Thursday, December 5, 2013

Real-life Application

Now that we've wrapped up the semester, I was interested in seeing how you guys would take this class and use it in your daily life (or in the future)! Everything that the authors talked about, as well as all the advice we were given from Dr Donovan, classmates, etc has to have had some lasting impact on your work or writing, and I wanted to know how you all would go out and use what you learned in this class. If not, what did you not like about what someone said/did and how can you use that and turn it to your advantage/learn from it?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Options for Publishing

Hi everyone!

I thought I would make a post about publishing. I don't know everything there is to know, but I have done some research. I thought you guys could also contribute your own research as well.

So, if you wanted to get something published, how would you go about doing it? Here's a few places I looked up: first here's a link to the top fifty literary magazines where you can submit your work.

Here's another link with some interesting magazines, a few of which are also listed in the previous link: click here.

And I don't know if this is already listed, but my dad is a fan of Analog Science Fiction and Fact magazine, and I've read their stuff and really liked it. Here's a link: Analog Submission Guidelines. Most magazines have submission guidelines for what they're looking for, and some even have pretty good advice.

You can post your own research on getting published here, or you can just react to what I provided. Of course, since we're students, I think it's important to submit to the magazines on campus, but we should definitely keep this stuff in mind.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Wrapping Up

This is to encourage discussion about the wrap-up exercise we did not have time to discuss in class today.

What similar ideas did you hear expressed?
What new ideas did you hear that you had not thought about before?
What else struck you are particularly interesting or useful about the ideas expressed in the wrap-up exercise?

Respond to any of these questions or others of you own as you wish!

Conflicts Look Into My Eyes - Outlandish

As a result of this class I have thought more about what I can do in this world to make it a better place to live. I have learned a lot about what it means to speak the truth. The more I learn about the world the sadder it makes me. If only people knew how to love each other and understand that we are all humans. Margret Randall taught me a lot about this along with Demetria Martinez. Throughout my entire life I have lived with the struggle of being misunderstood. Not to say my problems are any greater than another's and I don't live in the same fear that my brothers and sisters overseas do, but I hope that we can feel for them and understand that there is a bigger picture than the one that America gives us. I like this song because it speaks all of the things I wish I could have said. Please enjoy!

If you all have any thoughts on this or possibly some things in your life that you find a major issue of today's economy please talk about it.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Most Important Change

What do you consider the one change I could make in this class the next time I teach it that would improve it the most?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


Hello Everybody~~
So I just wanted to make a short post and maybe talk about what you might bring for the potluck in the comments if you guys actually want to do the potluck. Hope to see you guys next Monday. Take care~

I am hopefully going to bring chips and possibly lemonade.
Also if somebody can could they bring plates and forks :D Thanks everybody!

Final Thoughts

Hello Everybody,
So as a sort of final post and closing of the class I would like to open a post for any final thoughts and comments on the course. I know most of us don't want to acknowledge that the end is so close, but the reality of it is we have one day left in the classroom. Most of all I want to say thank you to all of you guys. The ones who talked and discussed the readings we did and had deep and friendly discussions. Despite only seeing all of you once a week or in passing you have all become good friends and I wish you the best in your college career and thereon.

Secondly I want to thank all the authors, even though they won't see this post, they have touched me and took time out of their busy lives to teach us something. I don't think I will ever be able to relive these moments. Authors are in fact really amazing people. Even if I had not particularly read a certain genre, such as mystery (which we seemed to read a lot of), I became more open to reading mystery novels and the people behind the story were the most extraordinary of all. I found that a voice could soothe oceans by listening to V.B. Price. That legacies can go on even if somebody dies from Anne Hillman. That vampires, humans, elves, and werewolves do not in fact have to be confined to their own books from Melinda Snodgrass. That it is okay to write about your past from Kate Horsly. That being an activist and an author go hand in hand from Margret Randall and Demetria Martinez. That writing should never be for oneself but for the reader from Daniel Abraham, he also taught me to never give up and that great things take a long time and hard work. And lastly learned that you do not have to major in Journalism or Creative Writing to become an author from Michael Thomas. In the end I am going to miss you all.

Never stop reading. Never stop dreaming. and Thank you.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Other Authors

This semester, we have been lucky enough to have some friendly, encouraging writers come in and speak to our class about their writing process, their stories, and give some helpful advice for those of us who want to go into writing. I sort of got my dream-team (Daniel Abraham and Melinda Snodgrass) as guests to the series, but they write the kind of fiction I like best.

Are there any authors you would have liked to see as a part of this series? Especially if they are still alive and live in New Mexico, but they don't have to be.

Visual Representations of "Swan Song"

These are a few covers of my favorite book, Swan Song by Robert McCammon, first published in 1987 but currently out of print. The covers have always baffled me.

I used to own the top left one, and when I first read it, I waited patiently for this red-faced demon to rise over an ocean in some way, to no avail. There is a monster/demon in the book, but his face shifts from one normal face to another, and in between faces, has a third scarlet eye in the middle of his forehead. He's called the Man with the Scarlet Eye, but evidently the illustrator only used "scarlet" and "man." (There's also never any bodies of water.)
The bottom left one makes a little more sense, because Swan, the title character, is a young blond girl who makes plants grow in the post-apocalyptic world wherever she goes. However, the monster in the sky is again a very odd interpretation.
The bottom middle one makes no sense whatsoever, and I'm not sure what the illustrator could possibly have been imagining the book was about. Rest assured that there are no wolf-gremlin-mutants with green tentacle-tongues anywhere in the story.
The top right one is decent. This book is about the nuclear apocalypse between the USSR and the USA, so the mushroom cloud with the skull is appropriate. There are also several characters in the shadow of the cloud, and what appears to be a tree in the middle, so it seems that the illustrator really did pay more attention to what the book was about here.
The bottom right one resembles some of the action books we were looking at in class, with the very large fonts, but has not much else going on at all. It has a "best-seller" look, implying that the (late) author's name should be good enough to pique an interest in the book.
I currently own the top middle one, which is my favorite. The destruction of the skyscrapers of New York City, which is where one of the three main stories of the book takes place, is shown really well, and I like the addition of the bare tree in the foreground. I think this cover gives the most useful information about the book--just by looking at it, you can safely assume that it involves some kind of modern apocalypse. Although the top right cover also gave a lot of information, most of it wouldn't make sense unless you'd already read the book.

I chose this book because there's so many wildly different covers to choose from, most of which seem to have originated from a brief skimming of the 900+ page book. We didn't talk about the horror genre in class, but the artwork for most of these are somewhat typical horror-book covers: they look hand-painted, and usually have either bright, contrasting colors (especially if they're from the 80s) or shades of black, brown, and/or green (to convey a sense of the "night" or general shadiness in topic). But beyond being able to tell that it's probably a horror book, it's very hard to get an idea of how phenomenal this book is from just the covers, which are usually something that look like they'd be at home in a bargain bin.

Author Photo - Roger Zelazny

Last week we did in class exercises to do with images and portrayals of authors and their works. At the end of the page, we were asked to post a picture of an author the class has not worked with this semester. I choose Roger Zelazny. I did my research paper on him and so I feel like I have gotten to know him a bit. Here is a picture of him:

I find this picture even more interesting after our discussion in class. His pose, leaning against a wall and hand in his pocket, makes him seem very confident and sure with himself. From researching him however, I think he was less confident than he looks. you can almost see this in his face. he looks a little bit uncomfortable. Also the background is Adobe, and his shirt and belt are a little southwestern, implying he was from the southwest, which is actually sort of not true. He moved to Sane Fe much later in life. I also think he looks a bit informal, which we mentioned was a commonality in the photos of males we saw. Do you guys see anything I missed?

"The Big Wink" Steve Brewer, Marketing Writing

The Big Wink 

In Steve Brewer's "The Big Wink" the cover photo is a leaf of marijuana in a glass jar.
The picture depicted on the front cover of the book does not give away the entire story however it gives the reader some insight by first glance. The story is about the medical marijuana debate and the two main character's experiences running from the law.

The use of marketing of this is that the reader at first glance will know vaguely what the story will be focused on. However, from the cover personally I would not have known that this was a mystery novel. The only reason I would have assumed that it would have been a mystery novel is because we have read Steve Brewer's "Box of Pandoras." What do you all think? Could there have been a better cover for Steve Brewer's "The Big Wink"?

Summary can be found here:

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Their Questions Now Our Questions

Most of us by now have had the opportunity to ask questions to our assigned authors. The questions ranged from asking about their characters to asking about their personal life. All the answers we have received have been interesting and some even controversial. What would be some of your guys' answers to those same questions we have asked of our guest authors? For example, how much of your own history do you put in your writing? Or how do you get over writers block? How do titles come to you? What about characters names? I know some of us aren't writers but we could still answer these questions because I think everyone has had the opportunity to write fiction at one point in their life.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Consistency Over Quality

Demetria Martinez mentioned in her talk that writing on a regular basis was more important than how nuanced the writing is, at least at first. And other writers have mentioned that--in fact, next to reading, it's one of the top given bits of advice (with a side of controversy about the "write what you know" adage).

Anyway, it got me thinking about the habit of writing, especially with NaNoWriMo this month. For those of you who are writers, do you have a regular practice of writing outside of NaNo? What is it? And for those of you who don't consider yourselves creative writers, do you regularly write in a journal or on a blog? What do you think the pros and cons would be for incorporating this habit into your weekly/daily life?

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Favorite Author

So, we have met all of our authors but one. Who is your favorite so far? Why was he or she your favorite?

It is very difficult for me to pick, but I am going to say either Melinda Snodgrass or Kate Horsley. I probably enjoyed Kate Horsley's short stories more than anything else that we have read, and I tried to apply some of her advice to my own writing (for the creative project, specifically). I also really liked Melinda Snodgrass. Although her book was not one of my favorites (I have read a lot of urban fantasy, so it wasn't that interesting to me), I really felt like she was inspiring and interesting. Also, I love Star Trek and I watched some of the episodes that she wrote, and I was very impressed. She said that she thinks any kind of writing is good for you, and I found that inspiring coming from a successful writer. Not that I needed permission to write what I write or anything, but it was nice to hear her say it! So many people are condescending when they learn that you write certain things.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Piece of Advice

So the semester is coming to an end. We only have one author left! It seems like this semester went by faster than previous ones. Anyway, as I am here contemplating how fast time has gone by, I was thinking about the things I have learned this semester, especially in this class. I wanted to ask you guys about the things you have learned about writing in this class? I think we had the unique opportunity to actually get to meet published authors. They gave us so much advice, and although I know we have one author left, what have you guys learned from them? What piece of advice will you carry with you for the rest of your life?

Personally, the piece of advice that I think has stuck with me is to read. A few of the authors told us that in order to be a good writer, you must first be a good reader. When I was a child, I read a lot. Even through high school most of my afternoons were spent reading. However, these past couple of years I have found myself avoiding books. I do read the textbook pages assigned but I no longer feel like I have time to read more of my favorite authors. Because of this class, I think that will have to change. I will look for that extra hour in my day to dedicate to a book. More than ever I think that reading is very important.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Albuquerque again

So this week's book "The Block Captain's Daughter" by Demetria Martinez was only the second book to really be set in Albuquerque. We have had other New Mexico settings including Corralas and Sante Fe, and Butterfly Kisses had a little bit about Albuquerque, but it was not the primary setting. Albuquerque has only been the primary setting for these last two books. Last week we had a discussion post where some of us talked about "our Albuquerque" based on the discussion about "My Town". We have now seen another version of Albuquerque from this weeks author. I would like to hear from you if this weeks book changed your version of Albuquerque at all and in what way. I would also like to hear if anyone noticed major similarities or differences between the two author versions or your version of Albuquerque.

Character Voice in "The Block Captain's Daughter"

While reading this week's book by Demetria Martinez, I was a bit thrown off by the characters' dialogue and the letters Lupe wrote to her daughter. What bothered me was the characters' vocabularies and grammar--I'm caught between belief and disbelief in Lupe's ability to write the words on the page, and some of what the characters say seems unnatural. It may be that Martinez never intended us to believe that the characters speak as they do, but I don't understand why she would want that.

For example, on page 16 Cory apologizes for being "haughty about the fact of our roots." Soon after, Peter says, "I went to Stanford intending to major in Spanish. Instead I majored in depression." Those words might look nice on paper, but it's difficult to imagine them actually being spoken in the context. I feel that the characters' peculiar ways of speaking diminish the distinctions between them.

As for Lupe, I want to say that her grammar and diction are more flowery than I would expect from someone in her situation, but it's also explained that she learned English from American Christians, so her sense of sentence structure might have been influenced by old, formal texts like the Bible.

What do you think about the voices of Martinez's characters? How do they compare to the voices of other characters we've encountered this semester? Am I missing something or making a mistake?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Historical Perspective and Margaret Randall

In her talks for our class yesterday, Margaret Randall brought to our work of the semester a uniquely historical perspective about her own life as well as about Albuquerque. What does such a perspective bring to our class that we have not yet discussed in terms of the works of other writers?

Politics and Writing

Margaret Randall mentioned how her politics have been incredibly influential not only in her writing but in her life. It's amazing to meet someone who was involved in so many revolutions and protests across the world. While my political stance is probably not as extreme as hers, I've often thought about including my commentary in writing. Which issues do you think you include in your writing? Which ones do you wish you could discuss more than you do? Do you think you have any stances that are "too extreme" for publishing?

Writing About Your Hometown

Margaret Randall talked a lot about her desire to return to her hometown, which helped inspire her to write "My Town." While I was born in Omaha, I feel like Las Vegas is my hometown. Up until very recently, I never thought to write about those experiences growing up away from the Strip and what pop culture obsesses over in Vegas. It got me thinking about the things I did want to discuss: Red Rock Canyon, the Spaghetti Bowl of highways around the Strip, a summer job working on the Strip, etc.

What do you guys think you would concentrate on if you were to write a short memoir about your hometown?

Difference between Poets

I was wondering what you all thought about the general way poetry was "performed" for us between VB Price and Margaret Randall. Personally, I enjoyed Price's performance more because he gave the words he spoke a bit more character, but Randall's was enjoyable as well because her poems were mostly memories so they were more "personal to the mind". What do you guys think? Who did you like more, if anyone?

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Advantages of Scifi or Genre Fiction

As a follow-up to Daniel Abraham's talk this week, I thought we might spend a bit of time expanding or focusing on one small part of his talk. While he did not say it in quite this way, one of the points Abraham made was that there are advantages for writers in writing genre fiction, or in his case fantasy and/or scifi. What about for readers? What are the advantages for readers who prefer to read mostly fantasy, scifi, or any other type of genre fiction? What does such fiction provide readers that "mainstream" does not? If you read genre fiction often, why do you chose that over other types of fiction?

The Writer and Egoism

This past Monday when Daniel Abraham came to talk with us, he asked a couple of us the purpose of our writing. Although, I am not a writer, I was a little surprised when he said he doesn't write for himself. I understand his argument that writing for your own interests in egoistic and that is why he writes for his audience.

However, I think a writer will always put a little of himself in his writings. Even Daniel Abraham said that to write about an emotion, you have to have felt that emotion otherwise it doesn't come across to the reader as the writer intends it to. Then, how can a writer leave his ego out of writing if everything he writes is about the emotions he felt or would theoretically feel in a scenario?

The person that is writing leaves pieces of themselves in their writings since, through what they write, they are expressing their desires and emotions. Therefore, how can a person separate themselves, that is their ego self, from their writings? I don't think it is possible. Ultimately, a witer would want someone to read what they wrote, but that itself is egoistic because it comes down to a desire by a person to have another person read what THEY wrote.

So, did I misunderstand Daniel Abraham when he was talking about his purpose of writing? What do you guys think he meant?

Sunday, October 27, 2013


So, are any of you doing NaNoWriMo this year? I already explained it in class, but I'll explain it again just in case: NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. Basically you write 50,000 words in one month, starting on November 1st, which is coming up pretty soon.The website is here, if you want to check it out: NaNoWriMo.

To win, you write 50,000 words before November ends. I've never won, but I've always thought it was a good experience, and of course it's really about doing it for yourself. If you manage to write more than you normally do and get some good ideas or stories out of the process, then I consider it a success! :)

So are any of you doing it? Have any of you done it before? What did you think, and did you win (or have any other kinds of wins)?

If you haven't done it before, would you be interested in doing it? What do you think? It requires writing about 2,000 words a day. How much do you write a day normally? Do you think you can do it?

By the way, there are other national novel writing months. I've won JulNoWriMo before. It can be easier to do it at different times of the year, but it seems like the most people get worked up about NaNoWriMo. It's the most popular writing month, it seems.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Range in writing

If you've read "The Cambist and Lord Iron" by now, you may have noticed how fable-like it is, or an "economic fairy tale" as the website put it. I loved it, and was really surprised by how recent it is, because it reads like a centuries-old fable that parents read to their kids at bedtime. It has the elements of a humble but clever protagonist, a villain, a three-act plot (or three "challenges" if you prefer), and a happy ending.
Afterwards, I read "Hurt Me," which was the polar opposite of a charming childhood fable (except for another triumphant protagonist). It was chilling, violent, tense, and was still very well-written. I really enjoyed both stories, but "Cambist" only a tiny bit more. However, I was more impressed overall with Abraham's range, and his skill at two far ends of the genre spectrum (even more so since he's more well known as a science fiction/fantasy writer).

If any of you have read another of Daniel Abraham's stories besides "Cambist," what did you think of it, and how does it compare to "Cambist"? Do you prefer to write in one or two particular genres, or do you like to experiment with a wider variety?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Chaco Canyon

Hey Everybody,

Thinking back to V.B. Price’s Chaco Trilogy and how all the poems are based on the location: Chaco Canyon. Do you think it made or would make a difference if you had been to Chaco Canyon? I know for me when I read the poems there was of course visual descriptions of the canyon and I kept trying to picture myself in the canyon. I wonder, however, would the poems speak to us more if we had been to said location? I know I enjoyed the visual description and the meaning that place brought to the poet, but I wonder if we would feel the same if we went to the canyon? It is funny after reading the poems, I really do want to go to Chaco Canyon. Let me know your thoughts.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Poetry Vocalized

After yesterday's experience in class and a lot of wonderful poetry reading by V.B. Price I feel that we should talk a little bit more about how poetry is vocalized. If any of you all have a favorite poem spoken please share, I would love to hear them. One of my favorites is called "OCD" by Neil Hilborn, there is a link below. I found that he has a lot of emotion to his words and he is passionate and it brings me to tears every single time I listen to or watch it. What do you find most important in poetry readings? Feel free to talk about thoughts on V.B. Price's readings or Neil Hilborn what they did right, or maybe what they didn't do so well. Enjoy!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Meeting a Pulitzer Prize Winner

So here is the story, and it's kind of long. 

First off, I work for the Center for Academic Program Support (CAPS) here on campus and on Wednesday October 16th I was manning their table at the Celebration of Student Writers (CSW) in the SUB ballrooms. It was a pretty cool event, with talks and booths and presentations from classes. I was only working from 10-12, so I knew I would miss a lot of it because most of the events were after 12, but I didn't mind. 

Anyways, towards the end of my shift around 11:30, one of the guys who I was pretty sure set up the event comes over with another gentleman. The gentleman asks me questions about CAPS and I was surprised to find myself in a deep conversation about the effect of CAPS on campus and how CAPS has one of the top writing centers in the nation and how we are on the cutting edge with our technology and that I personally was currently involved in building some of our online tutoring pedagogy.

It was the most I had talked the entire time I was sitting at that table. Everyone else (mostly students required to go) would have a 10 second conversation with me so they could have one of the cool pens we were giving out. Anyways, the gentleman asked for my name, I gave it; he thanked me, shook my hand and walked away.  I realized that I hadn't asked his name and I felt like I might have been rude, but I figured eh, it was no big deal. 

My shift ended at 12 and I decide to walk around and visit all the cool booths. I also knew there was an author talk happening at 12:15 that I thought I could get credit for with this class. Around 12:10 someone announces they will begin the talk shortly and I take a seat in the front row. I notice a few people talking off stage, the coordinators I presumed. Then I see the man who I had that conversation with and I assumed he was also one of the people “running the show” which confused me a bit because the questions he asked me seemed to imply he was not from UNM or even Albuquerque. Again, I brush it off.

A few minutes later a man takes the mic on stage and introduces David Shipler, the author of The Working Poor, which was the Freshman Learning experience book (a book all the freshman in entry level English or university studies classes had to read). They, of course, mention that he is a Pulitzer Prize winner, which I was impressed by, and that he has numerous other books. Then the author comes on to stage…and it was the man who I had the CAPS conversation with.

I could feel my checks immediately turn red from embarrassment. Did I seriously just meet a famous Author/Pulitzer Prize winner and not even ask his name at the end of our conversation. I was mortified. At the same time, I was proud that I knew enough about caps to give it a good word in front of this man.

Despite wanting to run out of there, I stayed for the whole hour long talk. There weren’t many people actually actively listening to the talk, there was a lot going on at the booths etc. so it was hard to hear, even from the front row, which made it even harder for me to sit there because he looked me in the eyes multiple times during his talk. I learned a lot and found out this man was really interesting.

His main premise was that we do not have a poverty problem; that poverty is a result of underlying, more significant problems in America. He talked about the ways of measuring poverty, and how wrong we are to use income, since it is just a snapshot, whereas debt is a moving photo. He also said poverty is psychological and relative.

He also went into the fact that poverty leads to malnutrition, which leads to poor brain development in children, which can lead to high cases of misbehavior and high dropout rates, which then leads to poverty. It is a vicious circle.

One of the last things he talked about was the internal problems that can cause and be caused by poverty. Self-loathing and low self-esteem leads to people not trying to get jobs or not holding them because they don’t feel important. He told a story of a friend who owned a business and had to hire people and his frustrations at people who didn’t show up. He told his friend that, often times, people don’t show up because they feel like they are not important and no one will even notice that they are gone.

This struck a chord in me. I have had a job at the same place for 5+ years now (not CAPS, somewhere else I won’t mention). Despite my hard work, I earn minimum wage have not received a raise (other than mandatory minimum wage increases) the entire time I have worked there. I have worked their longer than most of my managers. I have been told many times how great I am doing and I am certain I could do the job of any of my managers, but because I can’t work full time, I can’t take the position. This past year I got a job at CAPS (higher paid and WAY more fulfilling) and I cut my hours at this other job. I was going to just quit, but my boss asked me not to, so I didn’t. So I worked there about 10 hours a week. They started cutting my responsibilities and training others on things that only I could do. I used to be valuable and special, but I felt worthless all of the sudden. So I started calling in all the time. I almost never worked there if I could find an excuse, I wouldn’t go in. finally my boss sat me down and threated to let me go if I didn’t change. This was about a month ago. I have stopped calling in, but I informed him I would be leaving at the end of the semester.

It wasn’t until I heard this author talk about this problem with feeling useless, that I realized that was why I had begun to call in. I realized that my boss was really the problem and not me. I ended up talking to my boss Friday and he was finally able to see where I was coming from. He said he would try to tell everyone they were more important more often. Although it was not enough to make me stay another semester, I was glad to hear that maybe future employees won’t go through what I did.

Anyways, this guy really got in my head and I ended up buying his book, The Working Poor, right after his talk and having him sign it and I talked to him some more. He was a cool dude! I can’t wait to read the book.

(Sorry this was so long, it was just a cool story and I was really touched by his ideas and philosophy about poverty and education in America)

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Trouble with Chaco Trilogy?

Hey, all!

While reading Dr. Price's Chaco Trilogy, I noticed that his style and grammar can be pretty difficult to grasp. Some (if not most!) of us aren't entirely comfortable with poetry, so I think it'd be helpful for anyone with questions or problems regarding Monday's readings to post them here and get support from the rest of the class.

What are you having trouble with?

Friday, October 18, 2013

Hillerman Country Exhibition: Featuring the Photographs of Don Strel

On October 4th I had the opportunity to go to the Tony Hillman Country Exhibition. When I got into the law school I was amazed by the beautiful environment, the greenery, and the high end culture. There was unique live music being played. A wonderful woman walked me into the forum and guided me to some refreshments and finger foods. I could tell that the event was professional and I immediately felt underdressed. There had shrimp, an array of crackers and dips, and mini cakes. The food was outstanding but that was far from the best part of the event.

I walked around and perused the artwork, Don Strel is indeed a talented photographer. His works took my breath away and I was amazed by his attention to the details and the timing of the photographs. In one of the photographs it looked as if the cloud was smeared across the sky in the distance because it was raining. The concept of clouds falling is one of my favorite and I wished I had the 400 dollars to buy the photo. Sadly, I didn't have the money for it. Nor will I for a while probably, however I get to keep a mini version in the pamphlet. Another one of my favorites was "Condors, Grand Canyon" the photograph caught three condors flying in a circular motion over something. However, the photograph had the sky as the background so from that perspective you could not tell just what. I especially liked that the photograph was in black and white. I feel that black and white photography can bring out many of the details that we would have missed if it was in color.

After looking at all the pieces of art the event coordinator, Sherri Burr, introduced and spoke of the purpose of the event. Anne Hillerman and Don Strel spoke to the people who came for the event. Out of the people who talked Don Strel struck me the most because he was so genuinely touched that he was brought to tears. I felt myself tearing up at his thanks and I don't know what about his speech touched me so much. Possibly the raw expression of emotion that he had to hand off the microphone because he was too choked up for words is what got me, but I immediately had a lot of respect for him.

After the talk I had a chance to talk to Don Strel and I told him how much I admired his work and that my favorite was "Condors, Grand Canyon." After I told him this he told me about how tour buses come to the Grand Canyon and tons of people get out and the condors circle hoping that one of the people will drop dead. I don't know why but I found this really funny, and I liked him even more as a person. I know that years from now I will remember Don Strel and his amazing photography and great personality.

After meeting Don Strel I met Anne Hillerman and I spoke to her about how I am now in the "Meet the Authors" class. She was excited and welcoming, and especially excited to be coming to meet our class. I look forward to getting to know her more as an author when we will meet her later this semester. She signed my pamphlet since I had forgotten my copy of "Spider Woman's Daughter" which had come in the mail the night before. I hope to get a signature from her when she comes and to discuss her work.

At the exhibit I learned that a lot of people consider Anne Hillerman's work to be a continuation of her father's work. It is interesting, because I never thought about how it would be to be the daughter of an author. She said that she grew up with the characters from Tony Hillerman's books just as if they were her uncles, aunts, and friends. Characters became reality for her and she had no problem writing about them just as if they were her own. Now that Tony Hillerman has passed away I felt that everybody at the event was nostalgic and the atmosphere became melancholic. People talked about how Tony was such a great guy and I felt regret at the fact that I never had the chance to meet him. But I guess that is how it is with many authors we admire, they died before our time. However, they live on through their works and words.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Place-based Fiction

In the first exercise we did in class today, we explored and discussed some of the techniques and approaches to writing about a place in a work of fiction. Let's expand on that discussion a bit more. Why is place or the physical setting in fiction seen as so central and important to the success of such a work? Can you think of any successful works in which the physical location is unimportant or bears little relevance to the rest of the story? Alternatively, why do some writers insist on setting so intensely that physical places serve almost as additional characters in a book that we come to love or abhor? In other words, why is place such a big deal in fiction?

Incorporating Place

As part of one of today's in-class exercises, you were asked to incorporate place-related words from a list you made into a paragraph. Did you find incorporating those words into what you had already written easy or hard? What did you learn about the process of making the concept of place a more prominent part of a piece of writing? Did the exercise change your views on any part of the writing process? What did you find most useful about this part of the exercise?

Someone Turns it into Poetry

Post here as a comment the poems you wrote based on another person's paragraph about place.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Books to Movies

Hey Everybody!

Just wanted to know your thoughts about books going to movies? Now I know Hollywood does not have ideas for movies anymore so they are taking them more from books and I don’t mean just basing them on books, or screenplays. For me personally, I enjoy classic books that become movies like The Great Gatsby, and Heart of Darkness (Apocalypse Now). And not so classical books like Harry Potter and The Hunger Games. Sometimes, however, the movies do not live up to my expectation and don’t do the book justice. What are your thoughts? Do you think movies hinder people from ever reading the book or dissuade them from reading it, worse case scenario, if they don’t like the movie?

What Made X & O Successful?

Hi everyone!

So before Kate Horsley presented on Monday, I talked with a few people about how much we liked her work. A couple of people said she was their favorite author that we've read so far. I agree. I enjoyed her work very much. And it got me to wondering, what made her works so successful? (I mean with our group, specifically. I don't know how successfully they've sold or anything.) What did you guys think she did that made it so much fun to read her works? Was it the truth, which she said she always tries to put in her stories?

I realize there is already a topic about favorite X & O stories, and I'm not asking that. I'm asking what you guys think about her writing style, and what you took away from her talk on Monday. Will you try to put the truth into your own stories more now? Were you already putting the truth into your own writing, and are you more aware of it now?

You don't have to answer all these questions, but I would like to hear your thoughts.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Oracle

As we all know, the short story the Oracle in X&O is about a women seeking advice. While I was reading this story I began to wonder what I would ask of the oracle. So, I wanted to see what some of you would like to ask the oracle? Or if that is too personal, who do you think needs advice from the oracle in our world now? I can think of many people, starting with every member of Congress!

If I had the opportunity to consult with the oracle, I would want advice on how to live my life for the good of everyone around me. I think the American society has taught us to be individualistic and look out for our own well-being. I don't really feel a sense of community because this idea of "It's your American dream, what are you going to do to achieve it?" prevents that. Or maybe that is just my perception of the American culture since I wasn't born here, but yet have grown up here. What do you guys think?

The person I would like to see go to the oracle, if that was possible, would be John Boehner. As the leader of the House of Representatives, he needs to know how to lead a divided Congress.

I know this is all wishful thinking, but is there anyone you think needs advice from the oracle?

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Pixar's 22 Rules of Storytelling

I said I'd put this up on the blog, and here it is!

One of the most helpful things I found in this is the advice to simplify. Stories, even short ones, can quickly become complicated. A writer has to adjust the scope or depth of their narratives according to the medium. A character can be whole without every little detail revealed; if you do it right, your audience cares far more about what's going to happen next than about those microscopic plot holes. Reducing a story to its bare bones can help you to add details as needed.

Of course, Pixar's methods don't apply to every form of story telling, but they possess beautiful utility. I'll definitely think of them whenever a story of mine becomes too much to handle.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Art Show at Law School Forum - Oct 4

Yesterday afternoon my brother and I had the chance to go the art show/author signing at the UNM law school. I had an incredible time while I was there to say the least! First impressions: I was surrounded by a lot of old people discussing trivial old-people-matters over a cup of wine. The food was free and delicious. Anne Hillerman was also selling and signing books! The photographs on sale were expensive but breathtaking. The music being played by musician Johnny Alston was very relevant to the event and he played very well. About half an hour or so into the event (which allowed for mingling, eating, etc), I was incredibly humbled and had second thoughts of exactly what kind of event I had attended!

The event had taken the efforts of many people to plan, schedule, organize, and promote. There were judges that attended the event. The beautiful photographs were taken by Don Strel. Don's photographs were inspired by the very works of Tony Hillerman, and he was very touched by the fact that in the 65 years he had been a photographer, this was his first art show. Personally, it was a very touching moment, he thanked those closest to him and those he loved on the verge of tears. I later met him, and complimented his work! Tony Hillerman's wife was also present, as well as their daughter Anne Hillerman, author of Spider Woman's Daughter, who I also got to meet. I told her I was in Dr. Donovan's Meet the Authors class, and her eyes kind of lit up when I told her that. She said she was looking forward to going and talking to us. She also admitted that she looked at the list of all the writers that had and will present before her and that she was a bit nervous about it - "what did [we] think of them?". I told her everyone had been fantastic so far, and she had nothing to worry about, our class doesn't bite!

Overall, that was my experience at this show. I had a good time, and realized that I was not just surrounded by "old people", I was surrounded by art fans, judges, law students, lawyers, authors, critics, artists, etc. I realized that there was more there than met my eyes. I also realized that so many people there had devoted themselves to the beautiful state they lived in, as well as the works of Tony Hillerman. (While I was standing in line waiting to meet Anne, the woman in front of me enthusiastically greeted me and told me right off the bat that she had read "ALL of Tony's works - isn't he just incredible?!"). I'm very glad I went and met one of our authors in her element before she comes to inspire us in class!

Favorite Story in X & O

Hi everyone. I finished X & O yesterday, and I think I enjoyed it more than anything else we've read so far. The story that stuck most with me was "Marla in Empty Space," the very existential what-is-life story whose plot Ms. Horsley said "cannot be explained" in the foreword. That description alone intrigued me, and the story successfully held my interest throughout. It also seems to be the type of story that I would get something new out of each time I read it. This first time though, I was struck by the message of how important other people are in giving meaning to our existences. Even having to deal with loud, highly irritating people seems better than being alone in eternal nothingness. However, the type of people you spend your time with also affects your quality and acceptance of life, from merely tolerating existence to surrendering contentedly to it, as Marla does with Geebie.
So what does everyone else think of X & O so far, and which of the stories is your favorite?

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Until Now....

Up until this point in our class, what themes can you guys think of that all the literature we have read has in common? Is there something (whether it be the actual stories or more generally) that they all share? What kind of themes could we discuss towards the end of the semester that encompasses all the material we've read and will have read?

I haven't really put much thought into this question, but I'd say in three (or so) books now, we've read about a strong, independent female protagonist who ends up winding in trouble or causing it. Two, there are consequences for the actions we take or do not take. Three, New Mexico is the place to be if you want to a good, credible story (apparently!). Four, first person voice makes it more difficult but more interesting for the reader to understand and therefore immerse his/herself in the story plot. Finally, the world craves action, adventure, mystery, magic, and romance in today's age.

Why might that be? Why does our generation not all of a sudden take a strong interest in history, or music, or math? Is it because we are dissatisfied with the current state of things today, and seek to escape into fictional worlds our minds can create with ease? (That was a mini rant!) And why are authors so eager to please their audience this way? Why can't they break the rules and write something that exceeds all other expectations? What does everyone else think?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

More Author Events

Hey Guys,

I found some websites with author events! I'm sure some of these would count. Here are the websites:

LOCAL IQ (not just author events, so  you will have to look through them):

Also, the UNM Bookstore is doing a few more author events this month. 

On the 15th, Gabriel Melendez will talk at 1pm and on the 17th Terri Grion-Gordon will talk at 2pm, both are in the bookstore again. 

Do you guys know any other sites to find author events or other  events?

Monday, September 30, 2013

What Is Your "Believe"?

Last night, a friend and I traveled to Santa Fe to see Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer at George R.R. Martin's Jean Cocteau theater. I honestly didn't expect such an intimate setting -- the theater only seats about 120 people. If either of them had sneezed, I'd have to wipe it off with a tissue. They sang together, read some short stories and poems, chatted with the audience, and answered our state question: red or green?

They both prefer Christmas.

Anyway, I wanted to bring this up because they of course signed CDs, books, comics, etc. after the show. In my copy of American Gods, Neil wrote, "Believe." It couldn't be more appropriate, seeing as how that book acted as the trigger for a lot of spiritual introspection. It continues to do that every time I revisit it. But more than that, as a last-semester senior, it can feel intimidating to look at the future and say, "I can do that." So reminding me to believe couldn't be more appropriate.

I could also just be reading way too much into it. Whatever, it was awesome.

Imagine your first major project (film, book, whatever) has been completed, and a fan asks you to sign something for them. What would you write? What's your "believe"?

Should We Write What We Know?

Sorry it took me so long to post this. 

In class I discussed the article I found titled "Should We Write What We Know?” Which you can find here :

I forgot to mention that this is actually one piece of an entire series in the NY times opinion pages called “draft”. Draft is a “series of articles about the art and craft of writing”. It “features essays by grammarians, historians, linguists, journalists, novelists and others on the art of writing — from the comma to the tweet to the novel — and why a well-crafted sentence matters more than ever in the digital age.
Here is the link to the whole series: 

Hope you enjoy!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

N. Scott Momaday

I went to the guest speaker series featuring N. Scott Momaday. For those of you who don't know who he is, he is a Native American author of Kiowa decent. He spent some time in the Jemez Pueblo Reservation which is the setting for one of his novels House Made of Dawn, which he won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1969. He writes poetry, fiction, essays, plays, as well as other mediums. He has won many awards and honors.

He talked about the Indian Oratory which at some point he described as the spoken work as a spiritual and creative form. He said that his voice was diminished, because he recently was in the hospital, but to me I really enjoyed his voice and loved the way he spoke. His voice was very pleasing to the ears, and it had a hint of wisdom, understanding as well as playfulness.

He spoke of how his father use to tell him stories as a young boy and that they were a generation from extinction. Which I thought was true. Stories that were passed down orally can be extinct by the next generation if the story telling doesn't continue. He told the audience how he got his name which is an interesting story intertwined with the story of the seven sisters running through the forest from their brother "the bear".

N. Scott Momaday spoke of the spirit of the Navajo people as they were force to relocate and make the long trek to a new land. He described them having dignity even though they were going through this ordure. They were singing, talking, and playing with their dogs when they made camp; not letting their sadness take over their life.

He described his time riding on his horse, Pecos, and how it was an exercise of the mind and that the Kiowa ancestors were centaurs. With his horse he would rescue the maiden in distress, rode with Billy the Kid, and fight the bad guys.

He told this funny story with him meeting Georgia O'Keefe for the first time. The way he tells it is funny and sweet. He wrote a poem after describing their first meeting. If you get the chance to meet with him or hear him speak that story is worth hearing.

Something he said I really liked, but I'm not sure if it is word for word, but he said, "I read to find inspiration. I write to restore candor to my mind".

He now resides in Santa Fe and he feels at ease. He was telling us of the time he swam laps, and how it was more boring than running on a treadmill. To entertain himself while swimming laps he wrote epitaphs. I really enjoyed his speech and his voice is truly remarkable. I would encourage anybody if you get the chance to go hear him speak. He seems sweet, nice, and funny. He also likes to mention the word erotica.


I think when it comes to poetry some people just have a knack for it. They can think in that kind of structure and rules and make it work for them to express their ideas. Writing poetry is hard work and it's hard to make a living off of. I'm currently reading poetry in my Spanish class and some of them I really enjoy and others are not my cup of tea. I now I understand why poets publish a whole book of poems, because if you are a beginning poet you can't just sell one poem but a volume of poems and they have to be good or something that people want to read. I personally like when a poem has a meter and has rhymes and the poem get the theme across. I think that is a great accomplishment and great creativity on the poets part. I admire poets that can do that and take the time to try and follow that structure and not just write in free verse. I'm not saying I don't like free verse, but there is something more to those poems that follow the strict  rules of poetry. What are your opinions if any or the creative process papers we had to read?

"Sudden Illumination"

Here is the article I discussed in class about the creative process and I wanted to know your thoughts on some things discussed in this article.

Do you think it is a good idea to step away from your work when you are stuck on a problem or have writers block? Personally I think it helps me. I don't know the reason, but when I don't focus on the problem at hand the answer sort of comes to me out of nowhere and at the weirdest times. Another thing I wanted to ask is if you guys had "sudden illumination"? And what do you think about caffeine stimulating the "unconscious ideation"? Some say that caffeine stops the creativity by making you too focused. What do you think?

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Does the title go first or last?

Here's a link to the artist's (Joe Reimer) website I spoke about, where he details his creative process from start to finish.

What I found particularly interesting about him is that he waits to name the work and decide its meaning at the very end, after all the physical painting and drawing and touching up is done. He says it's no different than any other viewer of the work deciding what the meaning is, and although he sees more symbolism and meaning in it, he won't say what they are to anyone else, because it's up to each individual viewer what they see in it.
Now whether this indicates a subconscious meaning leaking out of him obliviously during the painting process, or if he's just an artist that makes up a questionable "meaning" where there is none, is not for me to decide. However, I also never title anything I write until the very end. When I have to write for school, I often just jump in, type out the whole thing in one sitting, and am not even sure of where I'm going with it until it's over. Once I've written everything out and realized exactly what point I made, I revise the introductory paragraph and the thesis statement to work around it, and finally pick an appropriate title. Although this might seem like a very risky way to write a terrible paper, this method has actually worked quite well for me throughout high school and college.
This all goes back to the creative processes we went over in class on Monday, including the point that the product is more important than the process. As long as the product is worthwhile in the end, it doesn't really matter how it got there.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Speed vs. Accuracy?

The article I read was helpful in giving students like ourselves tips about how to be creative in classrooms where we aren't really given a chance. I think we all remember our high school days where an essay consisted of an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. There was a specific way of doing things and they had to be done that way, otherwise our grades would suffer. This article really advocates for the use of the creative process and I liked that.
However, the part I want to ask you guys about is the writing itself. Do you write continuously without even stopping to correct your grammar, or do you stop at what you would consider a chapter, or even a paragraph, and correct all your misspellings and such?
I think I am the kind of person that, no matter what I am writing, I go back immediately and look for corrections to be made. I go back about every paragraph or so, sometimes less, and do some editing. I think it just frustrates me to see a word underlined in red so I have the urge of going back and correcting it as soon as possible.
Are any of you guys the kind of writers that like to write and write then go back and correct your mistakes and syntax? Beverly Cleary, a children’s book author, says that she just writes and writes and doesn't go back to re-read what she wrote until a couple of days later which is when she does all the corrections. She says that she waits until the rough draft of the entire novel is done that she goes back and begins the work of rewriting. I could not possibly imagine myself doing that. I would be too temped to go back and reread what I wrote within a couple of hours.
Anyway, do you think it matters how an author likes to do it? Would we even be able to tell by reading their book which way they did it? I don't think so. Ultimately in writing it comes down to whatever makes the writer happy.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Writing Process for Second Language Learners/Foreign Language Learners

Hello everybody!

We have been talking about the writing process and how it is in English, but going beyond that this article addresses how the writing process is for ESL students or students learning other languages. Being a foreign language learner and an enthusiastic polyglot this article caught my attention. I aspire to be able to write eloquently in other languages and not sound the way I would if I was writing a speech in that language. I hope you all enjoy~

The Writing Process for Second Language Learners/Foreign Language Learners

Monday, September 23, 2013

Author Pep Talks

Hey everyone! Here's the link to the Nanowrimo pep talk archive: Pep talks. Lemony Snicket's talk is towards the bottom. I encourage everyone to read it, as well as a few other author pep talks, and then you should post your comments about your favorites! Are they good pep talks? Do you find them encouraging? I think Lemony Snicket's is fantastic because it is both entertaining and encouraging.

Here are also a few blogs that I follow on Tumblr that I think you guys might enjoy: (This blog includes encouragement and writing tips. I think some of the better stuff that this blog has posted is a bit further back in its archive.) (Mostly encouragement for writers and sometimes advice.)  (This blog occasionally posts some helpful grammar tips!)

Setting and its Suitability to a Genre

So far this semester we've read several stories set in New Mexico--an action/adventure in Butterfly Kisses and a mystery in A Box of Pandoras. I'm not sure about Melinda Snodgrass's Box Office Poison, but I've begun reading her novel The Edge of Reason for next week, and it's turning out to be a magic-based fantasy (epic?) set in Albuquerque. From the time I realized this I've been stuck on one thought: Really? In Albuquerque?

How much do you think a setting like Albuquerque is suited to a genre like fantasy? How would a story of that genre have to differ from one set in New York or London or New Delhi? Personally, the thought of a magical battle for the fate of humanity being set in Albuquerque has been jarring--it just isn't as natural for me to imagine it here as it might elsewhere. Could you imagine this city being host to an alien invasion or home to a super hero? On the contrary, I thought Santa Fe made an interesting and suitable setting for A Box of Pandoras because the juxtaposition of rural and high societies in that context added to the story's complexity.

What genres do you think suit or don't suit Albuquerque, if any? Or is it just a matter of how the story is told, regardless of genre?

Creative Process -- Where You Go For Advice

I wanted to post this in part because we'll be bringing in articles about the creative process for tomorrow's class, and partly because I always want to know where artists get help from. I'm talking about writing mostly, but if anyone participates in other artistic forms, I'd be curious to hear about that as well.

For the past year or so, I've gone to Chuck Wendig's rather irreverent but very poignant blog for advice on everything from world-building to editing (trigger warning for language). Many of us have probably read Stephen King's "On Writing," or have other books collected over the few years that include prompts, breakdowns of story structure, and ways to create more dramatic conflict. I also get great advice from the kind of fiction I want to read. For writing action or suspense, I turn to Preston & Child's "Pendergast" series, but for flowery language, I often end up rereading Neil Gaiman.

So where do you guys get your advice and inspiration? If you need to write a suspenseful or romantic scene, what helps you get it right? Maybe post links to your articles from class?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Banned books

In case you didn't know, next week, September 22 - 28, is Banned book week. Banned books are an interesting and relevant topic to our course, so I thought I would get your opinions.

There are actually two distinct groups of censored books. There are “banned books” and “challenged books”. According to the American Library Association’s webpage about banned books: 
A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group.  A banning is the removal of those materials.  Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others.  Due to the commitment of librarians, teachers, parents, students and other concerned citizens, most challenges are unsuccessful and most materials are retained in the school curriculum or library collection.
Although it still occurs, book banning is less common nowadays then it was in the past, but books are still constantly being challenged in schools and libraries across our nation. In my opinion, banning or challenging a book because it is says something you don’t want it to is ridiculous. Some of the greatest books I have ever read were once “banned books”. This includes:
  • The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
  • The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
  • To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
  • The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
  • Ulysses, by James Joyce
  • Beloved, by Toni Morrison
  • The Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
  • 1984, by George Orwel 

There are many, many others as well. You can check out the American Library Association’s webpage about banned books to get an idea about just how many books are challenged each year and to explore the controversy.

I want to know what you guys think. Are there situations where you think a book should be banned? Or is it never ok? How many books that you have read are on the banned books list? Do you think they should have been banned?

I also wanted to let you guys know that the UNM Bookstore always does events during banned book week. This year they are having two speakers. Both are authors of banned/challenged books.

Nasario García
Author of Grandma's Santo on Its Head.
Wed, Sept. 25th, 3:00pm

Gene Lessard
Thu, Sept. 26th , 12:00pm

Both authors will be talking about their books and then doing a book signing. The events will be held in the general books department in the main campus bookstore.

I assume that these events would count for our lecture, please correct me if I am wrong professor Donovan.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Hillerman's edits

Take a closer look at any 3-6 pages of your choice from any first or second edition of any of Tony Hillerman's works as found on the Tony Hillerman Portal we saw at CSWR yesterday. Look closely at the edits made on the pages you choose and write a post about what those edits suggest to you about Hillerman's creative or editorial process.

Zimmerman Library = A Hidden Treasure

I was wondering what the class thought of having gone to visit Zimmerman library as a class yesterday! As for me, it was incredibly informative and really stunning to know that the rooms we were shown yesterday contain more hands-on material and information than I could imagine. It was a great chance to not only get to know the library, but to see truly how much it has to offer students, and how much information we can all get for our research on our papers. I also enjoyed the presentations by the three women, and getting to see each of them in their element, talking to us of all the opportunities the library and research present to us, as well as actual material from different authors was great.

So my question to everyone is what were your impressions? Was there anything you would've liked to see? Did anything disappoint you? What were your impressions on the presenters? Will you use the materials they presented in the future?

Friday, September 13, 2013

Writing together with someone else/Brainstorming

As you all were talking about your writing styles last week, I thought about my own. I don't usually write on my own outside of school work, except for movie reviews and short screenplays. The screenplays are actually usually written together with my like-minded boyfriend. When we come up with an idea, we flesh it out just by talking back and forth. We add on characters, their characteristics and histories, settings, plot points, and even camera angles as we go along, just talking it out for maybe an hour or so. After we have a solid backbone of a story to work with, that's when it's finally written down on paper, usually by whoever came up with the idea in the first place. (Whether or not these stories ever make it to film is another story.)

When it comes to thinking of ideas, we play this game where one person gives the other either a genre or a character to work around, or sometimes a combination of opposite genres, like a western-type that takes place in the 1980s. We used to both work at a movie theater, and this game was great for passing time on slow weekdays.

So given that, I was wondering if any of you had worked together with someone else to write something, or if you had any other tricks for brainstorming ideas.

Monday, September 9, 2013

What do you think about self-publishing?

So now that we've all been able to hear what Mr. Brewer had to say about his writing process, his influences, his career, and A Box of Pandoras, did your opinion of the book change? Mine did a little, for the better. Before reading the story, I noticed the lack of publisher information on the first page. Self-publishing is often a red flag for me--not outright a bad sign, but more of a signal to tread cautiously. However, I ended up mostly liking the story (although Loretta did annoy me at times). That opinion solidified after hearing more about Mr. Brewer's past as a journalist, that he'd written 28 books so far, and that he's a legitimate authority on crime fiction and mystery. I also especially enjoyed hearing about all the books he's read in his life, from childhood to now, which I think is a hugely important factor for how much of an authority on writing and storytelling someone is. What do you think about self-publishing? Is there more for a self-published author to prove, or does it not matter?

Discussion layout: Box of Pandoras

Omkulthoom Qassem
Meet the Authors
“Box of Pandoras” Discussion


Pull out a piece of paper and write down the name of the person you first thought of as the murderer. Be honest!

Compare results, who seemed like the most plausible suspect? Whose name was repeated the most?  


1. What was your first impression of Loretta? Could you see something of yourself in her character? Yes or no? and if yes what characteristic?

2. Did any of you anticipate the outcome of the mystery? Did you feel that there were enough clues for the reader to figure out who the suspect was if they played close attention?

3. Loretta had many quirks about her, one of my favorites being how she just found random sorts of pills in her bag and used them. What was your favorite and why?

4.What was your impression of Harley and Loretta’s relationship?

5. When you began reading this book what did you anticipate it being about?

6. If there is one part which you particularly liked or which stuck out to you the most tell us which part and why?

7.  What did you like most about the author’s writing style?

8. Did the person you thought was the murderer shift throughout the book? Did the author do this on purpose? Leaving red hearings for the wrong people?

9. Which part surprised you the most?

10. And finally last but not least what did you take away from this book as a whole?