Author Archives: janetsyasnitsick

About janetsyasnitsick

Visit blog for writing, marketing tidbits to dazzle your creative endeavors. New book release: Bride by Arrangement. Anthology includes two novellas - one written by Ruth Ann Nordin, The Purchased Bride, and mine, She Came by Train. Other published works: author of five-star, inspiring-historical romance, Lockets and Lanterns, (His secret ... Her broken heart), 10th place story, "The Silver Lining," and Best of Year book, Seasons of the Soul. Background: former journalist and language-arts teacher. www.JanetSyasNitsick.com

Comparing Yourself with Others

Comparing your writing to another author can be positive or negative, depending upon how you use it.

A few authors out there slam a fellow author’s book with one and two star reviews. Some of these reviews were honest evaluations while others were not.

Base your critique on such criteria as readability, storyline, plot durability, realistic dialogue, grammar and more. If you do not believe you can do this, then do not write a review. There is nothing wrong with that.

Authors need time to write their own stories, engage in social media and do whatever else to promote their work and if this leaves little time to read others’ materials and write reviews then do not do it.

I write reviews because it keeps my followers informed on what else I am doing besides my work in progress. However, you need to do what works for you.

Reading, though, does help you with your own work. I gleam a lot from reading (when I have time to do so) in the way of word choices, character names, plot ideas and descriptions.

Currently, I am reading Mary Connealy’s Calico Canyon. The villain is Parrish. I like the way Connealy describes him. “But his temper goaded him. He hungered to make her sorry for what she’d done. The image of her cowering under his fists kept him awake at night and rode him like a spur [my italics] all day.”

Playing off one another is great as long as we are not taking their words and ideas verbatim. There really are only so many story concepts out there, but the bends and turns we add make the difference. Take, for example, the Twilight series. The gut of the story is romance with a werewolf twist.

Remember to write your way, however. If you try to write like another author, you will fail. After all God gave you your own gifts not another’s. In my work, I try to set a scene with the five senses.

I also like to include historical details, such as I did in Ruth Ann Nordin’s and my anthology, Bride by Arrangement, set in Lincoln, Neb., in 1876. The book includes two novellas. Ruth’s story is The Purchased Bride and mine is She Came by Train. Below is an excerpt from my novella highlighting an old hymn:

“As the afternoon sun rays glimmered on the pearly keys, Opal settled herself on the piano stool. Opening one of the hymnals, she turned the page to ‘When the Roll is Called up Yonder.’ Stroking the keys, her fingers graced the notes. She sang as she played the tune.

“‘When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound and time shall be no more, And the morning breaks, eternal, bright, …’ Footsteps approached. ‘When the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there. … When the roll is called up yonder., I’ll be there.’ Finished with the chorus, she turned to Mr. Crowley, who stood in front of her. ‘Yes?’

“‘Miss Preston, you have two visitors. One is named Ada Wilcox.’”

My brother loved reading an author who added Native American details into his work. Doing this helps set your writing apart. However, if you are one who does not care for research (which takes time) then write what fits you. I enjoy learning about time periods and how people lived. By the way, one of the best ways to gather information is to visit historical homes.

I also read a variety of genres, including romance, mystery, suspense and non-fiction. I read Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Lincoln. It gave you a wonderful feel for the time period which helps me with my own writing. Even heartwarming, spiritual true stories, such as Heaven is for Real, enables me to capture emotions and to be able to use these in my own work.

In conclusion, it can be good to compare yourself to others if you do this with the right intent but also stay true to yourself. Write your own story. Garner methods and styles from others, but as you do so remember to fashion your own storyline and descriptions according to your own heart and dictates. God created you as you are so devise your writing as such. The Lord’s blessings to you.

Categories: Characters & Viewpoints, General Writing, Genres, Grammar, Social Networking, The Writer & Author | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Writing from the Heart

People say I should write about my autistic children, and I have to some extent in my best of year book, Seasons of the Soul. However, there are stories I keep in my heart about them, especially my youngest high-functioning, verbal son.

I could write a book about the days and nights my husband and I sat on pins and needles not knowing what his behavior would be like. Praise God! He is better and now lives in a group home. We see him twice a week. All is well but I cannot tell you how difficult it is for a mother with a special-needs child to let them go. To tell you the truth, just writing about it here is heartbreaking.

So, when others tell you to write about certain topics, don’t do it if it is not in your heart. I knew if I shared our story (which could help others) opened up our family to the public, and the publicity could hurt my disabled son.

Recently, I heard about an author who wrote teen novels but her heart was not in her work. She now is entering a new genre – one she is comfortable with in pursuing.

Many years ago I heard this man on the radio. He would advise listeners on business and recommended to callers to not choose a profession based on the money you could earn but, instead, go with your passion. If your love is writing, then write or whatever else interests you. Of course, there are times you need that paycheck but do not forgo your passion.

Author Stephen King was a teacher and pursued his writing in his downtime. He started with short stories before his novels were published, and he became a household word. Nothing comes overnight.

I laugh when I think about my first book. I was so excited and thought everyone in my community would line up around the block for my book signing. I had a good turnout, but it never matched my expectations.

You have to work for what you get. No one is going to give you anything. I just wish some young people would realize that. Anything done well takes time.

Coming from a journalism background, I had to learn the technique of writing fiction. Think about it. A journalist reports what happens. He does not include emotional reactions, such as her heart raced as she climbed the dark-narrow stairs. A reporter only reports what he sees and hears.

So learning how to write fiction was like going from night and day – two totally different arts. But my education has not stopped, I continue to hone my craft each day. You need to persevere.

But you also need to be realistic. If you are writing poetry, the odds of becoming a poet laureate are not good. However, what you can become is a poet who reaches someone’s soul or uplifts them. My one sister-in-law writes and makes her own birthday cards. Each line of poetry rhymes, but what is amazing is how she captures that relative’s personality. We look forward to these cards and they warm our hearts. Remember not all value is monetary. Sometimes it inspires others, provides comfort and helps ease their pains. This is what my books, Seasons of the Soul, and Lockets and Lanterns, have done, according to people who purchased my books.

In closing, remember to write what is in your heart. Nothing is quite as satisfying as to pursue your passion whether on a part-time basis or a full-time effort. God bless.

Categories: General Writing, The Writer & Author | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Writing Descriptions

Have you ever watched the movie, “Charade”? If not, go and watch it. This movie keeps you on your toes after scene after scene takes you in different directions. The movie stars Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn.

When I taught writing, I showed part of this fast-paced movie to my students and had them write down what they saw. This made them pay attention. What often happens is we observe the world around us without really studying our environment.

Many years ago I took a course titled, “Writing for Children and Teenagers.” In their lessons, they told you to keenly observe the people in your life. Watch them and listen to the way they respond to you. Look for such items as the way they speak, what color are their eyes – really are – not just green but a grey-green – to how they grasp your hand from strong to weak or what?

When you “keenly observe,” you notice those hidden things you take for granted. Jot these down. Take a notebook and go outside and just watch life. As I drove Saturday to a writing-group event, I glanced at the sky. It was blue but not just blue it was aqua-blue with pure-white clouds. Notice I used specific words here, and this is what you need to do in your writing.

A place becomes “real” in writing when readers see and feel it. This includes the five senses – sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing. Of course, not every scene allows you, for instance, to have a character sip tea, for example. However, when you can incorporate all of these, it adds “reality” to your work. Here is a scene from Lockets and Lanterns, which critique readers said made them feel as if they were there:

“Florence pulled her cuffs over her knuckles. Her fingers cool [touch] to the spring breeze, which drifted in from the window behind her. The pot roast smothered in gravy sat on the china platter. [taste] She inhaled [smell] the potent onion aroma and passed the plate to her left.”

Descriptive scenes are important. It lets readers know if the work is an imaginary place, such as in science fiction and fantasy, or something they are familiar with either in today’s world or in the past. In Ruth Ann Nordin and my anthology, Bride by Arrangement, I set the scene for my novella, She Came by Train, included in the anthology as such:

“The train chugged toward the station. Smoke bellowed from the engine’s stack. Standing underneath the roof of the brick-and-mortar depot, Opal gulped as she watched it approach.”

What words give you clues to the time period? They are the smoke bellowing from the engine’s stack (denoting a steam-engine train no longer in existence) and her standing underneath the roof of the brick-and-mortar depot (giving you the impression of a past railroad station).

Thus description brings in your audience and helps them experience that period. However, you do not always need a long span of descriptive words to set a scene. In Ruth Ann Nordin’s Return of the Aliens, you learn through a few choice words that the setting is contemporary.

“‘Thanks for the reminder.’ She walked over to the closed door of the dressing room in the bridal shop.”

How do you learn to make scenes come alive? Write, write, write and learn to add such items as a breeze (touch), a fragrant flower (smell), a food (taste) and a character’s voice breaking as he/she remembers or experiences something tragic. You cannot do this in every scene, but you can, as previously stated, do that in a lot of them if you make an effort. Lead the reader in and let them truly “live” with your characters, and you could do this by simply watching your surroundings and remembering to choose specific words and include the senses.

Remember also to use your thesaurus whether it is the old printed copy or online.

Below is a simple observation test to get you started.

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Observation Test 

 Ask yourself questions as you watch your everyday life. Do you see the details and/or remember them?

1. What specific colors are the sky and the clouds today?

2. How many doors are there in front of the school nearest you?

3. In a traffic light, is the red or the green on top?

Now, come up with some of your own to stimulate your mind. Have a pleasant day and many of the Lord’s blessings to you.

Categories: Amazon store, Barnes & Noble store, General Writing | Tags: , , , ,

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