Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Alice Osborn - "Born to Edit"

My name is Alice Osborn and I’m a born editor and a very picky reader. As a kid, I had to analyze books, movies and songs. Had to. My dad often told me I “thought too much,” but I couldn’t help it. I remember reading books that I wish were better written and I’d ask questions about why the author didn’t mention so and so. At the time I didn’t know what the phrase “plot hole” meant, but that’s exactly what I found in all of the fiction I encountered. As a result I started reading nonfiction, comic books and “movels” — movie novelizations; as least the plot didn’t lack any key elements and I already knew how the story ended. The only “fiction” I could stomach were the Greek myths since they were character-driven tales where the god/goddess/mortal had to cross almost insurmountable odds to achieve their goals. They were also violent. I loved the story where Artemis is bathing and a poor slob enjoys the peep show. He doesn’t last long since she turns her dogs on him. Perhaps this is why I’ve always been a fan of Star Wars, which is really a myth disguised as Luke Skywalker’s coming of age story of finding the home in his heart.

Speaking of Star Wars, I also loved going to the movies where I’d beg my father to sit through the credits so I’d know where it was filmed and who did the sound editing. He always complied and never told me it was a little weird. Well, he probably understood me since he always pointed out anachronisms. For instance, in Raiders of Lost Ark which was supposed to take place in 1936, they showed a 1942 Ford, and boy did that mistake bother him! My husband, Keith, a vintage car owner, also loves to point out these issues to me, which makes only one trait my father and husband share.

Going to the movies and to the comic book store with my dad turned out to be one of our favorite things we’d do together. Thanks to Dad, he also bought me and my brother several comic book subscriptions: Spiderman, G.I. Joe and Star Wars that would arrive in our mailbox in brown paper wrapping. My brother never read the comic books meant for him, so I became an enormous G.I. Joe fan by reading the comic book while playing with all of his action figures. Again, I loved the strongly developed characters and how they picked on each other while laughing in the face of danger. One of my favorite lines was, “You’re about as funny as a hand grenade.” No wonder I loved Predator and The Hurt Locker; both war dramas with strong characters and intense action. You know I’m also a fan of Lost for these same reasons and haven’t missed an episode since it premiered in 2004.

In college I majored in business and worked at Belk in several capacities for nine years. I dabbled in writing, but it wasn’t until I began grad school at NC State in English did I enter “editing world” through the tutoring portal. I tutored students in writing and speaking throughout my grad school stint, but I edited too much, which frequently got me in my trouble with my boss. That was OK, I’m not a tutor; I’m an editor.

A little more about Alice:

Alice Osborn, M.A. is a freelance writer, editor, award-winning poet and speaker offering editing and writing services to small businesses and creative writers. Not only does Alice edit fiction, paying close attention to characters and structure, she also teaches and writes it herself. Alice is the author of Right Lane Ends (Catawba, 2006) and she is a United Arts Artist-in-Residence where she teaches creative writing at the elementary and middle grade levels. Her work has appeared in the Raleigh News & Observer, The Pedestal Magazine, Main Street Rag, Wake Living, Sandlapper, the 2008 and 2009 Kakalak Poetry Anthologies, the Raleigh Quarterly, Soundings Review, Gutter Eloquence Magazine, and more. Alice lives in Raleigh, NC with her husband, son and daughter.


Thank you for this beautiful, well-written gust blog, Alice! I hope everyone enjoyed reading this as much as I did!


Friday, March 26, 2010

Off to MAUI!

But worry not! There will be a gust blog that you won't want to miss! It'll be out on Tuesday, so be sure to check back! As soon as I'm back in town, I'll post my return.

Cheers, everyone! Have a happy start to Spring!


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Calling All Guest-Bloggers

I will be out of town next Friday for ten days! I'd like some guest-bloggers to keep The Blog company while I'm gone.

Previous guest blogs that were done can be seen here.

Your post can be about anything pertaining to the book industry, writing, stories, and art. Just send your idea or post to me -- rtlovejoy (at) yahoo (dot) com -- and I'll schedule it. It should be no longer than a page and a half. I'd like to have all posts together by Wednesday night. Looking forward to reading these!

Thanks, everyone!


Monday, March 15, 2010

Author Interview - LARA ZIELIN

You may remember the famous book trailer ("Editing Letter") that went around last year by YA author Lara Zielin. It's a good example of an effective trailer. If you haven't seen it, it's embedded below this interview so that you can see it--because you must! It's hilarious and wonderful! Good news is, Lara is here today to talk about her book that went out just last year. It's called DONUT DAYS! Hurray!

The illustration is of the main character of DONUT DAYS. Her name is Emma and she is sixteen years old. I wanted to make it cute with happy colors, and of course, put in a donut or else it'd be totally wrong.

1) Welcome to The Blog, Lara! What is your book about?

Why, donuts of course!

Actually, donuts are more of a B-plot, maybe even a C-plot.

DONUT DAYS’ main character, Emma, is a pastor's daughter trying to figure out what she really believes. She attends Living Word Redeemer Church where both her mom and dad ascend the pulpit regularly, until a church member challenges her mom’s right to preach. On top of all that, a boy she’s known all her life is suddenly smokin’ hot—and possibly connected to all the drama in the church—and she’s in a fight with her best friend.

How do donuts figure into all this? A donut chain is opening a new store in Emma's town, and people are streaming in from miles around to camp out for the opening. When the local paper offers a scholarship to the student who writes the best article on the event, Emma is determined to win. She needs the money since her parents have made it clear they won’t pay for her to go to a non-Christian college.

2) What inspired the story?

DONUT DAYS was definitely inspired by real-life events. The donut camp came into my life when I was living in Minnesota, and the first Krispy Kreme opened up in the state. People went bananas. They camped out in advance of the store opening; they set up grills and tents; the media swarmed the scene; the line was out the door for days. All for donuts! At the time I thought, that’s an awesome setting for a book!

As far as the church stuff goes, I was an evangelical Christian for most of my teen years, but I never thought this was remotely interesting until I met my husband, Rob. He was like, dude, you have to put all this into a story. The more I thought about it, the more I realized he was right.

3) Mm, Krispy Kreme! Can you give us advice on the editing process?

Oh, man! Where to start?

My book went through many, many drafts and, even though my editor had great insights the whole time and was absolutely directing me toward the right changes, I just couldn’t make it all work. At one point I submitted a draft that was largely acknowledged as being much worse than the one that came before it.

I'm so thankful I had a solid editor who really was improving the book and not just asking for things willy-nilly. Ironically, I'm a magazine editor for my day job, and I kept thinking, I have the word "editor" in my job title. Why can't I do what she needs me to do? I never quite figured that out, actually. The good news is, my editor’s work really made the novel sing--and I think that's what kept me going, even amid all the frustration.

So, all that is to say the best editing advice I have is just to stick with it, no matter if you’re published or not. Even when you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, there IS a way though the darkness. Don’t give up on the projects you love. They’re worth the editorial sweat you put into them.

4) Speaking of editing, you have a phenomenal book trailer that was passed around quite a bit in the book world! Can you tell us about how you thought of it and the making of it?

Totally! I mean, part of the reason I made that trailer was because editing was so challenging for me (see above: sweat, editorial). I of course love the 80s, so naturally I had to pick a song to sing to from that era. Once I had my song, I changed the lyrics, recorded it, then my husband and I brainstormed how to film it.

My favorite part is actually when I’m crying in the rain. Which was actually was me in the back yard pretending to gnash my teeth and wail while my husband sprayed me with the hose. Good times!

5) Haha! What was your journey toward the publication of DONUT DAYS like?

Recently, at a Chicago book event with several other authors who'd had their debut novels published in 2009, someone in the audience asked how long the writing process took for each of us, from rough start to finished publication.

At the low end of the scale, some writers said between two and three years. I was at the high end of the scale, falling somewhere between eight and nine years.

The road was definitely a long one, but I learned a ton through every minute of it. I’m grateful that the experience has led me to another book (my sophomore title, PROMGATE, comes out in 2011) and I am excited to keep writing and reading!

Oh, and totally making videos where my husband sprays me with the hose.

Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us today, Lara!

Readers--DONUT DAYS can be purchased here!

Editing Letter by Lara Zielin can be viewed here:

Lara is awesome!




If you're an author, editor, agent, or illustrator and would like a five question interview and a drawing of your character (or of yourself), email me at rtlovejoy (at) yahoo (dot) com. Check out the FAQ page for more information!