Archive for June, 2012
Katherine Owen has written and released three novels, Not To Us, When I See You, preceded by her first novel, Seeing Julia, which was the recipient of the Zola Award in 2010 from the Pacific Northwest Writers Association. In fact, all three of her books are currently on Amazon’s best seller list for American Drama.
Katherine is a writer of contemporary fiction. Her educational background includes a B.A. in Communications-Editorial Journalism with a minor in English Literature from the University of Washington. She lives in an old house near the city of Seattle that overlooks Lake Washington with her husband, two children and a couple of crazy cats where she writes edgy fiction.
It is because of Katherine’s unique opportunity to learn and study from highly skilled masters of the craft that I’ve asked her if she would kindly share some of her journey and writing experience with all of us here today.
So without further ado, here’s Katherine!
Thank you, Karen.
An Essential Element To This Writer’s Life
EVERY WRITER CONVERGES ONTO THE PATH OF WRITING from a different place, but the journey, itself, usually begins with one particular person’s praise of your work. “This is really good; have you thought about being a writer?” A few writers take this bait and declare themselves a writer early on. The rest of us resist the calling and spend quite a bit of our lives in denial. I was in this latter group. So, when I finally jumped into the fray of a writer’s life, it was disconcerting to finally achieve the dream—writing full-time—only to discover that I had no idea what I was really doing.
That first year, I read every book on writing, wrote a seven-hundred page first novel, but soon discovered that the literary world was a lonely place filled with false starts, lots of stops, and uncertainty. I wasn’t really sure what the next step should be. Early readers of my work gave me feedback. It was good. I loved it. Keep going. There wasn’t a lot of depth to these critiques and I remained unsure as to how to make myself a better writer.
This led me to question if I could really write at all. Should I get an MFA? Would credentials prove this to me or the literary world? Defeat set in. I didn’t have that kind of time. I’d spent a good number of years already doing something completely different and away from writing. I didn’t want to spend thousands of dollars to leave my family and go away to Iowa for a year or so and get another degree when all I really wanted to do was write. So, the idea began to resonate that maybe what I needed to do was take a writing class to garner additional insight into my craft and answer the question for myself: Did I have what it takes to be a good writer? That’s when I found The Writers Studio.
There are all kinds of online class offerings from places like Gotham to Writer’s Digest to online courses right in your own community that will take your money and teach you some of the elements of writing. Yet, The Writers Studio, in my mind, sets itself apart because of its unique approach and true literary focus. Located in New York City, The Writers Studio was founded by Philip Schultz, a poet and fiction writer, who won the Pulitzer Prize in 2008 for his work, Failure.
The program’s advisory board consists of legendary writers like Jennifer Egan (my personal crush), Julia Glass, Bill Henderson, and many others. Class offerings include several in-person classes in New York City, San Francisco, Tucson, and even Amsterdam, but the program also reaches a wide array of writers through its online writing courses. I’ve been taking these online fiction classes for the past two and half years.
The Writers Studio isn’t a writing program to learn about where to place commas, use proper grammar, or how to plot a novel. Rather, it’s a place to learn about various persona narrators, mood, and tone. The program’s method, encourages students to “try on” different narrative voices—personas—with the belief that by studying other writers’ work and their techniques and/or approaches, your own writing will ascend to the next level. I liken it to painting with oils or acrylics. As an artist, you might study Monet’s work and attempt to paint like him, but your own artistic rendering would invariably be different. This is what happens when you study the works of other writers and utilize the TWS method. It opens up your mind to the possibilities in your own craft. Literally.
In my writing experience with the program, I have been able to better discern mood, tone, and establish various persona narrators within my work. I could never have written When I See You without having taken these classes. This particular novel is told from two points of view, the perspectives of a man and a woman, in first person present tense, no less. It is more complex than my other novels because of that alone; and, I owe my ability to even attempt this technique to the classes I’ve taken. In fact, all three of my currently released novels were inspired from assignments I first wrote in class. Even my current work-in-progress, tentatively titled This Much Is True, was first inspired by a fiction assignment I did in class a few sessions back.
It could be that you’re already a good writer, but you still question how to take your work to the next level. The Writers Studio will invariably up your game because studying the great writers of our time and past will ultimately improve your own writing. I can’t say enough about what I’ve learned and how my writing has evolved with The Writers Studio. This past spring I completed my second Fiction IV class. I’m contemplating taking another class in the fall because making lasting connections with other writers, receiving feedback from both peers and teachers about my writing, and providing critiques of other writers’ work on a weekly basis has become an essential element to this writer’s life.
It has made me a better writer; and, it is my hope it may do the same for you.
Thank you all for coming to view my post today. I think Karen has an announcement. Am I right, Karen?
Yes, you’re right Katherine. Thank you so much for sharing your personal experience with us!
As was mention above, Katherine Owen has released three novels: Seeing Julia (A Zola Award Winner), Not To Us, and When I See You.
If you leave a comment on Katherine’s post today and enter your information in the Rafflecopter box below, you will qualify to win a free copy of one of her books. She is giving away two of each. One paperback and one ebook in kindle format.
Thank you Katherine. This is very generous of you!
And don’t forget to look for her next novel, This Much Is True, slated for release later this summer 2012. Here’s the story-line, “They share an unexpected connection that proves life changing which leads to a continual search: he, to find her; she to stay lost.”
And the winners are:
Seeing Julia Paperback
Seeing Julia eBook
Pat O’Dea Rosen
Not To Us Paperback
Not To Us eBook
When I See You Paperback
When I See You eBook
Congratulations to everyone!
Thank you everyone for dropping by and for all your wonderful comments!
As a writer, we describe the world we know. Sights, sounds, colors, and textures are all brushstrokes painted in words like an artist paints his images on canvas. A story is told through our imagination that is happening in a place that is rooted in our minds. The location of a story’s actions, along with the time in which it occurs, is all part of the reflection of our settings.
Many writers may leave a lot of detail up to the reader’s imagination, while others are quite descriptive on the page. But when we use our senses to help our characters fit into their surroundings, it will visibly reflect the perception of tension that drives the story in our novels.
Let’s look at an artist’s brushstrokes and see how it reflects on his work!
The artist’s name is Jason de Graaf.
Jason was born in Montreal, Canada in 1971. He now lives and works in the Quebec area, where he labors for hours on end in almost total isolation to complete his intricate pieces.
His life sounds much like a writer, doesn’t it?
Jason de Graaf’s meticulous attention to detail conflicts texture with unyielding surfaces in his intensely arranged still lifes. But his work is not just a demonstration of photo-like talent. “The deceptive reflections focus on a realm of reality that exists outside of the painting’s frame. He stretches depth and skews perspective ever so slightly, infusing the painting with a spectre of mystery that pushes the viewer to search for an ever-escaping point of equilibrium.”
Listen to what Mr. De Graaf says of his own work.”My paintings are about staging an alternate reality, the illusion of verisimilitude on the painted surface, filtered so that it expresses my unique vision.”
Verisimilitude? Yes I know, I had to go look that one up!
It’s a great word. It means truth, credibility, authenticity, reliability, plausibility and likelihood. It encompasses the embodiment of his work and would aptly describe the detailing and reflections on metallic objects that are Jason’s specialty.
Take a look along with the one above…
Jason also states that his goal is not to “reproduce or document faithfully what I see one hundred percent, but also to create the illusion of depth and a sense of presence not found in photographs.
“To that end I don’t strictly adhere to the reference material at hand. I use photographs, objects or people, as a springboard or a means to explore my sense of aesthetics and ability as a picture maker. I use colours and composition intuitively with the intent of imbuing my paintings with emotion, mood and mystery. Throughout, I try to remain open to new ideas and surprises as the painting unfolds.”
Wow! Doesn’t that sound like our goal as a writer? Like Jason, do we not use photographs, objects or people along with a sense of imagination as a springboard for our writing? Though it is impossible to produce perfection, our brushstrokes are able to create an illusion of reality and a sense of emotion in every one of our characters—all part of the reflection of our settings.
A brushstroke of an artist indeed!
So what do you think? What kind of sensory details do you like to use in your writing? What are some of the settings that you enjoy using as a backdrop to your characters? Have you heard of Jason de Graaf or seen his work before? How do people or pictures inspire you?
By the way, I have something special coming up for next week. I have a guest author who will be sharing some of her insight on writing and giving away six books! Yes, you read that right, six books. So be sure to tell everyone you know to drop by next week on Wednesday, June 20th. There’ll be lots of winners!
Thank you everyone for dropping by and for all your wonderful comments!
I have never personally experienced this phenomenon when visiting this beautiful country, so I didn’t quite believe my friend Christine MacKenzie when she had said on her blog post that the sun does shine in England. Well you can only imagine how excited I was when I stumbled upon this picture that was taken towards the end of April.
Look! The sky is bright as the clouds depart, the sun shines over large Olympic rings that decorate this lush emerald green lawn at the Royal Botanic Gardens, near London. At the start of July, England’s capital is hosting the Summer Olympics.
First, for those of you who don’t know, there’s a certain event that’s also been making a big splash across the pond over the last several days. It seems England has a preoccupation with this thing called a Monarchy. Apparently their Queen, that would be Queen Elizabeth II, who is now 86 years old by the way, is celebrating her Diamond Jubilee—60 years of reigning over the British Empire. No other British Monarch over the last 1,000 years has reigned for that amount of time except Queen Victoria.
Yes, a very big splash indeed!
It’s hard to conceive just how many people will invade London, England to attend these two enormous occasions. The crowds, the police, all the pomp and circumstance—It’s quite an undertaking. Yet, there is a special event towards the end of this summer that will be like icing on a cake! Like dessert with a cherry on top.
This would be known as the Paralympics!
The first Paralympic games were held in Rome in 1960. Since then, there have been 14 games. This year, with its 4200 participants set to take part from all over the world, it will be the biggest game of its kind ever. For the first time, London will host the event starting August 29th through September 9th with 16 new countries represented.
The Paralympics has become so big that the event will be broadcast to an estimated 4 billion people around the world. And this past Monday, June 4th, it was announced that the British rock band Coldplay will perform at the games closing ceremony.
Wow! Now, that’s cool!
For those with inquiring minds, here are some of the events taking place:
Archery, Athletics, Cycling (both Road and Track), Equestrian, Football, Judo, Powerlifting, Rowing, Sailing, Shooting, Swimming, Table Tennis, Volleyball, Wheelchair Basketball, Wheelchair Fencing, Wheelchair Rugby and Wheelchair Tennis.
L.A. Galaxy Football star David Beckham described the event as a “real privilege.” He said, “This has just been one of the most exciting things. There have been…two million kids around the country trying out Paralympic sport. It is so amazing.” And that’s just in England. Beckham was part of the Olympic bid team that brought it to the country. To anyone who still thinks that disability sport is not a real sport and that it doesn’t count, Beckham said: “Give it a try— it is as simple as that. You do not learn anything until you try.”
And try he did. Here’s Beckham playing blind football with a team at a London school.
Now that’s inspiring!
So inspiring that for the very first time, tickets for the Paralympics are expected to sell out!
Whether we’re athletes or artists, we all have special gifts—although some may be more inspiring than others. But I think we can all agree that no matter what the weather is forecast to be, while those amazing athletes compete for Olympic greatness, the sun will shine over not just England, but the entire globe!
So what do you think? Have you ever traveled over the pond to England? Are you planning to attend or watch the Olympics? What are some of the games that you enjoy watching? Had you ever heard of the Paralympics? Have you known anyone who has competed in an Olympic event?
Thank you everyone for dropping by and for all your wonderful comments!