The Blogger Recognition Award

I was totally surprised when I was nominated last month for The Blogger Recognition award by Sam from Taking on a World of Words!  This really came at the right moment because I was having one of those days you know, should I keep blogging and doing videos, etc.  This made me realize that I am doing something right.  Thanks again Sam!BR_Award  This is much appreciated.  You should all go and check out Sam’s blog.  She writes reviews, www Wednesday posts, NaNoWriMo posts, book club reflections, and much more….

Eve over at Edge of the Night is the creator of this award, which introduces and praises enthusiastically bloggers and the blogging community.  Thanks Eve for this wonderful initiative!

So here’s how it works:

1.  Select 15 other blogs you want to give the award to. Do some digging if you must! Find those blogs. You cannot nominate yourself or the person who has nominated you.

2.  Write a post to show off your award! Give a brief story of how your blog got started, and give a piece or two of advice to new bloggers. Thank whoever nominated you, and provide a link to their blog. List who you’ve nominated in the post.  Make sure to also attach the award itself! (You can do this by right-clicking, saving, and uploading the image above).

3.  Comment on each blog and let them know you’ve nominated them. Provide a link to the award post you created.

4.  Provide a link to the original post on Edge of Night. That way, anyone can find the original guidelines and post if needed, and we can keep it from mutating and becoming confusing!

 

My Beginnings….

Well I have been an avid reader since I can remember.  However since I entered my 40s, I’ve become increasingly interested in writing.  Journaling is something I do but it wasn’t giving me that extra push I needed to really embark on writing.  So I tried to think of the best way to combine my old/constant love reading with my new love writing and that’s how Brown Girl Reading was born.  The first year was a bit of a bust but by the second year I was consistently writing and enjoying blogging and discovering other blogs.  Being laid up with a torn tendon also pushed me further into writing since I had to spend 3,5 months sitting down, stuck at home.  That horrible experience transformed me in many ways good and bad.  The writing and propulsion in my reading has been the best change.  I started my blog  with a different name but Brown Girl Reading came into being January 1,2015. The name suits me and my blog perfectly.

Advice…

Love writing and reading in the case of book bloggers.  Other bloggers just love what you’re writing about.

Blog consistently, whatever consistently is for you.

If things don’t look or aren’t like you want them, change them. You are the mistress/master of your blog.

Search out new bloggers to broaden your horizons and to connect with them.

Enjoy yourself!

 

I nominate:

Reading Has Purpose

Word By Word

Estella’s Revenge

My Bookish Reveries

Madame Bibi Lophile Recommends

Madhuri Blaylock Writes

Inklingstime

The Reading Refugee

Fleur De Curl

A Little Blog of Books

Reading in Bed

Folklore & Literacy

Mary Okeke Reviews

Les Reveries de Rowena

Highly Textured Librarian

Much continued, excellent blogging to you all!

 

Writing Seriously…

After the hectic and enjoyable month of February, these next two months will be a lot quieter.  I’d like to thank all of those who kept up, followed, shared, and commented, making Black History Month Reading a success.  Remember #ReadSoulLit has not seen its last days, its pressing on over on Twitter, Instagram, and on here.  Please continue to link the hashtag when you blog or link to social media about books by black IMG_1537writers.  This will help keep up the recognition that black writers so deserve.  So why is everything quieting down for the next two months? Well I’ve enrolled in an intensive online writing course with Faber Academy.  It’s called Getting Started: Writing Fiction (Intensive).

The course has about 15 participants mostly from England, an Australian, and me.  The course started and
we’ve been challenged with writing prompts, but we’ve also been encouraged with George Orwell’s short stories (pretty fantastic writing).  We’ve had to reflect on how much we read (I’ve got that covered), what we read, what to pay attention to, and we’ve discussed books we love and recommend and why.  It was suggested we take a look at Reading Like a Writer A Guide for People Who Love Books and For Those Who Want To Write Them by Francine Prose.  It so happens I have that one on my shelf and have already started reading it.

So far I’ve found the writing very challenging.  I’ve done one round of writing prompts.  We are supposed to write for 10-15 minutes on the ones that interest us the most and I found this excruciating.  I could hear myself critiquing my writing as I linked one word after the next.  I have to stop doing this or I’m never going to get over the hump.  I must try to put myself in partial NaNoWriMo mode.  I say partial because I need to focus on how I write things too.  Tomorrow I’ll redo the prompts and maybe try the three that I haven’t done yet. I’m hoping that one of my attempts will jump out at me and that’s the one I’ll try to work on seriously.  Try to make it detailed, descriptive, and interesting.  This 500-word assignment is for Saturday.

I’ll also have the arduous task to critique two of my colleagues’ work.  This should be interesting.  This is what I usually do on this blog, with a twist of analysis and how I felt.  In the end, it’s not the same thing.  However, I’m glad that they gave us some specific guidelines to help us concentrate on the importance of writing.  Here are the areas we need to consider when critiquing and I believe they are useful for book bloggers too:  clarity – what kind of narrative is it?  Is it clear? Is it easy to follow what is happening?, point-of-view – Who is telling the story?  Do the view points change?, pace – Is the story lagging?  Try to identify why you feel less engaged., characters – Are the characters engaging?  Do we learn enough about the characters? Is there any information missing?, setting – Is there enough information about the place?  Is the location clearly explained?, over-writing – Are there more words than are necessary? Are we told things that we as the reader can already work out?, and spelling and punctuation – work should be presented in a clean and precise manner.  So poor grammar will be judged.  As they say, being a careful reader is crucial to developing skills and awareness to help with writing.  I’m pretty nervous about all of this but I’m throwing myself into it because I need the answer to the question that most of the other participants are asking as well and that’s, “Can I write?”  So I hope you’ll enjoy reading my updates on this course and maybe a book review or two for the next 8 weeks….

The Next Big Thing – Birthmark

Firstly, I’d like to thank Victoria Corby for tagging me on The Next Big Thing.  She’s in the throes of writing French Twist, which sounds like my kind of story.  Check it out http://victoriacorby.wordpress.com.  I would say I’m a novice literary writer with a capital N.  I actually sat down last November to partake in the thing that I’ve said I wanted to do for some time now – writing a book.  NaNoWriMo, along with some pretty cool, experienced buddies, put me on the straight and narrow of starting to write my first book.  I was nervous and wasn’t sure I was doing things correctly, as if there is a correct way to write a book.  What NaNoWriMo did teach me was to be consistent about the quantity that I wrote each day, to persevere even when the story didn’t seem to be turning out exactly as planned, and above all to enjoy myself.

What is the working title of your next book?

The title of my book is called Birthmark.  In the beginning, I had put another title but quickly realised that my story had taken a slight turn, but for the better.  So this title works a lot better.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

Well, I’ve always had a vague idea of writing a book which would take place in my hometown New Orleans.  New Orleans is a place with tremendous character, loads of culture, scrumptious food, and beautiful architecture.  I think any avid reader would enjoy reading a book which entails all of that.

What genre does your book fall under?

I guess my book would fall into the genre of contemporary fiction.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

I’m not so sure about that just yet.  I don’t think I’ve captured the physique nor the complete personalities of my characters enough to answer that question.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

Birthmark is a story which follows the ups and downs of an African-American family from the 1960s to the 1990s.  Sorry, I can’t say more than that.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Ultimately, I’d like my book to be published by an agency.  Personally, I have a problem with a lot of self-published books.  They often need a bit of editing and there’s nothing that annoys me more than reading through mistakes, poorly written passages, or scenarios that just aren’t plausible.  I want my book to be edited by professionals and of course given a beautiful cover.  I want my book to look just as good on the outside as it is in the inside.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

I wouldn’t say my NaNoWriMo writing experience gave me a solid first draft.  It did give me an excellent corps 52,650 words in which I can mould into a real first draft hopefully this year.  I wrote it in three weeks which was amazing to me.  I was sure I’d have trouble getting to 50,000 words, but in the end I could have written a lot more.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I can’t actually think of any exact titles at the moment but it would be very similar to a family saga story but with a lot of upheaval, character growth, and a few other twists and turns.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I inspired myself to write this book.  I was tired of hearing myself constantly saying, “I should write a book.” or “I should put that in a book.”  I saw some booktubers on You Tube talking about gearing up for NaNoWriMo and something inside of me said go for it.  You’ve got loads of time on your hands and you have nothing to lose.  The weekend before November 1st I spent trying to figure out what exactly I was going to write about.  My husband helped by asking me questions which then led to me choosing character names and places I wanted to use in New Orleans.  I must admit he gave me that extra swift kick I needed to get started.  I jotted down some notes in an outline form so that I could somewhat get my story off to a good start and voilà.

What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

Well there are two story lines going on between two generations.  There’s some intrigue, confrontations, New Orleans culture, etc.  That’s all I can tell you for now.  I don’t want to ruin it for you.

To continue on The Next Big Thing tag, here are two other budding writers that I’d like to tag.

Carole Hill from Piglet in Portugal, http://pigletinportugal.com where she writes about living in Portugal.  She also writes about the challenges of living abroad and about her many hobbies (cooking, photography, etc.).  She too is a NaNoWriMo winner and on a mission to write a book and to get published.

Kimba Azore who writes the blog Fleur de Curl, http://fleurdecurl.com and is from my home state Louisiana.  Her blog details everything you want to know about natural hair, beauty, and fashion.  She even has a rubric featuring what she’s reading and writing.  What a poet she is!

Hope you enjoyed this post and will check out Piglet in Portugal and Fleur de Curl to read about their writing exploits.  I’d love to hear about what you think about self published books as opposed to professionally published ones below.

NaNoWriMo Tag

I was tagged by naturalpoppy on You Tube the other day to do a Why I love NaNoWriMo tag.  So since I don’t do You Tube videos, I decided to do it here for her and you instead.

The main reason I love NaoWriMo is because it got me to sit down and write.  I’ve been saying forever and ever. I want to write a book and other people have told me you should write a book.  Now I’m actually doing it.  It may not be great stuff but I’m getting the words down everyday and more than the minimum daily count.

This is my first participation in NaNoWriMo and I started scared out of my mind.  I just couldn’t perceive myself writing a minimum of 1,667 words a day.  I thought it would take me all day to get it done.  In fact day one went really well I wrote 1,753 words in two hours.  God only knows where it all came from.  I continued the rest of the days hoping they would be the same.  Honestly, some of the days have been remarkable 3,000/4,000 words.  It’s really been unbelievable and an enjoyment!

The weekend before NaNoWriMo started I had a general idea of what I wanted to write about but absolutely no specific ideas.  Needless to say I procrastinated the entire weekend.  Finally, on Monday night my husband (my muse) started questioning me to see where I was on my planning.  Sigh!  Nowhere.  He then started to ask me about characters and setting and some other things and suddenly I realized I knew a lot more than I was aware.  As a matter of fact, I was pretty adamant about setting, characters, and time period.  In my opinion, Day 1 was the most important day for me.  It was like opening a vault and then wanting to take the time to discover the treasure from within.  I’m enjoying it tremendously and have connected with a group of great writing buddies that are keeping me motivated and I them.  If you’re not participating this year and you would like to write a book one day, I strongly urge you to sign up next year.  It’s the experience that’ll give you that swift kick up the butt that you need to begin writing, but most of all to continue even beyond the 50,000 words demanded.  I wish all the participants who might be reading this Good luck, don’t give up no matter what and especially Happy writing……

Favorite sentence that I wrote this week:

He sunk into the sofa and attempted to envisage his lonely future.

Describe a character in my book that I’m fond of:

I’m fond of Zachary at the moment.  He’s hard-working, good-looking and a good dad sort of.  He’s a lousy husband and has a bit on the side.

How many words have I written so far?

32,115

When and where have I been doing most of my writing?

Every morning, I write near a well-lit window in my living room in an extremely comfortable chair.  My legs are propped up on a pillow on another chair and my Macbook on my lap.  If I start by 9am, I’m usually finished by noon and sometimes even before, unless I feel like writing more.

Have I had to sacrifice anything in the past week in order to devote myself to writing?

No not really.  I can’t move around a lot because of my torn Achilles tendon which is healing slowly, but surely.  In essence, I’ve got plenty of time to write at the moment.

Be obscure clearly.

                 ——E.B. White

NaNoWriMo snippet

Today is Day 9 of NaNoWriMo and I haven’t yet started to write, but ideas are brewing up top.  I’ll be doing some night writing to see if that agrees with me.  I decided to share a little snippet of my story.  What do you think comes after It was 3am…?

She woke suddenly in the middle of the night.  She looked over at her husband rolled up in a deep narcotic sleep.  She felt her side of the bed as she got up.  There was a large damp circle of wetness that had seeped into her nightgown.  She went to the toilet to urinate and reflected on what to do next.  As she pulled down her underwear she noticed the little beads of water running continuously but slowly down her leg.  It was if the faucet had a drip that wouldn’t stop.  It was 3am…..

massdistraction / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sharynmorrow/3363758/”>massdistraction</a> / <a href=”http://foter.com”>Foter</a> / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>CC BY-NC-ND</a>

NaNoWriMo Tips and Tricks

It’s NaNoWriMo in less than one day and five hours.  Either you’re dreaming, scheming, brainstorming, and/or outlining, but hopefully not terrorizing.  If none of those words means anything to you and you’re participating in NaNoWriMo, you’re either very confident and have lots of creative, brilliant ideas or haven’t got a blasted clue what you’re going to write about and are probably planning to improvise or fly by the seat of your pants. (fly by the seat of your pants is a much better expression for the NaNoWriMo word count)

Since I’m a NaNoWriMo virgin, I’ve done a bit of all the above.  Now that we’re less than a day and a half away from NaNo Day I’ve decided to really throw my back into it.  The only thing that’s going to stop me from writing is a block falling on my desk.  Ok, ok, I know that’s not likely to really happen but you get what I mean.

I’ve surfed the net like crazy gathering useful information and advice from NaNoWriMo regulars.  I’ve understood that this is essentially a writing exercise.  I repeat this is a writing exercise.  Henceforth, go forth and write, write, and write….  During my search for great advice, I watched some You Tube videos and read a few blogs.  Below I’ve compiled the useful tips and tricks I’ve found to help those striving to reach the 50,000 word goal for the 30th of November.

1.  Beat your inner editor into submission!  Don’t critique or edit!  All first drafts are crappy anyway!  You can edit and proofread from December on.

2.  Checkout the Special Offer rubric on the NaNoWriMo site.  There you’ll find free offers of writing programs that you can use the month of November on a free trial basis —- like Scrivener, Storyist, Yarny, and WriteWay.  There are also offers from companies like Createspace and Outskirtspress which can help interested participants with independent publishing.  None of these offers are obligatory but they can apparently be helpful in the writing process.

3.  Check out the NaNoWriMo twitter sprints.  The twitter sprints can urge you to continue to write and faster at those grave moments of the blank page.

4.  Find nice places to write and if possible, change spots to give you different perspectives.  Carry a notebook with you at all times for when you get ideas in weird places, like in the middle of a work meeting, in the toilet, on the train or subway, buying tea or coffee at Starbuck’s, etc.

5.  Track your progress on the NaNoWriMo site.  This will incite you to keep up to a correct pace.  You can also track everybody else’s progress and that should whip you into shape.

6. Tell everybody you know that you’re going to do NaNoWriMo.  What better way to be boosted into finishing the challenge of 50,000 words.  After telling so many people you won’t dare quit.

7.  Go to local write-ins.  It’s good to have face-to-face buddies, as well as virtual ones.

8.  Plan and make the time to write at least 1,667 words everyday.

9.  Prepare a story outline and know your characters.  You then won’t waste so much time on things like names and places.

10.  Consume like crazy the NaNoWriMo pep talks which will arrive in your mailbox everyday.  Encouraging words from published writers who know what you’re going through can be nothing more than an aid.

11.  Get a play list of music ready to play while writing to get you into the mood of your book.  This will help with constructing the setting and ambiance of your novel.

12.  Stock up on a few snacks and try to make at least half of them healthy.  You don’t want to overdo the sugar and fall asleep while writing or worse drink so much coffee that you get the jitters.

13.  Last but not least, have FUN!!!  You should enjoy yourself.  You shouldn’t be taking on this challenge if you don’t like writing.

I wish all the NaNoWriMo participants lots of luck and enjoyment.  If anyone has any other tips for me, drop me a line or two in the comments below.

Writing is the only profession where no one considers you ridiculous if you earn no money.

                                                                                                                       ——– Jules RENARD

NaNoWriMo 2012

What’s NaNoWriMo?  Well, it’s National Novel Writing Month.  The intention is to write a 50,000 word-novel during the entire month of November.   All the real writing must start on November 1 and finish on November 30 at midnight.  Participants can write in the language they choose.   This is an international competition.  Last year, there were about 250,000 adults and 50,000 young writers participating in this creative and challenging event.  Those that enter the Young Writers Program, children under 17 years of age, are allowed to set their own word count. You’re probably wondering why would anyone want to try to write a minimum of 50,000 words in one month.  Well, why not?  It’s a chance to gain confidence and fluency, develop creativity, and learn to mange your time.  The NaNoWriMo is also an excellent assignment for school teachers and language teachers.  Go to educators to find helpful tips and lesson plans to help you get started.  Below I’ve linked a video that shows how a class participated in the competition last year.  It’s quite aspiring.  Young writers can sign up there too.  So, you’re probably wondering why am I babbling about this ambitious task?  Drum roll please…I’m going to give it a try for the first time.  This is what I have to do:

1.  go to www.nanowrimo.org

2.  sign in

3.  write regularly

4.  track my progress

5.  get support and advice

6.  network and meet with other writers online or in person

Why don’t you join me and write your story?

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pts86kFzVdY]

Sometimes when I think how good my book can be, I can hardly breathe.

                                                                         ——–Truman CAPOTE

9. Thanks and Have Fun Running the Country

They say the truth comes from the mouths of babes and that’s exactly what this book is about.  This book arrived on shelves in 2009 shortly after President Obama took office.  I didn’t read it right away when it was given to me.  I decided to wait a while and here we are almost up to the next elections.  The initiative of this book came from the 826 National specifically 826 Valencia in San Francisco’s Mission District, run by Jory John.  The 826 Nationals are non-profit tutoring and writing centers.  There are also chapters in Los Angeles, Boston, New York, Ann Arbor, Chicago, and Seattle. Children go to these centers after school between 2:30 and 5:30 p.m .and get help with their homework and writing.  The children can create stories, plays, poems, comic strips, etc. there.  In 826 Valencia the children were asked to write letters to President Obama as an exercise.  Children aged six to eighteen were asked to write on the question “What should President Obama do now?”.  Wow!  That seems like a loaded question.  As a matter of fact, most adults would have asked if it was a rhetorical question.  Their letters are filled with the same occupations as adults – the war, financial crisis,  gas prices, health care, saving animals, education, crime, unemployment, global warming, immigration, etc.  There are also suggestions on how President Obama should “relax, help people, and even eat donuts”. When Jory John started to read the letters he contacted the other centers to do the same and from all the interesting, creative letters came the project to compile them into Thanks and Have Fun Running the Country.  Heartfelt, hilarious, hopeful, ……..I really enjoyed reading this book.  It’s really a little gem! 🙂 I rate it 4 stars out of 5. Big thumbs up!

“Dear President Obama,

I would like to know if you could fix the economy and the war problem.  How would you avoid shoes being thrown at you?  And why did you choose the Democratic Party?  Also, why do you think no other African Americans ran for president?” (p. 44)

From,

Edgar Laczano, age 11

San Francisco

_______________________________________________

“Dear President Obama,

I believe you will do marvelous things for our country.  As a thirteen year old, I’m confident that I could make a list of ten things I would do if I were the president.  But I’m not.  So here’s a list of things you should do as President of the United States.

1. Health care for everyone!!!

2. Eat a donut (or two).

3. Play with your family.

4. Buy donuts for your family.

5.Read the book Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin.

6. Pass a law to allow gay marriages in  all states.

7. Ban the right to bear arms.

8. The right of freedom of speech should be modified.

9. Limit the sale and consumption of alcohol and tobacco.

10. Modify the budget for schools in North America.

I have the determination to pursue the dream to be the president.” (p. 19)

Sincerely,

Heaven Willis,  age 13

Chicago

___________________________________________

“Dear President Obama,

You are like a big me, because I am from Chicago and I am biracial and have curly hair.  I live in Seattle now, but I’m still from Chicago.

How do you feel about being president?

I have an idea.  Why don’t you give everybody, even the homeless, ten dollars every day?  Each person would need this money for food, clothes, toys, and many other needs.  And don’t forget to give the kids money, too.

My advice for you and your family is to be yourself and you will change the world.  If I were president, I would try to make the world a better place.” (p. 39)

Sincerely,

Avante Price, age 7

Seattle

____________________________________________________

Check out any of these 826 Nationals by plugging in the city after 826 followed by dot org.  These people are really doing some fantastic work with these children!

http://826valencia.org

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