Monday, January 28, 2013

Classic Style

How do you define a classic book? 

  • Would you say that it must posess timeless qualities and appeal?
  • That it addresses common problems or questions? 
  • Or illustrates the human condition in universal ways? 
  • Does it have a story that draws readers young and old, from past, present and future? defines classic as of the first or highest quality, class, or rank, serving as a standard, model, or guide.

We'd probably agree that classics are so defined. That said though, I think the selection is subjective. What one likes another may not. I've read a few I wanted to pitch, and others I'd consider as new additions. How about you?

Makes one wonder what Mark Twain was thinking when he said,   

"'Classic'. A book which people praise and don't read."

Did he have specifics in mind? Would his opinion on the classics of his era be the same today?

A student recently asked me to recommend titles that illustrate good, classic language and style. The question comes from someone looking to improve fiction writing skills, and whose first language is not English. An admirable goal, as there are enough challenges writing in one's native language. What would you recommend?

In Other News

Congratulations to Heather Sunseri on the release of her YA book, Mindspeak! Wish you all the best, Heather! For more info, check it out on Amazon.

On February 18, L. Diane Wolfe joins us to talk about her new book, How to Publish and Promote Your Book Now! I'll be sharing my review of the book too.

I'm working on a few goodies to celebrate my fourth blogoversary in March. I'm thinking we need at least one giveaway. With chocolate of course. :)

So what do you think, do you agree with Mark Twain? Which books fall into your "classic" category? Are there any that you think are overrated?

Happy writing,

Monday, January 21, 2013

It's in the Details

There you are. 


The words flow.

It's a happy day!

After while, you pause. 

And lean closer to the computer screen
You squint, and think, 

Should I use that or which in this instance? 
Who put that twist in the plot?

Should I place a comma there?

Is that active voice? Or passive? 

What IS passive voice, anyway?

Wait, no. That wasn't in the outline. 

And then...
It hits you.

You feel like you're tangled in a ball of twine.  

Does this ever happen to you? What do you do? 

Depending on the extent of untangling needed, I pray, consult resources, take a break, or ask another writer for input. Or all of the above. 

After all, writers need to be expert un-tanglers, don't we?

As challenging as this aspect of writing is, I believe it's important.


Because it provides the opportunity to persevere. And this is key to reaching the finish line. 

It also stretches thinking skills, and teaches us new things.

The details, whether grammar, content, or otherwise - when properly attended to, help our writing shine.

So if you're feeling tangled over details today, take heart. It's all meant to take us to a better writing place.

Do details get you down? What helps you work out the tangles

Happy writing,


Photo credit:  Stock Exchange 

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Interview


Nothing so animates writing as someone telling what he thinks or what he does-in his own words.”

William Zinsser

Need ideas for an article or blog post? 

How about an interview? Interviews offer treasures galore. It's like getting information from a primary source, which is always a good thing. Readers want solid, interesting info to broaden their horizons, and an interview can help do this.

Everyone has a story to tell. As the interviewer, our job is to draw that story to the surface. Consider what information the interviewee has to offer your readers.

      Consider these tips:

      An interview can be conducted in person, by phone or live chat, or via email. Be clear of your intent, whether the interview will appear on a blog, online, or in print. Gain appropriate permission for quotes and pictures.

            Assemble thought provoking questions and comments. “Tell us about your book” is great, but aim for questions that generate sparkling content, and those that get more than a yes or no answer. What would you like to know about this person? What would your readers like to know? Go with the flow too; interesting tidbits might surface that could be worth pursuing. Ask if the interviewee minds a follow up question or two by email.

      Don’t forget, lively quotes and anecdotes add personality, so sprinkle them in where appropriate. In addition to questions about their work, books, or current projects, ask fun and random ones, like about favorite foods or quirky hobbies or habits, or ask them to share little known and surprising facts about themselves. 

      Put an interesting spin on the interview. For example, author Susan J. Reinhardt featured a blog interview series with two writers. She took answers to their questions and incorporated them into a virtual lunch date for them and herself. It’s a clever angle combining facts and an imaginary scenario for an entertaining feature.   

      Don’t forget to include the person’s contact information or links and picture.

I believe Mr. Zinsser is right; an interview can give life to facts or events. What do you think?

In other news... 

Congratulations to Susan J. Reinhardt, who gained an agent and book contract all in one week! Her novel will be released in ebook form late February or early March. She will, of course, be stopping by to see us here.

Effective today, I will be posting once a week instead of twice. This was a tough decision, but I need to adjust my schedule to accommodate projects and more writing time. I will occasionally post more frequently (reviews, special announcements, etc.) and may return to posting twice weekly in the future. Will keep you posted. :)
Have you ever featured an interview on your blog? What tips do you have to share? What questions would you ask fellow writers? 

Happy writing,


Photo credit: Stock Exchange