Category Archives: Newsletters

This is the weekly newsletters for the Noble Pen Writer’s Group.

The Noble Pen for Aug 23, 2018

Next Noble Pen Meeting

August 23rd, 2018 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

Ciuin is organizing a group table to sell books on Sept 15 at an event in Tipton.  There may be a small entry fee to split.  Contact her if you are interested in helping, or in sending books.

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They say that a variety of experience helps make a writer, but this is carrying things too far.  It might be better to research bank robberies on line.

Victories

Stacie is at 60k words on her novel, which started out as a short story and just grew.

Aime is doing a beta read for someone.

Randy’s book is back from both editors.  He beta read Dylan’s Flight.

Dylan has Flight only a couple steps from publication.  He is a featured writer on the Ello social network.

Education

It seems like most of us have difficulty finding time to write.  This article suggests that you make the best use of scattered moments through out the day to make notes of ideas for plot, character, and scenes.  Here’s a list of possible times to think about your story. Use your phone or other gadgets to capture those notes while driving.  Or as one member does, think through your plots while exercising.

When you do sit down to write, you may find it best to just capture the ideas and not worry about cleaning it up.  Keep editing as a separate (but necessary) task so you don’t slow down the creative process.

Do whatever it takes to make sure that when you sit down to write, you don’t get distracted.  Some people keep an old computer, off net, just for writing so they aren’t distracted by email and F*ceb**k.   If you’re going to want a cup of tea, make it before sitting down so you don’t interrupt yourself to get it.

Here are 10 tips on productivity and another series of tips by a prolific writer.

Upcoming Schedule

Aug 23
Logan
Ciuin
Stacie

Aug 30
Aime
Stacie (would cede)
Open slot

Sept 6
Nick
Open slots

Sept 13
Open slots

Sept 20
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for Aug 16, 2018

Next Noble Pen Meeting

August 16th, 2018 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

An essay says that reading horror fiction prepares us to deal with the terrible things that happen in the real world.

–//–

Jean-Luc Picard fans will be glad to know Patrick Stewart is coming back in the role in a new Star Trek series.

Victories

Eric has his book in print.

Uriah has outlined the plot for the rest of his novel.

Logan got a personal and detailed rejection from a magazine.

Education

Giving effective critiques is an art in itself, and is fraught with interpersonal complexities.  Melissa Donovan offers some advice on giving effective but diplomatic critiques.   Another article emphasizes giving usefull critique.

Sometimes it is hard to accept critiques after you worked so hard on a piece.   Pia Padukone tells about how hard it was for her to accept criticism, and how she got over it.  Here are Melissa Donovan’s thoughts.  Another group has guidelines not so different from our own Member Guide. Nathan Bransford has advice on receiving critique and editorial changes.

You need to consider that there are many opinions out there, and you are trying to write something that will hold the interest of as many readers as possible.  There is a rule of thumb that if one person says something, it’s just their opinion.  If two say it, you should expect that others may think the same thing.  If many people say it, you have to concede that they have a point.

In the end, after you consider all the opinions, you still can think about selected reviewers, “You’re not my target audience.”

Upcoming Schedule

Aug 16
Ciuin
Laura
Uriah

Aug 23
Logan
Ciuin
Open slot

Aug 30
Aime
Open slots

Sept 6
Nick
Open slots

Sept 13
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for Aug 9, 2018

Next Noble Pen Meeting

August 9th, 2018 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

We’ve heard it before – many reviews are paid-for fakes.  Here’s a story about a product and a guy who does paid reviews.  Amazon claims only 1% of reviews are faked, but others wonder. The caution also applies to books.  An article discusses how to spot fakes.

Victories

Randy is beta reading Flight for Dylan.

Education

Authors are sometimes advised to “write what you know.” A long list of authors gave their advice about this.

Certainly personal knowledge makes it easier to set up and describe scenes, people, and places.  But research can fill in what you don’t know about real places and history, and imagination can add a lot, especially for futuristic settings.

If you write about real places, do research to get the geography right. (Dan Brown, I’m looking at you.)  If your character has a profession, research enough to know what they would spend their day doing.  Don’t give historical characters actions they would have been unlikely to do.  But there is still a lot of room to make stuff up.

If you write fantasy, vampires, or space opera don’t let yourself be limited by what others have done.  Make new rules for vampires.  Invent a new way to travel space.  Write a fantasy that is not in a medieval setting.

Upcoming Schedule

Aug 9
Logan
Uriah
Aime

Aug 16
Ciuin
Laura
Uriah

Aug 23
Logan
Ciuin
Open slot

Aug 30
Open slots

Sept  6
Nick
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for Aug 2, 2018

Next Noble Pen Meeting

August 2nd, 2018 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

You might like a discussion by several writers of thrillers.

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M and M Books near Johnson and Edgewood has a good display of local authors’ books.

–//–

Donald Kaul, insightful and witty columnist for the Cedar Rapids Gazette and Des Moines Register, Pulitzer winner, and co-founder of RAGBRAI, died recently at age 83.

Victories

Randy participated at I.O.W.A and sold books.  He met someone there who was on the jury for the case that inspired Sins of Intent.  Sins of Omission is back from the first editor and is expected in a couple weeks from the second editor.

Education

An article lists seven essential elements of a good novel.  First among those is readability, which starts with clear expression and finds ways to hold interest.  Another article starts with plot and character development.  This blog lists sixteen elements, and clarity is first.

Although our intellect always longs for clarity and certainty, our nature often finds uncertainty fascinating. ~Carl von Clausewitz

Upcoming Schedule

Aug 2
Nick
Nathan
Stacie

Aug 9
Logan
Uriah
Aime

Aug 16
Ciuin
Open slots

Aug 23
Open slots

Aug 30
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for July 26, 2018

Next Noble Pen Meeting

July 26th, 2018 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

What story scared you the most? Several authors answer.

–//–

The bake shop will sell your book.  Ask Ciuin for details.

Victories

Ciuin wrote more on CM.

Education

Many words and phrases linger in English but have become idiom because their original meaning is obsolete. Everybody knows the phrase “carbon copy,” but how many have actually used carbon paper to make a copy? For a writer, it’s a tradeoff between using phrases that carry a sense of the past versus losing readers who don’t have that history.

Someone may say they were “hung out to dry” if left alone to face a problem, but how many have hung out clothes to dry on a clothesline? Who has actually heard a “broken record” on the phonograph?Have  you bought anything that was “a dime a dozen” recently? “Don’t touch that dial,” but do you have a radio or TV upon which you can actually turn a dial? Is it bigger than a bread box?

Many other phrases never had a literal interpretation, but convey a sense of the past to those old enough to remember their use. Life used to be “swell”, but when’s the last time anything was swell, cool, far out, or neato? Gee whillikers!  Can you dig it?

There are more of these old expressions “than Carter had liver pills”. “Kilroy was here”, but he isn’t anymore. This is a fine kettle of fish! Do you look “like the wreck of the Hesperus” when you get up? Heavens to Betsy! I’ll be a monkey’s uncle! Jumpin’ Jehoshaphat! Holy moley!

You can’t bring those days back, not for all the tea in China, but you can remind people of them by using them when writing a story set in the past.  Just be careful not to lose the younger readers who aren’t familiar with them.  See ‘ya later, alligator!  Catch ya’ on the flip side.

Upcoming Schedule

Jul 26
Uriah
Aime
Ciuin

Aug 2
Nick
Open slots

Aug 9
Open slots

Aug 16
Open slots

Aug 23
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for July 19, 2018

Next Noble Pen Meeting

July 19th, 2018 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

An article discusses how romance novels have tended to ignore ethnic diversity and people with disabilities, and recent developments that widen their view.

Victories

Randy has the cover for his book, now showing the whole coffin.  He got the results back from the editor in record time.

Ciuin wrote on Chessmaster and killed a vampire.  She sold a book at the bake shop.

Nick wrote a train report.

Aime was contacted by an outfit wanting her to buy advertising for her book.

Stacie is researching humor to find what might work in her so-serious book.

Education

Sometimes you may try to write and nothing happens.  Writer’s block.  Here are some tips for getting around it.  The key is to get around it, not through it.  Don’t just stare at the page or re-write the same sentence hoping it will get better.  Do something different, whether it is to change method, location, subject, or incentive.  Write another part of the story instead.

Don’t mistake distraction for writer’s block.  If you are constantly being interrupted by messages, turn off your phone or unplug your router (Last time I checked this was NOT a crime).   There are phone apps that will disable F*ceb**k and Messanger for a prescribed length of time.

Also, don’t demand that your output be perfect.  Just write something and know you can improve it later.  Charlie Jane Anders discusses several types of block and how to deal with them in an article that also has some cool pictures.

It’s hard to find words to describe writer’s block. ~unknown

Writer’s block – when your imaginary friends won’t talk to you. ~unknown

If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word. ~Margaret Atwood

Upcoming Schedule

Jul 12
Uriah
Logan
Aime

Jul 19
Ciuin
Stacie
Logan

Jul 26
Uriah
Aime
Ciuin

Aug 2
Nick
Open slots

Aug 9
Open slots

Aug 16
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for July 12, 2018

Next Noble Pen Meeting

July 12th, 2018 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

Award-winning SF author Harlan Ellison (wikipedia) died recently at age 84.  He wrote over 1700 works, including short stories, novellas, episodes for Twilight Zone, Outer Limits, and Star Trek, and films scripts. He was sometimes called “America’s weird uncle” because of his outspoken and contentious personality and the unusual situations and portrayals in his stories.  Here’s a remembrance.

Victories

Randy did a local signing, which was a very limited success.

Education

If you self-publish, you are responsible for the “cover” art, which you hope will have entice people to buy, whether print or ebook.  There is lots of advice on line.  You can find cover-builders on line, suchas this one or this one that will let you upload images or sell you theirs.  This site shows covers that they think don’t do a good job of selling.  Some of the titles could be improved, too.  See what you think.  And here’s another collection of questionable book covers.

The “blurb” testimonials usually seen on the back covers of books are a common marketing device, intended to convince the reader that other people think it 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

Jul 12
Uriah
Logan
Aime

Jul 19
Ciuin
Stacie
Logan

Jul 26
Open slots

Aug 2
Nick
Open slots

Aug 9
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for July 5, 2018

Next Noble Pen Meeting

July 5th, 2018 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

If you aren’t politically correct, they will get you eventually.  Laura Ingalls Wilder’s name has been removed from a prestigious award because of complaints about her portrayal of Native Americans, despite those attitudes historically reflecting the society she grew up in.

Victories

Randy’s book was chosen to be read by a group and he sold 20 copies.  He has a signing at M&M Books on Saturday.

Stacie got a night by herself to write.

Education

How do you end your chapters?  Cliffhanger chapter endings give the reader an incentive to turn the page, but too many cliffhangers can make readers feel like Charlie Brown after Lucy pulls the football for the umpteenth time.

Beth Hill explains that a reader should feel that something was accomplished in the chapter so it can’t be the same conflict or danger every time.

Yet something should make them curious enough to keep reading.  Hints, partial resolutions, and new problems help.  Selecting the right sentence to end the chapter is important.  Anne R. Allen gives her take, with an example.  K.M. Weiland offers more ideas.

Upcoming Schedule

Jul 5
Nick
Stacie S.
Ciuin

Jul 12
Uriah
Logan
Aime

Jul 19
Ciuin
Open slots

Jul 26
Open slots

Aug 2
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for Jun 28, 2018

Next Noble Pen Meeting

June 28th, 2018 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

We are becoming dependent on software for more and more functions vital to our way of life, from the functioning of our cars to the delivery of electric power to homes and businesses.  A journalist looks at our vulnerability.  There’s probably a novel or a few in that idea.

Victories

Ciuin wrote more on Chessmaster.  She found two readers and at least one is a big fan.

Stacie found reader for her story.

Education

Sometimes a sentence can get a general idea across, but doesn’t precisely express what was in the writer’s mind, or is awkward to read.  Finding the right word can make for better communication.  K. M. Weiland has some advice on this.

When you are looking for that exact word, a thesaurus can be helpful, either as a book from your shelf, in your word processor, or as on-line tools.

But as Richard Nordquist warns, you have to be careful to choose that word.  Just grabbing one (or worse, more) out of the list of synonyms can leave you far off the mark if you don’t understand the nuances.  “Ann endured a tedious wait to be seen by the councilor” should not become “Ann permitted an irksome dally to be perceived by the assemblyman.”  Yet those substitutions are all synonyms in some sense.

Don’t inflate your sentences with bigger words. “Her brother brought the picnic party food in his car” could turn into “Her male sibling conveyed the outdoor celebratory comestibles in his automobile.”

Upcoming Schedule

Jun 28
Aime
Uriah
Randy

Jul 5
Nick
Stacie S.
Ciuin

Jul 12
Logan
Open slots

Jul 19
Open slots

Jul 26
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for June 21, 2018

Next Noble Pen Meeting

June 21st, 2018 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

In this on-line world, even dictionaries are getting into the action, sometimes with controversy.

Victories

Nathan wrote on a new story.

Logan read Ben Bova’s Science Fiction that Sells and learned a lot.

Education

If you are submitting to an agent or publisher, pay attention to their formatting requirements.

There are many older format styles around, some that may not have been updated since the Smith-Corona typewriter was invented.  Here’s a newer one suggested by a successful author for use when your target doesn’t have anything specific.  Here’s a checklist  summary and an even briefer list.

Upcoming Schedule

Jun 21
Logan
Ciuin
Stacie

Jun 28
Aime
Laura
Open slot

Jul 5
Nick
Open slots

Jul 12
Randy
Logan
Open slot

Jul 19
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill