Readathon Wrapup

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Last Friday (as in a few days ago) I found out about Dewey’s Readathon. I’ve really been thinking about the literary world and giving back lately especially because John Green has been in the spotlight. (rah-rah!) So I decided to jump into Saturday’s readathon wholeheartedly, unprepared and super excited. Sadly, my total reading hours was, to put it eloquently, very crappy. My Saturday had already been blocked out and I scrambled to cram in as much reading as possible.

But the re-tweets and support readathon-ers showed me and others was palpably exciting and stimulating. What an amazing universe where complete strangers encourage each other in our own private endeavors. I loved that each reader had their own charity close to their heart that they were raising money towards. I was humbled that Reach Out and Read, reached out to ME because of my small efforts for their organization. There were many things I learned this first time around..

1. Why was I asking other to re-tweet all #readathon tweets? Give readers/passersby a reason to be re-tweeting.

2. Re-tweet others’ efforts more.

3. When leaving blog post comments, make it all about that person. Instead of things we had in common or what I was doing.

4. Set a money goal for hours read AND books finished. And set a reading hour goal in the first place.

With the time I did have, I discovered that I really enjoyed Marissa Meyer’s Lunar series. Sometimes I stay away from books because they are so well liked-hyped but this was a mistake with this trilogy and I’m so glad I’ve rectified it.

So, Dewey’s Readathon was, in my book, a great success despite my paltry offering at the end of the day. Next year I’ve vowed to do better and hopefully raise much more money for organizations that are doing such saving work.

 

 

*image Wikicommons Chemical Heritage Foundation, Mattheus van Hellemont The Alchemist

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The Game is On!!!

::Sounds of Typewriters clacking, shoes rushing the floor, doors slamming::

Oh the flurry and commotion at the foreign office today!! I’m out of the country office and in our bunker down below the streets of London heading up a small branch of a secret global organization. What we’re exactly doing, I can’t say. But what I can share is the outreach effort of our branch plus hundreds of others around the world. HUNDREDS.

 

Intro, the Dewey’s Readathon + Geeky Blogger Twist!

As I sit here typing, trying to keep my thoughts straight –“stop that shouting! Who is shouting!?” I’m super excited to be involved with a world literacy effort in memory of Dewey. I’ve got a pile of books TBR and a delicious breakfast smuggled in to me from a local bakery up top.

The charity I’m reading for is Read Out and Read, an “evidence-based nonprofit organization of medical providers who promote early literacy and school readiness in pediatric exam rooms nationwide by giving new books to children and advice to parents about the importance of reading aloud”.

Because boy howdy, do I believe in parents reading with their children.

As is usual in my life, I’m about 2-4 weeks behind everyone else (hence the scramble happening here. “Stop that racket!”) so I’m desperately re-arranging our schedule to read as much as possible today/get the word out.

“Where are my books? The books! Where are they?”:: Mad scramble ensues as I turn back to the keyboard::

As it is, I’m donating $2.50 for every 30 minutes I read. Beginning with the marvelous Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles (as Marissa is also donating $ for every one of her books read). In addition to $1.00 for every blog comment on this post and .25 cents for every re-tweet of any #readathon tweet I ..tweet. Hmm. You get the idea.

Ahhhh! This just in: the super secret list of incredibly helpful links:

Get Started HERE (Marissa Meyer’s blog post)
Read Felicia’s How-to HERE
My twitter (.25 cents/tweet!) HERE
Readathon Twitter HERE
Hashtags: #readathon #rahrahreadathon #dewey

Band with me readers! As we take the world by storm one book at a time!

Why are you still here?! Go! Read!! 🙂 Then come back and tell me 1. What you’re reading 2. What charity you’re reading for (if you are) or 3. Your favorite book of all time!!

 

#Bradburychallenge

Out of the country office today, so a quick word from the field..

If you’re participating in the #Bradburychallenge to read one short story/ essay and one poem per night, here is the line-up:

1. Edgar Allen Poe-short stories

2. Emily Dickenson- poetry

 

We’re starting with the Greats, but next month I’m shifting to writers not as notorious but equally valuable.

 

JG out.

There and Back Again. With a Ray Bradbury Challenge.

 

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Dear reader,

I’m out of the country house today and am, well..actually, in the shire. In a hobbit hole to be exact. Which, if you’re looking for a place for sheltered hospitality, this is the place to be.

It smells of bread baked the day before, damp earth and something ancient and musty in the wood that makes up the tables and the chair I’m sitting on. The house is quiet besides a ticking clock. Outside, I can see the trees bending in the fierce winds and good folk with their heads bent leading animals to their pens and carrying baked goods and tools on their shoulders. If there is anyplace on earth (or, Middle Earth) where one needs to just be, this is it.

But I am getting carried away, the true purpose of this post is to invite you to do something with me. Earlier I listened to an Evening with Ray Bradbury (a man much beloved by the hobbits here) in which he proscribes reading one short story, one poem and an essay each night before going to bed. For one-thousand days. (Watch HERE.) I’ve decided to take up his challenge myself. Will you do it with me?

In case you don’t know this, Ray Bradbury received every literary award conceivable. I think it’s safe to say the man knew what he was talking about. Listen to his whole address for the old-fashioned, non-nonsense advice for writers if you so care too. (WORTH IT).

So I’m going to try him out. For three-hundred and sixty-five days rather then one-thousand. Each week I’d like to post the order of stories, poems and essays I’m reading. Feel free to read them with me and let’s discuss. Or, of course, follow your own fancy but we can still discuss.

I just don’t think you can loose, doing an exercise like this.

What say you then? I do hope you’ll stay tuned for next Sunday night when I post the weeks’ readings!

 

*To be posted when back above ground in wi-fi

 
**art from wikicommons

Kill Your Darlings, Lessons From My Bathroom

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Dear Patient Readers,

I apologize for the long absence. I’ve just returned from a taxing trip to Zanzibar where negotiations with the locals did not go as well as I’d hoped. It’s a work in progress but if there is one thing I’ve learned from writing is that persistence is key for anything better you want in this life. (At least that’s what the professionals tell me. If I ever get through the “persisting” and to the “enjoying” part of persistence, I shall confirm it myself).

Since I’ve been home, I’ve ordered the house to detox itself from clutter and random trash. Like the Zanzibarbarians though, House was very stubborn and refused to yield up its hoards. Not only was the house resistant, but the clutter also seemed put-out that it was being, well, put-out. Like the laundry room’s six empty soap bottles and two pounds of lint I had to pry from the dead-hand walls. I had to take them all outside so the bottles would stop sneaking out of the trash bag and climb back onto their shelves above the washing machine.

Needless to say, dear read, it’s been quite the time.

An epiphany came to me, though, while I was thus engaged.

I was in the bathroom, googles on and plunger in hand, trying to rid the cupboard above the toilet of unnecessary old junky jewelry. The toilet, obviously disgruntled it was being used as a step-stool, was keeping up a vengeful geyser of water. As though that would have stopped me! ::racks with maniacal laughter, then pulls self together to type once more::

As one gush of water rolled off my hindquarters I stood there looking at the jewelry, wondering if I should toss it, when the phrase “kill your darlings” came to my mind. A reference for doing what you have to in books, I saw the real-life reason for why it is always necessary to kill your darlings to produce your best work.

You spend days, months, even years clinging onto what you love most about your story. It fuels the late nights or early mornings, all of those sacrifices you make to get those words onto paper. This is why I’m doing this you tell yourself This is what I love. And then you get stuck following your tight outline. Or, your critique group hates the chapter you proudly displayed with all the love of an eager parent.  Wailing and throwing yourself onto your bed (or am I the only one?) you despair over your art.

What you most likely need to do in these situations is to kill your darlings. Let go of those sentences, chapters or characters that simply put, do not belong in THIS story. Disentangle those strings from your brain to the computer and store those darlings away somewhere else and find the ones the story is wanting you to tell.

Art MUST be honest. A work of great ark MUST be honest. And if you push and wheedle away that small voice inside telling you that something just isn’t quite like the others, well..

Much like that toilet-water-soaked-tarnished-old jewelry. It was cluttering up my space. Once I tossed it, I forgot about it and now the bathroom shines with the story I want my house to tell about me. The story it’s been supposed to tell all along.

 

 

 

*image: wikicommons

Why Do You Write Fiction? Or in Other Words, I Put on My Doctor Phil Hat

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Dear writer-readers, -adjusts fake Dr-Phil ‘stache,

The country office is quiet tonight. It’s dark outside, dogs bark in the distance and my computer’s humming on my desk. (also I’ve eaten half of a graham cracker package and have the empty milk cup to prove it #theregoesmydiet).

Why do you write fiction?

I don’t mean the obvious reasons:

I write to escape.

I write because I have something to say.

I write because I want to entertain.

I write because I can’t not write.

I write because I want to make money/be the next jkrowling/sign lots of books like a star.

I write to leave my mark in the world. For future generations.

I write because it is how I express myself.

I write because I am a writer.

May I propose this theory to your astute observation?

 We write fiction to OVERCOME and MAKE SENSE of our own FEARS.

Let it sink in for a moment because I really want your thoughts on this.

Deep down why is your character the way she/he is? Is she the girl you never felt you could be in HS? Is your character overcoming the same deep-rooted insecurity you’ve carried around for years? And instead of standing and facing that real-life bully that makes you feel small your character fights dragons?

If you’re good, no one will ever know the you that’s in your book. No one will know that it is a exorcism for your own fears.

Neil Gaiman’s book, Ocean at the End of the Lane was one I read in two days. It is a brilliant piece of literature. It is a breathtaking work of fiction. A fiction book he was scared to put out into the world because it is intensely personal. (link to Amanda Palmer’s review of the book and the man).

Maybe you’ve been writing a book for a while. For years even. And it’s just not clicking. It’s the same characters and the same story but each time it’s told in a different way. Like a wind sock twisting with each new gust of wind. Without root or enough depth to carry a story with as much emotion and feeling and realism that you want to convey.

Can I hazard a guess of why not? (I AM a Hogwart’s grad, ’03 Delta Alpha Puff (Huffle, that is))

 It’s because you’re afraid to face your fear in writing. You’re not telling the story you’re supposed need to.

Face your fear. Find out what that fear is and why you’re telling it. Submerge your self-conscience in it and swim through it until you’ve broken the surface and can harness it. It will still and always be picketed in your heart. It will scare you and perhaps dredge up feelings and memories you desperately want to let lie.

 But your story will be incomplete. It will be no masterpiece. Until you can FEAR LESS. Until you realize you DO have the tools and skills to beat the bully. That you ARE worth everything you imagine yourself to be and MORE. If it takes fighting a dragon, then gird on your armor. Every day. Every day. Until that dragon is beaten.

By then, you’ll probably have an amazing, moving, deeply rooted novel as well.

*image Wikicommons