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August 1, 2019

​Bob Newell is a retired electrical engineer, a graduate of the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and was formerly a registered professional engineer, certified project management professional and senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers. He completed a long and successful career in the utility
business and in government. Bob returned to creative writing after a long hiatus, and has published two novels, a short story collection, and numerous other stories in local anthologies. He serves as an officer of the Hawai`i Chess Federation, is the founding member and leader of the Hawai`i chapter of the Jane Austen Society of North America, and leads and participates in
several writing and critique groups. Bob also directs scholastic chess tournaments on O`ahu and judges scholastic debates. Bob has a great interest in foreign languages and has studied over a
dozen of them, including Hawaiian.
And the talk title and summary:  What You Can Learn From Writing in Another Language  (even if you don't speak another language)
During a recent trip to Paris, Bob Newell wrote 52,000 words of the first draft of his French-language novel, 'Le dernier couple.' Bob will summarize his approach, experiences, and results in carrying out this effort, and will provide some surprising insights about how such an endeavor positively influenced his ability to write in his native English. Bob will generalize these insights so that they will hopefully be useful to all, whether or not you speak another language or ever intend to write in anything but English.



ATTENDANCE: Bob Newell, Vicki Whelan-White, Doris Chu, Kent Reinker, Gail Baugniet, Laurie Hanan, Rosemary and Larry Mild, Deb Kissenger, Katharine Nohr, Rose Tiegarden


  1. SINC HI NAME: Many of the chapters have a name for their group like – Cloak& Dagger (NM), BuckEye Crime (Ohio), Capitol Crimes (Sacr) Marine Clambake Mysteries (Maine) Coastal Cruisers (Santa Cruise)  -- What should we name our Hawaii Chapter?

  2. ELEANOR TAYLOR AWARD WINNER: 2019 winner of the annual Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award is Jessica Martinez of Orcutt, CA. Her novel-in-progress features Teia Santiago, a police detective whose father-in-law blackmails her into kidnapping a textile manufacturing heiress—who also happens to be her sister-in-law

  3. KAUAI CONFERENCE: Reminder - I am excited to tell you the Kauai Writers Conference has just published its complete general conference schedule, including 48 sessions over three days, November 8-10, 2019. The conference is preceded by intensive four-day Master Classes, running each day November 4-7. You can see the schedule by visiting Kauai Writers Conference and selecting “Schedule” at the top of the page. This year’s conference has already confirmed, among other distinguished best-selling authors, Paula McClain, Christina Baker Kline, Greg Iles, Geraldine Brooks,Tony Horowitz,  Lisa Wingate, Meg Wolitzer, Mark Kurlansky, Tea Obreht, Nicholas Delbanco, Richard Bausch and Whitney Scharer. Our growing 2019 faculty of fiction and non-fiction writers is regularly seen on the New York Times best-seller list and count among their many awards and honors: the Pulitzer Prize, fiction; the Pulitzer Prize, national reporting; Orange Prize for Fiction; National Magazine Award; O. Henry Prize; National Book Award (finalist); The Pushcart Prize; Overseas Press Club Award; PEN/Malamud Award, to name just a few.

    1. We’re pleased to present members of Sisters in Crime-Hawaii  with a discount of 20% on both the general conference and master classes on various aspects of the craft. The event also offers one-on-one sessions with literary agents, editors and publishers.

    2. The “business” of writing is also a significant part of the Kauai Writers Conference. Writers can schedule individual sessions to pitch their work and get personalized critiques from 14 literary agents and publishing professionals. There are conference sessions on navigating today’s publishing landscape, working with agents and publishers, exploring alternative forms of publishing, book-to-screen adaptation and more.

    3. Your group members can review all master class and conference sessions by visiting  Kauai Writers Conference. Remember to take advantage of the 20% writing group discount by entering WG789 on the check-out page. Your members can also arrange for a phone/online chat  with our staff who can help fashion a conference schedule and book agent/publisher meetings most appropriate to their needs.



  • Writing Fiction in Another Language Bob Newell August 21, 2019

  • What this presentation is about Writing in another language (obviously)

  • What this taught me about writing in our own language What the larger lessons were How you can make use of this (without going to France)

  • What Did I Do, and Why? Wrote (most of) a novel in French Le dernier couple, un roman historique et romantique

  • About 52,000 words in three weeks, with 20,000 to go (for next time) A bit like NaNoWriMo only in French Why? Because I wanted to. More later. Exercise: What is some outrageous writing thing you’ve always wanted to do?

  • Bob Newell Writing Fiction in Another Language August 21, 2019 3 / 32 A great artistic experience It’s hard to describe just how great an experience it was One of three in my lifetime; another was writing 100,000 words in 30 days to draft From This Day, From This Night (Oh, the other one? Being sound recordist for the opera Amahl and the Night Visitors) Exercise: What have been your great artistic experiences?

  • Bibliothèque Sainte Geneviève à Paris About six hours per day, five days a week, for three weeks. Home away from my home away from home.

  • An Inspiring Enviroment Traditional Desks and Lamps Looks a bit crowded?

  • A Serious Atmosphere We do better when surrounded by others who are also serious about their work.

  • Language learning tips You need to learn vocabulary and structure Get a good book and, you know, study Make sure the book has accompanying audio Start listening to radio and television When you’ve progressed somewhat, read newspapers Use the language. No excuses. No fear. No embarrassment. Exercise: Relate a language learning experience. How did it work out

  • Obviously you need at least some facility B2 or C1 for reading; C1 for writing (I’ll explain) B2 for speaking and listening (less of an issue) Read a LOT of fiction beforehand in the target language

  • The CEFR levels (1/2) C1: Effective Operational Proficiency The ability to communicate with the emphasis on how well it is done, in terms of appropriacy, sensitivity and the capacity to deal with unfamiliar topics. Example: CAN deal with hostile questioning confidently. CAN get and hold onto his/her turn to speak.

  • The capacity to achieve most goals and express oneself on a range of topics. Example: CAN show visitors around and give a detailed description of a place. B1: Threshold The ability to express oneself in a limited way in familiar situations and to deal in a general way with non-routine information. Example: CAN ask to open an account at a bank, provided that the procedure is straightforward.

  • Going about it Don’t think in English, that’s deadly, but .. Don’t stop if you don’t know a word, put in a marker and maybe an English word Don’t stop to correct grammar. Put in a marker. Look it up at night or some other time. Il faut avoir confiance!

  • A surprising way to learn about writing in your own language Greatly enhanced ability to focus A non-native language requires concentration This increased ability to concentrate spills over

  • The need to plot and plan carefully If you don’t know where you’re going, the barriers will be enormous Given slower writing speeds, there isn’t time to ’pants it’ Daily goals measured against the outline or plan are useful in limited time environments

  • Awareness of language Don’t know how to say something? Find another way, but . . . You realize you might be able to say something five ways in your own language, but only one in the second language You become more aware of nuances in English when you search for them in French Exercise Communicate the concept “I went to the store” in several ways.

  • Possibilities In French I’d say “Je suis allé au magasin” or “Je suis allé à la boutique” But that’s all that comes to mind . . . In English?

  • A Deadline Enhances Effort I knew I only had limited time I had to meet that schedule There wasn’t going to be a second chance Try putting yourself in a situation where you have to produce! Exercise: How do you do with deadlines?

  • Concentration Because of the deadline, because of the environment, I was serious Little time for social media, candyland games, etc. Didn’t even obsessively check email What a difference it makes! Exercise: What distracts you when you work? What can you do about it?

  • Regular Schedule Early lunch at 11 Went to bibliothèque around midi Left around 18:00h

  • A Regular Work Pattern Pomodoro method, with modifications, worked for Work and Break Intervals A bit intense: 30 minutes work, 2 minute break - close eyes 30 minutes work, 5 minute break - stretch 30 minutes work, 2 minute break - close eyes 30 minutes work, 15 minute break - go for coffee Exercise: What’s your work pattern?

  • Rewards and Relaxation Something worth waiting and working for! Exercise: What are your rewards after a hard day of work?

  • Deep Work’ Concept You can explore these ideas further with this book and an internet search for ’deep work.’

  • The value of doing something new and different Write in sonnet form Write a flash piece in an unaccustomed genre Write a short piece of fan fiction Write something in Hindi (or some other), even if just a sentence or two Do NaNoWriMo (obligatory advertisement) Exercise: What can you add to the list?

  • Doing Hard Stuff Self-Confidence and No Limits Proving to yourself that you can Your only limits are the ones you set on yourself Exercise: How have you limited yourself in the past?

  • Takeaways Organize your work patterns Look for new ways to think about things — force it! Get out your list of crazy stuff Challenge yourself Make a plan, not a wish Then DO IT!
























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