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Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Contrast in Literature in the News

Charles Dickens

I thought the following news reports this weekend about what's happening in the literary world were interesting.  Are they a sign of what our culture has become or simply an odd juxtaposition of contrasting news stories?

For example, one news report stated that while Charles Dickens might have written that he wanted no “monument, memorial, or testimonial whatsoever” to be erected in his name, the UK‘s first ever statue of the great author is nonetheless set to be created next year to mark the bicentenary of his birth. Do you think he'll be rolling over in his grave or slightly pleased?

Designed by sculptor Martin Jennings, known for his bronzes of John Betjeman in St Pancras and of Philip Larkin in Hull, the statue will be placed in Guildhall Square in Portsmouth, the town of Dickens’s birth.  

 Another report that I found amusing said that a group of Franciscan friars furious at the theft of bibles from their church in Florence several days ago have taken the unusual step of praying for the thief to be struck down by diarrhea. Friars at the 15th century church of San Salvatore al Monte, which was a favorite of Michelangelo, were irritated when a rare and expensive bible disappeared from the lectern, and they flew off the handle when a replacement bible donated by a worshipper also went missing and within a few hours.

And finally, the concise Oxford English Dictionary (OED) just released its newest updates, The Daily Mirror reported. They include the word made famous by Sasha Baron Cohen‘s “Borat“: Mankini, as well as jeggings (leggings that look like jeans) and sexting (sending sexual text messages).  Now would Charles Dickens being rolling over in his grave?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Writing With a Writer


One of the things I love about writing books is that I get to meet other authors. I especially love getting to know creative fiction authors who think outside of the box. Many of my non-fiction books have become best-sellers, but writing engaging fiction seems way too hard to me.

A good author friend of mine, Steve Booth, has just started a new project that is really imaginative and engages readers in a new way. He's inviting readers to participate in a story as it unfolds online at:

Here is what he had to say on his latest blog post as he explains the project:
"Over the last several months, we have been working on a new way to present fantasy material on the web. Of course, there have been many excellent examples of storytelling – eBooks, multi-path stories, even full-blown, immersive role-paying games.

These all fall short, however, when it comes to one thing — engaging readers in the creative (and sometimes challenging) process of writing a story from scratch. What we thought would be very cool, interesting for all, and also instructive, is to actually create, under the watchful eye of an author, a short story, interactively, over a period of several weeks, and to let everyone have a chance to contribute and make suggestions about how it should go. In short — you get to do the fun stuff, and I have to do the work. We call it an ‘eStory’.

Each new iteration of the eStory will consist of two or more parallel story tracks, based on the suggestions and selections made by all those that wish to contribute. Thus, although I have a pretty good idea of where our tale will lead, it is in a very real sense ‘organic’ – how we get to our destination has not yet been determined.

SO… if you’re curious, if you’ve ever wondered how folks come up with these fantastical characters and worlds, please join us on our adventure. We’re calling it ‘The Legend of Talimar’. In addition, it will be possible for anyone to comment, critique, ask questions, and suggest alternative paths that might be interesting to follow.

After everyone has a chance to respond, we will create at least two, or perhaps more alternative paths for the story to take, like the waters in a stream parting around a rock. Later on, the two paths will rejoin the main plot of the story, but in the interim, new and interesting things will be revealed; things no one had suspected; things I never considered, perhaps!

After a number of installments (we're thinking like 10-12), we'll conclude the tale with a really cool climax and finale, and we'll provide some special secrets for those who also want to continue with the follow-on volume, Dark Talisman."

Go support my buddy and check out his fun project at:

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Everything You Should Know About Writing A Bestselling Book

I recently attended an awesome webinar, hosted by bestselling author, Arielle Ford, and marketing guru, Mike Koenigs.  Together, they talked about why some authors make it big, while so many other authors fail. 
You can hear part of their discussion at:

Because Arielle has worked all aspects of the industry (author, literary agent, publisher), she's definitely worth listening to.  She talked about what publishers and agents really look for and what successful authors always do first.  Do you want to know what that is?

The biggest take-away for me was to create a book with the end in mind or, in other words, start with the marketing first before you even begin to write.  Publishers are looking for an author with a platform.  A platform includes your "hook" and why your material is better than anyone else's, but also includes your fan base and how you can prove to a publisher that you already have "x" number of adoring fans who will buy your book the minute it hits store shelves.  While we authors love to think our writing is all about the craft, publishing houses are more interested in the saleability of our work.  Being an author also means having a head for business.

So here's a tip....begin branding yourself even if you haven't started writing that Great American Novel yet.  Create a platform and name for yourself that will get people talking even before your book comes out.  Publishers are looking to authors more and more to participate in the marketing process.  Long gone are the days when an author handed over a manuscript and the publisher did all the rest of the work to bring the book to market.  There is much an author can do to increase the success rate of her book.

Check out the following video to hear more about what Arielle has learned from her many successful years in the industry: