Friday, April 20, 2018

Belated Resolution Check-In: April Edition

Whoa! April is flying by! Heck, I have hardly posted a single blog entry, and this month is almost on its way out the door of history. Time has been flying -- though not just because I've been having fun. I've been doing a lot of work. It;s crunch time at the college. Lots of meetings. Lots of essays. Lots of quizzes. Basically, a lot of grown up stuff.

I might need to play some video games tonight to detox.

Not much creative writing has been going on lately... but this weekend I will try to make up for it. I am co-writing another play with Christopher Flowers (I think I've blogged about this before; it's a comedy about an all-inclusive resort.) So, I should probably stop bloggig and start playwriting.

But first a quick update about my New Year's Resolutions...

1) Finish Writing a New Novel

I am currently stalled on the Time Travel middle-grade. I did tinker with a chapter book. But right now I'm just kinda stuck in the mud, waiting for summer vacation.

ACHIEVEMENT: 20% Complete

2) Sell a New Picture Book

Not yet. My agent might be sending out something new, maybe as early as next week.

3) Write / Sell New Play

Some progress has been made on the all-inclusive comedy. Still in the drafting stage, but we might have a read-through in May.

4) Complete 200 Days of Writing

I've had a scant amount of 25 good writing days.

Achievement: 12.5% Complete

5) Participate in 10 Book Events

Hopefully more will be happening in the very near future.

Achievement: 30% Complete

6) Complete 100 five minute work-out sessions

It's been about a week since my last workout. (I feel like I'm at confession.)

Achievement: 51% Complete

7) Practice Drawing / Coloring for 100 Hours

Achievement: 19% Complete

8) Develop a Stronger Marketing Platform


9) Create a Portfolio with at least 12 awesome photos

Still taking lots of photos... but none of them are good. Part of it is me -- but a significant part might be I'm using an old iphone 4.

10) Learn the whole melody of Ashokan Farewell. 

Ha. I've got a lot to do this summer!


Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Query Letter Sample

Here's an example I found online of a query letter that led to a successful book writing career. 

Dear Ms. Megibow,
I’m currently seeking representation for my YA novel, FALLS THE SHADOW. Given your interest in science fiction, I thought it might be a good fit for your list.
When Cate Benson was twelve, her sister died. Two hours after the funeral, they picked up Violet’s replacement, and the family made it home in time for dinner and a game of cards.
It’s the year 2055, and Cate’s parents are among the wealthy elite who can afford to give their children a sort of immortality—by cloning them at birth. So this new Violet has the same smile. The same laugh. That same perfect face. Thanks to advancements in mind-uploading technology, she even has all the same memories as the girl she replaced.
She also might have murdered the most popular girl in school.
Or at least, that’s what the paparazzi and the crazy anti-cloning protestors want everyone to think: that clones are violent, unpredictable monsters. Cate is used to hearing all that, though. She’s used to standing up for her sister too, and she’s determined to do it now—even if proving Violet’s innocence means taking on those protestors and anyone else attacking her family. But when her own life is threatened—not by protestors, but by the very scientists who created her sister’s clone—Cate starts questioning everything she thought she knew about the cloning movement. About herself. About her sister.
And the answers she finds reveal a more sinister purpose for her sister’s copy—and her own replacement—than she ever could have imagined.
FALLS THE SHADOW is complete at 80,000 words, and is the first in a planned series. The manuscript is available, in part or full, upon request. Thanks for your time and consideration!
Stefanie Gaither

Nawal El Saadawi

"Danger has been a part of my life ever since I picked up a pen and wrote."

"Nothing is more perilous than truth in a world that lies."

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Spring Break!!! (Or is it???)

Time for seven days of relaxation mode. At least that's how it's supposed to be. So far, things have been a little bit wacky around the Bradford household.

There was a raccoon hanging out in our front yard, right in the middle of the day. I think he was injured or feeling unwell, and so I called Animal Control. But I wanted to just give him a hug.

The Animal Control Officer was very friendly, and also very patient. It took him about two hours to get the raccoon into the cage. I was worried that he was going to euthanize the poor critter -- because at first the officer suspected distemper. But then he determined that the raccoon had probably been in a fight and hurt his leg. So, if the human was telling the truth, the raccoon should be hanging out at the local rescue center -- which I think is somewhere in Placerita Canyon. 

My eldest daughter is on spring break as well, so she is back home! She spent a "girls weekend" with her grandma and cousins. They played around the beach. Here she is doing a cool karate move. 

She had such a great time at the beach it made her want to fully embrace her Californian heritage by buying a surf board. So you used some Local trade App and found someone who wanted to sell their board for a very reasonable price. Thirty minutes later, she bought a surf board.

(Now all she needs is an ocean.)

My youngest daughter has spring break from her English class. However, that's not the case for her Calculus class. She's taking it online through LA Mission College, and they don't have their break until April. So while I'm being lazy, she hunkered down at the computer working on this kind of stuff... 

(Makes perfect sense to me!) 

She has also been cast in her favorite musical: In the Heights. On top of that, she is working back stage in a show that opened this weekend. So her busy schedule is a sharp contrast to my weekend of watching Netflix shows and taking naps. 

In truth, however, I don't have any right to be lazy at present. Even though I don't go back to work until April 2nd, I actually have a ton of essays to grade. That's what I get for forcing my poor students to write argument essays. As my good friends often tell me, if I don't want to grade papers I need to stop assigning them. 

So far I've graded six of them. Only 84 left to go! 

In the world of writing, I might have a little bit of good news on the horizon. But it's not locked in yet, so I can't report anything until it's more official. (It's nothing huge, by the way, but a nice little potential feather in my figurative cap.) 

Monday, March 19, 2018

Boom LatinAmericano

In the 60s and 70s, Latin America experienced a surge of immense creativity brought forth by young authors, a literary wave known as the Latin American Boom...

My favorite among these writers is Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Here he is being very serious:

And here he is being not so serious...

I've been using his stories for years in my classroom. In particular, "A Very Old man with Enormous Wings" is an excellent way to teach students about Magic Realism. (And it's also an excellent companion to Kafka's "A Hunger Artist."

These authors are famous for combining the fantastical with the mundane. 

Julio Cort├ízar's novel Hopscotch instructs the reader to digest the chapters out of order. 

He also has a story about a traffic jam that lasts so long that a unique culture is born from it.

Another of my personal favorites is Octavio Paz... Here he is looking old and distinguished...

But here's another photo of him looking young and putting on the smolder...  

Oh wait, that's from Tangled... Here's young Octavio.... 

Octavio is actually in the height of his writing a bit before the so-called "Boom." One of his most famous short stories, "My Life with the Wave," is published in 1949. But as you will discover if you read it, his work is very much in sync with the Magic Realism movement. 

And since we are speaking of those who have influenced the Boom Latinamericano, we would be remiss to leave out the amazing surrealist Jorge Luis Borges (author of the mind-blowing "Library of Babel") and the beloved poet/politician, Pablo Neruda.