For this book thus far, I’ve been writing whatever comes to mind, whatever message has to get out at the time. I know the book is about love and there are a lot of water references in it (a theme my editors pointed out to me) but it was all mixed together with no conclusion. The words weren’t going anywhere. Something was still missing. Every book needs a focus. Every book should be able to be summed up in a sentence or two. Find it, shape the book around it, and your writing will be far better for having a point.
New Year’s Day presents us with a bright hope that better things lay ahead in the coming year and a dilemma regarding how to turn that hope into a reality. Do you just buckle down and “keep on keepin’ on,” relying on determination and effort to produce results? Or is it time to embrace the mantra, “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always gotten,” and strike out in bold new directions? As you reflect on your writing goals for 2015 here are some excellent ideas you might want to consider as you set your goals for the new year.
For many genealogists it’s all about the tree. Creating a factual record of generations of ancestors is the focus of years of research. Filling in lines on your tree and adding names to your pedigree chart is a worthy goal, but it’s only a part of creating a family history. There is a story behind those entries on the tree. Capturing that narrative is what will interest readers. Begin with an old idea which appeared first in Greek concepts of drama: unity of time, place, and action. Each of your ancestors was born, lived and died in a specific place at a specific time. Part of their story is entwined with the historical context of their time and place. Here are some questions that will help you discover the relationship between your ancestors and their time and place.
(This is the fifth article in a series by Stories To Tell editor/designer Sarah Hoggatt recounting her experiences in publishing her poetry and nonfiction.) Do all authors think the book they’re working on is crap at some point in the writing stage? I’m beginning to suspect most authors struggle with this at some point and I have recently been finding my place among them. Are these ideas worth following, worth exploring? Are these words worth writing down? And what’s more, how are these struggles of my own ever going to help someone else?
Believe it or not, being a writer in a time of rapidly-evolving technology is not easy. Even though we have unlimited information at our fingertips, the information can be useless in the long run and even a distraction at some times.
This is the fourth article in a series by Stories To Tell editor/designer Sarah Hoggatt recounting her experiences in publishing her poetry and nonfiction. As writers, we usually don’t get to see into each other’s creative process. We see the final product or perhaps a semi-polished version read aloud in a writer’s group, but rarely do we get a peek at the raw material. My rough drafts come out of my writing notebook. Ever since I made it, it’s been the notebook I pick up whenever I want to write a new poem or when I long to explore an idea.
I played for Hall of Famer Tom Lasorda in 1968 when he was still managing the Dodgers’ Pioneer League team in Ogden, Utah. Tommy would walk through the clubhouse calling out to players, “You gotta believe! Do you believe!” The players responded, “I believe, Skipper.” Sound silly? Tom’s teams won three championships during his three years at Ogden. When he move to the Big Leagues in Los Angeles his teams won two World Series championships in (1981 and 1988), four National League pennants and eight division titles in his 20-year career as the Dodgers manager. One of the keys was that his players believed in themselves. To write well an author must believe in himself. Yet for many writers there’s a nagging doubt when they sit down to write. Here are links to four articles that will help you dispel doubts and confidently repeat, “I believe!” every time you start typing.
As great an experience as publishing is, I learn a lot every time I go to print, lessons I put into practice with subsequent books. I thought these lessons would be for myself alone until a high school student approached me asking if I would mentor her for her senior project. She reminded me a bit of myself at that age except even brighter and more put together. So I took what I learned and shared those lessons with her. It was a gift to pass them on to such a gifted artist in her own right and her book came out beautifully. Here is some of what I told her in relation to the physical printing of books:
It’s the season for Best of 2014 Lists. In the world of books they are coming at us from all directions. Take a look at some of the most prominent, then leave a comment with your “best of 2014” recommendations.
You’ve been working on some writing and are considering the possibility of self-publishing down the road, but it looks like a large, unmanageable jungle. You’re not sure where to even start and thus ask a question I often hear, “How did you start publishing?” Sarah Hoggatt of Stories To tell explores her path into print.
In this post our intern, Ben Kostyack, raises questions about the value of the literary canon. Read his take then weigh in with your own. In high school English, everyone reads the classics. To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby, The Catcher in the Rye, and various Shakespeare plays. After we recently stumbled through Macbeth in my 12th grade AP English Literature class, my classmates and I questioned the reasoning behind why we need to read these outdated books.
It’s the question so many people ask. As writers, I’m sure you know what it is. It’s the question that brings both great delight and great discomfort. It’s the question that makes us smile with pride yet also makes us suddenly shy. It’s the coaxing out of information we tend to clutch tightly to our chests. The one we are secretly longing to be asked. “So how’s the book going?” There it is. What do we say? Do we tell them what we’re writing about, what stage the book is in, what we want it to become? I’ve been asked this question recently by my editors, by the baristas at my favorite coffee shop, and by a friend while I was visiting her house. I actually love to be asked this question as it keeps me accountable to keep writing and it gives me opportunity to share about a topic I love. Here at “Stories to Tell,” we know many of you are going through the same process of writing, editing, and publishing your book so we thought it would be fun and informative if we created a blog series around the process of me putting my book together.
Your book is almost ready to publish. You have lots of questions. Print? eBook? Both? How can I make sure that I get the widest possible distribution and easiest order fulfillment services? What publisher is best for my needs? In the next few posts we will look at some of the options you might consider. If your book is intended for a limited distribution to family and friends like many family histories or memoirs you’ll want what is often called private printing. (We’ll explore private printing in an upcoming post.) If you have commercial aspirations for your book you have many more issues to consider. We’ll begin by looking at some of the most popular options you may want to explore. Today we’ll explore Ingram Spark.
We’re a third of the way through National Novel Writing Month? It’s estimated that approximately a half-a-million people are banging away at their computers to knock out the first draft of a novel. The annual event might be well advised to make Nike’s famous slogan “Just do it!” the month’s theme. Pulp mystery writer Mickey Spillane could be its poster boy. I once saw Spillane on the Tonight Show. Johnny Carson asked him how long it took him to write a book. “Depends on how bad I need the money,” said Spillane. “What's the fastest you ever wrote one,” asked Johnny. “I wrote one over a three-day weekend once,” he replied. So it can be done, if you're skilled and experienced, not to mention highly motivated. But might a less rushed, more planned approach work better for some authors?
Veterans Day is the day Americans officially honor the service of our military veterans. What better way is there to honor them than to preserve the stories of their service? That preservation can take a variety of forms. The Library of Congress Veterans History Project at the American Folklife Center is preserving oral history interviews with veterans. The project website provides specifics on how you can participate and offers guides to the interview process. A quick web search of veterans history” will provide listings for many state and local veterans history projects which support the work being done at the Library of Congress. Books make a great preservation tool.