|Posted on January 17, 2011 at 12:28 PM||comments (1)|
On several occasions in the past, in this blog, I have mentioned the "pain of publishing" (see http://kurtfrenier.webs.com/apps/blog/show/4596487-the-pain-of-publishing). Everyone in the "industry" knows that getting your book to the market can be a more than difficult experience. But as the saying goes: when the going gets tough, the tough get going.
I invited a friend & (new) author of mine, Zvezdana Rashkovich (or in short: Dana), to write a piece on her experiences lately. She just published, after a hard and long journey, her first ever novel called "DUBAI WIVES". The title alone grabs the attention; imagine what the story will be like!
Her piece is titled "the evolution of a writing". I believe that that is exactly the right wording... as a writer, to become an author, you "evolve". And as Dana says, writing is a labor of love. It is.
One thing to add though: the endresult is satisfying. The sense of accomplishment is great, and that lingers on for a very very long time.
So here's today's guestblogger Dana:
"The evolution of a Writer"
So you want to be a writer do you?
Then prepare yourself for skepticism, raised eyebrows and a lot of work.
Those around you, even loved ones, will question your decisionto become a writer at first. They will brush it off good-naturedly with acompassionate smile as if it was just another whim of fancy that will or might pass.
Then as days, weeks even years pass with you hunched over the computer or laptop, sometimes with a pen held feverishly in hand,things start to change.
The permissive grins and nods might become expressions of admiration...possibly even belief that yes, this right here...might just possibly be a writer.
For those who would want to spend numerous long nights agonizing over character, plot and dialogue, mind spinning and churning. Who else would peruse the thesaurus as if it was his or hers most cherished book. Who would want to deal with all the intricacies and pitfalls of the English language, the grammar...the qualifiers...the synonyms and the POVs (Points of View).
Only someone with a fire in his or her belly would. Someone with a love for that enticingly and forever elusive Perfect word, Sentence or Paragraph. Someone with a mad glint in their eye and an unquenchable thirst, insatiable hunger of Writing.
As you write pouring your soul, your heart...bursting forth into the rolling pages...sometimes soaked with tears sometimes with laughter...it changes your very self.
It changes who you are at the core.
The yearning...the craziness of it all...the beauty will consume most of your waking moments.
They say everyone can write. Only those with a passionate, gnawing...burning yearning will become true writers.
. . .
My own journey began early. As a child, I pored over the Encyclopedia and attempted to outline short stories set in my home town ofOsijek in Croatia. Endless fields of swishing cornfields and swaying sunflowersof the idyllic Croatian countryside further inspired me to pen whimsical poemsand dramatic essays.
Later, as my grasp of language grew I swooned over thewritten words of Hemingway, Flaubert, Shakespeare, Sienkiewicz, Zagorka, Andricand other European and Balkan authors. An endless world of possibility extendedin front of me and I yearned to recreate it even in some minute way.
Throughout my early teens, while I lived in Libya, Iraq,and the Sudan, I wrote YA novels and reread them proudly to my mother... my staunchest supporter. The novels still exist in my drawer, frayed and yellowedstacks of notebooks.
Decades passed. I was married, moved to the United States then Qatar, and later relocated to Dubai.
As I raised four children, attended college, worked as alegal and medical interpreter in the USA, got older and hopefully wiser…that old yearning still existed inside me. It flickered on and off like a neon sign at the back of my mind. Waiting.
When my oldest left for college, I took the plunge, got a new computer and desk, and settled them by the window. Then, just like that, over night it seemed…I started writing a novel.
The process was exhilarating but riddled with awkward,tricky obstacles of which I was not previously aware. To write a ‘first’ full-lengthnovel was no easy task and a miraculous learning process. Compounded with a busylife…children, husband, and all the other things that fill our existence…it seemed insurmountable. I was faced with those same smirks, the sympathetic nods. Many thought it must be the hormones; the middle age crisis or simplythat I was losing my mind! Those who knew me well though, never doubted me. Encouraged,supported, and loved by my mother, children and husband I plodded on. One word at a time.
I was a product of a multicultural nomadic life…a divided sense of identity…of third culture… and therefore fascinated, inspired by stories and observations of lives changed by place. The intricate threads that bind us and connect us wherever we happen to be on this planet.
My novel ‘Dubai Wives’ is a tender labor of visualizing such a story, planning, and observing. The characters were born out of a lifetime of immersion in a multicultural society, with Dubai serving as the backdrop. Once I started, there was no turning back.
Every moment of this journey has been amazing. I wouldnot change it for the world.
So keep writing…reach for those dreams…do not let anyone tell you otherwise!
I wish Dana lots and lots of success with her novel. It can be ordered on (amongst others) Amazon.com
|Posted on December 17, 2010 at 7:12 AM||comments (0)|
Think about someone telling a joke. Jim Carrey would be a great example.
The secret of people that are masters at jokes is STORYTELLING. When you tell a joke, the story and reveal of the clue is not just about perfect repetition of a sequence of events. Joke-tellers add flavor to the humor by adding elements, by completing the picture.
As authors we need to learn from strong comedians on how they build up the story; how they describe location, situation, feelings of all the characters, twist of events. Also, what blanks do they leave in the story to create suspense...and...confusion? Those blanks are often more important than words -if you know what I mean. Now that's the sort of tension you want in your story, whether you write for adults, YA or specific target groups.
When you hear a cracking joke, it's as if you are a PART OF it; you don't have to think it through; the picture is complete.
So, when you edit, ask yourself: did I complete the picture? Can the readers SIT IN the situation? Did I add enough flavor notes (Auditive-can they hear it? Emotional-can they feel it? Visual-can they see it?)
Give it a go. Build up your story/novel/shortplay like a joke!
send examples of your funniest (complete) jokes to firstname.lastname@example.org
|Posted on November 27, 2010 at 9:51 AM||comments (0)|
For you to become a writer, you need to find a way to connect to language. Language needs to be your best friend. Find your love for language. Discover how words "flow", paint pictures with them, let them go wild, feel them, twist them. Put emotion in sentences. Play around with grammar. Change the order of the words to create a new angle. (Need a new angle? Change the order of the words!) (By changing the order of the words you can create a new angle.) (Ordering of words, that's what creates the angle to your words.)
How do you do that? Well, that's easy: write, write, and write some more. Quantity at first is what you're after. Once play time is over, you can start worrying about story, plot, character build-up, twists & turns.
Next, you have to sink deep in the language river. Once you're there, swimming comfortably in the words will get easier and easier.
I invited a master at language to write a guest blog and give his point of view and his experiences when it comes to the "craft" of writing: poet, and for this occassion guestblogger Frank Dullaghan:
Kurt- "What's your experience with language? How have you trained yourself to master the art of language, of words?"
Frank -My primary degree is in Economics so I didn’t come to language through an Eng Lit degree or the like (although I did obtain an MA in Writing much later). My first recognition of the power of words came from reading the Irish poets Yeats and Kavanagh in my mid teens. I was taken by the way they could take very simple words and make something that was incredible. I realised it was their ability to create sharp images that could be seen in the head, that did it. Of course, there is much more to it. But that’s where I started.
In terms of mastering the art of language, this came through reading – reading closely to see how the writer achieves his effects. I began to learn that each individual word is important. It’s too easy to use cliché and standard phrases – what I call ‘tired language’. It’s like the way a child will tell a story – this happened and then that happened and then this. You need language that is fresh, active, that shows rather than tells. You need to maintain the interest of the reader. You need to surprise and delight them. They must never want to put down your book. It’s more than the story, it’s about the language too.
Kurt- "What's your best advice for starting writers?"
Frank-I have three pieces of advice which I think are essential if you want to become a good writer:
1 Read the best writers, not the easy ones, and read them closely to see how they do it.
2 Seek out strong criticism – you will only improve if you are willing to give up your darlings and accept that improvement is needed. Never stop doing this.
3 Write, write, write – it does get better.
Kurt- "What are some of the problems you have encountered when writing, when playing with words and languages?"
Frank-I think we all have a store of favorite words, phrases, constructions etc which we tend to fall back on. I noticed this when I put my first collection together. So like everyone else, I struggle to renew and freshen the language. I find the best way of doing this is to push myself out of my comfort zone – like forcing myself to write formal poems, or using someone else’s vocabulary. It doesn’t necessarily produce a good piece but it can lead to improvements if you continually do this.
The other big problem we all encounter is the blank page. What is there to write about? The best thing here is to just start – look out the window and describe what you see, ask yourself creative questions about what you see – what sound does sunlight make? What colour is the flight of a bird? What would the lake say if it could talk? Write down your answers. It really doesn’t matter what you write. The thing is that you are writing and often in a way that is different. Something usually (and sometimes something unusual) comes. Of course, you then have to go back and delete all the rubbish that got you there.
Kurt "In your view, how different is writing poems versus writing a novel? Does it require a different skill?"
Frank-Well writing is writing, so you must have those skills to start with – an imagination, a facility with language, the ability to be accurate and particular. But after that, there is a significant difference. Novels and stories are more expansive, they have more space. Poems are small animals by comparison and you need to be careful about the words you feed them. Each word must earn its place. It must be the right word. It needs to be fresh, clear, and, sometimes, surprising. Imagery and metaphor, sound (music), repetition and pattern, become essential tools for the poet. Often the brevity will allow you to overthrow the normal rules of syntax and sentence structure – but this can only be done when you already understand the rules of good writing. Poets need to understand grammar and punctuation as well as novelists – perhaps even more so.
Kurt- "Can you cite one of your poems; one that reflects good writing"
Frank-Perhaps I could site a poem where I am happy with the way I use language and let others determine whether it reflects good language.
My poem Ordinance Survey Ireland 84 – West Cork is a poem that came from opening out a map and reading out the names of towns.
Place names can have such power:
Hungry Hill, Derryclancy, Coombane –
high names in her silent room,
The litany of names anchors the poem into a place (West Cork, Ireland) but also add music – the half rhymes between ‘bane’ ‘names’ and ‘room’; between ‘hungry’, ‘hill’ and ‘high’. The word ‘high’ adding importance to the place names as well as signifying that they are physically high – they are towns along the ridge of a mountain range. Then after all the music and noise of the names, the ‘her silent room’ is in a quieter register and so gives the feeling of silence.
The next two lines are:
his dinner cold on the table,
the clock slowly wiping its face –
These lines begin to set up the narrative of the poem – a woman whose husband does not come home. It does this with economy. The third line does it all. The image of the clock signifies that a lot of time has gone by, it uses language suggesting the finishing of a meal to strengthen the previous line, it gives a visual picture of the hands of the clock moving slowly, and is fresh, surprising and interesting. The overall result should be that the emotional empathy for the woman is built with very little words. This is what I mean about the power of words in poetry. They are all very ordinary words. It comes down to the way they are used and how they are placed on the page. This is a twenty line poem and these are just the first four lines. So you can see the amount of work, revision etc that must go into the making of a good poem. And, of course, the poem when finished must flow and not show any of the scars or bandages that resulted from this battle you have had with it.
I hope that this gives you a little insight into my working practice and the importance I place on language. Any old kind of writing won’t do. I’ve seen so many promising pieces of writing let down by insufficient focus on the words being used – a great story or a great image spoiled by the use of tired, lazy writing. It’s not easy. Which brings me to my final comment: all writing is about re-writing. You must revise. Over and over again!
Thank you Frank - quite inspiring stuff; as usual. Kurt
If you are interested in a copy of Frank's book, it can be purchased from my publisher. On the Back of the Wind, published by Cinnamon Press:
On the Back of the Wind by Frank Dullaghan
Frank Dullaghan’s quietly spoken poems move between tenderness and terror with a humane warmth. They deal with the business of the world as experienced by a fully human being. The language follows and embraces a wide range of affairs, touching on loved, known and dangerous things – the texture
|Posted on October 26, 2010 at 11:49 PM||comments (0)|
The most difficult task when it comes to managing creativity, is creating against a given task. Typically, creatives (artist, writers, you name it), have their own way of working, their "system", their agenda. I'm like that. Very difficult to box me in and within that box let me create. Same goes for the advertising agencies I work with professionally - I feel their pain when we lay one hundred of mandates on them and then ask them to make great commercials. Having that said, it is very well doable to create, or in my case write, against a task.
I got a task a few weeks back from a book blogger Velvet (http://www.blogger.com/profile/10924589941745430884). Whether I could write a GUEST BLOG for her blog. Sure! was my immediate response. Little did I know that it would be a bit harder than that. I have done a few guest blogs in the past where I had the "freedom" to write about myself, my publishing experiences, and my book - easy enough. This was going to be different.
Here's the briefing that I got:
"October Trix-n-Treatz guest post
Premise: Alice in Wereland (twisted version of Alice in Wonderland) a place where Alice travels through Wereland and meets were-creatures i.e. werewolves, were-rats, were-dragons, etc.
Select a were-creature of your own.Create a scene were Alice meets your were-creature.
What would your advice be to Alice in this world?Or create some other conversation between the two.
Length of piece: open"
It took me some time to get my head around it. But I got excited by having to work differently than I normally would. So, I disected the whole briefing, started looking around the world of were-creatures, found that all was a bit of the same, and decided to create something significantly different, in my own style. Read this sentence again. This was the trick to unlock my creativity: I created my own space, my own creative freedom, where I could do "my thing" - no different than any other writing bonanza.
Here's my submission:
Alice meets WereBees
by Kurt Frenier
One day, Alice decided to take a walk in the forest. A new book under her arm, she was eager to escape from her duties and drown in the story. The sun was shining on her uncovered shoulders and that was precisely what she looking for: to find a suncovered spot between the tall trees where she could dream away, with the heat as her blanket. It wasn’t long before she found the perfect hiding place.
She gently sat down on the soft grass under a vibrant an young, tall tree. Alice turned the leather book to page 16 where she left it the day before. For a minute, just before she started reading, she looked straight into the sun, absorbing its every energy. Her breathing slowed down – she was at peace. Her mind was empty; ready for the story to sink in.
She’d read no more than two sentences before she was brutally interrupted by a squeaking sound. A good looking girl, dressed in the prettiest of dresses stood a few meters away from her. She made a high pitch noice – Alice wasn’t sure whether she was singing or crying. Alice stood up, dropped her book, and looked at the girl. “Hey, little girl, what’s going on?” The girl didn’t react. She just stared back at Alice , her face innocent and sweet. Then the girl started running away from where Alice was, as if she was being followed.
Alice didn’t know what to do. She looked around but saw no one. She doubted – should I follow her, or just pick up my book and continue reading. Deep in her heart she felt a stinging feeling, as if something was wrong. Her instincts told her not to move. Her heart told her a different story – the innocent in the girls eyes reflected the innocent she had inside of her as well. She wanted to follow.
"In the eye of fear, just think of all the discoveries you might make if you just go along with what life puts in front of you", her mother had told her once. Those wise words echoed in her head now. She desperately wanted to discover what was up with this girl, despite her doubts and fears.
So Alice decided to follow the girl; hesitantly at first, but fiercely later on. She walked for at least half an hour, through thick bushes, jumping over rocks, passing many little roads inside the forest she'd never walked on before. Along the way, Alice kept shouting "Hey little girl, stop. Stop. Where are you going?"
But there was never a response, apart from the girl looking back from time to time to check whether Alice was still behind her. Although Alice wanted to give up herself, she couldn't. There was something intriguing about this girl, and about the whole situation for that matter. After the long walk they arrived at the top of a hill, central in the big forest. There was only one tree; a huge tall tree. Both girls slowed down their pace.
It was late in the afternoon already. Clouds were appearing on the horizon. The sky looked dramatic; even scary. Alice 's blood was pumping from the heavy walk. She was excited - her hunger to know what was going on was going to be satisfied soon.
Then Alice saw them, in the distance, standing under the thick tree: a circle of young girls, all giggling and having fun. They were all about her age; maybe slightly younger. It looked like an inviting party up there. It felt very appealing to take part in whatever they were doing.
Alice got up closer.
When she was a good 10 meters away from them (the girl she had followed joined the circle), the girls stopped dancing and turned their heads toward her -as if they had smelled her. They were now staring straight into Alice 's eyes.
Alice stopped walking. The pretty picture of all jolly girls looked very different all of a sudden; hostile even.
It is getting late, Alice thought. Maybe I should head back home.
The words of her mother came back to her: "In the eye of fear, just think of all the discoveries you might make if you just go along with what life puts in front of you".
I came this far to check this out. It would be a shame not to follow this through, Alice said to herself, pumping her moral. She stepped forward until she was within reasonable reach to talk to the girls.
"Hi", she started.
"I'm Alice ".
"You seem to be having fun here; what's going on?" - she made it sound very casual to break the ice.
The little girls just stood there, with frozen looks.
Then they all made one step forward, synchronized, towards Alice .
At that very moment, the sun set, and the moon appeared. Something strange and daunting happened: the girls...changed!
First, their color faded; they looked like spirits -almost translucent. Then they shrank, then dropped to the floor only to make a popping sound and a second later starting to fly and buzz - they had all tuned into bees. Not your regular kitchen and garden bees, but big nasty looking killer bees; at least 10 times bigger.
Alice was nailed to the ground, astonished about what she saw happening in front of her eyes. There were now a good twenty big yellow-and-black vicious looking bees, flying in her direction. She could see there sharp, long stingers shining -it was the reflection of the moon.
They moved faster, ready to attack Alice , with the bee that was the innocent girl in the lead. Alice ran. And ran. And ran. But she was not fast enough.
"No, no, no" she shouted, completely out of breath.
"I have done nothing wrong! Leave me alone."
"Don't fight it", the bee in front said, close to her ear.
"If you accept, the transition will be less painful".
There was no way Alice could resist them all. She was surrounded. They were all over her. She could feel the stings; in her arms, her legs, her neck.
She dropped to the ground. Or did she? Before her body hit the floor, it felt as if she'd become smaller. A lot smaller. Her vision became sharper.
She could not only see in front of her but also besides her; almost 360 degrees around. She felt warm; very warm. Her thoughts disappeared. Where she'd been feeling confused a second ago, her mind was empty now.
"Welcome sister", one of the bees said. Alice was on the same height as her, flying as well. She didn't understand.
The only thing that went through her little bee mind were the words of the mother she'd never see again: "In the eye of fear, just think of all the discoveries you might make if you just go along with what life puts in front of you". She was IN the adventure.
Were post created for October Trix-n-Treatz by Kurt Frenier
© 2010. All rights reserved.
Not bad, if I may say so myself. The message: if you are boxed it, break it - stretch it - melt it - reframe it - shred it - whatever ... but don't let yourself be stopped.
Let me know what you think.
|Posted on September 22, 2010 at 12:17 PM||comments (0)|
|Posted on September 15, 2010 at 1:45 AM||comments (0)|
The recognition for an actor is the applause. The recognition for an author is a review. Nowadays, with sooooo many blogs and book forums around, there are plenty of spaces where reviews can be posted.
I have recently discovered one of the most powerful book websites, called SHELFARI, powered by Amazon. A smart move. And a wonderful resource. There are many qualified reviewers, as well as readers of all genres and all ages.
I am grateful to the many reviewers of my new book The Studytrain, Reunion of the Untouchables. Here are a few:
|Posted on September 9, 2010 at 11:10 AM||comments (1)|
As a writer in the process of pulling together a story, you have to "play" with words, with language. While doing that, you get a reconfirmation of the strength, depth and beauty of words.
Some words in our vocabulary are ... magical! They have a ring to them; They intrigue; They are not obvious; They are nice to hear again!
Here are a couple of my recently re-discovered beautiful words:
Ferocious - From Latin ferox (“wild, bold, savage, fierce”) < ferus (“wild, savage, fierce”)
Buoyant - Lighthearted and lively
Predicament - An unfortunate or trying position or condition; a tight spot
Vintage - having an enduring appeal; high-quality, classic
Bravado - A swaggering show of defiance or courage
Prerogative - A hereditary or official right or privilege
Callous - Emotionally hardened; unfeeling and indifferent to the suffering/feelings of others
Voracious - Having a great appetite for something
Vituperation - Criticism or invective which is sustained and considered to be overly harsh
Fornication - The act of such illicit sexual intercourse between a man and a woman which does not by law amount to adultery (oops)
Maelstrom - Any violent or turbulent situation.
Dazzle - To render incapable of thinking clearly; to overwhelm with showiness or brilliance
Fledgling - An immature, naïve and/or inexperienced person
Gusto - enthusiasm; enjoyment, vigor
Percolate - To spread slowly or gradually; to slowly become noticed or realised
Ramification - An offshoot of a decision, fact etc.; a consequence or implication, especially one which complicates a situation
And... last but not least (for fellow TBBT fans) : Bazinga (I bow to the one that invented that word)
|Posted on August 17, 2010 at 11:46 AM||comments (0)|
Language and aging; and changing love stories.
In the theme "how to play with language":
Look at your kids and how they describe you as they get older (and you too!!). Words are changing according to how they see you as a father, a mother, a grandmother.
It's not just about synonyms.
Observe the intensity of the words: from "sweet/emotional" to "descriptive/factual"l to "distant": (you can feel the change in the loving relationship with each word): "daddy" ... changes into "dad" ... when they are teenagers they talk about "my dad" ... when they meet a boy/girl friend that transforms into "my father" or worse "my old man" ... and then you become nothing more than a "distant family member" by the term "my folks".
[On a related note, but not linked to aging, think about this: how do YOU describe people in YOUR book, let's say your significant other, or that of your main character: "sweetheart"... "baby"... "fiance" .... "wife".... "spouse".... "ex wife". Lots of emotions and proximity/distance in all those.}
Building on what I proposed in an earlier blog post: it's all about choices. What word do you REALLY want to use as you are writing. What intensity and emotion are you after?
Each word counts!
|Posted on July 9, 2010 at 5:57 AM||comments (0)|
HA! Your publisher has finally assigned an ISBN number to your book; or you've gotten one yourself. Feels like ecstasy! Your book is alive! And acknowledged. You will be found in the eternal book records, and can even already be found online.
Your new isbn number is like the announcement of the pregnancy of the book. The launch is the birth of the book. Whereas the idea was the conception. Dramatically exaggerated of course, but you get the picture. Once your book is out, the ISBN is the ID-card for your book so anyone anywhere can always find it back. How cool is that. Praise the man who invented it.
Now, what's this ISBN thing all about? As always, wikipedia has the answer:
The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a unique numeric commercial book identifier based upon the 9-digit Standard Book Numbering (SBN) code created by Gordon Foster, now Emeritus Professor of Statistics at Trinity College in Dublin for the booksellers and stationers W.H. Smith and others in 1966. Since 1 January 2007, ISBNs have contained 13 digits, a format that is compatible with EAN-13s.
My ISBN for The Studytrain, Reunion of the Untouchables:
|Posted on May 28, 2010 at 12:33 AM||comments (1)|
One of the questions I get sometimes is how to ensure page-turning. Not necessarily an easy one to answer. Everyone has his own style, and with that style of writing comes a certain literary effect. I think.
I can share my one 'system' that I use to try ensure read-through-effect, tension and attention: DIALOGUE ! Adding more dialogue lightens up the text and draws the reader in. It is an essential part of storytelling and why storytelling works. Look around you, listen to your friends, watch how movies are building up their story line. I for one get terribly bored when there is too much description, when there is too much background, when things are not moving. Dialogue breaks through that and allows the reader to replicate the dialogue in his own head; how cool is that? (sorry - I'm getting a bit carried away here)
Writing dialogues in itself is an art. Again, here's my own take on it ...
As an example (and please feel free to critique), a short extract from my latest book, The StudyTrain - Reunion of The Untouchables:
“You know what we should do? Go sit on the beach. I’ve never had sand between my toes,” Ethan said.
“Boring,” was the answer.
“Hey, lots of girls in bikinis on the beach, Solome,” the voice came from the window on the other side. It was Robin. Robin was a Canadian guy with a healthy sense of humor. He could tell jokes like there was no tomorrow. He and Solome were close friends. They’d gotten on board in the same recruiting year, and that gave them a special bond.
“Damn. You’re right,” Solome replied. “Let’s go to the beach during our free time.”
“Agreed,” Ethan seconded.
When they stepped out of the train, which had parked near the World Trade Center building, Ethan was again surprised by the ingenuity of Grandmaster P. The train was not there anymore. It was invisible indeed, just as Lord Althulos had said on day one.
Althulos must have seen the surprise in his eyes and said to Ethan as he was assembling everyone, “Imagine parking a train in the middle of Barcelona. Would be some spectacle, don’t you think? That would be a good way to get rid of our secrecy.”