Need a kick-start this month ? Here are a few prompts to help get your creative juices flowing.
You’ve decided to submit your manuscript to an independent publisher. Now what? The staff of four indie presses answer WD’s questions about small publishers.
Meet the Staff
A MacDowell Colony and Hawthornden Castle fellow, Leland Cheuk is the author of three books, most recently, No Good Very Bad Asian. His work has appeared in Salon, San Francisco Chronicle, Catapult, Joyland Magazine, Literary Hub, and elsewhere. He is the founder of 7.13 Books and lives in Brooklyn.
Adam Z. Levy is the founder and co-publisher of Transit Books.
Kate Gale is co-founder and managing editor of Red Hen Press, editor of The Los Angeles Review, and teaches in the low-residency MFA program at the University of Nebraska in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction and in the University of Ashland MFA Program. She is author of seven books of poetry, including The Goldilocks Zone (University of New Mexico Press, 2014) and Echo Light (Red Mountain Press, 2014) and six librettos, including Rio de Sangre, a libretto for an opera with composer Don Davis, which had its world premiere October 2010 at the Florentine Opera in Milwaukee.
Jisu Kim is the senior marketing and sales manager at the Feminist Press.
What are some benefits that indie publishing can offer authors?
Cheuk: Due to profit motive and the insistence on scale, the big houses do a poor job on a majority of their titles. Junior publicists are working on dozens of books at a time. It’s very possible that if you publish with a big house, your book will get lost. We all know authors who have had bad experiences with big houses. With indies, you’ll likely get more personalized editorial attention, and an increasing number of indies are doing great marketing and publicity and going toe-to-toe with the overwhelmed big houses. Every year, the prestigious book awards seem to have a few, unexpected indie titles.
Levy: With a carefully curated list, we’re able to devote our time and energy to all of our titles. (No books get lost in the midlist!) We also work closely with our authors and translators at every stage of the publishing process, from the first round of edits to publicity and promotion.
Gale: Independent publishers and their staff are able to dedicate more time and attention to the authors than an author would get from the Big Five. Relationships are fostered, and it’s more of a partnership between author and publisher.
Kim: Indie publishers tend to have smaller lists than the corporate houses; for writers, this often means more individual attention. We like to tell our incoming authors that we’re a small, dedicated team—everyone on staff will have read their book, know them by name, and be familiar with how we’re going to get it out into the world.
What types of manuscripts are ideal for indie publishers? Is there a certain type of book you look for?
Cheuk: It depends on the publisher. I’d advise writers to really read submission guidelines carefully. For 7.13 Books, we publish debut contemporary book-length literary fiction for adults. So if you’re writing a YA book, novella, historical novel, or if this is your second or third book, you’re going to be at a disadvantage because we’re focused on finding books that fit our mission. For many indies, they’re publishing just a few titles a year, so the odds are long to begin with. Why submit outside the guidelines and make your odds even longer?
Levy: We look for singular voices—works that excite and challenge us and deepen our literary and political imagination. We’re open to publishing established and emerging writers. In the end, it always comes back to voice and the quality of the language on the page.
Gale: It depends on the publisher. Red Hen looks for dark, strange, wild books with stories underneath the stories, and novels that are under 300 pages so we can market them to our audience. We’re also interested in looking into more novellas, and we love poetry.
Kim: Every indie publisher is different—that’s what makes them independent—but I would say a strong, unique voice is something everyone is looking for. That can be a debut author or someone with a long publishing history. We work with both across a variety of formats and genres, looking for stories that are different from what’s already been told.
To continue reading this Writer’s Digest article written By Cassandra Lipp click on the link.
J.K. Rowling has a new story to share with its own kind of magic. It’s titled The Ickabog, and to be clear, it has nothing to do with Harry Potter. You can see for yourself by checking out the first two chapters here.
© Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images ‘The Ickabog,’ J.K. Rowling’s latest fantasy story for children, will release new chapters each weekday until July 10. Check out the first two now.
“This is not a Harry Potter spin-off,” Rowling wrote with all-caps and extra emphasis at the start of a 13-tweet thread. Though The Ickabog was written “in fits and starts between Potter books,” Rowling declined to publish it after the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, focusing instead on The Casual Vacancy and The Cuckoo’s Calling (the latter the first of her Cormoran Strike novels written under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith).
Like J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, The Ickabog originally served as a bedtime story for Rowling’s children. However, something about the coronavirus lockdown inspired the author to publish it for a general audience.
“A few weeks ago at dinner, I tentatively mooted the idea of getting The Ickabog down from the attic and publishing it for free, for children in lockdown,” Rowling wrote in a blog post introducing the story. “My now teenagers were touchingly enthusiastic, so downstairs came the very dusty box, and for the last few weeks I’ve been immersed in a fictional world I thought I’d never enter again. As I worked to finish the book, I started reading chapters nightly to the family again. This was one of the most extraordinary experiences of my writing life, as The Ickabog’s first two readers told me what they remember from when they were tiny, and demanded the reinstatement of bits they’d particularly liked (I obeyed).”
The first two chapters of The Ickabog available to read now on a specially-designed website, with subsequent chapters to follow on a weekday basis until July 10. They introduce readers to the bountiful land of Cornucopia, ruled by King Fred the Fearless. Though most of Cornucopia is overflowing with delicious food, there’s a more barren area called the Marshlands where people speak of a child-eating monster called the Ickabog. The monster doesn’t officially appear in these first two chapters, but anyone familiar with Rowling’s writing should expect plenty of twists and turns to come.
On top of everything else, Rowling is also soliciting children to create illustrated art for The Ickabog, which will be published in printed edition in November. With each new chapter, Rowling will be releasing suggestions for illustrations tied to that chapter, though she also wants kids to “let your imaginations run wild!”
By Christian Holub for Entertainment ©
Is songwriting much different than writing poetry ? Could you put music to some of your poems ? Get inspired by reading songwriting quotes written by the world ‘s greatest musicians, how they do it and why they do it.
From an article by Alon Cooper
If you ever tried writing songs, this post is going to make you think, and perhaps even give you some inspiration.
I have gathered a bunch of quotes about songwriting and the process of songwriting – so we can have a look on some insights from people who have already “done it” and perhaps soak some inspiration and tips for ourselves from in between those lines. Enjoy!
“Imagination is the key to my lyrics. The rest is painted with a little science fiction.”
“I never sit down to write. When I’m moved, I do it. I just wait for it to come. You just hear it. I can’t really describe writing. It’s in my head. I don’t think about the styles. I write whatever comes out and I use whatever kind of instrumentation that works for those songs.”
“As a songwriter, Gram (Parsons) worked very much like I do, which is to knock out a couple of chords, start to spiel and see how far it can go, rather than sitting around with a piece of paper and a pen, trying to make things fit neatly together. But he would also work very hard, harder than I ever did — on honing it down.”
“I have a structured songwriting process. I start with the music and try to come up with musical ideas, then the melody, then the hook, and the lyrics come last. Some people start with the lyrics first because they know what they want to talk about and they just write a whole bunch of lyrical ideas, but for me the music tells me what to talk about.”
“I wish I were one of those people who wrote songs quickly. But I’m not. So it takes me a great deal of time to find out what the song is”
“I got this cheap little empty plastic notebook at my local drugstore, and bought a little slab of filler paper and the very first title I wrote in it was ‘Proud Mary‘. I had no idea what that title meant. I work hard at that, but the fact that there are a lot of good songs means there are also a lot of really bad songs I’ve written that you’d never hear.”
“I think songwriting is the ultimate form of being able to make anything that happens in your life productive.”
“If you like someone’s work, the important thing is to be exposed to everything that person has been exposed to.”
“I hope that what it comes down to at the end of the day is that people believe that I believe what I’m singing. It comes down to being believable.”
check out more quote’s at Alon’s website at:
One more thing:
These tips are especially useful for INFJs, INFPs, and highly sensitive people—but just about anyone could use them!
By Savannah Gilbo
What is a Red Herring?
A Red Herring is a piece of information that misleads or distracts the reader (and sometimes the character) from an important truth or leads them to mistakenly expect one outcome over another.
Red Herrings can be anything from:
- A character who seems evil or suspicious.
- An object that seems relevant or important.
- An event that seems to be significant to the story or protagonist.
- A clue placed by the antagonist or a secondary character that sends investigators down the wrong path.
Red Herrings are a type of foreshadowing.
The term “foreshadowing” refers to all the different ways that an author can give readers hints or clues about what’s coming. Readers pick up on these hints and clues to try and figure out what’s going to happen next (or at the end of the story). But not all of these clues will lead to the truth. Some will be used to deceive the reader about what’s coming—and in these cases, the “false clues” are called Red Herrings.
Red Herrings can be used in any genre.
If your story has any kind of plot twist or surprise ending, you can use Red Herrings. Red Herrings help you to distract or mislead the reader (and your characters) from the truth of what’s actually happening. It’s also worth noting that different genres change how the reader views and responds to Red Herrings. For example, in a true mystery, red herrings are used to make the reader incorrectly guess what has already happened. In a thriller or horror novel, red herrings are used to make the reader incorrectly guess what is going to happen.
5 Tips for Writing Effective Red Herrings
Red herrings aren’t easy to craft–they have to tread a fine line between visible and invisible. They have to be obvious enough that most readers will pick up on them, but subtle enough that the reader believes it and follows the false trail. So, how do you write effective Red Herrings in your story? Here are my top five tips:
1. Incorporate the Red Herring into the fabric of the story.
Red herrings aren’t something to be pulled out of your hat when the plot lacks tension, excitement, or conflict. Like most storytelling techniques, Red Herrings have to serve a purpose and feel like they’re an organic part of the story. Not only that, but they need to be logical and have some kind of impact on the story. In the above example from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Sirius Black (the Red Herring) plays a huge role in the story. If you took him out of the plot, the whole story would collapse.
2. Give your innocent characters motivation, means, and opportunity.
If you’re planning to use a character as a Red Herring, you’ll need to convince readers that this person could legitimately be guilty. To do this, you could create an innocent character that either:
- benefits from the crime
- had the means or opportunity to commit the crime
- has a strong motive
- or all of the above.
In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Sirius Black is widely believed to have been the Potter’s “secret keeper.” That gives him both the means and the opportunity to betray their location to Voldemort.
3. Give the reader no (obvious) reason to suspect your guilty character.
In contrast to an innocent character having the motive, means, and opportunity to commit a crime, you’ll want to do the opposite with the real culprit. In other words, give the real culprit no (obvious) motive, means, or opportunity to be involved in the crime. To do this, you could have a guilty character who is acting strange but the protagonist can’t put his or her finger on why (at least not yet).
You could also discredit the guilty character by giving them a personality or skill set that doesn’t feel typical of someone “bad.” In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Professor McGonagall describes Peter Pettigrew as being “a stupid and foolish boy.” She also says that he was “a less than average student.” Nobody would have believed that Peter Pettigrew was capable of not only betraying his friends but of siding with Lord Voldemort too. This is what makes the surprise even more enjoyable.
4. Focus the reader’s attention elsewhere when you plant clues.
Misdirection is not about withholding information. It’s about giving the reader extra information and focusing their attention on that instead of the truth.
In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, it’s easy to overlook all the clues that point to the truth about Scabbers. That’s because J.K. Rowling is a master at planting clues and directing the reader’s attention elsewhere!
Sometimes she diverts the reader’s attention away from the truth by hiding clues within a list of things. For example, the creators of the Maurader’s Map–Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs.
Other times she distracts readers with action or high emotion. For example, when Crookshanks chases Scabbers around the room and Hermione and Ron get into a fight).
The point? Don’t hold important information back from the reader. Figure out a way to not only discretely plant the truth in your story, but to distract the reader from that truth with something interesting too.
5. Always play fair with the reader.
When someone reads your story, they give you their trust. They expect that what you tell them is the truth. They build on each bit of information, trying to understand the big picture and figure out what’s going to happen next.
Tricking the reader by misleading them is fun (both for them and for you). But if you fool them by leaving out information they would legitimately have expected to be given, then you are just messing with them.
In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, J.K. Rowling gave readers all the clues they needed to figure out Scabbers’ true identity. When the truth was revealed, readers were able to connect all the dots because all the clues were there from the start.
Read more of Savannah’s article at:
I have not tried this, nor even thought of using it, but Instagram could produce some new followers to your blog. Check out this article by Helen Redfern and get inspired.
Instagram is a wonderful place for creatives. Knitters, weavers, illustrators, photographers. So many people showing their work, talking about it, showing their process, their inspirations. But I never see many writers there. Perhaps because it’s a photo-sharing app so writers aren’t immediately drawn to it. But I think it’s a fabulous place for writers; a great place to grow your audience and to be inspired and connect with other creatives.
Want some ideas? Here are five ways you could make Instagram work for you.
1. Show us where you work. Your desk, the table at the coffee shop, a crumpled duvet cover with notebooks scattered around. Cups of coffee, pots of tea and cake, stacks of books and notebooks are adored on Instagram. People love to see where writers are writing. I know I do. Don’t you?
2. Show us your work. Your notepads, notes, ideas and rough drafts. This is one of my favourite things to share on Instagram and it has inspired my creativity as well as given me ideas for blog posts and non-fiction. Again it’s that need to see how an author works and how they create.
3. What inspires you? Nature, buildings, front doors, cities, roads, chickens (the last one might be just me). Take a photograph and show us. Then tell us about it, why does it inspire you?
4. Use your captions creatively. Create some flash fiction or flash non-fiction to go with the photograph. Or use it as a prompt for others thereby creating a community. Really think about your caption – use it as a place to practice your descriptive writing. As you took the photograph what could you smell, hear, taste?
5. Show us what you’re reading. Have you heard of the bookstagram community? It’s huge. Readers photograph their current read and chat about it in the description.
I’m using Instagram more and more like a micro-blog. I use it to share my notebooks, my desk, my writing process, books I’m reading but also to share what I’m seeing and feeling outside.
- Always use (your own) good quality, non-blurry photographs taken in natural light.
- Think about using a filter so when you look at the grid as a whole (the top three or four lines) there is a cohesiveness and attractiveness to it. I use VSCO.
- Use hashtags to increase your reach. Don’t use #writing #desk #coffee – these are far too generic. Hashtags are used to evoke a mood or an action. #createmakeshare #makersandthinkers and #momentsofmine are just three of the hashtags I used in one of my notebook shots.
- Think about your profile page. Tell us you’re a writer. Link to your blog, website or twitter.
Here is a link to Helen’s website:
An interesting first step to writing your novel from Bridget of NowNovel.com
There’s much more to this story and you might want to continue reading it at:
By: Nina Amir for Writer’s Digest
Do you have thousands of unproductive thoughts cluttering your mind? Nina Amir offers her tips for using meditation to help boost your creativity by creating space for new ideas.
You’ve been sitting at your desk for 15 minutes but just staring at the screen. So far, you haven’t written a word. Even when your mind happens to throw you an idea, it’s not one worth pursuing. So you continue to sit there, frustrated because you just don’t know what to write.
Have you been there and done that? Pretty annoying, right, especially since 15 minutes can turn into 30, 45, or even an hour or more?
The more you try to force yourself to come up with an idea for your next article, blog post, or chapter, the more creatively blocked you feel … and get.
What if you stopped forcing it and, instead, just allowed an idea to come to you? What if you could let go of your feelings of pressure or stress and relaxed into a place of creativity?
Let It Go and Allow
Like the song from the movie Frozen, you can, indeed, let it all go. From the place of emptiness, ideas will flow to you easily and quickly.
If this sounds all airy-fairy, well, you could see it that way. After all, I’m talking about meditation. That said, most people these days accept meditation as a sound practice for stress release, productivity, creativity, and general well being.
I want to add an additional element to the meditation, though—a spiritual aspect.
If you don’t see yourself as a spiritual person or don’t believe in God, Source, Creator, or whatever you might call It, that’s fine. There’s a way to open and allow using the process I describe below without any type of religious or spiritual belief.
Let me explain …
Create a Space for Creativity
Your mind is a busy place. According to the National Science Foundation, an average person has about 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day. Of those, 80% are negative and 95% are repetitive thoughts.
That means you think the same thoughts pretty much day in and day out. I bet that when you sit down to type, your negative thoughts come into play—thoughts like, “I don’t know what to write,” “I don’t have any good ideas,” and “No one will want to read what I write.”
That’s not helpful if you are looking for new ideas or want to tap into your creativity.
If you want to allow in more ideas and get your creative juices flowing, you need to slow down and quiet the noise in your head. That’s where meditation comes in.
Use Meditation to Enhance to Find Ideas
You can’t really stop your thoughts. Most meditators will tell you that their thoughts may slow, or they may become more aware of them. Still, their mind rarely becomes totally quiet during a meditation period.
However, since you can only think about one thing at a time, the key to quieting your brain lies in deciding what to think about. For this simple meditation, I suggest you think only about breathing.
Specifically, use a tried and true, simple meditation technique that requires you only that you focus on your breath.
Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out.
That’s all you think about while you meditate. Breathe in. Breathe out.
There are other ways to meditate, but this technique is simple, and anyone can do it. More than that, it works. It gives your mind a “bone” to “chew on,” and that stops all those thoughts for a while.
Once your mind gets quiet (or quieter), you’ve created a space for something new to exit. And in that space, an idea will appear.
Give it time … Don’t be impatient. Continue breathing without thinking about the need for an idea. Just relax and breathe.
Wait for it … the idea will come.
Ask for What You Want
Now comes the spiritual part. Again, you don’t need to believe in a God of any type for this.
If you don’t believe in God or have a broader concept of divinity, consider this an intention-setting practice. Begin your meditation session by saying aloud or in your head something like, “It is my intention during this meditation period to open to my creative nature and remove all blocks to my creativity. It is also my intention to discover an idea that inspires and motivates me and serves my readers and me.” Use your own words.
If you do believe in God, add to your meditation practice a simple prayer. When you begin meditating, mentally say something like, “God, please help me open to my creative nature. Remove all blocks to my creativity. And help me know what to write. Show me or bring me an idea that supports my highest good and the highest good of my readers. Amen.” Again, use your own words.
Ask for what you want, and then breathe. Just breathe. Focus on your breath, and an idea will appear in the space you created.
Continue reading Nina’s suggestions at the link below: