Any Writer Can Thrive Here

Ann Minnett MWW photo Ann Minnett

The community of writers comes through again!

Christine Carbo, local author of the Glacier Mystery Series, is a busy woman. Her third book in the series, The Weight of Night, comes out this June, and she is set to write at least two more. She also owns a Pilates studio and has a family.

Montana Women Writers invited Christine to speak in December about her publishing experiences and how to capture an agent’s interest. Despite her busy schedule, she offered to help me with a (dreaded) query letter to agents. I took her up on the offer. I sent her drafts of my letter and synopsis for Don’t Tell Zane, and we met last week to discuss.

Her willingness to help another writer embodies the generosity among authors in the Flathead. Any writer can thrive in the environment of trust and support we enjoy here. We aren’t in competition. If I ever achieve a ‘place of prominence’ as a writer, I hope to share my knowledge just as generously.

Les DiaboliquesLes DiaboliquesLes Diaboliques

By the way, Christine’s the one who suggested my novels fit into the Domestic Suspense genre. I’ve read and enjoyed suspense novels for years, not knowing some were Domestic Suspense. My research proved her to be spot on, and I intend to market Don’t Tell Zane and my current WIP to those readers.

Thanks, Christine, and thank you to this amazing community of writers.

Ann

Burden of Breath Cover - Minnett            FINAL TURQUOISE FONT COVER

Exclusive Passions

by Karen Wills

Habit and practice sharpen gifts; the necessity of toil grows less disgusting, grows even welcome, in the course of years; a small taste (if it be only genuine) waxes with indulgence into an exclusive passion.
Alfred, Lord Tennyson                                                                   lord-alfred-tennyson-by-j-001

I suspect that even before love of language, love of stories marks the beginning of most evolving writers. That’s how it began for me. Love of listening to my dad tell made up stories expanded into reading other people’s fiction. In third grade, I took the next step, writing my first story. The reviews (from Mom and Dad) were sensational.

Years later, I had to face the “necessity of toil” business and critics not biased in my favor. I had to recognize that plot is essential, characters have to be motivated, and the right language is essential, too. Combine the three and you’ve hit gold. But, oh, those years of false strikes and mines that didn’t pan out as I’d hoped. The mother lode has elusive ways. I’ve loved the search, but learning the craft if you’re not blessed with genius—think Shakespeare—can be an awful grind at times.

I recently listened to Leslie M.M. Blumes’, Everybody Behaves Badly, about Ernest Hemingway’s efforts to hone his unique, zeitgeist-perfect voice in the 1920’s. He found it in spare prose enhanced by artful repetition and cadence. It’s also about how he labored to produce stories and novels that captured and held his readers. Such mastery didn’t come overnight. In the end, he loved writing with such passion that when he faced what looked like permanent writer’s block, he killed himself.
And then there’s language. I also read Edward Abbey’s, The Monkey Wrench Gang. He uses what I call ‘the old razzle dazzle’ with words. Here’s an example:

The evening gave way to night, a dense violet solution of starlight and darkness mixed with energy…

Writing is still work, but I’ve reached the “indulgence into an exclusive passion” stage at last.

A friend joked that I don’t do anything except read, write, and watch movies. At least in winter, she’s close to right. When I write, the world outside my story drops away. I told that to someone who responded, “Oh, that’s how you meditate.” Maybe. All I know is the combining of plot, character, and language has waxed into indulgence and passion.

How fortunate I am.

February Book News

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LESLIE BUDEWITZ: Ah, winter. We love it, but right about now, most of us wouldn’t mind a bit of a thaw! At least we are blessed with many sunny days here in Northwestern Montana — and many good friends and books!

I’ll be talking about writing, publishing, and using my hometown as a setting at the Bigfork Rotary ClButter Off Dead (final)ub at noon, Wed Feb 8, at the United Methodist Church in Bigfork. And on Saturday Feb 11, at 1:00, I’ll be chatting about cozy mysteries — the lighter side — at the Mineral County Library in Superior.
The first grown-up mysteries many of us read were those of the great Agatha Christie. I’ll be talking about her continued influence on mystery writers at the opening of the Bigfork Community Players’ production of “Murder on the Nile,” based on her book, Death on the Nile, on Saturday, Feb 18, in the Bigfork Playhouse, the setting of my third Food Lovers’ Village Mystery, Butter Off Dead. Showtimes and dates on the Players’ website.

Read — it’s the best way to light a fire in your brain!

 

 

Marie F Martin enjoyed her time at Flowers by Hansen.  Here are a few photos taken by Lucinda of Crown Photograpy so you can see how nicely the authors were treated and what the public enjoyed at the First Night Event.

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Marie showing a customer her books.

Marie and Shirley Rovik with their books

Marie and Shirley Rovik with their books

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Betty Kuffel buying a book

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Special Olympics were there.

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Sparrows Nest was there

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Marie’s Books

 

 

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions . . .

By Janice McCaffrey 

I am a huge fan of Michael Lewis, the non-fiction author who wrote Blindside, Moneyball, and The Short Game to name only those that Hollywood made into feature films. His latest book is The Undoing Projectundoing-project a prose which explains how two Israeli psychologists, between defending their country during three fierce wars, figured out how human brains make decisions.

Soon after World War II Amos Tversky, a Russian, and Daniel Kahneman, a German, became citizens of the new State of Israel. They met at the Hebrew University and began asking one another the whys and what ifs of decision making. Their collaboration continued for over twenty-eight years. They co-authored numerous articles published in scientific journals as they lived and worked in Israel, the United States, and Canada.

 Their subjects included university, high, and elementary school students; medical doctors; psychologists; and economists. The study questions Tversky and Kahnman utilized are based on common situational decisions. I can add that in turn, these examples are simple, complex, and humorous.

For details I’m studying Daniel Kahneman’s book Thinking, Fast and Slow.thinking-book He explains in the introduction that his goal is to “create discussion around the office water cooler.” In other words, he wants everyone, not only academics, to understand how we reach our decisions, and learn steps to help us arrive at better ones. The synopsis says:synopsis

Tversky and Kahneman shared their findings with a variety of disciplines: besides psychology, they included medicine, team-sports management, financial investing, and economics. In fact, in 2002, Daniel Kahneman became the first psychologist to receive the Nobel Prize in Economics. Sadly, Amos Tversky passed away before he could share the honor.

As a beginner fiction writer, who’s still on the bunny hill, I wondered how I could use this information. Studying and pondering has brought me to the hope that I can practice the mental steps necessary to make better decisions about my writing and to create characters with more depth.  

I want to show readers the humanness of people portrayed in my stories as they make their choices–the good ones and the not so good. I want to show why their illogical decisions seemed reasonable to them at the time. And I want to put them through their own undoing projects. I look forward to creating multifaceted characters as I learn from these experts.

Thank you, Michael Lewis for bringing Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahnman into my life.

The Truth About Memoir

By Anne B. Howard

Our willingness to make ourselves vulnerable while writing honestly in an authentic voice can pose challenges for even the most seasoned of memoir writers. Linda Joy Meyers, a practicing therapist and president of National Association of Memoir Writers likens the necessity, in memoir, to invite strangers into our homes, and lives, and psyches, sometimes even to our bedrooms, to that of being on a stage with no clothes on, and I think she’s right. With each story committed to the page, we memoirists must repeatedly make the daunting decision to keep writing. And, write we must if we are to uncover and reveal anything meaningful or useful to ourselves, and our readers.

ipad-photos-15-009For some people, this is much harder than they ever imagined. Opening up to the scrutiny of others such personal information as our dreams, thoughts, secrets and shame, as well as our pleasures and joys, can be a very scary proposition. The old adages of “what’s private should stay private,” and one should “never air one’s dirty laundry in public,” prevent many a poignant story from ever seeing the light of day. Past beliefs and family mottos inferring that we should keep everything tucked neatly away—even things that might encourage and inspire others, or change our own lives if we’d allow ourselves to dig deep enough—are almost always based on fear.

Just when I thought I’d conquered my own fear, at least enough to approach the completion of my first long-form memoir, Evil Beloved, I decided to take a crack at the fiction writer’s character-development homework  from Lisa Crohn’s excellent new book, Story Genius. Although intended to help writers of fiction pinpoint the underlying motivations of their characters—so their stories make emotional sense—the same writing exercises were incredibly revelatory to me, a memoirist.  So revelatory, in fact, that I realized some very painful but important details I’d unknowingly tucked away. Details that I now realize must be included in order to answer, for the reader, some very important questions I hadn’t even considered.

It was damn scary. I felt vulnerable and exposed. The work was a lot like therapy in that I completed each assignment, but then had to step back, mull it over for a few days, before pressing on. This wasn’t some contrived character under the microscope, it was me—my life, my decisions, good and bad, my delusions, my incredible misbeliefs—and  my memoir is now a better representation of the story I need to tell, just for having done that work.

Writing memoir is an act of courage. It requires fearless self-examination and a willingness to claim—actually, to own—your life experiences. Good, bad, or in-between, they belong to you, and you decide if you will keep them hidden, simply record them, or share your story with others. For anyone considering writing a memoir, I highly recommend seeking the support and instruction of a professional organization such as National Association of Memoir Writers. And remember, you are not alone. Be brave—write your story!