December 31, 2007

The 10 Best Posts of WritersCrunch in 2007!

It was an interesting year for me for so many reasons. Most importantly, I started this blog in October 2007, though I had been blogging since late 2006 for other sites. Since I wrote my first post on this blog, my passion has not quenched.

Here, I'm presenting to you my 10 best posts since October 2007 to date especially for new readers and my current subscribers too.

They are...

Amazon Reveals Itself As J.K. Rowlings Fairy Tales Buyer

Are You Bold Enough to Write A Bestseller?

Would You Like To Be A Books Critic's Critic?

Why Are My (or You) A Blogger?

Is John Grisham Playing For Politics?

Could Any Spy Thriller Be Told Better Than "An Ordinary Spy"?

Do Authors A-U-T-O-B-I-O-G-R-A-P-H in Fiction?

Are Authors 'Writing For Pizza'?

How's Life After NaNo?

WritersCrunch is One Month Today!

I hope to continue posting and profiling on WritersCrunch from January 2008 and really appreciate your readership and comments. If you would like me to write about your blog or profile your posts free of charge, please send me an email.

Have a Great Year 2008!

P.S. Watch out for a post on January 1st about new books to be published in 2008.

December 30, 2007

Have You Taken The Books Quiz At Guardian Unlimited?

The Guardian Unlimited wants to know if you were paying attention to the news that made the year 2007 a busy one for books, authors and the like. Were you paying attention or just too busy to be in the know?

Why not take the definitive test and find out...

Personally, it was very tasking! When I scrolled down to see the nature of questions, I was intimidated. I had to start by answering the questions I knew and somehow did a bit of research for the ones I didn't know or wasn't too sure about. Here are my results of the book quiz.

I then received this automated response about my score as found below:

You scored 26 out of a possible 32
You’re disturbingly spot-on, and so cultured that you’re alienating your friends, frankly. You need to think about something other than books next year. Time to take up salsa dancing and start watching Big Brother.
That got me laughing! Indeed, the book quiz really helped me to keep myself up-to-date about what made the news around books and authors in 2007. That was time well spent researching!

If you are ready to take the book quiz now go to Guardian Unlimited.

December 29, 2007

Would You Like To Be A Book Critic's Critic?

Recently, I have found myself very interested in the reviews of book critics that I sometimes criticize some of their views and opinions. Most times I wonder their criteria for choosing the books they write reviews about. I am talking about full-time book critics of The New York Times.

Despite being immersed in books they find appealing, as the nearly 300 books chosen for the daily reviews in The New York Times have been culled from tens of thousands of volumes published each year, these critics acknowledge that their favorites meet criteria that any reader will recognize. They are books that are disappointing only because they have to end. They’re the ones they mention to friends. They’re the ones worth taking on vacation, and they are well executed, whatever their genre or subject matter.

The NY Times critics present their own favorite lists based on their own reviews published in 2007 as found in this article.

Review these lists and maybe you can be on your road to becoming a book critic's critic! Here are more lists in the NY Times 100 Notable Books of the Year and more here in the NY Times 10 Best Books of 2007.

Update: View more reviewer favorite's here.


Photo Credits: Lars Klove for The New York Times

December 26, 2007

Why Books Are The Best Christmas Gifts

Christmas has become a time of the year when people share gifts to loved ones (amongst other things). For many the choice gift will be electronics such as digital cameras, mobile phones, computers, mp3 players, etc

As Christmas may be seen as an electric holiday with strings of blinking light bulbs adorning colorful displays and trees throughout the city and in many homes, people would naturally think of giving a gift that would serve to electrify their recipients. Makes sense doesn't it?

But while one could spend hours with these electronic gadgets, would it still be electrifying when you hit the off switch? Hmm, here comes that feeling of isolation. Then hunger for more! We can communicate and trade ideas easier and faster than ever, and do it across the globe, but this 'fast food' for the mind may sometimes leave us frustrated and isolated.

Now, don't get me wrong. I use electronic gadgets too, but ideally with moderation.

Books, on the other hand, are what I would call "the right mental cure for our technology-infested mind". Reading a good book leaves you satisfied and secure. Finishing a favorite book, is a lot like enjoying a holiday dinner. It’s the mental equivalent of being full.

In an article by TheMurfreesboro Post, you can find 10 reasons why a book makes a great gift as shown below:

1. With books, there are no sizes to remember. One size fits all.
2. Books are child friendly; there are no small, hazardous parts to choke on.
3. Easy to wrap.
4. Books have zero calories and no fat grams.
5. No batteries required.
6. Fit any budget.
7. Stories last forever.
8. Reading is relaxing.
9. Shopping in bookstores is fun.
10. Choosing the right book for someone is the height of thoughtfulness.

The article encouraged that while you’re powering up the electronics, don’t forget to power up your head by buying a book for yourself and for someone else this season.

December 25, 2007

What Did You Do This Christmas?

While millions around the world where busy celebrating Christmas, I spent most of the day alone reading and researching. Strange isn't it? Well, I wasn't the only one that skipped Christmas, so don't think I'm a weirdo.

Well, my research found this article on Christmas Classic Books which I decided to share on this blog. If you've read them, your comments about them could motivate others to read them.

Here they are:

A Christmas Carol by
Charles Dickens - Hands down, "A Christmas Carol" is the most popular Christmas classic, ever. Charles Dickens skillfully examines the spirit of Christmas. The main character, Ebenezer Scrooge, is haunted by three spirits: The Ghost of Christmas Past, The Ghost of Christmas Present and The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.

Skipping Christmas by
John Grisham - In this book, Luther and Nora Krank decided to skip Christmas and embark on a nice cruise instead. Their mission is simple: To avoid Christmas. They have had it with the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping. Author John Grisham, well known for works such as "A Time to Kill" and "The Firm" proves that he is also very skillful at holiday satire.

Murder for Christmas: 26 Tales of Seasonal Malice by
Gahan Wilson - Tales of malice and murder are written by authors Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers and others. This mystery presents an eerie "twist" to the usual yuletide joy. Mysteries make for good reading year-round.

High Heels and Holidays by
Kasey Michaels - A romantic Christmas turns into a murderous Christmas. Death threats replace pretty ornaments and gift-wrapped packages. It's a story about several authors scrambling to solve a seemingly unsolvable case.

Christmas Beginning by
Anne Perry - Start the holiday with a mystery. Olivia Costain is dead and an intense murder investigation ensues. The original Christmas story meets with murder and mystery.

Gaston, the Green-Nosed Alligator by
James Rice - This story retells the traditional tale of Santa and his reindeer-driven sleigh - but these reindeer are replaced by flying alligators. This unorthodox Christmas takes place in Louisiana.

How The Grinch Stole Christmas by
Dr. Seuss - Dr. Seuss is a literary legend in children's fiction. Despite the plot of the Grinch to steal Christmas, this tale has a happy ending. The Grinch has stolen the hearts of children. It was turned into a film directed by Ron Howard with Jim Carrey as "Grinch" in 2000 and won an Oscar the following year.

Peanuts: A Charlie Brown Christmas by
Charles M. Schulz - A story to be read over and over again, Charlie Brown's Christmas is endearing. Children never tire of its cute characters and funny prose. Charles M. Schulz, writer and creator, charms us all. The TV animated version was directed by Bill Melendez.

The Christmas Story by
Cathy Ann Johnson - The Books of Matthew and Luke help relate the story of the first Christmas ever. The birth of Jesus is celebrated among angels, animals and shepherds. Also you can read A Christmas Story by Jean Shepherd, the book that inspired the hilarious classic 1984 film directed by Bob Clark.

The Night Before Christmas (A Visit From St. Nicholas) by
Clement Clarke Moore - A classic poem that has been passed from adult to child. It is one of the most popular tales ever told, and one of the most memorized stanzas in the world. First published in 1823, the legend of St. Nicholas and his eight reindeer lives on in our memories.

Update: You might also want to watch The Nightmare Before Christmas, a 1993 film produced by Tim Burton and directed by Henry Selick which follows Jack Skellington, the leader of a holiday-themed world known as Halloween Town, who becomes bored of his repetitive lifestyle and eventually stumbles upon the world of Christmas Town; interested in the new world's culture, Jack attempts to combine the two holidays, with unexpectedly disastrous results.

So if you have skipped Christmas like me why not relax and enjoy reading any of these books or watch the films with family and friends this season.

December 24, 2007

Annie Dillard Award for Creative Nonfiction

Writing Contests could be a great way of kick starting a career in writing. Personally, I have participated in some writing contests in the past, but given the fact that my writing career has passed what I'll call the 'puberty stage', I recently have directed my writing efforts on my novel, blogs and other writing activities.

Since I started this blog, I've posted a few writing contests for readers who might be interested in taking a go at writing fiction, non-fiction, poetry, short stories, etc View the posts here.

Thus, if you are interested in creative non-fiction, you might want to participate in the Annie Dillard Award for Creative Nonfiction here.

Annie Dillard is best known for her nature-themed writing. She has explored her past and present dealings with nature through poetry, essays and novels. Her best-known work, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, has been described as a “book of theology.” While her more autobiographical book, An American Childhood, explores her early childhood years through nature. In 1975 she was awarded the Pulitzer for general non-fiction. Dillard continues to write and is now an adjunct professor of English and a writer-in-residence at Wesleyan University in Connecticut.

December 22, 2007

Could Any Spy Thriller Be Told Better Than "An Ordinary Spy"?

Perhaps the story of espionage will never be told better by anyone else except by an ex-C.I.A. agent. If that's true, then, Joseph Weisberg would be the master of spy thrillers. In a thrilling story of two CIA Case Officers whose lives are permanently changed by the agents they recruit and run, Weisberg spotlights the confusing but strangely bureaucratic world of the C.I.A in his new novel, An Ordinary Spy.

The author of the critically acclaimed novel, 10th Grade (2002, Random House), which was a New York Times Notable Book in 2002, Weisberg might have achieved his goal of writing the most realistic spy novel that had ever been written in this new novel.

The book is a chronicle of the mundanity of a spy’s daily routine - not just the surveillance-detection routes and cryptic cables to headquarters, but also the staff meetings, petty rivalries between colleagues and idle chatter about pension plans. Though some details that might be classified information are blacked out in the novel.

In writing An Ordinary Spy, Mr. Weisberg, 42, used some of what he learned while training to be a case officer with the Central Intelligence Agency in the early 1990s where he claims he's no longer working. But it seems that Weisberg has some complicated views about the C.I.A. One of the reasons he left the C.I.A., he said, was because he did not want to recruit agents who might face retribution for their betrayal.

So what might the other reasons be? Well, let's act as if we don't care. But, I'm sure that folks that love espionage would be interested to spy that out.

December 20, 2007

Scholastic Plans "The 39 Clues" to Succeed Harry Potter

Scholastic, publisher of those wildly successful books by J. K. Rowling is moving forward with what it hopes will be its follow-up blockbuster series after completing the Harry Potter series. Called “The 39 Clues", this series will feature 10 books - the first of which is to go on sale next September - as well as related Web-based games, collectors’ cards and cash prizes.

The series consisting of mystery novels telling the story of a centuries-old family, the Cahills, who are supposed to be the world’s most powerful clan will be aimed at readers 8 to 12. According to the books, famous historical figures ranging from Benjamin Franklin to Mozart were members of the family. The plots will revolve around the race by two young Cahills, Amy, 14, and Dan, 11, against other branches of the family to be the first to find the 39 clues that will lead to ultimate power.

The organisation is hoping to attach the books to an Internet game that could help recruit new readers amongst youngsters, since some kids generally prefer games to books. Thus, they could have fun while learning. The project demonstrates Scholastic’s acknowledgment that as much as the publisher heralded the renewed interest in reading represented by the Harry Potter books, many children are now as transfixed by Internet and video games as they are by reading.

It was also reported that writer Peter Lerangis who created the Spy-X and the Watcher series and wrote all the books in them, is to write the third book in this new series.

[Via] The NY Times

December 19, 2007

Are You Bold Enough To Write A Bestseller?

I recently read an excellent article about 'writing a bestseller' from Creative Writing Blog, and I thought I should share a few more tips on this topic. The article provided 3 things to consider before writing a book that could become a bestseller.

Of course, an author who has previously published several books typically stands a better chance of making the bestsellers list than a new author, but it is important that aspiring writers increase the chances of their novels being bestsellers.

Here are a few tips to consider when writing a book that could become a bestseller:

OUT of your comfort zone

Writing what you already know might be considered as a work of short story. So in order to get out of your comfort zone, write what you don't expect yourself writing. Of course that requires research on your part. For example, Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code, an international bestseller was seen as very controversial and that shows that he didn't just write what could be considered as a cliché, but rather an out-of-your-comfort-zone novel.

FORGET the clichés

This might sound a bit unethical to some:), but it is worth mentioning. As an aspiring writer, you should focus on stories that would not seem like a remake of a film. You've got to write something that has probably never been written before. Think! There's got to be something! In my opinion, the reason that some of John Grisham's novels are viewed as international bestsellers, even if some critics might call some of them clichés is because Grisham has already established himself as a the master of legal thrillers. So forget those clichés. Write what you know bestselling authors like John Grisham has never written before and probably will never write about.

TELL your readers more

Yeah, you've got to. Many people or readers know about certain stories, events, happenings, etc, but you have to tell them what they don't know. Of course, a work of fiction is a product of your imagination and creativity, but there are also certain information that your readers should know based on your storyline that could make your novel a bestseller. In Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code, he exposes readers to secrets, mysteries and shocking revelations that makes you wonder. And remember, it need not be the real truth. That's why it's called fiction!

Above all, I agree with the author of Creative Writing Blog who advised that you should keep in mind that the reason for your writing a novel is not for it to become a bestseller, rather because you are passionate about the story. Besides, you should be less interested in making money.

So are you bold enough to write a bestseller?

December 18, 2007

Francis Coppola Makes A Come Back With The Film "Youth Without Youth"

After a 10-year break away from the film industry, Francis Coppola, the five-time Academy Award winner, film director, producer, and screenwriter returns to film-making with the film, Youth Without Youth following the accomplished movie The Rainmaker since 1997, based on John Grisham's 1995 novel, The Rainmaker.

The film, Youth Without Youth is an adaptation of a novella by the Romanian philosopher Mircea Eliade, which explores language, theology, the idea of the doppelgänger.

The central character is Dominic Matei (Tim Roth) a 70-year-old Romanian linguistics professor in pre-second world war Bucharest, who, in the midst of a possibly terminal depression, is struck by lightning and thus magically restored to the prime of life. Suddenly reinvigorated, Dominic can immerse himself again in his pet subject, the roots of language and religion, learning all the world's languages by a mysterious process of osmosis while conversing with his own alter ego and falling in love with two incarnations of the same mystically gifted woman.

It's bold and packed with ideas, but also fatally unformed, unconvincing and, on occasion, laughably pretentious - and too often you imagine that the central character will awaken to discover that it has all been a dream, and a pretty bad one at that.

But critics believe that the film might taste like fast food, suggesting that it might not contain the quality and style that characterizes Coppola's Oscar award-winning movies such as The Godfather and Apocalypse Now. Coppola, 68, funded "Youth Without Youth" on his own, using profits from his lucrative Napa Valley wine business, and as a result he's dubbed it his independent film.

The film is being distributed through Sony Pictures Classics in the United States and now showing in theaters since December 14. It was released in France on November 14.

View Youth Without Youth Trailer here

December 15, 2007

Amazon Reveals Itself As J.K. Rowling's Fairy Tales Buyer

Two days ago I wrote a post about J.K. Rowlings Christmas Gift. Finally the 'Father Christmas' is unveiled! Amazon has revealed that it paid nearly $4 million for J.K. Rowling’s hand-written volume of the fairy tales of “The Tales of Beedle the Bard”.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard is extensively illustrated and handwritten by the "bard" herself - all 157 pages of it. It's bound in brown Moroccan leather and embellished with five hand-chased hallmarked sterling silver ornaments and mounted moonstones. View images of the book here, here and here.

Amazon was represented by Hazlitt, Gooden and Fox at the Sotheby’s auction in London, and the e-commerce retailer has no intention of reselling the book. The proceeds of the book will go towards a charity co-founded by Rowling, called Children’s Voice. And in an effort to achieve some of the goals laid out by this charity, Amazon will be making sure that many people as possible get to experience the book, through public readings in schools.

The retailer has stated that its purchase of the book is a way of giving thanks to the author that sparked a reading frenzy in children and young adults across the world. Considering how many Harry Potter books were sold through Amazon, why wouldn't the company thank Rowling. No wonder, the announcement says: to J.K. Rowling: Thank You

Maybe I should start posting fairy tales on this blog:) I might just have some luck, who knows!

December 14, 2007

The Second Annual Warren Adler Short Story Contest

The Second Annual Warren Adler Short Story Contest is seeking submissions that capture the essence of New York in an endeavor to publicize and promote the art of the fictional short story and restore its place as a prime literary format.

The first prize winner, to be announced in conjunction with the publication of Warren Adler’s latest short story collection New York Echoes, will be awarded $1,000; all five finalists will also be awarded personalized first editions of Mr. Adler’s collection. Natural Selection by Kathleen Hood Haskins won the inaugural Warren Adler Short Story Contest last year.

As a bonus, the story judged best by Warren Adler, along with a People’s Choice award chosen from among the finalists via online reader vote, will be published and available for sale on Amazon shorts. Cool, huh? And all five finalist stories will be featured via “live” readings on Amazon’s Theater on Second Life.

For more information about the contest, click here. View winners from last year's contest here.

Deadline is January 15, 2008.

December 13, 2007

J.K. Rowling's Fairy Tale Book Gets Mega Sales

Christmas has come early for J.K. Rowlings. The author, whose Harry Potter books have sold almost 400 million copies and been translated into 65 languages, wrote the The Tales of Beedle the Bard after finishing the Potter series and the book fetched nearly £2 million at auction today (close to $4 million).

The manuscript, a collection of wizardly fairytales, handwritten and extensively illustrated by the author, was sold for exactly 1,950,000 pounds (3,985,410 USD or 2,706,990 euro). The buyer, the London art agents Hazlitt, Gooden and Fox, now owns one of just seven copies of The Tales of Beedle the Bard, and the only one to be sold on the open market rather than given to family and friends. The book originally had been expected to sell for about £200, 000 ($100,000).

The price is the highest ever achieved at auction for a modern literary manuscript, an auction record for a work by J. K. Rowling and an auction record for a children’s book. The proceeds from the sale will benefit The Children’s Voice, a charity co-founded in 2005 by Miss Rowling and Emma Nicholson, a member of Britain’s House of Lords.

December 12, 2007

Novel Writing on Mobile Phones Gets Fussy in Japan

Just a few days ago, I wrote a post about the first computer novel to be released in January by Russian Publishing House Astrel SPb. Little did I know that in Japan, half of the top ten best-selling works of fiction in the first six months of 2007 were composed on mobile phones and have sold an average of 400, 000 copies. Yeah, I mean written, not READ like you can on your Amazon's Kindle.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, mobile phone novels (or keitai shousetsu) have become a publishing phenomenon in Japan, “turning middle-of-the-road publishing houses into major concerns and making their authors a small fortune in the process.”

One of such novels, Koizora (Love Sky) by Mika about a high-school girl who is bullied, gang-raped, becomes pregnant and has a miscarriage has sold more than 1.2 million copies since being released in book format last October. In fact, it will soon be made into a movie.

For all we know, these mobile phone novels may be bestsellers in the Eastern front, but would they get attention in the Western terrain and eventually make the NY Times best sellers list?

December 11, 2007

How's Life After NaNo?

Now that the mayhem of NaNoWriMo is over, what are you doing with your life? For veteran Nanos, getting back to the real life might not be much of a big deal. But, how about 'Baby NaNos'?

Of course, it may be difficult to get over the post-NaNo blues, which veteran participants feel it lasts within a couple of days up to eleven months after NaNoing. But as tempting as it is to try and keep the blues at bay by tackling another huge writing project right away, what your body and brain would really need at this point is rest. Besides, the holiday is just here again!

Even if some of the greatest novelists like John Grisham had to squeeze in time before going to the law office and during courtroom recesses to work on his hobby—writing his first novel, duh, you'd be doing yourself a lot of good, if you could gradually start working on your first novel now (based on your NaNo project - except it sucks - haha) instead of participating in any other writing contests.

Some NaNo participants like Writer-Mommy even confessed that starting up a blog and Nano-ing during the same month is not the best idea. Without doubt, NaNoWriMo writing contests could make you a good writer, so to get the writerly ball rolling again after your hangovers, you could explore the December and Beyond forums, dedicated exclusively to life after NaNo. There's always room to network!

There are also NaNoFiMo, JaNoWriMo, NaNoEdMo, JulNoWriMo amongst others, if you are interested in firing up your passion for writing.

Red Room Raises More Funds

The social network site for authors, The Red Room, has raised $1.25 million from angel investors, including Craig Newmark, author Rober Mailer Anderson and Nion McEvoy, CEO of Chronicle Books. With a small army of authors already supporting The Red Room, its social network looks to be going in the direction of a promotional hub for writers.

The site offers tools, such as blogs and book tour calendars for writers to promote themselves and connect with their fans. Thus, we can say that it serves authors the same way MySpace serve bands. Red Room(mates), Alice Walker and Amy Tan are just some of the high profiled authors that have pages on The Red Room.

As the social networking fever is gripping web enthusiastes, it is not surprising to see a growing trend for authors seeking networking and promotional tools on the web. Meanwhile, sites like Helium, StoryLink,TurnHere, BooksConnect , BookTour, Shelfari, amongst others continue to create online spaces for writers and authors to promote themselves with more web 2.0 tools.

The founder of The Red Room, Ivory Madison, also started the Red Room Writers Society - a place for writers to work on their projects and take part in seminars and workshops.

December 10, 2007

Can The Computer Really Write A Novel?

A new novel set to be released by the Russian Publishing House Astrel SPb in January 2008 has been claimed to be written by a computer. Wow! The basic storyline of the 'first computer novel' conditionally titled "True Love" is a love story based on Anna Karenina's main characters.

The action takes place on an unknown island in the times similar to our days. The book is written in Haruki Murakami’s manner, while the style is based on the vocabulary, language and techniques tools of 13 Russian and foreign authors of XIX – XX centuries.

While editors of literary magazines and IT specialists doubt computers to be able to write novels, the chief editor of the Publishing House Astrel SPb Alexander Prokopovich tells CNews that a group of developers and philologists created the program PC Writer 2008, the software that enabled the computer to write the novel. The philologists he claimed compiled dossiers on each novel character, which described the characters' appearance, vocabulary, psychological portrait and other characteristics.

The first version of the novel did not seem interesting to the publishing house, so the initial data was revised and the program generated the second version in three days. After that the manuscript like any other novel to be published went through the editorial corrections.

As we see new technologies being developed everyday, it might make sense to believe that a computer can write books, but until this is proved, writers may have to stick to their style of writing.

Doris Lessing: Nobel Prize Winner for Literature Laments for Africa

Doris Lessing, winner of the Nobel Prize for literature 2007, has warned that the Internet has ‘seduced a whole generation into its inanities'. In her acceptance speech she recalls her childhood in Africa and laments that children in Zimbabwe are starving for knowledge, while those in more privileged countries shun reading for the 'inanities' of the internet.

Watch her reaction to the Nobel Prize Win below.

Lessing, 88 the oldest person to have won the Nobel literature prize, praised the ‘respect and hunger for books’ in Zimbabwe. The author grew up on a farm in former Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and her work, including her classic novel The Grass in Singing, has often drawn on her years in Africa, frequently exploring the divide between blacks and whites.
View Doris Lessing's Biography here.

The Swedish Academy (Svenska Akademien) described Lessing as an ‘epicist of the female experience, who with skepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilization to scrutiny.’

The Nobel Prize Award ceremonies take place in Stockholm and Oslo on December 10. Since Lessing cannot travel to Stockholm for the Nobel Prize award ceremony because of her health, Lessing’s £750,000 award was presented to her in London.

The Nobel Prize in Literature dates back to 1901 and has been awarded to 104 great writers such as
Winston Churchill (U.K, 1953); Mikhail Sholokhov (USSR, 1965); Heinrich Böll (Germany, 1972); Wole Soyinka (Nigeria, 1986); Toni Morrison (U.S.A, 1993); Gao Xingjian (China, 2000) amongst others.

View all Nobel Laureates in Literature from 1901 to 2007.

Photo Credits: Chris Saunders

December 08, 2007

Is John Grisham Playing for Politics?

Could this saying: "One's a politician, always a politician", be the right thing to say considering John Grisham's career? There could be many reasons to say yes.

John Grisham, the master of legal thrillers was master of ceremonies last Thursday for a holiday-themed fundraiser in Washington for U.S. Presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton. Grisham also appeared at a fundraiser with Clinton last September in Charlottesville, Virginia where he resides.

Wait! There's more...

Some Hillary supporters won the chance to watch a recent presidential debate on TV with Bill at an apartment with lots of food - especially pizza! Watch the video from the party here. Though it is not certain if it was John Grisham who was sitting next to Bill Clinton at the TV debate party, I'd like to think that it was.

If you watch the video, you'll notice that 'Grisham' didn't make a comment or even say a word. Perhaps he was too busy with his thoughts about a new book? Again, why was the main course of the party- PIZZA? Could Grisham be influencing politics also with the choice of dinner meals? Hmm!

Grisham's career as an ex-lawyer has seen him becoming a former Democratic state legislator in Mississippi before his literary career blossomed in the early 1990s.

So then, is he really playing for politics?

Photo Credits: AP

December 07, 2007

Are You Planning On Skipping Christmas?

Each year's biggest season - Christmas is around the corner and this year, the book Skipping Christmas by John Grisham has been released in a mass market paperback at $6.99 just in time for the Christmas season. The book follows the story of two main characters, Luther and Nora Krank who simply were fed up with the chaos of Christmas. Read more here and here.

As the story unflods, the Kranks soon learned that their vacation away from Christmas wasn't much of a vacation at all, and that skipping the holidays has consequences they didn't bargain for. So if you're planning on skipping this year's holidays, first read the book and whatever you decide later, you're on your own:)

Click here to buy Skipping Christmas online

Read Chapter One. Read customer's reviews

December 05, 2007

Oddpodz Creatively Connects People With The Muzeum

Oddpodz, is a social networking site for creative people. Oddpodz launched its Beta site earlier this year and in six months, the network has grown rapidly with creative thinkers. What could be the attraction to Oddpodz?

Well, Oddpodz social networking members are not teenagers, in fact, their average age is 37. They are from all over the world; they're super creative and they primarily work as professionals in creative service industries, such as ad and marketing agencies, PR firms, and many are business entrepreneurs. They want more purposeful content that provides information to help grow their businesses; they need help locating trusted resources; and they would like to have a place online to go to be inspired to tackle creative challenges. And that has not been a challenge for Oddpodz.

But could there be something else? My curiousity paid off as I found out a place where creatives from around the world meet new friends, socialize, find inspiration, collaborate, express themselves, get entertained and do business - The Muzeum.

The Muzeum has interesting features such as the lobby, lounge, auditorium, triage, exhibits, pod garden and basement. There is also Cash for Creative, where members can get cash for their creative ideas.

Oddpodz, LLC was founded in January 2006 by entrepreneurs Karen Post and Jocelyn Ring. Karen is an international branding expert, consultant and speaker. She has been featured in a broad range of media outlets -- including Bloomberg TV, CBS Early Show, The New York Times, The New York Post, NPR, Fast Company and The Boston Globe, and her writing is published internationally, including a monthly column she's been writing for since 2004. She is also the author of Brain Tattoos: Creating Unique Brands That Stick in Your Customers' Minds (AMACOM 2005). Jocelyn Ring is a former investment banker and brand strategy consultant.

December 04, 2007

Writer's Ultimate Resource Guide 2008

Writer's Digest, the world's leading magazine for writers is maintaining it's trademark as the world's best writers' resource online. Founded in 1920, the online resource for writers is offering 65 pages of the best information available for working writers, from the hottest markets to the coolest websites—all piled into a single disc!

The disc's enhanced PDF format provides bookmarks that allow for easy navigation, hundreds of active links to take you straight to the Web, and easy keyword searches that make research faster and easier.

In addition to the new writing software, writing contests and more than 400 writing organizations, the site offers features such as "101 best websites for writers", "100 top markets for books and magazines", "22 agents who want your work" as well as answers to common and compelling writing questions.

Order The Writer's Ultimate Resource Guide 2008 here!

December 03, 2007

Short Story Writing Contests

I recently came across an article on short stories contests and thought it'd be nice to share. The article described the short story as "an unfortunate middle child." That really got my attention as I'm sure it's gotten yours as you're reading.

Unlike poetry, short stories are not romanticized, nor widely read like novels, but it somehow finds refuge in literary journals such as the New Yorker, the Toronto Star, Broken Pencil and Eye Weekly. These journals all have writing contests on short stories, so if you are a New Yorker or a Torontoist, and you have a passion for writing short stories, perhaps you could grab this opportunity I'm about to share.

First, stalwart Toronto Star has its annual short story contest. The top prize includes $5,000 and tuition to the Humber School for Writers for Creative Writing. Submissions can't be longer than 2,500 words and must be accompanied by a $5 fee. It is important that your story is postmarked by Thursday, January 17th, 2008.

Research at 3 am? Can't do that at the library!

Broken Pencil is also pitting submissions against each other in a "death match." Writers will start blogs to beg the masses to "pick me, choose me, love me" and talk smack about the other entries. Readers will then vote on their favourites. (A similar "Idol" style contest was also attempted earlier this year in the States.) The winner gets $250 and published in the magazine. Entries must be between 1,000 and 3,000 words, and there's a $20 fee. The contest deadline is Monday, December 31st, 2007.

Each contest has its perks: Toronto Star offers the most cash for their prize; Broken Pencil probably has the most street cred. Make sure to read the rules carefully (especially on simultaneous submissions) so you don't get disqualified.

All the best:-)


December 01, 2007

Dylan Days Announces 2008 Creative Writing Contest

Dylan Days has called for new entries for the 2008 Dylan Days Creative Writing Contest. The contest will accept poetry, short stories and one-act plays.

The poetry and short fiction categories is open for all writers and for anyone currently enrolled in high school or an undergraduate college or university. There will be first, second and third place prizes of $100, $50 and $25 respectively and all winners will be invited to read their poems or stories at the Dylan Days Literary Showcase on May 24, 2008.

The one-act playwright competition (a new feature this year) will showcase all playwrights and eventually a winner will be selected. Thus, the winning play will be presented on stage during the 2008 Dylan Days Literary Showcase under the direction of award-winning Hibbing Community College theater director Michael Ricci.

The deadline is Feb. 28, 2008. Click here for instructions on entering the contest online.