October 8: Painting With Words

Rome Area Writers is holding its monthly meeting Thursday, October 8, at 6 p.m. via Zoom. The meeting will feature readings and responses to this month’s prompt.

Our prompt is “Paint With Words: Show, Don’t Tell.” We’re going to write a scene, or use an excerpt from a piece we’re working on, that demonstrates how we show emotion, action, setting, character thoughts, and other details in our writing rather than telling them to the reader. We ask that prompt responses not exceed 1,200 words. We’ll then read our work at October’s meeting.

The meeting link will be emailed to current members. If you’re interested in attending the meeting and are not yet a RAW member, please contact us to request the link. We’d be happy to have you!

Revisiting Childhood Favorite Reads

I have always been a re-reader. Growing up, when I found a book I adored, it was not unusual for me to read the darn thing two or three times within a few years (or months…) Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine was one such favorite that probably got read something like eight times during the years spanning elementary and middle school. I can still recall the fervent adoration I held for that book. It is one I have savored and one I intend to re-read again with any children I’m blessed with.

I am in the process of adopting a newborn and I’m thinking about all the beloved books of my childhood and wondering, “What books will they read over and over again?” and “What books will they cherish and love for their entire life?” I have so many stories I want to share with my future child. So many tales that stirred in me fervent love and sorrow and excitement.

Books like Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones, and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, and Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier. I will admit I have a fiery passion for fantasy stories. Most of my shelves at home are bursting with fiction tales set in imaginary lands with imaginary cultures and nations. I’m a sucker for ANY portal fantasies like The Unicorn Chronicles by Bruce Coville or The Rifter series by Ginn Hale.

Magic and fantasy creatures, too? Count me IN.

Now that I’m in my thirties, I have been systematically re-reading old favorites from my childhood and next up is the Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner. As a child, I read the first book in that series, The Thief on the recommendation from one of my best friends. I LOVED IT. When I grew up, I found out that the book has five sequels! I’ve slowly been collecting these sequels so that when I read The Thief as a grown up, I can follow it up with the rest of the series!

The reason I think many of us end up rereading childhood favorites is the comfort we derive from the beloved familiar. There is something uniquely satisfying about re-entering a world in which you experienced intense and very real emotions. There is nothing like the connection one feels with a favorite character or the fun hatred that comes from despising a particularly well-written villain (or, if you’re like me…the admiration you feel for that villain…)

I can still recall the pleasant, soft-edged memories I have of walking into my middle school library and finding, on a whim, Dragon Sword and Wind Child by Noriko Ogiwara. I was so taken with the unique and interesting story that I remembered it clearly all the way into college. I wanted to read it again so badly that I put myself on Powell’s Books list of rare books in order to obtain it as an adult. Months passed, but finally, the treasured tome was in my hands and it was a GORGEOUS edition complete with illustrations. And, just as in the case of The Thief, there is a sequel to Dragon Sword and Wind Child that I was able to purchase.

What about you? Are you a re-reader? Do you love revisiting old stories that have stuck in your mind for years? If so, what are your favorite books to re-read? Share with us in the comments below!

Leah Sherwin is a freelance writer and social media manager who writes fiction whenever she can squeeze in the time. A consummate geek, she loves to spend her (limited) free time reading, playing Final Fantasy XIV, learning Japanese, and watching anime and fantasy/sci-fi shows.

August 13: Prompt readings and responses

Rome Area Writers is holding its monthly meeting Thursday, August 13, at 6 p.m. via Zoom. The meeting will feature readings and responses to this month’s prompts.

Our first prompt came from BookBaby Blog: Writing Phone Conversations to Forward Your Plot and Draw Your Characters. The blog post has tips on how to write engaging dialogue from one side of a phone conversation. At 15 minutes it’s a quick and fun writing challenge!

A second prompt came from Ursula K. Le Guin’s book on writing, Steering the Craft: A Twenty-First Century Guide to Sailing the Sea of Story. The exercise is called “A Terrible Thing to Do” and it goes like this:

“Take one of the longer narrative exercises you wrote — any one that went over 400 words — and cut it by half. If none of the exercises is suitable, take any piece of narrative prose you have ever written, 400-1000 words, and do this terrible thing to it. This doesn’t mean just cutting a bit here and there, snipping and pruning — though that’s part of it. It means counting the words and reducing them to half that many while keeping the narrative clear and the sensory impact vivid, not replacing specifics, and never using the word somehow. If there’s dialogue in your piece, cut any long speech or long conversation in half just as implacably.”

The meeting link will be emailed to current members. If you’re interested in attending the meeting and are not yet a RAW member, please contact us to request the link. We’d be happy to have you!

July 9: Ways to pace your book

Rome Area Writers is holding its monthly meeting Thursday, July 9, at 6 p.m. via Zoom. The meeting will feature a discussion of how chapters, paragraphs, and sentences affect a book’s pacing. The discussion will draw on blogs, exercises, and podcasts to give members useful ways to shape the pacing in their work.

The meeting link will be emailed to current members. If you are interested in attending the meeting and are not yet a RAW member, please contact us to request the link. We would be happy to have you!

The July 9 meeting is also the deadline for the Lavender Mountain Anthology, an annual anthology RAW has published for 20 years. This year marks the 20th edition and we are thrilled to have reached that number.

June 11: Engaging openings for your book

Rome Area Writers is holding its monthly meeting Thursday, June 11 at 6 p.m. via Zoom. The meeting will feature a discussion among members about how to craft engaging opening scenes in fiction and nonfiction. Members will read a few lines of an a book opening they enjoy and explain why they think it’s effective.

The meeting link will be emailed to current members. If you are interested in attending the meeting and are not yet a RAW member, please contact us to request the link. We would be happy to have you!

The July 9 meeting will be the deadline for the Lavender Mountain Anthology, an annual anthology RAW has published now for 20 years. This year has the distinction of being the 20th edition and we’re thrilled to have reached that number.