How does the modern writer find readers?/Friday Update July 3, 2015

birth of a novelThis is a post int the ‘Birth of a Novel’ blog hop.

Once upon a time…. This is the way writers used to think about finding readers. They thought they had to be gentlemen, and adopt the views that gentlemen had about things. On matters on which gentlemen might differ, they thought the only thing to do was to not take a stand for either side.

So in an older novel, you might find that a writer that was later know for being a doctrinaire secularist would not put that view forth, but try to appeal to religious readers as well. A writer that you know supported a certain side in a controversy tried to put that aside. This was because they were writing for a mass audience, and offending any part of it was not seen as a good idea.

Now we live in a different age and there are different rules. There are many times more books out there demanding a reader’s attention. And our society is as divided as society was during the American Civil War— it’s just that the two sides are not divided neatly into separate states, so a shooting war, thank God, is not imminent— I think.

Writers are now pressed to take a side. And I’m beginning to think that can be a good thing— if you do it right.

Being a mean-spirited writer is not the way to do it right. There are a few authors I’ve dropped because their secularist, almost atheist opinion comes out in frequent comments about how religious believers are irrational, under-educated, and such. You don’t want to be too negative to the group of readers you are NOT aiming to win over.

But I think a writer these days should search through his opinions and find causes they can be passionate about, such as:

  • defending marriage, or forcing society to accept new forms of marriage
  • cherishing all innocent life, or abortion rights and ‘death with dignity’
  • defending the Christian (Jewish, Muslim) faith, or promoting secularism or even atheism

If you take a side on something you believe in, and you are willing to read actual books to find out what the most well-informed people on that side are saying, you might writing things that are appealing enough to the subgroup of readers that share your views that they will become your loyal readers.
Friday Update:

I’m afraid that the past week has not been as productive of new writing as I would have liked. I produced some poems and, inspired by something Pastor Tom Brock said on the television show ‘The Pastor’s Study‘, started on a short story which will probably be called ‘The Welcoming Church’ which centers on a young man who likes to steal and seeks a church home that welcomes ‘kleptophiles’. I am very optimistic that this story will be finished soon, and I’m already thinking about the book cover— since even short stories need book covers when they are going to be published as ebooks!

I’ve been busy with other things, especially with my ‘controversial’ Facebook page. I’ve been making several posts there a day to try to help people impacted by current events. Also I’ve had to deal with a sick cat and sick kitten, both of whom died yesterday, and also had to put the hay in the barn loft yesterday which required rapid clean-up of said barn loft.

If you are interested in the ‘Birth of a Novel’ blog hop, it takes place on Fridays and you can find out about it here: http://charitywrites.blogspot.com/

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Without Christians, Who Would Forgive You?

fortnightforfreedomENMostly the news media today portrays Christians as ‘haters’ for not supporting things such as abortion, euthanasia, adultery as a Constitutional right, and faux gay ‘marriage’. But have you ever thought about how much more savage our society would be without Christians sharing their belief in forgiveness?

Kirsten Powers has an article in USA Today: Christians forgive the unspeakable. It’s inspired by the people who lost loved ones in the Charleston church shooting who have expressed forgiveness to the shooter. But it’s not just that one incident.

Since the Early Church, Christians who are serious about their faith have felt an obligation to follow the example of Jesus Christ, who prayed that the men responsible for his crucifixion would be forgiven. That’s the ultimate in forgiveness— forgiving those who are currently murdering you. But many Christian martyrs have done the same thing.

We don’t all commit mass shootings, and the only people who do crucifixions these days are ISIS terrorists. But we ALL have done something to other people that wasn’t right or kind. Any one of these things could lead to quarrels or even violence. But the example of Christian forgiveness can teach people— even non-Christians— how blessed it is to forgive.

tamburina danco/Fortnight for Freedom day 1

fortnightforfreedomspanish

Fortnight for Freedom— a time of fasting and prayer for the restoration of Religious Freedom in the USA.

Poem shared at Poetry Pantry #257 at Poets United (which is not, actually, an English football team).

poem                                                         translation
tamburina danco                              tambourine dance

en la pin-arbaro                                        in the pine woods
la fraulaj tamburinoj                                the unmarried tambourines
dancas kamparan dancon                       dance a country dance
kaj esperas                                                 and hope

sed la fraulaj                                               but the unmarried
tamburoj                                                     drums
vendas drogojn                                          sell drugs
al la pluveroj                                              to the raindrops
kaj tute ne                                                   and don’t at all
rimarkas                                                      notice
la tamburinojn                                           the tambourines


Notes:

The poem this week is in Esperanto. This was inspired by a suggestion in Sandford Lyne’s Writing Poetry From the Inside Out, that foreign-born poets translate the keywords into their own language. No, I am not a native of the mythical Esperantujo [Esperanto-land] nor is Esperanto my native language. But I love playing with words and I don’t always care what language I get them from.

The Esperanto poem contains a word play that cannot be translated. Esperanto uses a lot of affixes— suffixes and prefixes— to build words. One common affix is -in- which indicated female gender. So— hundo is dog, and hundino is a female dog.

The word for ‘tambourine’ is tamburino, which reminded me that the word for drum is tamburo. One could interpret the word tamburino as ‘female drum’ although the -in- in tamburino has nothing to do with female gender. But I took the interpretation of tamburino as female drum and ran with it.

Esperanto Information: http://www.esperanto.net/info/index_en.html

Free language lessons in Esperanto: http://en.lernu.net/


Fortnight for Freedom

fortnightforfreedomEN

I am a convert to the Catholic faith. (Yes, I know that gay women are supposed to LEAVE the Church, not join it. I’m independent that way.) And so when the Catholic bishops announce an annual period of prayer and fasting for religious freedom, and my Catholic internet buddies participate, I mark the occasion on my blog.

A lot of people don’t get why religious freedom is an issue for Catholics (and others) because many people don’t know what religious freedom is. There have been political figures who’ve called on Catholics and other Christians to change their basic beliefs and replace their Bibles with rewritten versions that conform to the politicians’ core beliefs. And yet they don’t admit that what they are doing erases the traditional concept of religious freedom.

You may agree or disagree with this concept— after all, thoughts are still free, since thoughts are hard to detect and punish. But if you want a little more info on Fortnight for Freedom, here is the link: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/fortnight-for-freedom/

This blog will be covering the Fortnight for Freedom. I’m hoping to blog each day about it, and also include links to other people’s Fortnight for Freedom blog posts.


Poetic Resources:

New Poetic Market: Magdalena Lamont: Poetry from the Other Side is an online poetry ‘zine currently accepting submissions. Here is the submission information: http://linalamont.blogspot.com/p/submit-poems-here.html

Facebook page for Sijo Poetry: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sijo-Poetry/392044370990201

Goodreads poetry group Poetry Readers Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/28172-poetry-readers-challenge  Group encourages members to read and review 20 poetry books a year. If you have a poetry book of your own out, you perhaps know how vital it is to get the book reviewed on Goodreads and Amazon.com. This group makes it easier for that to happen.

Friday Update June 19th

0619150741This is a post for the Birth of a Novel blog hop.

My writing week:

Pretty good. On Monday I submitted poems to a poetry magazine, something I haven’t done since last fall. I wrote poems every morning from Monday to Thursday. I also finished a short story I had been working on a couple of months ago.

This last was quite a surprise to me. I’ve had severe struggles with writer’s block which have lead to me not being able to finish novels or short stories.

What is different this time is that I have been working to accept myself as a successful poet rather than seeing myself as a failed novelist and short story writer. Somehow that made a difference.

In other news, my mama cat Umberto decided yesterday it was time to move her kitten. The new home she chose for baby girl kitten Norbert was my favorite chair— a recliner which I also sleep in at night. So I woke up this morning to find Umberto nursing her kitten on my chest. That’s what happens when you have a mama’s baby cat who loves to hang out with her person, and that cat has a baby. She’s torn between staying with baby and getting attention from her person. (She went into labor on my lap, but I persuaded her to move to the kitten box by the time she actually gave birth.)

birth of a novel

Your Skin Color is Not Your Uniform

Thinking about the violent riots in Baltimore and Ferguson, I am saddened at how far we have to go into making a color-blind society where we are judged by the content of our character (if any) and not by our skin tone.

It has been illegal to have skin color preferences in hiring for longer than most Americans have been alive (with the exception of affirmative action based preferences). It ought not to matter. But for political reasons skin color divisions are being kept alive and well.

When we hear reports of incidents between police and suspects, isn’t it crazy to hear that the suspect shot by police had a ‘black’ skin color and the police officer who did the shooting had a ‘white’ skin color? Wouldn’t it be equally valid to report that the suspect had a blue shirt color and the police officer had a tan shirt color? Or that the suspect wore size 11 shoes and the police officer size 9s?

And imagine people listening to that last news report. “You just can’t trust those size 11 people,” says one man. “Those size 9 police officers just never give a size 11 man a break.”

And to think that all of one skin color group has to have the same opinion of such an incident— and that this whole skin color group needs to be placated or some of them will go out into the street and do property damage….. What a sad world we have.

But don’t go blaming people based on their skin tone here. It’s not the people, it’s certain political leaders that want to make careers for themselves as spokespersons for a ‘disadvantaged’ skin color. An example of this is Al Sharpton, allegedly a Christian minister but instead of spreading the Gospel he goes from place to place spreading skin color divisions. Other, only locally known men do likewise. Because without the skin color divisions, ‘black’ people would not need ‘black’ leaders, but could support ordinary candidates of any skin color based on their policies rather than their skin tone, just like ‘white’ people get to do.

One time I researched hard-core racist groups for a story I was writing. I came across the skinhead saying ‘Your skin is your uniform.’ This is bull.

In wartime we use uniforms to tell the two sides apart. But we are not in a skin color war. And if we were, what use would our skin be as a uniform? For most of us our skin color does tend to change based on sun exposure. And ‘black’ people can have such light skin that they are not easily distinguished from ‘white’ people.

Looking at a person’s skin color doesn’t give you accurate information about that person’s ethnic identity, economic level, education, religious convictions or politics. You have to actually talk to a person to find things like that out. And isn’t that what we should be doing more of— talking to one another to learn more about each individual’s uniqueness, rather than to score points off of one another as is the custom of the times?

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Birth of a Novel blog hop: Friday update

Over at Charity’s Writing Journey they’ve got a Friday blog hop where you update the world on your writing progress and then visit others on the hop. I’m up for that. Because otherwise I’d do nothing all day but look after 10 new kittens from 3 mama cats that have recently appeared in my life (I have barn cats).

My writing: I’m working to accept that I’m primarily a poet, not a novelist. So I’m resolving to write poetry every day and have done so every day this week. I haven’t gotten to it today yet.

I also started a short story and have worked on it for two days. The rough draft is going to be pretty rough, but that’s OK.

I’m also reading more poetry. I’ve joined a group over at Goodreads where we vow to read and review 20 poetry books in a year.

So that’s how my writing is going. Pretty good. Now if only I could close that portal to hell in my basement so the basement floor won’t get so wet….

fly agaric/Scrivener as a Poet’s Tool

fly agaricfly agaric

this is a picture
of a mushroom
which is poison
it is however quite delicious
choose large ones for grilling
and grease the skillet well
& die

(c) 1990

Shared on Poetry Pantry #255 at Poet’s United.

Notes:

I call this one an ‘encyclopedia poem’ because I created it based on randomly opening a volume of my 1950s edition Encyclopedia Britannica. Doing this, I came across an illustrated page depicting a variety of mushrooms. The fly agaric was one of them, and the notes at the bottom of the page mentioned that the mushroom was poisonous.

I made the graphic of the poem using ‘Paint’ which is under the ‘accessories’ label in my computer. In addition to using it here, I shared it on my Twitter account and on my Facebook page. (Do feel free to retweet/share my graphic.)

Scrivener as a Tool for Poets

You may— or may not— know about Scrivener, a computer program for writers. I used it to create a place to store my poetry. I created a Scrivener project called Poetry. I created folders for each year in which I had written poetry. I created separate documents in these folders for each poem. Yes, even the haiku. The title of the poem is the title of the file. For haiku, which traditionally don’t have titles, I use the first line as a title.

Yesterday as I was sorting through my files thinking about what poems I could submit to some of the poetry markets, I realized I needed to code my poem titles so I knew which ones had been published. This is my code:

+ published in a self-published poetry book/chapbook
* published in a poetry magazine
~ blogged

So if ‘dangerous waters’ has been published in a poetry magazine and one of my books, and I shared it on one of my blogs, the title would be: +*~ dangerous waters, and I could see instantly that it had already been published and so cannot be submitted to markets that don’t accept previously published work.

One advantage of Scrivener is that it makes it absurdly easy to create a book for self-publication. I was able to format my ebook-chapbook ‘surly petunia’ just by pressing a few buttons and it was accepted by Smashwords with no formatting problems. I then submitted the same file to Kindle Direct Publishing and, again, no problems. The print version I think takes more work but I’ll have to look up what exactly I need to do to create the needed file for that.