May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer (Psalm 19: 14 NIV).
It’s time for Weekend Writing Warriors! Every Sunday, a bunch of writers post 8-10-sentence snippets from their works-in-progress on their blogs. There’s a lot of reading, commenting and great writing. Click on the link to see the full list.
Beth and Dave are in the State Forest collecting stream water to analyze for pollutants. After they observe the unicorn and other animals in the woods, Beth falls into the stream, and an amused Dave helps her up.
She hoisted her waterlogged handbag and passed it to Dave. Bending over, she plunged her hands into the now-murky water, feeling around to locate the jar and lid. “Got it.” Holding the jar up to the sunlight, she examined the water inside. “Man–lots of dirt swirling around in there. Oh, well; it’ll settle.” She fastened the lid onto the jar. Gripping it tightly, she reached her other hand out to Dave.
And when he took hold of her hand, she pulled him into the water in a fit of spite. “There–not so funny, is it?”
I know it’s short (the limit is ten sentences), but what do you think of this small excerpt from Chapter 13? Any suggestions on how I can make it better? Please leave your comments below.
My husband and I don’t travel much. The last trip we took together, in June, 2012, was absolutely fabulous—to Oahu! But we’re very content to stay in our comfy little home.
Nevertheless, a change of scene can reinvigorate your creativity.
When my friend Shonna Slayton invited me to the Arizona Dreamweavers writers’ retreat the last weekend in August, I jumped at the chance. It was held at the fabulous Breath of Life retreat house in Pine, AZ, up in the mountains. The change of scenery (and temperature!) from the Phoenix area refreshed us. (Click on the smaller image for enlargements and to see captions.)
When the thirteen female writers arrived at the center, they chose their bunks and got started making dream catchers. Throughout the weekend, writing and non-writing activities were scheduled: a critique group, appointments with a massage therapist, kick-start writing prompts, a hike, brainstorming, and an expert panel. Each attendee could participate or not. Some chose to write undisturbed.
Friday dinner, three meals on Saturday, and Sunday breakfast were provided, as well as unlimited access to decadent or healthy snacks, coffee, and soft drinks. And the food was delicious. How wonderful to be able to write without meal preparation intruding on your thoughts.
I passed up on the massage, but I did go on the hike to Tonto Natural Bridge. It was challenging for me, but oh, so worth it.
The highlights of the retreat for me were the critique session and the expert panel.
Six of us participated in the critique group. It focused on the first 10 pages of our work-in-progress. We each emailed our manuscripts to the other critique partners in advance so we could read everyone’s work and make notes before the retreat. I sent in my first pages of The Unicornologist. The consensus of the group is that my story starts in chapter two, which I subconsciously knew but have been resisting. Hearing it out loud, along with suggestions about how to include the first chapter info later on, gave me the courage to work on revamping my opening.
At the panel discussion, two authors shared their publication stories, a publicist shared how she assists authors with their marketing, and a reader for a publishing house explained what happens to manuscripts in the slush pile. Their talks opened my eyes. Did you know that publishing house readers are unpaid, even though most have degrees in creative writing? The one on our panel signed on so she could see for herself the criteria that publishers use to mine the gems from the unsolicited submissions. Only the top 5% ever reach an editor’s desk. Agented manuscripts have a better chance, because they’ve already been approved by a gatekeeper.
The major drama of the retreat was provided by a centipede that invaded one of the bedrooms. Thanks to technology, it was immediately determined that this was a venomous centipede. I decided not to be part of the team that dealt its demise.
Another perk of going to a writers’ retreat is making a lot of new friends. Although everyone knew at least one person there, no one knew everyone. Yet they were an incredibly nice collection of people to share quarters with—fourteen of us in three bedrooms. (And everyone strove to be very quiet after 10:00 pm.) We’ve all promised to keep in touch—and come together again next year.
Sometimes you just have to get away, learn something new, experience a change of scene, hang out with a group of women you’re not related to, and decompress. It refills the metaphoric creative well, so you have some depth to draw from again. Lots of ideas were generated at the retreat, and we all went home refreshed and inspired.
How about you—have you gone on a writers’ or artists’ or crafters’ retreat? Would you like to hold a retreat for your writers’ group? Share in the comments below.
Feed your soul (or just LOL):
- THIS is what I want for my birthday. And Christmas. Just sayin’. (Don’t forget.)
- It doesn’t matter what you sketch; just sketch something.
- 11 ways to raise your emotional intelligence.
- The lessons you’re learning in your other passions can also fuel your creative success.
- Most amazing birdhouses ever.
- I am in unicorn heaven. Are you a Pinterest user? If so, then you can access this. Unicorns in art history. Thank you, Lulu.
- Click on the small images here to see enlargements of these award-winning wildlife photographs.
- Can your kid do this? Lego Art.
- Don’t try this at home. Instagram risk-taking.
- Photographic recreations of classic SNL scenes.
- Illustrations of everyday objects having conversations. Pun alert.
Did you read (or write) an article this week that would interest creatives? Please share a link in the comments below.
Erika Wassall, The Jersey Farm Scribe here on…
Giving your Revision Wings!
I recently received an extremely insightful rejection –
Wait, wait!! First a big WHOoO-HooOOo for a personalized rejection!!! We can’t forget to Celebrate the Little Things!
So anyway, I received a very insightful rejection from an agent. They were complimentary of the writing style and concept. But they thought the end came together too easy. My main character, Bradley, had a problem throughout the book. And in the end, it was basically solved for him.
The book is called Got Your Nose! where the classic Dad-joke becomes a reality. The only ending I could really see was his Dad giving him back his nose.
His comment was that he was hoping that Bradley would be a part of the solution.
It was a really great comment. Specific. Helpful. Thoughtful. The kind of rejection every author hopes for!
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It’s all the Magic Violinist‘s fault–if I hadn’t read her post, I would never have know about Beautiful People for Writers. It’s a challenge to answer 10 questions about one of your fictional characters, to help to get him/her better.
I will be answering these about Hillary Noone, the protagonist of my work-in-progress, The Unicornologist.
- How did you come up with this character? Hillary is loosely based on myself as a teenager.
- Have they ever been starving? No, but she will come close in the book. Why? She camps deep in the woods for a week, and doesn’t bring enough food along. And what did they eat to break the fast? The book ends shortly after she returns home and before she gets to eat.
- Do they have a talent or skill that they’re proud of? Hillary is an brilliant student.
- List 3 things that would make them lose their temper. A. Being asked to do something by her step-mother. B. Being asked by her father to be respectful to her step-mother. C. Anyone attempting to harm the unicorn she is charged with protecting.
- What is their favourite type of weather? Warm and sunny. Least favorite? Cold and rainy.
- What is their Hogwarts house and/or MBTI personality? Hillary’s Myers-Briggs type is melancholic. She’s artistic, detail-oriented, patient, idealistic, perfectionist, moody, and introverted.
- Are they more likely to worry about present problems, or freak out about the unknown future? Both.
- What is their favourite thing to drink? Coke.
- What is their favourite color? Green. Least favorite? Black.
- What is a book that changed their life? The Lore of the Unicorn. When she first became obsessed with unicorns, she borrowed this book from the library and studied it extensively.
Oo–a new-to-me photography challenge. I love photo challenges. Here’s my offering:
Photos © by ARHuelsenbeck.
My submissions for Cee’s current Fun Foto Challenge:
Photos © by ARHuelsenbeck