'House of Cards' Uses Retro Writing Device

House of Cards is a Netflix original series that follows Congressman Frank Underwood as he politicks his way through Washington, D.C. One episode turned me into an absolute fanatic.

The show's writers know what the hell they are doing. They have taken directions with the show that demonstrate their collective genius and IMHO, ensure the series will have a die hard following and consequently, staying power. 

But House of Cards could've died from self-inflicted wounds during the pilot.

The writers reached back in time for a single device that saved the show: they broke the Fourth Wall.

The Fourth Wall theory comes from playwrights. The idea is that stage-front has an imaginary wall across it. No attention should be drawn to the audience, because acknowledging its existence is equitable to admitting that the play is a work of fiction (Source: TV Tropes). 

Using this device was a risk, but one worth taking. If it didn't catch on, if viewers found it corny, or if improperly incorporated, the device could've pulled viewers completely out of the storyline. Breaking the Fourth Wall has been out of fad for some time, but because it was smoothly incorporated, instead of being a show stopping interruption, it worked.

If viewers didn't have this method of connecting to Frank Underwood, the last five minutes of the second episode alone would have so repulsed that there may not have been an audience anymore. Viewers need to feel like the main character doesn't detest them or think he is better than them. The choices that Frank Underwood makes, the way he treats others, and the comments that fall out of his mouth all suggest that he doesn't think highly of John Q. Public. 

In addition to this, none of the politicking that takes place in the show is ever about the American people--not even the voters. With depictions like these, in a climate like now, it would be all too easy to want to watch something else, anything else.

That is why the writers chose to let viewers into Frank's close knit circle, through having interludes with him throughout the show. This creates an inner circle feel that elevates the viewer, since making Frank seem more like a common man just ain't gonna work.

It was a brilliant move that didn't perish upon execution. And with that one choice, House of Cards has allowed viewers to connect with Frank Underwood and ensured at least a second season of my new favorite show.

Happy viewing,

C

Book Review: The Artful Edit by Susan Bell

Below is my Goodreads review of The Artful Edit by Susan Bell. If you are in need of a great book on editing, this is your new go-to manual.


The Artful Edit: On the Practice of Editing YourselfThe Artful Edit: On the Practice of Editing Yourself by Susan Bell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have read two other books that claimed to be about editing and revising. While they did provide some helpful tips, after reading, I felt they focused more on what to do while crafting a first draft so that one had less work to do during the editing stage.

That does nothing to help the author that has already completed a first draft.

On the other hand, Susan Bell's book, The Artful Edit, has provided me great insights into what I can do while editing to improve my prose. This book isn't about grammar, spelling, and punctuation, but rest assured, there are great guides out there on those points. This book focuses on the art and skill of editing and revising one's work after the first draft has been completed. The title of this book proves to be rather accurate, thankfully.

Broken into five sections, Bell's book jumps right into useful tips from editors and writers on how to edit and revise a text. The best part about this book is that it assured me as an author that whatever methods I use are, in fact, the right ones. I find that all I need some times is reassurance that I'm on the right track and the rest is a cake walk.

Some of the advice will work for certain writers, others will adopt tips that run counter to what the former subscribed to. The beauty is that no one method is the absolute correct one, and no one type of author is considered the stereotype to be catered to. Outliners, non-outliners, rushed, and torturously slow writers will all find advice that can be helpful to them in this book.

The other sections make this book a true variety pack. Within the binds, Bell includes essays from authors, and other artists that detail how they edit their work. She also offers a history of editing that is really rather interesting.

If you are like me and find yourself looking for advice on editing that truly isn't easy to locate, this book may be meant for you.

View all my reviews

Happy reading!

C

It's so Worth it: A Pictorial Essay

My copy of Spark: A Creative Anthology Volume II came in the mail today. 

It looks like this:



And seeing it feels like this:



Now I'm going to drink this:



And start the whole creative process again.


Happy writing!

C

QOD


Quote of the Day

Work so hard that one day your signature will be called an autograph.

                                                               --Author Unknown


Happy writing,

C

The Blog You Should be Following: Literary Agent Wish List

Stop playing guessing games with the publishing industry. Know exactly what literary agents are combing the slush pile for by following the Agent and Editor Wish List blog.

In June, the hash tag #MSWL launched and for an entire day lit. agents and editors posted which manuscripts they would love to read. In July, the hash tag lit up again with even more MS wishes.

A blog has been devoted to capturing all of the agent and editor tweets so that we can all see who is interested in reading what. Now writers know which agents are dreaming of reading their manuscripts. 

Follow the blog so you can find the right agents to query.

Also check out this blog post from the newest literary agent at The Bent Agency, Victoria Lowes, wherein she details her entire wish list.

Happy querying!

C

QOD

Quote of the Day

The owl of Minerva (the goddess of wisdom) flies at night.

                                                               --Rodney Delasanta


Perhaps this explains why writers do so many all nighters.



Happy writing,

C

Writer's Digest "Tunesday" Volume 3

Writer's Digest is holding a "Name that Tune" contest. If you can name the 17 partial songs played,  you can win all sorts of stuff to include a critique of your work.

Give it a go music lovers. Go win some stuff!

Good luck!

C

Clifton Chase and the Arrow of Light

Clifton Chase and the Arrow of Light is Jaimie M. Engle's debut middle grade novel. 

This MG novel is a fun and dazzling read. I've composed a full review on Goodreads and included it below.


Clifton Chase and the Arrow of LightClifton Chase and the Arrow of Light by Jaimie M. Engle
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Clifton Chase and the Arrow of Light will charm adult readers as well as children. One does not have to be an avid fan of fantasy stories or historical fiction to be pulled into this medieval tale that entangles long forgotten princes with sea creatures and fire-breathing dragons.

The best part about this book is that Clifton is a witty character who is easy to identify with. His adventures, both present day and past, are believable and relatable. Clifton is clever, but good natured, which makes him a character I would encourage my child to read about.

His good friend, Dane, kept me snickering the whole way through the tale. I love a book that makes me laugh out loud.

If you are looking for a book to read with your child, I highly recommend this middle grade novel. The story is intriguing enough to keep you both up late eagerly turning pages.

Teachers would enjoy reading this book with their classes not only because of its entertainment value, but also because of the endless options for integrating curriculum. Clifton Chase and the Arrow of Light has applications in: social science, social and personal skills, music appreciation, writing, and, of course, reading courses.

View all my reviews 


The book trailer for Clifton Chase and the Arrow of Light provides a great peek of what is in store for readers. The trailer just released today so you can be one of the first viewers!

This phenomenal read goes on sale in September so be on the lookout for it. 

Happy reading!

C


Contributor Credit Conundrum

Fellow writers, I'm looking for some different takes on a situation I recently experienced with a publisher. 

A piece of mine was accepted into an online anthology. Of course, I was incredibly excited about the writing credit even though this was a nonpaying market.

The anthology was posted on Amazon for purchase so I immediately started creating my Amazon Author Central page. I was so let down when I realized that I had not been given contributor credit on the anthology; therefore, I couldn't create an Amazon Author page.

The buzz one can generate through an Amazon Author page is huge, because it links all your works in one centralized location. I knew the page was critical to my future success so I requested that the publisher add me to the contributing authors.

The publisher declined stating that it was too tedious to add all fifty of the contributing authors. I call fooey on that because a friend of mine is in an anthology with a hundred contributing authors and all of them have been given proper writing credit.

So fellow authors, am I wrong or right to be piffed? Should authors expect writing credit on all works, no matter what?

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts. Please share them below.

Happy writing!

Spark is a Hit!

Spark: A Creative Anthology volume II has been getting a lot of attention lately. If you have a second take a peek at this great review by author, George Wells.

This article is about the launch of volume II: SF Signal. The article also talks about the unique collection of work in the anthology.

Of course, if you are interested in reading the anthology you are welcome to read the post beneath this one or click on the Published Pieces tab to learn more about purchasing Spark.

Happy reading!

C

Spark: A Creative Anthology Volume II


The Barfly From Apartment Twenty-One is a gritty general fiction tale.

Description 

Ending up at her local haunt in her pajamas was the first of Amanda's problems that night, but not the most pressing. She can't remember a single thing about herself or the two men that insist they know who she is and can explain everything. Her problems threaten to become far too much for her to handle when she finally makes it to apartment twenty-one.





This piece was published by Spark on July 10, 2013. If you are unfamiliar with Spark: A Creative Anthology, I highly encourage you to take a minute and check out their sight. Brian Lewis, the Editor-in-Chief, has some incredibly informative interviews posted. All the info on submissions and contests can be found there as well.





You can purchase Spark: A Creative Anthology Volume II through Spark's website or Amazon.com. Use coupon code: V2-EDWARDS-FRIENDS to get 50% purchase price of print and eBook versions. This offer expires on October 1, 2013.
 The anthology is available in e-pub and Kindle formats as well as trade paperback. Hardcover copies are coming soon.

So if July finds you in the mood for a dark and tragic tale, I've got you covered. Look for my story, The Barfly From Apartment Twenty-One, in the second volume of Spark. I'd love to hear what you think, so be sure to return and post comments.

Florida Book News Article on Empower 500 Speakers

Greetings!

Florida Book News talks about Empower 500 speakers Christine Edwards and Jaimie Engle in the following article. Check it out: http://www.floridabooknews.com/2013/07/jaimie-m-engle-and-christine-edwards-to.html.

Agent Wish List

Alert...alert...alert...

Another agent has posted her wish list online. Actually, Molly from Bent on Books updated the list she already posted in January.

Check it out to see if you have composed the MS of her dreams. 

Bent of Books: Molly's Updated Wish List

Happy querying,

C

The Flashing Type Anthology Now Available on Amazon.com


Free Bodies is a micro-fiction horror story.

Description
The undead shop for unoccupied bodies to wear in the same way the living peruse Amazon.com for new threads. Kellen thinks little of the people whose bodies he lists online, until one day his is up for grabs.

This piece was published by Free Flash Fiction on December 13, 2012 and is now in The Flashing Type Issue #2 anthology available for download from Amazon.com.

Free Flash Fiction publishes micro-fiction stories in most genres and is free to readers. They also publish anthologies that are available for download from their website. Be sure to visit and check out their story catalog.

Click on the orange bar below to purchase The Flashing Type Issue # 2.



Yahoo Articles: Quit Smoking

Quitting smoking is never easy. I'm on day four and it's getting better, but I still get grumpy at times.

Check out my Yahoo articles on quitting. There's humor laced with helpful hints in the articles; it's my way of helping those who plan on quitting in the near future. I'm all about helping someone fight the good fight, even when I'm a tad grumpy.    : )


Five Things You Should Never Say to Someone Quitting Smoking

What Helped Me Quit Smoking

For the record, I think this is the only quitting, sans backup plan, Jon Acuff would endorse.  : )


Smokers, quit the habit if you can and you want to. Don't do it if you aren't ready and willing.


Happy quitting,


C

Helpful Hashtags for Writers

Writers, get insider info on Twitter using the hashtags: #slushpile, #querytip, and #pubtip. #writing and #writetip are sort of helpful as well.

Don't forget about #MSWL, which isn't as active as it was two weeks ago, but still displays literary agents wish lists. The hashtag is still helpful in that many of the literary agents used it to mark links to blogs where they published their wish lists in a permanent setting.

Happy querying!

C

Empower 500 Kicks Off July 8, 2013


Central Florida educators are in for a treat, because on July 8th, the Empower 500 Symposium kicks off. This symposium focuses on helping secondary Language Arts teachers, but all educators can benefit from attending.

The English Teacher's Friend is the organization responsible for the annual Empower 500 Symposium. The goal of this organization is to empower secondary English teachers, inside and outside of classrooms. 





This means, providing resources and tools that will help teachers infuse their lessons with technology, Common Core Standards, and engaging material. 

This also means helping teachers discover time management and organizational resources so that they can reduce the time they spend working outside their classrooms. 

This year, six online assistants joined The English Teacher's Friend staff to assist teachers with researching and putting together lesson plans. 





Lastly, this means aiding teachers in pursuing goals and dreams outside of the classroom. There will be field trips to museums and crash courses on Shakespearian theater. There will also be group walks and runs every morning of the Symposium, and beginner friendly Zumba and yoga classes. 

This symposium will also offer sessions to aid aspiring writers with becoming published authors. I am honored to be one of several guest speakers at Empower 500 that will be helping local writers learn how to break into the publishing industry. 

Teachers who would like to learn more about publishing their writing are encouraged to attend as many of the sessions on the topic as possible. There are so many great authors speaking at this symposium, that I cannot list them all, but the following are a few of the sessions offered by Space Coast Writer's Guild authors, (myself included.)
  • How to Become a Published Author (presented by Christine Edwards)
  • Technology for Writers (presented by Christine Edwards)
  • From Querying to Signing and Beyond (presented by Jaimie Engle)
  • Idle Hands are the Devil's Workshop: A Writing Platform for Kinesthetic Learners (presented by Kit Adams)
A comprehensive list of speakers can be found in the Empower 500 Symposium program.

The English Teacher's Friend is one organization that is clearly all about improving the lives of teachers. They have created a symposium that is chock full of great information and quality resources to improve the lives of our hard working educators. Their top priority has been to keep the cost of attendance low. Because of this, teacher's register for the entire symposium for only $50.


Visit, The English Teacher's Friend, to get a better idea of what this organization is all about and to sign up for this phenomenal symposium.


Thank you teachers for all the great work you do for our kids!


C

Big Six Now Big Five

Random House and Penguin Books, two of the infamous Big Six publishing houses, announced plans of merging late last year.

On 1 July 2013, this merger became a reality--literally overnight.

And this is a big deal for the publishing industry. According to the NYT, Penguin Random House will have control over 25% of the marketplace. That's huge!

You can read all about it in this New York Times article.

My question for you is, how do you think the transition from "Big 6" to "Big 5" is going to affect writers?

Spark Update

Looks like the release of volume II of Spark has been delayed. It happens.  : )

More info about the release of Spark: A Creative Anthology, Volume II when I know something concrete.


Spark: A Creative Anthology released today (July 10, 2013) and is available for e-readers and in paperback through Spark's website and Amazon. Enjoy!

Happy writing,

C