Become a Writer

To become a writer you need to write, but if you need a 17 minute break or just want a justifiable excuse for not writing, watch this video from Paul Auster on “How I Became a Writer.” The beginning may seem a bit slow, but stick with it. His thoughts on a day’s work, the rhythm of writing, what it means to be an artist, and other things are interesting. It might even perk you up on those days when you feel frustrated as a writer.

All the Light We Cannot See

This is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. Set prior to and during WWII, a young blind girl in Paris and a German teenage boy who is an electronics/communications prodigy are unknowingly connected via radio transmissions. The lives of both are changed unexpectedly by war and a sought after precious stone that is both a blessing and a curse to possess.

I thought I would not want to read another WWII book, but this one drew me in with its emphasis on individuals and how they deal with what life throws at them. It’s a character-driven book with a bit of mystery and thriller thrown in.

Bookstores Returning Books

An article at Writers Weekly explains why publishers should not accept returns:

The article is repetitious but presents a valid argument and a good explanation of how the return process works and how it affects everyone in the chain. As writers, it’s important to learn about the business we’re in.

First Solo Book Signing

JPEG Encoder Copyright 1998, James R. Weeks and BioElectroMech.I admit I hesitated scheduling my Beaufort, NC book signing/fundraiser on Saturday, Sept. 13. An introvert by nature, I grew more nervous as the date drew closer, but it turned out to be a lucky day and I had fun chatting with fellow animal lovers.

Instead of reading, I felt more comfortable simply telling an excerpt from whichever book people were most interested in. That encouraged an exchange as they then told me their stories. I sold out of both Chicken Soup for the Soul books I brought, The Cat Did What? and My Dog’s Life, sold out. Dogs outsold cats 2:1 and I took orders for more. I will continue to donate all proceeds from my sales of My Dog’s Life to the local Humane Society shelter.

I held the event in my town’s new pet store, and they gained some new customers as a result. Everybody won!

Story vs Craft

Plot, pacing, dialog, voice, and sentence structure are just a few of the aspects of craft we writers are supposed to be aware of. Not bad advice, overall, especially when submitting to an editor or publishing house, but readers may have different priorities.

In the July issue of The Writer, Jack Hamman’s article about his Men Only book club says that members spend little, if any, time on those things. They concentrate on the story or subject. Was it compelling? Did it challenge their beliefs? Could they relate to it?

Something to think about, especially for self-publishers. I’m not suggesting that you throw anything together and self-publish it. Story is still the number one priority. If the subject fails to grab a reader or an editor, they will not keep reading.

The Wind Is Not a River

Just finished reading The Wind Is Not a River by Brian Payton. It’s a book that will stay with me.

A journalist and a young American soldier survive a WWII plane crash and end up on an Aleutian island occupied by the Japanese and with few resources. No one knows they are there. The stronger part of the story is about what these two do to survive. Everything felt real and believable to me. Less strong is that of the journalist’s wife who decides to leave Seattle and try to find her husband. She certainly has less to contend with than her husband, but the main thing is the author does not get inside her head as completely as he does with the two men. I cannot imagine anyone predicting how this book ends.

I knew nothing about the war in the Aleutians before reading this book so that was a bonus. The history is woven into the plot well so it never feels like a lesson. Unlike some other historical fiction, this book does not distort. It is a fictional story placed in time.

Two scenes disturbed me: what happens to the American soldier and what happens to one of the Japanese. Disturbing = not sure I wanted that to happen plus makes me think about what I would have done in that situation. Not a bad thing – makes the book stick with me after reading it.