Thursday, October 28, 2010

Anniversary Edition - A Year of Spectacular Postings

Photo by L. Fernandez
Pen & Ink is One Year Old!

In honor of our anniversary, we are offering a Peer Review Critique!
We build our email list. You get a critique of the first three pages of your current MS. Everybody wins.

We are not agents nor editors, we are writers, we understand how you feel. We know sometimes, a new pair of eyes works wonders.

In these tough economic times, it's nice to know that some things are still free!

This limited time offer begins November 1st and ends November 30th, 2010

What kind of critique?

That depends on which one of us does the critique. We all have different strengths.

Hilde G. the quietest member of our group, will search for voice and help you strengthen it.

Lupe F. caresses characters, palpitates plots, and strokes styles. Satisfaction Guaranteed. Outcall Service Available.

Sue B. often swirls your thoughts around in her magic teapot and puts them in a new order.
Kris K., the picture book writer and sanest member of our group excels at logic problems, fact verification and all things grammatical.

  • Must be first three pages of your story.
  • One story per author.
  • Please do not submit unedited Nano Pages.
  • Submit to Put Critique request in the subject line.
  • Provide us with your name, email address, genre and a brief synopsis in an email and then attach your document.
Happy Writing!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Write A Novel Month

Susan Berger
November is officially Write a Novel Month
(Thirty days and thirty nights of literary abandon)

In 1999, Chris Baty and a group of friends got together and challenged each other to write a novel of 50,000 words of more in ONE MONTH. Why? Who knows? Crazy!

But seven people completed the challenge. They did it again the next year with more people… This is the eleventh year of the marathon. It has become an international event. In 2009 167,150 people signed up. 32,178 people completed their 50,000 word count. I was one of them.

I first participated in 2004. When I heard about it, my thought was “No way!” The longest piece I had ever written was 16,000 words. Then I went on the Nanowrimo website. I bought Chris Baty’s book. “No Plot No Problem” and I decided to give it a shot. 

It was an amazing experience. What I had given myself was a gift – a deadline. 

I gave myself a daily stint of 2000 words. Often I would look at what I wrote and say, “This is awful!” Then I would say, “Never mind, it is word count. Keep writing.”

I silenced my inner editor and on November 29th 2004, I had a 50,000 word first draft of a YA novel. I made new friends, and had an amazing experience.

The odd thing about the experience was that the 2000 words per day on the novel seemed to fuel my other writing. 

I started Nanowrimo again in 2006. That time, I did not complete the book. But I still go back to it. I am glad I started it. No one (including me) gave me a bad time about not finishing.

On November 3rd 2009, I started Nano with not an idea in my head. But if you show up at the page…I ended up with a novel called Second Chances which I hope to pursue to publication. I was lucky enough to have Kelley Armstrong critique the first 40 pages. I am working on her suggestions.

Nano now sends pep talks from established authors. I was amazed by how many of my favorite authors gave pep talks. I LOVED getting those emails

Have any been published? 

NaNoWriMo books have borne the logos of presses such as Warner Books, Ballantine, and Berkley Books. Published novels include, Sarah Gruen's Flying Changes, Rebecca Agiewich's Breakup Babe, Dave Wilson's The Mote in Andrea's Eye, and Gayle Brandeis's Self Storage. This is a link to the Nanowrimo FAQ on their published stats.
Go ahead! Give yourself an adventure.
Look around the site and see if it appeals to you.

Once you sign up for Nanowrimo, you will want to “customize” your experience. 
  1. Set your region. Mine is Los Angeles. I attended several “write outs” in my area. We met at coffee shops and libraries.
  2. Set your forums: There an active online community for your genre. Check which areas you want hidden or visible. Far down the list are “Genre Lounges” There is a lounge for Young Adult and Youth. There are a lot of lounges you may prefer to keep visible.
There are other things to do on the site, i.e. set up your “Author Information, upload a picture. Watch the Nano video on October plotting. I once thought 50,000 words in a month was impossible. Now I know I can do it.

Trick or Retreat

Lupe Fernandez

Last month, I attended the SCBWI Writers Retreat in Palos Verdes. Inspired by the dedication of the staff and attendees, the Planning Dept. of Pen & Ink submit for your consideration a modest proposal. Sure, you got your Esalen, Big Sur, Rocky Flats, Edwards Air Force Base and any number of Superfund sites, but you've never seen a retreat such as:

The Official Pen & Ink Writers Retreat Complex

1) Critique Rooms - Padded walls, ergonomic chairs, and big clock with timer; separate offices for Resident editors, agents and therapists

2) Communal Dorms - Married personnel only

3) Critique Rooms - Padded walls, ergonomic chairs, and big clock with timer; separate offices for Resident editors, agents and therapists

4) Communal Dorms - Single personnel

5) Ocean Beach - White Sand; Activity Director on station to cater to all aquatic needs

6) Mental Health Center – Physical Therapy, 24 Hour Doctor, Primal Scream Enclosure, Yoga Discipline, Private Massage Bays, and 24 Hour pharmacy

7) Bike and Jogging Path - Clockwise on even days, Counterclockwise on odd days

8) Information Center – Laptops with Internet access, high volume color and b/w printers; only this location allows outside electronic contact

9) Amphitheatre -Live performances, readings

10) Fruit Trees – Fresh snacks ripe for picking

11) Tower Scrambler – Jams all radio transmission for all cell phones, laptops, Crackberries, telegraphs and passenger pigeons

12) Helicopter Pad - Transportation for personnel who don't like the submarine

13) Submarine Grotto - Access to complex via submersible

14) Forest and Hiking Trails – Get away from everyone and mediate or fight bears

Registration begins as soon as the Planning Dept. inherits several million dollars to bribe public functionaries for construction permits, right-of-way access, misplacement of property titles, and the suspension of certain UNESCO World Heritage Designations.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Mad Hatter Day

by Susan Berger

October 6th is listed in the Holiday Insight Calendar as Mad Hatter Day.
Why? In Alice in Wonderland, the original – the mad Hatter wore a hat that had a white slip that said 10/6. This referred to the price of the hat (Ten Shillings and sixpence) but someone thought it would make a good holiday.

I like it.

In honor of Mad Hatter Day here is some writing advice from Lewis Carol’s Characters. 

March Hare
Why don't you start at the beginning?

King of Hearts
Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end: then stop.

The Gryphon
Adventures first...explanations take such a dreadful time.

Speak English! I don't know the meaning of half those long words, and I don't believe you do either!

What is the use of a book, without pictures or conversations?

Read the directions and directly you will be directed in the right direction.

The Duchess
Everything's got a moral, if only you can find it.

The White Queen
Sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.

And then comes the critique….

The Red Queen
Sentence first -- verdict afterwards

I don't believe there's an atom of meaning in it.

I think I should understand that better, if I had it written down: but I can't quite follow it as you say it.

The Mock Turtle
What is the use of repeating all that stuff, if you don't explain it as you go on? It's by far the most confusing thing I ever heard!

It would be so nice if something made sense for a change.

How you feel after the critique?

I wonder if I've been changed in the night? Let me think. Was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I'm not the same, the next question is 'Who in the world am I?' Ah, that's the great puzzle!

On October 17th Kris Kahrs and I will be attending and SCBWI event called “Down the Rabbit Hole.” We will board a train at Union Station and journey to San Juan Capistrano.

Dawne Knobbe and Svett Moondog of Infuse the Muse
will stir our creative juices and we will come home replete with great ideas.

Here is a Mad Hatter exercise:. Take a saying. i.e. “skeletons in the closet” “Glass houses” and write about is as if it was real. Here is a link to a list of proverbs

Happy writing!