Friday, October 28, 2011

Why I Write

Song of the Day: Mr. Writer by Stereophonics 

   Hello all! Who is excited about the weekend? *Raises hand* I'm hoping for another productive one. I have to work on issue #2 for Black Fox, do some more research for my NanoWriMo novel and I really want to get some reading in. I'm crossing my fingers that I get all of that done. Do you have any plans?

   I know I'm really late, but last week everyone was participating in the "Why I write" campaign. I was really busy and didn't get a chance to say why I write, so I thought I'd do a post on that. It's just that important to me.

Why I write...

   I have been writing since I could hold a pen and form words on a page. When I was in the first grade, I often stayed at my uncle's house when my parents were working. I would sit at his dining room table and write stories on construction paper, complete with illustrations. When I finished the story, I would tie the pieces of construction paper together with yarn. At this point in my life I didn't really know that I wanted to be a writer.

   When I got to the fifth grade, I was still writing stories. Writing had become second nature for me. English became my favorite subject and I enjoyed our weekly vocabulary words. My teacher told my mother that I "had a way with words." After hearing that, I told myself that I should be a writer. When the scholastic book fair came to our school, I got my mother to buy me the book, How I Came to be a Writer by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. I still have the copy as you can see in my picture above. I read it, and I knew right away that I wanted to be a writer.

   Throughout the remainder of my academic career I continued to do well in English and my teachers continued to praise my work, until I got to the eleventh grade. I began taking AP classes and my teacher was one of the toughest teachers at my school. She would return my papers with red ink bleeding over every single page. She pretty much broke me. By the end of that class, I believed that I couldn't make it as a writer after all.

   Then I got to college. I wore glasses and my mother had a friend who was studying pre-optometry and she suggested that I do the same. She said it was a really straightforward major. I thought that studying the human eye was something that might be interesting and I would be able to help people. When I had my first meeting with an advisor, I declared pre-optometry as my major. The problem was that it wasn't so straightforward. I had to take all theses prerequisite classes including chemistry, pre-calculus and algebra. I was struggling in those classes but excelling in my English classes.

   Then in English class one day my professor began to hand back the essays that were assigned. She didn't give me mine back and asked that I stay after class. I was terrified. I thought she was going to tell me that I needed to start off in a lower level of college English. What she said instead, was that she thought my paper was the best in the class. She told me that she was really impressed and that she had never seen such a well written college paper from a freshman. She then asked me what my major was and I told her pre-optometry. She asked "why?" with a look of disgust on her face. I explained to her why I chose the major, but as I was talking, suddenly none of my explanation made sense. It all sounded absurd. She told me that she didn't want to confuse me, but she thought that I should consider changing my major. She said that I have a gift and I belonged in the writing field. I changed my major the next semester.

   What was interesting was that in order to write that essay, I used a formula from that same tough teacher in the eleventh grade. This whole time Ms. Nichols was only being hard on me because she wanted me to be the best. After that "aha!" moment as Oprah would call it, I never looked back. I was tired of fighting with myself. I was a writer and that was it. I still am. And it's still the ONLY thing that I really want to do. It is the one thing that makes me happy. It's the one thing that I can see myself doing for the rest of my life. And it's the one thing that if I couldn't do, I may as well fall off the face of the earth. It takes work, but a lot of the time it's not really work for me. I love it and if I never make a dime off of it, I'd still do it.

   This is a long post, but if you took the time to read it, please know that I appreciate you. Why do you write?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Preparing for NanoWriMo- Advice for the Newbies

Song of the Day: Dare You to Move by Switchfoot

   Hello all! We're almost done with the week, which means we're that much closer to the weekend! You know what else it means? We're that much closer to National Novel Writing Month a.k.a NanoWriMo. I couldn't be happier. There is just something about the Nano campaign that makes me get my butt in the chair. I'm also really excited about my novel.

   I did NanoWriMo for the first time last year and it taught me a lot about myself as a writer. It also gave me the courage to FINALLY stop making excuses and write my first novel. I did a post on what I learned, which you can find here. I also learned a lot about what I should be doing to prepare. I wrote a post about that too. It's called Gearing Up for National Novel Writing Month. Having actually gone through the experience, I also learned a couple of things along the way that I should have done, but didn't. I thought I'd give some advice on that today and also recap a little on how to prepare.

With that being said, here is what I know to be true about NanoWriMo:

1. You'll need Coffee

I wasn't a coffee drinker before NanoWriMo but last November, I became one. Trust me, you will need that cup in the morning to either perk your eyes up, or you'll need it at night to keep your eyes open while you're trying to meet your word count for the day.

2. You'll need a Dropbox Account

Picture this: you're pounding away at the keyboard. You're somewhere at the 20,000 word mark and your laptop falls out of your lap and hits the floor--with your jump drive. Gasp! That happened to me. Luckily, I had emailed the majority of my novel to myself, so I only lost about 2,000 words. Still, if you know the word count requirement for the day, (1667) then you know that a loss of 2,000 words sets you back a couple days. I pouted and I didn't write for three days. Had I had a Dropbox account, I would have had my novel backed up. My suggestion is to back your novel up in as many places as possible, DAILY. I mean email it, put it in Dropbox, put it on a flash drive, put it on an external hard drive, save it to your computer, get my point?

3. Outline...or Don't Outline

Last year I outlined the first eight chapters of my novel. By about chapter two, I was going in another direction. That is how I discovered that I'm indeed a panster. I like to let the story form on its own. My characters do the talking for me. They often have very different ideas than I do. This is what works for me. If you're more of a plotter, then you definitely want to take some time to sit down and outline before NanoWriMo starts. If you're like me and you're a panster, I would still suggest having a loose outline. Just a few ideas jotted down about where you intend for the story to go. That way, if you get writer's block, (and there's a 90% chance you will) you can refer to your list of ideas.

4. Resist the Urge to Edit

The whole point of NanoWriMo is to just write. I had a lot of trouble even writing my novel because I was always so critical. I would stop and edit, then get frustrated and stop writing altogether. Relax. When you get the urge to edit, remember that you're just getting the words on the page. I like to repeat to myself: "You can go back and fix that later."

5. Map Out Your Day

It is crucial that you plan to write every day. If you fall behind, it is VERY possible to catch up, but it's also a lot harder. I like to think of everything I have to do for the day and decide when I can sneak in writing time. Last year, I wrote in the car before work, I wrote on my lunch hour and even got a few words in between work hours. Figure out the little gaps of time you have and use them to your advantage. I get to work early and usually have about thirty minutes to spare.  That would allow me to write anywhere from 400-700 words. That's a good chunk of your daily goal. If you notice that there will be a day where you'll be too busy to write, try and write extra words on other days. Just make sure you plan.

6. Get a Support System

If you don't know any writers, it's really easy to make writer friends from NanoWriMo. I made a ton on twitter alone using the hashtag #NanoWriMo. Having NanoWriMo friends is important because these are the people who will cheer you on, they'll understand if you're behind on your word count or if you're struggling with your characters, they'll also encourage you to keep going. I couldn't have done it without my NanoWriMo buddies.

   If you want to look me up on the Nano site, my name is Clasica106. I'm really excited about National Novel Writing Month this year. I can't wait to get started on my novel. I'll see you folks in the trenches! Good luck writers!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Opportunities in the Great Big Literary World- October 24, 2011

Song of the Day: Never Surrender by Cory Hart

   Hello all! How was the weekend? I had a great time celebrating my father's birthday! We got him an Android phone and he loved it! The look on his face was priceless. Nothing made me happier than seeing his reaction. I also had a chance to work on Black Fox, edit for my sorority newsletter, and start researching for my National Novel Writing Month Novel. It was a really productive weekend, which I haven't had in a long time. How has everyone been doing with submissions? Remember, it's better to submit at least one thing to one place, instead of nothing at all. October is almost over, so if you haven't submitted anything this month, consider choosing from my list today!

Calls for Submissions:

1. Noir Nation

Noir Nation is currently reading for issue #2. They're looking for Crime stories in the noir tradition as well as essays and graphic novels. Deadline to be considered for issue #2 is December 22, 2011.

2. Literary Laundry

Literary Laundry accepts fiction, poetry and one-act dramas. They also publish novellas and chapbooks.

3. The Tavern's Vault 

The Tavern's Vault is an online fantasy magazine seeking 1000-6000 word fantasy/medieval fiction. They're also seeking non-fiction, reviews, and art related to the fantasy/medieval genre.

4. Nontrue

Nontrue is looking for stories that come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They publish one story a week. Submit your poetry, fiction or non-fiction.

5. Two Thirds North

Two Thirds North seeks poetry, fiction, memoirs, essays, and photography. Reading period ends November 15, 2011.

As always Black Fox Literary Magazine is accepting fiction, non-fiction, poetry and art. We're also looking for guest blog posts and guest bloggers. Email if interested. Our second issue will be out a week from today! There won't be any opportunities next Monday, as I'll be posting about Black Fox. Happy Writing!

Friday, October 21, 2011

End of the Week Check-In and Black Fox Literary Magazine

Song of the Day: Weekend by The Black Eyed Peas feat Esthero

   Hello all! Well, we've made it through another week! Before you know it, October will be over. By that time we'll be in full National Novel Writing Month mode (at least I will.) This post will be very short today because I'll soon be on my way to my hometown to celebrate my dad's birthday! He's such an inspiration and he's a really big part of my life, which is why he deserves my undivided attention today.

I wanted to let you all know about a post my sisters Pam and Quita wrote about Black Fox. We are on the verge of releasing issue #2 and we couldn't be more excited. If you read issue #1, then you're really going to LOVE issue #2. We're going to be including some very talented writers. I hope you all will check it out! Also, read the post Pam and Quita wrote. We're looking for a couple of things and we'd love it if you gave feedback or expressed interest.

Have a great weekend everyone! Write a lot.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Opportunities in the Great Big Literary World- October 17, 2011

Song of the Day: I Believe I can Fly by R. Kelly

   Hello all! How was the weekend? I am happy to report that I'm finally feeling better. Still have a few very faint symptoms, but the aches, pain, and the urge to stay on the couch is gone! Now I have to play catch up. Just wanted to let everyone know that Black Fox has a new website! Check it out and let me know what you think. We're still tweaking it, but Pam, Quita and I are very excited. Hope everyone is finding a little time to submit their work. Hopefully, you can find something on my list.


1. Narrative Magazine's 30 and Below Story Contest

Narrative is calling on writers, visual artists, photographers, performers, and filmmakers, between eighteen and thirty years old, to tell them a story. First Prize is $1,500, Second Prize is $750, Third Prize is $300, and ten finalists will receive $100 each. Submissions are accepted in the following media: Written (fiction, non-fiction, including short stories, novel excerpts, essays, memoirs, and excerpts from book-length nonfiction), Drawn (graphic novels and comics), Photographed, Spoken, Filmed. The entry fee is $20 and the contest ends on October 29, 2011.

2. Quarter After Eight- Robert J. Demott Short Prose Contest

Submit your prose poem, short short fiction, or essay in brief. Submissions should be 500 words or less. Reading fee is $15 for every three pieces submitted. A complimentary one-year subscription to the journal is included with the submission fee. One winner will receive a prize of $1,000 and publication. Deadline is December 1, 2011.

Calls for Submissions:

1. Weave Magazine

Weave is currently seeking fiction (including flash fiction), non-fiction, poetry, drama, reviews, and artwork.

2. Split 

Split is seeking stories, photos, art, poetry for their winter issue. The theme is: Spare. Deadline is December 1, 2011.

3. Marathon Literary Review 

Submit your fiction, poetry, art, photography and multimedia pieces. The reading period for the winter issue ends November 30, 2011.

As Always, Black Fox Literary Magazine is always accepting fiction, non-fiction, poetry and art. We're also looking for contributing bloggers, and guest posts. If interested email Be on the watch for Issue #2, out October 31, 2011! Happy Writing!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday Fives- Favorite Childhood Books + Winners of my Giveaway!

Song of the Day: Tik Tok by Kesha

   Hello all! How did everyone brave the week? I have been miserable for most of it due to this cold that turned into the flu. I'm getting better, but I'm still not 100%. I'm really hoping it goes away within the next few days as I need to start preparing for National Novel Writing Month, not to mention the release of Black Fox's issue #2! I'll try the "getting my life together thing" again this weekend. But that's only if I can get rid of this bug.

It's Friday so it's time for Friday Fives! The blog Paper Hangover asks:

What are your FIVE favorite childhood books?

1. Miss Nelson is Missing

2. Corduroy

3. Amelia Bedelia- All of Them!

4. Berenstein Bears- All of Them!

5. Where the Wild Things Are 

Also, I'm announcing the winners of my Banned Books Giveaway! Yes, it's time to party! I'll be contacting you by email soon. I did this the old school way. I selected names out of a hat! And the WINNERS are:

1. Sophia Chang

2. Jennifer Hillier

3. Sarah Allen

Congrats! Have a great weekend everyone!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Opportunities in the Great Big Literary World- October 10, 2011

Song of the Day: Reach by Gloria Estefan

   Hello all! How was the weekend? Shamefully, I have to admit that I didn't get all the things on my to-do list done. After I came home from community service, the cold that I have had for over two weeks, caught up with me. I stayed in bed for the rest of the weekend. I hate when things happen that are beyond my control. I had so much to do, I still have so much to do. I'm trying to play catch up today before I head into work tomorrow.

   Don't forget about my Banned Books Giveaway. Last day to enter is this Wednesday October 13, 2011!

   We started a new month, have any of you taken the time to sit down and plan out where you'll submit your work? I hope you're still keeping up! Here are a few options to choose from.


1. Glimmer Train Family Matters Contest

Glimmer Train Stories is looking for stories about family. Stories are usually 1,500-6,000 words but can go up to 12,000 words. First place wins $1,200, publication in Glimmer Train Stories and 20 copies of the issue. Second place wins $500 and third place wins $300. Reading fee is $15 and the contest closes on October 31, 2011.

2. Gemini Magazine Poetry Contest

The contest is open to all forms of poetry. First prize wins $1,000. Second place wins $100 and third place wins $50. Three honorable mentions will also be announced. All six finalists will be published in the March 2012 issue of Gemini Magazine. Entry fee is $5 and the contest closes on January 3, 2012.

3. The Danahy Fiction Prize- Tampa Review

One previously unpublished work of short fiction will be given an award of $1,000 and publication in Tampa Review. All entrants will receive a one-year subscription to Tampa Review. Manuscripts should be between 500 and 5,000 words. Entry fee is $15 and the contest deadline is November 1, 2011.

4. Straylight Fiction Contest

Straylight Literary Magazine is hosting their first short-fiction contest. Submissions should be between 1,000 and 5,000 words. First place wins $125, print publication, 1-year subscription, 3 copies; Second place wins $50, print publication, 1-year subscription, 3 copies; Third place wins $25, print publication, 1-year subscription, 3 copies. There is a $10 reading fee and the contest closes on October 21, 2011. For more information visit the link below.

Calls for Submissions:

1. Steampunk Anthology

Entangled Publishing is seeking submissions for a summer 2012 steampunk anthology. Submissions should be 20,000 to 30,000 words in length, contain strong romantic elements and heavily feature steampunk technology and the alternate world it exists in. From what I can see, there is no reading fee. Submissions will remain open until December 1, 2011.

2. The Coffin Factory

The Coffin Factory publishes phenomenal fiction, essays and art three times a year. Send your original fiction or essays under 6,000 words.

As always, Black Fox Literary Magazine is accepting submissions of fiction, poetry and non-fiction. We are also looking for guest bloggers and regular contributors. If you're interested in blogging for us, send an email to Be on the lookout for our second issue, set to be released October 31, 2011! Happy Writing!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Friday Fives- The Five Ways I Find Inspiration

Song of the Day: Somewhere Over the Rainbow by Ella Fitzgerald

   Hello all! I know, it's been a while. As I tweeted last night, "October is kicking my a**!" It's been a rough start to the month and I've been insanely busy. I'm thinking it may be one of those things again where I have too much on my plate. I'm hoping to take the weekend to "organize my life." My parents will be out of town, which means I won't be leaving town and I'll be at my own apartment. I'm looking forward to some quiet time so that I can get a couple things done. I'm usually much more productive by myself. What are your plans this weekend?

It's time for Friday Fives! The blog Paper Hangover asks:

What are Five ways you find writing inspiration? 

1. Reading

Often, I'm inspired by reading a book. For me, an idea can spark from a single word in the dialogue or a phrase the character might use.

2. Television

Like reading, I get a lot of ideas and inspiration from TV. Seriously. A scene will trigger something in my head and then I'll usually make a note of it and come back to it later.

3. Music

Same concept as #1 and #2. Song are like short versions of a stories and they can make us feel emotions. It's no surprise that we can be inspired to write simply by listening to music. And most of my editing time is spent with my iTunes running on shuffle in the background.

4. Other Writers

Other writers, whether they are famous or not, inspire me. When I hear about writers going through the same things as me (writer's block, editing, re-writes, trouble with scenes) I'm always inspired to keep going because they keep going. When I hear about writers getting agents or getting book deals, I'm inspired. I keep going. I keep thinking that one day that will be me.

5. Life

Life inspires me. I'm truly thankful for being alive in this "advanced age." We have so much technology and information at our fingertips. Living life and all the ups and downs inspires me everyday.

   The picture I used above also inspires me! I found it after I finished this blog post. Obviously, I need to stop complaining about having too much on my plate, and just eat what's there already! What inspires you to write? Have a great weekend everyone!