Tuesday, September 24, 2013

FOX's Sleepy Hollow

Sleepy Hollow, a new television show on FOX, started last Monday (9/16).  I became interested because the trailers being shown on various cable stations (Starz, Encore, etc.) showed actors that were extremely passionate about their characters.  While they are actors for some reason the passion in their demeanor and the interesting story line caught and held my attention.

Wasn't quite sure what the story was about other than the TV series would be based (in some way) on the short story, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow written by Washington Irving (1820).

Turned on the boob tube on the 16th and was blown away by the full story and plot twists that the writers of Sleepy Hollow created!  This is my take on this new show's storyline/plot:

Abigail Mills (Nicole Beharie) is a cop that is about to move away from Sleepy Hollow to run away from her checkered past.  In her youth, Abby and her sister, Jenny, saw something in the forest they could not explain.  Something that scared them both very badly.  The town really never let the two young girls forget it.  They called them crazy.  Abby stopping talking about the experience and basically recanted what she saw while her sister did not.  Jenny is now in a psychological facility.

The night the series begins, Abby and the Sheriff (her mentor and almost father figure), are out and investigate a murder.  The Sheriff is murdered by a headless horseman and Abby witnesses this incredible event.  In her mind, it takes her back to that unforgettable time in her youth where she saw something that others did not believe.  Therefore, since she's leaving the following week she does not divulge what she saw in its entirety.

Later that evening, a stranger man is picked up and brought into the jail.  It's Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison).  He identifies the killer to a 'T' including mode of dress, scar on hand and the missing cranium.  Abby is astounded and ensures that Crane is made a consultant on the case with her.  All this even though Crane tells Captain Frank Irving (Orlando Jones) that his last memory was from 250 years ago!

Okay, here comes the historical/paranormal/time-bending stuff.  <SPOILER ALERT>

The headless horseman is really the first of the 4 horseman of the Biblical Apocalypse (Revelations).  Crane and Abby are the 2 witnesses that are charged with preventing the 4 horesmen from destroying the world.  Crane's wife, Katrina, is a witch who is caught between the two worlds.  She acts as an oracle and helps Crane know what to do next and what is to come.  So, the events in this little town can affect everyone on the planet if they don't do all they can to stop the headless horseman from reuniting with his head.

The other part of this puzzle is the Sheriff (who died in the first few minutes of the first episode) had a slew of secret files that Abby found only after his death.  These files point to murders that have been taking place for years up and down the Northeast and around the country.  The Sheriff knew they were somehow linked but could not find out how.

The Sheriff did know that 250 years ago there were two sets of people that were trying to change the outcome of the war.  The first was a group of dark witches and the other a group of white whites.  It was the white witches that put the spell on the headless horseman that kept him in stasis for these last 250 years.  The white witches also took his head and buried it separate from his body.

Crane and the headless horseman are linked in death because the horseman (who still had his head) gave Crane a death blow on the battlefield.  However, Crane was able to decapitate the horseman before he died.  The blood of the two of them commingled tying them and their fates together.

Fast forward to our time.  The descendents of both sets of light and dark witches are still at work.  The progeny of the dark witches have cast a spell to awaken the headless horseman.  This also awakened Crane.

The Sheriff knew that no one in the town of Sleepy Hollow could be trusted because he did not know and could not figure out how to ferret out who was working for which side.  So, he kept his research and his files secret.

The Sheriff had a very good idea as to what Jenny and Abby saw in their youth but he was afraid to share any information.  So, he kept Abby close and helped her as much as he could without telling her what he knew.

The writers of Sleepy Hollow have given us the skeleton of a fabulous story!  We know the foundations run back 250 years.  We have a way to gain information from that time (Crane's wife, Katrina).  We have ample research to delve into to get more information as things reveal themselves and to find connections via the Sheriff's files.  We know why this is so cotton-pickin' important -- we need to save the world.  And, we have a crazed demonic murderer wreaking havoc on the town of Sleepy Hollow for immediate drama in each and every episode (if need be).

Now some folks on Twitter have been saying there are loopholes in the story's plotting.  Where?  I don't see them.  The writers have given us a pretty clear but incredible set of parameters for our modern-day cop and the recently revived Crane to work through.

What's missing?  Please share with me!  I want to see what you see!  I appreciate all comments and will be watching and waiting to interact with all of you.

Ta-ta for now,
The NoteBook Blogairy

#MSWL - Ongoing - Quick Update

Going absolutely blind reading all of the #MSWL tweets!  There are well over 1,500 tweets and counting for this thread.  While a great number of these tweets from editors and agents alike are seeking Young Adult (YA), New Adult (NA) and Middle Grade (MG).  If you write in these genres today is your lucky day!

If you were not able to follow the hashtag and need a recap, please follow the Tumblr page Agent and Editor Wish List for updates.

In the meantime, some of the things that agents and editors are looking for are:

Editor Would love to see Xanth-like setting embodied in a Magical Realism NA/A. Humorous puns, not over the top.

RT : : Let's not forget Sci-fi! Anyone have a Space Western a la Firefly? Or something Mass Effect-esque? -REUTS.com

YA : impeccably-written, flawed MC easy to fall in love with. I want to feel like I got punched in the gut when things go wrong

It's almost lunchtime for me (ahem), so, #1: I'd love to see a lit (or YA) novel about young radicals that engages w/contemp. issues.

OH, and I love military romances, yo! If you have any (esp. series!), pls send!

- I'd also like strong male characters. With a few less issues. There's more to a guy than his Testosterone level.

Stories about someone regaining their lost heroism.

You know what else would be kind of amazing? An updated YA "Endless Summer."

I want stories with strong characters and relationships. Doesn't have to be romantic, but has to be real.

The next Heinlein, stories that inspire scientists and artists.

. PoC = People of Color

The tweets are virtually endless!

Still going through them but hope you've checked into this Twitter Party and are taking notes.  Even if your manuscript (MS) is not quite ready, you need to pay attention.  Compile a list of agents/editors that are interested in seeing your work (when it's polished and complete!).  This way, when you're done there's no lag time in getting it submitted to the right people.

Did I mention there are Vines and YouTube videos of what the agents want?  Those can be found at the hastag: MSWLM.

Here's Juliet Mushens' YouTube'd Wish List.

Heading back over to watch more goings-on!

Ta-ta for now,
The NoteBook Blogairy

Monday, September 23, 2013

Just a Reminder...#MSWL's tomorrow!

Hey all of you authors, writers and dabblers,

This is just a quick reminder that #MSWL is tomorrow!  That's when you can find out what literary agents and editors want!

For the full refresher course, click this link to see the post done last Friday.

Ta-ta for now,
The NoteBook Blogairy

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Brooklyn Book Festival - 9/22/13 - OVERVIEW

Today is a red letter day for Brooklyn writers.  Today was the final and pinnacle day of Brooklyn Book Festival held in various venues in downtown Brooklyn.

Workshops, lectures, readings, giveaways -- the works.  Writers of all ilks were on hand:

  • Deborah Copaken Kogan
  • Sonia Sanchez
  • Michele Forbes
  • Alexander Nehamas
  • Edwidge Danticat
  • Simon Critchley
  • K'wan Foye 
  • Courtney Angela Brkic 
  • Dinaw Mengestu
  • James McBride
  • Robert Antoni
  • Rob Sheffield
  • Amy Brill
...and the list goes on and on!  This vibrant event was sponsored by top corporate and business entities such as Target, Brooklyn Tourism, St. Francis College, AT&T, Marriott, Citibank, Astoria Federal, WNYC to name a few.

Workshops such as:
  • The So-Called 'Post-Feminist, Post-Racial' Life in Publishing
  • Creating Dangerously in a Dangerous World
  • Love, Villainy, Ethics and Karaoke: Chuck Klosterman and Rob Sheffield in Conversation
  • Purple Reign: The Legacy and Significance of Prince
  • Art Spiegelman and Jules Feiffer in Conversation
  • Cities and their Ghosts, Past and Future
  • How to Publicize and Market Your Self-Published Book
  • Realms of Illusion and Imagination
  • The Secret Lives of Girls 
The list of what was available for free goes on and on.  Brooklyn Book Festival is the largest free literary event in New York -- aren't we lucky?

And I met Edwidge Danticat!  Here is Ms. Danticat's TED Talk.  Prolific writer whose work has been hailed as 'luminous', Ms. Danticat inspires me with her depth, wisdom and literary finesse.  Meeting her was the highlight of my BBF day.

Edwidge Danticat (left) and Courtney Brkvic (right)
 I will post more during the week about the workshops I participated in but wanted to share the general gist of what transpired on this momentous day.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Are You Ready for #MSWL on Tuesday 9/24??

Seriously.  Are you ready? What's #MSWL, you ask?  Simple.

Manuscript Want Lists

Your next question I'm sure is -- but who is requesting these manuscripts? 

Hold onto your seats ladies and gents.  The answer to your question is:

Literary agents & Editors!!

That's right. Working literary agents and editors will be sharing their wish lists with authors, writers, dabblers, publishers, crackpots...oops.

Some of the agents and editors may think some of the submissions are a bit off-kilter but hey, they're opening the doors.

Here's the skinny.  Jessica Sinsheimer from the Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency does the background (and foreground) work on getting the word out to agents and editors to participate on the selected day.  Then, on #MSWL day, said agents and editors use the hashtag (used earlier in this sentence) to make their MS requests known to all in Twitterverse. 

The next steps are very simple...

We writers, authors and other assorted indie and non-indie heads follow the #MSWL trend on Tuesday, 9/24 very carefully.  We (should) note which agents/editors want the project(s) we have on hand.  Then, we (should) go to that agent's website (or querytracker.com, or agentquery.com, or your favorite site for agent info) and research the MOST current submission guidelines for that agent.  Next, we (should) follow those guidelines implicitly.  In the subject line, do put the #MSWL hashtag so the agent knows you are responding directly to his/her request.  And the part we love the most -- we wait.

However, here's the catch.  Your manuscript(s) (should) be polished.  Perfect. FINISHED.  This way, if the agent/editor wants to see the full document.  You can get it to them without delay.

So now that you know in full unadulterated detail what's happening in 4 days I ask again --


Monday, September 16, 2013

The Challenge of Writing Flash Fiction

I’m all about challenges.

I like to be challenged by the world around me. But even more so, I like to challenge myself. So when I started writing flash fiction (super short stories that are usually less than 1,000 words), I challenged myself to write at least one new story a week.

In order to hold myself accountable (because as much as I’m all about challenges, sometimes I can be all about excuses), I created Little Write Lies (littlewritelies.com).

When I launched the site, I told my family and friends. I posted links to it on Facebook and Twitter with the tag line “Weekly Short Fiction." Despite my being terrified that my stories would fall flat or readers would criticize my writing, I told everyone I knew about the site. I did this because I wanted to grow as a writer and - more importantly - I didn’t want to let myself quit before I had given myself a chance to excel. I knew that if I had people watching to see if I either succeeded or failed, I would succeed.

And I did. I’ve been posting for nearly half a year now, my readership has been growing like crazy, and I can feel my writing evolving with each story.

“But why flash fiction?” some of my readers ask. “Why so short?”

Because: challenges.

Writing flash fiction is a challenge. It’s tough to write a complete story - beginning, climax and resolution - all in such a limited space. I’m not saying that it’s easy to write a novel or a traditional short story. I’m just saying that flash fiction presents a different type of challenge. One that most writers don’t encounter too often. By trade, we writers can ramble on as much as we want. That’s the beauty of art: the freedom to say whatever you want to say and to take however long you want to say it.

But slap a word limit on your story and suddenly it becomes a whole new kind of art. Each word becomes so much more important. You start to question the necessity of entire paragraphs. You obsessively weigh the merits of ‘the’ versus ‘a’. You spend hours editing only 500 words. No matter how short a piece of flash fiction is, it is never simple. And that, in itself, is the challenge.

The most challenged I’ve been in my writing has been in flash fiction. But with each completed story that I post on Little Write Lies, I feel a deeply satisfying sense of accomplishment.
What I'm getting at here is this: challenge yourself. Take something you love, set the stakes a little higher than they already are, and watch yourself succeed.

About this Guest Poster:

Taylor Eaton is a writer and linguist who is constantly fascinated by language. Playing with words makes her far happier than it should. Her flash fiction can be found at www.littlewritelies.com and in the forthcoming issue of Em Dash Literary Magazine. Between bouts of writing, Taylor tweets about words, wine and Southern California at twitter.com/tayloreaton.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

My 1st Twitterverse Ramblings Post

Am totally loving being on Twitter today! Finally waking up from the birth of my daughter 6 weeks ago.  I'm seeing that there's a world out there (still).  I'm beginning to get a bit of schedule going and can sneak online for snatches of time all around the clock (including the wee hours of the morning...).

While digging around Twitter yesterday found out that I missed a Twitterverse Pitch Slam (#PitMad) where literary agents were asking for encapsulated tweets of your book.  If they liked the tweet they could ask for a query, partial, or full manuscript.  Somehow, I missed this!!  Was I pissed.

So, I decided to check out the US trends a couple of times a day and see what else was going on so I don't miss anything totally good.  Guess what I found?  Friday Night #writeclub! Similar to NanoWriMo writers from around Twitterverse come together and do word sprints on Friday nights and post their word counts. Totally loved this with NaNo and now I can join up every week and get my work done!  So glad I don't have to wait for November! (Sorry NaNo!!)

Then, when I couldn't go back to sleep after feeding my daughter shortly before 7am this morning, I checked the trends and found #booksaremybag.  It's a UK initiative to save local bookstores from being undermined by Amazon.  If you've been following my blog you know that I love baked goods.  Many of the bookshops have desserts on hand to entice book buyers to come into their shops!

The above are pics taken from tweets during today's trending topics #booksaremybag!
They even have cool bags to give to each book buyer!
I even met a book star on Twitter - Barney!  Check out his picture below...

Barney is the star of the book he's reading...Thanks John Donoghue (@JohnDonoghue64) for this great pic! Hope you're still enjoying the bookshop hopping!
(Happy Sigh) I love Twitter.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Blogging is All About Passion...

I am not a PHD holder, just to tell you a little about myself, I am a
blogger, a writer, a twitter addict and a motivational speaker.
For me, Life is a gift that must be treasured, and our success,
happiness, pain, sorrow and joy depends on us.
We create the pathway we want our life to follow, we do everything we
can to be successful. Sometimes, we are right, sometimes, we may be
wrong, but the truth is, Life continues, no matter what happen to us.

What motivates you to be a blogger? People keep asking me. Am I really
a blogger? I ask in reply, to some people the answer may seem strange, but
to others, that's a good way to start.

Blogging is fun, especially if you are giving your all to it.
You may not get the required success at first, but with consistency
and hard work, success will always come.

Passion is what motivated me to become a blogger.
As a person,I have always been thinking of how to add value to life,
promote my ideas and make a difference in our society.

When blogging presented itself, I started blogging.  Since then, I have not
looked back.

Most people are blogging to make money and when the money don't
present itself they lose focus.

Money is good, but it was not the primary reason for starting my blog.
"There are two things in blogging: money and frustration," my friend
used to say.  It's yours to choose, if you choose Passion, you will
have money, if you choose money frustration will come.

 About this Guest Poster:

Abel Udokene, a young blogger from Nigeria, is making waves with his positivity.  Follow him on his blog Digital Inspirations.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Still Gluten-Free 5 Months In...

To my gluten-free readers, I'd like to give you an update.  As of mid-March of this year, I have been working towards going gluten-free (GF).  I 'thought' I was GF the following week.  I was eating everything GF.  I ate at only the delicatessens that did not use Pam Cooking Spray (which has flour in it) [yeah, uh-huh; which deli doesn't use Pam??].  I read labels and made sure there was not flour, barley, wheat, rye or triticale in it.  And, I ate very carefully at the Chinese restaurants (except for that time when I had Terriyaki sauce...]

All of you GF heads already know I was eating tons of gluten.  In fact, you could say I was hogging down every drop of gluten I could put my snout to...Dunkin' Donuts was my favorite morning spot.  I told them to leave out the bread -- yeah, right!  DD is a gluten haven.

Even if there was no gluten inherently in the foods I ordered the process of preparing and cooking the foods contaminated whatever I was eating that was supposedly gluten-free.  It took months of reacting negatively to the gluten before I realized I had to pretty much give up eating out at regular restaurants and delis.  If I was to feel better I had to become focused and serious about what I put in my mouth.  I couldn't eat to 'enjoy' food anymore.  I needed to eat to nourish myself and to minimize the reaction of my body.

So, about late June/early July I buckled down and researched gluten-free foods, malls and health food stores.  I found Orgran pastas, Thai Rice Noodles, I joined one of the oldest and largest food coops in the US and I began cooking 95% of my own meals.  The other 5% consisted of very limited eating out and purchasing ready-to-eat GF foods.

I quickly learned that the GF diet is a costly diet and that I needed to learn fairly quickly how to make my own, well everything.

I've tried to make from scratch macaroni and cheese with the veggie and corn pasta -- grainy!!

I've tried sugar butterscotch cookies made from packaged all-purpose GF flour -- too sweet & tasteless.

After these two failures and the costs involved I slowed down on the recipe testing and decided to focus on eating foods that are inherently GF -- potatoes, rice, vegetables, ground foods (pink batata, yellow yams, white yams, yucca, etc.), meats not pre-seasoned from the grocery store, fish, chicken, beef -- well you get the point.  I ate the foods that would sustain me.  I stayed away from the sweet carbohydrate things that I LOVE because I can't eat them without major consequences and I can't make them to suit my tastebuds -- yet.

But, I've been craving blueberry muffins for weeks now.  I purchased 2 pints of blueberries in the past few weeks and have been so timid at trying my GF baking skills that my kids ate all of the berries before I could make them.

I bought more day  before yesterday and finally made a batch.

 They didn't come out too bad looking.  However, they did not have that lovely mound and did not rise the way I am used to muffins rising.  I let them cool a bit and tried one.  A bit sweet, but not too bad and a bit dense but not horrible.  I think I can eat these!!

Next time I will add baking soda to the mixture and add a bit more baking powder.  Some Xanthan Gum may help the structure as well.  Hmmmm...my brain is buzzing away.

The recipe I used was from Vegetarian Times.  The flour mixture I used was from the Living Without website and I used Mary Capone's recipe -- with a substitution.  I ran out of Potato Starch and subbed pretty much the whole recipe with King Arthur Flour's GF Bread Flour mix.

Mary Capone's GF Cookbook

So, here's Mary's GF Flour Blend:

2 cups brown rice flour
2 cups white rice flour
1 1/3 cups potato start (NOT potato flour)
2/3 cup tapioca starch/flour

Mix Mary's GF flour ingredients together.  Store in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator until used. 

One could argue that the substitution for the bread flour is what made my muffin heavier than it should be.  Probably but it also have it body for all of the blueberries called for in the recipes (1 cup per batch).  So, I could also reduce the amount of blueberries and use the potato starch and see if that will give me a nice light muffin base.

We'll see, but in the meantime, I'm taking it one day at a time with this GF life.

Ta-ta for now,
The NoteBook Blogairy