No Bad Apples

no-bad-applesToday’s post falls into the category of Research Road, however, the information I discovered didn’t make it into my novel, The Secrets of Dr. John Welles, or more correctly, it was removed. The reason for this underscores my admonition to always check your facts. Whether you’re writing historical fiction or fantasy with factual details familiar to the known world, it’s important to present the particulars accurately.

In an effort to entice potential readers once my novel is published, I have familiarized them with characters and situations through the food I featured in the story. Recipes for these meals can be found in Edible Fiction. Last week, I wrote a post for an apple pie eaten in a scene relaying Dr. Welles’s first trip into the town where he decided to spend his later years. For this particular pie, I chose to use Paula Red apples. They are among my favorite pie apples because they have an old fashioned flavor and become sauce-like when baked. I thought a little history on the heirloom apple would make for an interesting blog post, and that’s when I learned my mistake.

According to several websites devoted to antique apples, Paula Reds were discovered as a seedling in Sparta, Michigan in 1960 by Lewis Arrends. The apple, named for Arrends’s wife Pauline, was a happy accident that appears to have descended from the humble McIntosh. Why is this important you ask? Because the scene in which a Paula Red apple pie is eaten by Dr. Welles took place in 1958, two years before their discovery and ten years before they hit the market. Perhaps my favorite apple wasn’t as vintage as I first believed.

There are those, my mother among them, who will argue that this is a minor detail, one that wouldn’t be discovered by the casual reader. But as I’ve stated before, I’m not a casual reader or writer, and these details are important. How can I expect my readers to have faith in what I say if I don’t conduct thorough research? (Who is in Your Details?)

I know readers are expected to suspend some belief at times and trust their favorite writers, yet I can’t allow that one person who could nail me on the facts to be disappointed any more than I could tell blatant lies. Obsessed with the facts? I think so! In closing, I hope that another writer will benefit from the information presented about Paula Red apples. At the very least, I hope I’ve prompted writers to check their facts.

By the way, if you want a great recipe for an apple pie, check out the post All-American Goodbye.

Advice on Character Description

Nine times out of ten, when I find a piece of good writing advice on the Internet, the link directs me to K.M. Weiland’s website, Helping Writers Become Authors. And just as many times, I’m in agreement with what she has to say.

Like a carpenter stocking his toolbox with quality tools, my goal is to fill up my Writing Toolbox with valuable advice, tips, suggestions, etc. In turn, I want to share what I found with people who are seeking assistance with their own writing.

Most of the posts I put in my Writing Toolbox have been created by the owners of the sites to which I link. I will always indicate the website/blog name and owner (if known). When I create the post on my own, I’ll let you know.

So, with that being said, it is my very great privilege to share K.M. Weiland’s advice on ‘4 Ways to Make Readers Instantly Loathe Your Character Descriptions.’

The Boxes in Which We Put Ourselves

The Writer Has the Last Word

The Writer Has the Last Word

It is my very great pleasure to share an article by Mela Saylor of The Greater Canton Writers’ Guild, Inc.  The following article was featured in the September newsletter.  Information regarding the Guild can be found at:  http://cantonwritersguild.org/

Mrs. Saylor’s personal blog can be found at:  http://paintandpens.blogspot.com/

The Boxes in Which We Put Ourselves ~ Mela Saylor

First time writers are always told “write what you know” and they dive into their pool of knowledge head first, taking their first tentative strokes with their pens. But after a few years and many laps of swimming in that subject matter, writers may feel the need to expand. To be brave, writers must get out of the pool and take a dive into the ocean.

Explore new topics, learn new things. 

The world of writing is vast, and I find that exciting – and there’s no need to stay on the same topic all the time. To be honest, your readers might be bored hearing the same topic all the time. Understandably, writers may discover they have a tendency to stay within certain comfort zones. But it is always good to step out of what we so often find ourselves writing. Learn something new and play with ideas – push them around, see how far they’ll stretch. We do need to keep in mind that there is a difference between having a recurrent theme and redundancy.

Writers may wish to ask themselves what they have learned as a writer this past year – your writing needs to grow right along with you. If your writing doesn’t grow, if it stays the same, it becomes stale. Make a promise to yourself to take a chance or two with your writing style and subject matter, explore and reach out into new horizons. Starting something new – topic, idea or story line – is exciting and keeping to what you’ve done before is limiting. Take a chance. Who knows where you’ll go.

Literacy and Democracy

Reading and writing, like everything else, improve with practice. And, of course, if there are no young readers and writers, there will shortly be no older ones. Literacy will be dead, and democracy—which many believe goes hand in hand with it—will be dead as well. ~Margaret Atwood

Since I began working at the library, I have seen a decline in the quality of books for children and teenagers.  I have even witnessed a decline in the value of those being read by adults, and it shocks me.  There is very little worth in the written word lately.

My concern is that authors aren’t putting out their best work for the sake of their readers.  I find it hard to believe that some writers are actually proud of what they are producing.  Rather, it seems as if turning a quick buck is the goal.  Again, this is cause for concern.

As a writer, I lay this burden at my own feet first.  My goal is to write a book that will engage my potential audience.  I dream about my novel becoming a classic, but, at the very least, I want to give readers something to chew on mentally.  Even if I create a book that’s just a good story, I work to make sure it’s well written.

What we feed our minds is as important as what we feed our bodies.  I’ll admit that I love a good dessert as much as the next person.  However, even desserts come in varying degrees of quality.  Then again, so does much of what we eat to sustain ourselves.  What I mean is, a diet of garbage from fast food restaurants isn’t going to provide what our bodies need.  I could probably live a better life eating my mother’s homemade desserts all the time, not that I would.

The same is true with what we choose to read.  I can’t fill my mind with endless garbage and expect to increase my knowledge and/or awareness of the world around me.  Too much cotton candy for the brain will render me useless.  I’ll die without anything of value to read.  This is the point where someone will want to debate who assigns value to what is being written and read.

But just for a moment, let’s be logical.  A steady stream of unintelligent reading is harmful.  Like cotton candy, it’s fun for the moment, but it won’t sustain you.  Train your brain to crave the weightier reads the way you teach your body to desire healthy food.  I promise you, there are no negative side effects to nourishing your mind.

As for the link to democracy, even if someone lies to you about a situation, you will know better because you took the time to read and find out.  You will not be led around by the nose.  You’ll be mentally strong enough to meet their attempted deception head on.  You will understand what is being said to you.  What’s more, you’ll be prepared to fight back.

So I implore you:  seek out quality reading.  Treasure it and share it with the upcoming generations.  Write the very best you have to offer.  By providing worthy literature, poetry, screenplays, etc., you will leave a foundation for the youth.  In return, they will know how to take care of you in your golden years as well as prepare for the generation coming up under them.

%d bloggers like this: