Monday, February 16, 2015

Teaching Creative Writing

One of my guided mentees recently sent me some questions about teaching writing for a class project she was working on. She asked fantastic questions, and gave me permission to share my answers with you! 

Here are some of my thoughts on teaching creative writing... I hope this post might be helpful or thought-provoking for any of you who teach writing, or are working on writing projects of your own! Teaching writing has, without a doubt, made me a better writer.



Is there a specific way that people should teach the writing process, or are there different ways that can all be good to learn? If there are different ways, what are the best ways to teach it?

Great question! In my opinion, the most important part of teaching the writing process is to be aware of the individual student and what they struggle with. For example, some writers struggle with getting started; others struggle more with editing a completed first draft. So part of being a great writing teacher is helping guide the student through their individual struggles with writing. 

Over-all, I think it is important to allow students to have freedom in the writing process to be creative and to make mistakes -- during first drafts, I tell my students not to “overthink” or be self-critical or worry about spelling/grammar mistakes. Those mistakes can always be corrected in the editing phase, and having your “editing” cap on when you’re trying to write a first draft can be very creatively stifling. I believe people write more and write better when they feel confident, are comfortable taking risks, and enjoy the writing process!

What tips do you give kids who are starting stories?

Don’t think too much -- just write! Tap into your subconscious. Try to start with a BANG! -- skip the “boring” stuff and start in the middle of things.

What tips do you give kids who are developing stories?

If you feel stuck, ask yourself, “What do my characters WANT?” There will likely be at least two characters whose desires are in conflict with each other… and conflict is what keeps plots moving forward.

What tips do you give ids who are trying to finish stories?

It will always be easier to start a fresh new story instead of finishing a story you’ve been working on for a while, but it is infinitely more satisfying to finish a story, so keep plugging away and don’t give up! If you’re trying to finish, don’t introduce any new problems for your characters. Rather, work on resolving the existing problems you have given your characters. Also, be aware that not every problem HAS to be resolved; not every loose end needs to be tied up. Some beautiful stories end with images, a resonant line, or a piece of dialogue that speaks to the overall theme of the story. It’s okay if your reader has some lingering questions, if not every single thing has been answered. In that way, stories are like real life -- we don’t have all the answers, do we?

What are some exercises you give students not just to help them develop a story, but to strengthen them as writers?
  • Give students a simple sentence (i.e. “The cat walked across the room”) and have them add adjectives, descriptions, details to make it shine and be memorable.
  • Ask students questions about their main character and have them answer the questions as if they are the character. (It is helpful for them to write their answers down rather than just saying them out loud, so they can look back at what they wrote.)
  • Have them brainstorm details/descriptions using all five senses and work these details into their story. Often writers use a lot of “sight” details but forget about the other senses!
I think the main thing is to be yourself. Kids blossom for authentic, kind, enthusiastic people. The best writing teachers I have studied under weren't the best because they had all the answers -- the most important thing was that they made me feel excited about writing, like I had something worthy and unique to say.

How is a younger student's thought process or natural writing process different than an older student? (For example, a second-grader versus a sixth-grader?)

Younger kids often write simpler stories (A + B = C) and they usually can’t juggle as many factors in their minds -- character-wise, plot-wise, etc. Thematically, their stories are often more black-and-white, with “good guys” and “bad guys” and less gray area. And that’s okay. These things develop with time. 

I think it is important when teaching writing at any level to let the student write the story he or she wants to write, and not try to change it into the story you want it to be. You can guide them, but it is still THEIR story, and your job as a teacher is to make it the best version of THEIR story as it can be.

Does changing your writing curriculum every so often help with a kid's creativity? If so, how often should you change it up, and how exactly does it help?

Yes, I think it helps -- especially because not every kid will blossom with every activity. Some writers are better brain-stormers, others like more-structured activities, others like less-structured activities. So if you mix it up, it forces kids to try different types of writing and use their brains in new and different ways. I like to mix it up by using a variety of word-based writing prompts, image-based writing prompts, and music-based writing prompts.

Another thing you can do is have students tell a story in a different narrative order; for example, starting at the ending and working backwards to the beginning, or starting in the middle. Or, you could have them take a popular story and write it from a different character’s point of view. (Think: Wicked versus The Wizard of Oz.)

What is the best way to help students when they are stuck?

Sometimes simply having them talk through their ideas while you listen and tell them it’s a good idea is enough to get them un-stuck. I like to jot down notes as they are talking to me, so then I can give them a piece of paper that has all the ideas they were just telling me about. Then I can say, “Look at all these amazing ideas! Now go write these down into your story!” 

Another helpful thing is to set a timer for seven minutes (I’ve found seven to be a good number -- more than five, but less than ten) and tell them they have to keep writing SOMETHING for that entire period. Even if they think what they are writing is silly or stupid, they just have to keep writing. This is a trick I use when I am stuck myself; it's a way to tap into your subconscious, which often helps you get unstuck.

How do I spark inspiration in kids?

I think your energy and enthusiasm will do a lot to make kids feel inspired. You want to set a tone of freedom to be creative and express imaginative ideas. You can also do things like bring in costumes for kids to “act out” characters, or magazines for them to cut out words or pictures that inspire them, or even a “magic writing wand” that you wave over all their heads before you start a writing session. Anything to make the vibe FUN and feel exciting and out-of-the-ordinary is wonderful.

How do I create assignments that will keep them entertained while also helping them learn a wide variety of tools and skills?

I think a great template is to have them read an example of a piece of writing that shows a concept you are trying to get across (i.e. realistic dialogue or vivid sensory details), discuss as a class why this piece is so effective and what is so great about it, and then give them time and space to practice that element of writing for themselves -- making sure you are positive and encouraging, always always! And then afterwards give them time to share their work and give positive feedback to each other, and review again what everyone learned about writing through that activity.

Anything else I should know?

I think the main thing is to be yourself. Kids blossom for authentic, kind, enthusiastic people. The best writing teachers I have studied with weren’t the best because they had all the answers -- the most important thing was that they made me feel excited about writing, like I had something unique and worthy to say.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Guest Post: Top 10 Editing Tools

Top 10 Editing Tools for Freelance Writers

A Guest Post 

by Robert Morris

Believe it or not, even professional editors rely on technology in order to come up with a polished piece of content. Since not all freelance writers can hire their own editors to clean after the mistakes they make, they can start using the same tools for ultimate effectiveness.

Although some of the tools in the following list take some time getting used to, they are still easy to incorporate into your daily working practice. The end result will be improved content, which is something everyone appreciates.

This efficient website helps you check definitions, spelling, and word breaks. The online version works perfectly fine, but you can increase the effectiveness of the tool if you download the app available for iPad and Android. The difference is that the app has a voice look-up feature.

No matter how many automated editing tools you use, they cannot replace a real editor who checks every single aspect of the content while preserving your writer’s voice. Hiring a real editor can cost a lot of money, but not when you’re dealing with NinjaEssays – an essay writing service that enables you to rely on the assistance of professional editors for a really affordable price. Plus, you can hire writers to help you when you get stuck with an overwhelming piece.

Although some editors prefer using Adobe Acrobat Pro, the PDF XChangeViewer and Adobe Reader XI are effective as well. The PDF markup tool for proofreading the text before you print it will help you identify and fix the minor mistakes in your content.

Editing your own work is not only about fixing the flaws; the process also involves making sure that it’s free of plagiarism. Copyscape is one of the most efficient plagiarism checkers you could possibly use.

Not many freelance writers bother with proper referencing. However, if you are writing serious content, you have to be aware of the citation standards before publishing it. With the help of this tool, you can check if the references in your writing are cited correctly.       
            
If you have no idea how to format the references, then you should start using Bibme – an automated tool that helps you create citations in Turabian, APA, MLA, and Chicago style. This tool works best if you are working on lengthier content, such as an eBook for example.

This accurate editing software will help you identify errors and typos in a Microsoft Word document. All mistakes that went unnoticed under the word processor’s radar will be identified with PerfectIt. These are the aspects you can improve with this tool: abbreviation definitions, consistent hyphenation and capitalization, international spelling variations, list/bullet capitalization and punctuation, and capitalization of headings.

This tool will clean up every formatting mishap in your content. Freelance writers usually write a lot of content on a daily basis, so it’s easy to miss some extra spaces between words, sentences and paragraphs, and leave other minor mistakes that could spoil the experience of a reader. The tool will clean unnecessary tabs, multiple returns, and other mistakes that contribute towards a messy-looking document. 

With so many tools available today, it’s easy to underestimate the value of the good Word. Your usual word processor can be a reliable editing tool if you use its entire potential through the following built-in tools: dictionary and spell check, reference tool, find and replace, table to text tool, reorder list function, track changes and comments, and more.

This tool will help you make sure that all internal and external links and cross-references in your document are valid. Link Checker enables you to look only for suspicious links, see all links in a tree view, and edit/remove links in a couple of clicks.
  

Now that you have the list of top 10 editing tools for freelancers, aren’t you inspired to start delivering better content? Start using them today!

BIO: Robert Morris is a freelance writer from NYC. Homeschools his son, writes about science and love. Circle Robert on Google+.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Guest post: Tips for Writing a Story

8 Tips to Start to Write a Short Story 

a guest post

by Julie Ellis

So, you want to be a writer, and the short story is your chosen genre. Actually, you are probably in a good spot, because it is often easier to get a short story published than a novel. Why? Because people still read magazines, either hard copy or in e-format, and the magazine publishing industry has adapted quite well to web-based publishing. Plus, so many of them are continually looking for good short stories to include in their issues. If you are new to this genre, but you have great ideas and stories to tell, then half of the work is already done! Your job now it to actually begin to write that first short story.

With that in mind, here are eight tips that a veteran writer can provide, that may make your task easier:

1. Write what you know firsthand: It is said that every piece of fiction, whether a short story or a novel, is a bit autobiographical. You must place your plot in a setting with which you are really familiar, or the events and the descriptions will not be credible. If, for example, you have no first-hand understanding of schools, you cannot set your story in a school, unless you are willing to do a lot of research. Such research should be reserved for novels!

2. Draw from real people as you develop your characters: The best way to have credible characters is to use aspects of personalities that you already know. Look to people with whom you have personal relationships. How do they behave? What excites or angers them? How do they speak? Most of my characters are combinations of people I know.

3. The Plot: I know that many writers spend a lot of time agonizing about setting up a conflict, a climax, and a denouement. What I have found in my own writing, however, is that these things really take care of themselves if I can outline a great plot, focusing on events and characters. Try it!

4. Don’t waste a word: A short story is really a fully condensed novel. You do not have the luxury of elaborate and lengthy descriptions, so don’t use them. Let the plot and characters “carry” the weight!

5. If your plot outline is not detailed, don’t worry about it – just write! I have often begun a short story with a simple idea for a starter, not even knowing where it would ultimately take me. I just start writing from that initial idea. No, it won’t be the final piece, but it will get my “juices” flowing, and I can always revise the storyline later. The key is to get something, anything, in writing, and then see where the idea can take me!

6. Carry a mobile device with you at all times. You never know when an idea will hit, and it is best to have an app that allows you to commit that idea immediately, for later use!

7. Read, read, and read: By reading lots of fiction, I get great ideas that may give me “fodder” for future stories. If you are not reading, you are not “percolating.”

8. Don’t “force” anything: It’s easy to become obsessed with getting a story completed, if only for the personal satisfaction of finishing something. This is a bad practice, and it results in stories that lack “flavor” and “engagement.” If you stall, let it be! I have a large number of short stories in folders on my desktop that are unfinished, and I’m okay with that. Someday, I’ll return to them, but the mood must be right!

Your love of writing is what has brought you to the point of writing short stories. Take any or all of these tips, if you find them helpful. Above all, however, find your own “voice.” Anything else is contrived and will not result in reader appeal.

Author’s bio: Armed with a Master’s in Journalism and strong wanderlust, Julie Ellis set out to explore exotic places, financed by her freelance writing. She is now a regular blogger for Premier Essay and sells feature articles to English-speaking publications around the world.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Interview with Irish author Caroline Finnerty

A couple months ago, my parents took a trip to Ireland for two weeks to celebrate their anniversary. One evening, they walked past a small independent bookstore in Dublin, heard laughter, turned around, went inside and followed the voices upstairs. And so it was they met Irish author Caroline Finnerty, whose book launch party was wrapping up. After a pleasant conversation, she signed a copy of her new novel Into the Night Sky as a gift for... ME! :) 

I devoured the book as soon as my parents gave it to me. It is one of those books that, as the Irish Independent newspaper stated, is "impossible to put down." Simply put, Into the Night Sky is a luminous and heartwarming story that will stay with you long after you turn the final page, and Caroline is a superbly talented and empathetic writer. You can order Caroline's books here.

After Caroline was thoughtful enough to email me about my own writing and books, I asked if she would mind answering a few questions for this blog. She kindly agreed, and I am thrilled to present her insightful answers to you now. With no further ado, here is Caroline Finnerty!



Welcome, Caroline! Tell us about your latest novel INTO THE NIGHT SKY. In what ways was this novel different from your other books? 

Into the Night Sky is the story of four people who come into each other’s lives when they are each in need of a friend and how the bonds that form change each of them forever more.

Conor Fahy is the owner of struggling bookshop Haymarket Books and is finding it hard to cope with everyday life in the aftermath of his partner Leni’s tragic death.

Conor’s best friend Ella Wilde is struggling with her own problems having just been axed from her job as a TV presenter after being caught shoplifting. She is struggling to deal with the weight of public disgrace and adjust to life away from the TV cameras.

Jack White is eight years old. He likes Ben 10, Giant Jawbreaker sweets and reading adventure books. He likes his Dad (when he doesn’t shout). He doesn’t like the bad monsters that are eating up his ma inside her tummy.

Rachel Traynor is the social worker assigned to Jack White’s case but sorting out messy family disputes is taking its toll on her. And it doesn’t help that she has had to say goodbye to the man she loves because he doesn't want to have children with her.

It’s different from my other books because the story is told through a present tense narrative and also one of the main characters, Jack, is a young child, which I have never done before.


Have you always wanted to be a writer? How did you get into writing? 

I always loved writing but I never recognized it in myself until I entered my twenties. I was always bookish as a child and made my own "books" with illustrations. In hindsight, I was good at essay writing in school but it never occurred to me to study English and so I studied biotechnology in university. I was in my twenties when I had an idea and said that would make a great story so I just started writing it and I didn’t stop. After a while I decided to do an eight-week creative writing course by night which spurred me on a bit more. Then after I had my first child in 2009 and I had the idea for In a Moment, which was the first book I actually finished and I was lucky enough to get published.

What is your writing schedule? How do you find time to write? 

It is chaotic at the moment! I have three small children, two of whom are not yet in school so it’s challenging to find the time -- but, like everything, if you really want to do it, you have to make sacrifices. So when I get them all into bed in the evenings I stay up late to try to do a bit then or at weekends my husband sometimes takes them all off for a few hours so I can get a bit done. I am quite disciplined so if I do have some free time I use it to write instead of doing anything else.


What is your biggest advice for other writers, particularly young writers just starting out? 

Don’t be too hard on yourself when you read back over your work. Just put the words down on the page and don’t get disheartened. I used to re-read my early drafts and cringe so much that I would never go back to it again. Then I went to a really inspiring getting published workshop and the authors speaking at it said how they all think what they write is awful but that they keep rewriting it until one day they don’t want to throw their laptop against the wall and it finally starts to seem okay.

That’s the key – rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. I love the saying, "You can edit words on a page but you can’t edit a blank page."   

Ooh, I love that saying, too! So very true. Who are some of your favorite writers? 

Too many to mention, but the ones that stick out in my mind are:
  • Kate Atkinson
  • Maggie O’Farrell
  • David Nicholls
  • John Boyne 
  • Marian Keyes

I read in the Acknowledgements section of INTO THE NIGHT SKY that writing this book was a challenge at times. It seems that writer's block is something every writer has to deal with at one time or another. Do you have any tips for advice for vanquishing writer's block? 

I find that usually when I am experiencing writer’s block it is because some part of the book is not working. Either the character isn’t fully developed in my mind or there is a problem with the plot.

When I was writing Into The Night Sky, I was finding it difficult to research the role of Rachel the social worker and how that storyline fitted into the book but it took me a few months to put my finger on exactly what it was that was missing. Eventually I contacted a friend of mine who was a social worker and she helped me immensely; once I had concrete facts, the story moved on again.

Usually if I can’t figure out what the problem is, then I go on to another scene that is coming easily to me and then go back to the problematic one at a later stage when hopefully it will come a bit easier then.

Great advice! Is there anything else you would like to add?

Thank you for having me, Dallas it’s lovely to be over here on an American blog – hello everyone!

Thank you so much for joining us today, Caroline!

Connect with Caroline at the following links:

Friday, December 12, 2014

Productivity Tips for Writers from Jason Womack


On Tuesday, I was delighted to feature an interview with author, entrepreneur and productivity coach Jason Womack. His answer to my question, "Do you have any tips for writers who want to be more productive?" was so insightful and thorough that I decided to feature it as a whole new post. Enjoy!

If you missed Jason's interview, check it out here.


  
Productivity Tips for Writers

by Jason Womack

You absolutely must clarify (more and more specifically) what I call your “So that…” about WHY you want to be more productive. When we started our firm, five years before I wrote the book, we had FOUR reasons to build a company:

  • to support our lifestyle
  • to earn a great salary
  • to work with clients we like, and 
  • to create products that will help people. 
All of my products are “information” pieces, including speeches, articles, videos, ebooks and books.

So, how do I do it all? I have three tips for writers who want to be more productive:
  1. Say “No” more. You see, every time you say yes to a new post, a new idea, a new piece of research, a new request, you’re adding to an already overloaded “budget” of creative output. This week, practice saying “No” to something that comes in, no matter how small it is. 
  2. Buy a pen AND a notebook that’s a little more expensive than you normally purchase. Yes, I know I’m going “old-school” on you here, but give this a shot. When I first did this, I started taking those journal entries and interview notes much more seriously. I started looking for ideas that could turn in to posts, articles, chapters and books that might ultimately help me pay for those pens and notebooks! 
  3. Find a mentor. A writing mentor is different than a coach. I don’t pay my mentors with money. Instead, about once a month, I sit down with someone who is more successful than I am AND who is willing to see me become more successful. I share with her or him what I’m working on and where I’m challenged, and then I let them tell me stories and give me advice. The one thing I always make sure to do: 7-10 days after we meet, I write them a letter to let them know what I did based on our conversation. I’ve found this little bit of “stretch-goal” conversation and accountability keeps me moving my writing forward.
* * *

Thank you, Jason, for taking the time to stop by the blog and share your wisdom and advice!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Interview with author & entrepreneur Jason Womack

I'm thrilled to feature an interview today with Jason Womack today! Jason is an author and entrepreneur who provides practical methods to maximize tools, systems, and processes to achieve quality work/life balance. He has worked with leaders and executives for more than sixteen years in the business and education sectors. His focus is on creating ideas that matter and implementing solutions that are valuable to organizations and the individuals in those organizations. Author of Your Best Just Got Better: Work Smarter, Think Bigger, Make More, Jason shows that working longer hours doesn’t make up for a flawed approach to productivity and performance. 


Tell us about your book Your Best Just Got Better. What was your inspiration behind this book? 

About ten years ago, I started collecting stories. I continue to ask people these three questions:
  1. Has life ever been hard for you? 
  2. Has it ever been worse? 
  3. Did it eventually get better? 
Now, if the answer to those three questions was YES, I changed my line of questioning to be much, much more open-ended. And, that’s when people started opening up. I learned that there are three basic paths that people take to making their life, their our, their community and their fails better. So, I guess that I was inspired to share those strategies, and the tactics that I experimented with that work, with readers around the world.

How do you balance writing with all the other things going on in your life, like your work, family, health?

Well, the book has been published in three different languages. I run a consultancy full-time, traveling up to 200 days a year, presenting eighty lectures and working one-on-one with up to ten clients at a time. I’m married, and with my wife, Jodi, I co-run another company called www.Momentum.GS -- this is an online coaching program for individuals who are on a path to professional development success. How do I balance it all? I do one thing at a time. I stopped multitasking a long time ago; also, I say no to things. I say no to anything that pulls me (or us) off course to our overall mission. I’ll tell you about that next.



What is your biggest advice for other writers, particularly young writers just starting out? 

Sixty months from now, you’ll have what you have, go where you go, do what you do, and be who you are based on the five people you meet next. Make sure that you curate your network; much like a museum has much, MUCH more than they put on display, you can "know" a lot of people, but you want to make sure the people who influence you are pushing you in a direction you want to go in for the long term. Staring as a writer means you’ve heard the voices that talk to you, and you’ve decided to allow yourself the "gift of your own attention." By putting pen to paper, fingers to keyboard, you’re telling the universe you’re willing. Once you do that, you WILL be tested. There will be easy "pop-quizzes" such as friends calling asking you to go out for drinks on a Tuesday night. There will also be "final-exams" when someone close to you becomes ill or falls on hard times. The one factor -- above all else -- that continues to play a significant part in/of my success is who I choose to spend time with; who I let influence me; both my thoughts, and my actions.

What's next for you?

I invite every single reader to join a community, to seek out a group of like-minded learners AND producers, that will want for your success. About two years ago, just as we were coming out of the worst recession I’ve ever lived through, we started an online-coaching program with semi-annual "in-person" leadership retreat events. If you know that change is coming, and in one year or less you’re going to already be well on the path to success, join our community. Visit www.TimeToGetMomentum.com. Not sure if it’s for you? Email me, and I’ll send you a "Free Pass" for a 7-day membership. I’m so sure you’ll gain value in those seven days, I offer a money-back guarantee on http://www.GetMomentum.com membership. Ready?

Is there anything else you would like to add? 

Creativity comes in all shapes and sizes. Whether you’re a writer, a painter, a poet, or a craftsman, you’re put on this planet to share of the abundance, to give of the overflow that you see when you look out and KNOW in your heart of hearts that things can be better. And, as a result of you doing YOUR work, things will be better.

You can learn more about Jason at the following links:

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Interview with YA author Kevin Sharp

Last month, I was fortunate enough to meet Kevin Sharp when we both participated in a reading in San Jose called the Flash Fiction Forum. Kevin read a beautiful and funny short story, "In Blackest Night," that you can read here published on 100-Word Story. We talked for a bit after the reading, and I got a copy of his debut YA novel After Dakota. I loved it!

Kevin's characters are so real and their problems so compelling that I found myself thinking about them as I went about my day, as if they were my friends. He treats every character with dignity and gives them room to move and grow on the page, making mistakes and being human. And I loved his wealth of descriptions and details, plus all the 80s references seamlessly woven through. I am so glad I read this book -- and very grateful that Kevin took time out of his day to answer some questions about writing for the blog today!


Thanks for stopping by the blog, Kevin! Tell us about your novel After Dakota. What was your inspiration/motivation behind this book?

The novel is about a year in the life of three teenagers in the 1980s, following the death of one of their friends in a plane crash. Although the subject matter might sound heavy, it was written as a tribute to the classic teen movies of the 1980s, like Fast Times At Ridgemont High, The Breakfast Club, and Say Anything (and so many more). Simply put, I missed seeing those kinds of stories. The characters in the book are older than I was at the time (1983-84), but I definitely have distinct memories of living through those years. I wanted to try and capture that world for a reader who wasn’t alive then, but also bring it all back for a reader who was. My target audience for the book is anyone who is now, or has ever been, a teenager.

Have you always wanted to be a writer? How did you get into writing?

I used to write and draw my own daily comic strips (like the kind you’d find in a newspaper) as a kid. In fourth grade I adapted Star Wars into a stage play, which was performed for our class. It was about as not-good as it sounds. I went on to write a science fiction trilogy my freshman year of high school (the essay “Walking on Sunshine” delves into this painful memory). I recently discovered all three of those manuscripts but am afraid to read them. After college I got involved in screenwriting, which was fun for a while, but I got too burned out on the business side of the movie business.

What is your writing schedule? When/how do you find time to write? 

Because I teach high school, I get home from work in the afternoon. I often go to a favorite cafĂ© to write because I can find 10,000 distractions at home. Writing someplace away makes me feel like I’m going to a job, which in turn makes me more productive. I wrote After Dakota in a house with no internet & can report I got a lot more done in a lot less time. Funny how that works.


What is your biggest advice for other writers, particularly young writers just starting out? 

This isn’t some deep wisdom thought up exclusively by me, but… Finish everything you start. Even if the ending is terrible, put one on and make it better later.

Who are some of your favorite writers? 

The younger version of me devoured anything I could get my hands on by Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Piers Anthony, and Stephen King. Some of those writers I still enjoy, others not so much. I’d now add J.D. Salinger, Ray Bradbury, Harlan Ellison, Grant Morrison, Jo Ann Beard, and Mary Karr to that list (all for different reasons).

What's next for you? 

A short story of mine will be appearing in an upcoming anthology, scheduled to be published in spring 2015. I’ve been working on YA sci-fi novel for what feels like a decade. After that I have another book lined up, loosely based on an experience I had in Hollywood.

How can readers get in touch with you?     

My website has links to buy After Dakota in all ebook formats, or as a “real” book. You can also find links to some of my short stories, articles, and essays at www.kevin-sharp.com. Find me on Twitter @thatkevinsharp.