Thursday, August 25, 2016

Fun with typewriters!

A few years ago I visited a large resale shop with my daughter, Nila, who became fascinated with an old, manual typewriter. She took it up to the front desk and asked the clerk if she could try it. The clerk gave Nila a piece of paper to put in the roller. As she began to peck at the keys, another shopper about my age reminisced about using a typewriter at her job.

As Nila started to get the hang of how hard to press the keys, she got to the right margin of the paper and heard the "ding," of the typewriter bell, signaling to manually move the roller to the next line. To her, the sound was magical. Her eyes got wide as she said "Awesome!" The woman and I looked at each other and laughed.

Nila then pressed the metal bar on the left side of the machine to push the roller to the right to begin again. She typed a few more lines and was hooked. She loved it so much she bought it and used it for several years. 

I was reminded of this story when I came across the video titled Typewriters in the 21st Century. Here's a link:

Write soon, (maybe on a typewriter?)


Friday, August 12, 2016

Send it out!

In part six of my four-part series on writing nonfiction, I want to offer some advice on sending your work to publishers, editors or agents.

To find a publisher for your writing, research the market. If it's a nonfiction book like mine, ("Strengthen Your Nonfiction Writing, published by High Hill Press") you need to decide if you want to have it published by an academic or commercial press. The first step is to go to the library or bookstore and find out who publishes the type of book you wrote because that publisher is more likely to publish another.

According to John McManus, assistant professor of U.S. military history at Missouri S&T, if you choose a university press, then find out if it is possible to access some kind of grant to subsidize that cost. For them, the scholarship may be important, so let them know how your book helps them enhance their academic standing. If it’s commercial, let them know how that book is going to make them money, and why is your story better than anything else out there.

When sending a query letter or email, McManus said a couple of paragraphs should suffice. "Tell them why you are the right person to write this book," he said. "If the book is about MIAs, why you? What is your connection to the topic? Maybe your years of research gives readers a different slant." He also suggested naming the competition, and letting publishers know why we need another book like this. Provide information on why these books didn’t get done what you are going to do.

Also provide:
Overview - what’s the book about, maybe three pages
Author information, reviews for previous books, good blurbs, including fellow authors who may give endorsement blurbs
Reader Market (how many Google hits your topic gets)
Promotion - How are you willing to promote your book? Do you have a blog? Can you travel to book signings and conventions to speak?
Resources Needed to Complete the Book
Chapter outline with chapter titles
Sample Chapters - this is to entice them, it doesn’t have to be exactly what you turn in, but sometimes things change and it may not fit anymore.

Finally, keep in mind that anyone interested in publishing your book will probably need to defend that decision. Providing the information listed here might make it easier to persuade a committee or the publisher, who may, in turn, give your book the green light.

Write (and send it out) soon,


Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Two important questions

Never underestimate the ability of writers to put too much time and effort into research. When the information is overwhelming, the writer may become stuck because he or she doesn't know where or how to begin writing. Many writers develop a thesis (or the main idea they want to support). But often, writers don’t know exactly what is the most important idea.

Anyone can develop a thesis and main points in two easy steps.

Step 1: After reviewing their research, writers should ask themselves what they believe to be true. The answer to that question may be their thesis. If, after researching cars, I find that the 1968 Charger is the best muscle car ever made because that’s what all the experts told me, and I believe them, then that can be my thesis. Use a declarative statement (what you believe to be true). Use one idea or thought to keep it simple. Here are some other examples:

GiGi’s cafĂ© makes the best pies in town.

(Your home town) is the best (or worst) place to live.

Daniel Boone was a great frontiersman.

Getting an education is essential to getting ahead.

Honesty IS the best policy.

Florida beaches are the best.

The economy is improving.

Step 2: The next question is: Why do I believe that? Why is GiGi’s pie the best? Flakiest crust? Sweetest filling and lots of it? Biggest slices? Why do I believe getting an education is important? Why IS honesty the best policy? These are opinions that can be backed up with research.

Asking two questions (what do I believe to be true, and why do I believe it?) can serve as the basis for developing a chapter, article or nonfiction book.

Write soon,