Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Get to Know that Allusive Character

Happy Wednesday, Literati!

I stumbled upon this interesting writer's tool this morning, and thought that I'd share. It's definitely fun reading what other writers have put out there. Soooo if you've got a shy character who you just can't figure out, perhaps this site can assist! Writing is such a solitary torture activity, so when writers come together, it can truly be an invaluable asset. If you're lucky enough to be part of an awesome writing group (as I am), then you know what I mean! If you're a writer and aren't part of a critique/beta group, my advice? Find one! Go to conferences, get involved with your local writing community and/or writing orgs/chapters, or find an online community, trust me, your experience will be priceless and your writing will improve. I cannot express this enough, it is important for writers to get critical feedback, and family members and best friends do not count! (Hops off soap box, spills oatmeal...seriously, I really did just spill oatmeal all over myself. Nice.)

Anyway, check out the link below and let us know if you post one of your characters up there!

Flesh Out Your Fictional Character on Reddit

Happy Reading and Writing!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Non-Fiction. That is All.

Hello Literati!

Can you believe we're already a couple weeks into March? It's incredible how quickly the days go by. I am, however, happy to report that I did bust out of my Writer's Block. (Freeeedom!) It just took scraping twenty two pages, but hey, whatever works, right? Things are better this way, right? Right? ... (insert cricket chirps here) ...

So, I've been tackling a horrible case of insomnia lately (let's face it, if it's not Writer's Block, it's something else!). Earlier this week, said insomnia led me to open my Netflix queue at 10 p.m. and browse. I came upon a movie that I've always wanted to see, and decided it was about time to give it a shot. The movie? Capote. I know, I know! How have I not seen this movie before?? What?!? How could I? The horror!! 

I won't review the movie here (it was good, enough said), but I will say this, it got me thinking about non-fiction. What I've always found fascinating is how the non-fiction novel, when compared to fiction, is like...well, a newborn baby. For those unawares, Truman Capote's book, In Cold Blood, is considered to be the first work of non-fiction ever published. The book was published in a four-part series by The New Yorker in 1965. That's right, 1965! See? Non-Fiction, a baby genre. Consider fiction for a second, with the first stirrings of the genre being discovered as early as 2000 BC. And stories such as The Illiad and The Odyssey were recorded in 8th century BC. 

Yeah, let that sink in.

Why did it take so long for the birth of a non-fiction story? I have no idea. There are some critics who will site other works as non-fiction, but it's widely agreed that Capote's book was the first non-fiction novel. 

I don't read a lot of non-fiction, but of what I have read, I've enjoyed. If you are new to non-fiction, I'd suggest In Cold Blood, but if you're not one for gory details, check out another one of my favorites, The Catcher was a Spy. And there's always Into Thin Air, which was excellent! How about you, is there a non-fiction book you'd recommend?

In the spirit of Capote, I've taken up a book I've had for a couple years and have yet to read: The Devil in the White City. It's more of a creative non-fiction novel, but so far it's incredibly interesting! So if you're a fiction junkie, maybe next time you're browsing through Goodreads, or trying to figure out what to read next, take a look at something non-fiction, it may surprise you!

What non-fiction books have you read and loved? Or are you devoted to fiction and simply refuse to read non-fiction? Let us know!

...And as always, Happy Reading and Writing!

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Infinite Colossal Wall of Obstruction

We've all been there.

Having a desire to accomplish something - a dream, a goal, getting through a Monday...but then you run into it: The Infinite Colossal Wall of Obstruction. It may be made of brick, cement, a fence running with high voltage electricity...whatever you picture this wall's materials, its sole function is to keep you from accomplishing your intended goal. 

Writer's refer to it oh-so lovingly as Writer's Block.

And right now, it has me walled in! The Wall has me locked within its tight embrace. There are no windows, no light, and no air in this metaphoric cell of brick and mortar.

I was hoping to tug out the unfortunate plot belly my current novel is experiencing. I need to add action, some suspense, a little more mystery (it IS a YA Historical Mystery after all!). So I know what I MUST do, I just have no idea HOW to do it. Not that I've never suffered from plot belly before, but in the past I was able to do a few crunches and voila! But not this last week/weekend. No amount of exercise or evading to other creative outlets (tutu for daughter - check, sew new dress for daughter - check, finish knitting scarf for Mom - check, make ABC books for my kids - check), nothing, NOTHING would permit me to scale that electric fence of definite Writer's Block. (Yes, my wall is brick, covered with electric fencing, and some other alien technology that blasts me with lasers should I attempt to escape.)

I usually find that writing prompts aide in hunting down my snarky muse. But not this time. My characters abandoned me. Ice cream didn't help either. Looking at nice big houses in Santa Barbara did nothing for me. Nor did packing up my sister's stuff for her big move to San Antonio (not that it would, I'm not writing a tragedy here). A small part of me DID, however, blame a certain show that failed to air a new episode this week...but I digress.

What tools do you turn to when you find yourself stuck in a pit of dreaded Writer's Block and your muse is being elusive? Is there a trick you revert to when you're trying to finish any project and just can't find the motivation? What do you turn to for that swift kick in the rear? What are your secrets for breaking down The Wall?

I'd love to hear what works for you, and as always, Happy Reading and Writing!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

March Madness

Move aside basketball, because 2013's March Madness doesn't center around dribbles or exaggerated falls; but instead, centers around the massive amount of writing contests! I couldn't believe how many contests are out there this month!

I've listed some of the plethora of March Writing Contests below, but a simple Google search will bring up even more opportunities (Search: Writing Contests)! Let us know if you're entering any of the contests! 

Deadline: March 31, 2013
Fee: $22
Prize: $2500
Submissions: Shorts, Essays, and Novel Excerpts

Deadline: March 31, 2013
Fee: $0
Prize: Review from an agent, plus $5000
Submissions: Fiction

Deadline: March 31, 2013
Fee: $22
Prize: $1000
Submissions: Short Story or Novel Excerpt
**This contest is only for writers 45 years and older.***

Deadline: March 31, 2013
Fee: Membership
Prize: $2000
Submissions: SEVEN Categories to choose from! 

Deadline: April 17, 2013
Fee: $25
Prize: $1000
Submissions: New, never published story up to 1200 words.
**Writers must have at least one child under the age of 10.**

As always, check out Miss Snark's First Victim and Glimmer Train for recurring contests!  Best of luck and Happy Writing!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Five Biggest Regretted Rejections

Hello Literati!
This weekend my awesome husband shared this link with me and I'm passing it on to you! Today is my  little guy's birthday, so I leave with the link to this article.

Check it out, Five Hilarious Reasons Publishers Rejected Classic Best-Sellers.

Happy Reading and Writing!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Where Were You Fifteen Years Ago?

It was a time before you heard of the magics and wonders of another world.

Before you knew the story of a hero, friend, and warrior...

And (gasp!), you probably didn't even know what quidditch could possibly mean!

Yes, fifteen years ago you hadn't yet met the scarred hero or his team of misfits. Terms such as Dumbledore's Army, butterbeer, squibs, muggles, Azkaban, and mudbloods would've sounded alien. 

But not today.

Fellow Literati, Harry Potter celebrates 15 years of publication this year. Isn't it amazing how quickly time flies by? Where's a time-turner when you need one?!?

There is too much to write just one article on the awesomeness of Harry Potter, so I'll stick to just a few things.

First, Harry's getting a new cover! (What!?) Yes, Bloomsbury is celebrating by giving the book a new look! Click here to check out the Sorcerer's Stone's new cover and to read more about the change. I think that the art is much better than the original, which I didn't much care for (though I will admit it has certainly become quite iconic!).

Second, and this is for all those aspiring authors out there, remind yourself of these numbers when you're feeling uninspired, when you receive a rejection, when a beta reader scoffs at your prose, or whenever you're just feeling downright miserable because you've made the insane "choice" to be a writer - 7, 8, 15: Seven books, eight movies, fifteen billion dollars (the amount of which the Harry Potter brand is worth, and yes that was a B, as in BILLION). Oh wait...not those numbers, THESE numbers: 12, 500, 450: Twelve rejections, 500 initial printed books, and 450 MILLION copies actually sold. 

So don't give up on your writing, 12 people rejected Harry's story, and many more may reject your protagonist's story. But you know it's an important story to tell, and you know people will enjoy it, keep the good fight!

Congratulations to J.K. Rowling, an amazing author, creator, and artist who changed many writers' lives on that fateful train ride on which Harry was conceived. I cannot wait to read the series to my kids and there is no doubt in my mind that the Harry Potter books will remain a favorite among humanity for a very, very, very long time!

What are your thoughts on the new art work? Let us know in the Comments! :)

Happy Reading and Writing! 

Monday, February 11, 2013

What do Lunches, Snark, and Sharks Have in Common?

Happy Monday!
The start of a new week always offers a fresh start. Today I wanted to discuss three websites of which I think every writer should be aware. They each offer a different service, but are equal in their awesomeness.

1) Publisher's Lunch

I receive this newsletter just about every day during the week. You can get the "snack" version for free, or pay for the full lunch. It's basically a newsletter that lists how many publishing deals have been made, any big moves (agents joining new agencies) or news in the publishing world, and any open jobs in said publishing world. If you opt to buy the deluxe lunch version, you get the details of every publishing deal made on the previous business day. 

2) Miss Snark's First Victim

The Authoress is the host of this site and she is amazing! She dedicates to much of her time to helping other writers find agents. She hosts several Secret Agent Contests each year, where entry is completely free, and a secret literary agent reviews all entries, giving his/her feedback on each one. Also helpful, are comments by her followers on each entry. Not only does she hold these incredible contests, she interviews agents, offers news from the publishing world, and gives a little info about her struggle on getting published and tid bits about her daily rituals.

3) The Query Shark

I know I've mentioned The Shark on my blog before, and I've had the pleasure to actually meet her face to face last year (Yay!). If you've never visited her site, go now. Like, right this minute and just return back here later. You must read through all the queries she has posted and study them carefully. This is a must if you're getting ready to send those query letters out anytime soon. Before you send anything, spend hours at this site!

That's it for today, kids. Check out those websites, even if you're not a writer, the first two may grab your interest as one who loves reading, books, and words. If you like to review people's works and comment, Miss Snark's First Victim site is perfect for you! 

As always, Happy Reading and Writing!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Power of Writing

There is something amazing about books.

It's something that we may not think about each time we crack open a book, or turn those e-readers on, but the power of words is incredible.

They can start conversations; they can start wars.
Books can bring people together, and tear people apart.

This past week in Burma, a revolution took place - a Literary Festival. 

Burma has a dark history, but we won't go into that here. It is, however, important to note that Burma isn't known for independence, especially freedom of speech. Most citizens have never been exposed to any books other than censored classics approved by the government. Political prisoners are by the dozen and many include poets, authors, and artists.  Famous political prisoner and Nobel laureate and author, Aung San Suu Kyi, was the patron of the festival. Known for her outspoken opposition of the Burmese government and sentenced house arrest for the last 20 years, Aung said of the importance of reading, "[Reading] gives you a chance to understand how other people think, and what kind of experiences other people have been through," she said. "And it also helps you to cope with your own life." 

The festival, no doubt, was a giant step in Burma's attempt towards freedom of her people. Authors from all over the world came together to give workshops and just discuss the written word. What an amazing feat, in a nation that has been blemished with wars and restricting her people to even the smallest of freedoms - books. It seems indeed that the word is mightier than the sword.

What can we learn from the extraordinary people of Burma? For one thing, if you're a writer, you should feel extremely fortunate to have the freedom to write whatever you want, whenever you want. If you're a reader, feel fortunate that you can read whatever you want whenever you want. But I think we can learn something else. With the invention of social media, text messaging, even email, we've lost something: Conversation.

Obviously we all converse, and we have deep meaningful discussions, but where did the days go when people gathered to discuss literature? Unless you're a sophomore in high school, or a current English major, you probably don't participate in a group of open literature discussion. I would love to sit around, sipping on tea and eating tarts, and just discussing today's literature (or lack thereof). And attending a three-day literary festival??? Wow! That would be awesome! 

What are your thoughts on social media's impact on literary discussion? Do you agree with me, or do you think that today's innovative technology allows for more discussion? You may point out that through this blog, we've engaged in a sort of conversation around literature, and you'd be correct. But I often think of Lord Byron's "get togethers" where he'd bring writers to his villa and they'd discuss books and even have writing contests (at which Frankenstein was born), and I think about how I should do something like that! And why not? Maybe we can all throw our own mini literary festivals! (If you do throw one, you have to let us know!)

Is there a current bestseller you'd like to discuss? How about the influx of books being turned into movies? There are discussions to be had! Go out there and have them! Spread the word! 

And to all you writers out there, take the advice of 17 year old Aung Zin, the winner of the Burmese Literary Festival Contest, who said, "Don't be afraid. Just write."

Happy Reading and Writing!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

2013 Goals and...Oh Yeah, I'm Back!

Happy 2013, Literati!

Okay, yes, I realize I'm a little late...but I'm back, Baby! (Tell your friends!) Where have I been? Somewhere between Wonderland and Mordor. I could blame my excessive workload, or my lack of blog-ivation, or just that life has a crazy way of actually getting in the way. For the plethora of reasons and excuses, I apologize. I'm now equipped with a new computer and I'm here to stay! Where is here, exactly? I've started a new project that I'm beyond excited about and I'm now armed with a list of 2013 goals to which I fully intend to accomplish this year. 

Let's talk about that: Goals. We all have them, and if you're, ahem, like me then you've written said goals somewhere and admire every few days. I'll be the first to admit that it's hard to reach your goals, there's the issue of motivation (lack thereof), not enough hours in the day, and just a long list of things you'd rather be doing (like eating ice cream and watching < insert guilty pleasure show here >). But now is the time! If not now, then when? 

So we're all in this together! Team huddle over here! Go grab a piece of paper and a pen, we'll wait. Okay, if you prefer using technology to create your lists, grab your phone or open a Word document, anything to jot down these five things: 2013 Goals. 

Now, they don't have to be grand ambitions, one of my goals for 2013 was to learn to knit and knit something (check, and check). Go ahead, give it some thought and record five realistic objectives. Here are mine:

1. Finish Current Project
2. Enter Three Writing Contests
3. Blog At Least Three Times a Week
4. Take a Krav Maga Class
5. Get an Agent

With that completed...It's time to introduce a new series! < Dances like robot > That's right, you knew I was going somewhere with this, right? ... Right? From here on out, Fridays will be known as...Friday Forum: < Topic >. We'll have posts covering inspiration, motivation, tips on accomplishing those five goals you just recorded, the evils of Pinterest (I love you, Pinterest), status reports, and more. 

I'd love to hear what your five goals are! Share them in the comments, or keep them to yourself, all that matters is that you know what they are. And this is the year to accomplish those objectives! No more excuses. (Come on, it's 2013 and you still haven't read To Kill a Mockingbird, etc.)

Thanks for sticking around! There is so much stuff in the literary world, just waiting to be discussed, so hang on tight, we are in for some intellectual colloquy and amusing antics! Don't forget to share your goals in the comments, and as always...

Happy Writing!

My trusty grammar source: