Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Write Time

I've generally been a morning person when it comes to writing books. My other writing comes at different times of the day, whenever I find a break in the day to put down some words on the computer screen.
But with books I need to get into a rhythm -- same time each day -- in pounding out the words, sentences, paragraphs, and chapters. This is for the first draft. I have to be in a daily routine until I'm finished. I usually like to have a minimum of two hours to write, but will do more on weekends. Don't forget that I'm a working stiff and there are only so many hours in a day to write. And I like to squeeze in a few hours of sleep as well. 
You might be surprised how many words you can write in two hours. If you're really focused, and I usually am once the story begins flowing, I may churn out 2,000 or more words. Now many of these words may not reach the printed page, but that's not important at this point. The main thing is to tell the story I want to tell. After that, I can work on structure, characters, scenes, dialogue, and other parts.
During the editing/rewrite phase, it's when the opportunity arises each day that I work on the manuscript. But I try to do something each day. After writing the first draft, I do take a week or so off  so that when I come back to it I will read the manuscript with somewhat fresh eyes. And I'll do that on subsequent rewrites until I'm satisfied with it.
Of course, it doesn't end there. If the book is accepted by the publisher, you work with the editor on various parts of the book. I've been very fortunate at Wings ePress to have editors who have provided me with insightful feedback on strengthening the manuscript in all areas.
Until the next time...

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Day at the Library

I spent five hours at the Paul Sawyier Public Library in Frankfort on Saturday, taking part in the fourth annual "Gathering of Authors."
About 30 authors participated in the event -- talking to readers and signing a few of their books. There was an assortment of writers -- nonfiction, fiction and poets. Some had books by the big New York publishing houses, others with small, independent presses, and a few were self-published authors.
As an author, I enjoy these kind of activities at libraries. At Paul Sawyier Public Library, with the help of the Friends of PSPL, writers such as Kim Edwards, Sena Jeter Naslund, Gwyn Hyman Rubio, Silas House, Frank X Walker, Crystal Wilkinson and many others have read from their works, discussed their books, and talked about writing with library patrons. Needless to say, we have a very good library where I live.
Let's be honest -- libraries are truly the virtual home for authors. It's the place where authors share space on the shelves. It's the place where most of our books will reside long after they are out of print and no longer available in book stores, and when we move on to that literary beyond.
I believe libraries are a wonderful venue for authors to meet the public and talk about their books and the craft of writing. And I think libraries should reach out and invite writers to readings, book clubs, and similar activities. It's a win-win proposition for everyone involved. Just ask the folks who attended the "Gathering of Authors."
Until the next time...

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Living in the '60s and 60s

I attended a fun concert last night at the Kentucky State Fair in Louisville. It was the 2011 Happy Together Tour, so it was an evening to sit back and enjoy some great music from a decade that shaped so much of my life.
Mark Lindsay, the lead singer for Paul Revere and the Raiders, put on an energetic set. The way he was jumping and moving on the stage, and belting out those tunes from his heyday, you'd never guess he was 69.
He remarked that he was thankful to have lived in the '60s and that now he's reliving the 60s, not only on stage but in life. I suppose that most of the performers were in their 60s, if not early 70s. By the way, also cranking out their hits from that decade were The Turtles (Flo and Eddie), The Buckinghams, The Grass Roots and The Association. 
But back to Lindsay's insightful comment. I'd never really thought about that those stages in my life. Yes, I was part of the '60s and now  I'm in my 60s (not as old as Mr. Lindsay!). But it's something to be ponder and be thankful for. I have all these memories from my life at a younger age (and the music helps rekindle some almost-forgotten times).
Much like photographs and old friends, music taps into my memory bank. As The Buckinghams sang, "Hey, baby, they're playing our song,"  let the music trigger some memories in you.
Until the next time...

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Awesome Advice

I wish I knew the answers to all the questions that writers have about their craft. I'd be a rich man. You'd see ads about me appearing as the keynote speaker at writers conferences around the world.
I'd be on the cover of Poets & Writers, Writer's Digest and The Writer. Hey, I would probably show up in the New York Times Review of Books, Time and Newsweek as this Kentucky sage who commands attention from writers everywhere. Oprah would find out about me and ask me to host a show about writing on her network. Since I'm don't hold a doctorate like Dr. Phil, how about "The Write Way with Michael" or something catchy like that? 
I'd be a rock star in the writing community. 
But,  alas, I'm just one of millions who simply enjoy writing, sharing words with others, and occasionally having a published book.
One thing I've learned since my first book was published in 1984 is that there are countless ways to write, promote, market, and sell books. Every author has experiences that may be slightly different -- or vastly different -- from another writer.
I read as much as I can from fellow writers as well as publishing houses, agents and others associated with the business and craft of writing. I have numerous books by the likes of agents Donald Maas, Michael Larsen, and Jeff Herman as well as writing tomes by Stephen King, Brenda Ueland, John Gardner, and Sol Stein. And I have Writer's Market, Guide to Literary Agents and similar books that I refer to for advice and guidance. 
I subscribe to Writer's Digest, The Writer and Poets & Writers as well to several websites. The point I'm trying to make is that there is an enormous amount of information out there for writers of all genres, shapes and sizes.
Like most writers, I enjoy talking to other writers in person. That can be at book signings, conferences and other events. Frankfort author Chris Helvey and I meet for coffee every few weeks at the Coffeetree, conveniently connected to Poor Richard's bookstore, and discuss writing, books, and all things pertaining to the craft.
I'm not sure if anything new has surfaced in recent years about writing. Most of it has been rephrased to coincide with a writer's own experiences. Sometimes that proverbial light bulb goes off over my head after reading or hearing something "new" that enlightens me about the craft.
Writing is a lifelong learning experience -- in my opinion. But you'll have to find out what other writers think about that from their experiences.
Until the next time...