Monthly Archives: April 2013

Haunted Houses

Having difficulty  describing a character?

Not even clear yourself about his or her motivation? The Metaphor of house

Describe where they live.

The details of a home or a home environment can serve your character and your story in many ways.  First, symbolically, like  Huck Finn’s raft, a haunted house, rooms that are always cold, libraries filled with books that are never read (Great Gatsby)  or a back door that stays unlocked.

Until we stop and consider it, the house has always stood as a solid metaphor or analogy for characters and plots.  Many authors use the  idea and symbolism of the house  in their work including Virginia Woolf (A Room of Her Own), Jack London (Little Lady of the House), Edith Wharton (House of Mirth, Age of Innocence) and of course Downton Abbey which is a whole show centered around the house.

We love houses, we are drawn to them as evidenced by real estate shows, DIY shows, extreme home make over, and Hoarders. I think Hoarders is especially popular because you can slump in your green sprung couch surrounded by Little Caesar pizza boxes and 1997 issues of National Geographic and say, well, at least my home isn’t as bad as theirs.

Probably true.

The second part of this conversation of house as a metaphor is if course,  what does your own house or room of your own say about you?

In a recent issue of O magazine, Martha Beck suggests that when you describe your house – quickly – the ten minute write way – you will have created a metaphorical description of your inner world.

I haven’t done it myself  – too scary.

Homes, our living environments, reflect directly on our character.  You can use that information to evaluate your life, give a third dimension to your fictional character or the very idea that our furniture is a reflection of our inner lives can just inspire you to re-consider that green couch.

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You Didn’t Hear it From Me

Nick at live Hacked published ten pretty good reasons to write a blog.  So in the interest of giving credit where credit is due – just check out Nick’s Blog

I do enjoy blogging and we discussed on Newbie Writers Podcast that the best way to approach your blog is to be passionate about something.

Smashed Potatoes - PotatoGirls.com

Smashed Potatoes – PotatoGirls.com

I also want to point out that passion and sustainability can be exclusive activities as well as exclusive terms.  My friend Terry and I started up PotatoGirls.com based on her undying passion for potatoes.  But she lagged behind in the sustainability department.  Since I don’t cook at all, I could not take up the potato masher in her name.

So even though we started out with great ideas and hopes and enthusiasm, there was something that didn’t carry us forward enough to stay with the video work and the blog.

Now you’ve heard the cautionary tale, don’t let that discourage you, start up WordPress blog and enjoy the experience!  But consider that consistency will get you noticed, and the burn out rate is pretty high.

So read Nick’s blog and you can hear more about his ideas during our interview with him on May 24th on Newbie Writers Podcast.

You are welcome to re-post this article in your own blog or newsletter – please include this entire statement, “Catharine Bramkamp is a Writing Coach and podcaster, find out if you’re ready to go from  Newbie to Known visit www.yourbookstartshere.com or bramkamp@yahoo.com for a complimentary consultation.”

 

 

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Author Entrepreneurship Magazine

Author Entrepreneurship Magazine | Helping Authors Create Successful and Sustainable Careers.

The Spring Issue of Author Entrepreneurship Magazine is here!  Thank you to editor Beth Barany who has not only created a beautiful magazine, but is really committed to helping authors create the best careers and lives they can.

Check it out – and then subscribe!

 

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Perspective for Writers

Last week Publishers Weekly summarized the Pulitzer Prize winners for 2013

I am always interested in the winners or in the case of last year, the non winners (Train Dreams was an excellent allegory, discuss it in your book group).

Pulitzer Prize winner Deanne Fitzmaurice - Kurt Rogers, Andrew Hutchins

Pulitzer Prize winner Deanne Fitzmaurice – Kurt Rogers, Andrew Hutchins

The assumption is, of course, that a pulitzer prize represents the very best of fiction, non fiction and reporting.  The second assumption is that the prize will immediately catapult  the honorees to fame and fortune.  Since I know that to not be true, I also wanted to share a comment by Publishers as to the state of the prize winner’s Amazon rankings.

On the morning after the prize announcments were made, only The Orphan Master’s Son had risen to Amazon’s top 100, going from #1,846 (before the announcment) to #6.

Three other winners saw a sizable increase: 

  • Stag’s Leap went to #289 (from #82,000)   
  • The Black Count went to #222 (from #13,000)  
  • Embers of War went to #373 (from #33,000). 
  • Devil in the Grove was #963 as of April 16.

I bring these numbers up because sometimes authors get caught up in Amazon rankings – NY Times rankings, SF Chronicle Bay Area rankings.  It’s our holy grail.  But at the same time, achieving number one in any ranking can be as unrealistic as actually looking like a magazine model.

Consider what other benefits come with the awards, with the recognition   Your introductions will always begin with “Prize winning . . .”  You can list it on your CV, on the back of the next book. The next book will be an easier sell.

All those things matter. But if  one of the most prestigious  prizes in the country cannot propel a book to number one or even five.  Maybe we should start counting other things.

 

You are welcome to re-post this article in your own blog or

You are welcome to re-post this article in your own blog or  newsletter – please include this entire statement,  “Catharine Bramkamp is a Writing Coach and podcaster, find out if you’re ready to go from  Newbie to Known visit www.yourbookstartshere.com or bramkamp@yahoo.com for a complimentary consultation.” 

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Dr. Burack Featured at Day of the Book

Day of the Book – April 20, 2013

Day of the Book ink well

Day of the Book

                                   JFKU 100 Ellinwood Way, Pleasant Hill, CA

                       Time: 10-4

The Art of Spiritual Writing   Charles Burack, Ph.D.

Dr. Burack will discuss some of the literary techniques that writers and poets use when portraying spiritual experiences. He will also lead some experiential exercises that will help participants reflect on and write about their own sacred experiences.

Charles Burack, Ph.D., is an award-winning poet, scholar and teacher as well as a widely published writer.  Author of the literary study D. H. Lawrence’s Language of Sacred Experience, and the poetry collection Songs to My Beloved. 

Admission

$35 with lunch

Faculty, staff, alumnae:  $25

Students: $20

Morning events open to the public 10-12

Panel discussion (lunch) 12-1

Literary salon 2-4

For early reservations contact: Catharine at bramkamp@yahoo.com

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Tanya Egan Gibson at Day of the Book

Day of the Book – April 20, 2013

Day of the Book ink well

Day of the Book

                                   JFKU 100 Ellinwood Way, Pleasant Hill, CA

                       Time: 10-4

Tanya is awesome.  I was so impressed with how much time and energy she gave to the participants at the SF Writer’s Conference.  She has graciously agreed to do the same for us during Day of the Book!

Building a Vibrant Fictional World  – Tanya Egan Gibson

How do you create a fictional world that is unique yet believable, exciting yet grounded? Learn the various ways you can get the details of places right (even without a travel budget), how to make your world exciting, and how to use your world to strengthen both plot and characterization.

Tanya Egan Gibson is the author of the novel How To Buy a Love of Reading (Dutton – 2009), and a freelance editor, consultant, and writing teacher. She has written for such magazines as The WriterParents, and Writer’s Digest, which will publish her latest article, “10 Things Your Freelance Editor Hasn’t Told You–But Should” in its May/June 2013 issue.

Admission

$35 with lunch

Faculty, staff, alumnae:  $25

Students: $20

Morning events open to the public 10-12

Panel discussion (lunch) 12-1

Literary salon 2-4

For early reservations contact: Catharine at bramkamp@yahoo.com

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Fiction as Emotional Autobiography

Day of the Book – April 20, 2013

Day of the Book ink well

Day of the Book

                                   JFKU 100 Ellinwood Way, Pleasant Hill, CA

                       Time: 10-4

Sounds interesting?  Come and hear Elizabeth Rosner speak during Day of the Book!

Inheriting Identity: Fiction as Emotional Autobiography.   Elizabeth Rosner

Sometimes a novelist’s subject matter isn’t chosen so much as discovered from within.  In this talk, I’ll share my process of finding — and fictionalizing — the complicated and dramatic material inside my family’s history.

Novelist, poet and essayist Elizabeth Rosner is the author of THE SPEED OF LIGHT and BLUE NUDE.  Her prize-winning and national best-selling works of fiction address themes of inherited grief and the redemptive power of storytelling.  Her newest novel ELECTRIC CITY will be published by Counterpoint Press in 2014.

Admission

$35 with lunch

Faculty, staff, alumnae:  $25

Students: $20

Morning events open to the public 10-12

Panel discussion (lunch) 12-1

Literary salon 2-4

For early reservations contact: Catharine at bramkamp@yahoo.com

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Tossing Out 29 Years

A young lady asked Natalie Goldberg, “What do I do? I lost all my journals and now I feel part of me is irretrievably gone.”

Just before I wrote more than I needed toNatalie  sympathized,  she herself had never recovered a dozen paintings she created and lost during a trip to Paris. But remember, Goldberg is a student of Zen, non-attachment.  Her response  was to shrug and suggest that it was really okay that  the journals were gone.  “You aren’t going to ever read them anyway. “ Natalie said.

That single answer, as harsh as it sounds, was the permission I needed to dump years of journals: specifically 1970 − 1999. I was finally able to ask if I really, ever, wanted to  revisit Junior High.  Should I continue to lug the the past from house to house, ever sealed, never read?

Nope.

As I chucked hundreds of pages into the recycling bin, Goldberg’s True Secret To Writing emerged again.  The True Secret it writing is that  it really is just about  the process. Writing is its own best means – not to an end, but rather  to your mind, your next story, your soul.

I don’t meditate for very long (about a minute, I call it speed meditation).  When I walk, I walk fast.  But writing every day?  I’ve been practicing that forever.

In this context, what is produced  is immaterial.  Anything decent is lifted from those pages of beginner words, wild ideas and complaints about the weather and  transferred into another, more permanent, workable file.  The process work is not revisited.

I rescued  5 poems from the 70’s that I thought I could rework in honor of National Poetry Month.  And that was all.

Some writers feel that every word they put to paper is great, deathless prose, but not me.  Everyday writing, journal writing, is about the process, it’s practice writing. And we all  need to practice so when it is time to perform: we’re flawless.

 

You are welcome to re-post this article in your own blog or newsletter – please include this entire statement, “Catharine Bramkamp is a Writing Coach and podcaster, find out if you’re ready to go from  Newbie to Known visit www.yourbookstartshere.com or bramkamp@yahoo.com for a complimentary consultation.”

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10 Things to Do with That First Draft

Ferry to Canada

Ignoring my first draft

Thank you Tanya Egan Gibson for a great Writers Digest article – 10 Things Your Freelance Editor Might Not Tell You – But Should.

As a developmental editor I really appreciated how Tanya created a clear list of what authors need to do before they drop their baby off to an editor.  The number one piece of advice?  Don’t hire an editor to take care of your first draft.

First drafts are fragile, messy, complicated documents.  They don’t need editing, they need:

  • to be put in a drawer or virtual file for a few weeks
  • reviewed
  • re-read
  • extensive rumination
  • consideration
  • panic
  • ruthless cutting and pasting
  • a sympathetic reader
  • a second draft
  • a third draft

Do that work before you offer up your manuscript to a professional, and you’ll be happier with your editor.

The other nine tips are  covered in the May/June Writers Digest issue on line and on news stands.

Check out Tanya’s advice!

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Writing as Personal Expression (Day of the Book)

Day of the Book – April 20, 2013

Day of the Book ink well

Day of the Book

                                   JFKU 100 Ellinwood Way, Pleasant Hill, CA

                       Time: 10-4

Writing and Self-Publishing as Personal Expressions of Liberation and Autonomy.   – K. Tutashinda

During Day of the Book, K Tutashinda focuses on how the Black Arts, Black Power, and Environmental Movements have served as a foundation for the author to use writing and self-publishing as participatory outlets.

K. Tutashinda,D.C., is a Chiropractic Physician, teacher, activist/consultant, and independent scholar. He teaches English in the Mills Upward Bound program and worked with UC Berkeley’s program for twenty-eight years. The author of five books, he owns Imhotep Chiropractic & Wellness Center in Berkeley,CA. and has been in practice since 1989.

Admission

$35 with lunch

Faculty, staff, alumnae:  $25

Students: $20

Morning events open to the public 10-12

Panel discussion (lunch) 12-1

Literary salon 2-4

For early reservations contact: Catharine at bramkamp@yahoo.com

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