Monthly Archives: June 2013

Make your own Summer Writing Boot Camp!

Out of school for the summer? Have some free time?

No you don’t! You should be writing. And with all that not-really-free-time, you should target what strengths and weaknesses you have as a writer and try to improve on those strengths.

Google is going to be your best friend through your self-imposed Summer Writing Boot Camp!

Have issues with believable dialog?

3,840,000 is all? Dang Internet, I thought you were limitless. I'm disappointed now.
3,840,000 is all? Dang Internet, I thought you were limitless. I’m disappointed now.


The Most Popular RPG Ever

On the advice of a fellow blogger, I revisited the perennial question about social media: on the whole, does it do more harm than good?

The consensus is generally something like, “Yes, but only if you spend too much time on the Internet.” Moderation, moderation. To which I ask: does anyone just Facebook a little bit? Are we all hypocrites?

Everyone knows the knocks against social networking. It doesn’t mean they aren’t true: I disabled my Facebook profile for several months, but like an addict, came back. At first it was just to moderate a group of artists, but I gradually realized the main reason I relapsed was a sense of loss: it was too much to miss out on the visual histories and triumphs of my ether-friends. That’s the honest truth. Frankly, social networking encouraged a less than admirable tendency to follow some friends more than others. I didn’t want to be left behind in their lives.

On another note, social media is kind of fascinating, in that it represents a communal effort to build, or at least frame, our lives in a favorable light. This isn’t news for most, but I don’t think it’s entirely negative. Our albums and avatars create visual narrative, and we affirm them through sharing and “liking” them in a kind of forum. It’s basically the most popular role-playing game, and the most significantly creative act most people participate in on a regular basis. I’ve also found Facebook useful for collaborating with other writers and our contributors, and monitoring the traffic we get on our site.

So I’m on the fence for now.

– David Pulido

An Interview with Dan Wilbur

Some of you may or may not remember Dan Wilbur from my past post about Better Book Titles. Aside from his literature parody blog, his writing can also be found on, McSweeney’s, and The Onion News Network. If you like his blog and other articles, chances are you will like his first humor book, “How Not to Read”. In this interview at the 2013 Ohioana Book Festival with Douglas Dangler he talks about his book and how his blog helped him produce the book. (more…)

Jane Austen Pickup Lines

So, I felt kind of bad for some of the slamming on Jane Austen that got published in this blog, thanks to quotes from Mark Twain and William Faulkner. Well, dead men, I happen to like the perspective that Ms. Austen’s work offers.

Since I do enjoy Jane Austen’s novels, I decided to do a blog dedicated to lines from her work that can be used as pickup lines, which isn’t as easy as it sounds (despite romance being a main theme in all of her works).

So read on, and enjoy, test these lines out, and let me know if they work for you.

My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you. – Mr. Darcy, Pride and Prejudice

Yes, I had to have a Pride and Prejudice quote in here, and this one is great. This quote is not only good for, content wise, what it says (because, seriously, how can someone not like someone confessing that they are both admired and loved. I like that.) but also for the fact that Mr. Darcy said it, and tons of female Jane Austen fans will recognize this line and just adore the fact that it was used on them. File this one away for any girl reading a book and try it out first.

Authenticity and Writing

This post was inspired by my own struggles with verisimilitude in my work. Lately, I’ve found that I’ll come up with a potential story, write out a few drafts, and then find them unbelievable from a narrative standpoint. They just ring false.

The initial ideas always seem good. I like to imagine them as bright, unadulterated, complete orbs of light floating around in our heads. Each one contains what we want the reader to feel. But when we try to translate the little idea orbs into text, something gets lost in translation, and it’s not a matter of grammar or diction (I think anyway).

So what’s going on? I have a couple theories. One being, our ideas might suck.

At the risk of alienating some would-be writers, if you don’t have something important to say to the reader, then say nothing. The maxim, “Don’t speak unless you improve upon the silence” comes to mind. I’m not necessarily advocating that we censor ourselves, but it’s worth considering the feedback of our audience: if they feel like “nothing’s happening,” or if they can predict all the narrative beats of your work, you might need to go back to the drawing board. Think of your effort as practical experience.


Alphabet Pancakes

As a writer, have you ever wished that you could eat your words? Or, at least, some letters can be put together to make words?

But Amanda, you might be thinking to yourself, that’s what alphabet soup is for.

Well, yeah. Okay. You got me there, but alphabet soup isn’t for breakfast, unless you’re strange. So, how about eating some letters for breakfast, in the shape of pancakes?

Now, there are two ways of doing this. One, you could pour the batter (if you have mad batter pouring skills) into the desired letter shape.

This is some mad free-pouring skills right here. Maybe they put their pancake mix into a baggy and cut the tip or something.


The Curious Relationship Between Writers and Cats III

My exploration of writers and cats has shown me that many authors enjoy the company of a feline. In other posts, I’ve written about authors like Hemingway, Kerouac, and Williams, which may have led you to believe that only male writers find cats inspiring. But not to worry. Let me ease your mind.

Sylvia Plath, American author, for instance, was inspired by cats. Yes, this inspiration may (who knows?) or may not have led to writing, but it did lead to this drawing, which was one of 44 of her drawings on display in 2011 at London’s Mayor Gallery, by a young Plath (which is still pretty awesome):



Dig for the Truth

In the fall of the year 2010, I took a creative writing class at Pasadena City College. I left that class with some great techniques to keep the ‘ole writing wheels turning. I sometimes wish that I could take creative writing over and over again without concern of credit and time. Instead, I am only left with a few exercises that I do my best to practice regularly.

Dig for the Truth is a writing exercise that asks that writers cut the bollocks and dirty their nails by digging into the bloody truth.

It is exactly what it sounds like.

It is an exercise that is both terrorizing and exhilarating.

First off, Dig for the Truth requires that you, as writer, must confront some of the deepest caverns within your existence. There are memories that sit in the attic with dust covered veils. There are memories that we may sometimes feel are better left behind us, in the abyss, or somewhere lost in the space of time of a realm that we rather not re-discover.

But it wasn’t a pineapple…it was a grapefruit. I felt so lied to.


Writing and Romance

I might be alone in this, but I find that when I’m in a relationship, I write less.

Oh god. It’s so pink. So very pink.

Maybe I’m comfortable with my new routine with a boyfriend and I just don’t work writing into my schedule anymore, or maybe I’m too busy getting to know another person and attempting to make them happy to really dedicate my time to other endeavors (besides school, work, cooking, family crap, etc.). But I know not everyone is like this.

Melanie Figueroa, editor and co-creator of this blog, is in a happy relationship and also finds herself writing all the time, and she juggles schooling, boyfriend and work all while keeping up with her craft.

I’m not sure how she does it. I probably could have asked before writing this blog, but I’d rather speculate on why I don’t rather than how she does.

I don’t because I don’t make it a priority, and when I do that, my craft suffers. Does this mean I need to be single forever to become a writer?

I hope not.

Some Sick Inspiration

So, I have a cold. Having a cold means it’s hard for me to focus, but I know this isn’t the case for everyone. A lot of people feel that a cold is the perfect excuse to curl up in bed with a pen and paper (or a laptop) and to start, continue, or finish a writing project they are working on.

I fall into none of those categories of people.

When I’m ill, I lay in bed, suffer, and watch things on Netflix (right now I’m about 3 seasons into a Mad Men marathon). I know I should be better–I know I have the time to sit there and write, since I’m pretty much useless when it comes to moving or coordination or breathing at this point in time, but I still don’t write.

I just can’t gain clarity. I know I’m writing now, but this is a rant. Rants are different. I don’t have to plan a rant, research names for a rant, or ponder words and all their meanings for a rant.

Ranting is so much easier than writing.

I had a final today – I couldn’t not go to school. Cruel kitty, you make me sad.