Geek Is In - Finally!

A while back, a friend of mine and I were talking about how reading is the new "it" thing. We mentioned how when we were in school, it wasn't cool to be a reader or a writer. Having your nose in a book was a quick way to get made fun of, and being a good student got you called names like "teacher's pet," a name in which I proudly claimed throughout my school years. lol

But O how the times have changed! In the almost decade since I've been in high school, the dynamics have shifted. Nerd is in and fully embraced in current tween aged Americans, and it's a beautiful thing!

How did this happen? Well, I have a theory. Many television shows like Gilmore Girls, Glee, and The Big Bang Theory have glamorized the once socially outcasted personality helping to promote the shift. Books that were turned into movies also helped. When the first Twilight movie came out, I went with a friend and her teenage daughter to see it. I had not read the books and couldn't understand the hype surrounding it, but her daughter had read them and was in love. That infatuation goes both ways. Rob Pattinson became the next teen heart throb, as we are all aware of, and that need to still be a part of the story caused a lot of non-readers to pick up the book and indulge themselves with an escape into the fantastical love story of the decade. Before Twilight, there was Rowling's Harry Potter. Very well-written and then very well-acted portrayal of the Hogwarts school and students captured young (and sometimes old) people everywhere. Even technological advances have been promoting reading. Every I Phone has a reading app, and with the invention of e-readers (Nook, Kindle, etc.), there are now more ways to read than ever. Who made all the movies, books, shows, and technology that has revolutionized the next generation? Other nerds!

I love that finally being smart is cool, and now there is a place for the geek and the jock. I think it's about time we, as a society, embrace the nerd because, after all,  they are the future! :)

So say it loud, and finally say it proud: "I'm a nerd, and I love it!"


Photo by Photl.

I Want to Promote You: Apply to be Interviewed

Wondering how you to put yourself out there? We can spend hours every week self-promoting our blogs or books. This is an opportunity to help others find out about you, your work, and your blog/website. I have been wanting to start interviewing authors/writers for a while now, and with my first interview coming up soon, I decided to let others who are interested apply.

These are the requirements:

1.) You must be a follower of The Writer's Block.
2.) You must be working on or have completed a novel/book (published or not).
3.) You must submit me a link to your blog/website.

And that's it! Not hard, right? The interview consists of 15 questions about you, your interests, and your writing projects.

I feel that it's important to encourage and promote one another, as writers. We need all the help we can get in this rough business. I'm excited about this project.

If you're interested, please apply here.

Photo by Photl.

Writers That Shaped Your Writing

I recently read a writer's speech about how the books he read as a child influenced his writing. He talked about how he wanted to be the author of Tolkein's Lord of the Rings ( I mean, who doesn't?) and how since that was impossible, he'd settle for writing other great stories. I loved reading about how he now recognizs that his childhood favorites both inspired him to be a writer and also influenced his writing style. You can read the full article here.

I started thinking about the favorite writers of my youth. I wish I could say that I read C.S. Lewis and Tolkein, but I didn't. In fact, I'm only just now reading LOTR. (I know, I know...) Anyhow, I loved fairy tales. There's no doubt that my love for them is still with me. When I was about six, my parents signed me up in a book club for kids where I would get books in every month. The mailboxes were at the entrance of the park where we lived at the time.I remember driving my dad crazy to go check the mail, which was a good, long walk from our house, but he would usually give in to my pleading. I couldn't wait to see if another book had arrived, thus began my love affair with books.

 My mom read to me every night, but she read me novels. Not only did she focus on reading me books, but she read ones that are now banned in schools and considered "inappropriate" for children. (I could write a whole post on how I disagree with this, but not today.) Mark Twain was one of the favorites of both her and I. She would use the accents, being from rural Alabama, her's was pretty good. Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer were two that I vividly remember. I developed a deep love for southern culture through those novels. I grew up in LA (lower Alabama) and every story that I've ever written has had some sort of southern flare in it. There's no place like home; there's no place like the South.

As I got older, I read a lot of Nancy Drew books and the Goosebump collection. Mystery, suspense, and spooky plot lines have followed me throughout my writing. My novel Realm of Desire  definately has some scarey/mysterious things going on throughout.

As a teenager, I fell in love with Little Women. I read it over and over again. My name was in that library book so many times that I'm sure they thought I was the slowest reader ever. I would turn it in and check it right back out. Jo stole my heart and egnited my desire to become a writer. I won't even mention how many times I watched the movie. lol It remains my favorite book, and sadly, I've never even owned a copy.

In my senior year in high school, I discovered Jane Eyre. I read that book cover to cover in a week. I loved the supernatural (or so we thought) feel of it, the realness, the desire, the sadness... ahh... it's still one of my favorites. That same year, I also discovered Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. The slight aversion to reading I had developed in high school was all over with then. I couldn't read enough of Austen's work.

My first novel takes place in the 1880s, and it reads much like a Bronte/Austen book except that I've added the southern flare of Mr. Twain. lol

I never would have thought that all the things that I read as a child/teen would have affected my writing style so much. I owe a lot to these authors that have graced the pages of my life.

What authors have made the most impact on your writing?

Top photo by Photl. All other photos provided by search.

Everyone's a Critic: A Review of the Reviewer

I'm currently taking a Literary Criticism class, and I recently wrote a paper on Alexander Pope's Essay on Criticism. While doing the research necessary to write the paper, I felt like sometimes he was speaking right to me. The essay mostly attacks critics by saying that they are not worthy of being a critic because they are not knowledgeable enough in writing, the author, and the classics. His expectations were high.

We are all critics, and I now realize what an important role that is. I'm a member of Goodreads, and I enjoy posting my thoughts on the books I read. I noticed the other day that my average star rating for the books I read is 3.32 out of 5. That disappointed me. Why am I so harsh? I noticed that I had not given one book 5 stars, even my favorites. (I have since went back and reevaluated some of my original ratings.) I could chalk up my defiance to giving a perfect score to the fact that I'm an English major, and I've had very few teachers ever give perfect scores even when I've had a mark-less paper. BUT I'm not going to go the easy route. I'm going to evaluate myself. I am a perfectionist, as much as I hate to admit it. I always see room for improvement. The worst part of it all is that this makes me my own worst critic.

It's so easy for us to flash our stars, not caring about what that recommendation may do to the work itself, not to mention the author. A critic's job is so important. What a critic says can make or break a book and its author.

The author of the dictionary, Samuel Johnson once said:

Criticism is a study by which men grow important and formidable at very small expense. He whom nature has made weak, and idleness keeps ignorant, may yet support his vanity by the name of a critic.  (The Idler no. 60)

Those are some strong words. As critics, there is "very small expense" in judging harshly; however, I believe that those who love books lovingly review them. The lesson that I take away from all this study on critics is that we should chose our words, ratings, and recommendations very carefully, and if you're a writer, like me, you know that at some point you will be sitting on the other side of the table.

 Photo by Photl.

Psalms of Me: My FREE E-book

Hi, friends!

I'm really excited to share with all of you my poetry collection entitled Psalms of Me. It's been a long time coming. The book has been sitting on my computer for a long while now. It's available for download for most e-readers, and it can be downloaded onto your computer as well. If you like it, please feel free to share it with your friends, families, and/or blogs. The best part of it all is that it's FREE.

Find it here.

Don't forget to tell me what you think! :)

A Picture is Worth 300 Words: Writing Exercise

Last week, in my Creative Writing class, we had a fun little exercise that I couldn't wait to share with you. It was inspired by our book Master Class in Fiction Writing by Adam Sexton. It's one of the best books I've read on writing. I highly recommend it.

The exercise was to take a photo with our camera phones of people (without getting caught, beat-up, or arrested). lol We had to go incognito for this one. Then we were to describe the people as best we could in approximately 300 words. Here was mine:

In a crowded restaurant a young couple sits at a small table for two. His eyes flutter from person to wall to table, as hers stay focused on her salad. He stuffs bread sticks and pasta hurriedly down his throat, as if there is some race to finish. She shuffles her greens from one side of the plate to the next. The only time her eyes flash up to his is when she reaches for her water. Her diamond sparkles in the dull lighting on the Italian restaurant. They’re married? They send a mutual forced smile each other’s way. He breaks the stare before she does.

He’s dressed nicely with the exception that his button up shirt is not tucked into his slacks. She wears a wine colored dress that looks new or maybe it’s just well-pressed. Her face is fancied with loads of makeup, too much rouge, as if inexperienced. Her heeled feet sit crossing at the ankle like a real lady.

She wipes the bright lipstick off the empty wine glass carelessly with her manicured fingers, and occasionally tugs at the bottom of her curled hair. He is still oblivious to her solemn demeanor and seems content that way.

They both sit mostly silent, with the exception of the occasional sentence to the waiter, for the entire meal.

What happened? Why is she so sad?

I glance back at my husband, who has been talking every minute that his mouth is not full of food, and smile.

When doing this exercise, we were to focus on four types of descriptions:
1.) Concrete
2.) Specific
3.) Original (no cliche' descriptions; i.e. raining cats and dogs)
4.) Careful (choice of words)

I thought this was a unique way to capture not only what we were seeing but what we were thinking too. It also captures a bit of the narrator's character. There's so much you can learn from a short bit of writing. Maybe a good saying is, "A thousand words have a million meanings."

Read you later, friends! 

Photo by Photl.

Ode to the Simple Life: How to Make Your Own Laundry Detergent

Quick post today. This is a bit off-topic for me, which I usually try to avoid, but I'm doing some shameless promo for my other blog Ode to the Simple Life. My husband and I have been having a crazy journey while trying to escape from the ever-sticky grasp of debt, and the blog is following that journey. We are also remodeling a lake house that we bought for practically nothing, which is also documented on the blog. We'd love to have you stop by, take a look, leave a comment, and follow us while we learn how to live more simply.

Today's post was about how to make your own laundry detergent. Click here to find out more.

Please excuse my digression from my usual writing posts.

Many blessings!

Words for the Moment

I have been feeling a bit restless with my writing lately. I've had a few things published, but my dream is to get one of my novels out there. I know that in order to make that happen I should be sending out queries, contacting agents, and revising to perfection my novel, but with this being my senior year in college, it's hard to find the time to do that. I sometimes have trouble pushing my way through this stagnation, but always when I'm feeling like this, some divine intervention takes place and helps me back to my feet. Today I was reading some personal letters of John Keats (one of my favorite poets), and his words jumped out as if he had wrote that letter to me. In the letter he wrote a little poem which ends like this:

O fret not after knowledge - I have none
And yet the Evening listens - He who saddens
At thought of Idleness cannot be idle,
And he's awake who thinks he's asleep.

I can't think of anything that I needed to hear more today. I'm not sitting around like a bump on a log doing nothing to further myself. I'm not asleep. I'm awake; and I'm learning. I shouldn't about not doing enough. It is just not my season yet, but there is a season for everything (Ecclesiastes). For now, I will just enjoy the writing process.

I found it incredibly reassuring that he thought the same thoughts that I think sometimes: What if it never happens? He gives the best answer, and I will choose to respond to that question the same way:

I feel assured I should write from the mere yearning and fondness I have for the Beautiful even if my night's labours should be burnt every morning and no eye ever shine upon them.

Amen to that. We have to write because it's who we are. It's not what we do. We were created this way. We write in order to live fully.


Photo by Photl.

Meet my Friend - Procrastination

Hello blog friends!

This week I have a deadline. By Sunday, I need to have written a fairly lengthy short story for a creative writing class. I have the idea in my mind (and a little on paper), but I'm having a difficult time just sitting down and knocking it out.

I have been wasting time re-doing my blog. You like? lol

Every time I go to sit down and write or do any kind of homework, my long-lost friend, Procrastination shows up and keeps me so distracted that I rarely get anything done. So, here's my question for all of you on-your-A-game people out there (if there are truly any that actually exist), how do you stay focused? What are some helpful tips that you've found that keep you on track with your writing?

Here's a few quotes that I've found that fit my situation perfectly. These are for all of us sometimes-more-than-we-admit procrastinators!

"My evil genius Procrastination has whispered me to tarry 'til a more convenient season." -Mary Todd Lincoln

"Procrastination is like a credit card: it's a lot of fun until you get the bill." -Christopher Parker

 Cheers to kicking Procrastination to the curb! :)

Read you later!

Photo by Photl.
Quotes from BrainyQuote.