Monday, December 29, 2008
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.
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
(The cover was so pretty, I couldn't resist tacking it up -- even though it has nothing to do with this post.)
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
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.)
Let the games begin!
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
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.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Monday, December 22, 2008
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.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
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
Friday, December 19, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
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 tangent...as 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
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
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
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
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
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
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 moment...in 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
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
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
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!