With only a day and a half left, give or take, January has been a long month. Here is an equally long update, and an exciting announcement, detailing how I spent it!
One of the first posts I published on my Facebook writer's page involved submissions. To date, I have now submitted to a total of 10 places with 26 pieces (some simultaneous, others not). I am thrilled to hear back from them, along with the other submissions I had out already in 2016!
The e-zine edition of the February The Horror Zine is now up and running! The full home-page featuring all artists, writers, and updates (including a spectacular set of awards!) can be found with this link: http://www.thehorrorzine.com/
And my personal feature (including my photo, blurb, and published poems), can be found here: http://www.thehorrorzine.com/…/F…/AutumnLala/AutumnLala.html If you get a chance to read, please let me know what you think!
It was an honor and privilege to work with the amazing editor, Jeani Rector, and I hope to do so again in the future!
On another note, Luna Smith / Luna Eclipse Modeling and myself have been collaborating more and more as the weeks pass by. We've got exciting stuff happening, now and in the near future. I'm beyond blessed to have the opportunity to work with her. If you have a chance to check her out, please do so! She, and all the photographers she works with, do wonderful work!
As you all know, I accepted the Editor-in-Chief position of the University of Cincinnati's Odyssey community earlier this month. Two of my creators' articles made it onto their (Odyssey's) Facebook page, and one of those two is still trending. I am proud/thrilled/jumping-off-the-walls-ecstatic to say that my team exceeded our page view goal by hundreds of thousands. I hope to make this a trend in the coming months, and with your support, I know we can!
If you all did not see, Peg Allen at my previous vocational school, Warren County Career Center, also interviewed me! I am so grateful to have graduated from an institution that supported me and encouraged me when I needed it most. I wouldn't be the professional I am today without them. Here is that link once more: http://www.mywccc.org/protected/ArticleView.aspx…
Of course, I am also a student. Currently, I am starting the fourth week of my 15 credit hour / 5 class semester. There is more reading than I anticipated, but I am enjoying my classes and doing my darnedest to impress my professors and get ahead so that I can dedicate more time to Odyssey, my writing, and my personal life.
Because of this, and my amazing professor, Laura Wilson, my announcement comes from an academic source.
I was offered - and have accepted - an internship with University of Cincinnati's English Department for next fall. Specifically, for the Rhetoric & Professional Writing Department. My long-time friend Clarity Amrein and I will be working on a number of projects, including promoting the program so that more students can discover how beneficial and versatile it is!
If I land the other internship I have my eye on for this summer, I will graduate next spring with my double-major B.A. with two editorial positions, two Editor-in-Chief positions, a Teaching Assistant position, and two internships under my belt.
*takes a deep breath*
It's been a long month - a long year - but I could not have done it without you all. Thank you for being here, supporting me, and encouraging me as I continue to build my career.
With the introduction of social media into our society, the way people interacted changed. The phrase, "glued to your phone," comes to mind. The dynamics of relationships have shifted as social media has dominated conversations. Needless to say, social media has become an issue for writers, as well. Some cannot stay off of it, which is where isolated programs such as Scrivener come into play. So, if it effects even the production of writing itself, how does this new phenomenon effect the publishing industry as a whole?
For starters, we now have what most call Digital Literature. It has a certain ring to it, don't you think? In fact, this new wave of literature has swept the nation - the world - so quickly that I am already taking a college course on how it is directly effecting the publishing industry. The market, especially. We aren't too far into the course, having only read an article or two, but my curiosity propels me to investigate further.
In an earlier article, I may have touched upon my writerly roots. For a re-cap: I began writing online on a website called Quizzaz (now named Quotev) where people around my age bracket posted stories of varied lengths. I wrote stories, received feedback, posted updates, gained followers... The whole she-bang.
At the time, I was a middle school student with an interest in words, ie. what they could do and how they could make people feel. Looking back now, as a senior in college, my writing was horrifying. However, I noted other, more important aspects in my reflection.
While it opened up a platform for feedback and criticism, there were several detriments. Most writers on the website were young, inexperienced, and wholly satisfied with their current skill level; on this plane, there was hardly room for betterment since the criticism was — often times — laced with positives and pleads for the author to post rather than observations or notes for improvement. Overall, the state of quality for the stories on the website stayed the same with a few notable members rising through the cracks.
Fast forward to today, where dozens of these interactive, writerly websites exist, and I am brought back to the moment where I was — for a lack of better wording — searching through digital slush in order to find a story worth reading, be it from a technical, stylistic, or narrative standpoint.
I had to remind myself — force myself — to only spend my time on the crème de la crème of stories in order to further my skills the way I wished. I am conflicted on how to feel about this, especially in regards to the future of writing and what it means to publish. Amazon has a publishing feature with, essentially, no barriers. This allows anyone computer-literate to publish their work.
Having sifted through enough writerly sludge online, this saddens me. But it also makes me strive to work that much harder to rise through the cracks. So, that's what I encourage you to do, as well. Since this literary evolution - spurned on by technological and societal advancement - is largely out of our control, embrace it. Take it as another opportunity.
Discover what you can do through this new medium and ride the waves of inspiration.
As always, please share your thoughts with us below! How do you feel about the surfacing of digital literature? How does it effect you? And if there is any writerly topic or subject you wish to see discussed, please don't be shy!
In earlier articles, I have remarked - really, stated over and over - how important it is to a writer's career to be an opportunist. Sometimes, opportunities walk straight into you, refusing to budge without acknowledgement. Sometimes, they pass by - simply existing - waiting for your initiative. Thus far, I have experienced both.
Now, I cannot say with absolute certainty which is better and which is worse - since the value of opportunities is subjective in itself - but I can introduce an opportunity to you and let you judge it for yourself.
For years, I have been subscribed to Writer's Digest. If you are familiar with my Facebook Writer's Page, or one of my other accounts, you may have seen a picture of my collection: magazine after magazine precariously stacked into a leaning tower, moments away from slipping into a whirlpool of paper on my apartment's floor.
However, Writer's Digest has both a beneficial print and online platform. While you have to pay for the magazine subscription - to me, a worthy venture given the variety of content - access to the website is absolutely free. There are several other subscriptions and services Writer's Digest offers that cost money, but today, I will not be discussing those.
Instead, I'd like to point your attention to Writer's Digest's Editor Blogs. Essentially, there are four Editors Blogs, which I will outline below:
1. The Writer's Dig produced by Brian A. Klems.
In this series of posts, Klems "covers everything about writing" which is an awfully broad definition. However, they expand upon it slightly. Aside from the assortment of Guest Columns, it's what I aim to do with "Wrong, Or Write? Take:..." Click here to check it out!
2. Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino.
The title of Sambuchino's blog explains the premise succinctly. Though, as you read Writer Digest's description of this blog, there seems to be much more to it. Sambuchino also keeps up with conferences, contests, publishing opportunities, and more. Click here to check out what else he has to offer!
3. There Are No Rules by the editors of Writer's Digest.
Unlike the previous blog, the title of this one is misleading when paired with Writer's Digest's short, explanatory excerpt: "Get on the cutting edge of today's publishing trends and how authors can succeed in a world of fast-paced technological change..." To check out what "There Are No Rules" is made of, click here!
4. Poetic Asides produced by Robert Brewer.
Brewer focuses entirely on poetry in his Editor Blog from the market to issues effecting poetry to poetic forms in themselves. Additionally, when he introduces various poetic forms, readers and writers alike may submit examples for a chance at being published in a future edition of their print magazine. To take a look at all of Brewer's posts, click here!
After browsing through, I feel this is a wonderful feature. Multiple articles are published each day packed with advice, information, and opportunities. No matter what you write - or what you are interested in - I am almost positive you will find some worthwhile tips and resources within the pages of these blogs.
2017 is upon us. Many welcome the new year with open arms, a smile, and a succinct: "Finally!" The end of the year - especially after the holidays - is exhausting. At this point, most of us are ready to wash off the past year and ease into the new one, which can make writing motivation ever more the elusive creature. For other writers, however, they are eager to begin a new project alongside the fresh start.
Keeping up with a writing project - like any New Year's resolution - can be a chore. A new year can often mean new obligations, new priorities, or even the old ones catching up to you. In these times, it's important to keep the project at the forefront of your mind.
Give yourself daily reminders. Post it notes placed in the areas of your home that you frequent - the kitchen or bathroom, for instance - are a good start. It's a type of positive, auto-suggestion where you suggest a behavior to yourself. Followed often enough, it can become a habit.
Have more time? Dedicate a certain part of your day exclusively to writing. To remind yourself in the beginning - until it becomes routine - perhaps set an obnoxious alarm on your phone so you never forget. The alarm is a small way to keep yourself accountable.
If accountability is a problem along with motivation, utilize your writing community / writing friends. Group together - support each other - and set daily or weekly goals for each other that you have to meet. Working with others can be a difficult task due to scheduling, which is why I favor a weekly goal where you can set aside one day a week to come together and share your hard work.
On a larger scale, when you are not the only one writing, the expectations may vary person to person and that's okay. One person may have a personal goal to write two chapters a week. One person may wish to write one chapter and read a published book. Another person may be working on a different medium - say, poetry - and have specific, numeric goals for how many poems they would like to draft or finalize in that time-span. Another member could still be in the planning stages of their project, discovering just what it is they want to do and how they would like to go about doing it.
Every writer has their own unique life with their own set of priorities and expectations; it's natural for each to have their own goals.
Please, share your thoughts with us below! How do you like to start the new year? With a fresh start, or finishing something not-quite-so-new? And if there is any writerly topic or subject you would like to see discussed, please don't be shy!
In the World of Writing, a writer can expand their knowledge through a multitude of avenues. Online resources. Conferences. Books. School, whether that be lower or higher education. And in both, creative writing courses are available.
Creative writing courses are hit or miss. In my writing group, this is the overall agreement. I have heard stories of both revolutionary and disastrous classes, attentive and insensitive instructors, as well as dedicated or lazy classmates. All of these factors, and more, contribute to whether a creative writing course is successful by its end.
This past semester, I enrolled in an intermediate creative writing course. It comes after the introductory course but before the final capstone that determines if you have met the university's graduation requirements. We had a graduate student for an instructor - only teaching for tuition reduction - and a small, cozy class of sixteen.
It was a miss. The instructor based the course on his interests (something he admitted more than once), often let his frustration boil over and create a tense classroom environment, directed his students to change the entire plots of their stories to fit, once more, his interests, and was wholly unprofessional throughout the term. Still, I worked around it and earned an A.
However, the failure of the class made me think of my future. For years, I have intended to pursue a graduate degree (or two) in order to become an English professor. Just as remarkable classes have me reflecting on how I will teach, terrible courses force me to consider how I will teach. Or rather, how I will not teach.
As an educator, I think it's important to prepare students for their endeavors beyond the classroom. In the writing sphere - creative writing in particular - this means a multitude of areas. So many, in fact, that it may be difficult to lecture, write, and workshop on top of addressing those subjects.
In a creative writing classroom, these topics are where I would start: inspiration (listing different prompt blogs when they feel stumped), commitment (when it comes to sticking to longer projects such as novels, especially), editing, publishing, and communities (even encouraging them to build their own). On the online platform the university would use, I would include various resources with each of these topics, including helpful essays, websites, blogs, articles, books, etc.
It's important to provide students with the resources they may need, explain or demonstrate how to use them thoroughly, and be open or available for further questions. That's what it's all about, isn't it? Making sure you give the students the tools to succeed in their given field? If all educators were more mindful of this - of their potential impact - the overall state of American education would be in a better place.
And maybe creative writing classes wouldn't be so hit or miss.
Please, share your thoughts with us below! Have you ever taken a creative writing course? If so, how did you feel about it? Was it a hit or miss? If there are any other tips or resources you think are useful, please comment them below! And if there is any writerly topic or subject you would like to see discussed, please don't be shy!
In an earlier article, I advised my readers to be an opportunist. When they arise, you seize them. This article is a continuation of that ideal. However, it is slightly more specific, narrower in its scope. Some opportunities come to you. Others opportunities, well, you have to seek them out for yourself. In this case, it's a bit of both.
I came across this... opportunity for opportunities by no accident. Social media has a tendency to collect data on its users, and then, utilize that data in order to generate targeted ads in the hopes of earning more money. Once, I shoe shopped online, and the pair of boots I looked at appeared on the side of my Facebook Newsfeed and Skype screen for weeks. In short: annoying and unhelpful. Despite that time, though, I also see more writerly ads and sponsored posts.
In particular, one sponsored post stood out: Freedom With Writing. It was some article-looking post involving making money for writing. These sorts of posts can be found all around, and most of them are scams. But I kept seeing the page, kept seeing the posts, so I decided to check it out one day.
I clicked on the page, started scrolling, and what I saw surprised me. Post after post after post, listing various opportunities for writers. Writers of all kinds, actually. Contests, articles, short stories, poetry, novels... They describe themselves as a free magazine for writers, and offer up an email subscription for regular updates.
It was like a database of writerly wonder, but was it real, or was it a scam?
So I dug. I clicked on a few of Freedom With Writing's posts. Checked out their website, which arguably, wasn't much. I could make something more complex with my limited HTML background. But each post I clicked, each link I was brought to for a lit mag, journal, contest, or whathaveyou, proved to me more and more that this wasn't some scam.
It was a resource. Of course, as always, I'm not the type to throw myself into any opportunity that appears. You shouldn't, either. Do your research, and be thorough. While I would not trust every post, every link, every claim on Freedom With Writing, I cannot deny that it is a goldmine. It's a bottomless toolkit.
So, take a look and give it a try. You might be surprised with what you find.
Please, share your thoughts with us below! Have you ever heard of Freedom With Writing? Ever used it? If not, do you have any other resources we should know about? And if there is any writerly topic or subject you would like to see discussed, please don't be shy!
With NaNoWriMo over, fall semester coming to a close, and the end of the year approaching, inspiration is even more of a fickle creature than usual. At this point, most writers are feeling burnt out, like staring at a computer screen too long after a long day. It happens. There is nothing to be ashamed of. But the next time you are itching for inspiration, try out one of these eleven tactics:
1. Take a Walk
Everyone has heard how exercise releases endorphins; it gets the gears going again. The wires in your brain buzzing. If you decide to take a walk, bring a notebook with you to jot down in when something - or someone - catches your eye. After all, the only thing worse than having no inspiration is losing or forgetting that inspiration.
2. Revisit an Old Idea
Often times, I have had to push ideas to the back burner because of one thing or another. This is the time to dust those ideas off, crack your knuckles, and get to work! Better yet, you may have a wider, more considerate perspective than the initial inspiration for the idea!
3. Try Out Prompts
Prompts, like writing exercises in creative writing courses, can often spark an idea. With the internet at our fingertips, writers have access to several websites containing prompts. However, if you do not know where to start, these are my top two, Tumblr favorites: WriteWorld and Nimble's Notebook.
4. Listen to Music
My first novel-length idea came from song lyrics. Additionally, an author friend of mine creates book-specific playlists that she listens to each time she writes that piece to put her in the right head-space. So listen close. What you hear might surprise you.
5. Stream of Consciousness
This is a popular brainstorming technique in which you write down all of your thoughts and feelings. Sometimes, what you write can stand out to you, grow bigger and bigger like rolling a snowball in winter.
6. Word Generators
Akin to the stream of consciousness technique, the results may stand out to you and snowball into a pleasant idea. My personal favorite is Text Fixer. The combination of words I received the first time I tried this generator manifested in an entire poem. Give it a try!
7. M. Kirin's "How To Plan Your Novel" Video Series
Split into three parts and two videos, writer and blogger M. Kirin outlines the process they have curated after writing more than eight books. In particular, I find Part 1: Brainstorming helpful due to the way you're expected to question and list every aspect of an idea you come up with on-the-spot based on their system. If you would like to check it out, here is the link to that two-part series: How To Plan Your Novel.
8. Start with a Character
Although characters are fabricated people, they are people - actual persons - to those that created them. See where they lead you.
Drawings. Paintings. Murals. Sculptures. In a broader scope, art can also be seen as film, literature, folklore, music, plays, and more. Take a closer look at the medium before you. Consider how it makes you feel. Consider how it makes the person next to you feel. The possibilities are endless.
10. People Watch / Listen to Conversations
There is a stunning amount of diversity in humanity. Walking through campus each day, the snippets of conversations I hear (quite unwillingly) are part of the most ridiculous stories and scenarios. Putting those words to a face adds another layer to that ridiculousness, sometimes. So, to pay homage to the saying, "Truth is stranger than fiction." Stranger, indeed.
11. Take a Step Away
Breathe. Relax. Give yourself a break to rejuvenate. Sometimes pushing harder means pushing the ideas further away. And like the right person, inspiration can pop up when you least expect it.
Please, comment below if you feel burnt out and try any of these techniques! We would love to know how it went. And, of course, if there is any topic you would like to see discussed, please let me know!
Some people give me a funny look, or even laugh a little, when I say I'm a writer. Not a poet. Not a novelist. Not a playwright. Not a screenwriter. Just... A writer. A vague, yet broad, term to most. To me? Well, labels can be restricting. Especially when I want to be more than a poet, more than a novelist, more than one type of textual expression.
I aspire to be a wordsmith: a skilled user of words. But that's an extraordinarily subjective ordeal, as art is never quite objective in any form. So writer will do. It will suffice. Writer encompasses all of my writerly aspirations, giving me the freedom to peruse the literary waters and dip my toes in each one that catches my eye. However, each pool has done more than simply grab my attention.
Just as a creative can draw inspiration from anywhere, a writer can expand - and even sharpen - their present skills through studying other artistic mediums. Apart from my focus on fiction (flash to serial length), I have also dabbled with: lyrics, poetry, speeches, scripts, and plays. These have introduced me to both a multitude of concepts and considerations. The fluidity of form, across the board. Plays have surprised me in that right, especially. The subject of agency and structure. Or, agency vs. structure, depending on the piece. The angles and perspectives by which each are examined, analyzed, and edited.
In my experience, the final stage is the most crucial one. Being able to wholly reflect on a work. See it for what it is rather than what you intend it to be. For me, being exposed to a plethora of pieces allowed me to view what I do in another light.
But on top of these revelations, having multiple mediums to draw from adds something else: continued inspiration. Writing can be taxing. The amount of hours spent on a piece varies, from the initial conceiving of the project, the mindful planning and consideration, to eventually articulating it upon paper.
And then, you have to tear that beloved piece of yours apart. After all of this, it can sometimes be difficult to love what you do and continue to pour all of your passion into it. Drawing from various mediums - if a writer find the ones that hit them in their heart, just right - they can fall in love with the craft all over again.
With their possibilities.
Please, share your thoughts with us below! If you're doing NaNo, how is that going? If not, how are your other projects going? And if there is any writerly topic or subject you would like to see discussed, please don't be shy!
One of the great aspects of living near a university is being able to attend all their events. Sports games. Conferences. Plays. Fundraisers. Concerts. Recitals. The options with a venue so vast and diverse are endless, but in this particular post, I will focus on a reading that has stuck with me.
On Wednesday, November 9th, 2016, I attended a reading at the University of Cincinnati featuring American poet and translator A. E. Stallings. Stallings has always loved Greek mythology. In fact, she now resides in Athens, Greece with her husband and their two children. Through Latin studies, she translates past work, and even shared a piece of Hesiod with us on Wednesday.
It was magical, hearing a story from the past, but she also tells those of the present. About her experiences. About learning curves like her poem, "Autumn Pruning." About the way words can stir her and confound her, twisting into pieces such as "Scissors" and "Placebo." Stallings told us, in Latin, Placebo means "I shall please you." I shall please you. No wonder words sparked something within her.
But something deeper, more raw, than her linguistic roots struck me. As I stated above, Stallings has always loved Greek mythology. Specifically, she gravitates towards the Underworld. In this single reading, she read two poems - of opposing formats - surrounding Hades and Persephone's tale. Both were fantastic yet identifiable in their own right. What Stallings said before she gave them, however, is what continues to entrap me.
"One of the great things about being an artist is that if you constantly repeat subject matter, it's a theme and not an obsession." Hilarious, yet comforting. Poets and writers see life through another scope, or rather, through the same scope as others but with interchangeable lenses. The way Stallings latched onto words like scissors and placebo.
Stallings is a remarkable wordsmith. She weaves rhyme, repetition, sound, and occasional alliteration through any form she decides to take. Humor often adds another layer of quirk to her work. As a poet or writer, there's much to learn from her. Had I the funds, I would have purchased one (or more) of her books and asked her to sign it (them). If you're a word-lover like me, I am positive she won't only be on my Christmas list.
Have you been to any readings lately, or have any writerly recommendations of your own? How is NaNo going? And lastly, if there are any subjects or topics you would like to see covered, please comment! Don't be shy!
Description is like a newborn; you have to nurse it. Find your balance. Shift weight as you navigate through various narrative voices. To intrigue and to inform, but not bore, your readers. It's an art, in and of itself.
"It's all in the details," is a common phrase paired with description. I agree. Additionally, though, it's about the big picture. The balance, as I stated above. And when it comes to balances, to popular sayings, I also think of:
"Show, Don't Tell." For those unfamiliar, it is essentially when a writer tells the readers something rather than showing it to them. To paint the picture: telling is, "The temperature rose throughout the day," where showing is, "Her skin, slick with sweat, shined under the hot sun."
Like Nature VS. Nurture, this concept is a hot debate. Too much telling is boring. Too much showing drags the reader on, which is, again, boring. Of course, both of these have exceptions. Two weeks ago, in my Intermediate Writing: Fiction course, I read a short story from a fellow classmate in which the majority of the narration featured showing. Had the description not been rich (in diction and cultural references), or the protagonist - also the narrator - not been portrayed as a primarily passive character, his writing would have flopped. But it didn't. It worked.
As I said before, you have to shift the weight of your description as you navigate through various narrative voices. Some characters are more analytical, where the telling will be stronger than the showing. Other characters, of varying backgrounds and personalities, will lean more towards showing instead.
The scale will always be tipped, in one direction or the other, but there will always be a combination, a careful balance, between the two. Years ago, I read an article on this debate, and the writer - whose name escapes me - had devised a sort of precise code for herself. A few bits of showing, maybe two or three details, before being broken up by a piece of telling. She argued that this would keep the readers interested, advance the plot, and further create the setting/characters while imparting valuable information.
In my first article, I mentioned that every writer has their own journey. The statement applies here, as well. Certainly, because the World of Writing is so vast, similarities can be found across the board when it comes to writing styles. However, the balance of their description is always different. Unique to them, their story, and their characters.
Please, share your thoughts with us below! What's your take on the "Show, Don't Tell" topic? And if there is any topic or subject you would like to see discussed, please don't be shy!