Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Last Word

As Thanksgiving is approaching, Writers Get Together is completing its second year of an increasingly busy life on the Internet. Starting from scratch, I designed a platform for writers and bloggers to show their wares, to get noticed,  be inspired by the works of other authors and to network. And free publicity! With a lot of  Facebooking and Tweeting we are now approaching the 55,000 view mark. A great achievement! A big thank you goes to Scott Bury who helped me over the summer months! His innovative ideas changed the look and layout of the site and made its appearance so much more professional.
I had great fun doing this and am proud of our joined achievement. However, the time has come for me to move on to other projects. Due to time constraints I need to pace myself and set priorities. And my biggest priority for now is to finish my book about my organic farming experience in Ireland.
I have had a blog on Ireland and all matters green for years:
There is also another blog announcing my new book that carries the same title: I once had a farm in Ireland. (

Writers Get Together is up for grabs! If any of you brilliant writers want to continue this blooming site, get in touch with me! I will be happy to hand over the reins. Happy writing and continued success to all of you!

Siggy Buckley 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Not farewell, but au revoir

Siggy tells me that she’s putting Writers Get Together on hold for a while.

I understand. Running a blog is not a lot of work — it’s not a full-time job, certainly —  but the schedule that Siggy had set, publishing a new post every two days, is demanding.

Running the blog as I did for the summer for Siggy showed me just how much time and stress it could cause. I had to find new contributors, ask them for posts, follow up, edit and format the entry, find pictures, add and verify the links, schedule the thing and add labels or tags.

I added another task, too. I set up a Twitter feed, which meant that that I had make a tweet for every post.

None of these tasks takes a long time — writing a Tweet and adding a shortened link can be done in a minute or two, literally. But it all adds up.

And life has other demands: day job, family, health, home — and, of course, the drive to write the next book. Personally, I have at least three different books in my head that are clamouring to get out onto paper (or screen, at least).

But putting down a blog like Writers Get Together is a hard thing to do, because it is an example of what today’s writer has to do to succeed — to having a point to writing down those stories.

As I’ve written before, the major commercial publishers have failed to make the transition to the new e-book reality and the ability of authors to self-publish. The most exciting and best-selling new authors today (though not necessarily the best) have all begun with self-publishing and then been picked up by major publishers, including the (terrible, but huge-selling) EL James’ Fifty Shades trilogy; but also really good books like Wool by Hugh Howey.

Yes, authors can succeed independently of commercial publishers, retaining control and a much larger share of the proceeds. But commercial publishers exist because they perform essential tasks, like editing, printing, manufacturing, marketing and delivering books.

We can’t do all of it alone. I’m known for saying “you cannot edit your own writing.” First, we writers need someone else to tell us whether our idea makes sense; we need someone else to edit our writing — and probably several people to do the different types of editing, from substantive to copy-editing to proofreading.

We need a designer for the cover; we often need help with formatting for print or e-book production (although the computer tools that do that for us are getting better and better).

And most of all, we need a group of people to help us publicize our work — getting the word out, letting others know about our writing.

That’s where a blog like Writers Get Together can come in: a blog that serves the function in the digital world of the old-fashioned coffee house, where writers can share new work, experiment with new ideas and get feedback from colleagues. And it’s a place where we can discover exciting new writers, or at least exciting writers new to us, and follow links to their work and spread the word through other channels about our discoveries.

That’s why I will not say that Siggy is cancelling Writers Get Together. Instead, I’ll describe it as being on “hiatus.”

I see WGT as a valuable resource, and I am asking all of you now: send me or Siggy some contributions, suggestions, links or anything. Let’s keep the spirit alive.

Come on, writers — get together!

Scott Bury

I am a journalist, editor and writer living in Ottawa. I have written articles for newspapers and magazines in Canada, the US, UK and Australia, includingMacworld, the OttawaCitizen, the Financial Post, Marketing, Canadian Printer, Applied Arts, PEM, Workplace, Advanced Manufacturing and others.
My first published fiction is “Sam, the Strawb Part,” a children’s adventure story. My first published novel wasThe Bones of the Earth,published in 2012. In April 2013, Independent Authors International published my spoof of Fifty Shades of Grey: One Shade of Red.

My website:
Twitter: @ScottTheWriter

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Start the Ball Rolling

by Anu Lal                            

Image Courtesy: Google

Today, I have a special article for you. This article is special because it touches one of my favorite subjects—writing. I am trying here to suggest three strategies that can help writers find their rhythm in their craft, after a severe writers’ block. The mantra of course, is starting the ball rolling. And keep it rolling too. I hope you would enjoy this “post-writers’ block strategies.”  

To hope for success, one must first start the journey. Starting trouble is fear in its vigorous imposition. Often writers succumb themselves to the fear to start a new story. This often happens immediately after writing a story or a book, as a post-publishing syndrome, mostly. The next work would always be decisive. It would chalk out the identity of the writer. These thoughts crowd the writer’s mind and more often than not, every writer feels insecure to begin something new, after one successful work.

This is not exactly the fear of losing or the lack of competence. On the other hand, starting woes are essentially associated with the insecurity in looking failure in the eye. This is in effect, a ‘what if?’. It would tear off their shields of confidence. What if I could not produce the quality, they suppose me to be a master of? This question breeds insecurity, but it should not be misunderstood with the occasional bout of inner stress known by the notorious name, writer’s block.
Efficient planning and effective strategies can help writers start the ball rolling again. Three key points are given below;
Editing any previously written manuscript
Go to you file folders or notebooks and find any manuscript you worked with some time before. The next is the process of preparation. Pick up a publisher’s address or a magazine’s website and prepare your manuscript according to their guidelines for publishing. Re-read, edit and proofread your manuscript. By the end of this process, you will be able to clear your thoughts on unnecessary concerns. This method works through a process called ‘channeling’. As a writer, you are channeling all your attention and energies on the craft, while editing and proofing your unpublished manuscript. Through channeling, individual would be able to fix one’s attention and eliminate other concerns.   
Compulsive writing on random ideas
This is a traditional method and like all traditional methods, based on ritualistic practices. Through compulsive writing on random ideas, a writer is partaking in an initiation process. The ritual and the practitioner are equally important in this method. The writer, starting on a random word should keep on writing whatever comes to his mind, with or without a prior planning. This method works better when the writer attempts to follow the stream of randomly generated words.   
Extensive reading
Although, no ‘writing’ is present in the sub-heading, this is a very useful method with an undeniable impact. This always worked for me and for many of my friends too. Extensive reading, here, suggests not just a long period of research, or even reading for research. It suggests a focused attempt to spend as much time as possible with the book you read, currently. The principle that is under work in this method can be called invocation. The writer invokes the elements of craft that lay in dormant stage in one, through a voluntary attempt to peruse without stop for a long time. In my case, it goes on to four or five hours.   
The one idea I would like you focus, the one idea that can help you beyond anything else, is hope. However, hope is inevitably related to action. Without starting a project, we have no right to hope for its success. 

Bio: Anu Lal is the first Indian author to write a trilogy of short story collections in English. 'Hope, Vengeance and History' trilogy is an interconnected neuron of short stories. The first book in this trilogy is Wall of Colours and Other Stories. He is also a columnist in an American journal and a translator.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Writing Believable Dialogue

by Kathryn Dionne  

For me, writing believable dialogue is one of the most challenging aspects of writing a great story.  

When I first started writing books, I would go into coffee shops, restaurants, and retail stores with pen and pad in hand searching for my next victim.  I’d seek out a couple deep in conversation. Then I would move in closer so that I could eavesdrop on their discussion. My thought behind this stalking strategy was; what better way to capture realistic dialogue than to listen to it first hand?

I quickly realized how bad an idea this really was.

One particular time I was in a clothing store.  I had focused on two teenage girls deep in conversation as they rummaged through a rack of sale items. I thought, fantastic! Now I’m really going to get some juicy and plausible dialogue.

Their conversation went something like this;
“Like, I’d really wear that.”
“Uh huh. Me either. What time is it?”
“I dunno. You wanna go?”
“I dunno, do you? Eew, like I’d really wear that.”
And round and round their conversation went. I kept thumbing through the rack next to them hoping they would give me more than a three word sentence. I needed more information, more realistic verbal interaction between these two characters.  Why wouldn’t they wear those shirts?  Were they too small? Too large? Not the right color or the right style?  I needed to know.  And once they left there, where would they be going?  To another store? Out to eat? Home? To visit their boyfriends?  There seemed to be so many details that had been omitted.  And what they had told me did not advance the story. In fact, their dialogue stalled it. I didn’t know anything more about their situation than when I first walked over.  They weren’t giving me any new information. And the information they had provided was lacking in depth and dimension.  They had not bothered to set the mood or establish the tone of the conversation.  Why did character #1 want to know what time it was?  Did she have some ulterior motive?  Was she hiding something from her friend? I kept waiting for more nuggets of insight into who these girls were and what their motives were.  But the dialogue continued its monotonous loop with no change in pace or differentiation between the two voices. Were they even listening to themselves?

In my mind I screamed out, give me something more! I needed to see an action that would move the story forward, like a glance over their shoulder toward the door as if waiting for someone, or a quick look at the manager standing near the cash register to make sure they weren’t being watched.  Without some subtle movement or gesture to evolve the story, I was lost.  And yet, I knew there was so much more to this tale that needed to be told. So without thinking, I grabbed the arm of the girl closest to me and said in a rather breathy voice, “Where are you going next?”  I wasn’t going to follow them. I just needed to know!

I learned something very valuable that day about the do’s and don’ts of writing believable dialogue:

1.      Make sure your dialogue moves the story forward.
2.      Let your dialogue set the mood and tone of the story.
3.      Use action to break up the pace of the dialogue.
4.      Add depth to your characters by giving them each a distinctive voice.
5.      Read your dialogue out loud to make sure it is flowing in the direction you want it to go.

1. Stalk anyone to get your realistic dialogue!

I won’t bore you with the details of what happened next.  Suffice it to say, I’m not allowed in that store any more.

About the Author

Kathryn Dionne, the author of The Eleventh Hour trilogy and Derek The Fireless Dragon, lives in Southern California with her husband, Jeff, and their two Shar Peis, Bogey and Gracie. 
From an early age, Kathryn’s love of treasure hunting sparked an interest in archaeology. As an amateur archaeologist, she’s been fortunate enough to uncover some very unique artifacts in different parts of the globe.  However, she’s still searching for that very special scroll.
In addition to writing, she manages their five-acre property and their grove of Italian olive trees.  Her husband has lovingly named their business; Saint Kathryn’s Olive Oil. 
In her spare time, she makes cookie jars and throws pottery in her studio.  She also creates mosaics from discarded objects and sells them under the category of Found Art.
She is currently writing a new series called, Chasing Time, which she hopes to have published some time in 2013. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

How to Pluck a Goose

by The Ex Farmer's Wife


               Germans love their goose for Christmas. Traditionally, the first appear on the menu of restaurants on St. Martin's day, 11 November. In the weeks leading up to our first Christmas in Ireland, word spread in the village where we had bought the farm that we had geese for sale − if only four. Though not a traditional Irish Christmas dish, there were more people interested in getting these rare birds than we could provide. One we wanted to keep for our own Christmas dinner.
          So how do you pluck a goose? This is what you need: a goose, buckets of scorching hot but not boiling water to dip the bird in head down, and some stamina, i.e. not too delicate a nose. I had practiced before in Germany on one, but to do four was a challenge. Each takes at least 90 minutes to pluck.
                                                                               (an AGA)

              So my trusted housekeeper and helper, Pauline, put several pots on the stove to heat up the water. On our cooker, an AGA, that would take a while. In the meantime, Mac and I chose and caught the poor first victim straight from the goose hut. When we lifted the roof of the hut carefully Father Goose became extremely aggressive, hissing and nipping at Mac's hands and jeans-clad legs. Their nips hurt! You have to grab the goose by its neck, which pretty much renders it defenseless. 
On the yard, near the compost heap on the wall, we had a timber block for splitting wood for kindling. Mac carried the goose over there, speaking in soothing tones to it, holding it with one hand and patting it with the other. He then put it on the block. I held its neck and Mac grabbed the axe. I didn't really dare to watch, but necessity made me blink and double check that my arm was outstretched far away enough out of the danger zone. With one swift swing, the goose was in goose heaven. In contrast to chickens, you can't wring their necks. They are too strong. But they don't flutter around headless on the yard either as chickens do. 

You have to let the blood drip out completely before you can proceed. Now the plucking can begin. We had an enormous double sink that we had bought from a youth hostel and put a big bucket in both basins. Dip the bird into the hot water and you can pluck away. Pauline and I stood side by side and worked on a goose each while having a good chin wag.

              Geese are much harder to pluck than chickens because their feathers are stubborn.  The worst are the pin feathers. And geese do smell. Raised on a diet of pure grass, it's surprising how much their intestines stink. After about an hour the feathers were done, and my hands, legs, and feet had gone cold and numb. At this stage, the city girl in me chickened out. My hypersensitive nose couldn’t take it anymore. I volunteered to put the kettle on for a tea break, Elevenses as they call it in Ireland. Pauline was made of tougher material. She didn't mind to keep going and always looked forward to her hot cuppa. Next she cut up the animals and pulled out the entrails, a messy and malodorous job. Then she washed them many times under running, cold water and neatly presented them on a plate.
          Grateful, I had the tea and refreshments ready. Most times we had to remove little hairs that stubbornly stuck to the skin with tweezers without tearing the skin. Then one year,  Mac had a brilliant idea: you could actually use a little flame torch like restaurants use for making Crème Brulée and just singe off the remaining fine hairs. Again, one had to be careful not to burn or damage the skin.
         Our price per animal was about 30 Irish pounds ($50 today), of which I had to pay Pauline 10 for her work. Every year, I toyed with the idea of saving the eiderdown and big feathers to fill pillow cases. The thought of cleaning these heaps of feathers, however, sounded like too much work to me. So we never did it. Today I prefer to buy a goose ready for the oven, if I can find them organically grown: plucked and cleaned! Thank goodness, my plucking days are over.
         Here’s my favorite recipe handed down from my mother: Stuffed with a mixture of breadcrumbs, apples and onions, the bird requires slow roasting at 180C/375 F under continuous basting with water, its own juices, and occasional turning. 2-3 hours is recommended. Delicious accompaniments are potatoes, red cabbage and apple sauce. Go for a lean bird: geese can be fatty. Ours never were, because they were grass-fed, free-range--the sporty, muscular type.
(Excerpt of her upcoming book: I once had a Farm in Ireland - An Organic Life Story).  

Siggy Buckley