Encouragement From The Crates

Things I Ponder:

(c)JPHarris, 2014

One of the most upsetting things to encounter for those gifted to be scribes/writers is to be silent. It is dangerous for a writer to be silent. It is dangerous for our pens to be still, screens blank, skills dulled to the point of collapse. Our eyes seeing with no faith to believe for change, no words to create to draw attention. Words which have power to stir thoughts to instill or stimulate change. It is the artistry of imagination where possibility is created, exposed and changed. Writers are misfits. We see the unseen, name the unknown and touch what is hidden. Yet, these things must be seen and said. The atrophy of time must be rebelled against. We must race against the light given to us, race against it. We cannot curl up with the words, the word inside us. The unsaid, the unwritten must still be said…even in dreams.

[image from Kai Ellis, all rights reserved.]

Why I Love Writing

The most dangerous word in the English language.

Twenty-six letters.

That is all that makes up the English language. Just less than thirty letter. Some of Arabic, Greek and Roman influence. And for the desire of their further manipulation, their richness and any words that may sprout from that–we have the love of words.

Ah, words.

Words, works, languages. The whole lot.

I can’t speak for every writer, but for this one? It is the draw of these letters, this dark trick of words, that has enthralled me since I was 8 years old.

I love writing because it has allowed me an outlet, a space and platform to do and conduct as I see fit. It has given voice and power to things that have troubled me, haunted me and have scratched the surface of desires.

Writing has given me a superpower. Unique and fascinating to create anything out of air, time and thought. The incredible thing? That I am able to pull out of these things out of the air by sheer will and imagination. When you have people read and enjoy your work? Even better.

A Writer’s High? Mm. Nothing like it.

I love writing because it is as incredible as it is everyone can do it..but not well. I love writing because I have found a home, a place, in these 26 other permanent things in the world. I love that when a work in progress is coming together, I don’t want to stop! I love that I can race my imagination! I love that when I create these pretend people, they become alive and part of my creative family.

My love for writing is equivalent to the breadth and depth of the ocean. It is far reaching, deep with dark and mysterious depths when explored. The greatest thrill is the exploration. I love writing because I’m good at it.

I am damn good at it. That is why I love it.

Beta Readers: Pros & Cons (Part II-PROS)

There is something so amazing about sharing your work with people excited to read it!

It is a testament to the WIP (Work In Progress) that those whom you have asked to read you work are just as passionate about what you are creating as you are! The people whom are willing to look over typos, incomplete sentences or even lopsided plots (and their holes) and see the potential (and potential greatness) in what you’re creating!

Beta Readers are the frosting on the WIP cake! They make it better, sweeter and help to bring everything together. When your Beta Readers are engaged; when they communicate with you; when they get swept up in a world you’ve created? This is the very best thing.

Beta Readers offer you first hand reaction to your story! The scary part of any WIP is the actual draft, but to have someone willing and engaged enough to read it? Including the revisions? This is a high compliment and encouragement.

Think of Beta Readers as sous chefs. They help to get and pull everything together. Their help and input help to shape the document, making it perfect for the rest of the world.

Do not shun the extra eyes, dear ones. Don’t negate the power of those whom are willing to review your work and invest in it! Beta readers are needed! Seek them out and use them!

The work awaits!

Beta Readers: Pros & Cons (Part I-CONS)

As great, and as much as I sing the praises of Beta Readers, they do have a downside.

Beta Readers are the best weapon you can have for a new work especially when they read and get back to you. Beta Readers are the best when they read your work and get back to you. The crucial thing to remember is that communication is essential to any draft or revision.

If you give your baby that your carried for almost a year, and turn them over to someone your trust, only to have them tell you they have nothing else to tell you? Even after they have been with your child all day? You would be a little suspicious and a lot aggravated. You would think the horrible and the impossible all at once! The main thing you may think is:

“Did they even pay attention?”

The same with Beta Readers. The best Beta Readers are engaged, they are excited to read your work, give feedback and even criticism! As the writer, as the creator of any work, your primary job is to protect your work. Your job is to revise and finish your own work.

Think of a WIP (Work In Progress) as baking a cake. All the ingredients go into the batter:  milk, sugar, butter and flour. There are elemental things that go into it which are not to be disputed. A WIP requires imagination, time, a draft and a reader. These things are immutable.

One of the best metaphors I heard in regards to having an editor or another reader was:  “Would you do you own eye surgery?”

If you’re a rational, wise person, you wouldn’t. This means that you can’t always see what is the best thing to do! But this element of the draft process can only work if the readers do their jobs!

Beta Readers have to be engaged. They have to value your time, your intention and you work. If they cannot do that, if they will not do that, don’t trust them with your work.

You wouldn’t trust your baby with just anyone. A WIP is the same way! Don’t trust your baby to someone that can’t won’t talk to you. Those are the ones whom are most likely to take your work. Be ware. You’ve been warned.

Spring 2019-Writing Workshop

The second writer’s workshop is in the next 2 weeks!

The purpose of these workshops is to assist budding and aspiring writers with with manuscripts, ideas or works in progress! For 2 hours, there will be advice dispensed, questions answered as well as resources given!

I am excited for what this second workshop will bring and the work to be created from it!

Pushing writers is what I do, and this platform is one more way to do that!

Best,

JBHarris

Protecting The Work: Integrity In Chosing Beta Readers

The most important thing for Beta Readers is not the reading.

No, it’s not a joke.

Yes, I’m serious.

The most important thing for a Beta Reader is not to steal your work. Even if it’s a rough draft.

In choosing your Beta Readers, the best advice is to keep your number small and composed of people you trust. It also doesn’t hurt to have your Beta Readers sign a contract that dictates not to share/plagiarize the work you show them.

Intellectual property is still property! It needs to be protected to the fullest extent of the law.

Take pride in your work! Protect it.

There is nothing worse than having your work stolen by the very people you believed you would trust with it.

[image from ad-Martin.com]

What Is A Beta Reader?

According to Wikipedia:

A beta reader is usually an unpaid test reader of an unreleased work of literature or other writing, who gives feedback from the point of view of an average reader to the author.

Note: A beta reader is not a professional and can therefore provide advice and comments in the opinions of an average reader.

Let me make this clear, to publish or become published, you don’t need to have a beta reader.

Let me also make this clear: beta readers are a tool and Shekinah Glory Writing Services is a fan of beta readers!

Beta readers are a great, living addition to your writing tool kit. They can give honest opinions and observations about what you’ve written. They can be just as passionate about your characters as you are. They can ask questions of you to pull out more story–sometimes parts you didn’t think about!

Beta readers are the unsung heroes of revising and drafting! Don’t believe me? Ask Stephen King. It was his wife, Tabitha, that rescued a novel from the trash because she liked what she read! That novel was Carrie.

Keep writing dear ones!

Writing Corner: B.M. Hardin, Amazon Best-Selling Author

If you haven’t heard of the quixotic, eloquent and driven BM Hardin, you are missing a great gift! On the eve of the release of her 37th book, Secrets Of The South, she gave me a few minutes to pick her brain and talk shop.

Shekinah Glory Writing Services:

How did you start writing?

BM Hardin:

I’ve always loved to write. I tried writing my first book at 14. I didn’t know enough. I wasn’t ready. But I continued to win writing and essay contests and went on to major in Communications. In 2012, with the support of friends, I decided to try writing a novel again: it was a success!

SGWS:

Are you published anywhere?

BMH:

Am I published anywhere? Amazon. Some books are in Booksamillion and in tons of libraries. 

SGWS:

Do you have any current projects?

BMH:

Yes. I am preparing for a release but haven’t revealed the title yet.

[Editor Note: As of this posting, her latest book has been announced through social media and has been released on Amazon–Secrets Of The South.]

SGWS:

Do you have a writing schedule? Have you been able to stick to it?

BMH:

No writing schedule. I write when I’m in the mood. When I’m inspired. When I’m happy. [When I’m] sad.

SGWS:

What do you wish people realized about writing?

BMH:

I wish that they realize that it’s okay to find your own lane. It’s okay to mix genres and hit stick to just one. Write what feels good!

SGWS:

What have been your greatest joys in writing? Challenges?

BMH:

Greatest joy has been the amount of support and dedicated readers I’ve picked up over the years.

Greatest challenge is not having enough hours in a day to type out all my crazy ideas.

SGWS:

If you could offer one thing to potential writers, what would it be?

BMH:

I would offer them advice on the importance of being unique!

Don’t follow trends or do what everyone else is doing.

Do your own thing!

You’re title is important! Your cover is important! Definitely invest in them.

Thank you, Ms. Hardin for your wisdom and joy. This is a reminder to keep writing, let us as the writer define the work!

-compiled by Jennifer Harris, Lead Administrator-Shekinah Glory Writing Services

BM Hardin is a freelance writer and entrepreneur. If you want to know more about her, along with a list of writing services she offers, click here.

[image from shereads.com]

From The Editor’s Desk: Why You Need A Beta Reader

There is nothing wrong with having honest feedback.

There is nothing wrong with having someone else look at your work with the sole purpose of feedback.

Beta Readers are the secret weapon in any writers’ tool kit. This army of your own enlisting help you to weed out what works, what’s boring and what you need more of. The best analogy I can give comes from a process my grandmother did while baking.

When she would bake cakes or pies, she would make what she called a test cake. When she would do this, she would like a few taste the cake. The purpose of the process was to figure out if the cake needed anything added or taken away: more sugar, less vanilla, don’t cook it so long.

It was the feedback coupled with her expertise made what she created all the greater!

The same is said for beta readers! These people are the secret ingredient to what you need to make your work–before the prices of editing!–as reader desirable as it can be.

A good rule of thumb is after a draft is complete is have a small group of readers (friends, family, classmates) to look over your work purely for feedback! You can do the mechanics and other clean up later.

As Nora Roberts said, “You can’t edit a blank page.”

[images from guardian.ng and findbetareaders.com]

For My Grandmother, Arceal Williams

Today, this morning marks 5 years since my grandmother has passed. Here is what I would want:

I want to go over her house today at 4221 Prairie Avenue, with the swinging gate that creaks. I want dogs to be barking as soon as the gate shuts with a metal clanging protest. I want to walk up the brick walkway—looking at the lush magnolia tree. I want to talk up the gray stairs to her front porch. I want to knock on her front door with the ‘family knock.’

I want her to open the door without her walker, glasses and eyes bright. Her gray hair pulled back. I want the smells of Lysol baptized floors to greet me. “What made you come by!” I want to kiss her cheek, clean and smelling of Nadiola cream. I want to smile at her, betraying nothing. “I just wanted to see you.”

I want to sit in her front room, on that same cream colored couch, inviting and warm. “Did you eat?” I smile, stomach rumbling. “No ma’am.” I want her to laugh loud, her drawl evident and soothing. “Come getchu something den!”

I want a plate she’s make me; making me full with her presence, strong with her whit, ready with her strength. “What’s been goin on baby?” I want to kiss her face again with the plate of leftovers in front of me on her dark oak table. She would sit across from me, snapping beans or wiping counters. Bleach and lemons steadying me.

I want to tell her I’m writing. I want her to know I took her advice. I want her to know the girls want to know how to sew in the Spring. “That’s good, Jennifer.” She never did call me Jenn. “Grandma, I finished my first novel!” I want to drink her sweet tea, watching her reaction. “I knew you could do it! You was always so pretty and smart!” I want to study her favorite red house dress. The paisley pattern making her look more regal than I ever thought. Her hair coifed and short. Her hand would be on her hip. She would look at me, giving me future and past. The one standing as the ten-thousand Maya Angelou spoke of.

As I finished my plate, she’s come close to me and just hug me. She was never one for words. But in her love, in that embrace, her love would soothe the jagged parts. The parts that wonder how, why and keep me dreaming. “So proud of you, Jennifer. And bring me a copy of all those books to put in the China cabinet.”

I would hug her back, “Yes ma’am.” I’d squeeze her once more. I’d help clean up, and she’d tell me how I’m not doing it quite right. I’d ask if she needed anything. She’d lie and say no. Fiercely independent at almost 90. Don’t wait so long to come by!” She’d pat my hand, kissing it. “I’ll see you later, Grandma.” I’d say. She would smile at me, and I’d hug her again, going towards the front door. Leaving the solace of her warm green kitchen, the sleeping watch dogs to go face the world again.

*Note: This image was taken on the actual front porch of my grandmother’s house here in St. Louis, MO. It was also used for the cover of my book, WriteLife. If you would like to purchase a copy, click here.