Buttons! Buttons! Everywhere!

Buttons! Buttons! Everywhere!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

What's a Clip?

I wonder if there's anything more frustrating to a writer (besides writing) than getting your work noticed. For those having no previous experience, one way is to acquire "clips".

In the writing world, "clips" are pieces that get publishd, whether they are on a blog, in a newspaper or magazine or noted in a contest. They can be called "tear sheets" as well. They are an important part of a writers "portfolio" and a sure-fire way to showcase your work.

Trying to get clips can be tricky, but there are a few ways that might work for you!

1. Offer to write an article for a local paper or submit a lette to the editor
2. Volunteer to write for a non-profit organization
3. Submit articles to magazines
4. Check your job for an opportunity
5. Write a blog

Whatever way you find, remember to keep them for your writing future! Thanks to a good writing friend (you know who you are!) I've been able to garner "clips".

So think about it? Do you have any now? Have you written anything, including for yor church, job or hobby group? Or do you have any ideas you'd like to share that might help others?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Short Stories Give you the Feel for Good Writing

A friend of mine suggested I spend some time reading short stories to learn the value of good writing techniques. I signed up (free) to Narrative Magazine and receive wonderful short stories weekly, as well as great contests.

If you are a reader, this is the site for you! Have fun at:


You never know where the story will take you!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Only Today....

Just a quick reminder on this Sunday, to stop and think about the important things in your life.

God has been gracious enough to give us this day, this minute, but he's made no promise about tomorrow.

What have you done today that's really made a difference?

Friday, March 26, 2010

New Contest...Why not try one?

Sometimes we sit back with great stories hiding in diaries and journals and never get them out for others to enjoy. Then one day, a contest comes along that we think, "Maybe this time" and we throw caution to the wind and pop a story in an envelop and forget about it. Don't be scared. Here's a great place to send out something, even something simple. This is a great and very reputable contest open to anyone willing to lay their work out to the public. Why not give it a shot! Good Luck!


Deadline: March 31


1st place wins $2,000, publication in Glimmer Train Stories, and 20 copies.
2nd-place: $1,000 and possible publication.
3rd-place: $600 and possible publication.

Results post on May 31. Winning story will be published in Issue 79.

Other considerations:

Open to all writers.
We welcome any length from 2,000 to 20,000 words. (Don't worry: A great 2,000 word story can compete against a great 20,000 word story. It's the story that counts.)
Reading fee is $20 per story.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

So you've got a story...Now what?

Over this past few years, I've had the distinct pleasure of learning what it's like to face rejection and criticism as well as acceptance and praise for my work. To tell you the truth, I've learned more from the rejections and criticism!

I'm also learning what publishers and editors are looking for and what they won't put up with. In January we (the MFA students) were honored to stand in front of several editors and publishers and allowed to "pitch" our respective stories. Some of the comments that came out of this were very honest. They said:

1. You don't know your story well enough to explain it to us
2. That's been done to death
3. What genre is your book? (we'll discuss this later)
4. You sound too rehearsed, unnatural
5. Really?
6. Your pitch is way too long
7. I wouldn't know where to try and place this book
8. You don't seem very confident about the book, why should I be?

All of the comments were delightfully helpful, albeit a bit crushing for a new writer. But what I did learn was that this IS a business. They really do hope we have a good product, because they need good products. They want us to have a bestseller so we can all do well. But they don't want to get a book where the author will be absolutely no help to them in promoting it!

So, if I learned anything was that I have to:
1. Know my target audience
2. Be prepared, but not too rehearsed
3. Have a "log" line prepared that can be expanded upon as time allows
4. Know my story and then present it in a way that they want to know more as well.

These were good lessons I am grateful to have learned. So, back to the drawing board to study the way I can explain my story to others in a natural way that makes people want to read my book! Next time I'll be ready!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

What is a "writer's voice"?

It is amazing how many people I have run into lately that are talking about how they love to write! I was in Texas today, Houston to be exact and talked to someone who said his dream would be to quit working and just write. We talked back and forth about the kinds of writing he enjoyed, etc. He told me he was working on a historical fiction book set in Wyoming. It was about a family who was left motherless in the early 1800's.

I asked him if I might read a short bit of his piece so I might be able to "see" his "voice". He gave me the same puzzeled look I had given one of instructors at Wilkes the first time I heard the term.

The writers voice is the way you,the writer, uses dialogue, character development, puncuation, etc. Are your sentences short and choppy or long, dissertations of flowery language? Do you always seem to use slang? Unusual dialect?

Your voice is what makes you different from other writers! We can't all have the beautiful language skills of Shakespear, in fact, most of us don't. But what I have found after reading my cohorts stories and poems over the past year and the wide variety of books and authors, each of them have a distinct writing style that tells me immediately as a reader, who wrote the story.

So the next time you pick up a favorite author, pay attention to the "voice" of the book. Is it certain words the author uses that makes you know who wrote the book? Is the visual aspects of the language? Is the way they write the reason you continue to go back to the same author when a new book comes out?

My husband is reading a series of books one after the other because he loves what he calls "the way the author writes". What he described to me was "the author's voice."

So go on out there and find yours!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Prompts...are they useful?

Right now I am involved in a contest called The Whiitier Prize Competition. The contest started March 7 and goes to July, with the entrants having to submit a 2500 word fiction piece evey other week. The directors give 3 prompts the writers can utilize as part of their story...or not. Something as simple as:
"Stick out your tongue" was a prompt I used to create a story about street urchins in Portugal.

I've never been a fan of prompts until I read Natalie Goldberg's book "Writing Down the Bones". This book is full of great prompts, which is sometimes all a writer needs to start a story. So with that here are two prompts to get you going. See if you can write 1000 words utilizing these prompts. You'll be surprised at what comes out! Have fun!

1. All he could see through the small opening was three fingers clutching the edge of the bathtub and a chicken sitting on an old porcelin toilet.

2. Saturday afternoon was no time to realize his pants were still in the cleaners.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Try Something New Will You?

Sometimes as new writers we are afraid to try and figure out what we need to do to get our work out to the general public! We don't know where to turn or what we might need to do first.

I found an interesting book called "A Step in the Write Direction" and web site that seems like a good directional tool. It's written by an older woman, Donna Goodrich, who writes Christian works. Her tips on writing cross many boundries for writers. So why not read a good site with great tips at www.thewritersfriend.net/ and try something outside your genre!

Then have a great day,won't you!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Plan

Starting a new blog is a challenge if you've not had a blog of your own. Creating a balance between sharing good information and getting to know each other is critical. I want this site to be a valuable tool to new writers, so I'm from now on I am going to post daily on the following schedule. Let me know what you think!

Mondays-A new web site that you might enjoy
Tuesdays= A writing tip on craft
Wednesdays=Comments to questions you might ask
Thursdays=A Publishng tip
Fridays= New contests
Saturdays=What I'm up to this week
Sundays=Photos with words of wisdom

If there is some question you'd like answered, please email me at author@gingermarcinkowski.com. I'll do my best to get you the answer! See you tomorrow!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Las Vegas, Baby!

I'm in Las Vegas right now and am amazed by how many of the wonderful people I have gotten to know over the years are writers! Reed Philips, past President of Southern California University of Health Sciences has written numerous books in the chiropractic world. His wife writes books about cleaning and organizing. Lester Lamb, a friend and recent newlywed from Western States Chiropractic College admitted to me, in front of his wife, that he loves writing short stories. One of my on the road buddies, Dr. Jeff Miller from Footlevelers just had his first book published. Over and over again, I heard people sharing their dream about writing!

The common thread between us is that we have friends, families and readers who are encouraging us to keep on writing! NO, our first attempt might not be worthy of the best seller list, but if we can't learn rejection well, how do we expect publishers and editors to want to work we us?

One thing any writer needs to know up front is that you've got to have a thick skin if you ever expect to be published. If you are sensitive to every critisim or suggestion for rewrite you get, you'll never make it!

So for now, learn to listen and apply suggestions people give you about your work! 'Cause this ain't Vegas, Baby!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Part Two … How I Got Here

I was browsing through a magazine several years ago and found an ad for the Algonkian Writers Retreat. This was to be my first submersion in the writers world. I had no experience and was too naïve to realize what I was headed for.

The program took place along the Potomac River in Washington, DC. There were two cabins with five bedrooms and two baths in each. Men and women were mixed in each cabin, though I can say, everyone worked together wonderfully.

On Day One the instructor, Michael Neff, pulled us all together in one cabin, plied us with a few donuts and rolls, then proceeded to give us an earful about how few of us would ever follow through what he'd be teaching us and actually write! He told us we didn’t have a clue about what we were doing and more than likely were crappy writers. It felt like boot camp. By the time Michael left for the evening, there wereten really disgruntled people. We all crabbed about Mike, bonding like we were Polident on dentures.

We put up with his degradation for one more day, then launched at him like pit bulls. He laughed right out loud, making us finally realize he’d meant it as a group exercise all along. Before the week was done, we'd written some wonderful and imaginative short stories and were feeling like we had had learned a great deal about what might lie ahead for us.

I still think about that group and the encouragement they gave me.
At the end of the week, I knew I wanted to write…….and Michael Neff? He turned out to be an okay guy.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Writing for the senses

Think back to a place that was or is your favorite place in the world. Jot down three or four things that make you think of that place.

My favorite place is in Plaster Rock, New Brunswick for simple reasons. As a child it was the only place on earth I ever felt safe and really loved. So I used this setting in my book. I didn’t just describe how it looked, I described how it made me feel.

I visualized with words the falling of a tree, its death in the woods, how the dirt mushroomed up around it when it hit the ground, lifted then settled into the smell of sweet pine. I gave a picture of a Belgium horse tethered to the felled log, its nostrils flaring, the bit clanging in his mouth as he anxiously awaited the command to run. Back then, I felt the power of the hard work that went into foresting the logs from the woods. Now I hope to make you feel it as well. That’s part of the craft of writing. Taking ordinary parts of life and making the reader “feel” like they are part of it.

So how do we do that? We use the senses. We look for words that evoke feeling. Instead of….”It smelled outside,” we’d say “the air smelled like licorice, dark and sweet.” Or with taste, instead of saying “it was sour,” we’d say “he closed his eyes as the liquid hit his tongue, his face puckering”. You get it!

We “show” not “tell”. Wow was that an eye opener! I think every writer still fights to make their work more “showing” than “telling”, but before this MFA (Masters of Fine Art) program, I didn’t realize it was part of the many “secrets” to writing! Do you have a secret you’d share with us?

This week’s must read is "Crackpots" by Sarah Pritchard. This book is such a favorite of mine. Sarah, is my mentor whom I'll speak a lot about as I blog. She is a one-of-a-kind woman with a uniqueness about her that draws the reader in. Anyone who has ever heard Sarah read can tesitfy to the wonderful sense of humor she exhibits. A great read!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

For New Writers

I'm going to try and put a new website on here regularly that might help new writers the way they have helped me. This week's is a site that is really fantastic! It lists contests, advice and tips to help you become a better writer! Check it out! This site is free but you can join it really cheap and it helps keep the site current! Enjoy!


How Did I Get to This Point

For those of you out there like me, who’ve always wanted to follow the dream of writing and never thought you’d be able to, hang on….there’s hope. I’ve always written. Little tidbits, short stories, notes in my Bible, you know, things I wrote for my eyes only. But I'd often whine to my husband that I wished I had the time to REALLY write, meaning, for someone else. Well, I guess after thirty plus years, his loving patience wore out.

One day he blurted out, “What’s stopping you?”
When I couldn’t think of any excuse good enough for him to believe, I gave in and admitted, “You’re right! It’s me!” I knew what to write, I just didn’t know the craft of writing, which I find fascinating.

At work they encourage employees to continue learning and support us financially to do just that. When I made the decision (at Michael’s persuation) to go back to school, we had to decide where.

From there it’s been a blur. Michael spent a lot of time parusing the internet looking for a low residency program that had integrity. We settled on Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, PA and I haven’t looked back. I’ll spend some time down the road talking about the great program and the people that have become a part of my life. For now, have a great day!

Oh! Thanks to all who are commenting whether here or Facebook or email! It is most appreciated! I hope as you walk this walk with me, you'll learn something new! And to my friend Marty! Thanks for the continuing English lessons on grammer and punctuation. You make me a better writer!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

How to Comment

My friend, Susan Jones, was the first person to post a comment on the site! For that I am grateful.

Then my friend Bonnie emailed to ask how to reply. This is new to me as well, but I played around and got the answer.

For those who might not be familiar with commenting on a blog, just look at the bottom of each post for "comments".
There will be a 0 or some other number next to "comments". Click on "comments" and a box will come up that will say "post a comment". Type in what you'd like to say and hit "post". Your comments will show on the blog! It's that easy!

So have some fun with this and when you're done, go visit Susan's blog at www.charmofthecarolines.com It's a delightful look at all things Southern. Enjoy!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Blog for Day One:

Here's a bit
Just opened this site and am anxious to start sharing a bit of this wonderful ride I'm having as a writer. Although we have guests arriving for dinner and it's my husband, Michael's, birthday, I'm sneaking out to visit some women in town who have formed a book club! In fact, I just found out that our town of 10,000 actually has four book clubs, all sizes and shapes, ages and religions. I'm stoked, as the writers life can be lonely. I'm often found slumped over my desk in the loft, fingers whipping across the keyboard at a pace Flash Gordon would be proud of. When I'm finished, I have written 5,000 words, backed up, rewritten 2000 of them, then erased literally a hundred words that just don't fit the piece I am working on. Hours have passed. My husband has all but given up hope that I'll ever come down. Yet when I do, I am just so happy he can see it on my face! I don't understand the pull that flying fingers on a keyboard have on me, but I'm grateful that I've seemed to find a place in my life that is fulfilling! By the way, it’s a good man who can be so encouraging when he only hears the clicking of a keyboard as he's cooking dinner…again! Hope you're that lucky!

This week's book read…………..The Help by Kathryn Stockett….A must read by a new author about a young woman's dangerous attempt to write a book about the black household help that worked in white people's homes. Set in the 1960's. A great read with fast paced writing, true-to-life dialog and a realistic ending!