Tuesday, April 30, 2013



April is drawing to a close, and as I look back on the month, I'm thankful for so many things.

~My wonderful hosts for my mini-tour of Muddy-Fingered Midnights.

~National Poetry Month, making it cool to love and write poetry. 

~My critique group, who helped me get unstuck with the WIP.

~My friends who let me badger them with medical questions. (Why in-person research rocks).

~The Irish dance hard shoes given to my daughter for free. Riverdance, here we come!

~My new editing client. Excited to edit poetry! Woot!

~The cool series idea Stina gave me: "Stolen from Poets," in which I explain how to use poetic techniques in fiction. Stay tuned for more!

~The A-Z challenge making my blog slacking acceptable. Congrats to those who persevered with it!

What are you thankful for today?
Tuesday, April 30, 2013 Laurel Garver


April is drawing to a close, and as I look back on the month, I'm thankful for so many things.

~My wonderful hosts for my mini-tour of Muddy-Fingered Midnights.

~National Poetry Month, making it cool to love and write poetry. 

~My critique group, who helped me get unstuck with the WIP.

~My friends who let me badger them with medical questions. (Why in-person research rocks).

~The Irish dance hard shoes given to my daughter for free. Riverdance, here we come!

~My new editing client. Excited to edit poetry! Woot!

~The cool series idea Stina gave me: "Stolen from Poets," in which I explain how to use poetic techniques in fiction. Stay tuned for more!

~The A-Z challenge making my blog slacking acceptable. Congrats to those who persevered with it!

What are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

I'm the featured guest today on "Artist Unleashed" series over at Jessica Bell's blog The Alliterative Allomorph, talking about how to preserve your life experiences patchwork-style. You might be too young to write a memoir, but your life experiences are worth capturing now, before they lose their keen freshness. I suggest why and how in my post "Save Your Life: a Patchwork Approach."

If you ever get writer's block, this post is for you. If you think poetry is impossible to write, this post is for you, too.
Wednesday, April 24, 2013 Laurel Garver
I'm the featured guest today on "Artist Unleashed" series over at Jessica Bell's blog The Alliterative Allomorph, talking about how to preserve your life experiences patchwork-style. You might be too young to write a memoir, but your life experiences are worth capturing now, before they lose their keen freshness. I suggest why and how in my post "Save Your Life: a Patchwork Approach."

If you ever get writer's block, this post is for you. If you think poetry is impossible to write, this post is for you, too.

Monday, April 22, 2013

I've asserted in previous posts that studying poetry will make you a better writer, no matter what genre you aspire to master. Poetry uses a number of techniques that I believe are quite transferable to other kinds of writing.

Today, I'll begin a short series called "Stolen from poets" that explores some of those techniques and how to use them in your own writing. I'll try to keep these brief and focused, tackling one technique at a time.

Sound devices, part 1: Assonance


The thinking behind sound devices is often onomatopoetic; the sound and meaning are linked.Today I'd like to focus specifically on assonance--repeated vowel sounds--and how they can carry emotions.

morguefile.com

Consider these examples. Say them aloud. How do they make you feel?

1. John groped for his coat in hopes the Tylenol bottle hadn’t dropped through the hole in his pocket.

2. Lisa worried they'd think her rude if she cooed at their cute baby, so she chewed her lip while brooding on his tiny blue shoes.

3. Wading deeper into the creek, Ross felt the coldness seep through his sneakers. Shining eyes seemed to peek through the reeds. A cheeping frog sent a shriek of fear streaking up his spine, but he ground his teeth. Must stay silent. Must not be weak.


In my first example, Can you feel John's inner ache? The repeated oh, oh, aah, ahh,make the passage seem to moan and groan on the page. The repeated O sounds (both short and long) make you verbalize John's pain response.

In my second example, Lisa's entire inner monologue does coo at the cute baby, even if she refuses to do it aloud. The repeated long U sound carries it. This is an excellent, subtle way to add layers of meaning to your character's thoughts. Characters might consciously deny something while the sounds in their words convey a deeper, hidden, unconscious desire for the denied thing.

In my third example, the creepy feeling is reinforced by a series of little shrieks, like one might hear upon having a bug scurry over bare skin: Eeek! Ross is screaming inside, even if he's being tough and silent on the outside.

Your turn:
Chose an emotion you want to convey and think of the most primal sound you associate with it, such as Os for groaning with pain, Es for screaming with fright. Write a sentence, paragraph or scene in which you repeat the sounds.

Hint: a rhyming dictionary will help you identify words with the vowel sounds you need.

How might you use this technique today to improve your writing?
Monday, April 22, 2013 Laurel Garver
I've asserted in previous posts that studying poetry will make you a better writer, no matter what genre you aspire to master. Poetry uses a number of techniques that I believe are quite transferable to other kinds of writing.

Today, I'll begin a short series called "Stolen from poets" that explores some of those techniques and how to use them in your own writing. I'll try to keep these brief and focused, tackling one technique at a time.

Sound devices, part 1: Assonance


The thinking behind sound devices is often onomatopoetic; the sound and meaning are linked.Today I'd like to focus specifically on assonance--repeated vowel sounds--and how they can carry emotions.

morguefile.com

Consider these examples. Say them aloud. How do they make you feel?

1. John groped for his coat in hopes the Tylenol bottle hadn’t dropped through the hole in his pocket.

2. Lisa worried they'd think her rude if she cooed at their cute baby, so she chewed her lip while brooding on his tiny blue shoes.

3. Wading deeper into the creek, Ross felt the coldness seep through his sneakers. Shining eyes seemed to peek through the reeds. A cheeping frog sent a shriek of fear streaking up his spine, but he ground his teeth. Must stay silent. Must not be weak.


In my first example, Can you feel John's inner ache? The repeated oh, oh, aah, ahh,make the passage seem to moan and groan on the page. The repeated O sounds (both short and long) make you verbalize John's pain response.

In my second example, Lisa's entire inner monologue does coo at the cute baby, even if she refuses to do it aloud. The repeated long U sound carries it. This is an excellent, subtle way to add layers of meaning to your character's thoughts. Characters might consciously deny something while the sounds in their words convey a deeper, hidden, unconscious desire for the denied thing.

In my third example, the creepy feeling is reinforced by a series of little shrieks, like one might hear upon having a bug scurry over bare skin: Eeek! Ross is screaming inside, even if he's being tough and silent on the outside.

Your turn:
Chose an emotion you want to convey and think of the most primal sound you associate with it, such as Os for groaning with pain, Es for screaming with fright. Write a sentence, paragraph or scene in which you repeat the sounds.

Hint: a rhyming dictionary will help you identify words with the vowel sounds you need.

How might you use this technique today to improve your writing?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

If you write fiction and have ever been tempted to try your hand at poetry, or you're simply curious about the diverse kinds of poetry out there, check out my guest post for fiction-in-verse author Caroline Starr Rose, "Stories that Sing: Poems with a Plot." It's part of Caroline's excellent National Poetry Month series serving up a daily dose of poetic treats.

In the post, I share a bit about the history of narrative poetry, explain how I crafted some of my own poems, and offer advice on giving this genre a go yourself.

Tales of heroes and epic love find a voice by the fire. (morguefile.com) 

If you've done any writing at all, you have raw material for poems. Fiction drafts, journal entries, childhood stories you've jotted down, the spooky tales your uncle told around the campfire--all are excellent sources for narrative poems.

What's holding you back? How might the image of campfire stories help you take the plunge?
Thursday, April 18, 2013 Laurel Garver
If you write fiction and have ever been tempted to try your hand at poetry, or you're simply curious about the diverse kinds of poetry out there, check out my guest post for fiction-in-verse author Caroline Starr Rose, "Stories that Sing: Poems with a Plot." It's part of Caroline's excellent National Poetry Month series serving up a daily dose of poetic treats.

In the post, I share a bit about the history of narrative poetry, explain how I crafted some of my own poems, and offer advice on giving this genre a go yourself.

Tales of heroes and epic love find a voice by the fire. (morguefile.com) 

If you've done any writing at all, you have raw material for poems. Fiction drafts, journal entries, childhood stories you've jotted down, the spooky tales your uncle told around the campfire--all are excellent sources for narrative poems.

What's holding you back? How might the image of campfire stories help you take the plunge?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

What? you might think. How could fear be a friend?

As part of Jennifer R. Hubbard's guest series on facing fear, I suggest a whole new paradigm for how writers might approach and think about fear. Stop on by to learn more at my guest post "Writing through Fear."

You might be surprised to learn that it's through writing poetry that I learned this lesson. Poetry often has the reputation of being trite, dainty contemplations of flower petals and sunsets; the best poems are so much more.

How has writing shifted your perspectives?


Wednesday, April 17, 2013 Laurel Garver
What? you might think. How could fear be a friend?

As part of Jennifer R. Hubbard's guest series on facing fear, I suggest a whole new paradigm for how writers might approach and think about fear. Stop on by to learn more at my guest post "Writing through Fear."

You might be surprised to learn that it's through writing poetry that I learned this lesson. Poetry often has the reputation of being trite, dainty contemplations of flower petals and sunsets; the best poems are so much more.

How has writing shifted your perspectives?


Monday, April 15, 2013

Sometimes a project starts to gel after many months of two steps forward, five steps back. When this happens, the best thing is to head into "the writer's cave."

How did we arrive at "cave" as the best metaphor for focused work?

I guess caves work as a cozy shelter from the storm for hermit-types. But I see a place like this and expect the resurrected Jesus to tap on my shoulder.

He is not here...he is risen. (morgefile.com)

Alternately, I imagine something equally tomb-ish. Whatever you do, don't blink.

EEK. A likely inspiration for Dr. Who's "In the Time of Angels" (morguefile.com)
I'd prefer my cave to be someplace leading into the heart of adventure and strange beauty.

Paths, handrails and mood lighting. Now we're talking. (morguefile.com)
I'd rather not think about squerching through bat guano or braining myself on stalactites while trying to evade a bear or puma whose home I just invaded.

Anyhow, I may be a bit less active on social media for a while, aside from some guest appearances planned well in advance. I'll be, you know, in the strange place we call "the cave."

How do you think of your productive zone? How do you picture your "writing cave"?
Monday, April 15, 2013 Laurel Garver
Sometimes a project starts to gel after many months of two steps forward, five steps back. When this happens, the best thing is to head into "the writer's cave."

How did we arrive at "cave" as the best metaphor for focused work?

I guess caves work as a cozy shelter from the storm for hermit-types. But I see a place like this and expect the resurrected Jesus to tap on my shoulder.

He is not here...he is risen. (morgefile.com)

Alternately, I imagine something equally tomb-ish. Whatever you do, don't blink.

EEK. A likely inspiration for Dr. Who's "In the Time of Angels" (morguefile.com)
I'd prefer my cave to be someplace leading into the heart of adventure and strange beauty.

Paths, handrails and mood lighting. Now we're talking. (morguefile.com)
I'd rather not think about squerching through bat guano or braining myself on stalactites while trying to evade a bear or puma whose home I just invaded.

Anyhow, I may be a bit less active on social media for a while, aside from some guest appearances planned well in advance. I'll be, you know, in the strange place we call "the cave."

How do you think of your productive zone? How do you picture your "writing cave"?

Friday, April 12, 2013

Eminem owes a literary debt to this guy?
I'm the featured guest today over at Anne Gallagher's blog, where she interviews me about all things poetry. Stop on by HERE to discover who my favorite poets are, what it means to "think like a poet," how writing can be like having a sprained ankle, and how Eminem fits into the history of poetic expression (I guarantee you'll be surprised). I also suggest how we might make poetry as trendy as knitting and vegan diets.

Can you name the guy in this photo? He's best known for the poem "Howl," which begins with the line "I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness...".

Do you have any unusual or surprising literary influences?

Friday, April 12, 2013 Laurel Garver
Eminem owes a literary debt to this guy?
I'm the featured guest today over at Anne Gallagher's blog, where she interviews me about all things poetry. Stop on by HERE to discover who my favorite poets are, what it means to "think like a poet," how writing can be like having a sprained ankle, and how Eminem fits into the history of poetic expression (I guarantee you'll be surprised). I also suggest how we might make poetry as trendy as knitting and vegan diets.

Can you name the guy in this photo? He's best known for the poem "Howl," which begins with the line "I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness...".

Do you have any unusual or surprising literary influences?

Monday, April 08, 2013


April is National Poetry Month, and to celebrate, I'm scattering poetry love among my fellow bloggers. 

Photo by d3designs, morguefile.com
Today I'm over at Connie Keller's blog "A Merry Heart," with tips for beginner poets, "Make Words Your Playground." 

Many writers fear poetry based on misperceptions: it is old-fashioned and frivolous, or else it's much, much, much too hard to read or write.

 Honestly, most poetry is not highbrow and esoteric; it can be very FUN to write. Yes, it's more condensed than prose, but who needs a PhD to trim things? And no matter what genre you most often write in, you want your work to stir your reader's imagination and give them a sensory experience. Learning some techniques used in poetry can help you do just that. I guarantee your prose will get stronger from experimenting with poetry.

If you're trying to build a publication history, it's often easier to break in with poetry. Literary journals typically publish three to four times as many poems as short stories per issue, simply because they take up less space.

Do you have fears about writing poetry? Would you like to learn more about poetry techniques and how to use them in prose?
Monday, April 08, 2013 Laurel Garver

April is National Poetry Month, and to celebrate, I'm scattering poetry love among my fellow bloggers. 

Photo by d3designs, morguefile.com
Today I'm over at Connie Keller's blog "A Merry Heart," with tips for beginner poets, "Make Words Your Playground." 

Many writers fear poetry based on misperceptions: it is old-fashioned and frivolous, or else it's much, much, much too hard to read or write.

 Honestly, most poetry is not highbrow and esoteric; it can be very FUN to write. Yes, it's more condensed than prose, but who needs a PhD to trim things? And no matter what genre you most often write in, you want your work to stir your reader's imagination and give them a sensory experience. Learning some techniques used in poetry can help you do just that. I guarantee your prose will get stronger from experimenting with poetry.

If you're trying to build a publication history, it's often easier to break in with poetry. Literary journals typically publish three to four times as many poems as short stories per issue, simply because they take up less space.

Do you have fears about writing poetry? Would you like to learn more about poetry techniques and how to use them in prose?

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Photo by palomino, morguefile.com 
Independent publishing has truly revolutionized how books get into the hands of readers. Authors themselves can get books to market themselves quickly and cheaply. The prevailing thoughts about it tend to fall into these two camps:

This is great news: authors are earning more sooner, unheard voices are emerging, genre-benders are seeing the light of day.

This is terrible news: quality is a thing of the past, we’re drowning in a deluge of bestseller knockoffs, it’s impossible for non-genre authors to get any traction.

In my experience, the Indie Revolution is neither all roses nor all doom. When you want to bring something completely different to readers, it can be the best option, because legacy publishers tend to be risk averse, and new approaches are by nature risky. But book marketing is tricky no matter how you publish, and when you’re going it alone, something of a daunting task. Building an audience takes time, but the independent author has the advantage of “the long tail”--your work is available as long as you like, rather than having to earn out in a matter of months or face a premature death.

A number of factors led me onto the Indie path.

First is my broad experience in publishing. Over the past 21 years, I’ve done copywriting, editing, graphic design, print production, project management, scheduling, and copyrights and permissions. It felt like a natural extension of my existing skill sets to produce polished, professional books after years of producing magazines and newsletters.

Second is the nature of my fiction and poetry, which takes faith seriously but doesn't sanitize real life problems. I soon discovered that what I think of as the sweet spot (the dramatic place where life and beliefs collide) falls into a publishing no-man’s-land, too faith-saturated for the secular market, but too edgy for the Christian market. You’d be surprised by how little it takes to be “edgy” in the Christian market, where even “gosh” might be considered profanity. I explain more in an interview I did with Author Karen Akins (http://novelsduringnaptime.blogspot.com/2012/10/edgy-clean-writing-across-genre-divides.html).   Rather than choose a side, I opted to forge a new path.

Finally, I considered the following three questions:

1. What does success look like TO ME?

Quitting the day job to write full time might be your goal. Or having a loyal following of readers who appreciate your work. It might mean having a certain level of control. Producing work that you feel proud of. Reaching a particular target audience with something helpful and life-giving. Having creative freedom to write in several different genres or across categories.

2. What are my no-go areas?

What sacrifices am I not willing to make in my career? This might involve decisions about genres and approaches, financial risk, public exposure, associations. Where are you unwilling to compromise?

3. What kind of writing lifestyle can I maintain?

This question is perhaps the toughest to answer. It has to do with your stamina, your level of self-motivation, your ability to deal with outside pressure and to some degree the strength of your ego.


After much research and soul-searching, I concluded that publishing independently fit best with my work and my goals. It enables me to tell the kinds of stories I feel called to share without downplaying either the grit or the spiritual aspects. I can produce at my own pace, market at my own pace, and work in multiple genres.

(This had originally been a guest post I'd written for Michelle Davidson Argyle/The Innocent Flower.)

Have you wrestled with publishing path decision-making? What questions or concerns do/did you have?
Thursday, April 04, 2013 Laurel Garver
Photo by palomino, morguefile.com 
Independent publishing has truly revolutionized how books get into the hands of readers. Authors themselves can get books to market themselves quickly and cheaply. The prevailing thoughts about it tend to fall into these two camps:

This is great news: authors are earning more sooner, unheard voices are emerging, genre-benders are seeing the light of day.

This is terrible news: quality is a thing of the past, we’re drowning in a deluge of bestseller knockoffs, it’s impossible for non-genre authors to get any traction.

In my experience, the Indie Revolution is neither all roses nor all doom. When you want to bring something completely different to readers, it can be the best option, because legacy publishers tend to be risk averse, and new approaches are by nature risky. But book marketing is tricky no matter how you publish, and when you’re going it alone, something of a daunting task. Building an audience takes time, but the independent author has the advantage of “the long tail”--your work is available as long as you like, rather than having to earn out in a matter of months or face a premature death.

A number of factors led me onto the Indie path.

First is my broad experience in publishing. Over the past 21 years, I’ve done copywriting, editing, graphic design, print production, project management, scheduling, and copyrights and permissions. It felt like a natural extension of my existing skill sets to produce polished, professional books after years of producing magazines and newsletters.

Second is the nature of my fiction and poetry, which takes faith seriously but doesn't sanitize real life problems. I soon discovered that what I think of as the sweet spot (the dramatic place where life and beliefs collide) falls into a publishing no-man’s-land, too faith-saturated for the secular market, but too edgy for the Christian market. You’d be surprised by how little it takes to be “edgy” in the Christian market, where even “gosh” might be considered profanity. I explain more in an interview I did with Author Karen Akins (http://novelsduringnaptime.blogspot.com/2012/10/edgy-clean-writing-across-genre-divides.html).   Rather than choose a side, I opted to forge a new path.

Finally, I considered the following three questions:

1. What does success look like TO ME?

Quitting the day job to write full time might be your goal. Or having a loyal following of readers who appreciate your work. It might mean having a certain level of control. Producing work that you feel proud of. Reaching a particular target audience with something helpful and life-giving. Having creative freedom to write in several different genres or across categories.

2. What are my no-go areas?

What sacrifices am I not willing to make in my career? This might involve decisions about genres and approaches, financial risk, public exposure, associations. Where are you unwilling to compromise?

3. What kind of writing lifestyle can I maintain?

This question is perhaps the toughest to answer. It has to do with your stamina, your level of self-motivation, your ability to deal with outside pressure and to some degree the strength of your ego.


After much research and soul-searching, I concluded that publishing independently fit best with my work and my goals. It enables me to tell the kinds of stories I feel called to share without downplaying either the grit or the spiritual aspects. I can produce at my own pace, market at my own pace, and work in multiple genres.

(This had originally been a guest post I'd written for Michelle Davidson Argyle/The Innocent Flower.)

Have you wrestled with publishing path decision-making? What questions or concerns do/did you have?

Monday, April 01, 2013

Easter arrived with a flurry of activity. Between a press deadline at work, my daughter's nine-day spring break (still in progress), choir rehearsals, and many details that go along with moving a congregation into a new church building (like making new liturgical hangings and cleaning/organizing nursery supplies), we're feeling a bit stretched thin. A nap might be in order today.

How was your Easter?

A few things I'm looking forward to this month:

April Fool's Day hoaxes and jokeses, precious. As a perpetually late-adopter of tech, this tickled my funny bone:



April is National Poetry Month, so it's prime season for me to get out and about in the blogosphere to talk poetry (and Muddy-Fingered Midnights). Here's my schedule so far:

April 4 -- My self-pubbing journey with Michelle Davidson Argyle
April 8 -- Tips for beginner poets with Connie Keller
April 12 -- Interview with Anne Gallagher
April 17 -- Writing through fears with Jennifer R. Hubbard
April 18 -- "Stories that Sing -- Poems with a Plot" with Caroline Starr Rose
April 24 -- All Things Strange and Beautiful with Jessica Bell

For many bloggers, April is the A-Z Challenge. Many creative themes happening this year! As part of the fun, my novel Never Gone will be featured on Michael DiGesu's blog for letter N. I also enjoy popping around reading the entries, even if I'm not able to maintain the blog-a-day schedule.

Would you like a guest post for National Poetry Month? I have some dates available in late April. Are you doing the A-Z? What's your theme? 
Monday, April 01, 2013 Laurel Garver
Easter arrived with a flurry of activity. Between a press deadline at work, my daughter's nine-day spring break (still in progress), choir rehearsals, and many details that go along with moving a congregation into a new church building (like making new liturgical hangings and cleaning/organizing nursery supplies), we're feeling a bit stretched thin. A nap might be in order today.

How was your Easter?

A few things I'm looking forward to this month:

April Fool's Day hoaxes and jokeses, precious. As a perpetually late-adopter of tech, this tickled my funny bone:



April is National Poetry Month, so it's prime season for me to get out and about in the blogosphere to talk poetry (and Muddy-Fingered Midnights). Here's my schedule so far:

April 4 -- My self-pubbing journey with Michelle Davidson Argyle
April 8 -- Tips for beginner poets with Connie Keller
April 12 -- Interview with Anne Gallagher
April 17 -- Writing through fears with Jennifer R. Hubbard
April 18 -- "Stories that Sing -- Poems with a Plot" with Caroline Starr Rose
April 24 -- All Things Strange and Beautiful with Jessica Bell

For many bloggers, April is the A-Z Challenge. Many creative themes happening this year! As part of the fun, my novel Never Gone will be featured on Michael DiGesu's blog for letter N. I also enjoy popping around reading the entries, even if I'm not able to maintain the blog-a-day schedule.

Would you like a guest post for National Poetry Month? I have some dates available in late April. Are you doing the A-Z? What's your theme?