Saturday, June 30, 2012

Place bookmark here . . .

By Keith N Fisher

I worked last night and didn’t get my blog written. I don’t have a title either. I suppose the world won’t end because I don’t post, but it might.

As we approach the two hundred and thity-sixth anniversary of the United States, let me wish you the best holiday ever. Hopefully, you will not get discouraged like I have. Try to see the good in the world and get along with your brothers and sisters. Everyone has differing opinions and beliefs.

Share a kindness with others and it will come back to you. May God bless those who’ve suffered loss during this early fire season. Be safe, have fun, and help others.

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

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Don’t Fore-Slash Me

By Keith N Fisher

I reached an impasse with my work in progress this week. You might remember I’ve been working on a suspense novel, and it became too hard. I’ve had trouble keeping the intensity up, so I put it aside for now and went back to The Only Key, a mystery I started about six years ago.

It was wonderful to revisit the characters and figure out how to fix the problems that I left. A few years ago, I entered this story in a first chapter contest and it didn’t do well. To be fair to the contest, they didn’t have a mystery category, they had a mystery/suspense category.

As you might’ve guessed, the judge who gave it the lowest score commented on the level of suspense. It wasn’t intense enough. I argued that is was a mystery, not to be confused with anything Stephen King would write.

Then again, there seems to be a prevalent appetite for intensity in the media these days.

The whole experience made me consider the fore-slash and how we often combine genres. My colleagues have written about the combination of genres lately, and I don’t mean to tear down what they wrote, but I’m writing a mystery, plain and simple. Will readers judge it poorly due to lack of suspense?

Normally I write women’s fiction. Basically defined, I write stories about women, for women to read. Each story might have romantic elements, but I don’t write romance. Yes, the contest, I mentioned, also has a romance/women’s fiction category.

My suspense project is women’s fiction with very little romance, and my mystery is not women’s fiction, but there are romantic elements. Does that mean I can’t enter them in the contest?

I suppose genre purists will always be a problem in contests like that, and I’m not really complaining. It’s just that, working on, The Only Key, reminded me of my contest experience so I wrote about it. Maybe next week I’ll write about social media and protecting your professional image. Then again, maybe not.

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

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Teaching Yourself the Craft

By Keith N Fisher

My grandmother made wedding cakes. It was one of the many ways my grandparents made a living together. Grandpa was a hard working farmer and traveling salesman. Grandma was a hard working farmers wife and cake maker.

At one time, grandma had the recommendation of caterers and wedding planners. Some of her business came through word of mouth and she had several portfolio picture books brides could look through in order to make decisions.

I’m not sure when the world turned to fondant, but my grandmother decorated the old fashioned way. She sat for hours with frosting bags making string loops. She made frosting roses with the speed of a machine. Each cake was a work of art. She was master of her craft.

Grandma made wedding cakes for all of her older grandkids, as well as her nieces and nephews. Many times she would have four huge cakes going at once in different stages, and we had great conversations while she worked on them.

As far as I know, Grandma never had any formal training in her craft. She taught herself how to make the decorations. My grandma got started when her grandma didn’t have time to make the cake for a family wedding. She asked my grandma to make it and nobody knew until years later. After that, grandma learned from the work of others and taught herself an enviable craft.

You don’t see many wedding cakes these days, decorated in the old ways. Fondant and plastic are the mediums of choice. Even the applesauce and spice cakes have given way to other kinds. It still takes time and a little talent to master the craft, but I think the world has lost a beautiful art form through evolution and lack of knowledge.

The writing craft is like any form of art. Even with formal training, the artisans must practice and teach themselves to form words and place them in a coherent and meaningful way.

Learning the craft of writing is simple. Just glean what you can from others, then sit down and practice. In the book, Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell claims it takes ten thousand hours of practice to become perfect in everything. How many words does that convert to?

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

Saturday, June 9, 2012

It Happened Again

By Keith N Fisher

What is your favorite time of year? Summer, with all it’s splendor and outdoor living? Winter is nice, because of Christmas and snow sports. The fall colors can be beautiful, and relief from summer heat, makes Autumn nice, too. I like Spring. Even with an iffy year like we’ve had, the relief from Winter’s grasp and the newness of life, is a wonder to behold.

Have you ever balanced an egg on end? You can do it during the moment of the equinox. I wanted to see if it was possible, so I took an egg to work several years ago. We tried and tried just before the appointed time. It just wouldn’t stay up.

Suddenly, at the exact time, the egg stayed up. We took a picture. (It didn’t turn out. A white egg on a white counter.) It was truly amazing.

Such is our life on Mother Earth. There are wonders to behold, right in front of our eyes and we don’t see them. Many people, over time, attached mystical significance to those events. Like in 1833, A meteor shower lit up the night sky. Many of the Cheyenne who gathered at Bent’s Fort in Colorado thought it was a sign of the end of the world. Chief White Thunder saw it as a new beginning and made peace with his enemies.

Many of us, recently, were witnesses to two celestial events that could’ve been interpreted much the same way, if nineteenth century Native Americans could’ve seen it. Thanks to modern mass media, we are witnesses to many wonders. We also, see many troubling things such as war and natural disasters. We can choose to interpret it like the ancient people did, or we can enjoy the good moments we have.

On Facebook, one day, I posted the slogan used by BYU TV, (Channel 11-2 for those on the antenna). Their slogan is, See the Good In the World. I mentioned it, because I had grown weary of all the negative that people dwell on. It’s so easy to get caught up. Between political viewpoints, disease, and disaster, it is hard to see the wonders our planet offers.

I admit, I’m one of the negative ones, but its destroying my health, not to mention my sanity.

So, I implore you, for your own sanity, take the advice of the slogan and see the good in the world. Good is easy to find in the warmth and beauty of a newborn child, being witness to an act of service, and the beauty and splendor of spring.

For many years our ancestors prayed incessantly that winter would be replaced by spring, that rain would come, and seeds would grow. When those prayers were answered, those people were so grateful, they celebrated. How many of us celebrate Spring? Our faith tells us life will change, wars will increase, disasters will come. People will suffer, but this year, I’m grateful for green grass, and leaves on trees.

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

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Chapter Twenty

By Keith N Fisher

It’s been a busy week. I’m sure you could say the same, but I’ve lost track of what day it is. Well, I know it’s Saturday because Gaynell posted yesterday. I worked nine hours last night at the place where I began my convenience store career. It was like walking down the halls of my Jr. High School as an adult.

On Thursday, we cooked for the faculty and staff of Foothill Elementary. I haven’t cooked in Dutch ovens for that many people in a year and I had to remember how to make some things.

On Wednesday night, I had the ladies from my critique group over. I had to load the Dutch oven stuff into the truck and they figured it would be best to have critique at my house. I read chapter twenty from Star Crossed. It has been a while since I’d seen this chapter and there was a brief moment when I got lost.

After the ladies left, I sat there thinking about all the projects I have finished. Star Crossed is waiting for critique, but The Hillside is at the publisher’s, The sequel to The Hillside is waiting until I know the status of the Hillside. Currently, I’m writing Shadow Boxing, and looking into resurrecting some old manuscripts.

While reading one of them, I realized how much my writing had changed. Yes, I’m a better writer now, mostly because of the aforementioned ladies, but I also write differently. Like working in the old store, walking through the pages of Eternal Tapestries was familiar, but intimidating. Reading chapter twenty brought me back to my state of mind while writing it. Cooking, although the threat of screwing up was intimidating, It’s a skill that will always come back to serve me.

Writing well, is a skill that cannot be learned. We must continue to improve or die trying. The editor in all of us balks at something that doesn’t sound right. If we wrote it, we cringe and fix it according to our current skill level. We read other writer’s work and glean tricks and skills from them. I read chapter twenty and noticed a few places that needed fixing.

May we never think we are the best writer we could be. Good luck with your writing---see you next week.