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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Out-takes

During my last critique group meeting, one of my fellow writers had written a beautiful paragraph that some of us thought wasn’t right for the piece he submitted. I told him to save what he had written. That it might work better in a future story.

This prompted a lively discussion of “out-takes,” some members of our group saying they simply deleted unwanted copy, others saying they kept a file of temporarily unusable verbiage but rarely referred to it.
I keep an out-take file for every major piece I am writing, and I do check them from time to time, especially when I experience a serious case of writer’s block. On a few occasions I found exactly what I needed. Many times I wasn’t able to use what I had saved, but reading what I had written stimulated my brain, leading me to write something that did fit. Other times I left empty-handed.

We writers often fall in love with what we write and don’t want to let it fall victim to the delete key. I have been guilty of wasting precious time, trying to find a place for something I thought was “brilliant.” J My out-take files allow me to save these little gems, writing which I may read later and ask myself, “What was I thinking?”
My advice is don't force feed your writing. You probably will change a lot of things before you are finished, and trying to work your story around a favorite paragraph or two can kill your progress.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

A Motherless Mother's Day

The Friday before Mother's Day I was standing in line at my favorite supermarket, surrounded by reminders of what was being celebrated Sunday. A huge display of potted plants--orchids, mini roses, African violets, and some I couldn't name--was off to my right. On my left, a store employee was dipping strawberries in white or dark chocolate, covering them with candy sprinkles, and then carefully inserting the elegant treats into clear plastic clamshells.

In front and in back of me, every shopping cart displayed some sign of motherly affection. One cart held a fluffy pink teddy bear, and every person shopping either had a card in their hand or one in their basket.

I watched a woman debating over which plant to buy for her mother. She was turning each one over to read the price on the bottom. Finally she picked a small, green, non-flowering plant, and I wanted to tell her to put it back and take the pretty one. "You are lucky to have a mother," I wanted to say. "Spoil her as long as you can."

My own mother died in February, and I am still getting over it. Below is a poem I wrote about our weekly phone conversations, and wouldn't you just know it?--Mother's Day always falls on a Sunday.

Sunday Mornings
It’s Sunday.
I make waffles,
do a little writing,
take my daily two-mile walk,
wash a load of clothes.

Every Sunday morning
for thirty-six years
I called my mother
at ten o’clock.
We talked for an hour or more.

“What’s that noise?”
she would ask.
“I can hear you doing something.”
“I know, Mom,” I’d say to her
as I unloaded the dishwasher.

Every Sunday morning
I used to hurry through my work,
marking things off my list,
hoping to finish by ten.
I never made it.

Sometimes Mom heard cars
passing by while I walked and talked.
“I’m on my walk,” I’d explain.
“I’m taking you with me.”
“Good,” she’d say. “I need the exercise.”

Now every Sunday morning,
I chalk off my chores until ten.
Then there’s a hole in my day,
and an ache in my heart,
because she’s gone.

Ginger Dehlinger
March 2016

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

For My Mother

Below is a poem I read during my mother's graveside service. This beautiful poem written by Shannon Walker perfectly expresses how I feel about my own mother.

Although You're Gone
Although you're gone, I'm not alone,
And never shall I be,
For the precious memories of the bond we shared
Will never depart from me.

Our love surpassed the ups and downs
And helped us along the way,
And that same love will give me strength
To manage this loss each day.

On my mind and in my heart,
Mom, you’ll forever be,
For as much as I am a part of you,
You are a part of me!
© Shannon Walker

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Ten Tips for Self-publishers

My mother passed away this week, so I'm posting another author's advice for writers who choose to self-publish. The author's name is Liz Lazarus. Below are her top ten suggestions.

While writing Free of Malice was a labor of love, as a first time self-published author, I have learned that writing the book is just the beginning. Taking the manuscript to final product, distribution and promotion are just as important. Hopefully my Top 10 tips will make the journey a little easier for others who are just starting out.
1. Create and pay for your own ISBN so you stay in control of distribution.
2. Have a few honest friends give you early feedback---it’s hard to judge your own work. You know the old saying, “It’s hard to tell if your baby’s ugly.”
3. Print on demand so you can make early tweaks. There are always more typos than you think are humanly possible! CreateSpace is a great option.
4. Don’t go to layout until you are sure you have no more changes. I mean absolutely, positively, 100%, no more changes sure.
5. Find the right PR firm. The best way to test them is to see who can produce a good media kit and how many current media contacts they have.
6. Learn the world of social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest. Understanding these platforms as platforms for growing your brand is critical.
7. Do spend the money on a proper website. It’s your home base and your identity.
8. Have other projects or work that balance your focus on your book and allow for a fresh perspective.
9. For reviews, Foreward/Clarion and Midwest Book Review seem to be the most Indie friendly, in my experience.
10. And most importantly, remember that some of the most famous authors have a pile of early rejection letters. Don’t let it discourage you!
Fellow authors, what tips would you add to the list?
About the Author:
In her previous career, Liz LazarusLiz grew up in Valdosta, Georgia, known for its high school football and as the last watering hole on highway I-75 before entering Florida. She was editor of her high school newspaper and salutatorian of her class. Liz graduated from Georgia Tech with an engineering degree and went on to a successful career at General Electric before joining a consulting firm.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Cats and Commas



What’s the difference between a cat and a comma?

One has claws at the end of its paws, and the other is a pause at the end of a clause.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Writing About Death

Writing is a challenge. Writing about death is just plain hard.

As I near the end of my novel-in-progress I must, due to key elements in my story, write about death--not one death but several. I don't want to turn my novel into a sob story, yet I want to accurately depict grief (and to some degree the dying process) differently for each death I describe.

I find myself wondering if other writers, especially well-known authors, have as much difficulty writing about death as I do. Do they rewrite death scenes more times than they do others? How long does it take them to attain that balance of emotions I strive for--one that evokes sympathy without being maudlin?

To me, it's easier to write about an accidental death than one that's prolonged. I liken it to the difference between removing a band-aid in one quick rip VS peeling it off slowly. I'd also rather write about the death of an old person than I would a child. The death of any loved one is a shock; however the shock following an expected death dissipates sooner. Most parents never stop grieving over a child who dies. As Mitch Albom wrote in Tuesdays With Morrie, "Death ends life, not a relationship."

Today I've taken time away from a novel in which several deaths occur to write about writing about death. I don't think this is going to help me finish my novel, so I need to get back to work.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Eye Color

Why is it writers often mention eye color when describing their characters? I'm guilty of it, too. Do we humans associate certain behaviors with eye color? Is a character with blue eyes always true? Must green eyes signify jealousy?

Barbie's eyes are blue. So are those of "The Sweetheart of Sigma Chi," Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Taylor Swift, Angelina Jolie, and countless other notables. I have brown eyes, more specifically--light brown or golden brown, possibly hazel brown. Growing up with so many blue-eyed heroines, I always considered brown to be boring, possibly inferior even after listening to songs like "Beautiful Brown Eyes" or "Brown-Eyed Girl."

Then I saw something on Facebook that I think describes me to a T. Realistically, it doesn't describe all brown-eyed people, but it prompted me to write this post.


How about you? Do you associate eye color with specific character traits? I haven't mastered it; however I'm working on eliminating eye color from my writing. With only a handful of colors to pick from, it is far more helpful to the reader to describe what eyes are doing, be it peek, peer, or scrutinize; stare, glare, or hypnotize.