"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.
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 Original, unpublished poem of any theme.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.
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?