Book Recommendations: Write Within Yourself and Fearless Writing by William Kenower

Book Recommendations

Two books written by William Kenower have made a lasting impression on my writing life. Today I want to share those books with you. The books are titled Write Within Yourself: An Author’s Companion and Fearless Writing: How to Create Boldly and Write with Confidence.

Write Within Yourself

When William Kenower wrote Write Within Yourself, he didn’t intend for it as a book on writing. His purpose was to write a companion for the author, the writer seeking direction in a most important arena–“what it takes to write the book you most want to write.”

Kenower is a man committed to many things, one of which is finding that direction to take you where you want to go. In the case of a writer wanting to write that book, the writer needs to understand “what it takes to lead the life you most want to live.”

Collected within the covers of this book are essays and stories from the author’s life which help remind the reader he/she has always known where he/she wants to go. But knowing is not all there is to getting there.

“If my life has taught me anything, it is that there is neither such a thing as too far from myself nor such a thing as too close. The door to our heart remains ever open to our attention, and once within it, we can travel as deeply as we wish, that well-being the only channel through which life is ever known.”

— Write Within Yourself by William Kenower, p. 10

This is a book a writer will want to keep handy for ready reference. Kenower’s life lessons and stories should ring true with almost every writer.

Fearless Writing

Kenower’s subtitle for Fearless Writing is How to Create Boldly and Write with Confidence. What author wouldn’t want to know more about boldness and confidence? The subtitle is what drew me to this book. Well, that and knowing William Kenower wrote it.

Recently, I was privileged to not only hear Kenower talk about writing fearlessly but also had the opportunity to attend a half-day workshop the next morning. Like his writing style, Kenower is an authentic personality with a great sense of humor sprinkled throughout presentations.

Don’t be fooled by those characteristics, however. His primary goal in life is to help other writers learn from his writing life’s journey.

Whether you are a beginning writer or a veteran with years of experience, there is much to be gained from reading Fearless Writing. Kenower defines fearlessness as “that elusive blend of self-acceptance, confidence, and curiosity. It is the defining quality he believes sets apart those who find fulfillment and success.

On the back cover, I love this quote from David Laskin, author of The Children’s Blizzard and The Family:

“William Kenower is as charismatic on the page as he is in person, and in Fearless Writing he has distilled his wisdom down to its electrifying essence. This is a book that any writer will cherish and learn from.”

My favorite quote from the book is:

“You will find your confidence and begin to write fearlessly the moment you stop caring about what anyone else thinks.”

— Fearless Writing by William Kenower, p. 10

These words have made a difference in how I face the page or computer screen each day. I believe this book will have a great impact on any writer who reads it.


About William Kenower:

William Kenower is the editor in chief of Author magazine, a sought-after speaker and teacher, and the author of the books recommended above. He’s been published in the New York Times and Edible Seattle, and was a featured blogger on the Huffington Post. His video interviews with hundreds of writers from Nora Ephron to Amy Tan to William Gibson, are widely considered the best of their kind on the Internet. He also hosts the online radio program Author2Author, where every week he and a different guest discuss the books we write and the lives we lead.

Kenower’s books are available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and IndieBound. You may connect with him via his website, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Check Out New Year’s Deals for Writers and Bloggers

Who doesn’t love a deal, especially a New Year’s deal? Everybody loves deals. Just offer something at a good price and see how fast people come calling.

This week I’ve heard about some great deals for writers and bloggers. In honor of the support and encouragement my followers have given me in 2015, I’m sharing these New Year’s deals with you.

1. FIRST UP IS A GOOD DEAL FROM WEB HOST, BLUEHOST.

I’ve been working with BlueHost going on almost four years. They host this site plus two small business sites my husband and I run. When it comes to support, they are fantastic! When it comes to a great deal for new customers better than fantastic.

Right now BlueHost is offering a great monthly rate. And the reason I know about this discount is because I’m celebrating my first anniversary as a BlueHost affiliate. Yes, that means I get a little something for every new customer I send to BlueHost. If you’re interested in BlueHost as your site host, click on the image below and check things out: 

2. LOOKING FOR WRITING BOOKS AND/OR VIDEOS?

Writer’s Digest has some books offered at discount prices. Here is what I found in the store today:

2016 Writer’s Market Deluxe Edition by Robert Lee Brewer is a list of literary agents and publishers curated by Writer’s Digest and now they are offering it for 40% off the regular price, or $29.99, a savings of $20. In addition to the listings, the book includes many tips on the business of writing and a free webinar is offered (a $79 value) on building your audience, marketing, and publishing. It doesn’t sound like you could go wrong.

Under “Bundles and Kits,” a collection under the title Turn Your Blog Into a Successful BookThis bundle includes four books and three webinars on topics like How to Blog a Bookby Nina Amir, Blogging for Writers by Robin Houghton, and one of the webinars is on starting your platform. Regularly the price for this bundle (and you have to see it to believe it!) is $293.95 and you can buy it for only $49.99.

You will find other great offerings at the Writers Digest Shop, so spend some time and see what you can find to help your writing take off in 2016.

Note: I am NOT an affiliate of Writer’s Digest.

3. LOOKING TO SPIFF UP YOUR WEBSITE? LOOK NO FURTHER.

Elegant Themes is currently offering a 10% discount off themes and plugins for a limited time only when you sign up for their newsletter. Elegant Themes does a stellar job designing themes and creates some of the most effective plugins for WordPress I have used. Don’t miss this opportunity!

I am in no way affiliated with Elegant Themes.

4.WRITING SOFTWARE CAN BE EXPENSIVE, BUT LITERATURE & LATTE IS STILL OFFERING A GOOD PRICE FOR SCRIVENER.

I have used Scrivener since I began writing my memoir back in 2009. It has gone through many changes to make it a user-friendly writing tool. I especially appreciate the way I can organize my project within the software as if I were using an old-fashioned filing cabinet, file folders, and lots of paper. I just took a look at the site and was surprised to see you can still buy the software for Windows 10 for $40 and for Mac OSX Version for $45. Literature & Latte also offers a free trial. Check it out, and feel free to ask me questions. (Note: I am not an affiliate of Literature & Latte.)

There are many items helpful and useful for writers and bloggers. Sometimes you have to dig for them, and other times they come to you out of the blue. Keep your eyes and ears open and read up on the craft to see what’s happening with technology and books written to help us along the writing journey.

What writing tools and books have you seen deals on lately? Anything you can pass along to the rest of us today?

A New Library In Town: One Stop For Writers

If there’s one thing all writers agree on, it’s that writing is TOUGH. The road to publication twists and dips as we learn the craft, hone our abilities, create stories we’re passionate about, fight discouragement, educate ourselves about the industry…and then start the process all over again as we realize there’s room to improve. But you know what? If you are like me, you wouldn’t have it any other way.

Yet, sometimes it’s nice to get a helping hand.

 

Finding a good writing book, a helpful blog, a mentor or critique partner to share the journey with…these things are gems along the writing path.

And guess what? Maybe there’s another resource waiting just up the road called One Stop For Writers.

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One Stop For Writers is not writing software, but rather a powerful online library that contains tools, unique description collections, helpful tutorials and much more, brought to you by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi, the authors of The Emotion Thesaurus and Lee Powell, the creator of Scrivener for Windows.

Could One Stop For Writers be the writing partner you’ve been searching for? Visit Writers Helping Writers this week and see, where Angela, Lee and Becca are celebrating their venture with prizes and some pay-it-forward fun.

 

Reorganizing and Cleaning Up

Does your desk ever reach what is defined as “insanely messy?”

Mine does, and this week it has reached the end of my tolerance. Although a master at organizing someone else’s desk and keeping it that way, I seem to have absorbed through osmosis the ability my husband has to trash a desk and still work at it. I can’t.

Attribution: trec_lit via Flickr

This is not my desk. It is a photo I found via Flickr and gives a clear image of what I’m dealing with. What you can’t see is the disorganization in the rest of the room. That too is niggling away at my creativity.

Solution? Take a few days off from writing for reorganizing and cleaning up my space.

It will only mean a small amount of downtime and since we’re about to hit our third or fourth heat wave since the end of June, I might as well focus on indoor activities.

Yes, writing is an indoor activity but somehow lately I’ve been bogged down with family “schtuff” and interruptions from Life.

However, in spite of it all, I’m getting close to those beautiful words, “The End,” with the manuscript. And then I’ll be seeking some beta readers so watch for the call.

In the meantime, remember this quote attributed to Albert Einstein:

Attribution: QuotesEverlasting.com

Hmmm, maybe I won’t worry about the mess after all!

 

7 Reasons Good Writers Need Beta Readers

When you hear the word “beta,” what comes to mind?

A variety of uses are made of the word “beta,” and it’s not always what you think:

In today’s world, built primarily on technology, a beta may be an individual or company testing a proposed software, a new type of computer, a high-tech phone system, or any number of other devices.

Taking second place is often where beta finds itself, especially in the Greek alphabet where beta is the second letter, β. Then there is the capitalized form of Beta representing the second brightest star in a constellation or in chemistry where it means the second in any series of compounds in an atom.

Kampffisch aka betta splendens
Kampffisch aka betta splendens

And, of course, there is the beta fish, sometimes spelled betta, an often savage and warrior-like fish sold in pet stores. Our son raised some of these in his teens, and their beauty does not make up for their rude personalities.

But what if we add the word “reader” to the word “beta” to invoke the name of one of the most important members of your writing team?

You may be asking the definition of that name or label, a job description of this new team member, and other questions. Hopefully, the tips below will answer your questions.

But first, the definition of a beta reader:

A beta reader reviews a writer’s manuscript elements such as plot development, character descriptions and motivations, general readability, grammar, and logical inconsistencies. The writer may ask the beta reader to do all these things or limit the read to certain specific elements.

Note that beta reading is the step coming before the pre-publication edit done by someone with excellent professional editing skills.

With that definition in mind, what should a writer expect a beta reader to do?

Below are the 7 tips mentioned in the post title and promised earlier. These are taken from beta reading requests I have responded to, and they are what I would expect a beta reader to do for me:

Present in a considerate, tactful and diplomatic manner recommendations and feedback. This is an area where the reader should not be too direct or action-oriented in choosing words in preparing his opinions. A good beta reader makes suggestions, not directions, instructions or complaints. Recommendations or comments sent back to a writer should not produce negative reactions on the part of the writer.

Make personal observations as “asides,” if appropriate. These comments are helpful only if the writer understands they are not a part of your recommendations/feedback and are your personal reactions and feelings. Let’s say a particular character behaves in such a way you feel sorry for him. Tell the writer about the empathetic response you feel toward this character and why. Perhaps the writer did not intend the character to come across in this way. The reader’s personal reaction highlights this issue and in making this comment, the reader has alerted the writer so changes may be made. Or perhaps a certain scene wasn’t working for you. Passing this along with a good explanation will be helpful to the writer in reviewing that scene.

Perform a second reading and focus on specifics requested by the writer, making notes along the way. Recently, a writer requested “thorough” read, i.e. reviewing the elements above (see definition), and additionally based on my comments back to her, she queried me about some changes she was considering. Another writer pointed out she wasn’t looking for copy edits or proofing and provided a concise list of what she did want me to do. Each writer will have a particular process for moving the book toward publication. Each one will present a beta reader with different needs and requests.

Read the manuscript through for fun. That’s right — I said FUN! During this reading,  a beta reader should get lost in the story or in the purpose if reading a nonfiction book. After all, this allows the reader to report back accurately on how the book may or may not be received by the reading public. Here, the reader captures a general feel for the story line and characters while looking for any issues that disturb the reader’s ability to follow the story. Example: A character makes a sudden appearance on page 125 and is mentioned as having done a particular thing. Yet, the reader doesn’t recall having met that character in the earlier 124 pages.

Tell the writer when a particular character resonates with the reader or if a scene is especially moving. We all need to know when something is working well, and it costs us nothing to share the goodness along with the potential criticisms and errors that might be found and included in a reader’s response back to a writer. A good beta reader begins and ends his opinions with some of these good points and positives.

Point out issues not included in writer’s requests, when suitable.  If the reader notices an issue not included in the writer’s requested actions, it is permissible to it in the feedback. Example:Perhaps POV wasn’t included in the list. Suddenly, the writer is switching back and forth between first and third person. Or it takes too long at the beginning of the book to sense any action.

Here come’s the test of a goodbeta reader — the ability to be as tactful and diplomatic as anyone serving as the U.S. Ambassador to a foreign country. The reader is respectful in explaining what he discovered and why it is included it in the feedback provided. And this is the perfect segue into the next point.

And then, sit on recommendations, comments and/or feedback for at least two days before sending to the writer. This allows the reader time to step away and then re-read the work product. The reader can then assess her reactions if it were her work being read and commented on: Does anything raise negativity? Is anything too harsh? Are comments clear and to the point? How would I feel reading these comments about my work?

The beta reader and writer relationship is different from almost any other writing relationship and where it comes in the process of a writing project and how it performs depends on what the writer wants from the beta reader and what the reader is capable of offering. As in any working relationship, this is negotiable between the parties.

What I have offered today is based on my own opinions and beta reading process seeded in what I would expect from a beta reader if it were my book being read and what I want to give to writers who seek me out as a beta reader.

Inherent in the relationship between beta reader and the author are seen the reasons every good writer needs to engage one or more beta readers.

Let’s close this post with a couple of quotes on beta readers:

Basically, the more eyes the book goes through before publication, the fewer issues you will have later; and hopefully, the better the reviews are.” ~ Joanna Penn, Writer, Speaker and Blogger

“Beta readers provide us differing viewpoints and show us flaws in our own work that we were incapable of seeing ourselves.” Chuck Sambuchino, Writer and Editor

(Quotes from WOW! Women on Writing)

If you have had any experiences using beta readers, how has it worked for you and your beta reader? Did you offer a list? Did you receive what you expected, or perhaps not? Anything you can share will help those reading this post.