31 March 2009

Pay It Forward: Handmade Stuff

This is something a friend of mine did on Facebook, and while I am doing it there, I'd like to open this project up to my friends in the blogosphere, as well.

The first five (5) people to respond to this post will get something made by me.  This offer does have some restrictions and limitations, so please read carefully:

  1. I make no guarantees you will like what I make.  Whatcha get is whatcha get.
  2. What I create will be just for you, with love.
  3. It'll be done this year (2009).
  4. I won't give you any clue as to what it will be.  It'll be something made in the real world and not something virtual.  It may be weird or beautiful.  It may be monstrous and annoying.  I may even bake something and mail it to you.  Who knows?  Not you, that's for sure!
  5. I reserve the right to do something strange.
  6. In return, all you need to do is post this text into your own blog and make five things for the first five to respond to your post.  Be sure to include the link to your blog when you comment on this post.
  7. Email me with your mailing address to receive your gift!
  8. Once I have my five people, I'll post it on my blog.

IMPORTANT: This offer is null and void if I don't see you post your own pay-it-forward on your blog.

13 hours and 3 minutes...

NaPoWriMo, Anyone?

So...if you've been reading my blog, you've heard of NaNoWriMo.  And Screnzy.  But NaPoWriMo is a new one to me.

NaPoWriMo is a pledge drive for the month of April.  The goal is to collect pledges based on the number of days you participate.  Participation means writing a poem a day during NPM.

Since I'm participating in Screnzy this year, I've decided not to officially participate in NaPoWriMo.  However, when I'm not scribbling a stage play, I just may manage to write at least one poem each week during April to post here on the blog.  If I find I have more free time than I anticipated, I'll write more poems.

If you're poetically inclined, I encourage you to participate.  Even if you're unable to collect any pledges, it could be a fun exercise in poetry.  And I'd be happy to post a link to your poems on your blog or post your poems on my blog.  All you have to do is contact me.

Happy poet-ing!

Do You Tweet?

We've all heard of celebrities hiring writers to co-write or ghost write their memoirs or autobiographies.  (And as someone who has done some ghostwriting, there can be good experience and money in it for the writer!)  It's true that you don't get your byline in ghostwriting, but it's still writing experience, right?

And as blogging has become more popular, ghostwriting blogs for businesses has become a good freelancing opportunity, particularly for writers who have experience blogging.  I myself have done some ghost-blogging.

Well, apparently, social media is reaching even further the freelance industry.  For anyone who is a ghostwriter, Twitter may be the new opportunity.

Twitter — a microblogging tool that uses 140 characters in bursts of text — has become an important marketing tool for celebrities, politicians and businesses, promising a level of intimacy never before approached online, as well as giving the public the ability to speak directly to people and institutions once comfortably on a pedestal.

But someone has to do all that writing, even if each entry is barely a sentence long. In many cases, celebrities and their handlers have turned to outside writers — ghost Twitterers, if you will — who keep fans updated on the latest twists and turns, often in the star’s own voice.

Because Twitter is seen as an intimate link between celebrities and their fans, many performers are not willing to divulge the help they use to put their thoughts into cyberspace.

This provides a unique opportunity for writers.  Ghost-blogging, I think, is a bit easier.  You can write about what's going on in the day-to-day, using information already available for the feel of what you're writing.

Tweeting, though, is more personal for many people.  It's sort of a running commentary about what's going on in the person's life throughout the day, even including direct responses to other Tweeters at an almost dizzying IM-like pace.  That can make it much more difficult to use as a freelancing opportunity.  (I think it would be a little like ghost-writing for someone in a chatroom.)

I haven't been tweeting long, but I'm starting to "get" it, I think.  I don't know that I'd ever ghost-tweet, but I see the draw for the general public, as well as for people who use it as a marketing opportunity.

If you tweet already, you've taken the first step to being able to utilize this freelance opportunity.  However, I recommend you make sure you have a strong foundation of Twitter before you offer to use your skills for others.

What freelance opportunities will social media provide for us next?

NOTE: Do you tweet?  If so, feel free to add me!

30 March 2009

As if Screnzy isn't enough....

I've been talking a lot about Screnzy lately.  I'm excited about participating again, and since I've been preparing for it, it's been dominating my free time.  However, there is another event in April that's definitely worth mentioning.

According to poets.org

National Poetry Month is a month-long, national celebration of poetry established by the Academy of American Poets. The concept is to widen the attention of individuals and the media—to the art of poetry, to living poets, to our complex poetic heritage, and to poetry books and journals of wide aesthetic range and concern. We hope to increase the visibility and availability of poetry in popular culture while acknowledging and celebrating poetry’s ability to sustain itself in the many places where it is practiced and appreciated.

I've already signed up to receive a poem each day to my email inbox, and on April 30th, I'll be celebrating Poem In Your Pocket Day.  In addition, I'll be celebrating the month here on this blog by posting poems (even some original ones!), information about some poets I admire, and even a bit of information here and there about writing poetry.

To further encourage the celebration of NPM, I would be happy to share some of your favorite poems here, or link to NPM posts on your blog or website.

If you'd like to share a poem, you can email me with the poem, poet, and source, and a few sentences about why you're sharing the poem.  You can send me a link to your NPM posts on your own blog or site and I'll promote them, as well.  If you'd like to send an original poem, please include a few sentences about yourself to serve as a brief bio.

29 March 2009

Staying Organized in the Midst of Boxes

My husband and I are currently apartment-hunting.  We're looking for a two- or three-bedroom apartment near Hubby's office, and we're hoping to move relatively soon.  It's exciting because I'll be happy to be in a bigger place (maybe even with a whole room for my office!), but moving is always a challenge, and I'm not looking forward to packing up all my office stuff and getting it all organized once we get settled.

Let me tell you something.  I hate moving.  Growing up, I was an Army brat, so every few years I spent a week packing up my life into boxes, and when we got to our new house, I spent a week unpacking and organizing my life again.  As a result, I could happily move somewhere and stay there the rest of my life.  Granted, it would have to be a nice place, but if it meant never moving again, I'd be happy.

Regardless of how I feel about moving, it's happening.  So in addition to packing up the lives of myself, my husband, my future son, and our fur babies, I'm charged with keeping my writing organized so that I can continue to work while we're moving.

Fun, huh?

Thankfully, I think I've figured out a few ways to do that with minimal headaches and maximum productivity.

First of all, I'm working on making sure everything is organized now.  I have a bin with my writing/research files in it, and while we're looking into apartments I'm making sure I have easy access to my active files, that my inactive files are stored properly, and that new things get filed properly right away.  That will keep me from needing to organize while I'm packing, and will ensure I can find things easily no matter what stage of moving we're in.  As part of that organization, I'm also updating my files.  For example, things I haven't needed in quite some time can get packed in a separate spot from my active files.  It will help avoid clutter.

Another thing is that my office will be the last packed and first unpacked.  It's a little easier for me since I have a laptop, but if possible, I recommend that even desktop users keep their computers up and running as long as possible in the moving process.  Setting up my office as early as possible at the new place also encourages me to organize my space right away.  Not only because I'll be able to get back to work right away, but it helps keep my writing organized no matter how much is left to unpack in the rest of the house.

Finally, I use moving as an excuse to make sure everything is set up exactly the way I want it.  Sometimes, after I've set up my office, things get moved around as I use them, and after a while, things aren't the way I like them anymore.  When I move, I can get things back to the way I want them.

Even with keeping things organized and waiting as long as possible to move my office, not having access to things, even for a brief time, is inevitable when you move.  After all, you have to get from one place to the other, don't you?  And if you don't have the Internet set up right away (or turned off at your old place a bit early), there could be some dead time.  It's not fun, but it's part of the process.

How do you stay productive during a move?

28 March 2009

Approach Your Starting Mark!

Ladies and gentlemen, lights up is nearly upon us!  

I can hardly believe it's been a year since I wrote Do You Remember? (which was inspired by a scene I wrote for a college playwriting class) for last year's ScriptFrenzy, but here we are again.

This year's plot is inspired by my coffee house book.  The entire play takes place at a single table in a coffee house over the course of one day.  Essentially, it explores the types of people that go to this coffee house, giving readers (and me) a bit of an insight into the characters in my coffee house book.  I'm hoping to use some of the dialogue in my coffee house book, in fact.

As I mentioned before, I'm not as prepared for Screnzy09 as I'd like to be, but I feel like some of what I'm going to write needs to come as the scenes develop through writing.  So I may have to spend a bit of time during April doing a little background information, but it's a small price to pay for the play I think will develop from this idea.  I think it's going to be a lot of fun to write.

One of the things I've done to get ready for Screnzy09 is to go back through my script from Screnzy08.  I've used it to refresh my memory about formatting, but it's served to remind me that I really do enjoy playwriting.  I could see myself writing plays more often.

I know that, in my heart, I'll always be a prose writer, but playwriting is a nice change of pace for me.  So I'm counting down to April 1st with eager anticipation.

Are you ready?

Off the Page and onto the Screen

One of my favorite children's books is Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak.  There were many times during childhood I wanted to escape my bedroom to a wilder place.  Sendak's story let me do that.  As a child, all I had to do was flip through the pages of the book and I didn't have to think about school or annoying siblings or anything else.  For a brief time, I was free to be wild with only the limits of my imagination.

And now, to bring me back to my childhood, as well as inspire the wild child in all of us, Where the Wild Things Are is hitting the big screen!  I'm ecstatic about this, and can't wait to see what modern film technology can do with a story about a boy's imagination.

I don't know about you, but on October 16th, I'll be in line for the adventure!

26 March 2009

Coffee-Stained Nightstand: Next Up

I know I'm a bit behind in my reading.  I finished The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, and I've been rereading The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde.  Since these are rereadings, I've decided not to give my reflections of them.

Up next is another rereading, but for this one I will be sharing my reflections.  It's been a while since I've read it, and I'm approaching it with a very different perspective this time around.  So my next reading is Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament by Kay Redfield Jamison (author of An Unquiet Mind: a Memoir of Moods and Madness).

As I mentioned, this is a rereading.  However, it gets a bit dense with statistics and information, so I'll be taking my time reading it, picking it apart, and even doing additional research as I go along.  I'm really looking forward to this one.

Oh, no!

It has been brought to my attention that Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde is not going to be released in the USA until December 2009.

Really?  December?  Are ya kiddin'?  It's a good thing I'm so excited about his new release.  There aren't many writers I'd maintain this level of anticipation for, especially after a delay of five months.  Then again, neither do I want to rush him.  This is important work he's doing!

For those not in the Ffordean universe, it was scheduled to be released in the USA in July 2009.  However, I can take solace in the fact that this British writer will not be releasing it in the UK until January 2010.  For once, I get a Fforde book first!  Ha ha!

19 March 2009

ScriptFrenzy Awaits: Prepping for April 2009

I know some of you may be hiding from ScriptFrenzy.  And that's fine.  But I'm excited about being able to stretch my playwriting muscles a little next month.

So I've been trying to brainstorm about what I can write this year.  I've finally come up with an idea, but all I've got is an idea.  No plot, no characters, nothing but an idea/setting.  Scary, huh?

Usually by now I've decided on a plot and started outlining for the marathon.  It makes me a little nervous that I have no idea about the details yet.  If ScriptFrenzy were starting tomorrow, I'm afraid I'd have to waste precious writing time figuring out characters and a story arc.  I'd much rather spend precious writing time actually doing some writing.

But it's not March 31st yet.  So I still have time.

The good thing is that I do have an idea.  A starting place.  So, worst case scenerio, I can sit down at midnight on April 1st and start describing the setting, and that might be just enough to get me going on the rest.

Once I come up with a suitable plot description, I'll be sure to share it.  Until then, I'll be stopping in coffee houses every chance I get to, hopefully, develop my germ of an idea into something that can end up 100+ pages.

15 March 2009

Lenten Reflection

I've been doing Lenten reflections on Friday, but this weekend has been a bit strange, so I'm a bitteen behind in my blogging.  So I'm posting today instead.

This week went by so quickly!  It's already mid-March, and Easter will be here before we know it!

This week has been full of prayer.  My husband had a job interview, so he and I have been praying (both together and separately) about it.  We still haven't heard, so please keep us in your thoughts and prayers.

To be honest, his job interview has been a great boost to my faith.  With everything that's been going on in our lives in the past year or so, I'm thankful that we're getting to where we are.  But it's not just that.  I was raised in a Protestant home, and in my life, "Let go and let God" was a frequent mantra.  So I have always been of the mind that, at some point, we have to let go of whatever we're trying to fix and let the Lord handle it in His Own Time.  And then, things happen.

Matthew 19:26 (NASB) says, "...Jesus said to them, 'With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'"

This week, that's been very helpful to me.  Several months ago (even a few weeks ago), Hubby felt that he could never get a good job.  But since he's been putting his faith in the Lord and letting things happen, everything's coming together.

Romans 8:28, 31 (NASB) says, "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.  What then shall we say to these things?  If God is for us, who is against us?"

This is a passage that's been coming to mind a lot lately, as well.  Everything has been falling into place, and it's because the Lord has a plan.  And as long as the Lord is on our side, what does it matter if others are against us?

This has been an inspiring week for me.  Things are all coming together for Hubby and me, and it's really amazing to see.  It's almost surreal the way things fall into place when it's time for them to.  And it's been a great inspiration to me, reminding me that the Lord is at work in our lives, putting things together the way they belong.

There were so many times I told Hubby, "It'll be okay.  Just pray.  It'll be okay."  And now I feel like he can see why I've been saying that all along.

10 March 2009

ScriptFrenzy Awaits!

For those whose wrists are still in braces thanks to the madness in November, you may want to skip over this post.  For all others, read on!

ScriptFrenzy 2009 is upon us!

April 1st marks the first day of furious writing for all those theatre/TV/radio-minded of us.  This is only the third ScriptFrenzy ever, and it's sure to be even more exciting than last year!  (And believe me, last year was crazy!!)

Now that I have you all excited about writing with a crazy deadline (though no one could be more excited than Dana, of course), you're probably wondering just what ScriptFrenzy is.  Well, look at the title.  Script.  Frenzy.  It's a frenzied script-writing extravaganza!

The idea is similar to NaNoWriMo with a few minor changes.

  1. You're writing a script instead of prose.  It can be a stage play, TV show, screenplay, radio show, or skit for your neighbor's kids.  Whatever.  But it's a script.
  2. Instead of counting words, you're counting pages.  ScriptFrenzy is a lot easier.  Instead of writing 50,000 words, you write 100 pages of script.  And let me tell you, 100 pages of script is nothin'.  After all, you can take up half a page with just a few lines of dialogue.  Last year, I did it in about four days, and I was working outside the house full time.

That's it, folks.  Everything else is pretty much the same as NaNo.  You sign up on the site, when you're done you verify your script, and there's a great support system on their website, just like with NaNoWriMo.

I really enjoy writing scripts.  It challenges me to think about the importance of every word of dialogue and how everything a character says reveals something about him or her.  Plus, sometimes I like thinking about a story in 3D (stage setting).  It's a nice change of pace.

So if you've ever wondered if maybe you could write a script one day, April 1st is "one day."  The site is live and ready for you to register, and I'll be scripting right along with you all month.

Come on.

It'll be fun!


08 March 2009

Coffee-Stained Nightstand: Next Up

I've decided to reread The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison for my first book this month.  March is Women's History Month, so I thought it would be appropriate to read an influential woman writer.

From the back cover:

The Bluest Eye is Toni Morrison's first novel, a book heralded for its richness of language and boldness of vision.  Set in the author's girlhood hometown of Lorain, Ohio, it tells the story of black, eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove.  Pecola prays for her eyes to turn blue so that she will be as beautiful and beloved as all the blond, blue-eyed children in America.  In the autumn of 1941, the year the marigolds in the Breedloves' garden do not bloom, Pecola's life does change--in painful, devastating ways.

With its vivid evocation of the fear and loneliness at the heart of a child's yearning, and the tragedy of its fulfillment, The Bluest Eye remains one of Toni Morrison's most powerful, unforgettable novels--and a significant work of American fiction.

Prayer Requests

This week, please pray with me that:
  • Those seeking employment and financial stability can find what they need to care for themselves and their families.
  • Those who are losing their homes to foreclosure can find a warm, safe place to stay.
  • Those observing Lent are finding ways to strengthen their faith every day.
If you would like to add a prayer request, please feel free to email me, or simply comment on this post.

06 March 2009

Lenten Reflection

I have to admit that this week, Lent has not gone as I expected it would.  I had high hopes for this Lenten season, but being pregnant has sort of changed things around a bit.  I was frustrated for a few days about it (I felt a bit like a failure), but after praying about it and reading more on Lent, I've adjusted my expectations of myself so things are going much better.

I'm a member of a Catholic forum, and there's been lots of conversation going on among women who are pregnant right now, and how it's affecting their Lenten experience.  One woman, for example, was told by her doctor not to change her diet at all during Lent, including abstaining from meat on Fridays.  Another woman has been ill and exhausted, so she hasn't been able to tend to her daily routine, let alone the "extras" of Lent.  However, we're all finding other ways to make this season special.

I have to keep reminding myself that Lent is a spiritual time more than a physical time.  Yes, people are asked to abstain from meat on Fridays and "give something up" for the season, but it's meant to remind us of the sacrifice Christ made for us.  It's meant to bring us closer to our faith as we prepare for Easter.

So if I can't get up as early as I'd like in order to pray, I can set aside time during the day to pray.  And if I need to eat meat to keep me from feeling ill, I can find something else to give up that day instead.

Ultimately, I have to take care of myself and the baby, and the Lord knows that.

03 March 2009

The Future of Publishing, with an Optimistic Twist

Nathan Bransford is continuing Positivity Week today with a post about the future of the publishing industry: the digital age.

When I began reading it, I couldn't help but thinking, "Digital books?  As if there isn't enough schlock on the shelves, let's make it easier to get 'published'!"  I wondered how Bransford could possibly twist this post to fit Positivity Week.

But I'm encouraged.  Bransford says:

[...H]ere's what's going to happen in the digital era: anyone will be able to publish their book, and there will be no distribution barrier. The same eBook stores that stock Stephenie Meyer and Dan Brown will stock, well, you. Readers will be the ones who decide what becomes popular. There will be no intermediary. It will be just as easy to buy a book by you as it will be to buy the HARRY POTTER of the future. Your book will be just a few keystrokes away from everyone with an internet connection (and their tablet/eReader/iPhone/gizmo/whatchamacallit of the future).

Just think about it: no wondering how in the world your book is going to find its way past a publisher into a bookstore. No more print runs! No one will be doomed by a publisher and bookstores underbetting on their success. No more bottleneck. No more que......... well, there will always be queries. Sorry!

Books will finally be able to live and die by, well, themselves, not by the best guesses of the publishing industry.

If you're concerned about the future of books, or just curious what people in the industry are saying about it, go read the rest of Bransford's post.  It would be a big change, but ultimately, it could be a really great thing.

Hooray for Positivity Week!

02 March 2009

Need Some Warm Fuzzies?

If so, check out this great post by Nathan Bransford.

As someone who loves writing but gets frustrated with the publishing industry and the editing process and, sometimes, everything having to do with being a writer, this post was a much-needed reminder that not everyone in the publishing indutry is snarky and bleak-hearted.

Thank you Mr. Bransford.  I look forward to the rest of Positivity Week!

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

Today is the anniversary of Ted Seuss Geisel's birth.  Were he living, he'd be 105 years old.

In honor of his birthday, I urge to you take a few moments, head back to childhood, and read your favorite Dr. Seuss book.  There are so many wonderful stories to choose from, and no matter which one you choose, you won't be disappointed.

Happy birthday, sir.  And thank you for your stories.


01 March 2009

March Writing Goals

We're finally stepping away from winter and toward spring.  Orlando's winter has been a bit colder than I like, but much more tolerable than, say, Illinois.  (Sorry, Frazzoo.)  When spring is coming, I always feel more energized and find more writing projects to work on, and this year is no different.  I've found myself thinking of short story ideas lately, wanting to work on the coffee house book, and eager to be writing all the time.  So I'm setting some goals for myself to try and utilize this renewed energy I have.

  • Get back to working on the coffee house book every day (at least two hours).  There's lots to be done, and I've left it for far too long.
  • Set aside at least thirty minutes each day to scribble in my writing journal.  It can be a character sketch, the description of a random setting, bits of dialogue, whatever.
  • Update writing portfolio to include some recent projects.

Coffee-Stained Nightstand: a Reflection

I finished reading The Heroines by Eileen Favorite.  

Being a Fforde Ffan, I had high expectations of a novel in which heroines from classic literature show up at an Illinois bed and breakfast for rest, relaxation, and a break from the drama of their inky lives.

I will tell you this book was not what I expected.  The drama in the story had more to do with the narrator, daughter of the innkeeper, than the heorines that came to stay, but because of what happens in the story--a thirteen-year-old daughter feels slighted by her mother in favor of the Heroines--there are some good literary moments.

I really, actually, enjoyed the structure of the story.  The chapters were laid out in the way classic literature used to be (the chapter title, and a few subtitles letting the reader know what to expect in the chapter), and the chapters went back and forth between the current plot and giving background to let the reader know why that part of the plot is significant or how a certain situation came to pass.  In effect, there were two stories going on, but it worked.

One criticism I have for the book is the way it wrapped up.  I felt the ending was sort of tacked on in an attempt to give the readers some sort of satisfaction.  I would much rather have had an open ending than the one I was provided.  It's not that I didn't like the ending, or that it didn't fit necessarily, but the way in which it was written left a lot to be desired, in my opinion.  It should have been longer, or omitted completely.

For those looking for a light, fun read about an interesting situation, this is a pretty good read.  I prefer Fforde, but it wasn't bad.