Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Travel Writing

You write. You travel. What’s not to like about this marriage? How do you get to be a travel writer? Research from several sources suggests the following guidelines.

1. Learn to write tightly and sparingly with limited word count. (An exception is a travel narrative like Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence.) Write articles using 700 words or fewer.

2. Start your own travel web site or travel blog. Use page breaks to prevent endless scrolling; keep articles short and succinct. Know what you are talking about.

3. Target regional magazines and newspapers. Living in an area gives you an edge. Alternatively, write an article for a newspaper in a city or area different from where you are living from a visitor’s point of view.

4. Be able to follow travel trends. Greece is NOT trendy right now because it is too dangerous but New Zealand, Australia, Thailand and the Pacific Islands are hot. Travel agencies are pushing Turkey but safety in the entire Middle East is tenuous. If you know proven travel tips on how to stay safe in a region, you may have a sellable article.

5. Target your audience and study demographics of where people visit. Write about specialized travel, generational trips, specific interest trips (bird watching, collecting Chinese figurines, seniors only, handicapped, college students, antique shopping, modern art museums or canal buffs, obscure fishing destinations, geological dig sites, looking for dinosaurs . . . . you get the picture.)

6. Guidebooks are almost impossible to break into unless you specialize and probably self-publish or write a regional guidebook. Avoid listing prices of hotel rates, airplane flights, or cruise ship fares so the information remains current. Write about famous landmarks or historical places to visit instead.

7. After you have some experience and clips, you can branch out into writing travel brochures for corporate incentive programs, local convention/visitors bureaus and newspaper ads for travel companies. Target corporate marketing-communication departments and advertising agencies for work.

8. Query specific magazines like antiques, railroading, horses, skate boarding, tennis resorts or schools, custom made trip organizations like YMCA, Singles Travel or for pianists, circus lovers, cold weather destinations, or volcano enthusiasts. Approaching a speciality magazine for equine lovers with an article about raising horses in Argentina may lead to an assignment.

9. Write an article for a local newspaper on how to make leftsa or schaum torte after visiting Norway or Germany, how to take care of lederhosen after visiting Switzerland or silk umbrellas and ivory chopsticks after a trip to Japan.

Hone your skills and you may be able to write for the prestigious magazines earning $2.00/word!

Check out these sites…. and

Monday, March 28, 2011

Graphomania, n., a passion for writing

Gosh, I never knew there were so many names for the writing we authors do! I knew elegy was a long lament of things past from learning Thomas Gray’s “Elegy Written in A Churchyard.” I did not know that an epithalamium was a wedding song or poem in honor of a bride and groom nor that an ecologue was a pastoral poem about shepherds conversing. Doggerel, meaning an irregular rhythm of a loosely styled verse used for comic effect, was sort of familiar but I had no idea that a dithyramb was a speech or composition written in an inflated, enthusiastic or exalted style. I should have known this after listening to politicians whose bombastic, pompous and overly inflated language is often described as fustian. Jane Austin’s novels are of discriminating apercu (A pur SOO) of English society in the beginning of the 19th century, e.g., “an intuitive insight.”

Some of the many words related to writing are:

Sesquipedalian, adj. characterized by using overly long words

Prolix, adj, v. excessively wordy

Afflatus, n. a sudden rush of creative impulse, an inspiration

Adumbrate, v. to give a sketchy outline; foreshadow vaguely

Expatiate, v. to write or speak at length, elaborate

Prolix, adj. overly wordy; verbose, tedious

Variorum, n. a text that quotes several scholars often with varying conclusions

Apothegm (A puh Them), n. , a proverb, maxim, adage or aphorism

Epigram, n. —a short, witty poem

Apocrypha, n. writings of dubious authenticity, typically religious

Canard, n. fabricated or false report; unfounded story

Exemplum, n story demonstrating a moral point

Rubric, n. title heading or first letter often printed in red ink

Billet-doux (BIL lay do), n. love letter

McGuffin, also MacGuffin, n. what seems like the main plot but isn’t

Strophe (STROW FEE), n. stanza or verse of a poem

Leitmotif or leitmotiv (LIGHT mo TEEF), n. dominant, recurring theme or underlying pattern found in novels and other works of art

Roman a clef (row MAHN AH KLAY), n. novel in which real persons are represented under fictitious names

Solecism (SAH luk sih ZYHM), n. combination of words that construct a grammatically incorrect sentence

Longueur (LONE ghur), n. tedious, dull or lengthy passage as from a book

Bromidic, adj. lacking originality, trite, commonplace

Crib, n. a child's bed or a translation of writing from another language

Monograph, n. a written account of a single subject; a scholarly book on a limited area of learning

Topos, n. conventional theme in a literary composition

Bildungsroman, n. type of novel in which the main theme focuses on the formative years or spiritual education of one individual

Bathos, n. sudden transition form an elevated style to the commonplace in writing; overdone or insincere pathos; hackneyed quality, triteness

With thanks to The Bibliophile’s Dictionary by Miles Westley, Writer’s Digest Books, 2005, and Concise Oxford American Dictionary, 2006

WELCOME to Kathleen Dobbs and Elizabeth Brinton as regular contributors!

Friday, March 25, 2011

TGIF: Weekend Spring Fever Antidotes for Writers

"It's spring fever," Mark Twain wrote. "That is what the name of it is. And when you've got it, you want--oh, you don't know quite what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!"

If spring fever has you feeling restless this weekend, here are some writer- and reader-oriented events to get you out into the literary world.

Tonight, political scientist and retired Yale University professor Jim Payne will discuss his book Six Political Illusions at Auntie's Bookstore, 402 W. Main Ave., Spokane, (509) 838-0206. 7:00 p.m.

Also tonight, as part of the Big Read Book Discussions series, Tim O'Brien's haunting Vietnam War story The Things They Carried will be discussed at V. F. W. Post 51, 300 W. Mission Ave., Spokane. 5:00 p.m. and again on March 31 at 7:00 p.m. at Barnes & Noble in Spokane Valley.

On Saturday, Jo Ann Bender will read from her book, Lebensborn, a novel based on the historical event of Nazi Germany's attempt to create a master Aryan race through a program they called Lebensborn. 1:30-2:30 p.m. at the East Bonner County Library, 1407 Cedar St., Sandpoint, (208) 263-6930.

Also on Saturday from 1:00 to 3:00, Trent Reedy will sign copies of his young adult novel Words in the Dust, about an Afghan girl who discovers new friends and opportunities after her country changes regime. At 2:00, historian Buddy Levy (a WSU professor and co-host of the History Channel show Decoded) will present his book River of Darkness: Francisco Orellana's Legendary Voyage of Death and Discovery Down the Amazon. Both of these events will take place at Auntie's Bookstore, 402 W. Main Ave., Spokane, (509) 838-0206

At Auntie's on Sunday from 12:00 to 2:00, members of the Idaho Writers League, Sandpoint Chapter, will present contributions to their anthology, Celebrating the Art of Writing, a collection of poetry, stories, and essays.

For more upcoming events of interest to writers, click on the "Events" tab above.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Some Friendly Advice

Writing is by nature a solitary occupation, but thankfully we don’t have to go it alone. Blogs like this one are a great way to "meet" others who are actively pursuing an interest in the same thing we are--stringing words together on paper in some meaningful way.

It’s not that we don’t love and appreciate our non-writing friends and family. We’d be lost without them. But let’s face it. Sometimes we need to be around other writers. We understand other writers, and other writers understand us.

Have you ever had some version of the following conversation?

Non-Writing Friend: What are you staring at?

You: (snapping back to reality from a faraway place) Huh?

NWF: What are you staring at? You’ve been staring out the window for half an hour.

You: I am not staring out the window. I’m untangling a knotty plot problem. A plot knot. Plot knot. Hey, that’s pretty good.

NWF: Whatever. (eye roll)

Or this:

Non-Writing Friend: What are you reading?

You: The dictionary.

NWF: The what?

You: The dictionary. It’s a big book that tells you—

NWF: I know what a dictionary is! Why are you reading it?

You: Oh. Well, I was looking up how to spell “jabberwocky,” and I got sidetracked by “jacaranda,” which is such a musical-sounding word, and then I saw “jackal,” which made me wonder if having my main character fight off a sudden attack by a rabid jackal who jumps out from behind a jacaranda would liven up Chapter Six and make the heroine finally notice him and--

NWF: Whatever. (eye roll)

You see? A Writer Friend wouldn’t say “whatever.” A Writer Friend would congratulate you on the pleasing rhyme of “plot knot” and then ask for more details so she could help you brainstorm. A Writer Friend would help you reconsider whether a jacaranda-based jackal attack is really the best plot development for a story set in midtown Manhattan. And so on. Sometimes it takes a writer to understand a writer. So whether you meet with one or two other writers, join a writers group, follow writing blogs, or all of the above, make sure to connect with other members of your "tribe."

What role have writing friends played in your life?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Book review: Refuse to Choose by Barbara Sher

I'm re-reading a book that's not about writing, but has been a big help to me as a writer. It's called Refuse to Choose by Barbara Sher (author of the perennial bestseller Wishcraft). The tagline reads: "Use all of your interests, passions, and hobbies to create the life and career of your dreams." That's a tall order, and maybe not immediately obvious how it applies to writing, but it has made a world of difference in how I approach my work. Maybe it will help you, too.

The first thing to determine is whether you are a Diver or a Scanner. Divers are those people who "dive" into a project with a vengeance and don't come up for air until they've finished whatever it is they set out to do. They are able to stay very focused. If they have a novel to write, they write the whole thing before starting in on something else. Divers are also specialists. They think nothing of dedicating a lifetime to studying and writing about one particular subject area, becoming the world's foremost expert on, say, a certain type of mollusk or an obscure historical event. If you're a laser-focused, goal-oriented, diligent Diver, this book is not for you.

A Scanner, on the other hand, is fascinated by a wide range of subjects, constantly "scanning" the horizon to see what's new. Her head is exploding with new ideas and interests but she might not delve very deeply into any of them. This rapid-fire attention span might brand her as a dilettante in a world that values specialization. Worse, she sometimes has so many unrelated ideas that she can't seem to finish any one thing, or maybe even get started in the first place.

I can write with authority about being a Scanner-type writer, because I am one. At this moment my desk holds a plethora of writing projects in various stages of progress: a novel, magazine articles, book-jacket copy, an editing project, a study guide, a book review, newsletters, and blog posts. I also have ideas for things I'd like to write about: animals, music, true crime, theology, Prohibition, paper crafts, folk music, antiques, nutrition, and more. Much of the time, my head is spinning and I don't know which project to pick up first. The end result is that, too often, I don't get around to any of them, and risk falling prey to a comfy couch, a bowl of ice cream, and the remote.

That's where Refuse to Choose has come to my rescue. Written for Scanners, it's filled with practical techniques and tools to help us to remember and keep track of the zillion ideas exploding in our heads, and make time to work on each one of them, sooner or later.

My favorite technique, called the School Day Model, divides the writing day up like a school day: work on novel from nine to eleven, history article from 1 to 2, church newsletter from 2 to 3, and so on. Nothing gets neglected or forgotten, and I get to switch topics before I'm bored (another Scanner characteristic: being easily bored). A related approach is the Physician Model. Just as a physician might see patients on Tuesdays and Thursdays and perform surgery on Mondays and Wednesdays, I might devote Mondays to my novel, Tuesdays to research, Wednesdays to client work, etc. Again, nothing gets neglected or overlooked, and I don't get bored.

Another favorite tool is the Avocation Station, where I keep papers and research materials in boxes by subject: Local History, Nutrition, Music, etc. Any tidbit or random thought I have gets tossed into the appropriate box, where it's readily available when I'm ready to write about it. In the meantime, it's neatly corralled and out of my head.

If you suspect you're a Scanner and you feel as if your writing is all over the place because of it, I suggest you take a look at Refuse to Choose. I'm under no obligation to the author or publisher for this endorsement; just gratitude for my own dog-eared, underlined copy that has been such a help in my writing life.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Volunteers Needed

The Get Lit! Festival is near and below is a message from one of the coordinators looking for volunteers. So if you would like to get involved in helping out with this exciting series of events, here’s your chance!

(Note: I am posting this notice for contributor Mary Jane Honegger, who is experiencing computer problems this morning.)


From: Melissa Huggins
Subject: Get Lit! Festival Volunteers

Good afternoon!

The 13th Annual Get Lit! Festival is just around the corner, and we need a lot of helping hands. From April 13-17, the festival will offer over fifty events including author readings, workshops, poetry slams, panels, film showings and youth events. It takes a lot of volunteers to keep everything running smoothly, so we could really use your help. Some task for volunteers are: taking tickets, ushering, running the festival info table, reading for the Milk Crate readings, helping at the author reception, collecting event surveys and escorting authors to and from events.

Some perks of volunteering:

  • Free admission to the event at which you volunteer (including workshops and all headlining events except Ani DiFranco)
  • Free Get Lit! festival t-shirt
  • For every 4 hours volunteered, you will receive a free ticket to the event of your choice
  • Opportunities to hang with festival authors
  • Our deepest gratitude!

If you visit our Calendar of Events ( you can see all of our festival events, and information on the festival authors is here. Please take a few minutes and browse the events and your personal schedule and consider when you would like to volunteer. I will assign volunteers on a first come/first served basis. If you do not have a preference of events and would like to help out where we need you, please send me the blocks of time you are available and I can plug you into the schedule.

After you’ve considered when/how you would like to volunteer, please send me the following information:

-Your name

-Your phone number (preferably a cell phone)

-The events you would like to volunteer for AND/OR what blocks of time you are available to help out where needed.

-T-shirt size

After I have gathered most of the volunteers we need, I will send out confirmation emails to everyone and do final call-outs for events where we still need help. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me. Also, if know any other groups or individuals who may be interested in volunteering, please forward this message to them.

The Get Lit! Festival would not be in its 13th year without the support of an enthusiastic community. Thank you so much for considering volunteering and I hope to hear from you soon!


Melissa Huggins
Assistant Coordinator
Get Lit! Programs
(509) 359-6447 (office)
(509) 939-0234 (cell)

Also, be sure to check out our Writing North Idaho Events page for these and other upcoming events.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The 4 Steps to a Constructive Critique

There are no tried and true rules on whether or not to accept the advice given when your work is critiqued. It is your decision. But when it comes to giving a critique, you'll find a truckload of advice out there.

I remember the first guidelines I was ever given were harsh. They outlined the process, reiterating time and again the importance of "telling it like it is" and being honest about whether or not you thought the writing was good. The guidelines persuaded one to include harsh criticism so the writer could develop the thick skin all writers need when they get rejections throughout their career.

I say let new writers spread their wings before you shoot them out of the sky!

Among the dozens of Internet articles I looked at online, my favorite, found on, outlines four steps one should take when critiquing another’s creative writing. It is neither quick nor easy, but if you follow this outline, I'm positive you’ll find the process of critiquing beneficial to both you and the writer.

How to Critique Creative Writing
by Cassandra Harris

e-how Member

Critiquing another writer's work can be daunting the first few times, but following these simple guidelines will help you write a thorough, helpful review, and can help you avoid common pitfalls in your own writing.

1. First Read for General Impression
Read the entire piece through once. This initial reading is for a general impression of the work. Don't skim, but avoid laboring over specific elements of the piece. If you see an occasional spelling error or typo, go ahead and mark it. If there are numerous mistakes throughout the piece, just add a general request for a spell check at the top of the story.

2. Write Constructive Comments
After the first reading, write a short paragraph giving your initial impression. Keep your comments constructive. If you found your mind wandering during the story, don't just remark that you were bored. Find sections that held your attention, and suggest the writer keep that pacing throughout the piece, pinpointing the sections that could use some work.

If one character left you cold, credit the characters that you found compelling, and suggest the lacking character be developed more like those. If the humor in the piece fell flat, find the author's strengths (action, dialogue, description, etc.), and suggest leaving the humor out to let those strong points shine through.

3. Second Read for More Detailed Analysis
Now do a second, closer, reading. This read is for continuity, character development, dialogue, descriptive passages and plot points. Make notes in the margin (or in a word processor file, if reading online, noting the page and paragraph in question before each comment) as you go.

Try to note the writer's strengths as well as weaknesses. What were your favorite moments? Which descriptions made you feel most present? Which character(s) did you find most compelling? Did any plot shifts pleasantly surprise you? Did you feel lost at any point?

Does the plot seem plausible? Is the pacing good, or did you feel rushed, or find yourself getting restless waiting for something to happen? Are there any continuity errors, like sudden name changes or location shifts?

4. Review and Rewrite Constructive Comments
Review the paragraph you wrote after your initial reading, adding any specifics that might clarify your first impression. Maybe your first reading left you wanting more action and less dialogue, but after your second read, you realized it was only one section of dialogue that was a problem for you.

Again, keep it constructive. Harsh criticism won't help the writer develop her strengths to make up for her weaknesses, it will just leave her feeling inadequate. Likewise, don't give a review of pure praise, unless you truly found the story flawless. Help the writer craft this story into the best work it can be.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Writing Workshops and Other Events

There are two writing workshops happening in our area in the coming weeks. These provide excellent opportunities for learning more about the craft of writing and networking with other writers. Check'em out!

March 19

The first annual Inland Northwest Christian Writers Conference will be held March 19. Keynote speaker is Jim Rubart, author of ROOMS and Book of Days. For details on workshops and other information, go to This is a one-day conference and is a great value for only $50 per person. Lunch can be reserved for an additional $6.

April 5, 2, 19, and 26

The pre-workshop assignments are due by March 29, so hurry! Every Tuesday evening in April (5,12,19,26), from 6:30pm-9pm, we will gather at a lovely home to learn the craft of mystery writing. But wait! Romance novelists need suspense and a little “mystery” in their writing too! And don’t forget paranormal, sci-fi, and other genres-- all need tools to make an exciting story as well! The speakers have promised that the tools they teach will be beneficial for all who write novels!

Frank Zafiro, well known crime novelist and real-life police officer, and T. Dawn Richard, a well known “Cozy” Mystery novelist, will take us through an intensive workshop with hands-on, mind-engaged instruction. There will be actual writing and “homework,” which will be a valuable experience for all!

Registration is $45 per person, payable to Idaho Writer’s League. Sign up will be available at all IWL meetings through March , or you may send your registration and fee to IWL, PO Box 1113, Hayden, ID 83835. Please include your NAME, ADDRESS, PHONE, and 7

EMAIL. You do not have to be a member to attend! The actual location will be disclosed when registration is received. By the end of the workshop, you will have a good working story or chapter that can be submitted for publication! Please send your basic information by email if you can so that your assignment and directions may be given:
Book Events
There are plenty of book-related events happening soon, including a presentation by Kim Barnes, author of the Pulitzer Prize nominated memoir, In the Wilderness. For details of this and other local events, check out the Events page of this blog.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Protecting Your Data

Last year the mother board in my computer went kaput. Dead. Done. The attractive forest-photo background dotted with icons of folders, files, and various programs displayed on my desktop, had become a black, blank screen. I immediately panicked. Was the article I had recently written gone? Had I lost all of my manuscript files forever? Had my address book vanished into oblivion? Had all of my photos gone to another world? Of course, when I called my husband in a flurry, he asked the inevitable question I didn't wnat to hear: "When was the last time you backed it up?"


When WAS the last time I backed up my information? Six months ago? Eight months ago? Last year?

Luckily...very luckily...the computer gurus were able to retrieve my information via some magic technological technique. Since that time I have purchased an external hard drive and have put a note on my calender that pops up each month reminding me to do a backup. Sometimes I actually do it.

When did you last backup your computer data?

Here’s some useful information from author Randy Ingermanson about how writers can protect their manuscripts and other writing-related work stored on their computers. Randy is the coauthor of, Writing Fiction for Dummies, published in 2009.

There are a lot of ways to have your novel rejected. An agent can tell you he doesn't think he can sell your work. An editor can tell you that your book's no good. The market can fail to recognize your genius.

Getting those kinds of rejection is just part of the great publishing game. Every writer has to face them, and face them down. They're scars of honor that all writers wear with a perverse kind of pride.

But there's one kind of rejection that no writer will ever take any pride in -- accidental loss of your novel.

There are any number of ways this can happen:

* You turn on your computer one day and hear a nasty, scraping noise. Your hard drive has just crashed.

* You're at Starbucks working on your laptop. You go to the bathroom for a quick bio-break, and when you come back, your laptop has walked out the door with a new friend.

* You turn into your driveway and see that your house is fully engulfed in flames. By the time the firefighters put out the fire, your computer is a melted mess of metal.

If the only copy of your novel was on your computer, then your work is gone. Fate has rejected that novel and now you'll never ever sell it.

That's harsh. That's cruel. That doesn't need to happen.

If you've got any important data on your computer, you need to protect it. The simple rule is to have at least two current copies of everything you write, in addition to your original.

One copy should be on a backup hard drive on your desk. The other copy should be out there on the web somewhere, securely stored far from your home.

Why have two copies?

Because you can't be too careful with your important data.

You want one copy on your desk on an external hard drive to protect you if your computer's internal hard drive dies or if your computer gets stolen. In either case, you can restore your data very quickly from the copy on your desk.

You want one copy out on the web because your house could burn down or be destroyed by an earthquake, tornado, hurricane, flood, or ogre. In this case, restoring your data will take a bit more time, but disasters are rare events, so it's not that big of a deal.

Backing up your computer is not hard. If your data isn't safe, you can make it safe quickly and at little cost.

To backup your computer to an external hard drive, you'll first need to buy one if you don't have one. These are cheap and getting cheaper all the time. Today, you can buy a hard drive that holds a terabyte of data for under $100. A terabyte holds roughly a million novel-length manuscripts. That should be plenty, no?

Now connect that external hard drive to your computer and back up your data using the software of your choice. On a Mac, you can use "Time Machine," which comes free with every Mac. On Windows, you can use the system backup utility. Or you can buy an inexpensive backup program if you prefer.

It should take about two minutes to set up backups and less than an hour for your computer to save all your data to the external hard drive. After that, the software will periodically save any changes you've made to your work. This should happen without you even noticing.

To backup your computer to the web, you need to choose an online backup service provider. There are plenty of these -- Mozy, Carbonite, and CrashPlan are three of the more popular ones.

I use CrashPlan, for the simple reason that MacWorld gave it the highest ranking in a recent review of seven different service providers.

A good backup service should encrypt your data, store it in a secure location on the web, and make it easy for you to get your data back if and when you need it. For a typical home user, backup service shouldn't cost more than a few dollars per month.

Sign up for the service of your choice. Log in and select which data you want to back up over the internet. Then let the service do its magic.

Be aware that it can take days or weeks to back up ALL the data on your computer over the internet. That's because even high-speed internet service isn't all that fast compared to the boatloads of data on a typical computer.

Backing up your computer over the internet is like siphoning out your swimming pool with a garden hose. It works just fine, but it takes a good long time. Once you start it going, it should continue on by itself until it's done.

Select your most important data to back up first. That would probably be your financial information and your novel. These tend to be small files, so backing them up should take only a few minutes.

Your photos and music and the comical movies of your kitten will take a lot longer to back up. Select these to be backed up only after your important stuff is safe.

Once you've set up your backup systems, you really don't need to do anything else. Your backup software should be constantly updating your external hard drive on your desk. Your online backup service should be doing the same over the internet.

This doesn't take long, and once it's done, think what peace of mind you'll enjoy. You'll know that accident or theft of disaster won't prevent you from getting published.

Only those infuriating agents and editors can do that.

Award-winning novelist Randy Ingermanson, "the Snowflake Guy," publishes the Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine, with more than 24,000 readers, every month. If you want to learn the craft and marketing of fiction, AND make your writing more valuable to editors, AND have FUN doing it, visit

Download your free Special Report on Tiger Marketing and get a free 5-Day Course in How To Publish a Novel.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Publishing Predictions

The recent news that Borders has filed for bankruptcy reminded me of publishing industry predictions contained in a Publishing Poynter’s Newsletter I received in January.

The newsletter included predictions not only from Dan Poynter (Para Publishing), but also from Publishers Weekly, The Daily Beast, Mark Coker (Smashwords), Danny Snow (Society for New Communications Research), Michael Hyatt (Publisher Thomas Nelson), Alex Pham (Los Angeles Times), and others.

Here’s an overview of some of their predictions:

Dan Poynter: Brick and mortar stores will continue to close. Rent for a bookstore on the street is higher than for an online site. Read more...

Judith Rosen, Publishers Weekly: If the last few months of 2010 are any indication, this year's most successful bookstores will have a smaller footprint, more diversification, or both. Read more...

Danny Snow: Watch for widespread closings of brick-and-mortar bookstores in 2011, possibly dealing a mortal blow to old school print publishers, and the wholesalers and distributors that supply offline booksellers. Read more...


Jim Milliot, Publishers Weekly: The U. S. book publishing industry is rushing headlong into the digital future, a process that is changing everything about how books are acquired, manufactured, sold, and read. Read more...

Mark Coker: Indie ebook authors are becoming more professional and sophisticated, and they’re starting to climb the bestseller charts without the assistance of a publisher. Ebooks will account for one third or more of unit consumption. Why? Ebooks cost less and early ebook adopters read more. Read more...

Dan Poynter: The future of nonfiction publishing is ebooks. The future of ebooks is color. The future of reading is on a screen. Ads will begin to appear in Ebooks. Unlike print books, ads can be added into an ebook any time and charged for by the (sold) book. Ebook publishing and reading will continue to grow. Read more...

Danny Snow: Expect continued growth in sales of periodicals and books in digital form, especially to users of smartphones. Anticipate a titanic struggle taking shape between Amazon, Apple and Google for dominance in the epublishing world. Read more...

Michael Hyatt: Free e-Readers: E-tailers will do this as a premium for readers who buy bundles or join e-book clubs. Or they might provide a dramatic discount to induce the next segment of holdouts to try digital reading. More and more the dedicated reader will be seen as a commodity, just like razors are to razor blades. In the near-term, expect to see the major e-Readers drop below $100. Read more...
Mainstream Traditional Publishers:

Dan Poynter: More and more established authors will abandon their New York publishers when their contracts let them. Read more...

Mark Coker: 2011 will be the first year traditional publishers feel the need to compete against the indie ebook alternative. Agents will bring new credibility to self publishing by encouraging authors to proactively bypass publishers and work directly with ebook distribution platforms. Read more...

Alex Pham: For more than a century, writers have made the fabled pilgrimage to New York, offering their stories to publishing houses and dreaming of bound editions on bookstore shelves. Publishers had the power of the purse and the press. They doled out advances to writers they deemed worthy and paid the cost of printing, binding and delivering books to bookstores. In the world of print, few authors could afford to self-publish. The Internet has changed all that, allowing writers to sell their works directly to readers, bypassing agents and publishers who once were the gatekeepers. It's difficult to gauge just how many authors are dumping their publishing houses to self-publish online, though for now, the overall share remains small. But hardly a month goes by without a well-known writer taking the leap or declaring an intention to do so. Read more...


Mark Coker: Self Publishing goes from option of last resort to option of first resort among unpublished authors – Most unpublished authors today still aspire to achieve the perceived credibility and blessing that comes with a professional book deal. Yet the cachet of traditional publishing is fading fast. Authors with finished manuscripts will grow impatient and resentful as they wait to be discovered by big publishers otherwise preoccupied with publishing celebrity drivel. Read more...

More demand for Print on Demand (POD):

Calvin Reid, Publishers Weekly: Print on demand and short-run digital printing will continue their methodical growth in 2011, a tribute to the technology's utility to publishers looking to keep backlist titles in print or quickly replenish out-of-stock frontlist titles. Read more...

The future of authoring is multimedia:
The Daily Beast: As the capabilities of ereaders like the Kindle and Nook grow, and as tablets like the iPad set the standard for consuming electronic content, more publishers will feel the push to turn books into hybrid forms that combine audio and video. The shift will be apparent mainly in nonfiction, where biographies will begin to include video and audio recordings of their subjects, but some clever practitioners will produce killer multimedia ebooks that will begin to blur the lines between novel and videogame. Read more...


Some of these predictions might make you mad, sad, or glad. But for writers, I hope they represent new opportunities and discoveries.

Friday, March 4, 2011


March 5, 2011, Saturday

“Reading Across America”, celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday, arts, crafts, games, chance to get your book published, BORDERS, Coeur d’Alene, 2:00 PM

“Dr. Seuss Story Time and Birthday Celebration
at AUNTIE’S BOOKSTORE, 402 W. Main, Spokane, 11:00 AM

“Timothy C. Ely: Line of Sight” at 2316 W. FIRST AVENUE, Spokane, WA, daily until April 14, Cost: Payment required - Adults, $7. Seniors & Students, $5 Children under 5 are free.

Mr. Ely's exquisitely bound books integrate Western and Eastern religious and mystical traditions, astronomy, particle physics, cartography, alchemy and sacred geometry. His lavishly unique manuscript books are in museum and private collections throughout the world. The centerpiece of the exhibition is an enormous graphic work - up to 25 feet wide and 10 feet tall - that Ely will paint and draw directly onto the gallery's south wall with a variety of projected forms, with pigments, beautiful metal armatures, wire, and thread. This work, in essence and animated, open book, will exist only for the life of the exhibition. Opens at 10:00 AM

Fallon Jones signs her book Betrayed: How the Education Establishment Has Betrayed America and What You Can Do About It, Barnes and Nobel by Spokane Valley Mall, 2:00 PM

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Establishing Credibility with Readers and Editors

Do you know the address of the Eiffel Tower?
How does a writer establish credibility with a reader? How can you make your reader feel like he, too, is in Paris and can visualize exactly where the protagonist of your book is? Narrative descriptions are the reader’s entrĂ©e into your scenes. They are always important but especially for foreign locales or plots set in a different era. Dialog will also help make your story believable. Teens today say, “Like, no way!” but a teen in the 1920’s would say, “You’re all wet!” Attention to details is paramount. By depicting a location with verisimilitude, you can more easily set an accurate, believable scene and tweak your reader’s interest for reading further.
“I turned right on Rue de Palais. The black Volvo tailing me turned also. I parked haphazardly and ran into the courthouse. Seeing an exit, I slid to it and slipped through the door on to Rue Bourgeois and into the wooded park.” Sounds okay but if your editor is a traveler, has lived in Paris or likes to check maps and you are wrong, you will lose credibility as an author. If others can not trust you on this, what else are you writing that is false?
The obvious answer to writing credibly is to visit the site at the time of year to match your plot. “Oh, gee! I have to go to Paris for my book, honey.” Before you pack your bags and get a pat down at the airport, you will want to study many books about Paris. Read guidebooks and highlight places that may fit your plot. Buy current maps and take them with you; you can study them on the plane. Invest in or use a library’s books on the geography and topography of Paris. Write down what you think you will see based on these books. When on actual terra firma, check your notes and amend them for accuracy if necessary.
While in Paris, take extensive notes and pictures. Remember to write down smells and what colors and hues you see. Your reader should sense the stereotypical Frenchman with a mustache and beret and accordion music in the background. Use a small voice recorder to capture extra feelings or actual sounds to take home. A good way to learn about your chosen location is to ride public transportation. You can listen to conversations and take notes on people’s dress to write more authentically in your story. If you are up for it, you can interview people like doormen, wait people and museum guards to gain further perceptions.
Note the ethnic makeup of the area; learn about the economics, politics and climate of your location. I observed during a recent visit to Sydney, Australia that all young businessmen wear black business suits with peg leg trousers, white French-cuffed shirts and shined, pointed toe, black, dress shoes. If you set your plot in Sydney and described a street scene using what you thought you knew based on the men’s business dress in Spokane, you would be off the mark and “lose cred”.
Pretend you want to write a sequel to The Great Gatsby from Daisy Buchanan’s cousin’s viewpoint. Studying the social scenes, morals, slang and habits of Long Island in the 1920’s would be a necessity. You will need to do in-depth research via old pictures noting the architecture of building, and what cars and buses looked like then. Visiting museums that have clothes from that decade will enable you to describe Daisy’s new frock; it certainly will not be polyester and wrinkle free. Read other books written about that same era but do not rely on that author’s descriptions of things. He may not have done his research.
Conducting your inquiries, visiting sites if possible, studying maps, social mores, politics, economic situations, and looking at a plethora of pictures establishes credibility with your readers as well as your editors and publisher. As Daisy Buchanan would say, you will be hotsy totsy and just ducky.
Question: Have you ever traveled to a specific location to do research for a story or book? Has a trip to a different location inspired a story after visiting there?