LitKit Follow-Up (Review Month 3)

Well, it’s been three months and I received my order in full.  If you recall, I ordered the LitKit: https://litk.it/.  I choose a 3 month option to test out the products.  I immediately reviewed the first month because I was so excited about all the possibilities.  The second month, was a little more disappointing and I was slightly concerned for the last month.

To jump back a couple of weeks, my father suddenly needed open heart surgery, he’s 83 and it terrified all of our family.  It was a shock to our system and we were scared to death.  However, he is one of the strongest and active men I know and even though there was a lot of complications that could have arisen, he got through it.  Fast forward ahead, he’s now in a nursing recovery center and hopefully will be home within another week or so.  Thank you to everyone out there for your prayers and warm comments while my family got through this trying time.

RIGHT SMACK in the middle of this happening, I came home from another long day at the hospital, spending as much time as I can with him…to my 3 month LitKit.  Wow.  Just wow.  If they nailed anything, it was THIS MONTH.  I burst into tears because after everything I’d been through over the course of the week before…this was amazing.

My 3rd month included:

  1. “Novel Teas” Earl Grey Tea
  2. “Between Shades of Gray” novel, by Ruta Sepetys
  3. An adorable and well crafted coffee/tea mug with a ceramic spoon that fits IN THE CUP!  SO FUN!  “Live a life worth writing” printed on it.  My favorite item by far!
  4. “Sugar Books”, by Leafcutter Designs
  5. 2 vintage postcards from Argonaut
  6. And the ever present monthly calendar with writing prompts

This came at EXACTLY the right time for me and the items inside were perfect.  I couldn’t stop gushing about this month.  I’ll definitely be signing up again and looking forward to seeing what they come up with next!  I may have been a little hard on them last month, but 2 out of 3 isn’t bad.  Without a doubt, I would give them 4 1/2 stars!

Thank you, #LitKit for an amazing 3 months!  I’ll be back for more!

LitKit Follow-Up (Review Month 2)

Happy May!

I’ve received my second month from LitKit.  I have to say, I’m not as excited with this package as I was with the first one, but I’m still looking forward to playing around with everything in this shipment.

  1. Sticker – “Running Makes Me Sad” by Mike McGee
  2. “In Search of Mindnight” – Poetry by Mike McGee
  3. Matchbox Theater from Leafcutter Designs
  4. Romantic Electric Camouflage (numbered first edition), chapbook by Mike McGee
  5. Harmony (audio album), download card by Mike McGee
  6. Monthly Writing Prompt Calendar

I think the kids will have a fun time with me when I put together the Matchbox Theater.  And I’m always looking for more to read.  The main idea behind this subscription does revolve around literature, so the box makes sense.  However, I’m not as excited about it centering around poems.  I’d love to see a little more in the way of “creative” writing and novel based ideas.

One more shipment under my current subscription, then I’ll be deciding whether to continue on again for another few months or not.

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LitKit Follow-Up (Review Month 1)

I’ve received my first month after signing up for the LitKit subscription (see last blog post).  I’m pleased so far with the items for this first shipment.

This first package included:

  1. “Stolen Sharpie Revolution”: A brief, but engaging, and eminently useful guide to doing a zine. From tools, to layout, copying, printing, trading, promotion, ordering, mailing, distribution, and a whole lot more. (Alex Wrekk / Portland Button Works)
  2. 2 x Mini-Zines  (by Ellen Marie Bae)
  3. A button that reads “I ‘heart’ books” (Portland Button Works)
  4. A magnet that reads “Read More Books” (Portland Button Works)
  5. A black retractable sharpie
  6. 1 x Kit to create 3 mini-notebooks
  7. April 2016 calendar which includes various writing prompts throughout the month!

I’ve already put together the 3 mini-notebooks (my personal favorite part of the package).  They are adorable.  My kids kept trying to steal them from me 🙂  See photo below of the completed books.  Even my husband agreed that it was a great deal for such a fun subscription!

Just receiving the box in the mail was exhilarating.  I’m excited for the next one!  If you haven’t checked them out yet, find them here: LitKit

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LitKit Subscriptions

This weekend while perusing FaceBook and not writing… 😦  (Wait, this turns out to be good!).  FaceBook suggested an ad that I’m over the moon excited about.  It’s called a LitKit subscription.

Here is their exact, word-for-word description of what they are all about:

Born of the wet streets and dusty bookstores of San Francisco, LitKit is a monthly subscription box lovingly crafted to delight devotees of experimental literature, creative writing, and pen-and-ink publishing. Each month, we pair up with an independent author, poet, or small press publisher to showcase their most innovative and thought-provoking work. We bundle these carefully chosen publications with an assortment of unique literary devices, including high-quality writing implements and supplies, beautiful journals, thought-provoking prompts, and other interesting items intended to get your creative inks flowing freely.

Each box contains:

  • A selection of experimental literature. Sometimes a single book, sometimes a few. Sometimes fiction, sometimes poetry, always unexpected and delightful.

  • A selection of tools for book-lovers and creators. Writing implements, bookmaking supplies, mail art projects, and bookish novelties are all par for the course.

  • A dose of inspiration. Writing prompts are a given, and postcards too. Your box may also contain custom art journals, interesting literary games and experiments, and clever diversions to spark your creativity.

Ohhhh my goodness, I signed up immediately.  They are a fairly, brand new subscription service.  And before you get nervous at the word “subscription”, let me tell you that they offer many different options:

1-Month, 3-Month, 6-Month or 12-Month GIFT subscriptions:  Which include an auto delivery of…well, however many months you choose.  I’ve chosen a GIFT subscription for myself for 3-Months.  A 1-time payment for 3-months of boxes.  But they do offer the “standard” monthly subscription option for each of those as an AUTO delivery option as well.

I decided to go for the 3-Month to give it a shot, but not be held into a contract of auto-payments throughout the year.  Since they are still pretty new – it looks like the first box ‘ever’ went out in January – I’d like to test them out and give them a proper review before agreeing for more months in the future.

However, if it turns out as awesome as it looks – well!  They can just take my money!

To give you an idea, the first two months looked like the sets below.  The “quotes” below are taken DIRECTLY from LitKit website and not my writing:

January 2016

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Photo credit: KM Bezner   January 2016 was our first box – we sent out around 230 LitKits to our lovely Kickstarter backers. Here’s what was inside: The Shrug 4: Family, from tNY Press – we LOVE tNY, and The Shrug is their literary journal. As they put it, “Just what I want when I read a thing.” – Daniel Handler (Lemony Snicket). Sharpen, by Rich Ives, published by tNY Press – a chapbook with an edge. Bookmarks, courtesy tNY Press. Recycled paper rainbow pencils – these are delightful to sharpen, creating tiny paper ribbon rainbows. “Leaves” story postcard by our founder Meg – this month, the postcard is addressed to us here at LitKit, with the suggestion “Tell us a story about the leaves”. …

February 2016

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February was an exciting month for us, and the response from our subscribers has been great. What’s in the box this month?  A Guide to Bars and Nightlife in the Sacred City by Benjamin Wachs. Benjamin is one of our favorite writers in SF, and this little book of short stories is a delight to read. An illustration from Benjamin’s new book, Lamenting Avalon, a collection of fairy tales for adults, for which he is raising funds on Kickstarter. Illustration by William Brown. A set of conceptual drink recipe postcards by our co-founder Michael. A sealing wax set, and some stationery to get started with.
I’m really looking forward to my first month and to see what exciting things this company will come up with.  I’ll come back and Review each box to give you more information on what they can send!
For more information about the two creators of this idea, Michael and Meg, you can check out their ABOUT page!

Meeting Anna DeStefano

This weekend, I had the pleasure of meeting author Anna DeStefano at my first GSRWA chapter workshop.  First, let me say that the workshop itself was very well put together.  I enjoyed meeting some of the members and everyone seemed very positive to be there.

“Anna DeStafano is an award-winning, nationally bestselling small town romances spotlight family, friendships and the forgiveness that nurtures her characters’ dreams…as they explore the issues all contemporary families face.  She’s the author of more than 27 novels (in more than 7 different languages, with over half a million copies of her books in print) that have garnered numerous awards including twice winning the RT Reviewers’ Choice Award, the Holt Medallion, the Golden Heart, the Maggie Award for Excellence, and finalling in awards such as the National Readers’ Choice and Book Seller’s Best Awards.”~Read more on her website:  annawrites.com

She’s beautiful, extremely intelligent and positively amazing to listen to for hours.  It was sad when it ended, but I came away with so many great suggestions, tips and tools for making my writing better.  And not only the drafting part of writing, but the rewrite and editing as well!

She has all of her workshop notes up on her site, available to anyone and I suggest you check it out:  Free Workshops

One of the most important and SIMPLE things she teaches that “anyone” can do, is the “Beginning / Middle / End” technique.  Whether you’re a pantser or plotter, if you use this basic tool, you can’t fail in crafting a beautiful, desired story.  The idea is to sit down and, if nothing else before you write, figure out the Fear of your characters and their Goal – at the beginning, middle and end.  And here’s a hint…it should be different at each stage.  For example, she used her novel: Let Me Love You Again (Available at Amazon)

Beginning:  Her hero’s fear at the beginning of the story is attachment to a foster family he left behind years ago.  When he’s forced to come home, his goal is to get out of there as quickly as he can.

Middle:  Her hero learns that he’s a father to a daughter he never knew he had in the same town as his foster family.. ..now what?  Stay?  Go?…

End:  Hero now wants to stay, but…heroine wants him to go.

Notice that at the beginning of the story, he’s fighting against his worst fears and his goal is to stay as far away as possible.  In the middle and highest “arc” of her story, you can easily see how he is about to break and head toward the black moment.  How this “middle” incident can pinpoint his turning point.  At the end, he’s realized that what he wanted all along, wasn’t what he needed and ULTIMATELY wants.  Anna says to think about the beginning as giving your character EXACTLY what he wants, in the worst possible way.

She had so much food for thought on writing, it blew my mind and I’ve been struggling to process it all.  Anna made me think, made me feel larger than what I thought I could be with my writing.  I may still have a long way to go, but with the techniques and handouts (again, available to all on her site), I feel that there’s nothing standing in my way except my willingness to write.

Check out her novels now!  See below for a few, and her site for all available.

Thank you, Anna, for taking your time to speak with us!

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The Year of The Writer…

2016 will mark my year as a Writer.

Well, that’s my goal at least.  After finishing NaNoWriMo a “winner” with my latest manuscript, I decided that if I can do that, I can do anything I put my mind to.  Maybe not anything.  But I’m going to try, nonetheless.

So this year, I’ve thrown myself into the writing community and made myself believe that this year…will be my year.

After revitalizing my writing website, joining Romance Writers of America again, finally signing up for my closest Chapter (GSRWA) and obtaining my first critique partner – I’ve taken it a step further.  I’ve joined the Rose City Romance Writing chapter as a Golden Rose Contest Judge.  I’m excited to judge a writing contest and learn myself what others are doing in the same genre as me (aside from published novels).

I’ve also reached out to my chapter and offered my volunteering services as well as getting ready for the WOTS conference in October.  Aside from all of that, I’m opening myself up and letting some friends read my finished story now, which was always hard for me to try and do.  The fun part is I’m getting a lot of positive feedback.

Hopefully, that will be enough to get me through any bad feedback that comes my way 😉

So February will be rather busy, there are multiple contests coming up besides the one I’ve decided to judge.  I’ve entered the 2016 Great Expectations Contest with my “first draft” which I now wish I’d waited to polish before sending in, but I literally found the contest the day entries closed 🙂  Would be happy with just a little feedback though!

My family has been amazing through January.  I can’t thank my husband enough for all of his help and patience while I’ve submerged myself in writing.

My friends and coworkers, I owe my gratitude as well, since they end up sort of forced to hear me talk about writing 40+ hours a week!

It’s the people that surround you that lift you as a writer, thankfully, I’m surrounded by the best!

Now moving onto working on my synopsis – if anyone has some great advice on how to do these, feel free to contact me!  I’m researching and studied the best I can and so far, I’ve come across a REALLY great site that I think has helped me more than anything so far:

Kathy Carmichael: USA Today Best Selling Author – check out all of her workshops and printable worksheets on synopsis!

I’ll be examining her website today to learn as much as I can!

Alright, off to write I go…thanks for reading today!

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Write on the Sound – 2016

Write on the Sound is a conference in Edmonds, WA that I had the pleasure of attending in 2014, but missed out on last year due to personal reasons.  But as of yesterday, I’ve decided that I’ll return for 2016!  I’m extremely excited for the chance to attend through the first weekend of October.

As some of you may already know, the WOTS conference “is one of the premier conferences in the Pacific Northwest. Presented the first weekend in October each year, WOTS offers a unique and affordable opportunity for writers of all levels to build on their knowledge of the craft, learn about a new genre, and explore the writing industry. Its limited size makes the conference an intimate experience, perfect for sparking creativity, sharing ideas and networking with other writers.”

It’s a wonderful place to network and learn something new with every class, no matter what genre you live in.  I found one of my most exciting lectures to be on World Building.  Obviously in writing a novel, you’re spinning tales and weaving together at least a “basic” world around your characters.  But to listen to a father and daughter team that write in fantasy worlds describe their process was extremely fascinating.  They touched on stories such as Avatar and Star Wars and to look at it from a writers POV is entirely different than a reader or watcher.

Unfortunately, there are negatives that go along with it, too.  One of the most “logical” lecture for me to attend (or so I thought), revolved around romance writing.  The presenters were three romance (& erotica) authors and instead of offering advice or having an outline of what they wanted to discuss with us, they sat down and did a Q&A the entire 45 minutes.

This may have been something some of the other guests were interested in, but I found it lacked little information that benefited me.  I’d have liked to have more of their process or suggestions for writing, editing or publishing involved.  Maybe some sort of detail on how romance writing differs from others.  Or perhaps some experiences they’d had while publishing that maybe would be new information for amateur writers.  I suspect not everyone would agree with me, I mean I could have asked them to tell us about these things, but none of the other presentations had been laid out like this, so I wasn’t at all ready for such a “round table” discussion.  And to be honest, when they decided to spend half their time bashing Nicholas Sparks…I shut down.

Now as you may or may not know, I very recently wrote a post about meeting Mr. Sparks and how I looked up to him.  So it may sound like I’m a “stalking fan” or something along those lines, but the reality is, he’s a highly distinguished author and has a pretty great resume in the writing department.  I simply like to give kudos where it’s due.  Is there anything wrong with a “new” writer looking up to another that’s made such a name for themselves?

I don’t have any problem whatsoever with someone else having their own opinion, I’m as “open minded” as anyone.  I just don’t feel spending my hard earned money and taking time away from my kids to listen to these folks…should include half an hour of someone telling me why another successful writer is “beneath them” or isn’t good enough because their style of writing is “wrong” or is “only successful” because of some distorted reason.

It’s not very classy in my humble opinion.  It’s not an issue to me that these ladies don’t like NS, it’s my issue that writing is a difficult form of expression.  Especially if you stick with it, make a living or finished an entire novel.  It’s a lot of hard work.  There isn’t anyone “good enough” to speak so lowly of another person.

Aside from this negative experience, the rest of the conference left a positive lasting impression and I’m looking forward to the next one.  I just may skip the romance writing section of it 🙂

The town of Edmonds is gorgeous.  There are various antique shops, galleries and distinctive eateries in the area – all within walking distant of the conference.  If you stroll down to the waterfront, you’ll be in one of the most peaceful places I’ve ever found in the area.  While on break or lunch or after hours of the conference, Edmonds is a magical place to write.

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Feel free to join me and say hi this year!