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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Not So Good Author Categories

I was surfing around the other day and I came across another blog related to writing and publishing. One of the author's posts really caught my eye. It was entitled, "Don't Expect To Get Published With That Attitude." It talked about most writers wanting to learn from others and wanting to write and get published, but then listed some categories that other writers fall into. I actually couldn't help laughing at some of the category descriptions because I've known some of those people recently and this author hits the nail on the head with her observations.

You can view this wonderful blog at:

http://www.matilijapress.com/publishingblog/?p=65

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A Mind of Its Own

Okay, you knew this was coming, didn’t you? Yesterday, I asked what your favorite car was. Using your answer, turn your favorite car into something “alive”, then create a scene or short story using it as one of your main characters.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Question of the Day

Just a silly question for today:

What's your favorite car?

Mine is and always will be the Lamborghini. :-)

Friday, January 26, 2007

The New Club!

Okay, so I decided to listen to my peers and re-activate The Michigan Horror Writers. We are open to writers (and fans) of horror, sci fi, and fantasy (preferably dark). My aim with this group is to improve my own writing through networking as well as help others with their publishing goals. I want to see all the members have at least one published item under their belt. So why not check us out today? We're online at http://www.michiganhorror.com .

What Makes For Good Horror

In order to write great horror stories today that leave the reader wanting more, we need to understand what it is they want. So I ask you the following:

  1. What are the elements that make for a good horror story?
  2. What ruins a horror story for you?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

A Change of Pace

Okay, it's time for a little ranting going on. This has nothing to do with writing, just an everyday observation for a winter-weary city in Michigan. I want to talk about how snow and ice piles up on the neighbor's sidewalks and driveways. Is it a crime for people to actually clear their walkways? Will they receive a citation for picking up a snow shovel and digging out a path for the mailman to get through?

This was the first week this season that we actually got some snow and ice and every day that I go to work, I come home all in a tizzy. I deliver newspapers each morning and after traipsing through mounds of snow and slipping several times on icy sidewalks, I'm in a foul mood by the end of the day.

I remember a couple of winters ago, when I first started this job, I had to wade my way through huge snow drifts that were higher than my boots. What's up with that? Are people today too busy to be courteous, or are they just plain lazy? I feel sorry for the mail carriers and delivery people that have to plow through on a daily basis and make their way onto icy porches.

I tell you, I could make a small fortune by bringing a shovel with me and asking my 200+ customers if I could shovel their walkways every time it snows. And that's not to mention the people in my own neighborhood, where every other house is blocked in by snow that you can't even see where their driveways are.

To the good people out there that actually do clear their walkways, porches, and driveways, I applaud you. Thank you very much. But for the rest of you, I hope you burn in eternal agony. :-)

Monday, January 22, 2007

A Simple Wish!

Hello, Strange World! I am the Genie of this blog and I have come to hear your wishes. If you had any one wish in the entire universe, what would it be? Think carefully. You only get one wish. Make it as detailed as possible or the genie might have to fill in the blanks. For instance, wishing for a million bucks without specifying how you want it could result in a loved one being killed in a fiery crash and leaving you a million dollars. Wishing to lose weight without specifying details could result in you losing flesh until you melt into a bloody display of skeletal bones. See what I'm getting at? Genies are detail-oriented.

Okay, so now that I laid down the rules, what would you wish for more than anything? :-)

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Caught in the Web

Let's talk websites. Do you have one yet? If not, why? They make great promotional tools for writers, or for anyone. It also makes it easier for people to find you and to find out about your writing talents. What good is it to want to be a writer, write a few things in your spare time, and send it off occasionally. No one knows you and you just might remain a nobody until you're ready to do something about it. If you still aren't sure if a website is for you, here are some reasons why you should at least think about one:

  • Interactivity -- You will be able to tailor content to provide for your visitors -- feedback forms, polls, surveys, contests, queries, etc.
  • Promotion -- Had anything published or want to put up something you have written, even if it's just a partial? Then this is the place for it.
  • Articles -- Show off your writing by adding some resourceful articles to your site.
  • Store -- You can sell your books, or anything else you want, right at your website.
  • Information -- Provide your visitors with valuable resources and fun information.
  • Profile -- Let the world know all about you and what it is you do.
  • Writing -- Share your thoughts with your own blog or newsletter.

But I won't lie to you. Having a website can be a lot of work. You can't just slap one online and expect to have a constant flux of visitors or have publishers/editors come tracking you down online. It requires your attention on a regular basis. Even still, I strongly believe that everyone should and could have a site of their own, no matter how small or large it might be.

Feel free to contact me if you want to discuss websites more.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Book Recommendation

I bought this book a couple of weeks ago and only just now cracked it open and after reading the first chapter, I have to tell you I was very impressed with it. The book is Make A Real Living As A Freelance Writer by Jenna Glatzer.

In this book, she gives advice on how to generate ideas, how to find the right markets, how to pitch to those markets, what kinds of stories are in demand, and more. I would definitely recommend anyone who is interested in writing as a career to pick up this book. Click on the book for more information.




Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Mini-Exercise: First Lines

Here’s a mid-January challenge for you. Take the following sentence and use it as the first line of a short story. Stories should be anywhere from 300 – 3,000 words. Please do not change or alter any part of the sentence below. The story should be horror, science fiction, or fantasy. Feel free to send me your stories.

Okay, you ready? Here is your first line:

I hated driving at night, and tonight was the worst when my car broke down in the middle of nowhere.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Get Smarter in a Week!

Has anyone seen the 'Get Smarter Guide'? Supposedly if you challenge your brain on a daily basis, you should become 40% cleverer within a week. Some of those challenges are showering with your eyes closed or using a mask, walking around your house blindfolded, using the 'wrong' hand to brush your teeth or move your computer mouse, playing games like Scrabble or Charades, doing the daily crossword or Sudoku puzzle, and take your bike or walk to work instead of drive.

Anyone have any thoughts on this or any other brain challenges to add? Should we put it to a test of our own? :-)

Thursday, January 11, 2007

What Readers Want: An Interview

Ever curious to know what my readers are interested in, I decided to try my hand at interviewing one. Here is the response I received from one reader, a college student from Iowa and probably one of my biggest fans, Emily. Thanks, Em! I'm always looking for new interview subjects. If you think you might want to participate in an interview to be posted here, please contact me.

--------------------------------

SP: What genres do you like to read?

Em: Horror, Sci Fi, Mystery, and Thrillers.

SP: What is it that you like most out of your favorite genre?

Em: I like the suspense. Any book is good if it keeps you wanting to come back for more. The more suspense that builds up, the more I want to read it....

SP: Why did you pick that genre to fall in love with?

Em: Well, I've always been a sucker for sci-fi, suspense horror kind of things. It just kind of happened, I never have really been into the romantic type of stories. I've read both romance and horror genres, and the horror always interested me more. Of course, a story that has both romance and horror can be good as well.

SP: When you read a story, do you like to identify with the main character?

Em: Sometimes....

SP: If you can't identify with at least one of the characters, does that turn you off of the story?

Em: No

SP: Is there anything you would definitely not want to read?

Em: Call me crazy, but I love the gore aspect. I hate reading anything about animals being tortured. I have always loved animals, and I hate to see or read about them getting hurt....

SP: Would you continue to read a story if the main character was killed off, or furthermore, read other stories from the same author afterwards?

Em: Yes, I would, just to see if it turns out good. However, I prefer for the main character not to die, considering a lot of times, it destroys the story in my opinion.

SP: How often would you say you do any reading for enjoyment?

Em: To be honest, not very much. Books I have read lately haven't been good...I just can't find the right one....I like to read books that start out with a hook and continue to interest me all the way through. Books that are so good that I don't want to put down.

SP: What factors influence whether or not you want to pick up a book?

Em: Definitely the description they put on the back (or inside cover). I always read those, and ones that sound interesting I read. That's my number one reason for buying a book. If the book was really good after I am done reading it, most likely I would then look up other books by that same author.

SP: What, if anything, are you reading now?

Em: A little of both -- fiction and non-fiction.

SP: Do you prefer strong male leads or strong female leads, or does it not matter as long as the story is good?

Em: Doesn't matter to me. Any story can be good with either a male or female lead.

SP: Tell us a little about yourself.

Em: Um, okay. I'm 19 and currently going to college over in Iowa. Taking courses in speech, english comp II, american government and math this semester. I like hockey and Supernatural. My favorite book (I believe is a biography actually), is A Child Called It. Really sad story, a little graphic, but really well written. I have read it a couple times already.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Living the Dream!

Okay, folks, I’m inviting everyone to participate in this post. It’s all about living your dreams. What is yours? Are you living it now? If so, where did you begin? How long did it take for you to achieve what you wanted? What kind of obstacles did you overcome? If you’re not living your dream, what’s stopping you?

My dream has always been to write. Ever since I could remember, I wanted that little place in the country where I could spend my days writing and enjoying life. Well, I’m not exactly living that dream. In fact, I’m not even close. But I have no one to blame but myself. I spend more time researching the issue on how to become a writer than I actually spend on honing the craft and selling my work. I have too much knowledge rolling around inside my head that it gets confusing at times and I don’t know where to begin. But I feel, and I’ve been told as well, that 2007 is my year, so after all this time, I’ve finally found my footing and decided to get serious.

If you write full-time, if you write part-time, if you’re living a dream now, how did you do it? Come on, tell us your story and allow the rest of us to gain some insight into the workings of a successful, happy lifestyle. Do you have some advice or helpful tips for the rest of us?

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Blog Review: House of Sternberg

Okay, folks, it's Blog Review time. Let me start off by reviewing the blog of a friend of mine. His name is Stewart and the blog I refer to is the House of Sternberg at http://house-of-sternberg.blogspot.com/ . I love visiting this site. There's always a smorgasbord of information available. I never know what to expect when I go there. And best of all, you'll notice that he adds new posts on a daily basis.

Some of my favorite, most recent posts from him include:

  • The Hall of Fame
  • Interesting and Fun Lists
  • The Death of Literary Classics
  • The Dead Pool
  • Concept Then Plot

Make sure to check out some of his images, where he's put his face on some of the classics. I love his creativity.

So if you ever get bored some day, stop in and visit him. Say hi, post a few comments or two, and enjoy yourself.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Books by Email?

I signed up awhile back to receive free horror book excerpts in my email from the Dear Reader organization. I was introduced to this club by the Horror Writers Association. If you love horror, this preview club is perfect for you. Once you sign up, you receive the first few chapters of a new horror novel every week in your email, and best of all, this email list is free to join by going to http://www.dearreader.com/horror.html . To find out about their other preview clubs, visit their home page at http://www.dearreader.com.

Today, I just learned about another email preview club from Bantam Dell Publishing. It's a mystery and thriller book club called Booked for Breakfast. Each Monday, a new Bantam Dell author/title is featured and you'll be sent a portion of that book via email each day. You also have a chance to win free copies. To join this list, go to http://www.randomhouse.com/bantamdell/bookedforbreakfast/ .

Happy Reading!

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Exercise: My Character Resolves To . . .

Okay, here is your assignment, should you choose to accept it.

Make a list of ten resolutions for one of your main characters. It could be a list for your hero or villain. Try to come up with some creative resolutions and not the usual humdrum ones we all think up. Losing weight, stop smoking, etc. -- no no's. But how about if your hero resolves to destroy the Demon Lord's den or your villain resolves to kill three martial artists this year? Well, I'm sure you get the gist of it and come up with something more creative. So get cracking. Feel free to comment with your lists.