Writing Advice from an Avid Football Fan

Posted on Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Today’s writing advice comes to us from
Fine Lines friend Jennifer Lovett Herbranson a loyal ‘Bama Fan.

Born into the Lessons

I was raised down South by a strong Southern woman who felt every challenge was an opportunity for character growth, and she lived by the mantra, “Hardwork gets you what you want.” In Alabama, football is like a religion and coaches are like gods. University of Alabama legendary Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant is one of them. My father played for him in the mid-1960s and raised us on Coach Bryant’s life lessons. Combined with my mother’s strong will, Alabama football lessons taught us everything we needed to be successful in life.

I’m also a serial procrastinator

I find nothing compelling about doing something early. But give me hard deadlines and 24 to 48 hours out, I’m on fire. Recently, though, I’ve noticed something troubling among writers I’ve met. They are dissatisfied with their writing lives. They can’t find enough time in the day or they can’t wrap their heads around their ideas or they have no idea how the business runs.

If you want to be a writer, you have to accept that it is not easy. But then again, when it’s hard, it’s worth it. So get on up, dust yourself off, grab whatever tool you need to succeed and get to work. You know you want to do this and you know you can succeed. Here are three ways to help you:

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Fine Lines, Good Writing

Posted on Monday, August 25, 2014

The Fine Lines project is all about good writing.

Good Writing

What we want to do is make the clear thinking of our authors visible in print and on our website. Since 1991, Fine Lines has provided a place where creative writers share their written ideas. Our quarterly publications are dedicated to the writing development of all its members. What started out as a single classroom project is now a fifty-state network of authors who love the written word, and it has developed into a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit educational organization.

New Publishing Frontiers

When we found out that WriteLife, our publisher for the last six years, closed its doors at the end of July, we knew Fine Lines would have to evolve once more. As we pursue the many options available writers, we have chosen to start by sharing the summer 2014 issue via our website, www.finelines.org. It will be there, by September 15, 2014. In the future, we may try to publish in both mediums. Time will tell.

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What I Have in My Heart I Must Out

Posted on Monday, August 18, 2014

ondays with martin“Have you ever had a realization that the whole beautiful, terrible crazy drama of life was perfect? Sometimes, this realization comes during holy moments, those brief suspensions of time when eternity steals over us, and we feel the inherent integrity of life” (Joan Borysenko, Fire in the Soul).

Recently, I was reading a CD cover on Ludwig van Beethoven’s concertos and came across his quote:

“I have never thought of writing for renown and glory. What I have in my heart I must out: That is why I write.”

Beethoven’s story still inspires many people. He discovered at age 26 that he was losing his hearing, became moody and withdrawn due to his embarrassment of impending deafness, and was ashamed to tell people to “speak up.” “Alas! How could I possibly refer to the impairing of a sense which should be more perfectly developed in me than in others, a sense which once was perfect.”

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Creative Non-Fiction: What You Need to Know

Posted on Wednesday, August 13, 2014

There often seems to be a consensus among folks when talking about writing, that creating creative non-fiction is difficult, and only for the most expert writers. However, this is a monstrous falsehood! Anyone can write creative non-fiction; here’s what you need to know ->

The Non-Fiction in Creative Non-Fiction

The first rule to writing non-fiction is to be as truthful as possible. Yes, the word creative means you’ve created bits, but that doesn’t mean you’ve created something from scratch. For example, begin with a place you’ve visited, an interesting person you met, an experience you had, a funny joke you were told, and start your story there. The place, the people, the sounds, the smells, those are all real things you’ve experienced. Remember; the definition of non-fiction writing is a story based on real facts and information.

The Creative in Creative Non-Fiction

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Operation Chrysalis – First of Mondays with Martin

Posted on Monday, August 11, 2014
*From Fine Lines Founder and Managing Editor David Martin


23 Years In…

ondays with martinThe Fine Lines project is now in its twenty-third year of publishing our members’ creative writing. When we prepared our first issue of four pages in 1992, no one could have imagined that we would come this far. Developing our quarterly issues remains a challenge, and every day, we think of new ways to reach more writers of all ages and encourage them to improve their craft as wordsmiths.

Who We Are

During this time, Fine Lines evolved from a newsletter to a magazine to a quarterly journal, from four pages to three hundred pages, from an initial audience of one high school class to one of national scope, from local submissions only to international contributors in thirty-three foreign countries, from second grade haiku poets to college professors, from “wannabe” authors of every genre to a nuclear scientist, a congressman, and a Native American chief.

When we found out that our publisher for the last six years is changing its path, we knew Fine Lines would evolve once more. As we pursue the many options available regarding publishing, we have chosen to start by sharing the Summer 2014 issue via our website, www.finelines.org. In the future, we may try to publish in both mediums. Time will tell.

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Market-Write Tip #1

Posted on Wednesday, August 6, 2014

I have good news and bad news. The good news is that it only takes one book to earn you the title of published author and all of the benefits thereof. The bad news is: One book isn’t enough.

However, back to the good news, you are an artist and the most important process you are involved in is creating. Then creating more.

mwt square

Market-Write Tip #1: Create a body of work.


The first thing a body of work gives you is authority.

And, in business terms, consumer confidence. Keep in mind for many authors, their first consumer is a potential agent or publisher. Having works published via literary journals, winning contests, and magazine publications are all part of the resume to garner attention and recognition.

The second point to continual creation is the mastering of the craft.

Every author wants to create a break-out first-time novel. For example The Book Thief is praised as a “sensational debut novel,” when in fact this is Markus Zusak’s 4th published book. On his website, Zusak’s primary writing goal is “I’m always trying to write a better book than the last one. I want to grow with every book.” Authors, like every artist, clarify their voice and perfect their craft first and foremost through creation.

There are certain artist who strive for fame, musicians in particular, like the legendary band Kiss who set out from the start to become rock stars. One of the many marketing tools they utilized was to aggressively create and release new albums, even early on. Before Kiss really “hit it big” they released 4 albums in less than 3 years. Kiss’s commercial success came with their live double album, something that was only possible with a backlog of original music. This live album was recorded in Detroit, Cleveland, Wildwood, and Davenport – not in giant arenas. However, the release gave the impression of longevity and stardom, just what they needed to gain the necessary momentum into mainstream popularity.

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3 Things Successful Writers Have in Common

Posted on Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Don’t Clip Your Wings

bpwAs the host of Back Porch Writer: The show for writers, about writers, and writing, I have the pleasure of learning from an amazing variety of writers, editors, publishers, marketing, and publicity experts. After over a year of interviews, I can tell you that they all have this advice in common:

1) Go after what you want. No one can do it for you.

Is it easy? No.

Is it necessary? That depends how hungry you are.

The one thing that distinguishes a published writer (self/indie or traditionally) from an unpublished one, is a burning desire to make something happen. That burning desire is the same thing that drives successful entrepreneurs, the street hustler, and, if you have young children, their insatiable need to find answers to everything, or focus intently on creating something, from the cardboard box that cool toy you bought them, came in. It’s not luck. Sure, luck has something to do with it, but it’s not the key ingredient.

2) Raise your expectations. For yourself.

If you’ve never watched Stand and Deliver, do it. Now. Well, not now, now. Finish reading this post first. Jaime Escalante said it best. Check out this clip.

Your desire to write and to publish must be stronger than your fear of rejection/failure. Rejection is nothing more than one editor, or agent’s, subjective opinion about the salability of your work. It’s not necessarily a reflection of the quality of your work.  A quick Google search yields a great list of literary giants who received numerous rejections from agents and publishers.

Let’s not forget one very important detail: Publishing no longer belongs in the hands of The Big Publishers. The publishing landscape is changing daily. Check out Author Earnings. You and your potential readers are in the driver’s seat.

Fifty Shades of Grey started as fan fiction. Whether you like the book or not, the author’s desire sent the series soaring.

No successful entrepreneur or street hustler puts all his eggs in one basket.

3) Sculpt Your Future

Now, more than ever, you have the unique opportunity to take control of your writing life – if, you have the desire. You are the sculptor.

Do you wake up ready to go after it? If you answered no, then you’ve clipped your wings.

How can you increase your desire?

  • Make and post a list of rewards for accomplishing your goals.
  • Observe other successful people (in and out of your field.)
  • Clip pictures that remind you of your goals. Post them where you can see them.
  • Visualize yourself being interviewed about your books. Is Oprah interviewing you? Are you on The Today show?
  • Use affirmations.

I’m sure there are other ideas. Post your suggestions in the comments. And, if you’d like to be a guest on Back Porch Writer, or write a post for the site, shoot me a message. I’d love to hear your ideas!


Kori Miller is an author, entrepreneur, and podcaster. She welcomes guest bloggers via two of her websites: Kori Miller Writes and Back Porch Writer.
Her book, Deadly Sins: A Dezeray Jackson Mini-Series, was released in 2014.


Making the Great Novels into Your Own

Posted on Wednesday, July 23, 2014

*Today’s essay is from Fine Lines Senior Editor Stu Burns

Writers Read, Right?

A while back I read the first draft of a friend’s novel then punched out my critiques and advised her to read more novels. This would give her a sense of how she could finish her work and take it to a more mature conclusion. That was the diplomatic version. Privately, I was wondering if she had ever read a novel. As I typed, I looked at the reflection in my monitor’s glare and realized I was staring at a hypocrite.

reading quote

I was trying to write my own novel at the time, an entry in the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) creative project I’d floundered on the previous November. I am a voracious reader, but mostly of nonfiction; I will argue all night that the life of Moe Berg is more interesting than anything J.D. Salinger ever wrote. Novels had never been something I looked forward to. When I read them, it was out of obligation, either for school or after years of prodding.

If I was going to be able to write my own fiction, I had to read novels and like them. In other words, it was time I indulged in outright thievery. There is a much-abused quotation from T. S. Eliot:

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