The Noble Pen for July 24, 2014

Next Noble Pen Meeting

July 24th, 2014 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

Amazon has launched a service offering all you can read for one monthly fee.

Victories

Jed wrote 12,000 words in a week, thus finishing his story before moving out of town.

Barbara beta-read two pieces and returned comments to the authors.

Tyree started Bombay Sapphire 2.

Cassie made a detailed outline for the next ten chapters of Blue Moon Baby.

Education

Most authors use mail or email to pitch their stories to agents or publishers.  Adrienne Crezo describes an event at a writing conference where many agents met many authors in person.  The success rate in this report seemed to be above the average of mailed queries.

You can find lots of advice on crafting your pitch and being prepared.   You should have both a thirty-second “elevator speech” (see also here) and a three-minute more complete explanation.

Upcoming Schedule

July 24th
Laura
Ciuin
Jed

July 31st
Ciuin
Cassie (?)
Tyree

August 7
Open slots

August 14
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for July 17, 2014

Next Noble Pen Meeting

July 17th, 2014 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

News Corporation has bought Harlequin, and is adding it to their Harper Collins division.

–//–

An essay considers how multinational the readership for books may be.

Victories

Dylan submitted a story for publication.

Education

The “blurb” testimonials usually seen on the back covers of books are a common marketing device, intended to convince the reader that this is a book worth reading.   The word blurb was coined in 1907. A search for the terms blurb request will find many articles about getting people to help you by writing them.

Noelle Sterne has some thoughts about gathering testimonials.  Here’s another view, saying the blurbs are a small factor in readers choices but still worthwhile.  Best-selling authors get too many requests to comply unless you have some  connection to them.  More advice on requesting a blurb.

Upcoming Schedule

July 17th
Nick
Tyree
Jed

July 24th
Laura
Ciuin
Jed

July 31st
Ciuin
Jen
Tyree

August 7
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for July 10, 2014

Next Noble Pen Meeting

July 10th, 2014 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

Watch your punctuation.  It could haunt your readers for a long time.  As I write this on Independence Day weekend, I noticed an article about a continuing dispute over a period in the Declaration of Independence.

Victories

Cassie finished two chapters, is working on the next, and has planned the following one.

Dylan submitted a short story and wrote 20 K words on another story.  A fan asked for a sequel and another said he had read everything he has published under that pen name.

Jed wrote three chapters.

Jen found the group, inspired to see what she could learn after getting a short story published in an anthology.

Education

Writers Digest has a good article on storytelling techniques.  While focused on science fiction and fantasy, there is a lot to be gained for other genres.  It is important to give the reader enough information to follow the story, without overloading them with too much disconnected data to remember.

An important method is giving information by implication.  If the characters know something, so they speak and act accordingly, then the reader can often pick up that information without being “told”.  I’m very fond of the example from Heinlein that I quoted a couple years ago, showing how a few lines of dialog paints the outline of the world the characters live in.  This technique helps a lot with finding words to leave out, while still giving the reader what they need.

The best artists know what to leave out. ~Charles de Lint

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

Upcoming Schedule

July 10th
Tyree
Cassie
Jed

July 17th
Nick
Tyree
Jed

July 24th
Laura
Ciuin
Jed

July 31st
Ciuin
Jen
Open slot

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for July 3, 2014

Next Noble Pen Meeting

July 3rd, 2014 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

Just because you get a contract doesn’t mean success.  Tony Horwitz tells a sad and cautionary tale of disappointment in the e-publishing world.

Victories

Ciuin’s father, who almost never reads her writing, read her article in the museum journal and liked it.

Tyree’s story Bombay Sapphire not only met acceptance, the publisher asked for a sequel.

Education

Laura offers a couple good links.   An article by 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 whose use is worth reconsidering.

Upcoming Schedule

July 3rd
Nick
Jed
Ciuin

July 10th
Tyree
Laura
Ciuin

July 17th
Nick
Tyree
Jed

July 24th
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for June 26, 2014

Next Noble Pen Meeting

June 26th, 2014 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

Daniel Keyes, best known as the author of the classic story Flowers for Algernon, died at age 86.  The story is sometimes used as an example of how good science fiction tackles serious or tragic and emotional problems.

–//–

Apple has reached an out-of-court settlement of the e-book price-fixing case.  A longer version of the story.

Victories

Ciuin’ four-page article on interpreting Romany culture was published in a museum journal.

Nick wrote a 3000 word train spotting report.

Dylan wrote a 9000 word story.

Jed finished a new chapter of Castalia.

Education

Writers Digest posted an example of a successful query letter, with discussion of its merits.  Query Tracker has also been recommended as a great source of information and examples of query letters, and lists of agents to submit them to.

Upcoming Schedule

June 26th
Tyree
Jed
Ciuin

July 3rd
Nick
Jed
Ciuin

July 10th
Tyree
Laura
Ciuin

July 17th
Nick
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for June 19, 2014

Next Noble Pen Meeting

June 19th, 2014 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

The sentiment expressed so far indicates people want to meet on July 3, the day before a holiday weekend. If you have an opinion on that, please express it at the next meeting.

Victories

Ciuin made good progress on editing Petty Theft, including successfully fitting the scenes to the historical timeline.

Education

Where do you write? Joe Pawlikowski has his opinions on good and bad places. Another view. Some famous authors took advantage of any place they happened to have time to think, and some of them favored slightly unusual places. One of our own group plots out his stories while he walks. Find what works best for you as a routine, whether it is a desk or a bathtub but don’t ignore the moments of opportunity.

The same place may not be optimum for writing and editing. For instance, I find I must write at the computer, but need to edit both there and lying in bed with a printout.

Upcoming Schedule

June 19th
Cassie
Nick
Ciuin

June 26th
Tyree
Jed
Ciuin

July 3rd
Nick
Jed
Open slot

July 10th
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for June 12, 2014

Next Noble Pen Meeting

June 12th, 2014 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

The sentiment expressed so far indicates people want to meet on July 3, the day before a holiday weekend. If you have an opinion on that, please express it at the next meeting.

–//–

If you ever get famous as a writer, be sure to watch out for marketing rights associated with your books. Harper Lee, well known for her 1960 book To Kill a Mockingbird, has settled a dispute with a museum in her home county over merchandise associated with the title. Your newsletter editor took notice because he has visited that museum.

Victories

In a very eventful week:

Tyree sent off the completed Bombay Sapphire.

Dylan received the final printed version of Sand and Blood.

Ciuin had requests to buy copies of Petty Theft which is in late editing, and her other Romany story which is only started. She is making good progress on editing Petty Theft.

Cassie had an epiphany about what had improved in her writing and will go back to fix previous work with better showing of motivation through thoughts and emotions of her characters.

Bill wrote 2500 words on his SF story, although he still doesn’t know where it’s going.

Nick sent a train spotting report to his group.

Education

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. NPR has one. 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

June 12th
Aimee
Ciuin
Jed

June 19th
Cassie
Nick
Ciuin (would cede if asked)

June 26th
Tyree
Jed
Ciuin

July 3rd
People seem to want to meet before holiday. Opinion?
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for June 5, 2014

Next Noble Pen Meeting

June 5th, 2014 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

The battle for the book market continues, as Amazon is accused of selectively delaying or dropping books to punish some publishers.  (Another report.)   Amazon defends their position.

Victories

Tyree got a new computer and has (mostly) figured out how to use it.  He can now open .doc files.  He was annoyed, and worried about privacy, by its default of saving everything to the cloud and got that changed.

Ciuin has broken down the revisions needed to Petty Theft into a manageable list.  She has organized all critiques of the beta submission for efficient implementation, and has decided to fix a timeline discrepancy to match the historical information.

Education

Writing groups have proven helpful to many writers.   Cassie pointed out a recent article in Writers Digest that surveys several, and they feature several more in an on-line supplement, each having its own character, operating methods, and even purposes.

You can also find some on-line places (here or here, for example) to give and get critiques.  Practicing the giving of good critiques and comparing your analysis to others can be helpful in improving your own writing.  You need to be careful to not “publish” your material by making too much of it available to the world at large.

Noble Pen has evolved to our current Member Guide, which we follow in general, but frequently not with precision, and it seems to be working most of the time.

Here’s another discussion of writing groups.  I like to think we fall in the “Circle of Friends” category described there, but we need to keep alert that we don’t drift into another category.

Upcoming Schedule

June 5th
Nick
Jed
Tyree

June 12th
Aimee
Ciuin
Jed

June 19th
Open slots

June 26th
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for May 29, 2014

Next Noble Pen Meeting

May 29th, 2014 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

Dictionary makers respond to changes in the language.  In an aggressive move, Merriam-Webster added 150 words this year, more than usual.

Victories

Dylan is proud to announce the publication of Sand and Blood.

Cassie worked on the plan for the sequel to Blue Moon Baby.

Tyree planned the last scene for Bombay Sapphire and has ideas for sequels.

Ciuin did some writing and is coming to terms with the revisions needed in Petty Theft.

Education

Do your characters have an easy time of it?  That’s not very interesting to readers, who usually expect to see tension and conflict before the resolution.  Brian Klems suggests ways to Push Your Characters to Their Limits.  Here he suggests some tools to spice up the tension.

One finds limits by pushing them. ~Herbert Simon

If you’ve ever found yourself pushed to the limits of your tolerance… you find yourself doing some things that, from the outside, can be seen as quite insane. ~Brandon Lee

The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless. ~Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Upcoming Schedule

May 29th
Tyree
Ciuin
Jed

June 5th
Nick
Jed
Tyree (if no one else wants it)

June 12th
Open slots

June 19th
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for May 22, 2014

Next Noble Pen Meeting

May 22nd, 2014 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

An author collected comments about publishing first novels.  It takes quality, luck, and perseverance.

Victories

Tyree got a royalty check for his steampunk story.  It was more than enough to buy dinner.

Ciuin is out of school for the summer, so will have lots of time to write.  She was asked to draft material for people to refer to when writing to the United Nations to encourage inclusion of Romany in the Holocaust remembrance.

Aimee has done lots of story planning.

Education

Ralan was mentioned at the meeting for providing a list of markets for SF authors.

–//–

What do you do with numbers, times, and money in your story?  Dylan found this excellent summary of rules.  There may be some variation in style guides, but it is a good starting point.

I’m writing a book. I’ve got the page numbers done. ~Steven Wright
I disliked numbers, and they didn’t think much of me either. ~R.J. Anderson

Upcoming Schedule

May 22nd
Ciuin
Tyree
Cassie

May 29th
Tyree
Ciuin
Jed

June 5th
Nick
Open slots

June 12th
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill