Writing with the Senses

Posted in Writing at 5:21 pm by Amber

The five senses can help us perceive the world around us.  Take away one of them and you’re bound to have an incomplete picture.  Touch, smell, taste, hearing and sight can provide a richer picture when describing settings and characters.  Any writer trying to set the reader into the material will make use of the senses.

For example, clothing can indicate a character’s economic status.  Faded clothing in particular can let the reader know the person spends a lot of time in the sun.  Or combined the faded clothing with frayed cuffs, the person is unable to purchase a closet full of clothes.

I’ve begun reading A Field Guide To Burying Your Parents by Liza Palmer and it’s full of examples that use the senses.  The main character’s mother smells like Earl Grey and outside.  Bits of tea leaves float on top like fish food.  These little details make the characters and the settings come alive; it’s not flat writing.

Have you read or written anything lately that really stood out because the senses were involved?


Which Comes First – The Market or the Story?

Posted in Writing at 11:45 pm by Amber

Every writer has a different method for getting the words down for the story that needs to be told.

Which do you think should come first – the market or the story? 

I used to write what I wanted and then tried to find a market for it.  I would spend a lot of time revising the piece so it would fit the market.  This was a bit of a waste of time and didn’t do much service to the story. 

Now I do a little bit of both.  I write what I want with an eye towards the market or the theme.  If it fits, then I submit it.  If it doesn’t fit, I save it until I find something that seems like a good fit.

September 2009

Posted in Status Report at 11:12 pm by Amber

These statistics are all for short stories, poems, or contest entries. Book reviews are not included.

  1. Sales in September: 0
  2. Rejections in September: 0
  3. Submissions sent out in September: 0
  4. Total stories/poems/contests pending responses: 3

Even with no children in school, September is usually one of my busier months of the year.  I get to recharge with a vacation or two.  My writer’s notebook gets a lot of use between writing ideas and jotting down bits of things that hit me.  This is usually when I come up with the inklings of my November novel idea.


Back from Vacation

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:15 am by Amber

I’m back from my beach vacation in North Carolina.  I feel like I hit the ground running without a chance to look back.  Yesterday, I slept in late and it wasn’t until about 2 hours into work I realized I forgot to eat breakfast.  Isn’t that just crazy?  Next weekend I’ll be out of town visiting friends for a Halloween get together and I’ve been busy prepping for that. 

I have a backlog of reviews to do here and emails to catch up on.  In the meantime, I’ll leave you with an image of the beach.  This was taken on our last night in Topsail Beach.

Topsail Beach, North Carolina

Topsail Beach, North Carolina


A Change in Altitude by Anita Shreve

Posted in Review at 11:46 am by Amber

My body was sitting on the beach at Topsail Island, North Carolina but my mind was transported to the dusty streets of Nairobi before the seasonal rains while reading A Change of Altitude.  It was not surprising to learn Anita Shreve once lived in Kenya.  Only someone who lived there could capture the moral questions that come up when living in a country different from your own.

A Change of Altitude is about Margaret, a newlywed who lives with her husband, Patrick, in Kenya.  He’s a doctor doing research on tropical diseases.  She’s at a bit of a loss on how to spend her time since the move.  Margaret was a reporter in Boston and now feels purposeless.  Patrick and Margaret are invited to climb Mount Kenya with two other couples.  An accident during the climb changes the course of their marriage.

This book can easily be a book club favorite if readers are brave enough to pick it up.  The events make Margaret ask some hard questions about herself and her marriage.  Although the average reader won’t have lived in another country where the customs are different, many of the feelings and doubts expressed by Margaret have been felt by someone in a relationship.  There are the normal marriage questions such as whether or not to have children, if children are in the future then when would be a good time to start trying and the harder questions such as which characteristics in my mate can be overlooked and which ones should I confront him/her about?  It can make the reader ask those questions of themselves and some readers will find they aren’t ready for those answers.

You can learn more about Anita Shreve, her upcoming visits, and her books at http://anitashreve.com/.