Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘writing’

My reading pace was halted over the weekend when the nasty cold working its way through my family finally hit me.  I’m feeling much better now and have hit the books again.  I was glad to see that Kimberly from Reflections of a Book Addict had tagged me as part of a discussion to get to know different bloggers, otherwise all you’d be hearing here today is the sound of crickets.

Here are 11 questions from Kimberley:

1.  As a book blogger you obviously read a lot of books.  What is the one book you recommend to people over and over?

I recommend a lot of books, but if I had to pick one, I’d say Jane Austen’s Persuasion, especially if the person has read and enjoyed Pride and Prejudice.  I loved Persuasion even more!

2. Why did you start blogging?

In 2007, I started reading a lot of knitting blogs, mainly because I was so new to the craft and needed help.  I thought starting a blog would be a good way to keep track of my knitting projects, especially since most of what I knit I give away.  But because I read books much faster than I knit, I figured I could also use my blog as a way to jot down my thoughts about all the books I read.  The first year didn’t go so well, as I hardly blogged at all, but then I discovered book blogs and found out how much fun it is to talk about books with people who love to read as much as I do!

3. If you had all the money in the world and could travel to ONE place, where would it be and why?

Probably the Black Forest region of Germany.  My mother was born there, and she hasn’t been back since she came to the States when she was 3.  I’d love for us to see it together.

4. Who is your favorite author?

Jane Austen, of course!  But if I had to choose a contemporary author, it would probably be Amy Tan or Tim O’Brien.

5. If you had to give your blog a color to describe it, what color would you give it?

It’s a light shade of purple, but if we’re not talking actual colors on the blog, I’d like to think of it as a sunny yellow, warm and inviting.

6. What book started your love of reading?

Gosh, I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t reading, so I don’t remember what book sparked my love for it as a child.  I do remember that Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself by Judy Blume, which was my favorite book as a middle-schooler, sparked my interest in World War II fiction, which was rekindled several years ago when I read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

7. What is your favorite genre to read?

Historical fiction, especially war-related novels and specifically those about World War II and the Holocaust.  There’s just something about that era (along with my family history) that both horrifies and fascinates me.

8. Is there a film adaptation that you think was better than the book? What film?

I liked the movie version of Nicholas Sparks’ The Notebook better than the book.

9. Where is your favorite place to read?

I love to read in bed because it makes me feel all cozy and ready for sleep.  But I don’t get any reading done when I’m sleeping, so I should probably say the train (and the subway…and the bus).  It helps block out the noise and makes the time pass faster.

10. What is your favorite guilty pleasure read?

Austen-inspired novels.  I can’t get enough of them.

11. Do you prefer solids or e-books?

My husband loves the Nook Tablet I gave him as a belated Christmas gift, but I just can’t get used to e-books.  I love the feel and the smell of a physical book.  There’s nothing else like it.

I’m supposed to create 11 new questions and tag some people, but my brain is still too foggy to be that creative.  So if you’re interested in answering these questions, go for it, and please link to your post in the comments!

© 2012 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

Read Full Post »

Today, I’m the guest blogger on At Home With Books as part of Alyce’s new Best and Worst series.  I’m taking on the works of my favorite author, Jane Austen.  However, I just can’t bring myself to think of Austen having a “worst” novel…just one I don’t like as much as the others.

What are my favorite and least favorite Austen works?  Click here to find out!  And feel free to let me know what your “best and worst” Austen novels are!

© 2011 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

Read Full Post »

[I’m unplugged and home from work today and tomorrow for a little mental health vacation, but I’ve pre-scheduled some posts.  Today, I’m reposting my Veteran’s Day tribute to my father from last year, with a tweak here or there.]

On Dec. 14, my father will have been dead for 11 years.  It doesn’t hurt any less than it did 11 years ago, and tears are in my eyes as I type this post. Although my father is no longer with us, I want to thank him today, on Veteran’s Day.  He was an MP in the Air Force in Vietnam, and he was proud to have served his country. I hope you will take a minute to read the essay I wrote about him in 2008, “Memories From the Daughter of a Vietnam Veteran,” which Mrs. Lieutenant author Phyllis Zimbler Miller posted on her blog. And I hope you will take a minute to remember the sacrifices of the men and women who fought and died for our country over the years and to thank those who continue to serve our country. I only wish I had been old enough and wise enough when my father was still alive to tell him how proud I am of him.

© 2010 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

Read Full Post »

On Dec. 14, my father will have been dead for 10 years.  It doesn’t hurt any less than it did 10 years ago, and tears are in my eyes as I type this post. Although my father is no longer with us, I want to thank him today, on Veteran’s Day.  He was an MP in the Air Force in Vietnam, and he was proud to have served his country. I hope you will take a minute to read the essay I wrote about him last year, “Memories From the Daughter of a Vietnam Veteran,” which Mrs. Lieutenant author Phyllis Zimbler Miller posted on her blog. And I hope you will take a minute to remember the sacrifices of the men and women who fought and died for our country over the years and to thank those who continue to serve our country. I only wish I had been old enough and wise enough when my father was still alive to tell him how proud I am of him.

© 2009 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

Read Full Post »

Thanks to a recommendation from my good friend Serena, I now have a freelancing gig. Check out my page, where I’ll be reviewing books (no surprise there!), interviewing authors, and detailing local bookish events.

I just posted my first article about Holocaust books here. The more people who visit my page/articles, the more successful this venture will be. So spread the word, subscribe to my articles by email, and of course, feel free to leave a comment on my posts over there. I’d love to hear what you all think.

I’ve long been looking for new outlets for my writing, so I’m very excited. Preparing articles (plus a down Internet connection at home) is why I’ve been so scarce lately, but once I get my Internet back up on Monday and create a new routine, hopefully it’ll be less hectic. At least the craziness involves things I love.

If any of you are interested in writing articles on Examiner.com, let me know in the comments or send me an email and I’ll send you a referral form.

© 2009 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

Read Full Post »

Serena and I attended the Conversations and Connections: Practical Advice on Getting Published conference on Saturday, April 11, in Washington, D.C. As she’s already posted a pretty comprehensive account of our day complete with pictures (I can’t believe I let her post a picture of me), I won’t bore all of you by repeating the details. I’ll just talk about my thoughts and feelings about the day and what I got out of the conference.

I don’t like crowds or walking all over the city in cold rain, and I tend to avoid D.C. unless I’m traveling through on my way to work or taking friends and family on a tour. But I braved the rain and the flood of tourists eager to see the cherry blossoms to attend the conference because I’d like to finish my novel before I die. I’ve been a writer for as long as I can remember, and it seems like I’ve been working on this book and living with the characters inside my head for as long as I can remember. I’ve managed to put a little bit of their stories on paper, but they’re not content to sit in my head any longer and need to get out. I was thrilled that the conference organizers replaced some of the panel discussions with craft lectures, and I jumped at the chance to get out of my writing rut.

We attended session on point of view, writer’s block, and writing sex scenes, and I was glad to learn some things I can actually put to use in my writing. (Last year it seemed as though the whole conference was published writers simply discussing their individual experiences, which didn’t help me much considering that I didn’t have a finished novel to market. I needed help with the writing so I could have a finished novel.)

Anyway, I’ve already started writing more in the little time I have after work, family obligations, household stuff, blogging, and reading. (And my husband wonders why I don’t sleep much!) I don’t want to impose a deadline on myself to complete the book because that would be disastrous, but I needed some motivation and now I know how to get something on the paper even if it’s not something I can use in my book.

I opted not to do speed dating with the editors this year because I didn’t have any snippets from my novel that I wanted to share (but I made Serena show part of hers just to prove to her that it’s a good start…I was right, of course…hee hee), I haven’t worked at all on the short story I brought last year, and I don’t write poetry anymore. The only thing I would change about the conference is to get rid of the featured speaker slot and add another craft lecture.

All-in-all, I had a wonderful, inspirational, motivational day (complete with tortellini and chicken from Bertucci’s because it’s mostly about writing but also a lot about the food LOL). Now I just have to work on creating some non-negotiable writing time when the hubby and The Girl know not to bother me. That’ll be a challenge, but I know it has to be done if I’m ever going to finish writing this book. Wish me luck!

© 2009 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

Read Full Post »

It’s official! Serena and I will be attending the Third Annual Conversations and Connections: Practical Advice on Getting Published conference on April 11. We attended last year and had a great time. (Read my conference recap here.)

This year, the featured speaker is Amy Hempel, and panelists include Susan Muaddi Darraj (read my interview with Darraj and my review of her novel, The Inheritance of Exile: Stories From South Philly, here); C.M. Mayo, author of The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire; and Deborah Ager of 32 Poems, who is working with Serena on those awesome poet interviews you’ve been reading about on Savvy Verse & Wit.

The panels include “The Novel: Juggling POVs,” “The Digital Literary Landscape,” and “Craft Lecture: Writing Sex Scenes.” See the complete list of speakers and panels here.

The Conversations and Connections conference is April 11 from 8:30 am to 5 pm at the Johns Hopkins University Advanced Writing Program campus in the Dupont Circle area of Washington, D.C. It costs just $55, and that includes 3 panels, a book, a subscription to a literary magazine, and speed dating with a literary magazine editor, in which you have 10 minutes to have them read and critique 1-2 pages of your writing.

If any of you are in the D.C. area and want to learn more about writing and publishing, we’d love to meet up with you!

© 2009 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

Read Full Post »

Wendy/Literary Feline from Musings of a Bookish Kitty has launched an awesome feature on her blog called A Page in the Life, in which she interviews book bloggers. I can’t wait to learn more about the bloggers I admire and enjoy reading.

I am honored that Wendy asked me to be her guinea pig. If you’d like to read our interview, click here.

Thanks, Wendy, for being such an asset to the book blogging community!

© 2009 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

Read Full Post »

My Writing Playlist

Every evening after The Girl goes to bed and hubby’s either snoozing on the couch or engrossed in sports, I have a little time to myself. While I’d love to use that time to catch up with all the blogs I follow, most of the time I try to write a little bit of my novel or a story or anything.

After a long day at work and a long commute home, I need to get the clutter out of my head so I can concentrate on my characters. A little background music helps me relax, and I selected a bunch of songs that sort of fit the mood of my novel and created a writing playlist on my iPod. There are too many songs to listen to them all in one sitting, so it takes me awhile to get through them all. I thought I’d share that list with you all.

(I bet you can tell which artists I like best, and…um…excuse my love for those 80s and early-90s hair band ballads!)

Here’s my extensive playlist (the ** ones I could listen to over and over):

You and Me~Lifehouse
Collide~Howie Day**
The Day Before You~Rascal Flatts
Broken~Seether w/ Amy Lee
China~Tori Amos
Silent Night~Bon Jovi
Break Down Here~Julie Roberts
Suddenly~LeAnn Rimes
Holy Water~Big & Rich
Here Is Gone~Goo Goo Dolls
Be the One~Poison
Damaged Goods~Jesse Valenzuela
I’m With You~Avril Lavigne
Let Love In~Goo Goo Dolls
Lay Your Body Down~Poison
Don’t Know What You Got (Til It’s Gone)~Cinderella
Life Goes On~Poison
Become~Goo Goo Dolls**
Wild Is the Wind~Bon Jovi
What Hurts the Most~Rascal Flatts**
Alabama~Cross Canadian Ragweed**
Again~Lenny Kravitz
Fallen~Sarah McLachlan
Holes~Rascal Flatts
Feel the Silence~Goo Goo Dolls
Through Glass~Stone Sour
Without You Here~Goo Goo Dolls**
Everything Changes~Staind**
Far Away~Nickelback**
The Flame~Cheap Trick
Completely~Jennifer Day
Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad~Def Leppard
Far and Away~Suzy Bogguss
I Won’t Forget You~Poison
Feels Like Today~Rascal Flatts
Keep Holding On~Avril Lavigne
As Long as It Matters~Gin Blossoms
Bless the Broken Road~Rascal Flatts
Stay With You~Goo Goo Dolls**
Only Time Will Tell~Poison**
The One~Gary Allan
Whatever It Takes~Lifehouse
How I Feel~Martina McBride
Breath~Michelle Branch**
A Real Fine Place to Start~Sara Evans**

Do any of you listen to certain songs to get the creative juices flowing? Feel free to share!

© 2008 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

Read Full Post »

As part of BBAW, my friend Serena of Savvy Verse & Wit (that’s her in the picture below with my daughter…isn’t that a cute picture?) wanted to discuss the writing process.

It doesn’t matter whether us bloggers write only book reviews or pen fiction/non-fiction/poetry, etc., in our spare time–we’re writers. Sometimes getting the creative juices flowing is a difficult task, and we all have our own ways of doing things.

Serena thought it would be neat for us to do a post together. Having been friends in real life for 13 years, we’ve traveled a big portion of the writing road together–we took many creative writing and English classes together in college, worked on a literary magazine together, launched our blogs right around the same time…heck, we even work at the same company and share an office. (Isn’t it amazing we aren’t sick of each other yet??)

Anyway, what follows is some bantering about our writing processes. Keep reading to find out about today’s BBAW giveaway!

Serena: Hey Anna, I’ve been wondering how you prepare mentally for writing? Does ambient noise bother or inspire you? And does your mood influence what you write?

Anna: I don’t do much mental preparation for writing blog posts and book reviews. I have a schedule in my head (because I lose all the darn sticky notes), so I already have an idea what to write. But when it comes to my novel and short stories, etc., I try to block out the real-life things that affect my mood (screaming kid, bad day at work, bills) and try to channel my characters. There are times when I don’t have to do much preparation at all, and my pen takes me on some wonderful adventures that I had no idea were inside my head.

I can’t write with lots of background noise. I have to wait until my daughter is in bed or not in the mood to bother me, and I can’t watch television at the same time. (It’s so hard to go a day without watching Hogan’s Heroes!) But I have a play list on my iPod where I stick songs that fit the mood of my novel; listening to them helps the words flow.

Of course, my mood affects my writing! I wrote some of my best poems when I was depressed. Then I had to find my husband and become a mom, which put me in a good mood most of the time, and the poetry muse is either hiding in disgust or gone for good. I don’t mind so much about the loss of my poetry; I’m glad I have a happy home life!

Serena: You haven’t given up on writing sticky notes because I’ve seen all of those notes all over your desk and books. I remember in college you used to hate studying in the same room with me because I had to have the radio on loudly. I assume that would still drive you crazy.

So would you say that you are like Stephenie Meyer in the sense that you have a play list for particular projects or just a particular play list for creative writing in general?

I think the poetry muse is just pissed you never had any of her children published! Just kidding.

Anna: Yeah, I’ll admit I still use the sticky notes, but once I write them, I don’t really look at them again. (What’s the point of writing them, you might ask. I ask myself that, too.)

I think you’re forgetting that it was my stereo, so it was on my side of the room. Actually right next to my desk, so when you’d grab the remote and turn the music up, I was deaf for three days afterward!

As for the play list, I set it up for my novel. Since I’ve been working on it for awhile (I’m going to tell you to shut up before you say anything because I know what you’re going to say!), it’s the only play list I’ve used. If I ever finish this one and start another, I’ll let you know whether I need a new play list.

I didn’t mean to upset the muse…I just never felt the urge to publish my poetry. The one poem I read at the Sigma Tau Delta convention in St. Louis (how many years ago was this??)…I just don’t know if I can go through the rejections with that one. The others are far, far from being ready for publication. You’ll have to publish them for me when I’m gone.

Serena: Well, you know that I will publish them when you are gone, which I hope is not for a very, very, very (ok you get the picture) long time.

Anna: As long as the muse doesn’t have a murderous streak, I should be okay!Anyway…tell me about your mental preparation? Do you need loud music for creative writing, or was it just a way to keep yourself awake while reading that boring political science stuff in college? Do your moods affect your writing?

Serena: I hope muses don’t have murderous streaks because I could be in trouble; I haven’t had anything published in a couple of years.

In college, I admit that the radio was my way of staying awake while reading that boring poli-sci stuff I already learned in honors history in high school…we all know what happened if I wasn’t listening to music, I was asleep and never made it to my 8AM class. Thank goodness, they invented iPods.

Ok, preparing my mental space first requires the husband to either be asleep or out of the house! When I sit down to write, I must have some kind of ambient distraction. Whether that is music or the television will depend on my mood. I tend to listen to a particular group or genre of songs for the novel and poetry it can be any music. As for the short stories, I tend to work on those in silence or with the television going, which I think is akin to the fact that I find short story writing harder. As you can tell, I am long-winded!

Moods, hmmm, I have a wide variety of those. I used to write poetry only when depressed, but now I tend to be most poetic when I’m contemplative. (Is that a word? English grammar and spelling don’t fail me now!) Whether there is something on the television, in the real world, or just something I come across and I have time to the think about it (who has much of that these days), I will jot down a few lines. I also have been inspired by books I’m reading to write a couple lines or stanzas of a poem, which you can find out more about in Jill’s interview of me for BBAW. Anyway, to make the story short, I think poetry is impacted by my mood. Where the novels and short stories come from I have no idea, although there was that one that came from a dream!

Anna: I think it’s cool that stories come to you in dreams! (Now I’ll assume the nagging friend role…have you worked on that story lately, young lady??) I also remember you jolting awake, climbing down from the loft bed, and rummaging around on your desk to jot down poetry ideas in the middle of the night. That darn banker’s lamp was too bright for my sensitive eyes! Do you still do that?

Serena: I actually find that poetry comes more now when I am awake on the bus, subway, walking down the street, or just observing something on television or reading a book, among other things. THAT short story is in hibernation until I have fresh eyes to look at it again. I’m following Stephen King’s advice from On Writing.

And it was only that one story that came in a dream!

Anna: Do you have any other writing book recommendations? Personally I like The Novelist Boot Camp.

Serena: I love Bird by Bird by Anne Lamont and the 3 A.M. Epiphany by Brian Kiteley. I still have not read The Novelist Boot Camp; it may be the army green color of the book that makes me nervous.

So once you are prepared mentally to write, where do you physically plunk yourself down and get to work?

Anna: Sometimes I write blog posts on the train, but never my novel or stories. I don’t like people looking over my shoulder. At home, I’ll sit on the couch with a notebook and my lapdesk, or if the husband insists on having the TV on, I’ll go upstairs and lay on the bed to write. I’ve always preferred a notebook/journal to writing at the computer. I sit at a computer 8 hours a day for work, and I don’t find those computer chairs comfortable enough to allow a free flow of creativity. I used to love writing outside. When we were at Quinnipiac College (now University, but it will always be QC to us!), there was the view of Sleeping Giant, which was beautiful when the leaves started changing colors. And hiking up to the overlook and writing there was peaceful.

Serena: So that’s your most unusual writing place, on top of the Sleeping Giant overlook? No computer writing for you? In terms of writing with a notebook and pen, would that change if you had a laptop and not a desktop computer?

Anna: I don’t know if it would change if I had a laptop. I think I’d be a lot more comfortable when I’m typing, but I really like the way the pen flows on the paper. I guess I’m weird like that. How about you? Where do you write? What’s your most unusual writing place?

Serena: Well, you do also like to smell the pages of your books, especially new ones. That is a bit weird.

Poems are generally written in a small notebook or journal that I carry everywhere–on the subway, the bus, in the car, walking–it’s always on my person. I only use those roller ball pens, usually black, but I don’t discriminate if I have a different color handy. I really like the electric blue pens, speaking of how ink flows onto a page. However, there are those occasions that I write poems on the laptop, which can be anywhere from on the desk/kitchen table to the couch, the comfy leather chair my husband saved from the trash man, or the porch. Short stories are written in a variety of college-ruled notebooks, again with those roller ball pens I love so much. They only get typed up when I am ready to say it is finished, and that’s when the story or novel undergoes its first editing process, as I am transcribing my written words from paper to electronic document.

The most unusual writing space for me is probably at the camera shop I used to work at. While developing and printing photos, I often had my notebook/journal out, and I jotted down poems or short story ideas. Yes, I was writing away while wearing white photo developing gloves and a lab coat. I must have looked ridiculous.

Anna: So I’m weird, and you’re ridiculous! We make quite a pair!

Those roller ball pens ROCK, and that’s what I was saying about the ink flowing on the page. I’m like you in that I’ll type after I’ve written and edited things in my notebook.

How about book reviews? You write them at the computer? I tend to write those in my notebook first…I don’t like the pressure of the glaring white screen (or the uncomfortable computer chair, which you already know about so I’ll stop mentioning it).

Serena: Book reviews are written on the computer at the computer desk/kitchen table. I don’t write those out beforehand, but then I generally write the book reviews while the book is fresh in my mind. I tend not to wait too long to review what I’ve been reading because I’m likely to forget the details.

How about you, dear readers? How do you mentally prepare yourself to write? Do you have any writing routines? Do you prefer pen and paper, or would you rather sit in front of the computer? Have you written in odd places? Answering at least one of these questions will enter you in our joint giveaway!

Serena is offering a lucky winner a one-year subscription to Writer’s Digest! And I’m offering a copy of Writing the Wave: Inspired Rides for Aspiring Writers by Elizabeth Ayres to another lucky winner! The best part is that readers of both of our blogs will have a chance at both prizes!

Here are the rules:

1. Those of you who answer these questions in the comments on this post will receive one entry. (Same for those who comment only on Serena’s post.) If you comment on my post AND Serena’s post, you’ll receive two entries.

2. If you blog your answers to these questions and link to this post, as well as Serena’s post, you’ll receive two entries. Don’t forget to leave a link to you post in the comments here!

3. If you comment about your ideal writing space on either post, we’ll give you another entry.

4. Make sure you include your email so we can contact you if you win!

International entries are accepted. The deadline is 11:59 pm EST on Sept. 21. 2008!

Disclosure: I am an Amazon associate.

© 2008 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »