How did people make leather 100 years ago?

fez-1691608_640Karel, one of two main characters in my American Gold novel which takes place during 1911 – 1913, worked in the leather trade in the Czech Republic.
tannery-505200__340 Tanneries were not the most pleasant places to work because of the smelly materials and acids used in the process.

Other people in the area avoided getting too close, and towns sometimes required tanneries to be a required distance outside of town. Early zoning ordinances, perhaps?

I don’t know all the jobs my grandfather might have done. My mother told me that the job of scraping the flesh off animal skin was painstaking work. She said if the skin was not scraped clean, it would rot.

I only know that by his mid to late twenties, my grandfather called himself a “staker.” By the time a hide reached the staker, it was relatively clean and ready to be stretched. Stretching helped leather stay flexible.
You can find out more about the whole process during Edwardian times here.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Which literary movement do you belong in?

Whether you’re a reader or a writer: Just for fun, which literary movement do you belong in? Take the quiz and find out. I got the Lost Generation with Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Kafka, and James Joyce. Great company! Hemingway is one of my favorites.

Romantics, Transcendentalists, Gothic, the Beat Generation … find out where you fit in.

Save

Save

Publishers: Big 5, Small Presses, and You

We’re down to the Big 5 in publishing, but the number of imprints buried under those big names is mind-boggling. Trying to find out who owns who can feel like forging a path through a jungle. Here’s link to a current chart that helps to sort out who owns who.

Some writers prefer a small press because you often get more individual attention there. These publishers are more likely to take a risk with a new author or a niche market than the big print houses are. To help explore these, Poets & Writers magazine has a database of small presses to check out.

book-147086_640There’s always the do-it-yourself option where you are the publisher but farm out certain tasks. The Alliance of Independent Authors can help you here. You don’t have to be a one person band. an help you here. Not only do authors share advice, but the organization vets vendors so you ‘re not choosing cover design, production, promotion, or other services in the dark.

Which path will you choose?

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

What is Wattpad? Is Wattpad Right for You?

Wattpad may be right for you if you

  • Share or want to share free content serially to promote your writing
  • Want to reach a younger demographic

Orna Ross interviewed North Carolina cozy mystery writer Elizabeth Spann Craig on October 15, 2015 about her experience with Wattpad.

smartphone-768352_640According to Elizabeth, Wattpad has 40 million users, 85% of which are mobile users. 45% are age 13 to 18, 40% are age 18 to 30. (As of January 2014, Wattpad had 24 million. Impressive growth!)

With most of her readership considered seniors, Elizabeth wanted to expand her audience demographic. But would those younger readers take to an octogenarian sleuth? Elizabeth tried Wattpad which includes a demographic tab that gives you reader’s age and geographic location.

Results after a year and a half:

  • She received positive feedback and people said they would purchase her other books
  • She picked up a reader in assisted living who cannot access books any other way, so all ages are on the platform
  • 25% of her Wattpad readers are male
  • She gained readers in Africa, Philippines, India, and elsewhere around the world. (She used to have zero income from India. Now her income from India exceeds that from the UK.)
  • She was offered a cross promotion that yielded a lot of reads.

For more, here’s a link to an interview Joanna Penn did in 2014 with Ashleigh Gardner, Head of Content at Wattpad. Gardner says Wattpad has users in every country.

Depending on where you are with your writing, Wattpad may or may not be right for you now, but it’s something I’m keeping in mind.

Save

Save

Does your male character talk like a woman?

Do you think you’re pretty good at writing dialogue for your male characters? Does your female antagonist talk like a woman or a man?

For example, women tend to use grades of words, i.e., crimson instead of red. Chartreuse instead of green. Things are marvelous with women. The same things are just okay or good with men.

woman-1716982_640Test your gender dialogue writing skills with this free “gender guessing” tool.

Originally written to try to determine if the writer was a male or female, the analysis should work just as well for our written dialogue. Just copy and paste dialogue into the box and see.

For best results, submit at least 300 words. You probably don’t have a chunk that large handy, so you you may need to copy random portions of speech from the same character.

Writers Digest offers more tips on the differences.

 

Save

Is your story proportional?

When Peter Makuck, a North Carolina poet and short story writer of some renown, received feedback on a story he submitted to his editor, he was told his story structure was not proportional.

I knew about various types of story structure and about character arcs, but I’d never heard of story proportion. Was proportion just another word for structure? Pacing?

disproportionalMakuck’s story included a scene followed by a two-sentence summary followed by another scene. That two-sentence summary was out of proportion and made the piece choppy.

Rereading his story, Makuck agreed and rewrote the two-sentence summary as a scene. He realized his editor was right. The revised story structure mad his story proportional and it flowed much better.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Just Who Do You Think You Are?

If you’ve ever applied for an artist grant or residency, you are probably familiar with the “artist statement” request.

How much of me do I share?

How much of me do I share?

What do you write if they give no hint as to what they want to see?

How do you finesse the fine line between highlighting your accomplishments and goals without coming across as a braggart?

To make writing an artist statement less time consuming and agonizing the next time I need to write one, I saved this post from Brevity’s nonfiction blog

The post also mentioned that this exercise can help us recommit to why and what we write.

If I were really smart, I’d write one now so I’d be ready to go the next time I see an opportunity with a short deadline or the next time I feel my writing has gone off track. Maybe next weekend…

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Free Author Conference! Giveaways! No Strings!

The free online conference is over. If you totally missed it, recordings are now available on YouTube. Search there for Alliance of Independent Authors.

The Alliance of Independent Authors Oct. 22 – 23 online conference is free to members home-office-336377_640and non-members. I attended one earlier conference as a non-member and never received any spam from ALLi about joining or buying anything. The sessions were truly informative and not sales pitches in disguise as most online “free advice” seems to be these days.

Even if your goal is to be traditionally or subsidy published, you’ll find something of value. There are sessions on contract rights, creativity, productivity, and more. Just pick and choose what interests you.

It’s a 24-hour conference but all sessions are recorded so you can watch the ones you miss whenever it’s convenient. Register for the conference to be notified when recordings are available and to be eligible to sign up for the giveaways.

Save

Save

Save

Literary fiction. Genre?

Joanna Penn recently interviewed Orna Ross about literary fiction, genre, setting, and creativity, all in under 20 minutes. The recording is worth a listen, not only for the information, but because of their delightful accents–one English, one Irish.

I admire both of these women writers. I’ve been following Joanna since her early years as a writer. She continues to freely share her successes and stumbles with developing writers like me.

Orna Ross’s creativity goes beyond writing. ALLi (Alliance of Independent Authors) grew from her idea. She publishes fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.

 

Words to Live By

Fictional characters have advice for the living:

“…the actual world is worth all your strength. Never hold back a cent of all your strength. Never hold back a cent of all you own and bear inside you, spend it all, die empty-handed. Any trace of stinginess is worse than dying young.”  ~ spoken by Roxanna Slade in the novel of the same name written by Reynolds Price.Give life your all!

Save

Save

Save

Save