Jessica Bell! Also CampNaNo, ROW80, More A to Z Reflections, E L Konigsburg, Deanna Durbin...

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming...

A to Z was amazing!

Thank you to Arlee, to Alex, to Matthew, to everyone who made it possible.

I thought, naively, that scheduling my posts would mean more free time for editing. Of course it didn't work that way, both because I didn't schedule as many posts in advance as I should have, and because commenting on others' posts was so much fun.

And I've reached 400 followers! Thanks so much to all of you, new and old. Makes me giddy just thinking that so many people are reading!

Despite ROW80 and having signed up for CampNaNo, I barely got any editing done in the past couple of weeks. I'm at the point where I keep revising the first chapter or two of Druid's Moon, and can't seem to move beyond that. So much tweaking. But I'm also rereading Book 6 of the History of Middle-earth, which includes many of Tolkien's drafts for the first few chapters of The Lord of the Rings - not only did they take him nearly a year to write (and this is just the drafting!) but they're so... well, basic, that it gives me hope, knowing the tightly-woven masterpieces he achieved in the end, with diligent and careful editing.

I also feel a little less guilty because I wrote a short story in one sitting last week! I was reading the third book in the collected Sandman series (Neil Gaiman strikes again!) and there was a throwaway line of a story idea: inheriting a library card from the library at Alexandria.
So I wrote the story!

I have other exciting news but first, two notices of passing... In the past couple of weeks, author E. L. Konigsburg and actress Deanna Durbin have passed away. I had no idea Deanna Durbin was still alive, in fact. She's been retired from the public eye for years, apparently, living in the French countryside. I wouldn't even have known who she was, if it hadn't been for Beatrice Thurman Hunter's wonderful Booky trilogy, about growing up in Toronto during the Depression.

There's probably no need to say anything about E. L. Konigsburg. Every single one of her books is genius. When I heard that she'd passed away, I went and splurged on Amazon, buying the five books I hadn't read yet. So far I've read the two short story collections Throwing Shadows and Altogether One At A Time. Like I said, genius. She nails point of view and voice and plot twist in ways I aspire to.

Speaking of editing and writerly aspirations, I'm pleased to feature Jessica Bell today!

Too many adverbs and clichés in your writing? I've got just the fix for you.
by Jessica Bell

Writers constantly have rules thrown at them left, right, and center. Show, don't tell! Stop using so many dialogue tags! More sensory detail! More tension! Speed up the pace! Yada yada yada ... it can become overwhelming, yes? I used to feel overwhelmed by it all too. In fact, I still do sometimes. It's hard enough to get the words on the page, let alone consider how to put them there.

In Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird, she says that in order not to be overwhelmed, a writer needs to focus on short assignments. She refers to the one-inch picture frame on her desk and how that little picture frame reminds her to focus on bite-sized pieces of the whole story. Basically, if you focus on one small thing at a time, the story will eventually come together to create a whole. I believe the same applies to learning the craft of writing. If writers focus on one aspect of the craft at a time, the process will seem less daunting and piece by piece it will come together.

My name's Jessica Bell, and my own struggles with feeling overwhelmed inspired me to write the Writing in a Nutshell Series of pocket-sized writing guides. So you can learn to hone your craft in bite-sized, manageable pieces. In the first book of the series, I focused on demonstrating how to transition "telling" into "showing." In Adverbs & Clichés in a Nutshell: Demonstrated Subversions of Adverbs & Clichés into Gourmet Imagery, I deal with another of the most common criticisms aspiring writers face: to absolutely avoid adverbs and clichés like the plague. But see, right now, I just used one of each. I also used a couple in the first two paragraphs of this post because they come naturally, and we utilize them frequently in everyday speech. But in fiction, too many adverbs and clichés weaken your prose. It's considered "lazy writing", because it means we don’t have to show what’s happening.

If your manuscript has too many adverbs and clichés, it most likely means that the emotion you felt while writing it is not going to translate to the reader in the same way. So how exactly can we approach the subversion of adverbs and clichés? For starters, play around with simile and metaphor when you’re trying to convey emotion, and for action, use strong verbs to show it happening in real time.

The key? Think smaller details rather than the bigger picture.

Need some help and inspiration?

In Adverbs & Clichés in a Nutshell: Demonstrated Subversions of Adverbs & Clichés into Gourmet Imagery, you will find thirty-four examples of prose which clearly demonstrate how to turn those pesky adverbs and clichés into vivid and unique imagery. Dispersed throughout are blank pages to craft your own unique examples. Extra writing prompts are also provided at the back of the book.
“Jessica Bell's latest pocket guide, Adverbs & Clichés in a Nutshell, will inspire you to leave bland behind and pursue your creative best. With force and clarity, she demonstrates how adverbs and clichés hobble vibrant writing. She then marks a course toward unique expression and provides workouts that will help writers at every level develop a distinctive voice.” ~Laurel Garver, freelance editor, author of Never Gone and Muddy-Fingered Midnights
Purchase links:
Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon Ca | Kobo

Australian-native contemporary fiction author and poet, Jessica Bell, also makes a living as an editor and writer for global ELT publishers (English Language Teaching), such as Pearson Education, HarperCollins, Macmillan Education, Education First and Cengage Learning.

She is the co-publishing editor of Vine Leaves Literary Journal, and the director of the Homeric Writers’ Retreat & Workshop on the Greek island of Ithaca.

For more information about Jessica please visit:
Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook


Jessica's series rocks.
Congratulations on four hundred followers. Sorry you didn't accomplish a lot of editing. It's almost impossible to work on anything else during the Challenge.
Old Kitty said…
Well done you for completing the A-Z challenge AND for your short story writing too!! And you've joined Camp Nano and reached amazing followers too!!! You're a star!!!

Thanks for such great nuggets from the fabulous Jessica Bell - she's totally super talented! I suffer from lazy writing and so need a slap on the wrist all the time to make me stop! LOL!!

Awww - the lovely and ever so precocious Ms Durbin - amazing woman!! Take care
Jessica Bell said…
Congrats on all the new followers and the short story too! That's fabulous! Thanks so much for hosting me today, too :-)
Zan Marie said…
Wow! 400 followers is wonderful, Deniz, and well deserved. Jessica's book sounds fascinating. I'm off to check it out. ; )
Nas said…
Congratulations to Jessica for the latest book. Sounds great!

And well done Deniz on the followers and the short story.

All the best!
Kristen Dyrr said…
Congrats, congrats, and congrats!! (on finishing A to Z, 400 followers, and the short story). :) I've really enjoyed your blog, and will enjoy continuing to follow along. :)

#atozchallenge, Kristen's blog:
Beth Camp said…
I'm wondering if Jessica Bell has written any "Marketing in a Nutshell for Writers" for that is truly overwhelming! Your post show lots of progress. Congrats especially on finishing A to Z (I almost fizzled out the last two days) AND for gaining 400 followers. Bravo!
Denise Covey said…
Lovely to see Jessica featured. I loved her little book, Show Don't Tell too.
Congrats on your four hundred followers, and on completing the A to Z, AND on writing a short story! That's awesome! And the post about adverbs was cool too; I think I use too many adverbs (and adjectives) in my writing.
By the way, I gave you a Liebster award, which comes with questions that you can respond to. But you don't have to respond to the questions or tag anyone; I just wanted to give you the award. :)
(I also just noticed that I use too many semicolons.)
Misha Gericke said…
Jessica's book sounds so useful.
Crystal Collier said…
Awesome. I like to separate edits, and take one focus at a time, running through the whole thing with that in mind, then wrapping it all up at the end with a final everything edit. It's an old process, but I blogged about it here:
You include such unique information on your blog. Kudos! All the best for the week ahead. Happy Writing!
Trisha F said…
I love Jessica's book cover, so cool. And her book would be very useful as well. :)

I think that next year for the A-Z I'll try to schedule posts, but only so I can do more commenting/visiting. I wouldn't be wanting to try to do any other project during April. Yech.
DMS said…
Jessica's book sounds so helpful (as does the rest of the series). I am working on editing adverbs as we speak!

I hope your editing goes well and I love that you were inspired by Neil Gaiman and The Sandman (one of my all time favorites).

I had no idea about E.L. Konigsburg passing away. Thanks for sharing!
Hi Deniz - doing much else (even living!) during the A-Z is a stretch!!

Jess' book series seems an excellent one and I love her cover - always catches the eye ...

Love your story take from that line about the library in Alexandria ..

Good luck with your editing .. cheers Hilary
nutschell said…
This is the second time I've seen Jessica Bell's book on a blog. I'm definitely adding it to my must read list.
Anonymous said…
I'd like to read Jessica's latest work.

Happy writing.
Congrats on 400 followers and for completing the A-Z Challenge!
Deniz Bevan said…
Thanks so much everyone! Coming to visit you now :-)

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