Long and Short Reviews has just opened their submission box for their annual Winter Blogfest.
Who can participate: Anyone who has a book to promote and who follows the instructions.
What you will get: Free promotion of your book on a busy, well-respected bookish site.
What you‘ll need to provide:
A 250-500 word guest post about winter or any winter holiday (Christmas, Solstice, Hanukkah, New Year’s, etc)
A small prize like a free ebook, bookmark, etc.
A short biography of yourself. Think 2-3 sentences on average, although longer is okay.
A picture of your book cover (and one additional photo to illustrate your post, if desired)
Links to your website, social media accounts, etc (if desired)
Last day for submission: December 12, although the 50 available slots sometimes fill up much sooner than that!
How to submit: Follow all of the instructions on this page. If you have any problems, that page also includes contact information for the person at Long and Short Reviews who is organizing this event.
Publication dates for submissions: December 20 through December 31. Your exact publication date is influenced by a few factors, including how early you submitted it and which winter holiday it references. For example, Hanukkah posts would probably be scheduled first thing since Hanukkah happens in early December this year, and all New Year’s posts are generally pushed as close to December 31 as they can be.
I hope to see some of you over there next month! This is a fantastic event I look forward to every year.
Over the past year I’ve interviewed spring, autumn, and winter. Today I’m back with an exclusive interview with summer!
Lydia: So about the pineapple head. Didn’t we agree that you’d show up in human form today?
Summer: Technically, yes. Since pineapple heads are more interesting, I decided to improvise.
Lydia: Okay, will I be talking to a pineapple for this entire interview?
Summer: Maybe, maybe not. But at least I’m not perpetually late like spring is! I even showed up early this year.
Lydia: I can’t even argue with that. You made your presence well known in May and June. What have you been up to?
Summer: Growing and stuff.
Lydia: Yes, that is what you’re known for. Can you tell me more about how that process works? Spring and Autumn have both talked about how much effort you three put into the growing season.
Summer: The plants are the ones doing most of the heavy lifting there. We mostly just need to keep them on task. Jack Frost and Mother Nature used to help us set the schedule there. It’s gotten trickier now that the climate is changing so quickly, but at least some of the plants like heat waves.
Lydia: You don’t seem very concerned. I’m surprised. Some of your coworkers had a very different approach to this problem.
Summer: I’m concerned about my heat-sensitive plants and animals, but I can’t fix anything. It’s up to you humans to figure out how strong you want your summers to be. You do seem to be improving lately, though.
Lydia: Yeah, we’ve been staying home more as a species.
Summer: Well, that’s good! I hope it lasts. Winter hasn’t been looking too good these past few decades. I work better when I have a stronger foe.
Lydia: Is that how you think of the other seasons?
Summer: Obviously. Isn’t this all a contest to figure out why summer is the best season of them all?
Lydia: Yeah, I don’t think that’s how any of this works.
Summer: Okay, so we grow food, too. But mostly it’s a contest and I’m winning. That’s all that matters.
Lydia: Don’t you ever think about the paperwork or logistics involved? Do the other seasons know this is how you act?
Summer: What’s understood doesn’t need to be explained.
Lydia: Wait, why are there two of you now?
Summer: Technically, you’re not talking to a pineapple anymore. You’re talking to two of us which means I’m following the rule.
Lydia: You like to look for technicalities, don’t you?
Summer: It’s by far the best way to spend your summer. I mean, how else are humans going to count ice cream sandwiches as dinner or decide they don’t need to wear sunscreen at the beach after all?
Lydia: I don’t even know anymore.
Summer: Now you’re getting the spirit.
Lydia: This wasn’t what I was expecting, but somehow you’re exactly who you needed to be.
Summer: Thank you.
Lydia: No, thank you. This interview has been very illuminating.
Last year I interviewed spring and autumn. Today I’m back with an exclusive interview with winter!
I’ll conclude this series with an interview with summer later on this year…that is, assuming winter eventually decides to concede their post.
Winter: Hey, I heard that!
Lydia: My apologies. I didn’t think you’d join us quite so soon.
Winter: Well, I was a little tardy showing up this year. And spring did warn me about you. 😉
Lydia: Heh, I heard a few things about you from spring as well. How have you been?
Winter: Things are changing rapidly for me. I’m sure you’ve all noticed how winter is different than it was in generations past.
Lydia: Yes, we sure have. How has climate change affected your work? It sure seems like your season has changed the most as a result of it so far.
Winter: I’ve noticed the same thing. Of course there have been shifts in our patterns in the past, but never this severe or rapid. It’s one thing to switch off duties with spring or autumn during the transition periods, but now it’s happening in the middle of my shift!
Lydia: That must make managing the weather pretty tricky.
Winter: It sure does. Sometimes I wonder if I’m even finally going to meet Summer one of these days. Spring and summer say we have oddly similar personalities.
Lydia: Hopefully, that won’t happen. Summer has been dealing with extreme temperatures, too.
Winter: What, you don’t want a heatwave and a blizzard in the same day?
Lydia: As tempting as that would be in the heat of August, I think the plants wouldn’t like that.
Winter: Well, I don’t like the plants!
Lydia: Wait, what?
Winter: I’m totally joking there. I forget that not everyone gets my frosty sense of humour.
Lydia: Okay, good. I was quite surprised for a second.
Winter: I’m not actually supposed to know the plants. Most of them die or hibernate by the time I show up, and the few stragglers left aren’t the best conversationalists.
Lydia: Does this mean all of the seasons are able to talk to the plants?
Winter: Yes, but humans weren’t supposed to know that. Forget I said anything.
Lydia: No worries, I won’t press the issue, but I’m going to keep this in mind for my conversation with Summer.
Winter: Just don’t tell them I said anything. Proprietary secrets of the trade and all. So what else do you want to know?
About six months ago, I sat down with spring to discuss what it feels like to be that season of the year. Today, I’ll be chatting with autumn, and I hope to eventually get ahold of winter and summer, too!
Lydia: Welcome, autumn. I’m glad you were able to make it.
Autumn: Thank you. Was I on time this year? What has spring been saying about me?
Lydia: You showed up exactly when I expected you would. Spring was curious about your work, but she mentioned that your opposite schedules make it impossible for you to meet. When, exactly, did you wake up this year?
Autumn: It’s hard to say. Summer and I like to trade duties in September, so I had a few short naps while we were in that transitional phase.
Lydia: How is your relationship with Summer in general?
Autumn: Excellent. We both have serious personalities and strong work ethics, so I always enjoy taking over their last few projects of the year. Usually, I need sprinkle some rain and sunlight in that general direction and allow the plants to do the rest.
Lydia: That sounds easy.
Autumn: Well, not so much easy as it is predictable. As long as all of the other seasons have done their part, the process is fairly simple, but it does still require close attention to make sure everything ripens the way it should and everyone is set for the winter. That season can be a harsh one, so I try to make this transition as gentle as possible.
Lydia: I understand. How often do you run into problems with your line of work?
Autumn: Lately, it’s been growing more difficult. My department has noticed warmer temperatures and an increase in violent storms over the last century. We do have some tricks up our sleeves for dealing with unexpected weather, but problems in one season can bleed into the next if we’re not careful.
Lydia: What sort of problems? Also, I didn’t realize each season had their own department! How does that work?
Autumn: Well, too much or too little rain in one season can make it difficult for the plants to grow properly. An unseasonably warm autumn or winter might sound like a nice idea if you live in a cold climate, but those mild temperatures can lead to a higher percentage of insects surviving the winter. Those insects and their descendants may then eat more plants than be replaced that next summer or drain the life out of caribou. It’s a real mess.
As far as our departments go, I have several people on staff who keep track of things while we’re asleep. Summer has about the same number that I do. Winter and spring mostly work alone as far as I know. My support staff have their own hibernation cycles, so sometimes I do see new faces when I wake up. But they all help us communicate with the seasons we spend little to no time with, and that’s always appreciated.
Lydia: Wow, that is so interesting. I didn’t realize that at least some of the seasons were run by multiple folks.
Autumn: Yes, I’m very lucky. I have no idea how winter does it alone!
Lydia: Not to change the subject, but I do have a few questions about the holidays that are celebrated while you’re in charge. What do you think of them? Do you have any favourites?
Autumn: I hadn’t really thought about that! Most of the time, that stuff is managed by the Department of Human Affairs. It varies so much from one culture to the next that my work only occasionally brushes up against that topic. I will say that I appreciate any human festivity that involves going out into nature and enjoying the change of seasons.
Lydia: That’s wonderful to hear. Would you like to leave my readers with any parting words?
Autumn: Yes, watch out for winter. He’ll be here before you know it, and he might have a few tricks up his sleeves!
Happy Independence Day to all of my American readers! The Fourth of July is an ordinary day here in Ontario, so I’m back to blogging about the sorts of topics I generally discuss here. If you haven’t already checked it out, why not go ask me a few questions about what it’s like to live in Canada?
Writer’s block is a topic I’ve been meaning to discuss on this site for quite a while now. I’ve had my own trouble with it in the past, up to and including brainstorming for something as simple as a blog post topic. Today I wanted to share a few techniques that I use to deal with this problem when it happens. If you have anything else to add in the comment section below, do speak up!
Balance Multiple Projects
On any given day, I’m brainstorming, writing, or reworking blog posts, my latest novel, future social media posts for myself, future social media posts for the organizations I volunteer for, book reviews, and more. If one of these writing styles isn’t working for me, I’ll switch to another one.
There is something about asking your brain to transition from one project to the next that can really get the creative juices flowing.
A tweet requires brevity while a chapter of a book might need me to dig deeply into the details of what is going on in that particular scene so that my audience will know exactly what is going on in it.
Do Something Unrelated to Writing
And when I say unrelated, I mean it! Pick an activity that you enjoy but that has nothing at all do with your current projects.
Go swimming or buy a ticket to the latest summer blockbuster you’ve been meaning to watch. Fly a kite, take your dog on an adventure, or have dinner down at the local pub. Book a weekend away at local campground or check out a special event in your neighbourhood that you’ve been meaning to attend.
Do these sorts of things without any sense of guilt or expectation that they will lead you to the next plot twist in your writing. Just enjoy those hours or days away without any thought of what’s going on with your characters at the moment.
Once you get back, there’s something interesting I think you should try.
Have a Conversation with Your Characters
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve talked to my characters. No, I generally don’t speak out loud to them, although more power to you if that works.
One visualization technique that I really like is imagining that I’ve sat down with my characters to have a cup of tea together. The conflict and tension in their storyline is nowhere near us, and we have all the time in the world to talk about what’s going on with them and how they want to react next.
Don’t ask me why this works, but I’ve found it very helpful in figuring out why I’m stuck on a particular piece and what sorts of things I should think about trying with the plot in the future.
Write Scenes Out of Order
For example, I generally find it much easier to write the middle of a story or novel than I do the beginning or ending. Beginnings need to draw the readers into the plot quickly while at the same time developing the character’s personalities and giving a good overview of what the world they inhabit is like.
As far as endings go, I always want to know what happens next no matter how long a story is or how well it fleshes everything out. This is a good thing as a reader, but as a writer it can make it tricky for me to know when to wrap things up.
Middle sections are my sweet spot, so they’re often the portion I try to work on if I get stuck. There are so many opportunities to foreshadow the ending or make more references to things I’ll put in the first few scenes when I’m writing this part.
Interestingly enough, this also works just as well for blog posts and tweets! Can you guess which section of this post I might have figured out first?
Pick a Different Genre
No, I’m not saying you need to publish what you write or that you need to start an entirely new project altogether. I’ve written plenty of scraps of things that will never see the light of day.
Here’s the thing about picking a different genre: it can often require you to use a different set of writing muscles. A romance novel is usually nothing like a poem about a rainy day. A short horror tale has a completely different feel to it then an autobiographical essay.
If you can, choose a genre that is something you’d rarely to never read, much less write.
It’s been my experience that attempting to write a hardboiled detective story is a great way for me to start coming up with ideas for the genres I actually have experience writing. No sooner does my detective stumble upon the crime scene then he or she realizes that this isn’t the only genre going on in that snippet of a tale.
What are your favourite tips for beating writer’s block?
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It isn’t every day that a blogger nabs a chance to interview any of the seasons, much less one as highly sought-after as spring! I hope you enjoy our conversation. Spring: Sorry for running a few weeks late there. I lost track of time. Lydia: Welcome! It’s nice to finally meet you. I was wondering… Read More
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