Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy 2009!

Happy 2009!

Be safe. Be smart. Remember: there is no such thing as "tipsy" driving! So drink responsibly and stick around for another year, all right?

Have a Happy New Year! May success, happiness, and good health be yours in 2009!


Monday, December 22, 2008

An Update on benning's World: Why Not, Right?

F2K is over, Lesson-wise, and all that’s left is our session's-end Short Story Contest. We began the session with nearly 500 writers, of many levels of expertise. Some are already published and are merely looking for a kick-start, or a refresher in the very basics of Fiction Writing. Some are newbies, wishing to learn enough to be able to express themselves in a writing venue, and perhaps to see if they have the talent to go on and get published. And the rest are somewhere in between.

When I was a student in F2K I found it a fun, friendly place, with so many things to discover and learn, so many new people to meet, so many opportunities to stretch whatever writing muscles I had. Through F2K I got the gumption to submit my very first short story to an online magazine. And they were impressed enough with it to publish it - and they paid me for my story, too! Not to mention my second, third, and fourth, as well!

Three runs through the F2K sessions and I was invited to become one of the Mentors, which eventually turned into my being asked to become the Mentor-in-Chief. What that means is I get the emails complaining about passwords that don’t work, assignments that have mysteriously disappeared, and hurt feelings from un-diplomatic feedback. But, y’know, it’s gotta be done, and I remain humble that our Founder and Leader, Bob Hembree, who created the free course, not to mention our entire Writers’ Village University, thought I could do the job.

Now, as I said, we’ve gotten down to our session-ending contest, which is more important than ever. The prize is to be published in a real-life paper magazine, get a small payment - I think it’s $25 - and to have a published work on one’s resume. Yes, it may sound small, but it’s not! Some online ezines accept and publish stories, but pay nothing - “It’s an honor to simply be published!” - which means your work is worth nothing at all.

With our numbers dwindling as the weeks went on - we never finish with the same number as we started - I was worried that our students wouldn’t submit enough contest entries to make it a real contest.

Silly me!

We got 27 entries. 27! That’s a lot of short stories by aspiring writers. And our task, as Mentors, was to read each one, and then put them onto a list of our favorites. I listed every one, from my top to the least. Not one of them was a dog, not one of them was a waste of reading time. I was thoroughly proud of my F2K writers! 27 short stories entered into our contest! Now, with our Mentors having submitted their own lists, I had to meld them into a Top Five or so, and post that for the Mentors to vote on. Yes or No?

When they all have decided whether or not the list will do, we will notify our Fearless Leader and hand that list to him. If he accepts it we tell the writers who are Finalists that they are now part of what Bob calls the F2K Masters Workshop.

What does that mean for them? They’ll have a specified time to edit their works, in the Workshop, for the publisher. Then the publisher will choose the winner. So it ain’t over yet! But, dang! It’s close!

I don’t know if you understand what this means to new writers. For weeks now these men and women, from all across the country, indeed the world, have worked together, given feedback to each other, watched as they all learned, grew as writers, and discovered that it ain’t easy to be a fiction writer. And now 27 of them had the guts to write a brand-new short story - the contest has a rule about the content of the story so you can’t just resurrect an old favorite! - submit it to their Mentors, and wait for someone to judge their work.

Trust me, when my first short story was published, even though it was an online-only ezine, I was so happy and proud I could scarce get my head through the door! And so it will be for these folks who become Finalists. Their writing was judged to be good enough to be a Finalist. Good enough to be considered for publication. Good enough!

It’s a great feeling. And I’m so happy for these men and women I am ready to bust a gut! All of them are Writers! Whoo-Hoo!

And that’s what’s been going on in benning’s world. Writing, Mentoring, and reading the works of new authors!

Oh, and nibbling M&Ms, too!


If you're interested in learning some of the basics of Fiction Writing, we begin our next session in early February of 2009. The course is free, lasts for about eight weeks, and consists of six lessons - not to mention an Orientation Week - and usually a session-ending writing contest. F2K is geared toward fiction writing, and aims to get you proficient enough to write a short story by the end. We also offer more one-on-one Mentoring for a small fee of $25.

You don't have to be a member of our parent organization - Writers' Village University - to register and attend. All you need is a desire to learn or re-learn some of the basics of fiction writing, and the ability to take criticism without bursting into tears. We hold weekly chat sessions, too. So think about signing up, all you writers out there. I'll be Mentoring again, as I expect most of our present Mentors will.

I hope to see some of you there, come February!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

... And How Have You Been?

Well, F2K is almost over. Nothing remains but the late assignment posts and contest submissions from our students. Then we Mentors will choose which submissions are the finalists and toss them into what we call the Masters Workshop so they can edit and polish their tales. The winner will be published in the T-Zero magazine and receive $25, along with a copy of the Spring Issue. Not bad for a writing course, right?

January will find me Mentoring another writing Class based on the book, "Between The Lines" by J. P. Morrell. I did this once before and it was a learning experience, let me tell you. I don't really care for books about 'how to write' since they tend to get a writer over-thinking. But this one was very helpful. And Mentoring another class will be fun, as well as tiring. I can't recall how long the class runs, but it might even overlap our next F2K session which begins in ... wait for it! ... February!

I'm a very busy volunteer at Writers' Village University, these days. That's why I simply stopped blogging after Election Day. Not to mention the fact that I was also entered in the 2008 edition of NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month - which I finished. Finished! Over 50,000 words written in a month! Maybe not what a professional novel writer would do, but pretty good totals for me. And I was Mentoring that F2K class the whole time, too!

Yeah, I'm bragging a little. I think I can see the end of my Young Adult SF novel. And that's a plus. I've been noodling this for close to a year, but finally got down to it, and pounded it out. It helps when the story just sort of unfolds before you, and it has, for the most part. Once that's finished - the first draft, at least - then I will go back to my unfinished SF novel, "Space Pirates" and get it done. That one has been tickling my mind for awhile. Time to get it done, right?

Let's see ... Thanksgiving found me at my Folks' for supper, which was excellent! My step-sister was visiting from 'up north' and we had a good time chatting, nibbling, and drinking. When I left Mom not only gave me a heap of left-overs - yum! - but my step-Dad wrapped the turkey carcass for me to take, too. Simmered for a few hours, that carcass fed me for three days, and I have turkey broth left. Not bad, right?

I hope your Thanksgiving was a good one.

I'm not terribly happy with the election results, especially as the MSM remains in the pocket of the Socialist Democrats and is hurrahing the coming Coronation of their choice for our national Messiah. The Georgia U.S. Senate run-off shows that the Dems are not as popular and all-powerful as they claim. Al Franken, unfunny as ever, is trying anything he can to pull out a victory from his defeat in the Minnesota U.S. Senate race. I figure any state that elects an idiot to office gets precisely what they deserve. Maybe Minnesotans aren't completely foolish, eh?

Why the heck aren't all ships, plying the seas off Somalia, armed? Why aren't we blowing those murderous Pirates to Kingdom Come? The companies insuring those vessels should demand they be armed and sailors be trained in use of those arms or refuse to insure the vessels. The naval forces 'protecting' that shipping lane, and any others in the world pestered by Pirates, should stop trying to capture them and simply annihilate them. Any pirates captured should be hanged. Immediately. Or keel-hauled. Or simply shot and tossed over-board. It's not a criminal justice issue, folks, it's a war on the High Seas. Time to bring down the hammer.

I have more, but to heck with it! Time to make breakfast. I'm kinda back. And still busy.

Take care!