Copyright and Icons, tricky biz*

Paper Bones Cover

As part of my poetry book (Paper Bones), I decided to include some photography. The idea is that poetry is enlivened with images, breaks up the pattern of the poems, and adds dimension to the book (not to mention allows me to show a second form of creativity by using my photographs).  I have photos of a butterfly I took at the Butterfly Farm in St Martin, the Apollo Monument in Titusville, Fl, a real Medieval bible just to name a few. And then there were some photos I “staged” with models or still life. There were also a couple collages I created. One photo showcased pictures of me when I was a little girl in my dancing costumes, along with my toe shoes and the cover of a book that inspired me. One showcased records and comic books and my Girl Scout sash.

And that’s where the problem arose. I worried about the cover of the ballet book and asked advice of a lawyer,  ensuring that I wasn’t infringing on toes by using the cover in my picture (it wasn’t the focus of the picture, just an item in it). No, I was told, you’re okay, just give a nod to the author out of respect. So I did.

But that isn’t where the problem came. There was only one photo that caused a problem — the one with the images of Superman and Batman peeking through 45rpms, platform shoes and a Girl Scout sash.  Ah, grasshopper, said my consultant (Not really, but it sounds better and it felt this way), you may not use ICONIC images that are clearly TRADEMARKED and LICENSED without incurring copyright infringement and potential lawsuits.

Gulp.

Puzzling, isn’t it? We wear ball caps and t-shirts, get signs for our cars and put magnets on our fridges, buy stationary, even toothbrushes with their faces on them. Batman this and Superman that. And for goodness sake, this was a photograph of a very old comics (actually it is of those oversized comics, you know the DC Treasury size, limited collector editions 14″ x 20″. Yeah, they were BIG). Anyway, the oversized comics are part of a collage photo.

And because they are iconic, trademarked images – unlike the ballet book’s drawn cover – I cannot use them without permission, said the Justice League. Whodathunkit??

So I’ve asked, but I’m not certain to hear from anyone anytime soon (tho I do hope). Meanwhile, I am off trying to create another photo to take its place. Something with the same feel…like old fashioned popcorn bags and pop corn, 45rpms, some glass beads, old magazines (out of print) and the old platforms shoes. Maybe I’ll hit on a cool look. It won’t be iconic but it will be legal.

Though honestly, nothing will ever beat out the old stack of 45’s covering a hint of an old comic book with a hero on the cover. Ah well.

The point for you? Writer’s beware. There’s a lesson in this tale. Even mentioning icons in your writing may need appropriate trademarks or copyrights (you can wear a Batman costume but to have Batman show up is a whole ‘nutter issue!)  Know your stuff.

Watchtower out.

DC Comics JL Watchtower

DC Comics JLA Watchtower**

***

(*Originally posted Jun 10, 2013, seemed right to recycle. Update: As of this date I have yet to hear back on my request, so good thing I didn’t hold the book up, right? I did create my own, legal, photographs. The book is nearly two years old now.)

(**Disclaimer: Watchtower picture reprinted from web, no copyright infringement is intended, not for monetary profit. Image by DC Comics, Justice League Animated series, the first watchtower)

I Am A Unicorn – A Reason to Write

Yesterday I was tired of all the posturing and prostalitizing by what felt like was everyone on my Facebook timeline. I was tired of the preaching and “flag waving.” Support us! Don’t eat this! Demand X company do this! Sign this petition. I dare you to post this but I know you won’t. (Do you know how much I hate these sorts of emotional blackmail posts?). Rah, rah for this Presidential candidate. Condemn this person for having an opinion. Give! Contribute! Sacrifice! Change! Support! Demand! Deny! Decry! Snub! Petition now! Anti everyone!

AAAAAAAAAAAAARRRG!

As a person, I find this incredibly tiring and off-putting. As a writer, I find affirmation in why I want to write: TO ESCAPE ALL OF IT! Therefore, when I saw this graphic, I knew what I had to do:

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In reality, I’m a Phoenix. You may know me as PoetPhoenix. I am also known as the Dragon Lady (my military past). Occasionally I step out as a vampire (do you know Rhea?). But yesterday I decided I would be a unicorn and escape.

Unicorns are gentle and kind yet can be fierce protectors. They recognize good and rally to fight evil in all forms. They do not care what color your skin is. They have no need for your religion or your politics for they are above such things. They are free and wild. As this unicorn also has wings to fly, I am free of any and all cynosure. As a unicorn, I can look down on all the hypocrisy, and the flag-waving ideologists who are so busy pressing their agendas that they forget to smell the flowers, touch the rainbow or worry about someone other than themselves. As a unicorn, I can reach out to others and not care if they reach out to me. I can be unaffected by their selfishness or self-centeredness. I can step away from everyone’s “Abyss of Misery” and not feel guilty for it. As a unicorn I can feel good about being happy for no reason (because I realize that I can command my own happiness and to embrace life with positivity is to bring good things to my world). Unicorns are social but only with those who are sociable.

As a unicorn, I can excuse a burp by saying it is what gives fairy wings lift. I can stomp in protest and wake trolls. I can dance because I feel like it and spread moonbeams with every twirl. As a unicorn, I can tell truth without worrying about hurt feelings because Unicorns stand for honesty and justice with grace. I cannot be mean and have no desire to be. As a unicorn I can be whatever color I want – including white – without being accused of being racist or bigoted. I can be purple because I feel purple and no one will laugh. I can hug another unicorn and no one will threaten me with damnation for a same species (or sex) hug (because you cannot tell whether or not a unicorn is male or female like you can with horses!). If today I am a male unicorn no one will care if I braid my mane. If female, no one will wonder at my leather tracers.

As a unicorn, I am free of the mundane, the banal, the vitriol (except from goblins). I can kill goblins and no one calls it murder. I can stomp on dark elves and I will be cheered. I can stab daemons in the eye and I will be hailed a hero. I don’t need a religion or a political platform. I need not choose ugliness to bank over female rights or wages, or child care. And I don’t need anyone’s permission to feel as I do. Or Facebook (or Tumblr, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat). Ever.

This is my freedom as a writer.  This is the joy of writing. Escape. Freedom!

I am a unicorn until further notice.

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Are you out of synch? Generational Writing

Last week I read an insightful (and humorous) blog post by Julie Butcher from her personal blog Fire Drill (fabulous writer/author/columnist, if you are wondering, and she also is an Evil Writer and everyone knows I swear by those folks), and it got me thinking. Julie writes that today’s authors need to consider what is current for teens when writing YA. That 30 years ago, teens didn’t do coffee the way they do now (even down to 10-years old though I wouldn’t allow that, still..). Today’s youth truly are more health conscious despite all the overweight people in the world (me included), and they are reading labels and worried about GMOs and being “gluten-free.” Thanks for the reminders, Julie.

After I considered how much I hate intrepidly healthy people (just kidding! Maybe.), I thought about the reverse of what Julie was saying. I’m a boomer and I know many young people who are writing about other generations in their stories. Some are doing biographies while others are doing family histories. The point is, depending on the decade, things were very different when I was a kid, teen, young adult.

For example, I heard on the news that when Affirmed won the Triple Crown, gas was 91 cents. That was 1978. But just ten years earlier, gas was averaging only 34 cents! And a stamp was a nickel. It certainly alters perspective, right?

Stamp_US_1966_5c_Washington

I was discussing the new cell phones with a young college woman (20 years old) and she asked me about my first cell phone. I laughed and told her about the “shoe size bricks” that were phones. And then I really floored her when I mentioned the “bag phone” we had in the late ’80s. It sat on the floor, on the “hump” in our car, right where the big plush bench seat separated so each of us could adjust our own. She was still reeling from shock I think because she said, “hump on the floor?” Ah the cars of yesterday! Something else to consider, yes? Those late 80’s don’t seem that far away to me because I remember them, but to her my world might as well be a separate galaxy.

"hump" and split seats

“hump” and split seats

BagPhone

Much was written of the early rock festivals. Take Woodstock, historical and beloved. There were no cell phones. There were no tablets. There were no Bluetooth devices or iPods.  Woodstock was 1969. The first Walkman – a fabulous portable cassette with foamy headphones, didn’t happen for another decade on July 1, 1979.

original Sony Walkman

original Sony Walkman

In keeping with what Julie mentioned, let’s talk coffee and food. Historians believe the first recorded coffee-house was in Constantinople, Turkey in 1475. So coffee isn’t a new thing. Starbucks, however, is. Coffee houses or coffee shops really didn’t “develop” into a conscious thing in the US until about 1990 (though it was in the more artsy places like Soho, San Fransisco, and New Orleans earlier).  Starbucks opened one shop in 1971 in Seattle (where many think the coffee craze started). I consider the coffee craze a part of the boomer experience, “boomerly” speaking.

1970 coffee shop

1970 coffee shop

But let’s go back a little further. I grew up in the Midwest on corn-fed beef and potatoes. As kids, we ran everywhere, pretty much without fear of anything. My town wasn’t small but it was a town and not a city. Still, we didn’t have gang violence, drive by shootings, drug dealer corners, or worry about being abducted. People got their mail at the house from a mailman who walked, newspapers were delivered to the porch (or the flowers if the aim was bad) by kids on bikes, kids walked to school when they could (because many could!). My first experience with a school bus wasn’t until I hit 8th grade. By then I was in Florida and in a more urban environment. We rode bikes to school in the 6th and 7th grade because that was accepted and gave us freedom.

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But back to food. Sonic drive ins have been around since 1959. I never saw any until I was an adult but there were many “copies” around, perfect hang outs for dates. Drive in’s were big when I was a teen and young adult. Movie theaters had balconies and you could smoke. We did. We didn’t eat wrap sandwiches and yogurt smoothies. We ate soft creamy ice cream or frozen custard, snow cones and Nutty Buddies. We bought hot dogs and hamburgers loaded with everything, the messier the better. And no popcorn was worth eating unless loaded with butter and salt. We ate red meat — meatloaf, sloppy joes, spaghetti with meat, meatballs, hamburger, steak (might be flank or flat-iron but it was steak).

sonic cup 1960

sonic cup 1960

No one read labels because there weren’t labels like there are today. That is an innovation of the last decade. No one really cared. Ever.

And no one I went to school with had a peanut allergy. PB&J sandwiches (peanut butter and jelly) were readily shared! Oh, and no backpacks. We carried all our books (lockers didn’t come until junior high and then we still carried to class), and our wee metal lunch boxes with thermos! Sandwich, box of raisins, apple, milk (no bags of chips, though sometimes I did get a bag of peanuts).

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The point is, as Julie Butcher mentions, “Pay attention to the world.” Stay current with today’s inventions and trends if you are writing YA. If you are writing about young adults 30-40 years ago, understand THAT world. If you want to write historical novels about the last fifty years, then realize how very different the times and people were. Even language can date you if you are writing lots of dialogue (and I know you are). Neato, groovy, cool, hip, man.

Know your world. Mine, theirs, yours. You dig? Jeah (not a misspelling)!

Are You Writing or Stalling?

Before today’s post, I would like to take a quick moment and thank the 323 visitors I had last week. I am humbled as I realize you came to read my tribute poem to Ray Ferrer, a talented friend and artist who died from a cancerous brain tumor. My heart goes out to Rhian, his wife, and his family. Every visit and visitor honored his memory. Thank you.

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Are You Writing or Stalling?

A couple of weeks ago, I asked readers of my author Facebook page (you are following me, right?) what is your favorite procrastination that keeps you from writing?  Answers included:

  • I have research to do….
  • I have to read all these articles about writing then have no time left to write.
  • I need to mow the yard. Or wash the car. Or go grocery shopping. Or do the laundry. Or take the dogs out. Or clean the house. Or…Or…Or…

My last commentary post was about things that “writers” say that irk me, annoy and push my buttons. But newsflash! I’m a HUGE procrastinator. Yup, I can make a reason not to write sound like a world summit event that commands I host it. No lie. I could manage to whip up an excuse not to write a grocery list if I really wanted to say I had no time to write.

Beyond the reasons I mentioned in my Irksome list, we all have moments of “putting off.” Sometimes you just don’t feel like it. Sometimes you feel lazy. Maybe you’re just getting over being ill. Maybe you’ve had a very hard week at work. Maybe the kids have driven you into the ground. Everyone gets slumps. Everyone needs a break. Everyone needs time to rejuvenate.

For some, that means leaving your work in progress by stepping away. Maybe it is time to read that one book you’ve itched to for months. Maybe you need a spa day (or week). Maybe it is time to visit some friends and get some people time. Whatever the reason, recognize why you are doing it. Be honest with yourself.

Maybe you don’t want to work on that piece you’ve written. Maybe it is time to put it away. Shelve it. I have projects that I’ve put away because I didn’t like them, stopped feeling them or just wasn’t into them any longer. That’s okay too. If the passion is gone, try a new project or take that break.

Don’t feel compelled to find reasons to escape. Just escape and allow yourself a little time.

HOWEVER….

If you are running away from writing because you are lazy….well now we have a new problem. Playing solitaire, watching endless re-runs on TV, spending hours with YouTube cat videos? Then maybe you don’t want to be a writer? Time for some soul-searching.

Here’s a thought — maybe you aren’t meant to be a writer. Maybe you are meant to be a reader! Maybe you are one of the beloved reviewers! Maybe what you could be doing is running some writer’s street team or running a blog for reviewers or running event giveaways. You don’t need to feel bad because you don’t really want to write. Maybe what you could do interviews of other writers. Maybe you could blog reviews on books. How about it?

Still not feeling it?

Maybe you should find a new passion. No shame in walking away. Go find your dream. If it isn’t being a writer, that’s okay. Most people have uncompleted manuscripts tucked away somewhere. I have several of those and many others that I’ve written that will never see the light of day (I call those my training wheels).

The truth is over 80% of folks want to be “a writer.” Less than half of those want to do the hard work to get there. Of the 40% remaining, only half of those will actually produce a work in print. That’s 20%, and of those less than one-quarter will make any money. With luck, one half of one percent will make a big profit. Your odds of being a writer are terrible. And worse if you hope to make money!

So if you want to walk away, it’s okay.

I know some folks who used to say “I’m going to be a writer” because it was cool, it was the trend, it sounded adventurous, it seemed to elevate them above the fray. There was a time when saying “I’m a writer” was truly cool. However, very few folks actually went out and did it.

I know some folks who go to writers groups and read technical magazines for the same reason as those who proclaim their intentions to write. Because being a member means something might rub off, there you’ll discover a magic pill that leads to publication. No, sorry. Hard work, study and practice is what it takes. Maybe you should read the paper instead.

Please know that there is no shame in not being a writer. No apology needed.

If you really do want to write, then get to it. No more procrastination. There is always a reason not to write. The real writer will write first and dust tomorrow. Or just before company comes. Or not. Where there is a will, a desire, a passion, there is a way. The will to write overwhelms everything if it is true.

Do figure out where you are. If you are on a break, fine. Enjoy. Hurry back. If you are just being lazy, decide if you are in or out. If out, be proud. I’ll be happy to recommend a few good books for your reading pleasure.

In the meantime, there are no summits for you to host (I’ve got them covered). Therefore, no more excuses, right?

Book Review – Tobacco Barns of Western KY

Tobacco Barns of Western KentuckyTobacco Barns of Western Kentucky by Lynn Bartlett

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An incredible book by a talented photographer over three years in the making, this volume is a colorful panoply of delights. The old barns of Kentucky’s tobacco past are disappearing as the land and “progress” reclaims them. Here, Bartlett has captured the look and feel of a people’s history, a land reclamation and a sense of retrospective. But there’s nothing sterile here. Instead you get a true sense of the land, the love the author feels for the subject and the sense of protectionism that she feels for her subject. The compassion arrayed in her layout if obvious and you come away with a real sadness for a lost history but sharing her love and joy for the land and the memories of a people’s once thriving industry.

The photography is sharp and vivid, the colors a mix of stormy and early morning, with a few interesting black and white mixed in. Comments are kept to a bare minimum but provide needed and necessary historical insight.

I was blown away at both the size (12×9) and the minimum price. If you are a lover of our country’s hidden past, and a Kentuckian, you must get this book. I wanted it because my father was from KY, and I know the author from when we were children. With this book, Bartlett has established herself as both a professional photographer of renown and an insightful author. I hope she will do another such book in other areas of our country because I see her as becoming a much sought after pictorial historian.

View all my reviews

12 Irksome Comments Said by “Writers”

Here are 12 comments said by “writers” that irk me and flip my switches!

Commentary

Commentary

l. I don’t know what to write about/there’s nothing to write about.

WHAT? Seriously, folks. Life is a treasure trove of stories, both mundane and extraordinary. Begin in the moment….”I sat at the kitchen table staring out the window…” or “the coffee pot gurgled and I sighed as I poured my first cup. Monday’s. I hated them.” The possibilities are endless! I can’t empathize with anyone who says this to me.

2. What’s the deal with your vocabulary? Why do you say “stodgy” instead of “old-fashioned?” Why do you say “myriad” instead of “many?”

So why don’t you use those words? Why is your vocabulary so limiting and poor? As a writer, words are your craft, your money, your paint, your world. Words are like music. Why use a B flat instead of B? Maybe it sets the mood better? Or has the kind of melody needed for the moment or the character? Use words to their full advantage and don’t dumb down for people. Ever. Don’t know a word? Don’t expect the author to teach you. Go look them up!

3. I have writer’s block.

No. See #1.

4. I just want to write what I want to write and if people don’t like it, too bad.

Actually I don’t have a lot of trouble with that thought. In theory, it is excellent. In practice, it is horrible. You have to find the balance between what you like to write and what people want to read. If you publish some drivel that you enjoy and no one else does, why bother to publish it unless you just want something to put on your coffee table with your name on it? Don’t waste your money going through a publisher and all that if that is all you want. Just make a word document and go over to Kinko’s or someplace like that. But if you really want to publish, learn where your style fits and what’s already published. Then find your niche in the genre. There is always a way to blend and yet be unique in a crowd. Find it.

5. That is obscene. That is just porn. Well, I don’t write that crap. “Oh you write THAT stuff.”

Now now. There’s room for everyone. If you don’t like erotica or other racier forms of writing, then DON’T WRITE IT AND DON’T READ IT. But do not presume to be the moral or literary compass for everyone else. I don’t like BDSM and so I avoid certain kinds of books. But I will not stand for censorship. Books are there to share. Look at Madam Bovary, Lady Chatterley’s Lover or even Harry Potter! All three are banned books. Are banned books. Should I tell you can’t read Harry Potter because some person’s religious sensibilities were offended? No, you write what you want but always be mindful that if you tread in turbulent waters not everyone will be anxious to ride your waves. Be accepting, consider your audience and move on.

6. I want to be a writer but I don’t have time. Or I’d love to sit home all day and write.

First off, becoming a writer does not necessarily mean you sit home all day and write. Most people have lives that are busy with jobs, kids, hobbies, friends, troubles, and writing has to find a way in. However, writers make room for writing because they can do no less. Writers have learned they have to write. Writers look forward to that release, the expression, the exploration, the discovery that writing provides. There is ALWAYS TIME to write. No matter how busy you are, you have time. Do you go to lunch? Do you blog? Do you keep a diary or a journal? Do you read the paper with your coffee/tea/soft drink? Do you have 10 minutes at the end of your day when you play solitaire on your computer?

No matter your job or your family life, there are times you can program to write. Regular time. Every day. First in the day, last in the day, over a sandwich or instead of something else, but you can always put writing in your life. That is if you honestly WANT and NEED to. Sometimes it is easier to say you are a writer than to actually be one. Stop talking about it and be one. The daily/nightly practice will lead to a wish to write more. Trust me on this.

7. I don’t want to share what I’m working on because someone might steal my idea.

Really?? Are you so certain that you have a wholly original, hot idea that has never been done before and is so dynamic and wonderful that someone can make a best-seller out of it?? Then you better get an agent and get that thing published! And if it is that good, you should have no trouble finding an agent and a publisher, right?

Okay, back to planet Earth. It is improbable that your book/story idea is so darn hot that someone runs away with it. And they can only do that if you don’t finish what you start. Truly there are very few original ideas left. What people learn to do is take old stories and make them new by adding new twists or new characters. Stop worrying about who is going to rip you off and worry more about actually writing and finishing that project of yours. Then realize that you need to share it for proofreading. beta comments, and publishing. Stop thinking you are a phenom and just write, ok? (Unless you are a James Patterson, Stephen King or JK Rowlings prodigy, then what are you worried about?)

8. I’m afraid of what you’ll think when you read it. It’s my baby, you know. I want you to like it.

Anything created is a part of us. Painters, musicians, sculptors, writers….we create and give life to something we hope will be wonderful. Certainly approval is what we seek in sharing. But guess what? Approval comes later. First, learning the craft means critiques. Means criticism. Means suggestions for improvement. Means re-writes and it means – gasp – deletions. Folks, toughen up because any beta reader, editor, proofreader, formatter is going to tell you things that you don’t want to hear. And you have to be smart enough and savvy enough to take it, learn from it, and grow from it. Who among us has never been told our work needs work? Who hasn’t heard, “not for me, not our style, not up to our standards, not developed enough, not current, blah blah.” Or worse, “I read it and I didn’t really like it.” Hey, let’s keep it real. First, you are going to be edited to death. Live with it. Second, not everyone is going to “love” what you write. You write first for you and second for them. Not all of “them” are going to like “all of you.” So, be prepared and move on.

9. My editor says I need to delete this whole section. What the hell does he/she know? Its my story!

First, l hope you are working with a professional. And if so, then what he/she knows is legion compared to you. Second, a good editor will have two things in mind, to produce the best story and to produce a story that sells. If you are seeking to be published in a magazine the editor will want to make sure it is what the readers want and that it reads well. Experience is the teacher here. Listen and learn and yes, question, and then learn s’more. If you feel so violently that you know more than your editor and you cannot reach an understanding, then accept you won’t be published. That is the editor’s right and your lesson. That’s the breaks, kiddo. If you are publishing a book, your editor will have read the entire work and has an understanding of what works and why. Listen, learn, adapt and seek compromise once you have experience under your belt. If you are a greenhorn (a novice, an amateur, a first timer), you do not know more than your editor. If you feel you are being butchered, discuss it. Again if you think you know more/better than your editor you can pull you project. However, if you have learned your craft, and this is your submission after years of hard work, it will show in your writing. In most cases, your editor will have your best interest at heart but remember, their job is to make it right and make sure it sells. Remember that.

10. It is the story that matters, right? What is the big deal with looks and formatting? Who really cares?

I do. When it comes to Indie authors, there are two sides of this argument. One is that it is the story that counts and everything else is just stuff and nonsense. The other side is that your book is your name and reputation and should have a professional appearance that can stand up against any “traditonally” published book. This is one subject that I am anal about. If you are going to put a book in print, make sure you do it right. There are guidelines to follow on what a print book should and shouldn’t have inside. There are guidelines on how to make quality book covers. If you go through all the effort to write a superior story and have it edited, then make the book reflect your hard work. Invest in a cover that is better than your vacation photos. Make sure the copy on the cover is as well written and edited as diligently as the interior. Invest in a quality author photo, not one from your smartphone. Layout the book in accordance to the CMS (Chicago Manual of Style). Understand what front and back matter is expected to be there and where it is located. If you write fiction know what should NOT be included that maybe belongs in a non-fiction book, etc. Looks and formatting do count. When I pick up a book and I open it, I don’t want to see things that belong only in an ebook or to find links in a print book that are gobbledygook (ity bity links that mean nothing in print) or numbered blank pages, or “#” at the end of a chapter. Make your print book good enough to sit on a stand in the library! Don’t go cheap binding, tossed together formatting, sloppy or illegible fonts, etc. Your name is on the book. It reflects you. The story matters most of all. So dress it in the finery that it deserves. Don’t let me be able to tell the difference between your Indie book and a traditionally published one from Knopf or Tor or anyone else. First impressions DO COUNT, you know.

11. I’m afraid what I write won’t be any good.

I’m afraid. Those are the key words. Realize that you will always be your own worst critic and your worst enemy when it comes to your writing. Until you make peace with yourself and believe in you, you will have to learn to deal with the scaredy- cat in you. Truth is no matter how much I learn about writing and how many things I write, a part of me is always a little afraid that it won’t “measure up” or be any good. What I have to realize is if I give my best work then it most certainly will measure up. And if I continue to learn and improve I will stop feeling so much fear and learn to channel that fear into excitement and nervous anticipation. We fear because we know we are not prepared. We don’t like the unknown. Reduce those fears by arming yourself with a well-honed craft. A pen that writes with confidence that comes from a place of knowledge is a pen to be feared by others but not by you!

12. Finally – and I hear this ALL the time – I don’t have time to read much less write. Or I wish I had time to read AND write.  It’s write or read. I can’t do both.

Okay, now hear this. Great and prolific writers are great and prolific readers. To write well you MUST read. Voraciously. Your mind is improved by reading. Your vocabulary is improved. Your imagination is improved. Your idea bank is expanded. You learn what is being produced in your genre, what is selling and what you like and don’t like about it. You gain an understanding of plotting and characters and story rhythms. Example, I hear someone say, “oh it dragged in the middle.” And then when you say that their story is dragging in the middle, they understand. Or they have ideas on how to fix it. They “get it.” Comparatively speaking, such lessons are invaluable. If you don’t know what makes a good plot arc because you haven’t read any good books, then how do you expect to understand how to make yours flow? If You are told it lacks a dynamic element, will you understand? What have you read that can compare? Reading gives you a sense of good writing. It rubs off! All well-established, famous, prodigious writers read A LOT. So get with it. Make time. It is in the best interest of your inner inkwell. No more excuses — go read a book (or twelve). (Not sure what to read? I publish my book reviews here for those who are looking for good stuff).

There you have it, the things that “writers” say that drive me batty, annoy me and flip my switches. PLEASE don’t be one of them!

I know you have some peeves, too. Care to share and discuss?

Tribute to Ray Ferrer, RIP

Umbrella by Ray Ferrer

Umbrella by Ray Ferrer

A Ray of Hope

When the sun comes up,
it never asks where the shadows come from
or where they go.
Some believe they run to twilight,
sheltering from the glare.
I don’t believe that’s so.
The light in your eyes is as bright as day.
Illumination out of darkness
is sometimes an echo
of residual sunshine
leftover from twilight
running away.
~
by Sherry Rentschler, May 22, 2015
~

For Ray Ferrer who died May 20, 2015

Click here to purchase that print or any others by Ray Ferrer.