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On Creeds, Cozy Mysteries, And Getting Out Of Our Own Way …by Susan Lute

Bob Mayer has a creed. Check out his website. A creed, for those who don’t know – I didn’t, according to Jen Talty, is the singular notion you want people to believe. It’s a core set of principles that you project to your audience.

Bob’s creed is: Lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way! I’ve heard him say this several times in workshops I’ve attended. I heartily agree, only I have an additional thought. As writers/authors, and readers, we need to get out of our own way. At least that’s true for me. Sometimes I’m my own worst enemy.

I love the philosophy of paying it forward. I’ve been pretty lucky in my writing career. I’ve know the best of both the old and now the new publishing world. Sometime in the next six months I’ll be going live with an updated website (we’re not changing SJP), where writers can go to learn about the business of writing. Stay tuned for more as we get closer to the unveiling date.

There are many authors who follow this philosophy of helping other writers. Of course we believe that here at SJP. Ask any question, business related or not, and we’ll have an answer. You’re not surprised, are you {tongue in cheek}?

For kicks, check out these author sites:

Bob Mayer, Write It Forward

Marie Sullivan Force, About Writing, and Self-Publishing Tips For The Uninitiated

Alexandra Sokoloff, Screenwriting Tricks For Authors

Joan Reeves, SlingWords

You would be disappointed if I didn’t ramble a bit, right? So…my house is like a cozy mystery. You never know what’s going to happen next. It’s always under construction, as though I’m hunting for the secret to the perfect hideaway. It’s chuck full of books and film (almost everywhere you look), and sometimes it’s hard to find a path through to the kitchen. Alright, it IS basically clean, but it also has an air of being well loved and lived in. After eighteen years of wanting to move (me, not the Mr.) I love living here. I have dreams of turning my antique, plain handbag into a bejeweled, evening clutch. This week I finished painting the master bedroom.

One last thought. I think my creed is: Never give up! Never say die! I’m still figuring it out, but that’s a pretty accurate statement of the primary principle I’d like my audience to know.

What’s your creed (readers have creeds too)? And can you add to our list of writers/authors who pay it forward?

 PS. I hope this weekend was spent with family and friends. Happy Easter, or however you celebrate with your tribe.

A Rant: Craft is Not Just for New Writers by Cassiel Knight

I want to state one thing up front. I have absolutely nothing against self-publishing and while my rant is based on what I hear self-published authors say, I’ve also heard this from traditionally published authors. However, right now, the source of the rant comes from self-published, and you’ll see what I mean below.

Okay.

On one of the many loops I follow, I heard a recurring comment from members of RWA chapters throughout the country. I have to admit, when I first read the comment, my jaw dropped.

What I read, and others chimed in and agreed they heard, is that self-published authors are leaving local chapters because:

“they don’t need to learn craft anymore.”

Yes, that’s right. You heard me. There’s apparently this movement out there that is supposed to support the idea that because someone chooses to self-publish, it automatically means that the author’s writing is perfect. That they can’t learn anything else about craft.

Sorry folks, they are dead wrong.

I talked to a publisher about this and her jaw dropped too.  And you can go to any number of higly respected blogs like Dear Author.com and a common note in the comments is readers fear self-published books because of the poor writing.

That’s the reality, dear readers.  Choosing to self-publish or being a published author doesn’t mean you don’t need to continue to learn craft. In fact, for self-published authors, I think it means you need to work that much harder at times because you’ve chosen to go at it alone. You don’t have the luxury of an agent or editor back-up. It’s you.

You think I’m wrong? Well, here are some quotes from those you might believe:

  • Gina Ardito wrote a great blog post on this subject. She says: “A truly successful author seeks the new, the different, and dares to step to the edge of the precipice every single time. (S)he is always learning, always growing.” http://ginaardito.blogspot.com/2011/06/mid-week-rude-awakening-growth-is.html
  • Marie Andreas: “But for any author to say, “I know all there is to know about writing”- FOR any reason is insane!…We have to keep learning. This is true in darn near all fields, but especially a world like publishing. I would be horrified if the book I wrote five years ago is no different than one I just finished. As authors we have to keep pushing the envelope, learning new skills, trying new approaches – EVEN if we don’t stick with them. Try them, keep what works, then move on.” http://www.castlesandguns.com/2011/04/never-stop-learning.html
  • RITA Award winning author, Sophia Nash (http://www.sophianash.com): “I think writers grow and change, even if it is just in miniscule amounts, with each book they write. It’s only natural since the writing process is a learning experience. It’s what I like the most about the creative process. I’ll never get bored writing because I’ll never stop learning new things about the craft.”
  • Bob Mayer, Who Dares Wins Publishing (http://www.boymayer.org) – Always learn to become a better writer. 
  • James Scott Bell, bestselling suspense author and former fiction columnist for Writers Digest, says: “…never think that business knowledge and marketing can cover a multitude of writing sins. One still has to be able to consistently deliver the goods, and that means learning the craft by writing, revising, studying, getting feedback, and more writing.”
  • Robin Perini (http://www.robinperini.com) of Discovering Story Magic fame says: “I think that the most important piece of advice that I can give is to NEVER STOP LEARNING, and to BE OPEN TO GROWING and CHANGING.”
  • New York Bestselling Author Susan Mallery says: “Never Stop Learning.” She recommends that you master as much craft as you can so you don’t disappoint your readers. Figure out what you’re good at and what you’re bad at. Focus on your strengths and shore up your weaknesses. If you bring your passion and enthusiasm to a project, it will show up on the page. http://jennyhansenauthor.wordpress.com/2011/10/11/5-great-bits-of-wisdom-from-a-new-york-times-besteller/
  • Dean Wesley Smith – A self-published success story most who self-published know very well has this to say: “Learning and continuing to learn is critical. This business keeps changing and the only way to stay abreast of the changes is to go out and keep learning and talk with other writers and find advice that makes sense to you and your way. Go to workshops, conferences, conventions and anything else you can find to get bits of learning. Read everything you can find about the business. My goal on this is learn one thing new every week at least. I’ve been doing that since my early days and it has worked for me, and kept me focused on learning. Find what works for you…Keep learning. Keep practicing your art.”http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/?p=1311

So, the point of this rant is, next time you don’t think you have anything to learn from craft workshops, think again.

I suspect you do.

BTW – isn’t that little girl up there absolutely adorable? :-D

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