Monday, April 30, 2012

Text Holders for Writers

by Lupe Fernandez

In March, I attended an SCBWI seminar on graphic novels. Among the many facets I learned about graphic novels, I learned illustrators used different kinds of balloons for speech . Here are some examples:

Standard Text Balloons
What if we writers had our own balloons, balloons that would appear while we work, to hold the words that frequently spring from our minds? Here are some examples:

And some extreme examples...

...which I'm sure none of our readers would ever think:

How about you, dear reader?
What kind of balloons do you imagine holding your mental text?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Rejection Junction
What’s Your Function?
Picking Up Authors and Writers and Clauses…

by Hilde Garcia

What to do while I wait for a reply or a contract or a rejection letter?
  1. Eat chocolate
  2. Clean your garage
  3. Organize the sock drawer
  4. Stalk your editor on Facebook- no wait, only in my dreams
  5. Post on your blog
  6. Eat more chocolate
  7. Watch a movie
  8. Pretend not to care
  9. Look in my mailbox every day, every hour, (not my real mailbox, the electronic one)
  10. Relax and start a new project- hah, easier said than done.
So, the hard part about waiting is waiting.  It makes no sense, but my mind won’t let go of all the expectations I have for that manuscript once it left my hot little computer. 

I fantasize about what might happen, the famous people I will meet, the loads of money that I will earn.  I hope I am like a breakout author who has instant success.  I dread rejection, I mean, how dare anyone say something is wrong with my work.

Maybe I should occupy my waiting time with writing?

Jane Yolen said it best when she says rule number one is “B. I. C. - butt in chair.”

There is nothing I can do, no amount of hoping that will make the process go faster or change the outcome of my project.  I find that after I sent out my story, feeling confident I will get a quick reply- (it’s been 3 months, should I worry?)- I can’t even think of another story.

It’s like my mind is stuck on the one I sent out because I haven’t had closure with it yet.  How can another idea pop into my head with that open wound?  I say wound because until it is published and making me money, it won’t seem like it’s healed.

The hard part for me is the idea. This was my first novel, my first attempt at writing and even being part of a blog and a critique group.  I had a solid and great idea.  I turned it into a book with my group’s help. I got people interested in it and sent it off as requested.

I felt bold.  And boom, now what?  I got nothing.  Will my group think I am a fraud? A one hit wonder?

So, what to do when you send the manuscript out? 

Write, write and write! 

Even if it never sees the light of day, if I keep putting one word in front of the other, something good is bound to develop. (Right? Someone please tell me this is true.)

In the meantime, I will eat chocolate and organize my sock drawer (and yeah, keep writing.)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Desk Cat:
The Ultimate in Writing Accessories

by Kris Kahrs

Fashionable trends rarely escape our notice here at The Pen and Ink Blog and when we were recently gifted with a store model of the hottest new thing to hit the writing world since the pencil sharpener – well, we could hardly hold our water.  (Except for Lupe, of course, who realizes these breathy pieces are his cross to bear.)  Dear Reader, I am talking about the Desk Cat, of course!

These fabulous pieces of four-footed, furry, feline fun come in a multitude of designer colors, shapes and sizes. I am told by the Desk Cat manufacturer, Cat In A Box Inc. that we have Jimmy Choo to thank for the stunning compact shape.  I also understand that the company’s goal this year is to put a Desk Cat on every writer’s desk by the end of 2012.  An ambitious goal indeed, considering the piles of manuscripts, books and computer hardware that clutter up our writing areas on a daily basis.

The company’s claims about the Desk Cat seem almost too good to be true.  They claim that Desk Cat can relieve stress, act as a paperweight and reduce your heating bill.  This consumer reporter admits to being a bit skeptical after hearing all of the product’s claims.  After all, how many products designed for writers can provide health benefits, be an office supply and be ‘green’ at the same time?  So, when we received our free sample, Pickles, naturally I wanted to be the first to try the product out and I am thrilled to report to our writing brethren that the Desk Cat product actually does perform as advertised.

The Pickles model came in a bold orange-y color and while not the color I would have chosen for myself, did coordinate nicely with my iphone case. Pickles issued a pleasing, whirring sound which I could not locate until I checked the user manual and found out that our model came with a ‘purring box’ already installed.  I couldn’t find the batteries so how it works is anyone’s guess. Immediately upon opening the box, Pickles promptly jumped on my desk and proceeded to hold down every available bit of paper! In the interest of disclosure, we did receive the newest and largest – 20 lb.—size.  However, no one will be able to find fault with the sheer enthusiasm with which Pickles engaged in his duties. As for the cost savings to be captured in heating, I can honestly say that with Pickles on my lap, I felt a good 10 degrees or so warmer.  I was astounded at the heat production and still can’t find where the battery compartment is located.

So, there you have it SCBWI confreres.  We highly recommend the Desk Cat for writers as the latest desk accessory that will add pleasure and style to your working environment.

Monday, April 9, 2012

How to Deal with Rejection - The Sequel

It has come to the attention of The Management that in these uncertain economic times, coping with manuscript rejection notices has become fraught with peril. We submit as cautionary tales certain correspondence we have received here at the Pen And Ink Blogspot virtual office. Name and places have been changed to protect our reputation.

Dear Pen And Ink,
I got a rejection letter from XXXXX at XXXXXXXX and I can’t stop eating soap. What should I do? Not just any soap. I shop at a soap boutique and a bar costs $20.00 per ounce. My previous rejection letter from XXXXX at XXXXXXX and XXXXXX caused me to lick stamps. I need help.
Dial Dilettante
Dear Dilettante, 
Ease off on the boutique soap by wrapping cheap generic soap bars in the expensive boutique wrappings. This will trick your despairing mind into thinking you’re still consuming expensive soap without the actual cost. We also recommend a good anti-acid.
The Management

Dear Pen And Ink,
XXXXXX from XXXXXXX sent me a polite response saying that my manuscript was not right for them and that the Restraining Order is effective as of today. I think this is unfair. The rejection notice, I mean, not the Restraining Order. I think I over did the emailing every day to XXXXXX asking, “Did you read it yet?” It’s not like I drove by XXXXX’s condo and camped out in the car with a Zeiss Infrared Telescopic 444H Camera aimed at their window. How can I get back into XXXXXX’s good graces?
M. Surveillance
Dear Surveillance,Wow! A Zeiss Infrared. Does that come with a covert illumination at 950nm wavelength? Uh…naturally, we don’t condone this sort of behavior – unless it’s our Mexican-In-Residence; he’s a little creepy when it comes to observational behavior. Oh sure, he says he’s doing research but we think…well – and we strongly advise you observe the terms of the Restraining Order.
The Management

Dear Pen And Ink,
Which one of you is Ink?
Pencil Looking for Mature Eraser
Dear Pencil,
Did you have a question?
The Management

Dear Pen and Ink,
Life has no meaning. I’m giving up the letter M and the sound chkka poh I write and I write and I write and what does it get me. The cat needs pajamas. The alligator needs new shoes. The living room pendulum needs varnishing. I don’t have enough time in the day or night to get all these things done. I’ve decided to seek a meditative retreat and regroup my thoughts and get in touch with my inner muse. Lately, my muse has been out late, partying with the wrong crowd and coming home reeking of Christian Dior. I think it’s time to end this relationship, but I still want to be friends.
Unrequited Unicycle
Dear Unrequited,
Now is not the time to rush into life changing decisions. One of our group – we won’t mention any names but you know who we’re talking about – gave up the letter O after a most severe query letter critique. He … or she… had to perform a great many Search and Replace functions on his…or her… manuscript accepting back the letter O. As for your dysfunction muse, we suggest a 12 Step Program. There’s no shame in seeking help. A certain member of our group – again we won’t mention any names but you know who we’re talking about – admits he…or she…is powerless over his/her muse.
The Management
As you can see dear reader, many are challenged in different ways with literary rejection. We would encourage you keep the faith and keep writing.

Of course, if you don’t find this posting helpful, then well…that’s okay…we’re not…sniffle, sniffle…offended or anything. We only wrote it for you with no personal gain, but it would be nice if you posted a comment sometime. If you really mean it, not like you feel sorry for us or anything. We won’t feel rejected. No we won’t. We promise not to look at our traffic software and track you down, those who read but don’t comment. NO. We won’t do that. Nope. Not us.

The Management

Monday, April 2, 2012

Illustratration Story Prompt - Results

by The Management

Congrats to our Story Prompt contestants! The Pen and Inkers and illustrator, Catherine Lee, had a very difficult time deciding on which text they liked the best. There was much hair pulling, hand wringing and latte chugging as we selected our favorites for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place. We are publishing them all here so all our readers can enjoy them too.

Now for the goodies: As 1st place winner, Mary Esparza walks away with Hilde’s famous chocolate chip cookies. Lesser mortals have killed for these.

Lora Mitchell in 2nd place is the lucky recipient of The Pen and Ink Blog t-shirt. Didn’t you just know we have our own?

In 3rd place, the talented Tanja (no last name given), will also make off with a The Pen and Ink Blog bookmark and pen.

We will send out emails to notify each of the winners personally, but if you see this and want to send us an address on where to send the swag, then please do so. Thanks!

1) Mary Esparza-Vela
A young sparrow headed for shelter one afternoon. A heavy storm was brewing and the dark clouds were ready to burst. He flapped his wings wildly and tried to maintain his balance. Suddenly, from out of nowhere, three unusual creatures appeared before his eyes. They had huge, round bodies and no eyes. As they glided by, their tails swished back and forth. The sparrow warned them about the storm but the strange beasts never said a word. They simply chose to ignore him. The little bird watched them scurry into the clouds and then they fizzled out. “Too bad,” he said. “I did try to warn them.”
2) Lora Mitchell
An array of colored balloons are bundled together waiting to be hung in the hay barn for Susie's birthday party. During the hustle and bustle of preparations, a brisk northern breeze loosens three balloons from its cluster and, as if delighted to be free, two of them sail away to play tag in the sky. The third balloon, a blue one, wavers to and fro on its own; its tail trailing behind in a lazy manner. When the breeze calms down, it floats to a powder landing and settles in the rafters near a haystack where newly-hatched Hummingbird chicks lay warm in their cozy nest of freshly-stacked grass and dry, golden hay. During the happy festivities, mother Hummingbird keeps close watch and circles the rafters to protect her brood. Frightened by the children's laughter and noisy squeals, she carries her sightless chicks one-by-one to a safe hollow in a nearby willow tree. In haste, she loses count and accidentally leaves the smallest behind. When Little Chick opens his bleary eyes, the first thing he sees is the stray blue balloon resting softly beside him and chirps out with glee, "Mama."
3) Nicole Popel
“I’m flying to the moon,” chirped Tweet as he sped past several lazy balloons floating in the afternoon sky. He could just imagine the headlines on the Bird Watcher Gazette: Astrobird Makes Space History! Small Sparrow does Moon Walk! Soon he would be shaking his wing with VIPs everywhere. Then, crash! Tweet got dizzy and began tumbling in the air.

4) Teri Fox
Clouds. You can't see them when you're in them.
Was there ever a song, 'Let's go fly a cloud?' Well, there is one now. It's delightful up here. I won't ever come down. Look. A baloon. And another and another. Ah, this is fun but I'm getting hungry and forgot my lunch. Will you bring me lunch? No? Can I come back on my cloud if I come down? Why not? Who wrote these rules? Let's change them so we can keep flying our clouds. Mmmm, that pizza smells good. Just one big bite. Think of it. Yum. I don't want to leave, but . . . Well, it's been nice flying with you. Bye.
5) Tanja
It was soon after he heard the Flight of the Bumblebee that Chickadee decided to experiment. After all, his type of hummingbird was smaller than a bumblebee, and he’d read somewhere that according to the laws of aerodynamics, the bee was not supposed to fly, and yet it did. Why, someone had even written a book about it. All his brethren and sisteren had hied off, out of the nest, days before. Yet he was afraid. They called him chicken, but he insisted that he was a hummingbird, like them… In the event, he waited until he felt the Empty Nest Syndrome… mother and father were off searching for grubs, siblings off to play in the Great Beyond, and then – he flew!
6) Kim
Planning a garden party is a lot of work. I had just stepped back inside my burrow to gather the tablecloths and streamers when I heard Sheila Sparrow calling "Gretel Groundhog, your balloooooons!" As I turned to look out the window, I saw Sheila and some balloons being whisked away by a powerful burst of wind. I'll never finish in time now!
7) Farida Mizra
“Invasion! Aliens!” called out the bee-watch-bird guarding the skies.
Three balloons were floating up.
Flocks and flocks of birds flew in immediately to drive away the invaders.
“Free at last! Free at last!” two of the balloons laughed as they bounced and waved upwards.
The third balloon was quiet as it trailed behind.
The birds looked curiously at the balloons.