11.12.2013

A Visit with Dawn

On Monday, I had the pleasure of interviewing over at Dawn Malone's blog, host of Here's the Story, about the release of Story Sprouts. Dawn learned about the book after a writercize post, and was kind enough to interview my co-editor and founder of Children's Book Writers of Los Angeles, Nutschell Anne Windsor, and me.

Please take a look at the interview, which reveals the steps we took to publish as a writing group, and some insight on how other groups can do the same!

If anyone else is interested in an interview or guest post, we'll be rolling out a January blog tour, so stay tuned for details. If you already know you'd like to play host for a Story Sprouts related post, leave a comment here and we'll be sure to get you on the calendar!

11.04.2013

Story Sprouts Launch Party Photos

This past weekend, 13 newly published anthology authors and their biggest supporters gathered together at the Torrance Municipal Airport to celebrate the launch of Story Sprouts Writing Day Workshop and Anthology 2013: A Collection of Writing Exercises and the Resulting Creative Works of Fiction by the Children's Book Writers of Los Angeles.

I posted about the book Friday and have a tab on writercize with more information, so check those out to learn more about the book. 

In the meantime, here are a few photos from the launch! Thank you to Maiko and Nutschell (The Writing Nut) for the pics!

CBW-LA Board Members Angie, Lucy, Nutschell, Alana (that's me!) and Tiffani
jump for joy to celebrate a successful launch party!
The cake. Delicious!
Thanks King's Hawaiian for the yummy cake and for incorporating the book cover in the design!

Anthology Authors at the Launch Party.
What a lovely group of talented writers!

Signed books!
Thanks Keela Jacks for the beautiful cover design!

CBW-LA Board Members search for the next "great" idea.


The book was teamwork in the truest sense of the word! Our authors trusted us with a full day writing workshop, knowing that the work they produced would be edited and published in an anthology. (Can you imagine? Nineteen authors willing to workshop and write for publication in one day? Such brave individuals ... and very talented to boot! There are incredible new voices in this anthology.)

I edited the pieces for content and grammar and wrote the narrative surrounding the anthology based on a workshop presented by my co-editor, Nutschell Anne Windsor, while she handled the business side of publication, setting up a publishing wing for our non-profit group, called CBW-LA Publications, and preparing all of the minute details that go into producing a book! 

Fellow board members Angie Flores, Lucy Ravitch and Tiffani Barth secured donations for door prizes and prepared the food and decorations for both the workshop and launch party. 

Every person poured their heart and soul into making this the best anthology (slash) writing resource it could be!

As noted Friday, the book is now available on Amazon (and listed at Goodreads) and we are happy to send a review copy to book bloggers and indie reviewers. We'll also be putting together a blog tour, and would be happy to answer interview questions now or during tour dates, TBD! Send a note if you'd like to review the book or conduct an interview!

PS - Today is #StorySprouts Authors and Producers Day! Be sure to check out the link party on our Facebook page for posts from other anthology authors, CBW-LA guest speakers (hey Arlee Bird!), and the people who assisted by formatting, copy editing and designing our book!

Thank you Keela Jacks of Garrigues Graphics, Rachel Morgan of Morgan Media and Erin Elizabeth Long of Biblio/Tech for all that you did for this book!





10.29.2013

Hip! Hip! Hooray! Three Cheers for Story Sprouts!

Hear ye! Hear ye!

I am pleased to announce today is the official release date for
Story Sprouts: CBW-LA Writing Day and Anthology 2013, a collection of stories by members of the Children's Book Writers of Los Angeles created during a one day creative Writing Day workshop this past June.

It is a BIG accomplishment for our group, founded in 2010 by Nutschell Anne Windsor of The Writing Nut, and I am so excited. The book comes complete with 10 writing exercises, a bunch of writing tips and techniques, prompts, and - best of all - a glimpse at the talent of 19 published and aspiring children's book authors.

We've been highlighting those authors on our Facebook page for the past month, so take a look!

Nutschell spearheaded the workshop and our board members collected the anthology entries, which I then compiled and edited for the book. I also took her fantastic workshop presentation and translated it into a narrative form so that writers could follow along from home.

If you like to writercize, chances are you will be a fan of the exercises and prompts. And if you love to support and discover new talent, this is the place to look. I was floored by the stories that came out of three hours of writing and revising, from story seed to complete product! 

Each author contributed two pieces - one poem or short prose "On Writing," and one short story based on a photo prompt and exercise called Shopping for Story Ideas. Our writers played with voice and point of view during revision exercises.

Our Launch party is this Saturday, so if you are in the L.A. area, I'd love for you to attend and support these great writers! (Details at www.cbw-la.org)

After the launch, we will be going on an around the world BLOG TOUR, so if you are interested in obtaining a complimentary copy for a fair review on your blog, or if you'd like to interview Nutschell or me, please leave a comment here and we'll get in touch! 

Thank you for your readership and support!

And - I will see you tomorrow for a very fun Weekly Writercize! ;)


10.20.2013

Weekly Writercize Coming Soon: From Regular to Scarce to ... ?

Hello Writercizers!

It's been several full moons since my last post, and I felt like stopping into say hello.

As always, life has been a whirlwind of busy. Including a ton of time writing, which is always good! I still have a Chicken Soup giveaway to take care of, so watch for that in the coming days. I also have some writing news to share with all of you, and some blogging news to share as well!

Writing News first:

1 --- My writing group, Children's Book Writers of Los Angeles (or CBW-LA for short), is preparing to launch a new book! It will be fantastic for all writercizers out there - as well as English students, aspiring authors, published authors, teachers, writing groups and more! Late last year, we had a concept to create an anthology created out of a one-day writing workshop, complete with writing exercises. It would be a Writing Day Anthology. The idea was all of us have manuscripts we love, but ultimately want to publish as a stand-alone book, so by taking ideas sprouted in the moment, we could encourage our writers to exercise their minds, get published and have some fun.

It was a wonderful experience, and very successful! As the group's Publications Editor, I had the honor of compiling the pieces, doing some minor content edits to help the stories flow better, and writing the narrative around the anthology! The book includes ten writing prompts, photos, character types, all the hand-outs from the workshop on four short literary types - Picture Book Manuscript, Flash Fiction, Poetry and Essay - and descriptions and thoughts on the writing craft.

Our authors completed two published works each - one On Writing, and the other a fictional piece based on a photo prompt. There are some outstanding, creative brains in our midst and I am very excited to announce the Anthology, entitled STORY SPROUTS, will be released on October 29, 2013! I encourage you all to buy a copy when it comes out - available on Amazon in digital or print form - and I will keep you posted here with the link and a giveaway. In the meantime, follow our Facebook page for updates. 

We are patting ourselves on the back at the moment for a whole new approach to the anthology, so we'd appreciate some pats on the back from you as well. ;)

And, if you have not met Nutschell Anne Windsor yet, aka The Writing Nut, check out her blog! She is the co-editor of STORY SPROUTS, and she designed the exercises and the workshop. She is also the incredibly smart, talented, creative, resourceful founder of CBW-LA. It has been an honor to work with her on this very important project.


2 --- My creative nonfiction work about building an orphanage in Benin, West Africa is well underway and I hope to have the first draft completed by the New Year. In the meantime, I am planning a two-week research adventure in Africa the end of next month. Wahoo! This will be a FUNNY book, something we've coined the humorous humanitarian, and the critique group response was strong. 

Blogging News:

I have decided to attack this blog again in manageable spurts, so I would like to post a Weekly Writercize. I am not ready to re-launch the WeekendWritercize competition yet, but I am looking forward to a weekly interaction with the blogging world. 

So, what day should I post my Weekly Writercize? What's your preference? Shall we make it Wednesday for good alliteration? Over the weekend? First thing Monday morning? I'm up for any day but Tuesdays, so send me a shout-out with your preference.

7.16.2013

10 Questions with Ian Doescher, Best-Selling Author of William Shakespeare's Star Wars

Ian Doescher, photo by Shan Applegate
Ten Question with Ian Doescher,  
Author of William Shakespeare's Star Wars


Today I am honored to host Ian Doescher, friend and New York Times Best-Selling Author (!) of William Shakespeare's Star Wars. My friendship with Ian pre-dates his writing career, and it has been quite the whirlwind adventure watching his burgeoning writing career! He still maintains a nine to five day job, but he and his family are enjoying quite the voyage around the country this summer to launch his book.


William Shakespeare's Star Wars by Ian Doescher





Please welcome Ian and feel free to leave a question or comment for him in the comments section! I'm sure he'd love to connect with fans and future readers, as well as all of you aspiring writers and authors who read this blog.







Here goes!

1. First things first, let's get something out of the way. My mom taught you in elementary school, I'm featuring you on my blog, you're married to my childhood best friend, and you now own my grandparents' house. Let's call a spade a spade. To me, this all means - my family is directly responsible for your genius. Thoughts?




ID: Definitely.  In fact, the idea didn't come to me until al of those events had happened, so it must be due to the perfect alignment of the Garrigues planets.(Ha! Thanks for indulging me.)

2. Kidding! Seriously, you were already a genius. I think. We just get the honor of knowing the man who married the literary titan of William Shakespeare with the film titan of George Lucas' Star Wars in person. Lucky us. :)... So, how the heck did you come up with the idea to marry the two? Did you just see potential dollar signs dancing in front of your eyes with the realization that you are taking the world's two most popular franchises and meshing them into one? This is like real-life literary Frankenstein.


ID: There was a lot of serendipity involved.  I watched the Star Wars trilogy with some friends from high school in April last year, then read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (published by Quirk Books), and right after that went to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival with my family.  It was this mix of things swirling around in my subconscious -- mashup-literature, Star Wars and Shakespeare -- that put the idea in my head.  And of course I knew I was picking two hugely popular cultural icons, so though I can't claim to have had visions of dollar signs, I will admit to thinking there was a good chance it would be successful.

3. Would you say that conjuring up Shakespeare and Han Solo was more inspirational or frightening? Big shoes to fill. Did you ever find yourself crying, "I'm not worthy! I'm not worthy!"

ID: There were definitely moments when I thought to myself, "I'm having a hard enough time even getting this line into iambic pentameter, to say nothing of being clever or witty or metaphorical or whatever."  I really have no idea how Shakespeare did it.  And I knew I would be watched closely by every Star Wars fan everywhere for how I handled a few scenes.  So far, so good.  I haven't been accosted on the street.  Yet.

4. This is your first book. (Congrats!!) What surprised you about the publishing industry?
ID: First of all I have to admit to incredible luck in getting this book published.  I emailed Quirk Books with the idea, they responded and said they would read a sample, I wrote a sample, and they wrote back and said, essentially, "let's do it."  All just under a year ago today.  It's not supposed to happen like that, and I don't take my luck for granted.  The big surprises along the way are little things I've learned -- things like how complex a literary contract can be, how early a final manuscript is needed to hit a certain publication date, and just how many copies a book sells when it becomes a bestseller (fewer than you probably think).  I was surprised on all three of those, and others.
5. What advice would you have to unpublished writers?

ID: Keep trying.  Don't be afraid to email people out of the blue with your samples.  Find an agent.  Do it because it gives you joy, not because you think it will be a career.

6. What's your next project? Walt Whitman's Avatar? Herman Melville's Titanic? George Carlin's Simpsons? F. Scott Fitzgerald's ET?

ID: I love the idea of Herman Melville's Titanic -- wish I'd thought of that one.  It would have 400 pages of intense details about glacial formations, the Atlantic ocean and the ship itself, and then 25 pages of Kate and Leo's romance.  For my next project, I think it would be great fun to do the rest of the original Star Wars trilogy -- there's more I can do there, I think.  I'm developing a children's book with a friend of mine, too.  So we'll see!  I will say that for the last several months, knowing my first book was coming out, I have felt an intense pressure to figure out what the next one will be.

7. Who are your literary heroes? (Clearly, we already know one of them.)

ID: Alphabetically -- since I wouldn't dare rank them -- and ranging from long dead to still writing: Jane Austen, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, David James Duncan, Tana French, Theodor Geisel (better known as Dr. Seuss), Alex Haley, Ann-Marie MacDonald, Herman Melville, Sena Jeter Naslund, William Shakespeare (indeed!), Zadie Smith.

8. Please share your bio in iambic pentameter.





ID:

Meet Ian Doescher, now age thirty-six,
Who all his life has loved the Star Wars flicks.
In eighth grade he discovered Startford's Bard,
And for that gentle poet he fell hard.
A Portland native, Ian travelled east,
And spent twelve years in higher ed (at least!).
Now back in Portland, he enjoys his life
With two great kids and world's most awesome wife.
This William Shakespeare's Star Wars, his first book,
Is something that he hopes you'll give a look!


9. Please tell me why everyone should buy your book in iambic pentameter.



ID:  
‘Tis said that William Shakespeare, all his days,
Hath written only thirty-seven plays.
‘Tis said, as well, George Lucas never slipp’d
To Stratford, so to write his famous script.
But what if those two souls had been as one,
Their works combin’d as not to be outdone?
What if, long time ago in days of yore,
The bard hath written Star Wars, Ep’sode Four?
What if A New Hope were young Shakespeare’s work?
Would not such an event be thought a quirk—
An accident of time and history,
And sign of a galactic mystery?
Good souls, to thee my news I do rehearse:
Of th’Star Wars story penn’d in Shakespeare’s verse.
Hast thou e’er wondered how Luke’s thoughts did run,
When he saw Tatooine’s great double sun?
Or hast thou heard the dirge that Leia sang
Once Alderaan hath gone out with a bang?
How did the knave Han Solo understand
His transformation unto hero grand?
Upon these answers thou shalt have thy looks
In William Shakespeare’s Star Wars from Quirk Books.
The book is at a bookstore near to thee,
And always, friends, the Force with you shall be.



10. Any last words for William Shakespeare, George Lucas or Quirk Books?
ID: Thank you, thank you, and thank you.  All three have have been huge and very kind to me (in different ways) throughout this process.

BONUS Question - This interview is coming out just after you learned your book debuted at #12 on the New York Times Hardcover Fiction best selling list. WOW! Share your giddy joy with the world in a sentence.

ID: The news about the Times list has been unbelievable for me because I'm just a normal guy who had an idea; I am beyond honored to be on the list.  (I cheated and separated two sentences by a semicolon!)

Ian - Thanks for taking this interview. May The (Sales) Force Be With You!

And for all you writercizers out there, may this interview inspire a writercize! Pick an author and match it to a seemingly unrelated film, song or play. See what magic transpires! I always love to see your work, so please share as you are willing in the comments section!

Comments welcome directed at Ian or in response to the suggested writercize.

5.31.2013

Happy Dance Time! Here @ Writercize

Hello all! I'm just stopping in for a quick little happy dance.

Fun things happening in my little writing world - I got a couple of emails last week about books I get to preview and share with all of you (HOORAY!), so once I have them in hand I will ferociously read through them and share. One will even be a give-away! (Even bigger hooray for you!!)

Keep your eyes open for those reviews coming soon. Of course they will be attached to a couple of fantastic writercizes so that you can get the writing juices flowing along with your reader curiosity.

In case you might be interested in an Amazon order without the review or writercize, they are:


and

William Shakespeare's Star Wars by Ian Doescher (available July 2, open to pre-orders)

I love when fun opportunities fall into my lap!

Now, the BIGGEST reason for a happy dance?!

I am delving full throttle ahead deep into my Work In Progress, a creative non-fiction book I am co-authoring with Sarah Chapman, the founder of Build a Better Benin, a nonprofit to improve education and health practices in West Africa. 

I am ridiculously excited, over-the-moon, happy, happy, happy about this book. We are still in the early stages, but the manuscript is really starting to take shape and I'm feeling good about it. After much hemming and hawing about the first chapter, I had some divine inspiration a couple of nights ago and sat down to pour my soul into it, and it's looking good.

I don't want to give too much away yet, since it is still so early and we don't have representation yet, but ... it's fun. Sarah calls it the humorous humanitarian, which is pretty spot-on. We're aiming for the full range of emotions from belly laughs to crocodile tears and everything in between recounting her story of dropping everything to live alone, in the bush, in a third-world country.

She's spent the past several months sharing her incredible journey with me, and now it's time to translate it into a work of art. Huge feeling of contentment watching the story develop.

I'll continue to check in here as writercizes strike, and to share those book reviews with you, but in the meantime, please to join in the happy dance with me! Cha-cha-cha!

4.30.2013

Zee End! - writercize #AtoZChallenge 3.26

Congratulations to all of the A to Z Challenge participants this year! It was a real treat to visit your blogs and get to know you. Nice to reconnect with "old" bloggers and meet several newbies!

I have a couple of posts to fill in towards the end of the alphabet, but overall it was a great month of blogging here at writercize. :)

Thank you to Arlee Bird for including me on your team and again, congrats to all of the wonderful bloggers who kept up your posts and shared your voice this month!!

4.22.2013

Save the Earth - writercize #AtoZChallenge 3.19


Please note: writercize (a portmanteau of write and exercise with a z for ... a twist? fun? street cred?) is participating in the A to Z Challenge through the month of April with alphabetical writing prompts. I'm skipping the stories behind the prompts so you can spend more time practicing and less time reading! Please participate, and enjoy!

writercize: It's Earth Day!

Create a public service announcment, children's story with a moral, song or poem about what we can do to help our beautiful planet.

Earth Day is always a favorite inspiration here at writercize. Could be my Pacific Northwest roots, my childhood love of literally hugging every tree on walks around the block or just my feeling of responsibility for my children and the seventh generation.

For previous Earth Day writercizes, visit writercize 32 and writercize 185 185.
I love reading your comments and especially your writercize results, so please, drop me a line to let me know if this worked for you! Better yet, share your attempt with the world in your comment!
And, if you let me know you stopped by, I will be sure to pay you a visit as soon as I am able!

Click "read more" for writercizer sample response - a tale based on a true event from my childhood.

4.20.2013

Round-About - writercize #AtoZChallenge 3.18

Please note: writercize (a portmanteau of write and exercise with a z for ... a twist? fun? street cred?) is participating in the A to Z Challenge through the month of April with alphabetical writing prompts. I'm skipping the stories behind the prompts so you can spend more time practicing and less time reading! Please participate, and enjoy!

writercize: Bring your writing full circle. Begin and end a story or poem with the same word.

Pick one of the following or use your own:

  • reindeer
  • ladybird
  • memory
  • angel
  • queen
  • crowd 
  • crutch
  • mat

(Today's words come from Creativity Games' random word generator.)


I love reading your comments and especially your writercize results, so please, drop me a line to let me know if this worked for you! Better yet, share your attempt with the world in your comment!
 
And, if you let me know you stopped by, I will be sure to pay you a visit as soon as I am able!

Click "read more" for writercizer sample response.

4.19.2013

Quickly, Quickly - writercize #AtoZChallenge 3.17

Please note: writercize (a portmanteau of write and exercise with a z for ... a twist? fun? street cred?) is participating in the A to Z Challenge through the month of April with alphabetical writing prompts. I'm skipping the stories behind the prompts so you can spend more time practicing and less time reading! Please participate, and enjoy!

writercize: Set a timer for two minutes and free write as quickly as you can. No punctuation, grammar, rules, story. 

This is a great way to free the mind and release your brain to prepare for a day of writing or business ... or to wind down after a long day and transition back into home life.

I love reading your comments and especially your writercize results, so please, drop me a line to let me know if this worked for you! Better yet, share your attempt with the world in your comment!
 
And, if you let me know you stopped by, I will be sure to pay you a visit as soon as I am able!

Click "read more" for writercizer sample response.

4.18.2013

Pause & Prayer - writercize #AtoZChallenge 3.16

I planned to write about portmanteaus for the letter P, as I wander from A through Z this month in what I've dubbed the blogger's marathon. 26 letters in 26 days.

I had the title of the post all set, a writercize and sample ready to go.

But, somehow, it just feels more appropriate to take pause and offer a prayer for what happened at the real Boston marathon on Monday. 

I lived in Boston as a young adult after college. I met my husband in Boston, and made some very close friends. I do not personally know anyone who was injured. The incident is distant enough that I have not been directly affected, but close enough that I do have a few friends who are seeking prayers for their immediate friends and family members. Two who lost limbs. Two others in the hospital with shards and burns. The world is small. Out of approximately 200 people who were hurt, I am connected within one person to at least four of them. I live in Los Angeles now, about as far as one can get from Boston and still live within the continental United States, but I am reminded how small and interconnected this web of life is.

Please, join me to pause in a brief moment of prayer and reflection for the lives lost and changed by this event.

Boston skyline - courtesy www.morguefile.com - free photo sharing

If you care to share your thoughts and prayers, please, feel free to do so in the comments below.

In peace.

4.17.2013

Opening - writercize #AtoZChallenge 3.15

Hello writercizers! More than half-way through A to Z now. How's it going? Are you meeting lots of great new bloggers and filling your blog with some good content in the meantime?

Today, I am doing a rerun of a previous guest post by Brianna R. - all about opening sentences. Good luck, and enjoy! ~Alana

Good morning, Writercizers! Are you ready to work out those writing muscles? 
Wait, I can’t hear you…
Alright! That’s the spirit! Let’s get moving!
First let’s stretch a bit – crack your knuckles, wiggle those fingers and take a few deep breaths! Now we’re ready to begin.
As writers we all know how important the first sentence of our story is. It’s the hook that’s either going to capture the attention of editors and readers or bore them to tears. No pressure, right?

Not if we are regularly working out our writing muscles! Here’s an exercise focusing on writing strong first sentences:

writercize: Read the back-cover blurb of a book and then write an opening sentence. 
The beauty of this exercise is that not only does it allow you to practice writing an attention-grabbing opening sentence; it could also be a stepping stone to an original book of your own!

You are free to use whatever back-cover book blurb you like or use the three samples from the genres of science fiction, mystery and romance below. Write a first sentence for all three, or just one, and share it in the comments section.
Science Fiction
On the North Pole of Pluto there stands an enigma: a huge circle of standing blocks of ice, built on the pattern of Earth’s Stonehenge –but ten times the size, standing alone at the farthest reach of the Solar System. What is it? Who came there to build it?
The secret lies, perhaps, in the chaotic decades of the Martian Revolution, in the lost memories of those who have lived for centuries.
~Icehenge by Kim Stanley Robinson, 1984, ISBN 0-312-86609-7~
Mystery
Not much happens in Contrary, West Virginia –a sleepy town with failing coal mines, a few old moonshine stills, and an urgent need for revenue. A federal grant for a nonexistent bus system seemed just the ticket…if only the government auditor, sent to look things over, hadn’t drunk to much white lightening. And ended up dead.
Now his successor, Owen Allison, has come down from D.C. to check out the situation. Disgruntled with his life inside the Beltway, Owen is willing to give Contrary’s officials the benefit of the doubt –and himself some time to romance Mary Beth, the alluring town controller. He soon feels like seventeen different kinds of fool. Because something has long been fermenting in Contrary besides corn mash. Another body has been found. And Owen may be next…unless he uncovers the big secrets hidden in the hearts of a small Appalachian town.
~The Contrary Blues by John Billheimer, 1998, ISBN 0-440-23504-9~
Romance
Innocence was the only word to describe Mary Frances Murphy. Expelled from a convent, her only sin was desire: For intimacy. For experience. For true carnal knowledge. Once forbidden, these things were now within her reach –as she searched for her sister’s killer in a world of staged seduction, virtual passion, and fantasy made flesh. But Mary Frances had never even been touched by a man…let alone a man like Webb Calderon. A man whose erotic finesse was as vast –and dangerous—as his empire. A man who could devour her innocence…and kill her with pleasure.
~ Innocence by Suzanne Forster, 1997 ISBN 0-425-15663-X~
Click "read more" for Brianna's sample response:

4.16.2013

Next Word - writercize #AtoZChallenge 3.14

Please note: writercize (a portmanteau of write and exercise with a z for ... a twist? fun? street cred?) is participating in the A to Z Challenge through the month of April with alphabetical writing prompts. I'm skipping the stories behind the prompts so you can spend more time practicing and less time reading! Please participate, and enjoy!

writercize: Next word is always a favorite around writercize. It is a free-association game where I give you a word, and you write the first thing that comes to mind, then the first thing that new word inspires, and so on and so forth until you are about five words in.

So, if I said nail, you might go with:

nail - polish - shoe - sock - puppet.

It's a very simple game to play to loosen up your brain cells. If you are feeling particularly brave, you may want to use the words to inspire a story, but don't feel bad leaving the words alone. It's like improv class for actors - just the exercise of instant results through free association helps get your mind in writing shape!

Here are five words for you to begin with. When you are done, you should have about 25 words - the five I gave you and four more free associated from each.

  • rain
  • bandage
  • India
  • nun
  • creature
(Today's words come from Creativity Games' random word generator.)

I love reading your comments and especially your writercize results, so please, drop me a line to let me know if this worked for you! Better yet, share your attempt with the world in your comment!
 
And, if you let me know you stopped by, I will be sure to pay you a visit as soon as I am able!

Click "read more" for writercizer sample response. 


4.13.2013

Look. Write. - writercize #AtoZChallenge 3.12

Please note: writercize (a portmanteau of write and exercise with a z for ... a twist? fun? street cred?) is participating in the A to Z Challenge through the month of April with alphabetical writing prompts. I'm skipping the stories behind the prompts so you can spend more time practicing and less time reading! Please participate, and enjoy!

writercize: Use any one or combination of the photos below to inspire a caption, story or poem.









I love reading your comments and especially your writercize results, so please, drop me a line to let me know if this worked for you! Better yet, share your attempt with the world in your comment!

And, if you let me know you stopped by, I will be sure to pay you a visit as soon as I am able!

Skipping the writercizer sample response this round since these are all my photos and I'd rather hear what you have to say about them. :)

4.12.2013

Know Your Stuff - writercize #AtoZChallenge 3.11

Please note: writercize (a portmanteau of write and exercise with a z for ... a twist? fun? street cred?) is participating in the A to Z Challenge through the month of April with alphabetical writing prompts. I'm skipping the stories behind the prompts so you can spend more time practicing and less time reading! Please participate, and enjoy!

writercize: Take the day off writing and do some research instead. Pick a topic that interests you, but you do not know much about, and research it. 

If you are currently working on a novel or non-fiction work, look for a way to re-energize it with additional knowledge on the subject.






(Catch me repeating myself again? Yep, still in Mexico, lazing around on a hammock and scheduling this post to recycle last year's A to Z Challenge K entry - Knowledge. Think of it as being extra kind to the earth this April with an attempt to reduce, reuse and recycle.

For more background on the writercize from last year, follow this link. Tomorrow, I'll still be away, but the writercize is new, and I'll be back home Monday refreshed and ready for some new challenges!)

I love reading your comments and especially your writercize results, so please, drop me a line to let me know if this worked for you! Better yet, share your attempt with the world in your comment!

And, if you let me know you stopped by, I will be sure to pay you a visit as soon as I am able!

No writercizer sample response on a research day!

4.11.2013

Jokester - writercize #AtoZChallenge 3.10

Please note: writercize (a portmanteau of write and exercise with a z for ... a twist? fun? street cred?) is participating in the A to Z Challenge through the month of April with alphabetical writing prompts. I'm skipping the stories behind the prompts so you can spend more time practicing and less time reading! Please participate, and enjoy!

writercize: Tell me a joke (or two or three). Please be original. 

Extra bonus happy dance points if I laugh out loud!

(Followed me for a while? Yes, I admit - I am replaying a 2012 A to Z Challenge entry (Joking Around) - see the original for more jokes and background about my sheer admiration for comic writers.)

I love reading your comments and especially your writercize results, so please, drop me a line to let me know if this worked for you! Better yet, share your attempt with the world in your comment!


And, if you let me know you stopped by, I will be sure to pay you a visit as soon as I am able!

Click "read more" for writercizer sample response.

4.10.2013

Influence - writercize #AtoZChallenge 3.9

Please note: writercize (a portmanteau of write and exercise with a z for ... a twist? fun? street cred?) is participating in the A to Z Challenge through the month of April with alphabetical writing prompts. I'm skipping the stories behind the prompts so you can spend more time practicing and less time reading! Please participate, and enjoy!

writercize: Put on your sales hat or pull out the politician in you and convince me of something. Make an impassioned argument so strong that I at least want to google whatever you are telling me about.

Influence me.


I love reading your comments and especially your writercize results, so please, drop me a line to let me know if this worked for you! Better yet, share your attempt with the world in your comment!


And, if you let me know you stopped by, I will be sure to pay you a visit as soon as I am able!

Click "read more" for writercizer sample response about why you should sign up for the A to Z Challenge

4.09.2013

How in the World? - writercize #AtoZChallenge 3.8

Please note: writercize (a portmanteau of write and exercise with a z for ... a twist? fun? street cred?) is participating in the A to Z Challenge through the month of April with alphabetical writing prompts. I'm skipping the stories behind the prompts so you can spend more time practicing and less time reading! Please participate, and enjoy!

writercize: Write about how something happens, or how something works.

You may pick any topic in the world (or beyond!), but here are a few questions to get you started:

  • How do clouds form?
  • How do birds fly?
  • How do seeds turn to plants?
  • How does the tooth fairy know when to visit?
  • How do animals know how to swim?

Fiction and nonfiction writers alike can benefit from an exercise to uncover how things work. 

Fiction writers may tap into mythology or creative writing to come up with a fictional account of how real things happen, or create a believable answer to a false premise. 

Nonfiction writers can brush up on research as well as writing clarity and organization skills.
 
I love reading your comments and especially your writercize results, so please, drop me a line to let me know if this worked for you! Better yet, share your attempt with the world in your comment! 

Click "read more" for writercizer (fictional) sample response. 

4.08.2013

Goal Matrix - writercize #AtoZChallenge 3.7

Please note: writercize (a portmanteau of write and exercise with a z for ... a twist? fun? street cred?) is participating in the A to Z Challenge through the month of April with alphabetical writing prompts. I'm skipping the stories behind the prompts so you can spend more time practicing and less time reading! Please participate, and enjoy!

writercize: It's list time! Last year, my G post addressed setting some long-term writing goals. This year, I'm going a bit more general with my goal setting. 

Inspired by a friend, I have been working on my 35 x 35 goal matrix - 35 things I would like to accomplish by my 35th birthday. Some are old, some are new ... some are borrowed and none are blue? I have a few to go, and am open to ideas if you want to throw a few my way!

The idea is to look ahead to your next birthday that is divisible by 5 and match the age with the same number of things you'd like to accomplish between now and then. (i.e. 25 x 25, 40 x 40 --- maybe after 50 you get to cut five off each time, so it becomes 60 x 40? Feel free to make the rules fit your!)

This is a mix of tiny accomplishments and really big goals. One friend of mine said that it was the perfect way to set goals because they were like a bucket list that you get to enjoy in the short-term and don't have to ... ummmm ... pass to greener pastures after.
 
I love reading your comments and especially your writercize results, so please, drop me a line to let me know if this worked for you! Better yet, share your attempt with the world in your comment! 

Click "read more" for writercizer's current 28 x 35 list. 

4.06.2013

Five Words - writercize #AtoZChallenge 3.6

Please note: writercize (a portmanteau of write and exercise with a z for ... a twist? fun? street cred?) is participating in the A to Z Challenge through the month of April with alphabetical writing prompts. I'm skipping the stories behind the prompts so you can spend more time practicing and less time reading! Please participate, and enjoy!

writercize: Always a favorite on this site, I give you five words to use however you wish. Poem, flash fiction, sales pitch - let your imagination be your guide. It is always fascinating to see how each person interprets five words differently. Today's words come from Creativity Games' random word generator.

  • profit
  • mat
  • beggar
  • mirror 
  • nose

I love reading your comments and especially your writercize results, so please, drop me a line to let me know if this worked for you! Better yet, share your attempt with the world in your comment! 

Click "read more" for writercizer sample response. 

4.05.2013

Elevator Pitch - writercize #AtoZChallenge 3.5

Please note: writercize (a portmanteau of write and exercise with a z for ... a twist? fun? street cred?) is participating in the A to Z Challenge through the month of April with alphabetical writing prompts. I'm skipping the stories behind the prompts so you can spend more time practicing and less time reading! Please participate, and enjoy!

writercize: Write an "elevator pitch" - a short summary of your story that would take no longer than 30-60 seconds to read or tell. Make a person want to read your story in the time it takes to ride an elevator a few stories.

If you are not writing your own manuscript, try to write the elevator pitch for a favorite fairy tale, book or movie. If you are writing your own manuscript, congratulations - after completing this exercise successfully you are well on your way to a good query letter!

Why try this writing prompt? 

When telling an agent, publisher, potential buyer about your story, brevity and clarity are two of the most important things to keep in mind as you unravel a tale of intrigue and substance. 

If you're not sure what I'm talking about, turn a book over and read the book blurb. Or pick up a DVD and read how a writer has summarized a two hour movie into one paragraph. Does it relate the basic elements of the story? Does it give you a glimpse into the genre? Does it make you want to read the book or watch the movie? The writer has done his/her job.


I love reading your comments and especially your writercize results, so please, drop me a line to let me know if this worked for you! Better yet, share your attempt with the world in your comment! 

Click "read more" for writercizer sample response about Cinderella. Far from perfection, it is proof that summarizing a timeless tale in a paragraph takes a great deal of time, effort and persistence. Practice, practice, practice!

4.04.2013

Dialogue - writercize #AtoZChallenge 3.4

Please note: writercize (a portmanteau of write and exercise with a z for ... a twist? fun? street cred?) is participating in the A to Z Challenge through the month of April with alphabetical writing prompts. I'm skipping the stories behind the prompts so you can spend more time practicing and less time reading! Please participate, and enjoy!

writercize: Pick one of the following pairs (or create your own), and create a dialogue between them.

  • Bride and Maid of Honor - 10 minutes before wedding
  • Homecoming King and Chess Club President - 25th HS class reunion
  • Outgoing and Incoming First Lady - White House moving day
  • Young Child and Grandparent - walking around the block
  • Priest and Rabbi - at a Dalai Lama speech
The locations are mere suggestions. Love a pair, hate the place? Pick your own! Share what works for you!

When writing dialogue, pay close attention to the way people around you speak. Chances are, they are not grammatically proper. Don't force them to be. Use regional dialects, malapropisms, generational verbiage, shortcuts. 

Speak your characters' dialogue aloud to make sure it sounds authentic. Feel free to say "gonna" and "ain't" if that's how your character would speak.

Be aware - authentic dialogue should not match the voice or grammar of the rest of your story. (Unless told in the first person by one of the characters - but even then, the spoken word should be unique compared to the character's inner monologue.)

I love reading your comments and especially your writercize results, so please, drop me a line to let me know if this worked for you! Better yet, share your attempt with the world in your comment! 

Click "read more" for writercizer sample response to a young child and grandmother. 

4.03.2013

Clues - writercize #AtoZChallenge 3.3

Please note: writercize (a portmanteau of write and exercise with a z for ... a twist? fun? street cred?) is participating in the A to Z Challenge through the month of April with alphabetical writing prompts. I'm skipping the stories behind the prompts so you can spend more time practicing and less time reading! Please participate, and enjoy!

writercize: To improve your descriptive skills, practice viewing objects in a room not by their title, but what they are. 
photo credit: www.morguefile.com


Do not look at a roll of tape and call it a roll of tape - call it a sticky ribbon wound in a circle. Don't look at a pen and call it a pen - call it a cylinder of ink. 

For today's writercize, compose a clue about an object in your room, and see if we can guess what it is!

I love reading your comments and especially your writercize results, so please, drop me a line to let me know if this worked for you! Better yet, share your attempt with the world in your comment! 

Click "read more" for writercizer sample response. 

Note - It is a true story about being lost in translation - based on a conversation that occurred during my first week studying abroad in Italy, in a city where very little English is spoken, after only six months of studying Italian. I figured I could challenge myself by not referring to a dictionary, and instead use the word I knew to describe whatever I wanted to say. At time, it could be quite ... interesting. On one occasion, I thought I was asking for the bill, and apparently asked for a pot of sake instead. The question below took place in a drugstore.

4.02.2013

Boomerang: A Mirrored Beginning and Ending - writercize #AtoZChallenge 3.2

Please note: writercize (a portmanteau of write and exercise with a z for ... a twist? fun? street cred?) is participating in the A to Z Challenge through the month of April with alphabetical writing prompts. I'm skipping the stories behind the prompts so you can spend more time practicing and less time reading! Please participate, and enjoy!

writercize: Challenge yourself to a little creative flash fiction or poetry. Throw out the traditional concept of beginning, middle and end and merge beginning with end. How? 

Begin and end a sentence, paragraph, short story or poem with the same word. 

Hence, the boomerang - send out a single word and bring it back to round out the story or poem.

I love reading your comments and especially your writercize results, so please, drop me a line to let me know if this worked for you! Better yet, share it with the world. 

Click "read more" for writercizer sample response - a poem beginning and ending with moon.

4.01.2013

Author Bio - #AtoZChallenge 3.1

Please note: writercize (a portmanteau of write and exercise with a z for ... a twist? fun? street cred?) is participating in the A to Z Challenge through the month of April with alphabetical writing prompts. I'm skipping the stories behind the prompts so you can spend more time practicing and less time reading! Please participate, and enjoy!

writercize: Every writer or author needs a bio. An author may have multiple bios ranging in levels of personalization and professionalism for book covers, author websites, blogger profiles and query letters. Spend some time crafting your Author Bio today.

Need some great tips on what to include and what to edit? Read this how-to guide by Rachelle Gardner.

Personally, I would recommend something light-hearted for a blog, but drop the hobbies and the humor for anything else.

Click "read more" to see my (third person) author bio from my freelance website.

#AtoZChallenge Kicks Off TODAY! AND Happy Birthday .@ArleeBird !!

It's April, and that means ... A to Z Challenge month in the blogosphere! Don't know what the A to Z Challenge is? It is an opportunity to network with fellow bloggers and populate your blog with amazing content during a marathon (26 posts) through the alphabet during the month of April. Check it out here. If you read this before 10 p.m. EST on April 1, 2013, you can even sign up to join me! If you miss 2013,keep tabs on the sign-up sheet for next year!

And ... even if you don't sign up, there is one way for you to participate on my blog. I am recruiting for a G guest post. Topic can be on anything writing prompt related - you don't even need to focus it on G. The post will go live on April 8, so if you are interested, get in touch with me ASAP at alanagwrites(at)gmail(dot)com.

This is the 4th (or was it 5th by now??) year of the challenge, and my 3rd year participating. (Hence 3.1) The first year I slid through the finish line blogging, exhausted but very excited about the connections I made. However, I probably only visited about 150 blogs on the list. The second year I was smarter about posts - I prescheduled several - but I was waylaid midway with my own posts thanks to a few ill-timed vacations. But, I made it through closer to 700 blogs for a visit! This year, I'm hoping to meet that magical place where I make it through the month and do a great job at supporting the other blogs, while still performing well at my "day jobs" of parenting and journalism. 

I am honored to be a part of Arlee Bird's A to Z Challenge Ambassadors, so about 150-200 of you (depending on the final number of sign-ups) can consider me your personal cheerleader, as I visit and comment and cheer you on at least a couple of times this month. The rest of you may receive sporadic visits from me during the month (more if you comment on my posts!!) but I will try to make it through the entire list for at least one hello before 2013 is behind us.

Arlee Bird is the founder of A to Z Challenge, and a blog marketing guru. He handles 4 blogs of his own, and still makes it a point to visit several blogs a day and assemble a massive team of co-hosts and ambassadors for A to Z. He is particularly wonderful when it comes to encouraging new bloggers, so if you're new to the world of blogging, I highly recommend you pay Lee a visit at Tossing It Out. Comment on his page and let him know you are new, and I can almost guarantee he will reciprocate with a thoughtful visit within a couple of days!

Rumor has it, today is Lee's birthday! 

So, before we get on with today's writercize, would you join me in singing Happy Birthday to Lee, loud and clear?

Ahem .....

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU
HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEAR ARLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU

Thank you for offering support and inspiration 
to so many bloggers around the world!!

Now, you can check out my A post on the Author Bio separately.