Saturday, August 30, 2008


Destiny’s Call

Oh gentle flowing whispering stars,

guiding my shaking hand.

Echoing through my body and soul,

I fight to take a stand.

Angelic points of light behold

my eyes can see your glory.

Quaking in my tattered shell,

beseech me with thy fury.

I want forever more to taste,

thy golden drips of sight.

To bask amid your glorious rays,

so still throughout the night.

Carry me in thy humble embrace,

into the brilliant realm.

Where no man breathes a flux of air,

as destiny mans the helm.

copyright © Joni Zipp

Quotation Saturday

Unwrap yourself from the cocoon of life. You'll find great beauty and soar as you were intended.
~joni Zipp, writer/poet

The distinction between historian and poet is not in the one writing prose and the other verse... the one describes the thing that has been, and the other a kind of thing that might be. Hence poetry is something more philosophic and of graver import than history, since its statements are of the nature rather of universals, whereas those of history are singulars.
~Aristotle, On Poetics

Poetry is that art which selects and arranges the symbols of thought in such a manner as to excite the imagination the most powerfully and delightfully.~William Cullen Bryant
Some people are making such thorough preparations for rainy days that they aren’t enjoying today’s sunshine.

~William Feather (1889-1981)Writer and publisher

The good writing of any age has always been the product of someone's neurosis, and we'd have a mighty dull literature if all the writers that came along were a bunch of happy chuckleheads.

~William Styron, interview, Writers at Work, 1958

"The kind of humor I like is the thing that makes me laugh for 5 seconds and think for ten minutes."
~ William Davis

"Through humor, you can soften some of the worst blows that life delivers. And once you find laughter, no matter how painful your situation might be, you can survive it."
~ Bill Cosby

The most unfortunate thing that happens to a person who fears failure is that he limits himself by becoming afraid to try anything new.

~ Unknown (could’ve been me I say this so often)

If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with success unexpected in common hours.
~ Henry David Thoreau

We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.
~ Ernest Hemingway

Friday, August 29, 2008

Fun with Funny Friday

Every family has a blacksheep!
Or white Sheep? Ummm... cow?
Some helpful rules for better writing:
1. Verbs HAS to agree with their subjects.
2. Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
3. And don't start a sentence with a conjunction.
4. It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
5. Avoid cliches like the plague. (They're old hat)
6. Comparisons are as bad as cliches.
7. Also, always avoid annoying alliteration.
8. Be more or less specific.
9. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are (usually) unnecessary.
10. Also too, never, ever use repetitive redundancies.
11. No sentence fragments.
12. Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.
13. Do not be redundant; do not use more words than necessary; it's highly superfluous.
14. One should NEVER generalize.
15. Don't use no double negatives.
16. One-word sentences? Eliminate.
17. Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
18. The passive voice is to be ignored.
19. Never use a big word when a diminutive one would suffice.
20. Use words correctly, irregardless of how others use them.
21. Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "I hate quotations. Tell me what you know."
22. If you've heard it once, you've heard it a thousand times: Resist hyperbole; not one writer in a million can use it correctly.

A visitor to a certain college paused to admire the new Hemingway Hall that had been built on campus."It's a pleasure to see a building named for Ernest Hemingway," he said.
"Actually," said his guide, "it's named for Joshua Hemingway. No relation."
The visitor was astonished. "Was Joshua Hemingway a writer, also?"
"Yes, indeed," said his guide. "He wrote a check."

Q. What's the difference between publishers and terrorists?
A. You can negotiate with terrorists.

"I find television very educational. Every time someone switches it on I go into another room and read a good book."
Groucho Marx

Thursday, August 28, 2008

One's POV

We’ve already blogged about the theme. That is what your story will be about when you write it. We’ve attempted the plot of your story now lets see what POV is all about.

The point of view in a story is the narrator’s voice that is telling the story. It is whose eyes the reader will be seeing through. Like Alice looking through the looking glass? Mad Hatter couldn’t tell you what Alice saw now could he?

In first person POV we will see through Jane’s eyes. What Jane sees, smells, hears, and especially what Jane thinks. (I think of Shirley Jackson’s novel The Haunting of Hill house.) This is an excellent portrayal of first person POV. But with first person POV, you have limited yourself to only Janes thoughts. The other characters being introduced to the story will only be a mirror of what JANE portrays them to be. Again read the above novel by Shirley Jackson and you’ll get the idea of how paranoid her main character sounds.

Now trouble arrives when you try saying that John heard a noise that sounded like glass shattering. You have now shifted POV’s and this can be a dangerous line to cross when making it clear to the reader that this is Jane’s story and not John’s.

When you’re a beginning writer it is fundamentally important to learn the craft of POV.

Third person POV is the point of view that most authors use. It is much like the first person, except you’ll use, he saw the road crack before them instead of, I saw the road crack. It is essentially using ‘he’ instead of ‘I’.

Now the tricky third person pov is the ever elusive third person omniscient. Though omniscient is on occasion used in the beginning of the story, the writer switches to third person to get a tight grip on the main characters view.

The pov is tricky in writing so if you plan on mastering the craft of writing this would be a helpful tool to practice, read others work, and implement into your own writing. By reading what others have wrote before you, you’ll get the idea of POV and you’ll also recognize WHEN the shifts occur and how to masterfully shift pov yourself.

The exercise I like to practice with most? Say we have a prompt of 500 words (excellent exercises from Pumping Your Muse.) Write the exercise in first person. Try the same story only switch to third person. Write it again in third person omniscient. (I NEVER tackle 2nd person and that is why I won’t touch the subject!)

Show your writing group your different pov’s of your stories. You ARE in a workshop right? After all my blogging about how important it is to surround yourself with other writers? SHAME ON YOU!

Your writing group will be able to help you see the difference, feel the difference and master the different ways to serve the POV to your reader. There isn’t enough room in a 500-word-blog to give you ALL of the details of POV, but trust me on this one. This is one tricky part of the craft to master. But once you have it licked, your writing will soar to new heights like the morning sunrise!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Word count? pshaw!

To you a word count is by the word right? Well to an editor it is the amount of space that the word takes up on a page.

"Take my wife, please," he said.

"Well of all the …" she replied.

Your processor will read the above as thirteen words. But in reality it is fifty-three characters with no spaces, and sixty-four characters with spaces.

I know a lot of wannabe writers who shrug off word count like an old rag. They treat it as if it is an unimportant part of the writing process. By no means is it the MOST important part of your writing. But it is better to get into the habit of it now while you’re still learning the ropes than to later realize the thing you tossed aside thinking there was no use for, was a much needed spark in the fire of writing RIGHT.

Writing right is essential. There is no laid back, enjoy sunbathing type of writing. Writing is a craft and knowing all of the ins and outs will ride you to the doorway of publication. Realizing that your machine/processor/computer is not going to do all the work for you, you need diligence to bring forth a story to its true beauty.

I could tell you to ignore word count all together but I’m sure that many publishers/editors would slap me upside the head.

"How dare you tell them it is not important!" says the editor.

"But the people in the workshops ignore me completely and do what they want." so says the mentor.

"Well then, they’re not serious writers, and certainly NOT seeking publication."

You see? It is important if you want to become a published writer. Sure, as you move along in the flow of your writing, you don’t need to stop and check word count continually. BUT if you have revised the piece ten times and are ready to submit, you better be prepared to give the publisher just what it asks for in the word count.

If they want 2500 words, don’t give them 2501.

Practice in your workshop. Be persistent in showing the word count to your peers. Let them know how serious of a writer you are. Bring forth your work into the beauty of the sun and AFTER you’re published, go bask in the sun.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Dark Side

The Dark Side of Writing will grab hold of you on the night you sit alone contemplating all there is to feed off of as you wriggle in fear and write...the as the dark side of creativity comes alive.

It will happen writers. You’ll be sitting there tapping on the keys when a dark cloud passes over your window. Falling from the cloud are the spirits from the past, drifting through the air like sheets of silk.They come tiptoeing across the field to peek into your window and before you know it, you find, you’re writing turns dark.

Well it won’t exactly happen like that but you will be writing a story in happy mode, and suddenly feel the pull of the dark side wanting to come out. You may want to write about vulgar adultery, or bloody murder, or a bank-robbing bandit. All of which you’ve never experienced before, but are willing to compromise for your readers sake.

We as writers often find ourselves writing what we know and oftentimes we need to step out of the box and write about things we would never in a million years do or say or try. Through our writing we can become the hero and the antagonist, the child or the dog. We’re writers so we can truly go places we’ve never gone before.

Writing through pure eyes is good but what kind of antagonist will you have? Have you ever seen a good bad guy? Sometimes the bad guy turns out to be a good guy in the end but those stories usually wind up boring and on the back of bookshelves or in some attic or worse yet in the dank basement being used to sop up moisture.

Haven’t you ever wanted to climb into a schizophrenic’s head, or an unstable killer on the loose? Have you ever dreamed of the ghosts that haunt those old Victorian mansions, Irish Castles?
Whatever the case may be, don’t be afraid to write about the bad things, the dark abyss that lingers in this world. Being a writer gives you the free blank page to bring some of the scariest, creepiest and soulless vile beings into existence.

I know of many writers that are afraid of crossing those boundaries of the different realms. They feel that those dark forces will lay claim to their soul or something. Don’t be afraid. Fear is the dark force that wants to grip you. If you don’t fear, you’ll be surprised at what comes out of your non-wicked mind.

Don’t tell me as a kid that you didn’t fantasize about space aliens, ghosts, space travel, or haunted houses. The bogeyman was a part of every child’s growing up phase. But as adult writers we can bring the bogeyman back to life.

Were you afraid of the dark? Maybe you feared walking alone in a park past midnight. Did you ever think these could be the seeds of a story brewing? Make mincemeat of all your fears through writing. Make Stephen King shiver in his boots! Watch Dean Koontz sleep with his light on at night!

Give the horror genre something to be proud of. Turn all your white light romantic fan fiction into the DARK. Let your inner evil loose on the writing world, just to see what you come up with.

Little writing exercises can help in this area. Your antagonist will thank you for it. *wink*wink*

Monday Funday Word day!
obfuscation - ob·fus·cate --
–verb (used with object), -cat·ed, -cat·ing. confuse, bewilder or stupefy make obscure or unclear: darken

turpitude - tur·pi·tude

1.vile, shameful, or base character; depravity
2.a vile or depraved act

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Poetry Sunday~ A River of Tears~

A River of Tears....
All rights reserved: copyright © Joni Zipp

I cry a river of tears'

swim in the empty abode set before me.

My silence is echoed by a resounding stillness

rippling downstream in caution,

as if someone were to hear my pleas.

He stoops at the river’s edge,

cupping hands...

to scoop my tears.

Cleansing His face with my pain.

Feeling my dormant presence,

He wishes to heal...

a river of tears

that is ceaseless in its journey,

streaming down my face.

He bathe in me...

to caress my glory and bring about a peace
to this ever flowing

river of tears.

I raise my head to see the sun

beginning to warm

my wrinkled body

as He wraps His love around me.

I become one with the glorious light,

enshrouding my being; I dry ~~~

no longer crying

a river of tears.
All rights reserved: copyright © Joni Zipp

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Quotation Saturday

Quotation Saturday is for you to sink your thoughts into, so you can find a quiet place to relax and meditate on the beauty surrounding you. ~joni

"Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night."
~Edgar Allan Poe

Truly fine poetry must be read aloud. A good poem does not allow itself to be read in a low voice or silently. If we can read it silently, it is not a valid poem: a poem demands pronunciation. Poetry remembers that it was an oral art before it was a written art. It remembers that it was first song.
~Jorge Luis Borges

And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.
~Sylvia Plath

The maker of a sentence launches out into the infinite and builds a road into Chaos and old Night, and is followed by those who hear him with something of wild, creative delight.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

A perfectly healthy sentence, it is true, is extremely rare. For the most part we miss the hue and fragrance of the thought; as if we could be satisfied with the dews of the morning or evening without their colors, or the heavens without their azure.
~Henry David Thoreau

Publication - is the auction of the Mind of Man.
~Emily Dickinson

Words are but the vague shadows of the volumes we mean. Little audible links, they are, chaining together great inaudible feelings and purposes.
~Theodore Dreiser, 1900

The coroner will find ink in my veins and blood on my typewriter keys.
~C. Astrid Weber

Many books require no thought from those who read them, and for a very simple reason. They made no such demand upon those who wrote them.
~Charles Caleb Colton

Friday, August 22, 2008

Back Up and Save

I thought I’d tell you something vital to the writing world and maybe you already know this and maybe you do it so much you’re tired of hearing the advice. (Whoever actually TAKES advice when it is given so freely?)

The first bite is: When you’re writing and it is really flowing, you’re so proud of your work that you just keep on meandering through and the lights go out due to a power failure. Uh oh. Did you click save? What, you didn’t? Shame on you.

One time (and I only allowed it to happen once) I lost three pages of writing because I had forgotten to click save. I know I tell you to let it flow, keep writing, turn that internal editor off, but clicking save will keep the mule from kicking you in the butt. You will feel like a total jackass when you lose all your work and then slap your forehead (after rubbing it profusely until it burns.) Then the agony of guilt will set in. All for what? Because you didn’t click save?

Does it take more than a second? Maybe, if your eyes are bad. Will it cost you your flow? I don’t think so. At least if you’re clicking save all the time, you will have something to come back to read. If not, it’s gone and gone for good into the deep dark abyss.

Now the second tidbit of info is this: Back up your files! We’re in an age of depending on machines. We depend on the microwave to cook our food super fast. We expect our clothes dryer to dry our clothes. We want our cars to get us home. And we also hope that our computers are going to last forever. Sorry Mr. Gates, you haven’t made a perfect machine that lasts forever.

Nope if our computer crashes, we lose vital information. Sure the Internet will still be moving full steam ahead without us, but when our little perky computer one day fizzles out, all our work goes with it. At least every three months I make a back up of my writing. Only because I write so much and there is new stuff that the old disc won’t have on it should my trusty handy dandy computer plop right out of existence.

So what are we going to do as soon as you finish reading this? Make a back up file! And what are we going to do as we write our beloved stories? Click SAVE! But my friend, clicking save won’t help you if you haven’t backed up your files. So get to it. Make this machine the best tool you’ve owned. Make it work for you. Carpe diem, Seize the day.
Or better yet, Carpe Momento (Seize the Moment)!!!You’ll be grateful you did.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Book Proposal vs. Manuscript

Before sending out that manuscript, stop and read!
What is a book proposal? It is where you gather all of the critical information you can on your novel and offer it on a silver platter to a publisher. It helps immensely in making your rejected manuscript become-- "What the publisher WANTS."

By submitting a book proposal you are cementing your chances of being accepted. Publishers aren’t looking for long manuscripts to arrive on their doorstep, what they want is to pay you to write the book. Sending a completed manuscript will more than likely get overlooked if you send it without a proposal first.

Imagine being a busy publisher, and in your already cluttered mailbox you find an eight-inch thick box of yet another manuscript. After he/she brushes the hair out of their eyes, they let out a deep sigh and think, "Another manuscript." What with meetings to attend, authors to entertain, editing, reading and writing, what will the big old manuscript look like to YOU?

Now imagine that same publisher being sent an envelope. In the envelope a writer has a book proposal and wants to know if they are interested in publishing the manuscript. They glance at the first page and it has your full name, approximate word count, estimated time of a finished manuscript (or if it is already finished) and the genre that your novel will fit into, ie: general fiction, thriller, fantasy, romance, western, historical.
Also make sure you are sending it to the proper editor. A romance editor won’t read a thriller’s proposal.

The second page you might provide info about you, the author. Things you’ve published thus far or maybe have never been published. Give them a few paragraphs to get to know you and let them know why you are right for the project you have in mind.

You’ll then provide a brief synopsis of the entire plot of your book. (Two pages maximum) Sell yourself, this might be what you’d read on a dust jacket that would have YOU interested in the book you’re about to buy.

Include 3 chapters of the book you have in mind. Your proposal should be no longer than 100 pages and no less than 50. If you want your work returned to you, be sure to include a SASE and make sure that they know that you want it returned in the cover letter. Always make sure to include the proper postage. A publisher is not going to go out and get the extra forty-cent stamp that YOU forgot.

So what are you going to do fellow writer? Are you going to fill the desk of a publisher with a 20 pound (or more) manuscript. Or give him/her something they can get through over coffee and a doughnut?

It is something to think about before you dive into the rejection pool. Ever wonder WHY you keep getting rejected? Maybe the publisher used your big thick manuscript along with someone else’s for some bookends. All the while reading a book proposal from some unknown.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Workshop for Writing?

"To workshop your writing is the building blocks to your future"~~joni
A lot of people tell me they’ve been writing for years. They also say they are ready to submit their work to a publisher/editor.

I say, "Did you workshop it?"

They say to me with jaw hanging open I’m sure, "Workshop it, what put it on the chopping block?"

"Well no, that is not what I meant. What I mean is, did you have a group of your peers look at it and let them give you their opinion?"

"Well no, my work is good, I don’t need anyone’s opinion. It is THAT good."

Let me tell you friends, that is a bad idea. That is your ego talking and it can get you into a lot of trouble. Remember my post on EGO? It’s down a few pages but I distinctly remember telling you to put it on the shelf for a rainy day and pull it out when you’re feeling down. When it comes to writing, there is no place for your ego!

I remember when I first started putting my poetry out there. I thought it was so good and didn’t need a word neither here nor there. My peers liked my work but saw in it great potential, not perfection. Well slap me upside the head and call me silly, why don’t you? That was the reality check that I needed to get this determined writer moving.

Once I saw where I needed work I went right to it reshaping, restructuring, molding it to make it shine like a bronze statue.(I’d say a Gold statue but then that would be my ego talking again.)

There are many workshops around the internet but the home I found was Writer’s Village University. This is the place where my work is safely displayed (without the eyes of millions) and other writers safely critique it. I say safely displayed because my home at WVU is password protected where only members have access.

My peers are either published author’s or new budding writers who want to learn the craft and aid another writer in their dream. It is like having a pack of rainbows tucked into one workshop with a bunch of little elves making my pot of gold dream come true.

It is important to see where you need assistance at in your work. Even published author’s like to have another eye looking over their work to see if they might have missed something or if there is something, when added to the story, will give it the extra punch it needs to get published.

Never fear having your work in a workshop. Even Santa needed a workshop! Why? So he could bring the best that he had to offer to the entire world. Now get to work on building a glorious story for your workshop. Make it the best tool that you use in your career.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Determined Writer

You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you. ~Ray Bradbury

There comes a time in a writer’s life when you become determined to succeed. Success is never put into a measuring cup and told X amount of writing is just right. No, you need determination to keep on going even if the fruits of your labor are not paying off.

Writers need to read and they need to read a lot. I don’t just mean to read fiction from the classic genre to the contemporary authors of today but also they need to read about the craft of writing.

You might ask, "What can I learn from someone else who is already published?" Well for one you can learn style, rhythm, and all sorts of good things like suspense, how they built up a character, introduced a character and how they brought the character to life for you, the reader.

From your fellow author you can learn what it is in your writing that will carry a novel or short story. You might learn that your story is not going anywhere and by reading, you might see where you’ve gone wrong. "Did I give enough suspense?" " Did I build a conflict?" "Did I give a satisfactory ending?"

All of these questions can be asked if you read! Become a detective and dig up all of the clues that make this author so special. Reading is an essential part of becoming a writer. Why did you become a writer to begin with? Was it because you read a book and thought, "Hey, I can do that?" Or did a novel leave you unsatisfied and maybe you said, "I can do it better?"

Once you’ve mastered reading, you then become an analytical reader. You’ll find yourself liking and disliking certain things that a writer does with their writing. Find what his/her style, metaphors, too much imagery, not enough imagery is keeping you reading. Maybe take notes of what you liked and keep them handy for when you write on your own.

If you’re hitting stumbling blocks in your own writing, look to other writer’s to aid you in accomplishing this dream of yours. It is through the authors, published or not, that will move you toward your goal. And then it is time to really sink your teeth into writing and have the determination of an athlete. Imagine yourself going for the Gold in an Olympic dream.

Be determined to not only be a reader but to be a writer, a PUBLISHED writer. Homework people, it’s all about doing your homework. You can’t just write for a year and give up. You’re not showing determination in giving up. You need to daily, and I do mean daily, work at bringing this dream alive. I won’t allow weekly or monthly writing. A true writer KNOWS what he needs to do. So what do you say?


Monday, August 18, 2008

Writer's Write Right essential tool to writing right.

Vocabulary is the use of words in language. Not everyone masters language and vocabulary and often writers try to hard to make their writing sound better. A note of caution: Use words you know and understand before trying to pull off a philosophical sounding piece that you know nothing about it.

If you’re going to use words like affinity, assiduous, conferred, deferential, definitive, dissident, finesse, infinitesimal, insidious, insufferable, sedentary, vociferous, make sure you know what each and every one of these words mean.

I often read beginners work that sounds over-worded like a shadow covering. The grayness of the cloak hides what is really secretly within the writer. I have a book titled 1000 Most Important Words by Norman Schur. I flip through it daily and study some of the words. I try (notice I said TRY?) and retain the meaning of the word and sometimes knowing these words helps me in my writing.

There are times that words allude me. That is why I used the metaphor shadow because words can sometimes linger in the shadows or be right on the tip of your tongue and you try to spit it out (or type it) and the little speck of a word hides like a child playing a game. Did you ever have the word decide to pop in your head right before turning into bed?

Ha! A notepad beside the bed will help you there. Write the word down and in the morning look it up in the dictionary and see if it is the word that you were looking for. Don’t use words you have no idea what the meaning is.

The man was inoculated as he got behind the wheel to drive. (I think you meant INTOXICATED)

His behavior was vociferous and annoying. (Vociferous meaning: crying out noisily; clamorous)

Oh dear are you going to need to look up clamorous too?

Whatever the case may be, do your homework! What? We’re grown-ups? Who needs homework? All that I can say to that is, we ALL need to do our homework. Learning is a never-ending part of life. Once we stop learning, we stop growing. And when we stop growing, we might as well roll over and order the casket now!

We, in the 21st century, have too many tools within our grasp to NOT learn on a daily basis. So what are you going to do? Learn a NEW word or two a day and watch yourself bloom into the writer you always dreamed of becoming.

1. to grow or produce by multiplication of parts or cell division, or by procreation.
2. to increase in number or spread rapidly and often excessively.

I’ve started you off with your first word…Now grow my friends!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Poetry Sunday ~ Sight of the Night Soul

Sight of the Night Soul
All rights reserved: copyright © Joni Zipp

The stars have splashed my blinking eyes

blinding me with its disguise.

Now the light may crystallize

all that I have seen.

The tree bears fruit of every kind.

To thee I wish to be defined.

For all the light now has me blind.

Senses nearly keen.

Confused by sight and sordid sound;

truly lost what I have found.

Kneeling on the trodden ground

From thee I must be weaned

I hide behind the night lights shower

not to frail I will not cower.

Safely under the bridled bower,

the storm clouds thus convene

Lofty soul these things I seek.

Strengthen me when I am weak.

Of this earth among the meek.

Grasping sights unseen.

copyright © Joni Zipp

Quotation Saturday!

Poetry is the rhythmical creation of beauty in words. ~~Edgar Allan Poe

A poet is, before anything else, a person who is passionately in love with language.
~~W. H. Auden

Flannery O’Connor on symbols in fiction …
"Now the word symbol scares a good many people off, just as the word art does. They seem to feel that a symbol is some mysterious thing put in aribitrarily by the writer to frighten the common reader — sort of a literary Masonic grip that is only for the initiated …
"I think that for the fiction writer himself, symbols are something he uses simply as a matter of course. You might say that these are details that, while having their essential place in the literal level of the story, operate in depth as well as on the surface, increasing the story in every direction.
"I think that the way to read a book is always to see what happens, but in a good novel, more always happens than we are able to take in at once, more happens than meets the eye. The mind is led on by what it sees into the greater depths that the book’s symbols naturally suggest. This is what is meant when critics say that a novel operates on several levels. The truer the symbol, the deeper it leads you, the more meaning it opens up."
~~Flannery O’Connor in "The Nature and Aim of Fiction" in Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose

If one keeps on loving faithfully what is really worth loving, and does not waste ones love on insignificant and unworthy and meaningless things, one will get more light by and by and grow stronger. Sometimes it is well to go into the world and converse with people, and at times one is obliged to do so, but he who would prefer to be quietly alone with his work, and who wants but very few friends, will go safest through the world and among people. And even in the most refined circles and with the best surroundings and circumstances, one must keep something of the original character of an anchorite, for otherwise one has no root in oneself; one must never let the fire go out in one’s soul, but keep it burning. And whoever chooses poverty for himself and loves it possesses a great treasure, and will always clearly hear the voice of his conscience; he who hears and obeys that voice, which is the best gift of God, finds at last a friend in it, and is never alone.
~~Vincent Van Gogh, from Dear Theo

May you find the light around ever cloud; may you hear music in every sound. For within a heartbeat, a story can be found. ~~ Joni Zipp

Friday, August 15, 2008

Internal Editor

My internal editor is always busy.

For me, when I use my MS Word, it is always showing up red squiggly lines that are calling for me to take a look at. I want so much to fix all of those little red squiggly lines, but I’m telling you, for now leave them alone.

When we are writing, and we’re on roll if we hesitate because we see something that needs fixing, we are more than likely going to lose the flow of words and possibly lose sight of the story!
You can go in to the tools, scroll to find options and don’t allow the ‘checking’ of your work. Or you can turn the internal editor off in your mind! Tell yourself that you will not check and re-check until you are completely done so that you can get a good amount of work accomplished in your day. That means tons of writing, whether good, bad or grammatically incorrect!

This doesn’t mean that you can become lazy in your short stories or articles or even your writing prompts. No, for those you WILL need to do a spell check BEFORE you post them so that your peers are seeing your very best work.

Now remember that your spell check does not know the difference between by and buy so you will need to be diligent in reading your own work when your done. Sure the red squiggly lines will show up fixing something like "werd" when you mean "word" but it can not read the writer’s mind. (Don’t we wish?)

Why hasn’t Mister Gates come up with a mind reading device? Why hasn’t the government for that matter? Well I’m glad no one has as of yet because we Americans are lazy enough in letting a microwave cook for us, a clothes dryer dry for us, and now we want a perfect word processor? NO!

This internal editor is normal. Even in my younger years of writing with a pen and paper (I must be old!) I always wanted to use an eraser and fix my error. Then they created pens WITH erasers, and then we were treated to the luxurious white-out for type-written material. All that this did was make us lazy in our writing habits.

What I am saying is, TURN IT OFF! There is no need to fix your work as you are writing because only YOU are going to see it. Let the flow run like a river. Allow your muse to take over the keyboard and keep typing without looking at the screen! That’s an order!

Glance up occasionally to make sure your getting down what you intended, but please don’t go back and fix typographical errors!!! You'll lose site of the natural flow of things.

Be the writer that you know you can be. Treat the art with respect and it will reward YOU with respect in return!

Now stop reading and get back to writing!!!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Tense,Make it Stick

Are you TENSE?

In writing you need to set the stage for the tense that you WILL use. Sometimes the writer finds it difficult to stay in one tense and you’ll see them further down the page ‘speaking’ in the present tense when they began in the past tense.

If you want to tell about the here and now, you will use the present tense.
I love writing stories.
I am right in the middle of something.

If you want to tell about something that happened prior, you will use past tense.
I loved writing stories when I was a kid.
I was doing something when he interrupted.

Future tense?
I think I will love writing.

past: She ate
present: She eats
future: She will eat

past: She was eating
present: She is eating
future: She will be eating

past: She had eaten
present: She has eaten
future: She will have eaten

perfect continuous
past: She had been eating
present: She has been eating
future: She will have been eating

The tenses are probably one of the hardest hurdles to leap over in writing, next to POV. I find even the most experienced well-published authors ‘toy’ with the tenses. Dean Koontz in Odd Thomas, deliberately used a shift in tenses to fool the reader into believing something, then in the following chapter as Odd is telling the story, he tells us he did it so that we would be fooled into believing something. I’m being evasive because that is an excellent book and I won’t give the ending away for a million bucks! Read the book! (okay maybe for a million I would but not for a thousand bucks.)

Master’s of the craft know how to toy with the reader but if you are a newcomer you should not play with the tenses as if it was a dog toy to be carried around, tossed about and thrown in the place where you want it. Make the tense stick so that a publisher, when reading your work, does not think that you are too lazy in taking the time to hone your craft to perfection!

After you’ve skillfully mastered writing, you’ve been motivated, inspired, jumped hurdles, leaped tall buildings in a single bound. (Okay I threw the last one in there for fun) Now you’re ready to stick to a tense, and bring the story home for us!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Staying Motivated

Light your candle within and allow it to burn. That's what a writer does.

How does one stay motivated in writing? I mean lets face it, it can wear you down, drag you through the mud, slap you upside the face and yet you wake up everyday and do it again?

What is wrong with you? Oh, that’s right, it is the passion within you that keeps you going back to the writing table. Sure setting goals, being inspired, and being obedient to the craft helps in assisting you in a daily routine, but what keeps you motivated in doing so day after day? Month after month? Year after year?

Let’s say you’ve written the all American best selling novel of your dream, you’ve revised it numerous times and have sent it out with the wings you gave it to watch it soar. Only it was returned, rejected. Did you know that there are thousands of best-selling authors who have trudged the same path as you? J.K Rowling and Stephen King to name just two who were rejected. (see post below of nine BS authors who were rejected)

You’ll get a glimpse of the struggles that a writer has to endure to make it in a cut-throat business these days. Staying motivated can be one of the most daunting tasks you undergo.

1.Never undermine your work. If this is what you have chosen to do, then do your best and wait for the positive outcome that you envision.

2.Never lead with an ego. An ego can get you in trouble when you think you’re the best. Rejection will hit you the hardest of all.

3.Accept rejection! By accepting the rejection slip you are allowing yourself to move forward and GROW as a writer.

4.Always hope for a positive outcome. There is nothing wrong with having hope. It’s the patience that you’ll need in seeing the tomorrow’s sun shine!

5.Always believe that your reward is right around the corner. If you tend to give up easily, writing is not going to be for you. Believing that it is not much further to acceptance, then the payday will be right around the next bend!

Now these steps may take years to finally get that one published story, but when it happens you will be the happiest fish in the sea doing pirouettes on top of the waves.

I can’t emphasize enough the patience, faith and hope you need to have in yourself to carry you one little extra mile.

And let’s not forget the One that carries all of our burdens for us. Your gift was given from Him so He knows you’ll need Him to get you through each and every step.

Be wise, don’t compromise. And before you know it all fear dies!

Sunday, August 10, 2008


The Soul’s Ascent

I peered up at the towering mount’,

that glistened from the snow.

Would I reach that velvet cap,

that no one dared to go?

The very tip seems to drift,

In a string of pearly lace.

No end in sight for it was hid,

upon this rocky face.

Burgeoning trees whispered still.

They called within the deep.

Nature would carry my weary legs.

If for, my soul to keep.

Every aching step I took,

impelled in me to climb.

A voice it beckoned in my head.

Transcending the sublime.

I walked with fading fury,

the summit reared its head.

the stones were trembling underfoot,

my essence being fed.

Every time I stumbled about,

my eyes would raise to see,

the brilliance of the lemon rays,

Shining down on me.

I gasped for air, my final steps,

what seemed to last for miles.

My bated breath, my moistened brow,

absorbing all the trials.

I let it out; a HOWLING yell!

I gaze at the valley below.

Echoes resound in empty space,

my soul begins to glow.

I reach the powdered summit.

My mind now crystal clear.

It's never the journey taken...

It's relinquishing all you fear!

copyright © joni zipp

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Quotation Saturday!

Introducing... Quotation Saturday!

"Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night."
Edgar Allan Poe

Poetry is that art which selects and arranges the symbols of thought in such a manner as to excite the imagination the most powerfully and delightfully.William Cullen Bryant

A true poem is distinguished not so much by a felicitous expression, or any thought it suggests, as by the atmosphere which surrounds it.Henry David Thoreau

The ablest writer is only a gardener first, and then a cook: his tasks are, carefully to select and cultivate his strongest and most nutritive thoughts; and when they are ripe, to dress them, wholesomely, and yet so that they may have a relish. ~Augustus William Hare and Julius Charles Hare, Guesses at Truth, by Two Brothers, 1827

Every creator painfully experiences the chasm between his inner vision and its ultimate expression. The chasm is never completely bridged. We all have the conviction, perhaps illusory, that we have much more to say than appears on the paper. ~Isaac Bashevis Singer

The habits of life form the soul, and the soul forms the countenance.
~ Honore’ De Balzac

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Obedience to Writing

Obedience is discipline!

To be a writer you need obedience to the craft. You can not write one day, feel like you’ve accomplished all that you’re going to then not write for another week or month. Obedience is a way of organizing a set time for your writing. Whether it is honing the craft, writing free-style or working on a short story or a novel.

Obedience is the act of obeying orders. These are orders that YOU will give yourself. "Today I must write 500 words." The more you submit to this obedient behavior the more flexible you will be when the time comes to write. The more words you will write and the more fulfilled you will become.

Brushing off writing as a hobby will only make a truly talented passionate writer become irritable and unfulfilled in the destiny that is set before him/her. We as writers are a passionate group who, when writing, feel as if life has a new and deeper meaning. We become artists through the painting of our words.

Now you need to pat yourself on the back when you accomplish something good in your writing. When we hear praise of others it boosts our moral and we know that we must move forward because whether this is going anyplace or not, you being a writer is all that you’ve ever tasted on the tip of your pen.

Now harsh criticism will come knocking at your door and you need to be prepared for it. Writers have skin thicker than rawhide! When someone tells us our work isn’t right, we go back to the drawing board and fix it. If we need help in fixing our mistake, we will learn where the mistake is and hone the element that is causing us problems.

Say you’re a great speller but lousy at punctuation. STUDY punctuation! Learn what a comma is used for and when to use punctuation marks. Suppose you can’t get the POV down, first person, second person, third person omniscient etc. etc. Work on finding the cure to where it is that you need help.

Discipline yourself to learning! Become obedient to your master (writing) and just like any good dog, the rewards are endless.

Prioritize your options. Make a list of what you want to accomplish in say a week-month-or year. Prove to yourself (and no one else) that you CAN be obedient to an art that has embraced you on cold nights, covered you when it rained, and cuddled you like a child. Writing does that for you, the least you can do for IT is EMBRACE it BACK!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

A Journal of Thought

"Journaling ~~~~ a place where soul and words convene." ~joni

A lot of times you’ll be riding down the road looking at the beautiful scenery passing you, drinking in the sun-swells of the road. Looking and listening to the alluring trees whispering from afar, inhaling the newly-fallen rain and from out of nowhere comes an idea for a story!

Do you impede traffic and dig out a notepad and pencil? Do you cause an accident by pulling off the side of the road to dig in your purse? NO! You have already had in place a Personal Voice recorder. Voice activated so that you can ensure your idea is not lost in the wind.

Now journaling doesn’t always have to be on a recorder. Sometimes you can be sitting on the sofa relaxing with a cup of tea, staring off into space as an idea comes to mind. You have your journal on hand, (because you’ve placed many of them throughout the house) and you write the complete thought down into your little journal.

A journal can also be used to write your day-to-day activities. A diary is different from a journal (in my mind’s eye) because a journal holds story ideas and the potential for articles or novels. A diary will hold all my deep dark secrets and will more than likely be hidden from daylight so as not to be ‘accidentally’ read by unwanted prying eyes!

My journal however SHOWS all the wondrous activities going on around me throughout my day! If I see a squirrel running up a tree, holding an acorn tightly in his mouth, my mind can think of an entire story out of just that whimsical event. Maybe the squirrel has family, maybe he is going to be selfish and hoard the goodies for himself. Maybe a kid with a BB gun is going to pop that running squirrel right in the stomach and I’ll have to watch him fall to the ground,(and think of yet another story.)

Journals are also a good thing to take with you on a lunch date with the girls. You know how we all love to gab and basically have a gabfest at every sitting? Well, your journal can be the window that you look out of and highlight the lunches gossip. It doesn’t necessarily need to be from your table of gossip maybe you overhear a couple breaking up? Maybe Arthur has died and now the elderly woman is all alone?

Whatever the case may be, behind every word there lies a story, and YOU need to be ready to get the idea down so you can turn it into a masterpiece! Whether it is on a recorder placed in your vehicle or pocket, a notebook in every accessible place in the house (including a small pad in your purse), or whether it is one square of toilet paper that holds your idea. Get the idea out!

Build a story, construct a piece of art out of words

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Hooking Your Reader

Hooking your reader…in the first sentence!

Okay ladies and gents what is the most important thing (well almost) to your writing? That would be hooking your reader with the first sentence. We’re in an extremely competitive field where the editor is going to sit down with a good cup of coffee and take the time to read your work.

Remember that she (or he) has thousands of other manuscripts to feather through, so what is going to make YOUR work stand out? The very first sentences that she glances at. What is going to KEEP her reading? Well crafted paragraphs, that’s what. Your work must be compelling enough for her to sit through the entire cup of coffee, go and get another cup, while STILL reading your work.

Even if the middle of the story dances to a perfect tune, and your ending has the finality of a swirl and dip, it is the beginning that is going to get the editor to ask you to dance in the first place.

Let’s try opening with action, not necessarily one tracked dialogue of two people arguing. Set a scene with some form of action taking place. Example: The building has been sitting there on that hill for centuries and who knows what ghosts lurk in the hallowed walls. Jerry wants to go in and play around but I’ve heard the stories. I’ve seen things.

Right there SOMEONE wants to know what you’ve seen and heard. They want to know WHY has it been standing there. But we’ll give that to them later after the kids go exploring in the big convent that remains barren for some reason.

Dialogue in the opening scene is not such a good idea either. The reader doesn’t know these people or has had a chance to get to know them. They are strangers invading their homes at this point. You don’t want a lot of imagery and description of a dark and lonely haunted house. Build up the ACTION first, then lead your reader through the why’s and what have you’s until they are so interested they continue turning the page.

Give the reader what he or she wants. When they read the dust jacket they will either buy the book or put it down. Are you going to let them walk away because you bored them stiff? NO! You are going to give them a riveting beginning that makes them thirsty for more. They’ve read the first few paragraphs and now they’re drooling at the mouth wanting more, more and more!


Don’t get lazy midway through the book either. If it bores you and you feel it just isn’t juicy enough, re-write it until you yourself are frothing at the mouth, patting yourself on the back and ready to give yourself a big ol’ high five. You can do it, because you’ve done exemplary work on the first few pages, now give the readers something to talk about. Give the editors something to brag about, "Yes I was the one who discovered…" Your name could and WILL be there!

Write on people!

Monday, August 04, 2008

Finding Your Voice

Did you ever wake up in the morning unable to speak? You drink some water, clear your throat, and voila your voice has come back to you after a long night’s rest. This is the problem that writer’s face daily. They need to find their voice and often times it has slithered away from them.

Your voice in a story is going to be the way that the character "speaks" to you as you read. The voice in first, second or third person will more than likely be the characters voice that you hear, but in non-fiction, the voice is usually that of the author.

You’re not going to speak in your own (author’s) voice when writing a story, you’re going to cross boundaries and give your character his or her very own uniquely developed voice. Say Martha is five, you will need to find the child within you and create around you a child’s world. It is through this world that you will be accustomed to her voice.

The voice is also going to give us a theme and a tone for our story. Through dialect you will also be giving your character a personality. One that you can refine as you go along or sculpt out of clay and make her/him a solid presence in your work. Do you remember Scout and Jem in To Kill a Mockingbird? What lovely characters they turned out to be. Without their unique voice would that book have been as successful as it was?

I like the first person stance for a character because I can make the reader feel as if I’m talking directly to them. Example: "Did I ever tell you about the time…" In this sentence the reader knows I am about to divulge some grand secret that I’ve kept hidden all of my life, but in essence it is my CHARACTERS voice who is going to do all of the divulging.

Grammar and spelling will tell a lot about your character too. Maybe she has a southern drawl and as such her voice is going to have maybe a slight twang to her words. In this case your perfect grammar and spelling goes out the window as you develop the girls voice.

You’ll only use the spelling and grammatical errors when the person is speaking right? Right! Or otherwise your book, novel, Short Story will come across as sloppy. And watch the overuse of many of your words. Sometimes "y’know," can become used so much we lose sight of the character as our temperatures rise and the anger builds from reading someone’s over-use of a word.

Now remember to find a voice and stick to it. Don’t jump around giving someone a Southern accent and then find your character later in the story has gone to eloquent etiquette school and didn’t tell YOU! You’re the author, you are the artist, the creator. You’re the one who will make your voice sing!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Poetry Sunday

The Revenge of the Sea

I set ‘asail a calming sea

it called to me one day.

I went to find a peace within

I knew would come my way.

I mellowed on the deck below

my tiny boat was swaying.

My mind was playing tricks on me

with thoughts that I was weighing.

The blackened sky whispered sounds,

a rumbling from afar

It sounded as if God Himself

had left the door ajar.

I rushed up top just in time

to see the clouds were rippling.

The thrashing of the eager waves

made guidance very crippling.

The squall was just above me now;

clouds seemed to descend

upon this tiny boat of mine,

On which I now depend.

Droplets of rain grazed my face

I began to sense a peace.

For in this shroud of turmoil.

The sea's revenge will cease.

A glimpse of golden streams I see.

A beacon to hold my stare.

All at once I realized,

The storm was never there.

Copyright © joni zipp