Monday, September 28, 2009

Banned Book Week

September 26th - October 3rd celebrates Banned Book Week! The ABFFE has some excellent ideas to help support this year's festivities including readouts, discussion forums and ideas for fighting censorship.

I often forget the freedom we have to read what we want when we want to. Banning a book sounds so harsh and I can't believe it still happens year after year. This past years most challenged books include:

1. And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
Reasons: anti-ethnic, anti-family, homosexuality, religious viewpoint, and unsuited to age group

2. His Dark Materials trilogy, by Philip Pullman
Reasons: political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, and violence

3. TTYL; TTFN; L8R, G8R (series), by Lauren Myracle
Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group

4. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
Reasons: occult/satanism, religious viewpoint, and violence

5. Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
Reasons: occult/satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, and violence

6. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: drugs, homosexuality, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, suicide, and unsuited to age group

7. Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily von Ziegesar
Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group

8. Uncle Bobby's Wedding, by Sarah S. Brannen
Reasons: homosexuality and unsuited to age group

9. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group

10. Flashcards of My Life, by Charise Mericle Harper
Reasons: sexually explicit and unsuited to age group

I say let's here it for the rebels out there! The only book I've read on this past year's list was TTYL - which I admit I was surprised by the content, but I NEVER wanted the book to be banned. It seems anytime a book (especially a YA) comes too close to the truth, people freak out. Why is this?

For more information and statistics on Banned Books, visit the American Library Association's website Frequently challenged books of the 21st century.

It looks like I've got a lot of reading to do if I want to support all of the banned book author's out there!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Bragging Rights

I got an iPhone!!!! Yipee.

What, you saw the title of the post and thought I got an agent, or some other fabulous publishing news? Well, you're wrong. We can't all be as lucky as Mr. Rick Daley. BUT an iphone is pretty fan-flippin'-tastic. My darling hubby surprised me with it yesterday. Wednesday is our three year wedding anniversary and he thought I'd like a new phone. So sweet. He gets lots of brownie points.

AND then, we were at Best Buy looking at phone cases and I saw the kindle. Would you believe it, my hubby said to me, "I suppose that's what you want for Christmas?" My little heart just fluttered at the possibility. Although, I didn't answer right away. I'm torn over this one. To own a Kindle or to, that is my question. Any Kindle owners out there> I have to confess, the only Kindle owner I technically "know" is Nathan Bransford and we all know that he's a fanatic. So what do the rest of you guys think?

I think I'd have to test drive one before I could come to any solid conclusion, but I'm curious to know what ya'll think. I've also heard I can read books on my iPhone (what can't I do with this marvelous technology), but I haven't tried it yet. Maybe I'll start there...

Friday, September 18, 2009


USA Network is home to some of my favorite shows including: Monk, Psych and NCIS (past seasons). I'm often times awed by the writers on these shows, especially NCIS. To me, those guys and gals are my inspiration. Every episode is a mini mystery novel similar to the type I write (you know, not too violent, thematic with a humorous undertone).

I think it would be way cool to have a writing job like that, but to be honest, I'm not sure if I could be that creative EVERY single day.

Anyway, with that being said, these shows are often a source of inspiration for me. They make me reexamine characters and understand plot arcs and sequences in greater detail. Granted, a 40-minute television show isn't anywhere as complex as a 70k manuscript, but the general ideas remain the same - hook, story building, evidence, twist, ending. To me watching these shows sets the mood and puts my head in the game. Sure, there's other things that inspire me - reading a great book, dreams, the news, family - but nothing is as much fun and entertaining as USA Network.

So what about you? Who or what is the source of your inspiration?

YAY it's FRIDAY. Do the happy dance!!!!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Thursday Already?

Well that seems to be how my new schedule goes. Monday's nice, Tuesday and Wednesday are a blur, and then Thursday is nice and slow again, which I am VERY excited about. Today I am a writer! (As a opposed to a teacher or student...)

With that being said, how's everyone's writing goals coming along? I'll give you my update first. Ready? I haven't worked on them. BUT that is my goal for the next two days. I have about 70 pages left editing of BEAUTY SECRETS and then I'm shipping it off to MWA.

And seeing it's Thursday, I thought I'd add the Weekly Mrs. Roosevelt quote, and there are so many good ones to choose. But, I stumbled across this one and thought it could apply to many of us out there, so here it is:

We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face... we must do that which we think we cannot.

My first reflection on this is quote of course relates to writing and the courage it takes to become published. We face fear with every step, but become better individuals because of it. And how awesome is it when we accomplish something we didn't think possible? I think it's an amazing feeling.

But of course this quote could really apply to any goal. Nothing worth wanting in life comes easy. The trifecta of strength, courage and confidence is the winning equation to success. I should get that tattooed somewhere. Or maybe I'll just write in on a post-it note...

Monday, September 14, 2009

Good Morning! Good Mooorning!

Happy Monday everyone!

If your schedule is at all like mine, then you have too much to do and not enough time, which is why GOALS are so important. So this week, aside from my academic readings and writings, my goal is to finish revising BEAUTY SECRETS - thank you to the lovely Ms. Jessica Faust for her suggested revisions - and to send the MS out to MWA's writing contest. Yes, yes, you're right. The whole MWA writing submission thingy has been my goal for the last two weeks (or was it three?) BUT this week I will send it out!

Okay, so what about you? What are your writing goals this week?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Back To Work

Okay, enough with my professional conundrum. Life's an adventurous game and I'm ready to play.

What drew me to this conclusion? Well, I started to think about what defines me. It's more than being a writer. And then I thought, heck, if Nathan Bransford can be an agent extraordinaire and still find time to write a worthy for publication novel, then there's no reason why I can't make my schedule work.

Now, I'm not saying I'm going to stick with the whole PhD thing for good, just for now. As in this minute.

What I can guarantee is that I will stick with my writing. And planning on attending a conference or two. Oh, and starting another novel (more to come on this soon!).

As Eleanor Roosevelt said, "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of the dreams."

And I believe baby, and yes, it is beautiful.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Sending Out An SOS

Eleanor Roosevelt said “Do one thing every day that scares you.”

Well, I’m pretty sure I accomplished that task for the whole week yesterday. You see, yesterday was my first day at Wayne State – an urban university in downtown Detroit – where I’m pursuing my PhD. Not only is it a 90-mile commute one way, it’s also way out of my comfort zone. But even though I successfully navigated the traffic, crazy parking structures, and that maze that they call campus, I can’t help but feel sad. Sad because as my seminar homework piles up, and my teaching responsibilities add on, I feel like my writing career is slipping away, that I won’t have time to pursue the one career that I love.

Confession: I don’t really want my PhD. Not at all. I want to be a writer. I am a writer. I’ve been living my dream since January. It’s not a glamorous life (the deadlines, the stress!), but I LOVE it. The writing, the editing, the community of writers (YOU all!). I close my eyes and picture my future, and it’s not of text books and lectures, but of book signings and conferences. I love public speaking! Sign me up as a panelist any day.

So the question is, why am I getting my PhD? Well, security for one. Or make that the thought of security. If this whole writing thing doesn’t work out I still need a career and I HATE working 9-5. I refuse to do it. And unfortunately I’m not a trust fund baby or a trophy wife. I have to work for my money. I’m good at teaching, well entertaining at least, and like I said, public speaking is fun! But teaching isn’t what defines me.

What to do, what to do.

It would be so much easier to walk away from academia if I knew I had more of a chance in this industry. If I had an agent, networked, made connections with the industry. If my writing had more buzz, a larger following. If I won a few contests, earned some recognition. There’s so many ifs.

This time, like other times, when I’m mentally stressed, I send out an SOS. Generally it’s to my Guardian Angel (and yes, the POLICE lyrics play in my head every time). It’s worked out for me so far… I’m just looking for a little guidance. I know, I know – aren’t we all?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Writing Conferences - Let The Research Begin

After reading through last week's comments, I'm even more convinced that I'd like to go to a conference. But which one?!?

Seeing the current genre I'm trying to sell my work in is mystery, I decided to check out Mystery Writers of America's website to see what's coming up.

Here's what I found so far:

Bouchercon World Mystery Convention, October 15-18, Indianapolis, Indiana
In my quick review of the website, it seems like the convention is more geared toward writers interacting with fans, but it looks like a lot of fun (and not too scary). Plus the schedule is full of breakouts and all sorts of activities.

New England Crime Bake, Nov 13-15, Dedham, Mass
Featuring Sue Grafton, NECB is what I'd expect from a writing conference with manuscript critiques, private pitch sessions and "master classes." This one has some promise. Plus, I think I could drive there in 13 hours...

Okay, so next I checked out Sisters in Crime's website, which is where I found the Sinc Into Great Writing, which is a one day workshop before Bouchercon that features seminars by Donald Maass, Hallie Ephron, and Chris Roerden, and dinner with keynote speaker Nancy Pickard.

Hmmm.... I dunno, Bouchercon looks pretty cool, but then again NECR has Sue Grafton. And it's smaller. AND I've always wanted to visit New England.

What do you guys think? Have any of you been to these conferences? I'm not dead set on going to a mystery writing conference (get it, dead set), so any other suggestions would be awesome.

Happy Tuesday

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Writing Conferences - Whatcha Think?

Lately there's been some buzz in my brain regarding writing conferences. Jessica Faust blogged about "Her Most Interesting Conference Experiences" on Monday and since then, I've been really thinking about giving it a go. Only problem is I'm not sure where I want to go, or which one I should choose.

Have you ever been to a conference? How did you decide which one to go to? Everyone I talk to seems to have had really positive (albeit slightly terrifying) experiences. To me, the rewards pay for the anxiety - at least that's what I'm told.

Oh, Oh, and then I got another really exciting idea. A group of us should all pick the same conference and attend together!!!!! Wouldn't that be awesome. We could hangout talking shop (instead of typing it) while our spouses commiserate our writing obsessions over drinks. Doesn't that sound like good times?!?

Okay, totally being serious. I really want to go to a conference and I think it'd be fun if we got a group of people together. In truth, it makes the whole process seem a little less intimidating and oh so much fun. Whatcha think?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Independent Bookstores - Part 2

As I blogged about yesterday, I recently fell in love with an up north independent bookstore - Mclean and Eakin in Petoskey, MI. This new love affair got me thinking - what's really the difference between independent bookstores and national chain stores?

In completing my research (I'm an academic girl too, remember?), I stumbled upon the American Booksellers Association (ABA). According to ABA's website, the trade association has been advocating for and on behalf of independent bookstores for over 100 years. That sounds cool and all, but what does that mean?! Why do we need/want/love independent bookstores? Is it just the personal attention? The desire to thumb our noses at the Big Guys? Or is it more?

A couple more clicks led me to - a pretty cool website that gave me just the information I was looking for.

Here's what I pulled word-for-word from their website:

Why shop Indie?

When you shop at an independently owned business, your entire community benefits:

The Economy

* Spend $100 at a local and $68 of that stays in your community. Spend the same $100 at a national chain, and your community only sees $43.
* Local businesses create higher-paying jobs for our neighbors.
* More of your taxes are reinvested in your community--where they belong.

The Environment

* Buying local means less packaging, less transportation, and a smaller carbon footprint.
* Shopping in a local business district means less infrastructure, less maintenance, and more money to beautify your community.

The Community

* Local retailers are your friends and neighbors—support them and they’ll support you.
* Local businesses donate to charities at more than twice the rate of national chains.
* More independents means more choice, more diversity, and a truly unique community.

See? Now that's what I'm talking about. Support local business and celebrate creativity. Independent bookstores offer a win-win, book-buying, reading-loving situation. So, if you get the chance, stop in one TODAY! Because these little gems need YOU if they're going to keep on sparkling.