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LItChat Has A New Home July 15, 2013

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in weekly topics.
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We've MovedWe’ve moved. You can find out what’s coming up in LitChat as well as peruse all of our archives from our new home at www.litchat.com. Please stop in and say hello.


Guest Host: Jeanne Hess July 11, 2013

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in guest host.
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Jeanne Hess in #litchatFrom the publisher: Sportuality, by Jeanne Hess, is an examination of sports at all levels from a Western perspective, focusing on how it reflects our cultural belief in separation and dualistic thinking, as well as how sports can grow peace, understanding, and joy. Sportuality crosses disciplines of sports and spirituality to help readers—athletes, coaches, parents, and fans—evolve a higher consciousness within sports and competition.

Jeanne Hess will discuss Sportuality in #litchat from 4-5 p.m. E.T. on July 12, 2013. Login to our dedicated chat channel to participate in the conversation.


Using a journal and questions for self-reflection—called a “box score” and “time-out”—readers can reflect upon and create their own sportual stories. By examining words traditionally used within sports, Sportuality helps the reader think critically about competition, community, communication, spirit, humor, enthusiasm, education, religion, holiness, sanctuary, sacrifice, and victory. Sportuality can also expose our learned beliefs in war and violence so we might be willing to choose the alternatives of joy and peace.

Jeanne Hess was born on the cusp of Title IX, grew up in suburban Detroit as a tomboy in the 1960s, and came of age as a varsity athlete at the University of Michigan in the 1970s. The allure of sports and spirituality was nurtured throughout her 28-year career as a volleyball coach, professor of physical education, and college chaplain at Kalamazoo College, and by virtue of being the wife of a coach and the mother of two professional athletes.

Raised as a dualistic Catholic-Episcopalian, Jeanne has embraced the universal nature of Catholicism, defining all people as God’s children united in spirit. She lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan, with her husband, Jim, whom she met in a gym. Their lives have been defined, shaped, and enhanced by several different gyms and athletic arenas.

Follow Jeanne Hess on Twitter: @Jeanne_Hess.

WritingWednesday: Writer’s Block–Fact or Fallacy? July 10, 2013

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in WritingWednesday.
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“There’s no such thing as writer’s block. That was invented by people in California who couldn’t write.”

Writer's Block - Infographic by Ian Lurie

Writer’s Block – Infographic by Ian Lurie

The above quote attributed to Terry Prachett confers what many successful authors claim as gospel truth. Well, at least the first part. Yet writers get stuck all the time in their manuscripts. What is it that mires the wheels of writing progress? We’ll discuss the fact or fallacy of writer’s block in this week’s #litchat WritingWednesday.

Ten Resources to Help You Understand Writer’s Block

What is Writer’s Block?
Tracy Culleton, Fiction Writer’s Mentor 

Writer’s Block—Is There a Such Thing?
Jan Russell, Archetype

The 10 Types of Writer’s Block (and How to Overcome Them)
Charlie Jane Anders, iO9

Breaking Through Writer’s Block
John Warner, McSweeney’s

13 Famous Writers on Overcoming Writer’s Block
Emily Temple, Flavorwire

Overcoming Writer’s Block
Roy Peter Clark, Grammar Girl

How to Think Through Writer’s Block
Sophronia Scott, Archetype

3  Steps for Overcoming Writer’s Block
Excerpt from You Don’t Have to Be Famous by Steve Zousmer, excerpted in Writer’s Digest

How to Overcome Writer’s Block Like a Bestselling Author
Excerpt from Revision & Self-Editing by James Scott Bell, excerpted in Writer’s Digest

4 Ways Inspiration Helps You Beat Writer’s Block
Sarah Maurer, Writer’s Digest

Follow this discussion in our dedicated #litchat Nurph channel

MediaMonday: Getting Personal–How Much is Too Much? July 8, 2013

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in MediaMonday.
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JoyceCarolOates-TweetThe internet and social media has fulfilled Marshall McLuhan’s promise of a global village, but it’s also created a reverse Big Brother culture where people stand on virtual street corners broadcasting the minutiae of their lives.

Author blogs and chat sessions such as #LitChat connect authors with readers. #LitChat provides a platform for authors to talk about their books, about the process of writing, about the journey to becoming a published author. Yet readers often want to know the story behind the story. Sometimes they even believe the author’s own story is buried amid the fiction.

Some authors are open books—their online personas reveal where they live, the names of their children, where they are vacationing, what they ate for dinner last night, and how many cavities they did nor did not have at their last dental check-up. You know their political opinions, their religious beliefs, their favorite brand of whiskey.

Last week author Joyce Carol Oates, a literary stateswoman of critical and commercial renown, drew fire for her tweeted opinions about Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood. Was she unfairly singled out because her opinions called out religion—specifically Islam as anti-feminist and permissive of a rape culture?

Pam Jenoff

Pam Jenoff photo by Dominic Episcopo

Novelist Pam Jenoff writes in a July 5, 2013 Publisher’s Weekly essay how editors increasingly ask authors for personal stories.

“It seems that for the article to actually place well, it typically has to give insight into not just the writer’s work or views, but her life as well,” says Jenoff in the essay.

In addition to this reverse Big Brother mentality, we have the NSA spying on private citizens. Which leads to this week’s #LitChat MediaMonday topic, “How much personal information shared over social media is too much?”

Wall Street Journal, Speakeasy: July 5, 2013
Joyce Carol Oates Tweets on Egypt, Rape and Religion Draw Furor

Follow Joyce Carol Oates on Twitter: @JoyceCarolOates.

Publisher’s Weekly, Soapbox, July 5, 2013

That’s Personal! A Writer Ponders the High Cost of Publicity

Follow Pam Jenoff on Twitter: @PamJenoff.

Catch the conversation beginning at 4 p.m. E.T. in our dedicated #LitChat channel: www.nurph.com/litchat.

Literary Agent Week July 1, 2013

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in guest host, literary agents, MediaMonday, Uncategorized, weekly topics, WritingWednesday.
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It’s literary agent week in #litchat. This week we’ll discuss the down and dirty of getting an agent. Here’s a sample of what we’ll discuss throughout the week:

  • When to know when an agent isn’t right for you.
  • What you can expect from an agent.
  • How much do agent’s likes and dislikes affect their choices of manuscripts?
  • How much does the market sway their choices of manuscripts?
  • What grabs them in a query letter?
  • Do the first five pages of a manuscript really matter that much?

#Litchat runs through Twitter at 4 p.m. E.T. on the dates noted. Follow the chat through our dedicated chat application at www.nurph.com/litchat.

Here’s the how the week will unfold:

Monday, July 1, 2013: Discuss the recent #MSWL (Manuscript Wish List) feed from last week.

GalleyCat’s #MSWL curation of the feed in Storify is here.

A Tumbler with #MSWL feed is here.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013: The Query Go Round

Today we’ll discuss everything about writing the perfect query, to making sure your manuscript is agent-ready, to finding the right agents to query, to record-keeping, to success.

How to Write a Query Letter

The 10 Dos and Don’ts of Writing a Query Letter
Brian A. Klem, Writer’s Digest

Anatomy of a Query Letter: A Step-by-Step Guide
Writer’s Relief Staff, The Huffington Post

Successful Query Letters for Literary Agents
Jason Boog, GalleyCat

9 Frequently Asked Questions About Writing A Query Letter
10 More Questions Answered
Chuck Sambuchino, Writer Unboxed

Query Shark [ed: The best damn query letter blog on the web]
Janet Reid, Literary Agent

Friday, July 5, 2013: Agent on Record

Lucy Carson, literary agent with The Friedrich Agency, will take your questions between 4-5 p.m. E.T. Read more about Carson from this interview in Writer’s Digest.

Follow Lucy Carson on Twitter: @LucyACarson.

Guest Host: Elizabeth Kelly June 27, 2013

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in bestsellers, mystery.
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Elizabeth Kelly in #litchatWhat kind of life can you expect when you’re a girl named after Jimmy Hoffa, your mother is an iconic former movie star and your father is running for congress? Elizabeth Kelly draws this girl in all her adolescent confliction, then throws her into the center of a murder mystery where she is the only eyewitness.

Chat with Elizabeth Kelly about her new novel, The Last Summer of the Camperdowns, in #litchat from 4-5 p.m. on Friday, June 28, 2013. Catch the full conversation from our dedicated #litchat chatroom.

The Last Summer of the Camperdowns

It’s the summer of 1972, the Vietnam War is raging, Watergate embroils the nation with political scandal and President Richard Nixon is running for reelection. Riddle, whom her father insists on calling Jimmy, idolizes her idealistic father. A self-described loner, 12-year-old Riddle pales in comparison to her beautiful mother, an ice queen with a wit sharp enough to crack a glacier. The only thing they appear to have in common is their love of horses. It’s this love of horses that sets Kelly’s novel galloping toward a finish both expected and surprising.

While searching for a missing dog, Riddle happens upon a scene of violence in a horse barn and is threatened by the perpetrator, a horse trainer named Gula Nightjar. She tells no one what she saw and heard, yet the scene haunts her imagination. When the wealthy Cape Cod neighborhood is alerted to a local boy gone missing, Riddle wants to doubt what she saw, while still knowing and fearing the worst. Eventually Riddle is the one who happens upon the boy’s dead body hidden in the woods. By the time she finally accepts the reality of what she saw in the barn, she’s completely cowed by the dark, creepy horse trainer.

As Riddle keeps the secret of what happened in the barn, other family secrets emerge that entwine the entire close-knit neighborhood for a final showdown in The Last Summer of the Camperdowns.

Follow Elizabeth Kelly on Twitter: @ElizabethKelly8.

WritingWednesday: Symbolism in Fiction June 25, 2013

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in WritingWednesday.
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The light at the end of Jay Gatsby’s dock, Alice’s white rabbit, Atticus Finch’s mockingbird. Whether or not the authors intended these items as symbols, for years readers have been pointing at them as having weight beyond face value in the stories where they live. Symbolism is a thing that looks ordinary on the page, but represents so much more in subtext. This week’s WritingWednesday is all about symbolism in fiction. The following links provide a starting point for understanding symbolism in fiction and how to use it effectively in your own work.

Why Writers Should Use Literary Symbols
Harvey Chapman, Novel Writing Help

Fiction Writing Exercises: Symbols and Symbolism
Melissa Donovan, Writing Forward

Elements of Fiction: Symbolism
Tracy Duckart, The Cache (CSU Humbolt)

College of DuPage, The Literary Apprentice

Symbolism and All That
Crawford Kilian, Writing Fiction

Enhance Your Writing With Symbolism
Julie Eshbaugh, Pub(lishing) Crawl

MediaMonday: Age and the Debut Author June 24, 2013

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in MediaMonday.
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Chatscript for Age and the Debut Author can be read here.

Is there a sell-by date for not-yet-published authors? What is the polite age limit for an author’s debut? Is so, what is it? Forty? Forty-five? Why would some people think that publishing a first book is only for the young? At what age is an author “washed up”?  How does age inform story? What authors have debuted or contributed some of their best work in later years? We’ll discuss these questions and more in #litchat MediaMonday.

Resource for this #litchat MediaMonday by Edward Kelsey Moore, New York Times, June 23, 2013.

Join the chat live from our dedicated chatroom at www.nurph.com/litchat.

Follow Edward Kelsey Moore on Twitter: @edkmoore.

Later This Week in LitChat

WritingWednesday, June 26, 2013

Symbolism in Fiction. Resource links to come.

Guest Host for Friday, June 28, 2013

Elizabeth Kelly, author of The Last Summer of the Camperdowns and Apologize! Apologize!

Guest Host: Josh Hanagarne June 20, 2013

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in guest host, memoir.
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Josh Hanagarne in #litchatJosh Hanagarne, author of The World’s Strongest Librarian, couldn’t be invisible if he tried. Although he wouldn’t officially be diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome until his freshman year of high school, Josh was six years old and onstage in a school Thanksgiving play when he first began exhibiting symptoms. By the time he was twenty, the young man had reached his towering adult height of 6’7” when—while serving on a mission for the Church of Latter Day Saints—his Tourette’s tics escalated to nightmarish levels.

Meet Josh Hanagarne June 21, 4pmET in Twitter’s #litchat. Click here to join the chat.


Determined to conquer his affliction, Josh underwent everything from quack remedies to lethargy-inducing drug regimes to Botox injections that paralyzed his vocal cords and left him voiceless for three years. Undeterred, Josh persevered to marry and earn a degree in Library Science. At last, an eccentric, autistic strongman—and former Air Force Tech Sergeant and guard at an Iraqi prison—taught Josh how to “throttle” his tics into submission through strength-training.

Today, Josh is a librarian in the main branch of Salt Lake City’s public library and founder of a popular blog about books and weight lifting—and the proud father of four-year-old Max, who has already started to show his own symptoms of Tourette’s.

The World’s Strongest Librarian illuminates the mysteries of this little-understood disorder, as well as the very different worlds of strongman training and modern libraries. With humor and candor, this unlikely hero traces his journey to overcome his disability— and navigate his wavering Mormon faith—to find love and create a life worth living.

Photo of Josh Hanagarne by Suzy Reed.

View The World’s Strongest Librarian book trailer here.

Follow Josh Hanagarne on Twitter: @JoshHanagarne.

WritingWednesday: Conflict in Fiction June 18, 2013

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in WritingWednesday.

Conflict is the heart of story. Without conflict, a story is nothing but a flat line on the EKG of literature. What are the types of conflict? How does one increase conflict without compromising plausibility and character empathy? What does it mean when an editor suggests that you increase the stakes? We’ll discuss these and other questions in #litchat WritingWednesday. Take a few minutes to read through the following resources and then join us at 4pmET for #litchat.

5 Ways to Increase Conflict
Chuck Sambuchino, Writer’s Digest

Conflict: Beyond Arguments & Fist Fights
Beth Hill, The Editor’s Blog

Essays—Conflict in Fiction
William H. Coles, Story in Literary Fiction

Conflict in Fiction 
Tina Morgan, Fiction Factor

What is Conflict?
Caro Clarke, caroclarke.com

Increasing Conflict in Fiction
Meredith Efken, Fiction Workbench

Where’s Your Conflict?
James Chartrand, Fuel Your Writing