Monday, January 30, 2012

Quick Note

We've moved to our new place in Madison. We now live in a house with four other people. Our room is a complete mess with boxes and suitcases that need to be unpacked. So far we couldn't do our work, because we are still cleaning the other place.


I don't like moving into new places. I don't like changing my routine. But I'll be glad to narrate my frustrations and victories here once I get real time to sit down and write (right now I'm actually supposed to be getting ready to go clean).


Ah, before I leave, if you want to hear something amazing: We've reached our goal! Leebre.org is 100% funded. Actually, 111%!


Michael just now got here. I should go now. Bye! 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Writing and Publishing, A Writer's Quest

Hello!


How are you, bonitos?


First of all, thank you everyone for helping us out with Leebre.org. We're currently 79% funded, with 5 days left to continue fund-raising. It's a little nerve-wracking that we still haven't reached our goal, but we have faith in the project and in all of you. I'm personally impressed with all these messages on Twitter and Facebook, with people's willingness to continue spreading the word about us, and with all these awesome articles that people are publishing to help us out. Here are some of them:


Leebre Bringing Social Publishing to Indie Novelists, by TechZwn.com


Leebre: la piattaforma social per scrittori indipendenti, by Libriebit.com


Guest Post: Leebre.org -- Liberate fiction with free social publishing, by Rebecca Carvalho, published by Simplistik.org

Thank you! Michael is working really hard to make Leebre.org happen and he is really thankful that you guys are so supportive. Let's continue, though, posting more tweets, blog entries and whatnot about our Kickstarter page, because the deadline is approaching fast (*nervous sigh*)!

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Secondly, I must tell you the most recent news about my publishing quest: Cupid's Literary Connection's Love Triangle writing contest. And, no, it isn't a writing contest about love triangles. If it was, though, I could always find inspiration in Machado de Assis' Dom Casmurro. I doubt, however, any writer will ever be able to compete with Assis.

Cupid's Literary Connection is a blog interested in "matching up" writers with agents, and this month they are hosting a contest to expose 25 YA novels to two literary agents. My latest novel, Daphne's Book, was selected to be one of entries. Here's my query and the first 250 words:

Title: Daphne's Book
Genre: Bildungsroman within the YA genre
Word Count: 100,000

Query:

Daphne's Book is the story of Daphne Chase, a melancholy 18-year-old girl obsessed with writing her first novel. Against her father's will, she moves to the town of Middleton to study creative writing at McAdams College. Abelard Chase, an established author of Byronic nature, doesn't believe that studying writing will help his gifted daughter become the writer she wants to be. Although leaving her house means stepping out of her comfort zone and exposing herself to others, she decides to fight her social anxiety in order to find a writing environment away from her father's alcoholism and stubbornness. Adjusting to life in Middleton and managing to develop the plot of her book, however, proves to be harder than she had expected. Daphne drifts from innocent reverie to dangerous delusion as she stumbles upon a series of misfortunes that range from being ostracized by those who mock her social awkwardness to the death of someone dear to her.

An introvert suffocated by a world that demanded from her an open, vibrant behavior, Daphne finds herself clashing with other students and her neighbors at the Franks' Inn, where she lives. On an attempt to survive and find inspiration, she is gradually more inclined to long walks in the woods where Esther, The Witch, hides. Her only friend and companion is the Masked Man, a mysterious young man who silently follows her wherever she goes.

As life becomes more difficult after disappointments and one frustrated attempt at falling in love, Daphne fully withdraws from society and immerses herself in writing. She is constantly visited by her characters and other creatures that inhabit her imagination. Daphne soon realizes, then, that a complete downfall to madness seems to be the only way she could ever be able to finish her novel. But, letting her mind wander away to accomplish her only ambition in life also meant risking losing herself forever. 

My name is Rebecca Carvalho and I'm a 23-year-old Brazilian author with work published both in Brazil and in the U.S. I have a B.A in English from Lawrence University, and I currently live in Madison, WI, where I work as a freelance journalist and writer. My most recent published piece was a contribution to the war memory anthology Operation Legacy, edited by the NGO Old Glory Honor Flight, and currently available on Amazon.com. My work often covers the boundaries -- or, rather, lack of boundaries -- of creativity and what happens when one can't separate delusion and reality. I'm also devoted to everything that has to do with what I'd call "the voice of youth." I keep a blog where I regularly discuss writing, and where I also interview teenagers and young adults about their frustrations with today's society, their goals and ideas on how to be more active in the present. 

First 250:

A man was standing behind the oak tree on the other side of the river. He had been doing that for nearly a year now, tirelessly watching the Chase family's house, without food or water, without rest.

He was no more than a vulture -- His face anonymous, his intentions hidden. But Daphne knew he wasn't someone to be feared. At least not yet. Being the daughter of Abelard Chase had taught her that even shadows, when properly tamed, could be helpful and surprisingly friendly.

Daphne craned her neck from behind a curtain and peeked at him like she did every morning right after getting up. She sighed. It was almost comforting to find him there every day guarding their grounds.

He always stood straight like a good soldier, but this time he leaned on the tree trunk. Daphne instinctively knew there was something wrong with him, and wondered whether he knew she was leaving later that day. Was it possible he knew she planned on never coming back home?

She walked away from the window and stood by her desk, where her notebook still laid open from her previous attempt at writing. She lazily stretched and tried to adjust her thoughts before breakfast. That was an important day for her, and she was nervous. It was still very early, and she thought of meditating. But, instead of hearing the ticking noise of her alarm clock, she heard music. Her heart skipped a beat. It was Heitor Villa-Lobos' Fifth Bachiana.

I am really excited that I'm getting a chance to expose my work. Unfortunately, so far any of the agents showed interest in reading more chapters. I was glad to see, though, support from people who believe in my writing. Maybe one day I'll make them proud of me.

Daphne is a dear character, and she's taught me a lot. Since the first day I had the idea for her story, I knew she was special. In fact, she feels very concrete. She's like a real person, a real friend. She's part of me -- though not like a daughter. She's my conscience. I'll continue fighting to see her published.

Thank you, and continue enjoying the first month of 2012! 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Leebre.org -- Liberate fiction with free, social publishing

Hi. I posted about Leebre.org some time ago, but I thought I should work on another blog entry about it, since we got our Kickstarter project going.

You guys know how writing is my life. If you follow this blog, you also know about my quest to get published. I often befriend aspiring authors on Twitter, and all of us always whine about querying, about our own insecurities, about not getting agents, publishers and whatnot. For people who are seriously willing to live by their pen, the wait to get someone interested in your work is endless. The publishing industry is a very competitive business, and while some agents are very open to new authors, some not even bother reading our queries.

I’ve often wondered why writers and other artists are often depicted in movies as depressed, melancholy people. But, guess what. . . the many rejections we get are more than enough to turn us into a bitter crowd.   

I was very happy to find out, though, that there are many other writers out there who opt to publish their work independently. If you’re a writer, you should be able to show your work to people once it is done, right? Why keep it anonymous while desperately trying to impress literary agencies and publishing houses? Some of us just go and say “no, I’ll get this published whatever the means are, because nothing stops me from being a writer.”

The way I see these independent writers is as if they were explorers looking for new lands. They are brave, and confident enough to go about sailing, trusting that they are going to reach their goal -- a place they only see in their dreams. And once they reach it, they have to explore it without maps, because there aren’t maps describing the world of independent publishing. At least not yet.

What if, though, these pioneer writers didn’t have to go on adventures on their own? What if they didn’t have to fight occasional sea monsters alone? What if there was something that supported them, some place where they got advice from other pioneer writers just like they are, some place where they didn’t meet hostility, where they didn’t have to wait, where they could be just as prepared like other authors under the guidance of publishing houses? This place could be Leebre.org.

I humbly believe that Leebre.org is an innovative platform in the sense that it offers tools and a free, safe gathering place for independent authors who might be feeling lost and lonely in this vast publishing world. Up until now, some of its features were only made available for authors working directly with publishing houses. For instance, Leebre.org will allow authors to format their work with beautiful, professional looking typesetting -- and, guess what, if they know nothing of design techniques, they don’t have to worry about it, because the website will do this for you.

Everything about Leebre.org is to make publishing, formatting, engaging with audiences as easy as possible. The website is being designed to be completely community-oriented, and to allow an easy exchange of ideas between authors and readers. Yes, because Leebre.org is also aiming at empowering readers with a more complete library of books they can easily download, discuss about, and even help edit (if that was the author’s wish).


Another special feature Leebre.org will offer is the donation button for authors. Once they publish their work with Leebre, a donation button will be made available for readers to support their favorite authors’ works. In a way, it’s like arts patronage back again. There is also the option to associate your work with an NGO or some other cause, which means that everything that people donate will serve philanthropic causes of your interest. We’re hoping that this feature will attract already established authors as well, in case they’d like to support a cause.

Everything published with Leebre.org will go under a Creative Commons license (authors, of course, will be able to pick which aspects of the CC license best suits their interests). But why? Because we want these authors’ works to be immortal. It is absolutely ridiculous to think that many works out there can’t be released anymore due to expired copyrights that don’t interest publishers anymore. The CC license also functions for educational purposes, in the sense that more readers will be able to improve their libraries and have access to more thinkers.

Please, check out the Creative Commons website for more information about their licenses.

Finally, Leebre.org is also thinking about international communities. We’re hoping to translate it first into Portuguese, and then into other languages. Other features will make it easier for graphic novels and picture books to get published with us, and we’re planning on starting a creative writing forum that should allow writers and readers hone their skills.


We really need your support to make Leebre.org happen. We’ve launched our Kickstarter project and it is now 58% funded, but we only have 9 days left to fund-raise. You can help us with pledges on our Kickstarter page, spreading the word about it on Twitter and Facebook, and telling your friends to check out our Kickstarter as well. If you have a blog, why not write a quick entry about us? We’re also open to interviews, in case something is still unclear for you.

Join us on our quest to liberate fiction!
-- Becca, on Behalf of the Leebre Team.   

Friday, January 13, 2012

Wintry Writing

It's finally snowing a lot in Madison. Tonight, as we went on our crazy mission to get energy drinks, we were able to greet those beautiful snow flakes properly. It is really cold -- miserable, really. . . -- outside, but I can't help feeling happy and comforted to be in this winter wonderland again. I'll be going back to Brazil soon, and only God knows when I'll be able to see snow again. I want to have it around as long as possible, so I could say goodbye to this side of nature I won't find at home.


Here's a video of what I saw this afternoon. That's the view from our current place in Madison:


video

The forces of nature up here always felt too aggressive compared to what I was used to in Brazil. At the same time, though, they are also so soothing. When I walk outside, I feel my face is burning, every single vein and artery start stinging. . . My soul becomes restless, it doesn't let me breathe. It stabs my lungs, my muscles, ripping them from within to find freedom and run back to some place where there is warmth. After agitation, comes numbness. Completely numb, then, I can appreciate beauty in these cold winters. 

I open my window at night and fill my lungs with freezing air. They fill up quickly with ice particles, and I start to cough convulsively. It hurts, but it tells me I'm alive. The air feels fresh, and it is even more refreshing after hours indoors, after hours in a stuffy room. I look up, and my upturned face contemplates an orange moon. This week, there was even a blue shooting star. It was startling, and beautiful. . . A blue fireball crossing the sky.

video

We look at the stars and point at them wondering whether they are planets. Is that Venus? Could that be Mars? Oh, look, it's moving! I guess it's just an airplane. . .  And then I write. And daydream an awful lot too. My stories become cold. My characters are cold. They are freezing. Snow flakes burn their skin, just like mine. But they don't mind it. They are alive. . . we're alive together.    

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

The White Wolf

This week, I had a strange dream. I dreamed that Michael and I were observing mountains. We were standing behind what looked like debris of what probably had been a house on the outskirts of a city. Behind those debris, the city. Ahead of them, nature. Wild nature, in fact.


As we watched the mountains, I noticed a white wolf. The mountains were white too; the whole region was covered in snow. The wolf looked at me. It looked at me from the mountain, and although it was far away, it scared me. I was terribly frightened. I knew it would come for me. That wolf was faster than all other wolves, and I knew it would reach me soon.