Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Handwriting's on the Wall: Confessions of a Pen-and-Ink Writer

Recently I learned that some schools are cutting back on teaching handwriting on the theory that children do not need to know cursive anymore in this age of computers. I must admit, this makes some sense. Why teach skills that are no longer needed?

On the other hand, it makes me sad.

Do you ever feel pressure to abandon pen and paper in favor of doing your reading and writing on electronic devices? I do. But I'm resisting.

For me, the pressure started in the early 2000s with a former employer's strong encouragement to switch to a computer-based calendar instead of a paper one. While it did make sense from an office perspective to keep a master electronic calendar of everyone's whereabouts and activities, I could not force myself to abandon my paper calendar entirely. Somehow the act of manually writing down my appointments and to-do lists made them adhere better in my overloaded brain. So I ended up keeping two calendars: one electronic and one paper. This was my first clue that I am a diehard pen-and-paper girl. Now that I'm a freelancer and no longer part of an office team, I've reverted to keeping a paper calendar only, in spite of dire warnings from more technologically-minded friends that Someday I Will Be Sorry.

Fast forward to 2012. I adore my Kindle. I really do. When it comes to convenience, portability, and lack of clutter, it can't be matched. But I still enjoy reading printed books. I love how they smell, love how they feel in my hands. And they beat the Kindle hands down when it comes to reading in the bathtub!

Of course I do a lot of writing on computer, especially anything that has to be sent anywhere or shared with anyone: blog posts, articles for publication, book manuscripts. But I also have shelves of notebooks filled with handwritten scribblings. Often I sketch out a post or a scene on paper first before keying it into the computer. I don't anticipate outgrowing my need for yellow legal pads anytime soon.

In her book on creativity, The Vein of Gold, Julia Cameron writes, "There is an energy to the hand, an energy of blood, of truth, and knowledge that is deeper than skin. . . . Writing by hand is like walking somewhere, instead of whizzing there in the car. . . . But speed is not always desirable. . . . Writing by machine may accumulate pages, but I am not sure if those pages accumulate enough depth. In the end, the pages are better when they are made by hand."

What about you? Do you prefer to write by hand or on computer?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Christmas is for reading . . . and writing!

"It is bad enough to be poor on Christmas eve. But to be poor plus an imagination is to have an excess of poverty. Hardinger, plodding through the snowy streets, could picture mentally all that was going on inside the houses whose illumined windows broke the blackness of the night. Dinners were cooking--the thought of the savory food made his pulses leap as they leap for a man who thinks of his beloved. Hardinger felt that he had indeed reverted to the primitive when hunger swallowed up every other emotion. Food! He wanted it as a wolf wants it in the dead of winter--or a starved cat in an alley. Yet he had not a penny with which to buy bread. And he was not a beggar. He told himself that with an almost frantic emphasis on the negative, as he found himself mounting the steps of a terrace at the top of which was a great house."

Thus begins the short story "Three Who Stole at Christmas Time" by Temple Bailey. It concerns a hungry World War I vet, a grieving family, a kindhearted kitchen maid, a beautiful girl, and . . . well, it always has me sniffling by the end, no matter how many times I've read it.

The story is included in a collection of Christmas stories by Temple Bailey called The Holly Hedge. My copy was published in 1925, and is one of the few items I have left that belonged to an older relative who is long gone. Every December I pull it out, find a cozy spot, and read it cover to cover. After many years of this tradition, it finally dawned on me to find out something about the author.

Temple Bailey started her writing career in 1902 with short stories published in magazines like Collier's, McCall's, and The Saturday Evening Post (oh, for the days when magazines published lots of short fiction!). She went on to write novels and even a screenplay or two for the nascent movie industry. A few of her works are available online through Project Gutenberg, but I wasn't able to locate any stories from The Holly Hedge. However, used copies of The Holly Hedge are available through Amazon and other sellers. It's worth a try if you like old-fashioned, sentimental (okay, maybe a bit corny) stories set at Christmastime during the post-World War I era.

What's your favorite Christmas read? Write up to 500 words about your favorite holiday story (or movie, or activity, or a stirring memory of holidays gone by) and send it to us on or before December 5 for our Winter Reflections Holiday Memories contest. It will help you get in the holiday spirit, and who knows--you might even win cash to help you with your Christmas shopping!

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Six-Sentence Mystery

Although our recent "Six-Sentence Mystery Contest" did not receive enough entries to qualify as a contest (hey, it happens!), we were so impressed with the entry from Lila Bolme of Post Falls that we've decided to feature it as a guest post this week. We know you will enjoy it. Thanks, Lila!

Don't miss out on your chance to win our current writing contest, "Winter Reflections," which is open until December 5. If you have some downtime during this festive week, why not write up a favorite holiday memory and send it in? All the details are on our Contests page. 

Happy Thanksgiving to all of our loyal readers from the Writing North Idaho team. We are very thankful for YOU! We'll be back to our regular posting schedule next week. In the meantime, enjoy this "Six-Sentence Mystery" from Lila.
The Dreaded Edge
by Lila Bolme, Post Falls, Idaho

She hung, fearfully, her head and most of the top half of her body dangling at an angle over the precipice, arms aching, clinging with every bit of strength she could still manage.
With each faint breath, she was losing the ballast of her lower body weight that kept her anchored but she refused to open her eyes for fear that the brain swelling dizziness to follow would propel her exhausted body over the dreaded edge.
Millimeter by millimeter she felt her support giving way and she thought about her misadventure, regretting the lack of foresight which had catapulted her into such a perilous situation.
She tried to remember if anyone else had been with her, anyone who might be aware of her predicament, but no one came to mind and she lost all hope of rescue, resigning herself to her fate by relaxing her grip and letting gravity have its way.
There was no scream on the way down, just a dull moan when she hit face first and hard but there was really no pain and she faded in and out of consciousness, able to open her eyes once, long enough to make out the blurry image of an empty vodka bottle beside her on the floor by the bed.
She had no one to blame but herself.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Joy of Prosody: Syllabic Verse

Elizabeth Mastin, WNI Guest Blogger

Hello fellow poets and all those who just enjoy poetry. As I continue in my fascinating studies, I’ve come upon a generally overlooked verse form called syllabic verse.” In the English language (as opposed to other languages in which it is more widely used), it is very simple: one simply counts the syllables in each line and then forms patterns of equal-syllable lines, regardless of meter or kinds of feet. 

According to Wikipedia, syllabic poetry “is not bound by tradition; even very long lines are not divided into hemistiches, and the verse exhibits none of the markers usually found in other syllabic meters (with the occasional exception of end-rhyme), relying for the measure solely on total count of syllables in the line.” “Syllabic verse, in English, does not convey a metrical rhythm; rather it is a compositional device, often imperceptible to the hearer.”

According to William Baer, in Writing Metrical Poetry, “syllabic verse stems from the French who used syllable-counting extensively, as French is not an accentual language. They formulated their meters with counting of syllables, using rhyme and other sonar devises to structure their poetry.”  Japanese poets use syllabic verse when they write their haikus and tankas.

In An Introduction to Poetry by X.J. Kennedy and Dana Goia, syllabic verse is defined as “A verse form in which the poet establishes a pattern of a certain number of syllables to a line. Syllabic verse is the most common meter in most Romance languages such as Italian, French, and Spanish; it is less common in English.”  

Syllabic poetry was widely used by Lewis Turco and Marianne Moore. It was experimented with by others like John Hollander and Robert Bridges. It seems that Spanish poet George Santayana also used it and I’ll give you some syllabic verse examples. It might be fun to try!!

In My Craft Or Sullen Art
Dylan Thomas

In my craft or sullen art                         7 syllables
Exercised in the still of the night             7 syllables
When only the moon rages                   7 syllables
And the lovers lie abed``                      7 syllables
With all their griefs in their arms,           7 syllables
I labour by singing light                         7 syllables
Not for ambition or bread                    7 syllables
Or the strut and trade of charms                         This pattern continues to the end of the poem.
On the ivory stages
But for the common wages
Of their inmost secret heart.

Not for the proud man apart
From the raging moon I write
On these spindrift pages
Nor for the towering dead
With their nightingales and psalms
But for the lovers, their arms
Round the griefs of the ages,
Who pay no praise or wages
Nor heed my craft or art.

by George Santayana

My heart rebels against my generation,                           11 syllables
That talks of freedom and is slave to riches,                    11 syllables
And, toiling ‘neath each day’s ignoble burden,                11 syllables
Boasts of the morrow.                                                      5 syllables

No space for noonday rest or midnight watches,              11 syllables
No purest joy of breathing under heaven!                        11 syllables
Wretched themselves, they heap, to make them happy,   11 syllables
Many possessions.                                                            5 syllables

But thou, O silent Mother, wise, immortal,                       11 syllables
To whom our toil is laughter, - take, divine one,               11 syllables
This vanity away, and to thy lover                                    11 syllables
Give what is needful:-                                                        5 syllables

A staunch heart, nobly calm, averse to evil,                     11 syllables
The windy sky for breath, the sea, the mountain,             11 syllables
A well-born, gentle friend, his spirit’s brother,                 11 syllables
Ever beside him.                                                               5 syllables

Then I might watch the vessel-bearing waters                  This pattern continues to the poem’s end.
Beat the slow pulses of the life eternal,
Bringing of nature’s universal travail
Infinite echoes;

And there at even I might stand and listen
To thrum of distant lutes and dying voices
Chanting the ditty an Arabian Captive
Sang to Darius.

So would I dream awhile, and ease a little
The soul long stifled and the straightened spirit,
Tasting new pleasures in a far-off country
Sacred to beauty.

Liz Mastin is a poet who lives in Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho during the summer and Bullhead CityArizona 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.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Editing Guide & Proofreading Rules for Freelance Writers

Journalists who work for newspapers or magazines usually have copy editors who scrutinize their work before sending it to a proofreader who will give it a final once over before it hits the printed page.   As a freelance writer, you will sometimes have the luxury of paid staff to fine-tune your words, but often projects you write won't have those safeguards and it will be up to you to do your best to present a polished piece.

That means you really have to do three jobs:
1. Write
2. Edit
3. Proof
Your editing job starts once you reach the point when you are happy with what you have written.  That's when you take out your red pen and get to work.  Oh, and by the way, just hitting "spellchecker" on your computer doesn't cut it.    

According to The Complete Reporter: Fundamentals of News Gathering, Writing, and Editing by Kelly Leiter, Julian Harriss and Stanley Johnson; a copy editor's function is to read the story carefully, eliminate mistakes, improve the language and write the headline.  They say being a copy editor is one of the most important and painstaking jobs on a newspaper because the possibility for errors in a news story is so great.   

A copy editor: 
1. Checks the story for accuracy, checking background information and doubtful statements
2. Makes corrections of grammar
3. Eliminates verbosity, making the writing clean and crisp
4. Eliminates libelous statements  (When in doubt, leave it out.)
5.  Simplifies the story, getting rid of all confusing or ambiguous statements and professional jargon that will not be understood by the layperson
6.  Eliminates editorial opinions 
7.  Checks story for adequacy, making sure all essential facts are included
8. Shortens story if necessary
9. Makes the story conform to the style of the publication
10. Attempts to polish and improve the story
11.  Writes identifying labels and instructional notes for publication purposes
(The above list is from The Complete Reporter.)

Whew!  Although some of these duties are specific to a newspaper, I believe most will benefit any writing you do and the list gives a good idea what an important job editing is to you as a writer.  One famous author acknowledged that importance in his own unique style:

“Write drunk. Edit Sober.” – Ernest Hemmingway

Once you've done all that editing, you still have to proofread your project. I used to spend hours proofing my work. I would read it over and over until I was absolutely POSITIVE there were no mistakes. Then I would send it in for publication. There was only one problem -- there were always mistakes ... sometimes big ones. Since then I've learned some tips that help cut down both the time I spend and the chance of missing mistakes.
Proofreading Rule #1:  Leave time for proofreading.  

Rather than just reading your project over and over again, letting your work sit a week or at least a day or two will enable you to see it with renewed clarity.  If you're like me, you'll undoubtably find some changes or corrections you want to make each time  you read it over.  If  you don't have days or weeks to complete your project, take a short break very now and then to restart your critical eye.

I have made this letter longer because I have not 
had the time to make it shorter. - Blaise 

Proofreading Rule #2: Vary the way you proof your work.
Reading your work aloud, slowly and carefully, will allow you to fine-tune your words and find mistakes.  Read it forward, then read it backward, from last sentence to first.  Try reading the pages or paragraphs out of order.  Proofing out of order interrupts the logical flow of the piece and will help you find additional errors.

To improve is to change; 
to be perfect is to change often. - Winston Churchill 
Proofreading Rule #3: Don't trust numbers.
Just about the time you decide to trust that you remember a date or an address or a telephone number ... you'll get it wrong, or somehow transpose a figure.  Numbers are notorious.  Be sure you double-check the source, then read each number aloud.      

Proofreading Rule #4: Find a second proofreader.  
For several years I helped a nonprofit organization print a year book.  It held mandatory information about meetings, members, protocol and bylaws.  I would have the pages printed, then bound into a booklet with a spiral binder.  One year, after agonizing over the project for days, I finally let it go.  Choosing the color for the pages and the cover were my final duties.  I was satisfied.

The day I got it back from the printer, I took one look at it and stifled a scream.  The cover read: Karneetsa Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, 1997.  It was 1998.  My mistake was on the front cover!

I doubt that would have happened had I taken the time to have another member proofread the yearbook instead of just reading it myself over and over.  Somehow, we sometimes see what we think we wrote or meant despite what is a glaring mistake to another reader.  Any project will benefit from being seen by a new set of eyes.  Chances are someone reading your words for the first time will catch something you missed ... like the wrong year on a yearbook.  And if not, think how great you'll feel when they tell you, "Hey, it was perfect.  Couldn't find a thing."

Proofreaders report they find mistakes 90 percent of the time.

Finding another writer interested in reading your work can be challenging, but if you are willing to proofread for others, you'll probably find someone willing to help you when you need it.   One great way to find other writers who might be willing to proof for you is to join a local or online writing group.

Proofreading is really a win-win situation.  By offering to proofread for others, you will have someone to help you proof and the exchange will help you grow as a writer.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Two Powerful Words: Thank You

When paired together, two simple words become one of the most powerful phrases in the world - Thank You.  These two words express gratitude for a job well done and note appreciation of another.   A Thank You makes people feel more valued.

I traveled recently, and while boarding the plane one gentleman held up the process, slowly advancing while negotiating the narrow aisle with a cane and a small bag.  Those of us already seated could see folks behind the older man becoming perturbed that he was moving so slowly.   Then the passenger seated next to me caught the man's eye and said, "Hey, veteran, thank you for your service."

The man, wearing a baseball cap that labeled him as a WWII veteran, nodded his appreciation, noticeably straightened and continued his way down the aisle.  The mood lightened all around.  My neighbor then turned to me and said, "You should always thank them.  It's important."

He's right.  And these two words are especially important on Veterans Day, the day Americans set aside to honor our veterans and to thank him or her for their service to our country.  There won't be a better day all year to pick up your pen and write a Thank You; there won't be a better day to email a Thank You.

It doesn't need to be complicated - just a heartfelt "Thanks."  You won't write any words today that will be more meaningful.  I hope you'll read the president's Veterans Day 2012 proclamation below then take the time to send your thanks to a veteran.

And to any veterans who might read this ...
 Thank You for your service from a grateful American.  


Whether they fought in Salerno or Samarra, Heartbreak Ridge or Helmand, Khe Sanh or the Korengal, our veterans are part of an unbroken chain of men and women who have served our country with honor and distinction. On Veterans Day, we show them our deepest thanks. Their sacrifices have helped secure more than two centuries of American progress, and their legacy affirms that no matter what confronts us or what trials we face, there is no challenge we cannot overcome, and our best days are still ahead. 

This year, we marked the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. We began to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. We welcomed our veterans back home from Iraq, and we continued to wind down operations in Afghanistan. These milestones remind us that, though much has changed since Americans first took up arms to advance freedom’s cause, the spirit that moved our forebears is the same spirit that has defined each generation of our service members. Our men and women in uniform have taught us about strength, duty, devotion, resolve—cornerstones of a commitment to protect and defend that has kept our country safe for over 200 years. In war and in peace, their service has been selfless and their accomplishments have been extraordinary.

Even after our veterans take off the uniform, they never stop serving. Many apply the skills and experience they developed on the battlefield to a life of service here at home. They take on roles in their communities as doctors and police officers, engineers and entrepreneurs, mothers and fathers. As a grateful Nation, it is our task to make that transition possible—to ensure our returning heroes can share in the opportunities they have given so much to defend. The freedoms we cherish endure because of their service and sacrifice, and our country must strive to honor our veterans by fulfilling our responsibilities to them and upholding the sacred trust we share with all who have served.

On days like this, we are called to reflect on immeasurable burdens that have been borne by so few. We pay tribute to our wounded, our missing, our fallen, and their families—men and women who have known the true costs of conflict and deserve our deepest respect, now and forever. We also remember that our commitments to those who have served are commitments we must honor not only on Veterans Day, but every day. As we do so, let us reaffirm our promise that when our troops finish their tours of duty, they come home to an America that gives them the benefits they have earned, the care they deserve, and the fullest opportunity to keep their families strong and our country moving forward.

With respect for and in recognition of the contributions our service members have made to the cause of peace and freedom around the world, the Congress has provided (5 U.S.C. 6103(a)) that November 11 of each year shall be set aside as a legal public holiday to honor our Nation’s veterans.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim November 11, 2012, as Veterans Day. I encourage all Americans to recognize the valor and sacrifice of our veterans through appropriate public ceremonies and private prayers. I call upon Federal, State, and local officials to display the flag of the United States and to participate in patriotic activities in their communities. I call on all Americans, including civic and fraternal organizations, places of worship, schools, and communities to support this day with commemorative expressions and programs.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this seventh day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand twelve, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-seventh.


Friday, November 9, 2012

Exclamation Mark: Its Use and Abuse!

In an ebook titled Write Good or Die, edited by thriller author Scott Nicholson, was an article written by Nicholson titled Seven Bad Habits of Highly Unsuccessful Writers. In the article Nicholson, who had worked as a freelance editor and journalist for several years, reminded writers of a handful of minor problems that can "sap the vitality out of an otherwise compelling story." These included proper comma usage, point of view confusion, too many useless mannerisms, the use of adverbs, and the importance of clarity when using "he said" and "she said" in dialogue.

He also mentioned the overuse of exclamation marks in writing. Nicholson advises writers to “hoard your exclamation points and only dole them out when necessary.” He further states that dependence on them indicates a lack of power in your action sentences.

I personally haven’t noticed the overuse of exclamation marks in my general reading, but I have noticed that they seem to be prolific in online writing, emails, and text messages. There are even websites and blogs that discuss the overuse of exclamation points. One site titled Excessive Exclamation!! shows, as an example, a shot of a Carl’s Jr. receipt on which is printed:

Please let us know how we did!!!

In his article,Nicholson advises:

Adding a bit of visual oomph or dialogue tag is a better choice: "‘Look out,’ he shouted, diving for cover as bullets zinged overhead." The word "shouted" does the work of the exclamation point, though if you are in the book’s climax or a particularly brisk and intense scene, then one or two can do the work of unnecessary words, too. In this case, I’d let "Look out!" slide, assuming exclamation points weren’t already hopping all over the page like drunk celebrities begging for tabloid coverage. Anyone using two or more exclamation points together will not only be rejected but taken out and shot!!!

His point about exclamation marks reminded me of an old Seinfield episode I saw years ago when Elaine, who worked as an editor for a New York publishing house, purposely peppered her boyfriend’s manuscript with exclamation marks because she was upset with him. This got her in trouble with her publisher boss. For fun, below is a short clip of the episode:

You can find Nicholson's entire article here.

While contemplating the use of exclamation marks, remember to check out our Events page for writing-related happenings in the coming weeks.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Scott Nicholson is the author of 10 thrillers, including the Bram Stoker finalist The Red Church, Drummer Boy, Disintegration, and The Skull Ring. He’s published over 60 stories in seven countries, as well as numerous writing articles, five screenplays, several comic books, and magazine features. He’s won three North Carolina Press Association Awards as a newspaper reporter and also has a freelance manuscript editing business, in addition to hosting pop-culture shows and an annual paranormal conference. More information at

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

New Reading Series: America’s Civil War

What do you know about America’s Civil War (1861-1865)? We all probably remember the basics from studying about the war in school—that the “war between the states” was one of the deadliest wars in American history and that it resulted in the abolishment of slavery and prevented the succession of several southern states.

But for those interested in knowing more about the Civil War, the Coeur d’Alene Public Library is beginning a reading/discussion series, “Making Sense of the American Civil War”, which will examine the impact of the war on American culture and history.

The series, presented in partnership with the Idaho Humanities Council, includes a five-meeting, scholar-led reading/discussion program beginning tomorrow, November 8, and continuing through December 20. The five two-hour book discussions are scheduled for five Thursday evenings, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., on Nov. 8, 15, 29, Dec. 13, and 20 in the library Community Room. The program is based on three books:

“March,” by Geraldine Brooks, is a Pulitzer Prize-winning historical novel which tells its story through the voices of characters from another novel, “Little Women,” by Louisa May Alcott.

“America’s War,” edited by historian Edward L. Ayers, is mostly a collection of writings by people who had to decide for themselves before and during the war where justice, honor, duty, and loyalty lay, including selections writ-ten by Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, Henry David Thoreau, and many others.

“Crossroads of Freedom: Antietam,” by historian James McPherson, explores the battle in the fall of 1862 that changed the course of the Civil War.

 The program is free but only 20 copies of each of the three books to be used in the series are available. Participants who are reading the books are asked to commit to attending all sessions in the series.

Scholars who will lecture and facilitate discussions include University of Idaho History Professor and Dean of Letters Arts and Social Sciences Dr. Katherine Aiken, North Idaho College History Professor James Jewell, and Boise State University Andrus Center for Public Policy Director Dr. David Adler.

The discussions will be open to the public.

To sign up for the series or for more information contact David Townsend, Library Communications Coordinator, at 208-769- 2315 Ext. 426 or by e-mail at


Monday, November 5, 2012

Ghostwriting: A Book for Writers

Tomorrow is Election Day, the day set aside for presidential elections by Congress in 1845 when they made election years divisible by four and designated Election Day as the Tuesday after the first Monday in November. Election Day provides a guaranteed right for every United States citizen to cast their vote for their choice for President. Exercise your right to have your say.

Of course, along with politics, politicians and political campaigns, comes a flurry of speeches and other forms of communication from the candidates, including books, many of which are written by ghost writers. According to the President Profiles website, few Presidents have written their own speeches and books, stating that, “Understandably, being able to write well is not an ordinary requirement in a chief executive.” Apparently the most accomplished penman among all the presidents was Theodore Roosevelt, who earned substantial royalties for his works of history.

But ghostwriting opportunities go far beyond writing speeches and books for politicians. Ghostwriters are used by business professionals, celebrities, and anyone who has something they would like to write but does not want to write it themselves. It is an avenue for writers that has grown in recent years with the popularity of memoir. According to, the most popular type of writing people seek ghostwriters for are biographies/memoirs and business manuscripts. But ghostwriters are also used for articles, online website writing, reports, screenplays, self-help manuscripts, and just about any type of writing.

I recently finished a book titled Ghostwriting by Andrew Crofts, one book in the Writing Handbooks series published by A & C Black Publishers Limited of London. Crofts is an English ghostwriter whose many subjects have topped bestseller charts in the United Kingdom and other countries, and is considered one of Britain’s most successful ghostwriters.

In Ghostwriting Crofts explains that being a ghostwriter is a fascinating way to live if you are someone who enjoys trying out new and different lives, and who is comfortable being a spectator for much of the time. He clearly presents the ins and outs of becoming a ghostwriter, not only giving answers as to why one might want to become a ghostwriter, but also explaining why one might not want to become a ghostwriter.

 He explains that ghosting gives writers access to stories they may otherwise never come across, provides valuable writing experience, allows writers to get on with other work while others take care of the promotional work, etc. On the other hand, he explains that a writer who prefers voicing their own opinions too much might find difficulty in listening to other people’s opinions and writing about them, or a writer may be shy and uncomfortable spending such a concentrated amount of time with their subjects, as well as other potential conflicts that might arise from things such as preoccupation, ego, ethics, etc..

Crofts further gives advice on how to get started as a ghostwriter, on how to get paid, on contracts, on agents, on producing a synopsis for your project, on research and working with your client, and more.

People hire ghostwriters for a variety of reasons: they believe they don’t have the ability to write it themselves, they don’t have the time to write it themselves, they need a broader perspective, and a variety of other reasons. If you have an interest in becoming a ghost writer, Ghostwriting provides important and useful guidance.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Announcing a new FREE "Winter Reflections" Holiday Memory Contest!

As we enter the holiday season, the sights, smells, sounds, music, food, and even the weather can evoke some powerful memories. Share one of your favorite holiday memories with the Writing North Idaho community and you might win a prize in our new "Winter Reflections" Holiday Memory Contest! Deadline is December 5. Click on our Contests page for all of the details.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Getting Started

 I would say writers write for different reasons.  Some for pleasure or  to share one's thoughts, to express an opinion or  document an important event. To tell a story.  While writing can be for pleasure and earn one a measure of self  -satisfaction, it can also be darn  hard work. Sometimes, the real challenge can be in just getting started.

William Sryron is quoted as saying,

I certainly don't (enjoy writing). I get a fine warm feeling when I'm doing well, but that pleasure is pretty much negated by the pain of getting started  each day. Let's face it, writing is hell. 

Bill Roorbach in his book , Writing Life Stories poses the question, Why is it so hard to sit down and
 write ?

His answer, great expectations for one thing. Roorbach  says to compound the problem, partners and friends and parents are caught up in the old myth of talent: You have it or you don't and there's no sense in struggling along if your first efforts aren't Shakespeare or (more to the point, since we're talking about memoir here ) Annie Dillard, John Hersey or Frank McCourt).

Roorbach continues, So often what's missing is compassion:  compassion for the poor soul show turns to writing after a long day of less satisfying work;compassion for the creative one, who can't resist till the story is made, even while those around him play;compassion for the learner,too, the person who at any age sits down to write thinking she  already has what it takes, only to discover, as all good writers continually do, that there is still a lot to learn; compassion, in the end , for you gentle writer, you yourself.

To help you  get started, here  are a few tips:

* Find a clean, well lighted place
* Reading and writing
   a. writers write
   b. writers read
* First Lines -  make each opening compelling, and catch the reader
*Writing schedule - find and defend  time to do the writing

Writers, like runners running a race can't get to the finish line unless they first start at the gate.