Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Writing { and reading and publishing } ~

Tag Archives: writing

Continuing the Blog Conversation About “What Should I Write?” . . .


 Prologue to this Post:

It’s Official… Our Blog Conversations are now on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays! Leaving the rest of the week for valuable re-blogs from other folks and, from time to time, extra special surprise posts :-)

The Muse O.K., on with the discussion…

Last Wednesday, we began, a Blog Conversation Concerning “What Should I Write?” . . .

You may want to check that post out first to ponder what was said about having a Muse

I will, however, bring over a few questions I asked that could be easily answered in many if not most cases by integrating a Muse into the WritingLife:

Is it conceivable to you that writers “should” write certain things?

That a particular sentence “should” follow that one you just wrote?

That a precise gem of a word “must” precede a particularly important other word…?

Those questions may seem to be situations where the writer’s rational mind needs to be applied in the revision phases; yet, if the function of the Muse is active, they may be surprisingly dealt with right in the first draft…

Now…

Here’s the rather surprising comment from last Wednesday that permitted this particular conversation to continue—surprising because it comes from a consummate writer:

“Sometimes a concept can be right under your nose and yet you do not fully appreciate it until you see it explained in more eloquent detail, which this post just did for me. I know about the ‘Muse’ that many writers or painters refer to—I confess I just took her (or him) for granted—a metaphor perhaps for the writer’s inspiration but suddenly when I read this: ‘Offloading your sense of responsibility for creative work onto another self is like flipping a switch. It instantly removes that pressure and lets you breathe again…’; and, a switch flipped for me internally. Why had I not used a Muse for this? Where was my Muse and why wasn’t she doing this for me? Perhaps because I’d locked her in a cupboard a long time ago to keep the room tidy? Please forgive me Muse. I have the key and I will let you out. And I’m very much looking forward to watching Elizabeth Gilbert talking about this concept :-)

Naturally, there are other methods for deciding “What Should I Write?”, whether that question applies to a complete work or the next scene in a story or the next word in a sentence: and, I do hope a few of you will bring up some of those methods in the comments

But, before we leave this part of our discussion, I’ll share just a bit more about the Muse; and, it comes from Stephen King :-)

“There is a muse, but he’s not going to come fluttering down into your writing room and scatter creative fairy-dust all over your typewriter or computer. He lives in the ground. He’s a basement kind of guy. You have to descend to his level, and once you get down there you have to furnish an apartment for him to live in. You have to do all the grunt labor, in other words, while the muse sits and smokes cigars and admires his bowling trophies and pretends to ignore you. Do you think it’s fair? I think it’s fair. He may not be much to look at, that muse-guy, and he may not be much of a conversationalist, but he’s got inspiration. It’s right that you should do all the work and burn all the mid-night oil, because the guy with the cigar and the little wings has got a bag of magic. There’s stuff in there that can change your life. Believe me, I know.”

O.K….

The ground rules for our conversations here are that at least one reader has to leave a comment (short though it may be ) so the conversation can continue; otherwise, I get to start a whole new discussion :-) { … and, you can always leave a comment about other conversations you’d like to have … }
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If you don’t see a way to comment, try the link at the upper right of this post…
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For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com
OR >>> Send Me a short Voice Message
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More Conversation About “Genre” . . .


Genre My new “mode” of blogging isn’t all that old, so I’m very grateful the last post had as many comments as it did—when taking baby steps, a few more than none are to be treasured…

Plus, I recommend reading that first post in this particular conversation—Blog Conversation About “Genre” Writing . . .

What I’ll do this time is bring each comment into this post and follow it with my own ideas and feelings…

First one:

“I think ‘genre’ is a term fostered in modern times by publishers who found it easier to market their books to readers by putting them into recognisable categories. This way the publishers can develop a marketing approach for a wide number of folks who are placed in one huge niche. But if an author has their own individual niche and if there are too many of these individual niches the publisher will have to promote each one of these separately in a more individual way…the publishers often imagine that readers want to be told which blanket ’niche’ a book fits into – not that the book is unique and different and exciting in a new and indescribable way, that sounds unmarketable, because they don’t know how to present it. But which book, as a reader, would you go for?”

This comment is most interesting to me since it comes from an author who’s been traditionally published. The idea of “genre” is so ingrained in the book world’s culture it seems like a “given”—perhaps like thinking cappuccino is a “given” in the order of nature…

One reason I recommended reading that first post in this conversation is because I’d shared the etymology of “genre”, which included this: “Used especially in French for ‘independent style.'”

If it’s truly independent, it could hardly be something that mobs of other people slavishly copy…

One important note: When you self-publish, you can afford to avoid cramming a unique work into predetermined “genres”.

Next, a long but engaging comment:

“Genre is definitely a funny thing.
I myself find that I prefer stories that, at first glance, feel very different from the world I live in.
Whether it’s fantasy, sci-fi, suspense/horror, or comedy/romance, I prefer stories that take me to far away places.
And yet, underneath those cosmetic differences, the characters struggle with the same issues, and often come to the same conclusions.
I think there’s a way in which genre is often what initially draws us to and keeps us reading or watching a story, but whether we are satisfied afterwards speaks to the underlying patterns that are common to all stories.
I’m of the opinion that any strong story could be adapted to any genre, if you understand that underlying pattern of character identities, primary conflicts, and universal meaning(s).
The classic, to me, is how many of Shakespeare’s plays have been adapted to countless frames; ranging from high school to outer space.

“I think a lot of it is in response to how many stories are out there, and audience’s need to quickly and easily narrow down the range of possibilities.
My unconscious wants to see two characters clash in a brilliant display of swordsmanship, while my conscious mind wants to find complex meaning in that simple sword fight.

“I’ve definitely heard some authors discuss how they have to choose whether they want to thoroughly play to the horror genre or the “slice of life” “everyday relationship” genre. There’s that way in which artists first have to win the trust of the fans with conventional storytelling, and then, once they have a name, they can, if they feel comfortable taking a risk, step out of their prior patterns and try something new.”

I’m glad they said genre is funny…

To consider that the “story” of a work isn’t part of its “genre” is brave thinking…

As far as the reason for genre existing so folks can “quickly and easily narrow down” what they intend to read… Perhaps this is a result of genre being instituted by traditional publishers, then readers becoming used to it, with it then changing the way they choose books—culture shaping people instead of people shaping culture…

Next:

“I always have to put ‘General’ for my novels as they contain romance, crime, elements of a thriller, humour, and read like mini-sagas. The nearest explanation I have had from reviewers is that they read like ‘soaps.’ What genre would you call that?”

I told that reader that I’d call it “YOU:-)

Finally:

“Best expression I’ve found for my first novel is mythopoetic. The adventurous story unfolds as an odyssey, containing universal conflicts every reader can relate to, but mythopoetic is not a recognized genre. I had to use ‘fantasy’ as the nearest fitting genre, though the story evolved from deep roots of the imagination. Fantasy and imagination are not the same thing. Ib’n Arabi pointed this out centuries ago.”

I told this author that they could consider using “N/A” for the genre; but, then, I’m sure they chose an existing “category” because of “marketing” considerations…

I believe that self-publishing will more than likely supplant traditional publishing as the most common way to deliver a book to readers; and, readers are way more intelligent and adept than traditional publishers seem to believe—way more able to think outside any boxes the Big 5 impose…

Sure, there are plenty of folks who obediently read whatever the Big Brother publishers tell them they should read; but, addictions can be cured; and, self-publishing is re-educating readers so that they can be their own gatekeepers—choose they own particular brand of reading, satisfy their unique needs, take charge of what they use to fire their imaginations…

Also, Independent publishers would be more nimble and able to adapt to self-publishing’s tendencies toward infinite genres…

If each person expresses their own unique “kind” of personality, why can’t each book do the same?

My favorite fiction author is successful in a genre-world; but, to me, her books are all brilliant independent works of literature…

And then, there’s my best friend’s first novel, shoved into “Detective and mystery stories” by her home country’s National Library; when, in my review of it, I found it to be, “…a quilt of meanings that evoke many levels of feeling—moving in space and time to mine yet more meaning… pulling one’s heart into the events, attracting the mind to fresh thoughts about sadly well-worn topics…”.

Perhaps a book can be “categorized” by what it does to the reader rather than what the publishers use as a “hook” to lure profit for their stuffy conglomerates…

Care to comment and move the conversation forward…?
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If you don’t see a way to comment, try at the upper right of the post :-)
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Visit The Story Bazaar
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Great Source for “Book Promotion” Ideas
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~ My Bio
Google Author Page

For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com
OR >>> Send Me a short Voice Message :-)

Our Blog Conversation Takes a Delightful Turn . . .


pop-up book

Image courtesy of Thuwirawat @ Wikimedia Commons

Since most of the visitors to this blog come from Google searches, I ask my regular readers to bear with me while I explain, briefly, to new readers that Mondays and Wednesdays are Conversation days (in about 10 weeks, Fridays will also be for the Conversations…).

And, on the other days of the week, I do informative re-blogs; or, sometimes, special-topic posts…

So…

On Monday we wrapped up our dialogue with the post, Extending the Conversation about Traditional vs Self Publishing, which has the links to the three previous posts in that discussion…

And, the way these conversations work is that folks can leave comments on a post and those comments are the bridge to the next post where I respond by extending the conversation…

Unless…

…the comments take us in a different direction :-)

So…

Here’s the image from that last post: traditional-vs-self-publishing

And, here’s the conversation that happened in the comments:

HA: I like your picture. I miss pop-up books. <3

AMZ: Well, now that you mention it, I do, too :-)

HA: It’s nice to have something lift off the page a bit. Pop-up books are so rare now with machines doing all the printing for books. Every August or September, I learn how to make pop-ups and make them for Christmas cards. I’m not too good at it yet but if you want, I can make one for you someday. :)

AMZ: Lovely offer — are you able to make a video of you making one?

HA: I’m a bit shy because I’m not very good at making pop-ups. If you want, I’ll try. :)

AMZ: Go ahead and try; then, we can decide if you want me to do a post about it :-)

HA: A Christmas card? I’ll keep this in mind. Will do it when I have the time and I’ll let you know then. :)

AMZ: Doesn’t have to be Christmas—actually, sooner is better—maybe a pop-up of an author at work; or, a pen and paper; or, a pop-up of a pop-up book… Something like that? :-)

HA: I’ll figure something out and let you know soon. :)

AMZ: Very Cool ! When you have it, send it to my email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com …

HA: I do have to let you know that this couple of weeks are going to be pretty busy ones but I’ll let you know as soon a I have it. :)

AMZ: Wonderful ! :-)

So…

Instead of:  Post > Comments > Post > Comments

We had:  Post >>> Conversation :-)

And, here’s a request for your comments about experiences with pop-up books—or, any type of books that are rarely created these days…

Plus, we can all look forward to HA’s video of the making of a pop-up………
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If you don’t see a way to comment (or, “reply”) after this post, try up there at the top right…
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Visit The Story Bazaar
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Best Source for “Book Promotion” Ideas
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
~ My Bio
Google Author Page
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

Dipping into the Archives . . .


I’m foregoing my usual re-blog today… Blog Links from 2011

Regular readers may remember me mentioning a friend of mine—prison librarian and microfiction author, Johnpaul Mahofski.

So, this rather incredible human being has just spent 4 weekend sessions, lasting at least 9 hours each, finding all the broken links (sites change their names, people disappear, etc…) in all my posts from 2011 (the first year of this blog’s life...)…

The last of those weekend sessions was him compiling all the links from those posts that he found valuable…

I’m going to list all those 2011 links in a minute; but, first, I need to let everyone know that this particular post is number 2,159—that’s an average of 25 posts a month for seven years…

Also, I need to point out the search bar in the upper right of each page of this blog—handy, to see if certain topics or names are here, somewhere in the depths of seven years of blogging…

And, down near the bottom of the left side-bar there are two widgets—Archives by Month & Year and Archives by Day of The Month.

Plus, if you first select a month and year in the first widget, the second widget will show all the days of that month…

One more way to dip into the archives here is not so far down in the left side-bar—Top Tags—gathering “similar” posts together—where larger words mean more posts…

Also, Johnpaul is committed to checking all the posts from the other six years and producing a list of valuable posts from those years (stay tuned…)…

I should remind you that Johnpaul is a librarian and, apparently, they just love tedious checking of things, as well as making lists :-)

Reminder: what follows is not a list of my posts from 2011—it’s a list of some of the links (from 2011) that I put in my posts, that a librarian/microfiction author liked, and gave his quite unique titles to………

I wonder if there are any broken links in this list… :-)

So, here is Johnpaul’s List of Valuable Links from 2011:

(Why you should give away your book)

(Book and writer recommendations from CJ Cherryh)

(The Seven Basic Plots in Fiction)

(Jung’s collective unconscious explained)

(A very thorough look at Jung’s collective unconscious)

(Concept of Archetypes at Carl Jung)

(Jung’s Archetypes discussed)

(Reflections on all things Psychology)

(Noam Chomsky linguist, social scientist, activist, author)

(Language and Etymology links)

(Online Etymology Dictionary)

(Literary Fiction Genres)

(Three interviews with novelist John Gardner)’

(Wikipedia entry for William S. Hatcher mathematician, philosopher, educator and member of the Bahá’í Faith)

(Wikipedia entry for Ralph Waldo Emerson, American essayist)

(Wikipedia entry for Allen Ginsberg, poet)

(Wikipedia entry for James Franco, actor and filmmaker)

(Wikipedia entry for Lawrence Ferlinghetti, poet and socialist activist)

(Wikipedia entry for Neil Stephenson Author)

(Wikipedia entry for A Grain of salt)

(Wikipedia entry for John Gardner, American novelist)

(Wikipedia entry for Novel)

(Wikipedia entry for Carl Jung’s idea of Personal Unconscious)

(Wikipedia entry for Jungian concept of Shadow, Id)

(This site’s intent is to foster the writing arts)

(Article on writing stand alone books with series potential)

(A solid blog for writers resources)

(Article on how Book Bloggers can increase an author’s sales)

(Article on whether to self publish or not)

(Article discusses what subsidy publishing means for authors)

(Blog offers practical advice for building better books)

(Mystery Genre Definitions)

(Flash Fiction defined and demonstrated)

(Common Word lists and word usage lists—a must have for writers)

(A word counter)

(Explanation of synchronicity in life, by a writer)

(Carl Jung’s theory of synchronicity is explained)

(Why words mean what they mean)

(The mission is to find as many words of English with as many people as possible)

(Poems, Poets, Prose, Collections and more)

(Obscenity defined, from a legal perspective)

(Article against social media experts)

(Full dictionary and thesaurus for American, British, Canadian, Australian, Indian, and global English)

(MFA’S effect on Literature—the good and bad)

(Sweat equity as a writing tool)

(Best bits of writing advice she’s received)

(Why a bad review isn’t always bad)

(How a writer can conduct their character development)

(Pirating ebooks—is it a bad thing…)

(Book production terminology explained)

(Article about what a writer’s goal is for their book)

(Self publishing is explained through the vast knowledge of an author)

(An inside look at a writer’s mantra)

(The quiet theory of influence)

(A series ponders if writing a book is done for money)

(Getting people to care about the products of your imagination)

(Gifted author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)

(Marketing made easier)

(Finding your loyal readers)

(Why someone should write is discussed)

(Discussion of how many readers one needs for sales success)

(Real news sources in difficult times)

(Alternatives to mainstream news sources)

(Reality of your social networks)

(Blog about the nature of writing)

(Finding some joy, even in darkness)

(The idea of what makes success)

(A literary theorist responds to “What is Fiction…?”)

(Word of mouth Sales)

(Windows zenware* writing application)

(Simple note-taking app)

(Blog on writing publishing and editing)

(Valuable links on writing)

(How a movement of ‘ordinary’ Liberian women changed history)

(The dangers of being a perfectionist)

(Humorous article on why bad books don’t ruin self-publishing)

(A blog with many tips for writers)

(Self publishing tips)

(Vintage article on Amazon’s publishing platform)

(Article on Amazon as the future of Publishing)

(Emily Dickinson resource)

(The most respected publication for the library community)

(A hard look at the pattern of borrowing and the digital shifts of Library patrons)

(A page created by an independent prose machine)

(The Quality and Professional responsibility of Self Published work is discussed)

(Article on Self-Publishing expectations)

(Writing, support, and useful links)

(She is much more than a hashtag)

(Life lessons turned into Self publishing tips)

(A blog focused on giving voice to those in need)

(An article on writing more words per day)

(Article on traditional publishing’s struggle with Ebook presentation)

(A writer’s experience with traditional publishing)

(The critical aspects of digital publishing)

(A start to finish for writers to create their book)

(The Author’s Guild site)

(Human rights and the implications of copyright)

(Legalities of censorship in America)

(Tips on how to write a novel)

(12 articles of 2011 that are must reads for writers)

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If you don’t see a way to comment (or, “reply”) after this post, try up there at the top right…
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Visit The Story Bazaar
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Best Source for “Book Promotion” Ideas
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
~ My Bio
Google Author Page
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

Continuing the Conversation ~ Shifting to Self-Publishing


Our Conversation post this past Monday has no comments so I’m continuing the focus on publishing but jumping over to Self-Publishing. Self-Publishing

Since, for now, our Conversation posts are on Mondays and Wednesdays (though, there are short stories on Fridays and re-blogs on the other days…), I’ll mention that there are quite a few days after this post for folks to, possibly, comment about what I’m about to say; or, possibly, ask for the Conversation to shift to a different topic (if you’re new here and want to suggest a topic, stay in the areas of Reading, Writing, and Publishing…).

So…

If you know anything from Nothing to Just-a-Bit about Self-Publishing, I really don’t think you could read a better 101 article than Jane Friedman‘s, Start Here: How to Self-Publish Your Book.

And, to try to jump-start a Conversation here, I’ll share some Myths about Traditional Publishing and my responses to those Myths. (this is from my past postStill Hoping to Get a Book Published by the “Big 5”?)

I’m using a contrast between Traditional Publishing’s problems and Self-Publishing’s solutions to help all the folks who want to see their book actually published without suffering the stings and arrows of outrageous dealings with Traditional Publishers…

The Myths are originally from Ken Lizotte, and his article (Very Worth Reading), The 4 Great Myths of Book Publishing.

Myth #1: My book publisher will aggressively promote my book to the widest possible readership

My article: #BookMarketing ~ Making Sense of #AuthorPromotion

Myth #2: A publisher will ensure my book gets on the shelves of all the nation’s bookstores

My article: Self-Published Books & Bookstores

Myth #3: My publisher will print my book’s text in exactly the way I conceive and arrange it

My article: The Publishing (And Editorial) History of Some Extremely Famous Fiction

Myth #4: My publisher will provide me with a sizable monetary advance, allowing me to take time off from my regular work so that I can focus exclusively on my book

My article: Another Good Reason to Avoid Traditional Publishing

Mr. Lizotte also says:

“One obvious remedy of course to all of these myths is to self-publish your book, which has in the past 20 years or so become a painless, even more satisfying process, especially in that the cost of self-publishing has plummeted dramatically [my note: it can cost next to nothing…]. (thanks chiefly to print-on-demand technology). Also, self-publishing allows you to be fully in control so that no frustrating publishing ‘partner’ can sway you from your original plans, including text, cover design and title. It’s all up to you!”

So…

Is there anything in this post that might be something you could comment about…?

Or, is there another topic within the Worlds of Reading, Writing, and Publishing that you’d like to mention in a comment…?
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If you don’t see a way to comment (or, “reply”) after this post, try up there at the top right…
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Visit The Story Bazaar
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Best Source for “Book Promotion” Ideas
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
~ My Bio
Google Author Page
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com