Posts made in July, 2014

3 Things Successful Writers Have in Common

3 Things Successful Writers Have in Common

Don’t Clip Your Wings As 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 The one thing that distinguishes a published writer (self/indie or traditionally) from an unpublished one, is a burning desire to make something happen.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...

Read More

Making the Great Novels into Your Own

Making the Great Novels into Your Own

*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. 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: “Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal.” Cynics often cite the great poet’s line out of context. In isolation, Eliot does seem to be encouraging plagiarism or worse. In perspective, this clever sentence is part of a complementary sketch of English writer Philip Massinger praising that Renaissance playwright’s use of material from William Shakespeare. As Eliot continues, “Bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different. The good poet welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different from that from which it was torn; the bad poet throws it into something which has no cohesion.” Eliot was a great example of this himself. He freely admitted that his masterpiece, “The Waste Land,” was drawn from several influences, including one of my favorite books, James Frazer’s The Golden Bough. Even with this confession, I have a hard time seeing anything from Frazer in Eliot’s lines. The poet has done such a complete job digesting the themes of death and rebirth that they no longer belong to the anthropologist who strung them together. This is the kind of heist I was after. Trying to reinvent the wheel in the shape of a novel was a fool’s errand. I was out to steal. Reading for Style I was luckier than most writers who haven’t read enough novels. Between conversations with friends...

Read More

Writing Fast or Slow? It’s Personal

Writing Fast or Slow? It’s Personal

*Today’s Guest post is by senior Fine Lines editor and author Margie Lukas I consider myself a slow writer. For me, the deepest connections in Farthest House came over time. I worked on the novel for seven years, though the ideas had been swimming in the back of my mind for a few years even before I put a #2 pencil to yellow legal paper. Which doesn’t mean I did nothing else in that time. As it simmered, I worked on other writing projects. Grace of Time Writing slow gave me the time to think and rethink plot lines, discuss them with others and consider fully my objectives. I asked myself over and over, “Is there a better way? What does this achieve, and what might that achieve?” Giving myself the grace of time, I gave my characters the same grace to mature in my mind. It’s happening again with the current novel I’m working on. With each new draft, I’m able to see associations and links I didn’t see the previous trip through. It’s like getting to know friends… or enemies. Secrets aren’t revealed right away. It’s over time—no matter how sure we are we have someone figured out—that we truly get to know them. Getting to know fictional characters isn’t speed dating. Without having to worry about a pressing deadline, even one that’s self-inflicted, I can wait on the characters, wait on place, and wait on voice. I think speed, or the long and slow painstaking process, also depends of the writing project itself. Each is different. An author might spend two years on one book and find the next one takes ten. Susan Power is a great example. “My first novel, The Grass Dancer,” she writes, “took about two years of slow meandering for me to write the first half of it. Then, after I’d sold it on the basis of four chapters and acquired a deadline, I ended up writing the second half of it in about six weeks. My story/essay collection was years in the making. My latest novel, Sacred Wilderness, took seven years to write. This was in part, I realize now, because I wasn’t meant to do only book research, but to actually apply some of the sacred lessons I was learning to my own life. The process of discovering the book (which has a transformational message) was meant to be transformational for me as I worked with it. I was pushed to grow along with the book.” What do You and Your Project Need? Is it a quality product, with no other consideration? Or is it more immediate rewards such as a bit of cash or a promotion from adjunct to...

Read More

5 Things a Writer Should Never Do

5 Things a Writer Should Never Do

*Today’s guest Blog is by author and Fine Lines editor Marcia Calhoun Forecki There are plenty of blogs for writers which are positive. Bloggers giving advice on the six things every writer should know about combating writer’s block, seven things to jump start your creativity, or eight ways to end a sentence without using a preposition. And although no one likes a negative Nelly, today I’m taking that honor and talking about: Five things a writer should never do. Never plagiarize. That one is pretty obvious. If there’s a code for writers it has to be do your own work.   Never think you will remember a great idea or sentence in the morning. This does not happen. Between the time the idea comes to you at night while brushing your teeth before bed, or while tossing and turning before sleep, many things can happen. In one night alone, you can lead a brigade of dragons to save the kingdom’s supply of toilet paper, lunch with Mary Todd Lincoln and your high school band teacher, or even kiss your first true love while he turns into Mr. Peanut. Who could be expected to remember a sentence or even a great idea after all that action. Never cease from writing a poem because all you’ve written are novels. Or vice versa. Every idea comes with its own structure. If the idea is a poem, write a poem. If the idea is a song, write a song. It doesn’t matter if you have never written a poem or a song, let the idea go where it wants to go and have the courage to follow.   Never say you won’t write today because you don’t have any good ideas. Sit down, pen or keyboard in hand, and be ready. Isabel Allende said, “Show up, show up, show up and the muse will show up, too.”  Start writing a letter to one of your heroes, or a list of your favorite literary characters, or even a recipe for a new cocktail. Out of those scribbles can come great ideas, but you have to “show up” and do the scribbling, first.   Never give up. If your first work doesn’t come together, write something else. If you don’t publish your novel, submit your poem. If you don’t write, you can’t succeed. That is the one certainty in writing. So, keep writing no matter what! In other words, “Write on!” What do you think? What’s the #1 thing a writer should Never Do?   Special thanks to senior editor Marcia Calhoun Forecki for sharing her wisdom with us.  Follow Marcia’s blog on Goodreads or check out her latest novel The Blood of the White...

Read More

My Top 5 Reasons Writing is Better than Sleeping

My Top 5 Reasons Writing is Better than Sleeping

*Today’s Blog is by Fine Lines editor and contributor Rhonda Buckhold Sleepless Nights Being diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), sleepless nights is a topic for which I am uniquely qualified. It is hard to shutdown an overactive brain. Many of my nights are spent writing, journaling, or list making. Writing is a great way to pass the time. These are my top 5 reasons that writing is better than sleeping. Reasons From 5 to 1 # 5 – Writing is a great excuse for being tired in the day. Face it, if you tell a teacher or boss, “I was up all night: watching tv, gaming, reading a novel, [or] because I just couldn’t sleep,” no sympathy will be bestowed upon you. If instead you say, “I was up all night writing: a novel destined to be a best seller, a poem about you, getting my thoughts down on paper to clear my head.” They will think that you are brilliant.  Or possibly be empathetic to you as a troubled artist. Verses thoughts of you as a slacker who chose to waste time instead of sleeping. Tip: If you use “the poem” excuse be prepared to share, they will want to hear it, in fact spend the next couple of nights writing some very nice poems that will be readily available for just such an occasion, then you are free to write on other topics. Also if you have a writing assignment due and you’ve procrastinated by watching tv, gaming, etc. it might be a good idea to write that instead of sleeping.  # 4 – Dreams can be so random and perplexing; writing rather than sleeping allows for control over the subject, momentum, and outcome of dreams. Tip: Keep a notepad and writing instrument close by at night incase you wake during a dream. Write it all down, work out the puzzle and finish the dream the way you want it to turn out.  # 3 – Writing while your pets, parents, siblings, child(ren) and/or spouse are snoozing allows for recognition of beauty. Anyone with a toddler, past or present, knows exactly what is meant here. Even puppies and bunnies are adorable when they sleep. They are so precious when they sleep! If you write while they sleep you can be productive and record your admiration, to read later when they are driving your poor sleep-deprived mind to the breaking point. Tip: Dim your computer screen before going to bed. Flooding a dark bedroom with brilliant light from a laptop while an overworked spouse is trying to sleep may wake something you don’t want to deal with in the middle of the night…learned this one the hard way! # 2...

Read More

Signup for the latest news and events at Finelines!

Current Issue

2017AutumnCover