Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Catch the Wind

“To dream of a person you would like to be is to waste the person you are. Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” -–Mark Twain

Writers are alternately ecstatic and surly. When the pages fly by, we’re floating on a cloud of optimistic dreams. When the computer screen is blank, we snarl and curse anyone foolish enough to cross our path. Yet what we struggle with most is taking risks. Writing fiction is scary. Submitting that fiction is like stripping naked and exposing every flaw you’ve ever cringed over in the privacy of your own mirror.

Every writer has encountered, at least once, a person who snorted and with a haughty sneer proclaimed, “I could write a book if I wanted to.” Or the friends who try to hide their contempt behind a polite smile when they discover your literary aspirations lean more towards Bridget Jones than War and Peace. Who can blame us for nurturing our private fantasy of hitting the bestseller list and Proving Our Worth? Writing is a lonely business.

*rueful grin*

Taking risks leads to heart palpitations and makes writers prone to panic attacks. Yet risk is the foundation of art. There can be no progress without that terrifying leap into the unknown. There are no “write-by-numbers” book kits out there. You too can write Moby Dick! Just fill in the blanks and go. (Words included). Writing is a process of self-discovery as well as manual labor. Unless you push beyond the safe harbor, you’ll never tap into the deep water.

“Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart.” ~Erma Bombeck

Life’s short, eat dessert first. Grab a fork and dig into that story!

And speaking of sweet treats… Author Misty Fanderclai’s Halloween story, Witches Anonymous is particularly yummy. Grab a piece of chocolate (you know you deserve it!) and savor the exciting conclusion.

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

What Dreams May Come

“He felt that his whole life was some kind of dream and he sometimes wondered whose it was and whether they were enjoying it.” –Douglas Adams (from "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy").

Maybe it’s the philosopher in me (or the mad scientist) but I love stories that question reality. Heinlein’s Number of The Beast focused on four characters zipping around in a quantum-leap machine, jumping into alternate worlds that (they soon discover) were spawned by the stories of favorite authors. Great concept!

Even as a child, reading the delicious Oz books by L. Frank Baum, I wondered, casting a hopeful eye up towards the sky, if Glinda the Good would read about me in her Magic Book. How long need I wait before she, the Wonderful Wizard and Ozma, all gathered in front of the Magic Picture in the Emerald City Palace and zapped me straight to Oz?

Of course, when one grows up, one tosses out such fanciful notions. Right?

*cough*

*peeks out window up at sky*

Truth is, despite the many scientific studies and the pedantic droning of the Greatest Minds, nobody truly has a clue about the nature of reality. Not really. At one point in our history, the Greatest Minds believed the earth was flat, after all.

Sometimes I speculate that we can only *know* as much as we can imagine. And perhaps for that reason, the future of technology is as dependent on fiction writers as they are on scientists. Hah! Robert Heinlein “invented” over a hundred technological breakthroughs. All of which were contained neatly within his action-packed sci-fi stories. Another perspective might be that he Predicted these inventions. Yet that too opens up an intriguing doorway. What is prediction then? Is it tapping into a future reality or a future probability? Does the future spring from the present or… from the imagination?

One of my favorite realizations is this. The only moment that truly exists is the present. The past is just a memory, no matter how much irrefutable proof we think exists. The future is just a dream.

Decades ago, a brilliant author penned a short story called, “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale.” Phillip K. Dick’s tale featured a company who specialized in implanting memories. Don’t have the time, the stamina or the money for an actual trip to Mars? No problemo. For a fraction of the cost of an actual launch off the planet, one can be the proud owner of carefully created recollections, along with a smattering of “souvenirs” all of which will prove to you (or at least to your mind) that you actually took that Vacation of a Lifetime.

I won’t give away any of the cool twists, in case you ever get a chance to read the story, yet the implications are much greater than mere entertainment.

The only moment that exists is the one right now. Memories can be changed. The future is still but a dream.

Writers are a fortunate bunch. We get to create stories. Yet everyone shares that gift to a certain extent. Each step we take, each decision we make, we write the story of our life. In the present moment, of course. The rest is just a dream…

*wink*

How about you? Any times when you wondered just how “real” reality is? As a child did you peek into mirrors trying to *see* around the corners of that other world? Or perhaps wondered what civilizations might exist beyond the stars?

For me, my absolute favorite speculations revolve around dreams. I’m constantly intrigued by the possibilities and potential of a non-physical reality we can only visit while sleeping. I could spend hours discussing the ramifications and theories. What about you? Any aspect of the unknown that continues to fascinate? Any theories you care to share?

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Glint of Light

Special Motivation Post for Writers:

"Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass." ~~Anton Chekhov


The greatest gift a writer has is the opportunity to manifest "something out of nothing." Here we sit with a lovely blank canvas-page stretched front of us, the artist-authors ready to splash words in the air and conjure up a new world. A new world that is ours to create. Yet the truest challenge is not only to manifest the intricate plot, the dastardly twist, the unique characters that spout the clever lines we conjure up after way too much caffeine.

What truly takes patience, focus and never-ending persistence is the art of constructing a three-dimensional world. Is our heroine hiding in fear? Or does she crouch behind a dusty dresser, trying to contain her gasps, as a board six feet away squeaks from the weight of her pursuer?

We try to resist filling in the gaps when the reader doesn't need to know (or care really) that our leading lady has always had a hard time breathing ever since she was three years old and her mother (who was laid off from her job because of her anxiety over her husband's issues with his father) first rushed her to the ER and the doctor there told her it was likely that for the rest of her life she’d have breathing issues which would require her to carry at all times a prescription inhal—

No. That won’t work. Can’t move the plot forward by dropping in chunks of back-story. Hmmm… Maybe something where she drops the inhaler? Or… maybe she reaches for it and it's not there and so… she sees it? Maybe… inches from the pursuer's foot? YES! And just like that… we’re off!

It's not the easiest task, to see the "sculpture" and remove all the bits that don't belong. But oh-my-oh-my it's glorious when we finally do see. It's what we strive for, after all. Because… We Are Writers! Let's take a moment and remember the magic, the Art of Writing. Adjust your 'beret', swirl the verbs and nouns on your palette, and Write On!

Hope everyone has a great week of writing!
--Chiron O’Keefe

Friday, October 26, 2007

Monster Mash

It’s the last Friday before Halloween, and my mind is still veering towards spooky stories. Since I am a classic film buff (okay-more like a glutton), I’ve seen many of the original monster movies including the 1922 film Nosferatu (the original Dracula based on the Bram Stoker novel). As a child, I loved a good scare (what kid doesn’t?) but the early films were of a different mindset. Vampires, werewolves, Frankenstein’s Monster, the Mummy… The monsters were archetypes, often exploring the human psyche as much giving a good fright.

Consider Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. The idea for this novel reputedly came to him in a dream. The story is very black & white, the struggle between good and evil. Yet most people consider this a tale of one man’s struggle with the perils of alcoholism. The “monster” then is to be pitied as much as feared and reviled.

Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus, written by Mary Shelley in 1918 is as much as moralistic tale as a fright fest. You might remember in Greek Mythology that Prometheus, son of a Titan, stole the sacred fire from Zeus and gave it to the mortals, forever changing their destiny. Woven deep into the fabric of this story is a stern warning against the arrogance of man who might overstep his bounds. As the Industrial Revolution exploded, this concern could be considered very real. Should Man play God? How far will he go in his quest for immortality? Heady stuff indeed.

Even Dracula, while certainly a dastardly monster, generates a note of sympathy. To be “undead.” To never know the sweet release of mortality. He is driven too, by a compulsion he cannot control (yet another hint of addiction).

Dracula was written in 1897, yet while the tale is certainly the most well-known, Bram Stoker was not the originator of the “aristocratic vampire.” That distinction goes to John William Polidori who published The Vampyre on April 1, 1819. The Vampyre was written on that same fateful night Frankenstein’s Monster was born. The group which included Mary Wollstonecraft (later to be Shelley), Percy Shelley and Lord Byron, all competed to write the scariest tale during an eve fraught with gloomy weather.

I also remember The Wolfman, starring Lon Chaney, Jr. Here a man returns to his hometown, is attacked by a creature and is now cursed to be a monster. This is one of the only true classic horror flicks that did not come from a famous novel. Originally intended to be a vehicle for Boris Karloff, this film did manage to capture the “folklore” feel and generated a truly sympathetic monster.

Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night,
May become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright.

Now, after the spate of Hollywood horror flicks wound down, a new breed of chills hit the town. The monsters lost their archetypal feel and crossed from the obviously fictional to a sense of potential realism that chilled the bone. I remember one sign being the emergence of such movies as The Night of The Living Dead. Although clearly “unreal” the movie stood out because The Hero Is Killed At The End. There was no positive resolution. No “whew, we made it” happy ending. That, to me anyway, marked a turning point in cinematic history.

Since then the movies have gradually become more grisly, and the focus shifted from subtle psychological transformations to guts and gore. Yikes!

Now, as All Hallow’s Eve approaches, I can’t help but feel nostalgia for a certain lost era.

My favorite “monster” book had to be Frankenstein. Yet the movie I loved most was Dracula, followed by The Wolfman.

How about you? Any favorite monster classics?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Finding Your Voice.

When novelists began that dangerous and lonely trek up the Mountain Of Publishing Dreams, there’s one cry that echoes above the rest.

Find Your Voice.

Editors say it. Agents too. “I just fell in love with the author’s voice.”

Not to minimize the necessity of an original plot and decent writing, yet it’s the distinctive tone that sets the story above the rest. And some authors are so unique that you can literally hear the words as you read them.

A couple of weeks ago I read a Spenser novel by Robert B. Parker. Now, for those who don’t know it, a few years ago, the Television Powers That Be produced a few Spenser movies starring Joe Mantegna. Perfect. The casting was so ideal that now, when I read one of Parker’s novels, I *hear* Joe speaking the lines. Amazing.

The writing style is so unique to Parker that there can be no mistaking it. Casting such a role would be a joy, no doubt, simply because the Character is so finely drawn. Not by description. But by… voice.

When I was nineteen, and an eager and enthused musician-wannabe, a kind and talented performer took me under wing. He was quite the character. The songs he performed were almost exclusively written before 1940. That was his “thing.” I still love (and play) the song he taught me—Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out. This was my first introduction to the plaintive blues of Bessie Smith.

One thing I’ve never forgotten is the advice he gave me as a budding singer. He told me that it mattered not how well I sang. Only how distinctive my voice was. Now, obviously, he wasn’t encouraging me to sing out of tune! It’s a given that no matter what your profession, you strive to be the best you can be. Yet that’s not the key to success in the entertainment biz, he reminded me.

“When you listen to the radio, and Mick Jagger comes on, you recognize his voice instantly. It doesn’t matter what the song is, you know it’s him.”

And when an author finds her voice, you know it. Janet Evanovich is a bestselling author. USA Today, Publisher’s Weekly and NY Times. People love her books and buy them in droves. Why? Because there’s no mistaking her voice. It rings throughout every page. The plots, the characters, they all spring out in vivid Technicolor because of Her Voice.

What strikes me too as I mull this over, is how pertinent this value is in all of life. Not just in singing. Not just in writing. It’s a universal thing. We all strive to find our voice. Friends read your letters or laugh over your jokes or listen to your stories because that’s So You. Voice is how we express ourselves and it’s not limited to the words we choose or the tone we use. Our every gesture, our favorite expressions, the way we laugh or roll our eyes, the tilt of our head or the teasing grin, it’s all part of our unique expression.

And now I realize just how vital this quest is and how it’s not limited to writers at all. This may be our most important focus, this personal quest to discover our unique flavor.

So just for today, no matter how long your To Do list is, no matter how many neglected To Do items nag at your weary soul, take a moment and acknowledge this incredible phenomenon. You’ve invested years without ever realizing it. Your loved ones cherish those special things only you can do. Your unique sense of humor, your exceptional contribution to life, your beautiful, wonderful, truly amazing WAY.

No matter what you think you should do (and trust me, I know that’s a never-ending list). The One Thing that every soul must do is accomplished on a daily basis with rarely a speck of self-acknowledgement. So, let me say it for you… For us all…

Congratulations! You Found Your Voice.

*Smile*

For us writers, let’s keep the faith and remember that no matter how many books it takes, that voice will take hold. It’s inevitable. We are the voice, and the Voice Rules.

Speaking of Voice… Have you been following the fabulous Halloween Treat by Misty Fanderclai?

Her ongoing romantic comedy, Witches Anonymous,
is free for your reading pleasure! Yay! And she just posted Chapter Five. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Which Witch?

Halloween is a week away. I’ve set my DVR to record The Haunting (as mentioned, THE definitive ghost story). Ready for the chills to follow. Yet there’s more to the supernatural than the plaintive wails of the undead. After finishing the second story in Patricia Clapp’s book, Witches’ Children, my thoughts veer towards the proverbial weaver of spells.

Patricia’s story was particularly chilling. A fictional exploration of the gnarled roots of the Salem Witch trials. Spooky and more real than one would like to imagine. Most frightening is the realization that this mind-set can happen anywhere, anytime.

Still, I remember back when Casper was a friendly ghost and Wendy was a very good witch indeed. *smile* Made me wonder, which witch do you adore?

I have my hands-down favorite. Kim Novak in Bell, Book, & Candle. A 1959 classic film, also starring Jimmy Stewart as the hapless innocent Kim spells into love, with Jack Lemmon as her mischievous warlock brother. Included is Elsa Lanchester (the original Bride of Frankenstein) as a wonderfully dotty witch, and a rare and brilliant performance by Ernie Kovacs.

What I love about this movie would take pages and pages to describe so let me just say two things.

First… Kim Novak.

The epitome of coolness. In black Capri slacks and as sinewy as her Siamese familiar, she captures the essence of what I imagined a true witch to be. Somewhat eerie, beyond the human ken, yet heartbreakingly real in her discovery of true feelings.

Second… the myth. A true classic manages to tap into something deeper. The wellspring of consciousness, the primal pool of archetypes Jung explored. When someone taps into that collective consciousness, there’s a familiarity to the tale, even if it’s never yet been spoken.

“A true witch cannot shed a tear.”

With that simple statement, an image is born. An image that haunts and intrigues. So… a witch has all these fabulous powers. She can cast spells and live among humans manipulating them as she pleases. But… She Can’t Feel Emotions.

Rather like finding out you can eat whatever you want without gaining a pound. Only drawback? You no longer have taste buds.

Yikes!

To me, Kim Novak perfectly captured this archetype, which is forever stamped within my soul.

I still love the original Bewitched and her adorable nose twitch. But the hopefulness and tragedy of the witch who could never shed a tear haunts me to this day.

How about you? Any favorite witches cast a spell on you?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Angst Driven Hero

I’d been considering the Wounded Soul archetype recently after someone in my writing chapter mentioned the new vampire show, Moonlight.

A discussion of previous vampire anti-heroes ensued (most notably Spike and Angel from Buffy the Vampire Slayer). Personally, I love the new vamp in town, Mick St. John. He’s angst-driven without being a martyr. He’s not as black & white as the previous vamps noted—Spike deliciously demonic while Angel was the “strong, silent” type. More shading, less certainty. Yet he knows where he stands. He just doesn’t have to go on and on whining about it. Which leads to the crux of the matter.

Wounded Souls grate on me. At least for the most part. Not the torch-carrying souls (ala Jim Halpert in The Office). Being a romantic at heart, I have a special squishy-soft spot in my heart for them. *smile* No, I’m talking here about the Lethal Weapon type of hero who puts a gun to their head because they’re just SO gosh darn suicidal and they prey on our emotions with less remorse than an avowed bloodsucker ever could.

Now, this is just my own personal taste. Please forgive if I step on sacred ground (where our wounded soul is no doubt writhing in self-inflicted pain). It’s just I’ve had enough of guys who need to be rescued. I don’t want to be the “woman who chases the blues away.” Puh-lease! Everyone’s got problems, Bucko, time to step up and just deal.

Here’s a great example of a Wounded Soul that doesn't remind me of fingernails down a chalkboard. Michael Weston. The show is Burn Notice (a summer hit on the USA network) and while Michael has his own share of angst, he keeps it nicely contained beneath a cool exterior. Instead of whining about his woes or going off the charts with bizarre, over-the-top antics, he responds with a MacGyver-like efficiency. Sure, he has his issues, but there’s a time and a place, and this ain’t it.

I do get the appeal of the Wounded Puppy leading man. Yet, when the bullets are flying or the bomb’s a’ticking, I don’t want to kick around the meaning of life, love and impending doom. Give me a quick, decisive hero who leaps into action (and not with a self-destructive Kill Me Now recklessness either).

I like heroes who are smart and strong enough to win the battle and live to fight another day. And, lest you think that only damsels in distress dig a ready-to-jump-in-the-fray hero, the leading lady of Burn Notice, Fiona, is a kick-ass heroine who you don't want to cross. She’d kick a Mr. Whiney to the curb so fast you might as well slap a sticker on him: Garage Sale SpecialOne Angst-Driven Hero Crying in His Beer.

This is just me. As I said. Yet I know everyone has a favorite type, along with a cookie-cutter hero that makes them want to scream. Who do love? Who do you hate? What’s your perfect type of hero? Or heroine?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Donut Holes

Special Motivational Post for Writers...

"As you make your way through life, let this ever be your goal, keep your eye upon the doughnut and not upon the hole." –Author Unknown


Mmmhhh…. Donuts. *drool*

This is the kind of line I would love to produce. One with layers (or do I mean sprinkles?) of various meanings. It works especially well for writers. How often do we despair over the holes in our donuts… er… plots, or the missing frosting, when we should be focusing on the story? We can spend countless hours worrying over a fairly miniscule matter, while the book, along with our energy and motivation, languishes.

What to do when stuck with the Donut Hole Blues?

Everyone's different, so of course, we all must find the perfect method to shake the powdered sugar off our fingers and get back to typing. Some people use strong physical labor (vacuum the floors, wash the windows!), others take a walk or sit down with a pair of knitting needles. I have found some of my best plot solutions come to me while I'm lathering my hair in the shower!

There are other ideas too. Heck, Edison took catnaps throughout the day and credited that habit for some of his best ideas—in fact, Elias Howe reputedly resolved his dilemma of the sewing machine needle by sleeping: the solution came to him in a dream. Taking a walk can be good. The exercise gets your blood pumping, the endorphins pick up the spirits, and the movement can help shake that extra jelly doughnut off the hips.

When I'm stuck, I like to pull up what I call my Free Write document (one for every book). I put in the date and began typing through my problem. I work through possible solutions adding OR This...whenever I'm working through a crossroads. Hmmmmm…she could… blah-blah-blah OR she might... There's a certain freedom I feel there that I can't experience in my 'pristine' story. Some of my best writing has come from just letting myself cut loose. I plot there too, and then cut and paste to my ever-expanding outline.

What's absolutely essential is to keep writing. Whatever method works best for you, whichever tool helps to break through, the goal is to Keep Writing. No matter what. This isn't a lark or a dream, it's a Life-Long Habit. So make it a good one! Practice these words: "Sorry, but I have to get back to my writing." Why? Because you're a Writer, that's why!! Published, successful writers ALL have one thing in common. They write. They PRODUCE books. They don't wish them into existence. They write the damn things. One word at a time. And so will we!

Happy Monday, everyone! Have a fabulous and productive writing week...

Friday, October 19, 2007

Thrills & Chills

I love the changing seasons. The steady patter of rain dripping off my roof. The way my Japanese maple dances in the wind, scarlet leaves flashing against the stormy sky. The carpet of oak leaves that hints of winter’s approach. The sweet scent of autumn already bites at my nose and turns my spoken word into a puffy white cloud.

In front of our local market, pumpkins are displayed. Huge orange globes, as gnarly and misshapen as a boulder transformed by centuries of inclement weather. Within a couple of weeks, the town’s children will march down Main Street in our annual Halloween parade, displaying colorful costumes, waving their fists in triumphant glee. The fervor is upon us! All Hallow’s Eve approaches!

Perhaps it was a nod to the upcoming holiday that urged me to grab Patricia Clapp’s book featuring the story, Jane-Emily. Originally published in 1969 this is a classic ghost story set in the early 20th century. Reading this gem, I remembered how much I loved spooky stories before Fright Night flicks turned into slasher movies. I remember one of the best hair-raising short stories I ever read, The Lottery by Shirley Jackson. Yikes!

Of course, Shirley also penned the definitive ghost story, The Haunting of Hill House from which the movie of the same name sprang. Don’t be fooled, the remake is nothing like the original. Starring Claire Bloom and produced in 1963, the movie, The Haunting of Hill House is a masterpiece. A timeless tale with twists and turns that will fill your mind with questions, while making you leap out of your seat. I've seen it a dozen times or more and still jump. It's that good.

Another delightful ghost story that I adore, portrayed with brilliant simplicity, is the film The Uninvited. Produced in 1944 and starring Ray Milland and Ruth Hussey, this classic has enough chills and suspense to keep you biting your nails. Pop up some corn and grab a blanket!

Tonight, I’ll be starting the second story in Clapp’s book, Witches’ Children. And in the true spirit of October, perhaps I’ll pull out my Shirley Jackson collection after that. *rubs hands together* Keep the lights on, Sweetie! *delicious shiver*

For a special Halloween Treat, the wonderful author, Misty Fanderclai is posting her own ongoing Witchy story free online! A yummy romp of giggles and sweet kisses, check out Chapter Four of Witches Anonymous!

Not yet caught up? The beginning can be found Here.

What’s your preferred style of thrills and chills? Classic shivers like Shelley’s Frankenstein or more modern day shrieks? Do you like the campy parodies like Shaun of the Dead and Scary Movie or the more gruesome fare? Do you prefer psychological suspense or a bloodfest?

Do tell! Just... let me put on the lights first. *wink*

--Chiron O’Keefe

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Changing The Past

Last night, hubby and I watched Journeyman, a new show we’re becoming quite fond of. The premise is similar to Quantum Leap: An unwitting fellow is yanked out of time in order to make small but significant changes in the past.

Unlike the 90’s camp-fest (which I adored along with many others) this new show is darker and the producers seem to be striving for a semblance of realism. It’s like the distinction between early Star Trek and The Next Generation (remember the “tricorder” made from a saltshaker?). The premise is straightforward. The fellow involved has no choice in the matter, disappears without volition (which makes normal living impossible—WARNING: Don’t Let This Guy Drive!) and must struggle to maintain a routine (including wife, child and career) while being sent on these unexpected, involuntary missions.

As I said, we enjoy the show, and hope that it gets a chance to build an audience. I expect that over time it could develop a cult following. *crosses fingers*

The idea strikes a chord for most people, whether they like the show or not. Who hasn’t at one point in their lives (or, if you’re me, several times a day) wished they could go back and give a little nudge to something in the past? Movies like Back to The Future and even Groundhog Day all feed on that inner curiosity, that inevitable urge. What if…? What if…?

There’s an old movie I still watch, Peggy Sue got Married. This is a lovely, cheesy movie with Kathleen Turner playing a middle-aged woman who passes out at a reunion and awakens back in high school. She now has the chance to make significant changes. To choose alternative paths. The possibilities are overwhelming. What might you do differently? Nic Cage (the high school sweetheart and now ex-husband) is hilariously over the top and Jim Carrey makes an early appearance. If you’re looking for a giggle, give it a try.

Who hasn’t considered the idea of changing the past? Oh, sure, I get the whole “Beware The Ramifications” scenario. The “butterfly’s wings” theory that just one insignificant alteration can lead to complete world destruction. *yawn* I prefer the quantum approach. Many worlds to accommodate many choices.

Yet what I realized, as I was exploring this topic today, is how writers relish in the rare opportunity to fiddle with time. Maybe it’s not “real” (but then… “What is reality?” she intones in her best Rod Serling imitation), but we still we have the chance to conjure up alternate scenarios and construct a unique ending.

However, this gift is not limited to writers. Anyone, everyone can do it. When hanging with family and friends, why not give the “what if” game a tentative whirl?

What if NASA had established a Moon Base in the 70’s? What if the space program opened up to include tourists ten years later?

What if nutrition was topsy-turvy and marshmallows were like carrots and dieters could only gaze longingly at a salad bar?


What if aliens DID come to Roswell, but they didn’t crash, but landed successfully. What might they have taught us? How might technology have changed?

Everyone can play the What If game. Not only with world history but with our own personal choices as well. This is a gift that everyone shares. The power of imagination.

Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

We already Know what we Know. Let’s imagine what might BE.

Any takers on the What If game?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Procrastination

“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.”
---Abraham Lincoln

Whenever I consider the word “Procrastination”, my mind switches into music mode. The dulcet tones of Carly Simon ring inside my head. I have to stop myself from bursting into song: “Procrastinay-ay-shun is making me wait…”

Or is that “making me late”?

*grin*

Few people understand the depths of procrastination that a writer can sink to. We sneer at the lowly solitaire game, as we usually have at least a dozen Hoyle card games stored on our hard-drive and we’ve mastered them all. Along with Minesweeper, Parcheesi, Chinese Checkers, Checkers… I better stop now before I reach for the mouse and click on Backgammon.

Before you shake your head in disbelief let me add more. Besides email, phone calls, chat rooms, blog comments and message boards, writers have been known to take drastic measures to avoid the inevitable. Even… *gasp* Cleaning The Bathroom.

I know, I know. *shakes head* Sad but true.

It’s not laziness. Or stubbornness. Or even avoidance. No matter what it seems.

The actual writing--tap-tap-tapping the fingers on the keyboard--isn’t the issue. Most of us have the energy and the motivation. And if we were lazy, well… would we really volunteer to vacuum the house while keeping our eyes averted from the nagging computer screen? Hardly.

Writing, particularly fiction, requires us to push past something inside our brains. The experience is both painful and pleasurable. The pleasure for me is usually after I’ve written. Hah! Often times I’ll re-read the passage and feel a surge of satisfaction, a thrill, a YAHOO! When I’m actually pounding out the words though, it’s like reaching inside and yanking out my soul. Often as I compose each sentence, I’m convinced it’s crap. I’m always pleasantly surprised when I scan the words. Whew.

I realize too, that this avoidance isn’t exclusive to writers. We all have tasks we put off. Yet the resistance within our souls is often what hurts. The wall we’ve built inside. Maybe from childhood conditioning, maybe for our own mysterious reasons. Whatever the block is, we’ll go to great lengths to avoid confronting it, even scrubbing toilets (unless of course, scrubbing toilets IS what you avoid, then perhaps you'll pen a novel).

What I have found is this. THINKING about it, gives that stubborn block industrial strength. The process of Thinking About The Upcoming Task is like slathering concrete over a wall. Anticipating can be a direct path to procrastinating. The only way to move past the block is to plan a covert operation. Instead of considering the task at hand, just DO it. Say… “I’ll be (FILL IN THE BLANK HERE) at Blah-Blah o’clock.” When the time comes, move automatically. Don’t consider. Don’t think. Don’t anticipate. Just do.

Sometimes it’s the only way…

And for Carly… We’re on to you. We figured it out.

Now if I can only find a new song…

What about you? Any inventive ways you've discovered to procrastinate? Please share any juicy stories of avoidance. We can always use a few tips. *wink*

--Chiron O'Keefe

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Passion

“Is this not the true romantic feeling: not to desire to escape life, but to prevent life from escaping you?”
--Thomas Wolfe

In previous posts, we discussed the idea of escapism. So many people experience stories as a mini-vacation from life. Certainly, that’s how I’ve viewed them. A voyeuristic opportunity to live as someone else for a brief span of time. Yet as I read the above quote, I could feel the molecules in my brain churning.

True romance, whether in stories or life, is all about awakening and relishing the passion within your heart. In our daily grind, we often forget this. There seems little to cherish about the usual routine—turn off the alarm, make the coffee, shower, shave, brush your teeth. *yawn*

Part of what makes stories so enthralling is that the boring bits are all cut out. Through the eyes of our heroines and heroes, we can glimpse the magic that has escaped our notice. Perhaps encouraging us to open our eyes, as well as our hearts.

Stories are the greatest high. A truly amazing tale leaves you breathless, either with tears or fits of giggles, and the characters and plot linger like the taste of chocolate on the tongue. Yum.

One of my favorite birthday treats is to slip away to a fabulous movie followed by dinner out. Few things beat the thrill of discussing a movie with my hubby over a glass of wine. Part of that is the shared experience. You can read the same book, yet the sharing is not as easy. With movies or favorite television shows, the simultaneous bark of laughter, the derisive snort, the exchange of incredulous looks, all adds to a sense of intimacy. Sharing stories heightens the feeling of camaraderie between us.

Women understand this instinctively. We share stories all the time. It’s part of the bonding process that we are most comfortable with. Which is why we can get frustrated with the Mr. Tell Me What’s Wrong And I’ll Fix It. We’re telling a story here! Quit jumping to the last page!

Other people’s stories, whether fiction or gossip, are a way also of measuring our own life, our own decisions, our own… passion. And what I mean by passion relates directly to the opening quote. How involved are we within each moment? Do you savor each sip of tea or slam it back on the way out the door? Do you marvel over the little things or are the details washed away by the rush of activity? In our busy lives, it’s easy to be swamped by routine, which often leads to predictability, which translates into feeling as if our life is escaping. The stories help us to recapture that spirit. To rekindle our passion.

Truth is, while we all can benefit from the reminder to “stop and smell the roses,” stories are a lovely way to reconnect with the bits and pieces of ourselves that get brushed aside in our daily lives. If I re-watch Bridget Jones’ Diary (for like the millionth time), I’ll sigh and look fondly at my husband who loves me “just the way I am.” I’ll think to myself what a lucky woman I am. Not bad, eh?

The fictional heroes have the advantage over us (despite the nasty dilemmas we authors love to toss at them) simply because each story has a purpose. There is a beginning, a middle, and an end. Neatly contained. Our lives drift about like a blanket of autumn leaves scuttled by an anxious wind. So many details. So much energy. So little time.

Awakening our romantic spirit is how we prevent life from escaping.

While You Were Sleeping is one of my favorite movies. The idealistic dreamer who pins her romantic hopes on the perfect guy (she’s never actually met). I realized at one point that it wasn’t simply the romance between Lucy and Jack that touched me. Not even watching her awaken her heart enough to realize that her true love wasn’t the Perfect Guy but the one perfect for her. It was… the family. The lovely, normal family who blustered and jostled and giggled and hugged. Just like Lucy, I fell in love with Jack’s family.

Which movies or books do you return to time and again to rekindle your inner passion? And why? What spurs you on? Is it the characters, the plot, the theme?

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Open Vein

Each week I write a motivational essay for my RWAOnline Group. This is a reprint from a post in January:

"There's nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.” ~Walter Wellesley "Red" Smith

There's no getting around it. Writing is personal stuff. Though the people in your book are "just characters", it's your emotion, your heart that infuses the book with life. Heady stuff. Feelings are personal, private, intimate and here they are spilling all over the page, for everyone and their mother to read.

And speaking of mothers… We don't even want to think about when our mother or mother-in-law first reads that *a-hem* rather intimate scene *cough* where the heroine reaches down and… Oh MY!!

Yup… Personal stuff. It's deep, intimate, scary and oh-so-wonderful, this process of writing, that once we start we can't let go. Not now, not ever. It's not just that it's addictive (though it is), it's not just because it's fun (indubitably), it's certainly not simply because it's a thrill to accomplish the seeming impossible (which it is, without a doubt), it's because Writing is a Process of Self-Discovery.

With each page, each new scene, we somehow (without ever quite understanding how) learn just a little bit more about ourselves. As if the computer keys (or Bic pens) are somehow triggering a complicated code that unlocks the door to the greatest mystery within our hearts. The greatest beauty is knowing that as we discover the perfect formula that throws open that door, we cast a light on the heart of every reader who chances upon our novel as well.

Again, heady stuff…

So let's sally forth, the Intrepid Explorers, the Daring Adventurers, the oh-SO-Persistent Writers who will finish each and every book.

Remember… We Are WRITERS!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Quest for Integrity

Friday 10-12-07

“We tell ourselves stories in order to live.”--Joan Didion

I love this quote. While it certainly qualifies as a quote about writing, it speaks to much more. Everyone everywhere needs stories. We spin them in our minds, we daydream our way through monotonous activities, we conjure them up to provide a happy ending when life seems bleak.

We need stories just as we need heroes. Even more, we need to be the Hero of our own Story.

This urge drives us on. Sometimes with positive results. Sometimes not. If the need to be the “good guy”, the good daughter, the good wife, the good friend, means compromising your integrity or living an untruth, not so much.

What’s fabulous about stories, both writing and reading (or watching) is how the character’s words and actions are not limited to our own personal inhibitions. In fact, our favorites can speak volumes about the qualities we wish to embrace. Characters who reflect those qualities are especially close to our heart.

Here’s something I noticed… We like integrity. Now, what I mean by that is not Honesty, Honor, or Ethics. Obviously, in our daily existence, those three are pretty darn important. *smile* But let’s look at integrity. Integrity means being true to yourself.

In our stories, we want our heroes and our villains to be True To Themselves. If that integrity is compromised, we pull out of the story. Not deliberately, but suddenly something doesn’t click. Whatever the character does has to make sense because we as the reader or viewer demand that the character have integrity.

The challenge, in both stories and real life, is to weave in the need for evolution and transformation. That, too, is an integral part of life. Another way to look at is to see it as consistency. A few weeks back, hubby and I watched a movie that made us want to scream. Not only was it riddled with clich├ęs, there was no consistency. The “heroine” (and I use that term derisively) was supposed to be a top-notch reporter yet had the brains of cottage cheese. The “villain” who apparently was harboring a secret obsession had a shrine behind a closet door, yet left his computer running with a voice-over (her voice, naturally) so when she used the key (Tucked Over the Doorjamb! In New York City!!) to enter his apartment, she followed the sound to discover his Secret! *Gasp!*

*tears out hair*

We watched the whole thing, not believing our own stupidity because, let’s face it, the movie was consistently ludicrous from start to finish. D’oh!

What draws us to a story?

The hero’s quest for integrity. Usually our heroine/hero is not being true to her/his self. Because of this, there is an emptiness or a knot that needs to be untangled, although they rarely realize or acknowledge this. Throw in some unexpectedly challenging circumstances or an encounter with a person who pushes those buttons and you have the beginnings of a plot.

Why is this basic structure eternally appealing? Because it reflects life. We all are on a quest to discover our Self. To know ourselves. And we do encounter circumstances and people who challenge us to face the inconsistencies in our life.

We all want to be the hero of our own story. Within the pages of a book, or the scenes of a movie, we learn how other heroines discover their own True Self.

Have stories helped you to discover your own true self?

For me, the quest is about courage and embracing truth over illusion. As I said, in childhood I devoured the Oz stories. Dorothy stood up for what she believed, she challenged others to be true their own selves. I don’t need the heroine to be a “kick-ass heroine” (very popular these days) from the beginning. I do need to see an awakening of her spirit though. I love how Bridget Jones went from lusting after Incorrigible Rogue to falling in love with the Flawed But Sincere Suitor. She eventually chooses the guy who likes her “just the way she is.” Awwww!!

Stories help me too because the escape allows me to breathe. I learn, I laugh, I cry, I breathe…

A dear, dear friend sent me an email asking, “Have you hugged your story today?”

Truth is, this life we lead is our story. Have you hugged Your story today?

--Chiron O'Keefe

Thursday, October 11, 2007

What is your Favorite Book?

Thursday 10-11-07

Yesterday, agent Nathan Bransford asked in his blog “Who is your favorite author?” Which body of work do you drool over and wish you had written?

All I could think was… Just one? Come on. You’re kidding right?

Books, like poignant songs, signify passages of life. The favorites don’t change exactly, but evolve. The list grows. And unless you know emphatically that there is only one style, one genre you would choose to write, the list expands even further.

Demian, by Herman Hesse, is a book that burst within my consciousness like a supernova. Of course, I was nineteen. The crossroads between youth and adulthood. Each book became a new flavor to awaken my hungry spirit. As a child of ten, the books by Edward Eager (particularly Magic by the Lake) and the complete collection of Oz stories captivated me. More than that, they helped form my perception of the nature of reality. Weighty thought, I know. Yet to me that is the beauty and power of fiction. We step inside the character’s mind, heart and soul. We breathe in their perspective, revel in their growth and ultimately taste of their personal evolution.

Ever see the Star Trek Next Generation episode, The Inner Light? Captain Picard awakens to find he is living another man’s life. Although in reality his body lies unconscious on the starship deck, his consciousness experiences a day-to-day existence, which lasts for many years. At the end of the life he is living, he finds out the truth. He awakens on the deck, where just a few hours have passed. The alternate existence was not real. At least not literally. However, within his consciousness, everything he encountered was very real. The knowledge, the wisdom, even the skill developed through his days devoted to learning the flute, remained.

What is reality? Tom Clancy said, “The difference between reality and fiction is that fiction has to make sense.”

The favorite book then is linked to what we might consider our greatest emotional response. For some maybe the choice is easy. But for me… *laughs* I’m just a never-ending fount of emotional responses!

There are so many stories that explode within me. Perhaps because they present a new concept that I roll ‘round and ‘round my brain. Or because they tickled my funny bone in a new and delightful way (the classic Spit-Take Novel). Or because the characters are so real, so endearing I want to crawl inside their heads. Or even because the style of the book sweeps me away.

Anybody here have a favorite story, a favorite author or even a favorite turning point that coincided with a lovely tale?

Decades after I read “Mimsy Were the Borogroves” by Henry Kuttner (in Volume One of the Science Fiction Hall of Fame), the concepts he presented, the way he wrote the story, continues to echo deep within me.

And I still chuckle when I pull out my favorite Edward Eager books. Yup, I reread kid’s books. Go figure.

I think I might completely transform What is My Favorite Book into a new and admittedly, bizarre sentence. What is my favorite? Books!

(For those who wish to leave a comment without signing in, just click Anonymous or Other, fill in the letters and go!)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Perception is Everything

Wednesday, 10-10-07

The other day, deer wandered into the forested area behind our house. I first noticed them when I went outside to toss a few peanuts to the waiting wildlife. The forest creatures and I have our routine down pat.

“Bird” shows up, perches on the railing of my porch and begins tap-tap-tapping to let me know he’s ready for Peanut Time. As soon as I open the door, he flies up to an available branch. He waits as I tap-tap-tap on the peanut, then responds by tap-tap-tapping on the branch. I toss the peanut—he flies down to snatch it up with a gleam of victory in his beady little eyes. Hah! The squirrels wait, waving their itsy paws as if to say, “Here! Throw it here! I’m open!”

So there I am, offering up peanuts and babbling to my wildlife friends in a cutesy voice when I realize a doe and two fawns are watching me with bright, curious eyes. As my furry and feathered friends gather up the peanuts, the deer apparently conclude that the strange-looking Peanut Lady is Okay.

They heave themselves up, trundle over and slurp up the cracked corn and sunflower seeds I have on hand.

Yum. *smile*

Humans aren’t much different. A child will carefully observe what their parents, siblings or peers find acceptable before giving a cautious nibble.

Readers are pretty much the same. Which is why so many authors despair over the anonymous query letter, the ubiquitous slush pile. Honestly, who here hasn’t read a novel by a NY Times Best Selling Author that made your stomach roil? Some are fabulous, some are pure crap. But they sell. Because Perception is Everything.

Agents and editors are just as human as the writers they represent. They’re more likely to tune in with an open mind to words written by someone they like. Some agents will come right out and tell you that they love to be flattered. Which I can certainly understand, who doesn’t love a good ego stroke? Yet it also destroys the happy illusion inspired when Miss Snark, the uncontested Queen of Blogs, stated repeatedly that Good Writing Trumps All.

Science has proven the mind filters out much more than it lets in. Sensory perception is inexorably linked to mental perception. We distinguish between pleasure and pain, between experiences we consider pleasant or horrid, based on our preconceptions. How else to explain the lure of regional delicacies? *heh-heh*

Marketing is all about creating a sense of familiarity and comfort with unknown products. And let’s get real, if you expect that something will be enjoyable, the chances are much better your experience will live up to that expectation.

Perception is Everything.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Finding Your Note

Tuesday October 9, 2007

On Saturday, hubby and I pulled out the guitars, plugged in the amps and took the recording equipment out for a spin. One of the songs we worked on is a long-time favorite. Wild Horses by the Rolling Stones. I memorized that song back when I was nineteen and have played it ever since. Love it, love it, love it. Except for one pesky little detail. Singing in the key of G.

Now I could transpose the chords or slap on a capo but for the accompanying lead guitarist, that’s a pain in the arse. And the depth and richness of the song is compromised. At least to me.

Then a few days earlier, we’d been listening to a rare version of the song and something about the way Mick sang reverberated inside my soul. I just *knew*. And I had to try again. So after hubby patiently arranged the microphones just so, and we ran through the chord changes a couple of times, we gave it a go.

The first verse came out in that wobbly squeak of an adolescent boy that signals my inability to Find My Note. Yet when the chorus came around, I tapped in. Faltering at first, but I could *feel* that note somewhere deep within my bones. When the second verse rolled around, I held it, astonished to hear myself singing in this impossible key. What a wild rush. Yet… Could I hold it?

The exhilaration would grab me, I’d get caught up in a wave of pure pleasure hearing myself sing. Up until that fateful moment when I realized what I was doing… At which point, my voice would wobble and squeak and I’d come crashing to the ground.

The process fascinated me. Every time I let my thoughts wander over to an observation of my actions, I’d lose the focus. I’m reminded sharply of the old cartoons where Wile E. Coyote would race off the cliff, his legs windmilling wildly. His nimble feet would carry him several feet into the air until a tiny pinprick of awareness would nip his consciousness and with eyes widening in realization, he’d glance down. Ooops! CRASH!

Life requires a certain amount of faith. Perhaps it’s most obvious in performance mode (or while chasing a nimble Road Runner), yet it’s clear that this axiom serves throughout every aspect of our existence. I know that when I’m typing, if I stop to think about it my speed will slow. I’ll become self-conscious, wondering if I really know what I’m doing. And that last sentence is really the crux of the matter. While most of us (whether deliberately or not) work towards a measure of self-awareness, we also must step away from being self-conscious. Meaning, that we learn to not second-guess each decision or micromanage every step of our life. Which isn’t always easy.

What I realized during the course of the night is that even the most impossible task can be accomplished if you tune in just right. Not to say that one can bypass the effort required to move past the blocks, to learn the chords, to understand the process of plotting, to delve into the particulars of mixing colors on a palette, or to distinguish an intrusive weed from your soon-to-be-blossoming creation.

Yet one thing remains clear. It is that initial “tuning in” process that carries us through. Whatever you dream, whatever you yearn for, it can be done. You just have to Find Your Note.

Monday, October 8, 2007

No Place Like Home

"You have plenty of courage, I am sure," answered Oz. "All you need is confidence in yourself. There is no living thing that is not afraid when it faces danger. The true courage is in facing danger when you are afraid, and that kind of courage you have in plenty." ~~~ L. Frank Baum, "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz."

This weekend I remembered my first love. Not my first kiss (AWK-ward) or my first crush (WHAT was I thinking??). My first true love turned out to be my most lasting relationship. A love affair that will never die. A love that I'll cherish every minute of my life. What else could it be?

Books.

Though the series by L. Frank Baum wasn't my first encounter, the stories contained within hit me in all the right places. The classic "quest" with the quirky companions, scary antagonist, and "opponent who is really an ally" (the perfect twist) The stories had them all. And every day I crept to my room and slipped between the covers of my favorite books, discovering magical lands, traipsing off to new adventures, and ultimately discovering my Self through every tale I read.

Years later, I recognized I needed more. I wanted to create my own worlds. My own adventures. My own "magical lands." And it's as exhilarating and terrifying as finding myself in the middle of Oz.

I also remembered… I have the heart, I have the brains, and I DO have the courage… Click my shoes three times and I'm home.

And where IS home? Home is where we dream. Where we feel most like our Self. Of course, with family and cherished friends, we feel close and safe. Yet I believe that it's when we reach for the stars with our own fervent hopes that we achieve a unique sense of "home."

And just like Dorothy, we hold within us all the magic we need. Take heart, take action, and remember, there's no place like home.

For a Halloween treat, check out author Misty Fanderclai’s ongoing story:
Witches Anonymous!

--Chiron O'Keefe

Thursday, October 4, 2007

The Great Escape

With fiction, no one wants to just read a book. What lures us to crack open the cover and begin flipping pages is the fervent desire to crawl inside a story. To escape the pressures, the conflicts, the duties, even the boredom of everyday life. It’s why we love film and television, why comic books and sci-fi conventions rage in popularity, why The Sims became the number one selling computer game of all time.

Let’s take it a step further. It’s not just escaping into a story. It’s escaping our own story and climbing inside someone else’s. Many people work with a Dwight (The Office) yet the experience is not the same from the inside. *smile* Having a jerky boss like Michael Scott (again The Office) is no picnic when your paycheck depends on placating a bozo. Place that same moronic, insensitive blowhard outside of your own living sphere and hilarity ensues. *heh-heh*

Charlie Chaplin said, “Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot."

There’s a curious exploration of that in the old Heinlein classic, “Stranger in a Strange Land.” The leading character, Michael Valentine Smith, is human by birth but when his astronaut parents died while stationed on Mars, he’s raised by an alien consciousness. It follows that he has no sense of human ways, especially that most peculiar of human traits—a sense of humor. The jokes to him seem cruel. When a comedian pokes fun at another, he’s dismayed and puzzled. Why is this funny? How can people be enjoying this? Since he has no perspective to escape from, he does not feel the same sense of relief or satisfaction.

The more invested we are in a situation, the more we seek escape. Yet the most pleasing form of escapism is one that is closest to our own needs. My husband, whose work is all about strategy and win/lose techniques, enjoys watching documentaries about World War II. My favorite escapism relates to my own writing choice—I prefer a good romantic comedy.

The problem with writing fiction is that we have to crack the code that changes our books into that perfect escape pod. Where the reader can forget herself and slip inside the story.

Agent Jessica Faust asked on her blog which readers needed most—A good plot or good writing. Without a plot, I’m lost. The words become meaningless and I might as well be staring at a painting (as Seinfeld would say, NOT that there’s anything wrong with that). Without good writing though, the plot is just scenes strung together and I’m reading rather than slipping inside the story.

The writing doesn’t have to be brilliant, breath taking, where every word is a little speck of magic either. For me, what stands out is voice. If a writer believes her story, the voice is true. The characters breathe life. The plot dances just as I do after a few drinks. *cough*

The voice carries me along and the story comes alive. That, for me, is The Great Escape.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The Next Big Thing

This weekend I watched “The TV Set” starring one of my favorite guys, David Duchovney.

Amazon.com: A writer struggles to shepherd his semi-autobiographical sitcom into development, his vision--of a guy who's brought back to his home town by his brother's suicide and rediscovers his joy in life--is slowly eroded by a domineering network executive who favors trashy reality programming like Slut Wars.

As Homer Simpson would say… “It’s funny ‘cause it’s true.”

How many times have I heard that writers need to stay true to their own voice, yet in the same breath the advice tumbles out that This Genre Is Hot now? What’s the dividing line between writing what makes your heart sing and lip-synching your next novel?

I remember attending an acting class way back when (you DON’T want to know) and witnessing two actors discussing the Elusive Opportunity. One guy, in his twenties, a handsome hunk with gorgeous, thick blond hair confided that he’d been offered a spot in something that paid a few thousand bucks (for starving actors struggling by on tips and minimum wage this is the mother lode), except They Wanted Him To Cut His Hair. He snorted and said, “Forget that.”

A classmate, a woman in her thirties stared at him in shock. With one swift motion, she flipped her head, grabbed the hair dangling down in one fist and said, “Shave it off.”

That pretty much summed it up.

You see, for some people, the roles just fall in their laps. And often enough, those folks are the same crappy actors who land moronic sitcoms that survive endlessly like cockroaches in a nuclear winter. The “Cool Kids” who fit into the clique and are scooped up by the equally cool agents. The outsiders press their noses to the glass wondering if they’ll ever make it inside.

I believe there is some balance required. You can’t just pound out crappy books over and over, ignoring feedback and refusing to compromise your vision by incorporating some common sense and expect to get published (though I have to say, reading Bestsellers where the POV changes six times in one paragraph puts that theory to the test).

Still… if your greatest love is researching and writing historicals and what’s really popular NOW is time-travel vampires who discover ancient tomes filled with Cheerios, don’t toss aside your passion to chase the market.

I know that compromise is inevitable, but if you don’t love what you write, what’s the point? On the other hand, I hear that self-loathing writers are very much the Next Big Thing…

Monday, October 1, 2007

Amazon, Borders Launch Literary Contests

This just in... New contests galore!

Amazon has a Breakthrough Novel Award which offers a contract with Penguin and a $25,000 advance. Wow!

Amazon.com contest site: http://www.amazon.com/abna

Not to be left behind, Borders has initiated their own nifty 'crime novel' contest.
Crime novel contest site: http://courttv.gather.com/

Interested? The full article can be found Here.

Good luck!