Monday, December 29, 2008

Follow This Blog

Be the first to follow this blog! or the second or the third...

One of the challenges I've personally faced as a blogger is tracking down all the cool writerly people that I've found on-line. So Blogger promises it's easier to keep track of your favorite blogs with this dandy little widget. We'll see.

In the meantime, if any of you are using it (or something like it), drop me a line. How's it working for you? Are you keeping in better touch w/ the blogging world?

Or are you just picking up stalkers?
Note: The Follow Blogger Widget is on the left hand side bar. Just click Follow!

Book Roast: Taking Reservations

When some of the biggest names in the publishing world blog, writers not only listen, drool, and work fiendishly on their query letters, but they also peek at the Net World that the Agent/Editor/Scotch Drinker in question links to. At least this one does.

Among others, Bransford and Moonrat have given a shout out to Book Roast. Not only does the site review books and then invite authors on board to answer questions, but they give away free copies of the books. So it's like a free promotional for authors AND a sneak peek preview for readers.

This would have been posted much earlier, but I got lost reading some of the excerpts posted on the site. My only complaints are that I'm not seeing a deadline for entering each contest (By nosing around, I think you have to actually comment on the day of the author visit) and the fact that November & December seem a bit skimpy. But then, holidays are demanding.

And authors? They're taking reservations. Jump in and get roasted.

New Authors? Gnooks Got 'Em

The feedback concerning new authors via comments and emails has been illuminating. So many of you want to support new authors -- buy their books, blog their success, and give them kudos (the non-icky, non-stalker kind) -- but there doesn't seem to be a slick, cohesive, convenient way to find them. At least not that we've found. So far. (Do contact me if you discover one.)

Although this isn't the answer we're looking for exactly, fellow blogger and word crafter extraordinaire, the other lisa of The Paper Tiger, blogs about a cool on-line tool called Gnooks:

According to the site: Gnooks - Welcome to the World of Literature! Gnooks is a self-adapting community system based on the gnod engine. Discover new writers you will like, travel the map. of literature and discuss your favorite books and authors.

So I tried it and it's pretty cool. It's not what we're looking for, I don't think, but it's good for an hour or so of entertaining exploration. There's even a feature for finding new authors you might like. When asked to type in three authors I like, I gave them Katherine Neville, Lois McMasters Bujold, and Edgar Rice Burroughs. I was given Ann Benson. (Not to be confused with Anna Benson, the American model, former stripper, and wife of Major League Baseball pitcher Kris Benson.) A quick google search reveals the literary Benson to be more closer aligned with Neville than the other two, but who am I to grumble? Woo hoo: new author Ann Benson, here I come!

An interesting addition: When I typed in Courtney Summers, it didn't recognize the name. So it asked me to verify spelling. Then it asked me if I wanted to submit the name for review. I clicked yes. The awesome thing is that the site doesn't just accept whatever name you submit. It then puts it up for review to the next site-comers, and everyone gets a chance to vote. Is this a real author?

So, try it out. See if we can get Courtney Summers on the play list. Explore and see if it really works, or if it's just yanking our chains. And keep an eye out for new authors. I want a list!

Friday, December 26, 2008

New Book Timeline: Poo Poo No More

There are those who poo-poo the idea that a new author's row to hoe is difficult. Nope, no names. That would get me into poo-poo trouble.

But it occurred to me that a simple post would do the trick, provided it was well-written, down-in-the-dirt honest, and gritty with that kind of real world earnestness you can't fake.

You see what kind of trouble I'm in? Yeah, me too. But then it occurred to me: I didn't have to write it myself. So, no worries, then!

Without further ado, here is THE TIMELINE, written by Aprilynne Pike, author of Wings.

(The cover was so pretty, I couldn't resist tacking it up -- even though it has nothing to do with this post.)

New Author First Book Challenge

If you're a new author, email me. Seriously.

I want to buy your book.

If it's not out yet, no worries. I'll still put your name in a hat.

See, it's all part of a diabolical plan to rid my shelves of pantywaist books and to fill them with uber goodness. Failing that, I just want to support new writers. (OOOhhh, that sounded super cynical for Boxing Day or post-Christmas hours or the Day After Christmas or St. Stephens's Day or whatever you celebrate. It's truly not intentional...Well, maybe a little of it is. But it's not directed at new writers. It's mostly directed at Publishing Companies who expect the new ones to publicize themselves these days. Tough row to hoe, I say.)

I'm also open to devoted followers of new authors dropping a name in the bucket. (Um, no sir, I have no idea why you'd think I was talking about you. Cyber-stalking? Why, I never mentioned it!)

Anyway, I'm buying three "firsts" and I'm challenging you-all to do the same. We can twitter away about our reading experiences, write ravishing book reviews, and post pics of book covers galore. It'll be fun.

Come On! What are you waiting for?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

First Annual Hated Book Give-Away Details

Because this is the first annual and much lauded Hated Book Give-Away, I thought I'd better go over some of the finer points. Expectations, being what they are, exist only in my head. Do as you wish, since Free Will Matters, and join in only if you please.
The Three Non-Rules to the Hated Book Give-Away:

1. Tell me you want a much hated book via email or commenting. Please include the title of the preferred book (first draw gets first pick, of course). If you win, I will mail you the book before the end of January. Yeah, I'm cool like that.

2. Even if you don't want one of my books, pick out three of your own (recently purchased) hated books and put them up for giveaway on your site/blog/twitter/road sign. Then let me know so that I can participate and possibly win.

3. (This is my favorite part) Commit to buying three new books from three new authors. If you're a new author with a new book coming out (first book only, please), email me or leave a comment and I will buy your book. (If more than three contact me, your name will be put in a hat along w/ everyone else's and -- in a most fair and equitable manner -- I will draw out the winning three.)

So, if you haven't figured out what the three books are yet, despite the many clues located on this blog, here they are in no particular order:
1. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead (paperback)
2. Succubus Blues by Richelle Mead (paperback)
3. Artemis Fowl: The Time Paradox by Eoin Colfer (hardback)

Let the games begin!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Why I'm Blue on Christmas Eve

The love of my life, the darling of my heart, the sunshine in my day, the sparkle in my eye -- who was supposed to visit for Christmas -- had to move far far away. Instead of playing with my nephew and showering him with Christmas gifts and chocolate and love, I have to settle for pics. I am blue and sad and pouting and barely holding back the indignant tears.

This one just came in this morning. Isn't that a face you'd gladly hock your house for?

The First Annual Hated Book Give Away Teaser

The Christmas Spirit must be infecting me, because while I was procrastinating this morning I stumbled upon the most perfect idea I've had in a long time: a book give-away to celebrate the coming New Year.

Three Thoughts Inspire My Altruism:

1. Not only are my bookshelves full, book boxes line my basement, and stacks of books threaten to topple and squash the cat, but I possess three books in new condition that I despise.
2. I whole-heartedly believe in supporting the profession I someday hope to belong to.
3. New authors face a tough row to hoe.

So, here are the Rules:

1. I have three books (to be revealed tomorrow, if you haven't already guessed their titles).
2. All you have to do is email me or leave a comment that says, "I want a stupid book."
3. I will draw three names and mail a coveted book to each name, using a super-secret and uber-fair drawing mechanism.

Here's the Challenge: Whether you win or lose, participate or turn up your nose, you can replicate this good holiday cheer on your own blog. (After all, I might win one of your books!)

1. Pick three of your own hated books.
2. Hold a drawing.
3. Pass on your yucky titles and participate in a new holiday tradition!

Tomorrow:Titles will be revealed & the flip side of the giveaway coin will be discussed.

Delusions of Immortality

I don't delude myself often. I actually call myself a Realist, Sunny-Side-Up. What does that mean, precisely? I don't quite know, but it sounds better than a happy pessimist, so I'm going with it.

Anyway, back to delusions: I have this YA novel that I've set aside for about two years. I decided last week that I'd make all those final revisions over Christmas break and get it "ready" for sending out. It's time. My current WIP can wait, and indeed it has been, most patiently.

The problem? It's taking much longer than I thought possible. Twenty-four pages in three days. That's not going to break any records or even allow me to finish before the end of break. Here's the scary part: this time-heavy revision isn't because the writing sucks or the plot's shaky. (Well, I suppose that's for future readers to determine, but I do tend to be rather hard on myself, so I think I'd recognize that if it were the case.) I'm enjoying the process immensely, in fact, and but it seems that I'm spending far too much time staring into space and thinking. Drat that thinking, anyway!

The epiphany: As I contemplate word choice and scene tweaks, it suddenly occurred to me that 'real authors' -- you know, the ones who have published a bajillion books...or even just one -- are really no different than you or I. (Where's the connection between those two activities? I don't rightly know, but that's the randomness of my thoughts these days.)

From childhood, I've looked up to those who write as the demi-gods and goddesses who walk the Earth. They are other-worldly, deigning to spend time here because it amuses them to do so. My aspirations to write were always with the understanding that I was an outsider, didn't possess the right blood, and certainly didn't have the correct scholarly brow. I was ok with that. I knew I was an impostor, but the act of writing fulfilled me in a way nothing else had. I only wanted to craft stories; I didn't want to belong to any elite crew of immortals.

Spending time on the blogs of literary agents, editors, editor assistants, and yes, even authors, has given an insider's look that until now has always been pretty nigh unto impossible. It was a little earth-shaking to realize that, wow, we're all human. No immortals walk among us.

So, right now, I'm staring out the bay window into a winter wonderland. (No wonder it's hard to concentrate on revisions.) And I'm thinking: I'm thankful for all my blogging buddies who have committed to the long open road of writing, the one with pot holes and rain and dead ends, the one with brilliant bursts of sunlight and shimmering rainbows and entertaining detours. Here's to the determination, the loneliness, the camaraderie, the tenacity. Here's to you.

All A-Twitter

So, it's official. I'm twittered. APHW wrote a convincing argument; I took the bait. Follow me if you so choose.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Lost Thoughts: to Sleep Perchance to Dream

I know I'm not the only one: because so many ideas are unleashed at night, I keep a journal beside my bed. Sometimes the nighttime scrawl is illegible, but the idea is to make sure I don't lose anything. After all, those piercing images lose their sharpness after a night of conked out sleeping.

Last night, I'm fairly certain I solved every plot challenge known to man. In fact, that one missing piece of the jigsaw puzzle spun Matrix-like in the air a few breathless moments before plunking perfectly into place, completing my latest WIP conundrum. Like a flash flood, everything else that I didn't even know was missing crashed into place. It was glorious. It was spectacular. It was a dream.

Nothing is scribbled in my journal. No scrap of detail is left floating in my authorial stew this morning. There is nothing but a wispy, fleeting sense of euphoria. I had it all. I held it all. My hands are now empty.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Writer's Digest Fun Prompt: Writing Contest

Every other month Writer's Digest sponsors a "short, open-ended prompt." Your job is to contemplate it for thirty seconds or so and scribble out a short story (750 words or less) based on the prompt. Submit.

Rules as I've scanned them:
  • Winner will be published in the June 2009 issues of Writer's Digest.
  • If you have lots of friends who will jump on & vote for you, you can win. That is, if your story is one of the top five the editors have selected to post on the website.
  • Deadline is January 10, 2009

Prompt for Your Story #16: Three boys decide to go have some fun at the local swimming hole. Shortly after they arrive, something terrible happens.

—From The Writer's Book of Matches (Writer's Digest Books) by the staff of fresh boiled peanuts, a literary journal.

The Time Paradox Post Script -- Spoiler

The Time Paradox: Not only did every couple of pages in the latest Artemis Fowl novel insert comments on pollution, carbon footprints, and evil humans, but the entire plot was shaky at best.

Plot: Artemis Fowl, age 14, had to go back in time to rescue a lemur from being sold by Artemis Fowl, age 10, to a group of animal haters called the Extintionists. (Yes, the plot revolves around a group who were going to kill the last lemur and make it officially extinct.) Artemis, age 10, decides that his father's life is more important than an animal's. He needs the money (100,000) to fund a trip into the Arctic to find his father.

Ultimately, however, we learn that a human's life (or that of a male human) is not worth that of a lemur's -- especially when the brain liquid of said lemur can help save Artemis' mother's life. Oh, no worries. It can be extracted in a non-lethal manner, so the lemur doesn't suffer at all. What a convoluted story.

What about good ol' dad? Doesn't he deserve a rescue? Is there no discussion or thought or contemplation that stealing the lemur means Dad never gets rescued? Nope. Case Closed.

House of Cards: Instead of going back in time and stealing the lemur from a formidable opponent -- a truly intelligent and less compassionate Artemis -- why didn't Artemis aged 14 simply buy the lemur?

Ummm...Let's See:
1. Artemis, age 10, needs money
2. Artemis, age 14, needs lemur
3. Artemis, age 10, has lemur
4. Artemis, age 14 has money

Ummm...Let's Face It:
1. There is no story

Sunday, December 21, 2008

"You are my enemy, human. You are the planet's enemy." The Time Paradox, 166

I am pissy. And restless. But mostly just pissy. Normally, I wouldn't ask you to care or comment on my psychological state, but today is a bit different. It seems that I must continue the Young Adult Novel Rant.
Nestled deep within the Amazon treasure box, another book awaited my perusal. Instead of rushing into the Alex Rider series, I decided to finish off the Artemis Fowl one by reading the sixth book, The Time Paradox.
I love Artemis Fowl. Every drop of his diabolical, devious, and dark-hearted intellect swirls delightedly through layers of comic relief and slap-stick (and, at times, bodily functioned) humor. Colfer masterminds playful romps that instigate shivers of giggles...that can't help but erupt into guffaws. In the sixth book, he brings back Holly Short and Mulch Diggums and (in smaller doses) Julian Root and Foaly. The crew unites for a final escapade that ends with a perfect setup for the first Artemis Fowl book. Oh what finesse and oh what fun, and oh what a joyous play on the title.

So, why am I pissy? Well, it goes back to one of Max's complaints: preachiness. I am sick to death of being preached at, moralized to, and brainwashed into believing how evil humans are.

Whether or not you truly believe that humans are poisoning the planet, hunters are the henchman of Satan, and all planetary ills are caused by men is beside the point. Believe whatever you want. I bloody well care less. But the idea that these beliefs need to be propagated through teen lit is sickening and demoralizing. Why can't we just have a well-written book for fun?

Another giant, oily blemish on the face of teenage literature (that was entirely intentional) is whatever urge compels writers to clumsily smash morals about fairness or honor or other cornball crap onto otherwise fine stories. Do you not think we get enough of that in our parents' and teachers' constant attempts to shove the importance of justice and integrity down our throats? We get it. I assure you, it makes no difference in our behavior at all. And we will not become ax murderers because volume 120 of Otherworld: The Generica Chronicles didn't smother us in morals that would make a Care Bear cringe. --Max Leone
I am saddened that Colfer decided to climb the bully pulpit. It's true that this "cornball crap" has been building since the first A.F. book, but it rose to truly immense heights in this latest novel -- to the point that I will never buy another Colfer book again. Ever. Nor will I borrow one or steal one or rent one or download one.

And no, I do not delude myself that Colfer -- in all of his fame & fortune & Irish holier-than-thou-ness -- will care one iota or change one smidgen. But I will feel better for having voted with not only my pocketbook but also with my personally-funded and -stocked classroom library.

And I will re-focus on meeting Anthony's Max Leone Winter Pledge. After all, what better way to combat preachy lectures and misanthropic angst than to write an edgy young adult novel about strong girls who totally kick butt?

Friday, December 19, 2008

O Happy Day: Amazon Delivered Another Alex

We're an academic and writerly family, both of us English majors and both of us enamored with the written word. What does this mean in the real world? Well, ahem, some days that means that the both of us live in an alternate universe: things like picking up the mail or turning off the back burner on the stove are less important than, say, finishing J. A. Hunter's book or adding the finishing touches to a chapter.

That being said, I cannot say how long Anthony Horowitz's books languished in my post office box. As of last night, however, I have the first three books of the Alex Rider series sitting in my hot little hands. I am so excited that I'm considering canceling classes and making all students read just so I can get started.

Errr, that was a joke. If any parents are reading this, that was a joke. Seriously.

I am obviously out of the loop (by quite a bit, I imagine), since I hadn't realized they'd made Stormbreaker into a movie two years ago! (Like Anthony, no TV for us and few movies.) Another Alex, Alex Pettyfer, starred in it, though I've no idea if it was a decent watch or not.
Anyway, Stormbreaker, here I come!!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Wisdom Squared

Gavin of Mechanical Hamster linked to an Oliver Postgate (1925-2008) May 2003 article that made me ponder, growl, snort, and shake my head all in about three minutes' time. By the end of the piece, I felt like an old fogey, just about 'up to here' with all these young whippersnappers who are ruining the bidness.

What's the problem? The sacrifice of the story for the sell. Or method over content. Or empty snazziness for a jolly good story. However you want to put it.

Even Anthony was grousing about this very subject (though on a usual...)

So how do I reconcile Deaver's "study the market" with Postgate's "be true to the story"?

In my own head, I can marry the two. It feels natural, much like the process of elimination. But am I fooling myself? is it merely justification? how do you meet commerical needs and still tell a good story? or do you?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Jeffery Deaver's Words of Wisdom

The Jeffery Deaver interview in Author Magazine had a few more tidbits I'd like to share. Admittedly, Deaver has a predictable writing style (e.g. figure out the least likely individual in the entire novel to have committed the crime, and you've solved the case), but his Lincoln Rhyme books are always a fast read and a ton of fun.

Besides -- as far as advice goes -- if you hear enough people say exactly the same thing, you start to take notice. And when someone throws in an oddball, you sit up and think, Hey, that's different. I wonder how that might work. Anyway, here's what Deaver had to say:

1. Study the market place. Write what comes out of your heart w/ the caveat of knowing where it fits into the market place.

2. Study the books of your favorite authors. Take them apart. Analyze them. Outline them. Copy down passages of writing that resonate with you.

3. Get an agent. They are a must in this day and age.

4. Figure out that rejection is simply a part of the game. It's a speed bump; it's not a brick wall.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Lady Luck Plays Favorites

They say Fortune favors the prepared, though Llonio in Taran Wanderer phrased it thusly: "You need only sharpen your eyes to see your luck when it comes, and sharpen your wits to use what falls into your hands." Later, he told Taran, "Trust your luck...but don't forget to put out your nets." It seems bizarre, then, to see people singled out for being "lucky" when the term actually does a disservice to all of the hard work, effort, and energy they've poured into an endeavor. The last step may appear effortless, but it's simply the final movement of a long journey --> and that's true whether it's spoken of life or writing.

Although luck hasn't much to do with my thoughts today, the idea of preparation or contemplation does. It seems that "like seeks like," even if this simply means that when one stares into the universe, something always stares back.

My latest musings on writing the next great american novel versus "candy"were revisted via a favorite candy author, Jeffery Deaver. This week, Author Magazine showcases an interview with him that possesses several gems embedded within. Deaver talks about how so many young aspiring writers are "misdirected. They think 'I ought to write this, even though I enjoy reading that.'" And then he talks about how he made the decision to write commercial fiction because that's what he preferred reading. Listening to his thoughts on that matter and several others, such as his ability to compress time within his books, prompted me to think about my own writing decisions...and to finally realize: I'm at peace with my decisions. I am happy, content, and complete. I am a writer.

And, when that stroke of luck shimmers across the sky, I'll be there to catch some of it in my sail. I only ask that my eyes are sharp enough to see it and my wits are sharp enough to make good use of it.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Candy is Hard Work

I mean, sure, writing the next great american novel is hard work.

but so is writing candy.

Just wanted to make it clear where I stood on that.

Disclaimer: no literary authors were defamed in the making of this post.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Novel Writing Decisions

When I first decided to actually sit down and write a novel, I made some key decisions based on gut instinct and pseudo research.

1. Write what's fun: I'd always intended to write the next great american novel -- but then, who among us hasn't? Upon reflection, however, I decided that such a task was monumental, chock full of research requirements (for me, anyway), and reeking of hard work. I decided to write candy instead. For me, candy is fantasy.

2. Write what sells: Honestly? This was just a hope -- and we all want our babies to sell like hotcakes in the literary market, I imagine, so that's hardly an original thought. Actually, though, there is definitely a segment of the artistic/authorial population who compose or write or create motivated entirely by 'staying true to the muse' ... which, by definition, means "creating that which won't sell." So, yes, writing "mass market" is an intentional decision.

3. Write to the largest possible audience: I had read somewhere that -- within the YA lit readership -- female protagonists tend to appeal to girls only, while male protagonists are accepted by both males and females. Generalizations aside, I wrote The Chillwane Chronicles with a male protagonist mostly because male protagonists appeal to me. Reflection, of course, revealed that this is because most female protagonists are sissies, angsty, or snarky, all of which are qualities I despise in women. (Well, okay, I despise those qualities in men, as well.) My new YA novel, Conning Lauren, contains a snarky, angsty sissy who metamorphosizes into a kick-butt heroine with rock-hard abs and a new-found respect for herself and small dogs.

Um. I lied about the dog part.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Lloyd Alexander Still Lives On

A Series of Partially Unrelated Events

In my Writing Rebellion post I mentioned reading the Harvard classics.

Diane commented that she felt it personally important to focus on the genre classics.

My husband found a set of Lloyd Alexander books -- The Chronicles of Prydain -- in my classroom and brought them home to read.

I admitted that I had never read the series. He looked at me in wonder.

On Monday, hubby handed me book one, The Book of Three.

I remembered Diane's words of wisdom.
Tonight I just finished book three, The Castle of Llyr.
I am now waiting for hubby to finish book four, so that I might read the continuing saga of Taran and friends.
I find I'm enjoying the lesson in brevity and action-packed adventure. It reminds me of the James Patterson interview I saw once. When asked what he attributed his great success to, he gave his half sardonic grin and stated, "Why, I leave out all the boring parts!"

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Bransford's First Paragraph Challenge

Wanna have some frivolous fun? Wanna win a partial critique? (or query critique or 15 minute phone call with an agent?) Well, then, this is the post for you!

1. Go to Agent Bransford's blog.

2. Read the rules of his contest.

3. Post first paragraph of your WIP in the comment section.

3b. Do not post any snarky comment or nit-picky question about rules.

4. Do all of this before 4pm Pacific Time, Thursday, December 11th.

5. No angst. See rule 3b.

Since many of us have already posted our first paragraphs sometime in the past year for good old fashioned peer review, this is a natural second step! Woo Hoo.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Young Adult Book Rant

I just finished Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead. It took, most improbably, four months to read 332 pages of the most asinine insipid drivel known to the teenage audience today. (Those in the know realize this book should have taken three hours, tops, to jet through.) It was only slightly more tedious than her non-YA novel, Succubus Blues, the reading of which took several weeks and much groaning. Note, of course, that I bought these two books after seeing her speak at a conference this summer. I like Richelle Mead. She's smart, sassy, fun. Her books suck.

Here are my off-the-cuff, way-too-early-in-the-Monday-morning reasons:

1. Neither plot nor character driven, I haven't figured out what precisely launches the books forward. Oh, that's right. Nothing does.

2. Bland dialogue, pointless time filler-uppers, with random "bad" language to make them edgy. Note to self: inserting random cursing and allusions to sex does not make one's books edgy. Christopher Pike did all that decades ago, making it all "feel" naturally high school-esque. (When I can't find a book for one of my male students to read, I hand him a Pike book.)

3. FTW attitudes interlaced with moralistic over-the-top "dilemmas." (oooh...i feel so bad about disabling the evil psi-dogs who were going to kill me. *sigh* i guess this is my fate since i am an uber-bad guardian of this sweet little innocent vampire who may turn evil herself at any the future. See? I can foreshadow!)

The disturbing part is this: these books have earned "great reviews." By whom, I wonder. It seems the publishing world is a bit incestuous, pumping up books with little redeeming value for a little quid pro quo. And for what? Oops, am I that naive? After all, I spent $8.99 on Vampire Academy. I'm a little ill.

So, then, why don't more of today's youth read? It's simple, really. What is there for them to read? Honestly? I gobbled up Eoin Colfer like he was going out of style (is he?!), but what else is out there? I enjoyed Airborn by Kenneth Oppel and Philip Reeve's Mortal Engines. My female students are inhaling Ellen Hopkins' books (to the point I can't check one out), and are, of course, also reading Stephanie Meyer. I've noticed several of my male students carrying around Anthony Horowitz, whom I haven't yet read but fully intend to explore. Anyone with a character named Alex Rider can't be all bad! Cornelia Funke is storming the YA adult market with her Inkheart books (which are much better than her children's book Dragon Rider, I've heard). But what else is out there?

This all reminded me of Pacheco's post on YA literature and 13-year old Max Leone's article on the great dearth of good teen lit. (They are both worth re-visiting or reading for the first time, if you haven't read them already.) This is precisely why -- all those years ago, as a child, myself -- I decided to try my hand at writing. I was tired of the awesome plot ideas with less-than-stellar writing and ridiculous endings. I was bored of the great writing and empty plot lines. I was bemoaning the fact that there are fewer "good" books than there are of the rest. So Anthony? I may just take the pledge with you. We need more YA authors committed to "great characters, humor, and action." Who's with us? And, more importantly, what are you reading these days?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Open Mouth, Insert Foot

Faux Pas: My greatest social faux pas of the year took place shortly before Thanksgiving. I didn't write anything about it, of course, because, frankly, it was humiliating. In the intervening weeks, however, I've thought, Isn't it my duty to tell? It can be like one of those little moral tales -- where everyone learns what not to do... So, here goes: my embarrassing moment.

Background: The annual NCTE event always has a huge space filled with various publishers, vendors, and exhibitors. It's every teacher's dream to wander this expanse, snatch up the books they're giving away for free, and buy the ones they're selling for two or three dollars. Authors sit behind small tables, where you can talk to them or have them sign your book (though, depending upon the popularity of the author in question, you may find yourself standing in line for an hour or more). Publishing company reps try to sell their wares or answer any questions.

Publishing Company Catches my Eye: I'm wandering, my bag stuffed to overflowing, when I catch the large Tor banner. My heart skips a beat. I smile. I let my feet lead me to the booth area where books line the back and two reps sit behind a small table chatting. They look up and smile.

My Normally Reticent Self Makes Silly: "So," I say, "you two would know all about helping me get published by Tor, yes?" Disclaimer: I know I need an agent in order to get published. I know that Tor accepts unagented work, but I also know that I need an agent. I have yet to parse out why exactly I said these silly things.

Awkward Pause turns Pregnant with Possibility: The man on the left, we'll call him Jeff, smiles -- a smile reminiscent of a cat contemplating a tasty bird -- and nods to the woman on my right. "She's an editor," he says, "ask her."

My Jaw Drops: I stumble around. Rather, my mouth keeps talking but my brain is stalled. She takes pity on me and asks what my book's about. I panic, but give what is most possibly the worst pitch on planet earth. She gives me her card. "Send it to me," she says. "I'll take a look."

The Story Gets Worse: I look down at the card. Susan Chang, it glistens. I almost faint. I grip the counter in front of me to keep my balance. We're only talking about THE Susan Chang.

The Rescue: Random teacher walks up to get some questions answered and Ms. Chang gets up to help her. 'Jeff' and I talk briefly; he gives me the name of a website that is helpful for unpublished writers. He reveals that he, too, is an editor, though for a publishing company that does not accept unagented manuscripts. Before he walks away, he says, "Follow up on her." I brave a half-smile and whisper back, "She's going to kill you!" And he shrugs, smiling back. "She didn't have to give you her card. Follow up."

The Resolution: There is none. I walked away, trembling, kicking myself for being so delightfully stupid. In fact, that's a state I still find myself in. I am also still in awe of the fact that I met Ms. Chang. I haven't sent my manuscript in.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Gather Around the Inland Empire Table

Inland Empire Girl of Gathering Around the Table has posted her 800th blog. That's incredibly awesome, especially since I just spent the weekend basking in her delightful awesomeness and, despite the fact that we were working our tail ends off, she still managed to post daily!!! I am in awe.

Go visit her blog. Offer her your well wishes. Drool over her scintillating sentences, references to poetry, recipes of yummilicious holiday cheer, and breath-taking photographs of good country living. You can't go wrong.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Armchair Survivalist

Although I have visions of poetry and prose dancing the marimba in my head, I just couldn't resist posting about The Armchair Survivalist. There've been a lot of articles & snippets about the guy in the last month or so -- and after I caught yet another article about him, I had to post.

It's also interesting that NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS added the following little tidbit in the afore-mentioned article. It's this quote, actually, that put a crease on my brow. "Barton Biggs, former chief global strategist for Morgan Stanley, recently wrote a book in which he warned that people should anticipate the breakdown of civilized society. He suggested creating a "safe haven" and stocking it with canned food, liquids, medicine, seed, fertilizer and other tools for survival." Biggs has bigg credentials in the economic world, so this is more than a simply interesting prognostication on his part.

(Of course, Geranios doesn't add that Bigg's doom & gloom prophecy has more to do with the breakdown of civilization after catastrophic global warming, which differs slightly from Kurt Wilson's, Armchair Survivalist, core beliefs.)

Anyway, fun & light reading for any of you focused on writing dis-Utopian or dark futuristic pieces... Hope your Thanksgiving was full of blessings and warmth & that Nanowrimo treated you 'write' this year!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Saint Anthony

Along the riverwalk rests a statue of St. Antonio, a gift from Portugal -- at least according to our riverboat guide.
I couldn't resist.

So, in honor of Anthony Pacheco, Hack Writer, I give you Saint Anthony:

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Writing with Sentence Variety

Note: This post goes over some of the points covered in our presentation at the National Conference of Teachers of English this past Saturday.

Sentence fluency has traditionally been a difficult quality to define and to teach. If you know some basics, however, it's actually rather easy to apply to your own writing -- and honestly, good writers (and readers) do much of this automatically.

Sentence Fluency:
1. Use a variety of sentence lengths: short ones for building tension, longer ones for explanations. Combining the two types creates a rhythm and flow to your writing, invaluable for keeping the attention of your readers.
2. Use a variety of sentence types: there are several different ways to achieve this, but my current favorite resource is Harry R. Noden's book Image Grammar.

Harry Noden's Five Basic Brush Strokes:
1. The participle/participial phrase: Lounging lazily, the cat watched the mouse.
2. The absolute: Tail switching, the cat watched the mouse.
3. The appositive: The cat, an insipid lounger, watched the mouse.
4. Adjectives shifted out of order: The cat, indolent and sleek, watched the mouse.
5. Action verbs: Surveying his domain, the cat examined each food offering.

These are but five of many variations, but simply being aware of alternative formats to that most basic sentence structure -- Subject + Verb -- can make all the difference in your writing.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Where in the World is Alex Moore?

Temperate climes, eons of history.

Botonical garden, Japanese tea garden, art and history museums, a zoo,

a peaceful riverwalk.

The Magestic Theater, in all of its refurbished glory,

where BB King played Thursday night.

Brand new hotel and conference center, spacious and perfectly techie...

held their conferences this year.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Alex Explores Sophie's World

After a lamentable decade or so on my shelf (apologies to Mohamad since he gifted it to me so long ago), I finally pulled out Sophie's World and began reading. I can't say, really, what prompted me. I know there were sparks of curiosity and, no doubt, guilt. After all, it's a bestseller -- and everyone and his dog in forty-one countries has read it. But there are plenty of books awaiting my studious perusal that spark both curiosity and residual levels of guilt for having not yet been read that sit lonely upon my many shelves.

So it wasn't only curiosity. And it wasn't only guilt. In retrospect, I wonder if it wasn't a final admission to feeling very much at loss with the world at large and America in particular. In reading a history of philosophy, perhaps I hoped to find not necessarily answers, but rather questions that would help me settle into my own.

Sophie's World is not a book for answers. Or at least easy answers. Of course, Reagan said that there were no easy answers, just simple ones. And we must have the courage to do what we know to be morally right. Those are reassuring words, indeed. Truth be known, however, there were Greek philosophers who would have agreed whole-heartedly with him.

As I finished the last words on the last page tonight, I found myself already plotting my second reading of the book, replete with a much larger copy and a journal for keeping notes. I've contemplated taking the book apart at the binding, punching it for a 3-ring binder, much like Sophie & Hilde had, and going on from there. Certainly highlighters and post-it notes are a must.

On the other hand, I've been meaning to read We the Living for some time now. And, in a way, as it is but a continuation of the history of philosophy via a fictional journey, I'll have remained true to the ideal of searching for answers.

Divine-Feline Photo Essay: Never Before Seen Photographs Reveal the Cat Behind the Name

Just as J. W. Waterhouse used the same model as the inspiration for many of his paintings, so the resident divine-feline inspired Maryn, the guardian of Ceilyn. Maryn is a central figure in Ceilyn's Calling, appears briefly in Ceilyn's Curse, and then reappears for an intriguing role in Ceilyn's Crown. I often wonder if Garth Nix has a white cat that he fashioned Mogget after.

After Anthony & Kiersten commented on the delights of Maryn, I couldn't help but post the following photo essay in honor of the little darling. These photos are intended to provide an intimate look at the various faces of His Majesty in all of his reigning glory. Oh, all right: They're actually just aimed at pleasing the divine-feline since he loves staring at his own precious mug and since he insists upon lounging on my lap whenever I type.

The Secret Garden is one of his favorite places to hang out. Surrounded by barberry, the tiny space has a section of lush grass and a brick patio, replete with tiny table and chairs, perfect for royal relaxation. Sunlight filters through the leaves of the lone cherry tree planted in the center of the postage-sized expanse of grass -- and which also doubles as the perfect scratching post.

Intensely self-indulgent, he shows great interest in words penned about him. He is particularly insistent upon sharing lap time with the laptop, indignant that anything should receive more attention than paid to him.

Here lies the Royal Rug, where his majesty spends an inordinate amount of time. Whenever the words "outside" are muttered, he races to his rug, sprawls upon it, and pretends that he is in the middle of a thorough washing. Here he is studiously ignoring the tiny pink and white mouse lying beside him in case excessive movement earns him banishment to the outdoors.

Yes, he is darling. Yes, he is the tyrant of my heart. Yes, I pet him excessively.

Although there is a "cat couch" (the futon you see in the background of the laptop picture), His Majesty insists upon relaxing upon the other resident male's armchair. Nope. He ain't spoiled at all. He's simply made for indulging.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Writing Rebellion

He who cannot draw on three thousand years is living from hand to mouth. -- Goethe

Three Not-Quite-Non Sequiturs:

I remember my high school English teacher telling us that in order to break form you need to understand and be capable of the original form. In specific, she was speaking of the sonnet. Shakespeare was perfectly capable of penning a perfect sonnet. He did so. Therefore, when he deviated from the format, using a spondee instead of a iamb, he did it with full intention and purpose.

This taught me to look at the concept of rebellion in a new light: In order to truly rebel, one must first understand and be fully capable of performing, thinking, doing, etc, whatever it is one is rebelling against. (After all, it's only lashing out against your infirmities otherwise or fighting against someone else's beliefs, neither of which are truly rebellious in nature.) And secondly, rebellion without a purpose is stupidity personified.

When applied to writing, then, it seems that in order to pen something new and fresh and thought-provoking one needs to become a student of the masters. Without an understanding of the accepted form(s), how can one make playful references to the past or purposeful breaks from essential truths?

All this is to say that I'm contemplating the purchase of the Harvard Classics, originally known as Dr. Eliot's Five Foot Shelf. Of course, owning said books and actually reading them are two different things, I acknowledge, but Dr. Eliot promises that in just "fifteen minutes a day" I can obtain all the elements of a liberal education.

In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act. --George Orwell

Monday, November 10, 2008

Congrats to Kiersten

Jet over to Kiersten's and say "Congrats!" She's just picked up an agent for her YA novel Flash and deserves our excited well wishes. You go, girl!

Delacorte Press Contest for First Young Adult Novel

The deadline for the Delacorte Press Contest for a First Young Adult Novel is coming up uber fast. (I have never quite figured out why they post it under Kids@Random House, since it's open to any writer who has not previously published a young adult novel, but...) So dust off your manuscripts, polish them up, and send them in. December 31, 2008 looms.

  • Contemporary setting suitable for readers ages 12 to 18;
  • Manuscripts should be 100 to 224 typed, double-spaced pages;
  • Include a cover page with title, author, address, and phone number;
  • Submit in padded envelope; Include SASE for notification only.
  • No simultaneous submissions;
  • Authors may submit up to two manuscripts to the competition.

Send Manuscripts to:
Delacorte Press Contest
Random House, Inc.
1745 Broadway, 9th Floor
New York, New York 10019

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Reading for Survival: Beyond the Frippery

I happened across an essay by John D. MacDonald this summer entitled, "Reading for Survival" written only months before his death in December of 1986. I've been mulling the concepts over, filtering them through my own experiences, readings, and understandings, working to enlarge my focus of so many things touched upon within these pages. MacDonald's essay is not the epitome of philosophic contemplation -- in fact, his own description of the essay reads, "the mountain has labored and brought forth a small, mangy, bad-tempered mouse of 7200 words." But buried within the sometimes tedious examples and pontification glitter gems of inescapable brilliance.

Although MacDonald struggled long over this essay, he ended up (upon the advice of Jean Trebbi) crafting a Socratic dialogue between Travis McGee and Meyer, fictional characters of his detective series, in order to communicate his philosophic beliefs. It's a short read, and I recommend it to anyone who considers herself a "reader" or "educated" or "passionate" in the best, liberal arts sense of the word.

"The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them." Mark Twain

In my combating elitism post, I indicated that certain self-entitled "educated elites" are tedious and self-important. Stu rebutted with the observation that there are those who disdain all educated individuals as lacking common sense. I think both statements contain truth. However, MacDonald's essay reveals that education lies not within a degree but within reading.

Meyer, who serves as a sort of educated moral compass for Travis throughout the mystery series, states, "I would not demand that a man read ponderous tomes, or try to read everything -- any more than I would expect our ancestor to examine every single leaf on a plant he remembers as being poisonous. I would expect that in his reading -- which should be wide ranging, fiction, history, poetry, political science -- he would acquire the equivalent of a liberal arts education and acquire also what I think of as the educated climate of mind, a climate characterized by skepticism, irony, doubt, hope, and a passion to learn more and remember more" (25).

Meyer goes on to note that "common sense is uncommon, dear boy. And in more cases than you could imagine, it comes from reading widely, and from remembering" (31).

While Socrates writes, "The life unexamined is not worth living," Meyer observes that "the life unexamined is the life unlived" (26). It is only through examining and drawing relationships between and contemplating and discussing and mulling over ideas that we truly come to life. "Complex ideas and complex relationships are not transmitted by body language, by brainstorming sessions, by the boob tube or the boom box. You cannot turn back the pages of a television show and review a part you did not quite understand. You cannot carry conversations around in your coat pocket" (25). While technological advances of the last decade have changed the literal truth of MacDonald's claim, the philosophical truth is inescapable. As a stereotypical whole, we tend to eschew the complex and embrace the simple.

This is glaringly evident in MacDonald's final warning to the nonreaders of our nation. Although I have not verified the figure, Meyer quotes an article in Psychology Today, saying that, "sixty million Americans, one out of three adults...cannot read well enough to understand a help-wanted ad" (25). Epidemic illiteracy is devastating not only because of what it means to our economy or our status in the world or the future of our children, but especially because of the multiplying impact it has upon every aspect of our lives, from the minutiae to the enormous. "The nonreader in our culture, Travis, wants to believe. He is the one born every minute. The world is so vastly confusing and baffling to him that he feels there has to be some simple answer to everything that troubles him" (32).

I do not agree with every statement or hypothesis or theory espoused by MacDonald within Reading for Survival. I believe MacDonald would be disappointed if I did. His intention was to enter the dialogue, offer a messy collection of suppositions, thoughts, and claims, provide pieces of evidence, and invite the rest of us to respond, refute, endorse, embrace, argue over, contemplate, and...most importantly...enter into the dialogue ourselves.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Sunday Musings

Sunday morning. Grey sky, wet streets, stillness freezing the view outside my window. Only the slight tremble of a nearby branch reminds me it's real, not some painting I've hung on the wall. Of course, my inclination was to be more descriptive: overcast skies with the peculiar white brightness painting a uniform sheen, reflected in the sleek dampness of the pavement...but grey and wet seemed more direct, somehow.

My memory of Wallace Stevens' "Sunday Morning" holds little of the actual poem. Nursing a mug of cross-bred coffee (one half Kirkland brand with Starbucks -- extra bold African blend), smug and chocolaty and rounded, temperature perfect, mug ancient and cracked and full of memories, all hopeful and sunlit, I remember only what I want of the poem: a lazy Sunday morning in pajamas with streams of sunshine and a green cockatoo. A Sunday paper graces the floor and all is well with the world...

A steady drizzle mars the silver perfection of street puddles and the prickles add movement to an otherwise motionless scene. The very mundane nature of it enfolds me, gives joy, comfort, a sense of rightness in the world. I feel a connection to Stevens' poem.

I slip back to the computer, do a google search for "Sunday Morning." I'm better served by my memories, my flashes of dark hardwood floors, careless silks, slices of orange, feathers of green. Unbidden, a smile steals across my face and I click close the site. I return to my chair by the window, listening to "It feels just like it should" instead of Mozart, the rain increasing in tempo and intensity, a few birds finding their flitting way into the fine whip-like branches of the snowball tree that serves as wall and guard and art form and nurturer.

My husband sits nearby, his silence a blanket I hold close, his attention within the depths of some article. All is right in my world, this world unconnected to any other, common and unaffected and everyday, but certainly the best I've ever known.

Contagious Diseases: Combating Elitism

I tend to be a rather laid-back sort of individual -- closely related to the kind of live-and-let-live folk that dot the countryside and truly believe in self-reliance, self-governance, and that whole Locke-ian philosophy of life, liberty, and property.

Because of who I am, I find myself downright irked by high-faluting, self-indulgent, I-am-the-center-of-the-universe, hoity-toity elitists.

You find them everywhere, it seems.

1. I'm consciously avoiding politics, but does it ever occur to anyone that our elected officials (on both sides of the aisle) run roughshod over us? They exempt themselves but demand our last drop of blood, our last half-penny.

The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. --Ayn Rand

2. The anti-NaNoWriMo crowd has been none-too-gentle with their derision and contempt of those of us who choose to Nano it up this November. Of course, I'm with Voltaire: they certainly have the right to their own opinion, but gracious! the hatred, the vitriolic sputtering... the moral superiority! On the other hand, it could be part of a diabolic plan to spike their blog ratings! (Whyever didn't I think of that?!)

3. Certain individuals within the education realm who consider a "degree" the final word on intelligence seem to forget that much of what life teaches lies outside of the ivory tower. And many educators have even forgotten the purpose of a liberal education within American culture: "Traditional liberal education constituted both a rich body of knowledge and a deep habit of mind, a set of disciplines and a set of practices, one leavening the other, to the creation of intellectual culture and the ennobling of Western culture at large." --David M. Whalen

4. Will the press never be held accountable for their shameless mis-education of the American people? "Hastiness and superficiality -- these are the psychic disease of the twentieth century and more than anywhere else this is manifested in the press. In-depth analysis of a problem is anathema to the press; it is contrary to is nature. The press merely picks out sensational formulas." --Alexander Solzhenitsyn

5. In tolerating the intolerant, I try to practice what I preach: I may actively disagree with many an opinion, but I believe every individual is entitled to that opinion. It saddens me when groups of people believe that they are above their own law of tolerance. I think what they really believe is that everyone needs to be tolerant of their ideologies, but they -- in their cozy superiority -- have no need to tolerate anyone else's view.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Falling in Love Again

Thanks to David Bridger, I can fall asleep tonight in the ethereal arms of this blessed angel.


Of course, I'm jumping up to NaNoWriMo at the break of dawn.

Report on Your Life: FieldReport

November 15 marks this season's submission deadline for FieldReport, a website dedicated to your creative nonfiction memoir pieces. All you have to do is sign up (free), review five other pieces, and then you're able to post your own 2000-word-or-less personal narrative.

Founded with the desire to deepen Internet communities, this website allows readers to review, comment on, or simply read others' true life experiences. To sweeten the experience, a monthly prize of $1000 is awarded to the greatest story in each of the twenty categories, which is determined by a blind review process.

A quarterly prize of $4000 is awarded to the highest ranking field report (excluding previous Silver winners), and a Grand Prize of $250,000 is awarded to the highest ranking silver or bronze winner on January 1st.

A $25,000 teen prize is also awarded to those entrants who are between the ages of 13-17.

The Positives: There is no sign up fee. You can have up to three writing "personas" that allow for anonymity, if you're worried about posting under your given name. You keep the copyright, allowing FieldReport a "limited license on the work."

The Drawbacks: It seems that once posted, your story is there for all time.
Have any of you actually posted your stories on FieldReport? I haven't, so I'm curious about your experiences if you have. Positive? Negative? Ambivalent?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Plot the Novel 2.0

Gearing up for Nanowrimo can be daunting, but if you've been reading the blogs of the many previous years' winners, they all talk about plotting the novel. Heck, you can even find a previous post of mine detailing "three easy steps" toward preparing for the big day.

It has occurred to me, however, that there needs to be a Plot the Novel 2.0, a beyond-the-obvious sort of activity, that kicks the process up to a new level.

Plot the Novel 2.0

1. After you've outlined your basic novel plot, following the sage advice of others (ie Blake Snyder -- and yes, I will continue to plug him simply because he is such a riot, truly making me laugh out loud even after an exhausting weekend, not to mention the fact that his beat sheet totally makes sense), take a serious look at your plot.

1b. Exposition. Check. Inciting Incident. Check. Rising Action. Ch... Wait! Does each burst of conflict up the ante? Increase tension? Push your protagonist to the breaking point and beyond? After you've assured yourself that you've followed the most basic precepts of plot diagramming, then you're ready for the rest.

2. Cut the most likely: Readers are looking for a predictable journey with unpredictable moments. Or maybe I said that backwards. Anyway, unless you're following a specific genre where She must fall in love with He, get out your literary scissors and start hacking away with forethought and precision. Yes, this is easier said than done.

3. Foreshadow the improbable: Readers will follow you anywhere as long as you've provided sufficient foreshadowing. Far from "giving away the plot," these clues are breadcrumbs for the brain. Once we arrive at the improbable end, instead of saying, "No Way. That could not have happened. Impossible," the most likely response is, "Wow. I should've seen that coming. That's Craaaazy!"

4. Consider your theme: No, this is not preaching or nagging or going all moralistic. It is essential to good writing. Ok: even bad writing. So, with that admission, think about it carefully: choose 'the triumph of the human spirit,' or 'never give up,' or 'be careful what you wish for.' Find whatever it is that your plot calls for, whatever it is instinctively saying. Tease it out. It's there, waiting. Once you've discovered it, make sure you've woven it into your scenes. Every major scene should be a refutation or a substantiation of that theme.

5. Plump up your characters: Consider developing your characters into real 3-D people. Unless you truly need a flat, stereotypical character, give them all life. Give both protagonists and antagonists good and bad characteristics. Nothing pops a storyline better than an antagonist with soul.

Those are my thoughts -- what are yours? What are those "finishing touches" you tweak your original novel outlines with? How do you know when you've woven in the perfect number of clues? Or is it even possible to know?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Riding the Glimmertrain

If you're a writer, you've probably heard of Glimmertrain. But, like most writers, you're probably busy and have forgotten about the opportunities available there.

Check out their Writing Guidelines. Because they've worked hard to shorten up their response time, they have implemented a "theme" of the month. They have also decided to accept simultaneous submissions since "it is so darned difficult to get one's work published."
Glimmertrain's Short Story Writing Contest for New Writers will open November 1st, closing at midnight on the last day of the month. There is a $15 reading fee with first place receiving $1200 and 20 copies of the issue with the winning story.

If you submit a story during their "Standard" months, there is no reading fee. Payment is $700 for first publication and onetime anthology rights.
Order a copy today, familiarize yourself with the type of writing they print, and see if you're meant to submit your piece. Depending upon the month, they accept fiction all the way up to 20,000 words.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Spreading the Link Love

Following the example of Interminable Writer (who evidently got it from Juiced on Writing), I'm spreading a little Link Love. "What is Link Love?" you ask. Well, it's an organized method of finding like minded people ... mainly writers who write and blog and have a life, too ... and crowing about them. Singing their praises. Bringing curious readers to their deserving pages.

Spreading the Link Love:

Step One: Explore some writerly blogs from the list below that have merit. Expand your horizons.

Step Two: Comment on their pages. Leave your calling card. (Commit to a couple new blogs per day, if you choose.)

Step Three: Copy the links below into your own post. Add your writing buddies to the list.

Step Four: Post. Continue exploring these various writers. Build a bigger network. Learn. Consider. Ruminate. Mull over. Disagree. Enlarge. Engage. Extrapolate. Join. Converse. Be.

Alex Moore All Things Good Anthony Pacheco: Hack Writer Selonus Writing Career Coach Nick Daws’ Writing Blog The Ups, Downs and Sometimes Insane World of Freelance Writing The Writer’s Roadmap Grammar Girl Cute Writing Tumblemoose The Writers Manifesto Blog Murder & Magnolias The Fictorium Writer…Interrupted Pix-N-Pens Juiced on Writing Girls Write Out Novel Journey Write Thinking Confident Writing A Life in Pages Write to Done Foxy Writer Story Hack Writing Journey Advanced Fiction Writing Scribereglyph No Excuses, Just Write Rantings and Ravings of an Insane Writer A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing Acme Authors At Home, Writing The Rejecter A Writer’s Edge Remarkable Communication Men with Pens Freelance Parent The Golden Pencil Ink in my Coffee Inkthinker All the Write Stuff BK Birch’s Writers Blog Chronicling the Novel Freelance Writing Jobs eWrite Life Miss Snark The Renegade Writer Writing White Papers Pub Rants The Well-Fed Writer Writer Beware Blogs! Gotta Write Girl PoeWar Tip Booklets 1WriteWay Enriched by Words To Breathe Underwater Annie on Writing The Interminable Writer Just Another Writing Blog Not Enough Words Paperback Writer Writing Time Writer Dad Pocket Full of Words Tech for Writers Writing with Zette The First Book Buzz Balls and Hype Big Bad Book Blog Diary of a Wordsmith Freelance Writing Tips Inky Girl The Urban Muse Mike’s Writing Workshop Write to Travel Something She Wrote Wordcount Write-From-Home Writing the Cyber Highway Write on Wednesday Writer’s Roundabout The Writer’s Technology Companion Writer Unboxed Backstory Editorial Anonymous Murder She Writes SlushPile.Net WOW - Women on Writing Rejection is My Middle Name Emerging Writers Network Writing Power Writing Hermit Write Anything Always Try a Little Harder Pecked by Ducks Bookends LLC - A Literary Agent writerjenn Daily Writing Tips Freedom from the Mundane The View from Here Out of Thin Air Shari Writes Writing for Your Wealth Into the Quiet Editorial Ass A Writer’s World Interminable Writer