Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Do social networking sites have practical use?

As I mentioned in my last message, I have several ideas for posts that I’ve been sitting on for a while so here’s the first of these long-gestating posts.

These days, it seems that all sorts of media outlets (including the one where I work) have introduced a social networking component to their websites, thereby encouraging people to engage in social networking while on the job.

However, considering that sites like Facebook and MySpace are already known to be timewasters for employees, do you think mixing the two as such is a smart move? Or is it merely a more constructive alternative for employees who have a tendency to drift their attention away from the task at hand?

I have mixed feelings about this, as I can see both the benefits and drawbacks a system like this has. On the one hand, it can detract from other, ultimately more important parts of employees’ workdays, but it can also be a useful networking tool, at least in theory.

What do you guys think? Is social networking at work a good idea, at least for journalists? Clearly, the idea is to make connections that help your professional life, but does it even accomplish that goal? I'm not entirely convinced...

But I’m anxious to hear what you all think… Sound off in the comments section.

Rob out.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I'm BACK...

...and honestly, I have no good reason for neglecting the Table. As you guys know, real life has a way of getting in the way of our creative aspirations. However, for the, like, 3 of you that care what I've been up to, let me offer this summary of what's gone down in my world since September (God, has it been that long since I posted here).

As most of you know, I've been working full-time at a local newspaper, and while it's been rewarding as all hell and given me an unbelievably large step forward in my career as a writer, it has also cut into my time to the point where I have taken something of a sabbatical from graduate school. While a 9 to 5 is definitely a setback as far as the creative process goes, I have managed to make some progress on my never-ending screenplay (halfway through the 2nd draft finally!), have brainstormed some song ideas and even reignited my passion for a novel that I started with a friend (in fact, it'll be my next project once my screenplay is done...whenever that is...lol). Aside from that, I've been dealing with a myriad of other ongoing irritants, including some just-resolved issues relating to my coursework.

Yesterday, I conducted an interview for an upcoming story with a local professional who also dabbles in creative stuff, and he offered me some wise words of encouragement about how I wouldn't want to let years go by and look back on writing that I never finished. I had already been looking to return to the Table and re-focus on my screenplay and such, but this apparently was that nudge I needed to actually make my triumphant re-emergence (haha...).

In any case, I hope you all had a wonderful Labor Day, Halloween, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving and any other holiday I missed in my absence. I have plenty of ideas for posts, and I promise I will attempt to post on here more regularly. Maybe I can even manage a weekly post. :0
Although we all know how writers do with schedules... ;)

Stay tuned......
Robert out

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Michael Crichton. R.I.P.

Michael Crichton has always been one of my favorites. I'll miss him and so will millions of others!!


Wednesday, October 29, 2008


So, November 1st is right around the corner and, for those of you who don't know what that means, I'll tell you!! November is National Novel Writing Month and in honor of this highly publicized holiday, there is a contest in which people are challenged to write a 50,000 word novel in one month. If you win you get is a nifty certificate you can print off your computer.But that's not the best prize. The best prize is having 50,000 words of a rough draft ready to be added to or edited (December is National Novel Editing Month :)). Anyway, here is en e-mail I got about the upcoming "festivities". Hope you guys participate!!


Dear National Novel Writing Month Author,

Hi there! NaNoWriMo Program Director Chris Baty here. Before we get rolling, I wanted to give you a quick guide to our upcoming five weeks of literary domination.

Here's the plan:

Today: Make a tax-deductible donation to help us pay for National Novel Writing Month. So far, we've received donations from 3.4% of our participants, putting us 6.6% away from our goal. Chip in! Even $10 makes a big difference, and pays huge dividends in halos and noveling karma. We're a nonprofit, and we've spent hundreds of thousands of dollars readying this swashbuckling adventure for 110,000 adults and 15,000 kids and teens around the world. We need your support!

Tomorrow: Make sure you've set your time zone correctly (it's under User Settings). Some word-count features appear and disappear at midnight on November 1 and November 30, so dialing those in now will save you stress later. Join a local region, and find out when and where the first novel-writing get-togethers (called "write-ins") for your city or town will be held. Tune in to WrimoRadio, NaNoWriMo's podcast, and learn how you can be on the November 3 episode.

October 31: Get the first pep talk email. You'll receive about three of these a week—one from me and two from our panel of esteemed celebrity pep talkers—throughout November. Note: If you donate $50 or more today, you will receive six years of pep talks from me in a beautiful 80-page PDF, constituting about as much week-by-week NaNoWriMo advice and encouragement as any human being can handle without falling over.

November 1: At midnight, local time, start writing your book. You need to log 1667 words per day to stay on par. The site will be very slow for the first few days of the event, but with patience you can update your soaring word count in the box at the top of our site or on the "Edit Novel Info" page of your profile. Watch your stats graph fill. Send a link to your author profile to your friends so they can follow your progress. Revel in the majesty of your unfolding story. It's November 1! You are an unstoppable novel-writing machine!

November 2: Stop writing. Wonder if you should start over. Keep going. Feel better.

November 3: The first November episode of WrimoRadio goes up on the site, beaming out overcaffeinated messages of hope from Wrimos worldwide. We'll be podcasting every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from here until December.

November 8: As the first full week of writing comes to a close, you will be at 11,666 words. This is more fiction than most people write in their lifetimes, and you did it in a week. Go, you! This is also Municipal Liaison Appreciation Day, a raucous international holiday that celebrates NaNoWriMo's volunteer chapter-heads (the folks who organized the write-in you went to last week). Chocolate, flowers, and gifts of expensive electronics are appreciated.

November 13: Nothing really happens on November 13.

November 15: After the second week of writing, you will be at 25,000 words. This is the approximate length of such legendary works of fiction as Animal Farm, Death in Venice, and Gossip Girl: I Like it Like That. You're halfway to winning! Attend a Midway Party in your town, or come to San Francisco, where the Night of Writing Dangerously Write-a-thon will set records for group noveling and candy consumption.

November 16: The second half of NaNoWriMo dawns. Writerly confidence builds. Your book comes to life, and characters start doing interesting, unexpected things. Nice. Weird.

November 22: After the third full week of writing, you stand at 35,000 words, the NaNoWriMo milestone universally recognized as The Place Where Everything Gets Much, Much Easier.

November 25: Novel validation and winning begins, and Word-Count Progress Bars turn from blue to green (over 50K) to purple (over 50k and a verified winner!). Check our FAQs for details on uploading your manuscript and winning. For the first time ever, a very limited number of 2008 Winner t-shirts will appear in the store. These will make you smile.

November 27: American Wrimos celebrate the true meaning of Thanksgiving by gathering together with friends and family, wolfing down a huge meal as quickly as possible, and then ditching those friends and family to hide in the bathroom with a laptop.

November 30: By midnight, local time, we will all be the proud owners of 50,000-word novels that we could barely imagine on October 31. Plan to attend your local NaNoWriMo Thank God It's Over Party, where grins will abound, champagne will flow, fives will be highed, and wrists will be iced.

You did it. We all did it.

December 1: Sleep will fall heavily across NaNoLand, as 125,000 writers close the book on one crazy, oversized dream, and go off in search of the next.

We begin very soon, brave writer! I can't wait to get started!


P.S. (From Allie) If you want to sign up for NaNoWriMo, here is the link: http://www.nanowrimo.org/user/register

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Continuing With Detox

When you start to examine your life and begin the detox process, it is almost overwhelming to see how much time is wasted in the day with mindless garbage and how much clutter gets in the way.

My goal for this weekend, scan every article of mine into the computer and throw away the originals. All this paper is piling up and everyone has gone digital anyway.

Follow me on twitter: http://twitter.com/ashbabe1984

Monday, October 13, 2008

For Your Humor

I saw a sign at Islands of Adventure on Saturday in line at the Spiderman ride that absolutely cracked me up!

Midnight deadline! You must turn in either: your final story copy or your resignation. It's your choice. Sincerely, the management.

I was so amused by this it lead me to find some other writer laughs...

Fun jokes about writing:

A writer died and was given the option of going to heaven or hell.

She decided to check out each place first. As the writer descended into the fiery pits, she saw row upon row of writers chained to their desks in a steaming sweatshop. As they worked, they were repeatedly whipped with thorny lashes.

"Oh my," said the writer. "Let me see heaven now."

A few moments later, as she ascended into heaven, she saw rows of writers, chained to their desks in a steaming sweatshop. As they worked, they, too, were whipped with thorny lashes.

"Wait a minute," said the writer. "This is just as bad as hell!"

"Oh no, it's not," replied an unseen voice. "Here, your work gets published."
There was once a young man who, in his youth, professed his desire to become a great writer.

When asked to define great, he said, "I want to write stuff that the whole world will read, stuff that people will react to on a truly emotional level, stuff that will make them scream, cry, howl in pain and anger!"

He now works for Microsoft writing error messages.

A screenwriter comes home to a burned down house. His sobbing and slightly-singed wife is standing outside. “What happened, honey?” the man asks.

“Oh, John, it was terrible,” she weeps. “I was cooking, the phone rang. It was your agent. Because I was on the phone, I didn’t notice the stove was on fire. It went up in second. Everything is gone. I nearly didn’t make it out of the house. Poor Fluffy is--”

“Wait, wait. Back up a minute,” The man says. “My agent called?”

visit: http://www19.homepage.villanova.edu/karyn.hollis/prof_academic/Courses/common_files/jokes_about_writing.htm
for more humor

Time for Detox

If you are anything like me, you have hundreds of emails in your "keep folder", you have thousands of sheets of paper piling up and you have at least 2 voicemails on your phone that are in dyer need of attention a week ago.

I've decided that for me, it is time for a detox program.
I am getting behind on a lot of things and I'm unhappy overall with my current situation. So, about 5 minutes ago I deleted a crap load of emails, many of them without even reading them. This is step one in my detox formula. Throughout the weeks ahead I will keep you guys posted on further detox remedies. Feel free to email me ideas to save time and money.

I subscribe to many blogs but also receive the daily updates via email so I'm basically being sent this info twice which takes too much time.

I also get so much junk mail that it is quite ridiculous, so I just deleted all the contents of my junk folder without glancing at it. If it was that important that it needed my attention, they should have called.

P.S. My new obsession is the book: 4 Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferris. Check out his blog at http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Thank God for tbt*

I'm officially going to be working on the tbt* series "rising star"
I pray that this will get my name out there and move me one step closer to being able to freelance write and take pics full time.

Persistence is key!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Economy is Hurting Everyone!!

My girlfriend just sent me this:

Creative Loafing Publisher Files For Chapter 11 In Tampa

Published: September 29, 2008

TAMPA - Creative Loafing Inc., which publishes an alternative weekly newspaper in Tampa and several other cities, filed today for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, court records in Tampa show.

The company said in its filing that affiliated papers in Sarasota; Charlotte, N.C.; Birmingham, Ala.; and Washington also filed bankruptcy petitions in U.S. federal court in Tampa.

Chapter 11 gives companies time to reorganize finances while they are protected from creditors.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Fate of Newspapers

From Poynter Online:
Analyst: Next 18 months may be "make or break" time for newspapers
Reflections of a Newsosaur
Deutsche Bank's David T. Clark says marketers "are 'flummoxed' by the multitude of media choices they have right now, so there is an opportunity for newspapers to step in and offer a multi-platform �big idea� to major retail advertisers." The analyst adds that it's unclear whether many papers are up to the challenge, "though there appear to be some that are."

No for my two cents:

Can you imagine a life with no newspapers? I can!
The prices just went up to $0.50 for St. Pete Times and Tampa Tribune and even when they were $0.25 I constantly saw papers sitting in the boxes at the end of the day. The only time I really see empty newspaper boxes is Sunday because everyone is after the coupons.

What I can not imagine is no online newspapers. In the digital age we have grown accustomed to, I think the online newspapers will simply get bigger and hopefully better. The biggest complaint for newspapers has been that as they go online no one knows how much to charge or how to measure the value of ad price to readership ratio. Hopefully some genius will solve this math problem soon and then the cycle will continue as journalism gets more and more digital.

The moral of this post is if you ain't good at working them there computers, you best be gettin to a class soon cuz soon that's all they gunna be is computers and televisions. The good news? Radio still ain't goin nowheres :)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Check out this link!

I love the blog Write to Done.
Check this post out:

Thursday, September 4, 2008

What kind of person are you?

First of all, I want to give props to Ashley for putting up such a fantastic (and very true!) post recently. With all we have going on (school, work, family, friends), it's definitely more difficult than ever for us aspiring writers to make ANY progress with our "work," let alone get anything published.

Now that I am holding down a full-time job and have decided (wisely, I think) to give my graduate program at USF a break, I am finding that it is difficult to muster the energy to come home and write after an entire day's work. However, like Ashley mentioned, if you want it bad enough, you will make the time to do so, even if it means having to sacrifice some things for a while.

In my case, I feel like actual progress with my screenplay is long overdue. Just to put this in perspective, I have been mulling the idea of writing a screenplay since high school (!) and still have not truly completed one. There are a million things I can blame this on, but really, it comes down to the fact that I have been too lazy to discipline myself to... just get it done already! As a result, I have been dissatisfied with several aspects of my life for a while (seeing years tick by while your passion project collects dust will do that to you).

But recently, I realized that the very fact that this stagnant state of my startup creative writing career was affecting my mood was a clear indication that writing is what I was meant to do. Besides my journalistic day job, I have come to see that telling stories is not only something that I want to do... it's something I have to do. My disappointment was a testament to that. For years, I have had dozens of stories burst into my head, and not on had fully come to fruition. After all the days spent thinking and analyzing and mulling over story ideas and where to take them, I still could not honestly refer to myself as a creative writer.

That's just the kind of person I am. I don't seek out these creative thoughts (ideas for short stories, screenplays, songs, novels, etc...). They just come to me, and I see now that I am destined (if you could call it that) to transcribe them to the best of my ability and share them with the world. How else do you explain it when your best ideas come when you're not even trying? Like I said, being a writer is my calling. It's who I am.

So... what kind of person are you?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

REMINDER: One week until the 2nd-ever Crooked Table meeting!!!

REMINDER: Up-and-coming writers' blogsite The Crooked Table is hosting its SECOND-EVER meeting on Wednesday, September 10. Like last time, we will meet at Cafe Kili at 7pm to discuss the future of the Table, the logo, everyone's project and more. In addition, we will be having our first critique session so feel free to bring a sample of your work. This could be a short story, a poem or two, a chapter of a novel, a few scenes of a script or even a song. Constructive criticism only so don't be shy!

Cafe Kili closes at 9pm, and then The Crooked Table Crew will move the party over to the University Area Hangout down the road (across from University Mall). Karaoke madness begins at 10pm so be ready for your moment in the spotlight.

If you're unable to make it to the meeting but still want to take part in the after-party (or vice versa), feel free to do so. And as always, please help support the creative-minded goals of the Table by spreading the word! Thanks everyone!

If you have any questions or anything, feel free e-mail me at RobertYaniz1983@aol.com. I hope to see you all at the meeting!


Sunday, August 31, 2008

Wanting It Bad Enough

How bad do you want your dreams to come true?
This was a question asked of me recently and it actually freaked me out. I didn't really know how to answer the question. It made me think about what the question really meant. Here's what I came up with.

Because of what my dreams and goals are...

How bad do you want to be published? If you don't want it bad enough it simply will not happen. Sitting on your ass talking about a book idea, a screenplay or even an article will get you nowhere fast! To make it happen you gotta get your butt in the chair, write it, edit it and shop it. You have to WANT to eat, breathe and sleep it to make it. Don't want it bad enough? Then move on. Half assing anything is not worth it.

How bad do you want to be known? Once the book is written and edited you have to market the crap out of it! There is no excuse to not turn yourself into a brand that you are trying to advertise! Steven King is a brand, Danielle Steele is a brand, JK Rowling is a brand and without a successful marketing plan, they never would have gotten to be household names!

How bad do you want to retire/be financially independent? You have to decide now how much you need to retire or to be financially independent and then set all tracks towards that goal. Just like everything else though, if you don't eat, breathe and sleep it, it's over.

In case you haven't figured it out :) My goals are to be well known, get books published and be financially independent. If I don't want it bad enough I know it's not going to happen. Other people telling me to make it happen won't help! I have to pump myself up and make it happen.

So, figure out what you want and decide if you want it bad enough to make your desires come to fruition!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

VIDEO: R.I.P. Bernie Mac!

If you haven't heard yet, comedian Bernie Mac passed away today at the age of 50 after a battle with pneumonia. I can't say that I really followed his work super-closely, but I always found him hilarious as hell in the things I have seen him in. Regardless, this is a ridiculous tragedy, as the man was very talented, charismatic and just way too young to have his life cut short. However, he has left plenty of material to enjoy, including the below clip from Chris Rock's 2003 comedy Head of State. Rest in peace, Bernie Mac. You will be missed...

BREAKING NEWS: The SECOND-EVER Crooked Table Meeting!!!

At last, the announcement you've all been waiting for... Up-and-coming writers' blogsite The Crooked Table is hosting its SECOND-EVER meeting on Wednesday, September 10. Like last time, we will meet at Cafe Kili at 7pm to discuss the future of the Table, the logo, everyone's project and more.

In addition, we will be having our first critique session so feel free to bring a sample of your work. This could be a short story, a poem or two, a chapter of a novel, a few scenes of a script or even a song. Constructive criticism only so don't be shy!

Cafe Kili closes at 9pm, and then The Crooked Table Crew will move the party over to the University Area Hangout down the road (across from University Mall). Karaoke madness begins at 10pm so be ready for your moment in the spotlight.

If you're unable to make it to the meeting but still want to take part in the after-party (or vice versa), feel free to do so. And as always, please help support the creative-minded goals of the Table by spreading the word! Thanks everyone!

If you have any questions or anything, feel free e-mail me at RobertYaniz1983@aol.com. I hope to see you all at the meeting!


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Want to participate in (OR judge) a writing contest?

Hey fellow Tablers,

Any of you that are even remotely involved in The Crooked Table know how important I think it is for writers to stick together. Well, in keeping with that theme, I wanted to share something pretty cool with you all.

The Tampa Writers Alliance (tampawriters.org) is hosting its annual writing contest this fall and is currently accepting submissions. It covers a number of different types of writing, and though the prize in not extraordinary, it's really more about getting your work out there. Besides, doesn't the phrase "award-winning writer" have a nice ring to it... ;) For all the details, see tampawriters.org/contest.htm.

Also, I have been recruited by TWA's president Michael Darling (who reached out to me through the Business Journal) to serve as a judge in the contest. I mentioned that I know a helluva lot of talented writers, and he seemed very enthusiastic when I mentioned I would help spread the word to other potential judges with a passion for writing. All that's required is to devote a single Saturday in November to reviewing the submissions, and all judges receive free admission to the awards banquet in January. For those of you looking to give back something to other aspiring writers or even looking to network with others in the industry, this could be your chance...

Anyway, I've done my part for today... Let me know if you are interested in either entering the contest or becoming a judge, and I'll help facilitate the contact between you and Mr. Darling.

Thanks for reading as always, and stay tuned to a new Table post from yours truly within the next few days!

Happy writing, everyone!

Rob...signing out...

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Partial Book Review Part 1: Character

Recently my family and I went on vacation to the beach. It was one of those rare weeks where I could actually sit down with a book and read more than two sentences in a row. The book I chose was Novel Voices: 17 Award Winning Novelists on How to Write, Edit and Get Published, edited by Jennifer Levasseur and Kevin Rabalais. Now, as I said, I was able to read more than a few sentences at a time, but I wasn't able to read more than a few pages. So I only got about half way through. Even though I haven't finished it I've really enjoyed it.

The thing that is great about this book is that several different authors--from different genres--are interviewed, giving their opinions on the writing, editing and publishing process. Its great because a lot of the trials they face are things that I have problems with too. One of my favorite interviews so far is with Richard Bausch (I will admit I have never read any of his work). According to his bio, he has written a substantial volume of short stories and novels. I wanted to share a couple of things he said that really struck me.

One of the things he talked a lot about was character driven stories. He "...takes characters whom he loves and visits troubles upon them." I loved that. Maybe a little too much. There is something sadistic about being a writer, you know? We make up these worlds and these people and then wreak havoc on them. But the conflict and the character development that results is what makes the story. Bausch says, "Fiction is about trouble. I make up characters who are decent or who are trying to be decent, and I add trouble. The more the better."

Another author, Charles Baxter, said this of character and conflict: "I see it in relation to a Parker Brothers board game from my childhood called Careers. In that game, you had to get sixty points, and you had to decide ahead of time what you wanted and in what proportion. The points could be in fame, money, or love. You could go broke and say, 'All I want is sixty points in love.' The first person to get sixty points in the proportion he or she asks for wins. If you say at the beginning that you want sixty points in love and you get sixty points in fame, you don't win because you got something you didn't want. This is a pretty good metaphor not only for life, but for narrative, as well...characters are often in a state of lifelong dramatic irony."

Carrie Brown had this to say about character: "Empathy is, for me, [the] route to understanding and creating character. I don't necessarily like a character, but I have to know him; I know what it feels to be like him." In the same way, Andre Dubus said, "I try to see the characters, to know some of their history. I think about characters for a long time rather than just starting the story and seeing what they do. I like to feel that I can get inside of a character. I used to tell students to write sketches. I told them to know if their character prefers a bath or a shower."

I'll admit, character has been a weak point for me. I'm alright at creating worlds, vivid details, exciting story lines and action. But when it comes to emotional development I'm, well...stunted. This advice (there was obviously a lot more in the book) has already helped me become better at writing more realistic characters. Hope some of this inspires you guys to get to your computer or notebook and start writing!!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Monday, July 7, 2008

My Writing and My A.D.D.

I’ve been stuck in a rut of A.D.D. with my writing lately. Nothing I have been meaning to do has actually been done. I’ll sit down to write and next thing I know I’m checking my email or watching Law & Order. Sure, I’m being entertained, but I’m accomplishing NOTHING.

Ugh, how can I get done what I need to do?

I found this link on procrastination and I thought you all would appreciate it:

The piece on procrastination is really long and it's more based on writing assignments than on personal writing goals, but I think it has a lot of helpful information.

The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.—Mary Heaton Vorse

Friday, July 4, 2008

One Week Till the First-Ever Crooked Table Meeting!!!

For those of you who haven't already been invited to the FIRST-EVER meeting of The Crooked Table via MySpace or Facebook (and really, who doesn't have one or both of those by now... :P), allow me to share the big news.

After months and months of deliberation, The Crooked Table is hosting its first official meeting next Friday, July 11, at 6:30 pm at Cafe Kili on Fowler Ave. This'll be a great opportunity to meet some of your fellow Tablers and actively participate in the continuing growth of everyone's favorite writers' blog site. We'll be discussing the future of the Table, and some of the plans we've already developed...

If you have any questions or need any additional information, please send me a message at robertyaniz1983@gmail.com.

Hope to see you all at the meeting!!!


P.S. Happy Independence Day everybody!!! :)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

I write because...

This summer I got a job as a camp counselor at Duke University. The minute that I found out that I could further delay moving back to Tampa my interest was sparked. When I learned that the job package included a free place to stay, meals, and a gym membership the spark grew into a flame. The flame grew into a wildfire when I found out I would be working with the Young Writer's Camp. Well, camp began this week, and I attended the morning gathering of all the writers where they do random writing exercises (good practice for any writer whether young or old). The topic on Monday was "I write because..." We were given 5 minutes to illustrate why we are writers.
Below is my list:
-I write because the words take up too much space in my brain, and when my thumb and forefinger caress the pen my thoughts spread out in blue, black, or purple ink.
-Because no one else could properly tell my life story.
-Because I didn't want you to see my tears, so I let the ink cry for me.
-Because a camera doesn't adequately depict what these thousand words can.
-Because the paper and pen won't judge me.
-Because I want to attain my own level of greatness.
-Because my journal doesn't ever tell me I'm too emotional.
-Because I like to know what I did on this day last year.
-Because everyday whether beautiful or ugly, rainy or sunny is an inspiration.
-Because it's cheaper than going to therapy.
-Because it gives me a reason to chill at Starbucks solo.
-Because words force themselves out when music provides the soundtrack.
-Because the person who loves me will want to read everything I ever wrote it because I wrote it.

Why do you write?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Summer Fun?

Noah, my three year old son, had been out of preschool for about two weeks now. In that span of time, I have written maybe ten pages. The problem is that I am constantly interrupted. Every time I get "in the groove" my son either gets into something he's not supposed to or needs my help with something.

If it isn't one of those two things, then he climbs up in my lap, puts his head between me and the computer and says, "Mommy, I need to talk to you!" I usually respond by asking what he needs to talk to me about. His reply goes something like this, "Umm, a lizard."

Before I go any further, let me say that I love my son dearly and do enjoy playing with him. I try to spend my mornings doing activities with him, taking him outside, playing games, etc. But in the afternoon, I try really hard to write. It just never seems to happen and it is driving me crazy. The only time I have to write is after Noah goes to bed at 9 p.m., and my brain is usually mush by that time.

I guess it all boils down to discipline. If I really want to write, I'm going to have to suck it up and force myself to write after Noah goes to bed. Balancing my writing with my duties as a Mom is really difficult, especially when I haven't finished my project yet and have nothing to really show my husband to prove that the time I want to spend writing is worthwhile.

I suppose that most writers who aren't able to support themselves just from their writing have to deal with the same lack of time that I do, since they have to hold down a job to pay the bills. But I think the thing that frustrates me the most is that I am at home all day. The computer is right there. And my son seems to be perfectly content to play on his own and entertain himself UNTIL I sit down at the computer.

Now I can understand why parents eagerly await the approach of the school year in August!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The End of an Error

On Monday at 430 it was determined I would no longer be Editor in Chief at Focus Magazine. My boss and I realized that the position is just not right for me at this time.

I'm going to hit the ground running and try to get as much freelance work as possible.

I knew from the beginning this was too much of a job for me. However, I knew that if I didn't take it I would regret it and wonder "what-if?" for the rest of my life. So, I took it fearing the worst but praying for the best.

I got a lot of experience very rapidly and plan to use this to make my freelance career better than it could have ever been if I had not been Editor for these last 90 days.

To some it would seem like my taking this position in the first place was an error. To me, it was still an oppurtunity for experience I couldn't have gotten any other way!

Who knows if I'll ever end up an editor again. I do know now I'll never say never again. LoL! So you see the oddity in that phrase? Until the chance to be one or to be something else comes, please wish me happy hunting =)

Saturday, May 31, 2008

One Man Banding and Pen Names

With blogging, writing an article or any writing it's one subject at a time, but since I think writing is all about breaking the rules I'm going to write about two subjects in one post!

GASP! Did she say two subjects? 

Yes, I did- and what of it? Just read...

Lately I have been hearing and talking about One Man Banding and Pen Names a lot.  It would seem that more and more places are requiring these two things to actually make it as a freelancer.

One Man Banding- the magazine I work for requires it.  Just yesterday Jenn, who is now one of my writers (thanks Robert), asked me if we would pay people to take pictures for the articles she writes.  Unfortunately, due to the policy at Focus we can't pay freelance photographers.  We require that our writers take their own pictures (or have someone take them with no pay), write their own copy, check for errors and then submit for proofing.  

It got me to thinking about how as a freelancer you have to be your own One Man Band because no one else can help you, especially with community based publications.  Now, I don't know how the big national glossies handle these things, but I do know that as beginning writers we're highly unlikely to get the chance to find out.  So, we must find local work and do everything ourselves.

On one hand, this really sucks! On the other, it's wonderful!  We gain so much more experience than "just a writer" would and become more of an asset to any company we may choose to take on full time employment with.

How can we get better at taking our own pictures?
What I did was I just bought a digital camera and began shooting.  I took 50 shots where a seasoned photo man/woman may have only needed one.  I took dozens of angles, put my subjects in the sunlight, pulled them indoors, put them under fluorescent lamps, and shot until I thought one gem might emerge.

Since doing this there has only been one time where every photo I took was thrown out and it's because the day we chose to do the shoot was really cloudy and I made the mistake of shooting my subject with the sun behind her. * Tip* Always make sure the sun is shining on your subject otherwise shadows are created*

Another thing I would recommend is when you get your digital camera (gotta go digital because it is cheaper for a rookie- trust me! you don't want to develop hundreds of shots that you wont use) you read the book that comes with it- believe it or not they sometimes offer websites that direct you on how to play with it.  Good fun!  

Or just google "be a better photographer."  It's unbelievable how much FREE info there is to help us.

NOW- onto Pen Names.  If you are anything like me, you work for a company that requires you to be exclusive.  By exclusive I mean not working for competitors.  Although I'm not under contract, I am expected to write for just Focus and no one else.

Hello!!!  As freelancers you can't make it on one magazine alone.  If you expect to freelance full-time, you simply can't wait around for checks from one place.  Pen Names are a beautiful thing!!! No one will ever know it's you =) Sure, on the tax forms you're required to give your legal name, but there is no rule that you can't use a pen name.

If you're lucky enough to have a common last name like Smith you could even get away with a first initial and last name.  Ex : Jon Smith= J. Smith.  I had a girl do that.  Sure I knew, but it was a don't ask, and I won't tell situation!

Don't be afraid to ask to use Pen Names.

Heck, I have heard of people with several.  I heard of one chick who was working for like 3 or 4 places so she had one name for each mag.  The checks all came to one name and nobody was the wiser.

If nothing else- try not to sign the damn exclusivity contract!!!

Friday, May 30, 2008

So....I pulled my chair away from The Table for a bit

And look at all that's happened here!


And in all honesty, if it weren't for a couple of members here, I'd still be miserably seeking out freelance work to no avail.

Thank you Robert and Ashley!

So....since this new work has given me an excuse to pull away from my mall job (Yeah, yeah....I know!) I couldn't be more happy.

My plan tonight was to write about networking and how important it is.

I see it's been done which is awesome and Ashley, your story is very inspiring to me.

To add to that post, part of networking (and freelance writing in general) is confidence.

I'd even go as far as saying that without it, you'll get nowhere.

I've lived and I've learned.

The past few months have been truly amazing for me in all aspects of my life.

I had a little help from books and influences in my life but in all actuality I was able to find the confidence in me....well...by me!

When it comes to writing, and life in general, we often are so clouded by the challenges and issues we face when it comes to pursuing our goals that we don't ever realize that the answer is almost always in the room.

We look to outside influences so often when internalizing is really the first step we should have taken. Think about things. Make decisions. Figure out what you want. Figure out how much you're worth. Are you worth more than 5 cents per word? Are you worth more than that internship that's not paying you?

Granted, often times as young writers (fresh ON the market, if you will) we'll take anything that's thrown our way.

I had many a short story published with no pay just to get my name out there.

I'll even admit to being AFRAID to go for ones that did pay because well, I thought I just wasn't good enough.

Not good enough???

Most writers send out 10 submissions and get denied 9 times.

My very first published short story was the first submission I ever had the courage to send in to an editor and THAT is a serious accomplishment.

And speaking of accomplishments, often times we don't take the time to recognize what we HAVE done with our writing. We'll look towards where we want to be and mope because we're not there yet. Or maybe we want to get paid....or maybe we want to get paid more. Well, how about what we HAVE done?

Looking at my list of things I've done with writing over the past two years, I came to the conclusion that I've made huge leaps in the right directions and am now being recognized and offered even more freelance work for the work I've already done.

That's a beautiful thing and something to give yourself a pat on the back for instead of thinking "Yeah, now if only someone will fill me in on how to sell my fiction?" lol I saw a post down below about that. If ANYONE finds any info....please pass it along. ;) (I've been told many a time that agents or self publishing are really the way to go with that unfortunately.)

So, back to confidence.

It's key.

Seriously. In EVERYTHING.

We're salespeople. We sell ourselves as writers and we sell the thing we're most passionate about. That's a tough thing sometimes. We pour our hearts and souls onto pages and sometimes, hey, someone will reject it, say it's not good enough, or even rip it apart.

Ya gotta let it go.

Don't take it personally. SOMEONE will like it or feel that it's fit for their publication. You just have to be patient and work. A lot of people claim to be writers but they're never "in their offices", ya know?

They're not WORKING.

It's not just about writing, it's about getting it out there.

The editors will not come to you! (Ok...well...sometimes...but usually not if you don't have anything out there first!)

Developing a good web presence is another tip a published author gave me. He said that agents are very web savvy these days and that a lot of times they're picking up bloggers and freelancers that way.

So, give it a go.

I'd say our little Table here is a step in the right direction.

But above all, we have to know we're worth it and know that we deserve the jobs we want.

Without that we have nothing!

So believe it.

You'll achieve it.

And the editors will believe it too.


P.S.- A Table meeting needs to happen in the near future for sure!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Big-time, Here I Come!

Ok, maybe the title of this post is a bit exaggerated, but the truth of the matter is that my writing "career" just had a monumental boost. As some of you know, I have been doing an editorial internship at the Tampa Bay Business Journal (http://tampabay.bizjournals.com/tampabay/) since November. As you can imagine, I've done several stories for them in the months since I started. Just as I was preparing to complete my internship and jump back into the depressing job market scene, something happened, something that I personally was never expecting. Thursday morning (about a half hour into my shift), I was called in to see my editor Alexis, and he told me that the company was hiring me as its new editorial assistant!!!

Now, to be fair, let me explain that this wasn't a total surprise. In fact, the moment I found out via e-mail that my predecessor had left the company, I marched into Alexis' office and declared my interest in the position. Since then, we'd discussed it a few times but nothing concrete had come from it. In the meantime, I convinced myself that there was no chance I would get it. After all, I had little to no business writing experience when I started, and I didn't think they would take a chance on me. Although I knew I had been doing good work for them, I was definitely still developing as a business journalist. Now I realize that much of my worry was completely self-fabricated and was probably just a way for me to prepare myself for the disappointment of having to hit job search mode once again.

I guess it just goes to show you that sometimes gambles DO pay off. Well, that and the tenacity to jump on an opportunity when one falls in your lap (haha...). I started this internship with no guarantees, except a great resume booster, and ended up with a salaried, full-time writing gig. Although I'll now have to rearrange my schedule and perhaps drop one or two of my ancillary writing gigs, I can now say that I am a full-time writer and finally have the professional stability that I have never had.* Believe it or not, this will be my very first full-time job. I can't wait to get started!

So take this as a lesson, fellow writers. Although it may be a long, torturous road at times, keep on writing and good things will happen for you. Just be open to new opportunities, stay positive and hang in there!!!


*FYI: I've already begun scheming how I can fit screenwriting into my schedule. Just in case you were wondering... ;)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

11 Tips for Better Blogging

Attention bloggers!!! I came across the following list of how to improve your blogging style in (of all places) a textbook for my Multimedia Journalism course. I think they're pretty solid, and I plan on adhering more closely to these tips this summer. Check 'em out... and let me know what you think! :)  


1. A blog entry is a stub (or starter) for conversation.

2. Think about the perspectives of your audience.

3. Write tight headlines that encourage interest.

4. Make points or lists and make them scan-friendly.

5. Link to the context.

6. Quote indirectly and link.

7. Format long documents for print.

8. Never delete anything.

9. Troll the blogosphere for secondary conversation.

10. Be active in your own conversation.

11. Create buzz everywhere.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Making a Name for Yourself in the World of Fiction.

I am on the verge of having a new-found chance to try my hand at professional writing (http://apprenticewordsmith.blogspot.com/) and was looking for a bit of advice from The Table. I want to write fiction--fantsay novels, to be exact--and I'm not quite sure where to begin. Obviously, I need to finish my novel--a work currently in progress--and get it all polished up. But then what?

The general conscensus is that sending an enormous, unsolicited manuscript to a publisher is not a very good idea. But I have heard that one way to make a name for yourself in the genre of fantasy is to write short stories for magazines and contests. I'm willing to give that a shot. Heck, I'd be willing to write for Better Homes and Gardens, though I doubt the would hire me if they saw my house. But short stories are not my strong point. Long-winded, never ending ones are (and there in lies another deeply rooted problem).

Another approach I've heard is to get an agent. But I wouldn't have the slightest idea as to where to find a good one or how much money would go into that sort of thing. I am a substitute teacher, for crying out loud. I don't exactly have an infinite bank account.

Any ideas out there in the blogosphere?

Friday, March 21, 2008

Networking=Editor in Chief

So, networking is more important than I realized! I always knew that to succeed in the writing world I had to play the game of "who you know". Never in a million years would I have guessed that it would lead me to a position that some people only dare dream of.

I am the type of person that goes to community events to hunt for magazines and newspapers covering events. Usually I'll find some contacts, get some business cards and then try to write for a new mag.

While interning for Style Magazine in Tampa I networked A LOT! I would volunteer to cover events just to get a contact. A co-worker of mine from Style was about to leave the magazine, but being the contact maker chick that I am I got all of her information before she left.

Needless to say she started working for another magazine, Focus. I jumped at the chance to get more information to possibly get more articles. I got the name of the editor in chief and wrote to her directly saying I knew the new account manager and that I was eager to write.

I was given a probation article and then after that I became a “stringer”. I started writing for the E Pasco and New Tampa editions and was always trying to learn more and get inside the head of the editor.

A few weeks ago I got a call from the publisher saying that the editor gave her two weeks notice. Based on my drive, eagerness to learn and all that jazz the editor recommended me to be her successor.

If you had told me last month at this time that I would be editor in chief of a magazine I probably would not have believed it. However, thanks to networking and building a contact base, here I am in the position of a lifetime.

Networking is so important! Don’t ever leave an event without a contact. Who knows, maybe you’ll end up an editor too!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Anyone want to write for Focus magazine?

My friend Ashley Grant (who is actually a contributor on this very blog site) is looking for some writers to cover various local events and stories in Plant City, Lakeland, and Brandon. If any of you are looking to gain some clips, this could be a great opportunity to get some published work in an up-and-coming local magazine. Ashley really needs writers right now; if any of you are at all interested in earning some published journalism experience, don't hesitate to contact me at RobertYaniz1983@gmail.com or contact Ashley directly at ashleygrant2468@gmail.com.

Thanks in advance...


Saturday, March 15, 2008

Just a little venting.

I was really excited when I finished my first draft of the novel I'm working on. Now, a few months and hours upon hours of editing later, I'm struggling to keep up with the edits. There are sooooo many things to fix that I'm feeling overwhelmed. I've been trying to just plug away and get as much done as I can each day (which sometimes means only a couple of paragraphs since my three year old doesn't enjoy being ignored). It seems like it will be years before this book is even ready to be read by my friends, much less by a publisher or an agent.

Thre is so much I want to do with this book. I'm a big nerd, so when I create a world, I want it to be as complete as I can make it; with maps and kingdoms and lines of trade and languages and customs and...well, you get the picture. So far as the actual draft goes, though, I haven't been able to include many of those elements--the details that enrich the story--because I'm still trying to hammer and smooth out the basic scenes for the plot. Right now, it still looks so much like a skeleton of a story to me.

Have any of you guys been here before? Any advice?

My gut tells me to just keep working at it, as painfully slow as the process seems to go. Eventually (about 80 years from now) I will finish it. I guess I'm just feeling a little...bogged down with everything I still have left to do.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

One Guy's Choices on the Best Scripts of the Last Decade

Hola fellow creatives!

I've been sitting on a few post ideas for the last couple weeks, for a couple reasons. First, I wanted to give any visitors to the site the chance to read my 7 of 2007 post (thanks to those of you who commented, by the way), and secondly, I've been really busy on all fronts for the last couple of weeks. Since I am currently on spring break and have a moment to catch my breath, I wanted to officially re-enter the Table.

I found this link: http://dementeddoorknob.blogspot.com/2008/02/10-years-10-great-screenplays.html a couple weeks ago. This blogger basically does a rundown on what he feels are the 10 greatest screenplays of the last decade, one for each year. I actually agree with several of his choices (Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang is highly underrated, in my opinion). Although I haven't seen the 2006 selection, I agree with many of the comments that Stranger than Fiction should have been on there (LOVE that film!). Check out the link above for the rest of the selections...

P.S. Most of you will be thrilled with the 2007 selection. Trust me...

Rob out...

Sunday, February 24, 2008

My 7 Favorite Films of 2007

Okay, it's time for a not-so-shocking confession: I'm BIG on movies. What a surprise, right? Haha... Anyway, movies have always been a big part of my life. I guess you can say they inspire me, even to the point where I'm trying to write my own. Anyway, I thought I might share a list of my favorite films, and although this is not exclusively writing-related (although writing is clearly a fundamental part of any film, as the current writers' strike is making abundantly clear), I felt that you all might be somewhat interested to check out my picks.... and if not.... well, it's my blog, and I'll do what I damn well please...thankyouverymuch. ;)

I saw a bit over 50 movies in 2007, and while that's not nearly as much as most critics, I feel like I have a good grasp on the year in films. However, I have yet to see several of the year's most-touted movies, such as Michael Clayton, Gone Baby Gone, and The Bourne Ultimatum, so the list is by no means complete. All I'm saying is that these are my favorites of the ones I've seen.
Also, just to put my eclectic cinematic taste in perspective, here's a peek at my Top 6 of 2006 list (in order): 6) Blood Diamond, 5) Dreamgirls, 4) V for Vendetta, 3) Pan's Labyrinth, 2) Stranger than Fiction, 1) The Departed

So, without further delay, here's this year's model, my top 7 of 2007:

7. Hot Fuzz

From the director, writers, and stars of Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz is a parody of American action films, but unlike recent spoofs like Meet the Spartans and Scary Movie 4, the film is more than a mishmash of skits. Rather, the story follows big city policeman Nick Angel (Simon Pegg) as he is located to a small village where nothing is as it seems. Hot Fuzz takes a while to build, but it's totally worth it, as every single moment is paid off later in the film. Hilarious!

6. Knocked Up

Like pretty much every guy my age, I absolutely LOVE The 40-Year-Old Virgin. So as soon as I found out that writer/director Judd Apatow was releasing Knocked Up, I couldn't wait to see it. A mismatch between career girl Alison (Katherine Heigl) and slacker Ben (Apatow regular Seth Rogen) is prime material for laughs, but as usual, Apatow manages to extract an equal amount of heart from his characters, making some sweet observations about love, marriage, and parenthood along the way. Although I still prefer Apatow's earlier work, his films tend to get better on repeat viewings. So, in time, I'll probably come to love Knocked Up even more.

5. 1408
Films based on Stephen King stories are a decidely mixed bag. For every classic, such as Misery and It, there's a clunker like Dreamcatcher. 1408 is definitely the former. The film - which feels very much in the vein of The Shining - features an outstanding performance by John Cusack as writer Mike Enslin. Working on his latest book about "haunted" hotels, he checks into the Dolphin Hotel's cursed 1408...and let's just say, he gets WAY more than he bargains for. Rather than copping out with cheap scares or outlandish gore, the film - and the room itself - delves into Enslin's tortured past, using his psychological demons against him. Brilliant - and highly underrated thriller that will definitely stick with you!

4. Atonement
An old-fashioned romantic tragedy, Atonement has more in common with films like Casablanca and Titanic than any recent releases. Robbie (James McAvoy) and Cecilia (Keira Knightley) fall in love despite differing backgrounds, but a terrible lie from the lips of Cecilia's own sister, Briony (Saoirse Ronan) threatens to tear them apart. While the story is not wholly original, it is told in such a masterful way - with fabulous performances all around and a truly mesmerizing Academy Award-winning musical score - that it's hard not to get swept up in the film. Besides, it features the most unexpected and haunting endings of any film in recent memory.

3. Ratatouille
Okay, a rat wants to be a chef. Whoa, hold up. A rat wants to be a chef?!? Ratatouille - from the writer/director of Pixar's equally brilliant The Incredibles - takes that somewhat ridiculous premise and totally runs with it. Paris sewer rat Remy teams with the bumbling Linguini to become the city's culinary genius, and this Oscar winner for Best Animated Feature romanticizes both the City of Lights and its cuisine. The rollicking score by Michael Giacchino and the movie's heartwarming message about being true to yourself help Pixar add another entry to their growing oeuvre of animated masterpieces.

2. Grindhouse
Some of you may question why I placed Grindhouse, directors Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez's ode to the exploitation double features of the 1970s, so high on this list. Well, aside from being a monster fan of both filmmakers (they're among my favorite directors), the theatrical experience of viewing this melange of Rodriguez's zombie flick Planet Terror and Tarantino's Death Proof, intercut with faux-trailers from Eli Roth (Hostel), Edgar Wright (#7, Hot Fuzz), and Rob Zombie (the Halloween remake) was an absolute blast, and really, that's all it's supposed to be. It's not high art, but it's definitely a damn good time...

1. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Director Tim Burton and Johnny Depp team up for their sixth collaboration in this adaptation of the 1979 Stephen Sondheim musical. While the prospect of Burton and Depp re-teaming is sure to incite high expectations, the film is far better than I had anticipated. The music is memorable, the eerie, ghostly Oscar-winning art direction is outstanding, and the supporting cast (including Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, and Borat...er, Sacha Baron Cohen) is incredibly effective. A former barber who returns to London to seek revenge against the man who ruined his life, Sweeney Todd himself a complex and fascinating anti-hero, and the film's intricate blend of horror, tragedy, and dark comedy is like nothing I've ever seen. Sweeney Todd is both badass and heart-breaking, ingenious... and twisted. In other words, classic Tim Burton!

Honorable Mentions: The Simpsons Movie, Zodiac, Enchanted, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, Beowulf, Superbad, Once

So, what do you guys think? Are my choices way off-base? Did I miss one of your fave flicks of last year? Hit me up in the comments. Thanks!


Sunday, February 17, 2008

Writers Put Down The Strike Signs And Pick Up The Pencil

Hello fellow writers, I'm Freddy Yaniz, Robert's brother. After months of constant nagging and persistance, I have finally decided to post a message on The Crooked Table. In doing so, I've decided to write about the lastest piece of news in writing history: The Writer's Strike. I'm sure you've all heard about it, since it's such a big deal. The consequences to the Writer's Strike were disastrous. Television shows and movies were stopped in their tracks and were not progressing until the writers got what they deserved. Some people may ask how the writer's strike started. Well, for you people who have been stuck in a hole somewhere, I'll tell you.
The writer's strike started when the Writers Guild of America woke up one morning and decided that they weren't being treated the way they should be. In result of this sudden thought, more than 12,ooo television and movie writers, who are in legal contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, had been forced to go out on strike on November 5, 2007.

After about three months of strike and holding up signs, the writers finally got the money they deserved from the studios. The sooner the strike ended, the better for everyone because the last strike ended up being five months. Not only were television and movie viewers disappointed, but it cost the entertainment industry an estimated 500 million dollars. If it was less than three months, viewers would have had the Golden Globes with actors presenting awards, writers would have gotten their money sooner, and the studios wouldn't have had to look like such cheap bastards.

So, what will be the after-effects of the writer's strike? Well, some television shows are either ending shorter this year, not airing at all until next year, or even being considered for cancellation. So, as I said, everything would've been better if the strike ended sooner. Better late than never (or much later), so I'm going to enjoy the fact that they're writing at all. Thank you television and movie writers for picking up your pencils; it's been hell without you.

June 30: SAG-AFTRA contract expires
July 31: DGA contract expires

Writer's Strike Timelines:

Picture Timeline:

Regular Timeline:

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

V Day Boycott

Keeping up with my annual tradition I am once again boycotting V Day this year. Why, oh why? How much do I hate this dude, Valentine? Let me count the ways:
People should try to be nice and even romantic without a special date attached to it. Granted, reserving one day a year for this occasion may increase everyone's chance to eat more chocolate or get some flowers which will be dead within three days. But tell me something, what exactly is the point of this stupid behavior? Ahhhhh, someone made up this day to give people yet another reason to spend some hard earned cash on things no one really needs. Smart move. Wanna jump on the commercialized band wagon? Be my guest!
The other side of the coin, however, is that some people may expect to get something--just because it is V Day--and then end up disappointed because no one thought of them, or the date for that matter. Poor schmucks.
Have you ever worked in sales? No? Well, imagine this: every nocive learns in Sales 101 that V Day is THE biggest sales occasion of the year, right before or after Xmas (depending on where you stand.). The Easter Bunny turns green with envy!!!

On a more personal note, I have to admit that V day has ALWAYS sucked for me. Something bad always happened right around that day. It's cursed, if you ask me.

So, Valentine, you better run, because your ass is mine!!!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Artists Should Support Other Artists

So give this cd a try:

Paul J. Watkins
By: Jennifer Neal

Rarely does a cd come across your path that’s just too unique to put into any one category. However, Paul J. Watkins’ fourth recorded album Drive has placed itself ever so gracefully into that bin. With lyrics written by Watkins himself and music by Mark J. Dye this cd is for poetry and spoken word lovers everywhere.

The music behind Watkins’ words of truth and “a mission” is the most eclectic mix ever placed onto one cd. Some tracks give you an old school metal vibe while others remind you of the old school punk days. Then Watkins’ throws a jazzy track or two in and you’re set to have your friends ask you “What the hell is this man?”

And what it is is in the eye of the artist. “I’ve never been one of the crowd/God as my witness I won’t start now,” croons Paul on the album’s second track “On a Mission.” And by this cd listeners can tell. The lyrics are cutthroat, raw, and laced with emotion that some of us can only begin to understand.

So if you’re down for something new and different (and change is always good!) definitely give this album a listen. Behind the madness there is a message and if you’re awake enough to understand it, then it’s for you. And if not, then “stay cool with your drool” as Paul J. Watkins would say.

You can learn more about Paul and Drive by checking out www.cdbaby.com/cd/pauljwatkins

Unasked-Advice to New Writers About Money

When reading another blog (http://aphotoeditor.com/) that I often check in on, I found this link about advice for writers. It relates to running a freelance photography career also, which I do. But since you guys are the writers and I want each and every one of you to be successful at it, I felt compelled to send along this link:


On his blog, writer John Scalzi, gives career and financial advice on how to be successful. I recommend checking it out!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Interesting Links

I thought I'd post a few links in case anyone is interested in the magazine world of writing or a discussion about business skills needed by journalism students.

There appears to be a Tampa chapter too for the Ed2010 blog.


I didn't spend too much time on the site, but it looked as if the advice page had some interesting posts.

Also, here is the link to MediaShift, a blog I check daily, if not hourly. Mark Glaser, the host, has written a post about business skills needed by journalism students.


Just a FYI.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Today my Grandma took charge of my two year old, Noah, to let me have the afternoon to write. So I went to Pita's, got a chicken melt and opened up the laptop. About an hour and half later I stopped typing and realized I had just finished my first draft. I had actually written the last chapter during a writing class in my last semester at USF so today, when I finished the *second* to last chapter, it took me a second to realize I had just completed the draft.

I am still a little bit in shock. Excited, but still in shock.

There's a lot of work left to be done. A LOOOOT. However, as this is the very first draft I have ever completed I am still feeling very accomplished at the moment. We'll see how I feel in six months when I'm still wading through cut scenes and sloppy sentences. :)

I posted this on my blog

It's my Top 10 Myspace Bloggers list.


There are a lot of amazing writers on Myspace so I figured I'd let you all know who my ten faves are!

Happy reading!

First time poster, long time member!

I was going to do the survey, but it wouldn't let me copy and paste.

Therefore you get my thoughts off the top of the dome.

I always loved language. When I was little I felt as though the ability to read and write was this big secret that was being kept from me. All I wanted to do was be let in on the secret. I would stare at pages and pretend I could read until I actually could. After I got reading down pat I began to write.

It started off as something I was good at, but it grew into a love. I keep two journals. One is just day-to-day thoughts and emotions and the other one is my spiritual journal. I don't neccessarily have a ritual wiht my writing, but I like to write in mypersonal journal either in my room or at a bookstore. I like being an island in a sea of people. I think that's where I get the best self relflection. As far as my spiritual journal I like to be in my room by myself or at Bible study or church taking notes.

I used to think that my purpose for this gift was to write for Vibe and live in the City in a Brownstone and lead this somewhat superficial existence. As I mature and grow I feel like I'm supposed to be doing something else with this gift. I just don't know what.

Friday, January 18, 2008

It's a great feeling.

Back in November, I participated in NaNoWriMo, a one month long writing challenge in which we were all trying to write 50,000 words. Besides reaching that goal, and having 50,000 more words towards my novel, I came away with something that has changed my writing: Discipline.

I'm not talking about discipline in the sense of forcing myself to sit down and write each day. I'm talking about having the discipline to push forward--to keep writing--and to leave what I've already written alone. My biggest problem before the contest was that i kept going back to what I had already written, deciding it was crap and starting over. I've been writing the same book for about two years now and have started over four times.

Now, its a different story. I'm approaching the end of my first draft, which amazes me. I have maybe six more chapters or so to write. Granted, the draft is a terrible mess. I have a point of view change about a third of the way into the story, I have characters who change personalities half way through, sub-plots that were either suddenly abandoned or started without set up. And of course there is the overal suckiness of my descriptions and sentences. But all of that is stuff I can fix and polish. I'm one of those freaks who actually enjoys the revision process (which is probably why I kept getting into trouble before) so I am really looking forward to finishing this draft. I've been averaging a chapter every couple of days so I'm hoping to have my first draft done before summer.

I know this is basic to a lot of you guys, but to me it has been a break through!

I'm also learning to let go of my rigid outline form of writing. I used to write out every scene--who would be there, what would happen, what I wanted to accomplish--before I even started going into the scene. Now I am just sitting down at the computer and going forward with the characters, thinking: how would they react to what just happened? And when they intereact with other characters, I try to imagine on the spot what would happen from both sides of the characters. Its really given me a new source of freedom and inspiration.

So that is what I ahve to report lately. Hope you guys are doing great!!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

I have yet to do the writers survey because I am a lazy piece of crap

Lol...just kidding.

But I have neglected it...

So...without further ado:

1.Why do you write?

What....do....I....write? Gah! That's a tough one! No wonder I've neglected this for so long! Basically, what do I not write? Seriously. My writing's funny in a sense that I don't always necessarily write about things that I know. Sometimes I write something about something I've never experienced before. And for some reason, people tend to compliment those pieces a lot. I remember my first published short story, "A Bad Trip." It's essentially about a bad acid trip (with underlying main character development lessons of course) and I've never done acid in my life. Nor have I ever witnessed a bad acid trip. I've known people who've had them but they've never really talked to me about them. I don't know. I tend to just get a line or two of dialogue that just jumps into my head and then the next thing you know there's a story.

My poems? Those are about 85% based on real experiences. It's funny...when I'm single is when I write the most of my lovey-dovey pieces. Maybe it's a longing thing... *shrugs* A lot of times my poems are a product of people-watching.

My blogs are usually full of thoughts on things going on around me or in the news, etc. Or funny things that really did happen.

And last but not least...I do current event articles, famous women profile, and band and cd reviews.

2.When did you realize that writing was what you wanted to do for a living?

I was six. Seriously. I wrote a story about two squirrels fighting in my front yard and then I was hooked. I turned it in to my teacher and she gave me extra points toward my grade. I started doing that all through elementary school. In third grade my teacher told me I was going to be a novelist. Then in fifth grade I was given an old typewriter as a gift and I was beyond ecstatic. I used to put "Do Not Disturb, Writer at Work" signs on my bedroom door. Every "What I Wanna Be When I Grow Up" essay was about being a writer. Even my high school senior project.

3.Do you write full time?

Do I get paid to write full time? No. Do I do it full time? Yeah. I'm always writing something even if it's just in my head. It'll get to paper and/or screen eventually. I always see something that sparks some creative candle within me and then the next thing I know a story or poem or something is written. It's like a writing demon possesses me, lol. Then sometimes he goes away and I get depressed because then I'm blocked. I do have a couple of freelance gigs that pay me a little bit though.

4.If you could spend a week with any writer (living or dead) who would it be and why?

So hard!

I'm going to do both though.

I really would like to spend a week with Brad Listi (alive) because come on...he's a witty guy. I'd want to totally smoke a bowl with him and just listen to his diatribe...about well, everything. He'd have me laughing the whole week and I love laughing. It's my favorite.

Dead: Hunter S. Thompson of course. Mainly because of all the drugs he'd have me try. (Kidding!) No, seriously. He's just so out there! Even if you don't write....you'd still want to have at least met him once in your life.

5.Where does your inspiration come from?

*currently wearing a tee shirt that reads "Find Inspiration Everywhere"*

And it's true. There's no specific thing really.

6.Do you have a writing ritual? If so… what is it?

Not really. Whenever it hits, it hits. I usually put music on if it's just a blog or article. For stories or poems though I need to turn the tunes off. I don't know why, I just do. I might have a drink or some "herbal inspiration" if I'm sitting down specifically to write and I do most of it on my computer. However, if I'm out and about and I have my notebook, I'm constantly jotting things down.

7.What is the best writing advice you have ever been given?

"If you want to know if you're really a writer, try doing something else."

Brad Listi told me this on a blogtalkradio show that I called into one time when he was the guest. He stole the quote from someone else but I can't remember who she was. He also told me what a "cocktail party writer" was and that the best thing to do is just work at writing. ("Cocktail party writer": People who say they're writers at social gatherings but don't really have anything substantial to rest their foundation on. Like...when you go to their "office" they're never there. Get it?) So, ever since then...I've seriously worked at putting myself out there and it's starting to pay off!

8.What genre or genres do you write?

I generally write coming of age type stuff. Always some deep dialogue driven story where something really crazy happens but everyone comes out ok in the end...if there's an ending at all. I like to leave readers wondering.

I also love writing inspirational stories and poems. It means something to give back some inspiration to someone else.

9.What is the greatest obstacle you face as a writer?

Right now a huge obstacle is that I need to still pay my electric bill. I can't focus on writing as much as I want to because right now I'm not getting paid enough to do it. I have to work a "job" to live, ya know? I manage my time pretty well but I haven't seriously done any freelance searching or submitting in a long time. I'm getting things done I just need to send them off ya know? So, money, or lack there of is a huge obstacle for me right now.

10. Do you have a “writing” website?

Umm...it's not a "writing" website persay. But I do have my own personal blogsite called Conversations with Jenn. (www.conversationswithjenn.com) and I even have my own BlogTalkRadio show with the same name!

Be sure and check them out!

I post all of my "writing stuff" here on The Table.

Well, that was fun and made me think about things a little. I never really thought too much on the things that I write. I just sort of...write them?

Believe it or not doing this survey gave me a little bit of motivation.

So, for that I thank Robert for posting it again!

Happy creating everyone!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Writing Wisdom - Lesson #2: The Perils of Partners

As all writers are painfully aware, the writing process can be excruciatingly slow, and oftentimes, finding the motivation to actually make progress can become a problem. In some cases then, working with a partner can be a smart move.

In this scenario, writing together can potentially make the entire process so much smoother. When two people collaborate on a project, you're usually less likely to get stuck, as your partner is always there to re-focus you and offer his or her own ideas. You can also divide up the work, assigning certain sections or aspects of your story to each of you in order to expedite your project's progress.

However, despite the undeniable benefits of writing in pairs, I have found a number of problems which can only hinder the creative process and lead to frustration or even disrupt a meaningful friendship.

Now, I'm not even going to pretend to be some kind of expert on this or anything, but let's just say I've had difficulties finding a reliable writing partner. A couple years back, a friend and I were working on a screenplay. We had developed the story, devised an outline, and were about thirty pages in when time began to run out. You see, my friend is now in his second year of med school, and while I totally understand that he did what he had to do and I have zero resentment towards him, part of me is still disappointed that we did all that work and never got anywhere with it. I keep doing my own writing anyway, but I still hope one day we can get back to that script.

As if this one experience with writing partners is not enough, another friend and I have been wanting to get a novel together for the past several months, but once again, life keeps getting in the way. Frustration ensues as the months roll by. Thus far, we've completed a prologue and the very first chapter. That's it. Now he is now planning on trying to get into law school. So the destiny or lack thereof for this project is becoming all too apparent. Again, it's not like I haven't been through this before, but that just makes it suck that much more.

If there's anything I hope to convey with this post, I guess it's this: Having a writing partner can be an awesome experience (so I'm told) and can oftentimes speed up the writing process, but it's important to make sure that your partner is in it for the long haul. You might be all gung-ho for your story, but be careful or you might end up with a lifetime supply of half-written projects that will only take away from your solo efforts.

I'd still love to team up with a writer for a project, but I now know to be more choosy who I work with. I just want to get something finished and out there already! If any of you are willing to collaborate on something this summer, let me know, as I will have much more free time during my hiatus from classes!

ttyl everyone and happy writing,