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Tami Cowden’s The Men We Love, the Women We Want to Be: Using Hero and Heroine Archetypes to Create Dynamic Characters

Tami Cowden, writer of The Complete Writer’s Guide to Heroes and Heroines: Sixteen Literary Archetypes, was in Atlanta recently teaching the workshop The Men We Love, the Women We Want to Be: Using Hero and Heroine Archetypes to Create Dynamic Characters. The day course was organized by the Georgia Romance Writers group.  

Cowden provided great insight on how to use different men and women archetypes to build our characters.
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To the Afghan woman who died on the street killed by a mob, you are not alone

“I watched a woman die today.” This is what I tell my husband as we are eating pepperoni pizza and watching a recorded episode of Seinfeld – part of our nightly routine. He doesn’t say anything for a while. We just stare at each other, pizza slice in hand. He can see the tears are beginning to pool on the corner of my eyes and turns off the television.

“She was beaten to death by a mob. Then burned,” I say this as I am picking at the crust of my pizza slice. I rip off small pieces with my fingers and put the baked dough on my mouth, chewing through the tears that are streaming down my face.

“There was a big crowd, mostly men, and they were cheering. There were so many of them. Standing on balconies, looking, recording. No one helped her.” I have the largest lump on my throat and have to set aside my plate to reach for a box of tissues. I had been holding this in since ten in the morning. It is seven at night.

I didn’t have to watch the video. No one in the newsroom makes us watch these things. But today, Afghanistan was under my watch and with the country came the story of this woman, a 27-year-old accused of burning the Koran. Her parents said she was mentally unstable. We were deciding what to do with this video full of horror and all the evils in our world. I pulled the clip on my computer and the moment I saw her face I couldn’t stop watching. My heart tugged at the screen wishing I could reach out to her, pull her out of the axis of that mob and give her refuge. Instead, I watched as men, so many of them, beat her with long wooden boards. They hoisted her up onto a roof and then pulled her down to the ground. They screamed things at her. They reveled in the blood covering her face. They kicked her when she was barely able to stand. I kept watching, because now I couldn’t leave her alone. Because by watching I was acknowledging the barbarity of the last minutes of her existence.

The woman didn’t survive. Towards the end of the video I watched her body burn. Whether she was still alive it was impossible to say.

The scene prompted an irrational anger in my heart. I was angry that no one helped her. That they watched on the side-lines, phones in hand, recording like it was an act in an impromptu play. And I was angry that from my chair in a newsroom in Atlanta, on the other side of the world, I couldn’t help her either. She had died alone, burned like trash on a street gutter.

When I got home I prayed. In Buddhism we have this special prayer called a mandala. It is a prayer offering everything that is beautiful and pure. Offering all the happiness and peace there is in this world – in all worlds. I made that prayer for this woman, whom I didn’t know and never would, but whose life was as precious as mine. I prayed for her happiness, wherever she may be. She didn’t have to be alone anymore.

Writing from your life and other things I learned in a one-day intensive with author Meg Medina

Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass won the 2013 Cybils Award and the 2014 Pura Belpré Award.
Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass won the 2013 Cybils Award and the 2014 Pura Belpré Award.

Last Friday, I attended a writer’s intensive workshop with the amazing Latina author Meg Medina. The workshop was part of the SCBWI Southern Breeze Springmingle 2015 Conference.

The best way to describe it: like group therapy for writers – we laughed, we cried, we wrote. It was by far the best writing workshop I have ever participated in.
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Second Annual Winter Writers Retreat

In January 2014, my critique partner Marie and I held our first winter writers retreat with the idea that it would become a yearly tradition. And it did!

Last weekend we held our second annual winter writers retreat with double the attendance! Yes, we went from two to four! Ha!

We were happy to welcomed Peggy and Lee into our little writing getaway. Peggy, a published author, is writing a literary biography, while Lee is working on her first manuscript, a contemporary romance. Marie and I are both working on contemporary YA manuscripts.
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2015 Contests for Young Adult Writers

In less than 2 months 2014 will be gone. Forever.

For my part I will spend last days of this year finishing a new manuscript (a YA summer camp themed romantic comedy). I will also be contemplating whether or not to enter said manuscript in a writing contest. 

To get warmed up I compiled a list of writing competitions that caught my eye. 

Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award

Amazon.com’s yearly manuscript competition which includes a YA category.

In 2014 Amazon received about 10,000 entries. They chose a finalist from each of the five fiction categories, all of which received an Amazon publishing contract and a $15,000 advance. Of the five finalists, they select a Grand Prize winner who received a $50,000 advance.

2015 Deadline: TBA – usually February 
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Happy Book Lovers Day!

In honor of the National Book Lovers Day I just placed an order for some amazing YA books. I have high expectations for this bunch, specially because the list include some of my favorite authors: Jay Asher, Gayle Forman and Stephanie Perkins.

I am down to one book from my Summer Reading List so it’s time to replenish the stash. Pronto!

Here are the beautiful books I just purchased. I included the blurbs for good measure.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saez

Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship-the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.

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The (real) Query Process… and how not to go insane while refreshing your inbox

Here I am, my second visit to Queryland, just a little wiser than the first. Once again I find myself experiencing the nausea inducing compulsive “inbox refresh.” So in order to share my misery with the world, I thought I would write a list of how this query process goes… for all of you who haven’t had the pleasure of the experience.

Here it is in 10 easy steps:

1) Pour your heart into a manuscript for months or years. This is key to heightening the query experience.

2) Decide that you are ready to query! Now is when the crazy starts.


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Evernote Tips for Writers

This blog post is based on a recent one-hour course I offered during the Romance Writers of America Annual Conference in San Antonio, TX.

It is a compilation of tips and how to’s for Evernote’s FREE online version. Many more features are available in the Premium (paid) version, but for the purposes of my research as a writer the free version works just fine.

Evernote is an online curator of webpages, notes, picture, audio files and even handwritten notes. I use it for all my online research as a quick method to save research and make annotations. And since it is a web-based product, I can log in anywhere to add content, regardless of whether I’ carrying my laptop or not.

THE WEB CLIPPER: 

My favorite Evernote application is the Web Clipper, which you can download for free, here: http://evernote.com/webclipper

The Web Clipper adds a curating tool – in the shape of a little elephant – to your browser which with one click lets you can save any online content into your Evernote files.

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My Summer Reading List

It has been a great Summer for reading! And so far I’m on track to finish the seven books I set out to read back in May.

The stories and the characters I have met have surpassed my greatest expectations.

First on the list is the Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy by the incredibly talented Laini Taylor. 

WOW! I devoured these three books in two weeks. Taylor has a rare talent for weaving in spiritual concepts in a way that is unique, original and utterly brilliant. The icing on the cake is her writing. Its beautiful and thoughtful, like a poem wrapped in a novel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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A baby? No thanks. I’m saving my womb for the alien apocalypse.

This weekend my husband Chris and I are going to a family reunion. It’s my family. Puerto Rican. Loud. And all over your business.

My grandparents are celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary and while I’m both thrilled and honored to be a part of such a magnanimous event, I’m dreading the question that I know, for sure, will be repeating itself. Over. And Over. Again.

What are you waiting for to have kids? Don’t you want kids? Why don’t you want kids?

That’s more like three questions. But they all sound like one long run-on question. 

“Well,” I want to tell them, “it’s not that I don’t want kids. It’s that I’m saving my womb for the alien apocalypse. You know, like Sigourney Weaver in the movie Aliens.”
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