Sunday, August 31, 2014

Ice Bucket Challenge - Why I Did It

Not at all writing-related, but for those of my peeps not on facebook, here's proof that I participated in the infamous and controversial Ice Bucket Challengehenceforth referred to as IBC. 

I stress the "infamous and controversial", because I got quite a few negative reactions from several people whom I told I was doing it. Many were annoyed by the way it has taken over the web, especially facebook. Some argued that people shouldn't have to be 'nominated' to donate money for a good cause. Others told me - and I'm paraphrasing a bit here - "we're dumping ice on our heads while kids in Africa are starving to death". And yes, people have gotten hurt, trying to come up with new and funny ways to dump ice water over themselves. 

I did it anyway, and here are my reasons why the above-mentioned grumbles didn't phase me:

The annoyance, I get. There's only so many times a person can watch somebody tipping a bucket of ice water over their heads before it becomes boring and redundant. On the other hand, we all have a choice. Nobody is making anybody click on and watch these videos. Not even evil Facebook. Just scroll over it - the next picture of a cute kitty, puppy or someone's dinners is bound to appear two posts further down... 

I also agree that it's a bit sad that people have to be called out on their honor to donate for a good cause. But isn't that why the IBC was brought to life in the first place? To raise awareness for ALS, a terrible disease that cuts peoples' lives short? I must admit, I'd never heard of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis before the IBC made the rounds. I knew of Stephen Hawking, of course, but not the exact nature of the disease that is - along with his planet-sized brain - his trademark. But that's the beauty of the IBC. It's basically a marketing campaign - and a great one at that. I bet there are a lot more people who now have at least a basic understanding of the disease. And many of them donated, I among them. Does it really matter WHY we did? 

I must admit, I'm not quite sure how the whole 'kids are starving in Africa' thing is to be understood. Maybe that reared its head because a) whoever said it hasn't understood the essential point behind the IBC, or b) is trying to tell me I should donate money to different causes. I'm going to completely ignore a) (get a clue, Ignoramus) and focus on b) which might, at first glance, hold more merit. I say at first glance, because I feel it doesn't hold up to close scrutiny. First of all, it's my business what or whom I donate my money to. Secondly, many people who donated for ALS also give donations for other causes. Just because you give money to one doesn't mean you can't give money to others, ever. Again - the IBC got people to donate, period. Always a good thing, in my book.  

And as for people getting hurt... a point could be made for natural selection, considering the DUH-factor in some of the attempts at originality... People, please be careful! The IBC is meant to help, not hurt! Be smart. Stay safe. 

There's also a whole different aspect to the challenge: that of showing solidarity. But anything I could say in this regard has already been put into a post by my good friend Nancy, who says it far more eloquently than I possibly could. 

And now I'm getting off my soap box with one last observation: it was fun.
 It's not every day you get it in your head to drench yourself with ice water. Like this:

Sunday, August 24, 2014

From Indie To Traditional Publishing - A Success Story For Author Tracy Banghart

This is a shout-out to my friend Tracy, whom I met in a pretty random set of circumstances while on vacation last summer (which I explained a little in this post). At the time, Tracy had just self-published two books, By Blood and Moon Child, which had both come very close to being traditionally published. Tracy was also working hard on her next novel called Shattered Veil. Half a year later, she self-published it, too. I read it a few weeks later, when it already had acquired quite a few rave reviews. No real surprise for me: It's amazing. One of the best self-pubs I've ever read. 

Since I'm totally biased, my opinion might not impress you. Except I'm not the only one who thought the book was amazing. Firstly, Tracy won an Indie Book Award for it. Secondly, she was contacted by an editor from Alloy Entertainment, who made Tracy an offer for the book. 

I'll let that sink in a moment...  

Yes. The publisher contacted her, because they loved the book so much. 

Tracy explains the hows and whys on her blog in The Story Behind The StoryBasically, Alloy offered her a three-book deal. Shattered Veil went through revisions and is now titled Rebel Wing. Movie optioning has been discussed. 

Tracy is living every writer's dream. I'm insanely happy and excited for her, and for me by extension. Because once I got over the stab of absolute envy that wouldn't be denied, I realized that such success stories do, in fact, hit close to home. So close that, maybe, if I follow Tracy's example and work hard at my craft, it just might happen to me, too (the being-published thing in general, not the being-contacted-by-the-publisher thing. That's got to be a one-in-a-million occurrence).

Tracy, you're my hero. Kudos to you and Shattered Veil. You both deserve the recognition. I'll be (re)reading Rebel Wing and can't wait to see how Aris' journey continues. If the series becomes the next big thing I wouldn't be the least bit surprised.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Backnang Stories - My First Publication!

 grew up in Backnang, a small(ish) town in Southern Germany (even though it sounds like somewhere far East). A small publisher recently opened shop there, and decided to publish an anthology with short stories in, around and about Backnang, called Backnang Stories. A call for submissions went out to all who live or once lived in the Backnang area. I decided to foresake my current streak of writing soleley in English for this opportunity to be published, and noodled around with ideas for a while. I finally wrote and sent in two short stories, hoping that at least one of them would make the cut. 

Imagine my excitement when I received an email five weeks later and found out that they both did! Squeeeeee! 


And definitely some of this:

That was about six weeks ago. Since then, the stories have been through a round of revisions, and I sent in a short bio. My part is now done, at least until the book is published in October, and presented at the annual Geese Market (the name isn't Backnang's only quirk). The authors were asked to make an appearance, and there's also a reading lined up at the local library in November, with a couple more being planned. We authors get our own mini book tour! 

So yeah, I'm excited. Every publication counts, right? This might be the tiniest of baby steps in my quest to some day earn enough money with writing to give up my day job, but it's a step. I'll take it.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

SCBWI-Writing-Retreat with Beverly Birch

I went to a writing retreat / workshop in May. It was all kinds of fabtastic. The organizer asked me if I wanted to compose the write-up of the event for the SCBWI homepage. And they say there are no stupid questions... Of course I grabbed the opportunity to write something for a blog / website other than my own with both hands. I may have even used my feet. 

So here's the write-up. It includes repeated use of the words 'inspiring' and 'motivating', an inordinate but absolutely justified amount of praise-singing, and demonic mermaid nuns. Yes, you read that right: demonic mermaid nuns. It was a bunch of story tellers that got together, after all...

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

End Of 6-Month Blog Hiatus

So. It's been a while, as Staind once sang. Thankfully, my reasons for not posting on the blog since February are far less angsty or wrought with existential insecurity than the song. Blogging just took a bit of a nosedive, priority-wise, over the last few months, what with finding and starting a new job, moving from two flat-shares into (finally!) my own apartment, planning and going on holidy in Canada and USA, and of course, writing. Always the writing. ;-)

In fact, writing remained my touchstone throughout the crazy times. And it paid off. I finished another first draft of a novel the day before I left for Canada. Yay me. I'm really excited about this project. It still needs considerable revision and editing work, but the fact that I'm still excited about it after finishing the first draft, and that I already have ideas for books 2 and 3, tells me I might really have something here. Now I just have to make it good, better, the best it can be. Master of Lists that I am, I already have a plan on how to accomplish this.

In other news, I simply have to pimp a book that had me reading until 5am for the first time in at least eight years: Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews. This is the seventh book in the Kate Daniels series, and it just keeps getting better. It's Urban Fantasy at its best. If you were ever curious what this genre is all about, this series is the place to start. Book 1 is Magic Bites. It is good. By book 6, Magic Rises, we've reached phenomenal. The only reason I didn't read number 6 through the night is because I started reading it in the morning. Instead of slacking off, as often happens in such series, Magic Breaks stays the course. This. This is writing that inspires me, and that I aspire to. A lofty goal, but you gotta dream big, right?