Category Archives: Blogroll

Question of the month

How can I stay motivated to write when the rejection slips keep coming?

ANSWER — CELEBRATE!

You might feel that you have nothing to celebrate, but you do!

We, The Other Bunch, attended an Idaho Writer’s Guild workshop on agents over this last weekend — what they can do for a writer and why they are important. We gathered a good deal of useful knowledge and tips from the panel of agents but, I think the most important nugget of advice came from Amy Rennert, of the Amy Rennert Agency of San Francisco. Her advice was to “Celebrate finishing your book; celebrate finishing a chapter; celebrate finishing a sentence, celebrate writing. It is hard but it is fun.”
Let’s face it we, writers, love to write. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t because the rewards are few and very rare. So, as Ms. Rennert advises, celebrate the joy of writing. Celebrate that we can make others see through our eyes, make them feel any emotion we choose. The reader will cry or laugh according to the words we choose to put on a page.
That is power worth celebrating. So let’s hear it for writing! Yahoo!

Question of the Month: Why do you write?

In a recent interview with Amanda Turner, host and producer of The Writers’ Block on Boise Community Public Radio based in Boise, Idaho, I was asked what advice I would give aspiring writers. “Know why you want to write,” I said. Running out of time, I added a few words about best-selling suspense writer Ridley Pearson, and the interview was over.

If I had had more time, I would have elaborated on that answer. I believe every writer should know why he or she wants to write, and here’s why. There are many reasons to be a writer. Not all of them have to do with becoming a published bestselling author. The way you measure success has a lot to do with your goals. For instance, maybe you write because:

  • you are a wordsmith, and like to play with words
  • you like to express yourself in writing
  • you like to tell stories
  • you have something to say
  • you want to make money
  • you want to see your name in print
  • you want to be famous
  • you want to be published

At base level, writing is writing. You sit down and put your thoughts on paper. You rearrange the nouns and verbs until the sentences make sense. For some writers this is enough; their success is seeing their words in written form. For others, success might be writing a story that has been passed down through generations. Others may not consider themselves successful unless they have published one book, two books, or earned a hefty advance.

I use Ridley Pearson to demonstrate what a successful writer looks like not because he’s a bestselling author, but because he knew what he wanted to accomplish as a writer, and did it. Some years ago, I attended one of his workshops at a writer’s conference before he was multipublished, and this is what he told us. He wanted to be a bestselling author before he turned forty. So he studied the industry and took steps to make that happen. He learned the craft of writing, did extensive crime research, targeted a specific market, networked, and queried. If you ask him, he will tell you he didn’t become famous over night. But he had a goal, and took the needed steps to make it happen.

Which leads me back to my advice for writers. Know why you want to write. It could be as simple as writing in your journal every day. It could be as complicated as writing a thousand page epic and getting it published. It could be to simply play with words. We all write for different reasons. Knowing why will help you get to where you are going.

-Bonnie Dodge

Why I love my critique partners

For more than 10 years, I have been in the same critique group and I love my critique partners.
Here are some of the reasons why.
They see what I do not. They help me talk out my writing problems. They are tough, but supportive. They have strengths where I have weaknesses. They are great listeners.
We need people who will read our writing to spot the gaps in plot that we have missed, when our characters are acting uncharacteristic, and just to read our writing from a different view. These are all the things we overlook because we are so close to our project. My critique partners have prevented me from making bonehead mistakes that would make me appear to be a total dope to an editor.
Sometimes when a plot or writing problem is rolling around in my head, they will also act as a listening board to help me talk through the problem and come up with a solution.
My critique partners can be tough in their reviews, but also point out the good stuff that I have written. I belonged to one critique group that was totally negative and I wanted to cut my throat at the end of each session. Not a good thing. As writers, we beat ourselves up enough. We need the right amount of negative and positive, so finding the right partners is essential.
I am strong on plotting. My critique partners are great at motivation and structure. They are more literary where I am not. They help me improve the weaknesses in my work.
I credit them with helping me make one of my books the best it could be. That one was published by FSG in New York. I paid for their dinner (and dessert), but owe them so much more.
They are there to listen to me whine and reassure that yes, I am a writer.
I have learned so much from them and I hope they can say the same for me. If I never publish another book, I am still so grateful to them for helping me become a better writer.
God bless my critique partners.
Patricia Santos Marcantonio

New Anthology in the Works

If you heard Bonnie’s interview on The Writers’ Block, you know that The Other Bunch is getting ready to launch a new book. This book is called Hauntings from the Snake River Plain, and will include essays, poems, fiction and nonfictional Idaho ghost stories. Beginning June 1, 2011, you will be able to submit your Idaho ghost stories for possible inclusion in this anthology. Check back often as we work out the details.

Bonnie Dodge guest on The Writers’ Block radio show

Bonnie Dodge reads her writing on the Writer's Block show

On March 10, Bonnie Dodge was interviewed by Amanda Turner, host and producer of The Writers’ Block, on Boise Community Public Radio based in Boise. If you missed the broadcast, you can listen to it here. Bonnie discussed a variety of topics, from the writing process to her involvement with The Other Bunch. She also read several of her works.

The Bus Stop, a short film

Check out Patricia Santos Marcantonio’s short film The Bus Stop. It’s a great indy black and white that will touch your heart.
-Bonnie Dodge

The Writers’ Block interviews writers

Please join Amanda Turner, host and producer of The Writers’ Block and me as we discuss my books and writing this Thursday, March 10 at 1 p. m. MT. Listen live at http://www.RadioBoise.org. If you miss the broadcast, you can find it soon at http://www.RadioWritersBlock.com where you can download previous shows.
-Bonnie Dodge

Another place to buy Voices from the Snake River Plain

We are pleased to announce that you can now find our book, Voices from the Snake River Plain, at the Herrett Center Store on the College of Southern Idaho campus. Stop by and check it out!

QUESTION OF THE MONTH

How do I connect with my reader?
Recently I connected with an author through the eons back to a prehistoric time. The ancient story, written an estimated 10,000 years ago, was etched onto a group of boulders by an Indian or Indians known as Pahranagats (one of several Southern Paiute groups). These petroglyphs were in an archaeological park located about 5 miles south of the intersection of U.S. Highway 93, Nevada State Highway 375 and Hwy. 318, on the east side of Hwy. 93 at mile 45.5 in Ash Springs, Nevada.
Whether the prehistoric writer was trying to immortalize a kill, invite potential game to a future hunt or record everyday life in his village, the subject matter was unmistakable. Although I do not speak the same language as those ancient people, the alphabet/writing system is different and a lot of time has passed since the writer pecked those symbols onto rocks — that author communicated the idea of snakes, four legged animals, birds, insects and humans to me. He gave me a glimpse into and an impression of his life in that location. I was temporarily transported to his time and village. I visualized his kinsmen, friends, neighbors and family laughing, joking and going about their daily life on a warm January afternoon in what would eventually become southern Nevada. I could see hunters returning with game over their shoulders, women grinding grain on their matates and children fighting around their mother’s feet. It was a magical moment — that ancient author had connected with this reader.
How wonderful would it be to have some person read my words 10,000 years in the future? Even if my name, like his, was lost in time — some of my message, life and impressions would be remembered. I would make a long term connection. Wow! Isn’t that what we writers are after?
If you want to see more petroglyphs go to my blog.

-Dixie Thomas Reale

2011 Here we are

It’s a new year, so it’s time for what you would expect.

Resolutions.

Of course, we all want to lose weight and exercise more in the coming months of 2011. But as writers, we need to add to that list.

One of my writing friends is fond of saying, “It’s time to put the butt in the chair.” Hopefully you’re not offended by the term used to describe our backside, but the course is clear for our No. 1 resolution of the year.

And that is to sit in the chair and write.

During the coming months, we will have many excuses why we won’t be sitting, from housework to day jobs to family issues to self-doubt about our writing. This will be the test of whether we are writers or just someone who just wants to be a writer.

Writing is damn hard. It takes discipline and sacrifice. We may work years on a book or screenplay and it may not sell to publishers or producers. We may be tempted to take our computer and dump it into the street. We may wonder if we are any good at writing, or whether we do have anything to say.

What can we do?

Put the butt in the chair.

There, we can build up the discipline we need to finish a project. We can learn what we are willing to sacrifice to tell our stories. If our book doesn’t sell, we can self-publish and get it out there. If our screenplay doesn’t wow Hollywood, we can shoot our own movies. We can improve our writing craft with instruction.

Writers do have something to say, which is why we write.

So in 2011, eat a few less calories, walk more steps, and put the butt in the chair.

Patricia Santos Marcantonio