Prize

A Prize For the All Bloggers

 

drawing of a prize (trophy) for all bloggers
drawing of a prize (trophy) for all bloggers

 

This prize award is dedicated to all bloggers, both big and small, who toil and labor over their precious piece of web space, regardless to whether they attract a million viewers or just one or two. Much praise goes out to those who find success and riches through their internet activity, but a special thanks is in store for those who do this on a daily, weekly or monthly basis just to communicate and throw in their two cents worth.

Best wishes to all bloggers.

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More Words from Bloggers

Yellow Bug parked in front of the NM Museum of Art, photo by author
Yellow Bug parked in front of the NM Museum of Art, photo by author

Best Piece of Writing Advice Ever

Best Piece of Writing Advice Yet  (from the venerable Mark Twain)   “Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.” Nothing could be more simple, right?

Today’s look around the internet includes more on Amazon-Hatchette, words from a black screenwriter and a bunch of Tom Swifties.

Does Anybody remember Boyz in the Hood?

Don’t go through the system. Do it yourself. Do something you believe in.”
Oscar-nominated writer/director John Singleton (Boyz in the Hood

The title definitely caught my eye when the film first came out in 1991, but I never got around to watching the movie (on DVD) till a few years ago. I must say I enjoyed the show immensely. It’s a great coming of age story about a tight-knit group of black teenagers trying to cope with the urban, drug-infested neighborhood that they find themselves thrust into.

The amazing thing about this film is that Singleton wrote the screenplay and landed the director’s spot just a year or two after he graduated from UCLA film school. I can’t imagine anything like this happening today, even though they are more opportunities out there and internet sites like the Black List have made Hollywood more accessible. Do it yourself is not all that it’s cracked up to be.

This Hatchette-Amazon Thing Drags On

“Consider the French Revolution. A bunch of blue bloods really thought they were born to rule, and the peasants couldn’t live without them to govern. They were wrong.” Joe Konrath

Mr. Konrath continues his defense of ebook publishing and self-publishing with this timely rage against Author’s United. His assertion that the ebooks are radically changing the publishing world has been around for several years. Now that the Amazon-Hatchette feud dominates the literary conversation, Joe has gained more notoriety as the great defender of Amazon and the new reality of cheap ebooks. No different than the rise of paperbacks right after WWII or the emergence of DVD discs and the consequent demise of VHS tapes, ebooks are here to stay. Check out his blog…….even if don’t agree his opinions you may the argument compelling.

Who Was Tom Swift?

Last week while discussing the overuse of adverbs, Anne Allen dug up the popular 60s phenomena of Tom Swifties, which derived from the Tom Swift character of YA fame that has been around since 1910.

Here are some of my favorites.

“Careful with that chainsaw,” Tom said offhandedly.

“I might as well be dead,” Tom croaked.

“I wish I drove a Scandinavian car” Tom sobbed (Saabed)

“I wonder if this radium is radioactive?” asked Marie curiously

“We could have made a fortune canning pineapples” Tom groaned dolefully

“That’s the last time I’ll stick my arm in a lion’s mouth,” the lion-tamer said off-handedly.

“I’ll have a martini,” said Tom, drily (dryly)

“I unclogged the drain with a vacuum cleaner,” said Tom succinctly

“Hurry up and get to the back of the ship!” Tom said sternly

“I have no flowers,” Tom said lackadaisically

Don’t lend me more yarn— / I can’t mend worth a darn,” / Said Tom, as he knitted his brow.

Kind of silly, but in a way they still retain some of their charm.

Final Quote of the Day

“Don’t write a book someday, write a book today. That’s what I did.” Chuck Wendig

 

Words from Bloggers

 

Danger, Smile!!!  photo by author
Danger, Smile!!! photo by author Even in the face of danger, it might be beneficial to laugh a little bit.

 

Today’s Quotes

Today, and especially the last month in particular, has been a news junkie’s delight. With major historical events occurring in Iraq, Syria, West Africa, the Ukraine, the U.S. and most recently the British Isles, there is a lot of conflict in the world, capable of fueling the various news outlets for a long time. This situation is great for journalists, newscasters, filmmakers, commentators and political pundits. It is also a rich resource for novelists, comedians, short story writers, screenwriters and playwrights…….. but in a different way. The following quotes mostly ignores all the world troubles and instead is drawn from the rich world of writers commenting on their craft. Hope you enjoy this Sunday’s selection.

P.S. Each quote is supplied with a link to the appropriate blog.

1. “A lot of people think I had such a rosy career, but I wanted to identify that one of the things that helps you have a long career is learning how to deal with adversity, how to get past it.”   19-time All-Star baseball player Cal Ripken, Jr.

2. “A few aspiring authors get to stay home and write all day. Think of them as the 1%.”

3. “Have fun. Have as much (effing) fun as you can.” 

4. “Something to marvel at. 1 out of every 20 books was written by E.L. James.

5. “Don’t overthink it.”

6. “but if you can find the time to write a number of days or nights a week, even if it’s just five hundred words – that process will help free up your subconscious. And that’s where so many good ideas come from, so many good characters, so many good connections between characters, so many great plot ideas.”  writing advice from Thomas Keneally

7. “Anything that comes out of the South is going to be called grotesque by the Northern reader, unless it is grotesque, in which case it is going to be called realistic.“ by Flannery O’Connor

8. “Simple words can become clever phrases
And chapters could turn into books
If I could just get in on paper
But it’s harder that it ever looks
If I could Just Get It on Paper
Lyrics by Jimmy Buffett

9.  “Never sign any deal for more than a ten year term.”

10. “The quieter you become, the more you can hear.”  —Yasutani Roshi

11. “She’s a charming middle age lady with a face like a bucket of mud and if she’s washed her hair since Coolidge’s second term, I’ll eat my spare tire, rim and all.” by Raymond Chandler

12. “Getting it published in the present climate is the heartbreak, but there’s always Amazon.”

And as an extra bonus here is a simple outline on how to write a good ghost story. With all the killing and dying that is going on these days, this might be especially good advice for aspiring writers.

Well, the basic plot of a ghost story goes something like this:

  1. A ghost shows up.
  2. The ghost gets scarier.
  3. The ghost gets even scarier.
  4. The ghost becomes truly horrifying.
  5. The protagonist figures out what to do about it.
  6. Denouement.
In the Center of the Lagoon Nebula  Image Credit: Hubble Legacy Archive, NASA, ESA - Processing & Licence: Judy Schmidt
In the Center of the Lagoon Nebula
Image Credit: Hubble Legacy Archive, NASA, ESA – Processing & Licence: Judy Schmidt

 

A Guide To Screenwriting Blogs

kepler186f_artistconcept_0h600
NASA Illustration of a possible earth-sized planet in another galaxy

 

Striking Paydirt With Screenwriting

Screenwriting can be a lucrative occupation……..that is if you can sell your screenplay to Hollywood or other interested parties. But that’s a big “IF”. First you have to come up with a killer screenplay……..this might mean literally, for if there ain’t some dead bodies or corpses floating around, film producers might not be so interested. That’s not to say other types of films don’t have a chance, but for a breakout screenplay your 120 pages of script must be first rate or better.

 

Something To Consider 

For those writers who choose to go down this perilous path of writing, here is a list of blogs that might help you on your way……..or a more likely scenario……they might provide good reading, while you convert your unsold screenplay to novella or novel.

From Writer’s Digest

In the May/June WD issue, there were three screenwriting blogs included with the 101. They are as follows: MovieBytes, The Script Lab and the blog by John August. Movie Bytes is a good place to go for info on upcoming screenwriting contests. This site also contains mucho info on previously released movies. The Script Lab is another blog singled out by WD. They provide a wide cross-section of useful tips that includes many reviews and trailers.  John August is a commercially successful screewriting who promotes his blog with the slogan, “a ton of useful information”. This is not an understatement.

Some of My Favorites 

Here are the screenwriting blogs that I most commonly visit.

Screenwriting from IowaScott W. Smith really does live in Iowa, where he posts several times a week on various topics related to screenwriting. Just goes to show you don’t have to live in southern California to keep abreast of events in Hollywood.

The Bitter Script Reader – This guy has actually been reading Hollywood scripts for the last seven years. No wonder he’s bitter. To keep his true identity a secret, this irreverent commentator goes by the name of Zuul. His comments are fun to read, but I kind of miss the talking puppet. Maybe Zuul will bring back his animated sidekick soon.

The Black List Blog – The Black List is the digital equivalent to screenwriting agents. Even in this new century, you can still get an agent, but the best route for newbie writers trying to crack the big time is to get your script posted and read at the Black List. That in itself makes this a most interesting website and blog.

Inktip – Inktip is simular to the Black List in that it helps fledgling screewriters get there prospective hit movies out there. Membership is free and do receive a weekly listing on who is looking for what. Still a long shot, but just paying attention to what’s current could be helpful.

Screenwriting Goldmine – A British site that operates in much the same manner as inktips. Sign up and you’ll some info on what British producers are looking for in screenplays. If you can match your script to a producer’s request, you might get lucky.

And then there’s this new site called the Bitch Pack. Go there and judge for yourself.

 

 

 

Advertising changes with the times
Advertising changes with the times, from flickr

Sign of the Times

In recent years one of my most frequently-visited screenwriting blogs has been an irreverent site called “Just Effing Entertain Me”, run by an experienced insider, named Julie Gray. Right now, this particular blog has ceased, only to be replaced by a website promoting her consulting business. In April, Julie just started blogging again from the Middle East. You can read all about the screenwriter in her newfound home at Stories Without Borders.

Welcome To the Digital Age

Like everything else in today’s world, the business of writing a screenplay is changing all the time. Always remember good writing will find its voice…….somewhere, though it might be where you least expect it. So long for now.

Digital devices are everywhere, from Wikipedia, photo by Tomas Castelazo
Digital devices are everywhere, from Wikipedia, photo by Tomas Castelazo

 

Navigating the Blogosphere

 

Double rainbow in Alaska, from Wikipedia, photo by Eric Rolph
Double rainbow in Alaska, from Wikipedia, photo by Eric Rolph

Writer’s Digest Releases Their 2014 Best of (Writer’s Websites) List

Just recently, Writer’s Digest released their annual list of 101 Best Websites for Writers. Many of these websites are published in blog form, while others such as the Absolute Write or QueryTracker are very large dispensaries of information, where a blog is just a small part of the overall site. The websites are listed in categories such as Everything Agents, General Resources, Online Writing Communities and Screenwriting. Nine websites received special recognition with a Best of the Best Award. Besides the above mentioned QueryTracker, they are Creativity Portal, A Newbie’s Guide To Publishing, The Review Review, The Coalition of Independent Authors and Publishers, Journalism Jobs, Moon Town Cafe, Society of Children’s Writers and the Daily Lit…….Happy Browsing.

Blogs I Follow

I have at least a dozen blogs I follow……and for some strange reason most of them have to do with writing. Perhaps, it is related to the fact that at least a part of my income derives from my literary activities. Not surprisingly, many of these sites also can be found on the Writer’s Digest compilation. Here they are in order of importance to me.

Anne R. Allen’s Blog – This is the first blog that I usually go to. Unfortunately Anne only publishes once a week, but her postings are always filled with important info, especially for the Indie self publisher.

A Newbie’s Guide To Publishing – This bad boy of the self publishers has toned down his raps lately by adding numerous  interviews and guest bloggers. Still, his site always has something to say and if you take his advice and read all his posts back to 2009, you will learn a lot about the ongoing struggle between Indies and the Big Six publishers.

Nathan Bransford, Author – As a West Coast literary agent Nathan had one of the most popular blogs in the literary world. Now that he has quit being an agent, he writes as a hybrid author, who publishes in both realms, digital and print. Definitely worth the read.

The Book Deal – Alan Rinzler, a veteran editor from way back, doesn’t blog very often ( about every six weeks), but when he does it is usually worth the wait. Be sure to check  out his post about giving the Beatles a bad review when they first toured America.

The Book Designer – Joel Friedlander practices what he preaches……he designs books.

Query Tracker – This site publishes a blog three times a week with a variety of writers participating as blogger.

Paperback Writer – Lynn Viehl, a successful paperback writer, publishes almost daily on a variety of topics, ranging from photos of her pet cat to pending pending submission oppurtunities.

Terrible Minds – The irascible Chuck Wendig always has something interesting to say.

Chuck Sambuchino’s Guide To Literary Agents – If finding a mainstream publisher is your thing, this blog might be for you. Chuck used to blog on his own, but now he places his posts with the Writer’s Digest site.

A Short List of Best Literary Blogs

If a list of 101 literary blogs seems like a real time killer (especially if you read each), then you might want to go to Positive Writer, where you can find a list of 25 writing blogs. The site is the product of Bryan Hutchinson, an author who focuses mainly on motivation issues.  His popular blog has received numerous awards, just not any from Writer’s Digest.

 

Cat's eye Nebula from NASA
Cat’s eye Nebula from NASA

Nathan Bransford Moves On

NGC 4452: An Extremely Thin Galaxy Credit: ESA, Hubble, NASA
NGC 4452: An Extremely Thin Galaxy Credit: ESA, Hubble, NASA

In transition:   “It’s with a huge mix of emotions (insert: wonderment, excitement, sadness, nostalgia) that I let you know that this is my last day as a literary agent. I am leaving the world of publishing to work at the tech news/review site CNET, where I will be helping to coordinate social media strategy.”  Nathan Bransford on announcing his exit from Curtis Brown.

The big news in the literary blogging world concerns the sudden departure of Nathan Bransford from the Curtis Brown Agency.  Nathan has decided to leave the world of agenting literary masterpieces and will now work for CNET reviewing electronic equipment and software.

Here’s what Betsey Lerner at “The Forest For The Trees” had to say;

“Anyway, Mr. Bransford, agent and gentleman, we will bid you adieu from the dark side of living off the backs of writers, au revoir to 15% percent commish and enjoy a real salary.” Actually these comments were a little bit tongue in cheek for she continued with these words:

“Your generosity is as infectious as is your love for books and the writing process. I wish you well in your new endeavor. I’m sure your clients will miss you enormously.”

And then there were some comments posted by J.N. Duncan, a client of Mr.Bransford, who has now been picked up by another agent at Curtis Brown;     “It is a sad day today. Today we say goodbye to Nathan Bransford, literary agent. He is leaving us for greener pastures……Secondly, I want to say what a pleasure it has been to work with him and be his client.”

All in all the move seems to be a wise one for the most widely-read, blogger among prospective authors, but his departure does seem to point towards the rapidly changing world of publishing. Maybe Nathan just had a good opportunity that he couldn’t pass up, but I suspect he took a look at the rising success of e-books and the diminishing returns on print and decided it was time to go.

Personally, I think for a person that was already a published writer and likely entertained more ambitions as a writer than as an agent, the move might even be a bit overdue. Nonetheless, I enjoyed reading his blog and even got a kick out of the the two “Not for me” rejections he sent me. All in all, I think he just took a big step in the right direction.

The Cat's Eye Nebula Credit: J. P. Harrington (U. Maryland) & K. J. Borkowski (NCSU) HST, NASA
The Cat's Eye Nebula Credit: J. P. Harrington (U. Maryland) & K. J. Borkowski (NCSU) HST, NASA

“A Self Appointed Inspector of Snowstorms”

What Is Space? by h.koppdelaney

“For many years I was self-appointed inspector of snow-storms and rain-storms, and did my duty faithfully; surveyor, if not of highways, then of forest paths and all across- lot routes, keeping them open, and ravines bridged and passable at all seasons, where the public heel had testified to their utility.”  Henry David Thoreau

Now that’s a nice job description for a great job. Fortunately, it’s one that has me gainfully employed for the entire winter.  And it is a task that I will able to fulfill on a fairly regular basis, especially since I live over a hundred miles north from Walden Pond, the famous place, where Henry David once lived.

On the down side,  it doesn’t pay very much, but that little piece of trivia seems relatively meaningless on a sunny day the day after a snowstorm. Over the course of a winter, money does matter, so I have to resort to other things to make ends meet, but still, I enjoy my outdoor work immensely.

Windbeeches
Windbeeches on the Schauinsland in the Black Forest, photo by Richard Fabi (Wikipedia Commons)

These days it seems that I make about as much money inspecting snowstorms, as I do blogging. That’s my choice. Somehow I just can’t seem to get around to placing one of those adds on my site.When I take a look at the blogs I visit, many seem to form in the category of free advertising. So, I’ll pass on monetizing my blog for now, but I will throw in the keywords just for shits and giggles.

Of the two types of moneyless employment, I much prefer the outdoor walk through the snowy woods. The fresh air and the escape from the computer screen are a much needed commodity in my life, especially since I quit my day job.

Here are a few pictures of winter from around the globe that come your way courtesy of creative commons. Ordinarily, I would post my own pictures, but my camera has come up absent as of late, so enjoy these images.

Blue Jay
Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) – Algonquin Provincial Park, Canada by MDF (Wikipedia Commons)