Tag Archives: writers

Plugging along, and quotes for readers and writers

I should have been twins. 

If I were twins I could divide between myself all the things I want less to do so that it takes half the time to do them. Then all I want to do and have the most interest and desire for can be enjoyed … giving me a better chance to feel accomplished in completing things – or getting better at them.

Or maybe not.

If I were twins I would most likely take on twice as much, get hopelessly overwhelmed with no recovery possible, and continue to not have enough of me to go around.

So, I am plugging along. Not getting nearly as much accomplished as I want to. Being way too tired too much of the time. And behind as usual. Almost hopelessly behind with little chance of catching up. That’s me, plugging along.

The good news is, I found some quotes to share with you today.

For the writers:

I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that later i can build castles. – shannon hale

I like that quote. 🙂 

Now this one for readers:

ordinary people have big tvs. extraordinary people have big libraries. – Robin Sharma

I think I would have a fairly decent-sized library if I could shelve all of my books in one room. I’m aiming for a big library. One day I hope to be that organized. 🙂

And a final one for today:

Dinosaurs didn’t read. Now they’re extinct.

Keep reading, folks! 🙂

Anything you want to say about anything today?  What book(s) are you reading – or writing – now?  🙂

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

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Are you a night owl or an early bird?

Have you ever wondered about the writing habits of famous writers? Here are some interesting facts I found about when they preferred to do their writing. 

 

NIGHT WRITERS:  

night-owl

 

 

 

 

  • Friedrich Schiller (1759-1805) – German poet, philosopher, physician, historian, playwright
  • Tom Wolfe (1931 – ) – American journalist, author
  • Robert Frost (1874-1963) – American poet
  • Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-1881) – Russian novelist, short story writer, essayist, journalist, philosopher
  • J. D. Salinger (1919-2010) – American writer known for his novel The Catcher in the Rye
  • Franz Kafka (1883-1924) – German-language writer of novels, short stories; widely regarded as a major figure of 20th-century literature
  • William Faulkner (1897-1962) – American writer of novels, short stories, a play, poetry, essays, screenplays
  • Rachel Carson (1907-1964) – American marine biologist and conservationist whose book Silent Spring and other writings are credited with advancing the global environmental movement.
  • Marcel Proust (1871-1922) – French novelist, critic, essayist
  • John O’Hara (1905-1970) – American writer of short stories; a best-selling novelist before the age of thirty
  • Mary Louise Booth (1831-1889) – American editor (including Harper’s Bazaar), translator, writer
  • James Baldwin (1924-1987) – American novelist, essayist, poet, playwright, social critic
  • Alan Ginsberg (1926-1997) – American poet; a leading figure of both the Beat Generation of the 1950s and the following counterculture
  • Pablo Neruda (1904-1973 ) – Chilean poet-diplomat and politician; 1971 winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature
  • James Joyce (1882-1941) – Irish novelist, short story writer, poet; one of the most influential and important authors of the 20th century
  • T. S. Eliot (1888-1965) – British essayist, publisher, playwright, literary and social critic
  • Honore de Balzac (1799-1850) – French novelist and playwright
  • Danielle Steel (1947 – ) – American novelist currently the best selling author alive and the fourth best selling fiction author of all time
  • Carol Ann Duffy (1955 – ) – Scottish poet and playwright; Britain’s Poet Laureate in May 2009
  • Richard Brautigan (1935-1984) – American novelist, poet, short story writer

old-typewriter

 

 

 

MORNING WRITERS:

 

At 4:00 A.M.
  •  Sylvia Plath (1932-1963) – American poet, novelist, and short story writer

At 5:00 A.M.

  • Jack London (1876-1916) – American novelist, journalist, social activist; a pioneer in commercial magazine fiction; one of the first to obtain fame and fortune from fiction alone, including science fiction
  • Katherine Ann Porter (1890-1980) – Pulitzer Prize-winning American journalist, essayist, short story writer, novelist, political activist
  • Toni Morrison (1931 – ) – American novelist, editor, Pulitzer and Nobel prize winner

At 5:30 A.M.

  • Anthony Trollope (1815-1882) – English novelist of the Victorian era
  • Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007) – American writer of novels, short story collections, plays, works of non-fiction
At 6:00 A.M.
  • W. H. Audsen (1907-1973) – English poet; later became an American citizen
  • Graham Greene (1904-1991) – English novelist regarded by some as one of the great writers of the 20th century
  • Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961) – American novelist, short story writer, and journalist
  • Victor Hugo (1802-1885) – French poet, novelist, dramatist of the Romantic movement; one of the greatest and best-known French writers
  • Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977) – Russian-American novelist and entomologist. First nine novels were in Russian; achieved international prominence after he began writing English prose
  • Edith Wharton (1862-1937) – Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist, short story writer, designer; nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1927, 1928 and 1930.

At 7:00 A.M.

  • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1794-1832) – statesman and German writer of a wide variety of genres

At 8:00 A.M.

  • Flannery O’Connor (1925-1964) – American writer and essayist; an important voice in American literature, she wrote novels, short stories, reviews, commentaries.
  • Wallace Stegner (1909-1993) – American novelist, short story writer, environmentalist, historian; 1972 Pulitzer Prize winner; 1972 U.S. National Book Award winner

At 9:00 A.M.

  • C. S. Lewis (1898-1963) – British novelist, poet, academic, essayist, medievalist, literary critic, lay theologian, broadcaster, lecturer, Christian apologist; author of the Narnia Chronicles
  • Thomas Mann (1875-1955) – German novelist, short story writer, social critic, philanthropist, essayist; 1929 Nobel Prize in Literature laureate
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1927-2014) – Colombian novelist, short-story writer, screenwriter, journalist
  • Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) – Russian writer Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy (in English Leo Tolstoy); regarded as one of the greatest authors of all time
  • Gore Vidal (1925-2012) – American writer and a public intellectual with a polished style of writing
  • Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) – an English writer; one of the foremost modernists of the twentieth century
  • Ray Bradbury (1920-2012) – an American fantasy, science fiction, horror and mystery fiction author and screenwriter

At 9:30 A.M.

  • Carson McCullers (1917-1967) – American novelist, short story writer, playwright, essayist, poet

At 10:00 A.M.

  • Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) – British playwright, novelist,  short story writer; among the most popular writers of his era

 

It amazes me how much one can accomplish at the earliest times in the morning. I wouldn’t be able to function during the rest of the day!

Now my question to you is … are you a writer who prefers a certain time to write or a reader who has a preferred reading time? Or maybe you have a best time for exercise or meditation? What time works best for you, and why?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

NaNoWriMo speaks out! “Stories know no borders”

My dear friends,
I deliberately avoid political discussion here, and anywhere online. Today I have to share something that I believe is really important. 
I am not a US citizen; I am happy to be a Canadian, although, of late, it’s beginning to look as if our nation also could be entering the arena of political stupidity. It’s disheartening to witness the fear, anxiety and grief of my US friends who are greatly affected by the turn of events of their 2016 election. In the writing world there is opportunity to make things better, one word, one page, one book at a time. So to those who are worried, I say WRITE ON! Be positive, be hopeful, take the high road and DO NOT allow yourself to be pulled into the mire. Avoid hate. Be sure your words are the best they can be because somebody needs you, and that somebody could be someone you will never meet in person but who will read your words and be encouraged.
Yesterday I received an email from the National Novel Writing Month desk. I’m sharing it with you because, as I said at the start, I believe it is really important. This letter came, addressed to Polilla-Lynn – my NaNoWriMo name , because I participated in NaNoWriMo in 2010 (and won!) and in 2011-2013 (adding to my novel of 2010).
Read it and be encouraged, my friends.   Love to you, Lynn

 

What we stand for, what we stand against.

Writing together

Dear Polilla-Lynn,

As a creative writing nonprofit, we’re not a political organization. We don’t endorse candidates or support any particular party. In an ideal world, we would focus only on empowering people to write.

Yet we find ourselves in a time where people’s ability to tell their stories—and even to safely exist—is at stake.

NaNoWriMo strives to be a gateway and sanctuary for people’s voices. Our guiding belief is that every person’s story matters, and we celebrate the inclusion of all religions, races, genders, sexualities, and countries of origin. We help people find a safe space to be who they are—creators, storytellers, and world changers.

Because of this core organizational value, we join the many voices standing against the presidential executive order that bans refugees and people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.

For over 15 years, we’ve had the privilege of writing alongside a community from over 200 countries, including Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. We don’t build walls. We strive to dissolve borders through stories, the vital human narratives that expand our worlds.

 

So while we are not a political organization, we feel moved to take action.

In response to the executive order, as well as any future government efforts that threaten people’s basic freedoms, we will:

  • Celebrate creativity over apathy, diversity over fear, and productivity over despair.
     
  • Welcome all stories and continue to make NaNoWriMo a safe space for all writers.
     
  • Advocate for the transformative power of storytelling to connect people and build a better world.
 

If you have concrete ideas for how we can work toward these goals (or if you have feedback about anything in this message), please share your thoughts.

Thank you for being part of NaNoWriMo. We are all individuals of different beliefs and backgrounds, but we come together through a shared passion. We pledge to remember that, and to look to our community as a model and inspiration, as we get to the work ahead.

With gratitude and optimism,

Grant Faulkner
Executive Director

 

Future Actions

We are also concerned about upcoming issues that may affect people’s self-expression, like the President’s desire to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The NEA is a crucial source of support for many nonprofit writing organizations, and has provided funding for NaNoWriMo in the past. The NEH has awarded $515 million to libraries, many of which provide local writing spaces through our Come Write In program.

If these cuts are proposed, National Novel Writing Month will respond and advocate.

Your thoughts? You have two places to share this time if you wish, here and on their form. 

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂  YOU CAN DO IT!

Sue Harrison’s “Writing the Third Dimension”, part 35: Fare Thee Well

Welcome back for the final installment of Sue Harrison’s writers’ workshop: Writing The Third Dimension. We invite you to return here anytime to read and learn from the fabulous thirty-five segments from January 2013-December 2015.  (There was no post for WTTD in December 2013.) Simply click on the page title WRITING THE THIRD DIMENSION, found under Writers’ Quotes, Helps & Workshops on my drop-down menu. Please feel free to ask questions and leave comments for Sue. I’ll be sure to let her know when you do so she can reply. We both love hearing from you.

Now for the topic for month thirty-five:

*****

“Writing the Third Dimension” – part 35: Fare Thee Well

When I began writing these posts for Polilla Writes, I thought I would have enough material for about a year, maybe a year and a half. It turns out that I’m much more verbose than I ever dreamed! However, the time has come for me to conclude the “Writing The Third Dimension” series. What a joyous privilege has been mine to write these posts, get to know all of you, and to learn so much from all of you!

This is not good-bye. I’ll be back, commenting on the wonderful posts Lynn, “Polilla,” shares with us all, and from time to time, I’ll drop in with a post about books — mine and those of others.

In this, my closing segment, I thought perhaps you might like to read the second chapter of the novel I’ve been writing during the time I was also writing for Polilla Writes. Sharing stories is one of the great joys of my life. So here’s another story, at least the beginning of a story. I hope you enjoy it!

[Note from Lynn: Please note, the shared segment is COPYRIGHTED, no copying by any method allowed. Thank you.]

IMG_2172

BONE FIRE, A Novel of Ancient Europe

*******

Chapter Two

Awna the Woman

The-Month-of-Dying-Sun

(November)

5814 B.C.

 

The earth was frozen less than a hand-length down, so Awna needed only half a morning to chop away the soil and the tree roots to carve out the old man’s grave.

Under the oak trees that spread their autumn-broken leaves against the sky, she used the wide, flat blade of her digging stone to pry up pads of moss. Webbed with the night’s meager snowfall, the moss carried the heavy scent of rich, wet earth, a smell the old man had loved, so Awna layered it as a bed at the bottom of his grave. The size of an eight-winter child, that old man, smaller even than Awna, but she was strong from the years she had spent as his slave, carrying his packs. She easily pulled his body to the hole, her fingers cupped gently over his brittle bones. She lowered him in, feet first, and, when he was lying in the grave, she crouched on the edge as if she might slide down and claim space for herself.

“So Rolf, finally I am free. You could have waited until spring. It would have been easier.”

At least he had died quickly, his hands suddenly fisted against his chest, his teeth clenched, his breath pulsing out in one long hiss. She should not have told him. What was there about that crooked old man that so easily coaxed out the truth even when it was best forgotten?

Sunlight, shredded by the canopy of oaks, cast splintered shadows over Rolf’s pile of trade goods. Perhaps all those things were hers now, being who she was. Perhaps they were not, considering what she had done.

She did not care much about the shell necklaces, the birdbone needles, the small flint darts, the arrowheads, not even the oval bracelets cut in one piece from pearled edges of sea-clam shells. The bags of dried and pounded pot clay? She could dig up more.

Most of all, she wanted his thick fox-pelt blanket. Once, in the summer, when some bird spit a fever into Awna’s head, Rolf had wrapped her in that blanket, and the cool, soft fur chased out her blighted dreams, lured her back into the real and living world.

So what could she take and what should she bury? Would the old man come back to curse her if she did not give him enough?  He needed gifts for his ancestors.

Of course, she would not bury the hand-sized flakes of salt sewn into their deerskin packets. If she buried the salt, the earth would leech it away from Rolf’s grave. Perhaps then it would poison the guarding oaks. Why put herself into the middle of that fierce battle?

Always, always, though, that salt had been dearer to him than Awna could ever be, except during the one moment which had killed him.

She gave first what was easiest to give, the flute Rolf had made from the hollow wing bone of a vulture. Rolf had drilled five finger holes into the vulture bone and given it a strange fishlike mouth – pike, not carp — that somehow caught his breath and turned it into the low trembling melodies that only Rolf knew how to make.

She lay flat on her belly at one side of the grave and leaned down, slid that flute into his clutched hands. Some contrary part of her spirit wished for one more night song, firelight dancing. That wish made her eyes burn, so she stood and shook herself loose of the memories. Then she untied her grass cloak, swung it away from her shoulders. She had cut the grass for the cloak and dried it, then stitched it length over length until it hung long enough to reach her ankles. It shed water far better than fox fur ever could. She dropped the cloak into the grave, watched it settle in stiff folds over his beautiful fine-boned face, over his thin crooked legs and large clever hands.

“For you, Rolf, a trade.”

Awna held his fox-pelt blanket close to her mouth, blew into the fur to make it hers. Then, except for the salt, she divided all things between them, gave him half the blades, half the dried meat, half the smoked fish, half the beads and bracelets, half the pot clay, even half of her furred suslik skins, although she herself had caught those tricky ground squirrels, and she herself scraped away the flesh, stretched the small pelts on greenstick hoops, and knuckled soft fat into each flensed side.

When Rolf’s share lay with him in the grave, Awna pushed the forest’s thick, dark dirt over top until the hole was full. She layered leaf mold over the dirt then searched out what stones she could find, those rocks carried high into the forest by the Mother River, one year or another, as that river bucked herself free of winter ice. Awna piled the rocks over the grave so no digging animal could get to the old man.

She brushed the soil from her deerskin tunic and from her leggings. She licked the dirt’s dark stain from the palms of her hands. Would the old man follow her, his spirit given breath by longing? She had buried him so far from his home, traveling as they had been on their last trade journey before winter. Surely he would be restless, even under the comfort of the oaks. She cupped her hands over her belly. Would he try to take her baby now living there?

As small as the cap of an acorn, that baby, as the stem of a cap.

Perhaps Léleks would try to steal it, since she had lost the old man’s protection. Those deadly Léleks, twisted spirits, offspring of lost curses.

The wind sent its edged breath deep into her lungs, making her cough. Winter. Too close.

Always, since her mother sold her, Awna had only followed. How does a follower learn to walk her own path?

She leaned close to the grave, spoke loudly so Rolf could hear her through the stone and earth. “So what should we do, this baby and me? We cannot live outside in winter. Would you let me return to your house and use it as my own?”

A long journey that would be, but better than spending winter’s hard, cold days alone in an oak forest.

As if Rolf had traveled back to answer her, underbrush snapped and voices came from just beyond the stand of oaks. Awna crouched low and small, raked her fingers through her hair until the dark curls fell forward to cover her face. Her breath squeezed in so shallow that her acorn-baby lifted a thin cry of protest from her belly. But as she peeked through her hair, she saw those noisy ones walk into the oak clearing and realized they were just ordinary men.

Dark of hair and eyes they were, as are all people. Two carried a dead boar, hung by its legs from a sapling they balanced on their shoulders, an old boar, blood dripping black from age-stained tusks. The third man, although muscled thick in his arms and shoulders, carried nothing but throwing-spears, cradling them as if he were a woman holding a baby.

The three men stopped and stared at Awna, and the one holding the spears opened his mouth, ready to speak, but said nothing. His hair and beard had grown into a tumble of ringlets; his eyes were large and his ears. He shifted his gaze to the packs jumbled in a heap against the nearest oak. Then he pointed at the grave and asked, “A child?”

Awna pushed her hair back from her face and stood up. “No. He was old.” Why tell them more than that?

The spear-carrier turned and spoke to the others, and he spoke with such a wide swinging rhythm that Awna’s ears were not quick enough to catch all his words. Dried blood marked the men’s faces as if they had used it for paint, and their wide belts bristled with flint-blade knives.

So what was best, she asked herself, to pretend she had people waiting for her? Or should she try to find a place with these three men?

She did not want them to think the old man’s packs were theirs to take, so she walked to the pile and slung the largest on her back. The smaller ones she tied to her belt, and she hung the packets of salt from her shoulders. Slow she was, doing all this, but the men stood and watched. She tied the fox-pelt blanket around her waist. When she had taken all there was to take, she stared down at Rolf’s grave, wondering if she would hear his high, thin voice scolding her for greed, but he said nothing.

Awna pulled in a breath and was sure she could smell the moss of his sunken bed. So how terrible would it be if she and her acorn-baby were killed and left in this good place? They would be safe from winter. Everyone knew the dead did not feel the cold.

She pulled a small chert blade from her belt and cut a few stitches at the top edge of a greased packet, lifted it so the men could see the hand-size flake of salt inside. Then she waited for them to kill her, salt being more precious than any woman’s life could ever be.

The one who carried the spears stepped close and pinched the edge of the salt. He licked his fingers and looked at the other two men, shifting foot to foot under the weight of the dead boar. The salt-taster laughed, a low troubled sound, as if suddenly he had something to worry about.

“Where are you going?” he asked Awna, his words slow enough that she understood.

She pointed east and then south.

He said: “My village is close.”

Of course, their village was close. Men did not carry a dead boar, dripping blood, any great distance. Wolves, dogs, soft-pawed mountain lions would catch the scent. In near-winter, those animals would be glad for the meat, even of an old bitter-flesh boar.

“My village is not close,” she said, trying to match the rhythm of his words. She was a fool to admit she had no protection near, but her back ached and her arms, and she had blistered her hands digging that grave. Inside, she felt so empty that she wondered if her soul had stayed down there with Rolf. Why not give the salt-taster greater reason to kill her? Better to have the pain over soon than waste more time listening to his high-singing words.

Awna breathed in one last smell of moss and earth and oak. She would be a part of it whether these three buried her or simply left her body for whatever animal found it first.  Be strong, she told her acorn-baby, and she tilted back her head, so the man could see the long vein at the side of her neck. “Quickly,” she told him.

He set the butts of the spears on the ground, braced them in the crook of his left arm. He ran his thumb down the length of her pulsing vein, and Awna pulled her thoughts into that warm, dark world where her acorn-baby lived.

The man caught a handful of her hair and tugged gently until she lifted her head to look into his eyes. His voice was little more than a whisper when he said, “My name is Cob. I need a wife.”

copyright, 2015, Sue Harrison

*******

 So this is not Good-Bye, only Fare Thee Well, and Thank You

More than Words can ever Say.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Hanukkah!

Strength to your pen!

Sue

*Writing the Third Dimension, copyright, 2010 Sue Harrison*

Sue HarrisonBestselling author, Sue Harrison, has written two bestselling Alaska trilogies: The Ivory Carver Trilogy and The Storyteller Trilogy – all of which went digital in May 2013. She also wrote a middle readers’ book SISU. Prior to the publication of her novels, Harrison was employed at Lake Superior State University as a writer and acting director of the Public Relations Department and as an adjunct instructor in creative writing and advanced creative writing. For more information, click here. To inquire about booking Sue for workshops or speaking engagements this year, click here.

Thanks for joining us! Please feel free to leave your questions and comments. Sue has generously shared her knowledge and expertise with us for free all these months. This has been a tremendous gift, one for which I am very grateful. If you want to let Sue know what this has meant to you, if her teaching has benefited you in any way, I’m sure she would be thrilled to hear about it.

Thank you, Sue, so very much. I look forward to receiving posts from you when you have something to share with us. 

 

 

Sue Harrison’s “Writing the Third Dimension”, part 34: A Fairy Tale for Writers

Welcome back! For the rest of this year we invite you to return here, specifically on the fourth Thursday of each month for the newest installment of Sue Harrison’s teaching: Writing The Third Dimension. You can read and learn from all the fabulous segments from 2013-2015 by clicking on the page title WRITING THE THIRD DIMENSION, found under Writers’ Helps & Workshops on my drop-down menu. Please feel free to ask questions and leave comments for Sue. Now for the topic for month thirty-four:

*****

“Writing the Third Dimension” – part 34: A Fairy Tale for Writers

Once upon a time in a deep dark woods, lived a girl named Write-arella. More than anything in the world, Write-arella wanted to write novels, but publishers told her that her books were too long, or they were too short. They were too silly, or they were too serious. And by the way, why was every book set in a deep dark woods?

File:CinderAdelphi.jpg

Finally after writing and writing and writing some more, Write-arella finished a book that publishers liked, and they published it. Then Write-arella and her handsome prince lived happily ever, eating chocolate-covered strawberries and going on book tours.

The End

Yeah right. The truth is…

The deep dark woods are real. The book tours are real, and sometimes even the chocolate-covered strawberries are real. Write-arella did marry a prince of a guy, but he told her that if she really wanted success as an author, she couldn’t just sit around eating chocolate-covered strawberries and watching football games. (Actually, the Prince was the one who watched the football games.)

The prince said Write-arella needed to do more than write a book and get it published. She had to work for her success.

So after Write-arella’s book was published, she begged libraries, churches, and schools for speaking opportunities. She asked friends and family members to set up book signings in their local bookstores. She judged chili contests, hawked books at boat shows, and attended blueberry festivals. She spoke at writers’ conferences.  She gave commencement addresses at high schools and colleges.  She dropped in for reading week at local elementary schools.

The Prince decided they should also travel all over the country and visit every little bookstore they could find.  At each store, they introduced themselves, talked to the manager, signed stock, chatted with customers, and then went on to the next town and the next bookstore.

After they arrived back home at the castle, Write-arella mailed notes to the bookstores they’d visited and added them to her Christmas card list.

She and the Prince bought copies of her books from her publishers, and they sold them at craft fairs and community gatherings and at local gas stations and restaurants and curio stores. She started her own blog and her own Facebook page. She met a wonderful writer who allowed Write-arella to post how-to columns on the writer’s blog, Polilla Writes.

And every day — or almost every day — Write-arella wrote.

The moral of the story? A writer’s work is not finished just because the book is. If you self-publish or if you sign a contract with a publisher, you need to be ready to celebrate – not only with chocolate-covered strawberries, but also with a lot of hard (and fun!) work.

What out-of-the-box ideas do you use (or plan to use) to sell your books?  What out-of-the-box ideas have enticed you to buy a book?

Strength to your Pen!

Sue

*Writing the Third Dimension, copyright, 2010 Sue Harrison*

Sue HarrisonBestselling author, Sue Harrison, has written two bestselling Alaska trilogies: The Ivory Carver Trilogy and The Storyteller Trilogy – all of which went digital in May 2013. She also wrote a middle readers’ book SISU. Prior to the publication of her novels, Harrison was employed at Lake Superior State University as a writer and acting director of the Public Relations Department and as an adjunct instructor in creative writing and advanced creative writing. For more information, click here. To inquire about booking Sue for workshops or speaking engagements this year, click here.

Thanks for joining us! Please feel free to leave your questions and comments. We invite you to come back December 24, 2015, for part 35, which is the FINAL installment of this fabulous series.

 

Sue Harrison’s “Writing the Third Dimension”, part 31: What’s a Literary Agent?

Welcome back! For the rest of this year we invite you to return here, specifically on the fourth Thursday of each month for the newest installment of Sue Harrison’s teaching: Writing The Third Dimension. You can read and learn from all the fabulous segments from 2013-2015 by clicking on the page title WRITING THE THIRD DIMENSION, found under Writers’ Helps & Workshops on my drop-down menu. Please feel free to ask questions and leave comments for Sue. Now for the topic for month thirty-one:

*****

“Writing the Third Dimension” – part 31: What’s a Literary Agent?

You’d be surprised how often I hear that question — from audiences at book presentations, from readers, from new writers, and even from a few long-time writers. So as we tackle the challenge of presenting a book to publishers, let’s start with a post about literary agents. I’ll present this information in a question-and-answer format to make the post more user-friendly.

Q: What does a literary agent do?

A: A literary agent presents his/her clients’ work to companies that might be interested in publishing that work.

Q: Can’t I do that myself?

A: Many small publishers and university presses do accept manuscripts submitted directly from the author. Large commercial publishers do not. They know that literary agents take on only the manuscripts they believe they can sell, so in this way the agent acts as a first reader, weeding out books that are not marketable.

Q: What types of manuscripts do literary agents accept?

A: Most literary agents accept only full-length material. In other words, not poetry, not short stories, and usually not magazine articles.

 Q: How do I find a literary agent?

A: The Internet has become a valuable tool for writers who are seeking representation by a literary agent. Simply do a search for “literary agent” and you will find pages (and pages and pages) of agents. Go to their websites and read their requirements and preferences. Then list those who seem to be interested in the type of book you have written.

Q: How do I know the agencies I’ve selected are reputable?

A: One of the best resources out there for authors is a website called Preditors & Editors at http://pred-ed.com/peala.ht. On their home page, click on “Agents & Attorneys,” which will give you a comprehensive list of literary agents, including those who are legitimate and those who are not. The Preditors & Editors website also explains the “rules” of etiquette between agents and clients and potential clients. Just knowing those usually-unwritten rules can tilt the odds in your favor as you try to acquire a literary agent.

 Q: How are literary agents paid?

A: Literary agents take a percentage (usually 15%) of whatever money your work makes once they sell it. If your agent sells rights beyond direct publication — foreign rights, movie rights — they will probably  work with another agency that specializes in these areas. In that case, the usual rate is 10% to each agency, a total of 20%. Do NOT ever pay a literary agent to simply read your work. Most agencies that ask for money up front seldom sell anything. Why would they? They can earn a fine income from writers willing to pay $500 or more to have their work considered.

Q: How does the author get paid?

A: We’ll discuss advances and royalties in the next few months, but just to give you a general idea, most monies are paid directly to the agency. The agency then deducts their percentage and a small amount for expenses (for copies, mailing, long distance phone calls) and sends a check for the remaining funds to the author. Most agencies are very good about forwarding money due their authors within several weeks or less.

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Q: Besides sell my book, what else does an agent do for me?

A: I’ve had the privilege of working with three very fine U.S. literary agents (my home country), and each of them helped me in so many ways, including generating enthusiasm among potential acquiring editors; providing information about the publishing world; opening connections to professional writers, editors, and publicists; walking me through the legal complications of contract negotiation; vetting all contracts; and sometimes just providing a kind and encouraging comment in the face of rejection. I also have worked with numerous agents in other countries. They, too, have positively influenced my career. Their services include translating and negotiating contracts, providing information about income taxes in other countries, and sometimes even arranging publicity tours. Once you have an agent, you are part of a team. You’re not facing that large, sometimes vicious, world of publishing on your own, which can make all the difference between failure and success.

Q: How long did it take you to find your first literary agent?

A: Almost five years! Writing books is not a life for the easily discouraged.

Q: Why so long?

A: In those days, prior to the Internet, the querying process took much longer than it does now. Everything had to go through snail mail, and simultaneous submissions to various agencies were discouraged. (Now they are accepted as a part of the “game.”) However, there was a more important reason. My novel, Mother Earth Father Sky, wasn’t yet good enough for publication. Through the suggestions of agents who rejected my queries but were kind enough to explain why (That doesn’t happen often, but it does happen.), I was able to shape Mother Earth Father Sky into the novel that became an international bestseller.

Q: If I decide to self-publish, do I need a literary agent?

A: Not unless you begin to receive offers from other publishing entities: audio, movie, foreign, or large commercial publishers. If you are an experienced contract lawyer, you may not need an agent, but in general a good agent will get you a better contract than you can negotiate for yourself.

Q: If I want to procure an agent to represent my work, what do I do next?

A: It’s all about having a worthy manuscript — no multiple blatant typos, a manuscript formatted according to agency preferences, a strong voice, characters who pull a reader into the story — AND a very good query letter. Next month on Writing The Third Dimension, we’ll discuss query letters.

Do you have other questions about literary agents? I’ll do my best to answer them in the comment section.

Strength to your pen!

Sue

 *Writing the Third Dimension, copyright, 2010 Sue Harrison*

Sue HarrisonBestselling author, Sue Harrison, has written two bestselling Alaska trilogies: The Ivory Carver Trilogy and The Storyteller Trilogy – all of which went digital in May 2013. She also wrote a middle readers’ book SISU. Prior to the publication of her novels, Harrison was employed at Lake Superior State University as a writer and acting director of the Public Relations Department and as an adjunct instructor in creative writing and advanced creative writing. For more information, click here. To inquire about booking Sue for workshops or speaking engagements this year, click here.

Thanks for joining us! Please feel free to leave your questions and comments. We invite you to come back September 24, 2015, for part 32.

 

Sue Harrison’s “Writing the Third Dimension”, part 30: Ende, Fin, Mwisho, Loppu, Einde

Welcome back! For the rest of this year we invite you to return here, specifically on the fourth Thursday of each month for the newest installment of Sue Harrison’s teaching: Writing The Third Dimension. You can read and learn from all the fabulous segments from 2013-2015 by clicking on the page title WRITING THE THIRD DIMENSION, found under Writers’ Helps & Workshops on my drop-down menu. Please feel free to ask questions and leave comments for Sue. Now for the topic for month thirty:

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“Writing the Third Dimension” – part 30: Ende, Fin, Mwisho, Loppu, Einde

So here we are, last draft. If you’ve been counting, you know this is Draft  6, but, for me, it’s actually a conglomeration of Drafts 6 and 7. During Draft 6, I add in the corrections, suggestions, and changes from my Beta Readers, those precious folks who read the completed manuscript and give me their input. Draft 7 is my final read-through.

Draft 6: I compile the Beta Readers’ comments, chronologically from the first chapter to the end of the novel. Then I start at page one, making corrections and changes. Usually, I can complete three to five chapters a day. My chapters are about 2,000 words in length, and I have sixty to seventy (or more) chapters per novel. Draft 6 takes me from two to four weeks to complete.

Draft 7: I use a two-prong attack on each chapter. The first time through, I read the chapter aloud, just to be sure the rhythm is what I want and that the words flow. I read from my computer screen, and I make changes as I go. As I finish each chapter, I print out a hard copy. I try to work as quickly as possible through the book so I catch the gaps and glitches in the storyline. Once in a while, I have to stop and rewrite a few pages, but I do it on the spot and continue reading as soon as possible.

When I’ve finished this read-through, printing chapters as I go, I  have a hard copy of the entire manuscript, which I punch and place into a huge ring binder. Then I start again at the beginning with a ruler, a dictionary, and a red pen. This is a slow read, and I generally sit at our kitchen table, which gives me more room for my manuscript (and tea and snacks…).

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By this time in the draft process, I’ve nearly memorized the manuscript, so I have a tendency to read what I think is there rather than what really is there. Therefore, I place the ruler under each line to slow me down and keep my brain from skipping or adding words. I check for typos, spelling problems, and grammar. I also check page numbers, paragraph indents, and I watch for font discrepancies.  It’s a word by word, page by page review, and when I’m done — again this is at least a month of intensive work — I spend the next few days putting the corrections into the manuscript on my computer.

Then — finally — The End, Ende, Fin, Mwisho, Loppu, Einde!

My big, thick, imperfect novel has taken on a life of its own, apart from me, with characters who I hope will live in the hearts of my readers as they have lived in my heart. For that time before the submissions, the critiques, the reviews, the loud voices that praise and those that don’t, I am content with my creation.

Next month and through to the end of the year, we’ll talk about the business side of writing a novel: the agents, the editors, publishers, and your options as a writer. Do you have any questions or particular areas you would like me to address?

Strength to your Pen,

Sue

 *Writing the Third Dimension, copyright, 2010 Sue Harrison*

Sue HarrisonBestselling author, Sue Harrison, has written two bestselling Alaska trilogies: The Ivory Carver Trilogy and The Storyteller Trilogy – all of which went digital in May 2013. She also wrote a middle readers’ book SISU. Prior to the publication of her novels, Harrison was employed at Lake Superior State University as a writer and acting director of the Public Relations Department and as an adjunct instructor in creative writing and advanced creative writing. For more information, click here. To inquire about booking Sue for workshops or speaking engagements this year, click here.

Thanks for joining us! Please feel free to leave your questions and comments. We invite you to come back August 27, 2015, for part 31.