Category : Deep Thoughts

  • August 13, 2010

    Metaphors, Collaborations…and a Story


    Daniel asked, “Is the ability to craft great similes and metaphors a gift, or can it be learned?”

    My guess is that it's a gift. I've watched some people in the industry and been amazed at their ability to "see" the link between one action and another. I wish I could do that.

    And his follow up question: “What are some good learning tips for creating great metaphors?”

    Beats me. I've never been good at metaphors. (Or, in metaphor, "When it comes to creating metaphors, I'm a lawn chair." See? Awful. I hate coming up with good metaphors.) Maybe you could just learn to steal the good ones.

    Lynn asked, “I've been asked to collaborate on a book with someone — what are some of the legal necessities I need to keep in mind?"

    It’s a random list, depending on the topic of the book, the audience, the authors… but here are a handful of suggestions:

    1. What's the subject of the book?

    2. How long will it be?

    3. How many words/chapters are each person's responsibility?

    4. What are the due dates for each?

    5. Who gets to pitch the idea? (me? the partner?)

    6. What's the split of the money? (50/50? 60/40? 70/30? In whose favor?)

    7. Are both names on the cover, the title page, the copyright?

    8. Who owns the finished product?

    9. Who has to get permissions?

    10. Who pays for permissions?

    11. Will each writer warranty their work?

    12. Will we promise each other not to create competing works?

    13. Who takes the lead with the publisher on things like title, subtitle, cover, art, etc?

    14. Is there a kill fee if the book is cancelled?

    15. If killed, who owns the work that's been done?

    16. Can either party withdraw? If so, how?

    17. Worst case #1: does moral turpitude effect this?

    18. Worst case #2: upon death, what happens to the

    Continue Reading "Metaphors, Collaborations…and a Story"
  • April 30, 2010

    Three Spiritual Disciplines for Writers – A Guest Blog


    We're enjoying a happy day here at the office — three authors named as Christy finalists, Irene Hannon hitting the bestseller list for the third time in a row, the big online launch party for Gina Holmes' fabulous debut novel CROSSING OCEANS. A good day all around — and the perfect time to invite an author I represent to do a guest blog. Keri Wyatt Kent, who has written several very thoughtful books, checks in with her ruminations on the spiritual side of writing. You should check out Keri's books REST and SIMPLE COMPASSION — fascinating stuff…

    Those of us who dare to write about the spiritual life face a daunting challenge—how do we practice what we preach? How do we keep our writing authentic? As we “write for God,” how do we tend our own souls?

    Spiritual disciplines are simply practices of faith that create some space in our lives for God. If you have ever sat down to read your bible or pray, you’ve engaged in spiritual disciplines. But there are many other disciplines that will help us to grow, while ultimately improving our writing.

    It’s important to listen to God’s direction on which disciplines are needed in our lives. God may call us to embrace solitude and silence for a season. He may ask us to build trust by giving.

    The most commonly practiced disciplines are study and prayer—also called solitude or quiet time with God. Writers need these. But here are three other spiritual disciplines that I have found a particularly helpful as a writer:

    1. Community. But we also need the balance of authentic community. Writing is a solitary venture—we bravely face a blank page, alone but for the thoughts in our head. We need the discipline of setting aside our work to connect with others—and not just via Facebook. God may speak to our hearts, but we need to test those leadings with

    Continue Reading "Three Spiritual Disciplines for Writers – A Guest Blog"
  • July 28, 2007

    The Wisdom of the Ages


    Tammy wrote in to ask, "When an editor at a newspaper or magazine hands you a topic and tells you to write a story, where do you begin?" The is closely related to Dave’s question: "When writing a book, where do you begin to find your information?’

    The easiest way, of course, is to simply make them up. Specifically, create a name and a bunch of quotes. Make sure the name sounds vaguely academic ("V. Pennington Longbottom" works better than "Dan Smith.") Stick in some phony facts, making sure to use "actual" numbers (saying "9482 people believe Hillary Clinton is really Ted Kennedy in a wig" is much more believable than saying "nearly ten thousand people believe…") If anyone questions your sources, immediately attack them as heretics.

    Another thing that works well is to generalize: "EVERYBODY KNOWS that literary agents are more trustworthy than publishers." The goal is to try and make people who disagree feel stupid.

    In a pinch, citing Bible verses also helps. For example, you can say, "As the prophet Fiorello says in Formica 2:2, ‘Only the good die young.’" (Note to Biblicists: You can also simply misquote a verse, like the people in CBA who use "Publish Glad Tidings" on their stationery, as though it were a reference to publishing books in 21st Century America. That sort of establishes a link between you and God in the minds of the readers. Trust me on this.)

    In addition you can make your quotes close, even if they aren’t exactly correct. Or even germane. I once read a review of one of the 762 anti-DaVinci Code books that appeared on religious bookstore shelves in recent years, and the reviewer used these words: "As Jesus is claimed to have said, ‘Be still and know that I am God.’ If only his modern-day disciples would follow his advice." Ha! Yeah, it’s a cute line. The only problem is

    Continue Reading "The Wisdom of the Ages"