The OFFICIAL MASTER LIST: (sign-ups are closed)

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Amy Burle: Write! Write! Write!

Amy Willoughby-Burle is the author of Out Across the Nowhere, a collection of short stories. Her fiction has appeared in numerous literary journals such as Potomac Review, Inkwell, Sycamore Review, Reed Magazine, The MacGuffin and many others. She is the editor of Blue Lotus Review, an online journal for literature, art, and music.

Amy was raised in the small coastal town of Kure Beach, North Carolina. She graduated with a BA in English (and an unfinished Masters in Creative Writing — "sorry Mom and Dad") from East Carolina University. She spent several years in her husband's home state of Missouri before getting homesick for North Carolina. She now lives in the mountains near Asheville with her very gracious husband and three children. In her spare tune she searches the universe for hidden portals to magical places.  Please welcome her to the A-Z Blog!

The Secret Hidden Portal to “Writing Time.”

During my time on the A to Z April Challenge I chose to post excerpts from my novel in progress The Lemonade Year. As a homeschooling mom of 3 (4 by the time this post appears), homemaker and part-time grocery clerk, I knew I wanted to try my hand at daily blogging, but my writing time is limited.

Who’s isn’t, you’re probably chortling. Well, that’s my point exactly. I’ve been asked on many occasions—“How do you find time to write?” Answer” “I don’t.”

I make the best use of the time I already have. There’s no extra time hiding under the couch cushions. Believe me, I’ve looked. Writing time already exist within your day, you just have to utilize it. That sounds a lot like good old fashioned time management doesn’t it? You nailed it. That’s all it is. There is no secret portal to “writing time.” Darn.

Here’s some advice that I give for making sure you use the time you have and use it well.

1.      No amount of time is too small. Don’t wait for some magical large amount of free time to present itself. It might not, so keep your writing utensil (laptop, notebook, etc.) at the ready. Keep it open and available. Write even if you think you’ll only get 10 minutes or 250 words on the page. All that writing will add up fast! All the days you spent waiting for more time will go by even faster!

2.      Don’t worry about writing crap. You will. I do. It’s called a first draft. Don’t say things like “I can’t write till I know exactly what’s going to happen or how I’m going to say it.” There’s a good chance that you’re just stalling. That’s why you revise and edit.

3.      Don’t set up too many rituals around your writing. You can LIKE, but don’t NEED to have complete silence, a cup of tea on the upper, right hand side of your desk, sun shining in your window, to be wearing your favorite shirt or drinking from your favorite cup, etc. 

4.      Be able to write anywhere. You don’t need a writing desk, a private room, or a padded wall sanctuary. Be flexible. If you know you’re going to be sitting in the waiting room at the orthodontists for 2 hours, take your laptop or notebook and write. Your legs stretched out across two chairs make a fine desk. (Yes, I actually did this.)

5.      Write when you’re not even writing. At the start of your day, turn your brain on. Tell it which scene, character, plot twist, etc. you plan to deal with that day. Let your brain churn while you’re driving, folding laundry, filing, making copies, whatever. This will surprise you. Ever been searching your brain for the name of some actor in a movie you saw 20 years ago only to give up, assuming you’ll never remember it and then 2 days later, while you’re in the middle of a meeting, you shout out the actor’s name while your boss is talking. See what I mean?

6.      Monitor the time you spend online. Answer e-mails and visit message boards quickly and effectively. You don’t really NEED to know whose cat just ate a box of crayons or whose adorable children just built a replica of the statue of liberty out of toilet paper rolls. You don’t HAVE to comment on these things. Don’t let the internet become a time vampire. Be purposeful, blogging and following blogs that are meaningful to your overall goal. Networking IS important in this business (HUGELY), but those contacts will only come in handy if you actually have a product for sale. Keep a good balance on these two aspects of the writing business.

7.      Be realistic. You know what you will do and what you won’t do. Don’t plan to write for 2 hours starting at 5am if you know you aren’t going to do that. Don’t sabotage yourself and your writing by setting goals that you aren’t going to keep.

8.      Don’t tie your writing time to your goals for a perfect life. Meaning: This is not a New Year’s resolution. This is real. Don’t include “finding” time to write into eating healthy and doing yoga twice a day and remodeling the guest room into a writing den and wearing only organic cotton. Don’t make your writing part of a list of things you aren’t really going to do.

9.      Understand that writing and the completion of a great poem, a powerful short story and yeah, you bet—a novel—is a long process. It’s a lot of hard work. It’s not sitting at Starbucks and toying around with an idea. It’s long hours of writing and rewriting, plotting, sub-plotting, rethinking the whole damn thing and starting over. Be ready for that. Be ok with that.

10.  Don’t let fear lead to failure when you haven’t even given success a shot. Believe in yourself and your writing!
Now Write! Write! Write!

Thanks for taking the time to be with us today! This advice is great for all levels of writers. We appreciate you sharing with us!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Tree of Life: A Collaborative Writing Challenge by Samantha Redstreake Geary

Tree of Life_Album Cover

Tree of Life: Origins is a collaborative journey in epic writing, where a single writer will interpret the cinematic scores of audiomachine's Tree of Life album to create an original, music driven tale. Every artist--whether a painter or poet, dancer or director, storyteller or sculptor, choreographer or composer--is driven by their passion to create. When you let your passion guide you, great things are born. It is when these passions converge that the real magic happens. My passion lies in pulling the threads of imagination that live and breathe in each eager note until I have woven a story worthy of the song. Every piece of music tells a tale, one that will bend and bow for every ear. Music is a meal rich in emotion that feeds the soul. A writer's soul has a voracious appetite, capable of devouring every last sound, leaving a plate of pure inspiration in its place.

It is my hope that you will all join me in this creative venture by following this epic tale as it unfolds. Starting July 24th through August 18th, I will be posting daily excerpts of the Tree of Life: Origins serial, each one featuring an inspirational album track. As the story unfolds, readers will have the opportunity to win prizes. Since this is a collaborative project, we would like you, the readers, to get involved by leaving your feedback in the comments section of the story's excerpts. The more you interact with us, the better your chances are of winning, say, a signed novel or ebook from one of our brilliant authors or an autographed Tree of Life album by the celebrated composer, Paul Dinletir!

Audiomachine will choose their top 10 favorite story posts. A lucky reader will be randomly chosen from the comments section of each selected post. Winners will be announced the week of August 18th!

And now for our list of master storytellers who graciously donated the following for your reading pleasure! Be sure to visit their websites to learn more about these amazing authors: Shana Abé -- signed copy of The Sweetest Dark Stacey Jay -- signed copy Of Beast and Beauty Chris Howard -- signed copy of Rootless Susan Kaye Quinn --The Debt Collector Season one ebooks Ellie Garratt -- Taking Time and Passing Time ebooks M. Pax -- signed copies of The Backworlds & Stopover at the Backworlds’ Edge and The Renaissance of Hetty Locklear ebook

treeoflife_branchingout_badgeTree of Life: Branching Out is a collaborative writing challenge, where creative minds meet epic movie music. Preselected guest writers representing all genres, from all across the globe, will contribute their own 150 word excerpt (wc is flexible) to a continuing story collectively written over the course of 26 days. Each of the 26 writers will find inspiration in a featured composition from the motion picture music production house, audiomachine's new TREE OF LIFE album. These clever masters of the craft will spin the story in whatever direction they choose, picking up where the previous writer left off, resulting in the ultimate collaborative tale. The challenge kicks off July 15th through August 9th. Be sure to check back HERE daily for exciting new excerpts. When the collaboration is complete, fans will have a chance to vote for their favorite guest excerpt starting August, 10th. Submit your votes in a private message to Sam's FB page by August 17th. Winners will be announced August 18th. The top three writers will be awarded prizes.

Audiomachine will also choose their top three favorite guest excerpts! ATTENTION FANS: You can WIN an autographed TREE OF LIFE audiomachine album by LEAVING COMMENTS! On August 17th, two lucky readers will be chosen at random from the comments section of the story excerpts. The more you comment--the better your chances are of winning a piece of cinematic history! We want to hear from YOU!
Samantha Redstreake Geary :Unlocking Imaginations and Evoking the Essence of Memory
Sam's Blog: Writerly Sam
Sam's FB page

Sam, this sounds like such a great project! Thanks for sharing with us. I can't wait to write my section!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Alicia Bien: Wine, Wonderful Wine

"You're going to write about wine?" Mr. Wonderful said setting his espresso cup on the breakfast table.
"Yep," I said stirring my green tea.
"For every day in April?"
"Have you lost your mind?"

Mr. Wonderful is my biggest fan, which he should be since, well, he is my husband. In fact when we got married, his vowed to love, honor and support all my crazy plans. And in return I promised to love, honor and keep things interesting. After several years of marriage, we're both batting a thousand.

But perhaps I was biting off too much with this A-Z Blogging Challenge? Twenty-six days was a lot of writing, blogging and all around suffering. But then I reconsidered: I'd been a wine drinker since college; I was a member of a wine group and; I'd been writing about wine for some time, which meant I had plenty of stories to tell about wine, wineries and winos. The wino bit I knew from personal experience. Lots of personal experience. But the question remained: could I write about wine for 26 days in April? I had to find out.

"A" was a great place to start. Wine had plenty of "A" words like Aroma, Acidic and Alcohol Induced-Fun-Times-Rock-On! I did not, however, use any of these words instead opting for "A is for Drinking Alone" because if you wanted to learn about wine you have to be okay drinking wine alone in moderation. I know I am.

Would the other letters be as easy to write about? I had to find out.

I wrote my way through the alphabet without struggling for subject matter because I'd chosen a great theme. Wine encompasses worlds of material such as: flavor, taste, smell, geography, weather, farming, history, language, culture, international-geopolitical-fashion-giraffes. Well, maybe not that, but a whole lot nonetheless.

Of course some letters were more challenging that others. Could I write posts for "Q" or "U" or the dreaded "X"? I had to find out.

I tackled these posts and thanks to the pressure of needing to have the posts done--that glorious pressure!--I was able to write these and all the other posts for the Challenge. 

Part of the A-Z Blogging Challenge was to visit other blogs. Could I work, write and read others' blogs? I had to find out.

I started with my own name and worked my way down the list and it was a treat to discover new blogs. Clicking on a new blog was like opening a gift on Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa. You didn't know what would be there except it would be a surprise. I relished reading these other blogs. I wished I could have read all 1,900,126 of them. But next year is another Challenge and opportunity to do so.

Having completed the Challenge I now had 26 wine stories as well as many others from various outlets I'd written for, therefore I decided to collect my favorite wine pieces into a comical book about one woman's wine journey from discovery to appreciation.

"You're publishing a book?" Mr. Wonderful said sipping his espresso.
"Yep," I said stirring my green tea.
"A book about wine?"
"You certainly keep things interesting."

About the Author:
Alicia Bien is a wine drinker and comedy writer. She lives in Los Angeles with her spouse, "Mr. Wonderful", in their fixer-upper house, which they are fixing upping. She blogs at New House Girl. Her book EVOLUTION OF A WINE DRINKER will be released July 31, 2013.

Thanks for being with us today, Alicia.  Good luck with the release of your book!