The Noble Pen for August 24, 2017

Next Noble Pen Meeting

August 24th, 2017 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

Real book stores continue to succeed despite ebooks.

Victories

Randy was interviewed by a Gazette person, and hopes this will lead to a published review of his book.

Aime is revising Scourge using all our collected critiques.

Education

A run-on is two independent clauses put together means.  The clauses could be two sentences.  A run-on is usually bad form.  A comma spliced run-on is an inadequate attempt to separate them.
Run-on:  It was seven hundred miles to the event we arranged to fly.
Comma splice: It was seven hundred miles to the event, we arranged to fly.

Using two sentences cleans it up, but may make the writing choppy.
It was seven hundred miles to the event.  We arranged to fly.

A semicolon or colon is adequate punctuation if there is a close relationship such as cause and effect, but semicolons and colons are discouraged in fiction.
It was seven hundred miles to the event; we arranged to fly.

A coordinating conjunction can be used:
It was seven hundred miles to the event, so we arranged to fly.

One clause can be made subordinate, as:
Because it was seven hundred miles to the event, we arranged to fly.

Upcoming Schedule

August 24
Uriah (carried over)
Dakota
Ciuin

August 31
Dakota
Ciuin (?)
Aime

September 7
Nick
Open slots

September 14
Open slots

September 21
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

 

The Noble Pen for Aug 17, 2017

Next Noble Pen Meeting

August 17th, 2017 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

An essay looks at what’s needed for basic education in grammar and writing.

Victories

Shannon, Dakota, Cassie, Dylan, and Stacie participated in the book signing event at Lindale.

Dakota is trying Grammarly.

Ciuin is revising her Writing Fairy site because someone else is using  the same name and getting the traffic.

Education

Last week’s piece on writers’ tools failed to caution about too much dependence on tools.  For instance, the grammar checker often suggests the wrong word or punctuation. This old ditty that circulated decades ago demonstrates the limitation of spell checkers. (Please forgive the use of poetry – it’s not a critique submission.)

Eye halve a spelling chequer
It came with my pea see.
It plainly marques four my revue
Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.

Eye strike a key and type a word
And weight four it two say
Weather eye am wrong oar write
It shows me strait a weigh.

As soon as a mist ache is maid
It nose bee fore two long
And eye can put the error rite
Its rare lea ever wrong.

Eye have rung this poem threw it
I am shore your pleased two no
My spilling’s prefect awl the weigh
My chequer tolled me sew.

Upcoming Schedule

August 17
Randy
Dakota
Ciuin’s discussion topic

August 24
Open slots

August 31
Dakota
Ciuin
Open slot

September 7
Nick
Open slots

September 14
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

 

The Noble Pen for Aug 10, 2017

Next Noble Pen Meeting

August 10th, 2017 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

Don’t forget the book signing at Lindale Mall on Saturday August 5.

–//–

An author ponders differing opinions on what a writer should keep.

Victories

Randy received a request to talk with a reviewer from the Gazette.

Education

Many computer tools are available to help writers, going beyond basic word processing.  Here’s a list of eighty tools.  Here’s another ten, including some that you might not have thought of as writers’ tools.  Some are free and some are expensive.

A free on-line tool will evaluate 100 to 1000 word samples of your writing at the sentence level to see if the proportions of verbs, adverbs, conjunctions, etc. are reasonable.   It’s not very picky, so if you get long colored bars you’d better pay attention.

Pro Writing Aid is a much more extensive tool.  You have to create a free account to try it (and probably get related ads).  It gives a thorough analysis of your writing, including overused words, echo words, sentence length issues, cliches, grammar, etc.  Subscription is $40/year, but even the free version (limited word count) can be an eye-opener and quite useful.

Upcoming Schedule

August 10
Shannon
Ciuin
Exercise

August 17
Randy
Dakota
Uriah

August 24
Open slots

August 31
Open slots

September 7
Nick
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for Aug 3, 2017

Next Noble Pen Meeting

August 3rd, 2017 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

Here’s a broadcast about little free libraries and the future of libraries.

–//–

Randy’s book signing in Bellevue has been moved to the afternoon of Sept 16th.

Victories

Aime is writing a guest column to submit to the newspaper.

Ciuin wrote 3,000 words on the King story and also a make-up school paper.

Dakota wrote every night this week despite dealing with family medical care.

Education

Nancy Kress has some words of wisdom about getting published that she has accumulated over her writing career.  Sarah Maine talks about her world of writing.  Kelsey Miller focuses on the writing process.

Upcoming Schedule

August 3
Nick
Aime
Laura

August 10
Shannon
Ciuin
Uriah

August 17
Randy
Dakota
Ciuin (would cede)

August 24
Open slots

August 31
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for July 27, 2017

Next Noble Pen Meeting

July 27th, 2017 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

Thirty area authors, including some from Noble Pen, will participate in a book signing at Lindale Mall on Saturday August 5.

–//–

Back in April, reports circulated that a time capsule had been found, possibly placed by science fiction pioneer Jules Verne. (Although the term time capsule was not in use in his day.)  A search for more recent news turns up little, so it seems likely it was not as hoped. If you hear of any news, let us know.

Victories

Dakota participated in a book signing and sold 30 books.  The event raised $8k in admissions for a charity.

Shannon finished the first draft of a story.

Dylan has written Second Hand Dresses up to “the difficult middle”.

Ciuin wrote and submitted part of a new story.

Aime wrote a speech.

Education

Interesting sentences are building blocks of readable stories.  Gary Lutz, after some personal background, discusses what makes interesting sentences.  He finds a lot of depth in simple words.   An old article discusses great sentences.   Some editors have selected what they think are the 10 best sentences in literature, and tell you why.

We’ve seen recommendations for a book called It Was the Best of Sentences, It Was the Worst of Sentences.  It uses humorous-by-exaggeration examples to make you more aware of subtle problems you might be having in your sentences.

Upcoming Schedule

July 27
Dakota
Randy
Ciuin

August 3
Nick
Aime
Laura

August 10
Randy
Shannon
Ciuin

August 17
Open slots

August 24
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for Jul 20, 2017

Next Noble Pen Meeting

July 20th, 2017 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

A study finds that people who read are nicer folks than those who watch a lot of TV.  They don’t prove whether that’s a cause or effect.

Victories

Randy gave a copy of his book to a friend, whose father read it, bought four copies and gave them to his friends.  Randy thinks he’s sold 100 to 125 copies of his book.

Dylan worked on his web site and cleaned it up and some of the stories.

Education

Robbie Blair points out words that may “gum up your text” and be candidates for elimination or change.  Tameri has a longer list of words to reconsider.  Then think about everything you wrote to see if it really adds to the story.  See what to leave out, while still giving the reader what they need with a good flow.

The more you leave out, the more you highlight what you leave in. ~Henry Green

Upcoming Schedule

July 20
Aime
Ciuin
Dylan

July 27
Dakota
Randy
Ciuin

August 3
Nick
Open slots

August 10
Randy
Open slots

August 17
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for July 13, 2017

Next Noble Pen Meeting

July 13th, 2017 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

An essay tries to explain why Jane Austen remains popular with readers in a much different world.

Victories

Dylan wrote 10k words.

Randy’s book made the Coe Alumni magazine.  Next Page Books is taking his book on consignment.  He will have a book signing in Bellevue.

Dakota sold 19 books on pre-order and is going to participate in an 81-author book signing in Peoria.

Education (reprint)

Every author may dream of having a book on the best-seller lists. The most famous of many such lists are the ones from the NY Times. Publishers Weekly has lists. Amazon has theirs and other organizations publish them.

Making such a list one week will greatly help following sales of that and future books. What goes on behind the scenes to come up with the lists and to get on them? As mentioned in that article, there are sometimes shenanigans, as authors pay dearly for that momentary acclaim that could bring long-term benefits.

Critics point out the defects in relying on best seller lists, and even call for eliminating such lists, which seems unlikely.

One author found that making a best-seller list did not bring financial rewards because her publisher went bankrupt before sending her any royalties.

Upcoming Schedule

July 13
Aime
Randy
Dylan

July 20
Laura
Aime
Open slot

July 27
Dakota
Open slots

August 3
Nick
Open slots

August 10
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for July 6, 2017

Next Noble Pen Meeting

July 6th, 2017 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

The summer edition of Science Fiction News is available.

Victories

Aime’s son started writing a novel.

Dylan is adding to Second Hand Dresses, and planning stories for three commissions.

Education

One of the things an author can do to improve their work is to go over a piece looking for ways to tighten the sentences.  Often a change will express the meaning more clearly and with smoother flow.

For example, why say “his habit of spending wastefully” when you can say “his extravagance”, or replace “the car drove haltingly and noisily down the street” with “the car lumbered” or “the car hiccoughed down the street” instead?  This site offers more exercises with suggested answers.

Here’s another good discussion with examples of cutting extra words.  This site has good ideas, but (for shame) has a run-on in the intro note.

Upcoming Schedule

July 6
Nick
Aime
exercise

July 13
Open slots

July 20
Laura
Aime
Open slot

July 27
Open slots

August 3
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for June 29, 2017

Next Noble Pen Meeting

June 29th, 2017 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

A controversial law in California regulates sale of autographed items, with the intention of reducing trafficking in counterfeits. (text of bill)  It wasn’t intended to affect stores selling books autographed by the authors, but they need to pay attention to what comes out of the dispute and lawsuits.

Victories

Dylan rewrote seven chapters and added a new one for Second Hand Dresses. He got a story commission.

Education

The Guide to Grammar and Style, by Jack Lynch at Rutgers, offers advice on a wide variety of topics.  His disregard for absolute rules is interesting.

If you obey all the rules you miss all the fun.  ~Katharine Hepburn

It’s not wise to violate rules until you know how to observe them. ~T.S. Eliot

Upcoming Schedule

Jun 29 (6,000 word slots)
Dylan
Bill
exercise

July 6
Nick
Aime
Open slot

July 13
Open slots

July 20
Open slots

July 27
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for June 22, 2017

Next Noble Pen Meeting

June 22nd, 2017 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

Sometimes critique can be hard to take.  This essay discusses critics in politics and art.

Victories

Dylan finished and published Sand and Bone.  He is serializing Second Hand Dresses.  He got a story commission.

Education

Writers use sentences as building blocks for a story.  Good sentence construction helps the story flow for a reader.   With experience, good sentence structure can become intuitive to a writer, but untrained intuition sometimes goes astray.  This excellent explanation shows how sentences break down into their parts.

Another site gives many examples.  Here’s another tutorial on breaking down a sentence to see its structure.  It introduces diagramming as a useful tool.

Upcoming Schedule

Jun 22
Laura
Aime
Dylan

Jun 29
Uriah
Open slots

July 6
Nick
Open slots

July 13
Open slots

July 20
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill