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Volume 8, Issue 4 Tips, Techniques and Tricks

Winter 2019 Chats with the Experts


Industry News...and... more

Winter 2019
Page
1 MORGAN’S CORNER

3 FLOW IS THE KEY


FRED RAYWORTH
6 JUST FOR GIGGLES AND GRINS
7 LIFE STORIES BY KEITH BETTINGER
MY FIRST BIKINI WAX
9 YOU DON’T SAY —MORE REDUNDANCIES
MORGAN ST. JAMES AND MIKE DENNIS
10 ON WRITING CHASE SCENES
CAROLYN HOWARD-JOHNSON
12 ATTENTION WRITERS: WORDS AND PHRASES CITED FOR OVERUSE, MISUSE OR GENERAL
USELESSNESS IN THE PAST YEAR
HAL MORRIS, GRUMPYEDITOR.COM
15 SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW
AUTHOR, NARRATOR, MUSICIAN MIKE DENNIS
19 WRITERS CONFERENCE LISTINGS
20 RESOURCE: AUTHORGRAPH, A GREAT TOOL FOR PERSONALIZED E-BOOKS
23 WRITERS TRICKS OF THE TRADE RADIO LISTINGS
24 REVIEWS BY MARTHA - MARTHA A. CHEVES—RESIDENT REVEWER
THE MYSTERY OF THE LOS AVENGER
26 G IS FOR GETTING UNSTUCK
MORGAN ST. JAMES
29 MY LIFE AS A DISABLED WRITER
ERIKA ABBOT
32 HOLLYWOOD GETS BOOK PUBLISHING WRONG
MORGAN ST. JAMES
35 WRITERS’ TRICKS OF THE TRADE – THE BOOK
36 HOW TO READ BACK ISSUES OF WRITERS TRICKS OF THE TRADE
WRITERS: WE ARE WAITING FOR YOUR SUBMISSION!
WRITERS: WE ARE WAITING FOR YOUR SUBMISSION!
Writers Tricks of the Trade magazine publishes on the 15th of April, July,
October, and January. Deadlines are the 1st of the publication month.
To suggest a topic or submit an article for consideration, please send
your submission to WTTmagazine@gmail.com. If an issue is full,
approved articles will appear in a future issue. Thank you for the 5
years of support for Writers Tricks of the Trade, the magazine by
writers for writers.
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AS WRITERS WE HAVE THE ABILITY TO GO WHERE OUR IMAGINATION TAKES US AND
POPULATE THAT PLACE. ANNE FRANK’S WORDS ARE SO INSPIRATIONAL.

Winter 2019
Thought for the Day

"I can"Ishake off everything as I write; my sorrows


can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows
disappear, my courage is reborn." --Anne Frank
disappear, my courage is reborn."

--Anne Frank

ANNE FRANK’S ROOM IN 1958, WITHOUT THE WALLPAPER AND PICTURES


PHOTO COLLECTION: ANNE FRANK STICHTING, AMSTERDAM / PHOTO: P. LUST

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MORGAN’S CORNER
MORGAN ST. JAMES, EDITOR

This is the page where I always comment on any new features and articles that are par-
ticularly timely or informative. I also use the space to update readers on what might be going
on in my professional or personal life.

C
an you believe that it is 2019 al- tion, so I had to don the white nurse’s hat
ready? In some ways, it feels like and give him very strong antibiotics three
the Winter 2018 edition was just times a day for three weeks. So strong,
published. But, in other ways it has that I had to wear gloves and a mask to
been quite an eventful year. handle the pills. But—hooray—it worked.
We have added more regular fea- He wore
tures and contributors and as always our two different
readership continues to grow. So much kinds of PJs so
credit goes to those who always share the he didn’t have
link so that more and more readers are to wear the
aware of Writers Tricks of the Trade and cone of shame
to our wonderful contributors. while he was
Poor little Dylan the Dog, our As- healing. Jail-
sociate Editor, really had his challenges bird PJs that
this past year. say Canine
County Jail, Bone Thief, and holiday PJs
that say Ho, Ho, Ho. Besides that, it was
discovered that he has diabetes and now
has insulin injections twice a day.
Good patient that he is, I’m happy to
say Dylan the Dog is back at work as the
Associate Editor, maintaining his position
under my desk.
Two surgeries on his right back So many people liked the Facebook
leg—one to repair a torn ACL ligament posts about him in a dog’s voice, that Dyl-
and one to remove the implant because it an now has his own Facebook page. You
developed bacteria. It didn’t end there. can follow him at @DoggieDylan.
Even after the second surgery the infec- This is a personal word of advice to
tion came back more than once. Finally it anyone who has a pet. Vet bills are very
was discovered that he had a staph infec- expensive. Dylan’s topped $5,000 this

WRITERS’ TRICKS OF THE TRADE PAGE 1 WINTER 2019


year but fortunately he has pet insurance. Please share this magazine with your
If you do not have insurance for your pet, writer friends and if you haven’t signed
you should look into it. The premiums up for a subscription, it is easy and free.
may seem steep, but you never know Just look for the subscribe button on
what the future holds. His insurance co- Joomag where you can also download
vers 90% of approved charges, so my out- past issues.
lay was a little over $650 because his bills Don’t miss reading the Spotlight In-
exceeded his yearly limit of $5,000. terview with Mike Dennis in this issue,
On the writing front I am currently in Keith Bettinger’s feature story in Life Sto-
different stages of development on four ries, tips from Carolyn Howard-Johnson
different books. Yep. I am a multi-tasker. and Fred Rayworth’s regular column and
Partially finished on a standalone mys- the inspiring article by Erika Abbot, “My
tery, a new book in the Silver Sisters Mys- Life as a Disabled Writer.”
teries series, a new book in the Revenge is
Fun series and Dennis N. Griffin and I Keep writing!
have begun a new memoir with Bella Ca-
po of No More Crying Angels. Her life
reads like fiction, but it is real and she is a
warrior. The working title is Full Circle:
My Journey to Hell and Back.
2019 will present many more con-
tests, publication opportunities, confer-
ences and workshops as you continue to
build platforms and write books and
short stories. We love to hear about suc-
cesses and even backfires. You know the Morgan
saying: “The only real mistake is the
one from which we learn nothing.” Editor
John Powell and
By sharing things that did not work
for you, it is a help to fellow writers. Noth- Dylan the Dog
ing is perfect. Never be ashamed about
goofing or misinterpreting an opportunity ASSOCIATE EDITOR
or challenge. My book, Writers Tricks of
the Trade, does not hesitate to point out
various backfires I have experienced dur-
ing the many years I have been writing.

WINTER 2019 WRITERS’ TRICKS OF THE TRADE


PAGE 2
FLOW IS KEY
FRED RAYWORTH

What makes the action in a book work. There are many misconcep-
tions, and that’s why I wanted to take a look at the concept of
flow—one of the things that makes you want to keep turning pages.

I
Digging up examples of past books I’ve
read, there was the example of a recent
n various forms, I’ve talked about this science fiction novel I read. The style was
before. Story flow. herky-jerky, frenetic pacing. The author
wrote in random thoughts, expected the
I read a lot. Okay, I’ve also talked reader to have read the previous two
about that a lot. At Disneyland, the most books, and buried the action, which was
inspiring place in the world, a lot of things admittedly relentless, within that jumbled
popped into my head, including the seeds mess. In a way, the pacing was steady, but
for this article. That spark of an idea came the writing distracted from that.
to roost when I’d finished the book I was I’ve read other novels where they
reading during that trip and started the would start slow, pick up at a frantic pace,
one which had 152 short chapters. That slow down, have a burst of action, then
made this thought come full circle back to nothing for a very long time. Finally,
what I’d read while stuck in the hospital. they’d end with a small burst of action.
Story flow. It can make or break your The chapters were very long, like thirty
story. pages or more, with no scenes.
First off, I’m not going to condemn To me, that’s as herky jerky as the sci-
every style I don’t like personally, but fi writer with the relentless pace.
then again, I am going to explain why I
SNAILS-PACE
think they’re a detriment to an easy and
enjoyable read. This is getting more into the literate
Being a writer is one thing. However, way of things. The pacing is almost non-
before we were writers, we were readers, existent as the author spends all their re-
true? I certainly hope we still are, because al-estate developing the characters. Plot is
that’s the whole reason for taking up this a side issue. The chapters are long, the
passion, to make something readable ei- paragraphs are very long and the narra-
ther for ourselves, or eventually for other tive tends to be rambling.
people. This is a word lover’s dream.
Why torture your readers? During a period of time when I was
stuck in the hospital, I read a murder-
serial killer story that moved at a snail’s-
HERKY-JERKY

WRITERS’ TRICKS OF THE TRADE PAGE 3 WINTER 2019


pace. Not only that, it had an unsatisfying of action (movement), no matter what
ending. It was pure torture. kind of story it is.
BRISK PACING WHAT IS ACTION?
Though I’m not big fan of James Pat- By action I don’t mean necessarily ac-
terson’s novels, mainly because he tends tion/adventure as in the genre. I mean,
to write first-person most of the time, the the characters have to do something sig-
one thing I like about him is that instead nificant to move the story. That’s it. For-
of writing scenes, he writes very short ward pacing. NOT backward pacing.
chapters. His novels might have 80 – 100 Think about it.
chapters or more. A side effect of this is You have a story about two little old
that he also tends to avoid head-hopping ladies getting ready for a quilting bee.
because he’s able to contain the scenes to They’re mild rivals. They get together to
single characters when he does write check out each other’s work. Now is not
third-person. the time to go into a long diatribe about
This style makes for a fast-paced and how they went for ice cream when they
easy read, especially if you read at com- were nine years old. Okay, maybe a cou-
mercials. ple of sentences, but not an entire chap-
My icky bug novel had 152 chapters ter, right? Pacing.
and was a pure pleasure to read. Fast- These two old ladies have an interplay
paced, it was solid third-person and there where they examine each other’s work
was no room for head-hopping. I loved and mildly, or maybe harshly criticize
everything about it except the ending! each other’s work. Bla Bla Bla.
You don’t have to write hundreds of Story movement. Conflict.
short chapters to have fast pacing either. Notice how I deliberately picked a
You can do it with multiple scenes, or genre I don’t write, just to illustrate my
even just relatively short paragraphs. point.
 You can do it by not rambling. That was an action scene that moved
 You can do it by getting to the the story forward, demonstrating their
point. rivalry.
 You can do it by moving the story, WHAT IS NOT ACTION?
even if every scene isn’t a chase
 Overlong descriptions.
scene.
 Going off on a side story.
All you have to do is pace the story. By
that, I mean give it a steady buildup to the  Going off on a rant.
climax. Make sure something is happen-  Unrelated back story.
ing in every scene. It doesn’t have to be  Unrelated flashbacks (see back
thrills. Keep the genre in mind, of course. story).
It has to be something significant to move Every one of these things may have
the story along and it has to be some kind action in them by definition, but they’re

WINTER 2019 WRITERS’ TRICKS OF THE TRADE


PAGE 4
not action that moves the plot/story for- SUMMARY
ward. The slow the pacing and jerk the Keep in mind that as much as you like
reader out of the main story/plot/main to write, one day someone else may want
action. to read it. Don’t torture them (or an edi-
I’d also like to add overlong chapters tor)!
and paragraphs. Overlong sentences also
don’t do you any favors, as well as lack of Happy writing!
scene breaks.
The idea is not to torture your read-
ers. Your story is supposed to be a pleas-
ure to read.
Finally, don’t throw the dictionary at
Fred
them. ‘Nuff said about that one.
<<<>>>

Fred Rayworth found his passion for writing in 1995. He has been a regular contribu-
tor to Writers Tricks of the Trade for several years now, always offering sage advice, or his
own spin that may raise questions about techniques that have been the standard.
Fred has completed eleven full-length novels and is currently working on number
twelve. Genres include science fiction, icky bug (horror), adventure/thriller and fantasy.
Multiple short horror stories made it to publication. When not writing, he can be found ei-
ther making something out of wood in his garage or out under a dark sky pursuing faint
fuzzy objects with his telescope. You can read his writing tips and other adventures at
www.fredrayworth.com

WRITERS’ TRICKS OF THE TRADE PAGE 5 WINTER 2019


JUST FOR GIGGLES AND GRINS

Take time out from all of the stressful news, and have a few laughs

WINTER 2019 WRITERS’ TRICKS OF THE TRADE


PAGE 6
LIFE STORIES BY KEITH BETTINGER
MY FIRST BIKINI WAX
Yes, a bikini wax, but don’t let your mind run rampant. I assure you, it is
not what you this it is.

W
ell gang, I had my first bikini protective leather jacket, the branch
wax the other day. Slow down, landed on my arm and embedded numer-
before you start spreading ous cactus spines in my left arm.
rumors—no I haven’t started I started the spine removal process
playing for the “other team,” nor was I with tweezers. That was like bailing out
“manscaping”. I was practicing emergency the Titanic with a shot glass. Then I re-
medical treatment. Yes, you read that cor- membered a television show I watched
rectly— emergency medical treatment. one night. It was about strange happen-
Out here is the Southwest we have an ings in hospital emergency rooms. A doc-
interesting variety of plants—Cacti—the tor was on duty with his staff of nurses.
plural of Cactus. They are very attractive The nurses were reading a magazine ad
from a distance. They are also a great about bikini waxing. They were teasing
crime prevention tool when planted un- the doctor about the process and the re-
der ground floor windows. When their sults, as well as the pained look on his
flowers bloom they are beautiful. They face.
are also zero maintenance here in the de- Shortly thereafter, a mother and fa-
sert. However, when they really start to ther brought their small daughter into the
grow some of them can grow like weeds. emergency room. The child had rolled
I was looking at my two cacti as they down a hill on the side of the road right
were growing towards my neighbor’s into a cactus patch. Her entire body was
walkway. I came to the assumption that if covered with cactus spines. The doctor
I didn’t trim them, they would soon over- tried removing them with tweezers, but
run the sidewalk to his backyard. quickly came to the same conclusion
In order to remedy the situation, I got about the Titanic and the shot glass.
out my trusty four dollar Wal-Mart ma- The child was in a great deal of pain
chete, and was merrily swinging away as and her condition was worsening. The
if I was Indiana Jones fighting my way doctor wanted to anesthetize her. The
through the jungle. Then I experienced parents, who had lost a child during sur-
something Indiana Jones didn’t. As one of gery, would not allow the child to be put
the cactus branches fell, it fell my way. under. The fear was real for them, but not
Since I wasn’t wearing Indy’s trusty and very proactive for the child. The doctor

WRITERS’ TRICKS OF THE TRADE PAGE 7 WINTER 2019


was stymied as the child cried in agony After this latest escapade, I’m thinking
and her condition deteriorated. of changing my crime prevention tech-
The doctor tried to remove the spines nique, but I don’t want to be the one to try
with duct tape brought in by the hospital and remove the cacti from the ground.
maintenance man. Usually duct tape can Maybe I could hire some of the guys to
repair everything. It removed some remove them who chase my car around
spines, but still not enough. Then the doc- the parking lot at Home Depot.
tor remembered the advertisement in the I’m wondering, would artificial cacti
magazine. be as effective as a crime prevention
He told one of the nurses to go out to a technique? I’m not sure what the correct
store and buy all the bikini wax she could answer is, so for the time being while I
find. She did as instructed. The staff ap- wait for the hair on my left arm to grow
plied it over the child’s body and “ripped” back I’ll continue to hold onto my jar of
all the spines from her body. Yes it was bikini wax
painful; very painful in fact, but it was al-
so successful and the child recovered.

Keith Bettinger is a retired Suffolk County (N.Y.) Police Officer. He’s been writing for law enforcement publica-
tions for more than 25 years and has received 18 awards for his articles, stories, poems, and books. He has a
Master’s Degree in Human Relations with a major in Clinical Counseling. During his career he received the de-
partment’s Bravery Medal, Silver Shield Award, Meritorious Police Service Award, Special Service Award, Profes-
sionalization Award, Department Recognition Award, five Headquarters commendations and six Precinct com-
mendations. He also was a field training officer and an instructor on Post Shooting Trauma and Critical Incidents.

WINTER 2019 WRITERS’ TRICKS OF THE TRADE


PAGE 8
YOU DON’T SAY!
MORE REDUNDANCIES
By Mike Dennis and Morgan St. James

Mike and Morgan explore the pitfalls of the English language, because so
many words are misused. From words that sound alike, to ones that al-
most sound alike—redundancies, oxymorons and words that don’t really
exist but are used every day. The list goes on, and we’re going to have fun
with them in every issue

MIKE: Well, Morgan, what's up for this MIKE: Fl--ohhhh, I see.


month? MORGAN: It's a good thing he wasn't into
MORGAN: Mike, we've still got a problem. scuba diving, you know, or else we'd all be
MIKE: What's the matter? Did you catch singing about "flying underwater".
someone splitting an infinitive? MIKE: I see what you mean. This is not good.
MORGAN: No, nothing that serious, thank MORGAN: And then...then I was at the doc-
God. But this is still pretty bad. It seems the tor's and he asked me to fill out a form called
outbreak of RAMPANT REDUNDANCIES is "Prior History".
worse than we thought. MIKE: Oh, no! What other kind of history is
MIKE: Rampant Redundancies? Oh no! Any- there? None that I know of. Can’t have fu-
thing but that! ture or present history.
MORGAN: Yes, I'm afraid it's true. They're MORGAN: So I asked him if I could fill out a
coming at us from all sides now. form labeled "Prior Diseases I Haven't Had
MIKE: Yikes! Just like the giant ants in THEM! Yet".
MORGAN: Unfortunately, that's right. For in- MIKE: What did he say to that?
stance, I just heard a new version of the song MORGAN: He said, "We'd better postpone
about the Man on the Flying Trapeze. Re- your appointment until later, Miss St James."
member that one? MIKE: So what did you do?
MIKE: Sure, who doesn't? He flies through MORGAN: I just told him I'd rather "postpone
the air with the greatest of ease, right? it until an hour ago"
MORGAN: That's just it! He flies through the
air!

WRITERS’ TRICKS OF THE TRADE PAGE 9 WINTER 2019


ON WRITING CHASE SCENES
CAROLYN HOWARD-JOHNSON
AUTHOR OF THE FRUGAL EDITOR,
THE WINNINGEST IN HER AWARD-WINNING
HOWTODOITFRUGALLY SERIES OF BOOKS FOR WRITERS

NOTE FROM CAROLYN: This article is excerpted from some editing I did for a writer of exper-
imental fiction when I was on a Greater Los Angeles Writers Society panel. No matter what
genre you prefer, you can apply these suggestions to the chase, getaway, or high action scene
in your script or manuscript before you send it to an agent or publisher or, better still, while
you are writing the first draft.

S
ometimes even the most fascinat- 4. In the interest of a faster pace, try
ing, interesting and irresistible de- dropping into present tense and moving
tail can slow down the forward out of it when the run or danger is past. If
movement of your story. So as much you write the scene that way and wait a
as writers are told that detail is im- day or two before rereading it, by doing
portant, purge as much as you can from so, you’ll be able to honestly compare the
your action scenes and put it somewhere effects of the two and adjust the tense
else or dribble it into narrative in other change so it doesn’t feel obtrusive.
places in your manuscript. In the process, 5. If you are trying to achieve a truly
ask yourself if your reader really needs to heart-beating moment, consider using
know the color of the protagonist’s eyes. fragments. Even one-word fragments.
As important as detail is, some is better 6. Commas can slow the pace. Some-
left to the imagination of the reader. I can times you must follow grammar rules for
imagine where eye color might be very commas for clarity. Often that comma
important, but—on average—it probably slows things down for the reader. Does
isn’t necessary. Here are some quick sug- the comma indicate a pause where the
gestions: reader wouldn’t normally pause or does it
1. Remove some of the detail entirely. reinforce a natural pause. Does it really
Double check. Make it meets the test! help with clarity. Would you achieve this
2. Use stronger verbs—especially clarity better if you made your long sen-
verbs of movement. tence into short ones. This is a style
3. Use shorter sentences. By doing so, choice you get to make. You are looking
the rhythm could emulate a fast-beating for the times readers will never notice a
heart and the pulse of danger. Note that comma is absent. You may choose to dis-
clauses slow copy as surely as passive card some of them.
voice (or tense).

WINTER 2019 WRITERS’ TRICKS OF THE TRADE


PAGE 10
7. Consider saving the description of in this passage should probably be the
your protagonist for a time when life emotional reassurance it offered, not how
doesn’t depend on his or her speed. His it felt to the touch. Further, this kind of
“bright face of youth” doesn’t meet that thing might best be left to your reader
test. Is there a way to work the major de- who will draw that conclusion anyway.
scription into this narrative using smaller 9. At the risk of being repetitious, the
bites or to arrange to have it come before sense of danger shouldn’t be interrupted
or after the chase? unless it is necessary for understanding.
8. Though I love to include some sen- Sometimes that isn’t speed (like a chase).
sory detail, be careful not to overdo that, Sometimes it is. Regardless, you—the au-
especially in an action-moment. The writ- thor—want to keep the momentum going
er of the action scene I was critiquing had for the reader.
the protagonist leaning against a strut for http://www.howtodoitfrugally.com.
a moment’s rest. The strut’s sensory role

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

the author of the multi award-winning series of


HowToDoItFrugally books for writers including USA Book News’ winner for The Frugal Book
Promoter. An instructor for UCLA Extension's renowned Writers Program for nearly a decade,
she believes in entering (and winning!) contests and anthologies as an excellent way to sepa-
rate our writing from the hundreds of thousands of books that get published each year. Two of
her favorite awards are Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment given by members of
the California Legislature and Women Who Make Life Happen, given by the Pasadena Weekly
newspaper. She is also an award-winning poet and novelist and she loves passing along the
tricks of the trade she learned from marketing those so-called hard-to-promote genres. Learn
more and find tons of free resources on her website at https://HowToDoItFrugally.com or on
her Amazon profile page:
https://bit.ly/CarolynsAmznProfile. While you’re there, won’t you click on the follow but-
ton and make sure your Amazon profile page is up-to-date.

WRITERS’ TRICKS OF THE TRADE PAGE 11 WINTER 2019


ATTENTION WRITERS:
WORDS AND PHRASES CITED FOR OVERUSE,
MISUSE OR GENERAL USELESSNESS IN THE
PAST YEAR
HAL MORRIS WWW.GRUMPYEDITOR.COM
Every year the Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan
issues their list of banned words and phrases. Some of them have been overused during the year to the
point of nausea As writers, we need to be aware of these offenders so they don’t sneak into our manu-
scripts. Thanks to veteran newsman and columnist, Hal Morris, who hangs out at
www.grumpyeditor.com these days, here is the list.

C
ollusion, a word heard almost Ghosting. “So somebody doesn’t want
every day on TV news and spot- to talk with you. Get over it. No need to
ted in print stories, made it to the bring the paranormal into the equation.”
list Yeet, as in vigorously throw or toss.
"We need to collude on getting rid of “If I hear one more ‘yeet,’ I might just
this word,” yelled the wordsmiths. yeet myself out a window.”
Others making the banished list —
Litigate. “Originally meant to take a
with word collectors’ comments:
claim or dispute to a law court now ap-
Wheelhouse, as in area of expertise. propriated by politicians and journalists
“It’s an awkward word to use in the 21st for any matter of controversy in the pub-
century. Most people have never seen a lic sphere.”
wheelhouse.”
Grapple. “People who struggle with
In the books, as in finished or con- ideas and issues now grapple with them.”
cluded. “It seems everyone’s holiday par-
Eschew. “Nobody ever actually says
ty is in the books and it’s all there for
this word out loud, they just write it for
friends to view on social media.”
filler.”
Wrap my head around. “Impossible
to do and makes no sense.” Crusty. “This has become a popular
insult. It’s disgusting and sounds weird.
Platform. “People use it as an ex-
Make the madness stop.”
cuse to rant. Facebook, Instagram, Twit-
ter have become platforms.” Optics. “The trendy way to say ‘ap-
pearance’.”
OTUS family of acronyms such as
POTUS, FLOTUS, SCOTUS. “Overused useless Legally drunk. ”People who are tick-
word for the President, First Lady, Su- eted for drunk driving are actually ‘illegal-
preme Court.” ly drunk,’ and we should say so.”

WINTER 2019 WRITERS’ TRICKS OF THE TRADE


PAGE 12
Thought leader. “Thoughts aren’t Accoutrements. “Hard to spell, not
ranked or scored. How can someone hold specific and anachronistic when ‘accesso-
a thought-lead, much less even lead by ries’ will do.”
thought?” Most important election of our
Importantly. “Totally unnecessary time. “Not that we haven’t had six or
when ‘important’ is sufficient.” seven back-to-back most important elec-
tions of our time.”

MAYBE IT IS TIME TO PUT SOME OF THESE


OVERWORKED WORDS AND PHRASES
TO REST.

WRITERS’ TRICKS OF THE TRADE PAGE 13 WINTER 2019


WINTER 2019 WRITERS’ TRICKS OF THE TRADE
PAGE 14
SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW
MIKE DENNIS
Mike Dennis is one of those people who does lots of things well.
From professional musician to professional poker player. From
author to audio book narrator. It seems as though there is nothing
that is too great of a challenge. Not even the “You Don’t Say” col-
umn that Mike and Morgan St. James wrote together for over a year.

WTT: Mike, I understand you've had a WTT: How do you mean?


variety of careers. Why don't you walk
us through them?
MD: I went to Nashville in 1979 not
knowing a soul in that city. As you know,
MD: Well, back when dinosaurs roamed it's called "Music City USA". It's the center
the earth, in 1973, I became a profession- of country music and it's a very unforgiv-
al musician, fulfilling a dream I'd always ing place. I still remember how intimidat-
had. It was a big jump for me, like taking a ed I was the first day I rolled into Nash-
fork in the road that led into darkness. I ville in my van. I actually slept in my van
didn't know what lay in store for me, I on- for
ly knew I loved music and had an oppor-
tunity to play it for a living, so I took it.
For the next 30 years, I never held anoth-
er job.

WTT: What instrument did you play?

MD: I played piano and sang. I did rock &


roll, rhythm & blues, and country music.
Not all at once, of course. I was heavily
into country for the first twelve years or
With Fats Domino
so, the first six of which I lived in Houston
the first couple of nights until I lined up a
and Memphis, and the last five years in
place to stay. Then, after going out every
Nashville. It was during those five years
night to check out the music scene, I got
that I developed a lot of confidence in my
myself some work after three or four
abilities.
more nights. That led to bigger and much
better things.

WRITERS’ TRICKS OF THE TRADE PAGE 15 WINTER 2019


WTT: So, according to my calculations,
In Nashville, it's not so much who you we're up to around 2004. Is that when
know as what you can do, and I think I you started writing?
acquitted myself very well during my
years there. I left voluntarily, despite hav- MD: Time for a flashback. I started writ-
ing opportunities to move into record ing in 1987, during my New Orleans
producing. My time there showed me I years. A lady friend of mine, who was her-
could accomplish a lot of things if I put my self a writer, somehow got the idea that I
mind to it and worked hard. I subsequent- could write a novel. I laughed it off, telling
ly left country music altogether and her that was the province of "real" writ-
moved to Fort Lauderdale in 1984 and ers, not musicians like myself.
then to New Orleans in 1985 where I
played and sang rock & roll and rhythm & Anyway, she continued hounding me until
blues in a Bourbon Street hotel piano bar. I'd had enough. One day, I bought a sheaf
of blank white paper and a box of pencils
WTT: That's quite a change! (computers in those days were way too
expensive).
MD: It really was. I had never done that
kind of thing before and the gig just sort I sat around looking at that blank sheet of
of fell into my lap. I sensed opportunity, paper for hours until finally an opening
so I grabbed it and wound up playing at line came to me. Then, another line, then a
that hotel for nearly 7 years. It was diffi- character, and boom! I was off to the rac-
cult at first, building a solid repertoire es. Three months later, I had a finished
and developing my strength to where I novel. The next day, I started another one.
could play and sing 100% of the songs for That one took me about eight months to
5 hours a night, six nights a week. That write.
can take a lot out of you if you're not used
to it. Of course, neither of those novels will ev-
er see the light of day, but as a result of
WTT: Then what? the confidence I'd gained during my
Nashville years, I was able to actually
MD: Well, then I moved to Key West, write two novels! I started a third imme-
where I played for the next twelve years diately. My music career prevented me
or so. Key West is a great place, but musi- from devoting any real time to marketing
cally, Jimmy Buffett has ruined it with his these books, so the third one languished
calculated images of the town. Everyone in semi-finished form for three or four
wants to hear "Margaritaville". I only years. By then, I was in Key West. The
played it at gunpoint. musical pressure was off and I could feel
the first subtle rumblings of my music ca-
reer winding down.

WINTER 2019 WRITERS’ TRICKS OF THE TRADE


PAGE 16
consistent winners.
I accidentally stumbled into poker around
1996 and wound up becoming a real stu- WTT: When does the writing kick in
dent of the game. I read every book I for real?
could get my hands on and played around
South Florida at every opportunity. I MD: In 2009. Remember I said I wrote a
turned out to be a pretty decent player. I third novel that took me three or four
ventured up to Biloxi, Mississippi, where years to finish? Well, that was called THE
they had legal casinos and tried my hand TAKE, and Morgan, thanks to you and
at it up there. The going was a little more your efforts with a publisher, I was of-
difficult, but I persisted (that confidence fered a deal. I returned home from the
thing again). A few more trips to Biloxi, Bellagio poker room on August 1, 2009 to
and I finally ventured out to Las Vegas. I find an email waiting for me with the of-
eventually spent two weeks out of every fer. I accepted it immediately, of course.
month in Las Vegas. By 2006, I had left Twenty-two years after I wrote my first
Key West and moved out there to play word of fiction, I was finally getting a
poker at the professional level. book deal! I was ecstatic.

WTT: Now there's a big leap! WTT: How long did the ecstasy last?

MD: Not as big as it might sound. Like I MD: Not long. The moment after I accept-
say, I'd been spending half my time out ed the offer, I realized I had no promo-
there already, so the move just cut down tional mechanism to complement my
on the traveling expenses and allowed me novel. So I made the decision to quit pok-
to play every day. Plus, I had moved my er and concentrate on writing.
Mom, who had developed Alzheimer's
Disease, into an assisted living facility out WTT: Just like that?
there, so I could see her every day. My
house was less than ¼ mile from where MD: Just like that. I never returned to the
she was living. I spent a lot of time with Bellagio. Instead, I started a series of Key
her right up till her passing in May of West noir novels. Needless to say, I was
2009. fired up by receiving the offer, so the
books just poured out of me. I finished
WTT: So how did the poker go? three novels inside of five months.

MD: Very well, actually. During my four WTT: Were they all released by your
years in Las Vegas (2006-10), playing vir- publisher?
tually every day, I never had a losing year.
Which is pretty good, when you realize MD: No. I was not at all thrilled with their
that only 10% of all poker players are efforts. Turns out they were a very small

WRITERS’ TRICKS OF THE TRADE PAGE 17 WINTER 2019


publisher with a large number of authors WTT: What about your writing? Did
each selling a small number of books. By you give it up?
now, 2010, self-publishing was catching MD: No. In 2016, the narrating was slow-
on, so I thought I'd go in that direction. ing down, so I turned my energies back to
writing. I wrote a trilogy of noir novels set
I didn't see a lot of sales, and I became in Miami, and they sold quite well. I even
discouraged. Around 2013, an opportuni- had some interest from a Hollywood
ty presented itself to get into audiobook agent regarding a TV series, but nothing
narration. I tested the waters, then came of it. It did tell me, however, that my
bought some equipment, and next thing writing has value. I've started a new se-
you know, I'm narrating real novels by ries of noir novels set in Miami Beach in
real authors. the early 1950s. I've completed two of
them so far. We'll see what the future
WTT: Another career? What kind of brings.
books did you narrate?
WTT: Thanks for your time, Mike. Best
MD: I did some good ones, like Mickey of luck to you. By the way, I'm looking
Spillane's I, THE JURY. I narrated four forward to reading the new series. I
books for Lawrence Block. I did novels by don't know if you know, but as a kid I
Jim Thompson, James M Cain, Jack Kerou- actually lived in Miami in 1950.
ac. Heck, I even did JD Salinger. My voice,
it turns out, was well-suited for noir nov-
els, so I did several old novels that were
made into film noir classics.

“The larger crimes are apt to be the simpler, for the bigger the crime, the more obvious,
as a rule, is the motive.”
― Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

WINTER 2019 WRITERS’ TRICKS OF THE TRADE


PAGE 18
on-fiction,.
WRITERS CONFERENCES
LISTINGS ARE FOR INFORMATION ONLY. PLEASE CHECK THEM OUT YOURSELF

2019
Feb 13-17 San Miguel Writers Conference, San Miguel de Allende MX

Feb 14-17 San Francisco Writers Conference, San Francisco CA

Feb 15-17 Southern California Writers Conference,San Diego CA

Feb 22-24 Ashville Christian Writers Conference, Ashville NC

Feb 22-24 Genre LA Creative Writers Conference, Van Nuys CA

Mar 15-16 Mid-south Christian Writers Conference, Collierville TN

Mar 21-23 The Write Stuff Writer’s Conference, Bethlehem PA

Mar 22-24 The Genuine Writers Retreat, Annapolis MD

Apr 26-28 Chanticleer Authors Conference, Bellingham WA

May 2-4 Las Vegas Writers Conference, Las Vegas NV

May 29-Jun 1 North Words Writers Symposium, Skagway AK

Jun 19-22 Write to Publish Conference, Wheaton IL

Jul 18-21 Public Safety Writers Conference, Las Vegas NV

Jun 20-22 North American Historical Novel Society Conference, Oxon Hill, MD

WRITERS’ TRICKS OF THE TRADE PAGE 19 WINTER 2019


AUTHORGRAPH
A GREAT TOOL FOR PERSONALIZED E-BOOKS

Evan Jacobs is a software developer living in Seattle, WA. He builds web and mobile applications and especially
enjoys creating tools that help people personalize their digital experiences. In May of 2011, he built the first ver-
sion of this service to enable authors and readers to interact through digital books. It was originally called
Kindlegraph before he changed the name to Authorgraph in November 2012. Authorgraph makes it possible for
authors to sign e-books for their readers. Really!

WHAT IS AUTHORGRAPH?  View your Authorgraph in your fa-


vorite reading apps and devices
Getting an Authorgraph is easy if an author
is part of this handy program. First the read-
Evan Jacobs is a software developer living
er searches or browses for their favorite au-
thors or books. Then, in Seattle, WA. He builds web and mobile
applications and especially enjoys creat-
 Click "Request Authorgraph" (you ing tools that help people personalize
can include a short message to the their digital experiences.
author)
 Receive an email when the author ABOUT THE IDEA
has signed your Authorgraph Evan says, "I really enjoy reading and I

WINTER 2019 WRITERS’ TRICKS OF THE TRADE


PAGE 20
also enjoy meeting the authors of my fa- DO READERS NEED TO OWN OR BUY MY BOOK
vorite books. One time, during the sum- IN ORDER TO RECEIVE AN AUTHORGRAPH?
mer of 2010, I attended an author reading No, but readers who request your
in Seattle. After the author had read a sec- Authorgraph are very likely to be current
tion of his book, he invited everyone to or future readers.
come up and have their books signed.
DO READERS NEED TO OWN A KINDLE DEVICE
"I had the author's book on my Kindle TO RECEIVE AN AUTHORGRAPH?
and felt awkward since I didn't have any-
No, Authorgraphs are viewable on a wide
thing for him to sign.
variety of platforms. Readers can simply
WHAT IS AN AUTHORGRAPH? enter a regular email address at the time
It's a personal, digital inscription for an e- of their request and they will receive an
book, sent directly from an author to a email with links to download a PDF ver-
reader's digital reading device. sion (viewable in applications like
iBooks) or an AZW version (viewable in
WHAT DOES AN AUTHORGRAPH LOOK LIKE?
all Kindle apps on iPad, iPhone, PC, Mac,
Click for an example etc.) of their Authorgraph.
IS AUTHORGRAPH.COM AFFILIATED WITH AM- IS THE AUTHORGRAPH INSERTED INTO THE E-
AZON? BOOK?

No, Authorgraph.com is not affiliated with No, it is a separate document. This allows
Amazon except that Authorgraph.com a reader to create a "collection" where
does earn an affiliate fee for any books they can keep all of their Authorgraphs
purchased from Amazon.com after click- together.
ing on one of the Amazon links on DO THE READER NEED TO HAVE A KINDLE
Authorgraph.com. VERSION OF MY BOOK TO SIGN UP FOR

WHAT IS AN ASIN? AUTHORGRAPH?

ASIN stands for "Amazon Standard Identi- Yes. Paperback, hardcover, and audio ver-
fication Number." It is 10 characters long sions of books aren't accepted.
and may include both numbers and let- DOES AN AUTHORGRAPH USE MY REAL SIG-
ters. NATURE OR DOES IT JUST PRINT MY NAME IN A
SCRIPT FONT?
HOW DO I FIND THE ASIN FOR MY BOOK?
One of the most distinctive features of
The ASIN for your book is right after 'dp'
Authorgraph.com is the ability to actually
in the URL of your book on Amazon.com.
draw your signature. This signing takes
http://www.amazon.com/dp/0061977969.
place completely in the browser window
Let us say that’s the URL for your book. Then
the ASIN is 0061977969. It is also listed using a mouse (or your finger if you use a
on the details part of the Amazon page. tablet). However, there is also a default
option that allows authors to print their

WRITERS’ TRICKS OF THE TRADE PAGE 21 WINTER 2019


name in a script font if they don't want to IS THERE A COST TO SEND OR RECEIVE AN
use the signing feature. AUTHORGRAPH?

CAN AUTHORGRAPHS BE PERSONALIZED? Requesting, sending and receiving


Authorgraphs are free! However, if a
Yes! Every Authorgraph goes only to the
reader uses Amazon's Personal Document
specific reader that requested it, so an au-
Service to receive the Authorgraph on
thor can write a custom message for each
his/her Kindle then Amazon may charge a
reader. In addition, readers can include a
small delivery fee.
short message to the author in order to
provide a bit more context for personaliz-
ing the Authorgraph.
.

EDITOR'S NOTE: I personally use Authorgraph. Check it out on my website.

WINTER 2019 WRITERS’ TRICKS OF THE TRADE


PAGE 22
WRITERS TRICKS OF THE TRADE RADIO
Writers tricks of the trade radio is no longer in production, but
you can still listen to these informative episodes

— CLICK HERE FOR LINKS TO ALL OF THE SHOWS

EPISODE 1 EPISODE 2
RIVET YOUR READER CREATING DYNAMIC DIALOGUE
GUEST: Mike Dennis

EPISODE 3 EPISODE 4
WRITING WITH A PARTNER HOLIDAY THEMED BOOKS & STORIES
GUEST: Phyllice Bradner

EPISODE 5 EPISODE 6
HOW TO PROMOTE FRUGALLY TURN LIFE EXPERIENCES INTO A
GUEST: Carolyn Howard Johnson COMPELLING MEMOIR
GUEST: Jon D’Amore

EPISODE 7 EPISODE 8
THE IMPORTANCE OF WRITERS RIVET YOUR READER-REBROADCAST
GROUPS AND CONFERENCES
GUEST: Tony Todaro

EPISODE 9 EPISODE 10
EDIT YOUR WAY TO PUBLICATION FROM IDEA TO BOOK
GUEST: Cindy Davis GUEST: Darrah Whitaker

EPISODE 11 EPISODE 12
EXPERIENCES AND EMOTIONS F IS FOR FACTS

EPISODE 13 EPISODE 14
MARKETING YOUR SELF PUBLISHED USING CHARACTER’S PROFESSIONS
BOOK IN UNUSUAL WAYS
GUEST: Jon D’Amore

EPISODE 15 EPISODE 16
DON'T GET STUCK IN A WHO IS YOUR IDEAL FIRST READER?
WRITER'S RUT

WRITERS’ TRICKS OF THE TRADE PAGE 23 WINTER 2019


REVIEWS BY MARTHA -
MARTHA CHEVES RESIDENT REVIEWER

THE MYSTERY OF THE LOST AVENGER


Author: Linda Maria Frank
Pages: 194 pages
Publication Date: June 15, 2016
Publisher: Archway Publishing
Language: English
ASIN: B0794TWW5Y, ISBN: 978-1480831698
Martha Cheves always manages to find books that may have been out
for a while, some by self-published authors, but always an honest re-
view. Perhaps you will find a gem you wouldn’t have found without
Martha. She says this book is more of a YA book, but still enjoyable.
A good book is a good book and the fact that time passed does not af-
fect its appeal

Charlotte Wheeler suspected that sab- was given to another WASP to deliver.
otage was happening at the Grumman Her name was Brenda McPhee and she
plant. She was able to figure out the never made it to her destination. Her
faulty hinges for the Avenger's bomb bay plane disappeared.
doors were being randomly replaced for
the good hinges, by someone who had ac- Many years later Annie, who is Char-
cess to the plant. Charlotte and her bud- lotte's great grand-daughter, finds out
dies checked all the planes and prevented that the plane has been found and there
the faulty parts from being switched. was a letter inside that was written by
They did their best to stop the saboteur, Charlotte. Through further research and
things got rough and Charlotte was at- the help of her boyfriend Ty, Annie de-
tacked one night while she was waiting to cides to solve the mystery of the downed
catch him in the act. plane and who the saboteur was.

Charlotte Wheeler was a WASP during As with all of the Annie Tillery Myster-
WWII. She not only helped build the ies, this one kept my interest. It not only
planes, she also flew them to their desti- had some history, it also had a great mys-
nation where they were turned over to tery and of course a ghost. Looking for-
the fighting pilots. She was scheduled to ward to reading the next in this series.
fly one of the bombers out but noticed a
problem with the bomb bay doors. While
she went to check on something the plane

WINTER 2019 WRITERS’ TRICKS OF THE TRADE


PAGE 24
Martha is our resident reviewer. Visit her
websites for more reviews and recipes. ABOUT LINDA MARIA FRANK
http://marthaskitchenkorner.blogspot.com As a teacher of forensic science for al-
(A Book and a Dish) most 20 years, Linda Maria Frank decided
http://stirlaughrepeat.blogspot.com (Main to create mysteries around the science she
Site)
found most interesting with a smart, edgy,
http://marthaatkitchenkorner.blogspot.co
young female detective to solve the cases.
m (Martha's Kitchen Korner)
http://marthasrecipecabinet.blogspot.com The result was Annie Tillery. She calls her
(Martha's Recipe Cabinet) books "Nancy Drew meets CSI". They cap-
http://stirlaughrepeatcookbook.blogspot.co ture, not only her love of mystery and sci-
m (Cookbook Site) ence, but things she finds most exciting in
life; sailing, falling in love, and a fascina-
tion with New York City. She lives on Long
Island and works hard to promote her
books.

WRITERS’ TRICKS OF THE TRADE PAGE 25 WINTER 2019


G IS FOR GETTING UNSTUCK
MORGAN ST. JAMES
EXCERPT FROM THE WRITERS TRICKS OF THE TRADE BOOK

This is a new year. But are you stuck in a rut doing the same old things you have al-
ways done? Habit can be your worst enemy, so make a resolution to try some new
things. Back when I was an interior designer, my partner and I entered into a project
with another designer. She had standard treatments she did for every job, never trying
anything different. When we asked why she kept repeating herself, she answered,
“What else?”

I t doesn’t matter if you write fiction,


nonfiction or poetry—writers pretty
much base everything upon their own
imagination and experiences. In Chapter 8
Do you take the same route from place
to place whenever you travel between
certain destinations? Do you have favorite
restaurants and limit yourself to what you
we discussed how our imagination is trig- know and love on their menu? Is there a
gered by things we’ve seen, learned or style that defines you? Do you only read
actually lived through. In the beginning, favorite authors?
we have a basket full of ideas just waiting The list could go on and on. We do
to be developed, but eventually we work these things because it’s comfortable.
our way through most of them. Then Most people like certain places and foods,
what? How to come up with fresh scenar- or feel good in certain types of clothes or
ios and characters? surroundings.
Are you a creature of habit?

WINTER 2019 WRITERS’ TRICKS OF THE TRADE


PAGE 26
Imagine you’re writing a scene and the discover a new favorite food as a bonus.
location is so familiar you can navigate it Do you always dress in muted tones?
with your eyes closed. You drive the same Try adding some vibrant colors and think
route every time so it’s easy to describe about how you feel when you look at
where your characters are. Ah, but now yourself in the mirror. Again, those are
you have a problem. You’ve determined feelings you can transfer to your charac-
that the series will always take place ters.
within these boundaries, and fans of your Read books or see movies in different
series know it almost as well as you do. genres
That’s becoming boring because nothing I write mysteries and I love reading
unexpected is left. them, so most of the books I read are
Break the mold some form of mystery. I did a Spotlight
It’s time to experience new things so interview with author Jeri Westerson
you can write about them. That doesn’t when I was writing the columns for exam-
mean you have to leave your comfort iner.com. She writes medieval noir mys-
zone or take an ocean voyage. This solu- teries. Sound intriguing? It did to me. It’s
tion for gathering a wealth of creative in- almost as though she created a subgenre
formation is so easy it’s one of those of her own, or at least one I hadn’t heard
things we don’t even have to give great of. I read The Demon’s Parchment because
thought to. For the next five times, take a it sounded fascinating. Will I try to write
different route. It doesn’t matter if it takes historical mysteries after reading it? Ab-
a little longer. In fact, it’s better if it winds solutely not—it’s not my thing. But I’ll
through unfamiliar territory. Observe stow some of the details in my memory
everything with a writer’s eye during because maybe in a future book one of my
each of these trips. This gives you a whole characters will be a history buff, or per-
new arsenal of ideas to use while staying haps something they read in a historical
in the same neighborhood. mystery triggers suspicion about some-
Apply the same change of scene to thing happening in modern times. You
food, clothes, and books as well as any never know how you can use information
other facet of your writing you want to once you’ve absorbed it. It helps to keep a
spice up. If you’re basically a plain food file of details like that for easy reference.
person, what about trying the Indian or Talk to strangers
Thai restaurant down the street from the That doesn’t mean you should flit
one you always go to by habit? Even if you around scouting up people on the street
don’t like the food, now your protagonist to talk to. But don’t be shy about making
knows what it tastes like. You’ve experi- contact with the person sitting next to
enced the ambiance of the restaurant, the you in a restaurant, on a plane, or in a
servers, the aromas—everything you movie waiting for the show to start.
need to create a scene with a fresh per- Once a long time ago, my brakes gave
spective. And, who knows, maybe you will out on a new car and I rear ended the car

WRITERS’ TRICKS OF THE TRADE PAGE 27 WINTER 2019


in front of me through no fault of my own. was called the “father of the seven-string
Accidents like that often result in shout- guitar.”
ing matches. Instead of that happening, She would make a great character.
the couple in the other car understood it Perhaps one day a scene will appear in
wasn’t my fault when I explained the pe- one of my books or stories where parties
dal went to the floor and nothing hap- to a fender bender become friends and
pened. As we talked we discovered we the person who got hit is a person like
liked each other and became friends as a her.
result of the accident. The friendship last- Keep your ideas fresh without leaving
ed for nearly five years. They were people your own back yard.
I wouldn’t have normally met, but I loved Actually make a list of things you do
hearing about their life and they were by rote or routes you take without think-
anxious to know about mine. ing. Then make a list of things you can do
It turned out her father was a famous that will broaden your horizons by just
musician, named George Van Epps who trying something new.

EXERCISE
Actually make a list of things you do by rote or routes you take without thinking. Then make a
list of things you can do that will broaden your horizons by just trying something new.

Excerpted from the book Writers Tricks of the Trade

BOOKS BY MORGAN ST. JAMES

WINTER 2019 WRITERS’ TRICKS OF THE TRADE


PAGE 28
MY LIFE AS A DISABLED WRITER
ERIKA
ABBOTT
EDITORS NOTE: I first met Erika Abbot when she attended a workshop I
presented in Los Angeles. When I offered her my hand for a handshake,
she extended her left hand and said, “I’m disabled.” I was very im-
pressed with this young lady and wanted to interview her for Writers
Tricks of the Trade. When I received her information, I decided to publish it just as it was
written. Erika takes you inside the life of a writer with Cerebral Palsy—a writer who does
not let CP define her or stop her from reaching her goals.

I
don’t remember how old I was when that need wouldn’t even come until col-
first started writing. Honestly, I can’t lege.
remember a time when I wasn’t. I I was always on the search for words.
have always called myself a strategic That’s one of the many reasons I remem-
writer. Part of that, I’m sure has to do ber feeling safest when my teachers
with the fact that I’m learning disabled, forced us to write in a journal for ten
could never speak as quickly as the other minutes a day in class. No grades, just us
children in the class. writing about whatever we wanted.
The other reason I’m sure had some- One day I was Dear Abby, the next I
thing to do with my Epilepsy. The very was a screenwriter. As a girl, I was ex-
hours I was supposed to be awake, I felt tremely lucky. I had many people in my
like a zombie. One of the aspects that I life who helped me realize what “story-
always loved about writing was that I telling” was. My mother, the actress, my
could be whoever I wanted. I wasn’t the aunt, the film editor, my father the story-
“girl who had no country.” teller in our family, all showed me differ-
As a girl growing up in a small town of ent ways of “writing”. I’m not sure that it
less than 40,000, I ended up founding and ever entered my consciousness, since this
being the princess of the disabled posse. was the family I grew up in. I simply
The reason I was qualified was that I was thought “Oh, this is how everyone learns
minimally disabled. I was born with cere- about writing.” Obviously, I didn’t know
bral palsy—ok, everyone, close your eyes. how wrong I was until I entered college.
Imagine that you can only use your left It was clear that my thinking, at least
hand when typing. You have no aid from to me, was always “just a little bit outside
your right hand, because it’s in a fist. the box.” That probably has something to
That’s exactly the way I’ve typed for do with the fact that I’m learning disa-
my entire life. Being a Generation X-er, bled; so could never organize my

WRITERS’ TRICKS OF THE TRADE PAGE 29 WINTER 2019


thoughts on a page very well. In fact, had young families, developed a fast
when I was in high school, I had a teacher friendship. It was her friendship with
say something to the effect of “you’ll nev- Olympia over the years, which then al-
er be a writer.” Well, that’s all I needed to lowed me to ask if Olympia might be in-
hear. Challenge me to something, and I’ll terested in giving me a quote for the book.
always rise to the occasion. “Send me ten poems, I’ll send them to
My first successful piece was a poem Olympia.” My mother replied. Two weeks
called “Holocaust” published in the Los later, Olympia Dukakis sent an email to
Angeles Valley College literary magazine my mother, asking if I would send her the
called Manuscript. manuscript for my book.
Fast forward a few years later, I was a YES! A home run even Joe DiMaggio
Child Development Major at California himself couldn’t have delivered.
State University of Northridge; a real “po- Next, I spoke to my godfather, Joel
etry nerd.” In fact, my friends called me Zwick. I knew that Joel had directed Tom
the “Jewish Maya Angelou.” A big compli- Hanks in his Bosom Buddies days. Fur-
ment to both of us. thermore, Joel had been allowed to make
Over the next ten years, I continued to the call to Tom Hanks to tell him: “You’re
experiment with writing, while continu- hired!”
ing to “find my voice.” I tried my hand at Joel and Tom have had a relationship
fantasy, prose. The interesting aspect was, ever since then.
whatever I wrote, always seemed to have Fast forward thirty years to the film,
to have a poetic flavor to them. My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Joel was di-
My next success came from a family recting. Who was producing? You guessed
friend a few years later, Ron Mclarty. I it. None other than his good friend, Tom.
sent Ron the autobiographical poetic ver- So, I asked Joel, “You don’t suppose
sion of my life, called PORGY’S REVENGE, there’s any chance that Tom Hanks would
which came from Broadway’s “Porgy and give me a quote, right?”
Bess.” “Send me eight poems. I’ll send them
Ron showed it to his publisher, who to Tom.” Another two weeks went by, and
asked if I’d been published yet. “Not yet.” I I got the quote from Tom Hanks.
said. Okay. Two home runs in a row? WOW!
“I like it.” Ron’s publisher said to me. Even the Dodgers couldn’t pull that one
“She just has to be published first.” Yes! off!
Finally, in 2015, I was published by One of my favorite poems from the
Archway Publishing (the sister company to book is a poem called I am Your.
Simon &Schuster). When the time came for Here’s an excerpt:
the back content, I suddenly realized who I I
could ask for quotes. My mother, actress Am
Annie Abbott worked with Olympia Duka- Your
kis at the Whole Theatre Company. Both Crippled

WINTER 2019 WRITERS’ TRICKS OF THE TRADE


PAGE 30
Poet, And
But Painter,
I Full
Am Of
Not Extravagant
Browning. Passages….
I
Am
Your
Soothsayer

Erika Abbott is a native of Manhattan, raised in Montclair, New Jersey. She has been recognized
by Beyond Baroque as one of the up and coming poets in Southern California, and obtained her
BA in Literature from the University of Judaism.

Erika Abbott
Recipient of 2016 Bookvana.com Award for PORGY'S REVENGE
amazon.com/author.erikaabbott

WRITERS’ TRICKS OF THE TRADE PAGE 31 WINTER 2019


Hollywood Gets Book Publishing
Wrong
MORGAN ST. JAMES

A SCENE FROM “YOUNGER,” STARRING SUTTON FOSTER, LEFT. CREDITTV LAND

Anyone in our industry from authors to editors to publishers often let out a little groan when watching
how Hollywood depicts book publishing. It may have been all limos and assistants and first class hotel
accommodations for a book tour set up by the publisher’s publicist years ago, but for most that isn’t the
current situation.
Of course, that doesn’t make for a glamorous depiction of our chosen field on the big or small (TV)
screen, so pile on the schmaltz, the mansions and the staff. Some “A-Listers” still enjoy that life but for
most of us that isn’t the case at all.
Recently I came across a New York Times essay by Sloane Crosley on just that topic entitled How Hol-
lywood Gets the Publishing Industry Wrong
Here are a few excerpts and if you want to read the full article, go to
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/01/books/review/hollywood-publishing-industry-younger.html

HOW A PUBLISHING HOUSE IS DEPICTED IN THE desk from “the London lit fair,” which
SERIES “YOUNGER” absolutely no one calls it. As the seasons
unfurl, the nonsense piles up: Someone
“In the charming series “Younger,”
from publicity asks what “PEN” stands
Miriam Shor plays Diana Trout, the
for; editors have publicists; publishing
head of marketing at a boutique publish-
houses sell books to other publishing
ing house. Diana has an award on her

WINTER 2019 WRITERS’ TRICKS OF THE TRADE


PAGE 32
houses; authors take editors with them Scoundrel” is a rare bird. The closest
when they switch publishers; a small approximation of it I’ve seen is “Wolf”
company with a “Game of Thrones”- (1994), a campy film in which an editor,
level franchise is somehow in constant played by Jack Nicholson, and a market-
danger of bankruptcy; and members of ing director, played by James Spader,
the editorial staff spew impossible turn into werewolves as Michelle Pfeiffer
commands like “We’re on tight launch looks on, blondly. “Wolf” does wonders
for the fall … so I will need marketing with the publishing world before it starts
and cover artwork by the end of this howling at the moon.
week.” Have these people met a manag-
ing editor? They’d be lucky to walk away WRONG IMPRESSION
with some of their fingers.” Unfortunately, so many newbies see
these movies and head into writing their
book starry-eyed. It will be a best-seller at
the top of the New York Times best seller
list, people will line up to book them for a
signing and advance and royalty checks
will be six figures.
Then the alarm clock rings and they
wake up.
Being an author, editor or publisher
takes lots of work and faith. Big successes
are still possible, but you have to learn
NOËL COWARD AND JULIE HAYDON IN your craft and work at it. Publishers don’t
“THE SCOUNDREL.”CREDITPARAMOUNT offer many of the perks they used to, but
even back in the day most movies did not
DO THEY COME CLOSE TO REALISM? get it right.
Few movies really succeed as both
realism and entertainment. One is “The
Scoundrel,” starring Noël Coward as a
pretentious publisher. It’s filled with
jabs like “I refuse to make money im-
proving people’s morals, it’s a vulgar
way to swindle the public,” and “This
anteroom is fairly quivering with out-
raged geniuses.” But it was released in
1935. And while plenty of movies and
shows since have done well by the actual
writing life (“The Ghost Writer,” “Won-
der Boys,” “Bored to Death”), “The

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