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Focus Writing Groups

Do you want to know what embodies a great focus writing group? Dedication to craft, commitment and a comfortable personality mix. The Rogues Gallery Writers have been meeting weekly for years now. We’ve undergone a couple member changes, but we never missed a beat. In fact, my opinion stands that we’ve grown stronger as a group, as writers, and as friends.

Dedication comes into play in our meetings as we go over news and insights about writing and publishing that we can all use in our individual endeavors. We each stay connected to the writing world and bring what we’ve learned to each other as topics allow. We each absorb so much information each week about writing and publishing, we could never exchange it all. But when a topic comes up or a question gets thrown out to the group, invariably someone has an answer.

The Rogues commit to meeting weekly. Sure we’re tired. Sure we each have our own set of familial issues, work issues, life issues, but we always find a way to get to our meetings. Sometimes someone gets sick. Thanks to Bridget, we’re in the habit of taking minutes of our meetings, so the person who could not attend at least gets caught up on important happenings within the group.

While we’ve completed two books together as a group now, we each maintain our individual writing tasks. I believe we all benefit from our collective undertakings in our private writing pursuits. We’ve built a camaraderie like the Musketeers, all for one and one for all. As diverse as our writing styles are, the precepts of writing apply to most all genres. I always come away from a Rogues meeting pumped up.

Our personalities gelled over a year ago, and we feel we’ve produced a helluva book in The Method Writers. The book has just been sent off for final edit, so we’re particularly excited at this point. Writing is a passion, a pursuit one does not go after unless infected by the writing bug. Writing is something an author MUST do. I must say, writing with these authors is nothing short of an honor.

Cheers fellow Rogues!

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Posted by on February 15, 2012 in The Rogues Gallery Writers

 

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Book Writing, Editing, and Publishing

The Rogues stay busy. This fact gets chronicled often. We each work for a living, we each possess passions for writing, and we each strive to marry the two into a cohesive, workable life. Today, I am blogging five different sites as well as posting an article on HubPages.com. This, in addition to working with my incredible Office Administrator Cindy on four books-in-progress at ClearView Press Inc and two books-in-progress with the Rogues.

Jeff stays swamped these days with his work. I am amazed at the quantity of writing he manages to produce. Top notch writing at that. The Rogues currently swim in the ocean of editing. Our book, The Method Writers, nears completion. Each of us struggle to make time for our writing, and Jeff brings energy, ideas and commitment to finishing the project.

Nancy happens to be the most swamped person I know. She amazes me that she can even muster the energy to attack her days, much less be as productive as she is. Between her work, her writing business, her writing in general and The Method Writers, this lady shows me what work ethic and determination are all about. Nancy is an excellent editor, and the Rogues are truly blessed with her dedication to our group.

Bridget currently resides in Michigan until February. All we ‘southern’ Rogues miss her sorely and look forward to her return. Don’t think for a moment we are disconnected by distance. We Oovoo (meet online in video chat) each week. We use technology to keep our group and projects moving forward. Can you believe, busy as we all are, that we’re writing two, yes two books together, editing, and meeting weekly online. Bridget keeps us on track by taking meeting minutes. She just started doing this out of the blue, which has been a HUGE benefit to the group.

The Rogues are writing. We’re editing. We’ll soon be publishing. This all in addition to owning hectic lives. I write all this as encouragement to all writers who say they “don’t have time to write”. None of the Rogues have time to write – yet we do. We make time to write. So can you. Sacrifice something. TV time. Sleep. A couple games of Spider Solitaire. You can do it. I know you can, because the Rogues do.

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2012 in The Rogues Gallery Writers

 

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Sex and Writing – Nobody Teaches You How to do it Well!

Isn’t writing a lot like sex? Think about it. For those of you struggling with the writing life, we are groomed to speak and write the ‘Queen’s English‘ throughout our school years, but who teaches us how to do it well (as in get published)? When we are young, we get the obligatory ‘sex talk’ and may even get sex ed in school, but again, who teaches us to do it well (as in get…well, you know…)?

I know, experience and repetition. But there are shortcuts to better writing getting published (and better sex for that matter, but not on this blog…) available to us today. We have a populace that is interconnected like no generation in the history of mankind. I can talk, face to face, with anyone in any country that has an internet connection – for free.

Ok, so the ‘for free’ statement is not totally accurate. There’s the cost of electricity, internet service, the computer and camera with which to connect, and probably a host of other insidious expenses. But from our perspective today, the call is free. We can speak as long as we like. Heck, my daughter talks with her friends, one from England and one in Las Vegas, at the same time on ooVoo (similar to Skype, only better in my opinion…).

Ok, so we can string a good story together, make it into a novel – then what? Yes, a plethora of publishing options that make even those of us in the industry shake our heads and go, “Huh?” Who teaches the novelist what to do with their craft?

No one. Who taught Don Juan or Cassanova (or their real life counterparts) how to make love? Many women that came before the notoriety, that’s who. For the writer, their first books teach what to do and what not to do and what can be done better.

Still, this is a very crazy way for people to learn, is it not? In this age where everything is available to everyone with internet connection, you would think there would be definitive teaching institutions who regale students with the proper steps in writing, publishing, marketing and promoting their books.

I see workshops all over the Master of Arts landscape. I also hear quite a bit about MFA grads struggling to make it in the writing world because of ego or too technical of a writing style.

One of the reasons publishing marketing and promoting is not well organized and taught in my humble opinion is that the creative muse flees rigid order in our most creative folk. Creativity needs to live and breathe in freedom and non-restriction. To create this environment, the writer must be able to reach a ‘peace’ in solitude where he or she can connect with their muse. Thus, writers often do not make good business decisions. Publishing, marketing and promotion are all business concepts.

Do you begin to see the difficulty in teaching this? To run the sex analogy again, some people like a soft touch, others a more assertive touch. The varying personalities of men and women deliver a range of sexual experience that can cover incredible differences and nuances. This means what works for one, won’t necessarily work for another. Finding that mate where everything works together well is important to us – and there is no way of ‘knowing’ this.

When we get our book to a finished product, we know it. Real scientific, eh? Your best writing comes when you let go – fear, critic, judge, peer pressure, bias, etc. But what happens once the mate has been selected (the book is written)? Most writers bumble their way through the publishing landscape, many getting fleeced along the way.

The suggestion here is that you consider forming a small focus writing group. That’s what the Rogues Gallery Writers are. We banded together and learn collectively. Writers should educate themselves. One of the best ways to do this is with three or four other people of like mind who need to learn as well. You accelerate your learning curve. We each look at the publishing process from slightly different angles. We share knowledge collected from our unique perspectives. We each then, have a baseline for making publishing, marketing and promotion decisions.

Do not go into writing thinking all you’re going to do is write. Realize this is a business. Hedge your bet with trusted writing partners who will walk through the crazy writing-life-landscape with you. You must be careful to select people who are of like mind, ie, focused on getting published. Stay away from people who are looking for a social hour or just in it for fun. Those folk should join their own respective groups of people. If you’re serious about getting published, find a few good people who feel the same and work together.The rewards are great!

For those of you wishing to continue the sex analogy, I stop here. I would not advocate where some of your minds are going…

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2011 in The Rogues Gallery Writers

 

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Guardian Angel

We, the Rogues of course, have been excerpting pieces of stories from our book Writing is Easy. For those fiction readers out there, here’s a sampling of Guardian Angel, by Michael Ray King

Guardian Angel

When the time comes, pull the cord.

Freefall exhilarates.  Frightens.  Freefall delivers beauty and danger.  Jake licked his lips.  Skydiving dominated his heart like a medieval lord jealous for his lover.  Jake strangled the parachute cord in his right hand.

A roaring sea-rush of air surrounded him.  He plummeted, a vertical freight train, headed for mother Terra in an unplanned and certainly unorthodox flight.  A city dotted with rooftops and church steeples approached at an alarming pace.  Wouldn’t it be a hoot to be impaled by one of those suckers? he thought as he admired the heaven-pointed church-fingers.

Lights popped on like kernels of corn at critical mass as dusk handed off its remaining diffuse light to the night.  Faint smells wafted up from a thousand houses – apple pies, wood fires and lover’s scents mingled as one.  He flattened out, the resistance of air acting as invisible hands on his shoulders, abdomen, legs and feet, lifting him from the earth.  He glided and soared, his nose dividing air to his cheeks so that it flowed past his ears and roared its approval.  The knowledge that eagles feared him wrenched a maniacal laugh from his soul.

He ripped at the cord and the chute yanked him heavenward.  The world slowed down to a single moment in time – his descent, the movement of the early evening moon and his mind.  Nothing to do now but float back into oblivion and obscurity.  Unless he could maneuver over the lake and drown . . .

Everyone called Jake a junkie, but he had a secret that none of them could imagine – he could fly.

 
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Posted by on November 25, 2011 in The Rogues Gallery Writers

 

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Filming of the Rogues Mockumentary

This coming Tuesday the Rogues Gallery Writers will convene for rehearsal for their upcoming mockumentary “Behind the Prose”. Filming will begin Sunday, May 22, 2011. The mockumentary will feature the Rogues and their upcoming book project The Method Writers.

Once filming is complete, the video will be placed on Kickstarter.com. Kickstarter is a funding site for creative projects. Benevolent folk drop by and pledge money toward the various creative projects listed on the site. Once funding is accomplished, the money gets dispersed and voi la! Funding! Yippee!!

Part of the book project will be a set of trading cards depicting characters in the book. One side of the card will be the character’s pic while the other side will have some character info. Another aspect of the project will be a deck of playing cards featuring the character pics. Also on the docket are calendars, mugs t-shirts and hats.

Once the film is on Kickstarter, the Rogues would greatly appreciate your pledge. We will have 30 days in which to meet our pledge goals or go back to the drawing board. Please consider helping us complete this project with proper funding. Stay tuned. We should be going live with the fundraiser in June!

 

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Getting it Done in a Focus Group

The Rogues Gallery Writers continue to develop our book, The Method Writers. While we work each week on putting this book together, we also work our respective jobs, deal with our respective families and relationships as well as participating in other writer’s groups, most notably the Florida Writers Association. We stay busy.

We scramble for time to get things done. Our time frames and time tables get skewed often. We know what it’s like to struggle to get something written each day, yet we persevere. This is why I recommend every writer should be a member of a small, tight-knit focus writing group.

Without the support, encouragement and prodding of people you respect, writing becomes a tough mountain to climb. I participate in a critique group as well as a large writer’s group (FWA), and both serve me well. Yet, without the Rogues, I don’t believe I would be nearly as prolific. In fact, without the Rogues, most likely I would be mired in the throes of stalled novels and have only one book published.

At this writing, I have three books out with two more on the slate for 2011. I have momentum and encouragement. I am pooled with four writers who, frankly, own stronger writing pedigrees than me. The true benefit of this small group of writers can be very intangible. I feel this benefit is measurable as well.

Production is what every writer struggles with in his or her quest to navigate the writing life. Whether that production comes under deadlines or days staring at blanks screens or pages, the struggle tends to be universal in the writing community. A focus group must not only include simply writers, but personalities that mesh.

Personality clashes can destroy momentum, chemistry and ultimately production. Finding that special group of like-minded writers that click can be an evolutionary process. Do not get discouraged. Sometimes growing pains hurt, but in the end, the group prospers.

My recommendation is four or five authors. Four has worked well for the Rogues, but my sense is five is optimum for us. Thus far, we have not been able to get five Rogues going at one time. Technically we are five at this time, but one of our best, Rebekah Hunter Scott, has taken a ‘maternity leave’.

She is idle by no means. Rebekah currently promotes her first book Motherhood is Easy: as long as you have nothing else to do for the next 50 years (2010 Royal Palm Literary Award winning book in the Humor category) and is writing a follow up book – Pregnancy is Easy: as long as you are not the one pregnant. Rebakah’s wit has landed her in major national slick magazines like American Baby and Parents.

Obviously, with two children currently in the home, she has her hands full. The Rogues miss her dearly. We are also unstoppable. We have a head of steam going on our current group project, and each of us have individual projects moving along nicely as well.

Consider putting together a number of writers in a focus group. Choose carefully, selecting those people who blend well with each other. The writers do not need to write the same genre. In fact, the Rogues are as diverse a group of writers as you can get. I lean toward poetry and sci-fi. Jeff is more literary fiction, bloody fiction and ghost writing. Nancy is a murder mystery writer. Rebekah writes strong humor as well as some serious fiction. Bridget writes strong psychological fiction as well as tough dark humor fiction.

We each are not confined to the tendencies listed above either. My feeling is that each Rogue is willing to step out into many genres if the occasion calls for the effort. Our diversity helps us get multifaceted feedback too. That said, I could see a focus group being successful if everyone wrote the same genre. In some ways, that group’s dynamics would have to be even more personality compatible given that all the writers would be writing similar material.

Now the commercial. You had to know it was coming. Writing is a very tough business. Most writers cannot afford to quit their day job. The Rogues Gallery Writers are no different. We do have a couple books out. We need people to support us. One cool way is to purchase our books. We’ve even made that simple.

We produced the book More Writing is Easy in PDF format (available through ClearView Press) for a paltry $1.99. That’s not painful, is it? This book is like a ‘teaser’ of what we can do. It is also available on Kindle for $2.99. For that price, you can take a chance on us, right? Then, when you love the writing, we have a full-length collections of short stories titled Writing is Easy. This book is also available through CVP as well as Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Books A Million and Kindle.

C’mon! Give the Rogues a chance. I’m telling you, we work hard and we write extremely well.

 

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Crazed Writers Meet Again!

Yes, the Rogues continue to blur the line between fiction and reality. We are currently embroiled in a novel that requires the four of us to write four characters of a writer’s group called the Rogues Gallery Writers. Our characters have characters they happen to be writing about. In order to get to know the challenges their (the unreal Rogues) characters face, the Rogues (unreal ones again) pull a page from the ‘method acting’ notebook and become ‘method writers’.

If that is not confusing enough, we Rogues (the real ones now) have tuned into our characters (the unreal Rogues) and their names. Things have become so confusing that we attempt to send emails to our fellow Rogues with the ‘unreal’ Rogues’ names rather than our actual names. Then it takes us a few minutes to figure out why the email address doesn’t automatically pop up.

Yes, writerdom can be a strange place. What will really get strange is if we set up actual email addresses for our ‘unreal’ Rogue characters and possibly even THEIR characters. The ‘real’ Rogues meet tonight, as we do every Tuesday evening. As our plot thickens, we steam ever closer to that magic moment of a completed first draft. My best estimate is that we will possess a true first draft manuscript by late May early June.

For those of you who follow our work, this should be great news. For those of you not yet following our trek to artistic infamy, you can check out a number of our works. As a group, the Rogues have produced the books Writing is Easy and More Writing is Easy. Both books are collections of short stories penned by the Rogues. I highly recommend More Writing is Easy as an introduction to Roguery. The Kindle price tag of $2.99 is highly attractive. You may even purchase a PDF copy of the book through the ClearView Press Bookstore for $1.99.

Until we meet again…

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2011 in The Method Writers

 

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