Check out the latest blog post on The Inkwell Council’s Roundtable, where I discuss the pitfalls of passive writing.
According to Bibliobattle’s official website, “Bibliobattle is a social book review game which was developed in the Graduate School of Informatics at Kyoto University in Japan.” The first and second American Bibliobattles took place at Kinokuniya NYC and I happened to be part of both of them. Because I would like for you to someday be a part of them as well, I’d like to describe my experience to you and see if I can maybe get you to sign up for a future Bibliobattle.
How it Works:
The organizer assigns a topic in advance to determine what kind of books will be used to battle. This can take place up to a month before the actual battle. When a date is assigned, the organizer asks what book each battler will use. Those books will actually be available on the table for reference or purchase during the battle.
On the day of the battle, the contestants pick a number and that selects the order. Then each battler goes up one by one. They get five minutes to discuss why they love their chosen book, and three more minutes of Q&A time with the audience. Once all battlers go up, a vote is taken in the audience. Which book do you want to read the most?
The winner gets a prize, but everyone gets a little something for participating. I usually walk out with a handful of books that I’ve now grown interested in after watching the other battlers at work.
How you Bibliobattle is up to you, but this is what I’ve learned after two Bibliobattles (admittedly, not that many, but everything is a learning experience). The first time I participated, the theme was YA novels, and I chose a whopper. If anyone has ever read the Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness, they can tell you the sheer breadth of material it covers: war/peace, misogyny, racism, fear of “the other”, the power of being unique, religion and how it can be corrupted, what makes a man a man. It’s an amazing novel, but it is a very deep read.
So, when I sat down to prepare my Bibliobattle speech, I wrote a book report. I loved my chosen book because of all of the deep topics it delved into, and the way it presented them. I wrote a five page paper on these things, how the voice, the structure, and the formatting of the book informed the way these issues were brought across and why they hit so hard.
I had a lot of good points, but when I sat down to actually battle, I ended up jumping through my original pitch and being cut off in the final lines of my report by the ringing bell. Oops. (If you check out the link to the first battle at the bottom of the page, you can watch me run out of steam. It’s a tad embarrassing. Luckily, I like to make fun of myself).
When I was asked to do a second Bibliobattle, this time for the Supernatural genre, I signed up without having a clue about which book I would choose. I loved Supernatural books, and I could probably talk about them for DAYS, no problem. So I agreed to tackle it again, this time from a different angle.
Using Kelley Armstrong’s Omens, the first book of my absolute favorite book series, made my new approach easier. I love Ness’ series for many cerebral reasons, and they are just as worthwhile as the reasons I love Armstrong’s series. But while there is middle ground regarding both books, the main reasons I love Armstrong’s is all heart.
I fell in love with the characters. I loved the mythology. The mystery of it all intrigued me. Yes, the story covers interesting history and contains important character studies that subvert the tropes of strong female characters and leading men. Yes, the mystery was twisty and surprising. There were intellectual reasons to love it, but there was also plenty of heart reasons to love it.
So, I sat down and wrote out all of the reasons I enjoyed the book. I read it a few times so it stuck in my head. And when the day of the battle came, I spoke from memory and from heart. Though I didn’t win that time either, I did finish it without running out of steam, and I felt better about the way I’d spoken, because I’d been able to speak to the people reading, rather than read to them. I think I found my technique!
Want to see the Bibliobattles I discussed? Well, here’s the first:
And here’s the second one, in which YA writer Zoraida Cordova participated:
As the holidays approach and I sit down to write my last blog post of 2016, I’m reminded of just how erratic my year has been. Politics were the pits, tons of celebrity favorites died, and a general malaise settled over the world. Things were not looking so shiny. We took some personal hits this year as well. My Uncle Bobby died after a long and grueling battle with cancer. My son was diagnosed with ADHD and anxiety disorder, which has really kicked up recently and has us struggling to find the answers. My husband and I had our own respective health issues, one that landed me in the hospital having a small, but not fun, surgical procedure. I ended my publishing contract with no book to show for it.
But there was light toward the end, at least with my career. There was Pitch to Publication, two short story publications, and an Editor’s Choice Award. And there was the prospect of next year on the horizon. Next year, when I start to query The Order of the Key again, in hopes of finding an agent who will love it. And next year when I embark on two new projects that aren’t exactly about my writing, but have some interplay with that career.
Allow me to introduce you to my two new projects. Or should I say OUR two new projects.
Geektastic: My son, Logan, wanted to be a YouTube sensation. My husband, Ismael, missed doing reviews. My sister-in-law, Megan, wanted to start a BookTube review channel, but didn’t know where to begin. I wanted a way to show off how damn random we all are, and wanted to have a place to openly be meta about geeky things.
This is what lead to Geektastic. We put our minds together, and decided to create a YouTube channel/blog where we could openly discuss all of the wonderful things that make being a geek so kickass…and so that we could offer an alternative to adults. Fun, kid-filled YouTube channel with gaming, toys and memorabilia, that speaks about some more sophisticated television, books and movies, but in a way that’s totally family friendly.
We’re still working on our first video, but it will be available in January. In the meantime, you can view our website and go follow us on our social media links, because we want you along on our adventure. Check it out at www.geektastic-manzanos.com.
The Inkwell Council: After leaving my work at Fantasy Works Publishing behind me, I was told by one of the writers there that they would miss my editing work. I am also constantly asked by my close circle of writer friends to read their stories, to help polish them up. I came to realize, I could help new writers. Maybe not with entire manuscripts, but I could read their first three chapters, and offer suggestions. It wasn’t about money. It was about giving back to a writing community that gave to me.
A discussion with Ismael revealed he missed writer’s workshops. Last to join was Megan, who was trying to make a living doing freelance edits, but didn’t have enough exposure and wasn’t sure how to build a client list. Moving forward together, we created The Inkwell Council, a manuscript editing service with specific rules. Basically, if you have no writer’s critique group, and you want someone to polish up the first three chapters of your Fantasy manuscript (we could only do one genre we could all agree on) we’ll be there for you. For rules and specifics of our program, please visit us at http://www.theinkwellcouncil.com/. Submissions officially open in January. Please also follow us on social media, which is linked on the website.
Add these two amazing projects to querying The Order of the Key, writing a new short story, and brainstorming on three other novels, and there is a busy year ahead. And the best part of it, is I will get to work with a big chunk of my family, whom I adore.
So, what’s new with your year? Anything exciting to look forward to? New projects? Let me know in the comments.
Either way, here’s to you and yours in the new year. May 2017 be a bright, shining light, leading as far away from 2016 as possible. 😉 Happy Holidays!
I know I’m a bit late, but I hope all of my American friends had a wonderful Thanksgiving.
I figured I’d write a little something about the things I’m thankful for this year. It’s been such a strange year. Sad in some places, but incredibly happy in others.
We lost my Grandmother this year, in April. But I’m thankful because I spent 32 years of my life with her in it. She was an incredibly strong woman, and she was very funny, and she is the matriarch of the Minners (my maiden name) family. She had three sons, two daughters, and a collection of zany grandchildren, great grandchildren, and in-laws from all over that map that she was very, very proud of.
I am thankful for the way our family bands together in times of sadness and I am thankful for a re-established relationship with some of my cousins, who I’d spoken to on Facebook, but I hadn’t spoken to in real life in years. I’m thankful for the way two cousins who live across the country from each other can discover all kinds of similarities and form a unique and close bond. I am thankful for positive family connections of all kinds.
I am thankful for new traditions and extra time spent with my parents and my in-laws. I’ve loved getting to know each of you better and better.
I am thankful for blood siblings, siblings through marriage, adopted siblings, all of whom are my best friends. I couldn’t get by without them. Melissa, Jon, Megan, Dorothy, Kristy, Julian, Joy, Allegra, Fruhmann, Frank, Jennine, Anthony, and Marissa.
I am thankful for nieces and nephews, both real and adopted – Genaro, Kaitlyn, and Angelica – every accomplishment is a joy to watch, even when it must sometimes be from afar.
I am thankful for the ability to move away from toxicity in my life, and for the opportunity to find myself and pull myself free from many of the doubts and fears holding me back in life.
I am thankful for the career success that Ismael, Megan, and I have all enjoyed in 2015.
I am thankful for the Fantasy Works Publishing team, who are working so hard to give birth to my first novel, Ismael’s first novel, and a host of others. I am so grateful to be a part of this team and to count them as my friends. I am thankful for the FWP writers as well. I can’t wait to help them all share their stories with the world.
To my day job and all of my bosses and friends there, who make my day-to-day bearable.
I’m thankful for an amazing set of really great friends. I have been very lucky.
I am thankful for good food, a roof over my head, for good jobs, for a good life.
And, most of all, obviously, I am thankful for my guys, Ismael and Logan, who deal with my general insanity on a regular basis and love me despite it. They keep me in check and remind me regularly why I do all of this, and what kind of person I want to be. Seriously, the best husband and child I could ever ask for – perfect for me in every way.
And I am thankful daily for all of you. Everyone who reads my blog, all of the writing contacts I have made, and for the great online friends I have made in this way. Thank you all for being incredible.
I hope you had a wonderful day, and I hope you have a great holiday season.
Love to you all,
Kristin D. Van Risseghem tagged me to share seven lines from the seventh page of a work in progress. Naturally, I chose The Order of the Key. 🙂
I may have gone a tad over 7 lines, just because I’m a sucker for a decent ending. Also, just so you know – they just fought some creatures. Happy reading!
“Any more?” Kyp’s breath rattled from his lungs.
I really hoped he wasn’t depending on me to give the final all clear. “I think we’re good.”
He groaned and let himself slide to the ground, using the wall for support. “Just a minute. We’ll rest for a minute, then I’ll take you back home before more come.”
“Uh-huh.” I plopped down beside him. The concrete was surprisingly cold. Now that nothing was trying to kill me, the adrenaline seemed to be wearing off, and my legs were starting to shake.
He winced. “Pretty sure I broke all of my ribs. Are you okay?”
I looked down at my legs. While they were blood covered, the wounds were mostly healed. “Huh. Must not have been as bad as I thought.”
Kyp shook his head. “Jaina didn’t tell you anything, did she?”
Now I’ll tag 7 other authors to play this game:
The puns that start off these link/news collection posts are really starting to get awful. I’ll admit that. Hell, I’ll own that.
News, In Case You Missed It
My short story, “Choosing to Stand Still” has been published at The Holiday Cafe!
Please check out my guest post on YA Fantasy writer Scarlett Van Dijk’s blog. The post discusses the superstitions of writers and the way they slow us down.
I may or may not have written a fanfic. Maybe I did. Maybe I didn’t.
Friends of the Blog
My little sister, Megan Manzano, got published again! Check out her creepy piece of sci fi flash fiction!
By this point, my character blog hop was a while ago, but if you missed the different steps in my section, you can start with Hannah R. Goodman’s post. Hannah is the creator of Sucker Literary and she writes YA novels. Check out her blog post introducing her character, Maddie. Hannah tagged me, which led to me tagging others.
Fantasy writer, fellow geek, and good friend of mine, Louis Santiago takes on sexism in nerddom in a two part series that is honest, a bit sad, and oh so true.
Just finished reading Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life by Dani Shapiro. It is a very good book and is very informative regarding the writing life. However, I found I disagreed with huge chunks of it which, I suppose, goes to show that every writer’s experience is very different. Either way, the book was an interesting read.
Lucienne Diver is a literary agent at The Knight Agency and I love this blog post she posted about how to tell if your manuscript is Young Adult or if it falls into another closely related category. I particularly love her view on why so many adults love YA.
Grammar lesson: How do you use each other and one another?
So you want to write about medieval fighting sword and are having trouble with the terminology? This video will help you.
While I search for an agent, I have come across many different types. Those I have submitted to have been open, with full communication, as I have chosen them for this reason. However, there are some interactions that can be…frustrating. Check out this wonderful tongue-in-cheek article containing the dos and don’ts of being an agent.