My Weekly Writing Challenge

A new writing challenge from Esther Newton!
Enjoy. 😊

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It’s that time of the week again – challenge time. Here are my latest challenges for you:

OPTION ONE: Write a fifteen-word story with the words HUNGRY, TAXI and SUPERMAN in it somewhere.

OPTION TWO: Write a poem or limerick on the theme of FOOD.

OPTION THREE: Your word is AUTUMN. Yes, it’s just around the corner. What does autumn signify to you? The end of summer? Glorious colours on the trees? Christmas?! Your piece can be a true-story, or completely fictional.

Here are last week’s challenges and the wonderful array of writing:

OPTION ONE was to write a fifteen-word story with the words WINNER, FROZEN and ELIXIR in it somewhere.

Paul:

A real winner? Frozen elixir of youth. Instructions: won’t keep long, use within three month!

Bitchy Muse:

Too late. She stood frozen. Elixir? Stolen. That bitch? The winner. Her prize? My Prince.

Urvashi…

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Writing for Readers

Often, when I pick up a book that is part of an already published series, I tend to read one book after another. Sometimes, this works well, as it does not give me time to forget characters or events that are mentioned in later books. Other times, the reading becomes tedious, especially if the author uses the same words or phrases too often, or repeats information that was new five pages ago. Right now, I am reading a series by a former employee of the makers of Dungeons and Dragons. I am on the third of what is currently a four-book series, and I am getting bored. So I sketched to break the monotony before I continue with reading… 


As I drew, I began to think about this series. It could be that the books were written with the adolescent boy in mind, or maybe the teenaged girl, as the main character is a young adult woman of not yet twenty years. The thing is, it doesn’t matter. If an over-thirty adult picks up a book for young adults–or even toddlers!–and finds the reading interesting, then the book most likely is better than most. If the adult gets bored with it, chances are good that the intended younger audience will get just as bored, and probably a lot quicker. The fact that I, an avid reader and former reading specialist, am feeling a tedium makes me think that these books will probably never be cherished by younger readers, and so will never become classics.

Regarding repetitive information… Not being much of a writer, I cannot guess at what happens in an author’s mind when he or she is writing a series. I have read series that, when referencing something from a previous book, provide just enough information to keep a new reader interested and an old reader reminded of the reference. Books (and series) that repeat information too often–especially in the same book–make me think that either the author needs to remind him/herself of the detail, or expects the reader to not remember that the information has already been presented at least once previously. In my opinion (as a reader), if the important information was not presented with adequate emphasis the first time, then it should not suddenly become a source of inspired guidance to the behavior of the character later in the book. But that’s just me and my opinion. Even when an author seems to feel I, the reader, have the attention span of a gnat, it is rather insulting to believe that I would not remember that I already read the detail earlier in the same book, possibly as little as two pages ago, and possibly more than once before. Writers, please review your writing so that all your information is fresh.

Regarding repetitive phrasing or words… Not long ago, I finished a long series of books that stars cats as the hero and heroines. The books were pretty good in terms of plots and even the behaviors of all the characters, feline and human. But as early as the first book, the author began to use one verb far too often. The first time I came across the usage, I thought the author had used the wrong word. When I came across it again a chapter or so later, I decided to look up the definition to see if there is a usage I am not aware of. It turns out that the verb to scorch means more than just burning a shirt with an iron that is too hot; it is a Britishism–apparently a little-used term at that–that indicates great speed of movement. OK. I now had a better understanding of why the author used the word. But the use of an archaic meaning also called attention to the frequency of the word’s use throughout that first book–22 times, I believe. And its appearance continued with similar frequencies for the next four or five books in the series. Then suddenly, as though someone called attention to its over-usage, the frequency with which a cat scorched up a tree was diminished to fewer than four or five times per book, almost disappearing before the last book in the series. It was a lot easier to read the rest of the series.

The reason I call attention to the problem of over-using words and phrases is that it tends to interrupt the reading of the book. Just as to many of us, a missing word or one that is continually misspelled can stop us reading mid-sentence, a single word repeated too many times throughout a book can derail smooth reading, especially since the way the author uses it is rare or unique or unexpected to begin with. Writers, read your work critically for over-use of “favorite” words or phrases. If you don’t catch it, your readers will, and chances are good that they won’t be happy–if the word or phrase appears too often, the reader is likely to lose interest, not because the book isn’t good, but because of too many interruptions to a smooth read. 

So back to the novels I am currently reading… I am about halfway through the third book. At this point, I am reading it because I have invested a lot of time in reading the first two. There is no novelty to this fantasy series any more. Even the way it the books are written, with cliff-hangers at the end to encourage purchase of the next book in the series, is getting old. All the “and then…”-type actions are a bit tedious, but not enough to put the books down. But… The heroine has wished for the presence of her husband (and maybe eventual hero) for at least the fifth time since she parted from him near the beginning of the book, and the wishing serves no purpose, as far as I can tell. Perhaps the author–a male adult–believes that a strong female (of almost twenty years of age in a world where a ten-year-old can be sent as a representative of a government to a foreign land and whose life partner is two years her junior) would somehow suddenly have major misgivings about her own abilities in contrast to those of her younger heart-throb. As a not very strong female of more than three times the heroine’s age who knows a lot of very strong females of various ages, I can’t help wondering why the author would believe the heroine is in constant need of male support for her intended actions, especially since she is surrounded by a host of people (male and female) whom she admires. These individuals are strong characters in their own rights, and her belief in their advice is unconditional. So why all the teen-age melodrama? For this heroine and her fantasy kingdom, it seems to make too little sense for her to be questioning almost every one of her decisions. 

My vagueness about the book series I mentioned is deliberate. I am not a good book critic. I have certain expectations from the fiction I read. Even fantasy or science fiction needs to be realistic for its setting and time. The Joe Gray series is entertaining and well-written except for the over-use of “scorch.” The Muirwood series which I am now reading is basically soundly written in terms of writing style; that it does not conform to the characteristics of my view of a strong female lead is probably a personal prejudice. It is these prejudices that make me feel unqualified to adequately critique books. It is my personal expectations that I am addressing above. 

Having expressed my feelings, it is time for me to get back to that third Muirwood book. Maybe sharing my frustrations will give me a fresh perspective on the rest of the book I am reading… 

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Another Day…


It was just another day when my husband planned to be home. Last night, I strongly suggested  that he may want to go into his office and catch up or get ahead, while things were relatively quiet with his job. It is between terms, and the students are gone for another week or so. Once the new term begins, things get a bit crazy.

This morning, it looked as though he were going to stay home. Thank goodness, around mid-morning he remembered some correspondence that needed his attention. It is not easy to ask your life partner to just go away…to stay home another day. Just not today.

Sigh.

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Proofreading 101 – The Ultimate List of Things to Edit For – The White Corner Creative…

Proofreading basics…

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

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Proofreading is a vital part of writing a blog post, and if you create your own list of things to edit for it can also be one of the easiest.

Source: Proofreading 101 – The Ultimate List of Things to Edit For – The White Corner Creative

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Buying ISBNs?

Saw this on Don’s site. It caught my eye because I never thought about how ISBNs get assigned to books. Check out this post to learn more.

 

Originally posted on Lit World Interviews: Your book’s ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is the 10 or 13 digit number assigned to every published book, and identifies things like edition, publisher and physical properties. Each particular edition of any published book has to have its own unique number, so you can’t use the same number…

via Should You Buy Your Own ISBN Numbers? — Don Massenzio’s Blog

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Advertise Your Book

A place to advertise your book(s)… Maybe this is right for you!

A Writer's Path

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A Writer’s Path is open for authors to advertise their books. I’m also accepting advertisements on The Book Review Directory and All Romance Reads.

I’m an author, and I know firsthand how difficult it can be to get the word out about your book. If you’re frustrated with your book sales, consider advertising here.

For those of you who are authors, indie or traditionally published, there is an option to advertise your book here on this website. There are several options, including the sidebar book cover images that you see on either side of this post.

For more information, check out the advertising info page.

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https://dailypost.wordpress.com/2016/08/19/first-friday-15/

Are you new to blogging? Here is a place, provided through WordPress, to share one of your first blogs. Using WordPress’s various facilities can help you build your audience, improve your skills, and get to know others who participate in Daily Post challenges. But why should I say more when the link below explains it all?

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/2016/08/19/first-friday-15/”>https://dailypost.wordpress.com/2016/08/19/first-friday-15/</a>

Good luck!

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And So, I Sketched

Friday was slipping by so quickly that I felt as though I were in a whirlwind vortex of time, fast-forwarding to a nebulous future. And so, to slow the progression to a pace I could comprehend, I picked up a pencil and artist tile, flicked through some photos, and settled on an image of a simple, lone poppy. 

As I drew, I thought about using it as a basis for a Zentangle, but became too involved with shading and fluting of petals… In short, I realized that the simple flower was best left as it is, representing the complexity of my life within its simple organization. 

Just goes to show: even simple sketching can be meditative.

Uncomplicate your life.

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My Weekly Writing Challenge

Sharing more Esther Newton writing challenges. Enjoy!

esthernewtonblog

Looking for a new writing challenge? Here are my latest challenges for you:

OPTION ONE: Write a fifteen-word story with the words WINNER, FROZEN and ELIXIR in it somewhere.

OPTION TWO: Write a poem or limerick on the theme of DECEPTION.

OPTION THREE: Your word is DRAMA. What does the word mean to you? Acting on stage? A TV drama? Or making a mountain out of a molehill? Your piece of writing can be fiction or truth, or a mixture of the two; it’s up to you.

You had two weeks in which to complete the previous challenges. Here’s a reminder for you:

OPTION ONE: Write a six-word story with the word FLABBERGASTED in it somewhere.

OPTION TWO: Write a poem or limerick on the theme of DAYDREAMS.

OPTION THREE: Your word is SPORT. What does sport mean to you? Being part of a team? Drive? Ambition? Or does the…

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Improving…

So I drew what I call a “coloring book” drawing of a pansy on a artist tile. Next, I stared at it for several minutes, waiting for inspiration to come–which patterns to select for which part of the flower. Nothing. Zip. Nada, rien, nichevo. I reached for my box of mini-tiles and pulled about a dozen patterns that could be used for filling in spaces. The inner dark pseudo-leaves were easy enough to decide on–Printemps and the berries of the Bronx Cherry pattern are nice, dark, “small space” fillers. But the lighter outer leaves still made me pause for a while; because how could I use the full patterns and still maintain the fluttery dimensions of the petals? For the first petal, I chose wrongly, attempting to force Echoism into the envisioned curves–which of course did not work. The other petal patterns worked better, but I was already a bit frustrated by that first error, and I lost my concentration. 

As I doodled along, I began to think about my life. How many times had I either forced some idea or image on myself that really was not part of who I am? And how did the earlier forced images affect later decisions, which also seemed wrong? Am I just one of those people who never makes the right life choices? And, if so, why do I make these choices? Did I make them for myself and only for myself? Or were many of my choices influenced by what others wanted or expected of me? 


In the end, as I began shading my tile, I realized that the only thing to do is to continue trying to make the best of what gifts I have, and to continue to move toward a direction I can feel good about. Daily, I see improvement in my drawings (yesterday I managed to draw a recognizable likeness of one of my cats–not just any cat, but clearly of him!) and, to an extent, with my writing (the stuff I don’t usually share). Daily, I can get myself a little farther from my home (a touch of agoraphobia since the death of my mother six months ago). Most days, I add one more thing to my daily regimen that is healthier for me (eating more regularly, choosing better foods, exercising just a tad more, finding “feel good” movies and books, etc.). So, I feel that I am improving–maybe not as quickly as I would like, but there is clear progress. 

Who knows? Maybe by this time next year I will feel fully good about myself and my life choices again. 

Until tomorrow, happy tangling and happy writing!

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