The Lovely Blog Hop

I’ve been challenged by Darlene Jones, author of five novels (www.emandyves.com), to join the Lovely Blog Hop to share some of the things that have helped shape my writing and my life. Thank you, Darlene.

The blog rules include telling a bit about myself and my interests. So here I am, Anneli Purchase, sharing my trivia with you.

img729a

First Fond Memory

In the summer, going to the playground was always fun. My mother sat nearby on a bench while my brother and I played on the swings. I haven’t been able to figure out what it means that I was always the one who stood protectively (and in charge) on the swings to pump them ever higher with my brother tucked safely between my feet. Either I love my brother very much, or I’ve been a control freak since the age of five, or both.

snowball fight 1952 [2]

In the winter, my dad was the one who pulled the sled and had mock snowball fights with my brother and me. My mother was usually at home making sure the hot chocolate was ready for us on our return.

Books

I got in trouble for reading at school. Nancy Drew mysteries were such page turners. I had to learn that even though the object was to teach us to read, the teacher needed my attention on her at times, and I had to abandon Nancy for a while. Later when I became a teacher, I used to wish I had students who would rather read than anything else in school.

Libraries

Our small town had very little to offer in the way of library books or guidance for children who needed to be steered towards something more challenging but just as stimulating as Nancy Drew mysteries. A huge gap in reading followed those early elementary school years. I was a young adult before a bookish friend got me on track again. That’s a story for another time and place.

Passion

Anything outdoors was my passion. Learning about the animals, camping, fishing, exploring, gardening, mushroom picking, birdwatching; that was a perfect way to spend my time. But wait, that’s not all. I had indoor passions too. I loved painting, making music, creating artsy things, writing, making up stories and plays, and playing sports — basketball, tennis, badminton, volleyball, even scrub baseball in the vacant lot across the street.

Learning

My first teaching job was in one of the last one-room schoolhouses on Vancouver Island. I had no teacher in a classroom next door to go to for help, so I had to learn fast in order to survive. My big passions while teaching were to make sure every child learned to read (because if all else failed, a person could catch up on knowledge later on if they could read), and to show the students that each one of them had an artist hidden in them. They were often surprised at their results and always proud of their artwork. Just a little guidance, and magical things can happen.

For myself, learning has never stopped. If I don’t know something, it bugs me and bugs me until I find out. I’ve always been like that, and while it drives some of my family crazy, it works for me and I love learning something new every day.

Writing

Writing is an addiction. I’m not happy if I’m not writing. All I need is paper, pen, and some quiet time. A computer is better, but paper and pen still work for me, too. I’ve written three novels and am working on my fourth. I can’t see myself stopping any time soon.

If you want to know more, check out my web page and my other blogsite.

www.anneli-purchase.com

http:wordsfromanneli.wordpress.com

And now I nominate Barbara Beacham.  https://salmonfishingqueen.wordpress.com/

Writing Do’s and Don’ts – by Barb Beacham

I’d like you to meet Barb Beacham, whom some of you may know from her blog  at http://salmonfishingqueen.wordpress.com/

(I think she’s cheating with her selfie. We can’t really see our mystery guest clearly, but she’s a bit shy.)

Selfie

Here is Barb with some of her ideas and tips about writing:

Thank you, Anneli, for inviting me to share about writing with you and your followers.

I have been writing for years. My ideas come to me at the most unexpected moments. When I see something and it strikes a chord, I write it down. You would not believe the pile of notes I have. There are notes on napkins, post-it notes, and on the backside of envelopes. I have since learned…First rule: Always carry something to write on and something to write with.

This leads to watching and experiencing. You have to watch life in order to understand it. You also have to experience it, with all of its rough edges and smooth spots, as well as those that are just a hmmm…People-watching leads to an understanding of human nature, and animal nature too. It is easier to write about something that you have experienced and places you have been, rather than  just making something up. I am an avid reader and I can tell you it is always apparent when the writer does not have knowledge.

When experiencing a moment in time, ask yourself, “Where will this go next?” I was sitting in an airport at a gate area that did not look like what all of us are used to. Everyone was sitting on the floor. A man walked into this area with a toy monkey on a tube that had a bulb on the end. All he said to us was, “Ninos.” Let’s look at this and ask: Was he selling a toy for kids? Was it a device that would detonate on the plane? Or, could the toy be possessed by the devil?

Write about what you know. Sure, you can tweak a situation to make it work for you. That is what fiction is all about. Write about places that you have been. This is certainly easier than dreaming up a world, like Tolkien did, which by the way was brilliant. Maybe Middle Earth was based on his surrounding area? Can’t you just hear him say to himself, “Doesn’t that mountain over there, with the cut off top, the rugged hillside, and the glow of the rising sun behind it, look like Mt. Doom?”

Face your fear of writing and being criticized. Not everyone is going to like what you write, but many others will appreciate it. Look at all the negativity that Hunter S. Thompson got on his articles and books. They still made a movie out of that book “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.” The book was great, the film…not so good. Crazy as it was – the book that is – it was a journey that was one man’s adventure. Did you have any of those when you were young that were so crazy it brings a smile to yourself today?

Beware: Do not create characters, or name them, with something that identifies that person in a way that others will recognize. Blend instead. Blend your unreasonable mother with the sweet lady who baked you cookies when you were a kid.

Have a plan. Seems like a lot of work, but it will be worth it. This plan is the road map to your writing. Take all those notes you have collected and set them in an order that makes sense. Those that don’t? Use them for something else. You do not have to write in order of that map. You can write where the wind blows you. In the end, make sure that it works. Ask a friend to read it with a critical eye.

And then there’s passion.  Passion is a huge driving force in writing.  It helps you to pull what you have inside yourself out and into the words.  If you are passionate about the project, the words will flow.

Regarding writer’s block:  When you hit that wall, step away from what you are doing and take a walk, bake some cookies, just do something else for a while.  You need to step away from writing in order for that flow to come back.  Don’t be discouraged over this.  Mark Twain stepped away from “The Adventures Huckleberry Finn” for a couple of years.  He was midway through the book when he did this.

Nothing drives me crazier than reading a book, a published book, that has grammar errors and typos. Check, re-check, and re-check again. Use a software program that will review that too. Be aware that words do sometimes get bypassed because they are spelled correctly, but the usage is wrong. Another reason to have someone else who is good with your native language review your writing.

The last thing that you need to do is practice writing. Flash fiction challenges are good for this. You have to write a story with a limited number of words (make sure you stick to that limit) that has a beginning, middle and end. I would love to see what you write and will help you. Please visit my flash fiction site Mondays Finish the Story.

*****

I thank Barb Beacham for her insights into her writing. What about you, dear Reader? Your comments are always welcome on my blog. Please “add your two bits’ worth.” We’d love to know what you think.