What To Do In That Post-Conference Glow

It’s Conference Season, Pen Friends! If you’ve ever been to a writer’s conference, you know the wonder and the crazy exhaustion and overwhelm that come as a result of being immersed in a gathering of a couple hundred (or more) writer friends.

I just got back from Realm Makers in St. Louis, and as I myself am feeling the end-of-conference feels, I thought I’d share this #throwback post for you in case anyone else is going to be conferencing soon (or if any of my fellow Realmies need a boost as they readjust to real life).

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How to Read Like a Writer

Reader

If you’ve hung around here at The Spinning Pen at all, you’ll know a fun fact about us that isn’t very surprising: we all LOVE to read.

Last week, Caleb talked about the Reading Only Challenge he’s embarking on, and I thought I would add a little writing tip to go along with his fantastic idea. Missed his post? Check it out at the link above.  Continue reading

How to Have a Fantastically Bookish Holiday

How to Have a Bookish ChristmasPhoto: Joanna Kosinska

It seems like more and more, the holiday season is just jam-packed with wall-to-wall everything, and that can be both exciting and utterly exhausting. It starts in October and doesn’t really let up until the beginning of January.

And with everything that’s going on during the holidays, how on earth are we supposed to tackle our amazing TBR piles of glorious books, much less spend time with those novels we’ve been writing?

I’ll tell you what, Pen Friends, I’m staring at an absolutely insane schedule this week, between the day job, a very tight freelance deadline, rehearsals for a play, and getting ready for Christmas (say what?! Christmas is in less than a week? How did that happen?), and I’m sad to say there will be little to no time for books this week. So many tears.

But fear not!

If any of you are in a similar space with too much to do and not enough time for holiday cheer, I have a suggestion! Make time for it. I know, I know, I’m crying just thinking about how I can cram another thing into my schedule, but hear me out. I’m going to try to listen to myself, as well.

True bookworms find clever ways to do bookish things (and this can apply to anything you care about, even if you’re *gasp!* not much of a reader). Sneak the important stuff into the gaps of your day.

Even if you’re just overwhelmed by the sheer amount of activity swirling around you, you can–and should–take a few minutes to just sit and be quiet. Make a list of the good things that have happened this year while brushing your teeth. Plot out your antagonist’s troubled backstory while cleaning your house for the ugly sweater soirée you’re hosting. Sneak in another chapter during your lunch break.

Want to make a holiday gathering fantastically bookish?

Here’s my idea for making the season bright and nerdy. Let’s take a page out of my favorite Icelandic Christmas tradition: every year, most Icelanders get at least one new book as a Christmas gift. Since they traditionally open gifts on Christmas Eve, once everyone receives said new book, they then all spend time quietly reading together.

How wonderful is that? It might not be the most spirited way to start a holiday party, but it sure sounds like a great way to wrap one up. If you’re having a gathering, invite your friends/family to bring a book they love, wrapped up all pretty. Then, let everyone open one, and voila! New books for all! You can even trade around until everyone has one they’re excited about. Finish the night with some reading time. (Have a bunch of extroverts in your group? Stage dramatic readings of your new books for added excitement!)

Wherever you find yourself this holiday season,

I hope you have a chance to slow down for a bit and experience some of the joy that this season can bring. And of course, may you be filled to the brim with great stories of all kinds.

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Dana, signing off to go find some hot cocoa.

How to Survive in the Creative Darkness

I feel like the only appropriate way to start this post is with a quote from George Washington in “Hamilton” by Lin-Manuel Miranda:

“Check it–

Can I be real a second?

For just a millisecond?

Let down my guard and tell the people how I feel a second?” 

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It’s one of those seasons for me where everything feels a little darker than usual. There’s a heaviness to the air, in my limbs, and in my soul. Yeah, it’s dramatic, but we’re writers. Drama comes with the territory.

I’m guessing most of you have been in one of these seasons, and if you haven’t, you likely will be at some point in the future. Especially for creatives, the dark seems to follow us around a little more.

So today, when I just don’t know if I can get the words out any other way, I have this bit of encouragement for you–and for myself.  Continue reading

Feature Friday: Alexa Donne of Author Mentor Match

Pen friends, if you’ve spent much time around here, you know how much we love the writing community! One of our favorite ways of learning and growing within that community is by participating in contests and mentoring opportunities, and today we are thrilled to chat with one of the founders of Author Mentor Match, the lovely YA author Alexa Donne!

*The current round of submissions for AMM is open now through October 24th, so if you’ve been looking for a mentor, now is the perfect chance to apply!

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SP: Welcome, Alexa! We’re so excited to have you join us. Can you please tell us a little about who you are and what you write?

Hi! Thank you so much for having me! I am Alexa Donne, a YA science fiction & fantasy writer whose debut novel, BRIGHTLY BURNING, will be coming out from HMH Teen on May 1, 2018. It’s a retelling of Jane Eyre, set in space.  Continue reading

Author Interview: Tracey Neithercott

Pen Friends ~ We are delighted to have Tracey Neithercott, debut author of Gray Wolf Island and an Author Mentor Match mentor, here with us today!

Tracey Neithercott FullSP: Hi Tracey! Thanks for joining us. First, will you please tell us a bit of who are you and how long have you have been writing? 

Hi! Thank you so much for having me.

I’m a magazine journalist and the author of the YA novel Gray Wolf Island. I’ve always written in some way or another: There was my sixth grade The Princess and the Mean Genie, which really made me aware of my inability to draw but had me feeling pretty proud of my talent for coloring within the lines.

In high school, I started (but never finished) a bunch of books in the voice of whatever I’d last read. I somehow ended up sounding like both Pip from Great Expectations and Holden Caulfield from Catcher in the Rye. This was not a good thing.

As I began thinking about college, I shifted my focus. It’s weird looking back at how my brain worked back then, but I was convinced authors were these super-special people who were, I don’t know, given their super-special talents from the heavens or something. I figured journalism was a more realistic career. And in a way, I was right: I did become a journalist.

Only after I began reading YA writer blogs—watching them go from unagented writers to agented writers to published authors—did I start to believe writing a novel was something I could actually do. And in 2010, I finished a novel for the first time. Continue reading

Summer Reading Challenge Wrap-up and Giveaway!

SPRC Wrap-up

Can you feel it?

Summer is drifting away before our eyes here in the Northern Hemisphere. And it’s been quite the season! Here at the Spinning Pen, we’ve been traveling the globe, indulging in iced coffee, soaking up the sun, writing stories, and of course, READING ALL THE BOOKS!

If you’ve been hanging out with us for long, you’ll remember that we launched the first SP Summer Reading Challenge, and now that it’s September, it’s time to wrap it up.

So many books, so little time…

We’re dying to know: what books did you read this summer? Did you find a new favorite? If you checked out any of our recommendations, we’d love to hear from you. And if you discovered a gem somewhere along the line, we want to know that, too! We are all about sharing stories with friends.

(Don’t worry, I didn’t forget about the prize!)

And a GIVEAWAY!

If you read at least two books this summer (between June 1 and today, September 11), you are eligible to enter our giveaway for MORE BOOKS! That’s right, the winner will receive a $15 USD gift card for Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or my personal indie favorite Powell’s Books (can be used online if you’re not in the Portland, Oregon area). Never fear, international friends! You can enter, too! And if you win, I’ll send you a book of your choice (valued up to $15 USD) through Book Depository, provided that they ship to your country of residence.

Just use the Rafflecopter link below to enter. You’ll get 2 bonus entries if you read a book from our list of recommendations. (Open until 9/17/17.)

 

EDIT: We have our winner! Congratulations, Dawn S.! Thanks to everyone for participating. We’ll be back soon with more opportunities to read awesome books and win prizes.

Enter the Giveaway HERE!

 

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Dana, signing off to enjoy one last iced coffee and a good book!

 

 

Original Photo Credit: Jessica Ruscello

How To Win At Writing After A Conference

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The writer’s conference: There’s little more exciting than the thought of surrounding yourself with a hundred or more people who love words and books as much as you do, and getting to spend anywhere from an afternoon to an entire week learning about the business and how to become better at your craft.

For me, anyway, there’s little more exciting than a good conference. What’s never so good is the re-entry afterward. The introverted side of my personality starts kicking back in, my brain is happy but also exhausted from all of the information I’ve squished into it, and I usually just want to sleep for a few days.

From what I’ve heard from many other writers, this isn’t uncommon. And while it’s enticing to curl up in a cave and hide, the time right after a conference is golden, and we should do what we can to use it well. So here are my best tips for re-entry. Continue reading

How To Super-Charge Your Story With Energizing Word Sprints

Mondays.

We all have them. They’re those days when it’s hard to even drag yourself out of bed, much less write all the words you know you need to write.

Sometimes, ‘Mondays’ don’t even show up on Mondays. But you know them when they come creeping up on you. So, how do we fight them? By exercising our creativity, even if it’s against our will at first.  Continue reading