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A Few Dilemmas Of The Writing Journey

(category: Writing, Word count: 601)
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Authoring as a Risk-Taking Endeavor

Being an unpublished novelist poses all sorts of dilemmas. Writing is entrepreneurial in nature, more than most people realize, and it is fraught with make or break decisions. Which side of the political spectrum do you show yourself? Do you embellish this or that social issue, perhaps the one most fashionable, or do you hide from them all?

If your goal is publication for its own sake, and you've decided to write, say, Gothic romance number 214,386, then you do need to follow the Gothic template. But you also need to make it stand out from most of the 214,385 Gothics that came before. The burden to distinguish is higher for unpublished writers because they have no track record to give their work advanced credibility or benefit of the doubt. Yet if the novice distinguishes herself too well, then her originality may be viewed as too risky in itself.

This need to balance risks even extends to things that look simple and straightforward on paper. Take the question of how good your manuscript should be before you query it. The reference books are all unanimous in urging that your manuscript should simply be the best you can make it before submitting it. But it's not that simple in real life. First off, many amateur writers don't know how good their writing is relative to their own potential. This is especially true if you are trying to achieve a literary end that's new or different, say, push a new frontier in poetry, or achieve new levels of fright in horror.

In my own case, in writing Coinage of Commitment, I was bent on writing a love story unlike any other, a mainstream tale of love at a higher level. That made this project so different that even the style I adopted needed to be distinctive, a vivid way of expression that leads readers through the characters' souls to glimpse romantic love at breathtaking heights. That's not exactly stock stuff, making it risky to submit and hard to know when it was good enough to send out.

Not realizing what I was getting into, I polished the manuscript as best I could, then sent it out. Two months of querying later, when on a whim I sat down to reread it, I was shocked to discover that it was not the greatest love story ever written, something I suddenly discovered was important for me to achieve. Important enough that I pulled the ms off the market and sent it to not one but two independent editors in series. Three rewrites and seven months later, I resumed the query campaign. But by then, I wondered about the stability of my improvement progress.

Sure enough, despite best intentions, my writing ability kept jumping ahead of itself. I simply couldn't keep my hands off the ms for wanting to make it better. That meant that the sample chapters I sent out kept changing. Even after the ms was accepted for publication, I could not quench my hunger for better prose. My publisher, Saga Books, in a fit of artistic benevolence, held the presses for the extra weeks it took me to equilibrate at deciding, finally, that I could not improve a single word.

Yes, I realize that this is an unusual account. But it shows that every publishing journey is bound to be unique. So when you read simple instructions like: submit only your best work, don't be surprised if the path in execution is more tortuous than you ever dreamed it could be.

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(category: Writing, Word count: 530)
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The best way to cheapen anything is to overuse it ...

I recall a sports clip from many years ago, where a veteran basketball player near the end of his career was reminiscing about his prime and comparing it to the supporting-cast status he was about to assume with his latest team. He made a comment along the lines of "I've been a superstar; it's fine with me if I don't have that role anymore."

Perhaps he thought he was being humble. For my part, I thought that if I didn't remember him from a fairly illustrious college career, I wouldn't have picked him out of a lineup of one.


This word took flight in the 1970s, as far as I can tell. It was originally intended to draw a distinction between well-known people and really well-known people, usually from the sports or entertainment industries. However, I think most would agree that the term reached its zenith when Andrew Lloyd-Weber and Tim Rice affixed it to the title of their most famous rock opera, 'Jesus Christ Superstar.'

Admittedly, a reference like that set the bar quite high for anyone else who might want to be affiliated with the designation. But to me, this is the way it should be.

For the past decade or so, especially in the USA, 'superstar' has been so watered down that even pop dictionaries have begun to pull back on its significance. Any notable of the moment seems to qualify. However, for the most part, unless they're like the basketball player mentioned above and actually believe the hype, they're not the root of the diluted definition.

That distinction is reserved for our contemporary wordsmiths, the writers and broadcasters of our time.

There's a reason such a seemingly innocuous bit of pedantry merits notice. The Longer Life site promotes factors which can improve your quality of living. To me, that implies that certain standards of competence must be maintained. In the bell curve of daily existence, there must be sentinels whose very actions exemplify and maintain quality in their area of expertise. This is how a culture advances.

The impact of wordsmiths in any culture is enormous. Not only do they chronicle every aspect of it, they influence its nature and perceptions. The prominence of their vocations ensures they are very aware of these realities.

Thus, there should be little or no tolerance for rendering the tools of their trade - words and grammar - in diminishing contexts.

Thus, in this instance, a 'star' is recognized by anyone who follows his profession. A 'superstar' is recognized by anyone. David Beckham is a superstar. So is Michael Jordan, Babe Ruth, Wayne Gretzky, Humphrey Bogart, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley and Maria Callas.

So is Ernest Hemingway.

His work is proof that it's not the tools you use, but how you use them. He's what Hunter S Thompson and Richard Farina almost were. More importantly, he did his part to keep the bar raised high.

That Hemingway immersed himself into every aspect of that word is a backhanded tribute to his zeal for both his times and his craft.

It's what we should expect from a superstar.

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Writing Is It A Skill Craft Or Gift

(category: Writing, Word count: 608)
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Whenever you gather writers together they talk about writing. There are many different types of writers. Those who prefer to compose in long-hand or can only write on an old-fashioned manual typewriter. Those who write to music, demand complete silence, or create best surrounded by noise. You have the writers who must plan and outline before they can begin and those who find even talking about a project before it is drafted can stifle their creativity. But one of the most controversial divisions among writers is about whether writing is a skill, craft, or gift.

I admit that I like to stir the fire a bit because I can argue all three points and depending on how my own writing is going at the moment I may find that one viewpoint carries more weight for me personally.

I know as a teacher of writing that writing is a skill. I have taken people, young and old, who loathed writing and believed they would never be able to write - and provided them with basic tips and tools to become good basic writers. I have taken good basic writers and given them the support and direction they've needed to become skilled writers. I've watched skilled writers with practice and determination become proficient writers. I have seen this in the classroom, at writing conferences, and in newsrooms. I have witnessed this transformation enough to know that writing is a skill that can be taught and a skill that can be learned.

I know as a writer, editor, and reader that writing is a craft. As the definition reads to craft is "to make or produce with care, skill, or ingenuity". A skilled writer can capture our interest and convey information, but a writer can also craft a story, poem, or essay that touches our emotions as well as our brains. For those who have gone beyond simply skilled to be craftsmen and craftswomen they can rely on their knowledge, experience, and instinct to create writing that does more than simply delivers - it also sings.

I know as a writer and reader that writing is a gift. Some writers simply possess a special quality that allows them to step beyond and above the huddled masses. For some it is a special ability to shape words into images and ideas and for some it is a unique vision of this world (or another) that speaks to our souls in a way others cannot.

Are writers born or made? Many people argue that some gifted writers are born, but I am not convinced. Perhaps you could have some predisposition but I believe that writers are made. They are made in the rocking chair when Mother reads "Goodnight, Moon"; they are made under the cover with a flashlight when you simply must finish "The Hobbit" for the first time; they are made when you proudly pocket your first library card; they are made when you fill your first notebook; they are made when you submit your first poem, article or story for publication; they are made when you receive your first rejection; and they are made when you turn the computer on every day to write.

I believe some writers are supremely gifted but even so does that mean it was a gift given to them whole or was it a gift developed through years of reading, writing, talking, and thinking about words?

So, I believe, writing is all three - a skill, a craft, and a gift. Some writers find their ability spans all three while others never progress past the level of skill.

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Your Child Is Talented

(category: Writing, Word count: 488)
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Life is full of amazing discoveries. All my life I firmly believed that talent is a strictly innate quality. If you do not have the inborn aptitude for singing, neither conservatoire, nor endless practical singing classes will make you a remarkable singer. It turned out I had been on the wrong path. Modern discoveries have shown that talent does not depend on innate qualities. Moreover the social environment appeared to be crucial in forming personal endowments. So, is not it great? Then all of us can turn into geniuses if we put our effort into it. I would like to be so enthusiastic about it. But of course there are many restrictions here. First of all, the basis of talent is formed up to three years. During this period child's brain cells are best at developing new connections (by 3 years 90 % of the brain structure has been already formed). This age is very important: the toddlers are developing intellectually and most of their personal traits are also formed during this time. The main aim of the education and upbringing at this age is to develop fundamental psychological functions- memory, attention, imagination, logical thinking. Many modern psychological tests for one-year-old include social aspects. Besides the well known IQ they reflect the child's emotional quotient - EQ. Without it even the high IQ is not a guarantee of future success. The only chance to improve EQ - teach the child to communicate with other people.

Scientists affirm that talent formation stops at the age of thirteen. Up to this moment parents have to work wonders. Their first priority should be to stimulate their children to develop themselves without pushing them too hard.Wunderkinds do not follow general standards. Their talent is like a comet: flashes and fades away in no time. The world is amazed with 6-year old students of universities, young musicians performing in the most reputable opera halls, young geniuses calculating complicated mathematic figures. However, it is often the case that their emotional development is often retarded. The reason is fast intellectual development. Their unique abilities account for hypertrophied development of the specific memory. Such overcharge inhibits the development of the feelings. There is a great variety of definitions to the word" talent", some are rather contradictory and argumentative. Probably it is next to impossible to define such a complex phenomenon. Talent integrates experience, skills and knowledge, an aspiration to change the world for better and contribute to universe progress.

Such desire does not appear occasionally. It lives within the person awaiting its time. Sometimes the appropriate time never comes. Routine problems, bustle and busy life rhythm take too much energy. Talent won't show itself if the person is exhausted. Such state may last for years. Then we just prefer to justify ourselves and say that the talent has been lost. Don't you think that we always have a chance of reviving it?

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Home Business Copywriting Ideas

(category: Writing, Word count: 560)
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When you do any online research about home based businesses, you will likely find thousands of results that tell you that the most successful and easiest business to start from your home is a copywriting business. You can make a great living without ever having to get dressed or leave the privacy of your own home.

Out of all the home businesses that give you the option of solely working from home, such as marketing programs and designing companies, copywriting is still touted to be the best of its kind.

The biggest reason that copywriting has been dubbed the perfect at home business is due to the extremely low startup costs. You really don't have to have any special talent, just be able to write in good English and grammar, mix in a little creativity, and you are raring to go.

If you have had any previous writing experience at all, you simply just boot up your computer, and go to work. For those who have little to no experience, but are still interested in starting a copywriting business from home, they should check out one of the many online classes available that teach you the writing basics you will need to know in order to get started.

Another benefit of an at home copywriting business is that you have the option of working your day job, and running the business on the side, or just simply depending on your copywriting business for your sole full-time source of income.

Few people are able to just up and quit their job to try and work from home, as they don't have the capital needed to make ends meet while waiting on the profits to start rolling in. Home copywriting is also taking off with stay at home moms who are interested in contributing to the household income while still staying at home to care for their children, they can work when their schedule allows, and care for the family as needed.

The best of both worlds all in one tidy package, especially since the money made by these moms is extra income, there is no risk involved, and their family won't starve if it doesn't work out.

You can start this business no matter how old you are, what gender you are, or what type of physical condition that you are in. If you can write, and are physically able to sit at the computer and type, then you can do this work.

The success of your home copywriting business is not affected by changes in the economy. There will still be work for you, even if unemployment rates rise, and the cost of living and interest rates go up. The better the economy, the more work you will probably get, but no matter how bad it is, you will still have work to keep your business afloat, unlike some other home based businesses out there.

If you want to earn some extra money, for whatever the reason, then you should consider beginning your own at home copywriting business. If you do good work, and become highly sought after, you may be able to produce enough income to be able to stay at home and work fulltime for yourself. Wouldn't it be nice to tell your boss goodbye, and know that you would still be financially secure?

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How To Write A Novel The Easy Way

(category: Writing, Word count: 599)
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How to write a novel the easy way? Can it be done?

Absolutely. Learning how to write a novel doesn't have to be complicated. When you follow a step by step process, you can take the complexity of how to write a novel and "dumb it down" to such a simple system that it becomes almost like paint by numbers.

Easy novel writing is a series of connections. You know, like "the foot bone's connected to the ankle bone."

In the case of novel writing, your connections look like this (feel free to add the "Dry Bones" tune to this list as you read it if you know it):

IDEA is connected to

QUESTIONS, which are connected to

CONFLICT, which is connected to

STORY QUESTION, which is connected to

THEME, which is connected to

PLOT, which is connected to

CHARACTERS, which are connected to

MOTIVATION, which is connected to

CHARACTER SKETCHES, which are connected to

SETTINGS, which are connected to

SETTING SKETCHES, which are connected to

RESEARCH LISTS, which are connected to

RESEARCH, which are connected to

SCENE CARDS, which are connected to

SCENE CARD FILE, which is connected to

PACING, which is connected to

QUERY, which is connected to

SYNOPSIS, which is connected to

FIRST PAGES, which are connected to

DRAFT, which is connected to

REWRITE, which is connected to

SUBMISSION, which is connected to


Whew! Seem like a lot. Well, it is a lot. But that doesn't mean it's complicated.

Let's break it down:

1. IDEA. Your novel idea is the basic concept. For example, the idea for my novel, Alternate Beauty, was that an obese woman finds herself in an alternate universe where fat is beautiful. This is kind of intriguing, but it's certainly not enough for a novel. So you have to start asking

2. QUESTIONS. To flesh out an idea, you need to start asking questions. Your seed question needs to be "What if". For instance, what if the woman who was in the alternate universe began losing weight. You throw out a bunch of answers to the what if question, and then you pick one that tickles your fancy and ask another what if question. It goes like this: Once the woman begins losing weight, she ends up as unhappy in the new universe as she was in the old. So what if she got fed up with being unhappy. Etc. etc.

As you work through what if questions, you throw in "Why" questions. Why does the woman lose weight? Why is she unhappy?

Keep stringing these questions together and you'll begin to find your

3. CONFLICT. Conflict comes from a character wanting to get something and being blocked in some way from getting what he or she wants. A good novel makes characters' lives miserable before everything turns out in the end (either good or bad). You weave your questions together in a way that reveals your character's desires and what obstacles preventing him or her from achieving those desires. It's the conflict that keeps your reader guessing when you keep creating

4. STORY QUESTIONS. Story questions are the secrets you keep from the reader so the reader has questions in his or her mind. You layer the conflict, one upon the other, so the reader has to keep reading to satisfy his or her curiosity. All the story questions, when answered at the end of the novel reflect the

5. THEME. The theme is the central message of the novel

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Just Write Wherever You Are

(category: Writing, Word count: 430)
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There was a time when you needed to relocate if you wanted to become a successful writer. In essence you went where the work was.

The Internet has opened a whole new world for writers. The idea of telecommuting has become a welcome component to the mechanism of freelance.

Today you can sit in a kitchen in Iowa and write for a publication based in the heart of New York. You can write for a firm in Australia from the comfort of your home office in Ontario. You can also write for clients from any point on the globe while wearing your sweats.

There is still a need for local writers to cover local events, but freelancers tap into the human experience and pass that information along in a way that can defy time zones.

The truth is there is a growing acceptance of freelance writers for both print and cyber content. I suppose one of the primary reasons has to do with the cost-effective nature of relying on freelance writing. As publishing businesses have worked to streamline operations they have come to rely more on freelancers who can provide copy on an 'as needed' basis. For the freelancer this provides a sense of personal freedom and income. The benefit for the publisher is in not paying a full time writer when their may not be enough work to warrant their employment.

More Reasons to Hire a Freelance Writer

1) You don't have to pay freelancers overtime.

2) You don't have to pay freelancers sick leave.

3) You don't have to provide benefits to freelancers.

4) You can pay a freelance writer well and still pay less than a full-time counterpart.

5) Most freelancers are eager to please and will likely provide their best work. If they don't, you have the satisfaction of knowing there are many other freelancers available.

Reasons to Become a Freelance Writer

1) You set your own hours.

2) You can always refuse to work with a hard to please client.

3) You can work as much or little as you want.

4) A happy client not only returns, but they often bring referrals.

5) If you need time off, you only need to ask yourself.

The possibilities for a freelance writer seem to expand each day. The need for content from writers is huge and even the start of a part-time freelance business may provide a better income than you could have imagined. There's no doubt that it's hard work, but it's also doing something you already love to do.

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How To Get A Book Deal Without Being Scammed

(category: Writing, Word count: 402)
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How to get a book deal without being scammed is a hurdle for any writers. Publishers Are Not Exempt From Questionable Practices.

Keep These Warning Signs in Mind

Charges a fee to read your manuscript.

You are providing the product for them to sell. Why should you have to pay to see if they are interested in your work?

Offers subsidy contracts

(you pay them to have your book published) when they promote themselves as commercial publishers. Are POD (publish-on-demand) publishers, such as authorshouse, IUniverse, and Xlibris, legitimate publishers? Yes as long as the author realizes the costs and the limitations of POD publishing. Publish On Demand books are rarely stocked in bookstores.

Bait and Switch

There are some publishers who hide behind the mask of respectability and call themselves 'traditional' when in fact they are a vanity press. How can you tell? Look at their websites, if the focus is on recruiting writers rather than promoting the books they publish, it's a huge red flag.

Other publishers 'will accept' your manuscript and then come back a few weeks later and say that their list for the next season is full but they would dearly love to publish your book. You just need to share the risk with them by giving them some money.

A new twist is to tell the author that their project has merit but the author will have to find an investor to sponsor their title. The publisher isn't asking the author directly for any funds but many authors shell out the necessary dollars rather than try and find an 'investor.'


The publisher says that any fees you pay them will be completely refunded once your book reaches a certain sales level, usually in the thousands. Or that they will provide a comparable number of 'free' copies when the magic sales level has been reached.

A twist on rebates is that the publisher will match your monetary contribution in marketing efforts for your title. Publishers are supposed to market their own titles. The match most likely will not be in advertising dollars, review copies sent, or book tour expenses but the efforts of the in house staff. Efforts that probably won't be focused specifically on your title.

How to get a book deal without getting scammed is possible for any author. Just keep these warning signs in mind.

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Book Review If I Did It Confessions Of The Killer By The Goldman Family

(category: Writing, Word count: 673)
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Yes folks, it's the long awaited OJ Simpson confession book! Except that in OJ's mind it was anything but, he claims it is a fictional account of how we would have done it, if he had done it! I have lots of problems with this book, not least of which is what was going through his sick and twisted mind to want to write the book in the first place. If you are innocent this book makes no sense. And if you are guilty, it makes even less sense, unless you are trying to confess and clear the air. But he plainly says, time and time again that it is fiction.

The good news is that through the intervention of Fred and Kim Goldman OJ Simpson will not see one dime of profits from its sale. The not so good news is that OJ did manage to get the almost $700,000 in advances before the project became public.

Really it is the story behind the book that makes better reading than the book itself. When the Goldman family heard that OJ Simpson was having a book written they moved into high gear to prevent its publication and his ability to profit from the misery. In the 13 years following the guilty verdict Simpson has paid exactly nothing of the money awarded to the Goldman's. He relocated to Florida to avoid the pesky Californian judgment, and spends a happy life playing golf and who knows what else. The award was somewhere in the 18 million dollar range, with interest that now amount has more than doubled, one report puts it at 39 million dollars.

With ammunition like that the courts sided with the Goldman's and gave them the rights to the book. Unfortunately there were strings attached, a bankruptcy was involved. And after much soul searching they realized that although they had won, the win came at the great price of now having to publish the book.

The end result, is a book that I am sure OJ hates! Yes his material is included in its unchanged entirety, however it it preceded by some commentary by Fred Goldman, and the actual Ghostwriter Pablo Fenjves. The book is ended by a chapter written by Dominick Dunne.

Let's take these sections one by one. Fred Goldman explains at length the problems and frustrations his family felt when it became public knowledge that OJ Simpson was planning a tell all book. One article I read claimed that this section was 'under edited,' that might be true, but it is also written from the heart. And I will take that every time over the sterile grammatical style favored by many large publishing houses. It worked for me and set the scene well.

The most damning testimony to the guilt and obvious truth to the 'hypothetical version of events' comes from Ghostwriter Pablo Fenjves. In a matter of just 20 pages Pablo tells a very interesting side of OJ Simpson. Although I had no doubt of his guilt from the time of the actual 1993 events, Pablo makes a case that is so strong event Judge Ito and that half wit jury would have found OJ guilty.

Next up, is the OJ Simpson text. Pretty much it is a self serving and nauseating piece of garbage. He explains at great length what a nice guy he is, and what a bad person Nicole Brown was. The one chapter of interest is the one detailing the events of the fateful night. With the exception of the 'second man,' it likely is one of the few factual parts of the entire manuscript.

The final chapter is written by Dominick Dunne. Dominick covered the original trial for Vanity Fair, and became a close friend of the Goldman's as a result. His is an interesting story, he too lost a child at the hands of a murderer, his daughter was killed, and the killer walked free after only 2

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