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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Advice from Writers for Writers

As a writer, I am not only curious about other (more successful) writers; I am also fascinated by their process. How many words do they commit to writing each day? What genre do they find easiest to tackle? Published writers are a wealth of, often untapped, information that is not only valuable, but also extremely inspiring for beginner writers. Read these tips and tales from other writers in the world who have made their writing dreams come true and take their words along on your own journey. 

John Steinbeck on a writing class at Stanford: "The basic rule given us was simple and heartbreaking. A story to be effective had to convey something from the writer to the reader, and the power of its offering was the measure of its excellence. Outside of that, there were no rules. A story could be about anything and could use any means and any technique at all - so long as it was effective. As a subhead to this rule, it seemed to be necessary for the writer to know what he wanted to say, in short, what he was talking about. As an exercise we were to try reducing the meat of our story to one sentence, for only then could we know it well enough to enlarge it to three- or six- or ten-thousand words." 

Kurt Vonnegut on How to Write With Style: "Find a subject you care about and which you in your heart feel others should care about. It is this genuine caring, and not your games with language, which will be the most compelling and seductive element in your style.
I am not urging you to write a novel, by the way --- although I would not be sorry if you wrote one, provided you genuinely cared about something. A petition to the mayor about a pothole in front of your house or a love letter to the girl next door will do."

Joyce Carol Oates in an interview on Readers Read: "Beginning writers should follow the lines of their own natural interests, look and listen hard, note the astonishing variety of personalities and voices in our culture. And of course they should read widely, and they should write every day. Like learning to play a musical instrument, learning to write has much to do with practice."

Stephen King - Excerpt from his book "On Writing." : "I believe the first draft of a book — even a long one — should take no more than three months…Any longer and — for me, at least — the story begins to take on an odd foreign feel, like a dispatch from the Romanian Department of Public Affairs, or something broadcast on high-band shortwave during a period of severe sunspot activity."

NY Times interview with Charlaine Harris: "Do you have any advice for young mystery writers or fantasy writers?  For any writers at all, read everything you can and then put your butt in the chair and write. That’s all there is to it."

Lee Child in an interview on Booktopia: What advice do you give aspiring writers?  "Ignore all advice. There’s room for only one mind on your side of the transaction, and it needs to be yours and yours alone."

Tana French in an interview with Book Browse: "Q: What advice would you give to a first novelist? 
A: Read good things. I think writing a book is almost like running a marathon: you need the best nourishment you can get. The more you expose yourself to first-rate writing, the more you develop your instincts, and the more you'll push yourself towards that high standard. When I'm writing, I read the best stuff I can find. It doesn't matter what genre it is – thriller, literary fiction, chick lit, anything – as long as it's first-rate."

Interview with Chris Cleave by Kasey Carpenter: "KC:  About your writing process, any kind of ritual, schedule, etc…?CC:  I can do it anywhere.  I don’t ever stop thinking about the stories really, and wherever I am there is part of my mind turning it over.  I don’t need to be in a particular place, or have a candle lit or what have you, I don’t need anything really.  I need to be left alone a bit, I need to sort of deal with all of the everyday demands of life and get them out of the way, and then I can write.  I get up really early, I write from five a.m. and by lunchtime I’m more or less done. In the afternoon I’m giving to Caesar what is Caesar’s in terms of life, work obligations, family, etc…"

Writers News Weekly - Interview with Matthew Pearl: "Q: As a writing instructor/author, what advice do you have for aspiring writers?

“I think the best thing someone who wants to write can do is to REwrite. Too many writers want a project done as soon as they start writing, but the reality is every project has to be given room to evolve over time.”"

Sue Grafton in an Interview on Writer's Digest: "What advice do you have for newer writers?
My big gripe about newer writers is they’re not willing to put the time in. Somebody’ll write one book and they’re asking me who my agent and my editor are, and I’m thinking, Don’t you worry, sweetheart, you’re not any good yet. Give yourself time to get better. Writing is really hard to master. You learn by failing over and over, but a lot of people don’t care for that, thanks. I always wish new writers the greatest good fortune. It’s a helluva journey—I’ll tell you that."

Friday, October 29, 2010

Monday, October 25, 2010

Michigan Writing Jobs for Oct. 25

Jobs for Writers in Michigan and Telecommute

Write For Money: Telecommute

Blog Writer: Detroit

Part Time Writer: Telecommute

Grant Writer: Detroit

College Writers: Detroit/telecommute

Freelance Editor: Telecommute

Writer Wanted: Lansing/Telecommute

Grant Writer: Detroit

Staff Writer: Holland

Friday, October 22, 2010

Get Inspired

Writing can be many things: a job, therapy, a new lens to view the world, a reflection on the past, an outlet. Whatever your reason for writing, it is important to stay true to yourself and your beliefs when producing content that goes into the world. This doesn't mean that you have to skip basic content jobs or only write articles with profound messages, but it does mean that you should strive to use your gift (at least occasionally) as a way to support that which you believe in.

I recently had the opportunity to attend the Great Lakes Bioneers Conference in Traverse City. It was truly an inspiring and soul renewing experience and I left wide-eyed with the desire to pen articles and essays that reflected my own beliefs about the gradual collapse of our beautiful world. I live in a magnificent bio-region, surrounded by the Great Lakes, steep edged sand dunes and forests galore. I chose this place for all of the glorious life that thrives here and it is easy to forget that global warming is killing off very similar ecosystems all over the world. The Conference introduced such speakers as Jane Goodall, John Francis and Lynne Twist who, at times, cried during their extremely moving and heartfelt conversations. It is the kind of passion that is often missing in our modern day society of Internet, cell phones and TV. It is the kind of passion that can save humanity and that we, as writers, can use as the fire behind our words.

I am not saying that you must write about environmental concerns, but only that each of us should take time to seek within that which truly exhilarates us and from that place, we should spread our words. It is an entirely different process writing about something that pulls on your heart strings, from that place the words never die, no Thesaurus is necessary and the impact may literally be felt around the world.

Look below for a list of Michigan happenings that may stoke the fires of your soul and thank you always for reading and writing.

Domestic Violence Awareness Event: October 28: Grand Rapids

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Monday, October 18, 2010

Writing Contests

Writing Contests : Various Locations

Anderbo Poetry Prize - Deadline: Dec. 15 2010 : Entry fee: $10

Sunstone Magazine Fiction Contest - Deadline: Oct. 31 2010 : Entry is Free

Ruminate Magazine Short Story Contest - Deadline Oct. 31 2010 : Entry fee: $15

The Malahat Review Open Season Awards - Deadline Nov. 1 2010: Entry fee: $40

Tennessee Williams Short Fiction Contest - Deadline Nov. 15 2010: Entry fee: $25

Camping Writing Contest - Deadline: Until Full: Entry is Free

DreamQuestOne Poetry and Short Story Contest - Deadline: Dec. 31 2010: Entry Fee: $5-10

Xomba Horror Channel- What Scares You? - Deadline: Nov. 1 2010: Entry is Free

Tapestry of Bronze Poetry Contest - Deadline: Nov. 30 2010: Entry is Free

Monday, October 11, 2010

Ann Arbor Fiction Group

Hey Writers-

I have had some interest in the Ann Arbor - Ypsi area for a fiction writer's group. Anyone interested? Writer's Groups are an awesome way to get your work critiqued and meet other like minded writers in your area. They can also lead to connections down the road - so seriously consider it and they can be as causal or serious as you want.

My old group met once every other week for coffee. We read ten pages of each member's manuscript, gave plot critiques and went on our way. If you want to get involved in a group, contact me and I can give you information for the other writer's who want to partake. Also - if you're reluctant to join because you're shy - don't be. That prevented me from joining one for a long time and when I finally did it, I regretted my procrastination.

Leave a comment below or e-mail me if you want to join a new group.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


Sometimes a few words can make all the difference in whether or not you will pick up the pen (or laptop) today and continue down the twisted path of that novel, short story, poem or essay that you're working on. Here are is a quote by Sylvia Plath that may help to spark those embers and make today another productive day in your writing world:

And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt. ~Sylvia Plath

Friday, October 8, 2010

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Writing Jobs for Oct. 5th

Michigan and Telecommute Writing Jobs

Editing Job: Grand Rapids

Web Articles: Telecommute

Web Content: Telecommute

Academic Writer: Detroit Metro

Business Plan Writer: Detroit Metro

Political News Writer: Telecommute

Technical Copy Re-writes: Eastpointe/St. Clair Shores

Article Writer: Telecommute

Sports Writer: Telecommute/Detroit Metro

Writer/Blogger: Telecommute

Writer's Cafes, Coffee Shops and other Hideaways

The Great Lakes State has more than beautiful scenery to inspire the writer's mind. Visit nearly any town and you will find a quaint bookstore, cozy coffee shop or perfect writer's nook tucked away in a library, cafe or park. I've compiled a list of my personal favorites (with a few extra that I've never visited) to add to your own arsenal of writer's retreats outside of the home. Please feel free to let me in on any others that you think should be added to the list.

Horizon Books: Traverse City: Horizon is an amazing tri-level bookstore in downtown Traverse City. Grab a cup of coffee and head downstairs where there are plenty of tables for reading, writing and even meeting with writer's groups. (books, coffee shop, free wifi, ample seating)

Gone Wired Cafe: Lansing: Located on Michigan Avenue, this cafe is fantastic. Choose from giant old fashioned booths or rickety little tables that overlook the main floor. It's eccentric, vacuous and milling with interesting characters for your next book. They also make a great french press coffee and have a full menu. (coffee, food, ample seating, free wifi)

Rendezvous Cafe: Ann Arbor: Great coffee shop for writing since they have delicious food, heavy coffee, lots of space and long hours. Take your laptop, have one of their signature crepes and blast out a few thousand words. (free wifi, full menu, ample seating)

Bestsellers Books and Coffee: Mason: Stroll through downtown Mason and you'll stumble across Bestsellers, a bookstore and coffee shop combo. Sit in the window and you'll have a front row view of the historic courthouse with its wide green lawns. (food, coffee, wifi, views)

Roast and Toast: Petoskey: Delicious coffee, trendy atmosphere and comfy seating makes Roast and Toast the perfect place to write away the afternoon. (free wifi, food, coffee)

The Raven Cafe: Port Huron: This cafe gives new meaning to one stop shop. Not only is the cafe architecturally gorgeous with exposed brick and gleaming hardwood floors, but they offer a full menu, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, great coffee and free wifi. (food, coffee, wifi, ample seating)