Monday, December 23, 2013

Coffee and Critique Anthology Release on Christmas Eve

This morning I received the exciting news that the hot-off-the-press Coffee and Critique Anthology will be available for pick up tomorrow morning.

Lou Turner, CEO and Publisher of High Hill Press, will be distributing contributor copies tomorrow at the Rendezvous CafĂ© (pictured in the photo cover on the left) at 10 a.m. tomorrow morning (Christmas Eve day).

A limited number of additional copies will be available for sale.

Several contributors will be on hand to sign copies tomorrow, but the official  release date and party/signing will occur early next year.

In addition to the stories and essays, the anthology also includes group and individual photos and "Take Ten" interviews from several members, including the late Nick Nixon.

Additional copies of the anthology will be available for sale from High Hill Press soon. I'll post more about the anthology early next year.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Colorful Writing in the Classic Christmas Short Story: "The Gift of the Magi" by O. Henry

Earlier this week my grandson's English assignment was to do a close reading of and make annotations on the classic Christmas short story, “The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry (William Sidney Porter).

I’ve always liked the story because of its message of selfless giving, but it wasn’t until my close reading of the story with my grandson that I noticed how O. Henry used color to paint a picture with words and depict the mood of the story.

Here's an abbreviated version of the story, with the colors highlighted:

It’s Christmas Eve. Della has only one-dollar and eighty-seven cents to buy a present for her husband, Jim.

While Jim is at work, she sits on a shabby couch looking out the window and watches a gray cat walk along a gray fence in a gray backyard. Her feet rest on the worn red carpet.

When she combs her shiny brown hair it falls like a cascade of brown water. In desperation, she decides what she must do, and she turns white for just a moment.

She puts on a brown jacket and brown hat and rushes out to see Madame Sofronie, who is large, white, and chilly.

Della sells her long brown hair to Madame Safronie for twenty dollars then takes the money and shops on rosy wings.

She buys her husband a platinum fob chain for twenty-one dollars to use with his most prized possession, his gold watch.

Meanwhile, on his way home from work, her husband Jim trades his gold watch for a set of lovely tortoise shell combs to give to Della to complement her beautiful long brown hair.
 
That's quite a lot of colors.

While I use color in my writing, I try not to overuse it. Now, I wonder if I should use more.
 
After re-reading "The Gift of the Magi," I thought about another short story of O. Henry's that I read in high school: "The Ransom of Red Chief."
 
After the holidays I plan to re-read that story to see if O. Henry also uses a lot of color in that one. While I'm at it I'll take a gander at some other classic short stories by other famous writers and see how they use colors in their stories too. 
 
What are your thoughts on using color in writing? Can you recommend any short stories where authors effectively use color?

Monday, December 16, 2013

Main Street Books in St. Charles to Close in January

The Post Dispatch has reported that Main Street Books in St. Charles is going to close on January 31, unless a buyer steps forward.

Vicky Irwin, owner for the past seven years, has been a champion for local writers.

The news also reports that the store will have a "retirement sale" in January.

The store is open for business as usual through December. Gift certificates will expire Jan. 31.

Here's a link to the article.

I'm hoping someone with deep pockets and a passion for books will buy the book store to keep it open.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Chicken Soup for the Soul Signing Cancelled

Please Note: Due to the snowstorm, the "Chicken Soup for the Soul, Canned Soup for the Body" book signing for December 14 has been cancelled.

If the signing is rescheduled I'll post details here.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Save the Date: Another "Souper" Book Signing at Main Street Books in St. Charles

On Saturday, December 14, 2013, seven local writers will participate in the fifth Annual “Chicken Soup for the Soul, Canned Soup for the Body” Book Signing.

The "sole" location for this year's "souper" signing will be back to where it all began at Main Street Books, 307 South Main Street in St. Charles, hosted once again by Vicki Erwin, from 11 a.m. till 5 p.m.

Customers who bring in canned goods, which will be donated to area food pantries, will receive 20% off their entire purchase that day.

The following is the schedule of the featured Chicken Soup contributors: 
 
11 a.m. till 1 p.m. -  Cathi LaMarche and Nina Miller

1 p.m. till 3 p.m. - Linda O’Connell, Theresa Sanders, and T’Mara Goodsell

3 p.m. till 5 p.m.  -   Beth M. Wood and Sioux Roslawski

For directions to Main Street Books, call Vicki Erwin, 636-949-0105.

Monday, December 2, 2013

National Writing Month Results: I Crossed the Finish Line but Have a Way to Go

Done. Done. And not quite Done!

That's how I felt on November 28 when I exceeded the 50K word count for my novel in progress.

My official ending count on November 30 was 51,428 words. I still can't believe it!

I'm now about three-quarters of the way finished with a very rough first draft of a novel I've been wanting to write for years.

The next step is pulling it out and finishing the first draft early next year. Then the revising, rewriting, and editing starts. My plan is to have a decent manuscript by the spring, unless life gets in the way of my plans.

November was not without its bumps and bruises, but at least now I can say I wrote 50K+ words in a month. Of course many of those words are crappy, but what the heck. They're still words.

Congratulations to anyone else who has ever taken on this daunting task.

Here are my lessons learned:
Write every day.
Early morning or late at night worked best for me.
Limit social media time.
Limit editing. I could not turn off my internal editor; I just toned her down.
Outline ahead of time.
Don't feel compelled to stick to the outline.
Map out characters ahead of time. (I kept changing their names and descriptions)
Listen to your characters.
Go with the flow. (cliché, I know)
Spreadsheets are your friend. (I kept one with the chapter number, title, word count, and a brief synopsis.) This was extra work but helped keep me focused and on task.
Celebrate!
Put the WIP away for at least a month before picking it up again.







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