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Archive for April, 2013

Thanks to speculative author, Jennifer Allis Provost, for stopping by and urging writers to step away from their computers and get out.

Yes, You Probably Do Need to Get Out More by Jennifer Allis Provost

Jennifer Allis Provost “As writers scan the internet for writing-related advice, they invariably come across the following, in one form or another: You need to get out there.

Writing is, by its very nature, a solitary endeavor. Yes, there are critique groups and beta readers and book clubs, but writing itself only takes one person. Not only is it easy to get lost in your own words, once your masterpiece is complete you need to sell it. And, if you have no publishing-related contacts, that is going to be pretty tough.

So, what’s a writer to do? How do you meet successful agents and authors and editors? How can you get your business cards in the hands of people that matter?

A good place to start is writing conferences. They typically offer craft workshops, discussions led by well-known authors, and maybe even pitch sessions. They are a great place to meet people, learn what’s happening in the industry, and get loads of advice.

Since I write speculative fiction, I forgo most writing conferences and attend genre conventions. Easter Weekend found me at Smith College’s Conbust, a smaller con close to home. I was on four panels: Fairies, The Publishing Industry, Urban Fantasy, and How to Get Published.

All of the panels went well, but the most extraordinary thing happened during the Publishing Industry panel. I was crashed by Bruce Coville and Tamora Pierce.

Bruce Coville and Tamora fricken Pierce!

They were concerned that I had to run the panel all by my lonesome, and offered their assistance. Not being one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I quickly made room and we had a rollicking good discussion. Afterward, Tamora Pierce took one of my cards.

Tamora Pierce took one of my cards!

Jennifer Allis Provost Copper Girl So, the moral of the story is this: yes, you do need to get out there! If I wasn’t in the habit of attending conventions, I never would have had the opportunity to meet two such well-known authors, or give either of them my card. Will anything come of Ms. Pierce having my info. Probably not. But, she has it, and that’s got to count for something.”

Jennifer Allis Provost is a native New Englander who lives in a sprawling colonial along with her beautiful and precocious twins, a dog, a parrot (maroon bellied conure, to be exact), two cats, and a wonderful husband who never forgets to buy ice cream. As a child, she read anything and everything she could get her hands on, including a set of encyclopedias, but fantasy was always her favorite. She spends her days drinking vast amounts of coffee, arguing with her computer, and avoiding any and all domestic behavior.

Her latest release, COPPER GIRL, is due out from Spence City on June 25, 2013. Learn more about her, and her upcoming releases, here: http://jenniferallisprovost.com/Home_Page.html and here: http://jenniferallisprovost.blogspot.com/

Thanks again to Jennifer Allis Provost for her guest post. Watch Whimsical Words for more guests, blogs from me, and Readers & Writers Recipes. Have a wonderful day! – Vonnie

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Jaleta's CC Oatmeal Cookies The recipe for these delicious cookies comes from science fiction writer, Jaleta Clegg. These cookies are perfect for a book club or readers’ group get-together or for the kids when they get home from school. Like last week’s Oven Baked Chicken Bruschetta, Jaleta’s Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies get great reviews. And now, a few words from Jaleta and the recipe:

Have you ever put cooking scenes in your stories? I can’t stop myself. I love cooking and I don’t see that changing for people in the far future, when my stories tend to happen. Picture it: a starship flying through the cosmos, the crew gathered in the galley cooking dinner. I have a thing for RVs. I guess it shows in my books. Right now I’m channeling the Winnebago scenes from Space Balls and the kitchen scenes from Firefly.

I’ve got a main character that loves to cook. It’s her way to destress and connect. She loves playing with new spices and ingredients. Jasyn understands the role food plays in society. It not only nourishes our bodies but our souls.

I can picture Jasyn making a batch of these wonderful cookies in her tiny kitchen on her ship. I can also picture the other crew members – Dace and Clark – devouring them, just like my kids in my kitchen.

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

3/4 c. butter

1 c. brown sugar

1/2 c. white sugar

2 eggs

1/2 t. salt

2 t. baking soda

1 t. vanilla

1 c. whole wheat flour

1/2 c. white flour

2 1/2 c. quick cooking oatmeal

2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 c. dried cranberries (optional)

Cream butter and sugars together. Add eggs, salt, baking soda, and vanilla. Beat until very light and fluffy. Add flour, oatmeal, and chocolate chips. Stir until well mixed. Set aside while the oven preheats. Or cover and refrigerate for several hours. (Letting the dough rest allows the oats to absorb moisture and makes the cookies softer.)

Heat oven to 375°F. Spray cookie sheets with non-stick spray. Scoop cookie dough in one inch balls onto sheets. Bake for 9 minutes. Let cool for a couple of minutes before removing from the sheets. Makes 5 – 6 dozen cookies.”

biosmall Jaleta Clegg loves writing what she knows – science fiction and cooking with the occasional bit of silly horror thrown in for laughs. She loves concocting dishes with bizarre names such as Chilled Monkey Brains, Radioactive Dog Spit, and Snake Surprise. New spices and strange vegetables are common on her table. Her children have learned to taste before complaining. You never know what you might enjoy until you try it. Find recipes on her blog every Thursday: http://jaletaclegg.blogspot.com and links to her writings at http://www.jaletac.com

Thanks again to Jaleta Clegg for sharing her recipe. Appearing Monday on Whimsical Words: a guest post from speculative writer, Jennifer Allis Provost.

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Thanks to author Pat Valdata for stopping by and sharing her reasons for choosing to write fiction. Enjoy!

Why Write Fiction? By Pat Valdata

On Point 061 WEB Pat small “When I am at a book fair, the cover of my 2nd novel, The Other Sister, often attracts people to my table. Sometimes they just want to identify the ethnic costumes worn by the two girls (they are Hungarian).Often they’ll pick up the book and begin reading, asking me if it is a about my family history. I explain that the book is set in the urban, Hungarian–American culture that I grew up in, and that I got the idea for the novel from hearing the story of how my mother’s parents met, but that it is a work of fiction.

I am always surprised by the people who put the book down at that point and tell me that they don’t read fiction. And they almost shudder when I point out that my other current title, Inherent Vice, is a book of poetry. While I am sorry I didn’t make a sale, I am most disappointed that anyone would limit his or her reading to nonfiction. I have nothing against nonfiction—I write it myself, and some of my favorite books are biographies, memoirs, and nature writing. I also understand that we are all busy and have less time for leisure, so we need to choose how we spend those precious minutes. But how sad not to embrace the world of the imagination!

frontcover2 Sometimes I worry that kids today are not being raised to love imagination. When little kids play with toy trucks, they don’t even have to supply the “vroom vroom” noise of the engine running—their toys come with sound effects built in. Computers and video games provide not only sounds but images, too. I’ll admit that I enjoy playing Angry Birds almost as much as my four-year-old grandniece does, but if had to choose between smashing green pigs or reading a good novel, the novel would win, every time.

Do children have imaginary friends these days? Mine were my closest companions until I started school. When my mother read to me, and later when I learned to read myself, I loved to picture the characters, scenes and action in my head. From page one until the end of the book, I was right there, with the characters, whether the setting was Rivendell, Mars, the streets of Trenton, or a Greek island.

I think that is what led me to write books of my own. When I am in the middle of a novel, it’s as though I have imaginary friends again. I have fun watching their lives develop on the page, picturing what they look like and how they behave. I feel happy for them when good things occur, and sad when the inevitable plot complication means I have to make bad things happen, too. As the manuscript pages pile up, I am thrilled to realize how much I have made up out of pure imagination, and I am hopeful that a reader somewhere will care for these characters as much as I do.

IVcover_small This happens when I write poetry, too. Lately, I have been writing persona poems, in which I put myself in someone else’s shoes and tell a bit of their life story using the first-person point of view. Some are based on real people, like Bessie Coleman, the first African-American woman to get a pilot’s license, but others are made up: a skateboarding teen-aged father, a glass blower, a commuter who has lost a child. Some of these fictional personae, like the glassblower and skateboarder, required some research to give their voices authenticity, but others, like the grieving commuter, are completely made up. As with my fiction writing, I hope that readers of these short stories told in poems will enjoy spending time with the characters.

For me, that’s the whole point of a good read (or good write): getting to know a whole new set of imaginary friends.”

Pat Valdata’s first full-length poetry book, Inherent Vice, was published in 2011 by Pecan Grove Press. Her chapbook, Looking for Bivalve, by Pecan Grove Press in 2002, was a competition finalist. Pat has also written two novels: Crosswind (Wind Canyon Books, 1997) and the award-winning The Other Sister (Plain View Press, 2008). Pat is a 2013 recipient of a grant from the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation for a residency at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Pat has an MFA in writing from Goddard College. She has taught writing and literature courses for the University of Maryland University College (UMUC), University of Delaware and Cecil College. To purchase her books: http://www.cloudstreetcomm.com/books.htm

Thanks again to Pat Valdata for her guest post. Watch Whimsical Words for more guests, blogs from me, and Readers & Writers Recipes. Have an imagination-filled day!– Vonnie

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