07 Apr

iggilicious Caption Contest on the DIY MFA FB Page

Posted in Community, DIY MFA

Dear Friends of iggi!

I have decided to start a tradition at our DIY MFA Facebook Page. It’s an iggilicious Caption Contest and I invite you all to join.

Here’s how it’s going to work:

  1. I’ll post an iggi picture on the WALL on Thursday.
  2. In the comments for that picture, you all can post captions of what you think iggi is saying.  You have until Sunday night.
  3. Monday I’ll post a poll with my 3 favorite captions–the “finalists.” I may also include a caption of my own.
  4. You guys vote for your favorite by Wednesday night.
  5. Thursday, I post the finished iggi-comic with the winning caption.  I’ll also post a new iggi and the contest will start again.

My plan is for this to be a weekly meme, with a new iggi every Thursday on the Facebook page.  Eventually, I also plan to use my favorites of the iggi+caption combos in designs for various iggilicious writerly products (journals, mousepads, stickers, mugs, etc.) There is no tangible prize for this contest.  Winner gets bragging rights, plus there’s a chance they’ll get to see their words on an iggilicious product!

AND it’ll be oodles of fun and a great way to get to know other DIY MFA people.  The contest is going on right now so come join the fun and if you haven’t already, come visit our Facebook community.

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15 Mar

Beware the Ides of March

Posted in Community, Writing

As a writer, the Ides of March have always had a special significance to me because for me, this is the day when I can laugh in the faces of all the naysayers in my life.

Ordinarily, I try to keep an optimistic outlook about my writing.  I do my best not to complain about writing or the publishing process, because really, I have no right to complain about it.  No one forced me into writing; I chose it all by myself.  If I feel the need to complain about it then I’ll have to deal with that all-important question: why am I even doing this in the first place?

But even when I’m at my most optimistic, I still have to face a wet blanket every so often.  These are the people who pester me with stupid questions like: “Do you think you’ll actually ‘make it’ as a writer?  Why don’t you stop this insanity and get a real job?”  To which I respond: “This is a real job.  Back off, Brutus.”  Sometimes the naysayers even come in the form of supposed allies who ask questions like: “So, how’s the book coming?” when they really mean: “Are you going to get published before me?”  To which I reply again: “Go soak your head, Brutus.”

The Ides of March are when writers need to look carefully at their life and identify who are their friends and who are really back-stabbers posing as friends.  Then we turn to the latter and say: 
E tu Brute? 

Because we don’t need negative energy in our lives.  We don’t need any more conflict than that which we already create on the page ourselves.  And to those writers out there who get soaked by wet blankets but manage to shake the water off: you are my heroes.  Write on!


11 Feb

Introducing YA Cafe

Posted in Community, Teen Lit, YA Cafe

Welcome to YA Cafe, a place where book lovers can gather and chat about teen literature.  I’ll be your barista, along with Ghenet from All About Them Words.  Each Friday we’ll pick from a menu of topics and share our thoughts on our respective blogs.

The fun won’t stop there, though.  We’ve got plans brewing for interviews, events and even some exciting giveaways!  Join the discussion by sharing your thoughts in the comments, on your own blogs or on twitter using the hash tag #yacafe.

Today’s Special: Why do we love teen literature?

The easy answer would be to say “um, because teen literature is AWESOME” and leave it at that.  But the point of these YA Cafe discussions is to move past these easy answers and dig deep into what’s really important.  The truth is, I owe that classic The Catcher in the Rye* for my love of teen literature.  This book sparked my love affair with YA, not because I loved it, but because was the first book I ever read that made me truly angry.

*Note: Technically, Salinger’s novel is not YA because it was originally written for adults, but it captures the teen voice so well that it has been adopted as part of teen literature.

When I finally read this book in eleventh grade, I was just about the last person in my grade–no, the whole planet–who hadn’t read it already.  Everyone raved about how amazing it was and how they either wanted to marry Holden Caulfield or be him.  I’ll admit, I enjoyed the first paragraph or so, but right around page two I started hating Holden.  Yes, you heard me right: I hated him.  It was a visceral hatred, an emotion that had hitherto been reserved for only the worst things in my life: Phys Ed, my arch-nemesis and cooked carrots.  But now, here was this fictional character–this whiny little pissant–lodged firmly in that category of all-that-is-evil-in-Gabi’s-world.

The more I read, the more I wanted to slam the book shut and use it to smack Holden Caulfield upside the head.  And yet I kept reading.  Secretly, I hoped somewhere along the story, Holden would get run over by a cement mixer.  (Spoiler Alert: He doesn’t.  I was gravely disappointed.)

But what does this have to do with why I care about teen literature?  While other types of books might transport me somewhere magical or teach me something valuable, teen literature is the only type of book that can elicit this level of emotion.  Reading Cather in the Rye and hating Holden made me realize what amount of a character’s crap I’m willing to forgive, and what crosses the line to something I will not tolerate.  There are two types of people in the world: those who think Holden Caulfield is awesome and those who hate his guts.  I’m one of the latter.

Hi, my name is Gabi and I love teen literature.

* * * * *

Fellow barista, Ghenet at All About Them Words, shares her thoughts on her blog.  Check it out, then tell us why you love teen literature.


30 Jan

Writing: We Are All in this Together

Posted in Community, Conferences, Reading, Writing

Benjamin LeRoy, of Tyrus Books, gave the closing keynote for the Writer’s Digest Conference.  While most of the sessions at this conference focused on craft or the business of writing, this keynote was pure inspiration.  Here are some clips from the speech that struck a chord for me. 

“Books allow us to see the world through someone else’s perspective.”

This is one of my favorite things about writing, or reading for that matter.  Books let us “try on” different lives and experience things we would never be able to do otherwise.  As I’ve mentioned before, story-telling is a uniquely human behavior and something that we all have in common, regardless of racial or cultural differences.  Thus, not only do books allow us to adopt different perspectives, but the very act of telling stories unites us. 

“When you take up the pen, you are documenting who we are as people.”

There is something about writing things down that everything seem more real.  As a teenager, whenever something happened at school, I had to write it in my journal, otherwise it was like it didn’t matter.  And if it didn’t matter, then it didn’t feel completely real to me.  In some ways, I still believe that.  As I’ve grown and studied literature, I’ve learned that even written words that are not factually true can ring true on an emotional level.  In many ways, fiction can feel more real that fact. 

“We are all in this together.”

As writers, it’s so easy to get caught up in things like “platform” or “getting published” but the truth is, writers and publishing professionals are on the same team.  As best I can tell, agents and editors are in this game because they love to read great writing and they believe books are important.  Writers get to supply the material.  As LeRoy explained toward the end of his talk, writers should create the best stories they can–stories that engage them–rather than trying to chase trends.

This sounded great in theory and I wanted to believe it–really, I did.   Still, doubt nagged at me so during the Q&A, I asked the following question: 

“Considering how the market is saturated with books about sparkly vampires, and considering how most human beings have the attention span of… say… a small rodent, how do we find readers for our engaging–though perhaps not quite so flashy–books?”

To which, LeRoy smiled and replied: “I don’t know.”

And this was when it all clicked for me.  Throughout the weekend, we’d heard about all the different ways that the publishing industry was changing.  eBooks.  Social media.  Blogs.  POD.  The problem is, it’s not the writing or the publishing that’s actually changing, it’s the reading.  Writers and publishers are just trying to keep up.  Sooner or later, everyone who loves books (writers, agents, editors, publishers, and anybody else) is going to have to figure out how to deal with changes in the reading industry.

This is why it’s important to remember that we’re all in this together.  We may not be able to turn back the clock or un-invent the eReader, but we can find new ways to connect with our readers and with each other.  And that’s a start.


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