Tag Archives: books

Hopping Up on My Soapbox to Fight Technology Zombies from Spreading


Our brains are turning to mush. Not, hey it’s the weekend and I’m on my 15th beer mush but the bad kind of mush; the kind of mush that causes dementia and other brain disorders. We are losing our memories and our ability to write in long-hand. Face it people we have become the laziest bunch of humans I have ever seen and it is our fault.

Our lives have become a constant whirl of electronic backwash. Computers, tablets, GPS and smart phones, all of it is designed to make our lives easier, us lazier and somewhat dumber. I have begun to realize that I personally need to take some time away from all those electronics from time to time. If I don’t I’m going to become one of the tech zombies that we all see on the streets texting instead of watching where they are going, hooking into the grid instead of hooking up with other humans…it’s all rather disturbing.

On the one hand, they are great tools but, on the other, we are losing some of our mental capacity by becoming dependent on all those gadgets. Consider that we are now currently raising an entire generation who will not know how to read a map or remember a phone number. In a few short years no one will need to know how to spell, computers already pretty much do that for you. And handwriting? Won’t matter if yours is good or bad…no one needs to do that anymore.

I recently went back to using a handwritten journal. I am also buying actual books instead of just ebooks. And once a week I spend a whole day without (gasp) turning on my computer at all. Don’t tell anyone but I spend those days actually reading….

Don’t let technology turn your brain into mush. If I was a conspiracy theorists (and some days I can be) I would tell you that it feels like we are being trained to literally not think for ourselves. Computers do our work, GPS finds our way, smartphones make our calls and television (media) tells us what is real. Wake up people….wake up before you find yourself in the land of I-can’t-do-for-myself.

We as creative people have a moral obligation to make sure that others around us know that, although technology is good for the most part, there is a dark side. Ray Bradbury’s “There Will Come Soft Rains” comes to mind. It is simple…the brain is like a muscle and if like a muscle you have to use it or it will just stop working. Turn off the computer and read, turn off the GPS and get lost, turn off the smart phone and enjoy the quiet….when you do quiet the buzz of today’s technology you may just discover something you haven’t seen in a while…your sanity.

© The Writer’s Advice, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.


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Are You a Writer Who Writes Manuscripts or Books?

I have several published books on the shelves and I have about 20 unpublished manuscripts at home in various forms. Some are hard copies, some are on my computer and one is even on floppy disk. (although I do have a working copy on my hard drive. I just can’t bring myself to throw the disk away) Having both books published and manuscripts written makes me a writer…however…one of these things makes me a writer who can finish a project. Are you a writer who can finish a project?

I have a lot of writer friends. Hell, I’m damn near 50 and by this time, since writing has been pretty much a lifestyle for me as well as a calling, I have more writer friends than a person can shake a stick at. (Note – another of those sayings I don’t get…shake a stick at? Why would I want to do that exactly?) Of these writer friends there are many who have never published a manuscript. Some of them are just that bad and should be running a pizza joint but others are incredible writers yet, publishing eludes them. Over the years I have often questioned my writer friends who don’t publish as to why and there is one reason that rings out more than others…they don’t follow through.

To be a published writer you have to do more than write. While it would be great to produce a manuscript and then have some book fairy show up, (think Vin Diesel or Salma Hayek in tights depending on your preference…)  and take it away and wham, you are published…but it just doesn’t work that way. There is a process to publishing and not all writers have it in them to do it. Then to make matters even more difficult, writers today have to market themselves too. It sucks. I personally would rather have a fairy.

Here’s the basics:

  1. Write an incredibly interesting manuscript.
  2. Edit said book
  3. Find 5 or so interesting publishers who publish your type of manuscript – Writer’s Market is good for this.
  4. Write a synopsis
  5. Write a Query letter – This is a lot harder than you think it is.
  6. Send your manuscript to 5 publishers.
  7. Get rejected
  8. Send manuscript out to 5 more publishers.
  9. Get rejected
  10. Repeat numbers 6, 7, 8 and 9 approximately 80 more times. (any more than that without positive feedback, it’s time to consider becoming a mortician)
  11. Publisher accepts manuscript but tells you to edit out all the interesting parts and write in a large blue bunny and it will be perfect.
  12. Manuscript is published
  13. Sell it to family and unsuspecting friends
  14. Realize that you have to do your own marketing which will end up costing you any advance you get (if you get one, you are lucky) and cry.
  15. Dry your eyes and spend the next 6 months trying to convince the world to read your book.
  16. Explain once again to your mother-in-law that yes you really are a writer and no, this isn’t your last book because you just got lucky this time around. (Listen to her tell your spouse that nice little Billy Warek became a banker and is still not married)

Writing is hard, publishing is harder but it can be done. You are still a writer if you have stacked up manuscripts in a steamer trunk somewhere (yes, I have one) but that isn’t the goal is it? Being a published writer is the goal and, sadly, there is a process we have to follow that, at times, isn’t so pleasant. This is the follow through and this is what many writers don’t do. I will admit that it is still, after all these years, difficult for me too because I, after all, don’t want to do the rest of the process; I just want to write. And I can do that….but that would just make me a writer who writes, not one that publishes. So what are you? A writer who writes manuscripts….or books…..????


© The Writer’s Advice, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.


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That’s it! I am not Reading Ever Again!

No silly…not me…but recently I had a writer friend tell me this because he was so outraged that Kindles and Nooks have replaced actual books for a lot of people. He was outraged…outraged in the way you should be when someone torches your beach home…it was more than a little overboard in my opinion.

So what is my opinion when it comes to Kindles, Nooks, iPads and the like? Should e-readers replace paper books? This is a question I get asked all the time. I guess because I am a writer it is supposed to make me some kind of paper book loving radical but it doesn’t….e-books are kind of exciting as far as I am concerned…if you don’t think so…you might be old….or just plain stubborn.

Don’t get me wrong, I have a certain loyalty when it comes to books. I grew up reading those little bound paper collections, often in the dark, after bedtime, with a flashlight; I love books. But let’s call the e-readers what they are…advancement…the future of books…not the end of books. I have never understood the hollering folks are doing about electronic books being the end of books in general. I don’t know when the last time you picked one up was, but my iPad and my Kindle (yes I have both) use a program that, when I turn them on, tada….the novel that comes up looks like…oh my…a book!  E-readers aren’t killing reading unless all those naysayers who claim loyalty to paper products stop reading because of a stubborn makes-no-sense idea that somehow reading on anything else is not reading. Seriously….

So how do I really feel about e-readers? Well….

  • I can carry around my entire library any time I want.
  • I have a backlight on my e-readers so I don’t have to worry about book lights at night.
  • I can see a book while I am out or be discussing one at dinner and instantly purchase it.
  • E-readers are getting better and better at what they do as they are being developed and that’s cool.
  • I have the Kindle software on my iPad, my computer, my phone, my Galaxy Tab…oh yeah…and my Kindle…so I can read anywhere, anytime.

I think technology is cool and anything that lights up or makes my life easier is okay with me. I am also handicapped (in a wheel chair most of the time) so being able to carry a Kindle as opposed to four paperbacks is great! Do I still buy paper books? Yes I do, because there are still some publishers who aren’t converting to e-readers. Do I think that e-readers are going to kill reading or hurt writers? No, absolutely not…I think that there are some bugs to work out but in the end I think that writers are going to enjoy a wider audience because of e-publishing. I also think that we, as a society, are going to be subjected to a lot more crap writing but that’s the price you pay for being more accessible.

Grow people and stop seeing technology as the big bad of the reading and writing world. Instead seize the opportunity and run with it….get your work out there and get it into the hands of more people…it’s simple math the way I see it…better technology=more readers=more money…..simple.


© The Writer’s Advice, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.


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Number 1 Tool for Writers – Reading

I read everything. No, really…I read books, magazines, billboards, the back of the cereal box…if it has words; I will read it. I can’t sit and wait for anything without something to read. If I am at the doctor’s office or getting the oil changed and there are no magazines, and I have forgotten my Kindle, I develop a bit of nervousness and end up pacing like a drug addict without a fix. Yes, I am an addicted reader, but that’s ok because I am a writer.

Being a reader is a necessary part of being a writer. Just as it makes sense for a mechanic to look at all types of cars, writers need to read. Reading serves many purposes in a writer’s life, not the least of which is that it gives the writer a sense of what works. There’s a bible quote that folks like to throw around that says in part, “there is nothing new under the sun”, and while that quote serves the purpose of being wielded like a sword at sinners everywhere, it also is true of writing. There is nothing new in writing except the way the writer plays the story. The basic plots lines have been around for a very long time; what is different is the writer. Taking this into consideration, it just plain makes sense to pick up the books that have come before us and study how other writers have treated a plot line.

Another reason to pick up other books is because other writers offer inspiration. Some of the inspiration comes in the form of awe, as in, “wow what a great writer”. It’s great to have other writers to aspire to. I find that reading other writers also offers inspiration through the opposite direction, as in, “wow, what crap, I can do better than that”. (Oh get that look off your face; you know you’ve thought it too) Whichever way a book inspires you, take it. Whether you are trying to be as good or trying to be better, inspiration is inspiration. If it gets you writing, the book has done its basic job.

So make reading a huge part of your day if it isn’t already. Reading allows us to see the foundations of others and makes it possible to improve upon what we read. Think of it as researching what to do and what not to do so that one day someone else can pick up your book and be inspired too.


© The Writer’s Advice, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.


Posted by on March 6, 2023 in Inspiration, Writing, Writing Tools


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