Posted in Colleen, Writing Prompts

End-of-May Writing Prompts

As writers, we know deep down that one of the best ways to remember events (good or bad) is to journal about them. Even if these are words that will never be published, they can help inspire a good story down the line- or even act as some personal therapy.

May is a busy month in my house. This is the month where: school comes to a close, (down here in Arkansas), Mother’s Day, Riverfest, and Memorial day sneak up on you, and weddings are exploding. In my house, we’re also spending time celebrating my brother’s birthday and usually attending a graduation of sorts. Before you know it, the month has started and ended and PLOP! It’s June.

I wanted to take a moment to offer some reflections and journal prompts for this month. Who knows what they could inspire?


‣‣‣When did you notice the weather changed? Has it rained a lot this month? Is there damage or flooding in your area? Has this upset you?

‣‣‣Where did you travel this month? That doesn’t mean you had to leave the city or the state (or country). Did you go to a new restaurant or a theatre? Maybe you tried a new gas station or walked somewhere instead of drove your car. What were the sounds and scents and tastes? Give some good description about how you got there or who you went with.

‣‣‣Did something break this month? Did someone or something you love get hurt? Was there loss in your life this month? Maybe your pet got hit by a car or the dishwasher broke for the third time. There are ants invading your house and you’ve tried everything to fix the problem. Write about your frustrations. Write about how you plan on solving them. Make it comical if you’d like.

‣‣‣What is something you noticed about yourself in the past month? Maybe you realized your hair was getting too long and you needed a haircut. Maybe you saw yourself in a photo and realized just how tall your little brother looks next to you. You got a little insight into how people perceive you.

‣‣‣What’s a change you’ve made? It can be something small- like remembering to hang the towel back up on the rack or starting a new blog. It can be something big- like getting a tattoo or buying a house. What is something that you bought or did this month that was new?


I hope these get your minds moving. I know it’s easy to talk yourself out of doing a little writing each week, but don’t! It’s good for you! I hope your month has been pretty kind to you. Have a great weekend, guys!

Write on.
-Colleen

Personal Blog
Food Blog

Posted in Query and Submit, Revision

Submission Process with Jobe

I’ve been asked to take a look at the submission process, so here’s a handy list:

1. Finish writing your piece. Revise it a lot. Decide that it’s ready.

2. Pick 10 lit mags. You can find lists of accepting mags online or in print. Writer’s Market is a favorite, as well as Poetry Market. Buy at the beginning of each year or check out from your local library.

3. The best way to know if your story is going to be a fit is to read the guidelines and read an issue. If you never put any time, money, or effort into being a literary citizen, you can’t expect publications to fall over themselves for you. Also, don’t send your vampire erotica to a religious mag, or your religious piece to a vampire erotica mag. Et cetera.

4. Write a cover letter! Make it look good, even if it’s “just” online.

5. Write a bio! On the off chance that they want to publish you, they’ll often want a short bio.

6. Mail or email your piece out to these 10. Make a record of who you sent it to and when. Most places will say whether or not they accept simultaneous submissions, and it usually only matters if you are accepted, which should not be mathematically expected. Some places you may never hear back from. Some places you may not hear back from soon. Just keep writing, and just keep sending (new pieces to new places).

7. Collect your rejection letters. Print them out, pin them to the wall. These are proof that you are a “real” writer! Celebrate! Treat yourself! Post about it on Facebook! You’ve taken steps that most people don’t have the guts to take. You are the real deal. Hats off to you.

8. REPEAT!

When in short story mode, Murakami Haruki takes a week to write a short story, a week to revise it, then sends it out. What if you dedicated your entire summer to this process? Imagine how much better your writing would get! Imagine how much experience and confidence you’d acquire!

 

Jobe

Posted in Colleen, Reviews

It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

Here’s the thing: I’m a word person. To make it on my favorite books list, you have to write something that captures me with your words. In addition to writing a colorful story with in-depth characters and connection, I love quotes that stand out to me. I really like being able to see your words splashed allover the internet on tumblr posts and artistic banners for blogs.

I need characters to say profound things that touch my soul. I want you to make me think, learn, question. To me, personally, that’s what makes a good book. Unfortunately, It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini didn’t do much for me.

I had no expectations for this book. At first glance, I learned it was a story about a high school boy who suffered with depression. Doesn’t sound too bad, right? It could have some interesting insight, right? Wrong. (I should probably stop assuming things).

What bothered me most was the structure. The flow of the story is written more like a film script. Throughout, it is difficult to understand the dialogue/which characters are speaking. In the very beginning, there were few descriptive clues about Craig’s friends. There’s a scene where they’re all hanging out together, talking back and forth and we cannot visualize who is saying what. In the hospital, Craig is introduced to various patients and it’s hard to grasp an image of them. As he interacts with them throughout the book, I found it difficult deciphering who was who.

Another big frustration was lack of character development. I understand if you want to leave some things up to the reader to decide, but if you want me to connect with these characters and their struggles, I need a little more than surface knowledge. Now, maybe Vizzini intended for us to only get snippets of these characters- but I felt no connection to them. If they had all died in some kind of crazy hospital fire, I wouldn’t have felt any remorse. The most connection I felt was towards Noelle- and I still don’t really understand what happened to her besides the fact that school stressed her out.

That leads me to my third main frustration: Craig’s point of view. I just didn’t like it. I didn’t like being in the mind of a teenage boy’s mind. I didn’t like his obsessive thoughts about Nia. And overall, I didn’t understand him. I probably would have liked a story told from Sarah’s (Craig’s little sister) point of view better. It sounds like Craig was fine until he got stressed out- due to his new high school. So he spends 5 days getting help, and comes out of the hospital magically better… with a girlfriend. So girlfriends solve your depression? Meh. That’s what I learned from the book, anyway. I’ll stop my rant there. 

So, seeing as this was our May book club read, we decided to watch the movie instead of try to discuss the nonsense. Guys, the movie is a lot better. Yeah. I just said a movie is better than its book. I mean, it is not the best film in the world- but it’s humorous and does a nice job of setting up the plot and characters. Some things were cut out, but I was really okay with what they did. So if you’d like to save yourself some time, just go watch the movie.

That’s all for this Thursday! Thanks for reading.

-Colleen



Personal Blog
Food Blog

Posted in Random Round Up

More May Funsies with Jobe

Book Riot tells you how to Support Rad Lady Authors

Buzz Feed Books shares 51 Of The Most Beautiful Sentences In Literature, and Buzz Feed Life gives us 40 Inspiring Workspaces Of The Famously Creative (many of them are writers!)

And for your viewing pleasure, from The Reader’s Nook

5

Two from Title Wave

9

2

Tin House posted this beautiful pic of August Wilson

4

And here are these two jewels from Brain Pickings

North Brother Island, New York, NY

2

P.S. Have you eaten at South on Main yet? It’s a restaurant filled with typewriters!

Jobe

Posted in Colleen, Reviews

Horns by Joe Hill: Film & Book

A few months ago, my film-major best friend and I met up for dinner and a movie. Now, if you guys have film friends, you know they are capable of finding some of the most hole-in-the-wall bizarre movies ever produced. I am fully aware of this. And that night, as always, I had this in the back of my mind. Lo and behold, it was suggested that we go watch this movie with Daniel Radcliffe in it.

Now, if you know me, you know I am a Potterhead. No shame! With a brief summary of “it’s this movie about a guy who gets blamed for the murder of his girlfriend” I was game to try it. I like a good horror murder story.

Below are some short thoughts on film vs. book. I’m not giving a detailed summary because I don’t want to spoil it for you. I just want to emphasize how important it is that you read the book.

FILM:
Ig (main character) dated this red-headed girl named Merrin. They met at church as children. They have a third-wheel friend named Lee. In the beginning of the movie, Merrin has been dead for a year and Ig has been accused of killing her.

Ig has an older brother (Terry) who is kind of a trouble maker. He and his friend (Eric) like to blow things up with cherry bombs down at the docks. One day, (as a child), Ig goes with Terry and Eric down to watch them blow things up. For the last cherry bomb, Eric dares Ig to ride down a log rail naked. Ig does so and flies into the lake, bumping his head, and sinking under. Lee dives in and pulls him out. Ig receives the cherry bomb.

On the anniversary of Merrin’s death, Ig wakes up with horns on his head. Through trial and error, Ig learns that these horns basically make him a personal devil to whomever he speaks with. People tell him their innermost evil desires. Ig uses this newfound ability to attempt to solve Merrin’s murder case.

Without giving too much away, I’d like to note that the movie includes a lot of flashbacks. In one of them, Ig and Merrin are seen climbing into a treehouse. To me, the film implied that this treehouse was something they played in as children. Also, in my opinion, the film portrayed the main characters as mostly Ig and Merrin.

BOOK:
The book begins in a similar way but it quickly reveals so much more. I soon learned a lot of backstory on Ig and Merrin’s families. Of course I learned a lot more about Ig himself and what he was thinking- as is easier portrayed in a book. But what struck me most while reading the novel was just how important the characters of Terry and Lee are.

In the film, we don’t learn much about Lee’s home life. We don’t have details about his parents or his hardships. Terry does some pretty significant things that are overlooked in the movie as well. There’s a lot of backstory friendship between Merrin, Terry, Glenna, and Lee that unfortunately didn’t make it to the screen. Details about Merrin’s life in college are overlooked- as well as her relationships with her family members, Lee, and Ig.

In the movie, Ig, Merrin, and Lee meet as children. In the book, they are teenagers. Merrin is transferring schools and comes to Lee and Ig’s town. The three of them become good friends because Lee and Ig are already best friends from the whole life-saving incident back when they were children. Furthermore, about that tree house I mentioned… It really seemed like no big deal when I watched the movie. But holy cow! Did I MISS something?! I feel like that treehouse is a central focus of the entire novel. It all ties in to the horns and the dramatic scenes.


Overall, what I’m saying is that it is difficult to intimately know each character. And it is even more difficult to portray that in a film. We know that. We’re writers. So after I watched this movie, I was drawn to read the book and have some of my questions answered. I was thrilled to find so much more. I’m happy I read it! I encourage you to check it out if you’re into this genre. You’ll probably want to watch the movie first so you aren’t disappointed. But you never know. They each bring something unique to the table. I’ll stop rambling now.

Happy Thursday, guys!

-Colleen

Posted in Query and Submit

Want to Get Published but Don’t Know Where to Submit? Here’s How to Get Started, With Your Intrepid Sidekick, Jobe.

Okay. Everybody wants to get published, right? It’s a no-brainer? Bragging rights. Build a name. Buff the CV. And it’s just kind of an exciting idea. Somebody thinks my writing is so good they want more people to see it? Wow! But remember, it’s a process, and writing, revision, and rejection are all part of it. Don’t feel bad or hurt or angry if and when your work is rejected. Even FAMOUS writers get rejected! There are so many different reasons, too, and most of them aren’t even about you or your writing! Space, theme, timing, and which arbitrary staff or intern reads your ‘scrip. So chin up, and collect those rejections like badges of honor. Rejection is proof that you’re participating in the process!

A quick note on paying to submit: some writers refuse to submit if there is any fee. You do want to be careful of money-making schemes, especially contests. The choice is up to you whether you think it will be worth it in any individual situation. Personally, I’ll pay $3 but not $20, if that gives you an idea. And please keep in mind that I can’t personally vouch for any of the links or mags, so use your best judgement.

Without further ado, here’s where to get started finding lit mags (literary magazines) that are actively seeking submission:

Subscribe to Authors Publish Magazine to receive emails about current places to submit.

New Pages gives you the latest. Bookmark their classifieds.

There’s also Poets & Writers, especially this.

Here’s The Review Review.

Every Writer’s Resource boasts a full list, but make sure they’re currently accepting. I think that’s these.

And these might also help too: Freelance Writing, Writer’s Relief, Literary Mama, and Alabama Writer’s Forum.

That should be plenty to get you started.

Jobe
compiling the internet, so you don’t have to