Sunday, December 28, 2008
Here's a link to the article:
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Big thanks to Rose, Candy, and my amazing editor Celeste Perrino-Walker!
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Sunday, September 7, 2008
Thursday, September 4, 2008
The people at "WeBook" think writing can -- and should -- be a fun, collaborative endeavor. The site features forums for writers to receive feedback on their work, avenues for readers to critique new writing, and provides a way for writers to work together, virtually, on projects. They even publish projects by "WeBook" authors!
Check it out: http://www.webook.com/
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Also, make a list of promises to yourself. Promises to strive for health, balance, and happiness with every ounce of your being.
I read an apt quote by Annie Dillard the other day: "How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives."
How are you spending your days -- and, thus, your life? It can also apply to your thoughts. How we spend our thoughts is how we spend our lives, as well. How would your characterize your thoughts and self-talk? Are you building yourself up or bringing yourself down?
Here are some promises I am making to myself this upcoming school year. Maybe they'll work for you, too:
- I will surround myself with positivity.
- I will think positive, supportive thoughts about myself and my dreams.
- I will surround myself with nurturing, driven, creative, optimistic, intelligent people of integrity, who love me for who I am and yet also push and inspire me to be better.
- I will, as John Wooden says, "make friendship a fine art," and I will choose relationships that make me feel happy, fulfilled and whole.
- I will not get overwhelmed by everything I have to do -- by all the details and to-do lists of everyday life, as well as the enormity of my dreams -- but instead will seek confidence and support from all of the things I have done and learned thus far, with the support of those who love me.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Thank you to Julie Price of the Ventura County Star, Jeff Dransfeldt for writing a wonderful story (and for being a great friend), and Eric Parsons for taking such a fabulous photo portrait.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
“Hey, have you read anything good lately?” It's a common question -- but do you ever notice how some people never offer to tell you about a book they’ve read? That’s because a lot of people have trouble reading. Sure, they know how to read but they don’t know how to read properly. If you need to get over this hurdle then consider these tips:
1. Read. That seems like a no-brainer, right? But maybe you just can’t seem to get started on a book or even an article in a magazine. Come up with a reasonable goal for your reading habits. Maybe you tell yourself you’re going to read five books this year and then plan accordingly.
2. Vary your reading. Even if you’re a fanatical golfer and want to consume every written word about the game, you’re bound to become bored with the subject. Read fiction and non-fiction. Switch from a biography to a detective novel. This will keep your reading fresh and if you’re not enlightened with a particular choice at least you’ll know there’s something totally different on the horizon.
3. Read with a pen. It’s often beneficial if you interact with the author. Jot down notes in the margin or write questions that you think should be answered as you work through the text. This will help ensure better comprehension.
4. Read a heavy book. Robinson Crusoe may seem like too daunting of a task to tackle. But if you start a long novel you might realize that once you put a dent into it you won’t want to stop. It’s challenging, to be sure, but it will be so rewarding when you finish.
5. Read a light book. Just as a lengthy book is good for your reading habits lighter books also make for healthy reading. There’s nothing wrong with reading a quick book or "guilty pleasure."
6. Pick up an old classic. Don’t always go for the hot new release that everyone’s talking about at work. Reach for a novel that has stood the test of time like Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. While you may feel like you’re back in high school, you’ll soon realize there was a reason teachers made you read these worthy books.
By-line: This post was contributed by Heather Johnson, who is an industry critic on the subject of Alabama teaching certificates (http://www.teachingtips.com/teaching-certificates/alabama/). She invites your feedback at heatherjohnson2323 at gmail dot com.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Students will not only have FUN, they will also learn how to improve central components of their writing, including dialogue, characterization, plot and setting, through various creativity-inducing writing exercises. Poets, playwrights, short-story writers, novelists – all are encouraged and welcome to join!
The cost is $125 per student, but I am offering a SPECIAL discounted rate of $100 to the first ten kids to register. A portion of the money raised will go towards my nonprofit literacy organization “Write On!” (www.zest.net/writeon.)
Here’s what teachers and students have to say:
“Thank you so much for sharing your story with our students. My fifth graders came back to my room just bursting with enthusiasm. It was wonderful for them to hear from a young adult about her joy of writing. Thank you for encouraging our kids.”
“What you said really inspired me. I love to write and think that it's really amazing how you published your first book.”
“Hi Dallas, I'm Bianca. You came to my school today, and let me tell you me and my friends were talking about how much you inspired us to write so I wanted to thank you so much for inspiring us to write.”
“Thanks again for taking the time to share your passions and inspire the next generation! I love the connection you make with kids by just being yourself!”
My writing experience: I recently signed a contract with the highly regarded agency Foundry + Media to represent my novel, The Identity Theft of Dani Norhall. I am also the author of two self-published collections of short stories. My first, There’s a Huge Pimple On My Nose, was published when I was ten years old and has now sold more than 1,100 copies; and my latest, 3 a.m., was featured on the nationally syndicated PBS book talk show Between the Lines. I have also written for numerous national publications, including Family Circle, Writer’s Digest, The Writer, Cicada, Justine, Listen, and my work has appeared in four Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies.
To register or get more information, call me at 805-889-5570 or e-mail me at email@example.com.
Monday, July 21, 2008
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
I loved being able to chat with members of the Ventura County Writers Club after my talk. To be sure, one disadvantage about writing being such a solitary endeavor is that it is easy to feel very alone, especially when dealing with an especially tough case of writer's block or a disappointing rejection letter. Which is why it is so important to have writer friends -- people to turn to for support and encouragement, who have been in your shoes and understand, indeed who are likely going through the very same thing themselves.
Looking to meet more writing friends? Find a local writing club in your area -- libraries and bookstores are great places to check out for possible club meetings. Search online for critique groups. Join an online writing community like http://www.absolutewrite.com, http://writersontherise.com, or my own http://www.zest.net.writeon. Subscribe to writing magazines and online newsletters (to subscribe to my Write On newsletter, simply drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
And, of course, if you are looking to meet other writers, go to talks by authors at local bookstores, libraries, or events. Many newspapers list "Literary Happenings" and bookstores print up calendars of events. This is a terrific way to not only gain advice and inspiration for your own writing endeavors, but also to meet other writing and reading enthusiasts. And think of it as good karma for when you embark on your own book talk tour!
Thanks again to Lisa Baretto, Greg Elliot, and the Ventura County Writers Club for having me as a speaker!
Monday, July 14, 2008
Naming characters isn't an issue I hear discussed often -- but it's very important. The name of a character is often the first clue the reader gets about him, and if it doesn't fit with the rest of his personality, something feels "off." For example, right now I'm reading Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl (a marvelous book, by the way, that I would highly recommend to every writer and word-lover out there!) and one of the main characters is named Hannah, which does not fit at all with her brazen, magnetically unique character. However, Pessl does this on purpose, in a way that further characterizes Hannah. The narrator remarks: "Whoever had named her -- mother, father, I didn't know -- was a person harrowingly out of touch with reality, because ... if she had to have a common name, she was Edith or Nadia or Ingrid, at the very least, Elizabeth or Catherine; but her glass-slipper name, the one that really fit, was something along the lines of Countess Saskia Lepinska. 'Hannah Schneider' fit her like stonewashed Jordache jeans six sizes too big. And once, oddly enough, when Nigel said her name during dinner, I could have sworn I noticed a funny delay in her response, as if, for a split second, she had no idea he was talking to her." In this way, Pessl brilliantly uses Hannah's unfitting moniker to shed light on her character; indeed, often those things that are not "us" tell the world just as much about who we are as those things that do reflect how we see ourselves.
Here's what I usually do when naming my characters: in the heat of writing everything down, give the character the first name that comes to mind, or even just a letter of the alphabet, and focus on the story. Later, during the revision process, you can go back and change the name to something that feels right. If you're really stuck for names, go to the library and check out a baby names book -- it's like a dictionary full of names for potential characters! I'm sure there will be something in there that feels right to you.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Online communities of writers make it even easier to connect with other writers, even if they live miles and miles away. A couple years ago I was fortunate enough to meet Donna Pacini, a remarkable writer and amazing woman who created the Starry Night Creative Artists Community. Donna writes, "It was Vincent Van Gogh's dream to create a community of creative artists who would encourage and support once another. In that spirit we come together as a community of artists who wish to join in mutual support."
Check out the website at: http://www.astarrynightproductions.com/creative/creativeartists.htm
And here's my profile: http://www.astarrynightproductions.com/creative/pages/woodburn.htm
Saturday, July 12, 2008
Now she has created a website, www.marketingthemuse.com, to be an extension of the workshops she teaches at writers conferences. Not only does Marla share fantastic insights and advice about the writing business, she also leads by example -- the site is so easy to navigate and eye-catching that you can learn a lot simply by browsing through it.
Great writing simply isn't enough these days -- you also have to be able to market yourself. That's why Marla's site is such a gift. Check it out!
Thursday, July 3, 2008
To vote for Pat for the Energizer Keep Going Hall of Fame, visit http://www.energizerkeepgoinghalloffame.com/KeepGoing/Finalists/finalist8.aspx. It only takes ten seconds and one click to support this incredible, brave and inspiring young man. We're proud of you, Patrick!
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
So, I took a few days and slowly sifted through it all -- donating most of it to charity. My time abroad taught me how much I enjoy a simpler lifestyle, how having an excess of material things can be overbearing rather than freeing. I mean, I traveled for three weeks around Europe with only a backpack of possessions! Do I really need to keep my term papers from sophomore year of high school, or those pair of jeans that I just might fit back into someday?
The time I spent cleaning my room has already paid major dividends in my creative life. When I wake up I feel refreshed and rarin' to go, instead of anxious and burdened. I know where things are now, and don't have to waste time finding that folder with sources for an article I'm working on -- much less sift through stacks of papers covering my desk to simply find a pen.
My challenge to you is to take a few days this summer and de-clutter your own space -- whether it be your bedroom, your office, your workshop, your studio. You've grown and your creative life has evolved -- your space should reflect that maturation. A little de-cluttering can bring huge boosts in your creative energy!
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Are you looking to write for a teen audience? Even if you're not a teen yourself, you can sound authentic and compelling even to the most angst-filled teenager. I recently came across this article, which will help you hone your style and voice to engage teen readers:
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Another helpful trick I found is to send postcards to yourself with notes anytime you travel anywhere. It's a great memory-booster to see a visual image of a place along with your own thoughts and remembrances. Not traveling anytime soon? Write a letter to your future self, filled with your goals and words of inspiration, and open it in a month or a year's time.
Sunday, February 17, 2008
Thursday, January 24, 2008
I have been selected as one of 800 semi-finalists out of an original 5,000 entries in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award for my novel, "The Identity Theft of Dani Norhall." The winner receives a book deal from Penguin Putnam! This really would be my dream come true.
Here's how I need your help: the finalists are selected based on the quality of reviews on Amazon.com. If you could just take a few minutes and read a short excerpt from my novel, and if you like it and feel inclined to write a review -- it doesn't have to be long, only a couple sentences -- I would appreciate it more than words can say.
Here's the link: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0011G9Y4A/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top
Amazon is also offering prizes and gift cards to people who review the excerpts, so you could win something, too!
Thank you in advance for your encouragement and support! Tell all your friends and family and please feel free to invite anyone and everyone to write reviews on Amazon!
Sunday, January 20, 2008
Everyone is fortunate to find mentors and role models to look up to. For a writer, trying to make her way in the lonely, rejection-filled world of writing, finding a writing mentor is a treasure. I am lucky to have generous, warm, thoughtful writing mentors, one of whom is Carolyn Howard-Johnson. Carolyn is the author of the newly released The Frugal Editor -- a must-read for any writer, beginning or advanced, along with her fabulous companion book The Frugal Promoter. If you don't have copies of these two writing-shelf-must-haves, go to Amazon.com right now and consider it an investment in your writing career.
Carolyn was also kind enough to mention me in her blog, http://www.sharingwithwriters.blogspot.com/ (scroll down to the January 3 post...) Her blog is a terrific resource for writers and readers alike.
And, I just found out Carolyn has a new endeavor: her annual "Noble (Not Nobel!) Prize for Literature."
Carolyn says, "Praised or maligned, the Nobel Prize for Literature is always news. It selects the best from the world and therefore misses much of value." So Carolyn, “Back to Literature” columnist for MyShelf.com, aims to close the gap with her annual “Noble Prize for Literature.”
Over the last years the Nobel committee has recognized authors for their literary expertise but there has also been a trend toward awarding the prize for, as Los Angeles Times Staff Writer Tim Rutten says, “an author’s particular relevance to the moral moment in which the world finds itself.”
Carolyn’s prize therefore concentrates on books that address these same issues. For her Noble Prize, Carolyn considers books written in English (which narrows the field of prospects considerably) because writers who write in English have been rather neglected over the years and, she admits, because that is the language in which she . . . ahem, reads well enough..
Carolyn’s Noble Prize lists have included well-known authors who explore discrimination in their writing like Toni Morrison and Ralph Ellison but she tries to concentrate on authors who have not been posted to bestseller lists or won major awards. Some past winners are poet Lloyd King and LA's Leora G. Krygier, Randall Sylvis and Suzanne Lummis.
The winners for 2007 are: Christopher Meeks, Ken Kreckel, Magadalena Ball, Rolf Gompertz, Joyce Faulkner and Pat McGrath Avery, Christine Alexanians, Sona Ovasapyan, Alison Bechdel, Diane Ackerman, Joshua Ferris, Lionel Shriver, Karla Brundage, John F. Nienstedt and Yvonne Perry.
My amazing mentor Carolyn Howard Johnson is no stranger to literary prizes. Her first novel, This is the Place, won Sime-Gen's Reviewers’ Choice Award after it was published in 2001 and went on to win 7 other awards. Her book of creative nonfiction, Harkening, has won three awards, and her Frugal Book Promoter and her Frugal Editor were both named USA Book News' Best Professional Book in their years of publiciation. Learn more about Carolyn at http://www.authorsden.com
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
I am a huge believer in the power of setting goals, and each new year I take time to review how far I've come in the past year, and to set new goals for the upcoming year.
Here are a few of my milestones in 2007:
* I studied abroad for a month this summer at Cambridge University, and was one of four USC students selected to study Creative Writing in England this spring at the University of East Anglia.
* I was promoted to Coordinator of the Young Writers Program at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference.
* I broke into a few new markets, including the Cup of Comfort series, The Daily Trojan USC student newspaper, and 805 magazine, and took on a new column each month for Listen magazine.
* I was honored as a Jim Murray Scholar for excellence in collegiate journalism.
And here are few of my goals for 2008:
* Find the right agent for my novel manuscript.
* Write at least one page a day, every single day.
* Start a literary journal at USC.
* Write and produce a play to raise money for my "Write On!" nonprofit endeavors.
I also have a goal of being more consistent and better about making entries in this blog ... sometimes I get so caught up in school and writing and busy with extracurricular commitments that I forget to take the time to blog about my experiences! But I really enjoy interacting with others this way and I am definitely going to try to be more proactive about taking five minutes every other day to jot down some of my thoughts.
What are your goals for 2008? I'd love to hear them. Also, while I know a new year is a time of optimism and hope, it can also be overwhelming. Remember to break your goals up into smaller, more manageable parts -- just taking small steps towards your goals each day really adds up. For example, I tell students who want to be writers to make a pact with themselves to write ten minutes -- that's all they need to do, just ten minutes at least -- each and every day. Believe me, the pages will add up more quickly than you could imagine! As the saying goes, slow and steady wins the race. I'd love to hear progress on your goals throughout the year -- and, if I can ever be of any help, either in the writing field or simply by offering some words of encouragement and support, please don't hesitate to contact me!
Here's to a masterpiece of a 2008!! :)