Welcome to this Saturday Edition of What We’re Writing and Reading.
We’re taking a little detour on the weekends now to share some of what we’re up to with our writing (when we’re not here) and what we’re into with our reading (around the web). We’ll also pull back the curtain a little to give you a behind-the-scenes look at what went into a piece.
We hope you enjoy this little diversion and encourage you to share your own posts and picks in the comments.
Happy writing! Happy reading!
Diane MacKinnon: I’m working hard on the final draft (hopefully) of a short story I’m planning to submit for publication by the end of the month. I love the changes I’ve made, with the help of my critique group, but now my story is too long! I have to go back and cut some of the unnecessary words out–I know they’re there, I just need to look with fresh eyes! Then the story goes back to critique group one more time before I have to submit. Other than that, I’m enjoying writing in my gratitude journal and my 5-year journal daily, and my (big) journal as often as I can.
As far as reading, I have a few books going right now. I’m listening to a book on CD, called Heart of the Matter, by Emily Giffin. I’m at the climax of the book (I think), but I can only listen when I’m in the car alone, so I don’t know when I’ll get back to it. It’s really keeping me interested, though! At night before bed, I’m reading a couple of different books, all non-fiction: Keeping a Journal You Love, by Sheila Bender, which is inspiring on many levels and helping me to journal more regularly; The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History, by John M. Barry, which is a fascinating story that has already taught me a lot about the history of medicine in this country and I’m not even half-way through it yet; and Have a New Kid by Friday: How to Change Your Child’s Attitude, Behavior, and Character in 5 Days, by Dr. Kevin Leman. This one I picked up from the library because these pop psych books are like candy to me. I love reading about human behavior and psychology and the brain, and I have a three-year-old now, who is not a problem child at all, but it’s always interesting to see what the “experts” have to say about raising children. One thing I did learn from the book was to focus on “encouragement” rather than “praise” as praise is related to end-result or product, and encouragement is related to effort and character. It made sense to me that it’s better to talk about the effort that was made rather than the result, since the result will not always be perfect.
Lisa J. Jackson: What I’m writing — Like Diane, I’m also prepping a short story for submission. I’m sending in to a mystery anthology. The deadline is the end of the month and it has to be snail mailed in, so I really need to get on it! I’d also like to submit a dark fiction short story to an anthology that extended its deadline to 4/15. Fingers crossed I’ll get that one in too!
What I’m reading — I’m finishing up Don McNair’s “Editor-Proof Your Writing”, and am reading the latest copy of Writer’s Digest Magazine, Ellery Queen Magazine, and Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. The short stories and articles have been the perfect fit this week.
I’m on a marketing kick and blogs of interest include: Jamie’s Suddenly Marketing – lots of inspiration and enthusiasm; B2B Digital Marketing – I’m drawn to the analytics the author posts, and his experienced look at today’s marketing world; and Chris Brogan’s blog that talks about the numerous aspects to owning your own business.
In related news: I’m spending today at a local 1-day writer’s conference and look forward to being around writers for 7-8 hours. I’m participating in workshops such as “Character is Key” (always like to learn about characters), “The Magic and Mystery of Middle Grade and YA Fantasy” (to see if I garner anything for one of my short stories mentioned above), and “Don’t Throw Away the Map” (looking at maps as a form of storytelling). And I should come away with even more ideas for stories by the end of the day.
Deborah Lee Luskin: I’ve been in Louisville, Kentucky, this week, attending the Humana Festival of New American Plays and sipping bourbon. On the way here, I explored the battlefield at Gettysburg, and generally, I’ve been seeing and learning and not writing, but absorbing all sorts of new information – which feels restorative. But, in this digital age, I’ve also been telecommuting with a pen-for-hire job that runs through the end of April. Doing so not only pays the bills but also means that my desk will be that much clearer when I return to work on Monday, and resume writing my novel.