A Review: Far from the Madding Crowd

Far from the Madding Crowd is the first of Hardy’s novels to gain him widespread popularity. What can one say about the incredible writing of Thomas Hardy. This story is lavish and romantic with characters that are unforgettable. The historical details are rich in nuance and fascinating for the period. Hardy’s use of the English language is exquisite. When readers discover Thomas Hardy they always comment, “I fell in love with 19th Century English literature because of Thomas Hardy.” And, so did I.

The Story is set against the backdrop of the beautiful landscape in Wessex, England. The overall theme of the story questions rural values and is striking for its singular sensibility. The story revolves around Bathsheba Everdene and her suitors, as well as the Bathsheba’s difficulties managing a large farm.  One of her suitors, Gabriel Oak is attracted to the very modern sensibility of the independent and spirited Bathsheba. She is also charming, beautiful and vain. However, he must compete with the roguish and dashing soldier, Sergeant Troy, and the wealthy, respectable, middle-aged Farmer Boldwood. While their fates depend upon the choice Bathsheba makes, she must learn the consequences of vain flirtations with all three.

 

7 Things to Do When You Want to Give Up (Instead of Giving Up)

 

 

 

 

 

By: Brian A. Klems | April 20, 2017

There are a lot of challenges and rewards to being an author, and one of the greatest (and sometimes brutal) challenges is getting published. I think we’ve all seen people magically picked up by publishers out of nowhere, but my experience is that they usually know someone in the business. For me, it was a slog that took more than ten years and hundreds of rejections from agents and editors.

Then, in the past two and a half years, I signed contracts for fourteen books with three different publishers. Eight of the books are out now, and the rest will be out shortly. When people think that because I started selling books in my twenties I must have somehow cheated to get ahead, I tell them my history: I started submitting to agents and editors when I was in middle school. I was already writing novels then, and despite having a growing readership and being highlighted by the Los Angeles Times at the age of 14, I was still up for years of constant rejection. That’s how hard of a business this is, and it shows that if you want to write, never give up.So, if you’ve been submitting and not getting anywhere, here are some suggestions of things you can do instead of giving up, and all these things can help you on your path to publication.

  1. Revise

One of the most important things I learned — and one of the things I used to resist most — is revising. If your book is being rejected, it might not be because it’s a “bad” book. It might just be it needs some revising, because all books do. For me, revising often means cutting back so that the prose moves smoothly. Don’t say something in a paragraph you can say in a sentence. It sometimes can also mean adding to a scene because its full meaning isn’t there yet. There are freelance editors out there (some of whom worked as professional editors for publishers beforehand) who will help you edit. This can be expensive, though, so there are also options of joining writers’ groups in person or online. You can also talk to people you know who are knowledgeable about your genre, as long as they’re also willing and able to give you good constructive criticism.

  1. Publish elsewhere

Even if you can’t get your book published (yet), that doesn’t mean you can’t publish elsewhere to build up your résumé. When I was in high school, I started writing for a local newspaper. I’d take these articles and send them to bigger places, showing them that I was a professional writer and could work for them, too. By doing this, I eventually worked my way up to writing for MTV, CNN, The Onion, Publishers Weekly and Booklist, among other places. Once agents and editors see that big-name places are willing to hire you, they pay more attention. (A lot of these places I got into initially by writing about manga for them — I have an interest in Japanese comics and they needed people to cover this. Your interests might be what you can sell, which is win-win.) But keep in mind I didn’t reach MTV overnight — I started out with that local paper and kept moving up. Blogging is also a way to potentially get your name out there. It doesn’t necessarily have the same oomph to publishers as a paying market, but if you get enough followers, publishers ought to take heed.

  1. Build a Platform

Publishers and agents often say they want to see a platform. In other words, they want to see you brand yourself and have followers. While working on your book and submitting, find good ways to get yourself known. Publishing elsewhere (see above) can be a useful move for this part, but it’s not limited to that. Some people also use social media to build their own platform by finding an audience there. Other people have gotten attention through important work that they do. This is quite limitless.

  1. Network

Book conventions are a great place to network, because there unfortunately is truth to “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” However, I couldn’t afford to travel and go to conventions, and I know many writers have this same issue. So almost all the networking I did was online, and LinkedIn was especially useful. I would ask someone to link with me, and if they did, I’d send a brief and polite message thanking them, telling them a little about myself (a sentence or two will due) and saying I’d be interested in networking. Don’t just make it about you — help them, too. A lot of times I would help publicize work of theirs I admired for one of the places I wrote for, so it’s mutually beneficial. The best business, I believe, comes from helping one another.

  1. Have More Than One Project

I was writing full-time for MTV, freelancing for other publications and submitting a YA novel through my agent . . . when I sold my first book, which wasn’t the YA one. It was actually a book on manga, based on my background reviewing, reporting, adapting and editing manga. Sometimes the things that get you in the door are not the things you expect. Have an open mind and have some fun!

  1. Remember You Are Not Alone

Sometimes after getting rejection letters, it helped to hear from other writers experiencing the same thing. I worked toward being an author every day for years, without break, and it was often exhausting and demoralizing. Believing in yourself doesn’t mean you think everything you write is perfect and you can do no wrong, but it means you know you can make this work. Rejection is not a sign that it will always be rejection. The writers who get published as the ones who don’t give up and who keep bettering themselves, not the ones who get rejection letters.

  1. Love Writing

Because being a professional author can be such a challenge, always remember the number one thing: you want to be a writer because you love writing. Now get out there and show them what you’ve got!

Brian Klems, is a contribution writer and author, to Writer’s Digest

 

How to Proofread your Posts (or Novel)

The White Corner Creative at  https://www.whitecornercreative.com/

Though proofreading is something that a lot of people don’t think a lot about, it is one of the most vital parts of publishing a blog post. Writing and content is important, but it doesn’t mean anything if your readers can’t make it through your post because of errors. A while back I wrote a post HOW TO PROOFREAD YOUR POSTS BEFORE PUBLISHING because it’s very important to have a system in place so that proofreading every post is easy, and having a list of things to edit for will help.

Having a list is a great way to stay organized and create a strategy. You should build from my list and make one that applies to you – because everyone struggles with different elements of writing. Though you may be excellent at spelling or grammar, you might struggle with certain tenses or verbs, and you should put those specific examples on your list to make sure you always catch the mistakes. So, start with this list, and use it to create your own! Here’s what I’ve got so far – I’ll be adding things as I think of them over time!

Clichés

Clichés are the worst. They are as stinky as old cheese. They are just a waste of time. They are just gut wrenching. You see where I’m going with this, right? I wrote a post a little while ago – PRO WRITING: CLICHES – HOW TO AVOID THEM & WHY YOU NEED TO. If you’re not careful, clichés can really drag down a good post. Make sure to edit every post for them!

Tense

Though tense isn’t something many people think about, it can ruin a post if you let it. Tense means switching back and forth between present, past, future, etc. in your writing. Of course, switching around is okay if you’re talking about things that happened versus things that are going to happen, but most people do it all in one post that should be written in the same time-period. For more information about tense and how to do it right you can read my post PRO WRITING: HOW TO MAINTAIN YOUR TENSE.

Grammar

There are so many different grammar rules that you need to keep an eye out for when you are proofreading your posts. In my opinion, the most important ones are commas and apostrophes. When they are placed right, they help your writing make sense and go unnoticed, but when they are wrong they can break the flow and really tear your writing apart. I don’t have a post on grammar just yet – mostly because I need to figure out how to properly use commas myself (they are my weakness) but proofreading will help you catch the most obvious grammar mistakes.

Headline Grammar

You may or may not know this, but your headlines have their own grammar. The rules apply mostly to how you should capitalize them. There are certain words that you never capitalize, certain words you always should, and certain words that depend on where they are placed. For some details, you can check out my post HEADLINE GRAMMAR – HOW TO CAPITALIZE AND WHY YOU SHOULD, because headlines are a vital part of every post, and a grammar error there might warn people off before they even start reading.

Verbs

Verbs are the most powerful parts of every sentence. Front and center is where you want them in every sentence, and they should have true meaning. When I started out in school for professional writing, one of the exercises, we repeated over again and again, was to go through a piece and highlight every single verb. Then we would go through it again and make sure every one of those was as strong as it could be. Verbs can be weak in a few different ways. The first is when you haven’t chosen the right one. For example, why say ‘running fast’ when you could say ‘sprinting’. It cuts out a necessary word and has such a more powerful meaning. The second is when the verb you intend to use isn’t really the verb at all. If you say ‘I am writing for my readers’, ‘am’ is the verb, though you probably meant it to be ‘writing’. Instead change the sentence to ‘I write for my readers’. You can already tell how the sentence feels so much more powerful, and the meaning is truly what you intended.

Similar words

This one is something that a lot of people struggle with, and it’s something that really bothers a lot of people. When you use the wrong form or spelling of a word. There are hundreds of different examples of this, and everyone struggles with different ones. Some of the most common are:

they’re, there, their

right, write

its, it’s

two, too, to

then, than

You should make a list of the ones that you struggle with the most, and then make sure to edit for those on every post. Once you do this enough, using the right forms will be something automatic for you.

Spelling

Spelling is the first thing that people think of when they imagine proofreading, but it is only one small element in a long list of things to edit for. Most programs like Microsoft Word check your spelling as you write, and now WordPress even does it right in the post editor window. These are the spelling errors that are easy to catch because they are pointed out to you. But, you also need to proofread the post and check for spelling errors yourself, you can’t just rely on the built-in editor. This is because the editors are just checking that the words you type are real words spelt correctly, they don’t check that they make sense in the sentence or are the correct word. Read over a post yourself to see that all the words you meant to type ended up there.

Once you’ve built a list of things to edit for that’s custom tailored to you and the things you struggle with, print it off and use it every time you write and edit a post. Eventually you’ll start to catch fewer errors, and eventually you might overcome some of your writing problems altogether!

10 Ways First-Time Writers Can Get Noticed on Social Media

Writer’s Digest, Emily Sweet, Guest Column, March 8, 2017

The changing literary and book publishing landscape makes it difficult for new authors to breakout. A plethora of new distribution formats, especially focused on self-publishing, opens brand new avenues for writers to get noticed, but also makes it incredibly easy to get lost in the sea of content. Unless you have a pre-existing social platform or public profile that extends beyond the world of books, “discoverability” can be a very elusive thing and it can be nearly impossible to get noticed on social media.

The changing literary and book publishing landscape makes it difficult for new authors to breakout. A plethora of new distribution formats, especially focused on self-publishing, opens brand new avenues for writers to get noticed, but also makes it incredibly easy to get lost in the sea of content. Unless you have a pre-existing social platform or public profile that extends beyond the world of books, “discoverability” can be a very elusive thing and it can be nearly impossible to get noticed on social media. That said, there are many ways first-time authors can leverage social media to build their online presence and gain momentum in their careers. Here are my top 10 insights:

  1. Choose the platform that works for you 

Are you Twitter or Instagram? Are you Snapchat or Pinterest? When first starting out, it can be tempting to sign up for every platform under the sun. And while it’s a good idea to at least reserve your handle (preventing someone else from taking it), you probably shouldn’t start posting away everywhere. What platform do you like and feels most instinctual to you? Do you want to share pithy quotes? Then choose Twitter. Are you out of storage space because of all the photos you’ve taken on your phone? Then choose Instagram. Do you have pages and pages of inspiration for your characters? Then put it all on Pinterest and invite your readers to find extra content there.

  1. Make all your social media handles consistent

This may seem intuitive, but it’s important. You want followers to easily find you. And, unfortunately, this can be more difficult than it seems as well, because some handles may already be taken. So, chose one where you can be consistent.

  1. Don’t use the same content across all platforms

It can be tempting to link all of your accounts together and post one thing at one time, but try to resist that temptation. Each social media platform has its own community and set of rules. For one thing, if people follow you on multiple platforms, they’re going to know that you’re just being lazy. And that concern aside, often certain things won’t translate across platforms (tagging, for example, is hard to do when platforms are linked). But most importantly, each platform should have its own voice, which should be developed and honed.

  1. Develop a strong voice

Your content should reflect who you are as a writer. Share ideas and insights that distinguish you from other authors and public figures. Always remember who you’re talking to – your audience and who they consist of – and think about your “brand” (see number 6 for more on branding).

  1. Post consistently

Post consistently and often. At this point, most platforms reward you for activity, i.e., there are algorithms that will naturally boost more popular posts, but consistency helps as well. It will also encourage people to follow and engage with you.

  1. Focus on your brand, but don’t fall into the “ABS” (Always Be Selling) trap

Social media is a chance to get to know and really engage with your readers. If they like your writing, they’ll want to know when your book is coming out… but they want to engage in different ways too. No one likes being asked to buy something every time they see you.

  1. Interact with your followers to get noticed on social media

Don’t forget to go back and comment on comments. This is the whole benefit of social media! You can talk to your followers in real time and build a relationship with them.

  1. Interact with other authors

Authors can be a hugely supportive community. Just as you would reach out to other authors for blurbs, reach out and engage on social media as well.

  1. Make sure all your posts are tagged

Hashtags help drive engagement and help grow your fan base. Tagging helps lead people back to your page that may not have otherwise seen it.

  1. Be careful

It’ seasy to forget that you’re becoming a public figure if you’ve spent most of your life being private. But now simple posts are subject to scrutiny, so just watch your intention and tone. You don’t want something taken out of context, or to turn people off from your writing. All publicity is definitely NOT good publicity.

Emily Sweet is the Executive Director of Brand Development and Client Initiatives at Park Literary & Media. Among other things, she advises PLM clients on how to find their voice on social media, create an online presence, and develop a consistent brand strategy. She’s a former lawyer who now works with Nicholas Sparks, Emily Giffin, Debbie Macomber, Janice Y.K. Lee, Taylor Jenkins Reid, and many others.

For more information on Park Literary & Media, as well as the authors they represent, visit parkliterary.com or find them @parkliterarymedia on Instagram and @parkliterary on Twitter.

DR. SUESS

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An Actual Dr. Seuss Cartoon – 1941

This cartoon is amazing.  You know what history says don’t you?  “History is Bound to Repeat Itself, If Good Men and Women Do Nothing!”

***Remember this? Thousands of Jewish immigrants fleeing from Nazi concentration Camps in 1941 were denied entry in to America and they were returned to Germany where they were put to death in the Gas Chambers. Where is America in times like this – Voting for Hate-filled Promises? Do Really Believe in Democracy?  As a People, do we really believe in the Common Good for Humankind?  I think not.  We don’t even care about saving our planet! So, I guess worrying about the common good is a moot point. I asked myself,

“What does the human good mean?

The Common Good – Ethical Decision Making – Ethics Resources – Markkula Center for Applied Ethics . Commenting on the many economic and social problems that American society confronts, Newsweek columnist Robert J. Samuelson once wrote: “We face a choice between a society where people accept modest sacrifices for a common good or a more contentious society where group selfishly protect their own benefits.” Newsweek is not the only voice calling for a recognition of and commitment to the “common good.”

Appeals to the common good have also surfaced in discussions of business’ social responsibilities, discussions of environmental pollution, discussions of our lack of investment in education, and discussions of the problems of crime and poverty. Everywhere, it seems, social commentators are claiming that our most fundamental social problems grow out of a widespread pursuit of individual interests.

What exactly is “the common good”, and why has it come to have such a critical place in current discussions of problems in our society? The common good is a notion that originated over two thousand years ago in the writings of Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero. More recently, the contemporary ethicist, John Rawls, defined the common good as “certain general conditions that are…equally to everyone’s advantage”. The Catholic religious tradition, which has a long history of struggling to define and promote the common good, defines it as “the sum of those conditions of social life which allow social groups and their individual members relatively thorough and ready access to their own fulfillment.” The common good, then, consists primarily of having the social systems, institutions, and environments on which we all depend work in a manner that benefits all people. Examples of particular common goods or parts of the common good include an accessible and affordable public health care system, and effective system of public safety and security, peace among the nations of the world, a just legal and political system, and unpolluted natural environment, and a flourishing economic system. Because such systems, institutions, and environments have such a powerful impact on the well-being of members of a society, it is no surprise that virtually every social problem in one way or another is linked to how well these systems and institutions are functioning.  https://www.scu.edu/ethics/ethics-resources/ethical-decision-making/the-common-good/

Well, at least 45% of Americans do believe in the Common Good for Humankind!  So, I have hope…..still!

10 Tips For Proof-Reading and Editing!

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Proof-Reading and Editing Tips

These are very informative, yet simple and easy to do. Melissa writes that “I spend most of my work hours editing other people’s work and self-editing my own writing. In fact, I spend more time on self-editing than I do on writing. So, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite tips for self-editing.”

– Melissa Donavan, http://www.writingforward.com

1.Accept Favor Requests for Editing

When a friend, family member, or co-worker asks you to look at a draft, do it. Even if you’re busy, even if you don’t feel like it or have your own projects to write and edit, take it on. The more editing you do, the better you get at it, and that means you become better at editing your own work, too.

2. Know When to Turn Off Your Inner Editor

There’s a time and place for editing, and often, the first draft is not it. Some writers craft sentence by sentence, perfecting each paragraph before moving on to the next. If that works for you, great. But if you spend hours stuck on word choice or sentence structure and you can’t move forward with the project, turn off your inner editor, blind yourself to typos and grammar mistakes, ignore bad writing, and just let your fingers fly.

3. Make Sure You’re Wearing Your Editing Hat

When you edit, make sure editing is really what you’re doing. In other words, be aware that editing is not scouring the text for typos and stray punctuation marks. Editing is when we strengthen story, sentences, and paragraphs. Proofreading comes later. That’s not to say we don’t do a little proofing while editing or that we don’t do a little editing while proofing. I know I do. However, I always do a full revision focused on editing and another on proofreading. For more complex pieces, I do multiple edits and proofs.

4. Edit On-Screen and Track Changes

Many writers and editors swear by the printed page. But that’s a messy and inefficient way to edit. If you start editing on-screen, you’ll adjust to the new format and soon find it’s much easier than marking up print. If you’re making big revisions (as you should during editing) and you’re worried about losing the original text, use Microsoft Word’s feature, Track Changes, which does just what you’d expect — it tracks all the changes you make as you edit. Then you can go through and review every edit and accept or reject those changes individually or collectively later. This is also a great way to edit twice — once to make the changes and again to approve them.

5.If You’re Not Sure, Look it Up (and Know What You Don’t Know)

Your greatest wisdom as an editor is knowing what you don’t know. Having resources in your arsenal is one thing. Using them is something else entirely. Don’t be lazy! Remember that every time you look something up, you learn something new and expand your writing skills. Plus, the more you look things up, the less you’ll need to look them up in the future. Eventually, they become a natural part of your writing process.

6.Keep a Grammar Manual and Style Guide Handy

When you’re proofreading and editing, you need to be meticulous. Don’t cut corners. If you’re not sure about grammar, spelling, punctuation, or context, you need to be able to open up a grammar manual or a style guide, so make sure you have the right resources handy. Be vigilant, be correct, and use good judgment, keeping in mind that sometimes it’s best to bend the rules, but only if you know what the rules are and why you’re breaking them.

7. Run Spell-Check and Grammar-Check First

Before you do anything, run spell-check and use your word processing software’s grammar checking tool (if it has one). Automated checkers don’t catch everything, but they can catch a lot, and that means you’ll have more time and brain energy for manual editing. Also, use the find-and-replace feature, which allows you to quickly find or replace a single error multiple times. For example, many people are still in the habit of using a double space after a period. I always do a find-and-replace to replace all those double spaces with the modern standard: single spaces after every period or terminal punctuation mark.

8. Read Slowly and Out Loud

The most crucial aspect of proofreading and editing is reviewing every single word and examining the written work at the word, sentence, and paragraph levels. Plus, you should be able to assess every document or manuscript in its entirety to check for readability, organization, and flow. This means you’ll have to go over each piece numerous times. To separate yourself from the content so you can better evaluate the writing, read slowly and read out loud. You’ll catch a lot of minor mistakes and typos this way.

9. Listen for Wording and Rhythm

Editing involves more than checking for grammar, spelling, and punctuation. When you read the piece out loud, pay attention to the rhythm. Does it flow smoothly? Do the sentences alternate in length or are there a series of really short (or really long) sentences that have a droning rhythm? Break up some of those longer sentences and join some of the smaller sentences together to give the writing better rhythm and more musicality

10.Pay Attention to Formatting

Formatting is actually separate from editing. This involves things like font (size, face, and other formatting options, such as bold or italics), paragraph and line spacing, and indents. Chapter titles and subheadings, for example, should have the same font and spacing. Citations should be formatted with consistency (and preferably, adhering to a style guide). Keep an eye out for inconsistencies in this area.

BONUS TIP: Review to Perfection

I like to follow a five-step process for editing:

  1. Read the entire text.
  2. Second pass focuses on wording and readability.
  3. Third review focuses on editing for word choice and sentence structure.
  4. Fourth pass is proofreading (check for grammar, spelling, punctuation, and typos). This is where I read out loud, slowly.
  5. Final review and polish.

(I repeat step five until I can’t find anything to improve.)

 

Good Luck with Your Self-Editing!

BURNING DOWN THE SYSTEM TO THE GROUND?

20161126_blp902-bannonWhy does Steve Bannon want to “burn down our form of government to the ground?”  By Steve Bannon’s definition, it means doing away with our democratic system of government. With words like nationalism, populism, and his strong belief in Eurasian, the writing is on the wall, literally.

Eurasian means a system of authoritarian government that is, at best a dictatorship, at worse a medieval form of governance. Think, the Ottoman Empire. Bannon is not a conservative, he is an “Imperialist – like Putin – but worse.

Bannon’s belief in Eurasian, is a system of government that loathes secular modernity, like America and most Western European countries. Bannon’s belief heralds back to the Slavic-Turkic land empire and it is Bannon’s wish to do just that, democracy must go, ergo, he intends through Trump to do just that – “burn down our system of government to the ground.”

How do I know this? Because Steve Bannon has talked  about this kind of authoritarian/dictatorship for many years. It is easy to find out for yourself. Just go to google and go to http://www.economist.com/blogs/erasmus/2016/11/america-russia-and-new-right

Also google Steve Bannon’s favorite philosopher’s  Alexandre Dugin (Putin’s Rasputin), and Julius Evola to know more about Steve Bannon’s (Trump’s Brain) plan for America.