I write stuff for kids...and muse on writing, children's books, and the publishing industry in general

Monday, July 25, 2011

Regarding the name (an important announcement to all Crusaders (both past and future))

While I don't normally become involved in political issues, the recent massacre in Norway has caused me to reconsider the name of my Writers' Platform-Building Crusade. While I fully stand behind the intention and aims of my Crusade (which are to provide an ongoing networking opportunity for all writers), and while I still intend to run my next Crusade in August as planned, I would hate to think that, by using the word "Crusade," I'm in any way being seen to support the actions of someone with such a radical and despicable viewpoint. Or anyone else who uses that word in a negative way.

In light of this, and out of respect for the people who've so recently lost their lives, I'm planning to "rebrand" my Crusade - and change it to the Writers' Platform-Building Campaign. I'll be taking down my "I'm a Crusader" badge, and replacing it with a new badge, which I'll unveil when my newest Campaign begins on 22 August. I'll no longer be referring to you as Crusaders - I rather think Campaigners has a nice ring to it! Or do you have any other suggestions for an alternative name for us?

I must say, it makes me really sad as a writer to feel I have to question if a word is used because of negative connotations associated with it. But in this case, I believe it's necessary.

ETA: I'm not by any means saying I now believe the word "Crusade" can't be used in a positive way. Nor am I trying to impose a taboo on the word or responding to others who may be trying to make the word taboo. I'm simply saying that, for me and in this instance, I've made the decision to change the name.

How about you: Would you change the name if you were in my position? Have you ever had to use a different word/change a word because of its negative connotations?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Do you use the Writer's Knowledge Base?

Do all of you know about the awesome Writer's Knowledge Base that Elizabeth Spann Craig has put together? In her words, the WKB is "a free resource for writers to find the information they need for their particular stage of the writing journey…with 9000 links to search (and more added every day.)"

Jami Gold recently interviewed Elizabeth here, and it's fascinating to read about the process Elizabeth went through to (1) realize that we as writers need a dedicated knowledge base, and (2) put one together. For free, and in her own time too!!! As she says:
"[W]riters need different information at different times.  When they’re writing a first draft, they need plotting help.  When writers hit a wall, they want inspirational posts. When they revise, they’d like editing tips.  When they’re querying…well, you get the idea.

These writing links needed to be searchable.  It was crazy for writers to have a thousand bookmarked sites—and bookmarks for information that they don’t currently even need."
I don't know about you, but just as Elizabeth says in that interview, I've collected hundreds of bookmarked posts. So I was pretty chuffed (do you use that word in the US?) to find this amazing resource, and I thought I would share it with you. Happy researching!

How about you: Do you know about the Writer's Knowledge Base? Do you use it? Are there any other writing resources you know of/use regularly that you'd like to share with us all?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

I'm being interviewed...

I'm braving Cally Jackson's hot seat today, so pop over and wish me luck. Anybody have a fire extinguisher?

Also, did you read my interviews on platform-building over at Deana Barnhart's blog recently? Make sure you check out Part 1 and Part 2.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Conquering writer's block (one paragraph at a time and with an Arthur Boyd painting as inspiration)

I hit a wall in my revisions the week before last. Hard. Critiques I'd received suggested I needed to rewrite a large part of my manuscript AND completely re-characterize one my MCs. A slight blow, when I was hoping to start querying this month (well, a huge blow actually!).

Anyway, once I got over that and accepted this was what I needed to do, I sat down and opened a new document. But. Try as I might, I couldn't make the words come. I sat and stared at my computer screen, tried plotting the new Part, downloaded Scrivener (and procrastinated while I learnt how to use it), drank too much tea, started wasting my time on YouTube, ate too much chocolate, anything except writing really.

I suspect many of you have been in that situation yourself. Not a nice place to be, especially when you've a deadline breathing down your neck, even if it's only a self-imposed one like mine.

(Painting by Arthur Boyd hanging at Parliament House, Canberra )

I did (mildly) stress for a while, but a couple of days later I got over my writers' block, all because of three things that happened in the same day:
  1. I took a break from my writing (a proper full-day break, not just an hour away from the screen);
  2. I took my relatives sightseeing in my city and saw a painting I fell in love with (Actually, I decided it would provide the color scheme for my dream house, and I spent a lot of time planning how I could buy a large print of the painting, and use this, this, and this color in the living room, this in the kitchen, etc etc); 
  3. I started thinking about my beginning scene of the Part in a new way. 
I'd been stuck on the big-picture issues, you see, and had so many different things running in my head I couldn't find any space just to start writing. Plus I was stressing about how big the task was, how I'd never get it finished, what if it was as "bad" as the first attempt, etc etc.

Finally, after my day of inspiration (that same night, actually!), I managed to shove my negative and stressful thoughts aside and think only about the first sentence and the first paragraph. Where were my main characters? What were they doing? How could I ground my reader in the scene before I even dived into dialogue/action/etc. Those were the questions I asked myself. And I told myself just to sit down and write one paragraph to describe and set up the scene. Just one paragraph.

Before I knew it, my words were flowing again, and I couldn't wait to dive into my re-write. Using Scrivener, which I've fallen in love with as well by the way (I might do a separate post on that one day, to share my thoughts) :D

And I breathed a huge sigh of relief.

How about you: Do you get writer's block very often? How do you get yourself out of it? Do you find looking at a scene a different way helps you to write it? What do you think about basing the color-scheme of your house on a painting? :D

Monday, July 4, 2011

Stories for Sendai - Guest Post by J.C. Martin

Today I'm hosting J.C. Martin of J.C. Martin, Fighter, Writer. As you may know, during the Japan Disaster a couple of friends and I organized and ran Write Hope, an online charity auction of all things kidlit. At the same time, J.C. came up with the wonderful idea of putting together an anthology of stories, with the intention of selling these and raising money for the people of Japan. She's been hard at work ever since on STORIES FOR SENDAI.

In her words,

Stories for Sendai is a collection of 20 uplifting and inspirational short stories and poems about the strength of the human spirit. All proceeds from sales will be donated to charity in aid of victims of the Japan earthquake and tsunami.
Take it away J.C.


Thank you, Rach, for hosting today’s leg of the blog tour!

Seeing as Stories for Sendai is a charity anthology dedicated to the brave people of Japan, I thought I’d write a post about one of the country’s most popular forms of literature: the haiku.

In its original form, the Japanese haiku, despite its apparent simplicity, has to contain several elements: apart from the syllabic content that we are familiar with, a Japanese haiku should also contain:
  • A season word intrinsically associated with a certain season, that will immediately give the reader a sense of time and place.
  • An ‘aha’ moment, when the haiku invokes a sudden and profound realisation in the reader.
  • A sense of connectedness to nature. Haikus are naturalistic poems that connect the reader to the natural world. Any poems in the haiku form that does not refer to nature are called senryus.
  • A sense of sabi, or solitude.
A contemporary haiku in English does not strictly follow any of these rules. In fact, some English haikus do not even conform to the traditional 5-7-5 syllable rule. A total of 13-17 syllables is generally accepted.

Now I’m no poet, but here’s a haiku I attempted:
Stories for Sendai,
Only seven ninety-nine,
Buy and help Japan!
Do you write haikus? Feel free to share your favourites!

And don’t forget, Stories for Sendai is on sale now at these links:

Amazon US:

Amazon US (Kindle):

Amazon UK (Kindle):

CreateSpace eStore:

And send a copy of your receipt to storiesforsendai (at) ymail (dot) com, and you’ll be entered in a draw to win cool prizes, like gift vouchers, books, and critiques! One entry per purchase, ends July 15th!


Thanks for the intriguing info on haikus J.C. I didn't actually know any of that (beyond the syllable requirement)! Everyone, don't forget to buy your copy of Stories for Sendai to help support the people of Japan. And it would make a great gift as well!

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