Speaking of Literary Merit

I do a lot of research, especially in regards to writer’s guidelines. A couple of days ago I read a writer’s guideline that said something to the effect that they only accept pieces that are of literary merit. They then added that if you didn’t know what that meant you should look it up.

I decided to do just that and here are some of the explanations that I discovered from Random House Dictionary and Collins English Dictionary. Like many of our words, this one is from the Latin, litterārius, which translates “as concerning reading and writing.” This is an explanation that is simple and to the point.

Other definitions include “pertaining to, or of the nature of books and writings, especially those classed as literature;” or “concerned with, or characteristic of literature or scholarly writing.” These definitions sound like the writings of a doctoral dissertation or discussions engaged in by those with a long list of degrees.

Other explanations included, “engaged in or having the profession of literature or writing.” I can easily accept this definition. All writing is a form of literature some good, some bad and some just for fun.

There are two other definitions that I believe fit this publication’s style. They are as follows, “characterized by an excessive or affected display of learning; stilted; pedantic” and “preferring books to actual experience; bookish.” Yes, I definitely got the impression from the publication that they did not want to review just anyone’s submissions. You would need the proper credentials and affiliations that would appeal to the elitist crowd.

In this regard, I also ran across another publication whose guidelines stipulated that you had to be an author of great regard to be considered for their e-publication for which they paid $10. I can just see tons of famous writers jumping on that option.

I will continue to write and consider my writing of literary merit. I write to add laughter, smiles and good memories to my readers. I do not write to solve the world’s problems. Besides those with the big brains aren’t doing too well on solving them either.

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If the Name Fits

Congratulations you’re delivering a new character – so you get to choose a name! This choice is very important as it can assist in connecting the reader to the story. If I am writing a story for young children I will use names with which they are familiar. Let’s say the story is geared to 8-10 year olds. I will go to the U.S. census and find what the most popular babies names were for that year. In that timeframe, one of the most popular names was Ashley. This gives some context to the reader as they will probably know someone who has that name. They will begin to put a face to that character from what they know. This draws the reader more into the story.

I also did this when I was writing a folktale. I wanted my characters names to describe who they are. So I went online to find a name that meant beautiful. I found several choices but the one I chose was Milana. It’s fun to look through the meaning for names and where they originated.

You may not always find a name for the word description you list. I tried to find a name that meant one who is slow and one who is lazy. I guess that’s a good thing. Could you imagine how you might feel if you discovered that was the meaning of your birth name? Can you say petition the court for a name change?

Here’s a great link if you want to look up names for fun or for writing… http://babynamesworld.parentsconnect.com/

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Books and Dating

I read an interesting article by Arielle Ford where she discusses the reasons someone buys a book. As for myself I will buy a book only if I can first actually hold it in my hand. I need to be able to read the synopsis and the info on the author. If I do buy a book online it is only after I have looked at it in hand.

I don’t really care where it is on the best seller list of The New York Times because I am not the “every person” reader. Nor do I base my decisions on someone else’s reviews. I certainly wouldn’t take into account a book store shelf talker as I would wonder if it is being highlighted because they just bought too many books.

I have quirky tastes and tend to stay within certain genres. You will never find me picking up a Harry Potter Book or any of the Twilight series. Though they are widely popular their storylines do not appeal to me. I do tend to be loyal to an author once I find that I like their story format. At times I pass on my favorite authors as the storyline has become too predictable.

When I have to start looking for a new author to read it is like the dating process. I have to first be attracted to the cover. I’ll look it over and compare it to the others on the shelf. Then we will say our first hello as I read the synopsis. The next stop is like going out for coffee as I get a little more background by reading about the author and maybe read the first few pages. If all that goes well we’re ready for the date or the book purchase. The reading is the romance. Unfortunately there is always the tender parting when the story is done. If it is part of a series there is always that chance for a more serious relationship.

If you’d like to read more about what Arielle Ford on “What Motivates the Book Buyer?” you can click here.

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What’s Your Bookmark?

I love to read many different books at a time.  So I need many bookmarks. My bookmarks are memory keepers. Some of them include actual bookmarks like the one that celebrated my local library’s grand re-opening or the one from the library on a past cruise. I also use ticket stubs from events and postcards from places I’ve visited but never got around to sending out. They do a great job in holding my place in a book but they also bring back great memories. And being a bit of a romantic I even have a pressed rose in a cherished book. That bookmark doesn’t get moved as it is too fragile.

Sometimes I love a book so much that I don’t want to finish it as it will be the end of a relationship. I will have to move on to another book. It is both a sad and a complete feeling when the reading is done.

I don’t have a house full of books as I believe in a catch and release method of ownership. I read a book and pass it on. I also buy extra copies of books that I especially love to pass on to others.

Here are some great quotes about books that I wished I had said…

If there’s a book you really want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it. Toni Morrison

Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it. P.J. O’Rourke

The best of a book is not the thought which it contains, but the thought which it suggests; just as the charm of music dwells not in the tones but in the echoes of our hearts. Oliver Wendell Holmes

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Guerrilla Book Marketing

Just read an interesting piece in Publisher’s Weekly about a writer who took to the streets in a new tack for promoting his new children’s book. He stood for hours in line for the Queen to pass by so he could hand her a copy of the book. He’s got the picture to prove it.

So here is the question of the day… Should he promote this action like those who giveaway their products to celebrities? Such as  “It is such a good product it was given in swag bags to celebrities.” An idea for a promotion could be “This book has been given to the Queen. Buy the book and give it to those you would like to treat like royalty.”

If you would like to read the full story click here. You may need to scrool down to the story.

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Finding Humor

Being a writer I am constantly looking into writer’s guidelines of all different sources. Who knows where I might find a niche for my writing. It is also fun to find out new writing sources. Sometimes I can read a story that is not my writing genre but can inspire me to write something that is.

Today I looked into Clarkesworld Magazine for their guidelines just for fun. If you want to learn more about their guidelines or read some sci-fi click here.  Though I am a fan of Arthur C. Clarke, Asimov and Heinlein, I can’t imagine writing science fiction in that style.  Got a kick out of their please don’t send ideas

  • stories where the climax is dependent on the spilling of intestines (What if those intestines contained the secrets of solving global warming?)
  • stories where the Republicans, or Democrats, or Libertarians, or the Spartacist League, etc. take over the world and either save or ruin it (We have enough politics on the news or pretend news)
  • sexy vampires, wanton werewolves, or lusty pirates (Are there others out there also waiting for the end of the vampire and werewolf madness?)
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Getting More from your Library

I am an avid reader and though my budget doesn’t allow me to buy all the books I would like to own, I can enhance my book supply temporarily by using my library card. At times when I have checked my local library to see if they have a book I would like to read, I have been disappointed that it wasn’t stocked there. My friend and mentor, Nancy Sanders, recently wrote about how to get that book to your library and it doesn’t entail buying and donating it. You can request it from your county library system.

I’ve often used this idea when I am buying an item from a store and they are out of stock but can have it shipped in from another location. It’s wonderful to know that this can be done with libraries as well.

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The Joy of Reading

When I was a child I looked forward to going to the library weekly in the summer to check out more books. It was not unusual for me to read 50 books in the summer in those early years. I did this for two reasons: I loved to read and I loved getting awards.

I still go to the library often in the summer and I see that libraries still encourage children to read with their summer reading programs. It is a joy to see young children checking out a stackful of books. My local library has a childrens section that is packed as tight as can be with books on all shelves and many books open on the top of the bookcases. As they are packed so full, I hope this doesn’t mean that the books aren’t being read. I hope it just shows that they want to have books for every child who wants a new book to read.

With as much as I still enjoy reading it is a pity that they don’t have summer reading programs with awards as they do for the children. If they did I would probably win top honors as I did as a child. Today if I’m not reading 5 books at a time, I’m not reading.

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A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Memories

Pictures evoke feelings and memories. My blog header is similar to a print I have in my home by Rembrandt of a single man walking along a tree lined path. To me it evokes a feeling of peace and tranquility – a time of reflection.

It is important to take time to reflect where we’ve been and where we’re going. We can’t change the past even though our memories may shade it differently. What we do today will direct our future. Make it a great day!

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