Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Writer's Voice Part 1

Thank you for taking the time to pop over to Mary DeMuth’s place to read my last post. Mary will be shutting down her blog in a couple of weeks, so be sure to read it soon if you have not yet done so.

A few weeks back, I told you that I would be reviewing books I received free from BookSneeze. Today, I want to talk about After the Hangover by R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. Mr. Tyrrell. is editor in chief of The American Spectator, a conservative political and cultural magazine. He writes a weekly syndicated newspaper column on conservative political thinking. In other words, Mr. Tyrrell has a platform. Keep that in mind when you read this excerpt from his latest book, After the Hangover:

“Then again the fractious rivalries among conservatives are debilitating, and there is a tendency for conservatives to promote one issue at the expense of a full agenda: the proponent of military readiness who ignores economics, the supply-sider who is insouciant to culture.” (Let me assure you that the title of the book is the last phrase you will understand clearly without the benefit of the Oxford English Dictionary – unabridged version.)

I chose this quote for two reasons. It contains half of the book’s premise and it is a typical example of his voice.

If you read, as I do, many of the publishing blogs on how to break into the industry, this quote might surprise you. If a manuscript with this sentence hit the slush pile, it probably would not even receive a printed rejection. This book breaks all the rules. The first six sections are rambling diatribes (See, he even has me doing it!) against the current generation of conservatives and maudlin boasts about how much more sincere the past generation of conservatives was. In between, Mr. Tyrrell uses his witty repartee to flay the liberal political pundits.

Here is an example of his humor: “Through the decades, there has only been one Liberal principle that the Liberals have agreed on without fluctuation. That is their solemn belief that it is fundamental to the progress of our nation that the Liberals disturb the peace.” (Read the book to get the rest of this tongue-in-cheek barb.)

So how did Mr. Tyrrell become a New York Times best-selling author? Remember, he has a platform. According to the web site,The American Spectator’s blog has 50,000 subscribers, and then, to get the full reach of his platform, add the readers of his syndicated newspaper column. His audience expects to read a book in which Mr. Tyrrell sounds just like that. They know what they are getting when they buy his books. If he changed his voice, they would feel disappointed and maybe even cheated.

I want to leave you with a quote from an article in the May/June issue of Writer’s Digest. In “Romancing the Publishing Industry,” Brenda Novak says, “Voice contains an author’s core values and worldviews and cannot be duplicated.” In Mr. Tyrrell’s case, I would say that's a good thing. We have only one audience for a voice like his.

I’ll dig into the details of voice in a future post. If you have a question about voice, leave it in a comment and I’ll try to address it.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Self Editing at Mary DeMuth's Place

Hi, everyone. If you've got a few minutes to spare, link over to "So You Wanna Be Published" and read my guest blog on self editing, Write Until We Get It Right.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Community Spotlight 5

Today, I have the pleasure of introducing you to two new members of our community. First up is Maria Morgan. Originally from Michigan, she and her husband migrated to Georgia where they and their daughter are happily serving God and avoiding the deep freeze winters. She blogs at Life Lessons. Maria has had articles published in Christian Womanhood, Up In Cumming and At the Center magazines. Welcome, Maria!

Now meet Jules. She blogs at Big Girl Bombshell where she writes most creatively about her work transitioning from an obsession for food into a healthy lifestyle. Jules, I sense a memoir seed growing in the articles you post. Your creativity is already helping many people see that body size issues are as much about attitude as about the scales.

Jules won our drawing for March. Jules will receive a copy of 24 Hours London from the author, Marsha Moore. (Marsha has a new book, 24 Hours Paris, coming out in mid May.) Congratulations, Jules. Please send me your mailing address so we can send you the book.

Blog stats may not interest anyone else, but I look at the stats for our table at the coffee shop about once every three months. It’s fun seeing a world map with visitors’ stick pins dotted all over the globe. Naturally, most of you come from North America, but some of you - from the United Kingdom, Australia and India - also frequently stop in at the table. Then we have one or two visitors from twenty-two other countries. Thanks to all of you for coming to the coffee shop. It would be no fun at all talking to myself!

As a final note, I want to bring to your attention that we’ve added two new “wheels not invented here” entries. Both of them link to sites offering similar electronic publishing options. The first one you heard about from David Nicholls in the last post. The other one, Off the is located in New York. While both sites offer writers an open venue for publishing their works, the business model for each one is significantly different from the other. Since no one knows what the market may be for these services because they are so new, everyone should read the fine print and ask questions before using them. Having unrealizable expectations can be painful for both the authors and the reputation of the businesses.

Next time, we’ll look at the importance of voice in writing nonfiction. In the meantime, sit back and enjoy a cup of hot green tea, or whatever your favorite beverage happens to be.