Thursday, May 27, 2010

Community Spotlight 7

Great news, my surprise is ready. Do you see the drawing of the man reading a big book to the cat on the end of his shoe? That is the door to our own private room, here in the coffee shop. Clicking on it will pop you into The Emerging Writer Reading Room.

I read a blog by John Smolens (director of Northern Michigan University's Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Program and acclaimed writer) in which he used the term "emerging writers" about his students. The term is so descriptive of all writers that it caught my eye. We all emerge from the present level to another – aspiring writer to apprentice, apprentice to professional, professional to master of the craft.

The phrase worked well with the idea I was kicking around in my head. I decided to create a place in our community to celebrate the skillful persistence of our members to write and publish a book. It displays the nonfiction work published by the members of our community on a separate blog page.

Here's the way it works. Anyone who follows Calling All Aspiring Writers of Nonfiction Books can copy the template on The Emerging Writer Reading Room, fill it out, and send it (along with a file containing a picture of the front cover) to me at lynndaell[at]live[dot]com. Your book will have center stage for a minimum of one week. After that, the front cover will move to the column on the left. It will stay in the left column as long as the blog is active. So what are you waiting for? Send me your info ASAP!


Now that I've got my surprise delivered, I want to introduce more new members.

Meet Debra7000. She has a flashy blog space on the internet. With five sons, a grandson and a full-time job, she still finds time to blog occasionally. We're glad you found time to join us, Debra.

Elaine Fields Smith is one of the writers who has taken the self-publishing route. You can learn something about her creative narrative nonfiction book at Ridin' Around. That's also the name of the book. I'll look for an email from you, soon, Elaine so that we can display your book in The Emerging Writer Reading Room.

Let me introduce F. B. Comito. She lives in Nebraska and has two sons. I was unable to learn more about her. Fbcomito, maybe you can tell us more about yourself in a comment.

Phoebe King (aka Bizlady08) is an accomplished freelance writer, editor, and project manager. She works in the greater Chicago area and has a web site named The Grateful Grebe™. Phoebe's passion is keeping up with the latest social media developments, online behavior and trends. Maybe you could write something for our community on the latest social media trends, Phoebe.

The only thing I know about Doris is that she has a beautiful smile. (Her picture is on the top row, second from the left.) Doris, would you please tell us something about yourself in the comments?

The last introduction for the day is Cari from Bismarck, North Dakota. She blogs at Faith's Mom's Blog where you can share her joys and other experiences of raising a special needs daughter. I really enjoyed your spa day account, Cari.

It's time for me to post this article and write up the information on my own book, Changing Me, Change the World.

Keep writing!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Community Spotlight 6

Wow! Look around you and you'll see a wonderful new group of writers who have joined our community. You might also notice that we have our own private room now, here at the coffee shop. So many of you are coming to see what's going on that the proprietor leased the empty shop next door and added it to his place. I've been talking to him about some ways to make our room special. More on that later.

Right now, I want to call your attention to a quote from an article posted on Guide to Literary Agents (you can read the whole summary of the panel discussion using the link):

Ammi-Joan Paquette said it's a challenging market. The book needs to be a compelling, fresh topic that fits into the same categories. You need to find the right project. It has to be a great story, greatly delivered.
Edward Necarsulmer suggested it's easier to get nonfiction published as a first time author because almost everyone is writing fiction. But you still need to have an interesting topic and a new hook."


Now let me introduce some of the new writers who have joined the community.

First up is Toni. She is a wife, mother, teacher, artist and writer who lives in Veneta, Oregon. Toni's blogging energy amazes me. Always Do Write is her blog on published writing gaffes, but she also has a blog where she posts her artwork, THREE blogs on natural birth, and another blog where she reviews books. Welcome, Toni.

OK, now I know I am out of my league. Meet Michelle Dunn. Michelle is an entrepreneur and writer who lives in Plymouth, New Hampshire. She is anything but an "aspiring" author. She wrote twelve books for the business debt collections niche. Visit her web page, Michelle Dunn Online, to read her personal story. I promise that you will be inspired. Michelle, will you share some of your writing experiences with us?

Now say hello to Duchess O'Blunt. She is married, lives in Ontario, Canada and writes on Hubpages. Duchess is an aspiring writer who hasn't quit her day job – yet. She blogs at A Would Be Writer's Journey. She describes herself as "an avid social butterfly in cyberspace." (I love that description!) Duchess, are you interested in becoming our community social director?

It is a privilege for me to introduce one of my special internet friends, Lynn Mosher. Lynn lives and writes in Louisville, Kentucky. I started reading Lynn's devotional blog, Heading Home, almost a year ago. God speaks to me often through Lynn's essays. She has a second blog that you've just got to visit: The Sweetest Blogs. It's a cupcake shop of blog awards! Thanks, Lynn, for making a way for us to recognize the blogs that speak to us. (I'm adding The Sweetest Blogs to our "Wheels Not Invented Here" list on this page.)

Next, I'd like you to meet Lorie Huston. Lorie is a prolific freelance writer on the subject of keeping pets healthy. She lives and practices as a veterinarian in Providence, Rhode Island. Lorie has a cool dog and cat web site named The Pet Health Care Gazette. Welcome, Lorie!

I've run out of time, so the last introduction for today is Steve Finnell. Steve blogs at Christian With a View about Christian theology. His other interests are football and basketball. Since his profile is short on details, maybe Steve will tell us something about himself in the comments.

Next time, I'll introduce more new members to our community. I hope to have my surprise lined up, too. In the mean time, keep writing.

Friday, May 14, 2010

A Writer’s Voice, Part 2

Welcome to the coffee shop. I'm glad you stopped by to spend some time with us. If you are new to our group, you may want to read part one of this topic. Last month, I wrote about how developing a voice is important to becoming a skillful, professional writer. Link here to read it.

From the quote in the May/June 2010 issue of the Writer’s Digest magazine, it appears that everyone has a natural voice. Brenda Novak explains that our natural voice contains our core values and worldview. In that same issue, a tribute to J.D. Salinger contains a quote from William Cane’s book, Write Like the Masters.

"…voice refers to the feeling and tone of writing, a certain flavor determined by word choice and phrasing that gives a text dimension and makes it peculiarly human."

Look at an example taken from another book I received from BookSneeze, I Am Hutterite, a memoir by Mary-Ann Kirby. She attended kindergarten in the Hutterite community from age two to age five. This is the way they started their mornings:

"We eagerly clasped our hands and bowed our heads to repeat our German prayers in unison before diving in, scooping generous dollops of jam onto the linen-colored cream and plunging the soft, fresh buns into the decadent dip until there wasn't a white streak left at the bottom of our bowls."

This quote is actually longer than the one from After the Hangover in part one and a Hutterite community is probably just as foreign to most people's experience as a Washington D.C. think tank. However, in this quote, no dictionary is required and the choice of words and phrases paints a vivid picture of the enjoyment of these toddlers eating their breakfast. No one would ever mistake R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr.'s voice for that of Mary-Ann Kirby.

Mary-Ann Kirby uses her voice to show the love she had for the people and the land when she was part of a Hutterite community in her early childhood. While she layers the description of her experiences with lyrically rich textures, she is also able to include elements of tension and problems in the same voice. While her voice seems to be her natural one, she obviously worked to make that voice eloquent and clear. I Am Hutterite reminds me of Isak Dinesen's writing in Out of Africa. They both have a hauntingly beautiful voice that captures the essence of a lost time in their lives.

Can both After the Hangover and I Am Hutterite be successful books? Absolutely, but probably not with the same audience. In order to be successful, each book must find the readers who hear the writer's voice as authentic to them. The other half of having a voice is finding an audience to listen to it.

I've learned three things from these examples and quotes:
1. A natural voice comes out of who you are. A bitterly cynical man cannot naturally write in the voice of an innocent child.
2. A writer works hard to polish and clarify her voice. Regardless of the natural voice, eloquence in using it comes from hard work.
3. A voice that seems phony has trouble attracting an audience. Success is more likely to come to a writer who finds readers who like his voice.

Has this topic brought any ideas to your mind? If so, please share them with us.

Friday, May 7, 2010

On Friction – Not Fiction, Part 2

Ahh, it's Friday. Isn't that a lovely sentence? Time to take a deep breath, sit back in a chair with your favorite beverage and contemplate the change of pace the weekend brings. It's also time to finish a few things and to find surprises. You can start that, here, too.

Today, you can read the rest of Sharlene Martin's essay on the friction in her professional life. (THAT may contain a few surprises in its own right.) However, the official surprise is a gift from our generous guest. She is offering a free copy of Ten Top Tips to Writing a Terrific Book Proposal, an outline to guide the preparation of your proposal. These are the instructions for getting it.
1. Send an email message to
2. In the subject line, write "Calling all aspiring writers."
3. In the body of the message, mention that you'd like to get a copy of Ten Top Tips to Writing a Terrific Book Proposal. Please thank her for her essay, as well. (Yes, I'm still taking notes from her comments in part one.)

Ms. Martin, you have our attention:

"As for the editors and publishers, I have been at this for enough years now that I can say from personal observation that publishing house editors who employ sneering condescension tend to be the ones most quickly departed (helpful note: everybody hates jerks). And even a rare publisher who plays fast and loose with the accounting or payment of royalties can no longer hide from today's blogosphere, where a sullied reputation can torpedo an entire publishing imprint.

The narcissism and amorality that have become the hallmarks of contemporary popular culture have bled over from the land of reality TV programming and into the general public. Some of them write to me, just as I am sure that each of you has recent memories of personal encounters with an individual who demanded that which it was yours alone to give, and upon receiving it only resented not getting more; the mindset manifests in my work day in the form of would-be authors , sometimes on the executive side from one who mistakenly believes that a curt attitude and a dismissive tone somehow establish mastery in a relationship. They do so without noticing that their vital business relationships do not last, remaining blind to the fact that colleagues who invest a bit of energy in mutual respect tend to go farther and faster. And yet they think that they are the smart ones. It's only laughable in a rueful sort of way –such behavior simply causes them to dissolve into today's general misconception that the nastier you are, the more "genuine" your response.

But respect is genuine, too. So is honesty and so is the passion to do good work, the best work that you possibly can, while you are in this world. The wonderful men and women whom I am fortunate to call my colleagues are the ones who embody their understanding of that. They are why this line of work is so worthwhile to me and why MLM's motto is and always will be "Considerate Literary Management for the 21st Century."


It is reassuring to know that the publishing world, while far from perfect, still maintains a civil atmosphere. Since we are investing our lives to become an integral part of that world, I appreciate knowing in advance what to expect.

Speaking of "becoming an integral part of the publishing world," I want to remind you that everyone who follows this blog is eligible for a drawing to receive a copy of Publish Your Nonfiction Book. To whet your appetite, why not watch Sharlene's book trailer at

Have a great weekend!

Monday, May 3, 2010

On Friction – Not Fiction, Part 1

Welcome to our table at the coffee shop. If your shoes are still squishy after that wet weekend, then you are part of a very large crowd. I'm ready to think about something other than the weather and since you're here, I trust that you are, too.

A special guest joins us, today. Sharlene Martin is President of Martin Literary Management and a literary agent who specializes in representing nonfiction books. (If you look over at the right hand column, you will see I added Sharlene to our nonfiction agents list (N-F A-List).) She recently published PUBLISH YOUR NONFICTION BOOK: Strategies for Learning the Industry, Selling Your Work and Building a Successful Career with her husband, Anthony Flacco.

This book is a must-read for every aspiring writer of nonfiction books. I am so excited by the high quality and clarity of the information that I found in PUBLISH YOUR NONFICTION BOOK that it will be THE BOOK for our giveaway drawing for the next three months. Everyone who has not already won a book in 2010 and who follows this blog by May 31, 2010 will be eligible to participate in a drawing for the first copy of PUBLISH YOUR NONFICTION BOOK.

I asked Sharlene to share some of the thoughts that are on her mind, right now. She chose to give us insight into the working of an agent's life. Sharlene, you have our attention.

"I love this job. I get up every day looking forward to doing this kind of work. But we know that every line of endeavor has its, shall we say, areas of friction. I find that the literary representation field is sometimes littered with dysfunctional attitudes of self-entitlement on the part of writers who aspire to major publication. I also sometimes see it on the business side in the form of the occasional editor who refuses to employ the rudiments of professional courtesy, or I see it with a publisher who finds reasons to stall timely payments because the total difference in accrued interest for that company is considerable. And still, I love this work. I am therefore thankful every day for the fact such people are the decided minority in the book world. My daily experience confirms that well-considered products of creative minds still command a residue of mutual respect lost to many other parts of social life.

On the writing side of the business, friction comes from a disconcerting number of wanna-be authors who contact me and indicate that since they have finished their book manuscript or have almost finished thinking up an idea for a book they would like to write, they are now ready for me to sign it, sell it, and make them rich, hoping I will do it before the end of the month because they are upside down on their mortgage. When I try to correct that notion, or someone on my staff attempts to explain the factual reality of the publishing marketplace, there is that percentage who react with anger and indignation. They feel compelled to hurl invective, to lob a flame-y email or slip in a hostile phone message. Students of irony earn extra credit for noticing that this manner of departure validates the decision."

I'm taking a lesson from Sharlene's words. As she says in PUBLISH YOUR NONFICTION BOOK, "Never discount anyone you meet." That includes agents who have rejected my book. It will always do us well to remember that good manners opens many doors.

Come back next time to hear about the minority crowd on the other side of the publishing table. I assure you, you will not be disappointed.