Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Writing Kit

The Writing Kit
From the Editors of Writer’s Digest Books

I received The Writing Kit as a gift. This is a gift you should give yourself. The box contains three treasures.

The first layer is The Mini-Market Book with the subtitle "Everything You Need to Know to Get Published, Including 125 Markets for New Writers". The topics included are: Novel and Short Story Markets, Personal Essay Markets, Children’s Markets, and Poetry Markets. The Appendices contains nine different articles for writer reference. The “Ten Commandments for Writers” listed things that successful writers should keep in mind.

Seventy Solutions to Common Writing Mistakes by Bob Mayer is arranged so the writer can quickly check the table of contents and turn to the needed area of concern. “Misusing Flashbacks and Memories” and “Telling Not Showing” caught my attention as areas I want to read more about.

The treasure hidden on the third layer was a small, square box with short phrases in bold black letters such as "Big Ideas" and "Let The Words Flow". I found two sets of cards inside. The round set suggested different writing activities such as “Go to the mall and pick out a person and write a scene about the individual as they interact with someone else”. The square set listed different topics such as setting and included hints to use on a current project.

This is a wonderful gift. I am already making plans to use it with the round cards arranged in order of the project I’m going to try. Buy one for yourself and purchase an extra kit for one of your writer friends.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Facebook | Janet K Brown

Facebook | Janet K Brown

Committed but Flawed by Cecil Murphey

Recently, I met a remarkable man and a fantastic writer in Cecil Murphey. He's well known for ghostwriting "Ninety Minutes in Heaven," a true story of Don Piper's near-death experience. All the words in that book are Cecil's. He's done much more ghostwriting and also many under his own name--something like one hundred fifteen books and over a thousand articles. "Cec" is much sought after for writing and preaching conferences. Yet, he's the most non-assuming, kind man I've had the pleasure to meet.
"Committed but Flawed" was the first of his books I've read under his own name, and I would highly recommend it for inspiration, for provoking thought, and for deepening a walk with Christ.
As a Christian writer, I seek new ways to stay focused on writing as a ministry. Books like this help. A familiar slogan made the rounds in recent years "What would Jesus do?" Cecil explores the idea of following the actions of Jesus as hard to do for a flawed individual like him (and like me).
The sub title says "seeking NEW ways to grow spiritually." Cecil picks out twenty-six individuals from the Bible to emulate--committed, but flawed people. Peter, who failed when the going got rough, brings us one chapter. I especially like the chapter on Onesiphorus, a little known guy who stood by and helped where he could. Some chapters highlight women in the Bible, some men.
I recommend this book if you're a successful writer who needs to go back to basics, but I recommend it if you've been rejected. As Cecil points out, we're all still learning.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Anne of Green Gables/Anne of Avonlea by Lucy Maud Montgomery, ©1997 by Running Press, reprinted from the first edition published in 1908 and 1909

Books make a perfect gift. To give someone a book that you love is like giving away a small piece of your heart. A book represents not only an investment in cash but also an investment in reading time. If a picture is worth one thousand words, a book is worth one hundred thousand or more—words that are given to encourage, enlighten, or comfort.

I was the recipient of such a thoughtful gift, which made reading it all the more pleasurable. I thought of the giver each time I picked the book up—I saw her smiling face and felt her love for me.

The book I received was a double volume, Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea by Lucy Maud Montgomery. Mind, I am a huge fan of the classics. I struggled to nurture such a passion in my own children to no avail. My son listened to The Red Badge of Courage on audio book, but that was as far as my quest got me.

As a child, I was more apt to read Treasure Island, White Fang, or Sherlock Holmes than Little Women or Wuthering Heights, so a proper acquaintance with Anne Shirley evaded me for fifty some years.

I am so glad to be finally introduced to this wonderful series of novels. I was immediately drawn into the story by Ms. Montgomery’s eloquent and sustained descriptions. Those of us familiar with the modern publishing industry are aware that such indulgence is frowned upon these days. In fact, I was advised to keep my descriptions to three sentences.

Thank God no one told Lucy Maud Montgomery that. I love being drawn into a scene with vivid and poetic description. How her stories would have been diminished without her effusive descriptions of Prince Edward Island, Green Gables, and the area surrounding Avonlea.

Ms. Montgomery demonstrates an uncanny ability to create memorable characters. Beginning with Mrs. Rachel Lynde and the irrepressible Anne, to Miss Lavendar Lewis, Ms. Montgomery inhabits Avonlea with a colorful cast. Each person is unique and remains true to character throughout the two volumes I read.

On the down side, Anne Shirley tends to dip into what I call the Hawkeye Pierce Syndrome. If you’re familiar with the 70’s sitcom, M*A*S*H, you might recall that toward the end the character portrayed by Alan Alda became something of a demigod—too good to be true—or single, at the very least. Anne meets with a similar fate. She certainly lands herself in plenty of mishaps, she still has too few character flaws to make her totally believable. Still, she remains lovable, so she sustains the series.

If you haven’t read the Anne Shirley series or just haven’t read them in a long time, I encourage you to share them with a daughter or granddaughter. They are fun to read and a wonderful legacy to pass on. Thank you, Violet, for a gift that will live on with me for many years.

Writing Tip of the Day