November News

cropped-ramonalogofinal.jpgThe end of one year means planning for the next. I am busy scheduling appearances and readings, signing contracts for online classes, and making a major change in my career as an editor. Ahead is a peek at some of what’s ahead in my world.

November Events

Book Fair

On Saturday, November 10, I’ll be a featured speaker at the Art & Book Fair, one of norther Delaware’s biggest book events. I’ll also be selling the Mindful Writers charity anthology INTO THE WOODS. The event will feature multiple readers, and vendors selling books, art, and crafts. Lots of people to chat up and fun to be had. I hope to see  you there.Hockessin 2018

Literary Reading and Discussion

On Thursday, November 15, I will join Jen Epler for a reading and discussion “When Family Becomes Inspiration for Fictional Stories” at the Rehoboth Beach Museum. Jen is the recipient of a 2018 Individual Artist Fellowship in Fiction from the Delaware Division of the Arts. Our talk will include readings and a discussion forum on making the jump from truth to fiction when writing stories inspired by family.  For my own experiences in writing about family, you can read my IAF interviews: Masters Fellowship in Fiction in 2016 and Established Artist Fellowship in Creative Nonfiction in 2013.

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Teen Writing Workshops

On Sunday, November 25, poet Jane Miller and I will present a workshop for teen writers interesting in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. Seven workshops will be held in county libraries throughout Delaware to provide critique, guidance, and encouragement for young writers and artists.

Teen writing workshops 2018

Courses and Classes

It is always my pleasure to teach online courses for Sisters in Crime. In 2019, I will lead three courses for the Guppy chapter:

March 3 – 16:  Story Arcs
August 8 – 13:  Necessary Parts
Sept. 29–Oct. 10: Strong Starts
Stay tuned for updates on workshops and other classes at conferences in 2019.

Editing

My one woman editing business has been alive and well for ten years now–a cause for celebration but also for review. I have been fortunate to have enough work come my way that I can’t always handle the load, and I’ve been happy to refer writers to other trusted editors. In my 10 years as an independent editor, I have worked as a full time editor and part time writer. For 2019, I’ve decided to switch those roles and make writing my priority. I will be writing more and editing less. This means that I am happy to keep my current roster of clients but will not be accepting new ones in the coming year.

To the authors who have trusted me to review your manuscripts and brainstorm ideas, I am honored to have worked with every one of you. There is no greater job than helping people find the heart of their stories. Thank you.

 

10 Questions on Becoming a Better Writer

RamonaGravitarThe first step in solving a problem is recognizing you have a problem. Writers are often big quaking masses of insecurity, but zeroing in on a weak skill can be that first step in enacting change.

Take the quiz below. Answer honestly.

Continue reading

Fall 2013 Courses and Workshops

Upcoming Courses and Workshops

Interview Your Story Workshop

Dates: Sunday, September 8 – Saturday, September 21
Where: Online via Yahoo Groups
Subsidized cost: $35
Open to: Members of SinC Guppy Chapter
The workshop will guide the author in examining his/her story in series of daily Q &A sessions. There are three basic Question areas: The Story, The Storyteller, The Audience. The goal of the course is to allow the author to examine his/her story in great depth. A secondary goal is to help the author articulate what this story is about, why he/she is the perfect person to write it, and identify and write to the perfect reader for this story. Daily Topics below:
Sunday:      The Crime
Monday:     The Sleuth/s
Tuesday:    The Story World/Setting
Wednesday: The Quest and Emotional Journey
Thursday:   Theme
Friday:        Plot Points and Structure
Saturday:    Secondary Characters and Storylines
Sunday:     catch-up
Monday:     Suspects, Cops, Clues, Red Herrings
Tuesday:     Story and Character Arcs
Wednesday:    Resolution and Aftermath
Thursday:     The Author
Friday:         The Audience
Saturday:     Putting it all Together
Sunday:       catch-up
 

Writing A Novel: You Can Do It! series

Writing a Novel: You Can Do It! will be offered by the Harford County Public Libraries, Havre de Grace Branch in Havre de Grace, Maryland
This 4-part writing session is offered in advance of 2013 National Novel Writing Month in November. The sessions are free and open to the public, but registration is required. All sessions will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Mondays. To register, call 410-939-6700.

Monday, Sept. 16: Session One, Intro to NaNoWriMo presented by Lauren Carr
Monday, Sept. 30: Session Two, Preparing for a Month of Intensive Writing, presented by Ramona Long
Monday, Oct. 7: Session Three, Settings, Dialogue & Mind Games, presented by Lauren Fox

Monday, Oct. 21: Session Four, Structure: Beginnings, Middles & Ends, presented by Ramona Long

Scene Writing Workshop 

This online workshop is sponsored by the Mary Roberts Rhinehart Chapter of Sisters in Crime. To register, visit their website.

When:  Sunday October 13, 2013 – Saturday October 26, 2013 (2 weeks)
Where: Online via Yahoo Groups

How Much: $50 for Members, $60 for Non-Members

This course will examine the nuts, bolts, and necessities of good scene writing, addressing questions such as:
  • What is a scene?
  • What should a scene accomplish?
  • What are different types of scenes?
  • How do scenes move a story?
  • How do scenes work as set pieces?
  • How do you write an effective scene?
  • How do you insert subtext into scenes?
This workshop will be devoted to understanding, planning, and writing different types of dramatic scenes. The topics will include scene structure; scene goals; working with a scene checklist; and types: romance, action, fight, sex, introductions, contemplation, etc. Although there will be exercises, a work in progress or story idea would be helpful, so authors can work on scenes from their WIPs.
Preparation
This workshop will better serve writers of some experience as opposed to someone who has never written before. However, anyone who wants to learn about scenes and scene structure would benefit. A work in progress or, at the very least, a concrete story idea would be necessary, because this is a hands on workshop. We will discuss the different scene types, and I’d ask students to search within their drafts for types of scenes as examples. If that’s not possible, participants may have to write a new scene for the class.


12 Ways to Improve Your Writing in 2012

Here are some easy actions and activities than can sharpen your skill set. Most are free. All you need is willingness and an open mind.

1.  Attend a live reading! Hearing an author read their prose or poetry aloud is a special treat—and it helps you, a writer, hear emphasis on words or dialogue that’s not possible on a printed page. Many writers like to begin with an anecdote about the story, and that’s an added bonus. In my neck of the woods, we have a 30 year tradition called 2nd Saturday Poets, but we also have library readings, poetry slams, book talks at bookstores, visiting author series at the university. Attending shows your support for the local arts scene. We all want to support the arts, right?

2.  Read your work out loud. This is a follow-up to the above. Reading aloud helps you hear the rhythm of the writing. If you construct short sentence after short sentence, a live read will help you hear if your prose imitates Hemingway’s or if it sounds choppy and monotonous. Reading aloud also helps catch awkward lines and clunky dialogue.

3.  Try out an online class.  There’s a plethora of learning happening in cyberspace, so you never need to leave your house or get out of your jammies to polish your skills in characterization, active scenes, or figuring out what the heck is subtext. Professional organizations (RWA, Sisters in Crime, Pennwriters), writing services and private editors (ahem!) offer courses that run the range from one day to months. Give one a whirl.

4.  Free Write. A free write is an informal gathering of writers who meet to practice their writing, often through guided activities and prompts.  In 2011, I helped to facilitate a monthly free write at the county library. We met for three hours and combined prompts, sharing and quiet writing time. It was great fun to write on the spot, and to see how others responded to the same prompts and guides.

5.  Join a supportive group—a face to face group, an online forum, a Facebook writers group. This is to combat the whole “writing is lonely” thing, but also to give you a peek into how other writers operate. Talking shop or talking out problems can rev your creative engines, or make the struggle seem less isolating. And if there is good news, it’s always nice to have a cheering squad.

6.  Deconstruct movies and TV shows. Learn the meaning of a “cold opening” or a “meet cute.” Watch the clock and see how a TV drama breaks off at commercial (as you would with a chapter ending) or how a 2-hour movie will have a significant plot development every twenty minutes.  Imagine this TV show or movie as a novel and how it would be narrated, plotted, and told.

7.  Choose a favorite author. Think about why you like what this writer does—what in your chosen author’s body of work speaks to you as a reader. Jot down a few memorable scenes or favorite  plot developments.  Analyze—what’s so special about this writer’s work? What pulled you in? What did you admire? What was your emotional reaction?

8.  Challenge yourself and try to write something new: flash, poetry, a memoir piece, a story told in second person. Do this every few months.

9.  Think of a book you hated from school. (Mine would be Wuthering Heights. Blech. What do people see in Heathcliff? I don’t get it.) Read it now, with an open mind.  What did you dislike about it when you were younger? Do you still dislike this now?

10.  Get into the habit of running the Spelling & Grammar function when you shut down your work-in-progress for the day. Notice what pops up—typos? Sentence structure problems? Fragments? Improper word choice? Pay attention to the habitual problems in your work. Sometimes all it takes to repair a bad habit is to recognize that habit exists. Spell & Gram is a free, easy, and readily available resource to help you find those habits. Make using it your new habit.

11.  Read every day.

12.  Write every day.

 Best of luck in your writing endeavors in 2012!

Ramona

A New Look

Conventional wisdom says a person working in publishing should develop a recognizable look–a brand–that ties the person to the product. That is wise advice. That’s why I adopted this Fleur de Lis as a gravatar and personal symbol. It represents my Louisiana French heritage.

But when it comes to keeping one look forever and ever, my fickle French nature cries mais non! I like to mix it up a little here, hence the new look.

Change is good, and so is adapting to it, but there is value in the tried and true, too.

This past month, I tried something new: teaching an online workshop on Story Planning. I am grateful to my class of eager and talented students from the Mary Roberts Rinehart Chapter of Sisters in Crime out of Pittsburgh for their patience and generosity as we worked together throughout the course. I hope to offer the same class to other writing groups next year. Interested? Contact me for details.

I will also be offering my day-long course on Mastering the Art of Self-Editing next year. My editing calendar includes work on a couple of story anthologies, alongside novels and stories of all kinds. Somewhere in there I hope to facilitate more Free Writes and continue to promote the work and programs of my fellow artists here in Delaware.

And I will continue to write.

Bon chance to my writing friends and peers who are in the midst of change or happy with the status quo. Whatever works…work it!

Ramona