Archive | August, 2013

You Can Lead A Writer To Water But You Can’t Make Them Drink

29 Aug

003You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.

I’m reminded of that old saying today as I read some articles written by people I follow on HP.  Yes there were some good ones, but many of them are the same old same old, or as my dad was fond of saying, same shit different day.

As a reader I want to be dazzled. I want to be entertained.  Now tell me of a reader who does not want those things.  Oh sure, many online are just looking for information, the McDonald’s drive-through source of all knowledge….but still, if you are trying to establish yourself as a writer and gain views, wouldn’t you think it would be a good idea to improve your craft and become a more interesting writer?

Well a miracle happened this morning. I read an article by a friend of mine who I have followed for about two months now, and she wrote a recipe article that was outstanding.  Hell actually froze over this morning.  Her introduction was exceptional. In fact, it was so good that I didn’t realize there was a recipe coming. LOL Read it here and see if you don’t agree.


Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.
Benjamin Franklin

It’s the teacher in me and I can’t help it. I want all writers to work on improving their craft.  I am so tired of seeing apathy and complacency and half-assed efforts in society today.  The idea of excellence seems to have very little relevance in today’s world and I think we all suffer because of it.

What have you done to improve your writing today?  Not last week, or a month ago, but today? What new technique have you tried? What tips have you incorporated into your daily writing routine?

I wrote an article last week about HubPages vs Bubblews, and for the most part it was well-received, but I had three people who were quite upset about it.  How dare I attack Bubblews?  I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about!

Well folks, the fact of the matter is that the article did not attack Bubblews…it attacked poor writing.  It was a metaphor about pigs (bad writing) and on HubPages the pigs are well-dressed, while on Bubblews the pigs are naked.  If those folks had taken the time to actually read the article instead of getting their panties in a knot over an imagined wrong, they would have seen the truth….bad writing is bad writing no matter where you post it!

I’m done. Let’s move on.


Pull out an old article right now and read the introduction.  Does that introduction grab the readers by the throat? If not then re-write it today.  One article…one introduction…half hour tops….do it! J


Use an intriguing example or a provocative question for your introduction. I have used this technique many times and it works wonders for grabbing the reader’s attention.



Have fun with it. Write an introduction based on an imaginary article about this picture prompt.


Tomorrow it will be time for A Moment With Bill, so I’ll wish you all a happy and relaxing weekend, and I’ll catch up with you on Monday. Thanks for stopping by, and remember that if you have a tip you want to share, or you want to write a blog entry as a guest writer, drop me an email at


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Writing and Paying the Bills

27 Aug

003Happy Tuesday to all of you.

“And what do you do for a living?”

“Well, I’m a writer!”

“Can you make a living doing that?”

That was a very brief snippet of a conversation I had this weekend while at the Street Fair. The guy who asked me that question was amazed….I say amazed…that I could make a living by writing.  I’m not sure if he really believed me.

There are so many ways to make money in this writing gig.  Are you making yours?  If so, what do you do? If not, what aren’t you doing?


The writer must earn money in order to be able to live and to write, but he must by no means live and write for the purpose of making money.
Karl Marx

And there is the eternal struggle for writers.  We have to make money to survive, but making money is not the true reason why we write.  A constant give and take battle if you will is always being waged.

I have to pay my bills…..I have to write for enjoyment…..the customer is always right….the customer doesn’t know a damn thing about good writing…..and on and on we go.

Yes, there are many ways to make money in this writing gig.  It is not always easy to find them, but they are out there.  Perseverance my friends. One step in front of the other my friends.  Don’t give up my friends.


Yellowstone 2009 123

Yes, it ties into today’s theme.


Look locally for article ideas for magazines and newspapers. There are interesting topics and ideas right outside your door in your own community, but you have to look for them.  I’ve got an article coming out on HubPages this week about this topic…writing travel articles from home.


Hunger Mountain Creative NonFiction Prize…first place wins $1000…deadline coming soon and I believe it is September 10th….read about submission guidelines here.


The Herbert Hoover Artist In Residence Program, held in Iowa, is a rather unique opportunity for two artists or writers each year. Read about it here.


Only two entries this week so I’ll see you again on Thursday, the 29th of August.  On the other three days you can always visit my other blog, A Moment With Bill.  You are always welcome.

In the meantime, give some thought to being a guest blogger on this blog.  If you want to share a writing tip or a favorite writing site, or just give some random thoughts about writing, I’m always willing to help a fellow writer. Drop me an email at if interested.


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Writing Goals and Focus

22 Aug

003And a very Happy Thursday to all of you.  What do you have going on in your writing world? What projects are you working on?  What goals do you have?

I guess that’s the topic for today:  goals.

Let’s start with a quote and move on from there.


When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.

Or, if you don’t like that one, how about a quote from my man Thoreau:

What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.
Henry David Thoreau

So, which of those do you like? I’m kind of partial to the Confucius quote only because I have seen so many people over the years give up on their goals because they did not reach them, when in fact their logical next move would and should have been to adjust their approach to their goals.

I don’t like seeing people give up.  I always tell people not to give up a minute before the miracle happens.  I am a believer in hard work, and I’m a believer in being goal-oriented.  I do not shuffle aimlessly through life; I know exactly what I want in writing and everything I do is aimed at those goals. I also know that success in writing takes perseverance and a willingness to hang in there despite the odds…and that may mean hanging in there for years before the goals are met.

So….what are your goals in writing and how are you doing with those goals? Do you need to make some adjustments?


hoover dam

Write a creative introduction for a story based on this picture.  It will take you five minutes tops and you might find it to be a helpful exercise in writing introductions.


The British Columbia Arts Council has some grants available with a deadline of September 15th. For more information look here.


The Mighty River Short Story Contest has a deadline of October 1st and a $15 entry fee. You can read the submission guidelines here.


Hey, I’ve got goals, and I need to go work towards them.  How about you? Any goals for today?


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Does Your Writing Have Rhythm?

20 Aug

003Happy Tuesday to all of you writers!  Are you ready to dazzle the masses?  Let’s start with a quote and then we’ll get down to business.


What is a poet? An unhappy person who conceals profound anguish in his heart but whose lips are so formed that as sighs and cries pass over them they sound like beautiful music.
Soren Kierkegaard

I’m not all that certain what Kierkegaard was trying to say, but I know what I heard from his words.  To me, good writing is like beautiful music.  There is a rhythm to good writing, just as there is to the coordinated notes played by a symphony orchestra.

Does your writing have rhythm, or is it a series of disconnected thoughts that couldn’t find flow in a raging river?  When I think of writing without rhythm I think of the word staccato.  It is like a short burst from an automatic weapon and equally as deadly.

So how do you develop rhythm in your writing? I’m glad you asked. J


Avoid extremely long sentences.  Long sentences tend to ramble without flow, and long sentences tend to lack punctuation. As you all know, punctuation is one of the great tools in establishing rhythm, so why not use it as it was intended to be used?


Something a little different today.  Here is a video of an orchestra playing Mozart.  Humor me and watch, and listen, to it here.  Now imagine those notes being your words.



I could write a story about this picture. Can you?


I have an article coming soon about Bubblews.  I decided to try it for a week and see what all the talk was about….so I did….and briefly, let me summarize my thoughts about that site…and about HubPages as well.  Are you ready?

Good writing is good writing is good writing.  Conversely, bad writing is bad writing is bad writing.  It makes no difference which site you write on, and it makes no difference whether you dress it up with pictures and videos and spacers and polls, or whether you do a vanilla extract….the quality of writing is what should be important.

There, I’m done until my article comes out.


I know, a short version today, but life is calling me….customers, obligations, goals and dreams…they are all calling me, so no contests today and not funding sites. I’ll give those to you on Thursday.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by.


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Writing With Randomness

15 Aug

003Welcome back and Happy Thursday!

I love this time of year; the days are noticeably shorter and there is a slight chill in the air in the evening, and quite frankly I find it much easier to write when the temperature is comfortable.

I’m all over the place today trying to decide what to write about, and yes, that is the topic for today…randomness.


I have never started a poem yet whose end I knew. Writing a poem is discovering.
Robert Frost

Thank you Robert Frost.  I thought I was the only one who wrote like that.

Here’s a look inside my writing process.  I see something….here something….think of something….and I’ll think huh, that would make a good article.  I then write a working title down and save it.  Eventually I go back to that working title and the article starts writing itself.  I have no clue how it is going to end, and it always manages to come to some point without too much of my help.

I love that process.  As Frost points out, it is a process of discovery and I find it exciting as hell.


“Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”

Yep, Frost again, and that, my friends, is writing at its finest.  If I even approach that kind of writing….if I ever get within a sniff of that quality of writing…I will be a very satisfied writer indeed!


July drive in Olympia 033

You don’t need me to tell you what to do with this….the road less traveled.


The Miami University Press Novella Contest is back and the deadline for a previously unpublished novella is October 14th.   You can find the submission guidelines here.


Throw nothing away.  Delete nothing.  Every single piece of writing you have done is valuable and who knows when you will find inspiration and need that short story you wrote ten years ago.

When I was a teen, records used to come out and the singles would have an A side and a B side. The A side was the big “hit,” the one the radio stations would be pushing, and the B side was supposed to be a nice tune but not of the quality of the A side tune.

I can’t tell you the number of times the B side tune became a huge hit while the A side tune sank into obscurity.

Throw nothing away!


Bubblews is the talk of the writing community right now, supposedly a site where passive income is made much faster than on sites like HubPages.  Give it a look here and see for yourself.


So much to do and so little time…welcome to my world, and your world, and yours, and yours…..

May you find all the time you need to chase your dreams.


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Rejections Are A Way Of Life In Writing

13 Aug

003Welcome back to the second full week of August. I trust you had a nice, relaxing weekend.  I was going to post this on Monday and then posted my other blog by mistake, but in the final analysis it really makes no difference now does it?  And that is the subject of our installment today….it makes no difference!


I really wish I was less of a thinking man and more of a fool not afraid of rejection.
Billy Joel

That’s right, I just quoted Billy Joel.  LOL

There are good rejections and there are bad rejections, and they are all necessary if we are to grow as writers.

A bad rejection:  when Mary Jo turned me down for the Junior Prom.

Okay, I’m kidding, but Mary Jo did break my heart and it was worth mentioning.

A bad rejection would be a scathing comment….being ignored by a publisher or editor….a bad review on your novel….any and all hurt, do they not?  Of course they do; we are only human and we all want acceptance.  We spend months and years on some works and then to have them callously rejected hurts to the core of our being.

A good rejection?  Is it even possible? I would say yes it is. I have received rejections from editors who told me they liked my voice and style but just couldn’t use that particular article.  There is no way that is not good news my friends.  A professional tells me they like my writing….that is great!

The bottom line is this:  rejection is a way of life in writing, and we had better find positives in it or get the heck out of the writing business. J


“Man, unlike any other thing organic or inorganic in the universe, grows beyond his work, walks up the stairs of his concepts, emerges ahead of his accomplishments.”
– John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, Ch. 14

That, my friends, is incredible writing.



Take a few minutes, look at the picture, and let your mind drift…what are you reminded of?  Now write about it as a writing exercise.


How about a contest for you nonfiction writers? The Lumina NonFiction Contest is accepting submissions from now until October 15th. Word limit is 5000 words and you can find it here.


Do your Thoreau imitation and walk through the woods soon, or at least take a nature walk of some sort.  Walk for fifteen minutes and then stop and jot down some ideas in that notebook you are supposed to be carrying around with you.


If not before….gotta run right now and get some stuff done. Customers just want their product; they aren’t terribly interested in excuses.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by.


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Breaking The Rules of Writing

9 Aug

003Welcome back and Happy Friday!

I’ve been dragging mentally and emotionally this week. Nothing I do pleases me, and doubts will always be with me regarding my abilities as a writer.  I’m pretty sure most of you reading this can relate.

Anyway, let’s start with a quote and then we’ll carry on.


Hell, there are no rules here – we’re trying to accomplish something.
Thomas A. Edison

I think old Thomas was onto something.

Listen, I can give you all the advice and tips you could ever need, but one thing is irrefutable:  if you don’t work at your craft and improve your writing, then don’t expect Fame and Fortune to come knocking soon.

Great writers break rules all the time, but they seem to have an innate sense of when to break rules for the benefit of the story they are telling or the article they are writing.


From Kurt Vonnegut, these tips to consider:

  1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
  2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
  3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
  4. Every sentence must do one of two things—reveal character or advance the action.
  5. Start as close to the end as possible.
  6. Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them—in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
  7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
  8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

The greatest American short story writer of my generation was Flannery O’Connor (1925-1964). She broke practically every one of my rules but the first. Great writers tend to do that.


The Juniper Prize For Poetry is accepting submissions until the end of September. You can find the submission guidelines here.


random pictures March 2012 008

Here you go…let your imagination loose and see where it takes you.


I know, this is short, but I guess you could say I just broke my own rule.  Get outside and enjoy one of the last summer weekends.  You deserve it.


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Marketing Your Writing

7 Aug

003Welcome back and Happy Wednesday!

It’s been quite a busy and hectic week for me, and I’m already looking forward to the weekend.

Today we’ll talk briefly about marketing.  How many of you have an unlimited marketing budget for your writing business, or for that matter any business you might have?  That’s what I thought…funds are a bit scarce, aren’t they?

A writer has to be quite ingenious in marketing his/her skills and product.  There are what, millions of writers out there, and they are all after a piece of the public pie, and that’s some serious competition…and few of us are lucky enough to have a major publishing firm to market our books…so it falls in our laps to do it.

I have written several articles about the marketing aspect of this business, but it all boils down to being creative and being persistent.  There are opportunities out there for you, but you have to want them bad enough to go find them.


Marketing is what you do when your product is no good.
Edwin Land

Yes, I’m laughing at that quote, but I’m also cringing, because all I have to do is look around at some of the products on the market to know this is true.

And it is true in the writing world. I am reminded of an author I once read religiously…Robert Parker, the author of quite a few “Spenser” mysteries.  Mr. Parker’s earlier works were quite good, but eventually it appeared that he was just going through the motions with his books. The plots were mundane at best, and the characters became stale and boring.  Once that point was reached, marketing was a major factor in getting those later books to sell.


Market locally and then spread out from there. Go to bookstores and libraries and ask to do readings and book signings.  Those places love local authors and they are always quite willing to give you time.  You might also contact local schools and ask them if their English teachers would like to have a local author stop by and discuss writing with the students.


Writers Marketing is a site designed just for this topic and it gives some interesting and helpful tips about marketing.  You can find them here.


The NEA gives a series of grants to artists/writers and you might qualify.  You can find their site here.



I hope you find these prompts helpful.  Who knows where inspiration will come from, right?


I hope you have a productive day, and thank you for stopping by.  Remember, you are always invited to do a guest blog for me about writing, or just share a comment about the subject of writing if you don’t feel like writing an entire blog.  Send it to my email address at

Thanks and have a great day!


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Baby Steps For A Freelance Writer

5 Aug

003Welcome back y’all. I hope your weekend was restful and trouble free.  Shall we begin a new week of writing?

Today’s topic is….making it as a freelance writer.

Two tips for you today.  Follow them…don’t follow them…I’m just tossing this stuff out there in hopes that some of it will help you.

#1  As a freelancer, nonfiction pays better than fiction.  Even if you are a fiction writer, you might want to consider turning to nonfiction for a regular paycheck.  The reason is simple:  people want to know things before they want to be entertained, and those who publish magazines understand this truth.  Check out magazines online or in a bookstore and you will see the truth in this….most articles are nonfiction and they answer a question.

#2  Gain some credentials by getting published somewhere, and the easiest market to get established in is the online magazine market.  You may not get paid for a lot of these gigs, but you will get a byline, and bylines are incredibly important as you build your writing platform.  You may all want to be published in Ladies Home Journal, or Cosmopolitan, but the reality is that when you are starting out the odds are against you.  Your odds increase greatly if you are a published writer….so start small and work your way up the ladder of success.


Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.
C. S. Lewis

Making it as a freelancer takes a lot of work, determination, and a willingness to learn…and that means learning from your mistakes and miscues as well as from your victories.  Freelance writing is a numbers game; for every article you get published you will be rejected dozens of times.  The good news is you will get better at the process.  The bad news is that experiencing failure is a must.


a foggy old pic 001

Have fun with the picture.  A little writing exercise if you will. What do you see?  Write a quick paragraph about it and maybe inspiration will come your way.


Family Circle Fiction Contest is accepting submissions now and it is absolutely free. It runs through September 16th and three submissions per person max.  You can find it here.


Writers Village has an online fourteen week course to improve your writing and increase your chances of being published and…..IT IS FREE.  Follow the link here to enroll…what do you have to lose?


Hey, I’ve got tons to do, so that’s all I have for you today.  Remember what I said at the outset of this posting….start small…start online….and most importantly, never give up.


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Struggling Is A Way of Life For A Writer

1 Aug

003Welcome back to another installment of Artistry With Words.  I hope this installment finds you productive and energetic, and I wish you well as you go about your day.

Times are tough right now for this writer financially.  The money is not flowing in on a regular basis; just one of those down times when one starts to question whether writing is all it’s cracked up to be.  Bills need to be paid, and that naturally leads to thoughts of working part time or full time to meet obligations.  I could substitute teach this fall to make some extra income, and that of course would take me away from writing, and that of course means a delay of my long-range plans.

Then I think of all the greats who came before me, and the struggles they had to endure to continue writing.  Many waited tables in cafes, and took extra jobs just to get by.  Many lived in poverty while they wrote, and many died poor never having realized financial security from their writing.

I guess the best way to describe what feeds me is to call it a passion, and thank God I have a partner in Bev who encourages me to continue and does not let money worries deter her from encouraging me.  We are a team, and we will either make it as a team or we will fail as a team, but we are united in our belief that I should be writing….that I need to be writing.  We have, in effect, bet it all on my writing abilities. No pressure there for goodness sake. LOL


Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.
Marie Curie

Often times, during these down times, my thoughts go back to my father.  He had no dreams, or if he did have any they were not known by those of us who he called family.  His job was to support his family, and I suspect that any dreams he had dried up during the Dust Bowl of the 1930’s.  He grew up understanding that a man works hard, dreams little, and goes forward one step at a time.

I admire that way of thinking and the work ethic involved, but I can’t give up my dreams, and I hope that you don’t give up on yours either.


Ah hell, I don’t feel like telling you about contests today. LOL….oh wait, my friend Sha wants me to include Writer’s Relief, so here it is.  Check it out….great ideas for submissions.



I almost forgot this…glad I didn’t. Have fun with it.


Hey, I met a new writer yesterday and thought I would share her with you.  Well, she isn’t a new writer, but she is new to me.  Her name is Randee and here is her blog.  I like what I’ve seen so far and I think you will too.


Seriously, I have to figure some things out, so that’s all you get. I hope you have a great day my friends…make sure you have a dream….and then make sure you follow it.

As with all things in life, this too shall pass, and brighter days will visit us. J


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”