Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Guest post: Writing Rituals of Acclaimed Authors

As we enter cold and flu season, take to your bed if you feel ill, but don't stop writing.

Did you know T.S. Eliot practically welcomed a cold? He found that writing while so afflicted greatly helped him concoct unique, gruff voices either for different characters or in the creation of harsher scenes.

That's less harmful than Honore De Balzac's writing motivation: "To keep writing, he drank from 50 to 300 cups of coffee per day. Balzac infamously died of health problems related to caffeine poisoning... Turkish and Parisian blends particularly piqued his fancy, providing him with enough fuel to keep him writing throughout the evening and on into the night."

 Perhaps Philip Roth's methods [and I note he is still living] are a better model to follow:
"Philip Roth — much like Vladimir Nabokov — prefers this physical calibration when writing. In addition to this healthy habit, he also pushes himself to walk half a mile for every page he completes. Despite age starting to plague his body, Roth continues this ritual to benefit both body and mind. As with Haruki Murakami, he believes that clarity and creativity come when all facets of a person operate in peak condition.

Toni Morrison rose before dawn to write her way into the day, and Gertrude Stein used her car as her personal space to invoke creativity for writing poetry.

These whimsical author writing rituals, and over a dozen more come to us courtesy of a colleague, who wishes to remain unlinked.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Susan Orlean on publishing today

Susan Orlean, one of my favorite authors, has a "Free Range" blog at The New Yorker. It includes a great post about finishing a book that she worked on for six years. She details the process of publishing a book and how it has changed. Read the full delightful post at her blog.

She cleverly describes the old way:
1. Think of a book topic.
2. Find a publisher who likes the idea.
3. Write the book.... and so on.

And the new way, which begins with:
1. Think of a book topic.
2. See if the domain name for your title is available. If not, consider changing the topic.
3. Does the book title/topic morph easily into a Twitter hashtag? If not, consider changing the topic.
4. Set up the Facebook page for the book and a fan page for yourself as Joe Blow, Author; send out an e-mail blast to your entire contact list asking people to “like” your fan and book pages.
Sound familiar?  It's the PLATFORM discussion I've been having with you for a year now. Only Susan Orlean is much funnier than I am. Enjoy,

Helen Gallagher

Friday, January 14, 2011

Self-pub Children's Books go Mainstream

Two genres, fiction and children's books, are difficult to sell without national exposure. So self-published authors usually aim low and are satisfied with a reasonably well produced book and low sales.

Publisher's Weekly has an interesting story here about two women who each expanded their success by moving to mainstream publishers.  

Be inspired...


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

It's 2011: Do You Know Where YOUR Platform Is?

Writers need visibility online, and in every workshop I give, the subject of platform surfaces. I draw charts, give examples, explain the foundation, yet most writers and authors make a minor, confused effort, groping around in social media without results.

While the state of online media is relatively stable now, use this time to jump in or update your existing presence online. The outreach you can do with the internet costs very little, and is a tremendous benefit in building your platform. In return for greater visibility, your job is to find five or ten sites to set up a profile, keep track of your log-in and passwords, and return frequently to be part of the community.

Here are a few good resources to get you started:

  1. authorcentral.amazon.com
  2. facebook
  3. linkedin.in writing groups
  4. mediabistro.com and avantguild (fee)
  5. redroom.com
  6. shewrites.com

and most important:  YOUR BLOG or WEBSITE..

Publisher's Weekly related article.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Wish I'd said that...

Thought you would enjoy this. Sorry I don't know the source of this quote:


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Release Your Writing blog status

It's official. This Release Your Writing blog, started in 2007 has now surpassed my Computer Clarity tech blog, started in 2004... way back before you even knew what a blog was.

Now, this Release Your Writing blog is 314 hits away from reaching 10,000. The person who takes it over that mark gets a free copy of my newest book: Blog Power & Social Media Handbook. 

Happy Clicking and here's to a thriving 2011 for you.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Guest post: 15 Funniest Writers of All Time: Part 2 of 2

Here is Part 2 of ...

The 15 Funniest Writers of All Time:

9. Terry Pratchett: What Douglas Adams did to (and for) science-fiction, Terry Pratchett did for fantasy. The highly immersive, engaging and absolutely hysterical Discworld series turns all the familiar elements of the genre upside-down, inside-out and probably some directions that have yet to be invented. Running amongst the eponymous land (which rests upon the back of four elephants, who in turn balance themselves upon a giant tortoise) with some of literature’s most memorable and absurd characters.

10. Amy Sedaris: Stephen Colbert and Paul Dinello, both of whom could have easily forged a spot for themselves on this list, teamed up with this amazingly funny lady for the after school special send-up Strangers with Candy. They also collaborated on a novel, Wigfield, about a small, fictional town cowering in fear over the announcement that a nearby dam is scheduled for demolition. But her deliciously twisted literary career extends beyond that particular team effort. Sedaris once penned the hilarious "Sedaritives" advice column for The Believer, continuing the subversive, politically correct spirit of her television show. For crafty types looking to add a lot of cheek (and more than a bit of naughtiness) to their projects, I Like You and Simple Times make for required reads.

11. David Sedaris: His charming essays about dysfunctional family life and periods of self-doubt and self-delusion charm audiences who see a little bit of themselves in his work. David Sedaris specializes in wonderfully self-deprecating essay collections, with Naked and Me Talk Pretty One Day standing out as two of the more popular. NPR listeners catch him as a frequent This American Life guest, where he ruminates on many of the same subjects found in his books — expatriate life in Paris, homosexuality, drugs, odd jobs, family, mistakes and plenty more. Along with blisteringly brilliant sister Amy, they’ve written a few plays under the banner of "The Talent Family."

12. Jonathan Swift: When Ireland faced a nasty famine thanks to British meddling, Jonathan Swift’s suggestion poked the perpetrators by snidely suggesting his people nosh on babies for sustenance. "A Modest Proposal" stands as one of the finest examples of English-language satire ever published — a must-read for anyone searching for a few yuks that transcend time periods. The sprawling epic Gulliver’s Travels also continuously attracts fans in the modern age, painting English society in an escalating series of absurd, thoroughly delightful adventures. Though published in 1726 and altered in 1735, many of the classic’s themes and razor-sharp observations on human behaviors resonate loud and clear even today.

13. Mark Twain: Samuel Langhorne Clemens — better known by his pen name — possessed a legendary wit that served him quite well in his writing career. His short stories and novels especially exhibit his flair for equal parts whimsy and wryness. Most literary aficionados consider "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" his first notable publication and an essential example of Twain’s heavily celebrated humor. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, an undeniable classic of American literature, blends comedic elements with action, absurdity and a relatable depiction and celebration of youthful imagination. However, his talents extended far beyond his more playful prose. Many also forget that Twain could fire off acidic, sarcastic barbs of comedy gold just as well as he could more lighthearted fare.

14. Sarah Vowell: Like David Sedaris, Sarah Vowell’s appeal comes from her wry, intellectual recounting of life’s little weirdisms. Everything from visiting famous presidential assassination sites to her obsession with The Godfather yields plenty of amusing anecdotes. An unapologetic history buff, readers fascinated with learning about some of the stranger corners to be found in the country will certainly find Vowell’s short stories and essays both delightful and informative. But, as with Sedaris as well, her most poignant works revolve around her family, most especially the interesting relationship with her father. The pair stand diametrically opposed when it comes to religious and political topics, and tales culled from the Take the Cannoli collection wring humor and pathos from the strain. Some may nod their heads and chuckle accordingly as she comes to terms with her American identity in the funny, highly provocative The Partly Cloudy Patriot as well.

15. Kurt Vonnegut: Even the most ardent detractor of the science-fiction genre can likely appreciate this author’s famously sharp observations about pretty much everything. Considered one of the most influential English-language writers in existence, enduring classics such as Player Piano, Breakfast of Champions, Slaughterhouse-Five and Cat’s Cradle boil over with pitch-black satires of religion, politics, society and plenty more. He dissects preconceived notions, ideas and practices about the world and challenges readers’ assumptions about the nature of all that surrounds them. And all throughout his impressive oeuvre, Vonnegut infused the narrative with a humanistic spirit that undercuts some of the overarching darkness.

Part 1 is here. http://releaseyourwriting.blogspot.com/2010/12/guest-post-15-funniest-writers-of-all.html

Grateful for this guest post.courtesy from Jasmine Hall of onlineclasses.org for this two-part guest post.