I’m still not convinced that eBooks are as successful literary devices as print books are, or even that they have as great potential. (They have other potential – speed and info abundance and portability – but they fall short, I believe, in pure storytelling impact.) Compare how differently each stimulates the use of brain, especially the creative imaginations of the readers. In children’s books, an example is the book by Brian Selznick, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, winner of a 2008 Caldecott Medal. (It led, of course, to the movie Hugo, which then built its own imaginative story-rich world appropriate to that movie medium.) ForRead More →

Here’s a link to a recent review by Moira Allen, editor of Writing-World.com, of How To Write Your Best Story. Here’s a bit of it: What [Martin] succeeds in doing, admirably, is not only describing some of the elements of good storytelling, but describing them in such a way as to model good storytelling in the very act of explaining it. In short, this book is wonderfully readable. I have stacks of books on my shelf, waiting to be read – but when I picked up this one I wanted to keep going until I finished it. You might want to sign-up for Writing-World.com’s excellentRead More →

Some might disparage the memoir as unverifiable history – perhaps inflated or poorly remembered facts from the past. Memory may indeed be seen by historians or journalists as somewhat inferior, flawed, imperfect history. But as a folklorist and a book editor (currently editing several memoirs), I want to encourage you to consider what memoirs do well . . . and why they are so popular and powerful. The memoir is a literary form that blends documentary first-person history, mixed to some degree with (consciously or not) selective memory and value-rich storytelling. Yes, memoirs are, in part, documentary history, albeit from one person’s perspective. Events areRead More →

No, I don’t hate the idea of a Kindle, or a Nook, or a Sony Reader, or any other e-book readers out there. And I’m not a card-carrying Luddite. (That’s a trick question: Luddites wouldn’t carry a printed card, would they?) In fact, I’ll probably publish a title or two in 2010 in e-book editions (alongside hard-copy editions in print). But . . . there are a few things about the hoopla surrounding e-book readers that underwhelm me, as a practical Midwesterner. First and foremost, it’s hype to extol this format as “the future of the book.” And to lament the possible demise of theRead More →

When I was a kid, maybe 3rd grade, we lived for a brief while on the outskirts of Evansville, Indiana. I remember two scary things about that home. One was a deserted house I had to walk past to get to the corner where the school bus stopped. It was the kind of empty place you’d imagine a witch might live in. The house wasn’t run down, just a little disheveled. The grass was seldom well-cut, nor was it overgrown. It was just an oddly quiet place. And I remember the eternity it took to walk past that house, not daring to slow down orRead More →

“I write to relive the itch in my head.” So said American fantasy author N.D. Wilson, author of Dandelion Fire and 100 Cupboards, a wonderful emerging trilogy (set in Kansas) for young readers (and up!) who enjoy Harry Potter and the great works of C.S. Lewis and Tolkien. I have to admit, that “itch in the head” thing comes closest to describing why I write. I just wanted to mention that my newest book, A Guide to Fantasy Literature, is in print. For more, visit my Fantasy Literature website, or the book’s blog, Creeping Past Dragons, to celebrate fantasy storytelling in all its diverse forms,Read More →

I love sense of place! As a strong advocate of sense of place, in literature and real life, I recommend stories well rooted in a specific site or region . . . it will make your stories more compelling. However, I find this a bit disturbing: “Project Bookmark Canada Puts Stories in Our Spaces” On Thursday, April 23, 2009, Mayor David Miller and author Michael Ondaatje will be at Toronto’s Bloor Street Viaduct to launch Project Bookmark Canada, a national initiative to bring the imagined landscapes of stories and poems into our physical spaces. Mayor Miller and Mr. Ondaatje will unveil a plaque (or “Bookmark”)Read More →

It’s time to create a thread of several posts with some advice on self-publishing. I’m generally not a big fan of it as an option. It’s just not helpful for most writers. When you hear success stories . . . the operative phrase that should pop into your mind: your actual results may vary! And too many self-published works are, frankly, sub-par in quality and give a bad rap to the field. Still, I thought I’d start with a more positive perspective! Here’s a link to a blog piece that speaks to the wondrous serendipity of self-publishing. It’s an odd little story of a poetryRead More →

Quick Note: ForeWord Magazine has announced the 2008 finalists in their Book of the Year Awards contest, an annual recognition program for the best of indie-press books. Hey, March is Small Press Month! I know you’re all out celebrating wildly. Here in Milwaukee, the festivities reach their crescendo on March 17 (which just happens to be St. Patrick’s Day). Lots of drinking and carousing, all to celebrate indie presses. Or something. Anyhow, the ForeWord awards is a discriminating program, IMHO (disclaimer: I’m a past winner for The New Writer’s Handbook), and it’s worth checking out most of these small but diligent small houses. It alsoRead More →

I’m reviewing my library of hundreds of books of writing advice for top recommendations for your library. Here’s my take on essential works, IMHO, for writers. (Full list on a permanent page of this blog.) I’ll tell why I think a particular book makes the top list. Here’s the second (in no particular order) likely candidate: A Writer’s Coach: The Complete Guide to Writing Strategies that Work by Jack Hart (2006) [Note: the hardcover edition had a slightly different subtitle.] To order from Amazon.com, click here. Focus: Nonfiction (Journalism) Audience: Writers at all levels Why I’m recommending this: I learn something every time I pickRead More →

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