I knew John Lawson twice; as a Writers Forum member, and concurrently as a Record Searchlight employee. When I started at the paper, John was pretty much retired, but to keep his fingers in the game, he took on one of the paper’s weeklies for the community of Shasta Lake.
Lawson, a World War II veteran who served in the U.S. Navy, graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in journalism after working in the logging industry, beginning his career at the Record Searchlight in May of 1960.
Not only was he a charter member of WF, he belonged to the Shasta Historical Society, the Salvation Army, Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Center board, and the Forest Council of Turtle Bay. He also served on the Shasta County Grand Jury.
Gilbert Moore, past City Editor and Managing Editor at the paper, said this (in Marc Beauchamp’s recent RS blog): “John was a true original, and it is hard to describe some of his powerful gifts in the ordinary terms of journalism,” adding, “I wanted him, with his brains and keen observational skills and knowledge of science to cover a science writer’s convention in Berkeley. John found more excuses for not going. Finally, in exasperation, I yelled, ‘Okay, John, then DON’T go!’ Which instantly made John decide to go. He went — and among his excellent reportage from the convention was an editorial page essay on John’s stroll around his old Berkeley college campus and the memories this stroll brought him. That column won a first prize in (a) statewide California journalism competition.”
But Lawson’s interests went beyond writing. He loved music. He enjoyed singing and playing the trombone with local bands, especially for seniors in nursing homes.
Lawson is survived by his four sons, five grandchildren, and his wife, Clara, 86. A memorial will be held at the First United Methodist Church sometime in May.
In Memorium by Past President Larry Watters
I recently discovered a wonderful writing podcast. It’s actually a radio program out of UC Irvine. The program is Writers on Writing, and the host, Barbara DeMarco-Barrett, chats with writers about their writing, and with people in the publishing industry about writing.
In this particular podcast, Barbara talks with author Kevin Canty about his book The Underworld, and with literary agent Noah Lukeman. Noah wrote the book The First Five Pages, and in this interview, he talks about how agents and editors can tell in the first few pages of a manuscript whether an author ‘has the chops’ to carry the rest of the story. Noah appeals to us to take the craft of writing seriously, and to constantly write to improve our ability with the craft.
Fascinating interviews! Give them a listen!
The Noah Lukeman half of the program starts at about 28 minutes into the podcast.
At our March meeting, Jennifer Levens provided Writers Forum with some excellent ideas for researching our books. Jennifer wanted us to prevent those ‘a-HA!’ moments when readers spot errors in history or geography in a book. Here are some of the online resources she provided.
Artcyclopedia is a source for artists or art movements.
BioMedCentral is an archive of over 170 biology, chemistry, and medical journals.
DigitalHistory is a great archive for American history. If you can’t find what you need, you can submit your questions for a professional historian to answer.
FindArticles.com is a database of articles back to 1998 from about 500 print periodicals.
You have probably heard of the Library of Congress. They have used your tax dollars to make much of their collection available to you in the comfort of your own home at no extra cost to you. Money well spent, I’d say.
The Perseus Digital Library is great for researching Ancient History, the English Renaissance, or the American Civil War.
The largest collection of free books on the Internet can be found at Project Gutenberg.
Unfortunately, due to the volatile nature of the Internet, some of the links provided at the meeting no longer work like they used to. For instance, INFOMINE apparently used to be a great resource for ‘mining information’ from all sorts of online academic resources. The current INFOMINE, however, seems to be strictly devoted to inormation ON mining, and a subscription is necessary to access much of that.
The links provided above work as they are intended today: April 1, 2017. (No. This is not an April Fools’ joke. Seriously.)
Enjoy your research!
A nice find as I wandered around the Internet this morning.
Jane Yolen is one of the most prolific and lauded children’s writers of our time. She has written more than three hundred books including many picture books and middle grade novels in a variety of genres and worlds of her own imagining. Her awards are many including (from her website), “the Caldecott Medal, two Nebula Awards, two Christopher Medals, the World Fantasy Award, three Mythopoeic Fantasy Awards, the Golden Kite Award, the Jewish Book Award, the World Fantasy Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Association of Jewish Libraries Award among many others.” She is also a generous supporter of other writers, often speaking at conferences, teaching, and maintaining a lengthy For Writers page on her own website.
My favorite Yolen book is one that seems to be out of print called The Wild Hunt. It’s one of my favorite winter reads and a story that I come back to…
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RESEARCHING YOUR NOVEL
Don’t Let Them Get You
Writers Forum member Jennifer Levens has written both historical and contemporary novels. At our March 11 meeting, she speaks about research as it applies to historical novels for accuracy, and to contemporary novels for dates and accuracy of methodology. Levens explains how to avoid the problem of readers who write to the author about the slightest inaccuracies in a novel, or even worse, readers who put the book down unfinished and move on to another author. She will explain how to avoid this by using meticulous research to identify reliable primary and secondary sources. Jennifer Levens is a Master of Education who also holds a degree in English Literature. She is an actress, director, musician, writer and teacher who has been writing most of her life, and thinks making people laugh is the highest form of therapy.
The meeting is this Saturday from 10:30am-12:30pm at All Saints Episcopal Church in the Memorial Hall. Doors open at 10:00am so that we can get started promptly at 10:30am. All Saints Episcopal Church is located at 2150 Benton Drive, Redding, CA.
See you there!