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Writing Tips: Muddle in the Middle

dazzling readers
Photo by Mike Enerio on Unsplash

Whenever you start a new nonfiction writing project, it can be a thrilling time. You’ve come up with the most incredible idea and you envision the marvelous story you’re about to tell, full of dazzling insights, with an ending that will cause readers to become breathless with amazement, dizzy with excitement, in complete and utter awe of your talent!

You may know exactly which anecdote, statistic or quote will create the best beginning to draw in readers, and you may also know the final point that needs to be made. But, what about the middle?

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Author Interview: The Strange Files of Fremont Jones

Deep From the Archives

This is an author interview that I did in 1996.

The Strange Files of Fremont Jones by Dianne Day

After Dianne Day’s youngest son started college, she awoke one fine Saturday morning and realized, “Hey, I can do whatever I want today, as long as it doesn’t cost too much.”

“And, that was when I knew that i wanted to write a whole novel more than anything else in the world,” Day said. “So, I bought an electronic typewriter from Seas on the never-never plan, and I wrote one. That experienced hooked me and I’ve never stopped writing since.”

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Eight Weeks in Washington, 1861: Abraham Lincoln and the Hazards of Transition

Book Review

Book Review

Eight Weeks in Washington, 1861: Abraham Lincoln and the Hazards of Transition is intriguing look by Richard J Tofel at the challenges faced by Lincoln at the beginning of his presidency — including what to do about the handful of US forts located in southern states that had not yet been taken over by the seceded states. The most important one, perhaps, was Fort Sumter, located in Charleston, South Carolina.

Options included abandoning the fort to the budding Confederacy or traveling into enemy territory to resupply the men under the command of Major Robert Anderson. To complicate matters, members of Lincoln’s new cabinet did not agree which solution was best and communications with the navy were rudimentary, at best.

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Speak the Name

Collection of Poems and Short Snippets

In February 2019, I released my first chapbook, a collection of poems that focus on the importance of speaking someone’s name and the value of naming. Because so many of the poems contain references to historical people, most of them largely forgotten, the book also contains short pieces of prose that illuminate an aspect of that person’s life. If interested in a copy, please contact me at kbsagert@aol.com. The cost is $8 plus tax and shipping. Thank you!

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Sharing Your Spiritual Stories

prayer to heaven - faith conceptI’ll be leading a series of spiritual writing workshops, free and open to the community. The workshops will be held at Heritage Presbyterian Church (intersection of Route 58 and 2 in Amherst, Ohio) on the second Monday of each month from September 2014-May 2015 from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. Each month, please bring paper and a pen, along with one to two cans or boxes of non-perishable foods for distribution through Heritage’s food ministry program. Dates of the seminar are:

September 8

October 13

November 10

December 8

January 12

February 9

March 9

April 13

May 11

If you have any questions, you can leave a comment below or email me at kbsagert@aol.com or call me at 440-670-6624. I hope to turn the materials I’m creating for this class into an ebook.

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Creative Writing Exercise

 

Pink waterlilyI was fortunate enough to take a creative writing class from master instructor Eva Shaw and, as one exercise, she had us write as if we were a color — meaning writing in first person.

I got the nicest compliment from Eva about my submission, which made me smile: I think you’ve just created the ultimate essay on pink, Kelly. So dramatic and filled with excellent visual cues. I’m never going to think of pink the same way again—fresh and thoughtful prose.

Here’s my freewriting:

I am strawberry sherbet pink, the color of the carpet Grandma chose after Grandpa died and she could finally throw out all of the dingy grays, grimy browns and muddy greens.

I am the tinge in a young woman’s cheeks when she realizes that, yes, he really does care about her, after all. I am the color that is more modest than fire engine red, more even-tempered than Scarlett O’Hara – and yet I am more audacious than hushed Melanie, and too vibrant for funerals or Amish gatherings.

I am the hue of confidence but not of arrogance. I am the tint of healthy self-esteem but not of raging ego. I am the color of joy, but not mania. I am the shade of restraint but not limitation. I am the color of life well-chosen after years of ping-ponging between dusky shame and blood congealing into scabs.

I am the eau de fearlessness but not of recklessness. I am the color of pride but not a shade that condemns others or compares our songs. I am pink. Strawberry sherbet pink swirled with just a touch of cream, rich cream, luscious cream.

I am the healthy color of a baby’s bottom after a warm bath, the color of a mother’s nipples after breastfeeding. I am pink. I say it decisively – I am pink – without any need to shout over your colors.

I am pink. Strawberry sherbet pink. Lovely, illuminating, life-affirming pink. Praise God, praise God, praise God. I am finally truly pink.

If you were doing this exercise, what would you write?

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Tag! You’re It

vecchi tempiLast week, my friend Janet of JanetGivens.com fame asked me if I’d play in a writerly game of tag — and I said sure.  I just needed to answer three questions and then tag one or more someones to continue the game. Here goes!

What am I working on?

Well, let’s see . . . I’m working on a book manuscript that contains Christian devotionals for writers. I’m far enough along that I’ve contacted an agent who handles this type of book and am waiting to hear back. If not – or if the answer is “no” – then I’m going to contact another agent, while continuing to work on the manuscript. I have ideas for several more Christian books, so it’s important that I get the right agent.

I’m also working on a handful of articles, one about writer’s conferences, another about ostomy care, and another one a devotional. I’m also researching a local history topic for a book I’ll write for my library.

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In Defense of Imagination

"IMAGINE" Letter Collage (imagination creativity dreams ideas)When I was a child, I’d spend a week of the summer at my grandparents. Early to bed, there, on a green-and-gold, foldout sofa in the living room; early to rise, with juice and toast, crumbs wiped up as soon as I’d finished–and a lukewarm bath in a scant few inches of water. Waste not, want not, my grandmother would say, spreading out damp paper towels by the sink to dry.

They lived in an apartment in Akron, Ohio, and there was an outdoor pool in their complex. We’d swim in the chemically blue water, pinning a tag on my suit that identified me as the guest of a resident, but we’d never broach the deep end of the pool. My grandmother swam daily, but a near drowning incident in her teens left her fearful of my swimming in water over my head.

They’d take me to a movie and out to a restaurant where I twirled spaghetti on a fork and learned to love ginger ale. My grandfather, who walked regularly, took me along–but that’s when the trouble began.

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Part 2: Yes . . . I have been blogging. Honest.

Blog concept in word tag cloudHere are the blog posts that I’ve written recently for The Search Guru. Hope you find them to be helpful!

Writer’s block: Whether you believe in writer’s block or not, we all have times when our creativity flows more easily — and times when it doesn’t. This post shares solutions to brainstorming creative ideas from multiple professionals in the field.

Writing mentors: Several writers chime in on the topic of what makes a good writing mentor – an invaluable relationship once you find the right person — and share their own stories.

Accepting writing critiques: Find out how to choose the right critique partner(s) and how to avoid becoming defensive so that you can get the most out of quality writing critiques.

Offering writing critiques: Discover tips to help you provide more helpful critiques to other writers, including knowing when to push and when to back off.

Managing the writer’s ego: If there were a set of deadly sins for writers, over-confidence would surely be on the list. Here is a plan to prevent ego from hurting your writing career.

Courage to write: Here, I interview Ralph Keyes, author of The Courage to Write: How Writers Transcend Fear. He provides tips on how to use fear to create your best writing, rather than writing around the fear.

What topics would you like to have covered? Let me know!