SEE with WORDS: May 10, 2015

Consider Some Pros’ Habits 

It’s a known fact the Ernest Hemingway wrote standing at a lectern.  He frequently wrote in pencil and would usually begin his writing with the ritual of sharpening at least a dozen pencils.  Hemingway would shift from foot to foot, and when the writing really began to flow, only then would he sit at his desk to continue.

And Truman Copote described himself as “a completely horizontal writer” and could not think unless he was lying in bed or stretched out on a couch or in a hammock.

Dame Agatha Christie tells us that she plotted her stories early in the morning while sitting in a bathtub of warm water, eating apples.  John Nichols, who wrote The Milagro Beanfield War, also found soaking in a tub of warm water conducive for getting ideas flowing.  I’m not sure what he munched on at 4:00 a.m.  Others who gained inspiration while soaking in a bathtub were Benjamin Franklin, who actually owned the first bathtub in America; the French playwright Edmond Rostand and Vladimir Nabokov both claimed that soaking in a bathtub was conducive to their creativity. A writer friend told me that she needs a grease pencil in the shower.  Must be something about warm water that generates the flow of ideas!

Kitchen tables were also a favorite for a number of authors.  Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote most of Uncle Tom’s Cabin on one.  She managed to squeeze in writing between cooking, sewing, cleaning, and caring for her seven children.  Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Bronte also used the family’s kitchen table to function as a writing desk.  Jane Austen worked at a small round parlor table with hardly enough room for her notebook.  In fact, she was so shy that at the slightest sound of someone approaching, quickly hid whatever she was writing.

Then there’s William Faulkner who maintained he wrote only when it rained.  One wonders how the course of American literature would have changed if Faulkner set YoknapatawphaCounty in Arizona instead of Mississippi.

Tennessee Williams worked seven days a week.  He did not think writing on Sundays was a violation of the Sabbath although he did make one exception – Easter Sunday.  Issac Asimov also wrote every day from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m. and completed 500 books during his career.  Barbara Cartland, who also produced over 500 novels, was still writing and being published when she was in her late nineties.  And Mark Twain never wrote another word after the death of his beloved wife Livy.

 

 

SEE with WORDS: March 19, 2015

SUCCESSFUL BOOKS:

  • Identify a topical or regional niche; study the books already available on the same topic.
  • Bring an attractive and competitively priced book to the marketplace.
  • Reach the target audience through effective distribution.
  • Promote, promote, promote.

PLAN YOUR BUDGET CAREFULLY:

PRODUCTION: Cover design, interior book design, editing and proofreading

PRINT:  Small or large run, extra covers, dust jackets, galley proof, promotional materials

PUBLICIZE:  Review copies, postage, news releases, interviews, book signing events

PROMOTION:  Advertising media kit, displays, catalogues, postage for target mailings

 

SEE with Words: March 17, 2015

5 Reasons to Self-Publish:

Commercial publishers don’t have the time or resources to read all of the manuscripts submitted, upwards of 150,000 titles per year.  They are looking for name recognition or authors who come with certain sales potential and definite outlets.

Within recent years, self-publishing has become one of the fastest growing segments of the publishing industry.  Some of the best authors may not initially be published by a major publishing house, but after the book is printed and marketed in published form, and the author establishes a track record in sales, that book may be picked up by a major publishing house for an attractive contract.

Two such success stories are:

Laurie Notaro’s The Idiot Girls’ Action Adventure Club was originally published by iUniverse, then placed twelfth on the New York Times Paperback Best-Seller List which landed her a six-figure, two-book contract with Random House.

Steven Keslowitz’s The Simpsons and Society was first published by Wheatmark before the book was published by Sourcebooks.

So here are the 5 reasons you may want to consider self-publishing:

  1. Keep control of your project;
  2. Control the time frame for writing, editing, and publishing;
  3. Fill a specific niche;
  4. Be the sole owner of the proceeds from the book’s sales;
  5. Get yourself in print.

Check Amazon.com for books published by Eileen Birin.

SEE with WORDS: February 19, 2015

One More Idea to Consider:

Here’s another important idea you may want to consider as you get started in the writing game.  Check local community colleges for adult continuation or special interest classes in writing.  Some may even offer workshops or seminars on various aspects of writing.  Local libraries are other resources for writing groups, special presentations on writing, or even critique groups.  Signing up for a writing course, taking a workshop or joining a critique group can prove beneficial especially if you are a novice writer and may need the support and incentive from others with similar interests.  A writing course can also provide the structure and basic techniques necessary for good writing.

Along these same lines, if several of your friends or members of a writing class are interested in working together, you might consider forming your own small writing group.  This would allow for immediate feedback and critiquing of your stories, provide opportunities to share similar learning experiences with each other, offer encouragement to get through some of those so called “writer’s block” moments, support each other’s efforts, shed light on new discoveries, and most important, laugh and cry together as you explore the problems of the lonely, yet exhilarating,  life of a writer.  So with pen in hand and love in your heart, be strong–embrace the unforgiving pain and the sublime joy of the writing life.

Writing is therapy for both you and the reader.

 

SEE with WORDS: February 18, 2015

RULES:

  • There are no firm or important rules for good writing.
  • However, know them first before you break them.
  • Follow writing guidelines; they free you to do what works best for you.

Rules are structures that set limits; true artists transcend to heights unlimited; great art has no borders.  But here’s the catch: in order to soar, one needs a solid structure as the launching pad.

Remember those language arts teachers who insisted we bring our journals to class everyday.  And then usually before an English composition lesson, we would spend five minutes writing anything that popped into our heads.  Forget spelling, grammar, sentence structure, just write, write, write.  We were encouraged to free write, to brainstorm all those creative ideas that later would become our coveted “A” English composition papers.  No one would ever see these first draft scribblings of ours, but we knew we could never hand-in anything we wrote in our notebooks until we “fixed” it up and made it better for a passing grade.

So too, true artists have learned, practiced and mastered the rules first which then sets them free to soar into their unique creative worlds.  Imagine this: what if your novel, story or poem resembled the free writing of your school day journal.  How distracting would that be to readers?  If the reader doesn’t understand what you’re trying to say, if your lack of writing efficiently interferes with the story line, how long will you hold that reader’s attention?  Know the rules first before you break them.

That said; let’s explore some useful writing guidelines that have proven successful in a writer’s creative journey.

Materials you may need for your journey:

1.  Notebooks:

You’ll need several handy notebooks, whatever fits into your pocket, purse, briefcase, and glove compartment – use whatever works best for you.  Once you start writing your novel, you will be amazed at how many new ideas begin popping into mind any time of the day and night.  You’ll want to jot down that good idea, or clever quip before it is lost once again.  Good places to keep notebooks are:

ü      bedside table

ü      bathroom

ü      kitchen

ü      den or TV room

ü      car

ü      pocket or purse

ü      outside garden or patio

2.  Tape recorder:

Some of you may prefer to use small tape recorders instead of notebooks.  Recorders work best in cars, especially if you’re driving and that tinge of recollection arises, you’ll want to grab that recorder, click the on-button, and talk your heart out.

Recorders also work well on bedside tables.  In no time, you will train yourself to hit the on-button in the dark and talk softly into the recorder without even waking your partner.

3.  Several more important items to have close at hand:

ü      a comprehensive dictionary

ü      an authoritative thesaurus

ü      an English grammar handbook

ü      plenty of pens or well-sharpened pencils

ü      computer or word processor

Where do you go from here?

Writing is a craft. Writers write. Writers write every day; that’s their job.  By cultivating the habit of writing regularly, it will make the process easier and more enjoyable. Study the craft; exercise the craft by doing it everyday.

Check out Amazon.com for: Excuse My Dust, ten quick steps for writing success; and Come Sit a Spell, Recalling and Writing Memoirs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SEE with WORDS: February 2, 2015

Considering Self-Publishing?  Meet the Masters:

The advent of independent publishing is not a recent development.  It has always been an American enterprise.  In 1776 Thomas Paine published Common Sense, Ben Franklin even used his own printing press. Walt Whitman published his controversial Leaves of Grass and even wrote the reviews for his own works; Carl Sandburg worked the presses and hand-bound his books of poetry.  Upton Sinclair refused to change the content of The Jungle and elicited the support of several friends to help publish the book before Doubleday offered to publish it.  In fact, both editions were printed simultaneously.

The list of masters include: Samuel Clemens, Zane Grey, Washington Irving, Stephen Crane, Edgar Allen Poe, Gertrude Stein, Virginia Woolf and others. f

Books originally self-published: Chicken Soup for the Soul, What Color is Your Parachute? The Celestine Prophecy, which Richard Redfield sold from the trunk of his car, Invisible Life, One Minute Manager, The Christmas Box.

And here are a few self-publishing services success stories: The Idiot Girls’ Action Adventure Club by Laurie Notaro, orginally published with iUniverse, #12 on the New York Times Paperback Best-Seller List, landed her a six-figure, two-book deal with Random House; and, The Simpsons and Society by Steven Keslowitz, orginally published with Wheatmark and then picked up by Sourcebooks.

The list goes on.  So Let’s Get Published!

Check out Excuse My Dust, ten quick steps for writing success, ebook available from Amazon.com

SEE with WORDS: January 26, 2015

What makes a WRITER tick!

Part of the majesty of being a writer is that we don’t fully understand what makes us tick, and if we did, we would lose the edge of our creativity.             –Tom-

Writing is like creating a movie; I’m the author, the producer, the director, and I get to play all the roles, be all the characters.                                   -Mabel-

I get thoughts and inspirations that won’t leave until I write them down.                                            -Val-

Writing is very therapeutic as well as relaxing and fun.             -Sandy-

I write to share what I learn.                     –Marty-

My mind is filled with ideas and they need to see themselves on paper before they disappear in a poof of smoke.                                                  –Linda-

I write because the characters make me!  They won’t let me off the hook.                                 –Zanne-

Writing validates my existence; it feeds my soul.            -Nancy-

I write for the same reason I read – to connect with a greater truth, a deeper feeling.  It helps me find my footing in the universe.                           –Marilyn-

My research over the years has unearthed thousands of stories that need to be told and preserved for posterity.  It is satisfying to share with others and know that the stories will not die.              –Emily-

A writing career gives you the opportunity to help other people – whether that means informing, entertaining or inspiring them.   I feel honored when readers tell me they enjoyed my book.        –Brian-

I write so I can be alone.         –Julie-

When I was 58 or 59 years old, I found out I had suppressed the desire to write all my life.  My friends haunted me until I wrote my first book.  Now I find writing so rewarding I can’t stop.                 –Mike-

I am a disable veteran who finds writing puts me into another world in which time and pain passes me by.                                                               -Sheila-

What can I say, I’m a writing junkie – hooked on ideas and words and other such creative stuff.      –Eileen-

 

 

 

SEE with WORDS: January 19, 2015

Got an urge to write?  It’s not that hard – get started! 

So you always wanted to write.  Seriously.  Maybe it was a story you read, a movie or TV show you saw that perked your interest and caused you to say, “I can write like that.”  Or maybe you have something you want to say, ideas you have been wrestling with, memoirs to leave your loved ones, a story or poem that’s struggling within you to be put on paper.  Whatever the reason, you wouldn’t be reading this if you weren’t interested in writing.

But writing is hard work and too many wannabes fall by the wayside while sitting and waiting for the right opportunity or that epic idea that will set them on fire.

If you’re serious about pursuing the craft of writing, for pleasure or profit, then the first thing to do is get started.

Think of writing as you would any job.  You must show up, be on time, produce and enjoy what you are doing if you want to reap any rewards.

For starters keep a journal.  Professional writers have files or notebooks filled with notes, bits of conversations, cartoons, observations, newspaper clippings, photos, doodles.  They collect like crazy anything and everything.  Who knows what poem, story or article is lurking among those scraps of paper.

Ideas abound all around us.  Collect whatever you see and hear: a neighbor’s fading smile or the shoes on his feet; family stories or hiking White Tank Mountain Park; xeriscape gardening or an early morning Arizona sun rise.  Whatever you have observed describe in your journal or tape recorder.  Writers are keen observers, the more you develop this aspect, the more ideas will come to you.  Include in your journal your dreams and imaginings.  Imagination is the stuff creative writing is made of.

The next important step is to set up a routine.  Writers write every day; that’s their job.  Cultivating the essential habit of writing regularly will make writing easier and fun.

When to write and where to write will depend on your life style.  Try writing at different times: early morning, high noon, far into the night.  Once you’ve found your writing time, stick with it.  Serious writers would never think of doing dishes, the laundry, shopping, playing golf, answering the phone during their writing time.

It is also necessary to find a place where you feel comfortable at writing: your room or office, the kitchen table, soaking in a tub, lying on a couch.  Hemingway wrote standing at a lectern; Capote stretched out on a couch or in a hammock.  Some writers use tricks to get them in their writing mode like listening to music or the outside sounds of nature.  Whatever works.

Read more in Excuse My Dust, ten quick steps for writing success, available on Amazon.com

HANG in there!

To all,

Thanks for following my prompts and for your enthusiastic comments.  Right now, I am in the process of revamping this site.  So stay tuned for futher announcements.  The new site will be more informative, I hope.  Plus I’ll keep a few prompts for those of you who like to get started writing with an idea provided.

-eileenbirin-

So Sorry

Sorry I haven’t been keeping up with this site.  My intention was to post a new writing prompt weekly, hoping that some of you would respond to them and we could have a flow of ideas bouncing back and forth.  That did not happen.  For the time being, I am closing down this site and working on something new.  I hope that all of you who have followed it will contiune to do so when the new site is constructed.   I’ll be in touch.  thanks for following and your many, many good comments.  -eileenbirin-

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