Thursday, September 30, 2010

Topic: One-sentence Short Stories.

Purpose of this blog: Topics related to writing.

10-second review: I noted that the literary magazine Monkey Bicycle listed one-sentence short stories among the usual fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. I wondered, “What the heck is a one-sentence short story?”

Title: “Monkey Bicycle.” Reviewed by Melissa Hart. The Writer (October 2010), 47.

Example of a One-Sentence Short Story:
“Nagging Blind Spot”
Michael Noon

“Paul heard Julie’s quick intake of breath as he changed lanes and thought, here she goes again—.”

Comment: I need to try some one-sentence short stories. RayS.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Topic: Evaluating Research

Purpose of this blog: Critical Review of Research

10-second review: When we encounter the expression, “Research says…,” we are inclined to accept what it purportedly says without questioning. What does the research actually say?

Title: “How to Find and Evaluate Research.” K James-Enger. The Writer (October 2010), 40-41.

What questions should you ask about research?
Quote: “In general, the larger the study, the better. In other words, a study conducted on 50,000 people holds more weight than one conducted on several hundred. And I say people for a good reason—hundreds of thousands of published articles are on animals, not people—and those kinds of results aren’t always duplicated in humans. It’s OK to cite an animal study if that’s all you have, but your article should make it clear that the subjects were, say, mice, not people.”

Comment: I have often noted in educational research that the author(s) use such expressions as “suggests” when discussing findings. Does such a finding warrant the statement, “Research says….”? RayS.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Topic: How to Find Salable Ideas for Writing

Purpose of this blog: Topics related to writing.

10-second review: The author lists several sources of ideas. But you have to follow up the ideas.  

Title: “Never at a Loss for Ideas.” JE Phillips. The Writer (October 2010), 38-39.

Quote: “You’ll find your daily newspaper, especially the features section, a gold mine….”

Quote: Determine what people are good at doing and write about it.

Quote: Learn something new or interview someone who interests you.

Quote: “Every problem you or your acquaintances have is an opportunity to sell a story.” Introduce the problem and then tell readers how to solve it.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Topic: Self-Publishing

Purpose of this blog: Topics related to writing.

10-second review: Should you self-publish?

Title: “Should You Self-Publish?” Marcia Meier. The Writer (October 2010), 36-37.

Quote: “For years, self-published books have suffered from an industry bias—in many ways justified—that such books would never see the light of day with a ‘legitimate’ publisher. Typically they suffered from bad writing and editing, adding to the belief that a self-published book is inferior. “

Comment: I have self-published a book, Teaching English, How To…. Xlibris, 2004. It’s 538 pages in length. I’m an English teacher and in my estimation it is pretty well written. What it isn’t is “pretty well edited.” Once you have scoured the text for editing, you have to pay for every mistake you discover afterward. After poring over those 538 pages, time after time, I quit. I couldn’t afford to pay for the corrections that I continually found. And, in truth, there are a ton of mistakes that I continue to find. Taking on the work of self-publishing and self-editing is a crusher. RayS.

Quote: “Unless you have a good understanding of the entire process of book production and can do your own marketing, self-publishing is probably not for you. But particularly if you have a nonfiction book project and already have some publishing savvy-or are willing to put a lot of time into learning—it just might be the perfect choice.”

Friday, September 24, 2010

Topic: Research and Authenticity in Writing

Purpose of this blog: Topics related to writing.

10-second review: Nothing beats first-hand experience—or from interviews—when it comes to providing authentic details.

Title: “Add Texture to Your Novel with Solid Research.” Joseph Finder, author of The Moscow Club. The Writer (October 2010). 20-21.

Quote: “When I was struggling to write my first novel, The Moscow Club, I got to know another aspiring writer, a cynical and embittered (but funny) man, and told him I was immersed in research for a spy thriller I hadn’t begun to write. He shook his head slowly and scowled. ‘That’s a sign of desperation,’ he intoned ominously. ‘Research is an excuse for not writing.’ ”

Quote: “The longer I write, it seems, the more research I do. For The Zero Hour, whose hero is a female FBI counterterrorism specialist, I managed to wrangle official cooperation from he FBI, and I spent a lot of time talking to several FBI special agents. I also interviewed past and present terrorism experts for the CIA.”

Quote: “I’ve done interviews with a convicted forger for details on how to falsify a U.S. passport; with a bomb-disposal expert about how to construct bombs; with an expert in satellite surveillance to help me describe how the U.S. government is able to listen in on phone conversations. I’ve called upon homicide detectives, retired FBI agents, helicopter pilots, pathologists, even experts in embalming (or ‘applied arts,’ as they are called).”

Quote: “Since an important character in The Zero Hour is a high-priced call girl, I interviewed prostitutes, expensive call girls, and madams. As a result, this character is more sympathetic and believable than I’d have drawn her otherwise.”

Comment: All research is not in books. If you need authentic details, you need research. You need to go to the places about which you are writing. You need to interview specialists or people who have experience with what you are writing about. RayS.