Category Archives: Books

Creative Juice #101

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Creative Juice #101

A dozen sips of cool inspiration.

Guest Post: A+ Reading: 6 Books By Authors Who Were Also Teachers

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Guest Post: A+ Reading: 6 Books By Authors Who Were Also Teachers

This article has been reprinted with the permission of Writer’s Relief, a highly recommended author’s submission service. We assist writers with preparing their submissions and researching the best markets. We have a service for every budget, as well as a free e-publication for writers, Submit Write Now! Visit our site today to learn more.

 

As the school year winds down, many teachers will find themselves with a bit of free time on their hands. The upcoming weeks of summer break offer the perfect opportunity to focus on writing your book! And Writer’s Relief knows you’ll be in good company. Some of the most famous writers in history, and even major names in contemporary writing, have balanced writing and teaching—and succeeded at both! Check out these books that were written by authors who were also teachers:

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling:

Before creating the now-iconic Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, J.K. Rowling was an English teacher in Portugal. Teaching paved the way for Rowling to craft a record-breaking book and movie series aptly set in a school itself!

 

Lord of the Flies by William Golding:

Author William Golding spent a large part of his career as a schoolmaster, lecturer, and teacher. Golding educated young minds as a high school teacher while he simultaneously wrote one of the most frequently taught novels in the high school curriculum today.

 

Carrie by Stephen King:

Stephen King began his career as a high school English teacher and spent the little free time he had, namely nights and weekends, writing some of the most horrifically entertaining books of all time. It was the success of his novel Carrie that allowed him to focus on writing full time and dream up new ways to terrify book lovers and movie fanatics!

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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou:

A chief figure among Harlem writers, Maya Angelou used her voice to propel forward the civil rights movement. While she was an acclaimed activist, poet, and writer, she also worked as a professor at Wake Forest University!

 

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley:

If you aren’t an English major or you teach a subject that is worlds away from writing and literature, this doesn’t rule you out for becoming a successful author! Brave New World writer Aldous Huxley was a French teacher. Which brings us to…

 

Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell:

Did you know that one of Huxley’s students was George Orwell? Orwell, who is often cited as one of the most innovative writers of the twentieth century for his thought-provoking works Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm, thanks Huxley for inspiring his writing. (And Orwell became a teacher himself too!)

 

Question: Which book on this list is your favorite—or is next on your TBR list?

Guest Post: Using Amazon Categories to Sell More Books by Peggy Sansevieri

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Guest Post: Using Amazon Categories to Sell More Books by Peggy Sansevieri

Thank you to Peggy Sansevieri for this fascinating book marketing article which previously appeared on Writers in the Storm.

By now most authors know the importance of choosing great keywords on Amazon, but Amazon’s categories are equally important. Choosing the right categories can boost your exposure. And exposure drives book sales.

So, while it’s good to spend a lot of time focusing on keywords, you should also focus on finding narrow categories on Amazon. The reason to look narrow is this: categories with fewer books have lower competition for the #1 spot. And the top ten is a great place to hit, not only because it creates more visibility for your book, but Amazon’s algorithms kick in as you start to spike within categories.

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The BIG Secret about Amazon Categories

When speaking to a contact at Amazon recently, she told me they had rolled out ten categories for each book. Which means that instead of just two categories, you can have up to ten for each of your titles. Why is this good? Well, the more categories your book has, the more places it will show up. And because you have more flexibility now, you can pick some super niche categories, along with less niche ones. This is especially good in markets where there aren’t a ton of niches. Business books often sit in this segment. Having more categories levels the playing field a bit more.

How to Choose the Right Categories

First, when I talk about Amazon categories (and in previous posts I’ve done for this blog), you’ve probably noticed that I always refer to the eBook side of Amazon. This is because the categories on the eBook side are more creative because there are more of them.

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Creative Juice #99

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Creative Juice #99

For your weekend inspiration:

Guest Post: Why You Should Read About Writing by Kelsie Engen

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Guest Post: Why You Should Read About Writing by Kelsie Engen

This article previously appeared on A Writer’s Path.

The moment you think you know everything about writing, that’s the moment your writing plateaus.

Last week I talked about why writers should read voraciously. But that was a post focused on fiction. You know, reading in the genre you write. For instance, if you write fantasy, you ought to be familiar with fantasy and read it near daily.

But writers are, first and foremost, readers, and while it’s useful to read any fiction we can get our hands on . . .

Shouldn’t writers also read about writing?

Reading

 

Surprisingly, there are some people who don’t think writers should read about writing. (Or maybe they just find it boring.)

I mean, isn’t it kind of like reading about work or talking shop? Well . . . yeah. But there’s a reason we’re assigned reading in school, and there’s a reason that people “talk shop”: it’s how we’re taught new skills, understand what we’re doing wrong, how others do it right (or wrong), and why we aren’t good enough–yet.

Many of us writers never went to school for writing. Sure, we may have written the required essays in high school English class, or wrote a required short story in elementary school, all that jazz. But most writers these days don’t take the educational route and go to college and get a creative writing degree or an MFA in literature. Instead, today’s authors may study “literature” naturally through their independent reading and learn quite a bit. But at some point in your writing journey, you need a teacher. And that’s what books on writing do.

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“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” ― Ernest Hemingway, The Wild Years

1. You learn new skills.

Most obviously, the first reason you should read about writing is to learn something new. Even if you’ve been writing for twenty years, you may not have learned much about structure. Or you may not have learned exactly when to use a semi-colon, or you may not have learned how to write a short story.

All those things can strengthen whatever writing you do. Don’t assume you know it all–you never will.

“A person who won’t read has no advantage over one can’t read.” ― Mark Twain

Language is fluid, ever-changing. It’s something that we can always continue to learn, and always continue to improve.

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Creative Juice #98

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Creative Juice #98

A dozen creative ideas to inspire you.

Shel Silverstein

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Shel Silverstein

One of my favorite poet/illustrators is Shel Silverstein (1930-1999). I find his rhymes and accompanying drawings delightful. They were enjoyed by my husband’s elementary school students and by our five kids, and adults and children alike.

Not only did he write poems and draw illustrations and cartoons, he also composed songs and wrote plays.

Preparing to write this article, I could only find two volumes of his in my well-organized (—not!) library: The Giving Tree and A Light in the Attic. I’m sure we had more; who knows where they went.

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From A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein.

The Giving Tree is a picture book. It tells the story of a tree who loves a boy and over the years gives herself to him completely. I interpret it as a metaphor for mothering.

A Light in the Attic is a collection of poetry. I’m sure we also had Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends.  As someone who writes poetry and most often defaults to free verse, I am impressed by the quality of Silverstein’s rhymes. Sometimes he takes liberties (like rhyming water with oughtter), but the rhymes never feel forced or contrived.

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From A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein.

Silverstein’s whimsical illustrations remind me a bit of Dr. Suess, in that they are in turns amusing and a little nightmarish.

I remember three of his songs in particular, though I forgot (if I ever even knew) that he wrote them. “A Boy Named Sue” earned him a Grammy.

That one and this one, “The Unicorn,” got way too much airtime during my high school years. (Enough to almost make me think unicorns are dorky. Almost, but not quite.)

One song I love and that I sang with my kindergarten students when I taught music:

His work remains popular today. The Shel Silverstein website has resources for teachers to inspire their student poets, writers, and artists.

 

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