Sunday, May 31, 2020

Free Online Workshop: First Five Pages & Pitch

The First Five Pages Workshop

This amazing international workshop was online before online was cool. I'm not just saying this because I've been a mentor on the site for years. First Five Pages is a collaborative workshop where each writer is assigned two professional mentors to provide two rounds of feedback. A literary agent reviews and comments on the polished pieces and pitch letter. The strongest entry often receives the offer of a partial or full manuscript read.

First Five Pages Workshop banner

Writing Motivation & Accountability

I don't know about you but I've been pretty quiet writing-wise (and on social media) of late. After spending eight hours a day online for work (and yes, that involves almost endless virtual meetings from my dining room table), the idea of switching to my "author" computer and logging more screen time has been losing out to the option of just taking a LONG walk outside. I've been trying to improve: setting word count goals and reaching out critique group colleagues. I find that knowing someone besides myself is going to look at my work gives me both motivation and a sense of accountability. 

How to Enter the Workshop

If you're like me, needing a writing community to help you move forward in these surreal times, check out the First Five Pages opportunity. The June workshop is open for entries from 12 am to 11:59 pm ET on Monday, June 3. Not quite ready to take that step? Here's an article I wrote about identifying your antagonist -- it's based on an in-person workshop I teach and I've been told it's helpful -- feel free to let me know on Twitter or, you know, whatever.

Happy Writing!

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Your Guide Today: Stephen King

If you haven't read King's ON WRITING, treat yourself to a copy this year. Even if your TBR pile is already too high, I give you this useful nugget of King-ly wisdom.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Perhaps my favorite quote right now...

Zadie Smith is one smart lady. Read some of her thoughts on fighting the algorithm and (short) storytelling. Better, still, take a minute to trick yourself into getting some of your own words on the page today.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Wordy Celebration #2: On My Wish List

As we hit the midpoint of January, I'm celebrating the joy of ANTICIPATION. Here's a list of soon-to-be-released titles (and one recently published book), that I cannot wait to READ.

In the YA category, we have... a rom-com charmer from an author who began writing as a teen on Wattpad: The Upside of Falling by Alex Light; Sherri L. Smith's The Blossom and the Firefly, a powerful WWII romance between two Japanese teens; Lucky Caller, Emma Mills' witty contemporary debut featuring a radio broadcasting class; and The Kingdom of Back, a new historical fantasy by the unstoppable Marie Lu.


Heading over to the "grown-up" aisle, I am beyond excited for the new Emily St. John Mandel, whose Station Eleven remains on many of my top-ten lists: The Glass Hotel, coming in March. And, for those familiar with my epic carpool-Audible addiction, my next two "listens" in the queue are The Library Book by The Orchid Thief author Susan Orlean (this one actually pubbed in October, 2019) and, on the lighter side, Murder on Millionaires' Row by Erin Lindsey.

  The Library Book audiobook cover art  Murder on Millionaires' Row audiobook cover art

Monday, January 13, 2020

Be the Dragon

When it comes to creative writing, metaphors can make magic. Even though I know and use metaphors with regularity, sometimes it helps me ground myself with a nice refresher definition and some sweet examples, like the ones at Grammarly. In fact, one of my favorite go-to's for fortifying my poetry muscle is Paul Fussell's dry, green tome Poetic Meter & Poetic Form. Shaped poetry is something I'll never likely write, but reading Fussell's chapter about it often points me to a new idea for free verse. Sometimes, you just gotta write a few haikus and maybe an unpublishable sonnet and... you get it.

Today, I leave you with this quippy call-and-response by Dragonquest author Anne McCaffrey and, this advice to your writer self:  BE THE DRAGON.