“Artists are people who are not at all interested in the facts—only in the truth. You get the facts from outside. The truth you get from inside.” --Ursula K. LeGuin

Thursday, June 25, 2015

“Know when to hold em’, know when to fold em’, know when to walk away, know when to run.”

“Did you know that the first drafts of many of your writing heroes are just as clumsy, flabby and downright difficult to read as yours?”

Whoa, that’s a revelation.

It’s the editing.

I don’t know about you, but I get my word count up—then I edit, and nine tenths of my words disappear.

Think of old Strunk and White’s Elements of Style a book the Professor drummed into us in freshman English. “Simplify, simplify, simplify.”

But, you might ask, what about all those paragraphs rich in prose, description, scent and flavor you so love?

Yep. Use those. I think of author Rosamunde Pilcher and her Scottish highlands, and the scent of peat, and grouse and salt from the sea. Wow. I am in awe.

A writer’s dilemma—“Know when to hold em’, know when to fold em’, know when to walk away, know when to run.”

Like  life.

Here are a few editing rules I found useful:
  • Take out filler words.

Example: it, here, there, it is, it was, it takes, her is, there is, there will be
There are some bloggers who seem to have…
  •  Don’t use wimpy words.

She is blogging….she blogs.

  • Use visceral verbs:

Find out….discover
Think of a blogging strategy….Devise a blogging strategy.

  • Avoid weak adjectives

Really bad….terrible
Really good….great
Very beautiful….gorgeous

Even straonger:
Editting is absolutely essential. Absolutely is redundant.

  • Commas:

Throw out the comma police.

Gosh, in freshman English I was hit with more “Comma faults” than I could shake a stick at. That made me take out a lot of commas though.

Now I ask the question, “What makes it easier to read?

I’m done .


“Any comments, additions, or suggestions on how to be a better writer?
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Monday, June 15, 2015

No Money, Not Now, Not Ever

Today's Treat

Today's blog:

Are You Like me?

When we lived in Hawaii a doctor asked me if I knew about the Big Island.

“In what regard?” I asked.

“If your husband needs more care you will have to go to Honolulu,” he said.

Commute from the Big Island to Honolulu?”

I don’t think so.

I couldn’t get off the Island fast enough.

So with the question, “Are you like me?” you might also ask, “In what regard?”

 Well, your attitude toward marketing for one.

There is a certain marketing ploy that works—up to a point.

It has caught me a couple of times.

 I got a free download from a blogger I respect.

It was a great download, good information, I was impressed. A true gift. I felt he was the real deal. He could help me with blogging. Maybe I really haven’t gotten the gist of it. I could use some help. How do I write good headlines? How do I keep people interested? How do I write good content, be entertaining, or informative?

Okay, next he offered a mini course for $49.00. I figured he was worth it. I joined.
But that wasn’t the end of it.

I “need” to keep joining this, buying that. I’m not good enough until I buy something else—he can teach me. That will do it…. until the next great thing comes out.

Maybe that’s the way bloggers earn their $100,000 a year. But I’m not going to do it.  I’m not trying to sell you anything. And I’m never going to ask for money on this site, not now, not ever.

Do the Opposite

When I had horses I was following Pat Parellii’s training techniques, and he said that what most people are doing, do the opposite.

A couple of weeks ago, I watched the Belmont Race—and watched handlers pulling on the horse’s mouth to get them into the starting gate. It worked. They got the horse into the gate. I know though, that a horse works better being driven than pulled. With a tap of a carrot stick on the rump, don’t hit them, just tap them, the horse would probably jump into that gate. And on top of it you would earn the horse’s respect. Don’t know, haven’t tested it. But there is an old Indian trick of getting a horse into a trailer. Pick up a handful of pebbles, and toss them—little prickling taps on a horse’s rump—and he jumps into the trailer.

I hate it when something I have loved turns on me, and that has happened with a number of marketing ploys. As I said, the marketing technique started out good. Give them a freebee, and then you have their email. After that you suggest, or push something else, then something else. I’m even willing to pay for good material, but enough already.

I left feeling exploited.

Did the horse feel that way when yanked into the starting gate?

I won’t yank you. Maybe I’ll toss a few pebbles at your rump.

I’ll ask you to join my blog, or sign up for a freeby, but that’s it.

No money. Not now. Not ever.

So here we are.

I don’t know how to tell you how to find an agent or how to get published.

I don’t know how to tell you how to write good content, or how to write without grammatical mistakes, or typos or any of that falderol writing gurus like to hit us with. (Yes, and I ended a sentence with a preposition.)

I DO know how to motivate you.

I know how to tell you to keep your butt on the chair.

I know how to tell you that what you have to say matters.

I know that you are a gift to humanity, and to express that gift.

I know that we are not given a desire without also being given the way to achieve it.

I know that the Universe doesn’t play games. It is clear, so clear that we get muddled in trying to understand it. We think it is supposed to be hard.

People have told us it’s hard-- the starving artist idea you know. “If it was easy everybody would be doing it”—those sorts of things.

Don’t listen.

You know something? Life’s supposed to be fun.

And what if most everything we have heard is wrong?

I invite you to sign in. I want to know you. I'd love it if you followed me.

Ta Da,


Thursday, June 11, 2015

Editing and Proofreading, Oh My

From #Bubble Cow I learned, and was overwhelmed by, the entire editing/proofreading process. Gosh–o-mighty writers, look at this.

First you write the book, you throw your heart and soul into it. It’s your baby. But, you wonder, will anyone want it?  What if my baby is boring?  It’s like home movies. They were our pictures. We took them. Seeing them rekindles experiences of standing atop the pyramid at Chichen Itza and looking out over the vast expanse of jungle and seeing the horizon, a pencil line North to South as far as the eye can see.  (Well, that was one picture.) Yet in our living room, (old days, projector running) from out of the darkness comes outright snoring.

Well damn!

So, it’s back to the drawing board, or give those people some coffee and chocolate. They didn’t come to your house to be inundated with your ruminating.

While I am out in the kitchen pouring coffee over chocolate ice cream, here are some tidbits on editing and proofreading you can chew on.

First  I know why a professional writer looks so good.


So, let’s look at the editing process:

Editing is the first step in the publication process, and the focus is on structure rather than fixing every little typo.

The editor will look at three things:

  • Structure

The way the book is written. For fiction it will be things like showing not telling, narrative tension and pacing.
For nonfiction, it is more about examining your argument, making it understandable, and making it easy to learn—if that’s what you are going for.

  • Flow

Flow is the way the book reads, the plot, how well your book fits into its genre. Does it have glaring errors?  Here, too, is fact- checking.

  • Line Structure

This is a line by line assessment. The editor will look at your sentence structure and make changes which they think will improve the book. They will look at punctuation of dialogue, and the clearest way to phrase a sentence. You can accept or reject these changes, so you still have some control.
You thought your book was ready to go to press right?

No, now comes the proofreading …

This removes spelling, grammatical and punctuation errors. The proofreader will also ensure a level of consistency within your book.

Some proofreading services such as Bubble Cow, will read your book twice. On the first read, the proof reader will correct errors and add consistency. On the second read, the proofreader will make sure nothing was missed and that the words convey the intended meaning. Proofreading should be the final task before publication.

Now, if you have paid for these services go out and sell enough books to cover the expense.

Oh, I don’t mean to be discouraging. You won’t be. You will take advice or not, for I know about writers. You write because it is your passion. All the rules, restrictions and rejections that come your way will not keep you you’re your appointed task, and that is to put words on the page.

Go for it!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Never Give Up

I saw the movie #Iris last night, about a “Geriatric starlet.”  Iris is a ninety-three year old designer who is giving more exhibitions of her outlandish combinations of apparel and jewelry that than there are pigeons on the Statue of Liberty. What fun. And what an inspiration. See, there is hope for all of us. Are you over ninety three?

She said that the young ones don’t have history behind them, and apparently in her classes she is providing that, showing designers good authentic fabric, encouraging them to collect from flea markets, to travel, and to express their individuality.

That I can remember the fifties, sixties, seventies-- oh dear,--eighties, nineties, and now into the new millennium, gives me something. I don’t know what.  I guess it gives me a sense of continuance, and tells me that the decades have their own color, flavor, music, and style.

We exulted  the fifties with Happy Days, and the “Fonz, and Richie.” Didn’t we love cruising and circle skirts with poodle dogs, and bobby socks, and cherry cokes? And then came the sixties, excitement, the space race, young people thronging into the Peace Corps, but then came the shooting of JFK and RFK and Martin Luther King Jr., and the Viet Nam war, and Lee Harvey Oswald shot in front of the entire country. Not good. So see, the past is not to be glorified, but remembered and learned from. The Hippies came along and said, “Throw flowers not bombs,” they sang, "We shall overcome," and the peace symbol became an icon.  It is almost like the Avatars say, “In times of trouble I will send a comforter, a peacemaker.”

What does this have to do with writing? I don’t know. It seems pertinent somehow, as though I am suppose to say it. I am supposed to encourage people to keep on keeping on. Art happens at ninety three. Grandma Moses didn’t begin painting until she was in her seventies.

What if someone, a publisher or an agent had told Iris when she was seventy-three that they didn’t want to bother with her? How many young people can promise to be productive for the next twenty years? At Ninety-three she is going a little slower, but strong.

Never, never, never listen to the nay sayers. Scores of successful people were told they would never make it, that they had no talent, and to get the heck out of my office. Fred Astair: “He has big ears, can’t act, and dances a little.” John Travolta, “You can’t act.” (His response: “They’re nuts.") Ester Williams, “You can’t act.” Sylvester Stallions, “Okay Okay, we’ll produce your movie, but we don’t want you to act in it.”

Many years ago there was a boy of ten who was working in a factory in Naples. He longed to sing, but his teacher discouraged him, saying, “You haven’t any voice at all. It sounds like the wind in the shutters.”

But his mother, a poor peasant women, put her arms around him and praised him, and told him he could sing. She went barefoot in order to save money to pay for his music lessons. His mother's praise and encouragement changed the boy’s life. He name was Enrico Caruso and he became the greatest and most famous opera singer of his age.

Perhaps I am writing this to encourage myself, and to tell myself to never give up.
And I am saying that to you, never give up the thing you love.