Saturday, March 28, 2009

Come to the Tower

By Keith Fisher

I’m impressed. No, I’m amazed. When Annette Lyon asked me to review her new book on the blog, I readily agreed. I looked forward to another of her Temple books. I asked to be scheduled last so I would have time to read. With all the stressful moments, competing for my sanity this month, I barely touched it.

Then one day, I took my laptop to the hospital to be with my dad. I wanted to read my new book to him before he died. With visitors coming and going, I managed to get it read and he liked it. He pointed out a concept I hadn’t noticed was there, and we had our last literary discussion.

I noticed the icon representing the PDF version of Tower of Strength, opened it up, and started to read it to Dad.

I became transfixed because of the depth of the writing. Annette’s talent and word crafting skills jumped out from the pages. I thoroughly enjoyed her descriptions, and the depth of characters. She makes the reader love her character in a short few paragraphs. Even those who would not be in the story for long came fully developed on the pages.

I found myself stopping my reading to go back and reread whole paragraphs. I’m sure Dad felt like a TV viewer without the remote, trying to watch while his spouse keeps changing programs.

I didn’t get to finish reading the book to dad, but he loved what he heard. Dad' was familiar with the author’s work, and I took pride in the fact that I had an advance copy of a new book by the author of At The Water’s Edge.

I am back reading the book, and I’m pleased by the historical depictions of places where my ancestors lived, in the times when they lived there. The romantic aspects are portrayed with the magic of the human heart. I especially love the way Annette showed us the unabashed, pure love, Fred had for his wife, Tabitha.

So far, Tower of Strength is a must read. Especially, for those who are a little critical of LDS fiction. The writing is very good, and reflects the quality of many of the books being published in that market these days. You can buy a copy Here

Good luck with your writing---see you next week.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Look at the Manual

By Keith Fisher

Don’t critique it, I know it has problems. Just take a look, and I’ll tell you about it at the end. Oh, and I realize many will disagree. It’s just my humble opinion.

Jenny spent the rest of the afternoon checking with her mother, making reservations, and dinner. She purchased a greeting card, and a new dress. Got a makeover, and was waiting for Sam at the door when he got home.
"What’s going on? Where’d you get the dress?" Sam asked.
"I wanted to make the weekend special." She led him to the dining room and he stood there, staring in the direction of the table.
She had set out her grandmother’s china and crystal. Candles were burning, and she’d thought of everything for a romantic dinner.
"What’s all this? Did I miss a birthday or something?"
Jenny frowned and shook her head. "No, you didn’t forget anything. I just wanted a romantic weekend."
He looked skeptical. "Where are the kids?"
"They’re at my mom and dad's. We have the whole weekend to ourselves."
Sam looked around the room. "What did you have in mind?"
"Well, dinner tonight. Then, drive south tomorrow morning. I have reservations at a bed and breakfast."
He scowled. "And how do you plan to pay for it?"

As I’ve said before, I’m writing a romance and this is part of a scene from my book. What did you think? I bet the women nodded their heads and saw similarities between Sam and someone they know. I also bet the men either missed the point or they skipped over it. After all, Sam works hard all day only to come home and find out the wife spent all the money.

Whether you identify with Sam or you despise him, depends on your perspective and in large part, your gender. I’m learning a lot from my characters and I discovered a secret.

Guys? If you want to learn to be romantic, read what your wife or girlfriend is reading. Talk to her about it. Listen closely. Don’t add your opinion. Realize that not every male character is realistic, and apply the good things to your life. Try to emulate what she likes in a character. Before long, you might find that she is a lot like the women in the book. Hopefully, you will realize that she always was.

Girls? Try to realize your man is trying to understand you. He is the same guy he always was he’s just confused. He’ll come around. If he’s like Sam, you might have to hit him over the head (not literally please). Mostly he doesn’t know he’s done something wrong. Above all, don’t compare him to the leading man in your book. He can try, but he might never become that character. Encourage the good things and try to overlook the bad.

Good luck in your romance and your writing---see you next week.

P.S. Next week I will Review Tower of Strength by Annette Lyon. I think you will like it.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Hank Did it, You Can Too

By Keith Fisher

Do you remember Hank Williams? I’m not talking about Jr. I’m talking about the original? Hank was a country music singer/songwriter in the nineteen fifties. He sang with a kind of whining tone that was popular in the type of music he played.

He wrote some good lyrics that are still used by musicians today, but its how those lyrics came to be written that I want to write about.

There is a story about the song, Kaw-Liga that expresses my point. Now as I understand it, and you’ll have to check on my accuracy, Hank was staying with friends, associates, and drinking buddies in a cabin in the hills. Hank had been keeping pretty much to himself and in a reflective mood.

After a day or two, they ran out of liquor and took a car to get some. On the way back home, Hank was riding in the front seat of the car. He said that the woods surrounding the cabin did something to him. That the feel of the place got him thinking and he suddenly hit the dashboard and followed with the rhythmic drum-beat that is prevalent throughout the song. He started singing his lyrics and borrowed a pen and paper to write them down.

You can take many of the other songs written by him, and tell the story of his life. All of his hurt, Joy and fears are expressed in his lyrics. Of course, he didn’t write some of the songs he sang, but he lived the words.

The point here is Hank listened to his heart and wrote what he found there. He used life’s ups and downs and made music many people could, and do, relate to. We as writers can take a lesson from that.

As many of you know, I have been spending a lot of time lately in the hospital sitting with my dying father. While walking down the hall of ICU one-day I had to stop, listen and breathe in the air around me. This was a scene I had tried to describe in one of my stories once. I didn’t get it wrong but there were certain details I had missed. The rhythmic beep, beep, beep of a monitor, the sound of a respirator as it breathes for the patient, the smell of the antiseptic dispensed from the containers lining the walls.

I wrote it down, and I’ll use it in a story someday. About three weeks ago, I sat in an armchair in the public library, waiting for my daughter to choose her books. People of all walks of life passed by. Some were in a hurry, some not. Some of them were dragging kids along. Others stopped to peruse the books on sale tables. I watched them all, made my judgements and cataloged them in my mind as characters in future books.

In another story, I'll take my current experiences, draw from my feelings and lay it out for a reader to feel. Like Hank, my life can be told in what I write. Many people tell me they would love to be a writer but they wouldn’t know what to write about. I’m going to start telling them to look around, pay attention, feel the moment, and use your senses. Then tell others about it. The craft of writing can be learned as you go but if you really want to write, start listening and pay attention.

Good luck in your writing---see you next week.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Don't Be Shy---You Are What You Are

By Keith Fisher

I know it’s presumptuous of me to say, but I’m a writer. It’s okay though, because Webster’s Dictionary says this:
Pronunciation: \’rī-ter\
Function: noun
Date: before 12th century
: One that writes

I spend hours in solitude, doing what is called writing. Again, we consult Webster’s:
Main Entry: writing
Function: noun
Date: 13th century
1: the act or process of one who writes: as a: the act or art of forming visible letters or characters; specifically: handwriting 1 b: the act or practice of literary or musical composition
2: something written: as a: letters or characters that serve as visible signs of ideas, words, or symbols b: a letter, note, or notice used to communicate or record c: a written composition d: inscription
3: a style or form of composition
4: the occupation of a writer especially: the profession of authorship.

Don’t hesitate to tell people. It doesn’t matter if you’re published or not, you are a writer. There are hundreds of people who would love to write, like you do, but they let other things prevent them. Be proud of the fact that you have made the commitment. Be proud of the fact that you can create. Be proud of your work.

I am spending time with my family this week, but I have been filling my notebook. This story pulls at me and won’t let me take a break from it. Each time one of my aunts, uncles, or cousins ask, "What are you doing now?" I tell them I’m a writer during the day, and I work full time at night on my other job.

One thing about it, though, explaining my stories is helping me develop my elevator pitches. You know---the thirty-second speech you deliver to a publisher? The one that makes them buy your book?

Good luck in your writing---see you next week.