Monthly Archives: November 2010

What’s Up Prima?

While watching Snow White the other day, my little one looks over and says to me:


     “Mommy, the queen from Snow White looks like Maleficent, they must be cousins.”


I had to chuckle. Then I got to thinking about…nothing else other than literary cousins (AKA the primo/prima of written word). Now what makes something a literary cousin so to speak? I figure they have to have some similarities. Right? Right. This is the kind of thing we authors wonder about. Is it appropriate to mention in a query that our book is similar to another? I mean does a literary agent or editor really want to hear all that? Besides what makes a book so fantastic if it is considered to be a literary prima to another book already out there?


So while looking out for ourselves we search titles on Amazon. We then Google similar titles all for the sake of originality. Then that dreaded moment comes when we discover how unoriginal we really are–“Wo is me! Aye me. Little me. Our book is drowning,” you say to your muse. You are perfectly still. Then it dawns on you that lemons don’t make juicy lemonade without a twist  of the fruit and a little sugar, and running shoes aren’t much aid to a runner without that special double knot in them to keep them secure on the feet. So you take a conference call with your manuscript, and why not, you have worked so hard on it? Does it have a similar voice, plot, setting, character(s)? You nail down the similarities and you chip away at the pieces that you fear have any slight echo. I’m not talking plagiarism. That little devil is a whole other story. Your creation just had to be a bit similar. How could you have known, you were too busy creating it! Slowly you realize something else. Aha! There it is! A hybrid. Your hybrid. 


Finally you pick yourself up from the nitty gritty dirt. You wipe your face. You tinker away until the sun goes down…and voila you are back in the game! Enough said. You are having a blast! 


You will find that there are sure to be ridiculous (shall I say hefty) amounts of literature similar to your own (even if but a smidge, a smudge, a little pinch even) if you are a writer. Somewhere out there every writer has at least one rockin’ prima. The great thing about literature is that everything no matter how similar it is, has a spin or a twist on it. If it didn’t, you wouldn’t get a kick out of these Literary Prima’s that may have caught your fancy, maybe you even found that they glimmer equal amounts–to your delight:

AND
AND
and just when you think you have had enough, here is a link to introduce you to MORE spin-offs of classics!
OR
AND
So similar and yet so different! Both a lot of fun to read before bed!
OR
AND
Corduroy
By Don Freeman
…both very adventurous bears who are more worried more about their tummies than the conflict at hand. Do I need to mention Corduroy too?
And what about all those stories about witches who don’t quite fit the norm, like:
AND
AND
..too many to post here! If you recall any others feel free to mention them by commenting. 
 
I could go on, but instead I have some insight for you…
 
 
Upon further research on this topic I found this bit of information in an article* by author Maria Nikolajeva: 
 
“Harold Bloom discusses in his widely known study The Anxiety of Influence (1973) a pattern of literary evolution in which every writer has a model, The Great Literary Father, from whose influence he (writers are by definition male in Bloom’s theory) must liberate himself. A true writer will, according to Bloom, achieve at least some degree of freedom from the model, both by absorbing and transforming his strength.”  
 
I found this quite interesting. I feel it is true we all have a model or model(s) that we pattern our writing after simply because we have read them and enjoyed them so much. This does not go to say that we do not struggle or fail to find our own voice in our writing aside from what we have come to enjoy in other works of literature. 
 
Reading further on into the article*, Nikolajeva states that “…the anxiety of not being able to compete with the Master is an inevitable part of the creative process.”  Without the feat of overcoming that fear, no author ever proceeds onward toward the high aspiration of publication. Or possibly the fear spurs the author on instead. What do you think?
 
I have to agree that this is something we all hope and aspire to–to be able to measure ourselves apart from the literary “master(s)” who came before us–to be able to measure our success and define our writing for what it truly is when our words come face to face with the critic or more importantly the author themselves. 
 
Those who paved that great literary path so that we too can lay our own brick down on the path–I hold my pen upward to them! 
 
*Article from:  Papers: Explorations into Children’s Literature Article date: May 1, 2008 Author: Nikolajeva, Maria
 

The article mentioned above is really very interesting. If you wish to read further (although this link does not give the full article only more than I have shared with you) you can click here to read more.

 
Your thoughts are as usual welcome in the comments!! What say you?
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Filed under Literary Cousins, Masterpiece Monday, What's Up Prima

Leave Nothing But Tracks: Social Media Suicide

Beware of Sasquatch…

As a writer/reader I find that there are certain passages that leave a mark on me, in my writing, or in another’s writing. It could be a mark for the better, one that helps define my writing style or one that helps me to break out of my shell–even if moving onward toward success is something I’d like to do on my terms–but being a writer makes that almost impossible with all the elements of social media available at my fingertips. So, unlike the mysterious, unseen, Sasquatch, I feel I have to believe that I’m following the motto, “leave nothing but tracks!” Because let’s face it, if you don’t put yourself out there, you might as well be invisible, and for an aspiring author….well, that is practically career suicide. Anyone else feel the same?

The beautiful thing about blogging and the blogosphere is that there is support to be found in it. So don’t shy away from all of it. Take a peek and dive into it, just remember to set your priorities straight first–moderation is key! 

Below is a song that sums up my feelings about the whole balance between, “promote the book/author with social media” versus “make your writing the best out there” versus “use all the mediums/innovations for your book in order to reach a huge audience.” There are so many innovations cropping up in the writing world…and I feel this song grasps the attitude of focus that it all requires and yet is a reminder to keep things real and fun! It also sums up the world of “aspiring” for me. What do you think?

As you listen keep in mind that where it says “music/song/lyrics” in the song, you need to be thinking “writing/words/book/novel, etc” in order for me to get the point across. Where it says ” music for the television”  be thinking “e-book/nookbook for the kindle/nook, etc”.  “record label, would be “publishing world” You get the idea, I hope. In no way am I bashing anyone or their efforts here–just saying it’s a tough world, but that one can make it out there and hit success, but only if they are willing to “leave nothing but tracks.”

Any opinions? Don’t be a Sasquatch…let’s leave tracks all within moderation of course. I want to hear all about your hard work! Project Mayhem has something to say about it. Here is the link.  

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Filed under Leave Nothing But Tracks, Woeful Workshop Wednesday

When You Wish Upon A Star

Several things going on today:

PiBoIdMo 2010 BEGINS! Yippee!

Also it is Open Mic Monday at the Query Tracker Blog (QTB) they are taking YOUR questions about “writing, editing, agents and the journey to publication.” Don’t miss out!

Masterpiece Monday! Down at Sergio Ruzzier’s blog Hey, Rabbit! there all kinds of books just hopping about to be read. Lists of favorites from kidlit lovers all over the blogosphere compiled right on his blog! I figure it’s time I compile my own list!

I’ve found some learn-to-read books for my kiddo–fun ones mind you–thanks to a tweet from the tweet vine! I’ll share them with you! So here is the code name…Molly Coxe! Check her out, or at least her books! Here is a link with a list of her books!

Finally I’ve compiled a list of my favorite books! You should too. I’d love to see what your favorite PB are! Maybe later I’ll compile similar lists for YA and MG books. I hope you’ll share your favorites too! There are so many more I’m sure will become favorites as I begin to read them! So to all aspiring authors–keep writing!

These are my favorites, in no particular order (I couldn’t stop at ten):

SkippyJon Jones (series)

(series)

 Now I have a wish, upon a star…

Dear Ommwriter:

Please make your program compatible with Windows and HP. There I said it!

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Filed under Masterpiece Monday, PiBoIdMo