Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Announcing the ELF Scholarship!

Full Tuition Scholarship for a TCU Student Writer
Seventh Annual Sandra Brown Excellence in Literary Fiction (ELF) Scholarship

Are you a TCU student with a passion for writing? Do you know someone who is? Apply for the ELF Scholarship!

The Sandra Brown Excellence in Literary Fiction Scholarship was established by Sandra and Michael Brown to provide a full tuition scholarship to a TCU student who demonstrates both academic excellence and significant potential as a fiction writer.  The scholarship will be given to a rising junior with 54 or more credit hours and will provide full tuition for the junior and senior years.  Transfer students are welcome to apply.

How to apply: Interested students must submit a writing portfolio of 50 to 70 pages.  The portfolio must include an example, or examples, of the student’s original fiction—either short stories or part of a longer work—and a reflective introduction that discusses the student’s writing, goals, and interests.  Two letters of recommendation are required, and these letters must discuss the student as a writer.  To keep the scholarship, recipients must be an English or Writing major, maintain a 3.0 GPA or better, and remain active in TCU’s literary culture.

Deadline: Portfolios may be submitted either in hard copy or ecopy.  If submitted as hard copy, portfolios must be sent to the TCU English Department Office, 314 Reed Hall, no later than 5 p.m., on Friday, December 5, 2014.  If submitted as ecopy, they must be sent to by the same deadline.

For further information: Contact Dr. Dan Williams at, or call 817-257-5907. 

For more specific information concerning the construction and submission of portfoliosgo to

History of the ELF Scholarship:
The ELF scholarship was created by Michael Brown to honor his wife, bestselling novelist Sandra Brown. The author of 79 novels, 65 of which have appeared in the New York Times bestseller list, Sandra Brown has sold more than 80 million books worldwide. She was a 4.0 English major at TCU and received an honorary doctorate from the University in 2006.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Print is here to stay.

With the introduction of the e-book and tablet readers, many people are predicting the demise of printed media in the near future. However, I do not see such a Bradburian doomsday for the printed word. In fact, when looking at the current climate, there are many reasons for pessimists to reassess their half-empty glasses.

To see a brighter future, it is first necessary to look to the past. In his book, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business, Neil Postman notes that the United States is unique in that it was founded in the age of the printed word. In fact, it was one of the most literate countries in the world. This “Typographic America,” as Postman calls it, was integral to a democratic system because it was the only means of communication across a vast landscape. Just think: how would a democracy work in a country where citizens could not read the laws or understand their very freedom? The very size of the country would also make any sort of verbal discourse across states next to impossible! This foundation on the printed word still remains today. The problem with foundations, however, is they are hidden under everything else.

Today, media is overwhelmingly dominated by screens. But if one would behind those screens, he would see a thriving typographic landscape. Let’s start with the e-book, the printed word’s latest arch nemesis. Since 2008, e-book sales have grown 4456%, an alarming number to be sure; at least until one considers the fact that they still only make up 20% of all sales. Last year (2013), e-book sales grew by 43%, which is another healthy number except that it is the first time in three years that they have not grown by triple digits. One last statistic: 457 million e-books were sold last year compared to 557 million print books, but that is just hardcover! Finally, polls have shown that millennials—those people that are supposed to be so plugged into their screens—still overwhelmingly prefer physical print.

That’s not all the good news lurking behind the screen, however. According to the Internet Movie Database (IMDB), more than two hundred movies coming out will be based on books this year alone. While those pessimists might point to this as a sign of the cannibalization of print as a medium, I find it quite comforting. This is mostly because these big movies actually drive book sales, and not just for the juggernauts like the Rowlings and Sparkses of the world; a new trend has emerged in the past couple years where studios are optioning promising novels before they are even published. So in a way, films and television function as multi-million dollar book trailers.

Speaking of television, it too can drive book sales; shows like True Detective and Game of Thrones have proven this. True Detective is an especially interesting case because it shows how different media can feed on each other and boost sales and ratings. The show centers on two detectives trying to solve a cult murder, with the twist that the mythos of this cult is based on the book The King in Yellow, written by Robert W. Chambers and published in 1895. But the show never mentions this. Instead, it took io9, an online blog, to point out the fact. The end result was a significant spike in sales of the book through Amazon.

The future of print can rely on screens, and vice versa. So, while printed books will never be as powerful or popular as they once were, there is reason to believe that the foundation is here to stay. Now take another look at your glass.

by Ian Burnham, intern

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Book Trailers? Huh?

We’ve all seen the latest trailer for Captain American or Noah; movie trailers are a staple in our society today because film companies rely heavily on this type of advertising. The film moguls want to give the audience just enough of a taste to convince viewers that their movie is worth the trip to the theaters, the $10 movie ticket, and $15 food at the concession stands. For filmmakers making a trailer is fairly easy to do. They just edit together some of the footage that already exists.

For books, the challenge is ever more apparent.

Book trailers are rarely seen on television. If anyone has even seen a book trailer, it was probably for the latest James Patterson book. And yet, publishing companies like Scholastic make book trailers all the time.

For TCU Press marketing is crucial to get the word out about the unique books being printed. These books were published for a reason, and people deserve to know about them. Because books are a totally different medium that depends on the imagination of the reader, book trailer makers are presented with an array of different challenges.

Unlike movies, books don’t come with moving images. Many don’t come with any images, besides perhaps the cover art. Trying to assign a particular photo or drawing of a character can be a sensitive subject for readers, just as it is for readers of books with film adaptations. Additionally, book trailer makers must decide whether they want to stick with still images, moving images, or no images. Each present their own pros (like cost efficiency) and cons (like limited audience engagement), but many of these decisions depend on the budget and skillset at hand.

A running convention of book trailers is text (text with excerpts from the book or text from positive books reviews for instance); voice-over narration, another convention, is used much the same way with excerpts and reviews. A third convention that is quite useful—and I would say necessary—is music. Music can set the mood of the trailer and subsequently convey the tone of the book in a matter of seconds.

Book trailers serve a distinct purpose in the greater marketing scheme of book publishing. For many, book trailers are the 15 or 30 seconds needed to pique readers' interest.

by Rebecca Semik, intern

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Written Art

According to Webster’s Dictionary, a book is “a set of printed sheets of paper that are held together inside a cover.” It’s a simple definition for such an extraordinary object. Some people will see a book and cringe, unable to see more than just a stack of papers bound together. What is the point of a book? Why, as a Writing major, am I planning on dedicating my life to books, especially since they are “going out of style” and won’t be as important as technology advances? Those are questions I am asked almost weekly. Generally they are accompanied by a look of incredulity or a roll of the eyes. A book is so much more than papers tied together. A book is an eye-opening adventure; a book is source of inspiration; a book is a type of legacy; a book is a work of art.

Some books are obviously adventures, others not so much. For my internship at TCU Press, I am reading the architect Frank D. Welch’s memoir, a book I was hesitant about. I read fiction. I live for fiction. What was I going to do with an entire book about architecture? But did I read the memoir, and I was amazed by how intriguing it was. It took me on an adventure and opened my eyes to the thoughts of an architect. I learned new things (like, for instance, what a gabled roof is) and now find myself looking at buildings and wondering about the life of the person who created them. I was bemused about my reaction to the memoir and found myself wishing that it was longer so that I could learn more. It was an adventure because this was something completely new to me, and I was able to learn something from it, and that’s what adventures are about: learning things.

Books are unique concepts. They are the tiny thoughts of someone put together to create larger thoughts, to tell a story and to teach. They have a strange ability to inspire people to do things.

Because of the impact books have made on my life, when someone tells me that books aren’t going to be around much longer, I generally stifle a laugh. I understand that there are now eBooks and that sort of thing, but honestly they don’t hold a candle to the actual, physical copy of a book. Although some books do get lost from the hands of time, many do not. We still have writings like The Odyssey and The Iliad. Decades, if not centuries, from now, people will still know the names Harry Potter and Frodo Baggins.

Each book is a piece of art. It might not be one in the same fashion as a painting or a sculpture or even a symphony, but it is art and it is, in its own sense, everlasting and inspiring. Each book, each sheet of paper, is important in ways beyond just being held together. Books, no matter their genre, are the masterpieces of the Written Art.

by Shelby Hild, intern

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Authors that Inspire

I love books. And when people know you're a book lover there are some questions you will always get asked, one of those being, "Who's your favorite author?" Now, I don't know about you, but I always have trouble picking just one. Honestly, I don't think I will ever be able to say I have a for-sure favorite author. Rather, I have a list of authors who, in various ways, have inspired me, and in turn, influenced my writing.

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C. S. Lewis: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is the one book that I credit with having inspired me to pursue writing as a career.
I was introduced to his work, as many people are, through The Chronicles of Narnia. It was through that series that I realized the power that books have; books can be great vessels for presenting ideas or messages to all ages, especially ideas that may not be well received in other forms. Another thing I love about Lewis, was how he wrote in quite a few different genres. He wrote poetry, essays, science fiction, fantasy, nonfiction, and autobiography. It's really amazing, in my opinion, and hopefully one day, I'll read them all. Not only that, but it's proof that an author doesn't have to write in just one genre to be successful, I don't have to limit myself. Because of Lewis, I truly feel like I can write anything that I want to, I don't have to be tied to one thing for the rest of my life.

J. R. R. Tolkien: Because of him, I want to create a fictional world that is extensive, even if it's just a quarter of the depth he gave to his world.
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When I first read The Lord of the Rings in 8th grade my friends thought I had checked out a dictionary from the library. It was just all three books in one giant copy. Even now, in my last semester of college, I haven't nearly read everything Tolkien has written about Middle Earth. And that is one of the greatest things an author can do. I will always be learning more about this world that he created, and there will always be more stories to read. It's a massive amount of writing, not to mention the languages and maps and everything else he made just for Middle Earth. Tolkien's work with creating histories has been very influential on my own work. I've started working on creating my own world, but it is a lengthy process, to say the least, and it is nowhere near completion.

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Ted Dekker: As a Christian writer it can be hard to find a balance between the realities faced in life and hope, but his work showed me that it's completely possible.I'm not normally interested in reading thriller or suspense type novels (which is what he writes). I prefer the action and adventure. Then I picked up Black by Ted Dekker, and it just blew me away. The thing that I immediately fell in love with was the stark reality he presented in all his books (that I've read so far). I feel like sometimes Christian authors tend to idealize life in certain ways, their stories can have a polished air to them. And while that's not necessarily bad, and those books are great to read, it is refreshing to read a novel that can sometimes be a bit dark. Dekker doesn't mask all the bad things; not everybody lives, the protagonist is flawed, people get hurt, and families are broken. There is a reality to these novels that is not really presented in some other Christian books. So when I get stuck with how to write life realistically, I know I can turn to him and his books for inspiration.
These are just three of the authors who have influenced and inspired me. But while other authors and books give me ideas or spark my creativity, these three have impacted me in much bigger ways. They've drawn me in and shown me the possibilities, and I love what I see ahead.

by Laura Cisneros, intern