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 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.
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.
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
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
“For many years I was self-appointed inspector of snow-storms and rain-storms, and did my duty faithfully; surveyor, if not of highways, then of forest paths and all across- lot routes, keeping them open, and ravines bridged and passable at all seasons, where the public heel had testified to their utility.” Henry David Thoreau
Now that’s a nice job description for a great job. Fortunately, it’s one that has me gainfully employed for the entire winter. And it is a task that I will able to fulfill on a fairly regular basis, especially since I live over a hundred miles north from Walden Pond, the famous place, where Henry David once lived.
On the down side, it doesn’t pay very much, but that little piece of trivia seems relatively meaningless on a sunny day the day after a snowstorm. Over the course of a winter, money does matter, so I have to resort to other things to make ends meet, but still, I enjoy my outdoor work immensely.
These days it seems that I make about as much money inspecting snowstorms, as I do blogging. That’s my choice. Somehow I just can’t seem to get around to placing one of those adds on my site.When I take a look at the blogs I visit, many seem to form in the category of free advertising. So, I’ll pass on monetizing my blog for now, but I will throw in the keywords just for shits and giggles.
Of the two types of moneyless employment, I much prefer the outdoor walk through the snowy woods. The fresh air and the escape from the computer screen are a much needed commodity in my life, especially since I quit my day job.
Here are a few pictures of winter from around the globe that come your way courtesy of creative commons. Ordinarily, I would post my own pictures, but my camera has come up absent as of late, so enjoy these images.