Archive | May, 2011

General tips for not freaking out when you miss a deadline.

31 May

by Biljana Likic

~~~

This post is very, very late. In a bout of supreme intelligence, I didn’t check the May calendar, and there’s no way I signed up to post on the last day anyways, right?

Well…turns out I’m an idiot. On this blog we schedule articles for midnight EST. It is now past 3:00pm. A good fifteen hours after I was supposed to have posted.

So let’s talk about deadlines!

Some are casual, like little personal goals that would be nice to accomplish by the end of the week, but aren’t urgent. Others are a little more time-sensitive, like having a post ready for the next day, but after a bit of flurry and upset you can easily get back on your feet. Then you have the ones, like handing in your manuscript on time, that if you miss, it can put you months and months behind schedule, possibly pushing your publication date further into the distance, and make you lose some credibility as a responsible and punctual person.

But in reality, nobody’s going to kill you. There can be bad consequences; you can lose a very good opportunity. But when it comes down to it, nobody will kill you for missing a deadline. [/Pun about deadlines not actually being dead]

So if you’ve missed a deadline, the first thing to do is:

DON’T PANIC. Nothing makes your brain shut down faster than panic. I know. I panicked when I saw my name on the calendar and realized it was 2 in the afternoon and I had no idea what to write about. Instead, try to see what you can salvage from the situation. Think up some pros that can come out of it. For example, I got this lovely post idea when I sarcastically remarked to Savannah that I should write about deadlines. Lo and behold…

DON’T GIVE UP. More than once, I’ve had this happen:

“Where’s your essay? It’s been a week.”
“I didn’t finish on time. You said you wouldn’t accept it if it were late.”
“Well I won’t now, but if you’d given it to me the day after I would’ve just docked a few marks. Now you get a zero.”

(Just typing that reminds me of how frustrating it is.)

You don’t know that the thing you’re late for won’t accept the late admission. Even when it specifically says you’re disqualified if you’re late (or something similar), you don’t know if they will actually act on it. If you had extenuating circumstances beyond your control, maybe they’ll make an exception for you. Maybe they said “No late applications” because they anticipated a hundred, but really only got a few dozen, and so they’d be willing to accept your slight lateness rather than lose a lot of money or prestige by having a program only half full. Now, this doesn’t always work. Sometimes they say no lateness and they mean no lateness, even in extreme cases. But you don’t know if you give up.

RELAX. Similar to DON’T PANIC, but in a different way. Especially if it’s something trivial, don’t let lateness stress you out if there’s nothing you can do about it. If you need to take the bus downtown, give yourself time to do so. If the bus breaks down and you end up waiting for an hour with no taxi money, that’s not your fault. Call the person you were supposed to meet and explain the situation. More often than not, they’ve also had public transport screw them over at some point. If you talk to them in a considerate way that makes clear that you know it inconveniences them when you’re not on time, they’ll probably just slot you into a later spot.

GET OVER IT. This one’s a bit harder. I’m still kicking myself over those essay scenarios. There’s regret I feel over things that happened years ago. And to be honest, regret is okay to have, because it can help you take new opportunities more seriously. But if you have so much regret, and you’re so bummed out that can’t focus on your next deadline, it starts impacting your work. Get past it as quickly as you can so that you can produce stellar works for other things, and not end up late for those as well.

Try and remember these. Even agents can be understanding. Even publishers aren’t evil. As the hierarchy grows, missed deadlines become a bigger issue, but at the end of the day, nobody will kill you. Do your best, and figure out your own methods of time management. If sometimes they fail, don’t panic, don’t give up, relax, and get over it. Regain their trust by continuing to be punctual with everything else.

And, as always, better late than never.

~~~

Biljana Likic is an aspiring author, currently revising her first novel, TIME IS A FUNNY THING. She’s going into her second year of university, where she can’t wait till she’s out so she’ll finally have all the time in the world to write. You can visit her blog and follow her on Twitter.

Can’t Lose It

30 May

by

Savannah J. Foley

~~~

How confident are you that you’re a writer? That you’re meant to be a writer, or that it’s all you want to do?

I’m very confident –when I’m writing. When I’m in cycles that I don’t write, however, my confidence starts to slip. I start thinking all these defeatist thoughts: Writing is so hard, it’s taking so long, the issues in this manuscript are insurmountable, etc.

I’ve felt like this a lot lately. May 15th was the 7-year anniversary of finishing the first draft of my novel NAMELESS. And I’m still in revisions.

Oh, there were times during this 7 year period that I thought I was finally done. But even after ‘done’ was declared something would happen that made either me or my agent decide that a little more work was needed. More recently, a lot of work.

I converted a trilogy into a single book and sent it off. It came back with a thumbs up on the new plot, but a thumbs down on the voice. My character was still clinging to her adult persona; I need to fully let her go and be a teenager. Susan recently did a wonderful post on how to revise, step-by-step, and though I thought her article was brilliant, and I’ll definitely use it for future novels, I’m at a point with NAMELESS where even Sooz’s brilliant methods can’t help. This is a voice issue. That means every single sentence has to be examined, and I need to determine if it stays or needs to be fixed. In a 110k manuscript, that’s a lot of sentences.

The task was (and still is) daunting. So after about five chapters of revisions, I just… stopped. Oh, I had good excuses. My laptop finally failed. My new laptop didn’t have Word on it. A tornado hit and the power was out for a week. I was on vacation. I was busy working, going to the gym, cooking, cleaning, reading, and watching Game of Thrones.

And through it all I kept thinking, ‘what if it will never be good enough?’ What if I can’t do this? What if this story will never come together right? What if it’s broken?

What if I’m not really a writer?

What would happen if I gave up right now? Left LTWF, shut down my blog and Twitter account and just… lived a normal life for a while. Tried to forget that I ever called myself a writer. Stepped out of the rushing stream that is the writing industry and laid by the shore.

I knew what would happen: I would be a quitter. A coward. I could not let that happen.

I finally buckled down and decided I would just get used to using Open Office until I can afford Word. I would let the house dirty itself and scrounge around for dinner and not go to the gym if I had to. But I had to start writing again, even if I felt like a failure.

Something magical happened.

I’ve read the first few chapters of my novel probably a thousand times, in all its different forms. I love the beginning. If writing a novel is like polishing a rough stone, then the beginning has been touched so many times that it’s a sparkling diamond. I always re-read my first few chapters to get back in the ‘mood’ of the novel, and psych myself up to keep working.

NAMELESS did not disappoint.

Suddenly I felt this rushing, like an invisible wind from the universe was rustling inside me, filling me up with all the faith and sense of ‘rightness’ I would ever need. Of COURSE I could do this. Of COURSE this is the right thing for me to do in my life. I was meant for this. I belong to this. To quote, writing is the one thing in the world that, when I’m doing it, I don’t think I should be doing something else.

And I remembered that this had all happened before. I go through cycles of not working, letting my manuscript’s problems settle and take root in my subconscious. And every time I decide I’m ready and go back to work again I get that magical feeling that lets me know I’m doing the right thing.

I feel like an instant writer again.  So if you’ve stepped away from your novel and are questioning whether it’s even worth the effort to go back, if you’re discouraged and tired and wondering if it’s all worth it, just try reading a bit of what you’ve already done. Soon you’ll be wrapped up inside your story and then you won’t want to stop. You’ll want to keep creating and growing your project until it reaches the shining conclusion.

While my agent had a few sample chapters of NAMELESS, I worked on my next novel, a sleeping beauty retelling. Then, with this memorial weekend giving me the perfect opportunity to stay home and write, I wrote 6,000 words on Saturday, 4,000 words yesterday, and finished the manuscript. It felt good to finish a long project, but even better than that, I felt relief at refreshing my faith in myself. If I could crank out word levels like that, then obviously I was good enough to hack it.

In conclusion, sit down. Eliminate Distractions. Write your story.

~~~

Savannah J. Foley is the author of the Nameless (originally known as Woman’s World) series on Fictionpress and is signed with the Bradford Literary Agency. Her website is www.savannahjfoley.com, but she updates more frequently on her livejournal. She is currently working on editing Nameless to go out on submissions. You can read an excerpt from Nameless here.

Saturday Grab Bag: Mashup

28 May

Mashup:

Here are some great links on writing, the industry, and all things book related. Some are serious, and some are just downright hilarious. We highly recommend you read them!

– If you love HP, this might just make you tear up.

– The ever-so-awesome actress and screen writer Felicia Day (whom I <3) wrote an awesome article on why and how she started writing.

– Author Jody Hedlund talks about how to create characters that your readers can actually like.

– If you have an android phone, get ready to go scanner-happy! You can now scan in your library of books and their barcodes and add them to your Goodreads shelves!

– Looking for book reviews from a publishing insider? Rachel is a selector for Children’s and YA books, a national book wholesaler in Canada. If you like book reviews, I suggest checking her blog out!

– Love seeing pictures of books in sexy places? Well, SO DO WE! 😀

-Want to get your novel critiqued AND help a good cause? Writer Kat Brauer offers a critique of 250 words for every $1 you donate to her charity: water fundraiser! Plus, she has a HUGE line-up of agents and authors offering critiques! Be sure to stop buy–it’s running until June 30th!

~~~

Books - That is exactly how they work

~~~

Quotes:

~

“So I would encourage you all to read, read, read. Just keep reading. And writing is another skill. It’s practice. It’s practice. The more you write, the better you get. Drafts–our kids are learning the first draft means nothing. You’re going to do seven, 10 drafts. That’s writing, it’s not failure, it’s not the teacher not liking you because it’s all marked up in red. When you get to be a good writer, you mark your own stuff in red, and you rewrite, and you rewrite, and you rewrite. That’s what writing is.”

Michelle Obama

~~~

Hey all – Happy Saturday! Let us know what’s up in the comments! 😀


QOTW: Books You Read Again and Again

27 May

This week we asked ourselves:

What are the books that you’ve read over and over again?

~~~

I’d have to say my most read/re-read books (my copies of these are literally falling apart now) are:

The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle
The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Pope
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
A Room with a View by E. M. Forster
The Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin
Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey

(Look at that! 4 out of 6 are lady authors. Woot.)

-Susan Dennard

~~~

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
Nancy Drew & Hardy Boys: Secrets of the Nile by Carolyn Keene
The Atonement Child by Francine Rivers
Kissed by an Angel by Elizabeth Chandler
The entire Cheney Duvall series by Lynn & Gilbert Morris
The Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper

So I tend to reread children’s books when I’m bored. Sue me :-p

-Sammy Bina

~~~

I reread tons of books because I didn’t have a lot of them as a kid so read each one like 10 times, haha.

THE GOLDEN COMPASS by Philip Pullman
ENDER’S GAME by Orson Scott Card
SABRIEL by Garth Nix
GREEN ANGEL by Alice Hoffman
DRAGONFLIGHT by Anne McCaffrey
THE AMULET OF SAMARKAND by Jonathan Stroud

ONE CHILD by Torey Hayden

-Kat Zhang

~~~

The Chronicles of Prydain (all five!) By Lloyd Alexander
The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle
Sabriel by Garth Nix
The Black Jewels Trilogy by Anne Bishop
Wit’ch Fire by James Clemens
Alphabet of Thorn by Patricia A. McKillip
The Golden Compass/His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman

-Sarah J. Maas

~~~

There are some books that I reread SO often and looks so old and worn (but I love reading them). They are:

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
Sabriel by Garth Nix
The entire Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith
His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman

The Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce

-Vanessa Campbell

~~~

Gosh… there’s so many that I’ve reread and reread… a short list of old favorites:
Rant, by Chuck Palahniuk
World War Z by Max Brooks
Beloved by Toni Morrison
Dealing with Dragons, by Patricia Wrede
Maniac Magee, by Jerry Spinelli
The BFG by Roald Dahl
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
The Time-Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
The Phantom Tollbooth by Juster Norton
Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Euginedes

Recently discovered books I think I’ll be rereading forever:

Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta
In the Forests of Serre by Patricia McKillip
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley

Game of Thrones by G. R. R. Martin
-Savannah J. Foley
~~~
I rarely reread books, but if its been several years I will revisit them! Among the few:The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

And

Z for Zachariah by Robert C O’Brien

And that, literally, is it!

-Mandy Hubbard
~~~
My most often re-read are:

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

The first three Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling
The Mummy Case by Elizabeth Peters
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
-Jenn Fitzgerald
~~~
What are the books you’ve read again and again?

Why We’re Not As Cool As You Originally Thought: Vanessa Di Gregorio

26 May

by Vanessa Di Gregorio

~~~

You might recall that Sarah and Sammy kicked off the Why We’re Not As Cool As You Originally Thought series. Well, today I thought I’d share with you a bit about myself and my day-to day life.

But what you first need to understand is that I have a problem.

I’m super busy (or at least I feel like I am). And when I’m not, I procrastinate. A lot*.

*Not to be confused with the Alot

From the moment I wake up (at 6:00 am), to the moment I go to bed (10-10:30 pm, cause I ain’t no youngin anymore), I am busy. My commute, my work, and subsequent commute back home leaves me feeling a tad bit tired. Then there’s dinner, catching up on TV shows I adore (Glee, The Office, Fringe, Modern Family, and Game of Thrones to name a few), perhaps a bit of reading here and there, and a husband I like to spend time with. And that’s not including the times when awesome games like Portal 2 come out (which then occupies even more of that spare time, if not all of it).

Then there are the work events, where I try to network with as many fellow publishing peeps as possible (despite my bouts of social awkwardness). Or there are the times I go out to catch up with friends after work for a couple of hours.

Does this make me any more busy than the average person? Probably not. Which brings me back to my problem: I procrastinate.

For all that I claim to be perpetually busy, I still somehow end up spending at least 35-50% of my time on my laptop. I might be reading my fave blogs, checking my email, or scanning my Facebook or Twitter pages. I might even be writing up book reviews, browsing through Etsy or Tumblr, and peeking at my Goodreads account.

So where do I find the time to squeeze in some writing?

Here’s the thing: I don’t.

That’s a scary thing to admit to people I admire and respect; that’s a ridiculously frightening thing to tell all of you. I mean, here I am offering you advice; here I am telling you that you should write and read as much as possible.

Easier said than done, right?

I know, I know. I should be better. I should be more disciplined. I should be at the very least trying to meet a daily, or weekly, or even monthly word count as a means of motivating myself. I have wonderful CP’s who constantly beg me for the next chapter. And my response?

Soon, soon.”

I struggle with finding time to write. And even when I do convince myself that I should work on RIFT – even when I finally have that document open, staring at me, I get distracted. I procrastinate.

I’m surrounded by people who write so much more than I do; by people who go through the day looking forward to the chance they get to sit down and write. People who are so much more dedicated than myself; who schedule time to write. I did that once. I was good at finding the time. But now I seem to doubt myself a lot more. Now I think, “I’m not a real writer”. I don’t devote nearly as much time as I once did to writing. I worry that just because people liked some of RIFT, it doesn’t mean they’ll like the rest.

Yet I want to write. I want to finish RIFT. I have moments where all I want to do is sit down and write. But those moments, it seems, don’t come often enough anymore; or if they do, they get pushed aside. And it’s not that I’m not in love with the story; I am. But I think, “Well, I can get to that tomorrow. I need to do this first”.

Am I the only person who does this? If being a part of LTWF has shown me one thing, it’s how absolutely devoted every other contributor is. They all seem to write daily. They all put my writing pace to shame. They all write. I sit and think about writing.

I struggle with this on a daily basis. I know I should write. I want to write. I think about doing it;sometimes at work, or while I’m watching a show or reading a book.  But every day it’s the same thing; I put it off and do all the other things because they’re easier. Because sometimes, nothing else makes me doubt myself as much as writing.

But I love writing. I can’t imagine not writing, even if (lately) I haven’t found the time to write. I just need to make the time. I need to get my act together and actually become someone worth listening to.

Which I’ve started. With the help of a couple of CP’s, I write. We get together on the weekends and have writing sessions. And it works. Now I just need to learn how to write by myself again; I need to re-learn how to schedule time to write, to get away from everyone else and just put everything else on mute while I get into the zone and write – even if all I get down is a couple of paragraphs.

So, that’s basically what my day-to-day life is like. It’s not glamorous, and it’s not awe-inspiring or remarkable. But my goal is to make it a life where writing occurs more frequently, with more fervor and inspiration.

~

A/N: My 12 year old brother came by as I was typing this up and said, “Why must you be so hard on yourself? And why are you writing THIS and complaining when you could be writing your book right now?”
To this I say, “Touché little man. Touché.” (He’s absolutely right, you know.)

~~~

Vanessa is a Sales Assistant at Kate Walker & Co., a book and gift sales agency located in Toronto. She also has a book publishing certificate under her belt. Currently, Vanessa is working on RIFT, a YA fantasy novel, and a Children’s non-fiction series. She also geeks out over stuff at Something Geeky.

Reaching for the Stars (and other goal-related clichés)

25 May

by Susan Dennard

~~

I feel like I’m always Debbie Downer on here. Discouragement and depression—not the most uplifting topics.

But you know what?  I actually feel pretty good most of the time.  And then there are those extra-special moments.  You know the ones I mean: the moments when you’ve just achieved a goal.

Honestly, there isn’t a headier feeling in the world for me (well, except perhaps too much champagne, but that’s not a very pleasant heady feeling, so we’re not gonna count it).  When I can strike something off my To Do List or–even better–when I can mark something off my Dreams List, I pretty much feel like an invincible SUPER WOMAN.

Dreams List

What is my Dreams List, you ask?  It’s a list of my biggest, hardest goals, and it’s constantly growing.  Whenever I have a new dream, I add it to the list.

Seriously, can you imagine how AMAZING it felt when I got to mark this goal from August 2010 off my Dreams List?  It was possibly even more exciting than accomplishing the dream itself because here was my written confirmation that I had set a goal, worked hard, and conquered it.

The key is to be specific about what you want and what qualifies as success.  For example, here’s a dream taken straight from my list:

Goal: SEND SCREECHERS TO SARA

Mission: I want to send a polished draft of SCREECHERS to my agent before the end of August 2011.

Wildly Successful If: I send it to her before the end of July!

That “Wildly Successful” bit makes a nice little difference in how you view your goal. It gives you a little nudge to work that much harder.  Yet it also suggests you might not be able to meet it (since it’s “wild”) and that it’s okay if you don’t.

While the SCREECHERS GOAL is shorter term, you can also make a long-term goal. Here’s another from my list:

Goal: BUY A HOUSE WITH LOTS OF LAND AND PRIVACY

Mission: I want to be able to afford a house of my own, and I want a house in Southern France with a giant yard, garden, mature trees, and lots of privacy.  I want to buy it within the next 5 years (before I turn 32).

Wildly Successful If: I can afford it before I turn 30!

Savoring the Small Goals

I make my planners SUPER CUTE AND SOOZ-IFIED so I feel happy and motivated every time I open it up. And yes, that IS Han Solo.

The thing is, the Dreams List usually takes time.  It’s long-term, so reaching that awesome pay-off that is accomplishment can take time.  We need small goals to tide us over.

And that’s where a simple daily To Do List can really help.  For those of you who already maintain daily planners, you know what kind of joy comes in marking something off your list.  Ahhh, the satisfaction of a simple scratch-through or check mark.

Right now, I have three sorts of goals on my Dreams List: writing/career, health/fitness, and financial.  As such, my To Do list includes something related to these big dreams almost every single day.  So instead of just listing the mundanities of my day, I also lay out the little steps that build up my dream.

Here’s a page from my To Do List:

Even though I follow a pretty standard daily routine, I always list every step. It’s not that I need to be reminded of my routine (though I do forget some things), but rather that I like to be reminded I’m working toward something.  It keeps me on-track and focused.

For example, I do cardio every weekday, and it’s a habit.  Yet I still write it down everyday. That way, when I do my daily cardio, I can mark it off and know I contributed to my overall healthy lifestyle dream.  Plus, I get that little rush of feeling that comes with accomplishment!

The Key is in the Reminding

Maybe keeping track of your goals or to do lists aren’t your style.  I realize I’m a little nuts (read: absolutely crazy obsessive), but I do think there’s something to be said for writing your goals down somewhere and reminding yourself every so often that you’re making progress.

You could do something as simple as sticking a post-it on your bathroom mirror that says: SEND QUERIES BY JULY!  Or maybe just writing your goals on a paper you keep in your wallet.

The day I went on subs for Something Strange and Deadly, I made a desktop background that said SOLD! Every time I saw it, I smiled and did a victory fist-pump.  And you know what?  A week later when my book did sell, seeing that desktop background made me absolutely giddy with joy and pride.

Set goals—big and small.  Work hard to achieve them.  Dream of them; visualize them.

Then grin wide when you jump the small hurdles, and throw a freaking party when you reach the big ones!

Do you keep track of your long-term dreams?  Do you keep a daily to-do list?  How do you celebrate reaching your goals?

~~~

Susan Dennard is a writer, reader, lover of animals, and eater of cookies. She is repped by Sara Kendall of NCLit, and her debut, SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY, will be available from Harper Children’s in 2012. You can learn more about her on her blog or twitter.


Don’t shrug this off.

24 May

by Biljana Likic

~~~

My vocabulary sucks.

Well alright, it doesn’t suck, but it could definitely use some work. I figured this out when I read through a 1500 word chapter the other day and found about twelve uses of the word “though”.

I supposed it’s a bit unfair, though, (<–hah) because that word only has so many synonyms. It’s worse when you have people repeating actions. In your head, they nod a lot because they agree with what’s happening. On paper, you start asking yourself why your characters have suddenly turned into bobble-heads.

These are some of the actions I constantly find my characters repeating:

  • Smirking
  • Raising an eyebrow
  • Grabbing (why is there so much grabbing!)
  • Eyes widening
  • Eyes narrowing
  • Eyes blinking once to express confusion, disbelief, and/or bemusement
  • Fingers curling into fists
  • SHRUGGING.

So much shrugging.

There used to be a time where I would sit down to write a scene and a million different actions would come to mind to express amusement, or loftiness, or frustration. I’d have a mental list that was ten concepts long for actions denoting fear. Gradually, they became lists of five, then three, and then finally, the universal sign for fear simply became “Eyes widening” or “Heart pounding”.

But why? Why has my vocabulary of actions suddenly become so shit?

Because I’m not reading.

This is in no way sudden. Recently I’ve been so focussed on life and school and getting my own manuscript polished up that I haven’t had the chance to sit down and really read for enjoyment. It’s at the point where when I do read, I’ll come across things like “She looked at him sidelong,” sit up in excitement, and say, “I remember that! How could I forget that?” Then I’ll go back to my own MS and a few weeks later, while doing some quick once-over revisions, I’ll find that after so many pages into the story everybody begins to look at people sidelong. Then I’ll start yelling at them that they have necks for a reason and get frustrated with all my characters enough to scrap whole scenes. All because of my over-enthusiasm for remembering an action I’d forgotten.

Never before have I been so convinced that in order to write, you constantly have to read. Not that you can’t write if you don’t read, but your vocabulary will be much less rich. Sure, you can look up words and synonyms in dictionaries and thesauri but actions are far more complex. Describing an action you’ve never seen described before can be really hard. And like with everything else, it doesn’t hurt to have a few examples before trying. Some really great writers, I find, are ones who not only have a compelling story, but who know how to briefly describe shrugging without once using the word “shrug”.

And while you’re reading, observe people. Remember that your actions aren’t the only actions that exist. Some people facepalm, others run their fingers through their hair. I can’t stress enough how much watching real-life characters can help you develop the ones in your book.

But before this turns into an article about the finer points of stalking, let me impart to you this last bit of personal, opinionated, and always biased advice:

Don’t overdo it. There are only so many times you can get away with “The corners of his lips curved upwards into a crescent” before the reader starts shouting at you to “Just say he smiled!”

Different and innovative is awesome. Sometimes, though, simple packs as much of a punch.

~~~

Biljana Likic is an aspiring author, currently revising her first novel, TIME IS A FUNNY THING. She’s going into her second year of university, where she can’t wait till she’s out so she’ll finally have all the time in the world to write. You can visit her blog and follow her on Twitter.

Book Review: Bossypants

23 May

By Sammy Bina

~~~

I admit, I do not religiously watch 30 Rock. In fact, I’ve only seen two episodes in my entire life. And while I watch SNL on occasion, it’s a very rare occasion. I can, however, quote Mean Girls with the best of them (“You go, Glen Coco! Four for you, Glen Coco!”) and really respect Tina Fey. I think she’s incredibly smart, hilarious, gorgeous, and totally in charge of her life. When Bossypants came out, I was hesitant to pick up a copy because I don’t really follow 30 Rock, and thought a lot of the humor would go straight over my head.

Boy, was I wrong. In fact, if anything, I think I took away some very important lessons after reading this book.

Some things I’ve taken away with me:
– Make sure I know where the lifeboats are when/if I ever go on a cruise.
– My Sarah Palin impersonation could use some work.
– If you even remotely look like someone famous, use it to your advantage.
– I should’ve spent more time with theater kids after high school.
– Never hike up a mountain at night to impress a boy.
– Don’t provide my children with informational packets meant for adults.
– It will be a huge hassle to get Oprah to appear on my future Emmy-nominated reality show.
– I need to be in more professional photo shoots.

Bossypants is essentially a memoir detailing the (not-so) finer points of Tina Fey’s existence. It covers her awkward childhood, reminding me of some of my own mishaps. Of course she talks about her time with SNL and her current place at 30 Rock. But above that, it’s incredibly empowering. The feminist in me fist-pumped at many points throughout the book. Tina Fey sets a great example, not just for women, but for anyone (especially the awkward and average) trying to do something with their life. After I finished, I felt like I could go out there and do anything. Except maybe fly.

Tina Fey tells it like it is. She encourages people to be who they are and nothing less. If there’s one thing I took away from her book, it’s that.

Also, to have a box of Kleenex nearby. To wipe away the constant flow of tears caused by endless laughter.

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Sammy Bina graduated with a degree in Creative Writing, and is an intern for the Elaine P. English literary agency. She is currently editing her YA dystopian, SILENCE. You can follow her blog or find her on twitter.

QOTW: Favorite Childhood Animated Series

20 May

What was your favorite childhood animated series?

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The Simpsons!! Does it count if it is STILL my favorite animated show? Now my wee daughter watches it.

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I loved RECESS when I was a kid. The characters, the rules of the playground… I wanted to live in that world.

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Adventures of Tin-Tin, and Scooby Doo!

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DuckTales, Rescue Rangers, Gummi Bears, TaleSpin, Care Bears, and Doug. ….I watched a lot of TV as a kid.

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I loved Tom and Jerry 😉 But only the old, old fashioned ones. Not the newer ones!

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The Simpsons, Looney Tunes, and Scooby Doo! Though I loved all the old Hannah Barbera cartoons

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Digimon, Sailor Moon, and Arthur. Sometimes, I still hum this song when I’m walking down the street, and I maybe have this as my ringtone.

Also, like Jenn, I LOVED old Looney Toons cartoons. Oh, those two….

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What was YOUR favorite animated series as a child?

Herding WIPs

19 May

by Jenn Fitzgerald

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Rarely do I work on a single WIP at a time. I’m still not sure if this is good writerly behavior or not, but it is something I have to deal with. No matter how much I love a project that I’m working on, no matter how devoted to it, or focused on it I am, I still think about other WIPs. It can kinda feel like I’m cheating on my books with other books, but luckily WIPs can’t have hurt feelings if I neglect one for a while to spend time with another.

However, it can be a problem trying to balance projects. Sometimes, I’ll sit down to write, open up a project and start typing away, only to be distracted a few minutes later by plans for a different WIP. I’ll switch to the other one and start working on that, only to be drawn back to the first one again. And, by the end of the day I haven’t gotten much done on either and I’m frustrated with myself.

I had this problem in a big way when I was starting PRISCILLA THE EVIL. I was writing another WIP and things were going well, but I couldn’t help thinking about this idea I had about a little girl who wanted to be evil. Finally, I decided to get to a stopping point with my main WIP and see where this other idea went. Six weeks later I had a first draft of Priscilla and could go back to working on my main WIP, which I finished before starting major edits.

What I learned from this was that I need to work on new ideas and I need stopping points. Constantly jumping back and forth between projects is not the way to do it.

So, now when I have to deal with multiple projects I try to pick one to work on, and pick a stopping point to work towards before I’m allowed to switch to the next WIP. This helps keep me from switching back and forth spastically. If I set a goal and can get myself to work to that certain point, then I can actually get something done and make progress on both projects. If there is something pressing that I just have to write down or risk forgetting for the project I’m not working on, then I’ll take the shortest possible notes before going back to the WIP I am working on. This way I don’t loose any ideas, but I don’t get distracted and pulled off into another work either. This is still a process I’m working on and trying to get better at. There are sill days when I jump back and forth and can’t settle on one WIP to work on, but it’s getting better.

Do you all have the same problem? What techniques or solutions do you have for dealing with wanting to write multiple projects at the same time?