Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Drenching Texas

Unprecedented Flooding in Texas Gulf Coast

I like to have fun on this blog but today is different. Today, people are crying. Therefore, I'm giving this week over to re-posting DiAnn Mills. You will be moved.
Visit DiAnn's page and sign up for her blogs. She's an excellent writer and shares her knowledge.

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Hi Burton, in the 08/29/2017 edition of DiAnn's Desk:

Houston, We Have a Problem


By DiAnn Mills @DiAnnMills
Houston and most of the Texas Gulf Coast has a problem, and it’s called Harvey. On Friday night, the category 4 storm slammed into Port Aransas and Port O’Connor, Texas. According to the National Hurricane Center, Harvey brought winds of 130 mph. Here’s how it looked, courtesy of NOAA/NASA, when it was approaching. At the time this image was taken, it had maximum sustained winds of only 110 mph.
Much of the media coverage has been about Houston, the fourth largest city in the country and my home. We’ve been pelted by catastrophic rain bands, breaking records and hearts with its devastation. Fifteen trillion gallons of water have been dumped onto our city, and it will not recede for days. Seems like a record number of Tornado warnings have been issued, one after another urging those in the whirlwind path to take shelter.
In this writing, I’m looking out my kitchen window watching the incessant rain. My husband and I have been blessed with only minor issues, and we are looking forward to helping others if only in a small way. None of us wanted the distinction of experiencing the worst flooding in US history. This article gives the stats: http://www.foxbusiness.com/features/2017/08/28/harvey-by-numbers.html
Houston, We have a Problem
Where do people flee when they’re unable to leave their homes due to water-filled streets? How can victims be helped when 911 appears non responsive as the emergency service is experiencing unprecedented calls? The answer is the many brave men and women, both local and those from outside the region, who are able stepped up to the challenge arriving with boats in tow. This map shows just some of the road closures as of this writing. We’re near the blue dot in upper left-hand corner.
The countless heroic stories surfacing above the dirty water confirm my faith in humanity. Although I could never list the thousands of heroes emerging from their circumstances to help others, I invite you to see read some of their stories here. https://www.houstoniamag.com/articles/2017/8/27/the-heroes-of-hurricane-harvey
Otis, the dog who left his home near Corpus Christi has become a symbol of the Texas Spirit. https://www.theblaze.com/news/2017/08/27/viral-photo-shows-hero-dog-personifying-the-texas-spirit-amid-hurricane-harvey/
The Red Cross, the National Guard, food banks, many churches, and individuals are working around the clock to assist victims. Here’s a partial list of those organizations who are accepting donations. I encourage you to explore the various entities. https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2017/8/27/16211642/hurricane-harvey-donations-charities-disaster-relief
Southern Baptists are well known nationally for their Disaster Response teams. Our church is partnering with the state level Disaster Relief team. You can partner and make a donation with them here.

Most of all, we thank you for your continued prayers for all those impacted by the storms.  May God’s peace be extended in a powerful way.

DiAnn Mills

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Are Literary Agents Anti-Writers?

A good likeness of Murgalump Kneffle

Are Literary Agents Anti-Writers and Pro-Publishers?

I wanted to speak with my agent, Murgalump Kneffle, but as usual, she avoided me. I decided to appeal to her on her level. All I needed to do was figure out what is an agent's passion - what drives them?

Money. Aha!

I withheld her monthly check and told her that she had to come pick it up. She did but charged me $30 for the pickup fee.

I had a nice lunch prepared, I knew she wouldn't pass up a free meal and would stay as long as the food lasted and until she got her check. I hauled out my question list.

"Agents aren't supposed to get paid until the writer does

so why do I have to pay you a monthly retainer?"

Murgalump talked around a wad of food in her mouth. "It's the only way you'll get an agent."

"Are you working to sell my book?"

"Ha!" She spit out half of the gob, caught it in her napkin and transferred it back in with the rest. "Let's say I'm saving you from ... well, embarrassment in the least. Most likely ostracism and having to register as an offender of the printed word.

"Do you treat your other clients this mean?"

"Don't have other clients."

"What? Nobody else wants you?" I was getting a sinking feeling that I'd been had.

"Plenty of people want me. What do you think I do all day? It's turning down writers - crushing their dreams." She smiled and looked heavenward as if giving thanks. "I love my job."

"So agents are like bounty hunters?"

Murgalump squinted her eyes at me. "What do you mean?"

"Well, the hunted don't pay the bounty hunter, but someone does or they wouldn't do it. Also, bounty hunters keep their prey from succeeding. It sounds to me like your niche."

"Hmm." She nodded and sent me a sideways glance. "That's above your usual comprehension level. Given time, there may be hope for you."

That's the best encouragement I'd ever heard from her. "Really? How much time do you think I'll need?"

"As long as it takes you to learn to use a comma correctly."

"Oh, well then, about six or seven hundred years."

What's your experience with an agent? Leave a comment.

Writing Fiction is published on Wednesday's.

Thank a veteran

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Bad Advice For Good Writers

You think you're funny.

Good Writers Still Hear Bad Advice.

We know how to give a meaningful critique, don't we? It's all about the craft and style of writing. It's never personal.
Even when the writing, in our opinion, requires a lot of polish, we can always legitimately praise the writer's efforts.

So What Happened?

Yep. I was the one doling out the horrible critique.
Well, the actual critique probably wasn't so off-the-mark and I should have stopped there. It was a well-written piece of flash fiction by an author I like and respect.

Did you notice all the "I's" above?

That's right. I inserted myself into the critique of her story by trying to be humorous and telling her that her gritty and gripping tale scared me, and I didn't realize how mean she is.

She Took The High Road.

She apologized for upsetting me and was about to withdraw her story from entering a contest.

What have I done?

In reality, it's what I've done over and over. Tried to get a laugh from the serious efforts of another.

It never works.

I'm the one that needs to apologize - and I do.

Humbly. Sincerely.

Please, folks. When you get a bad critique, when the rejection slips arrive, even when you succeed and face the jealousy of others, keep on writing.
No one else can tell your story.

With hat in hand, I'll ask: Have you received an undeserved critique that stung? What did you do?
Leave a comment.

Writing Fiction is published on Wednesdays

Thank a veteran.



Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Is My Writing Any Good?

Writing fears are real.

Is My Writing Good Enough To Share?

It's scary to display our thoughts and feelings for public judgment.

I get that.

Who wants to open themselves up to criticism, or worse, ridicule?

Especially after we have worked so long and hard building up our public persona: the facade we maintain that we hope others seek when they think of us.

So maybe we try to dull any pointed comments with a preemptive, "It's a little story, not to be taken seriously. I just wrote it as a whimsy. Ha Ha."

But It's Real For Us.

We absolutely want to hear, "This is good. You should do more."

Ah, yes. Those are magic words the first time we hear someone other than mama say them.

Mama doesn't count when it comes to critiquing your work, Snookums. You have always been the most talented and creative creature on this planet and she has your art hanging on her refrigerator to prove it. Of course, she thinks you're wonderful and you shouldn't change a word.

Yeah, But What If ...?

That's it, isn't it? The "what if?" Truly, there are a lot of reasons to avoid submitting our stories. Sometimes our characters don't want to leave home. We haven't prepared them to live in the real world of imagination and they know it.

Here's What You Do.

If you can't take a creative writing course, buy books on how to write and read them yourself. One will lead to another.

Subscribe to blogs. Some of my favorites are Almost An Author, Anne R. Allen's Blog, Jane Friedman, K.M. Weiland, Kathy Steinemann, Steve Laube Agency, and The Write Conversation.
There are more, but this will do for starters.

Enter contests. This most often will include receiving a critique from a professional agent or editor. Embrace such feedback. The more red ink on our pages means more opportunities for us to learn.

And the four most important things to do that will turn you into a polished writer are: write, write, write, read.

What do you think we should do to build confidence? Leave a comment.

Writing Fiction is published on Wednesdays

Thank a veteran

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Writers Wanted

Three Acts by Three Authors

Writers Wanted. Flash Fiction and More.

We've mentioned Little CAB Press before. Well, they're opening up more opportunities for all writers - newbies and pros.

To be sure, Little CAB is desirous of quality prose but seems to have a wondrous tolerance for effort. Plus, the newly opened slots are for blog posts and not the impending anthologies. It's a great chance to get your feet wet.

Read more about it here www.LittleCABPress.com or send them a message from the web site.

How We're Having Fun.

My big brother, Roy, Darling Daughter, Laurie, and I decided to have fun with the flash fiction part of Little CAB's invitation. We opted to write one act each of about 300 words.

Roy wrote Act I and titled it The Jock and the Nerd. He sent it to me.

I hadn't seen it until it hit my inbox, but I wrote Act II up to the crises point.

That left Laurie with Act III, saving the wreck and supplying the denouement.

None of us have written flash fiction before unless you count the letters I've sent to my children documenting their Uncle's shenanigans - and, of course, those weren't fiction.

So Here's How It's Stacking Up.

See the picture above. The three parts should blend together into a unified whole that makes the charming figure the model that she is. (A certain publisher posed for the picture.)

Act I starts as a flying saucer, Act II brings us an executive contemplating this year's goat crop. Act III is a piece of literary fiction that shows how all her efforts are programmed and she has no free will.

Or something like that. We don't know if Little CAB will post our combined acts, but meanwhile, it's our enjoyment and we plan on doing some more.

How about you? Join in at www.littlecabpress.com and let me know how you did. It's fun.

Writing Fiction is posted on Wednesdays

Thank a veteran