Columns > Published on October 3rd, 2014

LitReactor Community Spotlight: September 2014

Oh, hello, I didn't see you there. This is definitely Nathan, and not some guy who found a laptop in the Chuck E. Cheese ball pit. I've been getting urgent emails from some guy named Josh (who I definitely know) telling me I'm supposed to write this thing, so I am doing it, just like I always do apparently.

It's now October, the month that ends with everyone frightening children for a night. It's fantastic. Really, what is September other than a doormat for October? So let's get through this quick and start hanging up the Halloween decorations early. Last year, I hung them up too late, and not even mild decomposition had set in before the trick-or-treaters started knocking. Nobody is scared of air that smells completely normal. It was really disappointing.

Stop talking about that and tell us about Arrest Us!

You may have noticed that we haven't made any major announcements about our crime contest Arrest Us this month. As I mentioned in the August edition of the Spotlight, we were still waiting on results from Todd, the managing editor of Thuglit and ultimate Chooser of Stories. We here at the site have been waiting for the results just the same as you guys, but a couple of days ago, I got an email telling me that we'll be ready to announce next week.

That's right, people. It's time to start refreshing your browser windows repeatedly.

In the meantime, feel free to tell us what you thought about how Arrest Us played out in the forums. What worked for you? What didn't? What might you have done differently? We're always tinkering with new ideas, and I'd love to hear yours.

In the Forums

Book Club: Burnt Tongues, edited by Chuck Palahniuk, Richard Thomas, and Dennis Widmyer

Have you checked out the LitReactor Book Club yet? Every month, we start discussion on a new book, often by authors and publishers that have some affiliation with LitReactor. Discussion on Burnt Tongues, which was edited by Chuck Palahniuk, Richard Thomas, and Dennis Widmyer, has already begun, so if you've read it, chime in. If you didn't make it this time around, don't worry. We typically post each discussion thread a month in advance, so you'll have plenty of time to prepare for November's selection, Echo Lake by Letitia Trent. Check it out! The Book Club is a great place to get to know our members and get involved in the community.

Character devices vs. Plot devices

This thread was actually created eleven minutes before I started typing this up, but it's a topic that affects many writers, especially ones who may not have taken one of these amazing classes that every now and then offer a course about character construction. Many writers start with stories, not characters, and in order to get from point A to F, they need, say, a generic bad guy to kidnap somebody. Generic kidnappers aren't interesting, so how do we take an empty puppet and breathe some life into our kidnapper? Discuss it here.

What qualities do you look for in an editor?

Though it's becoming a more popular route than it used to be, self-publishing can be scary. Unlike authors going through traditional publishers, self-published authors often have to format, market, and sell their book without any professional help, utilizing only the skills they can develop by reading sites like LitReactor. In this case, a writer is looking to self-publish her first novel, and wants to know the basics about what she should be looking for in an editor. She's certainly not the only person on the Internet with this question, so let us know what you think. (There's also an upcoming one week workshop taught by this guy Rob W. Hart that goes over the basics of self-marketing, and seats are still available!)

Tonight, instead of doing any writing...

This thread is really taking off, probably because it's a thread that allows writers to procrastinate by having them post what they're doing to procrastinate. I feel strange posting a link on a writing site that encourages you to share how you aren't writing, but whatever. The people have spoken, and I live to serve. Eat your heart out.

Community Spotlight

Every month, I will compile a list of those who sent me their accomplishments through the form submission page and post the results. If you want in, then do something amazing and tell me about it. You get the free publicity, and I get to brag about how awesome our community members are. The order of the list is decided by which submissions I get first, so get on it!

And this month, I present...

Erm, yikes. There's nothing here. Nobody submitted anything this month.

Okay. Don't panic. You've been trained for this. Think...

Ah, I got it. The problem can only be that nobody actually wrote anything this month. So the solution is to make you all write something. I will give you a prompt, and you write up to 100 words and post it in the comments. Whoever amuses me most will have their story featured in the next spotlight column.

And make no mistake. This is a punishment. For you will have to devise a scene in which this song can be the only suitable soundtrack:


Good luck.

A Look Forward to October

Things are going to be getting spooky around here soon. Do you have any idea how we might celebrate Halloween in the forums? I have a couple of small ideas I'm chewing, but I'd love to hear yours. Drop some ideas in the comments.

Alright, enjoy your homework, and I'll see you next month.

About the author

Nathan Scalia earned a BA degree in psychology and considered medical school long enough to realize that he missed reading real books. He then went on to earn a Master's in Library Science and is currently working in a school library. He has written several new articles and columns for LitReactor, served for a time as the site's Community Manager, and can be found in the Writer's Workshop with some frequency.

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