Book Giveaways

I happen to have ended up with some doubles of the Penguin Greatest Loves series. These are dinky little books of about 100 pages each written by some certifiably great authors. I’ve been meaning to do a giveaway for a while now, but I couldn’t think of a good quiz idea. Anyway, then I thought how interesting it would be if bloggers came up with good creative writing exercises, or ideas for bookish posts they’d be interested to read, or any sort of strategy for encouraging the elusive muse. If you are interested in winning the books I’ll list below, just leave a comment featuring a writing prompt, a post idea or a creative strategy and at the end of the week, I’ll draw three names out of the hat. Which means I’ll split the books on offer into three parcels of two:

A: Forbidden Fruit – from the letters of Abelard and Heloise
Cures for Love – Stendhal

B: Bonjour Tristesse – Françoise Sagan (in English, I hasten to add)
Eros Unbound – Anais Nin

C: Bodily Secrets – William Trevor
The Women Who Got Away – John Updike

If you have a particular preference for A, B or C, do please say so in the comments and I will do my best to satisfy the winners. I’ll post anywhere in the world, so geography is no obstacle.


15 thoughts on “Book Giveaways

  1. First of all, this was not my idea. But, in my blog post entitled Precisely Meaningful, I wrote about an exercise a business acquaintance was asked to do in college for a creative writing course. Apparently, Hemingway was asked to do the same exercise, to wit: write an entire story using only 6 words. Hemingway’s story was: “For Sale: Baby Shoes. Never Used.” (Doctordi wrote an incredible one as a comment to that post which would have made Hemingway proud, I think. Please check it out.) I’m always complaining that something is “too long” – movies and books. (Most of my writing consists of legal briefs. The telling has to be short or the Court falls asleep.) Anyway, you might want to see what bloggers come up with when given a limit of six words.

  2. Well, I was going to tell you to write a short, short family drama in 100 words or less a la “100 Proof”:, because I keep thinking I might try my hand at doing so with ghost stories. Right now, that hasn’t gotten past the “thinking” stage, but it would be a very good daily discipline. Anyway, then I read Grad’s idea, which is even more challenging but similar. Is my idea different enough to qualify me for the book giveaway? If so, I’d like choice C, please (but any will do).

  3. Grad’s waaay too kind in that assessment, but actually the exercise was great. I thoroughly recommend it just for the different ways it taxes your brain.

    When I was down at Aireys Inlet with the Darklings for our writing retreat, I told them about that mean man who said something narky after the meme thing I did, and out of that came a conversation about the value of knowing 25 random things about the characters in our manuscripts. One of the Darklings was having trouble differentiating her main character from herself, and she found making decisions about these 25 things, thereby distinguishing her from her created character, extremely liberating and useful. This same Darkling has created a Writing Bible full of exercises and tips, and I’m pleased to say 25 Random Things has made it in there.

  4. Dropping one letter, such as the letter L, so that you can’t use it in a story about love. This is a lipogram, a very old idea. (I opt for B.)

  5. I’ve always been interested in the write from the future exercises, like “write your obituary” or (less morbid) “what would your self 10 years from now have to say to yourself today?”

    Interesting idea…I’ll be interested in other people’s ideas, too.
    (I’d be interested in the books in “A”…)

    Emilie S
    emvark at gmail dot com

  6. What a fun idea, Litlove. Something I do if my characters suddenly run out of things to say to one another (or if the tension falls flat) is put them in a broken elevator and see how they react to each other under stress. I’ve never used the actual scenes in any of my fiction but it helps me to see where the issues really are between the characters in question and I’ve been quite surprised at what comes out of their mouths, which can then be re-worked into a more relevant scene.

  7. What a great (and nerve-wracking idea). And I love the answers so far. One related idea to Grad and Emily’s suggestion would be to summarise a favourite book in 100 words or less. Here’s a few more ideas: 1) Write a one-page rapid response to the first picture that captures your attention on the Flickr Interesting page; 2) Write your story / book review / post as a Dialogue over Dinner; 3) A variation on the picture prompt would be to write responses to Rorschach cards as if you were your main character. I also love the broken elevator idea but I would put my characters in a therapy situation. What is the nub of the problem that they would be seeking help for? That’s it for the scatter-brain responses so far. (And C sounds the most intriguing to me but any prize would do.)

  8. Blogging friends, I am so proud of you! Just look at yourselves – you are stunningly brilliant!

    At the moment, I just want to give everyone a prize. 🙂

  9. How about a blog post on the first book you ever remember reading by yourself? Or, if you have already written about that, the book that made you cry the most or the book that made you laugh the hardest. Oh, or a book that made you angry.

  10. Rewrite a scene from the point of view of a minor character.

    Draw a picture representative of the a story or scene. Describe that picture to one who has never read the story or the picture.

    For blog posts: partnering with another blogger, devise a list of 10 potential post topics you’d like to read on the other’s blog. Exchange lists and commit to write on at least 3 of them over the next month.

  11. A bookish post I’d be interested to read is how favorite books and their meanings change as our lives evolve. I’m sure I’m not alone in having favorite books that I’ve read and re-read obsessively from a young age. The alchemy of reader and writer has always fascinated me, and I think that’s one of the best examples of it … the book you loved when you were ten may be a completely different book when you are twenty, though you may love it just as well. Alice Through the Looking-Glass is a book that continues to evolve for me personally, as is Jane Eyre .

  12. Stefanie, Cam, David – what wonderful ideas! Those are marvellous suggestions for blog posts and I will certainly be exploiting them over the weeks ahead! Really, the creativity of people who visit this site just astounds me.

  13. Not my idea, but it’s one I like — write a dialogue between two of your favorite authors. I’ve had to do this with theorists, but I think it would be interesting to try it with novelists or poets too — the direction their conversation would take might not be so obvious. Thanks for the giveaway!

  14. This was extremely nice of you, but as you so kindly just sent along a novel to me (which I’ve been enjoying), I thought it better not to be too greedy! 🙂 I think you’ve already written about Zola (must search your archives since he’s on my mind now). Personally I enjoy your France stories. Do you have any more of those to share?

  15. I like the idea of the interplay between setting and reading, and how the same book you read as a child might not have the same meaning for you, were you to read it many years later. This applies to travel, to childhood, to classroom reading, to books lent you by boyfriends, and so on.

    I have this fond memory of my mother reading The Hobbit to me when I was ten, my head in her lap, sleepy and safe. I’ve never wanted to revisit that book, because I fear that it would disturb that impression.

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