Writers are Readers, too.

You’ve no doubt heard this one before, good writers – READ.  It’s true!  I write mainly women’s fiction, so I do a lot of reading in that genre.  I also read chick lit, mainstream fiction, mysteries, thrillers, romance and much more.  Check out my Goodreads.com books and you’ll see that I am a diverse reader. If there’s a book review in the paper or a magazine I have to read it and if the story sounds good, then it goes on my list of things to read.

 

man_looking_thru_binocularsWhen I find a particular author I enjoy I tend to read everything they’ve ever written, but reading debut novels is enjoyable.  Sharing any new found book treasures is a must.  Many of my friends and family like to book swap, and if we’ve gotten the book from the library we make sure and email the title and author around the group.

Occasionally films will come out about the lives of authors or based on one of my favorite books.  It’s fun to get a group of writers together to see a matinee and then get coffee and hold a discussion.  We writers have such an interesting way of viewing things.

There are lots of book clubs out there that get together and discuss their favorite stories. reading books(But, you have to read them first.)  Kansas has a statewide reading event each year that is fun to participate in.  You will overhear book conversations in the grocery store and all around town.  It is like being a part of a really BIG book club.

Many of us have a library of unread books that we have collected from friends, book sales at the library, yard sales, and those bought with coupons from the local bookstores.    When I’m finished reading and sharing a book, I donate it to the library so others can partake of its pages.  The bottom line is – you can never read too many books.  And reading good books will help you become a better writer – I PROMISE!

bookshelves

Life is not a straight line…

Life is not a straight line. We bounce around and find our way through.

forget me notsIf you follow your “curiosity” it will give you clues. Be aware. Be open. Listen. Trust that every place you go is where you are supposed to be in order to gain experience, wisdom, grace, humility, discipline, faith…

This was especially true in my twenties. But I have to say that even at my current age I must not fall into the pit of focusing so hard on one outcome that I miss opportunities to grow. How about you?

When I’m writing a story and think I already know the ending it’s surprising what can happen along the way. New characters appear. Old characters change. Assumptions made no longer apply. And sometimes the ending morphs as well. Follow the path, wherever it leads you.

I love when I’m reading and the story surprises me. Occasional unpredictability can be inspiring – emotional – even educational. But writer beware of throwing a huge rock in the soup, it will totally change the flavor and splash not only the broth, but the reader right out of the pot.

snoopy happy danceI’m a fan of satisfying endings. Who wants to read about a total loser who never ever wins? Totally depressing. You want readers to feel hope for the characters, satisfaction that the story ended as it should and they didn’t waste their time.

I hate to see a cool character die or an antagonist that can’t be redeemed (even just a little bit). In life, those things happen, so they have to occur in story as well. What is story, but the telling of a life experience (real or imagined)? A path taken that resulted in certain consequences that the reader can relate to, utilize as a lesson learned in their own lives, or imagine and enjoy.  which way signLife is not a straight line…so the story can’t be either.

Enjoy the journey, my friends. I plan to.

 

 

 

Writers of the Wheat Literary Festival July 10th

SUNFLOWER PLAZA
presents
image004WRITERS OF THE WHEAT
LITERARY FESTIVAL

Come enjoy the 15 talented authors who reside in Kansas and will present excerpts from their works on
Friday, July 10th, 2015 from 6 pm to 10 pm
Sunflower Plaza, 417 E. Gilbert, Wichita, KS

(I’ll be there to share PATCHWORK FAMILY.)

For more information, contact Tracy Edingfield Dunn, 316-304-5995.

HOPE TO SEE YOU THERE!

man_looking_thru_binoculars

Storytelling, art for all generations

storytellingHave you ever heard a storyteller? I’ve met several very impressive storytellers in my time. They were dramatic, physical, and so much fun. They brought their stories to life, with props, their voices, and their body movements. Basically, that’s what oral history is all about, and how families, warriors, and religion was shared across generations. Don’t forget, minstrels and troubadours were very popular in the middle ages. Cowboys around the campfires. Scary ghost stories at camp. And parables in the Bible.

Society is so enamored of stories that we have a plethora of ways to enjoy them. Audio books. Films. eBooks. Hardback and paperback books. Television and movies. Photography, music and art. Graphic novels. Stage plays. Even advertising tells us what we should be buying. Stories are EVERYWHERE. It’s how we relate to each other and the world around us.To Kill A Mockingbird

We all have favorite stories and mediums to experience them. I love them all, really. But reading a book is more interactive for me. When I’m watching a film or TV I feel passive – like I’m absorbing the experience, but not sharing in it. When I’m in a good book I really feel like I am there in the room, or outside, and I’m a silent partner in the story. My imagination works overtime!

Some of my favorite authors have a way of putting me in the story: Dorothea Benton Frank, C. Hope Clark, Diana Gabaldon, Stephen King (just to name a few). I smell the salt of the sea or the blood on the body. I’m transported back in time or to a place where monsters live. While films give you the audio and visual experience your imagination is put on hold. They give you the experience, and it’s not the same as taking it away from a book. Don’t get me wrong, I love movies, they make me laugh, cry, and shudder. I do experience the story.

But…it’s not the same as with a book. At least, not for me.dot_frank_cover

Now is an amazing time for storytellers. They have so many lovely ways to share their stories. Publishing is easier than it has ever been with electronic and self publishers on the web.

Do you have a story you want to tell? Tell it.

Do you have a story you particularly love? Share it.

But most of all – ENJOY stories.

Patchwork Family book cover is here…

Patchwork Family - 600x900x300Isn’t it beautiful? I’m so excited. And yes, readers, I’m using my first name instead of my initials. Pub date is the end of March. Stay tuned for events to be scheduled in my calendar. Right now I’m battling day-job demons so I have some planning to do. And don’t forget – dreams really do come true!

Book Reviews…good things?

Are book reviews a good thing? I would have to say a loud “YES.” I pick a lot of the books based on reader reviews. And yes, I even read the not so good ones, because I may or may not agree with that reader’s assessment of the story. Goodreads.com and Amazon.com are great places to find book reviews.working_on_keyboard

I try to review most all of the books I read, but sometimes I get busy and only jot down a sentence and the number of stars. Sorry about that, authors! It’s especially important for new authors. They need a boost and a good review is an EXCELLENT way to provide it. Plus other readers will see what you have to say.

What if you don’t like the book? I still write a short review, because ever author and potential reader deserves to know your feelings about the story. I will briefly tell why I didn’t like it – and not belabor them. There are usually good qualities even in bad books, so they are worth mentioning, too. Bottom line, not everyone will like every book.

We all read through our life filters and some things just don’t work well for us. Personally, I get really irritated with super weak female characters. I just want to shake them and say, “Grow a spine!” But if by the end of the book they grow one, hey, I’m cheering them on. Some people hate snakes and if the book has snakes in it – then the story is not one they will probably enjoy. Unless, of course, all the snakes are disposed of, never to be seen again. Then….well, you just never know.

helpwriterDo your fellow readers and the authors a favor – write a review. It’s a good thing to do. Really.

Writers are still reading….

In 2009 I wrote: “good writers – read.”  And that remains true today. While I write mainly women’s fiction, I do a lot of reading in that genre.  But I also enjoy chick lit, mainstream fiction, mysteries, thrillers, romance, sci fi and much more.  If there’s a book review and the story sounds good, it goes on my list of things to read. If it’s on sale somewhere or at the local used bookstore, I pick it up and add it to my library.

bookshelves

When I find a particular author I enjoy I will read everything they’ve written. It’s fun to read first time authors and sharing ANY new found book treasures is a MUST.  Many of my friends and I book swap, and if we’ve gotten the book from the library we make sure and email the title and author around the group.  There is also GoodReads.com, which is a network of book lovers who share what they are reading with each other, which really rocks!

Occasionally films will come out about the lives of authors or based on one of my favorite books.  It’s fun to get a group of writers together to see a matinee and then get coffee and hold a discussion afterward.  Writers have such an interesting way of viewing things.

There are lots of book clubs that get together and discuss their favorite stories. (But, you have to read them first!) 

Many of us have a library of unread books that we have collected from friends, book sales at the library, yard sales, and those bought with coupons from the local bookstores.  Heck, I’m always on the lookout for a “good deal” on a great read.  Whwoman_reading_riveren I’m finished reading and sharing a book I donate it to the library so others can partake of its pages.  The bottom line is – you can never read too many books.  And reading good books will help you become a better writer – Promise!

A new writer buddy of mine has opened up his mind to the world of writing and reading fiction. Every time he reads a book he enjoys he disects the best parts so he can apply those techniques to his own manuscript. I do that, too, but I admit to getting so caught up in the story I seldom get to the analysis part anymore.

“So many books and SO little time,” is the honest truth. Enjoy the journey.

BD

The power of Bedtime Stories.

I don’t remember anyone reading to me as a child, but maybe I’ve just forgotten. (Sorry, Grandma) When my son was little I always read to him before he went to sleep. It was our special time. I’d use different voices for the characters and eventually he memorized the stories and say them back to me. child_readingI loved bedtime story time. My son and I would each hold one side of the book, I’d read, and he’d turn the pages. We’d laugh and talk about the story or the character, or if he was super tired he’d drift off to sleep before we were done.

They say story time helps develop a better vocabulary, stronger reading skills as well as giving the parent and child a time together to wind down and be close. It also works with siblings!reading-100

When my grandson came along it became something special he would do at grandma’s house. And when he got older and wasn’t interested in reading a story together, we’d take turns creating a story. I’d start with a character and scene, he’d add the action. Then it would be my turn again. Some nights it was hard to stop because the story kept evolving and instead of a quiet time before sleep, we’d get all jazzed and the creative muse kicked in for both of us.

glasses_book_bulldogMy son is not an avid reader like I am, but my eldest grandson devoured stories in junior high and high school and even now enjoys a good book (when he has time – he’s in college now). My youngest grandson has his favorite stories, but he’s pretty much an electronic kid. Video games are his favorite past time, even before bed.

I’ve heard of people who read to their pets and while I’ve never done it, I can see how it could be relaxing. My husband used to read to me sometimes and frankly, I loved it! His soothing base voice painted lovely pictures from one of his favorite authors, whose name escapes me right now. I believe the book was called “Tranquility” and the stories were about nature. Very cool stuff, even for a girl.

I posted a link to an article about the value of bedtime stories on Facebook and it got tons of responses. Many folks shared their favorite books as a child. One of my son’s favorites was a little golden book about one of the Muppets, Sherlock Hemlock. The spine is held together with masking tape due to lots of love and reading. Paddington Bear was another favorite, but that book is long gone. But we do have several of my husband’s childhood books that we shared with our grandsons. Sir Kevin of Devon was the youngest ones favorite.

What was your favorite bedtime story or ritual? Did you ever create stories together?

It’s okay to not be “perfect”

“Nobody’s perfect.”250px-Superman_shield

We’ve all heard it, all of our lives. But does it matter? No, most of us still strive to be superhuman, flawless and over achieve. Part of that is being human. Part of that is our personality and the way we were raised. Personally, I always try to do my best and sometimes that’s not good enough. But good enough, might be okay.

surpriseI read an article today “Working Mom’s Don’t Try to be Perfect.” This is great advice and I wish someone had given it to me thirty years ago when I was trying to be the perfect wife, mother, homemaker and have a career in advertising. I went through all the typical angst when I was at home – I worried about what I still had to do at work. When I was at work – I worried about missing my son’s play or forgetting to take something out for dinner. Guilt sucks.

Now that my son is grown with a family of his own I find myself doing it again. When I’m at work – I wonder if I’ll have the time or energy to write when the day is done. When I’m writing – I wonder if the shoemaker elves will do my laundry or mop the kitchen floor. Good Grief.

I’m a list maker. At the end of the day if I’ve checked off all of the major things I needed to get done a sense of accomplishment (or exhaustion) sets in. This is great for work, because I’m very productive. At home, there’s the old conflict between priorities. Home. Health. Writing. Family. Relaxation.

The fact of the matter is, you have to find a balance and feBalancing-Spinning-Platesel successful with whatever you’ve done that day. It’s a struggle, because the lists are getting longer, not shorter. But we make the lists, right? So, let’s try making them shorter and only write down the highest priorities first.

Always find time to do a little exercise (Health). Have a nice discussion with your spouse/partner/family over dinner (Family). And take out is just fine! Pick up a handful of misplaced items on your way to bed or run the dishwasher, the rest will be there tomorrow (Home). Make time to write every week, where it works best, if you can’t do it every day – that’s okay (Writing). And relax. Watch the sunset. Read a little. You don’t have to do something every minute of every day.

Enough said.