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Donna Sawyer
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In my life time I have been witness to men, women andchildren being lynched, beaten, burned, attacked by dogs, assaulted with firehoses, stabbed, blown up by bombs, dragged behind pickup trucks, drowned, rapedwith sticks, beaten with bats, infected with syphilis and riddled with bullets –for just being Black. And every... Continue reading
Reblogged Jul 19, 2013 at Donna Drew Sawyer
In my life time I have been witness to men, women and children being lynched, beaten, burned, attacked by dogs, assaulted with fire hoses, stabbed, blown up by bombs, dragged behind pickup trucks, drowned, raped with sticks, beaten with bats, infected with syphilis and riddled with bullets – for just being Black. And every time one of these atrocities is committed, the truth of it all must be told. That is why Director Ryan Coogler’s film, “Fruitvale Station,” about the senseless death of young Oscar Grant III, is so important and deserves our patronage and attention. However, I will not... Continue reading
Posted Jul 19, 2013 at Six Great Books
In Jane Wagner's 1985 masterpiece, "Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe," Lily Tomlin embodies characters with still relevant questions about how our society got where it is and where the hell we are headed. What is inspired and what is simply insipid? via Continue reading
Reblogged Apr 1, 2013 at Donna Drew Sawyer
In Jane Wagner's 1985 masterpiece, "Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe," Lily Tomlin embodies characters with still relevant questions about how our society got where it is and where the hell we are headed. What is inspired and what is simply insipid? Wagner's script and Tomlin's performance nail that question with Trudy, a homeless bag lady, as she ponders art is our society by holding up two found objects - a can of Campbell's soup and an Andy Warhol Campbell Soup print. "Soup or art, art or soup?" she asks looking back and forth between the two.... Continue reading
Posted Mar 24, 2013 at Six Great Books
Fellow writer and Six Great Books contributor, Molly Mahoney Matthews, is sending marvelous missives from her visit to Vietnam. She writes of coffee, commuting, little girls and lychee nuts, the everyday in a remote land that is usually paired with the word war. The way Molly is sharing her view of the mundane is magical, she has managed to erase the images of bullets and bodies that I have associated with Vietnam for so long. That is what writing and sharing does, it changes perspectives and perceptions. Thanks Molly. You can follow Molly's adventures on her blog, Unsinkable. Continue reading
Posted Feb 17, 2013 at Six Great Books
Interesting discussion on about writing from the perspective of someone other than your own racial background. Specifically the writer asked, as a white woman, how does she authentically capture the persona of a black female character. My answer? Race is not a persona. You cannot authentically write about a black person based on the color of their skin any more than you can a white person. Experiences, exposure, economics, education, geography, love, pain, pleasure etc., in other words, life makes us who we are and how we are. Like this young writer, the characters in my novel-in-progress, Provenance, similarly... Continue reading
Posted Feb 14, 2013 at Six Great Books
Meredith Maran’s just released, Why We Write, 20 Acclaimed Authors on How and Why They Do What They Do, is just what a writer needs. When you’ve invested hours, days, weeks and years and you know that you're still not finished with this book you must write, it does make you wonder. “When I’m writing…I’m living in two difference dimensions: this life I’m living now…and this completely other world I’m inhabiting that no one else knows about.” - Jennifer Egan “You’ve got to write and revise every sentence, every paragraph, and every page over and over until the rhythm, the... Continue reading
Posted Feb 1, 2013 at Six Great Books
Virgin Launches First Art Gallery in the Sky. Street Art by nature is public and accessible, visual art for everyone. Virgin Atlantic is making works by a renowned British street artist exclusively available to upper class passengers between New York and London. Is this a good thing? Is it making the pedestrian (literally) the exclusive purview of the prosporous? Continue reading
Posted Jan 30, 2013 at Six Great Books
Does "The Help" help us going forward or does it keep us tethered to the past? Does interest and exploration of the pre-civil rights era do anything for race relations today? Continue reading
Posted Jan 10, 2012 at Six Great Books
Steve Jobs shared the best of his perspective on life and work in the commencement speech he gave at Stanford University in 2005. There is a wealth of wisdom in that speech, not the least of which he saves for the end, "Stay Hungy. Stay Foolish." He also reminds us that we are all naked, we come in that way and we go out that way, so we really have very little to lose. For me, Jobs' advice and counsel is timely indeed. My manuscript is finally finished. I've handed it off to be reviewed by an editor so that... Continue reading
Posted Nov 18, 2011 at Six Great Books
I've been an avid reader all of my life. However, when I began to write my own novel, I could no longer just read. Something an author writes triggers a line or idea for my own novel and immediately I'm digging around for a scrap of paper to jot down a note for my manuscript. Reading has become a forensic exercise - I dissect how other authors communicate/structure action and emotion, how they pace the story and what devices they use to move it along. I have become a student of the craft of writing as much as I am... Continue reading
Posted May 18, 2011 at Six Great Books
A recent article by Peter Osnos, The Platform: Good Reviews Are No Longer Enough, should be required reading for the novice author. It considers how a book review in a respected weekly newspaper used to be what made a best seller - snag a good one and your book got the kind of attention that makes people talk and hopefully buy. Well today it seems, not so much. Armed with Facebook, Twitter and a list of Internet book sites and reviewers, a good book and a savvy author can develop their own social media platform, launch an effective campaign and... Continue reading
Posted May 2, 2011 at Six Great Books
There is a really interesting guest post on Writer Unboxed by Carolyn Tolley, a former publishing exec who has been a freelance editor of all genres of popular fiction for the past decade. Do Editors Edit Anymore? is long but very well worth the time to read.Tolley looks primarily into the way manuscript editing and publishing have and have not changed. Bottom line, a good story is still required – no matter how pristine (from an editing standpoint) the manuscript. About the manuscript Tolley asks: Is it funny enough? Is it sexy enough? Is the police procedure creative? Is the... Continue reading
Posted Apr 27, 2011 at Six Great Books
Early this year I took a hiatus from my novel, Provenance. I spent a couple of weeks traveling throughout Ethiopia and several weeks before that getting ready to travel to Ethiopia (you know how that is). When I got back from my trip a little health problem kept me from my manuscript for a few more weeks. All in all, it was nearly two months before I got back to my novel. Since I began this quest for publication four years ago I had never taken that much time away from this thing that I love so much - writing.... Continue reading
Posted Apr 11, 2011 at Six Great Books
It came in at 12:42 a.m. via email: Dear Donna, Thank you for sharing your work. Unfortunately, I feel that in today's market, I cannot take on projects unless I feel strongly about them. I'm sorry to say that it didn't happen with this one. This of course is just my opinion and others may feel differently. I wish you the best of luck with all of your publishing endeavors. So there it was, my first rejection. I felt those five sentences but it wasn't the crippling blow that I thought it might be, there was an odd sense of... Continue reading
Posted Mar 23, 2011 at Six Great Books
The New York Times arrived soaking wet a couple of weeks ago and I called too late to request a replacement. Not wanting to go out in the pouring rain for another copy, I pulled out the laundry drying rack and carefully hung my favorite sections up to dry. It took all day but the essay, Why Do Writers Abandon Novels by Dan Kois, on the last page of the Book Review was worth the wait. Kois interviwed successful authors about books they've abandoned - pages that never would and in the author's opinion, never should see the light of... Continue reading
Posted Mar 18, 2011 at Six Great Books
I've been having fun with a new website, I Write Like, that will analyze your prose and tell you what famous writer you write like. As an eclectic reader from early on I've never really been sure which writers have influenced my writing style so I thought this fun little program might give me a clue. I tried analyzing several different sections of my manuscript. My first comparison was to Stephen King, then Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes) then, Stephen King again. Not bad company - just not what I was expecting. Have a little fun and see who... Continue reading
Posted Jul 21, 2010 at Six Great Books
A few of us in our writing group are in the process of submitting manuscripts and book proposals to literary agents - a nerve racking process to say the least. No matter how carefully you craft your query, doubts remain. I came across a very funny blog, SlushPile Hell, that helped assuage my growing fear of literary agents with a bit of humor. The unnamed literary agent who authors the blog replies to queries from the "you can't make this stuff up" file. Only snippets of the offending queries are offered so I assume no writers were actually hurt in... Continue reading
Posted Jul 9, 2010 at Six Great Books
Last Saturday our Six Great Books (SGB) writing group spent the day at the 31stAnnual American Independent Writers' (AIW) Conference in Washington, DC. It was a great day of panels, fiction and nonfiction round-tables, craft sessions and the all important pitch sessions with literary agents. While I benefited greatly from all of the sessions and the speakers (Chuck Sambuchino of Writer's Digest Books and Jill McCorkle of North Carolina State University's Creative Writing MFA Program were spectacular) the conference was my first opportunity to pitch my recently completed novel. The first question everybody at a writer's conference asks is, "So,... Continue reading
Posted Jun 17, 2010 at Six Great Books
"blog", abbreviated word for weblog, is a web-based journal in which people can publish their thoughts and opinions on the Internet. It is everyone's home on the world wide web and probably their number one venting venue. Anyone can start a blog. It's straight-forward and, in a lot of cases,... Continue reading
Posted Apr 19, 2010 at NIGRESCENCE
My husband, my biggest booster rivaled only by my beloved writing group, recently sent me two great articles from the Guardian newspaper (UK) that offered pearls of wisdom from successful authors, Ten Rules for Writing by Elmore Leonard and Ten Rules for Writing (part two). While I appreciate the insight and information these authors so generously shared with the unpublished, I wonder about the dangers inherent in seeking and accepting too much writing advice. There is the danger of spending too much time being taught and not enough time learning - as if reading about writing you can make you... Continue reading
Posted Apr 14, 2010 at Six Great Books
Recently read a fabulous recent post on Writer Unboxed - Should You Hire a Professional Editor. I'm nearing "The End" of my novel, - I've got my copy editor on alert but I've been wondering if I should do more or just put this bad girl out there. The post by Jane Friedman, publisher and editorial director of the Writer’s Digest brand community, provides insight into the editing process - the whys, the why nots and what ifs. I found it a truly valuable read - so of course I want to share. Be sure to read the comments -... Continue reading
Posted Mar 31, 2010 at Six Great Books
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Mar 15, 2010
Last week I woke to find two feet of snow blanketing everything - that's right, feet not inches. It is not suppose to snow like this here – this is Washington not Wasilla (for which I am truly grateful). I stood in the window and watched the plow guy, normally he handles clearing the streets in our neighborhood with ease. I felt for him as struggled valiantly with the impossible task of moving that much snow. He eventually conceded to Mother Nature and left in search of better equipment, all I could think of was Roy Scheider's line in the... Continue reading
Posted Feb 10, 2010 at Six Great Books
There are phrases, scenes and dialogue in my manuscript that I simply fall in love with. As I write them, the words really speak to me adding just the right context, tone, inference and information to my story. Then comes the second or even the third draft and though I once loved those words, I realize they have to go. I know my writing will be stronger, my story tighter, my readers more engaged if I don't make them wade through words that don't add much, however poetic they may be. There was a gifted writer in a class I... Continue reading
Posted Jan 27, 2010 at Six Great Books