The Seven-Day Book Challenge

Recently, a Facebook friend tagged me on the Seven-Day Book Challenge. I finally got around to it a few weeks ago and “double-teamed” it through FB and Instagram. And then I thought, “Why not share it on the blog, too?”

The rules of the Seven-Day Book Challenge are simple: For seven days, you share a photo or image on Facebook of a different favorite book and nominate another friend to carry on the challenge. There’s no set theme to follow, and you don’t need to write a caption or explanation for why you choose each book. You simply share the photo, tag a friend, and reply to any comments. But for this blog post, I think I’ll “break” one of those rules. 😉

Here are the books I chose for the Seven-Day Book Challenge, and why I picked each one.

Continue reading

On Breaking Habits, Managing Energy, and Extended Absences from Social Media

There’s a lot of discussion in the writerly blogosphere about the importance of social media, regardless of whether a writer is published. Much of the advice is valid: Social media is a great way of publicizing your work (books, blog, etc.), networking within the industry, and developing an audience. Personally, I’ve grown to appreciate Twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest over the past couple years. They’ve either been instrumental with building the blog’s audience and driving more traffic, or helped me connect with other writers, bookworms, and SF&F fans. (In Twitter’s case, it’s been a blessing for both.)

So, why have I been absent from social media lately, apart from Goodreads? It’s not that I’ve given up on it. Rather, the absence began with an intention, then drew on longer for reasons I couldn’t pin down until recently, thanks to a book I’ve been reading and some recent reflection on the “energetic” toll this year has taken on me.
Continue reading

Six Words of Wisdom on Running a Crowdfunding Campaign (Plus, the “Final” Total for My GoFundMe for the Iceland Writers Retreat)

crowdfunding-wisdom-banner

Wow. Was it really two months ago when I launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds for my trip to the 2017 Iceland Writers Retreat? Now, the “promotional” period is over (it ended this past Saturday), and thanks to people’s generosity I raised $2274. This falls short of the $3500 goal – but you know what? That’s still really good. It means that a dream-come-true overseas adventure and investment in my writing career is financially within reach for me. That is enough to say I’m DEFINITELY going now. 😀

To celebrate, I thought I’d offer insights on running a crowdfunding campaign. Because, well, it was one of the most intimidating things I’ve ever done – more than writing a novel! But it was also one of the most unique and rewarding learning experiences in my life. So, let me share six tips based on what I learned – some practical, and some attitudinal. Because in many ways, your mindset and definition of success might be more important than how close you come to your fundraising goal.
Continue reading

New DIY MFA Articles, Plus Facebook and GoFundMe Updates

DiyMFA

(NOTE: Due to this week’s DIY MFA post, the weekly blog post will go live on Thursday, December 15th.)

Do you believe in destiny, or a higher power conspiring to help make things happen? Or are you convinced that our lives are what they are because of our choices? Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether fate or free will plays the greater role. This mystery, however, hasn’t prevented writers from exploring it through story.

Today I’m tackling “fate versus free will” for my Theme: A Story’s Soul column at DIY MFA. Using Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist and Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus as examples, we’ll discover the common elements that both books use to examine this enigmatic theme and brainstorm ideas of how we can write our own stories on an age-old debate. (See the link after the jump.) Continue reading

Time Flies!: January 2015

Time Flies Logo

[EDIT: Somehow I forgot there were 31 days in January, so this is accidentally going up one day early. *oops*]

No, that’s not possible. Another month hasn’t gone by yet. I’m still trying to get used to writing 2015 instead of 2014!

That pretty much sums up how I feel as I write Time Flies!: January 2015. The first month of this year went by way too quickly – and it was an awfully stressful month offline, which stalled my blog-writing for a while. I was forced to put articles for this site on the backburner just so I could meet my deadlines for my outside columns. So… yeah, January 2015 was a blur. Things look like they’re starting to slow down, though, so I’ve been able to start catching up and cross off items on my “to-do” list.

Let’s be more positive from here on, starting with the past month’s updates: Continue reading

Quick Update

It’s been a while since I’ve posted an update of some kind on here. So here’s a summary of what I’ve been up to.

The Open Mic & Potluck Extravaganza at Grub Street on July 12th was so much fun! It was great to hear a wide range of works, from poetry to excerpts from novels and short stories – even parts of a published essay about living in a Guatemalan village for a year. (That last one was eye-opening and entertaining, and probably my favorite of the night.) It was also good to get people’s feedback on the two (new) poems I read. Now I can’t wait to return to Grub Street next weekend for a workshop on character development in novel-writing.

Unfortunately, due to a change in plans, I’m no longer able to attend tonight’s Open Mic Night at the Catbird Cafe in Weymouth. I am tentatively targeting a September date to return there and will let you know when I’m more certain about it.

The Summer 2013 issue of Soul-Lit, which features my poem “Elegy,” should be coming out very soon. I’ll share the link with you as soon as it’s available!

Music-wise, my review of Agharti’s debut album Change should be online at Sonic Cathedral any day now. In the meantime, I have finished a review of Second Empire’s self-titled EP and will start writing soon about The Jessica Prouty Band’s upcoming third album Set Me Free. I actually caught a JPB show in my hometown a few days ago, and really enjoyed it! Fun, energetic hard rock with a blues base. JPB played several original songs as well as covers of Led Zeppelin, Joan Jett, Evanescence, Blink-182, and Paramore. If you like some or all of those bands, chances are you’ll enjoy The Jessica Prouty Band.

Still making progress on the book, too! At this rate, the next “Chronicling The Craft” article will probably go online sometime in August. It’s tough to fit in time for it with a full-time job and other commitments (both writing and outside of writing). But so far, I’m happy with the pace as well as the progress I’ve made so far.

Finally, just a reminder that you can also follow me on FacebookClick here to visit and “like” my page, where you can read about my writing projects, upcoming events, and lots more in the realms of music, writing, and literature.

Have a good weekend!

~ Sara

I’m (Finally) On Facebook!

Good news: You can now connect with me at my official public Facebook page! Just click “Like” on the Facebook widget in the lefthand sidebar, or click here to go directly to the page.

Facebook Screenshot_cropped

A screenshot from the (admin side of) my official Facebook page.

I’ve toyed with the idea of having a Facebook page for a few months. But it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I finally acted on it. Now, all of the key pieces (profile photo, banner, and bio) are finished, and I’m ready to share it with you.

What do I plan to share with Facebook followers on this page? Here’s what I’ve thought of so far:

  •  Links to my poems, articles, and blog entries, focusing primarily on new content as it’s published (and maybe the occasional retrospect)
  • YouTube or ReverbNation clips of artists I’m listening to or reviewing in the near future
  • News announcements regarding my work and scheduled events (readings, festivals, etc.)
  • Other posts (status updates, photos, videos, and polls / survey questions) related to poetry, literature, music, the writing craft, and other interests
  • Sharing links for books / book series, literary journals and events, other writers / poets / authors, and more

My plan for the Facebook page is to have it be an interactive and engaging media and news resource. Writing and poetry doesn’t interest everyone. I totally understand that. So, the question I will always leave open for my audience is this: Besides keeping people up to date on what I’m doing, what can I do to make this page interesting without straying from its purpose? Any suggestions or feedback will be welcomed warmly. Feel free to also contact me there to ask questions about my work, future readings and events, review and publication inquiries, ideas for future blog entries or “Chronicling The Craft” topics, and the like.

I should note that the Facebook page will not replace this blog. They’ll function as two separate yet connected entities, constantly linking visitors from one source to the other. Plus, this blog is like my online portfolio; it houses links to all of my published articles and poems since 2008. I suppose I could move those lists to Facebook – but that would require a lot of time and effort that could be spent on more worthwhile things. And blogs still have their audiences, too, as I’ve seen here and at other blogs. So, I see no reason to get rid of this site.

Hope to see you there!

More “Spring Cleaning” Updates

Hope you all enjoyed your weekend, be it a holiday weekend or the usual couple days to relax. I finished the last few updates I’d been planning for my website. Here’s what’s new as of today:

  1. Links: I got rid of the two-column format, which looked terrible. I also deleted some of the unnecessary and/or broken links and added new links to authors, writing resources, and music artists previously not listed. Now, the Links page is much easier to follow. I hope you’ll agree!
  2. Sidebar: I updated the Recommended Links widget in the sidebar to reflect the recent changes to the Links page. Also, as a reminder (or in case you haven’t noticed yet), I update the Books & Music widget a couple times each month. If you’d like to know what book I’m currently reading and which albums I’m listening to, that’s the go-to spot on this site.
  3. Website Poll: It really was time to change this out. And the new question is a relevant one: How do you read books these days – printed / hard copy, electronically, or both?

If you visit the Links page or check out the Recommended Links widget, you’ll notice that I have an Amazon.com profile. I’ve had one for a while but neglected it. But I’ll neglect no more from now on. As time allows, I’ll build up my Amazon profile with more music and book reviews. So if you’re considering buying something from Amazon and are swayed one way or the other by a review written by ViolettePen (that’s me!), click “Yes” to let the site know my review was helpful in your decision.

I’m also planning to launch a Facebook page in the near future. I have some creative things to work out first (e.g., photo, banner artwork). But as soon as the page is up and running, I’ll share a link to it here.

Stay tuned to lots of news in the next week: more reviews at Sonic Cathedral, an anthology announcement, and my latest edition of Chronicling The Craft!