The Noble Pen for Nov 27, 2014

Next Noble Pen Meeting

December 4th, 2014 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

Most employers are giving their people Thursday off to work on their writing.  Consequently, we will not meet and interrupt that important work.

–//–

Fairy tales tend to have mild versions of the bad guys, but a new translation shows that wasn’t always so and they may have been rather Grimm, er… grim.

Victories

Dylan received two reviews of Sand and Blood.  Unfortunately they weren’t as positive as he hoped.

Ciuin made progress on edits of Petty Theft.

Cassie edited a lot on Dreams in Red.  She added two scenes to BMB, now renamed Kiss the Rain to fit with a scheme for a series.  She has also made plans to redo a short story as a novella.

Education

As we approach the end of the year, it is a good time to think about anything you might want to do that affects your taxes, and to be sure your records are organized.  Writers may wonder if they can deduct writing-related expenses.  Your tax preparer can assess your particular situation, but this article gives some general things to consider.

If you have have enough income from writing sales to qualify as a business, your directly related expenses are probably deductible, for example printer cartridges, paper, writing tutorial books, postage for submissions, and travel (solely) to promote a published book.   See Publication 535.  Your new computer or dedicating a home office to writing are trickier, and you should consult an expert.

Unfortunately, most of those expenses come before a new writer has significant sales.  It is risky to claim a loss from a sideline “business” activity.   See Publication 535.  The IRS may permit this at first, but if you don’t show a profit within a small number of years you will probably owe taxes and interest for back years as they disallow the loss as a hobby and probably conduct an audit.

You might think it only fair that you could deduct hobby expenses up the amount of hobby income.  Nope.  All hobby income is supposed to be reported, but the expenses are an itemized deduction (only useful if your deductions total more than standard deduction) and then only the part exceeding 2% of your total income

That means that if your writing is classified as a hobby, your $500 in sales is taxable income, but your $499 expenses probably won’t end up affecting your deductions.  Sucks, doesn’t it?

Upcoming Schedule

Nov 27
Thanksgiving – no meeting

Dec 4
Tyree
Ciuin
Cassie

Dec 11
Aimee
Mark
Eugenia

Dec 18
Cindy
Cassie
Dylan (?)

Dec 25
Christmas – no meeting

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for Nov 20, 2014

Next Noble Pen Meeting

November 20th, 2014 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

Welcome to Cindy, who found the group.

–//–

A font intended to help dyslexics with their reading is getting new attention.  More information at www.dyslexiefont.com.

Victories

Cassie wrote for a whole day, editing five chapters and adding 1,625 words.

Mark wrote 4,000 words in one day.

Ciuin got another A on a paper.  Maybe we should just have her tell us when she doesn’t.

Nick wrote a 5,000 word report for the train spotters.

Dylan sold more books to coworkers.

Education

All writers can benefit from good beta readers.  An interesting essay discusses three types of beta readers and when you want each. Which are you, Generalist, Shredder, or SpaGster, or a combination?  Here’s another take on what makes a good beta reader.

Upcoming Schedule

Nov 20
Dylan
Mark
Eugenia

Nov 27
Thanksgiving – no meeting

Dec 4
Tyree
Ciuin
Cassie

Dec 11
Aimee
Mark
Eugenia

Dec 11
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for Nov 13, 2014

Next Noble Pen Meeting

November 13th, 2014 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

A story by John Steinbeck has been found that apparently was never distributed beyond being read on the radio.

Victories

Ciuin got 95% on a difficult paper, as compared to a great many in the class who failed.

Dylan sold more books at a convention.

Tyree now sees how Wolf should end.

Cassie has averaged 600 words/day for NaNoWriMo, somewhat less than the goal, but she has some days planned for just writing.

Education

There are some words of wisdom from several successful authors.

–//–

Tyree gives a high recommendation to the book It Was the Best of Sentences, It was the Worst of Sentences.  It shows how several things that are frequently deplored in writing can be a problem, or when used sparingly can provide a good effect.  It has received other high reviews, and the occasional nit-picker’s dissenting opinion.

Upcoming Schedule

Nov 13
Dylan
Mark
Tyree

Nov 20
Dylan (?)
Mark
Eugenia (?)

Nov 27
Thanksgiving – no meeting

Dec 4
Tyree
Ciuin
Open slots

Dec 11
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for Nov 6, 2014

Next Noble Pen Meeting

November 6th, 2014 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

Several authors donated to a charity auction the right for the high bidder to name characters in their books.  In past auctions, some fetched rather high prices, even for characters that got killed off.  Here’s another somewhat lighthearted discussion of character names.

–//–

Here’s a look at some book covers as originally proposed and the final product.  A publisher usually has control of the design, but self-publishers might learn something from this series.

Victories

Ciuin has an article accepted for the next City Revealed magazine.  She picked another pen name for her fantasy writing.  And she got 100% on another school essay.

Dylan sold a short story.

Cassie sadly renamed one of her characters to avoid reader confusion.  Maybe she should have held an auction?

Aimee finished another chapter.

Education

Nathan Bransford has everything an author needs to know, starting with this overview of how to write a novel, and offering a list of more detailed topics in his October 28 post.

Upcoming Schedule

Nov 6
Victor
Cassie
Tyree

Nov 13
Dylan (?)
Eugenia (?)
Mark

Nov 20
Dylan (?)
Mark
Open slot

Nov 27
Thanksgiving – no meeting

Dec 4
Tyree
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for Oct 30, 2014

Next Noble Pen Meeting

October 30th, 2014 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

Amazon has a new deal with Simon & Schuster to sell both print and e-books, with S&S retaining significant control over pricing.  Their feud with Hachette continues.

–//–

We are rapidly approaching November, which is National Novel Writing Month.  People are encouraged to write 50,000 words of a novel during the month of November.  The NaNoWriMo organization provides guidance and moral support, as explained in their FAQ.

Victories

Dylan finished a short story, and also tripled the content of his wiki for Sand and Blood and the Fedran world, by adding backstory and other details.

Jed’s novel Castalia was accepted for publication by Albin Lake.

Ciuin received A’s for two class essays.

Education

At the last meeting we had some discussion of women character names.  Mark offers this link to remind us of several that have changed up and down in popularity.  Here’s some advice on picking character names and this one discusses pitfalls.  A longer discussion contains some tips.

Finally, if you’re stuck try this character name generator that considers gender, ethnicity, and decade of birth.

–//–

Author Brenda Novak lists her 10 key guidelines for creating a good story.  Starting in the right place is high on the list.  To catch the reader’s interest it should introduce excitement, mystery, or a challenge right away, with the backstory carefully slipped in as needed.  Her other points are worth studying, too.  Nancy Kress elaborates on the advice about starting the story.

You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great. ~Zig Ziglar
Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go. ~E. L. Doctorow
Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on. ~Louis L’Amour

Upcoming Schedule

Oct 30
Tyree
Dylan
Ciuin

Nov 6
Victor
Cassie
Tyree (?)

Nov 13
Dylan (?)
Eugenia (?)
Open slot

Nov 20
Open slots

Nov 27
Thanksgiving – no meeting

Dec 4
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for October 23, 2014

Next Noble Pen Meeting

October 23rd, 2014 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

The finalists for the National Book Awards in fiction were announced.

Victories

Tyree added 8k words to Bombay Sapphire II this week.  He attended a book fair with many genres where he was one of two selling SF/Fantasy/Horror and had good sales.

Tyree and Dylan’s stories are now available in the Taurin Tales anthology, which sold well at the book fair.

Dylan submitted his story to Blackguards.  His Sand and Blood was  a top seller at the fair.

Cassie made more progress on Dreams in Red including a new chapter.

Nick sent his revised western story to be edited.

Education

Can you use a real person in your fiction?  Can you base a fictional story on a real person who is not named but could perhaps be identified?

Generally one should err on the side of caution to avoid possible claims of defamation or invasion of privacy by the person or their descendants.  The more famous the person and the greater the span of time after their life, the more leeway you will have.

If the person’s identity and details are not as important as their membership in a group, it is easy to make up a character combining what you know about that person and others in the group.

This excellent article says a finding of libel is rare but you need to exercise some caution.  Even winning a lawsuit is still expensive.  They recommend either keeping true to the proven facts, especially for any negative aspect of the character, or else disguising the character so they are hard to associate with the real person.  The trouble is in the middle ground.

Here’s one take on it and another view.  Here’s a discussion of libel law as it applies to fiction.  Real Person Fiction, alias fan fiction, is discussed on Wikipedia.

Upcoming Schedule

Oct 23
Cassie
Eugenia
Tyree

Oct 30
Tyree (?)
Dylan(?)
Ciuin

Nov 6
Victor
Open slots

Nov 13
Open slots

Nov 20
Open slots

Nov 27
Thanksgiving – no meeting

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for October 16, 2014

Next Noble Pen Meeting

October 16th, 2014 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

The 2014 Nobel Prize for Literature was recently awarded to  French writer Patrick Modiano for work focused on the Nazi WW II occupation of his country and the Holocaust.  One judge made news by criticizing US literature.

Victories

Cassie rewrote nine chapters of Dreams in Red, adding 300 to 600 words per chapter and one of them entirely new.

Tyree did personal research on collapsing from dehydration and exhaustion.  He recovered and will use the experience in a story.

Ciuin got a B+ on a class essay and 100% on another.

Education

Present participles are words like walking, sitting, or looking that end in -ing.  They are a useful, but sometimes overused, part of speech. This particularly sensitive blogger often finds them annoying when used frequently to combine actions into one sentence.

They can be misused.  When a participle phrase is added to a sentence to link two actions, they imply simultaneity that the writer sometimes did not intend.  “Walking up the stairs, he opened the door” is contradictory because he could not do both at once.

Upcoming Schedule

Oct 16
Tyree
Dylan
Aimee

Oct 23
Cassie
Eugenia
Tyree

Oct 30
Tyree (?)
Dylan(?)
Ciuin

Nov 6
Open slots

Nov 13
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for October 9, 2014

Next Noble Pen Meeting

October 9th, 2014 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

The American Library Association recently celebrated Banned Books Week.  They have several lists.  Some of them are perhaps unsuited to the age group in elementary schools, but it is a slippery slope.  A commentator reminds us to be aware of the power of books.

Victories

Dylan found two beta readers for Sand and Ash, who both said it’s better than Sand and Blood.

Cassie worked every day this week on revisions to Dreams in Red and added 500 new words to a chapter.

Barbara and Rachel’s names appear on the cover of Disturbed Digest as the editors.

Riley came back after a long absence, fully prepared with critiques, and Victor found the group.

Education

How do you create suspense and tension to keep the reader absorbed in your fiction? Here are five tips.  Stretching out the scene may increase suspense, if it is crafted so that the reader feels what the character does, and the action doesn’t appear to be slowing down.

Here is another list of suggestions for suspense, and a more detailed article (part 1) and (part 2).

“Suspense is achieved by information control.  What   you know.  What the reader knows.  What the characters know.  You balance that properly, and you can really get the reader wound up.” ~Alfred Hitchcock

Upcoming Schedule

Oct 9
Ciuin
Eugenia
Dylan

Oct 16
Tyree
Dylan
Aimee

Oct 23
Cassie
Eugenia
Tyree

Oct 30
Open slots

Nov 6
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for October 2, 2014

Next Noble Pen Meeting

October 2nd, 2014 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

Eugenia found the group.  She has a finished novel she wants to submit for critique.

—//–

QuarterReads , to launch in October, will offer a new market for writers to sell their short fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.   Subscribers can browse the beginning of each piece, and pay $0.25 to read all of it, of which the author gets $0.22, plus tips if the reader is impressed enough to be generous.

Victories

Dylan’s Sand and Blood is being read and considered for publication by a medium size press, which would improve distribution for him.  He finished his submission for Blackguards.

Tyree’s earlier novel The Dog at the Foot of the Bed will be reprinted by that same press, and they are interested in a collection of his short stories.  Bombay Sapphire is getting popular; the publisher and readers want more.

Cassie wrote 3500 words this week.

Ciuin’s first paper of the school term got a 100% grade.

Education

Character development is very important to get readers involved in your story.  Tom Pawlik’s article lists nine aspects of character development.  How the character talks and thinks, their background, appearance, goals, and defects all shape them and affect how the reader relates to them and cares about them.  Here are more tips.  This information should be shown gradually and not as a summary that holds up the action.  The character will probably change during the narrative, which is called the character arc.

Upcoming Schedule

Oct 2
Dylan
Ciuin
Tyree

Oct 9
Ciuin
Eugenia
Dylan

Oct 16
Tyree
Dylan?
Aimee

Oct 23
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for Sept 25, 2014

Next Noble Pen Meeting

September 25th, 2014 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

The ICON sci-fi convention will be held at the Cedar Rapids Marriott on Oct 31st through Nov 2nd. Dylan is on 2 panels.

Victories

Dylan got a preorder for Sand and Ash.  He has copy edits for Sand and Blood merged and updated.

Cassie had a volunteer for a beta reader.

Education

Here are some thoughts from famous writers. Stephen King has more, as do Elmore Leonard and George Orwell.

Upcoming Schedule

Sept 25
Tyree
Ciuin
Cassie

Oct 2
Dylan
Ciuin
Tyree

Oct 9
Ciuin?
Open slots

Oct 9
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill