GET STARTED ON YOUR NOVEL

No more prevaricating.  You’ve had the idea for a long time, so let’s get dow to work.

 

Before you start, make a realistic timetable.  Then stick to it.  Most pages are 250 words and aim to write 5 pages a day.  A book is around 500 pages, so in theory it should take 100 days.  But to be realistic, you know that you are not going to write every day – if you can manage 20 pages a week, you are doing well.  Add to that another 10 weeks of planning.  If you are conscientious, you can do it in 49 weeks.

Once  you start writig, don’t pause for punctuation or too much analysis – this will be your first draft and you can fine-tune it later, after the real work is over.  To get the dialogue right, listen to everyone – I eavesdrop shamelessly on buses and trains,  I once overheard a lad aged about 17 tell  his mother “Well, if I can’t get married, I’m going to buy a motorbike.”  Sadly they alighted before I heard her reply.

 

When the people in your book speak , try to hear their voices in your head.  Pretend you are listening at the door, and somehow it comes easier.  I usually make my characters  people I would like to meet, but there has to be a sprinkling of rotten apples as well.  There should also be strong, brave people who make the right decisions and don’t abandon friends or loves or duty.

 

If you pretend they are real people, they will become so.  Give your characters lots of clothes , records, pets and hobbies – even though you don;t mention them all in your book, somehow the characters will be more believable. Don’t let the heroes and heroines be sickeningly good; nor the villains completely evil.  Write what you know about, ad you will be on safe ground.  Write in your own voice – that way, you won’t be pretentious.

 

And finally, keep to your timetable. Start editing and polishing your first draft.  If you don’t have a publisher or agent, the horrible business of rejection will probably start.  But stick with it  – those who quit are leaving  the coast open for those of us who stick with it.  When you do get a pubisher, they will probably suggest changes to the title or ask you to change certain scenes – listen to them … theyare in the business and know what they are talking about.

Finally, when you write about  ordinary people – remember, nobody is really ordinary if you know where to look.  We are all heroes of our own life story.  Watch strangers’ faces – everyone has some kind of a dream, a hope, a plan.  No one is uninteresting.  Believe that, and you will never be without a plot, a character, or indeed an interesting life.

 

I am always happy to hear from you.  Be in touch if you have difficulty finding any of my 13 books.  My novel “Autumn Blessing” is available asan e-book, published by Prism Pu8bishers in USA . Happy writing!

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I’M A BLOG-SPOTTER TODAY

Although I am very limited in my computer abilities, co-authors with my e-book publisher, Prism Books, seem to have faith that I can do this (they have more confidence in me than I do.)  I am supposed to answer 4 questions, and then recommend 3 more authors. I’m willing to give it a try.

  1. What are you working on”  I am working on my 14th novel, called “Searching for Sarah.” Although it’s completely fiction, it is based on something that happened to me about 20 years ago, when I rented an artist’s studio for a short time on a rooftop in Jerusalem.  I found a painting, unsigned, that had been left behind of a young woman, very sad, looking through a window.  I became obsessed with her  story; and in my novel my heroine sets out to find her because she feels an inexplicable affinity to her.
  2. How does your work differ from others in its genre?  I don’t think it fits into any particular genre – it is very spiritual, has some romance, but is hard to categorize.
  3. Why do you write what you do?  In 1974 I was in a terrorist attack in Jerusalem, where 15 people died and 35 lost limbs.  I felt I had been spared for a reason – and God had a job for me. Since then, most of my writing has had a spiritual element; a lot of it has been set in Jerusalem and I try to use my talent for good.
  4. How does your writing process work?  I have been writing since I was first published as a child aged 7.  I’m now 83, and not a day goes by that I don’t write something.  I have never had writer’s block – all the words are there waiting. I am sure I won’t live long enough to write all the things I want to.  I feel very blessed  that I actually get paid for doing what I most love in life.

I have picked the next 3 authors to answer the same questions.

MISTY RUSSON is a writer of romance and romantic suspense , whose characters face extreme circumstances with faith and good humor.  She also loves photographing nature – especially the sky.  She truly appreciates God’s magnificent handiwork . Read her post next week at : http:/mistymusings4u.blogspot.com/2014/05/dont-forget-to-check-out-diamond-mine.html

AMBER SCHAMEL writes wonderfully vivid historical fiction , bringing to life characters from Biblical and other times. Her words are a treat to read.  Read her answers next week at: http/amberschamel.blogspot.com

LINDA WOLF is a wordsmith of many talents.She is a writer, proof-reader, editor and teacher. Enjoy her blogposts on her writing process as well as other insightful thoughtson her life and faith at: http./belonging2all.wordpress.com

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Seven Tips to Unlock Your Creativity

Every writer’s aim is to write a good article or book that people want to read.  Virginia Woolf in her famous book “A Room of One’s Own” wrote:  “So long as you write what you wish to write, that is all that matters; and whether it matters for ages or only for hours, nobody can say.”

1. Many of my Creative Writing students used to tell me their problem was tme.  You can find time, even if you have to make a few sacrifices – giving up a favorite TV show; missing out on a coffee date …. even if you can only manage a page a day, in a year you’ve written a novel.  Find the time of day and the location that is comfortable and inspiring for you. There’s a saying: “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago.  The second-best time is now” – so don’t prevaricate.  You don’t need any fancy equipment- it didn’t exist when some of the greatest literature was written.  A pen and paper will do the job.

 

2.  It’s tempting to wait for the Muse to strike, but it’s up to you to make ideas happen – they won’t fall from the sky. You can be a people-watcher; or you can daydream,  Evey family has a story to tell; newspapers and magazines are full of potential stories – hone in on current affairs, celebrities, in fact any aspect of our culture.  Many newspaper stories can capture your imagination – just say “what if…”

 

3.  The number of genres , all the different styles and forms, prose, poetry and drama; different age groups, genders, backgrounds – at times it can overwhelm you.  The best place to start is simply write what you like to read.

 

4.  They say beginnings are easy and endings are hard- in my 13 books, I’ve found this to be true. You can start a novel, but keeping going and completing it takes discipline and dedication.  You have the option of a closed ending where all the loose ends are tied up, or an open ending where possibilities for the characters stretch out into an unwritten future – your characters will guide you what to choose.  When they have solved their major problems and moved on, ready to start a new phase in life, that’s when you should stop too.

 

5.  Characters are the most important part of your book, and plot is only what the characters will do in a given situation.  Fiction means making things up, including your characters. When it comes to the hero or heroine, it is essential to feel affection for them, even though they should have some fault and weaknesses.  I’ve heard that all stories are written twice – once by the author and once by the reader.  The reader’s reaction to a character might differ from yours, but that is fine. It means that your characters are believable.   Create situations for your characters that will increase their conflicts.  Give them secrets. Give them a quest to find something, and adventures along the way

6. Make your readers care,   This is where you can indulge your own emotions.  We all need love in our livs so our characters can find it, lose it and have many complications.  Hate and jeaousy can also be emotions that drive a plot.  Many plots hang on a moral dilemma  – so let your imagination have full range and let your readers ride along on your characters’ emotional journeys.

 

7.  There are 3 different levels of conflict for your story:  Inner conflict is the first, where the character wants two conflicting things in life.  The second is conflict with other people. Your character can have a problem that other people rarely agree with him.  The third type is where the character is in conflict with society,  Your story must have shape – a beginning, a middle and an ending.  Keep the plot plausible, but never predictable.  Try to build tension and make the reader anxious to know what will happen next.  Many writers, myself included, do not enjoy cuttng, reshaping and reworking, but it may very well be the most creative stage of the whole writing process. The reward is sometimes you’ll rewrite a sentence and be amazed that it actually came from you.  Find fresh, imaginative alternatives to any cliches that may have crept in.

Tell yourself every day “I am a writer” and savour the thrill, the sense of accomplishment and the satisfaction that is a kind of therapy, for your creativity can make the world a better place.

The world needs dreamers – be one of them!

If you need help with your writing, contact me – and if you want to read some of my books, be in touch with me.  Contact details are above , both in Books and About Me.  I enjoy hearing your comments.

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Setting Enhances Your Story

Every time you begin a story, you open a doorway into a new world.  If you want readers to step in with you, then you must make that world believable.  I am lucky – and privileged – to live in Jerusalem and I have used that setting many times in my fiction, articles and poetry.   You don’t always need a full description – sometimes a well-known landmark that is easily recognizable, such as the Eiffel Tower in Paris, will take the reader where you want them to go, immediately.

Using the senses is another way to get readers quickly to the place you want them to envisage. The smell of burning rubber at the scene of an accident; or the pungent odor of disinfectant will take their imagination straight to a hospital.  The noise of a crowd cheering sets the scene at a sporting event; or the irritating drip of a leaky faucet conjures up a cold water flat. You can introduce the acrid taste of smoke in a burning building;  salt water spray on the lips lets them know they are near the ocean.

When you invite guests into your home, you try to create a dominant impression of the way you live.  Proper use of setting can do the same for you as a writer.  The proper use of atmosphere suggests to readers how they should react to fiction.  Effective writers use it to play on readers’ emotions.  When you enter a home, you form an impression of its occupant. Setting suggests a great deal about characters’ personalities.  It is particularly important to characterization if you are writing in the first person.  The things you choose to have your narrator notice in the setting often lets your reader know a lot more about the character than he knows about himself.  In some fiction, the desert often has a life of its own.  So can a swamp, or a rain forest.

Setting can serve you well as a tool in fiction writing.  When you read over a scene and feel something is missing, don’t overlook this important element.

I am always happy to hear your comments, or to be of help if you are having writing problems.

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Food Writing for Profit

I think of it as “getting my just desserts”, for writing about food can be very profitable. All women’s  magazines as well as the week-end pages of most newspapers have regular columns that feature recipes that celebrate the different seasons of the year; as well as all kinds of religious and national holidays.  With Summer approaching in the Northern Hemisphere, the accent is on foods for hot days.  Here’s an article I wrote last year that was published in USA.

So look out your own favorite recipes that might feature in some magazine this Summer:

 

GETTING YOUR JUST DESSERTS

THE SWEETS OF SUMMER

Think lazy summer days.  Think warm evenings under a star-strewn sky.  Think entertaining friends.  Think luscious fruits,  the chill of ice-cream on your tongue,  party desserts to temptyour palate.  It’s time to be adventurous and try some wonderful summer puddings and desserts,

When the mercury soars, making a fancy dessert can seem like a tall order.  The solution is to do most of the work in the cool of the morning or the night before.  Finish the preparation at the last minute and present it with a flourish.

There are a few tips you should keep in mind before you try out the recipes.  Egg whites for souffles and meringues should always be beaten at room temperature, the eggs removed from the refrigerator 2 hours before beating.  They should be fresh, and when you separate the whites, make sure not a speck of yolk gets in.  One fool-proof method is to break the egg into a saucer, covering the yolk with half an eggshell.  Tilt the saucer, pouring off the whites into a clean, dry bowl and use dry beaters.  Add a pinch of salt to the whites before beating.

The success of making good cold and frozen puddings often depends on using gelatine (all supermarkets sell a kosher version). Stir it into COLD liquid and only afterwards add to hot mixture.  When turning out a frozen pudding, wring out a towel in hot water and hold it over the mould for a few seconds … it will then slide out easily.  Egg custards should never be allowed to boil. Cook on very low heat or in a double boiler, stirring all the time.

So let’s get started!

 

AMBROSIA (Party Fruit Salad)

6 oranges; 2 red apples; 1 small tin pineapple rings; 3 bananas; a few cherries; 1/2 cup sugar; 1/2 cup liqueur or sweet sherry; 1 cup chilled, whipped cream, plus other fruits in season such as peaches, plums, mangoes.

Peel and remove skin from oranges. Slice  unpeeled apples into thin rings.  Peel and slice bananas. Cover apples and bananas with lemon juice to avoid discoloration. Drain pineapples, remove stones from cherries and halve.  In a pretty glass dish, layer the fruit, sprinkling each layer with a teaspoon of sugar. Reserve cherries for the top. To the pineapple syrup, add liqueur or sherry and pour over the fruit.  Cover tightly and chill overnight. Serve with cream which is passed around separately in a bowl.  Ambrosia was the name for the nectar of the gods … when you’ve tasted this, you’ll understand why.

 

MIXED BERRY COBBLERS

6 cups mixed berries (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries fresh or frozen); 1 tsp. grated lemon  zest; 1 tabs. lemon juice;  2/3 cup sugar; 1/4 cup instant tapioca.

BISCUIT TOPPING:  1 cup flour; 2 tabs. wheat germ; 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder; pinch salt; 1/4 cup chilled unsalted butter cut into small pieces; 1/2 cup milk; I egg white lightly beaten; 1 tabs. sugar.

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

BERRY FILLING: Mix berries, lemon zest and juice; sugar and tapioca in large bowl until well combined. Let stand 15 mins.  Spoon a scant 1 cup of mixture into each of 6 one-cup ramekins.  Place on baking sheet.  Bake for 20 minutes or  until bubbly.

BISCUIT TOPPING:  Stir together flour, wheat germ, baking powder and salt in medium-size bowl.  Cut in butter with 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in milk.

(The dough will be sticky).

Remove baking sheet with ramekins from the oven. Gently stir the filling in each ramekin. Drop a scant 1/4 cup of dough over each ramekin, brushing the dough with egg white. Sprinkle with sugar.  Return to the oven, and bake a further  20 minutes until topping is golden.  Serve the ramekins warm, topped with whipped cream or icecream.

 

APPLE SPONGE PUDDING

4 large cooking apples; 2 sticks cinnamon; 4 tabs. sugar; 300 gm. stale cake;  1/2 cup thick, whipped cream.

Cut up the peeled apples and cook with the cinnamon and a little water until soft.  Grate the cake or crumble to crumbs. In a glass dish, put a thin layer of mashed apple, sprinkle with sugar and cover with a layer of cake crumbs.  Continue until all the cake and apples are used up. Spread cream smoothly on top and chill. Serve very cold.

 

CHOCOLATE MOUSSE (Uncooked)

250 gm. plain chocolate; 4 eggs; 4 tablespoons sherry or sweet red wine.

Cup chocolate into small pieces and melt over hot water.  Separate whites and yolks from eggs.  Beat yolks thickly and stir into chocolate until blended.  Add a pinch of salt to the whites and beat till very stiff. Fold into chocolate mixture with sherry . Spoon into glass dishes and chill. This is a rich, delicious pudding that needs no cooking.

 

PINEAPPLE SUPREME

1 large pineapple; 1 cup brown sugar; 2 tablespoons rum; 2 tabs. butter; 1 cup whipped, sweetened cream.

Slice off pineapple top to make a “lid”. Trim base so that the pineapple stands upright. Scoop out flesh and cut into pieces, removing core.  Sweeten with sugar and rum, then put mixture back into shell. Dot top with pieces of butter and wrap pineapple in foil.  Wrap “lid” separately in foil.  Stand upright on baking sheet and bake in hot oven for 1 hour.  Remove foil and cover with “lid”.  Place pineapple on serving dish and serve cream or icecream separately.

 

GRAPE-PINEAPPLE ICE-CREAM  (Parve)

1 cup grape juice; 1/2 cup drained, crushed pineapple; 1/4 cup lemon juice; 1/2 cup sugar; 1/2 cup pineapple syrup; 1/2 cup water.

Heat water and sugar until sugar dissolves completely. In  large bowl combine all ingredients and stir well.  Pour into ice-trays and freeze hard.  Remove to chilled bowl and beat 1 minute until fluffy and light. Return to trays and freeze 3 hours. Serve in chilled glasses topped with fresh mint leaves.  A cooling, refreshing dessert ideal for those who suffer from  lactose intolerance, or to serve after meat.


 

You will find food writing am excellent way to build up a portfolio of your work and to make your freelancing profitable when you are running out of ideas for new articles.

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A Writer’s Life

There was a question that I heard many times from students: “How do I know if I have what it takes to really be a writer?”

There are two qualities you need to succeed as a writer – the first is talent, the second is determination. No, its more than determination, its compulsion. Writing must be such an integral part of your life that if you are breathing, you are writing.

Talent is a gift and you will know if you possess it. It enables you to share your eyes so that readers see what you are seeing. More than that, you share your other senses too, enabling them to hear, smell, taste and touch the world you have created for them. If your words speak to them and you can make them feel joy and pain, smile and weep, feel empathy and compassion, then you are a talented writer.

But it is no good being talented if your words don’t reach others. Thats where the determination comes in. All writers face rejection, often on a fairly regular basis. Don’t give in to despair and depression, you must search until you find the perfect match the idea you want to write and the correct medium in which to express it.

Writing is only half the job, selling is equally important. Craft magazines such as The Writer in U.S.A. or Writing Magazine in the U.K and of course Poets and Writers are invaluable tools to find markets for your work, as is reading (and studying) as many papers and magazines as you can. You should look for the age group they are aimed at, the income level (their ads. will tell you that) and the problems and special interests of their target audience. If you know, for example, of a problem shared by many in that group, and you have a solution for it, your article will be a sure winner, whether its on: How to make your salary stretch further or How to prevent your kids trying drugs.

When I undertake a major project such as a book (I have published thirteen ), I give myself periodic encouragement rewards. The length of time needed to complete a book can be awesome, so during its writing I submit short stories (if Im writing a novel) or magazine articles (if its non-fiction). These are much easier to sell and the temporary triumphs are confidence-boosters that provide the stamina to keep working on the much longer projects.

Even with submitting articles, I don’t invest time in writing and researching the whole piece until Ive sent out a few query letters. Only when an editor, without obligation, indicates that he/she is interested in my idea, do I complete the work. However, I do make my query letters as creative as I can and give the projected article a title as irresistible as I can make it.

As a teacher of Creative Writing for over 30 years, I tell my students that the only way they will never be rejected is never to submit anything. Then I remind them that every achievement in life begins with the two small words: I’ll try.

If I can help you with any of your problems , write to me at dwaysman@gmail.com or any of the contact addresses in About Me – just click on it at the top of the Blog on the right-hand side. My books are available also by contacting me and I’ll make sure you receive them. Happy writing!

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Writing About Nature

Most writers are very much in touch with Nature and all its nuances, I find, because to be a writer you need to be sensitive, observant and aware of the seasons as they change. If you look up nature magazines in the countries where you live, you will probably find quite a few who are open to freelancers. Although I live in Israel, I was able to sell the following to a bird-watching magazine in USA a few years ago. If you have an experience like mine, and can write it up in a caring way, you should also be able to place it.

BREAKFAST WITH THE BIRDS

by DVORA WAYSMAN

My morning rendez-vous with the birds on the balcony of my Jerusalem home began many years ago, when I first met my son-in-law’s mother, a Holocaust survivor. At the time, bread was highly subsidized in Israel, very cheap and many people threw it out when it became a day-old. She told me how a crust of bread often meant the difference between life and death in the Auschwitz concentration camp, and she would beg her neighbors to give her what they didn’t want. What she couldn’t transform into breadcrumbs, she would take down the street to a place near her home in Yavne, a small development town, where there were donkeys, and she’d feed it to them.

There are no donkeys in Beit Hakerem, the Jerusalem suburb where I live, but I never forgot her words and since then could never throw away a piece of bread. So I decided to feed the birds, putting out the crusts and stale slices every morning on my back balcony where I grow my herbs. For most of the year, when it’s sunny, that’s where we eat breakfast and now the birds come and breakfast with us every day. At 6 a.m., there are one or two sitting in the branches of a tree below our balcony. They know me now they twitter a few notes, and soon there are thirty or more different birds coming magically from surrounding trees, waiting to partake of their breakfast. For me, feeding God’s creatures is like a song of praise to the Creator, and they repay me with birdsong.

I have read that there are 470 species of birds that visit Israel through the seasons. Very few regions in the world can boast of so great a variety within such a small geographical area. The reason for this wealth of birdlife is that we are situated at the meeting-point of three continents: Europe, Asia and Africa. Israel is also located along one of the migration routes of Eurasian birds, forming almost the only land bridge between the Mediterranean and the Arabian deserts. Birds visit on their way south to Africa in the autumn and back north again to Europe and Asia in the spring.

I don’t think many of my birds are visitors, because they come back every day no matter what the weather is, so they must mostly be resident birds. The little brown birds that send a message to the other’s as they watch for me to open the door to my balcony every morning are wrens.

Each one takes a tiny portion sometimes just a few crumbs and either eats it on the ledge or flies back with a piece in its mouth to a nest hidden in some nearby tree. Then come a few sparrows, which seem to congregate in flocks and like each others company while they dine. If I’m lucky, a lark will come, and sing me a song of gratitude after his breakfast. The turtle doves should be arriving soon and will stay until the summer is over. I love to hear their deep-throated cooing. Last year they made a nest on the ledge outside my study. They laid three eggs. The mother sat on them, and her mate brought her food regularly in his beak (as a good husband should). I watched every day for the eggs to hatch and finally they did. I didn’t open my study window all summer for fear of frightening them away, but they soon learned to fly and were gone. I am hoping they will remember and come to nest again.

Near the bread, I also put out a container of water, and many of them appreciate this either to drink, or they land right in it and have a bath. The most unusual bird that has come to visit so far, I identified through a picture in a book as a Red-throated Pipit. It is about 15 cms long, a wingspan of 27 cms. The throat is russet brown and so is the breast. I found out it comes from northern Scandinavia, and it turned up one winter morning. Then it disappeared for a few months and came back in the spring. I don’t know if it was the same one, but I like to think it was, that it had enjoyed my hospitality and remembered my balcony.

It is very therapeutic to make a special place in your home where you can enjoy nature, whether it be birdlife, flowers, herbs or trees. No matter how elegant or comfortable the interior, make a spot on a balcony where you can overlook a garden or trees if you don’t have your own. There you will find beauty and stillness, free from noise and distractions. It is very calming to take time to meditate, watch a sunset or in autumn the leaves turning gold. And remember the lovely Chinese proverb: Keep a green tree in your heart and perhaps the singing bird will come.

If you would like to buy any of my books (The Pomegranate Pendant; Seeds of the Pomegranate; In A Good Pasture; My Long Journey Home; Woman of Jerusalem etc.) please be in touch with me and I will arrange it. I understand my e-book published by Prism “Autumn Blessing” is now available at sale price from Amazon.

I am always happy to receive your comments. Write on!

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