Monday, December 11, 2006

Dominic Dunne lunching



I had a book signing this past Saturday at Book 'Em in South Pasadena. LAndmarked for Murder fellow author Gay Degani brought cookies and some of her students (she teaches writing) which brings me to today's thought: Writing Courses, Classes and Workshops (not to mention Critique Groups)

I think courses, classes, books, workshops, conferences, tapes, videos and lectures on writing are all good things and can't hurt you. One book I recommend is Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg – it's a little light on nuts and bolts, but has helped me immeasurably in writing short stories.

Conferences – especially small genre-related ones like No Crime Unpublished – will get you into the company of writers and help you learn the basics of getting your work out to your reading public.

Genre groups – like Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America and Romance Writers of America – will give you camaraderie, meetings, dinners, readings, interesting guests, endless ideas and lots of bonding. I find my membership in the Los Angeles Chapter of Sisters in Crime to be invaluable.

Classes – your local college may offer evening classes in Creative Writing, English Literature or even Writing the Novel. Check into it – you might learn something!

Okay – Crit Groups. I have mixed feelings on this one. A good critique group can be a great help to a writer. You *do* need another set or ten of different eyes to read your stuff. Mom's opinion is nice, but another writer can give you the truth. On the other hand, some critique groups are social cliques offering a serious writer no more than carping and coffee. A poor critique group can actually stall a writer or at worst, make the writer consider violent methods off the page.

Choose a critique group carefully – there are many good ones online (Absolute Write has a good one in Share Your Work.) And if you are a novelist, Miss Snark's Crapometer is a good way to get a free professional critique. Evil Editor and the Evil Minions will critique your query letters, too.


The aluminum tree with a color wheel turning it bright colors.

The bright Holiday ties the engineers at work are sporting this week. One has a giant Santa on it, another one is covered with holly leaves and looks like it's moving.

The jingle bell sound on the big dog next door – they put some jingle bells on him and he can't sneak up on the cats now! Good boy, Lobo!

Roger Sutton's BowTie


Bernita said...

Re: courses, classes, and conferences - all beyond my boonie capability.
I am thankful for the internet.

Anonymous said...

You are right about being careful of groups. I joined such a criticism group -- and wanted to fling myself off a rooftop! It was simply an excuse for the others to go out and party. Nary a one had any true interest in writing.... It's like the "book clubs" where no books are ever dicussed.

Kate Thornton said...

There are lots of classes, courses & conferences online, too - but I have read your work - you don't need no stinkin' classes!

Once in a while a "book club" where all you do is drink is fine. But if you join a book club to discuss books - that's another matter entirely!

Diana James said...

Hey Kate - Thank you for metioning beneficial local organizations like Sisters in Crime and MWA. The upcoming 2007 No Crimes Unpublished, set for June 10th, is going to be packed full of great info for both beginners and pro's.
Your readers can stay tuned to the conference site hosted at:

All the best to you!
Diana James, VP
Sisters In Crime/LA

writtenwyrdd said...

Hi Kate! Writing Down The Bones is a good little book to get yourself motivated.

YOu know what I have a problem with when it comes to book clubs? They keep wanting to read literature! I want to read science fiction and fantasy.

The Secret Life of Bees and books of that ilk rarely tempt me. I read them once in a while, but they are not what I'd like to discuss at the library on a Thursday evening. (Assuming I could go, which my job usuallyprevents, lol.)