Kootenai River in NW Montana, near Canadian Border

Kootenai River in NW Montana, near Canadian Border
photo by Gene Tunick of Eureka, Montana

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Tip O'Day for Writers #107

Guest blogger John Grover on the importance of patience.

As far as writing and getting published goes, the key is to have patience, extreme patience. No one gets published overnight. It took me a few years to get one story published and even longer to get professionally published.

While waiting to get published, you should be honing your craft, write as much as possible, everyday if possible. Read your work out loud, and have someone who is impartial critique it. Work on grammar, dialogue, sentence structure again and again. Even when you think you have it right, go through it again.

Read a lot... read everything you can. Read outside your genre. If you're a horror writer, read horror, from the masters and from the newbies, but also read sci-fi, fantasy, history, drama, romance and mysteries.

I think these things in a healthy combination can make you happy with your writing. You may not be a best seller. I've been writing since I was 18 and I am now 40. I am not a huge success but I am happy with myself. My writing is published, I have books to my name, and a good circle of fellow writers.

Saying for Writers #83

Another Quotation which Might (or Might Not) inspire you to write:

"A novelist is a person who lives in other people's skins." - E.L. Doctorow

Tip O'Day for Writers #106

Guest blogger Michael Laimo has a formula for success.

Write every day. And love what you’re doing. Join writer’s groups, both online and local. Attend conventions and network! And do not get discouraged by rejection — it’s all part of the process. You can learn from them!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Tip O'Day for Writers #105

Guest blogger Kellie Joanne Kamryn says “never give up.”

My first piece of advice for any writer would be not to give up. Rejections come in abundance sometimes, but keep learning your craft, keep networking, and keep researching which publishers might suit your work. For a couple of years, I submitted only to be rejected. I stopped submitting for a while just to get the feel for the industry and research what publishing houses might work well for me.

Use your instinct. Just because an agent or publishing house is a big name, if your instinct is telling you not to submit there, then listen to it even if you don't have a concrete "why" as to your feeling. Perhaps you're not ready. Maybe they just aren't a good fit. Talk to other writers about their publishing houses too. A good recommendation can go a long way on your search to being published.

Saying for Writers #82

Another Quotation which Might (or Might Not) inspire you to write:

"Popular success is a palace built for a writer by publishers, journalists, admirers, and professional reputation makers, in which a silent army of termites, rats, dry rot, and death-watch beetles are tunnelling away, till, at the very moment of completion, it is ready to fall down." – Cyril Connolly.

Contributed by Dan Anderson, author of mystery novels BAD VIBRATIONS and DEATH CRUISE.

Tip O'Day for Writers #104

Guest blogger Stef Mcd on what makes a story work.

The keystone to any story is the opening, which you must edit to perfection when the time comes.

Good characterization is what makes the story jump off the page - the reader relates to a realistic mix of personalities (and a varied mix it should be). To achieve this you can create character maps, a kind of personality file, adding as much as you can; you need only show the tip of the iceberg to the reader, of course.

Don't state the obvious to readers; they will become irritated if you write: "Clark switched on his wipers to clear the snow so that he could see the glimmering lights of the town in the basin." Consider instead: "Clark switched on his wipers until they cleared the snow and he could see the glimmering lights of the town in the basin." (Not killer prose but you can see the subtle transition.)

Make sure your story has a satisfying resolution with no loose threads left dangling. We can all remember sticking with a book to the end only to discover a flat anti-climax; your MC should have at least changed something/somehow along the journey through the book.

For new writers, I recommend Self Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King. It’s much more than an editing book and will save aspiring writers a heck of a lot of time if they read it before even setting pen to paper.

For more about this writer and his novel TULAGI HOTEL, check out http://www.tulagihotel.com/

Friday, July 29, 2011

Tip O'Day for Writers #103

It took guest blogger Heikki Hietala ten years to write his book and find a publisher. Here are a few of the lessons he learned.

My road to being published began 12 years ago, when I wrote Chapter I of a book I never thought I'd write. The next 10 years were full of perseverance, research, planning, ad hoc writing sessions whenever I had a free hour, and nagging self-doubt as I wondered if anyone would ever want to read me. As it turns out, I found a publisher willing to take the risk and print it, and now I've moved on to another. What did I do right during the trip?

One - I wrote what I myself wanted to write; I did not try to write what I thought someone else would want to read.

Two - I networked like crazy after I had a full manuscript, and that network paid off handsomely; not only did I get published, but I got the book edited too through the network.

And three - I never let go of the dream of a published version. The moment you let yourself think your book is not worth the effort, it becomes worthless. You must invest all your spare energy into it, and if your story is good, the book will be a good one too.

Another key, at least in my field of historical fiction, is research. One wrong plane type in my book would ruin the whole framework, but my editors spotted all the errors I made.

Saying for Writers #81

Another Quotation which Might (or Might Not) inspire you to write:

"The parody is the last refuge of the frustrated writer. Parodies are what you write when you are associate editor of the Harvard Lampoon. The greater the work of literature, the easier the parody. The step up from writing parodies is writing on the wall above the urinal." - Ernest Hemingway

Tip O'Day for Writers #102

Guest blogger Janette Lennox feels unworthy.

Janette doesn’t feel very worthy to offer writing advice “as I have still yet to have my first (real) book published (only several e-books at Amazon at this stage).” Her suggestion to all creative people is to follow your passion, for the sake of the passion, and it will always be rewarding.

Also, she offers a Robert Benchley quote close to her heart: “It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn't give it up, because by that time I was too famous.”

Dixon says: Too often we equate being a good writer with getting accepted by a major publisher. Some brilliant people slave away in privacy and their work never sees the light of day. Only about a dozen of Emily Dickinson’s 1,800 poems were published during her lifetime, and her genius was never recognized until after her death.

In today’s economy, it’s very difficult for someone to get traditionally published unless they’re already an established bestseller. Or named Oprah. Not impossible, but a lot more difficult than a mere decade ago.

Choosing to self-publish or go the Kindle route doesn’t make anyone a substandard writer. And an e-book IS a real book. Janette has a right to her opinions, and I think there’s real merit in her writing tip.

Thanks, Janette.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Tip O'Day for Writers #101

Guest blogger Robert N. Stephenson on the challenges of writing for publication:

In writing, the new writer learns many, many things. What is often forgotten are the long and lonely hours spent writing when your mind is questioning whether this is what you really want to do? It is true, writing itself is quite easy, but taking it to commercial publication is about the most difficult thing you will attempt in your life. Anyone can bungy jump or leap out of an airplane, but so very, very few will be able to write a publishable book in the commercial sphere.

The important thing for the writer to know at the start is that this will be a lifelong road of challenge, difficulties and rewards. By knowing of the pressures you will face, you may find your personal traumas of rejection and silence become less impacting.

Never give up. Never surrender.

Saying for Writers #80

Another Quotation which Might (or Might Not) inspire you to write:

“Is sloppiness in speech caused by ignorance or apathy? I don’t know and I don’t care.” - William Safire

Just a reminder to writers & poets who suddenly find themselves dragged from their caves and thrust in front of audiences: Toastmasters International is a self-paced program that will help you conquer stage fright and eventually come to enjoy interacting with crowds of book lovers.

Tip O'Day for Writers #100

Guest blogger Michael J. Pollack on writing YA.

If you write for young adults, remember what it felt like to want the privileges of adulthood but not the accountability. Remember what it was like to want to sit at the grown-up table but how hard it was to let go of the frivolous things of childhood. No other time in our lives do we straddle two worlds with so little guidance. Remember that feeling with every sentence you write, and you will truly be writing for young adults.

Dixon says: It’s refreshing to see so much YA written these days with teen sensibilities, not as if they’re just short adults. I don’t read a lot of YA, but found both the Harry Potter series and the Hunger Games trilogy as compelling as most adult fiction.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tip O'Day for Writers # 99

Guest blogger Richard S. Charles on the courage to cut.

Never be afraid to delete sentences, paragraphs or even whole sections of your work-in-progress if they are not necessary, even if they are beautifully written. I once purposely deleted a whole chapter of my sequel when I was editing it. Although it read well, the plot was obviously going nowhere as a result of its inclusion; it was just padding and superfluous!

Dixon says: Great advice, with one small proviso. I have a “junk” file in my computer where I save large chunks (a paragraph or more) that I’ve cut during rewrites and edits. Sometimes I find myself going back and searching for one golden sentence or phrase that would be perfect somewhere else.

Saying for Writers #79

Another Quotation which Might (or Might Not) inspire you to write:

“I wish I could write as mysterious as a cat. “ - Edgar Allan Poe

Tip O'Day for Writers #98

Guest blogger Hayden Chance on reading vs living.

Live a life worth writing about. If you spend all of your time with your head in a book or staring at a TV screen you'll never write anything that has true wisdom or changes any minds. Most writing courses teach students to maintain a steady diet of other people’s words. But that’s vicarious living. If you’re not living a life that gives you wisdom (direct experience) then what’s the point of writing about it? People will only be inspired by those who are genuine.

Dixon says: I think many readers do vicariously live more interesting lives through reading, and I don't believe that's a bad thing. For most writers, I think reading is partially for sheer enjoyment, partially for sanity (getting a temporary reprieve from your own characters and plots), and partially for craft (seeing how other writers turn the mundane into the magnificent). If, as Hayden says, some writers use reading as a substitute for engaging with life, their work will surely lack the ring of truth.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tip O'Day for Writers #97

A Montana born and bred author, guest blogger Marsheila Rockwell says “hold your horses.”

Don't try to write a story the minute the idea for it pops into your head. Chances are, it's not ready. Let it simmer for awhile, picking up flavors from other ideas already floating around in your brain. The best, most original stories usually come from a combination of new ideas and ones you've had for a while but didn't know what to do with - until now.

Saying for Writers #78

Another Quotation which Might (or Might Not) inspire you to write:

“Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects.” - Unknown

Tip O'Day for Writers #96

Guest blogger Donna Levin opines on whether or not to self-publish.

In recent years self-publishing has finally become affordable. So affordable that I’ve been getting a heckuva lot of e-mails from writer friends-and-acquaintances announcing the self-publication of their novels, often ending with the personal note, “I just got tired of all the rejections.”

Well, I hear you, man/dude/sister, louder than a foghorn when it’s too late to save your boat.

If all you need is to hold your fiction in your hands, with a high-concept cover and your name as large as the title, self-publishing is the way to go. If you will be satisfied by spreading a few hundred, maybe a thousand, copies among your family and Facebook buddies, then you, too, are a natural candidate.

Just keep in mind the alternative, which is to rewrite your manuscript, maybe even rewrite it twice, before you send it out. In my experience, writers often submit their work too soon. I have been one of those writers who thinks, “What the heck do they want from me? I’ve put my heart and soul into this. I deserve to get it published!”

While readers (and I have been one of these, too) think, “Couldn’t the writer have done one more draft to cut out the redundant scenes, liven up the dialogue, see more deeply into the characters?”

So find fresh readers whose judgment you trust to give you feedback. Then dig down for the inner resources you need to sit down to this manuscript again. You may very well still end up self-publishing, but you will be self-publishing a better book, and that can only be good.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Tip O'Day for Writers #95

Guest blogger Meg Collins has six quick tips:

never give up

self educate

study your competition in the industry

spend time in bookstores to see what is selling

get listings of the top selling books of the genre that you currently are writing

be consistent and write every single day

Saying for Writers #77

Another Quotation which Might (or Might Not) inspire you to write:

“This book is not to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.” - Dorothy Parker

Tip O'Day for Writers #94

Guest blogger Sienna Lewis on what writing is and is not.
I am not sure how this works for other authors, but it's not about writing simply for getting published - you have to HAVE to write, and if you get a contract out of it, even better...

Make sure there is a market for your story, but that it is unique. Just keep writing and keep having things to say.

So many writers say this in different ways - writing to many of us is as essential as oxygen, and getting published is a nice extra.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Tip O'Day for Writers #93

Guest blogger S.J. Heckscher-Marquis looks at several factors when considering whether to publish a novel.

First the writing. If you have not grabbed my attention with the blurb, you might find it difficult to engage my interest in the book itself. Why is the blurb important? People browse books by the blurb, so you have to be enticing.

First five paragraphs... do your characters seem interesting? If not, does your writing suggest that the characters may grow and change? Excite me, grab me... if you cannot do that in five paragraphs, you probably won't be able to do it in a complete novel.

Finally, what are you like as a person? Are you personable? Do you conduct yourself with dignity and sense online, or are you inclined to go off boom and wait for the fall-out to hit the fan? It might seem a little preachy, but it is important. Personable people sell more books and cause fewer problems.

Contact information:

Saying for Writers #76

Another Quotation which Might (or Might Not) inspire you to write:

“A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author.” - G.K. Chesterton

Tip O'Day for Writers #92

I met guest blogger David Mark Brown at the 2010 Flathead River Writers Conference in Kalispell, Montana, and it will take someone more talented than me to accurately describe him. He marches to his own drum, trumpet, fiddle... Here he posts on Writing Niche vs Blockbuster.

Like all of us, I have made infamous decisions in my life which have long outlived their immediate effects. For instance, dropping off the football team to try out for cheerleader -- in a small, Texas town.

One such decision I have made more recently has been to deep six my long held dreams of being a New York Times best selling author in exchange for pursuing a more attainable, double-digit salary as a professional niche-genre writer. When I say, "niche-genre" I don't mean science fiction or romance. I don't even mean paranormal urban fantasy or steampunk, the shooting stars of sub-genre genre fiction. Nope. In my case I'm referring to dieselpunk weird western alternate history pulp, with a twist of granola. (And yes, you saw the word western in the mix, otherwise known as the kiss of death).

I call it Reeferpunk, and it was what leapt from the fire once I finally developed the cojones to ask myself the million dollar question -- "What were you born to write?" Screw market forces. Forget the critics, the agents, the gatekeepers, Oprah. Throw away all the lectures given by snooty professors on how the short story is the only true form of American literature. Lose the personal desire to impress and mold society. Push Henry Thoreau off the docks at Walden Pond. And finally fly the double bird in the face of reason.

What can I write that no one else can? It's a matter of calling. I don't suspect that I've perfected the answer yet, but I'm closer than I've ever been. And it feels good. But a series of preliminary questions rattled around my brain before I could answer the big one: What do I enjoy reading? When I first asked myself this simple question I was in the midst of my fifth rewrite on a novel that I would've never picked off the shelf (unless my reading club had dictated it). I like thrilling and speculative stories based on real human desires and characteristics put to the test in outlandish situations or alternate realities -- human stories in sensational environs. I like fast-moving yet brain-punishing fiction. I like Frank Herbert's DUNE and Orson Scott Card's ENDER'S SHADOW.

What do I know? I'm no scientist. I'm a liberal arts slacker through and through, but history and political science felt doable. Who am I? And what has made me what I am? Born and raised in rural Texas, I grew up working on a ranch. I attended university in the midst of the Rocky Mountains at the U of Montana (the Berkeley of the Rockies) where the police were on record saying about marijuana, "it's so common we hardly try to stop it anymore," and the school paper published editorials on how to weatherstrip your dorm room so your R.A. would never know. I'm the Redneck Granola.

Now all I needed were the яичка ("eggs" in Russian) to put the answers together and write the royally whacked-out speculative fiction I've been called to write -- invent the niche-genre that is David Mark Brown. Maybe later in my career I'll be talented enough to write what others want me too. But for now I'm writing refried alternate-history about what could have become of the southern half of North America if cheap oil never got cheap (due to the birth of the evil nation of Texicas), and instead brilliant minds devised an early cellulosic ethanol from the wondrous cannabis plant. Mein Hanf! (Spanish, Russian and German in the same post!)

As for reality? Well, thank God for ebooks, the digital wrecking ball of the publishing industry. Current conditions seem perfectly suited for the self-published, super-niche ebook. Forums, facebook groups and hashtags on twitter make it easier than ever before to participate in cultural and literary ghettos of our liking. To survive as a professional writer of super-niche genre fiction all I need are the enthusiastic downloads of 15,000 fans.

New York Times? Not a chance. But at 70% of $2.99 for two books a year I'd rather have my 15,000 fans for fiction I was born to write, than a pipe dream and a job at Home Depot. Will it work? It'll probably take a miracle. You could always download FISTFUL OF REEFER from an ebook distributor near you and find out for yourself.

David Mark Brown blogs at www.davidmarkbrownwrites.com or you may find him skulking around the FB group Writers Etc.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Tip O'Day for Writers #91

Guest blogger Brian Hodge says it’s all about the rewrite.

If you haven’t already, learn to fall in deep, passionate love with the rewriting process. Very little writing is the best it can ever be straight out of the gate. But too many aspiring writers seem to feel as though they can’t (or shouldn’t) be bothered to work and rework and re-rework something. Malcolm Gladwell (OUTLIERS, THE TIPPING POINT) provides a starkly telling quote on the need to smash through the laziness: “I always say to young writers who are struggling, well, how many drafts do you do? And then I say, what, you only do three drafts? I do ten.”

Even an early mentor of mine, quite successful, told me that rewrites felt to him like beating a dead horse. Of course he did them anyway. Fortunately, to me, the revision phase has always felt like when a work comes most fully alive … when the seedlings flourish, the tonal shadings emerge, and it starts the climb toward fulfilling its potential.

Brian Hodge is the author of 14 books. His fourth collection, PICKING THE BONES, was released in April with a starred review from Publishers Weekly. Connect with him through his web site (www.brianhodge.net), blog (www.warriorpoetblog.com), or Facebook (www.facebook.com/brianhodgewriter).

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Saying for Writers #75

Another Quotation which Might (or Might Not) inspire you to write:

"I believe that good questions are more important than answers, and the best children's books ask questions, and make the readers ask questions. And every new question is going to disturb someone's universe." - Madeleine L'Engle

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Tip O'Day for Writers #90

The other day, three different people asked the same question: what can a beginning author can do to promote a book? Here are some ideas.

Build name awareness wherever you can. On Facebook, I post a different country song title every single day. It hopefully gives folks in my network a daily chuckle, and differentiates me from the many authors with nonstop cries of BUY MY BOOK. My novels take place mostly in Montana and I try to use humor in my writing when appropriate, so these daily posts are not entirely irrelevant.

Get active in online writers' groups. I’m most familiar with those on Facebook, and they are legion. There are many genre-specific, such as Suspense/Thriller Writers. For a group that’s more wide-spectrum, I enjoy Writers Etc because of the nice mix of newbies and very experienced pros. There’s also a nice mix of posts about improving the craft of writing, and those on the business side – getting an agent, promoting your book, self-publishing, and so on. It’s a closed group and I don’t add anybody to anything without their permission, but I'd be glad to add you to Writers Etc upon your request.

Keep your online activities focused on improving your craft and promoting your career. You may have strong political and religious opinions, but why on earth would you want to alienate potential mentors, fans and buyers? Even if I agree with the philosophy behind your rants, you might anger me with personal attacks on people I admire, or crude language. I have over 3,500 FB friends and I made the same approach to all of them – “I’m a writer, and I like to network with other writers and book lovers.” If I had added “and I enjoy tormenting Sarah Palin,” I don’t think my network would be nearly as large.

Review other books within your genre. Make any suggestions for change specific and positive. (“If you had done ABC, your characterization would have been even more effective.”) If you’re not giving a rating of at least 3 out of 5, consider keeping the review private, between you and the author. You’ve probably got enough enemies already, right?

Start a blog and post at least 2-3 times a week. Daily is better. Try to keep focused on just a couple themes instead of being all over the place. Capitalize on your unique expertise, or make yourself on expert on a particular subject. There are some wacky people lurking in the ‘Net so don’t be upset if you get wacky comments; on the other hand, you can control the comments you allow to appear.

Ask reviewers if they'd be interested in looking at your book. Be aware that there are excellent, professional reviewers who expect payment, and excellent, amateur reviewers who do it because they love all things bookish. Whatever the case, check out a few of their reviews first, to make sure they’re not cranky flamethrowers. If you happen to get an awful review, just thank the person for expressing an honest opinion and put it behind you. Trying to challenge a crappy review, however mistaken, will only make you look like an idiot. Really.

Get to know the local booksellers. In some communities, this might be your neighborhood grocery or big box store. Some of these folks have to accept buying decisions from their corporate headquarters, whereas others have a great deal of latitude.

Finally, be kind and helpful to other writers. (I wish I’d learned this earlier.) Resist the urge to criticize unless you’re asked for a critique. Even then, keep in mind the term “constructive criticism.”

Good luck and keep writing - Dixon

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Saying for Writers #74

Another Quotation which Might (or Might Not) inspire you to write:

“If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn't brood. I'd type a little faster.” - Isaac Asimov

Monday, July 18, 2011

Tip O'Day for Writers #89

A literary agent once told me, "Don't be so damn logical, Dixon." I think that's what guest blogger James Rourke is getting at here.

The conscious mind isn't king. Stories seem to emerge more than are consciously written, especially in the early drafts. Get your thoughts down on paper and don't resist the unfolding story. I've written pages and wondered, "Why is this happening to this character?" When I've tried to change it to something I "understood" I developed a knot in my stomach.

Sometimes the story knows what it's doing even when you don't.

James Rourke is author of The Eternal Struggle: Two Worlds, One War

Saying for Writers #73

Another Quotation which Might (or Might Not) inspire you to write:

“Books are never finished, they are merely abandoned." - Oscar Wilde

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Tip O'Day for Writers #88

Guest blogger Rick Mofina on what it takes to be a writer:

The only guarantee that you will fail, is if you give up. The only thing impeding you stares back at you in the mirror. Don't make excuses for not writing. Create sentences. Don’t trouble other people looking for the magic beans, because you have them in your hand.

Get to work. You have to earn the right to be on a book shelf with all the other authors who have paid their dues. Do your homework, read, study the industry, be realistic and ask yourself the following: Are you a writer? Or, do you want “to be” a writer? Real writers reading this will understand the difference immediately. Those who don’t get the meaning of that, never will. And, as Stephen King, said, "Do not come to this lightly."

Oh yes, don’t quit your day job.

You can catch more of Rick Mofina's act at www.rickmofina.com

Friday, July 15, 2011

Saying for Writers #72

Another Quotation which Might (or Might Not) inspire you to write:

"Most new writers think it's easy to write for children, but it's not. You have to get in a beginning, middle and end, tell a great story, write well, not be condescending--all in a few pages." - Andrea Brown

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Tip O'Day for Writers #87

Guest blogger Susan Oleksiw says to challenge yourself with a daily record.

No matter what you write, you have to start at the beginning and write until you reach the end. That sounds so boring, and there are times when it is. Staring at a blank page because you can’t think of anything to say is boring and sometimes even worse—brain rattling, crazy making. Still, it does build character—and novels.
One of the tricks I use to keep me going when I’m in danger of drifting away into a round of cleaning out cupboards or checking on the vegetable garden is the daily record. When I begin a novel, I begin a daily record of my work. Whenever I sit down to write, I am committed to putting down something on that record sheet. It doesn’t have to be complicated—the sheet itself can be just one page in a notebook along with notes and research on my current book—but each note does have to be something. I list the number of words written, even if it’s only 50; the research conducted or books consulted; the clues considered; or the number of pages edited. The record reminds me I have to keep working, and also shows me that even during weeks when I think I’m getting nothing accomplished, I do have something to show for my time. Watching that list grow is one way of seeing the novel grow.

The record also tells me when I’m dawdling, taking too much time off, or writing more productively than I realize at first. And sometimes just knowing I have to record something gives me that extra push to keep going when I can’t think, and get something down on paper even if I know I’m going to delete it later and start over.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Saying for Writers #71

Another Quotation which Might (or Might Not) inspire you to write:

"My most important piece of advice to all you would-be writers: when you write, try to leave out all the parts readers skip." - Elmore Leonard

There are some marvelous, insightful American authors these days, some very productive and others doling out a gem every decade or two. In my humble opinion, Elmore "Dutch" Leonard is our greatest living writer.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tip O'Day #86 for Writers

Guest blogger Ray K. Alan says to hang out with other writers.

The best tip I can provide, besides write everyday about anything, is to join a writers’ club where you can obtain critical constructive criticism. Whether you meet every week or month or collaborate online, it’s important for your personal growth to have feedback. It helps stretch your writing skills and forces you to write so you don't come in empty handed to the next meeting. Coffee and donuts are optional but highly recommended.

Ray K. Alan helps authors post their press releases for new books, book signings, awards and special announcements at NewBookJournal.com

Monday, July 11, 2011

Saying for Writers #70

Another Quotation which Might (or Might Not) inspire you to write:

"The wastebasket is the writer's best friend." - Isaac Singer

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Tip O'Day for Writers #85

Guest blogger Brett McBean has some thoughts on the writer’s best friend.

The notepad is your best friend. Use it to jot down story ideas, character names, weird and wonderful observations, titles for stories yet unwritten; basically anything that pops into your head. You may never use that story idea or title, but if you have all of your ideas written down, there’s no chance of forgetting something that may be of use down the road.

Tomorrow, another post about a writer's best friend.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Saying for Writers #69

Another Quotation which Might (or Might Not) inspire you to write:

"The greatest part of a writer's time is spent in reading, in order to write; a man will turn over half a library to make one book." - Samuel Johnson

Dixon says: I'm working on two novels at the same time. Sometimes I run into a creative wall on one. By switching to the other project, I often find my subconscious mind works out a solution for book #1 while I'm distracted by book #2. Also, I've got a wife and four wonderful kids who deserve my time and attention. I'm active in my church and two Toastmasters clubs, assign referees to the youth soccer games in Kalispell, and do my share of refereeing and coaching as well.

It feels like I'm cheating somebody or something when I force myself to crack open a book or turn on my Kindle, but I know it energizes my mind and spirit, and helps my writing. From starting out awful at dialogue, I've turned it into a strength through reading Elmore Leonard, Robert B. Parker, Richard Price, and other masters of dialogue.

In my humble opinion, three things are essential for a writer: a love of reading, a feel for the music and magic within language, and a willingness to accept constructive criticism.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Tip O'Day for Writers #84

Guest blogger Taylor Grant on the phases of writing.

Think of your screenplay, novel or short story as a sculpture. The first draft is putting together the clay that resembles what you’re trying to create. The rewrites are where you cut a little here, remove a little there, and ultimately reveal your work. The polish is where you painstakingly refine your sculpture into a professional piece.

This philosophy removes the necessity for perfection at the beginning of whatever you’re writing and allows you to enjoy the process more.

Taylor Grant is a produced screenwriter, award-winning copywriter, published author and professional script consultant.

Dixon says - I like it when a writer brings a first draft to my local critique group, since then I feel free to suggest major plot changes, different goals for the protagonist, consolidating or eliminating minor characters (or inventing new ones), and so on. With a book or short story that's been through rewrites, I figure the author's not going to consider such major changes. That's a time to focus on inconsistencies, flat dialogue, and grammar.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Saying for Writers #68

Another Quotation which Might (or Might Not) inspire you to write:

"If a book comes from the heart, it will continue to reach other hearts." - Thomas Carlyle

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Tip O'Day for Writers #83

Guest blogger Tony Piazza says you should write about something you know and enjoy.

There is nothing original about this tip, but yet sometimes authors overlook it to produce something that they view as "current" and therefore financially viable. For example, I am a mystery writer; it is what I know, love, and do best. I would not be good at writing about Vampires, Zombies, and teen love. My heart would not be in it, and a real labor to write. Undoubtedly this lack of enthusiasm would be reflected on the pages, and easily singled out by the readers. More importantly the critics would drive a stake so quickly into my work that it could never rise again!

Brilliant advice, Tony.

Agents, publishers and readers are looking for fresh and original voices, and fresh and original stories. Chasing trends will not create loyal, enthusiastic fans for your work.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Saying for Writers #67

Another Quotation which Might (or Might Not) inspire you to write:

"If you wish to be a writer, write." - Epictetus

Monday, July 4, 2011

Tip O'Day for Writers #82

Guest blogger Rick Hautala has some thoughts on how to persevere in today's shifting publishing paradigm.
To paraphrase Harlan Ellison: Becoming a writer is easy; it's staying a writer that's the hard part.

The marketplace is changing so fast, a lot of traditional prose even by seasoned pros is falling by the wayside.

Writing to publish successfully requires a thick skin and a sense of humor along with hard work, talent and inspiration. You have to work against all odds. You must face rejection and adversity by pushing and pushing to become a better writer. If you do so, eventually editors, publishers and readers can't possibly ignore or avoid your work.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Saying for Writers #66

Another Quotation which Might (or Might Not) inspire you to write:

"As cows need milking and sweet peas need picking, so writers must continually exercise their mental muscles by a daily stint." - Joan Aiken

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Tip O'Day for Writers #81

Guest blogger Terry Kroenung on self-promotion with class.

Oscar Wilde said that the only thing worse than being talked about was NOT being talked about. And the one who should be doing the talking is you, at least at first. If you are of the opinion that marketing yourself is crass, that it is somehow beneath you as a creative genius, then your 300 pages of deathless prose will languish unread on one of Amazon's more obscure lists.

This doesn't mean that every sentence you speak or type should scream "Please buy my book!" Review others' work, follow their blogs, go on message boards and recommend novels to others. Eventually your name will become associated with professionalism and a love of writing.