Tag Archives: Writing

No Wonder I Fell In Love

Ansel Adam’s Photo

Art is both love and friendship and understanding: the desire to give. It is not charity, which is the giving of things. It is more than kindness, which is the giving of self. It is both the taking and giving of beauty, the turning out to the light of the inner folds of the awareness of the spirit. It is a recreation on another plane of the realities of the world; the tragic and wonderful realities of earth and men, and of all the interrelations of these.

– Ansel Adams, in a letter to Cedric Wright

Ansel Adams was photographer and environmentalist. I went to see an exhibition of his work a little over a year ago and was really impressed with it. The extend of his trips and the ordeals and sacrifices he went through just to capture with his lens the beauty of God’s creation inspired me to look more in detail and try to capture its beauty in my own photography. His deep love for what he photographed obviously made him aware of the great need to protect it.

I love the arts and tried my hand at a few of them (painting, photography and writing) but the one I fell in love with the most were the words. Words to me are the vehicle to express my thoughts, views and feelings towards life and to those great questions every one has. I never knew to what extend the words I wrote would touch so many hearts and everytime someone tells me how much it means to them, I just can’t help it but I’m almost moved to tears. To me it is a gift from God to be able to read and then write the way I do. I don’t pretend to know it all but in my ignorance I’m always looking to learn more about so many things. One of them is how to better live my life and how to share it with others. We writers work alone but we are never quite lonely. My mind is usually between my world, and my situations and what I have learned or heard from you; it is at that moment of my writing that all those experiences merge and create the words you read here or on my books, and I believe that is why we have a connection.

Another reason why I fell in love with words is because when I can’t say what I feel, it is in my writing that all of that gets its way out of my system. To me writing is like breathing, something I can’t be without. I wish to continue sharing my words with you in the many different ways my spirit moves me and may you blessed, enlighten, and inspired to do the same with whatever gift God has given to you. May it bring you the joy that words and writing brings to me, and may you be able to touch many lives with it.

Clary Lopez, author of Simplicity, Richness of Life
Clary’s Blog

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Not fade away…

As a writer, I often wonder if my work will ever take on the significance of books like those among our classic novels such as The Grapes of Wrath, Romeo & Juliet, or even Of Mice and Men.  In my last post here at the Book’s Den, I discussed how depressing many of the classic novels tended to be an what my recommendations would be for required reading.  Since then, I’ve wondered if my little mystery series will even be on a shelf within a few decades.  I work at a library and in watching how we weed out our inventory, I began to feel a little insignificant.

I go through the shelves of our “Popular Authors” collection and pull all books that are over two years old.  From there, they go into our general fiction section or into the genre section that best fits the book.  After a while, someone else goes through and weeds the general sections and that person determines what will stay on our shelves and what will go into storage.  Depending on how often a book is circulated, the book may find itself in the general collection for many years.  Books like mine, however, may find themselves in the dungeon before they’ve really had a chance to prove themselves.  It may take years for my series to catch on simply because it is not as widely marketed as books published by mainstream publishers.  So, what do I do?

Well, the short answer to that is that I keep the books on “life support.”  I create reasons for people to check the book out of the library such as contests which require finding certain passages in the book to win prizes.  I’ve considered contests which involved having the library patron send me their checkout receipt to show that they have checked out the book.  I think these are clever, non-traditional ways to get people to discover your work.  What other creative ways can an author “keep the fire burning?”  If you have suggestions or would like to share some of the more interesting ways you’ve promoted your writing, I’d love to hear your stories. 

Until next time…

Rebecca Benston

Author of the Rona Shively Stories Mystery Series


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So You Want to Be a Writer

It seems everyone want to be a writer these days. The unfortunate part of that desire is too many want to be a writer without taking the time to find out what needs to be done to be a writer. With all the self-publishing avenues available today, far too many authors are putting out books that aren’t ready.

Who made me the expert? Besides being the published author of over 20 books, for many years I’ve been judging books in several contests. Too often I see books with good plot ideas, but it’s obvious the author didn’t have an editor to catch all the mistakes. A book riddled with errors won’t ever win a prize.

Far too often, it’s obvious the writer isn’t a reader. How could I know that? If you’re a reader, you know how dialogue is supposed to be written, where the quote marks should be, how to use action and character description for dialogue tags, making sure the dialogue is coming from people who are in a place, doing something and not merely “talking heads.” Dialogue has a purpose to move the plot along and reveal character.

When there are no indents for paragraphs, far too many explanation points instead of just using exclamatory dialogue and narrative, punctuation used incorrectly, or not at all, then I am reasonably sure the author is not a reader. Reading is essential to being a good writer. He or she should be reading the kind of books he or she wants to write.

If the author has no idea how point-of-view should be handled and jumps in and out of the heads of characters without any transition, it’s a pretty good guess he or she hasn’t read any books on writing, attended a writers’ conference, or belonged to a critique group. Too many people think that they can just start writing without learning how to do it correctly. No one would expect to walk into a hospital and start operating on someone without learning how to be a surgeon first.

It’s no different with writing. Don’t expect to be a writer until you’ve done some studying about the craft. Then write, write, write. But before you send anything off to an agent or publisher, or publish it yourself, make sure someone who knows the rules of writing edits the manuscript.

Marilyn Meredith


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Because I’m doing a Virtual Book Tour in February for my latest books, Smell of Death, I’ve been writing articles and responding to various interviews for the many blogs I’ll be visiting. Though enjoyable, it takes a lot of time. Time that I don’t have for working on my book in progress.

The bad thing about having the writing of a novel interrupted is you lose track of important items in the progress of your story. I had to go back through what I’d already written to figure out what days things happened because I had something going on during a Saturday that needed to be a weekday. Took some juggling, but I got it straightened out.
I always have a book I’m reading. I read when I’m eating, take a book when I have to go to the doctor’s, read during commercials of TV shows and sometimes on through the show, and I read in bed.

As I said in the first sentence, promotion takes a lot of time. When you go off to conferences and conventions and library talks, there is no time to write. The great thing about all three though, it is a time for living. That’s when I get to see writing friends and fans I haven’t seen for a long, long while. It is also a time for rejuvenation–primes the writing well, so to speak.
Because I’m active in my church, I do many things with my church family. Coming this weekend we’re having a soup, salad and dessert potluck. I’m bringing my gringo menudo. I’m substituting chicken for tripe. My grandson’s wife made it for us when we were visiting. She swears by its healing powers. I know it’s delicious. I hope our church family is brave enough to try it.

Speaking of families–a lot of my living is done with them. My son’s family lives in the little house next door. He spends six months of the year as a truck driver delivering plants to all the major stores. His wife and daughter usually eat dinner with us and I can catch up on my granddaughter’s life as a senior in highschool and her soccer games. I also have a daughter and son-in-law and another granddaughter only five minutes away. A married granddaughter, husband and three kids live nearby also.

For anyone who might think of a writer’s life as somehow being exciting and romantic, though I certainly enjoy my life, it’s fairly normal.


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Learning to feed…

No, I haven’t reverted back to my childhood days.  And no, I haven’t joined some sort of cannibalistic cult.  I’m simply learning how to get my blog out to more readers by using services like Feedburner.  This is new territory for me and so far, it’s been enlightening. 

Knowing very little about the world of RSS or Really Simple Syndication, I had been trying to promote my blog solely by word of mouth, MySpace bulletins and various e-mail campaigns.  I stumbled upon (no pun intended) a marketing book which encouraged me to add my blog to Feedburnerso that people could subscribe to it and receive updates as often as they would like.  From what I can tell, which isn’t nearly as much as I’d like it to be, my affiliation with Feedburner has definitely directed more traffic to my blog

This is good because one of the big goals on my list for 2008 was to increase traffic to my blog, thereby increasing the amount of interest in my books.  In addition to offering e-mail subscription on the blog itself, I enlisted the aid of the Headline Animation tool that is offered there and created a nifty e-mail signature that I use whenever possible.  This feature alone has more than tripled the hits to my site over the past week. 

RSS feeds have evidently been around for quite a while, but this is the first time I’ve ever really worked with them.  From my handy, dandy Web Marketing for Dummiesmanual, I see that RSS involves four steps:

1.  Formatting the content into a file called a feed.

2.  Readers add your URL to their RSS reader list. 

3.  When you add new content, your feed is updated.

4.  The user’s feed software updates on whatever schedule that the reader has defined and they are notifed by e-mail or on the reader itself.

Sounds simple enough.  And it is.  The benefits to using an RSS feed to distribute your information are enormous.  For one, you don’t have to search your mailing list for places to send updates.  If a reader has subscribed to your feed, they get all of the new stuff whenever they want it. 

The service is free to readers and you can update it as often as you like.  It’s also one of the timeliest ways to send updates about your projects.  And what I really like about it is that I’m not spending as much time creating eye-catching e-mails that never make it through all of the spam filters out there. 

I still have so much to learn about syndication and how to better serve those who subscribe to Benston Blogs, but I feel as though I’ve made significant progress by simply adding myself to Feedburner.  The challenge will be creating enough substantial posts to keep readers interested.   

Until next time…

Rebecca Benston 

Benston Blogs

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Finding your “Neverland”

Rona Shively

I am sitting here listening to my little girl play with her dolls.  She is having a very important conversation with them and she is really into what she’s doing.  I can remember playing like this a very long time ago.  It’s amazing to me that in four short years, she has developed a sense of imagination that allows her to transform our coffee table into an ocean where her dolls are adrift on a piece of paper…er…a big ship…sorry. 

At what point do we lose this flair for creation?  For some of us, it never really dies.  We, the writers, weave stories from the threads of our experiences.  Although I’ve never been to Nevada, the main character in my mystery series lives there.  Although I’ve never actually fired a gun, my PI has and does it without hesitation.  I’ve never been locked in a basement with an ex-boyfriend, thank goodness, but Rona has and she really struggled with the whole ordeal. 

As a child, I created my world using the things that were within my grasp.  As an adult, I allow myself to reach outside of what I can physically see, feel and accomplish.  I can’t believe I ever spent so much time trying to stay so grounded in reality.  Working at a job I hated, dealing with problems created for me by the corporate machine which has no imagination, by the way.  Only when I returned to my “Neverland” did I find the kind of happiness that you just can’t achieve when you leave yourself behind to grow up. 

Writing for me has been a goal, an accomplishment, an escape, a therapy, a friend, a foe, and a necessity.  If I’d never made oceans from coffee tables, I might well have missed out on one of the best gigs in the world.  To be a writer is to be someone who can truly experience life, whether it be through our own actions or through the words we put on paper.  So, this holiday season, as you write the last few pages of this year’s novel, think about all of the lives you have created in the pages of your work.  Think about the places you’ve seen and the great things you’ve experienced…all from the other side of your keyboard.  Write…and be happy.

Rebecca Benston

Author of The Rona Shively Stories


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The Evolution of Rona Shively

The thing I enjoy about some of my favorite authors is that they share the emotional ups and downs of the character with readers.  I think it is important for the writer to be able to feel the emotions of the character as they write.  If you are scared, angry, happy or sad as you write a chapter, you’ve probably done something right. 

As I am in the process of writing the third book in the Rona Shively series, I wanted to talk a little bit about how this character has changed over the course of the first two books.  I like the fact that she is evolving and growing with each chapter.  I hope that the readers have been able to sympathize with her as she deals with the ups and downs of relationships, financial difficulties, and just plain living. 

I plan to put her through her paces in book three by having her face up to things that even I, the author, am not sure I can handle.  As I write about some of these things, I feel them in the pit of my stomach and I hope that I will be able to draw upon personal experience to find the right words to capture the emotional intensity of the moment.

When I read a book, I expect to get caught up in the main character’s turmoil.  I want to feel as though I am walking right alongside them, figuring it all out.  Who are the writers that invite you into their stories?  I’m interested in hearing from readers on this one.  What significant passages have made you never want to put that book down?  I know that for me, I hated to finish reading any of Lisa Scottoline’s books.  Scottoline has a way of making you understand where her characters are coming from.  She digs in and gives you the details so clearly that you can even smell the food cooking in her stories. 

When it comes down to it, that’s what we really want.  We need to be there, holding onto our favorite character, making sure that they go in the direction we want them to go.  Or, if they don’t we at least know why they chose the wrong way.  As I get closer to the end of Rona 3, I am so glad that there has been laughing, crying, nail-biting, etc.  Hopefully, it means I’m doing something right. 

 Until next time… 

Rebecca Benston


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