28 January 2013

Reading Aloud

 Do you read your work out loud? Whether to a trusted friend or to yourself? Reading aloud is one of the most valuable tools anyone ever suggested to use as a writer. Not only does vocalizing your word choices allow you to catch those pesky cut and paste errors of omitted letters or typographical oopsies, it sheds a different light onto your composition. To hear the language combination brings a scene alive in a way that simply scanning words on a page visually misses. Non-fiction author and literary professor Verlyn Klinkenborg explained some of the process in an Op-Ed piece in the The New York Times:
 Reading aloud recaptures the physicality of words. To read with your lungs and diaphragm, with your tongue and lips, is very different than reading with your eyes alone. The language becomes a part of the body, which is why there is always a curious tenderness, almost an erotic quality, in those 18th- and 19th-century literary scenes where a book is being read aloud in mixed company. The words are not mere words. They are the breath and mind, perhaps even the soul, of the person who is reading.       

This past weekend I was was fortunate to be involved in a Readers' Theater presentation with Gecko Gals Ink, and one of the contributing playwrights commented that the play she co-wrote with my friend Ashleen O'Gaea  "seems funnier read aloud onstage than on paper."  She sounded wonderfully surprised by this observation. "Suddenly, Without Warning" is a funny one-act farce about actors at the mercy of the narrator of a play that veers from space adventure to Western to science fiction quite suddenly and without warning. Cast the roles with actors who love to ham it up and it was very entertaining.

I encourage you to read aloud - and as often as possible. I loved reading aloud to my son when he was small, and I enjoy reading my works in progress with one of my closest friends. It gives me a chance to try and experience the story from a different perspective and see if the emotions I hoped to convey shine through the language I've chosen. I enjoyed doing readings at signings, so I'm looking forward to March 3, 2013 when I'll be reading from my works at the The Los Angeles St. David's Day Festival - National Day of Wales at  Barnsdall Art Park.
Read with more than your eyes and fully experience the joy of storytelling, whether the book is of your own creation of not. It will enrich your experience and strengthen both your joy of reading and your writing.


17 January 2013

Writers and Marketing

I love talking with other writers. There is always something new to learn. One universal bane of those who are published is marketing. It never seems to end. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Plus, blog tours, websites, group chats...it can be overwhelming at times.

What free time I have I would love to spend writing, absorbed in my little cocoon of creation. But, sad to say, reality constantly demands my presence, whether to participate in my real job to put food on the table or to try and garner attention to my books. So I try to choose marketing techniques that 1) I am comfortable with and 2) don't take hours and hours of time.

My blog tends to suffer from my time constraints, and for that I apologize. I do try to post at least every two weeks if I can't get to it weekly. And my goal this year is to share reviews of books I've read and interviews with authors I've met (either personally or in cyberspace) so those of you who also write may glean information from more than just my experience.

I will say that hard-sell, constant bleating on Twitter or Facebook immediately turns me off. I don't know how many other folks feel that way, but it's not something I care for and, therefore, try not to do. I'm sure it's an effective way to market or people wouldn't keep doing it, but it's not my cuppa tea.

What does work for me are speaking appearances, signings, keeping up with Facebook/Twitter, and talking with other authors. I sell more books in person than online, but I hope to work on that this year as well. 

So watch this space for upcoming events, reviews, and interviews. I plan to include books and people you find interesting, perhaps provocative, and definitely informative!

Happy January!

01 January 2013

Starting the New Year

Oh my goodness, how the time has flown! Happy 2013, my friends!

Didn't you think we'd be living like The Jetsons by now? Flying cars and houses way up in the sky? Heck, I thought we'd be off the planet's surface by 1999. But here we are, still happily held by gravity to an incredibly resilient Mother Earth.

The start of a New Year often motivates people to make Resolutions. I don't. I try not to make promises I can't keep and to me, a resolution is a promise. I will, however, Aim To Accomplish Some Things:

1) I solemnly swear I am up to no good .
For 2013, I aim to misbehave. Translation: I will kick up my heels and LIVE more freely. When the chance comes to run into the rain, I hope to take it. When an opportunity presents itself to act silly and dress up, I aim to seize it with both hands. Life is too short to be so damn serious.

2) I will work hard to maintain my health.
In 2012, I lost 60 pounds. My aim for 2013 is to keep it off and try to whittle off another 10-15 ...slowly. I don't want to be in pain as I grow older. I intend to walk all over Wales, Australia, Alaska, Argentina, Peru, New Zealand, Scotland, Ireland, Russia, and Spain before I am 70 years old.  (Well not ALL of Russia, just a big chunk.) Research for books in my head needs to include on-the-ground-locale recon, and you can't do that if your knees or hips are screaming. Yoga will be a more consistent part of my routine to keep increasing my ranges of motion. 

3) I will endeavor to learn more about my craft by reading more varied genres.
The process never ends, really. My reading has sadly taken a back seat to marketing and writing, so this year I hope to read more than ever. Even if it's in the bathtub at 2 AM.

4) The turkeys ain't getting me down.
I'm going to take the attitude of, "Meh, it isn't personal." Even if it is, I am going to practice blowing it off instead of blowing a gasket.  I have too many places to visit to be sidelined with a stroke.

So there you are, kids. My Aims To Accomplish for 2013. What are yours?