Wyrdwend

The Filidhic Literary Blog of Jack Günter

GOING TO THE MOON – HAMMER, TONG, AND TOOLS

HOT DAMN! GOTTA GET ME SOME OF THAT!

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JK ROWLING GETS REJECTED

Harry Potter writer shares publishers’ brush-offs for first Robert Galbraith novel in attempt to to inspire other authors

Harry Potter author JK Rowling
JK Rowling was the first female novelist to become a billionaire. Photograph: Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters

The Harry Potter author JK Rowling has shared some withering rebuffs publishers sent to her alter ego Robert Galbraith, in an effort to comfort aspiring authors.

Rowling posted the rejection letters on Twitter after a request from a fan. They related to The Cuckoo’s Calling, her first novel as Galbraith. But Rowling also saw Harry Potter turned down several times before the boy wizard became one of the greatest phenomena in children’s literature, with sales of more than 400m copies worldwide.

Asked how she kept motivated, she tweeted: “I had nothing to lose and sometimes that makes you brave enough to try.”

When she pitched under the name Galbraith without revealing her true identity, she faced many more snubs. Since then, Galbraith has published three successful novels but the first was rejected by several publishers, and Rowling was even advised to take a writing course.

Rowling erased the signatures when she posted the letters online, saying her motive was “inspiration not revenge”. She did not reveal the full text of the most brutal brush-off, which came by email from one of the publishers who had also rejected Harry Potter.

Rowling said she could not share the Potter rejections because they “are now in a box in my attic” before offering the Galbraith letters. The kindest and most detailed rejection came from Constable & Robinson, who – despite the advice about a writing course – included helpful tips on how to pitch to a publisher (“as on book jackets – don’t give away the ending!”). The publisher added: “I regret that we have reluctantly come to the conclusion that we could not publish it with commercial success.”

The short note from publishers Crème de la Crime said the firm had become part of another publishing group and was not accepting new submissions.

When The Cuckoo’s Calling eventually found a publisher in 2013, it was achieving respectable sales before the secret of its authorship broke, and it then shot to the top of the bestseller lists.

Joanne Harris, author of a string of hit novels, joined the Twitter discussion to say she had so many rejections for her 1999 book Chocolat, later adapted as a Hollywood movie, that she had piled them up and “made a sculpture”.

Rowling, Harris and their literary disciples are in excellent company. Eimear McBride, the 2014 Bailey’s prizewinner for her first novel A Girl is a Half-formed Thing, accumulated a drawer full of rejection letters before a chance conversation led to her book being published by Galley Beggar, a tiny independent publisher in Norwich.

James Joyce’s epic masterpiece Ulysses, regarded as one of the greatest Irish novels, was repeatedly rejected by baffled publishers before finally being published in a tiny edition in Paris in 1922 by his friend Sylvia Beach’s Shakespeare & Co bookshop: a copy of the first edition sold a few years ago for £275,000.

Pinterest
‘What keeps you awake at night?’: JK Rowling answers Decca Aitkenhead’s questions back in 2012

TS Eliot, in his role as an editor at Faber and Faber, turned down George Orwell’s Animal Farm as “unconvincing”. Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 was rejected as “not funny on any intellectual level”, and John le Carré‘s first spy novel, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, was passed from one publisher to another with the withering comment: “You’re welcome to le Carré – he hasn’t got any future.” Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick attracted the memorable response “First, we must ask, does it have to be a whale?” It did.

GODSPEED TURKISH MILITARY

GODSPEED TURKISH MILITARY!

May you and the Turkish People fully restore your Republic!

I am completely behind you and wish you Good Fortune and Success.

BE FREE AGAIN, AND BE WELL AND THRIVE!

NOBODY WANTS TO READ YOUR SHIT (for free – correction, I Do)

Steven Pressfield is giving away a free download of his new book, Nobody Wants to Read Your Shit.
You should download a copy before the free offer expires. I really like and admire Pressfield’s work, both his historical fiction and his non-fiction.

The War of Art was superb. I added it to my personal library. Everyone should read it.

This will likely be another excellent tool for writers.

I can’t wait to read my download of this new book. I’ll start it this weekend. Afterwards I anticipate that I’ll add it to my personal library as well.

 

No strings attached.
No e-mail address required.

Brand new and FREE from Steven Pressfield

NOBODY WANTS TO READ YOUR SH*T

…picks up where The War of Art left off.

Nobody Wants to Read Your Shit - by Steven Pressfield

.EPUBDownload your free Nook/iTunes/Kobo e-book here!

.MOBIDownload your free Kindle compatible e-book here!

.PDFDownload your free
PDF e-book here!

We’re giving it away (for a limited time) because we want people to read it. Simple as that.

Want more information or a paperback? Click here.

Thanks from Steve P. and everybody at Black Irish Books.

I DONE PAID (IN FULL), AND LOOKING FOR A COMPOSER

I wrote an excellent set of lyrics to a Blues song today I’m calling I Done Paid (In Full).

Started a second Blues song (though I may make it a rock or even a pop song) called Stop Dis Missing Me.

Which I’m pleased with thus far but it is far from finished and I got two or three different ways I can go with it, and just haven’t decided yet.

I also have a backlog of about 150 to 200 songs (the lyrics that is) completed now which I have been unable to compose the music for. Unfortunately I have had no time to compose in the past year. Between my wrist surgery and working on my novel, my book of poetry, my start-up, helping my wife with her new career, and my inventions I have had no time to compose music at all. (I’m a slow composer anyway.) All I’ve had time to do is write the lyrics.

So, if you are a composer looking for a lyricist, or even a band looking for a song-writer then I’d like to talk to you. We can enter into a joint songwriting agreement. 

But I’m only looking for serious and ambitious people who want to produce and sell finished, entirely completed songs. I write in a variety of musical styles and genres, everything from Blues to Rock, from Bluegrass to Opera, Pop, and even Religious music. I have a wide range of musical interests, plus I have some unfinished compositions that I’d be willing for others to take a look at right now and finish if they wish. Splitting the Work and the Profits evenly, of course.

I would prefer working with people in South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia, so that we can meet and even work some in each other’s company but I’m not necessarily limiting myself to those in SC, NC, or GA. With the right composer or people, and if we can establish a good and productive working relationship, then I could work with anyone in the United States, or even in other parts of the world.

I’m not gonna set artificial limits on this, the important thing is that we are good at what we do and can produce excellent Work together.

If you are interested then leave a message here or contact me by email.

See ya,

Jack.

P.S.: you can see some prior examples of my song lyrics in this archive category: My Writings and Work

You’ll have to look for them though. All of my work is listed in that archive, not just my songs.

Or you can also just go to this archive: Songs

 

THE WAY OUT

OPTING OUT

Since I began recuperating from the operation on my wrist in July until today (Sunday, 1/31/2016) I have now conducted three experiments on how valuable the internet is to me compared to how much time I make use of it. (For researching, as a networking vehicle, source of discovery, blogging and communications platform, marketing venue, commenting base, etc.). This includes all aspects of the internet from email, blogging, networking, facebooking, pinterest, exposure of my work, marketing, etc.

I have averaged the three experiments together and have found that I should safely be able to dispense with somewhere between 75% and 90% of my total internet time (depending upon what it is being used for), time that I can far more productively devote to my inventions, writings, songwriting, and businesses. Not to mention the time I can devote to other things like my artwork, my scientific experiments, and even my recreations. These are the results of my experiments and analyses.

What I found the internet to be almost entirely useless for:

1. indirect and inbound marketing – almost entirely unprofitable hype
2. Truth discovery
3. discovering subjects of real interest that could not be accessed elsewhere
4. politics and influencing others
5. entertainment

What I found the internet to be only moderately useful for:

1. staying in contact with family and friends
2. growing a network through indirect contacts or comments
3. Direct Marketing (email, sometimes blogging)
4. gaming, hobbies, recreations
5, selling and buying

What I found the internet to be useful for or even occasionally profitable for:

1. research and concept and idea and article discovery
2. idea generation, invention generation, story generation, etc.
3. education through lectures, eBooks, etc.

Nevertheless if you average all time spent on the internet versus the return on time invested it is blatantly obvious to me that most of the internet (the vast majority actually) is over-rated hype and highly unproductive and a distraction from Real Work and achievement. Just as much as is say television and the desire to be constantly entertained or drugged or drunk, etc.

Therefore, that being said I have am giving up about 75 to 90% of what I do on the internet and of the remainder of my internet time I will redirect my efforts into other and more productive and valuable venues.

Otherwise, as regards the internet, I will do exactly as I did with television and video games. I will give them up completely or only indulge those things on the weekends or holidays.

Therefore as of Monday, 2/1/2016 the bulk of my time saved by dispensing with the internet will go to far more productive and useful activities and outlets. And into time spent with family and friends.

Have a good day folks.

THE YEAR OF CHARACTER

THE YEAR OF CHARACTER

I’m sitting here tonight (last night actually) working on the major characters that will be a part of my fictional book and novel series. I’ve spent much of the past week doing the same.

One invaluable thing I learned from James Patterson’s Master Class on commercial fiction is the importance of ongoing, serialized characters that others adore. I’ve known this intellectually for a long time based on my own reading history both as a youth and throughout my life (John Carter, Tarzan, Spock, Jesse Stone, Sherlock Holmes, Doc Savage, Batman, etc.) but looking back on my fiction writings I’ve realized that it hasn’t really sunken in until now. It had sunken into my mind long ago, but not into my soul. Not until now however. But now, finally, I am fully getting it.

I’ve always been a “Story-First” kind of guy and looking back upon it all I suspect I very much now know why. I was trained and self-trained to write stories through D&D (Dungeons and Dragons) and through game writing in general and D&D was indeed the very most excellent practice and training for story-development. But because I so rarely played and was almost always the DM or GM (Dungeon or Game Master) and was always the one creating worlds and writing the stories I never concentrated much at all upon “Character Development.”

That is to say I always let my players develop and run their characters with as little possible interference from me as I could ever get away with. Therefore almost all character development was in their hands and I become STORY AND PLOT AND WORLD FIRST and in many senses, I just habitually adopted the idea of STORY ONLY. Character-Work was for them, I was the World Man.

Not that I couldn’t write or develop characters, I did have several characters of my own I played and I developed some very complex Non-Player Characters (NPCs) but that kind of thing happened rather rarely compared to my World Building and plot and background elements development and so Character Development became a secondary and almost a background issue to me as a fiction writer and story teller. I realize now that I have for most of my life had this sort of subconscious psychological habit of developing stories in complex detail but sort of letting Character Development handle itself in a laissez-faire fashion when I did not outright ignore the issue.

But now that I realize this fault and oversight in my own writings, and the way I go about writing, I have decided that for me this will be the Year of the Characters. This year Characters and Serialized Characters become equally important to me as Story and Plot and World Building.

This is to be my Year of Character, and the genesis of the development of the Great Characters of my Fiction Writing Career.

This year I build Men and Characters and not just Worlds.

WORDPRESS TIPS

wordpresstipsWORDPRESS TIPS

1. Do you want to create an hyperlink in your post that references an older post? Rather than having to type out the URL or look for it in another window/window, use the search for other content arrow in the link box. Choose the link you’d like and click ADD LINK. There is no reason to check off the box “open in a new window” when you are referencing your own site. In fact, that can get super annoying for mobile readers. Only use that when you want to take someone to a webpage off of your site.

interlink

2. The screen options tab at the top right of the screen will give you more options on your post screen. Do you want to change the author or adjust the commenting ability? Enable all the options in the screen option tag. Then they will appear as options below your post to turn on/off or edit.

ScreenOptions

3. Your theme may support a format option on the right hand side. These options change the layout look of your post. The WordPress default themes use formats. Pick from the options to change the format of the page to match the type of media you want to display.

format


4. You can create “private” posts that are only available to a specified population of users. On WordPress.com, you can choose to make your entire blog private, but on self-hosted, the easiest way to hide content is to password protect it. In the publish box, click on visibility and change the setting. A box will pop up that allows you to write in a password. Click okay.

Password protected pages

5. Pre schedule your posts if you think you will be away for a while. Just be sure your timestamp is accurate to the time zone you are in! To change the timezone, go to Settings > General.

futurepublish

6. Write an excerpt (activate it in the post screen option) to customize how your post appears around the web. If you are using an SEO plugin, it’s called the meta description. One difference between the two: The excerpt box will display if you have your blog posts set to an excerpt format, whereas the SEO meta description usually only shows up in Google search results or in places where you share the link (like on social). The excerpt will show up in RSS feeders (if your blog is set to only show excerpts).

7. Make sure only an excerpt of your post blasts out to email subscribers. If they are reading the whole post in the email, there’s no reason to click on the link and go to your blog. To change how your blog posts display, go to SETTINGS > READING and change the option to summary.

summary

8. If you want to control how much of a post displays on the homepage, use a jump break. It’s also called a more tab and it cuts off the text and inserts a READ MORE link for people to click.

jumpbreak

9. You can edit the permalink of the Post URL if you changed the title or want to rename it. Click edit next to the link that appears under the post title. There are several instances when you DO NOT want to do this – and that is:

  • When you’ve already published a post and shared it online
  • If you are on WP.com and think you may move to self-hosted. Why? Because when a blog imports and a redirect is done, custom permalinks can cause issues.

permalink

10. Download a WordPress app on your smart phone or tablet so you can blog and respond to readers on the go.

11. Use the little eraser button to undo pre-formatted text that looks wonky on the post screen. The eraser helps get rid of any extra formatting that may have happened if you wrote the post in a different application. You can also use the T on the clipboard button to paste text and remove extra spaces and tabs.

formatting

12. Use the quote button to accent certain parts of your text.

I’m learning WordPress newbie tips from Julie at http://fabulousblogging.com! <<Tweet This>>

13. Change the name of your images to keyword friendly titles. That way ifpeople are searching in Google images, they are more likely to stumble upon your blog.

image title

14. Use the toggle full screen mode if you are easily distracted when blogging. The fullscreen button is next to the jumpbreak.

15. Menus can be created using pages, categories, or external links. You can even use a combination of all three! When you first set up WordPress, it uses your pages as a default menu. For a full explanation of using categories on your menu bar, check out the post below.

Lovely

16. Do you want an author bio to show on every post? Edit the description in your profile and it will show up! Go to USERS > EDIT and adjust your description and add your various links.

17. WordPress.ORG users can create an archive index page followingthese instructions. This acts as an index for your entire site and is a nice auto-populated list of your posts, ordered by date. To check out my archive page, you can click here.

18. You can blacklist cyber bullies using email addresses listed in the discussion settings of WP. You can also filter out any comments that use trigger words you define.

Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 12.25.44 PM

19. Do you want to change how many posts show up on the main page? Go to settings and then click on READ. You can change it there. If you like infinite scrolling (which is when posts just keep loading and loading), you can install Jetpack and activate the infinite scrolling module. Of course, not all themes cooperate well with it, so that’s something note.

20. Change the media image sizes (so that thumbnail, small, medium, and large are set to parameters you generate). Go to settings and media.

media settings

21. Get a breadcrumbs plugin that allows users to easily find their way back to the homepage with a trail like this Home > About Me > Personals. Get the plugin here. Several themes like Genesis and Weaver will automatically include breadcrumbs in their structure.

Breadcrumbs
This is what breadcrumbs looks like on FabBlogging

22. Did you know that you can share powerpoint, word docs, and pdfs on your blog too? Just click the image button to see all the file types available. You can upload them through the media library just like a photo. When you want to include them in your post, they will be inserted as a link that opens up a new tab.

23. Do you struggle with getting your numbered lists to format correctly?Simply type out each item in your list and hit enter. Don’t try to use indented spaces or tabs or anything fancy. Just type, return, type, return. When your list is finished, highlight all of it, and click on the either the bulleted or numbered list button in the toolbar. It will automatically adjust the spacing, indentation, and add either a bullet or a number!

24. Do you struggle trying to get two images to display side by side? I have an entire post on how to deal with images and image galleries on WordPress. Of course, there are a million plugins you can use as well, but I prefer to teach with the basics first, because installing something that could weigh down your site.

images


25. Do you feel confused about the difference between a Page and a Post? A page is a static piece of content. It’s like a webpage. It isn’t dated, nor does it show up in any sort of RSS feed. Great uses for pages are your ABOUT page, RESOURCES page, CONTACT page. A post is a dated piece of content that gets pushed out to your RSS feed. It’ll show up in readers. It also is categorized and tagged in your database differently than a page. Think of a post like a daily newspaper article and a page as a brochure for your business or blog.

Do you want more beginner help? The WordPress Beginner’s Handbook is made just for you!

Many of these work for both WP.com and WP.org users, but any mention of customizable plugins is for WP.org users only. For WP.com users, the edit screen is now a new light blue color with a different interface. You’ll have to revert to the classic editor in order to make sense of these tips. The option to revert to the classic editor is on the bottom right of the edit screen.

 

DARK SONG – FIRST VERSE

These are lyrics from an unfinished song I began last week. It’s my First Verse entry for today.

DARK SONG

There’s a dark song in my soul right now
And I can’t shake it anyway,
Might as well just sing along,
See where it goes

Well, there’s a dark song
I hear it on the wind

There’s a dark song
Where are we going?

Can we ever make amends?

Well, I don’t know this road no more
But I know it’s me

Where are we going anyhow?
What do you want me to see?

There’s a dark song in my soul right now
I can hear it far away
I’ve known, I’ve known it all along
We’re on the same road

But to where?

Just tell me that…

To where?

20 NOVEL STORYBOARDS TO FOLLOW

20 NOVEL STORYBOARDS YOU SHOULD BE FOLLOWING

20 Novel Storyboards

Ah, Pinterest, you are both the bane and joy of writers the world over. On one hand we can use Pinterest to create stunning visual representations of the world we are creating with our words. On the other hand, we can distract ourselves for hours at a time in the endless sea of images.

But to me the price is worth it. There’s nothing I love more than creating storyboards for my novels. It’s in integral part of my creative process.

I also love following other writer’s on Pinterest, and glimpsing into the worlds they have created. Not only do other author’s boards inspire me and spark ideas, but I often find the perfect image on another writer’s board. (After hours of using the Pinterest search option to no avail.) We writer’s think in the same dramatic way. We’re drawn to the same types of photographs.

So I decided to compile a list of some of my favorite Pinterest storyboards. All of these are beautiful and inspiring. I’m mostly drawn to the historical, romantic, and dramatic, so that’s what most of these boards represent.

While you’re here please leave a link to your book’s storyboard in the comments!

Don’t have a novel storyboard?

No worries, these boards will be all the inspiration you need.

https://www.pinterest.com/bonaventier/the-good-adventurers-storyboard/

https://www.pinterest.com/justlaina/faith-storyboard/

https://www.pinterest.com/highlyblissed/novel-the-mists-of-bellicent-bay/

https://www.pinterest.com/liathaven/storyboard-revenant/

https://www.pinterest.com/rhpottery/storyboard-raven-hill/

https://www.pinterest.com/jasmoon/storyboard-calageata-ii/

https://www.pinterest.com/liathaven/storyboard-the-ones-who-leave/

 https://www.pinterest.com/greywintersong/storyboard-last-summer/

http://www.pinterest.com/highlyblissed/dharma-and-desire-my-novel/

https://www.pinterest.com/rhpottery/storyboard-emily-rose/

http://www.pinterest.com/brennach/storyboard-chief-king/

http://www.pinterest.com/nessacakes52/novel-storyboard-untitled/

https://www.pinterest.com/Lilyjenness/storyboard-noxumbra-manor/

https://www.pinterest.com/moraduial/storyboard-last-ones-standing/

https://www.pinterest.com/jasmoon/storyboard-the-butterfly-bridge-inspiring-imagery/

https://www.pinterest.com/bethgadar/novel-noir/

https://www.pinterest.com/ninthmoriarty/storyboard-kingmaker-ap/

https://www.pinterest.com/sarahallstein/storyboard-the-wanderers/

https://www.pinterest.com/fullnessofjoy16/the-crown-of-life-storyboard/

 

MASTERING THE MARKET – HIGHMOOT

An Accomplished Writer Takes a ‘MasterClass’ From a Gargantuan Selling Writer

What James Patterson had to teach me about writing—and selling—books

Web_MasterClass2_Morgan Schweitzer

The MasterClass ads started popping up in my Facebook feed a couple of weeks ago. Evidently I fit the demographic of a person who might be willing to cough up 90 bucks for three hours of online lessons taught by a famous person, imparting wisdom on how he or she got that way and how, presumably, I might even do the same, once I mastered the lessons in the MasterClass.

Knowing how scarily well Facebook appears to understand my life, it is unlikely that anyone there (man, or machine) saw me as a candidate for the Serena Williams MasterClass in Tennis, or the Usher MasterClass in the Art of Performance. Back in 11th grade, I played Lady Macbeth in the Oyster River High School production of Macbeth, but I doubt Facebook was aware of this fact, or had me pegged as a possible buyer for the Dustin Hoffman MasterClass in Acting.

It was the James Patterson class they must have recognized as right up my alley—the one titled James Patterson Teaches Writing—a class described as offering advice on how to write a best seller. No doubt this one was offered to me because I am a writer, myself. Just not the type whose name tends to show up on the bestseller list.

I, too, could be one of those writers whose books the person on the seat next to you on the airplane always seems to be reading.

In the 42 years I have worked full time—day in, day out—as a writer, producing, so far, 15 books (a couple of memoirs, a collection of essays and a bunch of novels). I have made it onto The New York Times list for a lifetime total of four weeks—back when the movie version of my novel Labor Day sent the novel that inspired it very briefly onto the charts. Other than that one heady moment, I have labored, like most of my writer friends, in one level or another of financial challenge. But I have held onto the undying faith that any day now, things might change, and all those readers out there who have been buying books by people like Jodi Picoult and James Patterson would suddenly realize what they were missing, and pick up one of mine, instead. And then I, too, would be one of those writers whose books the person on the seat next to you on the airplane always seems to be reading.

Meanwhile, I continue to drive a 1995 Honda Civic and clean my own bathroom. And, in my ungenerous moments, I confess to having harbored a certain not-particularly-attractive level of bitterness over the success of writers like John Grisham and—above all others—James Patterson, a man who holds the title as the world’s best-selling author, publishing so many novels a year that he needs a whole stable of collaborators just to keep up with the demand.

But when this MasterClass announcement showed up in my feed, a new thought came to me. I could hate the man for selling so many more books than I do. Or I could humbly acknowledge that maybe the guy knows something I don’t, and sign up for his class. Which I did.

PHOTO CREDIT: Micke

Confession: At the time I plunked down my $90 for James Patterson’s class, I had never actually read a novel by James Patterson. This didn’t keep me from having a low opinion of the man’s oeuvre. He was pandering to the masses, I told myself. Churning out schlock.

But here’s where another voice piped up in me. Over my many years of publishing my work (novels that may sell 5,000, or 10,000, or if I’m really on a roll, 20,000 copies, to James Patterson’s millions), one thing I’ve acquired is respect for readers. Readers may not be the ultimate arbiters of what makes great art, but they can sense a good story, and even more so, sense when something is inauthentic or written from a place of cynicism or contempt. If a writer approaches his or her story with the simple goal of selling a lot of books, the reader is likely to smell it, and stay away. Something in the work of James Patterson has kept readers ponying up their dollars over the course of a career that now includes 76 best sellers. Maybe I could learn a thing or two about what this quality might be. Maybe I could even acquire it?

So the other day I sat down to the first of the 22 lessons in the James Patterson MasterClass.

Now, just to be clear, I didn’t get to confer personally with my instructor. I also didn’t have to drive anyplace, or show up at a specified time. Paying the fee gave me access to an extremely well-designed website where, at any hour of day or night, I might tap into James Patterson’s lectures—pausing when I wanted, to work on one of the assignments that accompanies each lesson, in the hope that my words might even catch the eye of James Patterson himself. I could have taken as long as I wanted to absorb those 22 segments, but given that I’m not getting any younger here—and that 42 years is an awfully long time to have one’s books not showing up the bestseller list—I decided to get on with it.

I could hate the man for selling so many more books than I do. Or I could humbly acknowledge that maybe the guy knows something I don’t, and sign up for his class.

Just over three hours later, I officially graduated. And though I entered into this project with a large measure of skepticism—worse, even: I entered anticipating that his lessons might offer up some great comedy material—by the time the last lesson was over, and Mr. Patterson (Jim, to me, now) had set me loose to write my best seller, I had developed genuine respect for the man. Even affection. If I met him at a book festival some day, and the opportunity arose, I’d greet him like an old friend.

What changed? For starters, Mr. Patterson possesses an abundance of good, solid common sense and some genuinely valuable wisdom. Not necessarily about the art of writing, mind you. But about storytelling. And at the end of the day, if you ask me (and more importantly, if you ask readers and book buyers), that’s what matters most. A person can write the most beautiful, lyrical sentences (as James Patterson will be the first to tell you, he does not), but if the story doesn’t grab a reader by the throat, and—having grabbed on—hold her there, none of the rest may matter all that much.

Some of the topics Mr. Patterson covers in his MasterClass: Where he gets his ideas. How he designs his characters—and what makes a character compelling. Villains. Creating tension. Dialogue. Here he goes into some detail about the importance of writing dialogue that doesn’t sound like real life—which would be tedious. But rather, writing dialogue that’s wittier, tighter, more filled with dramatic tension and suspense, than what actually happens around the dinner table, or anyplace else in the real, not-particularly-exciting lives people try to escape when they pick up a James Patterson novel.

My friend James Patterson is a big believer in the importance of a great outline. These days, in fact, the outline may be the main thing he actually writes, while he turns over the actual writing to his stable of co-authors. This is how he manages to turn out three or four novels a year, and still fit in a few holes of golf most days.

Still, James Patterson believes in hard work. Seven days a week, in his case—though Mr. Patterson doesn’t call writing work, because he loves it so much. This is a man with an unmistakable passion for what he does.

Some other things James Patterson believes in: Research. Surprises. Action. (If a story isn’t galloping along, it’s sinking. Fast.) He’ll tell you that your first sentence had better be a killer. And that every page needs to contain a measure of drama and intrigue; suspense and excitement that keeps the reader in her chair. (I say “her chair” because it turns out that the vast majority of James Patterson’s millions of readers are women. A fact I might not have anticipated.)

James Patterson came to writing from the world of advertising, and he remains (as I, sadly, am not) a businessperson. “Don’t set out to write a good thriller,” he says. “Set out to write a No. 1 thriller.”

It’s a refreshing aspect to the man, that he harbors no illusions about his gifts. “Let’s face it,” he tells us. “I’m not writing War and Peace.”

“I’m not that concerned with style. …Don’t think about the sentences,” he advises. Just keep that train roaring along.

His stories may be unlike anybody else’s, but his MasterClass is hardly free of clichés: Writing is “a great ride.” A character’s dialogue “fits him like a glove,” and above all else, we should avoid “two-dimensional characters.” A big plot development is “an ‘aha’ moment.”

Screen shot 2015-08-03 at 3.01.01 PM

Never mind all that. The man understands dramatic storytelling. When he tells us to write in such a way that our words “turn on the movie projector” in a reader’s head,” I could not be more with him. I even say the same thing, almost word for word, to my own writing students, in the classes I teach, whose modest enrollment numbers (I now realize) probably have something to do with the fact that not once in all the years I’ve taught writing, myself, have I ever promised I could help anyone write a best seller.

Can James Patterson’s MasterClass accomplish that? Not if a person doesn’t have some natural instincts. (And from the writing samples submitted online by some of my fellow students, I can attest to how many do not.) The MasterClass has not been created—nor will it be—that can impart talent, or originality, or simply a good ear.

Still, James Patterson’s MasterClass is in no way a rip-off. Even if a person never finishes her novel, or finds an agent, or gets her work published, James Patterson will no doubt leave her feeling fired up to write a story. It will inspire people, and make them happy. It will not put them down. What James Patterson is selling here, as much as anything is a glimpse at the dream, and the feeling that it might actually be possible. (Among the segments in the MasterClass is one covering that age-old dilemma: “What to do when you sell your novel to Hollywood.” Now there’s a problem…)

As my friend Jim says, we should reach for the stars. There are worse things an individual might do than to nourish hope and enthusiasm for creative expression, or simple entrepreneurship. James Patterson is great at that. For the three hours it takes to listen to all 22 segments of his MasterClass, students may actually get to feel like writers. They can even post a few sentences of their work up there, and if they are among the lucky ones, James Patterson himself may actually offer up a response. One woman wanted to know how she might protect herself from the danger that someone, seeing her writing on the site—including Mr. Patterson himself, perhaps—might rip it off. Having seen her work, I might have told her not to worry.    

See how mean I can be? James Patterson would never say anything like that to one of his students, or dampen, in any way, their aspirations. To James Patterson, any one of us out there taking this class may be the next James Patterson. And if we aren’t… well, you don’t have to become Jimi Hendrix to get some joy out of fooling around on the guitar. And let’s not forget, Buddy Holly only played three chords.

GOOD LORD, I DID IT

I’ve been having to spend a lot of time on the internet this past weekend, yesterday, and today (time I would have rather spent doing other things, but this was necessary) rearranging the work on my literary blog so as to make it easier for agents, publishers, business partners, investors, etc. to locate my work in a single locale.

I did have my stuff scattered about on various “categories” on my blog(s) but that was apparently making it hard for agents and others to review my stuff. So on each blog I created a new category entitled: MY WRITINGS AND WORK

Now anyone can find anything I have created, written, or posted on my blogsites with a single click. This should be much, much more efficient and useful.

But it has been hard work to go back through all of my old posts, locate my work, and collate it into a single on-line collection.

So it has taken days (literally) of search, edit, and reorganize. But I’m halfway done with Wyrdwend, my literary blog, and as of now my new category/collection contains 88 pieces of my work. Including such things as my short stories, poetry, children’s stories, children’s books, songs, invention sketches, business articles, criticisms, scripts, graphic novels, essays, novel extracts, game designs, etc.

Whatever I have so far put up.

I figure when I finally finish with my archives by the end of the week the category/collection/link will contain about 160 or so pieces of original work.

Once that is done I’ll do the same for all of my other blogs, including Launch Port, Tome and Tomb, and the Missal.

By the way here is the collection link: MY WRITINGS AND WORK

THE GRASS IS DEAD

I disagreed with him on many things. I thought him an outright fool on more than one issue and occasion.

(Yes, yes, I know how literary “icons” and the modern intelligentsia and the types of men who believe politics to be the answer to all existence – human or otherwise – like to cluster around each other to breathlessly and mutually glorify their own supposed genius. But I am far more skeptical of “modern genius” in all its many fictional forms. As a matter of fact I rarely see any real evidence of the supposed “modern genius” of self-styled “modern geniuses,” and their numberless cohorts, ever, or at all.)

But narrowing his views down to the strictly literary disciplines I did often agree with him on these scores: there is a new illiteracy (not in the inability to read and write, but in the poverty of having ever read or written anything of any real value at all), and letter writing is dead and with it much of higher human writing.

Otherwise the Grass is dead too. I doubt it will ever green again.

Günter Grass, Nobel-winning German novelist, dies aged 87

Author of The Tin Drum and figure of enduring controversy
Günter Grass

Monday 13 April 2015 05.38 EDT
Last modified on Monday 13 April 2015 09.40 EDT

The writer Günter Grass, who broke the silences of the past for a generation of Germans, has died in hospital in Lübeck at the age of 87.

German president Joachim Gauck led the tributes, offering his condolences to the writer’s widow Ute Grass. “Günter Grass moved, enthralled, and made the people of our country think with his literature and his art,” he said in a statement. “His literary work won him recognition early across the world, as witnessed not least by his Nobel prize.”

“His novels, short stories, and his poetry reflect the great hopes and fallacies, the fears and desires of whole generations,” the statement continued.

Tributes began to appear within minutes of the announcement of Grass’ death on Twitter by his publisher, Steidl.

In the UK, Salman Rushdie was one of the first authors to respond, tweeting:

The Turkish Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk had warm personal memories: “Grass learned a lot from Rabelais and Celine and was influential in development of ‘magic realism’ and Marquez. He taught us to base the story on the inventiveness of the writer no matter how cruel, harsh and political the story is,” he said.

He added: “In April 2010 when there was a mushroom cloud over Europe he was in Istanbul and stayed more than he planned. We went to restaurants and drank and drank and talked and talked … A generous, curious and a very warm friend who also wanted to be a painter at first!”
A life in writing: Günter Grass
Read more

Grass found success in every artistic form he explored – from poetry to drama and from sculpture to graphic art – but it wasn’t until publication of his first novel, The Tin Drum, in 1959 that he found the international reputation which brought him the Nobel prize for literature 40 years later. A speechwriter for the German chancellor Willy Brandt, Grass was never afraid to use the platform his fame afforded, campaigning for peace and the environment and speaking out against German reunification, which he compared to Hitler’s “annexation” of Austria.

Grass was born in the Free City of Danzig – now Gdansk – in 1927, “almost late enough”, as he said, to avoid involvement with the Nazi regime. Conscripted into the army in 1944 at the age of 16, he served as a tank gunner in the Waffen SS, bringing accusations of betrayal, hypocrisy and opportunism when he wrote about it in his 2006 autobiography, Peeling the Onion.

The writer was surprised by the strength of the reaction, arguing that he thought at the time that the SS was merely “an elite unit”, that he had spoken openly about his wartime record in the 1960s, and that he had spent a lifetime “working through” the unquestioning beliefs of his youth in his writing. His war came to an end six months later having “never fired a shot”, when he was wounded in Cottbus and captured in a military hospital by the US army. That he avoided committing war crimes was “not by merit”, he insisted. “If I had been born three or four years earlier I would, surely, have seen myself caught up in those crimes.”

Instead he trained as a stonemason, studied art in Düsseldorf and Berlin, and joined Hans Werner Richter’s Group 47 alongside writers such as Ingeborg Bachmann and Heinrich Böll. After moving to Paris in 1956 he began working on a novel which told the story of Germany in the first half of the 20th century through the life of a boy who refuses to grow.

A sprawling mixture of fantasy, family saga, bildungsroman and political fable, The Tin Drum was attacked by critics, denied the Bremen literature prize by outraged senators, burned in Düsseldorf and became a global bestseller.
Günter Grass is my hero, as a writer and a moral compass
John Irving
Read more

Speaking to the Swedish Academy in 1999, Grass explained that the reaction taught him “that books can cause offence, stir up fury, even hatred, that what is undertaken out of love for one’s country can be taken as soiling one’s nest. From then on I have been controversial.”

A steady stream of provocative interventions in debates around social justice, peace and the environment followed, alongside poetry, drama, drawings and novels. In 1977 Grass tackled sexual politics, hunger and the rise of civilisation with a 500-page version of the Grimm brothers’ fairytale The Fisherman and His Wife. The Rat (1986) explored the apocalpyse, as a man dreams of a talking rat who tells him of the end of the human race, while 1995’s Too Far Afield explored reunification through east German eyes – prompting Germany’s foremost literary critic, Marcel Reich-Ranicki, to brand the novel a “complete and utter failure” and to appear on the cover of Der Spiegel ripping a copy in half.

His last novel, 2002’s Crabwalk, dived into the sinking of the German liner Wilhelm Gustloff in 1945, while three volumes of memoir – Peeling the Onion, The Box and Grimms’ Words – boldly ventured into troubled waters.

Germany’s political establishment responded immediately to the news of Grass’s death. The head of the German Green party, Katrin Göring-Eckardt, called Grass a “great author, a critical spirit. A contemporary who had the ambition to put himself against the Zeitgeist.”

“Günter Grass was a contentious intellectual – his literary work remains formidable,” tweeted the head of the opposition Free Democratic party, Christian Lindner.
Günter Grass in quotes: 12 of the best
Read more

The foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier was “deeply dismayed” at the news of the author’s death, a tweet from his ministry said.

Steinmeier is a member of the Social Democratic party, which Grass had a fraught relationship with – after campaigning for the party in 1960s and 70s, he became a member in 1982, only to leave ten years later in protest at its asylum policies.

“Günter Grass was a contentious intellectual who interfered. We sometimes miss that today,” SPD chairwoman Andrea Nahles said.

While there were plenty of tributes recognising Grass as one of Germany’s most important post-war writers, social media users swiftly revived many of the controversies of his divisive career, bringing up his membership of the SS and his alleged anti-Semitism.
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Speaking to the Paris Review in 1991, Grass made no apology for his abiding focus on Germany’s difficult past. “If I had been a Swedish or a Swiss author I might have played around much more, told a few jokes and all that,” he said. “That hasn’t been possible; given my background, I have had no other choice.”

The controversy flared up again following by publication of his 2012 poem What Must be Said, in which he criticised Israeli policy. Published simultaneously in the Süddeutsche Zeitung, the Italian La Repubblica and Spanish El País, the poem brought an angry response from the Israeli ambassador to Germany, Shimon Stein, who saw in it “a disturbed relationship to his own past, the Jews, and Israel”.

Despite his advanced age, Grass still led an active public life, and made vigorous public appearances in recent weeks. In a typically opinionated interview for state broadcaster WDR, which he gave in February after a live reading from Grimms’ Words, Grass called his last book a “declaration of love to the German language”.

He also talked about how the internet and the loss of the art of letter-writing had led to a “new illiteracy”. “Of course that has consequences,” he said. “It leads to a poverty of language and allows everything to be forgotten that the Grimm brothers created with their glorious work.”

He also remained critical of western policy in the Middle East (“now we see the chaos we make in those countries with our western values”), and talked about how his age had done nothing to soften his political engagement.

“I have children and grandchildren, I ask myself every day: ‘what are we leaving behind for them?’ When I was 17, at the end of the war, everything was in ruins, but our generation, whether for good reason or not, had hope, we wanted to shape the future. That’s very difficult for young people today, because the future is virtually fixed for them.”

GETTING MEDIEVAL

Wow. While doing my research this morning I just happened  (if you believe in that kinda thing) to run across Jeri Westerson’s Literary blog.

I have read several of her books, and as a matter of fact Shadow of the Alchemist was the last I read. I consider her one of the very best historical fiction authors (male or female) working today. I highly recommend her works, and her works have also influenced my own writings. So she is my Highmoot post for the day.

Here is the blog address: Getting Medieval

Here is her latest blog entry:

 

NEW PUBLICATION SCHEDULE

NEW PUBLICATION SCHEDULE

Recently I have been involved in a number of different projects that have left me little time for blogging. I have been writing the lyrics for my second album, Locus Eater, I have been writing and plotting my novel The Basilegate, I have been putting together a crowdfunding project for one of my inventions and one of my games, I have been helping with and compiling material for my wife’s new career as a public speaker, and helping my oldest daughter prepare to enter college. In addition I have been speaking with and seeking a new agent. I have even been preparing a new paper on some of the work of Archimedes and what I have gleaned from it. Finally I have been preparing my Spring Offensive, which is now completed.

All of which have kept me extremely busy.

However I have not been entirely ignoring my blogging either. In background I have been preparing a much improved Publication Schedule for all five of my blogs, my business blog Launch Port, my design and gaming blog Tome and Tomb, my personal blog The Missal, my amalgamated blog Omneus, and this blog,  Wyrdwend.

Now that most of these other pressing matters are well underway and on an even keel this allows me more time to return to blogging.

So below you will find my new Publication Schedule which I’ll also keep posted as one of the header pages on my blogs.

So, starting on Monday, March the 15th, 2015, and unless something unforeseen interferes this will be the Publication Schedule for this blog every week, including the Topic Titles and the general list of Subject Matters for that given day. That way my readers can know what to expect of any given day and what I intend to publish for that day. I will also occasionally make off-topic post as interesting material presents itself.

 

Wyrdwend – 11:00 – 12:00 AM

Monday: First Verse – Poem, Song, Music
Tuesday: Tuesday’s Tale – Short Story, Children’s Story, etc.
Wednesday: Highmoot – Reader Discussions and Commenting, Reblogs
Thursday: Hammer, Tongs, and Tools – Tools, Linked In, Essay, Non-Fiction, etc.
Friday: Bookends – Serialized Novel, Graphic Novel, Script
Saturday: The Rewrite – Reblog best Personal Posts, Review
Sunday – Sabbath

 

100

I’ve read the vast majority of these books. A few, about seven, I have not.

Some I regret having read at all, they were a complete waste of my time, like Catcher in the Rye, and I’d never read them again.

Some I have read more than once, such as Crime and Punishment or One Hundred Years of Solitude, some I read annually because they are that good, such as the Odyssey, and some I read continually and in different languages, such as the Bible.

This would not be my list, certainly not my order, but it is a fairly good list.

100 books everyone should read before they die (ranked!)

woman reading on bed with a dogjamelah/Flickr

Happy National Reading Month!

To celebrate, start working your way through this list of 100 Books To Read in a Lifetime, as voted on and ranked by users of Goodreads, the largest book recommendation site on the web.

Amazon, which owns Goodreads, had its editors agonize over their own list, but the two turned out very different.

Here’s the full, ranked list:

  1. “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee
  2. “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen
  3. “The Diary of Anne Frank” by Anne Frank
  4. “1984” by George Orwell
  5. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” by J.K. Rowling
  6. “The Lord of the Rings” (1-3) by J.R.R. Tolkien
  7. “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  8. “Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White
  9. “The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien
  10. “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott
  11. “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury
  12. “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Bronte
  13. “Animal Farm” by George Orwell
  14. “Gone with the Wind” by Margaret Mitchell
  15. “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger
  16. “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak
  17. “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain
  18. “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins
  19. “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett
  20. “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wadrobe” by C.S. Lewis
  21. The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck
  22. “The Lord of the Flies” by William Golding
  23. “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini
  24. “Night” by Elie Wiesel
  25. “Hamlet” by William Shakespeare
  26. “A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeleine L’Engle
  27. “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck
  28. “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens
  29. “Romeo and Juliet” by William Shakespeare
  30. “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams
  31. “The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  32. “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens
  33. “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  34. “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley
  35. “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” by J.K. Rowling
  36. “The Giver” by Lois Lowry
  37. “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood
  38. “Where the Sidewalk Ends” by Shel Silverstein
  39. “Wuthering Heights” Emily Bronte
  40. “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green
  41. “Anne of Green Gables” by L.M. Montgomery
  42. “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” by Mark Twain
  43. “Macbeth” by William Shakespeare
  44. “The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo” by Stieg Larrson
  45. “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley
  46. “The Holy Bible: King James Version”
  47. “The Color Purple” by Alice Walker
  48. “The Count of Monte Cristo” by Alexandre Dumas
  49. “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” by Betty Smith
  50. “East of Eden” by John Steinbeck
  51. “Alice in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll
  52. “In Cold Blood” by Truman Capote
  53. “Catch-22” by Joseph Heller
  54. “The Stand” by Stephen King
  55. “Outlander” by Diana Gabaldon
  56. “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” by J.K. Rowling
  57. “Enders Game” by Orson Scott Card
  58. “Anna Karenina” by Leo Tolstoy
  59. “Watership Down” by Richard Adams
  60. “Memoirs of a Geisha” by Arthur Golden
  61. “Rebecca” by Daphne du Maurier
  62. “A Game of Thrones” by George R.R. Martin
  63. “Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens
  64. “The Old Man and the Sea” by Ernest Hemingway
  65. “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” (#3) by Arthur Conan Doyle
  66. “Les Misérables” by Victor Hugo
  67. “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” by J.K. Rowling
  68. “Life of Pi” by Yann Martel
  69. “The Scarlet Letter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  70. “Celebrating Silence: Excerpts from Five Years of Weekly Knowledge” by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
  71. “The Chronicles of Narnia” by C.S. Lewis
  72. “The Pillars of the Earth” by Ken Follett
  73. “Catching Fire” by Suzanne Collins
  74. “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” by Roald Dahl
  75. “Dracula” by Bram Stoker
  76. “The Princess Bride” by William Goldman
  77. “Water for Elephants” by Sara Gruen
  78. “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe
  79. “The Secret Life of Bees” by Sue Monk Kidd
  80. “The Poisonwood Bible: A Novel” by Barbara Kingsolver
  81. “One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez
  82. “The Time Traveler’s Wife” by Audrey Niffenegger
  83. “The Odyssey” by Homer
  84. “The Good Earth (House of Earth #1)” by Pearl S. Buck
  85. “Mockingjay (Hunger Games #3)” by Suzanne Collins
  86. “And Then There Were None” by Agatha Christie
  87. “The Thorn Birds” by Colleen McCullough
  88. “A Prayer for Owen Meany” by John Irving
  89. “The Glass Castle” by Jeannette Walls
  90. “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot
  91. “Crime and Punishment” by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  92. “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy
  93. “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien
  94. “Siddhartha” by Hermann Hesse
  95. “Beloved” by Toni Morrison
  96. “Slaughterhouse-Five” by Kurt Vonnegut
  97. “Cutting For Stone” by Abraham Verghese
  98. “The Phantom Tollbooth” by Norton Juster
  99. “The Brothers Karamazov” by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  100. “The Story of My Life” by Helen Keller

WRITING FOR E-KIDS

As someone who writes books for kids, and enjoys writing books for kids, I both enjoyed this article and found it quite useful.

How to Create Picture Ebooks for Kids

Picture ebooks

Today’s guest post is by Laura Backes of Children’s Book Insider and Picture eBook Mastery.


Until recently, creating ebook versions of children’s picture books was something publishers reserved for their best-selling authors and illustrators. If you wanted to self-publish a picture ebook, you either needed to be a whiz at writing code, or you paid an ebook creation service to do it for you. (That said, it was possible to find a few services targeted toward publishing books for kids on Apple devices, such as Book Creator.)

Last September, Amazon released KDP Kids’ Book Creator, which allows the average Joe to create illustrated children’s books for the Kindle and upload them directly to Amazon. These books can be designed in the landscape format (to mimic the layout of print picture books) and can include text pop-ups that enlarge the text with a tap or a click, making it easier to read.

Side note: Using the KDP Kids’ Book Creator means you’re publishing through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing program. You can choose from several royalty structures within that program, and also choose whether or not to be included in KDP Select, which gives Amazon exclusive distribution of your ebook for a certain time period in exchange for marketing perks.

While the KDP Kids’ Book Creator still has a few rough spots (which Amazon is presumably ironing out in response to user feedback), it’s a good start. Those of us who have worked in children’s publishing for years recognized this move for what it was: a game changer.

Just how much has Amazon’s new free software changed the game?

With the release of the Kid’s Book Creator, as well as the Kindle Fire HD Kids Edition tablet, Amazon is investing in illustrated ebooks. And they need content.

So now comes the big question. Are you ready to ride this wave?

Not every self-published picture ebook will make it. Many will slip into oblivion as soon as they’re released.

Does Your Book Have a Fighting Chance?

Here are some positive signs.

You have a book that appeals to a niche market. Often publishers reject a manuscript simply because there isn’t a big enough audience to justify their expense to bring it to fruition. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the book shouldn’t exist. You’ll just have to make an effort to directly reach the consumers searching for the specific topic in your book.

If your story features a child with certain food allergies and how he must navigate snack time in preschool, you can write guest posts for parenting blogs that focus on these issues, or even blogs about nutrition and cooking. Many mommy bloggers welcome guest posts about all aspects of child care, and you can mention your book in your bio.

You already have a good online following. Jessica Shyba’s popular blog Momma’s Gone City, featuring photographs of her toddler and puppy at naptime, prompted publisher Jean Feiwel to offer her a two-book deal. Naptime with Theo & Beau was published by Feiwel and Friends in February, with a huge social media campaign using the hashtag #theoandbeau.

Could Shyba have chosen to self-publish the book and do the same thing? Sure. These days, authors and illustrators reach readers directly via their blogs, Twitter feeds and YouTube channels. Even if your blog is attracting the kind of people who would buy your picture book, you still have a potential customer base.

You want to begin establishing yourself as a professional author or illustrator. Waiting for an agent or editor to say yes can take months or years of submissions. Getting two or three picture ebooks out now means you’re working on creating a name for yourself and building a platform. If you do these books well, and market them smartly, you can build a reputation that can lead to more opportunities and possibly traditional book deals.

You have taken the time to study your craft. The quality of your work will be compared to those authors and illustrators who appear on the bestseller lists, so it must stand up to the scrutiny. Take classes in picture book writing and design, attend workshops, join a critique group, hire a professional editor. You want, and need, for your book to garner five-star reviews on Amazon, and not just from your mother. 

Why Your Book Might Not Make It

Your book has been rejected 25 times and you’re tired of submitting. Self-publishing won’t fix the flaws in a manuscript that had received nothing but form rejections from editors. Nor will it camouflage an ill-conceived story or writing that doesn’t appeal to the intended audience. You first need to figure out why the manuscript was rejected, and fix the problem.

You don’t have a solid marketing strategy. Complain all you want, but there is no way around it—if you want to sell books, you’ve got to market. And this goes for authors who are traditionally published as well. Don’t expect to post a link to your book on all your friends’ Facebook pages and call it a day.

You lack quality illustrations. This is crucial if you want your picture ebook to attract an audience. Remember that your first sales tool is your cover, and your second sales tool will be the first two pages of your book if you have Amazon’s Look Inside feature. If your illustrations look amateurish, the overall impression you’re giving potential customers is that this is not a professional product.

If you’re not an illustrator yourself, get the best illustrations you can afford. Start by checking the rates of some experienced illustrators. You can search the Illustrator Gallery of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, or find freelance illustrators at sites like elance.com.

If you decide to design your own illustrations, it’s wise to take a graphic design class so you learn the basics of font choices, image placement, and how things fit together best on a small screen. And speaking of the smaller screen, remember that the images should be clear and without too many tiny details so they can be easily viewed on a Kindle or iPad.

At the very least, the biggest hurdle toward successfully self-publishing picture ebooks doesn’t need to be the technology. Trust me, the KDP Kids’ Book Creator software is easy to use. Hundreds of authors and illustrators have already taken advantage of this opportunity, and are selling their books on Amazon—and they’re not all young upstarts who could use an app before they were potty trained!

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Laura Backes

For 25 years, Laura Backes has published Children’s Book Insider, The Children’s Writing Monthly. She is the co-creator of Picture eBook Mastery, an online course on how to use the KDP Kids’ Book Creator software to produce, upload and market picture ebooks on Amazon. To get her free, four-part mini video course, “Yes, You Can Publish a Kindle Picture eBook!” go to www.pictureebookmastery.com/yesyoucan. Laura can be reached through writeforkids.org.

THE CAVE OF THE UNKNOWN PROPHET

This is my second song (the lyrics) for my FAWM project and my new album, Locus Eater. I finished this three days or so ago but didn’t have time to write it up on finalize it.

I’ve been behind because I started late (only recently heard of FAWM – though I was already gonna write a new album), because of power outages, and because of repair issues, and family health problems. But I’m still working it. So here ya go, The Cave of the Unknown Prophet.

THE CAVE OF THE UNKNOWN PROPHET

The Cave of the Unknown Prophet
Glittering and bold
The dust of ancient ages
Relics all foretold

The throne of sceptered tyrants
Cast down with a curse
A man to grind down mountains
Cut valleys in the Earth

I saw the prophet wander
Across the broken skies
The future all in labor
While ruined kingdoms died;
His cave the great circumference
Round which the world did turn
His name is now forgotten
Yet still his omens burn

Cave of the Unknown Prophet
Well of the Wasted Past
Womb of the Coming Ages
Born in the world at last

He spoke of Countless Wonders
If only we would heed
The things he heard in thunder
When the dawn was but a dream

I saw the prophet’s anger
When we ignored his voice
The present much endangered
By our reckless, selfish choice;
The wind it moaned at midnight
The seas they rolled in fear
Time shook like an earthquake
Ruptures soon appeared

He asked of man a miracle
That love might guide his hand
Not hatred, blood, and murder
To soil and taint the land, but

The cave of the unknown prophet
Was buried with the man
Whatever he had foreseen
Written in the sand

I’ve looked a thousand ages
To find it all within
There are no maps or pages
To lead me back again

I saw the prophet Wizened
With the burden of his Sight
He sought to warn of darkness
We never saw the light

The Cave of the Unknown Prophet
Does he sit there waiting still
For us to finally answer, and
His words to be fulfilled?

THE FOUR WORKS

I’ve been working today on the “Four Types of Work“, loosely based in basic design on CS Lewis’ The Four Loves.

Already have basic definitions formulated and the main chapters arranged and outlined. Unlike Lewis’ book though it will be based far less on thought experiments and spiritual and theological intellectualizations than on pragmatic application.

THIS WEEK – FINALLY

Last week I had intended to reconstruct all of my blogs. To finally finish them and put them into the final format and technical shape I had originally intended for them.

Unfortunately every single day something came up to consume most of my days (my cat was attacked by another animal – probably a coyote – and had to be taken to the vet, my central air unit failed and required repairs, other people asked me to do things for them, etc, etc.) and so I never really got to my blogs. By the weekend I was pretty much exhausted and didn’t lift a finger.

So, that being the case I’ve decided to reconstruct one blog per week in February and spend the whole week on that blog. And I’m going back in the meanwhile to posting other content as well.

It’ll be a slower process but probably a more thorough one as well. And in this way I might even learn a few things I wouldn’t have last week.

I just hope and pray all of this crazy crap and distractions are finally over.

BOOKS ON THE MARKETS

Just finished ordering the latest copies of the Writer’s Market and the Songwriter’s Market.

Only cost me seven bucks. Because I had Christmas cards I had never used.

Now all I have to do is order the Agent’s Market and I’m set for the year.

MAN WORKING

For the rest of this week I will not be posting any original content to this blog or any of my blogs. Recently, due to my work schedule and other obligations, I have had very little time to work on the overall construction and the technical aspects of my blog(s). I had planned to complete those aspects of my blogs long ago but other things kept interfering.

So this week I have decided to spend the entire week finishing my originally planned construction-plans of my blogs to make it easier for agents, editors, publishers, and other songwriters and writers to find me and to communicate and work with me.

To that end I will spend the rest of the week finishing my original plans and retooling this site.

As I said, as it stands now I plan to add no more original content this week so as to finally finish my original designs without interruption or any more delays.

However you can still find a great deal of useful content in the various Categories already present on this blog, and on the Categories of all of my other blogs. Just pick the categories that interest you and browse at will. Uncategorized will allow you to find everything.

I will also be sharing useful articles, content, and posts I find on other sites as I run across them and time allows. But most of my time this week will be spent on blog development.

Thank you for being a Reader and Follower of my blogs, I appreciate your patronage and hope you find my blogs enjoyable, entertaining, and most especially, useful.

THE DARK ARTS

THE DARK ARTS – definitely worth the read and the reblog

Having worked a couple of corporate espionage cases myself, from the counter-espionage/defensive side of things, a couple of these articles were useful and fascinating.

BECKER AND BASE – TWO OF THE BEST ARTISTS I’VE EVER SEEN

I write Children’s books. I do not have the time to illustrate them right now, so I’d love to find an excellent illustrator, but that aside, I write children’s books. So almost every time I go to the library I check out at least two children’s books (picture books I mean, I also read Middle Grade and Young Adult books but that’s another post) to read and study.

Last time I went I got books by Aaron Becker and Graeme Base. Becker’s book, called Journey, was flat out illustration, the entire story was told just in pictures. The book by Base, entitled Animalia, (another favorite of mine by Base is the Waterhole) was both scripted and illustrated, and the artwork must have taken a very long time indeed to perfect. But it is that, nearly perfect. Of the two I preferred Animalia, because of the artwork, but the story in Journey was superior and reminded me of the video game Ico, which was also gorgeous, and had a superb story.

I highly recommend both books.

These are the caliber of artists I want illustrating my children’s books.

 

Have a great day folks.

IF YOU LIKE…

If you like Wyrdwend then you might also like my other blogs:

Launch Port my business, career, capital, investment, and inventions blog

The Missal – my personal blog

Tome and Tomb – my gaming and hobbies blog

THE ENTITLED TRIBUTARY TALES

These two posts, The Tributary Tales, and Conan, Baba Yaga, and Tôl Karuţha will explain what I mean by the Tributary Tales.

Suffice it to say that over the holidays (in my spare time between Thanksgiving and Christmas)  I made basic, and sometimes quite complicated, plot and character sketches of the Tributary Tales I wish to write.

Below is the new and expanded list of the Tributary Tales I will write and the titles for each story. I’ll post plot and character sketches and the stories themselves as I write them. I’ve made good progress on Tôl Karuţha and on My Battered Heart already, with the second being a graphic novel script, not a short story. The Godzilla story, Rising Son, will actually be a film script not a short story. But most all of the others will be short stories or short novellas.

I will work on these stories and scripts in my spare time, they will not interfere with my business, novel, or non-fiction work.

So, here is my list of entitled Tributary Tales:

THE TRIBUTARY TALES

Tales of the Fictional (or partially fictional) and Mythical Characters that had the most influence on me growing up or that in later life most appealed to me

AeneasThe Flight from Knossos
BatmanMy Battered Heart
BeowulfThe Good King Comes But Once
Cole and HitchThe Ravine Near Ridgewater
ConanThe Vengeance of Tôl Karuţha
DaredevilBlack and Blood Red
Doc SavageSavage Is as Savage Does
GalahadGalahad and the Golden Stag
GodzillaRising Son: The Eternal Ocean is my Womb
HephaestusThe Forging of the Titan’s Chain
Horatio HornblowerThe Jib’s Complaint
Jack AubreyThe American Problem
John CarterThe City Never Seen
John GaltFree is a Four Letter Word
Kirk and Spock (Star Trek original series) – The Battleship Remission
Lone RangerThe Cold Wind at Sunrise

Lovecraftian  – The Secret Grave of Harrow Hill

Merlin The Bones of Old Stone
Nathaniel Bumppo (Hawkeye) and ChingachgookBlood Feather
OrpheusNo Music May Soothe, or perhaps, Tears of Iron
ParsifalThe Sorcerer’s Swan
Philip MarloweThe Crooked Dane
Robin the HoodThe Fletcher and the Fulmen
RolandThe Menhir and the Moor
Sherlock HolmesThe Case of the 12 Septembers
SiegfriedThe Rhine-Wine (of the Black Elf)
Solomon KaneWith Evil Intent
SpenserHigh Roll Her
Taliesin (Taliesin Ben Beirdd) – Sweetly Sang yet Rarely Ventured
TarzanThe Ruins of Khumbar and the Slave Girl
Túrin TarambarThe Piercing of Melkor’s Doom

TOME AND TOMB

I’ve got some really good and interesting stuff up on my Gaming Blog today, including a Greek animated reproduction of the Tomb at Amphipolis.

Tome and Tomb

11 STEP GUIDE TO SCENE/SCREEN WRITING

11 STEP GUIDE TO SCENE/SCREEN WRITING

This is not my Tool, I did not write or create it. Nevertheless I think it is a very useful tool, and one worth using.

NOT THE WAY

Friday, December 12, 2014

How NOT to Query an Agent

Working for a literary agent, definitely has its moments of hilarity. My most recent reason to LOL? I was pitched to.

Yes. Me. The administrative assistant. And here is the crazy part: I was pitched a manuscript to an email address that really isn’t really common knowledge. And on top of that: I don’t get the query emails. That goes to a completely different person.

So why did it come to me, you ask?

I have no idea. Which prompted this post: how NOT to query a literary agent. Sharpen your pencils; get out your note pads, this is going to be riveting (and maybe save you the embarrassment of making easy, amateur mistakes)

  • You hear it everywhere. You’re about to hear it here too: READ THE SUBMISSION GUIDELINES ON OUR WEBSITE. Yes, I just used about every function on the Word program to emphasize that statement. Seriously, all your problems will be solved if you take a few minutes to get these few facts straight. When you do, you’re a sight for sore eyes for those of us who get the queries (or shouldn’t get the queries as the case may be…)
  • Don’t put your entire chapter outline/back cover copy/reasons why you wrote this story in the query letter. Take an hour (or two) and Google query letters. Figure out how to write a good one. Have a critique partner give it a once-over (at the least). This is your first impression. It needs to be a good—GREAT—one.
  • Don’t tell the agent that you are going to be “the next NYT bestseller” or “Nicolas Sparks” or “Janet Oke”. Yes, these things just came through in a query letter that landed in my inbox. And if you are going to claim to be the next hot name, please be sure to at least spell it right.
  • Don’t tell the agent that you need them to publish their book. Um, excuse me, but duh. Be humble when you approach an agent. They have a ton on their plate. Usually many, many authors that they are managing their books and careers. To take the time to read your next best synopsis is a chunk of time out of their day. Realize that it’s not all about your needs and frame the tone of your query accordingly.
  • Don’t give your life story. The reason why you wrote the book. The story behind the story. Nothing. Don’t go there. Stay away. The agent doesn’t care. Now, if he/she picks up the book, reads it, signs you to their agency and you become friends, well, then yes, you probably will tell them the why behind the book. But right now you’re not BFFs, you’re strangers. You wouldn’t walk up to a handsome stranger-dude at a cocktail party, stick out your hand and tell him all about your dog dying when you were four, right away would you? Of course not. Don’t do that to the agent you are querying either.

Yes, that’s a lot of don’ts. Believe it or not, these all came out of a query letter I should have never gotten this week. So: read the guidelines. Write a pithy, word-catchy query. Have a great product to share with the agent. Be humble. Be patient. Email the right person and you won’t become an illustration on some agent’s blog anytime in the near future. 😉

INFOGRAPHIC – SOME OF THE MOST POPULAR BOOKS

THESAURUS

http://tomeandtomb.wordpress.com/2014/12/02/product-review-the-storytellers-thesaurus-fantasy-history-horror/

JOHN MILTON’S OLD DIGS

Being a great fan of Milton’s poetry, I really liked this:

http://scribol.com/anthropology-and-history/paradise-lost-the-crumbling-english-manor-house-where-john-milton-once-lived/1

CHERNOBYL BY DRONE

Explore Chernobyl like never before, courtesy of a drone

Prepare to see Pripyat, home of the Soviet-era Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, like never before. A British man has used a drone to offer entirely new angle on the abandoned Soviet city, which became famous for the Chernobyl meltdown on April 26, 1986.

British videographer Danny Cooke made “Postcards from Pripyat, Chernobyl” in his spare time while filming a segment for CBS News. His aerial footage, recorded using a DJI Phantom 2 drone and a Canon 7D camera, provides a fascinating look at the iconic shots that have come to define a city that has been empty for decades: Decaying ferris wheels, neglected Soviet monuments, heavily-wooded city square.

“Chernobyl is one of the most interesting and dangerous places I’ve been,” Cooke wrote on Vimeo. “The nuclear disaster, which happened in 1986 (the year after I was born), had and effect on so many people, including my family when we lived in Italy. I can’t imagine how terrifying it would have been for the hundreds of thousands of locals who evacuated.””There was something serene, yet highly disturbing about this place,” he added. “Time has stood still and there are memories of past happenings floating around us.”

Photo via Danny Cooke/Vimeo

LE GUIN’S GOOD ADVICE

By the way I’ve said for years that “Show, don’t tell” may just be the single most juvenile and straight-jacketing piece of writing advice I’ve ever heard in my life. Show, don’t tell is an appropriate device for certain genres and in certain situations, it is the kiss of death for great literature and poetry.

 

 

10 Writing Tips from Ursula Le Guin

At the National Book Awards a few nights ago, Ursula Le Guin was honored with the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, a fancy sounding award that basically means she’s the bomb (she really is).

Ursula Le Guin writing quote

I’ve been reading Ursula Le Guin for a long time, since I first discovered The Earthsea Cycle, which re-invigorated my love for fantasy.

She’s also famous for her science-fiction, especially The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed, and was one of the first to show the world that women can not only write great science-fiction, they can often do it better than men.

Le Guin is a “genre” writer who constantly worked to push the boundaries of what we think of as genre. Besides sci-fi and fantasy, she wrote poetry, creative non-fiction, and literary fiction.

I honestly believe she will go down in history as one of the greatest writers, literary or otherwise, of the 20th century.

Ursula Le Guin’s Quotes on Writing

With that in mind, here are ten quotes from Ursula Le Guin on her process as a writer:

1. “Show, Don’t Tell” is for Beginners

From ursulakleguin.com:

Thanks to “show don’t tell,” I find writers in my workshops who think exposition is wicked. They’re afraid to describe the world they’ve invented.… This dread of writing a sentence that isn’t crammed with “gutwrenching action” leads fiction writers to rely far too much on dialogue, to restrict voice to limited third person and tense to the present.

2. So Is “Write What You Know”

From ursulakleguin.com:

As for “Write what you know,” I was regularly told this as a beginner. I think it’s a very good rule and have always obeyed it. I write about imaginary countries, alien societies on other planets, dragons, wizards, the Napa Valley in 22002. I know these things. I know them better than anybody else possibly could, so it’s my duty to testify about them.

3. Do Your Job as a Writer, and Do it Really Well

From Paris Review:

But when people say, Did you always want to be a writer?, I have to say no! I always was a writer (tweet that, emphasis mine). I didn’t want to be a writer and lead the writer’s life and be glamorous and go to New York. I just wanted to do my job writing, and to do it really well.

4. Shoot for the Top, Always.

Ursula Le Guin writing quote

From Paris Review:

When asked what authors she measures her work against, Le Guin says:

Charles Dickens. Jane Austen. And then, when I finally learned to read her, Virginia Woolf. Shoot for the top, always. You know you’ll never make it, but what’s the fun if you don’t shoot for the top? (tweet that)

5. Write Like Who You Are

From Paris Review:

Hey, guess what? You’re a woman. You can write like a woman. I saw that women don’t have to write about what men write about, or write what men think they want to read. I saw that women have whole areas of experience men don’t have—and that they’re worth writing and reading about.

6. Learn from the Greats

From Paris Review:

It was Borges and Calvino who made me think, Hey, look at what they’re doing! Can I do that?

7. Writing is All About Learning to See

Ursula Le Guin writing quote

From Paris Review:

A very good book tells me news, tells me things I didn’t know, or didn’t know I knew, yet I recognize them— yes, I see, yes, this is how the world is. Fiction—and poetry and drama—cleanse the doors of perception. (tweet that)

I love this, by the way. It reminds me of Oscar Wilde’s quote, “No great artist ever sees things as they really are. If he did, he would cease to be an artist.”

8. Begin Your Story with a Voice

From Paris Review:

How should you begin your story?

With a voice. With a voice in the ear. That first page I wrote, which the novel progressed from, is simply Lavinia speaking to us—including me, apparently.

9. Focus on the Rhythm of the Story

From Paris Review:

I want the story to have a rhythm that keeps moving forward. Because that’s the whole point of telling a story. You’re on a journey—you’re going from here to there. It’s got to move. Even if the rhythm is very complicated and subtle, that’s what’s going to carry the reader.

10. Don’t Waste Time

From Paris Review:

And one of [the things you learn as you get older] is, you really need less… My model for this is late Beethoven. He moves so strangely and quite suddenly sometimes from place to place in his music, in the late quartets. He knows where he’s going and he just doesn’t want to waste all that time getting there…. One is aware of this as one gets older. You can’t waste time.

How about you? What do you love about Ursula Le Guin? What has she taught you about writing?

PRACTICE

Use tip #5 and write like who you really are.  Write like a woman or a man or an American or an alien or an Ursula Le Guin or a Joe Bunting. Write just as you are.

Write for fifteen minutes. When your time is up, post your practice in the comments section. And if you post, please be sure to give feedback to a few other writers.

Happy writing!

About Joe Bunting

Joe Bunting is a writer and entrepreneur. He is the author of the #1 Amazon Bestseller Let’s Write a Short Story! and the co-founder of Story Cartel. You can follow him on Twitter (@joebunting).

THE OLD AND UNSEEN THINGS…

Fascinating! And yes, I remember analog computers.

36 Rarely Seen Photos From History.

1. Moving a 7600 ton apartment building to create a boulevard in Alba Iulia, Romania, 1987

1. Moving a 7600 ton apartment building to create a boulevard in Alba Iulia, Rom...

2. Black officer protecting KKK member from protesters, 1983

2. Black officer protecting KKK member from protesters, 1983...

3. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev as a young gentleman, 1986

3. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev as a young gentleman, 1986...

4. Hannah Stilley, born 1746, photographed in 1840. Probably the earliest born individual captured on film

4. Hannah Stilley, born 1746, photographed in 1840. Probably the earliest born i...

GRIMLY GRIMM

Indeed. The original Tales (and I’ve read several of them) are powerful and horrific, more like the uncensored stories of Baba Yaga. The revised tales are mostly impotent and simple-minded by comparison.

Grimm brothers’ fairytales have blood and horror restored in new translation

‘It is time for parents and publishers to stop dumbing down the tales for children,’ says editor of uncut edition
Grimm

Not for kids … an illustration from the new edition of Grimms’ fairytales. Illustration: © Andrea Dezsö

Alison Flood

Wednesday 12 November 2014 06.09 EST

    

Rapunzel is impregnated by her prince, the evil queen in Snow White is the princess’s biological mother, plotting to murder her own child, and a hungry mother in another story is so “unhinged and desperate” that she tells her daughters: “I’ve got to kill you so I can have something to eat.” Never before published in English, the first edition of the Brothers Grimms’ tales reveals an unsanitised version of the stories that have been told at bedtime for more than 200 years.

The Grimms – Jacob and Wilhelm – published their first take on the tales for which they would become known around the world in December 1812, a second volume following in 1815. They would go on to publish six more editions, polishing the stories, making them more child-friendly, adding in Christian references and removing mentions of fairies before releasing the seventh edition – the one best known today – in 1857.

Jack Zipes, professor emeritus of German and comparative literature at the University of Minnesota, says he often wondered why the first edition of the tales had never been translated into English, and decided, eventually, to do it himself. “Though the Grimms kept about 100 of the tales from the first edition, they changed them a good deal. So, the versions with which most English-speaking (and German-speaking) readers are familiar are quite different from the tales in the first edition,” he told the Guardian.

His version of the original 156 stories is just out from Princeton University Press, illustrated by Andrea Dezsö, and shows a very different side to the well-known tales, as well as including some gruesome new additions.

How the Children Played at Slaughtering, for example, stays true to its title, seeing a group of children playing at being a butcher and a pig. It ends direly: a boy cuts the throat of his little brother, only to be stabbed in the heart by his enraged mother. Unfortunately, the stabbing meant she left her other child alone in the bath, where he drowned. Unable to be cheered up by the neighbours, she hangs herself; when her husband gets home, “he became so despondent that he died soon thereafter”. The Children of Famine is just as disturbing: a mother threatens to kill her daughters because there is nothing else to eat. They offer her slices of bread, but can’t stave off her hunger: “You’ve got to die or else we’ll waste away,” she tells them. Their solution: “We’ll lie down and sleep, and we won’t get up again until the Judgement Day arrives.” They do; “no one could wake them from it. Meanwhile, their mother departed, and nobody knows where she went.”

Rapunzel, meanwhile, gives herself away to her captor when – after having a “merry time” in the tower with her prince – she asks: “Tell me, Mother Gothel, why are my clothes becoming too tight? They don’t fit me any more.” And the stepmothers of Snow White and Hansel and Gretel were, originally, their mothers, Zipes believing that the Grimms made the change in later editions because they “held motherhood sacred”. So it is Snow White’s own mother who orders the huntsman to “stab her to death and bring me back her lungs and liver as proof of your deed. After that I’ll cook them with salt and eat them”, and Hansel and Gretel’s biological mother who abandons them in the forest.

Zipes speculates that the Grimms’ changes were “reflecting sociologically a condition that existed during their lifetime – jealousy between a young stepmother and stepdaughter”, because “many women died from childbirth in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and there were numerous instances in which the father remarried a young woman, perhaps close in age to the father’s eldest daughter”.

Cinderella’s stepsisters go to extraordinary attempts to win the prince in the original Grimms version of the tale, slicing off parts of their feet to fit the golden slipper – to no avail, in the end, because the prince spots the blood spilling out of the shoe. “Here’s a knife,” their mother urges, in Zipes’ translation. “If the slipper is still too tight for you, then cut off a piece of your foot. It will hurt a bit. But what does that matter?”
Grimm Not such innocent fun … an illustration from the new translation of How Some Children Played at Slaughtering. Illustration: © Andrea Dezsö/PR

Zipes describes the changes made as “immense”, with around 40 or 50 tales in the first edition deleted or drastically changed by the time the seventh edition was published. “The original edition was not published for children or general readers. Nor were these tales told primarily for children. It was only after the Grimms published two editions primarily for adults that they changed their attitude and decided to produce a shorter edition for middle-class families. This led to Wilhelm’s editing and censoring many of the tales,” he told the Guardian.
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Wilhelm Grimm, said Zipes, “deleted all tales that might offend a middle-class religious sensitivity”, such as How Some Children Played at Slaughtering. He also “added many Christian expressions and proverbs”, continued Zipes, stylistically embellished the tales, and eliminated fairies from the stories because of their association with French fairy tales. “Remember, this is the period when the French occupied Germany during the Napoleonic wars,” said Zipes. “So, in Briar Rose, better known as Sleeping Beauty, the fairies are changed into wise women. Also, a crab announces to the queen that she will become pregnant, not a frog.”

The original stories, according to the academic, are closer to the oral tradition, as well as being “more brusque, dynamic, and scintillating”. In his introduction to The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm, in which Marina Warner says he has “redrawn the map we thought we knew”, and made the Grimms’ tales “wonderfully strange again”, Zipes writes that the originals “retain the pungent and naive flavour of the oral tradition”, and that they are “stunning narratives precisely because they are so blunt and unpretentious”, with the Grimms yet to add their “sentimental Christianity and puritanical ideology”.

But they are still, he believes, suitable bedtime stories. “It is time for parents and publishers to stop dumbing down the Grimms’ tales for children,” Zipes told the Guardian. The Grimms, he added, “believed that these tales emanated naturally from the people, and the tales can be enjoyed by both adults and children. If there is anything offensive, readers can decide what to read for themselves. We do not need puritanical censors to tell us what is good or bad for us.”

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