Sunday, December 5, 2010

TaleBait's Get Hooked Write Away Contest!


Hook your readers in the first few lines, or starve for attention. Your hook, or opener, sets up the tale and pulls your readers in. TaleBait’s Get Hooked Write Away Contest challenges you to write a hook, 100 word maximum, that will get readers reading and writers writing. Sharpen your craft and increase your creativity.

Winners receive a critique of 30 pages by a literary agent or a publisher/editor! You may submit pages of your manuscript for professional review. Skipper will critique the winning hooks.

We’re looking for entries tasty enough to launch a tale on Hooks & Storylines. Your hook should engage readers as well as signal a direction for writers to add to your opener. You may set up a character, mood, setting, time—whatever sparkles enough to make us bite.


Winners receive a whopping cash reward
 (if you calculate it on a per-word basis)!
1st place – $25, first choice of critique, and byline on a new story in Hooks & Storylines
2nd place –$15, second choice of critique, and byline on a new story in Hooks & Storylines
3rd place – $10, critique, and byline on a new story in Hooks & Storylines

No Entry Fee

Skipper doesn’t like too many rules, but we need few:
Word count 100 max
Hooks must be your original writing
Multiple submissions accepted
Submit hook on www.TaleBait.com by selecting “cast a line” on the landing page, or use the “contact us” page. Only submissions received through the website will be considered. Enter your name and a valid email address.
In the message box—Identify the category for your hook: Sci Fi & Fantasy, Romance, Mom’s Escape, Mystery & Suspense, Regional Flavor, or Skipper’s Choice (anything that strikes Skipper’s fancy). Enter your hook.
Winners will receive instructions for submitting 30 pages of their choice for critique.
Deadline December 20, 2010. Winners announced January 2011.

If you have questions, contact: TaleBaitHookContest@gmail.com

The Judges

Denise Little, Literary Agent, Ethan Ellenberg Agency

“Denise Little worked for Barnes & Noble/B. Dalton Bookseller as a bookstore manager and as their national book buyer for science fiction, fantasy, and romance.  She launched the company’s genre magazine, Heart to Heart, and wrote it for its first two years of existence. She then joined Kensington Publishing, where she had her own imprint, Denise Little Presents. After that, she became a book packager, working as executive editor at Tekno Books for Dr. Martin H. Greenberg. She’s now an agent with the Ethan Ellenberg Agency in New York.http://deniselittle.wordpress.com/

Ethan Ellenberg Agency. “Storytelling is a great calling and we are here to provide professional representation for storytellers, of both fiction and nonfiction…. We only take clients we truly believe in. We take our work very seriously and perform our duties to the highest standards. No matter what you've heard, this business is open to new talent. We are open to new talent.” http://www.ethanellenberg.com


John Tait, Editor, American Literary Review

John Tait's stories have appeared in journals such as TriQuarterly, Prairie Schooner, Crazyhorse, The Sun, and Michigan Quarterly Review and have been reprinted in New Stories from the Southwest and The Mysterious Life of the Heart. His work has won four national awards including the Tobias Wolff Award for Fiction and the H.E. Francis Award for Fiction. He is an Associate Professor of fiction writing at the University of North Texas and editor of American Literary Review.

 American Literary Review is a national literary journal that has been published biannually since 1990. ALR is committed to publishing excellent poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction by writers at all stages in their careers.  ALR also offers an annual three genre contest with $3000 in prizes. http://www.engl.unt.edu/alr


Skipper, Captain of TaleBait.com 

Prior to joining the Center for Teaching Excellence of Southern Methodist University, Skipper taught in SMU’s Writing Program for more than eight years. She also taught tech writing and rhetoric at the University of North Texas and the University of Texas at Dallas, where she earned both her undergraduate and graduate degrees. She is an experienced marketing communications and public affairs professional who has published nonfiction articles on diverse topics. Her current work in progress is a middle-grade fiction. The impetus for her website for writers, TaleBait.com, was to put more pleasure and creativity into her writing. 

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Angler News

Simon1973 is offering an online writing course. Here's the the blurb:
Imagine a writing course that comes to you right where you live and works with you as you are!  One that caters to your distinct personality while teaching you valuable skills and bringing out your innate talent!  Online and convenient, “Think like a Writer” is the course you’ve been looking for!  For details, click here: http://www.einaijournal.blogspot.com/


Monday, October 4, 2010

Plotters & Pantsters

In a recent discussion on Linked In, I posed the question: Are you a plotter or a pantster?
Here’s the post: Do you map out your plotlines in advance, or write by the seat of your pants—and why? I'm curious because I've observed mixed success in installments on my website, TaleBait. I'm thinking about setting up a collaborative storyline with guidance for the plot to see if it will improve the quality of the posts. Personally, I'm a hybrid. I need a clear direction in mind, but lots of room for discovery as I write.
The responses revealed that virtually everyone is a hybrid. Good stories need creativity and structure. After a bit of research, I found several plot theories and plot maps and selected one to test with the story, Allie’s Choice.
Please join us in spawning creativity while experimenting with a plot plan. I hope this activity proves to be a fun skill-builder for all of us. 

Friday, October 1, 2010

Why do you write?

I typically hear two answers to the question “why do you write?” The it’s-in-my-soul types claim they write to express themselves and enjoy the creative process. That’s straight-forward and honest. If sincere, they can be happy journaling for themselves or scribbling trifles to share with friends.

The second group says “I want to be published,” aka paid to write. This group gets hazy, even to themselves. If you just want to be published and paid to write, it’s not that tough if you write coherently. But you may have to write about topics that bore you. I’ve taken assignments that were a total snore-fest because I needed the work.

The fuzzy group-twos are those who say “I want to be published,” but mean “I want someone to pay me to print and sell what I feel like writing.” Admittedly, some lucky—and talented—souls have achieved this remarkable feat. That’s what keeps the optimists among us typing away.

I’ve encountered several writers in critique groups who claim they want to improve, but spend more time justifying their prose than listening to feedback, as if they’d have the opportunity to explain awkward passages to readers. Sometimes it’s hard to see your own mistakes and motivations. Maybe we’re all fuzzy twos.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Skipper's Shorts

Skipper's Choice
Vampires' Buffet
REEL It IN! Write the conclusion now.

Characters
John – a vampire and member of Hemoholics Anonymous; married to Julie.
Julie - a vampire and member of Hemoholics Anonymous; married to John.

Candice - human--or werewolf?
Dante - vampire with a fake tan and a tattoo
Margaret - someone at the meeting
Frederica - friend of J&J
Thomas - friend of J&J

Locations
Sunset Supper & Sleep – a food kitchen and overnight shelter for homeless people.

Plot
Do-gooder vampires try to restrain themselves while running a homeless shelter and food kitchen. A new vampire, Dante, leaves with Candice. She escapes him. Dante returns to the shelter and feeds on a homeless woman.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Keep Your Stories Straight

Mystery & Suspense
Iced

Characters
Icepick Schmidt – Real Estate Attorney. Made a lot of money on condo-pushing land grabbers. Called Icepick because of his cold-blooded approach to business. Formerly worked night-shift at Sunset Horizons Mortuary cleaning up bodies. Dating Ramona infrequently. Partners with Pinky Tiberri in exotic bird smuggling scheme. He was in Mexico on a bird smuggling run when Lilli was killed. Currently out of jail on bond. Driving a rental car (white Malibu); his is in impound. Paying for Lilli's funeral expenses.Smoker.
Lilli – Icepick’s ex wife. Found dead on the floor of Icepick’s office. Nasty divorce. Took him “to the cleaners” in the divorce. Known for perfect manicures and Manolo shoes. Medical Examiner's report says cause of death is gunshot to the forehead, but Dandy Dave found evidence that there's another cause of death. Lilli was the Malibu Madame and managed expensive call girls.
Pinky Tiberri – Icepick’s partner in smuggling exotic birds from Mexico. Read ME's report when she went to Sunset Horizons Mortuary. Left suddenly. Drives a truck. Went to warehouse after she left the mortuary. Showed up at LAPD office in jeans and an orange tank top to see Detective Greer. Told Greer about Lilli's after hour activities.
Ramona – Icepick’s on-again, off-again girlfriend.
George aka G-Man - works front desk at Sunset Horizons.
Dandy Dave - works at Sunset Horizons. Preparing Lilli's body.
Ted - Grows a crop in a warehouse space adjoining the Wing Bucket. Builds furniture to sell on the internet.

Detective Dirk Greer - LAPD detective investigating Lilli's death. May be involved with Malibu Madame.
Darryl Halloway - aka Numbers. LAPD financial forensic guru.

Abe Stinson - medical examiner. 


Locations
Icepick’s office – On Bilbao Place in Los Angeles.
Sunset Horizons Mortuary – where Icepick worked in the past. Lilli taken to Sunset Horizons after autopsy.
Wing Bucket - Nickname for the warehouse where the exotic birds are stored. Emptied out by Pinky.
LAPD homicide unit office - Dirk Greer's office.

Plot
Body of ex-wife found on floor of Icepick Schmidt’s law office. L.A.P.D. arrested Icepick and released him. He was smuggling exotic birds from Mexico on the night of the murder. A message about an open door prompted Icepick to arrive at his office at the same time as police to discover body. ME report lists gunshot as cause of death, but evidence of head trauma and strangulation are not noted. Someone is trying to frame Icepick. Pinky goes to warehouse to load a box in her truck. Pinky empties out the warehouse. Icepick discovers an ice pick left outside the warehouse. Detective Greer thinks the case against Icepick may be "too easy." Pinky arrives at LAPD office to talk with Greer. Pinky tells Greer that Lilli was the Malibu Madame, but she thinks he already know about the Malibu Madame because he's her inside partner. Pinky claims Abe is involved with MM's business too. 

What we don’t know yet: Who dun it? When, where or why Lilli died. Who would want to frame Icepick? Was Dirk Greer involved in Lilli's murder? Abe Stinson?

Sci Fi & Fantasy
Destiny’s Annex

Characters
Matt – Human. Eats frosted cereal. Two ex-wives. Is captured an Destiny's Annex and placed on a transporter. Undercover Special Agent Matt Cooper.
Amand Schuster -Dap calls Matt Mr. Schuster, but Matt claims he does not know Schuster. Schuster has more than one heart. Is President of something. Is dead.
Malthusian Grock Warrior – Doorman at Destiny’s Annex. 2.5 meters tall. Cost to employ him nightly implies significant commitment. Subdued by Rinbin's singing.

RinBin — a Nibelanjer. Lanky, uncharacteristically emotional for a level-headed species. Six hands; three eyes. Arrived in a cab with a Decoder ring. Nibelanjers are notoriously literal minded.. Will not say where he is from. His beautiful singing voice subdues the Grock Warrior. He rescued Matt at Tau Pont.
Ando Weir - Lanky, grey skin, large eyes. Edgy, grating voice. Dap's "flunkie."
Dap Cord - Mastermind hired to kidnap someone in the line. Planned opening of Destiny's Annex to attract the victim and a crowd. Is watching from the club entrance.
Dr. Belkin - scanned Matt to verify him as Schuster. Paid Dap and subsequently learned Matt was an imposter.
Web Mother - person at control center where RinBin reports.

Locations
Destiny’s Annex – a disco. Perhaps not on Earth.
Tau Pont - fifth planet of the Tau Mega system. Rinbin tracked Matt to this planet.


Plot
Matt followed instructions using secret decoder ring found in a cereal box. He took a cab to Destiny’s Annex, a disco. A long line of beings, each with a decoder ring, wait to enter the club. While in line Matt speaks with a secretive Nibelanjer. Cost to employ Grock Warrior as doorman implies a big commitment. Dap and Ando are watching from the club entrance, waiting to kidnap someone in the line. They plan to displace everyone in line to cover up the target. Matt is captured and placed in a transport. Rinbin is left at Destiny's Annex after he subdues the Grock Warrior. Dap calls Matt "Mr. Schuster," but Matt claims his does not know a Schuster. Rinbin arrives at Tau Pont to retrieve his probe and save Matt, in spite of the fact that he was ordered to return home. Matt wanted to be captured in place of Schuster and is angry at Rinbin for saving him.

Romance
Allie’s Choice
Allie is coming back! Catch up and Weigh In now..
Characters
Allie – 27 years old. Divorced. Conflicted about reunion with Drew. Had a crush on Drew since the 5th grade. Drew Pearce – Broke Allie’s heart and left on her 17th birthday.
Jason – Allie’s ex-husband.
Tommy - Allie's son. Attends school.
They - Unknown people who may have been looking for Drew ten years ago for unknown reasons.
Tina - Allie's friend at work.


Locations
Allie’s home – no details
Allie's office - no details

Plot
Slept with Drew the same night he returned to her life. Had not seen him since her 17th birthday. Drew visited Allie to make amends. He did not call Allie after he disappeared ten years ago because "they would have found me." Tommy awakens before Drew leaves in the morning. Tommy saw Allie push a man out the door in the morning. Tina observes Allie acting "weird." Jason picks Tommy up after school and learns that a strange man was at the house.

What we don’t know yet: What's going to happen next? Who was Drew hiding from ten years ago and why?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Dont' Read Anything Titled Musings

I clicked on a link and landed on another blog titled, “Musings on [insert something here].”
Honestly, I do not read anything with “musings” in the title, unless I absolutely have to for some inescapable reason. The very word,musings, means thoughts that are especially aimless and unsystematic. If you don’t take the time to organize, edit, and polish your thoughts before sharing them with me, why should/would I want to give you my time to decipher your ramblings?


I believe a writer must consider the audience and purpose for every piece of writing. If you are your own audience and the purpose is to explore your thoughts—that’s fine, but it’s probably best to keep it tucked away in a drawer or personal file. Hmm, I guess I should be grateful to writers who accurately label their slop as musings so I know not to squander my time reading it.


By the way, my audience for this little rant was mostly me. The purpose—to express my impatience with self-absorbed writers. Hmm, sounds something like musings. But I kinda warned you—“Musings” is included in the title.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

New Prize Winners!

Congratulations to Ivory, JimGrigsby, nubago and saclamb! Thanks for joining the action on TaleBait.

Watch for the Get Hooked--Write Away Contest soon. I'm working on the details now. Who will write the best new hooks?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Test the Water!

Explore these new features in Open Water:

  • 5 star rating system for Open Water stories
  • Email notification when someone comments on your story
  • Recent Activity list
  • Ability to sort stories by ratings
  • See stories by opening a category or by rolling cursor over the category name

I’m very excited about the new features and think they will greatly improve your experience in Open Water. Thank you for joining in the fun—and please invite your friends too. Jump in – the water’s better than ever!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Prize Winners

Congratulations to the latest $50 prize winners Skyking and Boardpres! Catch Skyking's story, No Sweat for Frank, in Open Water. And read the installments to Hooks & Storylines added by Boardpres. Great bait, Anglers!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Angler News

Catch one of Ivory’s stories on Open Water – “Soccer with the Birds.”

I like the story, but I’m not sure how I feel about the ending. Is it happy or sad? I don’t think it really matters which emotion the story evokes. Perhaps it’s a sign of a story’s complexity when we are left wondering rather than walloped with one idea. What do you think? You’re invited to give Ivory a comment.

Also check out Ivory’s new blog, Becoming a Novelist.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Kick Start Your Creativity

Good writing balances control and creativity. I admit control often overtakes my writing process. I tend to prefer editing to originating text, probably because it’s safer. Polishing prose rewards me with a sense of satisfaction when a sentence finally sings. Yeah, I’m a sucker for alliteration too. And it's that self awareness about my writing that triggers my inner control queen. It also kills creativity.

Creativity is scary. I have to give myself permission to be silly, senseless, or shocking to get to the free-flowing ease of spontaneity and ingenuity. Permission to slip over the edge of acceptability in private is one thing, but sharing those semi-psycho fragments in public is another matter, especially if I hope to sell the piece to an employer, client, or publisher.

Headlines for marketing materials are where I can go off the deep end. Hey, it’s got to get attention, right? I’ve seen those looks: “Wow, you’ve gone too far.” “I don’t get it.” “That’s dumb.” “How’d you come up with that?” I’ve learned to self-edit before sharing every thought.

So how can we channel creativity and test the waters? TaleBait provides a safe harbor for spawning creativity.Writers can play (and work) together to spark one another’s imaginations. You can choose to sign on with your real name if you want to be recognized, or use an alias to explore new styles.

When you contribute to the collaborative, continuous stories on
Hooks & Storylines, you absolutely cannot control the outcome, no matter how hard you try. On one hand, the lack of control may seem frustrating; on the other, it’s freeing. You write for the simple joy of creating without constraint (other than keeping the characters consistent and the story compelling, please). I can tell you from personal experience that the exercise of posting multiple alternative outcomes has improved my skills for writing fiction.

Open Water gives you a venue to control and share your writing, from silly to serious. You decide what to post and ask for the type of feedback or collaboration you want.

TaleBait helps you explore the depths of your imagination.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Cross Training for Writers

Some writers limit themselves to one genre. They may prefer one category or style. And it’s certainly comfortable to stay within the area that’s rewarded us with the most success. But in my experience, limiting myself to one area gets boring, and my writing can feel stale, formulaic, more boring.

The refereed, continuous storylines on TaleBait allow me to stretch different writing muscles and make fresh mental connections. It’s cross training for the brain.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The State of Having Written

Do you actually like to write? I don’t. I prefer the state of having written. Sure, there are moments when a good idea or phrase comes together. Those moments are enjoyable, but more often than not, I’m uncomfortable during the fingers-on-keyboard-butt-in-the-chair phase of writing. That is, this very moment as I type.

Part of the problem is that I want to edit as I go along. I confess I once spent 1.5 hours on a single sentence. I wanted to move on, but I just couldn’t let go. It was a miserable 1.5 hours. I kept thinking I was close to getting the sentence right, but not quite there.

And I’m critical of writers who expect me to read their rambling, wordy musings. I’m offended that they think their time is too precious to spend editing, but my time is so unimportant that I should be expected to read through their dalliances. Perhaps part of this annoyance comes from the years I suffered through student essays that were hastily written and stretched to hit the required length.

This discomfort with writing contributed to my development of TaleBait. I want to enjoy writing, to have fun, to explore. When I’m not solely responsible and can’t control the outcome, it’s easier to let go. Drop a line and let’s play.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Endless Edits

I recently read the last chapter of my middle grade fiction to a critique group. Now it’s time for yet another round of edits to incorporate the group’s suggestions and address weak spots. I truly appreciate their advice and look forward to reworking the story. But should I read the next round of revisions to the group?

Each time you present a piece of writing, you’re likely to get another opinion. When is the process finished? Hmm, the answer may be that it’s finished when it’s good. I’m sure you see the problem. There’s always room for improvement, a better word, a more powerful image, a character detail, tighter construction.

At some point you have to declare the work good enough and release it. And then prepare for another round of edits if it’s picked up by an agent or publisher.

How do you know when it’s time to submit your book? How many rounds of edits do you share with your critique group?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I had to admit I was a word nerd when

I had to admit I was a word nerd when I got excited about a great price on an unabridged dictionary at Barnes & Noble, one with a four inch spine. I thought, Wow that must include almost everything! Like the huge dictionary at the library on a stand because it’s too heavy to lift. Of course, I bought it.


Maybe I could have maintained my “normal person” fa├žade if I had been alone when I purchased the massive book, but my husband was with me. He already knew I had word-nerd proclivities, so he didn’t intervene; he just gave me that you’re-kidding-right look.
I remember when being called a nerd was a real insult. I wanted to be cool. Didn’t you? So interactions with other word nerds were cultish. We spoke about our little fetishes privately, like drug addicts.


Today, I’ve owned up to my inner nerd. I recently discovered, Jasper Fforde’s The Well of Lost Plots. We’re talking word-nerd crack. Hardcore wordplay. There’s no going back into the closet now, no way to hold onto the image of respectable mystery or history reader. Once you’ve crossed into Jurisfiction, character exchange programs, and grammasites, the Cheshire Cat is out of the . . . okay, time to stop now.


When did you admit you’re a word nerd? Please add a comment.


Monday, February 15, 2010

Do you want to be right or readable?

The obvious answer to that question is: both. So why would I bring it up? A few years ago I taught a short course on grammar to a group of adults. I assumed the people who signed up for the course were interested in improving the quality of their writing. For some, this was true. But a few, one in particular, seemed more interested in discussing the nuances of “the rules” than in generating readable prose.

The problem student’s not-so-hidden agenda for taking the class was to be able to win arguments with her boss. She wanted to argue her rightness and someone else’s wrongness. Her questions went along the lines of “but which punctuation would you use if.” The situations she posed became absurd, and the resulting, technically-correct sentences just sucked.

At some point you need to get past merely satisfying the rules and rewrite a sentence when it’s not working. “The rules” are more relaxed in fiction than in non-fiction and business communications. We get more leeway in fiction. We are encouraged to develop a distinctive voice. And you can get away with anything in dialogue. In non-fiction grammar counts more because you must maintain credibility. A serious slip in the conventions of grammar will undercut your expertise.

Besides, in many cases these days, one person’s rule may be another’s preference.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Critique Conundrum

Critiques in a writers’ group or peer edits in a classroom suffer the same conundrum. Writers and editors may be mismatched in two ways, writing skill and goal of the critique.

Those of us who write by choice tend to think favorably of our skills. Otherwise we’d run from the task. But let’s face it; we’re not all great or even good writers. So how do we know when to listen to the advice of others? How do we know if we’re the stronger or weaker link?

Most critique remarks reflect personal preference. Sure, the rule mongers among us delight in pointing out technical details, but technical accuracy alone does not a delightful sentence make. Style counts. In a one-on-one situation, identifying the stronger writer may be nebulous. Our egos may block our objectivity. In a group a general consensus usually emerges, and you can ignore the lone jerk who hated your favorite phrase.

In a non-professional setting, negotiating the pitfalls of mismatched goals can be trickier. Do we really want to know the truth about our precious piece of prose? Or do we mostly want approval? If asked, we say we want the truth. But we might be disappointed or discount what we hear.

As editors, most of us want to be helpful, not hurtful. But what’s more helpful: “this is really good” or a line-by-line rip? Clearly, something in the middle is probably best, but where’s the line? The strong/weak dichotomy plays a role again.

I’ve seen stronger writers offer lame praise as kindness or in exasperation that the work is so unsalvageable that it’s not worth the effort to comment. And weaker writers may go for the rip, either doing their helpful best or unconsciously compensating for their shortcomings.

Identify the audience and purpose for the writing that you’re sharing. And please be honest. I’d love to hear a request along the line of, “Here’s my journal entry. I think it’s great. Please tell me you agree.” Or “I’m submitting this book for publication to XYZ. Be brutal.”

Please add a comment and share how you overcome the critique conundrum.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Identify Your Ideal Writing Environment

Although I don’t consider myself a morning person, I prefer writing in the morning, in my pajamas. I have breakfast, brush my teeth, and wash my face, but if I spend the time to shower and dress, I might get sidetracked and not get my “butt on” the chair. (I attended a conference where the speaker passed out buttons as a reminder to writers to stay seated at the computer. Amazing how easily we get distracted.) If I have to go to the office to write, I prefer to start the writing project immediately after checking emails.

Over the years, I’ve learned a few of my major distracters and a few habits that I now accept as part of my writing process. First, my work area needs to be reasonably straight, not too many things out of place. I don’t have to clean or file everything, but I do need a tidy area. And it’s best if I close Outlook.

I sometimes play music, no words just instrumentals. However, I have one or two CDs in another language that work as white noise. Since I don’t know what the words are they don’t distract me. But I can’t have a singer filling my head with “oh baby” or “moonlight” or “party tonight” or whatever when I’m stuck on a word.

I’ve learned that I’m not always procrastinating when I wait a few days to begin writing. I used to berate myself for avoiding a project. Now I realize that sometimes I need time to let ideas bubble. Clearly, there’s a line here; bubbling and blowing off are dangerously similar. Bubbling may also take the form of walking. When I’m stuck, I may need to walk to the kitchen for another cup of tea or around the office to clear my head. As long as I’m still thinking about the writing project, I’m still working.

One Angler writes a monthly fashion feature in a local magazine. She claims she does her best work when deadlines are pressing. I need time to edit. I like to leave the piece alone for a bit and come back to it with fresh eyes. Another Angler shared that she likes to have her dog beside her. As long as my pets are quiet, I don’t care if they’re close or not.

Identify your ideal writing environment so you can reach your zone more quickly. When you know certain factors help while others hinder, you can control the situation and improve your chances of staying on target. Or at least have a fighting chance, until the dogs bark, the emails ping, the phone rings, the chair squeaks, and so on.

Please add a comment below and share your Ideal Writing Environment.

Angler Updates

Welcome to members of the Linked In group, Aspiring Writers. http://tinyurl.com/aspiringwriters Glad to have you on board as Anglers.

Congrats! One of our published Anglers, Texasrangersfan (aka Kathleen Sullivan), co-authored a new book, Our White Boy. http://www.ourwhiteboy.com/

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Trolling TaleBait

The activity on TaleBait is building. In case you haven’t ventured far from the landing page yet, here are a few tidbits to explore and enjoy.

Bloodsuckers wanted. I’ve had a request for a Vampire story on Hooks & Storylines. Drop me a line to suggest a Hook if you’re attracted to the undead. I’m sure we’ll cast a line that’s O Positively dripping with appeal.

Don’t miss Allie’s Choice in the Romance Category. TexasWordsmith got us underway with a Nice Twist that’s deliciously naughty.

In Open Water, a few Anglers seek comments and collaboration: The Dream, Central Heat & Air, Fable of One Footprint, and Southern Belle Hell.

My current Open Water favorites are Central Heat & Air, Reading to the Dog, and The Pause. Each story contains something fresh and unexpected.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Choose Your Identity

Do you want readers to know you as a writer? Maybe you’re published and want to show your style to expand your following. Use an identifiable name.

Do you want to explore new styles and genres, but worry about falling flat? Maybe you’re a nonfiction writer and want to test the waters in Sci Fi, Romance or Mystery. Use an alias.

Do you want to improve your writing and lack confidence about your skills? Use an alias.

Do you want to keep your options open? Create two Angler profiles, identifiable and alias.

TaleBait serves a diverse group of writers, each harboring different motivations for sharing ideas. As the site’s activity grows I hope to offer several opportunities. Published writers can get attention by sparkling in Hooks & Storylines and sampling their work on Open Water. My plans for the site include a means for published authors to promote their work through Angler Profiles.

Aspiring authors can refine their skills and catch the attention of others. I’m looking for tales on Hooks & Storylines to publish as “Best of TaleBait 2010.” If your submissions are voted into the storyline you will be credited.

Dabblers can enjoy a free 15 minute imagination vacation anytime. Dive in or dip – make a splash and feel refreshed.

Here’s a look at a few Angler names and descriptions:
Wordlinger. Wordlinger is like a Nerdlinger. A nerd who’s a word freak. Hmm, maybe that’s redundant.
Ruphass. One cool cat.
Litmoo. Author of Lost in LitMOO, a book for kids that captivated 150 fourth-graders and their teachers at readings in local public schools. This engaging story for 8 to 11-year–olds combines contemporary and classic themes in an amusing and fast-paced suspense/jeopardy story. Distinctive, vivid imagery and engaging characters make Lost in LitMOO a fully engrossing environment.
Jack. Retired professional sumo wrestler now working as a part time surgeon at the Gun Barrel City Amputation and Lobotomy Clinic. In my spare time, I am a consultant for the regional Federal Reserve in Dallas and work on my collection of antique elephant turds.

Add a comment below to guide us to your Angler Profile.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Do You Have Control Issues?

Gender-neutral language was a zero-tolerance issue for me as a rhetoric teacher. Probably because I grew up reading he and him in print and was told those terms included me. Bull. When many texts were written he and him meant precisely what they mean today – men, not women and men.

I explained to students that when they choose to use male pronouns in place of gender-neutral pronouns, they choose to exclude me. As a writer you have complete control over the words you choose to put on that blank screen or page. You are the Master of that Universe. What power!

Some of us are reluctant to let go of control in our writing and squirm when our contribution on Hooks & Storylines doesn’t end up directing the story as we planned. A few anglers have expressed a bit of frustration to me: Why isn’t someone following up on what I started? Where did that name come from? I named her something else. How did so-and-so get from career A to career B?

These discussions reminded me of the difficulties rhetoric teachers face when crafting a writing prompt. What we think is perfectly clear may be interpreted differently. I was delighted with the hook an Angler suggested for Sci Fi & Fantasy. However, I changed Heaven’s Annex to Destiny’s Annex because I thought the story might skew religious. No problem now; Destiny’s Annex became a bar.

The challenge on Hooks & Storylines is to write a compelling installment that’s true to the tale. Add something to inspire the next Angler. Then let it go, enjoy the excursion, and bite with a new idea on Live Bait later. If you want to develop your idea your way, add it to Open Water.

Some of us dream of ruling the universe; some of us hope for a good night’s sleep.