Friday’s Fun Find: Lost Horizon = Lost Afternoon

Every once in a while, I’ll come across a word or phrase–like Shangri-La–and then I’m off and running.

Which is always fun, but sometimes, as in the case of Lost Horizon, a lost afternoon. So here, a very brief look at the classic novel, Lost Horizon by James Hilton. (Don’t blame me if your interest is piqued and you’re off and running, too):

You might recognize James Hilton as the author of another highly acclaimed novel, Goodbye, Mr. Chips

Lost Horizon (1933) is famous in the publishing world for being the first book in the Pocket Books line (1939). It was not the first paperback ever published, but it was instrumental in the paperback revolution.

The story was adapted to the screen in 1937 and directed by Frank Capra (of It’s a Wonderful Life fame). The film was both a critical and commercial failure at the time, but is now often considered a timeless classic.

In 1973, the book was adapted as a musical with music by Burt Bacharach and Hal David. It wasn’t nominated for any awards, unless you count the Golden Raspberry Award where it was listed as one of the One Hundred Most Enjoyably Bad Movies Ever Made. Still, on those rare occasions when I come across Shangri-La, thanks to this incredibly bad movie, I know the reference. And it moved me to read this classic novel (which is quite different from the movie). And I’m probably one of the few people on the planet who actually liked a couple songs in the movie. And so I bring you this one, from Lost Horizons (1973). (You have been warned.)

Got a Book In You? Read This Book First

There are lots and lots of books about writing.

Good ones, too, like Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, and Stephen King’s On Writing. And glancing over at my bookcase, I could list a dozen more. But I don’t know whether any of them would have yellow highlighter markings on every page like Steven James’ Story Trumps Structure.

It’s just that every page–every single page–has a gem that I need to remember, a sentence or two that I feel would be better written on a poster and stuck up on the bulletin board above my desk. But I don’t have time or room to make that many posters. So I highlight and re-read and question myself and my story as I work through each chapter, hoping that all the good writing stuff is sinking in and will show up in this latest manuscript.

To be honest, Steven James doesn’t need my recommendation. But you might. And so I couldn’t wait another day to tell you about Story Trumps Structure, even though I haven’t finished it.

Well, you’d be behind, too, if you had to stop and highlight every other line in the book.

Send Your Story to HerStories

dear writer 001I’m a little behind with this Tuesday Tip, but I have a good excuse: I was writing. And I happen to know that most of you who stop by here are writing, too. You tell your stories in whatever you write, from fiction to poetry to blog posts. And so here’s a call-for-submissions that’s perfect for you.

The HerStories Project is looking for your story for their HerStories Voices. And here’s what they had to say about it:

We’re thrilled to announce our latest HerStories Project addition: a new column called HerStories Voices. Here we’ll publish two essays per month. We’re looking for the kind of writing that moves us, amazes us, and makes us wish that we had written it ourselves. As always, we want to highlight the best of women’s voices and show the uniqueness and commonalities of women’s experiences.

You can get all the details about guidelines and submitting here, and I hope you’ll read them carefully and write your story. Because here’s the thing: I read your blogs, friends. I read your stories every day, and they make me laugh and smile and sigh and sometimes cry. You’ve been polishing this kind of writing, and your voice, nearly every time you send a post out into the world.

So write your story. Submit. I can’t wait to read ‘em over at HerStories.

The Importance of Speaking (In Front of People)

Because I come from a radio background of news and public service, I’m fine with talking to strangers.

(And trust me. There are a lot of strange people in the world. And before you think I’m being all judgey, I’m including myself in that category.)

So as a writer, I don’t have a problem getting up in front of strangers and talking about myself or a book that includes one of my stories. But I totally get that many writers struggle with this part of the writing business. And I expect many in the publishing business get it, too. But that doesn’t mean that writers will get a pass in that department.

It means that once you’re an author, you must be prepared to talk about your book. That’s the topic I addressed over at the Muffin today: “Talking About Your Book. You Can Do It!” So zip over there and give it a read for tips on getting comfortable talking to strangers.

‘Cause like I said–lots of strange people in the world. But hey, strange folks read. A lot. (Or so I’ve heard.)

A Tuesday Tip For the Organizationally Impaired

file0001285035054I consider myself a pretty organized individual.

Um…let me rephrase that. I used to consider myself a pretty organized individual. Then I became a writer who couldn’t pass up a good newsletter or blog. I mean, all that great information out there–for FREE!–well, my inbox runneth over.

But I was determined to tame the Inbox Beast and not pass up all that great info. 2015 was gonna be different. (There were emails from 2013 in my inbox. 2013, y’all.) So I’ve devised a new system, and so far, it’s working splendidly. Maybe it’ll work for you.

In the past, I’d bookmark interesting, fun, or timely writing sites that I would come across in a blog post or newsletter. Or I’d make a little note for myself, like “FF–15 punctuation marks.” But then I’d a. lose the notes or b. have to scroll down FOREVER to find the bookmarked site (which might say “Submission guidelines”. Oy. Do you know how many sites I bookmark that say “Submission Guidelines”? I don’t know, either, but it’s a lot.)

So I decided, whilst culling through the 331 emails (all the way from 2013) that I would open a Word Document. Any info that I would need in a timely manner, I copied and pasted there. Right now, for example, I have additional info re: two Chicken Soup call outs. I have the link to the Reader’s Digest Poetry Competition. I have the Highlights information for the annual Fiction Contest. And here’s what’s really worked for me: I keep the document open (though not on screen) all the time.

So if I have a thought about the contest, I insert a note on the document. If I have an idea about the essay, I do the same. And best of all, I don’t spend a ton of time, looking for links or notes jotted on paper. And every day, the little blue W on the bottom of my screen sort of reminds me: These projects are waiting for you!

It’s true, I’ve always had a calendar over my desk where I have deadlines and such. But having all the information about those deadlines, right at my fingertips, has been extremely helpful in the time-saving department. And time–and deadlines–wait for no writer.

(So how about you? Got a special time-saving tip? Let’s add it to the list!)