About Writers, inspiration, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op

The Gift of Writing

Guest Blogger
Brandon Richards

Recently, I was reminded that the ability to write well is a gift to be used and nurtured as if it were a seed. This reminder sent my thoughts into a time machine of sorts and I reminisced on my greatest pleasures and accomplishments as a child. They include memories such as: reading every book I could get my hands on like the dictionary, books on Latin (the unspoken language) novels, articles, etc. I scored perfect marks on English standardized tests, wrote papers at the last minute with ease (even if it wasn’t my best work, it was still the best that my teachers and professors had seen.) I was reading on a college level in middle school and excelled in every AP English course. The list could go on and on. Since you are reading this, I am certain that you have had a very similar experience.

For the majority of my life I did not consider writing to be a gift. I just assumed that everyone could write well. After all, most people were taught (insert your native language) in school. There were already millions of blogs, books, and articles in circulation. As far as I was concerned, anyone could write, so how could this be a gift? That’s when the providence of thought kicked in. I realized that my initial conclusion was absolutely correct. Everyone “can” write, but most cannot write well. Therein lies the gift! Anyone can play basketball, solve a math problem, drive a car, or sing a tune. Can they do it well though? Are they gifted?

Food for thought: If the pen is mightier than the sword, then how mighty must the keyboard be?

Writing is both an art and a science. As a writer, we are taking intangible thoughts and translating them into something that can be understood by others (potentially millions/billions). This is powerful beyond measure!

There is almost no area in our society that writing doesn’t play a pivotal role. It is the words of a writer that a President reads when giving some of histories most powerful speeches. Books like The Art of War, Republic, I’Ching, The Wealth of Nations, Communist Manifesto, The Bible, Etc. would not be possible without gifted writers. Television, Movies, and Music are all the finished products of writers. Gifted writers can move millions of people to love or hate, start war or pursue peace, build or destroy. This gift is more than a gift. It is a responsibility. Writers create, influence, and dictate history. We are the gatekeepers of the soul, the translators of the unseen.

Use this gift. Nurture your talent. AND WRITE LIKE HELL.
Go change the world.

“If not us then who? If not now, then when?”
– JFK

Advertisements
Standard
Uncategorized, Welcome, world-building, Writers Co-op, writing technique

Epistemology for Writers

 

I know, epistemology is the arcane study of knowledge. Epistemologists theorize how we know the difference between what is a justified belief and what is just opinion. And, I realize it originated way back before we mutually decided (against all reason) that everyone’s belief and opinion is equally valid. It is an old way of looking at what we know.

But, fiction writers have to know that, don’t we? Don’t we have to make our readers’ believe our story? People have been studying knowledge for so long that there are now many types of epistemology, but, luckily for us, three types suffice. To be believable, no element of our story can be obviously wrong, the story can’t contradict itself, and all the elements have to fit into the story -they have to “work.” Understanding these three basics makes our job easier.

Foundationalism: or, recognizing that all knowledge is based on accepted facts. Don’t write, “He leveled his semi-automatic rifle and held the trigger back until the clip was empty.” You’ll lose ex-soldiers, gun owners and anyone else who knows that you have to pull the trigger every time you fire a semi-auto.
Pro: Foundationalism is extremely precise. It draws a clear line between what is knowledge and what isn’t. As long as the facts are true and the logic is sound, we can be 100% sure of our reader’s acceptance.
Con: You have to be sure of your facts! If just one is false, then your reader may doubt more of the story.

Coherentism: Avoid contradictions. Don’t have your character “enter a triangular storage area” and then proceed to describe the contents of four corners. Actions are true so long as they are not self-contradictory.
Pro: Coherentism is flexible. It isn’t based on facts. It is the consistent logic of your creativity.
Con: Mere coherentism can fool you into too quickly believing your own “facts.” For example, you can write that unicorns are real and they live on Mars. This is not a self-contradiction. But it is a ridiculous claim unless other story elements strongly support it.

Pragmatism: If it works, it’s true. If your story elements work well for the purpose of your story, the reader will likely accept them. Otherwise, “Nope, that doesn’t make sense.”
Pro: Pragmatism avoids the problems of both foundationalism and coherentism. Pragmatists realize that human beings have limits and that our knowledge is always changing.
Con: It is hard to define “what works.” For example, the Greeks had many incorrect ideas about how the universe works, which we have since disproven. But the ideas were believed at the time, so they worked for then, but now, they are wrong. That’s pragmatism.

All of which is to justify saying that for your story to be believable, you have to know your facts, avoid contradictions and understand your readers’ beliefs.

Source: http://philosophyterms.com/epistemology/

Personally, I find Calvin’s approach appealing:

epist1

Standard
About Writers, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op

Sharing some thoughts and experiences about the Authors Guild

By Victor Acquista

Liz BNo,  it isn’t: “a medieval association of craftsmen or merchants, often having considerable power” (although, that would be pretty cool), but it is: “an association of people for mutual aid or the pursuit of a common goal”.

I mentioned the Authors Guild in a previous comment and GD suggested I provide some information. I never really thought too much about it, but there is something medieval sounding about joining and being part of a guild. I assure you, the AG is very up to date on what is going on in the world of writing and publishing and can be a very solid resource to support writers professionally. This will primarily be a cut and paste post with information from their website: https://www.authorsguild.org/

Our mission is to support working writers. We advocate for the rights of writers by supporting free speech, fair contracts, and copyright. We create community and we fight for a living wage.

WHO WE ARE

The Authors Guild is the nation’s oldest and largest professional organization for writers. Since its beginnings over a century ago, we have served as the collective voice of American authors.

Our members include novelists, historians, journalists, and poets—traditionally and independently published—as well as literary agents and representatives of writers’ estates.

The Guild advocates for authors on issues of copyright, fair contracts, free speech and tax fairness, and has initiated lawsuits in defense of authors’ rights, where necessary. We represent authors on the Hill, in state legislatures, and in government agencies. And we work to establish fair royalty rates for both e-books and print books.

Our members have access to a broad range of legal and web services. The Guild’s legal staff reviews members’ book and freelance contracts and intervenes in publishing disputes. We provide liability insurance at group rates, a Back-in-Print program, and a free subscription to our quarterly Bulletin, as well as host and help develop members’ websites. Our new, re-designed website includes a more robust member directory (searchable by numerous categories), an events calendar, daily and weekly news updates, digital archives of the Bulletin and recorded seminars. We also hold in-person and phone-in seminars and symposia on issues critical to the writing life, and more informal gatherings throughout the country.

Information about membership can be found here: https://www.authorsguild.org/join/

Here are some of the salient details:

WHO CAN JOIN?

  • Traditionally published authors
  • Self-published authors
  • Poets
  • Translators
  • Ghostwriters
  • Illustrators
  • Freelance writers
  • Writers who’ve received a contract offer
  • Writers working on a manuscript
  • College & Grad Students
  • Literary Agents
  • Editors
  • Attorneys
  • Estates/Heirs

Regular Membership: Traditionally published authors with at least 1 published book in the U.S.; self-published authors who have made at least $5,000 in the past 18 months from their writing; and freelance writers who have published 3+ pieces or made $5,000 in the past 18 months.

Associate Membership: Writers who have received a contract offer from a traditional U.S. publisher or an offer of representation from a U.S. literary agent; self-published authors or freelance writers who have made at least $500 in the past 18 months from their writing.

There are other membership categories including for students and emerging writers. Standard dues are $125 annually.

I have personally met the Executive Director, Mary Rasenberger, when she hosted a meeting for Guild members in the Santa Fe, New Mexico area. She traveled to selected places throughout the country to talk about the Guild, some of the current issues facing authors, what’s happening with lobbying efforts to advocate for authors, boost membership, and a host of other issues. I found the presentation to be excellent and it provided a wonderful opportunity to meet other authors and hear about their experiences and concerns.

I have participated in writing groups, attended conferences and workshops, and generally been involved with a number of professional activities related to writing. As an organization, I feel as though the Guild is working on my behalf to advocate for authors and to be a resource. This type of involvement is quite different from the other professional activities that I just mentioned. I found my publicist through the Guild’s resource network and felt confidant that the Guild would not recommend a shoddy company. I have used the Guild’s legal services on two different occasions. I worked with the Guild in notifying them about a problem with Kindle royalties not posting correctly after I learned from Amazon that the problem involved multiple authors. Although Amazon did correct the royalty issue, I know the AG got involved. I have also used their resource library a number of times.

I could probably go on, but if you aren’t interested enough to poke around their website to learn more from what I’ve shared thus far, the Authors Guild probably is not your cup of tea. As you can tell, I think they are a fine organization. Final comment—I always include the fact that I am a member of the AG in my query letters. I don’t know if it helps or not, but in my mind it conveys something positive.

 

 

Standard
Legal, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op

The Author’s Lawyer

Lawyers, like doctors, are best avoided in their professional capacity but sometimes, even purveyors of the immortal word benefit from specific legal advice. If you think you might need it,  remember that the initial consultation is usually free of any cost or commitment on your part.

Do I Really Need a Literary Attorney?
Yes, I would say, anytime the potential rewards are high, you may want someone on your side who understands how best to protect your interests. Here’s Arielle Ford’s brief explanation in the Huffington Post:
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/arielle-ford/do-i-really-need-a-litera_b_927120.html

5 Top Legal Issues for Authors and Self-Publishers.
legalSara Hawkins points out some reasons why today’s authors do seek legal advice, including the current buggery-boo of “What if it’s your work that’s taken?”
https://www.thebookdesigner.com/2013/03/5-top-legal-issues/

FAQs: Working With A Literary Lawyer.
OKAY, just what is a literary lawyer? This short article by Laura Resnick covers “what, why & how do I find one.” Something to be aware of, just in case, someday, you want to Google it.
http://www.lauraresnick.com/writers-resources/faqs-working-with-a-literary-lawyer/

YaY!
Think positive. You just landed a movie contract for your book! Now, you do want an attorney, a literary attorney, someone who has the expertise and experience to protect you and to help you to get the most from this lifetime deal. How do you find one? Why, at Lawyers.com, of course.
https://www.lawyers.com/

A little knowledge about literary attorneys is worth filing away. Tuck it right next to the possibility that one day, your writing will be worth more than any attorney costs 🙂

Standard
editing, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op

A Word About Editing

By Curtis Bausse

Not my own work, other people’s. I could write reams about my own – the various drafts, the juggling with voice, the search for the right rhythm in each sentence. But that would be like telling you my dreams – only a matter of time before you’re asleep yourself. So this is about how I edit other people’s.

You may be wondering what gives me the right in any case. Well, more than a right it’s a duty, an obligation. I have two anthologies on the go, Second Taste, the third (and final) Book a Break anthology, and (with the invaluable help of Atthys Gage and GD Deckard) The Rabbit Hole, the first volume (of what we hope will be a long and successful series) of weird stories produced by The Writers’ Co-op. As all writers know, a text can only benefit from the critical regard of a reader intent on helping it reach its full potential. To launch an anthology without editing the submissions would be remiss at the least. Closer, in fact, to irresponsible.

I’m not a professional editor, but I do have some credentials in the world of academia, where I peer-reviewed submissions to a number of journals in Applied Linguistics and Cognitive Psychology. I also submitted articles to similar journals myself. It’s not something I recommend if your ego is fragile. The articles are regularly savaged like a ferret set upon by a Staffordshire bull terrier. That’s when they’re accepted. Otherwise it’s a summary ‘Thanks, but no thanks.’

I eventually got used to it. But I took away a couple of lessons for use when reviewing myself. The first, more obvious one was to be meticulous, hunt down the slightest weakness of logic, unsupported argument or methodological flaw. The second was to be respectful, less bull terrier than Labrador. (I’m not an expert on the cognitive psychology of dogs, but I see Labradors as firm and rigorous, yet positive and constructive.)

Clearly, a research paper is not the same as a short story. But when I edit, I try to bring those two qualities to the task. Regarding the first, every editor has their own prism, a particular way they like to see things expressed. It’s a fine line between respecting a writer’s voice (which is essential) and accepting an awkward wording or a clumsiness. My own fixation is concision, by which I mean the elimination of any unnecessary word. When I read my own writing I ask myself if every word in the sentence contributes something to the overall effect or purpose. Redundancies get deleted without mercy.

So when they received my comments, a number of contributors to the anthologies may have thought, ‘Wow, this guy’s a nutter!’ My apologies if that’s the case. But faithful to my second principle of constructiveness, I always strive to keep in view what the writer is trying to achieve, and make suggestions to that end. Perhaps I’ve been lucky to deal with writers who are understanding and courteous, but so far the replies I’ve received have been almost all appreciative.

There may on occasion be tension between the two principles of rigour and respect. What happens if the story needs a radical overhaul? You might think that in that case it wouldn’t be accepted, but often I see potential in a storyline which could be brought out if the writing was stronger. On those occasions I won’t hesitate to send back a text that I have in places rewritten, with a comment explaining why. The writer can of course refuse the alterations, but again, the replies I get have so far always been positive.

At the end of the day, it’s like many other types of negotiation: sensitivity, subjectivity, attitudes and egos are involved. When writers defend their position with cogent arguments, it means they’ve thought about what they’re doing and come up with what they see as the best way of doing it. In that case I’ll generally defer, even if my own point of view is different. In fiction, voice and intention count for more than in scientific research, meaning there’s more room for flexibility. In both cases, though, editor and writer have a common purpose: the publication of a piece that’s as good as it can get. Which is why, on the whole, agreement is easily reached.

Perhaps, if anything, I err on the side of respect. Certainly that was the case when I started out. To overcome that, I have a simple expedient: when firmness is called for, I think of Raymond Carver and Gordon Lish, whose fruitful but fractious relationship led to the publication of stories widely hailed as among the best ever written.

Carver’s initial ending of One More Thing:

L.D. put the shaving bag under his arm again and once more picked up the suitcase. “I just want to say one more thing, Maxine. Listen to me. Remember this,” he said. “I love you. I love you no matter what happens. I love you too, Bea. I love you both.” He stood there at the door and felt his lips begin to tingle as he looked at them for what, he believed, might be the last time. “Good-bye,” he said.

“You call this love, L.D.?” Maxine said. She let go of Bea’s hand. She made a fist. Then she shook her head and jammed her hands into her coat pockets. She stared at him and then dropped her eyes to something on the floor near his shoes.

It came to him with a shock that he would remember this night and her like this. He was terrified to think that in the years ahead she might come to resemble a woman he couldn’t place, a mute figure in a long coat, standing in the middle of a lighted room with lowered eyes.

“Maxine!” he cried. “Maxine!”

“Is this what love is, L.D.?” she said, fixing her eyes on him. Her eyes were terrible and deep, and he held them as long as he could.

Lish’s ending:

L.D. put the shaving bag under his arm and picked up the suitcase.

He said, “I just want to say one more thing.”

But then he could not think what it could possibly be.

It takes a brave editor to do that. I think I have a long way to go.

Standard
About Writers, book promotion, book sales, publishing, Research, self-publishing, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op

WRITING TRENDS

INDIE AUTHORS
Indie authors will continue to grow ebook share. Traditional publishers will continue to price their ebooks above market and will focus on print and audio sales in 2018. They will also continue to focus on their go-to franchises and signing authors who have a built-in audience (celebrities, politicians, successful indies). Indies will continue to fill the void by publishing high-quality, affordable ebooks and writing to niche audiences (something blockbusters cannot do as they require mass appeal). Bestselling romance author, Rachel Van Dyken says, “2018 is bound to be a year for books and a year for readers! Trends come and go but one thing I see coming back in a huge way is sci-fi and fantasy romance. Contemporary will always do well but I think readers are starting to get overwhelmed with the same old rom com with the similar fonts, colors, and titles. I say bring on the other genres—a great palette cleanser for 2018.” As authors like Rachel continue to stay ahead of the curve by innovating on content and design, and become ever more sophisticated at book publishing, readers will continue to shift ebook market share to indies. [Ricci, Written Word Media]
https://www.writtenwordmedia.com/2018/01/08/publishing-trends-indie-publishing/

SOCIAL MEDIA Relevancy
Social media has become the main source of information for everyone. It is logical that people tend to filter content relevant to them in these platforms and ignore junks. Current authors should learn how to utilize social media smartly to leverage the power of these media. For example, setting up a high profile where their target audience is many to capture majority while they interact with the platforms. For instance, if you are doing public relation for a company, you need to build trust and address customers’ concerns to avoid being flagged as a scam in Facebook, Linkedin and Google Plus among others.
https://www.topteny.com/top-trends-for-writing-in-2018/

SHORTER BOOKS
While longer books will never go away, shorter, focused content or short stories will pave the way for big new sales numbers in 2018. So what’s the average length of a short book or novella? Twenty-seven thousand words (give or take) or fifty pages. Book strategists insist that the reason these books take off is because, in the case of fiction, readers sometimes just like that quick story, with an uncomplicated plot and a quick reward at the end. In the case of non-fiction it’s generally very focused content.
https://www.amarketingexpert.com/18-exciting-book-marketing-predictions-for-2018/

Standard