January 16, 2019– Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate. Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.
Sigh. Talk poetry to me. Another sigh, as I cup my chin in my hands and gaze adoringly into your eyes. Ok, we aren’t Shakespeare, far from it, I’m speaking for myself anyway even though I would beg for a fraction of the talent that he had. What’s the deal with poetry in the marketplace? Why is so hard to sell? Why doesn’t it get published as often as other genres? These are just a few of the questions that I get pretty regularly. Here’s are some answers:
Poetry has a very niche audience. In mainstream publishing, there’s a small market for poetry books. Even established, well-known poets don’t sell thousands of books – maybe not even hundreds. I know what you’re going to say…”But, what about The Sun and Her Flowers or Milk and Honey?” Yes, those books did sell thousands, but they are the exception to the rule.
Poetry doesn’t sell. Let me rephrase that, poetry doesn’t sell as well as mainstream fiction does. I believe that the world needs poetry and poets, but I also believe that I don’t want to take an enormous financial risk in publishing an unknown poet’s poems. The cold, hard truth about traditional publishing is that publishers want to make a profit. This is our business and our livelihood. The cost of publishing a book is in the thousands, to begin with, and as publishers, we want to make damn sure that at the very least, we get our investment back. Publishing poetry is one gamble that I’m not willing to bet on. We are in this business to make money just like anyone who is in any business is.
Poetry is subjective. You may hate Shakespeare (perish the thought, he is an absolute genius and I am a huge fan of his work) but there are those in the world that would fight you to the death defending his sonnets. You may love Robert Frost (again, what’s not to love?), but others may find his poetry dry and outdated. Poetry is art and art is subjective. Yes, writing is art, but mainstream writing is less subjective. You can say, “I love thrillers!” and cover an entire genre, whereas, with poetry, it’s much more specific.
The point is, if you love to write poetry, keep writing! Write for yourself and your friends and family. There are a few publications that are still accepting poetry submissions and a quick Google search will let you know where to send your work if you’re so inclined. Here’s to your success! X LLB
October 3, 2018- Ahhh, book clubs! I will say that I’m a huge fan of them and the discussions that take place over wine or coffee with friends. A couple of years ago, I started a book club, and our first meeting was in the summer in my backyard; it was also our last meeting. We read The Little Old Lady Who Broke All The Rules. To be honest, I wasn’t a fan of the book, and I hoped for a lot more from it from what I had read on the back. Sometimes that’s a problem, isn’t it? We expect the inside of the book to be as good as, the back cover. But, now I’m rambling. Here are four tips for hosting a book club:
Get some friends together and figure out what you’re going to read. What we did in our group when it came to choosing a book, it was the hostess picks first, then we take turns by birth month. If you have two people who are both born in the same month, the person with the earlier date goes first. It’s pretty diplomatic this way, and it also allows you to read outside of your genre which I’m always harping on!
Set a time, date, and timeline. You need to decide how long the book will take to read, how long the book club meeting should be, and when the book club meeting will take place. For example, your book club could take place every third Tuesday of the month, the discussion is an hour long, and the book needs to be read in a month. It’s easy when you have a schedule to abide by.
Choose a location. Again, what we did, was give each person a turn to host the book club in their home. If we were reading your book choice for the month, you were also the host of the book club meeting. Don’t feel any pressure to use this method though, you can comfortably host a book club at your local library or even a park, restaurant, or public place.
Get your thoughts together. At our book club, w decided that we were just going to have an open discussion about the book and the characters with really no end game in mind. Sometimes the questions got off topic, and sometimes we were able to really stay in the moment. What I would recommend this time is to have a list of questions prepared. Perhaps every member could bring three questions or subjects to discuss that have to deal with the theme, characters, or even the style of writing. You could also talk about the ending, the parts you didn’t like, and why.
Unfortunately, life got in the way of us carrying on our book club, and we kind of let it dissolve on its own. I’d love to start one up again one day soon, and in this day and age, there are so many ways to stay connected! Think outside of the box and maybe think about hosting a Skype-based book club or a chat room book club, but most of all, have fun!
August 20, 2018- Memoir writing is difficult and time consuming. That said, there are a lot of authors that have been successfully published in this genre. Memoir writing is not for the faint of heart, so if you’re bold or insane, here are some tips!
Is your life interesting enough? This is a question that you must answer truthfully. When authors submit their manuscripts to me that are memoirs, I ask them if their life is interesting enough to anyone other than themselves and their friends and family. Everyone thinks their life is great, and we all think that we have riveting stories to tell. More often than not, this is not the case, unfortunately. Celebrities often write memoirs because they have lived an exceptional life in one way or another. They have lived a life that most people never will and that’s what makes us want to read their stories.
Remember what it isn’t. Your memoir is NOT an autobiography. A memoir focuses on a SPECIFIC time or theme, such as the summer of 1972, for example. This helps your readers get to know you better and that one experience in your life better and on a different, deeper level.
Tell the Truth. Especially if people in your memoir are still living. I’ll never forget an episode of Oprah where she was interviewing a man about his book. He told the story of being detained in a concentration camp during the war and that he met his future wife when she gave him an apple through the fence. It turned out that the story was completely fabricated. There’s no need to lie, being honest and genuine is your best bet.
Memoirs explore the truth of your life through your eyes. No one can tell your story and that is your power. Happy Writing!
June 1, 2018- Where is your favourite place to write? What place inspires you? Do you enjoy writing outside? In different countries? At home on your dining room table?
As an author, I most definitely have my preferred places to write. I enjoy writing in these spots because they inspire me and I’m able to get fresh ideas and conversations for my books.
Different Countries: I’ve been fortunate enough to write in many places around the world. Some of my favourites include, Jamaica, London, and Tampa Bay. I also really loved writing in Havana and was very lucky to have visited the bar Floridita where Ernest Hemingway frequented. This was SUPER inspiring, not only because one of the greats visited it, but because the atmosphere and the energy it has.
Outside: One of my favourite places to write is on my back deck. I love being outside with my laptop while listening to nature and the sounds of birds bickering back and forth and occasionally the odd neighbour! There’s something to be said about escaping the same four walls every once in a while to reconnect with your characters. Another place I love to write is the beach. The sand, surf, and salty air will be featured in my upcoming beach novel that is set to debut in late 2019.
On Planes: I do a ton of editing while flying, but I also do a ton of writing. I’m a huge believer of writing during the spaces in between and not wasting minutes. What better time to write than during a seven or eight hour international flight? I get super inspired on flights because we all know the many characters that are on board! Sometimes we can find the perfect character inspiration sitting in the seat next to us.
In Bed: “I only love my bed and my mama, I’m sorry”…wait, didn’t Drake say that? I know that experts say that the bedroom should only be reserved for sleep and sex, but there is something magical about writing in bed. The fluffy, white covers, two sleeping cats, a snoring husband, and if I’m really lucky, there will be a thunderstorm! This is by far my most favourite place to write and when I look around at who I’m surrounded by, I feel like the luckiest person on the planet, because I have everything I’ll ever need right there.
Where do you like to write and why? Let me know in the comments below.
April 6, 2018- I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the writing prompt this week! It’s so creepy and interesting, and it’s given me a thousand different ideas for my own work. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Happy writing!
January 3, 2018- Often times, as a writing exercise, authors will use prompts to get the creative juices flowing. I like to use images sometimes because it jump starts my imagination. This image is a powerful one. While using this prompt there are some questions that you should answer: Is the person looking at the elephant a person at all or are they another animal? How did one come across the elephant? Where were they headed? Where did they come from? etc. Happy Writing!
December 9, 2017- I’m happy to say that the turn out to my last class, Novel Writing 101 was great last week. Lots of brilliant minds with excellent ideas for stories that are fiction and non-fiction. On Monday, December 11th, at 7:00pm, I will be teaching a class on Publishing 101. The course will include the major differences between self and traditional publishing, the benefits, and setbacks of both avenues as well as the question that is on everyone’s mind…MONEY! This is a class that you won’t want to miss! I look forward to seeing some familiar faces as well as some new ones. See you Monday, December 11th at 7pm at the Sherwood Branch of the Hamilton Public Library.
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