Friday, January 13, 2012

It's time to say goodbye

Well, I think by now everyone has noticed that I haven't been blogging over here for a while. Between the blog at my website and my four jobs, I haven't had much time to give this blog the attention it deserves. So, unfortunately, I think it's time to say goodbye over here, at least for now.

I want to thank everyone so much for following this blog, entering contests and sharing wonderful comments. I am still blogging over at www.gabrielalessa.com and, as my editing business takes off (YAY!) I hope I get to work with each one of you wonderful authors who have kept me company over here. I had a great time at this blog and I really appreciate each and every one of you.

Maybe I'll manage to get this baby up and running again soon. In the meantime, I would love to have you over at the website, and you can always find me on Twitter and Facebook.

Thanks for reading! And keep in touch!

Best,
Gabi

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Guest post: Blogging - The Best Decision An Aspiring Writer Can Make, by Dee Anne Mason

If you're an aspiring writer, then you should be blogging by now. Blogging opens up a lot of possibilities and has lots of benefits too.

Where Should You Blog?

Let's start with where to blog. Even if you don't have your own blog, you can write for others. Guest blogging on this blog or other writing blogs is a good way to develop your blogging and writing skills. Many of the writing blogs you read will be open to guest bloggers, especially if you are part of the community and read and comment regularly, so don't be afraid to approach them.
If you're looking to spread your net a bit wider, there are a couple of good services that put would-be guest bloggers and those who want to publish guest posts together. MyBlogGuest is owned by Ann Smarty. It's free to join and you can browse the different categories of the forum and see what you'd like to write about. And Cathy Stucker's Blogger Linkup is a free mailing list where people offer and request guest posts. While neither has a category specifically for writing about writing, there's no rule that says you can't blog about other aspects of your life, such as parenting, travel or any of your hobbies.

The Next Step

While guest blogging is a great way to raise your writer profile, it will work even better if you have your own site to send readers to. When you guest blog, you get an author bio, and wouldn't it be great if people could visit your own writing website to find out more about you and your work? That's the reason why you should set up your own writing blog - and it's not hard to do. Many people start with a blog on Blogger or WordPress and then move later to a blog on their own domain. Whichever option you go for, you have lots of ways to customize the blog so you can show off your latest books.

Connecting With Your Audience

Not only does blogging get you into the writing habit (and remember, you don't have to blog only about your work in progress) but it connects you with a wider community of writers. Every writer is intrigued by how other writers manage their writing process, so other writers will come to your blog to talk to you about that. Your blog is also a great hub for your book marketing efforts, as you can give insights into what you are doing, where you are promoting, publishing options and so on. On the subject of marketing, once you have your blog you can spread your net wider by entering into social media. Book marketing is no longer about an interview on the traditional leather couch; writers have to do a lot of promotion themselves.

Let's Talk About Microblogging

Social media is another way to connect with your audience, and while you can use it without a blog, it's good to be able to talk to people in multiple places. Many people use Twitter to send short updates about their writing, to connect with other writers via the #amwriting and #writing hashtags, to follow chats related to writing and to encourage people to visit the content on their blog. Since Twitter specializes in short, 140 character updates, it's useful to continue the conversation on your writing blog.
You can feed your writing blog updates to Twitter automatically and can also do the same with other forms of social media. Facebook is a great place to create a fan page for your book. Since it has a wall where people can leave comments as well as the capacity to have a discussion forum, many writers find it a useful addition to their blog. Facebook gets traffic, which means more attention for your blog and your book.
One forum which some writers ignore is LinkedIn. Seen primarily as a business networking site, LinkedIn is another place where you can feed in your blog. The advantage of LinkedIn is its groups feature. There are dozens of groups for writers so it's another place to connect with them.
Your blog gives you a starting point for publishing content on social media and expanding your connections with writers and publishers. No serious writer should be without one.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Guest Post: Why Fan-Fiction is Still Literature, by Kate Croston

Going on with the awesome guest posts I've been getting, today we have a wonderful post by Kate Croston about fan-fiction, a genre becoming more and more popular. Haven't heard of it? Think Sharon Latham's Pride and Prejudice continues Books (Pride and Prejudice really has been one of the most popular books for fan-fiction lately). Still don't know what it is? Read Kate's post.

Kate Croston is a freelance writer, holds a bachelors degree in Journalism and Mass Communication. She writes guest posts for different sites and loves contributing cheap internet service related topics. Questions or comments can be sent to: katecroston.croston09@gmail.com.


Why Fan-Fiction is Still Literature

Most people don’t wake up one day and think, “I want to write a novel”. There is always something that inspires them to write. It may be a family issue, a work thing, a great book, or even, gasp, a movie. Every writer has someone or something that originally inspires them. Something that keeps the fire lit as they burn their way through the pages. You must have passion and dedication to write something well.
Have you ever watched a movie or television show and thought, “I would have ended that differently”? Have you ever thought about what happened to the characters after the film was over? Have you ever wished that the writers would have explored the relationships more deeply? Of course you have. But have you ever taken pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and created your own version of events? Then you’ve written fan fiction.
The red-headed child of entertainment and literature, fan fiction has long been considered low writing. It is almost impossible to make money off of it, especially since the whole idea behind it is ‘stealing’ other writer’s characters. In a sense, that’s completely true. Fan fiction, at its base, is the manipulation of pre-set characters by someone who is not the original author. This can be in the form of parodies, canon and non-canon fiction. But does that make it ‘wrong’?
Fan fiction has been around as long as there have been stories told. How many versions of Robin Hood have you heard? How about Goldilocks? How many romance novels are based on Jane Austen’s works? How about Sherlock Holmes? Sure, the names of the characters might change, but you know the stereotypes: the tall, dark and handsome man, the beautiful damsel in distress, all iconic characters. What separates those from the highly criticized fan fiction community of today? The fact that the writers love the characters so much that they don’t even want to change their names.
But I still haven’t proven to you that this is literature. What is literature? Literature stands the test of time. Literature is well-written. Literature has strong characterization and style. I cannot claim that all fan fiction stands up to these tests of literary merit. But nor can anyone claim that all published books stand up to those tests. There will always be ‘popcorn’ literature: things written for entertainment and a laugh. Does that make it something to be looked down upon? Of course not.
Think about it like this: you are taking something that’s already created, breaking it down into its most basic components, and then rebuilding it in the image that you choose. It is both harder and simpler than starting from scratch. You have to work around idiosyncrasies, explain gaps, and deeply understand motivations that you may very well have no background in. As a woman, how do you go about understanding the male thought pattern? How do you see his deeper motivations, why he reacts the way he does, and what causes him to express those emotions the way he has? This is where it gets harder. When you have your own characters, you can give them the sex, the background, the reactions that you understand. But when you take another’s character, and you really respect and want to honor that character, you must open your understanding to a new level.
Don’t you think that through this struggle, new writers learn the value of knowing their characters? Not to mention the new aspects that modern fan fiction has brought into the equation. The ability for readers to review, to give feedback and criticism, this helps a new writer; improves and inures them. But will it stand the test of time? Will anything? Have we experienced a web-only literature that has endured? Have we had time, yet, to really know? And who are we claiming remembers? If it is just a cult, a small group of devoted followers, does that make it less suitable than a large crowd?
Fan fiction may be the fuel, the original inspiration the flame, but it is the writer that keeps it going. If, by writing fan fiction, an aspiring writer begins a novel, a screenplay, do we begrudge them their art? Do we deny their ability? Do we mock their talent because it is not appropriate? Is fan fiction merely writer’s graffiti, or is it a mural never commissioned?
Fanfiction is what literature might look like if it were reinvented from scratch after a nuclear apocalypse by a band of brilliant pop-culture junkies trapped in a sealed bunker. They don't do it for money. That's not what it's about. The writers write it and put it up online just for the satisfaction. They're fans, but they're not silent, couch-bound consumers of media. The culture talks to them, and they talk back to the culture in its own language.
—Lev Grossman, TIME, July 18, 2011

Monday, September 19, 2011

Worst Movies Ever Blogfest



Alex J. Cavanaugh is hosting a very fun blogfest today, and since I haven't joined one of those in a while, I thought I should join this one. Rules are simple: just list up to ten of the worst movies you've ever seen and then comment on other blogs.

There are lot of bad movies out there, of course. But there are two that made me want to pull my eyeballs out. So, for lack of knowing how to narrow down the other ones, my list will be short. Here are the two movies I cringe just hearing the name:


My Super Ex-Grilfriend
Seriously. You see Luke Wilson and Umma Thurman and think, "ok, this will probably be cute." It's NOT. It's the most ridiculous movie ever. A jealous ex-girlfriend with super powers who decides to use her powers for evil when her ex starts dating someone else? Really? I kicked myself for ever renting it.


Beowulf
I never sleep in the theater. NEVER. But I did on this one. Actually, my fiancé, my friend and I all fell asleep (friend's boyfriend was the one who set us up on this evil trap). And quite honestly, I hope I snored. This was just awful.


So those are my two worst of all times. What movies would be on your list?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Guest Post: I Never Want to be a Writer, by Isabelle Mitchell

Continuing with the wonderful guest posts that are coming in, here's one from Isabelle Mitchell on calling yourself a writer. Yes, I have written about this, but when does it ever get old? It's hard to really call yourself a writer. So congratulations to Isabelle for taking the first step!

If you want to guest blog here, let me know. I'll be glad to have you over.

I Never Want to be a Writer

My name is Isabelle and I might be a writer. I don’t feel comfortable labeling myself a writer because I don’t even know when you can officially introduce yourself that way. At least I can check self-doubts and insecurity off the list.
So, when are you a writer? When you have at least one unfinished manuscript in your drawer? When you have published a book? When you have rejection letters underneath that unfinished manuscript? Do I need to read more?
I don’t know. It seems to be one of those professions where formal training alone will not do the trick. It’s a mysterious mixture of practice and determination, sprinkled with skills and topped off with some talent.
I did not say the part with the formal training because I never had any myself – apart from the usual classes at school. I never took part in writing competitions or wrote for school newspapers. I just love to write. I love taking words and putting them together in ways nobody has before. I love that my words have the power to make people think, laugh or cry. Or everything at once and within a paragraph.
It took me a long time to realize how much I love to write. When I went back to school I had to start writing papers again and that’s when it hit me: I can just sit down and write. Anytime, anywhere and about anything. It’s what makes me happy when I am sad and happier when I am already happy. I always have notebooks and post-its ready in case I have an idea. I sometimes get up at night just to write down a thought that I probably can’t decipher in the morning. Am I a writer or just a light sleeper with bad handwriting?
Rainer Maria Rilke once wrote, “Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depth of your heart; confess to yourself you would have to die if you were forbidden to write.”
I could be all dramatic and say that I would most certainly die if I was forbidden to write; that writing is my passion and that I love it more than anything else. It’s all true but to be honest: Writing is better than finding the perfect pair of jeans on sale while eating the most delicious chocolate cupcake and finding $100 in my purse - and look, the rain just stopped and this guy over there asked me on a date! Yes, that’s how great it is.
I don’t know if writing is my life but it’s a big part of who I am. I don’t know if I will ever be qualified to call myself a writer. I don’t really care and I will follow the wise words of Pico Iyer: ‘The less conscious one is of being “a writer,” the better the writing.’ I think he might be right and in that case I don’t ever want to be a writer.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Guest post: The Year of the Superhero, by Mary Mary



What was the last comic book you’ve read? Okay . . . How about this one. What was the last graphic novel you’ve read? Hm. Okay, I got it. What was the last superhero movie you’ve seen? If you had a quick answer (and perhaps it was the only question you answered) for question three, then you’re not alone. And chances are you’ve never picked up a comic book in your life. There’s a reason for that.

When most of us envision a superhero, we get flashes of those we’ve encountered on the Silver Screen. Perhaps you’re a diehard Tobey Maguire fan in his lovely spidey suit. Or maybe you had a thing for George Clooney and his nipple-busting Batman ensemble. Or perhaps you prefer the more recent fare – the well-sculpted Ryan Reynolds as the Green Lantern. Whatever your preference is, these characters first budded from the mind of creators who wanted to shape and mold a world both visually stimulating and with a storyline that would (hopefully)continue on for years to come.

In Hollywood and around the world, 2011 into 2012 will become the year of the Superhero. According to Screenrant.com, no less than nine superhero films will be released (and that’s not counting other geek-tastic fare such as Cowboys and Aliens, Mission Impossible IV, or Star Trek 2) during this time frame. That’s a lot of studio money being poured into Marvel and DC comics. But is there an audience for such films?

In order to answer that question, one first needs to look at the roots of the comic book and graphics novel industry. Unless you’re a diehard fan, most won’t recognize the first author of comic books, nor the first comic. In 1827 (Yes. 1827!), a Swiss named RudolpheTöpffer created the first known comic strip. His earliest known comic book, “The Adventures of Obadiah Oldbuck,” was released in 1837. Töpffer’s comic book was the first comic book to be published in the United States in 1842. He went on to publish seven graphic novels in his lifetime.

And the craze escalated from there!

Here are a few firsts:
• 1895 – Richard Outcault – first to use balloons, an outlined space on the page where the author writes what the character speaks, in a comic strip.
• 1896 – First Funny Book, “The Yellow Kid,” was printed into pulp magazine.
• 1900 – The terms “comics” and “comic strips” came into common use in the U.S.
• 1940 – “Brenda Star” – first cartoon strip written by a woman.
• New Fun – First comic book to have advertisements.

That’s all well and good, you might be thinking, but what about the SUPERHEROES!

The first mysterious character to be created by the minds of Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster was Dr. Occult /Dr. Mystic, which came out in The Comic Magazine in 1936. And the first worldwide costumed hero? Why, The Phantom, that’s who! The Phantom debuted on February 17, 1936 and is still going strong today under writer and creator Lee Falk. I don’t know about you, but that takes one heck of a creative mind to keep a world swirling around the edges of darkness and light for 85 years. I think any author out there would envy the longevity of Falk’s career.

But which superhero finally broke the mold and became the superhero of all superheroes? Flash Gordon? Batman? The Shadow? None of the above. In June 1938, Action Comics #1 came out with the only hero who could lift cars and throw them, leap tall buildings, bounce bullets off his chest and, yet, he had his kryptonite – Superman. Many were soon to follow. Batman debuted in 1939, along with Wonderman (who eventually fell off the map due to copyright infringements on Superman’s character). Marvel Comics debuted in 1939 with characters such as the Human Torch, The Angel, and The Masked Raider. And the list goes on and on.

In retrospect, one could say that 1939 was actually the year of the superhero. The year art and a fascinating storyline came together to create a phenomenon. Comics in the United States have been going strong for well over 100 years, and there still exists a voracious appetite for new installments. At least for the films. Prices for the written art form have skyrocketed from $0.10 in 1962 to $3.99 in 2010, and they’ve been relegated to the fateful “collectors” status (meaning, hard to find unless you’re a true reader, and overly expensive, to boot). Sure the characters of today are edgier and might cause a bit of controversy (just take a look at the newly unveiled half-black, half-Hispanic Spider-Man, Miles Morales, or the tightly-clad reboot to Superwoman), but in order to keep a genre fresh and an audience on the edge of their seats there needs to be a change-up from time to time.

And that’s how everything circles back around to 2011. The edgier superheroes are coming out of hiding. Batman has a darkness to him when once those films seemed like a crass joke with the Joker and his outlandish make-up lording it over cotton candy sets filled with ridiculously dressed characters (Poison Ivy anyone?). Even the newest Spider-Man installment (set to release in July 2012) fades to black around the edges with a new director (Marc Webb) and new star (Andrew Garfield) in the lead. That’s fine by me. I was never a big fan of Tobey Maguire to begin with.

And there’s still money to be made. When the top five grossing superhero movies of all time (The Dark Knight, Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man 3, and Iron Man) have been released in the last ten years, then you know that if the comic books themselves aren’t selling well today then at least the movies still are! Again, what was the last comic book you’ve read?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Guest post: Guest blogging is a great opportunity, by Julie Anne Lindsey

All week I've been thinking I need to get to the second part of those posts about Brazilian Literature. And all week I haven't had the time to do it. And I've felt guilty. And then today I got this guest post by my wonderful critique partner Julie Anne Lindsey, and I laughed out loud because it's so fitting! So I apologize for the delay on the post on Brazilian Literature. I haven't forgotten about it and I promise it's coming. In the meantime, I give you this great post by Julie!

GUEST BLOGGING IS A GREAT OPPORTUNITY!

I’m a guilty girl. I struggle and frizz my hair out over what to blog on every single day. Then, when I get more than one or two requests for a guest post I go into a full-on panic mode. What will I write about? What if I’m not interesting? Will they throw virtual tomatoes? You name it, I worry about it.

The thing is, thank heavens, after my complete freak out, I always rally. Based on a similar spaz-attack I had this week, I’ve decided to blog about guest blogging. Yes, it sounds nutty at first, but it needs done.

Guest blogging is a fabulous opportunity to you (and me) as a writer. Stopping by another writer’s blog moves us out of our comfort zone, and into the eyes of new friends. Writing is a tough road to choose and networking is the absolute best way to stay positive and motivated and …well happy. On the flip side, guest blogging gives the blogger you stand in for an extra day of writing without the burden of a blog post. SO, it’s a win-win.

Guest posting is a chance to think critically about what matters to you and how you can address those issues. Blogging is an issue for me. I try to be diligent and blog every day. In the midst of life and other writer-related responsibilities, it can be nearly impossible to find the time. This is where guest blogging becomes a Godsend. First, as I get guest bloggers, it frees me up and that is a priceless gift. I appreciate my guest more than I can ever express with words. I also appreciate hosts, like Gabi *hugs*. It’s through the fabulous network of writing blogs that I get away from my blog addy and out into the blogosphere. If it wasn’t for guest blogging, I’d never get away.

So, if you’ve ever considered guest posting, I implore you, please do it. Don’t be afraid to ask bloggers if they’d like a guest post from you. I promise they’ll SQUEE and dance over the gift. You can tweet your willingness or just hit the contact button on your favorite blog. If you don’t blog, this is an awesome opportunity to get your name and personality out there without the ongoing commitment of a blog. If you already blog, moving around will increase your traffic and widen your network. Guest blogging is too often underrated as a tool. It’s an opportunity. Grab hold! Carpe diem!


Julie Anne Lidnsey is a mama, wifey, reader, writer blogger, hopelessly addicted to YA, caffeine, social media and Poptarts. You can find her lurking around the Internet at all hours amped up on coffee & wielding a book. She's also the author of an upcoming romance series Seeds of Love for the Turquoise Morning Press & the Killer Confections Saga at kNight Romance. She's blogging her journey to publication at Musings from the Slush Pile, where she shares writing tips, author interviews, personal experience, and industry news.

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