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.
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?
I love teaching at UW-Madison’s Writers’ Institute. This year was my third time, but my first time using a projector. Everything was taken care of in advance: conference rooms, projectors, screens. Nothing was left undone.
Imagine my surprise when I went into my first room, set my laptop on the podium and wondered, How on earth do I get what’s on my screen to “talk” to the projector so it can show the audience?
I ran to Laura Kahl. She’s like a kick-butt, young faerie godmother, and MacGyver combined; she’s the maestro that keeps everything and everyone in harmony!
Way too polite to point out that I was supposed to have brought an adapter, she immediately pointed out one of the Madison Concourse Hotel IT guys. “He’s got a dongle,” she said. My eyebrows shot into my hairline. “He’ll get you set up.”
A dongle is an adapter that connects to another device to provide it with additional functionality.
I approached the handsome young IT guy and said, “Pardon me, do you have a dongle I can borrow?” He answered with a great big smile, “I’d be happy to loan you my dongle.” And we both burst out laughing!
That little piece of equipment is what kept my audience connected to what was happening on my laptop screen. At the end of the conference, I returned the adapter to the technician. The first thing I did when I got back to Boise was to purchase a dongle of my own at the Apple store.
I just attended the ever-phenomenal Writers’ Institute in Madison, Wisconsin. When not hosting a session, I made a point of meeting people. A diverse group, I’m confident that every literary genre was represented at this heavily-attended event.
One of the things that all of the attendees had in common is their interest in writing. Another similarity is their love of writing implements! I saw pens from:
disposable to incredibly expensive
ballpoint to roller ball, gel, and fountain
retractable to cap-top
UW-Madison’s 27th Annual Writers’ Institute
I saw two left-handed pens (not kidding), and one pen that wrote with an antiqued brown (think sepia tone) ink. Amazingly, one author/speaker, Bradley Beaulieu, did his book signing in calligraphy!
My favorite is the Jetstream pen made by uni-ball. Simple, I like its retractable style and the quick-drying ink leaves a smooth writing line. I’d go to the mat for my pen!
The 27th annual Writers’ Institute — click on this LINK for registration and speaker information
April 15-17, 2016
To improve your writing craft.
To pitch a book to a literary agent.
To meet other writers and find your writing community.
To learn publishing tips.
To have your work critiqued.
HOW Any way you can!
One of the best writers conferences in the United States, the Writers’ Institute has something to offer each and every person who’s interested in writing. I’ve attended as a student and as a speaker — it’s wonderful no matter how you slice it!
This year I’m attending as a speaker and I’d love to see you at one the sessions I’m presenting. Click on this LINK for details.
Many Tuesdays With Laurie readers are writers. This week’s question for you is: Why do you write?
Many Tuesdays With Laurie readers are not writers. This week’s question for you is: What is your creative outlet?
Walking across one of the many bridges that spans the Boise river, we spotted something bright red in the distance. Drawing closer, we saw that it was a nylon camp chair—empty. We looked in every direction for someone who might be the owner, but there wasn’t a soul in sight.
During one of the classes I’m teaching at UW-Madison’s Writers’ Institute in April, 2016, I’ll share that life is about showing up. So is writing. Failure to show up—be present—yields puny results. For a writer, that equals a blank page.
There are many different ways of showing up. We can arrive with a chip on our shoulder and a cup-half-empty attitude, or…
Remember Aunt Clara on the television series Bewitched? She may have fumbled and bumbled and usually arrived—covered in soot, hat askew—after tumbling down the Stephens’ chimney, but she showed up with a positive, go-get-’em attitude and a ready smile.
When I spoke at the Writers’ Institute at UW-Madison, one of my topics was why critiquing is necessary. My presentation included defining the difference between criticism and critique:
I represented CRITICISM with scissor blades facing the recipient — putting a person on the defensive. We typically react (knee-jerk) to this style of communication, viewing it as an attack. Criticism is problem-oriented, negative, and critical.
I represented CRITIQUE with scissor handles facing the recipient — putting the person at ease. We typically respond (thought-filled) to this style of communication, viewing it as a gift. Critique is solution-oriented, positive, and helpful.
When you provide feedback (at home, work, or in a writing situation), is your message respectful, honest, useful, clear, and specific?
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.
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 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 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?
I’m totally stoked for the Writers’ Institute at UW-Madison this coming weekend. The past few years I’ve been there as a student, this year I’m thrilled to be one of the instructors.
There’s a wide brushstroke of workshops to choose from. For some that means learning how to incorporate the first rule of writing—show, don’t tell. For others it means wielding the sharp-edged blade of write tight—trimming the fat. And then there are those who will:
master the do’s and don’ts of a query letter
take the opportunity to pitch their project to a literary agent
familiarize themselves with constructing a writer’s platform
learn how to leverage social media
have their work in progress critiqued
discover the in’s and out’s of a book proposal
start blogging, or become even more proficient at growing their current blog
Rain or shine, it’s going to be fantastic! In fact, it’s going to be write as rain.
Last year just before I left for the 2011 Writer’s Institute at UW-Madison I posed the question “Why do writers write?” and shared my thoughts on the matter:
I don’t think writer’s write. I think they’re written through. Somewhere along the way, they gave themselves over to being a vessel through which words flow. A writer can’t not write—they’re compelled to write. Even if it’s only for themselves.
The creative experience of writing unleashes ideas, emotions, and thoughts. This unleashing is euphoric—a state that becomes addictive—a way of being in the world that opens the door to endless possibility.
In an eloquent presentation of words and photographs, Winsomebella recently shared why she writes in a post titled, “If You Want To Know Why.”
In my perspective, the only time that writing is wrong is when you don’t…write; when you hold back because of fear or discouragement.
I admire the tenacity of author Darcie Chan, who after receiving over 100 rejection letters from various literary agents decided to self-publish her book, “The Mill River Recluse.” To date, it has sold more than 400,000 copies—landing squarely on the best-seller lists!
As I was contemplating this post, my friend Leanne Dyck posted the following letter (below the photograph) to her 12-year-old self on her blog, The Sweater Curse—cannily named after her most recent book published by Decadent Publishing:
Leanne Dyck age 12
Dear younger Leanne,
You know those stories that you’re working on. Well, you might think that you can just throw them out—unfinished. You may think that because they belong to you, you can do whatever you want with them. Well, you’re wrong. You can’t. You can’t because they belong to me—older Leanne—not you. So, instead of tossing them away, you better file them away for safekeeping. You better or else…
Oh, yeah, and another thing. You might think that by writing all those stories you’re just having fun. WRONG! You’re doing important work. However, you’re only doing half the job. You also need to get someone who can spell and knows grammar to edit them. Ask Mom she’ll help you. Then you need to submit them to literary journals or short stories contests.
Oh, yeah, and don’t just do it once and think you’re done. Don’t just say, “Oh, well, I submitted it. I didn’t win. I don’t have to do that again.” Don’t think, I tried, failed and now I’m done. The only way you failed is by being done. Simply by continuing to submit your stories, you’re proving that you are a winner. If you don’t continue working until the job is done, well then you’ll leave all that work for me. And trust me, I won’t be pleased.
Oh, yeah, and the most important thing. You may not think you’re smart, but I do. I know how talented you are. And you’re doing a grave disservice by not sharing your talent. So do it. Do it now!
If you wrote a letter to your 12-year-old self, what would you say?
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.