Blog of a Writer on the Go and Barely Here.
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Looking for something more 'family-friendly'? Check out my Children's & Young Adult Blog:The Wide Writing World of Emily McKeon

Friday, April 27, 2012

Make Way for Geeklings

Sorry this post was so long in coming. Computer crash = no way to upload the pictures. Anyway....

Last Saturday I attended my first Comic Convention in Boston. Unfortunately, I have no really awesome stories to share from it, but I do have pictures. I also have a lesson learned. Make that several lessons learned.

 First, taking two small children for a convention you have to travel 2 hours for and stand in line for another 15 minutes- half and hour is not a good idea. Their enthusiasm turns to crankiness before they even get through the doors.

Second, I need to make blog business cards to give out to anyone I take pictures of. I know this seems like common sense, and it was. After the fact.

The rest of our trip went as follows:
Bridget "Spider Girl" with Auntie Keri
Wesley "Captain America" with Uncle Matt

Kids were already exhausted by the time we got in line for tickets.

Banded and ready for action.

The line was long, even after lunch.
Around the corner, down the stairs and out the door.

Met some interesting characters:
There is no Comic Con, only Zuul.

Robin, Zantana and Superboy. 

Emma Frost

Rapheal! Where's Leonardo, Michelangelo and Donatello?

Can't see it in this picture, but her dress has Tony Stark/Ironman print.
 I would have taken more pictures, but the convention area looked like this:

 We missed the panels and films:

But managed some shopping:

I want that one!
Wesley's HULK and Bridget's SPIDERMAN glasses.

My own loot:
GOTHAM GIRLS t-shirt and a new BONE novel, signed by Tom Sniegoski

On the way out the kids shot some storm troopers. Bridget needed help with the gun, but Wesley took care of them all on his own.
Are these all the kills?

All in all, it was a good time. Sadly, Batdog (aka Calypso) had to stay home and defend the Bat Cave.
I'm not invited?
Why are you dressed like that?

I have to protect the Cave?

Oh, ok. Batdog reporting for duty.

Next up: New York Comic Con in October. Who's joining me?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Semi-finalists Announced

A quick congratulations to the 50 YA and 50 GF authors whose work advanced to the semi-finals of ABNA today!

To everyone who cut, don't give up! Take the comments and feedback you were given and have another go at it.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

I Survived!

Two posts in one week. I know - completely unheard of, but I wanted to follow up on yesterday's adventure.

I went to the local writing group at 6:30 and left around 8:30. Twice the time I had anticipated. Not a big deal since it's only a two minute drive from home. But the length of the meeting isn't really what you're interested in. It's what happened during those two hours that matter.

First off, I was pleasantly surprised to find there wasn't one of 'those guys' there. Any writer who's ever joined a writer's group know just who I mean by 'those guys.' The one who sits there, smug look on their face, thinking they're God's gift to the written word. Every writer's group has one, although online groups have the advantage of being able to identify and avoid them.

Once I realized this group was free of 'those guys,' I came to the to the conclusion I must be 'that guy.' After all, my work is fabulous. *Please note the sarcasm here.* With this in mind, I tried to downplay all of my work, which is difficult when being stared at intently and questioned for the first twenty minutes by the leader of the group.

The group consisted of four members, although I was told there were as many as eight. Our leader (who I will return to later), an older gentleman who self-pubbed on Kindle and a set of twin girls who have a graphic novel up on Lulu.com. Half-way through, we were joined by another new member, a lady of Asian origins. I'm not sure where exactly, since she dodged around the subject by referring to it as her 'Native Language.'

Now, I've been in lots of writing groups and classes over the years and aside from 'those guys,' most members have always been fairly normal. For the first time, I was meeting with characters. The thought seems absurd, but it's true. I had to fight the urge to start scribbling away in my notebook, jotting down ideas for Breakfast Club meets Dead Poets' Society. With so few people there, I knew my sudden note taking would be noticed and questioned. I waited until I got home and wrote out a quick character sketch. This morning, I expanded it into a flash fiction piece.

Overall, my experience was different, but good. I now have two new friends on Facebook and other people to talk to about my writing, face-to-face. I believe I'll be returning to the next meeting.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

When Writers Meet Face to Face

So, I'm finally doing it. After six years of writing in my own little world with the occasional input from online writing communities, I am joining a real-live writing group. This of course means the buffer between comments and reactions will disappear and I can only hope I'm ready for it.

The last time I sat in a writing group was March of 2006. How do I know? Because I was expecting my first child and after finding out we were having a boy, I skipped writing group to celebrate with my husband and never returned. At that point, my writing was put aside as well in order to prepare for our new arrival, not to be seriously picked up again until October 2009. Even then it was more as a side venture than looking to be a novelist.

March 2010 saw a shift in my career, opening up more time for me to spend with my children and with my writing. With my husband pushing me along, I managed to write my first two novels by the end of the year. One went on to the quarter-finals of the ABNA contest last year. The pen was back in my hand and scribbling away. The only problem - I had a limited audience.

Looking to garner feedback and improve my writing, I turned to online communities like Authonomy and smaller writing groups formed through online friendships during ABNA and NaNoWriMo. While the help given through these venues was great, I realized I needed something more. My husband knew it, too. When we moved he suggested I join the writing group at our library.

I put it off for months, saying I didn't have the time. It was more an issue of anxiety. Like most writers, I'm an introvert. We prefer to write on our own and only comment on another's writing when we have something worth pointing out. The internet is great for us. It allows us to lurk on forums, read whatever we feel like reading and open our mouths only when necessary.

Let's face it, on the internet is a writer's best friend. We're writers, we love expressing ourselves through the written word. On the internet we appear witty and easy-going. That's not to say we're not in reality, but we tend to hold back. We have to let our internal editor stop our mouths more or risk offending someone. With our writing, offending is often seen as a plus.

In a writing group, there's nowhere to hide and lurk in the shadows. Everyone can see you sitting there and will quickly catch onto your commenting style. Things you like and what you'll pick on. How often you speak up and how long you sit there quietly. Basically, I'm a bit nervous, and not about my own writing. Hopefully I'll survive tonight with minimal damage and decide it wasn't so bad. I'll let you know in a week.

Anyone else in a 'Real-Live' writing group? What do you like about it? Does your group do something different to ease the feedback/commenting?

Monday, April 9, 2012

Keep Believing, Keep Pretending...

I finally had the chance to watch the new Muppet movie this past weekend. Yes, I am a life-long Muppet fan. Yes, I cried profusely. It made me think a lot, remembering my own childhood and part of the reasons why I am what I am today. I considered doing a review, but realized my feelings were more personal than a normal review would allow. Instead, I decided to do a mock letter to Jason Segel, who made the movie what it was. So, without further ado, my take on The Muppets.

*WARNING: Large amounts of Geekdom and Fandom follow, along with a possibility of spoilers.*

Dear Mr. Segel,

I'm sure you have heard this countless times from every fan who has watched The Muppets movie, but I am, without a doubt, Walter. I danced to the theme song before I could even walk and watched religiously every week. Once we owned a VCR, my dad was forced to tape every episode and many of those tapes still survive today, albeit worn out and fuzzy from the years. Whenever I was asked what I was going to be when I grew up, my answer was I would be on the Muppet Show.

The most traumatic episode of my young life came when I was 9 years old and my father told me Jim Henson had passed away. I was crushed. All my dreams were gone. While it was true there were several attempts to resurrect the Muppets over the interceding 20 years, they felt like the Moopets masquerading under the Muppet name. Something was always missing, the important elements that made them something more.

I'll freely admit, I was skeptical when I heard you were going to give it another go. Why can't they just leave what's left of my childhood memories alone? My husband was willing to give you the benefit of the doubt and talked me into watching. I want to thank him for believing in you when I had given up and to you for making me love the Muppets again.

You have captured perfectly the frustration every fan has felt over the past two decades. The sadness of 'our' Muppets disappearing to be replaced by what executives think we want. Muppets that had turned to crassness to cover the lost chemistry. All of us have been searching for the Kermit we knew and loved, suddenly absent from our lives and entertainment. You found him and brought him and the whole gang back.

While it's true they now have to 'start from scratch' to rebuilt their audience among younger viewers, the real Muppets have never been forgotten by their fans. They inspired us to dream and believe. To act silly and enjoy life. Most of all, they taught us that if a pig and a frog can fall in love, a bear can tell jokes and a Gonzo can gather fans through 'performance art,' anything is possible.

Normally I don't get so emotionally invested in movies. After all, they're only entertainment for a short period of time. This was more for me. It awoke every childhood memory. It made me believe in my dreams again. Thank you.

From one Muppet fan to another, you did just what you set out to do.

Friday, April 6, 2012

This Weekend...

Have a fantastic Easter, Passover, Welcome to Spring or however you choose to celebrate this season. Enjoy the time given to you to spend with those you love. Remember to observe it the way you want to and respect other's beliefs and traditions.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Mommas, Don't Let Your Kids Grow-up to be Writers

"You can be anything you want, just don't become a writer." I tell my kids this all the time, semi-jokingly of course. If either of them decided to pick up the pen (or Word Processor), I'd be insanely proud. So, why would I tell them not to? Because I know how tough it is with a possibility of no reward beyond a sense of accomplishment.

Yesterday an article from the New York Times about self-publishing circulated through all my on-line writing groups. I know, an article about self-pubbing, big deal, but this one was different. This particular article was about parents publishing their kids work via self-publishing outlets.

I read the article, read Maureen Johnson's response, talked to my husband and other writer friends and thought about my feelings on it. Would I rush out to publish my kid's work, even if I thought he was the next Mark Twain, Shakespeare or Stephanie Meyers? Is publishing their work like this going to help them down the road or hurt them?

My husband's take on this when I told him was it wouldn't matter. From a reader's point-of-view, there's so many self-published 'junk' out there, it would only add to the heap. His thoughts made me think of how other self-publishers feel about this. Yes, anyone has access to publishing now and the stigma, while somewhat fading, is still attached to those who choose this route.

I know many self-published authors who put in the time and energy to write something worth reading and spend the money to make sure it looks professional. When the market gets flooded by parents publishing their kids' books, the image these other self-pubbers have worked to achieve gets further tarnished.

Every writer knows the process is long and full of heart-break. Rejection from publishers and agents, rewrites and restructuring are something we all face. Self-publishing without going through rewrites and editing is taking the easy way, something that is true for adults as well as kids. It shows a lack of trying and laziness, things that will show in the overall story.

Something else these parents aren't thinking about is the criticism their kids will now face as 'published' authors. No one author is loved by every reader, no matter how fantastic they are. Having our work torn apart is all part of what being a writer is about. They think they're helping with their kids' self-esteem, but what happens when the negative reviews and comments start showing up on their book pages?

I'm completely for kids writing. I encourage my children to make up stories and will type or write them down so they can illustrate them. In elementary school we did a collection of poems which the teacher 'bound' and we all received a copy of. Many younger kids participate in Young Authors through schools and libraries. My own mom bought one of those binder machines when I was little because she wanted to 'publish' my work. (I wouldn't let her.)

The point of my post isn't to discourage or stop young, aspiring writers, it's to make their parents think before they push that 'publish' button. Instead of self-publishing and throwing your kid out into the public, unprepared, sign them up for writing classes or clubs. Let them learn about the craft, as well as how to handle criticism and rejection, before they try for the big time.

While they're learning to write, maybe the parents should acquaint themselves with the publishing industry and find out what their kids are really up against.