Friday 28 June 2013

Reflections: Friends, Art, Creativity.

A friend is one of the nicest things you can have,  
Pampered Cowgirl's photo.

 and one of the best things you can be.
 ~ Douglas Pagels

Never lose curiosity. Stop every day to understand
and appreciate a little of the Mystery that surrounds
you, and, your life will be filled with awe and discovery
to the very end.

Earthschool harmony's photo.

Attraction For Life's photo.'s photo. Self-Desception

"I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library." - Jorge Luis Borges

“The idea is to write so that people hear it, and it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart.” —Maya Angelou

Bride Capital Art Class 1995
Art by Sue Morris

Art by Pablo Picaso

Art by Diane Robinson

Art by Dr. Seuss

Art by Dr. Seuss

May we always have friendship, art and creativity.

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Saturday 22 June 2013

Point Of View.

Illustration by Samantha Kickingbird
Point of View (P.O.V.) in a story depends on how the main character is presented.

In first person, the book is told directly by the main character:
I am a dragon. I entertain people. That is my destiny.

In second person, the story is presented as if the reader is the main character: 
You get dresses, you eat breakfast, you go wrestle a dragon---it's all in a day's work.

In third person, the main character is referred to by name: 

Petra wondered at this for a moment. "Really? Is it possible that a dragon could be turned into a frog? "

First Person Narrative
    First person point of view instantly connects the reader with the main character, but often results in too much "telling" and not enough "showing."
   In the First person point of view, it is difficult to write about the physical description of the main character. In older writings writer's reverted to the "looked in the mirror" description, which is shunned in modern writing.

   First person point of view does allow the humor and thoughts of the main character to come through and the reader connects more readily with the main character.

Second Person Narrative

Second Person point of view is the least used form of writing books. Second person P.O.V. is difficult to maintain throughout a whole book and can produce awkward prose. This point of view is best used in blog posts.

Third Person Narrative

 Third Person P.O.V. is the most common form of narration.

 --Third person restricted has nearly as much closeness with the main character as first person but it is easier to avoid too much telling. The challenge to third person restricted is to keep the views only of the main character and not getting into and telling the thoughts of other characters.

 One challenge with third person restricted is limiting the story to scenes where the main character is present. This often requires creative plotting; to write the scenes around the main character. But doing so usually works out better than switching viewpoint characters. Switching viewpoint characters can and is done, but the difficulty of sustaining alternative views is that the reader can get lost within the different character's identities.

--Third Person omniscient is the rarest form of writing because it tends to obscure the main character. This type of P.O.V. knows all, and the writer reads into the thoughts of both minor and major characters. The reader does gain obscure knowledge of  the other characters, but the more times a writer switches the P.O.V., the less the reader will care about the main character.

A few other points on P.O.V.

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Saturday 15 June 2013

Noteworthy Writing Advice.

Writing advice from famous authors is something I take to heart.

Illustration by Samantha Kickingbird

     I love quotes by famous writers. Probably because there is such basic truths in their advice: when the writer can't find a way out of their writer's block, dealing with--or not--the criticism of others, following your heart and sticking by your mission as a writer, and getting past your own self-doubt.

    Here are some famous author's quotes most worthy of the advice:

 "If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time--or the tools--to write. Simple as that." --Stephen King

 "Don't take anyone's writing advice too seriously." --Lev Grossman

"You can't wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club." --Jack London

"I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide." --Harper Lee

"Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away." --Antoine de Saint-Exupery

"Wait, wait, wait, wait. Don't try to write through it, to force it. Many do, but that won't work. Just wait, it will come." --Toni Morrison

"True originality consists not in a new manner but in a new vision." --Edith Wharton

"The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt." --Sylvia Plath

I think that most writers find these truths the hard way--through practice, rejection, and the hair-pulling-out techniques that devoted writers go through.

The quote by Antoine de Saint-Exupery rings the biggest truth for me. When the writer can kill their own words, cut scenes, get to the core of the story, then perfection is achieved in that writing.

If you read, The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, you will well see what concise writing is to a great book. The Little Prince is one of my favorite books ever, and it is perfection.

When I was in journalism school, most of my assignments were targeted to cutting words. I had to write a short story, of say 1500 words, send it in for grading ,then (for the final mark of that assignment) cut it back to 1000 words without loosing the essence of the story.

Killing of your own words is a tough business at first. But through practice, and some mourning, it becomes easier. And the outcome is a story worth the telling.

Then there's Lev Grossman's advice "Don't take anyone's writing advice too seriously." This is a mighty important message for writers. Don't let other people's criticism hold you back from telling the story you need to tell--what some will love, others may not. Hence, the thick hide comes in handy.

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Illustration by Samantha Kickingbird

Saturday 8 June 2013

Hyphenation Woes.

Hyphen rules are about as meddlesome as comma rules.---meaning they are very, very meddlesome.

Most rules about hyphenating have to do with modifying a noun (the adjective or compound adjective before the noun).

Many words we tend to hyphenate could be one closed-up word, so it is always best to check The Chicago Manual of Style Hyphenation Table::

Readability is the main purpose for using the hyphen, and hyphens are used to show structure and pronunciation, Here are a few of the rules:

- No need to hyphenate proper nouns (North America) or ly + adjective compounds before nouns.

                     Example: That is a wonderfully groomed dragon you have there.

- When adjective compounds come after the noun, hyphenation is usually unnecessary.

                      Example: The blue-eyed dragon becomes: The dragon is blue eyed.

- And even for compounds that are hyphenated in the dictionary, such as: ill-humored and well-read---they don’t need to be hyphenated after the noun.

                      Example: That dragon was certainly ill humored.

- Participle (a verbal that functions as an adjective) constructions are hyphenated before but not after the noun.

            Example:: the fire-breathing methods becomes: the methods of fire breathing..

But, age terms should be hyphenated in both noun and adjective forms, except in the last two examples.


The three-year-old dragon

A ninety-nine-year-old dragon king

The dragon king's subjects of seven-year-olds


The dragon prince was nine years old

When he was nine years of age

So, now that we know some of the meddlesome hyphenation rules, lets have a care-free writing session or, a writing session that is care free.

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Illustration by Samantha Kickingbird

copyright, Diane Mae Robinson, 2013

Saturday 1 June 2013

The Ukrainian Writer.

By heritage of my mother's mother, I am of Ukrainian descent. My baba, Sophie ( Софія),was a wonderful baba---of the very round and jolly kind.  She passed away at the age of 96, eight years ago. In all her 80 years in Canada, she never learned much English and I never learned much Ukrainian, but we communicated with gestures and the few words we each knew of the other's language.

Baba Sophie came to Canada as a pre-arranged bride at sixteen years old, to escape the war. She left her family in a village near Hordenka, in Ivano-Frankivist Oblast, Ukraine to marry a man of Ukrainian decent , John Zaharko, whom she never met before coming to Canada.
Baba Sophie Pidwerbeski and Gido John Zaharko. 1924

Gido John had already set up a farm in Alberta, Canada, so this was to be her destiny---a farmer's wife in a strange land.

Baba Sophie would never talk much about what happened during the war, and she vowed never to set foot on Ukrainian soil again. Although, she did love Ukraine while growing up there and before the war. Throughout her life in Canada, she always kept in contact with the relatives in Ukraine, sending what money or gifts she could.

Baba Sophie Pidwerbeski taught me how to make many Ukrainian dishes. I still enjoy making these dishes and have them on all special occasion. These are my favorites:

Babka: another Easter bread, usually a sweet dough with raisins and other dried fruit.
Borscht (borshch) is a vegetable soup made out of beets, cabbage, potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, dill
Varenyky (Perogy): Dumplings stuffed with fillings such as potato and cheese, often served boiled.
Cabbage rolls (holubtsi/holubchi): cabbage leaves (fresh or sour) rolled with rice filling and may contain meat (minced beef or bacon)
Mlyntsi: crêpes (blyntsi or nalisnyky), filled usually with cottage cheese, meat, cabbage, fruits, served with sour cream
Pyrizhky: Small potato filled buns baked in thickened rich cream and dill.
Kutia: traditional Christmas dish, made of poppy seeds, wheat, nuts, honey, and delicacies.

My mother and two of her brothers are all that are left of their immediate family. The three of them all converse in fluent Ukrainian, but I fear they are the last generation (in Canada) to do so.
Baba Sophie's 3 sisters and great niece, Ukraine, 1985

My way of keeping my heritage alive will be in preparing these Ukrainian dishes for our family gathering.

Baba Sophie and Gido John both passed away before my first book was published. They never knew that I became a children's book writer.

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