Thursday, July 31, 2014

This 'n That Thursday--Insecure Writers Support Group, Kat Holmes' Summer Bash, My WIP

Summer sunset over Lake Huron July 2014
Taking a page from Alex Cavanaugh's newsy and fun blog, I am throwing a lot of things into one post here. I call it This 'n That, but they're all about writing. Speaking of Alex, he is the mighty captain of the Insecure Writers Support Group. 



What is IWSG? Founder of IWSG and author Alex J Cavanaugh explains the group's purpose is "to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!" 

The group blogs the first Wednesday of every month, so come back on Wednesday to see how insecure I am! LOL The list of bloggers is always available so you can hop around to the author blogs filled with humor, advice, and thought provoking posts.

Cozy mystery/sweet romance

Romance author Kat Holmes is hosting me on her blog today during her Summer Bash party. Inteviews with lots of authors all summer long. Stop over and enjoy the party, take a cruise with me in my red Mustang with the top down, of course, and enjoy fresh summer salads and ice cream!!


Kat's Lucky 13 question is "What are you working on?" I'm so happy she asked that one because I am just finishing my work in progress, a new mystery/sweet romance. The story takes place in the Staab and Blood funeral home,. Lauren Staab, the undertaker's daughter, moved back home to help her father care for her mother who is stricken with Alzheimer's disease. Lauren also stesp in for her mother's responsibilities in the business. Her world is turned upside down when, well let me just share the first part of Chapter One with you so you can get the idea.

Proposed Chapter One
“Lauren, call 9-1-1, there’s a dead body out here in the garage!”
            Lauren frowned. Dad must be joking. This is a funeral home. There’s always a body here. Still, there was urgency in his voice.
            She grabbed her cell phone off the desk in her office, kicked off her high heels, and ran toward the garage at the back of the funeral home.
            Lauren studdered to a stop and stood in shock when she saw a man lying face down in a pool of blood on the garage floor between the black funeral coach and SUV.  Her father looked up at her and shook his head. She felt the bile rise to her throat and turned away from the ghastly scene.

That gives you an idea of one of her problems in the story, but she also has a shadow man who keeps visiting her and sometimes at the most inopportune times like when she and her boyfriend, Chip, are together!

Fun to write this story. It isn't a dark drama. but instead filled with humor, high jinx, and a lot of bad guys too.

I have a LOT of work to do after writing the first draft, but I am anxious to dig in and smooth out the bumps and add a lovely layer of smooth asphalt on top to make the journey down the path an entertaining and thought-provoking ride. I hope you'll come along with me as I share about the writing of this new story. I'll need some of your ideas to help me along...for instance, a Title! 

Thank you for stopping by today and please leave a comment about your writing /reading progress this summer.

            

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Mackinac Island Michigan Travelogue


Welcome to the J.Q. Rose blog travelogue today! Come and sail away with me to the majestic Mackinac Island in Lake Huron, one of the five Great Lakes. (Can you name all five lakes?) 
Our entire family spent a few days in upper Michigan. We camped at the Tee Pee Campground in Mackinaw City, Michigan. (I loved the name of the bath house--WeeWee TeePee) Weather was perfect, but then again, I have visited Mackinac Island several times and the weather has always been perfect.
You probably noticed the two spellings of the city and the island are different, but both are pronounced Mackin AW--the ac is a French spelling as I understand it.
 We boarded the ferry filled with tourists to cross the Straits to the island in about thirteen minutes on the catamaran beauty. We took the early morning Star Line cruise because they make a detour to sail visitors under the Mackinac bridge, a five mile bridge connecting the lower peninsula of Michigan to the upper peninsula.
 The  bridge was constructed in 1954 and completed in 1957. It has certainly changed the economics of the area for the good.
The underside of the bridge is a work of art as well as of engineering.  How strong this must be to hold all the traffic going along it. On windy days, the bridge will close to traffic. I'm glad we camped on the south side so we didn't have to drive our camper across this monstrosity.


You can see the Grand Hotel, a famous landmark from the ferry. If you saw the movie, Somewhere in Time, you saw the Grand Hotel. It was filmed here with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour as the main characters. So romantic.


Arch rock is another famous landmark about a mile's ride from the commercial area. Oh yes, I forgot to mention there are no motorized vehicles allowed on the island (except emergency vehicles like a fire truck.) So we rode our bikes around the eight mile perimeter of the lovely island. Enjoyed taking our time to see amazing views of water and skies and wild flowers.

These draft horses are huge! They have to be strong to haul 24 passengers in their specially built Jayco carriages (drays?) Yes, Jayco is a well-known name in the camper industry. When you set foot on the island, there is no gasoline smell from motorized vehicles, but a distinct odor of horses. 


The front entrance to the Grand Hotel.  I wish we had more time to take in the hotel, but with young boys and a five year old granddaughter, it's probably best not to get too close to the elegant surroundings.

I wish my photos could do justice to the landscapes and sea surrounding the island. Breathtaking. We are standing in the old fort looking out over Father Marquette park. 

Hope you enjoyed the tour. If you ever get a chance to go to Mackinac Island, do it! And take me with you to my most favorite place on earth.

What is your favorite place to visit? 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Series: How to Begin Recording Your Life Story Part 5, Summary and Bibliography


Welcome to the fifth and final blog post on How to Begin Recording Your Life Story by J.Q. Rose. Today I want to summarize the salient points in this presentation to remind you of how important your life story is. Your experiences should be shared whether they are light-hearted, serious, instructive, or just down-right delightful reading. Click on part to link you back to the complete blog post on that subject.

At the end of this post, I included a Bibliography of books I think that will help you and inspire you to write your story. Readers are writers and these examples are great reading. Please suggest a book on writing or a memoir to add to the list. I'm always looking for new books to share with friends and family, and especially life story writers!

A Summary of the How to Begin Recording Your Life Story Series


Part 1 What is memoir/life story, why record it, spark your memories
~A memoir or life story fleshes out your story revealing your memories, but also emotions
Don't try to tell it all from the very beginning. Write in vignettes or snapshots of your life. 
A memoir can be recorded by writing your life story or by telling your story using an audio file e.g. mP3 or video format.

~A memoir can be recorded by writing your life story or by telling your story using an audio file e.g. mP3 or video format.
Can you guess
what car sported these tail lights?
Image courtesy of Matt Banks
 FreeDigitalPhotos.net
~Your memoir can comfort and assure someone else knowing how you faced and defeated problems in your life, demonstrated grace in situations, and found joy in living an ordinary life.
~Seeing your life through the lens of time, people’s actions, emotions, and words become more clear to you than when you actually lived the moments.
~You will preserve the family history as well as telling the “real” story of historical events and how they affected your ordinary life.
~You will discover revisiting your life is a lot of fun!
~To help you spark memories and track notes on stories you remember, make a Memory Bank.
~Spark your memory by using a time line, life stages, photos, and writing prompts.

Part 2 Opening up your memories and organizing your story
~Use free writing to open up your memories.
~After writing several stories, organize them using themes you will discover in those stories, arrange in chronological order, or relate your present life to past experiences.
Vintage Typewriter
Image courtesy of koratmember
FreeDigitalPhotos.net
~Always include the five w’s in your writing-- who, what, where, when, why, and how.
~Show, don’t tell your stories.
~Use the five senses and your feelings to add interest and to draw the reader into the scene..

Part 3 Editing and publishing
~After writing your story, go back and make it better by tightening up the story and checking for grammar and spelling errors.
~When writing a memoir/life story, the writer must tell the truth at all times. For if the truth is not told, what is the point in writing the story?
~If you decide to publish your memoir, I listed some places for you to submit. Find more by searching online or by visiting your library.

Part 4 Using writing, audio, and video to record your story 
~There’s more than one way to record your story. Writing, making a video, recording an audio file are all ways to tell your story. Choose one or try all of them to see what fits you.

Thanks so much for visiting. Has this series inspired you to begin recording your story? I hope you will take a few ideas with you so some day you will sit down to record your life to share with others.

I am always ready to help you get started. Email me with questions at jqrose02 at gmail dot com or leave a comment below.
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WRITING YOUR LIFE STORY--BIBLIOGRAPHY

HELPFUL BOOKS ON WRITING
Albert, Susan Wittig.  Writing from Life:  Telling Your Soul’s Story
Baldwin, Christina.  Life’s Companion:  Journal Writing as a Spiritual Quest
Corey, Judy. Storysharing:  A Bridge Between Generations
Daniel, Lois.  How to Write Your Own Life Story
Goldberg, Natalie. Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within
Heilbrun, Carolyn.  Writing a Woman’s Life
Strunk, William and E.B.White.  The Elements of Style
Zinsser, William.  Inventing the Truth:  the Art and Craft of Memoir

JOURNALING
Sarton, May.  Journal of a Solitude

MEMOIRS/LIFE STORIES
Baker, Russell. Growing Up
Bush, Barbara.  Barbara Bush:  A Memoir
Buck, Frank All in a Lifetime
Chaplin, Charles. My Autobiography
Dillard, Annie.  An American Childhood
Downing, Christine.  Journeying through Menopause
Frank, Anne.  The Diary of a Young Girl
Gilbert, Elizabeth. eat, pray, love
Goldberg, Natalie.  Long Quiet Highway: Waking Up in America
Gordon, Ruth. Myself Among Others
Grogan, John.  Marley and Me
Hayes, Helen. On Reflection
Keller, Helen. Story of My Life
King, Coretta Scott.  My Life with Martin Luther King, Jr.
Marshall, Catherine. Beyond Ourselves
Moses, Anna Mary. Grandma Moses, My Life’s Story
Norris, Kathleen. Family Gathering
O’Reilly, Bill. A Bold Fresh Piece of Humanity
Roosevelt, Eleanor. On My Own
TenBoom, Corey.  The Hiding Place
Weisel, Elie.  Night







Monday, July 21, 2014

Camping Trip to Mackinac Island, This Week

Hi Readers,

At this writing I am anticipating our camping trip to Mackinac (pronounced Mackinaw) Island. Watch this video to find out about one of my most favorite places on earth!

Come back on Thursday for the fifth and final post on How to Begin Recording Your Life Story. Oh, yes, I'll be here! See you then!


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Series: How to Begin Recording Your Life Story, Part 4: Using Writing, Video, and Audio


“Too many people overvalue what they are not, and undervalue what they are.”
                                                                                                             --Malcom S. Forbes
Welcome to Part 4 in the series, How to Begin Recording Your Life Story. After last week's post my friend and fellow author, Helena Fairfax, left this comment--

Hi JQ,
I subscribe to a British magazine for women writers called Mslexia. You might be interested to know they're holding free workshops to help you write your own memoirs They also have a competition on at the moment for memoir writers. I thought it would be of interest. 

Thank you, Helena, for introducing this magazine for women writers to the readers and me and for the heads-up on the memoir writing workshop.  The post on writing memoirs was very informative and made good points for memoirists to keep in mind as they begin their writing. Lots of inspiring blog posts and writerly information to be found here.

I love being connected on the Internet where readers and writers help each other just like this.
# # # #
Using a headset
Image courtesy of Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The title of this series is How to Begin Recording Your Life Story. Recorded is intentionally used in the title because there are many ways to tell your story and keep it as a record for your family and friends. Usually we talk about writing, and I must admit, I am more inclined to give folks tips on writing out their life experiences because I am a writer. 

Instead of blocking your path by insisting on writing, I want you to be aware there are other ways to share your stories. And I must point out that you are the only one who can tell your story. You are the keeper of your life story. You are the only one who can tell the truth about your life choices or not having choices and the experiences that colored your life. 

You may want to have a writer interview you and let her put together your story on paper for you or record your accounts on video or audio.

Dealing with the technology may be too difficult for you and overwhelming. If you wish to do it  yourself, ask someone in your life like the kids, yeah those young whipper-snappers, who know all about the programs available. 

Deciding to take the DIY approach, I've been exploring methods to accomplish this. There definitely is a learning curve on all this technology, so if you want to try learning about making a video or audio file, Youtube is your best friend. You can find out about everything on Youtube!! Your next place to discover how-to information is to "google" the information. Go to google.com or your favorite search engine. In the search bar, place "audio file" or "make a movie" or similar key search words. Don't use the quotation marks around your search words.

I have listed the places I explored:
  • Windows Live Movie Maker--to find out if you have this program, click the colorful round circle (start button) at the bottom left side of your computer screen. Then type in movie maker and it will come up. Click on it, but when you see the screen don't run. Just hop over to Youtube and learn how to use it!! I would love to see a video filled with old photos of your family. Perhaps you have a photo of your grandmother you could use, her house, her wedding photo, add some photos from freedigitalphotos.net of things she was interested in like horses, sewing, playing the piano, etc. You can type your story on each slide and select free music from Kevin McLeod's infotech.com to play in the background. You may prefer to record an audio to accompany each slide. Remember to talk about your grandmother, how she is related to you, share some anecdotes about her, and your feelings about her. Then you can upload the finished movie to Youtube to share with everyone or just family members.
  • Microsoft Power Point--I am ashamed to admit I don't know how to use Power Point very well. This program uses slides and audio can be added to them to make a wonderful presentation. I vow to learn more about it. I'll post it on my blog once I get a decent video made.
  • Video camera--You can have someone video you or set up the video camera so you can talk about your family. You could make a dish your mother was famous for preparing for a family dinner or teach viewers how to crochet a favorite item she used to give as gifts. And again, don't get caught up in the activity only, talk about your mother, your feelings about her, and your relationship to her.
  • Audacity.com--is a powerful program to record audio files. I played around with this to make an audio file which can be exported as an mp3 file and used as a podcast. I really, really wanted to have the file here on my blog to share with you, but, even after googling and watching Youtube videos on how to embed the file into Blogger accounts, I wasn't successful.

I was able to add it to my J.Q. Rose author website. If you recall, I suggested in an earlier post to write a letter to your ten year old self, so I recorded my letter to Janet Lee at Ten. If you're curious and wish to listen to it, scroll down the page and you will see the player right next to the badge for How to Begin Recording Your Life Story. 

Big thank you to my daughter, Lee Ann, for helping me figure out the microphone and answering a lot of questions about the program. (She did voice overs and was a DJ so she had experience with microphones and making audio files.) Let me know if the player worked for you and if volume and clarity are good too. Watch out! If you like the recording, there may be more along the way!!Next week, we'll wrap up the series. I would appreciate any suggestions you might have for adding more information or clearing up any questions about life story writing. Thanks so much for stopping in.

“You must have control of the authorship of your own destiny. The pen that writes your life story must be held in your own hand.” ---Irene C. Kassorla

                                                                                                  



Monday, July 14, 2014

bReaKInG THE ruLes of WriTinG, This wEek

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
bReaKinG THE  ruLes by J.Q. Rose

When I break the rules, an evil grin tips up the corners of my mouth and I want to laugh out loud like the evil laugh of actor Jack Nicholson.  I feel so wicked when I wantonly throw an empty ketchup bottle, not even rinsed out, into my kitchen waste basket instead of properly disposing of it in the recycle bin provided by Waste Management.

Have you ever actually walked IN to the Sam's Club exit door? It took me a bit to screw up the courage to do it because I thought alarms would sound and a huge woman in a security uniform all puffed up with authority would clasp me around the neck and throw me OUT through the exit door. But when I sashayed into the building, not showing my membership card by the way, nothing happened and that evil grin slid onto my face. I am here to report that I have blatantly repeated this rule breaking when I walked IN through many exit doors of lumber companies and big box stores with their gaping doorways marked specifically for entrance and exit, but not once has anyone thrown me out!


In writing there are rules to follow too. After reading several blogs by people-in-the-industry and experiencing input from my editors, I have gleaned some "rules" for contemporary authors of fiction to follow.

  • Set up the protagonist and her problem to overcome in the first chapter or second chapter. 
  • In romance, meet the main characters in the first chapters
  • Grab the reader with the first paragraph. No long narratives or descriptions to slow down the action
  • No head-hopping. The point of view of one character appears per scene or chapter as if that character is seeing everything through her video camera
  • Good spelling and grammar rules should be followed.

It's fun breaking the rules when I feel like it and then I wonder if the publisher/agent/editor would not take the manuscript I submitted because I actually broke the rules of grammar or formatting. I believe there is a rule about run-on sentences that may be the one I love to break the most because I don't think in my head with capital letters and periods or commas or question marks because my thoughts come so quickly and I have to get them down on paper. (Evil grin appearing now.)

How about you? What rules of writing can you add to my list? Do you break the rules of writing? What is your biggest rule breaker? I promise not to tell anyone if you fess up to it in the comment section below.....
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This Week:

Thursday, July 17--The series, How to Begin Recording Your Life Story, continues this Thursday.  Catch the first 3 parts in the series, then join in on Part 4 this Thursday. The links to the earlier parts of the series are below.
Part 1 What is memoir/life story, why record it, spark your memories
Part 2 Opening up your memories and organizing your story
Part 3 Editing and publishing



Thursday, July 10, 2014

How to Begin Recording Your Life Story Part 3: Tips on Editing and Publishing, Prizes







Sharing Your Stories

When most of us write, we want to convey more than the details of our lives. 
We want to convey the meaning of our lives and the lives of those around us
.---Susan Carol Hauser, You Can Write a Memoir

EDITING, REVISINGREVISITING


Let’s fast forward to the time when you have completed your first draft of your memoir. If you are recording it as  an audio or video file, this is the time to check for clear sound and well-lighted video. If you used slides for your presentation, be sure they are in sync with your narration.

Whether writing or recording your life story, you will need to check the following:
Is each story as clear and as well organized as you can possibly make it? Do you have the facts, the descriptions, etc., in the right order for clarity?
 Do you have “over-used words”?  Use Roget's Thesaurus of the English Language or a thesaurus online to help you find different words to use.  
 Do your stories need cutting?  Eliminate wordy paragraphs by not repeating the information over and over and over and over…..
Write/speak in the active not passive voice.
Have you clearly identified every relative you mention?
Have you told enough about your characters for your readers to be able to see and understand them?  Use clear descriptions of the characters and scenes. Include small details    
Did you SHOW rather than tell your story?
For Written pages check to be sure:
All paragraphs should deal with the main idea.
Are sentences complete?  Are transitions smooth?  Do pronouns agree?
Did you check your spelling? Even a spell checker will okay “to” because it is spelled correctly, but you may mean “too” in the sentence.  How about their and there or hear and here?  Use your dictionary or a dictionary online to check spelling.
Did you check punctuation?  Don’t overuse exclamation marks!!!  Did you remember to use question marks at the end of a question?  And use commas sparingly. Check out Jodie Renner's blog post on the Kill Zone blog for punctuating dialogue.

Find someone you trust to read over the story and check all of the above.
--adapted from How to Write Your Own Life Story by Lois Daniel


I must caution you to remember this will be read now and in the future (perhaps e-books or some other device not even created yet). People not even born yet will be reading your story. You want to present the best story you can so that means revising, editing, and revisiting the story several times to polish it.

I realize these stories are very personal. Some of you may not be ready to reveal all your life experiences, let alone share, some of the painful stories in your life. Then do not write them. When you feel you can handle letting go of the story, then do it. Don’t feel you HAVE to write everything.

Above all, I believe when writing a memoir/life story, the writer must tell the truth at all times. For if the truth is not told, what is the point in writing the story? So, don't write it till the truth can be told throughout the entire story. Then when you are ready, let it go, and discover the story from your own perspective at this time rather than when the experience occurred. 
# # # #
Exercise: Write a letter to your ten-year-old self. What advice would you give her now after getting years of life experience under your belt? Do you understand now why people in your life acted the way they did? Do you know why you didn't get to go on the vacation your parents promised? Explore your feelings and don't just give the facts of where you lived and what your favorite songs were.

Publishing
If you decide to publish your memoir, I have listed some places for you to submit. Things change quickly in the publishing business, so google “memoir publishers” or “life story publishers” to keep up-to-date.



Six-Word Memoirs http://www.sixwordmemoirs.com/

Bookmaking—Blurb Books  http://www.blurb.com/
                        Bookemon http://www.bookemon.com/

·         Memoir Writing Sites

Homework:
Write a memoir using only six words. This is a challenging, but fun, exercise for you. Click on the link to give you some ideas. 
When it’s polished, submit to the magazine. Feel free to share it in the comments section below. I'll send you a prize if you do!!

Thanks for stopping in.  If you have questions, please ask.