Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go. ~ E. L. Doctorow

Friday, September 23, 2011

ATTN: NaNoWriMos!!

Hi all! I just wanted to update you on Pennwriters upcoming online course.



**********  PERMISSION TO FORWARD GRANTED  **********

Pennwriters Inc. brings you...

PREPPING FOR NaNo with SUSAN MEIER: Online Course

INSTRUCTOR: Susan Meier
DATE: October 1 – October 31, 2011

REGISTER: http://tinyurl.com/PennwritersCourse201110
   (LIMITED CLASS SIZE. Enroll now.)

COURSE DESCRIPTION:
Everybody believes NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, which runs every November at http://www.nanowrimo.org) is a race against the clock, a fight with procrastination and inertia. In some ways it is. But once you’re in the thick of things, you’ll discover NaNo is really all about ideas. Writers don’t stall because they’re lazy. Writers stall because they don’t know what to write next.

The month BEFORE NaNo, get proven tips from Susan Meier—the author of almost 50 books for Harlequin and Silhouette—and let her take you through several different ways to examine the story you want to write, to capture the natural scene possibilities within your idea, to generate new ideas, and to push yourself through the most grueling, but fun, month you will spend this year! Lessons include:

* The List of 20 (How to generate ideas quickly so you have little downtime when your natural ideas run out)
* Turning a “Want” into “Need” (How does knowing why you’re writing this book provide you with both energy to write and ideas for your story?)
* The One-Paragraph Story Summary (Say it succinctly…3 kinds of one-paragraph story summaries: back cover blurb, core story question, and growth paragraph)
* Could, Might, Must and Should List (How to capture ideas that spring up naturally)
* Storyboard Versus Synopsis (Breaking your idea down into manageable bites)
* The Psychology of Pushing through the Hard Times (What to do when you get stuck)
* The Psychology of a Draft (Push, push, push!)
* What Are You Doing in December? (Editing tips)


Discover how to get the most out of NaNo and write a publishable novel. LIMITED CLASS SIZE. Enroll now.

REGISTER: http://tinyurl.com/PennwritersCourse201110

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR:
Susan Meier is the author of over 45 books for Harlequin and Silhouette and one of Guideposts' Grace Chapel Inn series books, THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS. Her books have been finalists for Reviewers Choice Awards, National Reader's Choice Awards and Cataromance.com Reviewer's Choice Awards and nominated for Romantic Times awards. Her book, HER BABY’S FIRST CHRISTMAS won the traditional category in the 2009 More Than Magic contest. HER PREGNANCY SURPRISE, her first release for the Harlequin Romance line, made both Walden’s Bestseller List for Series Romance and Bookscan. MAID FOR THE MILLIONAIRE, MAID FOR THE SINGLE DAD, and COUNTRY TWIN CHRISTMAS are her 2010 releases. Susan loves to teach as much as she loves to write and is a popular speaker at RWA chapter conferences. Can This Manuscript Be Saved? and Journey Steps, Taking the Train to Somewhere! are her most requested workshops. Her article “How to Write a Category Romance” appeared in 2003 Writer’s Digest Novel and Short Story Markets.  Susan also gives online workshops for various groups and her articles regularly appear in RWA chapter newsletters. For more information about Susan Meier, visit http://www.susanmeier.com.

* Subscribe to our announcement list for email on our latest online courses!
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/PennwritersOnlineCourses

*****
* For more information on this course, contact Laura M. Campbell, Online Courses Coordinator.
To mail in your registration and payment, send payment at least one week before the course starts using the mail form at this link.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

NCF Tuesday: 30th Annual Banned Books Week; Glimmer Train Fiction Contest Deadline; Idiot Whisperer

News

Source
Banned Books Speak Out

Publishers Weekly reports on Banned Books Week taking place Sept. 24th-Oct. 1st.   Banned books will be read on a special YouTube channel to support freedom of speech and denounce censorship. Check out which controversial authors are participating in the virtual read-out.

What are you planning to do for Banned Books Week?


What Was That About?

Flavorwire put together a list of 10 classic novels known for giving readers a challenge.

Are there any that didn’t make the list?
   





20 Re-Imagined Book Covers


Which did you like best?










Source
New Yorker Festival-Sept. 30-Oct. 2

Nate Freeman gives readers the writer and celebrity pair-ups at the 2011 New Yorker Festival coming up at the end of September.

Which pair would you like to see?


Contests

FICTION
Glimmer Train Literary Journal
-       Fiction Open; 2,000-20,000 words
-       First Place Prize: $2,000, publication in Glimmer Train Stories, and 20 copies of that issue
-       Deadline: Sept 30, 2011
-       Details here 

Writer’s Digest Magazine
-       Short Short Writing Competition
o   Fiction: 1,500 words or less
o   First Place Prize: $3,000 and a trip to the Writer’s Digest Conference
o   Deadline: November 15, 2011
o   Details here 
-       5-Minute Memoir, “Tales From the Writing Life”
o   Personal Essay (600 words or less)
o   Prize: Publication in Writer’s Digest magazine
o   Deadline: Rolling submissions
o   Details here 

Zoetrope All-Story Magazine
-       Fifteenth Annual All-Story Short Fiction Contest: 5,000 words or less
-       First Place Prize: $1,000, online publication and possible representation
-       Deadline: October 3, 2011
-       Details here

Narrative Magazine
-       Fall 2011 Story Contest
o   Fiction & Literary Nonfiction: 15,000 words or less
o   First Place Prize: $3,250 and considered for publication
o   Deadline: November 30, 2011
o   Details here 
-       Narrative 30 Below Contest
o   Writers 18-30 years of age; Fiction & Literary Nonfiction: 15,000 words or less
o   Prize: $1,500
o   Deadline: October 29, 2011
o   Details here 


POETRY
Writer’s Digest Magazine
-       7th Annual Poetry Awards Competition
o   Poetry: 32 lines or less
o   First Place Prize: $1,500 and a trip to the Writer’s Digest Conference
o   Deadline: December 1, 2011
o   Details here 

Fun
What would happen if Cesar Millan could speak his mind about dog owners? Check out Funny or Die. Enjoy!




Friday, September 16, 2011

Found: Worthwhile Writing-Specific Posts


Sunset sets sky on fire in Tullytown, PA

Tonight I plan to enjoy the after-rain fall sunset, laugh at myself, float in my Placebo kind of mood and write. I found a few writing-specific posts I wanted to share with you.

1. Improving Craft: Check out Jeff Gerke’s article on taking your DIALOGUE to the next level: publishable:



 2. Writing Reboot: Rachelle Gardner offers advice to writers looking to make writing goals:



3. Blogging: Michael Hyatt helps you cut down blog-writing time with an easy-to-follow list. 






4. Deciphering Rejection Letters: Nancy Martin guest post at The Blood-Red Pencil unravels the subtext in rejection letters from agents to help you improve your writing:



5. Dear Series Writers: Would you tackle a spin-off? Elizabeth Lynn Casey discusses the pros and cons of writing a spin-off.







Tuesday, September 13, 2011

NCF Tuesday: Amazon E-book Lending; Writing Contests; Break-Up Quotes


News

Source
Amazon the New Library?

Lauren Hazard Owen with paidContent covers the early stage of Amazon’s venture into e-book lending. Similar to Netflix and a library, the service would be made available to their Prime members. The venture leaves more questions than answers at this point.

Do you think e-book lending through Amazon will create problems?


Source
Interview with Haruki Murakami

Enjoy Haruki Murakami’s interview as The New Yorker’s fiction editor discusses his novel 1Q84 (hitting U.S. shelves in late October) and the excerpt, “Town of Cats,” available online and in print.

The setting of 1Q84 is 1984, and Murakami struggled with the lack of technology. Have you faced similar challenges when dealing with settings in your stories?
   


Source

Vintage Dust Jackets

Check out these vintage dust jackets for novelists Virginia Woolf, William Faulkner, J.D. Salinger, etc.

Which one is your favorite?


Source
New Yorker Festival-Sept. 30-Oct. 2

Nate Freeman gives readers the writer and celebrity pair-ups at the 2011 New Yorker Festival coming up at the end of September.

Which pair would you like to see?



Contests

FICTION
Glimmer Train Literary Journal
-       Fiction Open; 2,000-20,000 words
-       First Place Prize: $2,000, publication in Glimmer Train Stories, and 20 copies of that issue
-       Deadline: Sept 30, 2011
-       Details here 

Writer’s Digest Magazine
-       Short Short Writing Competition
o   Fiction: 1,500 words or less
o   First Place Prize: $3,000 and a trip to the Writer’s Digest Conference
o   Deadline: November 15, 2011
o   Details here 
-       5-Minute Memoir, “Tales From the Writing Life”
o   Personal Essay (600 words or less)
o   Prize: Publication in Writer’s Digest magazine
o   Deadline: Rolling submissions
o   Details here 

Zoetrope All-Story Magazine
-       Fifteenth Annual All-Story Short Fiction Contest: 5,000 words or less
-       First Place Prize: $1,000, online publication and possible representation
-       Deadline: October 3, 2011
-       Details here 

POETRY
Writer’s Digest Magazine
-       7th Annual Poetry Awards Competition
o   Poetry: 32 lines or less
o   First Place Prize: $1,500 and a trip to the Writer’s Digest Conference
o   Deadline: December 1, 2011
o   Details here

Fun
Peruse the break-up quotes from famous literary works. Enjoy!




Friday, September 9, 2011

Remembering a Bright Star


I received a text message from my father late Wednesday night asking if I would like to go with him to VA to visit my grandmother. During the past couple of weeks, her health began to decline. Hospice gave her morphine to alleviate the pain. We stopped by Chesapeake Home for Adults yesterday for a visit. Then, a phone call came early this morning letting us know she passed away. Instead of blubbering on, I am reposting a piece I wrote about my grandmother back in February.


Saving My Grandmother From Alzheimer's

What is a memoir?  An autobiographical account of one aspect of a person's life.  Not the author's entire life.  Peter Bricklebank, a published author and teacher, prefers the term personal narrative over the memoir.  A person doesn't need to be "a ripe old age" to write a personal narrative.  The term describes the reflection of an "on-going story" of life.  

Bricklebank's perspective helped when I took Smith magazine's Six-Word Memoir challenge.  I didn't know what I wanted to write about.  Trying to pinpoint a moment of my life to chronicle was like trying to pick my all-time favorite book or song.  There's just too many to choose from.  

So, as an ongoing story of my life I chose the relationship with my paternal grandmother.  It's my attempt to fight her Alzheimer's disease by writing everything I can remember about her down.  Very few of my childhood memories exist without her.  Coming to grips with her disease has been difficult.  To lose my grandmother and still see her alive kills a little part of me every time.    

Her memory is almost completely gone.  The sadness constantly drags me down, leaving me in darkness.  In the summer, my family visits our hometown of Virginia Beach.  We take some time during our visit to see my grandmother at her nursing home.  She is constantly on the move.  Walking laps around the home.  Sneaking into resident's rooms.  Stealing things she's convinced are hers. 

Finally, we get to her take a break.  My dad talks to her, but she struggles to construct coherent sentences.  She looks at us.  The pain squeezes my heart. Her eyes pass over me without recognition.  This loving woman, whose pride in me was unparalleled, no longer knows who I am.  We take a few pictures.  

I sit quietly.  Words die inside me.  I don't know the woman standing in front of me anymore than she knows me.  I'm afraid to go near her.  What if she freaks out?  

I want to lay my head in her lap as she brushes my hair.  I want to turn the TV on and watch our soap General Hospital.  I want to grab the classifieds, jump in the car and peruse all the yard sales.  But I can't and we won't.  There's a keypad lock for both front doors of the nursing home.  She isn't going anywhere.       

The older I get the more powerless I am to the fear the disease will claim me as one of its victims.  I want to get everything in my head out before it's lost forever.  The six-word memoir is just the beginning.  My plan is to capture my story of Ernestine M. Campbell in a full-length memoir to share with my family and friends.  So, when she can no longer remember we won't forget.  

So, here's the beginning of my journey into the past.          

Grasping on to Grandmother's disintegrating memory.

Ernestine and Jack Campbell
Lovers despite confining color barriers. 



Share your Six-Word Memoir with me.  What aspect of your on-going story can you express in six words?



Bricklebank, Peter. "Longer Nonfiction: The Personal Narrative or LIterary Memoir." In The Portable MFA in Creative Writing, edited by Michelle Ehrhard, 113. Cincinnati: Writer's Digest Books, 2006.
  

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Insecure Writer's Support Group:Overwhelmed



Source


My road trip to Boston at the end of August arrived just in time to relieve me from the constant head banging on the wall between me and my writing, blogging and freelance career. The permanent knot on my forehead, bald patches and a jaw that clicks every time I open my mouth has transformed me into a monster you might catch in the dark alleyways of Gotham City.

I overdosed on advice in writing magazines, on writing-related websites and blogs. If you peek through the windows, you catch me wandering around the house strung out, too jittery to sit down at my laptop. As an information junkie, I hoarded writing techniques, strategies and prompts. I shoved them into every available space in my writing toolbox, reminding me of an overly prepared-style of packing. Overstuffed. I would sit on the lid to force it shut if it weren’t for the motivational quotes spilling over the sides keeping me from latching the damn thing.

Then I come across an article contradicting the notion blogging is an effective marketing tool for fiction writers. Does that mean I don’t HAVE to blog? Because that is exactly how it feels. It feels like I HAVE to write a blog to build my platform. The whole process is joyless.

In the beginning, I enjoyed the few blogs I followed. I made great writing friendships and found support on days when I wanted to jump into an empty grave and wait for someone to throw the dirt on me. Then, my list of followed blogs grew. My friendships circle widened. My time for blogging had to be shared with more people.

The worst part?

Completing the mandated blog visitations to drive traffic to my site, coming up with topics to post about and writing the posts put so much pressure on me that I stopped writing my fiction. The writing life I was building dictated when I needed to make myself available for public consumption. I felt the control slip. The paranoia started to sink in. It felt like my skin was burning from the magnifying glass held by all the readers hovering over me. “What is she doing now?” “She didn’t finish her story?” “This post reads like something she might’ve pulled out of her ass.”

Keeping up with the blogosphere was one of the major roads to making it as an author. Then the thoughts of not writing anymore swirled around me. Riddle me this: how does one build a writing platform, but not produce any writing?

My instinct? Cut and run.

So, I did.

I went to Boston to see family, take naps and drink good beer. I pushed writing out of my mind for as long as I could. My anonymity felt restored. That is until I got back home and everything I left punched me in the face the minute I sat down in front of my laptop. And I found myself in the exact same place. Pissed, confused, unhappy and unproductive.


Check out the posts from other writers below.




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