Thursday, December 15, 2011

Guest Post by Julie Smith, author of Writing Your Way

Julie Smith is the author of Writing Your Way: The Great American Novel Track.

About Writing Your Way:
WRITING YOUR WAY is a no-nonsense, jam-packed book on writing fiction that came directly out of the author’s belief that most writing teachers need to cut their students a little slack. Edgar-winner Julie Smith’s approach is to help you find your own writing method, not bombard you with “unbreakable” rules. But make no mistake, she’s going to give you plenty of how-tos—on plot, character, setting, voice, point-of-view, dialogue, pacing and marketing. As well as plenty of practice exercises. And lots of motherly advice.

She also thinks most writing books are so absurdly padded they’re a waste of students’ time. Or they’re all about getting in touch with your inner writer so you can finally get started. WRITING YOUR WAY is for the pre-published novelist who is way past that. It gets right to the point. Offering nuts, bolts, and marketing methods, it’s a thick, dense concentrate of wisdom learned from years of actually… writing. Smith’s the author of dozens of novels and short stories and the founder of Writers’ Track, a method of teaching writing by conference call. She has also taught fiction both at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Guest Post by Julie Smith:


You love the feel of books, you love the smell of books. These are the reasons why, if you’re under the spell of paper nostalgia, you will never, ever, for any reason consider using an ereader. Let me take a guess—you’ve never tried one. Or only once or twice, briefly and with a closed mind—yes, I truly believe you declined to open your mind on that one!

Because in your heart of hearts you know there is something sacred about books, something that’s always been there and that…well, that you just can’t imagine your life without. How do I know all this? Well, to connect the dots here, my book, WRITING YOUR WAY, is an ebook, but in addition I’m a digital publisher and I routinely talk to people who greet that news with the first line of this post. The one about the feel; and sometimes the smell. Boy, are we all in agreement on this one! We all love the feel. One hundred per cent of people who even think about it say this, I promise you.

And about fifty per cent mention the smell, which, in my opinion, is misguided because if you can smell a book you are in danger from thousands of deadly mold spores. But these people may not have the kind of allergies I do.

It’s kind of bizarre how many people who’d never voluntarily hurt a tree seem to feel paper is sacrosanct. Except for that part (and the smell thing) I completely get the love of physical books. A book feels like…well, a book in your hands. I don’t think any of us would ever have considered that this was something we loved before ebooks, but it’s familiar and the other thing’s foreign. So suddenly it’s the thing we love about books.

But how, you may ask does an ereader feel? (Not that anyone ever does.)

Hey, just fine! And you can adjust the type size! I was talking with a friend about this today—a constant reader and best-selling author who said she felt exactly the same way you do about the feel and the smell. Until she held a Kindle for…well, thirteen seconds was the time she gave, but honestly, I think it could have been twelve or fourteen—who’s that precise?

So if we’re in agreement here, what’s bugging me? Well, I guess I want to reassure you, if you’re in the love-the-feel stage. The bad news is, one day you’re going to go over to the dark side, just as, kicking and screaming, you gave up the old Underwood for a computer.

The good news is, it’s very unlikely paper books are going the way of the typewriter. Why should they? My husband gave me a Kindle three years ago and I never looked back. But my reading to this day runs about 50-50, digital and paper. I didn’t for a moment consider giving up paper books. And neither should you.

Listen, did movies drive out radio and did television drive out movies? And did DVDs kill both TV and movies and did streaming dispatch DVDs? Not yet, anyhow.

In fact, did CDs and MP3 files even kill off vinyl records? Well, more or less, but they rose up again like the Terminator.

New York publishers, maneuvering to stay in the game, are actually fancying up paper books for us, so much so that the New York Times ran a Page One story about it. Good way to clean up their act, in my opinion! Who likes shoddy books?

Another good piece of news—here’s a recent headline in that very same New York Times: E-Books, Shmee-Books: Readers Return to the Stores. Looks like a hardcover Christmas! Right alongside the digital one we all know is coming, the one that’s going to involve Kindle Fires, iPads, and downloads in record numbers.

So, relax already. Peace on Earth. Let the revolution come—and try to smile if you find a Nook under the tree.

About the author:
Julie Smith is the award-winning author of twenty novels and as many short stories. She’s a former reporter for the New Orleans Times-Picayune and the San Francisco Chronicle,  as well as a veteran of her own online writing school, plus an editorial service she founded with two other writers. She’s also taught writing at the  University of New Orleans and in numerous private seminars. During her long career as a novelist, she has created four mystery series, including two set in New Orleans where she lives, featuring homicide detective Skip Langdon and poet/P.I. Talba Wallis. In 1991, she won the prestigious Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Novel. Counting all the novels, all the stories in all the anthologies, the odd essay, and a progressive novel or so, her publishers include just about every big publisher– Ballantine, St. Martin’s, Tor, Walker & Company, Knopf,  Doubleday, Avon, Harper-Collins, Berkley, Warner,  and Oxford University Press– plus some smaller ones, including Akashic Books, Carrol&Graf,  Allen &Unwin, Taplinger, and Four Star.

You can find Julie on her website, Twitter, and Facebook.

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