• Micro Fiction Challenge: Callipygian

    By on May 26, 2016 Posted in Micro Fiction Challenge     Comments 3 comments
    May
    26

    DavidI love learning new words. Especially new words that make me giggle and are totally unnecessary, like this month’s micro fiction challenge word, callipygian.

    Callipygian comes from Ancient Greek: “kalli,” meaning beautiful, and “pugḗ,” meaning buttocks.

    That’s right, gang. We have a word in the English language to define beautiful buttocks. Because why say “He/she/it has beautiful buttocks” when you can say “He/she/it is callipygian.”

    (Seems an appropriate choice, coming just a few short weeks after we took a (too-) deep look at break of poop.)

    Accepted alternative: callipygous, which you’re free to use instead for this challenge.

    The challenge being: Write a short story, in twenty-five words or fewer, that includes callipygian/callipygous. read more

    3 Common Critique Group Flaws

    By on May 19, 2016 Posted in Strategies     Comments 31 comments
    May
    19

    Critique groupA couple of weeks ago, [redacted] from [redacted] emailed to ask us if a critique group was right for her. “I’m in the early stages of writing my first thriller,” she wrote, “and I don’t really have anyone I trust to read my first few chapters. But there’s a writing group listed on Meetup that I am thinking of trying, and wondering if you can tell me some critique group flaws and if you think critique groups are a good idea or bad?”

    I hate to say this, but the answer is … shoulder shrug. Critique groups are like snowflakes; every one is different, and don’t drive your car through a pile of them unless it’s an emergency.

    Whether or not a specific critique group is right for you depends entirely on three things: the group’s format, the quality of its humans, and what you’re hoping to get out of it.

    Since it’s more fun to poo-poo than to woo-hoo, today we’ll discuss three common critique group flaws.

    If you have the time, it’s not a bad idea to join a few groups and attend a session or two of each. And then winnow ’em down. As soon as you spot more than one of the following critique group flaws, bounce.

    read more

    Q&A With Yi Shun Lai

    By on May 10, 2016 Posted in WBN News & Events     Comments 8 comments
    May
    10

    A few days before Yi Shun Lai’s debut novel, Not a Self-Help Book: The Misadventures of Marty Wu, was released by Shade Mountain Press, she and I chatted a bit about the book, her writing process, and a topic I’ve beaten into the ground by now, our shared fascination with Cheez-It crackers.

    You regular readers are plenty familiar with Yi Shun by now through her posts and through her regular interaction with y’all in the comments sections. (Also, I touched on her novel earlier this year.)

    Enjoy our Q&A below, and then go check out her wonderful book.

    Have a question of your own for Yi Shun Lai? Fire away in the comments section. (Just don’t expect immediate answers — the weeks after publishing a book are exhausting.) (Or so I’m told!) read more

    Reading Resolution: April Showers (of Men)

    By on May 3, 2016 Posted in WBN News & Events     Comments 8 comments
    May
    3

    33rdAfter a rather lackluster March — three books, all dudes — I picked it up a little in April.

    Except for the “all dudes” portion: Five books in April, all by men. Three of them are technically for work, so that’s part of it. And also I’m partway into two books written by women, and given a few more days, they’d have made this list.

    But they didn’t. So I’m at 19 books on the year, 12 by men. Clearly I am lagging.

    The other half of the bet is going better: 11 of the 19 fit the minority and/or translated writer bill. Still, I’m not exactly killing it.

    (Here are January, February and March, if you’re new to this and curious.)

    What are you currently reading? And how is your reading resolution going? Let us know below.

    And now for the books. read more

    When Your Family Doesn’t Understand Your Writing Pursuits

    By on April 27, 2016 Posted in Strategies     Comments 24 comments
    Apr
    27

    writing pursuitsWe’ve fielded an awful lot of questions and complaints lately from writers whose families and friends don’t understand their writing pursuits and/or are unwilling to take them seriously.

    Here’s one, drawn from a comment on a recent blog post:

    “I was three chapters into my psychological thriller, and needed feedback and encouragement. I reached out to family and friends, and generally made it known that I was going to achieve my dream, however long it was going to take. I might as well have said I was going to adopt an elephant. Many of [them] believe that writing is an impractical pie-in-the-sky hobby, and my announcement was met with indifference and eye-rolling. … My own mother said she would not read my book even if published because it was not ‘her kind’ of book.”

    It’s a common complaint because it’s a common trait; people often don’t understand interests/passions outside of their own. Think of the overly macho failed-jock dad who forces his kid to attend basketball camp even though the kid really wants to go to space camp.

    You want to go on a writing retreat. Your family says “Get a real job.” It hurts your feelings. What do you do?

    read more

    April 20, 2017: Your Writing Goals & You

    By on April 20, 2016 Posted in Inspiration     Comments 13 comments
    Apr
    20

    Here comes a sentence so abhorrent that I suddenly feel the need to write it in verse so that I can have a break between the awful bits:

    Monday morning

    I stood on line

    At the post office

    For a “certificate of mailing”

    To send our quarterly taxes to the

    Internal Revenue Service.

    (N.b. In the Midwest we stand in line. Here in NYC, we stand on line. Is that a dominance thing? In line, you’re at the mercy of the line. “Get in line with the rest of us sheep and wait your turn. That’s right, all the way in the baaaaaaaaaaaack.” [Ugh, I’m so sorry about that.] On line, it’s like you’ve got things under control; you’re the one giving the mercy. “I choose to remain on line for now, but if I wanted to, I could skip all you turkeys and go to the front because I have that privilege and you all should thank me for not exercising it.”)

    (N.b. I still think the plural of turkey should be turkies. Turkies & monkies.)

    Well great, we’re right on track, as usual. read more

    Reading Resolution: March Report

    By on April 12, 2016 Posted in WBN News & Events     Comments 6 comments
    Apr
    12

    TombstoneMarch was a real bummer of a month for me, reading-wise: three books, all dudes, which doesn’t help much in keeping me ahead of pace on the reading resolution I told y’all about.

    Public shaming is imminent.

    Not only that, two of the three books were disappointing, to the point that I almost didn’t finish them.

    If not for this resolution thingie, and how it forced me to forge ahead, I probably would have read in full only one book this month.

    Let’s start with the one I did enjoy: read more


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