing the last three instances of “in the.”

“In the white winters you can sled or cross-country ski to Lake Tahoe’s many resorts. During the hot, bright summers there’s hiking through giant forests and climbing the Sierra Buttes. Come autumn the deciduous trees glow with vivid fall color, and when spring arrives, masses of wildflowers create a psychedelic dreamscape.”

Do you write tight from the get-go, or do you have to go back and trim the fat?

Listen with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
— Laurie Buchanan

Please visit HolEssence and our Facebook page

© 2012 Laurie Buchanan– All Rights Reserved

Write to the Top!

Packed with agent pitches, workshops, speakers, critique feedback, panels, networking opportunities, and an abundance of add-ons, the sold out 23rd annual Writers’ Institute at UW-Madison was educational, inspirational, and just plain fun!

Between concurrent sessions and speaking myself, I had windows of opportunity to attend a few sessions. Here are two nuggets of gold from each session I attended:

The Writer’s LifeJohn Vorhaus
“Practice makes perfect progress.”
“As a writer, our job is to close the gap between where the work is, and where it needs to be.”

Agent Panel – John Bolger, Joelle Delbourgo, Linda Konner, Laurie McClean, Andy Ross, and Gordon Warnock
“Literary agents manage people’s expectations—you have to be realistic.”

Ask a literary agent who has expressed interest in you:
Who are your favorite clients?
What are the last three books you sold?
What impressed you about my writing?
How invested are you going to be in my literary growth?

The Play is the ThingBrendan Sullivan
We respond to ideas in two ways:
“Yes, but” is negative and down pulling
“Yes, and” is positive and uplifting

“The most creative people on the planet are children between the ages of 3-7. They ask ‘Why?’ all the time. Get back to asking why.”

Anatomy of a Book TrailerSusan Reetz
Similar to a movie preview, a book trailer is a 30-second to 3-minute video teaser for a book. It’s designed to generate buzz and interest. It can also be used to promote your work to agents and publishers.

A book trailer is a marketing tool you promote on your website, YouTube, Vimeo, Goodreads, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn—everywhere!

The Writer’s Magical Publicity Tour Brian Christian and Jim Pappandrea
Once you’re book is published—Congratulations!—you’re now on the marketing team of your publisher.

“My antidote to nerves is preparation. Know your topic.” – Jim Pappandrea
“Think about nerves as energy, harness it and put it to good use.” – Brian Christian

Secrets of Famous Prolific WritersAngela Voras-Hills
“You will never find the time to write. You have to make the time to write.”
“A schedule helps you [and your friends and family] take your writing seriously.”

Creative Bypasses & Detours for Better DrivingBrendan Sullivan
“Inspiration is a matter of observation.”
“There’s more than one right answer, but there’s only one best answer. To find it you have to look at them all.

Publishing in the Post-Paper WorldJohn Vorhaus
“The publishing world as we’ve known it is changing. We can no longer count on publishers to distribute, market, and promote our work. These responsibilities now fall squarely in the writer’s lap.”

“We are digital immigrants. Our children are digital natives.”

Whether you’re an aspiring or seasoned writer, I hope you’ll consider attending next year’s Writers’ Institute at UW-Madison. You can join their mailing list here.

Not just for writers—when was the last time you showed your creative work to someone else?

Listen with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
— Laurie Buchanan

Please visit HolEssence and our Facebook page

© 2012 Laurie Buchanan– All Rights Reserved

Painting a Word Picture

Laurie Scheer has made the details of this year’s Writers’ Institute available on the UW-Madison website. Needless to say, as an instructor I’m beyond excited!

The first person who introduced me to the concept of “show, don’t tell” was Laurel Yourke. The person who hammered the idea home was Christine DeSmet. You can learn more about all three of these creative and engaging women on the “Instructor” page.

Those of you who know me well are aware that Len and I haven’t had a television for almost 32 years. We’re avid readers. As such, I’m always asking friends and clients about books. My friend Sandi introduced me to the work of Dorothea Benton Frank. Now there’s an author who can paint a word picture: 

“To her right, the creek was completely placid and the shrimp boats were reflected in the water in perfect mirror images. Great beauty did not always require great sums of money, she thought. Sometimes something as easy and undemanding as an old shrimp boat, moored to an ancient piling battered from salt and time, could stop your heart in the same way as might a great work of art.”

Ms. Frank’s description immediately called to mind one of our favorite locations in Nova Scotia. But even if I didn’t have that memory to fall back on, her words painted a vivid picture on the canvas in my mind.

Who is your favorite word painter?

Listen with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
— Laurie Buchanan

www.HolEssence.com and our Facebook page

© 2012 Laurie Buchanan – All Rights Reserved

Write On! (part 1)

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After a nice lazy drive through farmland dotted with barns and silos, we arrived in Madison, Wisconsin last Thursday afternoon. Len helped me settled into my room at the Lowell Center (in the 1960’s it was a private women’s dormitory), and made sure that I could log into the Internet with their wireless service—perfect!

Once situated, we walked State Street, window shopping and looking for lunch. I’m fairly confident that every ethnicity of food on the globe is represented in the hustle-and-bustle of this college-town street. We strolled past the capitol building and had a delicious lunch at The Great Dane Pub & Brewing Company.

After our feast, we waddled back to check out the Pyle Center where the annual Writers’ Institute is held. As Len headed back to Crystal Lake, I geared up for the first event: “Pitching Practice” at 5:30pm. Pitching is a one-on-one, 8-minute opportunity with a literary agent to sell them on your manuscript.

Between this post and the next (on Thursday), you’ll read some of the practical things I learned at the 22nd Annual Writers’ Institute at UW-Madison. Please note, this is just from the presenters that I saw—there were many more:

“Be yourself. Just tell your story.”
Laurie Scheer, is the Writers’ Institute director. She’s also the author of Creative Careers in Hollywood. Her DVD, How to Pitch and Sell Your Screenplay, is a perennial bestseller.

“People pay money to read about trouble and how to get out of it.”
Christine DeSmet teaches fiction and screenwriting for UW-Madison Continuing Studies. She’s an award-winning novelist, short story writer, and screenwriter who has optioned to New Line Cinema and others. She’s also written stage plays. At UW-Madison Continuing Studies, Christine also mentors and critiques writers throughout the year—myself included—helping them polish their material for agents and publication.

“Voice is the manner in which you choose to tell your story. It has a particular cadence and tone. Like a thumbprint, most of us have a unique signature to our own voice. It’s what makes you unique as a writer.”
Josie Brown is the author of four fiction and one non-fiction book. Her next novel will be released in September of this year.

Josie shared, the five elements of “voice” are:
Tone – the tone you set with characters, dialog, and how you describe a scene
Phrasing – wordy vs. spare, and choosing the “right” words
Dialogue – how you put words in your character’s mouths
Where you START your scene remember, “I am camera.” Paint images of what the camera sees, don’t write explanations.
Point of View – Who is seeing, feeling, talking? The main character or supporting character?

“If you’re going to write, don’t be afraid to upset your readers (even your mother).”

“Do the Dreaded thing first! Just get it over with and move on.”
Kelly James-Enger has authored, co-authored, and ghostwritten twelve books. As a freelance journalist, she’s published more than 700 articles in over fifty national magazines.

“Whether you Indie publish (independent, self-publish), or legacy publish (traditional publishing) a published book is just the beginning. Now the real work begins.”
Judy Molland is an award-winning teacher and writer. She’s the contributing education editor for Dominion Parenting Media—the largest syndicate of parenting magazines in the U.S.

Paul S. Levine is an attorney and a literary agent. In the event I get his statements wrong, I’m not going to print his wonderful advice here. Suffice it to say that he provided a tremendous amount of terrific information on advances, royalties, and the actual contract (the exact wording of what should and should not be in it). He also talked about subsidiary rights—current and future—and film, audio, and foreign rights.

By this time my hand was aching from taking so many notes. My handwriting looks like a drunk chicken wrote it, but as you can see in the last photograph of the slideshow, it’s a good idea to hire a lawyer—one who knows publishing—because “Lawyers get paid to anticipate the best and worst that can happen now and in perpetuity—forever!”

I’ll end this post with one of my favorite quotes from Natalie Goldberg’s bestselling book, Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within:

“Don’t identify too strongly with your work. Stay fluid behind those black-and-white words. They are not you. They were a great moment going through you. A moment you were awake enough to write down and capture.”

Listen with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
               – Laurie Buchanan

www.HolEssence.com

© 2011 Laurie Buchanan – All Rights Reserved