“Read It And Weep” Re-Read

Read it and Weep is peak DCOM (Disney Channel Original Movie, for those who never experienced this magic). It has the best of somewhere-in-Canada-or-California-Suburbia sets, not-bad-but-not-great acting, and a ridiculous concept that could only be dreamt up by a mouse-brained maniac.

In this film, a high-school aged girl, Jamie, “accidentally” publishes her personal diaries (thanks to some dubious direction from Mom) which becomes a mega blockbuster bestseller.

While I’d love to delve into the intricacies of the Hallmark movie level filmmaking, fabulously iffy writing, or… whatever it is she’s wearing here:

(SCREAMS IN 2006)

What I will be reviewing today is the accuracy of how they portray the world writing and publishing.

While I may be only a self-published author (read inter_linked The Series – it’s free!) I’ve done a lot of research on publishing and done a little querying on my own, not to mention reading just about every entry in Query Shark and very briefly interning at an agency. So I’m almost an expert.

Here we go:

For Reals

Sometimes Your Characters Will Talk to You and No, They Don’t Shut Up

One of the main elements of Read It and Weep is that Jamie and her wish-fulfillment character Isabella, or “Is”, are played by sisters Kay and Danielle Panabaker and they snip and sass and argue with each other constantly.

This is basically what a day in the life of a writer is. Getting into real actual out loud fights with these imaginary people until they tell you what they want to say.

Being An Author Is Just a Ton Of Work

Jamie is seen doing book signing after endless book signings, TV appearances, and just a load of parties rife with schmoozing and being friendly to annoying executives.

Being an author these days is a LOT of work. Most authors – even those with “Big Five” publishing houses! – have to do their own promotional work, schedule their own signings, and then are sent on lengthy book tours. Sorry, Jamie. This is just how it goes.

Backlash Is Inevitable

When everyone finds out what Jamie wrote, they are instantly mad at her, harassing her in school, vandalizing her author events, and making her life generally just kind of miserable.

While I can’t personally say that I’ve gotten any backlash for my books – aside from a few choice comments on my opinion on video games – but that’s really common, especially when writing directly about people you know.

Life protip: Do NOT do this. Do not write about your teachers or your parents or your friends or even places in your hometown. There will always be someone who be upset, and it’s generally pretty uncool. Even if you’re saying nice things, being put up on a pedestal isn’t exactly somewhere you want to be.
You can probably sneak in your dog, though. Dogs have no shame when it comes to flattery and can’t write angry tweets with their lack of opposable thumbs.

This is the face of 7/10 reviews and double-quadruple starred reviews

As You Wish

“Is Saves the World” (the in-universe, megabestseller novel) is wish fulfillment. Any time Is comes across something daunting, dangerous, or something she just doesn’t like, she ZAPs away the problem and all is perfect and fine.

While this may seem unrealistic and short on anything resembling a plot, think about Twilight. Ender’s Game. Ready Player One. Or just about any book you can think of. They’re power fantasies, stories of ordinary people who rose above to become extraordinary. And these stories sell.

Even give the movie itself a think, what is it actually about? A teenage girl getting something every teenage girl dreams about: attention, power, stardom, to be heard. The movie in itself is a power fantasy, and I definitely had high hopes for becoming a blockbuster writer at 14 after this film!

For Shame

Secret Agents

Photo by Mohammad Danish on Pexels.com

The plot kicks off when a mysterious “they” finds out about Jamie’s contest-winning essay (which turned out to be several hundred pages of her illustrated diaries that somehow also got printed in the school newspaper which I guess kids care about now). The publishing company only gets mentioned once offhandedly and Jamie has a “handler” for her PR events and photoshoots.

In real life, 90% of books are discovered by “querying”, or writing a very specific letter to an agent. If that agent likes your letter, they will request a “partial”, or a part of your manuscript to read, or a “full request” which is the entire thing, and that’s pretty rare.

After that, your book gets shopped around to editors, publishers, and sometimes even other agents in the same house if they have a relationship with a publisher who might be interested.

Honestly, I think that would make a much more interesting story – at least to me. The story of how Jamie’s very personal words get twisted around to be this monster of a “bestseller”, how something “zappy” that caught the hearts and minds of a small town becomes the bland, vanilla, formulaic blah that will end up on the 50% off table at Barnes and Noble within a month.

But maybe I was the only tween who enjoyed rants about the finer points of the Oxford Comma.

Name in the Game

Let’s not forget the fact that Jamie is a minor. She’s 15 or 16 at most. Young enough that she couldn’t sign her own contracts (which is horrifying when you think about it, her parents pretty much signed her up for this harassment and mistreatment by her peers, way to go.)

So the fact that she doesn’t write under a pseudonym or even her initials – which many female authors do to begin with – is baffling.

Sure, the folks of her hometown know exactly who she is and what she’s written, that’s inevitable. But consider that we know for a fact that this is the mid-early days of the internet. Someone could easily Google her name and come up with her phone number and home address.

Sure, it might have taken some convincing to get herself to pick something that’s not Selene Lunesta Maximillion McAllisterCrowley, but it would be worth it. Not using a nom de plume, especially that young, is just asking for trouble.

It Also Has No Plot, Just Saying

Is comes across a big bad monster who is also the big bad cheerleader of her school. Is ZAPs the monster away. Is wins. Is gets the boy. Yay.

If you’ve paid even the smallest modicum of attention to this film, you’ll notice that this is basically the “plot” of the entire book, the Not Oprah interviewing Jamie even says so. (Her meltdown on that show would land her on “Top 10 Celebrity Freakouts” lists for at least a decade to come).

Were this the real world, a developmental editor would have sat her down and showed her a three-act structure chart from ‘go’, if her manuscript even got a partial request to begin with. There’s no way this kind of thing would fly, even in a Middle Grade novel.

Final Thoughts

Read It And Weep is not a bad movie, just wildly inaccurate. Authors do not end up on TRL, have to put in a lot more work, and “Is Saves The World” probably wouldn’t get very far on its own merits.

But I love this movie. It’s the most mid-00s film ever made (she has a tablet PC with a touch screen, but not her own blog for crispysakes!)

This may look cool and modern, but that computer ways 20lbs, minimum

But it has a special place in my nostalgic little heart.

Have you seen this film or watched it after this breakdown?
What did you think?
Leave me a comment below!

inter_linked The Series is the fun, sarcastic story of a girl and her android.

Follow the adventures of Anny and WISR as they try to help every robot they can, while the hardest part of the journey is putting up with each other.

Absolutely free to read:
www.interlinkedtheseries.com

All photos copyright Disney unless otherwise stated, used for review purposes only. Please don’t sue, I don’t have any money because I’m a self-published author.

Go For Launch #4: (WO)MAN ON FIRE

The Good News: I already got some feedback and ideas from a lovely and talented member of my writing group which is appropriately named with a NYC + “Book” pun that isn’t the sordid “Booklyn”.

(image by Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)
To be fair, the “joke” basically writes itself.

The Bad News: My already shall-we-say’interesting’ job has me editing and formatting a 100+ page document that’s a hugely massive deal for the capital-P Project.

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So for the past week, I have barely had time to breathe, think, decide what to have for lunch, or think about my writing and the next week isn’t looking much saner.

Actually, that’s not true, I’ve been thinking a little about the second series now that the first is all the way written out.

This is what I wrote this week:

“You- you really brought a gun on our date?” he squeaked.
She nodded, “Yes, now hush, or you’ll give away our position.”

dun-Dunn-DUNNN! What does it mean? Stay tuned!

The Good News (but for you this time): At the end of the month, I’m opening up a Discord Server for my beta readers – there’s still time to sign up!

Read the story early, have a say in the story, maybe free stuff if I ever get rich and famous at the same time!

Interested? Leave a comment or shoot me an e-mail at November O’Malley (at) gmail (dot) com!

Word Count: Whatever it was last time I had a moment to write
Work/Life Balance: Teetery AF
Sanity Level: My World’s On Fire, How ‘Bout Yours

Go For Launch #2: PREFLIGHT

Hello, friends! It’s week 2, and after staying up to a regrettable hour, I’ve compiled all of the chapters of inter_linked into one Google Doc to get a good look at what’s left to be done.

The things that need to be replaced, the names that need to be changed, the descriptions that need fluffing up, and the metaphors that I accidentally used in virtually every chapter when I had them Scrivenered into separate documents.

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(Hush, it’s a verb)

I also spotted the last missing piece, one scene I have left to write before the plot is typed out and finished in its entirety.
Now just to edit.

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Gulp.

Word Count (as of Wednesday): 52,228
New Projects I Tried To Start This Week Despite Not Technically Finishing This One: 3 (if you count new planner planning – yay August!)
Panic Level: How am I actually going to get all this done/10

[Self-Care Month] Sipping the Tea

For the final week of Self-Care Month, I’ve reached out to some of your fellow writers in the community to talk about what tea – and other drinks – we enjoy when writing!

Avhlee

@AvhleeWrites/TeacupsAndTornPages.com

Passion fruit iced tea on hot days, or a decaf English breakfast latte in cold ones.

Serdar Yegulalp

@genjipress / GenjiPress.com

Heinekei — I MEAN ENGLISH BREAKFAST TEA

Elizabeth Mays

@EllaMays/JustAddTea.wordpress.com

My go to is green tea, but I also have a tea from Teavana called passion tango that I like.

Scott

@MorganBallantin/The Chaos Beast

Orange pekoe. I’ll fall back on English breakfast if necessary.

Rylann Watts

@RylannWatts1 / RylannWatts.com

Almond cinnamon dolce latte.

Erebus

Peppermint or Earl Grey

Luna Ann Koenig

@LunaAKoenig

Bam! My fave.

Luci Jewett

@LuciJewett

Chai with whipped cream!

C. Comrack

@ComrackC 

Jasmine tea. All day. I drink one cup of coffee with my treat when I sit to write.

Mindy A. Early

@mindyaearly / MindyAEarly.com

Tazo Ginger Green tea!

Natasha Watts

@NatashaWattsUp / NatashaWatts.net

I’m boring. Straight up green tea!

Hiiro Langley

@hiiro_langley

Whatever kind of generic tea this is:

Aedyn Brooks

@AedynBrooks

Harney & Sons – London Fog is my new favorite.

Nicole Scarano

@NicoleRScarano

I drink a lot of different stuff when I’m writing, but as far as tea I love David’s Tea. Their loose leaf tea is so good and they have crazy flavors (like tea with real fruit, popcorn, Chocolate, yogurt, or candies in them as well as the standard versions of tea)

Marissa Staib

@serynth 

My favorite drink to have when writing is water, because I can sip it regularly without having to think about how much I’ve been drinking.

Jennie Ritz

@jennieritz / JennieRitz.com

I’m lame over here. Just black coffee for me.

As for me…

Image result for whiskey bottle
(or maybe some nice Earl Grey iced with soymilk, don’t @ me, MOM)

I got over 100 responses so read some more here:

What do you like to drink when you write? Do you have a favorite kind of tea?

You can join the Writing Community in reading the coolest, awesomest, most tea-fueled science-fiction novel!

inter_linked The Series is the fun, sarcastic story of a girl and her android.

Follow the adventures of Anny and WISR as they try to help every robot they can, while the hardest part of the journey is putting up with each other.

Absolutely free to read:
www.interlinkedtheseries.com

[Self-Care Month] 20 Things To Do When Your Work Is Out on Submission

This month on the November O’Malley blog is being devoted to Self-Care for writers. Stay tuned in the following for more tips, tricks, and activities to improve your writing life and check

You’ve done it! You finished your project, it’s done, it’s edited, and now it’s time for a bunch of strangers to tear it letter from letter, word from word. It’s scary, it’s heart-pounding, it’s literally the worst thing ever. And the worst part is that you can’t go off and write some more like you do whenever you want to avoid the real world. If you thought editing was bad, you haven’t seen and/or felt anything yet.

But it’s okay.

Please breathe.

Because there’s plenty you can do to keep yourself sane. Or as sane as us writers can be:

  1. Make a playlist.
  2. Make an ambiance track.
  3. Make an aesthetic board or a Pinterest board
  4. Have a mini dance party for yourself!
  5. Go for a walk
  6. Go feed some ducks (PLEASE NOTE: Do not feed ducks bread! They like oats and halved grapes, bread makes them sick and fat.)
  7. Watch your favorite movie
  8. Watch a really bad movie
  9. Watch a movie you like but no one else seems to.
  10. Watch a movie you haven’t seen since you were a kid. undefined
  11. Read a book in your genre
  12. Read a book outside your genre or age group
  13. Find out what author in your genre and age group is next to yours alphabetically and read something of theirs. Be friendly with your future neighbors!
  14. Read the first thing that comes up when you look up “free ebook”, or a randomly numbered one.
  15. Randomly generate a word. Read the first free ebook when you look up that word.
  16. Bake something
  17. Try an origami project
  18. Make a new recipe for dinner
  19. Read some really, really terrible fanfiction
  20. Make yourself a cup of tea. Really focus on it, let yourself do nothing but just enjoy it.
Photo by Stokpic on Pexels.com

What do you like to do when you need a calm-down?
How do you keep yourself sane in the querying process?

Please share in the comments!

[Self-Care Month] Schadenfreudoptimism

This month is Self-Care Month where I share some tips for writers on being good to yourself – but without lavender-scented BS.

This is a concept that may seem a little mean, but I advocate so strongly for that I invented a word for it: Schadenfreudoptimism.

Basically, it just means having a guilty pleasure but using it to feel better about your career:

Step 1: Go to Your Local Library and Find Something Deliciously Trashy

Photo by Element5 Digital on Pexels.com

Its cover has a swirly font and a purple cover or conversely it has a terrible embossed foil illustration of a dragon, spaceship, or concept car. Either way, it looks like it came out of the 80s but the copyright date says last year. Yes. This is going to be a good time.

Not only that, but look at you getting out of the house! The air is incredibly airy today and they make the trees in ‘green’ now!

Step 2: Check Out Proudly

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Don’t use those self checkout thingies. You slap that mass-market chunk of tree down on the desk and politely ask to check out that book. Revel in any awkward looks and be sure to say thank you. Librarians work very hard and MLS’s are nothing to sneeze at.

This also counts as your human interaction of the day. Achievement Unlocked!

Step 3: Cuddle Up With Something Good

Photo by Free Photos.cc on Pexels.com

A glass of wine. A fudge chip cookie. A steaming mug of tea.

Whatever it is, as long as it’s tasty and makes you feel good inside, put it in your face!

Step 4: Enjoy

So here’s the thing about what I call the “junk food books”:

THEY GOT PUBLISHED.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

You went to the place where books are. You went to the shelf. And you found something wonderfully bad and had a good time reading it and some publisher somewhere believed in this book enough to bring it to life and now you are holding it in your very hands.

AND IF THEY CAN GET PUBLISHED, SO CAN YOU.

Stay tuned next week for some positive affirmations to improve your writing life!

I promise THIS book isn’t an embarrassingly awesome chunk of tree.

inter_linked The Series is the fun, sarcastic story of a girl and her android.

Follow the adventures of Anny and WISR as they try to help every robot they can, while the hardest part of the journey is putting up with each other.

Absolutely free to read:
www.interlinkedtheseries.com

Guest Post: J.M. Sullivan With “My Writing Process”

Hello, everyone! My guest this month needs no introduction, you’ve already seen her amazing writing insight on Writers On The Storm! Here is J.M. Sullivan talking about her writing process:

My Writing Process

So there’s a question I get a lot as an author, and it’s one I have a hard time answering, because honestly, it changes all the time.

Chances are if you are a writer, or know a writer, you’ve either heard or asked this question yourself. It’s something many people are interested in, and that’s, what’s your writing process like?

And, maybe I’m just different from most other authors, but aside from the general stages of panic and self doubt (which trust me, are ALWAYS there), I think the process of telling each story has been different each time.

That being said, there are a few constants which frame my overall process, and from there, I connect the dots. This is how it (usually) happens.

1. Planning

Before I begin, I have to figure out the basics of my story. To clarify, I am by no means what one would consider a ‘planner.’ My plans are more of a basic outline for what the overall story arc is going to look like and the main points my characters will hit along the way. After I create the skeleton outline, I know I’ve got the bones ready to hold the rest of my story up.

2. Drafting

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Once I have finished drafting, I begin writing. This is the part where my process gets tricky. Some writers have daily rituals and routines, word count goals, etc. I just write when I can and what I can. Some of my books I have written very quickly, and others (Cough Lost Boy cough) take an eternity. It’s complicated. Kind of like my brain.

3. Revising

Photo by Startup Stock Photos on Pexels.com

After I finish drafting (whenever that may be), I give myself a small break and then jump back in to revisions. This is where I fill plot holes and gaps that I left in the draft and clean up the messes I made—because what they say is true, first drafts ARE NOT pretty.

4. Re-Revising

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Then (usually somewhere in the middle of revising) I begin re-revising. This happens when a character decides they don’t ACTUALLY want to die, or that the whole middle of the book that I wrote for them isn’t good enough (I’m looking at YOU, Alice) and I end up rewriting a large portion of my original draft. Generally there is a lot of swearing, head banging, and self-loathing involved. Fun. Times.

5. Submit

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

When I FINALLY finish the revisions and I have a story that actually is closer to a book than a raging dumpster fire. It’s time to submit. This in itself is a whole other process, but unfortunately, that’s another blog post for another day.

Suffice it to say, there are a lot of mixed feelings once the story finally leaves my hands, but the culminating emotion is one I doubt I’ll ever get tired of.

Teacher by day, award-winning author by night, J.M. Sullivan is a fairy tale fanatic who loves taking classic stories and turning them on their head. When she’s not buried in her laptop, you can find her watching scary movies with her husband, playing with her kids, or lost inside a good book. Although known to dabble in adulting, J.M. is a big kid at heart who still believes in true love, magic, and most of all, the power of coffee. If you would like to connect with J.M., you can find her on social media at @jmsullivanbooks— she’d love to hear from you.

Her newest book Second Star is available now!

Galentines Guest Post

Hello, friends! It’s Galentine’s Day – the day before Valentine’s Day to celebrate the best ladyfriends a girl can have! Today I’m joined by one of my writing friends, Elizabeth Mays, to talk about some of the best buddies in fiction!

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A Dose of Girl Power for Galentine’s Day!

Let us take today to celebrate the friendships we’ve forged with other females in spite of the constant attempts of the patriarchy to pit us against each other through love triangles and lower wages!

In other words: Happy Galentine’s Day to all my wonderful, beautiful, ladies!

In all seriousness, though, Galentine’s Day is the better of the two holidays (the other being the dreaded Valentine’s Day… or Singles Awareness Day for those of us without a mate). It’s a day to celebrate our female friendships, and while I was joking earlier, there really seems to be a conspiracy to keep women working against each other instead of working with each other.

Especially in film and literature.

In a great many classic films and books, female friends in a story have a falling out, especially over a guy, only to spend the rest of the story being forced to realize that they were better off in the beginning.

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Admittedly, it is kind of an outdated trope; the first movie that comes to my mind when I think about it is Clueless, which is a movie older than most of my students…

 

On the other hand, when I sat down to write this post, I was struggling to find girl buds who weren’t actually sisters!

 

You’ve got the Bennett sisters from Pride and Prejudice and the Dashwood sisters from Sense and Sensibility. Both great works from Jane Austen in which at least one of the sisters is the protagonist of the story. As sisters, they are there to support one another, and occasionally guide them when they go astray (I’m looking at you, Lydia Bennett!).

Similarly, we have the March sisters from Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott. I vaguely remember reading a children’s version of this book when I was younger, and it was my fascination with Jo that perhaps helped shape me into a writer today. I was also a bit jealous of the idea of having siblings to share all of life’s secrets, especially sisters with whom you could share clothes and do your hair together and other things that normal siblings do. Even fight!

Later, when I had brothers, I was able to experience some of it, but it will never be the same as having a sister.

It is that sense of camaraderie, closeness, intimacy, a shared bond, or whatever you want to call it, that is so important to forming lasting believable relationships between characters.

But is it only available between sisters?

No, it’s not, but the female characters who form the strongest bonds are compared to sisters because of the strength and love shared between them like in The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood or The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

Both are about groups of friends who become as close as sisters.

Even the last book I read (or rather, the last book I finished) had two girls who were bound as sisters through magic: Truthwitch.

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So what’s the message?

That we are stronger together. That when women become friends, they create lasting bonds that are as hard to break as family ties.

I only touched on a very select few stories, but there are plenty out there. Do me a favor and drop some names of your favorite fictional girl-buds or sisters in the comments below. I’m always on the look for new stuff to read.

And then, find your favorite sister, be she blood-related or just a friend, and wish her a Happy Galentine’s Day!

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elizabeth-portElizabeth Mays is the best gal-friend a girl can have! When not writing at her website, JustAddTea.wordpress.com, she’s hosting the #JustAddTea twitter chat on Sunday mornings at 11 AM EST, joining Writers On The Storm, and teaching the youth the magic of friendship!

 

Twitter Writing Chats And You: A Comprehensive Guide

Writing chats are the best part of being an author on Twitter, in my somewhat-humble opinion. They are great opportunities to network, make friends, and think about your project, promotion, or platform in new and exciting ways.

What is a Writing Chat?

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These are weekly gatherings of writers under one hashtag that usually take place over an hour. Some of these chats are separated by genre, some are about writing itself, character building, world building, or networking.

I love when someone says something super profound or exactly on point. And our chat usually devolves into chatting about baked goods, so there’s always fun stuff going on.
Mercedes Siler, co-host of #HappyWritingChat

How Do You Find a Chat?

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Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

One Twitter account, Free Writing Events keeps a schedule of chats as well as other daily challenges and events in the Tweet-o-sphere, their site has a full directory and list. Also, keep a lookout for what your friends are saying and sharing, they can help point you in the right direction!

How Do They Work?

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Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Most chats follow the same or similar structure. For the first 10-15 mins, everyone is invited to introduce themselves and are asked a small question about their progress, goals, or just to share a favorite GIF.

Then, every 5-10 mins, the host asks a question for everyone to answer, typically these follow a single weekly theme.

TIP: When answering, don’t forget to include the chat’s hashtag! If you forget it, delete your old tweet and copy it with the hashtag so it’ll show up in the chat’s stream. These groups can be pretty fast-paced, so few will go back to see what you said!

Depending on the length and timing of the chat, usually they’re comprised of 5 or more questions. After all the questions are done, the host might make announcements, share news, or discuss the next week’s topic!

Tips and Tricks

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Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Retweet, don’t reply to the question tweet! 
This helps people find the questions easier when the initial tweet gets buried under loads of answers – and it puts it in your own Twitter feed instead of just a long list of replies!

If you join late, jump into the latest question, don’t go back!
Not only does it mess up the continuity of the stream, but if you focus on earlier questions, you might miss the next ones!

ALWAYS REMEMBER THE HASHTAG.

Hosting Your Own Chat

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Photo by Helena Lopes on Pexels.com

The most challenging part is coming up with topics for weekly chats & questions for those topics. I rely heavily on my community to help with these topics and also sometimes steal them from other chats!
Dianna Gunn, host of

Thinking about starting up your own group? Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Pre-schedule all of your questions and introduction tweets
The last thing you want to worry about is getting them all out at once when you’re busy chatting with everyone! Free software like TweetDeck and HootSuite can help you manage your timing.

Even if you will be fully present and chatting at your chat, pre-scheduling your tweet questions will not only keep your chat running smooth and within its timeframe, but allow you, the host, The partake in the chat as well without worrying about when the next topic/question needs to be posted.
Autumn Lindsey, host of #WM_Chat

Make a graphic

Putting the questions in a graphic can make them easier to find and stand out as well as keep the chat cohesive. Be sure to include the question text in the Tweet, however, for users who use screen-reader software.

Have countdown tweets
The best way to get people interested is to schedule some tweets a day, an hour, and five minutes before the chat starts.

I would say the most challenging part of hosting a chat is timing. It’s really hard to find a time that will work for everyone, and in reality, with all the different time zones of the world, you won’t ever find that “perfect” time slot.
Autumn Lindsey, host of #WM_Chat

Be present
That being said, just scheduling a handful of tweets isn’t the same as hosting! Be there, chat and joke with your guests, and make everyone feel welcome, and they will come back week after week.

Pick the right hashtag – and be ready to defend it!
Sure, #TheWriteStuff or #WriteHereWriteNow seem like fun puns, but everyone and their dog has made those jokes and it’ll be confusing sharing your amazing chat with a whole bunch of other extraneous nonsense.
But once your chat gets popular, some people will misuse it – either accidentally in confusion or as a way to latch onto the attention the hashtag gets. Be prepared to explain what the hashtag is for and to ask people to stop using it improperly if it comes down to it!

Give it a test run!
Some chats – like #HappyWritingChat – have open slots for guest hosts, or usual hosts will be taking time off. Volunteering to host can give you lots of great experience and exposure to an already-established audience while helping you figure out the nuance and rhythm of the chat.

We have to remember we all win together, and those authors just starting and writing their first word are just as important as those who have major publishing deals in your chat.
– Dionne Abouelela, co-host of #HappyWritingChat

 

Have you ever participated in a writing chat? Which ones do you recommend?
Hosts – share your own tips and tricks in the comments below!

6 Video Games With Actually Decent Writing

When I’m not writing a novel, novella, and multiple short stories for anthologies, making friends on Twitter and falling deep into the infinite vortex that is TV Tropes, I am a massive video game nerd.

Video games have long been criticized for poor writing and use of the medium, which is understandable considering how young interactive media is compared to film, TV, and music. Sometimes we just don’t know how to best use what we’ve got.

That being said, there have been more than a few standouts, games that rise above the rest and give us writers something to really aspire to.

And if you’re a bookish nerd and haven’t really delved into gaming, these are a few I highly recommend:

The Elder Scrolls

The Elder Scrolls series began with a shaky start in 1994 with Arena and didn’t exactly hit its stride until its third installment, Morrowind, in 2002. Even then, it had already established a rich world with huge and new places to explore, intriguing and multi-faceted races and cultures, and action-packed stories and things to do. For close to 25 years, Bethesda has put on a show of this breathtaking universe that always has something new.

The most interesting part of The Elder Scrolls series is also how it treats canon and information through its storytelling. Players are invited to see the world how they would like to whether it’s as a Viking Who Beats Up Dragons or whether they’d like to investigate the nuances of this strange environment where the gods may sleep, characters may or may not realize they are in a video game, and the stars are mere holes in the sky.

Saint’s Row

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Vulgar, crude, and obscene, Saints Row is a series that chronicles the life and times of a street gang, The Third Row Saints. While it may have begun as nothing more than a simple Grand Theft Auto imitator, by the second game the writers really amped up the utter ridiculousness with such shameless abandon that it’s hard not to have a good time.

Even though later installments have completely jumped the proverbial shark into true madness, there’s still a charm to a well-written series that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Mass Effect

BioWare’s oft controversial science-fiction series may come with more than a few tumultuous concepts and choices, but no one can doubt that it comes packaged with a complex and interesting world to explore.

Making friends with alien races like the warlike Romanesque Turians and floating neon jellyfish people, exploring the galaxy’s uncharted waters, and creating your own unique character through social decisions has never been so much fun.

It says a lot that even ten years after its initial release, the ending of the final installment is still hotly debated to this day.

Portal

Full of snarky banter and cutting wit, Valve’s Portal duology of first-person puzzlers was revolutionary in more ways than one.

Although the first game only featured the voice talents of the remorselessly murderous AI GLaDOS, the second game expanded on their cast and storytelling featuring Ricky Gervais alum Stephen Merchant as well as an enjoyable but ultimately heartbreaking co-op mode that presented a flavorful story without much by way of a script.

We still eagerly await for the day Valve can count to 3.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

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Another BioWare make, Knights of the Old Republic is considered one of the best-written and most compelling Star Wars game ever created. Set almost 4,000 years before the first chronological movies, the studio was given free reign to create their own story and devise their own cast of captivating characters that aren’t named ‘Skywalker’.

It took home multiple prestigious awards for its creative storytelling and its twist still has fans pining for a certain Sith Lord to remain canon even after Kathleen Kennedy’s purge of the Expanded Universe, landing this game in the ‘Legends’ universe.

Bastion

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Bastion, the debut game of indie developers Supergiant Games, is a unique oddity on this list because the story is presented in a completely different way than anything else: the game is fully narrated. Everything from spending too much time destroying crates to the numerous deaths of the player character (whose only given name is “The Kid”) has its own line of dialogue in the smooth caramel tones of the game’s voice-over.

It also features unique universe of diverse races and an out-of-the-ordinary dual-wielding mechanic.

Which games did I miss? Any of your favorites not make the list?
Let me know in the comments!