Monthly Archives: August 2014

I am a book addict. Can you help?

There seem to be support groups for all types of addictions. I have an addiction to potatoes chips, oatmeal and raisin cookies, chocolate chip cookies, and of course books. I wish I had more fun addictions like sex addiction, but Satin did not bless-or is it curse me- with that addiction. 

I have three friends who also have this addiction, but the two worse are an old geezer and myself. I recently counted my old fashioned books. You know those that you hold in your hand without an electronic device; they have covers and pages that you have to turn without clicking. I have over ninety unread books. I do not know the exact count because I lose track when numbers reach that high. Of course after counting I went to a thrift shop and bought three paperbacks at .99 each. Who can resist that type of price.

Checking my Kindle I see 48 books, twenty of which I have yet to read, though I am working on “The Count of Monte Cristo.” There are other books I eagerly started only to  switch to another book that I was more eager to start.  There are about dozen of the old fashioned books in that limbo world and three or four of the e-books.

My greatest fear is that if I find a Book Buyers Anonymous group and when we meet we will talk about books so much that we all rush out together to our favorite stores and buy books. This fear is not without merit, for that old geezer I mentioned took me on a tour of a nearby downtown and two book stores. I forget how many books I came home with, but I did read one them, so I feel good about that.

I also worry that the aforementioned group would have treats at the meetings. You know, chips and cookies. No, it is better not to join any groups. But if you have any advice, having gone through book addiction, please share.

If you are still and addict and proud of it here are my e-books on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Terry-Nelson/e/B00EEVHN38

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Why you should never read your writing have publishing

Years ago I remember actor George Raft, famous for playing gangsters, say he never watched any of his movies. He did not like seeing himself on screen. Subsequent to that I heard other actors say they do not watch the dailies, or there movies, but the reason was different. They realized once the movie was done they could not change anything. They were worried that in seeing the movie they would get upset how they played a scene, that they would see a better way of doing it.

I discovered that in writing the same applies. I have written a scene, the lobster eating scene in “Loonies in the Dugout” that I love. I would not change it, but I have seen other passages, other sentences that I see could have been improved. I have found information about an era or about a person in one of my books that I wished I had at the time. But at some point a writer must let go. It is possible to over research.

Since I write e-novels and stories I could go back to my formatter, change things, and republish. But, and this is a big but, do you then, every time you see something you could change, you do so. I call that rewriting. I believe-other than for grammar- once you publish, forget it. The point is to rewrite, do diligent proofreading, get it right to the best of your ability, publish, then move on to your next project. After a day at the beach lazing in the sun of course.

A book is like a child. You can do everything you can think of to  prepare the child for the real world, so it can function on its own. You guide the child to adulthood and then wave goodbye. You do the same with a book. You prepare it for the book reader world, and then you publish and say goodbye. In both cases you hope for the best.

My children-I mean e-books-are found here: http://www.amazon.com/Terry-Nelson/e/B00EEVHN38

 

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How did Shakespeare learn creative writing

Having recently moved to a different town I found myself in the local library the other day exploring where everything is. I always look for sports, for books on writing, for fiction, local history; well, just about everything. While standing looking at the creative writing books, the thought hit me. How did I not think of it before.

Whether you are in the library or a bookstore or subscribe to magazines like Writers Digest, you have found hundreds of books, blogs, advice columns, writing groups, and all offering help on creative writing. Thousands of people eager to help, to point you in the right direction, give great writing tips. The list is endless.

So standing in the library looking at creative writing books the thought it me. How did Shakespeare learn creative writing?  Never in my college days studying English did I learn anything about self-help creative writing books of the fifteenth century or any subsequent centuries.

One could argue that Shakespeare read Aristotle’s “Poetics.” But there is no evidence he did. Of course there is a cult or two who claim old Will could not have written those plays; that they were written by Christopher Marlowe, Francis Bacon, or a roomful of monkeys with quill and parchment. Many of these cult members also believe the films of Russian filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein are actually the work of Charlie Chaplin.

By the by, “Hamlet,” according to many scholars, was a rewrite of an earlier play by Thomas Kyd. It is an interesting theory, but that play, if it exists, has not been found, though it would not be surprising if Kyd did write an earlier version. And yes the character Hamlet is based on a real Danish prince.

Whoever wrote the play the same applies to Marlowe and Bacon. How did they learn to write without teaching aids?

Perhaps the early writers going back to ancient Greece were geniuses. Perhaps they knew how to tell stories. Perhaps writing is simply telling a story.

If you have lots of creative writing books, even a few, keep them. Read them, forget them, and just tell your story your way. It seemed to work for the ancients.

My ancient writings are found here: http://www.amazon.com/Terry-Nelson/e/B00EEVHN38

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What is failure for a writer

The average yearly income for an actor is below the poverty level. That is because for every successful actor you see there are hundreds not so successful. The same is true of writers. Not everyone has a following like Stephen King. I would wager most writers, especially in the e-book revolution, also have incomes below the poverty level. I know mine is. Does that mean those of us writing for a few dollars here and there are failures?

Thomas Edison, or rather those who worked for him, had over 10,000 attempts before the light bulb went on and stayed on. One could say that Edison failed 10,000 times, but as he told a reporter, “I know over 10,000 ways that a light bulb will not work.”  I would hate to write one page 10, 000 times before I got it right, but for writers it is different.

A light bulb will work one way and over 10,000 ways it won’t, but in writing, there are many ways to write. First person, second person, or no person (don’t’ ask). Many genres to write in, many ways to approach a story, rules to follow, rules to break-as many as you can- and critics be damned. Writing is not a science, it is an art, and as such is open to interpretation.

I haven’t had many reviews, but they were positive; though I have not checked lately, and things could have changed, but it matters not. Even if you get bad reviews it does not mean you are a failure. Many famous writers received bad reviews on books that are now considered classics.

Since bad reviews do not indicate failure, and book sales do not indicate failure, what does?

Quite simply it is the failure to write. To get lazy, discouraged, lethargic, to put it off when you know you should be at the keyboard. You don’t get reviews-good or bad-by not writing. You don’t get sales-few or many-by not writing. The point is to create something. So quit reading and get to work. After visiting my Amazon page of course, then you can write.

http://www.amazon.com/Terry-Nelson/e/B00EEVHN38

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Why writers daily word count doesn’t matter

Recently I read that Ernest Hemmingway had a daily word count of 500 words come hell or high water. 500 words per day? That can be done before the morning cup of coffee or tea is gone. I seriously doubt he stopped after 500 words, for to do so is to waste a good days work.

When I was in college  I read Johann Goethe would write one page per day. He said the key was to write the perfect page, to rewrite the page over and over until he had everything the way he wanted. Then he never looked at it again. Perhaps for Hemmingway he would write the 500 words then rewrite until it was what he wanted, what he thought was perfect.

Every writer has either a daily word count goal or a set time for writing, say four hours, approaching writing like a job. Whether writing fiction is a job or a hobby there is a structure, a goal, something that frames how and what you write. But in the end word count does not matter, nor how many hours you wish to devote daily to writing.

What matters is how Goethe approached the day. It is rewriting, and that means his goal was quality. I hear of writers who claim to write 5,000 words per day. How wonderful. But quantity does not equal quality. A trained monkey could write 5,000 words, but only taking banana breaks, and generally monkeying around. But those 5,000 words may not engage the reader.

The point of fiction writing is to tell a story, to take the reader to another place, to engage with a good story and interesting characters, to make the reader laugh, to feel, to think, and the number of words is irrelevant. A writer either writes quality or  he or she doesn’t.

As Hamlet said, “There’s the rub.”  A readers preference, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. There are popular writers I find boring and relativity unknown writers I enjoy. So what is quality? An English professor will give you one idea, a literature professor may give you another, a critic may give a third, but if a reader likes your story, whether others find little quality in your work, that one reader makes it worthwhile.

So my daily goal is not in words, not in time, but in getting the sentences how I want, to get the scene how I want. And hope for the best

If you car to judge my quality my amazon page for my e-books are here: http://www.amazon.com/Terry-Nelson/e/B00EEVHN38

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What writer wanted publishers to ban paperbacks.

Shame, shame.

Prior to World War II when hardback books cost $2.50 there was something new in the marketplace. It was the paperback which cost a quarter. This was radical. It meant books could get in the hands of people who could not afford that high priced $2.50. I know, I know, but this was over 70 years ago, but $2.50 was a lot of money in those days.

There was resistance, especially from writers who wanted higher royalties. Forget that more people could purchase books, that an authors readership would expand; like everything it is about money. One author said if “publishers had any sense, they would combine against them and suppress them.” 

Yes this author wanted to “suppress” paperback books. He wanted publishers, in essence, to conspire, plot, and scheme against paperback publishers. This from a writer whose books were anti-authoritarian, who was worried about Big Brother oppressing the public. Yet here he was trying to oppress readers because he thought it would destroy literature, lower writers profit, and let loose the dogs of war upon the reading public.

Shame, shame, George Orwell.

The Orwell quote came in an email from Kindle Direct Publishing because there are publishers who want to charge more for e-books to gain higher profits for writers and, of course, themselves. The article cites Hachette who has been caught illegally colluding to raise prices. They have at the time of the e-mail paid $166 million  in penalties.

I, like any poor writer, would like a larger income, but I love low prices. I buy e-books because of the price; books from well known authors, books from new writers, it matters not, if it sounds interesting, I will buy the book. I sell my books at $2.99, but have thought about raising them to $3.99. I have not done so and have no plans at present to do so. 

Like the paperback revolution decades ago, the e-book is revolutionizing reading. Orwell was shortsighted then and those who collude against low e-book prices are just evil Animal Farm operators.

If you want to check out my low priced (for now) e-novels and short stories they are found here: http://www.amazon.com/Terry-Nelson/e/B00EEVHN38

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Why the word “mephitic” is important for writers

If you know the meaning of the word “mephitic,” congratulations; if you don’t know the meaning, no fair peeking into your dictionary. In truth the meaning of the word is irrelevant. But I will tell you why it is important for writers and how I came across the word.

I discovered the word in this sentence: “The air he inhaled was no longer pure, but thick and mephitic,—he was in prison.”* I did not know the word so I looked it up. It means an offensive smell; stench. The word and the sentence are quoted from the 8th chapter of “The Count of Monte Cristo” by Alexandre Dumas.

So why is the word important? It comes down to the choice a writer makes. Why not use stench, rather than the somewhat recondite “mephitic.” Would it be more clear if stench is the word or is “mephitic” the correct word to use? We can’t ask Dumas, not just because he is dead, but he was French, so he used neither word. I don’t speak French-okay I know merde-which captures both the essences of either mephitic or stench. The word mephitic was used by a translator and I assume he or she chose the word because it was closer in meaning to mephitic than stench, though I am not sure of what the difference is. Perhaps because Dumas was a great writer and the “Count of Monte Cristo,” being considered a classic, mephitic was chosen because it has that intellectual, professorial, linguistic air about it. It is a highfalutin word for the highfalutin reader, whereas stench is for the common man, the common reader, the kind that need dictionaries.

I bring this up because writers need to choose the right word for the right meaning for the right audience. In the first sentence in the above paragraph I wrote, “rather than the somewhat recondite ‘mephitic.’ ” I had used esoteric not recondite, but changed it because I believe recondite more closely approximates my intended meaning. Synonyms have shades of meanings, so choose the right shade to convey your sunny meaning.

With that last sentence it is clear I need to stop for the day.

I hope you get the drift of my intent, if not merde.

My Amazon page:

http://www.amazon.com/Terry-Nelson/e/B00EEVHN38

*Dumas, Alexandre; Maplewood Books (2014-07-08). The Count of Monte Cristo (Annotated with Exclusive Bonus Features) (Kindle Location 1068). Maplewood Books. Kindle Edition.

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