Wednesday, April 26, 2017

What Am I Reading Wednesday (4/26/2017)

I'm sure everyone has guessed by now, today's book is "American Gods"! With the show premiering in a matter of days, it felt only right to feature it as this week's What Am I Reading Wednesday selection.

Title: American Gods

Author: Neil Gaiman

First Reading: Honestly, I've lost count.

Initial Impression: I will never look at a roadside attraction the same way again.

Final Thoughts: The show premiers in 4 DAYS!


I know I've been building this up for several months now, everyone might be a little tired of me bringing up the "American Gods" novel, the television show, the author...but seriously, who could be tired of Neil Gaiman?

There's been enough publicity for the show that I'm sure everyone has a general idea of what the novel is about, however, here's my super-condensed version for anyone just tuning in:

- Shadow Moon (protagonist) is released from prison early, because his wife has been killed in a car accident.
- Shadow meets a cryptic man on a plane who calls himself "Mr. Wednesday", and says he wants to hire Shadow to be his bodyguard.
- Turns out, Mr. Wednesday is the physical embodiment of one of the Norse gods (guess who?), and there is a war brewing between the Old Gods (think any pre-modern god/goddess) and the New Gods (the gods of technology, fame, consumerism, etc.).
- It's Shadow's job to keep Wednesday safe while he rallies the old gods scattered across the United States. He's got his work cut out for him.

Want to know more? Of course you do!

I'm feeling very optimistic about the television adaption, at least based on the previews and casting choices. Of course, a few updates were made to catch some of the characters up from when the book was first published in 2001. I'm sure we'll have plenty to discuss next Monday after the premier!

About the Author:

(Photo Source: http://www.vulture.com/2015/08/neil-gaiman-miracleman.html)

Originally from Hampshire, UK, Neil Gaiman was a kid after my own heart. He's described himself as a "feral child who was raised in libraries," and that love of reading eventually grew into a writing career that has included: journalism, nonfiction , graphic novels, children's books/young readers, science fiction, fantasy, horror, film, and television. And he's not done! Gaiman's latest novel, "Norse Mythology" was just released in February 2017. Another one for the TBR List!

*phew!*

I'm not even going to try to list the many awards and honors Gaiman has received, however, if you're interested you can find a comprehensive biography and list of works on his official website. He's also active on Twitter, @neilhimself, if you'd like to follow him there.     

I recently found the below video of Gaiman discussing the origins of "American Gods", and thought it would be the perfect background piece to share before the show airs on Sunday (4/30).




Is everyone else ready for the "American Gods" series to begin? Do you think they'll stay true to the book? Let me know!

Monday, April 24, 2017

It's Almost Here! (American Gods Countdown)

Just a quick reminder that we have only 6 DAYS until the American Gods premier on Starz!

Are you ready?

Can you tell I'm excited? Can you tell how long I've been waiting for this?

Can you guess what Wednesday's novel will be??

(Ha! Wednesday. If you've read the book, you might get a chuckle out of that.)

Speaking of, has everyone gotten a chance to read the novel? Or, are you a fan of seeing the show first and then picking up the book?

In other 'AG' news, the official title sequence for the show has been released, and I'm not going to lie, it's trippyer (Is that a word? More trippy?) than I was expecting. Enjoy!




Saturday, April 22, 2017

BONUS POST: I'm Implementing Quarterly Goals!

Today, I'm taking (yet another) page out of author Jenna Moreci's book.

Ha..."Out of her book" and she's actually got a book published...see what I did there?

I've been watching Jenna's 'Quarterly Goals' updates for quite a while now, but no matter how many times I said to myself, "I should start doing this!", it never stuck.

Procrastination-1, Me-0

Then I realized the key difference between Jenna's quarterly goal method and mine: She publicizes her goals (via her YouTube channel), and holds herself accountable for anything she doesn't accomplish. Writing down my goals, but not sharing them with anyone or taking stock of what I did each quarter, was the perfect excuse to let them slide, whether I meant to or not. In an effort to set, and stick to, my quarterly goals going forward, I'll be posting them here on The Writing Desk! At the end of each quarter, I'll follow up on which goals or tasks I accomplished, and which ones still need a little work. The point is to keep myself on task and increase my writing productivity.

Let's start off with the one major goal from 2016 that I managed to accomplish: Getting my first short story published! This is happening! My short story, 'Set Them Free, If Need Be', was accepted for publication at the end of last year and will be included in a mystery/thriller anthology coming out this summer. The editor described it as "very creepy...in all the right ways", and I'm beyond excited to share the final release information once it's confirmed by the publisher.

Now, on to my goals for the second quarter (Q2) of 2017! Since we're already about one third of the way through the quarter, I won't be giving myself as many goals as I might going forward. If i can accomplish at least half of these, I'll be feeling pretty damn good about myself.

2017-Q2 Goals:

1) Plan and outline my weekly blog posts for the rest of the quarter. (Not counting Bonus Posts, because those suckers just pop up sometimes!)
2) Finish outlining my currently untitled Book Project #1. Yes, I'm moving away from short stories and novellas, and finally focusing on my first novel!
3) Write the first 10,000 words, minimum, of Book Project #1.
4) Announce the release details for the anthology that 'Set Them Free' will appear in. (As soon as the publisher confirms.)
5) Take the short story I finished earlier this year and submit it to my next critique group meeting. Yes, I'm focusing more on my book now, but the story is already written so...why not?
6) Find a competition or publication and submit the above story. Again, why not? It's more of a near-future/science fiction story, so any recommendations are welcome!
7) Clean out my home office (again) and reclaim my writing space.
8) Examine my current writing schedule, which is in kind of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants situation right now, and see if I can come up with a more stable plan.
9) Look into joining Skillshare. If this goes well, we'll have a Writing Resources post to discuss!
10) Find three new methods of utilizing social media to better connect with the online writing/reading community.

There you have it, my first set of publicly declared quarterly goals!

Do any of you out there in Blog Land utilize this method? If so, has it made you more productive? I'd love to discuss the pros and cons.

Also, if you're interested, you can check out Jenna's latest quarterly goals update below!




 


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Where Would I Be Without My Critique Group? + A Sneak Peek

It's a subject we've touched on before: The importance of getting constructive feedback on your writing, specifically with a critique group.

Of course, beta-reading is also an important part of the process, but that's an entirely different animal. You generally won't know all of your beta readers personally, whereas your critique group ideally should be comprised of writers whose opinions and skills you trust.

I found my critique group through a local writers' organization that I joined in 2014. (You should absolutely find the writing group/organization that best fits you! The networking benefits alone are worth it. But that's a topic we can delve into another day.) I'd been a member of the organization for a few months, when I was approached after our monthly chapter meeting. (She knows who she is!) Had I ever been in a critique group before? Nope. Was I interested? Absolutely. Did I feel comfortable letting a group of people I didn't know very well read my writing and tell me their opinion? Um...next question?

Really, I was making myself more nervous about this than I had to be. It wasn't a large group, and (part of) the point of writing a story is to have someone else read it, right? There's no guarantee you'll groove with the first group you attend, (I was lucky!), it might take you a few tries, a few different groups of writers before you find the one that gives you the most valuable feedback on your work.

I'm not saying a critique group is a requirement, or that you must belong to one your entire writing life. What I want everyone to take away from this, especially if you're just starting out as a writer or have been writing for a long time but haven't really shared your work with anyone, is the potential value that can come from letting other writers read and constructively review your work. Writers will come up with notes or questions that you might not have even thought of. That's not to say that you have to agree with everything your critique partners point out either, the goal is to have that alternate point of view available if you need it.

My critique partners have also encouraged me to submit my stories to contests and publications, (Did I mention my first short story will be published soon? I know I did!), and have always been available to answer questions about different publication avenues.

Plus, they call me out on my chronic punctuation mistakes. Ugh...hyphens.

What has your experience with critique partners been? Are you excited to send your pages in before each meeting, or is the peer critique not part of your process?           

It's Sneak Peek Time!

If you've been following along for the last few months, this probably won't be difficult to guess.

Boom!
Can you guess what book we'll be talking about next Wednesday? Hint: What event have we been counting down to here on The Writing Desk?

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Writing Resources: The Self-Publishing Podcast

It's no secret that I love a good writing podcast. When I find one I like I'll listen while I'm working, driving, grocery shopping...Pretty much any excuse to pop the headphones in, I'll take it.

Last year I was deep into the archives of the Writing Excuses Podcast, and shared it here on the blog as a writing resource. Now that I'm caught up and can listen to the new episodes as they come out, I've started listening to the first episodes of The Self-Publishing Podcast!

Source: https://sterlingandstone.net/series/self-publishing-podcast/

Podcast Title: The Self-Publishing Podcast

Hosts: Jonny B. Truant, David Wright, & Sean Platt 

Year Created: 2012

Average Episode Length: 1 hour

Schedule: Every Wednesday 

Unlike the authors behind the Writing Excuses Podcast, who are all traditionally published (and also sometimes indie/self published), all of the Self-Publishing Podcast authors are...well...self-published! This brings a new angle compared to podcasts hosted by traditionally published writers. Not making either one better than the other, but still covering a range of topics that any author will have to take into consideration if they pursue this avenue of publishing. Some early episodes that I've found especially helpful include: "How to Find Your Ideal Reader" (SPP #132) and "How to Stay Motivated and Produce" (SPP #136).

In addition to the podcast, the three hosts have also created an online "story studio", Sterling & Stone, where podcast listeners can find writer resources, podcast archives, and a full list of each of the hosts' published/ongoing works. You'll also find links to other individual, joint, behind-the-scenes, and mini-series podcasts the authors have created. I personally loved the StoryShop series!

In addition to their own writing, both individual and collaborated, Platt, Wright, and Truant have worked together to produce a series of indie publishing guides. (Hint: You'll definitely be seeing one of them on my next 2017 TBR update!)

This is usually the part in the "Writing Resources" post where I share a brief bio on the author(s) involved. But this time, what I'd like to do is share the titles from their lists of published works that first caught my eye, and see what you (my lovely Writing Desk readers) think these guys might be like based on those alone.

This is going to be fun, I can feel it!

The Books:

                                                   







Let me know what you think! Would you add any of these titles to your 2017 TBR based on the covers alone? 



*(All cover images sourced from: https://sterlingandstone.net/books/) 

Friday, April 7, 2017

The Countdown is On: 23 Days Until the 'American Gods' Premier!

The countdown has officially begun! There are now only 23 days separating me (and you) from the 'American Gods' premier on Starz!

Source: https://twitter.com/AmericanGodsSTZ

In case you've missed it, (and if you're a regular Writing Desk blog reader, I know you haven't!) the television adaption of Neil Gaiman's acclaimed novel by the same name will air on Sunday, April 30 at 9:00pm. If you haven't read the book yet, I still definitely recommend at least starting it before the show begins. If they include everything I'm hoping they will, trust me, you'll want the background information.

Last night was the UK premier, more photos can be found on the Twitter page of actor Ricky Whittle, who plays protagonist Shadow Moon in the series.

Source: https://twitter.com/MrRickyWhittle

The show's official Twitter page has also been posting a series of epic promo clips based on the central characters, check out this clip on one of my favorites - Mad Sweeney the Leprechaun! 



Raise your hand if you're as EXCITED as I am!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Writing on the Go? Not This Time.

Greetings Pals and Gals!

I meant to note this in my last post, but I was out of town all last week for work, hence the lack of blog updates!
Writer on the move!

The trip itself went very well. We got everything done that was needed for work, and enjoyed some amazing food! (See examples below.)

Part of my plan during this trip was to use my downtime at the hotel to get a little writing done. I've set a deadline for myself on my latest outline, and this seemed like the perfect chance to get some work done without having to worry about cooking dinner, or cleaning the house, or taking care of the pups, etc. Completely uninterrupted writing time!

Or so I thought.

I sat down our first night there to read through my outline, and I could not concentrate. Okay, not a problem. I still had three more days where I'd have a few hours every evening to myself at the hotel, I could get something done.

By the end of the week, I'd gotten NOTHING done. I'd re-read the same few pages of my outline five times before I decided to let the work happen on its own. And you know what? I still didn't get any work done last week. But, that's not necessarily a bad thing.

There will be plenty of times when you plan to write, but aren't able to for any number of reasons. This was the first time I'd tried writing while on a business trip, and I just couldn't keep my mind from wandering back to the tasks that were waiting for me each day. I'm sure I could have made myself take some notes, or write a few paragraphs, but would it really have been the quality of work I strive for?

Lovely food! Top: Oysters Rockefeller;
Left: Salad w/duck confit; Right: Sockeye salmon on a grilled grit cake

What about you? Do you have a day job in addition to your writing? If so, are you able to concentrate even when you're bogged down with work? Or, do you need specific time set away from your job to get your best writing done?