I love you all. I really do. But here’s the thing: I don’t actually know most of you. So here’s the deal.
Until now, I haven’t set up any guidelines for guest post submissions. I liked the open-door philosophy: if you write it, I will take it! But I’m receiving a lot of prefab propositions that all sound eerily alike and don’t lead back to a blogger. Instead, it’s always someone who just wants to advertise a commercial website. Which is fine. But that’s not why I do this.
I want to support the blogging community. So to guest post for me, you have to have your own blog. It doesn’t have to be about writing, or reading, or anything specific. It can be about rutabagas. In fact, your guest post can even be about rutabagas- if you’re very clever and you somehow make it relevant.
This also helps to ensure that I’m receiving original content. If I know where you live, so to speak, I can trust you more. If I can trust you, then I can ask my readers to trust you, and ultimately this trust upholds the integrity of my site.
Sound fair? I think it does.
Otherwise, my guidelines remain the same. Include a bio and a photo and a good, original post (recycled or new- doesn’t matter), and I will let you hang out at this blog as often as you like. I’ll even give you content in return, if you want it.
In other news!
The talented Connor at Cities of the Mind- Freelance Writing recently reviewed this blog. You can read the review and his other reviews HERE. This is definitely a good place to get overviews on potentially awesome blogs. And who doesn’t want an introduction to that? Connor’s reviews are concise, informative, and accurate. It’s like going blog shopping with a blog expert. I doubt he’d claim to be an expert, though, but then that’s part of the reason we like him, right?
Also, speaking of guest blogging, I’m the guest this week at the Gritty Blog. Some of my regular readers might recognize this post about Believability in Fiction. It’s a good one, I think, and it was a fun one to write.
And speaking of GCP, I’d like to give a shout-out to some of our writers. Check out:
I’d also like to note that I’m looking forward to reading and reviewing Will Kosh’s book, Little Winged One: The First Book of Guardians. There are other books on my “to-review” digital stack, too, I know- I haven’t forgotten you… One I should probably mention is Liz Schulte’s Secrets: Guardian Trilogy Book One (what’s with all the guardian stuff, I wonder?) Out of the five authors that participated in the Blog Tour de Force, she was the only one who emailed me about a review. And I’m not including the prefab mass email requests. But honestly, these authors all gave their books away for free; of course they all deserve reviews. Secrets just got bumped up the list because I appreciate the personable approach.
One other thing. My son turned ONE YEAR OLD yesterday. Where did this year go?! My little monkey is growing up. He’s not even technically a baby any longer- he’s a toddler. I have a toddler. What?!
What is an emotobook?
In short, it’s fiction peppered with abstract art. EmotoSerials are novella or novel length, divided into separate installments. The finished story arcs are called seasons, and each installment is an issue- like a chapter but with its own conflict and resolution (think of TV episodes.) Serials are published monthly. There are also EmotoSingles, which are kind of like short stories- same concept but without serialization.
Despite the brevity of each emotobook, each issue is written and illustrated to engage the reader on a deeper emotional level than traditional prose. Writers use tension to build scenes specifically to be illustrated.
And if you’re a writer, know that you don’t have to submit a story already in emotobook form. The editors at Grit City Publications (myself included) can help you adapt your story into the emotobook style.
The illustrators are also an integral part of the creative team, because they interpret each scene and react through expressionistic art. These abstract illustrations enhance five to seven scenes per emotobook.
If you’ve read the handbook and you’re interested, or if you just have questions, shoot me an email at email@example.com.
For a closer look at emotobooks, you can check out our maiden publication and namesake, Grit City by Ron Gavalik. Our catalog launch is scheduled for April, so expect additional awesome emotobook titles, such as the Swing Zone serial by Jodi McClure, Lingering in the Woods, a single by Cynthia Ravinski, and Suburbians, a single by William Kosh.
Writers are faced with tons of challenges when crafting fiction, one of which is the constant battle for believability. Usually, we want our characters to be real to our readers. We want our readers to empathize with them; to sympathize with them, worry about them, or fear for them. We want them to make our readers smile, maybe even laugh. We want our characters to be memorable.
Want. Want. Want.
So what gets in the way? Sometimes, it’s as simple as cultural differences. Writers should stick with what they know when it comes to culture. If you’re an American writer and you write about a Haitian family without any knowledge of Haiti and its customs, you’re going to fail. Really, that’s common sense. But what can sneak up on us is the fact that we can’t possibly write about a culture that all of our potential readers are familiar with. We can write about characters living in our own cultures only to find that their behaviors are somewhat unreal to those who consider our cultures foreign.
You don’t have to examine far-away places to see the truth in this, either. Look at life in various parts of your own country. In the U.S., for example, the north and south are sometimes completely different when it comes to customs, expectations, and behaviors.
For one year, I lived in South Carolina. One night my husband and I were driving home and I noticed a strange shadow in the car. I could only see it every once in a while, when we passed under a flickering streetlight. But suddenly, I realized it was a rather large spider and it was dangling right in front of my face, swinging toward and away from me as the car lurched around the winding roads.
My husband slammed on the breaks, causing the spider to swing an inch from my face. I couldn’t escape without coming in contact with the creepy thing, so my husband had the bright idea to try to hit it with my purse. He swung the purse at the spider and out the window of the car. It landed in the middle of someone’s front yard, and it took us a few moments to locate it (and the spider) in the dark. I had to be sure the spider was out of the car before getting back in, you see.
A van pulls up behind us and honks. I assume, because I grew up in Pittsburgh, that they’re furious and probably going to swear at us for blocking the road. I hold my breath, anticipating unintelligible but somehow crude shouts of discouragement.
“Hey, honey, y’all havin’ car trouble? Y’all need a ride?”
I’m glad it was dark because I just stared at the woman, open-mouthed and stunned. My husband, who had lived in the area three years longer than I had, answered, “No ma’am, but thank you.”
“There was a spider!” I blurted, suddenly at ease with this strange couple. “Tried to knock it out with my purse. Not sure if it worked.”
“Ah,” said the man from the driver’s seat in the mysterious van. “Well, do y’all need help lookin’ for it?”
If I had read this scene in a book and I had never experienced anything beyond the superficial borders of my home town, I might have scoffed and thought, no way; people aren’t that nice.
The reverse can apply, too. About a year after I moved back north, I was at a party. A girl was complaining that her car would be in the shop for repairs for the following week. The bus schedule was scarce at best so she’d miss out on a few events upcoming. At the time, I had nothing planned for my evenings and offered to drive her around.
She just gaped at me. “I don’t even know you,” she said, almost sounding disgusted. “I mean, why would you drive me around?” She shook her head, as if dismissing the idea entirely, and returned to whatever she had been doing.
I shrugged and decided I liked my evenings free, anyway.
Would someone really stop to help strangers on the road at night? Would someone really offer to drive a stranger around for no reason? Well, obviously, the answer is yes. But is it believable? This depends on where you’re sitting.
The best way to prevent this shocked denial of truth is to insulate your characters with other significant cultural behaviors. There should be no question that your friendly, neighborly couple has lived in the hospitable south all their lives. Likewise, there should be no question that your haughty, whiny girl at the party has never before received a random act of kindness. It’s more than the setting. We can’t just state that our story takes place in New England and expect people to understand everything that entails. We have to draw the map, make the place real. We have to welcome readers, open-armed, into the cultures that we create.
The masters of this are good science fiction writers. They often create cultures and societies from scratch. But literary fiction writers are faced with a sometimes tougher challenge: the task of taking what they’ve always taken for granted and detailing it for those completely unfamiliar with the author’s own experiences.
Test readers, or beta readers, are also helpful in these cases. They can offer fresh perspective from other backgrounds.
What about you? Have you ever read a book that made you hesitate, a book whose characters didn’t seem as real as they could have been? Have you ever stumbled over this roadblock in your own writing? How did you solve it?