Review of Storytelling for Pantsters

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always dreamed of writing the next Great American Novel. Certainly cliche for a blogger, I know.

We all have dreams, right?

But the thought of actually writing a long work of fiction that is coherent and meaningful hits me between the eyes with fear and leaves me with writer’s block. It’s almost easier to keep it as a dream rather than begin the actual work of crafting my first novel. Blogging is much easier, simpler in so many ways.

Having read all of the “greats” in college–Hemingway, Steinbeck, Woolf, etc–I am intimidated by even attempting to take on a novel as my next project. How do I top that?

If you feel similarly, then definitely check out Annalisa Parent’s new book, Storytelling for Pantsters. In Parent’s book, she not only addresses these common fears of first time authors but also lays out tips to master the craft of writing in a simple and engaging manner. Whether you have an MFA or are new to the field of writing, you will find something of interest in Parent’s book.

For writers like me who tend to “fly by the seat of their pants” when it comes to writing, Storytelling for Pantsters is valuable in that Parent not only accepts that some of us might not outline all of our writing, but she also teaches us how to use this as part of the whole writing process. In the book, she illustrates how writing doesn’t have to be a linear process, but can instead be circular in fashion, beginning with a free write and later drafts further refining the work.

Even with a degree in English, I have often been unclear on the elements of a work of fiction, such as plot pacing and the balance of action vs. character development. Parent provides aspiring authors with clear direction on these points as well as other tips on making a manuscript worthy of publishing. Her long-time experience with both teaching and publishing lends itself to a focus on the information that new authors need, along with the ability to clearly explain these elements of the craft.

Too, she also gives the reader encouragement to get past their fears. This is such a big part of being unable to write, and yet it is often ignored by those who teach writing.

Easy to read and yet full of important information, Annalisa Parent’s new book, Storytelling for Pantsters, is highly recommended for any author who would like to improve and work on their writing process.

 

Purchase Storytelling for Pantsters

Storytelling for Pantsers

Annalisa Parent

Laurel Elite Books

ISBN Number: 1947482017

Join Me in Becoming an Author?

becoming an author

This year has been difficult. Truly, truly difficult.

First, I was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer and was no longer able to work. Having survived the surgeries and treatments, now I find myself in the middle of a divorce. And to top it all off, my father was recently diagnosed with cancer.

So I’m taking a big leap and deciding to invest in me.

Although I’ve been blogging for years, it’s not quite the same as actually publishing a book. And that’s what I want to do. Become a published author.

But taking that leap of faith can be scary, and investing in an online course even more so. Trust me, I understand! I stayed up late many nights wondering if I should really do this.

Signing up for a course, only to learn that it doesn’t deliver on its promises– OUCH!

Self-Publishing School is different – and that’s my personal promise.

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I’ve dreamed of becoming an author for years, and I’ve decided that now is my time to shine.

It doesn’t matter if you can’t write, have no time, or no idea you CAN become a bestselling author, and Self-Publishing School WILL WORK for you.

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The Obsolete Woman

obsoleteAs I’ve grown older and reached middle age, some days I creep about, fully expecting someone to leap out of a dark corner, pointing their finger at me and yelling, “Obsolete!”

My particular skill set and education really are from a previous age, that time when our culture lay its emphasis on the power of the written word and the influence of authors. With the rise of Twitter, memes, and pithy quotes, I’ve watched as the necessity of masterful storytelling has faded even as the ability to manipulate and create multimedia–whether images, videos, gifs, or whatever–has taken precedence.

Also, much of my work history has been in libraries. Go figure.

I’ve attempted to roll with the course of culture and have learned how to create websites and fashion my own images. And, for awhile, I even gained income by working online. Lacking in education as far as these new skills were concerned, I pursued my own knowledge through research and trial–with lots and lots of error thrown in for good measure.

There is still that feeling of being obsolete, of having only “spindly limbs and a dream.” Such an apt description of me, even now.

When I found myself in the Cancer Center of Kansas yet again in July of last year, I was confused and upset. I was supposed to be done with all of this, wasn’t I? I had been a survivor for twelve years, and here I was again with a brand new breast cancer and a diagnosis of Cowden Syndrome. Spindly limbs indeed.

Looking in the mirror, I see a thinner, weakened woman who looks a bit like an old man. Sparse hair, large glasses, and no breasts just complete the image. All I need now are plaid shorts, black crew socks, and sandals.

Definitely obsolete as far as being “sexy” is concerned. I can’t remember now where I heard this, but in one movie–most likely a Lifetime movie–the middle-aged woman talks about being “invisible” to men. That certainly seems to be true in my own experience. No longer feminine…no longer working…and not yet at the “crone” stage of womanhood, although I seem to be reaching that at a far younger age than I ever expected due to the effects of cancer treatment.

“Past my prime” and unemployed, I seem to fit the description of “obsolete” more and more these days.

Our culture would echo that of The Chancellor, declaring, “You’re a bug…an ugly misformed little creature who has no purpose here, no meaning.” In the episode, refusing to be defined by the State and its culture, Romney Wordsworth responds, “I am a human being!”

And that, ultimately, is where his strength lies. The character of Wordsworth, filled with faith, refuses to be humiliated and denigrated. His trust remains with God and the power of the written word, even until the last.

In his upcoming book, Divine Direction: 7 Decisions That Will Change Your Life, Craig Groeschel says that God made us to “trust him to redeem your pain with his power.” No matter what has happened–or is happening–in my life, God can bring something good out of all of it.

My future is honestly up in the air right now. But there’s still hope. Groeschel goes on to say,

“Your story is not over….You have more chapters to write, more victories to win, more friends to meet, more of a difference to make, more of God’s goodness to experience. Even though you may not like the plot so far, with God’s help, you can transform your story into one you’re not ashamed to share. You can start something new.”

I’m trying to hang my hat on that hope for the moment.

As with the character of Wordsworth, I can declare that I won’t be defined by the “State” or our culture. Responding to a seemingly impossible situation with knowledge and faith, I can perhaps live to tell my own tale. And oddly, just like Wordsworth, I’ll bring my seemingly useless skills to our current technology and media to do so.

And I won’t forget that it was Wordsworth’s reaction to his impending death that makes the most impact in the end. His faith helps him to respond with strength and peace, as opposed to The Chancellor’s desperate appeal for escape from his untimely demise.

Hopes and Dreams

hopes-and-dreamsJanuary 1st is a day for all of us to dream big.

Although many have no doubt listed their resolutions formally, I only have one resolution, that of surviving the year. Not your typical resolution, mind you, but one that is pretty common among those living with cancer.

But does that leave any room for hopes and dreams? You betcha.

You want to know what my greatest dream might be? I’ve always dreamt of being a writer. Actually getting paid to write! Yes indeed, that would be my dream job.

Well, other than getting paid to play with puppies and kittens all day…

Anyway, I love writing and reaching out to others through my articles and posts. My dream for the new year is that writing opportunities come my way. My path will just be strewn with possibility! Yes, I’m dreaming big now.

As a part of this dream and the realization that this latest cancer diagnosis is much more than a simple detour in my life, I created a new blog today that will focus on my two diagnoses of PTEN and cancer, PTEN, Cancer, and a Thing Called Hope. Hopefully this will help me reach out to others with Cowden Syndrome as well as raise awareness that genetic mutations other than BRCA can raise the risk of breast cancer.

Here’s to a 2017 that will be much better than 2016!

Writing a Life…

Writing a LifeSometimes, blogging (or writing in general) can be a bit discouraging.

I write…and nothing.

And then I look around on the internet, and it seems like everyone else is succeeding at this writing thing.

Have you ever felt this way?

Honestly, I’ve wondered lately if I should continue my efforts. I felt that surely this was a confirmation that I am most assuredly not a writer, that I should just get back to my regular work.

This morning, though, I got a bit of encouragement in my mailbox, and I realized that although notoriety may not come from my efforts, my only responsibility is to stay faithful, serving God and others.

That loud and clamoring voice in my mind said in response, however, “Maybe this really isn’t what you’re meant to do, though? Perhaps you are just a bad writer.”

I listened to it, for awhile.

Logging in to check another blog this evening, I was surprised by several responses to a post.

Shocked even. People are reading what I write?

One person commented, “Me too!” She had had similar experiences to what I had described in the post and seemed to feel a sort of validation of her own experiences after reading my blog.

Wow.

Holley Gerth writes in her upcoming book, You’re Already Amazing LifeGrowth Guide: Embracing Who You Are, Becoming All God Created You to Be

“We are closest to and most like Jesus when we are fully being who he created us to be.”

If one person reads and is encouraged by my writing, then that’s enough.

Popularity doesn’t matter, but being faithful to God does. And maybe that’s all I need to be concerned about at the moment.

 

New Project

blogiconMy husband and I are excited about a new project that will be the result of both of our talents. It’s a big step–especially for a married couple–but I think it will be great. Although we’re a bit nervous about taking such a step, we are feeling positive about the possibilities.

Meanwhile, in Wichita… is a brand new blog that will feature the awesome people, places, and events that make Wichita, Kansas great. While we don’t yet have any stories on the blog, we have made some initial contacts and have some plans in the works.

For a married couple to undertake such a challenge, there is always a risk of some conflict, but I think that both of us can overcome any problems that may arise. And yes, there will hopefully be a benefit to us professionally as well. In this sort of job climate, we’ve got to make our own opportunities.

So if you’re local, then check us out. Meanwhile, in Wichita… is ready to tell your story!

Spaghetti

Original Photo by MaxStraeten on Morguefile.com
Original Photo by MaxStraeten on Morguefile.com

“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.” –Dale Carnegie

Throwing spaghetti against a wall or cupboard is one way to see if the pasta is ready to eat. A little messy, but it apparently works. Lately I have been thinking of this technique in relation to my own life; it seems an apt metaphor for life and change. A time of uncertainty—such as unemployment or divorce—can often lead to desperation to produce any sort of positive results. Throwing our passions and talents against a wall, we hope that something sticks.

Admittedly, this sort of period in life won’t necessarily be fruitless. When faced with the loss of comfort, we often find our own creativity or latent talents. For example, a month ago I would not have considered manipulating photographs for a hobby. My husband was the one with visual talent, not me. Too without the immediate need for some sort of employment, I probably wouldn’t have written an article, much less a blog post. My focus was on my work and others’ writing, not my own expression. Both in the areas of writing and photos, I have discovered that I do still have something to share.

However, without an overall plan or vision, the efforts can lead to nothing. So far, mine have resulted in plenty of spam emails, but no real job or contract offers. Perhaps I need to redouble my efforts or refocus them. Or maybe the strands just need to “cook” a bit longer.

As with cooking pasta, continuing with the process is important. Even if work or applications don’t “stick” this time, the efforts may bear fruit at a later date. Unfortunately, as a middle-aged woman with a family, waiting for that future time is much more difficult than it might have been when I was younger. When I fail, I’m not the only one to suffer. My husband and his daughter have to do without, leading to their dissatisfaction and resentment. The desire to avoid this and a natural lack of patience lead to my desire for results now.

Perhaps, though, age and responsibility bring some benefit as well. Humility and wisdom—at least, hopefully—have been gained by this point, along with a greater focus on quality work. Having come through my 20’s and 30’s, I see with a different perspective and know just how much I still need to learn. Also there is the experience of past successes as well as failures. Yes, maybe age does bring something along with the wrinkles.

For my family and myself, I will keep trying. I’ll keep throwing spaghetti up against a wall until it sticks, and then we’ll all reap the benefits of my continuing to try.