Posts Tagged ‘Humor’

The X Factor – Rejected

09/23/2011

If the new TV reality show titled The X Factor  were a book the author, Simon Cowell, would receive a letter reading something like this:

Dear Author:

Thank you for your interest in XYZ Publishing.  While your story touches on a subject of interest to many we must decline to accept your work at this time. The opening contained far too much exposition and back story to hold our interest. The frequent retelling of information about the characters identified as  judges causes the reader to begin to lose interest almost immediately.

You should know that the excessive use of flash and bling in your presentation does not make boring material more interesting.  A more subtle hand would result in your audience wanting more, not less, of what you’re offering.

On a positive note, you do show talent for interesting character development in some cases. Scenes with Melanie Amaro and Stacey Francis indicate you do have talent.  Unfortunately, you rushed through a number of scenes that could have added credibility to the story in order to back slide into blatant pandering to what you must believe is a very immature audience. The inclusion of a ridiculous nude scene and the over reaction of a grown woman to the sight of a penis indicates your lack of  ability to self edit and cannot be overlooked.

If you plan to continue to market this material we suggest a major rewrite.  By being less self-indulgent and focusing more on the strength of your characters you could end up with an interesting  and much more appealing piece of work.

Sincerely,

The Editors

XYZ Publishing

XYZ

Prepping for NaNoWriMo

09/12/2011

PREPPING FOR NaNoWriMo with SUSAN MEIER: Online Course

INSTRUCTOR: Susan Meier
DATE: October 1 – October 31, 2011

REGISTER: http://tinyurl.com/PennwritersCourse201110
(LIMITED CLASS SIZE. Enroll now.)

COURSE DESCRIPTION:
Everybody believes NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, which runs every November at http://www.nanowrimo.org) is a race against the clock, a fight with procrastination and inertia. In some ways it is. But once you’re in the thick of things, you’ll discover NaNo is really all about ideas. Writers don’t stall because they’re lazy. Writers stall because they don’t know what to write next.

The month BEFORE NaNo, get proven tips from Susan Meier—the author of almost 50 books for Harlequin and Silhouette—and let her take you through several different ways to examine the story you want to write, to capture the natural scene possibilities within your idea, to generate new ideas, and to push yourself through the most grueling, but fun, month you will spend this year! Lessons include:

* The List of 20 (How to generate ideas quickly so you have little downtime when your natural ideas run out)
* Turning a “Want” into “Need” (How does knowing why you’re writing this book provide you with both energy to write and ideas for your story?)
* The One-Paragraph Story Summary (Say it succinctly…3 kinds of one-paragraph story summaries: back cover blurb, core story question, and growth paragraph)
* Could, Might, Must and Should List (How to capture ideas that spring up naturally)
* Storyboard Versus Synopsis (Breaking your idea down into manageable bites)
* The Psychology of Pushing through the Hard Times (What to do when you get stuck)
* The Psychology of a Draft (Push, push, push!)
* What Are You Doing in December? (Editing tips)

Discover how to get the most out of NaNo and write a publishable novel. LIMITED CLASS SIZE. Enroll now.

REGISTER: http://tinyurl.com/PennwritersCourse201110

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR:
Susan Meier is the author of over 45 books for Harlequin and Silhouette and one of Guideposts‘ Grace Chapel Inn series books, THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS. Her books have been finalists for Reviewers Choice Awards, National Reader’s Choice Awards and Cataromance.com Reviewer’s Choice Awards and nominated for Romantic Times awards. Her book, HER BABY’S FIRST CHRISTMAS won the traditional category in the 2009 More Than Magic contest. HER PREGNANCY SURPRISE, her first release for the Harlequin Romance line, made both Walden’s Bestseller List for Series Romance and Bookscan. MAID FOR THE MILLIONAIRE, MAID FOR THE SINGLE DAD, and COUNTRY TWIN CHRISTMAS are her 2010 releases. Susan loves to teach as much as she loves to write and is a popular speaker at RWA chapter conferences. Can This Manuscript Be Saved? and Journey Steps, Taking the Train to Somewhere! are her most requested workshops. Her article “How to Write a Category Romance” appeared in 2003 Writer’s Digest Novel and Short Story Markets. Susan also gives online workshops for various groups and her articles regularly appear in RWA chapter newsletters. For more information about Susan Meier, visit http://www.susanmeier.com.

* Subscribe to our announcement list for email on our latest online courses!

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/PennwritersOnlineCourses

*****
* For more information on this course, contact Laura M. Campbell, Online Courses Coordinator.
To mail in your registration and payment, send payment at least one week before the course starts using the mail form at this link.

Summer Writing Camp for Kids – Some Results

08/01/2011

Kids pull no punches when asked for commentary and sometimes they volunteer their comments without being asked.

Three weeks ago I taught my first summer writing workshop for kids ages 7-12. It was a weeklong writing camp held at a local community center. For three hours each morning I tried my best to convince 19 kids that being inside with me was more interesting than playing outside with their friends or participating in the Minute-To-Win-It camp across the hall.

Sometime midday on the first day one of the kids asked my why I have a boy’s name. Whoever formatted the sign-in log each child and parent had to sign each morning had listed my name as Ms. Bobbi at the top of the page.

I’ve been asked that question by kids for as long as I can remember, starting with my grade school classmates. I explained as I alway have,  that some names, depending on the spelling, can be used by boys and girls. Bobbi with an “i” is a rare but not unheard of nickname for Barbara, my given name.  And besides, I look like a girl so it’s not a problem.

“Except for that hair,” one observant boy commented to the approval of the rest of the class. Clearly they had been wondering why my hair is so short. I was happy  to tell them about the St. Baldrick’s Foundation and how my husband and I participated in a fundraising event to raise money for research into a cure  for cancer in children. In support of the cause we had volunteered to have our heads shaved.

“I was completely bald then,” I said. “What’s up there now is a lot longer than it was a few weeks ago.”

“Cool,” seemed to be the consensus in the room after that.  And they seemed to settle into the rhythm of creative writing a lot easier when I brought in a photo of Bald Bobbi the next day and we talked about the stories we could write based on that picture.  They accepted me, funny name, weird hair, and all. And I accepted their comments no matter what.

When, at the end of camp, the time came to ask them and their parents to fill out a comment sheet, I trusted them to tell it like it is. They did.

You Are the BEST!  – by Enzo

It’s Good. – Rithvik

This was the BEST! She always gives new things to help us write. When I first got there I was a bit confused, but the next day it was great! Maybe I will sign up next year. –  Joe

I now know how to write a book with chapters. I also learned a lot of skills. – Simran

I wish my Grandma had signed me up for something else. – Nicholas  (Oh well, you can’t win them all and I did ask for the truth.)

Next week I meet a new group of kids for fice days of writing camp. I hope they are looking forward to it as much as I am.

Two Paws Up and a Snap for Rewriting.

07/11/2011

I am very  excited to announce that my book, Storee Wryter Gets a Dog, is named A Best Dog Book for Young Readers in the latest issue of Cesar’s Way Magazine. Cesar being Cesar Milan, The Dog Whisperer, of TV fame.

In honor of the dog theme you may catch me  doing a  spontaneous Snoopy Happy Dance at any moment throughout the coming weeks.

The idea for the Storee Wryter series had been percolating in my creative mind for several years. In fact, the original version of Storee Wryter was very different from the one now available in print, e-book and audio book form.  It was intended as picture book suitable for kids in kindergarten to first grade. The illustrations were clip art and the cover was a self-portrait drawn on card stock. I printed a few copies on my office printer and stapled the pages together.  Then I approached local schools for an opportunity to present the story to a classroom full of kids.

Somehow I pulled it off. I remember being incredibly nervous the day I faced nineteen shining young faces. I was dressed in the same outfit Storee Wryter was wearing in the book.  In the current book Storee represents me at the age of eight. The age I was when I started writing. In the original version Storee was pictured as an adult. I thought it would be a great hook to have the character in the book come to life when doing a reading or book signing.

Most of the kids seemed to enjoy the simple story and I was very pleased when they realized that I was Storee Wryter. However, there was one little critic in the audience  who let me know he felt the story was lame. He rolled his eyes and yawned throughout the reading and when I asked the class if they liked the book he responded with an emphatic, “no.”  That one little voice stayed with me long after I left his school that day. Despite the fact that I knew I had a good concept, I had to agree that something wasn’t quite right and so it sat in my files and in the back of my mind waiting for me to figure out what the problem was.  Eventually I scrapped the orignal version.  Storee Wryter was conceived, in part, to inspire kids to write. I wanted to show them that creativity can be a lifelong passion and that they are natural story tellers now.

That’s when I realized that Storee should be their age. I wrote at eight-years-old. I used the things I knew in everyday life as inspiration. In this new version she would too. Excited by this new inspiration I crafted a completely new story including Crtitique, Storee’s cat, and Addie, a therapy dog in training, providing both Storee and the young readers with inspiration for their writing at the end of each chapter. I  also included writing prompts in the back of the book to encourage the kids to write about their own pets, real or imagined, and send them to Storee on her website or blog.  I was very pleased and thought I was done.  I wasn’t. It took many months and  another complete rewrite suggested by my editor, involving writing for an audience the same age as Storee and expanding the book into a sixty page chapter book,before it was ready to go into production.

Holding the first printed copy in my hands was a moment I will never forget. Receiving  a glowing comment in Cesar’s Way Magazine not only has me dancing in my kitchen, it reconfirmed my belief that the concept is a good one. There will be more Storee Wryter books with Critique as a continuing character.  It was also and excellent reminder that  good writing is, in reality, re-writing. I’m thankful that I listened to my young critic and my wise editor and didn’t stop writing until the book was truly finished.

My question of the week: Have you worked and reworked an idea to finally rewrite it into exactly what you hoped it would be? If so, please tell us what you did and how the story changed through the process.

Now for a short commercial break: Please help me inspire young writers by purchasing a  signed copy of Storee Wryter Gets a Dog for a young reader in your family or donate a copy to a library or charity promoting literacy in your community. To place and order go to: www.storeewryter.com

It’s Been Longer Than A Week

07/07/2011

My intentions were good. I planned on being very good about dates and deadlines and all those things.  I’m pleased to say that writing got in the way. Not the actual putting words on paper or clicking keys on keyboard kind of writing, but the very productive the voices of my characters are talking to me, sort of writing.

I can see the page where I left off and my fingers are itching to get started again. One would think I would be doing that instead of this but that’s not how it works for me. There’s an intangible sense of knowing that comes over me when the time is right. Once that happens I know the words will flow and the story will take shape. Until then I keep my hand in by submitting short stories written months ago or trying out a new market. I teach writing workshops and do readings, all of which I’ve done since the last time I posted here.

At times like this writing is work. However, when the words and ideas are truly flowing writing is like soaring. I know I have to be aware of my surroundings so I don’t crash but the free flow of ideas is such a delight the experience becomes effortless.

Is it like that for you? Do you soar and come to rest in intervals as I do? If not, what does it feel like when the story begins to unfold?

***

I am pleased to say that the work of writing is showing some results as well.  Two of my short stories are scheduled for publication in the online magazine Eerie Digest www.eeriedigest.com Sweet Revenge will appear in the September issue and The Marriage Contract will appear in the October issue.  I like these quirky pieces. Each shows a darker side to this author first published in anthologies like Chicken Soup for the Soul and Cup of Comfort and who is now the author of a book for young readers, Storee Wryter Gets a Dog, www.storeewryter.com

Do you have multiple writing personalities as I do or is your writing entirely focused on one genre?  I look forward to reading your answers. Until next time, write away!

Versatile Blogger Award Leads to Startling Revelation About Past Sins

06/29/2011

 

I want to thank  my friend and fellow member of Penwwriters, Clar Bowman -Jahn for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger Award.  Until I received it I didn’t know anything about this award. Now that I do, I’m honored to have been chosen and will promptly comply with the obligations that go with acceptance.  Those being to nominate five others for the award and to share seven little known facts about me.

The nominees are:

Help Kyria Help Them

Dixianne Hallaj

Annette Dashofy

Lisa Kastner

Heidi Ruby Miller

Seven little known facts about me:

  1.  I wish I could still climb trees.
  2. When asked what I wanted to be when I grew up I always answered, ” brain surgeon.”  I was captivated by Dr. Ben Casey on TV.
  3.  Sometimes when I went to confession I’d make up sins so the priest wouldn’t be disappointed that I didn’t have much to say.
  4.   I wish I had a best friend who knew me when I was  shy and geeky and liked me anyway.   
  5. When it comes to martinis it’s imperative I remember that one is not enough and three is too many. Unfortunately the first one tastes so good I want the second and once I have the second I forget the rest of that saying.
  6.  I was more afraid of my mother than the uncle who molested me so I didn’t dare tell her what he was doing.
  7.  When my husband has to be away overnight I sleep with a light on in the bedroom AND in the bathroom.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words – Workshop Part 1

05/13/2011

Today I’m teaching part one of my two-part course for writers, A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words.

Learn how to evoke real emotion in memoir or personal essays. Participants are encouraged to bring an assortment of candid photos taken at significant moments in their life to use as inspiration in this interactive workshop. Part I will be mostly instructional/writing. In Part II (Sun @ 9:15), participants can share what they wrote in Part I and get helpful feedback

Checkout this link to see the other informative workshops available today. http://www.pennwriters.org/prod/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=255

Yesterday …Continued

05/05/2011

I didn’t finish everything on my list for yesterday but I did a lot. Posters were delivered to Borders Express and the manager there is very enthusiastic about the upcoming signing. The books have been ordered and she plans to set up a table for me right at the front of the store. “This place is a real mommy magnet,” she said. I hope so. We’ll both find out on June 11th.

I didn’t get to Dog Day Afternoon. I couldn’t find the place but I remain  undeterred. I’ll be heading out again later and won’t head home until my mission is accomplished. If you don’t hear from me tomorrow send out a search party, please.

I did go to the post office but have to go back again today. Another one of the books listed for sale on Amazon to benefit the Young Voices Foundation (not my book) has sold.

I wrote a piece for a new blog column I’ll be collaborating on with my husband and my neighbors. It will debut soon and I’ll post more about that when the time comes. The good news about that venture is the responsiblity for content is shared and the postings will be monthly not daily. It also entails socializing and not having to cook dinner. I like that and look forward to spending time with friends on a regular basis.

I entered an excerpt from my creative nonfiction book to a contest seeking the next big idea in Christian writing. The winner is to be announced in two weeks. There are moments in the book that might be a bit raw for the market but I believe the overall message fits the criteria. We shall see.

Today I will work on my presentation for Pennwriters Conference some more and after that I’ll start putting together the baskets for the silent auction held there. The theme for the Area 7 basket this year is Encourage a Young Reader  – Inspire a Young Writer.  Children’s books from board books to YA will be included in the basket. I am also donating a basket myself.  The theme for that one is relaxation and will include a sleep mask, bubble bath, scented candles and soothing music.  That sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?

On that note, I have to get to work. What’s your day going to be like?

What to Write About?

05/04/2011

There are so many things that need my attention today that I am almost paralyzed.  I still have work to do on my upcoming workshop at the Pennwriters Conference next week.  Next week! OMG it’s next week. Yesterday I realized that what has been far on the horizon for so long is now imminent and I’m not quite ready. I’ll get there. I always do but in this moment all I can think is, How on earth can I get it all done?

The Young Voices Awards call for submissions honoring books that Inspire, Mentor, and/or Educate readers of all ages just closed. That means I have to mail the book to the judges for review and scoring. This is another near monumental task that should be done this week. Oh boy.

Today I absolutely must get to the post office to mail the April Book of the Month to the young reader whose name wa selected in the monthly drawing sponsored by the Young Voices Foundation. I’ve already put the information about the May drawing up on the website so that’s one thing I can cross off the to-do list.

I sent my book review column to About Families Publications yesterday afternoon. Not as early as the editor would like it but not late either. About the same time I was hitting the send button on my keyboard two more books for review arrived in the mail. The good news is, I have three weeks before I have to submit another column.

It’s almost eleven o’clock and I’m still in my pajamas and robe. My tea has grown cold and I really need to go to the bathroom. Before I log off to take care of that pressing need and head out to deliver posters announcing my upcoming book signings at Dog Day Afternoon in Leesburg and Borders Express at Dulles Town Center I want to explain why you, my readers, have been subjected to this rant.  It’s because with all of that going on and more I could not think of a single thing to write about this morning. Stop by tomorrow when I hope to have something better to entertain you with.

If You Want to Write

05/03/2011

1. READ  – Novels, Biographies, Books about Sports, signs along the road, read cereal boxes, read plays, read poems. Read  horror and sci fi and romance and mystery. Read blogs and text messages, read on line, use an e-reader or a ratty old book you found under your bed.

2. Learn and use the Rules of Grammar, Punctuation and Form

3. LISTEN- Listen to family stories, listen to music, listen to the news, listen to gossip (don’t repeat it – use it in a story or book or play), listen to little kids and old people. Listen to bird song and crickets. Listen to traffic sounds and hear the life in it. Listen to your dreams and your doubts and make stories out of what you hear.

4. READ - read comic books and graphic novels, read history books and the classics.

5. Write – Write about what you know and what you don’t know. Write about life and death and fish and bubble gum. Write about anything that comes into your head. Some of it will be great – a lot of it will not be great. It doesn’t matter as long as it gets your imagination going. This is how you entice your brain to cut loose with all the imagination stored in there. Let it out and use what you can, store the rest in a file on your computer. You might want it someday.

6. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it. They don’t know what you can do. Only you can decide that. As long as you have ideas you can create stories. But you do have to learn the craft as well as the art. SEE RULE 2 AS OFTEN AS NEEDED.

7. READ – read blogs and text messages. Read on line, use a Kindle, fish that ratty old paperback out from under your bed and read it again.

8. Talk to other writers. Join a writers group if there is one near you. If there isn’t start one. 9. Submit  your work to a contest or for publication –FOLLOW THE GUIDELINES – ALL OF THEM.

10. Never give up. There is a place for you in the writing world.


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