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Friday, September 30, 2016

More about Music & other Fun Things (#atozchallenge)


         In last Friday's post,  Csenge offered some great ideas about the inspiration that music can offer to those who write.  If you appreciate music and missed this post you might want to go back and check it out.  In the mean time thinking about music brings to mind something else that has become a favorite blogging event of mine and many other bloggers:  The Battle of the Bands.

   
       The Battle of the Bands (#BOTB) event which is managed by Stephen T. McCarthy has been going on since 2013.  Three years is not too shabby of a record for such an intensive ongoing event, one which happens twice every month on the 1st and 15th.  A small core of fervent music lovers join in regularly to enjoy the presented battles and then vote on favorites.
        The premise is simple.  Participants find two versions of the same song by different artists or in some cases different songs with similar themes or in other cases some other variation of pitting one performance against another.  Visitors to each battle listen and then decide which performance they like best and cast a vote.  It's a lot of fun which considering that I've been participating on Tossing It Out from the beginning I guess I'm hooked on this event.

         Typically I will tie in a theme to my battles which gives those not interested in the music or who can't listen to the music for some reason an opportunity to still join in a conversation about my theme.  My upcoming battles will be themed around the U.S. presidential election, but don't worry--there shouldn't be too much that will be contentious other than what might appear in the comment sections.  My intent is to offer some food for thought plus what I hope will be music my visitors will enjoy.

          If you haven't visited one of my BOTB posts then please join me at Tossing It Out for my next one on Saturday October 1st and cast your vote or at least weigh in on the topic.  

More Events...

        A to Z'er Mary Lou Quinn from Me in the Middle asked:
Can you recommend some other Blogfests, Arlee?   I'd like to see what else is out there that fits my goals for my website. 

         Great question for which my answer may not totally address your needs, but might be helpful to some others if not you.   Frankly I've limited myself to a handful of blog events, though if I run across something that sounds interesting I might jump in because the nature of how it sets my mind to working.  But those are one time events that you just have to watch out for.

            Our long time A to Z Team associate Alex J Cavanaugh often mentions events at his site.  He also hosts the monthly Insecure Writer's Support Group which has many participants.  This event is especially good for anyone who considers themselves writers.  I've participated in IWSG since its inception five years ago.  If you're like me you can probably always think of something to write about.   I guess we'd better if we're writers.  Look for the next IWSG community posting on Wednesday October 5th.  

             Two other regular blogging events are hosted by  at A Life Examined
Michael mentioned that he is looking for someone to take these over for him.   Question of the Month and FlashBack Fridays have potential for growth if someone wants to take on either of these responsibilities.  Visit his blog to leave him a comment that you are interested or leave a comment below that you would like for him to contact you.  FlashBack Friday is another I participate in on Tossing It Out so my Friday September 30th post is part of this event.  I'll address my Question of the Month at Tossing It Out on Saturday in tandem with my BOTB post. 




            
Now It's the Readers' Turn...

         Can you suggest any ongoing blogging events for those who are wishing to reach out more (or just have fun)?    Do you know of any special blog fests that are coming up?    Do you have an idea for a blogfest that you'd like to see?



Friday, September 23, 2016

Putting the "muse" in "music" - What's your writing jam?

The more I talk to other writers, the more I realize how great a source of inspiration music provides for all of us. Every year during A to Z, many people use their daily posts to share some of their favorite, most nostalgic, most deserving pieces of music, and it is always a treat to browse through those posts. In my own research, I have conversations with people who reveal the many uses music can have in the creative writing process.

Do you do any of these?

Have a playlist for a specific writing project
Do you meticulously assemble a list of songs that are somehow associated with your WIP? Do you often wish that you could publish a soundtrack CD along with your book? Do you have your go-to station on Pandora while you are busy typing away?
(Some writes are better at this last one than others. Some of us require silence when we write - but we still need out music when we are planning!)

Have a playlist for a specific character
Do you have characters in your writing who come with their own mix tape? Do you make lists thinking about what songs your heroes listen to (or would listen to, if they had the time and the means)? Do you come across songs and thing "this is totally Her/Him/Them"! Do your love stories have Their Songs?

Have characters or stories inspired by music
Have you ever listened to a song, staring out the window of a train or jogging away on a treadmill, and though "ooh, this would make a great story!" Have you ever watched a music video, saw a character, and thought to your self "I want to know about that one!" Have you ever been so taken with the mood of a piece of music that you had to put it into words?

Share your music with other writers
Have you ever said the words "YOU GOTTA LISTEN TO THIS!"?

We'll listen! Tell us what your favorite writing music is. Tell us if (and how) music inspires your writing. Tell us about that one nostalgic song that always makes you want to write.
Give us all something to listen to!


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Comics, graphic novels, and diversity

With the rise of crowdfunding, and the increased demand for diversity and representation (especially in children's and YA literature), there have been more and more artistic projects that gathered a lot of support from readers to bring that diversity to the surface. In this post, I brought you some of my recent favorites from the world of comics and graphic novels. I think they are not only great reads, but also very interesting projects that deserve more awareness.

Moonshot: The Indigenous comics collection
The first volume of this wonderful series came out last year, following a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign. It contains a collection of stories created by indigenous writers and artists from the United States and Canada. The artwork is stunning, and the stories are amazing and diverse combining several genres, styles, and emotions. The freebies and swag that came with the Kickstarter were also very much worth having (all of my bookmarks are from them). Since as a teacher I often run into students having only the vaguest idea of contemporary indigenous cultures and art, I think it is a very important (not to mention great) project to promote.
The Kickstarer for the second volume is running right now - it is not too late to jump in!

Elements: Fire (A comics anthology by creators of color)
This is the first installment of an anthology series, created by writers and artists of color, inspired by the #WeNeedDiverseBooks movement. The Kickstarter just recently ended, and the book will be out soon! The artwork we have seen so far is gorgeous, the cast of stories and characters promises amazing diversity in themes, and the volume has an impressive lineup of creators. You can follow editor Taneka Stotts on Twitter for updates!



The Secret Loves of Geek Girls
Edited by Hope Nicholson (the same lady who edited Moonshot), this collection was also born with the help of Kickstarter, and contains stories about geeky love. I can honestly say that this book changed my life. There are many types of love, and many emotions contained in the stories, all presented with humor, and empathy, and great skill in artistic expression. There is also a great range of gender identities and sexualities represented; it is indeed a diverse book. Presented with pop culture references, and all things geeky.
Nicholson mentioned that there might be a "Secret Loves of Geek Boys" in the works; keep an eye on Kickstarter and her news feed!

Sunstone
MAJOR ADULT CONTENT
I know it might not seem like at first blink that a lesbian BDSM romance would make this list of diverse books, but bear with me. I am the odd Internet inhabitant who knew next to nothing about BDSM subculture (other than "Fifty Shades of Grey is NOT it"), let alone read a graphic novel centered on it... And yet when I read a review on Hanna Givens' blog during her 2015 A to Z of LGBT+ comic book characters, it sounded like such a fun story, I had to check it out.
It really is. It is a great story. It is a love story, with a whole lot of awkward cuteness and humor and very real characters with very real problems and flaws. It does not sensationalize BDSM culture, and also doesn't portray it as some kind of a dark, deviant thing - it is simply something people enjoy doing. The artwork is gorgeous, and while it is definitely NSFW, it stays on the tasteful and suggestive side. It was originally posted on Deviantart (still available on there for free); Stjepan Šejić is an extremely talented artist, whose characters can show a range of emotions just by facial expression and body language.

Now this is, obviously, an incomplete and subjective selection. I encourage everyone to browse freely in the world of diverse comics and graphic novels, and let us know about YOUR favorites!

(Or maybe make an A to Z theme out of them? ;) )

Friday, September 9, 2016

New and upcoming story collections to keep an eye on

Hi All! Your resident storyteller and folktale blogger here. Since not many news sources bother with updating you on upcoming folk- and fairy tale collections, here are a few delicious new books to keep an eye out for if you (or your friends) love tales, legends, and mythology:

The Power of a Tale: Stories from the Israel Folktale Archives
A collection of 53 folktales celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Israel Folktale Archives at the University of Haifa. The stories represent 26 ethnic groups from Israel, 22 of them Jewish:  "The narrators of the stories come from a variety of ethnic backgrounds and education levels. They include both men and women of various ages who worked in diverse fields. Some were long settled in Israel while others were recent arrivals when their stories were collected and transcribed. They all shared one conspicuous quality-their talent as storytellers. The stories they tell encompass a myriad of genres and themes, including mythical tales, historical legends, sacred legends, demon legends, realistic legends, märchen of various sorts, novellas, jokes and anecdotes, and personal narratives."

The book looks like a very promising collection, and a great example of diversity in the oral tradition. 

Tales of the Narts: Ancient Myths and Legends of the Ossetians
The first English edition of the Ossetian Nart corpus (published this summer), this book is full of amazing stories. The Narts are a group of legendary heroes and warriors that go on epic adventures, fight mythical monsters, and live their lives with courage, passion, and a great deal of curiosity. There has been a theory recently that the Nart sagas have been responsible for the beginnings of Arthurian legends, and while the theory is questionable for multiple reasons, they definitely have all the makings of awesome hero stories.
(I will be doing a performance of these tales in California in October, and I love working with them!)

Nart Sagas: Ancient Myths and Legends of the Circassians and Abkhazians
The second edition of this volume is now available, after a long hiatus. Like the stories in the book above, these are also tales of the Nart heroes, collected from the traditions of different Caucasian ethnic groups. Published with ample commentary, footnotes, linguistic appendices, and everything else you always wanted to know about Caucasian mythology but never thought to ask.

George Macpherson: The Old Grey Magician
One of Scotland's most famous living storytellers, George Macpherson has once again created a truly amazing book: He tracks one mysterious figure, the Grey Magician, across time and space, from legend to legend, from tale to tale, trying to find out who he is, what he wants, and how he affects events in some of the most famous Celtic traditions, such as the Fionn Cycle. If you are interested in Scottish lore or Celtic myth at all, this one is a must-read.




Happy reading to all the folklore-lovers out there!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Announcing the 2016 IWSG Anthology Contest!

The annual IWSG Anthology Contest is now open! 


Last year’s contest was science fiction – parallel world/alternate history, and the result was Parallels: Felix Was Here. This year, we have a new theme and invite all members to submit.

Eligibility: Any member of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group is encouraged to enter – blogging or Facebook member. The story must be previously unpublished. Entry is free.

Word count: 5000-6000

Genre: Fantasy

Theme: Hero Lost. It could be about a hero turned villain, a villain's redemption, a hero's lack of confidence, a hero's lack of smarts, etc. It can be about any kind of hero including superheroes, mythological heroes, unexpected or unlikely heroes, or a whole new kind of hero. This theme has plenty of scope and we’re open to pretty much anything along these lines. No erotica, R-rated language, or graphic violence.

Deadline: November 1st 2016

How to enter: Send your polished, formatted, previously unpublished story to admin @ insecurewriterssupportgroup.com before the deadline passes. Please include your contact details and if you are part of the Blogging or Facebook IWSG group.

Judging: The IWSG admins will create a shortlist of the best stories. The shortlist will then be sent to our official judges.

Prizes: The winning stories will be edited and published by Freedom Fox Press next year in the IWSG anthology. Authors will receive royalties on books sold, both print and eBook. The top story will have the honor of giving the anthology its title.

We’re excited to see the creativity and enthusiasm that’s such a part of this group put into action. So don your creative caps and start writing. And spread the word!

Our amazing judges this year:

Elizabeth S. Craig writes cozy mystery series for Penguin Random House, Midnight Ink, and independently. She curates links on Twitter as @elizabethscraig that are later shared in the free search engine WritersKB.com.

Richard Harland finished his first novel in 1993 and resigned a university lectureship to become a full-time writer. With seventeen fantasy, SF and horror novels published since, he went international with his steampunk fantasies, Worldshaker, Liberator and Song of the Slums. He has won six Aurealis Awards and the A. Bertram Chandler Award in Australia, the Tam Tam Je Bouquine Award in France. Writing Tips

Laura Maisano has an MA in Technical writing and is a Senior Editor at Anaiah Press for their YA/NA Christian Fiction. She’s excited to release her debut YA Urban Fantasy SCHISM, and she’s finishing up the sequel UNITY.

Russell C. Connor has been writing horror since the age of 5, and has been in the self-publishing industry for a decade. He has published 8 novels and 4 novellas in both paperback and eBook, including the Box Office of Terror Trilogy and "Whitney," an epic horror novel about hurricane survivors fighting a washed-ashore sea monster. He also designs books for clients and assists them with self-publishing endeavors.

Dawn Frederick is the founder of Red Sofa Literary, previously of Sebastian Literary Agency, and she brings a broad knowledge of the book business to the table—with multiple years of experience as a bookseller in the independent, chain, and specialty stores; sales, marketing, & book development at a YA publisher, a published nonfiction author, and an agent associate literary agent at Sebastian Literary Agency.

Michelle L. Johnson is a literary agent, the founder of Inklings Literary Agency and has a business administration background in addition to a lifetime of working with books (sales, editing, and writing) and authors (marketing, promoting, event planning), and also has been a script/story consultant for an independent film.

Ion Newcombe is the editor and publisher of AntipodeanSF, Australia's longest running online speculative fiction magazine, regularly issued since January 1998. His qualifications and employment range from horticulture through electronics into literature and communications.

Author, Public Speaker, and Executive Producer, Lynn Tincher was born just outside of Louisville, Kentucky in the beautiful city of La Grange. She has written four books, with the fifth one currently in the making. Her first book, Afterthoughts was optioned for movie production by Kilted Pictures and Dancing Forward Productions in Los Angeles. It is currently in pre-production with plans to shoot in Louisville, Kentucky very soon.

What story can you come up with?