Saturday, May 24, 2014

That's What She Read: The Brief Wondrous Episode

Oscar Wao Graphic

A new episode of That's What She Read (TWSR) went live last Tuesday, and if you like books, I reckon* there's something in there for you. Ravena and I sat down with Amy from Lemon and Raspberry and Megan from The Nerd Nest, discussing everything from superheroes and trickster gods to John Quincy Adams and Sherman Alexie.

I'm really enjoying our periodic "supper club" episodes and the opportunity to talk to other awesome readers. It should come as no surprise that my to-read list grows with each new episode. Megan's discussion of Burgess's invented slang in A Clockwork Orange immediately set me on the hunt for my own copy with the original British ending.

If you're interested in expanding your reading game even more, Amy has started the L&R Book Club, a "non-fiction, leadership/business/self-helpy/personal development" book club. In the latest episode of TWSR, she talks about their current selection, The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp.

"I love the idea that creativity is not mystical, that it's not that the muse is going to come down and anoint you with her powers. It's that creativity is a job, and you just need to get the structure in place to be able to leverage the creativity that you already have." - Amy T. Schubert

I would totally join this book club if I didn't dislike Facebook so much.

Even Ravena has me thinking about reading the Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne.

As for me, I'm still feeling gushy about The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (part of the amazing Indonesian cover above) by Junot Diaz. Listen to this mega, book-filled episode of the podcast to hear more about it and all of the other books we discussed!

*Why, yes, I did bust out the Texas vernacular.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Kara Walker is a fucking genius

This is what art is all about for me. It's the visceral, fuck yeah reaction you get in your gut from simply an initial glance. It's a message so fully formed that words aren't even needed.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

63 Distractingly Delightful Tips for Writers


A little over a week ago, a small group of friends and I held the kickoff meeting for a new writing group. Most of us are somewhere in our novel-writing journey, and this seemed like a way for us to both encourage each other and help each other grow as writers. Plus, if it's good enough for the Inklings, well, you know...

Our plan is to keep the group small at first in order to work out the kinks. Everyone is understandably nervous about sharing and critiquing work. We used our first gathering to discuss things like meeting frequency, what everyone hoped to get out of a writing group, etc., and we now have a name thanks to Scarlet! Introducing the Interrobang Writing Group. I've already learned something because I had no idea what an interrobang was. ;-)

At some point toward the end of the night, Abbie asked everyone where they found writing inspiration. The type-A overachiever in me decided to get semi-comprehensive about it and ended up pulling together a list of links for the group covering everything from general inspiration to feedback/critique to some nitty-gritty tools. I even included a spreadsheet I pulled together a couple of years ago with information on potential places to submit stories. After discovering I had 63 links* to articles, video, and audio, I decided to format it and will share it with my newsletter subscribers this week. 

Why am I telling you this? If you want a copy of these 63 distractingly delightful tips and my spreadsheet of places to submit your writing, you should sign up for my newsletter ASAP! Just enter your email address below, and I'll make sure you get a copy. Besides, the last edition of the newsletter included a yummy photo of Idris Elba, and who doesn't want that?

I want to go behind the scenes!

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*My favorite inspiration comes when I curl up with a good novel, and the best tip (IMO) is to just write.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Dream Thieves: Book Review and Podcast Update

I finally picked up the second book in the Raven Cycle, The Dream Thieves, and it was awesome!

In the follow up to The Raven Boys, Maggie Stiefvater once again transports us to the fictional town of Henrietta, Virginia (a town I'm convinced is set in the rolling hills somewhere between Charlottesville and Harrisonburg) where Blue and the boys continue their search for Glendower, a real medieval Welsh prince and warrior who led a revolt in September 1400 against English rule of Wales. He disappeared mysteriously in 1412. Though rumors of his death and burial location exist, it has never been confirmed, making him perfect fodder for spooky legends (e.g., being first immortalized by Shakespeare in Henry IV, Part 1). The Raven Cycle series takes the legend of sleeping kings approach wherein the king is not really dead but instead in a tomb waiting to be woken. In The Dream Thieves, whomever finds Glendower and wakes him will be granted a favor.

Can you tell I love the throwback to a real person from history?
The Dream Thieves is filled with legends and ley lines and talk of St. Mark's Eve/the corpse road, but there is plenty of real-life happening and kids just struggling to fit in. Where I feel The Raven Boys focused quite a bit on developing Blue into the fascinating, strongish female character that she is, The Dream Thieves focuses less on her and more on Adam and Ronan. In the sequel, we learn more about the consequences of Adam's sacrifice (vague because no spoilers) and a bit about what lies underneath Ronan's anger management issues. Seriously, these are some emo boys.

One of the things I enjoy about these books is Stiefvater's natural writing. These are teen novels, but I never felt like I had to make allowances for the quality of writing. She has created a vivid world, both real and imagined, and her words give me all the tools I need to visualize each wacky, beautiful thing.

If you want to hear more about what I've been reading the last month or so, check out the latest episode of That's What She Read, my bi-weekly book podcast with my friend Ravena. We release a new episode every other Tuesday, and we'd love for you to listen along. You can also join the book discussion over on the That's What She Read Goodreads group.