"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island." - Walt Disney

Friday, December 30, 2011

Amy Tan – Finding Meaning through Writing

While most people know Tan’s name from the movie made from her book The Joy Luck Club, Tan has written numerous fictional and non-fictional works. In this video she discusses how she finds meaning in what she does and what offers her inspiration.



I wish everyone a safe and Happy New Year. May you find your own meaning and inspiration. Happy Writing!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Last Chance for 2011 Submissions

A few last submission opportunities for 2011:

1.)    MISSOURI WARRIOR CONTEST - http://mowarriorwriters.wordpress.com/
NO ENTRY FEE - The Missouri Warrior Writers Project, in partnership with the Missouri Humanities Council, is pleased to announce a contest and call for submissions for its national anthology of writing by veterans and active military service personnel of Afghanistan and Iraq about their wartime experience. This experience includes deployments and those who have never been deployed. Transition back into civilian life
is also a topic of interest for this anthology. The contest will award $250 each to the top entries in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. All entries will be considered for publication in the anthology. Prose limited to 5,000 words. Poetry limited to three poems or five pages. Deadline December 30, 2011. (NOTE: nothing said about applicants being from Missouri.)
2.)    FREE FALL MAGAZINE - http://www.freefallmagazine.ca/pdfs/proseSubmissionguidelines2010-2.pdf
Canada's magazine of exquisite writing. Submission deadline December 31. Prose limit 3,000 words to include fiction, nonfiction and plays. Poetry limited to 2-5 poems, any style. Each poem limited to a max of six pages. Pays $10 per printed page up to $100.
3.)    FRANKLIN-CHRISTOPH POETRY PRIZE –
http://www.franklin-christoph.com/Writing/PoetryContest.html
NO ENTRY FEE  - Award $2,500 in total prizes, including the $1,000 cash grand prize. 10 Merit Award Winners will receive $150 Franklin-Christoph writing instruments. Deadline December 31, 2011. Original, unpublished poem of any theme. Limit of two entries per contestant. Entries should not exceed 100 lines each.
4.)    Finding My Faith – A Chicken Soup for the Soul publication: http://www.chickensoup.com/form.asp?cid=possible_books
Whether we consider ourselves to be Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu or any other religion, our belief in a higher power directs our lives and our thoughts. Everyone's "faith story" is different. Some of us find faith late in life. Others lose their faith after a tragic event or spiritual dry spell, only to rediscover it through a divine nudge. Faith can appear quickly or build up over time. It can hit us like a sledgehammer or whisper in our ear. It can show up in a miracle or in an ordinary event. However faith arrives, it is life-changing and powerful. If you have an inspirational personal story of finding your faith, we want to hear from you! The deadline date for story and poem submissions is December 31, 2011.
5.)    ANGELS AND DEVILS POETRY COMPETITION
http://hollandparkpress.co.uk/magazine_detail.php?magazine_id=124&language=English
NO ENTRY FEE - You are asked to write a poem of no more than 30 lines about family relationships. You can write in English or Dutch. We are looking for poems that look at one's relatives in an original way; we are especially interested in poems that use a personal experience to create general empathy. The author of the winning poem will receive £100 plus the winning poem will be published in our online magazine.
Because we invite entries in Dutch and English, two poems will be awarded the first prize, one English and one Dutch poem. For the benefit of our English readers the winning Dutch poem will be translated into English and published in both languages in our magazine. Limit 30 lines. Deadline December 31, 2011.

Monday, December 26, 2011

After Christmas Reflections

The presents have been opened, leftovers reheated and eaten, family and friends are preparing to head home, and my kids are still flying high from holiday cheer. Christmas, celebrating the birth of our Lord, has always been my favorite time of year. It is even more special now as I watch my children enjoy themselves. Two and four, they are filled with the excitement and wonder I remember feeling as a small child.
My youngest crawled in bed with us at about six Christmas morning and promptly fell back asleep. We snuggled until her older sister came in an hour later shouting “Santa was here! He already came and the stockings are so full they fell to the floor! Get up! Get!”
Through a sea of wrapping paper we all played with dolls, read books and tried on new clothes.  I feel so very blessed to have my friends and family. I can’t imagine life without them. They are my most prized gift.
I hope you were also able to enjoy many special moments filled with love and that those moments only continue and grow into the new year.
What were some of your favorite moments and gifts? What are you most looking forward to now?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Merry Christmas to All!



A Very Merry Christmas to all my readers! I’m spending the week with friends and family. Even if you don't celebrate the religious festival, I hope you can enjoy a relaxing and creative time. Thank you for reading at least some of my blog posts this year, and contributing to some very interesting discussions. Thank you for being a valued reader of Writing in Wonderland.

What will you be doing this holiday?

Friday, December 16, 2011

A Writer's Wish List



Are you Christmas shopping for the writer in your life (or for yourself ;-)? Gift suggestions for writers include:

1)      Journals with witty covers: “I avoid clich├ęs like the plague”.
2)      An oversized coffee mug.
3)      A gift card to an office supply or book store.
4)      A box of chocolates.
5)      Shirts with messages such as: “Careful or you’ll end up in my next novel.”
6)      Pens, pencils, ink cartridges, paper etc.
7)      One of my favorites this year is the Writer's Clock (pictured above), available from Linda Rohrbough.

While all seven of these would be nice, there are some things that are guaranteed to put a smile on a writers face.

The Gift of Time – Writers value uninterrupted time and a quiet space in which to work. Daily demands such as grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, childcare, and a regular job all take away from that time. Wouldn’t it be nice if a spouse, friend, or older child took over even one of those chores? Anything you can do to free a few hours so the writer can devote themselves to their craft will be a highly treasured gift.

The Gift of Encouragement – It’s important for writers to be surrounded by a spouse, family, and friends who support their writing. Even one person who rejoices when you succeed and comforts you when you fail can make a big difference. This gift requires so little from you, but gives so much to the writer.

The Gift of Expertise – In today’s technology driven world, anyone who can understand computers and other electronics AND offer aid are great assets to writers. Trouble shooting, installing and updating software, managing reader databases, websites and blogs and even help with email are all welcome in a writer’s house.

The Gift of Mercy – Writers are always looking for someone to comment/critique on their writing. Many people feel they are doing the author a favor by pampering him/her with praise or just the opposite: to be as critical as possible. If you want to be truly helpful, provide HONEST feedback by pointing out both strengths and weaknesses. It is the only true way to help a writer take the next step to publication.

Are you getting the time, encouragement and expertise you need to realize your writing goals? What’s on your wish list this year?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Movies about Writers and Writing

As writers, we spend most of our free time either writing or reading. Sometimes it’s nice to just relax with a good movie and a bowl of popcorn. Perhaps you’re looking to do so, but want to stay with the writing theme. Whether you are a poet, novelist or playwright there are plenty of movies out there for you. Below are eleven movies in my collection (I actually have several dozen writing related movies, but for your sanity, I just picked these ;-).

1)      The Shining - This film combines the talents of Stanley Kubrick and Stephen King to bring to life the madness and personal creative hell of writer Jack Torrance. This is good to watch when suffering writers block.
2)      Misery - Beware of Number One Fans! This film strikes fear into the heart of every serial novelist out there, with Kathy Bates playing a crazed fan unhappy that her favorite writer has decided to kill off her beloved character.
3)      Secret Window - Don’t go to an isolated cabin in the woods to finish your novel – trust me on this one!
4)      Finding Forrester - A teenager from the wrong side of the tracks befriends a reclusive writer played by Sean Connery. This film explores the sometimes tumultuous relationship that develops between a teen writing prodigy and a reclusive author.
5)      Finding Neverland – Johnny Depp is playwright J.M. Barrie who during the writing of his play, Peter Pan, befriends Sylvia Llewelyn Davies (Kate Winslet) and her young sons, who inspire the story. Have Kleenex handy – this one’s a tear jerker!
6)      Quills – Learn more about the banned books and suppression faced by the notoriously scandalous writer (even by today’s standards) the Marquis de Sade. WARNING – extremely explicit language and graphics.
7)      Shakespeare in Love – This film won an Oscar for best picture for its sad depiction of writing success in the face of lost love and sacrifice. Pain is often the catalyst to some of our best writing.
8)      Miss Potter - While today we regard Beatrix Potter’s cute animal tales with admiration as children’s classics, in her time she had to struggle against family, prejudices and unwilling publishers to find success, as you can see in this film.
9)      Deathtrap - written by Jay Presson Allen.   Based on the play by Ira Levin.  Directed by Sidney Lumet. Sidney Bruhl (played by Michael Cane) is a famous writer of mystery plays but hasn’t produced anything good for awhile.  When he reads a play by an old student (played by Christopher Reeve), Sidney instantly recognizes it as a surefire hit.  He cooks up a theme to invite his student over, murder him, then steal the play as his own.  But when the student finally arrives, things are far from what they seem.
10)  Dead Poets Society – One of the most memorable and moving tales about a teacher sharing his love of writing with his students.
11)   Capote - This depiction of writer Truman Capote garnered actor Philip Seymour Hoffman an Oscar for his performance and will have viewers both fascinated and repelled by the lengths Capote goes to in order to ensure he gets the story he wants.

To see a more detailed list, 200 Movies about Writer’s and Writing: http://www.susantaylorbrown.com/movies.html

What are some of your favorite movies about writers and writing?

Friday, December 9, 2011

Book Review: The Visionary - By Pamela S Thibodeaux

If there really is a just and loving God, how can he allow us to suffer agonizing situations? Pamela Thibodeaux’s newest book, The Visionary, is a story of healing after suffering from horrific abuse.
Twins Taylor and Trevor Forrestier move to Lake Charles, Louisiana in hopes of a fresh start. They establish T & T Enterprises, an architectural and interior design firm. Trevor’s strong sense of obligation as well as his ability to balance work and family time for his employees makes him a loved boss and friend. Taylor has a kind heart and the visions she receives while working on a project have earned her the esteem of industry professionals who call her “a visionary with an instinct for beauty and an eye for the unique”.
The twins appear to be confident and successful business associates. They enjoy a close personal as well as professional relationship – something normal for fraternal twins. Or is it? Each remains haunted by the abusive childhood they fled from, a murder, unresolved pain and shame. One turns to God, the other away. The reader will watch each twin find romance, but freedom from the past isn't without a price.
A pulse at the base of her skull began to throb and familiar vibrations stole over her. She had no choice but to ride out the sensations and buried her face in her knees. What ensued was no vision, but a nightmare. Like the din of bees around a hive, the low drone of voices thrummed in her ears. Evil lurked in every corner and assailed her from all angles. The shadows came alive. She began to whimper and crawl around, desperate to find a way out.  The Visionary pages 223-224.

While Taylor is still tormented by night terrors, her ability to move forward with God’s help contrasts her brother’s heart rending struggle as he confronts God. The promise of true love for both brings a new hope into the twins' lives, but the fear of letting others in escalates into dramatic moments of confrontation, with devastating consequences.
Thibodeaux weaves a powerful tale of struggle, faith, and forgiveness; especially the need to forgive yourself in order to heal. Her lovable characters, increasing tension and strong redemptive message make this book a page turner. The message of faith flows into the story without being preachy, just honest and true. Despite the dark subject matter, I found this story to be a book of hope and healing that I highly recommend.

To learn more about this author, please see my previous post.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Author Interview: Pamela S Thibodeaux

Multi-published in romantic fiction as well as creative non-fiction, award winning author, Pamela S Thibodeaux’s writing has been tagged as, “Inspirational with an Edge!” and reviewed as “steamier and grittier than the typical Christian novel without decreasing the message.” Her website: http://pamelathibodeaux.com

1)      How did you develop an interest in writing? I’ve always been an avid reader but never consciously thought about writing until in my early twenties and while pregnant with my daughter who is now twenty-eight. After reading one-too-many disappointing books, I thought I could do better. I picked up a pen and notebook and started writing. For many years I was a closet writer, thinking others would consider me foolish. Then one day my mom read my story ‘Temper Tantrum’ (published now as Tempered Hearts) and she loved it. Of course, moms always love their children’s work, but what sealed the deal for me is that she, an avid sports fan, read it instead of watching the football game that day. After her, my brother (also an avid reader) read it and was impressed. Those two affirmations helped build my confidence and encouraged me to come out of the closet LOL!

2) Please tell me a little about your blog. I started my blog http://pamswildroseblog.blogspot.com/ after signing my novel, The Inheritance with The Wild Rose Press’s White Rose line (now White Rose Publishing). Until then, I’d blogged occasionally for another site but didn’t have my own. Since, I’ve made this my main blog where I talk about what’s going on in my life as well as host other authors on blog tour and/or with my Saturday Spotlight feature. I also participate as a Clash of the Titles blog alliance blogger – where their clashes and winners are spotlighted.

3) What other styles do you write? I write inspirational romance and women’s fiction although, no category romance (Love Inspired, Heartsong Presents, etc). I also write creative non-fiction in the form of poems, articles and essays.

4) Is this a hobby or do you plan to make a career from writing? My idea of a ‘career writer’ is one who makes a living from his/her words. Therefore, I’m way past the hobby stage but not quite a career writer. However I plan to continue writing as long as God gives me the stories.

5) What authors do you admire? Although I enjoy many books, my favorite fiction authors are Nora Roberts & Francine Rivers. I’m also a huge fan of spiritual/inspirational non-fiction from authors such as Max Lucado & Marianne Williams.

6) What music, places, people inspire you? Other than rap and heavy metal I appreciate just about any type of music but am a huge fan of Christian & Country. I enjoy people and try to appreciate and connect with everyone I meet. Places vary as I love nature (beaches, parks, mountains) but one place that inspires me the most is Bandera, in the hill country of Texas. This is also where my Tempered series is set.

7) What do you do when you have writer's block? Pray, take a break, walk away for a while. Whether personally or directly related to the story - writers block normally indicates a disconnect from the Holy Spirit in some area of my life.

8) How long did it take you to write your current MS? The original draft of The Visionary took 4 months to write and under normal circumstances the first draft of a full-length novel, takes approximately 6 months to complete. Depending on what else is going on in my life, a short story can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. Articles and essays can take 30 minutes to several days.

9) Are you part of a critique group or writer's guild? Yes, I am the co-founder and a lifetime member of Bayou Writers Group http://bayouwritersgroup.com in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

10) Have you ever attended a writer's conference? Yes, I’ve attended several but my favorite is BWG’s annual Bridge to Publication conference.

11) When working on your current MS did you complete an outline first or did you just start writing? Like most of my novels, The Visionary was initially written in long-hand in a five-subject notebook. A 100% SOTP writer, I’ve never outlined a book. I simply sit down and write. Sometimes I’ll get a scene and jot that down, but most of the time I write in chronological order. At times I think I’d love to plot out everything in advance (even loosely) but I’ve found even writing the synopsis first makes me cringe.

12) What is your writing process like? Mornings are my most productive time of the day. When I’m actively working on a project, I write – anywhere, any time and as much as I possibly can. Like many, the story holds me captive until the first draft is done. During these instances, I may eat and sleep only in snatches. However after that first rush, I take things a lot more slowly and weave in details and description. When I’m not actively writing, I’m usually editing or promoting my work or working on a paid editing/promotion project for another author.

13) Do you have an editor or agent? No, not at this time.

14) Would you care to share your opening paragraph (hook) with us?

First the blurb: A visionary is someone who sees into the future, Taylor Forrestier sees into the past but only as it pertains to her work. Hailed by her peers as “a visionary with an instinct for beauty and an eye for the unique” Taylor is undoubtedly a brilliant architect and gifted designer. But she and twin brother Trevor, share more than a successful business. The two share a childhood wrought with lies and deceit and the kind of abuse that’s disgustingly prevalent in today’s society.  Can the love of God and the awesome healing power of His grace and mercy free the twins from their past and open their hearts to the good plan and the future He has for their lives?  Find out in…The Visionary ~ Where the awesome power of God’s love heals the most wounded of souls

Chapter One (opening scene): Taylor Forrestier awoke with a muffled scream. Her feet tangled in the bedcovers when she tried to bolt, and she landed on the floor with a thud and a whimper. She kicked free of the sheets and blankets then crawled into a corner. Eyes wide with horror, she tried to make sense of the shadows that danced around her, to separate the ones in the room from those in her mind. Her heart thundered. Breath escaped in short pants. She drew her knees to her chest, took several deep breaths to keep from hyperventilating, then closed her eyes and rested her head. Shivers overtook her slender frame. A sob escaped. Oh, God, would the nightmares ever cease, the ghosts ever rest in peace?
            Resolve straightened her spine. Eyes still closed, she inched her way to the bedside table. Her hand trembled when she turned on the lamp. The light forced darkness from the room, but only one thing would push it from her mind. Agility born of fear drove her to her feet. She fumbled into a sweat suit, socks and tennis shoes, scraped her hair up into a ponytail, then fled.

The Visionary is now available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.


Please check back on Friday when I’ll post my review of this book.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Joint Book Signing

I've let blogging and other social networks take a back seat this past week while I catch up on some deadlines. Yesterday I enjoyed some time with a friend, Laurie Kolp, at our joint Book signing. Both Chicken Soup for the Soul® books came out earlier this year.



Laurie Kolp wrote "Signs of David" in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Devotional Stories for Tough Times. This story was inspired by a spiritual experience she had when dealing with a good friend's suicide. This book meant to inspire and support readers in times of need - from illness, addictions, job loss, grief, and much more. Hopefully, readers will find encouragement, solace, and hope in these personal stories and prayers.

I wrote “Feeding the Soul” in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Just for Preteens. This is the story of my personal experiences feeding the homeless in Beaumont, Texas while attending Junior High. Being a preteen can be difficult for the child, parent and anyone else living with them. School is more challenging, bodies are changing, relationships with parents are different, and new issues arise with friends. This book is meant to help readers as they navigate those tough preteen years from ages 9 to 12. It's a support group they can carry in their backpack.
Laurie and I enjoyed our time visiting together, meeting readers and other writers and signing our books.
Have you ever been part of a book signing? What was your experience like?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

PASSED or PAST?

I recently received an email about edits and then the same topic came up with a student I am tutoring. I realized this is a common issue and wanted to share. Here is an excerpt:
Dear Sylvia,
I've been working on edits from my publisher…It's hard for me to argue word usage, when they've changed a word to something else, because I'm not always sure about it. But I'm pretty sure I've been using the word PASSED correctly, and they've been changing it to the word PAST.
Here's an example: ...she couldn't come passed a certain point to my house…So, is the word PASSED, or PAST?

This is actually a common problem and I'll do my best to explain the difference.
Passed - refers to a physical location or object in the past tense. ex. "The weeks passed quickly", "I passed my exams" or " "I just passed Elm St."
Past - refers to a location in time or space. ex. "My house is the one just past the church", "The ball sped past me" or "In the past, standards were higher".
So, ... ”she couldn't come passed a certain point to my house” should be PAST. However, you might consider switching the sentence around to make it more active.... "I would not allow her to pass..." or some such. Of course since I'm seeing this out of context, you will know best what works for your text. I hope this helps
Have you found yourself facing this problem? What other words or usage gives you pause when writing?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Book Review: The Christmas Village - By Melissa Ann Goodwin

If you’ve ever wished to escape to simpler times when villagers gathered in the town square on Christmas Eve for celebration and companionship then The Christmas Village is the book for you. Combining traditional storytelling with the excitement and suspense of a sci-fi parallel universe, Melissa Ann Goodwin provides a children’s book the entire family can enjoy.
After his father abandons them, 12 year-old Jamie Reynolds and his mother leave home to visit his grandmother in Bell’s Crossing for Christmas. The town only provides minimal respite as the terrible rumors about his father follow him there.
One night, Jamie’s mother shares the story of his grandmother’s Christmas Village; a town named Canterbury where it is 1932. Later alone, Jamie is drawn to the village when he hears voices coming from it. He is soon catapulted into the village where he must face trials and the dangers of both nature and men.
Goodwin creatively fills the reader’s senses with the heartwarming sights, sounds and smells of a traditional Christmas; pine trees, burning wood in the fire place and apple pie. These are later replaced with disturbing images from a musty, dark, cold warehouse where danger waits. 
A surprise ending left me satisfied and smiling. I highly recommend this book and look forward to other tales by this talented author.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Author Interview: Jenni Merritt

Jenni Merritt, originally from a tiny island called San Juan off the coast of Washington state, now lives in Oregon on the outskirts of Portland. Her book Prison Nation will be released this December.
Prison Nation is a YA dystopian, about a young girl who was born and raised inside a city sized prison. On her 18th birthday she is released, only to find the promises she had always believed in are far from what she thought they would be.
To learn more about Jenni, please read the interview below or visit her blog http://jennimerritt.blogspot.com/ you can find her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jennimerrittwriting and Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/JMWriting
1)  How did you develop an interest in writing? I can’t remember a time I didn’t write. My mom told me that when I was three I would sit at the dining room table and make up stories. I would ask how to spell a word, like “cat,” then proceed to ask what a ‘c’ looks like. I have been lucky enough to always be surrounded by people who support my writing mania. I guess I never had a choice. Writing chose me.
 2) Please tell me a little about your blog. I have been blogging for almost two years now (JenniMerritt.blogspot.com) though I didn’t actively make regular posts until a year ago.  Now I am on a three-post a week schedule, and addicted to it!
 3)  Please tell me a little about this MS. There are many things that helped grow this idea (Prison Nation). The main source of inspiration though comes from a close friend, who was put through a very hard time in his life and is still dealing with the outcome. It made me think. And thinking makes me write.
 4) What other styles do you write - genre novels, poetry, articles, memoirs etc.? I have a first draft of a YA paranormal hiding in a “drawer” right now, waiting its chance to be edited. Along with that, I am working on a YA Fantasy… about shadows. I used to write poetry, and keep meaning to get back to it, if these book muses ever give me a chance.
 5) Is this a hobby or do you plan to make a career from writing? I absolutely love writing. If I could make this a career, it would be my dream come true. Right now I am writing for the sole love of it, and can’t wait to see where it takes me.
 6) What authors do you admire? So many - Terry Goodkind and Orson Scott Card take the cake. I also admire JK Rowling, Stephen King, and a close friend of mine who is a self-publishing maniac, Keary Taylor.
 7) What music, places, people inspire you? I normally listen to groups such as Dashboard Confessional, Linkin Park, and Dave Matthews Band. Yet the book I am currently writing for NaNoWriMo 2011 is all instrumental music. Each book demands its own soundtrack, and I just have to bend to its will. As for places… my desk. I live in a small apartment, and have claimed our dining room as my writing den. Above my desk I have letters that spell “WRITE” and framed certificates of my NaNoWriMo wins. How can I not write when I see that?
 8) What do you do when you have writer's block? I whine to my husband, surf Facebook, Tumblr and bang my head on the desk. No really, this is one of my hardest struggles. Lately I have found the best trick is to just skip the section that is blocking me and move onto something, anything, that will let me write it. The great thing about editing is you can always go back to add things. But you have to write something first!
 9) Have you submitted anything yet? Even a letter to an editor, written for high school publications, other blogs etc? I went the query route with Prison Nation for a bit. Got some good responses, but no line and sinkers. Thank goodness for the great creation of CreateSpace. I am looking forward to self-publishing, but still plan to attempt the agent world with future novels.
As for other submissions… back in high school I always submitted works to our literary magazine.  But that was some time ago. Oh, and there was the small piece I submitted to your blog Lost Warmth..
10) How long did it take you to write your current MS? 30 days. No, really. I wrote Prison Nation as part of the NaNoWriMo 2010 challenge. I hit the 50k word count on November 14th, then finished the first very rough draft by the end of that month. Then spent a year editing the bajeebers out of it.
 11) When working on your current MS did you complete an outline first or did you just start writing? I am a major pantser. I got the rough idea, jotted down my opening sentence, then let the novel write itself. This works pretty well for me, though sometimes I do have to stop and have a serious conversation with my characters about where they are taking me.
 12) What is your writing process like? I am a stay at home mom of two very energetic little boys. I would love to spend all day writing, but that is just impossible. Normally I try to squeeze in some words when the younger of the two is napping. Most times I write after they are put to bed. My husband seems to like this arrangement: it gets him his guilt free video gaming time. My main drive is doing word wars and write shoves with friends. I need a little fire under my butt.
 16) Do you have an editor or agent? My editor is me, myself, and I. Oh, and my awesome beta readers. I am currently un-agented, but look forward to the day that that changes!
 17) Would you care to share your opening paragraph (hook) with us?
My name is Millie 942B.
Next week is my eighteenth birthday. And I dread it with every fiber of my body.
I guess my name might seem pretty strange to someone who doesn’t know the world I live in. ‘942’ is the cell number I was born and raised in. ‘B’ is the floor level of which my little cubicle resides. It is a symbol of my existence. I have no brothers. No sisters. Only a silent father and a state-proclaimed unstable mother. And it is because of them that I am here.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!


It's the week of Thanksgiving in the United States. I'll be spending the next few days with friends, family and finishing several projects. I hope you all enjoy a wonderful holiday full of good times.

Here are ten reasons I'm thankful to be a writer.

What will you be doing this week?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Golden Sky - Giveaways and Book Review

The Golden Sky, a memoir by Elisa Hirsch, will be released tomorrow and is a must read.
Published under the name EC Stilson, this book is a journal she began at the age of nineteen when she had a baby and another on the way. Told she carried an infant with extreme defects, Elisa began to research all avenues open to her and her child.
The author takes us on a heart wrenching journey as her second child struggled to overcome many health obstacles. Elisa openly shares the raw emotions of losing both this child and her husband in the grief that follows.
This journal is an honest look at how one woman struggled with her faith, family and the strength to continue after extreme loss. Now the mother of four, she has decided to share this tale. Her message of hope through the length and depth of the mourning process will certainly aid any family struggling with similar experiences.
I highly recommend this book not only to fans of nonfiction, but as a healing balm to anyone struggling with any type of loss.
For more information about this book or the author, please read the previous post.

Congratulations to Jenni Merritt who has won a copy of this moving tale!
For an opportunity to win a free ipad2, please visit the author blog before November 20th.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Author Interview: Elisa Hirsch

Elisa Hirsch, author of The Golden Sky which releases this week, has graciously agreed to give away a copy. This book is a journal she began at the age on nineteen when she had a baby and another on the way. Her second child struggled to overcome many health obstacles. Elisa lost this child and soon after separated from her husband. This journal is an honest look at how one woman struggled with her faith, family and the strength to continue after extreme loss.
To enter for a chance to win a copy of this extremely moving tale:
A)    Become a follower of this blog if you are not already.
B)    Leave a comment with your email.
C)    Check back on November 17 to read my review of this tale and see if you’ve won.

1) How did you develop an interest in writing? I first started writing in fifth grade. My hamster, Harriet Hop-n-stop, got stuck in the ventilation system, and after my brother saved her, I decided it was an epic tale of love and hope.  Being the little rascal I was, I named it “A Daring Tail.”  (Not the most original--I know--but still a fun memory.)
2) Please tell me a little about your blog. I’ve been blogging at www.ecwrites.com since January 2011.  I started blogging on a dare because one of my best friends didn’t think I’d be able to write an entertaining, funny, embarrassing, or sad story each day for a year straight.  So far, she’s lost the bet, and I might get a free lunch next year; all I can say is it better be Mexican.
3) What styles or genres do you write? I write non-fiction (memoirs) as well as YA and MG fantasy.  Two of my short stories will be published in a Christmas book called “Christmas Lites” that is coming out this December. 
4) Is this a hobby or do you plan to make a career of writing? Writing started out as a hobby eight years ago, but now I’ve quit my clothing business (which I owned and operated for five years).  I have since decided to pursue a career in writing, and try helping families who have suffered from the loss of a loved one.
5) What do you do when you have writer's block? When I have writer’s block, I drink strong coffee, listen to loud music and read the part of my memoirs that were hardest to share.  Somehow reliving the good times (or the bad times) brings my emotions to the surface and I find it easy to write again.
6) How long did it take you to write your current MS? “The Golden Sky” is my journal from nine years ago.  It was the hardest time of my life.  It took me six years to re-read it and two more years to revise.  But the novel is raw and real; it came from my soul and I think that’s part of what makes it priceless to me. I was a nineteen-year-old with a baby and another child on the way.  When my son died, I started the journey of a lifetime and that shows through every page.
7) What is your writing process like? I write every morning. I make sure to get up at 5 am, otherwise my four kids make it impossible to write. My son hides papers in the vents and my girls try dancing in my peripheral vision.
8) Do you have an editor or agent? I have two editors and they are absolutely amazing. One helps with plots and the other helps with grammar. I am so thankful to know both of them.
9) Would you care to share your opening paragraph (hook) with us?
Being pregnant isn't the greatest thing since sliced bread. On the days I don't feel like I have Alzheimer's, I'm like Hercules journeying from Hell. Here I am at the age of nineteen, with a seven-month-old girl and another kid on the way.

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Bridge to Publication – BWG Conference

I had the opportunity to attend the Bayou Writers Group conference yesterday. What an amazing shot of adrenaline to the writing muse!
I arrived early and gave a pitch to literary assistant Anita Mumm. She was incredibly encouraging, asked questions about my MS and requested the first 30 pages. I’m so excited!
I know how difficult it is to get published. She told the conference members her agency received roughly 35,000 queries last year and only signed six! She also shared some very helpful tips about writing queries and proposals. She is the gatekeeper at Nelson Literary Agency. Poorly written queries or manuscripts do not get through her to the agents. While some complained it was impossible to summarize a complete book in only two or three paragraphs, she replied: “Even War and Peace has a blurb.” She encouragess you read the blurbs on the back of books to practice.
D.B. Grady, correspondent for The Atlantic, is an inspiring speaker with a talent for sharing the serious side of the business and then making you laugh. “To write is a sacrifice. When you write, you write alone…Don’t wait for inspiration to come to you, you make it.” He suggests writers must be both an artist and a businessman. "Very rarely does an author write, format, publish, design the cover and market a book all alone. You need a partner."
He is the co-author of Secrets: What You Need to Know About What You’re Not Supposed to Know with Marc Ambinder of National Journal (John Wiley & Sons) which will be released in 2012. His debut novel, Red Planet Noir, won the 2010 Indie Book Award for Science Fiction.

Mark Harris, columnist for Entertainment Weekly, has been writing about pop culture since 1985.  “No one likes a writer who says the same thing. Look for subjects that have the potential to surprise you and the reader.” He went on to explain that if you write about something you wouldn’t normally, you will learn a lot about your critical thinking and how you judge. “Don’t be afraid to risk being wrong.”
All three speakers agreed the most important thing a writer can do, besides write, is to read – not just what interests you, but a wide array of popular as well as literary fiction and nonfiction. Grady suggested reading John Updike and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Mumm suggested Jeffrey Eugenides and Robin McKinley. Harris recommends Graham Greene, Flannery O'Connor, Anee Lamott, Sue Grafton, Raymond Chandler and Michael Chabon.
Meeting all three of these individual was a true pleasure. They were gracious, engaging and very willing to share of themselves.
What have you enjoyed most about the writing conferences you have attended? If you feel you don’t have the time or money to attend one, please check out my “For Writers” page at the top – there is a list of FREE writing conference opportunities.