Reviews, rants, and tidbits from an overpassionate novelist

Posts tagged ‘WRITING TIPS’

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

KELLEY SONNACK AT ANDREA BROWN LITERARY AGENCY ~ THOUGHTS

I’m back! I thought I’d share my thoughts on an agent I had an experience with recently:  Kelly Sonnack with Andrea Brown Lit. I got a positive response to a query I sent her back in September and traded three or four rounds of subsequent emails with her before I was ultimately rejected.

Ms. Sonnack was very polite. I can find no fault with the professional nature of her emails, as I could with other agents. She formatted all of her criticisms with “I like… but…,” the exact style I encourage wherever I can.

She did say one thing that got under my skin. She didn’t like the narrative choices I had made with my story, and at one point she expressed this in a way that made my writing sound like a mess that needed to be “put together.” That may simply say a lot about my sensitivity, though.

Overall, she was helpful. Based on her criticism and the concerns of a few other of my trusted critics, I began another rewrite. I reworked the narrative into a simpler if less compact form.

Another positive experience!

Chocolate for the Ears

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I’m enjoying music today. I thought I’d share a handful of songs that soothe my soul every time I hear them:

Kryptonite by 3 Doors Down

The Reason by Hoobastank

Angel by Sarah McLachlan

It’s Not Over by Chris Daughtry

Stronger by Kanye West

The Phantom of the Opera – Original & Nightwish version

Angel Eyes by Jim Brickman

What songs are chocolate for your ears?

Word Count:  11,000

Partial Requests:  3

Dream Diary:  Water spout nightmares.

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.

Mollie Glick from Foundry Literary + Media

Sorry for the delay. I have to do my summering sometime. I am 18, after all.

Well, I have an update. I haven’t queried for a month because the literary agent considering my work required a period of exclusivity. Very annoying to someone with a time schedule. However, working with her was a pleasant experience. Around 40 days passed since I sent her the partial, so I emailed asking for an update. She responded quickly with a thoughtful and positive review (strong preface, engaging narrative), and even went so far as to ask that I query her with future ideas. This project, however, wasn’t perfect for her.

Who is she? Mollie Glick of Foundry Media. The cool thing about my experience with this agent was getting to meet her. She was the agent-in-residence at the Southeastern Writer’s Workshop Conference this year, so I got to sit down and talk with her about my writing about the industry. She had not read my chapters yet when I spoke with her, but it was a bonus to get that face time.

Sorry I haven’t posted the review yet. I promise they will come. As soon as the summer funk wears off.

More later! ❤

Courtney’s Writing Nonfiction? What?

To be honest, I expect to get a bit of rap for trying to write anything memoir-esque at my age. I’m 18. What could I possibly have to say?

One of the best things I got from this last conference was a gentle reminder of the value of those years from Emily Sue Harvey. “It’s amazing that you write,” she said. “Not only that you have the drive, lots of kids have the drive. You have something to say.”

Her words surprised me. I’d never thought of that–having something to say–as my strength before. Then I thought about the number of nights I’ve spent lying awake just thinking about life, the times I’ve agonized about getting through situations without hurting others, and my uncle’s words about the emotional-literary power woven into my writing.

I thought maybe she was right.

So I’ve been looking for stories in my life, and I’ve finally struck gold. I’ve found a story I want to write so much it hurts. I’ve resolved to turn it into a masterpiece. It involves the World Scout Jamboree I attended in 2007. I’m dying to share it, even in its atrocious first-draft form, so I’m going to be an indulgent teenager and post the first paragraph.

The Teapot Boy

My first impression of the boy who would change me forever was as wrong as it possibly could have been. I remember sitting on the stage set up in that gymnasium, scanning the crowd and getting seized by a glare. That’s right. I was minding my own business, making drowsy conversation with the people lounging on the sofas where I’d been taking a nap, and a boy I’d never met before was staring me down.

On that creepy note, I must leave you for now. I’ll keep you update though. I’m very excited about it.

So excited that I didn’t feel like working on the reviews I should have written today. Sigh. Those will happen soon. I promise. The posts on the way are:

A review of In Odd We Trust by Dean Koontz & Queenie Chan
A review of The Uglies by Scott Westerfield
Thoughts on Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
& Thoughts on Song of Renewal by Emily Sue Harvey

Jambo Picture:

Sword dancers from Qatar

Sword dancers from Qatar

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