When the World Turns Against You

 

AC BLOG 1

While David, his men and their families fled King Saul, they escaped to the Philistine city of Gath for protection. Here he and his men joined forces with Gath’s King Achish. After establishing a base at Ziklag, David raided such peoples as the Amalekites, the Geshurites, and the Girzites. Then, in order to gain Achish’s confidence, he told the king that he’d raided Judah.

One day, during a march from Aphek against King Saul, none of the Philistine commanders, except Achish, trusted him.  Soon they forced him to leave their army.

Three days later, David and his men arrived in Ziklag. Horror and anger shot through their veins. The Amalekites had burned it and kidnapped everyone in it, including two of David’s wives and the wives and children of his men.

Consequently, his men turned against him. To quote one of my favorite Old Testament passages: And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God (1 Samuel 30:6, KJV).

Not only did David feel alone, he was distressed and alone. His men who’d been with him throughout his ordeals now wanted to kill him. Have you ever been in a place where all your friends suddenly turn on you, or where it feels like the whole world has turned against you? I know I have. Loneliness, and the feeling of it, is no fun.

Unfortunately, in this “me-centered” society we’re living in., encouragers are rare these days. That’s why I like this verse. David shows us what to do when no one’s around to give us comfort and encouragement during difficult times. He encouraged himself in the Lord.

Next time you feel isolated and alone, try it. Encouraging yourself in the Lord works, and that’s a guarantee.

NOTE: This article is based on 1 Samuel 27, and 29-30.

 

The Author Who Lived in His Pajamas

What do you do when you’re wearing pajamas? Do you go to bed, as I do, or do you go to work in them? This question may sound stupid, and the answer obvious. But such is not the case for one famous author—Shelby Foote.

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Mister Foote once told The Paris Review that he lived in his pajamas. In other words, he wore them almost all the time at home. Another peculiarity about this famous twentieth century writer and friend of William Faulkner—he wrote with a dip inkwell pen.

Oh, he’d eventually type out his manuscripts, but when he whipped out his first drafts these pens were his preferred writing tool. He considered himself a novelist. And he was, having written five novels in five years. The French and Italians loved his books, all of them bestsellers in their respective countries.

However, in the United States, he wasn’t well-known until late in life. Thanks to his famous trilogy, The Civil War: A Narrative, he’s recognized in the States as a historian. He spent twenty years living in his pajamas while writing this massive series…with a dip inkwell pen.

What brought him to literary prominence in the States? Ken Burns’s television documentary, The Civil War (1990). In this series, Foote provided major commentary. His physical appearance and Mississippi drawl…It was as though he’d fought in that war himself and then stepped through a time machine to tell us “moderns” about it. Because of his “stardom” in this documentary, sales of his trilogy soared.

He passed away on June 29, 2005, at the age of eighty-eight.

Source

Coleman, Carter and Donald Faulkner and William Kennedy. “Shelby Foote, The Art of Fiction No. 158.” The Paris Review, Issue 151 Summer 1999, http://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/931/shelby-foote-the-art-of-fiction-no-158-shelby-foote.

 

 

 

 

Indie versus Traditional Publishing: My Thoughts on the Subject

Books

cat and booksMany years ago, what I often call those “typewriter days,” I taught a writing class where I often warned my students about subsidy publishers. I always advised going the traditional route. What is a subsidy publisher? It’s a company that promises huge royalties (such as seventy percent of the retail price) and makes its authors pay thousands of dollars to be published. It’s not illegal, because these companies do follow-through with their publishing commitments.

However, no bookstores stock their books, which explains why they can promise huge royalties. Why don’t bookstores carry their titles? Because, so long as authors pay them, they publish every manuscript submitted to them regardless of the book’s literary quality. These publishers make money off the author, not off the few customers who buy their books.

As for traditional publishers, their royalty payments usually start at ten percent of a book’s retail price. Also, they don’t accept every manuscript that crosses their editors’ desks. Always on the lookout for well-written, marketable books, nowadays these publishers also consider the size of an author’s platform.

For some traditional publishers an author’s platform is the first thing they consider, something I recently learned at a writers’ conference. During the typewriter days, these publishers usually looked at an author’s literary background and bylines first. Oh, how things have changed!

Balanced Publishing

Fast forward to the “internet days.” Along came Amazon, Book Baby, Lulu, and similar self-publishers. Now anyone can have their work published. Because I’ve been published both ways, traditional and indie, I see advantages and disadvantages to each approach. So, why not go both routes? I would, and I do. Let some books find a traditional publisher, and let others be indie-published. This is a good balance between the two, I think.

What I love most about being indie published, though, is its freedom. Freedom to write what I want, and freedom from worry about query letters, synopses, outlines, searching for agents, etc. I know my book will be published…by me! Thus, I can focus even more on the quality of my writing. And herein lies the main problem I see with numerous indie books—so many are poorly written.

It’s imperative that we indie authors produce quality material written at a professional level. Amateur writing not only reflects badly on us, it also reflects badly on the self-publishing industry, and it hinders our chances that customers will purchase our future books.

Read the next section for tips on how to be a good indie author.

How to be a Good Indie Author

1. Study hard. Just because it’s become easier to get published doesn’t mean everyone    should do it. Study the craft, practice the craft. Take writing classes, subscribe to writing magazines, read websites that discuss writing. We must learn everything we can about it.

2. Work hard. Revision holds the key to literary excellence but unless we know what things to look for, which comes through study, we won’t know what to change. Never be satisfied with a first, second, or even a third draft. Once we’ve finished our work, put it aside for a few weeks then return to it. It always surprises me how many things I catch that need fixing when I do this. Input from those in writers’ groups also helps.

3. Get bylines. What’s a byline? It’s the author’s name on a published work. When we reach the point where we can sell our work to traditional magazines and such, we know we’re starting to write at a professional level. It is then that we should consider going indie. This, of course, is my own opinion.

4. Find professionals. Once we’ve honed our manuscript to the best of our ability,  hire these three professionals for the final touches: (1) Freelance editors, (2) cover designers, and (3) interior formatters.

Freelance Editors–If spelling and grammatical errors riddle our prose, our book   shouts “amateur” at the top of its lungs. Another benefit of good freelance  editors?  They’ll offer us honest feedback that will help us improve our work.

Cover Designers–Don’t underestimate a book cover’s importance. Good covers prompt potential readers to open our book and consider purchasing it.

Interior Formatters–Finally, if the book’s interior formatting is shoddy, “amateur” once again sounds loud and clear.

Where’s a good place to find these professionals? I recommend upwork.com.

Well, much more could be said on this subject. I may have more to say in future posts. Meanwhile, what are your thoughts on this subject?

Till next time, folks. Have a great week!

The Rule of Ten

Books

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Do you want to sell more articles and stories? Well, the answer’s obvious, of course. The more manuscripts we submit to editors, the greater the chances are that one of them will find publication.

That said, let me share a tip I learned early in my literary career. It’s called “The Rule of Ten.” The idea behind it is this: By constantly keeping at least ten manuscripts circulating to ten different publishers, at least one of them will likely find a home. Every time we sell an article or receive a rejection, submit another one to take its place. Ten, always keep ten in circulation.

This doesn’t mean we write poorly, but it does mean we must keep our creative juices flowing so we’ll have those “extras” to submit when needed. 

When I tried this, I learned it served me well! Another benefit? It softened the blow of rejections. Hey, so what if an editor didn’t like my article or story? I had nine more making the rounds, and another tenth one about to go in the mail. Or as we say nowadays, “about to be e-mailed.” 

Give this principle a try. It may work for you, too.  

Till next week, friends, keep on writing!