Tony Hilleran Landscape Series

Tony Hillerman would have been 90 years old this year. Wordharvest is hosting a series on conferences in Albuquerque to celebrate. Below find information on how to meet great authors with ground-breaking work in the genre of mystery, thriller, screen writing, memoirs, in beautiful New Mexico. I had a great time presenting my work, Daughters of the West Mesa, and learned much at the Tony Hillerman Literary Landscape Series. The second conference is on July 23-24.


Writer’s Block

Writer’s block is a condition outlining when you want to write, but can’t write. I have found it helpful to write about why I cannot write. I write out all that bothers me: my sick dog, the need for new carpet, my aging mother, the nosy neighbors. Some of it makes no sense. Some of it is funny. Some of it is strange. In the end, I write about the frustration, even anger, of being unable to write. Relax, writer’s block will pass.

Writing, Rewriting and Editing Require Hard Work

Never send something to print without a good edit. I am fine-tooth combing and responding to my publishers edit on my next novel, Daughters of the West Mesa. I completed five out of twenty-one chapters in an effort to get closer to print. It is hard work. I wrote the manuscript, read it and made changes three times. My critique group read it. My friend, Norma, read and edited it. My publisher still returned it with minor editing needed. I don’t mind the work, for it produces a fine finished book. But I do get tired.

Introduce Yourself as a Writer

I suggest you introduce yourself as a writer. Own it. Don’t be shy, just say it to someone. After some time, you’ll be comfortable. If they ask what you have written, tell them. What they really want to know is if you are published. Tell them, or if you are not yet published say, “My current work in progress it _____.”
Below find a link to an article that may help you. self-doubt is

Critique Groups

I cannot stress enough the importance of a critique group. Gather some writers in your genre, if you cannot find a group to join. For beginning writers I recommend that group members email no more than 10 pages of their work to members of the group, no more than five members, print the work, provide written feedback on each member’s submission, and meet to discuss one another’s work. Collect the feedback and revise your work considering what was suggested.

When You Don’t Know What Word to Use

There are times when a writer does not know what word best communicates an emotion, an action, or a description. The answer is to visit a thesaurus. There are several kind. One probably exists in your word processing software. They also come in book form and on-line. I use both. Simply type thesaurus into your search engine. For example, I wanted another word for uncomfortable. I looked it up in my thesaurus and found twenty other words ranging from painful, difficult, to unnerving. Varying your words adds flavor to your writing. Thus, I often use a Spanish word to render deeper meaning. Here is an exercise: Write two sentences with the word modern without using the word modern. Here is a link to make it easier:

The Voice is the Point of View

An author must be clear on who is telling the story. Generally, it is the protagonist, the main character. But, it can be someone else. For today, let us focus on the fact that the voice in the story is the point of view, sometimes noted as the POV. The POV involves what the story-teller knows. If an all-powerful character, God, is telling the story, that POV knows what every person in the story is saying and doing. If a friend is telling the story, the friend only knows what happened, and what was said, when she/he was present. POV can be confusing. For now, it is important that the writer select a POV, and sticks to it until the end of the story. It might be helpful to read a few things, and try to identify the point of view, who is telling the story.  Multiple POVs, the story told from various perspectives, will be discussed soon. Any questions?

Your Experience Informs Your Writing

I stress once again, write what you know. Your experience is useful, especially if you are bilingual and/or bi-cultural. Your bi-cultural background informs your writing. Use other cultural words to add color to your work when writing in English. If you lack experience, do some research. Reading about something may be helpful, but actually doing it, being there, smelling, or feeling it is most valuable. There are virtual tours of cities and other places on line; but if you have an opportunity visit the city, or place. If you have a scene that takes place in a Mexican mercado, recall the sounds, colors, smells, and texture of fruits, vegetables, meat, the people and how they speak. Use your sense of smell, touch, hearing, and sight. Doing this brings your writing alive. It roots it in reality, and lends robust flavor to your story and its characters. Here is a suggestion: Describe a place using all your senses. This place may be a Baptismal in a Catholic Church, lunchtime in a neighborhood restaurant, walking through the Spanish Market in Santa Fe.