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Author Interviews

A Chat with Author Donn Taylor

Sarah Sundin
Sarah Sundin

Greetings from Sarah Sundin from California, where we’re rejoicing in the smidgen of rain we’ve received. Today I have the honor of interviewing multi-published novelist Donn Taylor, who has put his careers in the military and in academia to use in his stories!

Donn, tell us about your book, Murder in Disguise.

Donn Taylor
Donn Taylor

Official verdict: Suicide. But why would that vigorous department chairman kill himself? When visiting professor Preston Barclay asks questions, he receives threats. The more things don’t add up, the more the threats increase, leading Press and his colleague Mara Thorn increasingly into danger.

Why did you write this book?

The main focus of the novel is the murder mystery. But as a long-time member of the National Association of Scholars, I have closely followed universities’ all-too-common violations of students’ constitutional rights, especially violations involving censorship of religious activities. Without burdening the main plot, I wanted to dramatize some of the more common types of violations that I have studied.

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Author Interviews

Tips from the Pros: Donn Taylor

Marti Pieper
Marti Pieper

A warm hello from Marti Pieper, writing from beautiful (and equally warm) Mount Dora, Florida. In this month of Thanksgiving, many of us are taking time to count our blessings.One of the blessings in my writing life is my friendship via social media and email with author Donn Taylor. We’ve never met in person but have enjoyed mutual support and encouragement over the past few years. I’m both grateful and delighted to share my friend with our CAN readers today.

Greetings, Donn! I’m glad to welcome you to your encore interview with CAN. Let’s get started. How many books do you have published?                                          

Donn Taylor
Donn Taylor

                 

Five.

That’s great. What are a few of your latest titles?                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

I have two suspense novels, The Lazarus File and Deadly Additive; a mystery, Rhapsody in Red; and now a historical, Lightning on a Quiet Night. I also self-published a book of poetry because I wanted to make a point about writing poetry of a kind different from current fads.

And I appreciate your poetry, too. You were last featured on the CAN blog in 2010. What are the chief lessons you’ve learned about the writing life since then?

I can summarize that in one sentence: Learn marketing or die.

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Writing craft

Making Poems Different III

"DonnBusPhotos-007a2x3"Hello, I’m Donn Taylor, back again after several months of alligators up to the ears. I’m still talking about ways to achieve the “higher voltage” that distinguishes poetry from most prose. We’re still looking at ways to make your poems different from many that editors will see. Most of the new poems I’m seeing are written in the poet’s own voice, with the poet as speaker (persona) of the poem and the poet’s self as the subject. It’s safe to assume that editors will see more of that kind of poem than any other. Previously we illustrated making your poem different by MAKING THE SPEAKER OF THE POEM SOMEONE BESIDES THE POET and WRITING ABOUT A SUBJECT OTHER THAN THE SELF.

My basic idea in both is that I doubt that many readers would be interested in me, so the safest procedure is to write about something else.

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Writing craft

Making Poems Different I

DonnBusPhotos-007a2x3Hello, I’m Donn Taylor, here again to talk about poetry and ways to achieve the “higher voltage” that distinguishes poetry from most prose. In my last few posts, I spoke of several basic ways to organize a poem. Now we turn to several ways of making your poem different than many, perhaps most, that editors will see. The vast majority of new poems I’m seeing are written in the poet’s own voice, with the poet as the speaker (persona) of the poem and one or more aspects of the poet’s self as the subject. It’s safe to assume that editors will see more of that kind of poem than any other. So I will suggest several techniques of making your poems different.

 

Categories
Writing craft

Poetry Basics: Organizing the Poem III

DonnBusPhotos-007a2x3

Hello. I'm Donn Taylor, here again to talk about poetry writing and ways to achieve the "higher voltage" that distinguishes poetry from most prose. We've talked about putting strong words in emphatic places, use of images, and a little bit about figurative language. On my last blog we began talking about ways to organize a poem. Those ways are infinite, of course, so we'll confine ourselves to some of the most common, and we'll deal only with lyric poetry (poetry that expresses the poet's thoughts or emotions). As before, I compare a short poem to a paragraph: it has a main idea that may be stated or unstated, and everything in the poem points to or develops that one idea.

Categories
Writing craft

Poetry Basics: Organizing the Poem II

DonnBusPhotos-007a2x3

      Hello. I'm Donn Taylor, here again to talk about poetry writing and ways to achieve the "higher voltage" that distinguishes poetry from most prose. We've talked about putting strong words in emphatic places, use of images, and a little bit about figurative language. On my last blog we began talking about ways to organize a poem. Those ways are infinite, of course, so we'll confine ourselves to some of the most common, and we'll deal only with lyric poetry (poetry that expresses the poet's thoughts or emotions). As before, I compare a short poem to a paragraph: it has a main idea that may be stated or unstated, and everything in the poem points to or develops that one idea.

Categories
Writing craft

Basics in Poetry Writing: Figurative Language I

DonnBusPhotos-007a2x3

    Hello. I'm DonnTaylor, writing again about the basic elements of poetry writing. In previous blog sessions we've mentioned the late Lawrence Perrine's statement that poetry speaks "in higher voltage" with greater compression of meaning than most prose. We've also spoken of placing strong words in the emphatic positions of the poetic line, and we've discussed the necessity of using strong images. Now we move to one of the most important elements that achieve compression of meaning, often with striking effect: figurative language. In this session we'll look at personification, simile, and metaphor. We'll cover other figures later.

 

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Writing craft

Basic of Poetry Writing II – Images

DonnBusPhotos-007a2x3                        by

                  Donn Taylor

    In my last poetry blog we talked about finding strong words and putting them in emphatic positions in the poetic line. The end of the line is most emphatic; the beginning, next-most emphatic. Now we go on to specific kinds of strong words.
    As Lawrence Perrine wrote, poetry speaks in "higher voltage" than prose. One essential means of achieving that higher voltage is the effective use of images—words or phrases that appeal to one of the five senses. Why important? Because everything we know about the world we live in comes to us through one or more of the five senses. When we appeal to these senses in writing, we imitate the learning method our readers have used all their lives. Images are not only attractive in their own right: they are essential to gaining reader interest.

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Writing craft

Some Basics of Writing Poetry

DonnBusPhotos-007a2x3     Hello. I'm Donn Taylor. Last month I encouraged aspiring poets to write good-quality poetry that can be understood by ordinary readers. This month we begin on basic elements that can make that poetry good.

    Ideally, poetry is more compact, more intense than prose. As the late Lawrence Perrine put it, poetry speaks in "higher voltage." William Baer says further that poetry emphasizes the line, the sound of words, and compression of meaning. All of these things are true, but accomplishing them is achieved only by attention to even the smallest elements. Oscar Wilde famously said he'd worked all day on a poem, putting in a comma in the morning and taking it out in the afternoon. A manuscript by Dylan Thomas includes his marginal note, "forty-two prepositions." So to achieve that "higher voltage," we have to begin with words, the building blocks of poetry. For most of us, this means taking a new look at things we already know.

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Writing craft

Toward Poetry Revival

DonnBusPhotos-007a2x3    I have loved poetry since the age of seventeen when I discovered Byron, Keats, and Shelley. As I matured, I came to love deeper masters like Virgil, Spenser, Donne, Milton, and Tennyson, as well as Homer and Dante in translation. But something bad happened to poetry about a hundred years ago, so that many of today's readers are completely turned off toward poetry. It doesn't have to be that way. In my CAN blogs I will encourage a revival of good-quality poetry that can be enjoyed by ordinary readers, and I'll describe and illustrate techniques that can make it that way. But first, let's review the progress of poetry from what it once was into the present unfavorable situation.