Reviews, rants, and tidbits from an overpassionate novelist

Posts tagged ‘university of south carolina’

TO DO A LONG STORY JUSTICE

When I was seven, thirteen years ago, my second grade class created Studentreasures manuscripts. Studentreasures is a print-on-demand publisher that publishes the books of elementary school students, often, from my understanding, for no charge. As I completed mine, my teacher recognized what would later be identified as a prodigious level of ability in my writing, and simply told my mom to be sure to invite her to my first book signing. When my mom told me, it finally clicked in my brain that the names on book covers are actual people, that actual people could create something so magically transportive. I wanted to harness that power.

When I was eight, my published book came back and I was inspired to set the goal of getting published “the big way” while I was still a kid – that is, before my twentieth birthday.

When I was nine I began having dreams that were too perfectly unforgettable to leave behind without plotting the missing pieces.

When I was ten I was published in the Southern Sampler for the first time.

When I was eleven my novel began to take shape.

When I was twelve I tested my story by roping all of my friends into it.

When I was thirteen I perfected the plot of an eight-book series.

When I was fourteen I began writing a satisfactory first draft.

When I was fifteen I finished and began editing. I was scammed into submitting to a publisher through a personal connection full of bad advice. Applying to the SC Governor’s School for the Arts motivated me to read enough latin american magical realism and canon works to discover the true nature and powers of description – a journey I look back on as nothing less than a renaissance. My book began to connect me to people, including a great aunt and uncle whom I’d had little connection with in the past. When they discovered my novel they took it upon themselves to mentor me through my efforts.

At sixteen I had saved up enough money to attend the Southeastern Writers Conference, where I found guidance from the poet laureate of my state and author Emily Sue Harvey, and I left with the SWA Juvenile Writing Award and the M. L. Brown Award for YA lit.

At seventeen I attended the South Carolina Writers Workshop for the first time, where I met the literary agent who had represented my favorite childhood authors, including Jean Craighead George and Gail Carson Levine. She remembered me a year later when I queried her. My efforts in the publishing industry embellished my college applications and earned me a scholarship to the University of South Carolina. I worked on a magazine internship and received multiple awards for my poetry.

At eighteen I had crafted a query letter that earned me serious consideration and critiques from some of the best literary agencies in the field, including Andrea Brown, Fineprint Lit, Curtis Brown, and Literary Foundry + Media.

At nineteen I rewrote my manuscript for the fifth time at the request of one of these agents. I was enlisted to help draft adventures for the upcoming Boy Scouts of America emblems Plug & Axel. I earned a critique that has sold in auctions for over two thousand dollars.

In my journeys I have met C. E. Murphy, Nicholas Sparks, Steve Berry, Patricia Smith, Marjory Wentworth, Michael Connelly, and countless other authors of less renown who should be far more renown than they presently are.

I have no accomplishment that can possibly yardstick the hours, the sacrifices, the hope, and the passion that have gone into half a dozen rewrites and hundreds of revisions. But I have gained more respect for myself and shown the world more of my soul than I ever could have done had I taken another path.

I take vicious pride in knowing I did everything I could do.

On my twentieth birthday, the top of my Mount Everest was sliced off before I could reach it. It broke my heart.

And I know that the opus speaks for the life, not the life for the opus – no one will want to read this story to so little gratification. It’s the door that gets farther away the faster you sprint toward it, it’s the video game you lose on the last level. Except a little less hopeless.

What now? Well… that’s top secret writer information. 🙂

JAPANESE SUPERMODELS, DEFINITIONS OF LITERATURE, AND THE LIME GREEN GOODBYE. WTC?

Yes, my blog is totally revamped. The content will still be basically the same. I’m just taking it in a more useful direction. With any luck.

I wanted a title that would catch people’s attention and stay true to my blog’s theme. TELL ME YOUR STORY, TELL ME YOUR SONG works because:

  1. I really do want to connect with people more and my blogs forum-like.
  2. I want to help others improve their writing abilities.
  3. The caps and the lyrics reference are catchy.

The new theme is more professional, less painful on the eyes, and beautifully clean. I love it.

So today was my first day back at USC. Oh my god. I love my schedule. Again.

1)  AMERICAN LIT with Professor Cowart

This class got me fired up. Looking online I thought Prof. Cowart seemed pretty scary, but in person I loved him. He’s wonderfully eloquent and can recite lines of poetry. He spouted off three wonderful definitions of literature:

  • “An excellent book that delights and informs” ~ Horace
  • “The axe for the frozen sea within us” ~ Franz Kafka
  • “News that stays news” ~ Ezra Pound

It wasn’t like he made a show of it either. He was simply talking about something that interested him and needed use of those quotes to express himself. He went on to talk about impressions of America, still impressed upon the American psyche and reflected in literature, as Eden-like; immigrants saw the new world as an open chance to morally begin again.

Once they cleared out the Native Americans, anyway.

2) ELEMENTARY JAPANESE with Baba-sensei is always awesome. Very sweet lady, very laid back. My only complaint would be that she moves too slow. I plan to move at a better pace this semester and place out of an intermediate class.

3)  JAPANESE CULTURE THROUGH ANIME with Professor Miyazaki = Win. Several times over. We took a quiz that went something like this:

  • Do you like anime from Japan?
  • Would you tie your friends to chairs and force them to watch Japanese anime until they too became hopelessly addicted? (My answer:  Depends on how fiercely they bite.)
  • Would you go without eating to buy the latest DVD release from Japan? (Not with corporations experimenting with letting things leak on the internet these days, we wouldn’t….)
  • Do you go home and watch Yuri and Kei, also known as The Dirty Pair?
  • Do you go to anime conventions… dressed in only a teeny weeny itsy bitsy yellow tiger print bikini like Lum from Urusei Yatsura?

This class is going to be something else. Miyazaki-sensei is like supermodel pretty too. Lots of boys.

4) CREATIVE WRITING with Professor Waldron (Barilla)

I was terrified of this class. I’m very nervous about getting a Masters in Creative Writing, very anxious that it will destroy more creativity than it breeds. The first few classes I take will set that tone.

Tomorrow I’ll find out about British Lit. And hopefully I’ll be back in the language lab with Taku-san, our TA from Tokyo University! xD Now if only he weren’t boring as crap….

A PROMPT FOR YOU

Tell me about your favorite class of all time. Was it a second grade music class? A college course with a crazy professor? Do you believe in education at all? Can’t wait to hear from you!

Love & Peace

University of South Carolina Writers Club

It actually exists! When I got here and realized that there was no writers club listed under Student Organizations, I set out to create one…until I finally discovered its secret hidden location within Ink! Undergraduate English Association. Writers and critics of all majors are welcome to join in.

The Ink! critique group meets every Tuesday in the Humanities office building behind the Colloquium Cafe in Room 143, a lounge. That location will be changing soon.

Actual updates coming soon!

❤ Courtney

 

 

Book 2 is Underway!

All I have time for today is a quick update. I want to get going on organizing my life for college. Finally I feel the drive.

I hit the 10,000-word mark on book 2 today. Hooray! It’s been a geniune struggle to start this one, so I’m over the moon. I simply can’t write this one in order. Just can’t.

Word Count:  10,225

Partial Requests:  3

Dream Diary:  Loving college.

Pheonixes, Nightmares, and Anime

3 changes to discuss.

1)  Everything in my own life, as a few of my readers may know, is about to change. I’m about to uproot and reroot a little bit closer to the sea and everything else in my dreams. In 17 days, I will be moving to the new Honors dorm at the University of South Carolina.

Meh new homme!

Meh new homme!

Scariness. To me, this feels like a death–a phoenix death–and I’m looking forward to my ashy renewal. I’ve just got to get the dying part over with.

In honor of this new change, I’m going to change some things about my blog.

2)  Blog change number one:  I’m going to add a dream diary. At the bottoms of posts I’m going to update the number of partial requests I’ve received and my book 2 word count, but I’m also going to share one of my freaky over-imaginative nightmares : D

3)  Blog change number two:  I’ve been doing a lot of thinking since I posted Studies of Storytelling, which shares my thoughts on using everything from Disney movies to anime to internet emails to help us writers improve our craft.

If that’s the case, why should I only review books here on my blog? I can share thoughts about anime and movies as well.

This sounds like so much fun to me. More later! ❤

Book 2 Word Count:  6000

Partial Requests:  3

Dream Diary:  I had a nightmare that a truly vicious classmate who tormented me through middle school and sneered at me through high school was in two of my college classes. (Cue shrieking violins) Have I mentioned I’m ready to be in Columbia? Change is nice.

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