Monday, July 28, 2014

Be a Boy Scout about Your Writing


A white-tailed fawn born in June.
It jumped into our large window well.
Such a pretty baby! 
The motto of the Boy Scouts of America is “Be Prepared!” This holds true for writers also. The other day I rounded the corner of our house to find that a newborn white-tailed deer had jumped down into a large window well and could not get out. We had this happen before and were prepared. We knew not to touch it as human scent will make the doe reject her fawn and the baby will starve. We had a lost fawn in the neighborhood a year or two ago. People tried to reunite it with its mother but had neglected to wear gloves. The mother rejected her baby because of some anomaly or because humans had touched it. The fawn bleated several days for its mom and for food before finally lying down on our front lawn too weak to continue the fight. It died an hour or so later. The mother of this summer’s fawn had not abandoned her fawn. We saw her walking slowly and watching us from across the street. She knew where her baby was but was helpless.
The air conditioner unit is about 4.5"' high
He or she is so tiny. It will gradually lose the white spots

Several men who were installing replacement windows tried to help my husband by providing a ramp hoping the fawn would use it to climb out. It (she? he?) would have nothing to do with that plan. It tried to jump up onto a middle concrete tier several times but could not get its back legs to hold. Bob moved to one side of the well to encourage it to try again. After two more attempts, the fawn was able to stabilize itself on the middle landing and then jump the three feet to the grassy area of our lawn. It  bounded off joining its relieved mother.
Fawn successfully getting the courage to jump up the
second concrete tier of the window well and escape
Very brave for such a little one new to this world.

There are two lessons for writers here. The first is to be prepared as you never know when a story idea will present itself. Keeping writing supplies on hand (in a purse, pocket, car, boat or bicycle pack) will let you record thoughts while they are fresh in your mind. You can jot down details, emotions and possible story lines for future reference. With the fawn, I was at home and had a camera so I could document events as they happened. Carrying a camera as well as paper and pencil is a great asset to writing your story later. You can capture the scene exactly. Magazine editors love to have accompanying pictures to validate and illustrate your story.

The second lesson is patience. The fawn displayed patience despite being afraid of its situation and the humans around her. Her mother showed the same as she waited helplessly for her baby to return to her. My husband exercised caution and patience while encouraging this wayward fawn to jump higher than it thought it could. Writers need patience to develop their story ideas, to write, to rewrite, to submit and then wait for a response. Hurrying is not in the writer’s favor. Patience is.

Practice the Boy Scout motto - “Be Prepared!” - if you want to think of yourself as a writer.

Friday, July 25, 2014

The WNI Six-Word Story Contest: We have our winners!

After careful deliberation, the judges have made their choices of the top winners of our Six-Word Story Contest.

First place goes to Heather Lynn Atwood of Mesa, Arizona. In a Writing North Idaho first, Heather, actually tied with herself for first place with two entries:

I swapped stilettos for a minivan.


A wounded veteran. Not bleeding. Empty.

Our second place winner is Nancy J. Wood of Canada, who wrote:

Guests gathered. Bride waits. Exits alone.

Third place goes to Kerri Thoresen of Post Falls, Idaho, with:

Battered and bruised but still standing.

The judges looked for fresh themes, a lack of cliches, clever language, vivid imagery, and above all, a story. What makes a six-word story, versus a sentence or a statement?

The best stories tell a tale, evoke an emotion, create a vivid picture, and open the mind to deeper reflection. They move forward from beginning to end.

In Ernest Hemingway's famous example, "For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn," we see the clear image of the baby shoes. "For sale" tells us they are no longer needed, for whatever reason. So far it sounds like any typical classified ad or Craigslist posting.

"Never worn" is the heart of the story, the part that raises deeper questions. It tells us that the baby simply didn't outgrow them. What happened to the baby? Did he or she die? Was he or she given away, or taken away? Was there no baby to begin with? Did someone buy baby shoes in anticipation of a baby, but something happened--infertility, miscarriage, stillbirth, a broken marriage--to crush that dream? Our minds move from the beginning--the basic fact of shoes for sale--to the end--something happened to that baby, and we want to know what it was. Clearly, "For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn" tells a story in a way that, say, "For sale. Baby shoes. Size two" does not, even though both contain six words.

Many thanks to all who entered. We hope you had fun and felt challenged, and will enter the next Writing North Idaho contest, which will be announced in November. In the meantime, feel free to send feedback about the contest or ideas for future contests to wnicontest (at) writingnorthidaho (dot) com.

Happy writing!
from your friends at Writing North Idaho

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Traditional vs. Indie Publishing--What's Your Call?

by Jennifer Lamont Leo

The debate between traditional vs. indie book publishing continues to blaze. Over at Jane Friedman's blog, I found this very interesting post by Claire Cook (author of Must Love Dogs and other contemporary women's fiction) titled Why I Left My Mighty Agency and New York Publishers (for now).

After encountering some problems with her publisher, Cook noticed that, "Independent self-publishing had taken off and grown into a viable alternative. Authors in situations similar to mine were becoming hybrid authors—both traditionally and self-published. And in this new world, there was little of the cloak and dagger stuff I’d experienced in traditional publishing where everything from money to marketing was kept secret. Indie authors were generously sharing everything they learned to help others on the same path. Via message boards and blogs and conferences, a great support system was bubbling up." She ended up purchasing back the rights to many of her books and going the self-publishing route.

So far I've been holding out to find a traditional publisher for my historical fiction. But the longer it takes to get a nibble, and the less specific the feedback as to how I could improve the manuscript (not "these are the story's weaknesses"--i.e., things that as the author I could potentially fix--but indecipherable "even though we loved it, we're going to pass" messages), the more I'm tempted to take the plunge and explore indie publishing in greater depth.

How about you? As a writer, are you a diehard traditionalist, or do you see value in self-publishing (and why)? As a reader, does it make any difference to you whether a book has been traditionally or independently published? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Working Writer: Sources for Paying Markets

Photo: Jennifer Leo
by Jennifer Lamont Leo

Few writers get into the writing game to get rich--few realistic writers, anyway. That said, the worker is worth his wages, and there's nothing icky or impure about wanting your hard work to be rewarded in the coin of the realm.

For those interested in the monetary aspects of the writing life, here are three market resources that are currently earning good reputations in the writing community:

Scratch Magazine

I've been enjoying an online magazine called Scratch produced by Jane Friedman and Manjula Martin, described as "smart, useful stories about the intersection of writing and money, for writers of all genres and trades. Each quarterly issue features in-depth interviews, reportage, resources, and personal stories about the work of being a writer."

It's pretty new, just 3 or 4 issues so far, I think. Recent issues have featured interviews with Cheryl Strayed, Susan Orlean, and Jonathan Franzen, talking nuts and bolts of the writing life. Interesting.

Scratch is available only through paid subscription ($20), but I believe that their "Who Pays Writers" feature is free.

I've got no "scratch" in the game. Just thought I'd pass along the info in case someone's interested.

Funds for Writers 

Funds for Writers, compiled by author C. Hope Clark, offers two e-newsletter options: a weekly free newsletter that lists "semi-pro or higher paying markets and contests as well as grants, crowdfunding, contests, publishers, agents and employers," and a paid biweekly subscription ($15/year) that lists "grants, competitions, markets, jobs, publishers and agents seeking your work and all paying $200 or 10 cents/ word and up."

I recently began subscribing to the paid newsletter, and a recent issue listed 16 contests with cash prizes, 10 grant/crowdfunding opportunities, 21 editor/agent listings, 19 paying markets, and 3 writing jobs. Most of these are opportunities I probably would not have ferreted out on my own. To have them pre-researched and gathered in one spot is, to my mind, a useful service for a busy writer.

Hope also blogs at

Rat Race Rebellion

While I've not yet used Rat Race Rebellion myself, it came highly recommended to me from a trusted colleague as a source of genuine, scam-free job leads, so I checked it out. The site, run by training and developing company Staffcentrix, is a clearinghouse for all sorts of pre-screened work-at-home jobs and job-referral services, not just writing. On a recent visit to the writing-and-editing section, I found 49 referral listings. A handful of these were already familiar to me; the rest were unfamiliar and seemed worth checking out. Of course, as for all referral sites, caveat emptor and YMMV apply. Still, this site looks to be intelligent, well-organized, and a potentially helpful tool in navigating the paying markets.

Have you had experiences with any of these resources that you'd care to share? Or are there other resources you'd recommend for fiscally-minded scribes? Let us know in the comments. 


Friday, July 18, 2014

5 Tips for Marketing Your Book Using twitter

By Mary Jane Honegger

Have you been thinking of turning to the Internet and social media to market your blog, book or other writing project?  Have you thought of using twitter as a marketing tool?  I've considered it for awhile now, but couldn't quite figure out how to use twitter until I found a few tips on the www.bookmarketing website, a website dedicated to helping authors market their books.  

 I think you'll like their low-key, but strategic, marketing suggestions better than the alternative another desperate author posted above.  Check out their tips:

5 Things For Authors To Tweet About 
(That Aren’t “Buy My Book!”)

A major trap that authors fall into on Twitter is trying to get too many people to buy their book.

Of course, as a self-published author your goal is to get people to buy your book, but constantly repeating “BUY MY BOOK!” (or some variation) on Twitter will get old very quickly and cause your readers to stop following you.

You worked hard to get a reader to follow you, you don’t want to lose them!

To keep yourself from falling into that same trap, you need to find something else to tweet about it. Here are 5 ideas of stuff that you could tweet about that aren’t just the same ol’ “BUY MY BOOK!”.

1. Tweet about relevant, popular hashtags
Find hashtags that are popular and relevant to your book, and write something to contribute to the discussion. Don’t forget to include the #hashtag. Other people following that hashtag will see your tweet and possibly even start to follow you.

Need help finding popular and relevant hashtags? One great place to search is at Twitag. If you want to find hashtags sorted into groups, then you should use Twubs. Another great option is For strictly popular and trending hashtags, you can use What The Trend.

Using these resources, you can find relevant hashtags to allow you to join in the conversation where your future readers are and get them to start following you!

2. Tweet your milestones 
Have you sold 100 copies of a book? Tweet about it! What about 1000 copies? Definitely tweet these major milestones, because if your readers see that 1000 other people have purchased the book, they will feel left out, and want to join in (by buying your book). Simply tweet the milestone and include a link to the book, and you will be promoting the book without annoying your readers.

You could tweet monetary milestones too, but that becomes a little murky, especially for those who don’t want to share their earnings. Stick to number of copies sold (or borrowed, or downloaded), and it will cause readers who have purchased to be excited they have helped you reach a milestone, and as I mentioned, it will make those who have not purchased the book want to feel included.

3. Promote interesting quotes from your book
 No doubt, you put some thought into what you wrote in your books. Whether your book is nonfiction or fiction, there are some quotes that you had main characters say, or that you included to emphasize a point, that you are probably quite fond of. Use this gold that is already in the books to promote the book!

Most readers won’t know about these quotes unless they have actually read the book. Pick out some of your favorites, put them into a tweet, and write “from [BOOK NAME HERE]” with a link to Amazon after that.

Not sure which quotes to use? Amazon will tell you! Go to your book’s page on, scroll all the way down to where it says “Popular Highlights” (under the reviews). This will list the most popular passages that were highlighted in your book using the Kindle software. Pick out some of the most popular and tweet those!

Using interesting and intriguing quotes from your book is a great way to promote your book, and the best part is, the work is already done, you just have to copy and paste it!

“Using interesting and intriguing quotes from your book is a great way to promote your book.” – Tweet This

Enjoy that tip, it’s one of my favorites!

4. Tweet quotes from reviews
While the last tip had you tweeting quotes from your book, this tip will have you quoting about your book. Use lines from the top reviews of your book in your tweets. Of course you should link to your book, but people want to know about others think about your book.

If you know the reviewer is on Twitter, you can thank them directly for the great review, giving them a little shout out. This will make them feel appreciated, and it can cause others to want to leave positive reviews so that they too are thanked by you!

Promote Discounts (and network with other authors)

5. While this option is the closest to “buy my book!”, it approaches it a little differently.

First, when you have a book that is discounted or free, just let your readers know! This is a great time for you to tell them to buy your book, because those who may be following you who haven’t purchased that book may finally pull the trigger because of the discount.

You can also network with other authors to promote books for each other. This allows each of you access to a new pool of readers that you didn’t have access to before, and those readers and followers will learn about books that they hadn’t heard about before. It’s a win-win for everyone involved. So, while you’re still saying “Buy my book” or “Buy someone else’s book”, you are giving them a reason to want to buy when promoting a discount or another author’s book.

Final Thoughts
Twitter is a wonderful resource for being able to have direct access to fans that authors just a few years ago didn’t have access to. Don’t take this for granted by telling them to buy your book all day long. Use different ideas on this list, and you can still promote your book on Twitter, just in a new and creative way.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Different Drummers Touches Audiences

by Mary Jane Honegger

Different Drummers
by Don Caron & Lyle Hatcher

According to  retired Spokane financial adviser, Lyle Hatcher, there is a market for family-oriented movies that elicit emotion through the telling of true stories that touch the audience without dependence on Hollywood special effects and hype.

After years of retelling a personal story of inspiration, Hatcher decided it was time to share his tale with the world. Teaming up with Don Caron, a former sound supervisor for North by Northwest, the two spent the next ten years creating Different Drummers – first as a screenplay, then as a book, and lastly as a movie. 
“Prepare to have the wind knocked out of a good way!”
John Robideaux - Robideaux Marketing
Different Drummers is based on an unusual true story about events that took pace in 1965 involving two fourth-graders. David, wheelchair-bound by Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, is growing progressively weaker, while his friend, Lyle, has a problem with an ever-increasing energy level.  David informs Lyle that their teacher is about to die and claims that God told him. When their teacher does die, a doubtful and confused Lyle convinces David that he can teach him to run, secretly viewing this as a way to test the existence of God.
Different Drummers is a coming of age story that deals with the issue of hyperactivity, the crippling realities of childhood muscular dystrophy, the medicating of school children as a means of controlling behavior, and an exploration of the existence of God through the eyes of a child. This true story is at once heartbreaking and uplifting - each viewer's journey will be unique...and unforgettable. - Website
Hatcher and Caron wrote the story as creative nonfiction, telling the story the way they wanted.  They did not pay attention to Hollywood insiders who say family-oriented stories are not what American audiences want.  Some of the things that set this film apart:

1. Hatcher and Caron became co-authors, co-directors, and co-producers, retaining total control over the project.  The two also provided much of the financing.

2. The film is not “based” on a true story as are most creative nonfiction projects. According to Hatcher, “It is a true story.” He says nothing was either added or deleted in an effort to increase cinematic impact.

3. The film was not written to appeal to specific movie demographics.

4. Hatcher made the decision to use the real names of the characters in the story, honoring his strong commitment to tell the true story.

5. The movie was filmed where it happened, in Spokane. In fact, some of the scenes were shot in the actual homes and buildings where they originally took place.

6. There is no violence, sex, or profanity in the film.

7. The film questions the existence of God with no apology.

Their hard work paid off. The screenplay won the top award for outstanding screenplay at the Houston Film Festival out of a field of 3,500 and other awards; the book sold by the thousands; and the movie continues to draw capacity crowds and inspire moviegoers wherever it is shown.
Based on a true story, Different Drummers is one of those uplifting films that makes you want to go out and live life with everything you’ve got . . . Misty Layne - Rogue Cinema
Different Drummers touches lives, Hatcher told a film group last week. He says people pass the books from one to another and come back to see the movie time and again. Different Drummers is showing in Kalispell (already sold out) and Salt Lake City soon. After that Hatcher is unsure where the movie is headed, but retains faith the movie will become a blockbuster.

 Visit the website at to learn more about the movie and an upcoming DVD release.

The following is an excerpt from the Different Drummers website:
From It has been forty-plus years in the making, but David’s story is finally being told, thanks to the persistence and faithfulness of his childhood friend, Lyle Hatcher, and the help of David’s mother, Gloria Dahlke. The boys’ friendship is beautifully detailed in Different Drummers, a book that was recently made into a movie and filmed on location in Spokane, the same place where their story originally took place.

The two boys never imagined their lives would become the subject of a book, let alone a movie. They were young and just living ordinary lives in North Spokane in the early 1960s, attending elementary school, collecting bugs and getting into a fair amount of innocent trouble. But their friendship, which included David’s struggle with muscular dystrophy and Lyle’s hyperactive nature, left an extraordinary legacy. There are no drugs or alcohol, no sex, profanity or dysfunction in this story, yet it’s compelling in its simplicity. It’s a true story focusing on David’s intrinsic relationship with God and Lyle’s determination to test the existence of God; it tells the events of the boys’ lives and their time together, including the death of David at age 13.

“Too many people have lost their way and are in despair,” says Gloria Dahlke, David’s now 91-year-old mother, who still lives in Spokane. She is sure that her son’s story will reassure those who are lost and in despair, and will give them hope. That’s why she’s excited that now, more than four decades after her son died, his story is being told. For her, thee book and the upcoming movie fulfill her son’s dying wish.

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Joy of Prosody: The Joy of Rhyming!

By Liz Mastin

The Joy of Rhyming!

The poetic conversation has been “non-stop” concerning rhyme and whether it is passé in this day. However in his book Writing Metrical Poetry by William Baer, many famous poets have argued strongly in favor of rhyme, among these are poet George Santayana saying, “Like the orders of Greek Architecture, the sonnet or the couplet or the quatrain are better than anything else that has been devised to serve the same function; and the innate freedom of poets to hazard new forms does not abolish the freedom of all men to adopt the old ones.”

Edgar Allen Poe said, “Contenting myself with the certainty that music, in its various modes of meter, rhythm, and rhyme, is of so vast a moment in poetry as never to be wisely rejected – is so vitally important an adjunct, that he is simply silly who declines its assistance – I will not now pause to maintain its absolute essentiality.” Robert Frost stated:  “Writing free verse is like playing tennis with the net down.”

        A Little Poem
          Poems needn't rhyme
All of the time.
But if they do, 
                     That's okay too.  - Anonymous

Of course most of the famous English poets used rhyme and meter, among these Shakespeare, Pope and Donne, but times have changed greatly, and as always, unless rhymed poetry is done correctly it will fall under scrutiny! For instance, using what is called “forced rhyme” is considered particularly grievous, for a poet should not use a rhyming word “just” because it rhymes. The rhyming word should further the idea of the poem. It may mean adjusting a line’s phrasing to make the chosen idea-word work well for him.

Here are some types of rhymes taken from “Rhyme – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia”:

Masculine: a rhyme in which the stress is on the final syllable of the words:

Feminine: a rhyme in which the stress is on the second from the last syllable of the words:

Syllabic: a rhyme in which the last syllable of each word sounds the same but does not necessarily contain stressed vowels:
Slant Rhyme (Imperfect – Near – half):  Slant rhyme, known also as half-rhyme or imperfect rhyme , refers to words that  have final matching consonants and almost rhyme (farm, yard) or appear to the eye to do so (said, paid). “Many poets use slant rhyme to introduce an element of the unexpected and prompt their readers to pay closer attention to words themselves rather than the sounds of words.”  Emily Dickinson, for example, pairs “soul” with “all” in one of her poems. She was a prominent pioneer  in slant rhyme.
*Slant rhymed words appear to be of one syllable.

Assonance: words (within a line) having matched vowels
 The horse coursed through the field.

Consonance: words having matching consonants
The robbers had rabies.

Semirhyme: a rhyme with an extra syllable on one word
Bend – ending

Weak Rhyme: A rhyme between a pair of one or more unstressed syllables. Unlike syllabic rhyme, the pair of words will contain differing numbers of syllables.
hammer – carpenter

Among those using rhyme and metrics today are rappers, songwriters, metrical poets, and there are those of us who enjoy writing both metrical and fee verse. In free verse, cadence takes the place of counting stresses (feet), and rhymes normally appear as internal rhyming, assonance, consonance and alliteration.

1. In the poem below: You will find syllabic rhyme in “dizzy” and “easy” in the first stanza; “breath” and “death” constituting a masculine rhyme.

2. In the second stanza, “pans” and “countenance” form an example of weak rhyme and “shelf” and “itself” form a semirhyme.

3. In the third stanza, “wrist” and “missed” is masculine and “knuckle” and “buckle” form a feminine rhyme.

4. In the fourth stanza, “head” and “bed” is masculine  and “dirt and “shirt” are also masculine.

My Papa’s Waltz
By Theodore Roethke

The whiskey on your breath
Could make a small boy dizzy;
But I hung on like death:
Such waltzing was not easy.

We romped until the pans
Slid from the kitchen shelf;
My mother’s countenance
Could not unfrown itself.

The hand that held my wrist
Was battered on one knuckle;
At every step you missed
My right ear scraped a buckle.

You beat time on my head
With a palm caked hard by dirt,
Then waltzed me off to bed
Still clinging to your shirt.

Liz Mastin is a poet who lives in Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho during the summer and Bullhead City, Arizona in winter. She thrives on the study of the great poets, their biographies, the schools of poetry to which they adhered, and the poetic conventions of the times in which they lived.

While she enjoys free verse as well as metrical poetry, her main interest lies in prosody. She notices that most of the enduring poems are those we can remember and recite. Liz enjoys poetry forms such as the sonnet, the sestina, the couplet, blank verse, simple quatrains, etc. and she hopes to see modern poets regain interest in studied metrical poetry.

Liz is currently putting together her first collection of poems which should be completed this winter. The poems are a mixture of metrical and free verse poems.