Writing Made “Easy” …

Writing - Morguefile.com

I am sometimes asked for writing guidance.   Over the years, I have developed this simple list of ingredients which have served me well.  For what they are worth, here they are, along with some “pithy” commentary, which you may ignore as you choose.  

I have deliberately chosen to address writing in general, rather than focus on a specific type or form such as academic, business, blogging, or novels.    My comments are generic and apply to the basic act of writing something for any purpose.    I also am not recommending or even mentioning any of the many fine products available to help with all this.

The first two items might be considered “Gee, Duh”, but I believe that one should always start at the beginning:


What used to be called writing paper (white or yellow), but which now comes in wonderful variations, including digital.  

The “paper” you use may be lined or unlined, include a soothing background shade, including classic white, and have various textures or surface patterns.  Some folks prefer a basic blank page, while others find a pastel shade with lines evocative.

The point is you need a blank surface upon which you will spill your thoughts and visions.  Choose wisely and creatively. Continue reading

A Little Brevity is Good For the Soul …

Great Work

I get one of these short and very sweet inspirations every day in my inbox.  When I get behind and have to clear out the clutter, I will often delete hundreds of messages at one time, based on my assumption that “If I have not read it yet, I do not need to.”

However, I NEVER delete a Great Work Provocation without reading it.   As Shakespeare observes, “Brevity is the soul of wit”.

So here’s my run at today’s provocation, clocking in at 115:

“Never forget that life is a series of choices about how you will do, accept, resist, or react. Choose thoughtfully.”

Okay, your turn:   140 characters …

Waiting for short and pithy responses in the Heartland ….


Guest Post: Self-Publishing With A Twist …

BooksThis guest post is by Keri of Kickstand Books , an interesting new function of HandleBar Publishing … not your father’s mega-publishing company:)

The world of books is changing and these folks are leading that change.  If you are thinking about writing a book, have written a book, but not published, or are just curious about the current world of book publishing, read on … then visit the links above to learn more.

Should you self-publish your book?

How to get the book that’s “in you” out to the world

You’ve got a book in you—you’re sure of it. Whether it’s an amazing story, or solid expert advice, you know others would benefit from the book you’re already writing in your head.

So, what is the best way for you to go about getting this book out to the masses? You’ve got a few options; we’ll walk you through them here.

Traditional Publishing
Getting your book published has never been tougher—if you go the traditional royalty publisher route. Traditional, or “royalty” publishing, works like this: you (or more accurately, your literary agent) queries a publishing company with a book proposal. If the publisher “buys” your book, they’ll offer you an advance (sometimes) and a small cut of the book sales proceeds. In return, they’ll edit the book, cover the costs of production (including the cover), printing, and so forth. But this also gives them editorial control and more sway in your brand management. The publisher handles distribution—getting your book into stores and online sellers—and book promotion, handling some marketing, but leaving a larger chunk to you than you might expect.

Self-publishing is a risk you, the author, take on in full. You can expect to pay all publishing costs: editing, design, printing, marketing, advertising and distribution. Because of this, you also have control of the product: you have final say on the cover, the content, and marketing plan. Once the expenses are paid, the author receives the profits from sales. The risk to you is greater, but so is the reward.

Self-publishing, as the name implies, can be a lonely job—you are on your own, often being funneled through a cookie-cutter type system. You’re doing it all by yourself. You’ll learn by making mistakes, and some of those “lessons” can be expensive. You may just want to write, but a self-published author also serves as business manager, brand manager, and more.

Self-Publishing with an Experienced Team
There is a third option in the new world of publishing: you can self-publish with a team.

Hiring a team of publishing professionals can make the self-publishing process much easier, less lonely, and increase the quality of your end product greatly.

You’ll also avoid costly mistakes by relying on the book professionals’ expertise. And you’ll be able to hand off much of the “book business” tasks so that you can focus on being an author—while still retaining control of content and the overall process.

Working with a self-publishing team like Kickstand Books is like hiring a personal concierge when exploring a new area. Having traveled this way before, this team can steer you in the right direction, help you make good choices, and take care of details that you, the author, might prefer not to handle. The team at Kickstand prides itself on the white glove service offered to each author, creating quality products every time including top design, printer negotiations, and more behind-the-scenes tasks most authors would prefer to leave to someone else.

Self-publishing can be a challenging yet gratifying option for authors, especially when they have a team of professionals working with them.

John again: If Keri’s word make you want to find out more, go to Kickstand Books and dig in.

Wondering what to wear at my first book-signing event in the Heartland ….:)


An Hour …

Work to Do - Books“An hour of real energetic effort can do more to produce a cheerful frame of mind than a month spent fretting about all there is to be done.”


A very good message for a Monday morning …

Why not do your hour now?

I think the term “fretting” is very appropriate here.  Fretting seems to indicate a relatively low level of worrying.  We are not engaged in full-blown This one is so obvious that little need exists to explain the point.   We all tend to worry sometimes, but some of us consider it to be a full time job and plug away at “fretting” with the passion of a true artist.

Take that stack of books on my desk … PleaseSmile

I could be quite dismayed by the reality that this is only a partial stack for the month of March.  More titles have yet to arrive.

I could put myself into a real funk by considering all the work of reading, reflecting, writing, and publishing that this stack represents.

I could “sweeten” the mix by adding all the other things that I have to do in that same time frame, including preparing for and teaching classes, leading meetings, sharing, planning, and maintaining, cleaning and washing, and so on.

… and then there’s the family to which I happily owe some of my upcoming time.

Or I could just start reading books …

What about you?

What could you be doing now instead of fretting?

Settling down to work on a cold morning in the Heartland ….


Ten Rules for Blogging Success …

Computer and Guy

Rule 1:  Do NOT believe anyone who tells you that blogging can only be successful if you follow 10 rules …

Rules  2 through 10:  Repeat Rule Number 1 as often as you need to …


Now if I were making suggestions …

     Find your voice … and exercise it.

     Write about what you care about.

     Do not keep score.

     Do proofread and review.

Engage with others who are doing              the same thing. 

    Reflect on what happens.

    Enjoy the ride.

 Any questions?

 Feeling rather liberated in the Heartland ….