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NYC area writers…free workshops!

3 Feb

The writing workshop mecca, Gotham, is hosting free writing workshops THIS weekend (and a few others) in NYC!!!

For those interested take a peek at what’s happening in town:

http://www.writingclasses.com/CommunityEvents/index.php

DATE LOCATION EVENT TOPIC
Sunday, Feb 5 
6:00PM – 7:00PM
McNally Jackson Books
52 Prince Street
Directions
Free Memoir Writing class
Instructor: Kelly Caldwell
Sunday, Feb 12 
11:00AM – 12:00PM
Housing Works Bookstore
126 Crosby Street
Directions
Free Humor Writing class
Instructor: Sara Barron
Sunday, Mar 4 
6:00PM – 7:00PM
McNally Jackson Books
52 Prince Street
Directions
Free Article Writing class
Instructor: Jennifer Armstrong
Sunday, Mar 18 
11:00AM – 12:00PM
Housing Works Bookstore
126 Crosby Street
Directions
Free Creative Writing 101 class
Instructor: John Oliver Hodges
Sunday, Apr 1 
6:00PM – 7:00PM
McNally Jackson Books
52 Prince Street
Directions
Free Poetry Writing class
Instructor: Kate Angus
Sunday, Apr 15 
11:00AM – 12:00PM
Housing Works Bookstore
126 Crosby Street
Directions
Free Screenwriting class
Instructor: Rory Haines

For those who haven’t visited, McNally Jackson it is a great indie bookstore right in the heart of NoLita. I met the owner once and she’s a very nice book lover whose family owns a chain of stores in Canada of the same name. If you love bookstores where the staff are knowledgeable and can lead you in the direction of the perfect book for you, then this should be your go-to book joint. The atmosphere is great and if they haven’t updated the decor then you’ll see an entire cafe filled with real books turned into light fixtures, walls, etc….it’s amazing! Such a great  idea. I’ve not yet visited Housing Works Bookstore, but it looks like that’s my next pit stop in the city because if it’s Gotham-worthy…it must be great!

Have a fabulous weekend!

-C

 

Doctors to the Rescue!

1 Feb

Thanks to my daily NaNoWriMo newsletter I learned today that there are Book Doctors to the rescue for those in need of some assistance in getting their book published. Currently, the Book Doctors are running a WriMo-specific Pitchapalooza Contest where any WriMo participant can submit a 200 word pitch to be in the running to win an introduction to an agent or publisher that suits his/her novel. Another “fan favorite” contestant will win a free 1-hour consultation with the Docs worth $250. Not too shabby!

Here’s the low-down:

You get 200 words to pitch your book. You then email your pitch to nanowrimo@thebookdoctors.com. Twenty-five pitches will be randomly selected from all submissions. We will then choose one winner from the group. The winner will receive an introduction to an agent or publisher appropriate for his/her manuscript. We will also award a fan favorite who will receive a free one-hour consult with us (worth $250). All pitches must be received by February 29, 2012. The 25 random pitches will be posted on March 5, 2012. Winners will be announced on March 15, 2012. Anyone can vote for fan favorite, so get your social media engine running as soon as the pitches go up!  Link

This duo of Book Docs also advertises a “free 20-minute consultation (worth $100) to anyone who buys a copy of The Essential Guide To Getting Your Book Published [their book]. Just attach a copy of your sales receipt to your email and we’ll set up your consultation.” Not a bad trade-off! Two types of advise rolled into one.

It’s often said that writers are their worst editors because you are so engrossed in your own work that you can’t see the mistakes (sometimes glaring) that sit on the page in front of you. So, get a second set of eyes to take a look at your pitch, your idea, your novel and call the Book Doctors. They may be just what your novel ordered! 

Happy Writing!

Epic Journeys

27 Oct

Epic journeys have become legendary thanks to those who penned the experience. Dante wrote of the epic journey through heaven, hell and purgatory (“Divine Comedy”). Jack Kerouac wrote of his epic journey across the United States (“On The Road”). Even if your epic journey consists of you epic feat of successfully dragging 3 screaming, crying children to the supermarket, then the toy store to quell their tantrums, it’s yours to express in writing.

The reason I’m approaching the subject of epic journeys is because I will be heading on a not so “epic” as it will be “entertaining” journey across the country to my old stomping grounds of San Diego, CA. It’s been a while and I suppose the epic journey will consist more of enjoying my time there, remembering with fondness the time I lived there and forcing myself to get back on the plane to my reality on another coast…but a girl can and will dream of warmer surroundings.

Fall / autumn / aka the seductive neighbor of winter is duly upon us north-easterners. Over the past few days the temps went from open-toe shoe weather to “where’re my wool socks!” weather. Digging for socks in the dark at 7am isn’t my idea of fun and it’s just a chilly reminder colder weather is imminent…

ANYWAY, this seasonally-induced nostalgia for all things warm and snuggly came at the perfect time for in less than one week I will be returning to lovely San Diego, CA where, as of today’s reports, is a perfect 70*F/21*C and sunny…thank the Lord! So, in haste, I make my way on a jet plane to embark on a sunny, perfectly warm journey to my old stomping grounds.

Now, this journey is more of a friendly vacation away with some friends who happen to be relocating there and a fun reuniting with friends still living in San Diego (not exactly the “Divine Comedy” type journey), but still epic in the sense that it’s been over 3 years since I’ve been back and there are a lot of faces and places that have changed and that I can’t wait to reconnect with. Inevitably, there will be stories and misadventures along the way that will inspire some rant or that, so stay tuned & happy writing!!

The cute little devil

23 Oct

A sweet moment with a cute little devil…Happy (almost) Halloween!

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Go ahead. Be a Reading Rebel.

5 Oct

I’m 4 days late, but happy belated Banned Book Week!

Go ahead, be a rebel.

I dare you.

Do it.

You know you want to!

The ALA (American Library Association) has recorded hundreds of attempts by individuals and groups to have the following “outrageous” books removed from libraries and classrooms.

Go ahead & Rock Your World with these literary temptresses if you haven’t already:

1. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
2. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
3. The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
4. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
5. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
6. Ulysses, by James Joyce
7. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
8. The Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
9. 1984, by George Orwell
11. Lolita, by Vladmir Nabokov
12. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
15. Catch-22, by Joseph Heller
16. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
17. Animal Farm, by George Orwell
18. The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway
19. As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner
20. A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway
23. Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston
24. Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison
25. Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison
26. Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
27. Native Son, by Richard Wright
28. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey
29. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
30. For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway
33. The Call of the Wild, by Jack London
36. Go Tell it on the Mountain, by James Baldwin
38. All the King’s Men, by Robert Penn Warren
40. The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien
45. The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair
48. Lady Chatterley’s Lover, by D.H. Lawrence
49. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
50. The Awakening, by Kate Chopin
53. In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote
55. The Satanic Verses, by Salman Rushdie
57. Sophie’s Choice, by William Styron
64. Sons and Lovers, by D.H. Lawrence
66. Cat’s Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
67. A Separate Peace, by John Knowles
73. Naked Lunch, by William S. Burroughs
74. Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh
75. Women in Love, by D.H. Lawrence
80. The Naked and the Dead, by Norman Mailer
84. Tropic of Cancer, by Henry Miller
88. An American Tragedy, by Theodore Dreiser
97. Rabbit, Run, by John Updike

Also, check out Wikipedia’s list of Books Banned by Gov’ts around the world… here.

Dr Seuss vs. Madonna : Can Celebs Write Good Children’s Books??

22 Sep

The Atlantic published a great article online titled Dr. Seuss vs. Madonna: Can Celebrities Write Good Children’s Books? Good question!

Working in the publishing industry, I’m always curious to see what the bestselling books are around the world. In the US, we have a great selection of titles by a slew of authors and a large part of them are marketed like anything else…excessively. When it comes to celebrity authors, the hype is even more exaggerated.

Normally, the titles marketed here are by American celebrities. There’s no way, I thought to myself last year, that Lauren Conrad‘s tween series “LA Candy”, “Sweet Little Lies” or “Sugar and Spice” were of any consequence outside of the realm of teenybopper Americans. Boy was I wrong! Ms. Conrad’s titles sold like hot cakes throughout Europe and the rest of the world and I had to bite my tongue. Apparently, “The Hills” wasn’t banned for its scripted impersonation of reality outside of the US…shocking! OTHER people outside of this country are watching it and swarming bookstores in the Netherlands, Germany and Spain to get a hold of her novels. I don’t really get it, but my friends who are addicted to The Hills/The City/Etc were not surprised at all. Apparently, this seemingly American reality star has made it big abroad and she’s only Lauren Conrad. Included in the article’s list are big shots like Madonna, Tyra Banks and Jimmy Buffet. Surely, they must have outsold Lauren Conrad…

Here’s a slideshow of a few titles that popped out at me from their original list:

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Peek into Screenwriting

21 Sep

As I mentioned last week, Gotham Writer’s Workshop (GWW) offered a set of free introductory courses in NYC on Sept 20th & 21st. The classes filled up quickly as I found out when I applied to attend a course on the 21st and was told in the next 10 minutes that it was already filled…along with almost every other course listed for that date. This place is popular and there is no shortage of writers in NYC & its periphery, so I suppose I expected it to be that hard to get into a class.

Well, in the end a friend of mine decided to take the Creative Writing 101 course on Tuesday night and I decided that I had done that already in my GWW Fiction 1 intensive last year, so I sprung for something out of my comfort zone – screenwriting.

Now, I am a movie addict. I watched ‘Titanic’ SIX times in theaters and cried every single time Kate Winslet wouldn’t let Jack on that perfectly large-enough-for-you-and-your-lover piece of debris. ANYWAY, I digress… The point I’m trying to actually make is that I love the medium of film but it had never occurred to me to write a screenplay. Sitting in this class, though, I can see myself eagerly transforming my novel into a screenplay and quite easily.

As per usual, GWW excelled in bringing a highly educated, smart, engaging teacher to this class. This time around, I had the pleasure of learning from screenwriter, novelist and director, Richard Uhlig. He attended NYU grad school and has his MFA in Screen Writing from the American Film Institute. Mr. Uhlig was very personable and in the 60-minute span had lots of insightful comments, suggestions and stories to tell. We worked through two different 5-minute writing exercises and everyone was engaged and there was great energy in the room. If I lived closer, I would definitely take his class just to learn something new. Today, in reading about him some more on his website, I learned he has also written 2 novels (covers shown below). You can read the first chapter of his second novel, “Boy Minus Girl”, on his site and it is very engaging an immediately I was transported into the life of this bored, horny teenage boy who desperately wants to hook up with his dream girl and flee Kansas as quickly as possible…and did I mention there’s a Charlie Sheen type Uncle that apparently takes him under his wing to learn the lay of the land of ladies? Oh yeah…I need to get this book asap.

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Anyway, regarding screenwriting… Here are a few tips Mr. Uhlig shared in class that I think are really useful. As a way to break some writer’s block, maybe take a step back from your project and turn a scene into a screen play to better visualize where you want your piece to go.

1) Movies are all about IMAGES. Iconic images that you remember forever. His one example was of the girl getting sucked under water by an unseen create as she swims through the water…aka JAWS.

2) In screenplays you can only write about what you can SEE and HEAR. The ‘internalization’ found in narrative can be adopted to film with voice overs, but they are what drive a movie.

3) The job of a screenwriter is to emotionally involve your audience using IMAGES. Dialogue is secondary. As with most writing, SHOW don’t TELL.

4) Screenplays are written in the PRESENT tense. “The girl is sucked under the water by an unknown creature.”

5) Visual images, songs, characters, conversations, places are all great inspiration for screenplays…and other types of writing, as well. Follow the inspirations you find and work with them to create your screenplay.

6) COMMIT to writing daily. Make a schedule. Be adamant about keeping fresh with your writing. As Mr. Uhlig said last night and I’ve heard time and again, “writing begets writing.”

7) Particularly with screenplays, DON’T write in the shots or micromanage actors. The shots are determined by the director and the actors will interpret the character as they see fit. You want to give both directors, actors and editors enough information to go on, but not too much as to stifle them.

As for me, I presented during on the five-minute writing pieces in class and I think it really is telling of my character in “Alternate Ending” so I’m going to roll with it…take inspiration where you can find it – it’s all over the place!

Happy Writing!

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