C.T. Charles

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My Poets & Writers Subscription

P&E Magazine CoverI recently subscribed to Poets & Writers Magazine. I couldn’t resist with an offer that I received in my mail for a year’s subscription at just $9.95. I’m not a poet, but I am a writer, so why not give it a try?

So far I’ve received one issue. It’s good, but not great. There seems to be more advertising in it (especially for MFA in Writing programs) than substantive articles, but it has a lot of listings for contests that will be of interest to me in the coming year, so I’m finding the issue generally useful.

An interesting aside: I’ve also been getting emails from Poets & Writers Magazine since I subscribed, all asking me for donations. If I didn’t know any better, I would think Poets & Writers Magazine was a not-for-profit charity, not a literary magazine. 🙂

The money raised is supposed to aid with monetary prizes for their writing contests. I understand the premise, but this seems unusual to me as I receive no such pleas from any of the other writing magazines I subscribe to, including Writer’s Digest and The Writer Magazine.

If you are interested in any of the writing magazines mentioned above, just visit their websites and read some of their online articles. All now offer digital as well as print subscriptions. If you prefer to do your reading on an e-device, as I do, digital editions are a nice plus.

Disclaimer: I receive no compensation for my review of Poets & Writers Magazine or any other magazine mentioned in this post. This is solely my experience with and opinion of my own subscriptions.

Free Novelist Fuel Day!

Coffee = Novelist Fuel

Coffee = Novelist Fuel

As writers, we all know that a cup of coffee (or two, or three, or a constant-drip IV) is what gets us going and keeps the creative juices flowing as we toil away on what we hope will be the next, great, best-selling novel.

Well, writers, rejoice! Today is National Coffee Day, which means FREE coffee!

From what I’ve gathered from my sources, McDonald’s, 7-Eleven, Krispy Kreme and Dunkin’ Donuts are all giving away free or discounted coffee this morning and I’m sure there are more coffee establishments out there that are participating in today’s celebration of our international addiction to java.

Did you know, according to a Dunkin’ Donuts/Career Builder survey, being a writer is included in the top 10 professions likely to “need coffee to get through the workday the most”? So obviously, this day was made for us!

Don’t let National Coffee Day go by without celebrating. Go out, get your free cup of Novelist Fuel, then get back to writing!

BOOK REVIEW: It’s Okay to Miss the Bed on the First Jump…

It's Okay to Miss the Bed on the First Jump: And Other Life Lessons I Learned from DogsIt’s Okay to Miss the Bed on the First Jump: And Other Life Lessons I Learned from Dogs by John O’Hurley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Being a dog owner (or do they own me?) and dog lover, I was drawn to this book. That said, I was hesitant to read another book predicated on dogs and what they teach us, particularly when I learned that one of the author’s dogs is fifteen years old, because it always seems that a dog dies before the last page and I’m completely depressed and teary-eyed throughout the reading. Happily, this book was a welcome change from that scenario! Both of the author’s current dogs made it through the entire book, and the book as a whole was very upbeat.

The lessons John O’Hurley learned from the dogs in his life, particularly his present pups Betty and Scoshi, were lessons we all have learned – or should. John O’Hurley is an actor and comedian, and his comedic roots come through in the prose of the novel. Instead of crying my way through another book about dogs and why we love them, I was laughing and nodding my head in agreement.

This was an easy, quick read, but humorous and enjoyable. I would recommend this book to all dog lovers and anyone interested in a light-hearted read with a few life lessons thrown in.

View all my reviews

Oh, so true!

A writer is a person for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.

– Thomas Mann

I checked my iGoogle page this morning, only to find this the ‘Quote of the Day’. Twenty days into this year’s attempt at a 50,000 word NaNoWriMo novel and I have to say – did they post this quote just for me? It feels like it…

The Zen of NaNoWriMo

zenrocksI came across an article today regarding NaNoWriMo and why it’s a great thing for writers (excerpts below). The author makes an excellent observation as to what really keeps someone from writing – NOT writing:

“If I were asked to guess the number one obstacle that stands in the way of a person finishing a novel, I wouldn’t choose writer’s block, a busy schedule or running out of ideas. I wouldn’t choose lack of a laptop or quiet writing space. I think that the main obstacle to a completed novel is simply the act of not writing.”

To me, this sounds like a Zen paradox or koan and what better solution to this Zen paradox than National Novel Writing Month:

“Sure, the above list of reasons will get pulled from, but in most cases they’re just used as excuses to not write. If a determined person wants to, and really tries, I believe that he or she, under almost any circumstance, can write a full novel, simply by sitting down and writing it.

This way of thinking is put to the test every November, during National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo was started by Chris Baty in 1999, with less than two dozen writers, and has taken off like a rocket since.

For the twenty-one participants in 1999, as well as the eighty-thousand in 2006, the goal is simple. Starting November first, write a fifty-thousand word novel in one month.”

To read the entire article (which I highly recommend), please go to NaNoWriMo: The Value of National Novel Writing Month by Kevin Bridges, found via Yahoo News.

Is it National Novel Writing Month again already?!

nanowrimo_participant_08_120x240National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, is growing nearer and I have decided to participate again this year. The first time I attempted to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days for NaNoWriMo was back in 2006. I didn’t ‘win’ or finish that year, in fact I quit pretty early in the game with the perfectionist in me feeling that the story I was writing was too cliche’ and not worth the effort. I obviously was missing the point of the whole NaNoWriMo premise.

I tried again in 2009 to write a novel in November for NaNoWriMo and was successful, not only completing my first novel, but in learning a lot about the craft of writing, and about myself, in the process. I think in 2010 I can be even more successful, and instead of using NaNoWriMo as just a learning experience, this year I can use the time and environment to write a novel destined for actual print.

As a full-time RVer, I don’t tend to stay in one place too long, but last year I had an advantage in that I had a whole month in one location and nothing else pressing except working on my novel. This was mostly at my husband’s insistence and he was a great cheerleader for me and made sure that nothing could be used as an excuse for not ‘winning’ the NaNoWriMo challenge. We spent the entire month of November (and part of October and December as well) last year at the Nellis AFB FamCamp in Las Vegas, NV and I had no excuses for not writing. It was great! (Thanks, Chuck 🙂 )

This year, I’m starting off a little behind. We’ll be on the road for the first few days of November before settling into a semi-permanent location in Florida for the winter. Once there, I’ll be able to stay in one place for the month and focus mostly on writing, but until then, I’ll have to find time to complete my daily word count (1,667 words a day to get to 50,000 by November 30th) ‘on the go’.

I can’t really complain about finding time to write, as so many people have kids, jobs, and other committments that make writing and writing for NaNoWriMo a real challenge for them. I’m one of the lucky ones who really doesn’t have any (legitimate) excuses. However, I am a procrastinator and a perfectionist, so I do manage to find excuses and must work extra hard to force myself to JUST WRITE! With last year’s win and experience under my belt though, I have confidence that this year I will complete my goal.

I plan to blog and vlog (video log) about the experience again. It’s a great way to chronicle the ups and downs of the process. This year I hope to do a bit more of the vlogging. We’ll see how that goes.

Run, Cheryl, Run

Crossing the Finish Line - 2009 Marine Corps Marathon

Crossing the Finish Line - 2008 Marine Corps Marathon

I’ve been a runner off and on most of my life. Over the years I’ve run a few local races; mostly 5Ks (3.1 miles). A few years ago my daily mileage was averaging 5-6 miles, so I thought it would be easy to do a half-marathon. The first one I did in training made me feel invincible. Then I started training for a real half-marathon – a race – and found out how hard it can be! But I completed it and, as is usually the result for people who do this said, “Never again!” Two days later I said, “I wonder if I could run a marathon?” 😉

Two years ago I trained for, and finished, the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC. Training was hard, but I really enjoyed it. I find running can be like meditation and the more I do it, the more I crave it. Turns out the actual marathon was a very difficult race for me, as I had injured myself within a few weeks of the race. And as I did after my half-marathon I said, “Never again!” And just like before, two days after that, I said, “I wonder if I could run another one faster and better if I wasn’t injured.”

After taking a very long year-and-a-half off to recuperate from my race (and just being lazy), running is now something I’m doing once again. And I’m training for another marathon. On October 3rd I’ll be running the First Annual Crazy Horse Marathon in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Now I’ll include in my blog a little about my training, my general thoughts, and anything interesting I find on running.

Book Lover

reading_tentI read a LOT. I’m usually reading at least a couple of books at a time, one fiction and one non-fiction. Books are my candy, and I can’t pass a book store or book shelf without stopping to browse.

When I find a well-written story, I like to share it with others. When I find something I can’t believe ever got published, I find the need to let that be known as well. I’ve written a few book reviews for PaperBackSwap.com and Amazon.com. I’ll also begin posting them here as well. Of course, it’s all subjective. What is one person’s caviar is another person’s smelly fish eggs and vice versa. But it’s fun to share and helps me learn the techniques of writing. Hopefully anyone reading will find it helpful, or at least entertaining. 😉

Why Rant?

cow-rantWhy not? If you’ve been online for any time at all, you’ve come to find that a lot of people are bothered by a lot of things. Some of them are trivial, and some not. Some are bizarre, but most are universal. The truth is, we’re all more alike than we think we are and if you’re anything like me, too many times you’ve heard, read, or seen something that made you nod your head and say, “Oh, yeah.” So every now and then when I find something I just need to comment about, I’m going to do it here under the RANTING category. It might be political. It might mundane. It might just change the world (probably not). Feel free to read and respond. Trust me, ranting can be very cathartic — and it’s a great way to exercise those writing muscles.

NaNoWriMo 2009 Stats

calculating (This is from NaNoWriMo.org)

  • This year, we had 167,150 participants, up 40% from 2008’s total of 119,301.
  • We wrote a total of 2,427,190,537 words, up 48% from 2008’s collective word count of 1,643,343,993.
  • This averaged out to 14,531 words per person.
  • We had 32,173 winners, up 48% from 2008’s total of 21,683
  • This gave us a 19.2% win rate, the highest in modern NaNoWriMo history. (Last year we had an 18.2% win rate; in 2007 it was 15.1%).


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