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Book Review: Let’s Write a Short Story! by Joe Bunting


Let’s Write a Short Story! is a direct and to the point guide to writing compelling short stories for publication. In the book Joe coaches, motivates and challenges you to not only write a short story, but submit it for publication to literary journals and magazines.

At once Joe describes the hard, honest reality of what it takes to get published in a literary journal or magazine, but assures you it can be done and shows you how.

He gives you the key distinctions of what a short story is and how it differs from longer forms of storytelling. There are frequent writing prompts to get you into the creative flow.

The book is informative while and the writing’s economical – cutting to the chase and giving you what you need to get started fast. It’s an easy read packed with great content discussing topics such as three different story structure types:

  1. The classic 3-Act Structure
  2. The Book Jacket Structure
  3. A Story with a Hole in it

Besides description, action and dialog; the book explores subjects like: varying sentence length, being lyrical, using allusions and eponyms, alliteration, consonance and assonance. If you’re not sure what these are – you will after reading Let’s Write a Short Story!

The book also effectively covers:

  • A fantastic section on editing your story
  • How to format your story for submission
  • Writing a cover letter that gets results
  • How to promote your writing
  • Building a platform that works

If you ever wanted to write good short stories that’ll get read, or want to use the short story platform to jump start your writing career, I can’t think of a better book than Let’s Write a Short Story! You’ll refer to it again and again.

You can join other like-minded short story tellers at Joe’s other site: http://letswriteashortstory.com/


 
Joe Bunting is also the publisher of the blog The Write Practice, which in itself is a great writer’s resource.

Follow Joe on Twitter and Facebook


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Writing Without Limits

David Gaughran published a guest post article on his excellent blog Let’s Get Digital, by thriller writer, Matthew Iden. In the article Matthew discussed the End of Limits in writing and publishing stories. Gone is the need for specific word counts for specific genres of fiction and whether or not you are a new or established author.

If you can tell a good story in 20,000 words, then good on you, but if you have an epic saga taking readers on a journey of a million words or more – then go for it. The limitations of the Big 6 Publishers no longer apply in the limitless digital universe.

When I read the post and the accompanying links, I thought to myself, “You mean I no longer have to plan and outline a thriller story and try and hit the 80,000 word mark? Or needing to make sure a YA novel has to be around the 16k mark?”

The idea hit me upside the head like a late-winter slushy snowball. It really made me sit up and take notice. It was like I was given permission to write a fast-paced thriller with less than 50,000 words or take a YA novel over the 20k mark – or down to 13k.

Word count no longer matters – only story. This is as it should be and should always have been. As the article said, “Story is as story does”, damn straight.

(I wonder what this will mean to NaNoWriMo over the long term?)

I’ve also been reading that strict genre guidelines no longer really matter. If a story can be well told, people are blurring the lines between genres, like high-fantasy-cyberpunk, and finding ready audiences for what they’re publishing.

The article got me thinking about stories I’ve written, but never published because I thought they were lacking because the word count wasn’t where the “norm” was supposed to be.

I have a 23,000 word coming of age story, a 35,000 word road trip story and a series of YA stories in the 10-12k range. I also have a 15,000 word humor story of the correspondence between 4 friends in the mid-1980’s during the earliest days of e-mail, before it was even called e-mail.

The article left me feeling I need to go out and find an editor and a book cover designer for these stories and put them out in that digital universe…and see what journey ensues.

It’s finally sinking in, that in this New Era of Writing and Publishing; you can write what you want…anything at all, just tell a good story.

National Novel Writing Month is Coming

Although the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo for those in the know) doesn’t begin until November 1st, it’s always a great idea to start planning your 50,000 word masterpiece now. Starting today October 1st, you have 30 days to get a story idea, sketch or outline put together in that time, so when the clock strikes 12:00 am on 11/1/2011, you’ll be ready to get your first 1,667 words down for the day – and for each of the remaining 29 days afterward. To join the insanity sign up at NaNoWriMo.

To help you out are a couple of really cool resources. First, there’s author Larry Brooks over at StoryFix.com who has started a 31 day marathon of informational posts to help anyone participating in NaNoWriMo. The posts are titled Nail Your NaNoWriMo.

Check out Larry’s information packed blog it’s great. Also, if you haven’t already picked it up, his book Story Engineering is an indispensible tool in helping you craft your story into a saleable novel.

Here are his first two posts:
Nail Your NaNoWrMo #1 – 31 Empowering Posts in 31 Days
Nail Your NaNoWrMo #2 – Keep Your Character Close to Home

The other cool resource comes from WriteWay. From now until December 15th, you can use their novel writing software WriteWayPro – for free. This cool tool combines the power of a full-featured word processor and a host of organizational and project management tools geared specifically for novelists. Everything pertaining to your manuscript is at your fingertips–from background data including your notes, character profiles, research folders, synopsis, etc., to your story outline and composition. You’ll also see your word/page counts calculate on the fly and have the ability to adjust your writing session goals as needed.

For NaNoWriMo participants only go to this page to get the full professional edition to use for free until December 15th, and if you find you like WriteWayPro, you can use the promotional code of NANO-PRO11 to get the software for 50% off until December 31, 2011.

Here’s a quick overview video of how you can use WriteWayPro. It’s better viewed in full-screen mode.

Like I said, it’s a pretty cool tool. When you combine this with the advice Larry is providing, you’re sure to see NaNoWriMo to a successful finish.


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Print Continues to Disappear

Lot’s of news in the world of eBooks.
First, Reuters reported that the Huffington Post joined The New York Times, The Boston Globe and Vanity Fair, among publications getting into the lucrative and growing ebook business.

  • The Boston Globe added a trio of ebooks about gangster James “Whitey” Bulger
  • The New Yorker released a collection of post 9/11 articles for its first ebook
  • The New York Times published an ebook on Wikileaks called Open Secrets
  • Vanity Fair produced an ebook of stories about Elizabeth Taylor

In addition, The Washington Post and ABC News published ebooks about the killing of Osama Bin Laden.

Then one of my favorite ebook industry bloggers, author David Gaughran wrote a detailed article on his blog Let’s Get Digital, about a report from the American Association of Publishers. It shows the steepening decline of all print books and the year over year ascension of ebooks increasing 167% from June 2010 to June 2011.


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Growing Pains of the Ebook Revolution

“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.
Arthur Schopenhauer
German philosopher (1788 – 1860)

 

David Gaughran wrote a brief, but excellent blog article about the continued death spiral of print.

There’s a huge “ripple effect” to this death spiral.

As the big box bookstores and indie bookstores close, it will lead to:

  • Job losses
  • Lost tax revenue for the municipalities in which they operated
  • Lost income to the building leaseholders, which can also cause more job losses
  • With stale or decreasing print inventory, the distribution warehouses will also begin to suffer the same fate

As people and educational organizations continue to embrace ereaders, this will affect:

  • The major publishing houses bottom lines. As they close or merge and consolidate this will also lead to job losses and empty office space
  • The printing industry will also take a major hit and produce further job losses which will lead to
  • Paper companies having to cut way back on production, and maybe even close, putting more people out of work
  • This in turn will affect the lumber industry with the decreased demand of paper

The self-deluded can deny it all they want, but in five years print will be only a fraction of what it was. Ereaders will be the dominant format.

This evolution falls in line with the advent of the automobile, making horses for transportation obsolete; word processing software on the computer making typewriters obsolete; CD’s making vinyl records obsolete and MP3 files in turn making CD’s obsolete. DVD’s made VHS tapes obsolete. With the increasing popularity and decreasing cost of On Demand services, the DVD market is also rapidly becoming obsolete.

Change is often painful, but change happens – always and inevitably – and we must embrace it.

Don’t get me wrong, I love books. I have shelves and shelves of them. I also still have vinyl LP records, but I haven’t listened to them in 20 years. They sit in storage bins in a closet. I own CD’s I haven’t touched in several years as I have all the songs I want on my iPod.

The coming changes paint a grim picture…for the short term. However, as with all the industries that succeeded older ones, there is a rosier picture.

As always, new technologies will create new industries, which will lead to new jobs and revenue creation. Over the short term, many people will be going into business offering editing and illustration services as ebooks and ereaders continue to evolve into more interactive formats. There will be those offering marketing services as competition increases among authors. Astute agents will find and recognize ways to take authors to new publishing heights. Even indie filmmakers will find work creating trailers for ebooks. There’s even the possibility that some of these indie authored manuscripts will be optioned for films.

In the long-term, there are industries and jobs that will be created that we can’t yet imagine.

Another positive benefit of this evolution will be to that of the green movement. With less paper used, this saves on metric tons of waste annually – not to mention slowing down the deforestation of more sensitive areas.

It’s coming people. Get on board or get left behind.

The Truth on How to Write a Book

This is article is on best selling author Scott Berkum’s blog . In short it’s excellent:

Every author I know gets asked the same question: How do you write a book?…

Here’s the short honest truth: 20% of the people who ask me are hoping to hear this – Anyone can write a book. They want permission. Truth is you don’t need any. There is no license required. No test to take…

Being famous and wealthy: Now this is the kicker. About 50% of the time the real thing people want to know is how to become a famous millionaire rock-star author dude. As if a) I qualified, b) I could explain how it happened, or c) I’d be willing to tell.

Read the entire article at Scott’s blog

Sacrificing for Your Art

John Scalzi is a Science Fiction novelist and Hugo Award nominee. In his popular writer’s blog ‘Whatever’ he talks about what you really need to sacrifice in order to be a writer.

“Got a letter today from an aspiring novelist who is wondering if wanting to write means that one has to be willing to sacrifice a great deal for one’s writing and craft. Because one hears of writers who have made great sacrifices in order to work on their writing, including giving up jobs, friends and spouses in order to put their words into being. Does one have to be willing to put that all on the line for one’s art?”

Read the rest at Whatever…

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“World’s Oldest Blogger” has died

A Spanish grandmother who became an Internet sensation after dubbing herself the “World’s Oldest Blogger” has died at 97.

Maria Amelia Lopez, who died Wednesday, began blogging from her home in Galicia two years ago, winning over a large fan base of readers with her eclectic mix of commentary and nostalgia infused with a sharp wit.

Maria Amelia Lopez

Maria Amelia Lopez

She was introduced to the Internet when her grandson set up the blog as a gift to mark her 95th birthday.

“Today it’s my birthday and my grandson, who is very stingy, gave me a blog, when I was 95 years old … and my life changed … now, I can communicate and interact with the world.” she wrote on her first post on amis95.blogspot.com on December 23, 2006.

It proved a great escape for Lopez writing about personal health problems, from trips to the doctor to bouts of dizziness, to her opinion on current events and modern day life.

Using a mix of humor and nostalgia she shared her experiences of getting old and enlightened readers about life during the long dictatorship of Francisco Franco.

Lopez blogged from her seaside home in Muxia, on the Galician coast, where she was born in 1911. Her musings quickly earned her followers from across the world and she clocked up more than 1.5 million visitors to her blog. Her fame even saw Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero drop in for a chat.

In recent months Lopez was increasingly posting video messages on her blog instead of written texts because cataracts impaired her vision.

In one of her last postings in February she said: “When I’m on the Internet, I forget about my illness. The distraction is good for you — being able to communicate with people. It wakes up the brain, and gives you great strength.”

Her family left a posthumous post, thanking readers for their support. “[There were] 880 days when her blog made her happy… the support she needed to enjoy her last days of life,” they wrote.

“When somebody leaves after 97 years, living with joy from the beginning to the end, we can’t be sad. Wherever you are, grandmother, you will read these comments, all of them without doubt. She will laugh at some, will learn with others, she might get annoyed at the specific ‘language’ used in some … but she will be happy reading all of them.”

From Blog to Book

Heather Armstrong began blogging in 2001. She was fired after writing about her job and co-workers on her blog. After eight years, more than 6,900 posts and 1.5 million visitors a month, Heather’s brutally honest and often hysterical musings have been turned into the memoir, It Sucked and then I Cried: How I Had a Baby, a Breakdown, and a Much Needed Margarita’ published by Simon Spotlight Entertainment.

It’s a humorous look at life, relationships, dealing with depression, childbirth and parenthood.

In this recent USA Today interview, Heather talks about her blog and the new book:
http://www.usatoday.com/life/books/news/2009-03-25-blogs-heather-armstrong_n.htm

Or listen to Heather on this Podcast interview from the bat segundo show:
http://www.edrants.com/segundo/heather-armstrong-bss-276/

Even better, read Heather’s daily blog entries and pics at Dooce. You are guaranteed to be entertained.

Author’s Notes on the Revision Process

I must give Meg Gardiner author of The Dirty Secrets Club (Jo Beckett)
and the blog Lying for a Living, props for leading me to an excellent article on what it took author Jeff Vandermeer to complete the first draft of his book. A must read for novice writer’s who think revising merely means running your manuscript through Spell Check.

Link: High-level Notes After Completing First Draft

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