Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!!!

All Hallows Eve. Samhain (pronounced sort of like ‘soween’). Colloquially known today as Halloween!

Originating in the three night new years’ festival of the ancient Celtic peoples, Halloween has become a night for merriment, mysticism, and just plain good fun. Easily my favorite holiday of the year, I’ll be handing out candy to trick-or-treaters tonight once I put my jack-o-lanterns out. But Halloween isn’t just for kids, as there are plenty of parties, scary movies, and haunted houses for all ages on October 31st.  

So what are you dressing up as this Halloween? Got any little ones to take trick-or-treating or will you be handing out candy yourself? In the meantime, have a very happy, haunted Halloween!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Funny Friday

Ever notice that the future never quite turned out the way we expected it in the movies? Remember glimpses of the years to come in the second Back to the Future movie or even the old Star Trek predictions about the early 21st century? Even literature like H.G. Well’s Time Machine tried to foretell the future, so why were they so off?

I still remember teachers and adults telling me in preschool that I’d be driving flying cars when I grew up. Of course all those Nostradamus-esk end of the world predictions thankfully never came true either. So maybe it’s a good thing we humans can’t see into the days to come.

What films or books do you remember from growing up that set your imagination going about the future? Did you envision a different world from what we see today? Or perhaps in a lot of unexpected ways the future turned out more incredible than we could have imagined? 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Writer’s Organizations

What exactly is a writer’s organization? Where are they and what are they all about? Should I join one or not?

Technically, almost anything can be considered a writer’s org, from reading groups to people running conferences, but what I’m focusing on here deals more with the types of associates listed here. I’m pretty much a novice myself at navigating the spectrum of writer’s organizations, although I’m sure plenty of you belong or have belonged to one at some point. Although a writer’s craft can be a solitary one, when it comes to getting good feedback and really promoting your work in the open marketplace, being a writer is anything but solitary.

So what are your thoughts and experiences regarding writer’s orgs? Are they worthwhile endeavors for burgeoning authors? Do you belong to any writer’s organizations?

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Conspirator Review

With the advent of the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War Hollywood has begun releasing more Civil War-era films. I recently watched Robert Redford’s Civil War film The Conspirator which focuses on the days after President Lincoln’s assassination, starring James McAvoy and Robin Wright. Portions of it felt almost like a blend of documentary and drama, but what I liked in particular was the film’s attention to detail regarding period dress, patterns of speech, and contemporary attitudes of the time.

As a writer of historical fiction, particularly Civil War fiction, I’m always interested to see popular Civil War films such as Cold Mountain, Gettysburg, and Gone with the Wind. Overall, I’d say that Robert Redford does a decent job in directing The Conspirator and I’d probably give him four out of five stars. You can rent it or Redbox it today.

So what types of films have you seen in the last year or two that relate to your genre of writing? Do you find the latest Hollywood depictions encouraging or just a lot of hype? What types of historical movies would you like to see produced on the big screen?     

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What’s in a Bio?

Got your killer query all set to go? Have your synopsis and sample chapters all prepped? But wait…the agent you’re submitting to wants a bio too?

A bio or cover letter frequently comes up when submitting to agents and editors, but crafting it can be a little tricky. Basically, it’s your chance to tell all about yourself in a single page, both identifying why you’re the perfect author to tell the story you’ve written and also to flash the spotlight on any previously published works of yours. Needless to say, I certainly find it challenging to boil my life down into a few paragraphs while making it pertinent to the agent at hand.

So how have you crafted your bios in the past? What formatting do you use on your cover letters? What should you definitely put in and what should you absolutely leave out? 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Pay It forward…A Bit Belated

Ever have one of those weeks where you’re all scattered? Well, that’s me at the moment. But hopefully, I can make up a little lost ground now.

As part of Alex’s Pay It Forward blogfest, I’m highlighting his awesome site and the many cool blogs listed there. Check it out here.  Don’t forget to say “hi” to some of these awesome people, many of whom I already follow!

So what are some of your favorite blogs to visit? Got any must-sees or quirky sites of interest? Which are your top favorite writer’s blogs out there? 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday Formatting

Got that manuscript hot off the printer and ready to go? Can’t wait to start showing it to agents and editors? But…how the heck did you format the thing?

You may have a great story, but if it’s formatted wrong, it can be as big a turn off to agents as a manuscript laced with misspellings. I’m more guilty than most regarding formatting, but thankfully some fellow bloggers have emailed me with some great tips while they were critiquing my opening chapters. Some basics include: double-spacing, including a title page, page numbers, and a header that lists your last name followed by a slash and the first keyword of your title.

So what’s on your formatting checklist when prepping a manuscript for someone else’s eyes? How many spaces do you leave between chapter headings? What in your experience has proved worthwhile when submitting to agents and editors? 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

What Makes Your Writing Unique?

How does your writing differ from everyone else’s out there? What special experiences or credentials do you bring to the table? What portions of yourself do you put into the writing itself?

I’m always interested in what makes people tick and what makes their writing tick. My current novel is based on the American Civil War, and although I have multiple degrees in History and English, I feel that my travels to various regions and my participation as a reenactor has given me a perspective that allows me to add a unique touch to my work. I always want to know the details you can’t find in other books, i.e. what a place really smells like and how the dawn after a cold night in a tent makes you feel.

So what experiences have shaped your work-in-progress? Do you go looking for these influences or do they just find you? In other words, what makes your writing unique?