Tag Archives: Neil Gaiman

Monday’s Mix: Short Story Contest

pay the rentCame across Aerogramme Writer’s Studio site which is chock full of advice, tips, resources and wanted to share their post on an upcoming short story contest:

“Boston Review is now accepting entries for the Aura Estrada Short Story Contest 2017.

Founded in 1975, Boston Review is one of America’s most prestigious literature and politics magazines. Past contributors include Saul Bellow, Jhumpa Lahiri and John Updike.

Boston Review’s Aura Estrada Short Story Contest is open to all writers, regardless of citizenship or publication history. The winner of the contest will receive $1500 and have his or her work published in the July/August 2017 issue of Boston Review. The runners-up stories may also be published.”


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A to Z Blogging Challenge: Q, Quality or Quantity?

neil gaimanEvery November I participate in National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo, during which participants challenge themselves to write the first draft of a 50,000 word novel in thirty days.  I also serve as the Municipal Liaison for my state (=author wrangler, pep talker and Master of the event calendar).  Some Wrimos are plotters – they’ve spend the other 11 months  of the year plotting an outline of their Nano Novel, while other Wrimos are pantsers – they plunge in at midnight November 1st frantically typing anything that pops out of their fingertips.  Both types of Wrimos start off strong, but because it’s hard to write 1667 words a day if you’re out of the habit,  inevitably, the chatter on the NaNoWriMo forums turns to a discussion about word count, sludge and major manuscript padding.

To be successful during NaNoWriMo, you have to suspend your disbelief, withholding judgement on the quality of the work, while focusing on churning out quantity.  For the plotter or the panster, NaNoWriMo is all about pushing through writer’s block and forcing your characters to make a decision that moves the story forward.  Sure it could be crap, but sometimes writing sludge will get you to the other side of something or unravel a puzzle or spark an idea that you hadn’t considered before.  One of my writing teachers encouraged us to develop a daily writing habit (aargh! there’s that darn journal cropping up again) because it was like turning on the water in a faucet that hadn’t been used in a long while.  Daily writing is like letting the brown water flow until eventually it runs clear.

I liked this quote from Neil – but I have yet to find a quote I don’t like from Neil – because he really puts some good perspective on the whole excruciating process, don’t you think?

During April, I’m participating in The A to Z Blogging Challenging, blogging 26 days of the month on writing topics while systematically moving through the alphabet. The goal is to develop a more regular blogging habit and network with other bloggers.  Join us!


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Friday Fun: Brick by Brick

temple of artAn inspiring clip from a film from co-creators Allan Amato & Olga Nunes, Temple of Art, is about why we need to do the hard work of creating art with comments from over 40 creators including Neil Gaiman, Billy Bob Thornton, Amanda Palmer, Kevin Smith, Ben Folds, Chuck Palahniuk, Grant Morrison & Molly Crabapple. Their message? You have permission to create.

“Have you ever pulled over the side of the road to hear a song again from the beginning, or seen a painting that just seemed impossible? How does this beautiful thing exist? How does a person decide, day after day, to build their life around making such a thing happen? Imagine you got to hang out with some of your favorite artists; now imagine you asked them: Why do you make art?

“TEMPLE OF ART is a documentary that looks at what it even means to be an artist, how to fail beautifully, and proceed with courage.”

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Book Review: The Art of Asking

theartofasking_imageHappy Interweb rabbit trails brought me to Amanda Palmer’s book, The Art of Asking: or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help.  Palmer is a performer, musician, blogger, crowd funder and –how she crossed my path — wife to author Neil Gaiman.  Shallow, I know, but that’s kind of the only introduction I needed.

I’m glad I caved to my shallow fan-girling, because Palmer rocks.  She gets it. If you’re seeking truth talking and unveiling and creating art in a busy life and creating real connections in this bizarre Interwebby world, Palmer has much fantastic stuff to say that is worthy of pause to hear.  The Art of Asking is an expansion of her TED Talk from 2013, when she describes a series of incidents – starting with her post-college gig as a living statue to the controversial act of crowd sourcing her albums – that led her to the epiphany of transforming the act of asking from a mindset of guilty begging to the realization that asking is a fair exchange of money for goods – goods that can include music or performance, but in reality, deep at its core, for connection and help.  Artists need to realize that their art is a valuable commodity that fills a void in the audience or consumer and becomes the bridge across which people connect.

“My music career has been trying to encounter people on the Internet in the way I could [as a living statue] on the box…I think when we really see each other, we want to help each other. I think people have been obsessed with the wrong question which is  how do we make people pay for your music. What if we started asking, How do we let people pay for music?”

Palmer’s words really resonated with me.  It reminded me of a camping trip we went on a few years ago with my brother and his family, during which my sister-in-law provided all of the food and then asked for reimbursement (which would have been much less awkward if these arrangements had been made prior to the trip, but she had declined my help when I had initially asked, so there’s one Ask) so I remembered thinking that the only thing my husband and I had contributed was entertainment.  Music and stories around a campfire…oh, and laughs. Lots of laughs.  This was a stressful trip (granted, the stress was unneccessarily fabricated IMHO because my SIL could have asked for help with everything) and we provided much needed relief. But we didn’t ask for reimbursement for that because when you witness the connection happening you’re realizing the payment is in joy.  That’s valuable. So there’s the second “Ask”.

I think a lot about “The Ask” because I work in a library. I have several circles of influence where I perform The Ask that includes various boards, volunteers, and staff but ultimately my local taxpayers and in order to do The Ask (for help, for funds) I need to believe in the value of the library and our services and I do, so The Ask really has become more of an invitation rather than a hand out.  (imaginary high five with Palmer!) Secondarily, I think a lot about The Ask because I’m a writer.  While I’m not asking for funding just yet, I am asking for time and that’s just as valuable a commodity at this point. Sometimes it’s asking myself for time and sometimes it’s asking my family for quiet space, but it’s still a need to see value in creating, in an intangible or unconventional commodity.  An artist developing a value of their own art is crucial to be confident enough in the art to share it with the world.

Read more about Amanda Palmer on her blog.

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