Prize

A Prize For the All Bloggers

 

drawing of a prize (trophy) for all bloggers
drawing of a prize (trophy) for all bloggers

 

This prize award is dedicated to all bloggers, both big and small, who toil and labor over their precious piece of web space, regardless to whether they attract a million viewers or just one or two. Much praise goes out to those who find success and riches through their internet activity, but a special thanks is in store for those who do this on a daily, weekly or monthly basis just to communicate and throw in their two cents worth.

Best wishes to all bloggers.

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More Words from Bloggers

Yellow Bug parked in front of the NM Museum of Art, photo by author
Yellow Bug parked in front of the NM Museum of Art, photo by author

Best Piece of Writing Advice Ever

Best Piece of Writing Advice Yet  (from the venerable Mark Twain)   “Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.” Nothing could be more simple, right?

Today’s look around the internet includes more on Amazon-Hatchette, words from a black screenwriter and a bunch of Tom Swifties.

Does Anybody remember Boyz in the Hood?

Don’t go through the system. Do it yourself. Do something you believe in.”
Oscar-nominated writer/director John Singleton (Boyz in the Hood

The title definitely caught my eye when the film first came out in 1991, but I never got around to watching the movie (on DVD) till a few years ago. I must say I enjoyed the show immensely. It’s a great coming of age story about a tight-knit group of black teenagers trying to cope with the urban, drug-infested neighborhood that they find themselves thrust into.

The amazing thing about this film is that Singleton wrote the screenplay and landed the director’s spot just a year or two after he graduated from UCLA film school. I can’t imagine anything like this happening today, even though they are more opportunities out there and internet sites like the Black List have made Hollywood more accessible. Do it yourself is not all that it’s cracked up to be.

This Hatchette-Amazon Thing Drags On

“Consider the French Revolution. A bunch of blue bloods really thought they were born to rule, and the peasants couldn’t live without them to govern. They were wrong.” Joe Konrath

Mr. Konrath continues his defense of ebook publishing and self-publishing with this timely rage against Author’s United. His assertion that the ebooks are radically changing the publishing world has been around for several years. Now that the Amazon-Hatchette feud dominates the literary conversation, Joe has gained more notoriety as the great defender of Amazon and the new reality of cheap ebooks. No different than the rise of paperbacks right after WWII or the emergence of DVD discs and the consequent demise of VHS tapes, ebooks are here to stay. Check out his blog…….even if don’t agree his opinions you may the argument compelling.

Who Was Tom Swift?

Last week while discussing the overuse of adverbs, Anne Allen dug up the popular 60s phenomena of Tom Swifties, which derived from the Tom Swift character of YA fame that has been around since 1910.

Here are some of my favorites.

“Careful with that chainsaw,” Tom said offhandedly.

“I might as well be dead,” Tom croaked.

“I wish I drove a Scandinavian car” Tom sobbed (Saabed)

“I wonder if this radium is radioactive?” asked Marie curiously

“We could have made a fortune canning pineapples” Tom groaned dolefully

“That’s the last time I’ll stick my arm in a lion’s mouth,” the lion-tamer said off-handedly.

“I’ll have a martini,” said Tom, drily (dryly)

“I unclogged the drain with a vacuum cleaner,” said Tom succinctly

“Hurry up and get to the back of the ship!” Tom said sternly

“I have no flowers,” Tom said lackadaisically

Don’t lend me more yarn— / I can’t mend worth a darn,” / Said Tom, as he knitted his brow.

Kind of silly, but in a way they still retain some of their charm.

Final Quote of the Day

“Don’t write a book someday, write a book today. That’s what I did.” Chuck Wendig

 

Words from Bloggers

 

Danger, Smile!!!  photo by author
Danger, Smile!!! photo by author Even in the face of danger, it might be beneficial to laugh a little bit.

 

Today’s Quotes

Today, and especially the last month in particular, has been a news junkie’s delight. With major historical events occurring in Iraq, Syria, West Africa, the Ukraine, the U.S. and most recently the British Isles, there is a lot of conflict in the world, capable of fueling the various news outlets for a long time. This situation is great for journalists, newscasters, filmmakers, commentators and political pundits. It is also a rich resource for novelists, comedians, short story writers, screenwriters and playwrights…….. but in a different way. The following quotes mostly ignores all the world troubles and instead is drawn from the rich world of writers commenting on their craft. Hope you enjoy this Sunday’s selection.

P.S. Each quote is supplied with a link to the appropriate blog.

1. “A lot of people think I had such a rosy career, but I wanted to identify that one of the things that helps you have a long career is learning how to deal with adversity, how to get past it.”   19-time All-Star baseball player Cal Ripken, Jr.

2. “A few aspiring authors get to stay home and write all day. Think of them as the 1%.”

3. “Have fun. Have as much (effing) fun as you can.” 

4. “Something to marvel at. 1 out of every 20 books was written by E.L. James.

5. “Don’t overthink it.”

6. “but if you can find the time to write a number of days or nights a week, even if it’s just five hundred words – that process will help free up your subconscious. And that’s where so many good ideas come from, so many good characters, so many good connections between characters, so many great plot ideas.”  writing advice from Thomas Keneally

7. “Anything that comes out of the South is going to be called grotesque by the Northern reader, unless it is grotesque, in which case it is going to be called realistic.“ by Flannery O’Connor

8. “Simple words can become clever phrases
And chapters could turn into books
If I could just get in on paper
But it’s harder that it ever looks
If I could Just Get It on Paper
Lyrics by Jimmy Buffett

9.  “Never sign any deal for more than a ten year term.”

10. “The quieter you become, the more you can hear.”  —Yasutani Roshi

11. “She’s a charming middle age lady with a face like a bucket of mud and if she’s washed her hair since Coolidge’s second term, I’ll eat my spare tire, rim and all.” by Raymond Chandler

12. “Getting it published in the present climate is the heartbreak, but there’s always Amazon.”

And as an extra bonus here is a simple outline on how to write a good ghost story. With all the killing and dying that is going on these days, this might be especially good advice for aspiring writers.

Well, the basic plot of a ghost story goes something like this:

  1. A ghost shows up.
  2. The ghost gets scarier.
  3. The ghost gets even scarier.
  4. The ghost becomes truly horrifying.
  5. The protagonist figures out what to do about it.
  6. Denouement.
In the Center of the Lagoon Nebula  Image Credit: Hubble Legacy Archive, NASA, ESA - Processing & Licence: Judy Schmidt
In the Center of the Lagoon Nebula
Image Credit: Hubble Legacy Archive, NASA, ESA – Processing & Licence: Judy Schmidt

 

Don’t Forget The Small Things In Life

Remembering the small things in life can sweeten your day, photo by author
Remembering the small things in life can sweeten your day, photo by author

Some Simple Reminders For A Better Day

I took this picture several weeks ago while visiting  family back east in the Carolinas. These are actually the very small variety of M & Ms and not the usual sized ones that you buy in the store. They had been left out in a small bowl, for all to enjoy, and thus illuminated by the afternoon sun pouring in from a large picture window. The picture came out much better than expected and that little event in itself  sent my mind wondering and how often our best results our achieved with little effort. With this in mind I came up with a list of unnecessary activities that writers sometimes engage in (especially myself) which can lead to unneeded worrying and fretting.

Some of My Most Nagging Distractions

1. Blogging – Sure when things go well, blogging is great, but all to often I feel like I am paddling upstream with the time and effort invested.

2. TV Sports – Lately, my latest distraction seems to be Intercollegiate Girl’s Softball. Sure enough, the sport is as fascinating as it is different. Just watching the high speed underhand pitching, the adept fielding and the home runs these gals produce can catch my attention for a long time. But lately, just sitting down to watch the game for a few minutes can turn into an hour and a half activity.

3. Surfing the Net – Similar to number one except that I am not enhancing my writing skills. Just whiling away my time looking for that indispensable bit of writing advice or seeing what J Lo is up to nowadays. The first activity just might be more futile than the second.

4. Browsing Bookstores –  I love browsing bookstores. In fact, the bigger the better. That because there is an awesome feeling that comes with having so many titles, catchy covers and unturned pages sitting under one roof. The problem is that I seldom buy books and the ones that I do buy I don’t always finish. Fortunately, there is one hidden side benefit in that the hour or so I do spend in these places give me some modest cardiovascular exercise.

5. Making Lists – This activity is doubly unproductive because it takes time to make a list and I need go look for the list, later on, when I’m ready to use it. Then more often than not the list is outdated, when I finally get around to fulfilling. Come to think of it I think I’ll keep this list at five items so I can stare at the refrigerator and see what I want for dinner.

 

So long for now, think I’ll go watch the sunset.

taos sunset, photo by author

 

 

 

Navigating the Blogosphere

 

Double rainbow in Alaska, from Wikipedia, photo by Eric Rolph
Double rainbow in Alaska, from Wikipedia, photo by Eric Rolph

Writer’s Digest Releases Their 2014 Best of (Writer’s Websites) List

Just recently, Writer’s Digest released their annual list of 101 Best Websites for Writers. Many of these websites are published in blog form, while others such as the Absolute Write or QueryTracker are very large dispensaries of information, where a blog is just a small part of the overall site. The websites are listed in categories such as Everything Agents, General Resources, Online Writing Communities and Screenwriting. Nine websites received special recognition with a Best of the Best Award. Besides the above mentioned QueryTracker, they are Creativity Portal, A Newbie’s Guide To Publishing, The Review Review, The Coalition of Independent Authors and Publishers, Journalism Jobs, Moon Town Cafe, Society of Children’s Writers and the Daily Lit…….Happy Browsing.

Blogs I Follow

I have at least a dozen blogs I follow……and for some strange reason most of them have to do with writing. Perhaps, it is related to the fact that at least a part of my income derives from my literary activities. Not surprisingly, many of these sites also can be found on the Writer’s Digest compilation. Here they are in order of importance to me.

Anne R. Allen’s Blog – This is the first blog that I usually go to. Unfortunately Anne only publishes once a week, but her postings are always filled with important info, especially for the Indie self publisher.

A Newbie’s Guide To Publishing – This bad boy of the self publishers has toned down his raps lately by adding numerous  interviews and guest bloggers. Still, his site always has something to say and if you take his advice and read all his posts back to 2009, you will learn a lot about the ongoing struggle between Indies and the Big Six publishers.

Nathan Bransford, Author – As a West Coast literary agent Nathan had one of the most popular blogs in the literary world. Now that he has quit being an agent, he writes as a hybrid author, who publishes in both realms, digital and print. Definitely worth the read.

The Book Deal – Alan Rinzler, a veteran editor from way back, doesn’t blog very often ( about every six weeks), but when he does it is usually worth the wait. Be sure to check  out his post about giving the Beatles a bad review when they first toured America.

The Book Designer – Joel Friedlander practices what he preaches……he designs books.

Query Tracker – This site publishes a blog three times a week with a variety of writers participating as blogger.

Paperback Writer – Lynn Viehl, a successful paperback writer, publishes almost daily on a variety of topics, ranging from photos of her pet cat to pending pending submission oppurtunities.

Terrible Minds – The irascible Chuck Wendig always has something interesting to say.

Chuck Sambuchino’s Guide To Literary Agents – If finding a mainstream publisher is your thing, this blog might be for you. Chuck used to blog on his own, but now he places his posts with the Writer’s Digest site.

A Short List of Best Literary Blogs

If a list of 101 literary blogs seems like a real time killer (especially if you read each), then you might want to go to Positive Writer, where you can find a list of 25 writing blogs. The site is the product of Bryan Hutchinson, an author who focuses mainly on motivation issues.  His popular blog has received numerous awards, just not any from Writer’s Digest.

 

Cat's eye Nebula from NASA
Cat’s eye Nebula from NASA

The Growing Popularity of Self-publishing

Soul_Nebula
The Soul Nebula from Wikipedia

What’s Up With Kindle’s Direct Publishing Select Program?

Kindle’s Direct Publishing Select seems to be gaining popularity with a growing number of authors and more importantly…..also with readers. However, it should be noted that various publishing companies and some literary agents do not share the same opinions.  Following is a quick glimpse at a few writers who have opted for participation in the Amazon e-book program and how they have done with their literary titles.

DutchMasters-adjusted

 

Submitting to Curtis Brown

As a literary agent for Curtis Brown LTD, Nathan Bransford developed one of the most widely read literary blogs around. Large numbers of prospective authors followed followed his timely remarks and comments, hoping to obtain the right piece of advice that would propel them into the fast lane of literary success. I was one of those people and I even went as far as to submit a query letter concerning a completed manuscript. All I got was a “Not For Me” rejection, but the general insight on the submission process that he provided was most helpful.  This was information published on his blog that could be read by everybody.

SF_From_Marin_Highlands3
San Francisco as viewed from the Marin Headlands, from wikipedia, photo by Paul.h

From Literary Agent To Sub-published Author

While a literary agent, Nathan began  publishing his Jacob Wonderbar series of sci-fi space travels aimed for younger readers. Not long after Mr. Bransford left the West Coast agency and took a job writing for CNET. He still writes the Wonderbar books and blogs as an author instead of an literary agent. As a result his posts are less frequent but still very informative. The development that has caught my eye was a recent announcement that he is writing a novel which will be self-published in the near future. This is a most interesting turn of events that illustrates how quickly digital self-publishing is making inroads into the mainstream publishing world. This is just one example, but I think it shows how important digital e-publishing is becoming to authors.

Nathan Bransford Moves On

NGC 4452: An Extremely Thin Galaxy Credit: ESA, Hubble, NASA
NGC 4452: An Extremely Thin Galaxy Credit: ESA, Hubble, NASA

In transition:   “It’s with a huge mix of emotions (insert: wonderment, excitement, sadness, nostalgia) that I let you know that this is my last day as a literary agent. I am leaving the world of publishing to work at the tech news/review site CNET, where I will be helping to coordinate social media strategy.”  Nathan Bransford on announcing his exit from Curtis Brown.

The big news in the literary blogging world concerns the sudden departure of Nathan Bransford from the Curtis Brown Agency.  Nathan has decided to leave the world of agenting literary masterpieces and will now work for CNET reviewing electronic equipment and software.

Here’s what Betsey Lerner at “The Forest For The Trees” had to say;

“Anyway, Mr. Bransford, agent and gentleman, we will bid you adieu from the dark side of living off the backs of writers, au revoir to 15% percent commish and enjoy a real salary.” Actually these comments were a little bit tongue in cheek for she continued with these words:

“Your generosity is as infectious as is your love for books and the writing process. I wish you well in your new endeavor. I’m sure your clients will miss you enormously.”

And then there were some comments posted by J.N. Duncan, a client of Mr.Bransford, who has now been picked up by another agent at Curtis Brown;     “It is a sad day today. Today we say goodbye to Nathan Bransford, literary agent. He is leaving us for greener pastures……Secondly, I want to say what a pleasure it has been to work with him and be his client.”

All in all the move seems to be a wise one for the most widely-read, blogger among prospective authors, but his departure does seem to point towards the rapidly changing world of publishing. Maybe Nathan just had a good opportunity that he couldn’t pass up, but I suspect he took a look at the rising success of e-books and the diminishing returns on print and decided it was time to go.

Personally, I think for a person that was already a published writer and likely entertained more ambitions as a writer than as an agent, the move might even be a bit overdue. Nonetheless, I enjoyed reading his blog and even got a kick out of the the two “Not for me” rejections he sent me. All in all, I think he just took a big step in the right direction.

The Cat's Eye Nebula Credit: J. P. Harrington (U. Maryland) & K. J. Borkowski (NCSU) HST, NASA
The Cat's Eye Nebula Credit: J. P. Harrington (U. Maryland) & K. J. Borkowski (NCSU) HST, NASA