The Book Blogger

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Whether you’re just the classic book blogger or an author wishing to expand your horizon from writing extensively to reading extensively, book blogging has an advantage on both sides of the screen. If you’re an author looking for some more marketing exposure, there are many benefits to taking the plunge and sending your book around to some of your favorite blogs. If you are seasoned book blogger or book blogger to-be, creating your identity  and review criteria will be key components to building your audience and its success.

Book bloggers get to pick and choose the genre they want to focus on for their blog. The broader the mind of the blogger is, the better chance you have of sneaking your book on their website for a review. By doing this, you can branch out to a new fanbase or a new demographic of readers. If you’re a newer author, going to a more established blog will help your exposure. But, if you’re more experienced, granting your presence to a smaller blog will help them as well. It never hurts to be a Good Samaritan, especially during this ‘season of giving.’ If the blogger has criteria in which they review, see if you meet them and if so, move forward with handing in the application. If not, maybe consider starting your own.

Or indie and self-published authors can really utilize the book blogger or the identity of being a book blogger. An author can become the book blogger. Some authors can take the time to review other books within the genre they feel most comfortable with, especially if their own novel is of the same genre. If you, as an author, wish to grow within your craft but need some guidance, you can always use the blog as a way to review books outside of your comfort zone.

Creative Writing In School

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A few articles have surfaced recently discussing the assessment process of creative writing and how to properly do that without having an opinion. My brain started to question, why in the world would you want to be opinion-less with something that NEEDS opinion?

In a school setting, creative writing projects ultimately need to be written for its intended audience (a.k.a your professor or English teacher). Sure, people recommend grading these assignments with the intention to purely assess for structural flaws or grammatical errors but we all know that often times the graders own personal preferences could also influence their grading process. With assignments which have deadlines, writing capabilities are challenged. It’s hard to adopt your own creative process when you have another person’s personal preferences and deadlines looming out in front of you.

Instead of making every short story project (or whatever story form you are practicing at the time) mandatory in a writing class or course, what if creative writing is used as a source of extra credit? Students are always looking for options for extra credit and teachers are always looking for ways to get their students more involved with their work- seems like a win-win for everyone. It would encourage writers to come forth and own their passion for putting their fingers to a keyboard. It also encourages writers to participate and challenge themselves if they choose to; there is no pressure of a week-long deadline or need to write a particular type of story. The best part is that grading isn’t an opinion here. If a student does the extra credit assignment, then BAM…check mark next to their name –  that’s it. Of course, if the grader chooses to give detailed feedback on how to improve sentence structure, character development, setting description, etc. they can.

A class also doesn’t have to have a creative writing focus to have this extra credit option. A teacher can still grant their students this freedom to challenge their writing skills when they please and not feel pressured on the grading system. It also puts more of a focus on themes within creative writing and/or creative writing altogether, which we all know we can use a little more of in our lives.

So, maybe we should see a transition of creative writing courses into groups, sessions, and after-school activities. It also doesn’t hurt to have a concentration in creative writing with that English degree though…

Hispanic Heritage Month

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From September 15th to October 15th, Hispanic Heritage Month takes over. A general inclusion of staple Hispanic foods, music, and basic history are taught to children and events based on different Hispanic cultures fill up community boards (although pride parades happen throughout the rest of the year). One part of Hispanic Heritage Month we would like to focus on here at HRM are some Latinx writers who have made their mark on the publishing industry.

Thanks to the Library of Congress and the interviews conducted with each author included on this list, we hope you can indulge in the works of these talented individuals not only this month but throughout the entire year:

  • Gina Franco
  • William Archila
  • Juan Felipe Herrera
  • Laurie Ann Guerrero
  • Tim Z. Hernandez
  • Diana Garcia
  • Brenda Cardenas
  • Rigoberto Gonzalez
  • Valerie Martinez
  • Richard Blanco
  • Carmen Gimenez Smith
  • Eduardo C. Corral
  • Fred Arroyo
  • Maria Melendez

Educational Waves in Writing

Writing is one of the oldest forms of expression. It allows us to communicate with people who might be hundreds of miles away or even a complete stranger. But, over the past ten to fifteen years writing has dramatically evolved.  Simply put, the act of writing in everyday life has drastically increased. Before the explosion of Facebook, Twitter, and blogging the available writing venues were very limited. If you didn’t need to write for your job, you might write an opinion piece or letter to your local newspaper or a birthday card to a friend or loved one. You might even write in your own journal or diary, but that was likely only seen by your own eyes.

With the onset of social media, people started making daily posting about what they were feeling and thinking about at that moment, what they were doing that weekend, what vacation they were going on next, or how they felt about current events and local happenings. Twitter thrives off thousands of people writing thousands of words each day. The accessibility of blogging websites enables anyone to write about whatever they want whenever they want to. Social media gives us an instant audience that we never before had. At the end of day, if you are actively using any form of social media, a large portion of your  free time is taken up by writing. Whether you are writing heart felt realizations or complaining that your coffee is too cold, you are writing and communicating in a way that our ancestors never have.

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With the increase of the importance of writing in our daily lives, I have been interested in seeing how the education of writing will change. I recently came across an article in the Columbia Spectator about Barnard’s new first year writing program.  Changing a first year college course syllabi is a difficult thing to do because it has been so ingrained in the fabric of the school’s educational experience for years. You don’t want your students to miss out on essential lessons they will need to have a successful schooling experience, but each year the students are different, their experiences are different, and the world they are coming from is different than the last. As students adapt to the world in which they live, therefore our educational system must adapt as well. The course change made at Barnard is a big step, but a necessary one. Many people can’t go a few hours without at least writing a few sentences and Barnard is recognizing a need for a change in writing education in order to prepare their students for success out in the real world.

The first-year writing program will focus more on writing technique than the previous program. There will be fewer books and more of a focus on writing instruction. It always somewhat baffled me that in a first-year English course, there wasn’t much writing at all. You maybe had two to three essays throughout the semester with no real discussion revolving around the assignments. The professor would put a few marks on the paper and you would move on. Most of the time was spent reading and discussing what we had read. Why do we neglect such a large part of our everyday lives? Writing is hard to avoid, so why do we avoid it in the classroom? Is it our pure ignorance to the changing times or are we purposely trying to set our youth up to fail? A large part of an education is learning how to be a functioning part of society and having the appropriate skills to get us from one life stage to the next. Writing is one of those skill sets we all need to succeed in today’s world. If we aren’t learning how to write in the classroom, where do we turn to next? Kim Kardashian’s next tweet? I certainly hope not.

I am very happy to see advancement in the Academic world in response to what is happening in the real world.One cannot succeed without fully accepting the other. We can talk all day on this blog about how to write, when to write, and why we should write. But, if we aren’t practicing those skills in our day to day life then when we will ever truly succeed?

Write on.