Hello, Magic 8 Ball: who likes questions as lead paragraphs?

Still available. Still fun!

Still available. Still fun!

Ask again later.

Not now.

The Magic 8 Ball may never reply, “How cute! A guessing game. What a coy way to begin your writing. Like a knock-knock joke without the laugh.”

More likely, when you ask the Magic 8 if it’s okay to start any writing with a question, the reply might be: “Throw me at your head. Then, you’ll know how I really feel.”

Fight the impulse to begin your novel, memoir, article, blog post or other writing with a question.Build trust, not annoyance. Your sources or your characters should be the ones who are applauded as cute. Readers will connect the dots later, realizing that you are the gifted storyteller.

Resist. Write. Rinse. Lather. Repeat.


Best editing advice in The Holy Bible?

By Kevin Probst [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Kevin Probst [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

“So the last will be first and the first last.”Matthew 20:16 (NIV)

Editors, do you have a troublesome paragraph? Check the last sentence first.

Is that concluding sentence what you should have opened with long ago? That other stuff might just be too much frosting and sprinkles on your literary cupcake.

You’re welcome.


Brad Wax Pack Book Balukjian odds-on favorite as 2017 baseball author rookie of the year!

1986ToppsPackTalk about fearless creativity!

Brad Balukjian is redefining literary transparency. He’s on a dream road trip, meeting heroes in preparation for The Wax Pack Book.

Brad opened a pack of 1986 Topps cards and vowed to track down all the cardboard immortals. From Randy Ready to Steve Yeager, the 13 men who appeared at random (with a vile slab of antique pink gum) are a fascinating baker’s dozen. What if a baseball card could talk 30 years later?

The book-in-progress is unfolding on Twitter, Instagram and Brad’s website. He’s sharing daily victories and setbacks, down to a scoreboard that tallies his total coffee intake.

His subtitle is “One Pack. No Turning Back.”

Brad has written articles for years, including sports pieces for the Los Angeles Times. But a book?

This quest began with a 75-page proposal, including a sample chapter (thanks to a weekend with former infielder Rance Mulliniks).

“Book publishing is so competitive,” Brad said. “Publishers want as little risk as possible.”

FIve agents clamored for Brad’s affiliation. After choosing representation, Brad was advised to finish his cross-country interview-a-thon before the agent would begin selling the project.

“In some ways, I don’t even consider this a baseball book,” Brad added. “I’m asking (the featured former players) about their fathers, their relationships, things no one has ever asked about.”

Don’t think that Brad will disappear before the project sells and gets published. “I’m thinking about podcasting, sharing conversations with other men featured in the 1986 Topps set.”

Clear space on your bookshelves now, baseball fans. The 2017 season is destined to begin with a bang, thanks to one man — and one wax pack.




Author Debra Dream Launch Barton hasn’t landed yet!

BartonDebraBookI remain inspired by Dream Launch, the debut title of author Debra Barton. The world doesn’t get a look at many writers after their creations appear. How do they keep their work in the public eye? Personally, how do they avoid an artistic letdown that keeps a second book from appearing?
Seeking Debra at her website, here’s her reactions to both questions:
“I believe all authors think their book will save the world.  It won’t.  But I was still surprised that my book was received well and it reached that Bestseller status.  I felt I was lucky to be in a good category.
“Continually promoting not just your book, but yourself, is important to keep you in the minds of potential readers and not just the ones online.  I had business cards made up and I pass them out to everyone and stick them on everything.  All I need is a ‘my name and my website.’  They can find me and learn about my book(s). Plus, I just happen to mention to people I am writing or have written a book.  It never fails to open up questions.
“I am a naturally helpful person, but when you are genuinely helpful (meaning you don’t expect anything in return), people respond and are willing to help you without even asking.  I have made some great connections with other authors and really enjoy the give and take of information and helpfulness.”
I asked if her book has kept pace with her expectations or hopes.
“After the initial push and things do naturally slow down as far as sales, I haven’t reached that low point yet – and maybe never will.  My expectations were high, of course, but I still was unsure about what to expect.  Sure I would like to have more sales, but more importantly I have learned lessons along the way that will be invaluable when I write my next book.  Hopefully, I will be able to pass my knowledge on to other new authors!  A lot of people think that if they don’t sell “x” number of books like Joe Author they are somehow a failure.  As I mention in my book, you either go forward or you learn something and there isn’t any failure in that!”
Lastly, I wanted to know if the author had heard Peggy Lee singing Is That All There Is? How do you keep the creative music playing after your book appears?
She replied, “Now what?  Write another book, of course.  I’m going to try my hand at fiction.  I have a novel that I started about four years ago that I would like to finish.  With the encouragement from my new-found community of friends, I have no doubt I will.”
The moral? Stop asking “If I write a book.” Edit your thoughts. “When” you write that book, what will your next moves be?

If Julia Child blogged…

Be like Julia: stop apologizing, start creating. By Original is polaroid photo taken by Elsa Dorfman in 1988 derivative work: Scewing Julia_child1.jpg: Elsa Dorfman (Julia_child1.jpg) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

Be like Julia: stop apologizing, start creating. By Original is polaroid photo taken by Elsa Dorfman in 1988 derivative work: Scewing Julia_child1.jpg: Elsa Dorfman (Julia_child1.jpg) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

“We ate the lunch with painful politeness and avoided discussing its taste. I made sure not to apologize for it. This was a rule of mine. I don’t believe in twisting yourself into knots of excuses and explanations over the food you make…Usually one’s cooking is better than one thinks it is. And if the food is vile,…then the cook must simply grit her teeth and bear it with a smile- and learn from her mistakes.” — Julia Child, from My Life in France

How many bloggers miss a day, only to write a gut-wrenching “where I was” post?

The readers came back. You came back. Like a pet says, “You’re here now!”

As you were.



Writing reader reviews: my karma throwdown

This isn’t about sales.


Hang on, authors. I’m on the way!

This is about hope.

I shut off my Kindle today, muttering that I should get around to leaving a review for another e-book I’ve enjoyed.

When I can. When I can get around to it.

No more.

I’m seeing too many authors ready to wave white flags. They have e-published, but feel alone. They did a good job, only to doubt themselves.

Here I come. By the end of 2015, there will be 52 more honest reviews posted on Amazon.com. That’s 52 minimum.

That’s the least I can do. Authors need us.

Who’ll join me?

Tootsie Roll Owl demystifies review writing

This commercial dates back to 1984. I discovered this and other gems at Youtube's RetroView Channel.

This commercial dates back to 1984. I discovered this and other gems at Youtube’s RetroView Channel. I hope the owl doesn’t take my orange Tootsie Roll Pop!

Who wants to evict writer’s block from the building in just five minutes?

Show of hands? That many. Good!

Find your creative power by reviewing. You don’t need a blog or a query letter.

Simply comment on what you do or don’t like.

Oh, you say you want to write a “good” review? Well, that would place you in the top 10 percent of the class. The secret comes with saying WHY. Why is the good good, or the bad bad? (Hint: longer is NOT better.)

Learn from the fine-feathered, wise old candy crook in the tree. A review isn’t algebra, requiring one process and one answer. All you need to reveal is what worked for you.

Make your own rules. Tell the story your way. Have fun again. Be YOU. It could start with one simple review.