The Holidays are hitting – Five Sure Signs

The following is a reboot of a post from a couple of years ago, but I happen to like it and I’ve been so busy grading end-of-semester essays, my brain’s too mushed to think up anything original. So consider it a Christmas gift–from me to you and visa-versa. (You may thank me now.)

With Hanukkah now behind us, another holiday fest starts imminently, but you would think that it already has, as much as gets done in December. As for me, I simply let the ‘daze rumble past like a runaway train, and if something happens to fall out of the caboose for me, so be it.  But if you believe the concept driving the season is peace and not what piece is for you, then here’s a few hints to let you know just how far behind you are:

1. The Great Work Stoppage – As soon as the Thanksgiving turkey comes out of the oven, it’s as if everyone forgets they have a job. Suddenly all meetings become holiday parties, and if you’re expecting that report to get finished, you might as well call back next year. In my particular milieu, I nearly have to hit my students over the head with their final essays to get them to even remember my name.

2. Vanishing Editors – If you were hoping to get your manuscript sold before the end of the year–ha ha, good one! From now until after New Year’s, editors, as well as a fair amount of agents, take a breather and make the rounds of Gotham’s holiday celebrations, where I imagine a fair amount of deal making takes place over the babaganoush. If you’re the writer, think of it as a temporary reprieve from submission angst.Oy to the World!

3. Everything’s on Sale – Back in the day, you used to have to wait until after Christmas to get a price cut, but thanks to retail giants like Target and Macy’s, the discounts only get deeper the closer you get to the big day. Which is fine, because if you’re like me, the shopping starts the day before, and I’m all about half-off.

4. The Dread Christmas Sweater – Think about it: if it wasn’t the holidays, would you ever wear that sweater in public? Do you actually like rick-rack, glitter, Rudolph’s battery-operated flashing nose, or cable-knitted Thomas Kinkade reproductions on your chest? So much better to wear the DCS’s less offensive cousins, The Christmas Socks. At least we only have to endure them when you cross your legs.

Creepy Christmas5. “Oh go ahead – it’s the Holidays.” – Which means, go ahead and eat that brandy cheesecake as big as your head. What the hell – you’re on Lipitor anyway, and your blood test isn’t until January. Which also means you can eat half that Hickory Farm’s beef stick, which is my personal holiday no-denial favorite. No fooling, I’m stocking up!

Only thirteen days left. Get crackin’!

 

NaNoWriMo’s History. NOW WHAT??

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Okay, so it’s December first. That means the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is over, and you have to stop the writing, but only long enough to take stock. So, how did it go for you? Did you start that new novel? Did you drag the old one from under your proverbial bed and continue? Did you give up after three days? Three hours? Three minutes? Or did you tough it out, fall into a groove, and breeze the rest of the way through? Or are you banging your head against the wall, still trying to figure it out? Whatever way you approached it, you deserve a BIG pat on the back for at least giving it a go, and if you finished, you deserve a big HUZZAH! Now you can join that elite club of NaNoWriMos who’ve done it. And hopefully, you’re on your way to join those who’ve gone onto selling.

Inevitably, you’ll ask the question, so now what? Well, if you enjoyed National Novel Writing Month, you can continue the good feels after the holidays by signing onto NaNoWriMo’s help taking that finished novel to the next level. Need help with editing and revision and where to go next? Then go here for the NaNoWriMo site and let them help your continue your publishing journey. Happy Writing!

HAPPY WTF THANKSGIVING

My gift to you this Thanksgiving! My gift to myself is carpal tunnel in my right hand, so I won’t be doing too much writing these next couple of days, all my energy spent in hoisting leftover turkey leftover and its accompaniments. I’ll also be upending the whipped cream over my mouth for a covert squirt after burying a slice of pumpkin pie under it. So yeah, I’ll be kinda busy after all. Happy Thanksgiving!

TIPS FROM THE MFA PIT, PART 13

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You thought I forgot, didn’t you? Like nearly a whole semester has gone by with nary a mention.  Well no I didn’t! What follows is a discussion on loving the author, but maybe not loving the work. The bone of our contention was Of Love and Other Demons by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. No one’s perfect after all, not even literary icons!

There are several things that struck me when reading your critique of Garcia Marquez. The first thing is you can love the author, but you don’t have to love everything they write. To use a cliché, you don’t have to hit a home run every time—on both ends. There are reasons for this, one of which is the perks of being a literary icon. This being one of GM’s later works, after several critical and commercial successes, after winning the Nobel Prize, his publisher more than likely gave him a no-edit clause. Quite literally, they will publish every word the author writes. The author becomes their own editor in the sense that they have the final say over what stays or goes in the work, as their work is considered beyond “fixing,” and that people will buy anything he’ll write anyway. Only big authors get this privilege, and I’ve seen some of my favorite writers go this route to the point I couldn’t read them anymore. Take one Ken Follett.

Back in his prime, he was one of my favorite writers. Not for his deep literary talent, but for pure escapism. His genre was historical thrillers, and he wrote several novels set during WWII, two of which The Eye of the Needle and Night Over Water, kept you on the edge of your seat with every turn of the page. They were novels you’d read far into the night, mainly because you simply could not put them down. Then his success led to a no-edit clause. The first book I read after that I couldn’t get  50 pages in. It’s been years, but I haven’t read anything by him since.

What struck me next doesn’t have so much to do with Garcia Marquez as with how much you’re learning about magical realism. You’re discovering what works and what doesn’t, or rather what works for YOU and what doesn’t. As you read, you’re also developing your own style, as what you would write if it were your own book. I read with interest your synopsis of the work, as it boiled it down to the elements that stood out to you. From what I could gather, it lacked the enthusiasm of when you really enjoy something (as with Beloved  — and oh yes, did you enjoy the firestorm the book caused in the recent gubernatorial election in Virginia? Guaranteed 99.99% of the complainers didn’t read past the first page). Another thing that struck me was the blatant symbolism in it. Calling the protagonist Sierva, at least an Anglo play on the Spanish for servant servidora.  Then there’s her hair being a symbol of freedom, and how hers is shorn. It reminded me of the fairy tail, Rapunzal, whose long hair kept her captive in a tower. Irony, maybe?

Again, we don’t have to love everything from a beloved writer. We can allow them a few misses in their entire body of work. But as I pointed out you can still learn from them, and if that’s not what to do, if we can hone our own style out of theirs, then a lesson learned is a lesson learned.

YEEEHAH! IT’S TIME FOR NANOWRIMO!

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It’s that time of year again! National Novel Writing Month aka NaNoWriMo! Start a novel, grab an old one from under your proverbial bed and revise, or get back to work on one you started a while ago which is now moldering in your cloud or hard drive. C’mon, we all have one lingering about, don’t we? When would be a better time to get back to work on it than during November, when you’ll have all the creative and emotional support you can get from the NaNoWriMo community? Writers write peeps, so you don’t get to call yourself more if you don’t do it. So click here for more information, and then it’s butt in chair and get that genius going!

LIBERTY STATE FICTION WRITERS 11TH ANNUAL CONFERENCE

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Mark Your Calendar for the
11th Anniversary
Liberty States Fiction
Writers Conference
November 6, 2021

Holiday Inn in Clark, NJ


BOOK FAIR IS OPEN TO THE PUBLIC WITH NO ADMISSION FEE.

Our 2021 Conference is dedicated to Indie Publishing, but we have something for writers at all stages of their careers and whether traditionally published, small press, hybrid or indie.

The Liberty States Fiction Writers 11th Annual Conference features a line-up of more than a dozen authors and industry professionals who will share their expertise and experience. Located at the Holiday Inn in Clark, New Jersey, we offer a full day of education and networking for those who are published or want to be published. Workshops will focus on craft, business, promotion and indie-publishing. Love to write? Want to get published? Join us on November 6, 2021.

For more information see Liberty States Fiction Writers website.

Hey! It’s me! Gwen Jones!

Hey! It's me! Gwen Jones!Hey! I know it’s been a long time, but you know, it was summer and I was busy hanging out, sleeping late, and going to the beach. So now it’s back to business and I’m back to teaching and working on my latest project. There’s big changes afoot, and I hope to have something big to disclose pretty soon now, and you know I will absolutely let you know when I do. For the present, I’m attending various writing events, including next month’s Liberty State Fiction Writers’ Conference in Clark, NJ. If you must absolutely know more about it and would like to attend, there’s a limited number of tickets available, so go here to find out more.  There will also be a Book fair in the afternoon, and if you’re like me, you’d rather spend your money on books more than anything in the world. Especially sweet because the Book Fair is FREE and open to the public. So if you’re a writer and happen to be in New Jersey–and who wouldn’t want to be–absolutely check it out!

Summer Break

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It’s been a long school year, and it’s still not over for me, as I went from Fall to Winter Interim to Spring, and now smack into the Summer semester. Those who work 9-5 jobs (or whatever that is these days) may not feel a scintilla of sympathy for me when I say this, but the myth of instructors being off in the summer never met an adjunct college professor. Summers without work are summers without money, so we keep working right through, in condensed semesters that during the regular school year would be 14 weeks, now cut down to five, with all the same material to cover, and the grading coming three times as fast. In between all of this, I’m working on an edit of a book while my agent shops my latest (bites nails, cross your fingers). In any event, I’m a bit fried, so I’m taking a few things off my plate while I wind down Summer I before heading into Summer II. As well as taking a couple of quick mental health weekends out of this office where I’ve spent too much time this pandemic year. (Really, really, REALLY sick of these four walls!)

Okay, enough the the bitch and moan. Enjoy the summer, and I’ll see you in August. Just don’t forget, writers write, so get cracking.

Seriously Snark

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