From Sarah, With Joy

Writer querying two novels and some other word babies. I tend to effervesce.

New post every Monday

Monday, October 2, 2017

Nevuh Nev-Ah-Duh

When I lived in Nevada, it became pretty clear pretty fast that these are not judgemental people. They're more...leave me alone while I pull this lever people. Get out of my way on the belt loop because I'm not slowing down people. Smokes and cocktails in a whatever the blazes I feel like wearing people.

In other words, if you let them do them, they're happy to let you do you. They don't care.

Except for one thing.

Truly though, if you go to Nevada, you can get away with a lot. You can spend your entire savings on the slots and nobody will bat an eye. You can weigh 450 pounds and wear next to nothing to the theater and its just another night on the Strip. Heck, Nevada is a state where it's actually legal to vote Republican or Democrat or *gasp* even both. But there is one thing you can not, ever, EVER do in Nevada.

You can not say Nev-AHH-Duh.

It's Nev-EA-Duh, with the same bright A as Kansas and California. To a Nevadan, saying Nev-Ahh-Duh is like going to L.A. and saying CAUL-i-fornia, the same way you'd say cauliflower. (Which, in case you've forgotten in our drive-through culture, is a special type of cheese platter.) And, in a state with open-carry permits, this is not a mistake you want to make.

This is how that conversation usually goes:
Tourist: This place is great! How long have you lived in Nev-Ahh-Duh.
Nevadan: You're from the East coast aren't you.
Tourist: Yeah! How could you tell? We're from Boston and this is our first time acknowledging the existence of anything between the Mississippi River and Hollywood.
Nevadan: Here, come with me. There's something special I wanna show you in the basement of CircusCircus...

I'm not even kidding. Trumps mispronunciation when he visited Las Vegas is 99.9% of the reason he lost the state in the general election. (The list of top political issues Nevadans care about is 1. Correct pronunciation, 2. Illegal immigration, and 3. Free Public Parking.)

Just something to think about next time you're stopping through Vegas. Now excuse me, I have to go pack for my trip to New Yark.

Monday, September 25, 2017

From the Tweetdeck of Captain Blackbeard

Happy New Year to all, especially the ships I’ve plundered so hard they don’t know what to do! Love!


The Queen Anne’s Revenge has the best crew! I know crew. I have the best crew!

The papers keep rehashing our massacre five years ago--what about Anne Bonny’s missing loot! SAD!

East India Trading Co. invented rising ocean tides to make average man’s private fleets non-competitive. Disgusting!

Captain Kidd is, without question, the WORST EVER captain. I predict he will do something really stupid and then I’ll take over his ship!

I became captain all on my own, not with help from Ushkuiniks. Greatest pirate hunt! WRONG.

An ‘extremely credible source’ has signaled and told me Anne Bony isn’t actually a woman.

Anne Bonny is unattractive inside and out. I totally understand why her crew left her for Mary Read.

If Chelsea Bonny asked to hold helm for mommy while Anne gave ship away, fake news would say CHELSEA BONNY FOR CAPTAIN.

Queen Anne functioning perfectly. No matter what papers say. No time for fake news.

Eddie Teach Jr. did a great job. Transparent and innocent. Greatest pirate hunt in history! Sad!

Poorly rated Captain Kidd speaking badly of me. Then how come he’s always ogling my ships!!

My account so powerful I make my enemies quake and shiver in my tweet wake!

This is a photo of my luscious beard. It is the most luscious of all the beards. Look at it. Look.

Anne Bony says beard is fake--SO IS YOUR FACE! Beard is REAL. Fake news!






Monday, August 14, 2017

5 Writing-Based Instagram Ideas for Writers

1. Its #Bookstagram, baby.

#Bookstagram is a large and vibrant community of book-lovers on Instagram. We got into this inkslinging business because we love words, right? And now with modern social media, we can pretend to interact with others who love books as much as we do without actually having to speak to another human or put on pants! Whatever you're reading, take a fancy schmancy picture of it and share your thoughts! And don't be intimidated by the intensive setups and photo voodoo of some of the most popular bookstagrammers. Just do you! If you can work a fuzzy, feathery, scaly friend in there somewhere too, all the better! The point is to make social media non-stressful, fast, and easy, right? This is all in support of the real work, the way ants pick food for grasshoppers. (Because that's how nature works, right?)

(Hint: some of the top hashtags to use are #bookstagram [duh] #bookishfeatures #bookstagramfeatures and #books. Or try a #shelfie!)

2. Blackout Poetry

So, I've never been a fan of when people post like screenshots of their poems from note apps and stuff. To me that looks as tacky as the underside of a 3rd grade desk, but hey, if you like it, more power to ya. However, I do think blackout poetry can look pretty freaking awesome when it's done well. Check out Austin Kleon's Instagram for some excellent examples. I downloaded the PicsArt app on my phone and that makes it pretty painless. Just snap a shot of a page of whatever you're reading and play around. Because social media should be your playground. Have fun and your audience will have fun. We know when you're having fun on that tire-swing and when you're not. We're watching.

(Hint: Try tagging your blackout poetry with #poetry #blackoutpoetry #makeblackoutpoetry #poem and #poetrycommunity)

3. Quoth the Instabard

Step one. Pick a pretty sentence you read recently. Step two. Find a pretty picture of a sunset or a tree or a baboon butt that you took on your recent safari in Botswana. Step three. Use something like Canva or PicMonkey to overlay and mash them together like butter on toast. Step four. Pick a pretty filter and share that gorgeousness that's just so gorgeous we're all gonna cry till we puke. Step five. Climb that tree and dance with that baboon into that sunset, you inspiring butterfly of awesome you.

(Hint: For real, people love this stuff. Try using #quote #instaquote #writing and #writer)

4. It's a bird! It's a plane! It's WORDS WORDS WORDS!

They're all around us, man, like Weeping Angels. And if you look close they stay still. Remember that church sign in your neighborhood with the hilarious misspelling? We want to see it too! (Heck, Lynn Truss made a whole career out of finding grammar mistakes). Burnt out bulbs or scrubbed off paint making a catchphrase much more interesting? Share! Quaint wooden plaques with words that make you smile? Come on friend, don't hog those smiles for yourself. That's just plain rude. Slap a pretty filter on that grin and blind us with the dazzle. Or just, ya know, look for pretty words. They're there.

5. The World is Your Writing Desk

I once took a boomerang of the book I was reading while I was on a roller coaster. If you're a writer, you're a writer all the time. Yeah we're not working in a visual medium like paint or cartoons (although if you do that too, then post that shiz!) but we're still working, and we work everywhere. Show us your writing desk, and you don't even have to move the 37 Cheetoh's bags. Notebook on a beach? Instaperfect. Taking your typewriter on the A train? Well don't be a dippy ya hippie! If you want to use Instagram in your social media arsenal (and if you don't that's totally okay, pick the faceswords or tweetsabers, whatever works for you) then take advantage of the work you're already doing every day and share it. And really, that can go for any social media platform. Like Austin Kleon says, show your work! If you do, your tribe will find you. Arms outstretched, moaning braaiinzzzz over and over, we'll find you.

As with any writing/writelife advice, take what works for you and ditch the rest. Got other ideas for writerly Instagram posts? Share in comments!

Write on!

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Read More: From KidLit: How to Hook a Reader

Submission Opportunity: If you've thought about working on something historical check out this awesome fellowship opportunity with the American Antiquarian Society!

Monday, August 7, 2017

5 Different Ways To Think About "Write What You Know"

1. Write What You Want To Find Out.

If we all stuck with what we knew, our libraries would be full of pretty dull ink blots. J.K. Rowling would have never written about wizards living under staircases. J.R. Tolkien would have never given us Hobbitses, precious. Dan Wells would never have been able to write about a straight up psychopath. (At least, one would hope...). So really, the only thing stopping me from writing a story about an NBA star isn't that I'm a 5'4 white girl with the coordination of a banana, but that I... well, frankly, Kobe I don't give a flan. It's not what I want to find out about. If you're a 5'4 white girl with the coordination of a banana and for you the NBA is one of those brown paper packages favorite things type of things, then don't let anybody tell you you can't write about it. Write about what you care about. Write about what you're willing to dive into. What you're willing to research and put your blood, sweat, and other bodily fluids into.

2. Write What You DON'T Know.

This isn't actually contradictory to the traditional "write what you know" advice slung from every level of writer blogdom high and low. In fact they go hand in hand. Let me explain. No there is too much, let me some up. Buttercup is marry Humperdink in little less than...wait, where were we? Oh yeah. Ok, so there are lots of things you DO know lots about, right? Maybe you're the worlds foremost Han Dynasty expert. You've read all the books just because you're a Han nerd. (Lay off Leia, he's mine! Wait, wrong Han...) You can tell the difference between a Han pot and a Shin pot in thirty seconds flat. Maybe you know you want to write about the Han dynasty in your novel, but are having a hard time figuring out what approach to take. Well, think of it this way. What are the gaps in your otherwise extensive knowledge? Where's the loose tooth in your jaw? The gap in the fence that your creepy neighbors keep spying on you through? Cover that hole! Find that missing plank and form it into something beautiful. Write the thing you DON'T know.

3. Write What Puts You In The Freak Show.

You know you have a freak side. We all do. What I mean is, we all have something that puts us in the maligned 1%, and it ain't gotta be moulah. Maybe you grew up with a neighbor who cast spells on your house every night. Maybe you're dad works on a station in Antarctica and you've visited him. Maybe you were born with a rare disease that makes all your farts smell like grass clippings. I don't know. But you do. And maybe it's not something you normally think of as that strange, or it might take you a while to realize how unique it is. Take that part of you and run with it. Don't be shy. Fart those grass clippings. It might be hard. It might be vulnerable. But it sure could be the claw that pulls your little squeaky alien self out of the overcrowded prize box.

4. Write Where You Live.

So maybe this one hits home for me specifically because I live in a city that I don't think I've ever seen represented in fiction. Heck, my entire state isn't particularly hot on the Hollywood/Bestseller list. (What was the last show to be set in Utah...Sister Wives? Ugh). Ok, ok, obviously there are plenty of awesome and wonderful things set in Utah and in my little old Provo specifically, but there could definitely be more. And in all likelihood its the same for wherever you live. Everybody wants to set their stories in New York or Chicago, but you're not everybody, you're you you shimmering, powerful, rainbow-studded stallion you. Plus, writing where you live won't merely help you stand out, it'll also make it easy for you to write a totally authentic and refreshing story because it's a story from where you're standing. So go outside, breathe the Natchitoches or Pocatello or Karaganda air, or wherever it is you breathe where you live. (Hey, you might be a blobfish with good wifi. I don't know your life.) Then come back inside and breathe it onto the page, rich and pungent.

5. Write Who You Know.

Ok, so I don't mean copying wholesale your weird uncle who dyes his beard turquoise and whose footprints look like claws. (Ok, but if you for real have an uncle with claws for feet write that shiz.) I don't even necessarily mean digging out the strangest humans in your vicinity and morphing them so they fit on a page, although that's not necessarily a bad idea. In fact, sure, do that. But also don't forget that large groups also have personality. We call it culture. It's why you're called "Ma'am" in Texas and... something less nice in New York. Whoever you're surrounded by has already got their grubby, grimy, culture-filthy stench all over you, so you might as well take full advantage of it. The people in Baton Rouge are different from my people here in Utah Valley. They just are. And I want to see that. Zoom in and show us those differences. Get right up close enough to count the nose hairs. Okay maybe you don't need to be that close, but take the people around you and use them as inspiration. Tell your story and don't forget that they're the context.

More ideas for thinking about "Write What You Know"? Leave them in comments!

Read More: From Kristen Lamb: What Truly Makes a Powerful Female Character
Submission Opportunity: Parabola is accepting Non-Fiction articles.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Have You Diversified your Writing Portfolio?

Firstly, check out this awesome post from Chuck Wendig about making a serious career/living out of this wordsmithing we do.

One thing he talks about in this post that I've been trying to focus on lately is diversifying your writing paths. There are a lot of great writerly options out there, and I don't think we have to pick all of them, but I think we should at least pick a handful.

I like novels, and I think most of all y'all do too, and that is and will stay the largest egg in my basket. But I think Chuck is wise to advocate incubating more than just one egg. (If you're looking to make writing your career, at any rate. There are other writing choices and lifestyles that are beautiful and wonderful too.)

Since writing for a living has been my dream since I was in middle school, this is advice I've been trying to take to heart. And now that I've finished grad school, this is where I'm focusing my energies. I'm querying the novels, of course, but I've also started seriously learning about pitching articles to magazines, news stories to newspapers, working on projects like picture and chapter books as well as my MG and YA novels, researching screenwriting, professional blogging opportunities, etc. Because those are the writing paths that seem at least sort of interesting to me.

There are a ton of other writing possibilities too. TV writing, technical writing, medical writing, legal writing, tons of stuff. In fact, so many it can feel overwhelming. But narrowing down your focus and energies on the opportunities and projects that really excite you can help you take steps towards full time writing.

Do you think this approach to a writing career is helpful for you? What three writing paths would be your top choices?

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