Archive for March, 2009

WD Editors Intensive Revisited

March 31, 2009

Here’s a link nice blog post about our recent editors intensive event. This writer was one that I had a chance to meet with, his story was a very eerie psychedelic science fiction piece that had some great potential.

http://lystrawrote.wordpress.com/2009/03/30/writers-digest-editors-intensive/#comment-5

It’s great to hear some nice feedback about the event. I think all of the writers I talked to seemed to find it very valuable. Stay tuned for news about our next one, which is planned for June: http://writersdigest.com/events/

Monster Spotter! In 5 Lines!

March 31, 2009

z0676Check out this mention for my book Monster Spotter’s Guide to North America. This guy does these funny video clips where he summarizes a book in five lines. I think he sums it up pretty well. The premise and the humor are all represented. His site is http://thatguywiththeglasses.com

Check out the video here .

I Survived

March 30, 2009

Well, I made it through my fasting and meditation. I really had hoped to write more during that time (and post a couple of times), but I wasn’t feeling awfully creative.

But, now that it’s over I’m feeling good and refreshed. I’m looking forward to some of the projects that are on my desk I’m currently reading Becky Levine’s forthcoming book The Writing and Critique Group Survival Guide (which will be a must-have for anyone looking to join or start a writing critique group). I’m also getting ready to start working on the Writer’s Digest Guide to Science Fiction & Fantasy by Orson Scott Card and the editors of Writer’s Digest, which is right up my alley.

As far as my martial arts training goes, I’m ready to dive back into that as well, and I’ll probably be posting a few updates as my upcoming test approaches, for anyone who is interested.

See Scott Starve

March 26, 2009

So I just passed the 1-day mark of my fast (part of my martial arts training). And yes, I’m starving. I’ve done this before and if I remember correctly the first day was the worst… that’s what I’m telling myself, anyway. 

I’ve been taking breaks in between the manuscripts I’m working on so that I can stay focused on them–intentionally working on lots of different things throughout the day so mind doesn’t have a chance to wander. In case you’re wondering here are the details of my fast: It lasts 4 days, and ends with an 8 hour long period of meditation. During the fast I’m supposed to only consume the following: copious amounts of water, decaffeinated green tea, miso soup, and as a last resort a few nuts. 

I’ve spent the day drinking green tea and water and am fantasizing about the bowl of miso soup, of all things, since it will be the most substantial thing I ingest today. 

Why do I do this? Ummm… I’ll have to get back to you on that.

A Good Cause

March 26, 2009

56311744914843customMy little sister is riding in the Tour de Cure for Diabetes. She’s a nice kid with a rad bike helmet… it would be cool of you to sponsor her. 

http://tinyurl.com/dbsbz5

Vision Quest

March 25, 2009

In addition to writing I study martial arts. I’m preparing for an upcoming test and part of my training involves fasting and meditation. My fast starts this evening (so I’m thinking a lot about what I’m going to eat for lunch, but that’s not what’s important… well, to you anyway).

yinyangThe fast and meditation tests will power and dedication to an idea. This kind of training is intended to build discipline, self-control, focus and persistence.

Being a successful writer is no different. It’s easy to put off writing in favor of watching television or some other diversion. But as a writer you need to dedicate time to practicing your art. Writing requires focus and discipline. Many people say “you need to do it every day, and set a routine for your writing.” That may indeed be the case, but personally, I think there are as many different kinds of writers as there are people, and the ways we prefer to work are different. Figure out what works for you and make your own rules about how to keep yourself productive, and stick to them.

Writer’s Digest Editor’s Intensive

March 23, 2009

This past weekend I participated in a writing workshop at our offices here in Cincinnati. Writers from all over the country came to participate in workshops and panels hosted by editors from the staff of Writer’s Digest. Topics covered everything from writing techniques to strategies for getting published to using social networking to promote your writing.

I participated in a panel about “Why We Quit Reading.” Which was dedicated to discussing the common pitfalls that writers fall into when sending their work to editors. We covered reasons why as editors, we might stop reading a submission and reject it. Some of the most common reasons are when writers try to explain too much backstory through dialogue, shift point of view too often or use POV incorrectly, fail to set up a conflict and a plot soon enough, or when the pacing or the structure of the story causes confusion or boredom.

 

Writers discuss their work in one on one sessions with WD editors.

Writers discuss their work in one on one sessions with WD editors.

One days of the workshop was dedicated to one on one sessions between writers and editors. I had a chance to read several manuscripts and meet with writers to discuss their ideas and offer suggestions for improvement.

 

Overall, I read a lot of things with some real potential. All the writers who attended seemed to enjoy the event and find it helpful. I wish everyone who attended the best of luck with their projects and encourage everyone to check out our next Editor’s Intensive event which is scheduled for June (more info to come).

So Say We All

March 20, 2009

475_bsg_090319So today I have pretty much one preoccupation. I’m getting through the day to watch the final episode of Battlestar Galactica.

BSG is pretty much the only reason I still get Direct TV. I couldn’t care less about any reality show frankly. And there aren’t that many shows that are written so well that I can’t wait until I can Netflix them.

But BSG has strung me along for years despite all of the half seasons and obvious marketing ploys. Yep. And I usually plop down my 40 bones for a half season when it comes out on DVD. Cause it’s just that good.

And tonight it’s over. I’m having some people over to drink some ambrosia and send the old girl out in style.

Then I’m probably gonna cancel my Direct TV… (and maybe that will result in me getting some more writing done). I’m trying to find the silver lining. Really trying.

Trying (Too Hard) Not to Be Obvious?

March 17, 2009

So one of the fun things I get to do as an editor at Writer’s Digest is read stories submitted for various short story competitions. Not a bad gig, huh?

The stories are occasionally based on a specific writing prompt and it’s interesting to read the different stories that people come up with–as you can imagine the scenarios are as varied as people’s imaginations. But, occasionally people try too hard to be original and therefore end up doing the exact opposite. You’d be surprised how many “surprise” endings we read where someone turns out to be an alien or a vampire, runs off to join a circus, or in a shocking twist ends up killing everyone else in the story.

As a writer it’s tempting to go for a story twist that seems extraordinary, but keep in mind that a lot of stuff has already been done (a whole lot). To be truly original is tough, and sometimes the best way to do that is to include elements that ground your characters in reality. I’m not saying you shouldn’t write a vampire or alien story or a even a story about mimes… by all means, I say the stranger the better. But, keep in mind that if you are going to go that route you need to make the characters feel real. By adding more humanity to your strange or supernatural characters you’ll get your readers to care about them, instead of just giving readers a “shocking twist,” which is usually nothing than a cheap gimmick.

Book Giveaway

March 13, 2009

Writer’s Digest Books author Christina Katz is celebrating the two year anniversary of her book Writer Mama by giving away some copies. Check it out:

http://thewritermama.wordpress.com/2009/02/24/the-writer-mama-two-year-anniversary-blog-tour-giveaway/