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“You enter the extraordinary by way of the ordinary.” ~Frederick Buechner

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Book Review: Writing BLURBS THAT SIZZLE and Sell! by Karen S. Wiesner

WOW! Once again Wiesner has expertly taken a critical aspect of a writer’s necessary abilities and made it understandable and, even more important, doable.

Most of the authors I know cringe at the word blurb and even the ones who are capable without extreme stress see them as a necessary evil. This book gives a well- needed tutorial for each potential blurb format.

The various versions, and the many ways, blurbs are misunderstood or misused has been both startling and encouraging. Knowing what is a wrong approach and why clearly explains why so many authors find them almost terrifying. But after listening to Karen S. Wiesner’s clarity they now become an interesting and strong resource to complement each individual book.

Right now there is so much misuse or misinformation regarding blurbs that the need to have them each stand out is undermined. Blurbs That Sizzle takes each detail, explains the purpose, points out the potential pitfalls, differentiates between genres and readers, gives tips, offers clear techniques, and shares multiple examples and exercises to evaluate and “to hone effective good blurb writing skills.”

One quality I extremely appreciate in all of her writing books are the hands on step-by-step examples and worksheets for every tool she discusses. Here she doesn’t only explain the differences between High-Concept Blurbs, Back Cover Blurbs, and Series Blurbs but shows a wide range of examples—both bad and good—then walks us through the process for our own stories.

A blurb is meant to be for the reader, she says, not the many other versions. It is to invite your reader to enter into a compelling story. “The purpose of the blurb is a-three fold C for a reader: capture, (to provide) content, (to give a reason to) care.

In Writing BLURBS THAT SIZZLE and Sell! we can learn to sizzle too.

Read deep, marcy

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Journal With Impact: Memoir Theme Poetry

Workshop: Six Conversations for Writing Creative Journals

“A ‘we’ approach makes the reader feel that the writer is with him, not talking at him.” Jane Fitz-Randolph

            “How long, O Lord, will I call for help, and Thou wilt not hear?
            I cry to Thee, ‘Violence!’ Yet Thou dost not save.
            Why doest Thou make me see iniquity, and cause me to look on wickedness?
            Yes, destruction and violence are before me; strife exists and contention arises.
            Therefore the law is ignored and justice is never upheld,
            For the wicked surround the righteous; therefore justice comes out perverted.”

Protest also encompasses a deeply spiritual perspective as well, as we hear from Habakkuk when the Chaldeans assaulted Judah. (Chapter 1:2-4 NAS version)

Self-development style essays are undergirded by empathy, and a sense of  “we” are in this together. It’s not coming from a telling attitude but rather as someone who has walked this path and is a listening ear. These article types are both compassionate and inspirational. Their applications apply to memoir poetry as well, with the focus being more heart and soul.

The range can be very wide from dealing with emotional situations, like anger management, confrontations, like being bullied, health issues and family tensions, as well as career choices and developing skills.

Sometimes turning the topics, and themes into poetry can amplify your connections in fresh and innovative ways. Like the vignettes they can become an introduction, or opening, or an example of your memoir’s theme and a consistent thread.

Even if you don’t decide to use the poems in your published version, writing them can deepen insights whether or not you have ever written a poem. Even basic lines can deepen perspective.

Action Steps

1. Make a list of the struggles you have experienced either personally or with a close family member.

2. Choose one that made a significant change in your life, either by an attitude perspective or by a specific course of action.

3. Write it up as if you are sharing one-to one with a close personal friend.

4. Using the guideline below write a few of your thoughts in poetry.

Share: What words of hope do you want to share in your memoir?

Read deep, marcy

List Poems are one way to develop images and discover word connections.

1. Write a list poem. This works well for non-poets to get past the inner critic and just write for fun. It also helps get us in touch with abstract concepts.

Choose one of the following words: hope, love, faith, trust, beauty and do a cluster brainstorm for it.

2. Now write up your thoughts as a list poem adding whatever new ideas rise to the surface as well. Keep writing the repetition in each line:

hope is…
or, I believe beauty…
or, set up as a question; is love…?
Or, can love be found in a …..?

3. Leave it alone for a day or two then come back. Now go down your list of images. Can you change each line into a metaphor?

For example: hope is ...a waterfall.     Hope is a waterfall like rushing wind.
                                         Hope is an hourglass waterfall.

Although you may not end up using the words themselves, the practice will help you connect to the emotion you want your situation to generate heart to heart.

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