#Writespirations #85

Sacha Black’s writing challenge for this week, which I managed to conveniently stumble on while getting ready to work on cleaning and organizing a very messy room (really, I don’t know how I let it get so bad every time. Just fold the clothes Beth…but I digress)…Where was I? Oh yes, the writing challenge for this week, which is to post your current WIP’s title and a 150 word snippet.

So here it is:

Paulonious Punk and the Search for an Adventure

By Elizabeth S. Tyree

“Dude, we rode our bikes a block to get a drink from the gas station,” Pauly didn’t sound like he agreed with John’s idea of an adventure.

“A block and a half,” John corrected, “We had to a road AND ride in a busy parking lot to get big drinks and candy bars at a BRAND NEW GAS STATION.” John’s face had the wide eyes and raised eyebrows that say ‘AHA TAKE THAT.’

“With our mom’s in the car behind us.” Pauly obviously wasn’t in the right kind of mood for this talk.

“Whatever P-man,” John tossed the spare apple to his friend, took a juicy bite from his own, and plopped down on his favorite ‘captain’s’ chair.

Paulonious made a face but didn’t say anything about John’s use of the nick-name. He didn’t mind being called “Pauly”, “Pauly P,” or even “Punk” but he absolutely HATED it when the big boys at school called him The P. kid, P.P., or the worst P.P. the Whiz Kid.

(ok, I went over by 17 words…but come on, P.P. the Whiz Kid! 😛 )

 

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Top 10 Reasons to Create Little Free Libraries in Your Community by Tammy Mulligan and Clare Landrigan

I’ve been seeing these pop up in front of stores in the ‘big’ town about an hour from us. They’re such a cute, creative idea to get books into the hands of other people. Check it out!

Nerdy Book Club

We often support schools and communities with promoting summer reading.  We want students to continue their “readerly lives” over the summer.  A few years ago, we were researching ideas to get books to students in different communities and we came across Little Free Libraries.   We immediately feel in love!  We were so enamored by this idea we decided we had to give it a try ourselves.  We put a Little Free Library in Tammy’s yard.

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After several years of having a Little Free Library in Tammy’s yard, here are our top 10 Reasons why we plan to create more Little Free Libraries.

  1. Share Your Books – If you are like us, you have books sitting on your shelves collecting dust. Instead of dusting, share your books with your community.

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  1. Meet Your Neighbors – I can’t tell you how many neighbors I have met thanks to the Little…

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7 Signs You’ve Gone Too Far With Your Advertising — Legends of Windemere

A big chunk of an indie author’s life is promoting their books. Whether it’s available or about to come out, you need to spread the word. Yet, sometimes an author might go too far and things begin to unravel. At least mentally. Your dreams appear in Twitter form and you are being chased by hashtags. […]

via 7 Signs You’ve Gone Too Far With Your Advertising — Legends of Windemere

Can I (An Author) Respond to Reviews?

Should Authors Respond to Reviews, EVER???

As I was scrolling through a certain social media site this morning, I ran across a posted article by BookRiot and entitled “Dear Authors: Don’t Respond to Goodreads Reviews.” Written by Brenna Clark Gray and originally published on July 10, 2015, this article discussed a certain author ‘going off’ on a reviewer. Using this as a basis for her opinion, Ms. Grey proceeded to conclude that authors should not respond to any reviews, good or bad, because even to say thank you is to intrude on the reviewers “reviewing space” which, apparently, could be compromised and their ability to write a completely honest review would fly out the window (I’m rephrasing here but I believe that was the basic gist of the paragraph.)

If you would like to read the article, click – here– to do so. I would also like to suggest that you go on to the Book Riot Facebook page – here – and find this post to read the comments. While a few seem horribly venomous and slightly under-educated about the idea, the comments really serve as a good cross-section of research for readers’ feelings on the subject.

The comments on that post were honestly what made me think more on this topic. The idea that an interaction with an author, no matter how respectful it is, could make someone uncomfortable is something I really had never thought of. As both an author and an avid reader, I’ve always nerded out at the littlest minute possibility that my writing heroes noticed my existence! But then again, I don’t believe that I ever told them they were stupid and uneducated, which some of the reviewers do on occasion.

So what answer have I come up with after pondering this question for a few hours? What has my reading and writing brain concluded? Well, in my semi-expert (in my own mind anyway) opinion: Go for it! Answer those reviews respectfully. But DO NOT ANSWER THEM IMMEDIATELY!

What I mean by this is not that you should look at an absolutely horrid 1-star review that gives no reasons for their loathing of your life’s work other than the idea that you were born without a brain and a chicken quite possibly transcribed your story, stew on it for a few hours, and then write a well worded, scathing, and absolutely equally horrid response insinuating that the reviewer is, in fact, living with the half brain donated by their family’s beloved pet donkey. No. That is, in fact, a very poor plan. Because however else I feel about Ms. Grey’s article, I 100% agree with the statement that no matter what the outcome, an author who responds in such a manner will be hurt by it.

Do NOT tell them how stupid they are. Someone who can’t spell basic words once reviewed a book of mine a trashed it. They claimed the book was rife with spelling and grammar mistakes and that it took away from the story. However, they rated it a 3 star and proceeded to state that they had bought the other two books and were currently reading the second (at the time). I wailed and went off about that for days. However, I did not respond (ok…I may have responded and then immediately deleted my response). That kind of back and forth will probably never do any good and even hollering about my degree in education, heavy on English and Music would only serve to make me look worse.

So what, then, do I mean? If we can’t respond to the uglies, what can we do? We can cry, scream, cuddle those stuffed animals saved from our childhood that we swear are only there to inspire our next great children’s book…and then we can move on to other reviews. The reviews that include reasons for the low rating, questions about areas in the book that confused them, or even glowing recommendations. These are something that might provide for a GOOD interaction with our readers. For these, I would suggest reading them multiple times, letting the questions or comments simmer, and then writing out a respectful response that asks for more detail about where/what their complaint pertains to in the story or answering their questions. If you cannot do this in a respectful, kind manner then DO NOT RESPOND AT ALL! However, if you can respond appropriately, this can lead them to connect with you on other sites, possibly even garnering recommendations or new readers.

Additionally, if they have specifically commented on something they enjoyed about your story responding with a little information about that segment, a little behind-the-scenes backstory, can create a bit of a bond between reader and author. It gives them a peek into your process and allows for a respectful and friendly back and forth. This can also lead to them recommending you to their friends, following you on social media, and possibly even becoming a new reader buddy.

You must use your best judgement though! Please, please don’t force yourself to respond to people if you don’t feel like it. Some people say that authors should put their work out into the world and never look back, letting their ‘baby’ fly on alone. I don’t believe that those people have ever spent what feels like an eternity writing, re-writing, editing, revising, sending out, reading rejection letters, formatting, and printing pieces of their souls. I could be wrong about that though. It is all a matter of personal opinion. This post, as pretty much everything else I write, is my own opinion.

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Please use self-control and self-policing here. Our goal is not to scare readers or make a bad name for ourselves, it is to help ourselves grow as authors. If you do not feel comfortable responding to reviewers or feel as though you would be nasty to them, then please don’t force yourself to respond on my account! Remember, you can usually also send a private message to the reviewer if you would like to quietly and without fanfare ask for specifics from their reviews. That can sometimes be the best option. IF you do ask for their specifics in order to look it back over, please consider also sending them a note that you’ve revised that section or asking them read the possible revisions so that you know if it works better in the new format or wording. You may have just located a new Beta reader with fresh eyes for your work.

Have any thoughts on this topic?? Can’t wait to hear from you!! Until then, may you be blessed with great reviews and fabulous bursts of inspiration.

 

In the Mind of an Author

Liar: A Memoir

By: Rob Roberge

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When Rob Roberge learns that he’s likely to have developed a progressive memory-eroding disease from years of hard living and frequent concussions, he is terrified by the prospect of becoming a walking shadow. In a desperate attempt to preserve his identity, he sets out to (somewhat faithfully) record the most formative moments of his life—ranging from the brutal murder of his childhood girlfriend, to a diagnosis of rapid-cycling bipolar disorder, to opening for famed indie band Yo La Tengo at The Fillmore in San Francisco. But the process of trying to remember his past only exposes just how fragile the stories that lay at the heart of our self-conception really are. Via Amazon’s summary

Author, instructor, musician, husband, and addict – Rob Roberge has done a lot in his lifetime. When his years of hard living and mental illness combine to cause a degenerative memory issue, he sets out to keep the pieces of himself together by writing out his memoir. This is a gritty, fast paced, and sometimes frightening look at the role addiction and mental health play in life.

Writing:

Rob Roberge’s writing is fast paced and connected in the most seemingly random ways. The beginning is incredibly abrupt and the formatting confusing at times, which means its doing exactly what the author meant for it to do: thrust the reader into the mind of an addict and Bi-Polar. The swings of mania, the switches in years and topics, everything connects with a thin and winding thread of incredible logic. It grabs at your mind and your gut, causing reactions and trains of thought that you, as the reader, just won’t be expecting at the beginning of this journey. The writing is beautiful and scary and completely perfect.

Characters:

In a memoir you might not expect to meet a large cast of characters. However, having led a life of almost gypsy like movement so that we get at least a working knowledge of at least half a dozen important, non familial (in the strictest sense of the word anyway) players from Rob’s lifespan. Most of these will be women, a few will idiots, even fewer will be part of the late 2000s…but they all have a huge impact on both author and audience.

Overall Feelings:

I went in to this book on the recommendation of a good friend and was skeptical, to say the least. Of the non-fiction books currently sitting on my TBR 3 are scientists in graphic novel form, 1 is the autobiography of an actor/magician, and 1 is the story of a ballerina…none of them are especially pertaining to mental illness, addiction, excessive pain, sexual deviance, etc. etc. etc. I don’t typically even try to pick up things of that nature. However, she was right. This book was definitely worth the read. Though very raw and sometimes difficult to read, the formatting added to the overall feel of the book in such a way as to make me feel as though I was actually inside Mr. Roberge’s head as opposed the linear factual read most memoirs provide.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who has ever wanted to know, and possibly understand, more of what it feels like to be an addict or have Bi-Polar disease. The manic feel of the book lends itself to providing that feel for its readers. HOWEVER – if you have a problem with large amounts of foul language, sex, and drugs please, PLEASE, refrain from picking this up. You will be offended.

I give this a whopping overall score of 4.5 out of 5 manic dragons.

Hicuggle – A Definition

Hicuggle (aka Higgly)  – to hiccup and giggle at the same time. A sharp, high pitched, chest tightening intake of mirthful air.

The joys of teaching middle school are many, I promise, but one of the best things about days spent substituting with “my” 6th, 7th, and 8th graders are that they are old enough to banter and still young enough to wordplay with me. Last week we came up with the above gem. When I defined it for them, they actually thought I had gone online and found an actual definition for it (I haven’t looked!)

What are some of your favorite ‘made up’ or combined words?

Review – American Housewife

Hello everyone! If you’ve been around for a while then you probably picked up on the fact that I typically review Young Adult and/or self-published books. Don’t worry, I’m not going to stop that! However, the following book was recommended all over my friends’ BookTube videos recently and I decided to check it out on Overdrive and give it a whirl. So here we go!

American HousewifeBook Summary via Amazon:

A sharp, funny, delightfully unhinged collection of stories set in the dark world of domesticity, American Housewife features murderous ladies who lunch, celebrity treasure hunters, and the best bra fitter south of the Mason Dixon line.

Meet the women of American Housewife: they wear lipstick, pearls, and sunscreen, even when it’s cloudy. They casserole. They pinwheel. They pump the salad spinner like it’s a CPR dummy. And then they kill a party crasher, carefully stepping around the body to pull cookies out of the oven. These twelve irresistible stories take us from a haunted prewar Manhattan apartment building to the set of a rigged reality television show, from the unique initiation ritual of a book club to the getaway car of a pageant princess on the lam, from the gallery opening of a tinfoil artist to the fitting room of a legendary lingerie shop. Vicious, fresh, and nutty as a poisoned Goo Goo Cluster, American Housewife is an uproarious, pointed commentary on womanhood.

Book Review:

I was immediately captured by the witty, sarcastic writing style. Within the first few sentences I felt as though I was merely riding along with a few friends, discussing the random happenings of our lives..albeit slightly stranger happenings than normal but still…

Character Believability:

These characters are not the type that you would imagine to be completely believable. However, they’re written very realistically and the way they come across is highly believable.

Flow and Pace/Reader Engagement:

Like I said earlier, I was immediately engaged and remained so throughout the entire book. Each story maintained a wonderful pace and the entire book flowed together in a wonderful voice and overall feel.

  Reader Enrichment:

One wouldn’t imagine a short story collection of this sort to be particularly enriching for its readers. However, I feel as though I’ve been revived as an author by reading these little pieces (some of which discuss authoring along with their other themes). The way these little vignettes were written is refreshing and my brain feels as though it expanded and twirled in just the right directions to move along with the directions my own stories have been wanting to take.

Overall Impression:

Helen Ellis is the ‘bomb diggity’ of short story writing! The cover is gorgeous, the story telling is well done, the stories themselves are hilarious, and I absolutely adored this book.

Character Believability: 5
Flow and Pace: 5
Reader Engagement: 5
Reader Enrichment: 5
Reader Enjoyment: 5
Overall Rate: 5 out of 5 stars

Saturday Stories – 3/12/16

This week I finished reading two books, wrote 3 pages of my novel, and re-worked our Little Monster interior too many times to count. My illustrator (mom) Becky A. Tyree got the interior designs for Leonard the Lemur completed yesterday so I’m going to be re-working Little Monster *again* and prepping Leonard the Lemur for the same this weekend.

Tanganyika Wildlife Park, the park featured in Leonard the Lemur, had its seasonal grand opening today so I wanted to do a quit shout out to them on their big day! Check them out on their website, facebook, or Amazon wishlist.

This week’s excerpt is from the ‘villains’ perspective in The Way We Were. ENJOY 😀

THE FOUNDATION:

“I am sickened by the incompetence you are displaying!” The voice seemed to surround a small group of cowering robes. “Is this why we’ve spent generations grooming your families? To breed OUT this disappointing behavior? Yet the mortals are winning again. We have been in existence, this plan has been in existence, since days of Noah. Time and again we have been thwarted. Time and again these toddlers have foiled everything! We have waited thousands of years for them to forget everything. For them to LOSE their knowledge and connections. They have finally reached a blank life AND YET YOU STILL FAIL ME!!! Disappointed.”

An empty silence pressed down against the cowering capes until one straightened determinedly and strode with confident purpose to the high seat.

“Well, you imbecile’s heard him,” The masked, helmeted and robed figure projected menacingly across the crowded meeting hall. “We are failing them. Just as our parents, grandparents, and forefathers failed them in every generation before us.”

He paused, the lightweight wood of his painted mask doing nothing to conceal his baleful glare as he, the Grand Guard of the Asmodeian Society, watched the sniveling members of his tribe scurry to their own, lesser, seats.

Positioned in a large circle situated around the outside of a plush, starched, and scotch-guarded carpet the color midnight’s bad dreams and decorated with the shimmering realism of black holes and dying stars, the circle of the submissives was ever reminded of their tenuous positions in the ranks.

Some days the carpet seemed to swirl and change design on its own, but those things were dangerous to dwell on and rarely spoken of by the members pledged to this sect. There are some things that frighten even those bred to be fearless.

Writer’s Quote Wednesday Challenge

Silver Threading and RonovanWrites have this lovely new writing quote challenge for us. Basically, choose a writing quote and then use that as inspiration for a piece of flash fiction, with quote as the title or used within the piece.

Ok, I like a challenge. I can do this (maybe-ish). For my first week of the challenge I’m going to almost stick to the “Romance” theme suggested by Silver.

 

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My Heart is almost a breathing, sentient being. It makes it own choices, decisions I wouldn’t ever agree to if I had a say. It ties a string around things it loves and causes me to stumble and pull if I walk away from them. To top it all off,  I think my heart and my stomach are in cahoots.

They drop at the same rate, my stomach often enjoys cradling my heart like they’re best friends just trying to make my logical head spin.

Logical, pah! They’ve ruined that. My heart and my stomach, they breath into everything that magical mayhem of belief, desire, magic.

They send my mind reeling and I must write, write until my hands cramp, until my fingers numb, until pen after pen has expired. Write until I cannot help but sleep, and in sleeping my dream self begins to write. Every place, person, and idea my heart has stored tumbles out of me like the fully formed Greek myths, but with more editing needed later. A novel, a short story, a prose poem that makes no sense…they all leap and bound, in love with ink and the sound, oh the sound of pen scratches and liquid words.

Fresh Bread + Books = This Post

I decided to watch a few BookTube videos as I was getting ready this morning, which is fairly normal for me, and managed to mis-read the title of one such video from ‘fresh reads’ to ‘fresh breads.” I re-read the title, watched the video, and giggled at myself…but the title “Fresh Breads” wouldn’t stop tapping at my brain. What could I do with this title? Could I turn ‘fresh breads’ into something bookish and/or writish without writing a short story about baking bread because, let’s face it, I don’t want to write a story about baking bread right now.

So…I came up with a sort of tag post (which I will probably turn into a video later). Here it goes:

Writing:

When you bake bread, much like when you write, there are several ingredients you must include no matter what type of goody you’re cooking up.

  1. Flour – Flour contains starches and proteins that are ultimately responsible setting the finished products volume, texture, and appearance. Name something in your current WIP that acts in the same way and ‘sets’ the finished product.

                                         I love the way Grandpa P interacts with the two 9 year old protagonists of the story. To me, his quirky and gentle spirit melds well with his adventurous side and helps the boys rise to the occasion, allowing them to find what they need and ‘setting’ the story. 

2) Salt – Salt is used to balance the yeast and boost flavors. Name something in your writing (style or current WIP) that helps to keep the balance or boost the narrative.

Sarcasm balances everything out…sarcasm and music :p

3) Yeast – Many breads use yeast to ferment the carbohydrates in dough and convert them to carbon dioxide bubbles, which makes the dough rise. What is a basic element in your writing (style or habit in general) that helps your story(ies) to rise?

I love the way words feel when they nestle in just right together. The way they trip and dance and snuggle in all the right ways. I like to think that my use of language employs that love and helps my writing style to rise.

4) Sweetener – Breads often include sugar, honey, or another type of sweetener to give them a flavor boost. What is something that ‘sweetens’ your writing?

An attempt at attention to details by showing the reader things the characters are seeing and hearing…or not paying attention to. Hopefully that little extra umph will sweeten the deal. 

5) Extras (fruit, nuts, meat, etc.)  – Many breads include sweet or savory elements that add an extra pop of flavor to the bread, making it into more of a meal or dessert. Name something about your current WIP that adds that element to nudge your story over the top.

One has pirate treasures and adventure to a soundtrack of classic rock songs, another has wild animals and great illustrations (thanks to my Mom! YAY Becky Tyree!), and finally the third WIP has magic and past lives that creep into mundane existences and turn us all around. 

Reading:

There are an incredible number of varying bread types throughout the world. Sweet, savory, and in-between these can be full meals, sweet treats, and even a daily supplement. The same goes for reading. These questions compare a few types of warm yummy bread to reading.

  1. Quick Bread – light, airy, and quick to make, this bread is often turned in to rolls, biscuits, coffee cake, etc. and is often a favorite of bakers and eaters alike. Name a book or genre that you consider to be like quick bread.

Contemporary reads, especially romances. I don’t often read them but there are a few on my shelf, just in case.

2) Rye Bread – a denser, more strongly flavored bread that comes in either dark or light varieties and can be spiced to add flavor and color. Name a book, series, or genre that you could see described like this.

This feels like Fantasy/Sci-Fi to me. There are so many different levels and sub-genres that can be visited here. For a book or a series, think about the difference between Tolkien’s LOTR and Stephen King’s The Dark Tower. 

3) Sweet Bread – created with sweetened dough, toppings, and/or fillings, sweet breads are often baked into decorative shapes (such as animals etc). Name a book that felt shaped  and stuffed with sweetness.

I was originally going to say something about romances again, but I think I’m going to go with a classic and choose “Little Women” here. Yes, there were some not-so-sweet bits, but that book feels shaped like one of its main characters and stuffed full with sweet youth, drizzled in a tender sauce to ease growing up.

4) Tortilla – A flat bread dating back to prehistoric times, tortillas are made of corn or flour. Name a book or series that has withstood the test of time.

There are so many wonderful books I could mention here. I adore many of Shakespeare’s works, and Poe’s as well. However, I think I’ll choose Arthur Conan Doyle’s “Sherlock Holmes” for this. With multiple movies and television series, Baker Street is still as popular as ever!

5) Baguette – A french bread with very crusty outside and delicate, tender ‘meat’ this bread is used for multiple purposes. Name a book or character that seemed thick skinned or ‘crusty’ at first, but that you later found to be delicate and tender once you got to know them OR that brings out multiple emotions in you.

I’m currently reading “Hollow City”, the second book in the Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children trilogy, and I think I will choose the gypsy characters from this book. I won’t spoil anything here, but they definitely started out crusty and mellowed into tenderness. 

That’s all that I have for you right now! If I do a video I will attempt to come up with different answers and will post it on the blog as well.

I would love to see what Silver Threading, Ronovan, Words Warrior, and Charles make of this tag…as well as anyone else who would like to have a crack at it! Please make sure to let me know if you take this on, I can’t wait to see everyone’s answers!