6 Books Added to General Writing Resources List

Winter has been too kind to the populous of the Pacific NW, and the season overlooked us in favor of other parts of the country. But in place of unkind and unending blistering cold, freezing precipitation, snow depths unbelievable to most of us, the lack of same at our end of the country allowed germs to blossom, multiply, and infect.
My husband and I must have passed someone stricken with respiratory issues with the instinct that “paying it forward” meant anything and everything. If we could find the kind soul, we’d gladly pay back the germs shared. However, we’ve had some good reading time as we rested, drank lots of liquids, and healed.

According to Stephen King, we must read to write so I gladly read these past couple of weeks. Today I want to share some stellar books specifically written for writers. Excellent tools to have at hand or at least in your library. Here are thumbnail sketches of them:

Everybody Writes by Ann Handley is an easy to read guidebook on writing and publishing good content. Not only is it suited to writers and bloggers, anyone who writes and/or markets in today’s fast-paced Internet markets will find Ann Handley’s advice well-tested and palatable.

Helen Sedwick’s Self-Publisher’s Legal Handbook provides a step-by-step guide to the ins and outs of self-publishing. The legal issues inherent in any business undertaking are presented in lay terms for ease of understanding and use. Helen Sedwick is not only an author but also an attorney with 30 years experience.

Writing Blue Highways by William Least Heat-Moon shares the story of the journey involved in writing Blue Highways. Heat-Moon wrote of a 14,000 mile, 38-state trip he made, and now he shares the four-years spent writing Blue Highways. He shares not only his success along the way, but also the rejections and other stumbling blocks writers face. Numerous drafts, unending revisions, balancing personal life and the writing life, and much more bring to light what every writer must understand–“the tricky balance of intuitive creation and self-discipline required for any artistic endeavor.”

Hamlet’s Blackberry: Building a Good Life in the Digital Age by William Powers is part memoir and part intellectual journey. Powers is a brilliant writer drawing on not only the constant question faced by today’s digitized person, “Where’s the rest of my life?,” but also dropping back quietly to past technologies and the likes of Shakespeare and Thoreau. At times, I found myself laughing out loud and/or giggling at how ridiculous we’ve allowed the digital world to become. Remember when we were told computers would save us time? I still need to learn how that works. Enter Powers’ book.

Recently, I had the pleasure and opportunity to hear Gigi Rosenberg speak to a writers’ group here in Portland. My husband just happened to win a copy of Rosenberg’s latest book, The Artist’s Guide to Grant Writing. Rosenberg has written a transformational guidebook to take starving artists of any art form to a driven researcher of grants, fellowships, residencies, and yes, grant writing. The money is out there, waiting to be spent on the creative arts, if we only ask. Finding it is key, and Rosenberg’s book holds the key to unlock the treasure.

As an adolescent, teen, and young adult, I was always late to the party, and so I am in reading Lee Gutkind’s book, You Can’t Make This Stuff Up. Lee Gutkind, also editor of Creative Nonfiction, has been called the “godfather of creative nonfiction.” His book breaks the genre of creative nonfiction down into an understandable, easy to grasp slice of writing education. I don’t know why I waited so long to read this handy tool, but I’ve not been able to let it out of my sight since finishing. It’s worth every penny I paid for it!

I have added these six books to my list of resources found under the menu tab, “Resources | General Writing Resources.”

 

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Memoir Writers Resources Series | Write Within Yourself: An Author’s Companion by William Kenower

This post continues a series begun over a year ago, which has an infinite number of parts. Therefore, there is no “Part 1 of a #;” it will simply continue until the well dries up. The lag time since the last post resulted from personal issues which were unavoidable. A list of all posts in the series to date are found here.


Have you ever wished for a book about writing that isn’t a how-to guide? One that is something like a good friend or companion? This is exactly what William Kenower has written in his collection of essays on writing, Write Within Yourself: An Author’s Companion.

Despite inclusion in my memoir writers resources series, this collection is directed at and designed for any writer, any genre.

Sometime during the last year I heard Bill Kenower speak to the membership of Willamette Writers in Portland. Kenower had driven from Seattle to Portland for our 7pm meeting, and he made us all comfortable from the start by sharing his parking experience in downtown Portland as masses left work. Immediately he had won us over. 

As editor-in-chief of Author magazine, Kenower knows a lot about writing. He writes a daily blog focused on the intersection of writing and life. He also interacts with writers in preparation for frequent interviews and/or panel discussions on his pod casts and videos. Writing is something he is passionate about and his enthusiasm for the subject is contagious.

That passion and enthusiasm is clear in the essays included in Write Within Yourself. Some of my favorite, must remember passages are:

A great book is a work of love–not craft, not intelligence, not discipline, but love. And that love expresses itself in this question asked and answered over and over again: What do I most want to say?

* * *

The more I wrote, the more I understood that anything–a rainy day, a shower, a bad night’s sleep–led to what had always interested me most, the intersection of creativity and everyday life.

* * *

When you spend a workday out of the flow of your story, you must choose kindness and compassion–that is the only way back into the flow of the story. You have written before; you will write again. … You will feel relief when it goes well and despair when it doesn’t. Love and compassion are your only tools when the day’s work brings you nothing. Writers, in this way, must learn above all others to love their enemy, because a writer’s only enemy is himself.

I hope you will at least visit Bill Kenower’s site and Author magazine (link available at his site). I find his writing a great comfort whether or not all is going well with my writing. I firmly believe you would too.

About William Kenower:

William Kenower is the author of Write Within Yourself: An Author’s Companion, and is the Editor-in-Chief of Author magazine, an online magazine for writers and dedicated readers. He writes a popular daily blog for the magazine about the intersection of writing and our daily lives, and has interviewed hundreds of writers of every genre. 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.

Tips for Juggling Multiple Writing Projects

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel the need to switch off working on my memoir project. Currently, I am completing a second draft of my memoir.

However, despite nearing the end, there are times when I feel like I’ve lost my focus or have grown tired of this project.

Many writers and writing instructors assert that one should work on only one book or project at a time.

Henry Miller asserted such wisdom around 1932-1933:

1. Work on one thing at a time until finished. [Boring!] …

10. Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing. [Also a bit boring!]

But what about that guest post for your writing partner, or the contest you want to enter, or a short story you want to write?

As you can see, I’m not a committed fan of single projects. My Type A personality lends itself more to challenging myself with more than one thing going at a time.

How to balance, or juggle, multiple writing projects? Below are a few simple tips to help:

1. Make notes, copious notes to self! I may have a random thought or idea run through my mind while writing. I quickly reach for paper and pen, and I write it down! There isn’t any chance I’ll remember by the time I complete what I’m doing at that moment. I keep a small notebook with me for just this purpose.

Via Google Images
Via Google Images

2. Talk to another writer or good friend! If I have ideas for future projects or another ongoing one, I’ll talk it out with my husband (he’s my best friend and a great listener) or someone else to sort out the good stuff to keep and toss the bad out right away. Doing so keeps me from thinking about things I don’t need to think about now.

Via Jamie Raintree
Via Jamie Raintree

3. Set a daily word goal. I have a daily word goal, but not based on just one project. If I can write a total of 750-1000 words each day, combining all the writing I do that day, while also juggling my other hats of wife, co-owner of a small business, webmaster for that business, homemaker, committee member, and social media for my writing purposes, I feel I’ve been successful. Here’s an image of a spreadsheet (above) designed by Jamie Raintree, writer and Excel genius (free to download at Jamie’s site under her “For Writers tab).

Via Images Buddy
Via Images Buddy

4. Tell others when I’m writing and in DND mode. We have an open door policy at our house, and closed door one as well. When the door to my writing space is closed, it translates to DND (do not disturb). Otherwise, come on in! Everyone (my husband) but the cat (only one pet) honors my DND mode. The cat tries scratching or pushing against the door.

5. Before beginning a new project, map it out. I am not always a planner; I’m more of a pantser. Except when working on bigger projects, like a book. Then I sit down and using either Scrivener, my go-to writing software, or Mind Maple, my mind-mapping software, I create the equivalent of an outline, a very rough outline, so that I capture all my thoughts about the new project at the beginning. Of course, not everything comes to you at the beginning but time spent preparing some sort of plan is helpful. The image above is the mind map for my memoir resulting from writing a second draft.

Mark Hunter via Flickr
Mark Hunter via Flickr

6. Some days don’t go as planned, so here’s what to do. If I’m having a day where I feel I’ve lost my focus on everything in front of me or within reach, and the caffeine isn’t kicking in but the inner critic is, and the cat won’t go away, and nothing, nothing at all seems right, I stop everything and point myself in the direction of which project needs my attention most at the moment. Then I set everything else aside, including the cat and the inner critic, and mentally shift my focus to that project. But I have to clear my head and my desk in order to bring that project into clear focus. With practice, this will come more easily.

Not all creatives enjoy working on multiple tasks simultaneously, and there is no fault in this. It is the way our brains are wired. My husband can’t understand how I can watch NFL football games and knit or read at the same time. He can’t do that. His focus has to be on one thing and one thing only. We each have to adopt our own plan of writing and getting our projects completed.

My hope is that, if nothing else, you found one thing helpful here today.

Just for fun here’s a short poll you can take if you like about multiple projects: 

Question: Do you work on multiple projects or just one? If multiples, how do you handle juggling them? Share your process. I’d love to read about it.

August 14th Is the Day!

Starting August 14th, I begin distributing bi-weekly my first-ever newsletter related to this blog. The purpose of today’s post is to remind you to sign up, if you haven’t already, using the link in the image below or in the right-hand sidebar.

This post also includes a small peek into what you can expect with each issue of my newsletter.

First, I’ll be providing tips and advice learned in the past seven years of drafting my own essays and memoir as well as writing advice provided by others well versed in the craft of writing.

Additionally, trending news tips related to the business of publishing and marketing your book may also be found.

teacher-clip-art-2 Miz Grammar
teacher-clip-art-2 Miz Grammar

And finally, allow me to introduce you to my newsletter partner, Miz Grammar. She will be assisting with making sure each issue includes a grammar tip or rule or two or three. I want to warn you Miz Grammar is strict with respect to using proper grammar so you want to stay on her good side.

In the near future, I will be offering to all my subscribers, free of charge, an e-book on the healing benefits of writing. So, don’t miss an issue if you want to know when that is available.

Miz Grammar and I look forward to seeing you on August 14th for our inaugural issue!

Something New Is Coming!

Via Google Images
For months, I have contemplated starting a bi-weekly newsletter. There are several newsletters I receive via email, and I enjoy each one for its uniqueness and informational worth.

Over the last couple of days, I convinced myself that if I never try, I will never know what the experience of being a newspaper woman is like. My father began his career in publishing as a newspaper man. Perhaps that’s where the itch originated.

Starting in August, I will email a newsletter of writing news and tips on a bi-weekly basis on Thursdays to my mailing list. The first edition will come out on Thursday, August 14th.

If you would like to be on my mailing list, click on the image below, or on the same image in my right sidebar, and you’ll be taken to a signup form. I promise never to share your email address with anyone else, and at any time you have the option to unsubscribe.

Newsletter sign widget 2I hope you will take a chance on my experiment in newsletter journalism, and come along on this journey with me.

My goal is to offer only newsworthy, helpful information on writing and topics related to writing and its final transformation into worthy reading material.

Remember, you might hear it first in my newsletter!

 

Encounters of the Best Kind

Via MorgueFile
Via MorgueFile

Not to minimize fantastic vacation trips and summers experienced in the past, but this summer’s experiences have amazed me! I cannot resist sharing the almost extraterrestrial sense of time and place present during this season.

For some time I have interacted with two writers and one editor online. In fact, I would go so far to say we forged cyber-friendships never knowing what lay beyond emails and comments.

Like the three windows shown here, we cannot see what is on the other side of the window panes. We can only imagine.

Likewise, we could see a computer screen and send messages to one another. Beyond screens and words, we knew very little about each other. We had no way of knowing the authentic person on the other side of the screen.

Summer 2014 has changed all that, and it has been a rewarding and special time.

First off, in June, I met writing friend and mentor, Sharon Lippincott, in real time in Lake Oswego, a suburb of Portland, OR. We shared a couple of hours and coffee at St. Honore Bakery as we talked writing and memoir, husbands, health, travel, technology, and yes, children and grandchildren! Sharon and her husband, Parvin, were in town to attend their granddaughter’s high school graduation.

Sharon blogs at The Heart and Craft of Life Writing, a reservoir of excellent information for those wanting to write life stories and/or/memoir. Sharon also is co-founder and host of Life Writers Forum, an online gathering place for writers to meet others interested in life story writing and memoirs. Additionally, the forum is a base for exchanging writing tips and other writing-related information.

Sharon has written several books, which are available via Amazon.

Next up was a real encounter with Candace Johnson of Change It Up Editing. Candace has a vast background in working with traditional publishers, self-publishers, and independent book packagers. She has assisted clients with nonfiction subject matter ranging from memoirs to alternative medical treatments and self-help as well as reality based novels and more traditional fiction genres.

A few weeks ago I telephoned Candace to talk over the possibility of contracting for editorial services when the time arrives. While on the phone, she reminded me that she and her partner spend some part of the summer in Portland. We agreed to meet up for lunch or coffee during that time, and we did!

Last Thursday Candace and I met at The Dragonfly Coffee Shop at 1:30 and finally decided at 4pm we had solved as many of the world’s problems as we had time for that day. We had also run the gamut of conversation expected between an editor and a writer. Along the way, we also managed to talk about the places we have lived, jobs we have worked, books we’ve read or are reading, our children, the men in our lives, our favorite spots in Portland, and more.

If these two materializations were not enough, this past Sunday my husband and I attended our first worship service in a Mennonite Church. You might ask why, and I will tell you it’s fairly plain and simple.

A third online acquaintance, writer and mentor Shirley Hershey Showalter was preaching at Portland Mennonite Church that morning. Shirley had invited us to attend providing not only the opportunity to hear Shirley’s message but also for us to meet face-to-face. And we did!

You may or may not know that Shirley and her husband, Stuart, are currently traveling the west coast south to north on Amtrak’s Coast Starlight. Their trip is shown on Shirley’s events page as “The BooktourAnniversary Palooza Amtrak 30-Day Pass on Coastal Starlight and Empire Builder Trains.” Their travels are so described as this year marks Shirley and Stuart’s 45th wedding anniversary and along the way they make stops for Shirley to speak or preach or read from her recent memoir, Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets a Glittering World.

Meeting Shirley and Stuart was a high point of our Sunday. An extra blessing was the palpable warmth and love of the members of Portland Mennonite Church, an experience I would not have wanted to miss.

I could have flown around the world or taken a 30-day cruise, and neither would have been as gratifying having the opportunity to meet these three cyber-friends, up until now, within a four-week period.

And to Sharon, Candace and Shirley, thank you for taking time from busy schedules to meet up with me face-to-face, real-time, for encounters of the BEST kind!

When you are travelling, do you ever think about folks you’ve connected with online and the possibility of meeting them face-to-face? I highly recommend it!