Stephen King is pretty freakin cool…

 

stephen king book

So I recently read Stephen King’s memoir on writing (Stephen King/On Writing, A Memoir of the Craft). He has always been an author that’s intrigued me and after reading this book he does even more.

He’s an author of more than 50 books and all of them worldwide bestsellers. Not many authors can claim that. I thought that I would share a few things he said that spoke to me in his memoir. May I strongly suggest also, whether you’re a writer or just a fan to go pick this book up or order it online. It’s a must have.

From the King himself:

“Writing is a lonely job. Having someone who believes in you makes a lot of difference. They don’t have to make speeches. Just believing is usually enough.”

Although you’re the creator of your characters, they can actually teach you some unexpected things along the way. According to Stephen, Carrie White, his main character in the book, Carrie, was the one character that taught him things no other did.

“The most important is that the writer’s original perception of a character or characters may be as erroneous as the reader’s. Running a close second was the realization that stopping a piece of work just because it’s hard, either emotionally or imaginatively, is a bad idea. Sometimes you have to go on when you don’t feel like it, and sometimes you’re doing good work when it feels like all you’re managing is to shovel shit from a shitting position.”  

“-…but I think you will find that, if you continue to write fiction, every character you create is partly you.”

“And if you do your job, your characters will come to life and start doing stuff on their own.”

Everything matters. Even where you place your writing desk.

“It starts with this: put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn’t in the middle of the room. Life isn’t a support-system for art. It’s the other way around.”

You have the honor of writing a book, which is what Mr. King calls, “uniquely portable magic.” However, that comes with a seriousness of the responsibility it holds.

“Come to it any way but lightly. Let me say it again; you must not come lightly to a blank page.” 

“-it’s writing, damn it, not washing the car or putting on eyeliner. If you can take it seriously, we can do business. If you can’t or won’t, it’s time for you to close the book and do something else.”

Words, Tense, Averbs…

“Remember that the basic rule of vocabulary is use the first word that comes to your mind, if it is appropriate and colorful.”

“The word is only a representation of the meaning; even at its best, writing almost always falls short of the full meaning.”

“You should avoid passive tense.”

“The adverb is not your friend.”

Whether you’re a first time author or you’ve written a million books, there is still a small steady fear that whatever your writing is crap and you had no business being an author in the first place. That’s okay. Just don’t let it consume you the writing will be bad if it even gets written at all.

“I’m convinced that fear is the root of most bad writing.”

“Good writing is often about letting go of fear and affectation. Affectation itself, beginning with the need to define some sorts of writing as “good” and other sorts as “bad”, is fearful behavior. Good writing is also about making good choices when it comes to picking the tools you plan to work with.”

One of your must-have tools…Reading. You MUST read…without ceasing. Second, write. Anything…everything…just write.

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”

“You cannot hope to sweep someone else away by the force of your writing until it has been done to you.”

“We also read in order to measure ourselves against the good and the great, to get a sense of all that can be done. And we read in order to experience the different styles.”

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that. Reading is the creative center of a writer’s life.”

“The real importance of reading is that it creates an ease and intimacy with the process of writing; one comes to the country of the writer with one’s papers and identification pretty much in order. Constant reading will pull you into a place (a mind-set, if you like that phrase) where you can write eagerly and without self-consciousness. It also offers you a constantly growing knowledge of what has been done and what hasn’t, what is trite and what is fresh, what works and what just lies there dying (or dead) on the page. The more you read, the less apt you are to make a fool of yourself with your pen or word processor”

“Stories are relics, part of an undiscovered pre-existing world.”

Keep it fresh in your mind. Yes, some of us have other jobs, families, or responsibilities, but you MUST forge through with your writing and keep it going.

“Once I start work on a project, I don’t stop and I don’t slow down unless I absolutely have to. If I don’t write every day, the characters begin to stale off in my mind–they begin to seem like characters instead of real people. The tale’s narrative cutting edge starts to rust and I begin to lose my hold on the story’s plot and pace. Worst of all, the excitement of spinning something new begins to fade. The work starts to feel like work, and for most writers that is the smooch of death. Writing is at its best–always, always, always–when it is a kind of inspired play for the writer. I can write in cold blood if I have to, but I like it best when it’s fresh and almost too hot to handle.”

“For any writer, but for the beginning writer in particular, it’s wise to eliminate every possible distraction.”

“I am, after all, not just the novel’s creator but its first reader.”

Description is the essence for your reader. That skill does not come overnight to a writer.

“Description is what makes the reader a sensory participant in the story. Good description is a learned skill, one of the prime reasons why you cannot succeed unless you read a lot and write a lot.”

“Description begins with visualization of what it is you want the reader to experience. It ends with your translating what you see in your mind into words on the page.”

“If you want to be a successful writer, you must be able to describe it, and in a way that will cause your reader to prickle with recognition.”

“The key to good description begins with clear seeing and ends with clear writing, the kind of writing that employs fresh images and simple vocabulary.”

“Practice the art, always reminding yourself that your job is to say what you see, and then to get on with your story.”

Dialogue…truth…

“As with all other aspects of fiction, the key to writing good dialogue is honesty. And if you are honest about the words coming out of your character’s mouths, you’ll find that you’ve let yourself in for a fair amount of criticism.”

“You must tell the truth if your dialogue is to have the resonance and realism that Hart’s War, good story though it is, so sadly lacks–and that holds true all the way down to what folks say when they hit their thumb with a hammer. If you substitute “Oh sugar!” for “Oh shit!” because you’re thinking about the Legion of Decency, you are breaking the unspoken contract that exists between writer and reader–your promise to express the truth of how people act and talk through the medium of a made-up story.”

“Everything I’ve said about dialogue applies to building characters in fiction. The job boils down to two things: paying attention to how real people around you behave and then telling the truth about what you see.”

1st drafts…2nd drafts…and self doubt…

“I don’t believe a story or novel should be allowed outside the door of your study or writing room unless you feel confident that it’s reasonably reader-friendly.”

“With the door shut, downloading what’s in my head directly to the page, I write as fast as I can and still remain comfortable. Writing fiction, especially a long work of fiction, can be a difficult, lonely job; it’s like crossing the Atlantic Ocean in a bathtub. There’s plenty of opportunity for self-doubt. If I write rapidly, putting down my story exactly as it comes to my mind, only looking back to check the names of characters and the relevant parts of their back stories, I find that I can keep up with my original enthusiasm and at the same time outrun the self-doubt that’s always waiting to settle in.”

For all writers, the act of writing is something extraordinary, a feat that cannot be put into exact words, a window that opens to endless possibilities if they can imagine it…

“Writing is not life, but I think that sometimes it can be a way back to life.”

“The scariest moment is always just before you start. After that, things can only get better.”

“Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy.”

“Writing is magic, as much as the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink. Drink up and be filled.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9 Things you may not have known about J.R.R. Tolkien…

JRR

Happy Friday!! In honor of Fun Fact Friday, I thought I would end our week with a few little facts about one of my FAVORITE authors of all times, and perhaps yours too!!!

Who doesn’t love Lord of the Rings!?! Who isn’t just mesmerized by the depth of J.R.R. Tolkien’s writing endeavors? He would definitely be on my list of top people to meet if he were still alive. Just awesomeness…

Anyway, here’s the article I found by Jason Todd. Enjoy!!


In honor of the The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, here are nine things about John Ronald Reuel Tolkien and his work that you might not have known.

He did not write The Hobbit for children

“I am not specially interested in children, and certainly not in writing for them: i.e. in addressing directly and expressly those who cannot understand adult language,” he wrote in a letter. The Hobbit reads like a children’s story because Tolkien had children of his own and was in the regular habit of making up stories for them. Nevertheless, he did not believe in writing down to anyone, especially to children. He took them seriously, even if they were not his main audience.

Though he was a voracious reader, he rarely read the same book twice

In An Experiment in Literary Criticism, C.S. Lewis said that a mark of the unliterary was that they rarely read the same book twice, and that was an accurate definition for Tolkien. “Nothing, not even a (possible) deeper appreciation, for me replaces the bloom on a book, the freshness of the unread,” he wrote. “Still, what we read and when goes, like the people we meet, by ‘fate.’”

He invented more than 14 languages

There’s debate over exactly how many languages Tolkien invented, but he was certainly a lover of languages and started inventing his own at a young age. He used some of his invented languages in his writing, and he also mastered and wrote in extinct languages such as Gothic and Medieval Welsh.

His faith unconsciously seeped into his writing

The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work; unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision,” he wrote. “That is why I have not put in, or have cut out, practically all references to anything like ‘religion,’ to cults or practices, in the imaginary world. For the religious element is absorbed into the story and the symbolism.”

In the mind of his creator, Sam Gamgee was the real hero of The Lord of the Rings

“I think the simple ‘rustic’ love of Sam and his Rosie (nowhere elaborated) is absolutely essential to the study of his (the chief hero’s) character, and to the theme of the relation of ordinary life (breathing, eating, working, begetting) and quests, sacrifice, causes, and the ‘longing for Elves’, and sheer beauty.” If you want to understand the books, look at how Sam loves his wife.

He would have felt right at home in the Shire

Perhaps the writer created Hobbits a bit in his own image. “I am in fact a Hobbit (in all but size). I like gardens, trees, and unmechanized farmlands; I smoke a pipe, and like good plain food (unrefrigerated), but detest French cooking; I like, and even dare to wear in these dull days, ornamental waistcoats. I am fond of mushrooms (out of a field); have a very simple sense of humour (which even my appreciative critics find tiresome); I go to bed late and get up late (when possible). I do not travel much.”

He was a WWI veteran

Tolkien served as an officer in the Battle of Somme, but eventually had to return home when he developed a chronic fever. Several of his closest friends died in the war.

He had a very simple view of the meaning of life

“It may be said that the chief purpose of life, for any one of us, is to increase according to our capacity our knowledge of God by all the means we have, and to be moved by it to praise and thanks.”

His fictional world and his real life often intertwined.

In The Silmarillion, Tolkien wrote a story about Beren, a mortal man, and Lúthien Tinúviel, an immortal elf maiden. Lúthien gave up her immortality to marry Beren. Two months after the death of his wife, Edith, Tolkien wrote, “I met the Lúthien Tinúviel of my own personal ‘romance’ with her long dark hair, fair face and starry eyes, and beautyiful voice. And in 1934 she was still with me, and her beautiful children. But now she has gone before Beren, leaving him indeed one-handed.” Tolkien and Edith are buried side-by-side. Below their names on their gravestone are written “Lúthien” and “Beren.”

In 1944, Tolkien’s son, Christopher, was having a rough time in camp with the army. His father wrote the following encouragement, “Well, there you are: a hobbit amongst the Urukhai. Keep up your hobbitry in heart, and think that all stories feel like that when you are in them. You are inside a very great story!”

A majority of the quotes from this article are taken from The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, edited by Humphrey Carpenter with the assistance of Christopher Tolkien.


Happy Friday Ya’ll!! I challenge ya’ll to get some writing done this weekend!!! I know I need to!

Hot Summer Fun with the Animals!

If any of you are from the South, then you know how blistering hot its been the last month. I mean, like, I literally sweat walking from my car to the entrance of the grocery store. This summer in particular, I don’t think it matters where you are. It’s HOT! Now, imagine putting on a fur coat as you walked into the store. I wouldn’t make it.

If you’ve read any of my blogs, you’ve probably figured out that I love writing, reading, and animals. I thought since most of us have the Monday Blues, I would mix it up a bit, and show you some fun ways our wonderful furry creatures stay cool in the summer. Enjoy!!

Here, polar bear Yoghi wrestles an ice cake at Hellabrunn Zoo in Munich, Germany, on July 1.

A white tiger enjoys a frozen meal at Dusit Zoo, known as Khao Din, in Bangkok on April 22. Hot weather come early to Thailand in this year, with averages of nearly 105 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degree Celsius) in most areas.
A worker splashes water on elephants to cool them off at the Karachi Zoo, in Pakistan, on June 24. Caretakers at Karachi’s zoo were working to keep animals cool during a deadly heatwave insouthern Pakistan. The human toll from four days of sweltering conditions rose into the thousands. Large animals — including elephants from Tanzania, white lions, and tigers from Bengal — have been deeply distressed due to the “unbearable” heat, said Tazeem Naqvi, a director at the facility.
A giraffe gets a cold shower in Ouwehands Dierenpark (Ouwehands Zoo) in Rhenen, Netherlands, on June 30. The animals in the zoo get regular refreshments when temperatures soar into the 80s.
 A tiger beats the heat by embracing a large lump of ice at the Karachi Zoo on June 24.
 A mandrill studies its iced fruit in Ouwehands Dierenpark (Ouwehands Zoo) on June 30.
A chimp splashes to cool off at the Karachi Zoo as temperatures soared toward 105 degrees F.
monkeys drinking water
Monkeys drink and play in tap water at the Wulongkou resort in China.
gray hanuman langur eating block of ice and frozen fruit
There’s nothing like a cold, fruity treat on a hot summer day. This gray hanuman langur certainly seems to be enjoying the fruit-filled “ice cream bomb” given to him by zookeepers at the zoo in Hanover, Germany.
panda bear playing with large block of ice
A panda at the Wuhan Zoo in China keeps cool as it rolls around with a large block of ice.
monkey eating watermelon
 Nothing says summer like a juicy slice of watermelon. This snub-nosed monkey at the Shaanxi Wild Animals Rescue Center in China digs into a piece of fresh fruit and enjoys the center’s air conditioning.
gorilla eating popsicle
 Everyone loves a popsicle! Effie, a female western lowland gorilla at the London Zoo, indulges in a fruit-flavored ice block.
lemurs licking watermelon
Three ring-tailed lemurs lick the juice from a piece of watermelon at Hangzhou Safari Park in China.
monkey drinking from water bottle
 A macaque monkey raises a toast to summer as he takes a sip of a plum-favored drink at a zoo in Tianjin, China.
hippo being fed watermelon
A zookeeper at a Chinese zoo hand feeds a hippo an entire chilled watermelon to help cool it down. That’s one pampered hippo!
Hoped ya’ll enjoyed my little photo gallery! Stay cool everyone! Happy Writing Ya’ll!

Did you know? Reading is Important!

Happy Friday Everyone!

I know we talk mostly about writing on my blog, but there’s actually something even more important than that. GASP!!! I know, I know, how could I possibly utter those words? NOTHING is more important than writing, right? Well…how about the very reason we write? The purpose of why we spill words onto the page…is to read.

Reading is so important, no matter what stage of life you’re in, or so I believe anyways. Here is a small article I found with some reading facts you might find interesting.

There is overwhelming evidence that literacy has a significant relationship to people’s life chances. A person with poor literacy is more likely to live in a non-working household, live in overcrowded housing and is less likely to vote.

It is vital that children enjoy reading – motivation is essential for acquiring literacy skills. Reading for pleasure is more important than either wealth or social class as an indicator of success at school.

Young people’s reading and literacy

There are approximately 23.3% young people aged under 18 in the US today.

  • In October 2013, 16 to 24 year olds came 22nd out of 24 countries measured for literacy levels by the OECD.
  • 46% of 16 to 24 year olds don’t read for pleasure.
  • More young people volunteer than any age group, in fact 40% of all young people volunteer. Despite this, only 12% of media stories about young people are positive, almost half the articles about young people are crime related and only one in ten stories about young people actually bothers to quote a young person.
  • The UK has the lowest child wellbeing of all UN countries surveyed in 2011, below Hungary, Poland, the US and virtually every European or western nation.
  • 15.9% of all 16- to 24-year-olds in England are not in education, employment or training.
  • Reading books is the only out-of-school activity for 16-year-olds demonstrably linked to securing managerial or professional jobs.
  • 70% of pupils permanently excluded from school have difficulties in basic literacy skills.

Adults’ reading and literacy

There are still far too many people whose poor basic skills put them at a huge disadvantage in modern society.

 

  • 35% of adults don’t read for pleasure.
  • 42% of men don’t read for pleasure.
  • 60% of the prison population has difficulties in basic literacy skills.
  • 15% of the working age population in the US (5.1m people) are at or below the level of literacy expected of an 11 year old. This figure was 16% (5.2 million people) in 2003.
  • More people are at the lowest level of literacy than in 2003 – 1.7m compared to 1.1m.

There is a new understanding of the importance of adults enjoying reading, and reading for pleasure. It helps to improve skills at the same time as increasing enjoyment, self-confidence and motivation.

Libraries and reading

Reading is one of our most popular pastimes. It’s more popular than gardening, going to the cinema, going to the theatre and concerts and doing DIY.

Libraries are the US’s most significant providers of the reading experience. They have an extraordinarily wide demographic reach, and play a vital, socially equalising role by giving everyone in a local community access to reading materials, and specialist support to encourage reading for pleasure.

Libraries’ work with readers builds people’s literacy levels, educational attainment and employability. It builds confidence, self-esteem and well-being.

  • Children who are read to every day at age three have a vocabulary at age five, nearly two months in advance to those that are not.
  • A child taken to the library on a monthly basis from ages three to five is two and a half months ahead an equivalent child at age five who did not visit the library so regularly.
  • Research suggests that regular reading is associated with a 35% reduction in the risk of dementia. It can reduce stress levels by 68%.
  • Taking part in social reading activity like reading groups can help people feel less isolated and develop mental concentration and mental agility.

Hope everybody has a great weekend! Happy Reading Ya’ll!

Tips on Pitching to an Agent and what to Expect (In my experience)…Part 1

Untitled pitch

Well, it’s finally here. The month you’ve been waiting for. That is, if you’re going to the Annual Writer’s Digest Conference in New York on July 31st. Oh! It’s so exciting!! I can’t tell you the anticipation I felt last year as I prepared during the final days for my trip. It was going to be the true beginning of my adventure towards publishing and really learning the industry.

I would have the opportunity to not only meet fellow writers who were also embarking on their writing journey, but also agents, published authors, editors, and publishers. For three days, I was going to be able to soak up like a sponge as much knowledge as I could from them. My heart is pounding just thinking about it. For a writer who has just finished their manuscript and is ready to take the next step, it can be thrilling as much as terrifying and overwhelming.

But, as I have said many times before, the experience is priceless. It gives you so many opportunities. Even without taking part in the Pitch Slam (one-on-one pitching to an agent), you still receive a wealth of knowledge, meet some super cool people, and possibly develop lifelong friendships with some fellow writers.

If you’re like me though, the Pitch Slam, for the most part was the only thing I could focus on. What was it going to be like? How could I possibly explain my book in 90- seconds? Are the agents approachable? Are they going to shake their head and say, “don’t quit your day job.” What was I going to wear? (Yes, I’m a girl, so I most definitely asked that question.)

Believe me, all those thoughts and more are completely natural. So what did I do to find out those questions? I took to the internet trying to read any shred of information and personal experiences others had while pitching to an agent. After all, it’s a HUGE deal to even get 90-seconds of face-to-face time with a literary agent. It doesn’t sound like much, but truly it’s an opportunity of a lifetime. Think about how many writers send hundreds of queries and never get more than a polite form email rejection. Not even a phone conversation to actually talk to that agent you dreamed of, before getting that electronic rejection. (Now, don’t get me wrong, I totally understand why agents have to send you those emails. They’re swamped! More than you understand until you go to a conference and really see the magnitude of it all.) But you, you lucky devil, get 90-seconds of awesomeness because you signed up for the Pitch Slam.

So, let me answer a few questions about the Pitch Slam and what to expect when pitching to an agent. Hope this helps!!!

First, let’s start with the easiest.

What was I going to wear?

Here’s the thing, you may have written your entire manuscript in sweat pants and a holey t-shirt in your basement. Cool, whatever works for you. But, would you wear that on a job interview? Probably not. Whatever and wherever you were applying in most cases, you would want to look professional. Well, that’s sort of what your doing when you meet these agents. You are both choosing each other. Would you want representation from an agent who hasn’t washed his/her hair in a couple of days and wears their ratty yard work t-shirt and biker shorts to the office? Ummmm…no. Be professional. Your clothes can say a lot about you. And first impressions are important. There’s not really a do-over in this one. You want the agent to take you and your work seriously. They’re investing in you just as much as you’re investing in them. This is a simple very easy step to get the process rolling. Now, I don’t want you to feel like you have to wear a ball gown or a tuxedo. I’m not saying that all. It’s super important that you’re comfortable. You don’t want to be so focused on the six-inch heels you decided to wear or the super tight belt that you can’t breathe in. And I would suggest no blue jeans. Will they kick you out if that’s what you wear? No. But, with all the styles and variety of clothes out there I’m sure you can find a nice/professional but casual outfit without wearing jeans. I opted for a long maxi skirt and a sleeveless blouse with nice sandals. Again, the choice is yours.

What should I expect before and during my Pitch Slam session?

Well, complete and utter chaos. No! I’m only kidding. LOL. Inside, you might feel like that as you prepare to spout out the writings of your soul, but truly the people who work for Writer’s Digest, have organized it well and it goes smoothly. As we say in the south, “this isn’t their first rodeo.” I would suggest highly, that you arrive an hour ahead of time for your pitch session. Even if it means you missing another class you signed up for. You need that time to practice your pitch and mentally get ready for what’s next. Not to mention it helps to get in line early. Cause, yes, there will be lines. (More on that in a minute). Last year, the way they had it set up was, you stood in a little lobby area, (I think it was called the Palm Room). There are two closed double doors leading into a massive room. Employees and agents walk in and out of the doors periodically as you wait. As it gets closer to the time to start, someone will come out and go over a few things with you like how the 90-second time limit would work, etc. Once, they open the doors, I kinda felt like it was the beginning of a horse race when they released the gate and the alarm sounded. Don’t worry no one tramples each other and there is no loud trumpet sounding, except for maybe in your own head. The agents are lined at tables around the huge room. Each has a sheet behind them saying who they are and what agency they represent. Hopefully, you know that already because you researched them before you got there. Next, be prepared to wait. Remember, how I said there would be lines? Well, obviously if you have 200 writers in a room with only like 50 agents there’s bound to be lines. Now, I believe this year’s conference offers more Pitch Slam Sessions so the lines possibly won’t be as long. Again, they did a beautiful job in being organized so it’s really not as bad as you might imagine it. There is a separate table with a few Writer’s Digest employees who will oversee progress and control the 90-second timer or bell. Listen for the bell! This is when your time either begins or ends depending on what you’re doing.

Don’t be embarrassed…about anything!

First off, agents are people too. Don’t forget that. They totally understand that this is your dream and that your a ball of nerves. The agents I was able to pitch to, were patient and really made me feel at ease as they listened to be intently. You would think they would be distracted by the buzz of all the people or the other person pitching to another agent only inches next to you. But they don’t. Every one of them I pitched to made me feel like in those 90-seconds, I was the only one in the room with them. Hopefully, even by this time, you’ve had the opportunity to interact with some or attend a class they taught the previous day. This helps immensely with your anxiety. Try as best you can to make it a conversation between two people and not anything more than that. I have to give a shout out to, Marisa Corvisiero from the Corvisiero Agency. Her class was the first class I attended at the conference and it was fantastic. A few of us even had the opportunity to read the first couple of pages of our manuscript to her and the rest of the class. (Side note, if you have the option to take this class, DO IT. This helped me soooo much in terms of not being as nervous when I pitched to an agent. If you can read your first few pages to an agent and an entire class, then the one-on-one with the agents in your Pitch Slam makes you tremendously less nervous. I promise you.) Anyway, she was so awesome in the class, and taught me some things right there about my manuscript I had no idea about. She was the very first agent I pitched to during my session, and she greeted me like we were old friends. She truly put me at ease right away and because of her kindness it help me flow through the rest of my session. The jitters were still there but she really made things a lot easier. Thank you so much Marisa!!!

The second thing, don’t be embarrassed standing in line talking to yourself. When I tell you everyone does it, that’s the truth. Sure you might talk to a few people while you’re standing in line but for the most part they’re doing exactly what your doing. Repeating over and over in their head their pitch. If you need to do it out loud, do it! No one will notice, I promise. You’ll be surprised how many actually are doing the same thing.

Whew! Apparently, I had a lot more to say about the Pitch Slam than I thought. I’m going to end Part 1 here, but please come back and read Part 2 tomorrow, on more of my own experience and tips I learned along the way.

Happy Pitching Ya’ll!!!

Fun Fact Friday!!! – The Rise of New York as the Publishing Capital

Picture is a READ sculpture made of 25,000 Dr. Seuss Books at New York Public Library in 2011.

I love New York City. Like, literally love everything about it. The subway, the hot dogs, the people, the architecture…everything. I’ve been a total of 4 times and each time gets better. There’s a certain energy in that city, a certain light. And no, I don’t mean all the lights in Time Square! LOL! Just something about that place that makes me feel at home. Funny, how I’m living out in the country in Louisiana, instead. I’m not giving up hope though, that one day I can talk my husband into moving to NYC. Or at least, having enough success with my books that I can have a little studio apartment or something so I can visit whenever I want. Fingers crossed!

Anyway, since I’m fascinated with everything book and writing related, AND New York, I thought I would share a piece of this article about New York becoming the Capital in Publishing. I found it on, http://www.encyclopedia.com. Enjoy! And, if you want to read the whole article on how the Publishing Industry came about, here it is: http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Publishing_industry.aspx

The Rise of New York as the Publishing Capital

The nineteenth century set a pattern of trends in the publishing industry that would continue into following centuries. By 1850, New York City had surpassed Boston and Philadelphia to become the center of the publishing industry in the United States, a position that the city occupied into the twenty-first century. Such nineteenth-century New York publishers as Harper, Putnam, and Scribner were still important names in the industry in 2000. The 1840s saw the beginning of the royalty system, and international copyright protection enacted at the end of the century ensured authors payment of their royalties. The large publishing houses that made New York so prominent in the industry exercised so much influence throughout the county that they forced many of the local printers that flourished through the 1700s and early 1800s out of business. A similar scenario occurred in the late twentieth century, when large retailers placed many local bookshops out of business.

Jessie Tarbox Beals. Washington Square Bookshop, 17 West 8th Street. ca. 1910. Museum of the City of New York. 91.53.19.

The first great New York City publishing house was Harper Bros., founded in 1817. By 1840 George Palmer Putnam, in partnership with John Wiley, had also established a publishing house in the city, and in 1846 Charles Scribner founded his publishing house in New York. Together, these three firms launched New York as the center of the U.S. book publishing industry. Like many of the city’s manufacturers, these publishers took advantage of the Erie Canal, which opened markets in the West to New York in 1825. New York publishers offered better prices than local printers did, because they could reduce overhead costs by printing and shipping books in larger quantities. Many smaller printers could not compete with this competition from the large New York publishing houses.

Like many publishers of the 1800s, Harper Bros. took advantage of the lack of international copyright enforcement. The firm printed pirated copies of works by such British authors as Charles Dickens, William Make-peace Thackeray, and Anne, Charlotte, and Emily Brontë. Harper Bros.’ best-selling pirated work by a British author was Thomas Babington Macaulay’s History of England from the Accession of James II. The book sold approximately 400,000 copies, a figure that would classify it as a nonfiction bestseller at the turn of the twentieth century. Because international copyright laws were not enforced, U.S. publishers did not pay royalties to either the British authors or their publishers. The American market had grown to be so significant that, in 1842, Dickens traveled to the United States in an effort to secure royalties from the sale of his works. He was unsuccessful at recouping this money, but the trip did give Dickens the material for his bookAmerican Notes for General Circulation, which Harper Bros. promptly pirated.

The Constitution had granted the federal government authority to ensure that American writers and inventors were given exclusive rights to their work, and in 1790 Congress enacted legislation to advance domestic copyright protection afforded to U.S. authors. By the late nineteenth century, American authors had become sufficiently well known throughout the world that their works had significant sales abroad. To ensure that these American authors, as well as their publishers, received the royalties due them from sales outside the United States, Congress entered into the International Copyright Act of 1891. Although this secured American authors and publishers royalties from sales in other signatory countries, it also meant the end of U.S. publishers pirating works of foreign authors.

Edmund V. Gillon. [Charles Scribner's Sons Building, 597 Fifth Avenue.] ca. 1977. Museum of the City of New York. 2013.3.2.2001

Until the mid-nineteenth century, most American authors published at their own expense. For example, Walt Whitman self-published and sold his 1855 edition of Leaves of Grass. However, a printer and bookseller might share costs with an author whose work appeared to have strong sales potential. When American publishers began to spend their own funds to print books, they generally paid authors no royalties until they had recovered the initial expense incurred in printing the book. George Palmer Putnam instituted the modern royalty system in 1846, offering authors 10 percent of a book’s sale price for each copy sold.

The paperback was another innovation of the nineteenth-century book publishing industry. Although paperbound pamphlets and tracts had existed since the colonial era, the sales of paperbound novels exploded in the mid-1800s. In 1860, Erastus Beadle, a printer in Ostega County, New York, published A Dime Song Book, a paperbound collection of lyrics to popular songs. Sales of this book were so strong that in the same year Beadle published another 10-cent paperbound book, Maleska: The Indian Wife of the White Hunter by Anne S. W. Stephens. The book was an adventure novel, which became staples of the genre known as “dime novels.” Whether a dime novel was a detective story, an adventure story, or an historical tale, it always featured an all-American hero who saved the day, triumphed over evil and vice, and was handsomely rewarded. Gilbert Patten created the hero figure Frank Merriwell, whose exploits helped sell 125 million copies of Patten’s books. Although their literary merits were questioned, dime novels were a reading staple until the early 1910s, when pulp magazines and comic books surpassed them in popularity.

While readers of dime novels enjoyed wholesome tales, other readers of the mid-1800s indulged their tastes for the more salacious literature that had become a specialty of New York’s publishers. Anthony Comstock, an anti-obscenity crusader and secretary of the New York Society for Suppression of Vice, led a successful campaign in 1870 that forced New York publishing houses to stop printing such racy fiction. Comstock, a special officer of the U.S. Postal Service, also succeeded in persuading Congress to pass the so-called Comstock laws that prohibited the postal service from carrying material deemed obscene. Comstock carried on his anti-obscenity campaign until his death in 1915, and he was so effective that New York publishers practiced self-censorship well into the twentieth century. Although the movement led by Comstock had as its goal the suppression of obscene publications, the entire literary and publishing community felt the effects of this censorship. George Bernard Shaw coined the term “Comstockery” for this form of censorship, and H. L. Mencken railed against Comstock and his movement for making it “positively dangerous to print certain ancient and essentially decent English words.”

Hope everyone has a Happy 4th of July! Happy Writing!

Fun Friday!!! Where would YOU live??

So, I’m not doing a fun fact today. Instead, I thought we would get those creative juices flowing! I came across a fun little snip it and I wanted everyone to comment on what exactly they would choose and why? Can’t wait to hear them!! Here’s mine below!

funny

That’s actually super hard for me to choose! Each one would be fabulous in their own way! I mean, if the museum was like the movie, Night of the Museum, that would be cool. And with a library, think of all the fantastic books you could read! Bbbuuttt…I’m going to have to go with the zoo. Yes, that’s my final answer.

Why exactly? Well, for one thing animals are mesmerizing, each and every one of them. They all hold their own secret wonder. I actually volunteered and worked at a zoo starting at the age of 13.

I’ve raised all kinds of animals including my most favorite, two female lion cubs. Evangeline and Adiri were born June 7, 1997. It was the most amazing time in my life while raising them from a bottle until they reached over a 100 pounds at 6 months of age. Unfortunately, they were sent to a Canadian Zoo, and I never saw them again. I tried to keep up with them as best I could. I do know that from both of them, I now have grandlions and great-grandlions!

Even now when I go to any zoo, the noises and even the smells bring me back to that time, a time where I felt truly at home. The howl of the gibbons, the squawk of the macaws, and the roar of the lions – that made everyone stop and run to see them. Now, don’t get me wrong, all of them are still wild animals, unpredictable and untamed. But that’s the beauty of them. Here’s a little fun fact too. I actually got married at the zoo. Yep, with peacocks and all! LOL!

So, in conclusion, the zoo would be the place for me by just being able to see everyday those beautiful creatures. Yes, I could definitely spend the rest of my life there.

Can’t wait to hear where and why everyone else would choose! Happy Friday Ya’ll!

P.S. And a shout out to all zookeepers!!! No one understands how truly difficult your job is until they’ve filled your shoes. Between cleaning the not so nice things left in the occupant’s cage, to having to work in all types of weather, to having to say goodbye to cherished animals over the years – I thank you so much for your hard work so that myself and the rest of the public get to enjoy these amazing creatures!!