Saturday, November 29, 2008

Motivational Quote #12

"Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life's coming attractions."--Albert Einstein

I found the above Einstein quote when I logged into Google today and thought it perfect for this week's motivational quote. But, the researcher in me always likes to find the origin of the quotes I use and today's research uncovered something interesting: this is not exactly what Einstein said. GASP! Can you believe someone changed the words around? LOL!

If I am correct, this quotation is taken from an interview titled What Life Means to Einstein by George Sylvester Viereck. This interview appeared in the October 26, 1929 issue of the Saturday Evening Post. This is what the actual quote reads:

"Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world."

And when I put this quote into context with other quotations attributed to Einstein this quote has tremendous meaning for the aspiring author. Here are just a few additional quotes I found:

"When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge."

"The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift."

"The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity."

Ideas for great books start with the words "What if...". And because we are dealing in fantasy and not reality, that allows the aspiring author to explore avenues that he may not in real life. "What if..." encourages the aspiring author to push a character to her limits, past any limit he might be comfortable with from inside his four walls; and when written well, the reader comes along for the ride and gets the opportunity to witness just how far this character will go.

Imagination and curiosity are perhaps the aspiring author's greatest tools. And when coupled with knowledge of craft and grammar, a new world opens up for the aspiring author and his future readers.

Spend some time this week with the words "What if..." If Einstein approves of imagination, I'm sure not about to knock it.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Gift Giving for Your Writer Friends

I recevied this note from Kristen O'Connell at the Penguin Group the other day:

Dear friends,

To mark the start of the holiday season, we asked some of our Penguin Group authors to tell us which books they are giving, and which books they'd most like to receive this year. Our inboxes were immediately flooded with emails about books they can't wait to share with their loved ones—books for all ages, new and old, from publishers large and small.

Elizabeth Gilbert, Khaled Hosseini, Geraldine Brooks, Nick Hornby, Jan Karon, Michael Pollan, Stuart Woods, Mike Lupica, Jan Brett, W.E.B. Griffin, Nathaniel Philbrick and many other New York Times bestselling, award-winning writers shared their suggestions (and wish lists) with us, and we wanted to share their contributions with you. The resulting messages, heartwarming, humorous and generous of spirit are posted on the Penguin website for your enjoyment.

And don’t miss our holiday gift guide! From classics to cookbooks, finding the perfect Penguin will be the easiest shopping experience you'll have this season.

Kristen O'Connell
Director of Online Marketing
Penguin Group (USA)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Motivational Quote #11

Every once in a while a run across a quotation that makes me say, "Wow!" I found one of those today and I wanted to share it with you.

"You can't cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water." - Rabindranath Tagore.

Rabindranath Tagore became Asia's first Nobel laureate when he won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913. A poet, novelist, playwright, artist, and composer, Tagore played a large role in the artistic and cultural renaissance of India.

Drawing from his profound words today, the aspiring author realizes that talking about being a writer will not make you a writer. One must write. Do not stare at the water, dive in and cross the sea.

You have the power to make your dreams come true. Use it!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Motivational Quote #10

We've discussed fear of failure in the past and continue to revisit it because it can be so crippling to an aspiring author. This week's motivational quote comes from the late Robert Kennedy.

"...only those who dare to fail greatly, can ever achieve greatly."

Kennedy made this comment during his Day of Affirmation Address in 1966 during his visit to South Africa to champion the cause of the anti-Apartheid movement. He spoke to the young people at the University of Capetown and encouraged them in their work. And while what those young people faced was a much larger challenge than anything I have had to deal with, I find Kennedy's quote a great inspiration in the journey toward publication.

Daring to fail greatly might be the first time you submit a chapter for feedback to your critique group. Or it could mean the day you lovingly tuck your baby into an envelope and mail it to a publisher or agent for consideration. It might mean something larger or smaller depending upon where you are in your journey.

But what Kennedy's words tell the aspiring author is something she already knows, but tries to forget: unless you try, you can never succeed. Mickey Rooney once said, "You always pass failure on the way to success." How can we achieve one unless we are willing to accept the other?

Failure comes to all of us, but how we react to those moments when our dreams seem to slip out of our hands, is what makes the difference between a published author and an aspiring one.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Grit for the Oyster by Suzanne Woods Fisher et al.--Book Review

Filled with helpful advice and inspiration, Grit for the Oyster 250 Pearls of Wisdom for Aspiring Writers by Suzanne Woods Fisher, Debora M. Coty, Faith Tibbetts McDonald, and Joanna Bloss is a must read for all aspiring writers.

Broken down into four sections, not a single page in this book is wasted. Readers can expect to find motivational quotes from successful writers, Biblical Scriptures, anecdotes from the authors, prayers tied into each pearl of wisdom, and questions to reflect upon.

More than just a book that will help you move your writing career forward, Grit for the Oyster will change not only how you pursue your writing career, but also your perception of that career. A powerful motivator that will increase your self-confidence and draw you closer to the One who has called you to write, this book should stay close by your computer and lift you up when you need it most.

Grit for the Oyster will help the aspiring writer to get started, to find her voice, to handle interruptions, to deal with rejections, fear of failure, moments when she feels like giving up, and so much more.

An excellent daily devotional for every writer who seeks to glorify God with the written word.

Title: Grit for the Oyster
Author: Suzanne Woods Fisher et al.
Publisher: Vintage Spirit
ISBN: 978-0-9815592-2-3
U.S. Price: $15.99

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Motivational Quote #9

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts."---Winston Churchill

I like to research the origin of the quotations I post here so that I can attempt to understand the meaning behind the author's words. This time, my research turned up something interesting. The above quote is attributed to Winston Churchill; however, The Churchill Centre states on their site that their research proves that Churchill never said this in his books, speeches, articles, or papers.

So, we are left to consider what the meaning of this quote from a potentially anonymous source might mean and how aspiring authors can apply it to themselves. Let's break it down.

"Success is not final" - When you achieve one of your goals do you just stop there? No, you keep going and begin working toward achieving your next goal. After your first published credit aren't you going to want to see more?

"failure is not fatal" - Failing is not the end of the world. It might seem so at the time, but if you look at failure as a learning experience, then you have the strength to brush yourself off and get back on that horse again.

"It is the courage to continue that counts." - Aha! This is really what the aspiring author needs to remember. Dig deep down inside yourself and work through the rejections (the failures) and bravely continue on. When that "Thanks, but no thanks" letter comes in, don't take it as a reflection on you as a person. Don't throw your computer out the window and swear you'll never write again.

Lick your wounds for all of five minutes, then continue on. You have the power to make your dreams come true. Use it!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Advice for Aspiring Authors from Robert Greer

Robert Greer is a doctor and author of the CJ Floyd Mystery series that I spotlighted on my blog, The Book Connection. Robert offered a short advice article for aspiring authors today at Scribe Vibe. Here is an excerpt:

The best advice I can give to anyone who thinks they want to be a writer, has always been the same. The key to writing excellence is, as my good friend and best selling mystery writer, Stephen White, always says is, “To glue your butt to the chair.”

You can read the entire article here.

Karen White's Article on the Writing and Publishing Process

Author Karen White is just full of wisdom to help motivate the aspiring author this week. Here is an excerpt from a guest article she provided for Savvy Verse & Wit:

I’ve done it! I’ve just completed not only my second novel in a single calendar year, but I’ve also worked through the agony of simultaneously promoting two novels published within the same time span. Am I Superwoman or Super-insane? Sitting here still in my pajamas at 11:47 am, I’m not sure I really know the answer.

I’d like to say that my decision to double my output was a calmly calculated one intended to increase sales and bring in more readers. But then I’d be lying. The fact is, I was happily writing a single southern women’s fiction novel for my publisher each year. I was relatively successful with growing sales and a solid reader base who would loyally buy each book I published. My royalty checks were respectable although certainly not big enough for my husband to chuck in his desk job and spend his life out on the golf course (which is what I might have promised him once upon a time when I stopped cooking so that I could devote more time to writing).

You can read the rest of the article here.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Karen White's Article on Promoting Wisely

Southern fiction author, Karen White, is on a virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book Promotion to promote her latest release, The House on Tradd Street. She wrote an article that appears at The Writer's Life about promoting wisely. Here is an excerpt:

"Once upon a time, I was a voracious reader. I was never without a book in my purse, in my hand, on my bedside table or all of the above. And in all the times that I went to a library or bookstore and saw all of those books on the shelves, it never occurred to me that I could be one of those authors.

Fast forward twenty-some years. While staying at home with my babies, I sat down one day and just started typing. I wanted to write the kind of book I like to read—characters who are real and emotional stories that mix a woman’s journey with a little romance and mystery thrown in. I entered that first manuscript in a writing contest, and I ended up winning. The finalist judge was a literary agent in New York and she offered to represent me. I signed an agreement and she sold the book to the second publisher she sent it to. And then it was all clear sailing, right? Wrong!"

Read the rest of the article here.

Now, you might be asking yourself why an aspiring author needs this information when she doesn't have books she's promoting. It's elemtentary my dear Watson, if you follow great advice, write a good book, and actively work toward your dream of publication, you won't be an aspiring author forever. So, read Karen's words and tuck them away. Then when you're ready to begin promoting your first book, you'll remember Karen's advice and be able to approach promoting your book wisely.

On another note, I reviewed The House on Tradd Street at The Book Connection. It is one of the best books I've ever read. Read my review here.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

NaNoWriMo starts today!

Just in case you forgot, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) starts today.

Now in its 10th year, NaNoWriMo is a month-long writing event held every November that lets participants craft a 50,000 word novel in a short time frame. With this limited window of opportunity, the focus is on output, not content.

Want to take the chance at writing a novel in a month's time with the support of thousands of other writers? Sign up here.

Good luck everyone!

Motivational Quote #8

During the Muse Online Writers Conference, I gave a workshop titled Organize Your Writing Life. Attendees and I talked about getting organized and removing clutter, setting SMART goals and breaking them down into smaller chunks. We prioritized to-do items and discussed ways to remove distractions and avoid interruptions.

In honor of everyone who partcipated in this workshop, I would like to offer the following quote:

"I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book."--Groucho Marx

Now, the irony of this quote exists in the fact that Marx was a film star, having made several films with his brothers, in addition to, having a successful solo career.

But when I think of this quotation in regards to aspiring authors, it reminds me of those times when writers complain of distractions taking them away from their writing. This week, I've allowed distractions to take a hold of me and my work week has been less productive than it has been in a long time. I am faced with a difficult decision and I know that I am doing my best to avoid making that decision by letting my mind and fingers wander out to surf the Internet and answer emails rather than sit down to work.

Why? Because my husband has put the pressure on and I'm not comfortable with it.

Our financial situation dictates that after the first of the year I will need to make significantly more money working from home or that I will need to secure a part-time position outside of the house. Ever since this discussion I have not been able to focus. There are still so many ideas running around in my head and I know that I can make money writing if, and only if, I stick to it.

So, I share this Marx quote with you for two reasons. The first is a reminder that distractions keep you from realizing your full potential, and therefore, when you find yourself surfing the Internet or watching TV instead of writing, you need to stop, figure out why you are avoiding writing and take steps to get back into your daily writing schedule.

The second reason that I feel this quote is so important for aspiring authors is that reading, especially in the genres you hope to be published in, will help you hone your craft. So, instead of vegetating in front of the boob tube, walk away and pick up a book from your favorite author. Dissect it in a way that you never have before. Ask yourself why he or she described things in a particular way. Spend time figuring out why you like or dislike each character. Give thought to the plot and the setting. This just might be the inspiration that helps you get going again.

And even when you don't feel like it, WRITE! This isn't elementary school anymore. No one is going to give you an "F" if you don't turn in your assignment. But, you won't become a published author by avoiding your writing schedule.

Remember, you have the power to make your dreams come true. Use it!